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Showing posts from January, 2016

What St John Bosco teaches us about the power and meaning of dreams

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Does God communicate with us through our dreams? St John Bosco thought so: he was shown God’s plan for his life in a dream when he was only nine years old. The vivid dream remained etched in his mind for his entire life. The young John had dreamed that he was in a yard not far from his home in the hilly Italian countryside. The yard was full of poverty-stricken boys who were blaspheming and swearing. Wanting to stop them mouthing “these evil words”, John ran at them and struck them with his fists. He was interrupted from throwing punches by a man in a white cloak whose face shone so much that young John could hardly look at him. The man said: “You will have to win these friends of yours not by blows but by gentleness and love… I want you to teach them the ugliness of sin.” In the dream John admitted to the man that he was perplexed. He said he didn’t know how he could ever influence such a great number of boys and he told the man he didn’t know who he was talking to. The man said: “I…

Pregnant mums with life-threatening pregnancies and Blessed John Henry

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If she gives birth to her baby she may well die: that’s what I understand when I hear of a pregnant mother diagnosed by doctors as having a ‘life-threatening pregnancy’. If such a mum is like St Gianna Molla, she will decide to give up her own life so that her newborn baby will live while she will be buried. It is an unthinkable choice for most ladies. In my own case, I would like to think I’d give my own life in place of my innocent baby. Yet I pray I’d never have to decide between my life and that of my baby. There is a pregnant mum in America who was told her pregnancy threatened her life and so she prayed to Blessed John Henry Newman. Her prayer may have wrought a miracle – she has since been told that she has enjoyed a complete recovery which has no medical explanation.This may be the second miracle needed to canonise Blessed John Henry.
Hats off to the pregnant mum – I think she shows a high degree of insight in praying to Blessed John Henry. Had I not heard of this miracle and…

Good confessors are like thorough doctors. They press until it hurts and they find the wound that needs treating

I made my first Confession when I was eight. My most glaring sins were that I’d pinched perfumed notepaper from another girl, I’d wished ill on one of my teachers for belittling my schoolwork as “atrocious” and I was jealous to the point of spitefulness of kids who won competitions. I persisted in these sins for a few years but thankfully I grew out of them, and am no longer tempted by pink notepaper with rose scent. At the dawn of 2016, a mere two weeks ago, I made a list of resolutions-to-combat-sin that I’ve been struggling to keep. To be fair, I’ve kept off the gin. I have gone from enjoying a regular G&T with my friends to having one as a special treat. But I’ve not quite cut out rudely interrupting others in company or my other peccadilloes. So I’m faced with going back to Confession and asking the Lord to forgive the same sins that I had made a firm resolution not to do again. And with God’s grace I’ll grow out of them and overcome my bad tendencies in time. It comforts me…

I find that the British are more open to relying on Catholic piety in the age of terrorism

I fell in love in Victoria Station when I was a child visiting London. I watched the carnival of life, people from every corner of the earth and Londoners from all social classes and backgrounds rush or wait for their trains. No one was treated the less for being different – including me – and this was a new experience for me. At home in Ireland my peers punishedme for not fitting in.  But I felt accepted in London, which afforded me a psychological solace that made me fall in love with the city. Whether I was eating lunch with a homeless lady in a café that looked out onto Victoria Station or watching the well-heeled carry shopping bags from luxury stores, I felt welcome in the midst of Londoners. Two decades on, my beloved Victoria Station still has fog billowing like dry ice around it, but a cloud hangs over the heads of commuters. As Islamic terrorist attacks have become standard horror viewing on our TV screens at night, people have become more wary of travelling on public transp…

Superb guest post from John Carmichael: The Grace of Forgetfulness and the Healing of the Imagination

The Reverend Father Chad Ripperger, P.hD., is a Catholic priest in the Diocese of Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA, and a Doctor of Philosophy.
In 2007 he published an 800-page tome audaciously entitled: Introduction to the Science of Mental Health. I call it audacious because, after all, why would a Catholic priest with a doctorate in philosophy, not psychology, dare to title a book promising a comprehensive treatment of the human psyche?
But of course his rhetorical challenge to the fiercely materialistic and reductive status quo of modern psychology is intentional. You see, Father Ripperger is also an exorcist, and he knows from experience there are more things contained in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in the average secular psychologist’s philosophy.
The Reverend Father describes the deliverance part of his priestly ministry as “being stationed at the outlet of a sewer pipe” where sometimes amidst all the filth spewed forth from the mouths and bodies of the diabolically afflicted, one …

How to survive January, the secular season of penance

January can be a penitential season like a compulsory Lent. We may have to give up going out for a pint (it may be too expensive when there is a looming tax bill and/or debts from over-spending at Christmas). If we’ve piled on the pounds over the festive season, we may have no choice but to stop eating cakes and chocolate if we want to fit into our regular clothes. We are not so much Sugar Plum Fairy, as Sugar Plump Fairy.

A harder trial could be bearing with our friends and peers who gripe non-stop, pointing out the people who can afford to go to the January sales while they are skint. Or the more usual complaint among singletons, that Christmas brought them down – they felt jealous of happy couples and happy young families.

Taking a leaf out of St Thérèse the Little Flower’s book, we might do well just to suffer through the January moan-fest by listening patiently. It’s tempting to remind them harshly that they are better off than they realise and that their problems, “are just so…

Happy Feast of the Epiphany!

There can be a dangerous trap for our faith when we celebrate the Three Kings visiting Baby Jesus. It happens when we think, 'oh Jesus must have been special, the Three Kings paid him homage!' The problem here is that we are creating a division in our minds, we put royalty on one side and Jesus on the other side.  The reality is that in the stable in Bethlehem it was a case of royalty visiting royalty. When the Magi fell down before Our Lord as a tiny Babe and worshipped Him, they were showing their deference to the King of Kings. When they were seeking out Baby Jesus, following the Star that had guided them from the East, they encountered Herod and made it clear to him that they wanted to adore the Divine Child.  The kings, holders of the highest office that an ordinary human person can obtain, were not looking for Jesus so that He would put them on a pedestal, rather they were of the mind to adore Him.   Growing up, me and many of my peers were told the account of the Thre…