Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Abortion Bill Approved by Cabinet

After a marathon cabinet meeting our government has approved the long expected abortion bill, dubbing it the "Maternal Life" bill.   The announcement was made at about 8pm this evening.  It will provide for abortion if there is a threat of suicide.  The door to abortion on demand has been unlocked.
According to sources a team of six doctors must approve the killing of the baby before it goes ahead. So far there is no indication as to a time limit - the problem with the X-case judgement is that there is no limit.  Some commentators have said that if abortion is not permitted up to birth it will be unconstitutional in the context of the X-case.  We shall see.  The Taoiseach hopes the legislation will be enacted by the summer recess, but he wants everyone to be patient and to read the legislation and then, I presume, agree with him.
Here are some reports, all from pro-abortion sources: The Irish Times and RTE.  We await reactions from pro-life groups.
The bill now begins its passage through the various stages and readings and will, they hope, end up on the President's desk for signing. 
Let's hope our TDs and senators will now stand up for life.  We will have to come in behind our pro-life representatives and encourage them.  The Taoiseach has said that he will not permit any dissent - all Fine Gael TDs and senators must support the bill and the whip will be firmly in place. That means those TDs ans senators who believe in the sanctity of life will have to defy the whip and that will take courage.   Let's hope Fianna Fail TDs and senators are of like mind with the grassroots members of the party who overwhelmingly voted against abortion at the weekend. 
One of the issues we as the Church must face now is the standing of Catholic ministers in the cabinet.  In approving this bill, are they now to be excluded from the Eucharist should they present themselves?  Clarity is now required from the bishops on this.
To be honest, it all feels very strange.  To be blunt, our government have now reintroduced the death penalty, but now it is not for committing a crime, it is for simply being conceived in the wrong womb.  Those who for go for trial have a jury of twelve - the Irish unborn will only have a jury of six, and if ethical doctors and psychiatrists want nothing to do with this legislation, will the government appoint its own creatures, pro-abortion medics, to make the decision as to whether a child lives or dies?
Time to pray!   Our Lady of Life, Queen of Ireland, pray for us.  Blessed John Paul II, Venerable Paul VI, pray for us!
UPDATE: The title of the bill has been changed to the "Protection of Life during Pregnancy" bill. Ironic?  Grotesque?  Demonic humour? 

UPDATE 2:  It seems, according to discussions going on, that only pro-abortion doctors will be on the panels.   Given that the IMO and psychiatrists are opposed to this, what are the chances that they strike off any doctors who approve an abortion?

In Battle, Forget the Sword, Get The Beads Out.....

From one remarkable Dominican to another: today's saint - Pope St Pius V.  What a pope!  Like his spiritual mother St Catherine of Siena, Pius was not afraid of a challenge, but surged forward in his mission to lead the Church in a difficult time.
Now Pius is a controversial figure.  I guarantee that if you go into a liturgy centre and begin to wax lyrical about him you'll find the temperature will plummet and you'll get very curt responses.  Historians will warn you that his excommunication of Elizabeth I of England was a bad idea because it made things worse for those she was persecuting (ironically some of these same historians may also lament Pius XII's "silence" disregarding that Pontiff's belief that a papal attack would have made things worse for those the Nazis were persecuting).  And then you'll get those who will say, "Don't mention Lepanto whatever you do!"
Well, I'm going to mention Lepanto!  Indeed I think we should all mention it and reflect on it.  We should all read Chesterton on it and praise it, not for its bloodshed of course, but for the outcome and the miracle God worked during that naval battle.
For one thing, Lepanto was the first call to ecumenical partnership between Catholics and Protestants made by a pope.  Realising the threat posed to Christianity by an Muslim invasion, Pius called on all Christian princes to put their differences aside and come together to meet the threat head on.  Few listened to him, and only a handful committed themselves to the Holy League.  In the end that small fleet of Christian ships led by Don Juan of Austria had to face a much larger fleet in the Gulf of Corinth and try and save Europe from invasion.
Pius, as a good Dominican, knew what he had to do: get the beads out and say his rosary!  And he asked all Catholics in Europe to join him in praying the rosary to save Europe.  We all know what happened - Our Lady of the Rosary in partnership with Don Juan and his crew overcame the threat.  It is said that Pope Pius had a vision of the moment of victory.  In thanksgiving, he designated the day of the victory, the 7th October, as the feast of Our Lady of Victories, later becoming the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.
So the moral of the story is simple: when in battle, get the beads out.  A timely piece of advice as we struggle to keep abortion out of Ireland.  In that campaign the Muslims are not our enemies but our allies, and with them other Christians and men and women of good will.   We can all learn from Pius's example: we must turn to prayer in all our difficulties and ask for victory from our God, and people of all religious faiths can do that.
Let us note that on the morning after his election, after spending time with Our Lady, Pope Francis made his way over to St Pius's tomb to spend some time in prayer.  Was there a reason to do so? Perhaps, or perhaps, being the pious man that he is, the Holy Father wanted to greet one of the his saintly predecessors.  Whatever the reason, I am sure Pope St Pius looked down on the Pope and assured him of his prayers and presence as the new pontificate began - these popes stick together!

