Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Marginalizing the Church-The Slap Heard Round the World

The Obama Administration has just announced the future closing of the American Vatican Embassy.

This is a shock to many, including me, although the scorning of the Church from this government has been obvious. That intimate communications between perhaps the nation which is the world's leader and the hub, the center of the largest religion in the world, will be compromised.

But, this administration does not care about dialogue with Faith. This move is not for the silly reason given-security. The reason is the marginalizing of the one, true, holy and apostolic Church.

Marginalization is a step on the way towards out and out persecution. This were outlined a few years ago by Father Joseph M. Esper over a few days on EWTN in 2012.  Father was reiterating findings from social psychologists who studied the movement of persecution in Germany which led to the killing of over six million Jews in a systematized manner, all legal, all supported by millions of people.

Marginalization is the next to the last step before laws are passed to outlaw the target group and begin fines, imprisonment and finally, death.

I am grateful for one thing. This administration is showing its true colors of its hatred of the Catholic Church in America. The Church is the one institution standing up to the abortion mandate, same-sex-marriage and other moral issues which in the past would have been shared with good Christian leaders.

We have moved far beyond those days. In this post-Christian era, the Church will increasingly be targeted as anti-American.

Antonio Gramsci, who I have studied in great detail, wrote clearly in one of his letters from prison, that the only group of people who understood what the atheist communists were actually doing in the kulturkampf was the Catholic Church. He cited several popes including Leo XIII, as understanding the great enemy of Christian, Western culture and civilization.

The removing of the embassy will be a rude rebuke, a slap-in-the-face to the Vatican, to the Church.

As an American, I am ashamed and horrified. But, this is merely one sign of the times....


Monday, 25 November 2013

Anticipation and Advent, A Meditation

One of the happiest times of my life was when I was pregnant with my son, James.  I remember enjoying the growth, the movement, and an overwhelming peaceful anticipation.  I know there were inconveniences, pain, fears.  Injecting blood thinners twice a day until I was bruised beyond any other experience, constant false labor, worries that his little heart wasn't beating properly.

In my parish now there are so many women who are anticipating the birth of another child.  I look at each of them with a quiet prayer.  I pray for their health, their gentle submission to the fullness of time, and their joy as they welcome a new child.  I long to touch them and bless the life within them.

As Advent begins these are the things I contemplate.

Did Mary talk to Jesus in her womb, sing to him, lay her hands on him through her belly as he moved?

Did Mary shine with hope as she moved through her day as so many women I see now do?

Did Mary's heart leap daily with joy as the new life of our Lord grew withing her?

Did Mary acknowledge the daily pains and discomforts of pregnancy in that last month, and yet acknowledge the hopeful suffering those pains reflected?

I so in Advent I strive to recall the last month of pregnancy and share in that anticipation of the women I see at Mass.  I find myself hugging my belly as I pray and recall the beauty of every moment of that last month.

I think of all of the times I pray to be able to walk with Jesus and do his will.  But Advent is marked for me with a different prayer.  At this time I pray to be united with Mary in her anticipation.  I pray to forget my barren womb and to join in the joy of creation.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

From Padre Pio

"This present life is given to us to acquire the eternal, and due to the lack of reflection, we base our affections on what pertains to this world through which we are passing, so that when we have to leave it, we are frightened and agitated. In order to live happily on this pilgrimage, we must keep before our eyes the hope of arriving at our homeland where we shall stay for eternity, and in the meantime, we should believe this firmly."

One's affections can easily be focused on trivia, on hurts, on ourselves, instead of on serving others and waiting on God.

The problems and anxieties most of us experience fade away, really, truly, when we focus on God and heaven.

In these days, turn to God and trust. Such burdens as we face melt away in the face of the love of Divine Providence.

I can write this from exile, as God is with me in this darkness. If we accept suffering, we shall triumph. Life is all about priorities and the seeking of the Kingdom within.

On this Feast of Christ the King, focus on the King. Remember the words of Blessed John Paul II, "Do not be afraid."

