Aspirations, Ejaculatory Prayer and Holy Thoughts

We continue our journey through St. Francis de Sales’ ‘Introduction to the Devout Life’ with this inspiring meditation of the day.


WE retire with God, because we aspire to Him, and we aspire in order to retire with Him; so that aspiration after God and spiritual retreat excite one another, while both spring from the one Source of all holy thoughts. Do you then, my child, aspire continually to God, by brief, ardent upliftings of heart; praise His Excellence, invoke His Aid, cast yourself in spirit at the Foot of His Cross, adore His Goodness, offer your whole soul a thousand times a day to Him, fix your inward gaze upon Him, stretch out your hands to be led by Him, as a little child to its father, clasp Him to your breast as a fragrant nosegay, upraise Him in your soul as a standard. In short, kindle by every possible act your love for God, your tender, passionate desire for the Heavenly Bridegroom of souls. Such is ejaculatory prayer, as it was so earnestly inculcated by St. Augustine upon the devout Proba; and be sure that if you seek such nearness and intimacy with God your whole soul will imbibe the perfume of His Perfections. Neither is this a difficult practice, it may be interwoven with all our duties and occupations, without hindering any; for neither the spiritual retreat of which I have spoken, nor these inward upliftings of the heart, cause more than a very brief distraction, which, so far from being any hindrance, will rather promote whatever you have in hand. When a pilgrim pauses an instant to take a draught of wine, which refreshes his lips and revives his heart, his onward journey is nowise hindered by the brief delay, but rather it is shortened and lightened, and he brings it all the sooner to a happy end, pausing but to advance the better.

Sundry collections of ejaculatory prayer have been put forth, which are doubtless very useful, but I should advise you not to tie yourself to any formal words, but rather to speak with heart or mouth whatever springs forth from the love within you, which is sure to supply you with all abundance. There are certain utterances which have special force, such as the ejaculatory prayers of which the Psalms are so full, and the numerous loving invocations of Jesus which we find in the Song of Songs. Many hymns too may be used with the like intention, provided they are sung attentively. In short, just as those who are full of some earthly, natural love are ever turning in thought to the beloved one, their hearts overflowing with tenderness, and their lips ever ready to praise that beloved object; comforting themselves in absence by letters, carving the treasured name on every tree; so those who love God cannot cease thinking of Him, living for Him, longing after Him, speaking of Him, and fain would they grave the Holy Name of Jesus in the hearts of every living creature they behold. And to such an outpour of love all creation bids us—nothing that He has made but is filled with the praise of God, and, as says St. Augustine, everything in the world speaks silently but clearly to the lovers of God of their love, exciting them to holy desires, whence gush forth aspirations and loving cries to God.

1657030-a-rock-on-the-seashore-surrounded-by-small-sea-shells-a-wave-is-gushing-over-itSt. Gregory Nazianzen tells his flock, how, walking along the seashore, he watched the waves as they washed up shells and sea weeds, and all manner of small substances, which seemed, as it were, rejected by the sea, until a return wave would often wash part thereof back again; while the rocks remained firm and immoveable, let the waves beat against them never so fiercely. And then the Saint went on to reflect that feeble hearts let themselves be carried hither and thither by the varying waves of sorrow or consolation, as the case might be, like the shells upon the seashore, while those of a nobler mould abide firm and immoveable amid every storm; whence he breaks out into David’s cry, “Lord, save me, for the waters are gone over my soul; deliver me from the great deep, all Thy waves and storms are gone over me;” for he was himself then in trouble by reason of the ungodly usurpation of his See by Maximus.

When St. Fulgentius, Bishop of Ruspe, heard Theodoric, King of the Goths, harangue a general assembly of Roman nobles, and beheld their splendour, he exclaimed, “O God, how glorious must Thy Heavenly Jerusalem be, if even earthly Rome be thus!” And if this world can afford so much gratification to mere earthly lovers of vanity, what must there be in store hereafter for those who love the truth?
“If thus Thy lower works are fair, If thus Thy glories gild the span Of ruined earth and guilty man, How glorious must the mansions be Where Thy redeemed dwell with Thee!”

We are told that St. Anselm of Canterbury, (our mountains may glory in being his birthplace) was much given to such thoughts. On one occasion a hunted hare took refuge from imminent death beneath the Bishop’s horse, the hounds clamouring round, but not daring to drag it from its asylum, whereat his attendants began to laugh; but the great Anselm wept, saying, “You may laugh forsooth, but to the poor hunted beast it is no laughing matter; even so the soul which has been led astray in all manner of sin finds a host of enemies waiting at its last hour to devour it, and terrified, knows not where to seek a refuge, and if it can find none, its enemies laugh and rejoice.” And so he went on his way, sighing.

Sermon on the Mount - Carl Bloch

Sermon on the Mount – Carl Bloch

Constantine the Great wrote with great respect to St. Anthony, at which his religious expressed their surprise. “Do you marvel,” he said, “that a king should write to an ordinary man? Marvel rather that God should have written His Law for men, and yet more that He should have spoken with them Face to face through His Son.” When St. Francis saw a solitary sheep amid a flock of goats; “See,” said he to his companion, “how gentle the poor sheep is among the goats, even as was Our Lord among the Pharisees;” and seeing a boar devour a little lamb, “Poor little one,” he exclaimed, weeping, “how vividly is my Saviour’s Death set forth in thee!”

A great man of our own day, Francis Borgia, then Duke of Candia, was wont to indulge in many devout imaginations as he was hunting. “I used to ponder,” he said, “how the falcon returns to one’s wrist, and lets one hood its eyes or chain it to the perch, and yet men are so perverse in refusing to turn at God’s call.” St. Basil the Great says that the rose amid its thorns preaches a lesson to men. “All that is pleasant in this life” (so it tells us mortals) “is mingled with sadness—no joy is altogether pure—all enjoyment is liable to be marred by regrets, marriage is saddened by widowhood, children bring anxiety, glory often turns to shame, neglect follows upon honour, weariness on pleasure, sickness on health. Truly the rose is a lovely flower,” the Saint goes on to say, “but it moves me to sadness, reminding me as it does that for my sin the earth was condemned to bring forth thorns.”

Another devout soul, gazing upon a brook wherein the starlit sky of a calm summer’s night was reflected, exclaims, “O my God, when Thou callest me to dwell in Thy heavenly tabernacles, these stars will be beneath my feet; and even as those stars are now reflected here below, so are we Thy creatures reflected above in the living waters of Thy Divine Love.” So another cried out, beholding a rapid river as it flowed, “Even thus my soul will know no rest until it plunge into that Divine Sea whence it came forth!” St. Frances, as she knelt to pray beside the banks of a pleasant streamlet, cried out in ecstasy, “The Grace of my Dear Lord flows softly and sweetly even as these refreshing waters” And another saintly soul, looking upon the blooming orchards, cried out, “Why am I alone barren in the Church’s garden!” Peterson_gathering So St. Francis of Assisi, beholding a hen gathering her chickens beneath her wings, exclaimed, “Keep me, O Lord, under the shadow of Thy Wings”. And looking upon the sunflower, he ejaculated, “When, O Lord, will my soul follow the attractions of Thy Love?” And gathering pansies in a garden which are fair to see, but scentless, “Ah,” he cried out, “even so are the thoughts of my heart, fair to behold, but without savour or fruit!”

Thus it is, my child, that good thoughts and holy aspirations may be drawn from all that surrounds us in our ordinary life. Woe to them that turn aside the creature from the Creator, and thrice blessed are they who turn all creation to their Creator’s Glory, and make human vanities subservient to the truth. “Verily,” says Saint Gregory Nazianzen, “I am wont to turn all things to my spiritual profit.”

Read the pious epitaph written for St. Paula by St. Jerome; it is marvellous therein to see how she conceived spiritual thoughts and aspirations at every turn.

Now, in the practice of this spiritual retreat and of these ejaculatory prayers the great work of devotion lies: it can supply all other deficiencies, but there is hardly any means of making up where this is lacking. Without it no one can lead a true contemplative life, and the active life will be but imperfect where it is omitted: without it rest is but indolence, labour but weariness, therefore I beseech you to adopt it heartily, and never let it go.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Overwhelming majority in San Francisco support Archbishop Cordileone’s efforts: online poll

[Latest update from LifeSite/News] We did it! In the space of less than a single day we raised the $30k needed to run a full-page ad in the San Francisco Chronicle thanking Archbishop Cordileone for his faithfulness. The response was literally overwhelming. It certainly goes to show just how much ordinary Catholics and pro-life activists like you admire and support the archbishop. Now we’re working on hammering out the details about when and how the ad will run. We’ll keep you updated!

Abp Cordileone

(Three days earlier, from — An online poll posted Friday by the San Francisco Chronicle—a strong critic of Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s efforts to fortify the Catholic identity of San Francisco’s Catholic schools—is showing very strong support for the Archbishop’s courageous defense of Catholic teaching. The “weekly poll” is still accepting votes from visitors to the Chronicle website.

The Chronicle—which claims to be the largest circulation daily in northern California—published the poll on Friday, April 17. Readers are invited to respond to the question, “Should Pope Francis remove Archbishop Cordileone from the San Francisco archdiocese?”

As of Monday afternoon, April 20, almost nine out of 10 respondents supported the Archbishop. An overwhelming 77 percent of respondents selected the answer, “No, the archbishop is upholding the values of the Catholic Church.” Another 10 percent chose “No, the archbishop is right to oppose same-sex marriage,” which is not really distinct from “upholding the values of the Catholic Church.”

Only 11 percent responded with, “Yes, the archbishop is fostering a climate of intolerance.” And only 2 percent chose the selection, “Yes, his morality clauses for teachers in parochial schools defies the law.”

Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco

Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco

Judging from these responses, there is a significant measure of support for the archbishop, despite last week’s full-page ad from 100 “prominent Catholics” calling for Pope Francis to replace Archbishop Cordileone and accusing the Archbishop of encouraging “an atmosphere of division and intolerance.” The authors claimed to be “committed Catholics” following “the traditions of conscience, respect and inclusion upon which our Catholic faith was founded.”

Dr. Dan Guernsey, director of The Cardinal Newman Society’s K-12 education programs, strongly criticized the ad as a false display of tolerance that was, in fact, intended by its signers “to tell the Pope and the world that they will not tolerate or include and indeed soundly condemn the archbishop of San Francisco.” He wrote:

These “anti-bully” bullies are doing what bullies do. They are seeking to gain in their own social status and self-concept by belittling, shaming and humiliating someone outside their local social norm. As the authors admit, the social sexual norms in the Bay Area are completely supportive of sex outside of natural marriage. Those who control the culture are dead set on humiliating and eliminating anyone who would not fully support their power and the status quo.

Dr. Jamie Arthur, manager of The Cardinal Newman Society’s Catholic Education Honor Roll, found the poll results “reassuring” as they revealed the sizeable presence of “faithful Catholics who overwhelmingly have supported Archbishop Cordileone in his efforts to uphold the values of the Catholic Church.”

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Nigerian Bishop Says Christ Showed Him How to Beat Islamic Terror Group


From the Church Militant blog

by Ryan Fitzgerald, April 21, 2015

Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme, head of the Diocese of Maiduguri in Nigeria’s Borno State, was in a chapel praying before the Blessed Sacrament last December when, he says, something extraordinary happened: Jesus Christ appeared holding a sword, which He offered to the prelate.

According to Bishop Dashe, the moment he took the sword from Jesus’ hands, it transformed into Rosary beads. He then heard Christ repeat three times, “Boko Haram is gone.”

The bishop recalls, “I didn’t need any prophet to give me the explanation. It was clear that with the Rosary we would be able to expel Boko Haram.”

Boko Haram is the Islamic group that’s been massacring Christian civilians in Nigeria and beyond for several years. It originally was tied to Al Quaeda, but now formally pledges allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Bishop Doeme says he’s seen the size of his diocese cut in half since Boko Haram started ramping up its violent activity in 2009. Most fled for safer grounds.

“Despite all this,” the Nigerian prelate says, “we do not give up our public witness to our faith.” He affirms, “I wear my episcopal robes publicly, because on the day I agreed to be bishop I knew I was signing my death sentence.”

Boko Haram has reportedly been used in the recent past as a bargaining tool by the United States. Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of Oyo, Nigeria states, “The United States actually said it would help Nigeria with Boko Haram only if we modify our laws concerning homosexuality, family planning and birth control.”

Bishop Dashe also has problems with the West, which he notes isn’t free of problems itself. “In Europe and America you have your own demons: abortion, homosexual pseudo-marriage and secularism.”

The bishop hesitated in the beginning to tell anyone about the apparition, but soon began getting strong urges from the Holy Spirit to share its message. So he started to tell priests in his diocese what happened. Eventually, he announced it at a Catholic event in Spain supporting Christian victims of Islamic violence.

He’s since gone on a “consolation tour” through diocesan communities, promoting prayer, forgiveness and persistent faith. He believes Jesus wants him to advocate praying the Rosary in order to assist them in these efforts.

“Maybe that’s why He did it,” Bishop Dashe remarks about the apparition.

“Our faith is unwavering,” he remarks. “Even when they suffer killings, Christians still go to church, and Christian activities in public life continue.”

Continuing, the bishop declares, “They can destroy our buildings and our lives, but they cannot destroy our faith in Christ.”

He expresses further confidence in the intercession of Blessed “Mamma Mary” toward instilling a peaceful recovery of his diocese.

His country’s bishops have already jointly consecrated Nigeria to Our Lady in recent years.

“Boko Haram is evil, demonic, and can only be removed through prayer,” Bishop Dashe says.

Citing Jesus’ words in the apparition, he insists that no matter how long it takes, with faith in the Most Holy Rosary, “Boko Haram is gone.”

Posted in Uncategorized | 18 Comments

Feisty Nuns

From Father Ed’s Blog (the Tunbridge Wells Ordinariate)


There are those on this blog [Fr. Ed’s blog] who believe I am harsh in criticising modernist liberalism within Christianity. So be it. My criticism will continue because I sincerely believe liberalism anathema; a cancer to true and living faith in Christ Jesus. The leading cause of decline. But as to being harsh – well compared to the much loved Mother Angelica, who formed the EWTN network and who turned 92 this week, I am a pussy-cat!

