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Showing posts from November, 2010

Pope Benedict: The Vatican addressed Maciel scandal ‘slowly and late’ and Maciel ‘remains a mysterious figure.’

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From the Regnum Christi website:
Peter Seewald: The Church was shaken also by revelations about the double life of Marcial Maciel Degollado…
Benedict XVI: Unfortunately we addressed these things very slowly and late. Somehow they were concealed very well, and only around the year 2000 did we have any concrete clues. Ultimately unequivocal evidence was needed in order to be sure that the accusations were grounded.
To me, Marcial Maciel remains a mysterious figure. There is, on the one hand, a life that, as we now know, was out of moral bounds—an adventurous, wasted, twisted life. On the other hand, we see the dynamism and the strength with which he built up the congregation of Legionaries.
Meanwhile we have had an apostolic visitation carried out and appointed a delegate who together with a group of collaborators is preparing the necessary reforms. Naturally corrections must be made, but by and large the congregation is sound. In it there are many young men who enthusiastically want…

Extremely Rare Footage of St. Pio. I never wanted this You-Tube video to end.

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Hat-Tip to Mark for telling me about this video. You can access Mark's excellent blog here.

Alphonse Ratisbonne and the Miraculous Medal. Part Two

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See Part One for the beginning of the story on how Our Lady appeared to Alphonse in St. Andrew’s Church in Rome. The baron, having made the funeral arrangements for his friend, went back to Alphonse who was on his knees in St. Michael’s chapel. The baron nudged Alphonse at least three times, and mysteriously there was no response. Then, Alphonse turned to the baron. Alphonse’s face was dripping with tears, and he joined his hands and whispered, "Ah, how this man has prayed for me!" Gradually, they left the church. Alphonse who has poured scorn on the Miraculous Medal was kissing the medal and now his tears covered it. Alphonse repeated: "How happy I am.  How good God is!  How great are the graces of happiness!  How we should pity those who do not know this!" He grasped the arm of the astonished baron, and asked to see a 'confessor' so that he might take instruction on being baptized.  The baron, who was mourning the death of a friend, was so bewildered and …

Alphonse Ratisbonne and the Miraculous Medal. A ‘test’ that changed his life. Part One

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1842. A young French Jew, Alphonse Ratisbonne, was due to get married, but spent some time travelling on the continent. When he arrived in Rome, he met Baron de Bussieres, a Protestant who had converted to Catholicism. Ratisbonne was candid with the devout Catholic Baron de Bussieres and declared, ‘a Jew was I born, and a Jew shall I die."
"Well then, since you are so strong-minded and so sure of yourself," said the baron to Alphonse, "promise me to wear something I am going to give you."
"We shall see. What is this?"
"It is only a medal." Then the baron showed him a Miraculous Medal. After some discussion, he challenged Alphonse to wear it and placed it around his neck. Alphonse giggled, but did not say no to it. This was just a dare, a test of belief, thought Ratisbonne.
"Now," said the baron, "you must not shirk the rest. Each morning and evening you must say the Memorare, a very short and effective prayer written by…

Finding Love on the Internet. "When I saw her on my webcam, I fell for her…"

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"When I saw her on my webcam, I fell for her…"

Padre Pio and the Irish Part Two

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Padre Pio statue in Mamore Gap, Donegal, Ireland. In June 2002, this life-size statue of Padre Pio was erected and blessed in the Gap of Mamore, and it faces a shrine of Our Lady. It was finished just in time for Padre Pio's canonisation ceremony in Rome. During that summer, in honour of the 'new' saint, St. Pio, the people of Donegal organised for the Rosary to be said by the site of this statue of St. Pio.

Padre Pio and the Irish Part One

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This week I have been steeped in research on Ireland's recent economic history. I'm doing some journalism on how the faith in Ireland fell, and economic carelessness rose. This may sound all too coincidental and a fluke, but as Ireland went further from the teaching of the Church on how to manage its finances, it went more towards a very unrealistic continental-style financial model that did not suit our wet, windblown island's interests.
Precisely, how has the faith fallen? Mass attendance has dropped to such low levels, that only in the time of St. Patrick's arrival were there fewer people going to Mass (this might not be an exaggeration!). Fewer people know the basics of the faith. But Padre Pio is still very well-regarded and people are more likely to know the basics of his life story than they are the Catechism. Devotion to Padre Pio, is a golden thread of faith that unites both 'Catholic Ireland' of old and modern Ireland. In the days of 'Catholic I…

