Monday, 19 January 2015

What was Catholic monarchy like? Here is a charming example...

The Catholic imperial monarchy of Austria and the Holy Roman Empire...

Kaiser (Caesar and Emperor) Francis Joseph I of Austria-Hungary,
the central Catholic Empire of Europe and successor of the Holy Roman Empire

Who does not recognise the face and picture of the distinguished, charming and saintly old gentleman who was the Kaiser (Caesar and Emperor) Francis Joseph of Austria-Hungary from 1848 to 1916?

He led a saintly, rigorously military and piously disciplined life right up to the day of his pious and holy death.

His successor was his great-nephew, the Blessed Emperor Charles I, beatified in 2004 by Blessed Pope John Paul II, himself named Charles (Karol in Polish) after the Blessed Emperor Charles since the Pope's father had served in the Austro-Hungarian army.

Blessed Kaiser (Caesar and Emperor) Charles I of Austria-Hungary,
who succeeded to the imperial throne upon the death in 1916 of his great uncle, Kaiser Francis Joseph I

Both men, in fact, led difficult and, indeed, crucified lives. Francis Joseph lost his son, his wife and his nephew successor to assassins. Charles, who worked tirelessly for peace and an end to war, but was betrayed, forced off the throne, exiled into poverty with his wife, Empress Zita, and 8 children, to Madeira Island, and died there aged only 34 years old.

But what was life like under the old Catholic empire?

In fact, it was a glorious kaleidoscope of colour, tradition, beauty, piety and plenty that ought to be the envy of a less fortunate age.

Unfortunately, too few know about those times and many have been seduced by secularist and anti-Catholic propagandists into believing that, in  those times, life was nasty, brutish and short.

In fact, the reverse is, and was, true.

Blessed Kaiser (Caesar and Emperor) Charles I of Austria
greets an old person, one of his many millions of subjects under the old Catholic Empire

The 1955 film Sissi starring Romy Schneider as the Kaiserin (Empress and Caesar's wife) Elizabeth ("Sissi") and Karl-Heinz Boehm as Kaiser Francis Joseph, although stylised, gives a surprisingly accurate picture of life in those times.

The theme is the early life of the Kaiser and his new wife, Princess Elizabeth in Bavaria, "Sissi", which was personally happy and only marred by the increasingly revolutionary politics of the day, tragically and persistently threatening the peace of Europe and the lives of Europeans.

The Italian secularist "irredentists", seeking a secular and separate Italy, snub and repudiate their Emperor but, at least in the film, are won over by the charm of the Empress Elizabeth when she and the Kaiser arrive at St Mark's, Venice, in the imperial barge, accompanied by the imperial flotilla.

The Italian nobility shut the doors of their Canal-side villas to their true and rightful Kaiser or Caesar and, instead of attending upon the Kaiser, both at St Mark's and at the Opera, rudely send their most dull-witted servants to embarrass the Kaiser and Kaiserin (and, at the opera, they rudely drown out the imperial anthem by singing the Italian nationalist anthem, Va Pensiero, famously composed by Guiseppe Verdi whose name was used as an anagram of the king proposed by the irredentist nationalists, the unpleasant Victor Emmanuel, King of Italy - Vittorio Emmanuele Re d'Italia - VERDI).

Sissi foils the plot by charming even the dull-witted servants sent to embarrass the imperial couple.

The whole story is, at base, historically true to life.

Likewise, and even more accurately, the equally nationalist (albeit not revolutionary) Hungarians are, at least partially, won over by Sissi's charm and Prince Laslo Andrassy even falls in love with her, although both, in proper Catholic manner, do not offend morality and Sissi, whilst remaining friendly to him, rebukes Prince Andrassy for his declaration.

This, too, is historically true to life.

The third, and last, part of the film ends with a glorious re-presentation of the dramatically colourful Hungarian Coronation which, in fact, took place, for the last time, in 1919, with the Emperor (and King) Blessed Charles I (pictured below swearing the Coronation oath in the crown and mantle of St Stephen, the first Christian and Catholic King of the Magyars, as the Hungarian race is called).

Blessed Kaiser (Caesar and Emperor) Charles I, as King Charles IV of Hungary,
in the Coronation crown and mantle of St Stephen, swearing the Coronation oath in 1919
before the Prince-Archbishop of Ezstergom, the Primate of Hungary

Sadly, in later life, the Kaiserin Elizabeth became distracted form her imperial duties and left off supporting her imperial husband in the manner that she should. This impetuosity and self-interest is also played out a little in the film as the headstrong nature of Sissi is seen.

Most tragically of all, this most beautiful, if somewhat headstrong, empress came to a most unjust end when she was murdered by an Italian irredentist terrorist as she was walking with her ladies-in-waiting by Lake Geneva in Switzerland. The murderer, a fanatical nationalist, stabbed her to the heart with a narrow stiletto so that, at first, she appeared entirely unharmed and shed no blood. But the truth quickly became clear and the Empress of Austria-Hungary died soon after, leaving her heartbroken husband, Kaiser Francis Joseph, with yet another blow to suffer in his long-suffering, crucified life.

