Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Pius's Cause "Blocked"?

I sometimes wonder when the Holy Father is interviewed if what he actually said is reported or, if it is, are there difficulties in translation, or the Holy Father uses obscure or incorrect words by mistake, or is it the case that what he said and what he meant has been communicated accurately and correctly?  I am asking these questions again following his recent interview in which he is said to have said that the Cause of the Venerable Pius XII is "stalled" or, as the Times of Israel would have it, "blocked". One of the things I do miss when it comes to this papacy is the clarity of Pope Benedict; when he spoke you knew what he was saying, even though the press often misreported what he said.

Anyway, I have to wonder at talk of Pius's Cause being "blocked" or "stalled". The initial report said that Francis, answering a question on the current status of the Cause, said there was no miracle and so the Cause was stalled. Now, to be honest, I do not want to contradict the Holy Father (if that is what he said), but I do not think "stalled" is a word I would use when it comes to the progress of a Cause, and certainly not of a recent Cause. And certainly not of one in which at least one alleged favour is reported to be under investigation at Diocesan level. We could say stalled if a Cause has been waiting on a miracle for a long time and no sign of a favour. For example the new Saints he canonised, their Causes may have said to have stalled since there was no sign of a miracle for Blessed Peter Faber or Blessed Angela of Foligno. I presume it was because their Causes had stalled he used his prerogative to canonise them.

What is more interesting was what the Holy Father said next: "I can't think of whether I will beatify him or not". What does that mean? Now remember he was coming back from a trip to the Middle East, and had just left Israel after a successful trip but having made a gesture that may well cause problems between the Church and the State of Israel in the months to come - the Holy Father's spontaneous stop at the Israeli security wall and praying at it as if at the Western Wall. That offended many Israelis, and I can only presume that he did not want to offend them again by saying he will beatify Pius. So, maybe, he ducked. 

As we have come to expect, the Holy Father's response is intriguing if not clear. I would certainly hope that when a miracle comes and if he is still on the Chair of Peter he will beatify Pius - to do otherwise could be interpreted as a political move, and certainly it would be hard to defend such a decision, not when the historical record with regard to Pius's position in World War II has been clarified and the evidence supporting his heroic efforts to save Jews is there even if his critics refuse to engage with it.  In saying what he said, is the Holy Father wondering whether or not to dispense the need for a miracle and beatify Pius, is he mulling over the possibility? Certainly that would confirm rumours coming from Vatican sources. Pope Francis seems to have a less administrative approach to Causes, he likes to dispense and it seems this may well be a norm for him in this pontificate.

Well, I think Francis should not worry about what to do, to dispense or not to dispense. I don't think he should dispense the need for a miracle for Pius, but rather allow the Cause proceed as per the administrative process. I say this for two reasons in particular. First beatification and canonisation are not the gift of a pontiff, they are a confirmation of what God himself has already done and made clear to the Church on earth; they are, in a sense, the expression of the will of God. The process is there to study the life and virtue of a person and then seek confirmation from God as to whether they are to be glorified.  The Pope can dispense, but in my opinion it should be done rarely, it must not become the norm, and when it is done it should be done for good reasons that most, if not all, the faithful can understand. 

Secondly, given that Pius's beatification will create controversy, I think it is best that it comes in response to a bona fide miracle. To beatify him without one will leave him and his Cause open to another avenue of attack, and we have enough of those to deal with. Let the Cause proceed normally, and when the miracle comes, beatify.  Someone said to me recently that there now seems to be two levels of Blesseds/Saints: those who worked miracles and are beatified/canonised in a ceremony, and those who don't and are beatified/canonised in the office. I'm not sure where to go with that one, but if there is a danger that Pius be seen as a lesser Saint because he was dispensed the miracle it would not be good. 

When the confusion created by his critics has been cleared up, the world has to see that there is much more to the man and the pontiff which is of relevance to the People of God in every age. Let his glorification come as a gift and a sign from God in God's time, as permitted by the process, so the eyes of the faithful can see the holiness of the man and not the controversy that has been created around him.  

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Holy Father In The Holy Land

The Holy Father begins his trip to the Holy Land today, let us keep him in our prayers. People have been concerned for his safety, and there are rising concerns about his overall health, so we need to pray for him. He has a very busy schedule.

