Quality Talks!

Torch of The Faith News on Monday 27 October 2008 - 15:24:07 | by admin

faith_family_future_017.jpgThe weekend was chaired by Richard Marsden who will be familiar to many readers as the author of the blog Bashing Secularism. It was great to see a young and capable man using his gifts and talents as a journalist in the service of the Church.

Everyone at the conference will have a 'best bits' selection from the notably high level of quality talks. Some of our favourites (in alphabetical order) include -

davies.jpgFr. Jeremy Davies who spoke in one of the lounges about the Catholic Evidence Guild and its work at Speaker's Corner in London. Fr. Jeremy said something which hit a chord with things I have been saying, praying and researching for some time, when he said that the T.V. actually prevents us being really present to God, others and ourselves. His desire for the ancient tradition of street preaching to be continued and even revived also impacted on things we have both been discerning together for some time...

langridge.jpgHow great to hear that a man like Fr. Stephen Langridge is the Vocations Director for Southwark Diocese. A man with maturity, clarity of thought and sound insight into contemporary culture. Fr. Stephen encouraged us with his distrust of attempts to 'baptize youth culture' (including such oddities he had encountered as a 'teenagers Stations of the Cross' made with images of The Spice Girls and 007...); his promotion and practice of Adoration with young people; and his call to remain open to evangelising contemporary society - in short by seeing our efforts to build Christian homes and communities not as ghettos to which we may retreat, but rather as bases from which we may grow in order to reach out and bring people outside to Christ. He used the witness of Sacred Scripture to show that all things work together for those in Christ Jesus and that God often chooses the ordinary in life - and chooses them in their regular secular worlds - for example St. Matthew the tax collector! The key? Prayer and openness to God's Will and inviting and supporting young people to consider priesthood and religious life.

Over the midday dinner Fr. Stephen said something that deeply impressed me, when he explained 'I've never tried to be trendy with young people.' We have nevertheless seen him at Youth 2000 events at Walsingham surrounded by gaggles of young people. In his talk he had spoken of youth work as too often falling into entertainment or on the other hand exploitation of young people's desire to raise money for causes and had called for these tendencies to be replaced by inspiration to prayer and love of Jesus Christ. This connects to something we've said in earlier posts; that young people aren't looking for trendiness from the Church and her leaders but for God, truth, integrity, honesty, interest and understanding. All of which perhaps suggests the reasons for Fr. Stephen's noticeable attraction to young people and those considering a call to the priesthood. 

martin.jpgMrs. Martin's story touched us a lot. Like us, she has not been blessed with children of her own. God's healing of her heart in this matter at one propitious Easter Vigil led her to acceptance and the ability to seek new ways to respond to God's call to be open to life. She and her husband eventually adopted a family of children and have grown in the love of Christ through their sufferings and joys as a family.

faith_family_future_016.jpgFr. Aidan Nichols has been a theological hero of mine since reading some of his work while we were in America. To me his thought is deeply in tune with that of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. He also has a lot of very worthwhile things to say about the reconversion of England; a country which, he reminds us, came into being at the conversion of the Anglo-Saxon world to Christianity and subsequently had a key role in the development and growth of Christendom. He made a key, and often overlooked point, that the idea of secular society should be reclaimed because in fact all the world belongs to God and there should be no real split between the sacred and creation in this way. He suggested the word Civic as more proper in place of secular when speaking of the outside world which is governed by civil leaders. It is actually secularization - or even more properly De-Christianization - which seeks to marginalise the sacred in this manner. Fr. Aidan invited us to grow in the practice of family prayer and setting aside an altar or icon corner to create the sense of the sacred in the home. For all these reasons, and his monastic background, I suggested in a post a couple of months back that he (like Fr. Tim Finigan) should be seriously considered as a future bishop, or even as the next Cardinal of Westminster.


