Friday 31 July 2015

Rising and Falling

Bl. Titus Brandsma, before a 'tricky time' for Catholic
Damian Thompson has posted on The Catholic Herald website an article about 'The Rise and Fall of Catholic Blogs'. Some of the points he raises are really about his personal Telegraph blog, 'Holy Smoke'.

I do also recall that due to some changes at The Telegraph a host of widely read blogs - some of which were written by Catholics - quickly and inexplicably were no more, including James Delingpole, who has since found work at Breibart, Damian Thompson, who went to The Spectator, and Christina Odone. Tim Stanley still works at The Telegraph, but it is notable that his Telegraph blog has been inactive since October 2014. Nobody was ever told why this decimation of widely read blogs occurred.

In the Catholic blogging world, a critical exception was the very popular Nick Donnelly whose personal blog, Protect the Pope was forced to close. Nick now posts in other forums. I and many others enjoyed Linen on the Hedgerow's Richard Collins. May he rest in peace.

It goes without saying that while some have stopped blogging or cut down dramatically on blogging, new blogs have emerged, such as One Peter Five and others. The passion of many Catholics to write about the Faith is matched today by the readiness with which bloggers will speak out to defend those fundamental Catholic teachings which are, like all Catholic teachings contained in the Magisterium, utterly non-negotiable. Damian raises points about other Catholic blogs and the Catholic blogosphere which I felt warranted some kind of response. I suggest that you read Damian's thought-provoking article. I have written a response to his article since it touches on issues so close to the hearts of many bloggers, some of whom are members of The Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma.

My response can be read here at 'The Courtyard', a joint blog named after 'The Court of the Gentiles' vision espoused by Pope Benedict XVI. This Guild still seeks faithful Catholics who wish to defend and proclaim the Catholic Faith as members. If you have not considered doing so, do consider joining the Guild. It is certainly a good time to ask what purpose Catholic blogs now serve, at a time when the initial wave of optimism for Pope Benedict XVI's exciting vision of Catholicism in the 21st century was brought to an abrupt and sad end, a vision that was not to be continued by his Successor. I expect we shall receive the answer as to the 'post-Benedict XVI' purpose of Catholic blogs in the not too distant future. Undoubtedly forces outside of the Church in the West seek an end to the freedom of speech Catholics have long enjoyed on the internet. I wouldn't be terribly surprised if some inside the Church thought that kind of 'control' of the voices of the dissenters is desirable. We leave everything in God's hands. Let us allow Him to use us, and let it be for all for Him.

Monday 27 July 2015

Happy Feast of Blessed Titus Brandsma...

Today is 27th July, the Feast of Blessed Titus Brandsma and I am happy to announce as chairman that we have a new member of the Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma, the composer and classical pianist, Matthew Schellhorn. I look forward to reading Matthew's interesting contributions to the Guild in the future. A small biography of Matthew can be read here, on his website.

It is very encouraging that the Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma is able to attract Catholics who are do not have their own Catholic blogs to the Guild, as contributors. The Guild serves Catholics and the Church, as well as making a contribution to the evangelisation of the world through the internet and I would like to remind all of our readers that we are happy to accept contributions to the Guild from those who do not have active blogs of their own. Recently, we have had two excellent contributions by a Catholic layman, Nicholas Bellord, on the concerning developments that surrounded both the 2014 Synod and the highly controversial preparatory document for 'Synod 15'.

I'd like to take this opportunity as Chairman to wish all members and readers of the Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma a very happy feast, in these challenging times for all Catholics faithful to the Magisterium of the Church and to thank all who contribute to the Guild, members who continue through their own blogs or who contribute to the Guild blog, as well as those who support the work of this Guild with their prayers. Do keep the Guild and Catholic bloggers in your prayers. We do not know for how long the freedom of speech we have long enjoyed will remain a right, rather than a privilege granted by Government. On this subject, as well as the other challenges we face today as Catholics in an increasingly hostile secular society, I have written a post on the Guild site on this, Blessed Titus Brandsma's feast. The following video appears on that blogpost as well...Blessed Titus Brandsma, pray for us...

