Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Te Deum Laudamus

Pray the Te Deum today for an indulgence available on the last day of the year. 

The end of 2014 is a good time to remember all that God has done - let us give thanks for everything - joys, sorrows and challenges:

You are God: we praise you;

You are the Lord: we acclaim you;

You are the eternal Father:

All creation worships you.

To you all angels, all the powers of heaven,

Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise:

Holy, holy, holy, Lord, God of

power and might,

heaven and earth are full of your glory.

The glorious company of apostles praise you.

The noble fellowship of prophets praise you.

The white-robed army of martyrs praise you.

Throughout the world the holy Church

acclaims you:

Father, of majesty unbounded,

your true and only Son, worthy

of all worship,

and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.

You, Christ, are the king of glory,

the eternal Son of the Father.

When you became man to set us free

you did not spurn the Virgin’s womb.

You overcame the sting of death,

and opened the kingdom of heaven

to all believers.

You are seated at God’s right hand in glory.

We believe that you will come, and

be our judge.

Come then, Lord, and help your people,

bought with the price of your own blood,

and bring us with your saints

to glory everlasting.

Save your people, Lord, and bless

your inheritance.

Govern and uphold them now and always.

Day by day we bless you.

We praise your name for ever.

Keep us today, Lord, from all sin.

Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy.

Lord, show us your love and mercy;

for we put our trust in you.

In you, Lord, is our hope:

and we shall never hope in vain.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

I'd like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas as we celebrate with joy the birth of our Saviour. 

Of course we recall that some of our friends don't celebrate Christmas and so we have to be culturally sensitive.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

An Advent Challenge

What can I do to prepare myself to receive Christ this Christmas?

Advent often seems to disappear into a few weeks of alcoholic excesses with office "Christmas" parties weeks before the season begins and so what can I do differently this year?

Over the next 25 days I shall make a resolution to chose at least one person a day who needs encouraging and reach out to them. It could be a stranger, colleague, friend - but a new person each day. 

By Christmas, this should be firmly ingrained as a habit. What greater gift can I give to Him who gives Himself to us?


Advent reminds me that God became a single cell, an embryo, a foetus and a newborn child. All human life is sacred from the moment of conception and God wants to be involved with us in our humanity.

Our faith is more than a call to be spiritual but a reminder that we must be authentic human beings reaching out to one another in love.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Speaking of grace with Baptists

I was asked recently to speak at a lunch in Hong Kong - a Baptist evangelical outreach to non Christians and those who need encouragement in their faith. 

As the time of my talk approached I felt a little nervous. Did they know I'm Catholic?  Would I be booed off the stage or would there be awkward questions as to whether I would renounce propery and accept salvation?

My fears were unfounded. I began by asking prayers of all present and I didn't hide the fact I'm Catholic - quoting heroes from Saint Jerome to others who in more recent years inspired me such as Fr Hilary Carter, an Assumptionist priest in the parish I grew up in and Fr Allen Morris who was my tutor in seminary at Allen Hall. 

It shouldn't amaze me but we asked the Holy Spirit to come and He did. I had baptists telling me that they had experienced and encountered grace in a powerful way and me, a Catholic, felt a little ashamed at by fears beforehand. 

False ecumenism is sometimes about ignoring truth but true unity has to be based on truth and witness combined with love. Every story I shared was summarised by biblical quotations to emphasise the points made. 

My main focus of my talk was to share what the bible teaches us about grace and then to invite people to allow their lives to be transformed by grace. As always when I'm asked to speak to a Christian group, the main person I'm speaking to is myself. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

"Late have I loved You."

Happy Feast of Saint Augustine

"Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you!  You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you.  In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created.  You were with me, but I was not with you.  Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all.  You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness.  You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness.  You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you.  I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more.  You touched me, and I burned for your peace."

- The Confessions of St Augustine

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Godfathers of hypocrisy

Pope Francis recently said that those who support organised crime have effectively excommunicated themselves - he has also said that the attacks on organised crime will continue relentlessly. 

The Godfather trilogy is perhaps one of my favourite set of films and exposed the hypocrisy of leading politicians, officials and entertainers allying themselves with cold blooded murderers. Throughout the film the evils of organised crime, abortion and terrorism are interspersed with religious imagery, culminating perhaps with Michael Corleone receiving a Papal knighthood from a sick and dying Pope Paul VI. 

