Thursday, June 27, 2013

Trusting In The Blood Of Christ

Is the world going mad?  I sometimes wonder.  Yesterday the US Supreme Court ruled that to maintain that marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman is not consistent with the US Constitution.   In response to this, one of the judges who dissented from the majority opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia, condemned the haughty way supporters of gay marriage who regard those who seek to defend "traditional" marriage as somehow enemies of the human race.  But one has to ask: what is happening to the human race?
Abortion, manipulation of newly-conceived human life, euthanasia, gay marriage, permissiveness, governments becoming more tyrannical every year, debased culture, despite all the euphoric statements of a brave new world dawning upon us, hopelessness is growing. Suicide is increasing, our young are lost.  One has to ask, is the world falling apart?   Some think that this is the greatest of all ages.  Now it seems we can do what we like and there is nothing to stop us - we may even kill another person if their existence limits our ambitions or desires.  Yes, things have got out of hand, but then again, what do you expect in a joint run by fallen human beings? 
We are sinners, and as sinners we are capable of dreadful things, murderous things.  For a long time prevailing opinion has seen human beings as majestic, good, pure, ethereal - yes we can be; but we can be downright bad too.   Often denied and now ignored, the doctrine of Original Sin is not only true, but easily proved in a twinkling of an eye.  The world is as we have made it.  So it's no surprise we end up in such times - these times come when men and women turn their backs on the source of all goodness: God himself.  Rebellion against him and the laws he has laid down for right living have landed us in a mess.  At the moment many do not see this as a mess - well, just give it time.  As with every bad idea foisted on us by the rebels, bad things happen and then they cause more problems by trying to deal with the bad things in a way that is easy and consistent with their ideas.  And then what happens? A bigger mess.
These human beings, sometimes they are more trouble than they are worth! Or are we?  Well, Our Lord didn't think so.
When I was in seminary one of my classmates, a very late vocation, once said: "Well, Christ didn't die for nothing".  Now that got me thinking, and what a wise thing to say.  As we survey the desolation we can say that to ourselves - Christ saw this, and even this is somehow wrapped up in his compassionate Heart and was factored in to the sacrifice he made for us.  So friends in the US, do not lose heart, Christ did not die for nothing - he died because of this.  We may well be saying that in a couple of weeks here in Ireland when our government passes the death penalty for unborn children. All of this and even more besides was the cause of Christ's death, and that death was more than enough to expiate for a million more crimes, and more again.  And in that death we see a hope that will clear this mess away and offer us salvation.  No matter how bad things get, we always have the Blood of Christ, and we must trust in that.
As followers of Christ we must testify to this, and live the hope Christ has won for us in his death.  Will the world or the rebels understand us?  Probably not - not even people within the Church understand the true nature of the Gospel of Christ's sacrifice - but that should not stop us.  If we hold firm, then we will be saved, and perhaps help bring a few others along with us.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Whose First Lady?

The First Lady with her husband
One of the things that went unnoticed during Obama's visit.  I was listening to the news in the car one day - the subject was Michelle Obama's visit to a theatre in Dublin to see a production of Riverdance.   The reporter said something very interesting.  "The First Lady Michelle Obama...will meet Mrs Sabina Higgins, wife of President Higgins..."  I didn't quite crash the car, but I was a little indignant - the old republican was rising up in me. 
In this country, Mrs Sabina Higgins is the First Lady and she should have precedence when reporting on the visit of the wife of a foreign president.  The reporter should have said: The First Lady, Mrs Sabina Higgins, will greet Mrs Michelle Obama, wife of the US President, at the theatre....
Now maybe Mrs Higgins does not have that title in Ireland, and if she doesn't I would appreciate someone telling me.  But I think the fawning over the Obamas went too far in that case.  Why did it happen?  Is it a case that at the end of the day Ireland still lacks confidence in itself?
Anyway, rant over.  Old republican streak being laid to rest.

