St. Winefride, Fair Flower of Ancient Wales - Pray for us!


Torch of The Faith News on Saturday 26 May 2018 - 11:15:38 | by admin

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The fine statue of St. Winefride in the chapel of her ancient Holy Well in North Wales. As we said last April, during our 15th Wedding Anniversary spent there, this is a favourite place of ours, which has played a key part in our life and vocation as a married couple.

LGBT Education Comes to Wales

LifeSiteNews reported on Thursday that Wales is to ''embed'' LGBT sex-education into all school curriculum, beginning in kindergarten.

This new programme will be officially released by local government in April of next year, becoming normative for even the youngest of infants from 2022. The leftist Guardian newspaper has suggested that this could make Wales a ''global leader'' in sex-education.

Part of a Bigger Picture

With this development, we can again see just how much Archbishop Malcolm McMahon and the ''Catholic'' Education Service (CES) thrust onto parents a serious problem which just keeps on ''giving'' when, at the beginning of Lent last year, they merrily presented parents with a fait accompli, by announcing their official acceptance of the government's plan for compulsory sex-education for children as young as four years and upwards.

As we said at the time, this was beyond their remit; for it represents a radical breach with the nature and tradition of orthodox Catholic education, wherein: parents are the primary educators of their own children and are thus naturally endowed with key rights and duties to preserve their purity; the age of innocence must not be disturbed under any circumstances; and all educational content must be in accordance with the natural and divine law, as well as in harmony with the developed consciences of the parents.

Anything else, just will not do.

We also noted at the time that, even though Archbishop McMahon suggested that all sex-education content for primary children would be prepared in accordance with Church teaching - surely a contradiction in terms! - the acceptance of compulsory sex-education for primary children would lead to a whole raft of new problems for Catholic parents.

Until then, it had been easier for them to protect their youngest children from inappropriate content, or anything they were unhappy about, because they could simply point out that sex-education was not compulsory in our country for the primary school age range.

However, now that the government has made it so, with the collusion of His Grace, the CES and all of the other Bishops of England and Wales who quietly went along with it all, this protection for parents has obviously gone.

However, the issue also faces them with a second problem.

Again, as we said during Lent last year, the fact that Royal Assent was given to ''same-sex marriage'' laws here in 2013 means that sex-education, as problematic as it has been for many years, will now also include and promote the LGBT dimension.

And now that sex-education for young children is compulsory, it will be very difficult for parents to resist strongly homosexualist materials, such as those being incrementally introduced by local authorities across the UK, from being foisted onto even their youngest children.
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For several years, stories had already been breaking in the UK about children and parents suffering great distress when, sometimes even without parental knowledge much less consent, local school authorities had begun to put out LGBT materials as teaching resources in primary schools, such as the above-pictured Daddy's Roommate...

Other examples included books like Hello Sailor, The Sissy Duckling, Josh and Jay Have Three Mums and Mom and Mum are Getting Married.

In our contemporary cultural situation, complaining about the use of such materials could even get parents in trouble with the police, if they were suspected of - or even deemed to have committed - a ''homophobic hate crime''.

Coming to a School Near You

Something along these lines actually happened to a parent at the Sacred Heart ''Catholic'' School in Atherton, in the Archdiocese of Liverpool, when one of the dads there went on social media to complain about pro-LGBT materials, which were being promoted to his primary age child, without him having even been so much as consulted.

The combination of ''same-sex marriage laws'' backed by Royal Assent, the updating of curricula to express that, the making of sex-education compulsory for even the youngest of primary age children and the culture of fear created by parental concerns about speaking out, can all be seen as coming together in a kind of ''perfect storm'' for family life in the UK.

As we said last year, Catholic parents and families, as well as all people of good will who do not want this stuff for their kids, deserved much better than this from the Catholic bishops.

There is a chance that all is not lost, in that Archbishop McMahon's original statement on compulsory sex-education did acknowledge parental right to educate their children according to their consciences, and he did suggest that all materials would be adapted to suit the Catholic ethos; though examples of this seeming contradiction in terms remain to be seen.

However, there are also further problems with those points too.

Parents who try to remove their children from classrooms could face serious difficulties in light of all that has been described above.

Plus, taking children out of lessons like that can also cause them extra anxiety, embarassment and feelings of social exclusion. These can be harmful in themselves to childhood development and maturation.

Then there is the fact that, whilst Archbishop McMahon has suggested materials will be adapted and that parents have input, this was not at all the case in Sacred Heart primary school in his own Archdiocese.

At that school, young children had to: watch a play performed by adults about two princes who ''fall in love'' with each other; receive a lesson about when ''gay'' is an acceptable word; design art materials for the Wigan ''Gay Pride'' march; and write reflections about being ''proud'' of who they are and how they would show support to friends who ''come out as gay''.

And whilst Mr. Julian Marsh, a parent at the school who kicked off animatedly about all of this on social media received a visit from local police investigating a possible ''hate crime'', the school's headteacher, Ms. Morrow, received a ''Rainbow Flag'' award from the LGBT Trust for her efforts at the school. When a petition of complaint signed by thousands was handed in, nothing public was ever done by the Archdiocese.

Since then the Archbishop and his CES launched their ''homophobic bullying'' materials. As a number of Catholic commentators noted at the time, these have promoted the idea that homosexuals were ''made that way'' by God.

Will ''Made That Way'' Hold Sway?

In a certain sense, this brings us full circle to Pope Francis' words this week to Juan Carlos Cruz of Chile; to whom Francis is supposed to have suggested that ''God made you gay''. According to all the world's big media outlets, and thus to popular opinion the world over, this is what he did say. And certainly, there has been no denial from Francis...

The problems faced by parents thus become more pronounced and more clear. 

For it is easy to see how a parent trying to withdraw a child from lessons they deem to be inappropriate, or for that matter anybody not wanting to promote LGBT ideology in workplace situations, might now face the following kind of scenario.

Headteacher/Boss: So, I hear you don't want to take part in this. But it is the law, so you have to.

Parent/Employee: But it is against the teachings of my religion.

Headteacher/Boss: Oh really? But your Pope has just said ''Gay is OK''.

Of course, this is why everyone needs to be well instructed in both natural and divine law arguments, matters of freedom of conscience and conscientious objection and precise definitions of the nature, telos and limits of papal authority, etc.

Embedded Across Curricula?

However, there is another dimension to all of this which needs to be noted.

Whilst Archbishop McMahon suggests that materials will be adapted to suit the Catholic ethos, and leaving aside for a moment the fact that this has not happened in key cases up to now, it is also the case that this new announcement in Wales about LGBT material being ''embedded'' into all school curricula shows how difficult it will be for parents to observe absolutely all of the content being taught and also to remove children from key lessons.

For the LifeSiteNews report would seem to suggest that the LGBT materials could crop up in all areas of the curriculum.

Be Informed, But Have Trust; Hope and Pray!

At the top of our post today is a picture of St. Winefride of Wales, the great abbess who, in her youth, suffered gravely and yet victoriously to preserve her chastity and holy innocence.

As St. Winefride is known in her beautiful litany as the ''Fair Flower of Ancient Wales'', and as a powerful intercessor and model for holy purity, we highly recommend all parents and children to commend themselves to her protection.

May her prayers and example help us all not to lose hope, to remain united with Christ who assured her victory and that of all who love and trust in Him, and to remain faithful to the truly Christian education of youth for the Kingdom of Heaven. Home schooling and/or local Catholic small scale schooling look better options every day!
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The complex of ancient buildings surrounding St. Winefride's Well at Holywell in North Wales. It is a place dear to our hearts and central to our vocation as a married couple; for, as we described on our 15th wedding anniversary last April, we believe that St. Winefride helped to bring us together.

St. Winefride and All Saints of Wales - pray for us!