This visit will be very important in terms of the Church's growing relationship with the Orthodox Churches, with Judaism and Islam. Marking the 50th anniversary of the Venerable Pope Paul IV's historic meeting with Patriarch Athenagoras which led to a great healing of wounds: those wounds have not yet been closed, much has yet to be done, but we are going in the right direction. Ut unum sint!

So let the Holy Father go with our prayers and support, may he receive many blessings on this pilgrimage and achieve much, and may he come home safe and sound. 

And may he take a few days rest when he comes home! I think he needs to get into the Castel Gandolfo thing, just get away from it all for a few days. Would it be a sin for his aides to bundle him into a car and drive him out to Castel Gandolfo and keep him there for a week for R&R? Does that fall under canon 1370? 

Anyway, may God the protect our Holy Father as he returns to the Holy City.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Caviar And Snails?

According to a news source it seems Pope Francis has been annoyed by some of the celebrations following the canonisation of St John Paul II and St John XXIII, but it was not the celebrations of the pilgrims on the streets. It seems there was a rather exclusive buffet held on the terrace of the Prefecture for Economic Affairs of the Holy See which cost the Holy See €18,000. I presume the Holy Father found out about it after the fact and he has every right to be annoyed. Someone is going to get a grilling, and rightly so.

Now there is no reason why there should not have been some sort of a celebration, the pilgrims were having a whale of a time after the ceremony - feasting is a necessary part of our Christian faith and the two new Saint-Popes were no prudes when it came to feasting. John Paul had a very sweet tooth and John XXIII, well, as he admitted himself, was a martyr to the ice cream. But I think there has to be prudence. I think a nice buffet could have been organised without costing the earth. That said, I presume caviar was not on the menu....

And in the name of prudence I was not impressed by hearing that a prominent Irish politician who forced through the recent abortion law cracking the party whip and trying to force people to violate their consciences should have been a guest of honour at one of the Irish celebrations following the canonisations. Such invitations tend to give an impression of approval even if not intended, and may actually hamper conversion as the erring person is led to think that everything is alright now when in reality it isn't. Some might even say that such an invitation may well be classed as scandal. I would veer towards that opinion myself.

My own celebration following the canonisation was simple and great. Our pilgrim group split up and we went off to various restaurants. I went to one of my favourite places as a treat, Da Luigi's, with my mother and some friends. On our way the Queen of Spain passed us in the car and waved out - that was nice. We had a lovely meal and my mother enjoyed herself - with all the illness in the family over the past couple of years (and with the worst still to come in the following weeks), it was a little respite for her. We need to look after our parents, they have been good to us and life is short. 

Later in the afternoon our pilgrims gathered at the monastery of a friend of mine who is a cloistered nun, and I offered Sunday Mass in the monastery church, invoking the new Saints in our prayers, and celebrating the Divine Mercy. I think that beats caviar!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Pope Excommunicates Head of "We Are Church"

I'm not sure if you heard this or not, but I'll blog on it. Pope Francis has excommunicated the president of "We Are Church", Austrian woman Martha Heizer and her husband Gert. Their local bishop tried to deliver the papal decree of excommunication but Frau Heizer refused to accept it. However, that makes no difference, the decree has taken effect.

Frau Heizer, it seems, as well as leading one of the most dissident groups in the Church, was simulating "Eucharistic celebrations" in her home, and it is this which has led to the excommunication. You can get the story here (in German), here (in French), and here (in Italian). At the time of writing no English language news network has reported on it, although one blogger has the story

We shall see how things pan out here. It goes without saying that we must pray for Frau Heizer, her husband and followers, that they will come to recognise the damage they are doing to the Body of Christ through their continual rebellion against orthodox teaching. Sadly this development has not come out of the blue, two years ago Frau Heizer made it known publicly that she was going to "celebrate Mass" even if it meant excommunication, apparently it was the Easter Mass she was going to simulate, so she knew this was coming. In her statement (see link below) she says she is shocked, however it could hardly have come as a surprise seeing as she knew the consequences of her actions. 

I imagine this development might further liberals gradual realisation that the Holy Father, for all his quirky ways, is in fact a faithful son of the Church. Does this action reveal more about what he will do following the Synod in October?  

