Our Lady of the Wayside

Our Lady of the Wayside
Protect Expectant Mothers and Their Babies


Friday 28 January 2011

Old Rite, Sung Mass on The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

On the second Friday of each month The Latin Mass Society organise an Old Rite Mass for The Good Counsel Network at Corpus Christi Church, Maiden Lane, London, WC2E 7NB, at 6.30pm. Most months it is just a low Mass, but as the 2nd Friday of February happens to be the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, the 11th, we will have a High Mass. Numbers for this Mass were up this month, with about 30 or so people in attendance, this is in part due to a number of young Catholics who now attend this Mass each month and then go out for dinner together. For details of the meal see Juventutem
Fr Hayward, our normal Celebrant is away, so Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP will offer the Mass. Most of you will know of Father from his sermon which appeared on this blog Please attend this Mass if you can as it one of the few chances each month to go to a Mass offered for a Pro-Life group. Father has to travel to London from Reading to offer this Mass.
h/t to Fr Finigan for the picture.
Stuart McCullough

Thursday 27 January 2011

I'm Keeping My Baby Because I Am Getting the Help I Need

‘Annabelle’ had phoned marie stopes' abortuary on Whitfield Street, and made an appointment for an abortion. 'It’s a week from Christmas…everyone else is getting their mince pies and getting their Christmas tree ready and here I am preparing for an abortion', thought Annabelle.
Walking along the roads that led to the abortuary, Annabelle felt a profound, dark foreboding, she had that strong gut feeling that said, Don’t do this. An old friend walked alongside her, her friend had said nothing when Annabelle asked her to come with her to the abortuary. But now she turned to Annabelle and asked, ‘what’s wrong? You’re meant to be going to the clinic.’
Annabelle felt herself go leaden and heavy and almost crying, she said to her friend, ‘but I wish that I didn’t have to do it. If I just got some help instead of an abortion, I wouldn’t think of the abortion again.’
Her friend looked confused. ‘I know, but the place that we are going to only does abortions. It’s not like you can go in there and ask them to give you help with rent instead of an abortion. But I suppose we don’t have to go there…’ Annabelle imagined lying down on the cold operating table while outside people were bustling down the street with bags of Christmas presents for their children at home.
Annabelle turned the corner and as she approached the building, someone tried to speak to her and handed her a blue help leaflet. Annabelle didn’t really hear what they were saying; she was lost in her own thoughts. Her friend, who was now perplexed at bringing Annabelle to the abortuary, spoke to someone who was praying outside the clinic and said sadly, ‘If she got the help she needs, she wouldn’t have the abortion.’ Annabelle read the blue help leaflet given to her by the pray-er, and walked out of the ‘clinic’ with relief washing over her.
Annabelle has come to speak to us about her needs, and she says that her friend felt wrong that she wasn’t able to give her practical advice or financial help when raising the baby on her own. In many ways this is all too typical of the friend or family member who accompanies a girl to an abortion, the friend or family member may never have been taught the evil of abortion, and may feel powerless to help the pregnant mother. Monsignor Reilly corroborates this after spending years outside many abortion clinics all over the world, from Russia to New York to Ealing. The friend or family member is still doing something entirely immoral, but like Monsignor Reilly advises, they often know not what they do, and we must meet them with the same compassion that we meet the pregnant mother.
Like so many of the women who come after getting the blue help leaflet, Annabelle keeps the leaflet safely in her handbag and when she is describing how she left the clinic, she holds up the blue help leaflet and says, ‘I got this and I left marie stopes.’

Mary O' Regan

Thursday 20 January 2011

Join the Novena Against Abortions At Home

John Smeaton talks today about SPUC's attempt to prevent even further loosening on the law surrounding the administering of the Abortion Pill:
We at SPUC have said that we will seek leave to intervene in a court case on the legality of so-called bedroom abortions. We are responding to a High Court challenge launched by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), one of Britain’s main abortion providers. BPAS is seeking to widen the scope for using the drug misoprostol, used in conjunction with RU486, the abortion drug. BPAS uses the drugs to poison the uterine environment and kill unborn children. Allowing misoprostol to be taken at home will increase the numbers of women delivering their dead child at home.
The abortion pill is a horrible spin on abortion which draws women in because they think "I will just take a tablet and my period will come", conjuring up a rather different picture than surgery - where even the tiniest of babies are torn limb from limb (and yes they do have 4 limbs when surgical abortion begins at 6-7 weeks).
In reality no abortion is that simple of course. The abortion pill has two stages - the first pill starves the baby of progesterone - nourishment for the baby and the continuing pregnancy - so causing the baby to quickly wither and die. Then 1 or 2 days later the returns to the abortuary for a second pill which will cause contractions and the delivery of her dead baby. No wonder one of the manufacturer's described it as an appalling psychological ordeal!
So BPAS - the largest UK abortion provider and hand in glove with the NHS - now wishes to give the first stage pills and send the woman home with the second stage pills to abort alone.
What difference will this make? Many women already lose their baby at home and alone after the first or second stage. Yet there is something new here; women can now be promised that they can come and get their pills and then carry out the whole procedure at home. A great offer for those women who desperately want this over quickly and privately. It's all the more tempting, and sounds all the more trivial if I can just take a couple of tablets at home...Almost like the morning-after-pill.
Yet these women find to their cost that the abortion pill is a false promise. Abortion still kills her blossoming child and it still wounds or sometimes even kills the Mother. Abortion still exacts a deadly psychological toll - perhaps worse when it is done by her own hand. The side effects of the drug range from sickness to prolonged heavy bleeding and - anecdotally at least vomitting, vomitting blood, anaemia, and the standard abortion complications - infection, future ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages. This drug also remains in the woman's system causing concerning symptoms and confusing changes to her health and her menstrual cycle.
And it is becoming more and more common. Many women who fear a surgical abortion being prepared to risk what they imagine is "just a tablet".
There is also a worrying issue over possible weakening of the conscience clause if BPAS's case succeed.
So let us pray and fast for the failure of the BPAS case, that SPUC's intervention will succeed and that the real intentions of all involved will be exposed and that evil will be overthrown.

