Saturday, 5 December 2015

Prayers needed for Mother Angelica, a heroine who has always defended the Faith

I was very upset by the news that Mother Angelica has been put on a feeding tube, it's sort of the same feeling we had in the days leading up to Pope Benedict's abdication.  The photo below was taken at EWTN headquarters in Irondale, Alabama where a beautiful portrait of Mother Angelica hangs in pride of place.  Over at The Catholic Herald, I did an article on Mother Angelica's extraordinary story

‘Jesus had to hit me on the head and make me suffer,’ declared Mother Angelica when she appeared on the Journey Home, where she told viewers, ‘it was good for me that my dad left my mother when I was six.’  Mother Angelica explained, without a trace of self-pity, that her own pain taught her that there are two options when we suffer, we can bury ourselves in the world or turn to God.

Born Rita Rizzo, Mother Angelica’s parents divorced when she was 6, and she was ostracised by the other kids because she was the only one from a broken home who had to subsist in grinding poverty. Not naturally academic, Mother Angelic had an incident with a teacher who spent an entire lesson lecturing the class about, ‘one person who could do so much better’.  After the lesson the teacher said to the then Rita, ‘that person was you, what are you going to do about it?’ Defiantly, young Rita shot back, ‘Nothing. I don’t like you.’ 

As a young woman, she tried to get into various religious orders, but was refused because she had done so badly in school. She said this ‘crushed’ her, but she kept looking until she found an order that would take her.

Who would have thought that she would become the founder of the most successful Catholic television network of all time?  Currently, EWTN is available to over 150 million households and broadcast in more than 140 countries and territories.  Who would have thought that this young woman who was not from a ‘good’ background, was rejected by her father, was not considered bright, and had never been popular, would go on to become the most beloved Catholic nun in the history of television? 

Catholics all over the world have a great affection for Mother Angelica. Her upbringing gave her a very tough skin and a rapier wit which she used to charm Morley Safer when she appeared on 60 Minutes.

Personally, I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Mother Angelica.  I appeared on a TV show entitled Extraordinary Faith, and after the first episode was broadcast on EWTN, I came to the attention of John Carmichael who asked me to edit his memoir, Drunks and Monks.

Those of us who love Mother Angelica find it a source of sorrow to learn this week that Mother Angelica’s health is reportedly in decline.  She has been fitted with a feeding tube and the statement said that she has ‘suffered a great deal’ recently.

(The photos below were take in Hanceville, Alabama, at the monastery where Mother Angelica lives and is cared for by the other nuns.)

Whenever I have felt like a Catholic and pro-life untouchable, it has buoyed my spirits to think that we have a friend in Mother Angelica because she has continuously stood up for Catholic values in an uncompromising, unapologetic way.

I feel it my duty to offer Mother Angelica’s intentions in the Rosary and as often as possible at Mass. I suggest as many of us as possible offer a novena to St Clare, the patroness of television expressly for the intention that Mother Angelica is able to make the most of her time left on earth and that she gets the strength to do what she needs to preserve her legacy.  

Readers who are joining the novena might consider posting the novena on their Facebook pages, as well as other social networking sites to encourage others to pray for Mother Angelica.  T’would be a fitting gift to this saintly, feisty nun to offer a bouquet of prayers as she may be approaching her last agony.

Mother Angelica's tea is on sale in the gift shop at Hanceville, Alabama. 

The photo above and the one below is of the grounds around the Monastery where Mother Angelica lives. 

One last photo, to give more evidence of my narcissism.  Here I am in the gift shop, looking vainly pleased with myself at finding a book that matches my outfit... It was a pleasant surprise to find the book on Pope Francis to which I contributed a few lines. 

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

A feast fit for a Prince of the Church, our dinner with Cardinal Burke

The Latin Mass Society very kindly invited me to the dinner at the Royal Overseas Club on the 13th of November to celebrate the occasion of Cardinal Raymond Burke's visit to London. 

His Eminence has a packed schedule as evidenced by the photos that our intrepid Chairman, Joe Shaw took.  Cardinal Burke also granted an interview to my editor, Dylan Parry, for The Mass of Ages with the sparkling line:

"I think Catholics should simply say that ‘I cannot accept this teaching as it goes against what the Church has always taught and practiced.’ I don’t think that Catholics should permit themselves to be driven away from the Church by those who are not upholding the Church’s teaching."

Sorry that I have been late blogging about this and posting my photos, it is high dinner party season and I have been giving quite a few in my West London flat as well as tearing around London to attend not a few wintry parties. John Carmichael and I are also working hard promoting the paperback edition of Drunks and Monks

I tried to look my best for the dinner in honour of Cardinal Burke.  A friend of mine who works in fashion is on the look-out for red dresses for me and this one came from London Fashion week, it came hot off a fashion model's back and had a whiff of peppery perfume about it. My hair was meant to be thick ringlets, but the gale-force windy weather made it more fuzzy instead. 

The cardinal was greeted with popping champagne corks, as we all enjoyed a glass of bubbles before sitting down to a scrumptious meal. The first toast, where we all solemnly stopped eating and raised our wine glasses was to Her Majesty the Queen. Then there was a toast to our esteemed guest, Cardinal Burke. 

Our starter was celeriac and apple soup, followed by salmon and golden glazed potato gratin.  I quipped that this would be the menu I'd chose for my last meal on earth.  My friend, Fr Tim Fiinigan recorded my delight on Twitter by posting this pic.

Something quite funny happened after Cardinal Burke posed for a photo with me - he asked if one of the young men standing near me was my husband. The young man replied, 'shouldn't there be a list of what a Catholic girl ought to be before a man proposes marriage?'   I think that I'd fall very short of the list!

Another confusion that had to be cleared up; I was quick to reassure Cardinal Burke that just because I wear red does not mean I am out to pinch his job. 

When I had the chance to chat to Cardinal Burke, I gave him a hard-copy of my interview with Archbishop Cordileone, who during the interview praised Cardinal Burke as, 'very gentle and gracious, wise and holy'.  

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

A prophecy for our times

Me, aged 13
'You’re a lesbian,’ hissed my classmate before she scrunched up her nose at me. We were 13 to 14 years of age, and she had been grilling me on how far I had gone. It was not the first time that I’d been labelled ‘lessie’ or ‘frigid’ because I’d never let one of the pimply boys kiss or grope me. I was not devout and had hardly any prayer life, so it wasn’t for fear of sinning that I didn’t bend to such peer pressure. It was an all girls’ school, and I knew that if I declared myself willing, I would be invited along to meet up with the boys after school.  My reason for not yielding to this manipulation was that I had no friends at the school and knew that if I gave in, I would fit in for a time, but I would have given the other girl power over me and  next time I’d have to go further to prove to her that I was heterosexual.

The very same girl called me a lesbian led a two-faced existence.  She egged on other young teens to get blind drunk and be the playthings of boys drenched in cheap cologne. Then she put on airs of being very devout before her mother at Mass. The message that I I absorbed was that holiness was the good mask of the manipulator.  

An older girl did have a baby and was rewarded with the insult, ‘stupid girl’. As I said, I wasn’t pious, but it dawned on me there was a wicked chorus of devilish taunting that bullied girls as young as 13: the only way to avoid being called ‘freak’ or ‘frigid’ was to do as the others did, and the only way to avoid being lectured, ‘you were too stupid to use a condom’ was to take the Morning After Pill or later pay for your baby to be dumped in a clinic bucket.  Life has never been worse for kids, I thought to myself.

Still we were arrogantly told that we were so ‘privileged’ to be ‘Celtic Tiger cubs’ and that, ‘life has never been better for kids.’  I never dared answer back, life has never been worse.  

Then some years back, I had a chance encounter with an Irish mammy from Cork who was taking her fifteen year old to London for an abortion.  Having first-hand knowledge of the type of peer pressure the pregnant girl had been under, I tried to intervene and persuade them against the abortion. The Irish mammy would not listen to a word. Paying for her grandchild to be obliterated was about covering up bad parenting. The Irish mammy hadn’t thought it very cool to teach her daughter to stand up to sexual pressure and had turned a blind eye to her early binge drinking.  I never found out if the girl remembered getting pregnant. So, she marched her daughter to the clinic. I remember thinking of the 15 year old kid who was born in the 1990s that, life has never been worse for girls her age.

Now I don’t just think this – I believe it to be true.  400 years before that poor 15 year old girl was born Our Lady of Good Success warned that children of our times would have an exceptionally soul-rotting time. 
Appearing to Mother Mariana, Our Lady entrusted her with prophecies concerning my generation (Mother Mariana was a Spanish nun who was an abbess in Quito).  Being very precise, Our Lady said that, ‘some time after the second half of the 20th Century’ Satan would rule almost completely over society, and that his minions ‘will focus principally on the children to sustain the general corruption. Woe to the children of these times!’  Our Lady asked Mother Mariana to offer sacrifices and to pray for the children born during this time in history.  

Our Lady of Good Success explained why vocations would be scarce, ‘During these unfortunate times, evil will assault childhood innocence. In this way, vocations to the priesthood will be lost, which will be the true calamity.’  Our Lady said that ‘secular education’ would be ‘one reason for the dearth of priestly and religious vocations’. 

Young parents that I’ve met at Latin Masses have said to me that they experienced the same taunting of ‘you’re gay’ if they were not sexually active at a young age and that the reason they home-school is so they will not be putting their child into the same pressure-cooker that they were so badly burned in. Sometimes young home-schooling parents have a hard time explaining to their parents why they are home-schooling their kids. Maybe it is telling that the grandparents of the children who are being home-schooled do not always understand – they may have been born in the 50s and early 60s before things got truly as bad as Our Lady prophesied to Mother Mariana when she said, ‘the Devil will glory in dining upon the exquisite delicacy of the hearts of children.’

Hundreds of years before we were born, Our Lady had made sure that a gift of prayers were being offered for us and our peers. There are a number of reasons to be hopeful, for Our Lady of Good Success assured the good and kind-hearted Mother Mariana that, ‘to test this faith and confidence of the just, there will be occasions when everything will seem to be lost and paralysed. This, then, will be the happy beginning of the complete restoration.’ Our Lady of Good Success, pray for us. 

I wrote this column for the Winter Edition of The Mass of Ages, the quarterly magazine of England and Wales' Latin Mass Society.  You may read the full magazine here.  

The photo below shows the incorrupt body of Mother Mariana, who received the prophecies from Our Lady. 

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