Sadly the truth is that the Church had all too often allied itself with powerful enemies of human life. When Senator Ted Kennedy died, this lifelong enemy of unborn children - but a powerful and wealthy man - was not only allowed a public funeral Mass but it was televised and "graced" with the presence of a Cardinal of the Church. 

Gerry Adams and the murderous IRA would always identify themselves as Catholics - and would have an election time photo opportunity going to receive communion - and gullible people would vote for its political wing, Sinn Fein, who relentlessly supported terrorism, gangster activities and abortion. 

As Catholics we cannot judge the souls of other people but surely the Church needs to stand up to those who - in a public forum - undermine the right to life of the unborn. 

Who'd support me in starting a petition to the Pope asking for a formal excommunication for all who publically and unrepentantly support murderous organised crime, abortion and terrorism?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

St Damien of Molokai - pray for us

Please say a prayer for me and my son on my feast day and his secondary feast day. 

May his prayers and example encourage all of us to reach out to those who are forgotten and rejected bringing the light of Christ and His Church. 

St Damien of Molokai pray for us!

Pope Paul VI to be beatified.

Following the approval of a miracle the beatification of Pope Paul VI is set to take place on October 19th this year. 

The Pope who presided over the lifting of the excommunications of the Greek Orthodox and the releasing of the prophetic Encyclical, Humanae Vitae is therefore set on the course of canonisation. 

Perhaps the soon to be Blessed Paul VI could pray for an end to the widespread liturgical abuses of the 1970s and for a reversal in the falling away of Mass attendance and disbelief in the blessed Sacrament that followed.  

Sunday, May 04, 2014

English martyrs, pray for us!

The martyrs of England and Wales, whose feast is celebrated today, 4th May, remind us that we cannot be syncretists. As Catholics we do not believe that every spiritual path leads to God but that the way to God isn't by a variety of routes but by one Person and the Church He founded. 

The millions of Catholics who gave their lives for Christ, from Saint Stephen as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, the martyrs of the Deformation era right up to  the Jesuit priest, Fr Frans Van der Lugt killed in Syria a few weeks back were willing to witness to the Truth. 

May we be inspired by the words, lives and ultimate sacrifice of these martyrs and be prepared to remain steadfast and loyal to Christ and His Church. 

Thursday, May 01, 2014

St Joseph the Worker

Today my wife and I celebrated our son's third feast day since being born by visiting his Godparents. 
There is something wonderful about remembering and celebrating one's saint's day. Joseph is especially blessed in having three feast days - including the Holy Family and of course the traditional St Joseph's Day on 19th March 

Although a modern innovation, the feast of St Joseph the Worker is a powerful reminder of how everything we do can be holy if offered for God. It also seems fitting that the month dedicated to Mary, starts with her husband, Joseph. 

St Joseph the worker, pray for us. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014


TGIF is a common phrase whereby people celebrate the coming weekend and am end to the working week. 

How about TGIGF? Thanking God it's Good Friday, the day we remember the immensity of His love for us. 

A couple of weeks ago my son was crying and had his fingers in his mouth. I promised him that I would find something to comfort him and later that day had found some teething gel. I had kept the first promise I'd made to him and he now knows that I will comfort him when his gums hurt. 

It's the experience of having a son of my own that gives me a powerful glimpse into how much God loves us. I hate to see him suffer, even momentarily - and yet the Father watched His Son suffer and die - in love for us. 

It is contemplating the true Father that I can begin to realise how precious each person is - grace is freely given but grace was so very costly. 

The Good Friday liturgy is stark, punctuated by solemn silence and gives us a time of mourning. 

Our priest said that Good Friday - rather than Valentine's Day is the real celebration of love. 

"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." - John 15:13

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"Friend, why are you here?"

Spy Wednesday: we recall Judas' betrayal. 

Christ's words to Judas as he is being betrayed penetrate the soul:

"Friend, why are you here?" (Matt 26:50)

How often have we considered ourselves to be Christians but betrayed Christ by our words, thoughts and actions?

Perhaps these words to Judas are a powerful aid to examining our consciences each day as we allow ourselves to be challenged: 

Are we living as friends to Christ and would these words be welcome if we saw Him face to face tonight?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Happy Saint Joseph's!