JFK's RIP prayer card - Catholics just don't make them like they used to

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47 years ago today, JFK was murdered in broad day-light. While, it was an impossibility for me to ever meet JFK, but I did meet his sister. I still pray for the repose of JFK's soul. If JFK went to Purgatory, then we may remember that when Padre Pio was asked how long one soul may stay in Purgatory - Padre Pio answered that it could be up to one hundred years. 
 Here is one of my most treasured possessions - the prayer card that was sent out after JFK's death. Let's see, we have an indulgence of 500 days listed on the back. When was the last time you saw an indulgence on a funeral prayer card? And the quote from St. Ambrose, about conducting the faithfully departed to Heaven with our prayers would be considered very old-school in Catholic circles today. Linen on the Hedgerow's postthis morning inspired me to take photos of this card and post it. Part of this post reads, ' it is fashionable to name call JFK these days; we hear the woman chaser accusations ad nauseu…

Pope Benedict on Communion in the hand

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During a long interview with Peter Seewald, Pope Benedict has said that: “I am not opposed in principle to Communion in the hand; I have both administered and received Communion in this way myself.”

But, he explains: “The idea behind my current practice of having people kneel to receive Communion on the tongue was to send a signal and to underscore the Real Presence with an exclamation point. One important reason is that there is a great danger of superficiality precisely in the kinds of Mass events we hold at Saint Peter’s, both in the Basilica and in the Square. I have heard of people who, after receiving Communion, stick the Host in their wallet to take home as a kind of souvenir.

“In this context, where people think that everyone is just automatically supposed to receive Communion — everyone else is going up, so I will, too—I wanted to send a clear signal. I wanted it to be clear:  Something quite special is going on here! He is here, the  One before whom we fall on …

Wilde Mary...

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For my pro-life posts and anti-abortion newspaper articles I got: Stephen King. I’d like to believe that means the articles are more Shawshank Redemption than It, but maybe they are both!


For the account of my dog Polly’s cure, thanks to the St. Benedict Medal...I got...


I write like
Mark Twain I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!
And fora post on the dress code for visiting the Vatican - you guessed it – Dan Brown. Exhale noisily

For a post about visiting an elderly patient in a psychiatric ward I got…J.K. Rowling.

For the account of arguing with Baroness Warnock about embryonic stem cell research…I got Leo Tolstoy.


I write like
Leo Tolstoy I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing! For private literary endeavour – the time spent writing as of yet unpublished Irish fiction -I got Oscar Wilde. I'm thrilled!


I write like
Oscar Wilde I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing! For my Painful, personal and Highly Controve…

The Real Story of The Exorcist Part Four. This part may upset some.

The introduction of a statue of St Michael the Archangel makes a huge difference to the exorcism...

The Real Story of The Exorcist Part Three. This part may upset some.

The Real Story of The Exorcist Part Two. This part may upset some.

Stern Stuff! During the first ‘failed’ exorcism the priest’s arm is ripped from the shoulder to the wrist and needs 100 stitches. Then the priests who manage a second exorcism do not know of the first attempted exorcism and the violence unleashed on a fellow priest.

The Real Story of The Exorcist Part One

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Skip to 1:40 minutes to get straight into the story that inspired the novel and the film The Exorcist. A valuable historical note is made at the start - that in the Jewish scripture any trafficking with evil spirits was not only forbidden, but punishable by death. The possessed child, Robbie used an image to portray the beginnings of his possession - that there seemed to be 'marching feet in his bed'. Also, interesting that Robbie's possession took on the characteristics of 'perfect possession' (the term from the Catechism of the Catholic Church) when he attempted to contact his dead aunt through the ouija board.

Padre Pio and Dan Brown (apparently) have something in common. I am not convinced.

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Their writing styles! When I put samples of Padre Pio’s writings into the ‘I Write Like’ test, I found that Padre Pio’s writing style is meant to be closest to that of the Catholic-basher, literary fraudster Dan Brown. Clearly, it’s not content that’s being analysed – rather the ‘style’ or genre. It is interesting that both Padre Pio (for the right reasons) and Dan Brown (for filling his pockets) have caught the attention of the whole world with their writings. But it sounds so far-fetched and ludicrous that the greatest spoof-writer of our times, Dan Brown would have anything in common with a saint who consistently draws our attention to eternal truths.   With a heavy heart, I here paste the ‘badge’ that popped up when I put in Padre Pio’s letter praising Humanae Vitae. Forgive me Padre Pio. But don't you think it would irritate/annoy the hell out of Dan Brown to know that his writing style is (supposedly) close to that of Padre Pio's?! 


