Saturday, October 27, 2012

Catching Up

A quick post to update the blog.  I have not fallen off the face of the earth!  It has been a hectic week.  I was in Rome for a few days last week, there for the canonisations, and then back in the parish kept busy between parish duties and attending an exorcist/deliverance conference.  There was also the Fraternity celebrations for Blessed John Paul II's feast day. So all that left me with little time to blog. 

The canonisations grabbed the headlines what with the canonisation of St Kateri, the first Native American Saint.  I developed a love for her when serving as a seminarian in New York over a few summers.  I was determined to get to her canonisation whenever it happened.  When I was a child I was fascinated by the stories of the North American Martyrs and Kateri and the sacrifices they made to live their faith.  Strange, I have not yet visited their shrines despite my many visits to the US - I must make it a priority next time I'm over. 

Of all the North American martyrs, St Noel Chabanel is my favourite - his life in America was a continuous martyrdom, finding it so difficult to cope with the climate, the food, the languages and some of the people: yet he made a vow to remain for Christ's sake loving those the Lord had given into his care; and he did!  He eventually laid down his life for them.    He teaches us all the lesson of endurance and points us to Christ in whom we find refuge and strength.

The canonisation was a great celebration.  Some of the Catholic media homed in on the fanon, but to be honest there was lots more to interest me.  The 200,000 Filipinos (or at least that is the figure I was given) were a great addition to the celebrations.  I was standing in the middle of them and though I was there for Kateri, I soon found myself being there for St Pedro too, and I was joining in their elation as their second Saint was proclaimed.  I was adopted by a group from Cebu, a priest, his brother (also a priest), their sister and their friends.  We queued for hours together and then stood with each other for the Mass: we had a great time and they were wonderful.  They asked me if I was going to Cebu for the next Eucharistic Congress, I said I hoped to.  I think they are planning a really great congress - they expect millions to come.  I had better start saving!  If there is one thing that boosts your faith - it is the faith of the Filipino people, God bless them!

Indeed since coming back from Rome I have been reading up on St Pedro Calungsod - I am doing a novena to him for a special intention.  He was a most remarkable young man, laying down his life for his faith at the age of seventeen.  It is not known where he is from exactly, somewhere in the present diocese of Cebu.  He was brought up in the faith, and was so dedicated to the Lord that he wanted to serve as a catechist.  He trained as a Jesuit and then accompanied Blessed Fr Diego de San Vitores to the Mariana Islands where they had a very successful ministry.

In 1672 on the island of Guam as they were ministering, opposition emerged as pagan leaders alleged that the baptismal waters were poisoned.  On the 2nd April of that year, after baptising a baby at the request of its Christian mother, the child's father took the priest and Pedro down to a beach and attacked them with spears.  Pedro, who could have escaped and saved himself, stood by Fr Diego and defended him.  He dodged a number of spears, but was then gored by one and finished off with a blow to the head.  Fr Diego was then killed.  Their bodies were stripped, weighed down with stones and thrown into the ocean.

St Pedro is revered by the Filipino people as a great example for Christian youth, and what a marvellous example he is for our young people in these years of the New Evangelisation.  He now belongs to the whole Church, and it might be a good idea to promote devotion to him in this Year of Faith.  He also teaches us love for the priesthood.  Even by Catholics today, many priests suffer calumny and opposition for preaching the truth of the Catholic faith: St Pedro stood by his priest and defended him against attack even at the cost of his life.  May he watch over our priests, inspire them to preach the truth and help them as even members of their own flock seek to silence and harass them.

That's it for now.   I have a Holy Hour to do - the Lord is waiting and I am in need of it, and I have the Vigil Mass after that.  Oh yes, the clocks go back tonight - an extra hour in bed in the morning - I need it!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Feast Day Mass of Blessed John Paul II

The Fraternity will celebrate the feast of Blessed John Paul II, in St Mary's Church, Drogheda, Co. Louth, on Monday 22nd October at 7.30pm.

All are welcome to join the Fraternity for this celebration.  There will be an opportunity for all present to venerate and be blessed by the newly received First Class relic of Blessed John Paul.

Pass the word on to friends.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

More Than A Sane Woman

Too often religious believers, and in particular the orthodox, are considered mad by their betters.  To accept the teaching of Christ as given, and to love the Church, are often seen as proof that there is something wrong or infantile about us.  Today's feast offers us a corrective to this presumption.

On one of my visits to Paray-le-Monial, I was speaking with one of the Visitation Sisters - we were discussing St Margaret Mary, whose feast it is today.  I asked if her body was incorrupt - it had been said in some quarters that it was, yet the "body" which lies in the chasse in the Visitation Chapel, is a wax model.

Most of her body, I was told decayed naturally: however some parts were found incorrupt.  "Which parts?" I asked.  "Well, for one her brain is incorrupt", the sister explained.  When I asked her why this organ was left intact the sister suggested that the Lord preserved it so it could be seen that Margaret Mary was not mad - her visions were authentic and not the effects of a physical defect.

It is an interesting theory, and examination of the visionary's brain did prove that it was the brain of a normal, healthy woman - so she was sane.  That is an interesting place to start.  But Margaret Mary was more than just a sane woman, she was a lover.  Indeed, as a symbol of this, her heart is also incorrupt.

Being in love with Christ and his Church explains why so many religious believers are so devoted.  Love can be a difficult to understand, and submitting to this love can seem like madness to those who approach religion and truth from a different direction.

Margaret Mary teaches us that, at the end of the day, we are called to love - to fall in love with God who loved us first.  That love of God is symbolised by the human Heart of Jesus Christ, pierced for us and on fire with love for us.   What we learn about the faith is meant to deepen our love - so this Year of Faith is one in which we lay firmer foundations for our love affair with God.  How we live and act is to be a response in love to God's love for us, and an essential element in this is obedience - obedience to God's will, his teaching and the path he has laid out for us.

So, why are the orthodox so dogged in their adherence to the teachings of the Church?  Well, I think love has a lot to do with it.

In other news, I have been asked by people from pro-life groups to post this video which challenges the pro-abortion lobby's argument that abortion is required to save the life of a mother.  Glad to oblige. 

Just to keep you updated: there will be protest in Belfast on Thursday organised by Precious Life, from 10am to 4pm, on Great Victoria Street.  For more information contact:, or 048 902 78484 (from the Republic)/ 028 902 78484 (from the UK).

Monday, October 15, 2012


Thanks to all those who have been sending messages of support over the last day or so, they are all much appreciated.  As many orthodox priests have found, including Fr Chandler in the UK, when you tackle the occult and New Age, its practitioners are ready to attack.  I see just this afternoon some of those who left the poisonous comments were back again - it seems they are organised.  If ever we needed an argument to show how dangerous yoga is it is the venomous attack of these practitioners which we have seen over the past couple of days here.  One even tried to use the combox to promote a local yoga group!  Anyway, we give them into the hands of St Michael and his Angels.

It is interesting that this spat should emerge as the Church begins the Year of Faith.  Many Catholics dabble in the occult and New Age out of pure ignorance, understanding little about Christ, his teachings and the incompatibility of such practices with Christian faith and spirituality.  If ever we need a new emphasis on catechesis it is now as many have been led astray. 

This is, I think for us Christians, a year in our lives to be devoted to an intense study of our faith.  While I do not agree with many of their teachings, I admire the Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses and Christian Scientists, for example, because they dedicate themselves to understanding the tenets of their belief systems - we do not have to agree with them to acknowledge their commitment and zeal.  We should be doing that ourselves, and seeing as we have the truth in Jesus Christ, we should be even more diligent in coming to understand what the Lord and his Church teaches. 

The Catholic faith is so rich and beautiful; its many spiritualities profound, nourishing and uplifting, leading us to the True God and helping us advance towards holiness on the path of perfection, as St Teresa of Avila puts it.   In this year we should take the opportunity to explore it and see which spirituality is to be ours.  Today, the feast of St Teresa of Avila, we can look to Carmelite spirituality, but there are others: that of St Francis, St Dominic, St Ignatius, St Paul of the Cross, the Benedictine, the Cistercian and so many others. 

These are not just religious orders, but ways of Christian life in which a Saint was inspired to live in a particular way and become an example for others.  Indeed many lay people are so taken with the teaching and spirituality of one Saint, they became spiritual sons and daughters of that Saint, perhaps even join the Third Order or Lay Association of the Saint's Order or Congregation.  There's a project for you: if not already a religious, is there a spiritual family out there for you?

