Tuesday 31 May 2011

Who am I that the Mother of my Lord should visit me?

We can all echo the words of St Elizabeth, for surely we who have recourse to Mary have felt the embrace of Our Heavenly Mother at times of trouble and grief?
 I have turned to Mary, Our Lady of sorrows and she has comforted me because Her Son died too.
In times of joy she shares our happiness because she rejoiced at the goodness of God and the wonder of His Blessings.
When I am troubled by worries I look to the image of the  Icon of Vladimir on my wall..Our Lady Mother of Tenderness, embracing Her Beloved Holy Son and her eyes of love and tenderness calm my soul and point me to Jesus.I thank God for Mary.
Theotokos of Vladimir

The Imitation of Christ - the perfect book for the soul!

‘The Imitation of Christ’ by Thomas a Kempis may be the best selling book in the world next to the Bible but it’s surprising how many Catholics either have not read it or, even, heard of it.

This is a shame as, in my view, it is quite one of the most inspirational books you will ever find. Open it at any page and you will find a passage that is appropriate to your circumstances.
It is simple to absorb and fascinating to follow as it maps out the path of a follower of Christ with all its turns and dead ends, its peaks and its troughs, triumphant always, in humility, love and faith.

Thomas a Kempis was born in 1379 to John and Gertrude Haemerken of Kempen, a small town close to Cologne. Leaving home he went to join his brother, Jan at a school in Deventer but, upon arrival, he found that Jan had left to found a congregation of Canons Regular at Windesheim. Thomas immediately travelled to Windesheim to see his brother and, upon his recommendation, returned to Deventer to enter the community of Brothers of the Common Life. This order required no vows of its followers, merely an adherence to an inner life, a disregard for income and a desire to work within the community, either physically, or more often, teaching and carrying out pastoral duties.

His early priestly life is described in this extract from New Advent

At Deventer Thomas proved an apt pupil, already noted for his neatness and skill in transcribing manuscripts. This was a life-long labour of love with him; in addition to his own compositions he copied numerous treatises from the Fathers, especially St. Bernard, a Missal for the use of his community, and the whole Bible in four large volumes still extant. After completing his humanities at Deventer, in the autumn of 1399, with the commendation of his superior, Florentius Radewyn, Thomas sought admission among the Canons Regular of Windesheim at Mount St. Agnes, near Zwolle, of which monastery his brother John was then prior. The house had been established only the previous year, and as yet there was no claustral buildings, no garden, no benefactors, no funds. During his term of office, which lasted nine years, John à Kempis built the priory and commenced the church. In these circumstances we find the explanation of the fact that Thomas was not clothed as a novice until 1406, at which date the cloister was just completed, nor ordained priest until 1413, the year after the church was consecrated. The point is worth noting, as some writers in their eagerness to discredit the claims of à Kempis to the authorship of the "Imitation" have actually fastened upon the length of this period of probation to insinuate that he was a dullard or worse. Thomas was himself, to within a few months of his death, the chronicler of Agnetenberg. The story which he tells of the earthly struggles of the priory on the mount, its steady progress, and eventual prosperity is full of charm and edification ("The Chronicle of the Canons Regular of Mount St. Agnes", London, 1906). These records reveal to us the simplicity and holiness of his religious brethren. He was twice elected subprior, and once he was made procurator. The reason assigned by an ancient biographer for the latter appointment is one that does honour both to Thomas and his brethren, his love for the poor. However, we can scarcely imagine the author of the "Imitation" a good business manager, and after a time his preference for retirement, literary work, and contemplation prevailed with the Canons to relieve him of the burden. The experience thus gained he made use of in a spiritual treatise, "De fideli dispensatore".

Thomas a Kempis - yet to be made a saint

The Imitation of Christ is really a dialogue between Christ and us. We are told not to take the good things in our life for granted; our health, our family and friends, our careers and temporal luxuries. All belong to Christ, we have no rights over any of them, therefore, it is not our due to mourn their loss. We are  rather like a thief who, having robbed a rich haul of goods, then has them whipped away from him by another hand. He has no right to feel a sense of loss.

But then, swiftly we are told that we only have to call on the name of the Lord to have restitution, albeit a spiritual restitution.
Trying to pick on a particular chapter as an example is a fruitless task; all are so apt, all are so profound. If you have a bereavement, lost a friend, contracted an illness, been thrown on life’s scrapheap…look in this book and you will be revived and refreshed. Rejuvenated, even.

Here are one or two passages that reflect the spirit of this most precious book:-


The Voice of the Beloved: I freely surrender myself to God the Father for your sins, with my hands spread out on the cross and my body stripped. I kept nothing back, but let all be transformed into a sacrifice to appease the divine anger. And every day in the Mass, you too of your own free will should offer yourself to Me as a pure and holy offering with all your powers and affections, from the very depths of your heart.
I ask nothing more of you except that you should want to surrender yourself entirely to Me. I do not care what you give Me besides yourself, because I do not want your gifts, but you.
If you possessed everything except Me, you would not find satisfaction. In the same way, nothing you can give Me can please Me if you do not give yourself.
Give yourself to Me. Offer yourself wholly for God’s sake, and your offerings will be accepted. Think of this – I offered Myself wholly to the Father for your sake. I even gave My whole Body and My Blood to feed you, so that I should be entirely yours, and you should be kept Mine…..



….I am still living, says the Lord, and I am ready to help you and comfort you more than you have ever known, if you trust Me and call on Me devoutly.
Take things more calmly, and brace yourself to endure things better. Everything is not ruined if you often find yourself in difficulty and facing strong temptation.
You are man not God. You are a mortal creature, not an angel. How could you possibly maintain an unchanging state of virtue when it proved impossible for the Angels in Heaven and for Adam in Paradise? It is mine to comfort the mourner with new hope, and it is those that know their own weakness that I raise to my divinity……

If you do not posses a copy of the ‘Imitation of Christ’ I recommend that you buy a copy…not one from pre 1960 or post 1980 as the language used in both is less easy on the eye and less beautiful even.
It will be the best purchase you will have made in a long time.

Posted by Richard Collins – Linen on the Hedgerow

Happy Feast of the Visitation to all members of the Guild and its friends and followers

Fra Angelico

The Visitation and the Iris:
The ancient Egyptians considered the Iris as a symbol of eloquence, and placed the flower on the brow of the Sphinx and on their kings' sceptres, the three leaves  representing faith, wisdom and courage. In the Mystries of the Annunciation and the Visitation, Mary demonstrates all four attributes: wisdom in her reaction to Gabriel, faith and courage in her acceptance of his message, and eloquence in her 'Magnificat'. In Christian Art, the flower came to represent the Queen of Heaven and her Immaculate Conception, calling to mind that Mary could not have been Queen of Heaven unless she had been immaculately conceived, nor could she have become Christ's mother without that conception.

Purple Iris Reticulata:
In the work of the early Flemish  artists there is rivalry between the iris and the lilly for the name 'flower of the holy Virgin'.But perhaps the iris has the edge because its sword-shaped leaves gave it the added symbolisam of the sword that was to pierce Mary's heart. There is a medieval monastic legend that echoes this: at the death of Jesus, all nature grieved and a dead silence fell upon the earth. Only the plants still whispered and the iris said, 'Dark violet will forever be the mourning colour of my flowers.'