However, the film dwells upon the happier beginning of their married life and gives a most charming and delightful picture of life in the Catholic empire which was, until the First World War put an end to it, the central state in all of Europe and the successor to the Holy Roman Empire that had lasted for 1,000 years until Bonaparte and the godless French Revolution.

Holy Roman Emperor (Caesar Augustus) Charles the Great (Charlemagne)
re-founder of the Roman Empire in the West in 800 AD

It reminds us that the fundamental basis of Catholic society and Catholic government was the family, whether at the highest, in the imperial family, or the humblest, the peasant farmer on the land, or humble worker in a city trade - not the soulless, inhuman, and rapacious corporations, insurance companies, banks and bloated government bureaucracies of modern times who serve only themselves and not the common good of society.

The Emperor and the imperial family were trained from infancy to put the needs of the people and the common good before themselves and their own contents.

Roman Emperor (Caesar Augustus) Francis I
wearing the crown of Charlemagne and in full coronation vestments (imperial cope, stole, alb, slippers and gloves),
holding the imperial sceptre (from the Giants' Hall of the Innsbruck Hofburg)
Modern corporations, private or public, are designed to maximise only their own profit and benefit, to the detriment of the common good, as so many recent revelations repeatedly demonstrate. Indeed, if one were to use the spectrum used by the American Psychiatric Association, the spirit of most modern corporations would qualify as exhibiting clear symptoms of psychosis and anti-social behaviour, in stark contrast to the Catholic monarchies of times past.

In the Catholic monarchies of times past the family was the central basis of government and community, not rapacious corporations. This film gives something of a flavour of that familial basis.

The film, started in 1953 and concluded in 1957, comes in 3 long parts, is in German and in old-fashioned Technicolor.

Some say that it was powerful enough to influence the Hungarian uprising against Communism in that same fateful year, 1956. The contrast between the colourful Catholic times and the dreary, grey times under Communism was all too powerful for the distressed and oppressed Hungarian people.

Here is a BBC production recalling the terrible events of  the 1956 uprising in Hungary just to remind us all what tyranny, horror and oppression took over in Hungary after the fall of the Habsburg Empire - first the pro-Nazi regency of Admiral Horthy (supposedfly standing in for the King, Blessed Emperor Charles I) and then, when he fell, Soviet invasion and atheistic Marxian Communism.

Here, in the greatest possible contrast, is the Sissi film series, in 3 parts, which, recalls days of peace, prosperity and civilisation under Catholic imperial rule by the Habsburgs.

Although in German, this charming film can be readily enjoyed by anyone. It is also available on Youtube in French. The first German clip has English sub-titles but not, unfortuntely, the later two.

I offer it here for all to enjoy!

Sissi (1953) - 1st part
This tells the sotry of the young Princess Elizabeth - "Sissi" - and her delightful family life in Bavaria with her jovial and widely-beloved father, Duke Maximilian in Bavaria ("Duke Max"), and her meeting with the young Kaiser (Caesar and Emperor) Francis Joseph, their betrothal and marriage...

Sissi (1956) - 2nd part
This part tells of the difficulties of imperial life in an age of dangerous and calamitous nationalism and how Sissi wins over the proud Hungarians, then threatening secession, and ending with the glorious Hungarian coronation of the King-Emperor in Budapest with the crown, mantle and sceptre of St Stephen, first Christian king of the Magyar Hungarians.
How must so many Hungarian hearts have been greatly moved and stirred to hear, once again, their royal anthem, the Himunsz, sung in a magnificent coronation setting, and how it must have contrasted with their drab, dreary and dangerous lives under the heel of Soviet Communism in 1956...

Sissi (1957) - 3rd part

 This part tells of the further difficulties of imperial life threatened by Italian Freemasonic nationalist "irredentism" bent upon wresting control of the northern lands of the Italian peninsula which had been part of the Empire for over a thousand years.
The Italian rebel nobility insult their lawful emperor by refusing to attend upon him at the Opera, in Milan, and for the arrival of the imperial barge and flotilla at St Mark's Square, Venice, sending instead their servants who do not know how to behave at court and offensively sing the nationalist anthem, Va Pensiero instead of the imperial anthem.
In St Mark's Square the imperial couple are greeted by a sullen, hostile silence but this is broken by the tenderness of the meeting between the Empress, Sissi, and her little daughter, which melts the soft hearts of the Italians who shout "Long live the mother!", just before the Cardinal-Patriarch of Venice comes out, with entourage, to greet his Emperor. The scene ends with the stirring sounds of the Imperial anthem, Gott erhalte.
Today, now that the Italian revolutionaries have long since successfully overthrown their lawful emperors, and after incompetent governments, Fascism, and then a succession of short-lived, corrupt governments since 1945, ending with a choice between the anti-Catholic Left, or dubious leaders like Silvio Berlusconi and his playboy antics, many Italians are finally realising the sheer pig-headed stupidity of their irredentist forebears and, once again, look back with some regret to the days when they lived under the gentle yoke of the vice-gerent of Christ, the Austrian and Holy Roman Emperor.