Friday 24 July 2015

Snakes in the Grass

It takes time and effort sometimes to find the 'snakes in the grass' and as a follow up to his piece on the 2014 Synod, Nicholas Bellord has written another fine piece for the Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma, which makes a commendable and recommendable read, together with 'On the Side of the Angels' excellent recent post on the hugely problematic Instrumentum Laboris, for the Guild.

The indomitable Fr Z has picked up Nicholas Bellord's clear-minded, sober analysis as well and I am pleased to say that Nicholas's new post can now be read here.

If only such clear and sober thought, faithful to the Truth of Christ, were more evident among the movers and 'shakers' rattling behind these concerning Synod 14 and now Synod 15 documents.

Monday 20 July 2015

Definite Proof of Your Love

'Someone has been the cause of pain; and the cause of pain not to me, but to some degree – not to overstate it – to all of you. The punishment already imposed by the majority on the man in question is enough; and the best thing now is to give him your forgiveness and encouragement, or he might break down from so much misery. So I am asking you to give some definite proof of your love for him. What I really wrote for, after all, was to test you and see whether you are completely obedient. Anybody that you forgive, I forgive; and as for my forgiving anything – if there has been anything to be forgiven, I have forgiven it for your sake in the presence of Christ. And so we will not be outwitted by Satan – we know well enough what his intentions are.
~ St Paul, 2 Corinthians 1:15-2:11

Readers will know that I am deeply concerned that Pope Francis can, for instance, issue an exhortation to the 'coal-mining community' calling for a 'paradigm shift' within this industry, but cannot bring himself to speak directly to the hearts of men and women in the heat of a crisis in human sexuality, nor call to repentance, or espouse the need for a 'paradigm shift' among those in other kinds of 'communities' that promote lifestyles completely opposed to the Gospel. The crisis in human sexuality directly attacks the sanctity of marriage, the institution of the family and lead souls into an abyss of misery in this life and eternal punishment in the next. The eloquence with which Pope Francis's predecessors were able to defend the family and marriage without coarse and deliberately provocative language is well-known.

His Holiness may indeed not have a real understanding of the homosexual crisis in the clergy - even in the Vatican. We are really left wondering whether - at any point - His Holiness believes this is an issue that needs to be addressed 'concretely' in some fashion. I believe His Holiness received a detailed report from his predecessor about the extent of the homosexual crisis in the clergy and must surely have been briefed over the extent of what appears to be some kind of network - though by no means a network that all clergy of a homosexual orientation 'tap into'.

At times, one can easily begin to wonder whether, far from attempting to meet this enormous challenge that he has as the Successor of St Peter 'head on' - a task that would have been beyond a frail and isolated figure such as Pope Benedict XVI, His Holiness's appointments - or even statements, as well as those times when he has kept silent, instead promotes this insidious agenda within the bosom of the Church.

There is no doubt that there is a grave crisis in the clergy - and possibly in the Hierarchy - how deep it is, we do not know - a crisis of formation, faith and a crisis in priestly identity as well as a lack of paternal and fraternal care for the spiritual and psychological state, or indeed maturity, of the Church's clergy. Quite what His Holiness is to do about that situation - a situation that spans Dioceses across vast parts of the World, I do not know, but it is an issue that needs to be addressed and the addressing of this issue is long overdue.

It needs to be restated that far from all clergy who have this condition of homosexuality form alliances with the 'gay community' and that they serve by their ministry, their prayer, their sacrificial life as 'alter Christus' and by their example serve the Lord and His flock in an exemplary fashion. It is also very true that 'heterosexual' priests too suffer grave temptations and this has been made clear from recent news in England and Wales. Every Shepherd, every priest is first in line of attack from the Enemy of God and mankind, since if the Devil can topple a priest, or a Bishop, he can ruin the faith of many and cause the sheep to scatter. Our Enemy prowls around, like a lion, seeking him who he may devour. When a marriage breaks up, people really do wonder whether it is possible to stay with one person for life. When a priest gives up, people really do wonder whether it is possible to be celibate and offer ones life entirely to God alone. Both have very devastating effects.

Looking at The Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma's website, I was reminded that...

