Well, we are back in Ireland after a very fruitful time in the US. Our next series of Forgotten Heritage: Europe and Her Saints, is going into post-production. Our producer, Brian Martin, will supervise the editing. I am not sure when the completed series will finally air on EWTN, it could be later this year in the Autumn, or later again, in the Spring: we shall see.
Since getting back, parish duties and other things have kept me busy, so I did not get time to blog. The jet lag is still hanging around, and so, as I am wide awake at this point in time (2.30 am), rather than face lying in bed, I am saying a few prayers and writing this post. St Josemaria Escriva, it is said, slept little towards the end of his life, so he put the night hours to good use, so I am in good company.
As I scan the Internet to catch up on news I sense things have changed a great deal in the last couple of weeks. For one thing, in Ireland, the government is on the run with regard to the closure of the Irish embassy to the Holy See. As Labour TD's (members of parliament) stand square behind the decision like good socialists, there is war in the ranks of Fine Gael as the backbenchers heap their displeasure on the Taoiseach and his socialist buddy in Foreign Affairs. May they continue to do so and may the pressure force a u-turn. One Fine Gael back bencher, so incensed at the Taoiseach, even took out his rosary beads in defiance: good on you, sir, wield that spiritual weapon with all your might! Meanwhile, a former ambassador to the United States has come out and criticised the decision to close the embassy.
I also see things are getting bad in the US with regard to President Obama's HHS mandate. As you all know by now, the White House offered a "compromise" which in reality was not one at all and offered no progress on the issue. Then an alarming statement emerged from the Obama administration: the matter is closed - we will offer no more, the Catholics are just going to have to accept it and shut up (welcome to the Gulag!). As Sr Carol Keehan and Fr John Jenkins returned to worshipping at the Obama shrine, saved from their misery by the "compromise", the National Catholic Reporter has come out and attacked the Bishops for their stance.
This is disgraceful. For years the NCR has operated under the title Catholic, after this I think it is time for them to conform to canon law and desist from using the title Catholic which can only be used for those organisations and institutions that conform to Catholic faith, morals and practice. The NCR clearly does not subscribe to any of these and should now do the honest thing and rename itself. And perhaps John Allen should move - he is too clear, honest and fair a journalist to be numbered among those who consistently attack, undermine and misrepresent the Catholic faith.
We must pray for the bishops of the US: they are right in taking the stance they have taken - they are defending the Catholic faith as Christ has given it to us and refusing to change it in order to satisfy the anti-life agenda of the Obama administration and the permissiveness of guilty Catholics who want the Church to confirm their infidelity by embracing it herself. Sadly, I hear, many Catholics in the US (and elsewhere) support Obama's tyrannical move, and it is likely they will vote for him in the next election. Well, we leave them to the judgement of God and pray for their conversion.
However, this is a time, dear friends in the US, to embrace the virtue of fortitude. As my moral theology professor and dear friend, Fr Vincent Twomey taught us: this is the virtue we must practice even when all seems lost. We must still act, resist and remain true even if we fall in the battle. Twinned with hope, with this virtue, our hearts see beyond the battle, beyond the war, to the victory that has already been won, and it is in the light of that victory, that Catholics and believers of every faith in the US must stand up to Obama. Keep telling him: NO, NO, NO! We will not submit: we will not violate our consciences.
If necessary, it may be time for civil disobedience and yes, even for prison. Our good friend, Fr Benedict Groeschel, renowned, respected and holy, has spent time in prison for his witness to the right to life: many more may face a similar fate in the months to come: embrace it. Think of St Peter and St Paul in their chains and remember you are in noble company.
The greatest irony of all is that Obama is contravening the US Constitution and no one in Congress seems prepared to challenge him. Nixon and Clinton were impeached for minor offences in comparison - tapping phones (Democrats' phones, Father, that is a mortal sin!!), or immoral behaviour. Obama is breaching the very Constitution he swore to uphold: he should be impeached and thrown out of office. Why is no one willing to do this? It is most interesting: if you ever go to Washington, near the Capitol building is the Newseum - a museum dedicated to news, and on the facade of the building, which the US President passes every time he goes to the Capitol building, are the words of the First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of religion. Seems Obama may need to write this out a few hundred times in his copybook.
Some good news. I have not blogged on the Ordinariates for a while. But, as you know, the US Ordinariate is up and running, and the Australian is about to begin. The US Ordinariate already has a church, meanwhile, Mgr Newton and the members of the English Ordinariate are still waiting to be given a church and headquarters: why the long wait? Some have suggested that the English bishops are dragging their heels because they want to kill the Ordinariate, despite being "encouraged" by Pope Benedict in person when he visited the UK. I hope that is not their strategy. This development is clearly the work of God, and if bishops are standing in the way of that work, they had better watch out: it is not wise to try and stop God when he has his heart set on a project.
Okay, this is getting negative again: change subject (still wide awake!!).
I had a wonderful encounter this weekend: I interviewed Fr Paul Francis Spencer, CP, for EWTN's series Catholic Lives. Fr Paul Francis flew over to Dublin from Edinburgh for the interview. He is the author of the definitive biography of St Charles of Mount Argus, the Irish Padre Pio, To Heal The Broken Hearted. It was a most wonderful encounter. Apart from his deep knowledge and understanding of St Charles, and his profound love of the Saint, Fr Paul Francis is holy man himself and I was deeply touched by my meeting him. I was thrilled to be asked to interview him: I had read his book many times and love it (well worth getting, see here for details), so I was full of questions and keen to hear more about St Charles. Fr Paul Francis has also written books about his founder, St Paul of the Cross, and is the Vice-Postulator for the Cause of the Servant of God, Sister Elizabeth Prout.
Sad news: Whitney Houston died after both a glittering and difficult life. She faced many of the struggles musicians and actors face all the time. Please spare a thought for her and for her family in this tragic time. It is tragedies like these which remind us why the Fraternity of St Genesius exists. If you have been touched and saddened by her death, then make a resolution to pray for the many others who find themselves in similiar situations, and then join our Fraternity as a means of assisting them spiritually.
I am also saddened by the death of David Kelly - one of Ireland's most distinguished and wonderful actors. He was famous for his role as the cowboy builder O'Reilly in Fawlty Towers, in scenes which are pure classic. He was a star of many movies and television programmes most recently the grandfather in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and as a wiley villager in Waking Ned, which is another comedy classic.
David was a gentleman, and a man of faith. I remember meeting him once in Gatwick airport: we got talking about St Genesius and I gave him some prayer cards and leaflets. He was thrilled to hear about the Fraternity and encouraged us in our work, telling us that it was important to have people praying for those in the arts. He knew all about St Genesius and prayed to him. May St Genesius now take him to the Lord.
Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him.
May he rest in peace. Amen.
And to entertain you: that wonderful scene from Fawlty Towers: "Lick a paint...lick a paint". And after that.....bed!