Here is a charming film clip from the wedding of the Blessed Kaiser (Caesar and Emperor) Charles I of Austria to Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma which has survived from that time:

The words of the Imperial hymn were sung, most movingly, amidst tears, in the Cathedral of St Stephen for the last imperial event, for the last Empress, Zita, at her funeral and burial on 1 April 1989, she having died just in time to have seen not only the fall of Nazism but also of Soviet Communism, both of which diseased ideologies had ravaged the lands of her husband, the last Habsburg Kaiser (Caesar and Emperor) Blessed Emperor Charles I. See below:
...and the ceremony of the burial of an emperor or empress was performed at the Imperial Capuchin Church of Vienna for both Empress Zita - and again for her eldest son, Archduke Otto (Dr Otto von Habsburg) in 2011 - in the anklopfzeremonie (door knock ceremony) in which a chamberlain knocks at the church door and announces all the solemn titles of the imperial personage but is only allowed entry when the titles are reduced to one small sentence - Zita, ein sterbliche, sündliche mensch - "Zita, a mortal, sinful human", seen below...
Here is a later interview with Archduke Otto of Austria, the eldest son of the Blessed Kaiser (Caesar and Emperor) Charles I of Austria and Empress Zita, speaking about the spiritual roots of Europe in perfect English. He was a professor, scholar, writer, lecturer, Member of the European Parliament and spoke 9 languages fluently, including Hungarian and Lithuanian. Think and judge how much good this excellent man could have done if he had been Austrian Emperor instead of but one Member of the European Parliament. H would have been an ideal leader for modern Europe.

Here are some film clips from the funeral of the Archduke Otto of Austria at which some one million people attended in the city of Vienna and the funeral procession followed the whole traditional route around the Vienna Hofburg to the Imperial Capuchin Church for the full Habsburgerbegräbnisritual - Habsburg burial ritual.
Following 13 days of mourning, the heir to the thrones of the great Austro-Hungarian Empire, His Imperial and Royal Highness Archduke Otto of Austria, Crown Prince of Hungary,  was laid to rest in Vienna on 16 July 2011.

Finally, the traditional anklopfzeremonie (door knock ceremony) itself, for the last Habsburg to have lived as a crown prince of the Empire. The ceremony is slightly stilted by having, second time round, the titles of Archduke Otto as a modern politician, and president of various rather dull modern European institutions, read out, but the effect is still dramatic and impressive.
Notice that the Capuchin friar refusing entry and finally allowing it, is the self-same friar-curator of the Imperial Crypt as refused and allowed entry to the mother of Archduke Otto, Empress Zita, in 1989, Friar Gottfried (which, in English, means "God's peace" and from which we, in English, get the name Godfrey).
Once again the coffin is carried and escorted by a guard from the ever-loyal Tyrolean schutzenkompanien - volunteer musket companies.


This was followed by the singing of the Imperial Anthem in the square outside the Imperial Capuchin Church.
Here are the stirring words and music (based upon the Kaisersgeburtstaglied - Imperial birthday tune - composed by Josef Haydn) of the first verse:
Gott erhalte, Gott beshuetze, unser Kaiser, unsern Land;
Mächtig durch des Glaubens Stütze
Führ' er uns mit weiser Hand!
Laßt uns seiner Väter Krone
Schirmen wider jeden Feind:
Innig bleibt mit Habsburgs Throne
Österreichs Geschick vereint.
God defending, God protecting, this our Caesar and our land;
Mighty through the Faith's supporting,
 Leads he us with wiser hand!
Left to us his father's Crown shall
shield us now from every foe!
 Closely bound with Habsburg throne shall

Austria's destiny forever grow!
 (c) English translation Roman Christendom

Austriae est imperare orbi universo
("It is Austria's destiny to rule the known world")
(This was a symbolic device personally used by the Habsburg Caesar and Emperor Frederick III, 1415–93, and his successors, to signify the unique position of the Empire in the Catholic world)

 Amen. May God grant it!
 Imperial Habsburg coat of arms after 1869

Friday, 9 January 2015

The Epiphany or Theophany of the Lord, manifested to the Gentile kings and wise men

The Feast of the Three Kings or Magi
as it was called in the Holy Roman Empire and in German-speaking lands
the Theophany
or Manifestation of the Lord to the Gentiles

on the same day as later occurred

the Baptism of the Lord


the miracle of wine at the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee

Whom Kings adore...
"When Jesus therefore was born in Bethlehem of Juda, in the days of king Herod, behold, there came wise men from the East to Jerusalem, saying: where is he that is born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and are come to adore him. And king Herod hearing this, was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And assembling together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where Christ should be born. But they said to him: In Bethlehem of Juda. For so it is written by the prophet: and thou Bethlehem the land of Juda art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come forth the captain that shall rule my people Israel.