I write like
Dan Brown I Write Like by Mém…

Padre Pio forbid all diabolic 'magic', and that would include children's 'toys'

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Padre Pio prohibited all 'magic' and fortune telling. In November 1948, Padre Pio heard a lady’s confession. The lady gave an account afterwards, ‘among the things I told him was that we were worried about our aunt who read Tarot cards in our family”. Padre Pio in a authoritative tone said: "Throw that stuff away, as soon as you can."  There is a lot of confusion among Catholics as to whether to buy 'magic' toys such as ouija boards and tarot card sets for their children. As Linen on the Hedgerow points out, buying 'toys' such as ouija boards over the internet has made it possible for people in our chilly islands to buy 'magic' toys from the US. The reason that I write 'magic' instead of just magic, is that really 'magic' is a nice-sounding, Disney-esque word that conjures up images of wands and magical fantasy castles; the stuff of fairy tales and fantasy. But diabolic 'magic' is real - where people believe that they wi…

Kelly Clinger's painful testimony: "I had an abortion and I hate myself"

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Kelly Clinger, who was a back-up singer for the pop star Britney Spears, has blogged about her abortions.
"Someone asked if I had heard about the doctor in Orlando who has been in a lot of trouble, and when I searched for news about it, I realized it was James Pendergraft, the doctor who did my abortions.  He has now had his medical license suspended for the fourth time, this time for performing late term abortions past the time when they are legal.
When I saw a picture of the clinic, I crumbled.  When I saw a picture of the doctor, I began weeping and I couldn’t stop...I can still remember the poster on the ceiling.  It was the last thing I saw before I fell asleep from the anesthesia, and the first thing I saw when I woke up.
The article was full of stories about women like me … ones who have suffered for months, even years, because of incomplete abortions. There was a woman who was awake and saw her baby being pulled from her as his body fell apart in the doctor’…

Padre Pio’s First Miracle – A burnt face is healed

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It was the year 1908, and Padre Pio lived in the monastery of Montefusco. One day, he collected chestnuts in the forest nearby, and sent a bag of chestnuts to his aunt Daria. Daria was very fond of her nephew Pio. Daria received the chestnuts, ate them, but kept the bag as reminder of Pio. Some days later, Daria was looking in a drawer (her husband kept gun powder in this drawer) and Daria used a candle to help her see. The drawer caught fire, and Daria’s face got burned. Taking the bag that Fr. Pio had sent with the chestnuts, and placing it on her face, Daria’s blazing pain disappeared and no wound or burn mark remained.

This account gives us a pleasant glimpse of Padre Pio’s earthly life – the friar who thoughtfully collected chestnuts as a simple gift. He knew of his aunt’s great affection for him, and how she would enjoy the chestnuts. But did he know that an immense cure would be wrought from using the bag? It is to be expected that the friar, who as a child had colloquies with …

Do the Legion of Christ stand a chance of surviving? And may Pope Benedict save them from themselves? Part Two

Maybe it’s negative on both counts. Leading Catholic journalist, William Oddie,started a vital debate, ‘the superiors of the Legion of Christ are opposing change – why not sack the lot?’ William Oddie puts forth the following case.

The trouble is first that the entire spirituality of the Legion is based to a quite extreme extent on the supposed heroic sanctity of its founder. According to a former Legionary priest, Fr Stephen Fichter: “Maciel was this mythical hero who was put on a pedestal and had all the answers. When you become a Legionary, you have to read every letter Fr Maciel ever wrote, like 15 or 16 volumes. To hear he’s been having this double life on the side, I just don’t see how they’re going to continue.”

And what a double life. Sex abuse of minors. Six illegitimate children. Mistresses housed in luxury apartments bought with the Legion’s money. The list goes on.

Fr Fichter, once the chief financial officer for the order, said he informed the Vatican three years ago that …

Why a cruel recession grips Ireland...