Friday, 22 November 2013

Guild Meeting: Calling Catholic Bloggers

Preparations are under way for a meeting of The Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma (TGOBTB), the coalition of Catholic bloggers using the new media to spread the Catholic Faith. This group is not to be confused with A Call to Action That Leads to Schism (ACTATLTS) and it is impossible to be a member of both. You cannot serve God's Church and schism. You'll love one and hate the other. Got it?

Our Lady of the Rosary Church, Blackfen
So, this is a call to those Catholic bloggers out there within the Guild, as well as those bloggers not in the bosom of the Guild, as well as those who comment on blogs or use Twitter (etc) who uphold and defend the Magisterium of Holy Mother Church.

I can now confirm that the Guild will be given a talk entitled, 'Medical Aspects of Miracles: Drawing us Towards Faith' by Dr Adrian Treloar FRCP, MRCPsych, MRCGP. Dr Adrian will discuss some miracles that have happened in Lourdes an explore what we can learn from them. Dr Treloar is a Consultant Senior Lecturer in Old Age Psychiatry

Come to the Guild's meeting at Our Lady of the Rosary Church, Blackfen, next Saturday (30th November 2013) to meet, listen and discuss with fellow bloggers as we fight and write together under the banner of the Cross, in defence of Our Lord Christ and His Church and for the Salvation of souls.

It is also only fair that if you wish to come to the Guild's meeting that you inform me, the Chairman, but also Fr Tim Finigan, whose parish will be graciously hosting the meeting, so that he and those who will be kindly hosting us may know how many shall be in attendance.

Email the Chairman at englandsgardens@googlemail.com

Email Fr Tim Finigan at blackfencatholic@gmail.com

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Guild meeting - numbers needed

Just a reminder of the meeting of the Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma on Saturday 30 November at Blackfen (here are directions.) Do come along if you can - it is great to meet fellow bloggers (and tweeters) face-to-face.

There is plenty of time to chat over lunch. The speaker has now been confirmed as Dr Adrian Treloar who will give an illustrated talk on the miracles of Lourdes from both a medical and spiritual perspective. I have heard the talk myself before and it is quite fascinating.

As we are providing the food, it would be helpful to have an idea of numbers. Please could you email me at info@blackfencatholic.org to let me know if you are coming. (If you forget to do this or find at the last minute that you are free, do still come.)

Sunday, 17 November 2013

60th Anniversary commemorative talk on Belloc...

Blaise Compton making an address at the parish church of Our Lady of Consolation (West Grinstead). 

This year is the 60th anniversary of Hilaire Belloc's death. The great Bellocian Blaise Compton has kindly agreed to give a talk on Belloc's poetry, in order to honour the memory of a man who made an enormous contribution to the cultural life of this Nation. If you wish, you can learn more about Belloc at this site: www.thehilairebellocblog.blogspot.co.uk

Venue: The Greencoat Boy Pub, Greencoat Place, London SW1P 1PJ. 020 7834 7894

Date and time: Tuesday the 26th of November at 7.30 PM.


The woman in the Stations of the Cross named Veronica has entered into the imaginations of many Catholics. She is honored as a saint, but there is little historical evidence for her life outside of tradition. But, as she is an important personage on the Way of the Cross, her moment of charity deserves some attention.

Her name merely means vera icon (true image), which was the title given to the famous Image of Edessa, which some thought was her veil with the image of Christ, miraculously given when Veronica wiped His Face on the Via Dolorosa.  I am not so concerned about the historical basis or the myths, but with the name Veronica.

It strikes me today that we are all called to be true icons of Christ. An icon is, as we know, a window into heaven, painstakingly "written" after prayer and inspiration by the maker. The true icon is not a personal artistic statement of the painter, but a clear view into a spiritual reality. So, too, each Christian is called to become a clear, clean window into the Indwelling of the Trinity in the world.

That each one of us is called to be Christ in the world indicates that Veronica is not only a good name on which to meditate, but her action merits attention.

A lone woman, perhaps young, perhaps not, broke through the hostile crowd and the Roman guard to wipe the bloody, sweaty Face of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Veronica exhibited not only bravery, but compassion.

Her action took courage, as she could have been attacked by the crowd and even arrested. That she only saw a Man of Sorrow tells us that she had discernment to see beyond the desecrated visage, to the God.

Or did she? Is it not possible that Veronica merely responded as any truly holy person would do to come to the aid of another human who was suffering?

