Sochi and Sodom

AMDG

In the run-up to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games being held in Sochi, and indeed now during the games, Sport sadly has not been the main topic of conversation. Instead Western liberals have been focusing on a recent national Russian internal modification of Administrative offences which was recently passed. It has been rather alarming how much misinformation has been spread about this change in the law and the lack of a balanced commentary on it.

This amendment to the law has been portrayed by western media across the political spectrum as tantamount to criminalising homosexuality and giving license to mobs to assault and kill homosexuals. It is true that violent vigilante attacks against those who suffer from same-sex attraction have increased in Russia in recent years. This is well documented and quite disturbing. Generally even conservative arms of western media – who are normally more sympathetic to such socially conservative laws – have uncritically accepted this analysis as well, I suspect out of a blind anti-Russian prejudice that endures more than twenty years after the collapse of The Soviet Union. The image of those who challenge this view is that of a minority of crackpot religious fundamentalists, like the infamous Westboro Baptist Church.

So how should a faithful Catholic react to this new law? Outright condemnation? Full unquestioning support? I am assuming at this stage that the reader knows and understands Catholic teaching regarding the importance of upholding conjugal Marriage in public life. I also assume that the reader is aware of Church teaching on homosexuality within the broader context of her teaching about sexuality. If not, it is described in the Catechism of the Catholic Church as follows:

Chastity and homosexuality

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same-sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

Consider first that it is a law that is firmly supported by our Russian Orthodox brethren on the ground who have a similar, if not identical, understanding of homosexuality to our own.

Second, it is necessary to cut through the media’s spin and look at the facts:

Fact#1 The law prohibits the dissemination or promotion of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” to minors. It does not criminalise homosexual acts between adults, nor their promotion to adults.

There is a word in English for when an adult encourages a minor to engage in a sexual relationship – paedophilia. If it is between two minors it is known as statutory rape. Between a human and an animal, it is called bestiality. There are even darker recesses of deviant sexual activity which I will not sully this blog by naming or describing, suffice to say that there are lines of common decency which some people have little difficulty in trespassing. I don’t believe any parent would ever want such things promoted to their children by anyone.

The wording of the law is often misunderstood, but it is quite clear. In Russia one is prohibited from promoting to children as the norm anything other than the nuclear family, that is to say that sexual relations belong solely within a family context between a married mother and father. It is phrased like this in line with the wording of various Russian judicial rulings, and is quite deliberate. Indeed, it’s apparent vagueness is its strength. There are so many deviations from this in the modern world that to criminalise them all by name would inevitably lead to the distribution of strange and disturbing material that slips through the legal cracks. Consider the problem Great Britain has with recreational drugs – only the listed drugs are illegal so chemists are constantly tweaking the drugs’ to make them technically legal. It is simply impractical to name them individually, so it is better to have a broadly framed law which will not allow dangerous material to be promoted because of legislators’ omissions.

Fact#2 This law does not legalise the assault or killing of homosexuals.

There have been shocking and disturbing videos posted on the internet of so-called “gay-baiting”. This is where a homosexual person is tricked into publicly exposing himself, under the pretence of a date with another homosexual, to a violent mob which proceeds to attack or humiliate their victim for being homosexual. This unequivocally and absolutely disgusting and wrong. Furthermore, it is still illegal in Russia. It is the duty of the police to enforce the law and protect citizens without preference or exception. Anything less is a grave failure and a dereliction of duty. Such criminals must be arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned.

However, militant homosexuals who violate the law in Russia by publicly orchestrating agitation aimed at promoting their disordered behaviour (classically termed “the sin of Sodom”) in full view of children, should not be shocked when the reaction among ordinary people is one of revulsion. It is right and proper that the police should enforce the law and maintain public order by arresting these militant activists. In any situation if one resists arrest then one should expect the police to use force in response. The police must exercise restraint, but it is not inherently unreasonable that they use proportionate and reasonable force. This applies to all, including what the BBC describes as “LGBTQ campaigners”. (Aside from anything else and on a less serious note, this incessantly ballooning acronym for minority sexual groups is getting longer, how long will it be until every letter in the alphabet is included?)

