Thursday 30 August 2012

Mother Angelica Live Classics - 1994-09-14 - March for Life - Mother Ang...

In Memoriam of March for Life foundress Nellie Gray [1924-2012] RIP


Compromising and deal-making to save a single unborn life while we leave behind those whom those with whom we deal refuse to negotiate?

Right or Wrong?
Harte's 'Solidaritism' vs Finnis's "Make the deal! save whoever we can!" ?
45yrs of failure under the Finnis strategy seems to indicate we are reaping what we sow.

Here's Hanink on the issues, and I have little reticence in promoting his arguments that Colin Harte is right!

No Compromise: No Exceptions.

Tuesday 14 August 2012

Another patron for the Guild?

                                                                          Not so dissimilar to Bl Titus Brandsma

Today is the feastday of one of my favourite saints, St Maximilian Kolbe, martyr of Auschwitz, a saint of our time.

St Maximilian's heroic act of self sacrifice is well known to all. When a Jewish prisoner was singled out for punishment by death, Fr Kolbe stepped forward and offered to take his place.

The Nazi guards had no concept of the great favour they were granting the Catholic Faith when they accepted his offer.

Fr Kolbe, along with 9 other prisoners was locked in a cell and left to waste away; no food or water was permitted.
Each day he celebrated Holy Mass and led the prisoners in singing hymns.

Each day, as the men died, one by one, the singing became fainter and fainter until, at last, only Fr Kolbe's voice could be heard.

Impatient to clear the cell the guards gave Fr Kolbe a lethal injection of carbolic acid and he won his martyr's crown.

But, in his earlier life as a priest, Fr Kolbe had worked as a journalist editing the Polish monthly,  Rycerz Niepokalanej (The Knight of the Immaculata). 
In 1930 he  travelled to Japan where he founded a monastery at Nagasaki and lived for six years.

And when war started, on his return to Poland, he sheltered and organised an escape route for over 2,000 Jews.

After his martyrdom the Nazis cremated his remains on 15th August 1941, Feast of The Assumption of Our Lady.

To me, St Maximilian is very much in the same mould as Blessed Titus Brandsma, a journalist, one plagued with ill health, having a great devotion to Our Lady and, of course, winning the martyr's crown.

He might make a very appropriate additional patron for the Guild. Especially as he holds the following patronages:-

Against drug addictions, drug addicts, for families, imprisoned people, journalists, political prisoners, prisoners , pro-life movement - and could we add bloggers (or, rather, Catholics who blog?)

The Immaculate Prayer composed by St Maximilian

O Immaculata, Queen of Heaven and earth, refuge of sinners and our most loving Mother, God has willed to entrust the entire order of mercy to you. I, (name), a repentant sinner, cast myself at your feet, humbly imploring you to take me with all that I am and have, wholly to yourself as your possession and property. Please make of me, of all my powers of soul and body, of my whole life, death and eternity, whatever most pleases you.
If it pleases you, use all that I am and have without reserve, wholly to accomplish what was said of you: "She will crush your head," and "You alone have destroyed all heresies in the whole world." Let me be a fit instrument in your immaculate and merciful hands for introducing and increasing your glory to the maximum in all the many strayed and indifferent souls, and thus help extend as far as possible the blessed kingdom of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. For wherever you enter you obtain the grace of conversion and growth in holiness, since it is through your hands that all graces come to us from the most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
V. Allow me to praise you, O Sacred Virgin
R. Give me strength against your enemies

Posted by Richard Collins - Linen on the Hedgerow

Friday 10 August 2012

A Catholic mother on blogs and blogging

The following statement was sent to me this week and I have the author's (Elaine) permission to post it here.
It concerns an issue that has given me considerable food for thought; it poses, among many other things, the whom are we speaking  when we blog?

Here it is, and many thanks Elaine for writing it:

Some thoughts on reading the Catholic blogs from a non-blogger

After reading the advert for the meeting of the Guild of St.Titus, I thought it may be interesting to consider the blogging world from the perspective of a reader.
 Clearly, these reflections should be regarded as idiosyncratic; a personal experience which is not necessarily applicable to a wider audience. 

