Wednesday, August 31, 2011

New Arrival

"Speak of the devil and he will appear" - perhaps not the most appropriate expression, but it fits: having posted on the arrival of the new Missal down with Fr Burke in Cloyne, it has also made its appearance in Rathkenny. 

As I was having breakfast after Mass the doorbell rings and a young courier is standing smiling at the front door with three brown boxes: "I'm visitin' all the priests today," he says.  The Tertio Ed en Anglais has come.  

Structurally not as bad as I thought, functional though with a nod in the direction of beauty, but the four colour plates are not good.  At first glance CTS is still far superior.  I will get some time later for a better look.  But at least I am happy to finally have the new translation: it has been a difficult birth, and I fear the difficulties may not be over.  Come the 11th September Pere Hogan will be ready.

But....what to do with the old Missals??  Fr Z (peace be upon him), has a few ideas.  


Two interesting posts to which I would like to draw to your attention.  The first from Christopher McCamley on his Catholicus blog concerning possible changes to the structure of Irish dioceses.  He says he has heard that the aim will be to reorganise the Church in Ireland into two metropolitan provinces: Armagh and Dublin, and eleven dioceses - five in the province of Armagh, six in the province of Dublin.  I presume Armagh will remain the primatial See.  If this is true then that is good, I think this is the way to go.  I had thought of twelve dioceses in two provinces, but eleven is even slimmer. 

The second post is from Fr Gabriel Burke on the new Missal - his arrived yesterday.   I have to say my heart dropped when I read what he had to say and plummeted to the depths when I saw the pictures.  I feared that Veritas would make a dog's dinner of the Missal and I think my fears may have become a reality.  Those pictures look ghastly - the quality deplorable.  A real 60's-70's production Fr Gabriel says: why should I be surprised!   I saw the CTS Missal when over in London and it is a beautiful volume - beautiful art, good quality - a book designed with great care for a sacred purpose.  

I am a good customer of Veritas; over the years I have, perhaps, spent too much of my money on books - I am addicted to books.  I know some of the staff there and a finer group of people you will not meet.  But the quality of Veritas publications is very poor.  They seem to be stuck in a cheap 60's/70's mode and cannot get out of it.  I'm sure it can't be that they can't afford better quality books - they publish the national catechetical programme (the dismal Alive-O), so they are making lots of dosh on that.  I don't know....

I have ordered three Missals for the parish - we have three churches, but I think I will buy a CTS version (chapel edition) for my own personal use.  I know some have waited to see the quality of the Irish version, I think they are going to opt for the CTS and hold on to their green A4 paperback supplement to cover the Proper of Irish Saints.  That said I find myself asking the question once again: when will we ever get to grips with beauty in the Church in Ireland?  Must we forever labour under the ugly and purely functional? 

Art from the Irish Missal: the Resurrection???

Art from the Irish Missal: the Crucifixion

Art from the CTS Missal: The Crucifxion

Art from the CTS Missal: the Annunication

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Battle Lines Being Drawn

Cardinal Sean Brady made a spirited defence of the Seal of the Confessional in Knock on Sunday, correctly pointing out that any legislation requiring priests to break the Seal will challenge religious freedom in this country.  The government, however, is determined to go ahead, and Alan Shatter, the Minister of Justice, has responded to the Cardinal's defence by insisting that priests will not be exempt.

Indeed such legislation would contravene our Constitutional rights with regard to the practice of our Catholic faith, that is why I think this legislation may be a non-runner, unless of course the present government seeks to change the Constitution and limit religious freedom in certain circumstances.  Now having spoken to some friends on this they all said that if such a referendum is presented to the people they would reject it.  They might, I say, if they know about it.  But then there are other ways of getting the consent of the people.

There is due to be a referendum on children's rights in the next few months - seeking a change in the Constitution which may introduce particularly worrying developments. This proposed amendment to the Constitution may dissolve certain parental rights, transferring them to the state, in order to protect children and give them more rights as citizens.  What is stopping the government from including a clause, a nice ambiguous clause, into the wording of the amendment which will state that certain religious rights may be suspended or overlooked in certain cases in order to protect the life, health or welfare of the child?  Nothing. Groups will argue about the amendment, its supporters roll out the hard cases and try to win the assent of the people.  Is this what the goverment intends to do? 

My Hero!

I think I said a few months ago that I was going to write a post on St Edmund Arrowsmith.  With so much going on I did not get the chance, but today being his feast day, I cannot let it go any longer.  St Edmund Arrowsmith is one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales and when I was a teenager I was fascinated by his life and example, and indeed I was brought to seriously consider priesthood because of him.  St Edmund was a Jesuit, and a fine example of the nobility of the sons of St Ignatius.

A biography.  Edmund was born Brian Arrowsmith near Haydock, Lancashire in 1585.  His father, Robert Arrowsmith was a yeoman farmer, and his mother, Margery Gerard, was a member of a notable family in the area.  Coming from Catholic stock on both sides, young Brian had numerous examples of witness to the Catholic faith in Reformation England.  Both of his grandfathers, Nicholas Gerard and Thurston Arrowsmith had been regulars at the local clink: indeed Nicholas had once being carried forcibly to a Protestant service: he started singing the psalms in Latin and got himself thrown out for disturbing the service. Brian's own parents did not escape - a number of times the family was hauled out of bed at night, Robert and Margery brought off to jail and the children left on the side of the road shivering in their night clothes.  Thanks to fines which were imposed for refusing to attend the services of the established church, the family was impoverished, and Robert had to emigrate to mainland Europe with his brother Peter where they served as mercenaries to earn money to send home.  Peter died in battle, Robert managed to come home eventually, but did not live long after returning.

Brian discerned a vocation to the priesthood and after many difficulties, when he was twenty, he was able to leave England for the seminary in Douai.  His uncle Edmund Arrowsmith was working there, and after Brian had failed to get a place in a Spanish seminary which would have been safer, his uncle managed to get him into Douai.  There Brian received the sacrament of Confirmation, taking the name Edmund in honour of the martyr Edmund Campion, and that was the name he used for the rest of his life. 

Not the most robust, Edmund suffered from bouts of ill health and had to be sent home at one point: he almost died at one stage.  However, he pulled through and was finally ordained on the 9th December 1612, travelling to Arras cathedral for the ceremony.  The following June he boarded a ship, and in disguise made his way back to England, eventually making his way up north to his native Lancashire.  It was here that he would spend the rest of his life ministering in secret and at the risk of his life to faithful Catholics.  We know little about his ministry apart from a few local traditions and the general experience of priests on the English mission at time.  Secrecy and disguise were the order of the day, and like many other priests, Edmund had a number of aliases - Mr Ridley being one of them.

