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Wednesday 29 February 2012

Ireland No More

Travelling in the countryside of Ireland is going back in time. One cannot find the usual amenities of the city or even the towns of more advanced countries. Now, this can be an advantage or a disadvantage. For one who is trying to "get away" from the rat-race, Ireland, even Dublin, is a perfect holiday. For finding the simple life of daily Mass, Adoration and good, long walks in the rain, Ireland is a good place.

But, sadly, the personality of the people has changed. A friend of mine, who is Irish, moved to the States for about fifteen years and recently returned. He told me on Sunday, that when he returned a few years ago, he hardly recognized the country. It was not the usual sort of complaint, such as too much technology, as that is not the case here. It is not even the ostentatious wealth.(I have never seen so many Mercedes-Benz in such small communities, either seaside or even agricultural towns and villages, as I have here. And, I lived in West Kensington, in London.)

The change happened in the people themselves. The Irish hospitality to those from the outside is gone. The sense of humor we all have come to love and cherish is fading fast. And, the many local crafts and   traditional factories, which produced high-quality Irish goods, again, so prized among American housewives and families, are gone.

Another problem is the over-abundance of entertainment and pubs. I live near a pub, which is open daily until 3:30 am, and packed. I come from the Bible-belt in Iowa and where I come from, this would be seen as excessive dissipation. It is. And, if a populace is working, how can they be in the pub so late?  The pride of place and the pride of local work is gone. There is no sense of real community, and the work and Faith which held these towns and villages together like glue have faded away.

I went to Notre Dame, and at the time, the gift shop was full of items made in Ireland. No more. I worked in Anchorage, Alaska, and knew a woman and her husband who had a fanstastic Irish import shop. They sold china, lace, hats, scarves, sweaters, rosaries, ties, you name it--all made in Ireland. No more. One has to go to the far-West of Ireland to find the real deal. I went into shops in Dublin, including cloths shops. Everything was imported. The talents of generations has been lost. This is all due to the EU.

Another loss is the influence of the priests. Now, I do not blame the priests for this, but the people themselves. They have fallen into the socialist mind-set that the government can and should do everything for the populace.

The noisy politicians are more Marxist than Catholic. The schools, catechesis and pulpit miss opportunities for teaching the real message of the Catholic Church. It is so sad. I am daily meeting adults who have had no adult catechesis and where there is no Bible or CCC in the house.

The soul of the country seems to be in great need of spiritual food as well. Now, my friends here are Latin Mass Catholics, a breed among breeds, hospitable, kind, prayerful, even deep spiritually. They are a minority here in that their children are going to Mass. They do more than the Sunday required Mass. They pray at home and with their spouses. They fast. But, they are so few, so few. This is the spiritual revolution Ireland needs. But, I am afraid, it is no longer Ireland. The Catholic Church was the life-blood of these good people. The blood is anemic.

Jesus Christ and the United Nations

Pakistan has outlawed the Name Jesus Christ from twitters and cell messages. In order to give glory to Allah, who obviously is not God the Father, who is glorified in and with His Son, the Holy Name must not be used, typed, sent.

This law passed in Pakistan last year in November, but it is becoming an issue now as the United Nations (see my post below) is beginning to interfere with freedom of speech by supporting Islamic countries which as applying sharia law to cell phone use.

This topic has been ignored by the media. I have only seen this discussed in some Catholic newspapers and on WND last year. Why the silence? Why the support in the UN for such restrictive laws as coming out of Pakistan and China with regard to freedom of speech?

Those who are silent agree with these restrictions. And, going further than that, to uphold the so-called sovereignty of repressive regimes, which are gaining more influence in the UN, the sharia laws will be upheld in courts across the world.

Wake up, America. Our own government has said nothing on these restrictions.

Tuesday 28 February 2012

Monastery Attacked in Syria

According to the Catholic Archbishop of Damascus, maronite Samir Nassar, the situation in the country is spiraling out of control as the armed opposition spreads its influence to different regions of the state.

This is a report from the great Spencer. Out and out persecution of monks has happened in Syria. Dear God, please watch over our brothers and sisters in the Middle East. The article is also here.

Perfection Part Six-The Teresas

Continuing the series on perfection, I have switched temporarily from Garrigou-Lagrange to the Interior Castle of St. Teresa of Avila. In this book, St. Teresa refers to the enlargement of the heart. Quoting Prime, Teresa writes, “Cum dilatasti cor meum. When thou shalt englarge my heart”, from Psalm 119. She notes that it is not in consolations, or the “spiritual sweetness” that the heart if made larger, more capable of Love. She is writing about the characteristics of the Fourth Mansion, a state commonly attained by serious Catholics. This is the stage of pursuing one's heart's desire, not through thinking, but through loving. Teresa writes a curious sentence: “So then do whatever most en-flames your heart to love.” Those who have reflected and learned some ways of meditative prayer, and even contemplation may find this an odd statement. Teresa is encouraging the enlargement of the heart through and in Love, the pursuit of Love. She is very keen to point out that most people might not even know what Love is, and I capitalize Love, as to me, it is a Person and not a feeling. Teresa states that joy does not start in the heart, but in the will, in the desire to please God and not to offend Him. Like a good bride who defers to her husband, Teresa knows that Love is in the Will, and not in some pursuit of feelings or consolations. That the will is connected to the dilation or enlargement of the heart is a mysterious movement of the Holy Spirit, bringing the person to an awareness that the life of God springs up spontaneously, not through effort, but through Love.

And, what is it that attracts Love to the heart through the will? Humility. Teresa makes it very clear that only the humble come to this well of interior life springing up and nourishing the soul. Only those who Love Love without self-interest, without expectation, experience humility. It is as if one must see one's self as the only person on the street, in a shop, going up the stairs in a flat, loving God just for the sake of loving Him and for no other reason.

Sometimes, I play a little game of Love. When I am in a small, ordinary place, like walking to the shops, or sitting on the bus, I think, “God, there is one small person in …..who is loving You.”
For awhile, I lived on top of a high set of flats, with no elevator. I had to walk up many flights of stairs, and if I had bags of groceries, it was hard. I would stop at the top of each flight and say, “Jesus, there is one person climbing the stairs, in …..who is loving You. There is one person at 2:00 in the afternoon, who is thinking only of You.” Joy flows from these little acts of the Will, the joy which Teresa states comes not from the heart, but from the depths of one's being.

Little things lead to Love and if one is humble and realizes that one only has little things to offer, joy follows. Humility, taking the small and offering to God, is also the Little Way of St. Theresa, the Little Flower, and here, the two Teresas overlap. The third step in this way of Love is to desire suffering. This separates us from the pagans, who at all costs, want to avoid suffering. If one truly loves someone, does not one want to share in the suffering of that person in order to relieve the loneliness and isolation, which suffering causes? The Little Flower wrote of the “unfelt joy”. This is the joy which does not console. It is a type of infused knowledge that one is suffering in and with Christ, without the consolations. Again, this wells up from an interior life of grace, freely given, but available to all, not some.

The last point in these steps to real enlargement of the heart is detachment, totally, from all things and all people and even, all places. Teresa writes that self-denial must be real. It cannot be a pretence. We must even be willing not to receive grace, if that is God's desire. To be holy only in so far as He has decided that for us. We need to be completely detached even from holiness.

There is a freedom given in all of this, which allows one to have a sense of salvation, through the mercy of God, not through deeds. Such freedom leads one to be bold in God, to evangelize just by being, to recollect immediately, to have discernment and to give peace to others in mysterious ways. So, is the heart enlarged to love all, but mostly to Love Love.

If one is in grace, one can trust the movements of the Holy Spirit. Going to Mass and Confession regularly increases personal discernment. When Teresa writes, “So then do whatever most en-flames your heart to love,” she is encouraging us to follow our heart, minds, and wills to follow the vocation, the way God has chosen for us. Garrigou-Lagrange believes this call to holiness and intense intimacy with God is for all Catholics. In following one's way, in humility and peace, God works His Will in each person to lead one to perfection. This is a real possibility. The Gospel challenge from Christ Himself, “Be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect” is for all of us. To be continued.

Catholic Families and Holiness

Families and holiness is a topic rarely taught either in the classroom or from the pulpit. Now, many good priests speak of the importance of family prayers, family catechesis, Catholic education, and even discipline in the home. But the topic of a family being holy and passing down a heritage of holiness is a subject I have never heard discussed or presented. One could list families wherein the parents, children, siblings, uncles, aunts were all saints. What do I mean specifically?

Every family has charisms. Some families produce generations of medical professionals, such as doctors. Some families pass down a tendency toward the legal profession and even politics. For example, in the American presidency, we have has families which have created civil servants, and the idea of leadership. Some families produce generations of writers, journalists, painters, architects, and we say, in conversation, that “it is in the blood”. The same is true of holiness.

If one looks at the history of certain countries, one can see traces of this heritage of holiness in particular families. St. Basil, below, came from a family of saints, as did St. Etheldreda, the patron of this blog. St.Therese, above, had holy parents, and St. Thomas More, below, produced a family of unusual holiness through several generations. This is not to say that families cannot produce a terrible sinner, or a saint unique to the line, but it seems that strong Catholics beget strong Catholics. The entire idea of the organisation of the old Medieval class system and the passing down of inherited talents may have stifled some people, but offered a continuity of vocations as well.

Many years ago on the BBC a series called By the Sword Divided followed the supposed history of a family during the English Civil War, wherein some members stayed Catholic and some became Puritans. This Cavalier/Puritan division in the series was not presented merely as a simple choice of religious persuasion, but depicted a complicated set of motivations for certain members taking the sides, and even betraying kith and kin, for the “cause”.

What struck me about the narration, and also the history of recusancy in England, was the heritage of stubborn loyalty to the Church in the face of fines, imprisonment and even death It was as if the charism “in the blood” was heroism, even holiness.