An Important Event

N.B. - We see from the good LMS Wrexham blog-site that there will be a Traditional Latin Mass at St. Winefride's Catholic Church, just up the hill from the ancient Holy Well of St. Winefride, at 11:30am this Trinity Sunday, 27th May, 2018, offered by Canon Parant of the ICKSP. Readers in the region are encouraged to attend where possible and all readers are invited to pray to the great St. Winefride for a renewal of chastity in our own hearts, in the wider society and particularly in the field of education of youth. Please also pray for the rights and duties of parents and their children to be upheld.

May we also recommend to all parents, priests, teachers, catechists and other interested parties a close reading of Pope Pius XI's Divini Illius Magistri (1929), and the Pontifical Council for the Family's The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality (1995). 

A Prayer for Ireland


Torch of The Faith News on Saturday 26 May 2018 - 09:45:56 | by admin

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The good, traditional Benedictine monks at Silverstream Priory, over in Co. Meath, Ireland, posted up a powerful prayer for Ireland yesterday.

Whilst the results of yesterday's referendum are today being counted, and as various mainstream media outlets gloat over the purported results - due to exit poll figures suggesting a pro-abortion ''landslide victory'' -, let us keep praying for the defeat of the Culture of Death by Our Lord's Culture of Life.

O Heart of Jesus, formed by the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary, have mercy on the nations soaked in the blood of the innocent. May that vast army of innocents slaughtered mercilessly in their mothers' wombs raise their voices and plead before Thy throne in glory for an end everywhere to the crime of abortion that has so rightly merited Thy Father's wrath and caused the nations to become an abomination in His sight. Do what Thou must, O merciful Heart of Jesus, to reveal to the Irish people the horror of this sin and bring us all to repentance.

Immaculate Virgin Mary, Queen of Ireland, thou didst bear Thy Son for nine months in the inviolate sanctuary of Thy womb, intercede today for all who, confident in Thy maternal protection, will vote - today we could instead pray ''have voted'' - to defend the life of unborn children, and grant us victory over the forces of death. Amen.

Let's keep up the prayers for Ireland, God's own country.

Our Lady of Knock, Queen of Ireland - Pray for us!

St Patrick - Pray for us!    

He Who Should Speak Seasonably Will Remain Silent


Torch of The Faith News on Friday 25 May 2018 - 12:19:28 | by admin

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Phoenix Park, Dublin, 1979: That Papal Visit to Ireland took place during the centenary year of the apparitions of Our Lady at Knock. 1.25 million people, a third of the entire population of the Republic of Ireland at that time, turned up for this Papal Mass. The defence of Christian civilization, marriage, family and life were key themes of the Papal Visit.

UPDATE 2: I've just discovered an Italian papal angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square on 6th May, in which Francis stated that unborn children should be always welcomed and that life must always be protected and loved from conception until its natural end. Whilst this is good, it makes no mention of the Irish Referendum and has not been heard in the wider world. The situation in Ireland is so grave as to require more direct, more public and much more numerous statements. Also these need to be made in the Irish and English languages. Let us keep praying!

UPDATE! Due to a typo, I originally described Angie's Irish parents as ''relativists''. That should have read ''relatives''... I'm still chuckling over that one. Good job my in-laws love me, hey!!!

Where's Francis?

Do you remember ''Where's Wally''? Back in the 80's, it was a kind of fun cartoon book, where you had to try and spot the character ''Wally'' hidden in busy crowd scenes and such like. I believe it was marketed as ''Where's Waldo?'' in North American markets.

Well, quite frankly: Where's Francis?!!!

Over dinner last night, I asked Angie whether she had seen or heard anything whatsoever from Francis, regarding today's all-important referendum on the 8th Amendment in Ireland.

She answered that she had not.

After our meal, I searched on-line for ''Pope Francis Ireland'' and various related combinations. All that I could find were articles speaking of his forthcoming Irish visit; which is planned to take place after the referendum. But, not a thing could I find in terms of a direct statement in defence of Ireland's pro-life laws, the referendum in particular, or the defence of Ireland's unborn in general.

Not a dicky bird.

Then I looked around for anything from the official ''Life'' academy in Rome. You know, that once highly esteemed pro-life organization which, under Francis' leadership, has been brutally gutted of key pro-life members, had its mandatory pro-life declaration removed, been re-staffed with some non-Catholics and with still others who even hold contrary views to Church teaching on things like euthanasia (!), and had its focus, erm I think they said, ''broadened'', to include issues like the environment.

Yes, that academy...

Well, up to last night, I could not find a stitch about the Irish referendum from them either.

At least this morning, I see that Archbishop Paglia has now tweeted something which is at least, and at last, positively pro-life on the matter.

You know, that Archbishop Paglia who used his ''pro-life'' position to bring in the new and distressingly un-Catholic ''sex-ed'' programme at the last World Youth Day, and who had a sacrilegiously homoerotic mural featuring himself daubed on the wall of his cathedral in Terni-Narni-Amelia. Yes, that Archbishop Paglia...

Well, I'm happy to relate, His Grace has today tweeted: ''Come Holy Spirit, guide and strengthen the people of Ireland today so that life will always be welcomed, nurtured, protected and integrated at every stage and through the courage of St. Patrick.''

But as for Francis? So far, crickets...

The situation calls to mind the similar problem when Ireland held the ''same-sex marriage'' referendum in 2015.

At least this time around a number of the Irish bishops have made clear and strong calls for their people to defend life and vote to keep the 8th Amendment safely in place.

But in the wider picture, Francis' behaviour recalls for us the fact that, just before Christmas, both the pro-lifers of Italy and their pro-death opponents attributed the passing of the new Italian euthanasia laws to Francis' approach.

This is all very troubling.

Changing Expectations

As I searched for news of Francis last evening, it suddenly struck me that I have become so habituated to Francis' subversions that I have come to expect so little from him in terms of positively Catholic words and actions.

You see, even though we've been praying at home, and have posted up a few pieces here in recent weeks about Ireland's referendum, and even though Irish bishops, priests and pro-life groups have been speaking out and leading pro-life prayers for weeks, it was only last night, on the very eve of the referendum itself, that I even began to wonder and ask whether Francis had said anything.

That is how low my expectations have fallen.

About an hour after that, I realized that I was in good company when I spotted, in the very same box that the good Frank Walker had highlighted my own Ireland article at Canon 212, that Laurence England was asking the same question about the whereabouts of Francis via his twitter account.

And so, complete with a moving image of a skeleton spinning around on an office chair, Laurence stated, ''Still waiting for @Pontifex to say something in defence of the Irish unborn.''

Aye, he's a good lad that Laurence. And Frank Walker. May God bless them, too.

Defending Catholic Ireland
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Our Lady of Knock, Queen of Ireland - Pray for Ireland to defeat the hateful Culture of Death and to build afresh the loving Culture of Life.

This is, of course, all a very far cry from the Papal Visit to Ireland of 1979. Back then, the theme was all about the defence of Ireland's Christian civilization, as well as marriage, family and pro-life issues.

Indeed, and as the good Fr. Marius O'Reilly of Cork City reminded everyone in his recent and inspiring YouTube video appeal for international prayer support, a direct fruit of that Papal Visit was the forming of pro-life Rosary crusades and the referendum which crafted and instituted the pro-life 8th amendment to the Irish Constitution in the first place.

Several years ago, I went for a pint in a pub in the city centre of Liverpool, with a bloke who is a pro-life activist in this region.

As we supped the amber nectar, actually I think we even had Guinness!, our conversation turned to the fact that we both made regular, indeed normally annual, visits to the Republic of Ireland to spend vacations there with relatives; in my case with Angie's Irish parents in the wilds of Co. Mayo.

We were both trying to define that certain something that we found in Ireland, in terms of it being a place that, at times, seems to be literally saturated in grace; and is thus a place where prayer and peace seem to come more easily than back in England.