A Late Post

I was so busy yesterday I did not get time to write a post and I really wanted to do so to celebrate the feast of St Catherine of Siena.
The more I read about this lady the more I like her and the more I realise she is a major figure in the history of humanity.  A woman who was led into the heart of God and there became an instrument of peace and reform, and one of the Church's most extraordinary teachers.  She was the second woman to be declared a Doctor of the Church, shortly after St Teresa of Avila was proclaimed the first. 
Much has been written about Catherine, every aspect of her life has been examined at a microscopic level, and she continues to fascinate.  Her miraculous fast has attracted a lot of attention - not all of it good, but for those who are aware of other mystics who lived on the Eucharist she is typical.  Some maintain that she suffered from anorexia - I'm not inclined to accept it because if she did she would have died much sooner than she did and would have been unable to carry out her work.  Almost to the end, Catherine was surging forward in her mission.
For those of you who have visited Rome you will know the statue of Catherine beside the Castel Sant'Angelo.  Erected by the Venerable Pope Pius XII it commemorates her being proclaimed the Co-Patron of Italy.  The statue is remarkable in that it sums up her determination: here is a woman ready to jump at a challenge, a woman with a clear vision, a woman who knows what she has to do and is going to do it.  Here, also, is a woman radiant in faith.   Those who met her in life testified to all these things: it must have been wonderful to have met her.  But like all who are holy, she attracted some and discomforted others making enemies.  I would love to lived in her days to have seen her in action.  Again, here am I wishing I had a time machine!  Ah well, I will just have to keep trying to get into heaven.
If you are looking for a good biography, I would recommend the one written by Sigrid Undset, published by Ignatius Press.  Undset, a Swede who converted to Catholicism, has been given a remarkable insight into the life and personality of St Catherine. 
Let us pray to St Catherine for the Church in these times, commending Pope Francis to her care, and also for Europe, of which she is patron.  With so many challenges to the faith, we need her to help us keep our sights on Christ and not lose hope.

A Week of Revelations


Things are gathering apace in Ireland when it comes to abortion.  After our doctors and psychiatrists refuse to have anything to do with the legislation, a Lila Rose type sting catches two Labour TDs on tape admitting that the forthcoming legislation is only the first step towards abortion on demand.  Nothing new there, I know, but given that our TDs have denied, hand on heart, that there is any intention to make abortion more widely available, they have been caught out.  But we are assured this exposure of the real agenda will not stop the process.  Congratulations to the Irish Independent which covered the story.  At last a mainstream paper that is not completely ruled by the pro-abortion lobby. There are a number of issues which cause concern in the opinions of these two Labour TDs, but one worth looking at: Aodhan O'Riordan was once the principal of a Catholic school! 
One of the revelations in this sting concerned the so-called "Expert Group".  It seems from what was said this group was nothing more than a stunt to ease the consciences of Fine Gael TDs who feared voting for abortion in opposition to their pro-life constituents.  That the expert group was a sham was well known, but that it was to help the Taoiseach whip his TDs into line is indeed a revelation.  Machiavelli has nothing on some of these guys!

Another interesting point to note: in the last election when Irish journalist and director of the Iona Institute, David Quinn said that a vote for labour was a vote for abortion, he was castigated by Labour members, including the man who is now our President.  Quinn was correct, as is obvious from these tapes and Labour's own manifesto, but as of yet no apology has been offered and our President has withdraw into a constitutional silence.

