Tuesday, 30 March 2010

"Why humanists shouldn’t join in this Catholic-bashing"

"Whatever you think of the Catholic Church, you should be concerned about today’s abuse-obsession. Events of the (sometimes distant) past which nobody can change are being used to justify dangerous trends in the present. A new kind of society is being solidified on the back of exposing abusive priests, one in which scaremongering supersedes facts, where people redefine themselves as permanently damaged victims, where freedom of thought is problematised, and where parents are considered suspect for not adhering to the superior values of the atheistic elite. Seriously, radical humanists should fight back against this."

This is the closing paragraph to an article by atheist commentator  Brendan O'Neill in Spiked, an online magazine. He offers a thought provoking, and sometimes depressing, perspective on the lurid and sometimes screamingly hysterical headlines. He observes how the current crisis facing the church is being used to feed into a cultural mindset that is suspicious of religious belief and the "power" of hierarchical institutions, even including families where parents may   inculcate their children with suspect values. A culture that is turning away from it's past and is instead becoming passively dependant on the intervention of the State.
He opines that it suits the State very much to lay the social ills of our day at the door of the church. The Commision to Inquire Into Child Abuse actively sought victims to come forward and tell their stories.
In a victimhood, litigious culture such as we find ourselves , it would be surprising if the numbers of claims were all authentic. And yet still the number of claims are not, considering the span of years, as huge as the reportage would have us believe.

"In a grotesquely convenient marriage, the state redefined social problems as consequences of Catholic abuse and the individual redefined himself as a sufferer from low self-esteem who did not bear full responsibility for the course of his adult life. In such a climate, not only are incidents of abuse by priests more likely to surface, but they are also more likely to be heavily politicised, turned from undoubtedly distressing and possibly criminal acts into modern-day examples of evil capable of distorting society itself. Thus did the contemporary cult of victimhood ensure that Catholic abuse was blown out of proportion."
It is worth reading in it's entirety here.

( Belated tip of the hat to Fr Ray Blake)

Sunday, 28 March 2010

"Without God we are nothing"

An interesting debate between Cardinal Pell and a fellow called Dan Barker, who was an evangelical preacher and is now an atheist activist.
I'm putting this up here, partly so that I can find it again myself ( my bookmarks are now so bloated that putting anything away in there is like tucking the needle into the haystack)
Here's the blurb:

"Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, and atheist Dan Barker debated the topic: Without God We Are Nothing, at Macquarie University. A vigorous and lively debate was had, with over 300 people in attendance. The debate was structured so that each speaker received ten minutes to present their case, then had a chance at rebuttal, and finishing off with a few minutes to directly cross examine the other. There was then time for questions from the audience.  Part 1 of this audio presents the main arguments and rebuttal, with part 2 presenting the (very lively) cross examination, and some hard hitting questions from the audience."

I found the opening introductions a little long winded, and  the topic of the debate was somewhat unclear which I think led the two opponents to argue to slightly different themes at times.
Nonetheless it was interesting. I tried really hard to suspend my own bias and give both men a fair hearing, but I came away feeling that Cardinal Pell had presented the stronger case, and presented it more clearly.
If you're interested you can download it here.

Saturday, 27 March 2010


I've just returned from the parents where I decamped with the 3 littles while we were having a new reclaimed oak  floor laid to most of the downstairs.
In order to "encourage" me not to return too hastily,  husband dear sent me these photos taken from his phone:
He knows me so well.
These photos of domestic  flotsam and jetsam, dislocated and uprooted and apparently tossed hither and thither, are the visual equivalent of nails on a blackboard.
Add to that a thick coat of oak dust from the floor sanding and I need to blow into a paper bag.
It was as though the Cat in the Hat had brought Thing 1 and Thing 2 round to play and they'd left without using the tidy up gadget.

Being very butch, the mayhem didn't seem to bother the big boys one bit, and they were quite happy with their diet of cereal and pizza.

Now that I'm back, I'm getting stuck into returning things to their rightful place, and I'm seeing how much stuff we have.  I feel an urge to purge . I'm considering doing something like this "40 trashbag challenge" but I'm not sure I'll have the discipline required to log and blog my efforts.
I think instead I'll keep a bag on each floor of the house and make a conscious effort to notice anything that we no longer need or use and put it in there, daily.
With that decision made, I feel better already. Little steps!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

As Ireland sits in sackcloth and ashes...

The Pope urges her to "remember the rock from which (she) was hewn" .

His pastoral letter to the Catholics of Ireland is here.
It is full of wisdom, humility, gentleness, counsel, instruction,  and HOPE.
No doubt it will be parodied, misquoted and misrepresented, so I hope that it will be disseminated as widely as possible so that everyone can read it for themselves. Let everyone form their own opinion, but let it at least be based upon the words of the Holy father himself and not a paraphrased media rendering of his words.