Having spent many holidays in England's Lake District and in Wales' Snowdonia, I was trying to articulate the fact that Ireland's quality of peace is of a different order altogether. Those exemplary English and Welsh places can in some areas be more scenically beautiful, and the air is just as fresh in them as it ever is in the Republic, but they do not have that same ''something'' indefinable.

We wondered if it was perhaps because the Republic of Ireland, in spite of troubles, hardship and undeniable sins, has had such a long and uninterrupted culture of Catholic civilization; with centuries of saints, monks, nuns, wholesome families and deeply rooted village life, centred around the parish church, wayside shrines and the daily round of prayer and work. Neither the British persecutions, nor the famines destroyed the Faith of the Catholic people, nor their deeply Catholic culture.

Even today, when Mass attendance and marriage rates continue to fall, the Irish countryside remains dotted with well-tended roadside shrines; past which many hardened old boys will neither drive nor walk, without first making a reverent sign of the cross.
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August 2015: Mum and I next to one of our favourite wayside shrines in Co. Mayo. When Mum was well enough, this was a place that we would often stop and pray during visits to Angie's Irish parents. Each summer, it was a great comfort to see the little red light glowing before the Sacred Heart as we approached up the lane after a year's absence. 

In the end, as we supped our pints in that pub in Liverpool, the pro-life chap and I decided that it was all of this that made Ireland so special.

But there was one thing more.

A something that was a direct fruit of all of that: It was the simple fact that, in Ireland, one found a culture in which babies were not being slaughtered by the hundreds every single day of the week. In the final analysis, that has got to make a difference to the atmosphere, to the very spiritual health, of a given place.

Today's Spiritual Battle

One cannot overstate the gravity of today's referendum, for Ireland, for the unborn and, indeed, for the Church and for the whole world.

We could not get to the FSSP parish in Warrington last night, because of Mum's care needs here.

However, we were able to join up with Catholics in Ireland by praying the Rosary before a live web-cam link, to an all day until late-night Eucharistic Adoration on the Eve of the Referendum; which was being held in a beautiful country church we know in Ireland from our visits to Angie's Mum and Dad.

Whilst it was a very moving experience to be able to do this, we were also struck and saddened by the fact that only 7 people - and all of these laity - were present in the church praying.

In common with other things we have heard this week, it reminded us of the fact that there is now but a remnant of the faithful.

However, this little remnant has all of Heaven on their side: the Most Holy Trinity, Our Blessed Lady, the Saints, the Holy Souls in Purgatory, and the many spiritual graces and powers of the Church Militant, rooted in and flowing back to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

EWTN Ireland has reminded people that, in Irish, the description of an unborn baby is Beo gan Bhreith. This directly translates into English as, Alive, but not born yet.

How brilliantly this expresses the realities for which we are all fighting.

Who are these rascals that dare to throw off centuries of Catholic civilization and destroy future generations of babies; infants who are, and who will be, alive and not yet born? 

Let us Keep Praying Today
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We must keep praying as the storm clouds gather over Ireland today. This is Angeline before another of our favourite wayside shrines over in Ireland. Installed by locals for the Marian Year of 1954, it is a place we have prayed during many happy summer vacations in Co. Mayo. Out there, as this carefully maintained shrine demonstrates, the ordinary folk still love and reverence Our Lady very much. May God bless Ireland, and by the prayers of Our Lady, assure a pro-life victory today! 

We must hope that Francis will break his silence on this massively important issue today. Even if he were to do so now, it would still be an 11th hour exercise. In fact, it would be a minute to midnight kind of thing. The polls have been open since 7am local time, and voting on the 8th amendment will continue until 10pm this evening.

Still, if today Francis were to strongly denounce abortion, warn of the eternal consequences of choosing death and Hell over life and Heaven, and directly call everyone to defend Ireland's 8th amendment, it would still make a massive difference.

Even at this late hour.

As one recalls those mysterious words of Our Lady, of Quito in the title of today's article - in which Our Lady warned that, ''He who should speak seasonably will remain silent'' - we must do all that we can in terms of fasting and prayer for Ireland to Choose Life!

As with the case of little Alfie Evans recently, this is another key moment in which the battle lines are drawn and we are all seeing who, by their words, actions and prayers (or lack thereof), is on the side of Christ and Life and, conversely, who is on the side of the infernal enemy and of death.

Let us not fail to fast and pray for Ireland today.

Deuteronomy 30:19: I call Heaven and earth to witness this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Choose therefore life, that both thou and thy seed may live.

Our Lady of Knock, Queen of Ireland - Pray for us!

St. Patrick - Pray for us!

St. Brigid - Pray for us!

All Holy Men and Women of Ireland - Pray for us!

Pray for Ireland to Save the 8th - By This Sign Conquer!


Torch of The Faith News on Thursday 24 May 2018 - 10:45:49 | by admin

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In Hoc Signo Vinces!

As you know, we are now on the eve of the Irish Referendum on the pro-life 8th Amendment. During this tumultous time, a good Catholic lady in Ireland has sent us this inspiring and peaceful image of the Cross appearing in the sun over Ireland's west coast.

It was taken during the ongoing 40-day vigil of Eucharistic Adoration, reparation and intercession, which is taking place before the Referendum on the heights of Croagh Patrick.

Ireland's Rosary for Life and Faith have interpreted this as a sign in the sun reminiscent of Constantine's victory at the battle at the Milvian Bridge.

You will remember that, in 312 AD, the Roman Empire was in a chaotic state and there was a war on for the Imperial throne. Constantine was facing a battle against an older and more experienced opponent, whose forces had a larger army and a better strategic position.

Having seen his mother St. Helena praying and asking God to reveal Himself to Constantine and give him the victory, Constantine prayed a Christian prayer to God.

He suddenly saw a cross of light emblazoned in the sky with the words, ''In hoc signo vinces!'' In English, this is rendered as, ''In this sign, Conquer!''

Constantine ordered all his men to mark the sign of the Cross on their sheilds and led them out to battle. Against all the odds they took the Milvian Bridge and marched victoriously into Rome.

It was Constantine who subsequently signed the Edict of Milan, ending Imperial persecution, instructing that Christians be treated benevolently within the Empire and paving the way for Emperor Theodosius I to make the Catholic Church the official religion of the Empire in 380 AD.

As Kathy Sinnott of Ireland's Rosary for Life and Faith has concluded: ''On the feast of Pentecost, we like Constantine survey the battle ground. Those that would legalize the destruction of children have the media, the politicians, the NGO's, the internet companies, etc... We have the Cross. In This Sign Conquer! Wear the Cross. Make the Sign of the Cross. Trace an invisible Cross everywhere you spread the message of Life. It will be visible to God. And go out this week seeking a NO Vote in complete trust.''

We recognise this as a marvellous and timely sign of God's protection. It is a reminder of the key place His Providence has given to Ireland, that glorious land of saints, in the history of salvation. We pray that this glorious sign, and the words of Kathy Sinnott, will encourage readers to keep praying and working for a pro-life victory tomorrow in Ireland.

Please Join in Prayer!

There is also a great opportunity to defend Ireland's Culture of Life, which is emanating out from right here in England, in the Archdiocese of Liverpool.
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The good fathers at the FSSP church of St. Mary's, over in Warrington, have put out a flyer which calls the faithful to be ''On our KNEES for NO... babykilling!''

I must say that it is jolly refreshing for the laity in these days to see clergy both organizing a pro-life event as good as this one, and also calling abortion out for what it really and truly is. May God bless them for doing these good things.

And so, the FSSP fathers are hosting an Overnight Eucharistic Adoration to beg God for mercy for Irish babies.

This begins tonight, Thursday 24th May, on the eve of Ireland's referendum.