Finally, a crucial point must be made. Part of CCC2358 is often twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, namely the part which reads:
“They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” Militant homosexuals and some Catholics erroneously interpret this as mandating an equal treatment of homosexual couples with married spouses. Note the word “unjust”. Unjust discrimination is violently attacking a homosexual, or in some other way failing to treat them as people who are loved by Almighty God. Just discrimination (read “distinction” – discrimination has too many negative connotations) is preventing the brainwashing of a nation’s children with a dangerous and immoral ideology, by recognising homosexuality as lacking the essential characteristics necessary for marriage, as being intrinsically disordered and as harmful to individuals and society as a whole if acted upon.

So what should the Catholic verdict be on this?

I believe that this law is just and that its enforcement should be supported by faithful Catholics, but that we must also condemn all actions which do not respect the inherent dignity of every human person, which is not forfeited by having same-sex attractions. Mr. Putin, enforce this law. Protect the innocence of the children of Russia and promote the common good. But do not forget to also enforce with the same rigour the laws which protect all your citizens, including homosexuals, from attack or unjust treatment.

And for goodness’ sake, try to enjoy the fine winter sports like curling or ice hockey on display in Sochi.

LDS

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Bulimia in Neverland

AMDG

What, you may legitimately ask, does the magical world of J.M. Barrie have in common with an eating disorder that sadly is growing ever more prevalent in the west? What follows is no doubt a regurgitation of things said by the Fathers of the Church countless times, but which is more relevant than ever today. What I am referring to are the romantic lives of most of our society, including those of many unwitting Catholics who have been taken in by the lies of our culture.

At quarter to five this morning in a nightclub in Barcelona (yes, I was awake at this ungodly hour being deafened by excessively loud music thanks to some acquaintances of mine who wanted to keep partying when the pub closed at 3am) I had something of an epiphany. It looked rather like this common meme image –

20140216-073545.jpg

Upon observing an acquaintance of mine engaging in what can only be described as a passionate embrace with a total stranger in the middle of the nightclub, who did not even speak the same language as her, I felt an overwhelming intellectual and emotional repulsion. I left shortly afterwards.

That embrace was entirely devoid of love, and betrayed the entire mindset of our modern culture with regards to romantic relationships. What this young woman (in her 20s) was seeking was the quick thrill of infatuation and strong emotional feelings of intimacy with a stranger. Infatuation is a natural stage which God uses to bring couples together initially before a more mature relationship develops. It is to Marriage what infancy is to adulthood. The trouble is, couples in our culture don’t want to grow up.

Instead as a society we confuse Hollywood-esque infatuation with authentic Marital love. Infatuation however, unlike real marital love, does not endure. So when the passion naturally subsides, nothing serious remains. So people hop from one partner to the next, seeking fulfilment in a series of unfulfilling infatuations while refusing to develop their relationships into something more. Thus couples in our culture remain in an emotional Neverland, and do not answer their vocations to Marriage. This really is a tragedy.

But this quick thrill is sought so ruthlessly in our society that God’s design is excluded from what should be the supreme act of selfless love between a husband and wife, through contraception. The use of contraception in sexual intercourse is gravely disordered in a similar way that bulimia is disordered with regards to digestion. The purpose of digesting food is to nourish the body. With Bulimia, the pleasure of consuming excessive quantities of food can be achieved (gluttony) without the consequence of becoming fat, and thus thwarting the natural purpose of nourishing the body. With contraception the empty pleasure of the sexual act is retained without the consequence of getting the woman pregnant and thus thwarting The natural purpose of procreating.

It was well described by Venerable Fulton Sheen when he said:

The root principle of birth-control is unsound. It is a glorification of the means and a contempt of the end; it says that the pleasure which is a means to the procreation of children is good, but the children themselves are no good. In other words, to be logical, the philosophy of birth-control would commit us to a world in which trees were always blooming but never giving fruit, a world full of sign-posts that were leading nowhere. In this cosmos every tree would be a barren fig-tree and for that reason would have upon it the curse of God.

