The ‘Archbishop of Canterbury’ has let out Canterbury Cathedral to the Masons to perform their blasphemies at the same moment as the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster will be Consecrating England to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

O Immaculate Virgin Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Mother of Grace,
and Queen of the kingdom of thy Son,
humbly kneeling before thee,
we offer thee this country in which we live.
It once was thine.
Before it was robbed of the holy Faith
all its children were thy children,
and thou wast honoured throughout its length and breadth
as its Protectress and its Queen.
Again do we consecrate it to thee;
again do we dedicate it as thine own Dowry.
We offer our own hearts,
that their love and service
may ever grow and increase.
We offer all our brethren
those multitudes who know thee so little
or know thee not at all.
May thy prayer bring back the country’s ancient faith.
May thy intercession lead us to a closer union
with thy divine Son.
We consecrate ourselves to Him through thee.
Obtain for us,
and for England thy Dowry,
every grace and blessing,
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!

V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

O Holy Mother of God, Virgin ever blest,
O Mary Immaculate, pray for us,
intercede for us, disdain not to help us.
For we are confident and know for certain
that thou canst obtain all thou wiliest from thy Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ,
God Almighty, the King of ages,
who liveth with the Father and the Holy Ghost,
for ever and ever.



“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12

The Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate are now under visitation according to a report on Rorate. What is behind suppression of the Franciscans of the Immaculate?

As an outsider who only has access to information in the public domain – it seems that suppression of  this order represents an escalation of persecution and the removal of a great consolation.

Why these Franciscans? They promote devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, Our Lady and the secrets of Fatima through their apostolate  ‘A day with Mary’. They are young, vibrant, faithful and orthodox with a preference for the vetus ordo.

It seems like the Devil wouldn’t need much help in picking a target.

Pray for them, they are suffering with Christ – and so shall we.

{This came up recently, in a discussion of the Assumption. The relevant verse is near the end. But it’s full of good things; also about our Lady as mediatrix of all graces, and co-redemptrix. It’s daring, perhaps, as the author, Coventry Patmore, not infrequently was. Anyway, it is a Laodicean Marian post, for May.}

“The Child’s Purchase” by Coventry Patmore

 As a young Child, whose Mother, for a jest,
To his own use a golden coin flings down,
Devises blythe how he may spend it best,
Or on a horse, a bride-cake, or a crown,
Till, wearied with his quest,
Nor liking altogether that nor this,
He gives it back for nothing but a kiss,
Endow’d so I
With golden speech, my choice of toys to buy,
And scanning power and pleasure and renown,
Till each in turn, with looking at, looks vain,
For her mouth’s bliss,
To her who gave it give I it again. 

   Ah, Lady elect,
Whom the Time’s scorn has saved from its respect,
Would I had art
For uttering this which sings within my heart!
But, lo,
Thee to admire is all the art I know.
My Mother and God’s; Fountain of miracle!
Give me thereby some praise of thee to tell
In such a Song
As may my Guide severe and glad not wrong
Who never spake till thou’dst on him conferr’d
The right, convincing word!
Grant me the steady heat
Of thought wise, splendid, sweet,
Urged by the great, rejoicing wind that rings
With draught of unseen wings,
Making each phrase, for love and for delight,
Twinkle like Sirius on a frosty night! 

Aid thou thine own dear fame, thou only Fair,
At whose petition meek
The Heavens themselves decree that, as it were,
They will be weak!
Thou Speaker of all wisdom in a Word,
Thy Lord!
Speaker who thus could’st well afford
Thence to be silent;—ah, what silence that
Which had for prologue thy ‘Magnificat?’—
O, Silence full of wonders
More than by Moses in the Mount were heard,
More than were utter’d by the Seven Thunders;
Silence that crowns, unnoted, like the voiceless blue,
The loud world’s varying view,
And in its holy heart the sense of all things ponders!
That acceptably I may speak of thee,
Ora pro me 

