Friday 27 March 2020

Knocking on Heaven's Door...

In explaining the importance of the Holy Eucharist to converts and to Catholics who don’t fully appreciate It, I would always be at pains to say something along the lines of the following:

The Supreme and Most Wonderful Sacrament is the Holy Eucharist (Holy Mass and Holy Communion), and for three main reasons:

[i] It is Jesus Christ our Lord and God Himself. We know this from Christ Himself for He said: “I am the living bread that has come down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread I will shall give for the life of the world is My flesh…Whoever eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood lives in Me, and I in Him…As I draw life from the Living father, so whoever eats Me will draw life from Me“ (John.6v51-57).  He fulfilled this promise of giving us His Flesh to east at the Passover when He took bread, blessed it, broke it and said, “Take, eat, for this is My Body (Luke 22v19). The Holy Eucharist, being Holy God Himself, is thus the power-source of all the other Sacraments and the origin -and goal- of our entire existence.

[ii] It is Christ’s Saving Sacrifice on the Cross made present to us, for Christ said, “This is My Body given up for you...My Blood which is shed for you” (Lk.22v19-20). So, as Saint Paul tells us, “When you eat this Bread and drink this Cup you are proclaiming the Lord’s death” (1.Cor.11v26). St Paul said, “We preach a crucified Christ” (1 Cor.1v23), and we preach not only by words but in our actions in the holy liturgy, where we mystically proclaim/announce/show the separation of Christ’s Body and Blood on the Cross by the separate consecration of the bread into His Body and of the wine into His Blood: “whenever we eat this Bread and drink this Cup…”

[iii] It brings Heaven to earth. Since the Holy Eucharist is God and wherever God is Heaven is, whenever we come to Mass we are coming to Heaven, there to love and be loved by Holy God in the presence of all the angels and saints  -and of all those who have died and are with God. Now, since Holy Mass is Heaven on earth, we do not need to die to go to Heaven -we only need to come to Mass, and since to come to Mass is to come to Heaven, to absent ourselves from Mass is to absent ourselves from heaven  –and who wants that?

You know, there is room for seeing Holy Mass as the door to heaven. How sad that at this time of the Covid-19 pandemic we find ourselves locked out of our Church’s and literally knocking on heaven’s door. Without meaning to, what the Church has done is to say ‘No entry to Heaven here today”. Let us pray that the pandemic ends soon, with lives saved and the grief of those who have already lost loved ones assuaged by communion with God.

Post Script:
As a former nurse educated in nursing way back in the 1980’s how can I not say ‘thank you’ to all those in the acute areas of health care receiving patients with Covid-19: Accident and Emergency rooms; Intensive care units, and medical wards dedicated to Covid-19 patients. We must thank our paramedics, consultants, ‘junior’ doctors, anaesthetists, nurses, Health Care Assistants, pharmacists, cleaners, porters, ward clerks, dieticians, physiotherapists, occupational therapists,  psychologists, psychotherapists, chaplains and a whole gamut of dedicated staff who are working in these highly stressful areas -and not only those but staff throughout our NHS. I shall offer private Masses for and end to the pandemic, the relief of patients and of family suffering, for the staff giving the care, and for the governments, advisors and scientists working to control and overcome this exceptional situation.

Tuesday 24 December 2019

Tomorrow is At Hand...

Tomorrow we celebrate a great event; the birth of God-made-man in the flesh of Blessed Mary, Ever-Virgin. It is a great thing we do, to celebrate His birth, but I would prefer that these celebrations were nine months earlier, that we might be reminded that life begins not at birth but at Conception. For nine months Our Lord was hidden from view in the womb of the Virgin, for it was truly God who was living and growing there; uniting to the Divine nature the nature of Man, that man might be redeemed by the Divine: “Unto us a child is born; a son is given…and His name will be Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9v6), thus dear St Joseph was told, “…do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the One conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a Son, and you are name Him Jesus, for He is the one who is to save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1v20,21). The depths of this great Mystery of the Incarnation may never be fully grasped in this world.

We may wonder too that the very DNA of Mary, Mother of the God-man, will taken up into heaven when her own life was over; that her Divine Son would welcome her into heaven in full recapitulation of all that was done by Adam and Eve from the very beginning, saying as He receives His Holy Mother: “At lasts this is flesh of My Flesh; Bone of My Bone”. No wonder the angels bow down as she enters heaven, for the flesh and blood she gave to Christ is now assumed into heaven -and His bodily glorification is somehow more complete, with every shred of His DNA being glorified.

