Bright hope for tomorrow.

But St. Agnes answered to him in this matter: Go from me thou fardel of sin, nourishing of evils and morsel of death, and depart, and know thou that I am prevented and am loved of another lover, which hath given to me many better jewels, which hath fianced me by his faith, and is much more noble of lineage than thou art, and of estate. He hath clad me with precious stones and with jewels of gold, he hath set in my visage a sign that I receive none other espouse but him, and hath showed me over-great treasures which he must give me if I abide with him. I will have none other spouse but him, I will seek none other, in no manner may I leave him…

Chapter 24 of the Golden Legend by Jacobus Voragine (1275), translated by William Caxton (1483) – Source Here
St Agnes, Ora Pro Nobis!

Today is the feast of St Agnes, the martyr of Rome, who instead of marriage devoted her life to the glory of God alone. Growing up, my grandmother had a devotion to St Agnes and taught me this wee prayer: Dear St Agnes, come to me, and keep me good, as God kept thee. I hope this helps you to keep yourself chaste and vigilant.

In celebration of this great saint, and in the spirit of general sharing the gospel as one ought, I received a small parcel in the post. Within the little box were three bundles of the Gospel of St John that came from the USA. They are published in the New International and New Living translations of the Bible in American English, however, it is good to note that Catholic editions of both translations are published in the whole canon if you with to pay. These little editions came to me for only a small donation of a few pennies (or more) and our parish priest and local TLM society were delighted to have them at the back of the church for the congregation to take home.

I also left a few copies hanging around the University. (Expect a protest in the name of discrimination against whatever happens to be in style in the name of social justice.)

I think the covers are cute, especially the “Bright Hope for Tomorrow.”
Certain phrases and words of Our Lord are emboldened and emphasised with a different font as you can see.

Before you protest, “well this is just for the Evangelicals en masse,” hear me out. If you wish to distribute these copies of the gospel to a secular network, write the name of your local chapter of the Catholic Truth Society, FSSP, or SSPX on the interior to provoke proper interpretation. Speak with whomever you give these to and do it with charity. Click here to order, and please note that in no way am I sponsored by the Pocket Testament League, but grateful for so many wee copies of the Gospel of St John.

Paddling the Tiber

Please read this delightful parcel of news from the Anglicanorum Coetibus blog.

Many of us have enjoyed listening to Gavin Ashenden on Anglican Unscripted on YouTube.  Here in episode  #558 he explains why he left the Church of England to be ordained a Bishop of the Christian Episcopal Church and now why he is now entering the Catholic Church this coming Fourth Sunday of Advent.   A contact in the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham tells me he does not believe Ashenden has contacted the ordinariate.  In the discussion below,  we hear the Roman Catholic Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury reached out and invited him.

Here is the video. As an aside, I have even been a keen viewer of Anglican TV and avid reader of Anglican.ink. Perhaps someday I will extrapolate my interest in Anglicanism as a whole, but alas, here is a great bishop coming home to the true Church of Christ.

The Right Reverend Dr Gavin Ashenden, by the request of the Bishop of Shrewsbury, and through personal prayer and meditation inspired by our patron the dear St John Henry Newman, has decided to return his gifts from God to God through His holy Church.

Because of this brave move, for a man who was consecrated a bishop in the Christian Episcopal church, former chaplain to Her Majesty the Queen, to give up his orders within Anglicanism, let us pray that he will be able to become a priest in God’s holy Church.

Therefore, let’s offer him a spiritual bouquet. Please leave your name and what prayer you’re willing to offer for his spiritual benefit. If you are willing to receive the Blessed Eucharist for his intentions, please also share that. If you do not want to share your real name, by all means use a moniker. God bless you.

All submissions will come directly to my e-mail, and from there, to Ashendon. May God Bless You. To Jesus, through Mary!

The First Temptation of Christ

Many of you, my dear readers, may be aware of the new “Christmas” film premiering on Netflix called “A Primeira Tentação de Cristo.” The description of the film writes, “Jesus, who’s hitting the big 3-0, brings a surprise guest to meet the family.” (IMBD)

You know that I never comment on movies or popular culture, but I think this certain thing needs to be addressed. The premise is that Our Lord is mocked, being portrayed as a homosexual bringing “Orlando,” his new boyfriend, home for his thirtieth birthday party. Not even before the debut, the three magi, Melchior, Balthazar, and Caspar, are shown confused as to which star to follow leading to the birthday “party.”

