Catechism of the Catholic Church (675)

Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh. ~ Catechism of the Catholic Church (675)

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Are you a Donatist?

I confess that I am no Church historian and that about the great Donatist heresy/crisis I do not know very much. As a 'loyal son of the Church' I cannot imagine that St Augustine of Hippo would set his face against the words of Christ and ignore His words on the adulterous nature of second marriages resulting from divorce from a first marriage. Nor can I imagine him as a disobedient or reckless custodian of the Blessed Sacrament.

Nor can I imagine as a 'loyal son of the Church' the great Saint and Doctor of the Church particularly enjoying his reputation as one who sought to extend mercy and forgiveness to those who had betrayed the Church in the heat of persecution - but who were repentant - being manipulated by the Bishops of England and Wales as a pretty neat theological argument for Kasper's sacriligious Communion-for-all-no-matter-what proposal. To use St Augustine's argument against the Donatists as a framework for casting those who follow Jesus Christ's own Teaching and 2,000 years of doctrine and discipline as heretics or traditores is clever in that kind of clever way in which the Serpent seduced Eve to disobey God, but like all seductive untruths it rings hollow with a little bit of objective thought and analysis.

Preparing for the 2015 Synod: A Time of 'Reflection'


A document was recently sent to me which which will raise the eyebrows of many and break the hearts of more than a few and it concerns the Bishops of England and Wales latest release to the Clergy in preparation for the 2015 Synod. If you are a faithful Catholic clergyman and haven't yet seen this, you might want to read this another day of the week because I am going to seriously spoil your Sunday. This is a long post, but that's because the CBCEW document to Clergy is long on spin and short on doctrine and to do this document justice requires a lengthy post. Who could possibly be giving them these 'new ideas'? I am not convinced they have thought of this line of argument themselves but then who am I to judge? The document entitled, 'Reflection Document for Clergy on Marriage and Family Life' begins thus (note: if you cannot bear Bishopese, then do feel free to skip to the next set of paragraphs, because you are not missing much in doing so)...


'The time between the two synods has been called by Pope Francis to be a time of “true spiritual discernment” on the family and its context in the society of today. The Bishops of England and Wales ask the clergy of our countries to reflect on the importance of marriage and the role of the clergy in accompanying of people on their journey of marriage and as families. The Synod next year has the title The Vocation and the Mission of the Family in the Church and in the Contemporary World.
As clergy, we meet people at various stages of their vocation and journey. We meet many couples who are living together when they bring their children to be baptised. Not all these couples have thought about being married or they may have previous marital relationships which have broken down which they have left. We encounter couples at the stage of engagement who come to us seeking the celebration of marriage in the Church. We are witnesses to the celebration of the marriage which is a joyful expression of the commitment and love that the couple have for each other. 
We are part of the onward expression of life and love as the couple form a home, often are blessed with children, and seek our support and help to bring faith to the children and the family as a whole. This is often manifested through the ongoing celebrations of the sacraments of baptism, reconciliation and Holy Communion with the children born of the marriage. We also meet families in times of crisis such as divorce, or when they present for the baptism of children and sacraments after having been divorced and now civilly married. Sometimes people tell their story when they are very ill and preparing for death. We meet people at many different stages of family life which are often not cleanly defined in this way nor do they occur in the “traditional” order in which we used to think.
The Synod final document from last October calls us to echo Jesus’ own approach to dealing with what we could see as the messiness of family life in the contemporary world; we are, like Jesus, to look “…upon the women and men [he met] with love and tenderness, accompanying their steps with patience and mercy, in proclaiming the demands of the Kingdom of God.” (Synod Document, 11) The Synod does not shirk from the truth of the Gospel and the Kingdom, urging us to make the “demands of the Kingdom of God” but this must be accompanied with a compassion and love, seeing firstly persons who are loved by God and secondly their situations.
As Saint John Paul II almost twenty years ago wrote in Veritatis splendor 95: … a clear and forceful presentation of moral truth can never be separated from a profound and heartfelt respect, born of that patient and trusting love which man always needs along his moral journey, a journey frequently wearisome on account of difficulties, weakness and painful situations. The Church can never renounce the "the principle of truth and consistency, whereby she does not agree to call good evil and evil good"; she must always be careful not to break the bruised reed or to quench the dimly burning wick (cf. Is 42:3).'

Now for the Augustinian bombshell...


So far, so predictable, but now for the new and provocative 'line of attack' against those who might be 'tempted' to hold firmly to Christ and His Teachings...

St Augustine of Hippo
'Pope Francis has invited reflection on the ways in which we accompany people so that step-by-step they may come to understand the call of Christ and the way in which they are to live in their lives. How do we reach out to people in their very diverse situations? 

St Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo and Doctor of the Truth of the Church, offers us a way of looking at the Church from his age which is still relevant today. The Church in North Africa was ruptured in the early fourth century by the Donatist heresy. St Augustine spoke against this heresy in the Council of Carthage in June 411.
The Donatists believed that they represented a ‘Church of the pure,’ uncontaminated by dissent from those who betrayed their Christian faith during a period of persecution. They alleged that the Catholic Church of Augustine’s day was contaminated by their ancient link with those who in the persecution a century earlier consigned the Sacred Scriptures to fire, ‘the traditores.’

Two parables from Matthew’s gospel, chapter 13, figure prominently throughout Augustine’s writings in this bitter dispute: the wheat and the tares (vv 24-30), and that of the net gathering fish of every kind (47-50).

The followers of Donatus wanted no contact whatever with Catholics whom they believed were contaminated and could not represent the Church of Christ. They considered themselves the sole representatives of the true Church because of their steadfastness during the persecution. Taking his cue from the parable of the wheat and tares Augustine argued strongly and insistently for patience and tolerance, and that to uproot the tares would mean damaging the good seed as well. Augustine was following what the master in the parable himself said: ‘No, lest in gathering the tares you root up the wheat along with them.’(13:29)

Answering the assertion that the Catholic Church accepted and acquiesced to the presence of sinners in its midst, Augustine maintained that good Catholics would not be affected by sinners provided they did not imitate the behaviour of such people. The master in the parable was also content to wait until harvest time when a final separation would take place: the tares would be tied in bundles and burnt, whereas the wheat would be gathered into the barn. Augustine interpreted this as referring to the last judgement when Christ himself would separate the good from the bad once and for all.
"Something's not quite right here..."
In his understanding of the other parable, that of the net thrown into the sea and catching fish of every kind, Augustine again highlights the necessity of waiting until the final reckoning or judgement when the angels will separate the evil from the righteous. It is not for us to make rash or premature conclusions. Augustine makes another interesting point: when the net is cast into the sea the fisherman has no idea which are good fish and which are not since they remain out of sight. That will only become evident when they are sifted on the seashore. What Augustine implies is that we are not in a position in this life to pass judgement on others. Only Christ can see the full picture and will reveal it on judgement day.
Throughout this whole controversy with the Donatists, Augustine appeals for peace and unity in the Church: “From now on live in the harmony of peace, adhere to unity, acquiesce in charity, yield to the truth.” (Ad Donatistas post Collationem, 18,24)

In preparation for the next Synod such key words of St Augustine can help us move the debate beyond particularly difficult issues and set these same issues in a wider context. The Church is called to proclaim the peace of Christ to his people, and to the world. People need and want to hear this proclamation, in their often confused and fragmented lives. The concept of charity is a hallmark of Augustine of Hippo’s whole theology. Can charity allow us to live with difference, without diminishing what is essential to our Catholic faith? The ancient dictum of unsure provenance breathes the spirit of Augustine: Liberty in what is doubtful, unity in what is essential, and charity in everything. Augustine’s own personal journey to find the truth was long and arduous; at times he despaired of finding it, before he gradually came to it in piecemeal fashion and by the kindness and witness of others. In a rapidly developing world, particularly where moral autonomy is concerned, we need patience and tolerance before clarity and truth emerge in people’s lives.'

All of which may be perfectly true, but quite how these facts concerning the ministry and writings of St Augustine of Hippo would lend themselves to the idea that this or any Doctor of the Church would call for the abandonment of Christ's own Teachings 'on a pastoral level' are never addressed. Well, why would they be? After all, the Bishops themselves in this effort to 'canvass' the clergy cannot bring themselves to be wholly upfront about what pretext lays behind this bizarre Donatists vs St Augustine preamble, just as His Holiness himself has never said, "This Kasper proposal for jettisoning Christ from Christianity is fantastic!" What His Holiness has been saying is than 'many in the Church' are "Pelagians, restorationists, rigorists and Pharisees (etc...)" who resist the Holy Spirit and the schizophrenic jack-in-box god of surprises at a time when Cardinal Kasper has been permitted to release his toxic theology upon the whole Church in front of the whole world. The English and Welsh Bishops are obviously taking their cue from someone. Who is it?

"Something's not quite right here..."
And of course, the Church already extends a welcome to people of 'diverse' situations, constantly holding sinners to Her breast, but neither St Augustine, nor any other Saint, advised giving Holy Communion to the unrepentant in mortal sin with no intention of removing themselves from it. Does this 'reflection' acknowledge this unfortunate fact? Unfortunately not!

Are you a Donatist?


Thus, having set the context nicely for clergy to 'reflect' on whether they are 'Donatist' in their long-held belief that everything Christ taught was and remains true and that there is no conflict whatsoever between believing what Christ taught, preaching and teaching what Christ taught and acting accordingly in their vocation as clergy, various questions are then posed by our beloved Shepherds to the clergy for further 'reflection'. There are quite a few questions, but the stand out ones are these, for reasons which will be obvious. They are as follows...