His character, however, is known to us, and he was very much a John the Baptist.  He had humility and people would pass him without even noticing him - handy for the job at time.  Some took him for a fool, but whenever they got in conversation with him, or into a debate, it quickly became apparent that Edmund was no fool.  He was well able to debate, and he had sharp wits and even a sharp tongue.  One of this friends once advised him to keep salt in his pocket to season his words!  That said, he had a deep love for his people and was one with them in their sufferings.  We have a portrait of him, painted by a member of Holbein's school during one of Edmund's visits to the continent for respite.  

In 1622 or 1623 he was arrested and charged with being a priest.  He was brought before the Anglican bishop of Chester to be examined.  It was during Lent and he was ushered in to the bishop as he was having his dinner with a number of his ministers.  Though separated from Rome, Anglicans then still observed the penance of abstinence from meat during Lent, but the bishop and his ministers were tucking in to a lunch of roast beef.  To give him his due the bishop apologised to Edmund for eating meat, pointing out that due to his bad health he had been exempt from the rule.  "But what about these dogs?" responded Edmund, thus starting a row with the ministers and leading to right foray (you get the quib about the salt in the pocket now!).  Edmund escaped execution this time, the king, James I, was trying to arrange a marriage for his son Charles with the Catholic princess Henrietta Maria of France, so England could not be seen executing Catholic priests.  As soon as the marriage was agreed upon and solemnised in 1625, however, they got right back to executing Catholics, as per normal.

In 1624, Edmund entered the Jesuits.  With his devotion to Edmund Campion, and having seen the heroism of Jesuit priests on the mission he wanted to be one of them.  For the last four years of his life he was a member of the "college of St Aloysius", the community of Jesuits in Lancashire which met regularly at the Blue Anchor Inn in Brindle.   It was in this inn that Edmund would meet his fate.

The owners of the inn were the Holdens, a Catholic family well used to priests coming and going secretly.  In the summer of 1628 the son had married his cousin in a Protestant ceremony and when the couple came to Edmund to regularise their union in the Catholic Church, Edmund was happy to do so.  However, he told them, as the Church did not recognise their marriage, they would have to live apart until the marriage and dispensations could be organised and the union regularised.  This touched a raw nerve - it seems young Holden did not want the Church interfering in his sex life, and so a row ensued and Edmund left the inn.  That, however, was not the end of the matter.  Offended by what Edmund had told them, the young man and his mother wanted revenge.  They went to the priest hunters and informed them that they would  find a Jesuit priest at the inn on such and such a day - the day Edmund was due back, probably with the dispensations.

When Mr Holden senior discovered what his wife and son had done he was furious. On the expected day Edmund arrived back at the inn, the father told the priest that he had been betrayed and so to flee.  Edmund made an attempt to escape - an exciting chase across the fields of Lancashire followed, but he was caught, jailed and brought to trial on the 26th August 1628.   The judge was a bigoted Puritan called Yelverton, who conducted the trial himself, not allowing any real defence, and so without surprise, Edmund was condemned to death for treason - being a Catholic priest and remaining in England was an act of treason according to the law.  On the 28th August 1628, Edmund was hanged, drawn and quartered in Lancaster.  All that remains of his body is his right hand which was stolen during the butchering of his body and later given to his mother; it is now preserved in the Church of SS Oswald and Edmund Arrowsmith in Ashton-In-Makerfield, outside Liverpool.

Following his execution there followed an interestig event. One of Edmund's priest friends was the Benedictine Dom Ambrose Barlow who was also serving on the English mission. On the night of the 28th August 1628, when he had retired for the night, Dom Ambrose was awoken by a bright light.  In the heart of the light was his friend, Edmund.  The martyred priest told him that he had died that day and foretold that Ambrose would too suffer for the faith.  This prophecy came true in 1641 when he was hanged, drawn and quartered for his priesthood in Lancaster.  Another friend of St Edmund, Fr John Southworth who gave him last absolution as he was going out for execution, was also martyred in 1654 at Tyburn.  In 1970 the three friends were canonised together.  A relation of St Edmund was also martyred, Blessed Miles Gerard, and another relation was the famous Fr John Gerard the author of an exciting and accurate account of life as a Catholic in the penal era in England.

Box containing St Edmund's vestments and Mass kit, preserved at Stonyhurst College

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Very Modern Martyrdom

In his homily for today, contained in the Office of Readings, St Bede tells us that John the Baptist was not being asked to deny Christ, but rather to stay silent: silent about the truth.   Herod and Herodias in, what we would call today, an "irregular relationship", were not to be challenged nor reminded about the sinfulness of their situation, but rather they were to be respected and not offended and in a gesture of tolerance, understanding and compassion, embraced and included.   Silence, then, is the best approach.  Of course telling John the Baptist to stay silent about a sinful situation was a non-runner from the start.   Given the challenges facing the Church today, this feast is very relevant and we might say St John's beheading is pretty much a very modern martyrdom.

I am reminded of an encounter I had once following a homily I gave in my last parish.  The Gospel of that day, which had been a Sunday, presented us with Jesus speaking about his Father.  So, taking the cue from the Gospel, I used the opportunity to give a catechesis on God the Father.  When I came in from Mass I was greeted with an irate woman who laid into me for offending "every woman in the Church" by my homily.  "How dare you", she said.  I tried to explain that what I had given was the Church's teaching on the nature of God the Father.  This lady was doing a theology course in one of the institutes in Dublin, so she felt she could respond to what I had said.  "No, it's not the Church's teaching!"  she retorted.  "Father is only an image - he is not a Father."  I bit my lip at that moment because I was tempted to tell her to look for her money back because if this was what she was getting for theology in a Catholic theological institute she was being sold a pup.  Then came the rebuke in earnest: "You can't say that!"

Those words have become the mantra for many in the Church today: "you can't say that", "you can't preach that"; "that" referring to the teaching of the Church, most often her moral teachings - in the words of St Bede - stay silent about the truth.  In Ireland today the Church has fallen into silence, thanks to the abuse crisis, few feel they can preach the teaching of the Church, they stick to what is politically correct and what will not raise shackles.  That is why people can stand up in public and condemn the Church, tell lies about her, knowing they will get away with it because no one is prepared to stand up and challenge them.  Indeed it has got to the stage that attacking the Church has become a spectator sport and a way for young bucks to make a reputation for themselves or get themselves noticed as one unknown politician did last week.  With the Church chained up every half wit in the country knows it is safe to ponce around, strike at her and taunt: no lie or misinterpretation will be contradicted - it's just shooting fish in a barrel.  Indeed the press has known for many years that it can libel the Church because they know they will not be sued.

