Showing posts from December, 2008

Matthew Parris on Christian Missionaries in Africa

Matthew Parris, who describes himself as a 'confirmed atheist', today writes a Times article on how his impression of Africa's need for Christianity has been changed by witnessing the work of Christian missionaries. Fr Ray preached at Midnight Mass about how much of the aid relief organisations were started by Christians because God was made man and dwelt among us. I wrote a sarcastic comment on the article online suggesting that you didn't have to go to Africa to see Christian love in action, but just pop down to the local SVP soup run and that the 'rich' West also needs God!

Anyway, click here for the full article.

'I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transfo…

Love is Infinite!

...and so, it seems, is my ability to consume all types of 'Boxing Day' booze.

Just before Christmas I was having conversations with my band about the Universe, thinking to myself and saying to them: "Well, how big is the Universe? If the Universe is this round table, then what is on the other side of the ledge? If you had a spaceship and flew it as far as you could from the centre of the table, how far could you go and would you ever hit a 'wall'? What is on the other side of the 'wall'?" None of us had the answer as you can imagine! But if you believe in God you do start to marvel at His Creation a little every now and then and think, 'How on earth did all this happen and where does His Creation end!?'

We look at the stars, we stare out to space and we wonder, 'How far does it go?' I suppose what I was saying was, does the created Universe have an end and if it has an end, where does it end, and if it ends, what is there and if …

Happy St Stephen's Day!

Courtesy of Catholic Online

A Sermon of St Fulgentius of Ruspe: The Armour of Love

"Yesterday we celebrated the birth in time of our eternal King. Today we celebrate the triumphant suffering of his soldier.Yesterday our king, clothed in his robe of flesh, left his place in the virgin’s womb and graciously visited the world. Today his soldier leaves the tabernacle of his body and goes triumphantly to heaven.

Our king, despite his exalted majesty, came in humility for our sake; yet he did not come empty-handed. He brought his soldiers a great gift that not only enriched them but also made them unconquerable in battle, for it was the gift of love, which was to bring men to share in his divinity. He gave of his bounty, yet without any loss to himself. In a marvellous way he changed into wealth the poverty of his faithful followers while remaining in full possession of his own inexhaustible riches.

And so the love that brought Christ from heaven to earth raised Stephen from earth to heave…

Christmas Meal with St Francis of Assisi

An excerpt from 'The Mirror of Perfection'

When a certain Minister of the friars had come to blessed Francis to celebrate the feast of Christmas with him in the friars's dwelling at Rieti, the friars, because of the Minister and the feast, laid out the table a little worshipfully and choicely on that Christmas Day, putting on fair and white napery and glass vessels. But the blessed Father coming down from his cell to eat, saw the tables placed on high, and so choicely laid out. Then forthwith he went secretly, and took the staff and wallet of a certain poor man who had come thither that day, and calling to him with a low voice one of his fellows, went out to the door of the dwelling, the brethren of the house not knowing of it.

The friars in the meantime had entered to the table. For the blessed Father had ordered that the friars should not wait for him, when he did not come straightaway at meal-time. And when he had stood a little while outside, he knocked at the door a…

Happy Christmas!

Midnight Mass tonight was wonderful, but tainted by sin, as a friend who I invited, a poor man, a friend who came to Mass for the first time, having weighed it up for 20 minutes before, who knows little or nothing of the Catholic faith, was forcibly removed from the Church for apparently singing too loudly by one of our parishioners who seemingly has taken it upon himself to be the Church bouncer. Not only was he subjected to the humiliation of being forcibly removed, but then had his head struck against the wall outside the Church and now has a big bruise. I think one of our parishioners not only has a strong devotion to St Michael, but literally thinks he is doing his job for him. Please pray for both of them.

Pope Benedict XVI Hails the Birth of Christ

Christmas Day Homily of St Leo the Great

Courtesy of Catholic Online

"Dearly beloved, today our Saviour is born; let us rejoice. Sadness should have no place on the birthday of life. The fear of death has been swallowed up; life brings us joy with the promise of eternal happiness.

No one is shut out from this joy; all share the same reason for rejoicing. Our Lord, victor over sin and death, finding no man free from sin, came to free us all. Let the saint rejoice as he sees the palm of victory at hand. Let the sinner be glad as he receives the offer of forgiveness. Let the pagan take courage as he is summoned to life.