Iris 'Rosario: The Visitation is a joyful Mystery of the Rosary, and indeed in parts of Italy the roots of the bearded iris were used to make rosary beads. I do not know whether this is still the case, or whether this cultivar is named for the Rosary, or because of the slight pink tinge of its petals in some lights.

The iris is named after one of the Greek messengers of the gods who travelled along the rainbow between heaven and earth in order to deliver the commands of the gods to the people. Her veil contained the colours of the rainbow, and she came to be thought of as the personification of the rainbow itself.  And in spite of the later Christian legend, the iris indeed blooms in almost all the colours of the spectrum. Later Iris was believed to bring the souls of women and children to the land of everlasting peace, taking the latter group into her lap. In this personification and action she was regarded as the connection between heaven and earth. This mythology is clearly the reason why the iris has come to signify a message, and usually a good one, in the Language of Flowers. And it is easy to see how these attributes of  Iris were Christianised, as they applied so clearly to Mary in her role as messenger to Elizabeth at the Visitation, and to her role as mother of us all. We continually ask her to pray for us 'now and at the hour of our death'.

(Note: The difference between the Blessed Virgin Mary and Iris is obvious.Our Lady is real. She has a human history and a heavenly reality and throughout the centuries has never ceased to be our Mother, never ceased to bring us the messages we ignore at our peril; Iris is a myth, dreamed up by the human spirit longing for certainty in the Divine. And yet the same human spirit is programmed to search for that certainty. It was opened up to us at the Incarnation when God sent his Son into the world through the fourfold virtue of the Immaculately conceived Virgin Mary whom He had created.)

Above all I think of the Visitation as full of joy, the joy of Mary, the joy of Elizabeth and of the unborn John within her womb. But it is an occasion of our joy too, because Mary is bringing Christ to us. The mystery of the Visitation foreshadows the coming of Jesus into our lives and the union of our souls with Him. So that we can all ask with Elizabeth, 'Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?' As Maisie Ward put it: " Our Lord in this mystery has not only taken a human nature from Mary but has left Himself helpless, powerless in the darkness of her womb to be taken where she wills. Even so , it is the beginning of the divine economy of grace whereby God saves mankind by giving HIMSELF into the power of mankind. The Cure d'Ars, marvelling over the Blessed Sacrament, said, 'I bear Him to the right and He stays to the right; I bear Him to the left and He stays to the left. ' " ('The Splendour of the Rosary' Sheed and Ward 1948)

Meditation on the Magnificat is an appropriate way to end Mary's month, but at any time it proves an inexhaustible well for such reflection. For instance, to magnify and to rejoice in God is the beginning of realisation of our own nothingness: Mary would be called blessed by all generations because of her humility, and only to the humble can God entrust His gifts; and later Our Lord blesses those who hunger and thirst after justice. Here, Mary's Magnificat points the way to a solution for our social problems and to true Christian living.

Our Lady in the Magnificat Garden


Breath of Heaven,
Carry us on the impulse
Of Christ's love,
as easily as thistledown
is carried on the wind;
that in the Advent season of our souls,
while He is formed in us,
in secret and in silence
the Creator in the hands of his creatures
as the Host
in the hands of the priest -
we may carry Him forth
to wherever He wishes to be,
as Mary carried Him over the hills
on His errand of love,
to the house of Elizabeth.

(Caryl Houselander 1901- 1954)

(copyright Jane Mossendew 'The Crown of the Yeaar' 2005 The Houselander poem is quoted with permission therein.) 

This is my last post for a while. Aside from everything else, still haven't really recovered from the trip to Rome for the Blogmeet. Need to recharge spiritual batteries. Hope to be back in about a week. 

Monday 30 May 2011

The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Eve of the Feast

Although it celebrates a gospel account, the feast did not become universal  until the fourteenth century, when Pope Urban VI established it on July 2 as a continuation of the former octave of the birthday of St. John the Baptist, which certainly had things the wrong way round! The date of the feast is now more logical, separated from St. John's birthday by almost a month, thus symbolising the three months that Mary is said to have stayed with Elizabeth (Luke 1:56). And had the Visitation not replaced the Queenship of Mary (which has been moved to August 22 under the adjusted title of 'Our Lady Mother and Queen'), we would have no Marian feast in May. This would have been odd since May is traditionally regarded as one of Mary's special months (the other being October)

Around 1868 an Italian Father of Charity, Doctor Gentili, introduced the celebration of May devotions among the English. This was probably the result of Pope Pius IX having introduced the granting of a plenary indulgence to those who practised devotion to Mary during May, with the usual proviso that they went to Confession and Communion. This is certain to have appealed to English Catholics, whose country had been known as 'the Dowry of Mary' since at least 1399.. In that year Archbishop Arundel of Canterbury published a mandate that included the words, 'But we, as the humble servants of Mary's , and liegemen of her especial dower - as we are approved by common parlance -  ought to excel all others in the fervour of praise and devotion to her.'

Pray for us, natives of England thy Dowry

Fr. Mark Elvins (in his 'Catholic Trivia', Harper Collins Religious 1992) is persuasive that the term goes back further, and that the young Richard II , in thanksgiving for the ending of the Peasants' revolt, had solemnly consecrated his kingdom to Mary after his successful meeting with Watt Tyler and his rebels, on the Saturday after Corpus Christi in the year 1381.
(copyright Jane Mossendew the Crown of the Year 2005)

Tomorrow at 7.50p.m. UK time kto tv will broadcast direct from the Lourdes Grotto in the Vatican gardens when the Pope makes his annual visit to formally close the Marian month of May. Meanwhile in England:

The Slipper Chapel, near Walsingham

(I chose the Iris to celebrate the Visitation and will post teat extract tomorrow.)
Posted by Jane - Thoughts from a catholic Oasis

Magnificat in Sixth Tone Orlando di Lasso_0001.wmv

Magnificat (Tone 2, D, g.)

Sunday 29 May 2011

The gift of the Holy Spirit

Announce with a voice of joy, and let it be heard to the end of the earth.” (Is 48.20) As we come towards the end of Eastertide, the Church invites us to ponder the gift of the Holy Spirit Who was given by Christ to the Apostles, and, after them, to all of us.

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Blessed Trinity, truly God and co-equal with the Father and the Son. We particularly appropriate to the Holy Spirit the wisdom and the love of God. When we are in a state of grace (free from mortal sin) the Holy Spirit dwells in our soul to sanctify us.

In preparation for our Confirmation, we learnt of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the fruits of the Spirit that show His life in us. Over and above the human virtue of prudence, the Holy Spirit assists us with supernatural wisdom, understanding, counsel, and knowledge, leading us to a fitting fortitude, piety and fear of God.

The primary grace of the sacrament of Confirmation is the grace for strengthening (gratia ad robur). This applies not only to our interior life of grace but especially to the witness that we give to others. This witness may often require fortitude as well as wisdom and right judgement.

We should know the traditional prayer to the Holy Spirit and use it often. Faced with an important decision or even something as mundane as a meeting, we do well to call upon the Holy Spirit to make us truly wise, to enlighten us, to kindle in us the fire of His love, and to send us His holy consolation.

