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ST LAURENCE O’TOOLE, BISHOP

ST LAURENCE O’TOOLE, BISHOP

ST LAURENCE O’TOOLE, BISHOP – MEMORIAL: NOVEMBER 14

St Laurence O’Toole, Patron of the Diocese and City of Dublin, was born near Castledermot, County Kildare, in 1127. His father was Maurice O’Toole, prince of the territory now called South Kildare, and his mother was daughter of O’Byrne, prince of the north-eastern portion of Co. Kildare.

The cross was his portion from childhood, for from ten years old till he was twelve, he was a hostage of Dermot MacMurrough, who treated him with relentless cruelty. Ferns, then a wild and desert place, was probably the scene of the hardships and privations of our Saint. Here, no doubt, the foundation was laid of that wonderful mortification, and spirit of contemplation and prayer, which distinguished his later life.

At the demand of Maurice O’Toole, our Saint was transferred to the custody of the Bishop of Glendalough, under whose care his health, impaired by privation and neglect, returned, and he engaged in a course of study with the greatest ardour. Some time after he became a monk of St Kevin’s Monastery, Glendalough, was ordained priest, and later, in 1153, was chosen Abbot by the monks.

On the death of Gregory, Archbishop of Dublin, 1161, St Laurence was elected to succeed him, and was consecrated by Gelasius, Archbishop of Armagh, in the Church of the Holy Trinity (now Christ Church), Dublin, 1162. In 1179 he attended the Third General Council of the Lateran, and Pope Alexander III made him Delegate Apostolic of the Holy See for the Kingdom of Ireland.

Full of virtues and labouring for the peace of his beloved but afflicted country, he died at the age of 53, on the 14th November, 1180,at the Abbey our Lord, at Eu, Normandy. At the moment of his holy death the Abbey was so flooded with celestial light that it was thought to be on fire. St Laurence was canonised by Pope Honorius III, in 1225, who mentions in the Bull of Canonisation that seven dead persons were restored by his intercession.

– St Anthony’s Treasury, 1916

 

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KNOCK, 1879 – OUR LADY IN IRELAND

KNOCK, 1879 – OUR LADY IN IRELAND

OUR LADY OF KNOCK 

It rained all day in the little village of Knock in County Mayo, Ireland, on that memorable twenty-first day of August in 1879.

At seven o’clock that evening, fifteen-year-old Margaret Beirne was sent to lock up the church. After she had done so, she noticed a brightness over the building. This was most strange, especially on a rainy day, but Margaret was not curious enough to investigate the matter.

A little later Mary McLoughlin, the priest’s housekeeper, passed within a short distance of the church. She was on her way to see Mrs. Beirne and her daughter Mary, both of whom had just returned from a short trip. Miss McLoughlin noticed a strange light at the south gable of the church. In the light she saw three figures representing the Blessed Virgin, St Joseph and a bishop. Standing beside the figures was an altar on which were a cross and a lamb. She decided that the pastor had probably bought some new statues in Dublin. She did not mention the incident while at the Beirne home.

WHEN THEY CAME WITHIN VIEW OF THE CHURCH, THEY SAW THE LIGHT AND THE FIGURES 

About eight or a quarter after, she decided that it was time to go home. Mary Beirne, Margaret’s older sister, offered to walk part way with her. When they came within view of the church gable, they saw the light and the figures.

“Oh, look at the statues!” Mary Beirne exclaimed. “Why didn’t you tell me that Father got new statues for the chapel?” Mary McLoughlin answered that she knew nothing about them. When they came closer, Mary Beirne cried out, “They’re not statues. They’re moving. It’s the Blessed Virgin!” And she ran home to get her mother and her brother.

SHE RAN HOME TO GET HER MOTHER AND HER BROTHER 

The news spread and other people also came to see. Fourteen persons in all saw the figures. A fifteenth witness, Patrick Walsh, lived half a mile from the chapel. From his fields he saw a large globe of golden light at the southern gable. He had never before seen such a brilliant light. The next day he enquired about it and learned of the apparitions.

The other fourteen people all testified that they saw the Blessed Virgin clothed in white garments, wearing a large brilliant crown. Her hands were raised as if in prayer and her eyes were turned towards heaven.

At Mary’s right was St Joseph. His head was inclined towards the Blessed Virgin as if paying her respect. He was somewhat aged, with a grey beard and greyish hair. At Mary’s left stood St John the Evangelist, vested as a bishop, his left hand holding a book and his right hand raised as if in preaching. To the left of St John was an altar on which were a cross and a young lamb. One witness said he saw angel’s wings hovering about this altar.

The figures stood out from the gable wall and were about a foot and a half or two feet above the ground. The gable was bathed in a cloud of light.

THE VISION LASTED FOR ABOUT TWO HOURS 

The vision lasted for about two hours. The rain was falling all the while, but the figures and the spot above which they stood were perfectly dry.

Fourteen-year-old Patrick Hills, one of the witnesses, tells us that “the figures were full round as if they had a body and life. They said nothing; but as we approached them they seemed to go back a little towards the gable.”

Of our Lady he says: “I distinctly beheld the Blessed Virgin Mary, life size, standing about two feet or so above the ground, clothed in white robes that were fastened at the neck; her hands were raised to the height of the shoulders as if in prayer, with the palms facing one another, but slanting inward towards the face… Her eyes were turned towards heaven. She wore a brilliant crown… and over the forehead where the crown fitted the brow, a beautiful rose. The crown appeared… of golden brightness… The upper parts of the crown appeared to be a series of sparkles, or glittering crosses. I saw her eyes, the balls, the pupils and the iris of each. I noticed her hands especially, and face… The robes came only as far as the ankles. I saw the feet and the ankles; one foot, the right, was slightly in advance of the other.

