Let us begin with a prayer for our bishops imploring God that they will allow us to return to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for Easter.
Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.
I have recently had to move house as my landlord and his wife needed to move back into the house we were living in because they have sold their other house. Moving house is quite a stressful business and we were under a little pressure because the people who had bought our landlord’s house wanted to move in as soon as possible.
We got the news about the house just before Christmas and I decided not to do anything until the New Year. I was conscious of the need to move and I found two houses that would somewhat suit, but neither were not quite what we needed. One had no external storage space, the other would have left us tight for space. I decided to take the one that would have left us tight for space even though I had misgivings. My wife could see that I was not happy but I felt under pressure to take this house.
Certain circumstances arose which mitigated against this choice and once again I felt under pressure to then take the other house because we had to move. Thank God, I realised that I was putting my faith in my own ability to sort out this problem and, whilst I had asked God’s blessing on my decision, I was giving Him a secondary role in the whole process.
I knelt before my picture of the Sacred Heart and I apologised to Him for my lack of faith and trust. I turned down both of the houses I had been looking at and put my trust totally in St Joseph, Our Lady and the Sacred Heart. I also sent out a prayer request to a group of which I am a member.
One of the members of the group sent me a listing for a house which I had seen online but had not considered before because the town where I believed the house was situated did not suit. I looked at the house online again and calculated the distances from other nearby towns. I then realised that it was much closer than I had previously thought and that there was a town of the same name near Ballyhaunis which I had confused it with.
I am growing weary of the fact that Covid19 so dominates our lives at present and that nearly all conversations eventually come around to this topic of intense debate. We had a week in our home recently where we tried not to mention the ‘C’ word. However, Covid19 showed its hand again as the estate agent told me that they were not allowed to show people houses under Level5 restrictions. This led to an interesting conversation which included talk of vaccines and the Catholic Voice, and eventually I managed to get a viewing of the house without meeting any representative of the Estate Agency.
When we walked in the door of the house, the very first thing I noticed was a traditional Sacred Heart lamp flickering in the kitchen, just waiting for our family’s signed Sacred Heart picture to be placed above it. The owner told us that he had only renewed the lamp on the day that we viewed the house as the previous tenants did not seem interested in it. In a conversation with him, where I told him that we have great devotion to the Sacred Heart and that we pray the family rosary daily, I found out that he was from a family of nine children and that he remembered all eleven of them kneeling for family prayers in the evenings in the room where the Sacred Heart image was placed.
I signed the rental contracts for the house and subsequently, God blessed us abundantly, more than I could have ever imagined or asked for. He provided for all of our house moving needs through good friends who helped out in various ways. I would like to thank God for His great goodness to us and to thank those friends who helped in various material, physical and prayerful ways with our house moving. I have included our new address at the bottom of the next page for those who want to correspond with ‘The Lumen Fidei Institute’. I have redirected mail from the old house so if you have written recently, please be assured that we will get your correspondence.
I share this story because it really gave me hope at a time when I was struggling. I still struggle, as we all must, and I am aware that the devil does not like it when God clearly shows His Hand. The devil increases his efforts to overcome us and we may get new battle scars from this.
Once again, the message of abandonment to Divine Providence was revealed to me. God is our loving Father and He desires to shower us with blessings if only we humble ourselves and trust in Him and allow Him to direct our lives and to provide for us.
“A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit: a contrite and humbled heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” (Psalm 50:19)
This is not to say that we do nothing. We should go about our daily business and do the things that we need to do, but all of these efforts should be relying on God for the answers.
One of the other lessons I learned from this move was the need for detachment. In the last fourteen years, our family has accumulated an awful lot of stuff. Our new house is quite a bit smaller than those we have lived in previously, and so we have had to be quite ruthless in getting rid of stuff. I had to detach myself from my beloved book collection, which comprised over six hundred books, and thank God I have found good homes for them.
The words of Our Lord to St Martha are applicable here.
“And the Lord answering, said to her: Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about many things:
But one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)
Speaking of the “one thing necessary”, I must turn once again to the fact that the practice of our Catholic Faith is being actively suppressed by our government. We are living through a time of intense diabolical persecution cleverly disguised as being necessary on account of an invisible virus.
One of our bishops recently wrote the following in a Pastoral message to his diocese.
“We need to let our political leaders know that God and our worship of Him are central to us; they are utterly essential.”