Our Lady is shown as a closet smoker, having invited “Uncle Vittorio” to the party unbeknownst to St Joseph, who is portrayed as a fool and an incompetent craftsman at odds with Uncle Vittorio which is the portrayal of the first person of the Blessed Trinity, God the Father, whom Jesus is unaware is his own father. Amidst the collection of heresies and blasphemy, the Holy Ghost spared, Jesus is written as a moody youth unaware of his divinity or rather, having ‘assumed’ divinity upon the revelation of his father.

I watched this film on Netflix, thinking it was a proper biblical story (one of my favourite genres) but was sadly disappointed and appalled. Dear readers, Roman and Anglican, Eastern and Oriental, Protestant and even Mormon, stay away from this mockery of our shared faith. Can you imagine if such a production was cast around Mohammed? And this production didn’t spare just us Christians, it didn’t mock only the truth of God – it also mocked other faiths like Hinduism and Buddhism so not only do we deserve to stand in shock. The scene, the meeting of the other “gods,” equates Jesus to just a God amongst many: the ultimate heresy. Our Father is also portrayed as a vindictive and manipulative character of finite power. Jesus’s “lover” in this film turns out to be Lucifer. The forty-day-fast in the desert intends to be Jesus “finding himself.” Our Lord is also shown as a reluctant child, wanting to be a juggler and completely unaware of his destiny.

There is nothing, absolutely nothing more repulsive than a mockery of the Holy Family, the perpetual virginity of Our Lady, and the fatherhood of dear St Joseph, especially the glory and honour of Almighty God: the Blessed and Holy Trinity.

Happily, I have found a petition. Although it is a Brazilian one I doubt they would behove an English name to sign it. It has well over a million signatures and I URGE you to add your own. I have.

Click here to sign. http://chng.it/Z8zPmhwZmD I will provide an English translation of the main site text below.

Pela proibição da veiculação do filme de Natal do “Porta dos fundos”, que tem como título “A primeira tentação de Cristo”. Pela remoção do filme do catálogo da Netflix e para que o Porta dos fundos seja responsabilizado pelo crime de vilipêndio à fé. Também desejamos uma retratação pública, pois ofenderam gravemente os cristãos. 

-from the main page of the petition.

To ban the Christmas movie from the “Back Door,” (the production company) which is titled “The First Temptation of Christ.” For removing the film from the Netflix catalogue and for the Backdoor to be held responsible for this villainous crime of faith. We also want public retraction, as they have seriously offended Christians.

an English translation.

In Akita, Japan, Our Lady revealed that “Many men in this world afflict the Lord. I desire souls to console Him to soften the anger of the Heavenly Father.” Let us pray. Oremus.

O Jesus, my Saviour and Redeemer, Son of the living God, behold, we kneel before Thee and offer Thee our reparation; we would make amends for all the blasphemies uttered against Thy holy name, for all the injuries done to Thee in the Blessed Sacrament, for all the irreverence shown toward Thine Immaculate Virgin Mother, for all the calumnies and slanders spoken against Thy spouse, the holy Catholic and Roman Church. O Jesus, who hast said: “If you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it to you”, we pray and beseech Thee for all our brethren who are in danger of sin; shield them from every temptation to fall away from the true faith; save those who are even now standing on the brink of the abyss; to all of them give light and knowledge of the truth, courage and strength for the conflict with evil, perseverance in faith and active charity! For this do we pray, most merciful Jesus, in Thy name, unto God the Father, with whom Thou livest and reignest in the unity of the Holy Spirit world without end. Amen. (Act of Reparation for Blasphemy)

O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, who at this evening hour didst rest in the sepulchre, and didst thereby sanctify the grave to be a bed of hope to thy people: make us so to abound in sorrow for our sins, which were the cause of thy passion, that when our bodies lie in the dust, our souls may live with thee: who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God world without end. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, Order for Compline)

No one, however weak, is denied a share in the victory of the cross. No one is beyond the help of the prayer of Christ. His prayer brought benefit to the multitude that raged against him. How much more does it bring to those who turn to him in repentance. – Pope St Leo the Great

Nature of Love

Love. Do you love your husband, husband, do you love your wife? Have you ever loved someone to the capacity that you would do something stupid for them? Have you ever loved to the point where your heart will ache? Or been the subject of love to the point that you repress your feelings by drinking and become an absolute devotee to the image of a man? If you have, then you’re my friend, and you’re also God’s. To be enchanted in a cave, underground, with many a circumstance. That would be normal liberality as the sexual programme prescribes.