I DISTINCTLY BEHELD THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

“At times… all the figures appeared to move out and again to go backwards. I went up very near. One old woman went up and embraced the Virgin’s feet, and she found nothing in her arms or hands. They receded, she said, from her.”

Patrick Hill also tells us that he came so close to the figure of St John “that I looked into the book. I saw the lines and the letters.”

FIFTEEN PEOPLE IN ALL SAW THE FIGURES

Mary McLoughlin ran to tell the priest, Archdeacon Bartholomew Cavanagh, about the figures. He understood her to say that they had disappeared, and he did not go out to look. “I have regretted ever since that I neglected to do so. I shall always feel sorry that the sight of the apparitions has been denied me, but God may will that the testimony to His Blessed Mother’s presence should come from the simple faithful and not through priests.”

– From: “The Woman Shall Conquer” by Don Sharkey, Prow Books/Franciscan Marytown Press, Libertyville, IL, 1954

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2019 in Prayers to Our Lady

 

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THE ANGELS OF THE FIRESIDE: THE ANGEL OF GRATITUDE

THE ANGELS OF THE FIRESIDE: THE ANGEL OF GRATITUDE

How to attain a happy home and a content family

The Angel of Gratitude

This is perhaps the most beloved of the Angels of the Fireside, because he unceasingly reminds us of our kindness to others. Nothing is so sweet as to feel that we are kind.

But it must be confessed, alas! that the angel of gratitude – that angel who, either as a child, friend, brother, sister, or companion, repeatedly makes us know that we are kind and generous – is not often to be found.

Unconditional appreciation and kindness

To merit this name it is not sufficient to manifest the gratitude of our hearts on particular occasions, such as when we receive a benefit, or on some feast or anniversary; on the contrary, this sentiment should so fill our hearts as to flood over all our faculties and senses.

Whenever we are in the presence of a benefactor, or in conversation with him, the smile on our lips and the gentleness of our words must let him see that “we are happy near him, because he is so kind.”

When we seek to give him pleasure, or to lavish attention upon him which we think he requires, our manner must say to him: “I do it all to remind you how kind you are.”

Finally, our repeated attentions, without being obtrusive, and our services, without being troublesome, must say to him: “I can never be as kind as you are.”

Oh! is it not true that there is happiness in having near us a heart thus filled with gratitude?

It will never weary of us, nor we of it.

It will never cease to be devoted to us, and we will never cease our efforts to do it good.

It will make us know that we can always rely on it, and it understands that it can equally depend on us.

Such a heart is not a mere dream of the imagination; there are many such in families, in communities, and amongst friends… but they have not the courage to show themselves.

Do you, who read and love these pages, not feel that they make known your experiences, and relate only what you yourself would wish to do for some people near you, and to whom you owe very much?

Why, then, do you not do it?

Why do you gradually permit to depart from you that desire to be grateful which God has been pleased to give you, and of which he will demand an account?

A grateful heart is a privileged grace.

The absence of this virtue, says Father Faber, is a grave fault, and certainly does not prove the holiness of him who is devoid of it.

Show me a person who retains for a long time the remembrance of some trifling favour, who seems never able to pay the debts which he thinks his heart owes, who exaggerates his obligations to others, who estimates them at twenty times their value; … in my opinion that person is infinitely more likely to become a saint than if he were raised in ecstasy during prayer.

Then prove yourselves grateful. Gratitude attracts new favours, too, and this sweet interchange of treasures between hearts softens them, opens them to grace, frees them from little antipathies, mean jealousies, petty rivalries – all of which are to the family what thorns are to the rose.

Prove yourselves grateful. It is impossible for a grateful heart ever to become a wicked heart.

– From: Golden Grains, A Collection of Little Counsels for the Sanctification and Happiness of Every-Day Life, H.M.Gill and Son, Dublin, 1889

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2016 in Words of Wisdom

 

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IN THE SILENCE AND OBSCURITY OF THE NIGHT I KNOW GOD IS THERE

The Heart of Jesus is a love ever watchful.

The eye of the Lord rests always upon the just.

God sees all that is done to His child; He hears all that is said of His child; He is always ready to assist His child.

The eye of God rests always upon me; it does not pursue me in order to frighten; it follows with a sweet, loving, paternal regard, in order to encourage, to cheer, and to animate me.

In the midst of the crowd, who forget or despise me, I feel that I am not abandoned; and this intimate and deep knowledge sustains, strengthens, and makes me joyful.

A luminous ray

In the silence and obscurity of the night I know that there is a luminous ray which falls upon my soul and protects it from the terrors of darkness.

In the accomplishment of my duty I feel there is near me, invisible to others, but visible to my love, One who assists, inspires, and encourages me, One who, in return for all He does for me, only asks me to be faithful and diligent.

Oh! if I but knew how to love, how much better should I understand all things.

