Sunday, 26 June 2011

Pharmacist asks greater accountability on ‘safe sex’ from her colleagues; “Why are we as a profession going along with the lie that postcoital contraception is not abortifacients?”

The journal of UK pharmacists, The Pharmaceutical Journal, ran an article by RoseMary Baker, a pharmacist from the Wirral, showing the downside of ‘safe sex’.
‘Are we being as fair to the public about sex as we are about smoking or eating sweets or drinking alcohol?  Do we highlight the failure rate of contraceptives or do we couch the true failure rate in terms like “if used effectively”. Do we shout from the rooftops the fact that many progesterone only pills are likely to fail if the dose is more than three hours late? Have we fought for a Government health warning on condoms which says “this product is likely to fail if you have never used a condom before and you are fumbling around in the dark at the back of the youth club”? Do we help to punch home the truth that sexually transmitted infections really are transmitted sexually, are highly unpleasant and often lead to infertility later in life?’
‘Why are we as a profession going along with the lie that postcoital contraception is not abortifacients? Someone, and I do not know who, decided that pregnancy does not begin until an embryo is implanted in the lining of the uterus. How can that be? As scientists we should recognise, that a new life form, genetically distinct from either parent, comes into existence when the sperm and ovum fuse. Once that new life form exists, call it what you will, to destroy it is an abortifacient action. Some may not consider that important but we should be telling people the facts so that they can make their own ethical decision.’
‘We tell people half-heartedly about sexually transmitted diseases but encourage wider availability of postcoital contraception and kid ourselves that such supply does not encourage irresponsible behaviour. When passions are running high would not the prospect of buying a tablet in the morning seem more acceptable than breaking the mood while a condom is applied?
Pharmacists who oppose the availability of post-coital contraception over the counter are branded as, at best, kill-joys and more often, religious bigots. In actual fact these pharmacist are the ones who have their minds tuned to the reality of the situation.
The teenage pregnancy statistics for the UK are terrifying. What are we as a profession doing about it? We just find ways of making the morning after pill ever more widely available instead of spreading the word that sex, far more than chocolate and alcohol, needs to be treated with  restraint and respect.’
Twitch of the mantilla to Protect the Pope.

Padre Pio is canonised a saint, nine years ago this month

From the Homily of John Paul II on the occasion of the canonisation of Padre Pio:

1. "For my yoke is easy and my burden light" (Mt 11,30).
The evangelical image of the "yoke" recalls the many trials that the humble Capuchin of San Giovanni Rotondo had to face. Today we contemplate in him how gentle the "yoke" of Christ is, and how truly light is his burden when it is borne with faithful love. The life and mission of Padre Pio prove that difficulties and sorrows, if accepted out of love, are transformed into a privileged way of holiness…

2. "But may I never boast except in the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ" (Gal 6,14).

Is it not, precisely, the "glory of the Cross" that shines above all in Padre Pio?... Throughout his life, he always sought greater conformity with the Crucified, since he was very conscious of having been called to collaborate in a special way in the work of redemption. His holiness cannot be understood without this constant reference to the Cross.
In God's plan, the Cross constitutes the true instrument of salvation for the whole of humanity and the way clearly offered by the Lord to those who wish to follow him (cf. Mk 16,24). The Holy Franciscan of the Gargano understood this well, when on the Feast of the Assumption in 1914, he wrote: "In order to succeed in reaching our ultimate end we must follow the divine Head, who does not wish to lead the chosen soul on any way other than the one he followed; by that, I say, of abnegation and the Cross" (Epistolario II, p. 155).



3. "I am the Lord who acts with mercy" (Jer 9,23).
Padre Pio was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making himself available to all by welcoming them, by spiritual direction and, especially, by the administration of the sacrament of Penance. I also had the privilege, during my young years, of benefitting from his availability for penitents… Even when that unusual confessor treated pilgrims with apparent severity, the latter, becoming conscious of the gravity of sins and sincerely repentant, almost always came back for the peaceful embrace of sacramental forgiveness…

4. "You, Lord, are my only good"….

He loved to repeat, "I am a poor Franciscan who prays" convinced that "prayer is the best weapon we have, a key that opens the heart of God".
This fundamental characteristic of his spirituality continues in the "Prayer Groups" that he founded, which offer to the Church and to society the wonderful contribution of incessant and confident prayer. To prayer, Padre Pio joined an intense charitable activity, of which the "Home for the Relief of Suffering" is an extraordinary expression…
5. "I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because ... these things ... you have revealed to little ones" (Mt 11,25).
How appropriate are these words of Jesus, when we think of them as applied to you, humble and beloved Padre Pio.
Teach us, we ask you, humility of heart so we may be counted among the little ones of the Gospel, to whom the Father promised to reveal the mysteries of his Kingdom.
Help us to pray without ceasing, certain that God knows what we need even before we ask him.
Obtain for us the eyes of faith that will be able to recognize right away in the
 poor and suffering the face of Jesus.
Sustain us in the hour of the combat and of the trial and, if we fall, make us experience the joy of the sacrament of forgiveness.
Grant us your tender devotion to Mary, the Mother of Jesus and our Mother.
Accompany us on our earthly pilgrimage toward the blessed homeland, where we hope to arrive in order to contemplate forever the glory of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. 
Amen