Last year Pope Francis dismissed and excommunicated an Australian priest, Fr Greg Reynolds, for persistent support of the ordination of women.

UPDATE: The Catholic Herald has the story now. Frau Heizer has also issued a statement on the "We Are Church" website. I notice from her statement she tries to use the abuse crisis to cover over her own breach of communion - the media, if they report it, will probably run with that angle.

UPDATE 2: As expected, the media are reporting on the Church's "double standards".

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Being A Christian Today

Given how western society is becoming more secular and resentful towards Christianity, one of the questions many are asking today is how we can live our Christian life today. Well today in the Office of Readings there is an answer to that question, one which was written in the Second Century by a Christian disciple to a a man called Diognetus. It is as relevant today as it was then. It is worth reading:
Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign. 
And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them.* They share their meals, but not their marriage-beds.** 
They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law. Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they, rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life. They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can explain the reason for this hatred. 
To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen. The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any injury the soul has done it, but because of the restriction the soul places on its pleasures. Similarly, the world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong, but because they are opposed to its enjoyments. 
Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its members despite the body's hatred. It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together, and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together. The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; and Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink, so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the Christian’s lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself. 
* Exposing infants was infanticide, a common practice among the Greeks and pagans. If a child was born with a disability or was considered unfit for life, he or she was "exposed", put out in the wilderness to die from the elements or be eaten by wild animals. 

** Christians respect the vows of marriage and do not engage in sex with others, promiscuity was common in the Second Century as it is today.

Another Martyr Of The Confessional: St Mateo Correa

Today is the feast of St Christopher Magallanes and his companions, martyrs of Mexico, twenty-two priests and three laymen.  I have blogged on these martyrs before, or at least on one of them, St Toribio Romo who was martyred in front of members of his family in 1928.  Each of the twenty-five martyrs celebrated today have their own story and reveal that heroism which is be part and parcel of the Christian life.

Given issues we face today, I would like to highlight another of the martyrs from the group: St Mateo Correa Magallanes (no relation to St Christopher as far as I know). St Mateo was born in 1866 in Tepechitlan. In 1881 he entered seminary assisted by a scholarship for his fees. He was ordained priest in 1893. Among his appointments was parish priest of Concepcion del Oro and Colotlan. His claim to fame in these early years of his priesthood was his administering First Holy Communion to Blessed Miguel Pro on the 19th March 1898. At some point Fr Mateo joined the Knights of Columbus.When the government's persecution of the Church began in 1910, Fr Mateo went into hiding, as many did. Later, however, he took up an appointment as parish priest of Valparaiso in 1926.  

Before long he was arrested on charges of being in league with the Cristeros. It sees there was not enough evidence to convict him and he was released. However the authorities kept their eyes on him. His health also began to fail at this time and by the following year he was quite frail though he was still only 60. As he was on his way to bring Viaticum to a lady who was dying he was arrested again. He was once again charged with being part of the Cristero movement. The commander, General Eulogio Ortiz, who had him arrested had been furious at the priest's release the year before and this time he was intent on making the charges stick this time.

Fr Mateo was imprisoned to await trial. In the meantime a number of Cristeros were condemned to death, and the commander Ortiz asked the priest to hear the confessions of those about to die. This was later revealed not to an act of charity towards the condemned, but a ruse to get information from them as they were about to die. After Fr Mateo had heard their confessions, Ortiz ordered him to reveal what the Cristeros had confessed: Fr Mateo refused.  Putting a gun to the priest's head Ortiz told him if he did not reveal what was confessed he would be shot. Fr Mateo stood firm: the seal could not be broken. Furious, Ortiz ordered the priest's execution, and at dawn on the 6th February 1927 in a cemetery in Durango, Fr Mateo was shot through the head. Beatified in 1992, he was canonised in 2000 by St John Paul II.

St Mateo was a good, humble priest devoted to his flock. Among the martyrs today we find many other examples of good, holy men who sought simply to be faithful priests. May those martyr-saints, who now belong to all of us, not just to Mexico, watch over all our priests in these times and obtain from the Lord the graces we need to seek to be true to Christ and the Gospel.

