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Wednesday, 9 May 2018

'Of Such is the Kingdom of Heaven'

How can we ever forget the compelling but tragic scenario of the last  days of little Alfie Evans , who would have been two years old today, a patient in Alder Hey hospital, Liverpool, since December 2016, suffering from an unidentified degenerative and ultimately fatal disease. The heroic efforts of Alfie's parents to obtain alternative care for their son in the Children's Hospital in Rome, with the moral support of  Pope Francis, and practical help, viz. transportation and travelling medical staff, provided by the Italian government and medical services, was  ultimately to no avail, due to the intransigence of the Alder Hey hospital medical team and the Courts. However the love, sacrifices, and selflessness of the parents and all Alfie's supporters, are indelibly recorded in the annals of  history. There has been world-wide criticism of the Alder Hey hospital authorities for their refusal to allow Alfie to be moved, and questions asked regarding medical treatment administered  in his last hours immediately preceding  his rapid deterioration and death. It is fair to say that the hospital did receive support, including from the Roman Catholic Bishop's Conference of England and Wales, who publicly praised the hospital for their actions and  care. They have been strongly criticised for this, for their statement supposed some medical knowledge and expertise which they could not possibly have had, for even the doctors in the case were ignorant. In hindsight we know that the doctors were wrong when they said Alfie would die very shortly after his life-line was removed, and in fact he survived for several days. A senior member of the Bishop's conference is the Archbishop of Liverpool, Rt. Rev. Malcolm McMahon O.P. in which diocese the Alder Hey hospital is situated. It is reasonable to presume a good working relationship exists between Archbishop and the Alder Hey hospital, in fact the diocese provides chaplains for the hospital. It may be that the message of support was an expression of  mutual trust and friendship for the hospital in the face of public criticism, rather than on known medical facts, for after all Alfie had been cared for by the hospital for some 18 months.  If it had been possible for the Bishops to foresee the manner and circumstances of Alfie's death, which of course it wasn't, maybe  their reaction may have been rather different. 

The following post is by Laurence England, from his blog-site,  'That The Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill'. It is a truly powerful post deserving to reach as many readers as possible. I have Laurence's authority to reproduce it here. Thank you Laurence.

 'One baby boy, so many victims.' 

'As the battle over the life and death of Alfie Evans intensified in the full glare of the onlooking world, I was among those who could not comprehend the unswerving logic of an entire machinery, governmental and ecclesiastical, locked on course for the snuffing out of a precious human life, that of little Alfie, who from his hospital bed lay blissfully unaware of the extraordinary tumult surrounding him, a tumult inside and outside the hospital, in the courts, in the media, around the whole world.

I cannot help but feel that in ages past, Alfie Evans might have lit the blue touchpaper of civil unrest, mass demonstrations, even calls for revolution in a country like the United Kingdom. The sheer powerlessness felt by those following the case of Alfie and his parents, those close to him and those far away, apart from a committed and passionate team surrounding the family, an intense gathering of supporters outside the hospital, manifested itself in cries from the heart on social media, blogs, Facebook and other vents for public anger and frustration. Perhaps because of the rise of social media, things have changed, perhaps not for the better. Perhaps when the release valves of public anger made known through hashtags fail to save the cause of a baby boy, it is time for a rethink.

Clearly, Alfie was a victim of a foul ideology that now dominates public life in Great Britain, a hideous, unreasoning line of repressive eugenic thought reminiscent of 1930s and 40s Germany, one that was already politely embedded in the British Establishment thanks to the rise of social darwinism, one that was never even nearly defeated during the Second World War, an ideology that does not even limit itself to the upper echelons in the British Establishment but finds a welcome in the hearts of British men and women working in myriad fields across the social spectrum in these Isles. It isn't really new. It never really was. For centuries, millennia, human societies have justified the killing of innocents because some human life is deemed 'unworthy' of being called human life. For centuries, we have employed utilitarian justifications for murder. For centuries, we have deemed some lives more or less worthy and that social 'inferiors' possess less inherent worth. What marks causes like that of Alfie Evans out, however, along with the crimes of Nazi Germany, is the tying of this myopic, if common, human error - one to which we are all essentially prone - to the over-wielding, face-crushing apparatus of the modern State.