   Key-note and stop
Of the thunder-going chorus of sky-Powers;
Essential drop
Distill’d from worlds of sweetest-savour’d flowers
To anoint with nuptial praise
The Head which for thy Beauty doff’d its rays,
And thee, in His exceeding glad descending, meant,
And Man’s new days
Made of His deed the adorning accident!
Vast Nothingness of Self, fair female Twin
Of Fulness, sucking all God’s glory in!
(Ah, Mistress mine,
To nothing I have added only sin,
And yet would shine!)
Ora pro me 

   Life’s cradle and death’s tomb!
To lie within whose womb,
There, with divine self-will infatuate,
Love-captive to the thing He did create,
Thy God did not abhor,
No more
Than Man, in Youth’s high spousal-tide,
Abhors at last to touch
The strange lips of his long-procrastinating Bride;
Nay, not the least imagined part as much!
Ora pro me 

My Lady, yea, the Lady of my Lord,
Who didst the first descry
The burning secret of virginity,
We know with what reward!
Prism whereby
Alone we see
Heav’n’s light in its triplicity;
Rainbow complex
In bright distinction of all beams of sex,
Shining for aye
In the simultaneous sky,
To One, thy Husband, Father, Son, and Brother,
Spouse blissful, Daughter, Sister, milk-sweet Mother;
Ora pro me 

   Mildness, whom God obeys, obeying thyself
Him in thy joyful Saint, nigh lost to sight
In the great gulf
Of his own glory and thy neighbour light;
With whom thou wast as else with husband none
For perfect fruit of inmost amity;
Who felt for thee
Such rapture of refusal that no kiss
Ever seal’d wedlock so conjoint with bliss;
And whose good singular eternally
‘Tis now, with nameless peace and vehemence,
To enjoy thy married smile,
That mystery of innocence;
Ora pro me 

   Sweet Girlhood without guile,
The extreme of God’s creative energy;
Sunshiny Peak of human personality;
The world’s sad aspirations’ one Success;
Bright Blush, that sav’st our shame from shamelessness;
Chief Stone of stumbling; Sign built in the way
To set the foolish everywhere a-bray;
Hem of God’s robe, which all who touch are heal’d;
To which the outside Many honour yield
With a reward and grace
Unguess’d by the unwash’d boor that hails Him to His face,
Spurning the safe, ingratiant courtesy
Of suing Him by thee;
Ora pro me 

   Creature of God rather the sole than first;
Knot of the cord
Which binds together all and all unto their Lord;
Suppliant Omnipotence; best to the worst;
Our only Saviour from an abstract Christ
And Egypt’s brick-kilns, where the lost crowd plods,
Blaspheming its false Gods;
Peace-beaming Star, by which shall come enticed,
Though nought thereof as yet they weet,
Unto thy Babe’s small feet,
The Mighty, wand’ring disemparadised,
Like Lucifer, because to thee
They will not bend the knee;
Ora pro me 

   Desire of Him whom all things else desire!
Bush aye with Him as He with thee on fire!
Neither in His great Deed nor on His throne—
O, folly of Love, the intense
Last culmination of Intelligence,—
Him seem’d it good that God should be alone!
Basking in unborn laughter of thy lips,
Ere the world was, with absolute delight
His Infinite reposed in thy Finite;
Well-match’d: He, universal being’s Spring,
And thou, in whom are gather’d up the ends of everything!
Ora pro me 

In season due, on His sweet-fearful bed,
Rock’d by an earthquake, curtain’d with eclipse,
Thou shar’d’st the rapture of the sharp spear’s head,
And thy bliss pale
Wrought for our boon what Eve’s did for our bale;
Thereafter, holding a little thy soft breath,
Thou underwent’st the ceremony of death;
And, now, Queen-Wife,
Sitt’st at the right hand of the Lord of Life,
Who, of all bounty, craves for only fee
The glory of hearing it besought with smiles by thee!
Ora pro me 

Mother, who lead’st me still by unknown ways,
Giving the gifts I know not how to ask,
Bless thou the work
Which, done, redeems my many wasted days,
Makes white the murk,
And crowns the few which thou wilt not dispraise.
When clear my Songs of Lady’s graces rang,
And little guess’d I ’twas of thee I sang!
Vainly, till now, my pray’rs would thee compel
To fire my verse with thy shy fame, too long
Shunning world-blazon of well-ponder’d song;
But doubtful smiles, at last, ‘mid thy denials lurk;
From which I spell,
‘Humility and greatness grace the task
Which he who does it deems impossible!’