With that in mind, I offer the following thoughts:

How did I come to read the blogs?
Simple, Richard Collins asked me to join the followers on his blog. Yet, this simplicity reveals an important point as it was a personal relationship that facilitated a step on the journey. It is worth considering how bloggers will capture that ‘personal touch’ in a more virtual environment.

How will the people in the parishes come to know the blogs?

Why do I read the blogs?
There are lots of different reasons why I read the blogs depending on what is happening in the Catholic world and in my world.
 If I am honest, sometimes it is just idle curiosity and I take a ‘pick and mix’ approach to see what is interesting. 
However, often it is a deliberate choice and then the reasons include:

·      Catechesis – especially from the priests ( Father Tim, Father Ray Blake, Father Z)
·      Encouragement – especially from Papa Stronsay
·      Following news – Rorate and others
·      A sense of community – this is important as we do not participate in parish life and travel to a different church each week for the EF Mass (follow Linen for this)
·      Entertainment
·      Challenge

Are there risks in reading the blogs?
Yes. The blogs can communicate powerful rhetoric and can be very convincing. 
Bloggers have a significant responsibility and duty to remain within the boundaries of the faith and not to lead readers astray. 
This applies not only to their posts but to the level of ‘debate’ allowed on the comments. 
It is difficult because debate is often healthy and sorts the wheat from the chaff and it is a tricky area to manage.

Conversely, I have a duty as a reader to consider things with a critical eye and not to blindly believe without thinking for myself.

Another risk is that the relationships are mostly virtual and readers can develop a false sense of knowing the contributors. 
This can happen when readers see the same name in the comments – for example, I could begin to think that I ‘know’ the Olde Jarra Scribe or Shadowlands but I have no idea who they are in real life. 
That is why it is essential that the Guild continues to build on the reality of personal relationships and the bloggers really get to know each other; long may your Chesterton hours continue.
My final risk is that the reading the blogs can be a time consuming distraction from daily duties!

What I do not like about the blogs
·         blogs that have adverts - apart from Mystic Monk coffee!
·         comment pages that become very critical
·         comment pages where two contributors are locked in battle and everyone else is an onlooker ( introspective and boring)
·         a focus on very local events without wider catechesis
·         lots and lots of recommendations in the ‘daily reads’ (too daunting)

Looking forward
The blogs have to become more widely known and read; especially those written by the priests in order to strengthen catechesis. How might this happen?
Equally, for those written by the laity there is an urgent need to think of yourselves as the labourers. You must work hard to ensure that the harvest is plentiful!

I hope your meeting is blessed and fruitful,
Elaine (August 2012)

Richard Collins - Linen on the Hedgerow

Saturday 4 August 2012

A Response to Ttony

What must we do to assist the New Evangelisation?
First understand what one is called to say before opening one's mouth!

I luckily managed to retrieve a copy of the CEG's training outlines [diamond dust - £508 on amazon!] and it's exhaustingly intensive and thorough - I'd guess there's more concrete guidance,doctrine and wisdom on a single page than in the entire Catholic Voices book; and more coherent catechesis in a paragraph than in seven years of contemporary primary school religious education...

Even the CEG junior training for adolescents is more comprehensive than any seminary formation - I doubt there are many Bishops around today who could deal with the barrage of postulates, conundrums, hypotheticals, cross-examinations, quandaries and subtleties a mere child within the Guild was expected to know, understand, express, interpret for a particular audience, be able to counter any argument involved in their position and finally be able to answer the near infinity of possible questions on it!

The CEG engaged in front-line guerrilla tactics with strategies which would knock Sun Tzu's socks off and a wisdom & experience only formulated by those who had worked gruellingly at the coalface...those Davids who had stood with knees trembling against Goliaths...