Although the Octave of Pentecost obviously takes precedence, this is also the Feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians.

There will be Traditional Latin Mass at 9pm this evening. Then, from 10:00pm tonight, until 6:00am tomorrow morning, there will be Eucharistic Adoration, ending with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. At 6:00am, there will be another offering of the Traditional Latin Mass.

The church will be open overnight. There will be toilet facilities, and a kettle and fridge should anyone need a snack.

The details for sat-navs is: access via Smith Street, Warrington, WA1 2NS.

We think this is an excellent and vitally important opportunity. As such, we invite readers in the region to try and attend, and readers elsewhere and overseas to please join in praying this evening, overnight and tomorrow for a pro-life victory for the Culture of Life in Ireland, in tomorrow's referendum.

Please also note that the ICKSP Sacred Heart Church in Limerick, Ireland, is holding 24-hour Adoration for the Defence of Life from after last night's 7pm Mass until this evening.

A Helpful Prayer from Precious Life, Ireland

To aid readers in praying for this intention, here is that prayer again from the good folks at Precious Life, Ireland.

Prayer to Protect Ireland from the Scourge of Abortion

Lord, Jesus, You are the Divine Physician, and the source of all life and health.

Please guide Ireland's politicians - and we add here, voters - at this critical time.

Give them the humility to know that they are servants, not masters.

Give them the wisdom to realise that every life has equal value.

Give them the strength to resist the idea that some lives can be sacrificed to save others, or that killing the unborn is a part of health care.

Please give your people the courage to speak up and to hold public officials accountable for their actions.

In the Most Holy Name of Jesus, and through the intercession of Our Lady of Knock and St. Patrick, save Ireland from the sin and crime of abortion (say this part in bold 3 times).

Amen.
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Interior of the church of St. John the Baptist in the shrine of Knock - the church of the Apparition. May Our Lady of Knock, Queen of Ireland, win a decisive victory!

In these hours, let us do all we can by intercessory prayer and penance to help the good Catholics in Ireland, and to implore Our Blessed Lord and Our Lady for a resounding pro-life victory for them and for the Culture of Life in Ireland.

36th Annual Paris to Chartres Pentecost Pilgrimage


Torch of The Faith News on Thursday 24 May 2018 - 09:29:26 | by admin

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These images are from the Notre-Dame de Chretiente website. Please do see more splendid photographs at their website; and do what you can to promote their annual pilgrimage. 

It was the late Michael Davies who described the annual Paris to Chartres Pentecost Pilgrimage as the most important thing happening in the Catholic Church today.

This annual event revives and takes forward an originally 12th-Century tradition of processing in pilgrimage between the majestic Notre-Dame de Paris and Notre-Dame de Chartres cathedrals.
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The event is organized by the Our Lady of Christendom Association; with this 36th annual event being held in honour of St. Joseph, Father and Servant.

Each of the three days of the approximately 70 mile pilgrimage procession is centred on the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass. As the organizers point out: this is a magnificent instrument of prayer, which emphasises the universal character of the Mass.
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The event is hugely popular with young people and frequently attracts between 8,000-10,000 participants. Michael Matt of The Remnant, estimates on his Facebook page that there were some 15,000 taking part this year.

A particular highlight for the pilgrims this year was the presence of the heart of St. Padre Pio, which bore the sacred wound of the stigmata. St. Pio had recieved this particular wound of transverberation, in a way reminiscent of that received by his spiritual father, St, Francis of Assisi, centuries earlier.
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It is moving just to think of St. Padre Pio, a living Crucifix granted by God as a witness of Christ's love and presence in the midst of a world which has so rejected Him through atheism, selfishness, greed, impurity and violence. The miracles, charisms and spiritual power of St. Pio's life and priestly ministry remind the world that God IS

When my father was dying at home in 2012, some Capuchin priests allowed us to have a reliquary containing a bloodstained cloth from this heart wound of St. Pio. This gift was a great consolation to us during that painful trial. It must have been marvellous for the pilgrims en route to Chartres, to be in the presence of the actual heart of St. Pio himself. Of course, the wounded heart of St. Pio points us beyond himself to the wounded Heart of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, Really Present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.

The sheer numbers of young people and families who take part in the pilgrimage each year is both a sign of the perennial attractiveness of Catholic Truth and its grace-filled fecundity in bringing forth new life in the Church.
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The daily walks can be arduous, with very early starts, long distances to cover and terrain made difficult due to the presence of inclines, rocks and mud.

Doctors and hospitallers of the Order of Malta have an outdoor hospital at each of the campsites and there are shuttle buses provided for any who may find themselves unable to walk on.
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The pilgrimage is organised in chapters with lay men, aided by chaplains, organizing chapter hymns, meditations, Rosary and other prayers. The pilgrims aim to live in a spirit of Christ's presence, with friendship and prayer sustaining each of them as they process. Chaplains work among the chapters all the way of the journey, hearing confessions, teaching the Faith and offering pastoral support and guidance.

Participants and observers are often struck by both the large number, and young age range, of the priestly and religious vocations present during the pilgrimage.
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This phenomenon underscores the supernatural power of the Sacred Liturgy and the natural fruits which this brings forth whenever Sacred Tradition, and its naturally resultant vocations, are allowed to flourish without hindrance by any man-made ideologies or ideologues.

Although obviously gathered around a central French base, the pilgrimage has a truly international character. There are chapters from all over the world; including, for example, Australia, Canada, England, Poland, Spain and the USA.

The  leadership of the good Cardinal Robert Sarah from Guinea, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, was particularly appreciated by many of the pilgrims this year.
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In terms of Catholic Tradition, His Eminence continues to face generally in the right direction and his prayerfulness and writings on the importance of silence and the interior life are very encouraging.

If you have not already done so, his books, God or Nothing - A Conversation on Faith and The Power of Silence - Against the Dictatorship of Noise are well worth reading in this regard.

A particularly impressive aspect of Cardinal Sarah's leadership is the fact that he so recognizes the importance of contemplative life that he founded a Carthusian monastery in his own diocese in Guinea. His Eminence spends time on silent retreat with the monks there every year. In a time when religious life, and contemplative life in particular, falls increasingly under the modernistic strictures from even the very heights of power in the Church, Cardinal Sarah's actions in this regard are doubly important.

As you can see, at the Chartres pilgrimage, the Church is young and alive! It is heartening to see so many young priests and religious brothers and sisters taking part. There are some in the traditional communties who say that the Chartres pilgrimage was an important part of their vocational calling and discernment.   
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The pilgrimage concluded at Notre-Dame de Chartres, with Cardinal Sarah offering the Traditional Latin Mass in that sacred and historical cathedral.
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During his sermon, His Eminence spoke of the darkness in contemporary Western society, which has so tragically rejected God. He made an urgent call for those present to renounce this darkness and to instead choose the Light of God in Christ.

He called the faithful to spend time in silent prayer each day and, with the Cross of Christ at the centre of their hearts and lives, to pray ''Lord reign in me, I give You all my life!''
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He especially called priests to embrace the silence and solitude of prayer, in order to bring Christ's light, rather than merely their own, into the world.

He encouraged his hearers by repeating the necessity of priestly celibacy as a key element of Apostolic Tradition, focused on the priest as alter Christus, another Christ, indeed as ipse Christus, Christ Himself.

He next encouraged evangelizers, parents and families by reminding them of their prophetic mission and, with quotes from the writings of St. Paul, as well as from Humanae Vitae and Veritatis Splendor, recalling them to their vitally important mission with the strengthening words, ''Do not be afraid!'' He also especially encouraged mothers and fathers by reminding them that the Church loves them and their vocation. 
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His Eminence provided a particular focus on the young people who had taken part. As the average age of the pilgrims is generally somewhere in the 20's this was particularly presecient.