And what a State it is and what a tyrannical monster it can become when a society becomes detached from Christ. For differing reasons, we Catholics, we British Catholics, should have seen the killing of Alfie Evans coming, because as other commentators have stated, the State-based assassination of Alfie, a British citizen whose right to life is, unlike the unborn, legally recognised, was entirely legal and 'above board'. While completely contrary to what we know as the natural law, that knowable in the hearts of mankind to be right, just, noble or virtuous, compassionate or kind, Alfie's life could be 'ended' and all 'by the book'. It could even be 'ended' by the withdrawal of basic sustenance and / or by the injection of toxins designed to sedate the patient into silence until even his breathing falls utterly silent. It could be ended because laws have been implanted into the British legal system that recognise, inherently, that in some, most, if not all cases, the life of citizen to State is one of 'owned' to 'owner', if not necessarily 'slave' to 'master'.

With language dressed in solemn medical virtue and medical care, the United Kingdom has reached the tipping point at which all but those without even a rudimentary vision of the limits on State power, could cry, "Murder!", as a judge told a court, a hospital, parents, a nation, yes, the whole world and its Creator, that an NHS patient could essentially be put to death in 'the best interests of the child'. There are, as has been documented, real reasons why the State and those who act in the name of Her Majesty's Government deem the State the possessor of persons, their lives and their deaths, beyond all reasonable limits.

Actual laws, such as the Children's Act of 1989, the Mental Capacity Act of 2005 and those laws which gave rise to the Court of Protection, a kind of super-secretive court that has those kind of powers  which should astonish and horrify British citizens, foresee just these kinds of situations and accord to the State just those kinds of justifications as were used in what Alfie's army could call the killing of Alfie Evans. What was and remains astonishing is that all of these conditions were met in one little boy and the entire weight of the British legal system fell like a tonne of bricks on one little boy and his brave, besieged and embattled parents.

It serves us nothing to say that Alfie Evans is a warning to the British people, since the warnings are long behind us, long before Alfie was born. If Alfie were a warning, he may still be alive in a hospital in Rome receiving treatment, still being caressed by his loving parents, still charming the world with his beautiful face, with his loving vulnerability, with his touching and mysterious interaction with those who loved him, with those who saw in his innocent eyes a glimpse, as so often we do, of something of the mystery of God. No, Alfie was not a warning. A warning is a threat. Evil men carried out an evil plan and succeeded in their evil plan and left a signature of evil across the face of the United Kingdom, confirming that this nation is now under the influence of horrifying evil that will not yield even in the face of the vehement reproach of just men and women around the whole world.

No, the warnings have been many and have gone unheeded. The warnings were the low-income family living on a housing estate deemed by the encroaching State apparatus of social services to be neglecting their child because they couldn't afford or for some reason failed to provide the correct environment for their child, note, to the standards to which social services holds them. Many children, of course not all, are forcibly removed, through the family courts, from those who have been deemed 'unworthy' of parentage. These children are then 'processed' into a care system in which they experience no or little love whatsoever, their links with parents and natural bonds severed.

The warnings were the man or woman with schizophrenia, be it mild or not so mild, who, having been sectioned, and placed under an authority's 'care', is diagnosed and placed on a mental health wing periodically, but is generally left to live an isolated and marginalised life, only to be placed on medication that renders him or her impotent, sterile or both, or unable to function as he or she could without them.

The warnings were the Christian family who, having discovered that their school was providing their child with completely unsuitable material for 'sex education' are informed that they are unable to pull their child from a toxic and highly sexualised learning environment, because wishing to preserve a child's innocence, or wanting to provide more suitable information themselves, is not 'in the child's best interest'. The warnings were the children removed from couples deemed unable to provide enough for their child, only for their children to be handed over by an adoption agency, with all the power of the State behind them, to sexually active 'gay parents' who can never provide children with the moral environment for their growth to maturity, nor the masculine love of a father, combined with the feminine love of a mother.

The warnings were the homeless man who, deemed unsightly to beg around our cities, or even to busk, is given the kind of stringent legal order that inhibits his movement or freedom and means that he cannot beg or even busk in a certain locale without a possible prison sentence being the result of his disobedience. The warnings are there, have been there, wherever an unjust State manned by unjust personnel, rob human beings of their natural and inalienable rights.