Fr. Luiz Ruscillo is a man we had heard many great things about - dynamic, bags of energy, hilariously funny, great with young people, orthodox and on fire for God - and they all turned out to be true! His talk encouraged families that they are fulfilling the true goals and measure of life by worshipping God and letting Him be the measure of their success and lifestyle rather than the world. He reminded us that God's Law is not a matter of doing things in order to achieve God's Love but of accepting an unmerited and free gift and co-operating with Him in responding to its blessings and requirements. He reminded us that some people who struggle with the Church's teachings need help to live them - not rejection - whilst also upholding those teachings with humility and integrity. He also called us to make parishes welcoming places for young people and encouraged fathers in their role of family leadership in parishes -saying that it makes a BIG difference when 'dad' leads his family to Mass. He called us to frequent confession, regular - even daily Mass - and family prayer. Fr. Ruscillo's work under Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue in the field of education just may yet turn out to make Catholic education and its schools a key and viable player in the re-evangelisation of British culture and the individuals in it. Let us pray for him and all those involved in this important work.

waldstein.jpgMr. Waldstein delivered an excellent talk written by his father (who was formerly a professor at the International Theological Institute at Gaming in Austria and now teaches at the inspirational Ave Maria University in Naples, Florida, USA). We knew of the Gaming institution because our alma mater Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio had an exchange programme there and the faculty provide an excellent MA specializing in Marriage and the Family. Mr Waldstein was introduced by a good man called Bob who recently graduated from Gaming and has 7 children with his wife Helen. He struck us as someone whose gifts, training and experiences could, and should, be usefully employed by the English Church in the evangelisation and pastoral care of families.

Mr. Waldstein's father's talk drew on John Paul II's Theology of the Body to underscore the importance of fathers in the role of bringing up solid families and thus helping to save Western society and bring it back to building the Civilization of Love. Particular highlights included the need to transcend the post-modern preoccupation with dominating nature and the making of things just for use in economics and entertainment, by a receptivity to God and other persons in humility and love. Such a world view would need fathers to spend time loving, listening, reading with and being really present to their children and wives and shunning contraception and utilitarian work ethics which are based in use of persons rather than in love. He also warned how modern youth culture and rock music have been antithetical to love and order in the home and thus in wider society. In all this Mr. Waldstein came across as a humble man who realised that such ideals are not achieved overnight but as gifts of God's Grace which nevertheless require much prayer, time and effort to realize.   

Highlights of the Conference

Torch of The Faith News on Monday 27 October 2008 - 14:10:03 | by admin

faith_family_future_003.jpgWe arrived late on Friday in time for a brief walk around the grounds of the All Saints Pastoral Centre. Perhaps a little star struck by meeting Fr. Aidan Nichols for the first time we had a sudden shock when Angeline thought she had lost her handbag... An unfruitful search, in the failing evening light, of all the places we had visited earlier resulted in me bordering on a Basil Fawlty moment, before we were inspired to return to the dinner table where the aforementioned Fr. Nichols and a few guests were gathered. Hanging innocently on the chair we had previously fled to begin the panicked hunt was the said handbag! Stress over, we found our room and crashed out for the night!


An early walk on Saturday morning yielded this shot of a most unusual tree; looking for all the world like some giant, spooky hand pushing up from the depths of the earth through the crisp frost and shrouds of mist!


During the day we saw this beautiful painting in the quadrangle cloisters before taking a breather in the fresh air of the inner quad itself.


A highlight of the weekend must have been the family Rosary after lunch in the crisp, fresh autumn air. faith_family_future_010.jpg

Another blessed experience was the nightime Blessed Sacrament procession through the grounds to a nearby chapel for overnight hours of Adoration. The whole scene brimmed with priests, altar boys, and young families; whose gleeful children bore sumptuous banners - and all was made awesome and majestic with the chant of hymns, the flicker of candles and the rich aroma of incense.

The Faith, The Family, The Future

Torch of The Faith News on Monday 27 October 2008 - 13:43:55 | by admin

faith_family_future_011.jpgWe've just returned from a blessed and uplifting weekend at The Faith, The Family and The Future conference held near St. Albans at the All Saints Pastoral Centre.