I believe it is chiefly this combination of selfishness and immaturity, this bulimia in Neverland , that is responsible for the unprecedented weakening of Marriage. Please pray for those who been ensnared by these lies, that they will find authentic love through Jesus Christ. It is time for our society to “put away childish things” and become adults – it is time to leave Neverland behind.

LDS

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The Prince and the Porter

AMDG

With news pouring in every week about fresh attacks on the Church – be it her chapels, her clerics or her freedom to promote the one holy catholic and apostolic faith – it is my growing fear that we are once again being driven back to the catacombs (in the as in the days of Ancient Rome). The pace of the systematic incremental abolition of western Christian civilisations and religious liberty is excruciating in that within living memory vice and virtue have been inverted in our society’s outlook (look at attitudes to abortion in the 1950s vs today) yet it is slow enough for it not to appear as radical a revolution as it is.

*VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED FOR THE FOLLOWING LINKS

Behold Satan’s wolves: attempting to desecrate a Cathedral in Argentina, stopped only by the fortitude of truly valiant Catholics here . Here in Barcelona militant feminists angrily and noisily picketed Cathedrals during Mass in Sabadell, Terassa and in Central Barcelona. An elderly Spanish Cardinal, who baptised a member of the family I am living with, was harassed, assaulted and abused by semi-naked members of the feminist group FEMEN in Madrid as he attempted to enter a parish to offer Holy Mass. The United Nations, in an act of the most outrageous arrogance and hypocrisy has criticised the Church for not protecting children while simultaneously urging her to bless the holocaust of the unborn.

The list goes on and on, but what is clear is that The Church is under ferocious attack from without (attacks from within are for another post for another day) and action must be taken. Among a thousand other things that should be done, I believe the time has come for the minor order of The Ostiariate, or Porter, to be revived.

In the Old Testament Levites were appointed to keep the gates of the tabernacle and later of the temple; they also had charge of the sacred vessels (1 Paral. 9, 26). The sacredness of the house of God in the New Testament and of the vessels used for the celebration of the divine mysteries calls for at least the same care and safekeeping. The ostiarii were the doorkeepers or porters of the church. The word is derived from the Latin ostium, meaning the door.

The office was of special importance during the times of persecution (and is more relevant than ever today). Reliable men were needed to inform the faithful of the time and place of the divine services, to open and lock the doors, to keep out undesirables. In later times the ringing of bells sufficed for the purpose of informing the faithful of the time of the divine services, since there was no further need of informing them of the place.

During the conferral of the order of porter (which was only given to tonsured clerics under the 1917 code of Canon Law) the following was said by the Bishop to the candidates:

Dearly beloved sons, you are about to receive the order of porter. Behold what you must do in the house of God. The duty of the porter is to ring the bells, to open the church and sacristy, and to open the book for the preacher. Take good care, therefore, lest anything in the church perish through your negligence. Open the house of God to the faithful at the appointed hours, and always shut it to unbelievers.
As you open and shut with material keys the visible church, let it also be your endeavor by your word and example to shut to the devil and open to God the invisible house of God, namely, the hearts of the faithful, that they may keep in mind the word of God which they have heard and carry it out in deed. May the Lord in His mercy accomplish this in you.

We need Porters to shut the doors of our churches to any and all who would seek to desecrate and disrupt, and welcome in those who seek the Grace and charity of Our Blessed Lord. Obviously we lack the necessary number of clerics to do this in every church and oratory, so until that day comes, sufficiently able lay men and boys could deputise ( in the same way Altar boys deputise for Acolytes). In this way we will be able once more to afford real protection to the Prince of Peace, truly present in the Blessed Sacrament, who stands opposed to the war Satan and his angels are waging against his Bride, the Church. What a horrendous caricature of a loving, feminine, bride these “feminists'” and their actions have turned out to be.

We must shut the doors to keep the Lord’s flock in – and the wolves out!

LDS

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What is a free nation?

