Chesterton Knew The Importance of Ecumenical Dialogue

Chesterton Knew The Importance of Ecumenical Dialogue

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Infanticide In Europe & The UK, Why Not?

I just saw this retweeted on Twitter:

@GuidoFawkes Not often am stunned, but this call to legalise infanticide by abortionists in BMJ Journal

The thing that stunned me, is that this would stun anyone! The legal limit for abortion in this country, in the case of handicap is up to & during birth, so why wouldn't people want to kill babies shortly after birth in a country with no morals? In 2010 a Baptist minister asked marie stopes if they would carry out infanticide if it was legal, they said they would get back to him............

Once you move away from The Truth, as taught by The Catholic Church, anything goes. Defend Human Life from conception until natural death. (That is a fullstop after the word death not a comma, not a but, and most definitely not a call to lower the time limit on abortion, as that is what led us to this mess.)

So all is lost? Not quite, we can still end abortion in this Country (and worldwide), contact Good Counsel, The Helpers of God's Precious Infants and 40 Days for Life list of locations worldwide.

Here are a few details of the story from The Catholic Herald, full article here.

"A leading British medical [sic...very sick] journal has published an article calling for the introduction of infanticide for social and medical reasons.

The article in the Journal of Medical Ethics, entitled “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” states in its abstract: “After-birth abortion (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.”

The article, written by Alberto Giubilini of the University of Milan and Francesca Minerva of Melbourne University, argues that “foetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons” and consequently a law which permits abortion for certain reasons should permit infanticide on the same grounds."

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Phillip Blond's Greatest Piece Of Writing.

Last year I met Dale Ahlquist of the America Chesterton Society. Dale mentioned Phillip Blond and his book The Red Tory, as I'd never heard of him and the title sounded interesting (not as interesting as The Body in the Silo), off I went to the library to find his book. It is very good, but I felt that he was capable of even great writing. And when I found that I was on Twitter I started to follow him.

Then Cardiff City FC, whom I support, had to play Liverpool FC, who Mr Blond supports, in The League Cup Final (26th February). He had tickets, so I, watching on TV was out of sorts to start with. At the end of the game I said, "If a Premiership team can't beat a Championship team after 2 hours, they should not be allowed a Goalkeeper for the penalties. Wouldn't have mattered as we saved 1, but missed our own!" (Why did someone let a LFC fan take our last penalty?)

Mr Blond then came back with the following, truly GREAT piece of writing on twitter; "@Phillip_Blond @Stuart1927 Cardiff were great and we were lucky - compelling end"

Do read Mr Blond's book, and follow him on Twitter, not that he needs my help as over 8,000 people follow him already, in fact forget that, you should both follow me instead!

What do you mean, "Why is that such a great piece of writing?" Because it's made my blog look even more ecumenical than normal, for not only is Mr Blond a Liverpool supporter, but he is also an Anglican. I know me quoting a Prod and not having a bash, whatever next?

(Sorry if this blog is not so well written, but it's been written in bits. On way to the office, change of plan, drop some things there, then go over to 40 Days for Life as they're short between 10-11am, then over to Eddie who runs the daily Pro-Life vigil outside Whitfield St abortuary, as he is on his own because one supporter is sick and another is away this week, then back to the office, too late to serve at The Holy Sacrifice of The Mass, but in time to see a pregnant women who did not go into the abortuary, but is coming for help instead.)

Friday, 24 February 2012

Are Liberals Killing Catholics Who've Signed The Petition Against Communion In The Hand?

Are Liberals Killing Catholics Who've Signed The Petition Against Communion In The Hand?

I signed the petition and then put up a post all about it. When I signed, I was the 1270th person to do so, now it says that I'm the 1247th person to sign up! So what happened over those few days?

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Pro-Life Solemn High Mass on Friday

"If we only knew how God regards this Sacrifice, we would risk our lives to be present at a single Mass."~ Saint Padre Pio

Join Juventutem London for Solemn High Mass (Old Rite) on the Friday.

Friday, 24th February, 6.30pm
Saint Mary Moorfields Catholic Church, 4-5 Eldon Street, London, EC2M 7LS

After Mass there will be a social downstairs for those aged 18-35 with an exception for priests and religious.

The Mass is open to anyone of any age. It is only the social events that are designed for 18-35 year olds.

This Mass and all our monthly Masses are offered for the work of The Good Counsel Network, a pro-life pregnancy centre that reaches out to mothers in desperate need of support, who would otherwise feel they have no other option than to have an abortion. Their work is founded on prayer and the teachings of the Catholic Church.

If you plan on coming to the social please RSVP either by emailing me, or by clicking 'Attending' on our Facebook event page.

Please let others know about this Mass by forwarding on this email, by inviting your friends on Facebook or by word of mouth.

If you are receiving this email but don't live in London or anywhere near it, I have sent it to you to keep you up to date with what we're doing and to request your prayers for Juventutem London and its members. If you'd like to be removed from this mailing list just send me an email saying so.

"Whatever we do in the political and social order, the indispensable foundation is prayer, the heart of which is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the perfect prayer of Christ Himself, Priest and Victim, recreating in an unbloody manner, the bloody selfsame Sacrifice of Calvary."
~ John Senior

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Today Is A National Day Of Prayer & Fasting For Life

And He said to them; This kind (of demon) can go out by nothing but prayer and fasting.

Gospel of Mark 9:29.

