Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Abortion ads: the kibosh put on them?

Some time ago I signed a petition asking the Prime Minister to "Stop abortion advertising on the television."
The Prime Minister's Office has sent me an e-mail outlining the situation vis a vis abortion ads.

Intersperced are my comments, in red.

'Advertising in the UK is regulated through a system of self and co-regulation.  The Advertising Standards Authority is the independent watchdog responsible for administering the strict Advertising Codes to ensure advertisements are legal, decent, honest and truthful.'
‘Decent’? That word sounds very old school, but it’s in an government ‘response’.  
'The Codes are written and maintained by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP).  As independent bodies, advertising regulation is entirely a matter for these organisations.'
This is why it’s a good idea to hold vigils outside the buildings of these committees.
'CAP and BCAP recently held a public consultation on proposed changes to the Advertising Codes. Following the consultation, the regulatory position for advertisements for post-conception advice services remains unchanged.'
Here is the gold nugget! The word ‘unchanged’ – ultimately unsuspecting individuals will not turn on the TV tonight to have smarmy abortion ads pop up in between ads for land rovers and baked beans.
‘Post conception’? Betcha we’ll be hearing a lot more of this exact term – the word pregnancy became distasteful long ago. But note – ‘conception’ can mean many different things from a thought developing in a brain, to a project being realised, to an actual person being formed in the womb. ‘Pregnancy’ has one key meaning – life in the womb.
'This means that advertisements for commercial post-conception advice services offering individual advice on personal problems are not allowed.'
Ah – but if ‘commercial’ is not allowed – is ‘non-commercial’ acceptable? Could this be exploited by ‘charity’ abortuaries? Hmmmm.
'With regards to the points you raise on sex and relationship education, earlier this year the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families announced updated guidance on sex and relationship education (SRE) for schools.'
 Right well, if the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP)have condemned proposed abortion ads,  Why Is It Acceptable to Advertise Abortion 'Services' in the Classrooms of Minors? It seems to me that what's not good enough for the independent advertising bodies, is clearly considered good enough 'education'.'This guidance will help schools teach young people how to cope with the pressure they often face from peers and the media, as well as the importance of stable relationships to family life and the value of delaying sexual experiences.'
An effort to teach chastity? Alongside all the usual contraception ‘education’ – of course! Couching education-for-sex with ‘delaying sex’ education, may give a very confused message; the kids may well ask ‘if you suggest that I wait, why give me all that I need to have casual sex today?’ Relegating chastity as lesser lived life, that happens in never-never land.
'This new guidance was drafted by an expert group representing teachers, health charities, faith groups and young people.  It will be taught within lessons on personal, social and health education (PSHE).  The content of PSHE will be consulted on again prior to it becoming statutory.'
Young people? It doesn’t represent me or my friends.

An unblemished-with-my-comments response may be found at;


We must give thanks and support to SPUC who organised a vigil outside the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in London, during June 2009.This same 'Advertising Standards Authority' is the one mentioned above in the government's report.

Communion on the tongue is the ‘norm’? ‘No!’

                          Pope Benedict gives First Holy Communion 
But away from Rome and during this year 2010...
She was standing with one hand outstretched as though she were catching a ball. The priest beckoned to her to come closer, and she moved closer with one hand still extended.
I had to pity the priest, as he stood with the precious gold chalice, and bid the girl to kneel and take Communion on the tongue. She shook her head, and murmured ‘no.’ This was a private Tridentine Mass in a London church, and the time of this Mass is not published, so when the girl (she looked like a teenager) wandered in at the time of the Our Father, I’m pretty  sure she did not configure that it was Tridentine.
The priest, a little tired, whispered softly, ‘in the Tridentine Mass, the way to receive is on the tongue’. From my position I could see the girl frown and kneel. I was impressed that the priest had affirmed that this was a Tridentine Mass, and had given gentle instruction on how to receive the Host. 
In another private Mass, a much older lady who would have been catechised for Holy Communion, pre-1969 I’m sure, knelt devoutly, but still held her hands from from her like she was cupping water.
The priest attempted to give her Communion on the tongue, to which she replied in a slightly discourteous quip, ‘No!’ The priest did not say anything, but for a split second held the Communion in front of her mouth. Conscious of the watchful eye of those of us around her, and that some were staring at her with outraged eyes, she took Communion on the tongue.
Perhaps the old proverb of ‘patience is a virtue, rare in a woman, never in a man’ should be amended to include ‘essential for the priesthood’. 

