Monday, 30 December 2013

'God was Man in Palestine, and lives Today in Bread and Wine'


Birth of Jesus. Medieval Fresco located at Neppendorf, Sibiu, Romania.     Image by Fergal of Claddach.


'Christmas at the Office' – Joy Falkner (1978)

The industrious clerk

meticulous and slow

made out wage packets

for the higher echelons

and his own

meagre but sufficient.

Enough to keep his bicycle

behind the opulent cars

and cycle home

to wash the dishes

change the sheets

and cook a dinner

for the half-crazed woman

querulous invalid

bed-ridden these two years

the fractious faded phantom

of the flower-wife

of 1949.

He packs his books

and leaves his desk immaculate

as drinks go round

the disco signalling

the start of celebrations

“I’m going now Sir”

“Ah - not staying for the party?”

We do not see him cross the room

only the door opening on the dark

and chorus “Merry Christmas Lou”.

                                    Joy Falkner –‘Is anybody there’


'Christmas' - John Betjeman

The bells of waiting Advent ring,

The Tortoise stove is lit again

And lamp-oil light across the night

Has caught the streaks of winter rain

In many a stained -glass window sheen

From Crimson Lake to Hookers Green.


The holly in the windy hedge

And round the Manor House the yew

Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge,

The altar, font, and arch and pew,

So that the villagers can say

“The church looks nice” on Christmas Day.


Provincial public houses blaze

And Corporation tramcars clang,

On lighted tenements I gaze

Where paper decorations hang,

And bunting in the red Town Hall

Says “Merry Christmas to you all.”


And London shops on Christmas Eve

Are strung with silver bells and flowers,

As hurrying clerks the City leave

To pigeon-haunted classic towers,

And marbled clouds go scudding by

The many-steepled London sky.


And girls in slacks remember Dad,

And oafish louts remember Mum,

And sleepless children’s hearts are glad,

And Christmas -morning bells say “Come!”

Even to shining ones who dwell

Safe in the Dorchester Hotel.


And is it true?  And is it true,

This most tremendous tale of all,

Seen in a stained-glass window’s hue,

A Baby in an ox’s stall?

He Maker of the stars and sea

Become a Child on earth for me?


And is it true?  For if it is,

No loving fingers tying strings

Around those tissued fripperies,

The sweet and silly Christmas things,

Bath salts and inexpensive scent

And hideous tie so kindly meant.


No love that in a family dwells,

No carolling in frosty air,

Nor all the steeple-shaking bells,

Can with this single Truth compare ---

That God was Man in Palestine

And lives today in Bread and Wine.

John Betjeman - Collected Poems, ‘A few late chrysanthemums’- 1954


'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'

Thoughts from St Alphonsus Liguori


       'Wishing one and all a happy and blessed New Year'

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Freemasonry - the sinister reality

'Freemasonry' is one of those subjects about which many people know little or nothing.
Popular conception sees it as a business/social organisation for men, existing for the mutual support of its members and as charitable benefactors to society.

I have just watched a long, but fascinating and informative video on Freemasonry, presented by Michael Voris, which reveals the sinister reality behind this  myth, showing the rejection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, by Freemasonry, with the stated aim of destroying the Catholic Church - primarily by infiltration, and replacing it with a one-world religion.

Video can be seen here.  Strongly recommended.

'The flesh desires what the spirit dislikes; and the spirit pants for what the flesh abhors.The false love of the flesh destroys the true charity we owe to ourselves; inordinate compassion towards the body is full of cruelty because by indulging the flesh it kills the soul'
'Thoughts from St Alphonsus'

'Holy Mary, Mother of God and mother of mercy, pray for the Holy Father and all the Church, especially the faithful departed.'

Saturday, 19 October 2013

'Blessed are They that Hunger and Thirst after Justice, for they shall have their Fill'


                                                Sermon  on the Mount (Carl Bloch)

I expect many have read or at least heard of the case of Fr Gordon Macrae sentenced to a term of life imprisonment in 1994 in New Hampshire, USA, for alleged assault and abuse of a minor in 1983.
During the past 20 years much has been written and spoken about the glaring inconsistencies and apparent injustices  in this case. Fr Macrae himself has always maintained his innocence, and over the years support for him has snowballed. In April 2005,  Pulitzer-Prize winning writer Dorothy Rabinowitz profiled the case of Fr. Gordon in two complementary articles in the Wall Street Journal, under the title 'A Priest's Story'. After months of studying Court documents and combing through testimonies, Rabinowitz concluded that Fr Macrae was clearly a victim of fraud and was wrongly convicted.  In May 2013, Rabinowitz followed this up with a further article in the Wall Street Journal, entitled 'The Trials of Father MacRae', in which she re-iterates her original conclusion.  
 In 2012  a book ‘Catholic Priests Falsely Accused – The Facts, The Fraud, The Stories’  by David F.Pierre, Jr. was published, and the case of Fr Macrae was particularly highlighted.
Recently it was announced on Fr Macrae’s website, ‘These Stone Walls', that an Appeal was to be taken to the Federal Court challenging the verdict in this case, with new evidence concerning both the facts of the case and the handling of the case in the original trial, casting real doubt over the judicial correctness of the original verdict .
 From the facts in the public domain, this is an Appeal which should be upheld.  It is about more than  one unjustly condemned priest receiving a fair hearing, although that alone would be more than an adequate reason, it is about justice being  done for  all those priests falsely accused of sexual crimes, who were never given the opportunity to defend themselves. Clearly and unfortunately, some allegations were based on truth, but an experienced lawyer  has been quoted as saying that in his opinion, anything up to two-thirds of all allegations made against priests are false in one degree or another. Such allegations were either driven by malice against the Church, or/and by greed, with huge civil settlements being paid out of court by  Diocesan authorities desperate to avoid Court publicity, and without any questions asked on the reliability or otherwise of the evidence. Many allegations referred to ‘incidents’ which had happened up to 30/40 years previously, and in many cases  the accused priest had since died.  This made no difference, settlements were still made and the good name and reputation of the priest concerned was effectively blackened. This post is not intended to portray the whole story, but I would urge you - if you are unaware of this case, or wish to refresh your memory, to connect to the link below:-

As can be appreciated, there is a great need for help towards the cost of mounting this appeal, please see details on the following link:-


In his book 'Catholic Priests Falsely Accused', David Pierre includes an article on  Irishwoman Kathy O'Beirne, who in 2005 released a book, 'Kathy's Story: The True Story of a Childhood Hell Inside the Magdalene Laundries'. After apparently enduring harrowing abuse from her father, O'Beirne claims that aged 12, she was placed in the care of The Sisters of Our Lady of Charity at a Magdalene laundry. O'Beirne describes in frightening detail how she was repeatedly brutalised by the nuns, on one occasion suffering a broken pelvis. In addition she alleged that a priest raped her, and at age 13 she gave birth to a baby daughter who died 10 years later. With a torrent of clerical abuse allegations in the USA, and scandals brewing in the UK and Ireland, at that particular time, O'Beirne's harrowing tale found a fertile market. Her book reached no.3 on the UK's best seller list, with nearly 400,000 copies sold. Reviewers raved, the 'Irish Independent' castigated the Church, and 'She' magazine proclaimed, 'Her story is so horrific, it's almost unbelievable'. As things turned out this last reviewer was nearer the truth than she imagined, for in fact the whole of 'Kathy's Story' is complete fabrication. A year after the book was published, five of Kathy's brothers and sisters publicly addressed the media, declaring that her book was a 'hoax publication'. It transpires that Kathy was never in a Magdalene laundry or home, there is absolutely no record that she gave birth at age 14, and she was not raped by a priest.  Mary O'Beirne,  younger sister of Kathy, has this to say about her,  'Our sister has a self-admitted psychiatric and criminal history, and her perception of reality has always been flawed. She is very convincing though, and that is what makes her dangerous'. O'Beirne's co-author, a man by the name of Michael Sheridan, later admitted, 'There are no documents, and there is no evidence of Kathy in the two Magdalene laundries; there never was.'

                                                                             A Tissue of Lies

Veteran writer Hermann Kelly  investigated O'Beirne's claims, and found the whole story a virtual fraud. He recounted his findings in his own book, 'Kathy's Real Story'(Ireland Prefect Press 2007). Particularly upsetting to the O'Beirne family was Kathy's claim that their father was an abusive and terrifying man, an angry drunken thug. The reality was quite the opposite, 'My father never once lifted his hand to us. Never,' Mary O'Beirne has said. 'It was a normal happy childhood. He was a very proud, good man, and it breaks my heart to see the terrible lies Kathy has written about him'. Even after the author's credibility was destroyed, another publisher announced that it had won a bid to publish a sequel, and it was only as a result of action by the O'Beirne family, that the publisher announced that it was dropping the project because it had failed to resolve 'legal issues' with the author. In spite of everything the book continues to sell well in England and Wales, and unbelievably receives 5 star reviews on Amazon's UK site. 
I decided to mention this particular case because I'm sure that very many people would have been understandably scandalised when the story first came to light, and they may not be aware of the truth. As I remember, the media made great play of this story, with the Irish nuns depicted as cruel and unfeeling bullies with little or no thought for the well-being of the girls in their care. Yet it was a tissue of lies, but was the good name of the nuns restored? I do not remember much publicity from the media to put right the lies and innuendos that they had originally promoted. Maybe I missed something, but I must confess that I was ignorant of the outcome until I read David Pierre's book. The truth needs to be shouted from the housetops, and I don't think that we can rely on the media to do this.
(Ack. 'Catholic Priests Falsely Accused. The Facts, The Fraud, The Stories' by David F Pierre, Jr.
published 2012, Mass. USA)


'Humiliation is the touchstone of sanctity.You will acquire more merit by meekly receiving an affront, than by fasting ten days on bread and water.'
(St Alphonsus de Liguori C.SS.R)

'May Our Blessed Lady guide and protect our Holy Father, Pope Francis'  Amen.

Monday, 30 September 2013

'Modern toleration is really a tyranny' - GK Chesterton

The above words of GK Chesterton are as valid today as they were when first written.

'Same-sex marriage' has been approved by the UK Parliament, but is still being considered by the Scottish government. We hope that proper consideration is given to the rights of those who are opposed to this legislation, particularly in the field of employment. It seems that employees, especially in the public sector, could find themselves discriminated against if they don’t endorse the new definition of marriage. Teachers, social workers, the police and especially civil registrars are among those who could be particularly vulnerable.  There have already been examples of extreme intolerance shown to certain people, such as the former SNP leader Gordon Wilson who was voted off the board of Dundee Citizens Advice Bureau for publicly endorsing traditional marriage. Also the case of the Rev Brian Ross, a Church of Scotland Minister, and Chaplain of the Strathclyde Police, forced to resign for the same reason.
A belief in traditional marriage must never be used to dispute someone’s commitment to diversity and equality. It should therefore be stated clearly on the face of the Bill that the view that marriage can only be between a man and a woman is “worthy of respect in a democratic society” – which is a key test used by the European Court of Human Rights. ( ack.Scotland for Marriage)

                  Mary, Mother of God and mother of mercy, pray for us


Is this a foretaste of our new tolerant world? 
The following extract is from the website  'turtlebay and beyond', (see link on my sidebar), and needs no explanation:- 

'Homosexual hate crimes drive Christian couple out of business'

Posted on | September 25, 2013 by J.C. von Krempach, J.D.

With the gay lobby pushing for new 'anti-discrimination' legislation at EU level, it becomes increasingly clear that the predominant purpose of such legislation would be for gay bigots to bully and harass all the rest of society.
EU law makers should take a close look at the United Kingdom, where the owners of a Bed & Breakfast have to pay a high price for having refused a twin bed room to gay couple Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy. Hazelmary and Peter Bull, who run Chymorvah Hotel at Marazion, Cornwall, have also faced death threats over their decision to in 2008 have no option but to sell their beloved home and business after failing to attract enough custom and paying their legal costs after high profile court cases over the issue.

No way forward: Hazelmary and Peter Bull say they can't face another winter like last year when they went 'cold and hungry' because of money worries (copyright: the Daily Mail)
But it is not only the lost court case that forces them to close their business. According to a report in the Daily Mail, the Bulls have gone through a year of organised hate crime from mostly anonymous enforcers of the new moral order. They have received death threats, vandalism and had their website corrupted with pornography They have had the bolts removed from the wheels of their car and most recently found a dead rabbit nailed to their fence all over the issue of who they allow to stay in their guesthouse.
Isn’t it strange how legislation that purportedly aims to promote “tolerance” is actually used to bully and harass, and to destroy the economic and social existence of an elderly couple whose sole “mistake” was to believe in the sanctity of marriage? And isn’t it revelatory how some in the gay community,  so squeamish about so-called “hate crimes” of which they claim to be victims, themselves appear to indulge in the very behaviour that they condemn?
In the EU, the debate over the proposed “Anti-Discrimination Directive” is far from over. However, the probable effects of such legislation can now be studied in the UK: it would effectively cancel out contractual liberty for all and everyone. And that is nothing less than an assault on liberty at large, given that the conclusion of contracts is one of the most important ways in which people interact socially. Limitations of the freedom of contract can therefore only be justified where otherwise people would be cut off from goods and services of primary necessity. But this was not the case here: firstly, it is not a primary necessity for homosexual couples to spend a weekend in a given B&B in Cornwall. Secondly, there were plenty of other hotels in the area that would have accomodated them. Thirdly, there was no risk for them to spend the night in the cold, given that even the owners of the Chymorvah hotel would have accomodated them, albeit in two single rooms.
So, what is this all about? The true purpose of this type of legislation is not to guarantee access to life-necessary goods and services, but to provide a legal  basis for bigotry and bullying. And the bigots and bullys that use it are from the gay community.

Ack. to 'Turtle Bay and Beyond' - September 25
'Thoughts from St Alphonsus for every day in the year.' by Rev C Mcneiry CssR.      
'If after this life there were neither hell nor heaven, could Christians think less of these places than they do at present? It is this forgetfulness that makes them lead so wicked a life.  My brother, if you wish to live well, spend the remaining days of life with death before your eyes.'      (September 27th)

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Prayer for Peace in Syria

With  acknowledgement to Richard Collins - 'Linen on the Hedgerow'

Holy Trinity - Coecke van Aelst (1502 - 1550)

 Prayer for peace in Syria

God of Compassion,

Hear the cries of the people of Syria,

Bring healing to those suffering from the violence,

Bring comfort to those mourning the dead,

Strengthen Syria’s neighbours in their care and welcome for refugees,

Convert the hearts of those who have taken up arms,

And protect those committed to peace.


God of Hope,

Inspire leaders to choose peace over violence and to seek reconciliation with enemies,

Inspire the Church around the world with compassion for the people of Syria,

And give us hope for a future of peace built on justice for all.

We ask this through Jesus Christ,

Prince of Peace and Light of the World,


Our Lady of Guadeloupe - we pray for peace in Syria and the Middle-East

Petition: For the people of Syria, that God may strengthen the resolve of leaders to end the fighting and choose a future of peace.

We pray to the Lord…

Thursday, 25 July 2013

'God's love, reflected in life' - ack.YouTube

A short and rather moving video of the love of a daughter for her dying father:-


'Pro Infirmis' conducts an experiment. There are only a few people who don`t have empathy with disabled people, nevertheless, the passenger seat in the public bus next to Fabian often stays empty....


Flash dance in a snowy Moscow, February 2012 - to the music of Irving Berlin! This will get you tapping your feet - just to keep warm!


Finally, the choir of Westminster Cathedral singing the 'Gloria' from 'Messe de Minuit pour Noel' by Marc-Antoine Charpentier. Surely the finest Cathedral Choir in the world, performing to the glory of God, in the magnificent Byzantine Cathedral of Westminster.


'By attention to the mortification of self-love we shall become Saints in a short time. When you are contradicted, give up your opinion with cheerfulness, unless the glory of God require that you maintain it.  If you receive a letter, restrain your curiosity, and abstain from opening it for some time.  A thousand acts of this kind may be performed every day.'