The following Novena was posted today by Ecumenical Diablogger.
On 28th January (New Rite Feast of St Thomas Aquinas) the BPAS will go to court to seek the right to have the abortion pill taken by women at home. Please therefore say the following prayers each day for the next nine days;
Please join in whatever day you come across this, even if you are starting late:
Tantum ergo Sacramentum
veneremur cernui:
et antiquum documentum
novo cedat ritui:
praestet fides supplementum
sensuum defectui.
Genitori, Genitoque
laus et iubilatio,
salus, honor, virtus quoque
sit et benedictio:
procedenti ab utroque
compar sit laudatio.
Sancte Thoma, ora pro nobis

Or in English;
Down in adoration falling,
Lo! the sacred Host we hail;
Lo! o'er ancient forms departing,
newer rites of grace prevail;
faith for all defects supplying,
where the feeble sense fail.
To the everlasting Father,
and the Son who reigns on high,
with the Holy Ghost proceeding
forth from Each eternally,
be salvation, honor, blessing,
might and endless majesty.
St Thomas, pray for us

Prayer for the Conversion of England

O Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother look down in mercy upon England thy Dowry and upon us all who greatly hope and trust in thee. By thee it was that Jesus our Saviour and our Hope was given unto the world and He has given thee to us that we might hope still more. Plead for us thy children whom thou did receive and accept at the foot of the cross O sorrowful Mother, Intercede for our separated brethren that with us in the one true fold they may be united to the Chief Shepherd the Vicar of Thy Son. Pray for us all dear Mother that by faith, fruitful in good works we may all deserve to see and praise God together with thee in our heavenly home. Amen.

(for the prayers for Wales or Scotland click here )
Clare McCullough

Wednesday 19 January 2011

When Everyone Thinks Its Their Right To Tell You To Abort

‘My grandmother asked me when I had my third child, if I had used contraception and said that, to her, I seemed kind of slow for getting pregnant a third time. It’s not as if I was a single mother – my husband earned good money and here I was – being lectured on why I didn’t prevent my baby girl coming into my belly in the first place!’ exhaled ‘Michaela’.

In recent years, Michaela and her husband have separated. Michaela cites a key reason being that she is from a Christian background while he was brought up in a Muslim home. ‘Sahid’ has not practised as a Muslim since leaving Iraq, and Michaela has never really practised her Christian faith – she said that they just used to write the word on forms. Michaela is from a post-communist country. She and her husband had a civil wedding when she was heavily pregnant with their first child.

Michaela was very upfront that her husband had put her under strenuous pressure to abort her first child. ‘If you were a Muslim wife, you would do what I say and abort it. How can I stay in a marriage with you if you won’t even act like a Muslim wife?!’ was the line that her husband used with her.

Michaela suspects that her husband ‘Sahid’ saw his own father put his mother under pressure to have abortions when Sahid was a child. But Sahid gets cross and defensive if she asks him whether this really happened and says something like, ‘Why should I tell anyone whether my mother had an abortion?’ This is rather contradictory in that Sahid put his wife under pressure for months to have an abortion, but is very hush-hush as to whether or not his mother had an abortion.

Michaela found life very lonely and friendless when her husband moved out and went to another part of London. She knew it wasn’t advisable to get involved with anyone else but she became friendly with a man nearby and the relationship became sporadically sexual. ‘But we weren’t together a lot, so I thought that I wouldn’t get pregnant. And each time I was with him, I said that it wouldn’t happen again.’

We met Michaela when she was very set on aborting the child that she had conceived with this "friend". Her appointments for abortions have come and gone, and she has not made any new appointments for an abortion. When I met her she felt very compelled to tell Sahid, who she calls ‘my ex-husband’, about the baby, but has now decided that for the time being, she won’t tell him that she’s pregnant with a fourth child; ‘He would still think it his right to tell me to abort this baby, and there’s no way that I can spend whole months being told to abort. Maybe I will wait till I’m 24 weeks before telling him.’