One of the things I say to my parishioners and when I give talks, is that we must realise the communion that exists between us and begin to live that communion.  A spiritual family is important, especially in these times when orthodox Christians are being sidelined and persecuted by non-believers and even by the lax and lapsed within the Church.  We need the support of the faithful to withstand attack - as I see clearly in these last couple of days. The evil one works to divide, we must work to form communion: communion in love, in faith and in truth.  Let us pray for each other. 

Please note: Up until now I have allowed the anonymous option on the combox, but given the nature of the comments I have received, from now on if people want to comment, they will have to reveal who they are.  I welcome comments, as long as the usual rules of courtesy and respect are observed .  If people disagree with me, fair enough, I have rarely deleted comments on my blog: in fact I have only done it once before when the comment, not referring to me but to another person, was libelous.  Of course, as you know, there is no such thing as an anonymous comment, all can be tracked down: I have a tracker programme monitoring my blog, so I have the IP addresses of all who comment, and these can be followed up.

Happy feast day to you all!  May our Madre, St Teresa of Jesus, watch over you and protect you.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Raw Nerve

It seems my post on yoga a week or so ago hit a raw nerve with some people - as expected.  Some comments were left which were deeply insinuating, some from people who claim to be parishioners, questioning whether I should have contact with children.  So far none of those claiming to be parishioners have come to me personally, but some identified themselves as practitioners of yoga.  Indeed the tone of some of the comments seems to suggest a certain spirit is at work. I deleted the comments as is my right on my blog.

Being offended by what I said will not diminish the effects of yoga and other occult/New Age practices.  It is a fact that exorcists working today, and in past, have to deal with people who have come under the influence of the evil one thanks to these practices.  Throwing personal insults at me is not going to sanitise reality.   Possession is a reality, and the suffering people endure when their lives are under the influence of the devil is real.  To deny this, and to deny yoga and other occult practices can lead people into such situations is to wear rose-tinted glasses. 

A couple of the objectors have said that they are going to report me to my bishop; well they can do so if they wish, the bishops need to know how serious this issue is and appoint more exorcists in Ireland to deal with what is a growing problem.   And to let people know: if those who have practiced yoga and other occult practices, now need help, I can put them in touch with experienced exorcists who can assist them. 

And to those who are no longer reading my blog because they did not like what I said: goodbye!

Time For Prayer

I think we are all reeling from the news that has been coming out about the late Jimmy Savile.  It seems he was more than just an eccentric man, the mounting evidence of his alleged abuse of up to sixty (the figure as of writing) is shocking and one wonders how he could have able to carry on abusing for six decades, from 1959 to 2006 when he was almost eighty.

When he died last year many of us were reminiscing on his life - his work for charity and his deserved (or so it seemed) knighthoods from the Pope and the Queen of England.   It all falls flat as the real legacy emerges.  God help those poor girls who, it seems, for decades carried the awful secret that one of Britain's most loved men was their abuser.  But as we know from the last number of years, nothing should surprise us now.

Of course there is more to this story than the vile deeds of one who was trusted - it was the silence of those who knew or at least suspected something.   After twenty years of accusation and recriminations directed against the Church, many by the BBC, now we see that it may have been the case that the organisations who assumed the moral high ground and threw stones may have been as guilty themselves.  Was it all a case of shouting loudest to cover over their own sins?   There is no pleasure to be taken in the fall of the BBC from their exalted position since it emerges on the backs of suffering children, but it reveals that the incompetence with dealing with child abuse is not a Catholic thing - it is a human thing. 

In society at large there is a great silence, one which covers over or, at the very least, refuses to acknowledge that abuse is closer than we think: that people we know may well be abusers.  According to the SAVI Report one in five people in Irish society have suffered some form of abuse, and of them 96-97% were not abused by clergy or religious.  I wonder, will the revelation of Jimmy Savile awful deeds force secular society that it is as guilty of cover up as the Church?

I see the Catholics United for the Faith, a new lay organisation set up in Ireland to defend the faith, have called on Cardinal Brady to withdraw an invitation to former president, Mary McAleese who had been asked to speak before Mass to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of St James's Church in Cooley, Co. Louth.  It would most wise to withdraw the invitation given Mrs McAleese's recent attack on the Church and her unorthodox views.  Indeed given that is it obvious she supports, and may well be promoting, the homosexual agenda, she should not be given a forum under the auspices of the Catholic Church.  It may well constitute a scandal to allow her speak. 

And here is an interesting article.  Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto has said that the time it takes to deal with annulment cases may have to be looked it; it may need to be faster.   A friend of mine works in a marriage tribunal and he and the others working with him do an excellent job.  Realising the gravity of the issue they deal with and conscious that they will have to answer to God for their work, they are meticulous, prudent and hard working.  Much of the time delay is the result of delays in gathering information and examining witnesses, and then of course the usual appeals.  The length of time varies from region to region, and while some regions are quick (some too quick?), others are very slow.  I know of one case - a straightforward non-consummation case, which took over five years to come through.  

In his matter pastoral charity would dictate that each individual process be dealt with as quickly as possible, noting that in many cases people have entered into second unions and so there is the issue of saving souls involved here.

Finally, Marie Stopes International are opening an abortion clinic in Belfast next Thursday.  The Minister for Health in Northern Ireland said that the administration there is looking into regulating the clinic.  Northern Ireland is not covered by the UK's 1967 Abortion Act, but subject to another Act passed in the 1940s which allows abortion only if the health or life of a woman is seriously in danger.  This Act requires proof of the danger to the woman's health, so it is quite restricted.  I'm sure the powers that be will get around that somehow - once the advocates of abortion get the taste of blood in their mouths they charge forward doing everything they can to get abortion on demand.

No doubt the pro-abortion brigade down here in the Republic will use this to push their case.  These are dreadful times.  No tyrant, no regime has murdered as many people as abortion has.  And yet it is all dressed up as if it was mature, good, necessary and compassionate. It is demonic, and those who promote it are working under the direct influence of the demonic putting the salvation of their souls at risk.  I remember speaking to a priest who had been at the bedside of a dying abortionist.  She never repented and had died a dreadful death.  Ultimately, he said, while he could not judge where she had gone, he felt within himself that there was a strong possibility that she may have gone to hell.   In death, there was an awful look of horror on her face. 

But God's mercy is infinite, and we must trust in him, that said we must not presume upon it either.  We must work to bring abortion to an end.  And the battle for life in Ireland has reached a critical moment.  I think there are plans to stage protests in Belfast on Thursday, if anyone has any information, please drop me a line in the combox to inform my other readers.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Silence Of The Shepherds

A number of friends contacted me yesterday to tell me that in their parishes the priests saying Mass did not mention that it was the Day for Life, nor referred to the Bishops's letter nor that it was the beginning of a month of prayer for the pro-life cause in Ireland.   Indeed, they tell me, their priests were silent on the issue.  What a disappointment, indeed what a scandal!  As the biggest battle for life is beginning in Ireland, these servants of Christ close their mouths and utter not a word! 

Why were they silent?  Was it the case that they did not know it was the Day for Life?  Are they unaware that the government is contemplating the introduction of abortion?  Do they not know that the Bishops of Ireland have produced what I think is their best Pastoral Letter in years mounting a vigorous defence of the unborn?  Not so: the priests I have been talking to got the letter a couple of weeks ago and we were given enough information to speak on the decision that is facing Ireland now.

Is it a case that this issue is not important?  Or are they afraid?  I personally think my brother priests are afraid.  They fear offending anyone, they are afraid that if they speak out against abortion they will alienate their pro-abortion parishioners and hurt those who have had abortions.  Well, silence is no excuse.  One must be sensitive, of course, to those who have had an abortion, but they must also hear from a priest that abortion is wrong.   In a homily on abortion, as in the letter from the Bishops, one must mention the help that is there for women and how they can access it.  How many church notice boards, I wonder, have a Rachel's Vineyard poster? 

As for offending those Catholics who are pro-abortion - well, they need to be told in no uncertain terms that one cannot be a true Catholic and support abortion - the two are incompatible.  They need to be called to conversion, and if they walk out of the church, let them go: they have made their choice.  Jesus did not run after those who rejected his teaching, neither should we try to pamper those who say it is good or necessary to kill the unborn.

If priests in Ireland remain silent on this issue of abortion, for whatever reason, they are contributing to the pro-abortion lobby's attempts to legalise it.  Priests must now teach the flock, they must speak out from the pulpit and make their parishioners aware of what is happening.  We have to rally behind our Bishops in the battle for life.  

The example of St John of Avila, one of our new Doctors, is badly needed now for our priests: he urged the priests of his time to convert and to proclaim the Gospel without fear; to lead their flocks on the way of holiness.  This is what we have to do in these times. 

If you are a priest who stayed silent yesterday, who did not stand up for the life of the unborn yesterday when you are asked to by the Bishops, then go to confession and add to your penance a reading of St Augustine's sermon to the shepherds, as found in your Office.  And next week, preach on the Bishops's Letter and promote the Choose Life Month.

Lay people, please pray for your priests. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Our New Doctors!

Today Pope Benedict declared St John of Avila and St Hildegard of Bingen Doctors of the Church.  The proclamation took place during the Mass for the Opening of the Synod of Bishops: the synod will look at the New Evangelisation.   It was quiet approprate that these Saints should be declared Doctors today since their lives, ministry and teachings are evangelical in nature, calling all men and women to come and recognise who Jesus Christ is, what he did for us and what he has in store for us.  

St John travelled the dusty roads of Spain preaching to a people who had fallen away from the faith, trying to inject vitality and love for Christ, while encouraging the clergy to live lives worthy of their vocation.  He would be most welcome to Ireland in these times when people are either confused having been led astray by unfaithful clergy, struggling to remain true to the Church in a hostile climate, or they have given up and embraced a godless existence.  This is the situation the Bishops and the whole Church has to face and find ways in which to proclaim the Gospel anew.  One of the challenges we have to face is the presumption of these jaded, fallen away Catholics - they think they know the faith and have rejected it or compromised it with the demands of the secular world, when in reality they know little of the riches of our faith, our heritage and the way of Christ. 

St Hildegard understood what the riches of the faith are, having lived the faith to a heroic and having seen those riches in the many visions she received.  Sharing her insights, like the Prophets Daniel and Ezekiel, and St John the Beloved Disciple, whom she resembles in the nature of her prophetic mysticism, God utters prophetic words through her - the words of the Gospel, drawing all men and women to the Word himself.  Though radical feminists and neo-pagans try to reinvent her, St Hildegard is very much in the heart of the Church trying to call others in after her.  She shares her visions so we can be inspired to abandon ourselves to Christ so we may come to share in those visions ourselves.

Both of these Doctors remind us of the Second Vatican Council's central teaching: the universal call to holiness - a teaching much ignored and perhaps even denied as the 'spirit of Vatican II' crowd push an agenda which seems more like the universal call to mediocrity and rupture.  Listening again to Fr Hans Kung's moan we can see that these rebels are drifting further and further away not only from the true spirit of the Council, but also from the teachings of Jesus Christ himself.  The fidelity of St John and St Hildegard to the Church and to the person of the Holy Father, to whom both were obedient, contrasts sharply with the post-conciliar rebellion, and offers us a nourishing example of love, peace and hope.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Choose Life!

Tomorrow is Ireland's Day for Life.  The Bishops have produced an excellent video on the special website set up to promote the message of life as our government, it seems, is preparing to legalize abortion.  As a friend of mine told me: this report to come from the expert group (which is mostly made up of pro-abortion advocates) will advise the Minister for Health on the level of abortion we should have, not whether it will be legalised or not.    We need serious prayer!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Saints, Saints?

Today is the feast of one of the Church’s most loved saints, one who is admired by people of many faiths and none: St Francis.  I grew up in a town where St Francis was very important – we have a monastery of Third Order Brothers who educated most of the town’s boys and made major contributions to our town’s religious and civil life.  When I was in school every year on this feast day there was a celebration – Mass certainly, and sometimes a half day off school.  I grew up with a Franciscan spirituality, though I still do not understand why I did not become a Franciscan, but rather veered to Carmel.  I was baptised on the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, so perhaps my cards were already marked as far as heaven was concerned.  That said, Francis always did, and continues to, fascinate me. 

The celebration of St Francis by non-Catholics and an interesting article by Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith in the Herald has led me to ponder on non-Catholic saints – those canonised by the Orthodox churches.  In his article, Fr Alexander speaks about the Orthodox saint, Elizabeth of Russia, and the members of the Imperial family who were murdered by the Bolsheviks – they are honoured as martyrs and saints by many Orthodox.  Where does the Catholic Church stand on these and others who have been raised to the altars?  If the churches are finally reunited, will the Catholic Church recognise them officially, even those figures who displayed a hatred for Catholicism?