The video above shows her speaking out against the erosion of Catholic life caused by liberal modernism. Her message delivered following an evening in which she had been subjected to liturgical dance in which Christ was depicted as a woman. Mother was not happy! Scroll to the 8 minute mark if you are short of time to see the main thrust of her arguments. Her points remain valid.

The fortunate thing today is that the fruit of liberalism, or rather the lack of it, is becoming obvious. Wherever the liberal agenda has been attempted there you find a loss of vocation, closure of parishes, disunity, loss of youth and loss of men. And what seemed novel, even trendy, forty years ago is now looking dated and deeply unfashionable. The trend is therefore reversing. Young people today either seek traditional Catholicism or drop out of church altogether.

It leaves a situation on the ground reminiscent of Aristophanes’s “The Wasps”. A generational divide exists in which an elderly leadership hungers for novelty and rebellion – the desire to conform to the world – whilst the younger generation wants to adhere to that which is conventional – the desire to be in the world but not of the world. How much more orthodox is the average Seminarian of 2015 than the average bishop! Thus the pendulum is swinging. This is the last watch of liberal Catholicism before the clock is rolled back. Which is why I predict, that within twenty years, radical change will come.

There may be a few more tricky years to endure yet but then will come a time of rediscovery. A third spring. That which was downplayed will be re-emphasised. Beauty will matter once more. Churches will be re-ordered to restore their former glory. And the church will finally be ready to put into place the actual teaching of Vatican II. For she will have ditched liberal modernism, that politically inspired mess that masqueraded as V2 but was, in truth, a wilful deviation from it.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

St Thérèse’s parents coped with ‘21st century problems’

By David V Barrett – Catholic Herald (22 April 2015)

Blessed Louis and Marie Zélie Guerin Martin, the parents of St Thérèse of Lisieux

Blessed Louis and Marie Zélie Guerin Martin, the parents of St Thérèse of Lisieux

Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin are expected to be declared saints at the family synod in October and their relics will tour the UK next month

Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin, the parents of St Thérèse of Lisieux, faced 21st century problems and are an “inspiration to families of today”, according to Bishop Mark O’Toole of Plymouth.

He was speaking ahead of a tour of the Blesseds’ relics next month. The couple, beatified in 2008, are expected to be declared saints at the family synod in October.

Bishop O’Toole said: “In the 19th century this ‘two-career’ couple faced the challenges we face in the 21st: finding good child care, achieving professional excellence, caring for ageing parents, educating a special-needs child” and “finding time to pray and to be active in their parish”.

St Thérèse’s parents, who married in 1858, had nine children. The five who survived infancy entered religious life. Zélie Martin died of breast cancer in 1877 at the age of 45, leaving her husband to raise their daughters. “Like us, Louis and Zélie could not control their circumstances. Life came at them unexpectedly, just as it comes at us,” said Bishop O’Toole. “Their genius lay in how they accepted what happened to them.”

Louis and Zélie Martin were the first parents of a saint to be beatified, and the first spouses in the history of the Church to be proposed for canonisation together. It is thought that their joint canonisation may take place during the world synod of bishops on the family in October, following Francis’s recognition of a miracle last month.

The relics – the forearms of the Blesseds – will tour Plymouth and Portsmouth dioceses from May 15 to 22.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Shroud of Turin now on Public Display

“For the believer, what counts above all is, that the Shroud is a mirror of the Gospel… and thus a truly unique sign that points to Jesus, the true Word of the Father, and invites us to pattern our lives on the life of the One who gave Himself for us” – St. John Paul II.

Once again the Holy Shroud of Turin is on public display in Turin Cathedral from 19th April to 24th June 2015 – this year coinciding with the bicentenary of the birth of St. John Bosco. All those interested in travelling to Turin to see this venerated relic can book tickets through the The Holy Shroud’s Official Website.

Lamentation over Christ - Fra Angelico

Lamentation over Christ – Fra Angelico

Veneration of The Holy Shroud. Meditation of His Holiness Benedict XVI – Fifth Sunday of Easter, 2nd May 2010.

“[…] Jesus Christ “descended to the dead”. What do these words mean? They mean that God, having made himself man, reached the point of entering man’s most extreme and absolute solitude, where not a ray of love enters, where total abandonment reigns without any word of comfort: “hell”. Jesus Christ, by remaining in death, passed beyond the door of this ultimate solitude to lead us too to cross it with him. We have all, at some point, felt the frightening sensation of abandonment, and that is what we fear most about death, just as when we were children we were afraid to be alone in the dark and could only be reassured by the presence of a person who loved us. Well, this is exactly what happened on Holy Saturday: the voice of God resounded in the realm of death. The unimaginable occurred: namely, Love penetrated “hell”. Even in the extreme darkness of the most absolute human loneliness we may hear a voice that calls us and find a hand that takes ours and leads us out. Human beings live because they are loved and can love; and if love even penetrated the realm of death, then life also even reached there. In the hour of supreme solitude we shall never be alone: Passio Christi. Passio hominis. 

“This is the mystery of Holy Saturday! Truly from there, from the darkness of the death of the Son of God, the light of a new hope gleamed: the light of the Resurrection. And it seems to me that, looking at this sacred Cloth through the eyes of faith, one may perceive something of this light. Effectively, the Shroud was immersed in that profound darkness that was at the same time luminous; and I think that if thousands and thousands of people come to venerate it without counting those who contemplate it through images it is because they see in it not only darkness but also the light; not so much the defeat of life and of love, but rather victory, the victory of life over death, of love over hatred. They indeed see the death of Jesus, but they also see his Resurrection; in the bosom of death, life is now vibrant, since love dwells within it. This is the power of the Shroud: from the face of this “Man of sorrows”, who carries with him the passion of man of every time and every place, our passions too, our sufferings, our difficulties and our sins Passio Christi. Passio hominis from this face a solemn majesty shines, a paradoxical lordship. This face, these hands and these feet, this side, this whole body speaks. It is itself a word we can hear in the silence. How does the Shroud speak? It speaks with blood, and blood is life! The Shroud is an Icon written in blood; the blood of a man who was scourged, crowned with thorns, crucified and whose right side was pierced. The Image impressed upon the Shroud is that of a dead man, but the blood speaks of his life. Every trace of blood speaks of love and of life. Especially that huge stain near his rib, made by the blood and water that flowed copiously from a great wound inflicted by the tip of a Roman spear. That blood and that water speak of life. It is like a spring that murmurs in the silence, and we can hear it, we can listen to it in the silence of Holy Saturday.

“Dear friends, let us always praise the Lord for his faithful and merciful love. When we leave this holy place, may we carry in our eyes the image of the Shroud, may we carry in our hearts this word of love and praise God with a life full of faith, hope and charity.”


‘National Geographic’ also carried the story of the Shroud in its latest edition, under the title, Why Shroud of Turin’s Secrets Continue to Elude Science. While written with a slightly sceptical view of the Shroud’s authenticity, it is notwithstanding an interesting read, especially for those looking for the most recent scientific investigations.