– From: Golden Grains, Eighth Edition, H.M. Gill and Son, Dublin, 1889

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2016 in Words of Wisdom

 

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UNSUNG HEROES OF LIVERPOOL – EXCERPTS OF A CATHOLIC PRIEST’S DIARY

“To understand the early post-Reformation history of Catholics in Liverpool two points must be clearly borne in mind: the first, that the town up to the year 1700 was of very small size, with only about 5,000 inhabitants (Vict. Hist., p. 23); the second, that it was a centre of civil and legal activity for South-west Lancashire. This latter fact made the practice of the Catholic religion impossible within its boundaries, for if in remote country districts the gentry and people alike had the greatest difficulty in evading the fines for non-attendance at the Protestant place of worship, it would be quite impossible for them to evade such fines in a town full of civil and legal functionaries.

Fines for non-attendance at the place of worship dictated by the government

Again, the constant search for priests, which made the priests’ hiding-places so common in the farm-houses and country mansions of Lancashire – this priest-hunting process evidently made it impossible for the Catholic clergy to remain in a town where every person was known and every detail of the law carried out by subservient officials. The above remarks apply, not only to Liverpool, but to all the towns of Lancashire; so that, while many country districts can prove their succession of priests – and, in some sort, of chapels also – none of the towns can show an earlier chapel than does Liverpool, where Mass was certainly said somewhere as early as 1701.

Catholic priests were hunted down and forced to live undercover

But if we take a map of that period and consider Liverpool as a town of 5,000 inhabitants, and its area to be confined within half a mile of the present pier-head, we shall find that a goodly lot of villages surround the town, and that in many of these villages there were priests’ residences and facilities for hearing Mass and receiving the sacraments. Thus, counting from north to south, we find Little Crosby, Ince Blundell, Lydiate, Netherton (or Sefton Hall), Gillmoss (or Croxteth), Portico, Woolton (or Speke). When we consider the heroic sacrifices which our Catholic forefathers were willing to make for the practice of their religion, we may justly assume that the few Catholic families whom necessity forced to reside in Liverpool would find means to attend one or other of these chapels. In the present volume, four of the above-mentioned chapels are dealt with; the others will follow in succeeding volumes.

Map of Liverpool, 1765, showing 1.: Parish Church of Our Lady and St Nicholas, 2. and inset: The Romish Chapel

Map of Liverpool, 1765, showing 1.: Parish Church of Our Lady and St Nicholas, 2. and inset: The Romish Chapel

"This plan of Liverpool, Surrvey'd in June 1765 is Most Humbly Inscribed..."

“This plan of Liverpool, Surrvey’d in June 1765 is Most Humbly Inscribed…”

The heroic sacrifices Catholics were willing to make for the practice of their faith

To the writer of these pages it is a source of boundless gratitude that the first priest to visit Liverpool in post-Reformation times was provided, not by the Molyneux of Sefton, great Catholics as they at the time were, nor by the Irelands of Lydiate, but by the Blundells of Crosby, who had, indeed, been more closely associated for one hundred years with Catholic life in the district, and had in consequence suffered more heavily. Perhaps a kind Providence thus rewarded them.

Government informants and the succession

Besides the residences for priests just enumerated – all of which have their representative chapel to-day – there were others, which at different periods helped to keep alive the Faith in the district. Fazakerley Hall, the seat of the family of that name, was, says Mr. Gillow, a venerable mansion taken down in 1823. It contained an ancient chapel, and in 1716 Richard Hitchmouth, the apostate priest, declared that he himself had officiated there for some time, and informed the commissioners for forfeited estates that it possessed a large silver chalice and paten. From other information during the Commission it appears that Hitchmouth was succeeded in the Mission by Mr. Thos. Wogrill. There was an endowment for the priest at Fazakerley Hall arising from a mortgage on an estate of 60 acres in the possession of Will. Tarleton at Orrell. In 1750 Fr. Henry Tatlock, S.J., is described as serving two places, of which Fazakerley was one, and here he died in 1771. Fr. Thos. Brewer served these places from 1774 to 1780, but after this it would seem that Fazakerley Hall changed hands, and the Mission was discontinued.

The name appears, generation after generation, in the recusant rolls through all the centuries of persecution of Catholic Christians

Earlier notices of Fazakerley are when Father Thos. Eccleston (born 1643, ordained 1677) came to the Lancashire Mission and went to Fazakerley Hall. In 1694 he was rural dean of the West Derby Hundred, and gave £50 to the common fund. Rev. Thos. Fazakerley, born 1611, was ordained at the English College, Rome, in 1635. He came on to the Mission in Lancashire, and, dying in 1664, was buried at Harkirke, Little Crosby. ‘The family of Fazakerley,’ to quote Mr. Follow again, ‘was very ancient, and remained staunch in its adherence to the Faith. The name appears, generation after generation, in the recusant rolls through all the centuries of persecution… The mansion, besides its domestic chapel, was full of priests’ hiding-places.

The mansion was full of priests’ hiding-places

Regarding the history within the actual boundaries of old Liverpool, we are fortunate in having a most interesting account from the pen of Rev. T. E. Gibson, published in the Liverpool Catholic Almanac for 1887 and 1888.* [1]

Father Gibson devotes some pages to the history of St. Nicholas Church at the landing stage, and gives the original charters of the Catholic Bishops in 1361 and 1459, showing how by this latter, those who made offerings to the chapel of St. Mary of the Key (Quay) were granted an indulgence of forty days. ‘This shows,’ he says, ‘how ancient in our city was the custom of decorating the image of our Blessed Lady with flowers and lights, and silently appeals to us to emulate the piety of our forefathers.’ Indeed, I would like to quote more, but feel myself bound to adhere to the rule not to treat of pre-Reformation matters in these volumes, for fear of running to too great length. It should be noted, however, that the old church is marked on all the plans of the city up to 1821 as “Our Lady and St. Nicholas,” whilst the notice-board outside the church still proclaims it as ‘The Parish Church of Our Lady and St. Nicholas.’