They are wrong. True love has been abandoned. Any love between men is deemed “gay.” You, my dear friends, might know of my previous encounter with people who have committed suicide, well last week I received a bad account about my first cousin who tried it. Twice in a row. Firstly, he tied himself to a tree by way of a noose and he jumped. The branch broke. The second time, he climbed higher and tied himself to another, otherwise looking strong, branch. He jumped, the branch broke, and he knocked himself out on his way down. Police were called and the dogs found him, gently gnawing on his leg and letting the police know by barking. He believed in God until he woke up.

Upon waking up, he renounced God and renounced life and is mad at all of us for letting him live. He admitted to me that since the age of seven he has wanted to do away with himself. I have been crying ever since. I thought my troubles were great. No, his are worse.

He is now in the children’s hospital ward as he is only seventeen. I have been visiting him daily and for great hours. I spent the night last Thursday. He has no sense of life or of vitality, of happiness or suffering. He just wants to be dead. Now. He refuses the nurse’s advice, the psychiatrist’s advice, and the love of his family. I am his only allowed visiter because we have always been on the same level and I know how to talk to him, and he’s helped me out of a few situations regarding my own mental health. He knew how I thought, but he held back on revealing to me how he though. Now we are honest with each other but he’s still nihilistic. After a six-page letter, he decided to travel two kilometres from his house and do the deed.

My buddy, my brother from another mother as they say, tried to end his life. Please pray for him to great accord, and pray for me as well. I am doing my best to love him as much as I can, so he knows God’s love as well. He is in care, and they’re doing their best to make him know the same. He will not comply. Pray for him. Pray that he comes along. Pray that people who have these feelings and thoughts can find the strength to think differently and feel the love of their families.

God Himself loved us so much as to allow His own Son to die, the second person of the Trinity of the one God. To become human and to be sacrificed. At that crucifixion Jesus bore the sins of all of us, including my cousin. He bore the suffering he is now experiencing. Pray.

Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

Our Lady of Grace, take care of my cousin and grant him peace of mind.

 

Many of us wander, blah blah

And when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, I said to her, ‘This is the kindness you must do me: at every place to which we come, say of me, He is my brother.'” Genesis 20:13, English Standard Version – Anglicised

It would be a benign thing to say ‘many of us wander,’ but who are we trying to kid? We all wander. None of us are the Blessed Mother, without sin nor stain. Believers, as are we, are wont to climb the ladder to salvation and make use of the sacraments the God has so graciously provided us with. God is our comfort, and in His love we find the consolation of our fears and sins. In confession we receive the absolution of the same and begin again, knowing our obedience to Christ has been less than wanting. As I begin, I ask you all to turn to Our Lord and commit an act of love towards him: our sustainer, our strength, our provider, whose provision is something that will last our life long so long as we adore and glorify Him, the God our our redemption. Father, Son, Holy Ghost.

Many of you know that the question of suicide has been on my mind for quite a long time. Why do it, why be driven to the point of having to do it, the immorality or morality of it, the consequences of the human family, the consequences, most importantly, of the immortal human soul.

Dear readers, whom I pray for and hope pray for me, suicide is never, ever, a solution. Consider those around you. Consider the people that you love, those people who before maybe even meeting them, you required in your life. To me, love is like this: upon meeting someone, getting to know them, you realize that they start to fill up an empty space in your heart. This place in your heart is a home. They respond by confiding in you, by seeking your advice, and you do likewise: seek their counsel and being thankful forever for their help. This is our human nature, but it all stems from God and His provision. He would not create us to be alone, that is why He created many of us.

When we lose love, it hurts. That is because a piece of our heart is also shattered and buried with the loss, whether alive or dead. We must look at each other with this attitude, something I am learning to do and am absolutely not good at. I am judgemental, sarcastic, spiteful. Learning these things are the path to sanctity, but admitting my struggle with you, dear readers, is one thing I hope to help all of us including myself.

When you see your friends becoming something you previously had not known them to be, consider their life’s situation and never ever falter in love. Let them wander, like the prodigal son, if they must. Yet always be there and love them and tell them the right from wrong. Admonishment is love, and a hug is love. Forgiveness is a balm to the repentant soul.

