Lost in the Desert

Faith Blog

Our Latest Blog Articles

alcheltron
  1. Flirting with Fideism

    "Each Chrisitan generation must undertake" “the synthetic passage through both Athens and Jerusalem."

    Read More
  2. The Trump Election and Freedom of Thought

    The Trump Election and Freedom of Thought
    In a recent “Points of View” episode on BBC Radio 4[1], the well-known philosopher, Professor Roger Scruton, gave a reasoned analysis of something that may explain the surprise election of Donald Trump in America and of the Brexit vote here in the UK. Although clearly not a supporter ...
    Read More
  3. Bishop Barron Misses the Impact of Modern Science

    Bishop Barron Misses the Impact of Modern Science
    On his blog and in a recent Catholic Herald piece (9.9.16) Bishop Robert Barron offers some excellent reflections upon a recent Pew survey looking at reasons why young people are leaving Christianity in droves. He well shows how Roman Catholic leaders and teachers are dangerously underestimating ...
    Read More
  4. Jeff Mirus illustrates the fulfillment of Holloway's 1950 prediction.

    Jeff Mirus illustrates the fulfillment of Holloway's 1950 prediction.
    Jeff Mirus writes here on modern murder mystery novels. He says “Unfortunately, I’ve run into a number of telling cultural trends in these stories which make it more difficult to relax and enjoy the solution to 'a good clean murder'". He well articulates the over represen...
    Read More
  5. Contextualising Brexit

    Contextualising Brexit
    On 23 June 2016 a referendum was held in which a narrow majority of voters in the United Kingdom (nearly 52%) voted in favour of leaving the European Union, the so-called “Brexit”. This contrasts with the large majority (67%) who had voted to join the then European Community in 1975. ...
    Read More
  6. A 1980 Post-mortem of a Rebirth

    A 1980 Post-mortem of a Rebirth
    Thirty odd years after this overview of twentieth century Catholic intellectual culture, the points of James Hitchcock seem even more relevant. Below are some extracts but the, significantly longer, full article repays study. [Post-mortem on a rebirth. The Catholic Intellectual Renaissance, from ...
    Read More
  7. 'Desire Trumping Ideas': A Too Simple Diagnosis

    'Desire Trumping Ideas': A Too Simple Diagnosis
    The great analyser of relativist culture, Jeff Mirus, seems to have downplayed a bit too much the role of the intellectual. In part of his insightful series on “gender” ideology he argues: (our comments in blue).Modern Western culture is weakened by a great vacuum of systematic though...
    Read More
  8. Refounding Human Dignity

    Refounding Human Dignity
    A Guardian editorial in May described the decline in numbers and influence of Christianity and affirms that Christianity gave us “the idea that people have some rights just because they are human, and entirely irrespective of merit, [it] certainly isn’t derived from observat...
    Read More
  9. Experimental Success contra Aristotelean Natures

    Experimental Success contra Aristotelean Natures
    Mgr Charles Pope recently turned his deft blogging hand to a subject close to our heart. Pulling up Roots from Reality – A Review of a Cogent Analysis of the Post-Cartesian West.Like Fr Edward Holloway and others he acknowledges that a key moment in the rise of relativism was René De...
    Read More
  10. The Benedict Centre and Public Life

    The Benedict Centre and Public Life
    On 6th May, the Catholic Herald published a news article by Dan Hitchens entitled:“St Mary’s University launches Benedict XVI Centre to ‘play a key role in public life’”The centre is a good fruit of Pope Benedict’s visit to Britain in 2010, when he ca...
    Read More
  11. The Rights Juggernaut and the Weakest of the Weak.

    The Rights Juggernaut and the Weakest of the Weak.
    Comments to blog@faith.org.uk (which will be moderated) or twitter to @faithmovukIt is always worth keeping in mind that it is the little ones who must first pay the price of the cultural rejection of ‘human nature’. An item in last Sunday’s “Sunday programme” illust...
    Read More
  12. Meeting the Modern Mindset.