But most stridently of all, the warnings were there, already in place, for years, perhaps decades in Great Britain's National Health Service and within care homes, which can stealthily, at a time of their own choosing, place patients on the kind of 'end of life' plan that could render families and loved ones impotent in the face of the State's own medical system, as British citizens with firmly established legal rights, are placed on a well-documented death pathway that necessarily enables doctors and nurses to administer to patients deep sedation-causing drugs, in increasing dosage, while removing the most basic necessities of food and water from these patients, who, unable to speak out for themselves, are rendered entirely helpless as they grow nearer and nearer to death, whose bodily organs slowly succumb to the most agonising end, while families, some aware, some unaware, look on helplessly, because 'experts' have told them that this, the most barbaric, the most inhumane path, is the only path upon which patients can be placed at this stage in their treatment.

In the final analysis, we see in Alfie Evans a whole world, a world that is, a cruel and unjust world, a cold and heartless world, a world in which evil appears to us triumphant, a world which parodies 'care' and 'treatment' in its eugenic analysis that ends that 'life unworthy of being called life'. Those with a Christian vision of human life, however, see something else. We see a little boy, unknowing of all that was surrounding him, a warrior who did not, could not acknowledge the battle in which he was staged, through whom Almighty God has already worked wonders. Through a single baby, God has paraded the wicked for all mankind to see, whose pride and vanity will be recorded one day as legendary.

Little Alfie has paraded the unjust, the wicked and pathetic bishops of England and Wales, unmasked evil present in our own Bishops' Conference, hurled down the reputations of those who, fearing the consequences of conflict with the British Establishment and the British State, sided with Alfie's persecutors and those of his parents, adopting precisely the same sinister and deceitful language as those who felt a baby boy was better off dead. He has revealed the broad, cunning and evil face of the eugenic mindset against which Catholics must once more rise to slay, if necessary with our own blood. He has revealed the true state of our country.

He has also paraded those who fight for true justice, who fight for God's law, who fight against the culture of death, who wish for no earthly reward for their efforts, who pulled resources together to move heaven and earth for this young couple and their child, those who recognise that the State's power, though a necessary presence in the lives of the modern nation, has limits it cannot exceed without crushing human dignity. He has revealed the openness of whole nations to true compassion and true justice, those countries who offered to treat Alfie, who saw a fight for a human life as a fight worth fighting and an expense worth paying.

Image result for alfie evans

It is doubtful that Alfie's death will bring about a 'sea-change' in the attitude of the legal and medical establishment that denied Alfie and his parents treatment elsewhere, lest the cherished NHS be seen to be ineffective. No, it was vital that the NHS was seen to be effective, if not in caring and treating the most vulnerable, then in policing and administering death to its its patient. The truth is that what is most feared among the powerful in this country is the 'sea-change' that is yet to take place but that all Catholics who value and cherish human life pray will take place, the 'sea-change' from a country that justifies the taking of innocent human life on entirely subjective grounds, that justifies judicial and medical tyranny in the name of a thinly-veiled form of social darwinism rampant throughout British institutions, into a country that honours Almighty God, that honours the rights of parents, that honours the lives of its citizens from conception to natural death, that honours all that is good, all that is honourable, all that is worthy of praise.

Perhaps one day that day will come, perhaps one day Britons will rise from their slumber and demand the respect for human life that they themselves have discovered is sacred and holy. Perhaps that day is coming, but if it does, it won't have come without God's help and the wonders He has already done, through little Alfie Evans, the little warrior prince of Liverpool who, history may yet record, even put the silence of the Royal Family themselves to shame.

Pray for Alfie's parents, pray for our nation, pray for our bishops, pray for the clergy, but Alfie, Alfie must now be safe with God, for all along, his cause, in baptised innocence, was with God. Many people failed Alfie, while many valiantly fought on his side, but our holy Faith tells us God did not fail him. He is faithful. Alfie has been delivered from the pains of death and his enemies who surrounded him, from the fury of his foes, of both men and demons. May God do the same for us, for those who govern us and for our country as well. '

                            Ack. Laurence England, 'That The Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill'

Monday, 19 March 2018

The humility of Our Lady and the Saints - a few thoughts.