Since the 5th July 2008 The Good Counsel Network has organised monthly National days of prayer and fasting for life, the first was to prevent the passing of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. Although the bill was passed some of the more damaging anti-life amendments were not added to it, including an attack on pro-life counselling and the extension to Northern Ireland of the Abortion Act. There had also been 40 days of Prayer and Fasting in Northern Ireland to ensure that this law was not extended. This only confirmed what we already knew; it is clear from the work that we do at Good Counsel Network, advising women who are strongly set on abortion, that the struggle to end abortion is a spiritual struggle and not merely one of practical concerns or politics.

February 22nd, Ash Wednesday is the next National Day of Prayer and Fasting for Life. Please join us in fasting. You could fast from all food except bread and water for the day or fast from a particular food or luxury, e.g. chocolate, alcohol, cigarettes or tv. Fast from whatever you can given your state of health etc, but make sure that it is something that involves a sacrifice to yourself. We are asking people to say a Rosary (or an extra Rosary if you say it daily already). You could also offer an extra effort such as going to Mass, or an extra Mass, on the day, or going to Adoration.

And the people of Nineveh believed in God; they proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least...God saw their efforts to renounce their evil ways. And God relented about the disaster which He had threatened to bring on them, and He did not bring it. Jonah 3:5,10.

For more information and a printable poster click here.

This Lent come and pray with us at an abortuary, there is our daily vigil in London, 40 Days 4 Life will start on Ash Wednesday in London, in Birmingham, in Brighton and in Manchester. For details of others vigils around the Country see here.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Oh Go On, Give Me Your Copy Or I'll Need To Learn German!

I'm reading Still Dead, one of six detective books by Mgr Ronald A Knox*. I've read, three others, The Viaduct Murder, The Footsteps at the Lock and The Three Taps & have a copy of Double Cross Purposes. That just leaves me 'needing' The Body in the Silo**. I wouldn't pay $200 for the only copy on sale via the internet, even if I had that much money.

I could of course buy a copy of 'Der Tote im Silo. Kriminalroman - Knox, Ronald' for $4.06 plus shipping: $20.35! But as German is not even in my top five of languages to learn, I think I'll give that a miss. (What? Oh, Latin, Ancient Greek, Welsh, Anglo-Saxon & Elvish)

So that just means that if you have a copy, I'd like to help you become detached from worldly things by relieving you of said book.

*Mgr Ronald A. Knox when not working on these very important detective stories, wrote some other interesting books and for light relief he translated the Bible.

**Published 1933 and 1958, so go and ask some older people!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

GK's Weekly, The Thing, The Spirit Of Christmas

Way back in June last year I said;

As you will have seen I am reading The Thing by GK Chesterton. Having read the first hundred pages or so, it dawned on me that some Catholic paper or other really should just reprint the whole thing in parts each week. I then remembered that I'm the only person around here (or anywhere else for that matter) with any sense, and so here it will appear each Saturday. It will be called GK's Weekly in honour of Chesterton's paper of that name. The posts will all be longer than anything that I would read on a blog, but that's The Thing.

And now, many months later, here we all are with the last chapter! Well I enjoyed it anyway.


I HAVE rather rashly undertaken to write of the Spirit of Christmas; and it presents a preliminary difficulty about which I must be candid. People are very curious nowadays in their way of talking about "the spirit" of a thing. There is, for example, a particular sort of prig who is always lecturing us about having the spirit of true Christianity, apart from all names and forms. As far as I can make out, he means the very opposite of what he says. He means that we are to go on using the names "Christian" and "Christianity," and so on, for something in which it is quite specially the spirit that is not Christian; something that is a sort of combination of the baseless optimism of an American atheist with the pacifism of a mild Hindoo. In the same way, we read a great deal about the Spirit of Christmas in modern journalism or commercialism; but it is really a reversal of the same kind. So far from preserving the essentials without the externals, it is rather preserving the externals where there cannot be the essentials. It means taking two mere material substances, like holly and mistletoe, and spreading them all over huge and homeless cosmopolitan hotels or round the Doric columns of impersonal clubs full of jaded and cynical old gentlemen; or in any other place where the actual spirit of Christmas is least likely to be. But there is also another way in which modern commercial complexity eats out the heart of the thing, while actually leaving the painted shell of it. And that is the much too elaborate system of dependence on buying and selling, and therefore on bustle and hustle; and the actual neglect of the new things that might be done by the old Christmas.

Normally, if anything were normal nowadays, it would seem a truism to say that Christmas has been a family festival. But it is now possible (as I have had the good or bad luck to discover) to earn a reputation for paradox simply by going on saying that truisms are true. In this case, of course, the reason, the only reasonable reason, was religious. It was concerned with a happy family because it was consecrated to the Holy Family. But it is perfectly true that many men saw the fact without specially feeling the reason. When we say the root was religious, we do not mean that Sam Weller was concentrated on theological values when he told the Fat Boy to "put a bit of Christmas," into some object, probably edible. We do not mean that the Fat Boy had gone into a trance of mystical contemplation like a monk seeing a vision. We do not even mean that Bob Cratchit defended punch by saying he was only looking on the wine when it was yellow; or that Tiny Tim quoted Timothy. We only mean that they, including their author, would have confessed humbly and heartily that there was someone historically quite anterior to Mr. Scrooge, who might be called the Founder of the Feast. But in any case, whatever the reason, all would have agreed about the result. Mr. Wardle's feast centred in Mr. Wardle's family; and none the less because the romantic shadows of Mr. Winkle and Mr. Snodgrass threatened to break it up for the formation of other families. The Christmas season is domestic; and for that reason most people now prepare for it by struggling in tramcars, standing in queues, rushing away in trains, crowding despairingly into tea-shops, and wondering when or whether they will ever get home. I do not know whether some of them disappear for ever in the toy department or simply lie down and die in the tea-rooms; but by the look of them, it is quite likely. Just before the great festival of the home the whole population seems to have become homeless. It is the supreme triumph of industrial civilisation that, in the huge cities which seem to have far too many houses, there is a hopeless shortage of housing. For a long time past great numbers of our poor have become practically nomadic. We even confess the fact; for we talk of some of them as Street Arabs. But this domestic institution, in its present ironical phase, has gone beyond such normal abnormality. The feast of the family turns the rich as well as the poor into vagabonds. They are so scattered over the bewildering labyrinth of our traffic and our trade, that they sometimes cannot even reach the tea-shop; it would be indelicate, of course, to mention the tavern. They have a difficulty in crowding into their hotels, let alone separating to reach their houses. I mean quite the reverse of irreverence when I say that their only point of resemblance to the archetypal Christmas family is that there is no room for them at the inn.