...the anger of man worketh not the justice of God. ~ Letter of St James, 1:20

St Paul sets above before us a challenge that may require our serious reflection as to how we show forgiveness to an offender. It is certainly something that caught my eye as I was reading today. There are things we do know about what has happened in the case of the priest much discussed on blogs and social media over the weekend. There are also things we don't know and it would be gravely sinful and calumnious of us to say we do know things about this individual that we simply do not know. My previous blog post on the subject concentrated on the fragility of that chain that binds us to the Lord, how that can be mended by the Sacraments and prayer and how we must do what we can to be held in bonds of Communion with Christ, His Church and our brethren. These bonds of Communion are tenuous indeed but can be strengthened only by the grace of God and with each other by bonds of fraternal love. I do not with to speculate in a calumnious fashion on the activities of the individual, even if the proclivities, or at least those of his associates have been made more apparent on social media. We should, including myself, examine ourselves as to whether we are serving Christ if we knock a man down when he is already thoroughly down.

Nor do I know the full truth about what took place over the past months in this individual's parish, the nature of the support he had from those around him and the nature of the support he received, or didn't receive from his Bishop and brother priests.

Having had a quick look at the individual's social media activity, I can see before me absolutely no evidence of Faith, but whether that individual has Faith, or if he lost it, how he lost it, it is not my business to investigate. What has taken place in this saga is tragic indeed and nobody can deny that, but we must remember that we are called by Our Lord to treat others as we ourselves would like to be treated and to forgive. We are not called to pass judgment or to condemn individuals, we are not to assume things about that person's lifestyle of which we are completely ignorant and we are certainly not called to issue decrees on the state of that person's soul before God.

While the whole Catholic Church waits with baited breath as to how Pope Francis intends to take a break from matters of social inequality, the environment, economics and the need for reform in the coal-mining industry to meet the challenges in the Church that have been created by the homosexual movement and the crisis in human sexuality and gender within and without the Church, it is surely vital that the Church in England and Wales, and in particular, in the major Diocese of the priest who has resigned suddenly and 'broken the chain', makes serious efforts to ensure that fraternal charity and fraternal correction, as well as paternal charity and paternal correction, out of love for its clergy, is made a high priority. Perhaps after its reflection and discernment, that major Diocese can take its wisdom to other Dioceses, or even to Rome itself. Charity covers a multitude of sins, but what has happened should not simply be brushed under the carpet. Many of us are left 'in the dark' about events in this parish. Most cannot be certain what happened. Those in authority who are in a position of certainty regarding this tragedy must surely learn from it. Ministries seeking the spiritual welfare of homosexuals, such as Courage must surely be encouraged.

The bonds of our Communion with God are fragile and the bonds of Communion within the Bride of Christ are fragile. They are fragile within marriage, as we know and they are fragile within the Church Herself. They can easily be broken by the violence of anger and hatred as much as by the dangers posed by the untamed and unrestrained expression of our sexuality. The Lord will not be pleased with us if we savage those who fall short in even priestly Christian duties or if we fail to show any kind of mercy to them.

Pray for Priests, pray for Bishops, pray for the Pope and if you can show 'give some definite proof of your love' to the individual that we should pray for, who has so sadly decided to leave his priestly ministry, do. We are called by Christ to love until it hurts. Even if it hurts, therefore, we can do nothing but love and if we wish to be forgiven, Our Lord tells us that we simply must forgive. Many, if not all of us can say that;

'My past is a trail of mortal sins, my present trail may very well be in the grace of God, but then, it's Monday.' 

Let us never tire of seeking God's mercy and implore His grace. We are fragile creatures. Therefore, let us not pass judgment on others. It doesn't serve us well and it doesn't serve the Lord Jesus and if we are in the state of Grace we will only stay there if we are humble.

Saturday 18 July 2015

Broken Chains

If ever a Catholic needed a reminder of just how much the stain of Original Sin affects our view of Almighty God and the Moral Law, a parish priest who has given up the priestly ministry for a 'new life' as a teacher has provided us with one. The striking symbolism used by this priest to publicly announce his feelings about leaving the Sacred Priesthood was a picture of broken chains with little regard to any broken hearts that may be created in the wake of his departure.