I’ve known Michaela for nearly three months now, and while she knows very little Christian doctrine, she still sometimes thinks and speaks as someone of Christian heritage. She wasn’t going to dabble in Islam; ‘I can’t just pretend to be a Muslim wife, and have an abortion because his faith might want that of me.’ And lately her conversation has been peppered with Christian symbols, ‘Every newborn is like a piece of heaven. There’s a time when you feel the angels surround you and mind the baby.’

Mary O'Regan

Tuesday 18 January 2011

The Chair of St Peter

Today (in the Traditional calendar) is the feast of The Chair of St Peter. I think this is a good reason to remember and pray for His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI today.

Pope Benedict has recently been in the middle of a media storm where he was being attacked from all sides, although he is probably quite used to being in this position by now. We as Catholics have a duty to stand by him and support him as best we can. If he is strong enough to stand up to secularism and atheism, then we have to be as well. Last Friday he again re-stated very strongly the Church's position against homosexual acts and partnerships, against Abortion, against contraception, against Euthanasia and for putting the protection of families at the forefront of the Catholic Church's teaching. Pope Benedict is teaching true traditional Catholic teaching with strength and vigour and he asks us to do the same in our own lives through our example to others.

Conor Carroll

Sunday 16 January 2011

Good Counsel's Inspiration; Watch the Documentary on the Work of the Chicago Women's Centre On Monday

Learn about the Pro-Life work that inspired Eamonn Murphy to found The Good Counsel Network .good Counsel's work is based on that of the Chicago's Women Centre, surely the most effective pro-life counselling centre in the world. The 30 minute documentary, Women's Centre; Where Miracles Happen, will be shown on EWTN on Monday 17th January at 2am, 10.30am & 7.30pm. You can watch it online at http://ewtn.co.uk/ or on Sky 589.

There are quite a few good Pro-Life programmes on EWTN this month so do check their Schedule.
Stuart McCullough

Thursday 13 January 2011

The Example of the Holy Family Calls Us to Holiness in Our Family Lives

This is a really great sermon about the family, contraception and natural family planning. A very rare thing to hear from the pulpit...

Sermon given by Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP (pictured) on the feast of the Holy Family,
Sunday 9th January 2011

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

INTRODUCTION: Dear Faithful,
As we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we
give thanks to God Who chose to become Man in a family. The first Adam was
created by God without any human intervention. That is, the first Adam was
created by God not in a family, by definition. God could have done for the
New Adam – Our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ – what He had done for the first
Adam – Eve’s unfortunate’s husband. The second Person of the Blessed Trinity
could have become a man like Adam did, that is, without parents. On the
contrary, God chose to be conceived and born and educated as part of a human
family, in which He actually spent 30 years of his life on earth out of 33,
briefly in Bethlehem and in Egypt, and mostly in Nazareth. God could not
have given us a more convincing proof of his esteem for the institution
called ‘a human family’. We will see how spouses are called to share in
God’s creative power, then how parenthood leads through suffering to joy,
and lastly, how spouses can use sexuality saintly.

If God loves families so much, what does He actually expect of them? God
expect families to imitate Him. Now what do we know of God, that our
families may imitate Him? God is a substantial communion of fecund love
between several Persons – God the Father eternally begets God the Son; God
the Son is eternally begotten by God the Father; God the Father and God the
Son eternally spire God the Holy Spirit; God the Holy Spirit eternally
proceeds from God the Father and God the Son.
Furthermore, God is good by essence, and good diffuses itself – ‘bonum
diffusivum sui’. God created, in order to grant other beings the good of
existing in his grace, which is the supreme good. What does this tell us
about families then? In God’s plan and with God’s help, families are
analogically a communion of fecund love, like the Blessed Trinity. Marital
union between husband and wife is designed to diffuse the good of existing,
at the image of God.
This is possible only because it has pleased God to endow human beings with
the incredible privilege of sharing in his own creative power through sexual
fecundity, as we read in the Holy Bible: “And God created man to his own
image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them.
And God blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and
subdue it, and rule over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air,
and all living creatures that move upon the earth” (Genesis 1:28).
“Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his
wife: and they shall be two in one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). “And Adam knew Eve
his wife: who conceived and brought forth Cain, saying: I have gotten a man
through God. And again she brought forth his brother Abel” (Genesis 4:1-2).
Who will tell the incomparable dignity of procreators, a divine prerogative
which God shared with us human beings only, not even with his holy angels?
Is there anything more extraordinary and more worthy of praise and honour as
to allow God’s own creative power to work about new rational creatures
endowed with immortal souls? Our Blessed Lord Himself praised this sublime
mission when he said: “When [a woman] hath brought forth the child, she
remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world”
(John 16:21).

Those among us today who are parents, but also the others, know well that
the original sin has made life very difficult for all men, and in particular
for parents. If the conceiving of a child is easy (for those couples at
least who have been spared the distress of sterility), his bringing up is
difficult and often painful. It requires constant sacrifices on behalf of
the parents and of the family.
By comparison, mere beasts fulfil parenthood when begetting their children
to natural life and raising them according to natural instinct. But human
beings are rational animals. Unlike beasts, human beings have an
intellectual and immortal soul, designed to know God and to unite with Him.
Consequently, begetting children to natural life and natural instinct will
not be enough for human parents to fulfil parenthood. The husband and wife
are father and mother inasmuch as they educate their children as children of
God, as children “of the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom all
paternity in heaven and earth is named” (Eph 3:14-15).