'Thoughts from St Alphonsus' by Rev C Mc Neiry C.SS.R

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Hope - F.SS.R Ordinations - Turtle Dove in Stronsay

                                  Golgotha Monastery, Papa Stronsay, Orkney

Last Sunday at Mass in Our Lady's Chapel, Stronsay,  Brother Yousef  Marie F.SS.R preached  on the theological virtue of 'Hope'.  It was a memorable and unique occasion, not I hasten to add, because Brother Yousef preached, for he has done this on many occasions in his own excellent and inimitable way,  but because it was the last time that he would preach as a Deacon.  Next Saturday, 22 June, at the Chiesa della Santissima Trinita Dei Pellegrini, Rome, he and confrere Brother Magdala Maria F.SS.R will be ordained to the priesthood by His Excellency, Archbishop Guido Pozzo,  Papal Almoner, Titular Archbishop of Balneoregium.

This day will surely be forever etched in the history of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer, with the whole community from Papa Stronsay travelling to Rome to share in this unique occasion.The faithful on Stronsay have not been forgotten, for a visiting priest  will be staying here next week-end, and will be celebrating the traditional EF Mass in Our Lady's Chapel. We are grateful to both Fr. Anthony Mary F.SS.R for arranging this, and to our visiting priest for his charity.

Having listened to Brother Yousef's admirable sermon on Sunday in which he discussed the virtue of 'Hope', I am taking the opportunity to reproduce a sermon/letter by His Lordship, Bishop Hugh Gilbert O.S.B., Bishop of Aberdeen, on the same subject, and  presented on 1 May this year, 5th Sunday after Easter, and published on the Diocesan web-site on that date. I find the Bishop's thoughtful words deeply moving and a source of real spiritual encouragement:-

 'Reflecting on today’s three readings, it struck me that the first is about faith, the second about hope, and the last (the Gospel), about charity/love. As bishop, I often wonder: when the Lord looks at us, looks at our diocese, what does he see? What makes him smile? The answer is: faith, hope and charity in us. That’s our beauty. And here today is this holy trio.
In the 1st reading, faith was mentioned twice. Paul and Barnabas were encouraging the new converts to persevere in the faith. In the Gospel we heard Jesus saying: ‘I give you a new commandment, love one another; just as I have loved you, you too must love one another.’ And in the middle, in the 2nd reading, came hope. The word wasn’t used, but what’s described there is exactly what we hope for.
It’s hope that drives us. And here is hope in the middle of our three readings. A French poet once imagined Faith and Charity as two elder, rather stately sisters walking along, and in the middle, between them, tugging at their hands, is their little sister, Hope. She is jumping and skipping and hopping, pushing ahead. And it’s she, the little one, who’s really leading the other two. Or think of how dogs take people for walks. There is the dog, sniffing, listening, excited, spotting a rabbit, pulling at the leash. Yes, it’s our hope that keeps us believing and loving. It’s hope that keeps us young, that stops us being cynical and miserable, ‘moaning for Scotland’.
So let’s explore this 2nd reading.
I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth; the first heaven and the first earth had disappeared and there was no more sea. I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, as beautiful as a bride all dressed for her husband.’
Here’s a first thought: how big our hope is. Often we think of heaven too narrowly: heaven is where I’ll be okay, I’ll be happy, and see my friends again. But God’s horizon is broader.
There will be ‘a new heaven and a new earth.’ The whole of creation, universe, nature will be transformed. We will have a whole new environment. ‘There will be no more sea.’ That sounds strange. Many people love the sea. The language is symbolic, of course. In fact, the ancient Israelites, the Jews, generally didn’t like the sea. It seemed to them huge, chaotic, destructive. Think of a tsunami. So, ‘no more sea’ means creation no longer at war with itself, no longer undermined or threatened by the enemy within, creation at peace. It’s another version of Isaiah’s vision of the lamb and the lion lying down together.
‘I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem.’ Here’s another dimension: a whole new way of living together, humanity at peace. I know a 13 month old baby who smiles at everyone he meets. And sadly you think, how long will that last? When will that be knocked out of him? We don’t smile at everyone we meet. But in the heavenly city we will. We will because each of us will be a bringer of joy to everyone else. We will simply delight in each other.
And this city, this new human world, will be ‘as beautiful as a bride all dressed for her husband’. We will correspond completely to God’s hope for us. In the beginning, we were made in his image and likeness, reflecting him. We’re always in his image, but not always in his likeness. We live in ‘the land of unlikeness’. But in the new Jerusalem, the likeness will be restored to the image. Sin will be no more. God will delight in us and we will delight in him.
And so it goes on: ‘You see this city? Here God lives among men. He will make his home among them; they shall be his people, and he will be their God; his name is God-with-them.’ Yes, there will be a new world, there will be new relations among ourselves, because God will be with us. At the heart of Jerusalem was the Temple, the house of the living God, who had pitched his tent among his people and made a covenant with them. We will be unbreakably, indissolubly bonded, married to God: he with us, we with him. He in us, we in him.
Then there comes one of the most wonderful line in all Scripture: ‘He will wipe away all tears from their eyes; there will be no more death, and no more mourning or crying or sadness. The world of the past has gone.’
He will wipe away all tears from their eyes.’ That’s what a mother does to her child often enough. Don’t you think that behind the eyes of each of us, there’s a kind of build-up of tears, a great sack of them? Isn’t there, in the heart of each of us, a great bag of sorrow? Every one of us has lost something precious, everyone of us has been disappointed and hurt. Every one of us is secretly grieving over something. Every one of us knows that the people we love are going to die, and we will too. And the picture in my mind is this: when we do die and meet Christ, this sack inside us will burst, and the tears, the accumulated tears, will all pour out. And God will wipe away every one of them. How I don’t know. How the terrible evils of human history, of what we’ve done to each other over the centuries, how that’s put right, I don’t know. But the word is: ‘He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’  God’s tender touch can do even that. ‘And death will be no more, and there will be no more mourning or crying or pain – for the former things have passed away.’
That’s our hope. This is why the little child in us still skips along, keeping our faith and love fresh. This is why the dog is straining at the leash.
So when a loved one dies, don’t just grieve. Think of what God is doing for them. Think of them entering, being added to, that city above. Generation after generation, God is at work, secretly building the new Jerusalem out of us. And one day He will reveal it to the eyes of all of us.

‘Behold, I make all things new.’ That’s how the reading ends. It’s the voice from the Throne that says this, that is God the Father. In the whole of the Bible, from Genesis to the Apocalypse, this is the last direct word of God (the Father) to humanity, to us. ‘Behold, I make all things new.’
Bishop Hugh Gilbert    
1 May 2013
It seems appropriate to mention in this post, a recent Stronsay 'rare bird' sighting, namely a 'turtle dove'.  Usually associated with warmer climes such as North Africa, the Mediterranean regions, and Central Europe and Asia, I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw this bird some two or three weeks ago, perched on our garden fence.
                                                  Turtle Dove, Stronsay. June 2013.

The turtle dove is  mentioned numerous times in the Bible, often in connection with sacrificial  offerings to Almighty God; however it also has connotations  of innocence and gentleness, and as a name of endearment for one beloved:-

          'Deliver not to the wild beasts the soul of thy turtle-dove: forget not for ever the life of thy needy ones' (Psalms 73:19)

Here the Psalmist is calling on God not to abandon His beloved chosen people, Israel, to their enemies. A prayer of petition infused with hope, without which, the prayer - any prayer, would surely be meaningless.


Please remember in your prayers, those young men who will be ordained to the Holy Priesthood next Saturday; thank you.

St Alphonsus de Liguori, pray for them.
Our Lady, Queen of Heaven, guide and protect them at all times.


Thursday, 9 May 2013

Saint Augustine - a Saint for our time

St Augustine was born in 354 at Thagaste in North Africa. He was baptised by Bishop Ambrose at Easter 386 and ordained priest in 391. Five years later he was consecrated Bishop of Hippo. His writings and sermons have exercised a deep influence on the Church. He died on 28 August 430. He was canonised by Pope Boniface VIII in 1303. He is a 'Doctor of the Church', and his feast- day is 28 August.

