A Woman’s Right to Choose

One particular person I admire, who is dear to my heart, and remains on my mind every time I pray, is my great grandmother. Nan Uí Bhriain – everyone called her Nan O’Brien – yet she faithfully wrote the full form of her name.

She gave birth to six children, my grandmother was the second; she struggled to carry many children to full term, and so many passed on within the womb. She was a remarkable woman so I’m told. I never did meet her, yet her legacy lives on like a river that never dries up. She died when my own ‘Nan’ was 15. My great-grandfather was stricken with grief from that day on, unable to cope with her loss. He turned to alcohol often, but more often relied on my grandmother – now the oldest; my uncle (the firstborn) had drowned in a boating accident, which added to their collective grief.

But ‘Nan O’Brien’ was a force from God. While her husband worked, she also worked – along with raising a family, she was the housekeeper for the rectory and its four priests. She met many throughout her life, one whose cause for canonisation is at the diocesan level and remains an unofficial patron of the town she loved and lived in. She taught her children that love was an unconditional thing, and that anyone you met was subject to it. I know this is true because of how my own dear nan responds to the people around her: she brings food to her sick friends, and she admonishes those she knows who have gone wrong or members of our family who have made great mistakes, yet she always tells them she loves them. I think whoever meets her confrontation knows her forgiveness is at the end of the tunnel, because she forgives all of her friends, all of our family.

Is that a perfect family? Of course not! Besides the Holy Family, no family is perfect. My grandmother has told me of many lessons she learned in her life, and one of those was about life and forgiveness. Broad topics, eh?

One night as my grandmother lay in bed, her mother came trotting home from her friend’s house. She burst through the bottom door crying, weeping, screeching for her husband. About ten minutes later, after he asked her what’s wrong, he apparently ran outside and cried on the bank behind the house. Half an hour later, everyone was asleep.

Nine months later, my grandmother had a new younger sister.

My dear readers, I confide in you: the dear public, a lesson. That night when love wept, a woman was taken by another’s husband. By force, not by choice. My great-grandmother was raped, and she conceived of a child.

The night of tears wasn’t an ordeal. It was a moment: reality came to light, human vengeance perished, and love overcame all.

My grandmother told me about this after we watched a programme about abortion. Nan always wore her faith on her sleeve. Someone in my family was conceived in an unorthodox way, yet lives today as a mother and wife, an aunt and friend herself.

Abortion is murder.

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Living and the Dead

Today I travelled a wee bit outside of town, and came across a beautiful little village that contained two churches and a chapel. One, Anglican, the other, Catholic. Both were imbibed with the beautiful of 500 years, another a more Victorian structure (that was the Catholic) with seating in the upper part of the church as well as the lower. It is amazing what a God-fearing priest can do to revive the dusty faith of and ageing population.

Now, in both churches, the altars were facing ad orientem. Central to the Catholic church was the tabernacle placed beyond the altar. On said altar remained three traditional Mass cards, and a statue of Our Lady and St Therese on either side. The priest is a young, recently-ordained fellow and in charge of three other parishes. I had missed daily Mass, but it was evident how used the building was. According to the figures, it has been growing and growing each Sunday do to the attraction of traditionalists and those who seek a proper Mass each Sunday, as both rites are offered at the Church. I knelt at the altar rail for a prayer, and was moved at the tranquility the little building enclosed. There was a quaint little pump-organ placed in the back, and on it by some sort of Divine Providence was placed my favourite hymn. I managed to walk a little further around town, and enjoyed the familiar spray of salt water on my face. The beauty of God’s creating is amazing. And for someone struggling like I am, a five-hour drive from home truly does one a world of good.

The Anglican church was a fully wooden Gothic building, and a very grand one with the full English pipe organ, now in disuse (such a pity for a beautiful thing). Of course, the minister is a liberal who preaches the modernist concept of tolerance.

The building is threatened with closure.

So, it seems as though a dead faith makes a dead church… but a ‘lively’ faith, creates a lively congregation.

Missa Cantata for the Feast of the Transfiguration

If anyone is in St John’s, Newfoundland (Talamh an Éisc)

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Missa Cantata (sung Traditional Latin Mass) will be celebrated on the Feast of the Transfiguration. The congregation is invited to participate in the singing of the Missa de Angelis.

This will be held at St Pius X Church Chapel, 16 Smithville Crescent, a parish of the Society of Jesus. Celebrant will be Fr William Browne, S.J.

The Latin Mass has endured on the very Irish island of Newfoundland due to the efforts of Una Voce – St Oliver Plunkett Chapter, and St John’s – the capital, is the oldest city in North America and sistered with Waterford.

A Latin Mass at a Jesuit parish! Don’t pass this up!