Monday, May 19, 2014

(Alleged) RTE Bias Challenged

In recent years Irish state broadcaster RTE has been accused of political bias when it comes to presenting views its left wing employees tend not to like. Too often pro-life people, conservatives and Catholics, when invited on to debate find themselves vastly outnumbered on panels and the discussion usually charged against them. Many have accused RTE of group think and failing in objectivity. 

Well it seems RTE found itself in a little bit of bother last night as it tried to stage a debate in the Euro elections: it found it lost its grip in trying to control the proceedings. Here is an article summing up what happened - one of the candidates in the election, it seems, claims he was dragged off because he protested the state broadcaster's excluding him from the debate. This candidate is in fact blind. Following this is the protest issued by Euro candidate Ronan Mullen, while this was live on TV, RTE excised it (censored?) from its recording of the programme which was archived on its website. I believe the material has since been restored.

A spokesperson for RTE has defended the episode's redaction by claiming it was a "technical glitch" - that's one way of putting it.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

For Those Who Stand In Witness

The Hall of Remembrance

In Jerusalem there is a monument called Yad Vashem, it commemorates the victims of the Soah, that is the Holocaust - the murder of millions of Jewish men, women and children during the Nazi regime in Germany and German occupied Europe.  It is a poignant place where a fire burns as an eternal flame, and those who come to honour the dead are invited to stoke the fire as an act of commemoration. While we Catholics have our issues with the monument, particularly it's presentation of the role of the Venerable Pius XII during the Second World War (the full historical facts about the Pontiff and his efforts to save Jews have yet to be accepted), we do see the monument as an important place, a poignant reminder of great evil inflicted on a people, a place that urges the world to acknowledge and to ensure that such an evil should never happen again to any other people. 

There are those in the world who deny that the Holocaust happened, and those who downplay what happened. Most people in the world treat such people with contempt and some countries even hold such denials as a criminal act. So what would be the reaction if someone should say this: 
“In the past we have concentrated too much on the Holocaust. It mustn’t be this way because in the middle there’s real life which is constantly changing...I don’t identify with the expressionless person who stands at Yad Veshem stoking the flames, but with young people, who are still against this practice, but are instead fighting for quality of life, their health, their right to work.”
I'd imagine there would be an outcry, and rightly so. Such a statement would dishonour the dead, and the living who remember them. We cannot forget such events for to forget them may well lead us to repeat them.  The Jews rightly say "Never again". Indeed, "Never again" for anyone, regardless of who they are. 

Well, those words were not uttered with regard to the Shoah, but about another Holocaust, the murder of millions of innocent unborn children, one which is not a historical event, but is happening now in most countries around the world. You know who uttered these words and why. In presenting them as I did I want to show you how shocking they are, how removed from reality and from the thrust of the Gospel to reach out to the weak and suffering. Those who seek to defend the lives of the unborn threatened with abortion, those who risk their freedom praying outside abortion clinics, deserve better than to be dismissed. 

The struggle against abortion is not a minor issue on the social justice agenda, it is THE ISSUE. It is as important as poverty and jobs because it is tackling the legalised and systematic extermination of innocent human beings at the most vulnerable stage of their lives. Indeed it is at the top of the social justice agenda, because if we cannot defend the right to life, then our work for the poor and unemployed is selective and smacks of hypocrisy.  The defence of the unborn is the most heroic work because, unlike our work for the poor and marginalised (worthy as it is), it is not fashionable and not popular in the eyes of many today. It is work that makes one an outcast in the eyes of polite society, in the eyes of legislators and even in some jurisdictions, a criminal. Men and women, priests and religious, and not a few bishops, now have criminal records in some countries because they simply stood across the road from an abortion clinic and quietly prayed the rosary for the unborn dying that day, for the mothers and for the medical staff committing the act. 

None of our pastors should be embarrassed by these men and women, those who quietly stand in witness and in prayer, who stoke the flames to make the world aware of a new forgotten Holocaust, who remember and pray that the day will come when the people and governments of this world will weep and say "Never again". Our pastors from the Pope himself to the humblest deacon should commend them and pray for them, support them and learn from them. For in their silent testimony they stand like Christ before Pilate and they utter to the world: "Ecce Homo: here is the human person hidden in the womb who now endures a painful death with the approval of many in the world; and there are few who will speak up for them, defend them".

Let us all pray for the Pro-Life Cause, for our pastors that they may guide and support those involved in this work; for those who die in the abortion clinics of the world; for their mothers; for those who commit the act; for those who promote it; for those who legislate for it; for those who think, mistakenly, that this most grave evil is a good.  We pray for those who should understand, but don't. We call upon the mercy of God and the intercession of Our Lady and the Saints.

For further reflection on this issue see Edward Peter's article and SPUC's John Smeaton

Friday, May 16, 2014

"Get Ready For The Adventure"

There are two types of Irish person, I think. The first is the home-bird, and comprises the majority of Irish men and women. They are attached to the local place and if they venture too far away they get homesick and want to get back as soon as possible. In the early years of Irish Christianity when the monks wanted to embrace suffering and martyrdom they went on the missions, into what they saw as "voluntary exile" in the service of Christ and the Gospel. Heading out into the unknown, they settled in various places in continental Europe and founded great monasteries which would re-evanglise the continent. Plagued with homesickness, however, this was a white martyrdom for them. 

Then there is the second type, the Irish man or woman who can't wait to get out of the place. And while these are a minority, we have some notable examples: Sean O'Casey, James Joyce, Samuel Becket. They found Irish life too oppressive and felt the need to get on a boat and go elsewhere. For this type of Irish person the white martyrdom occurs when they have to come back.

Today in Ireland we celebrate the feast of one who might be more at home with the second group of Irish people than the first: St Brendan the Navigator, who as soon as he able took to the seas and sought adventure for the sake of the Gospel. Yes, that is a real concept: adventure for the sake of the Gospel. He was born in Kerry but educated by St Finnian (our diocesan patron) in Clonard here in Meath. He seems have wandered around Ireland for a bit before convincing his monk companions to get into a boat with him and set off to proclaim the Gospel in places unknown. Many stories of his adventures are preserved in ancient manuscripts, and in one of them we are told that he sailed due west and discovered a new, vast land. Yes, my dear friends in the US and Canada, it was not Christopher Columbus who "discovered" America, it was this restless Irish monk!

Brendan would eventually settle down in the Irish midlands, in Clonfert, found a monastery there and rule as Abbot for ten years before his death. However, I wonder if his adventurous soul could ever settle down? Did the monks of Clonfert ever have to dissuade their aging Abbot from setting out on another adventure? 

Being a Christian is meant to be an adventure. I love G. K. Chesterton because his approach to the faith and living it is one of an exciting adventure. He cherished orthodoxy because it was exciting, radical - heresy is boring - it is the exercise of bored, unimaginative minds categorizing mysteries so they will be acceptable and tame. Living life according to the orthodox faith brings one into the heart of mystery where you know you are not in control, but God is and he is leading you on the journey of a lifetime to lands of mystery and wonder. The spiritual life is an adventure, as St Teresa of Avila teaches us, it is as fascinating as a child let loose in a fabulous castle and told to go and explore: find the king who sits in the room of treasures. It is not boring and there are challenges, what challenges! 

In St Brendan we have one who had the spirit of Chesterton and the spirituality of St Teresa. The faith and the Church were one great adventure for him and he wanted to share that with those he met on his journeys, and in this he was sanctified. In these years of the New Evangelisation we should try to recapture this spirit of adventure, to jump into the mystery that is our faith, and promote orthodoxy and the spiritual life as a way of life which opens our eyes rather than closes them. Each morning, when we wake, we must surely thank God for another day in which we can continue this adventure with him and try to live it as well as we can: to put out into the deep with the spirit of St Brendan and to hear him say, as no doubt he said to his monks many times: "Right lads, get up, we're going..."

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Ireland's "Saint Damien"

Perhaps many of you outside of Ireland may not have heard of St Carthage, but long long before St Damien ever made his way to Molokai, St Carthage, Abbot and later Bishop, devoted his life to the service of those suffering from leprosy, and like the priest of Molokai, he was ostracized and exiled for this work of charity. 

