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MILK AND SOLIDS: SPIRITUAL ADULTHOOD

A child becomes a man when he stops taking and begins to give

“Psychologists tell us that a child becomes a man when he stops taking and begins to give. A sense of responsibility for others is the basic proof of emotional maturity.

Most of us can illustrate this dictum from our own observation. We know of overprotected children who, as young adults with well paying jobs, spend most of their money on themselves. They still expect dad and mom to provide them with room and board. They may be in their twenties, yet continue to take rather than to give.

This emotional immaturity, this taking rather than giving, can be ruinous to the happiness of a marriage. It characterises the husband (or wife) who seeks primarily his own satisfaction, whether in marital intercourse or in any other area of the partnership.

The essence of love

The essence of love, whether in marriage or in friendship, consists in the giving of self to the one loved. It is almost impossible for the immature person ever really to love another because he knows only how to take. To him, love is a one way street terminating in himself.

We can see this readily enough in the relationship of human to human. Perhaps it has not occurred to us that this also is true of man’s relationship to God. There is such a thing as being spiritually immature. The mark of this immaturity is, once again, the habit of taking rather than giving…

The immature Christian… aims to maintain a cosy You-me relationship with God. [He prays for personal favours, usually for material and worldly things, and expects to draw answers for his requests.] As for his relationships with other people, he keeps them on a strictly practical basis, not on the basis of a brother’s need and his own ability to help. He helps those who can be expected to help him in return. Others must look out for themselves. He is not his brother’s keeper.

There are too many immature Christians… That is why Christ has been so sorely hindered in His efforts to transform the world. That is why, after 2000 years, we still have so much poverty and ignorance, so much hatred and so many wars. Like an inept player on a football team, the immature Christian stands in Christ’s way instead of running interference for Him.

Up to this point we have been talking rather impersonally. The immature Christian is a shadowy person. He is that man or woman across the street, that fellow or girl at the next desk or machine.

Maybe. Also maybe it is that person whom I see in the mirror. There may be an awakening in store for me if I ask myself and answer in complete honesty: ‘In my spiritual life, as I live day by day, am I a giver or a taker?'”

– From: One Step Enough, Fr Leo J. Trese, 1966

 

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2015 in Words of Wisdom

 

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ST SHENOUTE: THOSE WHO STUMBLE OVER FAULTS AND SINS CAN DRAW ENCOURAGEMENT FROM HIM

“On … 1st July, one of the saints remembered by the wider Christian Church is St Shenoute. He was born around the year 340 in Shenalolet in Egypt. St Shenoute became a monk at the Dair-al-Abiad monastery near Stripe. In 385, after the death of the abbot, St Shenoute was chosen as the new abbot.

He ruled the monastery in a very strict way

He ruled the monastery in a very strict way. A new innovation he brought in was the requirement for every monk and nun to sign an oath to adhere to a strict pattern of life that led to holiness. Any violation to the rule was severely punished. As well as running a strict rule of life in the monastery, St Shenoute saw to it that outside the monastery any vestiges of paganism or heresy were eliminated. Despite this harshness, or because of it, over 2,200 monks and 1,800 nuns joined the religious communities of St Shenoute. He became the head of all the other monastic abbots in the area and became known as one of the outstanding figures of monasticism in Egypt at that time.

Although very strong in certain matters, St Shenoute had a compassionate streak as well. When prisoners and property were taken in a local war, the King promised St Shenoute some property. However, St Shenoute asked instead for the prisoners, whom he released. He provided them with some money to enable them to return to their loved ones. We are told these prisoners went away glorifying God and his saint, St Shenoute.

If we believe the biographer of St Shenoute, he lived to be 118 years old. He is recorded as dying in the year 466. Many suggest that St Shenoute doesn’t come across as positively as some of the ‘nicer’ saints like St Therese or St Francis. But perhaps his personality and harshness shows us that sanctity is possible for people with character flaws and faults. Thus, for those of us who stumble over faults and sins, we can draw encouragement from St Shenoute.”

– Spiritual Thought from Fr Chris/June 2015

 

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PRAYERS FOR POPE FRANCIS ON THE SOLEMNITY OF STS PETER AND PAUL

“On this Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul let us remember to pray for Pope Francis, the successor of St Peter. Pope Francis has shown great courage in reforming the Roman Curia and the Vatican Bank. He also lives a simple lifestyle and shows a great example how we should live a Gospel life in the Church. His mercy and love has been admired by people all over the world and he has travelled much to make contact with those in the church who particularly need support. A few days ago Pope Francis issued an encyclical letter addressed to all peoples of the world concerning environmental issues. This will contribute greatly to the discussion taking place about how we look after our planet, which is our common home.