They were denied burial by the government because of their Catholic faith

Of the Catholics within the city during the years 1600-1700 we obtain only occasional glimpses, for no priest was stationed in the town. In the catalogue of burials at Harkirke are the following: ’31 Aug. 1613, John Synett, an Irishman, borne in Wexforde, master of a barke, was excommunicated by the B(ishop) of Chester for being a Catholicke recusant, and so dying at his house in Liverpoole was denyed to bee buried at Liverpoole Churche or Chappell and therefore was brought and buried in this sayd buriall place of ye Harkirke in ye afternoone of the last day of August 1613.’ And again: ’20 May 1615, Anne ye wyffe of George Webster of Liverpoole (tenant to Mr. Crosse) dyed a Catholicke, and being denyed buriall at ye Chappell of Liverpoole by ye Curate there, by ye Maior, and by Mr. More, was buried in ye Harkirke.’ The Crosse family did not change their religious profession at once, for in 1628 John Crosse of Liverpool, as a convicted recusant, paid double to the subsidy (Vict. Hist.).

Government officials did not tire of harrassing people for them to renounce their Catholic faith

The recusant roll of 1641 contains only five names, four being those of women. In 1669 four papist recusants were presented at the Bishop of Chester’s visitation, namely: Beres, gent., Mary, wife of George Brettargh, William Fazakerley and his wife; but in 1683 there were thirty-five persons, including Richard Lathom, presented for being absent from [governmental Anglican] church, and in the following year there were thirty-nine. The revival of presentations was no doubt due to the Protestant and Whig agitation of the time. James II endeavoured to mitigate the effects of it: in 1686, being ‘informed that Richard Lathom, of Liverpool, chirurgeon, and Judith his wife, who keep also a boarding school for the education of youth at Liverpool, had been presented for their exercising the said several vocations without license, by reason of their religion (being Roman Catholics) and being assured of their loyalty, he authorised them to continue, remitted penalties incurred, and forbade further interference’ (Vict. Hist., p. 50).

Some of the lists are here inserted, containing names still prominent amongst the Catholics of Liverpool.

CONVICTED RECUSANTS, 1641

[original list; original entries incl. spelling & punctuation: ]

Walton.

Roberte ffazakerley, gent. et ux. IIs Vlll d.

Ellen ffazakerley, sp(inste)r XVI d.

Margaret ffazakerley, sp(inste)r XVI d.

Lawrence Bryers, et ux IIs VIII d.

Will Chorley, gent et ux II VIII d.

Eme Chorley, sp(inste)r XVI

Nicholas ffazakerley, gent et ux II VIII d.

Henry Stananoght, et ux II VIII d.

Will Topping, et ux II VIII d.

Joane Tyror, vid(ua) XVI d.

Thos. Longhorne, et ux. II VIII d.

Dorothy Barker, sp(inste)r XVI d.

Ann Briage, vid(ua) XVI d.

John ffisher, et ux II VIII d.

 

West Derbie.

Elizabeth Mollinex, vid XVI d.

Katherin Mollinex, XVI d.

Thomas Welsh & ffrancis, ux. ejus II VIII d.

Margeria ux Hugh Barner, XVI d.

Arthur Tyrer et Margret, ux. ejus II VIII d.

Thomas fflecher, XVI d.

Ann ux. Robt. Dorwin, XVI d.

Thomas Mollinex, XVI d.

George Woods et Susan, ux ejus II VIII d.

Robt. Mercer & Ellin, ux ejus. II VIII d.

John Sergent, et ux. II VIII d.

John Stockley et Marie, ux ejus II VIII

Andrew Mercer, XVI

Alice Rigbie, XVI

Will Moore et Margery, ux ejus II VIII

John Edgerton et Ellinor, ux ejus II VIII

John Lathom Lathom, (sic) et ux II VIII

Ellin Standish, vid XVI d.

George Standish, et ux VIII d.

James Pemberton, XVI

Valentine Richardson, et ux II VIII d.

Thomas Bolton, XVI

Margret ux. Edw. Henshaw, XVI d.

Ellin ux. John Miller, XVI

Mary Leyland, XVI d.

 

Liverpoole.

Ursula ux. John Banckes, XVI

Jane ux. Henry Haskeene, XVI

Alice Harison, sp(inste)r XVI

Elizabeth Parkinson, XVI

Arthur Muckowen, XVI

 

These were lesser gentry, the landowners coming under another rate.

‘1684. Extract from proceedings of the Portmoote or Court of Quarter Sessions of the Peace holden for the Towne of Leverpoole, 12th Janr., 1684. Wee present the persons next undernamed for absenting themselves from divine Service. [Loyal Catholic Christians refusing to take part in enforced state church service (Anglican)]

Mr. William ffazakerley & his wife, Humphrey Harrison, John Hoole, James Mercer & his wife, John Tildesley, Edward Arthur & his wife, William Rydinge, William Segar, Mary Cowley, Margaret Bluckington, Alice, wife of Mathew Walker, Marie wife of George Braithwaite, Richard Lathom & his wife, Elizabeth Weaver, Mr. Richard Cleveland, Mr. Daniel Danser, Mr. Francis Tempest, William Gandy & his wife, Lawrence Myers, Ellen Bickesteth, Daniel Dwerrihouse, Henrie Thorpe & his wife, Trustam Jackson & his wife, Jane Canby widdow, William Burke & his wife, Ann fformby widdow, Peter Summers; Thomas Tyrer, smith & his wife; Thomas Lyon, smith; Henrie Knowles, baker & his wife; Richard Mercer, Tanner & his wife’

And the names occur year after year.

My wife went to Mass to Liverpool, to Pater Gelibrand at Mr. Lancasters

This brings our story to the commencement of the new century, when Rev. W. Gillibrand, chaplain to Mr. Nicholas Blundell of Crosby Hall, began to give service regularly in Liverpool. The diary* [2] of the latter records under date December 2, 1707: ‘Pater Gillibrand went hence: I could not prevale with him to hear ye discourse about Leige.’ A month later there is the following entry: ‘My wife went to prayers (Mass) to Liverpool, to Pat(er) Gelibrand at Mr. Lancasters.’ From this and other entries, says Father Gibson, we learn that Father Gillibrand lodged with Mr. Lancaster, who followed the business of a grocer. The Lancasters were a respectable Catholic family of the middle class; another brother was a doctor in good practice at Ormskirk, who is frequently mentioned in the diary; and a third was captain of a trading vessel. Some other extracts from the diary may be of interest:

Aged and infirm priests lodged at a building originally meant to be a school

’15th Aug. 1702. I went to Leverp(ool) with Coz(en) Edmund Butler. We halled ye Mary with a Handkerchaf but she answered not: he went on Bord ye Harington for Dublin.’ It is a long cry to the time when the Dublin Mail Packet could be hailed by passengers, but as the first dock – formed by deepening the old Pool, the site of the present Custom House – was not opened till 1700, the means of embarking for Ireland at that date must have been very primitive.

A similar entry is under date 2 May 1708: ‘Mr. Waring told us his Son was in danger to lose his Passage for Ireland, ye Ship being gone and he was forced to ride after her on Shore and so get on Border if he could.’

The next entry is interesting as showing the number of priests in this neighbourhood at the time: ’18 Aug. 1702. Mr. Mullins came in ye morning to pray and stayed till next day: Mr. Tasburgh and Little Man came hither in ye Afternoone.’ Mr. Mullins was priest at Mossuck Hall, in Bickerstaffe, a secluded spot a few hundred yards behind St Mary’s Chapel, Aughton. Rev. Henry Tasburgh, S.J., lived at the New House, at Ince Blundell, built shortly before with the view of its being used as a school. It never was so used, but became the home of aged and infirm priests of the Society. By ‘Little Man’ is meant his cousin and chaplain, Rev. W. Gillibrand, who throughout his life was a confidential friend and adviser. The following reads strangely to-day: ‘5 March 1705. I saw 3 Beggars whiped out of Leverpool,’ and next day: ‘My wife rid behind me to Leverpool: she saw ye Elephant.’

I count it great gain to do good and receive evil

Father Gillibrand did not remain long in Liverpool. He was gone before 1710, probably to his friends at Chorley. Rev. Francis Mannock, S.J., succeeded him. He lodged with a Mrs. Brownhill, as we learn from the following entry: ‘1712, January 27. My wife and I went to Liverpoole and heard Mr. Mannock preach. Mr. Tute (Tuite) and Mr. Morphew etc. were there. We dined at Mrs. Brownbills with her and Mr. Mannock.’ Father Mannock left Liverpool in 1715, and was serving the Yorkshire district in 1741; he died at York in 1748.

Rev. John Hardesty, S.J., whose real name was Tempest, was living in Liverpool in 1715, when a visit is thus recorded: ‘1715, Sept. 11. My wife and I heard Mr. Hardesty preach. We dined at Mr. Lancaster’s: I drank at the Woolpack with Mr. Lancaster and his brother, the doctor.’ The Woolpack was an inn in Dale Street to which Squire Blundell, when in Liverpool, usually resorted. It seems probable that Father Hardesty rented a house of his own, as his address was: ‘Mr. John Hardesty, at his house in Liverpool,’ and he had another priest living with him later on. The diarist says: ‘1718, June 22. My wife and I went to Liverpoole to hear Pat(er) Doodell hold forth at Mr. Hardesty’s. We dined there with Mr. Tute and his nephew, Mr. Nugent.’

After the death of Rev. John Mostyn, S.J., at Lydiate Hall in 1721, Father Hardesty was instructed to give the congregation there a monthly Mass. The diarist and his wife occasionally go over on a Sunday to hear Father Hardesty ‘hold forth,’ and the latter employed him as her confessor. Brother Foley tells us that he built the first chapel in Liverpool in 1736. Some idea of the privations he endured in the prosecution of his work may be gathered from the following letter, written in reply to some cavils on the subject:

I lived frugally, as not many would have been content to live

‘I wonder how it should come into anyone’s head that what I built at Liverpool was by subscription, and that it is required that an account be given of the money laid out on it, I know therefore, and you may show this declaration to whom you please, that while I lived in the aforesaid town, I received one year with another from the people, about one or two and twenty pounds a year by way of contribution to my maintenance, and that no other subscription was ever made for me, or for the buildings. From friends in other places I had part of the money, but much the greater part was what I spared, living frugally, and as not many would have been content to live. What disaffected people may say and give out I do not matter (sic). I count it great gain to do good and receive evil, nor do I regret my having spent the best years of my life in serving the poor Catholics of Liverpool.

