Feast of St. Thomas of Canterbury
Torch of The Faith News on Thursday 29 December 2016 - 15:08:54 | by admin
Stained glass image of St. Thomas in Canterbury Cathedral.
I've mentioned before how St. Thomas Becket has been one of my heroes in the Catholic Faith since the days when I used to pray beneath his image, in a disused chapel at Ushaw seminary, in the late 1990's.
Indeed, on this feast-day last year, I posted up a more full treatment of St. Thomas' life story and the development of his cult throughout Europe in the Middle Ages.
The sword-damaged pavement where St. Thomas was martyred in Canterbury Cathedral, on this day in 1170 AD.
I also spoke, on last year's feast, about a pilgrimage that Angie and I had made in 2013 to pray before the actual sword-damaged pavement where St. Thomas was martyred, in Canterbury Cathedral, on this 29th day of December in 1170.
At that hallowed spot, a place which was once a major European pilgrimage centre, we prayed for the reconversion of England, the defence of Holy Matrimony and the building of a Culture of Life in these isles.
As a martyr for the rights of Christ and His Church, St. Thomas remains one of the most important and inspiring saints in the whole history of England, Europe and Western civilization in general.
During the summer of 2013, I fulfilled a long-held ambition to pray in the ancient Trinity Chapel at Canterbury. A lone candle now marks the original site of St. Thomas' medieval shrine; like so many others, it was sadly destroyed during the turbulent reign of King Henry VIII...
The beautiful shrine of St. Thomas in Canterbury Cathedral's Trinity Chapel was once a site of much prayer and countless healings. Throughout the 364 years following after St. Thomas' death, the shrine drew many thousands of pilgrims from all over Europe. This grace-filled period ended abruptly with the depradations launched during the troubled reign of King Henry VIII. The solitary flickering candle pictured above is all that now marks the spot where St. Thomas' jewel-embellished shrine originally stood.
Perhaps St. Thomas' martyrdom offers two models of Catholic heroism: When the knights of King Henry II first attacked him, he initially defended himself, and the episcopal dignity of his office, by physically seizing Richard FitzUrse by his coat of mail and dashing him to the ground. He also announced to his murderers that he was prepared to die to defend the rights of God and His holy Church. St. Thomas was a true man.
Having made this initial bold defence, St. Thomas next imitated the humility of Christ by going silently before the High-Altar to pray. He there commended his soul to Our Lady, St. Denis and St. Alphege. As the knights repeatedly struck his head with their swords, the dying St. Thomas murmured: ''For the Name of Jesus, and defence of the Church, I embrace death.'' St. Thomas was a true priest.
Hugh Mauclerc, nick-named the ''Evil Clerk'', placed his foot on St. Thomas' neck, inserted his sword into one of St. Thomas' head wounds and scattered his brains onto the pavement with the words, ''Let us go knights, this fellow shall arise no more!''
Mauclerc was wrong, for an apparition of St. Thomas was seen that very night by one of the monks, resplendent in dazzling vestments of red and white to represent both martyrdom and purity, approaching the High-Altar as if to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
In 1174, four years after the brutal murder, King Henry II did public penance at St. Thomas' tomb in the cathedral. The four repentant knights received absolution from their excommunication; on condition that they each serve fourteen years in the Holy Land by way of penance.
Our St. Thomas key-fob: A daily reminder of this great saint's heroic life and witness. May he inspire us all in these days of trial for the Church.
Whilst at Canterbury in 2013, we purchased this key-fob for our car-keys. Although it is now looking a little battered, chipped and scratched after more than 3 years of use, this still provides us with a daily reminder of St. Thomas' remarkable life and witness.
I am not sure what St. Thomas would make of the fact that heavily armed police have since been brought in to patrol the cathedral precincts, following the Islamist terrorist attacks in Europe during the summer of 2016. Talk about a cultural indicator...
Let us conclude with a brief story regarding an exchange that took place between St. Thomas and King Henry II during their intense and stormy friendship.
One day, in Northampton, King Henry asked the saint why it was that he would not do the king's bidding in Church-State relations; especially given that the regent had raised the saint from poverty and lowliness to the very summit of rank and honour.
With great courage and simplicity of heart, St. Thomas, the Archbishop of Canterbury, former Chancellor of the Exchequer and king's friend, answered with the words found in Acts 5:29: ''We must obey God rather than men''.
May this be a message that we all take to heart for the times ahead.
St. Thomas of Canterbury - pray for us!
Torch of The Faith News on Wednesday 28 December 2016 - 15:49:48 | by admin
A real Santa; but a poor substitute for St. Nicholas.