Have we lost that as Catholics? Has the blood been so diluted, and the “cause” been so forgotten that families have not passed down the passion, the heritage, even the genes for martyrdom? I challenge Catholics to read these types of stories to their children and for the old families to seriously look at their heritage of Faith to see if the inheritance has been passed down and, if not, why not? The Church is made up of people. People come from families which form the characters from early childhood. I would hate to think that the passing on of heroism has ended.

Monday 27 February 2012

Prayer for Lent

Here is St. Francis of Assisi's prayer, which is perfect for Lent.

Adoramus te, sanctissime Domine Iesu Christe, hic et ad omnes Ecclesias tuas, quae sunt in toto mundo, et benedicimus tibi; quia per sanctam Crucem tuam redemisti
mundum. Amen.

We adore Thee, most holy Lord Jesus Christ 
here and in all Thy churches that are in
the whole world,
We adore Thee,
and we bless Thee; because by Thy Holy Cross Thou hast redeemed
the World. Amen.

And, about more martyrs

Directions are on link below
Many years ago, when I lived in England, I worked very near Tyburn Convent and would pop in there for prayers. This convent of contemplatives was founded in France, but set-up this convent just footsteps away from the terrible place of butchery, which saw the martyrdom of so many saints. Edmund Campion, Ralph Sherwin, John Roberts, Margaret Ward, Oliver Plunkett, John Houghton and his Carthusian Companions, and many more. I have not been to the convent for many years, so I do not know if the part of the gallows in still in the chapel, as it was when I visited so long ago. However, if you are in the area, go and pray near the place where so many of the Church Militant, now Church Triumphant, entered into glory. Ironically, the convent had to be moved from France during the religious persecutions there in the early 20th century. May we never forget those nuns and priests, and laypeople who suffered for the Faith. May our own hearts and minds be ready for such days.

St. Valentine's Relics in Dublin

This was a secret to me until this weekend, when I attended Mass at the Carmelite Church in Dublin at Whitefriar's. An Irish Carmelite, Fr. John Sprat, known for his amazing preaching, was given a gift from the Pope after the priest had preached there. Pope Gregory XVI gave the phenomenal priest a small, lead-lined casket with some on the organs and a vial of blood from St. Valentine. The casket has an inscription on the top with the details of the contents and the presentation, as well as the testimony of the eleemosynary as to the authenticity of the relics. In 1836, in a huge procession on November 10th, the casket was taken into the Carmelite Church and the Archbishop,  Murray of Dublin, received the beautiful casket. Over the years, in wreckovations, and because the casket is so heavy, it was removed from a place of honor and put into the sacristy, where I saw it. I was allowed to touch the casket and pray over the holy relics. 

I would ask those who have a love of the Carmelites and St. Valentine, to help the Carmelites restore a shrine worthy of this saint.  Here is the accompanying note which came with the casket and it engraved on the top, from the Carmelite website

St Valentine


We, Charles, by the divine mercy, Bishop of Sabina of the Holy Roman Church, cardinal Odescalchi arch priest of the sacred Liberian Basilica, Vicar General of our most Holy Father the Pope and Judge in ordinary of the Roman Curia and of its districts, etc., etc.


To all and everyone who shall inspect these our present letters, we certify and attest, that for the greater glory of the omnipotent God and veneration of his saints, we have freely given to the Very Reverend Father Spratt, Master of Sacred Theology of the Order of Calced Carmelites of the convent of that Order at Dublin, in Ireland, the blessed body of St Valentine, martyr, which we ourselves by the command of the most Holy Father Pope Gregory XVI on the 27th day of December 1835, have taken out of the cemetery of St Hippolytus in the Tiburtine Way, together with a small vessel tinged with his blood and have deposited them in a wooden case covered with painted paper, well closed, tied with a red silk ribbon and sealed with our seals and we have so delivered and consigned to him, and we have granted unto him power in the Lord, to the end that he may retain to himself, give to others, transmit beyond the city (Rome) and in any church, oratory or chapel, to expose and place the said blessed holy body for the public veneration of the faithful without, however, an Office and Mass, conformably to the decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, promulgated on the 11th day of August 1691.


In testimony whereof, these letters, testimonial subscribed with our hand, and sealed with our seal, we have directed to be expedited by the undersigned keeper of sacred relics.


Rome, from our Palace, the 29th day of the month of January 1836.


C.Cardinal vicar

Regd. Tom 3. Page 291


Philip Ludovici Pro-Custos


Saturday 25 February 2012

Prayer for Priests, Seven

Prayer for Holy Priests

My Dear Jesus, you desire that we pray the Lord of the harvest that He send zealous laborers into His harvest. Deign to raise up in your Church, and especially in this diocese, numerous and holy priests who, taking your Divine Heart as their Model, will, in the exercise of their holy priesthood, promote the glory of your heavenly Father and the salvation of those souls whom you have redeemed with your Precious Blood. Give us truly holy priests who, inflamed with the fire of your Divine love, seek nothing but your greater glory and the salvation of souls.

O Mary, Queen of the clergy, pray for us; obtain for us a number of holy priests.

Psalm 107 Have Faith in God and Be Grateful

107:1 O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

107:2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;

107:3 And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south.