In the same way that 'pride' is considered the most deadly of the seven capital sins, 'humility' is considered the most important and necessary of the corresponding virtues. Our Lord Himself by His words and example, constantly emphasised the
importance and necessity for us to cultivate true humility, not as practised by the Pharisees, but as 'little children' without guile. He described Himself as 'meek and humble of heart' inviting all men who labour and are burdened to come to him for rest. Pride led to the rebellion and downfall of Lucifer and the fallen angels, and to the sin of disobedience by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.Thus did evil come into the world, opposed always by the power of God's grace, and the person of Jesus Christ, God the Son made man, conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the virgin Mary; who in her humility praises God with her 'Magnificat'; 

"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour; because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid; for, behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed; b
ecause He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name; and His mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear Him. He has shown might with His arm, He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and has exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. He has given help to Israel, His servant, mindful of His mercy- even as He spoke to our fathers- to Abraham and to His posterity forever" (Luke 1: 46-55) 

At that hour the disciples came to Jesus, saying,  "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in their midst, and said, "Amen I say to you, unless you turn and become like little children, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whoever, therefore, humbles himself as this little child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Mathew 18: 1-4)

"God resisteth the proud, and giveth his grace to the humble" (James 4:6)


Immaculate Conception, Caxios do Sul Museum, Brazil  (poss. do. Atelier Zambelli - own work)

  Sacred art representations of the Immaculate Conception show Our Lady with her heel crushing the head of the serpent, a symbol of the victory of good over evil, humility over pride.


With Passiontide upon us, it seems a good time to reflect on the unchanging wisdom of the early Fathers of the Church, particularly those holy monks and hermits, whose lives and teachings have been recorded and passed down through the ages.  

"There was in a monastery a certain old man, of most reverend life, and he fell into grievous sickness: and he was wasted with great and intolerable weakness and for a long time travailed in distress, nor could the brethren find any way to succour him, for those things which his sickness required they had not in the monastery. But a certain handmaid of God, hearing of his affliction, entreated the abbot of the monastery that she might take him to her own cell and tend him, more especially as she could more easily find in the city such things as were needful to his sickness. So the abbot of the monastery commanded the brethren to carry him to the cell of the handmaid of God. And she received the old man with all reverence, and for God's sake tended him, in hope of that eternal recompense, which she trusted to receive from our Saviour Christ. For three years and more she had watchfully tended the servant of God, when men of evil heart began to suspect according to the itching of their own minds, that the old man was not clean in his conscience towards the virgin that tended him. And the old man hearing it, entreated the divinity of Christ, saying, "Thou, Lord our God, who alone knowest all things and seest the griefs of my sickness and my misery, and dost consider this infirmity which for so long had wasted me, so that I had need of the nursing of this handmaid of thine, who hath tended me for Thy sake: give unto her, my Lord, her great and due reward in the life eternal, even as thou didst promise in Thy mercy to such as showed kindness for Thy sake to the poor and the sick." And when the day of his passing had drawn nigh, many of the older brethren of the monastery, holy men, came about him, and the old man said to them: "I beseech you, my lords, and fathers, and brethren, that when I am dead ye take my staff and plant it on my grave, and if it take root and come to fruit, then shall ye know that my conscience is clean towards this handmaid of God that tended me. But if it does not put forth leaves, know that I am not clean of her." When therefore the man of God had gone out of the body, the holy fathers planted his staff upon the grave, as he had bidden, and it brought forth leaves, and when the time had come, it bore fruit: and they all marvelled and glorified God. Many came from the neighbouring parts at such a miracle, and magnified the grace of the Saviour, and we ourselves saw the little tree: and we blessed God who in all things defendeth them that serve Him in sincerity and truth."



"When the abbot Macarius, carrying palm leaves, was returning to his cell at dawn, the Devil met him with a keen-edged sickle, and would have struck him, but could not. And crying out at him "Great," he said, "is the violence I suffer from thee, O Macarius, that when I fain would injure thee, I cannot: yet whatever thou dost, I do also, and more. For thou dost fast now and then, but by no food am I ever refreshed. Thou dost often keep vigil; no slumber ever falls upon me. But in one thing dost thou overmaster me, I do myself confess it." And when the blessed Macarius asked him what that might be, "It is thy humility alone," he said, "that masters me." He spoke, and the blessed Macarius stretched out his hands in prayer: and the evil spirit vanished into the air."