Then Herod, privately calling the wise men learned diligently of them the time of the star which appeared to them; and sending them into Bethlehem, said: go and diligently inquire after the child, and when you have found him, bring me word again, that I also may come and adore him. Who having heard the king, went their way; and behold the star which they had seen in the East, went before them, until it came and stood over where the child was. And seeing the star they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And entering into the house, they found the child with Mary his mother, and falling down they adored him: and opening their treasures, they offered him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having received an answer in sleep that they should not return to Herod, they went back another way into their country."
[Matt 2:12 - Gospel for the Mass of the Epiphany]

The shrine of the Three Kings at Cologne Cathedral

The Shrine of the Three Kings in Cologne Cathedral contains their relics brought from Milan by ship to the City of Cologne on the order of the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick Barbarossa, in 1164 as a gift to the Prince-Elector Archbishop, Rainald of Dassel.
This gave rise to the English Carol "I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing in".
The relics had first been taken from Constantinople to Milan in 344 by Bishop Eustorgius of Milan.
Around 1199, the Roman Emperor Otto IV gave three golden crowns made for the three wise men as a present to the church of Cologne, the city where, the previous year, he had been elected King of the Romans and Emperor-elect by the Prince-Electors of the Empire (he later gained the support of all the imperial princes at Frankfurt in 1208).

An inscription reads:

Otto rex coloniensis curiam celebrans tres coronas de auro capitibus trium magorum imposuit.
Otto the King, the court of Cologne celebrating, gave three golden crowns for the heads of the three Magi.
Emperor Otto IV was the only member of the Welf dynasty to be elected Holy Roman Emperor and, being the son of Matilda Plantagenet (married to Henry the Lion, Duke of Bavaria), he was allied to England in the Franco-English wars. He was also the personal preference of Pope Innocent III, who crowned him Roman Emperor at Rome in 1209, although they later fell out over the issue of the imperial rights in Italy.

Because of the importance of the shrine and the cathedral for the later development of the city, the Coat of Arms of Cologne still shows these three crowns symbolizing the Three Kings.

Construction of the present Cologne Cathedral was begun in 1248 to house these important relics. The cathedral took 632 years to complete and is now the largest Gothic church in northern Europe.

On July 20th, 1864, the shrine was opened, and the remains of the three Kings and the coins of Philipp von Heinsberg, Archbishop of Cologne, were discovered.

An eyewitness report reads:

“In a special compartment of the shrine now there showed - along with remains of ancient old rotten or moulded bandages, most likely byssus, besides pieces of aromatic resins and similar substances - numerous bones of three persons, which under the guidance of several present experts could be assembled into nearly complete bodies: the one in his early youth, the second in his early manhood, the third was rather aged. Two coins, bracteates made of silver and only one side striken, were adjoined; one, provably from the days of Philipp von Heinsberg, displayed a church, the other showed a cross, accompanied by the sword of jurisdiction, and the crozier on either side.”
The bones were wrapped in white silk and returned to the shrine where they remain to this day to be venerated by all the Faithful.

By long tradition, on the Feast of the Epiphany – called Dreikoenigsfest (the Feast of the Three Kings) in the lands of the old Holy Roman Empire – the Rector of the Parish (or in his absence, the father of each family) visits each house with a cross-bearer, 2 acolytes and 3 children dressed as the kings, one bearing a censer with lighted incense. At each house a little ceremony takes place, the house is blessed with Epiphany water, and over the door lintel of the house the following is inscribed with blessed chalk:
20 + C + M + B + 15

In my house we always perform this traditional ceremony.

This symbolises the present year and the blessing of the three Magi, Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar, upon each home.

The symbols remain all year or until the weather has washed them away.
Blessed Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar, wise men and kings from the East, pray for us!


The Journey of the Magi

by T S Eliot

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times when we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities dirty and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wineskins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

+ + +

"three trees on the low sky... I should be glad of another death."

Friday, 2 January 2015



pope francis 14
For the most intolerant and extreme religion in the world, this is a rather embarrassing statistic.
It appears that the Catholic Church, widely recognized as the most uncompromising and dogmatic among the world’s major religions, is about to close out the year without executing a single person.
As everyone knows, the Catholic Church is a religion of strict doctrine, ruling every aspect of each individual Catholic’s life from the Vatican with an iron fist, while at the same time relentlessly imposing its beliefs on the rest of society.
Yet for some reason the Catholic Church has had an abysmal year at the chopping block, failing to kill a single one of its billion-plus members for failing to live in strict adherence to her teachings.  On top of that, the Vatican has put to death exactly zero people from other religions for refusing to convert to Catholicism.
Even some followers of Islam, universally known as a religion of peace and tolerance, have found time on the weekends to behead a few non-believers.  And yet the Catholic Church, far from resembling anything having to do with peace or tolerance, has taken incompetence to a whole new level when it comes to imposing its beliefs.
Sure, 2015 is a new year and all, but let’s face it.  When it comes to intolerance, we’re pathetic.
(With thanks to John White of

Friday, 26 December 2014

Happy Christmas 2014!