I know very many very good people for whom the alleged apparitions at Medjugorje have played an enormously important role in their conversions and/or devotional life. I also know many people, whose discernment I greatly respect, who have been extremely skeptical about the phenomenon. When I have investigated the negative claims they have generally been vindicated. I have long heard advocates of Medjugorje say that the Holy See had suspended the authority of the diocesan bishop and the local episcopate in regard to the alleged apparitions. I always ask to see the document that effected this and it has never been forthcoming.  It is now clear from the US Nuncio’s letter on behalf of the CDF that it does not exist. One of the foremost signs of a false private revelation is refusal to submit to legitimate ecclesiastical authority. Some devotees of Medjugorje I know have cited (apparently authentic) counter-examples. Thus such disobedience must be only a strong sign of in-authenticity rather than a proof. I know a priest who used to accompany pilgrimages to Medjugorje but openly denied the authenticity of the revelations. Another priest I know who lived in Bosnia for some time summarized the view of many such persons as “I am sure the Holy Spirit is present in Medjugorje, I’m just not convinced Our Lady has ever been there”. The question is, if the most recent letter is a trailer for a formal rejection of Medjugorje by the CDF, how will its devotees react? The loose expressions used by the Pope in his two recent interviews and the perception, fostered by liberals and the MSM, that he is ambiguous in his support for the Pro-Life movement and his opposition to the progress of organised sodomy could easily be used to justify some sort of mutiny. A papal approval of a revelation does not guarantee its authenticity (although the canonization of the visionary effectively does) only that it is not unreasonable to accept it and it won’t do you any harm. A condemnation is different, it really does command obedience from the faithful. If it were specified that the revelations were doctrinally deviant it would also command assent. If a revelation is inauthentic there are three obvious explanations: fraud, hysteria or the devil. Hysteria seems unlikely in this case. If fraud is the explanation then the motive seems obvious as the financial benefits are clear. If the explanation were the third and most disturbing option then the question arises ‘why would the evil one perpetrate a deception which has occasioned so many conversions’? The opponents of Medjugorje have often suggested that this moment is precisely the end game prepared for. A condemnation of Medjugorje would be a massive test of faith and obedience for many pious souls. We must prepare ourselves for a perfect storm.



(A Song for an inclement May.)

All is divine
which the Highest has made,
Through the days that He wrought,
till the day when He stay’d;
Above and below,
within and around,
From the centre of space,
to its uttermost bound.

In beauty surpassing
the Universe smiled,
On the morn of its birth,
like an innocent child,
Or like the rich bloom
of some delicate flower;
And the Father rejoiced
in the work of His power.

Yet worlds brighter still,
and a brighter than those,
And a brighter again,
He had made, had He chose;
And you never could name
that conceivable best,
To exhaust the resources
the Maker possess’d.

But I know of one work
of his Infinite Hand,
Which special and singular
ever must stand;
So perfect, so pure,
and of gifts such a store,
That even Omnipotence
ne’er shall do more.

The freshness of May,
and the sweetness of June,
And the fire of July
in its passionate noon,
Munificent August,
September serene,
Are together no match
for my glorious Queen.

O Mary, all months
and all days are thine own,
In thee lasts their joyousness,
when they are gone;
And we give to thee May,
not because it is best,
But because it comes first,
and is pledge of the rest.

Bl. John Henry Newman – The Oratory.


In Luke 20:27-40 we receive the fullest account of why the blessed neither marry nor are given in marriage.

