Friday, 18 October 2019

Francis' Amazon Synod

I have not written posts for a long time and cannot say when I will do another, not only because my health status depletes my energy levels but because in today’s Church there seems to be nothing but to comment on but damaging change, especially noticeable in the Synod on the Amazon where paganism is being applauded and accommodated. While our battle is “not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, powers and rulers of this dark age” (Eph.6v12), yet in temporal terms we are doing battle with the Church’s highest-ranking shepherds. Sadly, this has to include Pope Francis, whom the secular world has embraced because they see in him what many Catholics see, that is, an accommodation to the ways of the world: re-marriage after divorce (here), the anti-life practices of contraception (here) and homosexual acts (here) and even of paganism by seeking to the give the Church an Amazonian face (sinodoamazonico #7, here). 

This accommodation of secular ideologies and paganism is supremely regretful since the eternal welfare of souls is at stake. I cannot help but call to mind two texts from Holy Scripture that our shepherds seem in need of re-hearing and taking to heart. One is an instruction: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not let yourselves be carried be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings” (Heb.9v13). The other is a warning: “Woe to you when the world speaks well of you, for that is how they treated the false prophets” (Lk.6v26). Those who were elevated by Francis to the Episcopacy, the Cardinalate or to high rank in Rome might well be troubled in heart these days; they may be concerned that they were elevated because they are seen as men who will not rock the Francis boat; men who do not fully adhere to the faith of the Centuries but are willing to adapt it (or even dispose of it) in order to gain the favour of the world -or perhaps just to feel themselves enlightened beyond the men of the past whose office they inherited; ‘Gnostic’ men with special insight and knowledge.

The buzz words of today’s episcopacy and the Synod -dialogue, listening and accompanying- are falsely applied to the Church’s mission. “Dialogue” has no place in Catholicism because we were not commanded to “Go, dialogue with all nations” but to “Go, teach all nations” (Matt.28v19).if they accept it, alleluia! If they do not, we don’t then syncretise The Truth with error; darkness with The Light; poison with The Food that leads to eternal life. Amazon Synod Fathers please take note: we are not meant to modify the Church according to pagan cultures but to replace paganism with Catholicism by authentic evangelisation: the faithful, unadulterated preaching of the Gospel. Paganism has nothing to add to the Divine Revelation given us by God Himself. If there are elements of the Faith that God has seeded in the ways of pagan religions they are there so that we can bring those seeds to fruition by showing how they prepare them for the Gospel, not so that we can adopt them. We have to be like St Paul and say “you are ignorant of the very thing you worship--and this is what I am going to proclaim to you” (Acts 17c23). Paul did not say let us add the unknown god to The Way.

As for “listening”, what see in Rome today is not genuine ‘listening’ but selective hearing; those of us who defend the True and Traditional Faith handed on through the centuries are not ‘listened to’ but dismissed; regarded as rigid and perhaps mentally ill and (here). Those who are listened to by Rome are those willing to modify (and thereby destroy) the Church in her structures, disciplines, teachings and liturgies by accommodating paganism and modern ideologies –a natural consequence of believing that Christ is not God-made-man -for if Christ was not God when He walked the earth, why listen even to Him?

Then there is the idea of “accompanying”; of walking with those who live a life Traditionally seen as a life of sin. How do we accompany someone who lives in sinful ways? To accompany rather than challenge them is to affirm them in their sins and put their salvation at risk by making their sins appear acceptable or even good: more holy than even a sacramental state. We are not called to accompany but to correct; with gentleness and respect sure, but also with clarity and conviction.

I am praying the prayer to St Michael and my Rosaries for the Synod, that the hearts and minds of our shepherds may love Truth, seek Truth, live Truth and advance The Truth. This world is filled with false lights where truth is distorted as it was in the Garden of Eden when the devil took the truth that man is made in the image and likeness of God and distorted it by presenting the tree of good and evil as a way of becoming more like God. It was this distortion and manipulation of the truth which caused man to fall into hell. Please God our shepherds do not do the work of the devil all over again by syncretising the Truth with the errors –the ideologies- of the modern world and of paganism.

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Congratulations and God Bless...updated

Andrew and Stephanie taking their vows before Our Blessed Lord…2.35pm 22nd June 2019

May God grant you, Mr and Mrs McDowell, His greatest graces today 
and in all the days to come.