    Meeting the Modern Mindset.
    Here’s a powerful three minutes showing where the denial of “the nature of things” has got us.This further illustrates the deep infiltration of the philosophical position of ‘swing vote’ Justice Kennedy, which we recently blogged about: "the constitution &hellip...
    Read More
  13. BBC allows Lemaitre to witness to harmony of Faith and Reason

    BBC allows Lemaitre to witness to harmony of Faith and Reason
    The BBC recently produced an excellent two-part programme concerning the beginning and end of the universe (available until 28th April). The presenter, Prof. Jim Al-Khalili, is a regular presenter of “The Life Scientific” on Radio 4 and has presented several television series on scien...
    Read More
  14. Tony Blair Moves Towards Pope Benedict

    Tony Blair Moves Towards Pope Benedict
    Comments to blog@faith.org.uk (which will be moderated) or twitter to @faithmovuk1. “Theology must become part of the solution if it is not to remain at the heart of the problem”. This is a key theme of Rabbi Sacks’ recent book “Not in God’s Name”  concern...
    Read More
  15. Which comes first in Kerygmatic Catechesis: Sin or Christ?

    Which comes first in Kerygmatic Catechesis: Sin or Christ?
    The indefatigably insightful Msgr Charles Pope has recently plotted a helpful way forward for kerygmatic catechesis. Yet his content starts with, “Part 1 (Sept. to Jan.) – Sin – ‘I once was lost in sin’”A Mr Miller puts an attractive alternative ...
    Read More
  16. 5 Similar Diagnoses of Marriage Redefinition

    5 Similar Diagnoses of Marriage Redefinition
    1. The US Supreme Court’s “swing vote” Justice Kennedy gives a clue to the philosophy sweeping through our culture (not least through his actual votes). He builds his moral judgments upon the absence of a concept of human nature.In a March 4th Catholic Herald article, “The...
    Read More
  17. Priestly loving: The BBC versus St John Paul II

    Priestly loving: The BBC versus St John Paul II
    In the November 2008 FAITH magazine Fr William Massie, reflects upon Edward Holloway’s pamphlet, “The Priest and His Loving”. A prophetic 1974 foundation of this pamphlet is in the current magazine. Fr Massie quoted this St John Paul II imperative to priests:be a witness to Chri...
    Read More
  18. Towards Diagnosis: Two more pieces on the pre-Vatican II era.

    Towards Diagnosis: Two more pieces on the pre-Vatican II era.
    In support of seeing a lack of appropriate theological development before the 1960s (see previous post) is a piece by Jeff Mirus. He concludes:“Too often Catholics prefer[ed] to condemn rather than to engage the rapidly secularizing society … When the culture shifted, their...
    Read More
  19. To What Degree Did The Pre-Vatican II Church ‘Cause’ The Decline Of It's Influence?

    To What Degree Did The Pre-Vatican II Church ‘Cause’ The Decline Of It's Influence?
    In an earlier blog post we flagged up a recent Catholic Herald piece showing the need for a diagnosis of how classical Christianity came to drop the reins of cultural influence. http://tinyurl.com/nrk454mThe Winter 2013 “Mass of Ages” provides another piece of evidence. The Latin Mass...
    Read More
  20. Mediating between the New Atheists and the new apologists

    Mediating between the New Atheists and the new apologists
    Comments to blog@faith.org.uk (which will be moderated) or twitter to @faithmovukProfessor Tom McLeish of Durham University recently made a common Christian reply to the New Atheist claim that science and faith are opposed. On Radio Ulster he affirmed that science “uses our capacity for fai...
    Read More
  21. The Magi: not just a story.

    The Magi: not just a story.
    Available for the next few weeks, BBC iPlayer has an interesting exploration of astronomical possibilities for the Star of Bethlehem (though beware a juvenile short section from The Life of Brian, and a lazy equivalence of pre-modern science astrology and “devout Christianity&rdqu...
    Read More
  22. Civil Law and the Homosexual Person

    Civil Law and the Homosexual Person
    Mark Lowery FAITH Magazine July-August 2002“You Can’t Legislate Morality?”Why can’t you just let us do what we want to do?” “How does this harm you?” “Don’t impose your morality on us!” “If you don’t like this,...
    Read More
  23. FAQ: Why is the Church so homophobic? If two people love each other, shouldn't they be allowed to get married, regardless of their sex?