In the fullness of time, chosen in the unfathomable depths of God’s wisdom, the Son of God took for himself our common humanity in order to reconcile it with its creator. He came to overthrow the devil, the origin of death, in that very nature by which he had overthrown mankind.
And so at the birth of our Lord the angels sing in joy:

Glory to God in the highest, and they p…

Sussex Carol & Gabriel's Message

Liberals Up in Arms Over Pope's 'Human Ecology'

The liberal media, which does seem to be highly influential nowadays in terms of informing public opinion, is up in arms about Pope Benedict XVI's comments reaffirming Church teaching that mankind needs salvation from the seeds of his own self-destruction.

You know we have a good Pope, when, every now and then, he says something that makes people flap about and call the Church evil. If people weren't flapping about and were saying, 'isn't the Church lovely and nice about everything' then we would know we had a counterfeit, rather than the real deal.

Our Blessed Lord promised the Apostles that He would be with His Church until the End of Time. He also promised that when St Peter and the Apostles preached, the World would reject them because the World could not accept the Son of God. "Whoever hears you, hears me", He said to the Apostles. St Paul recognised this in his letters when he said that to many the Cross was a "stumbling block".

It is sad…

The Road to Heaven

A traveller one day found a long road and at the side of the road was a sign saying, ‘The Road to Heaven’. ‘My God!’ he exclaimed, ‘this is the Road that I have been searching for all my life!’ He looked up into the Heavens and thanked God with all his heart.

‘Nothing,’ he thought to himself, ‘nothing can deter me from this Road, for this is the Road to Heaven’.

He had been walking just a mile when he a mist descended on the Road. He could see just a yard in front of him and began to exclaim, ‘My God, where am I?’ A few moments later the mist began to lift and he could see the road open up before him again. It did not appear to be very different only slightly broader. In fact, the road appeared more easy. He felt as if after the mist had lifted greatly and in fact the gradient of the road was at a more comfortable angle.

He travelled just a little while longer when suddenly he noticed a small wooden booth at the side of the road. ‘How odd,’ he thought, for the road had been largel…

What Pope Benedict XVI said on the 40th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae

"...Indeed, having received the gift of love, husband and wife are called in turn to give themselves to each other without reserve. Only in this way are the acts proper and exclusive to spouses truly acts of love which, while they unite them in one flesh, build a genuine personal communion. Therefore, the logic of the totality of the gift intrinsically configures conjugal love and, thanks to the sacramental outpouring of the Holy Spirit, becomes the means to achieve authentic conjugal charity in their own life.

The possibility of procreating a new human life is included in a married couple's integral gift of themselves. Since, in fact, every form of love endeavours to spread the fullness on which it lives, conjugal love has its own special way of communicating itself: the generation of children. Thus it not only resembles but also shares in the love of God who wants to communicate himself by calling the human person to life. Excluding this dimension of communication through an…

Bishop of Arundel & Brighton in Controversial Interview with Catholic Herald

The Rt Rev Bishop Kieran Conry, Bishop of Arundel and Brighton

Damien Thompson has posted a highly controversial blog on Holy Smoke. I'm not into bashing the Bishops of England and Wales on this blog, as I am never convinced it really helps the Church that much. However, an interview with His Lordship the Rt Rev Bishop Kieran Conry, on the Catholic Herald website,isworthy of some critical reading and analysis. Read the interview here.

Some important issues leap out of this interview:

1. His Lordship, during the interview, seems to suggest that the emphasis in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass should be on the community, over and above the reverence and worship befitting for Almighty God.

How much more love do people have for each other and how much more a sense of Christian community, when their devotion to God and reverence for Him, in the silence of holy prayer and in truly praying the Mass, increases?!

However, when told that the Rt Rev Bishop O'Donoghue, Bishop of Lancaster a…

Distracting Boss Sketch

St Francis and the Nativity

Courtesy of Wikipedia. The Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence is a painting from 1609 by the Italian Baroque master Caravaggio.This gorgeous painting was stolen on October 16, 1969 from the Oratory of San Lorenzo in Palermo, Sicily. The Nativity is today the most famous unrecovered stolen painting and the FBI continue to list the work on their art thefts listings site quoting its value at $20 million. Worth is a moot point as the notoriety of the masterpiece makes it unsaleable.

Fr William Saunders wrote this sermon on the story of St Francis and the Nativity.

The story of the origin of the Christmas creche rests with the very holy man, St. Francis of Assisi.