Dear Friends, let us not think for one second that God, Who has made some of
you pro-creators in his image, would ignore or despise your psychological
and moral pangs and your heroic sacrifices as parents. Indeed, for your own
sake, that same God has delivered his own beloved Child, as St Paul
stresses: “[God] that spared not even his own Son, but delivered him up for
us all, how hath he not also, with him, given us all things?” (Rom 8:32). So
God knows very well what it means to suffer as a parent. But He also knows
that parents’ sufferings work about redemption and eternal life, when
accepted in union with his adorable Will, and when trusting in his tender

Let us not however imagine that family life and parenthood in particular are
essentially painful. No, children are a blessing and a source of joy already
in this life, and forever in the next with God’s help. The prophet Isaiah
thus describes fecundity as a cause for exultation: “Give praise, O thou
barren, that bearest not: sing forth praise, and make a joyful noise, thou
that didst not travail with child: for many are the children of the
desolate, more than of her that hath a husband, saith the Lord” (Isaiah
54:1). Parents are called and appointed by God to share in his creative
power on earth so as to populate heaven with numerous saints! God who is
good and holy will make this sublime vocation also a joyful one, if only we
trust in Him; and if with his grace we tackle daily the obstacles of our
selfishness and of our pride – until they melt away.

In the meantime, the Church with all her power supports parents in their
very meritorious battle for life both natural and supernatural. Holy Mother
Church helps her children to welcome their own children and thus to fulfil
their vocation as fathers and mothers. She enlightens them and strengthens
them against the easy temptation of contraception – not to mention abortion

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that if: “For just reasons,
spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to
make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in
conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood”

2370 Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on
self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the
objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the
spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favour the education of an
authentic freedom. In contrast, "every action which, whether in anticipation
of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its
natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render
procreation impossible" is intrinsically evil.”
I should add here that as such, these actions must be accused in confession.
The Catechism reads further: “Thus the innate language that expresses the
total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through
contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not
giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive
refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of
conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality.
2371 “Let all be convinced that human life and the duty of transmitting it
are not limited by the horizons of this life only: their true evaluation and
full significance can be understood only in reference to man's eternal
destiny.” [End of quote].

In good faith, parents who meritoriously refuse contraception may wonder
when periodic continence is licit. The following guidelines [cf Husband and
Wife, TAN Books & Publishers, Inc, by Rev. Paul Wickens] may help:
1. There should be a serious reason for practicing it, for example, grave
physical or mental health problems or some economic catastrophe.
2. Both parties should mutually agree to abstain from the marriage act
during the designated times.
3. There should be no serious danger of incontinence for either partner.
4. There should be no lessening of faith or trust in God’s wisdom in sending
5. The periodic abstinence should be practiced only for the duration of time
that the serious reason exists.
6. To be completely certain, couples should also seek the advice and counsel
of a priest whose doctrine they can trust.

Not quite as a last guideline, but rather as a constant condition for
virtuous behaviour, spouses should also pray God, and his tender Mother the
Blessed Virgin Mary and St Joseph, the Holy Angels and all the saints to
guide them and fortify them daily.

CONCLUSION: Our Lord Jesus Christ has elevated marriage to the dignity of a
sacrament. In the Holy Bible, God even made the sacrament of matrimony an
icon of his own love for every soul and for the Church. God’s love is
fecund, bringing forth countless saints, radiant children of Holy Mother
Church immaculate. Similarly, human marriage calls for a generous openness
to life. This is what we pray for on this feast of the Holy Family. We pray
to that intention during this Mass – if not all of us as parents, then,
fraternally, as baptised children of the Church. Our intercession is made
more confident by the words of Our Lord’s beloved Apostle St John who wrote
in his third letter: “I have no greater joy than this, to hear that my
children walk in truth” (3 John 1:4).

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, amen.

Posted by Conor Carroll

Today is the 14th Anniversary of the founding of the Good Counsel Network

in the UK.

Please keep our work in your prayers.
Our Lady Mother of Good Counsel, and St Jude, Pray for us!

Be a Friend of St Agnes

Join in prayer to St Agnes from January 13th to January 21st this year and become a friend of St. Agnes.

Collect: Almighty, eternal God, you chose what the world considers weak to put the worldly power to shame. May we who celebrate the birth of St. Agnes into eternal joy be loyal to the faith she professed. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

"Christ made my soul beautiful with the jewels of grace and virtue. I belong to Him whom the angels serve. -Saint Agnes

Name Meaning: pure one; chaste; lamb
How she died: beheaded and burned, or tortured and stabbed to death, or stabbed in the throat (sources vary); 21 January 254 or 304 @ Rome (sources vary)
Patronage: affianced couples, betrothed couples, bodily purity, chastity, Children of Mary, Colegio Capranica of Rome, engaged couples, gardeners, Girl Scouts, girls, rape victims, virgins

Monday 10 January 2011

The Fundamental Need for Family

Family is not a thing of the past.
Last Sunday in the traditional Latin Mass' liturgical calendar was Holy Family Sunday, and a couple of weeks ago in the normal church calendar. As a soon to be father I begin to realise more and more the necessity of the family as a unit. This unit and fundamental part of society in general is needed so much in the world of today as the papal encyclical Familiaris Consortio(on the role of the family in the modern world)taught. It is the institution of the family which this world lacks, a child without a strong loving Mother who (as is inevitably the case) sacrifices all for his or her sake; or without a strong Father who leads by example and provides all the necessaries and instills discipline and love for their Mother, is a child missing out. There are of course many more things parents provide, these are just examples. We see today a world full of broken families, often broken because of not following the teaching of Christ's one, true, holy Catholic Church.