And there came to him some of the Sadducees, who deny that there is any resurrection, and they asked him, Saying: Master, Moses wrote unto us, If any man’s brother die, having a wife, and he leave no children, that his brother should take her to wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. There were therefore seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and died without children. And the next took her to wife, and he also died childless. And the third took her. And in like manner all the seven, and they left no children, and died. Last of all the woman died also. In the resurrection therefore, whose wife of them shall she be? For all the seven had her to wife. And Jesus said to them: The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they that shall be accounted worthy of that world, and of the resurrection from the dead, shall neither be married, nor take wives. Neither can they die any more: for they are equal to the angels, and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. Now that the dead rise again, Moses also shewed, at the bush, when he called the Lord, The God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; For he is not the God of the dead, but of the living: for all live to him. And some of the scribes answering, said to him: Master, thou hast said well. And after that they durst not ask him any more questions.

God is the living one. Those who would approach him, in this life or the next, must divest themselves of death. Since the Fall marriage has been inextricably tied up with death. Before the Fall all who were born would have been born into grace and eternal life and reproduction existed to make up the number of the elect. After the Fall reproduction is required, as with the beasts, just to keep the human race in existence. All are now born into sin as children of wrath and most die in sin as children of wrath. The elect are born now not from the womb but from the font. All the faithful who are, since that second birth (God willing) no longer children of the world, must strive to live poverty, chastity and obedience so far as it is given them. Whether in the monastery, the presbytery or in the sacrament of marriage they form part of a common struggle to keep unstained our baptismal robe when we appear before the Lord in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and at His return in glory. For the the Christian spouses a necessarily imperfect struggle is made possible by the sacrament of marriage to restore the sanctity of the union of our first parents before the Fall when marriage existed only to beget children of God. For the Monk, engaging in spiritual combat in a state of perfection, life is directed with an undivided heart to the reality which that great sign represents. The priest approaches the Living One in the holy terror of the Mass. With him we stand before that splendid outrage in our common priesthood as children of God and children of the resurrection striving for chastity according to our state.

Even the married faithful need to be willing to separate themselves from each other if fidelity to Christ requires it of them. “And there went great multitudes with him. And turning, he said to them: If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:25-26). This is not just a negative requirement. The greatest love, even spousal love, respects and recognises that the beloved exists for herself and ultimately for God. In the last sentence of A Grief Observed C. S. Lewis meditates on the moment of his wife’s death quoting the moment at which Dante and Beatrice part at the end of the Divine Comedy: “How wicked it would be, if we could, to call the dead back!  She said not to me but to the chaplain, ‘I am at peace with God.’  She smiled, but not at me.  Poi si torno all, eterna fontana.” ‘Then she turned herself back toward the eternal fountain’. This moment of separation occurs when every religious enters the cloister and for every priest when he steps outside the camp and into the sanctuary of the Living God.

Cardinal O’Brien has sadly wobbled on priestly celibacy. It is of course quite false to say that Divine Law permits priests to marry. Divine Law forbids priests to marry. The Church will not allow priests to marry unless they have first been forever forbidden to exercise their priestly functions. Outside of the Roman Patriarchate other Churches sui iuris allow men who are already married to receive sacred orders up to and including the presbyterate but not the episcopate. In fact, there are regulations, still arguably in force in at least some of these Churches, requiring married priests to abstain from the use of marriage for a certain period prior to the celebration of the Eucharist. The observance of these is naturally difficult for a married priest alone in a parish celebrating the Divine Liturgy every day.

A difficult question arises concerning the status of these provisions. Is the use of marriage by priests (for this is the real issue not marriage as such) permitted by Divine Law but forbidden by the Latin Church as an ascetical discipline; or is the use of marriage forbidden by Divine Law but in such a way that the Church may dispense? We know this second possibility, of dispensing from some precepts of Divine Law, exists in the case of marriage between a baptised and a non-baptised spouse.