Fr Tim Finigan The hermeneutic of continuity

Saturday 28 May 2011

"With desolation is the land made desolate because there are none who thinketh in their hearts."

Excerpt from the chapter, The Dawn of Truth ( from his book Sobriety and Beyond) by Father Ralph Pfau. (Imprimatur Paul C Shulte D.D Archbishop of Indianapolis March !955).In 1948 Fr Ralph founded the National Clergy Conference on Alcoholism, an organization devoted to the problems of priests, and directed it for many years. Its publications, especially "Alcoholism Source Book for Priests," and the annual "Blue Book," made a deep impact on the American Catholic Hierarchy.

I have inserted capitals as Father Ralph (pictured above) uses them, in his book. The three choices he suggests at the end, I believe I have attempted all three more than once. I am able to continue attempting No.3 ..............and I surely know that this is but for the grace of God. I find Father Ralph's words so healing! That is why I share them. I have posted this excerpt on my own blog today and thought it might be of interest generally.

"Somewhere along the path of life of every human being there comes a dread moment when he suddenly sees himself for what he is. Minus all the sham, the surface and the show, he then stands face to face with truth. Minus the deception of his own self seeking and selfishness, he sees himself clearly outlined in the aura of God's grace as it tears away all the foolish self deceptions and shows a man for what he really is- selfish, deceitful, full of excuses, dishonest, even to himself and full of faults and failings............conts: To most of us, this moment comes at a time when many of life's battles and years have passed, but at a time when there still remains sufficient years, vigor and initiative to "seek truth and pursue it,".in order to make it the motive of our living, the motive of our struggles and the security of our declining years.

This moment may be brought about by the death of a loved one, the loss of worldly goods, or it may be directly occasioned within by the grace of God speaking to the depth of our soul. To most alcoholics it comes at that instant when they face the inevitable choice: death, insanity or absolute sobriety. It often comes with a blinding flash that seems to tear away the very foundations of life and whether alcoholic or non-alcoholic, layman or professional, young or old, there arises from the very innermost sanctuary of the soul and heart the cry "My God, what a mess I have made of things! How pitiful is the good done, how sparing my help to others, how innumerable my mistakes, the wrongs-how all pervading my self seeking, how dishonest my every motive! How seamy the finished, but now battered product!"

This "moment" may last for an hour, a day, a month, a year or for years. But whenever, however it comes- it is a dread and fearful moment, because UPON THAT MOMENT AND THE DECISIONS OF THAT MOMENT MAY DEPEND OUR VERY LIFE AND OUR ETERNITY. And from that time on, one can never be the same again.....................conts: It is then that life's greatest decision must be made and then it seems that an angel has him by the hands and a devil by the foot...............he can do one of three things:

First, rush in confusion back to the old surface view of self and try by a thousand and one half remdies to dress up the haunting vision, to explain away the stubborn reality. TO EXCUSE and to attempt forgetfulness by courting the sham fancies of the night and by rushing headlong through the chores of the day. THIS IS THE CHOICE OF THE VAIN MAN.

Second, the shock may be so great, the failure so undeniably real, the disillusionment so crushing that he despairs and in one way or another he seeks to destroy himself- either factually or by the bottle. THIS IS THE PROUD MAN.

Third, this is the way of the Prodigal Son, who dropped on his knees in the swine pen and cried: "Father, I have sinned" or with it's echo "I am powerless... my life is unmanageable"- and perhaps for the first time in his life that man REALLY prays and begins to MEDITATE, THIS IS THE HUMBLE MAN. And day by day he prays and he MEDITATES on TRUTH lest again he fall back into his former life-long HABIT OF EXCUSES. For the LIFE OF ALL IS LOADED WITH EXCUSES-AND SYSTEMATIC, PERSISTENT AND CONSISTENT MEDITATION ALONE WILL DISSIPATE THEM. "With desolation is the land made desolate because there are none who thinketh in their hearts.""

posted by shadowlands @ http://shadowlands1.blogspot.com/

Friday 27 May 2011

From 2009: St Therese of Lisieux

I always wait to be inspired to write or post and while I was wondering what to put for my first post on the Guild Blog ,this memory came ,thank you Saint Therese.You never fail me.I hope the other guild members don't mind me re posting something from my own blog,but this just felt right. The visit was an amazing experience,  it wasn't an ornate box of bones we met in Cardiff it was a smiling and loving person.

Our visit to the Little Flower was a wonderful blessing!! my husband , our daughter and myself were all thrilled and touched deeply by her presence through her relics being at our metropolitan cathedral in Cardiff last night.

We were rather later going than I had hoped but I was happy and calm about the whole thing and trusted that we would not be disappointed and we were not. We were in time to all receive Holy Communion ,something we had not been able to do all together for some months now, we were standing in the entrance porch of the cathedral as it is not a very large building and the bishop of Wrexham and 2 other priests came to distribute the sacrament right next to us! We were able to hear the singing of the choirs and the prayers.

I spoke to a Sister in a blue habit and one of the Friars who is travelling with the Saint to carry the Icon image of her before which we lit our candles.

Everyone was peaceful and happy, such fellowship and love was there and everyone sharing by looks and small gestures the feeling of happiness at being with dear Sister to receive Our Lord and pray together!
We then waited in line to venerate the relics .People left after mass and the whole place was packed and yet no barging or pushing! My husband and daughter asked what they had to do,do we have to kiss it ? No I said you can do what you feel comfortable with, just touch or even just look no one will mind. Others sat in the pews sharing quiet fellowship together old and young and of every age. I saw one very tiny baby and it was sleeping so peacefully in its mothers arms ! Older people and the sick were also present as well as Sisters of Charity in their blue and white saris, and priests and and other religious and alter servers.

Every now and then prayers and quotations of Therese were read out and slowly we got to the front, flowers were heaped around the relics and i added the spray of Orchids i had taken from my plant at home. I knelt and afterwards lent forward to kiss the cover of the relics, I touched my forehead to it also and laid my arm , holding my 3 rosaries across it ,only for a second or two but it felt as if we were alone and so close! I truly felt as if the dear sweet saint took me in her arms! and said I know what your prayer intentions are, I'm praying them too, Thank you for coming to see me! I moved away to light a candle. Goodness, how fierce was the heat and how many candles were burning and yet there was room for all to pause and light a candle before the large Icon portrait of our dear Little Flower. I sat in the pews near her and watched as others embraced her. I was excited and yet still she was with me calming my spirit and telling me not to worry that I could not stay longer or think of a formal prayer, because I was thinking of all my intentions and remembering my loved ones ,God knew what I meant ,and she was praying and sharing equally with every Soul that was visiting her.

What a wonder full moment that was. I took some pictures and then moved away to give others room and because I knew we had to come away because my husband who is diabetic needed some earthly food and we could not stay too late because of his work the next day . It was after 8pm when we left the Cathedral, as we walked out I was greeted by my Parish Priest , Father W Isaacs, and spoke to one of the Sisters of Charity at the door, I also blew my dear friend a kiss, and I felt she said to me Please come again.

Just around the corner from our Cathedral which is in the very centre of Cardiff is a branch of Burger King and it was full of Catholic pilgrims! refreshing themselves in body and happily sharing fellowship. our Parish Priest came in with a party young people , the altar servers, I think who had all been at the Cathedral, and we met a lady from our own little church which is one of the 3 that our Priests are looking after.