I have always been a fan of celebrating saints days and would always find it amusing when my Irish friends would tell me I'm an honorary Irishman on Saint Patrick's Day. I would often reply, whilst imbibing Guinness that like Saint Patrick I'm British and Catholic. 

Today we celebrate Saint Joseph's day - a powerful intercessor for all men but especially fathers, husbands, those struggling to be pure, those seeking work and those looking for a new home. 

It is also my son's feast day - we shall find a way of celebrating his baptism and saints day as he grows older but please spare a prayer for him - on the eve of his 5th month that he may, like Saint Joseph love Our Lord and Our Lady and grow into a man of strength, gentleness, kindness and manly virtue. 

Friday, March 07, 2014

IF - for Catholics

The poem "IF" penned by Rudyard Kipling is my favourite secular piece of writing in the English language. Every father should teach this to their sons if they want them to become real men. The poem reinforces true manly virtues of strength, forgiveness, humility in times of triumph and resilience when disaster strikes. 

With apologies to Kipling, I have attempted to rewrite this poem for my fellow Catholics, to remind myself and anyone who might read this, that in this life we make choices - and they have eternal consequences:

If you can keen the faith when all about you,
Are losing theirs and sometimes mocking you;
If you can trust Our Lord when others doubt Him,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can love those who treat you with derision, 
In person, or on a blog, online
Say a rosary, don't cause more division
Pray to bless them especially at that time. 

If you can pray, giving glory to Our Father
If you can think of Him with salvation as your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
But glorify Him throughout all the same 
If you can bear to hear the Faith be spoken
Of, derided by the ignorant and the fool
Or the Church, Christ gave His life for, body broken,
Mocked, but calmly defend her, keeping cool. 

If you can genuflect when He's before you,
If you bow your head at the Holy Name;
While others disrespect Him and laugh at you,
Although no one else will do the same;
If you can't bear to know the grace you're given
Was lost, by just one mortal sin,
Then respond, quickly seek to be forgiven,
Be absolved, a life of grace again begin;

If you can surf the web yet keep your virtue, 
Or write a blog, yet not lose the common touch;
If the plight of the unborn and those in poverty moves you,
If you help them out, but no one knows too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With prayer 'til anger's at an end;
Yours is true life - and graces without limit,
And what is more, you'll get to heaven my friend.    

(With apologies to Rudyard Kipling)

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Fast, Pray, Love

The book, and later, film called, "Eat, Pray, Love" never appealed to me but many have said that it was pretty self indulgent. 

Lent could be described as a time to "Fast, Pray and Love."  I'm not very good at Lent. I have great intentions on Ash Wednesday then on Friday night as I'm having a pint or Saturday afternoon when I'm halfway through a chocolate bar I tend to remember what I'm giving up. 
This Lent I aim to be more purposeful - not only chose to fast from something each day but to pray more, especially when I particularly desire that chocolate bar or beer. 

Love is perhaps a key message in Lent - we give to the poor but we also joyfully look forward to remembering what Christ did for us - and celebrate Easter three days later. 

May we deny ourselves, pray and seek to love more whilst, remembering today's Gospel, being joyful. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Rival Papal Claimant meets Pope

Pope Francis met a rival claimant to the throne of Saint Peter recently in the Vatican but despite his competing claim he didn't seem to mind too much. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Walking in darkness

The other day I decided to go for a run but after about 20 minutes realised that I'm not as fit as I'd like to be and so it turned into more of a walk - run - walk. 

Exploring the town in which I live led me to travel down unfamiliar paths and I soon found my way on unfamiliar ground. I since realised that if we are to explore new areas we probably shouldn't do so when it's dark, raining and one's mobile battery is about to die. 

My wife and I had an interesting discussion when I returned home, several hours later, cold, wet and suitably contrite. 

What did I learn in this mini adventure? Sometimes in life different paths seem interesting but if we don't walk in the light of Christ we are headed for darkness and despair. I also learned about the kindness of strangers and the importance of better communication. 

In life's daily journey let us remember the words of Christ:

"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not live in darkness but have the light of life." John 8:12

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Remembering a Pro Life Hero

The Lutheran pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer is perhaps one of the greatest pro-life heroes of the 20th Century. Today is the anniversary of his birth and the following words should inspire and challenge us to do more to protect life: 

"Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness and pride of power and with its plea for the weak ... Christians should give more offence, shock the world far more, than they are doing now."