The question we might ask today is simple: do we remain silent?  The example of John the Baptist urges us not to, but then why do we remain silent?  Why was Enda Kenny's attack on the person of the Pope in the Dail, a Pope who more than anyone else has tried to exorcise the evil of child abuse and deal with the abusers, greeted with absolute silence by the leaders of the Church in Ireland?  Why was there no attempt to clarify issues - to point out the truth, to challenge the "misunderstanding" the Taoiseach was labouring under?   What does that silence now say about the Church in Ireland?   Is there no Clemens von Galen in Ireland?  I know the answer to that, as do all of you, dear readers.  That is why our confidence in our leaders is gone, and here I speak for many priests and laity who have told me how they feel.  I see a confused and suffering people: those who were most faithful, who in charity supported their leaders though appalled by the revelations of evil done by members of the Church, now confronted with that damning silence in July do not know where to turn.   Is it possible that that silence was the last straw for many of the faithful, the moment when our leaders lost the battle for the hearts of the faithful? 

St John the Baptist, pray for us, help us!

By the way the lady mentioned above got her degree and is now teaching RE in a Catholic school.


Regarding the Seal of Confession, Adam Shaw has an excellent article here.

Friday, August 26, 2011

An Invitation To All Fraternity Members (And Friends Too!)

It is with bleary eyes I write this post - we had the St Genesius feast day celebrations last night - not that they were wild - oh no - we're very sedate and civilised when it comes to Fraternity celebrations.  Plenty of food of course - our caterers, the ordinary people of the Frat are the best when it comes to sarnies, cakes and lashings and lashings of ginger beer, well no, tea and coffee.

The Mass went well last night - we had a nice congregation, all who joined in the singing which is a plus in Ireland when most congregations tend to leave it to the choir.  During the Mass we had the blessing of the Oil of St Genesius and the Blessed Linen which had been touched to relics of the martyr.  These are made available to the faithful.  So one day next week will be a bottling day - the Councillors of the Frat love that! And then there will be cutting day - dividing the Blessed Linen.  All for Genesius - he had better appreciate it! 

As we noted last night, there is a busy year ahead: on the 19th January we mark our fifth anniversary, so we will be planning something to celebrate it.  We aim to go on pilgrimage to the tomb of St Genesius and the Holy Apostles in Rome, and I would like that to be a gathering of as many members of the Fraternity as possible.  So, to all you members around the world: will you come to Rome for these celebrations?  I am issuing an official invitation.

We have not decided dates yet, but it will probably be just after Easter.  The Council will be discussing such matters at their next meeting, so we will announce details as they become available.  But you might think about it.  We aim to have organised events/Masses at the tomb and various basilicas, and the General Audience with the Holy Father,  and these would be within the space of a few days, so groups coming from the various countries could visit other places besides the Fraternity gathering.  So if you were planning to come to Italy/Europe, this could be an opportunity.

And for your information, here are the countries in which we have members (in no particular order): Ireland, the US, the UK, Canada, India, Australia, Peru, Nigeria, Cameroon, Greece, Mexico, The Philippines, Portugal, South Africa, Malta and Israel.  If you are a member and your country is not listed here, let us know.  It would be great if we could get a representation from as many of these countries as possible. 

For those in the US, we have members in the following States, so pilgrimages could be organised among members in each State: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Ilinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusettes, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York City and State, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Vermot, Washington State, West Virginia and Wisconsin.  Phew!  The family of prayer is growing - so if you are not a member and you do not see your country/US State mentioned here - pop over to the Fraternity website and join the mission

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Feast Day Greetings

On behalf of the Council of the Fraternity, and my own behalf, I would like to extend to all the members of our family of prayer, and to all our friends, most particularly those working in theatre, cinema and the arts, every blessing and grace on this feast of St Genesius.  May our Holy Martyr be ever with you, intercede for your needs and bring you to the Heart of Jesus Christ, our refuge and strength.

A Mass for the feast day will take place in St Mary's Church, Drogheda, Co. Louth, this evening at 7.30pm, with refreshments afterwards in the parish centre.  All are welcome to attend.  We wish every blessing on the celebrations our members around the world are planning.

If you are not a member of the Fraternity you might consider joining our family of prayer - it only takes a simple prayer each day to be a member and that prayer may just change a life and be of great assistance to the Church.  See grades of membership hereSee application form here

This evening's ceremony will include the blessing of the Oil of St Genesius.  For those who have sent in requests for Oil over the last while, these requests will be answered after the blessing of the new Oil.

Novena 2011 Day 9

"He won the crown of martyrdom"

According to the ancient Acts, St Genesius was beheaded on this day for the sake of Jesus Christ who he proclaimed from the stage in the presence of the emperor.  We are told that "he won the crown of martyrdom".  In human terms we rarely think of suffering as a glory, as something which earns a crown. In the midst of pain, alienation, mental anguish perhaps, there us little, it seems, to suggest any vision of glory.  There are reasons for this. 

First, as in all things, we live and move in this life by means of faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ - faith is a darkness, a darkness which leads to a greater light, as St John of the Cross teaches us.  In embracing the cross of suffering, even martyrdom, the victim relies upon faith, and in this faith they are justified, comforted and brought to glory.  

Then, there is also love.  The martyr accepts death because he believes, but more - because he loves, and in the midst of the darkness this love is purified and made perfect as St Therese teaches us through her experience and teachings: the love of the martyr is a perfect love. 

Thirdly, the martyr truly embraces the sufferings of Jesus Christ, and Christ embraced his passion and death in the midst of darkness, as he himself tells us from the cross when he cried out "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"   But Christ entered this darkness so as to bring us to into the light - to make a way for the faithful to come to the vision of God.  The martyr imitates Christ in this, they embrace the darkness of martyrdom so those who look upon them and learn from them may see the light of truth and love.  This is why, as Tertullian tells us, "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church".  We can understand the martyr's death, then, to be a sacrifice offered to God for the sake of the Church, one united to, and a participation in the sacrifice of Christ from which the martyr's sacrifice receives its power, effect and significance.

And in the end, there is glory, the crown of martyrdom, a sharing in the beatific vision and the eternal life of the Crucified and Risen Christ.  And so the prayers of the martyrs are powerful, we can entrust our needs to them and see in the profession of faith, their witness, an example for us, a model for our daily lives where we may need to lay down our lives for Christ in many ways.  And, for those who live this "daily martyrdom", the martyrdom of the trials of life, with great fidelity, there is also a crown.   May St Genesius assist us as we seek to win this crown, not for our sake, but for Christ's.