How happy we were my husband and our daughter and I laughing and joking together, as we drove away I looked at the Cathedral doors and said Thank you for coming to Wales and in my heart she answered, Thank you for visiting with me, come again! We will , in our prayers Dear Sister Therese. Thank you God for your Saints and today for this one in particular, who shows us The Little Way of Love and Trust.

The Holy Rosary

The more we think, "There is nothing to do. I'll pray the Rosary," the more we will believe that there really is nothing to do but pray the Rosary.

That The Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill

God Has Chosen to Live With Us

The Holy Faith is, by nature of its Divine origin and its supernatural essence is, enshrouded in mystery. We can never lose sight of this mystery. Unless we are given great grace, it is very difficult for us to penetrate the great mysteries of Faith.

I find that the greatest mystery of Faith is not belief in the Resurrection, or the Assumption of Our Lady but in what we can see and yet what we cannot see, unless we are given great faith.

The most profound, to my mind, of these mysteries is that which we encounter every time we step into a Church. Every time we walk into a Church we walk into the Presence of God. Every Catholic Church around the World houses the Lord God of Hosts in the Tabernacle. Every time we walk into a Church, God is truly present to us.

Nurturing and building up our faith and the faith of others is about recognising this one simple truth - that God is mysteriously present in the Tabernacle, in the Blessed Sacrament - really, totally, substantially, utterly God. This is why Catholics have, until relatively recently, always and everywhere, genuflected towards the Tabernacle because, inside those doors, is God Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ.

I find it terribly sad when I go to Catholic Churches and the Tabernacle is tucked away in a side chapel, away from the centre of the Church because at the centre of the Church is Jesus Christ. Without the Blessed Sacrament, a Church would have no life at all. There would be no reason for going to Mass, nor for going into a Church, even, to pray.

We can cultivate our Faith by genuflecting on one knee before the Tabernacle, in recognition of Jesus Christ. We can pray before the Tabernacle, even when the Lord is not exposed, because we know that through those small doors, is Jesus.

We can make the Church a place of prayer, the House of Prayer, that Our Lord furiously stated that it should be when He drove out the money changers from the Temple in Jerusalem. If liturgy is not prayerful then it is not recollected and solemn liturgy. If a Church is not a House of Prayer then what is it?

The Reality of the Real Presence is at the centre of Pope Benedict XVI's liturgical reforms and we would do well to recognise that unless when we walk into a Church, we behave as if Jesus is there, recognising Him behind those doors, then we will not cultivate even the small mustard seed of faith that in our possession. The Sacred is already there, in every Church. It is up to us, as lay people, to cultivate and create the sense of the Sacred for ourselves and others, but most of all for Jesus Christ, so that He can be worshipped 'in spirit and in truth'. The Lord Jesus does not want to be ignored in the Tabernacle and we, we can only be happy when our restless hearts find rest in Him.

Worship and prayer are not separate from our bodily gestures and our pause for reflection on the Real Presence of God in the Church will do us spiritual good, increase our faith and increase the faith of others. We must not push Our Blessed Lord to the side, or ignore Him when we are in His presence, or behave as if we are in just another space or place, pretend that He is not there or forget that He truly is. If we do that, then we will miss the greatest mystery of all - that God has chosen, not just once, but until the End of Time itself, to live with us, to dwell in our midst. If we miss that, we miss the point entirely, of God's sublime condescension and God's breathtaking love, for us. This is why Pope Benedict XVI desires to see the liturgy reformed - so that it reflects the awe-inspiring mystery of God's love and His Real Presence among us.

We can remember this even when we walk past a Church and say a prayer, to which, I believe, a plenary indulgence is attached (it certainly was)...

May the Heart of Jesus in the most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, be adored, loved and glorified, in every Tabernacle, in every Church, at every hour, in the whole World, now until the end of time. Amen.

How can they say there can be no Heaven on Earth when God Himself has already chosen to live here? He Who is totally transcendent, beyond time and comprehension, lives in our time, in the Tabernacle. Not just once did God humble himself, by becoming Man for our sake! No, not once did He humble Himself, but daily He humbles Himself to the point of living in our midst, in every Church, 'even until the End of Time'!

Posted by That The Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill

Faith - There isn't an app for that.

I was reading through this article the other day:


It made me think about mobile phones and why our faith isn't like one.

Perhaps I ought to explain. The article – which is a good one – is about an American couple who were using IVF and at the same time displayed a woeful ignorance on church teaching about a number of things.

Sample quote from the mother “According to the church, I can use IVF, confess my mortal sin, gain absolution and get back into God’s good grace. But how do I seek forgiveness for conceiving my children? “ Now I don't propose to address that comment here as the blog author did an excellent job herself..

We are saved, ultimately, by the undeserved and unmerited Grace of God – we know this. But I wonder how many of us stop to think about how closely we are following the instructions God himself gave us? How many stop to think of the implications of ignoring those instructions – either directly as written in the bible or as passed on to us from church teaching?

Why do we do things that we know are wrong? I'm not talking about the normal struggle with sin that we all have in some way shape or form in our lives. I mean the big specific things that we know are wrong and make a conscious decision to ignore (or at least not to look at too closely because we think we shouldn't do it) Things like IVF, Homosexuality, Abortion, Infidelity etc? Having then committed said sin how do we then possibly try to justify what we have done or to weasel out of taking responsibility for it?

How can we blame the church, or even God, for making what we wanted to do sinful? For stopping us from living a normal life in the 21st century?

At an individual level it comes down to either ignorance or the spirit of 'entitlement' which is pervading our current age, sometimes both. Usually ignorance about the concepts of repentance and confession going hand in hand with a sense of being entitled to do something – either perform an action or otherwise – that society accepts as normal but that is against church teaching. Because “I should be able to as well.”

10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. 11 For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," said also, "Do not kill." If you do not commit adultery but do kill, you have become a transgressor of the law. (James 2:10-11 RSV)

Sin is sin. You can argue all you like that you kept 9 of the commandments but it won't matter in the slightest if you continuously break the 10th. Now this sounds harsh but we have only to repent of our sin and the Lord embraces us back like the prodigal son. The thing is 'repent' means to turn away from. It doesn't mean to say “Sorry” with the full intention of doing it again.

Faith is about living to the Gospel, matching your actions with your beliefs so that you can walk righteously with God – insofar as any of us can. Being righteous isn't about being perfect, its about trying as hard as you can to do what God wants you to do and then – when you fall – getting up and trying again.

This is what our Lord tried to tell us when he talked of the narrow and wide paths.

12 So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets. 13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:12-14 RSV)

Its really easy to look at this world and conform to it. It is really hard to look at our faith and the teachings of the church and make a decision not to take / do / have what other people do or have in this world for the sake of following our beliefs. Sometimes this means painful choices and acceptance of things that we would rather were otherwise. Sometimes it may mean that the only way forward for us is prayer and trust in God. Sometimes it just means that we have to forgo some of the things that would make us happy in this life. Immediately preceding this quote Jesus speaks of the Fathers desire to give us 'good gifts' and we should hold that close to our hearts whenever we are forced to look at society and see things we can't have or do.