Did she know Christ was God, or did she see a man in pain, and respond accordingly?


The irony of life is that God is hidden in those who suffer. I know two people who have reached out to suffering persons and have experienced God in those encounters.

The Hidden God is our God. That Veronica responded to suffering demanded a response from God Himself-He gave her His Image.All of us who respond to grace have the imprint of God on our souls. We are given this as creations of God, born in His Image, but lacking the Likeness, as St. Bernard of Clairvaux reminds us, until baptism, as the likeness is grace.

We allow the Image of Christ, the Face of Christ to be seen in the world through our compassion and our acceptance of the suffering of others.

Veronica shared in the Passion of Christ. Her brief moment of love gave the world an icon,  a remembrance of the day we all were redeemed and adopted as sons and daughters of God-the day of the Passion.

Veronica may or may not have traveled as a missionary to France. Her image may or may not have gone to the Near East, and then to Europe, disappearing in the French Revolution. But, her story is our story.

Can one be a true image of Christ in the world?  Can one respond in courage and generosity as did Veronica?

There are legends that the great King Agbar of Edessa was converted by the Image on the veil of Veronica.

So, too, if one becomes a true icon of Christ in the world, one can bring others to Him through love.

Veronica is, therefore, the patron saint of every Christian.

UPDATE: I wrote this early this morning and then later, went to Mass at St. Mary's of the Lake at Mundelein. Father Barron chose in his sermon to speak of the Apocalypse as the "unveiling" of Christ in the glory of the Resurrection. Immediately, I thought back to this morning's meditation of mine on the veil of Veronica. Indeed, Christ revealed His Face to her and, in the end times, we shall see the coming of Christ in the fullness of His Kingship. But, of course, all kingdoms will be at an end.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Getting the Disasters We Have Earned

About 29% of the U.S. population not in the work force (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Another 7.3% unemployed (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Which takes that number over 1/3 of the country. Add another 16.6 % of underemployed workers (Gallup)and we have a grand total of 52.9% of the American population without full-time work.

Idle hands are the Devil's playground.  That was  a phrase I frequently heard while growing up.  As a side note, for centuries young ladies were taught to keep their hand folded together whenever sitting in conversation or otherwise not engaged in work, in order to discourage the appearance of  sinful use of the hands.

Today, it is a safe assumptions that those idle hands are more likely plunged into a bag of Cheetos purchased with an EBT card while the eyes of the owner of those hands views porn or posts on Facebook, rather than hands folded in prayer.  In our post-Christian world, the notion that prayer would make a difference in our individual circumstances, or in our global ones, is almost non-existent.

I offer a series of events in the Philippines as an example of how turning away from God and prayer has impacted a country in short order.  Understand that there could be other explanations for what is happening in those islands.  Of course, the same could be said for any situation on the entire planet.

In December of 2012,   the Filipino Congress approved a controversial Reproductive Health Bill that, "Among other objectionable provisions, the RH Bill would force medical professionals and businesses to promote and perform a full range of “reproductive health services,” regardless of conscientious objection. The bill promises to fine and jail opponents who spread as-yet-undefined “malicious” falsehoods about the bill, and would pay for contraceptive services with taxpayer funds." (Lifenews.com)  This comes from a country that has a Catholic Population of about 80%. (Wikipedia)

In the 1990's and again in 2006,  some cities in the Philippines tried to reinstate the practice of pausing throughout the day for the Angelus.  Philippine churches used to ring the Angelus bell three times: at 6 a.m., at noon and at 6 p.m., although contemporary generations only remember the evening Angelus bell.  The reinstatement of the practice was voted against primarily because it was thought that it would interfere with traffic.

 As the government of the Philippines has taken strides to secularize the country and take a utilitarian view of human existence that replaces the primacy of prayer with the speed of traffic, and the sacredness of life with utilitarian contraception and abortion services,  prayer has been taken out of the public square. In the past year the country has been hit by 6 typhoons, the latest of which is being described as the strongest in recorded history.  There have been earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and floods.  It is easy to note scientific reasons, but Catholics are called to see the signs of the times.