Posted in Uncategorized | 30 Comments

Litany of reparation for sacrileges committed against the Blessed Sacrament

In today’s lack of Faith in the Holy Eucharist made manifest in most Catholic parishes in the world, this litany is a necessary remedy for the sacrileges and outrages committed against Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament:

Lord, have mercy on us;
Christ, have mercy on us;
Lord, have mercy on us;
God the Father of Mercy, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Mediator between God and man,
Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, the Enlightener of hearts,
Have mercy on us.
Holy and undivided Trinity, Have mercy on us.

O Sacred Host! Victim of reparation for the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.
O Sacred Host! Annihilated on the altar for us and by us, Have mercy on us.
O Sacred Host! Despised and neglected, Have mercy on us.
O Sacred Host! Neglected and abandoned in Your temples, Have mercy on us.
Be merciful unto us: Spare us, O Lord.
Be merciful unto us: Hear us, O Lord.

                     (Response: We offer You our reparations, O Lord)

For so many unworthy Communions
For the irreverence of Christians,
For the continual blasphemies of the impious,
For the infamous discourses made in Your Holy Temples,
For the crimes of sinners,
For the sacrileges which profane Your sacrament of love,
For the coldness of the greater part of Your children,
For their contempt of Your loving invitations,
For the infidelity of those who call themselves Your
For the abuse of Your grace,
For our unfaithfulness,
For our delay in loving You,
For our tepidity in Your Holy Service,
For Your bitter sadness at the loss of souls,
For Your long waiting at the door of our hearts,
For Your loving sighs,
For Your loving tears,
For Your loving imprisonment,
For Your loving death,

(Response: We sinners beseech You, hear us)

That You spare us, that You hear us,
That You will make known Your love for us in this most
Holy Sacrament,
That You will vouchsafe to accept our reparation, made in
the spirit of humility.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world:
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world: Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world:
Have mercy on us, O Lord.

Let us pray:
Lord Jesus, Who has chosen to expose Yourself to all the outrages of the impious, rather than withdraw Your Sacred Body from our Churches, grant us the grace to bewail, with true bitterness of heart, the injuries and sacrileges committed against you, and to repair as far as lies in our power, and with sincere love, the many ignominies and contempts You have received, and still continue to receive, in this ineffable mystery, Who lives and reigns with God, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Irish Marriage Referendum: sacrifice is always at the heart of true love

by Deacon Nick Donnelly
Last time I wrote about Enda Kenny’s same-sex ‘marriage’ referendum for Catholic Voice, a reporter for the Irish Sun newspaper contacted me. He told me my article proved controversial among ‘Yes’ supporters and asked me how I felt about them posting angry messages about me. The issue seemed to centre around my quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church which describes homosexual sex ‘as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”’ (CCC 2357). 
I don’t like being at the receiving end of other peoples’ anger, but I’d rather this than deny the truths about man and sexuality contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. To me, the Catechism is not a dry academic book but loving truth that has saved me from committing grave evil.
How the Catechism saved me from committing a grave evilMy wife and I had been married for five years and not conceived, so our GP referred us to the hospital. From the very first appointment the consultants wanted us to sign up for IVF. We said ‘no’ because we knew that the Church said it was wrong. But we didn’t know why the Church taught that IVF was wrong. We underwent tests, and nothing else was said about IVF. Then one day a big envelope dropped through the letter box containing a letter and information pack informing us that – without our agreement – we had been enrolled on an IVF programme in London, with a date for starting the first cycle of IVF treatment.This was a great temptation because we both longed with every cell of our bodies to have children and we were being offered that possibility. To help us think it through I got out the Catechism of the Catholic Church which sets out the moral reasons why IVF is wrong. The following section helped us:

‘A child is not something owed to one, but is a gift. The “supreme gift of marriage” is a human person. A child may not be considered a piece of property, an idea to which an alleged “right to a child” would lead. In this area, only the child possesses genuine rights: the right “to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents,” and “the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception.” (CCC 2378).

We contacted the IVF clinic and declined the appointment. Fifteen years later we naturally conceived Gabriel and three years afterwards Ariel was conceived. Tragically both our babies died before birth. After each death our consultants again advised that we undergo IVF treatment. After all these years, and despite times of bitter grief, I am convinced that we came to the right decision with the moral guidance of the Church.

The doctrines of the Church save us from harm

Since reading that paragraph in the Catechism we have discovered that every year 100,000’s of embryonic human beings are killed, even experimented on, as the by-product of IVF treatments. Every word of that paragraph of the Catechism on IVF has been proven true – embryonic human beings are ‘considered a piece of property’, their rights as persons disregarded and violated from the moment of conception.

If it hadn’t been for the moral truths presented so clearly in the Catechism we would now be living with the unbearable grief of knowing that we were responsible for the deaths of our own children because we had used IVF. We couldn’t bear paying that price to hold babies in our arms.

This experience has taught me that the doctrines of the Church are not abstract or theoretical propositions thought up by academics and intellectuals remote from life. The Church’s doctrines on man’s nature and sexuality are merciful truths given us by God to save us from inflicting grave evils on ourselves and others.

The dignity of the homosexual person

In the same way, the doctrines on homosexuality and homosexual sex are intended to save men and women with homosexual inclinations from inflicting grave evils on themselves and others. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states the following about homosexual sex acts:

‘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.’ (CCC 2357).

It’s important to be clear what this paragraph is saying and what it’s not saying. The Catechism is definitely not saying that men or women with homosexual inclinations are depraved or ‘intrinsically disordered’. The Church’s sexual morality makes an emphatic distinction between the person and his or her acts. The Catholic understanding of the intrinsic dignity of the human person means that we are more than our moral acts and we are more than our sexual orientation. This emphasis on the intrinsic dignity of the person is at the heart of the Church’s approach to the pastoral care of the homosexual person. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote:

‘The human person, made in the image and likeness of God, can hardly be adequately described by a reductionist reference to his or her sexual orientation… Today, the Church provides a badly needed context for the care of the human person when she refuses to consider the person as a “heterosexual” or a “homosexual” and insists that every person has a fundamental Identity: the creature of God, and by grace, his child and heir to eternal life.’ (CDF, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons).

Why are homosexual sex acts gravely depraved and intrinsically disordered?

The Catechism’s description of the immoral nature of homosexual sex acts is set within its examination of ‘offences against chastity’. It’s common for people to mistakenly think that only virgins, priests and religious are called to practice chastity, when the Church actually teaches that all people, single and married, have a vocation to chastity. The Catechism defines chastity as an ‘apprenticeship in self-mastery’ and ‘training in freedom’ required by all people:

‘Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man’s belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman. The virtue of chastity therefore involves the integrity of the person and the integrality of the gift. (CCC, 2337).

Adultery, fornication, masturbation, pornography, and homosexual sex acts are ‘offences against chastity’ because they are ‘gravely contrary’ to the dignity, integrity and meaning that God has given to sexuality.

The nuptial meaning of the body

This dignity and purpose given to sexuality by God is called the ‘nuptial meaning of the body’. Simply put, revelation and natural law tell us that God created human beings in His image as the complementarity of maleness and femaleness:

‘So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.’ ‘Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.’ (Genesis 1:27; 2:24).