The question, I suppose, is academic in some sense, since the important thing here will be the formal reunion – and we pray for that!  Discussing the issue some time ago with a friend, he said that the Church would probably make no statement on these saints at all, but rather let things continue as they are.  Someone else said that we might look on them as if Beati with their cults in the East. 

Among these Orthodox saints are some most extraordinarily holy people who have a lot to teach us.  Seraphim of Sarov (c 1754-1833), who has devotees in the Catholic Church among them Blessed John Paul II, was unquestionably a Saint.  St Seraphim taught the people of his time that holiness was for everyone and encouraged them to seek it, teaching them the way of virtue and sanctity.   St Seraphim is a Saint who could be included in the Catholic General Calendar given his significance.

Seraphim of Sarov and Elizabeth Romanova

Elizabeth Romanova (1864-1918), or St Elizabeth of Russia, mentioned in Fr Alexander’s article, seems also to have been a most remarkable woman.  A granddaughter of Queen Victoria of England, she was married to a Russian Grand Duke and, following his murder in 1905 she became a nun and lived a holy life until the Bolshevik Revolution when she was murdered.  She was killed for her Christian faith, so she is a martyr.  Again here is a Saint who might well deserve inclusion on the General Calendar, the example of a noble woman who left all to serve Christ and then paid the ultimate price for her devotion to him.  Her maid, Varvara, who joined the same convent as Elizabeth and was known all her life for her deep piety, was also martyred by the Bolsheviks and was canonised. 

The Imperial family are in an interesting situation: are they martyrs at all?  Fr Alexander says that the sanctity of the children cannot be doubted; by this he seems to exclude Nicholas and Alexandra whose situation is not as clear.  Personally I would have doubts about the Tsar and his wife and I think they died for the same reason as Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette of France – it was political, not religious.  Besides, the Tsarina Alexandra, in particular, raises some serious questions given her devotion to Rasputin.  But were the children martyred too?  Were they murdered because of their adherence to the Christian faith, or simply because they were the children of the Tsar?  

The Orthodox Church struggled with this issue, in the end they canonised the Romanovs as “passion-bearers” – those who face death with resignation in a Christ-like way.  This category of saint exists in the Orthodox Church: I suppose the closest in the Catholic Church would be a Confessor, but that category describes one who suffered for the faith with serenity in life though was not killed: yet for the beatification of a Confessor heroic virtue is required.   We do not have a category of person who died with forbearance and we do not canonise them since, again, we look for either heroic virtue or genuine martyrdom.

An interesting snippet of information: killed with the Imperial family, and canonised with them, were a number of their servants including one who was a Catholic, their footman Alexei Trupp. Another murdered servant, also canonised, was a Lutheran.  In Catholic Church we cannot beatify or canonise non-Catholics but seems the Orthodox can.  That leads us to another interesting question: will the Orthodox recognise our Saints?   St Josaphat and Blessed Vincent Lewoniuk may prove problematic.  Anyway, at this point the issue is academic, but interesting.

In the meantime, we shall celebrate Francis today.  Mass, yes, but what about a half day off work?  Ah, how tempting!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Yoga, Anyone?

When it comes to deliverance ministry, as far I can see, there is very little grey.   As the Church tries to live with various pastoral difficulties and reach out and tolerate, when it comes to the spirit world, the demons tend not to be so pastoral in their approach and use every opportunity, regardless of intention, cause or situation, in order to take up residence.   Many exorcists tend to be very black and white, certainly the ones I know, and I suppose this comes from having to work at the coal face knowing that pastoral niceties and subtleties don’t actually work when it comes to expelling a demon, only tough love and Christian integrity. 

That is why, when a person is being exorcised, or in the process of deliverance, they will be urged to live a sound Christian life, adhering to the Commandments – in particular the moral teachings of the Church, and have to attend the sacraments regularly – Mass every Sunday (at least – daily Mass is often recommended) and frequent confession.  Like a physical ailment, neglect to take the medicine and the condition will not only not heal, but in fact will probably get worse.   In terms of deliverance ministry, if one refuses to begin living a virtuous life then the demon will borrow himself (or themselves if there is more than one) in even deeper.  Hard things to hear, but experience has shown them to be true.

