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Wednesday, 18 November 2015

'ADVENT' by Caryll Houselander

                                                        'Annunciation' by El Greco

Caryll Houselander,  (1901 - 1954) was an English lay Roman Catholic ecclesiastical artist, mystic, popular religious writer and poet. 'The Reed of God' was one of many books she wrote, and in this she included the following article on Advent.I find her views deeply spiritual but always practical, simple but profound.

                                                                        Caryll Houselander

'ADVENT'  by Caryll Houselander

Advent is the season of the seed:  Christ loved this symbol of the seed.

The seed he said, is the word of God sown in the human heart.

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed.”

“So is the Kingdom of God as if a man should cast seed into the earth.”

Even His own life blood:  “Unless the seed falling into the earth die, how shall the earth be sown?”

The Advent, the seed of the world’s life, was hidden in Our Lady.

Like the wheat seed in the earth, the seed of the Bread of Life was in her.

Like the golden harvest in the darkness of the earth, the Glory of God was shrined in her darkness.

Advent is the season of the secret, the secret of the growth of Christ, of Divine Love growing in silence.

It is the season of humility, silence, and growth.

For nine months Christ grew in His Mother’s body. By His own will she formed Him from herself, from the simplicity of her daily life.

She had nothing to give Him but herself.

He asked for nothing else.

Working, eating, sleeping, she was forming His body from hers. His flesh and blood.  From her humanity she gave Him His humanity,

Walking in the streets of Nazareth to do her shopping, to visit her friends, she set His feet on the path of Jerusalem.

Washing, weaving, kneading, sweeping, her hands prepared His hands for the nails.

Every beat of her heart gave Him His heart to love with, His heart to be broken by love.

All her experience of the world about her was gathered to Christ growing in her.

Looking upon the flowers, she gave Him human sight.  Talking with her neighbours she gave Him a human voice. The voice we still hear in the silence of souls saying: “Consider the lilies of the field.”

                           'Our Lady of the Magnificat' by Sandro Botticelli

Sleeping in her still room she gave Him the sleep of the child in the cradle, the sleep of the young man rocked in the storm-tossed boat.

Breaking and eating the bread, drinking the wine of the country, she gave Him His flesh and blood; she prepared the Host for the Mass.

This time of Advent is absolutely essential to our contemplation too.

If we have truly given our humanity to be changed into Christ, it is essential to us that we do not disturb this time of growth.

It is a time of darkness, of faith. We shall not see Christ’s radiance in our lives yet; it is still hidden in our darkness; nevertheless, we must believe that He is growing in our lives; we must believe it so firmly that we cannot help relating everything, literally everything, to this almost incredible reality.

This attitude it is which makes every moment of every day and night a prayer.

In itself it is a purification, but without the tense resolution and anxiety of self-conscious aim.

How could it be possible that anyone who was conscious that Christ desired to see the world with his eyes would look willingly on anything evil? Or knowing that He wished to work with his hands, do any work that was shoddy, any work that was not as near perfection as human nature can achieve?

Who, knowing that his ears must listen for Christ, could listen to blasphemy or to the dreary dirtiness of so much of our conversation, or could fail to listen to the voice of a world like ours with compassion?

Above all, who, knowing that Christ asked for his heart to love with, for his heart to bear the burden of the love of God, could fail to discover that in every pulsation of his own life there is prayer?

This Advent awareness does not lead to a selfish preoccupation with self; it does not exclude outgoing love to others – far from it. It leads to them inevitably, but it prevents such acts and words of love from becoming distractions. It makes the very doing of them reminders of the presence of Christ in us.

It is through them that we can preserve the secrecy of Advent without failing to offer the loveliness of Christ in us to others.

           Everyone knows how terrible it is to come into contact with those people who have an undisciplined missionary urge, who, having received some grace, are continually trying to force the same grace on others, to compel them not only to be converted but to be converted in the same way and with precisely the same results as themselves.

            Such people seem to wish to dictate to the Holy Ghost. God is to inspire their neighbour to see things just as they do, to join the same societies, to plunge into the same activities. They go about like the scriptural monster, seeking whom they may devour. They insist that their victims have obvious vocations to assist in, or even to be completely sacrificed to, their own interests. Very often they unwittingly tear out the tender little shoot of Christ-life that was pushing up against the dark, heavy clay, and when the poor victim has been devoured, he is handed over, spiritless and broken, as a pre-digested morsel for the next one-hundred-per-cent zealot who comes along.

            Our Lady’s example is very different to this.

            When a woman is carrying a child, she develops a certain instinct of self-defence. It is not selfishness; it is not egoism. It is an absorption into the life within, a folding of self like a little tent around the child’s frailty, a God-like instinct to cherish, and some day to bring forth, the life. A closing upon it like the petals of a flower closing upon the dew that shines in its heart.

            This is precisely the attitude we must have to Christ, the Life within us, in the Advent of our contemplation.

            We could scrub the floor for a tired friend, or dress a wound for a patient in a hospital, or lay the table and wash up for the family; but we shall not do it in a martyr spirit or with that worse spirit of self-congratulation, of feeling that we are making ourselves more perfect, more unselfish, more positively kind.

            We shall do it just for one thing, that our hands make Christ’s hands in our life, that our service may let Christ serve through us, that our patience may bring Christ’s patience back to the world.