    FAQ: Why is the Church so homophobic? If two people love each other, shouldn't they be allowed to get married, regardless of their sex?
    The Catholic Church promotes the dignity and welfare of every human individual regardless of whom they are sexually attracted to. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that those with homosexual tendencies must “be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity” (2358) and &...
    Read More
  24. Hard Questions - a new series of talks in London

    Hard Questions - a new series of talks in London
    "Hard Questions" is a new series of talks that will take place in Central London and is run by Faith Movement to which all are welcome. The talks will take place on selected Tuesdays at 7:30pm.God and Our Environment29 September 2015 Is man an ape or an angel? Fr Roger Nesbitt...
    Read More
  25. In Defence of Frequent Communion

    In Defence of Frequent Communion
    Check out the this Editorial addressing the issue of the reception of Holy Communion and the value of regularly receiving the body and blood of the Lord for the sanctification of the faithful. ...
    Read More
  26. Three excellent resources & two caveats

    Three excellent resources & two caveats
    Fr Barron’s “Catholicism”:  catholicism.wordonfire.org/Portsmouth Diocese's new Confirmation programme:  www.transformedinchrist.com/session1/Westminster Diocese’s brand new singing and dancing youth page, where the CTS has provided the “Catholicism&rdq...
    Read More
  27. The Need for Diagnosis

    The Need for Diagnosis
    Stephen Bullivant says in this recently published piece:“Just think at your next Easter Vigil, for every new person coming through the RCIA – over whom we are right to rejoice – 10 people have drifted so far away that they no longer tick the “Catholic” box on surveys...
    Read More
  28. ARCHIVE: Saint Philip Neri - A Guide to Chastity

    ARCHIVE: Saint Philip Neri - A Guide to Chastity
    Richard Whinder FAITH Magazine July-Aug 2007St Philip Neri, (1515-1595) founder of the Congregation of the Oratory, and often called the ‘Second Apostle of Rome’, has many titles attributed to him. Two of these – ‘Flower of Purity’ and ‘Gentle Guide of You...
    Read More
  29. In a hurry? More than you realise!

    In a hurry? More than you realise!
    It’s tempting to think the universe is rather static. So thanks to Msgr Charles Pope http://tiny.cc/8deiux for the following information:At the latitude of Washington D.C., the Earth is rotating at about 750 miles an hour. [401c.html">1]The rotating Earth is also revolving around the Sun at ...
    Read More
  30. Our Lady In The Teaching of Pope Benedict XVI

    Our Lady In The Teaching of Pope Benedict XVI
    Check out one of the new articles in the January - February edition of FAITH Magazine on Our Lady In The Teaching of Pope Benedict XVI. You can subscribe to FAITH Magazine here. ...
    Read More
  31. New Series Of Talks In Glasgow!

    New Series Of Talks In Glasgow!
    The Glasgow Faith Forum has just announced a new series of talks which will take place on Thursday evenings over the next few months. All talks are followed by questions, refreshments and Night Prayer and aimed at young people aged between 16 and 25. Get more information at the Glasgow Faith Foru...
    Read More
  32. New Year Series of London talks!

    New Year Series of London talks!
    The London Faith Forum is back with another series of talks which take place on alternate Tuesday evenings in January, February and March. The series, entitled The Church and Other Beliefs, features a host of good speakers addressing important questions concerning the nature of the Church and its...
    Read More
  33. Great Start to Faith Winter Session 2014!

    Great Start to Faith Winter Session 2014!
    Faith Winter Session 2014 began yesterday at Stonyhurst College, Lancashire with around 200 young Catholics from across the UK in attendance. Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury preached at Mass yesterday evening about St Thomas of Canterbury and how his yes to God should inspire young people to hav...
    Read More
  34. FAQ: Why did God wait for so long to come and help us?

    FAQ: Why did God wait for so long to come and help us?
    The time before God becoming man is the period in which He gradually comes closer to mankind, fostering the fullness of life, as well as healing from sin and its effects. The help of God has never been absent from human history, even from the time of humanity’s Fall. But it is true tha...
    Read More
  35. The Primacy of Christ in the Vision of Edward Holloway

    The Primacy of Christ in the Vision of Edward Holloway
    Fr. Michael John Galbraith. FAITH Magazine January-February 2006 The Unity of Truth In his Encyclical Fides et Ratio, Pope John Paul II reminded us that, “the unity of truth is a fundamental premise of human reasoning... Revelation renders this unity certain, showing tha...
    Read More
  36. FAQ: Why do Catholics have to go to Mass on Sunday? Why not Monday?

