Thursday, 5 April 2018

The disciple therefore, whom Jesus loved, saith to Peter, "It is the Lord".

Jesus was well aware that immediately after his crucifixion and death,  His followers would be filled with fear and uncertainty about the future. At that stage they did not understand why events had unfolded in the manner that they did, and it was only later through the power of the Holy Ghost , that their eyes and minds were opened.

To reinforce and strengthen the faith of His disciples, and to remove  their doubts  concerning His  resurrection from the dead, Our Lord Jesus Christ  appeared to his followers and disciples on at least ten occasions after His resurrection:-

 First,  at the sepulchre by the holy women; Mark 16 v 9-10.  John20 v 14-18

Second,  by the women returning from the sepulchre; Matthew 28 v 9-10.  Mark 16 v 12

Third,  by Peter; Luke 24 v 12, v 35

Fourth,  by the two going to Emmaus; Luke 24 v 18-32

Fifth,  in Jerusalem, when Thomas was not present; John 20 v 19-23

Sixth,  when Thomas saw Him; John 20 v 26-29

Seventh,  on the sea of Tiberias; John 21 v 1-14

Eighth,  by all the eleven  on a mountain of Galilee, mentioned by Matthew; Matthew 28  v  17-19

Ninth,  when for the last time He sat at meal with the disciples; M ark 16  v 14-18.  Luke 24 v 36-49

Tenth,  when He was seen no longer upon earth, but ascending into heaven  in a cloud. Luke 24 v.  50-53

Additionally St John, in his epilogue, writes of  ‘ many other signs Jesus worked in the sight of His disciples, which are not written down’. John 20 v 30

Today at Mass, the Gospel was taken from St John Ch. 21 verses 1-14. I find  this particular Gospel  especially  positive and affirmative in its message of Christ’s victory over death,  depicted by His resurrection from the dead, and His subsequent appearance to some of his closest apostles and disciples. The miracle of the catch of fish and the appearance of Christ in person sharing a meal with His apostles, a meal prepared by Christ Himself, I find truly symbolic when related to receiving Holy Communion at Mass. Of course Holy Communion is the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, rather than just a meal as would have been the case in the Gospel incident, nevertheless for me, the symbolism is still there.


                'Miraculous draught of fish' (1444) - Konrad Witz 

Easter Wednesday.  Gospel:  John xxi. v 1-14.

‘At that time, Jesus showed Himself again to His disciples at the sea of Tiberias. And He showed Himself after this manner:   There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas who is called Didymus, and Nathaniel, who was of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples.  Simon Peter saith to them:  I go afishing.  They say to him:  we also come with thee.  And they went forth, and entered into the ship: and that night they caught nothing.  But when the morning was come, Jesus stood on the shore;  yet His disciples knew not that it was Jesus.  Jesus therefore said to them:  Children, have you nothing to eat?  They answered Him:  No.  He saith to them:  Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and you shall find.  They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it, for the multitude of fishes.  That disciple therefore whom Jesus loved, saith to Peter:  It is the Lord.  Simon Peter, when he heard it was the Lord, girt his coat about him (for he was naked) and cast himself into the sea.  But the other disciples came in the ship, (for they were not far from the land, but as it were two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fishes.  As soon then as they came to land, they saw hot coals lying, and a fish laid thereon, and bread.  Jesus saith to them:  Bring hither of the fishes which you have caught.  Simon Peter went up (into the ship), and drew the net to land, full of great fishes, one hundred and fifty-three.  And although there were so many, the net was not broken.  Jesus saith to them:  Come, and eat.  And none of them who were at meat durst ask Him:  Who art Thou?  knowing that it was the Lord.  And Jesus cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish in like manner.  This is now the third time that Jesus was manifested to His disciples, after He was risen from the dead.'

Monday, 19 February 2018

'Pro-life v Pro-choice' / 'David v Goliath' - we know the winner!

Acknowledgement  BBC Nottingham for the following report,  14 February 2018.   

