Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I don't know how many people know this but the Christmas crib is a Franciscan invention. The first was built by St. Francis in the little town of Greccio on the side of a hill in the Rieti valley. Spending Christmas there in retreat Francis wanted to recreat the circumstances of the Saviour's birth so as to meditate on them. While Mass was being offered, at which Francis was deacon, the statue of the child came alive and all were deeply touched and consoled by the grace of God. From these humble beginings springs our practise of having a crib in our churches and homes. Something which must delight the little poor man of Assisi.

Below is the cave where the crib was built with the later fresco painted in commemoration of the event.

St. Francis kneels before the Christ Child:

The Virgin breast feeds the Christ with St. Joseph in contemplation in the corner:

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Zenit has the ful text of the Holy Father's talk on St. Veronica Giuliani:

St. Veronica has a markedly Christ-centered and spousal spirituality: Hers is the experience of being loved by Christ, the faithful and sincere Spouse, and of wanting to correspond with an ever more involved and impassioned love. She interpreted everything in a key of love, and this infuses in her a profound serenity. Everything is lived in union with Christ, for love of him, and with the joy of being able to demonstrate to him all the love of which a creature is capable.

The Christ to whom Veronica is profoundly united is the suffering Christ of the passion, death and resurrection; it is Jesus in the act of offering himself to the Father to save us. From this experience derives also the intense and suffering love for the Church, and the twofold way of prayer and offering. The saint lived from this point of view: She prays, suffers, seeks "holy poverty," as "dispossessed," loss of self (cf. ibid., III, 523), precisely to be like Christ, who gave his whole self.

In every page of her writings Veronica entrusts someone to the Lord, strengthening her prayers of intercession with the offering of herself in every suffering. Her heart dilated to all "the needs of the Holy Church," living with longing the desire of the salvation of "the whole world" (ibid., III-IV, passim).

Veronica cried out: "O sinners ... come to Jesus' heart; come to the cleansing of his most precious blood ... he awaits you with open arms to embrace you" (Ibid., II, 16-17). Animated by an ardent charity, she gave care, understanding and forgiveness to the sisters of the monastery. She offered her prayers and sacrifices for the Pope, her bishop, priests and for all needy persons, including the souls in Purgatory. She summarized her contemplative mission in these words: "We cannot go preaching around the world to convert souls, but we are obliged to pray continually for all those souls who are offending God ... particularly with our sufferings, that is with a principle of crucified life" (Ibid., IV, 877). Our saint conceived this mission as a "being in the middle" between men and God, between sinners and Christ Crucified.

I was in Citta de Castello some years ago and it has made a lasting impression. I have blogged about her before. A great lady, perhaps the Pope will declare her a Doctor of the Church?


The Irish Times has this report:

The European Court of Human Rights will today rule on whether Ireland’s restrictions on abortion violate women’s human rights.

The ruling, which could have significant implications for Irish abortion law, is based on a case taken by three women in Ireland who say their health was put at risk by being forced to go abroad for abortions. The court will issue its ruling at a public sitting of the court’s grand chamber this morning, rather than a more common written judgment.

This, legal observers say, reflects the gravity of the judgment. If the court rules the women’s rights were breached, it is likely the Government would be under pressure to legislate for abortion under the circumstances of the 1992 “X” case, where the Supreme Court ruled terminating a pregnancy is lawful where the life of a mother is at risk.

The Strasbourg-based court, which is separate from the EU, adjudicates on human rights issues among all 47 member states of the Council of Europe.

As a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights – now incorporated into Irish law – the Government is obliged to remedy any breaches of the convention. The identities of the women – known as A, B and C – are confidential.

One of the women, a former alcoholic whose four children were in care, feared her pregnancy would prevent her getting her children back and went to a money lender to finance the abortion in England; another – a Lithuanian national – became pregnant while undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer and feared for her health and that of her child; a third who took the morning-after pill was told by doctors the drug had failed and she ran the risk of an ectopic pregnancy, where the foetus develops outside the womb.

At a hearing last year, lawyers argued restrictions in Ireland made having an abortion abroad expensive, complicated and traumatic. In particular, they argued restrictions stigmatised and humiliated them and risked damaging their health and, in one applicant’s case, her life.

The Government, however, robustly defended the State’s positions and argued that Ireland’s abortion laws were based on “profound moral values deeply embedded in Irish society”. Attorney General Paul Gallagher argued that the European Convention on Human Rights had consistently recognised the traditions of different countries regarding the rights of unborn children.

Please pray that this Court's ruling goes the right way (though I'm not holding my breath). Considering how they decided on the issue of the crucifixes in Italian classrooms one could expect them to take a liberal stance.


According to the BBC the court has ruled against Ireland. No surprise there. It is interesting that the women argued that they 'feared' injury or death because of their pregnancies (in Ireland which has the lowest maternal mortality in the world).

It was said at the last amendment that this challenge would come and here it is. If abortion gets in then euthanasia and other crimes against life will follow eventually as society becomes deadened to the sanctity of life. Our Lord warned us that hearts would grow cold. Cold some hearts already are and only too willing to condemn others to death. This in a Europe where the population is already well under the replacement rate. The culture of death is a symptom of the slow suicide of western civilization; a suicide rooted in the denial of God.

Simon's Cat at Christmas

On a lighter note has this from Simon's Cat. I love these. Very funny.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Apart from the report on developments among the Legionaries of Christ there is news of Turkish and Kurdish Muslim persecution of the Mor Gabriel monastery (Syrian Oriental Orthodox). The Turkish Government, having long refused to let them register their ownership (they've been there since 397) is trying to seize their land. This is another reason why Turkey is not a suitable candidate for admission to the European Union. Things are bad enough as they are.

Please remember them in your prayers and protest to the Turkish Government!

Monday, December 6, 2010


This little video I found at Gloria.tv just goes to show that high ethical standards and fine oratory have not yet died in Ireland (though our leaders may give little evidence of the same). This young lady certainly presents her case and exposes another side of the corruption in Ireland: a callous disregard for the sanctity of life from the very people who are so swift to identify themselves with the high moral ground when it suits them. It should come as no surprise to anyone that the media do not cover these issues.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Between the school being closed by the ice and snow and the friary having no internet connection (and probably won't have one until after Christmas when we move in) this is my only time to surf and blog. The weather is practically a mirror for the economic conditions - cold and unpredictable.

It's hard to believe but the politicians voted themselves a 5% increase in their expenses for next year's Dail budget. Cutting the minimum wage and increasing their expenses is that evidence that our leaders have really grasped the situation or are taking it seriously? With all the debate about whether we got the deal we could have there's little to build one's confidence that our leaders know what they are doing. Still this country, like many others, has survived plague, famine, war and persecution, poverty and the long and persistent attempt to wipe out our culture. We're still here and we can survive this crisis, with or without our politicians.

In Britain the bishops are debating whether to restore fasting and penance on Fridays. Some argue that this is externalism. Surely one cannot really separate the external and the internal for long? One, if genuine, will surely express itself through the other. Something needs to be done to express our sorrow for the sins of our nation and in particular sins against children. At the moment one could be forgiven for thinking the bishops are hoping it will just go away.


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