Now Christmas is built upon a beautiful and intentional paradox; that the birth of the homeless should be celebrated in every home. But the other sort of paradox is not intentional and is certainly not beautiful. It is bad enough that we cannot altogether disentangle the tragedy of poverty. It is bad enough that the birth of the homeless, celebrated at hearth and altar, should sometimes synchronise with the death of the homeless in workhouses and slums. But we need not rejoice in this universal restlessness brought upon rich and poor alike; and it seems to me that in this matter we need a reform of the modern Christmas.

I will now emit another brilliant flash of paradox by remarking that Christmas occurs in the winter. That is, it is not only a feast dedicated to domesticity, but it is one deliberately placed under the conditions in which it is most uncomfortable to rush about and most natural to stop at home. But under the complicated conditions of modern conventions and conveniences, there arises this more practical and much more unpleasant sort of paradox. People have to rush about for a few weeks, if it is only to stay at home for a few hours. Now the old and healthy idea of such winter festivals was this; that people being shut in and besieged by the weather were driven back on their own resources; or, in other words, had a chance of showing whether there was anything in them. It is not certain that the reputation of our most fashionable modern pleasure-seekers would survive the test. Some dreadful exposures would be made of some such brilliant society favourites, if they were cut off from the power of machinery and money. They are quite used to having everything done for them; and even when they go to the very latest American dances, it seems to be mostly the Negro musicians who dance. But anyhow, on the average of healthy humanity I believe the cutting off of all these mechanical connections would have a thoroughly enlivening and awakening effect. At present they are always accused of merely amusing themselves; but they are doing nothing so noble or worthy of their human dignity. Most of them by this time cannot amuse themselves; they are too used to being amused.

Christmas might be creative. We are told, even by those who praise it most, that it is chiefly valuable for keeping up ancient customs or old-fashioned games. It is indeed valuable for both those admirable purposes. But in the sense of which I am now speaking it might once more be possible to turn the truth the other way round. It is not so much old things as new things that a real Christmas might create. It might, for instance, create new games, if people were really driven to invent their own games. Most of the very old games began with the use of ordinary tools or furniture. So the very terms of tennis were founded on the framework of the old inn courtyard. So, it is said, the stumps in cricket were originally only the three legs of the milking-stool. Now we might invent new things of this kind, if we remembered who is the mother of invention. How pleasing it would be to start a game in which we scored so much for hitting the umbrella-stand or the dinner-wagon, or even the host and hostess; of course, with a missile of some soft material. Children who are lucky enough to be left alone in the nursery invent not only whole games, but whole dramas and life-stories of their own; they invent secret languages; they create imaginary families; they laboriously conduct family magazines. That is the sort of creative spirit that we want in the modern world; want both in the sense of desiring and in the sense of lacking it. If Christmas could become more domestic, instead of less, I believe there would be a vast increase in the real Christmas spirit; the spirit of the Child. But in indulging this dream we must once more invert the current convention into the form of a paradox. It is true in a sense that Christmas is the time at which the doors should be open. But I would have the doors shut at Christmas, or at least just before Christmas; and then the world shall see what we can do.

I cannot but remember, with something of a smile, that on an earlier and more controversial page of this book I have mentioned a lady who shuddered at the thought of the things perpetrated by my co-religionists behind closed doors. But my memory of it is mellowed by distance and the present subject, and I feel quite the reverse of controversial. I hope that lady, and all of her way of thinking, may also have the wisdom to close their doors; and discover that only when all the doors are closed the best thing will be found inside. If they are Puritans, whose religion is only based on the Bible, let it for once indeed be a Family Bible. If they are Pagans, who can accept nothing but the winter feast, let it at least be a family feast. The discordance or discomfort complained of by modern critics, in the family reunion, is not due to that mystical focal fire having been left burning, but to its having been left to go cold. It is because cold fragments of a once living thing are clumsily lumped together; it is no argument against making the thing alive. Christmas toys are incongruously dangled before heavy and heathen uncles who wish they were playing golf. But that does not alter the fact that they might become much brighter and more intelligent if they knew how to play with toys; and they are horrible bores about golf. Their dullness is only the last deadly product of the mechanical progress of organised and professional sports, in that rigid world of routine outside the home. When they were children, behind closed doors in the home, it is probable that nearly every one of them had day-dreams and unwritten dramas that belonged to them as much as Hamlet belonged to Shakespeare or Pickwick to Dickens. How much more thrilling it would be if Uncle Henry, instead of describing in detail all the strokes with which he ought to have got out of the bunker, were to say frankly that he had been on a voyage to the end of the world and had just caught the Great Sea-Serpent. How much more truly intellectual would be the conversation of Uncle William if, instead of telling us the point to which he had reduced his handicap, he could still say with conviction that he was King of the Kangaroo Islands, or Chief of the Rango Dango Redskins. These things, projected from within, were in almost all human spirits; and it is not normal that the inspiration of them should be so utterly crushed by the things without. Let it not be supposed for a moment that I also am among the tyrants of the earth, who would impose my own tastes, or force all the other children to play my own games. I have no disrespect for the game of golf; it is an admirable game. I have played it; or rather, I have played at it, which is generally regarded as the very opposite. By all means let the golfers golf and even the organisers organise, if their only conception of an organ is something like a barrel-organ. Let them play golf day after day; let them play golf for three hundred and sixty-four days, and nights as well, with balls dipped in luminous paint, to be pursued in the dark. But let there be one night when things grow luminous from within: and one day when men seek for all that is buried in themselves, and discover, where she is indeed hidden, behind locked gates and shuttered windows, and doors thrice barred and bolted, the spirit of liberty.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Bloggers Day Out

I was sent the following by email;

I would like to encourage all those who can and who often share their Catholic faith online to come along to this special day for those who use the new media (Blogging, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, comments pages, etc). It will be a great opportunity for those of us who normally only commune via the sometimes 'dark glass' of computer monitors to actually see each other 'face to face' (cf 1Cor 13:12).

The first Guild meeting was an extraordinary day in more ways than one. Not only was it one of the hottest October days on record, but all three sacred ministers at the High Mass were priest-bloggers - surely a first for the Catholic Church! It was also good to be at Fr Tim Finigan's parish, where we received a most generous and warm welcome.

During the day, Saturday 18 February, Fr Sam Medley SOLT (Medley Minute) will speak on "Blessed Bloggery", reflecting especially on blogging (or the new media) as a form of ecclesial communion. We will also be able to gather for Mass, celebrated by Fr Tim Finigan (Hermeneutic of Continuity), followed by Adoration and Benediction. Those who wish to may also avail themselves of Confession at this time.

All Catholics who make use of the new media are welcome to attend this day, especially those who comment online, have their own blog, have a Facebook page, and so on. For the past few years, Pope Benedict XVI has specifically encouraged Catholics to share their Christian faith online. He has also pointed out the challenges involved in communicating both the Gospel and our own personalities via the internet. This day at Blackfen, sponsored by the Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma, is a genuine attempt to respond to the Pope's invitation to use the new media as a tool for the New Evangelisation.

For directions to Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen, please visit the parish website. It is quite easy to get to from central London.

For those who are interested in coming along, please do so - the fact that you are reading this shows that you have an obvious interest in Catholicism online or Catholics on the internet.

I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible on the day!

Dylan Parry (A Reluctant Sinner)

Thursday, 16 February 2012

'Gay' Masses?

A Profile in Courage: Fr John F Harvey, OSFS. This one hour long programme will be on EWTN (Sky 589 or online) Thursday 16th February at 7pm. Learn about God's call to Fr Harvey, the founding director of the Catholic ministry, Courage, to aid persons with same-sex attraction through his Priestley ministry. As the arguments continue about the 'Gay' Masses in Soho this programme will be well worth watching.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

GK's Weekly, The Thing, Peace And The Papacy


THERE is a famous saying which to some has seemed lacking in reverence, though in fact it is a support of one important part of religion; "If God had not existed, it would have been necessary to invent Him." It is not at all unlike some of the daring questions with which St. Thomas Aquinas begins his great defence of the faith. Some of the modern critics of his faith, especially the Protestant critics of it, have fallen into an amusing error, chiefly through ignorance of Latin and of the old use of the word DIVUS, and have accused Catholics of describing the Pope as God. Catholics, I need not say, are about as likely to call the Pope God as to call a grasshopper the Pope. But there is a sense in which they do recognise an eternal correspondence between the position of the King of Kings in the universe and of his Viceroy in the world, like the correspondence between a real thing and its shadow; a similarity something like the damaged and defective similarity between God and the image of God. And among the coincidences of this comparison may be classed the case of this epigram. The world will more and more find itself in a position in which even politicians and practical men will find themselves saying, "If the Pope had not existed, it would be necessary to invent him."

It is not at all impossible that they may really try to invent him. The truth is that multitudes of them would already accept the Pope if he were not called the Pope. I firmly believe that it would be quite possible, in this and many other matters, to play a sort of pious practical joke on large numbers of heretics and heathens. I fancy it would be quite feasible to describe in accurate but abstract terms the general idea of an office or obligation, which would exactly correspond to the position of the Papacy in history, and which would be accepted on ethical and social ground by numbers of Protestants and free-thinkers; until they discovered with a reaction of rage and astonishment that they had been entrapped into accepting the international arbitration of the Pope. Suppose somebody were to advance the old idea as if it were a new idea; suppose he were to say; "I propose that there be erected in some central city in the more civilised part of our civilisation the seat of a permanent official to represent peace and the basis of agreement among all the surrounding nations; let him be by the nature of his post set apart from them all and yet sworn to consider the rights and wrongs of all; Let him be put there as a judge to expound an ethical law and system of social relations; let him be of a certain type and training different from that which encourages the ordinary ambitions of military glory or even the ordinary attachments of tribal tradition; let him be protected by a special sentiment from the pressure of kings and princes; let him be sworn in a special manner to the consideration of men as men." There are not a few already, and there will soon be many more, who would be perfectly capable of proposing such an ideal international institution on their own account; there are also many who would really, in their innocence, suppose that it had never been attempted before.