Novena Prayer.  Our Father.  Hail Mary.  Glory be.

St Genesius, pray for us.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Prayer For The Faithful In China

In the midst of our Novena to St Genesius, let us remember the Church persecuted in many countries in the world.  But particularly let us pray for the faithful bishops, priests, religious and laity in China who resist the atheistic Communist party who try to force them to break communion with Christ's Church led by the successor of St Peter by joining the so called Patriotic "Catholic" Church.  News has come through that many faithful Catholics have been arrested.  I regret that in his defamatory attack on the person of the Holy Father and the Holy See, the present Taoiseach of Ireland has encouraged this brutal persecution of faithful Catholic men, women and children by the Chinese authorities.  We must pray for him, he has done more damage than he probably aimed to do and may have put the lives of innocent people at risk.  The last thing the Chinese need is encouragement.  How we must be wise and prudent when we open our mouths to speak: truly blind is the man who had not first considered the consequences of his speech.

Novena 2011 Day 8

According to the legend and the Acts, Genesius, having defended the faith, was handed over to the prefect by the emperor, who in turn handed him over to the torturers "to be given a very cruel beating with clubs, to compel him to offer sacrifice. He was hung on a rack and tortured by being torn with claws for a very long time; he was even set on fire with torches".    His martyrdom begins with this physical trial.  Though this was inflicted upon Genesius, suffering will have its place in all of our lives - none of us will escape it, it is part of life on this earth.  As the martyrs understood, it is the passion and death of Jesus which now gives significance to our suffering, and it is through the Lord's sufferings we are given the grace to endure.  Through the intercession of St Genesuis, may the Lord grant us and all who suffer this grace.

Novena Prayer.   Our Father.   Hail Mary.   Glory be.

St Genesius, pray for us

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Novena 2011 Day 7

The Lord's parable of the generous employer who pays those who came last to work in his vineyard the same as those who came first, is in a sense echoed in the St Genesius's profession of faith as preserved in the Acts.  "I have come rather late to adore the true King", he says, it seems with some regret - so much time wasted, but yet the Lord does not refuse him.  Deathbed conversions are rare - we would be careful not to have to rely on them, but they happen and the Lord is merciful.  We should strive to bring those we know who have not yet embraced Christ to come to know him.  Concerning ourselves, those words of St Genesius ring home with a certain truth - when we realise all that he has done for us, that we had not converted sooner can be a reproach we may accuse ourselves of.  What we do we?  Ask for mercy, love Christ and do what we can to serve him as well as we can today.

Novena Prayer.    Our Father.  Hail Mary.  Glory be.

St Genesius, pray for us.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Novena 2011 Day 6

When we come to know who Christ is and what he has done for us, the only true response is that of adoration and thanksgiving.  Though it may be a struggle at first, we realise that we must come to love him, for he loved us so much he laid down his life for us.  This is what St Genesius is brought to understand following his conversion.  In the midst of his pain and suffering he proclaims: "There is no king other than He whom I saw; I adore and worship Him".   May that prayer be ours most particularly in the difficulties and sufferings in life. 

Novena Prayer.   Our Father.  Hail Mary.  Glory be.

St Genesius, pray for us.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Novena 2011 Day 5

"Who do the people say I am?"  Jesus asks this question of his apostles before he comes to ask them who they think he is.  The Lord wants to see if it has dawned on them yet that is the promised Messiah.  The people do not yet know - Elijah, John the Baptist, one of the prophets come back from the dead. But Peter knows, Peter believes and he confesses his faith in Jesus: "You are the Christ" he says.  He, like the others, has yet to come to know who the Christ is, but he knows that the one standing before him is the Son of the Living God.   As we read the Acts of St Genesius we hear a similar declaration of faith in Jesus Christ.  Addressing Diocletian, the actor says: "Now, therefore, distinguished Emperor, and all you peoples who laugh at these mysteries, join me in believing that Christ is the true Lord, that he is Light, that he is Truth, that he is Love, and that through him you can attain forgiveness."    Like Peter, it was not flesh and blood which revealed this truth to Genesius, it was God himself.  So too with all of us.  If we wish to know who Jesus Christ is, we must open our hearts to the work of the Holy Spirit.  Ultimately it is in the context of a personal relationship that Jesus reveals himself to us - that is why he puts such an important emphasis on faith.  May that faith be ours.  "Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief."

Novena Prayer.   Our Father.     Hail Mary.   Glory be.

St Genesius, pray for us

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Novena 2011 Day 4

In his farce, Genesius was playing the part of an old sick man crying out for baptism.  "I wish to receive the grace of Christ" his character proclaimed, "through which I may be reborn and freed from the ruin of my iniquities".  Commentators have seen that Genesius was not entirely in his role when uttering these words, but rather revealing the desire which was in his heart.    He would have learned something about grace in his instruction with the Christians, particularly the grace of baptism through which we are reborn into the life of Jesus Christ.  In all our hearts there is the desire to be set free from the ruin of our iniquities - the fruit of original sin which we see every day.  Knowing this, Jesus has given us the sacraments, through which he pours grace into our lives to renew us, strengthen us and transform us.  As his followers we must make use of these channels of grace for in them we encounter Christ.  In these days of the novena, under the inspiration of our actor saint, we give thanks for the sacraments and if we have fallen away from any of them, particularly confession, return to them.

Novena Prayer.   Our Father.    Hail Mary.    Glory be.

St Genesius, pray for us

Friday, August 19, 2011

Novena 2011 Day 3

‘Hear, O Emperor, and all the army, wise men and peoples of this city.'   Following his conversion on stage, Genesius addressed himself to the emperor and those present in order to speak to them of Christ and what he had done for all humanity in his death and resurrection.  Genesius tells them that he too hated Christianity, holding it and its adherents in scorn, but the washing of water and the vision he has had has brought him to the truth.   As Christians, learning from Genesius's example, but also heeding the words of the Lord to go out into the whole world, we too must address the state, civil society and the world of academia - the modern emperors, armies, wise men and women and people of the cities.  Christianity, even though it is mocked and despised, must not be hidden under a bucket, but must be proclaimed first and foremost through our lives.   Christ is the light of the world, we know this through our own faith and our personal encounter with him - we must strive to do what we can to help others to a personal encounter with their Lord and Saviour.  Today, let us pray for courage to do so.

Novena Prayer.   Our Father.     Hail Mary.     Glory be.