We need to take solace in the words of our Lord:

I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. (John 10:9 RSV)

He reminds us in the above passage that he, like the Shepherds of old lying down across the gate to the pasture, is the door to heaven and that we can pass safely through him. How do we do this? By following his teaching. However hard things are and however tempting it is to ignore teaching that is difficult or inconvenient we need to remember our route to salvation is by following Jesus and being his disciples. By modelling ourselves on him and doing our best to imitate him.

Most importantly we must keep our faith at the centre and forefront of our lives, above all other concerns:

17 But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, "In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires." 19 These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. 20 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. 21 Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. (Jude 1:17-21)

Faith isn't like an iPhone or a Smart Phone. You can't just take the basic model and add the apps that you want and ignore those you don't. Faith is a little like a Bible. Whats in there is in there no matter if we like it or not. It is an instruction manual on how to live, not a novel for our enjoyment.

You can, of course, get a Bible app.

By Cant Oves of http://caveevangelista.wordpress.com

Thursday 26 May 2011

Reflections on genuflection - and mantillas!

It seems that more and more Catholics are refusing to bend the knee when they enter their pew in church. I find their reasoning very hard to comprehend.

There, in full view of them is the tabernacle (normally) housing the Body and Blood of Christ, the Son of God. What is it that causes them to walk in as though it was Saturday night at the Odeon?

If Mother Teresa could do it.......?
It would be interesting to conduct a survey to determine the true reason. I suspect that the main one is pride. They are too proud to go down on one knee in respect and veneration of God. I don’t believe that it is generally a lack of belief in the Sacred Species; these are not just young Catholics, they are of all ages and some of them have had their faith for very many years. I speculate also, whether they are cradle Catholics. My guess is that converts are usually well informed on practices and custom and it’s us Papes born with the faith who treat it with disdain.

My next query is – why do the priests not speak out? Why do they not teach reverence from the pulpit? Come to think of it, I have rarely heard a priest give any sort of practical guidance to his flock.

And Francis Phillips of The Catholic Herald has re-ignited the mantilla debate; not the veil, please note, that is certainly not on the cards. But women covering their head as a mark of respect must be a good thing? No? Is it too demeaning?

One argument that never seems to see the light of day is the one regarding men and headgear – strictly a no no in Church! Yet, if we were to walk into Mass wearing a hat we would be given short shrift by all on Sunday! If it is disrespectful for men to wear a head covering why should not women abide by the same but different custom (not rule) and cover their glory, their hair?

Francis Phillips arrives at a compromise which I find quite strange. Basically, at OF Masses, wearing a mantilla is seen to be overly pious and a way of drawing attention to oneself. Whereas, at EF Masses it is quite acceptable if not de rigeur. I cannot determine the logic there.

Perhaps a role model is what is needed; a leading Catholic woman, well known in the public eye….

.....well...the Mother of God always covers her head! 

Posted by Richard Collins Linen on the Hedgerow

Wednesday 25 May 2011

The Feast of St Philip Neri

St Philip Neri
To celebrate the feast of St Philip Neri (May 26th) here is another extract from ‘Crown of the Year’...

ST. PHILIP NERI (1515-95)

Brompton Stock (Matthiola incana)

History of the Plant’s Name

This biennial has been been called ‘Brompton’ Stock since the 18th century when it was bred by George London and Henry Wise in a nursery in Brompton Park, where the museums of South Kensington now stand, in other words just down the road from Brompton Oratory. The plant produces crimson, pink, lavender, mauve or white, scented flowers from March to May on sturdy, branching stems. This sturdiness is possibly the origin of the name ‘stock’ for this word also means ‘tree trunk'.

St Philip Neri and the Brompton Stock

I have chosen the Brompton Stock for St. Philip because he is the sound trunk from which sprang his English legacy, famously residing at Brompton Oratory in London. Developed by Fr Faber, this Oratory, together with that of Birmingham, had been founded by Cardinal John Henry Newman, England’s most eminent Oratorian. The performance of the ‘oratorio’ has come to be regarded as a very English musical activity, and it is perhaps surprising that it developed from the services of the first Oratorians in Rome, which made full use of musical and artistic resources (Palestrina was among St Philip’s penitents), and the English Oratories still work hard to maintains a high standard of liturgical music.

Brompton Stock
Philip was born in Florence. He lost his mother whilst he was still a child but was fortunate in having a good stepmother. He was educated at the famous Dominican convent of San Marco, where the frescoes of Blessed Fra Angelico (c. 1400-55) must have made a deep impression. He worked for a while in the business of an uncle who planned to make him his heir, but Philip began to yearn for solitude and to realize that he was not destined for a life in commerce.

When he was 18 he left for Rome and, while tutoring his landlord’s two sons, began to live almost as a hermit, studying theology and philosophy and spending whole nights in prayer, often in the catacombs. There, one night in 1544, he had a shattering ‘vision’ in which it seemed that a globe of fire entered his mouth and dilated his heart. The experience apparently left permanent physical effects, for at his autopsy his heart was found to be so enlarged that several of his ribs had broken to accommodate it. But at the time of the ‘vision’ Philip felt that the globe of fire was the Holy Spirit filling him with a love that he was unable to endure. Perhaps that is what made him turn from study to the active apostolate, at first informally, by engaging the young in conversation, encouraging them to turn aside from sin and to accompany him in the service of the sick and on visits to the churches of Rome. In 1548 he founded a confraternity to look after the many pilgrims who visited Rome and later to care for poor convalescents.

St Philip Neri was ordained in 1551 and at first lived in community with a group of secular priests at San Girolamo della Carita. Here he showed extraordinary skill and power as a confessor, and was always to regard the confessional as a means to conversion of life in his penitents, and therefore as the foundation of an incorrupt society in both Church and State. (St Ignatius of Loyola who met and befriended him, held the same view, as did the entire group who had founded the Society of Jesus about 20 years earlier.) At one time, inspired by St. Francis Xavier, Philip thought of becoming a missionary. He was discouraged from this by a Cistercian monk who told him that Rome was to be his mission field, and this probably explains why he is sometimes called ‘the second Apostle of Rome’.

St Philip’s confraternity was the basis of the eventual Congregation of the Oratory, and was so called because Philip and his disciples used an oratory built over the nave of San Girolamo church for public services, which were announced by the ringing of a small bell. At first five priests shared a community life with St. Philip, and were obedient to him as Superior, even though they were not bound to do so by vow, nor was the renunciation of property a condition for membership. The Congregation was approved in 1575, by which time their leader had attracted a huge personal following. He still lived at San Girolamo, where he received cardinals and paupers. He experienced spiritual ecstasy and there are stories that when he was saying Mass, the server sometimes felt free to absent himself for two hours until the saint had regained normal consciousness. In 1593 St Philip resigned as Superior and, through his influence a conflict between France and Rome was averted by the absolution of Henry IV of Navarre who had temporarily embraced Protestantism. On 25 May 1595 St Philip celebrated Mass and heard confessions as usual. He died early on the following morning, in his eightieth year.