The steps taken in canonising Padre Pio


God thus showed the Church his desire to glorify on earth his faithful servant. In a short time the Capuchin Order took the steps prescribed by canon law to begin the Cause of Beatification and Canonization. After examining the case, the Holy See, in accordance with the norm of the Motu Proprio “Sanctitas Clarior”, granted the nihil obstat on 29 November 1982. The Archbishop of Manfredonia was thus enabled to introduce the Cause and set up the informative process (1983- 1990). On 7 December 1990, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints recognized its juridical validity. When the Positio had been completed, there was the usual discussion on whether the Servant of God had exercised the virtues to a heroic degree. On 13 June 1997 the Special Meeting of the Theological Consultors was held and gave a positive judgement. In the Ordinary Session on 21 October 1997, with Bishop Andrea Maria Erba of Velletri‑Segni, the Proposer of the Cause, together with the Cardinals and Bishops, recognized that Padre Pio da Pietrelcina had lived to a heroic degree the theological, cardinal and associated virtues.
On 18 December 1997, in the presence of Pope John Paul II, the Decree on heroic virtue was promulgated.
For the Beatification of Padre Pio, the Postulation presented to the competent Congregation the healing of Signora Consiglia De Martino of Salerno. The regular canonical process on this case was held at the Ecclesiastical Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Salerno-Campagna-Acerno from July 1996 to June 1997. On 30 April 1998 at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints the Medical Board examined the miracle, and on 22 June 1998 the Special Meeting of Theological Consultors gave its judgement. On 20 October 1998 the Ordinary Congregation of the Cardinals and Bishops belonging to the Congregation was held in the Vatican. On 21 December 1998 in the presence of Pope John Paul II the Decree on the miracle was promulgated.
On 2 May 1999, in the course of a solemn concelebrated Mass in St Peter's Square, Pope John Paul II by his apostolic authority beatified the Venerable Servant of God Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, naming 23 September as the date of his liturgical feast.
For the canonization of Blessed Padre Pio of Pietrelcina the Postulation presented to the competent Dicastery the cure of the young Matteo Pio Colella of San Giovanni Rotondo. The regular canonical process on the case was held at the Ecclesiastical Tribunal of the Diocese of Manfredonia-Vieste from 11 June to 17 October 2000. On 23 October the documents were forwarded to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. On 21 November 2001 the medical testimony was examined by the same Congregation. The Theological Consultors held a special Congress on 11 December and on 18 December the ordinary Session of Cardinals and Bishops took place. On 20 December, in the presence of John Paul II, the Decree on the miracle was promulgated. Finally, on 28 February 2002 the Decree of Canonization was promulgated. This is account is from The Vatican website. 

Paul VI said of Padre Pio that he “bore the wounds of our Lord”

From his youth, his health was not very robust, and especially in the last years of his life it declined rapidly. Sister Death took him well-prepared and serene on 23 September 1968 at the age of eighty-one. An extraordinary gathering of people attended his funeral.
On 20 February 1971, barely three years after the death of Padre Pio, Pope Paul VI, speaking to the Superiors of the Capuchin Order, said of him: “Look what fame he had, what a worldwide following gathered around him! But why? Perhaps because he was a philosopher? Because he was wise? Because he had resources at his disposal? Because he said Mass humbly, heard confessions from dawn to dusk and was – it is not easy to say it – one who bore the wounds of our Lord. He was a man of prayer and suffering”.
Even during his lifetime, he enjoyed a vast reputation for sanctity, because of his virtues, his spirit of prayer, sacrifice and total dedication to the good of souls.
In the years following his death, his reputation for sanctity and miracles grew steadily, and became established in the Church, all over the world and among all kinds of people. Read the full account of Padre Pio on the Vatican website.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Ah, but might Ann Widdecombe give a speech at the protest march?


Possibly just my wishful thinking…? But on the timetable for the Protest March against Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws (July 2nd), there is a slot for ‘political speeches’. And Anne Widdecombe is a veteran politician and special envoy for Aid to the Church in Need. On behalf of the charity, Ann travels, reports and monitors religious freedom. Maybe she will be a surprise speaker?



Will your name be on the petition handed to Downing Street, calling for Pakistani Christians to be protected?

You may sign the petition, organised by Aid to the Church in Need here. 
On 2nd July this petition will be submitted to the UK High Commission for Pakistan and 10 Downing Street. The more names the better; how many will pledge that they believe the Christians in Pakistan deserve better?   
ACN UK director Neville Kyrke-Smith will be among those handing in the petition at 10 Downing Street asking the British government to put pressure on Pakistan to amend the laws and step up action to protect the rights of religious minorities. AID to the Church in Need UK is joining forces with Christians and non-Christians alike in a protest march against Pakistan’s infamous blasphemy laws.  The march (London  2nd July) will call for a change to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws which have been cited as causing 14 separate attacks on Christians over the last two months.  Mr Kyrke-Smith said: “Blasphemy for us is just a word – for Christians and all people in Pakistan the accusation of blasphemy can lead to death.”  The ACN petition calls for protection for religious minorities who are often the victims of violence carried out by those who take the law into their hands and accuse them of blasphemy. Mr Kyrke-Smith stressed the widespread abuse of the blasphemy laws and said the Pakistan government should change them in a bid to root out mob violence. Codes 295B and 295C of the blasphemy laws impose severe penalties for offences against Islam.
The protest march against Pakistan’s blasphemy laws take place on Saturday, 2nd July starting at 11am outside the UK High Commission for Pakistan, Lowndes Square, London  SW1X 9JN. A prayer service will be followed by the march to 10 Downing Street.
The march on 2nd July is being organised by Wilson Chowdhry and the British Pakistani Christian Association of which he is chairman. The event begins at 11am at the Pakistani High Commission in Lowndes Square, London, where a petition will be submitted.
Speeches will take place with representatives from Christian organisations and those of other faiths.  Among those giving addresses will be Dr Michael Nazir Ali, former Anglican Bishop of Rochester and the Rev Stuart Windsor, national director of Christian Solidarity Worldwide. Speakers from non-Christian groups include Upkar Rai of the British Sikh Council, Ranbir Singh of the Hindu Human Rights Group and Imam Dr Hargey of the Oxford Islamic Congregation. 
After the speeches the march gets underway heading towards Downing Street. On arrival, there will be more speeches after which the petition will be handed in to No. 10.
Planning to take part in the march on July 2nd? Keep up to date with details here

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Vatican: Artists to honor Pope's 60th ordination anniversary with 60 works


The Vatican will celebrate Pope Benedict’s 60th anniversary of priestly ordination with a month-long exhibition featuring 60 artists from around the world.
Details of the month long exhibition entitled ‘The Splendor of Truth, the Beauty of Love’ were unveiled in Rome today…The event will begin on July 4, when the artists and their work will be presented to the Pope himself. A wide range of art forms will be represented, including painting, sculpture, architecture, photography and music from globally renowned composers such as Ennio Morricone, Arvo Part and James McMillan.
“I was overjoyed and proud to have been invited to participate in this marvelous festival,” McMillan commented. The Scottish composer wrote much of the music to accompany Pope Benedict’s visit to the U.K. last year….“The response from the artists invited has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Richard Rouse of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
“They’re all encouraged, they take this as a good opportunity to reopen a dialogue of works rather than just words. And that’s something that the artists continue to say to us – finally it’s not just words it’s also pictures, it’s also music.”
The event is in some way a spin off from the first meeting Pope Benedict had with artists in the Sistine Chapel, back in 2009. At the time, he promised that they would meet again.
“Pope Benedict, as everybody knows, is a man who’s interested in truth, he’s interested in dialogue, in charity. And we thought that having already had that meeting with artists in 2009 of reaching out again in this dialogue,” Rouse explained.
Amongst the 60 contributions, the Pope will receive a musical arrangement of the Our Father, written by the Estonian composer Arvo Part. It will be sung by a boy treble with Part himself at the piano.
The man behind the music to films like the Mission and the Untouchables, Italian composer Ennio Morricone, has donated a new score which, when viewed as a musical manuscript, depicts a cross.
And the Italian sculptor behind a controversial contemporary statue of Pope John Paul II recently unveiled in Rome, Oliviero Rainaldi, will also produce a new work for the occasion.
The event will run until September 4. Those artworks being displayed will be exhibited at the atrium of the Paul VI Audience Hall in the Vatican. Opening hours are Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Pope Benedict was ordained to the priesthood, along with his brother Georg, in the Bavarian town of Freising on June 29, 1951. Read the full report here.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

