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Monday, 19 March 2018

The humility of Our Lady and the Saints - a few thoughts.

In the same way that 'pride' is considered the most deadly of the seven capital sins, 'humility' is considered the most important and necessary of the corresponding virtues. Our Lord Himself by His words and example, constantly emphasised the
importance and necessity for us to cultivate true humility, not as practised by the Pharisees, but as 'little children' without guile. He described Himself as 'meek and humble of heart' inviting all men who labour and are burdened to come to him for rest. Pride led to the rebellion and downfall of Lucifer and the fallen angels, and to the sin of disobedience by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.Thus did evil come into the world, opposed always by the power of God's grace, and the person of Jesus Christ, God the Son made man, conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the virgin Mary; who in her humility praises God with her 'Magnificat'; 

"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour; because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid; for, behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed; b
ecause He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name; and His mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear Him. He has shown might with His arm, He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and has exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. He has given help to Israel, His servant, mindful of His mercy- even as He spoke to our fathers- to Abraham and to His posterity forever" (Luke 1: 46-55) 

At that hour the disciples came to Jesus, saying,  "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in their midst, and said, "Amen I say to you, unless you turn and become like little children, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whoever, therefore, humbles himself as this little child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Mathew 18: 1-4)

"God resisteth the proud, and giveth his grace to the humble" (James 4:6)


Immaculate Conception, Caxios do Sul Museum, Brazil  (poss. do. Atelier Zambelli - own work)

  Sacred art representations of the Immaculate Conception show Our Lady with her heel crushing the head of the serpent, a symbol of the victory of good over evil, humility over pride.


With Passiontide upon us, it seems a good time to reflect on the unchanging wisdom of the early Fathers of the Church, particularly those holy monks and hermits, whose lives and teachings have been recorded and passed down through the ages.  

"There was in a monastery a certain old man, of most reverend life, and he fell into grievous sickness: and he was wasted with great and intolerable weakness and for a long time travailed in distress, nor could the brethren find any way to succour him, for those things which his sickness required they had not in the monastery. But a certain handmaid of God, hearing of his affliction, entreated the abbot of the monastery that she might take him to her own cell and tend him, more especially as she could more easily find in the city such things as were needful to his sickness. So the abbot of the monastery commanded the brethren to carry him to the cell of the handmaid of God. And she received the old man with all reverence, and for God's sake tended him, in hope of that eternal recompense, which she trusted to receive from our Saviour Christ. For three years and more she had watchfully tended the servant of God, when men of evil heart began to suspect according to the itching of their own minds, that the old man was not clean in his conscience towards the virgin that tended him. And the old man hearing it, entreated the divinity of Christ, saying, "Thou, Lord our God, who alone knowest all things and seest the griefs of my sickness and my misery, and dost consider this infirmity which for so long had wasted me, so that I had need of the nursing of this handmaid of thine, who hath tended me for Thy sake: give unto her, my Lord, her great and due reward in the life eternal, even as thou didst promise in Thy mercy to such as showed kindness for Thy sake to the poor and the sick." And when the day of his passing had drawn nigh, many of the older brethren of the monastery, holy men, came about him, and the old man said to them: "I beseech you, my lords, and fathers, and brethren, that when I am dead ye take my staff and plant it on my grave, and if it take root and come to fruit, then shall ye know that my conscience is clean towards this handmaid of God that tended me. But if it does not put forth leaves, know that I am not clean of her." When therefore the man of God had gone out of the body, the holy fathers planted his staff upon the grave, as he had bidden, and it brought forth leaves, and when the time had come, it bore fruit: and they all marvelled and glorified God. Many came from the neighbouring parts at such a miracle, and magnified the grace of the Saviour, and we ourselves saw the little tree: and we blessed God who in all things defendeth them that serve Him in sincerity and truth."