    FAQ: Why do Catholics have to go to Mass on Sunday? Why not Monday?
    In the Old Testament God commanded his people to keep holy the Sabbath. The Church, which is the new People of God, observes Sunday as the Sabbath in commemoration of the Resurrection of Christ which happened on a Sunday. We keep holy our Sabbath by attending Mass and in this way obeying Christ&r...
    Read More
  37. ARCHIVE: The Cardinal, the Pope & the Scientists

    ARCHIVE: The Cardinal, the Pope & the Scientists
    Editorial FAITH Magazine November-December 2005If they had the power to know so much that they could investigate the world, how did they fail to find sooner the Lord of these things? (Wisdom 13,9).Science And The Magisterium, A New ControversyHis Eminence Cardinal Schonborn managed to spark ...
    Read More
  38. ARCHIVE: Holiness is Fitting for your House, O Lord

    ARCHIVE: Holiness is Fitting for your House, O Lord
    Editorial FAITH Magazine September-October 2003“If anything constant remains in our days of recurring crisis, it is that the certainties have gone out of life, out of the life of the individual and out of the life of society.It is a heartbreaking realisation.The feeling of insecurity i...
    Read More
  39. FAQ: If disease & death are a result of Original Sin, then how come they affect organisms that cannot sin & predate the Fall?

    FAQ: If disease & death are a result of Original Sin, then how come they affect organisms that cannot sin & predate the Fall?
    Properly speaking, it is human suffering and death which are a result of the Fall, not disease and death in the purely material creation. Clearly, if God gave humans and animals the plants for food (Gen 1:29-30), then He envisaged that plants would die before the Fall. And presuming that we are n...
    Read More
  40. ARCHIVE: The Crusades - Seeking the Truth

    ARCHIVE: The Crusades - Seeking the Truth
    Nicholas Schofield FAITH Magazine May-June 2006The crusades capture the imagination – but over the years they have done so in many different ways. Here are three modern examples:When I was a boy, I spent many a happy hour with my toy soldiers. I was particularly keen on playing ‘...
    Read More
  41. FAQ: How can God be loving when Abraham is tricked into thinking God wants him to kill his only child?

    FAQ: How can God be loving when Abraham is tricked into thinking God wants him to kill his only child?
    We must understand that what we read in the book of Genesis comes from a religion and culture which is at its early stages of growing into a relationship with God. What Genesis recounts can be difficult and confusing for us who have the benefit of having heard the message of Christ communicated t...
    Read More
  42. ARCHIVE: How are we to assess Islam?

    ARCHIVE: How are we to assess Islam?
    Edouard Harmouche FAITH Magazine September-October 2003Catholicism is still the largest religious group in the world with over a billion adherents. After that come somewhere in the region of 900 million Muslims, who currently form the fastest growing religious group on the planet. This is re...
    Read More
  43. CURRENT MAGAZINE: The Gospel & Cultures

    CURRENT MAGAZINE: The Gospel & Cultures
    Michael Nazir Ali FAITH MAGAZINE September-October 2014The last few weeks I have been closely engaged with the people and scholars of two ancient cultures – that of Egypt and of Mughal India. This has raised afresh for me the question about the relationship of the Gospel to culture.In ...
    Read More
  44. FAQ: What does the Pope do?

    FAQ: What does the Pope do?
    The Pope maintains the public unity of the Church. This unity in belief and witness is essential if Jesus’ role of humanly forming and feeding us with Himself is to be continued.The Apostle Peter was the first to be given this role, as is shown in Holy Scripture. The Pope is his “Succ...
    Read More
  45. ARCHIVE: The Spirit moves over the waters: renewing our vision of the Sacraments

    ARCHIVE: The Spirit moves over the waters: renewing our vision of the Sacraments
    Editorial FAITH Magazine September-October 2007 Why Sacraments?  This editorial article takes more the character of a sustained theological meditation than a topical or controversial ‘op-ed’ piece. There is good precedent for this approach in the magnificent editorials ...
    Read More
  46. London Evening of Faith Success!

    London Evening of Faith Success!
    The first of our Evenings of Faith kicked off this week on Tuesday evening with a talk on Original Sin by Mary Gray. The event was well attended by University students and workers in the city of London gathering to listen, ask questions and interact with one another over a glass of wine and pizza...
    Read More
  47. FAQ: If something good happens after someone prays, and the same thing happens to one who doesn't pray for it - how can you prove that the prayer was answered?

    FAQ: If something good happens after someone prays, and the same thing happens to one who doesn't pray for it - how can you prove that the prayer was answered?
    God is free to bestow gifts on people even if they don’t ask for them! Does a parent only provide good things for their children if they specifically ask? Moreover, God, who alone sees all things and what is necessary, treats us as the unique individuals He created us to be; not a ‘on...
    Read More
  48. ARCHIVE: A Time for Listening to the Ordinary Magisterium

    ARCHIVE: A Time for Listening to the Ordinary Magisterium
    Editorial FAITH Magazine July-August 2003The Swiss priest Hans Kung ranks among the most famous theologians of our times, and it is interesting to note that Prime Minister Tony Blair has met with him on a number of occasions and says he has been influenced by his thought. However it should b...
    Read More
  49. Glasgow Faith Forum gears up for Spring Session

    Glasgow Faith Forum gears up for Spring Session
      GLASGOW FAITH FORUM 2016a series of talks for young people aged 16–25 HERALDS OF THE NEW EVANGELISATION    THE BAPTISMAL CALL TO EVANGELISE 21 JanuaryPriest, prophet and king Father Peter Damian Grint   EVANGELISATION THEN 4 February Procl...
    Read More
  50. Why was the Crucifixion necessary? Could not God have saved us in a way less cruel?

    Why was the Crucifixion necessary? Could not God have saved us in a way less cruel?
    God is not responsible for the brutality of the crucifixion. On the contrary, the crucifixion is the result of human sinfulness. This is because human wickedness has real consequences, and therefore our redemption (i.e. how God saves us from our sins) is not just about God “turning a blind ...
    Read More
  51. ARCHIVE: A Short History of Science & Christianity

    ARCHIVE: A Short History of Science & Christianity
    Peter E Hodgson FAITH Magazine November-December 2008It is becoming increasingly recognised, at least within the Church, that science has developed only in the context of a Christian civilisation, and has deep Christian roots.If we consider the great civilisations of the past such as those o...
    Read More
  52. FAQ: If God is All-Good, why do bad things happen?

    FAQ: If God is All-Good, why do bad things happen?
    God has created different sorts of things. In particular He has created matter, which is simply controlled by His laws of nature (the laws we attempt to discover in the natural sciences). He has also created spiritual beings, angels and human souls, which have free will; they are also govern...
    Read More
  53. What has Ethiopia to Teach us?

    What has Ethiopia to Teach us?
    Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali FAITH MAGAZINE July-August 2014The introduction of Christianity to Ethiopia is charted in the Acts of the Apostles. The contemporary story of this ancient Christian church, though, has much to teach us, says Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali.The St Frumentius Lectures in Addi...
    Read More
  54. FAQ: What does being Confirmed mean?

    FAQ: What does being Confirmed mean?
    We are made members of the Body of Christ through receiving three sacraments - Baptism, Confirmation,  which we receive only once, and the Holy Eucharist which is Christ Himself. Confirmation completes and strengthens ('confirms') the spiritual “character” and belonging t...
    Read More
  55. New edition of Faith Magazine online!

    New edition of Faith Magazine online!
    The New July-August edition of Faith Magazine is now online. ...
    Read More
  56. New series of talks in London!

    New series of talks in London!
    All are welcome to our Autumn series of talks Jesus Christ and Human Love.The talks are a great opportunity to deepen your faith and to connect with other Catholics.Talks will take place on alternate Tuesday evenings at 19:30 from 23rd September in the Crypt of Our Lady of Assumption Catholi...
    Read More
  57. Summer Session Roundup Video!

    Summer Session Roundup Video!
    The Faith Summer Session 2014 was as good as any in recent memory, set in the beautiful grounds of Woldingham School in Surrey. The theme was especially relevent given contemporary challenges to family life and the upcoming Synod on that subject.Here our very own David Edwards provides a quick su...
    Read More
  58. ARCHIVE: Confusion over the Meanings of Marriage

    ARCHIVE: Confusion over the Meanings of Marriage
    Editorial FAITH Magazine March-April 2006The "Ends" of Marriage: An Unresolved TeachingThe old Code of Canon Law (1917) stated that “the primary end of marriage is the procreation and education of offspring; the secondary end is mutual love and support, and the remedying of c...
    Read More
  59. New photos from Faith Summer Session!

    New photos from Faith Summer Session!
    See more photos in the new album on our Facebook page and please like us too!   ...
    Read More
  60. Summer Session Success!

    Summer Session Success!
    The Faith Summer Session 2014 has just come to a close. Young people from across the UK and beyond gathered to hear talks on the topic of The Family In God's Plan and the Modern World. The Summer Session combines time for presentations on the faith, daily Mass, prayer and the opportunity for ...
    Read More
  61. Summer Session 2014 Update

    Summer Session 2014 Update
    See our new video update from the Faith Summer Session 2014. Sr Andrea Frailie describes what has been going on at the conference so far which is addressing the theme of The Family in God's Plan and The Modern World. She speaks about the presentation she gave to the conference on th...
    Read More
  62. Summer Session 2014 begins!

    Summer Session 2014 begins!
    Faith Summer Session 2014 has begun at Woldingham School, Surrey. The Conference is for those aged 16-35 and is addressing the theme "The Family in God's Plan and in the Modern World". The first speaker of the conference was Dr Stephen Dingley, tutor of Theology at St John's Sem...
    Read More
  63. FAQ: What is Papal Infallibility?

    FAQ: What is Papal Infallibility?
    Papal Infallibility refers to the fact that the Pope is divinely preserved from teaching error in his formal teaching on faith and morals. It flows from the divinity of Christ in the Church. God is infallible, and He has irrevocably entered the human realm by becoming man. The Church is the conti...
    Read More
  64. Why Do We Sin?

    Why Do We Sin?
    Having spiritual souls means that we have free will. We are not bound to do what is good for us by instinct. This also means that we can refuse to do what is good. God did not make us this way as some sort of test, but because he wanted us to be in his own image and likeness. God is Love and love...
    Read More
  65. FAQ: Why does matter need a cause?

    FAQ: Why does matter need a cause?
    It is part of our everyday experience that material things need causes. If you discovered an elephant in your sitting room, you would immediately ask yourself how it got to be there. You would not think, “Oh well, maybe it’s just here for no reason: elephants often just turn up like t...
    Read More
  66. Why The Church?

    Why The Church?
    Why The Church? Come and see our video....
    Read More
  67. FAQ: What about the Crusades?

    FAQ: What about the Crusades?
    Jesus is ‘the Prince of Peace’ (Is. 9:6). As St John Paul II said, war always represents a defeat for humanity. Yet the Church is realistic about the presence of sin in the world, including amongst her own members, which produces conflict. Thus, while individual Catholics may adopt a ...
    Read More
  68. FAQ: What Scientific Evidence is there of God's Existence?

    FAQ: What Scientific Evidence is there of God's Existence?
    Science is concerned with the material universe and its ‘law-like’ behaviour. Catholic Christians believe that God created the universe and continues to hold it in being, i.e. without God's existence the universe cannot exist, so we should expect an interweaving harmony between sc...
    Read More
  69. ARCHIVE: The Truth About Same-Sex Marriage

    ARCHIVE: The Truth About Same-Sex Marriage
    William E May FAITH Magazine September-October 2004The Gay Case: Need For An Intelligent AnswerAdvocates of same-sex marriage commonly assert that its opponents are intolerant bigots unjustly denying a fundamental human right to individuals attracted to persons of the same sex. They maintain...
    Read More
  70. YES!!!

    YES!!!
    It's been a long overdue face-lift and lots of people have worked very hard with patience and caffeine so thanks to all you guys who have contributed to this project. Thanks to all the volunteers who've lent a hand in the run-up to going live. To all of you reading for the first time, giv...
    Read More
  71. Come and See!

    Come and See!
    Have you heard of us but don't know what we do? Maybe this is the first time you've encountered us. Take a look at our new promotional video and come and see us. Consider booking on one of our youth conferences or attending one of our forums. Connect with us on Facebook or Googl...
    Read More
  72. FAQ: What do nuns do?

    FAQ: What do nuns do?
    Before considering what nuns do, it’s more appropriate to reflect on what nuns are: regardless of the congregation or religious institute to which she belongs, making Christ present in the world is the nun’s primary mission. She does this by conforming herself entirely to the Person o...
    Read More
  • Our Lady, Fatima and the Future

    Our Lady, Fatima and the Future

     

    Marian devotion is central to the Church, and to Catholic life and culture. Mary’s central role in God’s plan from “the beginning” places her at the core – literally at the heart– of the Church and the life journey of every Christian.

    Every era has seen additions to the great Marian shrines of the world, and also renewal of old ones. Today, Lourdes attracts millions of pilgrims annually – to our Medieval ancestors it was unknown. In England, Catholics of the Victorian era knew of Walsingham only as a shrine destroyed under Henry VIII – today it is a major part of Catholic life, renewed afresh in this 21st century having been revived in the early years of the 20th.

    In Mexico, where once a militantly anti-Catholic government sought to ban any public expression of the faith, some six million people visit the shrine of Guadalupe annually. In Poland, the shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa has remained at the core of national life for centuries, was central to the life and message of the nation’s most famous son St John Paul the Great, and is world famous.

    Fatima

     

    This month Pope Francis goes to Fatima.

    The village is named after the daughter of Mohammed, dating back to the days when Islam was a great force on the Iberian peninsula. But in the early years of the 20th century, Portugal, and all of Europe, had other worries. In 1917, Europe was at war on a scale unknown in previous history.

    When three children at Fatima reported a series of visions, they were interrogated and challenged by both the Church and the public authorities without much sympathy: they stuck resolutely to their accounts of what they had seen and heard. They claimed that Mary, in deep sorrow and with repeated solemnity, was calling for prayer and penance. She had spoken to them with great seriousness and the children never wavered in their accounts of what she said. The Church examined the visions and pronounced them worthy. The authenticity was in a sense somehow validated by the lives of the children themselves. From poor families, the children never beneited from the crowds who subsequently thronged the place, or from the attention they received and they went on to endure sufering and tragedy with touching courage. Two died in the worldwide epidemic that followed World War I. The survivor, Lucia, became a nun and the lone witness to what had occurred.

     

    Russia

     

    She sought to describe it all faithfully, and in 1941 the Church revealed a previously unpublished section: Mary had said that if people did not cease from sin, there would be a further war. By 1941 of course, this was already raging. Lucia also had written that Mary had asked that Russia be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart, and that people pray with renewed fervour, receiving Communion on ive consecutive First Saturdays. The warning was that Russia would “spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to sufer; various nations will be annihilated.”

    These words reverberated throughout the Church over the next decades: the Fatima vision became intensely bound up in the popular mind with Russia. It all itted together with the Cold War and the persecution of Christians in the USSR and Eastern Europe. Inevitably, it became mixed up in many minds with events in the world and in the Church: thus in the 1950s and 60s, rumours of a “Third Secret” of Fatima were assumed to be about a nuclear war and its ghastly aftermath, and then in the 1970s and 80s this switched to rumours of false Popes, establishment of a false religion worldwide...

    St John Paul

     

    But God is Lord of history, and visions and revelations are not horoscopes or fortune- telling. On the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, 13th May, 1981, John Paul II, the Polish Pope from a nation crushed by Russia, was shot in St Peter’s Square. The bullet struck him at point-blank range and should have killed him – as he was rushed to hospital he was heard praying “Mary, my mother...”. He had dedicated his pontiicate to Mary, taking the motto “Totus tuus” and having a large M on his coat-of-arms contrary to oicial heraldic rules. His survival from the assassination attempt was astonishing. The bullet was in due course placed in the crown of Our Lady’s statue at the shrine – where, extraordinarily, it itted perfectly.

    One year after the attempted assassination he went to Fatima to give thanks. Once again there was drama: a renegade priest from Archbishop Lefebvre’s Society of St Pius X stabbed the Pope, drawing blood before he was dragged away.

     

    That final secret

     

    In the Millenium Year 2000 the Church revealed the final parts of Sister Lucia’s accounts of what had occurred at Fatima in 1917. There had been much speculation about what had become known as the “Third Secret”. It turned out to be essentially a continuation of what had already been revealed – a plea for prayer and penance, but with an added series of images: a ruined city, a rugged Cross, a Pope shot at with arrows, bishops, clergy and faithful people martyred.

     

     

     

    Truth and hope

    Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was asked by the Pope to provide an analysis and commentary on this for the faithful.