Meanwhile some TDs are now insisting that they will not support abortion legislation.  Lucinda Creighton, who admitted that she was once a pro-abortion advocate, is now an avid supporter of the pro-life cause and she is challenging her own party leader.  She wrote a blog post over the weekend which is worth reading.  She is to be congratulated for her stance for the cause of life.  We must keep her in our prayers.  Another Fine Gael TD, Brian Walsh, has announced that he will refuse to support the bill.  As has become the norm, he is being abused by the pro-abortion brigade and hauled across the coals in the mainstream media here which is pro-abortion.
The proposed legislation is to go before cabinet today.  How the government can continue with this after the health professionals of Ireland have rejected the whole project I do not know.  But I presume blind ideology trumps reality and medical knowledge.  But then again that is the pattern with pro-abortion advocates - they seek the death of what is most obviously a child, and with their hands over their eyes they speak of termination, tissue and compassion.  There are none so blind as those who will not see...
But for those who want to know the truth, some more revelations from Lila Rose. Her undercover work has led her to expose the reality of late term abortion in the US, and as we all know it is no different from what Kermit Gosnell was doing.  You may have seen the videos, but if not here they are.  Be prepared to be shocked: these abortion providers know that they are killing children, they do not hide it, they just get on with it.  Here is the Brooklyn tape, followed by the Washington tape. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Happy Feast Day, Holy Father!


Today, the feast of St George, is Pope Francis's nameday, and so is a public holiday in the Vatican City State.  St George the martyr, around whom all sorts of legends have grown up, died for the faith in Nicomedia, modern Turkey, around the year 303 during the persecution of Diocletian.  He was a soldier who refused to worship the Roman gods.
While we can discount the story of St George and the dragon - it is pure myth, we can see it as a symbolic representation of the faithful Christian who overcomes the power of evil by recourse to Christ.  
We pray St George may watch over and bless our Holy Father as he carries out his Petrine Ministry.  And let me wish all our Fraternity members in England of which St George is patron, a very happy feast day.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Santo Subito

Andrea Tornelli, always a reliable reporter in Vatican affairs has reported that the doctors at the Congregation of the Causes of Saints have described a healing attributed to Blessed John Paul II as "inexplicable".   
The findings will now be submitted to the panel of theologians and if they agree, then to the cardinals, and if they agree then the case will be presented to Pope Francis, and if he agrees and issues a decree of a miracle, the way is clear for Pope John Paul's canonisation.  Tornelli suggests that the canonisation could be as early as October!  Indeed one article says that the date will be the 20th October.
Now I would be cautious as regards this timeline.  Even if the alleged miracle makes its way quickly through the theologians and cardinals, and Pope Francis promulgates the decree, I would imagine the organisation of what will probably be the biggest canonisation ceremony in the history of the Church will need some time to organise.  For one thing the poor Vatican workers will have to face yet another huge event in a year that has, so far, been most stressful for them. 
That said there are some in the Church, cardinals included, who want to see the process end quickly, not because of a desire to see John Paul canonised, but because they are tired of the popular devotion that surrounds him.  Well let's hope that devotion grows. And indeed I, among others, would hope that as JP2 clears the canonisation process, the process to have him declared a Doctor of the Church will begin.

"Getting it Across The Line"