But the crucial point of their work was their intense, profound, comprehensive understanding of any issue before they opened their mouths - this was no ego-trip or vanity exercise, nor was it an opportunity to express one's personality and personal opinions in a Variety Act, nor was one ever permitted to 'wing-it' or 'fake it to make it'...the training is almost military.

You knew your stuff - you were tested, scrutinised, assessed & adjudicated on your knowledge, your understanding, your pedagogical style and your argot-empathic delivery.

A CEG member NEVER stated what the Church taught without being able to explain WHY.

In other words it's apologetics - apologetics - apologetics...not 'positive reframing in thought triangles' with soundbites on an issue you don't have a clue about & instead replace Church teaching with personalist, pragmatic, 'common-sense', middle-of-the-road, trite, patronising, posturing inanities which offends virtually everyone - while attempting to back up one's argument with an 'informed source' citation/quotation taken out-of-context!

But what's more - being a Guild member was seen as a honour and a sacrifice, a burden for which one was ill-equipped and never more than fractionally competent...there was always humility in the speaker - but there was unswerving defiant pride & devotion to the Truth about which one spoke and prayers that the Holy Spirit and 2,000yrs of the Great & the Good would speak through them as an unworthy medium.

Today there seems to be a volte-face: The smug, self-assured 'confident presence' pride is within the media commentator - the insecurity and uncertainty is in the [humiliating] weaker-than-water 'defence-no-defence' of the Faith & Holy Mother Church.

What should we be doing?
Studying, praying and teaching/training each other before we dare to presume that we could face our neighbour.

You don't give a child a carving knife or a madman an don't send someone to lecture on Romeo & Juliet just because they've seen the local rep's version of West Side Story.

And no - before anyone accuses me of intellectual snobbery - I'm not saying anyone should have a string of degrees in philosophy & theology..they are entirely different studies to apologetics and catechetics - simple easily understood eternal truths which are built upon the transcended complexity of two millennia of intellectual giants...

It's a 'modern day apologist' who would waffle on with sentimentalist,mystagogic, obscurantist, sesquipedalian meaningless guff ad nauseam when asked 'what is the meaning of Life?"

It's the child who understood their catechism who would be able to state those earth-trembling words which resound through the cosmos and reach into the depths of our souls:
"God made me to Know Him,to Love Him & to Serve Him in this World; and to be Happy forever with Him in the next"

The CEG always sought to find that which Oliver Wendell Holmes called "The Simplicity beyond Complexity"...

Our modern soundbite brigade prefer the simplicity for simpletons...sensitively relayed in an inoffensive way which offends nobody except God, The Churches Militant, Penitent & Triumphant and anyone with a heart, a conscience or a brain-cell...

Peter Kreeft has reminded us that this is a war - and at present we are losing it because we're fighting the wrong battles in the wrong way against the wrong people for the wrong reasons to the wrong ends...

He states you cannot win a war :
1] If you blissfully sew peace banners on a battlefield
2] If you do not know whom you are fighting
3] If you do not know what kind of war you are fighting
4] If you do not know the basic rules of battle
5] If you do not know your enemy's battle plan
6] If you send your troops to the wrong battlefield
7] If you use the wrong weapons
8] If you do not know how to get the right weapons
& 9] If you are not confident of your inevitable victory.

...the enemy is the Devil & Sin
...our neighbour is not the enemy - our neighbour is a wounded patient whom we are commanded to love and that commandment demands we fight for them and their souls to our last breath for the sake of our souls...

...this isn't a political war or a psychological, sociological, economical or cultural's a spiritual one...

...and until we're ready to acknowledge that fact and fight that right battle we'd better keep our swords sheathed and our mouths shut.

It's self-indulgent vanity and counterproductive folly to do anything if one is not able to speak on the Faith while ardently believing it, loving it and hoping in it....

So what should we do?
Appeal to an Apostle to reform the Catholic Evidence Guild - undergo their intensive, rigorous, scrupulous training...
..then we can dare to open our mouths.

Evangelisation In England And Wales - Some Questions

A short conversation I had with Ben Trovato and JH Steelson on Twitter led to my rash promise to think about how I might articulate a growing conviction that there is a huge gap which Catholics in England and Wales are not filling, and that is using the public square for evangelisation.  The conviction arose when I read something I have not looked at for many years: the Handbook of the Catholic Evidence Guild, published in 1922; and realised that then as now, there weren’t enough priests to take the Gospel everywhere that it needed to be taken, and that properly formed lay people were more than capable of bringing non-Catholics to the point where they would seek instruction from a priest. 

I am talking about a specific mission:  ordinary Catholics going out among their ordinary non-Catholic fellow citizens and proclaiming God’s Truth. I’m not talking about those who engage in the media representing the Church’s position on issues of the day; I am not addressing the continuing formation of Catholics from cradle to grave; I am not talking about social activism, from SVP-type provision of the necessities of life to those in need at one end, to the silent witness outside abortariums at the other.  All of these are special and necessary missions, but do not address the issue of converting our fellow citizens.

This mission was described by an early leader of the Catholic Evidence, who also drew on a quotation from Blessed John Henry Newman, as follows:

“The work done by the Guild is based upon a series of discoveries; that the work is no degradation for the educated Catholic but a great honour and privilege, as well as a grace from God; that, cæteris paribus, the mere fact of being a Catholic gives an enormous intellectual advantage over other religionists, and that this is recognised by the crowd; that the capacity of the average Catholic for the exposition of his religion is far greater than has hitherto been supposed, when he is care­fully prepared along certain lines, and well supported and led; that the crowds will take our best and be grateful for it and ask for more; that, as Catholics are compelled to give an account of the faith that is in them, it is better to take the initiative than to remain permanently on the defensive; these are some few of the discoveries already made in connection with the work, and it is clear that many others have yet to be made, for the work is still young, is highly experimental throughout and is pushing ahead rapidly.

The question then is, will the Catholic laity rise to the height of their great opportunity?

‘There is a time for silence and a time to speak; the time for speaking has come. What I desiderate in Catholics is the gift of bringing out what their religion is; it is one of those ‘better gifts’ of which the apostle bids you be 'zealous’. You must not hide your talent in a napkin, or your light under a bushel. I want a laity not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold, and what they do not, who know their creed so well, that they can give an account of it, who know so much of history that they can defend it. I want an intelligent, well instructed laity. I am not denying you are such already, but I mean to be severe and, as some would say, exorbitant in my demands. I wish you to enlarge your knowledge, to cultivate your reason, to get an insight into the relation of truth to truth, to learn to view things as they are, to understand how faith and reason stand to each other, what are the bases and truths of Catholicism and where lie the main inconsistencies and absurdities of the Protestant theory … You ought to be able to bring out what you mean, as well as to feel and mean it; to expose to the comprehension of others the fictions and fallacies of your opponents and to explain the charges brought against the Church to the satisfaction, not indeed of bigots, but of men of sense of whatever opinion ... He who can realise the law of moral conflicts, and the incoherence of falsehood, and the issue of perplexities, and the end of all things, and the presence of the judge, becomes, from the very necessity of the case, philosophical, long suffering, and magnanimous.’

My contention is that in the twenty-first century this is still a mission for lay people: to persuade other lay people that it is time they went to a priest for instruction; that the Internet, rather than the street corner, is the place this should take place; that the work should be as organised and prepared as was that of the Catholic Evidence Guild; and that while there are lay people out there who could organise this work and prepare other lay people to carry it out, there are no structures in place to make this happen and that in consequence, many people in ignorance are being left in ignorance, and many who should be carrying out this work are not doing so.

What was the thinking behind the Guild?