107:4 They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in.

107:5 Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.

107:6 Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.

107:7 And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.

107:8 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

107:9 For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.

107:10 Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron;

107:11 Because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High:

107:12 Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help.

107:13 Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses.

107:14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder.

107:15 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

107:16 For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder.

107:17 Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted.

107:18 Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death.

107:19 Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses.

107:20 He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.

107:21 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

107:22 And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.

107:23 They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;

107:24 These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.

107:25 For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.

107:26 They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.

107:27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit's end.

107:28 Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.

107:29 He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.

107:30 Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.

107:31 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

107:32 Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

107:33 He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground;

107:34 A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.

107:35 He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into watersprings.

107:36 And there he maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation;

107:37 And sow the fields, and plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of increase.

107:38 He blesseth them also, so that they are multiplied greatly; and suffereth not their cattle to decrease.

107:39 Again, they are minished and brought low through oppression, affliction, and sorrow.

107:40 He poureth contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness, where there is no way.

107:41 Yet setteth he the poor on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock.

107:42 The righteous shall see it, and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth.

107:43 Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.

Prayer for Priests, Six

In memory of Paula, who prayed for priests all her life...

O Almighty and Eternal God, look upon the Face of Thy Christ, and for love of Him Who is the eternal High-priest, have pity on Thy priests. Remember, O most compassionate God, that they are but weak and frail human beings. Stir up in them the grace of their vocation which is in them by the imposition of the Bishop's hands. Keep them close to Thee, lest the enemy prevail against them, so that they may never do anything in the slightest degree unworthy of their sublime vocation.
O Jesus, I pray Thee for Thy faithful and fervent priests; for Thy unfaithful and tepid priests; for Thy priests laboring at home or abroad in distant mission fields; for Thy tempted priests; for Thy lonely and desolate priests; for Thy young priests; for Thy aged priests; for Thy sick priests; for Thy dying priests; for the souls of Thy priests in Purgatory.
But above all I commend to Thee the priests dearest to me: the priest who baptized me; the priests at whose Masses I assisted and who gave me Thy Body and Blood in Holy Communion; the priests who taught and instructed or helped me and encouraged me; all the priests to whom I am indebted in any other way, particularly (your priest’s name here). O Jesus, keep them all close to Thy heart, and bless them abundantly in time and in eternity. Amen. Mary, Queen of the clergy, pray for us; obtain for us many and holy priests. Amen.

Friday 24 February 2012

Lenten Recipes for those not eating meat and some non-dairy

As one who was a Byzantine Catholic, it was important for me to develop meatless, egg-less and dairy-less recipes for the long forty days of fasting. Even after leaving the Ukrainian community, I kept the fast in my family. I thought I would share a few simple recipes for those who are wondering what to cook in Lent. Most are easy, as I was a working mum. My motto was if I can do it the day before and heat it up, such as with soup and chili, that was great. But, most of these take less than 45 minutes.

Vegetable Tortilla and Fish Wraps
One may use any fish, such as cod, sea bass, white fish, or tuna fillets: if you have a party outside Lent, use salmon fillets for a treat. By the way, I never fry fish, but lightly grill or broil it. Broil fish or use grill with a small amount of olive oil

Take green spinach wraps and place fish in wraps
add spring onions and ground pepper to taste

Add either green chili sauce, or red chili sauce on top. Picante sauce was a favourite in the family.

Serve with fresh tomatoes and Parmesan cheese on the dairy day.

Lentils and Leeks
Cook either red or brown lentils, drain well
Add ground pepper, sauteed onions (in olive oil- no dairy), and a bit of coriander seed, paprika,
parsley and thyme. I put rosemary in everything--see below on herbs.

Cut up leeks and fry in olive oil.

Serve with fresh bread and olive oil and chili pepper bread dip or humus and pita bread, if there is no dairy in the humus. You will notice we eat a lot of pita bread, or we would make Naan bread during Lent.

Red beets, brown rice and nuts with vegetables but not mixed, please...
Buy red beets.  Boil fresh beets. Drain and cut in slices. Cool and marinate with balsamic vinegar.

Barely cook celery, red and green peppers,  and carrots as well separately. Saute onions or use fresh spring onions. Use olive oil. Carrots may be omitted.

Make brown rice and drain as usual. Choose nuts which are low in strong tastes, such as walnuts and not peanuts or pine nuts. Chop up nuts and add celery, peppers, onions, carrots, all lightly sauteed in oil above. Do not overcook veggies. Spice with pepper, rosemary, basil, and mint. Serve beets on the side with balsamic vinegar or if marinated as suggested, better. Serve cooked veggies on top of rice. I used sea salt on veggies, but never cook with salt.

Serve with pita bread and olives, and if it is a dairy day, use feta cheese with pita bread. You can cheat and buy ready-made red beets in vinegar or pickled beets. Also, can serve with raita--family favourite--with the pita or Naan bread.

Greek Salad
Use romaine and red leaf lettuce or a mixture of spring greens. Cut up assortment of olives, spring onions, even small pickled onions. Add feta cheese and pine nuts, or if allergic to pine nuts, use walnuts.