Every pregnancy has a face: it is the face of a child.
This was the phrase a journalist used on Newstalk radio today, the "it" being abortion legislation.  He was asking a pro-abortion senator, Prof. John Crown, what the government needs to do to get abortion legislation across the line.  Given the nature of the conversation it was obvious, in my view, that the journalist was not objective, but a supporter of abortion and keen to see the procedure legalised.  But then none of us are surprised at that: as we all know the mainstream media are no longer observers, but avid participants in what can only be described as a propaganda campaign to desensitise the Irish people and ensure the first step towards abortion on demand is taken in our parliament before the summer recess.  A step that will be taken, our Taoiseach promised just a hour or so ago in an interview.
All of this is happening as the Kermit Gosnell trial is taking place in the US and the horrors of abortion are being exposed in courtroom, but, again as we know, it is being ignored by the mainstream media for fear people see the reality of the holocaust which is taking place in the abortion clinics of the world.   
One of the most interesting periods in European history, I think, is the pre-war period 1930-1939, particularly in Germany.   One of the questions that has often been asked is: how could an entire population be fooled into voting for the National Socialist Party?  How could the people of Germany, and then Austria, give their support to an ideology that demonised a whole race of people?  The same question could be asked of the US in the early decades of the 20th century as black men and women were considered the property of the whites and were discriminated against.
Well, to be honest, I get a sense of what it must have been like as I reflect on what is happening in Ireland in the last few months.  Government, media and pro-abortion groups, in what seems like a grand coalition, have created an ideological climate in which the unborn child's humanity has been denied and compassion re-figured to allow the "termination" of unborn life as the only rational response to a perceived threat to a woman's life.   It is a stifling climate where the pro-life view has been well and truly excluded from any meaningful public discourse, and those on the airwaves exude an attitude that abortion is logical, normal, compassionate and just: indeed no one could possibly question it or object to it.
As I stand back at look at this I can see how all opposition has been squeezed out, silenced, demonised.  And in the midst of it there is not one mention, not one nod, to the humanity of the child in the womb - in all the discussions in the media the child is missing, he or she does not exist.  It is extraordinary to see how a human life can be erased so effectively from public discourse and from view.  And that is what frightens me most of all: the utter airbrushing of the other, of the child.  This is what it must have been like in Germany as National Socialists denied the humanity of the Jewish people and then eventually began to airbrush them out of society and out of public view in to the gas chambers. 
Bernard Nathanson, the abortion doctor who became pro-life and one of the greatest advocates of the humanity of the unborn child, once said that when people begin to talk about personhood, denying it to others, then a holocaust always follows.  That is what is happening here in Ireland: as pro-abortion politicians and journalists seek to deny that a person exists in the womb, what will follow will be a holocaust.   Of course the pro-abortion people deny this.  Prof. John Crown in the interview I mentioned above said that he gets upset when people say the floodgates will open: he believes they will not. Well we need only look at the experience of other countries to see that limited abortion always leads to a more liberal abortion regime.  This is only the beginning, and the pro-abortion coalition knows this. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Happy Birthday Mother!!

Mother Angelica
Today is Mother Angelica's 90th birthday!  And we salute the great lady.  She has devoted herself to the service of God for most of those years, fulfilling her baptismal call to preach the Gospel.  And she did that, sometimes to the chagrin of many outside and inside the Church.  EWTN is her greatest work, but there is much more.  Now she proclaims the Word through her suffering.  Let us all keep Mother in our prayers.  
A few images which reveal the personality of our dear Mother!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Martyred Pope

An image of Pope Saint Martin I, the 74th Pope

You may remember I wrote a post on Pope-Emeritus Benedict as being a possible "martyr pope", well today we celebrate the feast of the last official martyr pope of the Church (so far): Pope St Martin I, who died in captivity in 655.  He was imprisoned by the Emperor Constans II because he tried to implement the Lateran Council of 649.  The Council was convened by the Pope and the Emperor was not impressed since he thought he was the only one entitled to call Church Councils.  
The Council was called to discuss the heresy of Monothelitism (which maintains that Christ has only one will), a heresy that Constans not only held, but decreed that it could not be discussed at all.  However Pope Martin and a number of theologians, chief among them St Maximus the Confessor, realised that the Church had to deal with the issue and reiterate the Church's orthodox teaching.  The Church teaches that Christ has two wills: a divine will and a human will, and while both are in complete harmony, they are still separate.   The Council upheld the teaching and the emperor was not happy.
In response to the Pope's actions and the Council, he had Martin kidnapped and imprisoned in Constantinople.  For three months the pope endured dreadful conditions as he awaited his trial.  At the trial he was not allowed a defence, he was found guilty of treason and sent back to prison.  After another three months he was exiled to the Crimea where he died as a result of ill treatment and neglect on the 16th September 655.
People wonder why the Pope has his own country, the Vatican City State, and is not subject to any ruler or government: so he can teach the Gospel and lead the Church without interference.   It is not about kingly pomp and Church nationalism: it is about being free to proclaim the truth.
May Pope St Martin watch over the Holy Father as he carries out his Petrine ministry.