The truth is that we are offered holy freedom or slavery to our passions, to our vices, to the Devil and to our selfish inclinations, that we become lovers of the World and the flesh or lovers of God and our neighbour. We can seem at many times to inhabit both worlds but we cannot really serve two masters. We will eventually have to choose. Of course, it is very easy for us to see obedience to God, upholding and abiding by the moral law and living the Commandments as burdensome. Without God's grace, we easily fall into snares of the Enemy promising us some kind of freedom, if only we would throw off the shackles of God's laws. It is part of our fallen, fragile nature to see obedience to God as some kind of terrible imposition upon our freedom, rather than to seek the grace of God to live in holy freedom as children of God in the power of the Holy Spirit. Our 'escape route' from God can look so attractive, but we know as Catholics that in reality it is not at all. We know that the implications of this distortion of the truth from the father of lies has many terrible implications for us both in time and eternity.

The implications are social as well as personal. For instance, we can easily mistake people as a burden when in fact what we really see as a burden is the moral law itself. This will almost certainly inform the philosophy behind the assisted suicide debate. We can easily see the poor as a burden on society, or the elderly as a burden, or the terminally ill as a burden when in fact what we really see as the burden is the moral duty we have towards them, by showing them our compassion and care and doing what we can do to alleviate their plight.

Our entire vision of the meaning of our lives and even those of others, when we throw off the 'shackles' of the Divine law on which we will be judged by God, can be truncated, twisted, turned upside down until the lives of others, as well as ourselves, are rendered meaningless by our own quest for personal freedom, satisfaction and pleasure. And this is the way of the world. We can end up, quite easily seeing others in terms of our own freedom, using and abusing them in the process.

The real 'escape route', as we know, is the Sacrament of Confession in which we are healed, restored, absolved and forgiven by Our Lord Jesus Christ. Our real happiness lies in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ Who alone can satisfy our desires, which find their absolute fulfilment in the Godhead. The real escape route is in holy prayer and union with God. The dazzling attractions offered to us in the name of freedom by the Devil are distractions from our union with God, which he wishes, through great cunning and malice, to deprive God's children of. 'I want to break free' may express in music how so often we feel, but we will find ourselves chained in other ways, in manacles of iron placed on us by mortal sin, if we sever our Communion with God. Our Saviour tells us that the truth will set you free and for Him to set us free is to free indeed. The false kind of freedom of that we embrace through sin makes us slaves and creates victims of individuals, marriages, families, wounding the Church and society itself. This false conception of freedom is at the heart of the ongoing controversies and scandals of abortion, same-sex marriage, artificial contraception, IVF, assisted suicide, euthanasia, embryonic research, divorce, remarriage and every aspect of the culture of death.

We can easily fall into the trap of thinking that the love of our own wills and the indulgence of our passions or pleasures are the decisive factor in defining where our own happiness lies. Yet that which looks so appealing can so easily enslave us, wherein the irony of a fallen priest announcing his own feelings of leaving the secular priesthood to live a more 'secular life' altogether in terms of the 'breaking of chains' becomes tragically evocative and richly symbolic.

I've been reading some of the writings of St Louis De Montfort recently and - more than anyone I have read - the language of slavery appears in his writings. He actively promotes, with no hesitation at all - the slavery of the soul in holy love to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is there in his 'Consecration Prayer' after the 33 Days Consecration to Mary. Time and again his prayers, his meditations call the reader to a devotion to Mary and, through this Heavenly Mother, to Jesus, that is one of holy and devoted slavery.

How much we need priests - and Bishops - to promote devotion to Our Blessed Lady and the Blessed Sacrament, to be holy and dedicated clergy and bishops, whose love for God and zeal for souls leads them to proclaim that for Jesus and Mary to reign in the hearts, the souls and the bodies of Christians is to extend holy freedom everywhere and that to embrace our own desires in such ways that offend our Creator leads not to freedom but quickly to our enslavement to the Enemy of God and our Salvation. Let them lead us to pray, with the Psalmist, the acknowledgement that to devote oneself entirely to the Lord, through the loving heart of His handmaid, Mary, is to live in freedom, the freedom of God's grace, grace which is entirely unmerited on our part, but which, through the hands of Mary Immaculate, through the Sacraments of His Church, He desires to lavish on His children. Let us also pray for priests who are tempted, or who have left the priesthood in the pursuit of a false and perhaps immensely destructive ideology which they associate with freedom, that they, and we, can say...