I don’t regret my having spent the best years of my life in serving the poor Catholics of Liverpool

This letter was written in 1750 from Tixall, Staffordshire, where he had gone to be chaplain to Lord Aston. Father Hardesty had an old Jesuit father living with him for several years – Rev. Will. Pennington, whom Mr. Blundell saw distribute, on Palm Sunday, 1727, 256 palms to the congregation. From this we may form some idea of the number of Catholics at that period. Father Pennington was buried next to Mr. Aldred, S.J., in the Harkirke. ‘After a long illness, being a sort of co-adjutor to Mr. Carpenter of Liverpool, he dyed there 8th June 1736.’

Father Gibson continues: ‘As Mr. Blundell makes no mention of Mr. Hardesty in this entry, it is not improbable that he built his chapel some time previous to 1736, when it appears that Mr. Carpenter occupied his place. The last entry in the diary that relates to Mr. Hardesty was made on the occasion of the death of his chaplain, Rev. R. Aldred, S.J.: ‘1728, Feb. 24. Pat. Hardesty prayed for Mr. Aldred in his chapel: there was a large congregation.’

He had provided a refuge for the poor persecuted Catholics of Liverpool after the destruction of their chapel

The next source of information is Mr. Thomas Green, whose mother was Elizabeth Clifton of the Lytham family. His father, Francis Green, had provided a refuge at his house in Dale Street for the poor persecuted Catholics of Liverpool after the destruction of their chapel in 1746. He also gives an account of its demolition, which is in substance as follows: ‘When the Scots had retreated from Derby in 1746 so far to the north as to relieve the people of Liverpool from any danger of a visit from them, the mob assembled to pull down the small Catholic chapel at the S.W. corner of Edmund st. The priests, Fathers Hermenigild Carpenter and Thos. Stanley, met the mob, which behaved with the greatest respect to the priests and without noise or violence opened a passage for Father Carpenter to go up to the altar and take the ciborium out of the Tabernacle and carry it by the same passage out of the chapel. After this the mob tore up the benches and made a bonfire of every thing combustible in the chapel and priests’ house, and pulled the whole of both down. Such was the end of the first Catholic Chapel in Liverpool.

The mob tore up the benches and made a bonfire of everything combustible in the chapel and priests’ house, and pulled the whole of both down

‘Soon after the Battle of Culloden, in 1746, Henry Pippard, Esq., a principal merchant, then married to Miss Blundell, of Crosby (whose name he took on succeeding to the property), treated with the Mayor and Corporation to allow the Catholics to rebuild their chapel. This they peremptorily refused. Mr. Pippard observed that no law could prevent him from building a warehouse, and making what use he pleased of it. It was acknowledged that he might do this, but at his own risk. He then collected subscriptions, and built a warehouse of two stories upon vacant ground purchased from a Catholic family, lying on the south side of the same Edmund Street, the front of which street was covered by buildings and ‘six-yard’ houses, with small back yards opening into the intended chapel-yard. On the east side of this warehouse there were two large folding doors, one above the other, surmounted by a teagle rope, block and hook, capped against the rain as was then usual in Liverpool. The upper storey was to act as the chapel, its upper folding doors being bricked up within and the walls stuccoed: large leaded windows on the east, south and west, admitted light, and these were protected by strong outside shutters to be closed when there was no service. The ascent to the chapel was by a broad staircase on each side within the lower warehouse room, the centre of which was used for lumber, the entrance to the room being secured by strong folding doors.’ The plan of 1765 shows this ‘Romish chapel,’ and from the enlargement this description can be seen to be perfectly accurate. Mr. Blundell’s chapel was actually in use from 1746 till 1845, exactly one hundred years.

The new chapel, which was disguised as a warehouse, was in use for exactly 100 years

‘After September 24, 1764, Mr. and Mrs. Green went to their house in Dale Street; ‘while the new chapel was being built, Mass was said on Sundays and holidays in their garrets, the whole of which, with the tea and lodging-rooms of the two storeys underneath, were filled by their acquaintances of different ranks, and admitted singly and cautiously through different entrances from the two houses immediately adjoining on each side, which belonged to two very respectable and kind neighbours who were Presbyterians.

Clandestine Holy Mass took place in silence, by candlelight, without any ringing of the bell at the Elevation

‘Everything was done in silence, by candlelight, without any ringing of the bell at the Elevation,’ etc. With reference to the foregoing, Mr. Burke (Cat. Hist. of Liv.) justly remarks: ‘From this simple but graphic story we may infer that the anti-Catholic spirit ran high at this period, while ‘the different ranks’ tells us plainly that the Faith was still preserved among the better off as well as the poorer classes.’

In 1758 the chapel was again attacked 

The priests who successively served the ‘new chapel’ were Rev. Hermenegild Carpenter and Rev. Thomas Stanley, Rev. Michael Tichbourne, Rev. John Rigby, 1749-1758, Rev. William Wappeler, Rev. Anthony Carroll. In this year the chapel was again attacked by an infuriated mob, but was reopened in the following year. This chapel was enlarged in 1797 and continued to be used until St. Mary’s, from the design of A. W. Pugin, was built on the same site and consecrated in 1845. [Following the Catholic Emancipation Act etc., a process of restoring to Catholics in Britain and Ireland the human rights which they had been deprived of for several hundred years.] In consequence of the enlargement of Exchange Station it was taken down, but rebuilt stone by stone in Highfield Street, being re-consecrated July 7, 1885.”