"When the abbot Macarius, carrying palm leaves, was returning to his cell at dawn, the Devil met him with a keen-edged sickle, and would have struck him, but could not. And crying out at him "Great," he said, "is the violence I suffer from thee, O Macarius, that when I fain would injure thee, I cannot: yet whatever thou dost, I do also, and more. For thou dost fast now and then, but by no food am I ever refreshed. Thou dost often keep vigil; no slumber ever falls upon me. But in one thing dost thou overmaster me, I do myself confess it." And when the blessed Macarius asked him what that might be, "It is thy humility alone," he said, "that masters me." He spoke, and the blessed Macarius stretched out his hands in prayer: and the evil spirit vanished into the air."


One of the Fathers used to say, "Every labour of the monk, without humility, is vain. For humility is the forerunner of love, as John was the forerunner of Jesus, drawing all men to him: even so humility, draws to love, that is to God Himself, for God is love.


  The above are  included in a fascinating book, 'The Desert Fathers', translated from the Latin by Helen Waddell, and published by Constable, London, in 1936.  

Helen Waddell was born in 1889, the youngest of 10 children, of an Ulster Presbyterian minister, a pioneer missionary in Manchuria and Japan. She was an extremely intelligent and diligent child, attaining high academic standards at school, followed by equally high achievement at Queens University, Belfast, and Somerville College, Oxford. She chose writing as her career, showing a particular interest and talent for translating works written in the early centuries AD from the original Latin into English, with a unique scholarly sensitivity which guaranteed her immediate success. She became one of the best-selling authors of the 1920s and 1930s, with her novel 'Peter Abelard' eventually being re-printed over 30 times and being translated into 9 European languages. Among other books which brought her fame, were 'The Wandering Scholars', 'Mediaeval Latin Lyrics', 'The Desert Fathers', and 'Beasts and Saints'. Helen Waddell remained unmarried but had a very wide circle of friends and acquaintances, particularly in the world of art and literature. She died in 1965 after a long illness.  

Thursday, 1 February 2018

D of E consultation on Sex & Relationship education - speak out now!

The Department of Education is running a consultation on: 

“Changes to the teaching of Sex and Relationship Education and PSHE”

                                                    Image result for schoolmasters hat


SPUC has produced briefing notes (see link below) to help you respond to the consultation.Please act now and respond. Consultation closes at 11.45pm on Monday 12 February 2018.

  • The Children and Social Work Act 2017 made Relationship Education in all primary schools a compulsory school subject and Relationships and Sex Education in all secondary schools. This legislation applies to England only.
  • This new legislation has been described as: "a state takeover bid for parenting".
  • On 19 December 2017 the government launched a consultation on what should be taught in these new compulsory subjects.
  • This is an opportunity to help shape what is taught to our children in school about these important matters.
  • All concerned citizens, and especially parents, grandparents and those working professionally in schools are encouraged to take part in this consultation.
  • This consultation closes at 11.45 pm on 12 February 2018   
  • The link to SPUC website with details of consultation and briefing notes:-   
  •  (Ack.John Smeaton, Director SPUC).

Saturday, 30 December 2017

'A Christmas Gift' and other delights.

A Christmas Gift

A mother was watching, one Christmas night,

Nursing her babe by the candle-light.
And she lifted her eyes in the gathering gloom,
For the Christ-child stood in the lowly room.
"What shall I give to thy child?", He said,
softly caressing the sleeper's head.
"Nay", said the mother, "O Angel-guest 
Give her whatever Thou deemest best."

"But what shall I give her?" He spoke again,

"ask and thou shalt not ask in vain.
Shall I touch her brow that her eyes may shine
with beauty, that men will call divine?
Shall I touch her lips that they may flow
with songs of the best that the world may know?"
"Nay", said the mother, "these will not stay,
songs are forgotten, and hair turns grey".

"Then what shall I give her, O mother mild?

Ask what thou wilt for thy little child".
And the mother lifted her eyes above,
"Give her purity, truth and love".
And the Christ-Child turned to her, soft and mild,
"Thou has chosen the best for thy little child.
Be not afraid, though life be sore,
I will be with her for evermore".

                                Anon - from 'Parlour Poetry' (This England).


God Abides in Men

God abides in men.
There are some men who are simple,
they are fields of corn.
We see the soil and the stubble,
more than the green spears
and the yellow stalks.
Such men have minds
like wide grey skies,
they have the grandeur
that the fool calls emptiness.

God is clothed in homespun in such lives.
He goes with them to the field and the barn,
He comes home, when the birds,
in dark orderly flocks
cross the empty twilights of time.

God abides in men.
Some men are not simple,
they live in cities
among the teeming buildings,
wrestling with forces
as strong as the sun and the rain.
Often they must forgo dream upon dream.
The glare of the electric light
blinds their eyes to the stars.
On some nights,
the stir of life, and the lights,
is a soft fire, like wine
in their blood.

Christ walks in the wilderness
in such lives.
Wrestling with Lucifer,
the fallen angel of light,
who shows him the cities of the world,
and with brilliant and illimitable audacity,
offers to Christianity lordship of the cities
on the worlds terms.

God abides in men.
There are some men,
on whom the sins of the world are laid.
They are conscripted,
stripped, measured and weighed,
taken away from home,
and sent to the flood,
the fire, the darkness,
the loneliness of death.
In such men
Christ is stripped of His garments,
the reed is put in His hand,
the soldier’s cloak on His shoulders,
the Cross on His back.
In them He is crucified.
From the lives,
and the deaths
of those men,
cities rise from the dead.

God abides in men,
because Christ has put on
the nature of man, like a garment,
and worn it to His own shape.
He has put on everyone’s life.
He has fitted Himself to the little child’s dress,
to the shepherd’s coat of sheepskin,
to the workman’s coat,
to the King’s red robes,
to the snowy loveliness of the wedding garment,
and to the drab, simple battle dress.

Christ has put on Man’s nature,
and given him back his humanness,
worn to the shape
of limitless love,
and warm from the touch
of His life.

He has given man his crown,
the thorn that is jewelled
with drops of His blood.
He has given him
the seamless garment
of his truth.
He has bound him
in the swaddling bands
of his humility.
He has fastened his hands
to the tree of life.
He has latched his feet
in crimson sandals,
that they move not
from the path of love.

God abides in man.

Caryll Houselander (1901-1954)


Although this is not a Christmas poem, it is about a child's love for her father, originally composed perhaps for the music-hall.   I cannot resist including it!

Give Me a Ticket to Heaven

Into a railway station crept a little child one night;
The last train was just leaving, and the bustle at its height.
The station-master standing there, looked down with wondering eyes
Upon this little maid - so frail in form, so small in size.
"Where is your father, little one? Are you alone? he cried.
With tearful eyes she look'd up in his and thus replied:

        "Give me a ticket to heaven,
         That's where Dad's gone, they say,
         He'll be so lonely without me,
         Travelling all that way.
         Mother died when I was born, sir,
         And left Dad and me alone,
         So give me a ticket to heaven, please,
         Before the last train is gone."

"My Daddy worked upon the line, but when I went tonight
To take his tea, he lay there on a shutter - oh! so white.
Then to a great big building his mates carried him away;
'He's booked for Heaven, poor old Dick!" I heard one of them say.
A station this must be - I thought to find the train I'd wait;
But finding none I ran on here - I hope I'm not too late."

        "Give me a ticket to heaven,
         That's where Dad's gone, they say,
         He'll be so lonely without me,
         Travelling all that way.
         Mother died when I was born ,sir,
         And left Dad and me alone,
         So give me a ticket to heaven, please,
         Before the last train is gone."

The station-master said, "Come, little one I'll see you right.
A ticket to your father you shall have this very night."
He took her to the hospital; they let her see her Dad.
Though injured, he had not been killed, and oh! her heart was glad.
Then turning to that kind friend who had brought her all the way,
She said, "If I lose Dad again, I'll come to you and say -

        "Give me a ticket to heaven,
         That's where Dad's gone, they say,
         He'll be so lonely without me,
         Travelling all that way.
         Mother died when I was born ,sir,
         And left Dad and me alone,
         So give me a ticket to heaven, please,
         Before the last train is gone."

                               Anon - from 'Parlour Poetry'(This England).


"God, who is unchangeable, would appear now as a child in a stable, now as a boy in a workshop, now as a criminal on a scaffold, and now as bread upon the altar.  In these various guises Jesus chose to exhibit Himself to us;  but whatever character He assumed, it was always the character of a lover." 

ack. 'Thoughts from St Alphonsus' - compiled by Rev C McNeiry  C.SS.R

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

'Simply a Letter'

Reproduced below is an extract from a letter written by a Catholic father to his family. The letter covers many matters of general interest, but includes this extract which deals very briefly with the founding and growth of the Church over the centuries, and more specifically the need for each member of the family to live and persevere in the practice of the faith, which will lead to eternal happiness with God. 

'Mum and I consider ourselves fortunate and very blessed to have been baptised Catholics, and brought up in the one, true faith. The Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ who appointed Peter, a fisherman, to be the Head.  Peter was the first in a line of Popes continuing to the present day. Needless to say not all Popes have been good men!  After Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection from the dead, Peter and the remaining apostles and other disciples travelled throughout the Near and Middle East preaching Christianity and converting thousands to the Christian faith. Over the years many suffered torture and martyrdom for their beliefs, with periods of persecution lasting intermittently over several centuries. It is easy to forget that in England, for a period of 1500 years until the time of the Reformation, there was only one Christian faith, and that was Catholicism. If you were a Christian, you were a Catholic. Today the Catholic Church teaches the same faith and has the same beliefs as it has always done, and this will continue to the end of the world. The Protestant Church, which came into being at the Reformation, is now divided into hundreds of Sects, none of which recognises the Pope as their Head and none of which teach the Catholic faith, and all of which teach their own versions of Christianity. None can claim that protection given by Christ to Peter when he founded His Church - ‘Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it……. To thee I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound, even in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed, even in heaven.” 

Today (November 2nd) is ‘All Souls’ day, when we remember and pray for the souls of deceased family and friends, and ask God to forgive them their sins in this life, and welcome them into His heavenly kingdom. Death is certain for all of us, and if we do not set our sights on doing our best to live our lives in the friendship of God, how can we expect to be welcomed by Him when we die? As baptised Catholics we have been specially favoured by Christ as belonging to Him, and if we persevere in our loyalty to Him, after death we will be with Him for all eternity.
However Christ did not promise an easy ride, as we can see by His words:- “Enter by the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many there are who enter that way. How narrow the gate and close the way that leads to life! And few there are who find it”.(Mathew 7//13)   
“If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For he who would save his life will lose it; but he who loses his life for my sake will find it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but suffer the loss of his own soul” (Mathew 16//24-26)ow narrow the gate and close the waythat leads to lif! 

 "The holy souls are consoled by the remembrance of the Passion of Jesus Christ and of the Blessed Sacrament, because through the Passion they are now saved, and through the Communions of the faithful and the Masses celebrated throughout the Church, they have received and receive so many graces.  But they are tormented by the thought of having been ungrateful during life for these two great benefits of the love of Jesus Christ."   (November 7th)
  ack. 'Thoughts from St Alphonsus for every day of the year' -compiled by  Rev. C McNeiry  C.SS.R

Friday, 29 September 2017

Divine Authority and the Catholic Church

                                                  St Peter - Paolo Besenzi  (17th c)

(the following, with slight modification, is taken from an article in the latest edition of  ‘The Flock’, the newsletter of Pro Ecclesia and Pro Pontifice,  editor Graham Moorhouse (Le Tocsin) -  with thanks)


- Graham Moorhouse

Man's attitude to religion can be put into three broad categories: atheism, natural religion and revealed religion.


Atheists are simply materialists who deny the existence of the divine. Today, the ranks of atheists have been swelled by a world -wide flight from Islam. Sadly, many, possibly most, ex-Muslims finish up as atheists. This, while regrettable, is very understandable. People leave Islam because of the conflict between God's law written on their hearts and the laws of the sick deity preached by Islam's homicidal, misogamist, paedophilic, "prophet". Unfortunately, because they have had the laws of this sick deity rammed down their throats from birth, their subconscious concept of God is very negative indeed, so many, understandably, abandon God when they leave Islam. A God who loves man, His creature, so much that He became man and died for him, is not something they can easily get their heads round, when they have all their life been instructed to worship a God who calls for the slaughter of non-believers, war, rape, legalised adultery (for men, not women), sex slavery, the beating of wives and the death penalty for apostates, etc.

Natural Religion

Those that believe in natural religion, hold that man has an innate desire for the divine. For the believer in natural religion, the different creeds are merely different traditions that have evolved over time in different cultures as a result of this inherent longing. The believers in natural religion tend towards pantheism, i.e. the god within, not a being who exists outside of His creation. For the believer in natural religion it makes absolutely no sense to talk of one religion being true or another false. All religions are merely human traditions, and therefore just a matter of choice or custom.
Most ecumenists are believers in natural religion. What they hope to achieve by jaw-jaw is that the different religions will slowly morph one into the other, so that what we will finally end up with is a sort of one-world homogenised religion - which will, of course, serve the ends of Masonic, globalist masters.

Believers in natural religion hate miracles. And when I say "hate", I mean really hate with a passion that borders on the demonic. That is why some of our post-Conciliar "shepherds" have torn down any sign of the miraculous from Catholic places of pilgrimage. The Holywell shrine (on the Dee Estuary, northern Wales) is a case in point. Before the Council it was bedecked with abandoned crutches and similar artefacts. Today, it is has been stripped bare of any hint of the miraculous. The miraculous, you see, exposes their philosophy as a sham. The miraculous requires a God who is outside nature, who is the author of the laws of nature, and who is consequently capable of suspending those same laws.

One of the great mysteries of the post-Conciliar Church is why churchmen who apparently embrace natural religion, which is the clear antithesis of the Catholic faith, continue in their positions. 

In my opinion, an example  of a believer in natural religion is  Cardinal Walter Kasper. He is actually on record of having said something to the effect that a God who reveals Himself is theological nonsense. Nearer home, Fr Rolheiser who writes in the Universe, is in my view, another believer in natural religion. He will write ecumaniac-gibberish like, ‘if we dig wells with the devotees of other religions we will find God together at the bottom of the well.’ How that is supposed to work is anyone's guess, and is never, of course, explained.

As matters stand, the as yet, unclarified and contentious papal encyclical 'Amoris Laetitia', suggests the Pope may be inclined in this direction, aware of it or not. His attempt to update and amend Christ's teaching on the indissolubility of marriage makes perfect sense from the perspective of natural religion. If religion is just man-made traditions, and Christ was merely a Rabbi, of course you can, and perhaps even should, update His teachings to better fit the spirit of the age. Pope Francis's constant banging on about rigidity also fits into this picture. If religion is merely  the blind stumbling of man towards the divine, than inflexibility makes little sense.

At the Last Supper, Christ said to the Apostles, "Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me." Listen to their responses carefully. All the Apostles, except Judas, replied, "Is it I Lord?" But Judas replied instead, "Is it I, Rabbi (teacher)?" At that moment, Judas revealed himself as a believer in natural religion. While one may have enormous respect for a teacher, one does not worship a teacher. Teachers are ultimately merely human. Human knowledge advances and the teachings of even the greatest teachers of antiquity have to be viewed through the lenses of modernity.
We should see Judas Iscariot not just as an individual but as a type. Judas Iscariot will always be with the Church. The Venerable Fulton Sheen wrote, "The Mystical Body on earth today will have its Judas Iscariot, and he will be the false prophet. Satan will recruit him from our bishops."

Revealed Religion

The final category is revealed religion. For the believer in revealed religion, a certain rigidity makes perfect sense, because the believer in revealed religion holds that true religion is the result, not of man seeking God, but of God revealing Himself to man. There are four main factions claiming such revelation: Protestantism, Islam, Judaism and Catholicism.

The differences between Protestantism and Islam are of course huge, nevertheless, they have one quaint idea in common: the belief that God has revealed Himself through a book, and this book is the foundation stone of their respective belief systems. It is difficult to convey just how irrational this idea is. For starters, it is not just one article of blind faith, it is at least three articles of blind faith: one must first embrace the assertion that there is actually such a thing as a book dictated or inspired by God; secondly one must embrace the idea that either the Koran or the Bible is so inspired; and finally, that other books are not so inspired.