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Did the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger prevent a priest, Fr. Lawrence Murphy, from facing the law for crimes of sexual abuse?

Well, The New York Slime argue a mendacious case that yes, Cardinal Ratzinger did prevent Fr. Lawrence Murphy from being penalised. How does the evidence on The NY Times own website contradicts itself, and make their case based on these sources null and void? And how was The NY Times prioritising individuals with a vested financial interest? The link below answers these questions and more, as well as being an impeccable defence of Pope Benedict. This article by Fr. Raymond J. de Souza explains ‘The [NY Times] story is not true, according to its own documentation.’

Fr. de Souza’s article is first and foremost a portrayal of the now Pope Benedict's blamelessness, but it does not shirk from pointing to the culpability of some ordained Catholic priests who were guilty. Namely Fr. Murphy and his bishop, the infamous Archbishop Weakland. 
Is it just Fr. de Souza who is pointing to Archbishop Weakland’s guiltiness in all this? No. Bishop Fred Henry’s pastoral letter is not kind to Archbishop Weakland, but it’s the reality. See here:

What does the judge for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee have to say about Fr. Murphy, the trial and now The NY Times? And why does this judge assert that ‘Pope Benedict XVI has done more than any other pope or bishop in history to rid the Catholic Church of the scourge of child sexual abuse’? See here:

Sometimes real life reads too much like a bad novel – Archbishop Weakland’s name, including the adjective ‘weak’, has a glaring relevance to the life of a bishop who didn’t take the appropriate actions against Fr. Murphy, and who withheld key details of Fr. Murphy’s furtive abuse for twenty years. Bishop Weakland incriminates himself; he lied, in writing, about the extent of his knowledge to the Vatican. But then, what respect did Bishop Weakland show for his own superiors and for Rome? Bishop Weakland on one occasion wrote to his own priests; "We are not a corporation with head offices in Rome ... it is my obligation to insist on the rights and duties of the local bishop in the Catholic Church"

For more on Bishop Weakland’s regrettable Curriculum Vitae see here;
PS - There is ONE benefit to getting The New York Times in my inbox every day. Let me explain. The majority of their stories about Catholicism are ragged fabrications of unreality, designed to make the Body of Christ look like a shabby tramp, but this manufactured nastiness is read by an online audience of millions globally. And what begins as a story there becomes the accepted ‘gospel’ for the next year. And so many use The New York Times as a reference in post-graduate studies, scholarly books and in their conversations, ‘but The New York Times reported it that way!’ But you need to read it to know what you’re up against. Having read The New York Times, I then look for the Catholic apologetics and the actual truth of the matter, so that I am prepared for the debates to come.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The deformed crucifix is the result of one person’s sin, the actual crucifixion was for the sins of all those who have ever lived, and all those yet to live.

It was a blessing that I didn’t notice it before Mass. I walked past the ravaged crucifix without noticing a thing. Had I seen the battered crucifix before Mass, thoughts of how ‘they’ had done such wreck to the figure of Christ would have loomed about my brain during Mass, I would have imagined what implement ‘they’ used, a hammer? A mallet? Ordinary tools that were put to such violent uses when ‘they’ went into Corpus Christi Maiden Lane, and strategically did this.