My friends, many people, anyone you might come across, is alive. They are the creation of our God. Yet, their life experience is different to ours, and seldom ever will it be the same. Even twins differ. Let us pray to the Blessed Virgin, the Mother of God, and Mother of the Church to yield these souls into her bosom. Then, directly, they will be before the throne of God. Suicide is not an automatic damnation. St John Marie Vianney said to a grieving wife, who in sorrow left a long lineup to see the same, “between the parapet of the bridge and the water he had time to make an act of contrition.” He was in purgatory. The instances of suicide, however, which leave us in awe, are those people who reject the love of the people around them, the love of the parents whose love caused their own growth, and their own rejection of the love they gave their own loves. This is rare, especially in this age, when mental illness is like a plague amongst men.

Treat each person as your brother. As your sister. Shine forth the love of God from your own eyes, so that when met, their eyes realize that you are a kind and gentle person, totally oriented towards what is right. It might not resonate in their mind, but it definitely will in their soul.

Now, dear readers, I ask you all if you will be in Nashville any time in September. I will be heading down with the vicar of our parish to participate in a conference headed by the Getty’s for rectors and worship leaders (being me) who work in the Anglican tradition (as I do). We will be there in September. Come for a meet and greet, or otherwise, pray for me and for our church, and for the one, true, holy, and apostolic Church.

As a Roman Catholic who works for the Anglican Catholics, I could not be more honoured. Please pray for them and for the many saints who are headed their way.

 

The Comfortable Words

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. St Matthew 11:28

These are comfortable words, whom anyone leading a life full of strife or difficulty can take particular enjoyment in. They are the opening words to the funeral liturgy of the Ordinariate, of many Anglican traditions, and are included in common Gospel readings at Requiem Masses throughout the English-speaking world.

Perhaps I am going out on a limb to say that we live in a world disenchanted with its past. A world, a society of people, collectively less aware of God although He makes Himself known. However, anyone with an open mind, if it is truly a mind receptive to establishing the truth of existence, ought to give these words some credence. We never truly grow old. We are always little children, gasping for air and for stability. We can fall on any bridge we wish, and quite often those bridges are made of wood near splintering into a thousand pieces; not close enough to open a gap quite yet, but near the point. We get up on the bridge and cross it many times, going one place at a time yet dependent on where we have fallen. We claim it as ‘life’s lot’, and accept it as our life’s purpose.

But then the bridge opens wide. We fall through. We hit the icy water below. We cannot breathe. We cannot swim. Our feeble hands claw and scrape at that river, yet we cannot find a ledge or a rock to cling to that could keep us steady or grant us a gasp of fresh air. Seldom do we find it. Thus, we hit a crisis. What was wrong? I thought I was on my feet. I thought the bridge that allowed me to travel to all corners of life was steady; a few cracks are normal. We aren’t perfect.

The bridge was a human construction, with human imperfections, made for the world’s use and was therefore unstable. Some of us, when we cooperate with the Grace we are given, fall upon a bridge that has weathered many a storm. It has been beaten and pelted with salty ocean waves, but it has dried and the wood was restored again and again. In fact, this particular structure was so susceptible to the acts of nature that sometimes we didn’t cross it for fear of the life we saw growing upon it. Moss, fungi, other green and brown things we cannot know of. However, when we really needed to come safely home, we could only cross this bridge. Eventually, after the length of time the wood stood, interrupted only time and time again by footstep, it petrified. The whole bridge became a solid rock.

Often our faith is like this isn’t it? Trust and obedience, dependence and doubt. We experience these in fluttering diversions, sometimes hitting us like arrows, mostly the safety net that ought to catch us should we ever fall through. To the non-believer, coming to belief can often be like this. Like walking a new bridge over a deep crevasse. Do you understand the imagery?

We know God would never ever build us an unsafe bridge. In fact, His bridges are perfect – the bridge saints trod. Yet they are filled with obstacles, many our own, many to test us, many to strengthen us. Today’s trials are the cause of tomorrow’s triumph.

The Psalmist St David, in Psalm 139: 6-9 has this to say:

Whither shall I go then from thy Spirit: or whither shall I go then from thy presence?
If I climb up into heaven, thou art there: if I go down to hell, thou art there also.
If I take the wings of the morning: and remain in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Even there also shall thy hand lead me: and thy right hand shall hold me.

The Lord Jesus Christ never departs from our presence. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday (or perhaps today is, depending which part of the globe you live in). You are going to be reminded, with the placing of a cross upon your forehead, that ‘thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return’, Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.

Remember, O Man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return.

Meditate on these words. A cigarette only lasts you a couple minutes, and palm leaves burn in less time than that. Our life, because we alone experience it as we can, is but a burning star in the glimpse of time God allows. On the last day, our Lord will announce the faithful of the elect. The Roman Canon asks God to “Be mindful, also, O Lord, of Thy servants and handmaids…who are gone before us with the sign of faith and who sleep the sleep of peace. To these, O Lord, and to all who rest in Christ, grant, we beseech Thee, a place of refreshment, light and peace. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.” Therefore, God wills that we all be saved through Him, through the prayers of the Blessed Mother, and of the saints: yet only we can decide whether to cooperate with that grace He alone gives us, through the various ways He does. We can receive His very body, blood, soul and divinity. He give us Himself. His arms are open to the heavily laboured, the afflicted, the poor, the sinner.

Our abandonment of our pride, our excess, to His will; to let go of our hubris, to ask God where we belong.

It is difficult to lower ourselves, yet we have every means to do it. What can you lose? Death. What can you gain? Life. Be mindful of your sins, and use the sacraments to assist you on your life’s journey. For it is so very short, and eternity is…forever. Hell is real. Heaven is your home.

Throughout this Lenten season, my dear readers, we all must do penance and seek contrition for our downfalls. It is the time. You’re given no other day than the present, for the past is gone and the future doesn’t exist yet. Remember the words of the psalmist when you become weary, and the gospels when you despair. Remember the constant presence of God, who has given us everything, including His Own Son. His Own Mother. His Own Body. His Own Church. We need not fear Clothos, we need not fear the slowing draw of the thread of life. We need only to hope, to fear, to adore, to glorify, to adore the passion of Our Lord. Go to confession.

Go to Him, all of you that labour and weep, all who face darkness, and ask Him to be your eyes: go to Him, let Him embrace you. For you are His. He will give you rest.

 

Seventy Times Seven

Compassion is a talent, a virtue: honed and practised, one we ought to teach to our children from a very young age. When we know compassion, we know also the basic tenet of forgiveness – that big word, the ‘f’ word we dread and use rarely. I hope the word burns within you: forgiveness is humbling, and to be forgiven is even more so…we ought to forgive because we all can recall a time when we have done wrong to someone else, whether it be to someone we love, a community we once belonged to, a mistake against our future. Notice how I write “we” instead of anything more singular? It is because none of us are exempt.

I’ve done wrong to others, and you have. Perhaps I’ve caused you to remember all those people in your life who have caused you harm, betrayal, or turmoil. Perhaps you do not feel vindicated enough for being the ‘offended’ party. Perhaps, you remember with sorrow, the greatest regret of your life – the greatest mistake, the most painful recollection of selfishness. I know I do. ‘We’ are guilty.

It is of great virtue to recall that all of us are of flesh and soul, of mind and body, spirit and blood. That each of us are created by one Father, crafted in His image, and it is literally the sin of the world that Christ bore on the cross for all of our redemption. Therefore, we ought to pray for the grace to be able to forgive, and forgive radically.

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.

“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. and since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’  So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt.  So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” St Matthew 18:21-35 (ESVA)

You see here that Our Lord commands not just forgiveness, but forgiveness without limit. The Jews of the time placed a special significance on the number “7,” for it meant a certain height of infinity – and today we know, it remains just as special (the seven sorrows, joys, days of creation). Our Lord doesn’t mean just seventy-times-seven, no, He means again, again, again, and again: today, tomorrow, always. He commands us always to forgive. My friends, it is very important that we read this gospel as often as we can. Weekly, monthly – however, as long as it becomes a habit. Our Saviour continues to teach the apostles that those who sow mercy will also receive it, and forgiveness is contained in every drop of Christ’s Precious Blood.

Oh, but how difficult that is!

If anyone has ever read The Brothers Karamazov, you may recall how Fyodor, the father of Ivan and Alexei (amongst others), reacts towards his own embarrassments, mistakes, and maniacal behaviour – he begins the blame the victim, and even, hate him. This is because he couldn’t bring himself to forgive himself for his wrongdoings, and rather than straighten up and carry on, Dostoevsky, in his psychological way, creates a narrative around hard-headedness.

We as Christians ought not to have hard hearts, and I am as guilty as the next. We have to forgive: radically. Ourselves, others; we do this because God forgives us.

This is why He left us a Church.

This is why He left us the sacraments.

This is why He left us the confessional.

Because He loves us. He forgives us.

Confession is mandatory. Let us pray for the grace of a good and holy confession, for graces that come from forgiveness, and from being forgiven.