One of the Fathers used to say, "Every labour of the monk, without humility, is vain. For humility is the forerunner of love, as John was the forerunner of Jesus, drawing all men to him: even so humility, draws to love, that is to God Himself, for God is love.


  The above are  included in a fascinating book, 'The Desert Fathers', translated from the Latin by Helen Waddell, and published by Constable, London, in 1936.  

Helen Waddell was born in 1889, the youngest of 10 children, of an Ulster Presbyterian minister, a pioneer missionary in Manchuria and Japan. She was an extremely intelligent and diligent child, attaining high academic standards at school, followed by equally high achievement at Queens University, Belfast, and Somerville College, Oxford. She chose writing as her career, showing a particular interest and talent for translating works written in the early centuries AD from the original Latin into English, with a unique scholarly sensitivity which guaranteed her immediate success. She became one of the best-selling authors of the 1920s and 1930s, with her novel 'Peter Abelard' eventually being re-printed over 30 times and being translated into 9 European languages. Among other books which brought her fame, were 'The Wandering Scholars', 'Mediaeval Latin Lyrics', 'The Desert Fathers', and 'Beasts and Saints'. Helen Waddell remained unmarried but had a very wide circle of friends and acquaintances, particularly in the world of art and literature. She died in 1965 after a long illness.  

Thursday, 1 February 2018

D of E consultation on Sex & Relationship education - speak out now!

The Department of Education is running a consultation on: 

“Changes to the teaching of Sex and Relationship Education and PSHE”

                                                    Image result for schoolmasters hat


SPUC has produced briefing notes (see link below) to help you respond to the consultation.Please act now and respond. Consultation closes at 11.45pm on Monday 12 February 2018.

  • The Children and Social Work Act 2017 made Relationship Education in all primary schools a compulsory school subject and Relationships and Sex Education in all secondary schools. This legislation applies to England only.
  • This new legislation has been described as: "a state takeover bid for parenting".
  • On 19 December 2017 the government launched a consultation on what should be taught in these new compulsory subjects.
  • This is an opportunity to help shape what is taught to our children in school about these important matters.
  • All concerned citizens, and especially parents, grandparents and those working professionally in schools are encouraged to take part in this consultation.
  • This consultation closes at 11.45 pm on 12 February 2018   
  • The link to SPUC website with details of consultation and briefing notes:-   
  •  (Ack.John Smeaton, Director SPUC).

Saturday, 30 December 2017

'A Christmas Gift' and other delights.

A Christmas Gift

A mother was watching, one Christmas night,

Nursing her babe by the candle-light.
And she lifted her eyes in the gathering gloom,
For the Christ-child stood in the lowly room.
"What shall I give to thy child?", He said,
softly caressing the sleeper's head.
"Nay", said the mother, "O Angel-guest 
Give her whatever Thou deemest best."

"But what shall I give her?" He spoke again,

"ask and thou shalt not ask in vain.
Shall I touch her brow that her eyes may shine
with beauty, that men will call divine?
Shall I touch her lips that they may flow
with songs of the best that the world may know?"
"Nay", said the mother, "these will not stay,
songs are forgotten, and hair turns grey".

"Then what shall I give her, O mother mild?

Ask what thou wilt for thy little child".
And the mother lifted her eyes above,
"Give her purity, truth and love".
And the Christ-Child turned to her, soft and mild,
"Thou has chosen the best for thy little child.
Be not afraid, though life be sore,
I will be with her for evermore".

                                Anon - from 'Parlour Poetry' (This England).


God Abides in Men

God abides in men.
There are some men who are simple,
they are fields of corn.
We see the soil and the stubble,
more than the green spears
and the yellow stalks.
Such men have minds
like wide grey skies,
they have the grandeur
that the fool calls emptiness.

God is clothed in homespun in such lives.
He goes with them to the field and the barn,
He comes home, when the birds,
in dark orderly flocks
cross the empty twilights of time.