St Genesius, pray for us

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Novena 2011 Day 2

The story of St Genesius, as given to us in the ancient acts, tells us little about the man and his life.  We have no personal details beyond that of his being an actor and comedian, and that there was some trouble in his family.  We are told that he hated the Christian faith and that members of his family were Christians, indeed some accounts say his parents.  Perhaps his hatred the faith came about because his parents were Christians and there were difficulties with them.  He was not the first, nor even the last, to have difficulties with family members.  Before his death was there a reconciliation?  We do not know, but certainly in his heart he would have found peace and reconciliation thanks to the power of God's grace.  May those families which need the grace of reconciliation find it through the prayers of St Genesius.  If any of us need to be reconciled with anyone, may we find the grace to affect it.

Novena Prayer.    Our Father.    Hail Mary.    Glory be.

St Genesius, pray for us.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Novena 2011 Day 1

The legend of St Genesius tells us that he was converted on stage, a man touched by the Holy Spirit and brought to faith in Christ.   In times of great difficulty, times like these, we must also remember that the same Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, is never far from us, rather He surrounds us, seeking to open our hearts to grace.  May we learn from this Saint of the stage, that we must nurture a confidence in the presence and help of the Holy Spirit and to remember the words of the Lord: "I am with you always, yes, even until the end of time."

Novena Prayer.   Our Father.  Hail Mary.  Glory be.

St Genesius, pray for us.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Don't Forget!!

The annual novena to St Genesius begins tomorrow.  It will lead to his feastday on the 25th August.  We will have a big Mass in Drogheda for the feast.   Here is a link to the novena prayers.  If you are granted any favours please let us know.  You will all be remembered in the Fraternity prayers.


Speaking of Irish Jesuits.  Overheard in a conversation between an Irish Jesuit priest and a Church of Ireland woman minister, on the subject of the ordination of women:

Jesuit: "It's the future really and the Catholic Church is moving slowly towards it; we'll get there eventually.  Pope Benedict supports it, he's way ahead of a lot of them.  His visit to England was great, he confounded the critics."

No, your eyes are not deceiving you.  It seems, according to this Irish Jesuit priest who was worshipping the Lady Vicar, Pope Benedict fully supports the ordination of women.  The Jesuits are not what they used to be. 


A busy weekend in the parish, culminating last evening with the last of the Cemetery devotions - two cemeteries in Rathkenny.  It was raining pretty badly, so we all offered penance for the Holy Souls.   Hence the absence for the last few days.

Lots of feasts this week  - biggie, for course, yesterday - the Assumption of Our Lady into heaven.  A beautiful feast, it strikes terror into the hearts of teachers and students - schools are getting to open up again.  Today in Carmel we celebrate the feast of Blessed Maria Sagrario of St Aloysius Gonzaga, a Spanish Carmelite sister who was a high-flyer in the world - she was one of the first women in Spain to qualify as a pharmacist.   She entered Carmel in Madrid in 1915, was solemnly professed in 1920 and elected prioress in 1927.  After a stint as novice mistress from 1930 on, she was re-elected prioress on the 1st July 1936.  On the 20th July the community had to disband and seek refuge as Spanish republicans began their persecution of the Church.  She managed to spirit the sisters away but was caught herself and she was shot for the crime of being a Catholic on the 15th August 1936.  

But today is also the anniversary of the death of Fr Willie Doyle, SJ, on this day in 1917 he was blown up on the battlefield in Ypres, Belgium as he was ministering to soldiers.  His body was completed destroyed.   He was a holy priest who impressed all who knew him - a great model for the priesthood today for his selfless dedication and personal virtue.  But it seems the Irish Jesuits must not agree - there is no Cause for him yet anyway.  But then again he's Irish, we tend not to do Causes here, we keep them to a minimum.   I wonder, would the bishop of the diocese in Belgium in which he died consider opening his Cause?  They like saints in France, even though its more secular than Ireland.   Check out the blog of one of Fr Willie's fans, and spread the word among your friends.  Help Ireland, give her saints! 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Can They Handle The Truth?

There is a bit of a storm brewing at the moment in Ireland with regard to the forthcoming report on Child abuse in the diocese of Raphoe.  The Church's own investigative organisation and the HSE are due to release their findings into the way the diocese dealt with accusations. 

A report in the Irish Independent claims that the reports will reveal that hundreds of children were abused by priests.  The bishop of Raphoe, Dr Philip Boyce has refuted the newspaper's claims as exaggerated, and, as expected, he is being condemned from the heights by the usual suspects who have now suddenly rediscovered their voices after their temporary bout of chronic laryngitis around the time of the revelations about Senator David Norris.  Reading some reactions to his intervention I see one person dismisses the bishop and tells us that the Church is constantly trying to hide the truth.  Interesting.....

I do not know what is in the reports, we will have to wait and see.  If Bishop Boyce is incorrect and hundreds were abused he has certainly made himself a hostage to fortune, but then he could also be correct. We cannot, however, presume he is lying.  The question of truth, however, is very topical.  But I would like to ask of our liberal secularists and anti-Church critics what they mean by truth?  As Pilate said to the Lord: "Truth? What is that?" 

I ask this because it is almost certain that their definition of truth is not that which is found in the Oxford English Dictionary which is the definition the Church tends to go along with.  You see if it was then the secular media would not be making a distinction between child abuse by priests and child abuse by others.  If it was then the celebrity would get the same grilling as the priest and those who protect abusers regardless of who they are or their sexual orientation would all be treated the same.  But that is not the way it seems.  If you are a celebrity, a liberal or gay there is another set of rules for you, there are lots and lots of excuses which will be offered for your behaviour, or if they can't come up with any, then they just won't cover the story and try to kill it. 

In response to this I have other questions: what about the victims?   Is the victim of a non-clerical abuser somehow less important?  Is their pain and suffering not enough to spark a rage?  I try to imagine (though to be honest I cannot because it has not happened to me and I dare not presume to undermine their suffering by pretending to understand) how these victims feel when the media excuse or cover up their abusers or even defend them?  Or when they interview these abusers with the deepest respect and understanding and treat them as if they were the victims of right-wing conservatives?  How do these victims feel when their abusers court national sympathy as "victims of homophobia" and those who protect them are considered fit to hold the highest office in the land? 

It seems to me that, for all their pontificating about the Catholic Church and truth, the liberal secularists and Irish media need to listen to their own diatribe and implement it themselves.  In this sordid affair of child abuse, truth is the last thing they are interested in.

In relation to this, this is a deeply disturbing story emerging from Hollywood with regard to paedophilia.  Corey Feldman, a former child star, has spoken about the prevalence of paedophilia in the film industry and seems to suggest that the tragic suicide of fellow actor Corey Haim was related to his being abused by people in the industry. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

To Sing, Or Not To Sing?