The Catholic Church Is To Blame....Again

Did Obama Diss Catholic Education In Northern Ireland?
What a week it has been. The abortion act is being pushed through parliament under the veneer of democratic debate.   Some TDs and Senators are standing by their conscience and refusing to support legislation which will condemn innocent children to death: they are to be commended and supported.  
Meanwhile the Association of Catholic Priests has come out in support of the abortion bill, but do so in a sneaky way by featuring a pro-abortion article on their website and as yet no pro-life article.  The excuse offered was that the ACP is just giving a woman an opportunity to reflect on the issue.   No surprise there, really.  Rebellion against the Church's moral teaching always includes the endorsement of abortion and its attendant crimes.  At the end of the day no Catholic organisation can be "pro-choice".  There can be no choice - no one has the right to choose to intentionally end the life of another human being.  We don't tolerate it in other areas, so we should certainly not tolerate it here.
And then there was Barack Obama's visit to Ireland.  The media coverage was wall to wall and the national broadcaster was fulsome in its coverage.  Many have commented on the sycophantic nature of the coverage, and it was pretty stomach churning.  It is amazing how Irish liberals crawl before Democrat US Presidents.  
But Mr Obama did not bring joy to all hearts. It seems Catholic schools in Northern Ireland were to blame for the years of violence and bloodshed.  In educating our young people and passing on our Christian faith, it seems we were planting the seeds of the Troubles.  Thankfully some are expressing their anger, among them Bishop Donal McKeown, Auxiliary Bishop of Down and Connor.  Obama's comments were not only not true, but deeply offensive.   So far no apology from the president: I don't expect one.  But why should we be surprised?  It's just another anti-Catholic diatribe, and they are very common now, even among those in the Church.
This, though, is interesting as Northern Ireland society is slowly changing.  While political parties are still defined along religious lines - they are really political - nationalist and unionist which are usually aligned with Catholic and Protestant traditions.  However, when you begin to look closely at what these parties stand for, you begin to see in the "Catholic" parties, a sharp distancing from Catholicism and her moral teaching.  For one Sinn Fein, the majority "Catholic" party in the North, is in fact a Marxist party, and pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage etc etc.  The minority "Catholic" party the SDLP (Social Democratic and Labour Party), while not coming out as so anti Catholic moral teaching, its members have supported the gay marriage bill in the UK, through they still maintain that they are still pro-life.
On other hand, a close look at some of the Protestant parties reveals something very interesting.  Some are as pro-abortion as Sinn Fein, and still anti-Catholic.  One, however, seems to be more "Catholic" than any of the other parties, "Catholic" parties included.  Though firmly founded on anti-Catholic principles, the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party), holds sacred the same moral teachings as the Catholic Church.  It is pro-life, pro-traditional marriage and pro-family.  Its founder, Ian Paisley, a rabid anti-Catholic Presbyterian minister was, in public, scathing of Catholicism, yet in private he didn't care what religion you were: if you needed help you got it.  Indeed he had a community of Catholic nuns among his fans as he was a regular visitor and supporter.  I think he used to call them "my little sisters".
Irony of ironies, it may well be that one day soon, with "Catholic" parties supporting immoral policies, Catholics may well turn to their traditional enemies and find in their ranks men and women of similar moral outlook and Christian commitment.  To even suggest that now will bring ire on your head, as a friend of mine discovered recently.  But on the ground now there are many committed Catholics who are having qualms of conscience voting for parties who though identifying as Catholic, are supporting measures which contradict Catholic principals and moral teaching: they are already looking elsewhere. 
The future of Northern Ireland may not be as simple as some may think it should be - a reconciliation based on pure secularism.  Who knows, perhaps the Catholic Church may well find in the DUP and other unionists, allies and brothers and sisters in arms to face the moral struggles which lie ahead: a reconciliation and mutual action based on a common Christian faith.  Now that would be real reconciliation.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Our Martyrs

