From Cardinal Sarah : "In order to avoid hearing God's music, we have chosen to use all the devices of this world. But heaven's instruments will not stop playing just because some people are deaf."                                                                                              Saint John-Paul II wrote: "The fact that one can die for the faith shows that other demands of the faith can also be met."                                                 Cardinal Müller says, “For the real danger to today’s humanity is the greenhouse gases of sin and the global warming of unbelief and the decay of morality when no one knows and teaches the difference between good and evil.”                                                  St Catherine of Siena said, “We've had enough exhortations to be silent. Cry out with a thousand tongues - I see the world is rotten because of silence.”                                                  Chesterton said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”                                                Brethren, Wake up!


On this great Feast of Mary, Mother of God, as we commit our lives in 2018 to Her infinite care, we are reminded that a plenary indulgence is granted to the Christian faithful who, in a church or in an oratory, are present [take part] in a recitation or solemn chant of: ...

the hymn Veni Creator ... on the first day of the year, imploring divine assistance for the whole of the coming year, or
the Te Deum hymn, on the last day of the year, in thanksgiving to God for the favours received in the course of the entire year.
(Reference: Enchiridion Indulgentiarum, 4th edition, 26. § 1. al. concessions.)

The faithful in doubt are reminded that this indulgence may be applied to the Faithful Departed, one of the great acts of Charity, and is gained by fulfilment of the usual conditions: of Holy Communion, Confession, and prayer for the Holy Father's intentions.

A very Happy New Year to all our pious readers!

And in case you were wondering, this is what your prayer should feel like! (Courtesy of Notre-Dame de Paris)


Murillo - Holy Family with St John the Baptist
As we meditate during this Holy Octave of the Nativity of our Blessed Lord on the unimaginable generosity of God in coming amongst us for our Salvation as a small baby boy, we must also, in these troubled times think too of the devastation of morals being forced upon us form every direction in our society, by those who chose to deny the reality of God's creation.

It is often very difficult for us to resist these pressures, and to have the answers ready for the aggressive liberal attacks on the Church's teaching, and more so to reply to the very warped misunderstanding of Her teaching which is often thrown at us.

The Bishops of the United States of America have published an open letter, signed by interfaith leaders, Catholic, Muslim, Orthodox and Protestant, HERE, opposing the madness of gender ideology, with the following text:

Created Male and Female : An Open Letter from Religious Leaders
December 15, 2017
Dear Friends: 

As leaders of various communities of faith throughout the United States, many of us came together in the past to affirm our commitment to marriage as the union of one man and one woman and as the foundation of society. We reiterate that natural marriage continues to be invaluable to American society. 

We come together to join our voices on a more fundamental precept of our shared existence, namely, that human beings are male or female and that the socio-cultural reality of gender cannot be separated from one's sex as male or female. 

We acknowledge and affirm that all human beings are created by God and thereby have an inherent dignity. We also believe that God created each person male or female; therefore, sexual difference is not an accident or a flaw—it is a gift from God that helps draw us closer to each other and to God. What God has created is good. "God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them" (Gen 1:27). 

A person's discomfort with his or her sex, or the desire to be identified as the other sex, is a complicated reality that needs to be addressed with sensitivity and truth. Each person deserves to be heard and treated with respect; it is our responsibility to respond to their concerns with compassion, mercy and honesty. As religious leaders, we express our commitment to urge the members of our communities to also respond to those wrestling with this challenge with patience and love. 

Children especially are harmed when they are told that they can "change" their sex or, further, given hormones that will affect their development and possibly render them infertile as adults. Parents deserve better guidance on these important decisions, and we urge our medical institutions to honor the basic medical principle of "first, do no harm." Gender ideology harms individuals and societies by sowing confusion and self-doubt. The state itself has a compelling interest, therefore, in maintaining policies that uphold the scientific fact of human biology and supporting the social institutions and norms that surround it. 

The movement today to enforce the false idea—that a man can be or become a woman or vice versa—is deeply troubling. It compels people to either go against reason—that is, to agree with something that is not true—or face ridicule, marginalization, and other forms of retaliation. 

We desire the health and happiness of all men, women, and children. Therefore, we call for policies that uphold the truth of a person's sexual identity as male or female, and the privacy and safety of all. We hope for renewed appreciation of the beauty of sexual difference in our culture and for authentic support of those who experience conflict with their God-given sexual identity. 