The enemy is from PEeP? And who can be Christian enough for Westminster Central Hall?

According to The Jewish Chronicle, ‘a concerned member of Pro Ecclesia’, Robert Williams, got in touch with Westminster Central Hall and warned them off about the speakers Fr Kramer and Robert Sungenis. I’ve got some background details on Robert Sungenis, and yes, his stuff is incendiary, and neither representative or in line with Catholic thought. Sungenis’ views conflict with Pope Benedict’s (as put forth in Jesus of Nazareth Vol. 2). Apparently, PEeP’s Mr Williams spoke out about the PEeP conference because if Fr Kramer and Sungenis were hosted it "would be the equivalent of saying Rabbi Meir Kahane was representative of mainstream Judaism". But did Robert Williams say this to his fellow PEeP members before they booked the speakers?

Is it unreasonable to ask why didn’t Westminster Central Hall do a Google-check on the speakers before they accepted the booking and accepted the cash? Why not indeed? And it’s only a cool £4,000 that they took from PEeP. Two facts – Westminster Central Hall cancelled the talk at short notice, and now refuse to give the spondoolicks that PEeP handed over when they took the booking for a conference that was to take place yesterday. But didn’t go ahead, for reasons that we already know.
Cancelling the talk and keeping the money - is it a punishment of sorts – a kind of ‘because-those-speakers-were-not-Christian-enough-for-us-we’ll-not-give-the-£4000-back'? So, because Fr Kramer and Robert Sungenis are not deemed Christian-speakers, Westminster Central Hall may hold onto the money that Christians gave them? But is there some sort of definite way that Westminster Central Hall has for vetting who is Christian and who is not? Because if someone holds extreme, fallacious views does that mean they are excluded from Christianity? Is it even Christian of Westminster Central Hall to decide who’s Christian and who’s not? It’s a very subjective reason for not returning cash - that the speakers were not Christian enough. Christianity is conversion of the heart to Christ – not a private member’s club.
Daphne McLeod may well sue Westminster Central Hall for not returning the money. And she has my prayers that she is successful. ‘The labourer is worthy of his hire’ – but he can’t take the money and not do the work – similarly the hall cannot keep money for a conference that they reneged on holding.

Friday, 17 June 2011

The Cancelled PEeP talk – the Cork connection


Daphne McLeod described Cardinal Burke’s abrupt pulling-out of the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice conference as ‘a blow’. Cardinal Burke had planned to give a talk on the restoration of Church discipline and evangelisation. But indefatigable as ever, Daphne found a replacement speaker - Canadian Fr Kramer. But the venue, the Methodist Central Hall in Westminster has cancelled the conference on the grounds that ‘they’ don’t want to be associated with such speakers as Fr Kramer and Robert Sungenis. It’s another guilt-by-association theme with the authorities at Westminster Central Hall snobbishly fearing “their reputations would suffer if the conference were allowed to go ahead.” Fr Kramer is branded a conspiracy theorist while Mr Sungenis is called an anti-Semite because he has criticised Zionism. – but I don’t know the details of this well enough to comment.
I do, however, have personal experience of Fr Kramer who lives in my hometown of Cork. He’s a brave soul and did prevent a pro-euthanasia talk in a hospital by calling the about-to-speak professor ‘Nazi Eugenicist! Nazi Eugenicist!’ This is no urban legend – I witnessed the whole thing. The scheduled talk was called; ‘Why Euthanasia should be legalised’ and was to be held in Cork University Hospital (‘CUH’). The CUH and the Irish ‘HSE’/Health Service Executive (a loose equivalent of the NHS) confused their role of caring for the sick by bringing in Professor Len Doyal who was supposed to speak in favour of euthanasia. 

It happened on Holy Thursday 2009. I walked into CUH, and took a seat in the lecture hall. I had scribbled a few notes of ‘argument’ to say to Professor Len Doyal. The lecture hall was rather full of pro-lifers who were opposed to the talk going ahead. But as Len Doyal walked into the hall, and as he went to the podium to advocate that euthanasia be legalised to save money and free-up beds, Fr Kramer stepped out and called him ‘a Nazi eugenicist’. 
I remember seeing the shocked look of culpability on Len Doyal’s face, as he beheld Fr Kramer dressed in a soutane and Fr Kramer repeating ‘Nazi eugenicist!’ Fr Kramer looked Professor Doyal straight in the eye – and Doyal found no words to dissociate himself with the Nazis. The CUH organisers stood back speechless – they were silenced by the comparison to the Nazi regime. Fr Kramer said ‘Nazi eugenicist’ again, and Len Doyal wanted to get out of the hall, I could see the look of embarrassment and dread on Doyal’s face. Fr Kramer was the only Catholic priest who spoke out against Doyal, and at the time Fr Kramer was very unwell. The Irish news reported that the meeting had been broken up by ‘protesters…with Rosary beads’ - but didn't include that Fr Paul had stopped the speaker in his tracks by calling him 'a Nazi'. Interesting that the Nazi link had been left out, perhaps Fr Kramer’s correlation between the professor's extreme ideas on euthanasia and the practices of the Nazi eugenicists was too pertinent. It hit a nerve, so they say. But were I pro-eugenicist, I would still say that if Doyal wants to promote euthanasia, he had better get used to being associated with Nazis, there aren’t that many differences existing between his ideology and theirs on this subject.
But back to Fr Kramer – he’s of mainly German ethnicity. And raises heckles for what he says is ‘the cover-up’ of the Fatima secrets – again I’m not qualified to comment on The Third Secret – but Fr Kramer is also a staunch advocate of Marian devotion and that the requests of Our Lady such as The Daily Rosary and The First Saturdays be kept continuously. Many would rather pass him off as a ‘conspiracy theorist’, but Fr Kramer’s perseveres in teaching that Our Lady, on six separate occasions, requested that Catholics say The Daily Rosary. And now Fr Kramer has been shut-out by Westminster Cathedral. But really – shouldn’t Fr Kramer have been the one that didn’t want to be associated with this hall? As Mulier Fortis pointed out, this is the same Cathedral that hosted the book launch for The Gospel According to Judas. And let’s not forget the meeting of the Parkinson’s Disease Society – which campaigns for the human embryo destruction and human-animal hybrids. No, maybe Fr Kramer’s reputation has been the one salvaged…

Is it a good idea to publish comments from someone who believes they may be the ‘Second Coming’?