With this in mind I think it is time to remember the value of those family members around us, ensure they know the love we feel for them and to show the world the need for families again.

Conor Carroll

Whitfield St Abortuary Vigil Re-starts for 2011

Now that the Christmas break is over, the Whitfield St abortuary vigil resumed today Monday 10th January 2011. I will be counselling outside of marie stopes abortuary, 108 Whitfield Street, London W1T 5EA every week on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday between 9am and 1.30pm. The nearest tubes are Great Portland Street and Warren Street. I need people to come and support me in prayer at these times. If you are able to join me in prayer either email me at info@goodcounselnetwork.freeserve.co.uk or phone the Good Counsel office on 020 7723 1740. Please promote this vigil far and wide, especially to your friends. Without God's grace we cannot succeed and Mothers may not choose life for their babies.

During Advent the vigil took place and I know of at least one Mother who kept her baby. A friend of the Mother in question received a leaflet from one of our counsellors outside of marie stopes abortuary. The friend passed on the leaflet to her, and the Mother consequently came to our centre to receive help. If she hadn't received the leaflet she would have aborted her child.

On another occasion during advent when i was counselling outside of the clinic a man approached me and wanted to talk. He told me that his girlfriend some time ago had an abortion. I asked him whether she had received any post-abortion counselling. He said that he did not know as they were no longer going out. I asked him if he wanted counselling, he said he was ok but he would like a rosary if we had one. One of the prayer supporters at the clinic gave him their rosary and I told him I would pray for him. I also gave him a leaflet and told him if he ever felt he needed counselling to get in touch.

Please come to the vigil, and if you are unable to come due to work commitments then please at least offer the day for the intentions of people standing outside the clinic.

James Coulborn

Thursday 6 January 2011

Epiphany Greetings

A very Blessed Feast of the Epiphany to you.
Happy Little Christmas.
And Merry Old Christmas Day.

God bless you all and don't forget that the crib stays up 'til Candlemas, 2nd February.

Monday 3 January 2011

Is The Sun Setting on Our World? Pope Benedict Speaks on the Decline of Our Civilization.

Despite the secular world thinking that Christmas is over, it's not and so here is a speech given by the Holy Father in which, amongst other things, he talks about his trip to the UK and gives his Christmas Greetings. He also talks about the future of our world. It's not short but it's worth the read.


Sala Regia
Monday, 20 December 2010

Dear Cardinals,
Brother Bishops and Priests,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It gives me great pleasure to be here with you, dear Members of the College of Cardinals and Representatives of the Roman Curia and the Governatorato, for this traditional gathering. I extend a cordial greeting to each one of you, beginning with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, whom I thank for his sentiments of devotion and communion and for the warm good wishes that he expressed to me on behalf of all of you. Prope est jam Dominus, venite, adoremus! As one family let us contemplate the mystery of Emmanuel, God-with-us, as the Cardinal Dean has said. I gladly reciprocate his good wishes and I would like to thank all of you most sincerely, including the Papal Representatives all over the world, for the able and generous contribution that each of you makes to the Vicar of Christ and to the Church.

Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni. Repeatedly during the season of Advent the Church’s liturgy prays in these or similar words. They are invocations that were probably formulated as the Roman Empire was in decline. The disintegration of the key principles of law and of the fundamental moral attitudes underpinning them burst open the dams which until that time had protected peaceful coexistence among peoples. The sun was setting over an entire world. Frequent natural disasters further increased this sense of insecurity. There was no power in sight that could put a stop to this decline. All the more insistent, then, was the invocation of the power of God: the plea that he might come and protect his people from all these threats.

Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni. Today too, we have many reasons to associate ourselves with this Advent prayer of the Church. For all its new hopes and possibilities, our world is at the same time troubled by the sense that moral consensus is collapsing, consensus without which juridical and political structures cannot function. Consequently the forces mobilized for the defence of such structures seem doomed to failure.

Excita – the prayer recalls the cry addressed to the Lord who was sleeping in the disciples’ storm-tossed boat as it was close to sinking. When his powerful word had calmed the storm, he rebuked the disciples for their little faith (cf. Mt 8:26 et par.). He wanted to say: it was your faith that was sleeping. He will say the same thing to us. Our faith too is often asleep. Let us ask him, then, to wake us from the sleep of a faith grown tired, and to restore to that faith the power to move mountains – that is, to order justly the affairs of the world.

Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni: amid the great tribulations to which we have been exposed during the past year, this Advent prayer has frequently been in my mind and on my lips. We had begun the Year for Priests with great joy and, thank God, we were also able to conclude it with great gratitude, despite the fact that it unfolded so differently from the way we had expected. Among us priests and among the lay faithful, especially the young, there was a renewed awareness of what a great gift the Lord has entrusted to us in the priesthood of the Catholic Church. We realized afresh how beautiful it is that human beings are fully authorized to pronounce in God’s name the word of forgiveness, and are thus able to change the world, to change life; we realized how beautiful it is that human beings may utter the words of consecration, through which the Lord draws a part of the world into himself, and so transforms it at one point in its very substance; we realized how beautiful it is to be able, with the Lord’s strength, to be close to people in their joys and sufferings, in the important moments of their lives and in their dark times; how beautiful it is to have as one’s life task not this or that, but simply human life itself – helping people to open themselves to God and to live from God. We were all the more dismayed, then, when in this year of all years and to a degree we could not have imagined, we came to know of abuse of minors committed by priests who twist the sacrament into its antithesis, and under the mantle of the sacred profoundly wound human persons in their childhood, damaging them for a whole lifetime.

In this context, a vision of Saint Hildegard of Bingen came to my mind, a vision which describes in a shocking way what we have lived through this past year. “In the year of our Lord’s incarnation 1170, I had been lying on my sick-bed for a long time when, fully conscious in body and in mind, I had a vision of a woman of such beauty that the human mind is unable to comprehend. She stretched in height from earth to heaven. Her face shone with exceeding brightness and her gaze was fixed on heaven. She was dressed in a dazzling robe of white silk and draped in a cloak, adorned with stones of great price. On her feet she wore shoes of onyx. But her face was stained with dust, her robe was ripped down the right side, her cloak had lost its sheen of beauty and her shoes had been blackened. And she herself, in a voice loud with sorrow, was calling to the heights of heaven, saying, ‘Hear, heaven, how my face is sullied; mourn, earth, that my robe is torn; tremble, abyss, because my shoes are blackened!’

And she continued: ‘I lay hidden in the heart of the Father until the Son of Man, who was conceived and born in virginity, poured out his blood. With that same blood as his dowry, he made me his betrothed.

For my Bridegroom’s wounds remain fresh and open as long as the wounds of men’s sins continue to gape. And Christ’s wounds remain open because of the sins of priests. They tear my robe, since they are violators of the Law, the Gospel and their own priesthood; they darken my cloak by neglecting, in every way, the precepts which they are meant to uphold; my shoes too are blackened, since priests do not keep to the straight paths of justice, which are hard and rugged, or set good examples to those beneath them. Nevertheless, in some of them I find the splendour of truth.’

And I heard a voice from heaven which said: ‘This image represents the Church. For this reason, O you who see all this and who listen to the word of lament, proclaim it to the priests who are destined to offer guidance and instruction to God’s people and to whom, as to the apostles, it was said: go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation’ (Mk 16:15)” (Letter to Werner von Kirchheim and his Priestly Community: PL 197, 269ff.).

In the vision of Saint Hildegard, the face of the Church is stained with dust, and this is how we have seen it. Her garment is torn – by the sins of priests. The way she saw and expressed it is the way we have experienced it this year. We must accept this humiliation as an exhortation to truth and a call to renewal. Only the truth saves. We must ask ourselves what we can do to repair as much as possible the injustice that has occurred. We must ask ourselves what was wrong in our proclamation, in our whole way of living the Christian life, to allow such a thing to happen. We must discover a new resoluteness in faith and in doing good. We must be capable of doing penance. We must be determined to make every possible effort in priestly formation to prevent anything of the kind from happening again. This is also the moment to offer heartfelt thanks to all those who work to help victims and to restore their trust in the Church, their capacity to believe her message. In my meetings with victims of this sin, I have also always found people who, with great dedication, stand alongside those who suffer and have been damaged. This is also the occasion to thank the many good priests who act as channels of the Lord’s goodness in humility and fidelity and, amid the devastations, bear witness to the unforfeited beauty of the priesthood.

We are well aware of the particular gravity of this sin committed by priests and of our corresponding responsibility. But neither can we remain silent regarding the context of these times in which these events have come to light. There is a market in child pornography that seems in some way to be considered more and more normal by society. The psychological destruction of children, in which human persons are reduced to articles of merchandise, is a terrifying sign of the times. From Bishops of developing countries I hear again and again how sexual tourism threatens an entire generation and damages its freedom and its human dignity. The Book of Revelation includes among the great sins of Babylon – the symbol of the world’s great irreligious cities – the fact that it trades with bodies and souls and treats them as commodities (cf. Rev 18:13). In this context, the problem of drugs also rears its head, and with increasing force extends its octopus tentacles around the entire world – an eloquent expression of the tyranny of mammon which perverts mankind. No pleasure is ever enough, and the excess of deceiving intoxication becomes a violence that tears whole regions apart – and all this in the name of a fatal misunderstanding of freedom which actually undermines man’s freedom and ultimately destroys it.