            By His own will Christ was dependent on Mary during Advent; He was absolutely helpless; He could go nowhere but where she chose to take Him; He could not speak; Her breathing was His breath; His heart beat in the beating of her heart.

            Today Christ is dependent upon men. In the Host, He is literally put into a man’s hands. A man must carry Him to the dying, must take Him to the prisons, workhouses, and hospitals, must carry Him in a tiny pyx over the heart onto the field of battle, must give Him to little children and ‘lay Him by” in His ‘leaflight’ house of gold.

            The modern world’s feverish struggle for unbridled, often unlicensed freedom, is answered by the bound, enclosed helplessness and dependence of Christ – Christ in the womb, Christ in the Host, Christ in the tomb.

            This dependence of Christ lays a great trust upon us. During this tender time of Advent we must carry Him in our hearts to wherever He wants to go, and there are many places to which He may never go unless we take Him to them.

            None of us know when the loveliest hour of our life is striking. It may be when we take Christ for the first time to that grey office in the city where we work, to the wretched lodging of that poor man who is an outcast, to the nursery of that pampered child, to the battleship, airfield, or camp.


                                                            Blessed Charles de Foucauld

 Charles de Foucauld, a young French soldier of our own day, became a priest and a hermit in the desert, where he was murdered by some of the Arabs whom he had come to serve. His life as a missionary hermit seemed no more than a quixotic spiritual adventure, a tilting at windmills, on the desert sands, but he knew and said that it was worth while for just one thing; because he was there, the Sacred Host was there.

            It mattered nothing if the heroic priest could not utter the wonder that was in his heart; the Blessed Sacrament was there in the desert; Christ was there, silent, helpless, dependent on a creature; that which His servant could not utter in words, Christ would utter, in His own time, in silence.

            Sometimes it may seem to us that there is no purpose in our lives, that going day after day for years to this office or that school or factory is nothing else but waste and weariness.  But it may be that God has sent us there because but for us Christ would not be there. If our being there means that Christ is there, that alone makes it worth while.

                                                    'Visitation' by Frans Francken II
There is one exquisite incident in Our Lady’s Advent in which this is clearly seen: the Visitation.

            “And Mary rising up in those days went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda.”

            How lyrical that is, the opening sentence of St Luke’s description of the Visitation. We can feel the rush of warmth and kindness, the sudden urgency of love that sent that girl hurrying over the hills. “Those days” in which she rose on that impulse were the days in which Christ was being formed in her, the impulse was His impulse.

            Many women, if they were expecting a child, would refuse to hurry over the hills on a visit of pure kindness. They would say they had a duty to themselves and to their unborn child which came before anything or anyone else.

            The Mother of God considered no such thing. Elizabeth was going to have a child, too, and although Mary’s own child was God, she could not forget Elizabeth’s need – almost incredible to us, but characteristic of her.

            She greeted her cousin Elizabeth, and at the sound of her voice, John quickened in his mother’s womb and leapt for joy.

            “I am come” said Christ, “that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly.” Even before He was born His presence gave life.

            With what piercing shoots of joy does this story of Christ unfold! First the conception of a child in a child’s heart, and then this first salutation, an infant leaping for joy in his mother’s womb, knowing the hidden Christ and leaping into life.

            How did Elizabeth herself know what had happened to Our Lady? What made her realise that this little cousin who was so familiar to her, was the mother of her God?

            She knew it by the child within herself, by the quickening into life which was a leap of joy.


                                                               'El buen Pastor' by Murillo

If we practise this contemplation taught and shown to us by Our Lady, we will find that our experience is like hers.

            If Christ is growing in us, if we are at peace, recollected, because we know that however insignificant our life seems to be, from it He is forming Himself; if we go with eager wills, “in haste”, to wherever our circumstances compel us, because we believe that He desires to be in that place, we shall find that we are driven more and more to act on the impulse of His love.

            And the answer we shall get from others to those impulses will be an awakening into life, or the leap into joy of the already wakened life within them.

            It is not necessary at this stage of our contemplation to speak to others of the mystery of life growing in us. It is only necessary to give ourselves to that life, all that we are, to pray without ceasing, not by a continual effort to concentrate our minds but by a growing awareness that Christ is being formed in our lives from what we are. We must trust Him for this, because it is not a time to see His face, we must possess Him secretly and in darkness, as the earth possesses the seed. We must not try to force Christ’s growth in us, but with a deep gratitude for the light burning secretly in our darkness, we must fold our concentrated love upon Him like earth, surrounding, holding, and nourishing the seed.

We must be swift to obey the winged impulses of His Love, carrying Him to wherever He longs to be; and those who recognise His presence will be stirred, like Elizabeth, with new life. They will know His presence, not by any special beauty of power shown by us, but in the way that the bud knows the presence of the light, by an unfolding in themselves, a putting forth of their own beauty.


                                               'The Road to Emmaus'  by Altobello Melone

 It seems that this is Christ’s favourite way of being  recognised, that he prefers to be known, not by His own human features, but by the quickening of His own life in the heart, which is the response to His coming.