AMDG

What is a free nation? We are moved to ask this question because of the extraordinary confusion of thought upon the subject which prevails in this country, due principally to the pernicious and misleading newspaper garbage upon which the British public has been fed for the past twenty-five years.
Our daily newspapers have done all that human agencies could do to confuse the public mind upon the question of what the essentials of a free nation are, what a free nation must be, and what a nation cannot submit to lose without losing its title to be free.
It is because of this extraordinary newspaper-created ignorance that we find so many people under the belief that through renegotiation of EU treaties, Britain will attain the status of a free nation, and that therefore the relations between Britain and the rest of the European Union have at last been placed upon the satisfactory basis of freedom. Britain and the other EU member states, they have been told, are now sister nations, joined in the bond of a European community, but each enjoying equal liberties—the equal liberties of nations equally free.
Successive British governments, which at every stage of the game have been outwitted and bulldozed by the Commission and the Eurocrats, which have surrendered nearly every point and yielded nearly every advantage to the skilful campaign of the unaccountable European political class in times of growth, behaved in equally as cowardly and treacherous a manner in the crisis of depression.

The ConservativeParty has said: “We will prove ourselves fit to be in the European Union by defending it in the hope that after the next election is over we will get reform.” And the rulers of the EU say: “Well, you know we can’t do that, but send out your candidates to fight for us, and we will, ahem, consider your request later.” Whereat, all the Conservative leaders and their press call the world to witness that they have won a wonderful victory! Our Parliamentarians treat Great Britain, their country, as an old prostitute selling her soul for the promise of favours to come, and in the spirit of that conception of their country they are conducting their political campaign.
That they should be able to do so with even the partial success that for a while attended their apostasy was possible only because so few in Britain really understood the answer to the question that stands at the head of this article.
What is a free nation? A free nation is one which possesses absolute control over all its own internal resources and powers, and which has no restriction upon its intercourse with all other nations similarly circumstanced except the restrictions placed upon it by nature. Is that the case of Britain? If Cameron’s proposed reforms of the EU were in operation would that be the case of Britain? To both questions the answer is: no, most emphatically, NO! A free nation must have complete control over its own borders, to open them or close them at will, or shut out any commodity, or allow it to enter in, just as it seemed best to suit the well-being of its own people, and in obedience to their wishes, and entirely free of the interference of any other nation, and in complete disregard of the wishes of any other nation. Short of that power no nation possesses the first essentials of freedom.
Does Britain possess such control? No. Will the proposed reforms give such control over British borders to Britain? It will not. Britain must open its borders when it suits the interests of another state, the EU, and must shut its Borders when it suits the interests of another state, the EU; and the The proposed “reform” pledges Britain to accept this loss of national control forever.
How would you like to live in a house if the keys of all the doors of that house were in the pockets of a rival of yours who had often robbed you in the past? Would you be satisfied if he told you that he and you were going to be friends for ever more, but insisted upon you signing an agreement to leave him control of all your doors, and custody of all your keys? This is the condition of Britain today, and will be the condition of Britain under Cameron and Hague’s precious “Renegotiation”.
A free nation must have full power to nurse industries to health, either by government encouragement or by government prohibition of the sale of goods of foreign rivals. It may be foolish to do either, but a nation is not free unless it has that power, as all free nations in the world have today. Britain has no such power, will have no such power under a renegotiated EU settlement. The nourishing of industries in Britain hurts EU profiteers, therefore this power is expressly withheld from Britain.
A free nation must have full power to alter, amend, or abolish or modify the laws under which the property of its citizens is held in obedience to the demand of its own citizens for any such alteration, amendment, abolition, or modification. Every free nation has that power; Britain does not have it, and is not allowed it by any feasible reforms to the EU.
It is recognised today that it is upon the wise treatment of economic power and resources, and upon the wise ordering of social activities that the future of nations depends. That nation will be the richest and happiest which has the foresight to marshal the most carefully its natural resources to national ends. But Britain is denied this power, and will be denied it under a renegotiated EU. Britain’s rich natural resources, and the kindly genius of its children, are not to be allowed to combine for the satisfaction of British wants, save in so far as their combination can operate on lines approved of by the members of the European Commission and the attendant bureaucracy.
Her communications, her technology, her customs and excise, her taxation and expenditure, her fighting forces, her relations with other nations, her merchant commerce, her property relations, her national activities, her legislative sovereignty—all the things that are essential to a nation’s freedom are denied to Britain now, and are denied to her under the provisions of Cameron’s phoney “reform”.
There is not a Swiss patriot who would not prefer to see his country devastated by war a hundred times rather than accept as a settlement for Switzerland what Cameron and Hague have proposed for Britain. Have we British been fashioned in meaner clay than the Swiss?
And yet the EU as a “nation” is, so to speak, but a creation of yesterday—an artificial product of the schemes of statesmen. Whereas, the frontiers of The British Isles, the ineffaceable marks of the separate existence of Britain, are as old as Europe itself, the handiwork of the Almighty, not of politicians. And as the marks of Britain’s separate nationality were not made by politicians so they cannot be unmade by them.
As the separate individual is to the family, so the separate nation is to humanity. The perfect family is that which best draws out the inner powers of the individual, the most perfect world is that in which the separate existence of nations is held most sacred. There can be no perfect Europe in which Britain is denied even the least of its national rights; there can be no worthy Britain whose children brook tamely such denial. If such denial has been accepted by soulless slaves of politicians then it must be repudiated by British men and women whose souls are still their own.
The peaceful progress of the future requires the possession by Britain of all the national rights now denied to her. Only in such possession can the people of Britain see stability and security for the fruits of their toil and organisation. A destiny not of our fashioning has chosen this generation as the one called upon for the supreme act of self-sacrifice—to die if need be that our Nation might live in freedom.
Are we worthy of the choice? Only by our response to the call can that question be answered.