Monday, January 20, 2014

Bishop-elect Mark O'Toole

In just over a week's time, Mgr Mark O'Toole will be ordained Bishop of Plymouth. 

Mgr O'Toole was among those responsible for the reception of the former UK Prime Minister, the pro-abortion Tony Blair, whose regime led to abortion up until birth for some children and the closure of Catholic adoption agencies. Sadly Blair's conversion didn't lead to any public remorse for the disaster he inflicted upon children in the UK but I must presume he did so privately. 

I personally knew Father Mark O'Toole (as he was) when I was a seminarian at Allen Hall and remember him as a kind, prayerful and orthodox man. 

Please take a moment to pray for him and his new diocese - may the Holy Spirit strengthen and guide him and may all the faithful there be fortified as soldiers of Christ. 

Monday, January 06, 2014

The Holy Name of Jesus

Today is the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus in the older calendar of the Roman Rite. 
The liturgy and the scriptures and prayers within highlight the great power of the name of Jesus. It is a reminder that this name alone is a powerful prayer, it makes
Satan flee and should be used only in prayer or with the utmost respect. There is also an indulgence attached to the invocation of the Holy Name. 

The liturgy both before and after Vatican II  insists that we bow every time the name of Jesus is mentioned and of course to use the name as a swear word is a grave sin - sacralige. I recently read that traditionally Catholiics would pray, "Blessed be the name of The Lord" when they heard this name being use blasphemously - this would be a great custom to restore. 

May we grow in love for Christ and His Holy Name daily. 

Friday, January 03, 2014

Sunshine award

I was delighted to hear that I was awarded the Sunshine Blog award from both Jackie Parkes and Richard Collins. 

One of my duties shall be to nominate ten other blogs which I shall do in a few days time. My other solemn duty to share ten things about myself on this blog. This doesn't come easy to me but here goes:

1.  I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church teaches, believes and proclaims to be revealed by God.  

2. I am a sinner, aware of my need for God's grace and wouldn't go more than a week without Confession if possible and receive the Eucharist several times a month. 

3.  I have a beautiful, loving and patient wife who encourages me to be the man I am and respects me as the head of our family under Christ. I am passionately in love with this woman, my best friend, and mother of my young son. 

4.  I'm not entirely sure who reads this blog and always appreciate feedback but made two choices: never to give my name and to refrain from needlessly criticising any other person. I hope to share thoughts, amuse and possibly inspire other people - not bring them down. 

5.  I'm an Englishman whose lived in two foreign countries: Wales and Hong Kong (where I grew in appreciation of English traditions, rugby and cricket respectively) and have been fortunate enough to have worked in and / or visited five continents and ovee 50 countries including the Holy Land and what is left of the Papal States. 

6.  Although born in the 1970s, I feel more at home worshipping at a (Tridentine) Latin Mass and once had various internet trolls threatening to have me burnt at the stake as a heretic when I wrote a spoof article wanting a more meaningful liturgy and concluding that the old rite is what is needed. Sadly, Damian Thompson, removed the death threats from the blog, which I rather enjoyed. 

7. I was once threatened with excommunication by Cardinal Basil Hume when I told him that I hoped Anglican prayers would be more efficacious for about 90 minutes when it had been reported that he and the ArchMinister of Canterbury were to attend the FA Cup final together cheering and praying for Newcastle and Arsenal respectively. 

8.  I spent a year as a seminarian and later a year as a novice monk at Ampleforth. Although neither were to be my vocation I treasure those times and the friends I made at each. I should pray for vocations more often than I do. 

9.  I was once hugged by a lady Anglican minister who was concerned that I wouldn't like her because she's a woman and I reassured her that I believe that her ordination is just as valid as her male counterparts. 

10. I believe in genuine ecumenism, but it has to based on the highest, not the lowest, common denominator. Anglican, Protestant and Orthodox friends have all encouraged me in my faith and despite being a Papist and a layman, have spoken at several Protestant churches in Hong Kong. I prefer faithful non Catholic Christians who genuinely seek God and to liberal Catholics who water down the faith any day.