When John recognised Him, He was hidden in His mother’s womb. After the Resurrection He was known, not by His familiar features, but by the love in Magdalene’s heart, the fire in the heart of the travellers to Emmaus, and the wound in His own heart handled by Thomas.

"Whoever would become a saint, must during this life resemble the lily among thorns, which, however much it may be pricked by them, never ceases to be a lily; that is, it is always equally sweet and serene. The soul that loves God maintains an imperturbable peace of heart."     
                                  ack. Thoughts from St Alphonsus.

e was hidden in His mother’s wombimHim

Monday, 5 October 2015

The Desert Fathers - 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven'.

               In these agitated days I think it time for another extract from 'The Desert Fathers', translated from the Latin by Helen Waddell. 

             "That part of the 'Historia Monachorum' dealing with the 'History of the Monks of Egypt', translated originally by Rufinus in Greek, was the story of a pilgrimage made through Egypt in AD 394, by a brother, possibly Timotheus, from Rufinus' own monastery on the Mount of Olives. He himself had made the same journey twenty years earlier, and Jerome had no doubts that 'translation' or not, Rufinus himself was responsible for the authorship, allowing his imagination a certain licence". Be that as it may, these stories - certainly founded on truth, convey a spirit of humility, simplicity, and trust in God, truly 'therapeutic' in our confused and materialistic world.

'We saw also the cell of the holy Paphnutius, the man of God, that was the most famous of all the anchorites in these parts, and that had lived the most remote inhabitant of the desert round about Heracleos, that shining city of the Thebaid.'

                        St Paphnutius of Thebes - etching 16/17th c.

                 Of him we had a most warrantable account from the Fathers, how at one time, after living an angelic life, he had prayed to God that He would show him which of the saints he was thought to be like. And an angel stood by him and answered that he was like a certain singing man, that earned his bread by singing in the village. Dumbfounded at the strangeness of the answer, he made his way with all haste to the village, and sought for the man. And when he had found him, he questioned him closely as to what works of piety and religion he had ever done, and narrowly enquired into all his deeds. But the man answered that the truth was that he was a sinful man of degraded life, and that not long before, from being a robber he had sunk to the squalid craft which he was now seen to exercise.

                                            Musicians - Simone Martini (14th c)

           But for this Paphnutius was the more insistent, asking if perchance some good thing might have cropped up amidst his thieving."I can think of nothing good about me,” said he: “but this I know, that once when I was among the robbers we captured a virgin consecrated to God: and when the rest of my company were for deflowering her, I threw myself in the midst and snatched her from their staining, and brought her by night as far as the town, and restored her untouched to her house. 
           Another time too, I found a comely woman wandering in the desert. And when I asked her why and how she had come into these parts, ‘Ask me nothing,’ said she, ‘nor question me for reasons, that am the wretchedest of women, but if it pleases thee to have a handmaid, take me where thou wilt. I have a husband that for arrears of tax hath often been hung up and scourged, and is kept in prison and tortured, nor ever brought out unless to suffer torment.We had three sons also that were taken for the same debt. And because they seek me also to suffer the same pains, I flee in my misery from place to place, worn out with grief and hunger, and I have been in hiding, wandering through these parts, and for three days have had no food.’
            And when I heard this, I had pity for her, and took her to the cave and restored her soul that was faint with hunger and gave her the three hundred solidi for which she and her husband and their three sons were liable, she said, not only to slavery but to torture; and she returned to the city and paid the money and freed them all.” 

            Then said Paphnutius, “I have done naught like that, yet I think it may have come to thine ears that the name of Paphnutius is famous among the monks. For it was with no small pains that I sought to fashion my life in this kind of discipline. Wherefore God has shown me this concerning thee, that thou hast no less merit before Him than I. And so, brother, seeing that thou hast not the lowest room with God, neglect not thy soul.” 
          And straightway he flung away the pipes that he carried in his hand, and followed him to the desert, and transforming his skill in music into a spiritual harmony of life and mind, he gave himself for three whole years to the strictest abstinence, busying himself day and night in psalms and prayer, and taking the heavenly road with the powers of the soul, gave up his spirit amid the angelic host  of the saints.

                                                Crucifixion - Parri Spinelli (c 1445) 

……… And again Paphnutius entreated the Lord that He would show him his like upon earth. And again the voice of the Lord came to him saying, “Know that thou art like the headman of the village close by.” And on hearing this, Paphnutius made haste to go to him, and knocked at the door of his house. And he, whose habit it was to entertain strangers, ran to meet him and brought him into his house and bathed his feet and set a table before him and made a feast. And as they feasted, Paphnutius began to question his host as to his doings, what was his desire, and what his exercises in good living. But he spoke humbly of himself, liking better to hide in his good deeds than be made a talk of, and Paphnutius urged him,  saying that it had been revealed to him by the Lord that he was worthy of the monastic fellowship. 
                   But at that he thought still more humbly of himself, and he said, indeed I know of no good in aught that is in me: but because God’s word has been said to thee, I can conceal naught from Him to whom nothing is hidden. So then I shall speak of those things that I am wont to do, set as I am in the midst of many men. It is now thirty years since a bond of continence was agreed between me and my wife and no man knows of it. I have had by her, three sons: for them only have I known my wife, nor have I known any other but her, nor herself now at all. I have never ceased to entertain  strangers and in such fashion that I let no one go to meet the coming guest before myself. I have never sent a guest from my house without provision for his journey: I have despised no man that was poor, but have supplied him with what things he needed. If I sat in judgement, I have not respected 
the person of my own son, in detriment of justice. 