The Madonna of the Serpent, by our confrere Carravaggio.
This painting shows us the fruits of our holy anticipation in these coming weeks.
Some of us will not look back with unalloyed pleasure on the year that has just past. Generally in the public sphere at least good news has been scarce. We are challenged at every level by uncertainty and insecurity. That should provide us with opportunities for deeper reflection and more insistent prayer. Faith can carry us through the darkest valley and offer hope where all else appears of no avail. The lessons as well as the experience of the past provide some answers as well as demonstrating both resilience as well as recovery.

2017 was hailed as a year of significant anniversaries; which indeed it was. The anniversary of Luther’s revolt in 1517 which divided Christendom; the anniversary of the Russian Revolution in 1917 which introduced 70 years of misery for millions –and whose effects still influence in a variety of ways the lives of millions more; the anniversary of the Apparition of Our Lady in Fatima which has reverberated around the world ever since and still engages speculation and supposition. The consequences of these events of global significance continue to be felt for good and ill. Religion, politics and society were profoundly affected by the events of 1517 and 1917. Much blood was spilt and much treasure expended trying to contain and then trying to defeat the conflicting forces of energy produced by both.

There is however another anniversary this year to which –to my knowledge to date- no allusion has been made. In 1417 the Council of Constance was called. Its purpose was to end the scandal of three popes, dividing the loyalties of Catholics throughout the western world. This situation had its origin in the conclave of 1378 and the election of Pope Urban VI. The cardinals were divided and later claimed to have been under undue pressure to get on with it and elect somebody. All might have gone well but for the temperament of the new pope. One historian has described him as “a coarse, overbearing, sadistic despot”. Within a short time the cardinal electors fled from Rome and disavowing the previous election went on to elect a French cardinal who took the name of Clement VII. European allies of France supported that pope. Others – including England – supported the Roman pontiff. Papal deaths on both sides produced further elections for a period of 39 years. Then in 1409 a third Pope who only lasted one year was also elected. He was succeeded by a pope calling himself John XXIII. Finally the most powerful ruler in Europe, Emperor Sigismund of Germany persuaded this last “pope” to call a Council, which met in October 1517. All three popes were persuaded to abdicate –the last time this happened until 2013  and a new pope, Martin V, was elected and accepted by all. He then ratified all that had happened during the council, without which it would not have been legitimate.  The peaceful celebration of Midnight Mass of Christmas in Constance with the Emperor present and taking part was the first time in decades that Europe had a single pope. For the time being unity was restored. In keeping with its special character, the Advent season of 1417 was time of healing and resolution of a major schism.

Of course in those far away centuries communication was slow and most people were illiterate and would have been only vaguely aware – if at all  of the crisis. The pope was a distant figure prayed for in the Canon of the Mass and directly familiar to the people of Rome and to the few churchmen who visited Rome, and to the kings who corresponded with him for various reasons. Local struggles, natural disasters and the failure of harvests would have disturbed their peace of mind and their welfare. Information regarding everything going on now reaches us instantly. Pictures of the latest atrocity or natural disaster are on our screens in seconds. It is difficult to avoid the upset and the sense of helplessness that at time they bring. That is why understanding the supreme significance of the Christmas story is vital as an antidote to despair and disillusion. It’s not just the gifts, the goodwill and the jollity – though these link us to each other and lighten the load of solitude and hopelessness. It is the deeper meaning of the Christmas story that needs to be understood and reflected upon by all of us. After many thousands of years of human history, God intervened directly to impact decisively on our species, and indeed the whole of creation. We lacked the means to correct the imbalance and division between what God intended us to be and how humans actually behaved. By taking on, redeeming and leaving an inheritance of continuity of rescue and recovery of grace to mankind, Our Lord guaranteed a never-failing remedy. It operates and is effective among those who obediently and sincerely cooperate with it through the sacraments and the worship bequeathed to the Church by the coeternal Son of the living and only God. Advent reminds us that that evangelization is far from finished and will continue till God’s purpose is achieved. You and I are privileged to be a part of that saving work. When you offer your prayers and holy communion on Christmas day, think of just how much you owe to your Creator and your Redeemer and pray for an end to divisions both within and outside of the Church and that all of us may be united more fruitfully to the visible communion of it,  His Mystical Body.

Antony Conlon
Principal Chaplain the Grand Priory of England.