St Carthage "of the Lepers" was a Kerryman born into a noble family, and as young boy showed a deep love for the Scriptures. Hearing the Psalms sung, he was inspired to sing them himself, and so he would about his daily tasks singing the psalms to the edification of all who heard him. One of those who was edified was the local king, and sitting the boy down suggested that he might consider becoming a priest. Carthage agreed, this was what he wanted, so the king arranged to have him accepted as a candidate for ordination, and Carthage was ordained. Following ordination it is believed that he went to the great university-monastery of Bangor, and then, like many other Irish priest-monks, he sought solitude and ended up founding a new monastery in 595 Rahan, County Offaly - not far from my native town. 

It was in this monastery that he established a hospice for lepers, and with numerous men offering themselves as monks in the monastery, soon Carthage had a major foundation on his hands and plenty of men to assist him in his ministry to the sick. However, things did not go as one would hope in a Christian country: Rahan is no Molokai, it is not an isolated place, and so opposition to Carthage's work grew over the years. As a supporter of the Roman date of Easter, Carthage didn't endear himself to some locals who were advocates for the Celtic system. Eventually in 637 his opponents managed to drive him out, and gathering hundreds of monks now attached to his foundation and his beloved lepers, Carthage left Rahan and went in search of a new home. He found it in Lismore in County Waterford where the locals welcomed him and his lepers with open arms, and there he established a new monastery. However, he would not live to see it flourish, he died the following year, 638.  At some point Carthage, Abbot of Rahan and later of Lismore, became a Bishop and we honour him today as such.

We have no evidence that he contracted the disease, nor was he the only one caring for lepers in Ireland, but it is good to have a Saint here who embraced the outcasts and even suffered to protect and care for them. Today is his feast day.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Honeymoon Coming To An End?

It seems the cracks are beginning to appear in the liberals's relationship with the Holy Father. I think it's actually starting to dawn on them that he is not going to give in to their demands and jettison Christ's teaching and Catholic doctrine and replace it with their permissive agenda. The bulb which has shed light on this is the Holy Father's continuing call to the dissenting organisation the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (USA) to come into line with Catholic teaching. As you know Cardinal Muller responded to their accusations that they were being unfairly treated by CDF. Speaking in the name of the Holy Father, the Cardinal pointed out that these ladies in the LCWR are doing what they were reported to be doing, and what they are doing and saying directly contradicts the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Anyway, in an article in The Irish Times, Maureen Dowd takes umbrage with Francis and accuses him of condoning the bullying of nuns, indeed he is acting with malice towards them, she maintains. The article is the usual mix of liberal ideology, misunderstandings and rant, but it is worth reading to see that the tide may well be turning for Francis and the libs are getting the hammers and nails out for yet another pope. Fr Z offers an interesting commentary on Dowd's piece, so you might like to read that too.

To be fair to the Holy Father, when it comes to religious life he has quite traditional views in terms of the vows: poverty chastity and obedience. He expects religious to live simple, humble and even penitential lives. This was the life he lived as a religious and as Archbishop, and as we know he has been urging a similar lifestyle on cardinals, bishops, priests and religious ever since his election. I think he sees religious life as being prophetic through its poverty, simplicity and obedience to Christ and his Church, rather than in embracing and pushing liberal causes.

A Saint Consoles A Future Saint

During our pilgrimage to Rome for the canonisation of St John Paul, our group of pilgrims spent a few days in San Giovanni Rotondo in the company of St Pio. They were wonderful days of prayer and reflection even if the weather was not great. While there I was able to browse through some of the Italian books on St Pio among them volume four of his Letters which has yet to be published in English. This volume is a gathering of letters he wrote to various people. 

The first in the volume was the letter he wrote to the Venerable Pope Paul VI expressing his obedience and support upon the promulgation of Humanae Vitae: the letter which brought great consolation to the Pontiff. St Pio was very fond of Pope Paul, and Pope Paul held the Capuchin friar in great esteem. Following St Pio's death, just a couple weeks after he wrote his letter to the Pontiff, Paul spoke in glowing terms of the priest. Indeed it was Paul who lifted the restrictions which St John XXIII had imposed on Pio. With the Venerable Pope Pius XII, Pope Paul believed that God was working in a dramatic and dynamic way in the stigmatised friar.