        'Christ in the house of Simon the Pharisee' by Philippe de Champaigne (c.1656)

           The fruit of another man’s toil has never come into my house. If I saw a quarrel, I have never passed by till I brought them that were at odds to peace. No one ever caught my servants in a fault: never have my herbs injured another man’s crops: never did I forbid any man to sow in my fields, nor did I choose the richer fallow for myself, and leave the more barren to another. As much as in me lay, I never suffered the stronger to oppress the weak. Ever in my life I sought that no one should be sad because of me. If I were judge in a suit, I condemned no one, but sought to bring the dissidents to peace. And this, as God gave it, has been my way of living until now.”
            And hearing him, the blessed Paphnutius kissed his head and blessed him saying, "The Lord bless thee out of Zion and mayst thou behold the good things that are in Jerusalem. But as thou hast well and wisely performed all these, one thing thou lackest, which is the  highest of all good, that leaving all, thou should'st follow the very wisdom of God, and seek the more hidden treasure, whereto thou mayst not come unless thou deny thyself and take up thy cross, and follow Christ.”

                        Annunciation (detail) - Jacopo Pontormo (c1527)

              And when he had heard this, he delayed for naught, nor sought to set his house in order, but followed the man of God taking the road to the desert ……And when some time had gone by, and he had been led to that perfection of  knowledge who was already made perfect in deed, on a certain day Paphnutius sitting in his cell saw his soul taken up into heaven amid a host of angels that were saying, “Blessed is the man whom Thou choosest and causest to approach unto Thee: he shall abide in Thy tabernacle.”
          And hearing this, he knew that the man had been taken from this world. But Paphnutius persisted in fasting and prayer, reaching out to things greater and more perfect.

          ............ And again he prayed to God, that He would show him his fellow among men. And again a divine voice answered him saying: “Thou art like this merchant, whom thou shalt see coming towards thee: but rise up quickly and run to meet him, for the man who is thy fellow is nigh.” And going down without delay Paphnutius met a certain merchant of Alexandria, that was bringing goods worth twenty thousand pieces of gold in three ships from the Thebaid. And being a religious man and zealous after good, he had laden his young men with ten sacks of vegetables, and was bringing them to the monastery of the man of God: and this was the reason for his coming to Paphnutius. And straightway as he saw him , “What dost thou,” he said, “O soul most precious, and worthy of God?

   'St Augustine of Hippo' by Philippe de Champaigne (1645-50)    "You never go away from us, yet we have difficulty in returning to You. Come, Lord, stir us up and call us back. Kindle and seize us. Be our fire and our sweetness. Let us love. Let us run.” ― Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

                      What toil is this with things of earth, when thy lot and fellowship are in heaven? Leave these to such as are of earth, and think of earth; but do thou be a tradesman of the Kingdom of God, to which thou art called, and follow the Saviour, who will soon hereafter take thee to Himself.” 
                    And he with no least hesitation bade his young men give all that remained of his goods to the poor (for he had already himself given much away). And following the holy Paphnutius to the desert, he was set by him in that place from which his predecessors had been taken up to God. And in like fashion, instructed by him in all things, he abode in the exercises of the spirit and in studies of the divine wisdom, and in a little while, he also was translated to the assembly of the just.

                     And not long after, whilst Paphnutius himself was ordering his life in these same exercises of supreme  austerity and travail, the angel stood by him, saying to him .”Come thou blessed, and enter those everlasting mansions that are prepared for thee. For behold the Prophets are at hand who shall receive thee into their company. This at first I did not reveal to thee lest perchance thou shouldst be puffed up and thy labour be lost.”

                                                 'St Jerome'- Lionello Spada (c1610)

                        And after these things, for one day he lived his life in the body, and when certain priests came to visit him, he made known to them all that the Lord had revealed to him, saying to them that no one in this world ought to be despised, let him be a thief, or an actor on the stage, or one that tilled the ground, and was bound to a wife, or was a merchant and served a trade; for in every condition of human life there are souls that please God and have their hidden deeds wherein He takes delight: whence is it plain that it is not so much profession or habit that is pleasing to God, as the sincerity and affection of the soul and honesty of deed. And when he had spoken thus about each in turn, he gave up his spirit.'

                       St Anthony the Abbot and St Paul the first hermit
 'He had reached the age of one hundred and thirteen years when Anthony, then ninety years old, came to visit him. Paul received him warmly. After they had spent the night in conversing about holy things, Paul said that his death was at hand and asked Anthony to go and get the cloak given him by Athanasius to use as a winding sheet. Anthony went to do this and, as he was on his way back he saw Paul’s soul going up to heaven. His body he found in his cell, still in the attitude of prayer. When he had chanted the customary hymns, he wrapped the body in the cloak, but had nothing to dig a grave with. Thereupon two lions came from deep in the desert and hollowed out a place large enough to hold a men’s body. Anthony buried the body arranged the grave and went away taking with him the tunic which Paul had woven for himself from palm-leaves. Thereafter he always wore this cloak on the great feasts of Easter and Pentecost.' 1914 Catholic Encyclopedia
  "There is no devotion so generally practised by the faithful of all classes as that of the Rosary.  The immense good that this noble devotion has done to the world is well known. How many, by its means, have been delivered from sin! how many led to a holy life! how many to a good death and to heaven!"
ack. 'Thoughts from St. Alphonsus'.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Time for a Smile - Courtesy of W.S.Gilbert