In the year 1223, St. Francis, a deacon, was visiting the town of Grecio to celebrate Christmas. Grecio was a small town built on a mountainside overlooking a beautiful valley. The people had cultivated the fertile area with vineyards. St. Francis realized that the chapel of the Franciscan hermitage would be too small to h…

Can't Cut It In The Real World? Join the Army!

Support Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg

When the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill was being debated and then passed, a petition was drawn up and sent, signed by over 2,000 signatories, to ask Her Majesty The Queen to refuse Royal Assent to the monsterous bill. The response from Buckingham Palace was unfortunately negative.

Now a new e-petition has been drawn up in support of the Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, who is bravely refusing to give his Royal Assent to a new bill legalising euthanasia in his country. Gerard Warner on his Telegraph blog states that, 'on December 4 the Grand Duke declared himself unable to promulgate the euthanasia law "for reasons of conscience".'

'The law...will allow doctors to kill patients diagnosed as "terminally ill" at the patient's request, supported by two physicians and a panel of "experts".' The Grand Duke’s action has triggered what some have called a "grave constitutional crisis" as the parliament moves to strip the duke…

We Three Kings of Orient Are

More beautiful than you would have thought...

St Hippolytus, Early Church Father

Here is a lovely quote from St Hippolytus, Early Church Father, which I included in a few Christmas cards I sent this year. Now this is the true meaning of Christmas:

God was all alone and nothing existed but Himself when He determined to create the World. He thought of it, willed it, spoke the word and so made it. It came into being instantaneously, exactly as He had willed. It is enough then for us to be aware of a single fact: nothing is co-eternal with God. Apart from God there was simply nothing else. Yet, although He was alone, He was manifold because He lacked neither reason, wisdom, power nor counsel. All things were in Him and He Himself was all. At a moment of his own choosing and in a manner determined by Himself, God manifested his Word, and through Him he made the whole Universe.

When the Word was hidden within God Himself He was invisible to the created World, but God made Him visible. First God gave utterance to His voice, engendering light from light, and then He sent H…

Proposal for a New Order of Franciscan Tertiaries of Brighton & Hove

As my good friend Joseph has always said, "Man proposes, God disposes."

A small band of brothers renounce all possessions save for their musical instruments.

They take vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience to the Magisterium of the Church.

They live on the streets of Brighton as the homeless.

They sing and play for alms.

They devote their time to prayer, singing songs, going to Mass and witness to the Gospel by living among the homeless of Brighton.

They play chess with the homeless and offer them friendship in Brighton and live as beggars.

The people of Brighton are astonished by their charity and their music and lifestyle.

They are fed and watered by the soup run.

Money made from begging goes to the poor of the Church and the Building Fund.

Each brother has his own sleeping bag.

Their radical lifestyle attracts new brothers because Brighton is a town of alternative lifestyles.

The order is endorsed by the Pope.

They follow in the footsteps of St Francis and go to Heaven.

Is this a goo…

Each Man Has a Cross to Bear...

El Greco's 'Christ Carrying the Cross'

I've just been speaking with a new friend who I have made through busking called, for the purpose of this blog, Nicholas. He's very lovely and warm-hearted. I asked him in for a pint at a local and it was nearly closing time so we chatted for half an hour. It cropped up in conversation that I altar serve at St Mary Magdalen's on Sunday and he was interested to know more about it and the Catholic Faith in general, having just talked about a book he had been reading about ways of changing your life with spirituality. We talk regularly about our addictions, given that we, like all people do have to some degree or another, struggle with our vices. He said he had only had his first nights sleep in 5 days the other day, talked of the hallucinations he had been having as a result and the noises and the horrendous thoughts.

He is currently battling with heroin addiction and has been going cold turkey for a week now. I really a…

Is Nothing Sacred?

This is nothing other than the promotion of suicide by the mainstream media. For once, I am speechless. Who wants to actually watch this tragedy unfold!? What on earth is going on!?
Courtesy of Times Online
A former university professor with motor neurone disease will be seen ending his own life in a television documentary to be broadcast for the first time in the UK. Craig Ewert travelled from his home in Harrogate to the Dignitas clinic in Zurich, Switzerland, accompanied by Mary, his wife of 37 years. There he is shown drinking a lethal dose of barbiturates through a straw, and using his mouth to turn off the switch to his ventilator. A doctor is seen checking his pulse and pronouncing him dead. The decision to broadcast the documentary Right to Die on Sky television’s Real Lives channel tomorrow has been condemned by the television watchdog Mediawatch UK. For more click here.Incredibly, 67% in a Times Online survey think it is right to screen footage of someone being killed a…

The World is a Place of a Myriad Addictions

I've just been reading a piece on BBC News about a sex addiction clinic in the UK and I can say with my hand on my heart that I am a poor addict to many things, blogging being the least harmful. Programmes and courses which encourage people to change their lives and overcome addictions are a good thing, of that there can be no doubt, but if a man were an alcoholic, a sex addict, a romantic love addict and a nicotine addict (am I giving too much away!?) and wanted to go to a class to overcome all of these things, he would never get a night in at home in front of the TV.