Sadly the word around us does not recognise the great Mystery that is brought before us on Christmas Day: the birth of the Man-God. For the worldly soul, Christmas may be acknowledge as having come from Christianity, but has become for them no more than a celebration of family and a time of jollity. We Catholics on the other hand, rejoice that the uniting of the nature of man with the Divine Nature makes mankind children of God; the family of God. We Catholics therefore go beyond jollity to exultation and deep spiritual joy. For we shall look upon the crib and remember why Our Lord came to us: This is how much He loves us: that he  came to a suffering, dying world as one of us; came to suffer and die with us and for us, that He  may rise again and make death the door to eternal contentment and joy. As we gaze upon the representation of this in our family or parish crib, lets us remember that in the shepherds the poor are promised riches beyond all telling; the Magi given sight of Divine Wisdom; Wisdom beyond the learning of this world; a wisdom that the masters of this age do not know, while the star which lit up the sky to lead them is but a pale reflection of His Divine light which resides in the heavenly City; the New Jerusalem; “The city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminates it. And the Lamb is its light.” (Revelation 21v23)

Thursday 12 December 2019

Back to the Future for Renewal of the Church

Bishops and parish pastors each have their own vision for a ‘renewal’ of their Diocese or parish. In our own Diocese we have gone from erecting ‘Pastoral Areas’ with one Bishop to establishing to ‘Parish Partnerships” with his successor –partnerships which, even after a five year project, turned about to be little more than re-organising the boundaries of the ‘Pastoral Areas’ and renaming them ‘Parish Partnerships’ -especially since we had already been directed to share resources between parishes when we were Pastoral Areas. In reality, neither Pastoral Areas nor Parish Partnerships were anything more than a reorganising of boundaries and the encouraging of cooperation between parishes as the number of those attending Mass, seeking baptisms and marrying declined while the number of parishes and convents closing increased. In fact, the programmes we have put in place over the years have been nothing more than a way to manage decline, not a way to build and renew.

As long-time readers of this blog will know, I have always said that the programme which needs to be put in place is a return to the teaching of the Catechism in the schools and from the pulpit; ensuring the liturgy is celebrated according to the rubrics, and a promoting of authentic lay ministry via the Legion of Mary (which focuses on the Spiritual works of Mercy) and the SVP (which focuses on the Corporal Works of Mercy). I do not want to abandon that programme, but something needs to precede it: spiritual renewal.

It is past time to have all parishes re-establish weekly Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and a daily Rosary before Holy Mass. Any renewal that does not place Christ and His Holy Mother at its heart is bound to fail, for Christ in the Eucharist is the source and summit of the entire Christian life, and therefore essential in bringing about true renewal. Once renewal of the spiritual life and doctrinal formation of the people has taken hold we can refocus the people of God on those ministries upon which we will be judged according to Mathew 25: the spiritual and corporal works of mercy –easily achieved by establishing the Legion of Mary and SVP in every parish. 

This all sounds like a return to the past doesn’t it? Perhaps it is, but the path we took in 1965 to create a bright new future has not worked: it precipitated a rapid decline in marriages, baptisms, and priestly and religious vocations. Some folk –lay and ordained- profess the renewal brought about by Vatican II has been a great success. What they mean is we have created inauthentic roles for the laity wherein they ape their shepherds by a myriad of committees and groups wherein they engage in parish management and pastoral care (shepherding). As a result, we have brought about in the people of God a feeling (or belief?) that to be one of the sheep in God’s flock is just not good enough. Truly, the only way forward for the renewal of the Church is the go back for the sake of the future: back to correct doctrinal formation; back to a liturgy focused on the propitiation of God and the demonstrating of his triumph rather than continue a liturgy that focuses on celebrating and affirming the people, with the re-establishing of the SVP and Legion of Mary so that the people of God can make The Faith their own by the living out of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy and thereby grow in holiness ready for the event of Matthew 25.

Friday 25 October 2019

Staying Sane Re. The Amazon Synod

If reports are correct -and we have no reason to think they are not- the ordination of women as deacons and the ordaining of viri probati, as well as the adding of pagan ceremonies to the Sacred Rites, are all proposed by the Fathers of the Amazon Synod. If those suggestions are accepted by Francis we will be in a situation worse than at the time of the Protestant Revolt, for Luther, Zwingli, Henry VIII, at least had the integrity to establish their own communities distinct from Christ’s Catholic Church rather than deface it. In my lowly opinion, if Francis’ follow-up document does follow the false lights presented by Lucifer and his minions (and as yet we can still hope and pray he does not), we do not -and should not- follow it, because we do not have to follow error and/or deviations from the Deposit of Faith.

Since it is generally accepted that Pope Francis was validly elected, does that mean he must be blindly followed< No. Why? Because a pope is as much bound by Sacred Tradition as we are –if not more so, for he is supremely called to defend and promote it. To act in such a way as to suggest that all his predecessors were wrong and he is right would be to demonstrate an arrogance of diabolical origin. After all, the gift of infallibility is granted to the holder of the papacy for the holy performance of his office -the defence and promotion of the faith: “the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter that by His revelation they might make known new doctrine, but that by His assistance they might inviolably keep and faithfully expound the Revelation, the Deposit of Faith, delivered through the Apostles(Pastor Aeternus #6). If a Bishop of Rome uses his office to alter the Church in her teachings, disciplines and worship to his own tastes rather than to defend and promote the Faith of the centuries, he is not doing his job and as such, and cannot access the gift of infallibility given by God for the right use of the office, which is to “inviolably keep..the Deposit of Faith delivered through the Apostles”. We do not have to accept any teachings of a pope, synod or Council if they deviate from the faith of the centuries -just as the Church did not have to follow Liberius. Francis will not doing his job if he allows pagan worship to be adopted into the liturgy, or allows the destruction of the key sacrament for accessing the sacraments (Holy Orders) by ordaining women and viri probabti, and we do not need to follow him on such a path.