Why this reflection on deliverance?  Well I am prompted by a recent news story about a priest in Southampton, Fr John Chandler, who has banned yoga classes from the parish hall.  It goes without saying that the priest was absolutely correct: in charge of the property he has to ensure that no practices which are contrary to Catholic teaching go on there, and that is what yoga is. 

Now I may have a load of apologists on to me telling me that yoga is perfectly okay, it is purely exercise and many people benefit from it.  Well, people might like it, but does not mean it is sound.  As for it being just an exercise, well we need to remember that posture in prayer and meditation is important: yogic exercises have significance for a particular occult practice and they cannot be divorced from it.  Besides, when people practice yogic exercise there is a form of meditation and ritualistic breathing that goes with it and experience has taught that that opens people up to forces.  As one of its apologists said in response to the priest’s actions: “yoga is spiritual, not religious”: there it is: can you hear the warning bells? 

Yoga means “union” and it is orientated towards union with a force which some consider divine, and in that way achieve enlightenment.   The exercises are not just there to keep you fit and make your muscles supple, or help you relax, they are a means of attaining this union.  What we do with our bodies is significant – if I give someone the two fingers that sends a message – I might intend it to mean something different, but those who see the two fingers draw on the general understanding of the gesture and interpret it accordingly and correctly; I am the one who, in trying to reinvent the gesture, is mistaken, not them.  So too with yoga – the exercises and positions send a message and the force they are designed to invite in interprets them as they are to be interpreted.

“But surely, Father, if we approach it intending it to be open to God, then it’s alright?”  Well, no, you can approach a Ouija board intending to contact God and the angels, but that will not redeem it and the ones who contact you through it will not be God or the angels.  There are some things which channel forces not of God and regardless of good intentions they cannot be transformed into instruments of God.   Yoga is one of these, as is Reiki, Tarot Cards, fortune telling, “Psychics Live” and other New Age practices.  And if anyone should doubt me, talk to an exorcist or someone involved in deliverance ministry and they will put you straight.  Working at the coal face they deal with people who thought these practices were innocent, good, and they even benefited from them – for a while; but they opened a door and the forces they were dabbling with entered in, and soon enough they discovered that these forces were not as friendly as they first thought. 

Dabbling in the occult is contrary to God’s law and Church teaching, not only can they not be redeemed, but in engaging in them one is in rebellion against God whether one realises it or not.  The Lord will never bless such a rebellion, and so these instruments of the occult can never be used to come closer to God no more than one can say adultery can bring someone closer to their spouse.

So, if you are doing yoga, stop it and go to confession.  If you are engaged in Reiki or other New Age practices, stop it! Well done to Fr Chandler; he had the courage to take on what is becoming a serious trend, even among Catholics, one which is producing disastrous results.   Speaking just of Ireland, the few that are involved in deliverance ministry here are run off their feet dealing with cases, some of them pretty difficult, and many of them are the result of people practicing yoga, Reiki, fortune telling and other New Age practices.  They do not have enough priests to deal with them (there only a few priests in Ireland working in this area).  So pray for these dedicated people who work in silence at a hidden ministry which is demanding and dangerous. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Extraordinary Gift For The Fraternity

Yesterday, the feast of St Therese, the Fraternity received a most extraordinary gift: His Eminence, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, sent us a first class relic of our co-patron, Blessed John Paul II, ex sanguine, from his blood.    The Cardinal, as you know, was Blessed John Paul's personal secretary and friend, and he looked after the Pontiff in his final illness.  To say that we are thrilled is an understatement!  The relic will be available for our ministry in the Fraternity and for the veneration of our members, those we work with and the faithful in general.  This wonderful gift comes after the Congregation for Divine Worship and Sacraments granted us the Indult to celebrate Blessed John Paul's feast.  A sincere thanks to His Eminence for his kindness and generosity.

Since we are on the topic, I want to remind you of our celebration of the feast day.  The Fraternity will host a Feast Day Mass in St Mary's Church, Drogheda, on the 22nd October at 7.30pm.   The new first class relic will be there and those who attend will be able to venerate it.   Everyone is welcome to come and celebrate the feast with the Fraternity, and you can pass on the word to your friends, particularly those who were devoted to the Blessed Pontiff.