What is clear is that both the East and the West hold it to be in some way better for a priest to abstain from the use of marriage. No married man has ever been consecrated to the episcopate. As mentioned, the married priests of e.g. the Byzantine ritual Church have traditionally been required to abstain from the use of marriage before the celebration of the Divine Liturgy.

What makes the question hard to resolve is the fact that respect and enthusiasm for St Paul’s teaching on perfect chastity in  1 Corinthians 7 was so general in the earliest age of the Church that the question of whether perfect continence was required for clergy or just taken for granted seems not to have even arisen. More energy was expended in the second century dealing with those who in their enthusiasm for chastity or because of Gnostic tendencies forbade the use of marriage to the baptised in general.

Nevertheless, there exists direct and implied scriptural grounds for the discipline of priestly celibacy. The most explicit statement is Titus 1:8 where St Paul says that a presbyter or bishop must be continent. It is interesting that just before this, as elsewhere, he insists that he must be the husband of only one wife. This comment has often been misinterpreted by casual readers to indicate precisely that that clerical continence was not required in the Apostolic Church. In fact, it leads to the opposite conclusion. Why would second marriage have been forbidden except because it indicated a person was unable or unwilling to practice the continence the priestly state requires?

There is an incident recorded by the church historian Socrates (who died in the mid-fifth century) that supposedly occurred at the First Council of Nicaea when a famously holy and continent bishop Paphnutius dissuaded the  Council Fathers from imposing continence on the presbyterate. There is considerable dispute over the authenticity of this incident for which Socrates is the earliest authority. Those who uphold it obviously conclude that no such discipline existed earlier than 325. This is often seen a strong argument against the conclusion that priestly celibacy is Apostolic and of Divine Law. Once again this conclusion arises from a reading of the evidence through secular modern lenses. The truly interesting fact about the alleged incident is that the passing of a decree enforcing presbyteral continence was nearly passed on the nod until Paphnutius’s supposed intervention. What this tells us is that even if the story is accurate clerical continence was so widespread that its enforcement in ecclesiastical positive law would have been (but for one highly persuasive and unexpected intervention) uncontroversial.  This strengthens the idea that the practice of clerical continence is of Apostolic origin.

Of course we must conclude that by the time Socrates wrote in Constantinople in the fifth century clerical continence cannot have been universal else his assertion of the story (regardless of its accuracy) would make no sense. In fact, for an orthodox Catholic the origin of the discipline of clerical continence in Divine Law is not a matter of doubt because of the clear teaching on this subject given by Pope Siricius in 385,

Let us come now to the most sacred orders of the clergy, which we find so abused and so disorderly throughout your provinces to the injury of venerable religion that we ought to say in the words of Jeremias: Who will water to my head, or a fountain of tears to my eyes? And I will weep for this people day and night (Jer. 9:1). . . . For we have learned that very many priests and Levites of Christ, after long periods of their consecration, have begotten offspring from their wives as well as by shameful intercourse, and that they defend their crime by this excuse, that in the Old Testament it is read that the faculty of procreating was given to the priests and the ministers.

Whoever that follower of sensual desires is let him tell me now: . . . Why does [the Lord] forewarn those to whom the holies of holies were to be entrusted saying: Be ye holy, because I your Lord God am holy [Lev. 20:7;1 Pet. 1:16]? Why also were the priests ordered to dwell in the temple at a distance from their homes in the year of their turn? Evidently for this reason that they might not be able to practice carnal intercourse with their wives, so that shining with purity of conscience they might offer an acceptable gift to God. . . .

Therefore also the Lord Jesus, when He had enlightened us by His coming, testifies in the Gospel, that he came to fulfill the Law, not to destroy it [Matt. 5:17]. And so He has wished the beauty of the Church, whose spouse He is, to radiate with the splendour of chastity, so that on the day of judgment, when He will have come again, He may be able to find her without spot or wrinkle [Eph. 5:27] as He instituted her through His Apostle. All priests and levites are bound by the indissoluble law of these sanctions, so that from the day of our ordination, we give up both our hearts and our bodies to continence and chastity, provided only that through all things we may please our God in these sacrifices which we daily offer.”But those who are in the flesh,” as the vessel of election says, “cannot please God” [Rom. 8:8].