In order to resist these forces, we must turn our attention to their ideological foundations. In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorized as something fully in conformity with man and even with children. This, however, was part of a fundamental perversion of the concept of ethos. It was maintained – even within the realm of Catholic theology – that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself. There is only a “better than” and a “worse than”. Nothing is good or bad in itself. Everything depends on the circumstances and on the end in view. Anything can be good or also bad, depending upon purposes and circumstances. Morality is replaced by a calculus of consequences, and in the process it ceases to exist. The effects of such theories are evident today. Against them, Pope John Paul II, in his 1993 Encyclical Letter Veritatis Splendor, indicated with prophetic force in the great rational tradition of Christian ethos the essential and permanent foundations of moral action. Today, attention must be focussed anew on this text as a path in the formation of conscience. It is our responsibility to make these criteria audible and intelligible once more for people today as paths of true humanity, in the context of our paramount concern for mankind.

As my second point, I should like to say a word about the Synod of the Churches of the Middle East. This began with my journey to Cyprus, where I was able to consign the Instrumentum Laboris of the Synod to the Bishops of those countries who were assembled there. The hospitality of the Orthodox Church was unforgettable, and we experienced it with great gratitude. Even if full communion is not yet granted to us, we have nevertheless established with joy that the basic form of the ancient Church unites us profoundly with one another: the sacramental office of Bishops as the bearer of apostolic tradition, the reading of Scripture according to the hermeneutic of the Regula fidei, the understanding of Scripture in its manifold unity centred on Christ, developed under divine inspiration, and finally, our faith in the central place of the Eucharist in the Church’s life. Thus we experienced a living encounter with the riches of the rites of the ancient Church that are also found within the Catholic Church. We celebrated the liturgy with Maronites and with Melchites, we celebrated in the Latin rite, we experienced moments of ecumenical prayer with the Orthodox, and we witnessed impressive manifestations of the rich Christian culture of the Christian East. But we also saw the problem of the divided country. The wrongs and the deep wounds of the past were all too evident, but so too was the desire for the peace and communion that had existed before. Everyone knows that violence does not bring progress – indeed, it gave rise to the present situation. Only in a spirit of compromise and mutual understanding can unity be re-established. To prepare the people for this attitude of peace is an essential task of pastoral ministry.

During the Synod itself, our gaze was extended over the whole of the Middle East, where the followers of different religions – as well as a variety of traditions and distinct rites – live together. As far as Christians are concerned, there are Pre-Chalcedonian as well as Chalcedonian churches; there are churches in communion with Rome and others that are outside that communion; in both cases, multiple rites exist alongside one another. In the turmoil of recent years, the tradition of peaceful coexistence has been shattered and tensions and divisions have grown, with the result that we witness with increasing alarm acts of violence in which there is no longer any respect for what the other holds sacred, in which on the contrary the most elementary rules of humanity collapse. In the present situation, Christians are the most oppressed and tormented minority. For centuries they lived peacefully together with their Jewish and Muslim neighbours. During the Synod we listened to wise words from the Counsellor of the Mufti of the Republic of Lebanon against acts of violence targeting Christians. He said: when Christians are wounded, we ourselves are wounded. Unfortunately, though, this and similar voices of reason, for which we are profoundly grateful, are too weak. Here too we come up against an unholy alliance between greed for profit and ideological blindness. On the basis of the spirit of faith and its rationality, the Synod developed a grand concept of dialogue, forgiveness and mutual acceptance, a concept that we now want to proclaim to the world. The human being is one, and humanity is one. Whatever damage is done to another in any one place, ends up by damaging everyone. Thus the words and ideas of the Synod must be a clarion call, addressed to all people with political or religious responsibility, to put a stop to Christianophobia; to rise up in defence of refugees and all who are suffering, and to revitalize the spirit of reconciliation. In the final analysis, healing can only come from deep faith in God’s reconciling love. Strengthening this faith, nourishing it and causing it to shine forth is the Church’s principal task at this hour.

I would willingly speak in some detail of my unforgettable journey to the United Kingdom, but I will limit myself to two points that are connected with the theme of the responsibility of Christians at this time and with the Church’s task to proclaim the Gospel. My thoughts go first of all to the encounter with the world of culture in Westminster Hall, an encounter in which awareness of shared responsibility at this moment in history created great attention which, in the final analysis, was directed to the question of truth and faith itself. It was evident to all that the Church has to make her own contribution to this debate. Alexis de Tocqueville, in his day, observed that democracy in America had become possible and had worked because there existed a fundamental moral consensus which, transcending individual denominations, united everyone. Only if there is such a consensus on the essentials can constitutions and law function. This fundamental consensus derived from the Christian heritage is at risk wherever its place, the place of moral reasoning, is taken by the purely instrumental rationality of which I spoke earlier. In reality, this makes reason blind to what is essential. To resist this eclipse of reason and to preserve its capacity for seeing the essential, for seeing God and man, for seeing what is good and what is true, is the common interest that must unite all people of good will. The very future of the world is at stake.