So we should pray for Pope Francis that he will fulfil the mission given to him by God and that he will always be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in leading us in the Church.” (St Saviour’s)

 
 

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HAPPY IS THE SOUL WHO PLAYS THE PART OF A LEAF TO THOSE AROUND HIM

When the sun darts forth his fiery rays…

“When the sun darts forth his fiery rays on the earth, we like to shelter under the pleasant freshness of the foliage of the trees. These leaves which shelter us are but slight things, and yet they are the ornament of nature, the place of refuge for the bird, the home for the insect. They soften too, the hard bed of the poor, and protect the delicate plants from the severity of the winter weather.

Happy is the soul who plays the part of a leaf

Happy is the soul who plays the part of a leaf to those around him.

Happy he, whose kind words have served to shelter and protect the suffering heart!

Happy he who has been able to relieve the wretchedness, the suffering, the troubles and the sorrows of his brothers, and to keep alive the spark of faith in their souls.

Happy the Christian, who, like the leaf, has been able to fulfil his mission and to do good during his life; he shall await without fear the winter time, which will procure for him the joys of eternity.”

– Laverty & Sons (eds), 1905

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2015 in Words of Wisdom

 

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THE CHURCH IS A COLLECTION OF SOULS, BROUGHT TOGETHER IN ONE BY GOD’S SECRET GRACE

What we see is not the whole of the Church, but the visible part of it

“The Church is a collection of souls, brought together in one by God’s secret grace, though that grace comes to them through visible instruments, and unites them to a visible hierarchy.

What is seen, is not the whole of the Church, but the visible part of it. When we say that Christ loves his Church, we mean that he loves, nothing of earthly nature but the fruit of his own grace… in innumerable hearts.”

– Bl. John Henry Newman

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2015 in Words of Wisdom

 

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OUTLAWED FOR POLITICAL REASONS: CATHOLICS IN LANCASHIRE, ENGLAND

From then he was declared an outlaw

“Whether we consider the castellated tower – one of the finest in the kingdom, or the pride of the de Houghtons – or the heroic sacrifice which the head of the family made in leaving it and his country for religion’s sake, or, again, the constancy of the country people which has persevered to this day, despite the forcible Protestantism of the hero’s grandson, on each of these accounts Hoghton and Brindle are unequalled in interest even in Catholic Lancashire.

‘At Houghton Hygh, which is a bower

Of sports and lordly pleasure,

I wept and left that lofty tower

Which was my chiefest treasure.

To save my soule and lose ye reste

Yt was my trew pretence;

Lyke frightened bird, I left my neste

To keep my conscience.’

Mr. Gillow says on the death of his father, August 5, 1558, Thomas Hoghton succeeded to the family estates. At this period William Allen, afterwards Cardinal, visited Lancashire, and was a guest at Hoghton Tower. In common with the gentry and people of Lancashire, Hoghton repudiated the new religion which was being forced upon the country.

Every type of pressure was devised by the government to force Catholic Christians to renounce the Faith

Every kind of pressure was devised by the Council to drive the people into attendance at the Protestant service. Fines and imprisonment were inflicted in rapid succession, and Catholics were outlawed and deprived of all protection. Under these circumstances, feeling that he could not remain in the country and keep his conscience, Hoghton took the advice of his friend Vivian Haydock, and in 1569 he hired a vessel and sailed from his mansion of The Lea, on the Rible, to the coast of France, and thence proceeded to Antwerp. From this he was declared an outlaw, and possession was taken of his estates.

The state took possession of his estates

On March 17, 1576, his half-brother Richard obtained a licence from Queen Elizabeth to visit the exile in Antwerp, with intent to persuade him to submit to the royal pleasure. Hoghton was anxious to return, but could not make terms with the Court to retain his religion; he therefore remained in exile until his death, which occurred at Liege, June 2, 1580, aged sixty-three. He was buried under the high altar of the English College, Douai, which he had helped to found. He charged his executors to remove his body to the place where his ancestors lay in the parish church of Preston, of which the Hoghtons were patrons, when God should have mercy on his country, and restore to it the Catholic Faith and service.

‘Hys lyfe a mirrour was to all,

Hys death wythout offence;

Confessor, then, lett us him call,

O blessed conscience.’

His son and namesake, Thomas Hoghton, went with his father into exile, and was not recognised on the escheat in 1580. He was placed with Dr. Allen at Douai College, whence he left to visit his father in Brabant in 1577. He probably returned, for he matriculated in the University of Douai, was ordained priest, and proceeded to the English Mission. He had no sooner arrived in Lancashire than he was seized and thrown into Salford Gaol, where great numbers of recusants were confined.

The great band of confessors of the Faith who perished in prison unrecorded

There his name appears in the list of priests returned to the Council by Edmund Trafford and Robert Worsley in 1582. He was one of those who ‘do still contynue in their obstinate opynions; neyther do wee see anye likelyhoode of conformytie in any of them.’ His name continues in the lists of recusants imprisoned at Salford until January, 1584, after which it is lost sight of, and in all probability he went to swell the great band of confessors of the Faith who perished in prison unrecorded.