Ho, Ho, Ho! The Real Deal
I suppose it would not be Christmas without some old red with a white beard attempting to lead us all away from the true meaning of Christmas. Then again, although the traditional Santa bearing gifts might represent something of a mutation from good St. Nicholas, at least you won't find Santa sprouting any outright heresies during the days of this holy season.
Which is more than can be said for some people...
You're Not Santa Claus! You're... You're... Awwww, Ma' its Leonardo Boff!
Nobody likes a fraud: The moment when Will Ferrell's Elf discovers a phony Santa in a false beard...
Take for example the excommunicated Commie-friendly heretic, Leonardo Boff. Notwithstanding his excommunication and links to the Communist Sandanista government of Nicaragua, Boff was able to boast on a Brazilian TV-show last year that he had been chosen by Pope Francis to provide ''ecological input'' for the environmental encyclical Laudato Si.
I've mentioned before how interesting it is that so many ''former'' Communists have, erm, ''evolved'' in the modern era to become advocates of the so-called green movement; with all of its calls for global governance, economic strictures and population control...
Real white beard, genuine red shirt. Alas, some phony theology...
Sounding for all the world like the Grinch that stole Christmas, Boff re-emerged this week to give an interview with the German regional newspaper Kolner Stadt-Anzeiger, in which - according to 1 Peter 5's translation - he claimed that: Pope Francis was so angry about, and engaged with countering, the Letter of the 13 Cardinals during Synod '15, that he was not able to meet Boff in person in Rome; that the Modernistic Kasper recently bragged to Boff about some ''surprises'' that Francis has planned - and I don't think he meant Christmas goodies for the kids; that Francis intends to enable his Communist-friendly chum Cardinal Claudio Hummes to introduce married priests to Brazil; how Francis specifically asked Boff to provide environmental material for Laudato Si and thanked him afterwards; and that Boff described Francis as ''one of us''.
Boff even used the opportunity to deliver a broadside against the 4 Dubia cardinals for ''publicly accusing the Pope of spreading theological mistakes or even heresies''. He suggested that this was ''something unusual, if not unprecedented'' in the history of the Church.
In this, Boff seems to show a lack of awareness of Church history, and even of his own history of radical dissent from the Magisterium.
It certainly comes to something when an excommunicated radical takes the side of a Pope against orthodox prelates and their defence of orthodoxy.
Then too, I don't know about you, but if some excommunicated heretic with background linking him to the Communist Sadanista government - especially given all of that government's historical involvement with the dreaded Romanian Stasi - was describing me as ''one of them'' I would be at great pains to deny the charge, clear my own name and defend the Faith from Communist misrepresentation.
Still, it is the Christmas hiatus in Rome...
2. Another Phony Santa - its Eugenio Scalfari!
Real white beard, authentic red shirt. Unfortunately no real transcripts...
On 22nd December, Gloria TV broke the news to the English-speaking world that Eugenio Scalfari - Pope Francis' atheistic friend with the revolutionary pro-divorce, pro-abortion and Communist background - had suggested that Francis recently described St. Paul, in classical post-modern deconstructionist terms, as ''the one who constructed our religion''; as well as stating that Francis agreed with the heretical Lutheran thesis that lay people celebrated the Sacraments and led the Church in the earliest decades of Catholic history.
As though Jesus did not found the Church and the sacred priesthood on St. Peter and the Apostles...
This reductionist notion originated with Francis' favourite heretic Martin Luther and morphed into the post-modern ''religious critique'' found in so many liberal universities today.
Once again, the Vatican of Francis remained silent in the wake of this latest bombshell of an interview with Scalfari.
No Ho Ho! It's Not So Funny...
Santa Claus: Authentic white beard, truly red vestments, 100% Catholic orthodoxy. He's the real thing!
It is strange how we have become so accustomed to radical ''interviews'' with Scalfari, followed by a by-now typical Papal silence, that such interviews no longer even seem to be bombshells. Really, they would only be newsworthy now if Francis actually proclaimed something half-way orthodox.
It's notable, though, how these kinds of ''interviews'' come in waves like this. Especially at times of religious feasts and such like. It is almost as if they were being coordinated from somewhere to disorientate believers...
Merry Christmas, Mr. Scrooge!
Anyway, please don't think that our recent silence on these issues in any way implies some kind of truce, or worse a retreat...
On the contrary, we are well aware of these ongoing matters. It is just that, well, we have been trying to keep our focus on the Christ Child and His ultimate victory over evil - and evildoers.
Aw, let these post-moderns get on with it, just for today! Right now, I'm off to watch the 1970 Albert Finney version of A Christmas Carol with my family.
The conversion of Ebenezer Scrooge: False white beard, replica red suit, but a renewed heart!
Merry Christmas, don't let 'em get you down and Keep the Faith!