    He noted that “Those who expected exciting apocalyptic revelations about the end of the world or the future course of history are bound to be disappointed. Fatima does not satisfy our curiosity in this way, just as Christian faith in general cannot be reduced to an object of mere curiosity. What remains was already evident when we began our reflections on the text of the ‘secret’: the exhortation to prayer as the path of ‘salvation for souls’ and, likewise, the summons to penance and conversion.”

    As an image of the martyred Church of the 20th century, the Fatima vision has bitter accuracy. But the essential message of Fatima includes a deep message of hope: “In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.” Cardinal Ratzinger spoke of this:

    “The iat of Mary, the word of her heart, has changed the history of the world, because it brought the Saviour into the world – because, thanks to her Yes, God could become man in our world and remains so for all time. The Evil One has power in this world, as we see and experience continually; he has power because our freedom continually lets itself be led away from God. But since God himself took a human heart and has thus steered human freedom towards what is good, the freedom to choose evil no longer has the last word. From that time forth, the word that prevails is this: “In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart; I have overcome the world” (Jn16:33). The message of Fatima invites us to trust in this promise.” (Ratzinger, Fatima 2000).

    Fatima 2017

     

    When Pope Francis goes to Fatima, there will be no shortage of discussion and analysis, and advice to him. Disappointed apocalyse-watchers have become a busy

     

    range of lobby groups, asserting that there was surely a more exciting secret that had been withheld, and that both Pope St John Paul and Pope Emeritus Benedict were part of a conspiracy and were effectively liars, dupes or possibly blackmailed. The lobby predictions often including fire and famine with  only their own followers rescued. Some had a  particular and curious hatred for St John Paul, announcing that there would be a Divine intervention to prevent his canonisation, only to fall into embarrassed silence when that prediction failed along with others.

    Pope St John Paul consecrated the world to Mary in 1984, and things did indeed change dramatically in Russia. The Soviet Union collapsed and a new chapter in Russia opened with an extraordinary movement towards Christianity. Conversion is always a work-in-progress. The Fatima vision announced no time-line on Russia’s spiritual journey, and doubtless it will have its halts and problems. The path is set: the conversion is happening.

    The message of the Fatima visions has too often been lost amid the conspiracy theories. These have included Pope Emeritus Benedict being held “in the Vatican, perhaps drugged” against his will, and a false Sister Lucia being produced for the cameras. There has been an insistence on “the real secret” being hidden in a Vatican cupboard, whispered messages conveyed in corridors, the dreadful truth known to just a few but definitely connected with dark plots and popes forced to lie. Faithful Catholics need to counter this rubbish with authentic Marian devotion and should quietly but firmly reject the conspiracy-theorists and their material

     

    What really matters

     

    In 2017 the Fatima message is what it has always been: prayer and penance, and an invitation to trust in God’s love and mercy – to respond with our hearts as Mary responded with hers. Perhaps its signiicance in the future may be for Moslem pilgrimages, attracted by the extraordinary link with the founder of their religion, open in new ways to the truth of Christ and the Church. Perhaps some day there will be Russian pilgrims, giving thanks and renewing with successive popes the consecration of  their  country.  Maybe  it  will  be a place where the Orthodox feel they can make their peace with the

    Catholic Church in a new way. As Christians, we must not seek to know the future or consult fortune-tellers or horoscopes – or try to turn Marian devotions into these.

    We can only know that what really matters is the theme of prayer and penance. As Pope Francis leads the Church on pilgrimage, we can unite our prayers with his, and with those of his saintly predecessor whose faith and courage were brought there with the bullet that almost killed him.

    And a message for the Church:

     

    In 1984 the then Cardinal Ratzinger gave an interview which drew worldwide attention when it was published as The Ratzinger Report. He made a number of important points about Mary.

    “With her destiny, which is at one and the same time that of Virgin and of Mother, Mary continues to project a light upon that which the Creator intended for women in every age, ours included, or, better said, perhaps precisely in our time, in which—as we know—the very essence of femininity is threatened. Through her virginity and her motherhood, the mystery of woman receives a very lofty destiny from which she cannot be torn away. Mary undauntedly proclaims the Magniicat, but she is also the one who renders silence and seclusion fruitful. She is the one who does not fear to stand under the Cross, who is present at the birth of the Church. But she is also the one who, as the evangelist emphasizes more than once, ‘keeps and ponders in her heart’ that which transpires around her. As a creature of courage and of obedience she was and is still an example to which every Christian—man and woman—can and should look.”