The half-brother of the exile, and curiously his namesake, Thomas Hoghton, was slain in a feud with the Baron of Newton in 1589, and his eldest son, being a minor, was given in ward to Sir Gilbert Gerard, the Master of the Rolls, to be brought up a Protestant. This system of gaining over Catholic families to the new religion was constantly practised, as in the case of Sir Roger Bradshaigh and others who were cruelly robbed of the Faith. All the rest of the family were true to the old religion, and the Hoghtons would still have been Catholics but for this unjust proceeding. Thus wrote Mr. Gillow in 1887, but recently the heir to the Hoghton estates has become a Catholic, and having married a Catholic lady, their children are being educated in the Faith for which the de Hoghton of 1580 was so staunch a confessor.

It is of interest to remember that it was at Hoghton Tower in 1617 that King James, in the present banqueting hall, solemnly knighted the Sirloin of Beef, an incident which the writers of the Victorian History of Lancashire, despite their very full account of Hoghton, have thought fit to omit. Possibly the facts are none too decorous, but the incident tells us much of the manners of the royal guest and his court.

Venerable Edmund Arrowsmith

To turn now to matters more ecclesiastical, the earlier directories of the Archdiocese of Liverpool (e.g., 1915) give the date of the Brindle Mission thus: 16 – , 1786. The latter is the date of the present church, cut in stone above the doorway of the chapel, and very pretentious the date looks. The former figures, 16 -, need some completion. Fortunately, there are plenty of records from which to compile our story.

The chief jewel in the crown of the Brindle Mission is the holy martyr Edmund Arrowsmith, who attended to the Catholics in the district for some years, and the story of whose arrest is so graphically given in Dom Bede Camm’s Forgotten Shrines. Father Arrowsmith came to the English Mission in 1613, the year after his ordination, and resided for the most part with relatives of his family at Denham Hall. Mr. Gillow in his Notes on Brindle (Cat. Rec. Soc., vol. 23) mentions that about 1622 Father Arrowsmith was apprehended and brought before Dr. Bridgeman, Bishop of Chester, with whom he had a controversy before being committed to Lancaster Castle. Thence he was released about the time of the negotiations for a marriage between Prince Charles (later Charles II) and a Spanish Princess. Shortly afterwards he joined the Society of Jesus, as he had long desired, making his novitiate on the mission, but spent two or three months in Essex before his profession under the name of Rigby in 1624. From that date he continued to serve the Mission at Brindle and the neighbourhood till his apprehension in 1628. He was arraigned at Lancaster, condemned to death for being a priest, and martyred August 28, 1628, aged forty-three. The martyr’s right hand was secured by the Gerards of Bryn, and to this day is held in great veneration, at Ashton-in-Makerfield.

A spring of very clear water

According to Mr. Gillow, the usual residence of the priest about this time was at St. Helen’s Well, where also was the principal place where Mass was said in the district. The house and well are thus described by Kuerdon, writing about 1675: ‘Over against Swansey House, a little towards the hill, standeth an ancient fabric, once the Manor House of Brindle, where hath been a chappel belonging to the same, and a little above it a spring of very clear water, rushing straight upward into the midst of a fayr fountain, walled square about in stone and flagged in the bottom, very transparent to be seen and a strong stream issuing out of the same. This fountain is called St Ellen’s Well, to which place the vulgar neighbouring people of the Red Letter (Catholics) do much resort with pretended devotion on each year, upon St Ellin’s day (Aug. 18).’

From the Forfeited Estates Papers in the Public Record Office

Mr. Henry Taylor, in his Ancient Crosses and Wells in Lancashire, gives some diagrams of the Well along with his interesting account, in which he says: ‘I could not find the chapel, but some of the stairs in the dilapidated house close by may have formed a portion of such an edifice.’ This was the residence of the Gerards of the Well, and so continued till the early part of the eighteenth century, of whom William married in 1619; Oliver Gerard of the Well was buried in 1664; the will of James Gerard of St Ellen’s Well was proved at Chester in 1665, and that of Alice Gerard of the Well in 1679; besides many later entries in the Brindle parish registers.

This Alice Gerard may justly be considered the foundress of the present Brindle Mission. Previous to her death in 1679, probably about 1677, she gave the site, and built upon it a new chapel and house in Gregson Lane, known as Newhouse. Among the Forfeited Estate Papers in the Public Record Office are several depositions made before the Commissioners in reference to this chapel. ‘George Hinton, of Brindle, Co. Lancaster, swore this 18th July, 1718, saith he hath known Newhouse ever since it was built by Alice Gerard, viz. about forty years ago, that one Green lived there about ten years and died about thirteen years ago, and this deponent did frequently hear the said Green say Mass there, after whose death Mr. Hutchison, a Roman priest, succeeded him, and now usually resides there; That there are about twelve acres of ground belonging to the said house.’ Forty years from 1718, the date of the above deposition, would take us to 1678, which may thus be safely inserted in future Catholic directories as the date of the Brindle Mission.

Similar evidence to that of George Hinton was given by William Hinton, William Turner, Thomas Oram, who mention Mr. Green, Mr. Hutchison, and Mr. Huddlestone as successive priests, and the date at Newhouse of its beginning as forty years previously. Samuel Peploe again, in his account of estates granted to superstitious purposes in and about Preston, Co. Lancs., reported: “Newhouse and grounds belonging to it in Brindle is mostly let in parcels. One Hutchison, a Popish priest, has lived on it some time, who succeeded Mr. Green, a priest, who died there.’

From the above we gather that Mr. Green came to Brindle in 1695. He died in 1704, and was buried at the parish church of Brindle. Mr. Hutchison succeeded, and died at Brindle August 24, 1717. Mr. Huddlestone had charge of the Mission till 1721, when he was succeeded by Dom William Placid Naylor, the most distinguished of the monks in charge of Brindle, who during the last three years he was there was President-General of the English Congregation. His earlier years at Brindle were full of activity. He first acquired a cottage and 3 1/2 acres of land from a family of the name of Coope, and in 1726, with the aid of various benefactions, he obtained possession of Stanfield House with the grounds on which it stood. Mr. George Hull, in his historical sketch of Brindle, mentions that before he built the chapel Father Naylor, like his predecessors, did duty at several Mission stations. One of these was Jack Green, which in 1860 belonged to a Mr. Livesay. When the old house there was pulled down, Father Smith (Brindle, 1829-1874) brought the old chalice and the vestments from the garret to his own house. Another station was at Woodhouse, going towards Clayton Green; another was at Slack, where the Fazackerleys lived; another at Thorpe Green. At these stations the priest celebrated the rites of the Church, and on one Sunday he announced where he would officiate the next; for he could not take them in rotation, because then Catholics had to go to Mass by stealth, and it was dangerous to allow it to be known where services would be held.

It was dangerous to allow it to be known where Mass would take place

Mass was also said at a house, one end of which now faces the entrance to Gregson Lane Mill. This old house has strong claims – even at the risk of a slight digression – to a passing notice here. It is believed to have been erected about 1580, and is a fine example of the comfortable yeoman’s dwelling of that period; an interesting feature of the building being a small room in which the ironwork round the fireplace is hammered into a representation of the wheat and vine, emblematic of the bread and wine used in the Mass. It is said that at the beginning of the eighteenth century this house was the residence of the Gregsons of Gregson Lane, one of whom placed his initials, ‘G. G.,’ with a cross and the date, ‘1700,’ on the lintel of the porch, thus giving later generations the erroneous impression that the building was erected in that year. From it were taken, about 1880, some ancient vestments, which are now in the museum at Stonyhurst College. Near this house, about twenty years ago, was dug up a very ancient font, possibly of the ninth century; and in the garden of a cottage close by stands a beautiful old wayside cross. Local tradition asserts that at this same old house the Venerable Edmund Arrowsmith, the Jesuit martyr, said his last Mass. There are other interesting traditions of his presence in this neighbourhood.

He had laboured long in his Mission

Mr. Hull continues his historical sketch: ‘The former priest’s house at Brindle (Dom Blundell, to be continued)

 

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WITHOUT FAITH, EVERY HUMAN LABOUR IS EMPTY

“Jesus says to his friends in the boat who were terrified at the storm, ‘How is it that you have no faith?’ Let us prayerfully reflect on what some holy people have written about faith:

• Faith is the ear of the soul. (St Clement of Alexandria)

• Just as the mere memory of fire does not warm the body, so also faith without love doesn’t produce the light of knowledge in the soul. (St Maximus the Confessor)

• Without faith, every human labour is empty. (St Fulgence of Ruspe)

• I may love by halves, I may obey by halves; I cannot believe by halves: either I have faith, or I have it not. (Blessed John Henry Newman)

• The spiritual quest is a continuous act of faith, a faith that spiritual experience is the most real thing in human life and that all other categories of experience are subordinate to the fact of God. (Martin Israel – priest and spiritual director)

• Faith is the union of God with the soul. (St John of the Cross)

• What is required of you is faith and a sincere life, not loftiness and intellect of deep knowledge of the mysteries of God. (Thomas a Kempis – spiritual writer)

• Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward for this faith is to see what you believe. (St Augustine of Hippo)

• Faith is a beam radiating from the face of God. (St John Dudes)

• God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ increase us in faith and truth and gentleness. (Prayer of St Polycarp)”

– From: “Spiritual Thought from Fr Chris” / June 2015

 

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