Feast of the Holy Innocents
Torch of The Faith News on Wednesday 28 December 2016 - 14:49:04 | by admin
On this day each year, the Catholic Church commemorates the little children who were massacred by King Herod in his attempt to destroy the promised Messiah and King.
Each of these little ones received wounds that were intended for the Son of Mary: they were martyrs but unknowing. Today's Holy Mass is offered not in red, but in purple to recall the weeping and lamentation of the bereaved mothers.
In latter years, many Catholics also draw from today's feast to highlight the plight of the babies that are sadly massacred by the contemporary scourge of abortion.
This being the case, it seems a good opportunity to highlight two good charities that work tirelessly throughout the year to protect and save the unborn. As these two charities are always in need of extra funds, we encourage readers to send them a Christmas gift wherever possible.
1. Good Counsel Network
A few days before Christmas, we received the latest newsletter from the excellent Good Counsel Network. This highlighted the latest ''tales from the trenches'' and information about upcoming events. It also included a heartening list of some 69 babies who have been saved from abortion through the Network's apostolate in England this year.
Regular readers will recall that Good Counsel Network were subjected to some inaccurate media attacks during the autumn months. In light of these attacks, and the amazing work that Good Counsel Network accomplishes each year - through orthodoxy, prayer, kindness and sheer hard work - we encourage readers to please pray for the team and send them Christmas season donations to: The Good Counsel Network, P.O. Box 46679, London, NW9 8ZT (Please make cheques payable to The Guild of Our Lady of Good Counsel).
2. Precious Life
We received a beautiful Christmas card again this year, featuring a marvellous depiction of the Nativity scene, from Northern Ireland's splendid Precious Life team. Every year, on this Feast of the Holy Innocents, a good priest in Northern Ireland offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the supporters of Precious Life.
The November newsletter from Precious Life gave news of a number of initiatives the team had been involved in throughout this year. We especially loved the above-pictured image from the latest Personhood Begins at Conception campaign.
This is being run to give an urgent call to the Northern Ireland Assembly that every person must continue to be legally protected from the moment of conception from the threat posed by proposed amendments to Northern Ireland's laws. For example, Amnesty International and Alliance Party Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) David Ford, recently tabled a Private Members Bill to change the law to allow abortion of unborn babies with life-limiting conditions right up to the very moment of birth.
In addition to this important initiative, Precious Life has also been involved with the All Ireland Rally for Life in Belfast, a second annual roadshow with Youth for Life, the Stanton Healthcare Belfast project to provide information, help and advice to pregnant mothers, and a perinatal hospice care conference in Belfast during September.
Just a few weeks ago in November, Precious Life also challenged Amnesty International's claimed 45,000 signature demand for the legalization of abortion in Northern Ireland, by gathering and presenting some 300,000 pro-life petitions to the Stormont Parliamentary Buildings. This gave a powerful reminder that the pro-life majority in Northern Ireland do not want abortion.
Readers can support Precious Life's ongoing work by sending donations to: Precious Life, P.O. Box 425, Belfast, Northern Ireland, BT14YF.
Please keep Good Counsel Network and Precious Life in your daily prayers.
Christmas Every Day!
Torch of The Faith News on Tuesday 27 December 2016 - 00:37:49 | by admin
Et verbum caro factum est - And the Word became flesh.
The 70's glam-rock song ''I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day'' is pretty well ubiquitous in England's shopping centres during the lead-up to the Christmas season. Of course, having celebrated ''X-mas'' since mid-November, the secular culture has moved on from Christmas by now, with the ''January'' sales already in full swing.
In the Catholic Church, however, we are still close to the beginning of the grace-filled Christmas season.
Today's feast of St. John the Evangelist can help us to remember that, even beyond the Octave of Christmas and the 12 Days of Christmas, Catholics really do have Christmas every single day of the year.
This is particularly brought home in the Traditional Latin Mass, which always ends with the Last Gospel from the Gospel of St. John.
Close to the end of that Gospel, the priest proclaims St. John's words: ''ET VERBUM CARO FACTUM EST'' (AND THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH).
At the moment those words are pronounced by the priest, he and the entire congregation fall to their knees in reverent awe at this central mystery of our Faith.
In the same way that the very celebration of Christmas - Christ's Mass - originally came through the Catholic Church, so too does the chance to really have Christmas every day of the year.
So there we have it: Become a traditional Catholic and have Christmas every day!
Feast of St. Stephen
Torch of The Faith News on Monday 26 December 2016 - 15:56:15 | by admin
Today's feast of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, provides a timely reminder that the Nativity Crib of Christmas is not just a cozy scene to make us feel good in winter. As the first of the martyrs, St. Stephen's feast is associated closely with that of the newborn Christ. In St. Stephen we glimpse something of the truth regarding real discipleship of Christ; it is a love which will entail self-sacrifice and death to self. Such is true of all loves worthy of the name. How much more this is the case in response to Jesus, Who has given His very life for us.