On this post about Padre Pio standing at the gates of heaven waiting for all his spiritual children, someone posting as ‘anonymous’ sent me a comment saying; “your ultimate goal is to fix your relationship with the gods and move on…. I may be that Real Second Coming… What I teach is the gods’ real way.”
I have not published this comment…yet. There are pros and cons to publishing such a comment. A blog is a forum where people may debate, swap ideas, and also if someone has an issue or a misunderstanding, then the other readers may give comments that are helpful and beneficial to the person’s faith and life. But where does one begin when a commentator who believes they may be a Messiah writes; “it has been discussed that similar to the matrix complex, the gods will offer a REAL Second Coming”. It does sound like the product of cultish brainwashing, does it not? Someone who believes that gods like The Olympians (see the picture to the left) are in control.

Except maybe it is a hoax – someone hiding behind their computer screen who might just be having a laugh writing a comment that is full of theories about pleasing gods by living a chaste life – I kid you not. And it is posted as anonymous – perhaps it’s too strong to say that I never really trust anonymous commentators. If one stands by what they write, they might take the ‘risk’ of putting their name to it. As Ezra Pound said; “If a man isn't willing to take some risk for his opinions, either his opinions are no good or he's no good”

One complexity with the blogosphere is that there is a lot of guilt-by-association. If a blogger publishes a comment that is strange and delusional, then is the blogger siding and agreeing with the commentator? This goes against the essence of proper debate where several different opinions may be heard, and just because one person voices a contrary, off-the-wall opinion it does not mean that the person hosting the debate is responsible for this opinion… Or does it? If I publish a comment from someone who says that we will go to Heaven ‘only’ if we follow the gods’ way, then am I leading other people who might read this comment astray? If I publish this comment, are people so gullible and impressionable that they would be misled into believing in these ‘gods’?

Padre Pio's cured the son of a Vatican ambassador...



Fernando Sanchez is the ambassador of Costa Rica to the Vatican, but his story has nothing to do with his job. He says, his son is alive thanks to a miracle of Padre Pio. He talks about it in his book "Birth of a spiritual child: Our history with Padre Pio of Pietrelcina." It happened three years ago. His child was born with serious heart problems. The doctors said there was no hope for him, but then something happened that changed everything. Fernando Sánchez Costa Rica’s ambassador to the Vatican "They called me to say, ‘Look, Don Fernando, there is a priest with your son’. I imagined the worst and I ran for the neonatal ward in the intensive care unit and I found the father with a relic of Padre Pio praying over my son’s crib. I joined him and nothing else." After two hours the child’s heart was beating normally and the next day the doctors stopped all treatment and took him off medication. Since then, Fernando Sanchez and his wife have no doubt that Padre Pio interceded in the healing of their son. Fernando Sánchez Costa Rica’s ambassador to the Vatican "Since then we have felt his presence. I have no doubt that he is interceding for us." Three years after the dramatic event, Fernando Sánchez explains how his son’s relationship with Padre Pio has grown. Fernando Sánchez Costa Rica’s ambassador to the Vatican "The most beautiful part is seeing the reaction of my son when he sees a photo of Padre Pio, he calls him his friend."
PS – Here is a good version in Spanish of this account. Many people and close friends with the surname ‘Sánchez’ read this blog. It’s edifying to learn that Padre Pio interceded so much for this Sánchez family from Costa Rica.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

St Anthony's Story

St Anthony finds tea in Spain…

There’s nothing quite as soothing as a cup of ‘black’ tea, which nowadays is much maligned because of its caffeine content and teeth-staining quality. I confess to not having brought enough tea-bags on my holiday to Galicia, North West Spain. I’m here in the rural Spanish countryside, with an alpine view from my window and sheep grazing in nearby fields. The scenery is not far removed from that of The Sound of Music. I’m far from shops, and I thought that I was hundreds of miles from strong, breakfast ‘black’ tea.
After my supply of crumpled tea bags ran out, I prayed to St Anthony; would there be any chance that you could ‘find’ me some tea bags….please…. Those tiny Continental tea-bags just don’t have enough tea…


Today, we visited Spanish friends for lunch, and ate a scrumptious meal of prawns, tortilla, honey-topped melon and red wine under the kiwi trees, with a shy sun sparkling from among the clouds. Afterwards we were about to have coffee, when our host turned to me and said, ‘you’ll have tea! We have PJ Tips from London!’ When I went into the kitchen, my host flung open the tin of tea and exclaimed, ‘I just know that you need some. Here take as many as you need. Take all these!’ She started taking out more and more tea, saying, ‘I have a feeling that you need tea… That you must have tea!’ Why, of all the things that she could have given me, did she feel stirred to give me tea? I had said nothing about needing/wanting it. But she was instantaneously struck with the idea of giving me pyramid shaped teabags full of tea.

Maybe it’s because us Irish have become synonymous with being tea-aholics. Maybe it’s because she is a very spontaneously generous person. But I believe it was St Anthony.

PS - And we might even deduce that St Anthony is in favour of tea!

St Anthony, patron of lost things...


What I like about this video is that the narrator speaks very much from the heart, weaving in the factual events of St Anthony’s life in a short-but-sweet presentation that captures attention.

St Anthony Exhibition…


1:01 minutes into the video, the statue is quite like that in The London Oratory.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Camping in front of Santiago de Compostela's Cathedral….