Where does all this leave us? Can we simply elect another Pope and forget about Francis? Not at all; he remains our supreme pastor on earth. But we don’t owe him unquestioning obedience: we obey our superiors obedience “in all that is not sin” (cf. USA Baltimore Catechism #3, Answer 1259, and UK Penny Catechism Answer197) and it is surely sinful to allow pagan rites into worship and to alter the divine constitution of the Church in the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

It seems clear that Francis himself accepts that we are not obliged to follow him if he (or anyone else) teaches contrary to the Deposit of Faith, for he says false teachers “separate themselves from the community”: (Amoris Laetitia #297, “Naturally, if someone flaunts an objective sin as if it were part of the Christian ideal, or wants to impose something other than what the Church teaches, he or she can in no way presume to teach or preach to others; this is a case of something which separates from the community (cf. Mt 18:17). Such a person needs to listen once more to the Gospel message and its call to conversion” [italics mine]. What is the way forward if a pope himself deviates from the Faith and thereby separates himself from the community? One can only make some suggestions.

First, pray for his recognition of Christ the True Light and his ability to recognise Lucifer’s false lights for what they are, for if/when he impose[s] something other than what the Church teaches, he can in no way presume to teach or preach to others; he needs to listen once more to the Gospel message of conversion. That message is not altered by a God of surprises”, for God is unchanging and has no surprises up His sleeve:Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb.13v8); “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change..” (Jas.1v17); "Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it" (Deut.12v32). There is no God of surprises; that is a ruse to have us accept new teaching contrary to what was handed on from the beginning “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind” Num.23v19. “Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it” (Deut.4v5)

Second, give the pope what we might call a ‘discriminating obedience’ in his changes to doctrine, liturgy and discipline for we have a moral right to refuse obedience to that which is sinful. By such ‘discriminating obedience’ we do not enter into formal schism, so we shall not be cutting ourselves off from the Vicar of Christ and Holy Mother Church. If the worst happens and we fall into material schism, we can remember that it is schism from a Church defective in its teaching and disciplines, while we remain in Communion with Holy Mother Church throughout the ages.

Third, wait patiently for God to give Holy Mother Church a shepherd after His own Heart; a new Elijah to fight against idolatry, and a new Josiah; a new Deuteronomic reformer of discipline and worship to re-form the law and liturgy according to what went before the emergence of Modernism and its resurgence and empowerment in the middle of the 20th Century.

Fourth, learn your Faith from the documents and Catechism of the Council of Trent. For children use the Baltimore Catechism in the US and the Penny Catechism in the UK.

Five, try to attend the Traditional Form of Mass where the liturgy is free from Father’s (or the liturgy committee’s) idiosyncrasies.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, Protector of the Church, pray for us.
Saint Boniface, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.

Monday 21 October 2019

'pachamama' thrown in the river

Applause, admiration and prayers of blessing for those who took the symbol of the pagan goddess ‘mother earth’ from the Church of St Maria Traspontina and dumped it in the Tiber (see link below)

Now that it has gone it seems the Vatican press office is able to admit it was a symbol of “life…and mother earth”. Prefect of Communications Paolo Ruffini provided the initial response, saying that the idols represent life and Mother Earth — exactly. The response shows the Vatican just doesn't get it (cf Much Militant here video 2:25 seconds to2:35 seconds).

The displaying of pagan idols in the house of the One True God during the Synod was a signal that paganism is likely more respected by our shepherds than Catholicism. Such a thing is nothing less than diabolical; it is the honouring of demons: “Am I saying that either the idols or the food sacrificed to them is anything? No, I am not. That food is really sacrificed to demons and not to God” (1 Cor.10v19-20). What is worse is that the same shepherds display another copy of that idol in the hall where they deliberate how to take the Gospel to pagan peoples, and it seems another is placed in St Peter’s.

Forget about honouring other religions; that is not what we are about; we respect the people of other religions, but we cannot respect a religion that is not of God. if the idols of other faiths is to be respected, why did Elijah smash the idols, and why did Boniface chop down a sacred oak? We cannot fall into the trap of respecting paganism. Indeed, God sent us into the world to replace other religions with the Gospel, not to honour them.

We desperately need synod prelates with the wisdom and courage of Elijah and Josiah to get the Church back on track. If they want to reach pagan peoples, we ought to do what the Church did so successfully for 2000 years: preach the Gospel unadulterated, and offer worship that is entirely Catholic, not polluted with paganism. It seems to me that we lost people from the Church in the Amazon when we stopped sending missionaries with the Gospel in their hearts and instead sent missionaries with social-work in their heads, preaching an earth-bound salvation by social liberation, and not salvation from hell by liberation from paganism and sin.

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.