Time, I think, for a smile, and what better than a look at 'Bab Ballads', a collection of light verse, written by W.S.Gilbert, and illustrated with his own comic drawings, prior to his professional association with Arthur Sullivan.  In writing these, Gilbert developed his unique "topsy-turvy" style, where the humour was derived by setting up a ridiculous premise and working out its logical consequences, however absurd. The Ballads also reveal Gilbert's cynical and satirical approach to humour. They became famous in their own right, as well as being a source for plot elements, characters and songs often recycled later in the Gilbert and Sullivan operas.  The Ballads were read aloud at private dinner-parties, public banquets and even in the House of Lords.  (Wikipedia)
From 'Fifty Bab Ballads' published in 1884 by George Routledge & Sons, I have taken two which I hope you will enjoy, namely 'Annie Protheroe - a legend of Stratford-le-Bow';  and 'My Dream', both of which were performed as short operettas. 

Annie Protheroe    -   a legend of Stratford-le-Bow  (1868)

Oh! Listen to the tale of little Annie Protheroe.
She kept a small post-office in the neighbourhood of Bow;
She loved a skilled mechanic, who was famous in his day –
A gentle executioner whose name was Gilbert Clay.

I think I hear you say, “A dreadful subject for your rhymes!”
O reader, do not shrink – he didn’t live in modern times!
He lived so long ago (the sketch will show it at a glance)
That all his actions glitter with the lime-light of Romance.

In busy times he laboured at his gentle craft all day –
“No doubt you mean his Cal-craft,” you amusingly will say –
But, no – he didn’t operate with common bits of string,
He was a Public Headsman, which is quite another thing.

And when his work was over, they would ramble o’er the lea,
And sit beneath the frondage of an elderberry tree,
And Annie’s simple prattle entertained him on his walk,
For public executions formed the subject of her talk.

And sometimes he’d explain to her, which charmed her very much,
How famous operators vary very much in touch,
And then, perhaps, he’d show how he himself performed the trick,
And illustrate his meaning with a poppy and a stick.

Or, if it rained, the little maid would stop at home, and look
At his favourable notices, all posted in a book,
And then her cheek would flush – her swimming eyes would dance with joy
In a glow of admiration at the prowess of her boy.

One summer eve, at supper time, the gentle Gilbert said
(As he helped his pretty Annie to a slice of collared head),
“This reminds me I must settle on the next ensuing day
The hash of that unmitigated villain, Peter Gray.”

He saw his Annie tremble and he saw his Annie start,
Her changing colour trumpeted the flutter at her heart;
Young Gilbert’s manly bosom rose and sank with jealous fear,
And he said, “O gentle Annie, what’s the meaning of this here?”

And Annie answered, blushing in an interesting way,
“You think, no doubt, I’m sighing for that felon Peter Gray:
That I was his young woman is unquestionably true,
But not since I began a-keeping company with you.”

Then Gilbert, who was irritable, rose and loudly swore
He’d know the reason why, if she refused to tell him more;
And she answered (all the woman in her flashing from her eyes),
“You mustn’t ask no questions, and you won’t be told no lies!

“Few lovers have the privilege enjoyed, my dear, by you,
Of chopping off a rival’s head and quartering him too!
Of vengeance, dear, tomorrow you will surely take your fill!”
And Gilbert ground his molars as he answered her, “I will!”

Young Gilbert rose from table with a stern determined look,
And, frowning, took an inexpensive hatchet from its hook;
And Annie watched his movements with an interested air –
For the morrow – for the morrow he was going to prepare!

He chipped it with a hammer and he chopped it with a bill,
He poured sulphuric acid on the edge of it, until
This terrible Avenger of the Majesty of Law
Was far less like a hatchet than a dissipated saw.

And Annie said, “O Gilbert, dear, I do not understand
Why ever you are injuring that hatchet in your hand?”
He said, “It is intended for to lacerate and flay
The neck of that unmitigated villain, Peter Gray!”

“Now, Gilbert,” Annie answered, “wicked headsman, just beware –
I won’t have Peter tortured with that horrible affair;
If you appear with that, you may depend you’ll rue the day.”
But Gilbert said, “Oh, shall I?” which was just his nasty way.

He saw a look of anger from her eyes distinctly dart,
For Annie was a woman, and had pity in her heart!
She wished him a good evening – he answered with a glare;
She only said, “Remember, for your Annie will be there!”

                                                     * * * *

The morrow Gilbert boldly on the scaffold took his stand,
With a vizor on his face and with a hatchet in his hand,
And all the people noticed that the Engine of the Law
Was far less like a hatchet than a dissipated saw.

The felon very coolly loosed his collar and his stock,
And placed his wicked head upon the handy little block.
The hatchet was uplifted for to settle Peter Gray,
When Gilbert plainly heard a woman’s voice exclaiming, “Stay!”