I’m holidaying here in Spain where the weather is abnormally bracing, blustery and cold for this time of year. I’m borrowing jumpers and clothes to keep warm and have had to keep my fancy, floaty summer dresses to one side. This weekend was devoted to a thorough exploration of Santiago de Compostela with my Spanish friends who acted as enthusiastic guides. This was the first time that I had ever been to Santiago de Compostela, a name that has long featured in my family’s history. My uncle did The (entire) Camino on foot eight years ago. Yesterday, my friends were ‘surprising me’ with the view of the cathedral, and wouldn’t tell me which direction it was. But when we reached the plaza, all I saw were tents, and so I quipped, ‘this can’t be true! They wouldn’t be set up camp in front of the cathedral.’ I turned to my right and saw the cathedral… Photos of the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela can never match up to the real-life visual experience, which overwhelms with its majesty.
The protesters could be seen going from the tents to a roughly-made utility centre of boxes-of-crockery, pieces-of-wood-nailed-together to form shelves, a vegetable patch and rubbish bins. So far, they have resisted local authorities and businesses who have implored them to leave. But while their spectacle distracts from the beautiful sites where they camp, they elicit sympathy. Perhaps Spain has been the country most devastated by the economic storm. Spain's joblessness rate is the highest in the EU, at 21.3%. And for those under 25, it is at 44.6%. By camping in the plazas of Spain’s major cities, “los indignados” are protesting against the Zapatero Socialist government’s economic severity and (new) austerity.
Day by day, Zapatero’s rule is losing credibility. Talking with Spanish voters, they told me that Zapatero is impervious to how ordinary people are suffering under the economic conditions, and that he even mendaciously obfuscates that the financial crisis gripping Spain does not exist. The protesters called on people not to vote for Zapatero's left-wing party, and some say this strong youth-revolt helped voters to deliver a humiliating defeat to his Socialist party in the May 23rd local elections.

The protesters say they will remain camping-out, and are demanding jobs, democracy, and better living standards. ‘The tent city protesters’ have organised themselves into groups to ensure provisions of food, cleaning and publicity via social networks. It will be interesting to see how much stamina the protesters have, and whether they will stay into the start of winter... While the protesters certainly have spirit and spunk, there is something quite selfish, if not brazen about their style. Not to triumph a financial concern; but the protests risk turning off tourists from coming to the area, not exactly good for the pockets of the local businesses. It is almost as if they are completely impermeable to the fact that they camp before hallowed, sacred ground. They want a better future for Spain, but in this truly great Catholic country, they seem oblivious to its Catholic heritage.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Over eleven times the population of Ireland has been lost in abortion in the US, in the last 38 years

The populace of the 18 states in black symbolises the 50,000,000 reported abortions, which have been done in the US, since 1973.
There are just under four and a half million people living in the Republic of Ireland. This signifies that well over eleven times the population of Ireland has been lost in abortion in the US, in the last 38 years.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

A new documentary on saintly Fr John Lee, with an appearance of my ugly mug to be on Korean TV


Korean Broadcasting Station contacted me and Luke Coppen in the past week and invited us to participate in a follow-up documentary to Don’t Cry for Me Sudan, which was a historic film on the life of Fr John Lee’s mission in Sudan. Sometimes you can never guess what may come of one article – in February we did a feature for The Catholic Herald on Fr John, a saintly Korean priest who gave his life to the people of Tonj in South Sudan. Fr John was especially devoted to the Sudanese lepers. The article caught the attention of Dr Goo Soo-hwan (in the picture on the right), who produced Don’t Cry for Me Sudan.  
Now, a Korean TV producer, a film director and a translator are trotting the globe to film interviews with people on the subject of Fr John Lee’s continuing influence, and on why many believe him to be a saint. And yesterday in the offices of The Catholic Herald, we were interviewed about why we had done this story on Fr John Lee Tae-seok for a mainly British and Irish audience. They filmed scenes of us in the office (a sort of ‘here-is-where-they-put-together-the-article-on-Fr-John’). They told us that academics in Korea are eagerly studying The Catholic Herald’s coverage of Fr John Lee!
It’s always a bit nerve-wracking when you are about to be filmed, but the crew were incredibly organised, and in seconds fitted me with a little microphone and the interview was so smooth that it was like a detailed chat. When I was being interviewed, I tried to draw as many parallels as possible between Fr John’s upbringing and medical training in Korea and his mission in Sudan. It will be watched firstly by a Korean audience, so I thought that many links to Korean society would make it familiar for the viewers.
They asked me what I thought of Fr John and his mission in Sudan, and I said that Fr John had meticulous medical training in Korea. But that he had not been content to live the affluent life of a doctor, but used his first-rate qualifications in Sudan, especially to those devastated by Hansen’s disease. And that the sick had greatly benefited from his thorough medical education he was stationed in the Korean army barracks.
They were fascinated to know why Catholics and people of all religions and none find Fr John Lee’s life so fascinating. I explained that Fr John Lee’s life shows the great contribution that one person can make when they develop the full scale of their talents for the betterment of the world. I said that, for us, Fr John readily brings to mind John Bradburne, who cared for the lepers in Rhodesia.
I did, however make the point that Fr Lee’s vocation as a RC priest, meant that he would never have a wife or children of his own, leaving him totally committed to seeing 300 patients a day, running a brass band for the young people, teaching in a school, and building a medical clinic.
One key question that the producer asked me was ‘why can’t more priests be like Fr John?’ I said that if Fr John’s life-story is better known, then his work in Sudan will inspire other priests to follow his path. But that also, Fr John was totally dedicated to his vocation and never wanted to be a part-time lay-person and part-time priest.
Afterwards, the crew slightly bowed their heads as a way of saying thank-you for the interview and gave us a DVD (in English) of Don’t Cry for Me Sudan and exquisite enamelled ornaments, which are like miniature chest of drawers.
The film director said to me that he and his wife are ‘total atheists’, but that they were ‘moved to tears’ when they saw Don’t Cry for Me Sudan, and that they are still wondering why the life of a Catholic priest mesmerised them.
The crew took a photo of me and Luke in front of rows of computers.
The next stop for the TV crew is Sudan where they will interview people, including teenagers and young people who knew Fr John. The documentary will be shown in Korea on July 17th.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Humanae Vitae...

In the last 43 years, millions have read critiques of the encyclical and the satires of Humanae Vitae in glossy magazines. Whenever I get into a discussion about Humanae Vitae, I always ask the other person if they have read the encyclical. It might be mere coincidence but those who agree with Humanae Vitae have read the original document, and not some spurious review.  Few read the real thing... Here...