But those, who contend with an excuse for the forbidden privilege, so as to assert that this has been granted to them by the Old Law, should know that by the authority of the Apostolic See they have been cast out of every ecclesiastical office, which they have used unworthily, nor can they ever touch the sacred mysteries, of which they themselves have deprived themselves so long as they give heed to impure desires. And because existing examples warn us to be on our guard for the future should any bishop, priest, or deacon be found such, which henceforth we do not want, let him now understand that every approach to indulgence is barred through us, because it is necessary that the wounds which are not susceptible to the healing of warm lotions be cut out with a knife. (Denzinger 89)

Two questions remain. First, why did clerical continence become controversial by the end of the fourth century (and de facto optional in e.g. Constantinople) when it was apparently so uncontroversial at the beginning? Secondly, what are we to say of the married clergy of the Eastern Catholic Churches and those ordained after reception from the ‘Church’ ‘of England’ if clerical continence is of Divine Law?

In the answer to the second question lies the answer to the first. All these clergy have in common that they either personally or as Churches have spent significant periods outside of the visible hierarchical structure of the Church. Of the Eastern Catholics only the Italo-Greeks have never been in schism. The Melkites were in a rather confused position for a long time due to Antiochene disapproval/ambiguity towards the Cerularian Schism. The Syro-Malabars were caught up with the Persian Nestorians for geographical rather than theological reasons. Nevertheless, it is clear that all these Churches were, for long periods at least, headed by bishops who resisted the Roman primacy. Marriage is a symbol of the union of Christ and His Church – the Sacramentum Magnum. This union is effected by Sanctifying Grace. As Pope Boniface VIII solemnly taught in Unam Sanctam (1302) outside of the Church, defined by submission to the Roman Pontiff, “there is neither salvation nor the forgiveness of sins”. The reason chastity is superior to marriage is that it orders us more perfectly to the reality, the nuptial union of Christ and the Church, of which marriage is the symbol. Outside the Roman obedience the symbol and the reality both perish. Sanctifying grace cannot be had outside the Church and the indissolubility of marriage and obligatory clerical continence swiftly pass away. It is noticeable that those Eastern Catholics with little or very little history of real schism have the strongest tradition of clerical celibacy. By the end of the fourth century the entire Church had been rocked by the Arian Crisis for nearly seventy years. Many individuals and particular churches had been separated from the See of Rome and the true faith for long periods. The Monks, most famously St Antony, were a notable bulwark of Catholic orthodoxy. St Paul forbade the ordination of those who had been married twice because such could not be expected to maintain the continence of the clerical state. What is a restored schismatic individual or church but one who on the deepest level has been compelled to marry twice: once when he or she was baptised and once agin when restored to communion with Christ’s Vicar on Earth?

The fact that clerical continence, though of Divine Law, is dispensable bears witness to the goodness of marriage. The discipline of liturgical marital abstinence in the Eastern Churches (which requires some renewed emphasis) bears witness to the superiority of continence. The married clergy of the East also remind us of the fact that continence is not uniquely clerical. It is the monk who is the paradigm of the chaste life not the cleric. All the faithful are called to practice poverty, chastity and obedience in spirit and in fact so far as is given to them by grace and providence. For the clergy the fittingness is so intense, because of their proximity to the Holy Sacrifice, that it constitutes a norm that must be dispensed only when pressing pastoral need requires it. In this era when the true nature of marriage is under assault on every side and chastity despised, urgent pastoral need demands that the largest Patriarchate  in the Church the Church of Rome blessed with the Supreme Pastor as its proximate head preserve inviolate the Apostolic tradition of clerical continence and boldly profess the sanctity of virginity, continence and marriage to this corrupted dying age.

Next Page »