The Treloar family deserve special mention for all their enthusiasm, hard work, team effort and humility in pulling together this great work for the Lord. Many others gave of their time and gifts to make this both a very positive conference and deeply prayerful retreat. Clare Underwood and her family are also to be thanked for their sacrifice of time, for behind the scenes work and for organizing rooms, registration lists and getting name badges united to people!

The whole weekend provided a good opportunity to meet with couples, families, priests and religious who have accepted God's gift and offering to work with His Grace in trying to cooperate with His Universal Call to Holiness. 

Goodness, beauty and truth flowed through the various aspects from the Source and Summit of the daily Holy Mass, through the majestic Benedictions and hours of Adoration, to the opportunities for Confession and private prayer, to the excellent speakers, the family fun activities and the many hope filled conversations and chats over tasty meals and piping cups of coffee.

Overall we were struck by the hope for the future supported by people whose experiences, social and cultural backgrounds, and ways of living out the Christian life were diverse and yet unified around a central desire to follow Christ and the authentic teachings of His Church and to re-evangelise Britain whilst building the Civilization of Love.

We thank the Lord that we could have been a small part of all of this and look forward to future events.

All We Like Sheep...

Torch of The Faith News on Friday 24 October 2008 - 00:02:58 | by admin

sheep.jpgA great blessing about living here in Wales is the proximity of the Conway Valley and Snowdonia. A few days ago we were cruising through that beautiful region and we came across the above card in a Welsh gift shop!

In light of all the crazy things happening in post-modern Britain it seems to sum everything up quite well with the words of Mark Twain;

'Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority it's time to reform.'

And now that our society is about to embark on destroying human embryos to pursue so-called 'hybrid' human/animals - or what a priest we know calls The Beasts - then is it possible you'll one day have Dolly for a neighbour? 

'Ewe' never know!'

Oh dear... it would be funny if it were not so grave.

Our Lady of Fatima, and Blessed Jacintha and Francisco Marto - Pray for us!

Rather Odd!

Torch of The Faith News on Thursday 23 October 2008 - 23:48:51 | by admin

We've just read John Smeaton's Blog (see links) and he makes an interesting point about the enforcement of sex education on infants and juniors.

Mr. Smeaton notes that the Catholic Education Service seem to have made their press release about primary school sex and relationships education simultaneously with, and in a complimentary manner of, that of the British Government.

Isn't that rather odd - especially in light of our previous post?

And indeed, as Mr. Smeaton adds - should it not rather be their role to defend and uphold Catholic teaching on such matters in education against attempts 'to promote and entrench abortion culture on young people?'

It all seems rather odd... 

Protecting the Little Ones

Torch of The Faith News on Thursday 23 October 2008 - 20:05:06 | by admin

Good parents everywhere will be worried to learn today that the British Government is now pressing ahead to make 'sex and relationships education' compulsory in primary schools!  

logo_part2.gifCatholic parents should also be worried - very worried - that the 'Catholic' Education Service for England and Wales has found 'much to support' in the government's review. The CES has supported the priority which it is claimed will be given to establishing a 'values context' for all such education and that SRE in Catholic schools will be allowed to be shaped by Catholic teaching.

Oona Stannard, Chief Executive and Director of the CES says that;

'The statutory rights of parents to withdraw their children from sex education remain but it is our hope that parents will not find the need to exercise this right as children are likely to benefit from experiencing SRE amongst their friends and peers.'

Oona shows her policies to be in direct contradiction to the teachings of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church with that telling statement.

The Catholic Church teaches that;

'Each child is a unique and unrepeatable person and must receive individualized formation.' (Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality - Para 65).

And indeed;

'The years of innocence from about five years of age until puberty... This period of tranquility and serenity must never be disturbed by unnecessary information about sex.' (Para 78).

Let us pray for all parents caught in the headlights of this latest anti-Christian and anti-family intitiative of the British Government. Let us also pray that our bishops, priests and communities will support them. Don't leave it up to the CES as this concerns your family - your innocent ones.

As we said in an earlier post - parents know your rights in this regard. Get a copy of The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality issued by the Pontifical Council for the Family and band together with other concerned parents. Make sure that you see all materials that the school intend to use with your children and do not be cowed by pressure. Know that the rights of the family come before the rights of government in a just and humane society.