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Timely Lesson From Pope Francis

I am somewhat disturbed by the reaction of some people to the death of Margaret Thatcher.  The sight of people rejoicing in another person's death is awful.  Surely if we are civilised we act with more decorum and respect.  Even if we do not like the person or agree with their policies, it is still the right thing to observe some respect for the deceased and their bereaved family.  
I am reading a biography of Pope Francis at the moment, and he offers us a good example in this regard.  When the former President of Argentina, Nestor Kirchner, died - a man who opposed and frustrated the then Archbishop's attempts to protect and draw attention to the plight of the poor, Cardinal Bergoglio said:
The people should let go of any antagonism they have when faced with the death of the man who was anointed by the people to lead the country, and the whole country should pray for him...
It would be a sign of ingratitude if this nation's people did not come together to pray for this man who took up, heart and soul, the task of uniting people who had asked him to lead them. 
A gracious gesture, one the critics of the late Lady Thatcher should note and imitate.

Into Great Silence

Two stories.  Two different responses by the media. 
First Story: Savita inquest in Galway - saturation coverage by the Irish media, although it is selective coverage - a sad tale of what may well be mismanagement and perhaps even medical neglect seized upon to become the great white hope for the abortion movement in Ireland. 
Second story: the Dr Kermot Gosnell trial - an abortionist who carried out the most grotesque procedures in the service of the pro-choice movement, and is now on trial for the murder of post-natal babies delivered as part of the abortion procedure.  Media coverage: almost zilch.  Indeed the press section in the courtroom is deserted (see photograph above).   If you are looking for a good summary of the case, here is one.   The details are awful, but in reality they reveal what abortion is - cloak it in nice, PC language all you like, but get down to the nitty-gritty and you'll see that abortion is brutal, inhuman and violent.    Gosnell's crimes sound like those committed by some of the world's most notorious serial killers, but in reality this happens in every abortion clinic around the world - Gosnell just happens to be more committed to the job than some and does it right up to birth, just as those who seek abortion rights want. 
Why the media silence?  There are many reasons, but I think one of them is because Gosnell is the creature of the pro-choice movement, fulfilling their desires, and now that the dirty little secret is being exposed their allies in the media engage in a cover-up.  They can't stop the trial, but by gum they'll make sure no one hears about it.  Once again the secular media apply the "mushroom principle".
Holocaust deniers are some of the most deluded people on earth - despite all the historical evidence, they still maintain that the mass extermination of Jews did not happen.  The secular world and media are scathing of such people, and yet they engage in denial themselves.  They deny that the child in the womb is human.  They deny that abortion is evil.  They deny that it is a brutal, violent and painful procedure.  They deny that it destroys women.  They deny that it destroys stable societies.  They deny that it ultimately destroys our humanity.  And then they deny that those who tell the truth about abortion are telling the truth, they deny that we are sane, deny that we are compassionate, deny that we seek to help those with crisis pregnancies.  
Just look at Kermit Gosnell's trophies, where the remains of his victims are pickled in  jars, and then ask yourself who is in denial: those who seek to defend human life and the humanity of the unborn child, or those who think abortion is the compassionate response to a difficult situation?
And in the midst of this, there are those in Ireland who think we need to enshrine this "compassionate response" in Irish law.   Yes, do so, and turn this island into a house of horrors.  I think we have seen too much bloodshed on this island, let's not add our unborn babies to the list of those who perished in the name of so-called "freedom".

That said, we must pray.  Pray not only for the little ones who are killed and the women who are destroyed, but also for Dr Gosnell that he may repent of his crimes, if he has not done so yet, and for all involved in this crime against humanity.  May the light of truth break through the denial, the greed, the blindness and bring them to repentance.  And may the Lord be merciful to them and to us all.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Great Stanislaus

Today's feast always brings Blessed John Paul II to my mind since he is one of the successors of the Saint we honour today.  St Stanislaus, the great martyr bishop of Krakow, had a worthy successor in Karol Wojtyla.  Like Stanislaus, Cardinal Archbishop Wojtyla had to defend the flock from secular authorities who sought to bring the Church to heel.    St Stanislaus was brutally martyred in 1079 by King Boleslas the Bold. 
Stanislaus offers us many points for reflection.  The first is his ability to put things in their right order.  A passionate Christian and passionate man of his land, he knew what had to be rendered to God and to Caesar - that his king could not work that one out was not Stanislaus's fault.  The holy bishop put God first in his life and he was prepared to lay down his life rather than deny God the first place in his life and affections.   Some would say he was not a true patriot, and yet the Polish people see Stanislaus as their greatest patriot - indeed his tomb is now the "altar of Poland".  They, like their martyred bishop, see that true patriotism does not exclude God, but rather emerges from an ordered love of him.
Stanislaus is also a wonderful example for bishops and priests.  He was courageous, unafraid to stand for the faith.  Fear is a dreadful plague over the clergy - it paralyses.  It often comes in various disguises, tolerance being one, desire not to offend being another.   Stanislaus loved his people, but he preached the truth without fear.  It was not appreciated by some, but he continued to proclaim it even in difficult circumstances.
Finally Stanislaus by his life and death reassures us that there is no shame in belonging to the Catholic Church, and it is not wrong or inappropriate to defend the Church's rights.   We live in an age where secularism dominates and we are told that the Church has no rights and has no place in public discourse.  We try to defend the Church but it seems our defence must always be prefaced with an apology: why?  Why must we qualify our reasoning that the Church has a right to exist and act?  It seems that those who have a gripe against the Catholic Church call the shots, set the agenda for what is discussed.  
We hear so much about separation of Church and state, and yet those who want it (as if it doesn't exist as it is) really do not want the Church to exist at all - in their eyes, it seems, the Church must have no rights, not even those enjoyed by secular and civic associations.  Stanislaus reminds us that the Church has rights, and in guarding those rights she guards the rights of those who make up the Church.  When secularists tell us the Church has no right to speak, ultimately they are saying that those of us who make up the Church lose our rights as citizens because we belong to the Church: that we must be silent - if we insist on being in the Church, then we must be content with being second class citizens in the particular state in which we live.  Stanislaus said "No" to that; so should we. 
St Stanislaus also reminds us that, ultimately, we are bound to God.  Blessed John Paul II puts it beautifully in the first of two poem he wrote about the Saint:
There was a man; through him my land
it was bound to heaven.
There was such a man, there were such people, such always are -
Through them the earth sees itself in the sacrament
of a new existence.  It is a fatherland,
for here the Father's house is begotten and here is born.
I want to describe my Church in the man whose name was Stanislas.
And King Boleslas wrote this name with his sword
in the ancient chronicles,
wrote this name with his sword on the cathedral's marble floor
as the streams of blood were flowing
over the marble floor.
A fitting tribute to the great martyr bishop of Krakow. 
St Stanislaus, pray for us.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

On The Road....

The Servant of God, Sr Maria Margaretha of the Angels, OCD
I have not blogged on new Causes being opened for a while, and I think I must today since it gives us all a lift to see the processes of holy people being opened.  The announcement of new Causes usually takes place at the end of the month, and looking at the list for March, I see there are a couple of very well known people.
Focolaire have opened the Cause of their foundress, Chiara Lubich, it being five years since her death.  I could not believe it when I saw her name on the list - is it five years since we lost that beautiful woman?  Time flies when you get old!   Chiara Lubich is probably one of the most important Catholic women of the 20th century, not only in founding a major Catholic lay movement, but for her example of a modern woman who reveals through her life and teaching, that faith and the life of holiness are as important now as ever.  She was a Saint-maker herself: encouraging others to strive for sainthood and forming Saints through her wisdom and example.  Blessed Chiara Badano, Focolaire's first Blessed, was very much her spiritual daughter and the fruit of the charism Chiara Lubich was given by God.   We look forward to a successful conclusion to her Cause. 