Father Dickson

Dear Andrew and Stephanie,
A wedding day is a great day; a day where two people say to one another, “I trust you with all I ever was, all I am, and all I ever will be.” Today you your make each feel like the most important wonderful person in the world; you must do the same tomorrow, and the day after that, and all the days to come. While today you are the centre of attention from your new spouse; from your family and from your friends, remember today is not really your day at all; it is Holy God’s day, since it is His sacrament you have entered, and for His purposes. I pray for His blessing upon your future life together; upon on all the new life He may bring into the world through you, and upon the families through you which you yourselves came into the world.

Remember that you are not creating a world made for two; you are adding a new branch to two family trees, but you are a branch, not a new plant. Be prepared to seek help and support from your families when you need it, for you can never expect one person (your spouse) to be the answer to your every need -no one can be that for us but Holy God alone. As Saint Augustine said, “You have made us for yourself O Lord, and our hearts are restless ‘till they rest in Thee”.  Remember too however, that while you will seek the support of your families when you need it, you also need boundaries to ensure support is given only when asked for, or only when you have accepted an offer of support. otherwise that support can become intrusion, even interference.

I really wanted to include a nice, romantic note, and the first thing that sprang to mind was “Today, all your dreams come true” –but my head wouldn’t let me say that without adding “tomorrow, the nightmare begins”  - the reality of life's daily drudgery; of going to work and coming home to the paying of bills, the taking out of the trash, the repairs, the cooking, the cleaning and the nappy changing –and the even more difficult task off living together in give and take. All of which is followed by more work; more bills, more house cleaning, more give and take etc. What an adventure you are embarking upon! Bear in mind that once the romance of today wears off and the reality of everyday life sets in, you have God working with you. Life is not easy for anyone; we all take up our cross daily to follow the Lord, and marriage brings its particular difficulties and blessings as you seek to live with one another’s strengths (which can support you but can also overpower you) and flaws (which can drain you). You are jigsaw pieces that can never fit perfectly because each of us is marred by the defects that flow from the original sin, so bear with one another; be kind, be patient. Keep in mind that in all the “better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness and health”, Holy God is with you, and will fill your journey with His grace. Cooperate with that grace day by day by giving Him first place in your lives, for in marriage you provide the conditions in which your spouse’s spiritual life can thrive or depart, though your first responsibility is to save your own soul. Put the Lord at the centre of your life, your marriage and your family life. Pray together every day, and receive the Sacraments regularly. I pray that God bless you with health, happiness and holiness –today, and all the days to come.
P.S. I know I haven’t prayed for health and wealth; but I do pray for “enough to get by” as my mum would say, since “it‘s hard for the wealthy to enter the Kingdom of heaven”. (Mark 10v23).  “Build your treasure in” (Matt.6v19,20). Stay strong in The Faith.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

From Andrew: News of an upcoming Wedding...mine!

(Our E.F. Betrothal (engagement) ceremony; June 9th 2018)

I am writing to share some happy news with you. This past year and a half has been very eventful for me, encompassing both sadness and joy. I have become engaged to Stephanie Hogan (that's us in the picture above) which is a joy; embarked upon a new career, which is a challenge, and recently relocated to the South of England, 300+ miles away from family and friends, which has brought some sadness.  Still, it has reminded me of how much love an affection I have enjoyed during my life -and am still privileged to have. It is sad that many of my friends and family are unable to join us for the wedding due to the distance, but I know they hold us in their hearts and prayers, and I look forward to celebrating the Holy Sacrifice with them all in Durham a fortnight after the wedding (post honeymoon!)

On the topic of 'joining us'...I extend an invitation to both Masses: our Nuptial Mass and the Mass in Durham for our intentions. While every Mass is a public event, Stephanie and I warmly invite you to join us. For those who are unable to attend the wedding, the parish live-streams all its Masses so here is where you can join us on-line:

The details of our wedding are below. We humbly ask your prayers for our needs and intentions, and for our loved ones both near and far. We shall be praying for you too, that the Lord will sanctify us all and lead us all to the eternal enjoyment of the Beatific Vision.

Nuptial Solemn Mass in the Extraordinary Form
Saturday 22nd June 2019 at 2:30pm
at the Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart,
Richmond Hill, Bournemouth, BH1 1BZ

Sung Mass in the Extraordinary Form
Followed by a small buffet
Saturday 6th July 2019 at 12 noon
at Sacred Heart and English Martyrs Catholic Church,
Dunelm Road, Thornley, County Durham, DH6 3HA