It is true that as yet large numbers of such social reformers would shrink from the idea of the institution being an individual. But even that prejudice is weakening under the wear and tear of real political experience. We may be attached, as many of us are, to the democratic ideal; but most of us have already realised that direct democracy, the only true democracy which satisfies a true democrat, is a thing applicable to some things and not others; and not applicable at all to a question such as this. The actual speaking voice of a vast international civilisation, or of a vast international religion, will not in any case be the actual articulate distinguishable voices or cries of all the millions of the faithful. It is not the people who would be the heirs of a dethroned Pope; it is some synod or bench of bishops. It is not an alternative between monarchy and democracy, but an alternative between monarchy and oligarchy. And, being myself one of the democratic idealists, I have not the faintest hesitation in my choice between the two latter forms of privilege. A monarch is a man; but an oligarchy is not men; it is a few men forming a group small enough to be insolent and large enough to be irresponsible. A man in the position of a Pope, unless he is literally mad, must be responsible. But aristocrats can always throw the responsibility on each other; and yet create a common and corporate society from which is shut out the very vision of the rest of the world. These are conclusions to which many people in the world are coming; and many who would still be much astonished and horrified to find where those conclusions lead. But the point here is that even if our civilisation does not rediscover the need of a Papacy, it is extremely likely that sooner or later it will try to supply the need of something like a Papacy; even if it tries to do it on its own account. That will be indeed an ironical situation. The modern world will have set up a new Anti-Pope, even if, as in Monsignor Benson's romance, the Anti-Pope has rather the character of an Antichrist.

The point is that men will attempt to put some sort of moral power out of the reach of material powers. It is the weakness of many worthy and well-meaning attempts at international justice just now, that the international council can hardly help being merely a microcosm or model of the world outside it, with all its little things and big things, including the things that are much too big. Suppose that in the international interchanges of the future some power, say Sweden, is felt to be disproportionate or problematical. If Sweden is powerful in Europe, she will be powerful in the council of Europe. If Sweden is too powerful in Europe, she will be too powerful in the council of Europe. And because she is the very thing that is irresistible, she is the very thing to be resisted; or at any rate to be restrained. I do not see how Europe can ever escape from that logical dilemma, except by discovering again an authority that is purely moral and is the recognised custodian of a morality. It may very reasonably be said that even those dedicated to that duty may not always practise what they profess. But the other rulers of the world are not even bound to profess it.

Again and again in history, especially in mediaeval history, the Papacy has intervened in the interests of peace and humanity; just as the greatest saints have thrown themselves between the swords and daggers of contending factions. But if there had been no Papacy and no saints and no Catholic Church at all, the world left to itself would certainly not have substituted social abstractions for theological creeds. As a whole, humanity has been far from humanitarian. If the world had been left to itself, let us say in the age of feudalism, all the decisions would have been rigidly and ruthlessly on the lines of feudalism. There was only one institution in that world that had existed before feudalism. There was only one institution which could possibly carry on some faint memory of the Republic and the Roman Law. If the world had been left to itself in the time of the Renaissance and the Italian statecraft of the Prince, it would have been arranged entirely in the current fashion of the glorification of princes. There was only one institution that could at any moment be moved to repeat, "Put not your trust in princes." Had it been absent, the only result would have been that the famous settlement of CUJUS REGIO EJUS RELIGIO would have been all REGIO with precious little RELIGIO. And so, of course, our own day has its unconscious dogmas and its universal prejudices; and it needs a special, a sacred and what seems to many an inhuman separation to stand above them or to see beyond.

I know that this ideal has been abused like any other; I only say that even those who most denounce the reality will probably begin again to search for the ideal. But I do not, in fact, propose that any such spiritual tribunal should act like a legal tribunal or be given powers of practical interference with normal and national government. I am quite sure, for one thing, that it would never accept any such material entanglement. Nor do I, for that matter, desire that any of the secular tribunals now set up in the interests of international peace should thus have the power to interfere with nationality and local liberty. I would much rather give such power to a pope than to politicians and diplomatists of the sort to whom the world is giving it. But I do not want to give it to anybody and the authority in question does not want to accept it from anybody. The thing of which I speak is purely moral and cannot exist without a certain moral loyalty; it is a thing of atmosphere and even in a sense of affection. There is no space to describe here the manner in which such a general popular attachment grows up; but there is no doubt whatever that it did once grow up round such a religious centre of our civilisation; and that it is not likely to grow up again except for something which aims at a higher standard of humility and charity than the ordinary standard of the world. Men cannot have an affection for other people's emperors, or even for other people's politicians; they have sometimes been known to cool in affection even for their own politicians. I see no prospect of any such positive nucleus of amity except in some positive enthusiasm for something that moves the deepest parts of man's moral nature; something which can unite us not (as the prigs say) by being entirely international, but by being universally human. Men cannot agree about nothing any more than they can disagree about nothing. And anything wide enough to make such an agreement must itself be wider than the world.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

But For GK Chesterton, We'd Not Have Benedict XVI

I found this interview on Zenit, and thought it interesting. To sum it up; The Holy Father read Chesterton in his youth, The Holy Father is like Chesterton; this is because he read Chesterton, therefore he is Pope because of Chesterton, simple! Oh, and GK Chesterton is a Saint, or at least I think so.

By Paul De Maeyer

ROME, FEB. 7, 2012 ( G.K. Chesterton and Benedict XVI have plenty in common, according to a professor of literature and Catholicism from the Pontifical Lateran University.

Andrea Monda will defend this perspective Saturday in Genoa at a conference titled "Common Sense Day. The Paradoxical Beauty of the Everyday. A Day for G.K. Chesterton."

Monda is set to close the event -- dedicated entirely to the English writer and thinker -- with a talk on "Good Sense, Good Life and Good Humor: G.K. Chesterton and Benedict XVI."

In the course of his presentation, Professor Monda will provide some excerpts from his next book, on the "Simple Virtues of Joseph Ratzinger," offering a "Chestertonian" reading of Benedict XVI's pontificate (
Lindau Publishing House). The book is due out next month.

ZENIT spoke with the professor about his vision of the author and the Pontiff.

ZENIT: What relationship is there between Chesterton and Joseph Ratzinger?

Monda: Young Joseph Ratzinger read and appreciated several of Chesterton's books; in fact, here and there, whether before or after the papal election, direct or indirect quotations emerge of the work of the inventor of Father Brown. However, what I tried to do in the book, and what I will do in Genoa, is not so much a philological reconstruction of these quotations, but a little reasoning that develops from the two figures of the English thinker and the Bavarian theologian and Pontiff, on subjects which cut across the positions at the center of the attention of the congress' organizers: good sense, good life and good humor.

ZENIT: In the collective and media imagination, Pope Benedict XVI is not associated with humor, is this true?

Monda: The truth is that Ratzinger, just as every man, is a mystery, a complex reality often poorly rendered by the image that prevails in the mass media; it is from here that the need arose in me to write a book that gives greater weight and perspective to a picture that is otherwise trite, two-dimensional: the Pope of "no's," the German Pope staunch defender of the rigor of the moral norm. What is true in all of this is that Joseph Ratzinger is a serious person. However, be careful, says Chesterton, when he recalls, with his typical liking of paradoxes, that "serious is not the opposite of amusing, the opposite of amusing is not amusing, boring." Hence the Pope is a serious person, who takes seriously the Gospel and every man he meets, a serious person and, hence, also amusing, who knows the value of good humor, of humor and of smiling.

ZENIT: Is this liking for paradox the point of contact between Chesterton and Benedict XVI?

Monda: Yes and no. Certainly yes: being two persons of great acumen and intelligence, their reasoning is not trite but sparkling, at times unsettling, which also calls for flexibility in the intelligence of the interlocutor. In other words, they require appropriate interlocutors, equal to them. At the same time, Chesterton and the Pope are not two intellectuals merely content to give us paradoxical phrases, wit and puns. Their reasoning is ordered to create a dialogue, it is not fireworks but the desire to have a relationship with the other (even with the one who is distant, who does not believe, who is an "enemy" of the faith) without betraying adherence to their faith which, first of all, is lived, practiced and then preached.

ZENIT: What is the relationship between the two and good sense, good life and good humor?

Monda: This is what I will talk about at Genoa's congress. Connected between them are the three aspects and in all three one can almost see a similar behavior in the writer and the Pontiff. In regard to good sense: for Chesterton it is verifiable in children's fables whose "morals" are still valid today and he gives the example of Cinderella, which has the same meaning of the Magnificat of Luke's Gospel: "He has exalted the lowly." The English writer goes against the current in regard to modern and contemporary Western tendencies, which are maybe nice and respectable, which consider good sense as the overcoming of the world of childhood, full of unreal pleasant fantasies, to enter into the world of reason and hopefully of experimental science, seen as the only source of truth (but, unfortunately, not of meaning). Pope Ratzinger also goes against the current: for him good sense is what emerges from the Gospel and from the Christian faith and, also, in the paradox of giving one's life out of love. All this seems like a discordant voice, because the "tune" of modernity and of today's world has relegated Christianity to the same room of children's fables, an old and dusty place in which perhaps it was pleasing to be during childhood, but all together superfluous when one attains maturity and autonomy. In this connection, religion seems like an old superstition, an oppressive framework that constrains the free development of the mature, adult and emancipated person.

ZENIT: And in regard to the good life?

Monda: The above-mentioned depiction of Pope Ratzinger presents him as a sullen custodian of the truth, it portrays him as obsessed with the truth, as someone who uses truth as a club against freedom. Instead, the dialectical relation that is at the heart of the Pope is not that of truth/falsehood but that of joy/boredom. For Benedict XVI the good life, here as well, as in the case of good sense, is that which flows from adherence to the Gospel. And the same can be said of Chesterton. In both cases, the life that flows is thus "good," but it is not in fact tranquil but rather something like a battle. The good life is the profound desire that animates and stirs the heart of every man." "No matter what type of man he is," writes Chesterton, "he is not sufficient unto himself, whether in peace or in suffering. The whole movement of life is that of a man who seeks to reach some place and who fights against something." The Pope echoes him when he recalls that "only the infinite fills man's heart," to live well does not mean to be a "respectable" person, but it means to take up and receive life as an adventure. The good life is not an easy compromise, it is not to have found the formula to have everything at the same time in Western man's day, busy and marked by activism. No, the good life is to surrender to Christ, sign of contradiction. Born from this surrender is the life of faith as an adventure, as an encounter not with an idea, an ideological formula (which would be pure idolatry, state-latria or ego-latria in the end little changes) but an encounter with a person. Only an encounter with someone greater can make many happy.

ZENIT: In short, good humor, perhaps the humor of the Englishman Chesterton is the same as the German Pope's?

Monda: Yes, from a certain point of view, because in both cases humor thrusts its roots in humility. Is it not the case that also at the etymological level the two words are born from humus, earth? He is well-grounded, who does not raise himself in pride, at the same time is gifted with humor, because he knows irony and self-irony, because he perceives, perhaps in a confused way, that a larger world exists beyond his own "I" and, beyond this world, Someone who is still greater. From this point of view, the modern world offers disturbing signs because there is no longer good humor but anger, there is no irony but sarcasm, there is no sentiment but resentment. However, a society that loses the sense of humor, recalled Maritain, is preparing for its funeral.