Christmas 2014

O most Holy Night, all the earth being at peace...

Sebastiano Conca. Adoration of the Shepherds. 1720.

O Adonai,
et Dux domus Israel, qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti,
et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.

O Prince and Commander of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.
[Great O Antiphon for 18 December, sung before the Magnificat at Vespers]

Non auferetur sceptrum de Iuda, et dux de femore eius, donec veniat qui mittendus est: et ipse erit expectatio gentium

The royal sceptre shall not be taken away from Juda, nor a ruling prince from his loins, until He come that is to be sent, and He shall be the expectation of the nations.
[Genesis 49:10, sung at Vespers of the Advent Office]

"And Joseph also went up from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his espoused wife, who was with child. And it came to pass, that when they were there, her days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room in the Inn. And there were in the same country shepherds watching and keeping the night watches over their flock. And behold an Angel of the Lord stood by them and the brightness of God shone round about them, and they feared with a great fear. And the Angel said to them 'Fear not; for behold I bring you tidings of great joy that shall be to all people. For this day is born to you a Saviour who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this shall be a sign unto you: you shall find the Infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger'. And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying 'Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will.' "
[Luke 2:4-14]
[The Gospel of the Nativity of Our Lord, the first Mass of Christmas at midnight]

In principio erat Verbum, et Verbum erat apud Deum, et Deus erat Verbum. Hoc erat in principio apud Deum. Omnia per ipsum facta sunt, et sine ipso factum est nihil quod factum est. In ipso vita erat, et vita erat lux hominum: et lux in tenebris lucet, et tenebrae eam non comprehenderunt. Fuit homo missus a Deo, cui nomen erat Joannes. Hic venit in testimonium, ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine, ut omnes crederent per illum. Non erat ille lux, sed ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine. Erat lux vera quae illuminat omnem hominem venientem in hunc mundum. In mundo erat, et mundus per ipsum factus est, et mundus eum non cognovit. In propria venit, et sui eum non receperunt. Quotquot autem receperunt eum, dedit eis potestatem filios Dei fieri, his qui credunt in nomine ejus. Qui non ex sanguinibus, neque ex voluntate carnis, neque ex voluntate viri, sed ex Deo nati sunt. ET VERBUM CARO FACTUM EST, et habitavit in nobis et vidimus gloriam ejus, gloriam quasi unigeniti a Patre, plenum gratiae et veritatis.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was made nothing that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men: and the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness to give testimony of the light, that all men might believe through him. He was not the light, but was to give testimony of the light. That was the true light which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them He gave great power to become the sons of God: to them that believe in His name: who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. AND THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."
[John 1:1-14]
[Gospel for the mass of Christmas Day]

The Eighth Day before the Calends of January, being


In the 5199th year of the creation of the world, from the time when God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth;

the 2957th year after the flood;
the 2015th year from the birth of Abraham;
the 1510th year from Moses, and the giving forth of the people of Israel from Egypt;
the 1032nd year from the anointing of King David;
in the 65th week according to the prophesy of Daniel;
in the 194th Olympiad;
the 752nd year from the foundation of the City of Rome;
the 42nd year of the rule of Octavian Augustus,

all the earth being at peace,


the eternal God,
and Son of the eternal Father,
desirous to sanctify the world by His most merciful coming,
being conceived by the Holy Spirit,
nine months after His conception
was born in Bethlehem of Judaea,


[Sung at Prime on Christmas Day from the Roman Martyrology]

Puer natus est nobis,
et filius datus est nobis, cujus imperium super humerum ejus et vocabitur nomen ejus, magni consilii Angelus.

Unto us a child is born,
a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder and His name shall be called Angel of great counsel."
[Isaias 9:6]
[Introit of the third Mass of Christmas, during the daytime]

Happy Christmas to all!

Sunday, 30 November 2014

The First Sunday of Advent...

The First Sunday of Advent reminds us of the both the first and second coming of Christ.

The Gospel of the Sunday reminds us, in dramatic terms, of the second coming of the Lord, when there shall be great signs in the heavens.

It is salutary to remind ourselves from time to time of the signs of the latter times as well, of course, of the present times, and the connection between the two.

We cannot know the time but we can see, and recognise, the signs. These should remind us to consider our eternal end which is always a salutary thought.

