Monday, 30 December 2013
Adoration of the Magi - Pieter Bruegel (1525-1569)
‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sore-footed and refractory,
Lying down in the melted snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.
Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.
'Journey of the Magi' - T. S. ELIOT (1927)
'Thou canst not apprehend that Jesus Christ will stretch out His hands to chastise thee, since His Mother is occupied in swathing them in linen bands.'
Thoughts from St Alphonsus.
'Wishing one and all a very happy and blessed New Year'
Thursday, 21 November 2013
A very interesting recent post by Fr Martin Fox - 'Bonfire of the Vanities', in which he proposed that, 'If you don't want Heaven now, what makes you think that you will want it later?' (Sunday homily), made such an impression on me that I asked for his approval to reproduce it on 'Umblepie'.
'Bonfire of the Vanities'
'I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified' -- St. Paul, I Corinthians 2:2
Saturday, November 09, 2013
'If you don't want heaven now, what makes you think you'll want it later? (Sunday homily)'
'Traditionally, November is when Catholics focus on
what are called the “four last things”:
death, judgment, heaven and hell.
We don’t like to think about it—
but winter is coming whether we think about it or not;
whether we prepare for it or not.
And it’s the same with death.
Talking about death makes a lot of people uncomfortable.
But who are we kidding?
Do you think our kids don’t know about death?
Look at video games! Look at our TV and movies!
It’s not a question of avoiding the subject.
Rather, it’s a question of looking at it as a Christian—
or as someone who has no hope.
I have been in hospital rooms and people’s homes,
and no one would say out loud what was obvious.
I don’t see how that helps anyone, children or adults.
On the other hand, I remember a woman:
a mother and grandmother,
surrounded by her husband, children, grandchildren.
They were all holding hands, praying with her, as he breathed her last.
And I heard the husband say: “I’m broken hearted, but I’m happy.”
He lost his beloved, yet he knew she’d left this life looking for Christ.
She faced death and was ready!
We believe in life after death.
But how often do we think about what that means?
If we really we are eternal, then that changes everything.
If I live 100 years, is that long—compared with eternity?
And it’s worth asking:
how much of what I spend money on, or worry about, in this life,
is going to matter in eternity?
If you want an investment that goes beyond the grave,
Feed the hungry, clothe the poor, give a helping hand—
but, above all, help bring other people to heaven!
People are the one and only form of riches that you can take with you!
So we die, and at that moment, we stand before God.
That’s our personal judgment day.
Is that frightening?
It doesn’t have to be.
No one gets into heaven because we’re good enough.
We get there through faith in Jesus Christ.
Everyone needs mercy; and if we ask, we receive it.
One form of that mercy is purgatory.
Purgatory isn’t an alternative to heaven—
it is the front porch to heaven.
It’s where we go for a final clean-up.
But there is one catch.
Even mercy isn’t, in a sense, “enough.”
Because all this depends on one more thing.
Heaven—and thus, purgatory--is only possible for us if we want to change,
and become what Christ intends us to be.
To put it even more plainly:
Heaven is for those who want it. Really!
If we want heaven—if we want to be heavenly—we’ll live that way, here.
On the other hand, if we don’t want to live that way now,
What makes us think we’ll want it, then?
We prayed in the psalm: “When your glory appears, my joy will be full.”
That’s only true if the glory of God—his truth, his ways—give us joy.
Last week, we heard about the man in the temple
who didn’t think he had any sins.
He’s not going to change—he’s likes himself just the way he is.
God warns us away from sin:
gluttony, lust, wrath, greed, pride, sloth and envy.
Those are the seven deadly sins. Avoid them.
But I like gluttony! I like wrath! We like these things.
But what God says is this: you won’t have them in heaven.
If you can’t let go of them now—
What will you do for eternity?
You see, the danger is not
that we’ll arrive at Judgment Day
and find God’s mind made up.
No! The danger is, our mind will be made up!
Heaven can’t be heaven if we can’t be happy there.
And purgatory can’t do us any good
if we don’t want to be made ready for heaven!
If you want a definition of hell, there’s one:
What you get when happiness can’t make you happy!
So, hell is real—but let’s not stay there!
The Catholic life boils down to this.
We spend our days learning who God is, and what he loves,
and asking him to help us become people who love those things.
We love lust; God loves chastity.
We love greed; God gives with an open hand.
Then, what we prayed in the psalm will come true:
“Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.”
(thank you Fr Martin Fox)
'God wishes all to be saints, and each one according to his state of life: the religious as a religious: the secular as a secular; the priest as a priest; the married as married; the man of business as a man of business; the soldier as a soldier; and so on of every other state of life.'
'Thoughts from St Alphonsus'
'Mother of God and mother of mercy, pray for our Holy Father and for all our Church, especially the suffering and the persecuted, and for all the faithful departed'
Thursday, 10 October 2013
What good is all the greatness of this world at the hour of death?
To love God and save one’s soul is the one thing needful
God is cheap at any cost.
Every pain is slight to him who has deserved hell.
He bears all who looks on Jesus crucified.
Whoever wishes for God alone is rich in every good.
Happy the man who can say: “My Jesus, I desire Thee alone, and nothing more!”
'My heart is restless until it rests in Thee' - St Augustine of Hippo
Tuesday, 10 September 2013
'The marriage feast at Cana' - Murillo
Through the media, we in the UK are lead to believe that now the concept of ‘same-sex marriage’ has been approved by Parliament, everything in Society’s garden will be rosy. In fact we have not even begun to experience the problems that this legislation will inevitably bring. It is therefore encouraging to know that the millions of voters in this country opposed to this shameful legislation are not 'out on a limb' as it were. In fact the majority of nations throughout the world have voiced their opposition and will have nothing to do with it.