(Written almost a century ago, this powerful essay (with some tweaks in order to apply it to modern political discourse in Britain, but which in substance remains unchanged) by James Connolly is more relevant today than ever before. It is a damning criticism of the European Union that Hannan and Farage could be proud of, and should also serve to chide the modern europhilic left – it was written by a Socialist, James Connolly! )

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Les Miserables – and Those Less Miserable

AMDG               Les Miserables – and Those Less Miserable

Ok, it has been quite a while since I last posted on this blog, and my apologies, I have recently uprooted to Sant Cugat, a suburb of Barcelona, for the year to teach conversational English in a wonderful Opus Dei school before I begin my undergraduate degree at Edinburgh University next year. I hope to have regular posts from now on.

When reflecting on the Gospel a few months ago (as one might expect, in The Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite) in particular upon the parable of the prodigal son, I confess I drifted off (Mea Culpa) into a state of what a kind soul might describe as prayerfulness (a more honest soul would say daydreaming) during the homily. Having assisted with a penny catechism class at St. Cadoc’s Parish in Newton Mearns, Glasgow, I brushed up on a number of things, including a basic theology of Grace. I am still fumbling somewhat with this difficult subject, and I will happily correct any doctrinal errors or inaccuracies, but I am doing my best

With this in mind, it occurred to me how Jean Valjean in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables is a literary portrayal of the Prodigal Son, and revealed a very sharp distinction between Catholic and Protestant views of Human nature and of Grace. The following may very well be a standard reading of it, and this post may wind up being a series of platitudes, but it struck me rather deeply.

****Spoiler Alert!

Context: Valjean, imprisoned for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread, is out on parole but has become harsh and greedy. Nonetheless, Bishop Myriel welcomes him into his home, feeds him and gives him a bed for the night. He steals the silver of this model Priest and flees into the night. He is caught, but instead of having him imprisoned the Bishop forgives him and has him released. Valjean goes on to break his parole and is pursued doggedly by the merciless Inspector Javert.

Javert represents the protestant doctrine of Total Depravity, that man after the fall is inclined by nature to serve his own will and desires and to reject the rule of God. Even religion and philanthropy are wicked in the eyes of God because they originate from a selfish human desire and are not done for the glory of God. Therefore, in this theology, if God is to save anyone then God must pre-destine, call, or elect individuals to salvation since fallen man does not want to and is indeed incapable of, choosing God. In Javert’s eyes Valjean by his crime has shown that he has rejected the law of God, that he has fallen permanently and irreversibly. Since he is not one of the righteous elect he therefore does not bear the image and likeness of God, but is wicked and cannot change. It explains his attempts to so utterly destroy Valjean. It is also, if you will allow me an expression of sentiment, seems to be a rather dark, cruel and miserable theology.

This is in stark contrast to the Bishop who pleads for Valjean before his accusers and offers him the gift of precious silver, his greatest possession, saying:

“Forget not, never forget, that you have promised me to use this silver to become an honest man…Jean Valjean, my brother: you belong no longer to evil but to good. It is your soul that I am buying for you. I withdraw it from darkness and from the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God!”

The Bishop has ransomed him his life, and his very soul, by this sacrifice and free gift of what is most precious. This is a clear allegory with Christ’s Holy Sacrifice on Calvary, and through it the grace that he freely offers to us again and again as unworthy sinners. It is also worth noting that the Bishop gifts him silver – not gold or jewels, but silver – changing
this symbol of Judas’ betrayal to one of redemption, signifying God’s truly awesome power, who alone can invert evil to bring about good. With silver Valjean becomes an honest and prosperous man almost unrecognisable to his former self – but the silver alone can do nothing, it has to build upon Jean Valjean. So too with grace, it must build upon nature, and we must accept it.

The Bishop is an instrument of God’s grace, and a model Priest ( he reminds me of Pope Francis in many ways) and herein lies another distinction between Catholic and Protestant – Protestants believe they can find grace solely through the Bible, which seems to be limiting God’s omnipotence by implying he cannot utilise all of his creation for the salvation of souls – be it Holy Water or Rosaries, that when used with devotion, point us to God and urge us to constantly inwardly dispose ourselves to God’s will, and are themselves instruments of Grace.

I think it is why Catholics (particularly in stereotypes) find it easier to live a Gospel of joy, because we are surrounded by reflections of the beauty of God which can help lead us to Christ and to our Salvation, not depraved and untrustworthy ruins of a once good creation. Without grace Catholics would indeed be a most sad people. So let us pray for Protestants that with the grace of God they may be converted from Les Miserables to those less miserable folk, Catholics. And pray that God will in his mercy supply grace to each and every one of us, who always in need of God’s grace and mercy.

Da Robur, Fer Auxilium.

LDS

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Men of Faith and Daring

AMDG             Men of Faith and Daring

                               “My religion you will never snatch away!”

“The dominating notes in the careers which are sketched in this volume were high character and heroic action, exhibited in harmonious unity. The various chapters tell of men whose days were full of thrilling and often perilous incident, encountered cheerfully and bravely in the interest of the great cause to which they had devoted themselves. Men born in different epochs of the world, in lands far apart, and representing different types of character are found in this little gallery of sketches; the bond that unites them and makes the society of all congenial to each – so to speak – is their manly saintliness, their brave, unceasing endeavours for the true happiness of their fellows and the glory of God.”

That is the start of the preface of a book called ‘Men of Faith and Daring‘ by W.G.Berry, a story book about various men down the ages, including St. Ambrose, which tells of tremendous feats of courage for the propagation of the Christian faith and civilisation in order to inspire the next generation of young men. While some of them are about protestant missionaries, the message is still a good one. The very definition of Christian manliness is selfless love – not the wishy-washy emotion of Jennifer Anniston’s ‘chick flicks’ (From sappy Rom-coms, Good Lord preserve us! :p ) –  but rather unflinching sacrifice, a willingness to endure all and surrender all, even one’s very life, as Christ did in his Sacrifice on the Cross.

It brings to mind the first verse of a potent war poem and hymn which captures the essence of the true meaning of this love. The author of ‘I vow to thee my country’ always intended a double meaning to the word “country” (not just meaning Britain and her Empire) to include the heavenly country to come in the next life, and initially was going to title the poem ‘Urbs Dei’, or ‘City of God’, and it is in this way that one can best understand it when it talks of authentic love:

I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,                                                                   Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;                                                                The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,                                                   That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best,                                                                        The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,                                                             The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.