The Servants of God, Chiara Lubich and Andrew Bertie
Another great layperson of the 20th century is also on the list: Fra Andrew Bertie, the former Grand Master of the Knights of Malta.  He too died in 2008.  He was the first Englishman to hold the office since the 13th century.  He never married and, in the style of the Knights of old, offered his life in the service of the Church and the mission of the Knights of Malta, taking perpetual vows.  In the secular world he served in the British army, and then became a teacher.  Interestingly he was a distant cousin of Elizabeth II of England.   Reflecting on the purpose of the Knights of Malta, Fra Andrew used to say that they existed to serve the poor and sick - that was their primary purpose on their foundation, and it is their purpose and mission today.
We Discalced Carmelites also rejoice as yet another of our sisters begins the path to sainthood (we hope):  Sr Maria Margaretha of the Angels.  Born in Antwerp in 1605, the daughter of Philip van Valkenisse, an official in the city, she entered the Discalced Carmelite monastery in Antwerp in 1624.  She embraced religious life with great enthusiasm and a desire for holiness, practicing mortification, gaining a reputation for sanctity.   She had a particular devotion to the Eucharist.    In 1644 she founded a new monastery in Oirschot and was elected prioress, governing her community with great wisdom and offering her sisters a dynamic example of the contemplative life.   She manifested a number of charismatic gifts, chief among them the stigmata which she received in 1654.   Witnesses have also claimed she had the gift of bilocation.  She died on the 6th February 1658.  After her death miraculous oil oozed from her body - what is referred to as the "manna of the saints"; it was collected and reports claim it was instrumental in many healings.  Her body was buried, then exhumed, stolen and eventually laid to rest in St John's Cathedral in 's-Hertogenbosch.  What is extraordinary is the length of time it has taken for Maria Margaretha's Cause to be opened.  
Cardinal Franjo KuharicCardinal Peter Poreku Dery
The Servants of God Cardinal Franjo Kuharic and Cardinal Peter Poreku Dery
Finally, I see the Causes of Cardinal Kuharic and Cardinal Dery have been opened.  Cardinal Franjo Kuharic, who died in 2002, was Archbishop of Zagreb in Croatia, and Cardinal Peter Poreku Dery, who died in 2008, was Archbishop of Tamale in Ghana.  Interestingly Cardinal Kuharic, as head of the Croatian Episcopal Conference's investigation into Medjugorje, designated the place a shrine.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Divine Mercy Sunday

Happy Feast Day to you all.   I'll be hearing confessions for most of the day, so that should put manners on me!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Shooting From The Hip

The Holy Father gave a humdinger of a sermon this morning in the chapel of the Domus Sancta Marthae where he now lives.  Every morning he offers Mass for various groups - a lovely gesture.  And preaches at every Mass - if he was in Ireland he'd be lynched.   Blessed John Paul used to have groups for Mass up in the Papal Apartment, Pope Benedict usually offered Mass for the Papal Family and friends.  It's all fine and good, every Pope is different. 
In his homily, the Holy Father spoke of the persecution of Christians in many parts of the world.  He said that if you were looking for martyrs you need not go to the catacombs or the Colosseum, but there were plenty of martyrs today in many countries.  He then became even more explicit: there are Christians who cannot even carry a cross without being punished.   Now lest we run away with ourselves and lament the persecution of Christians under Islam - and it is happening, the West needs also to examine its conscience.  How many secular, "tolerant" societies do not allow Christians to display the cross or to wear it in public?   
And lest we Catholics get too righteous: How many Catholic institutions have removed symbols of our faith in order to be more "open" or "less offensive"?  How many Catholic institutes of learning forbid  priests, religious and seminarians from wearing their habits or clerical garb?   I know of one institute in Dublin where new students were told to remove their religious clothing so as not to offend lay students.  I was a postulant at the time so had no habit to wear while I was there, but I noted with glee an African Capuchin and a Latin American nun who flouted the rule and wore their habits.   They had a hard time of it. 
Pope Francis is giving  us a lot to think about it, and unlike Benedict who in his gentleness sometimes presented the truth in beauty and diplomacy, Francis just goes for the jugular.  By the time this Holy Father goes to his eternal reward (a long time from now I pray), we'll have darkened the doors of the confessional many, many times.  He is a walking examination of conscience.