Also for those who might be interested - Fraternity members and others, we are planning a pilgrimage to Poland next year in honour of Blessed John Paul.  The tentative dates are the 21st to the 29th May 2013.  We are working on the details and accommodation at the moment, but we will let you know as soon as things have been finalised.  We will probably stay in Krakow, but take tours to the various places associated with John Paul - Wadowice, Czestochowa, Kalvaria, as well as visiting other places of note, among them Auschwitz.  So if you are interested make a note of the dates.

In terms of what has been happening - well, what a week!  Former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese certainly made the headlines with her attack on the Catholic Church in a radio interview last Friday.  Giving us the benefit of her wisdom she said that the Church needs to become more like the Anglican communion and use the synod system to decide, it seems, our beliefs and practices.  She seems to resent the role of the Pope as the universal pastor and Vicar of Christ, or at least that role in real terms, she would prefer if the Pope permitted democracy.  I wonder if Mrs McAleese is actually up to date with what is happening in the Anglican communion - it is falling apart as the synod system has led to the abandonment of Christian doctrine in favour of relativism.  Surely if Mrs McAleese wants us to adopt that system, does she mean she wants the Catholic Church to fall apart and become as irrelevant? 

I think this idea shows extraordinary naivety and blindness on McAleese's part.  However she had even more objectionable things to say.  As I saw it, she implied that the Church imposes obedience because it has lost the argument on various issues, most notably for McAleese, contraception.  Ironic this: as she sees Humanae Vitae as a lost argument every day its prophetic nature is being underlined as modern men and women dig even deeper holes for themselves, sexually, and continue to undermine the stability of relationships and family life. 

The former President also believes the Church has it wrong on homosexuality.  In fact, and here is the most offensive thing she said, she blames the Church for the mass suicide of young men in recent years because of its teaching on homosexuality.   This is despicable and deeply insulting: there is no evidence to back up McAleese's claim and her comments are unacceptable and deserve, I think, a formal rebuke from her bishop.  Now the former President has her own agenda on this issue - homosexuality is a personal issue for her family, but making such groundless and dangerous allegations against the Church is disengenuous.

There were many things I found offensive with the interview, but over all I resent McAleese's using her position as a former President of Ireland to give her a platform to attack the Church and to prevent anyone from taking her on: after all if any one of us should publicly rebuke her many will defend her because of her record as President and she knows this.  I greatly admired her as President, but I'm afraid my admiration has diminished.  

One question I would like to ask her though: if the Anglican Communion is the best model for Catholicism, then why stay in the Catholic Church?  At this stage she knows the Catholic Church will not change to suit her opinions, so why not go over to the greener fields on other side of the river?  She can use the bridge she constructed during her presidency.   

I was sent a rather interesting link yesterday regarding The Irish Times and its objectivity.  It seems the paper of record may not be as trustworthy as it would have us believe.  Apparently when it reported on the small turn out for a pro-choice rally recently, it was rebuked by pro-abortion advocates, and so the paper revised its figures upwards.   So much for journalistic standards.  When it comes to pro-life events they are usually ignored by the paper, but if covered the figures are drastically reduced.  I see "MediaWatch" in the Alive! newspaper also takes the Times to task, this time over its reporting on Archbishop Diarmuid Martin's speech at the MacGill summer school.  The paper tried to give the impression that the Archbishop and Cardinal Brady were at variance over the issue of abortion.  The Archbishop wrote a strongly worded letter of complaint and accused the paper of "mischevious misrepresentation", and it seems the Archbishop is quite correct in his assessment. 

And as we're talking about Archbishop Martin, I see he is trying to get a new system of sacramental preparation going in his diocese - a welcome development, I think.  For too long the sacraments were given just because you were in a certain class in school regardless of faith or practice.  To refuse First Communion or Confirmation to children of unbelievers brings the wrath of parents and media on your head.  I know of one case where parents refused to have their child baptised, but still wanted her to receive First Communion: they did not want her to be a member of such an abusive Church, but still wanted her to "have her day out with her friends", and they had plenty of support for their position.  Madness!  As priests we can do very little since the programmes and the actual system is set in place by the bishops: we can only supplement it with sound material and do the best we can to try and get people to Mass and to practice the faith.  However a new approach is needed and hopefully Archbishop Martin's initial steps will help usher out the old and bring in a new, more evangelical and responsible system.