God abides in men.
Some men are not simple,
they live in cities
among the teeming buildings,
wrestling with forces
as strong as the sun and the rain.
Often they must forgo dream upon dream.
The glare of the electric light
blinds their eyes to the stars.
On some nights,
the stir of life, and the lights,
is a soft fire, like wine
in their blood.

Christ walks in the wilderness
in such lives.
Wrestling with Lucifer,
the fallen angel of light,
who shows him the cities of the world,
and with brilliant and illimitable audacity,
offers to Christianity lordship of the cities
on the worlds terms.

God abides in men.
There are some men,
on whom the sins of the world are laid.
They are conscripted,
stripped, measured and weighed,
taken away from home,
and sent to the flood,
the fire, the darkness,
the loneliness of death.
In such men
Christ is stripped of His garments,
the reed is put in His hand,
the soldier’s cloak on His shoulders,
the Cross on His back.
In them He is crucified.
From the lives,
and the deaths
of those men,
cities rise from the dead.

God abides in men,
because Christ has put on
the nature of man, like a garment,
and worn it to His own shape.
He has put on everyone’s life.
He has fitted Himself to the little child’s dress,
to the shepherd’s coat of sheepskin,
to the workman’s coat,
to the King’s red robes,
to the snowy loveliness of the wedding garment,
and to the drab, simple battle dress.

Christ has put on Man’s nature,
and given him back his humanness,
worn to the shape
of limitless love,
and warm from the touch
of His life.

He has given man his crown,
the thorn that is jewelled
with drops of His blood.
He has given him
the seamless garment
of his truth.
He has bound him
in the swaddling bands
of his humility.
He has fastened his hands
to the tree of life.
He has latched his feet
in crimson sandals,
that they move not
from the path of love.

God abides in man.

Caryll Houselander (1901-1954)


Although this is not a Christmas poem, it is about a child's love for her father, originally composed perhaps for the music-hall.   I cannot resist including it!

Give Me a Ticket to Heaven

Into a railway station crept a little child one night;
The last train was just leaving, and the bustle at its height.
The station-master standing there, looked down with wondering eyes
Upon this little maid - so frail in form, so small in size.
"Where is your father, little one? Are you alone? he cried.
With tearful eyes she look'd up in his and thus replied:

        "Give me a ticket to heaven,
         That's where Dad's gone, they say,
         He'll be so lonely without me,
         Travelling all that way.
         Mother died when I was born, sir,
         And left Dad and me alone,
         So give me a ticket to heaven, please,
         Before the last train is gone."

"My Daddy worked upon the line, but when I went tonight
To take his tea, he lay there on a shutter - oh! so white.
Then to a great big building his mates carried him away;
'He's booked for Heaven, poor old Dick!" I heard one of them say.
A station this must be - I thought to find the train I'd wait;
But finding none I ran on here - I hope I'm not too late."

        "Give me a ticket to heaven,
         That's where Dad's gone, they say,
         He'll be so lonely without me,
         Travelling all that way.
         Mother died when I was born ,sir,
         And left Dad and me alone,
         So give me a ticket to heaven, please,
         Before the last train is gone."

The station-master said, "Come, little one I'll see you right.
A ticket to your father you shall have this very night."
He took her to the hospital; they let her see her Dad.
Though injured, he had not been killed, and oh! her heart was glad.
Then turning to that kind friend who had brought her all the way,
She said, "If I lose Dad again, I'll come to you and say -

        "Give me a ticket to heaven,
         That's where Dad's gone, they say,
         He'll be so lonely without me,
         Travelling all that way.
         Mother died when I was born ,sir,
         And left Dad and me alone,
         So give me a ticket to heaven, please,
         Before the last train is gone."

                               Anon - from 'Parlour Poetry'(This England).


"God, who is unchangeable, would appear now as a child in a stable, now as a boy in a workshop, now as a criminal on a scaffold, and now as bread upon the altar.  In these various guises Jesus chose to exhibit Himself to us;  but whatever character He assumed, it was always the character of a lover." 

ack. 'Thoughts from St Alphonsus' - compiled by Rev C McNeiry  C.SS.R