Doctors Say Yes To Life

The struggle for life suddenly turned another corner in the last day or so.  At their annual conference the Irish Medical Organisation - the professional organisation which governs the Republic's doctors, have voted to reject the government's plans to legislate for abortion.   A wonderful decision.  Given that they work at the coal face, doctors know the truth of medical situations and know that abortion is never necessary to save a woman's life.  Now not all at the conference voted in favour, a significant minority voted to support the abortion legislation.  That is troubling.
But the IMO's decision is now troubling for the government.  In response to the organisation's decision, the government has stated that it will go ahead and introduce abortion: but the question is - who will do the procedure?  I presume, and I would like to be corrected if I am wrong, if a doctor affiliated to the IMO carries out an abortion he or she will be struck off for malpractice.  If this is the case, how will the government prevent it?
It seems to me that the government may well have to include in the legislation a requirement for doctors to perform abortions when asked, thus outlawing the IMO's position and doing away with freedom of conscience.  Indeed I had heard that this may well have been part of the government's plans from the start.   In other words, our government may well have to force the medical profession to capitulate.  Unless of course it can persuade the IMO to change its mind, or indeed establish an alternative organisation to which pro-abortion doctors can affiliate.   Either way, I fear we may be facing a very worrying situation not only for unborn children, but also for basic freedom in Ireland.   We must pray for our doctors that they will have the courage to stand up to any pressure to concede that innocent human life can be sacrificed for an inhuman ideology.  And let us pray for those doctors who have succumbed.

Pro-abortion advocates have said that they will "name and shame" the doctors who voted against abortion. Well, may their names be written in the Book of Life for their defence of the unborn: they will be shamed nor confounded.
As all this was happening, a number of people have said that RTE had pro-abortion doctors lined up to celebrate the moment - pro-life doctors were ignored.  When the decision of the IMO came the media was apparently stunned and they have been smarting since. 

If this is true, I would have to wonder why RTE is the sole beneficiary of the TV licence?  Why should I as a pro-life Catholic help to fill the coffers of an organisation that bashes my Church, misrepresents my sincerely held beliefs, and is an active, although sly, participant in the campaign to legalise the greatest crime against the innocent humanity ever known?   I have a TV so I have no choice but to pay the licence fee: I have no problem with that, but can I not expect an objective service for my money? 

Is it not time that we should let them earn their own money and have the licence fee either divided between the various media companies according to ratings, or put to some other use?  Given that the government is strapped for cash even suggesting they abolish the fee is probably a non-runner.  For one thing it would bring an end to the extravagant salaries some RTE employees are getting: salaries which are scandalous and way out of proportion for "personalities" in a tiny country, particularly when people are finding it difficult now to feed their families thanks to the burdensome taxes the government has imposed. 

The French rose up for less..... 

Monday, April 1, 2013

When God Is Forbidden

A friend who is a deacon has drawn my attention to a Spanish film company, Contracorriente Producciones, which makes shorts on various Catholic topics, including the lives of the martyrs of the Spanish Civil War.  You may remember that last year I did a series of posts on some of the martyrs - I believe their stories are very important for us Catholics at this time as the governments of once Catholic/Christian nations now have a very sour approach to our faith, and many of them are enshrining laws that not only offend our faith, but in many cases criminalise our beliefs, or at least require that we act in a manner which is contrary to our faith in order to stay within the law.  
Just yesterday the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, drew attention to this in his criticism of the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, as he prepares to introduce gay marriage even though it seems most British citizens are not too keen to have it.  In recent years Lord Carey has been to the forefront in defending basic Christian values.  Interestingly the former Archbishop has been attacked, and that is to be expected these days.  As an aside I wonder what the Supreme Governor of the Church of England will do when legislation deeply repugnant to the Christian faith and its stance for true marriage arrives on her desk?  I suppose she probably will do what she did when abortion and equality legislation arrived at the palace for signing.  
That in itself raises an interesting question: should a head of state be the head of a Christian denomination, especially when that head of state is endorsing laws that are contrary to the Christian faith and is not prepared to take a stand and oppose them?   I understand that Elizabeth II has no power - so she cannot refuse to sign what is put in front of her, and as far as we know, she never has.  But she is in a bind when it comes to her role as the head of the Church of England.  Lord knows what that does for her soul: an unenviable position.
While they loved their country and respected its government, the martyrs of the Spanish Civil War chose faith rather than act against their Christian faith or deny Christ.  After making a number of shorts, Contracorriente has made a full scale feature film on the Claretian martyrs of Barbastro who were killed for their faith in August 1936.  These fifty-one Claretians, most of them young students, were beatified by Blessed John Paul II on the 25th October 1992.  Entitled A Forbidden God, the movie is due for release later in the year.  Here is the trailer - in Spanish only I'm afraid, but you'll get the sense of the film.  Let's hope it is subtitled and available outside Spain soon after its release.  It may well be one for the Dublin Film Club some time in the future.