GOSPEL Luke 21. 25-33

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: "There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, by reason of the confusion of the roaring of the sea and of the waves: men withering away for fear and expectation of what shall come upon the whole world. For the powers of heaven shall be moved; and then they shall see the Son of man coming in a cloud with great power and majesty. But when these things begin to come to pass, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is at hand." And He spoke to them a similitude: "See the fig tree, and all the trees; when they now shoot forth their fruit, you know that summer is nigh; so you also, when you shall see these things come to pass, know that the kingdom of God is at hand. Amen I say to you, this generation shall not pass away till all things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away".


Why the Roman Catholic Church so rightly condemned the Irish Fenians...and all other terrorist fanatics and revolutionaries

A reader called "Irish Jacobite" asks me (in an earlier post on the Carmelites of Compiegne):

"Why did the Church condemn the Fenians exactly? What were the specific reasons?"

It's a perfectly good question.

Here's why: the Fenians were a parcel of revolutionaries hell-bent upon overthrowing the established order in Ireland - including the clergy - and bringing in a secular republic guided by principles based upon the anti-Catholic French Revolution and upon a form of incipient Communism.

They expressly eschewed the non-violent approach to reform of Daniel O'Connell and deliberately opted for violence and murder of the innocent, particularly police officers.

In short, they were a gang of heathen thugs and murderers.

Bishop David Moriarty of Kerry said of the Fenian leaders (and I quote) that they were:

"criminals, swindlers" and "God's heaviest curse" and "deserving damnation" adding that "eternity is not long enough, nor hell hot enough" for their kind.

I should add that Bishop Moriarty was an Irish patriot. However, he objected to swindlers and murderers.

Here is what Lawrence John McCaffrey says in his book The Irish Catholic Diaspora in America (1976), page 150:

" to the British government, the Catholic Church in Ireland was the leading foe of Fenianism. Bishops denounced the IRB as a secret, oath-bound society, and denied the sacraments to its known members...[Cardinal] Cullen [the Archbishop of Dublin] and his fellow prelates were also frightened by the violent rhetoric and strategy of the IRB, believing that the group's inspiration came from Giuseppe Garibaldi-style continental, anti-Catholic, radical nationalism and the egalitarian and violent mood of urban America...Cardinal Cullen decreed that no Catholic church in his archdiocese could be used for any religious ceremony that might be construed as an honour to revolutionary nationalism."

Here is what Oliver Rafferty says in his book Catholicism in Ulster, 1603-1983: An Interpretative History (1994) at pages 162-4:

"A more important and decisive intervention in Irish political affairs was the condemnation of Fenianism 'by name'  issued by Pius IX in January 1870...[Cardinal Cullen] called a meeting of the bishops, then all in Rome for the First Vatican Council, and persuaded them in the interests of religion to petition the Holy See for a condemnation of the Fenians. All the Ulster bishops voted in favour of the petition. Pius IX duly obliged and the decree condemning Fenianism was issued at the end of January 1870."

In fact, the decree was a clarification, ordered by Blessed Pope Pius IX to be issued in case there were any doubt that his earlier decrees, including Apostolicae Sedis Moderationi, meant to condemn the Fenians specifically. It was issued on 12 January 1870 by the Roman Inquisition on the direct order of Blessed Pope Pius IX. Here is what it says:

"As it may be doubted by many whether the society of Fenians is included and denounced among the societies condemned in the Pontifical Constitutions, our most Holy Father Pius IX, having first taken the opinions of the eminent cardinals, the inquisitors-general appointed to guard against heretical perversity in the universal Christian republic, lest the hearts of the faithful, particularly the simple, should be perverted, to the imminent danger of their souls, and adhering to the decrees of the congregation of the General Inquisition issued in like circumstances, especially the decree of 5 July 1865, has decreed and declared that the American or Irish society called Fenian is comprised among the societies forbidden and condemned in the Constitutions of the Supreme Pontiff, and in particular by that lately issued by his Holiness, dated 29 October 1869, beginning Apostolicae Sedis in paragraph 4 of which are declared liable to sentence of excommunication, to be removed only by the Pope, 'those sects called Freemasons, Carbonari, or any other kinds of sects which either openly or privately plot against the Church or legitimately constituted authorities, together with those who in any way favour the same; as also their secret heads or leaders, so long as they shall not have denounced them.' He has, therefore, commanded this answer to be given to certain bishops who have asked the question.

Notary of the Holy Roman Inquisition
12 January 1870"

Apostolicae Sedis Moderationi was a papal bull issued by Blessed Pope Pius IX on 12 October 1869 which revised the list of censures that in canon law were imposed automatically (latae sententiae) on offenders. It reduced their number and clarified those preserved. Of the total of 45 censures, one (the fourth among those for which absolution was reserved to the Pope, but not in a special manner) was directed against membership of "Freemasonry, the Carbonari and similar groups".

Some sought to excuse the Fenians from being condemned by this and earlier papal bulls and so Blessed Pope Pius IX ordered the clarification quoted above so that there could be no doubt. He did this at the invitation of the Irish bishops, led by Cardinal Cullen.