Lightly toss with olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Serve with garlic bread if is a non-dairy day made with oil, not butter

Or, serve with vegetable soup mix below.

Asian Lettuce and Vegetable Soup for Lent
Use non-meat stock made with butter beans and haricot beans in large soup pot.
Use carrots, celery and red potatoes as wanted, but potatoes are optional in this Asian-like soup--add kale shredded so that it breaks down, or for a stronger taste, use Asian Mix Lettuce. Use one large onion. Two to three bay leaves. One can also use a little bit of lemon grass, but not too much.
I usually make this the day before I serve it so that the flavors have a chance to set.
Add garlic, rosemary,  turmeric, pepper, and ginger. Paprika may also be used.

Meatless Chili
Make day before serving and cook in large soup pot
Use fresh kidney beans and fresh navy beans. Two large onions. Cook well with garlic, cinnamon, oregano, paprika, chili, marjoram, cumin and pepper to taste. I also throw in several bay leaves.
Add to large soup pot, one even tablespoon unsweetened cocoa. Use two large cans tomatoes and two cans tomato paste.  The longer it cooks, the better it tastes. If you use less water, you may put this chili on a baked potato. I usually made it as chili soup, with more water.

Serve with crackers and cheese, if a dairy day, or if a non-dairy day, with pita bread, lettuce, onion, and tuna. Or serve with pita chips and olives.

Tuna goes further if used as an accompaniment to another dish, such as soup and rice. Tuna can be used easily in pita bread sandwiches, with spring onions, tomatoes, (I omit cucumber, as I am allergic, but that is a possibility) and olives. Remember which day is the non-dairy. We just omitted meat entirely except for Sunday.

Hot Brie
On the dairy day, take Brie and add small amount of butter. Place under broiler for six minutes or so depending on age of Brie. Serve hot with flat bread or garlic bread. You may add nuts such as almonds. to top of Brie under the broiler, if so desire for more protein. Can serve with simple salad, as it is rich. Nice on a cold day in Lent.

A variation of the Hot Brie is to take cherry tomatoes, cover lightly in olive oil and grill, serving tomatoes on top of Brie with bread.

Cold Tomatoes and Asiago Cheese
Cut up tomatoes in slices. Cut up cheese in slices and serve on tomatoes with basil. Serve with large crusty bread slices or Bethlehem Bread, which is not the one which has yeast but the flat bread with herbs, sometimes called Holy Land Bread.

Also, we use pita bread more than any other, as well as tortillas for wraps. One does not have to buy the expensive wraps, as tortillas work just as well as the flavoured wraps.

Note: I just used French Provencal herbs for everything, including the chili and soup recipes. You can make your own up with savory, fennel, lavender, basil, and thyme and keep it in a jar for daily use. Very handy unless you want an Italian taste to your soups and chili, in which case you use the oregano and rosemary mixes. Garlic goes in everything. During Lent, herbs are more important, I think.

I shall share some curry recipes next time I do this type of posting. Meatless and dairy-less curries are easy.

I apologize for no measurements, but I never measured in my life. I cook by taste and a little bit of this and a little bit of that....

Quotation of the Day from LifeSiteNews on Abortions in England-Dog Would Be Upset with a Baby

I had my son in England almost 24 years ago. When I went for the ultra-sound in the London area, I was told that the technician could not tell me the sex of the baby in the womb, "because some women abort for reasons of gender." Now, there is an outcry. This report from LifeSiteNews highlights the hypocrisy of the abortion industry in Great Britain. When I told pro-life Catholics involved in SPUC and other groups, they denied this was happening. Why the denial? There is a crazy idea in Great Britain, and in Ireland, that just because something is illegal, it doesn't happen. It does, it has, and it will again. Sex-selection, or gender-selection causing abortions has been going on for at least a generation in Great Britain. Stop lying to yourselves, populace and pro-life workers. Here are two snippets from this disgusting information in this important article.

Stephenson’s work brings him into daily contact with abortion-minded women. He said, “One girl who came across us in Brighton told us she had an abortion because she didn’t think her dog would cope with a baby.

Since the Abortion Act was amended in 1990, there are no restrictions at all on killing children with disabilities, a change that pro-life leaders denounced as outright endorsement of eugenics. While the law states that abortions can be carried out only with the signature of two physicians, it has been revealed that most abortion facilities keep stacks of pre-signed permission forms on hand, making this “restriction” effectively meaningless.

Girl Baby, I am sure.....
One evil leads to another, leads to another....lying to one's self, and deceit are the most common evils following murders.

A Question of Skills and Interest Lacking in Ireland

An Irish Times online article in January exhibited a problem I have seen since I have been in Ireland. The technology gap is obvious even in the social sphere. I have sat in cyber-cafes where a few foreigners, non-Irish, have been the only ones with computers, or cells, online. Why? In the States, such cafes would be full of students online having coffee and discussing things. The same was true in other European countries I have visited recently-lots of cyber activity. Walking around Dublin, the capitol for several days, I have seen two middle-aged men with laptops, and no youths with such or notebooks, but plenty of young people. Even cell phones are rare. Why? Why do so many cafes not even have Wifi? In one of the most popular malls in Dublin, only one cafe has Wifi, and only for 20 minutes at a time.  I was amazed, and was perplexed until I saw a chart from 2009-2010 which indicated that out of 29 countries in technological skills, Ireland was 24th. Not good. And, the article quoted here shows me the problem-the education system is way behind the need. Is it money, or a lack of creativity, or what? I have been watching students come and go in an area with Wifi, and not one has been Irish. Let me quote the article The entire curriculum in science and technology needs creative restructuring. Not one single Irish student should be able to finish their years of schooling without knowing some basic programming. One thing is for sure: unless something is done, our poor showing in ICT, starting at schools level, will increasingly limit this nation’s creative capabilities and economic possibilities.
I suggest this has already happened. I realize that surfing the web is not programming, but the interest needs to be encouraged and the two are connected. Since 1970, when computers looked like the monster in War Games, I have worked with computers. I started with the IBM System/3 punch cards. One learned computer languages and DOS, before things got easy. What happened here? I have not met people even ten years younger than myself, much less my age, who are even basically computer savvy. I am beginning to understand why Ireland has had so many financial difficulties. Despite the world-wide downturns, the infrastructure of skilled labor must be in place. I do not see it here socially. The other problem is access. How can a capitol of a nation lack easy computer access and Wifi access for the public? If I had not spent several days in Dublin, I would have thought this phenomenon was merely a country matter, as a town I was in for some time only had the Internet in the library and in the McDonald's. But, it is not. It does not even seem to be a priority. Here and there are two more reports. Also, there is an upcoming conference advertised on this site. But, the answer is not to be found in the gaming industry, but the educational system. I realize as a teacher that the computer does not take the place of basic, old-fashioned skills such as reading, writing and arithmetic, but computer skills are necessary for competition in the business and academic worlds. The creativity of several generations may have been lost here.

Thursday 23 February 2012

When the BBC gets it wrong...

In the BBC News Magazine today, Eamonn Walsh has an article on why men become Catholic priests. He interviews a very interesting not-so-young man about his vocation. Of course, the author has to bring up the abuse scandal, which absolutely has nothing to do with the drop in vocations. Only those who understand what the Faith is truly about, a love relationship between God and a person called by God to be a priest, can really write an article on vocations. A Catholic priest is not called merely because he wants to serve people, which is one of Walsh's main points. A social worker, doctor, or teacher can do that. The lack of vocations has nothing to do with the abuse scandals, either, but about the selfishness and relativism of so many parents, who no longer encourage their sons to be priests. The lack of priests reveals the weakness of the Catholics in Great Britain. A healthy Catholic community produces priests. I know of one parish in Michigan in the States with twenty-four vocations. Vocations come from the home, from strong parenting, from prayer, and a Catholic identity in the family. That those who write about vocations do not understand this is symptomatic of the times and their own ignorance of Catholicism.

I realize that the subject of celibacy seems a mystery as well to most people in this over-sexualized world. Again, the lack of appreciation that a celibate call is about relationship to God stems from the fact that those writing about such things obviously do not have that intimate love relationship with Jesus Christ, Who calls each one of us to some sort of vocation.

Only in the love of God and the pursuit of holiness are vocations understandable. A vocation is not just another job. It is who one is. A priest receives an indelible mark in his Sacrament of Holy Orders, which sets him apart from other human beings. He is ontologically changed. He is an alter Christus, another Christ. He is no longer James, or Robert, or Anthony, but a Man of God, in the Apostolic Succession, which is the unbroken line of priestly vocations all the way back to the Twelve Apostles. I am glad that some journalists attempt to interview and understand why men go into the priesthood, but Mr. Walsh got it wrong.

Sweden, Germany, Alberta, America--why do governments fear home schooling?

A long time ago in another universe, I lived and worked in Alberta, Canada. For awhile, I worked for Wisdom Home Schooling, and for the spokesperson, Ken Noster, who is quoted in this LifeSiteNews article. As I home schooled in Alberta, twelve years or so ago, I had no problems with the government. However, that is all changing. In the article here, the provincial government is now extending curriculum requirements on home schoolers which would require them to include pro-gay materials in their studies. If this bill goes through, religious liberties will disappear for the home schooling community. Ken stated, among other things, that "[the government] could insist that non-politically correct material such as Scripture and the [Catechism of the Catholic Church] could be deemed as offensive and not useable.”

Alberta already has some of the worst laws against freedom of religion in existence. The brave and wonderful Bishop of Calgary, Bishop Henry, in 2005, had to defend himself against the Tribunal, that is the Alberta Court dealing with so-called "hate speech" for promulgating Catholic teaching against homosexuality. Those in charge of education have been putting the squeeze on home schoolers and this is an out and out attack. Catholic home schoolers in Alberta and, indeed, all home schooling parents, need to contact their ministers immediately. The links are above.