The only possible basis for such an utterly improbably notion, is if someone or something with the requisite authority should reveal it to be so. To claim that the book itself claims to be inspired is a logical non-starter. It is the intellectual equivalent of carrying oneself around by one's own bootlaces. Muslims, for example believe that Muhammad is the most perfect man to have ever lived, because the Koran, a book purportedly written by Muhammad, says he is the most perfect man who has ever lived. How nuts is that? Yet followers of this barbaric creed will kill you for merely questioning it!

 Protestantism is, from this perspective, even more irrational than Islam, for the Bible  is not one book but seventy-three books written at different times, in different places by different men. On what possible basis can any mere man know that these particular seventy-three books are inspired, or even special?

The original canon, i.e. list of books to be included in the Bible, was drawn up by the Church, but Protestants reject the Church, so what possible rational grounds do they have for retaining the list? It gets even sillier, because Luther, the inventor of Protestantism, took five books out of the Bible because he didn't like what they taught! If Luther, a mere man, can take out these five books simply because he didn't like what they taught, why can't Joe take out another dozen or so for similar reasons - or Mary add half a dozen other books for that matter? The original canon took some time to be universally agreed in the Church. The inspiration of the book of Revelations, the last book of the Bible, was rejected by some early Christians. And a beautiful letter from St Clement, the third pope, was regarded as inspired and worthy of inclusion in the Scriptures by some Christians. In fact, in the early Church, it was regularly read out at Mass as if it was Scripture.

Judaism and Catholicism

Judaism and Catholicism can be considered as one thing. Judaism looked forward to the coming of the Messiah and of His kingdom, i.e. the coming of Jesus Christ and the founding of His Church, whereas the Church looks back to the coming of Jesus Christ and Her founding and commissioning by Him. The founding of the Catholic Church by Christ rendered Judaism fulfilled and in that sense obsolete.

The Church treats the intellect of non-believers with respect and therefore does not require them to do anything quite so daft as embrace, without any rational basis for so doing, the dogma that a bunch of old books are the inspired word of God. The Church treats the Bible, especially the four Gospels, as historical books. She invites you to evaluate those four books using the same criteria as a professional historian would use to evaluate any other historical document.

Once one has satisfied oneself as to the validity of these books as historical records, we quickly learn that the "hero" portrayed therein claimed divinity. We further learn that he validated his claim with miracles, especially His own resurrection from the dead. We also learn from this and other sources that some twelve of His closest followers gave their lives for the truth of what they had witnessed and to which they had testified.

                                                                             The Four Evangelists
Detail in stained glass window, Bosbury church
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in stained glass east window of Bosbury church.
© Copyright Philip Halling and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

We further learn that Jesus Christ founded a Church and bestowed on that Church His own authority and mission. That Church teaches that everything passed down to us from the early Church constitutes sacred tradition and must be revered. Further, some of that sacred tradition has been codified, i.e. written down for our edification. Further still, just some of these written, i.e. codified, records, the Church further teaches, were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Now, at last, because the Church teaches with the authority of Christ, we have a rational reason for accepting the inspiration of the Scriptures.

Without that authority, unless we were to wake up one morning and find the entire canon of the Scripture written in the sky by a miraculous cloud formation, or learn  that something like this was witnessed, like the miracle of the sun at Fatima, by 10,000s of people, belief in the inspiration of the Scriptures, without the authority of a divinely commissioned Church, is mere superstition - and, moreover, can, in the wrong hands, be dangerous superstition.
                                   (ack. Graham Moorhouse (Le Tocsin)
Feast of St Michael - 29 September.    

                          St Michael the Archangel  - Guido Reni (1636)

'In the Mass for the dead, the Church prays:  May the standard bearer, St Michael, bring them into the holy light.   The learned explain this prayer by saying that St Michael has the honourable office of presenting to Jesus Christ, the Judge, all the souls that depart this life in the Grace of God.'

(ack. Thoughts from St Alphonsus.- compiled by Rev C McNeiry C.SS.R)