People who pray in the church may no doubt feel that bit threatened. When ‘they’ did this, it was a direct work of hatred for Christ, but also an indirect attack against all those in their father’s house. I may comment that there is something characteristically satanic about the way the crucifix was vandalised. ‘This is what we think of your saviour!’ Smash! ‘We are not content to let you worship in serenity. We will publically dishonour a crucifix.’  Shatter! ‘Oh, but you’re wasting your time, honouring this dying first century Jew, we’ll show you what’s best for this ornament of suffering!’ Crash as Our Lord’s legs fall to the ground. This is not just a random act of cruelty; if ‘they’ were indifferent, like the majority of the population, they would not spend their time in such a depraved exertion of spite.
‘They’ may not be entirely cognisant that it is the devil that they serve, nonetheless, they do his work. Our Lord was clear; either you are for me or against me.
I am certain, however, that good may come from this. No Catholic, lapsed or practising who sees this destruction can be complacent about how much ‘some’ hate the Catholic Church, and how much ‘some’ want to cheat us of a crucifix. The fragments of the crucifix, the broken ceramic body parts bring home to us the reality of malevolence, so too does it remind us that Our Lord paid the price of our iniquity.  
After the 6.30PM Tridentine Latin Mass, members of the congregation gathered around the battered Christ, and some silently sobbed. One person was particularly touched, and questioned, ‘why did they do this to Our Lord?’ Conversely, and perhaps this reaction is the antithesis of what ‘they’ who attacked the crucifix wanted, but the sight of Our Lord torn, brought out a collective outpouring of grief, that informed each heart of the horror of Our Lord’s actual death on the cross. The deformed crucifix is the result of one person’s sin, the actual crucifixion was for the sins of all those who have ever lived, and all those yet to live.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

‘The fruits of Trent’

For St Patrick’s Day, I received a letter from a friend of mine, Dr. Thomas Conlon, who is one of the most erudite Catholics that I knew. In the letter, ‘Dr. C’ (as he is known) explained his current work of scholarship; ‘a translation from Latin to English of a 17th century German scientist called Otto von Guericke, who was the first investigator of the vacuum...Google books have put a lot of facsimiles of old books on here, which has made a certain sort of scholarship much easier than it used to be. In following up references and allusions a think that has become clear to me is the dynamism and energy of the 17th century Jesuits. When people talk of the ‘fruits of Vatican II’, their standard of comparison ought to be ‘the fruits of Trent’.'

Saturday, 20 March 2010

‘IVF Companies’ Vs. ‘Ethical Methods’

Some controversy has been generated by my post ‘Lottery: the prize, a human egg’. There are those who feel that I am not sympathetic enough with childless couples. My response; I remain opposed to IVF, simultaneously believing that couples deserve better, and may conceive more easily by virtue of ‘ethical methods’.
 ‘IVF Companies’ Vs. ‘Ethical Methods’
Gravity Gardener left a comment on my post ‘Lottery: the prize, a human egg’. The comment invites us to look at the good works done by ‘IVF Companies’ on behalf of childless couples. Yes, I would agree with Gravity Gardener in the sense that there are ‘IVF Companies’ (‘companies’? doesn’t it make conception sound so corporate?) that act generously, and give couples a ‘freebie’ IVF service.
Hmmm, ‘companies’; is their business manufacturing babies, and unfortunately discarding some ‘products of conception’ that don’t measure up, embryo dumping, and making babies according to ‘profile’ specifics?
What’s the alternative? And do these ‘ethical’ fertility systems work? Perhaps my presence, my identity as a girl conceived in the mid 80s is one small proof.
I have been in the habit of saying (often in public debates) that I was 'a Billings baby', I have modified this comment in accordance with my mother’s wishes and now say ‘Billings guided my conception’. There is this important distinction. While couples who use ‘ethical methods’ feel that the method helps channel their fertility, the method itself is not the raison d’etre for the child, the couples feel they are pregnant with the ‘help’ of the method; the method is not the cause of the pregnancy per se. Conversely, with IVF, most couples think that they have given their bodies to the process, and get an ‘IVF baby’: IVF was responsible for the child’s existence, not the parents really.
The Times (secula’ of secula’ papers) did a holistic report on the success of the most important ‘ethical method’ (NaPro) of our times; ‘the biggest study of NPT effectiveness has come from an Irish trial that monitored more than 1,200 patients. The results, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, were of a live birth rate of 25.5 per cent, a figure that seems impressive given that in the UK the IVF success rate is about 23 per cent.’ For the full story see;
For a very impassioned and Catholic perspective on ‘Ethical methods’ Vs. IVF, see Robert Colquhoun’s blog post;

Thursday, 18 March 2010

'You save money - We save lives'

This is how 'Catholic Values' (‘a brand new price comparison website with a difference’) describe their work.
I was delighted today to receive an e-mail from Agostino DiFalco, enlightening me as to the work of Catholic Values.