In July this year, the
"We consider ourselves, like normal, standard people, we just live boys with women, girls with boys ... it comes from the history," Isinbayeva told reporters.
Organizations from around the world are “rushing” to offer their support according to ‘Profesionales por la Etica’, http://www.profesionalesetica.org/ the
The Lancet reported last summer that homosexuals are 18 times more likely to contract HIV than heterosexuals, due to a combination of biological and behavioural risks associated with homosexual activity. Moreover, HIV is receding in most of the world, except among homosexual populations where it is skyrocketing. Homosexuals are also at higher risk for substance abuse, suicide, and depression.
It is encouraging to see eastern European countries oppose this legislation, all the more surprising in that so many of these countries were part of the old Communist bloc when religion was banned and religious persecuted. Clearly the people have not been blinded by the materialism of their western European counterparts, and have the strength and the will to overcome this attack on their traditional Christian heritage and way of life. Similarly in
In the UK we will have to wait and see how this unwanted, unwise, hasty, and intrinsically bad legislation will encroach on our traditional liberties and lives, particularly as it affects religious sensibilities and 'conscience' rights, employment, education, public services, and not least 'free speech'. In 18 months time, from his seat in the Opposition Benches, David Cameron may well rue the day he espoused this tainted cause, the day on which he went a 'step too far'.
Friday, 16 August 2013
Massacre of the Innocents - Giotto Di Bondone (c1300)
The massacre of the Innocents ordered by King Herod shortly after Christ's birth, never ceases to horrify all decent minded people.Yet this was just a foretaste of the horrors currently inflicted on literally millions of unborn children throughout the world. In the USA alone it is estimated that there are one million abortions each year - this includes the estimated abortions induced by the 'morning after' abortifacient pill. Add to this the countless numbers of abortions every year in Western Europe, Russia, China, Asia, and the rest of the world, and it is easy to give way to despair and a feeling of helplessness in the fight against such widespread evil. We see governments throughout the world endorsing the killing of the unborn, and going even further by authorising scientific research entailing the destruction of vast numbers of human embryos.
Every person, no matter how young, “deserves respect” according to the One of Us initiative that has garnered over 850,000 signatures. If it gathers 1 million signatories by November 1, the European Parliament may have to consider a ban on funding research that destroys human embryos.
Wednesday, 10 July 2013
'Archangel Saints - Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel, with Joshua' (F. Botticini 1446-97)
I am not a fan of unsolicited e-mails, however I have recently received two from the 'change.org' website on which I was happy to act, and which I have also passed on to others. For those who are unaware, the 'change.org' website exists to allow ordinary citizens to set-up petitions on the internet, usually on matters of public interest about which they have real concern, inviting like-minded people to sign the petition, which will eventually be passed on to the appropriate authority with a view to suitable action being taken.
Of my two messages, one related to a 'Petition' to be presented to Edward Timpson MP, to outlaw the display of pornographic literature in places where it is visible/accessible to children and young people eg. newsagents, shopping stores, bus/railway stations, airports, etc. The other on a similar theme, was to persuade the owners of the Sun newspaper to cease publishing photos of women in various stages of undress or none, in the daily editions of their newspaper.
I support both these Petitions and have duly signed, but more signatures are needed. The links to the respective Petitions are shown below:-
http://www.change.org/petitions/edward-timpson-mp-make-it-illegal-to-display-porn-around-children?utm_campaign=mailto_link&utm_medium=email&utm_source=share_petition - petition addressed to Edward Timpson M.P.
just click here to share the petition on Facebook. - petition to David Dinsmore, Editor of Sun newspaper.
Congratulations to the organisers of both these Petitions. Fight the good fight - for evil to succeed it is only necessary that good men do nothing. 'Holy Michael the Archangel, defend us in the day of battle, be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the Devil'
We have finished with the earthly Tzars, now we shall deal with the heavenly Tzars' - 'Bezbozhnik', January,1923.
(The Bezbozhnik, or 'Atheist', a weekly newspaper of a violently anti-religious character, is published at Moscow by the Bolsheviks)
The author completes his work with an analysis of all the
‘The teaching of religious beliefs in State or private educational establishments and schools to children of tender age and to minors is punishable by forced labour for a period not exceeding one year’ – clause 121 of the new Criminal Code. (p53)
“If the Soviet government orders me to act against my conscience, I do not obey. As for teaching the catechism, the Catholic Church lays it down that children must be taught their religion, no matter what the law says. Conscience is above the law. No law which is against the conscience can bind” (Exarch Federov, head of the Uniat Church in Russia, defendant in the trial of Archbishop Cieplak and others, replying to government prosecutor, the Procurator Krylenko, March 22, 1923)
“The worst feature of the Bolshevik persecution of Christianity is not the imprisonment and murder of priest and laymen, but the attack on family life.The new laws on marriage and on the education of children, which a Commission in the Department of Justice is now preparing, are deeply tainted by that most atrocious doctrine of radical Communism – namely, the doctrine that children belong absolutely to the State, and must be handed over to State institutions. ‘Children who have not reached maturity (eighteen years) are regarded as belonging to no religion whatsoever, and the assertion of the parents that the child belongs to any particular Church has absolutely no force.’
“Moreover, apart from its frontal attack on the Church, the Soviet Government had trespassed on parental authority and on the home to an extent which no Christian prelate should have permitted without a public protest, which would have resounded throughout
“Catholicism is detested by autocratic rulers, which included the Tsars and the Bolsheviks. Writing in 1819, of the hostility of Alexander I to
'I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only love.'
(with ack. 'A Faith Seeking Understanding' blog-site)
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta