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Showing posts from March, 2015

Dog of the Week

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This week, when walking through the mini-shopping centre off Cromwell Road, I met this five year old lady Greyhound. She was extremely sociable, and when I said hello to her, she loped towards me in long elegant strides.

Being a leggy, large dog, she jumped up on me, and her paws reached my collar-bone.  Greyhounds are full of fun, and when my attention was taken away from her, talking to the owner, she would surprise me by jumping at me from another angle.
Greyhounds are graceful dogs, and have very silky coats which don’t get oily or greasy, so they don’t have the dank odour that other dogs do. They shed a lot, and this lady Greyhound left lots of white and gold hairs on my clothes.  The constant shedding is a nuisance, but adult greyhounds have that puppy smell of a brand new, clean coat of fur.
They are sensitive souls, with fragile skin and thin bones. They are physically and emotionally thin-skinned. Their intelligence means they have the mental retention to remember being reprim…

Pope Francis declaring Mary Aikenhead 'Venerable' is fantastic news for Ireland

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You might like to pop over to The Catholic Herald, where I wrote a post on Mary Aikenenhead. A fellow  Cork woman who was born just off St Patrick's Street in the heart of the city (there is, of course, no lovelier city than Cork).

Films such as Philomena and The Magdalene Sisters were not based on the likes of Mary Aikenhead.  

Raised as a Protestant, Mary Aikenhead converted to Catholicism after hearing a sermon at Mass about the poor man Lazarus and the rich man. Lazarus went to Heaven, the rich man went to Hell.  It is possible that Mary Aikenhead feared that she would meet the same end as the rich man, and this prompted her to begin a life of dynamic service to the poor. 

200 years ago in 1815 Venerable Mary Aikenhead founded the Sisters of Charity, and sisters in this congregation were the first to visit the prisoners in Kilmainham jail.  Perhaps Aikenhead's most notable achievement was founding St Vincent's Hospital in 1834. 

Úna O'Neill sums up Aikenhead well when …

St Teresa of Avila was a charming, droll and tough-minded reformer

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500 years ago today St Teresa of Avila was born.  Over at The Catholic Herald,  I have written a post commemorating that half a millennium has passed since her birth.  

This marks the sixth online article that I've written for the Herald in this month of March 2015.  To see a fuller list of some of my work, visit my author archive






This is my favourite quote from St Teresa of Avila. 



Pope Francis has launched a global prayer for peace in the wake of the 500th anniversary since St Teresa of Avila's birth.

Dog of the Week

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As I wrote before, West London is a dog-lover's paradise.  This week, when strolling down Gloucester Road, I met a Czechoslovakian wolfdog puppy

I'd always dreamed of meeting one. They are a hybrid of German Shepherd and Carpathian Wolf, the original hope was that they would have the physical strength and stamina of a wolf and the obedience of the German Shepherd. 

In 1955, the Czechoslovakian government bred them to be military attack dogs. I had thought a wolfdog would have a sharp-toothed ferocity. So, never in my wildest imaginings, did I think I could rub and play with one. 

I got a lovely surprise when I cuddled this chap.  He can only speak Czech, but like all dogs, he understood a gentle tone. True to wolfdog form, he cannot bark, but has a low whistling whimper that sounds like a human doing a throaty, 'hmmmmm'. 

His owner told me that the wolfdog has a very tricky and long adolescence. When puppyhood ends and youth begins, they become rebellious, testing their …

John Paul had a prophetic message on the role of post-abortion women in the pro-life movement

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I was in primary school when Evangelium Vitae was promulgated twenty years ago today. Over the years, it has become my all-time favourite papal encyclical. As a pro-life manifesto, it informs, edifies and encourages. Quite an achievement because a lot of pro-life texts that reveal the nastiness of abortion should have a warning label that they’ll make the reader feel dispirited.
Not all tonics come in bottles, and if you are feeling worn out from fighting the pro-life cause, there is no better pick-me-up than reading Evangelium Vitae.
One reason that it is so uplifting is that Evangelium Vitae put forward great ideas that have been adopted by pro-lifers to tremendous success. One of the best was that St John Paul II tapped post-abortion women as having an influential role. Two decades ago, St John Paul II said to them, ‘as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone's right to life.’ This has turned out to be prophetic.
We have se…

Pope Francis should pay a visit to Ireland

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If Pope Francis were to visit to Ireland, it would not be his first time there.  In 1980, when the Pope was in his 40s, he spent two months in Ireland learning English.


According to comments made by the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown, Pope Francis has a love for Ireland. The nuncio also said that a brief trip in 2016 is ‘possible’.  
I fear that if planning a papal visit is not prioritised now, it may never happen. Pope Francis has a foreboding that his pontificate will only last four or five years.  Pope Francis is not a travelling pope, being very certain that he is the Bishop of Rome. But owing to his unassuming personality and his popularity, he has a golden opportunity to change hearts and minds during a visit to Ireland.  
Pope Francis has an unpretentious manner and the Irish, who despise airs and graces, would take very well to him.
There has already been a sea-change in Irish attitudes to the papacy.  Today is St Patrick’s day, and it was revealed in The Irish Times that …

Why I'm renewing my devotion to St Joseph

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Over at The Catholic Herald, I have a piece on why St Joseph is so powerful a saint.  St Teresa of Avila had a neat explanation; it is that Our Lord Jesus Christ had to obey St Joseph when He was a Child, and so in Heaven, Our Lord still does as St Joseph asks. 

Underneath is the novena that ends on March 19th.  This prayer is not exclusively a novena prayer and may be said at any time or any day for any intention.  If you need an urgent favour from St Joseph, and you don't have nine days, you can say the prayer once. 

Novena to St. Joseph Oh St. Joseph whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the Throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires. Oh St. Joseph do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below your Heavenly po…

Should we pray for ISIS? Taking Jesus at His word, only prayer and fasting will drive out some demons

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It really is the stuff of Hellish nightmares.  While 19 of the Assyrian Christians kidnapped by ISIS in north-eastern Syria have been released, around 200 are still being held hostage. 

Over at The Catholic Herald, I have a post on the need to pray and fast for ISIS terrorists...