I very much like Fr Finigans precis of the main points as follows:

Pope Benedict urges:
  • "acknowledge before the Lord and before others the serious sins committed against defenceless children"
  • "concerted effort to ensure the protection of children from similar crimes in the future"
  • "establish the truth of what happened in the past, to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent it from occurring again, to ensure that the principles of justice are fully respected, and above all, to bring healing to the victims and to all those affected by these egregious crimes"
Pope Benedict criticises:
  • "the tendency during this period, also on the part of priests and religious, to adopt ways of thinking and assessing secular realities without sufficient reference to the Gospel"
  • "well-intentioned but misguided tendency to avoid penal approaches to canonically irregular situations"
  • "a misplaced concern for the reputation of the Church and the avoidance of scandal"
  • "failure to apply existing canonical penalties and to safeguard the dignity of every person"
Pope Benedict tells priest abusers:
"You betrayed the trust that was placed in you by innocent young people and their parents, and you must answer for it before Almighty God and before properly constituted tribunals. You have forfeited the esteem of the people of Ireland and brought shame and dishonour upon your confreres. Those of you who are priests violated the sanctity of the sacrament of Holy Orders ..."
Pope Benedict tells Irish Bishops:
"It cannot be denied that some of you and your predecessors failed, at times grievously, to apply the long-established norms of canon law to the crime of child abuse. Serious mistakes were made in responding to allegations. [...] it must be admitted that grave errors of judgement were made and failures of leadership occurred. All this has seriously undermined your credibility and effectiveness [...] continue to cooperate with the civil authorities in their area of competence"
I love this:

As you take up the challenges of this hour, I ask you to remember “the rock from which you were hewn” (Is 51:1). Reflect upon the generous, often heroic, contributions made by past generations of Irish men and women to the Church and to humanity as a whole, and let this provide the impetus for honest self-examination and a committed programme of ecclesial and individual renewal. It is my prayer that, assisted by the intercession of her many saints and purified through penance, the Church in Ireland will overcome the present crisis and become once more a convincing witness to the truth and the goodness of Almighty God, made manifest in his Son Jesus Christ.
3. Historically, the Catholics of Ireland have proved an enormous force for good at home and abroad. Celtic monks like Saint Columbanus spread the Gospel in Western Europe and laid the foundations of medieval monastic culture. The ideals of holiness, charity and transcendent wisdom born of the Christian faith found expression in the building of churches and monasteries and the establishment of schools, libraries and hospitals, all of which helped to consolidate the spiritual identity of Europe. Those Irish missionaries drew their strength and inspiration from the firm faith, strong leadership and upright morals of the Church in their native land.
From the sixteenth century on, Catholics in Ireland endured a long period of persecution, during which they struggled to keep the flame of faith alive in dangerous and difficult circumstances. Saint Oliver Plunkett, the martyred Archbishop of Armagh, is the most famous example of a host of courageous sons and daughters of Ireland who were willing to lay down their lives out of fidelity to the Gospel. After Catholic Emancipation, the Church was free to grow once more. Families and countless individuals who had preserved the faith in times of trial became the catalyst for the great resurgence of Irish Catholicism in the nineteenth century. The Church provided education, especially for the poor, and this was to make a major contribution to Irish society. Among the fruits of the new Catholic schools was a rise in vocations: generations of missionary priests, sisters and brothers left their homeland to serve in every continent, especially in the English-speaking world. They were remarkable not only for their great numbers, but for the strength of their faith and the steadfastness of their pastoral commitment. Many dioceses, especially in Africa, America and Australia, benefited from the presence of Irish clergy and religious who preached the Gospel and established parishes, schools and universities, clinics and hospitals that served both Catholics and the community at large, with particular attention to the needs of the poor.
In almost every family in Ireland, there has been someone – a son or a daughter, an aunt or an uncle – who has given his or her life to the Church. Irish families rightly esteem and cherish their loved ones who have dedicated their lives to Christ, sharing the gift of faith with others, and putting that faith into action in loving service of God and neighbour.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Hail Glorious St Patrick!

Hail, glorious St. Patrick, dear saint of our isle,
On us thy poor children bestow a sweet smile;
And now thou art high in the mansions above,
On Erin’s green valleys look down in thy love.

On Erin’s green valleys, on Erin’s green valleys,
On Erin’s green valleys look down in thy love.

Hail, glorious St. Patrick, thy words were once strong
Against Satan’s wiles and a heretic throng;
Not less is thy might where in Heaven thou art;
Oh, come to our aid, in our battle take part!