Agostino DiFalco detailed the organisation as, 'a new non-profit making price comparison website. All the revenue we make (less minimal admin costs) go to pro-life charities. So next time you're renewing your car insurance or any financial service for that matter, if you come to our website and choose your supplier there, you'll save money and know that your transaction has triggered a commission which will go to pro-life causes. Simple. Please spread the word!’
The website also states; ‘Come to us for car, home, health and life insurance, mortgages, credit cards, loans, gas and electricity supply and more...'

What I really like about Catholic Values is that I feel I can trust their financial guidance, and there’s the huge plus that money will go to pro-life charities. In a time of financial hardship when a lot of Catholics cannot give as much to pro-life charities as we would like, it’s good to know that through using Catholic Values, we may also give money to the most deserving of charities.

Want to increase research on the Rosary? Take part.

May I draw your attention to an online survey? 
Not all online surveys are of equal merit, but I believe that this online survey may hold potential.  I have just completed it, and hope that if enough responses are compiled from Rosary-reciting-Catholics, then actual psychological research into the Rosary will be possible. Not that this research in itself should be cause for reciting of the Rosary. But it will, nonetheless, be publicity for the Rosary. 
A comment left by ‘Annonymous’ (on my ‘Scuppered by Scrupolosity’ post) outlines the conditions for who may complete the survey:
‘Are you Catholic and over the age of 18? Have you said the Rosary Prayer at least once in the past year? If so, please take part in an anonymous research study online that examines the place of the Rosary Prayer in Catholic individuals’ lives. To participate in this doctoral research study, click the following link: Participation is anonymous and free of charge.’
The survey was created by Todd Seech, who has stated his reasons for this research as being; ‘to advance the understanding of the place of the rosary prayer in Catholic individuals’ lives. Information from participants’ responses will help us to understand the relationship between prayer habits, thinking styles, anxiety, and other issues. Results may help mental health providers to improve the services they provide to their Catholic clients.’
Todd is available on the following e-mail:
The questions in the Rosary Practices section are thorough. For circumstances that lead me to saying the Rosary, I made clear that it’s a daily practice for me. I referred to Our Lady of Fatima asking that we say the Rosary every day, and that this request was made six times. As an explanation, I wrote, ‘In the Rosary, I am able to contemplate on the life of our Lord, and say 50 Hail Marys; each one articulating 'Jesus'. Following from Jewish teaching that we make the person present should we say their name, I believe that I make Jesus more present in my life by saying the Rosary.'
I can foresee that Questionaire III (one's thinking habits are evaluated) may have controversial findings, and will be perceived as a tool against Catholics; whether it is or not, lies in how the research findings are interpreted. Does Questionaire III try to prove a link between experiencing/undertaking sinful thoughts/actions, and the corresponding disquiet/guilt one feels?
The sad reality is that sin does cause anxiety, and Catholics do hold that we sin, also, through our thoughts and words, what we have done or what we have failed to do. The latter what ‘we have failed to do’ falls into the sins of omission category.
Parts of the survey is like an intensely rigorous examination of conscience for confession, and tries to measure the anxiety caused us by our thoughts, against the anxiety felt in relation to actions. In effect, how much more seriously do we hold our thoughts to account, rather than our actions?  One important point that I raise; the actual feelings of anxiety and depression are not the sinful substance, rather it is the initial blasphemous or violent thought.  