The following extracts from the writings of St Augustine are taken from an anthology, ‘The Joy of the Saints’, edited by Robert Llewelyn, published by Darton, Longman and Todd, London. This anthology includes extracts from the writings of several Catholic Saints viz. St Therese of Liseux, St John of the Cross, St Teresa of Avila, and St Francis de Sales; but also includes works by Julian of Norwich, John Wesley, Martin Luther, and others.

(The bibliography indicates the source book for St Augustine’s readings, as ‘The heart at Rest – daily readings with St Augustine', edited by Dame Maura See OSB.)

      Saint Augustine of Hippo - painting by Phillip de Champaigne (French 17th century)

The two deaths

As a man you are destined to die.  Put it off as long as you like, the thing so long delayed will come at last.
There is, however, another death, from which the Lord came to deliver us: eternal death, the death of damnation with the devil and his angels.  That is the real death; the other is only a change, the leaving of the body.
Do not fear this kind, but be frightened of the other, and labour to live in such a way that after death you may live with God.
Remember that Antichrists are not only to be found among those who have gone away from us, but among many who are still in the Church. The perjurer, the adulterer, the drunkard, the trafficker in drugs, all evil-doers.
They will say, ‘But He made us like this’.  Our Creator cries out from Heaven,  ‘I made the man, not the thief, the adulterer, the miser;  all that moves in the sea, flies in the air, or walks on the earth is my work, and sings my praise’.  But does avarice praise the Lord, or drunkenness, or impurity?  Anything that does not praise him was not made by him.

Here today and gone tomorrow 

Wherever the soul of man turns, unless it turns to You, it clasps sorrow to its heart.  Even if it clings to what is lovely, if this loveliness is outside God, it has clung to sorrow, for these beautiful things would not exist without You.  Like the sun, they rise and set: they have their beginning and then they grow old and die.
Let me praise You for these things, my God who made them all, but do not let the love of them be like glue to fix them to my soul.
In these things there is nowhere to rest, because they do not last, they pass away beyond the reach of our senses. Indeed, we cannot lay firm hold on them even when they are with us.
In this world one thing passes away, and another takes its place.  But does the Word of God pass away?  Make your dwelling in Him.  Entrust to Him whatever you have, for all you possess is from Him.  In Him is the peace that cannot be disturbed, and He will not withhold Himself from your love if you do not withhold your love from Him.

                   Vision of Saint Augustine - Fra Filippo Lippi ( c1450)


Let the Lord your God be your hope – seek for nothing else from Him, but let Him Himself be your hope. There are people who hope from Him riches or perishable and transitory honours, in short they hope to get from God things which are not God Himself. Seek for Him alone, and despising everything else, make your way to Him. Forget other things, remember Him; leave other things behind, stretch out to Him.  Let Him be your hope, who is guiding you to your destination.
Where in the end does coveting this world’s goods lead you? You want a farm, then an estate, then you shut your neighbours out and covet their possessions.  You extend your desires till you reach the shore. Having made the earth your own, perhaps you want Heaven, too?
Leave all your desires. He who made heaven and earth is more beautiful than all; He who made all things is better than all; He will be to you everything you love. Learn to love the Creator in the creature, in the work Him who made it. Don’t let what was made take such a hold of you that you lose Him by whom you yourself were made.

The heart at rest

Ask the beauty of the earth, the beauty of the sky. Question the order of the stars, the sun whose brightness lights the day, the moon whose splendour softens the gloom of night. Ask of the living creatures that move in the waves, that roam the earth, that fly in the heavens.
Question all these and they will answer, ‘Yes, we are beautiful’. Their very loveliness is their confession of God: but who made these lovely mutable things, but He who is Himself unchangeable beauty?
Too late have I loved You, O beauty ever ancient, ever new, too late have I loved You.
I sought for You abroad, but You were within me though I was far from You. Then You touched me and I longed for your peace, and now all my hope is in your great mercy.
Give what You command and then command what You will.
You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless till it rests in You. Who will grant me to rest content in You? To whom shall I turn for the gift of your coming into my heart so that I may forget all the wrong I have done, and embrace You alone, my only good?

                   Saint Augustine in his study - Sandro Botticelli (1480)


'Our Lady of Good Counsel, pray for us, and guide and protect our Church and our Holy Father, Pope Francis' - Amen.