In different times and ways, Chesterton and Ratzinger cry out however against this madness that envelops the life of Western men and remind all that there is a possibility for joy, not for pleasure, which is always less than man and under his control, but for joy, which is always a great mystery. Joy, Chesterton wrote in the last page of his masterpiece Orthodoxy: "is the gigantic secret of Christianity." And it is also the secret of Benedict XVI who, with his timid and awkward but firm and patient smile, with the strength of an ordered, clear, honest, quiet intelligence, and with the energy of a faith lived without frills with the abandon of a child, challenges every day the temptations of men, his contemporaries, towards laziness and short cuts, towards ideologies and idolatries which are always renewed in a heart that lives in bad humor and resentment. From this point of view Benedict XVI can be described as the Pope of joy, perhaps the most recurrent word in his addresses since he was elected, because, as he said in the recent book-interview Light of the World; "All my life has been suffused by a guiding thread: Christianity gives joy, it widens the horizons." Here, in one phrase is the whole of Ratzinger and, if we think correctly, the whole of Chesterton. Faith, joy, reason. Good sense, good life, good humor.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Know Anyone From Stirling? That's In Scotland.

Stirling Chesterton Society


We meet on the last Thursday of each month in the Library Bar of the Golden Lion Hotel, 8-10 King Street, Stirling, FK8 1BD, from 7.30pm.

We hope to revive an interest in the most unjustly neglected writer of the early 20th century. His works range from philosophy and religion to detective fiction, featuring the famous Father Brown.

Do his ideas about Distributism seem more timely than ever in the 21st century?

Chesterton was a convivial writer best enjoyed in Symposium.

Please bring a couple of your favourite quotes, as well as an amusing Chesterton short story.

Or just come along.

I found this here, thanks to @AmChestertonSoc on Twitter.

Monday, 6 February 2012

What To Eat On One's Wedding Anniversary

When one's anniversary is on The Feast of Candlemas, the last day of Christmas, we know which cake to eat! Then say a few prayers while taking down the Crib.

But then what about Breakfast (a good Catholic word)? Bacon, Black Pudding, but then Duck Eggs or Quail Eggs? Duck for my wonderful Wife, Quail for me.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

GK's Weekly, The Thing, If They Had Believed


ONE of the things our enemies do not know is the real case for their own side. It is always for me a great matter of pride that the proudest, the most genuine and the most unanswerable boast, that the Protestants of England could ever make, was made for them by a Catholic. Very few of the Protestants, of his time at any rate, would have had the historical enlargement or enlightenment to make it. For it was said by Newman, when that great master of English was surveying the glorious triumphs of our tongue from Bacon and Milton, to Swift and Burke, and he reminded us firmly that, though we convert England to the true faith a thousand times over, "English literature will always HAVE BEEN Protestant."

That generous piece of candour might well be represented as even too generous; but I think it is very wise for us to be too generous. It is not entirely, or at least not exclusively true. The name of Chaucer is alone enough to show that English literature was English a long time before it was Protestant. Even a Protestant, if he were also English, could ask for nobody more entirely English than Chaucer. He was, in the essential national temper, very much more English than Milton. As a matter of fact, the argument is no stronger for Chaucer than it is for Shakespeare. But in the case of Shakespeare the argument is long and complicated, as conducted by partisans; though sufficiently simple and direct for people with a sense of reality. I believe that recent discoveries, as recorded in a book by a French lady, have very strongly confirmed the theory that Shakespeare died a Catholic. But I need no books and no discoveries to prove to me that he had lived a Catholic, or more probably, like the rest of us, tried unsuccessfully to live a Catholic; that he thought like a Catholic and felt like a Catholic and saw every question as a Catholic sees it. The proofs of this would be matter for a separate essay; if indeed so practical an impression can be proved at all. It is quite self-evident to me that he was a certain real and recognisable Renaissance type of Catholic; like Cervantes; like Ronsard. But if I were asked offhand for a short explanation, I could only say that I know he was a Catholic from the passages which are now used to prove he was an agnostic.

But that is another and much more subtle question, which is not the question I proposed to myself in starting this essay. In starting it, I proposed to grant the whole sound and solid truth of Newman's admission; that there has indeed arisen out of the disunion of Europe a great and glorious English Protestant literature; and to make some further speculations upon the point. And I think that nothing could make clearer to the modern English, the one supreme thing that they don't know (which is what our
religion really is and why we think it real) than to put this rather interesting historical question. What difference would it have made to the great masters of English literature, if they had been Catholics?

Of course, the question cannot be strictly and scientifically answered; because nobody knows what difference would be made to anybody by any change in the circumstances of his life. But taking the matter broadly, as a question of ideas or even of doctrines it is worth asking as a matter of religious history. How far did the great Protestant writers depend on Protestantism?

I have no intention of discussing it adequately here; and indeed this is not so much an essay as an essay to suggest an essay. It is, in fact, a delicate indication, to people more learned than myself, that I am in possession of a very good title and subject for an essay. But at least it will be safe to say that the common or conventional impression among English people on this point is wildly wrong. It is wrong because it imagines that purely Protestant ideas were in some vague way the same as liberal and emancipated ideas. And it is wrong in a more special sense, because it is founded on the utterly false history, which supposes that the Renaissance was the same as the Reformation. It would be very difficult to say what English literature owes to the Reformation as distinct from the Renaissance. There is the splendid sincerity that inspired the plain English of Bunyan; but even Bunyan was a sort of exception that proved the rule. He was a Puritan; but he was emphatically not a Puritan of the Puritans. He was a man actually suspected by his fellow Puritans, because he was not so much a Puritan as a Christian. It was remarked at the time, and it has often been remarked since, that his theory is not very sectarian by the standard of seventeenth century sects. Among the Calvinists he was so much of a moderate, that thousands must have read his great book without thinking about Calvinism at all. And if we take the great scenes in his great book, the battle with Apollyon, the Mission of Greatheart, the death of Valiant-for-the-Truth, when all the trumpets sounded on the other side--there is really no reason whatever why they should not have been written by a Catholic. I do not affirm that they WOULD have been written by a Catholic, if the course of history had left the common people Catholics; for that is a question which nobody can possibly answer one way or the other. But I am speaking strictly of doctrines in their relation to ideas and images; and there is no possible reason why a Catholic should be prevented by his Catholicism from writing such a story of the pilgrimage of Man and the fight to attain to God.