One of the big issues which has dominated liturgy in the last forty years has been that of "active participation" on the part of the laity.  In its name we have seen all sorts of shenanigans and the emergence of various abuses.   We have seen laity invade the sanctuary, take over what the priest should be doing often with the priest's consent and introduce all sorts of gimmicks into the Holy Mass.  Thankfully these things may be on their way out as one generation of priest pass away and another, younger generation are ordained and are ready to nip the bud and restore decorum to the sacred liturgy - the new translation of the Mass will help that.

I was reading a very interesting post on Fr Longenecker's blog about this thing of "active participation", and it is well worth a read.  Here is a question which it might well be heresy to ask these days: do we really have to get the congregation singing?  Yes, it is wonderful when they do, but does it upset some great eternal plan, as Tevye would say, if they don't - can we not just have a good choir who ornaments the liturgy with good, orthodox, sacred music?  Is it not better than our people are praying and entering into the mystery of the Holy Sacrifice and not lament about their refusing to get up on the seats, clap their hands and praise Jesus for coming down the mountain?  After all, the Church survived for 1,960 years or so without congregational singing being imposed and it still produced saints and holy people who loved the Mass.

Perhaps, without getting into panic and running around the church before Mass and getting people up to the ambo to wave their hands around like the tote, we might just look to enhance our choirs and concentrate on a renewal of sacred music and traditional hymns.  Maybe the congregation will join in and maybe not - no panic.  A few thoughts.  Read Fr Longenecker's post and think about it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

London Burning

London is quiet again after the riots of the last few nights.  With 16,000 police on the streets last night the vandals didn't take a chance on rioting or looting in the capital, though the same cannot be said for young thugs in other cities in England.   I was watching Newsnight last evening and a panel was trying to figure out what was the cause of this dreadful behaviour.  As expected there were two quasi apologists who blamed society, the lack of funding and few opportunities: young people frustrated and rejected resort to violence in order to be heard.   That raised the shackles of some of the other panelists and if it wasn't for the host we might have had a riot in the BBC studios (no harm maybe!).

Well I have to say I agree in part with the "quasi-apologists" - there are many deprived people in London, as in many other cities in the world including Dublin, and deprivation and injustice can lead people to desperate measures.  However one has to also bear in mind that we are not dealing with a subspecies of human being - those engaged in this senseless violence in England are intelligent human beings (for the most part) and so their turning to mindless violence, thuggery and theft is not completely due to deprivation - there is something more.  When you look at social policies in the UK and other European countries you see a tremendous amount of resources and time going into disadvantaged social groups.  You see "minorities" receiving grants and special projects and even subject to "positive discrimination" in order to help them, but they still remain disadvantaged, still victims.  One has to ask why with all that we still see scenes like those in England?

Part of the reason for these riots, I believe, is the breakdown of morality and responsibility.  This generation, and the generation before them, have grown up with relativism and have been told that whatever they think is right is right - they have to honour their own truth.  Programmes have sought to instill a sense of self-affirmation, but in a way which has diluted responsibility and the moral imperative.  These youngsters do not know that they owe society a debt and must play their part in building it up - for them society owes them and so they nurse a grievance which turns to violence very easily when they do not get what they want: they do not have the moral resources to question themselves nor perhaps even the desire to serve others, and yet as responsible human beings this is part of life.  All of this emerges from the dilution of Christian values in the UK and other places, and so, in a sense, this rioting is the child born of anti-religious secularisation.

Another reason is the breakdown of family life and authority.  So imbued with the sense of their own autonomy, these young people do not accept any form of authority, and certainly not the rule of law as represented by the police.  Liberal attempts to transfer power and rights over children from the family to the state have neutered the family and with it destroyed the forum within which children learn to become moral and social beings.  While the state may put countless policies and measures in place to care for these children, and sometimes these are necessary for children in situations where their parents cannot or will not look after them properly, these measures cannot replace a father and a mother and the lessons they teach their children in the context of loving relationships.  A child growing up in a family must come to honour his parents and in this way develop a proper understanding of authority, of its place in society and the need to respect it.  Parents should give a human and loving face to authority, and when that is understood by the child, they do not harbour an automatic hatred of authority in the world.  They will need discernment of course, but they will not resort to violence as soon as an authority says "no" to them.

That said there are injustices in society and many are suffering from them.  But responsible human beings, and I am not even talking about religious people, will respond in a civilised way.  And here, I think we come to the issue: what we are seeing in these riots is the breakdown of civilisation - we have a young generation who have not been civilised - they are the modern equivalent of the barbarian - although the barbarian did have some values.  As post-modern ideology has sought to re-mould society and human beings in it attempts to establish a new world order, here it is on the streets of London.  Alasdair MacIntyre's prophecy in After Virtue is coming true: we are entering the Dark Ages where civilisation will collapse.  The social experiment has failed and now we have to pay the price.

But there is hope and that hope, I believe, is to be found in faith and in the Church.  MacIntyre says in his book that in the Middle Ages St Benedict, his order emerged and they preserved Western civilisation - the Church of the Dark Ages was not that of the Enlightenment philosophers's myth, but one which a repository for all that is good in human culture - she may need to be again.   As for those young people, well we will have to give them to Don Bosco, and seek to find ways to reach them: that is the job of the New Evangelisation, and watching the images of rioting and violence, you realise how big a task lies ahead of us.  But as Jesus says, for God all things are possible, so I suppose we just listen to Him, push the sleeves up and stuck in!

UPDATE: Just surfing the net to catch up on news.  Fr Tim Finigan has a wonderful blog post on the riots.  He is in Blackfen in London, so he's in the middle of it all.  He has some insights to share not unlike my own, but he has a bit of humour too and it has made my day!  I love what the rep from Waterstones had to say about the riots:   "We'll stay open; if they steal some books they might learn something!"  Excellent! Though I imagine Waterstones would be the safest shop in the city!   But Fr Finigan's own observation is priceless: "Witty, but to the point when you consider that in Peckham the Pound Shop was looted (seriously!) If only there were footage of someone swaggering triumphantly down Elm Grove waving a five-pack of sellotape and a bumper bag of wine gums."

Back To Life

Here is an interesting story concering a child actress who, it seems, was dying, but came back to health after being baptised.  The young girl collapsed after filming a walk-on part in a Harry Potter movie.  She was put on life support, but the doctors saw no hope and told the parents she was dying.  Even though they were Catholic it seems they never had her baptised even though she was already thirteen.  They decided to have her baptised, but when the priest poured the water on her head she reacted and began to recover.  Let's hope this event will influence the young girl and her family and bring them closer to the Church.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

London Riots

We have had news from Fraternity members in London and they are asking our prayers for them and the people of London and England in these dreadful days.  As far as we know all members there are safe, though for two the riots came very close to their homes. 