Finally I should like to recall once more the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman. Why was he beatified? What does he have to say to us? Many responses could be given to these questions, which were explored in the context of the beatification. I would like to highlight just two aspects which belong together and which, in the final analysis, express the same thing. The first is that we must learn from Newman’s three conversions, because they were steps along a spiritual path that concerns us all. Here I would like to emphasize just the first conversion: to faith in the living God. Until that moment, Newman thought like the average men of his time and indeed like the average men of today, who do not simply exclude the existence of God, but consider it as something uncertain, something with no essential role to play in their lives. What appeared genuinely real to him, as to the men of his and our day, is the empirical, matter that can be grasped. This is the “reality” according to which one finds one’s bearings. The “real” is what can be grasped, it is the things that can be calculated and taken in one’s hand. In his conversion, Newman recognized that it is exactly the other way round: that God and the soul, man’s spiritual identity, constitute what is genuinely real, what counts. These are much more real than objects that can be grasped. This conversion was a Copernican revolution. What had previously seemed unreal and secondary was now revealed to be the genuinely decisive element. Where such a conversion takes place, it is not just a person’s theory that changes: the fundamental shape of life changes. We are all in constant need of such conversion: then we are on the right path.

The driving force that impelled Newman along the path of conversion was conscience. But what does this mean? In modern thinking, the word “conscience” signifies that for moral and religious questions, it is the subjective dimension, the individual, that constitutes the final authority for decision. The world is divided into the realms of the objective and the subjective. To the objective realm belong things that can be calculated and verified by experiment. Religion and morals fall outside the scope of these methods and are therefore considered to lie within the subjective realm. Here, it is said, there are in the final analysis no objective criteria. The ultimate instance that can decide here is therefore the subject alone, and precisely this is what the word “conscience” expresses: in this realm only the individual, with his intuitions and experiences, can decide. Newman’s understanding of conscience is diametrically opposed to this. For him, “conscience” means man’s capacity for truth: the capacity to recognize precisely in the decision-making areas of his life – religion and morals – a truth, the truth. At the same time, conscience – man’s capacity to recognize truth – thereby imposes on him the obligation to set out along the path towards truth, to seek it and to submit to it wherever he finds it. Conscience is both capacity for truth and obedience to the truth which manifests itself to anyone who seeks it with an open heart. The path of Newman’s conversions is a path of conscience – not a path of self-asserting subjectivity but, on the contrary, a path of obedience to the truth that was gradually opening up to him. His third conversion, to Catholicism, required him to give up almost everything that was dear and precious to him: possessions, profession, academic rank, family ties and many friends. The sacrifice demanded of him by obedience to the truth, by his conscience, went further still. Newman had always been aware of having a mission for England. But in the Catholic theology of his time, his voice could hardly make itself heard. It was too foreign in the context of the prevailing form of theological thought and devotion. In January 1863 he wrote in his diary these distressing words: “As a Protestant, I felt my religion dreary, but not my life - but, as a Catholic, my life dreary, not my religion”. He had not yet arrived at the hour when he would be an influential figure. In the humility and darkness of obedience, he had to wait until his message was taken up and understood. In support of the claim that Newman’s concept of conscience matched the modern subjective understanding, people often quote a letter in which he said – should he have to propose a toast – that he would drink first to conscience and then to the Pope. But in this statement, “conscience” does not signify the ultimately binding quality of subjective intuition. It is an expression of the accessibility and the binding force of truth: on this its primacy is based. The second toast can be dedicated to the Pope because it is his task to demand obedience to the truth.

I must refrain from speaking of my remarkable journeys to Malta, Portugal and Spain. In these it once again became evident that the faith is not a thing of the past, but an encounter with the God who lives and acts now. He challenges us and he opposes our indolence, but precisely in this way he opens the path towards true joy.

Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni. We set out from this plea for the presence of God’s power in our time and from the experience of his apparent absence. If we keep our eyes open as we look back over the year that is coming to an end, we can see clearly that God’s power and goodness are also present today in many different ways. So we all have reason to thank him. Along with thanks to the Lord I renew my thanks to all my co-workers. May God grant to all of us a holy Christmas and may he accompany us with his blessings in the coming year.

I entrust these prayerful sentiments to the intercession of the Holy Virgin, Mother of the Redeemer, and I impart to all of you and to the great family of the Roman Curia a heartfelt Apostolic Blessing. Happy Christmas!

For an interesting analysis of the Holy Father's words, watch The Vortex from Real Catholic TV here
Posted by Clare McCullough

Saturday 1 January 2011

Blessed Are You When They Shall Revile You - Matthew 5:11

Some said the Holy Father had changed the teaching of the Church.
Some said he had allowed the use of condoms.
Others said he had accepted homosexuality.
Still others said he had recognised prostitution.
when it became apparant that he hadn't, others said how imprudent he was to say anything at all - at least in an informal setting, to a journalist, speaking personally - rather than as the Pope.
But we just thank our dear Holy Father for continuing to teach the truth and for trying to reach out to preach the Gospel to the whole world, and trying to use whatever morally acceptable means he can to do so.
May the fruit of his suffering over the misinterpretation of his comments be conversions and reversions to the Catholic faith.
A blessed 2011 to you Holy Father, and thanks for coming.

Clare McCullough

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