T’was Annie, gentle Annie, as you’ll easily believe.
“O Gilbert, you must spare him, for I bring him a reprieve,
It came from our Home Secretary many weeks ago,
And passed through that post-office which I used to keep at Bow.

“I loved you, loved you madly, and you know it, Gilbert Clay,
And as I’d quite surrendered all idea of Peter Gray,
I quietly suppressed it, as you’ll clearly understand,
For I thought it might be awkward if he came and claimed my hand.

“In anger at my secret (which I could not tell before),
To lacerate poor Peter Gray vindictively you swore;
I told you if you used that blunted axe you’d rue the day,
And so you will, young Gilbert, for I’ll marry Peter Gray!”
                                                                                 [ And so she did. 

NB. Cal-craft (v3) --- William Calcraft (1800 - 1879), English Hangman  for 45 years, performing 450 executions. Of dubious fame.                                                                


My Dream  (1870)

The other night, from Care exempt,
I slept – and what d’you think I dreamt?
I dreamt that somehow I had come
To dwell in Topsy-Turveydom –

Where vice is virtue – virtue, vice;
Where nice is nasty – nasty, nice;
Where right is wrong and wrong is right –
Where white is black and black is white.

Where babies, much to their surprise,
Are born astonishingly wise;
With every Science on their lips,
And Art at all their finger-tips.

For, as their nurses dandle them
They crow binomial theorem,
With views (it seems absurd to us)
On differential calculus.

But though a babe, as I have said,
Is born with learning in his head,
He must forget it, if he can,
Before he calls himself a man.

For that which we call folly here,
Is wisdom in that favoured sphere;
The wisdom we so highly prize
Is blatant folly in their eyes.

A boy, if he would push his way,
Must learn some nonsense every day;
And cut, to carry out this view,
His wisdom teeth and wisdom too.

Historians burn their midnight oils,
Intent on giant-killer’s toils;
And sages close their aged eyes
To other sages’ lullabies.

Our magistrates, in duty bound,
Commit all robbers who are found;
But there the Beaks (so people said)
Commit all robberies instead.

Our Judges, pure and wise in tone,
Know crime from theory alone,
And glean the motives of a thief
From books and popular belief.

But there, a Judge who wants to prime
His mind with true ideas of crime,
Derives them from the common sense
Of practical experience.

Policemen march all folks away
Who practise virtue every day –
Of course, I mean to say, you know,
What we call virtue here below.

For only scoundrels dare to do
What we consider just and true,
And only good men do, in fact,
What we should think a dirty act.

But strangest of these social twirls,
The girls are boys – the boys are girls!
The men are women, too – but then,
Per contra, women are all men.

To one who to tradition clings
This seems an awkward state of things,
But if to think it out you try,
It doesn’t really signify.

With them, as surely as can be,
A sailor should be sick at sea,
And not a passenger may sail
Who cannot smoke right through a gale.

A soldier (save by rarest luck)
Is always shot for showing pluck
(That is, if others can be found
With pluck enough to fire a round).

“How strange!” I said to one I saw;
“You quite upset our every law.
However can you get along
So systematically wrong?”

“Dear me!” my mad informant said,
“Have you no eyes within your head?
You sneer when you your hat should doff:
Why, we begin where you leave off!

Your wisest men are very far
Less learned than our babies are!”
I mused awhile – and then, oh me!
I framed this brilliant repartee:

“Although your babes are wiser far
Than our most valued sages are,
Your sages, with their toys and cots,
Are duller than our idiots!”

But this remark, I grieve to state,
Came just a little bit too late;
For as I framed it in my head,
I woke and found myself in bed.

Still I could wish that, ‘stead of here,
My lot were in that favoured sphere! –
Where greatest fools bear off the bell
I ought to do extremely well.      


To wisdom belongs the intellectual apprehension of things eternal; to knowledge, the rational apprehension of things temporal. (St. Augustine of Hippo)

Saturday, 1 August 2015

IPPF - harvester and trafficker in baby body parts

                             Unborn 16 week old baby in the womb

The current  scandal involving the International Planned Parenthood federation, whereby they have been exposed as  harvesting and selling body parts obtained from aborted babies, does not seem to me, to have received the media publicity in this country that you would expect, and certainly not as much  as it appears to have had in the USA .

I read only one national newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, not always comprehensively, and rely largely on the BBC news on the internet to keep me reasonably up-to-date with world events, but I do not remember seeing anything about this scandal. I may have missed it in the Telegraph, but I don’t think this was the case with the BBC.

The fact is that there is no reason to doubt that this same evil trade exists in the UK, for the International Planned Parenthood federation have their UK headquarters in London, and are the recipients of huge grants running into millions of pounds sterling, from the UK government, through the auspices of the DFID (Department for International Development).

The financial accounts of the IPP are available on their website, ‘ ‘

yet I cannot see listed the income from this lucrative trade in body parts. From a PR point of view, hardly surprising, nevertheless huge sums of money are involved, particularly bearing in mind the numbers of aborted babies in the USA and the UK.  Whilst trying to decipher these accounts, admittedly a daunting exercise, I see that in 2011 the gross salaries of individuals on the IPPF payroll amounted to $17,994,000, with the gross salaries of all persons paid by IPPF amounting to $24,193,000. The numbers of staff on full-time employment amounted to 286, with on a sliding scale, 40 shown as earning between $100,000   and $340,000.  Bearing in mind that in 2011 the organisation received a total of $89 million in world-wide government grants, plus $32 million from multilaterals and other income sources, IPPF is certainly big business and highly remunerative. There is a saying that ‘money is the root of all evil’, perhaps we need look no further than IPPF to bear this out.

 Several blog-sites, mainly Catholic, have had good posts condemning this evil, and one of the most damning indictments is that by Mary Anne  Kreitzer on the excellent website ‘Les Femmes the Truth’,  which with her permission I reproduce below.



You Think Selling Baby Body Parts is Something New? Think Again!

People have been absolutely shocked and horrified about Planned Parenthood's evil participation in "harvesting" and selling baby body parts.

It's nothing new, folks! Note the date on this article -- 1999. 

The killing and profiting is decades old -- which just goes to show that people need to SEE and HEAR the evil before they will wake up and react to the horror. And that is why General Dwight Eisenhower insisted that the German people go through the concentration camps and SEE what their silence and cooperation helped cause.
Read the article below and resolve NEVER to cooperate with evil by your silence and inaction. My comments are in red.

 See more at:

Body Parts for Sale - Fetal Harvesting

By Mona Charen - Nationally Syndicated Columnist

November 9, 1999
"Kelly" (a pseudonym) was a medical technician working for a firm that trafficked in baby body parts. This is not a bad joke. Nor is it the hysterical propaganda of an interest group. It was reported in The American Enterprise magazine -- the intelligent, thought-provoking and utterly trustworthy publication of the American Enterprise Institute.
The firm Kelly worked for collected fetuses from clinics that performed late-term abortions. The recently released Planned Parenthood videos are simply deja vu for what's been going on for decades!  
She would dissect the aborted fetuses in order to obtain "high-quality" parts for sale. They were interested in blood, eyes, livers, brains and thymuses, among other things. Exactly the same parts discussed by Dr.Deborah Nucatola. (Senior Director of Medical Services IPPF)
"What we did was to have a contract with an abortion clinic that would allow us to go there on certain days. We would get a generated list each day to tell us what tissue researchers, pharmaceutical companies and universities were looking for. Then we would examine the patient charts.
We only wanted the most perfect specimens."  

See more at:

That didn't turn out to be difficult. Of the hundreds of late-term fetuses Kelly saw on a weekly basis, only about 2 percent had abnormalities. About 30 to 40 babies per week were around 30 weeks old -- well past the point of viability.

Is this legal? Federal law makes it illegal to buy and sell human body parts. But there are loopholes in the law. Here's how one body parts company -- Opening Lines Inc founded in 1989. -- disguised the trade in a brochure for abortionists: "Turn your patient's decision into something wonderful."
For its buyers, Opening Lines offers "the highest quality, most affordable, freshest tissue prepared to your specifications and delivered in the quantities you need, when you need it." Does this all sound familiar?

Eyes and ears go for $75, and brains for $999. An "intact trunk" fetches $500, a whole liver $150. To evade the law's prohibition, body-parts dealers like Opening Lines offer to lease space in the abortion clinic to "perform the harvesting," as well as to "offset [the] clinic's overhead."

Opening Lines further boasted, "Our daily average case volume exceeds 1500 and we serve clinics across the United States."

Kelly kept at her grisly task until something made her reconsider. "One day, a set of twins at 24 weeks gestation was brought to us in a pan. They were both alive. The doctor came back and said, 'Got you some good specimens -- twins.'"

See more at:

I looked at him and said: "There's something wrong here. They are moving. I can't do this. This is not in my contract." I told him I would not be part of taking their lives. So he took a bottle of sterile water and poured it in the pan until the fluid came up over their mouths and noses, letting them drown. I left the room because I could not watch this."


But she did go back and dissect them later. The twins were only the beginning. "It happened again and again. At 16 weeks, all the way up to sometimes even 30 weeks, we had live births come back to us. Then the doctor would either break the neck or take a pair of tongs and beat the fetus until it was dead."
American Enterprise asked Kelly if abortion procedures were ever altered to provide specific body parts. "Yes. Before the procedures they would want to see the list of what we wanted to procure."  Remember how the doctor said they never did anything different with the women whose babies were going to end up being sold? Do you believe her?
The (abortionist) would get us the most complete, intact specimens that he could. They would be delivered to us completely intact. Sometimes the fetus appeared to be dead, but when we opened up the chest cavity, the heart was still beating."Read it and weep!
The magazine pressed Kelly again: Was the type of abortion ever altered to provide an intact specimen, even if it meant producing a live baby? "Yes, that was so we could sell better tissue. At the end of the year, they would give the clinic back more money because we got good specimens."  

See more at:

Some practical souls will probably swallow hard and insist that, well, if these babies are going to be aborted anyway, isn't it better that medical research should benefit? No. This isn't like voluntary organ donation.
This reduces human beings to the level of commodities. Just like Dr. Mengele did at Auschwitz. And it creates of doctors who swore an oath never to kill, the kind of people who can beat a breathing child to death with tongs.
More on this story . . .