Are you still reading?

Under the heading, 'Accompanying Couples in the Stage of Engagement' the following questioned are posed...

  • Do you find the ambiguity present in many couples who come for marriage (i.e. that they are already living together, that they may already have children) difficult to approach with them?
  •  Do you feel you can challenge them to “live the virtues” in the situation they are in?
  • What resources have you found to be most useful?

Under the heading, 'Accompanying Those Whose Marriages Break Down' the following questioned are posed...

  • How do you accompany those whose marriage relationship is breaking down? 
  • What are the sources of help and assistance? Do you refer them to others?
  • How do people who are divorced experience being a part of the Church? How are they welcomed and included?
  • If people come to you who are living in ‘second unions’ what is your pastoral practice? Do they come to the sacraments? How do you help them to approach the marriage tribunal? Are there cases where you think they might be welcomed to Holy Communion even though their objective situation has not been remedied? What might they be?
  • How can the Church witness to being a Church of mercy and truth?

Donatist heresy: It's not what you thought it was...
Under the heading, 'Accompanying People Who Have Homosexual Tendencies' the following questioned are posed...

  • How do you minister to those people who have homosexual tendencies and help them to integrate their sexual orientation?
  • How do you minister to their families? What is the experience that the bishops need to hear?
  • What is your approach when people who are in same-sex partnerships approach the Church for welcome and inclusion?
  • Do you find the whole issue of same-sex relationships difficult and would like help and guidance on how to minister to these people effectively?

In conclusion the 'reflection' which might as well have been called, 'Are you a Donatist priest or deacon? Here are some questions to help you decide', asks for 'true spiritual discernment' from the clergy so that the Synod can report on what clergy and lay faithful make of all this ecclesiastical navel-gazing.

"Who knows what's down the road?"
The document closes thus...

'These reflections will aid the process of true spiritual discernment that the Holy Father has asked the Church to engage in between the two Synod meetings. The Church can never abstract itself from the world in which we live in, but we witness to the truth of faith that the Lord gave us. In doing this work, we should strive to live by the precepts of St Augustine, of patience and tolerance, seeking the truth in charity. The Synod of Bishops is called to look at these issues “by carefully surveying the signs of the times, we are making every effort to adapt ways and methods…to the growing needs of our time and the changing conditions of society.” (Apostolic Motu Proprio Apostolica Sollicitudo B. Paul VI).
  • By reflecting on the pastoral situation of marriage, the clergy contribute to the process of the synod. One way that this could occur would be through:
  • Personal reflection and common discussion of the issues raised at your deanery meetings.
  • Collating the issues raised through the deaneries for a further focussed discussion at the Council of Priests
  • Submitting to the Bishops’ Conference a short report from each diocese outlining the discussions that the clergy have held.
Clergy are asked to send any reports to be reviewed by the Synod Delegates for England and Wales by Pentecost 2015.' 

The laity, too, are to be given their own 'reflection'. Strangely, the confrontation between St Augustine and the Donatists, in our 'reflection', is not mentioned at all. Presumably, no Bishop would think of subtly telling the laity they are heretics if they don't accept the desecration of the Eucharist, the demolition of the Catholic Faith and the torching of the Catechism. You can only get away with doing that kind of thing to your clergy. A very happy Fourth Sunday of Advent to you all. Of course, if you are a faithful Catholic priest or deacon, or even just a faithful Catholic, perhaps not so happy a Sunday after all. Just remember Fathers, free, full and frank discussion is welcomed in the Catholic Church in 2015, but don't you go thinking of holding fast to Christ's teachings, you stubborn old Donatists, you! I guess the revolution won't be televised after all. It'll all be read out one day in a pastoral letter instead.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Support and Pray for Bernadette Smyth


There will be a prayer vigil for the head of Precious Life, a vigil in solidarity and support of Bernie Smyth, Director of Precious Life, Northern Ireland, and all pro life activists, Wednesday 17th @10.30am, @ Laganside court, Oxford St, Belfast. 

For background to this story read this courtesy of Precious Life.

'Bernie Smyth is being sentenced on Wednesday for the unjust and erroneous conviction of "harassment" of Dawn Purvis, Head of Marie Stopes in Northern Ireland. Marie Stopes were very angry at the babies being saved by the help of prolife volunteers at MS, including twins whose mother they helped, on the day Dawn Purvis accused Bernie of harassment. The appeal against this patently wrongful conviction is in January. Please come to show your support for peaceful pro lifers who are being slandered and persecuted. Please pray for Bernie and spread the word!

Ms Smyth, founder of the internationally-respected pro-life outreach, Precious Life, is widely admired for her compassionate efforts to assist mothers in crisis, and to stop abortion.

Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute said that it was farcical that the case had come to the court in the first instance, and that the decision convicting Ms Smyth of harassment was ridiculous.

"This court decision will be appealed, and rightly so, because the ruling strikes against the civil and human rights of every citizen to speak up against abortion. Furthermore, it doesn't speak to the facts of the case, which were that Bernadette at no time approached or threatened any Marie Stopes employee," she said.

"It is ridiculous to believe that laughter constitutes harassment, or that Dawn Purvis was intimidated by pro-life people praying and counselling peacefully outside her clinic," she said.

Ms Purvis opened a Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast in 2012, seeking to become the first private clinic to offer medical abortions to women in Northern Ireland. She was previously a leader in the Progressive Unionist Party who were linked to the Ulster Volunteer Force, terrorists who carried out some of the most brutal killings in the region during the 30-year conflict, and who were also believed to be responsible for the Dublin-Monaghan bombings.

"Dawn Purvis is simply using this complaint to try to shut down opposition to Marie Stopes, who make millions from killing unborn babies every year as a major player in the abortion industry," she added.

Ms Uí Bhriain said she found the statements made by the judge 'extraordinary' and 'deeply troubling'.

"I would question what motivations are at play here to be honest," she said. "This is a judge who has openly admitted to having a real issue with any pro-life presence outside the abortion clinic saying that he did 'not feel it's appropriate for anyone to be stopped outside this clinic in any form, shape or fashion'.

"He appears to believe he can suspend the civil and human rights of any activist who wishes to counsel women and that's a decision that could have very troubling implications not just for pro-life activists but for anyone who wants to make a public witness," she said.

Youth Defence spokeswoman, Clare Molloy, said that the truth was that pro-life people had been assaulted, insulted and now falsely accused for simply reaching out to mothers and unborn children at the Marie Stopes abortion clinic.

"Bernadette's lawyer has pointed out that this court case was a ploy to deter Precious Life and to curtail their rights under Articles 9, 10 and 11 of the European Convention, but they will not be silenced and we stand with Bernadette Smyth," said the Youth Defence spokeswoman.

She said that Marie Stopes had singled out Ms Smyth for legal harassment because they knew she was widely admired by pro-life people throughout the country, and Precious Life was leading opposition to extending abortion into Northern Ireland.

The court heard that Dawn Purvis always initiated contact with Bernadette, and that there had been no bad language, no attempts to follow Purvis, no calls or emails to Purvis, from Bernadette. This ruling reeks of political motivation," she said.

She called on pro-life people across the country to stand with Bernadette Smyth and in defence of life until the ruling had been overturned.'

It's not looking good for Fido...

No matter how you dress it up, Scripture is clear

'Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to render to every man according to his works. I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Blessed are they that wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb: that they may have a right to the tree of life, and may enter in by the gates into the city. Without are dogs, and sorcerers, and unchaste, and murderers, and servers of idols, and every one that loveth and maketh a lie.' (Apoc. 22: 12-15)

So that's that theological question settled then...

Monday, 15 December 2014

Peace to All Men of Goodwill


No matter how irritating an individual is, how 'rigid' or 'weak-hearted' we may (in a fit of outright judgmentalism) consider a person to be, I would have thought that praying to God that that person might fall into sin to 'teach him a good lesson' might just be the very opposite of what Christ taught us about loving our enemies.

Warming hearts

Not being graced with the gift of reading hearts and souls, I would be very cautious about calling someone 'weak-hearted'. How would I know someone's heart?

I am taught to hate sin in myself and in others while loving God and my neighbour for God's sake. Would it not be more Christian, should we have some reason to believe that someone is a bit hypocritical or a bit of a Pharisee to pray that the Lord Jesus might grant to that servant of His the virtue of humility? Further, I would urge caution on anyone believing he knows the hearts of others merely by judging their external actions. For example, a priest or bishop who urges fidelity to the customs and disciplines of the Church need not be dubbed a hypocrite or a Pharisee, simply because he is faithful to the Church in small matters as well as in great. It would be a bit lazy, shallow and cheap to deduce the heart of a man by such things as fidelity to say, canon law.

Not wishing to judge the Pope, because I cannot, what I can say is that what Pope Francis has said about asking the Lord to throw a banana skin under someone's feet so that they might fall into sin in order to learn humility is just about the most atrocious, spiteful and vindictive thing I think I have heard in some time. I know not whether Francis is spiteful and vindictive, I am sure His Holiness is trying with God's grace to be Christlike, but what he has said is not edifying...

“Even our life can become like that, even our life. And sometimes, I confess something to you, when I have seen a Christian, a Christian of that kind, with a weak heart, not firm, not fixed on the rock—Jesus – and with such rigidness on the outside, I ask the Lord: ‘But Lord, throw a banana peel in front of them, so that they will take a good fall, and feel shame that they are sinners, and so encounter You, [and realize] that You are the Saviour. Many times a sin will make us feel shame, and make us encounter the Lord, Who pardons us, as the sick who were there and went to the Lord for healing.”

For wishing for a person we dislike to fall into sin is to wish the very worst evil upon our neighbour. What if, because of his sin, the individual's heart is hardened against God and he fails to repent? Bad as it is, it would be better to wish upon a person some kind of bodily illness than to wish our neighbour to imperil his immortal soul. We do not need to 'take a good fall' in order to grow in humility. I would have thought, too, that it is not God but the Devil who puts banana skins in our way. Just how Christian does this sound?

X is really (insert annoying habit here).  I pray to You, O Lord, that he might (insert mortal or venial sin here) and learn from this experience his own weakness, so that he might trust in You and become more (insert virtue here).

Our need for repentance and conversion

We need only examine our consciences and humble ourselves before God. We do not need to embrace a big juicy sin to grow in holiness or become humble, even if Confession humbles the soul that humbles herself. We need regularly Confession anyway as both a remedy for sin and to grow in love of God, to fight the good fight.

Just as it appears on paper, far from being a Christian remark, it is the very opposite of one, and, I have to say, Pope Francis today gives us a homily that puts to the test the charity of those in his spiritual care - myself included. We all think uncharitable things of others of course and His Holiness thankfully says, before he retells the anecdote, "I confess something to you."  Therefore, we must assume this is a train of thought of which His Holiness is not proud. In charity, then, let us restate what we are actually taught about the love of neighbour.

'The Catechism is clear...'

The Penny Catechism states quite clearly...

333. What rule of life must we follow if we hope to be saved?
If we hope to be saved, we must follow the rule of life taught by Jesus Christ.
334. What are we bound to do by the rule of life taught by Jesus Christ?
By the rule of life taught by Jesus Christ we are bound always to hate sin and to love God.

335. How must we hate sin?
We must hate sin above all other evils, so as to be resolved never to commit a wilful sin, for the love or fear of anything whatsoever.

336. How must be love God?
We must love God above all things, and with our whole heart.

337. How must we learn to love God?
We must learn to love God by begging of God to teach us to love him: 'O my God, teach me to love you'.

338. What will the love of God lead us to do?
The love of God will lead us often to think how good God is; often to speak to him in our hearts; and always to seek to please him.

339. Does Jesus Christ also command us to love one another?
Jesus Christ also commands us to love one another - that is, all persons without exception - for his sake.

340. How are we to love one another?
We are to love one another by wishing well to one another, and praying for one another; and by never allowing ourselves any thought, word or deed to the injury of anyone.

341. Are we also bound to love our enemies?
We are also bound to love our enemies; not only by forgiving them from our hearts, but also by wishing them well, and praying for them.

With this in mind, then, I hope that when Christ comes to judge His Holiness either at his death or at the Lord's glorious Second Coming, that the venerable Popes ranked among the Saints who upheld centuries of Church discipline with regard to the Eucharistic fast exercise more clemency to Your Holiness than you have exercised today towards them. For when Christ comes, He will come with His Saints, among whom will be Popes, who will judge the world. Know you not that the saints shall judge this world? 


Year Zero

It is surely not wise for any Bishop or Pope to pour scorn on his faithful and loyal predecessors who simply transmitted that which they received with regard to faith and morals for the good of the salvation of souls. It is not wise to disparage those who uphold the teachings and disciplines of the Church for behind each is sound theology and reasoning.

Many Popes are Saints on the other side of the veil. Far from wishing to place "a heavy Cross" on their spiritual children, they desired that our reverence for the Eucharistic Lord may be maintained by hungering for Him, or has the sound reasoning behind the Eucharistic fast never been understood by this Pope? Does His Holiness believe the Popes just wanted to punish the Church's children with a "heavy Cross" on a Sunday morning? To say such would be a grave misrepresentation of the motives of these Chief Shepherds.

To appear in the Court of Heaven and to find you have made, instead of friends, enemies of the Saints of God is a pretty daunting thing, as if Death and Judgment were not daunting enough as it is! Therefore Your Holiness, surely any Christian would advise caution in this regard. If only we could comprehend what Holy Communion truly is, if our spiritual eyes could penetrate through that glass we now see through but darkly, there is no Cross we would not bear happily in order to taste the Bread of Heaven, the Food of Life, Our Eucharistic Lord. Sorry if anyone is shocked by this blog post. I am genuinely appalled by what His Holiness has said today. We do nobody any favours by pretending it has not been said.

Pope St Pius X: "Did I just hear someone call me a Pharisee?"
There is a legend, perhaps a 'popular myth' concerning Henry VIII's deathbed, that the Tudor king saw a vision of monks he had had executed and reacted with fright towards seeing them awaiting his death.

The king “was afflicted with visionary horrors at the hour of his departure; for that he glanced with rolling eyes and looks of wild import towards the darker recesses of his chamber, muttering, ‘Monks - monks!" 

Whether the story is true or not, there's a "lesson" in there for all of us, from Pope to layman. Befriend the Saints and don't consider yourself wiser than those who are in Heaven already, because you are not yet there. Today's homily feels like further preparation for some kind of new 'Year Zero' in the near future and anyone who opposes what is in the pipeline is to be labelled a 'Pharisee'. By all accounts that's a dangerous ploy, because onlookers and witnesses to such events are not merely on Earth, but Heaven also. I guess that at the end of the day, if you think this Creole Mass at St Peter's Basilica is 'a bit much', you might be some kind of 'rigid' kind of 'Pharisee'. Go over to YouTube and check out the comments...



All you holy, blessed and canonized Popes.
Ora pro nobis!

The odds on the Franciscans of the Immaculate overthrowing this papacy are very long, but...

'Its time is almost up, its days will not last long. 
Yes, the Lord will have pity on Jacob, and Israel will be saved!'

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Christmas Reading

I was recently given a book called 'Liturgical Time Bombs in Vatican II', by the late, and much admired, Michael Davies.

I look forward to reading it over the Christmas period.

Vatican II, eh?

Finally! Something all Catholics can agree on!

I'll happily do a book review for readers once I have read it.

Looks thoroughly interesting!

Eh? No?

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Last Post on Abortion Imagery

I apologise to anyone I've offended over the abortion images blog posts. When I wrote about it, the first one at least, I was under the general impression that this simply wasn't a Catholic kind of imagery used outside abortion clinics and that Catholic pro-life vigils were on the whole a bit more gentle and cautious than the more controversial style of Abort 67.

Ironically, Abort 67 are depicted by the media as bringing an 'American style' approach to abortion protesting, but from what I hear and see of US vigils on the internet, images of aborted fetuses are not a common feature of pro-life work in the US anymore. Therefore, to anyone I have offended, I apologise. Because I have never seen Catholics using such imagery in this country, I was genuinely surprised by the mixed response to the post. I did it once with Abort 67 - a definitively not Catholic organisation - and really didn't feel right about it afterwards, but that's a reflection on my personal experience. Having stood outside an abortion clinic in front of graphic images of aborted babies while trying to give out leaflets women walked into the clinic and came out - some in tears - I honestly felt not quite right about it afterwards. I felt morally justified but I didn't feel 'right' though I do acknowledge and do know that pro-life vigils are not about me.

Readers are, I hope, aware that the images of the type used by Abort 67 have not been a feature of British anti-abortion protests in the recent past and it is genuinely still quite a 'new thing' on the pro-life scene. It has certainly helped to keep abortion in the public eye, that's for sure. Like I said, I admire anyone who is willing to stand up in the public square for the unborn. They are certainly giving a voice to the voiceless and standing in defence of the weak and defenceless unborn. In terms of freedom of speech, it wouldn't be just for the Government to compel the group to cease, but I won't be terribly surprised if they do - even though that would be wrong. The fear I expressed was that the publicity generated by Abort 67 could bring in legislation to stop them, but that legislation would not be limited to the actions of this one group - but all - whether they use such images or not.

I'm not completely convinced that when during the Aztec period, human sacrifices were performed and children sacrificed up to pagan idols, people of the time were 'not aware' of the 'full implications' of what they were doing. I think their beliefs made them feel justified in what they were doing even though what they were doing was contrary to love and the natural law. I'm convinced that most women who have abortions have an awareness that what they are doing is morally wrong - that it involves the snuffing out of a human life - but I think that much like the times of the Aztecs converted to the One True Faith by Our Lady of Guadalupe, the idols of the age give to those women a belief that the choice to have an abortion is justified - no matter what the cost to the unborn. There is, after all, nothing new under the sun.

I was going to post an image of a real can of worms for the blogpost but thought better of it, thinking that for those who find cans of worms a bit repulsive, it might be best to use the cartoon image instead. In future, I think I will blog on things all Catholics can agree on, like, er, raising concerns about the lively and interesting pontificate of Pope Francis. Thank you, readers, for your responses to my posts on this subject. I don't claim and didn't that I am absolutely right on the matter of how we should go about raising awareness of the urgent need to protect the precious lives of the unborn. It would appear that opinion on that matter remains very much divided. I think I have had a glimpse of the strength and depth of different opinions that make the British pro-life movement the diverse movement that it is.

Friday, 12 December 2014

New Look for the Blog



I'm considering this new look header for my vigorously pro-life blog.

Do you like it?

I can't see any reason why this header would put people off reading my blog, can you?

UPDATE:
ABOVE WAS A GRAPHIC ABORTION IMAGE.
IT HAS BEEN TAKEN DOWN UPON REQUEST BY A PRO-LIFE CATHOLIC.
THE REQUEST TO REMOVE IT CAME APPROXIMATELY 
1 MINUTE AFTER UPLOAD.

IF CATHOLICS WHO ARE AGAINST ABORTION CANNOT BEAR TO LOOK AT THESE IMAGES AND FIND THEM OFFENSIVE, THEN WHY ON EARTH WOULD 'PRO-CHOICE' MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC REACT OTHERWISE?



Happy Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Thursday, 11 December 2014

The Imagery of Abortion

The beauty of human life in the womb
A few years ago, I stood outside an abortion clinic with Abort 67, the group featured in this video on Channel 4 News. I couldn't help but think, at the time, that the group were 'brave'. I admired their ability to stand up and  be counted for the truth.

The longer time goes on, I cannot help but think they are brave, but stupid. Their idea was clear - if only ordinary members of the public could see what abortion is, then abortion would be ended.

Oh, how naive we can be. In a sane world, this would be true. In a sane world, just one picture of an abortion should convince the whole world that it is wrong and evil, but it hasn't worked yet because people are blind to the truth and hardened against God and against the love and protection of human life. Yet at the same time, there is no reason why graphic pictures of abortion need be used to get your point across. I know a couple who live on a street near an abortion clinic in Brighton who are vigorously pro-life but who simply can't stand walking past this group on the way to work when they are present there. They have a child and walked him to school when Abort 67 were outside the clinic. Is it fair on this couple to have to shield their child's eyes from a dismembered aborted baby on the way to school?

Original material

The imagery Abort 67 use is original material. Of course, it is faithful to what abortion is, but it is also both shocking and disgusting imagery of life needlessly and callously destroyed. And, of course, the great sin lies with those who commit this crime - for a crime it is, in the sight of God - the imagery is faithful to the truth, but is the imagery of murder of the unborn in broad daylight necessary to get your point across? Definitely not. You can hardly blame 'local residents' from hardening their opposition to the group when Abort 67 stand there with a huge photograph of a dismembered corpse all day long. I am certain that for passers-by, while some will express positive views that the campaign has 'educated them' on what an abortion is, the psychological tactics can easily backfire because those who pass by might not immediately associate the clinic itself with the imagery of brutal murder, but instead associate the campaigners standing in front of the images with palpable horror.

The beauty of human life outside of the womb
I must say I am no expert on pro-life vigils, but I cannot help but think that there is a reason why Good Counsel Network and other pro-life movements involved in, for example, 40 Days for Life, do not go in for this 'shock' tactic. It seems to be a strategy so ill-thought out, so lending itself to an angered response, that it is almost inviting Governmental repression of the pro-life movement and peaceful vigils for an end to abortion.

Our Lady of Guadalupe: Patroness of the Unborn

After all, the strategy of one group - and it appears that it is this group in particular who provoke reaction, could bring down upon the whole pro-life movement greater repression so that not just Abort 67, but all pro-life groups suffer. I cannot help but feel that the beauty of life in the womb - because we have so many beautiful images of life in the womb now - and the beauty of new life - babies - is more apt to broad day light vigils. At least, then, you do not give Government and those who think child sacrifice should be kept 'legal' a giant stick with which to beat you.



Tomorrow is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and imagery is an important feature of this Feast. For it was with an image that Mexico and other parts of Latin America were converted to faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ. Mexico was converted from a form of paganism that most likely involved some kind of child sacrifice, some kind of human sacrifice to the Catholic Faith through a miraculous image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, an image painted by God Himself. The image is completely beyond scientific explanation. Even NASA have admitted that...

'...the image’s colors are not made from any material found on Earth. A laser that scanned the image even found that the colors float three tenths of a millimeter in front of the Tilma surface, without touching it.'

The sheer breadth and depth of the details in this miraculous image is stunning. By all rights, the image should convert the whole world to the Catholic Faith and to love and respect for God and the unborn. 'Original material' it certainly is, crafted by the Almighty.

Would huge replicas of this image, outside of abortion clinics, convince more people that abortion is wrong? Would it win souls to the Lord Jesus Christ and to Our Lady? Would it bring down abortion clinics? Perhaps no more or less than the imagery of Abort 67. Abortion is endemic in this country, a huge aspect of a spiritual war in which all of humankind is involved.

I cannot help but think that there is a vast array of inspiring imagery available to the pro-life movement to 'get the message across' without giving the enemies of that movement great excuses to put an end to the whole thing. The unborn are babies, beautiful babies crafted by God, each one precious in His sight. We can show people the beauty of human life. We can show people the beauty of the Woman clothed with the sun who crushes the head of the Devil.