Thursday, 7 March 2019

A Good Lent, Bishops, Priests and Laity

It has long been my practice on Ash Wednesday to preach about making Lent a time of real change. For too many of us Catholics Lent has become what is has for secular folk: giving something up for Lent only to take it up again afterwards. It’s like bracing ourselves for six weeks than letting go. The aim of spiritual renewal has gone for too many Catholics. Have we not all heard folk say “I’m trying to be good for Lent”? That is not a bad aim, but it is woefully inadequate and a wrong use of the sacred season. I have preached that when we get to the end of Lent we should have new habits: more patience, more prayer, more charity; less gossip, less greed, less selfishness. We should be changed people at the end of Lent, and that change should be a lasting change, otherwise we have had a bad Lent. Sadly, that change rarely comes about. I have never hidden the fact that I aim to get to the end of Lent more patient, more generous, more humble, more prayerful, more affirming of folk and more careful with my tongue: it is all too easy to sit with a group of people -even fellow priests- and complain about one’s Bishop, or the Pope, or the belligerent parishioner. We call it “sounding off in a safe place”, but that is nothing more than a justification of and a re-labelling of the sin of detraction. Since this is a sin into which I have fallen, I have had to find ways to avoid it and correct myself. Thus I give penitents the advice that if they are in a conversation where detraction is taking place to simply say “Well I can’t say anything because I have my own faults”, which might prick the conscience of those in conversation with us. And when we have had the misfortune to fall into detraction with the crowd we should quickly find something for which we can affirm the person whose reputation we have just damaged, so that some kind of reparation can be made.

Priests can often become victims of calumny and detraction from their parishioners (and sometimes brother priests) whose theological positions they do not share. Meanwhile the bishops and the Pope can be victims of calumny and detraction from the priests (and some laity). Today I am not only thinking about encouraging the laity to grow in virtue, but about the kind of Lent we need from our Pope and Bishops who all too easily harm the reputation of Traditional priests whose theological positions they are irritated by. So it seems to me the kind of Lent we need from the Bishops comes down to one thing: a return to upholding the doctrine of The Faith rather than espousing the ‘values’ of the world,  and the celebration of liturgy that puts God at the centre rather than the affirming and the uplifting of the people.

I have watched some videos on YouTube recently that show how very disturbed many Catholics are and what little hope many have of the Church getting out of her current crisis of faith. Why? Because they see Pope Francis as a abandoning Tradition with Amoris Laetitia, abandoning the Divine Command to teach and baptise all nations and as having stacked the College of Cardinal-Electors with men of his own ilk; men who are
willing to support Holy Communion for those in the adulterous situation of civil ‘remarriage’ after divorce;
willing to allow the recent summit on sex abuse to be used only as a (necessary) means of tackling the failures of presbyter-priests when in fact it was homosexual predation of seminarians and young priests by an Episcopal-priest (a cardinal) that brought abuse back into the headlines;
willing to say that all religions are willed by God and that anyone can be saved as long as they are following their paganism sincerely;
willing to promote liturgy that affirms the folk and seeks to give them emotional uplift rather than give praise, adoration and propitiation (appeasement) for sin to Almighty God).
It occurred to me that a number of cardinals and Bishops created by Francis may now be questioning their own Catholicism; that they may well be asking themselves:  “Am I only a Bishop/Cardinal because I have been judged far enough away from the Deposit of Faith to carry on the legacy of discontinuity with our sacred history? Do I really want to meet God as a man removed from the Gospel of Christ and distanced from the Apostolic Deposit of Faith God called me to defend and promote?”  Similarly, priests might be asking if they were advanced to ordination by their Bishop because they were seen as men sufficiently distanced from the Deposit of Faith.  If cardinals, Bishops and priests are asking such questions, then Lent is a great opportunity for change and re-conversion.
These are not easy days for anyone in the Church. All of us need to be changed people at the end of it. Whether Pope, bishop, priest or layman, we all need to grow in virtue by trying during this Lent to eradicate our faults and build their opposite virtues. 

We also need to recommit ourselves to the Deposit of The Faith as defined by the Council of Trent. Why Trent? Because Trent defined The Faith without ambiguity when it was under attack at the Protestant Revolt, and therefore the Council in light of which we must read the decrees of Vatican II so as to discern the continuity and discontinuity with The Faith contained therein, so as to abide by the continuity and discard the discontinuity. If today’s crisis has any cause -other than the wickedness of the devil which is at the core of all sin and division- it is that for the past 50 years the Church has read and implemented Vatican II the wrong way round: promoting the discontinuity and abandoning the continuity contained therein so as to garner favour from the contemporary age.  
Lord, help us all, especially those who govern and who are people of influence, to desire Truth; seek Truth, love Truth and live Truth -so that virtue may grow and charity abound. Per Christum Dominum Nostrum. Amen.