'O Lord, for I am thy servant: I am thy servant, and the son of thy handmaid. Thou hast broken my bonds.'

Tuesday 14 July 2015

Ite Ad Joseph

St Joseph: Protector of the Universal Church
I've been wanting to write a post like this for ages, because it seems to me there is something profoundly wrong with the various proposals that are emanating from Rome recently and the kinds of noises that are being made. The primary noise that I hear is a call coming from Rome that says that the Church is the answer, or has the solutions to the many problems affecting people in 'difficult' pastoral situations.

I hope I know my faith, I'm no expert on prayer, nor am I any kind of expert on theology, my faith, I think is quite simple, but one thing I do know is that in every situation - in every personal conflict, Jesus Christ has the answer because He is the answer. He may not be the answer I always want, but the Answer He Is. No Pope, no Synod can possibly pull a rabbit out of the hat that will solve the difficult 'pastoral situations' faced by a number in the Church. All we can give people is Jesus.

I cast my mind back to - and perhaps forward to - the many obstacles and problems I have had - and may in future have, spiritual problems, life problems, career problems or even difficulties with a particular doctrine or duty of my state in life. I recall times in my life when I have been to see a priest to talk about my 'problems' - in great distress - and received comfort from that, but even more than that I am thankful to God that the Catholic Church has never, yet, attempted to change its fixed - 'inflexible' - positions especially on sexual matters to basically make my life, my 'Christian walk' easier.

Take, for example, the Catholic Church's position on homosexuality. Most readers will know that this is an issue of which I have plenty of knowledge and experience. As a married Catholic man, married - that is - to a woman, I am so thankful to God for my wife, even though marriage is both beautiful and demanding. Marriage is not always easy but is so wonderful to have someone to love - a very wonderful person - and somebody - another human being - to live for and, actually, to die for, since if there is a 'secret to happiness', we Catholics know that to live for ourselves brings us misery and to live for God and others - especially a special someone you cherish - brings great happiness. I know I do not do it well enough, but I know that to die to ourselves is to rise with Jesus Christ. The more I die, the more I rise, and if only I would let myself die to myself so completely that Jesus Christ may live in me fully. The Christian vocation to be re-made into the image of Christ is not easy but for us to follow Christ is to be on the path to true fulfillment and happiness.

The World gives us a completely different message which is the antithesis of the Gospel; that self-satisfaction, self-gratification, self-contentment, even to the point of self-adoration and glorification, will bring us happiness and it needs to be said that this is absolutely not true. It's a total lie born out by the experience of 100% of human beings who have tried it because even if it comes naturally, we know, deep down that it can't make us happy.

We cannot act purely out of self-interest and generate happiness for ourselves, at the same time, nor everybody, indeed, most likely not anybody else. And, as we have learned from various Communistic regimes that have unambiguously attacked the dignity of human life, the State can never solve this problem, much as it tries to, in the human condition of selfishness. Only God, Whom the State tries to replace, can help us to become selfless creatures, united to Him, living for Him. For all of us who are Catholics, to be made more and more into the image of the Son of God is a lifetime's work of daily Cross-bearing that may involve a multitude of falls and failures. Yet, we do know the Way. We cannot say we do not. It has been traced for us by Jesus Christ, yet not by Him alone. He is made manifest in the lives of His Saints and Martyrs.

The most obvious case is the life of Our Blessed Lady which we believe is one of complete self-abandonment to God and complete docility to His will and we can never point to her enough. Another example - and we do well to remember to pray to him as we run up to the Synod, is St Joseph, who the Church honours as Protector and Guardian of the Church, just as he was protector and guardian of the Christ-child and Our Lady. If we look at St Joseph, we see this strange - this unique - marriage to the Blessed Virgin in which there is seemingly nothing - absolutely nothing - in it for him. We honour Mary as the Mother of God, the Immaculate one, but St Joseph fills this other unique role as a father - a foster-father yet a true father figure - to the Incarnate Holy One and though we really don't know much about him, we know a few things which stand as an affront to modern conceptions of manhood and male behaviour especially.

