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Showing posts from 2017

Seamus Heaney wasn’t anti-Catholic, but he saw Irish Catholicism as a thing of the past

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Introduction to this post
What a wet week it has been here in London. A soggy August gave way to a sodden September 2017. Popping around London and hearing the announcements on loudspeakers in the tube train stations advising customers to be careful because 'inclement weather' makes the floors of the stations slippy - brings my mind back to Septembers in Ireland when it rained all the time and of walking to school in the wind-driven rain that always found a way into your shoes and schoolbag and of having to sit through classes in wet, clammy clothes. 

A more visceral memory still is of one I used to have all through school of preparing to study Seamus Heaney and then as a 20 year-old of preparing to be taught by him. I don't recall it as a merry mindfulness, rather of being mentally muzzled: you had to praise and praise the poetry of Heaney, no criticism of his poems was ever tolerated. Almost like your checklist for school or college was, 'lunch, homework and that menta…

Roses for Princess Diana, or roses for the Queen of Heaven?

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Princess Diana was very fond of the sunken garden which runs parallel to Kensington Palace. I pop across to the garden often and I see why Diana often called it 'beautiful': it is situated on top of a high grassy embankment, you get to the garden by winding your way uphill through the thicket of green hedges or climbing the stairs. Once there, you have a feeling of seclusion, of being in your own secret garden as you feast your eyes on the flower displays and catch the glint of golden fish swimming in the ponds and the restful rhythm of the cascading water from the fountains. 

To mark the 20th anniversary since Diana's untimely death the garden was planted with 12,000 white flower bulbs which have burst and bloomed to become the 'Diana White Garden'. Here is a photo from May when the bulbs were still being warmed in the earth. 


A virtual perfumery when the wind sways the roses a milky, maternal scent washes over you. A hive of tourists it may be, but there during my …

My friend Melissa Presser on The Journey Home

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I got to know my friend, Melissa Presser when she reached out after reading John Carmichael's masterpiece, Drunks and Monks

Melissa has just been a guest on EWTN's The Journey Home. You can find Melissa at her blog, God is in your typewriter. Please pray for Melissa, her three children and her husband and offer thanks to God that she became Catholic and we can count her among our sisters in Christ.


I do not believe The Third Secret of Fatima came to pass with the attempted assassination of John Paul II in 1981

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I may sound alarmist but heart and soul I believe the Third Secret of Fatima has not yet fully come to pass: that the bloodbath foretold by Our Lady when she appeared to Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco has not reached its bitter conclusion which will be marked by a massacre of the Holy Father, bishops, men and women religious and lay faithful. Indeed, I believe that this rude shock is ahead of us, not behind us.

A full 100 years ago this year Our Lady cautioned that if humankind did not turn from sin, repent and offer prayers and penance in reparation all the while honouring her specific requests then the contents of the Third Secret would be our fate.


That faithful  day on the hillside Our Lady revealed a vision to the 3 children which was later relayed (fully or edited; many of us are not quite sure) by the last surviving seer, Sr Lucia. Relying on Lucia's words, our mental cinema can create a surreal sequence of events where the Holy Father in a trembling and down-trod…

I truly believe Jacob Rees-Mogg will be Prime Minister one day. Let's pray for him!

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Jacob Rees-Mogg may not be the next PM,  but with my all heart I believe he will be PM one day. I had the great pleasure of meeting Jacob Rees-Mogg at the Jesuit church in Farm Street, Mayfair where he is a parishioner. Rees-Mogg had just taken part in a panel discussion on Brexit and I was so impressed by his contribution that I raced up afterwards to meet him and congratulate him. He was wearing his bespoke double breasted navy suit and I found him to be eloquently charming - but not in a stylised, stagey way - he has the supple grace of someone comfortable in his own skin who has immense self-belief. Posh and plummy, perfectly polite he may be, but he is not a snob.

When I asked if I could quote him he readily and enthusiastically agreed, which caught me off guard because some of his quotes would be thought incendiary by those who would like to censor them, he spoke against the EU's funding of abortion in Africa and said that the EU had "a lot of cheek" when they &qu…

Check out John Carmichael's discussion with Cy Kellett for a Catholic Answers podcast

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Yesterday in California, Drunks and Monks author John Carmichael went to Catholic Answers headquarters for a chat with Cy Kellett. Here is the finished result: a fascinating, inspired interview with superb audio quality.


Where's your rope ladder? Something to consider in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tradegy.

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I didn't see the Grenfell Tower go on fire;  I smelt it. I live a relatively short distance from there and the morning after the inferno raged I was out for my early walk when I was met with wafts of smoky air which were just too fetid and too thick to be usual, even if it has been a hideously hot summer. Since then my mind has been turning over and over a piece of advice that an older chap took trouble to give me some years back. He was quite a brilliant wordsmith who was occasionally mentioned in the 3rd person by The Times Literary Supplement, we sold something together and he let me have all the profits for the care of a homeless pregnant young woman. So all in all he was a good egg. One day I was having a tot of sherry with him and he asked me, "Mary, do you have a rope ladder?" "A rope ladder? Hello? No, I'm not an army recruit!" "I'm serious," he replied, "you should get a rope ladder.  You might wake up some night and that …

A thoughtful review of Drunks and Monks

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Bonnie Rodgers of Boston Catholic TV left an astute review of Drunks and Monks on Amazon, so good I feel it deserves a wider audience:


"I read this book in anticipation of an interview. But I was drawn to request the interview because of the title. It's cutesy but heavy, everyone loves a funny drunk and certainly cartoon monks always draw a smile. In reality though drunks make for messy, emotionally strained lives and the lives of monks are austere and contemplative, focused on profound relationships with the Divine - traits we may aspire to in our daily lives.

Several of the reviewers mentioned that they couldn't put this book down, for me the experience was different, at some of the more intense, raw experiences with his parents and coarseness of the marriage I had to turn away, such painful encounters are tough to witness, particularly when you so desperately want the relationships and situations to be healed and then thrive.

The author's faith was drained for a numbe…

For a marriage to be of God

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I've always felt called to marriage and down through the years I received some marriage proposals. There were the good, decent Catholic men who I did not feel called to marry, also my temperament clashed with theirs which was one reason I would not have made a good wife to any of them.  There were also a few non-Catholics who were kind men but resolute they would never convert. A successful man about London town said to me, “I' have no problem with you staying Catholic but I´d never convert.”  It's hard enough for two parents who are Traditional Catholics to raise kids who are devout, but on my own I wouldn´t fancy my chances. There was also one who was adamant he didn´t want kids and for that precise reason, I broke it off. Regrettably there were also a few bullies. Experience can be a pitiless teacher and in such relationships I learned that we brought out the worst in each other and were we man and wife we would have found it hard to keep the other in a state of grace a…