“The Guild was founded at a meeting held on the 24th April, 1918, in the Westminster Cathedral Hall. For some months the question of combined action to combat the public advocacy of unbelief had been ventilated by a number of active minds. As an example of the lines upon which the discussion was conducted the following passages may be taken from an article entitled "Is Park preaching Practical?" by Mgr (then Father) Coote in the Westminster Cathedral Chronicle for April 1918 :­

‘Good Catholics are so wrapt up in their religion that they seem to be oblivious of the fact that those who profess a different form of Christianity are not equally engrossed with it The religion of these consists for the most part in no definite dogmatic teaching - it is little more than a Sunday overall of Christian respectability. But that, again, is speaking of a comparative few, for there are hundreds of thousands to whom Religion means absolutely nothing, albeit there is deep down within them that innate consciousness of a Supreme Being. No doubt it is this subconscious need of religion that renders them so susceptible to giving a ready ear to any good discussion of religious matters. For the fact remains that vast numbers in the parks, and on the commons demonstrate at least their interest in such discussions.

The park is the free platform for all forms of belief as well as for undisguised disbelief. So free indeed, that the law permits Christ's Sacred Name to be mentioned in ridicule and mockery, to be put in odious comparison, or His earthly life to be counter­balanced against mortal living men.

What I feel to be the need of the times therefore is a well ­organised Catholic Christian Evidence Society, Guild, or Circle, for men and women, that will state and explain, not exactly and solely Catholic practice and discipline, but the principles of Christianity as set forth in Catholic Theology, Philosophy and Ethics, ready to go forth with a stream of trained speakers week after week, not out for petty controversy but to unfold the wealth of Catholic Christian principles in their hearts and on their lips.’

Would anybody disagree that there is equal need today?

There was a singular difference between then and now: in 1920 Bishops saw the conversion of non-Catholics as one of their primary missions, and welcomed the support of the laity in this apostolate.  As Cardinal Bourne said when conferring canonical status on the Guild:

 People may ask you - some have asked the question already: ­By what authority do you lay-folk stand up on the public plat­form to expound the truths of the Catholic faith, who sent you? By whose authority do you speak? What is your mission? What is your commission? How, in other words, do you justify your existence as members of the Catholic Evidence Guild? Well, there is only one form in which you can justify your existence canonically, and that is in the position of Catechists.  That is the method which has been used all over the world in the mis­sionary countries where the Bishops and priests have found themselves quite unable to deal with the work of gathering into the Church those who are not members of it, and so, universally, in purely missionary countries they take to themselves a certain number of men and women who have been instructed for that purpose, who, in virtue of a commission given to them by the Bishop, then go forth to instruct And we are applying m our modern conditions the old, old method of the Church The mem­bers of this Guild must never forget that their position is that of lay auxiliaries called in by the Bishop of the diocese to help him to preach the Gospel to those who without their help would be beyond the reach of his teaching. Thus the position to which the members of the Catholic Evidence Guild are called is a very noble and a very apostolic one. Every Bishop has an immense number of people in his diocese who are members of his flock, but who are not Catholics. He is bound by his pastoral charge to do what he can in order to preach the Gospel to them and to save their souls. He calls to his aid, therefore, a number of the laity, that they may aid him in this part of the work committed to his charge, which he is unable to do in any other way.

And this leads me to the Catholic Evidence Guild as existing in this diocese. In order to make the position clear, as far as the work lies in the diocese of Westminster, you will be known as the Westminster Diocesan Catechists. that is the sub-title which will justify your existence. It is a work -which must be carried on in absolute subordination to the Bishop of each diocese. You speak in virtue of his commission, and in each diocese this commission must be given solely by the Bishop of that diocese.

All of this raises several questions which I believe warrant further discussion, always assuming that, like me, you see a need, and a lack of response to that need.

Where on the internet is the public space into which we can push ourselves to proclaim the teachings of Christ’s Church to those who have not heard it elsewhere?

How does who gather together a cadre of people able to train a greater number of people to go out into that space to evangelise those who are there?

How do we persuade a Bishop (who is the Bishop of Cyberspace?) not just to issue a nihil obstat, but to support, encourage and sponsor such a mission?

We are enjoined to make disciples of all nations.  What should we do if nobody else is doing it here?
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