We do not know how old St Joseph is when he enters into this mysterious marriage to the Blessed Virgin. We cannot be certain when he knew that this would be a unique marriage and that his role would be unique, but we can ascertain from his dream and from his responsiveness to God that this man is in this marriage for reasons that the World today simply could not recognise as normal or even comprehensible. It is doubtful, in my opinion, that Joseph enters into a marriage to a Virgin unaware that this marriage would never be consummated, since we believe that Our Lady had already consecrated herself to God entirely in the Temple. Yet, God still calls him, by the message of the Angel, to marry this most beautiful, this most holy, this most Immaculate Virgin. Immediately he is summoned to chastity and continence within Marriage. We don't know how much Joseph knows about what his role will be, nor how much the Blessed Virgin tells him of it, nor how much God tells him of it. All we do know is that he trusts God, listens to God and is obedient to God despite the fact that he, unlike Mary, is not sinless. It may be that, as holy tradition tells us, he was 'the most just man in the World at the time' - for how could God entrust the Virgin and His Son to a fool? - but the Church teaches that he was by no means Immaculate.

St Joseph's life tells us its never the right question...
Our Lady's holiness, even her sublime humility and her self-abasement may well have been almost effortless because she was unique as a creature. See with what simple love she responds to the message of the Angel Gabriel and says, 'I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you say.' Let is never be said that she responded with any anger or malice or even doubt towards God at any point in her life. We can imagine though, that St Joseph's sanctity will not have come without something of an interior struggle. We can say that much.

We say that Jesus is a man like all men - in all things but sin. We say that Our Lady was a woman like all women - in all things but sin, but we cannot say the same of St Joseph. Not being 100% 'full of grace', St Joseph will have faced a profound, perhaps ongoing, recurring 'interior struggle' - a battle between his own will, his own natural inclinations and thoughts of contentment and of doing God's will, living by faith and abandoning himself to God's Providence. His love is shown to be true and pure love, his faith purified as if in a furnace. He may even have suffered great anxiety at times as to what he was to do and think, inhabiting some of those blind spots and shades of grey that we, as imperfect creatures, do from day to day, lacking the constant light of God's own light held ceaselessly before the eyes of Our Lady. Yet this person - this mortal man like you and I - is entrusted with this incredible task of being a chaste husband and protector to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the sinless Queen of Heaven and Earth, and her Divine Son, Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Universe.

Consistently, the Church has pointed towards the Holy Family as the model of family life, the model of family prayer and of sanctity in marriage. The very life of the Son of God, the Eternal God entrusted to a mere man, as well as the protection of His Blessed Mother. So much at stake, so much entrusted to one man! And yet this marriage of perpetual continence is the model of happiness beyond our comprehension, despite the fact that involves no sex whatsoever while Joseph was a man like us - including original sin. How baffling the World would find that and even some in the Church. Just how relevant that is to the homosexual and the divorced and remarried, and to a great many in 'difficult pastoral situations', cannot be overstated.

That situation may not be what the vast majority of Catholic married couples are called to and yet - yet - St Joseph shows us by his obedience to God, by his life of virtue, by his faithfulness and loyalty, by his great charity and self-sacrificial love, that marriage is truly sacred and God has blessed and sanctified it by being born into it for our Salvation. "What's in this marriage for me?" does not appear to be a question that St Joseph asked, yet we might ask whether - and I mean not to slander him at all - he might have thought it at some point because, apart from protecting and honouring the Blessed Virgin Mary, serving her all the days of his life, adoring, reverencing the Lord Jesus Christ, teaching Him who is the Teacher of all mankind and the incomprehensible spiritual benefits of being the foster-father to the Incarnate God, in earthly terms, there was absolutely nothing in it for St Joseph.