I thought I'd share with you this letter St Pio wrote to Pope Paul for your meditation, and as a consolation for all those who devote their lives to the pro-life cause. We have powerful friends in heaven.

San Giovanni Rotondo, 12th September, 1968.
Your Holiness:
Availing myself of Your Holiness' meeting with the Capitular Fathers, I unite myself in spirit with my Brothers, and in a spirit of faith, love and obedience to the greatness of Him whom you represent on earth, offer my respectful homage to Your August Person, humbly kneeling at Your feet.
The Capuchin Order has always been among the first in their love, fidelity and reverence for the Holy See. I pray the Lord that its members remain ever thus, continuing their tradition of seriousness and religious asceticism evangelical poverty, faithful observance of the Rule and Constitutions, renewing themselves in vigorous living and deep interior spirit—always ready, at the least gesture from Your Holiness, to go forward at once to assist the Church in her needs.
I know that Your heart suffers much these days on account of the happenings in the Church: for peace in the world, for the great needs of its peoples; but above all, for the lack of obedience of some, even Catholics, to the lofty teachings which You, assisted by the Holy Spirit and in the name of God, have given us. I offer Your Holiness my daily prayers and sufferings, the insignificant but sincere offering of the least of your sons, asking the Lord to comfort you with His grace to continue along the direct yet often burdensome way—in defense of those eternal truths which can never change with the times.
In the name of my spiritual sons and of the "Praying Groups" I thank Your Holiness for the clear and decisive words You have spoken in the recent encyclical, "Humanae Vitae", and I reaffirm my own faith and my unconditional obedience to Your inspired directives.
May God grant truth to triumph, and, may peace be given to His Church, tranquility to the people of the earth, and health and prosperity to Your Holiness, so that when these disturbing clouds pass over, the Reign of God may triumph in all hearts, through the Apostolic Works of the Supreme Shepherd of all Christians.
Prostrate at Your feet, I beg you to bless me, my Brothers in religion, my spiritual sons, the "Praying Groups", all the sick—that we may faithfully fulfill the good works done in the Name of Jesus and under your protection.
Your Holiness' most humble servant,
PADRE PIO, Capuchin

A Mother's Plea

A happy feast day to you all - this feast of Our Lady of Fatima. 

We still need to heed Our Lady's call and follow the example of the little children. In these difficult times may we devote ourselves to the service of the Immaculate Heart as she seeks to bring all men and women to her Son. She will guide us and console us, and offer us a refuge.

May her Heart triumph!

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Prophet Of Life: Our New Intercessor

In Ireland we have a saying: you wait for ages for a bus to come and then three come together. Well, it seems that in the Church we have such an experience now as, following the canonisation of Sts John Paul II and John XXIII, the beatification of the Venerable Paul VI has been announced. The Cause of the Venerable Pius XII is also at an advanced stage as a miracle is now being examined. Some are critical of these glorifications, I even hear talk of "canonising Vatican II" - I will refrain from commenting on that particular slant. It needs only to be said that God has spoken in the case of St John Paul and the Venerable Paul VI in the language of miracles. Pope Francis decided to use his prerogative and canonise St John XXIII without need for a miracle, but God had spoken of his will with regard to Pope John in the miracle for his beatification.

The response to Paul's beatification has been mixed, as one would expect. Many welcome it, many more traditionally minded are not so keen, and there are some who know nothing about him. If you are a regular reader of my blog you will know that I welcome the announcement and, God willing, I may even get over the Rome for the ceremony. Paul is a controversial figure, his papacy was a difficult one both for him and for the Church. With the closing of the Second Vatican Council and the promulgation of Humanae Vitae Paul faced incredible challenges, some of which seemed to overwhelm him. Though some might dispute it, it was in his suffering, I believe, that Paul was sanctified. A man who sought to persuade rather than coerce, he found that he could not convince many in the Church, both liberal and traditionalist, left and right, to see things as he saw them. As traditionalists rose up against the Council, liberals rose up against his reaffirmation of orthodox Church teaching on life: Paul stood in the middle trying to reconcile, suffering and facing a heavier cross as his papacy developed. His death in 1978 was a blessed release for him coming suddenly after the brutal murder of one of his closest friends. 