His Eminence Paul, Cardinal Cullen, Archbishop of Dublin

Any objective person considering the revolutionary violence espoused by, and practiced by, the Fenians and the IRB can be in no doubt whatsoever that they fully deserved this condemnation. The Fenians and IRB made no bones about committing plain, outright murder to try to get their way.

Since murder is a sin that cries to heaven for vengeance, as the Catechism teaches us, there can be little doubt that unrepentant Fenians and IRB members were in obvious and mortal danger of Hellfire. All Catholics needed to be told this and Blessed Pope Pius IX did not shrink from the task.

The term "Fenian" is an umbrella term used to describe both the Fenian Brotherhood, founded by American John O'Mahoney, and the Irish Republican Brotherhood (originally called the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood), founded by James Fitzjames Stephens on 17 March 1858 in Lombard Street, Dublin, together with Thomas Clarke Luby, John O'Leary and Charles Kickham.

 The odious founder of the Fenians, American rebel and murderer John O'Mahoney
The odious founder of the IRB, Irish rebel and murderer James Stephens

Both organisations were consciously modelled on the ideas of the French Revolution and the Irish tricolour flag was even brought over to Ireland from revolutionary France by Thomas Francis Meagher for that very reason.

Be in no doubt: the tricolour is an anti-Catholic, revolutionary flag - or, more properly, rag. It deliberately eschews anything resembling the Christian cross.

Generations of Irishmen have been swindled into believing otherwise.

Thomas Francis Meagher,
rabble-rousing revolutionary and promoter of mayhem and violence,
who brought the revolutionary tricolour to Ireland

Both organisations were secret societies with secret, blood-curdling oaths, and they were dedicated to the establishment of an independent, secular Irish republic by violence, murder and mayhem.

O'Mahoney expressly claimed that Irish independence could only be obtained by armed revolution. He was, in effect, an early Communist. Stephens was, if anything, even more openly Communist in his views.

O'Mahoney even managed to help orchestrate the Fenian invasions and raids of Canada from the USA between 1866 and 1871. These raids, which were designed to take over parts of Canada and then try to pressure or blackmail the British government, all failed and ensured that Irish-Canadians ceased to have any sympathy for the Fenians, if they ever had any. It also engendered much anti-American feeling since the American government did little to stop the Fenians using US territory to mount the raids.

Both Stephens and O'Mahoney had participated in the failed 1848 "Young Ireland" rebellion which Dan O'Connell had roundly condemned. The "Young Irelanders" expressly split from O'Connell precisely because he refused to countenance any violence.

In 1867 three Fenians - William Allen, Michael O'Brien and Michael Larkin - attacked a police van trying to release captured Fenian criminals. In so doing they murdered policemen. For this they were later tried and hanged at Salford. The backlash against these violent criminals set back the cause of Irish Home rule by decades. Their murders achieved nothing but grieving widows, a growing hatred of Irish politics and a diminishing of the prospects for Home Rule.

The stark reality is that the peaceful, constitutional campaigns of Dan O'Connell which, a generation earlier, had achieved so much including land reform, Catholic emancipation throughout the British Empire and material assistance for the poor, was gravely prejudiced by the stupid and irrational violence and murders committed by the Fenians.

Daniel O'Connell,
the "Liberator" and the true friend of Ireland,
who forbade violence and used only constitutional and peaceful methods
with the result that he succeeded where the men of violence failed

Home Rule, which could have been achieved in the early to mid-19th century, was set back half a century by the rash and senseless acts of violence of these Fenian terrorists, fanatics and murderers.

The Phoenix Park murders on 6 May 1882 of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Lord Frederick Cavendish and the Permanent Under-Secretary, Thomas Henry Burke, thoroughly scuppered Home Rule for Ireland since Gladstone's minister, Lord Hartington, was Cavendish's elder brother. He split from Gladstone's Liberal Party, and went on to help form the Liberal Unionist Party, so that the Home Rule Bills of 1886 and 1893 failed.

These atrocious murders of innocent men in Phoenix Park served only to put the cause of Home rule back decades and to cause senseless suffering to the families of the victims. Such are the cankered and hateful fruits of Fenian fanaticism, terrorism and murder.

Lord Frederick Cavendish,
Chief Secretary of Ireland,
murdered in cold blood in Phoenix Park by Fenian terrorist fanatics

Thomas Henry Burke,
Permanent Under-Secretary at the Irish Office
murdered in cold blood in Phoenix Park by Fenian terrorist fanatics.
He was an Irish Catholic in favour of Home Rule and moderate land reform who opposed the men of violence

It was only the long, hard, arduous, dedicated and, above all, peaceful and constitutional continuance, by John Redmond and John Dillon, of O'Connell's campaigns that finally resulted in the Irish Home Rule Act in 1914.

John Redmond MP,
leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons,
a decent and patriotic man who eschewed violence and opposed the men of violence.
He succeeded in getting the Home Rule Bill passed in 1914.