 ‘The activists intend to take part in a “prayer vigil” outside the hospital for 40 days’
(BBC Nottingham.)

 Anti-abortion group 40 Days for Life targets Queen's Medical Centre (BBC Nottingham)

In the last day or two the BBC has highlighted details of the witness of members of the ’40 Days for Life’, a pro-life, anti-abortion Christian organisation, who are keeping a prayer  vigil outside the Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham, during the 40 days of Lent.
John Edwards, from Nottingham 40 Days for Life, said the group was "always peaceful".
"40 Days for Life is a vigil of prayer, not a protest. We pray - for the unborn, and for their mothers, who are also harmed by abortion," he said.
"If anyone approaches us, we will talk to them, and can direct women to sources of support to help them keep their baby if that is what they wish. Many women around the country have been helped by such vigils."
The movement claims to help women by showing them an alternative to abortion, and claims many women have been grateful for their presence outside clinics.
The action has been timed to coincide with Lent and it is the third year in a row that it has taken place in Nottingham.
They intend to be there every day, with different activists signing up for "vigil hours".
The BBC asked to speak to some of these women, but 40 Days for Life has not provided any contact details.  

‘The activists took part in a “vigil of prayer” at the same hospital in 2016 and in 2017 (above).’  (BBC Nottingham)

In November, Home Secretary Amber Rudd ordered an assessment of protests outside abortion clinics following concerns about the tactics of some "aggressive" protesters.
However, researchers into this type of activism have said it is a form of street harassment that is "incredibly intimidating and distressing".
The hospital said the activists had previously caused "distress".

Councillor Nick McDonald, portfolio holder for adults and health, said:-
 "We will repeat, we fully support the trust's stance on this issue, and for our part we will not put up with Nottingham residents, whether staff or patients, being intimidated or harassed as has happened in previous years."
Before the demonstration began, Tracy Taylor, chief executive of Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "Previous protests by this group have caused very considerable distress to patients, visitors and staff, which we are not prepared to allow to happen again.”

‘Dr Pam Lowe said women having abortions can find even “peaceful” demonstrations intimidating and distressing’ (BBC Nottingham)

‘Councillor Nick McDonald described the actions of the group as a “protest” and said it is not wanted in Nottingham’  (BBC Nottingham)

‘Rachel Strong from Pro-Choice Nottingham, took part in counter demonstrations in 2017’  (BBC Nottingham)

Rachel Strong, an activist with Pro-Choice Nottingham, took part in counter demonstrations in 2017 and campaigned to stop 40 Days for Life from going on the hospital site again.
"A small group of us were quite horrified by what they were doing because we are aware that it's really intimidating for anybody accessing reproductive healthcare to have to walk past these kinds of vigils, these kinds of demonstrations," she said.
The trust has said it does not support "any protest, on any matter that impacts adversely on our patients, visitors and staff".
A few observations - the photographs.

A picture is worth a thousand words.  The photographs of the ’40 Days for Life’ supporters, the largest of the groups being four persons, show prayerful and devout people, mostly middle-aged men and younger women, some praying the rosary, with small  banners,  ‘Pray to end abortion’ or ’40 days for Life’, thereon, all standing quietly and peacefully. Each photograph represents a different year, so that in any one year there were never more than a handful of people witnessing and praying for this end. Hardly an ‘incredibly intimidating and distressing’ scene. These people constituted  a tiny group  praying for justice, for the rights of unborn children, as acclaimed under International Law, to be born alive. They are courageous and steadfast in their Christian beliefs, prepared to stand-up peacefully and without aggression to the evil of abortion, and to  offer practical help to those women who want to keep their unborn child. To these they are truly messengers of life and of hope.