Saint Philip Neri is noted for his charitable works, love of his neighbour and evangelical simplicity, but perhaps above all for his extraordinarily attractive personality and for his joy in the service of God. The second Office reading on his feast day is from St. Augustine’s ‘Sermon 171’ and is entitled ‘Rejoice in the Lord always’. St Philip set this example of happiness. And yet we know how much discomfort, if not pain, he must have suffered from the time of his ‘vision’ as a young man. One of his maxims was: “It is easier to guide cheerful persons in the spiritual life than melancholy ones.” One has the feeling that no one could have been melancholy in his presence for long. Perhaps that was his secret.


  • Thanksgiving for the lives of St Philip Neri, Cardinal (now blessed) John Henry Newman and Fr Faber;
  • Thanksgiving for our sense of humour, and the ability to be cheerful in the face of difficulties;
  • That we may follow the example of St. Philip and be joyful in our Christian lives, so that our behaviour may draw others to joy in Our Lord;
  • For the members of our English Oratories and the up-building of their communities;
  • For the priests and people in parishes and institutions who have St Philip Neri as their patron

(copyright Jane Mossedew ‘Crown of the Year’ 2005)

Saint Philip, we implore your prayers. Amen

Posted by Thoughts from an Oasis of French Catholicism

In the week that the Holy Father has asked us to pray for China....

...comes an extract from a book called 'Calvary in China' by Father Robert Greene, a Maryknoll Missionary. Fr Greene was ministering to his community in Southern China in 1949 when the communists under the tyrant, Chairman Mao, assumed control.

As a child, I read some very graphic comics produced, I believe, by the Maryknoll Fathers, that featured many heart wrenching and bloody stories of Catholic persecution under the Reds. I also had a priest friend, a French Vincentian Father whom I knew in the early 60s. He was short and very (apparently) fat but, it transpired that he had been imprisoned since 1948 and his rather bloated appearance was the result of continued starvation and torture. He once showed me his wrists which were permanently and deeply indented where he was semi permanently bound up with wire.

These men had a profound effect on me; they had quietly sacrificed much for the sake of Christ and both had experienced the cross on Calvary.

At this stage in the book Fr Greene had been confined to quarters for some months and subject to regular beatings, vile abuse, threats and vilification from some of his flock who had embraced the new ideology. He was subject to constant false 'confessions' being thrust in front of him to sign.
Confessions that denied God and claimed that the holy man was a political agent of the USA. He was also questioned about his involvement in what they described as a subversive and evil organisation - The Legion of Mary!

The chapter is headed "My matchstick Rosary"

"....The judge angrily rose from his chair and started around the table towards me, and I was preparing for a blow from his fist. With my hands this time bound tightly with rope behind my back, it would have been impossible to ward off his assault. But, instead of striking me he uttered some curses and stuck under my eyes a page of his law book which, he said, told how a criminal should conduct himself in the presence of his judge....
...During the half-waking, half delirious hours of the painfully long days I would try to remove from my mind the sinister look of the inhuman judge, and the intentions of all those who had come together against me. For some small comfort I would try to pray. I would try to say the Rosary on my fingers. The prayers came hard and distractedly. It was impossible to keep count of the number of prayers I said. Then for the first time I noticed five or six burnt safety matches lying in one of the foul corners of my cell. I picked up the matchsticks and broke each one in half, making ten piece about an inch long. I placed them in a row on the board bed, and I squatted in front of the matches and started slowly to say the Hail Marys of the Rosary After each prayer I would move each matchstick about two inches to the left, then go on to th next prayer......
...As I prayed I had not noticed the surly guards at the window and the door gazing at me in wonderment. No doubt about it, the sight of me squatting there on the boards staring at broken bits of burnt matches and moving them occasionally from side to side must have convinced these men that I had reached an advanced stage of dementia praecox. However, according to their plans I was apparently somewhat ahead of schedule - they had still some more use for me, and they sounded rather anxious as they shouted out: "What are you doing there with those sticks?"
"Thinking," I replied slowly, "just thinking".

Posted by Richard Collins - Linen on the Hedgerow

Monday 23 May 2011

One Big (Dysfunctional) Family

The Church Triumphant is perfect because the Church in Heaven is full of Saints. The Church on Earth, Militant, is imperfect because the Church on Earth is full of sinners.

The two Churches, however, are not separate - they are united spiritually in a communion that will be no longer visibly divided by time and space at the End of Time.

The family of God in Heaven are the happy family. The members of the family on Earth, joined mystically to the family in Heaven has, and always will have 'difficulties'.

Still, it is better to belong to this family than to not belong to it.  Loneliness and isolation is a great scourge of the modern World. It is easy to become cast off from the modern society, to be excluded, to feel like one doesn't quite fit into it, even if one would like to. While the Catholic Church is not a 'social club' by any means, though, of course, some parishes will be better at providing social functions than others, there is a sense in which the Holy Faith provides a sense of family to people, because it is a family, even without a great deal of social interaction.

The prayer that we have been given by the Divine Founder of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ, instruct us that God is not merely a personal Father. God is not 'my' Father. God is Our Father. The prayers included in the liturgy of the Church constantly point towards a God who cares for us, that it is us who need redemption, and that the prayer of the Church is for the whole Church and also for the whole World.

Similarly, the prayers of the Rosary continue to emphasise 'us' rather than 'I' or 'me'...

"forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who tresspass against us"
"give us this day our daily bread"
"deliver us from evil"
"forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell"
"pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death"

The daily prayers of the Church and of the Church's recommended private prayers teach us that we do not live in isolation even if we experience that we do. We have a shared Communion not just with the Holy Trinity, but also with the Communion of Saints in Heaven, with the whole Church on Earth and the Suffering Souls in Purgatory. A good reason for this blog was to get Catholic bloggers (some of whom may live in isolation) together. The feeling at the bloggers meeting was that 'we are not alone' and it is good to meet others who care passionately about the Faith and who use the internet to communicate that passion. Some said that it can be a 'lonely pursuit' so it is nice to able to promote a blog in which many different blogs contribute to form a Body, a whole in which every member is important - that is one reason why it is a mortal sin to miss Mass. We do not belong to ourselves, but to the Mystical Body of Christ. We are His limbs on Earth.

The prayers of the Church, the one given to us by Christ and the ones given to us by the Church inspired by the Holy Spirit teach us constantly that we are incorporated into a mystical Body of believers - the Mystical Body of Christ. Even if we feel that we are, we are not alone, since we have Our Lady for Mother, the Church indeed for Mother, God for our Father, the Lord Jesus for our Redeemer, the Holy Spirit for our Sanctifier (for want of a better word), the Saints for our intercessory Brothers and Sisters in Heaven and the whole community of Catholics on Earth for our Brothers and Sisters on Earth.

The prayers recommended by the Church point us towards acknowledging constantly that, even if we wanted to be, we are not alone because of the Family of God that we have been incorporated into in our Baptism, as well as the very Life of the Blessed Trinity itself. Important to remember that while the true Head of the Church is Our Lord Jesus Christ, the visible head of the Body of Christ is the Vicar of Christ on Earth, Pope Benedict XVI, now gloriously reigning.

Therefore, if any Catholic should say, "That's not my Pope!" let it be said in reply, "You're right! He's our Sovereign Pontiff!"

Posted by Laurence of That The Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill

Sunday 22 May 2011

Becoming who we are made to be

Baptised into new life
I am very happy to be blogging my first post (or is it posting my first blog? I always get those two mixed up!). As this is my first time being here, I was a little unsure what to write about. I decided to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide me. That was this morning, before Mass. I found myself thinking about three things; my first Holy Communion, the rosary and inner healing. Well, that's quite a diverse group of subjects, but I noticed links between the three as the day progressed.

First of all, at Mass. The priest actually asked us, during his sermon, did we ever think about the first time we  received Jesus in the eucharist! I love signs, I am a real signs and wonders type, if given the choice, that is. I also know the value of 'slowly does but do it' type of faith. One day at a time.

I don't know about you, but my first Holy Communion was not exactly a consciously joyful spiritual experience. It was very much of the senses, rather than the spirit. I remember my dress. I remember going for fittings for the dress. I remember having my photograph taken with a lovely priest, Fr Foynes. I remember Sister Vincent, who gave me religious instruction as I didn't attend a Roman Catholic primary school. She taught (mis) us that if we were to accidentally bite the host, the whole world would end. The fear this instilled in me took away any peace the Lord would be trying to give me as I received Him. I became far too concerned with, not just mine, but how you others received Jesus. I would watch your mouths to see if they were moving in a chew like manner. Fortunately, no-one had bitten the host, so the world hasn't ended (yet).

So, the rosary next. I have been praying the rosary on a regular basis for two and a half years now. I have noticed many changes in my life (plus changes still needed) and also in my Catholic faith, which has become rooted in me, where before I would not particularly worry about stating I was a Catholic, I would just say Christian. However, that is a whole other subject. The part of the fruit of the rosary that I want to mention, is it's inner healing properties, at least, the healing I have experienced.

I noticed that childhood memories would begin to come up sometimes while I was meditating on certain mysteries. I became aware of Jesus and Our Lady's presence at those times in my life when I had felt quite alone. A kind of confirmation that they had been there with me. These memories loose their grip on me, once I remember I am never alone, not then and not now, even as I type. I am loved and knowing this is the beginning of my being freed. Our Lady is so peaceful, so much the opposite of how I am, as a person. Infact, I have sensed her say "Shhh" to me, gently, at times when I have been flapping and worrying. I have mentioned this before, on my own blog, but it's worth a repeat because ofcourse, if it's true for me, then it's true for everyone. The Holy family has no favourites. I was also  wary of approaching Mary, as I saw her as a real 'goody two shoes'. I envied her, to be frank. I honestly thought I had blown my chances of her ever wanting anything to do with me. Not so, she is so like the Father, running to meet us, over the rooftops. Do not be frightened to reach out to her. I asked Jesus, if it was His will, to allow me to become closer to her. He did. But that is also another long story (one that is still unfolding).

So to end, let's go back to the beginning again. As I say, before Mass, I was thinking about my first Communion, how it was being viewed by heaven, as opposed to earth. Jesus was watching me, waiting for me, maybe even seeing how many years it was going to be before I realised this. Well, I realised it this morning. He wasn't too worried about my dress, nor all the other childhood terrors. He was just waiting, to meet with me. Just as He was waiting to meet with you, on your special day. Can you remember it? Ask the Holy Spirit to relive it, with you. It's a very healing and joyful experience, becoming childlike again.

Thank you for stopping by to read this. God bless you.

Ros @ shadowlands 

"Burn him, burn him!"

The scene is Smithfield in London, 22nd May 1538. In the centre of the market area a huge pile of wood and faggots, stands ready to be lit and, over the pyre, a gallows with chain attached and waiting to be shackled to the chain a man implacably standing by for the fire to be ignited.

The man was Oxford born Franciscan, Blessed John Forest; his crime? To be a Catholic priest. Bl John Forest had become a popular man at court under the patronage of Catherine of Aragon. He was appointed first chaplain to the Queen and, later, her confessor.

"Neither fire, faggot or scaffold shall separate me from Thee, O Lord"
As Henry VIII began his persecution of the Church and augmented his personal annulment plans, so Friar John spoke out boldly and could be observed publicly preaching against the Crown and its actions.

By 1534 he was in jail and suffering for his outspokeness, but by early in 1538 he began to weaken in his resolve. Thomas Cranmer persuaded him to recant but, on returning to prison he was swiftly counselled by brother Friars and priests and rallied in his resolve to stand firm in his faith.

Finally, he was condemned to be burnt as a heretic and Bishop Latimer assigned to read a sermon of recantation in the hopes that this priest would cave in at the last moment. 
As Latimer preached so Friar John countered and rejoined and so compelling were his responses that Latimer, losing all self control screamed out: "Burn him, burn him!" He was then carried to the gibbet and and suspended by his waist over the pile. As the flames began to advance a wooden statue of a saint, believed to be that of St Derfell from North Wales was added to the blaze.

This fulfilled a supposed prophecy regarding the Saint that "one day he will set a forest on fire."
Friar John's sufferings extended for two hours as strong winds dissipated the flames so that he scorched slowly rather than rapidly. At the end of the two hours he was unshackled and his body cast on the fire.

Before he died the martyr prayed out loud:

"Neither fire, faggot or scaffold shall separate me from Thee, O Lord"

                        Blessed John Forest - Ora pro nobis!

Posted by Richard Collins - Linen on the Hedgerow

Friday 20 May 2011

Saint Bede the Venerable

St Bede the Venerable
Happy feast day of our only English Doctor of the Church.

In celebration, here is offered part of the entry for Saint Bede from my third published book ‘The Crown of the Year’ (available on Amazon).

By selecting a plant for each day of the Liturgical year, the books demonstrate the inextricable links between prayer and gardening and the lore of plants, trees and herbs. Plants can help you to pray even if you only have a window box, or indeed no garden at all. So why did I choose this shrub for St. Bede?

Saint Bede and the Candleberry

I have chosen the Candleberry because its name associates it with light, and because the berry wax provides aromatic tallow from which candles are made. As author of the ‘Ecclesiastical History of the English People’, which he completed in 731, Bede sheds light on our early Christian Past. He had a special delight in learning and teaching and spread this through his writing. His emblem is a gold pitcher, with light from heaven, indicated by silver rays emanating from the gold centre, on a blue field.

Candleberry/Wax Myrtle
He was born near the monastery at Wearmouth, was educated by St. Benet Biscop and was ordained in about 703. He was apparently musical, liked singing and was coherent, modest and detached. Dante referred to him in the ‘Paradiso’, and St Boniface said that at Bede’s death ‘the candle of the Church lit by the Holy Spirit had been extinguished’. St Cuthbert (c.634-87) wrote that ‘the English should thank God that He gave them so marvellous a man’. Cuthbert regarded Bede as a saint while he lived, and it is thanks to a letter of his to a fellow teacher named Cuthwin, that we know of St. Bede’s attitude and behaviour during his last illness. Although mortally ailing he continued to sing the Offices, to teach and to work on a translation of St John’s Gospel and on excerpts from ‘The Book of Cycles’ by St Isidore. In regard to the latter, he considered it important that his students should be left with an accurate translation so that after his death their understanding of the text would not be faulty.