These riots are criminal: far from being a protest against the shooting of Mark Duggan in Tottenham, they are just a wild rampage intent on looting and causing as much damage as possible.  Let us also remember the police who are trying to protect the innocent.

St Edith, The Bridge Builder

Today is the feast of St Edith Stein, or St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross as she is known in Carmel.  Here in Europe we celebrate her feast as a patron of the continent.  Yesterday reflecting on Blessed Clemens von Galen we saw great courage in a bishop who put his life on the line to preach the truth and condemn the anti-human and anti-Christian beliefs and practices of Nazi tyranny.  Today we celebrate the life and witness of another who stood up to Nazi oppression albeit in a different way.

There are many things in St Edith's life which merit deep reflection.  The story of her conversion rivals that of St Augustine and Blessed John Henry Newman.  Her difficult journey to faith is marked by graces and intellectual triumphs which brought her to the autobiography of St Teresa of Avila which led her to finally submit to Christ. 

Her intellectual life and contribution to philosophical thought also demand our attention, though she is difficult to read and her writings may not be accessible to many.  There are scholars who believe that she was the one who put shape on Edmund Husserl's philosophy, phenomenology.  Her writings on women and their role not only in the Church, but in life, are revolutionary and challenge the atheistic radical feminism which has reduced women to a parody of men.  St Edith's work here needs to be studied and may indeed form a firm foundation for a theology of womanhood.

However it was her death which was the most glorious moment of her life.  As a Jewish woman - a Jewishness she did not lose with her conversion but, as she constantly reminded people, a Jewishness which came into its own with her embracing Christ - she came to share in her people's fate offering her life in union with Christ for their sake.  "Let us go for the sake of our people" she said to her sister Rosa when they were arrested: Edith understood what she was being called to do: to suffer with her people, with the Chosen People who, under atheistic Nazis, were sharing in the cross of martyrdom.  St Edith, like Christ, is a bridge between Judaism and Christianity, and so too her death.  She was martyred for being Jewish and for being Christian, and so we rightly honour her as a martyr.  But we must also see, through her, the martyrdom of her people and this martyrdom of the Jews we must also honour: they died for the Old Covenant - a people whose very existence as the Chosen People aggravated atheistic Nazism.  I believe in order to understand the assault on faith by the Nazis we must link the martyrdom of Jews and Christians - the Old and New Covenants - as, in a sense, one martyrdom in which we see atheistic materialism's attack on faith and its attempt to wipe God from the face of the world and from the hearts of its peoples.

This assault continues today, and so St Edith's life and death has an important message for us.  First she teaches us that we must trust in God - he knows what he is doing and so we must abandon ourselves to his will.  Secondly she sought to fulfil her vocation even in the midst of an assault on her faith - she let nothing disturb her as St Teresa teaches us.  Thirdly, when she heard the call to a radical offering she embraced it immediately.  Her life of prayer and dedication to the God of her ancestors, to Christ, gave her the freedom to go.  She was prepared to make an oblation of her life for the sake of her God and her people. 

In these difficult times, may St Edith assist us and help prepare us for whatever God will ask of us even if it means embracing the cross for his sake and for the sake of our brothers and sisters, and yes, even for the sake of our enemies - that they may not be lost.

Blessed Clemens von Galen

Some more stuff on Blessed Clemens von Galen.  Here is a video with footage and photographs including footage of his return to Germany as cardinal, together with a recording of his last sermon - in German with no translation, but listening to the power of his voice no translation is necessary.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Silence Is Not An Option

I received a wonderful gift when I returned from holiday, a most precious gift: a relic of the great cardinal, Blessed Clemens August Graf von Galen, Adolf Hitler's courageous foe during the Nazi era in Germany.  The relic is a large portion of bone - a very generous portion in comparison with the normal ex ossibus relics usually given out by Postulators and Congregations.  It came at the right time for me as I am praying and trying to come to terms with recent developments in Ireland and the attacks on the Pope and the Vatican, and the lack of any decent response.  The relic will take its place beside my statue of St John Fisher on my desk and will probably get a kiss with John Fisher whenever I am tempted to complain about the inaction and failures of bishops. 

Blessed Clemens von Galen was the son of a noble German family, his aristocratic roots were marked on his personality and as a child and young man he was difficult to deal with because of a confidence which his teachers called "infallible".  This, confidence, once he had advanced in virtue, would be to his credit and was used in the service of the Church and the persecuted when dealing with Hitler and his cronies.  For all his "infallibility", he was known for his pure living and it was after meeting Pope Leo XIII that he decided to enter the service of the Church.  He was ordained a priest for the diocese of Munster in 1904.

He was appointed bishop of Munster in 1933, and though all not in the Church agreed with his appointment, events in Germany soon revealed that he was the right man for the job. From the start of his episcopate he preached against the doctrines of the Nazis.  He insisted that Catholic parents should keep their children as far as they could from the indoctrination the Nazis were bringing to the education system.  He also railed against their racist ideology.

Following the outbreak of war, when the Nazi euthanasia campaign become known, Blessed Clemens preached a series of sermons attacking the practice.  He condemned the Gestapo, and exposed what was happening in the concentration camps.  His sermons were secretly printed and distributed all over Germany and Europe.  He inspired Sophie Scholl and the other members of the White Rose resistance group in Munich - their first pamphlet was one of his sermons.  For his heroism he became known as the "Lion of Munster".

The bishop was at this stage one of the Hitler's greatest critics and a painful thorn in the Fuhrer's side.  The Nazis were determined to murder him, but instead they kept him under virtual house arrest - they did not manage to silence him: his words were setting Germany and Europe on fire, revealing the full extent of Nazism's crimes.   He survived the war, it seems almost miraculous that he did.  However he had suffered a great deal and the greatest pain was the realisation that many of his priests had suffered and had been killed by the Nazis in retaliation for his own heroic stance. 

His work was not yet done.  Blessed Clemens was fair minded and condemned wrongs regardless of who was committing them: following the Nazi downfall, he saw atrocities being committed by Germany's British and Russian occupiers and he was quick to speak.   Now it was the turn of the British to persecute him: for his words they took away his car and hampered his carrying out of his episcopal duties.  The press, however, listened to him and though the British tried to silence him, he was too well known and admired to be gagged.  He was determined to continue to defend his people from any oppressor.