Sexual intercourse between husband and wife expresses this God-given complementarity: the husband’s body, which expresses his person as male, has a ‘nuptial significance’, for he is so biologically structured to give himself to his wife by entering into her body-person, and so give himself to her. The wife’s body which expresses her person as female, has a ‘nuptial significance’ for she is so biologically structured to receive his body-person into herself, and in so receiving him, to give herself to him. (Paraphrased from Dr. William May).

It is called ‘nuptial’ because only through the Sacrament of Marriage are the conditions established for the total, unreserved giving of self between husband and wife – personal unity, fidelity, indissolubility, and openness to children.

Furthermore, the nuptial meaning of the complementarity of maleness and femaleness has as its purpose the procreation and upbringing of children. In becoming ‘one flesh’, husband and wife also become one complete organism capable of generating human life. This ‘nuptial meaning of the body is also expressed by the fact that the husband and the wife possess the two half’s of the one human reproductive organ. Precisely because husbands and wives are married, they have capacitated themselves – according to Revelation – to be co-creators of other human beings with God in a way that responds to the dignity of persons – self-giving love that is faithful, permanent and open to children.

Consequently, God’s purpose for sex and sexual love insists that genital sexual acts are exclusive to marriage between a woman and a man. It is only within marriage between a man and a woman that sex fulfils its intrinsic meaning. Therefore, any sexual acts outside marriage are not only nonsensical, but also damaging to the meaning and language of sexual love.

Homosexual sex acts, and masturbation, possess no ‘nuptial meaning’ because they reject, and contradict, the complementarity of maleness and femaleness and openness to the procreation of children. This is why the Church’s moral doctrine refers to these two types of sexual behaviour as ‘intrinsically disordered’. Even more so, anal sex or sodomy, committed by homosexual or heterosexual couples, are ‘acts of grave depravity’ because they simulate, and thereby mock, the sexual complementarity of maleness and femaleness, and are definitively opposed to the procreation of children. As the Catechism puts it, ‘They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity.’ (CCC 2357).

If Enda Kenny and the ruling elite of Ireland succeed in legalising so called same-sex marriage, they will damage the God-given meaning and language of sexual love, inflicting untold harm on countless homosexual persons by encouraging them to live a lie.

The seeming good of possibly having a child from IVF is a harmful illusion highlighted by the death of the other children. The seeming good of sexual acts other than between a married man and woman is a harmful illusion highlighted by the reality of sexual complementarity. God does not ask the impossible but he does ask for sacrifice. Sacrifice is always at the heart of true love.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 9 Comments

Harvington Hall

I took the family to see this fascinating place today. We had a guided tour by a knowledgeable lady in full Tudor costume, and saw four of the priest-holes directly, and the secret entrance (up a chimney!) to the final two in the attics.

Gertrude wrote here about St Nicholas Owen, the genius joiner who built the priest holes.

Do visit!

Posted in Uncategorized | 15 Comments

Cardinal Burke Responds to Recent Criticisms

In an Italian-language interview, the patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta said, ‘I am not against the Pope; I have never spoken out against the Pope. … My purpose is to serve the truth.

CardinalBurke_visit_March-4Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, 66, is troubled by the negative campaign that has been waged against him. Ordained a bishop by Pope John Paul II in 1995, the respected expert in canon law was called to Rome by Pope Benedict XVI in 2008 as prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura before being appointed cardinal in 2010.

In recent months, critics have described him as an “ultraconservative fanatic,” “anti-Conciliar,” “in conspiracy against the Pope” and even ready for a schism should the upcoming family synod open up unwelcome changes.

The criticism has been so defamatory that in Italy several bishops have even refused to host his lectures in their dioceses. Where he has been allowed to give a conference — as recently in some cities in the north of Italy — there are invariably priests who oppose him and accuse him of spreading propaganda against the Pope.

“It’s total nonsense, I don’t understand this attitude. I have never said a single word against the Pope; I strive only to serve the truth, a task that we all have. I have always seen my talks and my activities as a support to the Petrine ministry. The people who know me well can witness to the fact I am not anti-papal. On the contrary, I have always been extremely loyal and wanted to serve the Holy Father, as I am doing now.”

Indeed, meeting him in his apartment, a stone’s throw from St. Peter’s Square, with his friendly manner and spontaneity, Cardinal Burke bears no resemblance to that hard defender of “cold doctrine” as he is described by mainstream media outlets.


Cardinal Burke, in the debate that preceded and followed the first synod on the family, some of your statements did sound like criticisms of the Pope, or at least that is how they were interpreted. For example, quite a stir was caused by your recent remark, “I will resist; I’ll resist,” as a response to a possible decision of the Pope to grant Communion to the divorced and remarried.

That comment was misrepresented, and there was no reference to Pope Francis. I believe that because I have always spoken very clearly on the issue of marriage and the family, there are people who want to undermine what I say by depicting me as an enemy of the Pope or even ready for a schism by using that answer I gave in an interview with a French television channel.


How should we interpret that answer?

Quite simply. The journalist asked me what I would do if, hypothetically, not referring to Pope Francis, a pontiff were to make decisions contrary to the Church’s doctrine and practice. I replied I should resist, because we are all in the service of the truth, starting with the Pope. The Church is not a political body, in the sense of power. The power is Jesus Christ and his Gospel. Therefore, I replied I would resist, and it would not be the first time that this has happened in the Church. There have been several moments in history where someone had to stand up to the pope, beginning with St. Paul against St. Peter, in the matter of Judaizers who wanted to impose circumcision on the converted Greeks. In my case, I am not resisting Pope Francis at all because he hasn’t done anything against the doctrine. Nor do I see myself in a fight against the Pope, as they try to depict me. I’m not pursuing the interests of a group or party. I am simply trying, as a cardinal, to be a teacher of the faith.


Another criticism made against you is your alleged passion for “lace,” a comment used in a demeaning way to criticize your preferred clerical and liturgical vestments as something that the Pope cannot endure.

The Pope has never made me aware that he disapproves of the way I dress, which, anyway, has always been within norms of the Church. I celebrate the liturgy also in the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, and there are vestments for this which do not exist for the celebration of the ordinary form, but I always wear what is required for the rite that I am celebrating. I am not making a political statement against the Pope’s way of dressing. It has to be said that every pope has his own style, but he does not impose this on all the other bishops. So I don’t understand why this should be a cause for controversy.


But newspapers often use a photo of you wearing a hat clearly out of date.

Yes, I know, but it’s just incredible. I can explain: That photo was spread around after Il Foglio published it alongside the interview I did at the time of the synod. The interview had been done well, but, unfortunately, they chose a photo that had nothing to do with it, which I regret, because, in this way, they gave the mistaken impression of a person who lives in the past. The truth is that, after being named cardinal, I was invited to a diocese in the south of Italy for a conference on the liturgy. For the occasion, the organizer decided to give me as a gift an old-fashioned cardinal’s hat. I have no idea where he got it from. I held it in my hand and obviously had no intention of wearing it regularly, but he asked me to put it on to take at least one photo. This was the only time I put that hat on my head, but, unfortunately, that picture has been published all over the world, and some use it to give the impression that I go around like that. But I’ve never worn it, not even for a ceremony.


You have also been named as the inspiration if not the promoter of the “Petition to Pope Francis for the Family,” which has been circulated to collect signatures by a number of traditionalist websites.