On the Tuesday before Ascension Day, Bede’s breathing became more laboured, but he taught all day and then spent the night in thanksgiving. On the following day he worked again with his students and then distributed to the priests of the monastery, as little gifts, the few possessions he had accumulated – pepper, handkerchiefs and incense. He asked for Masses and prayers in return and warned them that he would not survive much longer. They wept at this but rejoiced at something else he said: “I have lived a long time and the Holy Judge has provided well for me during my whole life. The time of my release is near; indeed my soul longs to see Christ my king in all His beauty.” At about Vespers time on Bede’s last day, he was asked by his pupil Wilbur to complete the last sentence of the translation they had been working on. When this had been done, apparently in Bede’s cell, he asked the boy: “Take my head in your hands, for it pleases me very much to sit opposite my holy place where I used to pray, so that as I sit there I may call upon my Father.” And so, ‘on the floor of his cell, singing: “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit” and the rest, he breathed out his spirit from his body.’

St. Bede the Venerable has the distinction of being the only English Doctor of the Church, but it was not until 1899 that Pope Leo XIII conferred this honour upon him. His remains are in the Galilee chapel in Durham Cathedral, where there is a burial slab. In the 20th century Dean Allinton placed a memorial on the wall behind it, inscribed with some of Bede’s own words from his commentary on the Book of Revelation:
“Christ is the morning star who when the night of this world is past, brings to His saints the promise of the light of life and opens everlasting day.”

(Copyright Jane Mossendew 2005) Posted by Thoughts From an Oasis of French Catholicism

Pope Benedict asks us to pray for the Church in China during the next few days

Next Tuesday, 24 May, is the day upon which the Church venerates the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title "Our Lady Help of Christians." It is also the Day of Prayer for the Church in China, where Our Lady Help of Christians is venerated at the Marian Shrine of She-Shan.

This Day of Prayer for the Church in China, when all Christians throughout the world are specifically asked to remember the Christians of that land, was established by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007 with the publication of his Letter to Chinese Catholics. The first of such days dedicated to praying for the Chinese Church was observed on 24 May 2008.

The Pope most recently mentioned the importance of the Day of Prayer for the Church in China during last Wednesday's general audience. At that audience, Pope Benedict XVI also called on all Catholics to pray for the Chinese and their Church during these days that precede the Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians. The Holy Father added that on 24 May, "... all Catholics throughout the world have a duty to pray for the Church in China: those members of the Faithful have a right to our prayers, they need our prayers." He went on to say: “By our prayers we can obtain for the Church in China that it remain one, holy and Catholic, faithful and steadfast in doctrine and in ecclesial discipline.”

In his original 2007 letter to the Catholics of China, Pope Benedict XVI noted that 24 May is the day on which the Church commemorates Our Lady Help of Christians, he therefore urged believers to ask her intercession for the persecuted followers of Christ who live in the People's Republic. In China, the Virgin Mary is venerated under this title at the Shrine of She-Shan, in Shanghai. For this reason, then, the Pope placed this day under the patronage of Our Lady of She-Shan.

Here is a small segment from the Holy Father's 2007 Letter to the Chinese Church, in which he explains his intentions and desire for a universal Day of Prayer on 24 May:
"This day is dedicated to the liturgical memorial of Our Lady, Help of Christians, who is venerated with great devotion at the Marian Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai. I would like that date to be kept by you as a day of prayer for the Church in China. I encourage you to celebrate it by renewing your communion of faith in Jesus our Lord and of faithfulness to the Pope, and by praying that the unity among you may become ever deeper and more visible . . . On that same day, the Catholics of the whole world – in particular those who are of Chinese origin – will demonstrate their fraternal solidarity and solicitude for you, asking the Lord of history for the gift of perseverance in witness, in the certainty that your sufferings past and present for the Holy Name of Jesus and your intrepid loyalty to his Vicar on earth will be rewarded, even if at times everything can seem a failure"
Our Lady Help of Christians, pray for us
Our Lady of She-Shan, pray for your children in China

Dylan Parry (A Reluctant Sinner)

Thursday 19 May 2011

Witnessing via the Chip Shop

Photo added by Laurence...couldn't resist!
So, penance on Fridays now? Whatever next, midweek Holy days of Obligation perhaps?

I certainly hope so.

As Christians, we are called to be witnesses to Christ. This doesn't mean finding a soapbox and standing on it with a megaphone preaching hell-fire and damnation to anyone who can't walk away quickly enough. Now there are some people called to be evangelists (as distinct and separate to evangelism which all of us are called to engage in) but even they tend not to fit that cliché these days. The one thing we should all have in common is a life of witness. What do I mean by that? Well lets explore that through scripture:

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead (James 2:14-17 ESV)


For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead (James 2:26 ESV)

James is the natural place to turn to when talking about lifestyle. The above passage is essentially a reminder of how to live a righteous life. James differentiates between an intellectual acceptance of the Gospel and an active living faith in it and in Jesus Christ. If you profess to have faith but are not living a lifestyle in accordance with that then your faith is dead (The RSV 2nd Ed translates the dead in 17 as 'barren' but in 26 as “dead”). So what James is saying is that we should be living out the Gospel in our daily lives, consistently and faithfully.

Not exactly news for anyone I know but perhaps more of a challenge than we think sometimes. Its easy to fall into habit and complacency (see the letters to the churches of Laodicea and Sardis in Revelation) but there is a good reason why we shouldn't:

So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33 ESV)

So what does this have to do with going to the fish shop on a Friday? Well its about identity and witness via lifestyle:

For you are a people holy to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth (Deuteronomy 14:2)

In the old testament, under the Law, the Hebrew people were the chosen of God. They were to be a people 'set apart' for him (holy) and as such there were some instructions on how they were to live their lives to retain that distinctness that indicated they were God's people. The list included dietary restrictions, clothing and many others including not marrying outside the Jewish people. The Jews, therefore, were called to live a life of witness to the rest of the world that they were the chosen of God.

So how does this apply to us? Well we have been grafted into that vine. The salvation offered to the Jews also extends to us:

So Peter opened his mouth and said: "Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. (Acts 10:34-35 ESV)


While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. (Acts 10:44-45 ESV)

So that it, we're in. To put this in context, especially of what that last line means to us:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8 ESV)

So what is my point? Well after all that scripture what I'm trying to say is that we have a responsibility. Not just as the church as a whole but as individuals. We have been grafted onto the true vine. We have been accepted into God's chosen people and we have been given the instructions to share the good news that allowed us to become acceptable to God once again. We have seen that, having received this message, we cannot just sit back and not do anything. We have seen that our faith should compel us to action (which may be prayer, fasting, active evangelism or simply living the best life we can in line with that message) and that if it doesn't we may need to look at where we are standing with the Lord. We have also seen that before the new covenant the chosen people lived in such a manner that they were 'set apart' and distinct to the pagans.

This is what we need to be. Not aloof but simply distinct. By our words & actions we should be identifiable as Christians. Our very lifestyle should be our act of witness to the Lord's message which has been given to us. The evangelism we are called to partake in should come naturally when people who see our lifestyle enquire about it, people who see the fruits of the spirit in us and know that they want the same in their lives.

So anything that gives us a chance to witness by our lifestyle I am all for. Even if it means forcing myself to eat fish and chips on Friday. 

Its a hard life...

Posted by Cant Oves of  http://caveevangelista.wordpress.com/

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