The very fact that we want to change is a wonderful insight into our innate moral desire for Goodness. The Church does not and has never said that people are born bad, just that through Original Sin, that people are born wounded, but infinitely loveable and wonderful. The Sacramental Grace of Baptism and the life of Grace in the Church helps us to aim our lives towards Heaven, but God is not surprised by our sinfu…

The Message is in the Verdict

RIP Daniel James
This is, of course, a tragic case. Nobody wishes to see the death of their own son. Unfortunately, however, this verdict is another victory for the Culture of Death, because the message it sends out is that if you want to pay for assisted suicide in another country that that is not a matter of the public interest and that if you assist someone in their suicide that it is not a matter worthy of criminal prosecution.
Daniel James, 23, was the youngest Briton to die at the Dignitas clinic, which he attended with his parents, Mark and Julie, who had admitted that they helped him end "a second-class existence". A criminal investigation was launched on their return to the UK, but in a landmark decision, the Crown Prosecution Service said that it was not in the public interest to press charges against the couple. Keir Starmer QC, Director of Public Prosecutions, said: "This is a tragic case involving as it does the death of a young man in diff…

The Good Old Days

Demographic Winter

Just found this on Catholic Fire. Looks like an interesting film.

There is a profound spiritual reason why trends have emerged which have led Western societies to have less children and a rapid increase in couples who seek to have no children. To put it very simply, as St Teresa of Calcutta said with words to this effect, "The Devil does not seek to destroy Mankind because he hates Mankind, he does it out of hatred for God." I am quite sure the Devil is delighted that fewer and fewer people are being born due to contraception, abortion and sterile extra-marital relationships, because not only is he jealous of our adopted status as Children of God, but because he knows that to convince nations that having children is unrewarding results in fewer births, fewer souls bound for Heaven and thwarts the procreative activity of God. All of his lies have been sent throughout the Earth out of hatred for God.

The fact that Western societies are rejecting more and more, marriage and c…

The Sign of Peace: Extended Version?

I managed to make it to an evening Mass at a Church in South London on Sunday and noticed that the Sign of Peace, which takes place during the service, seemed to go on forever and that the Priest offering Mass went up the middle of the aisle and shook the hand of every person a good couple of people in from the centre of the aisle in each row of pews. I've seen this a couple of times and thought it rather odd. Surely, the Sign of Peace is meant to be quite quick, but this went on what felt like forever, which I think is something of a distraction from the momentum of prayer and reverence for what we are about to receive. Some priests at this point think that it is pastoral care to do this, but I can't see it myself, because surely the priest's devotion is fixed upon the Altar where the Consecration takes place. I can't help thinking that at this point in the Mass, suddenly the Mass becomes about either the Priest or the congregation or both, when we our gaze is mea…

4am Drugs Raid on My Goddaughter's Family Flat

I visited my God Daughter for the first time in a good year or so yesterday on my way back from East London ruining good friendships and being a public idiot. They are a poor family, a single mother with four beautiful children who lives on benefits, but gives everything she can to the children. As more people know from the news, council estates in South London are rife with gang culture and the eldest has fallen in with a gang, largely because on the estates in London, not to be in a gang can be equally as dangerous as being in one.

She told me that at 4 am a couple of weeks ago, a group of armed police smashed in her front door and turned her flat upside down looking for drugs which they suspected would be in the possession of her eldest son. Having found nothing, they left.

It begs the question, just how dangerous and intimidating can a single mother and her eldest son of 15, a younger one of 12 and two younger girls be, that the police need to smash down her door and perform as i…

The Immaculate Conception

Diego Velazquez's 'The Immaculate Conception'

Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Put simply this Feast celebrates the fact that that the Blessed Virgin was untainted by Original Sin...Fr Ray has written beautifully the theology of the Immaculate Conception, as follows...