I did sign that petition, but it is not my initiative or my idea. Nor did I write or collaborate in drafting the text. Anyone who says otherwise is affirming something false. As far as I know, it is an initiative by laypeople. I was shown the text, and I signed it, as have many other cardinals.


Another of the charges against you is that you are against the Second Vatican Council.

These labels are easy to apply, but there is no basis in reality. All my theological education in the major seminary was based on the documents of Vatican II, and I am still trying to study these documents more deeply. I’m not at all opposed to the Council, and if one reads my writings, he will find that I quote the documents of Vatican II many times. What I don’t agree with is the so-called “spirit of the Council,” which is not faithful to the Council texts but purports to create something totally new, a new church that has nothing to do with all the so-called aberrations of the past. On this matter, I wholeheartedly follow Pope Benedict XVI’s enlightening presentation to the Roman Curia for Christmas 2005: It is the famous discourse in which he explains the correct hermeneutic, which is that of reform in continuity, as opposed to the hermeneutic of rupture in discontinuity that many sectors promote. Pope Benedict XVI’s presentation is brilliant and explains everything. Many things that happened after the Council and are attributed to the Council have nothing to do with the Council. This is the plain truth.


Did Pope Francis “punish” you by removing you from the Apostolic Signatura and entrusting you with the patronage of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta? 

In an interview with the Argentine newspaper La Nacion, the Pope already answered this question by explaining the reasons for his decision. This already says everything, and it is not up to me to comment. I can only say, without revealing any confidential information, that the Pope has never told me or given me the impression that there was anything he wanted to punish me for.


Perhaps your “reputation” has to do with what Cardinal Walter Kasper called the “synod battle,” which also seems to grow in intensity as we get closer to the ordinary synod this coming October. At what stage are we now?

I would say that there is now a much more extensive discussion on the topics covered by the synod, and this is a good thing. There is a greater number of cardinals, bishops and laypeople who are intervening, and this is very positive. Therefore, I don’t understand all the fuss last year made over the book Remaining in the Truth of Christ, to which I contributed, along with four other cardinals and four specialists on marriage.

Continue reading over at the National Catholic Register


Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

General Election: Deacon Nick Donnelly banned again!

As the countdown toward the General Election continues, and the Scottish Bishops have given their opinions; as have the English and Welsh Bishops, we are left to consider which political party we, the Catholic laity might receive our vote. Deacon Nick Donnelly, who has always been fearless in promulgating truth and our Catholic Faith has yet again been ‘banned’. This time by the Press (he is obviously doing something right). The ‘offending’ article is reproduced below as it will give all our readers eligible to vote in the UK food for thought; as it will readers elsewhere who will be facing their own decisions regarding who they might trust to govern their respective countries. It is incumbent on us all to use our vote wisely and according to our consciences. Read on …. and consider where you will stand in May.


The editor of the Barrow Evening Mail has banned my article on the General Election from their weekly Christian Comment section.   Here’s my banned article:

Every General Election I am faced with a dilemma as a Christian – which candidate and political party can I vote for in good conscience? As a Christian I no longer trust the Labour party because of their actions against the Church when last in government. It was Tony Blair who destroyed the network of Catholic adoption agencies in this country by forcing them to place children with gay couples. As a consequence the Church had to cut her links with adoption agencies that ordinary Christians had built up over a hundred years. How can I vote for a candidate who won’t protect babies from being aborted because they’re girls? Recently, the vast majority of Labour MPs, including Barrow’s John Woodcock, voted down legislation that would have ensured that babies are protected from sex-selection abortion. I also can’t vote for the Liberal Democrats or Green party because they hold more extreme positions than Labour that are impossible for me to reconcile with my Christian Faith. How can Christians trust David Cameron after his legalisation of same sex marriage which did not feature in either the 2010 manifesto or in the Coalition Agreement with the Liberal Democrats? And now Christian schools are being put into special measures by Ofsted for not adequately teaching LGBT rights and issues. When it comes to the Conservative party I’m profoundly reluctant to vote for their candidate Simon Fell considering his party’s record on life issues and same-sex marriage. It was Margaret Thatcher’s government that legalised experimentation on embryonic human beings conceived through IVF. This original Tory legislation has led to the creation in the laboratory of animal-human hybrids and recent legalisation allowing the destruction of embryonic human beings as to be used as spare parts for siblings. Some Christians tell me that they’re going to vote of UKIP as a protest vote but even that option is not open to me because of their policy of cutting the UK’s foreign aid budget by two-thirds. It would be gravely immoral to cut aid to some of the poorest and most vulnerable families and children in the world who depend on the UK for food, medicine and education. I consider voting at a General Election to be a solemn and binding duty on every citizen because countless men and women have given their lives to protect our freedom as a democracy. But what do Christians do when all the political parties advocate a whole variety of policies that we consider immoral? I’m sure I’m not the only one to conclude that no political party at this General Election represents our moral world view as a Christians. History tells us that new political movements emerge when groups of people find themselves politically marginalised or disenfranchised. Have we come to the point when Christians feel strongly enough to challenge the secular ruling establishment in this country?

Deacon Nick Donnelly, Our Lady of Furness, Duke St, Barrow.

The reasons given: ‘It is highly politicised and as we are now in purdah (the period running up to an election during which newspapers must be extremely careful of what political content they publish), it is not appropriate for publication I’m afraid.’


The only comment I can make is that obviously the remainder of the British Press do not share the editorial policy of the Barrow Evening Mail considering the amount of propaganda we are showered with by the secular agenda. I leave the last word to Deacon Nick:

“As a UK Catholic my vote doesn’t count & my voice doesn’t count. Politically marginalised, disenfranchised & censored”

Posted in Newsflash | Tagged , , | 30 Comments

Have ‘The Snakes’ Returned to Ireland? (The Irish Referendum on Marriage Equality – 22/5/15)

“Fighting for ‘Gay Marriage’ Generally Involves LYING” (states Masha Gessen, LGBT activist)

With little over a month to go for the referendum on so-called gay marriage bill in Ireland, with all the indications pointing to a “yes” vote winning over the “no” vote, comes this most revealing YouTube video from Mandate for Marriage of the sneaky, lying aims of those promoting the ‘gay marriage’ abomination.

But wait – this is not all! What about all those coming “yes” votes from those who identify themselves as ‘Catholic’, especially those among our clergy? The ACP, imbibed (in their own words) with the “spirit” of Vatican II has issued surely the most cowardly and treacherous statement imaginable on this coming referendum:

The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) in Ireland has decided not to adopt a position in favour or against the Marriage Equality referendum!

At the same time we appeal for a respectful and civilised debate in which the issues involved can be discussed in a calm and reasonable manner. Sexual orientation does not debar anyone from God’s love. If as priests we are speaking on this matter, we need to remember that the use of intemperate language can cause deep hurt among gay people and their families, as well as doing further damage to an already ailing church. The ACP asserts the particular responsibility that devolves on priests to measure their words carefully, and not to direct their parishioners to vote Yes or No.

We look forward to a debate that will be characterized by freedom of speech and respectful listening so that the best result for the Irish people might be reached.

967f316e2bee74c84ac75a704925a345What? Did I read that right? And these are the men who vowed to uphold the Church’s teachings on Faith and Morals, and to lead souls to Heaven? Without a doubt, the snakes (or evils) that were driven out of Ireland by the great St. Patrick, have returned in force. The utter confusion of most of the commenters below the ACP statement, and in the country at large, says it all. And who is the originator of confusion among the faithful? Yup – the first ‘serpent’ mentioned in the Bible, ‘the father of lies’.

After a first post by an Irish Catholic blogger entitled “Irish clergy refuse to defend Marriage” giving some unsettling data on how (and why) Mass attendance has dropped so low since Diarmuid Martin became Archbishop of Dublin, he/she writes a followup on the subject of the disgraceful stance of the ACP where he says:

“Fr. Brendan Hoban spoke on RTE Radio about this topic with words that were so far removed from Catholicism that it is hard to imagine someone on the Yes side of the marriage referendum feigning interest in the faith with as much effort to be subversive as he is. He tells people to look at the issues and make an assessment of them.

Quick look, it’s a mortal sin. It’s that simple.”

It is heart-breaking and tragic that the Emerald Isle, a land once known as an “Island of Saints” and steeped in Catholic piety, whose missionaries brought the Gospel to great parts of the world; who in previous centuries faithfully rekindled devotion to the Bride of Christ in the West; who held onto their Catholic Faith at such high cost during those dark Penal years… should now, according to the preliminary opinion polls, be voting to overturn God’s law by legalising same-sex ‘marriage’! Or in other words – preparing to welcome “a state-sanctioned celebration of perversion”! In truth, Ireland’s plunge into widespread apostasy over such a short period of time, encouraged and abetted by the complacency of many of its Catholic clergy, is simply terrifying to behold.

Taken from a comment on a post entitled, “Evil: Is It Ever Moral To Be Neutral” on the Catholic Truth blog about the approaching referendum: “Not very long ago one would have been considered a lunatic to predict the legalisation of homosexual ‘marriage’ (an unmatchable oxymoron). […] Along with abortion, euthanasia, divorce, and contraception what we are dealing with is the latest wave in the tsunami of depravity inundating the western world. Does all this not reflect Our Lady’s warning at Fatima? […]  This story is just one more lamentable example of the repudiation of the Social Kingship of Christ and the undeniable withdrawal of graces in the post-conciliar wilderness. And we’re not just talking about lack of catechesis and faulty theology here. The gravity of sodomy, like killing unborn children, is a question of very basic natural law, knowable by any illiterate bushman who has never seen a missionary.

“The effects of modernist mind rot, as well those of the devil, the flesh and the world are there for all to see. I think Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote something along the lines that when men separate themselves from God, their intellects become dulled. The US Catholic writer Flannery O’Connor, who described herself as a “hillbilly Thomist”, and who died in 1964, once wrote that “the moral sense has been bred out of certain sections of the population, like the wings that have been bred off certain chickens to produce more white meat on them”. “Certain sections” is now virtually the entire western world.”

Our Blessed Lord stated clearly that, “He that is not with me, is against me: and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth” (Matt.12:30).

A few hours before his death G.K. Chesterton pronounced these sombre words: “The issue is now quite clear: it is between light and darkness and everyone must choose his side.”

“In our time more than ever before, the chief strength of the wicked lies in the cowardice and weakness of good men…All the strength of Satan’s reign is due to the easing-going weakness of Catholics”- Pope Saint Pius X.

It is startlingly evident, that all those members of the ACP (and every other Irish voter) who choose not to adopt a position against the inappropriately named ‘Marriage Equality’ referendum” are siding with those who are against Our Blessed Lord and His Divine Law.

[Last Tuesday a statement was issued by Ireland’s Catholic bishops and published in the Irish Times, warning that the church may no longer perform the civil aspects of weddings if marriage is extended to same-sex couples. Martin Long, director of the Catholic Communications Office said: “At the moment on behalf of the State, the priest acts as the solemniser of the marriage between a woman and a man. Obviously if the definition of marriage changes then this role will change.”]

Posted in Uncategorized | 53 Comments


“What would spirituality give me?” said an alcoholic to the Master

“Non-alcoholic intoxication.” was the answer.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

St. Bernadette of Lourdes – 16th April

St. Bernadette

St. Bernadette

Bernadette (the sobriquet by which she was universally known) was the daughter of François Soubirous (Francés Sobirós in Occitan) (1807–1871), a miller, and Louise (Loïsa Casteròt in Occitan) (1825–1866), a laundress. She was the eldest of nine children, four of whom died in infancy.

Bernadette was born on 7th January 1844 and baptised at the local parish church, St. Pierre’s, on 9th January, her parents’ wedding anniversary. Bernadette’s godmother was Bernarde Casterot, her mother’s sister, a moderately wealthy widow who owned a tavern. Hard times had fallen on France and the family lived in extreme poverty. Bernadette was a sickly child. She contracted cholera as a toddler and suffered severe asthma for the rest of her life. Bernadette attended the day school conducted by the Sisters of Charity and Christian Instruction from Nevers.


By the time of the events at the grotto, her family’s financial and social status had declined to the point where they lived in a one-room basement, formerly used as a jail, called le cachot, “the dungeon,” where they were housed for free by her mother’s cousin, Andre Sajoux.

On 11th February 1858, Bernadette, then aged 14, was out gathering firewood with her sister Marie and a friend near the grotto of Massabielle (Tuta de Massavielha) when she experienced her first vision. As she recounted later, while the other girls crossed the little stream in front of the grotto and walked on, Bernadette stayed behind, looking for a place to cross where she wouldn’t get her stockings wet. She finally sat down to take her shoes off in order to cross the water and was lowering her stocking when she heard the sound of rushing wind, but nothing moved. A wild rose in a natural niche in the grotto, however, did move. From the niche, or rather the dark alcove behind it, “came a dazzling light, and a white figure.” This was the first of 18 visions of what she referred to as aquero (pronounced [aˈk(e)ɾɔ]), Gascon Occitan for “that”. In later testimony, she called it “a small young lady” (uo petito damizelo). Her sister and her friend stated that they had seen nothing.


On 14th February, after Sunday Mass, Bernadette, with her sister Marie and some other girls, returned to the grotto. Bernadette knelt down immediately, saying she saw aquero again and falling into a trance. When one of the girls threw holy water at the niche and another threw a rock from above that shattered on the ground, the apparition disappeared. On her next visit, 18th February, she said that “the vision” asked her to return to the grotto every day for a fortnight.

This period of almost daily visions came to be known as la Quinzaine sacrée, “holy fortnight.” Initially, her parents, especially her mother, were embarrassed and tried to forbid her to go. The apparition did not identify herself as the Mother of God, “the Immaculate Conception“, until the sixteenth vision. Although the townspeople who believed she was telling the truth assumed she saw the Virgin Mary, Bernadette never claimed it to be Mary, consistently using the word aquero, or ‘the lady’. She described the lady as wearing a white veil, a blue girdle and with a yellow rose on each foot — compatible with “a description of any statue of the Virgin in a village church”.

Bernadette’s story caused a sensation with the townspeople, who were divided in their opinions on whether or not Bernadette was telling the truth. Some believed her to have a mental illness and demanded she be put in an asylum.