In the Philippines, the change from a Catholic country to a secular one has been shockingly rapid.  The pain the country's people is experiencing as a result of the disasters this year in also shocking in the force and rapid succession of each event.

In the United States, our decent into pain has been different.  We've had moments of extreme pain from disasters, but those moments have been followed by a numbing malaise, like taking a prescription to mask the pain.  Our idleness is not  marked by famine.  It is lulled into a pensive comfort where even the poor can drive cars, watch cable, and eat to excess.  It is a poverty of soul, full of resentment and envy of those who continue to work to support those who no longer do.  Workers see the unemployed as lazy, and the unemployed see the workers as greedy.

And neither workers nor the unemployed stop to pray.

The Divisiveness of Unforgiveness

Jesus Christ, Our Lord, spoke of forgiveness many times. He told parables on forgiveness, the most loved is The Prodigal Son. But, the Prodigal had some repentance, although imperfect.

What of those who hate us and are not repentant? Can we forgive them?

The world, even the Catholic world, is becoming divided between those who forgive and those who do not forgive.

Christ is unequivocal on forgiveness. We have been forgiven, therefore, we must forgive.

But, sadly, too many Catholics want to see justice done, rather than wanting to dispense mercy.

Mercy and justice go together. In justice, one can judge the actions of another person or people. In mercy, one cannot judge the person.

What happens is that too many Catholics project their own hurts and defenses onto those they refuse to forgive. Projection stops a person from seeing reality, and the reality of forgiveness is that each one of us is capable of any sin, any.

As much as I do not like the old television series Jesus of Nazareth, I do like the one scene when Peter refused to go into the house of Matthew. Peter was being totally self-righteous and relying on the Law rather than on Christ's Love.

In reality, Peter was no better than Matthew and, in fact, worse. He denied Christ publicly. In the scene, Peter becomes reconciled to Matthew by admitting he was a stupid man.

In reality, Peter wanted to stay away from Matthew because Peter did not understand love. He only understood justice and not mercy. He thought he was a better person than Matthew.

The Catholic world is being destroyed from within by a lack of forgiveness. Too many people want justice. Catholics have become a litigious lot.  Instead of looking at the person who has hurt them and responding in compassion, these Catholics respond in hatred.

Hatred is a serious sin. One will not enter heaven with hatred of any sort in one's heart or on one's mind.

Consequences of hatred is the continuation of sects, sides, factions, and parties.  The Church cannot afford such.

St. Paul warned us against the party spirit. This creeps into the Church in Great Britain so easily, as people are extremely judgmental. I know. I have been at the center of judgement, unjustly so.

But, unlike some who find themselves judged, I have forgiven those who have been more than unfair to me.

I do not know the souls and sorrows, or the confusion and doubts of those who judge. Compassion is feeling with someone. Compassion for one's "enemies" is feeling with their loss, for judgement indicates a loss of love. Perhaps if the person who judges really knew how much Christ loved him, that person would not judge.

Perhaps those who judge have never experienced love, either human or Godly. Perhaps those who do not forgive have not asked to see their own sins. 

Perhaps those who judge have never seen the corruption of their own souls.

When a person reacts in anger or hatred, that Catholic has lost sight of his own wretchedness before God.

Those who are humble do not have time or energy to judge, because they are busy thanking God for their own salvation and forgiveness.

The Catholic community in Great Britain is too small for hatred. So is the Catholic community in Ireland, and Malta and your parish and mine.

There is nothing too heinous which cannot be forgiven. I ask my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to stop playing God.

Forgive, knowing that the person may hurt you again and again.

We have the greatest example-a Perfect Man, a God, Who forgave those who unfairly judged, tortured and killed Him. People are still hating God. But, Christ's Death brought about New Life.

The sign of our forgiveness is not only the Cross, but the Resurrection.

In God, all things, even our enemies, can be made new.

This is our faith, our hope, our love.

Pray for your enemies and love those who hurt you and others. Love and do not count the cost.

Matthew 18:21-35

21 Then came Peter unto him and said: Lord, how often shall my brother offend against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
22 Jesus saith to him: I say not to thee, till seven times; but till seventy times seven times.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Message in a bottle

I usually do not post the same ideas on this blog as I do on my own, but today is special.

I want to give a summary of what I believe Catholics should be doing at this time in the demise of Western Civilization, which was based on Christianity and the Judeo-Roman ideals of natural law and civil law.

Gone are the days when we can trust those who now, consistently, merely make laws according to relativistic trends.

Please consider these priorities in your lives at this time. Things are going to get really tough for real Catholics.

One, replace hatred, anger, sloth, and all the deadly sins with love and the other virtues. Without living a life of virtue, you and I shall not remain faithful to the end. Move away from even venial sins.

Second, teach your children and help older family members see the need for true holiness now, and not wait. Help others prioritize their faith through prayers, adoration, Mass, frequent confession. Time is short for having the capacity to find and enjoy the sacraments locally.

Three, learn to hear the Voice of God and not other voices. God speaks through the truths of the Catholic Church, but you can also learn to hear His Still Small Voice and respond quickly.

If you knew there was going to be a hurricane, like Katrina in the States, in your area, you would prepare.

So, why are you not preparing now?

Parents, why are you acting as though the future of your children will be the same as your lives have been. Why are you pretending that they can be raised like you were raised? Why are you not forming saints now? You are responsible for the souls of your children.

I can only send this message in a bottle from the sea of the growing strictures and yet, chaos. of the EU.

This message in a bottle is the last one I am sending from Europe to Europe for awhile.

I shall end by quoting Gandalf, which is really quoting J.R. R. Tolkien, a real prophet:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.

"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

Monday, 4 November 2013

Who am I to fudge?

I was once with a non-Catholic,Christian friend who was expressing his admiration for Pope Francis because of how wonderful and humble he is. I was delighted that he had such positive views. 

A few moments later my friend said that he and his wife would consider becoming Catholic too and asked if "outmoded beliefs" were still adhered to. I asked what he meant and surprise, surprise, contraception came up as a one of these "outmoded beliefs."

In a sense, it would have been easier to have avoided the subject, obscured or watered the teaching down, especially as I was feeling tired at that time. A fleeting moment of weakness flashed through my mind, before I challenged myself:

"Who am I to fudge?"

As a Catholic, it is my mission to bring people to Jesus Christ and His Church. This means the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth. Some teachings may be less palatable for some but the Truth nonetheless. I capitalise "Truth" as Christ is Truth and when we deny a part of our faith - by our words or in our behaviour - we deny Christ. 

Thankfully I explained as best I could the Church's teaching on love, on welcoming life, on marriage and yes, contraception too. I explained that despite what he might have heard in the press or from dissenters that thousands upon thousands of people follow this teaching and that it isn't so much about a "no" but a "yes" to love, to life and to Christ Himself. My friend had never heard anyone defend this teaching positively and with passion and saw that it made sense. 

My friend didn't immediately ask how he could sign up and become Catholic but I realised that he is genuinely seeking Truth and authentic witness had an impact.  If I had fudged the issue or changed the subject he would have had less respect for me and the Church.  Please spare a prayer for a married couple who are discerning whether they are called to join the Church that Christ founded. 

My suggestion to you is that when you are next asked about your faith and are tempted to avoid the question or compromise you might ask yourself one thing:

"Who am I to fudge?"

A Model Blessed for Our Time

The Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma would be pleased to know that in addition to the shrine of his in Whitefriars Church in Dublin, there is also a window honoring him in Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Sliema, Malta, on Balluta Bay. This Church is called the Balluta Church.

As a Carmelite Church, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel also holds a gorgeous statue of Mother Mary under that name.

The new paintings do not match up to the quality of older ones, such as those in Stella Maris, but Balluta Church is peaceful. More on the history may be found here. 

That Blessed Titus Brandsma is so loved across the world provides us in the Guild with a reminder of the universality of holiness. As we blog and send out invitations to truth and freedom through the teachings of the Catholic Church to the world, it is good to reflect on our patron, who paid a great price for our freedom of religion. We cannot and must not take this freedom for granted and write while we can.

As I have traveled in Europe, I have met dedicated Catholics who know the signs of the times.

At the end of the week, I shall become the Guild's foreign correspondent, as I spend some time in America again. Pray for all those who blog and all those who travel.

I shall miss terribly my friends in England, Ireland and Malta. I have met many saints.
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