Indeed, love wins, but only if you are truly interested in real love. Catholic men and women need to recover a sense of devotion, certainly, to our wives if we have them, and, if we have them, our families. We need to abandon the idea that the Church will 'concretely solve' every issue in our lives, our marriages and our 'difficulties'. St Joseph teaches us that we need to abandon ourselves to God's care, to the will of God and to prayer. We need to recover a sense of devotion to St Joseph. Catholic men in authority in the Church also need to recover devotion to St Joseph because, like him, they have been called as custodians and guardians and protectors of the Lord's Church and yes, the Lord Himself in the Eucharist. The heavenly reward of St Joseph and his great merits are known, though not widely spoken of in the Church today so much as they once were. So much of this debate over homosexuality, homosexual unions, divorced and remarried persons, concubinage and the rest goes straight to the heart of the matter about what does and what can and what cannot and does not make us happy in this life and blissfully happy in the next. If we desire to see what a just and virtuous man looks like, if we are still interested, we will look at the model of St Joseph and seek to imitate him. He had faith when not a great deal made much sense and yet he trusted God and was not put to shame.

If we trust in God's promises we, too, will not be put to shame. If you are attending the Synod in October and you are unsure where to go, what to say and what to do, if you feel called to be a wise, prudent and faithful steward, then go to Joseph. Even when everything seems completely opposed to Him, the World needs people - prelates, priests and laity, who will defend and protect the family, marriage and Jesus Christ. Was it much different in St Joseph's day? Let us think of the costs to what he may once have considered as his own contentment Joseph's vocation involved - a constant, daily, dying to self, becoming 'the spouse most chaste', to serve and protect the Lord and His Mother. Great things are demanded of us too - that we have faith even when confronted by the incomprehension of the world and its unholy demands which oppose Jesus Christ.

Remember and meditate on the blessed happiness of the Holy Family and the selfless service, the self-sacrificial love, the ardent charity that created this beautiful, happy, joyful and most blessed domestic life. It may not have been a marriage quite like 99.9% of marriages, but this was a marriage made in Heaven and it was 100% valid. What seems impossible to us is made sweet by God. The family - and marriage - under sustained attack in the Church and torn apart outside of it, have been sanctified, hallowed by the Son of God and through His Blessed Mother, yet St Joseph - too - co-operated in that sanctification. He said 'yes' too. His role can never - should never - be forgotten and if you are attending the Synod in October and you are unsure where to go, what to say and what to do, if you feel called to be a wise, prudent and faithful steward, then go to St Joseph. Indeed, whoever you are, pray to St Joseph for your needs and the urgent needs of the Church.

The Church, by and large, simply does not possess nor can possess the 'concrete solutions', to the myriad difficult pastoral situations that Catholics get involved in, but Jesus Christ does. It is a relationship with Him in His Church. We must be reminded by the Synod that our relationship with God is more important than anything else on the face of this Earth. God's mercy and His truth is what we must proclaim. Most likely, our situations require our radical transformation, not that of the Church's teachings and disciplines. Right now, the Church on Earth needs all the protection She can get, so as we approach the Synod, go to the Blessed Virgin Mary, but also, ite ad Joseph! I need him, you need him, we need him, marriage needs him, the family desperately needs him, the Church on Earth urgently needs him, his intercession and example. Family is in crisis, marriage is in crisis, gender is in crisis, the Church is in crisis. It may confound the expectations of most people but in the Holy Family, there was no internal crisis at all, only harmony, mutual respect and love of God and neighbour.

St Joseph, Protector of the Universal Church, ora pro nobis!

Friday 10 July 2015

A Bad Day at the Office

There simply are no words.

The Communist Crucifix was designed by a Jesuit.

What a surprise...

Shall we just say a bad day at the Office?

Monday 6 July 2015


“The Church will celebrate the Ordinary Synod devoted to the family, deepen her spiritual discernment and consider concrete solutions to the many difficult and significant challenges facing families in our time. I ask you to pray fervently for this intention, so that Christ can take even what might seem to us impure, scandalous or threatening, and turn it – by making it part of his 'hour' – into a miracle.”