The other contents of Bernadette’s reported visions were simple and focused on the need for prayer and penance. On 25 February she explained that the vision had told her “to drink of the water of the spring, to wash in it and to eat the herb that grew there,” as an act of penance. To everyone’s surprise, the next day the grotto was no longer muddy but clear water flowed. On 2nd March, at the thirteenth of the alleged apparitions, Bernadette told her family that the lady said that “a chapel should be built and a procession formed”.

Her 16th claimed vision, which she stated went on for over an hour, was on 25th March (feast of the Annunciation). According to Bernadette’s account, during that visitation, she again asked the woman for her name but the lady just smiled back. She repeated the question three more times and finally heard the lady say, in Gascon Occitan, “I am the Immaculate Conception” (Qué soï era immaculado councepcioũ, a phonetic transcription of Que soi era immaculada concepcion).

Some of the people who interviewed her after her revelation of the visions thought her simple-minded. However, despite being rigorously interviewed by officials of both the Catholic Church and the French government, she stuck consistently to her story.

Statue of Our Lady of Lourdes in Lourdes, France

Statue of Our Lady of Lourdes in Lourdes, France

Results of her visions

After thorough investigation Church authorities confirmed the authenticity of the apparitions in 1862. In the 150 years since Bernadette dug up the spring, 69 cures have been verified by the Lourdes Medical Bureau as “inexplicable” — after what the Church claims are “extremely rigorous scientific and medical examinations” that failed to find any other explanation. The Lourdes Commission that examined Bernadette after the visions ran an intensive analysis on the water and found that, while it had a high mineral content, it contained nothing out of the ordinary that would account for the cures attributed to it. Bernadette said that it was faith and prayer that cured the sick.

Her request to the local priest to build a chapel at the site of her visions eventually gave rise to a number of chapels and churches at Lourdes. The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes is now one of the major Catholic pilgrimage sites in the world. One of the churches built at the site, the Basilica of St. Pius X, can accommodate 25,000 people and was dedicated by the future Pope John XXIII when he was the Papal Nuncio to France. Close to 5 million pilgrims from all over the world visit Lourdes (population of about 15,000) every year.

Later years

Disliking the attention she was attracting, Bernadette went to the hospice school run by the Sisters of Charity of Nevers where she finally learned to read and write. Although she considered joining the Carmelites, her health precluded her entering any of the strict contemplative orders. On 29th July 1866, with 42 other candidates, she took the religious habit of a postulant and joined the Sisters of Charity at their motherhouse at Nevers. The Mother Superior at the time gave her the name Marie-Bernarde in honour of her godmother who was named “Bernarde”.

She spent the rest of her brief life there, working as an assistant in the infirmary and later as a sacristan, creating beautiful embroidery for altar cloths and vestments. She later contracted tuberculosis of the bone in her right knee. She had followed the development of Lourdes as a pilgrimage shrine while she still lived at Lourdes, but was not present for the consecration of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception there in 1876.

For several months prior to her death, she was unable to take an active part in convent life. She eventually died of her long-term illness at the age of 35 on 16 April 1879. On her deathbed, as she suffered from severe pain and in keeping with the Virgin Mary’s admonition of “Penance, Penance, Penance,” Bernadette proclaimed that “all this is good for Heaven!” Her final words were, “Blessed Mary, Mother of God, pray for me! A poor sinner, a poor sinner-” Bernadette’s body was laid to rest in the Saint Gildard Convent.


Bernadette Soubirous was declared venerable by Pope Pius X, and “Blessed” on 14th June 1925, by Pope Pius XI. She was officially canonised a Saint by Pope Pius XI on 8th December 1933 (feast of the Immaculate Conception). At the end of the Solemn Mass celebrated by Pope Pius XI, the crowd spontaneously intoned the singing of the “Ave Maria” of Lourdes as it is sung in the Sanctuary of Lourdes.

(Main source of content from Catholic Online)

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

On Spiritual Retirement – St. Francis de Sales

cross-of-christTHIS is a matter to which I am very anxious to win your attention, for in it lies one of the surest means of spiritual progress. Strive as often as possible through the day to place yourself in God’s Presence by some one of the methods already suggested. Consider what God does, and what you are doing; you will see His Eyes ever fixed upon you in Love incomparable. “O my God,” you will cry out, “why cannot I always be looking upon Thee, even as Thou lookest on me? why do I think so little about Thee? O my soul, thy only resting-place is God, and yet how often dost thou wander?” The birds have nests in lofty trees, and the stag his refuge in the thick coverts, where he can shelter from the sun’s burning heat; and just so, my child, our hearts ought daily to choose some resting-place, either Mount Calvary, or the Sacred Wounds, or some other spot close to Christ, where they can retire at will to seek rest and refreshment amid toil, and to be as in a fortress, protected from temptation. Blessed indeed is the soul which can truly say, “Thou, Lord, art my Refuge, my Castle, my Stay, my Shelter in the storm and in the heat of the day.”

Be sure then, my child, that while externally occupied with business and social duties, you frequently retire within the solitude of your own heart. That solitude need not be in any way hindered by the crowds which surround you—they surround your body, not your soul, and your heart remains alone in the Sole Presence of God. This is what David sought after amid his manifold labours; the Psalms are full of such expressions as “Lord, I am ever with Thee. The Lord is always at my right hand. I lift up mine eyes to Thee, O Thou Who dwellest in the heavens. Mine eyes look unto God.”

There are few social duties of sufficient importance to prevent an occasional retirement of the heart into this sacred solitude. When S. Catherine of Sienna was deprived by her parents of any place or time for prayer and meditation, Our Lord inspired her with the thought of making a little interior oratory in her mind, into which she could retire in heart, and so enjoy a holy solitude amid her outward duties. And henceforward, when the world assaulted her, she was able to be indifferent, because, so she said, she could retire within her secret oratory, and find comfort with her Heavenly Bridegroom. So she counselled her spiritual daughters to make a retirement within their heart, in which to dwell. Do you in like manner let your heart withdraw to such an inward retirement, where, apart from all men, you can lay it bare, and treat face to face with God, even as David says that he watched like a “pelican in the wilderness, or an owl in the desert, or a sparrow sitting alone upon the housetop.” Pelican These words have a sense beyond their literal meaning, or King David’s habit of retirement for contemplation;—and we may find in them three excellent kinds of retreats in which to seek solitude after the Saviour’s Example, Who is symbolised as He hung upon Mount Calvary by the pelican of the wilderness, feeding her young ones with her blood. So again His Nativity in a lonely stable might find a foreshadowing in the owl of the desert, bemoaning and lamenting: and in His Ascension He was like the sparrow rising high above the dwellings of men. Thus in each of these ways we can make a retreat amid the daily cares of life and its business.

When the blessed Elzear, Count of Arian-enProvence, had been long separated from his pious and beloved wife Delphine, she sent a messenger to inquire after him, and he returned with the answer, “I am well, dear wife, and if you would see me, seek me in the Wounded Side of our Dear Lord Jesus; that is my sure dwelling-place, and elsewhere you will seek me in vain.” Surely he was a true Christian knight who spoke thus.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment