Drinking hot lemon water can prevent cancer. Don't add sugar. Hot lemon water is more beneficial than cold lemon water.




Both yellow n purple sweet potato have good cancer prevention properties. 




01. Often taking late night dinner can increase the chance of stomach cancer




02. Never take more than 4 eggs per week




03. Eating chicken backside can cause stomach cancer




04. Never eat fruits after meal. Fruits should be eaten before meals




05. Don't take tea during menstruation period.




06. Take less soy milk, no adding sugar or egg to soy milk




07. Don't eat tomato with empty stomach




08. Drink a glass of plain water every morning before food to prevent gall bladder stones




09. No food 3 hrs before bed time




10. Drink less liquor or avoid, no nutritional properties but can cause diabetes and hypertension




11. Do not eat toast bread when it is hot from oven or toaster




12. Do not charge your handphone or any device next to you when you are sleeping




13. Drink 10 glasses of water a day to prevent bladder cancer




14. Drink more water in the day time, less at night




15. Don't drink more than 2 cups of coffee a day, may cause insomnia and gastric




16. Eat less oily food. It takes 5-7 hrs to digest them, makes you feel tired




17. After 5pm, eat less




18. Six types of food that makes you happy: banana, grapefruit, spinach, pumpkin, peach.




19.Sleeping less than 8 hrs a day may deteriorate our brain function. Taking Afternoon rest for half an hour may keep our youthful look.




20. Cooked tomato has better healing properties than the raw tomato.




Hot lemon water can sustain your health and make you live longer!




Hot lemon water kills cancer cells




Add hot water to 2-3 slices of lemon. Make it a daily drink




The bitterness in hot lemon water is the best substance to kill cancer cells.




Cold lemon water only has vitamin C, no cancer prevention.




Hot lemon water can control cancer tumor growth.




Clinical tests have proven hot lemon water works.




This type of Lemon extract treatment will only destroy the malignant cells, it does not affect healthy cells.




Next... citric acid and lemon polyphenol in side lemon juice, can help reduce high blood pressure, effective prevention of deep vein thrombosis, improve blood circulation, and reduce blood clots.


17 November 2018


Cosmology Seminar - Lifestyle & Consumerism: Is a simple lifestyle possible in our throw away society?


Presenter: Dr. Cathriona Russell, TCD


Venue: Don Bosco Centre, Milford, Limerick


Date: November 17th 2018


by phone 087 1337612 or by email at


On or before 10th Nov. 2018



2018 Moyvane Development Association Newsletter


June 18, 2018




Moyvane Development/Tidy Towns Newsletter June 2018




Our application for the competition has been submitted, and it’s all systems go to improve on last year’s results. (2017 results attached)




The results for last year show an improvement of 6 marks which brings us to 287 out of a possible 450.




Adjudication time is upon us already and can take place anytime from June to the end of July.




We need your continued support and help to enhance the overall appearance of the village. Adjudicators will take into account everything from house painting, flower displays, gardens, general tidiness and litter control. If you haven’t done so already, you still have time to have another look around and see where you can make some improvements. We have the potential to improve our score further by concentrating on the areas outlined in the adjudicators report.




Regular clean ups will continue over the summer period. We are encouraged by the extra support received so far this year, especially the large number of people who helped with the County Wide clean up in April. We collected a significant amount of rubbish around the village and on the approach roads.




Last year, for the purpose of clean up’s, each housing development & each road/street was looked after by the local residents, this proved very successful, keep up the good work. We would appeal to businesses to keep a watch on the area outside their premises & we request smokers not to litter, & use the containers provided by the bars.




All clean up’s will be advertised locally, weekly clean up’s on Tues evenings.




Please keep playground tidy & use rubbish bins provided or take it home so that kids and everybody can enjoy a wonderful amenity.




The Village Walk & Nature Trail is for everyone’s enjoyment & we appeal to people to keep this area clean & tidy. Some incidents of vandalism and anti-social behaviour have taken place in this area over the past while. Some trees and hedging have been damaged. Moyvane Development Association fully encourages residents with dogs on a leash to use the walk, please use Poop Scoop bags which are available free of charge at the Post Office.




Dumping of rubbish has been occurring at the Bottle Bank. We would like to remind people that illegal dumping is prohibited and carries a fine of €3000. A CCTV system is in operation here and is monitored by KCC.




Due to a reduction in numbers in our RSS & Solas schemes we are unable to provide a flower watering service this year & we are asking householders to help by watering containers adjacent to them.








As everyone is aware waste reduction and water minimisation are important aspects of everyday life now. Here are a few points to think about to help us in this goal:




    Use local recycling bins for bottles, cans and clothes


    Use reusable coffee/tea mugs to reduce waste


    Watch for, & support local clothes collections e.g. schools, football club etc


    Avoid using disposable products e.g. use lunch boxes rather than disposable packaging.


    Remember washing your car with a hose can use up to 300 litres of water!


    The average bath can take 80 litres of water to fill. A 5 minute shower can use between 30 and 40 litres of water. A 5 minute “power” shower can use up to 100 litres of water!


    Use a basin for washing vegetables & dishes. Reuse this water to water house plants or those in the garden.


    Consider installing a water butt to collect rainwater to wash your car or to use in the garden.


    Check forecast before watering plants…it might rain later!




General Activities carried out during the year




    New seats placed in Nature Trail


    Memorial seat placed at Grotto by the Hanrahan Family


    Extension of Nature Trail with 1,200 native trees and hedging planted by RSS/Solas participants, SSE Staff Tarbert Power Station & Development members


    Fences painted on approach roads


    New flower bed planted on Glen road


    Our application for funding to KCC Community Support Fund was successful & we received €1000 towards planting of trees, hedging & flowers


    Regular litter clean ups are ongoing


    Our Village Festival continues to be our main fund raiser. Thanks to everyone who supports us in any way-those who help organise events, those who support the events and a special word of thanks to our sponsors who continue to support us financially


    Our Nature trail will be closed to the public in the next few weeks to facilitate the laying of a Tarmac surface throughout the complete walk. This will be funded by a very generous Grant received from EirGrid as gesture of thanks for the disruption visited upon the parish by their ongoing cable laying project, Moyvane Development Association will part fund the project.




Reconciliation Window, Stained Glass Windows in St. John’s Church


By  John Griffin


Stained glass is often referred to as the poor man’s Bible as it was used from the Early Middle Ages to illustrate scriptural stories and the lives of the saints to largely uneducated congregations. Interestingly, at least sixty-five fragments of glass, including some painted medieval pieces, were found during the excavations in Ardfert Cathedral in the 1990s.   In more recent times, stained glass is viewed as a spectacular art form to enlighten, inspire, console and instruct those who look upon them.




St. John’s Church is famous for its stained glass which, with the new Reconciliation Window by Tom Denny, will extend over three centuries.  The Great Sanctuary Window by Michael O’Connor, completed in 1861, dominates the interior. There are seven principal lights or panels in the lower section which contain the figures of Christ the King, St. John the Baptist and the Twelve Apostles in order of their selection by Jesus in St. Matthew’s Gospel (10.2-4). The upper traceried portion has representations of The Annunciation, Nine Choirs of Angels, the Holy Spirit and various other emblematic forms.


Pope Francis Calls for ‘Journalism of Peace’ in Era of ‘Fake News’




The Holy Father closed by recalling the famous “Franciscan prayer” that begins: “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace” and adjusted it for those working in today’s media:




“Lord, make us instruments of your peace.


Help us to recognize the evil latent in a communication that does not build communion.


Help us to remove the venom from our judgments.


Help us to speak about others as our brothers and sisters.


You are faithful and trustworthy; may our words be seeds of goodness for the world:


where there is shouting, let us practise listening;


where there is confusion, let us inspire harmony;


where there is ambiguity, let us bring clarity;


where there is exclusion, let us offer solidarity;


where there is sensationalism, let us use sobriety;


where there is superficiality, let us raise real questions;


where there is prejudice, let us awaken trust;


where there is hostility, let us bring respect;


where there is falsehood, let us bring truth.


Sean Sheehy




Jan 10 (12 days ago)




to me


Do You Know What You’re Looking For?


    As we get older we become more preoccupied with all kinds of things like, children, grandchildren, health problems, paying bills, home maintenance, suffering, and eventually death. Sometimes I go looking for something and then forget what I’m looking for and have to ask myself, “What am I here for?” Since none of us is perfect, and we all have needs, we’re always looking for something. But what are we ultimately looking for? Happiness, justice, peace, truth, freedom, goodness, beauty, love. Where will we find these? Who can make us happy, help us to achieve justice, inner peace, truth, goodness, and beauty? Looking for these in the world around us leaves us frustrated because we can never find them totally and permanently here on earth. At best we experience them fleetingly. At worst we deprive our self of the opportunities to experience them even temporarily. The fact is that we don’t want just a little happiness, a little peace, a partial truth, partial justice, a little goodness, a little beauty, or a little love. We want each of them totally and permanently. Who can satisfy this deep need in each of us? God! Only the Creator can totally satisfy the deepest needs of the creature.


   When Jesus was choosing His apostles He began with two of John’s disciples. John recognized Jesus as the Messiah when He saw Him passing by and identified Him to the two disciples, “Look! Three is the Lamb of God!” (Jn 1:36) As soon as they heard this they started following Jesus. When Jesus noticed them following Him He turned around and asked, “What are you looking for?” (Jn 1:38) They responded, “Rabbi, where do you stay?”  Jesus simply answered, “Come and see,” He answered.” (Jn 1:38-39) Andrew, one of the two disciples, went and told his brother, Simon, "We have found the Messiah!” (Jn 1:41) Then he brought Simon to meet Jesus who looked at him and pronounced, “You are Simon, son of John; your name shall be Cephas (which is rendered Peter).” Jn 1:42) Jesus had something big in store for Peter, namely the one on whom He would found His Church, which He promised to be with “until the end of time.” (Mt 28:20)


   John’s disciples were already looking for the Messiah foretold by the Old Testament prophets. They found what they were looking for in Jesus. I believe that every man, woman, and child is looking for a Messiah. Since Jesus is the only true Messiah, God-become-man, every human being is looking for Him. Why? Because only the Messiah can lead His people to become happy, peaceful, truth-telling, just, good, beautiful, and loving men and women. Sadly all too many look for these in all the wrong places. Jesus is God in human form and promises that “No follower of mine shall ever walk in darkness; no, he shall possess the light of life.” (Jn 8:12) Since we all want to see none of us wants to be in darkness. Jesus alone is the Light that dispels the darkness of sin and selfishness freeing us to be virtuous and generous human beings.


   Do you know what you’re looking for? Have you found it? Ultimately you’re looking for Jesus since only He can satisfy your deepest needs. Where will you find Him? In His Church where He said He would be. If you want to find Jesus simply enter His Church. There He can touch your heart with His Real presence and be with you in all your joys and sorrows in His Church’s Sacraments leading you to Heaven.


   God, as our Creator, calls everyone. “I have called you by name: you are mine.” (Is 43:1) Jesus reiterated this fact when he said about Himself as the Good Shepherd who, “… calls his own by name and leads them out.” (Jn 10:3) It’s not enough for God to call us by name, we have to listen and answer with a resounding “Yes.” We must respond to God’s call like Samuel who answered, “Speak, Lord, Your servant is listening.” (1 Sam 3:9) We can’t recognize Jesus’ call unless we listen to Him speaking through His Church. “My sheep hear my voice. I know them and they follow me.” (Jn 10:27)


   When we hear Jesus’ voice we know we’ve found what we’re looking for. He is our eternal hope and our salvation. Then we’re able to say with enthusiasm, “To do Your will, O my God, is my delight, and Your law is written on my heart!” (Ps 60:9) We don’t just respond to Him spiritually; we also respond physically. God wants a response to Him from our whole person, body and soul. Then we realize the sacredness of our body and the ugliness of immorality. St Paul reminds us that “the body is not for immorality; it is for the Lord …” (1 or 6:13) Then he asks, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a great price. Therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Cor 6:19-20) When you know what you’re looking for you also know why you’re here and why you must act morally. (frsos)



CANADA Awards 2017

Helena Maureen Barry, Saint John, New Brunswick

Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award


Well organized, compassionate and discreet, Maureen Barry has served the Saint John community for more than five decades and has particularly cared about the well-being of children and seniors. The mother of 12 has exemplified generosity and concern for others by donating food and clothing to underprivileged families, by canvassing for several charitable organizations such as the New Brunswick Lung Association, and by serving with the Catholic Women’s League for many years. A cheerful volunteer with the St. Joseph’s Hospital and the Rocmaura Nursing Home for more than 20 years, she has brought joy and comfort to the residents during her visits.


Ajit Singh Thiara, North Vancouver, British Columbia

Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award


A graduate and a member of Leadership Vancouver, where he learned to use his leadership skills for the betterment of the community, Ajit Thiara is passionate about mentoring youth and empowering those who seek his advice. He has delivered career development workshops at Simon Fraser University and at Harvest Project, as well as for the Leaders of Tomorrow program. To reduce crime in the city, he worked with others to establish the North Vancouver Crime Prevention Society and, eager to improve the lives of the less fortunate, he has raised funds and helped serve Christmas lunch at the North Shore Neighbourhood House. In his spare time, he also participates in community events as communications officer and drummer with the B.C. Regiment Irish Pipes and Drums.



Thomas William Reynolds, Scarborough, Ontario

Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award


Thomas Reynolds has unfailingly seized the opportunity to be of assistance in any way he could. For more than three decades, his extensive participation in numerous activities with the Royal Canadian Legion has enhanced the quality of life of fellow veterans who reside at Sunnybrook Hospital. A long-time member of the Lions Club, he collects used eyeglasses for donation to developing countries. Always willing to lend a helping hand to his neighbours, he has also taken part in various fundraising activities to help provide sports equipment for a school, guide dogs for blind persons and wheelchairs for seniors.


Father William Allen Reynolds, St. Albert, Alberta

Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award


Father Reynolds was ordained to the priesthood in 1936 and has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to disadvantaged residents of his community. After serving with Scouts Canada for almost two decades, he co-founded the Boys’ & Girls’ Clubs of Edmonton. Over the next 40 years, he dedicated his spare time to the activities and management of the clubs, which would grow to influence and enrich the lives of 5 000 children and youth each year. A compassionate and gentle man, Father Reynolds continued after his retirement to celebrate mass, to administer pastoral care and to visit patients at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. 


Marie Elizabeth Greig, Whitby, Ontario

Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award


Since the age of 12, Marie Greig has been answering the call to help her community. This multi-talented young woman makes things happen. She brings energy and enthusiasm to her volunteer work at the Fairview Lodge Home for the Aged and the Whitby Terry Fox Run, and she pursues numerous community endeavours through her continuing involvement in the Junior Civitan Club. This remarkable high-school student has initiated fundraising campaigns on behalf of local organizations, developing countries, and victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks. For the past eight years, Miss Greig has also volunteered at WindReach Farm, where recreational and educational activities are offered to visitors of all ages and abilities.

War 11 Malta Bomb in Church


Alex says:           


September 18, 2017 at 5:49 PM




Hi John, very little has been written about the Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Unit, but S.A.M Hudson has written a book titled UXB Malta. The book covers this story and reveals what it is like to work in Army bomb disposal in the most bombed place on Earth. Her father was one of the Officers in charge of incredibly only 2 bomb disposal teams on Malta during WW2.




I was fortunate to meet Susan Hudson during the revealing of the plaque to commemorate Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Unit at Upper Barrakka Gardens last week.




Joe IL-Mosti says:           


August 11, 2015 at 7:17 PM         




I was born in Mosta late in March of 1942 in an 8 hours air raid and according to my older sister I was baptized on the 9th April 1942 in the Mosta Dome at 4.00 pm, due to the fact that when my father took me to be baptize earlier, the priest wouldn’t baptize me then because my father was a Strickland voter and that was a no no in the eyes of the church in those days later he sent for my father to have me baptized on 9th April at 4.00 pm. At around 5.00 pm the bomb entered the Dome. Having said that, I do believe that in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s an old German tourist entered the church and he couldn’t stop crying, when approached by a priest as to why he was crying the tourist informed the priest that he never expected the church to still be in standing, as he was the Pilot that dropped the bombs on the church and as he said it was common practice that any bombs left in the bay after a raid it was common practice just to drop them anywhere, and when he released those bombs he never realized until too late that they were going on such a magnificent church. Up until the time that he visited that church he had lived with the guilt of having destroyed that church.


WALKING: The Joys of Walking, by Domhnall de Barra




I hated walking when I was young because, until we could afford a bicycle, it was our only way for getting from A to B. It started at an early age with a mile and a half walk to school in the morning and the same home every day. It wouldn’t stop there because we might have to go to the shop, another mile there and back, or even to the village which was three miles. I knew that I would have to go to the village on Fridays to pick up my grandmother’s pension at the post office. Imagine what would happen today if a schoolboy tried to pick up the pension – different times. It wasn’t so much the walking I resented but the weather. Rain gear wasn’t too good at the time so getting drenched was a regular occurrence. Anyway, as soon as I could I stopped walking. I had plenty of exercise playing games. When I went to England first I played rugby on Saturdays, soccer on Sunday mornings and Gaelic football or hurling on Sunday afternoon – sometimes both codes!  Add to that the fact that , after playing music at the Kerryman’s club in Coventry, I usually finished up at a dancehall until the small hours. There was no time to put on weight so on the day I got married I weighed in at 10 stone 7 pounds!  Gradually I “settled down” as they say and with regular home cooking, a few pints and a lack of exercise, the weight began to pile on until I was over 14 stone. We were never made aware of proper diet or the dangers of being overweight so there was no worries until I reached middle age and began to show all the symptoms of having prostate cancer. I went to the doctor and when the tests came back and he told me I had type 2 diabetes I was delighted. I didn’t know much about diabetes but it was the lesser of two evils and was manageable. I often say that I am sorry I didn’t get it years earlier because it forced me to rearrange my lifestyle and look after my health. The giving up of certain foods and drinks was difficult at the start but when I was told I should walk every day I dreaded it. Forty years of inactivity meant that I was anything but fit but I had no choice and took to the road. It wasn’t pleasant at the beginning but gradually it got easier and soon I actually began looking forward to my daily stroll. Unlike in my boyhood days, we now have good clothes and umbrellas so there is no excuse. I prefer weather that isn’t too warm and I don’t like high wind but otherwise I really enjoy walking. It gives me about an hour on my own with my own thoughts and quite often I find the answer to some problem while on the road. At other times I take in the beauty all around, on the hedgerows and in the fields and on the far off hillsides. There are a few lovely walks in the area. The most common one is the “slí na sláinte” route which passes both graveyards. This takes me roughly an hour to complete which is long enough for me. There is a slightly longer walk out the Glin road, down Dirreen to Barry’s Bridge and in the Low Road to the village. Nearer to my home there is a difficult “ring” as the locals call it, over to Cratloe school, up the branch to the Cnockeens and back to Knocknaboul. I don’t do this anymore because it takes too long and the climbing is too steep. I love walking up the Cnockeens. I park up at the start of the “council road” and walk up the hill. I turn right about a half mile up which takes me to the top of the hill. It is worth stopping here for a moment and looking at the view behind. I can see from Sugarhill and Barna through the rolling hills back to Abbeyfeale and Castleisland, all to the backdrop of the majestic Cork and Kerry mountains. I turn right at the top of the hill but, if one has the time a few steps should be taken in a northern direction. Suddenly there is a huge panorama of beauty spread out before the eyes. Half the parish of Athea can be seen and over the hills to the Shannon all the way back to Ballybunion. Across the Shannon, the hills of Clare can be plainly seen. On a good day it could take your breath away. Back then to where I turn right down towards the windmills. They too have their own beauty as the huge vanes turn gracefully in the wind. On either side of the road I can see the unique flowers and bushes of the boglands and the wildlife that dwells amongst them. The sound of birds fills the air at certain times of the year and sometimes the bog cotton or “ceannabhán” looks like a blanket of purest snow. Past the windmills I turn right again and go through a gate into the forest. There is a sudden change as the trees give shelter on both sides. There is a calmness and serenity about the almost enclosed space and a good time for reflection. Soon I am out of the forest and onto the road  by Patsy Martin’s house in Keale. From there I walk back the road to the car. On either side of the road there are trees planted  on the edge of the forest (most of it cut down) that bear beautiful clusters of red berries. All too soon my walk is over but I feel alive and invigorated by the experience.  This is only one walk and I am sure people have their own favourites that they might like to share with us. We are living in a most beautiful part of the country but because we are so familiar with it we take it for granted. It is no harm sometimes to stop and smell the roses, as it were. Yes, walking is great and, for me, a necessary exercise that keeps me reasonably fit for my age. All one needs for walking  is appropriate clothes and, most important, a really good pair of walking shoes. Do not go walking in a cheap pair of runners. They can do untold damage so it is well worth spending the extra few bob to have the support and comfort. The days I don’t walk I play golf, another marvellous way of exercising. I am on the course for about four hours using every part of the body. The shoulders and arms are used swinging the clubs as are the hips when driving off the tee. The back is bent over 100 times placing tees, picking up balls and placing markers and of course I have to walk from one end of the course to the other (about 11 km in Castleisland). There are other benefits to playing golf but that is a story for another day so, if you are not already a regular walker, please consider becoming one and experience the joys of an outdoor activity that is free and open to all.



MAUREEN’S TRIP:   Curraghmore House, Waterford is the historic house of the 9th Marquis who died February 22,  2015.  The Estate was owned by the de la Poer  (Power) family over 500 years, during which time the family gained the titles Baron L Poer (1535) and Viscount Decies and Earl of ‘Tyrone).  Curraghmore House is surrounded by 2,500 acres of formal gardens, woodlands and grazing fields making the largest private demesne in Ireland.




Gnarled pink Chestnut trees line the approach to the big house and orginal castle tower. St. Hubert’s Stag with crucifix between its antlers – genuine horns on the de la Poer family emblem – gazes  across the large courtyard from atop of the old castle.  Curragmore meaning great bog, is the last of the 4 castles built by the de la Poer family.




Shell House hidden in the shrubbery near the main house at Curraghmore is the most enchanting Shell House, created by Catherine Countess of Tyrone with ‘her proper’ hands in 1754.   The decoration of the folly took her 261 days to complete with shells from all over the world which were provided by the various Captains who left the very important Georgian Harbour at Waterford.  A recent scientific examination of the shells which adorn the walls of the Shell House has identified many exotic and rare varieties from far flung regions of the world’s oceans.   We will have a guided tour of the house, gardens and the Shell House.  We will have our usual refreshments breakfast and dinner on Sunday, April 22.  For more information and booking Contact Maureen 087 9845102.   We will pick up in Listowel, Duagh,  Abbeyfeale, Newcastlewest, Rathkeale, Adare and the South Court Hotel.


SAVED a boy; His name was Fleming and he was a poor Scottish farmer. One day he heard a cry for help coming from a nearby bog. He dropped his tools and ran to help.  He found a terrified boy up to his waste in black muck and screaming and struggling to free himself.  Farmer Fleming saved the boy. Next day a fancy carriage pulled up at the Scotsman’s sparse surroundings.  An elegant nobleman introduced himself as the father of the boy that farmer Fleming had saved.  I want to repay you said the nobleman.  No,  I can’t accept payment for what I did. At that moment the farmers own son came to the door of the family hovel.  “Is that your son?” the nobleman asked. “Yes” he proudly said. The nobleman offered him a level of education his own son would enjoy. If the lad is anything like his father, He’ll no doubt grow to be a man we are both proud of.  That he did.  Farmer Flemings’ son attended the best schools and graduated and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of Penicillin. The name of the nobleman was Lord Randolph Churchill.  His sons’ name? - - Sir Winston Churchill.


THOUGHT: Go through the next 24 hours as brilliantly, as truthfully, as clearly and as kindly as you possibly can!!


I am no longer my own, but thine.

Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.

Put me to doing, put me to suffering.

Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,

exalted for thee or brought low for thee.

Let me be full, let me be empty.

Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and heartily yield all things

to thy pleasure and disposal.

And now, O glorious and blessed God,

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.

And the covenant which I have made on earth,

let it be ratified in heaven. Amen

John Wesley

New Year's Covenant Prayer

THOUGHT: The true spirit of prayer does not consist in asking for blessings, but in receiving Him who is the giver of all blessing, and in living a life of fellowship with Him. Sadhu Sundar Singh.

“Beware in your prayers, above everything else, of limiting God, not only by unbelief, but by fancying that you know what He can do. Expect unexpected things "above all that we ask or think."

Andrew Murray.

Only when we have enough mental stress to force us to see our own bankruptcy of power, do we trust in God, and only when we trust in God can we make a contribution which will not collapse.

Kenneth L. Pike

THOUGHT: Have you ever noticed that Jesus is never recorded as taking a holiday? He retired for the purposes of his mission, not from it. He was never destroyed by his work; he was always on top of it. He moved among people as the Master of every situation. He was busier than anyone; the multitudes were always at him, yet he had time, for everything and everyone. He was never hurried, or harassed, or too busy. He had complete supremacy over time; he never let it dictate to him. He talked of "my time;" "my hour." He knew exactly when the moment had come for doing something and when it had not... a life lived in God is a life that masters time. One can see the distractions for what they are and centre down on the things that really matter. But of course this doesn't mean that Christians do less than other people. (Look at Jesus again, and think of those people - many of the busiest you have known - who have something of this quality.)

“A clay pot sitting in the sun will always be a clay pot. It has to go through the white heat of the furnace to become porcelain”. Mildred W. Struven

Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe’s inclusion on Time magazine’s 2014 list of the world’s 100 most influential people

Sister Rosemary is the first black nun to be named to this list of world leaders.



The history of Gaelic games in Canada, before the founding of the Gaelic Athletic Association in Ireland in 1884 and in the years since, proves a determination by Irish immigrants who have arrived in numerous provinces of Canada. Through their dedication the flag of Irish sports has flown strong, and will continue to fly in the years to come.

Author biographical note

John O’Flynn’s father, Thomas O’Flynn (Kilmeedy, County Limerick), first came to Toronto in 1953, and his late mother, Elizabeth (nee O’Keeffe) (Duagh, County Kerry), arrived together as a married couple in 1962 to British Columbia.

John’s parents introduced him to Ireland’s national games of Gaelic Football and Hurling with the members of the Vancouver Irish Sporting and Social Club. He had the opportunity to represent the club and play Gaelic Football in two North American County Board Championships: 1984 Boston and 1985 Chicago. He attended the founding meeting in Toronto of the Canadian County Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association in 1987 and currently serves as Secretary.

Read more:

Bishop Brendan writing on Pope John Paul 11

who visited Limerick in 1979 said The Eucharist,

the Rosary and his devotion to the Holy Spirit

were important in his journey to Holiness.”

The Spirit made him a man of dialogue as we

saw in the famous 1986 Assisi meeting of the

leaders of the world’s religions. It was at the prompting of the

Spirit that John Paul found courage to confront issues of justice,

solidarity and peace as seen in his dealings with Communism and

in his approach to the War in Iraq. It was the Spirit, ‘the Giver of

Life’, who emboldened John Paul to be the great promoter of the

Gospel of Life, the dignity of the human person, and the importance of culture.

It was the Spirit who prompted him, in the concluding days of his

Life’s journey in holiness, to whisper;

‘Let me go to the house of the Father’.

The Great Father

There’s wideness in God’s mercy

Like the wildness of the sea;

There’s a kindness in His justice,

Which is more than liberty.

There is no place where earth’s sorrow

Are more felt then up in Heaven:

There is no place where earth’s failings

Have such kind judgment given.

For the love of God is broader

Than the measures of man’s mind,

And the heart of the Eternal

Is most wonderfully kind.

But we make His love too narrow

By false limits of our own;

And we magnify His strictness

With zeal He will not own

If our love were but more simple,

We should take Him at His word,

And our lives would be all sunshine

In the sweetness of Our Lord.

From Knockdown News

Sounds of Summer

Rocking in my garden seat

Creaking gently to and fro

Watching life continuing on

Like a stream in constant flow.

Listening to the chirping birds

Busy at their daily tasks

The leaves are whispering in the breeze

A honeybee goes buzzing past.

A tractor drones in a neighbour’s field

Boasting of a busy day

Taking advantage of the sun

Cutting silage, turning hay.

A cow concerned for her calf

Calls him back with a gentle moo

The clothes are flapping on the line

Peaceful times like this are few.

Children play out on the lawn

Sending out their squeals of joy

Laughing, singing, cheering on

Their playmates in a rugby try.

I close my eyes to appreciate

The restful sounds that I can hear

It’s easy to believe in God

When His presence is so near!

THOUGHT: You can’t take anything with you

A man was dying, and when he realised it he saw God coming closer with a suitcase in his hand. God said “All right my friend, it’s time to go”

Surprised, the man asked “Now? So soon? I had a lot of plans….”

“I’m sorry, but it time to go” God insisted.

“What do you have in that suitcase?” the man asked

God answered: “Your belongings”

“My belongings. You mean my things, my clothes and my money?

God answered: “Those things were not yours – they belonged to the earth” “Is it my memories” the man asked.

“Those never belonged to you they belonged to Time” God reminded him.

“Is it my talents” “Those were never yours, they belonged to me and to circumstances” God said. “Is it my body?” God answered: “That was never yours, it belonged to creation”

“Is it my soul?” “No, that is mine” God replied, with great patience.

The man took the suitcase from God and opened it, only to discover it was empty.

Utterly shocked and in great distress, the man said: “I never had anything” “That is correct” said God.

“Only the moment you lived was yours. Enjoy life and what you have but never forget you cannot take anything with you”

Bishop Leahy Limerick April 2013

Bishop Leahy


Bishop Brendan Leahy address at the Conclusion of t

he Episcopal Ordination

Ceremony, St. John’s Cathedral, Limerick

Today has been a wonderful celebration. It is simpl

y impossible to thank

adequately everyone who should be thanked.

Firstly, I would like to thank each of you for comi


You can only imagine how much work has gone into ev

ery little detail of what

we have seen, heard, touched and experienced today.

I’m sure Jesus will say to all

concerned: “you do it to me” and he will respond in

the way he knows best to each

one. Everything has been done with good cheer and s

o God must be pleased because

he loves a cheerful giver.

I want to express my gratitude for all that has bee

n achieved in this diocese

over many years under my predecessor Bishop Donal M

urray whom I greet warmly. I

want also to say "thanks" for all that has been don

e in these recent three years by

the administrator Fr. Tony Mullins, along with Fr.

Paul Finnerty, Fr. Eamonn

Fitzgibbon and so many of the diocesan offices, age

ncies and, especially, the clergy.

So now, I and all of us together are beginning agai

n. A new chapter in our

diocesan history is opening. I’ll share one or two

thoughts on that.

The other day I was eavesdropping on a conversation

, one that you too have

overheard many times. One person was saying to the

other: “I will give you the keys”

but then added “I’ll build”.... You might guess the

conversation I’m referring to – it

was the one between Jesus and Peter that we find in

the Gospel. Jesus says to Peter,

“on this rock I will build my church” . For me pers

onally as I set out as Bishop of

Limerick you can’t imagine what a relief it is to h

ear Jesus say: “


will build”! He has

promised he’ll do his part.

If Jesus builds, what have we to do? Our part is to

let Jesus build his Church by

our love for one another, giving our contribution s

o that he can work through us


renewing the world we live in. Where should we sta

rt? I was struck recently by the

words of Pope Francis when he says: “start from the

outskirts”. Each of us has

regions that are “outskirts” – people who are diffe

rent from us or who we find hard

to get on with; groups that we dislike because they

have different views than ours;

areas that we simply ignore, causes that we know ar

e right but feel lazy about

getting involved in. It’s with trust in Jesus who b

uilds, that we can give our reply to

the great question put to Peter in the Gospel: “Do

you love me?” “Do you love?” It’s

the most profound question in life. In today’s Gosp

el we have heard an invitation to

love “more” and in this way build the Church; and t

hat also means to love more

those who are on the outskirts, broken and marginal


I know that many will say “but I am only hanging on

in faith by my fingernails”.

For some it is really difficult to believe. A fello

w Irishman, Bono, wrote a song some

years ago now. Its words ran something like this: “

I have climbed highest mountains;

I have run through the fields; Only to be with you,

Only to be with you; I have run, I

have crawled, I have scaled these city walls, These

city walls, Only to be with you; But

I still haven't found what I'm looking for”.

I don’t know what Bono had in mind but these words

can be applied to the

situation many find themselves in with regard to fa

ith. Moments of difficulty are

written into the Christian journey of faith. How ma

ny saints and exemplary men and

women throughout the centuries have told us about s

hadowy moments they lived

through. We can think of the Irish woman and martyr

, Margaret Ball, Teresa of

Lisieux, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the philosopher

, Simon Weil, the young Jewish

woman, Etty Hillesum, the recently beatified teenag

er, Chiara Luce Badano... We can

only imagine how much Mary, Jesus’ mother, went thr

ough many trials of faith along

her journey.

Darkness in our faith journey can affect us individ

ually but also as a group, as a

community, as a Church. We know only too well of ho

w many innocent people suffer

terrible darkness because of clerical abuse. I want

to make their pain my own and

seek forgiveness seventy times seven. It is a deep

wound also for all of us.

I have been greatly consoled in getting to know how

much has been done in

the diocese in the area of child safeguarding. I am

deeply indebted to the high

professionalism of the many lay men and women invol

ved in our diocesan structures

in this regard as in many areas of the diocese. It

was good to read the observation

made in the Audit by the National Board for Safegua

rding Children in the Catholic


Church in Ireland that the diocese of Limerick has

robust measures in place in the

area of child safeguarding and protection.

We know from the Christian spiritual tradition that

trials in the life of faith can

be a prelude to a new dawn of light and love. Perha

ps we can draw inspiration from

another conversation Jesus had, this time with Phil

ip in John’s Gospel. In reply to

Philip who asked him to show us God the Father, Jes

us says: “to those who love me I

will reveal myself” and so we will discover God. In

other words, love has eyes. Love

gives light. To those of us hanging on by our fing

ernails, we are invited to hang on in

there, and keep on loving, looking around for those

“outskirt” people, areas and

projects that we can reach out to in love. Jesus sa

id: “Whatever you do to the least

you do to me”. If we love those on the outskirts –

and these can be people close to

us too, like members of our family, or work colleag

ues, Jesus promises we will have

light. He repeated this often - he would give light

to those who go outside

themselves to love him in the least, in the poor, i

n the neighbour, in the wounded:

“those who love me will be loved by my Father, and

I will love them and reveal

myself to them” (Jn 14:20).

I want to thank the whole diocese, parishes and rel

igious communities for the

great outpouring of prayer to the Holy Spirit for m

e and the diocese in recent

months. I thank especially the young people and the

ir teachers for their daily

prayers. I am greatly humbled by all the encouragem

ent that has surrounded me in

these days and weeks.

I now feel I am a Limerick man! Limerick is beautif

ul. I’ll have to start wearing

the Limerick colours!

I am proud to be bishop of this great diocese with

such an ancient history. As a

diocese we want to do our part also today to make a

ll of Limerick even greater, as I

believe and hope we do, day in, day out, in countle

ss communities of faith and love

in parishes, religious orders, communities and move

ments, schools, hospitals and

social initiatives. In so many ways, people are rep

lying positively to Jesus’ question:

“do you love me?” Today let’s renew our love of him

even more; let’s bridge to make

Limerick even more beautiful, so that others will c

ome and see Jesus living among



The beautiful white flower of the lily symbolises innocence, purity, virtue, hope and life - the spiritual essence of Easter. Legend has it that white lilies were found growing in the Garden of Gethsemane after Christ's agony. It is said that beautiful white lilies sprung up where the droplets of Christ's sweat fell to the ground in his final hours of sorrow before he was led away to be crucified on Good Friday. We continue this tradition at Easter time by having white lilies at the altar in the church, commemorating Christ's resurrection and hope in life everlasting for us with Him.

Great news: Kerry Group announced 800 new jobs to be created in a new R&D plant in Naas.

Published on Tuesday 9 October 2012 16:12

Having started out as a local dairy co-operative, Kerry Group is now a world leader in food ingredients and flavours.

The group’s origins date back to 1972 when they opened a dairy processing facility in Listowel, Co Kerry.

The company started out with a workforce of about 40 people and reported profits of €127,000 on a turnover of €1.3 million in it’s first year.

Today, Kerry Group employs more than 24,000 people around the world and generated revenue of €5.3 billion in 2011. They supply over 15,000 food, food ingredients and flavour products to customers in more than 140 countries.

This is made possible by Kerry’s manufacturing facilities in 25 countries and international sales offices in 20 other countries.

Headquartered in Tralee, Kerry Group is listed on the Dublin and London stock markets, having launched as a public company in 1986.

The group makes several well-known household brands, including Denny, Galtee, Shaws, Cheestrings, Charleville, Mitchelstown, LowLow and Dairygold.

- Liam Godinho

Somebody’s Mother

By Mary D. Brine

The woman was old and ragged and gray,

And bent with the chill of a winter’s day;

The streets were white with a recent snow,

And the woman’s feet with age were slow.

At the crowded crossing she waited long,

Jostled aside by the careless throng

Of human beings who passed her by.

Unheeding the glance of her anxious eye.

Down the street with laughter and shout.

Glad in the freedom of “school let out,”

Come happy boys, like a flock of sheep,

Hailing the snow piled white and deep;

Past the woman, so old and gray.

Hastened the children on their way.

None offered a helping hand to her,

So weak and timid, afraid to stir,

Lest the carriage wheels or the horses’ feet

Should trample her down in the slippery street.

At last came out of the merry troop

The gayest boy of all the group;

He paused beside her and whispered low,

“I’ll help you across, if you wish to go.”

Her aged hand on his strong young arm

She placed, and so without hurt or harm

He guided the trembling feet along,

Proud that his own were young and strong;

Then back again to his friends he went,

His young heart happy and well content

“She’s somebody’s mother, boys, you know,

For all she’s aged, and poor and slow;

And some one, some time, may lend a hand

To help my mother—you understand?—

If ever she’s old and poor and gray,

And her own dear boy so far away.”

“Somebody’s mother” bowed low her head

In her home that night, and the prayer she said

Was: “God be kind to that noble boy,

Who is somebody’s son and pride and joy.”

Posted by Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur on November 21st, 2011

I am thankful for . . .

1. The health of my family.

2. Taking naps on the couch or in the backyard.

3. Driving the scenic route.

4. Community events open to the public.

5. My (flawed) relationships with God and my family, both immediate and extended. Flawed relationships are much better than none at all!

6. My wife and I have grown together and I am constantly grateful and impressed as she matures.

7. The Word of God.

8. Brief and productive meetings.

9. Quilts and blankets, to keep me warm.

10. My wonderful family and for my best friend, who has always been there with quiet support, encouragement, and words of wisdom, through thick and thin since the day we met.

11. The incredible diversity of people on this planet.

12. Co-workers who don’t mind switching their days off to help you out.

13. Toys.

14. Dirty dishes because it means we have eaten. Thank you for baby giggles; they keep me sane.

15. That God made me.

16. Teddy bears.

17. The feel of a child’s hand in mine.

18. Waking up when you need to even when the alarm doesn’t go off.

19. Babies.

20. The day being silent now that it’s over for the little ones.

21. Movies and CDs being available at libraries.

22. The convenience of e-mail.

23. Wrinkle-free clothing.

24. Christmas lights.

25. Friends who care about me enough to tell me when I am being stupid.

26. Our Veterans.

27. Books, because I can experience the world, learn new things, laugh, cry and connect without ever leaving my couch.

28. My job, especially in this economy.

29. Religious leaders.

30. Volunteers.

31. A cup of hot cocoa on a cold day.

32. Family and friends; love them all!

33. The smell of homemade desserts baking in the oven.

34. Listening to beautiful music.

35. Friends meeting over a cup of tea; a fire in the hearth; a friendly game of Scrabble.

36. My kids, who can always make me laugh.

37. Being friends with my parents.

38. Every member of my family, especially for my mom who is a constant source of support, encouragement and friendship.

39. Enjoyable conversation between friends.

40. Hugs.

41. My family, having a job, having health insurance, and being loved as much as I am.

42. My health, even if I complain about certain aches and pains!

43. My family, my fiancé and being able to go to college.

44. Having a roof over my head.

45. Finding a dollar in an old coat you haven’t worn in years.

46. Enjoyable hobbies and pursuits in life.

47. The forgiveness of God.

48. Schools and colleges.

49. A dictionary & thesaurus, both within arm’s reach.

50. Repairing an object yourself and having it come out perfectly.

September 15, 2010

From: Matt

To: Colin, Charlie

Here’s a thought… we all have a reasonable amount of disposable income to invest. I say we push this talk into a seriously productive conversation and put our money where our mouth is. Let’s START A BUSINESS.


This was taken from an actual email that I sent out to my friends, and now business partners, just over a year ago. At the time, all of us were at work, and in the process of catching up on life via email. We started out with the pretty typical topics of conversation: weekends, women (or lack thereof), and sports. However, as shown above, the dialogue quickly turned. This topic was born out of a frustration of sitting on the sidelines while success stories kept popping up around us.


I’d love to see where WE could go in 1 – 2 months if we actually started brainstorming and developing an idea, investing, and letting it roll… I mean, how nice would it be for all of us to earn some extra bucks on the side for the very same amount of time we spend staying in touch. We need to get off our asses and put something together.


It was a simple challenge: stop talking and start doing. Within two hours our group had thrown out more than a handful of good ideas. By the end of the day, the foundation for an investment in ourselves had been established. After all, daydreaming is the fun part: it costs nothing, demands little, and the possibilities are endless.

Yet, starting a business is never easy. With that being said, technology has afforded our generation the ability to create businesses much more efficiently and cheaply than ever before. By capitalizing on outsourcing and the power of the internet, creating a business in which you simply have to manage the moving parts is within reach for most of us.

Besides, becoming a small business entrepreneur has never been so enticing. Let’s face it–in this economy it can be hard to find a traditional job, much less any job. For those who have lost their jobs in corporate America, entrepreneurship can create an opportunity for financial independence by allowing you to become your own boss. Even for those who have steady jobs or a main career objective, starting a business on the side can create another stream of income to help build wealth and give you options for your future.

In one of my earlier posts, I detailed my own model for self-publishing my book, Have Her Over for Dinner. The positive feedback received from readers such as you made it clear that being open about the wins, losses, mistakes, failures, and triumphs of my own endeavors can help motivate you to push forward on your own goals and dreams.

So, here’s a look behind the scenes of my latest venture, Moonshine; a gentleman’s cologne.

(MONTHS 1 – 3)


Why cologne? Good question. I prefer being the underdog in a world full of corporate players that are “too big to be good.” Similar to Brett–I’m sure many people balked at his idea of creating another men’s blog–especially considering the competition in the marketplace. Two books later, and with hundreds of thousands of loyal readers and fans, his success is proof positive that being the biggest isn’t always necessarily the best.

Besides, I think wearing cologne is manly. And despite what great marketing execs may say, I didn’t feel like I needed a big-time celebrity to tell me what I should smell like. Instead, we thought the market could support an independent cologne that smelled great, without all of the hype.


There’s an old saying: “If you want to lose a friend, go into business with them.” Before becoming involved with business partners (especially friends), you should be clear on each other’s personality types, business sense, and overall goals for the business. Without exception, a legal contract should be executed by each party which clearly outlines responsibilities and rewards for each individual. In my experience, most partnerships fail due to a lack of communication. Similar to personal relationships, if you do not communicate with your business partners, issues are bound to arise. One person feels as though he is putting in more work than the other. The other person questions spending habits or business practices. These issues can be solved with open and effective communication. In the end, focus on the positives, and let business be business.

With the idea in hand, my friends and I got to talking specifics. It soon became apparent that we would need to be able to switch between friendship and business mode when analyzing what each person could viably bring to the table.

For this venture, I partnered with two friends from college, Colin and Charlie. Colin is an attorney in Dallas, TX, so he was able to handle all of the business set-up and contract work that was required for such a start-up–saving us thousands of dollars. Charlie sells insurance in NC and is also a part-time model. He was able to acquire product liability insurance on the cheap, in addition to connecting us with other wholesalers in the fashion industry. Me? Well, I finally got to use my degree in International Business and French when it came time to sourcing cologne in France or products abroad. In essence, we created our business, product, and partnership around each other’s strengths.

Yet there was one thing we were all lacking–knowledge of the fragrance industry. Instead of worrying about what we didn’t know–giving us an excuse to NOT move forward–we worked through it. In fact, it became a strength of our product to not constrain ourselves by what we deemed as the “status quo” in the industry. If you want a celebrity endorsement or a half-naked man peddling cologne to you, we are not your guys, and Moonshine is not your cologne.

(MONTH 3 – 6)


It’s one thing to have a great idea, but it’s another thing to see if that idea is actually viable in the market. Technology allows us to quickly access potential competitors, markets, and opportunities. A simple internet search will give you the opportunity to research all aspects of your business including potential suppliers, wholesalers, retailers, etc.–depending on your business model. During this phase, you can also begin to estimate risk vs. return. You should be able to accurately portray how much you stand to lose or win on an investment before moving forward.

Now was the time to start doing some research. During our testing phase, we found out pretty quickly that most of our demographic (stores, press, critics, buyers, etc.) wouldn’t give our product a second look unless it was made in France. Although quotes for producing the product domestically turned out to be much cheaper, in the end we decided to partner with a parfumeur in Grasse, France. This provided credibility in the marketplace.

This is also the phase where you can afford to make mistakes. We ordered samples from suppliers to test out potential bottles, caps, labels, etc. After countless sample orders, we at last settled on a final product . . .

But something went wrong. Our bottle supplier ended up running out of our choice of bottle before we could order. It was a major mishap, as all of our packaging, labels, caps, and “look” of the brand had been built around the bottle. After scouring the internet–and contacting suppliers around the world–we actually ended up finding a new bottle that we liked even more. What boils down to two short sentences now, was actually two long months of additional cold calls, uncertainty, and frustration. In other words, be ready for surprises. Take on challenges one at a time and don’t let one issue steer the entire ship off course.

After getting final estimates on the cost of cologne, bottles, boxes, caps, and all of our other supplies, we put together a simple Excel spreadsheet to analyze our risk vs. return.

In the end, the numbers made sense (down to the dollar, actually). It was time to move forward.


After careful deliberation, finding the right business relationships, and testing the viability and potential return of the idea–it’s time to put your money where your mouth is–seriously. Until that money is laid out on the line, you will continue to let time, work, family, friends, weekends, and relationships push back a potential gold mine of an idea. I actually learned this very important lesson in business from running marathons. Until my money for the race was paid, I never actually trained that hard. Same thing in business–once you lay out the cash, your instincts are to find a way to get it back.

We set up a bank account, giving everyone in the partnership access to the online banking profile (transparency). In addition, our email account and websites were all set up so that we could all access each other’s profiles to view all of the “goings on” from each partner. Of course, this is a personal choice–most of us travel so regularly that we wanted to be able to quickly access each other’s accounts if something was needed on the fly. However, every relationship and business is different, and privacy and trust should be addressed and respected.

(MONTHS 6 – 9)


It’s time to go to work.

We decided to base our operations out of Greensboro, NC (Charlie’s home). We had access to free storage (Charlie’s parents’ basement), and Charlie’s flexible work schedule allowed him to take charge of fulfillment and shipping. We determined that it was much cheaper to do the physical labor of filling, bottling, and packaging ourselves, so Colin and I flew to Greensboro to assist Charlie. On top of that, this idea, this side business, this grandiose figment of a plan, had somehow transformed into more than just an investment of our money–it was an experience. We all wanted to be together to bring that first bottle into existence.

Then there was the work–and lots of it! After a long weekend of bottling product, shooting photos, building a website, and drinking a few beers–we were now in business.


Now that you have a product and business, it’s time to go let the world know about it. This is the time where you will hear the word “no” more than you’ve ever heard it before in your entire life. I mentioned in my previous article that I set a goal of getting at least 10 “no’s” each day–that way I knew I was working hard enough. Depending on your business, people are going to shoot down your ideas all of the time. Use that negative energy as motivation to make something positive.

Armed with product in hand, we went to work reaching out to stores and press outlets. Let’s face it–cold calling is tough, but it’s par for the course. Remain persistent by following up with phone calls, emails, etc. until you get your yes–or no.

Fortunately, we knew this idea was going to be successful pretty early on. Having set our sights on the top independent men’s stores throughout the country, we were only a week’s worth of sales calls in, and we’d landed our product in over 80% of our target stores. Trust me, this was not due to slick sales tactics, rather it was the result of our tedious research and testing. In the end, the hardest part of the sales process was simply finding the right buyer–not pushing the product.

Regarding publicity–I would argue that having a solid online campaign is more successful these days than the traditional route of magazines, newspapers, and television. Of course, getting a spot on the TODAY show never hurts!

It’s important to also know your limitations. Macy’s isn’t, and shouldn’t be, knocking on our door. We knew from day one that where we placed our product was just as important as the product itself. By defining success in attainable limits centered on branding, and not buyers, we’ve set ourselves up for those higher aspirations down the road.

By Hank Pellissier

Can you name a famous person in Finland? Historical episode? Imposing landmark? Foodstuff? It’s not that Finland doesn’t have its share of Olympic athletes, brilliant architects, and technology moguls, but "Nokia" is all most people can mutter when asked about this small northern nation.

Unless you're a teacher. Then the word "Finland" fills you with awe. Because everyone in the schooling profession knows that Finland is the international all-star of education.

How can you work some Finnish magic at home?

(1) DIY university: Teach self-reliance. You may see school as children’s primary job, but don’t downplay the learning they receive from taking care of themselves and contributing to the family. Give kids meaningful responsibilities, and avoid doing for them what they can do for themselves.

(2) Don’t dis the teach: Respect your child’s teacher. Not necessarily because he or she deserves it, but because it’s good for your child’s education. Honoring teachers sends a message about the value of education as a whole.

(3) Compare and you will despair: Set high expectations for your child but refrain from making discouraging comparisons to other students and schools. Focus on their learning, not how it measures up to others'.

(4) Study smart, not for eternity: If hours upon hours of homework is getting in the way of your child’s love of learning, talk to the teacher about the problem.

In 2006 the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) conducted a survey of 15-year-olds' academic skills from 57 nations. Finland placed first in science by a whopping 5% margin, second in math (edged out by one point by Chinese Taipei), and third in reading (topped by South Korea).

Comparisons that involve so many variables are ... difficult. Some might say impossible. Still, just a glance at PISA's scores year after year prompts the question: How does Finland churn out so many avid learners?

"No sweat," except in the saunas

At first glance, the Finnish educational system looks like it would only produce hippie slackers. Check out the casual amenities: Schools often have lounges with fireplaces but no tardy bells. Finnish students don't wear uniforms, nor do they often wear shoes. (Since Finns go barefoot inside the home, and schools aspire to offer students a nurturing, homey environment, the no-shoe rule has some pedagogical logic.) And although academic standards are high, there’s not the grind one associates with high-performance schooling. Never burdened with more than half an hour of homework per night, Finnish kids attend school fewer days than 85% of other developed nations (though still more than Americans), and those school days are typically short by international standards.

Finnish teachers enjoy an equally laid-back arrangement. They work an average of 570 hours a year, nearly half the U.S. total of 1,100 hours. They also dress casually and are usually called by their first names (Aino, Helmi, Viivi, Eetu, etc.).

Is the secret massive financial investment? No. Finland spends only $7,500 per student, considerably less than the United States' average $8,700.

So how does Finland produce the world's best young scholars via minimal hours and cash? Since PISA began ranking nations and revealing Finland’s special sauce, plane-loads of inquisitive teachers from every corner of the globe have been making pilgrimages to this educational mecca. Here’s a taste of what they've observed:

The Gains of Drudgery

From The Making of Manhood, 1894

By William James Dawson

By drudgery, I mean work that in itself is not pleasant, that has no immediate effect in stimulating our best powers, and that only remotely serves the purpose of our general advancement. Such a definition may not be perfect, but it expresses with reasonable accuracy what we usually understand by the term.

Now, if this is what we mean by drudgery, it is clear that we are all drudges. We all have to do many things, day by day, which we would rather not do. Even in the callings that seem to present the most perfect correspondence between gifts and work, such as those of the writer or the artist, drudgery dogs the heels of all progress…We show some perception of these facts in our common sayings, that easy writing makes hard reading, and what costs a man little is usually worth little. But few of us have any adequate sense of the immense toil which lies behind the brilliant successes of the great artist or famous writer. And the same thing might be said of the lives of great statesmen, politicians, reformers, merchants, and memorable men in all walks of life. Examine such lives, and the amount of prolonged toil which lies behind all the glitter of public fame is enormous, and to the indolent even appalling. If any man of the Elizabethan period gives the impression of having achieved great things with a certain airy ease and instinctive facility of touch, it is Walter Raleigh. Yet it was of Raleigh that Elizabeth said, “he could toil terribly.” The same thing may be said of every great man, so that it is small wonder that we have learned to believe that genius itself is simply an infinite capacity for taking pains.

When a man grumbles about the drudgery of his lot, then I am entitled to conclude that he has not learned the discipline of work, and that it is native indolence rather than suppressed genius which chafes against the limitations of his environment. Browning, in his poem of The Statue and the Bust, has laid down the doctrine that it is a man’s wisdom to contend to the uttermost even for the meanest prize that may be within his reach, because by such strenuous contention manhood grows, and by the lack of it manhood decays.

The clerk who does not strive to be the best clerk in the office, the carpenter who is not emulous of being the best carpenter in the workshop, is not likely to achieve excellence in any other pursuit for which he imagines his superior talents better fitted….I have little faith in the youth who is always crying out against his condition, and telling an incredulous world what great things he could do if his lot were different. The boast of general talents for everything usually resolves itself into particular talents for nothing. The incompetent clerk, in nine cases out of ten, would be equally incompetent as writer, artist, or speaker. If I were adjured to help a youth to some sphere supposed to be better suited to his gifts, I should first of all need to be convinced that he had performed faithfully the duties of the inferior sphere in which he found himself. The superior talent always shows itself in the superior performance of inferior duties. It is the man who is faithful in little things to whom there is given authority over larger things. He who has never learned the art of drudgery is never likely to acquire the faculty of great and memorable work, since the greater a man is, the greater is his power of drudgery.

But the gains of drudgery are not seen only in the solid successes of life, but in their effect upon the man himself. Let me take in illustration a not infrequent case. Suppose a man gives up his youth to the struggle for some coveted degree, some honour or award of the scholarly life. It is very possible that when he obtains that for which he has struggled, he may find that the joy of possession is not so great as the joy of the strife. It is part of the discipline of life that we should be educated by disillusion; we press onward to some shining summit, only to find that it is but a bastion thrown out by a greater mountain, which we did not see, and that the real summit lies far beyond us still. But are we the worse for the struggle? No; we are manifestly the better, for by whatever illusion we have been led onward, it is at least clear that without the illusion we should not have stood as high as we do. So a man may either fail or succeed in gaining the prize which he covets; but he cannot help being the gainer in himself. He has not attained, but he has fitted himself for attaining. It is better to fail in achieving a great thing than to succeed in achieving a little one, and the struggle that fails is, in any case, to be preferred to the stolidity which never aspires. And why? Because the struggle is sure to develop certain great and noble qualities in ourselves. Thus, though such a man may not gain the prize he sought, he has gained a command over his chance desires, a discipline of thought, a power of patient application, a steadiness of will and purpose, which will stand him in good stead throughout whatever toils his life may know in the hidden years which lie before it. And even if he gain the prize he sought, the real prize is found not in a degree, a certificate, a brief taste of applause on a commemoration day, but in the deeper strength of soul, the wider range of wisdom, which the long discipline of unflagging effort has taught him. So true is this, that Lessing, who was among the wisest of thinkers, said, that if he had to choose between the attainment of truth and the search for truth, he would prefer the latter. The true gain is always in the struggle, not the prize. What we become must always rank as a far higher question than what we get.

Michael Cook | Monday, 22 August 2011

tags : Benedict XVI, World Youth Day

7 reasons for good cheer after Madrid

Who cares if the media ignored World Youth Day?

Last year at this time the Catholic Church was licking its wounds after its biggest public relations shellacking in many years. Newspaper columnists sneered that the scandal caused by a few priest paedophiles was the beginning of the end. Its followers were so disgusted that they were said to be turning in their membership cards.

But if that pessimistic reading of the tea leaves was true, how do you explain the presence of two million young people in Madrid over the weekend to listen to an 83-year-old German Pope? They were all aware of the vile actions of a handful of rogue priests but these had not shaken their confidence in the Church or its leader.

So, if you are a Catholic sympathiser, World Youth Day 2011 gave abundant reasons for hope. Here are 7 of them.

The younger generation gets the Church

The 2 million young people who attended made an impressive effort to back up their convictions. While most of the pilgrims came from Spain and nearby France and Italy, there were hundreds from countries like Australia and New Zealand. About 150 came from Russia! The sacrifice of paying for a long and trip and uncomfortable accommodation shows that they were firmly committed to being part of the Catholic Church.

Contrast that with the World Youth Summit organised by the United Nations in New York. Admittedly UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has the charisma of a wilted lettuce, but this worthy gathering drew only a few hundred people. Whose ideas are going to be passed on to the next generation?

Benedict XVI is setting the moral agenda

Last week Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron reacted to the riots in London and other big English cities by decrying moral relativism. “What last week has shown is that this moral neutrality, this relativism – it’s not going to cut it any more.” Exactly. A free set of steak knives if you can name the first major world figure to hammer away at the “tyranny of relativism”!

Benedict XVI. The Pope has made it respectable to reject the political correctness which undermines moral striving. Obviously world leaders are listening.

Remember Cameron’s farewell words to the Pope after his state visit to the UK last year? “You have really challenged the whole country to sit up and think,” he said. It looks like Cameron sat up and thought. His response to the riots came straight from Benedict’s playbook.

A one-man think tank works for free

A fascinating essay in last week’s New York Times by film critic Neal Gabler lamented the death of in-depth thinking: “we are living in an increasingly post-idea world — a world in which big, thought-provoking ideas that can’t instantly be monetized are of so little intrinsic value that fewer people are generating them and fewer outlets are disseminating them, the Internet notwithstanding. Bold ideas are almost passé.”

Maybe in New York, but not in Rome. Gabler obviously hasn’t read much of Benedict XVI on morality, philosophy, aesthetics, economics and social responsibility. But many of the Pope’s young fans have. In a world where ideas no longer sparkle, his explode with possibilities. And they’re free. Any bets on what the next generation will be thinking?

A way out of the global financial crisis

Benedict got there first. With the world economy on the verge of meltdown, people are looking for answers. Surely at the root of the crisis is something more than mismanagement of economic levers. Surely economics is about more than statistics and money.

Well, that is exactly what Benedict (and his predecessors) have been saying. As he told journalists in a press conference in the flight from Rome to Madrid: “[We see] confirmed in the present economic crisis what has already been seen in the great preceding crisis: that an ethical dimension is not something exterior to economic problems, but an interior and fundamental dimension. The economy does not function with mercantile self-regulation alone, but it has need of an ethical reason to function for man.”

A thumbs-down to dehumanising sex and consumerism

The greatest question of the last 200 years is: what is true freedom? To do whatever I want? Or to live according to the truth? What our society offers young people is the freedom to consume until their credit cards max out, to have sex whenever they want with whomever they want, to live undisturbed in a solipsistic bubble. But this vision of man degrades him, Benedict says. Happiness comes only from discovering the truth. Many young people are disillusioned with the South Park culture they live in and what the Pope says makes a lot of sense to anyone who wants to build a better world.

“The discovery of the living God inspires young people and opens their eyes to the challenges of the world in which they live, with its possibilities and limitations. They see the prevailing superficiality, consumerism and hedonism, the widespread banalization of sexuality, the lack of solidarity, the corruption. They know that, without God, it would be hard to confront these challenges and to be truly happy, and thus pouring out their enthusiasm in the attainment of an authentic life. But, with God beside them, they will possess light to walk by and reasons to hope, unrestrained before their highest ideals, which will motivate their generous commitment to build a society where human dignity and true brotherhood are respected.”

Truth is more powerful than number-cruching

Benedict’s most memorable speech in Spain was to university lecturers at that jewel of Spanish architecture, El Escorial. As a professor himself, he spoke with passionate conviction about the need to offer students more than training in the nuts and bolts of professional work. “As Plato said: ‘Seek truth while you are young, for if you do not, it will later escape your grasp’. This lofty aspiration is the most precious gift which you can give to your students, personally and by example. It is more important than mere technical know-how, or cold and purely functional data.”

Universities, he said, should be a sanctuary from ideology or “a purely utilitarian and economic conception which would view man solely as a consumer”. What could be more attractive to young people than seeking the ultimate meaning in the universe and striving to understand what it means to be authentically human? If there is one bold passé idea, it’s utilitarianism. And Benedict offers an alternative.

World Youth Day is still the world’s best-kept secret

A journalist friend of mine wrote an op-ed piece for a newspaper in Sydney. But the editor wasn’t interested. “We had one of those in Sydney three years ago. That just about filled our quota,” he was told. The New York Times – the touchstone of elite opinion in the US – barely reported World Youth Day.

Really, this is peculiar -- a gathering of 2 million young people is not news, especially after a few hundred in the same age bracket trashed London? Isn’t anyone out there connecting the dots?

But why kvetch? The media and the intelligentsia are good at froth and bubble, but abysmal at deep undercurrents. Did they predict the rise of militant Islam, the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the fizzing of the Population Bomb or the Global Financial Crisis?

The biggest stories are the hidden stories. Benedict XVI knows this. As he told journalists, “God's sowing is always silent; it does not appear in the statistics, and the seed that the Lord sows with World Youth Day is like the seed of which the Gospel speaks: part falls on the road and is lost; part falls on stone and is lost; part falls on thorns and is lost; but a part falls on good earth and gives much fruit.”

Unnoticed by the media, 2 million young people have embarked upon a journey which will lead many of them to infuse their home countries with their deeply held Christian beliefs. Slowly the world is going to change. Thirty years from now, the media is going to have one hell of a surprise.

Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet.

by David Brooks, a columnist for The New York Times.

“If you sample some of the commencement addresses being broadcast on C-Span these days, you see that many graduates are told to: Follow your passion, chart your own course, march to the beat of your own drummer, follow your dreams and find yourself. This is the litany of expressive individualism, which is still the dominant note in American culture.

But, of course, this mantra misleads on nearly every front.

College grads are often sent out into the world amid rapturous talk of limitless possibilities. But this talk is of no help to the central business of adulthood, finding serious things to tie yourself down to. The successful young adult is beginning to make sacred commitments — to a spouse, a community and calling — yet mostly hears about freedom and autonomy.

Today’s graduates are also told to find their passion and then pursue their dreams. The implication is that they should find themselves first and then go off and live their quest. But, of course, very few people at age 22 or 24 can take an inward journey and come out having discovered a developed self.

Most successful young people don’t look inside and then plan a life. They look outside and find a problem, which summons their life…Most people don’t form a self and then lead a life. They are called by a problem, and the self is constructed gradually by their calling.”

Abp. Fulton Sheen on four false assumptions often made in comparing religions

One of my favorite books by Abp. Fulton Sheen is Philosophy of Religion: The Impact of Modern Knowledge on Religion, originally published in 1948 by Appleton-Century-Crofts (New York). What follows is a short overview, originally published in This Rock magazine, of some points made by Sheen about comparing Christianity to other religions:

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen outlined the problems with the arguments that Christianity was derived from pre-Christian paganism, made in the early twentieth-century by men such as H. G. Wells, H. L. Mencken, and Sir James G. Frazer (author of The Golden Bough, an influential study in comparative folklore, magic, and religion). In Philosophy of Religion: The Impact of Modern Knowledge on Religion, written nearly sixty years ago and aimed at more scholarly works, Sheen lists false assumptions underlying comparative religion that provide a helpful apologetic yardstick for gauging works that claim "all religions are the same" or that "Christianity stole its beliefs from pagan religions."

First false assumption: Religion represents the primitive instincts of man and the "infant stage" of civilization and "progress." Thus, the religion of primitive peoples today (say, the aborigines) represents the religion of ancient man. The mistake here is conjoining "the lowest forms of humanity with the oldest." This is the mythology of inevitable human progress, which assumes that the spiritual insights of the twenty-first-century man must be of a higher order than those of ancient nomadic Hebrews or third-century Christians. It underlies the assumption that either science or "spirituality" (non-Christian, of course) supplants religion as man evolves into a higher state of intelligence, "consciousness," or humanity.

Second false assumption: The true religion must be completely different from all other human religions. Since Christianity and non-Christian religions are not completely different in every detail, "it is falsely concluded that the Christian religion is not divine." Christianity and other religions do resemble each other in certain ways when it comes to natural truths, since those truths "may be known to anyone endowed with reason." These include moral teachings, use of symbols, and certain liturgical themes. Even when it comes to supernatural truths, Christians and pagans still share some general ground, such as the awareness of sin and the need for a redeemer. The key difference is that Christians "know definitely that Redeemer is Christ." The distinctively Catholic doctrine is that God does not ignore or discount our human nature but perfects it through supernatural grace.

Third false assumption: Resemblances between Christianity and other religions are "possible only through plagiarism, or borrowing, or imitation." A distinction must be made between complete and partial borrowing. If the borrowing is complete, then Christianity is not unique nor divine. But "there are some elements in Christianity that are absolutely original," despite some wild and unfounded claims: the historical facts of Christianity and the unique doctrines of the Catholic Church, including the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the Eucharist.

Fourth false assumption: Since the supernatural is impossible or cannot be demonstrated, religions and the history of religions "should be studied apart from all intervention of God." But "it is one thing to abstract the supernatural character from religion and quite another thing to deny the supernatural." Since Christianity claims to be supernatural, it should be investigated as if it were so. Failing to consider this claim, upon which all of Christianity rests, reflects a materialist bias, often presented as "scientific."



The Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Sr. Agnes Sasagawa of Akita, Japan

The extraordinary events began on June 12, 1973, when Sr. Agnes saw brilliant mysterious rays emanate suddenly from the tabernacle. The same thing happened on each of the two days that followed.

On June 28, 1973, a cross-shaped wound appeared on the inside left hand of Sr. Agnes. It bled profusely and caused her much pain. On July 6, Sr. Agnes heard a voice coming from the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the chapel where she was praying. The statue was carved from a single block of wood from a Katsura tree and is three feet tall. On the same day, a few of the sisters noticed drops of blood flowing from the statue's right hand. On four occasions, this act of blood flow repeated itself. The wound in the statue's hand remained until September 29, when it disappeared. On September 29, the day the wound on the statue disappeared, the sisters noticed the statue had now begun to "sweat", especially on the forehead and neck. On August 3, Sr. Agnes received a second message. On October 13, she received a final third message.

Two years later on January 4, 1975, the statue of the Blessed Virgin began to weep. It continued to weep at intervals for the next 6 years and eight months. It wept on 101 occasions.

The Messages

Here are the three messages of Our Lady of Akita to Sr. Agnes:

July 6, 1973

"My daughter, my novice, you have obeyed me well in abandoning all to follow me. Is the infirmity of your ears painful? Your deafness will be healed, be sure. Does the wound of your hand cause you to suffer? Pray in reparation for the sins of men. Each person in this community is my irreplaceable daughter. Do you say well the prayer of the Handmaids of the Eucharist? Then, let us pray it together."

"Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, truly present in Holy Eucharist, I consecrate my body and soul to be entirely one with Your Heart, being sacrificed at every instant on all the altars of the world and giving praise to the Father pleading for the coming of His Kingdom."

"Please receive this humble offering of myself. Use me as You will for the glory of the Father and the salvation of souls."

"Most holy Mother of God, never let me be separated from Your Divine Son. Please defend and protect me as Your Special Child. Amen."

When the prayer was finished, the Heavenly Voice said: "Pray very much for the Pope, Bishops, and Priests. Since your Baptism you have always prayed faithfully for them. Continue to pray very much...very much. Tell your superior all that passed today and obey him in everything that he will tell you. He has asked that you pray with fervor."

August 3, 1973

"My daughter, my novice, do you love the Lord? If you love the Lord, listen to what I have to say to you."

"It is very important...You will convey it to your superior."

"Many men in this world afflict the Lord. I desire souls to console Him to soften the anger of the Heavenly Father. I wish, with my Son, for souls who will repair by their suffering and their poverty for the sinners and ingrates."

"In order that the world might know His anger, the Heavenly Father is preparing to inflict a great chastisement on all mankind. With my Son I have intervened so many times to appease the wrath of the Father. I have prevented the coming of calamities by offering Him the sufferings of the Son on the Cross, His Precious Blood, and beloved souls who console Him forming a cohort of victim souls. Prayer, penance and courageous sacrifices can soften the Father's anger. I desire this also from your community...that it love poverty, that it sanctify itself and pray in reparation for the ingratitude and outrages of so many men.

Recite the prayer of the Handmaids of the Eucharist with awareness of its meaning; put it into practice; offer in reparation (whatever God may send) for sins. Let each one endeavor, according to capacity and position, to offer herself entirely to the Lord."

"Even in a secular institute prayer is necessary. Already souls who wish to pray are on the way to being gathered together. Without attaching to much attention to the form, be faithful and fervent in prayer to console the Master."

After a silence:

"Is what you think in your heart true? Are you truly decided to become the rejected stone? My novice, you who wish to belong without reserve to the Lord, to become the spouse worthy of the Spouse, make your vows knowing that you must be fastened to the Cross with three nails. These three nails are poverty, chastity, and obedience. Of the three, obedience is the foundation. In total abandon, let yourself be led by your superior. He will know how to understand you and to direct you."

October 13, 1973

"My dear daughter, listen well to what I have to say to you. You will inform your superior."

After a short silence:

"As I told you, if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will envy the dead. The only arms which will remain for you will be the Rosary and the Sign left by My Son. Each day recite the prayers of the Rosary. With the Rosary, pray for the Pope, the bishops and priests."

"The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres...churches and altars sacked; the Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord.

"The demon will be especially implacable against souls consecrated to God. The thought of the loss of so many souls is the cause of my sadness. If sins increase in number and gravity, there will be no longer pardon for them"

"With courage, speak to your superior. He will know how to encourage each one of you to pray and to accomplish works of reparation."

"It is Bishop Ito, who directs your community."

And She smiled and then said:

"You have still something to ask? Today is the last time that I will speak to you in living voice. From now on you will obey the one sent to you and your superior."

"Pray very much the prayers of the Rosary. I alone am able still to save you from the calamities which approach. Those who place their confidence in me will be saved."

Church Approves Messages, Weeping Statue As Supernatural

April, 1984—Most. Rev. John Shojiro Ito, Bishop of Niigata, Japan, after years of extensive investigation, declares the events of Akita, Japan to be of supernatural origin, and authorizes throughout the entire diocese the veneration of the Holy Mother of Akita.

On April 22, 1984, after eight years of investigations, after consultation with the Holy See, the messages of Our Lady of Akita were approved by the Bishop of the diocese. In the Japanese village of Akita, a statue of the Madonna, according to the testimony of more than 500 Christians and non-Christians, including the Buddhist mayor of the town, has shed blood, sweat and tears. A nun, Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa has received the stigmata and has received messages from Our Lady.

June, 1988—Vatican City—Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, gives definitive judgement on the Akita events and messages as reliable and worthy of belief.

Our Lady of Damascus

( Sufanieh)

Mary Kourbet Al-Akhras, known as Myrna, was born in Damascus in 1964. Myrna spent her childhood and adolescence between Beirut, Lebanon and Damascus at the rhythm of her family's traveling. And had a quite normal upbringing together with her two brothers and two sisters.

On a journey to Bulgaria In July 1980, Nicolas visited the Alexander Nevsky Orthodox church in Sofia, where he bought 10 small replicas of the icon of the Virgin of Kazan.

On November 22, 1982, Myrna was praying at the bedside of her sister-in-law Layla, who was seriously ill. An Orthodox and a Moslem woman were there also.

Suddenly Myrna felt that her body was shivering as if some force was coming out from inside her. The Moslem woman, Mayada Kowzaly, then noticed a strange light radiating from Myrna's hands, and a moment after, an oily substance, which seemed to flow right out of her skin. Mayada shouted at her to look at her hands. But Myrna was utterly confused and couldn't comprehend what was happening or what to do. Mayada then quickly told her to put her hands on her sister-in-law. And to everyone's amazement and joy, the sick woman instantly felt better and after a while her illness miraculously disappeared altogether.

In the evening Myrna was picked up by her husband, Nicolas. The women excitedly told him what had happened, but Nicolas was rather skeptical and didn't really know what to make of it. The phenomenon occurred again on November 25 and Myrna's mother was cured in the same manner.

The Miraculous Icon

On November 27, 1982, a three-inch tall picture of the Virgin Mary and Christ Child began exuding oil. It flowed out from the bottom of the image and onto the floor next to Nicolas and Myrna's bed. When oil also began appearing on Myrna's hands, Nicholas decided to call all his relatives to come and witness what was happening.

Everyone came and they all began praying together. Within the first hour, four large dishes full of oil extruded from the Icon. Suddenly all sound began to disappear, like a vacuum, from Myrna's ears and soon she could hear nothing at all. She then heard a woman's soft voice, as if it came from inside a seashell, saying: "Do not be frightened. I am with you. Open the doors and do not deprive anyone from seeing me. Light a candle for me". Myrna thought she was imagining things and was afraid to tell anyone about the experience.

Word soon spread and in these first days, thousands visited the Icon day and night. Among them were non-Christians, Moslems, Orthodox, and Catholics of every rite. Many sick people were healed by the miraculous oil.

From November 27, 1982 until November 26, 1990, the icon regularly oozed oil, following the rhythm of the liturgical cycle.

During Holy Week 2001, the icon began exuding oil again. January 24 is Feast of Our Lady of Tears and Our Lady of Damascus.

The occurrences have been determined by the local Bishops to belong to the supernatural.

He Done His Damdest

By E. Bell Guthrey

I ask that when my spirit quits this shell of mortal clay

And o’er the trail across the range pursues its silent way,

That no imposing marble shaft may mark the spot where rest

The tailings of the bard who sang the praises of the West.

But, that above them may be placed a slab of white or gray,

And on it but the epitaph carved in the earlier day,

Upon the headboard of a man who did the best he could

To have the bad deeds of his life o’ershadowed by the good:

“He Done His Damdest.”

Engrave upon the polished face of that plain, simple stone,

No nicely worded sentiment intended to condone

The sins of an eventful life, nor say the virtues wiped

Away the stains of vice — in lines original or swiped;

That rough but honest sentiment that stood above the head

Of one who wore his boots into his final earthly bed

Is good enough for me to have above my mould’ring clay—

Just give the name and day I quit and underneath it say:

“He Done His Damdest.”

Some who are overstocked with phony piety may raise

Their hands in blank amazement at the sentiment and gaze

Upon the simple marble slab ‘neath which the sleeper lies,

With six or seven different kinds of horror in their eyes;

But hardy sons and daughters of this brave and rugged West

Will see a tribute in the line so pointedly expressed–

And what more earnest tribute could be paid to any man

Whose weary feet have hit the trail towards the Mystery, than:

“He Done His Damdest.”

Photographs from the early 1900s (including World War I), in true color

Posted: 10 Dec 2010 11:10 AM PST

In the early part of the 20th century French-Jewish capitalist Albert Kahn set about to collect a photographic record of the world, the images were held in an 'Archive of the Planet'. Before the 1929 stock market crash he was able to amass a collection of 180,000 metres of b/w film and more than 72,000 autochrome plates...

More than seven million photographs in the Vatican archives — including historic and intimate shots from every pontificate back to Pope Pius XII — are slated for a hi-tech makeover.

The Vatican announced that it has begun the process of translating the photo archives of its daily newspaper L'Osservatore Romano from negatives and prints to digital images.

Cost $3-4 millon

The childish idea that prayer is a handle by which we can take hold of God and obtain whatever we desire, leads to easy disillusionment with both what we had thought to be God and what we had thought to be prayer.Robert L Short

Oh, Come, Oh, Come Emmanuel

Translated: John Neal, 1818-66

Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel,

And ransom captive Israel,

That mourns in lonely exile here

Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come O Rod of Jesse's stem,

From ev'ry foe deliver them

That trust your mighty pow'r to save;

Bring them in vict'ry through the grave.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, O Key of David, come,

And open wide our heav'nly home;

Make safe the way that leads on high,

And close the path to misery.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, our Dayspring from on high,

And cheer us by your drawing nigh,

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,

And death's dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind

In one the hearts of all mankind;

Oh, bid our sad divisions cease,

And be yourself our King of Peace.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to you, O Israel!

General Robert E. Lee was on his way to Richmond, and was seated in the extreme end of a railroad car, every seat of which was occupied. At one of the stations, an aged woman of humble appearance entered the car, carrying a large basket. She walked the length of the aisle and not a man offered her a seat. When she was opposite General Lee’s seat, he arose promptly and said, “Madam, take this seat.” Instantly a score of men were on their feet, and a chorus of voices said, “General, have my seat.” “No, gentlemen,” he replied, “if there was no seat for this old lady, there is no seat for me.” It was not long before the car was almost empty. It was too warm to be comfortable.

From Success by Orison Swett Marden


10/12/2009 11:51


City of love of Mangalore where the elderly defeat euthanasia

by Nirmala Carvalho

The experience of Premnagar, a home for the elderly with 80 guests, run by the Little Sisters of the Poor, the congregation founded by Sister Jeanne Jugan, canonized by Benedict XVI on 11 October.

Mangalore (AsiaNews) - "I defy anyone to say that our elderly are a burden. Their existence is full of meaning, they are living people who give us a deep joy". Sister Auxilia works at Premnagar, the city of love, a home for the elderly poor of Bajjodi, near Mangalore in Karnataka. She tells AsiaNews: "Euthanasia is the biggest devil in the world. Our seniors are a great treasure, their life experience is an asset to society and for all of us older people are a blessing. "

The Premnagar centre has 80 places, divided equally between men and women, where "elderly poor of all religions and castes live as a family." It was built by the Little Sisters of the Poor, the congregation founded in 800 by Sister Jeanne Jugan, canonized by Benedict XVI on 11 October this year. Sister Auxilia entered the congregation 19 years ago and says "welcoming the first saint of our order" is an invitation to "continue to receive the grace of the Lord and serve Him through the poor".

The Premnagar house of is one of 13 opened by the Little Sisters over the more than 120 years of their presence in India. They first arrived in Calcutta in 1882 and since have also reached Bangalore in 1900 and then Mangalore in 1978. Hospices like Premnagar are "a blessed place, a house of prayer," says Sister Auxilia. "All of our seniors are poor and are our joy. We are learning from them: the suffering and joys of life have given them a great wisdom. "

The oldest guest in the City of Love is Cecilia D'Souza "an old lady of 104 years of age who has been living in the house for 16 years," says the nun. "She moves through the house on a wheelchair and spreads happiness and joy in us, other guests and also the many people who come to visit us." Sister Auxilia said Premnagar houses many people who are over 90 "are all happy to be here and their love for life is instructive”. The Little Sister adds: "These poor older people participate in all activities of the House, they teach each other crafts, like handicrafts, making baskets that are then sold and many other things." The city of love is a big family where the days are spent in common life and daily activities of all kinds.

Sister Auxilia says: "Their enthusiasm for plays and shows that we organize is incredible. Although for some mobility is a serious problem, this does not diminish their interest in participating actively in theatre or other entertainment”.

The moment of death in Premnagar is special and touching. The Little Sisters take turns to hold vigil by the bedside of the dying, never leaving them alone, accompanying them until death with love. Sister Virginia, the mother superior, says: "It is a time marked by grace, our poor elderly die with dignity and love, filled with gratitude."

Sister Virginia says: "The charisma of the Little Sisters is taking care of the poor. We ask for alms in the streets, in markets, we circle the city, knocking on doors asking for food, clothing, whatever we may be given. Sometimes we are laughed at, sometimes insulted, but we respond to their contempt with a blessing. "

The mother superior says: "We do not need anything, each day we depend on providence and there are also many people who are really generous with us. Today the world is begging for love and this is what to pray for our elderly poor: that the world can be filled with love, shared love among people. "

Sisters of the Poor England

These were the words used by our chaplain Fr Jean

Pierre following the deaths of Sr Thomas O.S.C. and

Sr Paule L.S.P.

Sr Thomas was called home to the Lord on the 18th

December after more than 72 years as a Poor

Clare., while Sr Paule went home on 3rd January 08

after more than 76 years as a Little Sister of the Poor. It

was quite an achievement that together they had served

the Lord faithfully for nearly 150 years.

In September, we gathered to celebrate Sr. Thomas’s 70 years of

profession as a Poor Clare. On Hogmany, the eve of her Birthday we

gathered again to give thanks to God for her life. Fr Jean Pierre said “She

won't celebrate her birthday with us, but God called her to celebrate it with Him

and with Jesus, the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph , all the saints and Angels in

heaven”. In addition to family and friends ,members of her religious

congregation travelled for the funeral; Sr Dominic

and Sr Veronica from Humbie and Sr Mary Francis

from Hereford representing Sr Thomas’s former

community of Darlington.

Born and raised in Amble,


Sr Paule emigrated to

Australia with her family

when she was 17. It was here that Sr Paule offered her

life as a Little Sister of the Poor, a life she lived to the

full in the service of the elderly. She was always raising

funds for the benefit of our elderly residents no matter

which home she was sent to .

Travelling to the UK for the first time for the funeral

was her niece June from Australia, while her second

cousin Ken made his way from Newcastle. Mother Provincial and Sr Mary

Christina flew over from Dublin for the funeral where they were joined by Little

Sisters from our homes in Glasgow, Greenock and Edinburgh. Mgr Ken

McCaffrey, Vicar General for the Diocese represented Bishop Logan who was

attending a meeting in Spain. Also concelebrating the Mass was our chaplain

Fr Jean Pierre and Fr John and Fr Jacob from St Clement’s.


By: Robert W. Service

One pearly day in early May I walked upon the sand

And saw, say half a mile away, a man with gun in hand.

A dog was cowering to his will as slow he sought to creep

Upon a dozen ducks so still they seemed to be asleep.

When like a streak the dog dashed out, the ducks flashed up in flight.

The fellow gave a savage shout and cursed with all his might.

Then as I stood somewhat amazed and gazed with eyes agog,

With bitter rage his gun he raised and blazed and shot the dog.

You know how dogs can yelp with pain; its blood soaked in the sand,

And yet it crawled to him again, and tried to lick his hand.

“Forgive me Lord for what I’ve done,” it seemed as if it said,

But once again he raised his gun — this time he shot it dead.

What could I do? What could I say? ‘Twas such a lonely place.

Tongue-tied I watched him stride away, I never saw his face.

I should have bawled the bastard out, a yellow dog he slew.

But worse, he proved beyond a doubt that – I was yellow too.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan

New York City, N.Y., Jul 4, 2010 / 08:02 am (CNA).- As Americans across the country celebrate the nation's Independence Day this weekend, they should humbly remember their dependence on their Creator, said Archbishop Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York.

In a column written this week, he reflected on the celebration of Independence Day and called on the faithful to proclaim a “spiritual Declaration of Dependence” on God that is “downright revolutionary” in American society today.

The archbishop then spoke of the false contemporary understanding of freedom “as the right to do whatever we want, whenever we want, wherever we want, however we want, with whomever we want.” Our culture has lost the true understanding of freedom as “the liberty to do what we ought,” he said.

He observed the modern trend of “freeing” oneself from “any sense of obedience to God, His revelation and the basic code of right and wrong He has engraved upon the human heart.”

This false understanding of freedom has devastating consequences, he continued. “The Ten Commandments become a list of suggestions, the Eight Beatitudes a set of nice ideas, the Bible mere literature, the Church unnecessary, religion a crutch for the unenlightened, objective truth an outmoded oppression.”

By adopting this distorted mindset, we elevate ourselves to the level of gods, the archbishop said. This is evident in today's culture, which claims dominion over life in matters such as abortion, euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research, he explained. Focused on consumption and convenience, the culture presumes to re-define marriage and family as it sees fit, revels in violence in its movies and music and resorts to war and terrorism without regard to the demands of morality.

This phenomenon is “curious,”Archbishop Dolan said, because the very culture declaring itself independent of God and morality has become “terribly dependent” on “money, insurance, gas, weapons, security systems or even upon alcohol, pornography, lust, gambling and drugs.”

The archbishop contrasted this false sense of freedom with the true independence that the founders of America fought so adamantly to gain.

“The patriots who won independence for us in 1776 had no trouble at all acknowledging their total dependence upon God,” he said. “In fact, the normative documents of our beloved country presume the existence of a providential God, objective truth, moral duty and the right to life itself.”

This acknowledgment of total dependence on God is something we must preserve, he said. We must boldly admit to the world “that every breath we take, each day we have, every opportunity we are given, come from an omnipotent God.”

Offering a courageous witness to a hostile culture, we should “bask in the fact that we are totally dependent upon Him,” the archbishop said. “He is sovereign, He is Lord, He has power and dominion.”

Emphasizing Christ's teaching that “the Truth shall make you free,” Archbishop Dolan invited the faithful to take seriously the words they pray at every Sunday Mass: “We believe in God, the Father Almighty...” Recalling a comment from Cardinal Francis George, he explained that this opening line of the creed is “perhaps the most revolutionary statement we can make these days.”


If you yearn for easy answers and quick solutions, you’ll fall prey to people who offer you nothing but promises.

If you find the truth too difficult to bear; you’ll be enslaved to those who tell you what you want to hear.

If you have the courage to think for yourself, the strength to accept what is, the commitment and discipline to make a difference, then you experience freedom.

St. Theresa

St. Theresa is known as the Saint of the Little Ways, meaning she believed in doing the little things in life well. She is also the patron Saint of flower growers and florists. The following is St. Theresa’s prayer.

May there be peace within today. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content knowing you are a child of God. Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us. Amen.

World Pays Tribute on Death of Atheist Turned Believer

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,

20 Apr 2010

Leading academics, philosophers and members of the Christian faith across the world continue to pay tribute to Antony Flew, the famed British atheist and thinker who discovered God at the end of his life.

The renowned rationalist philosopher died earlier this month at age 87 and continues to be remembered in obituaries and tributes world-wide.

Those paying tribute to him include Catholic Theology professors from the Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, well known American rabbis such as Rabbi Brad Hirshfield from New York and leading philosphers from academia such as Dr Gary Habermas.

Describing Flew as one of the great intellectuals of his time, Rabbi Hirschfield lauded the Englishman's "intellectual generosity."

The son of a Methodist minister, Antony Flew spent most of his life denying the existence of God until just six years before his death when he dramatically changed his mind after studying research into genetics and DNA.

"The almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce life, show that intelligence must have been involved," he announced in 2004 and went on to make a video of his conversion called : "Has Science Discovered God."

Ironically, although modern day atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens claim in the rational world of science there is no proof of God exists, it is from the world of science that Antony Flew in his final years discovered "empirical evidence" that God exists, which overturned beliefs he had held for more than 60 years.

Like Einstein before him, Flew found that God was the only possible answer when it came to increasingly complex discoveries from sub atomic particles to the human genome to the very origins of the Cosmos.

"How can a universe of mindless matter produce beings with intrinsic ends, self replication capabilities and ‘coded chemistry'?" he asked, giving this as the main reason for his discovery of God in his final decade.

Flew's conclusion that there was in fact a God in his 81st year came as a shock to his fellow atheists, particularly Dawkins and Hitchens two of the world's most outspoken proponents of atheism.

But Flew refused to back down even when some of his former followers decided his volte-face on God was the result of old age dementia and confusion rather than scholarly research and intellectual rigour.

Flew's late life change of mind about God's existence was remarkable because of the huge volume of his writings which until then had embraced the atheist cause. Throughout most of his academic life he was adamant that one should presuppose atheism until there was empirical evidence to the contrary. Then in his final decade through as DNA and the human genome began to be understood along with the complexities of life, Flew found evidence which proved to him God exists and is the Creator of life. And from being a rationalist philosopher and non-believer for most of his life, one of the world's leading thinkers suddenly became a staunch believer.

"The most impressive arguments for God's existence are those that are supported by recent scientific discoveries," he said.

In his final years, Flew supported the idea of a God along the lines of the philosophy espoused by Greek philosopher, Aristotle who believed God had characteristics of both power and intelligence.

In 2007, Antony Flew published the manifesto of his conversion stating unequivocally in the title: "There is a God."

However until his death while convinced God did exist, he remained sceptical about an afterlife.

With an academic career spanning 60 years with stints at universities across Britain and the US, Antony Flew will be remembered not only as one of the outstanding philosophers of his time, but as the man who preached atheism but died a believer.

Science Question from a Toddler: Life before birth

Maggie Koerth-Baker at 6:30 AM April 7, 2010

"Hello baby, is it dark in there?"

Like reader jackie31337, who asked this question when she was a small child, scientists don't remember what life in the womb was like. If they want to know what a fetus can see-not to mention smell, hear, taste and touch-they have to go right to the source. Unfortunately, the unborn are not the world's greatest communicators.

To find the answers, researchers study animal fetuses, healthy human newborns only hours old and premature infants finishing their pre-natal development in an incubator. What they've learned about the fetal experience and the development of the senses not only expands our understanding of the human body, it's also helping to up the premies' chances for a healthy, normal life.

Across the animal kingdom, senses come online in a very specific order that doesn't vary much from one vertebrate to another. The first sense fetuses experience is touch. Then come the chemical-based senses-taste and smell. The ability to hear develops fourth. And finally, so late that many animals are born lacking it, comes sight.

Humans, with our relatively long gestation periods, are one of the few species that can see before we're born. Not that there's very much to see. The short answer to jackie31337's question is, "Yes. It is, in fact, rather dark in there."

"They can tell the difference between dim and very dim. That's what they'd see if mom removed outer clothing on a sunny day," said William Fifer, Ph.D., head of the fetal/infant development lab at Columbia University's division of developmental psychology.

Scientists have watched fetuses on ultrasound turn their heads away from bright lights held up to their mother's stomach, Fifer said. And they've seen the brain waves of premature infants spike in response to a flash of light, or a change in visual stimulus-switching a card from vertical stripes to horizontal, for instance. Sight isn't much of a sense at this point, but it's enough.

Enough for what? That's where things get interesting. See, senses don't work via some neurological "off/on" switch. It's more like building muscle. You have to exercise to get results. The more you work out the new sense, the more neuron connections are formed and the sense improves. But if you don't use it, you lose it. Literally.

"You need sensory stimulation of some sort, or the nerve connections never form," Fifer said. "Kittens blindfolded after birth never develop sight."

Sensory stimulation is important in other ways as well, helping fetuses learn. For instance, duck embryos peep to themselves while still inside their eggs. As they do that, they begin to recognize what a duck voice sounds like.

"A researcher named Gilbert Gottlieb found that, if he de-vocalized a duck embryo, then after birth it wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the maternal calls of a duck or a chicken," said Jeffery Alberts, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Indiana University. "They have to hear themselves in the egg and stimulate their own auditory systems. That's how they get it to be tuned enough to complete development."

Monkey hear, monkey do

Human fetuses use their senses to learn, too. Christine Moon, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Pacific Lutheran University, studies auditory development in humans. She does her research by staking out the maternity wing at a local hospital, popping in on new families right after babies are born. If the parents are interested, infants as young as eight hours old can be tested to see how they respond to different sounds. The babies wear headphones and are given special pacifiers hooked up to a computer.

Turns out, babies suck harder on the pacifiers when they hear sounds that are familiar to them from before birth. Newborns prefer their mother's voice over anyone else's (even dad's). They prefer hearing phrases from books they were read while in the womb, compared to new stories. They're even already favoring one language over another.

"Babies prefer the sound of their mother's native language to others," Moon said. "Interestingly, they can distinguish between languages in the same rythmic class, like Spanish versus English. But they can't tell the difference between similar sounding languages, like English and Dutch."

Mothers' speech seem to matter in other ways as well. Moms who don't mumble or slur their words together have children that can better recognize consonants at 6-to-8 months, and have bigger vocabularies at 10-to-12 months, compared to their peers. This, and other research, has led Moon to theorize that language acquisition is a process that begins before we're even born.

Seeing a better future

All this has big implications for infant health.

We know now that sensory experiences before birth play a role in making sure senses develop properly and that fetuses learn important post-birth behaviors. That's helped researchers better understand what happens to fetuses exposed to alcohol.

Too much alcohol makes for a fetus that doesn't move around much and interacts less with its environment. That means less sensory experience and, thus, less cognitive development. Like the de-vocalized duck embryo, a fetus exposed to alcohol can't teach itself. That sensory deprivation can even have physical impacts.

"One of the things the fetus experiences from alcohol exposure is reduced swallowing movements. So it doesn't have that stimulation of the gastro-intestinal system to help that system develop normally," Jeffrey Alberts said.

Studying fetal senses has also helped doctors develop better ways of caring for premature infants. These babies end up lacking a lot of the sensory experiences they need for normal development-the movement of being inside their mother, the smells and tastes of the womb, their mother's voice-while simultaneously experiencing bright lights and loud noises that they wouldn't normally. Imagine falling asleep in a hammock on a tropical night, and waking to find yourself being grilled under the light by a noir police detective. That shock makes a difference in babies' development, and helps put them at risk for a variety of cognitive and motor disorders, William Fifer said.

Sensory research has led to darker rooms for pre-term infants, turning down the harsh lights that can harm their not-quite-ready-for-primetime eyesight, Fifer said. It's also prompted hospitals to begin monitoring the babies' brain waves and testing their hearing, looking for early signs that the baby in question might need therapeutic intervention.

"It's only in the last few years that we've been checking that as a matter of course," he said. "Now many nurseries measure brain activity because we know that if you see problems early on you can make a bigger difference."


Cancer is so Limited

It cannot cripple Love,

It cannot shatter Hope

It cannot corrode Faith

It cannot kill Friendship,

It cannot suppress Memories,

It cannot silence Courage,

It cannot invade the Soul,

It cannot steal Eternal life,

It cannot Conquer the Spirit.

The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true

faith is the end of anxiety. George Muller

We have an obligation not only to love each other but also in our love to

make ourselves as loveable as possible so that it is easy for our sisters

and brothers to love us.

William of Saint Thierry

From Lincoln’s Yarns and Stories, 1900

The President was bothered to death by those persons who boisterously demanded that the War be pushed vigorously; also, those who shouted their advice and opinions into his weary ears, but who never suggested anything practical. These fellows were not in the army, nor did they ever take any interest, in a personal way, in military matters, except when engaged in dodging drafts.

“That reminds me,” remarked Mr. Lincoln one day, “of a farmer who lost his way on the Western frontier. Night came on, and the embarrassments of his position were increased by a furious tempest which suddenly burst upon him. To add to his discomfort, his horse had given out, leaving him exposed to all the dangers of the pitiless storm.

“The peals of thunder were terrific, the frequent flashes of lightning affording the only guide on the road as he resolutely trudged onward, leading his jaded steed. The earth seemed fairly to tremble beneath him in the war of elements. One bolt threw him suddenly upon his knees.

“Our traveler was not a prayerful man, but finding himself involuntarily brought to an attitude of devotion, he addressed himself to the Throne of Grace in the following prayer for his deliverance:

“‘O God! hear my prayer this time, for Thou knowest it is not often that I call upon Thee. And, O Lord! if it is all the same to Thee, give us a little more light and a little less noise.’

“I wish,” the President said, sadly, “there was a stronger disposition manifested on the part of our civilian warriors to unite in suppressing the rebellion, and a little less noise as to how and by whom the chief executive office shall be administered.”

Happy Easter from Jer

Displaying documentaries 1 - 20 of 1,735 documentaries.

filmed between 4th and 11th April 2011. I had the pleasure of visiting El


Spain´s highest mountain @(3718m) is one of the best places in the world to

photograph the stars and is also the location of Teide Observatories,

considered to be one of the world´s best observatories.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

“I Just Can’t Make It Alone!” Tom Leopold’s Conversion Story

My name is Tom Leopold and I’m a comedy writer (Seinfeld, Cheers, Will and

Grace...). I am a Jewish comedy writer, although I always felt saying that

was kind of redundant. So much of my humor — practically all of it I

suppose— comes from who my people are, what they’ve been through and how

they were able to turn it all on its head and find the funny side, even and

especially if there was none to find.

I know it sounds odd, but I always liked Jesus. I was never “deep” enough to

wrestle with the concept of his being the son of God. For me he had this

James Dean-Bob Dylan-daring rebel-hero “thing” about him. Once in a while, I

did wonder, had I been nearby when Jesus walked among us, would I have had

seen him for who he said he was? And, if so, would I have had the courage to

say “Hey, everybody says we’re waiting on the Messiah. Well, the ‘wait’ is

over!” Fast forward two thousand years later and I’d follow Jesus anywhere

if he’d have me.

Come Easter I’ll still be a comedy writer, but a Catholic one. I consider my

upcoming baptism a blessing. One that ranks right up there with the day I

met my wife or the birth of our two daughters, to say nothing of having the

good fortune to have made a living in a business that I love.

So here is a flashback of how I became Catholic.

We’re a couple of years into my youngest daughter’s life-threatening eating

disorder. It also happens to be Christmas Eve and our girl is under doctors’

care at still another rehab center. This one is in the Arizona desert. By

the time we had come to this point our ravaged little fourteen-year-old had

been too ill to attend any but three weeks of her 9th grade school year, she

had spent days locked in a psych ward, and both she and I were nearly run

over by a cab as I tried to catch up to her after she’d bolted from a doctor’s


So, we’re in the desert, it’s Christmas Eve and my wife, our oldest girl

(17) and I are decorating our hotel room with Christmas stuff from the only

store still open in the little desert town, the Dollar Store. We are all

Jewish, but for some reason we’ve always celebrated Christmas too. There was

something kind of sacred about the silly little tree we bought...It reminded

me of the tree Charlie Brown dragged back to his gang.

The doctors would only let us have our daughter for Christmas Day, so the

three of us went to bed early, each trying not to let the others know how

sad we were that one of us was missing. Lying there in the dark that night

was the closest I have ever come to breaking — not breaking down, breaking!

It’s a whole lot easier to hold your heart together when it’s you who does

the suffering, but when it’s your child and nobody can fix her...Well, it

would take more than a comedy writer to say it how it feels.

I was praying before the thought dawned on me that I was praying. Maybe

begging is the better word... “Please God, give me even the smallest sign

you’re up there, I just can’t make it alone!”

The next morning we’d arranged for our girls to go horseback riding, and my

wife and I took a walk in the desert. Out of nowhere this cool old guy

drives up in a motorcycle he made himself...It had antlers for handlebars

and the guy looked like the old Marine that he turned out to be. He skidded

up next to us, practically popping a wheelie, and started talking. I’m a New

Yorker, so I just figured he was just one more weirdo...But the guy had this

great intensity and a mysterious charisma.

He started a long monologue about how he was once married to a woman named

“Shepard” and how his present wife brought him to Christ at the age of 33,

and all the while he keeps nodding his head towards me and saying to my wife

“This one knows what I’m talking about!”

Here we were, on Christmas morning in the desert, and this odd old character

is throwing the word “Shepard” around along with the number 33. “Wasn’t

Jesus a ‘Shepard’ to his flock and wasn’t he 33 when he was crucified and

isn’t this day, his birthday?!” As I’m thinking of this, the old guy keeps

telling my wife that I know what he means! And the weird thing is I do, kind

of, know what he means! Not what he’s saying but what he means...

My cell phone rings. It’s our kids. They’re through with their ride. Without

even knowing who’s on the other end of the phone our desert prophet says

“Hang up, they’re fine!” I hung up. After the exhaustion of all we’d been

through, it felt nice to be, well, led!

He finally stops talking, guns his engine and peels off only to stop a few

yards away, turn back to me and say in a voice somewhere below a whisper and

above mental telepathy that “God is watching you!” It wasn’t a threat, it

was a reassurance.

There were more things like that. Coincidences? I no longer think so. But

the biggest and most rewarding was the day I ran into Father Jonathan


Thirty-eight years ago I went to a psychic down in Nolita (North Of Little

Italy) who pretty much predicted my entire career path...I wasn’t even a

writer at the time. Out of the blue I had this idea to reconnect with him

and, to my amazement, he remembered me right away. Our daughter had gotten a

little better after her last treatment but was falling back again even

though she was now strong enough to attend school. I thought I’d go visit

Frank (my old psychic) just to check in and tell him how right he had been

about all that’s happened to me and to ask if he saw a recovery for our

daughter. Frank told me to bring her to him. A few days later we did.

Walking up the steps to Frank’s townhouse, a car pulls up right in front of

us and out steps Father Jonathan Morris. I recognized him from a picture in

his book, “The Promise.” The book dealt with grief and I was getting a great

deal of comfort from it. Suddenly the very same, kind, face was right before


“Are you Father Morris?”

He nodded.

“Your book is on my bed stand.”

He had already started towards me. He had his hand out.

Why I said what I said next I will never know.

“ Father, do you think you might have a few minutes to talk to me sometime?”

I had seen and admired Father Morris many times on television but thought he

lived in Rome. He smiled, holding on to my hand and said: “You can find me

right here.” He turned and pointed to Old Saint Patrick’s Church. It was as

if I hadn’t even seen the church until he pointed to it. He had just started

as parochial vicar there...True to his word he found time for me and room

for my family in his prayers. He even met with our daughter.

I don’t think there’s room now to describe all I found “right here” at Old

Saint Pat’s. The minute Father Morris took my hand I knew I’d be a follower

of Christ. Does my daughter still suffer? She does, we all still do, but now

I feel the Lord’s grace. We are not alone.

Happy Easter!

-Tom Leopold


Tom Leopold is one of the elect in the Archdiocese of New York. He has

participated in the RCIA program there and will be baptized during the

Easter Vigil. Special thanks to Kate Monaghan.


Imagine meeting a person who had never heard of Easter. If you could use

only one film produced in your generation to describe the real meaning of

the holiday, which would you use and why?

While there have been many films on Christ over the last 85 years ("The

Greatest Story Ever Told," "Jesus of Nazareth," etc.), there has been, on

average, only one major blockbuster produced on Jesus per generation: "The

King of Kings" (1927), "Ben Hur: The Tale of the Christ" (1959), "Jesus"

(1979), and "The Passion of the Christ" (2004).

Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" focuses primarily on the final

hours leading up to Christ's crucifixion. "Ben Hur" centers on the

fictitious character Judah Ben Hur (played by Charlton Heston), intertwining

Jesus' birth, ministry and death, but leaving out his resurrection.

Then there is Warner Brothers' 1979 film "Jesus." Based on the Gospel of St.

Luke, the film, funded in part by money raised by Campus Crusade for Christ

founder Bill Bright, did poorly at the box office. But in 1981, Campus

Crusade began translating it for use in the mission field. Known as "The

Jesus Film," the movie has now been translated into more than 1,100

languages. Seen by literally billions of people around the world, it is

arguably the most watched film ever—with many millions of viewers professing

faith in Jesus Christ as a result. It is still being shown world-wide today.


From "The King of Kings," directed by Cecil B. DeMille, 1927

Lastly there is Cecil B. DeMille's "The King of Kings," the spiritual

predecessor to "Jesus." Its viewership was estimated at over 800 million

people by 1959. Because it was produced as a silent film, Protestant and

Catholic missionaries alike were able to use it for decades to share the

Gospel with non-English-speaking peoples. According to DeMille's

autobiography, during the Korean War Madame Chiang Kai-shek sent an emissary

to DeMille seeking a copy of the film to show in P.O.W. camps.

The most powerful story related by DeMille about the influence of "The King

of Kings" involved a Polish man named William E. Wallner. Living in Danzig

(today Gdansk), Wallner saw "The King of Kings" in 1928. Greatly moved, he

decided to devote his life to Christian ministry.

By 1939, Wallner was leading a Lutheran parish in Prague. Shortly after

Hitler's invasion of Czechoslovakia, a doctor in Wallner's parish was sent

to a Nazi concentration camp. Wallner shared with DeMille how the doctor, a

Jewish convert to Christianity, encouraged his fellow prisoners "to die

bravely, with faith in their hearts." As a result, the doctor became a

target of Gestapo officers.

Although struck with an iron rod until one of his arms had to be amputated,

the doctor would not be quieted. Finally, as DeMille's autobiography

recounts, "one Gestapo officer beat the doctor's head against a stone wall

until blood was streaming down his face." Holding a mirror before the

doctor, the Gestapo officer sneered: "Take a look at yourself. Now you look

like your Jewish Christ."

Lifting his remaining hand up, the doctor exclaimed, "Lord [Jesus], never in

my life have I received such honor—to resemble You." Those would be his last

words on Earth.

Distraught by the doctor's proclamation, the Gestapo officer sought out

Wallner that night. "Could Pastor Wallner help him, free him from the

terrible burden of his guilt?"

After praying with him, Wallner advised, "Perhaps God let you kill that good

man to bring you to the foot of the Cross, where you can help others." The

Gestapo officer returned to the concentration camp. And through the aid of

Wallner and the Czech underground, he worked to free many Jews over the

years that followed.

On July 30, 1957, Wallner met with DeMille and spoke about the impact "The

King of Kings" had on his life and all who came in contact with him. Wallner

ended his account to DeMille by declaring: "If it were not for 'The King of

Kings,' I would not be a Lutheran pastor, and 350 Jewish children would have

died in the ditches."

DeMille concluded his account of Wallner's visit by writing: "If I felt that

this film was my work, it would be intolerably vain and presumptuous to

quote such stories from the hundreds like them that I could quote. But all

we did in 'The King of Kings,' all I have striven to do in any of my

Biblical pictures, was to translate into another medium, the medium of sight

and sound, the words of the Bible."

Millions world-wide will celebrate Easter this weekend with the

proclamation, "Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!" Knowing this has

inspired men and women throughout the ages to claim the words of St. Paul,

"that you may know what is the hope of His calling . . . the exceeding

greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of

His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the

dead." A resurrection hope found not only in film, but in the lives of those

that follow.

Mr. Murray is headmaster of Fourth Presbyterian School in Potomac, Md.

Darina's Trip to the Far East & India (with thanks to Darina Allen for allowing the below to be produced from personal emails)

3 February. We're now on our way to Colombo Airport It's difficult to tear oneself.away from the Dutch House, it's such a tranquil place, just four.beautiful bedrooms, a gracious drawing room and a veranda around three.sides of a square. Our afternoon tea expedition yesterday was a great success, we took a “tuc tuc” out. We were met by Gabriele Francis, another ex-pat using.her initiative to earn a few bob from the tourists. We walked along a.tiny path through the rice paddies to a “paddi island” across a little bridge. Lots of palm trees, hibiscus, frangipane, bouganvilla, Jasmine and lush foliage, and suddenly there was a little.summerhouse in the middle with a beautifully laid table. Pretty china cups and saucers, freshly cut cucumber and egg sandwiches, lavender biscuits, shortbread still warm from the oven, a gorgeous crumbly.carrot cake, a boiled fruit and nut cake and a chocolate cake to die.for!. Afterwards we piled into a bullock cart all decorated with bunting, and trundled along the road and up the hill to the local Buddist Temple to watch the sunset and give thanks, there were about a million steps up to the top - a welcome opportunity to burn off some calories as we had to taste everything! .The whole experience was lovely.

Today we just relaxed at the Dutch House. We took a “tuc tuc” out to the beach Cafe at Wajiya Beach for a fishy lunch and then I came back into Galle to go to the Green Market and potter around the little shops. I bought beautiful sweet cinnamon, the only spice Sri Lanka and lots of funny tin cooking utensils that I certainly don't need! Our flight to Bangkok leaves at 1:30am and arrives in at 6:30am so we should arrive just in time for breakfast. We're staying at the Mandarin Oriental where I stayed years ago on an earlier trip to Asia.

5 February, Bangkok - Now we're in Bangkok staying in a beautiful old hotel overlooking the Oriental river. We flew through the night and arrived in time to have breakfast on the veranda watching the klongs and barges and other miscellaneous craft going up and down the Chao Phraya river. After, I'd had a snooze we headed off for the Or Tor Kor Market, where else? Just across the road is the unmissable Chatuchak Weekend Market, a labyrinth of about 8,000 stalls selling not just the usual tourist souvenirs but it's now morphed into a starting ground for young talent and entrepreneurs trained in Thailand, New York, London and Toyko.

There's an abundance of handcrafts from around the world, antiques, clothes, accessories, pets, plants, furniture, books, utensils. You need a ton of energy and an empty container to send stuff home! We were fortunate enough to be invited to Nahm by the owner and legendary Asian chef David Thompson. He's away at present but he asked his chef Christopher Bidden to look after us. So we had course after course of delicious food that I wouldn't have a clue how to reproduce.

6 February - This morning we took a tour in a klong (a skinny, brightly coloured boat) along the river and canals, fascinating to get a glimpse of how the Thai's live along the riverbank. Looks like Sunday is washing day, lines of washing drying in the breeze. Many of the wooden Thai houses are very ramshackle and some look as though they are about to collapse into the river. Here and there nouveau riche mansions are going up but there seems to be very little effort at conservation. In the afternoon we went to Chinatown in search of a little street restaurant that David Thompson had recommended, even though it's like looking for a needle in a haystack, we eventually found it. The locals call it “The Oyster Omelette House”. A lady stands by a pan all day making two versions of one brilliant dish ,you can have either the soft or crispy version, we ordered both and of course I watched her making it. She piled the hot oysters and spring onions in a gloopy little sauce on top of the crispy omelette but folded them into the soft one instead. The waiter showed us how to eat it, lots of white pepper and a good drizzle of Sri Racha, a Thai hot sauce. They were so delicious.

9 February, Cambodia. It's hot - 34 degrees today. We're staying in a lovely timber clad hotel overlooking the river in the centre of Siem Reap, the main reason why tourists come here in their thousands is the UNESCO heritage site of Anghor Wat closeby. Cambodia had 2.1 million visitors last year and over half came here! .Eleven years ago there were neither traffic lights or Tarmac roads in the area, now there are a whole bunch of fancy hotels, two golf courses and lots of foreign investment. There's also an emphasis on green tourism allbeit in it's infancy, but the intention is there..On Wednesday morning we started off in one of the bustling local markets, beautiful fresh produce, lots of unrecognisable greens, fish and shellfish in every shape and form, salted, dried, smoked, pickled.....Women butchers perched cross-legged on raised benches chopping all sorts of unmentionable bits of freshly slaughtered meat..The traditional clay and tin cooking utensils are quickly giving way to brightly coloured plastic from China. Thousands of people work in.the Market and they are all busy, busy, busy, selling, delivering, chopping, wrapping, grating coconut, juicing fruit, grinding.spices...... Later we drove out into the countryside to see one of.the floating villages. Fascinating as ever driving through.the rural areas and little villages . We stopped to buy bamboo rice from a little stall on the roadside. The rice is literally cooked with a few black beans in a piece of hollow bamboo and cooked slowly over a little fire, moist, sticky and delicious. We took a boat right out into the lake to see the houses floating on rafts, again thousands of people live from fishing and all the associated activities, salting, drying, selling. Everyone was super-friendly and good humoured even when our boat broke down and we had to hitch a lift back on another boat. In the evening we had delicious Cambodian food at a restaurant called Sugar Palm. We've an early start this morning, 5:30am to get to Anghor Wat for the Sunrise.

12 February, Phonm Penh, Cambodia. Aaggghhhh!!! I've just eaten a big hairy black tarantula, in fact I ate two - all in the way of research! We're in Phnom Penh now, a crazy city, less tame than Siem Reap. They don't get quite as many tourists here but there's still tons to see and new tastes to experience. Traditionally, the Cambodians ate lots of insects, particularly because they were an inexpensive source of protein. Ours were fried crispy and beautifully presented with chilli, cucumber frills and a little dish of pepper and lime juice. They were actually delicious once I concentrated on the flavour rather than the scary appearance! We had a terrific morning, after an early breakfast, around 7ish, (one has to start early here, it gets blisteringly hot around noon) we went to see the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda -impressive but nothing like as spectacular as the Royal Palace in Bangkok which was one of.the most extraordinarily splendid and opulent collection of buildings I've ever seen.

The National Museum next door is quite small but has among other treasures a fine collection of Buddhas, many of which were rescued from Angkor when the civil war erupted. After all that culture, we hopped into a “moto” as tuc tucs are called here and headed for the Central Market. This is where one gets a real understanding of how the people really live and eat, beautiful fresh produce, a fantastic variety of fresh, dried and salted fish, shellfish, snails, snakes, frogs, even tortoises. In the meat area, women butchers sell pork and chicken and a lot of the fish while men do the macho job of selling beef. The whole.experience is not for the fainthearted, every possible scrap of freshly killed meat and guts are sold and cooked in one way or another. The blood is coagulated to make a blood pudding, I didn't get the name, it's a tonal language that's really difficult to absorb even phonetically. Tim was snapping away, some great photos including one of a chap shaving a pigs head to posh up his stall! Beside every Market there is an eating area with lots of food stalls and food sellers wandering in and out of the Market with bowls of congee or noodle soup for the stall holders. It's all incredibly inexpensive, each stall has one speciality that their reputation depends on. We tasted lots of tempting little dishes. I particularly remember a.little kebab of chicken livers with a tiny puffed up plastic bag of dipping sauce, crispy deep-fried shrimps in batter (still in their shells). I can't wait to try that with Ballycotton shrimps when I get home! There was steamed sweetcorn, but our favourite was whole cuttlefish and huge shrimps grilled over charcoal served with a little plate of crispy cucumber, a kind of squash and lots of fresh herbs including mint and coriander. Again it was served with several dips, segments of lime and local Kapok pepper. Cambodians are sweet, smiling people, eager to help. They often wear funny little check cotton base-ball hats with long wide peaks and a scarf that can cover the back of the neck and mouth to give added protection against sun and pollution. There are a million scooters and motor bikes in the cities and an increasing number of cars. Lexus seems to be the car of choice for the increasingly affluent middle class. Believe it or not there are lots of Hummers here too, purring along side by side with cycles and tuc tucs. The latter are different here, you climb in from the side rather than the back as in Bangkok, they have two rows of seats facing each other, sometimes the seats are covered in satin with little frills behind, so cute. They all try to overcharge of course but it's only an odd dollar here and there. Dollars are accepted everywhere side by side with the local currency.

In the evening, we went to one of the city landmarks, the FCC Club (Foreign Correspondents Club) to have a drink. It overlooks the Mekong River and is a terrific place to people-watch and sip a gin and tonic (Tim) or a mojito (me). The walls are covered with poignant photos of Cambodians who lost limbs by stepping on hidden landmines, still a huge problem here despite the brilliant ongoing work of MAP. We hadn't the faintest idea where to eat so I consulted the dreaded Tripadvisor and found a place called “Friends”, one of several training.restaurants run by an NGO of the same name, it was absolutely brilliant with a great little shop next door selling lots of cool stuff made from recycled materials! The food was cooked and served by the teachers and students, all of whom were originally street kids. On our way back to the hotel we passed a packed “Paddy Rice's Irish pub”, beside a coffin shop overlooking the Mekong river! Irish pubs seem to be like Coca Cola, doesn't matter where you go you'll always find one!

We were staying in the Intercontinental Hotel, but it was almost 30 minutes outside the city and so ghastly that we actually moved out and booked into Raffles Hotel close to the centre. One morning, we took a long-tail boat on the Mekong river, nothing.particularly interesting on this trip. Most of the little bamboo and galvanised Cambodian houses are gradually collapsing into the river or being bulldozed to make way for villas and mansions for the nouveau riche. Many of the people that live by the river seem to just throw all the plastic rubbish out through their back window down onto the river bank. There's a very serious erosion problem for a variety of reasons, partly because so much of the forests have been cut down and partly because they are constantly dredging the Mekong to sell the.sand to Thailand. Closer to the city there is a little community of floating houses and lots of fishing of course. The fishermen use empty yellow vegetable oil bottles as floats for their nets. On another night we went to a noodle shop where an energetic chap hand-made the noodles in front of us, a fascinating but by far the best part of the meal!

16 February, Luang Prabang, Laos. The airport in Luang Prabang is still tiny, although it seems not for long, they are frantically building a huge international airport close by which will bring huge numbers of people to this enchanting little city, already over-loaded with visitors. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995. We were staying in a new hotel about 15 minutes outside the town, it was lovely really except that it was like the Marie Celeste, not another guest in sight, everyone seemed to vanish into town and not return until late at night! The service was like Fawlty Towers with a long series of misunderstandings partly because virtually none of the staff spoke or even understood English. They had no map of the town, no newspapers, they didn't seem to know where things were or what tour options were available. On the way to the airport today, we discovered from the handling company that the hotel is in fact owned by a Thai businessman and virtually all the staff are Thai so it wasn't our imagination, they didn't actually know anything about Luang Prabang! On the first evening, we got a tuc tuc (our favourite mode of transport) into town. A brand new one with brightly coloured stripes arrived driven by a super cool young guy with spiky hair and sneakers with bright red laces to match the tuc tuc. He took us to the night Market, this is a collection of close to a hundred stalls that set up along the main street at night by local tribal people selling all kinds of textiles, souvenirs, and handcrafts supposedly from Laos but much of it seems to be coming in from China now. Here and there are some lovely things so Tim whisked me out of there pretty smartly with lots of muttering about enough clutter!

We had a very good dinner on the veranda of a little restaurant recommended by the Lonely Planet called “Tamarind”, lots of Lao dishes including crisps made from river weed which we saw being harvested next morning when we took a day trip in a covered flat bottomed boat along the Mekong again. On Thursday I decided to take a cooking class in a little school called “Tamnak Lao”. It started at 10am with a Market tour, we arrived back to the school after 11am with the ingredients. There were just four of us in the class. The two teachers demonstrated a couple of dishes which we then cooked for lunch, one was a Lao version of our Traditional salad with roasted peanuts and minced pork, the other a sticky rice noodles with vegetables and chicken called Feu Khua. After a leisurely lunch we had another short demo, this time five dishes from which we could choose three each to cook, I totally loved a sticky aubergine dish with pork, Khua Maak Kheua Gap Moo and a banana flower salad which we cooked in pairs. I was paired up with a.very nice German chap from Munich called Gunter. Overall it was a very worthwhile day and I should be able to reproduce several of the recipes easily. Afterwards, I went back to the “Marie Celeste” for a swim, then back into town for dinner.

We had a terrifically good meal at a restaurant away from the madding crowds in a hotel called “Aspara” overlooking the Khan-Luang Prabang river, a tributary of the Mekong. It was so good that we went back again today for lunch. Last night we ate on the front porch but today we had a little table overlooking the river. We had two absolutely delicious salads, prawn and green papaya salad with chilli and coconut dressing and dried beef salad with mint, coriander and lemongrass (I think it was buffalo rather than beef!) A third one with aubergine, roasted cashew nuts, tomatoes and tons of crispy garlic was less successful. We met the owner, Ivan Scholtz from London, and told him how much we loved his food and asked him for the recipe for the lentil soup and the Massaman Curry from the night before..... Guess what? He gave them to me! It's always worth asking, the worse that can happen is they can say no! If I return to Luang I'll definitely stay there, it's a lovely chic hotel with staff who speak great English!

St Valentine's Day in Luang Prabang in Laos. Tim and I are watching the most beautifulsunset over the Mekong river as we glide along in a flat-bottomed boat towards Luang Prabang. We've been pottering along the river since early morning. There are lots of tiny vegetable gardens on the rich alluvial soil all along the river banks. Higher up above the flood mark (between 20 and 30ft) there are little thatched bamboo and timber houses on stilts with verandas over-looking the river. There's a backdrop of hills and mountainous forest. Here and there are temples half hidden by the trees and glimpses of the Buddist monks in their saffron robes. Some of the temples are super ornate, beautifully gilded and decorative, others are very simple, accessed only by rickety bamboo bridges. The local river people are fishing and collecting river weed off the stones along the rivers edge, it will be washed and sundried and then made into a kind of crisp, sprinkled with sesame seeds which they use to scoop up a variety of dips, one of which includes buffalo skin. They seem frightfully keen on that, I saw lots for sale in the Market.

Our boat has really comfy seats with lots of distressed cushions unlike some of the boats that have recycled car seats and we've just passed a petrol station on a large barge! Around noon there were lots of children down by the rivers edge washing their buffalo and splashing in the rock pools. Later there are young Buddist monks climbing trees and bathing in their robes, giggling and having fun like any young lads of their age......great photo ops everywhere. We stopped at various villages along the way. In one they made a pretty lethal whiskey and you also had the option of buying a pickled snake in a whiskey bottle. In another they had a hand weaving business but nothing I felt tempted to buy. Several hours up the river we came to a cave. We puffed and panted up what felt like a zillion steps in the hot sun, inside the cave there were hundreds of Buddas in every shape and form which had been rescued from various sites during the war – fascinating! Apparently, there are lots of huge caves in Laos, in one over 23,000 people lived inside for over a year. When the bombing started in this very remote area the locals had no idea who was bombing them or why so they just fled into the caves to escape. There were shops, offices, workshops and even an iron foundry and a hospital in the end, extraodinary. It's in North Laos so we didn't get to

17 February. We left Luang Prabang yesterday afternoon and flew to Delhi via Bangkok. We arrived at our hotel, the Leela Kempenski, after midnight and had a nice long snooze. Indian friends Sushil and Ameeta joined us for an early lunch and then we headed off to the airport to catch our 12:10pm Kingfisher flight to Udaipur. It was delayed five times! We eventually left at 7pm, by that stage I was hugely relieved that the plane took off at all. We're now on our way to Udaipur and can't wait to get to the Lake Palace.

20 February, Udaipur to Maheshwar. We reluctantly dragged ourselves away from The Lake Palace in Udaipur this morning. It's an enchanting hotel set in the centre of Lake Pichola. Little flat-bottomed boats with scalloped Mogul canopies ferry guests backwards and forwards to the town. We got a wonderfully arm welcome back and they upgraded us from a standard room to a fabulous suite with a perfect view of the Royal Palace. We had a lovely few days and visited the school in Varvalia that we support and the Seva Mandir Learning Camp where they teach children who have not had the opportunity to go to school before, reading, writing and Basic math. More kids than ever want to come. 200 is the maximum they can take at the moment but they are really struggling to cope because donations have been down for the past couple of years for a variety of reasons not least the recession in the US and Europe. There's also a perception now that India is becoming more prosperous so the need is less but, as ever, a percentage of the population is certainly prospering but trillions of others, particularly the tribals, are still living a medieval subsistance existence.

You can't imagine how thrilled the kids are to be in school, they can hardly bear to waste a second if someone visits. Pryanka Singh, the lovely young Director may pop over to see us when she comes as far as London later in the year, if she does we'll try to do an event to raise funds. We drove for eight hours from Udaipur to Maheshwar through fascinating changes in landscape. From our tourist jeep, we saw everything from rice and barley to opium and chillies growing in the fields. Lots of handmade bricks and smoking kilns, marble works, potteries making beautiful functional water pots. Sometimes the road was a state-of-the-art new motorway and then suddenly it runs out and we're onto an indescribable dirt track with higgedledly-piggedly road-works everywhere. There were goats and cattle and sheep and camels and buffalo carts piled high with fodder or firewood. Eventually we arrived in Maheshwar, to find that millions of people had descended on the town to visit the Temple to celebrate the Festival of Lord Vishnu and Pravadi so we couldn't get to Ayhila Fort which is just beside the temple. Eventually we were rescued and arrived back to this beautiful heritage hotel which we discovered. We are staying in a little room over the Elephant gates, very basic and a complete contrast to the luxurious Lake Palace but still lovely, we move into the house tomorrow.

Now I'm sitting on the upper terrace overlooking the ghats at the edge of the Narmada river, the second most sacred river in India. Underneath, hundreds of people are doing puja and bathing in the river to wash their sins away. Others are floating little candles in leaf baskets to bring blessings to their friends. In the distance the monks are chanting and further on some chap is belting out Bollywood hits to entertain guests at one of the myriad of weddings that take place in February which apparently is an auspicious month for weddings, it's really magical. The sky is full of stars and Tim is trying to work out which is which with his new app. Time to go to dinner and then for the long journey home.

Maheshwar to Delhi and home via Abu Dabhi and Dublin. Were winging our way to Delhi now having driven two and a half hours from Maheshwar to Indore. It's always fascinating driving through the countryside in India, almost never a moment when there aren't people in your view. The countryside was flat and fertile overall, lots of small crops of wheat, barley, garlic, onions, chickpeas, cotton, sugar cane, chillies, papayas, rice, and an occasional plot of poppies. The women were working in the fields harvesting garlic in their beautiful saris as though they were dressed for a ball. Nowadays there's an occasional tractor but still lots of bullock carts piled high with fodder and in a semi-desert area we saw several herds of camels.

The road has greatly improved since last year and a brand new airport building has opened at Indore, consequently we nearly missed the plane because there were no announcements. We loved Ahilya Fort, the owner arrived back from Kashmir on Thursday, he adds a whole extra dimension to the place. Dinner was served last night by the pool illuminated by hundreds of little oil lamps, there are several people here who stay at Ballymaloe.

In the morning after breakfast we took a trip in a rowing boat on the Narmada river. The ghats (quays) were alive with activity, women washing their clothes and holding up their saris to dry in the gentle breeze. Further down, several groups of people and holy men were doing various rituals and bathing in the sacred river to wash away their sins. Everyone is enormously devout and each has their favourite God whom they pray to constantly and visit in the temples. Further down the river we watched chaps diving from little flat bottomed boats to collect gravel in tin basins from the river bed, apparently it's brilliant for building! In the distance we could hear the monks in the nearby temple chanting their morning prayers. The river is slow moving and tranquil, magical.

We arrived into Delhi in the early afternoon, but our flight back home isn't until 4am so it's been brilliant to be able to rest and have supper here.



The Thousandth Man

By Rudyard Kipling

One man in a thousand, Solomon says,

Will stick more close than a brother.

And it’s worth while seeking him half your days

If you find him before the other.

Nine hundred and ninety-nine depend

On what the world sees in you,

But the Thousandth Man will stand your friend

With the whole round world agin you.

‘Tis neither promise nor prayer nor show

Will settle the finding for ‘ee.

Nine hundred and ninety-nine of ‘em go

By your looks or your acts or your glory.

But if he finds you and you find him,

The rest of the world don’t matter;

For the Thousandth Man will sink or swim

With you in any water.

You can use his purse with no more talk

Than he uses yours for his spendings,

And laugh and meet in your daily walk

As though there had been no lendings.

Nine hundred and ninety-nine of ‘em call

For silver and gold in their dealings;

But the Thousandth Man he’s worth ‘em all,

Because you can show him your feelings.

His wrong’s your wrong, and his right’s your right,

In season or out of season.

Stand up and back it in all men’s sight—

With that for your only reason!

Nine hundred and ninety-nine can’t bide

The shame or mocking or laughter,

But the Thousandth Man will stand by your side

To the gallows-foot—and after!






"This morning the King rode forth very early to hunt and the Queen is ridden

to Our Lady of Caversham."



IN THE THIRTEENTH CENTURY, the Benedictine monks of Reading decided to build

a bridge across the Thames at Caversham where there was a little island. It

seemed a perfect place in which to erect a chapel to St Anne, Mother of Our

Lady, and they signified their intention to King Henry Ill. He approved and

sent an oak tree from the Forest of Windsor to provide wood for the chapel


Caversham had long been a centre of Marian devotion. WaIter Gifford, Earl of

Buckingham, founded an abbey at nearby Notley in 1162 and endowed St Peter's

Church, Caversham in 1199. There was a Chapel of Our Lady nearby at this


Once the bridge had been built, the shrine of Our Lady of Caversham was

transferred to the island and took its place next to the chapel of St Anne.

The Benedictines were well connected and the shrine at Caversham was richly

endowed. For example, in 1439 Countess Isabel of Warwick gave 'to Our Lady

of Caversham, a crown of gold made from my chain and other gold in my

cabinet to the weight of twenty pounds'. It was one of the richest crowns of

Our Lady in Europe at that time and was regularly visited by the great and

the good. Henry VIII himself made a pilgrimage to the shrine on 17 July


But at the time of Henry VIII's quarrel with Rome and the subsequent

dissolution of the monasteries, the shrine at Caversham was looted by Thomas

Cromwell on behalf of the King. Cromwell's infamous commissioner,Dr London,

reported: 'I have pulled down the image of Your Lady at Caversham, with all

its trinkets, shrouds, candles, wax images, crutches and brooches and I have

thoroughly defaced the chapel. The image is altogether plated with silver. I

have put her in a box, fast locked and nailed. By the next barge it shall be

brought to my lord, with her coats, cap and hair and divers relics.' After

this desecration, typical of what was happening nationwide, the shrine fell

into disuse for centuries.

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An Image in White Marble

Only after the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 did plans emerge for the

restoration of the shrine. Even so, it was not until 1896 that the first

public Mass was celebrated in the village, and at that time there were no

more than a dozen local Catholics.

As numbers of Catholics increased, in 1903 a new parish church of Our Lady

and St Anne was built. The following year a tower with bells was added. The

parish was fortunate in having a wealthy benefactress who provided

vestments, an organ, a high altar in marble, the south aisle, its altar and

an eighteenth-century white marble statue of the Blessed Virgin. A new

priest, Father Michael Williams, arrived in the parish in 1920. A superb

administrator, he extended the church building, improved the school and

generally increased the reputation of Caversham throughout the country.

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A Very Feminine Image

Devotion so increased in Caversham that a larger church was consecrated in

1954, a Marian Year. Its altar is constructed from the foundations of the

original chapel on the island in the Thames. Every year Caversham attracted

thousands of pilgrims, many of whom wrote to the parish priest offering

their testimonies of cures and blessings received.


The new church already contained a chapel dedicated to St Anne, and it was

decided to build a chapel to Our Lady. A medieval oak statue for this

splendid chapel on the north side was provided by a Catholic antique dealer.

A truly imposing figure, in the course of time it has suffered what is

obviously malicious damage to Our Lady's breast. The statue is a very human

and feminine representation of the Virgin as she suckles the Infant Jesus.

Her hair falls over Her shoulders down to her waist. The design suggests

that it is of northern European origin, probably from the region of Utrech

in the Netherlands, and it is regarded as an artistic masterpiece as well as

an object of spiritual devotion.

It is a source of delight to local people and pilgrims alike that so many of

the stones from the original shrine have been incorporated into the building

of the new one. So continuity is maintained between the historical devotion

paid by kings and queens of England and the living faith of modern times.

Caversham is a small shrine and there are no large scale commemorative

events, but Masses are said on all the Feasts of Our Lady and the parish

priest is very glad to arrange services for pilgrims - either to be

conducted by himself or pilgrims' own priest by arrangement.

St. Anne

The mother of the Virgin Mary, St Anne, is not mentioned in the Bible but

first appears in a second-century document. Emperor Justinian built a church

dedicated to her in Constantinople in the sixth century. Pope Urban VI

ordered her Feast Day, 26 July, to be especially celebrated in England in

order to popularize the marriage of Richard II to Anne of Bohemia in the

fourteenth century. St Anne is Patron Saint of Brittany.

The Benedictines

This Order of monks was founded upon the rule of St Benedict (480-550), who

established monasteries at Subbiaco and Monte Cassino. By the ninth century,

most monks and nuns in Europe considered themselves members of the Order or

family of St Benedict. Through their careful copying and preserving of

manuscripts, Benedictines became the custodians of classical learning

through the Dark Ages after the break-up of the Roman Empire in the 5th

century and the invasions of tribes from the east which followed. The

nineteenth century saw a strong revival of the Benedictine Order, which

included the founding of the monastery of St Vincent, Pennsylvania in 1846.

The Rule of St Benedict is a prescribed way of life for the monastic

community It is administered by the Abbot and its principal duty is the

worship of the Divine Office.



The Royal Escape | Our Lady of Brewood

Between Stafford and Wolverhampton lies the small town of Brewood. The

Shropshire Union Canal runs through it and the Roman highway, Watling

Street, passes to the north of this quiet and attractive place which is

dominated by the tower and spire of the large Anglican church dedicated to

St Mary and St Chad.

The size of the church in so small a town seems at first sight to be out of

all proportion even to the aspirations of the most ambitious and eager

clergyman. St Chad is responsible for this bold statement of faith, for when

he was summoned in the seventh century from his beloved monastery in

Lastingham to become Bishop of Lichfield, he found peace in this village.

The new Bishop preferred to walk rather than to ride, and in the two short

years of his episcopate Chad covered great distances on foot within his

diocese, spreading the Gospel wherever he went and talking to all whom he

encountered. Although his home was amongst his monks in the monastery and

church he had built in Lichfield, Chad frequently returned to Brewood.

In the year 672, one of Chad's monks was working in the fields when he heard

the sweet sound of angelic singing and, lifting his head in wonder, he

realized that it was coming from the little oratory in which the saint was

praying. When questioned, Chad explained that the angels had come to summon

him to heaven and that they would return in seven days' time. Gathering his

monks around him, he exhorted them to lead good and holy lives, and on the

seventh day the angels duly returned. The memory of St Chad is honoured in

churches in the area and especially in Brewood.

Future bishops of Lichfield appear to have shared St Chad's fondness for the

place, and during the thirteenth century it was decided that only a church

of episcopal proportions would be appropriate.

Within the chancel of this beautiful church lie four tombs of members of the

Giffard family; the women's dresses are delicately ruffled and the men are

clad in armour. The finely-carved alabaster figures appear to be resting

momentarily, for these are men and women of action, and their stories

propelled this quiet backwater into the glare of history.

The earliest tomb contains the remains of the sixteenth-century Sir John

Giffard. The keeping of exotic wild animals in private menageries was not

unusual at the time and Sir John kept a panther at his home in nearby

Chillington Castle. One day the panther escaped, whereupon Sir John and his

son set out in pursuit and eventually discovered the animal stalking a woman

carrying a child. Drawing his crossbow, Giffard shot the panther as it

sprang and the place where the rescue happened was marked by an oak cross,

known since then as Giffard's Cross. When news of this feat reached King

Henry VIII, the family was rewarded with a crest emblazoned with an image of

the head of the panther. Sir John died at the age of ninety and lies in

Tudor armour beside his two wives, surrounded by the carved images of their

eighteen children.

Queen Elizabeth I visited the next John Giffard in 1575, but this did not

save him from many years' imprisonment for his Catholic faith. Despite a

strong declaration of allegiance to the Queen when the country faced

invasion by the Spanish Armada in the 1580s, Giffard forfeited his estates.

He died in 1613 and lies clad in fine armour inlaid with steel.

In the north aisle there is a memorial plaque to William Carless and a copy

of the Grant of Arms to him by King Charles ll. Although Carless lies buried

in an unmarked grave in Brewood churchyard, his association with Charles

Giffard in 1651 provides the background to what is surely the greatest

escape in English history; an escape which enabled the Catholic inhabitants

of Brewood to practise their religion without fear of persecution and also

led indirectly to the founding of the shrine of Our Lady of Brewood.

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The Royal Escape

This corner of Staffordshire was once an area of almost impenetrable

woodland, much of it belonging to the Giffard estate.

Deep in Brewood forest there stood a twelfth-century Augustinian priory

which had been absorbed into the Giffard estates after the dissolution of

the monasteries. This was a time of mixed feelings for Sir John Giffard. Sir

John had prospered during the reign of King Henry VIII, having acquired

considerable wealth through his own marriage and that of his son. He had

managed to acquire several nunneries and other monastic properties as they

lay empty and abandoned after their occupants had been expelled. Amongst

these properties was the Augustinian priory of Whiteladies and the

Benedictine priory of Blackladies at Brewood. When the Augustinian nuns

departed, they left behind them an ancient wooden figure of the Blessed

Virgin, which was treasured and cared for by the Catholic Penderels, tenants

of the Giffards in the remote manor of Whiteladies. Surrounded by woodland

and wildlife, the house and the ruins would probably have remained hidden

from the public gaze had it had not been for the dramatic events of 1651.

At the first light of dawn on 4 September, a small group of horsemen in fear

of their lives reached the forest of Brewood, having narrowly evaded their

pursuers on the journey north. One member of the group had a price of £1,000

on his royal head, and among his companions was a member of the Giffard

family on whose land they were to find temporary sanctuary.

This journey was the culmination of an enterprise which had begun in heady

optimism. Eighteen months after the execution of King Charles I in 1649, his

son, King Charles II arrived in Scotland from Holland, determined to reclaim

the crowns of England, Scotland and Ireland. The royal party reached

Worcester on 22 August with apparent ease. However, only twelve days later,

on 3 September, the royalist forces suffered a decisive defeat at the hands

of the Parliamentarians under Oliver Cromwell. Hundreds were left dead or

wounded. Escape was vital if the king's life was to be saved, and Charles

Giffard was among those who urged the King to flee with all speed.

As Catholics, the Giffards knew of a well-established network of safe

houses, and were familiar with the vigilance and courage necessary in order

to harbour Catholic priests and move them safely from one place to another.

Such valuable knowledge was a priceless asset to the Giffards as they

embarked on planning the king's escape.

As the dawn broke on 4 September Charles Giffard, with the small group

including the King, headed initially for a Giffard hunting lodge, Boscobel

House. Fearing for their safety, Giffard escorted the King and his

companions deeper into the forest to Whiteladies, where the Penderels helped

to disguise their sovereign. Richard Penderel lent his breeches, an old

shirt and a pair of shoes. The shoes turned out to be excruciatingly

uncomfortable and caused great distress to Charles, who could barely walk in

them, and accounts of this great adventure are littered with tales of the

bathing of the royal feet in different and dangerous venues. The royal hair

was cut by Richard Penderel, and immediately after nightfall the group

departed, heading for Wales. While the King had his feet bathed in vinegar,

the Penderels learnt that government forces were searching every ferry and

bridge that crossed the River Severn. In haste, the weary party returned to

Boscobel, where many priests had found refuge.

At Boscobel the King met an old friend, William Carless. The Parliamentary

forces were everywhere and Charles and Carless climbed into an oak tree

which was to become famous as 'The Boscobel Oak'. The tree had recently been

pollarded and therefore had a thick growth of leaves forming a bowl, in

which the two hid for fourteen hours in incessant heavy rain. With bread and

some beer to sustain them, Charles and Carless watched through the leaves as

the Parliamentary troops searched the very ground beneath them. In the late

evening the two clambered stiffly down from the tree and made their way to

Boscobel House for supper.

The sovereign was then shown into a priest's hiding hole where he remained

for the night. The hole was four foot square and Charles stood over six


The following day news was received from the King's friend Lord Wilmot, who

had been with him on his visit to Whiteladies. The King, accompanied by the

Penderel brothers, hurried to join Wilmot at another Catholic safe house,

Moseley Old Hall. It was here that he met Father John Huddleston, with whom

he had long discussions about the Catholic faith. While at Moseley, Charles

read a book written by Father Huddleston's uncle, the Benedictine Richard

Huddleston, A short and plain way to the Faith and the Church, and took it

with him when he left. When he lay dying thirty-four years later Charles

sent for 'Father Huddleston, who once more prayed with him, anointed him and

gave him Holy Communion before sending him on his final journey.

When word eventually reached the Parliamentary forces of the route taken by

the royal party and of their brief stay on the Giffard estate, Whiteladies

was ransacked and the building almost destroyed by fire. In the melee the

wooden statue of the Blessed Virgin was badly damaged: the knee of the

figure was pierced by a sword and a passing bullet lodged in the back.

Shortly afterwards, the statue was taken for safe keeping to Blackladies in

Brewood, the Benedictine nunnery acquired by the Giffards at the time of the

Dissolution. Here the figure remained for over 200 years.

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Our Lady of Brewood

In 1844 the Giffards gave the land for a new Catholic church in Brewood. The

building was designed by the architect Augustus Pugin in late

thirteenth-century style with glorious stained-glass windows, three of which

were donated by Pugin. A chapel had been established in the house at

Blackladies in 1791 to serve the needs of local Catholics, and in 1887 the

statue of Our Lady was taken from this chapel and placed on a stone altar in

the Lady chapel of the new church, which is now known as the shrine of Our

Lady of Brewood. The hole made by the Parliamentarian bullet is clearly

visible and it is said that the wound on the knee of the figure occasionally

weeps. Remarkable cures have been claimed by grateful petitioners.

Beside the altar in the Lady chapel a silk collage hangs on the wall, made

by members of the parish and a seamstress from Stafford. On the wall beneath

hangs an account of the shrine of Our Lady of Brewood by Peter Gosling, in

which he describes the imagery of the different sections of the picture.

Mary stands holding the document which gave the Catholics of Brewood the

freedom to practise their faith without fear of penalty, in acknowledg_ment

of the King's debt to the town. Although tacitly understood, the Deed of

Immunity was not approved until April 1716, by which time George I was on

the throne. The oak leaves recall King Charles II’s sojourn in the Boscobel

oak. The coat of arms of the Giffards is shown as a reminder of their gift

of land for the church. There is a graphic image of the panther escaping

from Chillington Castle, and of the brave Sir John Giffard who saved the

life of the woman and her child.

I came with other pilgrims to this beautiful church and, after the

celebration of Mass and prayers before the shrine, we walked in the evening

sunshine through the lanes to the Anglican church of St Mary and St Chad. We

stood before the tombs of the remarkable Giffards and the nearby memorial to

the King's friend, William Carless. For the rest of his life, Carless wished

to be known as 'Carlos' in honour of the King he had served so bravely. How

different the history of England might have been if Charles Giffard had not

brought his exhausted sovereign to the forest of Brewood on that fateful

night, less than twenty-four hours after the commencement of battle at

Worcester. However, they found safety here as they hurried through the

shadows of the manor of Whiteladies, passing the carved figure of the

Blessed Virgin on their way.

The silk collage which hangs near to the statue includes the image of an

acorn which is a reminder of the King's time spent in the oak tree, and also

represents the growth of faith in this area. Two thriving churches bear

witness to this. At the beginning of the third millennium they flourish and

reach out to the community in the shared Christian charity of more peaceful




In the Abbey at Evesham were enshrined three or four images of Our Blessed

Lady St Mary, having in Her lap Our Saviour Jesus Christ in the form of a

little babe; and these were set at every altar, and right well painted and

fair arranged in gold and divers colours to which the people that beheld

them showed great devotion.


Evesham is an ancient market town set in rich countryside on the banks of

the River Avon, not far from Shakespeare's Stratford. Towards the end of the

seventh century, Egwin was made Bishop of Worcester; he at once made enemies

because of the ferocity with which he tried to sup-press pagan practices in

his diocese. To escape from his opponents, he took refuge in a hermitage.

Word of his strictness, most probably highly exaggerated, reached Rome and

Egwin was commanded to travel to the Holy City and give an account of


He decided he would make the journey as a penitent, so he fixed chains to

his legs and threw the key into the river. Tradition says that he celebrated

Mass at St Peter's as soon as he arrived and then sat down to a fish dinner.

Inside the fish was an exact replica of the key he had cast into the Avon.

When the Pope heard about this miraculous event, he dismiss-ed all the

charges against Egwin who was allowed to return to England at once. He was

further honoured when King Ethelred of Mercia gave him the land on which his

hermitage had been built.

Three Miraculous Women

Not long after Egwin's restoration, a swineherd named Eoves saw an

apparition of three supernatural women singing psalms and heavenly melodies.

He went for comfort and counsel to the saintly Bishop Egwin. Next day, Egwin

himself went with his retinue to the same place, and saw the same vision. He

looked at them steadfastly, particularly at the middle figure who was

holding an open book and a golden cross. Egwin knew intuitively that she was

the blessed Virgin. She made a sign of blessing with the cross and then her

two maids disappeared.

Egwin promised to build a shrine to Our Lady on the site of his vision. He

requested funds from King Ethelred, who generously provided land and money

for a church.

In 704 the church was completed and staffed by Benedictines. Soon renowned

throughout England, an abbey was also built there. It became a shrine to St

Egwin and his bones were buried there.

After the Norman Conquest of 1066, an even larger church was erected - a

great cathedral-like Gothic structure which took two centuries to build.

Mass was said daily in honour of Our Lady, conducted on the grand scale with

many priests and acolytes. There were written medieval records of a statue

of the Madonna and Child, but no trace of this image remains after the

savage destruction of the abbey at the dissolution of the religious houses

in the sixteenth century.

However, after the Reformation the title of Abbot of Eves ham was attached

to the English Benedictines at Woolhampton in Berkshire. In this way,

ancient connections have been maintained through the main shrine of Our Lady

in Evesham.

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The Evesham Prayer Cards

In 1889 the Passionist Fathers, founded by St Paul of the Cross in 1737 and

named after their vow of devotion to the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ,

arrived and built a little chapel in Evesham. Eleven years later the parish

was given its own priest, Monsignor Patten, who built a new church named

after the Immaculate Conception and St Egwin. Between the two world wars the

parish priest, Father Arthur Proudman, published The Evesham Prayer Card

which is now widely used by pilgrims.

The Shrine Today

Since the 1930s there has been an increasing flow of pilgrims and visitors

to this ancient site. In 1952 there was a great procession when a new statue

of the Blessed Virgin was carried from Our Lady's Church in Evesham High

Street to the place where the ancient shrine stood by the river; this is now

an annual event.

The big day of the year for Evesham is the annual pilgrimage which is always

held on the second Sunday in June. People gather at the church for a picnic

lunch and process through the town to the abbey park where Mass is

celebrated at 3 p.m. Enriching the regular spiritual life of the shrine is a

daily Rosary, said after the 10 a.m. Mass. There is also a Novena on

Wednesdays at 7 p.m.




In this place the Queen of Heaven did stretch forth her hand to save my son.


KNARESBOROUGH is a beautiful market town on the banks of the River Nidd in

the Yorkshire Dales. Its sturdy castle dates from 1070 and the town is also

famous for Mother Shipton's Cave, the hermitage of the medieval prophetess

who is said to have pre-dicted motor cars, aeroplanes, space travel and the

end of the world.

Steep cliffs rise from the river's edge and in one of these is the shrine of

Our Lady of the Crag, a tiny cave measuring only about three metres high and

two deep. Entry is by an arched wooden door, and immediately the visitor is

impressed by an elaborate vaulted roof carved out of the rock. There are

pillars and corbels, on one of which is carved a rose which predates the

Tudor rose emblem first seen in the late fifteenth century. Opposite the

arched entrance is a niche containing a statue of Our Lady.

Also carved by the entrance is the figure of one of the Knights Templar, a

military religious order originally based in the Holy Land to protect

pilgrims, who were then living locally at Little Ribston. He is undoubtedly

portrayed as the guardian of the shrine.

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The Poet Laureate at Knaresborough

The shrine to Our Lady of the Crag was hewn out of the cliff face in 1408

by John the Mason and is believed to be one of the oldest wayside shrines in

Britain. John was a local stonemason who worked in a nearby quarry. His son

was playing under the cliff one day when there was a sudden rock fall, but

he was unharmed even though he had been standing immediately under the

rock-face. When the boulders came crashing down. John attributed the boy's

escape to the miraculous protection of the Blessed Virgin, and built the

shrine in thanksgiving and as a perpetual commemoration.

The original wooden statue of Our Lady either rotted away over the centuries

or was destroyed at the time of the Reformation. An elegant stone statue of

the Madonna and Child now stands in the niche between two of the medieval

pillars. This image was installed in 1916 when the shrine was bought and

restored by John Martin, a Liverpool Catholic who then gave the shrine to

Ampleforth Abbey on whose behalf it is now cared for by the Catholic parish

of St Mary's, Knaresborough.

Protected by cliffs and set above the river among tall trees, the shrine of

Our Lady of the Crag is a perfect haven for private prayer and quiet

contemplation. Its many famous visitors have included the poet Wordsworth,

who mistook it for the cell of the medieval hermit St Robert - an easy

mistake, since St Robert's cave is set in the rock a mere three kilometres


The cave shrine is not large enough to allow Mass to be celebrated inside.

Instead services are occasionally said in the open air on the hillside.

O Sleep! It is a gentle thing

O Sleep! It is a gentle thing

Beloved from pole to pole

To Mary Queen the praise be given!

She sent the gentle sleep from heaven

That slid into my soul.



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