The family “cannot be replaced by other institutions,” he added. For this reason, “it needs to be helped and strengthened, lest we lose our proper sense of the services which society as a whole provides.” 

Indeed, a "miracle" is needed in order to defend the Catholic Faith, the family, marriage require it most urgently. God's intervention is most surely needed in the Synod in order for the Church to resoundingly reject that which is a danger to souls, a danger to the family and a direct assault on the sanctity of marriage and upon the Holy Eucharist. So what 'concrete solutions' does His Holiness have in mind that would emerge as part of the "miracle?" What 'hour of Christ' does His Holiness mean?


"Watch ye therefore, because you know not the day nor the hour"?

"This is your hour - the reign of darkness"?

"Father, save me from this hour"?

Help me, I speak as one of the Chief Shepherd's flock. I am so confused it is as if I am looking at the world's most complicated and mysterious enigma. Christ's 'hour' is surely the final vanquishing of all evil and the full establishment of His justice, as well as the glorification of His mercy, in His Kingdom when He comes in glory as Judge, and, what is more, this will not abide by the 'law of graduality'. This will be in the blink of an eye.

A concrete proposal

Precisely what 'concrete proposals' does His Holiness believe Our Lord has in mind? It sounds like - but is not necessarily the case - that Pope Francis is saying that Our Blessed Lord is in some way going to endorse certain proposals at the Synod. Perhaps that is why what was roundly rejected by the Bishops by a majority was retained in parts of the Relatio and the Instrumentum Laboris. As for praying for the intention of 'concrete proposals'...

"...not my will but Thy will be done..." surely our prayer! I hope that the 'concrete solutions' His Holiness is praying for in his intentions is in line with the prayer taught to us by Our Lord which we dare to say. Unfortunately, Pope Francis has with his 'concrete proposals' intention, given us cause to wonder if it is truly the will of God that is being sought.

Do read a good article at One Peter Five on Our Lady of Good Success

It seems relevant, given that Pope Francis is in Ecuador.

I too have a 'concrete proposal'.

Start 'hot-beading' pronto!

Saturday 4 July 2015

Will 'Mystery Worshipper' be attending the AMEX?

Is the Ship of Fools 'mystery worshipper' going to the Diocesan Jubilee at the AMEX tomorrow? It is the question on everybody's lips in the Diocese. I suppose the rating for the rather pricey celebration will depend on the quality of the Maris Pipers in the interactive prayer room on the day.

Given the track record for ratings of parishes, I would be mightily disturbed if the Festival 50 liturgy gets 10\10. If the Ship of Fools author's ratings for parishes that revere the Blessed Sacrament and take the worship of God seriously are so low then what would a high score mean?

Paul Inwood's banal music, 'airplane carousels', a veritable marketplace of stalls, floral displays and more volunteer welcomers than you could possibly ask for will be present at the AMEX, as well as plenty of entertainment for the 'knife in the back of the priest after you have been to Mass' ratings bandit. Personally, when I experience liturgy that does not reflect what I have been taught is reverent and dignified, and then write about it, I try not to name the actual parish Church and do so using my name. I am praying very much that the Lord Jesus will not be distributed in uncleansable plastic bags or something atrocious like that. I hope very much that the Divine Liturgy will, at the very least, revere the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

Still, so much of this carnival was not organised by the new Bishop, Bishop Richard Moth, under whose leadership of the Diocese, things are already beginning to look a little different.

The question is, will the mystery consumer of religion like the Vestments? I do, so I am guessing the Diocese might not score well on the Vestments front. Good lighting at the AMEX, though, I hear even if its not a Victorian building. Still, there are always the potatoes...and Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor and his friends. Is there a plenary indulgence for attending this event? I do hope so! A and B there! A full report following this week!

Guild of Blessed Titus Round Up

I would like to draw readers attention to a fine and helpful analysis of the Synod on the Family, a blogpost by 'On the Side of the Angels' on The Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma blog. I've written a more general piece on related issues within the Church for the Guild here.

The Pope Who Won't Be Buried

It has been a long time since I have put finger to keyboard to write about our holy Catholic Faith, something I regret, but which I put larg...