When Jesus speaks to Mary, always he addresses her as "Woman" because she is "the" woman. The woman put with Adam is called by him, ""Eve", because she became the mother of all the living". At the tree of the Cross Jesus gives the "woman" Mary to John and the Church, when he says "Woman, behold your son". Jesus death is not just a liberation from sin but an act of recreation.
Today wer celebrate the beginning of this recreation, the creation of the "New Eve" who from her human nature will be taken the "New Adam", both are a new creation, both are brought into being through the action of Grace. The lectionary used in…

Royal Mail: The Agony of Choice

Which stamps will you use on your Christmas card envelopes this year? The Madonna of Humility by Lippo di Dalmasio, or high camp panto tat? The day that Christmas is represented by awful, irritating pantomimes such as Aladdin and Cinderella is the day you know this country is in the grip of a terrifying secular disease.

With tenderness and awe, the Blessed Virgin cradles God in her arms, just as with tenderness and awe she cradled the Babe in her womb. The Maker of all, the Redeemer of the World gazes lovingly with trust into the eyes of His Blessed Mother, who reverently looks upon Him who made Heaven and Earth. She knows that what she holds in her hands is more precious than anything on Earth, Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the whole World, of all of Mankind, of every man, of every woman who has ever lived and will ever live.

More Tough Government Language on Benefits

From MSN News

Immigrants will have to earn the right to claim benefits under new proposals, it has been reported.

Immigration minister Phil Woolas said newcomers to the UK will have to prove they are here to work.

In an interview with The Sun, he said: "Entitlement to benefits should be for citizens of our country, not other people.

"If you are a citizen you have earned the right to benefits. People must show they are here to work."

Economic immigrants would have to earn the right to a passport by serving a five-year "probationary citizenship", he told the paper.

Those who stay out of trouble and do voluntary work will become eligible for benefits one or two years after that, The Sun reported.

But anyone who fails to meet the new rules would be forced to wait another five years before they could claim state benefits and social housing.

The plans are to be included in the new Borders, Immigration and Citizenship Bill, published in January, the paper said.

Mr Woolas said…

Heathcliff! It's Me, Kathy, Come Home! So cold!

The Heart Divided

The heart divided
Knows not where it stands
The heart divided
Makes earthly plans
The heart divided
Will be unable to stand
Before its God on the Day of Wrath
A great and very terrible day
For the heart divided
I'm afraid to say
For the heart divided
Could not place its trust
In the Maker of its love
When needs truly must
The heart divided
Will return to dust
Yet must meet its Maker
Oh yes, it must
The heart divided
Will only serve itself
The heart divided
Will only serve itself
The heart divided
Will only serve itself
A heart undivided will serve its Master well

Call Me Morbid, Call Me Pale

When the Law of God is thrown in the bin, why not do the same with the Law of Man?

Courtesy of The Telegraph

Late abortions of "less than perfect" foetuses are the subject of a secrecy row with the Government.

It centres on mothers who opt for termination because their unborn babies have been diagnosed with conditions such as club foot and cleft palate.

Doctors say such conditions can usually be corrected by surgery.

The Information Commissioner has ordered the release of the figures, but the Department of Health is resisting, claiming that disclosing the data could lead to women who have late abortions being identified.

While abortion is only legal in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy if carried out on social grounds, "Ground E" of the 1967 Abortion Act makes it legal to abort a foetus which has a serious risk of physical or mental abnormality, right up to birth. There are continuing concerns that the law is being flouted to weed out "less than perfect" babies.

Prof Stuart Campbell, the leading obstetrician whose 3D-scan images of babies "…

Prayer of St Francis of Assisi

I still have so much to learn...

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
where there is injury, pardon
where there is doubt, faith
where there is despair, hope
where there is darkness, light
where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Which is why it is better to stick to Morrissey...

The Excruciating Agony of Love Songs

It seems to me that when you are in love with someone and it is unrequited, there is no greater pain in the heart than listening to love songs that resonate so deeply your feelings for them yet the aspirations so beautifully expressed in the songs are torturous because you know that the words in the song will never come true.

Why, O God, have you placed within my heart a fire of love for somebody who will never love me in return? Everyday is like torment. Tomorrow I am giving the ring that I foolishly purchased recently to my parish priest and ask him to advertise that there is a beautiful engagement ring for anyone in the parish who wants to marry, but is poor. There must be a poor man of Christ in the congregation who wants to marry his true love. I would sooner that the ring would bring a Catholic couple joy, than pawn it for a couple of hundred quid just to bolster my overdraft. I'll have to sell my car, mind, to get back to zero.

It is so arrogant to think that our loved o…