In a war against sin, in the fight for the faith,
Dear Saint, may thy children resist to the death;
May their strength be in meekness, in penance, and prayer,
Their banner the Cross, which they glory to bear.

Thy people, now exiles on many a shore,
Shall love and revere thee till time be no more;
And the fire thou hast kindled shall ever burn bright,
Its warmth undiminished, undying its light.

Ever bless and defend the sweet land of our birth,
Where the shamrock still blooms as when thou wert on earth,
And our hearts shall yet burn, wherever we roam,
For God and St. Patrick, and our native home.

And a bonus feast day video, "Give up yer aul sins"  the story of Saint Patrick.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

The fort is betrayed even of them that should have defended it.

The local Catholic primary school that my two older sons attended showed this video to the year five children ( 10 year olds)
If you click on that link you will find that in order to view said video you will have to confirm that you are 18 years or older. But if you are a 10 year old in primary school, then your teachers can make porn part of "SRE" and it's all good.
When I was a child, if an adult showed children material like this it would have been a criminal offence. Where will this end? I fear we are already reaping the whirlwind.

It is abusive to deliberately break down the natural sense of inhibition children have around the body and it's functions by making them view and discuss this sort of material in a classroom setting. The people the child needs to guide him  through all the processes of growing, physical and emotional, are those same people who also changed the childs nappies, potty trained the child, wiped the childs bottom and then helped him to learn to wipe his bottom for himself.

Despite all the mountains of evidence that it's doing a terrible job, the State still wants to insinuate itself  even deeper into any remaining nook and cranny of private life that hasn't already been assessed and found wanting by an expert who has been on a course.
Undaunted by it's miserable failure, the government seeks to usurp the family still  further and, realising that some children are falling through it's dysfunctional net, is now determined to ensure that all schools are made to toe the line and teach children it's own hallowed condom-centric credo.
There's something uniquely scary about idiots with high self esteem.

I don't know whether the silence of the bishops is owing to some behind the scenes, softly softly catchee monkey, or whether no one has any stomach these days for the bloodless martyrdom of the media's rack and rope.

This on line petition to the Bishops of England and Wales imploring them to refuse to accept compulsory sex education in Catholic schools is closing on the Feast of St Joseph, 19th March ( Update! Deadline is now extended until 25th March, owing to an upcoming interview with the originator of the petition, Mrs Amanda Lewin,  in the Catholic Times. This is likely to generate more publicity.) Please go read it and consider signing.

The fort is betrayed even of them that should have defended it. And therefore seeing the matter is thus begun, and so faintly resisted on our parts, I fear that we be not the men that shall see the end of the misery. 
St John Fisher.

*Edited to add. This video is apparently being shown to 7 and 8 year olds currently. 

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Psst...husband dear...pls read this post!

Well it's worth a try.
In fact my husband hardly ever reads my blog. Alas and alack because it could be a pretty useful way of dropping some heavy hints. Like, for example, oh, y'know..maybe, gift ideas? Just a thought. I mean we all need a little inspiration in the 'unique and meaningful gift' department from time to time right?.
And it strikes me that this blog could be a handy vehicle for a little *ahem* helpful "product placement".

Moving on...
A while back, I was looking for some little keepsake for Marie-Aibhlinn.
Her middle name is Teresa Benedicta, for the two Carmelite saints. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, and St Therese of Liseux whose intercession we were seeking during my pregnancy (  and before my pregnancy).
I found this terrific Etsy site which sells the most beautiful creations. Mostly jewellery, but also other knick knacks like fridge magnets. They are truely unique and unusual and if I could I'd buy all her stock.

So when I saw this sweet little ornament I knew it was just right for our little flower.

Through emailing back and forth with Nicole, the lady who makes the ornaments, I got to know her a bit.
She shared a lovely website about St Therese ( which I tucked away in my bookmarks and can't seem to find right now) and I told her a little bit about our family and sent her a link to my blog.
I liked her straight away. I'm a sucker for anyone with an artistic talent. But it was clear that she pours so much of her heart into creating the things that she sells. so I was thrilled that I'd found the perfect little gift for Marie-Aibhlinn. A thing of beauty, made with love.

But I was completely blown away when Nicole sent me an email saying " Look what St Olivia inspired me to make for her mummy" and included these photos:
Isn't it just perfect? I can't imagine a more apt memento for our own little family saint . It brings a lump to my throat thinking about it. It's so precious. Whenever I look at it I'm reminded not only of Olivia but of the kindness of strangers. And I'm reminded to ask Olivia to recommend the needs of Nicole and her family to Our Lord.