The Abort 67 strategy, while successful in some ways, in educating people about what an abortion is, has not and will not turn popular opinion against abortion but will likely lend itself to turning popular opinion harder against the campaigners. From the beginning, Abort 67 deliberately wanted 'maximum publicity' - hence the images. The Good Counsel Network do incredible work providing help and assistance to those who need help, providing spiritual support and practical assistance to mothers presented with the choice presented to them by the United Kingdom Government.

In a sane world, the Good Counsel Network would be provided funding by the Government to support the poor who need help in times of crisis. The UK Government might always urge women to choose death. It's what Governments are good at after all. It would be a great shame - a terrible and awful tragedy - if those pro-life groups who offer real help, real compassion to those considering abortion, were banned from holding a presence near abortion clinics just because Abort 67 couldn't give up their logic that murderers will stop murdering when everyone has seen a snuff movie.

The Good Counsel Network always need more donations and prayers. Everything they do they do on a shoe-string, with very limited resources. Why not pray for them, pray for an end to the horror of abortion and donate to them today?

Gosh! 
It feels so good not to write a blog post about Pope Francis!
With God's help, anything is possible!



Update: I'm getting a couple of comments from people saying I am wrong, so wrong. Well, I don't mind being wrong. What I mind is that the deliberately provocative actions of one group gives the Government a perfect excuse to clamp down on all, even those who do not use these tactics.

Just to illustrate my point...


SPUC Displays

Monday, 8 December 2014

Ecumenical Feast Poster



Print it out and give it to all your Protestant, Orthodox and Quaker friends, why not?

Pray for a Friend


Please keep in your prayers a friend of mine who has been told by 
he 'may' have a secondary form of cancer.

Thank God for Clarity

Our Blessed Lady didn't give interviews but if she did her message would be crystal clear. At a time when we are bombarded with so many words from Pope Francis, words that still leave me in confusion, it is reassuring to go back to the New Eve, Mary Immaculate, to hear once more the answer to the initiative of Almighty God in His plan for our Salvation...

'I am the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done to me, according to thy word.'
Or later...

'Do whatever He tells you.'

What is truly remarkable about Pope Francis is the sheer wealth of opportunities that are presented to him to teach the Catholic Faith in his interviews. The last week alone has produced reams and reams of the thought of Jorge Bergoglio but next to nothing of the Catholic Faith. When Francis was elected, I was hopeful that what the Church would have would be a clear-speaking evangelist, someone who could explain the Catholic Faith to 'the man on the street'. What we received instead was a Pope who speaks so much, who talks so frequently and yet at the end of the day says next to nothing that teaches the Faith.

The continuity I expected to see between Francis and Benedict was perhaps not one evidenced by liturgical style, but Catholicity, sound and orthodox teaching and it really hasn't happened. I expected, and I think others hoped, that Francis would be the great evangelist who having promised to take the Church 'out of herself' and shine the light of Christ onto the World would do just that. Yet the very opposite seems to have taken place. Doubt is the new faith. The strange new agenda has made the Church more introverted and self-absorbed than I could have imagined, something exemplified at the Synod.

Instead of sowing the Faith, the Francis pontificate seems to be more marked by doubt and uncertainty than by anything else, that nothing we have received is trustworthy or solid. Petrine Authority? His Holiness seems to doubt it. Infallible doctrine? His Holiness seems to doubt it or seems to place the Church on the brink of promoting the idea that belief and 'real life' should be separated. I feel like we are being prepared for a 'great leap forward' - a project of some kind - but to where? It remains unclear.

The only 'great leap forward' the Church has to offer us is holiness and the promise of the Beatific Vision offered to all of mankind, if we will accept, not resist, the grace poured out upon us. Today the Church puts before us the Immaculate Woman who crushes the head of the serpent, whose light is the Light, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Blessed Virgin Mary radiates with purity, courage, fortitude, fidelity, faith, hope and love, with every possible virtue.

She is not the woman of doubt, she is not the daughter of uncertainty, doubt and confusion. Neither is her Divine Son the Author of such things. Everything about Mary is pure and clear. She is the spotless maid. She is the handmaid of the Lord. Even in the midst of the storm, should even the light of Faith grow darkened across the whole world, if we ask her for her maternal intercession, she will be there to guide us towards the Sun of Justice, Jesus Christ. She will never lead us astray.

The Blessed Virgin Mary, while she was on earth, believed everything that her Son taught and everything that His Apostles taught. So, if any man thinks he or any Church minister can be more humble, compassionate, kind, merciful and loving than Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary, then, indeed, that man is in for a big surprise. We may never be able to believe with the perfect faith of the Blessed Virgin Mary but if we don't believe what Mary believed, then we do not believe.

A happy Feast to everyone.

Friday, 5 December 2014

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