Padre Pio's letter supporting Humanae Vitae, perhaps the most controversial encyclical ever, released 43 years ago this summer

Pope Paul VI had this letter published in L'Osservatore Romano. 
Your Holiness:

Availing myself of Your Holiness' meeting with the Capitular Fathers, I unite myself in spirit with my Brothers, and in a spirit of faith, love and obedience to the greatness of Him whom you represent on earth, offer my respectful homage to Your August Person, humbly kneeling at Your feet.

The Capuchin Order has always been among the first in their love, fidelity and reverence for the Holy See. I pray the Lord that its members remain ever thus, continuing their tradition of seriousness and religious asceticism evangelical poverty, faithful observance of the Rule and Constitutions, renewing themselves in vigorous living and deep interior spirit—always ready, at the least gesture from Your Holiness, to go forward at once to assist the Church in her needs.

I know that Your heart suffers much these days on account of the happenings in the Church: for peace in the world, for the great needs of its peoples; but above all, for the lack of obedience of some, even Catholics, to the lofty teachings which You, assisted by the Holy Spirit and in the name of God, have given us. I offer Your Holiness my daily prayers and sufferings, the insignificant but sincere offering of the least of your sons, asking the Lord to comfort you with His grace to continue along the direct yet often burdensome way—in defense of those eternal truths which can never change with the times.

In the name of my spiritual sons and of the "Praying Groups" I thank Your Holiness for the clear and decisive words You have spoken in the recent encyclical, "Humanae Vitae", and I reaffirm my own faith and my unconditional obedience to Your inspired directives.

May God grant truth to triumph, and, may pence be given to His Church, tranquility to the people of the earth, and health and prosperity to Your Holiness, so that when these disturbing clouds pass over, the Reign of God may triumph in all hearts, through the Apostolic Works of the Supreme Shepherd of all Christians.

Prostrate at Your feet, I beg you to bless me, my Brothers in religion, my spiritual sons, the "Praying Groups", all the sick—that we may faithfully fulfill the good works done in the Name of Jesus and under your protection.

Your Holiness' most humble servant,

PADRE PIO, Capuchin
Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano  1968  L'Osservatore Romano is the newspaper of the Holy See.

Cardinal Burke and Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice's invisible ‘enemies’: are Pro Ecclesia their own worst enemy?


Three tickets for Cardinal Burke’s talk collect dust on my shelf. And they will stay there for a long time, and become artefacts of our present times. His Eminence has cancelled his talk that was organised by Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice. I’m a tad sour that his talk had to be cancelled, as I had eagerly looked forward to it. His letter to Daphne McLeod is candid and to-the-point: ‘given my position as the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, in which I act on behalf of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, it is not right for me to give a presentation in any place which in anyway would reflect the lack of respect for the Office of Bishop.’
In response to the Cardinal’s letter, Ecclesia et Pontifice say they are ‘whistleblowers’ and have enemies who convinced the Cardinal not to come. The danger here (as I see it) is that they credit random, unseen, nameless nemesis with having changed the Cardinal’s mind, thus endowing their ‘enemies’ with great influence over the Cardinal. Doesn’t it suggest that the Cardinal is being blindly led by some cabal? The only obvious culprit is the flyer. The PEeP flyer need not have stated; ‘..Sadly, because our bishops are obdurate in their refusal to allow our glorious Catholic faith to be taught in our schools…’
It was fatuitous self-indulgence and the flyer was used as a platform to sound-off about the bishops. Is it unfair to ask - are PEeP their own worst enemy?
And even though I’m a disappointed that I won’t hear Cardinal Burke, I resent that blame is put on invisible ‘enemies’, when the flyer alone was enough to put the kibosh on the talk. I’m no Henry Kissinger, but a flyer with the wording, ‘the downward trend is set to resume with the second generation of immigrants’ is a diplomatic nightmare. It more than implies that the bishops are responsible for a generation of immigrants not having the faith.
There is, however, a dichotomy between that which Cardinal Burke calls ‘several expressions of concern from devout and faithful people’; and the gossipy whisperings about who warned Cardinal Burke. So, anyone who privately raised a concern about the flyer has an agenda? In this dimness, baseless conspiracy theories are sprouting like mushrooms. The article on The Catholic Herald website about Cardinal Burke cancelling his visit is surreally akin to a post on Daily Telegraph blogs. The commentators are jousting each other, and a growing faction are in a bid to out-do themselves in speculating about who warned Cardinal Burke against coming.

I have every respect for Daphne McLeod, in fact we owe her a debt; she has tirelessly alerted Catholic parents to the Religious Education shambles. There is something of St Catherine of Sienna about her. In her letter, she describes to Cardinal Burke that she took an RE book to this Pope, and that he ‘got really angry about it, lifted it three times above his head and slammed it down on the table saying “There is a heresy on every page, how can it have an Imprimatur?”
  But surely, the issue about the bishops of England and Wales sanctioning (ok – by delegation) the use of some textbooks should have been kept separate to the advertising of the Cardinal’s talk? The fact is Cardinal Burke has little or no direct jurisdiction over the bishops of our chilly island nation. Daphne McLeod in her letter to Cardinal Burke has been frank that she approved the wording on the flyer because she considered it ‘the plain truth’. But, does the flyer not give the impression that Cardinal Burke was coming to chastise the bishops and give them slaps on the wrist?  Many point to a lack of ‘diplomatic nous’, but what about prudence? The flyer made it sound as though Cardinal Burke corroborated this criticism of the England and Wales Church hierarchy.
Allow a basic example; imagine if a school invited a politician to speak but advertised the talk by giving strident (and maybe deserved) criticism of the members in the politician’s party. The politician may be forced to drop the talk – because if he gives the talk he is ‘siding with’ or helping the school that gave bad publicity to his party. Yes, this is simplistic in the extreme, but it helps illustrate my point.
Is it just me that sees a disparity in the way Daphne McLeod’s letter states, ‘Rather as you yourself do, we sometimes call the Bishops generally to account.’ Am I taking matters too far, or is this trying to put PEeP and Cardinal Burke on the same page? The difference is that Cardinal Burke has held the office of bishop. No one in PEeP has. Cardinal Burke is known for being vocal and out-spoken – he came into the public gaze during the 2004 American presidential elections when he said that Democratic candidate John Kerry and Catholic politicians who support abortion may not be given the Eucharist. But Cardinal Burke’s courage in speaking out, does not change the fact that he has little authority over our bishops. And if he does speak out, he may do so himself, a flyer from a UK organisation should never act as his mouthpiece.
 Fr John Boyle has written that the Cardinal was left with no choice, and Linen On The Hedgerow writes; Cardinal Burke ‘saw the proposed talk, quite rightly, as being an excellent opportunity for PEeP to lambast the Bishops’.  
The problem with such an episode as this, is that ‘Orthodox Catholics’ risk losing credibility. The cancelled talk is being called an ‘embarrassment’, and it’s horribly mortifying for all involved.

Cardinal Burke's letter cancelling talk...

Thursday, 2 June 2011

10 Amazing, Unsung Catholics

Check out The Catholic Herald website for this article. 
1. Gerry Straub
Gerry Straub has had an illustrious career as a television producer in New York and Hollywood, producing extremely popular shows such as General Hospital and The Doctors. But he is now applying his considerable expertise as a film producer, filmmaker, and critically acclaimed author to uncover the living conditions of the world’s poorest people.
Straub has written and directed 18 documentaries, including Embracing the Leper, which shows a Secular Franciscan valiantly bringing support to the lepers of the Brazilian Amazon. Straub is himself a Secular Franciscan, and founder of the San Damiano Foundation. This organisation makes films about the spirituality of St Francis of Assisi and the Franciscan care of the poor. One such notable film is Where Love Is, which shows the work of a Capuchin soup kitchen in Detroit. Straub has taught television directing at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
His new film, Mud Pies and Kites, captures life in Haiti before and after the catastrophic earthquake of 2010. When researching the film Straub visited Haiti seven times, and the title is a reference to the fact that the Haitians were so short of food that they ate mud mixed with spices.
With his firsthand knowledge of the world’s underprivileged, Straub lobbies the US Congress for the rights of the poor.
2. Fr Patrick Desbois
A million and a half Jews were murdered after the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. For the most part, the “Holocaust of bullets” which preceded the Final Solution has slipped under the radar. But France’s Fr Patrick Desbois is dedicating his life to uncovering its full scale and horror.
Fr Desbois can be seen wandering through the forgotten forests and fields of the Ukraine and Belarus, Russia and Poland. Fr Desbois has found more than 800 mass graves of Holocaust victims, and recorded 1,800 videotaped interviews. He travels with a team of two interpreters, a photographer, a cameraman, a ballistics expert, a mapping expert and a note-taker.
Fr Desbois has a particular style of asking questions in a neutral tone. Then he listens to the testimonies without showing any shock and never judging those who worked for the Nazis. This is precisely why many Holocaust scholars say that he is so successful in gathering evidence. Fr Desbois is also very thorough, and has a policy of only registering a grave site or place of execution after getting three independent eye-witness accounts. Many of the witnesses were children and teenagers at the time and are now elderly.
In 2004, he helped create the Yahad-In Unum, an organisation based in north-eastern Paris, which funds and supports his work. The words yahad and In unum mean “together” in Hebrew and Latin respectively. As the organisation’s name suggests, it strives to further mutual-understanding between Christians and Jews.
Fr Desbois spent time in Israel as a priest, speaks Hebrew and is now director of the French bishops’ committee for relations with Judaism. Fr Desbois’ 2008 book, The Holocaust by Bullets, won the National Jewish Book Award. You may follow the developments of Yahad-In Unum on its blog, http://yahadblog.weebly.com.
3. Fr David Beaumont
He started his mission by riding a donkey into the remote areas of northern Mexico and getting to know the four native tribes. Capuchin friar David Beaumont has spent the last 20 years as a missionary. It took Fr Beaumont four years to learn the languages of the tribes: the Pimas, the Guarijíos, the Yaquis, and the Mayos. He has since written four different catechisms in each tribal language and compiled dictionaries.
The biggest obstacle he faces is that his mission is based in one of the biggest drug-harvesting areas in the world. Growing cannabis and heroin is a lucrative, billion-dollar business, and the native people might live in shacks or mansions. A challenge is to promote the harvesting of crops such as corn and beans, so that the local people can become self-sufficient. Among the poor inhabitants alcoholism is rife. As a consequence, wife-beating is an attendant woe. Escaping their troubled home life, the native children flock to his side. He has started a soccer league for children and teenagers. Fr Beaumont has started programmes for treating alcoholism, and has acted as a spiritual father to thousands of families when the biological father was either absent or too inebriated. But Fr Beaumont is in the middle of starting a programme for men that will encourage them to take up the traditional tribal role as providers and protectors.
Much of his hard work came to fruition in March 2010, with the inception of the Beaumont Foundation, which is named in his honour. It has a particular aim in giving immediate aid to the poverty-stricken people of the lower Pima Region.
4. Sister Mary Scullion
Time magazine has on three occasions hailed Sister Mary Scullion as one of the “100 Most Influential”. In 2009 Philadelphia’s Sister Mary, the daughter of Irish immigrants, was nominated for this honour by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the bestseller Eat, Pray, Love.
Sister Mary started as a teacher, but discovered that her true vocation was caring for the homeless when she helped to open Mercy Hospice in 1976, a shelter for women and children. She co-founded Woman of Hope in 1985, an organisation that provides permanent residences for homeless, mentally ill women. In 1989 she co-founded Project HOME, with Joan Mc Connon, and is now the executive director. Today, the organisation is credited with halving the number of people living on the street.
Due to her tireless efforts Philadelphia continues to have one of the lowest rates of homelessness in America. An average of 95 per cent of people who come to HOME never return to life on the streets. The acronym stands for what they offer the homeless: Housing, Opportunities for employment, Medical care and Education. Musician Jon Bon Jovi was so impressed that he sought to collaborate with Sister Mary, whom he now calls his mentor. His organisation, Soul Foundation, has collaborated with the HOME project, and has an ongoing project of providing housing for homeless women in north Philadelphia, the Bon Jovi Homes. Known for her earthy sense of humour and humility, Sr Mary crossly protests being called “Philadelphia’s saint”.
On May 22 this year she received the Laetare Medal, American Catholicism’s most prestigious award.
5. Michel Ozorak
Canadian Michel Ozorak was recently awarded the Golden Rose by the Friars Minor of Chicago for making Gregorian Chant sheets accessible to the whole world. Ozorak was a protégé of Philip Adamson, professor of music at the University of Windsor, Ontario.
For over four years, Ozorak has used a software programme called Grégoire to compile online sets of Gregorian Chant sheets to assist priests, deacons, and subdeacons with chanting the Mass.
Nothing like this has been available before. Several books provide the tones for chanting, but one needs to be expert in Gregorian Chant to use them.
The Priestly Fraternity of St Peter was the first to put Ozorak’s chant sheets of the Epistles and Tonus Antíquior Gospels on its website.
The website for the Assumption of Our Lady Church in Windsor houses the St Athanasius Chant Sheets which include the Collect, Epistle, Gospel and Postcommunion of the Extraordinary Form Mass. You may access them here; Windsorlatinmass.org/