We only show one photograph of ‘Pro-Choice’ supporters,  numbering  about twelve and  comprising mostly youngish women, some wearing  jeans with an emblazoned ‘pro-choice’ top. They display a large 'Pro-Choice' banner which leaves no doubt of their identity and purpose, the scene all too familiar as representing the ‘pro-Choice’ brigade, so many of whom seem determined to facilitate and even encourage abortion. It is not fair to label all within the 'pro-Choice' camp, as anti-life, however the actions of so many under the 'pro-Choice' banner suggest a corporate mentality offering little or no genuine sympathy for the unborn child and the mother, no time for those who dare oppose their agenda, and no love nor fear of Christ, the author of all life, and by Whom one day soon we will all be judged.

 Further observations - on the BBC report.

In fairness to the reporter, I think that she has done her best to be objective and unbiased, whether the same can be said for those she interviewed is a matter of opinion.
The choice and implication of certain words and phrases are worth considering.
1. The heading  “Anti-abortion group ‘40 days for Life’ targets Queens Medical Centre” – suggests  a reasonable sized gathering of active protesters. In fact, according to the published photographs, the group consisted of three or four people, all of whom were peaceful and prayerful, standing together with two or three small placards visible.
2. “The BBC has asked to speak to some of these women (who have been grateful for the help provided by the pro-life group) but’ 40 days for life’ has not provided any contact details”. Clearly such information would be absolutely confidential, and the motive for including this in the report seems unnecessary and questionable.
3. The constant use of the words ‘activist’, ‘harassment’, ‘distress’, used in a context which suggests social disruption on a quite serious scale, paints a significantly distorted  picture.
4. If such disorder had occurred previously, why did the ‘authorities’ fail to act by calling the police or some similar action. The law covers such incidents, but was not used; perhaps such incidents were more imaginary than real, or of less consequence than implied.
5. The phrase 'before the demonstration began' - immediately preceding photograph 3. But what demonstration? This is a prayer vigil, not a demonstration. Another example of distorted imagery.

Reading the BBC’s report, it would seem that this whole matter has been blown out of all proportion by persons wishing to curtail  positive and practical help to pregnant women and their unborn children. The complainants  consist of NHS and hospital administrators, and local politicians perhaps keen to hit the headlines? But where and who are the women who have allegedly suffered such harassment and distress? Of course it may be that they are embarrassed about coming forward, which is perhaps understandable, nevertheless they are rather conspicuous by their silence, bearing in mind the alleged harassment and distress they suffered! Furthermore, is it possible that the alleged distress in previous years was the result of aggressive behaviour by the pro-Choice demonstrators, rather than the small pro-Life group?
Pregnant women are often under immense pressure from families and peers, to abort their child, and it is to pro-life organisations that they turn for help. These peaceful and dignified pro-life aid groups must be allowed to continue their prayerful presence where needed, always subject to common and statutory law. In our country, particularly concerning matters of life and death, and abortion is certainly this, free speech and the right to peaceful protest has always been protected, and must be allowed to continue. 

The prejudiced attitude of certain NHS administrators, local government officials, and the media, towards peaceful pro-life activities designed to support a mother and her unborn child, assume a scenario of Goliath v David proportions. We know of course, that in the end, with God's help, David triumphed.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

'The Aristocrat' and other poems - by G.K.Chesterton.

Wishing one and all a very happy and blessed New Year.

I was recently talking to Brother Dominic Mary F.SS.R, from our good neighbours at Golgotha Monastery, Papa Stronsay, on the subject of G.K.Chesterton,  when out of the blue and quite spontaneously, he recounted to me the warning tale of the Aristocrat, who was not all that he might seem:-

The Aristocrat

The Devil is a gentleman, and asks you down to stay
At his little place at ‘What’sitsname’ (it isn’t far away).
They say the sport is splendid; there is always something new,
And fairy scenes, and fearful feats that none but he can do;
He can shoot the feathered cherubs if they fly on the estate,
Or fish for Father Neptune with the mermaids for a bait;
He scaled amid the staggering stars, that precipice the sky,
And blew his trumpet above heaven, and got by mastery
The starry crown of God Himself, and shoved it on the shelf;
But the Devil is a gentleman, and doesn’t brag himself.