The Phoenix Park murderers, Joe Brady, Michael Fagan, Thomas Caffrey, Dan Curley and Tim Kelly, were all convicted and hanged. They belonged to an obscure off-shoot of the Fenians called the "Irish National Invincibles".

Thus did the Fenians and their allies hopelessly set back the cause of Irish Home Rule by their murders, violence and acts of hatred.

The Fenians and the IRB eventually turned into Sinn Fein and the IRA, both murderous organisations which have continued to massacre the innocent right up until the present day.

In case anyone is in any doubt that the modern IRA has not been openly in favour of murder, here is a reminder from Martin McGuiness, who, although now a Cabinet minister in Northern Ireland, has been an openly defiant apologist for killing the innocent. Such a man should automatically be excluded from the government of any civilised nation.

Here is an interview with IRA leader, Sean Mac Stiofain, who boasts about murdering the innocent. Ironically, Mac Stiofain was in reality English-born, with an Irish mother, and  was baptised John Stephenson.


Here is an even more disgusting individual, Dan Breen.

An IRA member in the 1919 rebellion, this scoundrel openly boasts of murdering innocent people even to saying that he "makes no apology for killing...and murder" and deceitfully pretends that "all killing is murder". He is a particularly nasty example of the moral poison that was, and still is, Fenianism:

Notice how this ghastly old heathen says he is "not a bit sorry for any man, or God"!

He is not sorry for the murders he committed or, as he puts it, "rubbing them out", even though he is in the "evening of his life". In this clip he remains an unrepentant murderer, boasting of his murders.

But he even tells us who his real "gods" were, namely his fellow terrorists like Michael Collins. And his earlier heroes, Wolfe Tone and Robert Emmet, were both revolutionary Protestants. Wolfe Tone was a suicide who cut his own throat in prison with a razor blade rather than face the gallows.

This man, Dan Breen, was very far from being a Catholic.

He was not even remotely Christian. He was a deep heathen and a violent, murderous revolutionary. He was the very worst sort of person to claim to represent Ireland, a land of Christian saints and scholars. He was the very enemy of true Irishmen and the real Ireland - a shocking criminal, God help him, but a typical representative of the evil genius of Fenianism.

He is also an example of how many of the Fenians were sympathisers with Nazism.

Breen published an account of his guerrilla days, My Fight for Irish Freedom, in 1924. He represented the Tipperary constituency from the fourth Dáil in 1923 as a "Republican", along with Éamon de Valera and Frank Aiken. He became the first anti-Treaty TD actually to take his seat in 1927 but was defeated in the June 1927 general election and decided to travel to the United States. He returned to Ireland and regained his seat as a member of Fianna Fáil in the Dáil at the 1932 general election.

During World War II he was known to hold largely pro-Axis (i.e. Nazi) views.

According to some, in 1948 an Irish-American visited Breen and was shocked to see two pictures of Adolf Hitler on the wall of Breen's study.

After hearing these appalling villains, it must be clear to any sane human being that the whole Fenian, IRB, Sinn Fein and IRA movement is disgraceful, criminal and immoral and thoroughly deserving of the highest possible condemnation by all men, whether religious or not, whether Irish or not.

It is a movement inspired by Hell itself, as Roman Catholic Bishop David Moriarty rightly stated.
Blessed Pope Pius IX was clearly entirely right to condemn this horrible, murderous movement and all decent people should be grateful to him for doing so.
Blessed Pope Pius IX
who roundly and openly (and rightly) condemned
the Fenians and their fanatical terrorist allies

Thursday, 6 November 2014

El Dialogo de Carmelitas - a Spanish version of this heroic witness...

For those who can follow the Spanish, here is an excellent version of the story - El Dialogo de Carmelitas (originally in French).

It stars, as the Mother Prioress, the famous Italian actress, Alida Valli, born  Alida Maria Laura, Reichsfreiin (Baroness-imperial) von Altenburger von Marckenstein und Frauenberg of the Holy Roman Empire, who is famous in the English-speaking world for her role as Anna, the amour of the outlaw, Harry Lime, in the Hollywood blockbuster, The Third Man, itself set in the ruins of old, Catholic and imperial Vienna.

There is no escaping it: Europe owes its true origin and greatness to the Catholic religion and its decline to its retreat from Christ.

This version of the Compiegne story of the holy Carmelite martyrs is a particularly expressive one and again emphasizes the heroism of these saintly and remarkable women.

Oh, how we lack, in our times, convents as faithful and zealous as this - and how much we are in sore need of them! It is for lack of such that our times have become so perilous, godless and faithless. We lack these role models of sanctity, humility and simplicity - and, of course, heroism.

It is a salutary reminder to us that we must strive and pray with fervour to be even remotely worthy to share heaven with heroines such as these holy princesses who have deserved to reign forever in glory with their sacred Spouse, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

Holy sisters of Compiegne, pray for us!