latin/chant.htm
.
Two versions of the Collects and Postcommunions are available, in the Tonus Festívus and Tonus Solémnis. Three versions of the Gospels are available, in the Tonus Antíquior, Tonus Ad Líbitum and Tonus Evangélii.
Ozorak’s painstaking work will enjoy greater attention in the wake of Universae Ecclesia, the recently published Instruction on the application of Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.
6. Seth Williams
In January Seth Williams became the first African-American District Attorney in Philadelphia. The 44-year-old has had a glittering legal career, having previously served as Assistant District Attorney. He is married with three daughters, and is a committed Catholic who has served on the boards of Catholic community organisations, including St Cyprian Catholic church, Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and the St Martin de Porres Foundation.
Williams hit the headlines in America and elsewhere when this February he held the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to account for clerical abuse. The grand jury in Philadelphia charged two priests, one defrocked priest and a teacher with rape, and controversially found another priest guilty of imperilling children through complacent priest transfers. The report presented in court said that 37 suspected abusers remained on duty. Since February, 26 priests named in the grand jury report have been placed on leave, while complaints against them are being reviewed.
Williams has said that he has seen other Catholic parents become fearful of bringing their children into the Church, and wants to correct the image of the Church as a place where sexual abuse is tolerated. But despite his thorough knowledge of the sins of some priests, Williams remains a steadfast Catholic. In his office there is a crucifix on a side table, and a photo of his time as an altar server. He says: “I love my Church, but I detest the criminal behaviour of priests who abuse.”
He is a member of “the cardinal’s cabinet”, a group of Catholics who advise Philadelphia’s Cardinal Justin Rigali.
7. Fr Rick Frechette
Fr Rick Frechette was ordained a Passionist priest in 1979, and has worked with orphans in Mexico and Honduras. In the 1980s Fr Frechette came to Haiti as a priest. He then started training to be a doctor, but simultaneously worked in the Haitian slums whenever he wasn’t studying. He qualified as a doctor in 1998, and is now director of medical services for Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos International (“Our Little Brothers and Sisters”), and oversees the medical needs of children in nine countries. He is gentle but outgoing and bears a resemblance to George Clooney.
Stationed in Port-au-Prince in Haiti, Fr Frechette is only 58, but says he is considered an old man because the life expectancy is around 46. The conditions are deplorable, with little water, no electricity and few medical supplies.
Fr Frechette has established medical clinics, the St Hélène orphanage, which has over 450 children, street schools and a 12- bed paediatric hospital. He arranges for critically ill children to be airlifted out of the area and taken to Italy or the US for urgent medical attention.
But Fr Frechette is also like a modern day Tobit of the Old Testament. He gives particular attention to burying the dead, organising funeral services for unknown people who were killed by gangs or found dead along the wayside.
8. Fr Shay Cullen
Fr Shay Cullen, 68, a missionary priest from Dublin, has been nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize. For 42 years Fr Cullen has worked to protect the rights of women and children in the Philippines.
In 1974 he founded the Preda Foundation (People’s Recovery Empowerment and Development Assistance Foundation) in Olongapo City. Their aim is to change the social conditions that facilitate abuse of women and children. Preda has developed 12 central projects that include rescuing children from brothels, legal services for the abused and an internet safety campaign.
Presently they are planning a home for street children.
In recent months Fr Cullen has said he may “name and shame” certain hotel chains, especially in Thailand, which traffic children. The hotels ignored Fr Shay when he offered to give child protection seminars to hotel management; so Preda is looking into posting clips of these hotels in Asia that proffer young adolescents to tourists. Fr Shay has fought for a new code of conduct for travel agencies, where they will agree to only send their customers to countries that have “clean” tourism, and not to include resorts or hotels where child sex tourism has been uncovered.
9. Kevin Vost
Illinois’s Dr Kevin Vost was a cradle Catholic but became an atheist in his late teens. Twenty-five years later he returned to the Church. In his early forties, a turning came when he encountered the first-hand writings of St Thomas Aquinas, and steeped himself in Summa Theologica, finding that “true Christian faith complements and perfects reason”.
Since his return to the Church in 2004 he has written books, appeared on television and given talks about how he learned the follies of atheism and returned to Mother Church. He explains that during his decades away from the Church he could have used his efforts in earning a doctorate in psychology, working as a journalist for weightlifting magazines, and as a Research Review Committee Member for American Mensa, for the greater glory of God. But in such books as From Atheism to Catholicism (2010), and his online writings, Vost meticulously picks apart the claims of Nietzsche, Ayn Rand and Albert Ellis.
Vost has another very original, innovative project in that he is using his expertise in fitness and weight training to write about physical and spiritual “fitness”, in Fit for Eternal Life (2008). He is further developing this theme, with a new book Tending the Temple, to be published next Autumn.  
10. Mother Elvira
This July will be 28 years since Mother Elvira founded Cenacolo. In that short time, 60 houses have been set up, in Mother Elvira’s home country of Italy and around the world, including Ireland and Britain. The houses are never government-funded and rely on donations. Cenacolo is the Italian for Cenacle and in each house there is perpetual Eucharistic Adoration. Sr Elvira devised a program that has so far helped thousands of young people to overcome addictions. No one pays anything for living in the community. Every newcomer is given a “guardian angel”, a former addict who guides them through their cravings.
The foundation of each Cenacolo house is prayer, hard work and friendship. Depending on where a Cenacolo house is based, the work may be caring for animals or growing crops. They may also learn the basics of carpentry or plumbing. There is no time limit, and people from every religious belief are welcome.
Mother Elvira prefers to locate a house near a shrine or a monastery devoted to Our Lady, so that they may readily seek her protection. Rather than praise her own efforts for Cenacolo’s success in reforming addicts, Mother Elvira thanks the graces that flow from the celebration of Holy Mass and Adoration in the houses. In 2009 the Vatican recognised Cenacolo as an Association of Christ’s Faithful.
Thank you to everyone who got in touch with me and recommended great Catholics when I was researching. A big thanks also the to amazing Catholics who were so patient with the many e-mails that I sent them.
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