Milton in one way is an even stronger case; since he had much more in him of Shakespeare and the Catholic Renaissance. And I really cannot think of any deep difference that it would have made to his poetry, as poetry, if he had followed other members of his family in the old faith; I do not see that he need have been much altered, except possibly by being a much jollier man. Many will not realise this, because they insist on regarding artistic and intellectual freedom as something that was closed to the Catholic countries and open only to the Protestant. But all history is in flat contradiction to this view. The tide of culture in the seventeenth century flowed from France to England, not from England to France. Milton might have been as central as Moliere and still remained a Catholic man in a Catholic atmosphere. Descartes the Catholic was more truly than Bacon the Protestant, the PHILOSOPHER of rationalist science. The experiments, the new forms, the great names in criticism and philosophy, appeared during the last two or three centuries quite as much in the Catholic countries as in the Protestant, if not rather more. England could have produced a great English literature, as France produced a great French literature, without any change in the ancient European religion.

The real test case, to be considered in some such essay, would be a case like that of Cowper. There you do most emphatically have the Protestant theology; and there you do most emphatically have the English poetry. But the two have precious little to do with each other; until the coming of that dark hour when the theology destroyed the poetry. Poor Cowper's Calvinism drove him mad; and only his poetry managed for some time to keep him sane. But there was nothing whatever either in the poetry or the sanity that could have prevented him from being a Catholic. On the contrary, he was exactly the sort of man who would have been very happy as a Catholic. He was the sort of man to have been devoted to the memory of St. Francis, if he had ever heard of him; and there was nothing to prevent the one any more than the other from keeping pet birds or stroking wild hares out of the woods. It was the brutal blow of Calvin, two centuries before, that broke the heart of that natural saint; and it is not the least of his crimes.

After the time of Cowper, there does indeed begin to appear another type of difficulty; but it is not the presence but rather the absence of Protestant theology. There were elements even in Burns and Byron, there were still more elements in Shelley and Swinburne, which would doubtless have been at issue with their Catholic tradition, if they had had it. But it would not have been a revolt against Catholicism half so much as it was a revolt against Protestantism. In so far as they tended to mere scepticism, they could have found their way to it more quickly from reading Rabelais and Montaigne in a Catholic country than from reading Shakespeare and Milton in a Protestant one. As soon as the Revolution has begun, in a sense as soon as the Romantic Movement has begun, the positive Puritan theology is left behind even more completely than the mediaeval theology. Indeed the Romantics did develop a faint and hazy sympathy, if not with mediaeval theology, at least with mediaeval religion. It is true that Byron or Hugo probably preferred an abbey to be a ruined abbey; but they would not have visited a Baptist chapel even for the pleasure of seeing it ruined. It is true that Scott advised us to see mediaeval Melrose by moonlight; with the delicate implication that the mediaeval religion was moonshine. But he would not in any case have wanted to see Exeter Hall by gaslight; and he would have thought its theology not moonshine but gas. The tributes which he occasionally forces himself to make to the official Puritanism of his own country are, it will be generally agreed, the most sullen and insincere words to be found in his works. On the negative side, therefore, the conclusion is altogether negative. It is very difficult to find, at least after the doubtful case of Bunyan and the deadly case of Cowper, anything that can be called a purely literary inspiration coming from the purely Protestant doctrines. There is plenty of inspiration coming more or less indirectly from Paganism; but after the first excitement, hardly any from Protestantism.

If this is true on the negative side, it is even truer on the positive side. I take it that the imaginative magnificence of Milton's epic, in such matters as the War in Heaven, would have been much more convincing, if it had been modelled more on the profound mediaeval mysteries about the nature of angels and archangels, and less on the merely fanciful Greek myths about giants and gods. PARADISE LOST is an immortal poem; but it has just failed to be an immortal religious poem. Those are most happy in reading Milton who can read him as they would read Hesiod. It is doubtful whether those seeking spiritual satisfaction now read him even as naturally as they would read Crashaw. I suppose nobody will dispute that the pageantry of Scott might have taken on a tenfold splendour if he could have understood the emblems of an everlasting faith as sympathetically as he did the emblems of a dead feudalism. For him it was the habit that made the monk; but the habit would have been quite as picturesque if there had been a real monk inside it; let alone a real mind inside the monk, like the mind of St. Dominic or St. Hugh of Lincoln. "English literature will always have been Protestant"; but it might have been Catholic; without ceasing to be English literature, and perhaps succeeding in producing a deeper literature and a happier England.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

I Thank God, That My Mother Did Not Abort Me

I once wanted to makes stickers that said this in a speech bubble, to stick on adverts on the Underground. Nick Cannon was asked after he made this video, if he was Pro-Life, he said he was just Pro-Nick! Today is my 11th Wedding Anniversary, so I also thank God for my beautiful Wife's Mam & Dad.

Strange, but if my Mother chose not to have me, then my son would not be here, all of my nieces and nephews would have missed out on such a great uncle!

It may be a bit long, but please use this; #IthankGodthatmymotherdidnotabortme on twitter on you Birthday, Anniversary or whenever!

Photo of my wonderful Wife & son, my eldest sister and our youngest nephew