St. Stephen's feast reminds us, too, that Our Lord's salvific mission leads from the Manger of Bethlehem on to the Cross of Calvary; and on all the way to the Resurrection on Easter Sunday.
In the late 5th and early 6th-Centuries, St. Fulgentius was Bishop of Ruspe, in North Africa. He preached a famous sermon about St. Stephen, which follows below. The opening words of this sermon tell us something of the early provenance of this feast. When we celebrate these ancient feasts of the Catholic Church, we draw from, and take forward, the rich depths of treasure in the Sacred Tradition. As you will see, this sermon still has much to teach all of us in these days of intensive trial for the Church.
The Weapons of Love
Yesterday we celebrated the birth in time of our eternal king; today we celebrate the triumphant death of a soldier.
Yesterday our king put on the robe of flesh, and coming out of the court of the Virgin's womb, deigned to visit the earth. Today a soldier leaves the earthly tabernacle of his body, and goes up in triumph to Heaven.
Our King, though He is most high, came for our sake in great humility, but He could not come empty-handed. He brought with Him, as it were, a great bonus for His soldiers, which not only made them abundantly rich, but also gave them strength to fight and conquer. The gift He brought was love, which brings men into fellowship with the Godhead.
What He brought He gave away freely. But the wonder of it was this: while He made rich the poverty of His faithful followers He did not take away from His own greatness, but remained filled with never-failing treasures.
The love then that brought Christ down from Heaven to earth, lifted Stephen from earth to Heaven. The love that showed itself first in the king, shone forth next in the soldier. And Stephen, so as to deserve to win the crown - which is what his name means - had love as his weapon and by it was everywhere victorious.
Through love of God he did not yield to the raging of the Jews, and through love of his neighbour he prayed for those who were stoning him. Through love he accused those who were in the wrong that they might be corrected. Through love he prayed for those stoning him to save them from punishment.
Trusting in the strength of love he overcame the cruel raging of Saul, and so won for himself a companion in Heaven, the man who had been his persecutor on earth. This holy and untiring love ardently desired to acquire as converts by his prayers those whom he had been unable to convert by argument.
And now Paul rejoices with Stephen, with Stephen he enjoys the brightness of Christ; he exults with Stephen, he reigns with Stephen.
What a really true life must there be now, brethren, where Paul is not put to confusion although he killed Stephen, but where, instead, Stephen rejoices in the fellowship of Paul; for in both of them love itself rejoices. In Stephen, love overcame the ferocity of the Jews, in Paul it covered a multitude of sins, and in both of them love deserved to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.
Love, therefore, is the origin and source of all good things; it is a most excellent defence, the road that leads to Heaven. Whoever walks in love can neither stray nor be afraid. Love guides, love protects, love leads to the end.
Christ our Lord, brethren, set up for us this ladder of love, and by it every Christian can climb to Heaven. You must, therefore, keep a firm hold on love, you must show it to one another, and by progress in it climb up to Heaven.
From a Sermon by St. Fulgentius of Ruspe
May the graces of this Christmas season, and the prayers of St. Stephen, help us all to grow in love and holiness.
St. Stephen, the first Christian Martyr - Pray for us!
A Blessed and Holy Christmas to You All!
Torch of The Faith News on Sunday 25 December 2016 - 00:36:11 | by admin
We wish all of our readers a blessed and holy Christmas! Thank you for your readership and prayers. Here is a Christmas Day reflection from the great St. Alphonsus de Liguori for your edification on this great feast.
The Birth of Jesus
What rejoicing is there in a country when the first-born son is born to a king! But surely we ought to keep still greater festival when we see the Son of God born and come down from Heaven to visit us, urged to this by the bowels of His mercy: Through the bowels of the mercy of our God, in which the Orient from on high hath visited us (Luke 1:78). We were lost and behold Him who came to save us: He came down from Heaven for our salvation (Credo of Nicaea). Behold the shepherd who came to save His sheep from death by giving His life for their sake: I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd giveth His life for His sheep (John 10:11).
Behold the Lamb of God, who came to sacrifice Himself, to obtain for us the divine favour, and to become our deliverer, our life, our light, and even our food in the most Holy Sacrament!
St. Maximus says that for this reason, amongst others, Christ chose to be laid in the manger where the animals were fed, to make us understand that He has become man also to make Himself our food: ''In the manger, where the food of animals is placed, He allowed His limbs to be laid, thereby showing that His own body would be the eternal food of men.''
Besides this He is born every day in the Sacrament by means of the priests and the words of Consecration; the altar is the crib, and there we go to feed ourselves on His flesh.
Someone might desire to have the Holy Infant in his arms, as the aged Simeon had; but faith teaches us that, when we receive Holy Communion, the same Jesus who was in the manger of Bethlehem is not only in our arms, but in our breasts. He was born for this purpose, to give Himself entirely to us: A child is born to us, a son is given to us (Isaiah 9:6).
As we celebrate Christmas with the Traditional Latin Mass and the great Christmas Dinner, we pray that our readers will receive every grace and blessing in this holy Christmas season!
Never a Christmas Like It!
Torch of The Faith News on Saturday 24 December 2016 - 13:00:20 | by admin
In the present circumstances, the above picture of Pope Francis and Cardinal Burke from Catholic Sat's Twitter page is one of the most edifying things in today's news.
I am sure readers will agree that there has never been a Christmas like this one. During this week we have all heard Cardinal Burke clearly warning that a pontiff who commits formal heresy, ''would cease by that act to be the Pope.''
Then yesterday, 1 Peter 5's Dr. Maike Hickson broke the news to the English-speaking world that the German Der Spiegel publication had reported Pope Francis as saying, ''It is not to be excluded that I might go down in history as the one who split the Catholic Church''.
This morning we read at LifeSiteNews that Cardinal Walter Brandmuller - one of the 4 cardinals who issued the Dubia to Francis - has also affirmed to Der Spiegel that, ''whoever thinks that persistent adultery and reception of Holy Communion are compatible is a heretic and promotes schism''. Of course, that is merely a confirmation of the Church's perennial teaching, as clearly set forth in Sacred Scripture and Tradition.
All of this talk of sacrilege, heresy and schism can be most unsettling to ordinary folks in the pews; especially in a time when so few people have received sufficient catechesis, or ongoing support in conversion of heart to the fullness of truth.
During the Christmas season which is about to open to us, there are countless graces available to the Church, to Catholics and to all people to turn toward our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and be saved.
Let us enter as fully as possible into the mysteries of Christ's Incarnation and pray for the Church to come through this dangerous storm more strongly than ever before. We pray that Pope Francis will do the right thing, alter his present trajectory and begin to teach clearly the true doctrines of Holy Mother the Church; received, as they are, from Jesus Christ Himself in the power of the Holy Ghost.
To encourage readers to keep good heart and faith, here is a little piece regarding the approach of Christmas, from the Letters of St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.
St. Padre Pio: The Baby Jesus is the Star that guides you through the desert of this present life.
Let us meditate on this during this Christmas Eve; and may none of us ever forget it.
Keep the Faith!
Some Traditional Latin Masses for Christmas in the NW of England
Torch of The Faith News on Saturday 24 December 2016 - 10:25:50 | by admin
There are a number of opportunities for Catholics in the north west of England to celebrate Christmas with the Traditional Latin Mass. Please note that the following list may not be exhaustive.
St. Osmund's, Long Lane, Breightmet, Bolton, BL2 6EB
Christmas Eve - Midnight - Low Mass
St. Catherine Laboure, Stanifield Lane, Farington, Leyland, PR25 4QG.
Christmas Day - 10:00am - Sung Mass
St. Anthony's, Scotland Road, Liverpool, L5 5BD.
Christmas Day - 11:30am - Low Mass
Our Lady's, Southport Road, Lydiate, L31 4HH.
Christmas Eve - Midnight - Low Mass
English Martyrs, Alexandra Road South, Whalley Range, Manchester, M16 8QT.
Christmas Day - 8:00am - Low Mass
Oratory Church of St. Chad, Cheetham Hill, Manchester, M8 8GG.
4pm - Vespers and Benediction
4:45pm - Low Mass
ICKSP Shrine Church of Ss Peter, Paul and Philomena, Atherton Street, CH45 9LT.
Christmas Eve - 10:30pm - 12 Traditional Carols followed by Procession to the Crib and Solemn High Mass.
8:30am - Low Mass with Organ
10:30 am - Sung Mass
5pm Traditional Vespers.
St. Mary Magdalen, Leyland Road, Penwortham, PR1 9NE.
Christmas Day - 8:30am - Low Mass
ICKSP Shrine Church of St. Walburge, Weston Street, Preston, PR2 2QE.
Christmas Eve - 10pm - Traditional Carols followed by Procession to the Crib and Solemn High Mass. The Holy Mass will be followed by the Office of Prime with the Christmas Martyrology.
10:30am - Low Mass with Hymns
6pm - Rosary and Benediction
Holy Cross, Corporation Street, St. Helens, WA10 1EF.
Christmas Day - 11:00am - Low Mass
St. Winefride's, Crowmere Road, Monkmoor, Shrewsbury, SY2 5RA.
Christmas Eve - 8pm - Low Mass
FSSP Shrine Church of St. Mary's, Buttermarket Street, Warrington, WA1 2NS.
Christmas Eve - 11:30pm - Carols followed by Sung Midnight Mass.
8:00 - Low Mass (of Dawn)
11:00 - Solemn High Mass
We give thanks to God and to these good priests for all these opportunities to celebrate Christmas with the Traditional Latin Mass in the north west region of England. Readers in the region are encouraged to attend where possible.
The Third Annual ''Bah Humbug!'' Lecture in Rome
Torch of The Faith News on Friday 23 December 2016 - 01:50:38 | by admin
Ebenezer Scrooge: ''Every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.''
Grinding 'em down like a True Son of Peron
Over 20 years ago, one of my bosses laid out some cash so that everyone on the team went home with a nice bottle of something to drink over Christmas. You don't forget generous acts like that. It is the real-life equivalent of Mr. Fezziwig's annual Christmas ball for his staff in Dickens' classic story, A Christmas Carol.
On the other hand, miserific deeds leave a long-lasting bad taste all of their own; especially if they are done at Christmas.
No wonder so many of those serving in the Roman Curia felt discouraged when Pope Francis used the traditional Christmas ''meet and greet'' of 2014 to lambast them over ''15 ailments'' which he claimed were afflicting their work. Such discouragement was unleashed yet again in 2015, when Francis followed up with his unpopular ''12 cures'' speech.
As well as the mathematical improbability of applying 12 cures to 15 ailments, that was a speech notable for Francis' praise of the Modernistic Cardinal John Francis Dearden; and the suggestion that ''no Creed brings perfection''...
As we reflected last year, with Christmas gifts like these, who needs coal?''
On the Naughty List - Coal for Faithful Catholics
By now, you will probably have read all about Francis' latest speech to the Roman Curia from today's annual pre-Christmas meeting of 2016. I bet those curial staff just look forward to their annual ''Christmas do'' with baited breath... and gritted teeth. I should think they view it more in terms of a ''Christmas don't''!
To cut a long story short, Francis turned-up the dial on some Spadaro-style rhetoric - interesting hey? - by suggesting that those who were resisting his ''reforms'' were, in some cases, inspired by ''malicious resistance'' that ''takes refuge in traditions'' and comes to the fore ''when the Devil inspires ill intentions''.
Allow us to clearly say that no-one who seeks to protect the authentic teachings of the Church from subversion, the Holy Eucharist from desecration, or endangered souls from perdition, is acting from an ill intention inspired by the Devil.
It is more accurate and just to accuse those who attempt to subvert the Magisterium and promote sacrilegious Communions of being in cahoots with such dark influences.
Candy for Everyone Else!
On the day that Francis delivered this bleak broadside - thus publicly affirming the recently reported ''rumours'' of a ''Climate of Fear'' in his Vatican regime - he did something quite opposite for the children of this world.
During the morning, he lowered the public perception of the papacy still further by telephoning the Italian State Broadcaster's morning TV-show, Unomattina (One Morning) to congratulate them for the 30th-anniversary of their show. I guess for British readers, this would be the equivalent of phoning something like Richard and Judy...
What would it be in America - The View?
During this shameless piece of Francis-propaganda, a montage of the key events in his pontificate, complete with a male-voiced narrative, announced to the world, and the worldly, some of the ''changes'' that Francis has brought to the Church.
This narrative proclaimed: ''The centrality of the Gospel and revolution, the final realization of the Council that took place more than 50 years ago, the engine of faith in the God of mercy... A Church without temporal power, going out to the peripheries, to the poor, to the discarded, that wants to be involved with the Christian communities, with families, with wounded couples, with the divorced and remarried who can begin a path to approach the Sacraments once prohibited from the start... A Church that accompanies, that condemns evil but does not judge persons. No-one is excluded from his compelling humanity. Pope Francis, who celebrates his birthday with the homeless in his residence; Pope Francis who leaves the Vatican to buy orthopedic shoes as he did to buy glasses; Pope Francis among the earthquake victims''.
Without dwelling for too long on the production similarities to a forced-grin inspiring Kim Jong-un promo-video, let's just focus in on that one line, ''with the divorced and remarried who can begin a path to approach the Sacraments once prohibited from the start''.
And who was it said that the 4 cardinals had not yet had their Dubia answered?
One can only shudder to think of the souls and marriages that are being destroyed, and all the sacrilegious Communions being encouraged, by all this slick play-acting.
At the end, Francis gave a message about wishing a ''Christian Christmas, like the first one, when God willed to overturn the values of the world, and to become little in a manger, with the little ones, with the poor, with the marginalized... littleness. In this world, where the god of money is so adored, may Christmas help us to gaze upon the littleness of this God who has overturned worldy values.''
Whilst this can indeed be a wholesome message, it seems to be rather contradicted by the fact that orthodox Catholics - those Francis sees as ''taking refuge in traditions'' - are truly the marginalized, poor and little ones who consistenly experience Francis undermining them and their truly Catholic beliefs.
At the same time that he himself takes part in shameless self-promotion campaigns with wealthy worldlings...
It is all very sad to see. Indeed, it is also very grave and spiritually dangerous.
The Christ-Child is Our King
Reflecting on Francis' latest attack on those striving to be faithful to Catholic tradition called to my mind the late, great, traditionalist priest Fr. Godfrey Aloysius Carney in Liverpool. He lived to be 98, having served an almost unique 74 years as a priest. Fr. Carney used to remind Catholics that, when you are a Catholic, Tradition is in a sense all that you have got. He used to say that Tradition can never be old-fashioned because it is the living Truth revealed by God through Jesus Christ, established on the Apostles, guarded and handed down through all the ages in the Church.
If there is a lesson we can take from Austen Ivereigh's shamefully over-the-top article earlier this week, it is that Francis seeks to overcome his opponents, not through direct opposition, but by wearing them down gradually in the style of Juan Domingo Peron.
Aware of this tactic, faithful Catholics need to ensure that they do not allow the constant stream of subtle, and not-so-subtle, attacks to undermine them, or their faith.
Earlier this week, Cardinal Raymond Burke reminded Catholics, during an interview for LifeSiteNews, that accusations of rigorism should not discourage them, but bring forth from them a deeper level of commitment.
He said: ''We believe in Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is alive in His Church, in Her teachings, in Her Sacred Liturgy, in Her life of prayer, and in Her discipline, as those have been handed down to us in an unbroken line from apostolic times. And so, even though these statements are very hurtful, and I understand that, we have to rise above those feelings of hurt and adhere ever more strongly to what the Church teaches, to Her Sacred Liturgy, to our life of prayer and devotion, and to that discipline, which safeguards and promotes our life in Christ.''
Let us conclude with a quote from St. Luke's Gospel, which seems appropriate to these times.
Luke 11:11-13: And which of you, if he ask his father bread, will he give him a stone? Or a fish, will he give him for a fish a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he reach him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father from Heaven give the good Spirit to those that ask Him?
May God give us all the grace to adhere more strongly to Christ and the true teachings of the Church this Christmas.
Christmas in Post-Modern Britain
Torch of The Faith News on Thursday 22 December 2016 - 12:35:29 | by admin
The blasphemously offensive ''LGBT decorations'' which are sadly being sold in the UK for £13 this Christmas.
During his Christmas message in 2013, Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury warned that, without a commitment to re-evangelization, Christianity could die out in the British Isles within just one generation.
This is particularly sobering when one reflects on the Catholic origins of our civilization: careful scholars of British history observe that the work of St. Augustine's 6th-Century mission, in drawing the Angles and Saxons into the unity and obedience of the Catholic Faith, was a key factor in the emergence of a people known collectively as the Angli.
Or the English, to you and I.
And yet, one only has to look about to see many families that were once raised as devout Christians sliding into indifference and even outright neo-paganism in these times.
Last Christmas we lamented the fact that the Christmas edition of our local free paper featured letters from people arguing that religion should be kept out of the public sphere to avoid hurting the feelings of ''good moral secularists''.
We also expressed our concerns in the light of the fact that Baroness Butler Sloss had only recently announced the conclusions from the Orwellian-sounding Commission on Religion and Belief in Public Life. During December 2015, this two-year commission of enquiry suggested that Britain is no longer a Christian country; and thus called for British public life to be systematically de-Christianized. Whilst the executive-director of the National Secular Society complained that the report did not go far enough (!), elements of its contents were warmly welcomed by the senior-rabbi of Liberal Judaism and the secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain...
Fast-forward to Advent 2016 and three disturbing news stories have emerged this week, which further illustrate this rapidly advancing trend of de-Christianization.
1. Blasphemous ''LGBT decorations''
Another example of the blasphemous ''LGBT decorations'' which were designed in California and are now being sold in the UK.
England's Premier Christian Radio has reported on these blasphemous ''LGBT decorations'' which are being sold by Zazzle in the UK for £13 a set. As Christian Concern's excellent Andrea Williams explained in an interview with Premier: ''The idea of putting a Joseph and a Joseph with the baby Jesus, or a Mary with a Mary is blasphemous''.
Thankfully, the amount of Christian backlash to these blasphemous mockeries of Our Blessed Lady, holy St. Joseph and Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, has been sufficient to make Zazzle ''consider'' removing them from sale.
However, that organization makes no apology for the offensive blasphemy. Instead, in a truly secularist fashion, they suggest that, if the offending items were to be removed from sale, it would be done ''out of respect for fellow human beings''.
Ironically, in a society which has forgotten that it was Catholic Christendom which provided the fertile soil for authentic human rights and duties to develop, Zazzle's approach is taken as a form of moral high-ground...
We are grateful to Christian Concern and Premier Christian Radio for speaking out so clearly on this serious issue. At the same time, we must ask: why are the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales leaving it to the evangelicals to speak out (again)?
2. A New ''LGBT-friendly'' Oath of Allegiance to the State?!!!
Over at EWTN GB, Deacon Nick Donnelly has highlighted the dangerous fact that the UK Government is considering whether or not to impose a new ''Oath of Allegiance to British Values'' on all state employees.
Now, given the influx into these small isles of so many Muslims and various people from other cultural backgrounds - Tradition in Action suggests that the UK registered 3.2 legal immigrants, 500,000 illegal immigrants and 117,000 refugees in 2015 - the requirement to sign up to British values could potentially be a good thing.
However, that all rather depends on who is defining those British values these days...
Indeed, Deacon Donnelly warns that the British Government is considering a legal imposition for state employees to sign up to ''secularist values''.
How about this comment from Dame Louise Carey as a troubling bit of evidence for that: ''Regressive attitudes. While many people in the UK appear to be seeing religion as increasingly less important and, in some cases, less of a force for good, for others, religion is very important in their daily lives. Within this latter group there appear to be some who are keen to take religion backwards and away from 21st-Century British values and laws on issues such as gender equality and sexual orientation; creating segregation and pulling communities apart.''
This called to my mind G.K. Chesterton's witty remark that, when secularists accuse us of belonging to the Middle Ages, it is good form to take that as a compliment!
Note once again, though, the pattern of ''creating the problem'' and ''providing the pre-planned solution''. In this case, the ''solution'' appears to be the imposition of an ''Oath of Allegiance'' to be required of all elected officials, civil servants, council workers and possibly staff of the BBC and even the National Health Service (NHS).
Hey, job prospects just get better all the time for orthodox Catholics in the UK. Not...
Of course, Catholics in this country have been here before, in light of King Henry VIII's disgusting Oath of Supremacy which led to the martyrdom of great saints like Ss John Fisher and Thomas More, the persecution of thousands, and the social exclusion of faithful Catholic families for many generations to come.
As Deacon Donnelly reflects in his EWTN GB article: ''If Teresa May's government goes ahead and frames an Oath of Allegiance to British Values that contradicts the Catholic Church's doctrines on marriage and sexuality then Catholics would again be persecuted in the United Kingdom.''
3. Catholic Priest in our Archdiocese Raided at Gun-Point
Please say a prayer for the parish priest of St. Vincent de Paul church out in Parr, to the east of St. Helens.
At 6:25pm Father answered the door of his presbytery to be ''greeted'' by three men, one of whom has been reported to have been armed with a handgun. The three robbers forced the priest to empty the safe at St. Vincent de Paul church and hand over the cash. The monies in that safe had been collected for an orphanage.
The fact that an act like this can happen just days before Christmas, and in a town with such a deeply Catholic history as St. Helens, demonstrates just how far our country has fallen into a state of post-Christian desuetude.
It seems the police have caught a couple of these men and are now holding them for questioning.
Please pray: that these men will receive the grace of sincere repentance this Christmas; for the priest who has been left understandably shaken by the incident; and for other priests that we know who often feel anxious at this time of year when there are Christmas collections, dark evenings and unknown visitors.
On a Happier Note
This being the run up to Christmas, we wanted to end today with a more upbeat conclusion.
Last Christmas, I celebrated the fact that the local council of the town where I grew up had continued their long tradition of erecting a large roadside Christmas nativity scene next to one of the biggest road-junctions in the area. I was particularly thankful to see this still happening in days when Christian culture is in retreat in so many places.
When we were kids in the 70's, Mum used to take us to see this crib-scene, and to look at the baby Jesus in the manger, during the Christmas holidays from school. In the 1990's, I remember the late Canon Michael Culhane leading public Rosaries of witness there, with parishioners from English Martyrs church in Litherland.
Anyway, it is great to see the public nativity scene is there again this year. This is nothing short of amazing in the present cultural climate. We express our thanks here to Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council and any other agencies involved.
Let us all do our best to Keep Christ in Christmas!