Footnotes

*1) The present writer feels an apology is due for some of the more personal statements; he is, however, only quoting the Catholic Almanac, which contains many statements still more laudatory.

*2) The whole diary makes quite interesting reading. Copies are still on sale at the Philomena Co., Bold Street, Liverpool.

– Dom F. O. Blundell, O.S.B, Old Catholic Lancashire Vol. I, Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., London, 1925

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A FORMER ALCOHOLIC ON THE ROAD TO SAINTHOOD – WE ALL HAVE ONE OR THE OTHER CROSS TO CARRY; NEVER DESPAIR OF GOD’S MERCY!

“Alcohol addictions are at times so strong that those closest to the alcoholic are led to believe that he will never overcome his addiction, and the alcoholic himself is tempted to lose all hope. It is good then to remember Jesus’ resurrection. This reminds us that failure is never God’s last word.”

WHO WAS THIS MAN? WAS HE INSANE OR A SAINT?

“In a street in Dublin, Ireland, on the morning of Trinity Sunday, June 7, 1925, a man who was making his way to a nearby church suddenly collapsed, dead. His body was taken to the hospital to be washed by a religious nurse. She was greatly amazed when, in removing the deceased’s clothing, she discovered a chain from which hung religious medals, wound twice around his waist. Other chains or cords encircled his arms and legs. Although these rusty chains were embedded in his skin, his body was impeccably clean. So who was this man? Was he insane or a saint?

÷ HOW CROSSES HELP US TO A HOLY, SERENE, FULFILLED LIFE ÷

FROM BEER TO WHISKEY

Matt Talbot was born in Dublin in May 1856, the sixth child in a family of twelve. As a young boy, he was placed in the school of the Brothers of the Christian Doctrine, where he did not do well in his studies. At the age of 12, he began work in a brewery. Working in an atmosphere where alcohol was everywhere, he soon followed the bad example of the other employees and began to empty the bottles. Seeing him come home every evening in unusually good spirits, his father intervened and found him another job, under his own supervision, with the port and dock committee. But Matt’s situation got worse – he got into the habit of swearing and using the dockers’ strong language. To top it all off, his new work buddies introduced him to whiskey! His father tried to dissuade him, and came to blows over it with him, but to no use.

To his parents’ despair, Matt removed himself from the paternal authority and sunk into drunkenness. However, the young man was a kindhearted soul. Realising the dishonour he had brought upon his father, he left the docks and was hired as a mason. He then spent every evening in cabarets and regularly went home drunk. He spent his entire wages on booze. He sank to such a point of vice that sometimes he resorted to stealing to get hold of alcohol.

His body was slowly being destroyed. But, more serious still is the sin that gives death to the soul: intemperate use of drink offends the Creator. Through alcoholism, just as through drugs, man voluntarily deprives himself of the use of reason, the most noble attribute of human nature. This licentiousness, when carried out in full knowledge and voluntarily, is a serious sin against God and also against the neighbour whom one, in a state of drunkenness, puts himself in danger of seriously offending.

A STROKE OF GRACE

In spite of his debasement, Matt retained a degree of propriety. He did not have illicit relations. Every morning, no matter the libations of the night before, he was up at six o’clock to go to work. He also faithfully attended Sunday Mass, even if he did not receive the Sacraments. One Saturday in 1884, divine grace knocked at his door. After having been out of work for a week, Matt, 28 years old, found himself without money and unable to buy alcohol. And yet, he was tormented by desire. Around noon, he went to station himself with Philip, his younger brother, on a street corner where workers passed after having received their pay. Surely one or another would invite him to have a drink. The workers passed and greet him, but no one invited him.

Matt was cut to the quick. To be deprived of alcohol cost him dearly, but most of all, he was wounded by the harshness of his friends, to whom he had frequently offered a round at the cabaret. He apruptly went home.

His mother was quite surprised to see him arrive so early, and sober. His mother! Matt was seized with the thought that he had been so ungrateful towards her. He had given his parents almost nothing toward board and lodging (all his money went to buy alcohol!) And now his heart was broken for having left them to suffer alone, while he went off to drink in a selfish manner.

At this time in Ireland, it was not unusual for a man who wanted to give up drinking to make a pledge. After the meal, sitting alone with his mother, Matt suddenly said, ‘I am going to make the pledge.’

HELPED BY THE HOLY SACRAMENTS

‘Good heavens! Do it, but don’t make it if you can’t keep it!’
‘I will make it, in God’s name.’
After having carefully dressed himself, he went to the College of the Holy Cross, asked to see a priest, and confessed. On the priest’s prudent advice, Matt made his pledge for a three-month period. The next day, he went to hear the five o’clock Mass at Saint Francis Xavier Church, received Communion and returned home renewed.

But to remain faithful to his pledge, the struggle would be terrible. Matt therefore decided to draw from daily Communion the spiritual strength he would need to keep his resolution. The most difficult time was in the evening, after work. To avoid temptation, the newly-converted began to take walks in the city. One day, however, he entered a cabaret at the same time as a number of other customers. The bartender, who was busy, seemed to ignore Matt, who, offended by his inattention, left as quickly as possible, having decided never again to set foot in a pub.

‘WILL I EVER DRINK AGAIN?’