Blessed Dominic Collins
These difficult days provide a good (and necessary) opportunity for us Irish to turn to our Saints and Blesseds, and today offers us a moment to renew our acquaintance and relationship with the Blessed Irish Martyrs. 
A little point before I go on: as members of the Church, the Body of Christ, it is important for us to develop a relationship  - a personal relationship with the Saints and Blesseds.  While in the eyes of the world they may appear to be dead, or just remote figures from the past, we who live in the communion of the Church see them as living members of that communion, though now in heaven they are still united with us, concerned for us, loving us and praying for us.  Just recently I was criticised by someone for including  the Litany of the Saints in a devotional ceremony: it was considered irrelevant and of no use to bring young people into the Church.  The Saints are relevant because they are the ones who show us that the Gospel can be lived, and in their lives offer us encouragement.  And as I have found in my ministry the young, including teenagers who have the reputation of being disinterested in all things religious, actually love to hear about the Saints.  Why? Because the Saints are real. 
Today in Ireland we celebrate the memory of twenty-three Irish people who gave their lives for Christ - not for Irish nationalism, not for ideology, but for their Catholic faith.  The group includes the seventeen Irish martyrs beatified by Blessed John Paul II in 1992, and six others beatified with English martyrs in 1929 and 1987.  The group represents a large constituency of Irish people, although there is only one woman (that is not sexist on the part of the Church, it's just that the most of those martyred for the Catholic faith in Ireland were men, women tended not to be killed, though they did suffer hardship for their faith).
So first, among the group are bishops who were trying to carry out a secret ministry in Ireland.  Blessed Dermot Hurley was Archbishop of Cashel, he was tortured and finally hanged, drawn and quartered in St Stephen's Green in Dublin (then called Hoggen's Green).  Blessed Conor O'Devany was Bishop of Down and Conor, he suffered the same fate.  Then some secular priests: Blessed Patrick O'Loughran, chaplain to The O'Neill, and Blessed Maurice O'Kenraghty, chaplain to the Earl of Desmond: these two were captured and put to death when discovered to be Catholic priests. 
A number of religious are also among the martyrs.  Two Dominicans, the Bishop of Limerick, Blessed Terence Albert O'Brien OP, and Blessed Peter Higgins, the Prior of the Dominican Community in Naas, Co. Kildare.  Of course there must be Franciscans: the Order has a long and venerable association with our country.  Their martyred friars are Blessed John Kearney, Blessed Patrick O'Healy and Blessed Conn O'Rourke.   The Blessed William Tirry, martyred in Cork, represents the Augustinians, and one would also expect a Jesuit in there - Blessed Brother Dominic Collins.
And of course the laity.  The great Blessed Margaret Ball, a woman of our own diocese - Ireland's foremost protector of priests - a truly extraordinary Christian.  Her grandson-in-law, former Mayor of Dublin, Blessed Francis Taylor- both died in the dungeons of Dublin castle.  Then some unusual representatives: a baker from Wexford, Blessed Matthew Lambert, and with him three sailors who chose to live and die for their Catholic faith: Blessed Robert Meyler, Blessed Edward Cheevers and Blessed Patrick Cavanagh.  Sailors usually have a bad reputation, but these three holy men lived lives worthy enough to attract the attention of the persecutors and they made the supreme sacrifice for the Lord.
We also include six Irish martyrs who were beatified among the English.  Blessed John Roche, born in Ireland, but emigrated to England and lived in London.  He was a servant and helped St Margaret Ward in her mission of assisting priests on the run.  In 1588 he was executed for helping St Margaret spring a priest from the Tower of London.   Two more Irish emigrant servants, Blessed John Carey and Blessed Patrick Salmon - they too were condemned for their faith and for helping priests.  Blessed John Cornelius was an English priest of Irish parents, who was captured with Blesseds John and Patrick, and he was executed with them in Dorchester. 
We then have Franciscan Blessed Charles Meehan.  Blessed Charles was Irish, apparently a relation of St Oliver Plunkett.  Having completed theological studied in Germany, was making his way back to Ireland to serve on the mission but was shipwrecked on the Welsh coast.  As he was trying to find a passage to Ireland, he was captured, discovered to be a priest, and put to death. And last, but not least, Blessed Ralph Corby, a Jesuit priest.  Born in Ireland, his family moved to England where he grew up.  He studied for the priesthood on the continent, joined the Jesuits.  Working on the mission in England, he was discovered offering Mass, arrested, tried and condemned to death.  Like all other priests condemned, he was hanged, drawn and quartered.
On their feast day, may our Holy Martyrs pray for Ireland in these difficult times.  May we faithful find courage and confidence through their example, and let us commend our prayers, needs, and the cause of life in Ireland, to their intercession.  And let us hope they will soon be canonised.  All we need is a miracle!  So now, get praying.

Starting To Sink In?

I wonder if the ordinary Joe and Josephine Soap on the street in Ireland actually realises that abortions are about to begin in Ireland.  That our government is determined, come hell or high water, to have abortion legislation in place before the summer recess so "terminations" can begin as quickly as possible.  Part of this process is not only the rushing of legislation through the houses, crushing individual consciences and politically excommunicating those who choose conscience over party will, but also the demonization of the pro-life movement.
Well, here's a little bit of reality - the government has listed the hospitals in which abortions WILL be carried out after the passing of legislation.  Here they are (and note there are Catholic hospitals on the list - remember this legislation makes it illegal for any institution, regardless of ethos, to refuse to carry out abortions):
The Adelaide and Meath Hospital, Dublin, incorporating the National Children's Hospital (irony of ironies!)
Beaumont Hospital, Dublin
The Coombe Hospital, Dublin
Cavan General Hospital, Cavan
Cork University Hospital, Cork
University Hospital, Galway
Kerry General Hospital, Tralee
Letterkenny General Hospital, Letterkenny, Donegal
The Mater Hospital, Dublin (Catholic: Sisters of Mercy)
Mayo General Hospital, Castlebar
Midland Regional Hospital, Mullingar, Westmeath
Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise, Laois
Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Dooradoyle, Limerick
Mid-Western Maternity Hospital, Limerick
The National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, Dublin
Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda (Catholic: Medical Missionaries of Mary)
Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinsloe, Galway (Catholic: Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood)
The Rotunda Hospital, Dublin
Sligo Regional Hospital, Sligo
South Tipperary General Hospital, Clonmel, Tipperary
St Luke's General Hospital, Kilkenny
St James' Hospital, Dublin
St Vincent's University Hospital, Dublin (Catholic: Irish Sisters of Charity)
Waterford Regional Hospital, Waterford City
Wexford General Hospital, Wexford

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Time To Start Packing?

JPEG - 46 Kb
A news report today from the Italian news agency ANSA is saying that the panel of theologians in the CCS have approved a second miracle through the intercession of Blessed John Paul II.  If this is true, it is a major step towards his canonisation.  Two more remain to be taken: approval by the CCS itself and then the Holy Father.  If things move along in the next month (the Vatican closes down for August - or at least it used to, Pope Francis may have other ideas), then we may well see his canonisation soon.  Perhaps even in time for October, as some are speculating.  In an earlier post I was not so sure, but I think it may well be possible. 
Well, if it's going happen, then if you're going to Rome, act quickly as there is sure to be a frenzy.  Airline companies will put up their prices, hotel rooms will be at a premium and I'm sure most of Poland will be on the move crowding the roads of Europe (and who would blame them!).  It might be no harm to have a packed bag ready and waiting and one eye on Vatican news services.  It may well be an interesting summer.
When John Paul's canonisation does take place, I imagine it will be the biggest in history.  A great festival of faith, no doubt - one to bring the Year of Faith to a dramatic conclusion (don't rule out the Solemnity of Christ the King as a possible date for the ceremony, the last day of the Year of Faith).  Of course the work may well begin to have John Paul declared a Doctor of the Church, and we shall see if the title "The Great" sticks.
And just to give us a flavour of what is to come (some day, but hopefully this year), here again is the moment of John Paul's beatification: 

Change To Roman Missal

There has been another change to the Roman Missal, one begun by Blessed John XXIII and completed under Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis: as you may have heard, St Joseph is to be included in the invocation of the Saints in Eucharistic Prayers II, III and IV.  As you know Blessed John added his name to the Roman Canon. 
In response to numerous petitions received from the faithful, and with the support of Benedict XVI during his pontificate, and now announced and decreed by Pope Francis, the Foster Father of the Lord will now be named after Our Lady in all the Eucharistic Prayers.
This is welcome.  Joseph as the Foster of the Lord and Patron of the Universal Church deserves such a recognition - to be invoked in the liturgy during every Mass.  We need his protection and prayers in these times. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

New Beati To Be

Venerable Joan de Jesus, OCD
With things being so busy I did not get a chance to blog much recently.  No doubt you all heard about the new decrees issued by Pope Francis clearing the way for the beatification of ninety-five new martyrs of the religious persecution during the Spanish Civil War.  Among these are four of our brothers, Discalced Carmelites friars from the Lleida community in Catalonia. 
I have been trying to get information on them, but so far I have little apart from the date of their deaths and their places and dates of birth.  I was trying to write an article on them for our Community's newsletter which is to be distributed on Saturday.  I have written to Fr Romano our Postulator General, so hopefully he will get back to me with some info.
The four friars, three priests and one brother, were martyred in July and August 1936.  The leader of the group, the first to be martyred was Fr Joan de Jesus (born Joan Vilaregut Farre in Vic, Barcelona in 1907).  He is of interest to me because we both share the name religious name in Carmel.  Joan, by the way is Catalan for John.  He was martyred on the 24th July 1936 together with Br Bartolmeu of the Passion (born Josep Olive Vivo in Tarragona in 1894).  They died in the first wave of persecution.  Following the fall of Catalonia in July 1936, the republicans began hunting out priests, religious and faithful Catholics, the first to die were a number of Jesuits who were shot on the 21st July.  The carnage continued for some days afterwards.
It seems a relative calm came, and as the priests, religious and Catholic faithful were rounded up they were imprisoned rather than slaughtered.  The main city jail in Lleida, built to hold less than a hundred, was crammed full of over six hundred people, of which seventy-four were priests and religious.  On the night of the 20th August 1936 a fateful decision was made by the republicans, and the priests and religious were herded onto trucks, chained to each other in group of ten.  Among them were two of our friars, Fr Silveri of St Aloysius Gonzaga, a venerable friar of seventy-two (born Corroncuy, Lleida in 1864) and Fr Francesc of the Assumption (born in Montgay, Urgell in 1912). With them was Francesc's older brother, Pau  (Pau Segala Sole, born in Montgay, Urgell in 1903), who was a priest of the diocese of Urgell.   Driven out to a local cemetery, they were taken out and shot as their killers laughed and cheered at them.
These five form one Cause, and they will be among 524 martyrs beatified in a ceremony in Tarragona on the 13th October of this year.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Gloves Are Off

The Irish Bishops have issued another statement in response to the government's abortion bill. Here is the statement delivered by the Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin:

One of our government ministers, Simon Coveney, going into a cabinet meeting today seemed to dismiss the bishop's concerns.  He is quoted as saying that this bill is about saving lives not ending them, and that groups protesting the bill have got it wrong.  Minister Coveney seemed to be against abortion at the outset, but given that he is now chanting Enda Kenny's mantra, I presume he has been convinced to support the bill.
This statement is the strongest yet - I'm sure the government will not be happy.  Expect another attack on the Church in the media. I  must say I am mightily impressed by Archbishop Eamon Martin: we may well have an extraordinary Primate in the making.  We must pray for him.