This begs a couple of questions. If this bishop really believes that our worship of God is “utterly essential” as he has stated, then why is he denying the faithful access to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by closing the churches in his diocese?
Does this bishop believe that the virus is more powerful than God? If not, then why are the Catholics entrusted to his care by God not allowed to worship Him at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?
Has this bishop instructed the priests of his diocese to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in private homes or at the old Mass Rocks?
The bishop tells us to contact our political leaders. Is he now saying that Catholic Worship is a privilege allowed to us by the government and not something that is under the authority of the bishops?
Such an attitude flies in the face of Catholic Church history where the Church has always resisted the secular authority’s encroachment on Catholic Worship, even to the point of martyrdom. Many of the words of Pope Pius X, in his encyclical letter ‘Vehementer Nos’, which was written against the French government’s laws of separation, can easily be applied to the situation we now find ourselves in here in Ireland. For example:
“You have seen the sanctity and the inviolability of Christian marriage outraged by legislative acts in formal contradiction with them; the schools and hospitals laicized…;”
Is this not what we have witnessed happening in Ireland over the last forty to fifty years? Catholic marriage has been attacked by the government and has been legally reduced to the same status as two homosexual men sharing a bed together in the same house.
It is incumbent on Catholics not to co-operate in those areas where the state suppresses our Catholic Worship, and I implore our readers to do all in your power to resist these unjust laws which deny us access to Our Saviour Jesus Christ in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
As a father of eight children, when I realised that neither the State nor the Catholic schools in this country were providing properly for the Catholic education of my children, I, with my wife, took it upon ourselves to do our best to make sure our children were properly educated in the Catholic Faith. We protected them as best we could from secular education and educated them at home.
I do not claim to be a great father, far from it, I am very aware of my sinful tendencies and of my many failures, but I did not co-operate with the state or with those Catholic authorities who failed to protect our Catholic schools, in allowing the faith of my children to be destroyed.
The bishops are supposed to act as fathers in protecting and providing for the flocks entrusted to their care by Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Christ commanded them, through the apostle Peter, to feed His sheep.
As a father, I call on our bishops to do their duty before God, and to re-open our Catholic Churches for Catholic Worship so that the flock entrusted to their care by Jesus Christ may be truly fed. If the state decides to arrest all of the bishops, then so be it, at least it will bring the persecution out into the open.
Listen to the apostle to the gentiles describing what he suffered for the faith in his second letter to the Corinthians, and then let us prayerfully reflect and ask ourselves, are we doing enough for those entrusted to our care?
“They are the ministers of Christ (I speak as one less wise): I am more; in many more labours, in prisons more frequently, in stripes above measure, in deaths often.
“Of the Jews five times did I receive forty stripes, save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once I was stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I was in the depth of the sea. In journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils from my own nation, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils from false brethren.
In labour and painfulness, in much watchings, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Besides those things which are without: my daily instance, the solicitude for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is scandalized, and I am not on fire?
If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things that concern my infirmity. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed for ever, knoweth that I lie not.
At Damascus, the governor of the nation under Aretas the king, guarded the city of the Damascenes, to apprehend me. And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and so escaped his hands.” (2 Corinthians 11:23-33)
When we read these words of St Paul it is obvious that the last few generations of Catholics in Ireland have had a comfortable existence. We are not properly prepared for the persecution that is upon us and I fear that many will fall away.
We can tend to be like St Peter, impetuous in our declarations of fidelity to God, but with little resistance when temptations and persecution come along.
“Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night; for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”
Peter declared to him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.”
Jesus said to him, “Truly, I say to you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.”
Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you.” (Matthew 26:31-35)
Then St Peter is presented with the test.
“Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a maid came up to him, and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.”
But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.”
And when he went out to the porch, another maid saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
And again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man.”
After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.”
Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.”
And immediately the cock crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.” (Matthew 26:69-75)
There is a beautiful painting of the penitent St Peter, by the Italian artist Guido Reni. There is a tear running down St Peter’s cheek. I had it for sale in a shop I used to run in Knock. One day, a lady was looking at the picture when she suddenly collapsed into a chair, shaking uncontrollably. I immediately went to her assistance and asked her what was the matter, thinking I might have to call a doctor.
She looked at me and said, “poor St Peter”, “I was looking at the picture and I just thought how sorrowful he must have felt for denying Our Lord and I was overcome with tears.”
There is a lesson here for all of us. This Lent let us ask for the grace of tears for our many sins and the grace never to offend God again.