And if you are so able we would strongly recommend that this is now the time to consider the home schooling of your children.
St. Richard Gwyn, St. Maria Gorretti, St. Dominic Savio, St. Joseph the Worker and Our Lady of Fatima - pray for all children, parents and families in this matter! 

Atheists Miss the Bus!

Torch of The Faith News on Thursday 23 October 2008 - 18:58:25 | by admin

buses.jpgHat-Tip to Catholic Action UK for pointing this daft initiative out!

It seems that the British Humanist Society have raised £36,000 to have these childish posters pasted upon the sides of London buses for a month. They claim that there is 'Probably no God. Now Stop Worrying And Enjoy Your Life'...

Hmmm... We're actually enjoying ours just fine because we believe in God and His Holy Church. Indeed, because of our faith, we are much happier than without it. We have a hope in this life and beyond it! Imagine being consigned to the daily drudge and commute on such buses if there were no eternal purpose to it!

Perhaps that is why suicide is becoming one of the main reasons for death amongst the young in Western society? It seems that not having belief in God is actually making people unhappy. That is why He invites us to call out to Him in our quiet times and invite Him into our hearts - anyone can do this in the privacy of their own home. Then we can become open to His deep peace and rest of soul which the world cannot give. You see, for the faithful Catholic everything is loaded with meaning - even being stuck on a steamy and creaky bus full of tired commuters!

Is religion then a crutch? We would say it was more of a cross! That is, one has to suffer for one's faith in today's society because of just such myopic schemes. Imagine the case of the Christian, Jewish or Muslim bus driver who is forced to take out one of these buses with such a logo. (Or, as on Merseyside, other logos advertising so-called Adult shops). Obviously, such a driver could not drive such vehicles on conscience. Then they would be faced with disciplinary action - maybe even the sack. That won't bother your smug atheist, but it will have ramifications for the sincere believer who just wants to get on with an honest day's work... and it will effect his poor family. 

Fortunately, such crosses lead to the Resurrection. Indeed, about a year ago tram drivers in Lithuania refused to drive their trams while homosexuality was being promoted on posters emblazoned down the sides of the trams. They won their case. Hopefully, more Christians will have the courage to stand up for their faith and convictions in our country too. When that happens they will suffer the cross - for a while - but they will eventually see the Resurrection and receive the choicest Graces for their faithfulness.

And, (as ever with martyrdoms), non-believers begin to see that people with such convictions would not act so for no reason. They would only do so for something that is true. Indeed, for someone who is Truth! Praise to Jesus Christ whose cross Christians are called to carry all the way up their own Calvary to the Resurrection!

We wonder if the bus corporations would be as quick to allow Christians to advertise - this being an 'inclusive' society after all... And if they did, wouldn't that be an idea to pursue!

A Tragic Day in British History

Torch of The Faith News on Thursday 23 October 2008 - 08:47:52 | by admin

To quote John Smeaton of SPUC;

'This is a tragic day in British history.'


Because the House of Commons voted 355 to 129 in favour of the evil HFE Bill.

However...there is some good news which could still save thousands of lives - Thanks in no small measure to the massive and unified efforts of the people of Northern Ireland to resist the amendment to the HFE Bill, which would have foisted abortion on them against their democratic will, the British Government found it more practical to prevent any of the other barbarous amendments from going through.

Thus we were spared the spectre of abortion in Northern Ireland, the threat of abortion being seen as 'on demand' (through only requiring one doctor to sign for abortion and the removal of the 'mental health' clause), the threat that nurses and midwives may have been allowed to commit abortions, the threat that abortions may have been carried out anywhere health services where offered, the grave danger that abortion drugs may have been allowed to be taken at home without supervision, and the threats against pro-life counselling groups.

These evils we have been spared. For this we must give thanks to God and to the people of Northern Ireland for their unified voice. Other voices consistently stood out also... including as ever the loyal Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue of Lancaster, Cardinal Keith O'Brien of Scotland and John Smeaton of SPUC.

Nevertheless our prayers must not cease now. As we know we already do have abortion on demand in the practical sense and now we are faced with the reality that a very evil law has been voted through the Commons which poses a grave threat to embryos and to the very dignity of the human person through allowing so called 'hybrid' animal-human cloning; an insult to humanity and to God who became Incarnate as man.

Friends in Christ, and all people of good will, let us continue to pray for the cause of life and for true peace. For as Pope John Paul II once stated;

'A great prayer for Life is urgently needed.' 

St. Paul and Christian Hope

Torch of The Faith News on Tuesday 21 October 2008 - 11:10:34 | by admin

sao_paulo_2.jpgAlan's mum and dad recently gave us a copy of the new St. Paul Prayer Book by Family Publications.

This contains a selection of his inspired writings from Sacred Scripture, simple prayers invoking his assistance, and beautiful images largely taken from stained glass portraits of this great saint and pillar of the Church. 

The opening page has a quotation from Pope Benedict XVI's talk given on 17th April 2008;

'Saint Paul speaks... of a kind of prayer which arises from the depths of our hearts in sighs too deep for words, in 'groanings' (Rom 8:26) inspired by the Spirit. This is a prayer which yearns in the midst of chastisement for the fulfillment of God's promises. It is a prayer of unfailing hope, but also one of patient endurance and, often accompanied by suffering for the truth. Through this prayer, we share in the mystery of Christ's own weakness and suffering, whilst trusting firmly in the victory of His Cross.' 

These words of our Holy Father seem to sum up so well the experience of so many of those in our land who try in sincerity to follow Our Lord's command to 'Go therefore and make disciples of all nations' (Matt 28:19) whilst encountering all manner of obstacles and opposition.  

sau_paulo.jpgSt. Paul himself provides the impetus to further hope and encouragement;

'Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, 'For Thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.' No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all Creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.' 
(Romans 8:35-39)

So be of good heart this day - if you are being persecuted, ostracized, or opposed for Jesus Christ and His Truth - then you are actually doing things right and in all these things are more than conquerors!  

St. Paul - Pray for us!


Rally for Life in Northern Ireland a Great Success!

Torch of The Faith News on Monday 20 October 2008 - 16:06:26 | by admin

Hat-tip to John Smeaton of SPUC from whose blog this picture and the quotes are taken.

1,000's turned up yesterday for the Rally for Life in Northern Ireland to protest against the undemocratic enforcement of abortion on the people there by the proposed amendment to the already gravely evil HFE Bill (which will be read in the Commons this week).

Jeffrey Donaldson, Chair of the All Party Pro-Life Group of the N.I. Assembly, and Deputy First Minister in the N.I. Executive said,

'Our opponents say this issue is about equality. Well, where is the equality for the people of Northern Ireland when they can have no say over legislation they don't want? The Good Friday Agreement, the Belfast Agreement says that all legislation in Northern Ireland must have public consultation. There must be an impact equality assessment. Where is the public consultation?

Iris Robins MP, MLA, Chair of the N.I. Assembly Health Committee proclaimed,ireland_rally.jpg'Abortion in Northern Ireland? Never, never never. Ulster says no to abortion. We will not be silenced... I believe it is the duty of government to uphold God's Law. We need to fast and pray in the coming days... In 2006, 98% of abortions in England and Wales were for 'social reasons'... Stand with me. A majority of people must have the moral conviction to say ''Not in my name!''

If you have not contacted your MP yet - there is still time to protest against this and the other anti-life amendments. Call (020) 7219 3000 and ask for your MP. Or, find their e-mail from www.spuc.org.uk/mps.
sv400144.jpgGood to see Bernie Smyth, leader of Precious Life (of whom we have blogged on an earlier occasion) was speaking at the Rally which she also organised. Bernie held in her arms her granddaughter (!) who was born just 2 days beyond the time limit for 'social abortions' and who requires oxygen every day. Please pray for little Grace Kelly and her family and for Bernie and all the hard work she and her supporters are doing to keep Northern Ireland abortion free.

St. Patrick of Ireland - Pray for us!


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