I won't get into the controversies here, but I would recommend you read Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith's brief but comprehensive article on Paul's papacy, he sums it up very well. Paul's beatification is most timely. It will conclude the Synod on the Family which may well be a difficult and contentious affair, perhaps bringing the Church into another Humanae Vitae moment. Pope Francis may well have need of the example and intercession of Blessed Paul. It is timely for other reasons, among them the various challenges we face as Christians in an ever increasing secular world. The Pro-Life movement must surely welcome the beatification, for Paul is a prophet of life; he suffered for the cause of life, and I hope he will indeed be numbered among the patrons for the cause of life. I would urge those involved in the pro-life cause around the world to come to Rome for the beatification. Our presence at the glorification of the prophet of life would not only send a statement around the world, but also be a moment of encouragement for all of us.

Pope Paul died on the feast of the Transfiguration, a feast which celebrates that mysterious event in which Jesus prepared three of his apostles for the scandal of the cross with a glimpse of his divinity. Paul was sustained by his faith in the Risen Christ, he carried his cross with his heart set on the heart of Christ. We can say now, surely, that on that day when he closed his eyes, Paul opened them to gaze upon his transfigured Lord for ever. His own cross passing away to the joy of eternal life in the house of the Father. From that house I pray that he will look down upon us in these difficult times and intercede for us: that we may carry our cross with faith and seek to be authentic witnesses to Christ even if it means suffering. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014


Thanks to all of you who prayed for my aunt. At the moment she is improving, no longer critical. She had been in Coronary Care, but she was moved on Saturday to a Medical Ward. Doctors are weighing up the possibility of further investigations into her heart, but these carry significant risks. Please continue to remember her in your prayers, you are remembered in ours for your kindness. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Prayers Please

Could I ask you to please remember my aunt/godmother Brigid in your prayers? She is critically ill at the moment. Thank you. I will not be blogging for the moment as I am trying to spend as much time as I can with her and my family at this time. Your prayers will be much appreciated. God bless.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

St Joseph the Worker

Happy feast day to you all. Let us commend to St Joseph the Worker all those who labour, that they may recognise that the Lord is with them and blesses them in their work.

St John Paul learned of the dignity of work in his time working in the quarry. To celebrate this day of work, the new Saint's poem on work:


Listen: the even knocking of hammers,
so much their own,
I project on to the people
to test the strength of each blow.
Listen now: electric current
cuts through a river of rock.
And a thought grows in me day after day:
the greatness of work is inside man.
Hard and cracked 
his hand is differently charged
by the hammer
and thought differently unravels in stone
as human energy splits from the strength of stone
cutting the bloodstream, an artery
in the right place.
Look, how love feeds 
on this well-grounded anger
which flows in to people's breath
as a river bent by the wind, 
and which is never spoken, but just breaks high vocal cords.
Passers-by scuttle off into doorways, 
someone whispers: "Yet here is a great force."
Fear not. Man's daily deeds have a wide span,
a strait riverbed can't imprison them long.
Fear not. For centuries they all stand in Him, 
and you look at Him now
through the even knocking of hammers.

Bound are the blocks of stone, the low-voltage wire
cuts deep in their flesh, an invisible whip--
stones know this violence.
When an elusive blast rips their ripe compactness
and tears them from their eternal simplicity,
the stones know this violence.
Yet can the current unbind their full strength?
It is he who carries that strength in his hands:
the worker.

Hands are the heart's landscape. They split sometimes
like ravines into which an undefined force rolls.
The very same hands which man only opens 
when his palms have had their fill of toil.
Now he sees: because of him alone others can walk in peace.
Hands are a landscape. When they split, the pain of their sores
surges free as a stream. 
But no thought of pain--
no grandeur in pain alone.
For his own grandeur he does not know how to name.

No, not just hands drooping with the hammer's weight, 
not the taut torso, muscles shaping their own style, 
but thought informing his work,
deep, knotted in wrinkles on his brow,
and over his head, joined in a sharp arc, shoulders and veins vaulted.
So for a moment he is a Gothic building
cut by a vertical thought born in the eyes.
No, not a profile alone, 
not a mere figure between God and the stone,
sentenced to grandeur and error.