In an earlier post, I noted that the Obama Administration wants to interfere with home schooling in the States. One must ask the question why all these governments fear home schooling? The teaching of the Catholic Church has been that education is primarily the duty and right of the parents, not the governments. The growing persecution of religious freedoms in all western countries, either from the viewpoint of education or freedom of speech shows a widespread hatred of the Catholic Church and Evangelicals, the two groups who have spear-headed home education. 

I am grateful that I had all those years of freedom to educate at home-happy and fruitful years. I pray earnestly that the next generation of parents have this right. I highly recommend those home schooling parents to join the HSLDA, as I did. 

The Importance of the Vatican State

Scene from Becket, the Movie, Peter O'Toole and Richard Burton, 1964
It is crucial for the entire world that the Papacy remains independent of any other country or nation. St. Thomas Becket knew this. St. Catherine of Siena knew this, which is why she begged Pope Gregory XI to leave Avignon, and she succeeded, as the Holy Spirit was guiding her and him. Since I have set up this blog again, I have had the national anthem of the Vatican Papal State on the right-hand side to show my support for the physical nation which is the heart of the Catholic Church. As Catholics, we have always believed in the "visible Church", decrying the ultra-Protestant idea of the "invisible Church" as a heresy. Last week, David Quinn's article on Mirror of Justice, a site which I have on my blog list, eloquently reviews the importance of the Papal States. Here is a section of Quinn's argument, which is timely, most timely:

The reason the Papal States evolved was to try and preserve the independence of popes although even these couldn't always offer protection because rulers could still invade them if strong enough, as Napoleon did.

One reason the popes opposed the unification of Italy was because they feared that if the Papal States were destroyed so would their independence. They feared they would be dominated by the new Italian state.
After a standoff lasting several decades, Mussolini agreed to recognise the independence of the Holy See, the successor to the Papal States.
The reason the Holy See seeks diplomatic ties with as many countries as possible is to solidify the place of the Holy See in Italy -- something that couldn't be taken as a given for a long time -- and to solidify its place in the world.
The alternative to an independent Holy See is a pope who lives in the Italian state and is subject ultimately to the whim of the Italian state and to whatever laws it passes. The possibility of a strongly anti-clerical government being elected in Italy in the future can never be ruled out, nor can the passage of politically correct 'human rights' laws such as exist in places like Canada where the simple expression of church teaching on issues like homosexuality could end up being deemed a 'hate crime'.
Pope St. Pius IX: And, We are a Physical Church, as Well as a Spiritual One

There is more good stuff at Mirror of Justice, which, in these times of certain tyrants pushing the envelope against religious freedom, is a great site to check out daily. Remember that many of the martyrs died for the independence of the Papacy, and the list is long. St. Thomas Becket, pray for us.

I have suggested before here, all reading Robert Hugh Benson's Lord of the World, for another perspective on the importance of the independent Papacy, until the end of time. 

Irish Media Wakes Up: When Will the French Media See the Difference?

Loyalty and friendship?

I have written here about the youth across America and Europe living with parents. I have written about the high jobless numbers of youth 18-35 in these areas, and specifically in Ireland and Great Britain. Today, the Irish Times online has highlighted the newest plan of the Obama Administration to break up traditional ties with European, pointedly, Irish society by imposing a higher tax for overseas American coorporations. There are, according to the article here, six-hundred American companies established in Ireland which hire the Irish, including youth. I see hundreds of unemployed Irish youth daily. Thousands are living at home, like adolescents. Some are in government housing. The problem exists in America as well, as even the Irish paper online has noted. But, behind the Obama move to make life more difficult for the Irish is his systematic undermining of traditional relationships with European countries, at the expense of good will and commerce. From the article:

A US economist and tax expert who recently gave evidence to the ways and means committee in the US House of Representatives, Martin Sullivan, told The Irish Times last night that Ireland had benefited more than any other country from the fact that US corporations don’t pay US tax unless they repatriate their profits.
“So Obama’s proposals to significantly curtail those benefits are a serious threat to the Irish economy

I do not believe in bailouts, such as the Greek or even the Irish rescue. However, I do believe in helping companies thrive and reach out to the younger population,  who have skills, especially in technology. Youth, of course, have to want to work, (see yesterday's first post), but to purposefully tax American companies, which are helping the global economy seems like nonsense, and will have repercussions financially and socially. America is rapidly being seen as no longer the friend of the very countries whose sons and daughters built up that great country. But, Obama does not have a European bent, either in ideology or in religion. This could be the reason for the further snubbing of Ireland.

By the way, I refer to the French in the title of this post, as there still is some sort of love-affair for Obama in the media there. Why, I do not know.

Wednesday 22 February 2012

So, marriage is important for society after all....(us little, old Catholics knew this); October 21, 1911

Dr. Sanity is on a roll, but then, she is the voice of reason in the blog-sphere. Catholics, check out this video and her link. And, I dedicate this to Blessed Karl and Zita, and all my dear friends who are married.....

From Burns and Haberman on Politico

Murdoch on Santorum: 'Win Michigan game over'

Rupert Murdoch's latest tweet on the GOP race a few minutes ago: 
From distance, Santorum doing great. Values really do count in America, and not sneered at as in parts of Europe. Win Michigan game over.

Do you want to work in teams? Can you work with others? Do you have manners? Would you love your job?

In England, there is or has been an interesting photographic exhibit which proves a point of this post. The exhibit is called "Unordinary People", but I would call it the "New Conformist-Non". Here is the description of the exhibit online at:
  • Exhibition
  • "Unordinary People is an exhibition celebrating the self-expression, resilience and creative vitality of young people throughout the generations. The exhibit will feature an eclectic selection of rare and exclusive cultural photography, archive video footage and excerpts from essays that will highlight the history, lifestyles, fashions, hairstyles, music and subcultures of British youth culture from the 1960s to the present day."

This is a controversial posting from me. I have been thinking of the huge unemployment numbers among college-age youth in America and in Europe. Some of the problems I know these first-hand growing up in an area where the Agra-businesses and connected agricultural factories moved to Europe and elsewhere as early as the 1960s, such as J.I. Case and Farmall leaving the area to John Deere alone, which has also cut back American-made tractors, combiners, harvesters, etc. Great Britain in my lifetime lost its thriving clothing manufacturing businesses to places like India, China, and small countries. The lack of work marks the professional levels as well, when there are less children, less teachers are needed.

Here, in Ireland, a nursing shortage is obvious from where I sit in Dublin. Pages and pages of interesting yet demanding jobs for nursing professionals, with good salaries attached, go begging. A young person would do well to go into this field, as the nursing shortage may be found in other countries as well.

Shortages in some professions and lack of opportunities in others can lead to unemployment. But, here are the real reasons in my experience teaching youth people in college for years.

One, the work ethic is dead. Many youth do not want to work the long hours necessary in some professions, even teaching, where we all take our work home, be it papers to correct or lesson plans to create.

Two, some youth refuse to do simple jobs, such as gardening, or cleaning, or ironing. This again is part of the loss of the work ethic. We all did such jobs during the holidays or even after college, if necessary, until we were settled in a profession. Manual labor is good and upright.

Three, socialism has destroyed initiative, especially in Europe. If a young person can get a housing allowance and a food allowance and so much spending money per week, why work? This is a huge disaster in Western Civilization, creating an underclass that knows how to use the system without working.

Four, and this is my own take, nonconformity. Now, I may be a non-conformist, being a Catholic, conservative, writer, artist, but I can fit into certain groupings, such as the trad group, or, in former days, the home schooling group. What strikes me especially in Europe are the thousands of youth who are so non-conformist that they would never get hired. Examples abound, as I am temporarily in a youth hostel and observing those coming and going. A few points. The youth from Ireland and Great Britain dress horribly and still look "goth", (I taught goths in the mid-eighties in England), with piercings and tattoos, which label someone from the States as "lower class". The youth here in this hostel from Germany, Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Italy and Poland look smart and act much more politely than the Irish or the British. The emphasis is on choosing "your style" for the Irish and British. This is sort of like private interpretation of the Bible, which leads to chaos and complete relativism.  I shall get hate mail for this, but the worst dressed girls and guys in Europe are the British. I mean, what is with the large holes in the stockings and no underwear? The "sagging" look is in here as well for both sexes.  In other words, the continentals seem to have manners and style.

 If I were hiring any for positions in teams or in either an office or outside work, I would ask these questions: Would you fit into a team? Do you want to work hard? Can you work with both management and peers?

Sadly, the nonconformist, or dare I say, anarchist would not even think that these questions would be important. Talking with a few neighbors last week, some of the mothers were complaining about all the Polish youth who had jobs in the area, supposedly taking away jobs from the Irish youth. It was obvious from the conversation that either the Irish youth did not even apply for such jobs as hotel service workers or factory workers, or that there was and is a huge difference in skill levels.

And, that is my last point. All youth should be able to work on computers and do basic office skills. These should be required in all school systems by the upper levels. I was told that teachers still accepted hand-written papers in some colleges. Why? From 1979 on, I required typed papers in all my classes at the university level. Such skills are necessary in the workplace. It seems that some of the continental youth have higher technical skills than some of those in Ireland and Great Britain. How did this happen, especially in England, which use to have one of the best education systems in the world? No more.

Nicely dressed American Catholic students, who want to work

The unemployment of youth rises from complicated issues, but I suggest that the lack of taking responsibility for one's own life and the lack of initiative are the two greatest obstacles. In addition, the insistence of non-conformity in dress and hair, in manners and social skills, has damaged one, if not two generations, of the ability to work.

By the way, after travelling in Europe for nine months, the best dressed young women are the Japanese, who are into retro-style and have great taste at the moment. The worst I mentioned above. The sub-culture is not dress or hair, but anarchy. Conformism is not a dirty word. Such conformity is necessary if a civilization asks its workforce to be able to work together for the common good. One does act as one dresses, by the way.

Dame Vivienne Westwood, whose clothes I really do not like, has a quotation on the BBC today which states that people have never looked so ugly. I agree.