In December 1945 Pope Pius XII announced that he was conferring the red hat on Bishop von Galen for his heroic defence of the Church and his people in the face of tyranny.  Deeply touched the bishop saw the honour as a sign of love for the innocent German people who had endured and who continued to endure great sufferings.  The British objected to the honour and when they could not stop Pius, they tried to prevent the bishop from getting to Rome for the consistory, but he got to the Eternal City all the same.  In an emotional ceremony on the 21st February 1946, the "Lion of Munster" was created cardinal in St Peter's Basilica.

He spent some time in Rome visiting friends, and returned to Germany on the 16th March.  Tens of thousands came out to see him and to hear him speak.  In his words to them the new cardinal insisted that as a bishop it was his duty to speak clearly and plainly about what was happening: in the face of oppression and when the Church is being attacked, silence for a bishop is not an option.

Few realised that the cardinal was gravely ill.  Three days later, on the 19th March, he was operated on, but to no avail.  He died suddenly on the 22nd March 1946 just a month after being created cardinal.  He was buried in the von Galen family crypt.   His Cause was opened in 1956 and he was beatified on 9th October 2005.  
At this present time we are the anvil, not the hammer! Remain steadfast and firm like the anvil receiving all the blows that rain down on us, in loyal service to our people and country, but also ready at any time to act, in the spirit of supreme sacrifice, in accordance with the precept: “Men must obey God more than men.”
Blessed Clemens von Galen, Sermon 20th July 1941

A Time To Pray

There were more revelations about David Norris in yesterday's newspapers.  Both the Mail on Sunday and the Sunday Times released more information on the senator's life and work in promoting homosexualism and its attendant fetishes.  The whole story is getting even more sordid and disgusting, see David Quinn's blog for a good summary.  I was tipped off to these stories by a friend, so I watched the news last night and listened to the radio news, but not a dickie bird: RTE have conveniently ignored these new revelations which, to be honest, are very serious.  Typical Soviet-style journalism: keep them in the dark and feed them only what we want them to know.

These recent revelations, and I believe there are more even more shocking ones to come, reveal a man who is, in my opinion, very disturbed and badly in need of help.   Even a victim of abuse has gone on record in the Mail on Sunday saying he needs help.  Prayer should be part of that, so we must really keep David Norris in our prayers - whatever wound he carries in his life, it seems to be deep and painful seeing as he harboured a desire as a child to be molested. There is more to be gained by turning a heart than attacking in controversy - that is the Christian way.  David Norris has many natural gifts and talents and he can be a very affable and entertaining man: grace can do a lot with such natural gifts.  If Oscar Wilde can turn, and he did, dying as a Catholic repentant for the sins of his life, so can Norris.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Criminal Hypocrisy Of Liberal Ireland

Coming back from my First Friday calls I was listening to Newstalk radio's lunchtime show.  One of the items concerned a poll on the upcoming Presidential election, one taken in the light of recent events surrounding Senator David Norris.  It seems, according to the poll, that while two thirds of those polled (from a sample of 800) agreed he did the right thing in stepping down, a majority would still have considered voting for him if he had decided to continue his campaign.  I almost drove the car into a ditch I was so furious.

Away on holiday I was getting regular updates regarding the Cloyne Report, I have blogged some reactions to that.  Then suddenly the updates changed to the David Norris affair where it was revealed that he had used his office as a Senator of the Republic to plead for clemency for his gay lover who was convicted of statutory rape.  More then came out  - how Norris, by his own admission, failed to be completely upfront with  Irish Immigration authorities who were investigating his lover's presence in the country.  He misled them in a manner which, if it concerned other people, he himself would call Jesuitical.  All this after another incident in which an interview he gave ten years ago was re-released into the public forum in which he expresses views on paedophilia which are, at the very least, deeply worrying.

Yet, unlike the bishops and priests who committed similar actions and covered up, rather than becoming the next pariah of the country, the media, the liberal luvvies and politicians are rushing to his defence.  The media are desperately trying to be balanced, and even trying to ignore the stories.  The gay lobby are howling "Homophobes" at all who are shocked at the senator's behaviour and some of them are vowing to get revenge on the young man who exposed the senator's letter pleading for clemency, which is not only appalling in its trivialising the crime of child abuse but is also an unbelievable piece of self aggrandisement on Norris's part.  Apparently, according to some journalists there are other skeletons in Norris's closet, one wonders if they will see the light of day?

I also notice that over at Wikipedia there is a debate going on on the discussion page of the article on Norris's former lover.  He is Ezra Nawi, a prominent pro-Palestinian activist. It seems some contributors have been trying to update the article on Nawi to include his conviction for statutory rape, but the editors/administrators won't allow it - they say there is no evidence.  If you go to the site you'll see that there is an effort to protect this man too by not including his misdemeanours.   Nawi himself believes Norris has been the victim of a dirty tricks campaign.

Well, rather than rant and give in to the devil's temptation to err against charity, I refer you to two excellent pieces in the newspapers today by two journalists who rise above the hypocrisy of the media in Ireland today: a criminal hypocrisy if you ask me.   John Waters has been on the radio the last few days and has spoken about this, his column in the Irish Times today sums up his excellent arguments.  David Quinn is the foremost defender of the Church, and sometimes its critic: when bishops fall silent and fail to teach and speak up, David does so.  His column in the Irish Independent sums up his position on the Norris case, as always excellently argued.

Of course all of this has happened before.  As liberal Ireland, politicians, media etc howl for Catholic blood, they also ignored the questionable actions of a gay poet on his jaunts overseas.  A young filmmaker exposed his particular little habits and it was she, not him, who was condemned in the press: another "homophobe" for the gay hysterics.

The fact that many in Ireland would still vote for Senator Norris sends a very clear message to those who work to prevent and expose child abuse in Ireland today and it is not a good message.  While liberal Ireland, and perhaps many in mainstream Ireland, attack the Church for its abysmal record in this regard - now, hopefully, a thing of the past, they are quite prepared to revise their values and expel their indignation when it comes to others. 

Child abuse is a serious problem in Ireland: we have not even scratched the surface - the abusers in the Church have been found as have their protectors - and thank God for that.  But the vast majority of abusers in Irish society, and their many protectors, have not been found yet and, I fear, if the Norris affair is anything to go by, they will never be found.  Why?  Because we all know them; they are everywhere, even in the upper echelons of Irish society.  Some are even paragons of secular virtue and liberal "holiness".  And by God, Ireland and her media will do everything to keep them safe: only the Church will be thrown to the wild animals (not the first time for that): scapegoat.

By the way, the very vocal, indignant Taoiseach has been very quiet on the whole Norris issue.  I wonder why?

UPDATE:   According to another article in the Irish Independent today, it seems Senator Norris has now been exposed as trying to rally support for his former lover from parliamentary colleagues without informing them of the man's criminal record.  See article here.