The cardinal drew from the Gospel of St. John to announce an invigorating call to the young to follow Christ and inviting them to serve as priests and religious, with an unconditional fiat to God.

Towards the conclusion of his sermon, Cardinal Sarah called the people of France to rediscover and rebuild their Christian civilization by immersing themselves in the history and ongoing life of monasticism. He specifically asked people to spend a few days of prayer in a monastery to seek Christ there.

He ended by asking the faithful to ask the ''Most Holy Mother to have a heart like hers, a heart which refuses nothing to God, a heart burning with love for the glory of God, a heart ardent to announce to men the Good News, a generous heart, a heart as profuse as the heart of Mary, as abundant as that of the Church, and as rich as that of the Heart of Jesus. So be it!''

The annual Pentecost pilgrimage from Paris to Chartres is clearly a work of divine grace and a great source of consolation and hope in these times. We would highly recommend it to any young people who are searching for meaning in their lives and who want to go deeper in the pilgrimage and adventure of following Christ as His disciple.

Notre Dame de Chartres - Priez pour nous!  

Chilling Words in the Wall Street Journal


Torch of The Faith News on Wednesday 23 May 2018 - 14:42:07 | by admin

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The spread of false teaching within the Church is a grave attack on Christ and on His Faithful.

Homoheresy

Rorate Caeli has drawn attention to a troubling piece in the Wall Street Journal, which has been issued in the wake of Pope Francis' un-Catholic ''God made you gay'' line.

In reflecting on Cardinal Reinhard Marx's ''proposal'' to perform blessings for some same-sex pairings, the Wall Street Journal's knowledgable Journal Rome correspondent has spoken of a ''civil war'' happening with the Catholic Church.

The Wall Street article concludes:''As more governments around the world legalize same-sex marriage, the Catholic Church's internal debate over whether to recognize such unions - and if so, how - is likely to get only more intense and fractious.''

As has so often been the case, the blasphemous nature of Francis' words have seriously undermined every single priest, parent, teacher, catechist and ordinary person at the workplace who tries to hand on the truths of the Faith to those under their care, or to those around them.

However, in this instance, given the very fact that governments are not only introducing same-sex ''marriage'' laws, but are increasingly clamping down on the ''thought-crimes'' of those who disagree, Francis has not only undermined them, but has even left them dangerously exposed to the winds of persecution.

A Troubling Realization

About 10 years ago, I was standing in our back garden thinking about the latest betrayal of some of our hierarchy in the field of atheistic sex-education, as well as their invitation to a pro-abortion MP to give a talk at an education event. Against the complaints of some priests and many lay people, including ourselves, the bishops in question doubled down.

In that time in the garden I was suddenly struck with the earth-shaking realization that, when the persecution of Catholics comes and increases, not only will some of the hierarchy not protect us, but they will even be involved in leading that persecution straight to us.

Ten years ago, that might have sounded a little extreme to some folks.

And I myself originally imagined it happening only in the field of sex-education and the spreading acceptance and enforcement of homosexual ideology.

From Euthanasia to Homosexuality

I could never have imagined back then that it would even include euthanasia.

Back then I never thought for one minute that we would ever witness scenes like we did recently here in Liverpool: wherein courts, a national health service and dozens of police officers prevented devoted parents from taking their own child out of a hospital to seek ongoing healthcare for their child; to instead uphold the forced euthanasia of that good and innocent child.

And never in my wildest nightmares would I ever have imagined that all of this would have been done with the full backing, nay blessing, of the bishops.

Or that some of those bishops would even force out a good priest who was defending the family, providing pastoral care and explaining Catholic Truth to opponents.

No, I never saw any of that coming.

Still, now it has happened and now we all do know exactly where we stand.

And so, to get back to the issue of homosexuality and the persecution of those who uphold Christ's teaching, as it has been securely handed down by the Sacred Magisterium through twenty centuries - it becomes ever more clear that key members of the hierarchy will not merely undermine the faithful, but will even leave them dangerously exposed to a hostile culture. Perhaps they will go so far as to take part in the persecution. It sure looks like they have already started to do so.

But this has all been coming down the pike for a long, long time.

To these realities, we can also factor in the speeches which Francis has given around the world, which label orthodox Catholics as ''rigid'' and as ''extremists''.

Hermeneutic of Continuity? Tsk!

We must contrast Francis' words this week with those of Pope Benedixt XVI; given at what would prove to be his final Christmas on the Chair of Peter in December, 2012.

Back then, in his annual speech to the curia, His Holiness reflected: ''According to the Biblical creation account, being created by God as male and female pertains to the essence of the human creature. This duality is an essential aspect of what being human is all about, as ordained by God.''

His Holiness next critiqued the post-modern rejection of masculinity and feminity, its rejection of the God-given ordering of human relations and the sexual faculty, and its denial of family life and the rights of children.

He concluded: ''When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker Himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being. The defence of the family is about man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God is defending man.''

That clear speech certainly upset some powerful movers and shakers in the Church and in the world. The mainstream media and LGBT leadership were up in arms.

How remarkable that, just two months later, Benedict shocked the world with his strange and sudden abdication.

How spooky, too, that just weeks after that Francis emerged into the night and began to enforce the final stages, towards the end game of the new paradigm.

Reaching the End Game

With his latest ''God made you gay'' line, a phrase which has now reached every corner of the globe, and which according to 1 Peter 5 is already being used against faithful Catholics in learning institutions like Providence College, Francis has moved even beyond his own earlier subversive ''Who am I to judge?'' comment.

And we've all seen the way that has been used to undermine Church teaching and practice.

Keep the Faith with God's Grace

Dear readers, the gravity of these times must not lead us to despair.

However, it is necessary to understand just where we are all at in the Church; as well as spiritually and culturally.

We need to keep going with Holy Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, Confession, Rosaries and periods of silent prayer with Our Lord each day.

In the end, we know victory is assured to those who remain faithful. But it looks like we are all in for a rough ride. May God strengthen us all.

Fruits...

Who is he to judge? 
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Well, let's all keep watching and praying.

Matthew 7:16: By their fruits, you shall know them.

Continuing Support for Alfie Evans and His Family


Torch of The Faith News on Wednesday 23 May 2018 - 13:41:16 | by admin

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Local media have reported on a story regarding Liverpool's own favourite son, Ken Dodd; who died in March at the age of 90.

According to the reports, Doddy's widow, Lady Anne Jones, had originally wanted to donate an oil painted portrait of the local King of Comedy to Alder Hey Hospital, after he had raised millions of pounds for medical equipment there.

It now seems that, after all that subsequently happened to little Alfie Evans, Lady Anne has changed her mind and withdrawn the offer.

Another story relating to Alfie has appeared at LifeSiteNews. This relates that, during another well attended Rome March for Life last Saturday, a large banner commemorating Alfie Evans was carried by members of Italiana Christiana.

LifeSiteNews also reports that the march was distinguished by many other signs supporting little Alfie and his family.

It will be remembered that it was the Italians who, (may God bless them for it), made Alfie an Italian citizen in an attempt to save him from the madness of our UK society; which preferred instead to forceably deprive him of oxygen, fluids and nutrition for very long periods of time.

The Rome March for Life was attended by Cardinal Raymond Burke, Archbishop-emeritus Luigi Negri and the former US papal nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Vigano. These prelates were joined by many priests, religious and seminarians, as well as thousands of laity.alfie_italy.jpg
We hope and pray that it will bring some comfort to Tom, Kate and all of Alfie Evans' loved ones to know that they continue to have so much love and support from around the world.

May the Holy Family - pray for them.

Charity Needs Clarity


Torch of The Faith News on Tuesday 22 May 2018 - 10:29:36 | by admin

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The Harm Done by Betrayal

A good priest from another diocese who was in seminary when I was, has been speaking with palpable sadness about how the general perception of priests has been so radically damaged, by the evil actions of those traitorous priests who have sexually abused minors.