One such mental reflex that the survey invites us to consider; ‘I am upset by unpleasant thoughts that come into my mind against my will.’ For Catholics, being upset and having an unpleasant thought ener one’s head is not sinful, it is if we entertain these unpleasant thoughts and let these thoughts rob us of our peace; that my friend is the slip.
Long before therapies came out to help people control their thoughts and feelings, the Catechism of the Catholic Church warned us expressly against what modern psychologists call ‘negative thought patterns’ and ‘depressive/anxious thought sequences’.  
Where I personally feel that the survey was inadequate, was that it did not ask more explicit questions, related to the sacraments, about how a Catholic deals with such anxiety-caused-by-sin. Such as going to confession, and accepting that one is forgiven. 

Ahem, it’s after twelve noon, I ought to say my angelus, give up being a hypocrite (for today at least) and say my Rosary.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Lottery: the prize, a human egg

Ladies! Interested in becoming egg donors?

Oh, you’re fond of the fags, forget it. A bit on the tubby side? Sorry, love, we won’t be calling you back. D’ya have any childhood pics handy? They’ll be handy eye candy when we are flogging your eggs to couples who’ll want a kid just like you! Right, so, when did you graduate from university? I see, you didn’t get into university? Well, for our programme, you must be a university graduate. No, let me be blunt, people who work at the till in their local pub cannot be accepted for an egg donor. Got it? And by the way we haven’t had many requests for egg donors of your ethnicity. So scoot!

This loosely describes the criteria used by IVF clinics to select 'egg donors'/seller of her eggs. Such a clinic that is in the spot light these days is The Genetics & IVF Institute in Virginia.
This IVF clinic specialises in profiling egg donors by health, upbringing, education and looks. They are now in partnership with the London Bridge Centre over here.

The business deal between the London Bridge Centre and the Virginia based IVF clinic: British women may be directed from the London Bridge Centre to the US clinic, where ‘donated’/bought-at-huge-prices-eggs are available. This egg-harvesting and selling-for-profit is in fact illegal in Britain. British women may pay £13,000 for an egg and IVF treatment – in America.

The raffle tomorrow, to take place at the London Bridge Centre, is part of a generating business sales plan; a scheme to draw potential ‘egg recipients’/buyers of select eggs, to America for costly IVF treatment that promises the opportunity of designer children. The Evening Standard ran with the headline ‘Fertility clinic raffles human egg to attract new customers.’
Here’s their two stage plan to by-pass British laws. First, the raffle will take place in London. And the ‘winner’ who is planning to become pregnant, will be awarded a human egg and £13,000 of fertility treatment.
Second, the actual treatment will take place in America. This is due to the small fact that selling human eggs for profit is legal in America.
The Daily Mail (a paper that is often unfairly and snootily demeaned as being ‘a chavs paper’) have reported on the ‘fury’ because the IVF clinics are ‘commercialising the miracle of life’ with this human egg tombola.
The Daily Mail has given column inches to Josephine Quintavalle. Quintavalle (of the group Comment on Reproductive Ethics) has this to say; 'the capacity of the IVF industry to commodify human life reaches a new low with this latest deplorable initiative. 'Imagine a child one day finding out that he or she came into being thanks to such a blatantly commercial initiative...These women selling their eggs are taking a huge risk with their health and future fertility simply because they need the money," she said. The Daily Mail also gives the story flesh and bones; they put in the profile pictures of egg donors. The egg donors childhood pictures are nothing short of advertising the genetic potential of women who were sweet-looking children, and have grown up to be successful adults.

About eighteen months ago, back in Ireland, I was in talks with a newspaper about doing an article on the ‘human egg trade’, and why it is becoming so predominant. The newspaper would not run with the story because it was all a bit too icky and irrelevant. You know, selling-eggs-for-profit is so bad taste! Bad taste it may be, but it is still happening and it is still a reality no matter how much we would prefer to think that Stephen King had dreamt it up.

Those of us who disagree with this move for designer children will of course be slighted with the usual rhetoric; that we are not being fair to infertile couples, that if the couples are going to have ‘donor eggs’, then it might as well be the egg of their choice, and that IVF babies are planned and wanted! And also, those women who ‘donate eggs’ – it’s their choice – they can do what they want with their bodies! This cheap rhetoric is based on numerous fallacies. To start with, calling them ‘donor eggs’ is actually very bogus terminology; ‘retail of sex cells’ sounds tactless, but this is a market where the ‘seller’ advertises their genes, and the ‘buyer’ chooses a genetic pool most likely to produce their dream child. Also, the IVF clinics are eager for ‘donors’ but not women without university degrees. Did you ever hear of a healthy person being turned away from donating a kidney because he didn’t have a university degree?

Donna Dickinson’s book Body Shopping is an excellent reference for the history of ‘the egg trade’. It also chronicles the enormous health risks facing women who sell eggs, and of the stealthy ways women are fooled into being ‘harvested’ for eggs.

Furthermore, who says it is just infertile couples who opt for specialist egg buying and designer kids? It’s not surprising that fertile women are abandoning the choice of conceiving surprise children with their own eggs, and are opting for the donor eggs of a ‘university graduate’ with cute childhood snaps. It’s not about having a child per se, but having the ‘best’ child.

And what if a mistake is made at the IVF clinic?

In Belfast a couple have fought a bitter legal battle because the mother was fertilised with mixed race sperm, and she gave birth to a ‘dark’ baby instead of what she specified, white Caucasian.
So, that baby who was born the ‘wrong’ colour to white parents, will have, as part of his history, that his parents sued for damages because of a ‘bungle’ at the IVF clinic. And his dad is emphatic that ‘the mistake’ (the baby’s skin colour) has ‘devastated’ his family. This is the reaction of a hurt customer, who put in an order for a child of a certain race, got a child that didn’t match his wishes, and is so angry that he will take centre stage in the media to protest.

All the while, those of us who lament this process where children become commodities are lampooned as anti-progress.

PS - Reviewing the characteristics that an ‘egg donor’ must possess to be deemed worthy of giving her genetic pool/egg, I’m sure Josef Mengele would approve.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Mum, whatever you do: don’t read this!

At a recent conference in Modena, Italy, historians evaluated the role some distinguished Catholic mums held in shaping their children’s Catholicity, and their ultimate role in helping their children become saints. St. Pius X’s mother strikes an especially insightful pose; each day she exhorted her children to pray in the morning, and in the evening the family were brought together for an open examinations of conscience. Curé of Ars ascribed momentous importance to the responsibility of mothers in forming faith; "virtue passes from the heart of the mother to the heart of the children,"
Concerning the historians finding, Fr Zuhldorf has the following analysis.
The Catholic News Agency does not have as good a report as Fr Z, but nonetheless, here’s the link.
To an extent, I can see the historical evaluation of mothers-of-the-saints, as having a parallel in my own life, in terms of the influence of a mum. Not that I am anything compared to Pope St. Pius X. I’ll be begging St. Pius X to throw some water droplets from Heaven to ease my burns in Purgatory.
Nevertheless, When I was 14, my Mum had a dramatic religious reversion, which had far more of an effect on me than it had on my older siblings who at the time were in their twenties. Friends of mine comment (out of my parents’ hearing!) that not all my siblings practise. One pivotal factor was that Mum simply wasn’t as loyal to the sacraments when they were growing up, as she was when I was in my Holden-Caulfield-stages. 
Before My Mum’s Catholicism re-charge, she and Daddy had always been loyal to the Church’s teaching, lived an example of ‘openness to life’ and were devotees to Humanae Vitae. I am very grateful for this and have thanked them; I know in my own conscience that I would be extremely promiscuous now had my parents shown an example of ‘contracepting’. My attitude would have been, 'if Mum and Dad did it in marriage, what's so wrong with it?' Plus my parents’ stance against contraception drew a lot of sneers from condom-country inhabitants; this defiance to contraception made Mum and Abba all the more worthy of my respect.  And I know that I would not be pro-life if Mum had not explained with great urgency when I was seven (1992 – the X Case was the Irish news item of the decade) that abortion was always wrong. 

In the years before mum’s catholic re-awakening, we, as a family said a decade of the Rosary on a nightly basis at my home, after dinner, something my father instituted. However, Mum and Dad, in their innocence, left it to local ‘Catholic’ primary schools to transmit the faith to me. Furthermore, we were Sunday Catholics who tripped in, late, a second before or after the Gospel. Confession was a Christmas and Easter affair. I vividly remember when I was eleven, my mum had a conversation with an older brother discussing that it had been a number of years since he had gone to confession. A casual attitude was taken to this lapse of some years since said older brother had been near a confessional. Once we were on holiday in London, we didn’t go to Mass on Sunday, and from then I had it fixed in my head that it was ok to drop Mass whenever I left Cork. Growing up I knew no one who was evangelical about the Catholic faith, no one with a love of Our Lord, and the gospels became something of a legend.
So, at twelve, I was a vegetarian atheist, just there in person at Mass, trying hard never to listen to any of the words at the sermon or liturgy, and planning to drop all pretences to religious practice when I grew up.
It became harder to conceal my hate for religion, when at the age of 14, Mum developed a fondness for praying, a love for frequent reception of the sacraments, and a seriousness in her faith that I found new – and unsettling. For the first time, Mum noticed my reluctance and the cross tone in my voice when I was called on to say the Hail Mary at decade-of-the-Rosary-time, ‘what’s that Mary? You’ll have to say that prayer again. You must say it with respect.’  I didn’t believe – but it had an effect – one night I couldn’t sleep until 5AM because Mum had earlier spoken of Fatima – and the thought of the three children witnessing hell jolted my adrenaline. Select things that she would say sank deep into me; she knew I loved CS Lewis and said that CS Lewis was the writer who had written that the cleverest trick of the devil is to fool the world into thinking he doesn’t exist.
She asked me to attend a Tridentine Mass with her, and I agreed because I was so curious, but reneged because she wanted me to cover my hair; ‘never Mum, never! How dare you ask me to hide my hair! That’s so sexist! Sexist!’ There were times when I insulted her outright – ‘that’s just stupid Mum.’ Mum was actually very patient with me. She gave me expensive ‘sparkly’ Rosary beads, and I left them gather dust for five years. She took me to confession, and was horrified when I strutted out, boasting about the fact that I had been refused absolution. Then there was my arrogance; ‘oh come off it, like, confession doesn’t matters! Doh!’  
It was nice though, when she let me stay at home to honour the feast of the Immaculate Conception, and said to me ‘you should know that the so-called [Irish] government minister who abolished the school holiday for the 8th of December is not a practising Catholic. She wants you to focus on school and not on Our Lady!’ Mum felt Really Aggrieved that she had completely overlooked checking the content of our Catholic school text books; ‘there was nothing in those books! You had such poor catechesis.’
Mum started ‘hanging around’ churches and started to accumulate greater numbers of consciously Catholic friends, who we jokingly called ‘Mum’s prayer group’. Through her friends, I saw that it wasn’t ‘just Mum’ who was into the St. Brigid of Sweden prayers, doing holy hours and trying to get me interested in lighting candles. These new friends of mum’s were into visiting holy places, praying to Padre Pio, and shared mum’s delight at a fish burger in McDonald’s on Fridays.
And also, I knew interiorly that mum’s new friends didn’t use contraception. They quoted Humanae Vitae with a tenderness and love for the papal document that even I found inspiring. They spoke of hardships in their jobs, the difficulties they faced in not prescribing the Pill, and of their money pressures because they were one-income homes. Their apartness compared to other parents was something that I found interesting; ‘why are so many parents putting condoms in their sons’ wallets?’ was a question they often asked. I was impressed with their courage of conviction and respected them for it. Was their faith really worth all this effort? No, I told myself, they were just clinging to their religious Mary and Jesus fantasies.
Mum’s new friends rallied around her and supported her during the following incident. The exact moment that I passed from being an atheist to believing in ‘something’ was when I was run-over by a truck, but miraculously survived the impact. At the precise moment of the collision; my mother had prayed to my guardian angel, who according to the laws of physics, must have cushioned me from the killer head blow I received from the truck. There’s no ‘scientific reason’ for why I should have survived; only a mother’s clamouring of Heaven, the grace won, and my winged one sent to deliver me from certain death.
PS -  The children of mum’s ‘prayer group’ were around the same age as me, and slowly over the years, I got to know them better, we became friends and swapped stories about our backgrounds. We remain friends today – we all ‘have the faith’ and compare notes on what ‘cool’ things we’ve being doing. How many holy hours have you done this week C? How many times did you pray outside an abortion clinic? What - they have a regular Latin Mass there? Had someone told me, when I was 14 that I would be going to a Tridentine Mass – and covering my hair – I would have told them to take it easy on the LSD.  

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Your Name is Needed to Publically Support Pope Benedict’s Visit

The above petition supporting the Holy Father’s visit has only 8,000 signatures. 

May I invite you all to sign the petition, and encourage others to do the same?  I received an e-mail that advised others to put the petition address in their parish newsletters. Perhaps, we could ask our parish priests to include it in the next newsletter.

On the 'other side', the usual gangsta-imitating bullies are gathering support for their battle against the pope. The National Secular Society are doing their best to encourage bitterness towards the pope. 
The Secular Society has an online petition against Pope Benedict’s visit which has already enticed 25,000 signatures. Let's hope that number has peaked.  'Make the Pope Pay' is the corny title of their petition, which sounds very gangsta and East End mob-ish. The National Secular Society sound like a group of knuckle-duster brandishing money lenders, who are willing to go to any measure to extract money from our pope.
The bug-bear of the Nation Secular Society is the cost of Pope Benedict’s visit, and the fact that some expenses from the visit will come from tax-payers. Interesting how the Secular Society do not get nearly as worked up (or as personally vindictive) towards other distinguished guests that are invited to Britain, and whose visits are sponsored by the public purse. 
Would it be too awful an idea to invite every member of the National Secular Society to give a donation for every time they went to a Catholic hospital, or was taught by a Catholic religious/layperson?

Babies Saved; Miracles of the Miraculous Medal

Once, a very shy pro-lifer was trying her best to tell a young pregnant mum and her friend about the baby’s development. The girls just laughed in her face, and every effort to inform as to the personhood of the baby, that the little mite’s heart had been beating since 18 days or the visual image of the embryo at eight weeks were mocked.

The counsellor felt saddened and very low because the girls spoke so flippantly about the abortion. She decided to pass the matter over to Our Lady by giving each of the girls a Miraculous Medal to wear. To the counsellor’s surprise the girls wore the medal around their necks, but jeered at the mere idea of keeping the baby, and the pregnant mother brashly said that she would be having an abortion asap.
Many months later, the same girls sought to speak to the same pro-life advisor. The pregnant mother was now heavily pregnant, looking forward to the birth, and still wearing the Miraculous Medal.

Two seasoned pro-life advisors told me; a chief factor of their success in helping distressed pregnant mothers is to give the pregnant mothers Miraculous Medals. When these pro-life counsellors give the miraculous medal, they always invite the mother to wear it around her neck, as our Lady instructed us to wear it. Invariably they have found that if a mother keeps wearing the Miraculous Medal, even if she doesn’t know its significance, she will keep her baby.

In my home town of Cork, a lady in her twenties found out she was pregnant, booked a flight to London, gave a private clinic a deposite, and made a hotel reservation in London. She was walking through the windy streets of Cork, turned a corner into St. Patrick’s Street and was handed a Miraculous Medal by a member of the Legion of Mary. She had no idea what the medal was or why she had been given it; it was just a shiny piece of metal to her at first, but she felt drawn to it. She kept it in her hand, examined it and suddenly like an electric shock, she felt repulsed by her plans of travelling to London. All thoughts of the plans (and money spent) in preparation for the flight sickened her. ‘I really didn’t have a clue why I felt so sick at the thought of just getting on the flight’ she said to a mutual friend of ours. She missed the flight, kept the Miraculous Medal close at hand, and slowly became hugely disgusted for why she was travelling to London. She kept the baby, and does credit instant when she turned that street corner and was handed a Miraculous Medal as the split second that changed her life, and saved the life of her child.
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