I am reminded of St. John Ogilvie, a Scottish Jesuit Priest who came back to Scotland in the darkest days of the reformation to try to counter the protestant heresy like his brother Jesuits, and minister to the few remaining underground Catholics. He risked life and limb to do so despite warnings from his fellow Jesuits about the dangers. He offered Mass and the sacraments for the faithful in the days of our persecution. He was eventually betrayed, tortured and executed for his steadfast refusal to renounce the Holy Catholic Faith. he did not falter in his stalwart defence of the Faith, not once afraid to suffer to re-evangelise the people of Scotland who had been led astray, and ultimately was martyred. He canonised as a saint  in 1976 by Pope Paul VI.

St. John Ogilvie’s last words are recorded: for the Catholic faith, he said, he would “willingly and joyfully pour forth even a hundred lives. Snatch away that one which I have from me, and make no delay about it, but my religion you will never snatch away!”         Asked whether he was afraid to die, the priest replied: “I fear death as much as you do your dinner.” St. John Ogilvie was executed by hanging on March 10, 1615. As a last gesture before his hanging, St. John had tossed his Rosary beads into the crowd where they were caught by a Calvinist nobleman. The man later became a Catholic, tracing his conversion to the incident and the martyr’s beads.

How many men today would exhibit such courageous and selfless love? Would any man you know do so? Gentlemen, would you? Such fortitude exemplifies manly virtue, high character and heroic action, exhibited in harmonious unity. St. John Ogilvie’s story is a fine example of manly saintliness, and of brave, unceasing endeavours for the true happiness of his fellows and the glory of God. It is interesting to note that St. John Ogilvie’s final act was to encourage devotion to Our Lady through the rosary. If his is an example to follow, then his devotion to Our Lady should also be imitated.

In Lourdes recently, on pilgrimage with some priests also founded to counter heresy, the Dominicans, (who jokingly claim they were much more successful than the Jesuits were at countering heresy, and they may have a point, hahaha – How many Albigensians have you met lately?) where one verse of a hymn sung commonly at Lourdes, Immaculate Mary, caught my attention:

For poor, sick, afflicted,                                                                                                                      Thy mercy we crave,                                                                                                                           O comfort the dying,                                                                                                                     Thou light of the grave.

Ave, Ave, Ave Maria!                                                                                                                     Ave, Ave, Ave Maria!

I wonder if Our Lady was one of the last things St. John Ogilvie thought of, the man who had endured torture and insult in a dreary prison and who went to his death for the One True Faith. I like to think that Our Lady, the light of the grave, was there to comfort him as he passed into Paradise. I very much hope it will not happen, but I believe that  persecution is coming again for Catholics in Scotland, not from Protestant extremists (or even from lone Albigensians :p ) but from militant secular-liberals, and that we may have to return to the catacombs and become recusants once more. I hope and pray it will not happen, but it seems increasingly likely unless something drastic happens to reverse current trends.

If it happens will there be more men of faith and daring, men who, like St. John Ogilvie before them, will stand firm in the face of adversity and have the courage to declare as he did “My Religion you will never snatch away!”?. We may need another Ogilvie.

Gentlemen, will it be you?

LDS

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As those of you who follow this blog may be aware, it is my intention to post something every week, even if it is only a short news story with commentary or an amusing Catholic Meme. Of late I have not been doing so. While I do have several commitments to employment and other obligations which leave me surprisingly little time to maintain Terror Daemonum, over the past week I confess I have found it rather hard to concentrate when I did have time. Recently a friend of mine, Catriona Lowe, died suddenly aged only 29. It has come as a real shock to all who knew her, and over the past few days whenever I find myself idle for even a moment I start thinking of, and praying for, her. She was one of the first people I shared the idea of this blog, Terror Daemonum, with, and without her encouragement I likely would not have started it. Today I served her Requiem Mass at her Parish Church in Broomhill, Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, where she was very much active in the Parish life. The Church was full to the rafters, a testament to how many lives Catriona touched. She was an extremely kind and generous young woman, a loving sister and daughter, and a dear friend, who was faithful to the last.  I ask that you join me in praying for the repose of her soul.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

340679_10150603994854727_1270571838_oCatriona Lowe, 27th March 1984 – 24th July 2013

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