Like many Catholics on Merseyside, we have been suffering a great deal ourselves recently, in the wake of the terrible news about Thomas Wood. He was a traditional-seeming priest who offered the Traditional Latin Mass on a regular basis; beautifully restored his traditionally ordered church; who had allowed us to give catechesis in his parish several years ago; and who had even blessed our new home when we first got married in 2002.

Like many other folk, we've suffered a great deal of anguish since Spy Wednesday this year, when local media revealed the distressing court-case details of his having criminally viewed the sexual abuse of children on internet chatrooms, whilst also commenting on those chatrooms about what he would like to do to children.

So bad was this news that, at times, it has been all we could do to remain at the foot of the Cross of Calvary with Our Lady of Sorrows.

Whilst Our Lord has gradually given us the grace to forgive and pray for his redemption, we have also felt keenly for the numerous Catholic families who have been so cruelly betrayed by him. We also found the official press statement of the Archdiocese of Liverpool to be minimalistic and lacking in pastoral care for those who have been so badly betrayed and hurt. It is a dreadful crucifixion. Please do pray for all who have been damaged by all of that.

The Situation Around the World Expressed in Chile

The abuse of minors, the seemingly casual breaking of vows of chastity, the presence of a homosexual subculture and the ongoing revelations of dreadful cases of paedophilia and ephebophilia in parts of the priesthood, have all been horrific aspects of the more general apostasy of these times.

The painful story of Juan Carlos Cruz, who has been at the centre of the awful Fernando Karadima case in Chile, has been harrowing to observe as it unfolded in the media during past months.

I would say that the remarkable mass resignation of all of the Bishops of Chile, having all the appearances of a cheap publicity stunt, has only served to exacerbate the already bad situation.

Whilst such a move has purportedly given Francis the appearance of having acted decisively, it also fails to distinguish between the guilty and the not-guilty; whilst also presenting the world with something that looks like a cheaply, degrading subversion of the supernatural nature and authority of the episcopal office.

One particularly ugly dimension of this whole saga has been the fact that Cruz, a former seminarian claiming to have been sexually abused by Karadima, said that some of those bishops had depicted him as a ''pervert'' in order to accuse him of lying about the abuse itself.

For Cruz's sake, and for that of all those who have been cruelly abused by wicked and un-Catholic narcissists using the Church of Christ as a cover for their evil deeds, I am glad that he has finally felt that he has been listened to and heard by Church authorities, who can actually do something to bring perpetrators to justice and bring healing for the victims like himself.

Cruz' cries for help, and those of countless others like him, should never have been left to fester like they have.

Thanks be to God, I have never suffered sexual abuse in the seminary, but I have experienced grave psychological and spiritual abuse at the hands of anti-Catholic modernists; some of whom even made me fear for my physical safety at certain key times. I was also once threatened that, to get ''safely'' along the cloisters and corridors back to my room each night at the close of day, I had to be lucky every single time; whereas the one threatening me, ''only had to be lucky once''. Nice Christian environment, hey?!!! Like others, I also experienced some unwelcome attempts at ''grooming'' by homosexualists in that sadly unholy environment. Needless to say, I gave these short thrift when they occurred. I also kept my room locked at night. When a radically in-your-face homosexual arrived as a new guy and calmly asked whether the seminarians slept together at night, I double-locked it! I wish someone in authority in the Church would listen to, or even just acknowledge the existence of, my ongoing cries for help, in light of the damage all of this has done to my soul.

Anyway, it is positive that Juan Carlos Cruz at last feels that he has been listened to.

Francis Said What?!!! (And he wasn't even on an aeroplane...)

Ostensibly, it could also have been good to know that Cruz has been able to meet with Francis for acknowledgement of his suffering and pastoral support. Even more, that Francis had moved beyond his own earlier disturbing protectionism of all things Karadima; in which he had even publicly denounced Cruz' claims as mere ''calumny''.

However, as you will by now be only too aware, the problem is that Cruz, who describes himself as a homosexual, has told mainstream media that Francis has now said to him: ''Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like this and loves you like this and I don't care. The pope loves you like this. You have to be happy with who you are.''

Since that initial statement, the mainstream media from here to Los Angeles, and indeed throughout all of the world, has been loudly touting headlines with the general theme: ''Pope Says OK to be Gay!'' This has been given further mileage by the likes of Fr. James Martin (SJ), chirping noisily on twitter with comments like: ''Pope Francis: ''God made you gay.''

Good gracious, so radical is this news, that it has even been discussed by Alex Jones on Info Wars Radio, under the headline, Subversive Pope!

Of course, as is ever the case with Francis, this statement by a party who claims to have been told something by Francis, permits Francis to advance another radical cause or trial balloon, whilst also being afforded the protection of plausible deniability.

All along, from the giving of Holy Communion to adulterers, to the ''sharing'' of Holy Communion with Protestants, to the none-existence of Hell, to support for transgenderism, and on to encouragement for homosexualists, this has been the motif of the Francis era. This pattern is itself consistently reinforced by Vatican press officials, with their non-commital mumbles and blather about private pastoral care of individuals.

In this case, like so many others, the matter is no longer private, nor even about an individual, because a false and even blasphemous impression is being given throughout the whole world, which will only serve to obscure orthodox teaching; endanger countless souls; serve as an occasion of sin to those experiencing same-sex-attraction; damage the Church's mission; confuse the Faithful; bemuse onlookers; put people off conversion; and leave orthodox Catholics who speak out dangerously exposed in an already hostile culture.

Francis' supposed suggestion to Cruz ignores the revealed wisdom of Sacred Scripture, Tradition, and the constant teaching of the Magisterium. It fails to convey the full mysteries of the Natural and the Divine Law; the Human Person; the Creation; Fall; Redemption; Original Sin; Concupiscence; Actual Sin; Mortal Sin; Confession; Chastity; or Grace.

It was this kind of partial teaching, one that promotes the notion that ''God made you gay'', which caused so many faithful Catholic observers to lament the content of Archbishop Malcolm McMahon and the Catholic Education Service's ''homophobic bullying'' materials for young school children last year.

Charity with Perspicuity

Whatever impression Francis might give, and however far and wide this is promoted by mainstream media and false teachers lurking within the Church, the authentic teaching of the Church on this matter is articulated with clarity in paragraphs CCC 2357-2359 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

In attempting to obscure the clarity of these teachings, some try to suggest that they are doing so out of charity for those experiencing homosexual tendencies.

That this is not the case was powerfully, and tragically, brought out in an on-line comment, made several years ago, by a young man in the UK who was experiencing same-sex attraction and homosexual feelings; but who was also struggling in order to cooperate with grace in living a chaste lifestyle.

This courageous chap explained, with deep sadness, how undermined and confused he felt whenever he heard about Cardinal Vincent Nichols' un-Catholic comments on ''gay marriage'' or homosexual civil partnerships, or of his support for LGBT-Masses and dissenting individuals, or groups such as Quest, which openly promote homosexual activity within the Church.

He said such things only served to undermine him and leave him feeling that he had no support from those he should most be able to expect it from; especially given the hostility of our present culture over these matters.

Please pray for that young man, especially now that Francis' words can only have added to his Cross.

In light of that man's words, we must ask of Francis, Cardinal Nichols, and all who promote ideologies so clearly at odds with what the Church has received from Christ and handed on to our own times: How is any of that compassion?

We would suggest that Juan Carlos Cruz, and those like the above-mentioned young man, have already been through enough at the hands of false shepherds. They deserve more than glib publicity stunts and false mercy.

What they, like all of us need is, protection and healing from the sinful crimes of predators; the knowledge that those predators are being brought to justice; conversion and healing from their own sins, pastoral support to grow in Christ's loving freedom; and the truth, which Our Lord has promised will set all people free (John 8:32).

All of which can be summed up succinctly by stating that Charity Needs Clarity.

Another week has arrived in which Francis' words, actions and failure to correct false impressions by clearly proclaiming Catholic Truth, have done enormous damage to the mission of the Church, as well as to souls, throughout the entire world.

Dear readers, we must remain very close to Our Lady. I imagine that Heaven will not let such things go on indefinitely.

Our Lady of Quito - Pray for us!

What Was Ancient and Abandoned, You Shall Rebuild


Torch of The Faith News on Monday 21 May 2018 - 12:37:31 | by admin

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Angeline at the front elevation of the remarkable Harvington Hall, near Kidderminster.

Another Amazing Catholic Manor House

On Friday, we were considering the inspiring Catholic history of Baddesley Clinton manor house near Warwick. We thought that it would be good to follow that piece up with a similar one about the large and fascinating Harvington Hall.

Harvington Hall is another moated manor house, which stands approximately 25 miles to the west of Baddesley Clinton. It is worth studying, because it contains the finest surviving series of priest-holes in all of England.

A Masterpiece of the Genius of St. Nicholas Owen

First constructed in the 1580's by Humphrey Packington, the vast, moated manor house of Harvington Hall allows a unique insight into the creative genius and skill of St. Nicholas Owen.

As we mentioned in Friday's article on Baddesley Clinton, St. Nicholas Owen was a Jesuit lay brother and carpenter, who constructed secret priest-holes in the houses of recusant Catholic families all over England.

These were necessary to provide shelter for Catholic priests from raiding pursuivants, during a time when it was high treason, punishable by hanging, drawing and quartering, to be a Catholic priest operating within the realm of Queen Elizabeth I. Even those who shielded priests could be executed.

Four of the intriguing hiding places at Harvington Hall bear the hallmarks of St. Nicholas Owen.

Given the extent of the work involved at Harvington Hall, it seems a fair conjecture to us to say that the original designs for the central Great Staircase, and therefore of the entire house itself, would always have been structured around the provision of hiding places and the secret access places built into them.

That would mean that, unlike in other places where St. Nicholas Owen needed to apply his lateral thinking and carpentry skills to create hiding places within already existing structures, the original planning for Harvington Hall could have been one in which the form of the whole house would follow the function of sheltering priests. As such, it would be a kind of ''priest-hole designer's dream house'' for him to enjoy exercising his creative genius. It is an interesting theory. 
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Be that as it may, the construction of Harvington Hall provided St. Nicholas Owen with an unprecedented opportunity to develop a series of very sophisticated priestly hiding places.

Stairway to Heaven

Cross-section drawings of the sprawling Harvington Hall reveal an ingenious series of hidden passageways, leading on to various secret hiding places. Though disparate, each of the unique hides is situated around the central structure of the Great Staircase.
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Angeline lifts one of the main stairs to reveal a hiding space for Catholic priests on the run from priest-hunting pursuivants. As you can see, the curators have provided a mock-up of their very own Elizabethan-era priest, kneeling in prayerful supplication in the ''priest-hole''.

As Angeline demonstrates here, one of the main stairs is hinged and can be lifted up to reveal a small hidden room within the staircase proper. The position of the wax-effigy of a hidden priest kneeling in prayer, gives some idea of the amount of space available to someone hiding there. It is not a bad space, considering that some pursuivant raids could last for hours, or even days if the raiders stubbornly remained on or near to the premises.

A few steps higher than this one, two angled treads hinge upwards to provide a small triangular hide. In his informative book, How We Built Britain (2007), which was based on his BBC TV-series of the same name, David Dimbleby suggests that this little hiding place could have contained jewels and some money. However, we think that the historian Alice Hogg may be rather closer to the mark, in her captivating narrative history God's Secret Agents - Queen Elizabeth's Forbidden Priests and the Hatching of the Gunpowder Plot (2005), when she conjectures that the books and equipment for Holy Mass would likely have been stored here.

A Clean Sweep

The young, as well as the young at heart, will likely love the ingenious false fireplace in Harvington Hall's Marble Room.

A carefully spread layer of soot would likely have fooled most observers into thinking that this was just a regular brick fireplace. However, it is not real; stairs up inside the false chimney lead on to a hidden passageway in a maze of attics. There are two hides within these attics; one of which was situated behind a false wall, behind which as many as a dozen adults could safely hide.

Lost in a Book

So well concealed are St. Nicholas Owen's hides at Harvington that one of them was only discovered by accident in the late 1890's.

At that time, the hall had fallen derelict and some young boys had ventured into the empty and damaged building to play. One of them, having climbed up into a space in Dr. Dodd's library, fell against an upright beam. This suddenly pivoted upwards to reveal a further narrow hiding place of eight feet in length, five feet in height and three feet in width.

Closer inspection eventually enabled further understanding of St. Nicholas Owens' giftedness; for inside was a specially constructed stool, too wide to have been pushed into the narrow space, which must have been carved outside, and then assembled in situ, to allow a little rest to any weary priests who might have been forced to hide within the tight confines of that particular hide during the Elizabethan persecution.
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Whilst this image shows the pivoting beam being raised to reveal the inner space, the picture below shows that this beam is itself high up on a raised platform. During Elizabethan times, the place that is now marked below with a red rope would have been covered with book-cupboard doors and removable wooden shelves would have been placed within. Should raiders have arrived at the front door of the hall, any hiding priest could have scrambled up through the cupboard and been hastily installed behind the pivoting beam; whilst assistants could have quickly assembled the facade of the bookcase, inner shelves and, no doubt, a selection of books, across the frontage. It would thus have been an excellent, if rather stuffy and restricted, hiding place!

Catholic Mirth
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You there! Stop smirking, straighten your tie and pay attention. That way, you might actually learn something! Behind you is a raised platform with a red rope. That would originally have been covered with a false bookcase. To the right of the red rope is the upright pivoting beam, which leads into the narrow priest-hole within.

I must say that I was chuckling all the way round Harvington Hall when we visited the place several years ago. This is because there is something of that truly Catholic quality of joyful mirth in the constructions there. G.K. Chesterton was on to something when he said that angels can fly, because they take themselves lightly.

I would say that, even though the dangers faced by priests, recusant families and their servants in those times were extremely grave, there is nevertheless something tongue-in-cheek about St. Nicholas Owens' hiding places. I bet he had a deal of fun designing them!

The various hides at Harvington, including also later additions such as the lifting floor panel in the high chapel, the wide space in the kitchen shaft and the great loft hide, have something about them which calls to mind the fast witticisms, and more importantly the underlying charitable kindness, displayed by some of the martyrs as they were led out to die for Christ and the True Faith on the scaffold.

As an enclosed nun once explained to us during a tour of the martyrs' museum at Tyburn Convent in London, it was the charity and forgiveness of the martyrs at their unjust trials and deaths which makes them such valuable witnesses down to the present day. Like Christ, they mercifully prayed for the ultimate salvation of their enemies. What a deep prayer life those martyrs must have cultivated.

Subsequent History

Dr. Dodd, for whom the library was named, was actually a pseudonym of Fr. Hugh Tootell, who lived at the hall and wrote a church history in that room during the 1700's.

Out in the grounds is the marvellous Elizabethan Malt House. The lower sandstone and upper brick-timber has been reconstructed to appear as it would have done in its heyday.
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The interior houses a restored 18th-Century malting kiln and now features modern educational technologies and resources.

There is also a restored Georgian-period chapel in the grounds at Harvington Hall. By that era, anti-Catholic persecution had certainly subsided in England, at least in its most virulent forms. Nevertheless, Catholics still ''kept their heads down'' so to speak. As such, the chapel is camouflaged by two parallel walls, running at 10ft in height between the chapel and courtyard, to provide discreet access, thus sheltered from any prying eyes which may have been watching from the nearby fields.

My Lord and the Angel

If you are interested in learning more about Harvington Hall, we recommend Rosie Martin's enchanting book, My Lord and the Angel: Encounter at Harvington Hall (1997).
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As a small child growing up in the 1920's, Rosie had wandered into the, then, largely derelict Harvington Hall. During her secret visit, she had encountered the other-worldly Archbishop Edward Isley of Birmingham, who was then living in part of the hall, and his devoted sister. As the venerable Archbishop was being addressed as ''My Lord'' by the old lady, the infant Rosie imagined in her innocence that this mysterious figure must be God.

In a manner which is at once down-to-earth, and yet also deeply mystical, Rosie's  book touchingly recounts her lifelong journey, from her subsequent childhood conversion and reception into the Catholic Faith until her life as a Catholic lady of mature years and outlook.

The consistent theme at the centre of all her varied experiences, and of her deepening understanding and spirituality, is always that sense of enchantment and encounter which she first received as a little girl in Harvington Hall.
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Handing on the Legacy

As our article has already twice alluded, Harvington Hall had fallen into a largely derelict condition during the 19th and early 20th-centuries. Incredibly, the original Central Staircase was removed and taken to Coughton Court in 1910. 

Coughton Court has its own remarkable recusant Catholic history. Indeed, in 1858, a cleverly concealed priest-hole was rediscovered in the Tower Room there. Again, when Coughton Court was fully opened up in 1910, the priest's hiding place was found to contain a rope ladder, small tapestry, bedding and a folding altar, made from leather.

As a double-hide, this meant that, even if pursuivants had discovered the outer space, they would have been unlikely to make the further discovery of the second, deeper priest-hole within.

However, Harvington Hall is itself now restored, owned and run through a trust by the Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham.

The central stairway, complete with hides, was carefully recreated on site to provide this important window onto such an important period of English Catholic history.

As was the case with Baddesley Clinton, we highly recommend this manor house as a place for prayerful reflection on the legacy of the English Martyrs and the truths of the Catholic Faith.

Visitors today can also enjoy a pleasant tea-room, a decent souvenir shop, walks in the lovely grounds and a visit to the herb gardens, which have been recreated in the style of those from the Elizabethan era.

Looking Back to Go Forward

The title of our article today is taken from Isaiah 58, which graces the heraldic mantel in the fully restored and wood-pannelled Great Chamber at Harvington Hall. In Latin it reads: Aedificabuntur in te deserta saeculorum. In English, that is rendered as, What was ancient and abandoned, you shall rebuild.

As well as being an apposite motto for the resurrected Harvington Hall, pointing beyond itself to that of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, we also think it very apt for Catholics striving to remain faithful and, by the help of God's grace, to restore the Church in our own days.

Although no priests were ever captured from Harvington Hall - the hides were that good! - the martyr-priest St. John Wall did live and work there for several years. And, of course, there is the very tangible link, through his own planning and work, to St. Nicholas Owen himself.

Prior to his own capture and martyrdom in 1606 AD, St. Nicholas was actually starved out of one of his own hides over at Hindlip House. Sadly, Hindlip was demolished in 1815, but extant descriptions of the series of hiding places there reveal striking similarities to those of Harvington.

Harvington Hall is also a good place to pray, because of the fine Small Chapel; enhanced as it is by the wall paintings from around 1600 AD, which depict red and white droplets to call to mind the Blood and Water flowing from the Heart of Christ at His Sacred Passion.

The courage, ingenuity, love and faith of the English Catholic martyrs and recusants can still teach us a great deal in the difficult times through which you and I now live. They kept the light of the Catholic Faith burning here in England, through dark centuries when the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Sacred Priesthood were outlawed under extreme penalties. When the Faith was gradually allowed to return, through the changing flux of history, and the massive influx of Catholic immigrants through the Industrial Revolution and the Irish Famines, there were found a few who had never lost the Faith of Our Fathers, and who had kept practicing the Faith in hidden places throughout all of those difficult centuries.

One could even posit that the graces won by these heroes paved the way for the many thousands who were received into the Catholic Church in Great Britain between the 1850's and 1950's; a heritage which has been largely squandered in the decades following the Second Vatican Council.

May the witness and prayers of the Holy Martyrs and recusants help us to be inspired and to Keep the Faith!

Holy martyrs of England and Wales - pray for us!     

Pentecost Sunday 2018


Torch of The Faith News on Sunday 20 May 2018 - 20:54:43 | by admin

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The Traditional Missal teaches us that the Church today worships in a special way the Holy Spirit, the spirit of truth and holiness, Who endows the True Church of Christ with infallibility in preaching and efficacy in sanctifying.

The vestments in the Holy Mass are red, in memory of the tongues of fire which descended to Our Blessed Lady and the Apostles. In the first centuries, Pentecost was the conclusion of the Easter period, but in the 11th-Century it was made an independent feast, and given an octave, during which the newly-baptized from Easter are traditionally prayed for.

During those years I spent in the seminary, there was a ''recommended reading'' shelf which, though it did contain some good material, was also a means for the unfortunate propagation of writings from the likes of Hans Kung, Richard McBrien, Karl Rahner and Edward Schillebeeckx; as well as some less well known authors who were promoting similarly reductionist ideas, specifically in the fields of Biblical studies, liturgy, sacramental theology and church architecture.

Although these writings were ''recommended'' for the coursework, I avoided most of them; scanning only sufficient material from some of them to pass the courses concerned.

The paucity of good, orthodox reading on that shelf led me to do some extra-curricula reading in my own time, by venturing into the aisles of the well-stocked sections of older Catholic books in the library.

Had I known what I know nowadays, I would have spent a great deal more time in those library aisles reading and learning, and much more time alone in the chapel praying, but they do say that youth is wasted on the young.

Nevertheless, I did make some good use of my time in those years, by becoming familiar with the Christology of the early Church Councils, some of the writings of the Fathers at the Council of Trent, those of the Popes of the 19th - early-20th-Centuries, the history of the Oratorians, John Paul II's Redemptoris Mater and the splendid writings of St. Irenaeus of Lyons (AD 130 - 202).

Thanks be to God, for that priceless opportunity.

I would still say that, for my formation in the Faith, St. Irenaeus' Adversus Haereses (Against All Heresies), together with the early Church Councils, continues to rank among the most important and faith-shaping texts that I have read.

Period.

As such, it seems appropriate on this great feast of Pentecost to provide a short section for the edification and prayer of readers.

St. Irenaeus wrote: ''Therefore the Lord promised to send us the Holy Spirit to make us fit for God's purposes. Just as dry flour cannot coalesce into a lump of dough, still less a loaf, without moisture, so too we, being many, could not become one in Christ Jesus without the water which comes from Heaven. And just as dry soil cannot bear fruit unless it receives moisture, so we, who to begin with are dry wood, can never bear the fruit of life unless the rain from Heaven falls upon our wills... For our bodies through the water of Baptism have received the unity which leads to freedom from corruption; but our souls have received it through the Holy Spirit.''

On this feast day, and during the holy octave which follows, it can also be very fruitful to spend some time in silence to pray slowly and devotedly through the words of the Veni, Sancte Spiritus; which forms the Sequence in the Traditional Latin Mass for today.

Here, also, is the Postcommunion prayer for Pentecost (Whit Sunday) in the Traditional Latin Mass: May the inpouring of the Holy Spirit purify our hearts, O Lord, and render them fruitful by the sprinkling of His dew over our innermost being. Through our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, Who lives and reigns with Thee, in unity with the same Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.

We wish all our readers a blessed and holy feast of Pentecost. May we all receive a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, homes and lives, on the Church and on our society. Amen.

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