U.S. House Votes to Hold Hearings on Trafficking of Baby Bodies and Organs:
On Tuesday, November 12, 1999, the U.S. House passed HR 350 on a voice vote. The resolution, offered by Representatives Tom Tancredo (R-CO), Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Joe Pitts, expresses a sense of the House of Representatives with respect to private companies involved in the trafficking of baby body parts for profit. It directs the Congress to exercise oversight responsibilities and conduct hearings and take appropriate steps if necessary, concerning private companies that are involved in the trafficking of baby body parts for profit.  

See more at:

When Bill Clinton took office in 1993, he overturned, by executive order, the ban on taxpayer funding of research involving the transplantation of organs and tissues obtained from aborted babies (fetal tissue) that had been instituted by the Bush administration. 

 On March 11, 1993, Congress codified Clinton’s executive order by passing HR-4, The National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act, by a vote of 283-121. 57 Republicans voted with 225 Democrats and 1 Independent for this law that allows for federal funding of research on the transplantation of human fetal tissue for therapeutic purposes.
The law prohibits any person to knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any human fetal tissue for valuable consideration if the transfer affects interstate commerce, but does not exclude reasonable payments associated with the transportation, implantation, processing, preservation, quality control or storage of human fetal tissue.

Information acquired by Life Dynamics of Denton, Texas reveals that at least 5 companies are in the business of procuring babies’ in-tact bodies, bones, blood, organs and tissues for profit. 
One company, Opening Lines of West Frankfurt, Ill, published a brochure in which they listed charges for various body parts including $999 for a brain, $500 for a trunk, and $325 for spinal cords. They claim they are within the letter of the 1993 law which allows for the above-mentioned reasonable payments.  

The hearings, which are to be scheduled by Congressman Tom Bliley (R-VA), chairman of the Commerce Committee, are expected in January when Congress returns from its recess. They will look into whether these tissue retrieval companies are violating the law.

What Life Dynamics has brought to light is the fact that there is an enormous and growing business of filling orders from researchers for intact, non-fragmented organs and tissues obtained from induced abortions. Evidence is mounting that some babies are aborted alive .

See more at:

Evidence is mounting that some babies are aborted alive and then dissected and killed so that researchers may receive the perfect specimens they desire. The research is being conducted in taxpayer-funded facilities such as the National Institutes of Health, public universities and medical schools and by private pharmaceutical companies. Many have long believed that this has become a major reason for the use of the partial-birth abortion technique.

While it is important to hold hearings on whether or not these companies are guilty of 'selling babies organs for profit', we urge our friends in the pro-life community to begin legislative action to prohibit the use of fetal tissue derived from induced abortions for research purposes. If a mother suffers a spontaneous abortion, or her baby is still-born and she wishes to donate her child’s body to science, that is a different matter and would be consistent with current practice in adult organ donation.

People are going to continue to find ways to make money from the sale of aborted babies’ body parts as long as it is legal to conduct research experiments on them. Whether funded privately or by the taxpayers, this practice must be stopped.

Will Members of Congress attempt to ban fetal tissue research on aborted babies? It's hard to tell because of the pressures that will be brought by high-powered lobbyists from the pharmaceutical industry and others. Some claim it would be a futile battle because Bill Clinton would veto a ban. 

See more at:

Who knows what will happen? As word gets out about these horrible practices, the public will become increasingly outraged. Congress has an obligation to try, win or lose, to do the right thing. Sometimes progress comes as much from the battle as the victory. We all know now what happens. NOTHING! Until people SEE and HEAR the evil first hand, they do nothing. Which is why Planned Parenthood is trying so hard to suppress the videos. People will not fight to stop abortion until they see it in all its grisly reality and realize this has NEVER been about women's rights. It's ALWAYS been about the bottom line. 

If your Congressman/Congresswoman holds a town hall meeting, please take that opportunity to present this information to the gathering, Ask him/her publicly to support the hearings and to demand an end to research on tissue obtained from induced abortions.
For a 15 minute videotape of the testimony of a woman who has been engaged in the fetal tissue retrieval business, and for other information and literature, contact:

Life Dynamics - P.O. Box 2226 - Denton, Texas 76202
Life Dynamics' Phone: 940/380-8800, Fax: 940/380-8700, E-mail:

Click on Life Dynamics to visit their new web site.

Read another 1999 article here. 

See more at:


 Our Lady with the Infant Jesus riding on a lamb, with St John.
(William Blake 1800. V & A Museum)

Whilst the above post deals specifically with the law and the role of the IPPF in the USA, I think that in general terms many things in it

can be applied to the UK. The IPPF have a real presence in this country and is the recipient of a substantial grant running into millions of pounds from the UK government; this money effectively is tax-payer’s money, your money and my money, which could and should be used to support our own grossly under-supported services, particularly our Health Services. There is no reason to believe that the ethos of the IPPF in the UK is any different to that in the USA, and the UK government should immediately abrogate any  promises relating to present and future grants to this organisation. A short but firm letter to our respective MPs on these lines, could perhaps set wheels in motion, particularly if condemnation of this organisation is strong and widespread.
See also:
( NB. 'blue-out' above address, and click 'open link')


‘Venerable Richard Challoner,  pray for us all, and for our Country.’ (see prayer for beatification of Venerable Bishop Richard Challoner, at top of sidebar).