Monday, 4 February 2019

The War Against The Unborn

Pregnant mothers are the concern of Pro-life people everywhere; pro-lifers seek to help the mother find a better solution for themselves and their child than abortion, and to help post-abortive mothers to overcome the trauma of their abortion. 

Many post-abortive mothers deeply regret their abortions; many 'chose' abortion because they felt trapped by their circumstances and felt they had no choice but to abort their babies (so ‘freedom of choice’ and the ‘right to chose’ are not honest slogans). Thank God there is a place where post-abortion regret can become a healthy sorrow which is understood and absolved: the Christ's Catholic Church. While the Church is passionately pro-life, she is also passionately caring toward those who have taken the step of aborting their child or children, and offers absolution/forgiveness and healing (in that order) to those who have made such a choice. There are many ministries today that help such mothers find that healing, such as Rachel’s Vineyard. It would be shameful for any Catholic not to hold out the hope of emotional/psychological healing and the forgiveness by absolution for any mother who has accessed abortion. But it is equally wrong for legislators to give men and women the impression that abortion is OK by passing laws which allow it. Too many women and men have been swayed by the fact that “this is legal so it must be OK”. That is no different to saying, as many did 200 years ago, that “Slavery is legal so it must be OK”. Only after mothers have accessed abortion do they experience the trauma, depression of regret and the feelings of guilt so often brought on by abortion, or simply the feeling of being somehow blocked in life. Yet the war against the unborn goes on by those who promote abortion.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is reported to have said, “I’m here to represent all the people and the constitutional rights and limitations for all the people, not as a Catholic.” (SeeLifesite News here).  What an odd statement: he thinks unborn children (some of whom receive life-saving operations while still in the womb) need no representation against those who would take their life for reasons such as inconvenience to one’s career; the hiding of an illicit affair, or financial struggles. Apparently, if money is short; if you don’t want your husband or your lover’s wife to find out about your affair, or if you don’t want to miss out on that promotion or business trip, it is fine to kill your child –even up to the point of birth in some cases.

This is the attitude one detects in Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam who is reported to have suggested that a proposed bill allowing abortion up until the moment of birth would also allow doctors to refuse to resuscitate an infant born alive after a failed abortion "if that’s what the mother and the family desire." (See Lifesite News here)

What a horrific, Nazi-style society we in the West have become under the guise of women’s rights. What right does anyone have to kill children? I am horrified, outraged when fellow clergy abuse children, and most folk share that outrage. Yet many if not most of those same folk would support the killing of children just because of their location: they are inside the womb not out of it; out of sight is, apparently, out of consideration.

Yet if we fail to respect the humanity and dignity of the unborn we can never respect the humanity and dignity of the born; if we can kill innocent children in the womb, how are we ever going to justify the right to life for anyone? What foundation is there for social justice if we can take innocent life with abandon? Our right to a fair wage, to good working conditions, to good health care, good education, good housing, the right to freedom from violence and oppression, all depend upon us being alive to access those rights -and we cannot defend these rights for anyone is we don’t uphold the right to life for everyone regardless of their location. After all, the only difference between the born and unborn is their location: inside the womb or outside the womb. That said, Mr Northam does appear to want us to have the right even to kill the born “if that’s what the mother and family want”.

In these days when science has the standing that it does, there is no logic to the slogan “My body, my choice”, for it is not her body she is aborting: the child has his own DNA from the moment of conception; his tubal heart beat begins to beat at around day 18; his fingers and toes are present from around day 56. Fundamentally, he has his own body and his own right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Pro-abortion language is too often a a smokescreen, for both embryo and foetus simply and correctly describe a stage of human life: foetus, embryo, baby, infant, teenager and adult are all stages of human life. Yet human babies can be killed at will. What a Nazi society the West has become. This is not progress. This is the Culture of Death at its worst: the killing of children; the ultimate in child abuse which harms not only the child but the mother too (often physically as well as psychologically).

The West has become pro-abortion not for women’s rights, but to allow for sex without responsibility; we have a culture of hedonism which seeks pleasure by drink, drugs, and sex with abandon, -for which the unborn child pays with his life, and for which the mother will often find herself depressed, guilt-ridden and blocked. We must always seek to console and support; to heal and help the mothers, and protect and promote the life on the unborn child. This must not be a war on mothers -the pro-abortion folk are fighting that war. Our must be a war for the healing of those harmed by the Culture of Death; for the healing of post-abortive mothers and the protection of the unborn child. Never judge the mother; seek to heal her soul and mind, and always protect the unborn child.