O blind your eyes and break your heart and back your hand away,
And lose your love and shave your head; but do not go to stay
At the little place in ‘What’sitsname’ where folks are rich and clever;
The golden and the goodly house, where things grow worse for ever;
There are things you need not know of, though you live and die in vain,
There are souls more sick of pleasure than you are sick of pain;
There is a game of April Fool that’s played behind its door,
Where the fool remains for ever and the April comes no more,

Where the splendour of the daylight grows drearier than the dark,
And life droops like a vulture that once was such a lark:
And that is the Blue Devil that once was the Blue Bird;
For the Devil is a gentleman, and doesn’t keep his word.

                                                               G K Chesterton

NB. I was so impressed by Brother Dominic’s virtuosity, that I decided to post this work as a reminder to myself, and indeed everyone, that aristocrats, no more nor less than others, are not always what they seem!  Thank you Brother, for the warning!

This poem  has left me wanting more, so I dedicate this first post of the New Year to a little more of GKC’s poetry, of similar ilk.

The Song of the Children

The world is ours till sunset,
Holly and fire and snow;
And the name of our dead brother
Who loved us long ago.

The grown folk, mighty and cunning,
They write his name in gold;
But we can tell a little
Of the million tales he told.

He taught them laws and watchwords,
To preach and struggle and pray;
But he taught us deep in the hayfield
The games that the angels play.

Had he stayed here for ever,
Their world would be wise as ours –
And the king be cutting capers,
And the priest be picking flowers.

But the dark day came: they gathered:
On their faces we could see
They had taken and slain our brother,
And hanged him on a tree.

                 G K Chesterton

The Holy of Holies

‘Elder father, though thine eyes
Shine with hoary mysteries,
Canst thou tell me what in the heart
Of a cowslip blossom lies?

‘Smaller than all lives that be,
Secret as the deepest sea,
Stands a little house of seeds,
Like an elfin’s granary.

‘Speller of the stones and weeds,
Skilled in Nature’s crafts and creeds,
Tell me what is in the heart
Of the smallest of the seeds.’

‘God Almighty, and with Him
Cherubim and Seraphim,
Filling all eternity-
Adonai Elohim.’

           G K Chesterton

Commercial Candour
(on the outside of a sensational novel is printed the statement:
  “ the back of the cover will tell you the plot”)

Our fathers to creed and tradition were tied,
They opened a book to see what was inside,
And of various methods they deemed not the worst
Was to find the first chapter and look at it first.
And so from the first to the second they passed,
Till in servile routine they arrived at the last.
But a literate age, unbenighted by creed,
Can find on two boards all it wishes to read;
For the front of the cover shows somebody shot
And the back of the cover will tell you the plot.

Between, that the book may be handily padded,
Some pages of mere printed matter are added,
Expanding the theme, which in case of great need
The curious reader might very well read
With the zest that is lent to a game worth the winning,
By knowing the end when you start the beginning:
While our barbarous sires, who would read every word
With a morbid desire to find out what occurred
Went drearily drudging through Dickens and Scott.
But the back of the cover will tell you the plot.

The wild village folk in earth’s earliest prime
Could often sit still for an hour at a time
And hear a blind beggar, nor did the tale pall
Because Hector must fight before Hector could fall;
Nor was Scheherazade required, at the worst,
To tell her tales backwards and finish them first;
And the minstrels who sang about battle and banners
Found the rude camp-fire crowd had some notion of manners.
Till Forster (who pelted the people like crooks,
The Irish with buckshot, the English with books),
Established the great educational scheme
Of compulsory schooling, that glorious theme.
Some learnt how to read, and the others forgot,
And the back of the cover will tell you the plot.

O Genius of Business!  O marvellous brain,
Come in place of the priests and the warriors to reign!
O Will to Get On that makes everything go –
O Hustle!  O Pep!  O Publicity!  O!
Shall I spend three and sixpence to purchase the book,
Which we all can pick up on the bookstall and look?
Well, it may appear strange, but I think I shall not,
For the back of the cover will tell you the plot.


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