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From Daniel Hannan's excellent Daily Telegraph blog post.
In the 1990s, you used to hear the argument that Ireland was growing thanks to the EU. It wasn’t true. Ireland was growing because it had restructured its tax system so as to stimulate enterprise. The sectors which were doing best – notably software and financial services – were those which were untouched by Brussels regulation. Most EU money went into the part of the economy that was shrinking: agriculture. Indeed, to the extent that Brussels took an interest, it tended to attack Ireland for its “harmful tax competition”.
As the boom became deafening, alarmed Irish economists pointed out that, according to every model, there needed to be a stiff rise in interest rates. But there were no Irish interest rates any more: there was only the euro-zone, in which borrowing remained cheap to suit the needs of the large continental economies.
Sure enough, the crash was commensurately painful when it came. But the credit crunch was…

Padre Pio: “remove also the pictures of the bad women in the drawer of the table at home”

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In the past number of days, as preparation for an anti-porn newspaper article, I have been reading lots of research on the devastating effects which porn addiction (known also and simultaneously as ‘sex addiction’) may wreak on the lives of the individuals and couples.
As part of on-going research, and over several years, I have interviewed women whose men folk are fixated with porn. Often times, the women are left with no option but to break off the relationship. Some women who are by no means religious have quipped that ‘I wish someone had stopped my boyfriend becoming so totally preoccupied with porn. He spends more time with it – up to eight hours a day – than he ever does with me!’
At times doing the research, I have come across the usual old sops for porn; ‘people who don’t like porn are cold prudes’. I’ve kept in mind how my spiritual hero was very firm with men when he told them to rid their lives of porn. Once a young man came to Padre Pio for a blessing, but Padre Pio look…

Child hostage gives a harrowing account of the Baghdad church attack

Instead of prison, a judge orders Irishman to climb Croagh Patrick and 'say a few prayers'

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 Joseph McElwee was ordered to climb the mountain in Co Mayo by Judge Seamus Hughes after being found guilty of threatening and abusing gardaí while drunk in Donegal on March 28th last.
Father-of-two McElwee of Aughavennan, Rathmullan, came out of a pub in the seaside town and launched into a verbal tirade against gardaí which lasted more than ten minutes….
Outraged Judge Hughes, who is himself a native of Mayo, ordered McElwee to do four stations of the famous mountain as a mark of respect for his fellow Irish people, especially those in the line of duty(!)

At the time Judge Hughes instructed McElwee "I want you to come back in a month's time with evidence that you did the four stations of Croagh Patrick and say a few prayers. You then might have a different impression of Co Mayo and its people."

Unemployed McElwee, 38, returned to court yesterday and produced pictures of himself, his wife and 12 other friends climbing the mountain.

Joseph McElwee told Judge McElwee he …

Do the Legion of Christ stand a chance of surviving? And may Pope Benedict save them from themselves? Part One

Some background detail. Maybe I’m easily shocked or just misled? But I find the following episode to be very revealing. The New York Times reported (see here) that prior to becoming Pope, Pope Benedict gave a lecture to a group of Legionary priests, and was afterwards was given an envelope of money “for his charitable use.” Ratzinger was “tough as nails in a very cordial way,” a witness said, and turned the money down. Later in 2004 it was Ratzinger who launched a thorough examination of Maciel’s past. And as Pope, who banished Maciel to a monastery for ‘perpetual penance’ and started formal inquiries into the religious order founded by Maciel, The Legion of Christ.

Padre Pio on Salvation Outside the Church Part Three 'Julius Fine is saved...'

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“Julius Fine is saved . . .” Fr. Alessio Parente, O.F.M. Cap., lived and worked alongside Padre Pio for many years in Our Lady of Grace Friary at San Giovanni Rotondo. He wrote numerous books about his confrere, and his works provide reliable source material for the saint. The following information is from Fr. Alessio’s book The Holy Souls,19 and was related by a “very good friend” of his, Mrs. Florence Fine Ehrman, the daughter of the person in question.  In 1965 her father, Julius Fine, who had practiced the Jewish faith all his life and believed firmly in God, was stricken with what is commonly called “Lou Gehrig’s disease.” Mrs. Ehrman wrote to Padre Pio beseeching a cure for her father from this fatal illness. A short time later she received the reply that Padre Pio would pray for her father and would take him under his protection. When her father passed away in February of the next year, she was able to accept his death peacefully. However after some time, she began to worry abou…