A loose-lipped Pope and tight-lippped laypeople: Pope Francis' ironic papacy

"Sorry, Mary. I know I discussed giving you an interview but I'd rather not, I can't air my views on Catholicism. I'd look more conservative than Pope Francis," said a high-profile Catholic who I'd been chasing for an interview.  Worried their views on Catholic teaching would be picked up by news sites and they would be hauled over the coals for being a conservative outlier in the time of Francis, they balked at sitting down with me and my dictaphone. They were forthright with me because we'd become friendly over the months I had tried to charm them into going on the record on the subject of their personal prayer life and how at home they were in the Catholic Church.

Others feared such an interview would be a gateway for further forensic questioning by the media on such things as 'gay rights' and if they agreed with the statement, "who am I to judge" when they may believe such a "lifestyle" to be sinful. They didn…

Catching sight of the child saved from abortion behind the Christmas tree

Some Christmases ago I had been doing a lot of entertaining in my old flat. As a confirmed introvert I was happy to find I had a morning to myself and so I nipped out into the frosty air and skipped in and out of the central London museums which were bedecked in beautifully classic decorations and lights. Much as I'd had a very happy Christmas with friends spoiling me, that day I was a bit down; very hurt by a professional snub I'd received, dissatisfied with my career prospects and feeling I'd worked so hard and yet felt like an irrelevancy. 

I popped into a crowded cafĂ©, decorated in red lights and silver tinsel, a plump Christmas tree in the middle with an antique porcelain fairy on top with a wig of yellow curls. To the left of the tree, I saw a small child with glossy dark-hairedlocks of deepest ebony. Coming around the tree I had a clearer look at his face and saw a familiar face in his face, and familiar eyes in his twinkling eyes. He gave me a big …

What is your Memento Mori? It need not be a skull. Mine is a red bus.

The actof placing a skull on your desk is known as keeping a "Memento Mori" to inspire thoughts of your death. A time-honored practice indeed, some of the big saints such as St Jerome and St Teresa of Avila set a skull before their eyes as a memo of mortality. Perhaps their stainless souls owed a debt to keeping a skull in their sights, shocking their senses into submission to God. 
There is a revival of interest in having a skull as a "Memento Mori." This is quite fascinating considering the absolute flight from the idea of death and aging present in modern culture. There is a poll running to discover how many people know the meaning of "Memento Mori". Sr Theresa Noble was on The Jennifer Fulwiler Show to discuss why she is keeping a skull close at hand.

Day 107 w đź’€ on my desk: 

Die to sin, find life. #mementomori — Sr. Theresa Aletheia (@pursuedbytruth) November 9, 2017

I thought about getting a skull, but my reaction was one of tough indiffe…

Our Lady appeared on the 13th of the month at Fatima so we may avoid the fate of Judas

100 years ago today Our Lady appeared at Fatima and gave the world a sign so as that we may believe. What came to be known as "the miracle of the sun" occurred when the sun burst from behind a curtain of dark clouds, the sun shook and shivered, then became a spinning circle of silver. To quote an eye-witness, the father of Jacinta and Francisco, "then at a certain moment, the sun appeared to stop spinning. It then began to move and to dance in the sky until it seemed to detach itself from its place and fall upon us. It was a terrible moment."

How amazing to think this was happening on this very day - October 13th - 100 years ago. The date begs the question, why the 13th?  The number 13 is so closely associated with Our Lady and yet us Catholics are silent when asked as to its significance. We are confused, too, because the number 13 is roundly regarded as "unlucky". There were 13 people present at The Last Supper including Judas who had already agreed to…

Truly, I have seen all six wives of Henry VIII disappear

This actually happened.  I'm not kidding.  See the video evidence. 
My friend, Kind Sir Bruce of Wisconsin gave me the gift of a vessel which bears the images of Henry VIII and his six wives. When I pour steaming, hot liquid into this fine cup, I see the wives evaporate and blanch into ghostly white shadows. As my tea cools the wives slowly re-appear...

It's been quite a lark, having the mug on my desk, watching the wives vanish and then return, especially as I've drank from it early in the morning in the soft gold of September sunrise, while writing a long-form pro-life work on marriage that draws on my many years of helping women in crisis pregnancy.

(This work on pro-life and marriage is being written in tandem with the long-form work on Padre Pio. I ask your prayers for the good of these projects.)

 For a satirical look at Henry VIII and the story of his six spouses...

Seamus Heaney wasn’t anti-Catholic, but he saw Irish Catholicism as a thing of the past

Introduction to this post
What a wet week it has been here in London. A soggy August gave way to a sodden September 2017. Popping around London and hearing the announcements on loudspeakers in the tube train stations advising customers to be careful because 'inclement weather' makes the floors of the stations slippy - brings my mind back to Septembers in Ireland when it rained all the time and of walking to school in the wind-driven rain that always found a way into your shoes and schoolbag and of having to sit through classes in wet, clammy clothes. 

A more visceral memory still is of one I used to have all through school of preparing to study Seamus Heaney and then as a 20 year-old of preparing to be taught by him. I don't recall it as a merry mindfulness, rather of being mentally muzzled: you had to praise and praise the poetry of Heaney, no criticism of his poems was ever tolerated. Almost like your checklist for school or college was, 'lunch, homework and that menta…

Roses for Princess Diana, or roses for the Queen of Heaven?

Princess Diana was very fond of the sunken garden which runs parallel to Kensington Palace. I pop across to the garden often and I see why Diana often called it 'beautiful': it is situated on top of a high grassy embankment, you get to the garden by winding your way uphill through the thicket of green hedges or climbing the stairs. Once there, you have a feeling of seclusion, of being in your own secret garden as you feast your eyes on the flower displays and catch the glint of golden fish swimming in the ponds and the restful rhythm of the cascading water from the fountains. 

To mark the 20th anniversary since Diana's untimely death the garden was planted with 12,000 white flower bulbs which have burst and bloomed to become the 'Diana White Garden'. Here is a photo from May when the bulbs were still being warmed in the earth. 

A virtual perfumery when the wind sways the roses a milky, maternal scent washes over you. A hive of tourists it may be, but there during my …