The Face of The Crucified Christ

In Discalced Carmel today we are celebrating the feast of Blessed Alphonsus Mary Mazurek, one of our martyrs.  Blessed Alphonsus, a Polish friar, was murdered by the Nazis in 1944; he was beatified by Blessed John Paul II in 1999.   Here is a brief biography from the Postulator's office:
Joseph Mazurek was born March 1, 1891, in Baranowka, Poland. He attended the Minor Seminary of the Discalced Carmelites and in 1908, received the Carmelite habit and the name Alphonsus Mary of the Holy Spirit. He was ordained a priest in July, 1916. Because of his ability as an organizer and educator, Father Alphonsus was made prefect and professor at the minor seminary he had attended as a youth. He continued at the seminary until 1930 when he was elected prior (superior) of the Carmelite monastery at Czerna. It was at this monastery that he would work and live until his death. The new prior threw himself into his new responsibilities. Although the monastery was far from town, Father Alphonsus rekindled the apostolic work of the group. He also organized Carmelite devotions. The prior impressed all with his zeal and dedication to his priestly and religious vocation. The Nazis had begun occupying the area in 1939, but this did not stop the Carmelites from living their religious lives to the full. In spite of the threat of retaliation, the Carmelites continued to accept novices into their community and helped the refugees as best they could. In August of 1944, one of the Carmelite novices was shot. Shortly afterwards, the Nazis forced the friars to another village to dig war trenches. Father Alphonsus Mary was separated from his community and forced into a car where he was assaulted. When the car finally stopped Father Alphonsus was pushed out and told to start walking. Soldiers fired at him and the priest fell. When the murderers realized he was not dead, they filled his mouth with dirt, put his body in a horse drawn carriage and drove to a nearby cemetery. Providentially, the carriage passed the other friars on their way to dig the trenches. One of his brother priests was able to give Father Alphonsus absolution before he died. Throughout his torture and death, the priest had a rosary clutched in his hands. The Carmelites buried their prior and despite the curfew, many people attended the funeral. Father Alphonsus was murdered on August 28, 1944, at the age of fifty-three. In a letter to Carmelites throughout the world, the Superior General of the Carmelite order calls Father Alphonsus’s martyrdom the "crowning of a life of fidelity". Father Alphonsus himself, in his writings states: "All our sanctity and perfection consists in conforming ourselves to the will of God, which is the sole and supreme rule of perfection and of holiness." For his fellow Carmelites and the people of the surrounding area, Father Alphonsus was immediately revered as a martyr. In September, 1945, the Carmelites at Czerna built a monument over the spot where Father Alphonsus was shot. On the monument it says, in part, "...We do not pray for you; because the enemy has snapped the thread of an innocent’s life; since, when the earth bled, the Lord looked for the victim who had overcome hatred by love." Father Alphonus Mary was one of the one hundred eight Polish martyrs beatified in 1999.
In Blessed Alphonsus, as in every martyr we see the face of the Crucified Christ.  We see Christ condemned in their condemnation, tortured in their suffering and his death in their death. We also see his resurrection in their glorification.   This should inspire us, then, to have confidence when we ourselves are led to suffer for our faith.  We too should see Christ standing with us, and as we endure whatever suffering that is inflicted on us, we do so knowing Christ endured worse and that he is even now carrying his cross in our midst and calling us to follow on after him. 
In the brief biography I am struck by the epitaph on the monument erected over the spot where Blessed Alphonsus was shot: "the enemy has snapped the thread of an innocent's life".  That sums up many persecutions and unjust deaths.  But it also sums up abortion.  In these days in Ireland it is a phrase that may well describe what our legislators are about to do: snap the thread of an innocent's life.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Silent No More

Just a quick post to direct you to some good pro-life articles.  In the abortion demand we hear all sorts of voices, but the ones who never get to speak are the children - the ones whose live are ended.  Most of those aborted are killed - usually torn apart in the womb.  Some survive, but as the Gosnell case brought to light, most of these children are executed as soon as they are born ("post-natal termination"??), or they are left to die.  So much for the myth of progress! 
But there are a few, just a few, who do survive, and they are at last telling their stories.  It is difficult for them, and that difficulty is made worse by the abuse of the pro-choice lobby who tell these people that they have no right to exist: "You should be dead!" as one pro-choice feminist howled at a survivor - there's pro-choice compassion for you!
Life News has two articles written by Melissa Ohden, an abortion survivor.  She tells us that survivors are only now discovering each other and realising that they are not unique - there are others out there.  One article deals with the Gosnell verdict, and another deals with survivors in general
There is also a website and support service for abortion survivors: the Abortion Survivors Network; it is well worth visiting.  Pass on the word.  
It might be a good idea to get some of these survivors over to Ireland to speak.  I think our Taoiseach and his cabinet who want to legalise abortion need to meet and speak to them.  However, perhaps it would not change them - at this stage it is obvious their hearts are hardened, and their minds are closed.

Kevin, Charles And The Vineyard

St Kevin

It's a Bank Holiday here in Ireland today (Public Holiday).  We also celebrate the feast of St Kevin, hermit and founder of the monastic city of Glendalough.  The rest of the Church celebrates the feast of St Charles Lwanga and his companions, the martyrs of Uganda - in Ireland we celebrate them tomorrow, transferred to make way for St Kevin.
There are many stories around St Kevin, as to how true they are, we do not know.  Certainly he was man deeply immersed in God and sought him in solitude.  He attracted many disciples, so he soon found himself trying to organise a community of Irish monks (not an easy task I tell you: we Irish may seem lovely, but we are hard to live with it!).  Glendalough became a real centre of prayer and in the 12th century it became the cathedral city of its own diocese.  Now in ruins, you can see some hints of its importance and beauty. 
While the monastic city is gone, at least we still have the example and intercession of St Kevin, and the faith that he lived is also ours to be lived.  Many Catholics in Ireland today are lamenting the loss of much of our Catholic heritage - indeed the Gospel today seems to sum up what has happened: the vineyard has been taken over and the children of the Creator have been banished from the garden the Lord planted for us.  There is truth in that: the world was created for the children of God but it seems many rebelled and have tried to oust the children and even God himself.  While the Beatitudes promise that the meek will inherit the earth, we the children of God do have to make adjustments for the time being as the tenants run riot.  In the end all will be sorted, for now we try and flourish where we are.
One of the great threats to our faith and our religious freedom is militant homosexualism.  Last week France legalised "gay marriage" and it seems other European countries will follow suit - the UK will if David Cameron has his way - which seems to be happening.  Ireland will not be far behind - once abortion is in place I think our government will work on gay marriage.  In Ireland we will need a Constitutional referendum to allow gay marriage - unless of course the Supreme Court judges do what they did with abortion and impose an interpretation on the Constitution that permits it. 
St Charles Lwanga
Our feast today, that of St Charles and his companions, is most apt: these martyrs died because they refused to give in to the impure desires of their king.  You all know the story: King Mwanga preyed on the young men and boys of his court.  As his Christian subjects objected, he killed them.  St Charles Lwanga, a handsome young man, not only refused the king's advances, but he sought to protect the others, in particular the little pages who had no chance when the king called for them. Charles was nourished by his Catholic faith and refused to participate in the king's homosexual acts because they were deeply sinful.  In the end a furious king denied his pleasure condemned Charles and those under his protection.  Most of the pages were burned to death - Charles being singled out for special treatment.  Others were killed on the way to the execution site - St Matthias Kalemba being one.  Others died in the months before and after the holocaust.  The martyrs were both Catholic and Anglican - an ecumenical witness to Christian moral teaching. 
We need the example and prayers of St Charles and his fellow martyrs.  The very grace that gave them strength can help us too.  Despite the passing of centuries, things have not changed: we too find ourselves in a situation where our rulers now demand that we assent to what is immoral, and if we resist we are threatened with punishment be it fines, removal of charitable status, social exclusion or being thrown to the savage dogs in the media.  Though the world was created for us, it seems it has been turned against us.  St Charles teaches us that we must remain firm even if it means we have to make the ultimate sacrifice - in the end Christ is our life, not this world nor its rulers, and we must remain true to Christ.  Christ alone can give us eternal life. 
St Kevin encourages us to foster our relationship with Christ and to make the sacrifices we need to make so we have time to commune with the Lord in silence and solitude.  It will be in those fervent hours alone with God in prayer that we will be nourished and made strong for our public witness.  Our new vineyard is now the heart of the Lord - in that Sacred Heart a place is made ready for us, an inheritance no one can take from us.