During his walks, Matt met with another difficulty: alcohol had ruined his health, and he grew tired quickly. So, entering a church, he knelt before the Tabernacle and began to pray, begging God to strengthen him. He thus got into the habit of visiting the house of God. Nevertheless, the three months were long. The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal – hallucinations, depression, nausea, – were for him a veritable Calvary.

PRAYER

At times, the old passion awakened in him – he had to struggle desperately and prolong his prayers.

One day, returning home, he collapsed into a chair and sadly said to his mother: ‘It’s all no use, Mother – once these three months are over, I will drink again…’ But his mother comforted him and encouraged him to pray. Following this advice to the letter, Matt acquired a taste for prayer, and therein found his salvation. Indeed, prayer allows us to get out of situations that are hopeless in human terms. ‘For God all things are possible’ (Mt 19:26). When the three months were over, astonished to have ‘stuck it out’, Matt renewed his vow for another six months, at the end of which he promised never to drink alcohol again.

THE PILLAR OF DAILY MASS

Matt began a new life, a life of intimacy with God, of which daily Mass was the pillar. But, in 1892, the 5 a.m. Mass at which Matt usually received Communion was cancelled. The first Mass from then on was at 6.15. Despite the real skill he had acquired in his work, he did not hesitate to change jobs, and was hired as a simple manual labourer at a wood merchant’s, where work didn’t start until eight o’clock. His new job consisted of loading trucks. At night, as soon as work was over, he washed with care, put on his best clothes – because he did not want to enter the house of God with his work clothes on – and went to the church to visit the Blessed Sacrament.

One day, he admitted to his confessor: ‘I greatly desired the gift of prayer, and my wish has been fully granted.’His existence from then on was completely directed towards God, and especially the true presence of the Lord in the Tabernacle. ‘While the Eucharist is reserved in churches or oratories – Christ is truly Emmanuel, which means ‘God with us’,’ wrote Pope Paul VI. ‘For He is in the midst of us day and night; He dwells in us with the fullness of grace and of truth. He raises the level of morals, fosters virtue, comforts the sorrowful, strengthens the weak and stirs up those who draw near to Him to imitate Him, so that they may learn from His example to be meek and humble of heart, and to seek not their own interests but those of God. Anyone who has a special devotion to the sacred Eucharist and who tries to repay Christ’s infinite love for us with an eager and unselfish love of his own, will experience and fully understand – and this will bring great delight and benefit to his soul – just how precious life hidden with Christ in God and just how worthwhile it is to carry on a conversation with Christ, for there is nothing more consoling here on earth, nothing more efficacious for progress along the paths of holiness (Encyclical ‘Mysterium Fidei’, September 3, 1965)

IN THE SERVICE OF MARY

Matt Talbot cherished a tender devotion to the Mother of Jesus. Every day, he recited the Rosary and the office of the Blessed Virgin. Around 1912, he read the ‘Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin’, by Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort. In this book, he learned to practise ‘holy slavery’ through the consecration of his entire being and all his possessions to the service of Mary. [The consecration prayer and information can be found on this blog; please type “The prayer of consecration to Jesus through Mary” into this blog’s search facility; for information about living the consecration, please enter, “Living the consecration to Jesus through Mary” (4 instalments).]

Naturally quick tempered, Matt came to find it very difficult to endure his companions’ swearing and coarse language. When they took the Lord’s name in vain, he respectfully lifted his hat. Seeing this gesture, his friends would redouble their bad language. Matt would severely reprimand them, but later he limited himself to gently saying, ‘Jesus Christ hears you.’ One day, he sharply criticised his foreman for a less than generous charitable contribution. His boss called him back to respect and, the next day, Matt reported to his boss: ‘Our Lord,’ he declared, ‘told me that I must ask your forgiveness. I am coming to do it.’ His exemplary life ended up inspiring respect. What is more, he was a pleasant companion, always the first to laugh at a good joke, provided that it was within the limits of propriety.

‘YOUR CLOTHES LOOK WRETCHED’

In imitation of the ancient Irish monks who followed the tradition of Saint Columba, Matt imposed upon himself their [vegetarian] ascetic dietary regimen, both for the expiation of his sins as well as to mortify himself and promote in himself the life of the spirit. However, when friends invited him, he ate like everyone else.

Entering the Third Order of St Francis, he applied himself to imitate Christ’s poverty, reducing his needs to a bare minimum, and giving the rest to the poor. At the beginning of his conversion, he had kept the habit of smoking. One day, one of his friends asked him for tobacco. He had just bought a pipe and a bag of tobacco. In a heroic gesture, he gave them both away, and would never smoke again. He ordinarily wore shabby and threadbare clothes, and one day, someone gave him a new suit. He wanted to refuse it, but his confessor intervened – ‘Talbot, your clothes look wretched. They are offering you a new suit…’ – ‘Father, I promised God never to wear new clothes.’ – ‘Well!’ replied the Father. ‘It is God Who is sending you these!’ – ‘All right, if it is God Who is sending them to me, I’ll take them.’

If there was one luxury that Matt allowed himself, it was books. He loved to spend time reading, his favourite reading material being the Holy Scriptures and the writings of the Saints. Flipping through the Bible found in his home after his death, one could notice that he was especially fond of the Psalms, particularly the penitential Psalms in which the sinner expresses regret to God for his sins [They can be found on this blog, please type “Penitential Psalms” into the search facility], but also unshakeable confidence in divine mercy: ‘Have mercy on me, O God, in Your goodness: in the greatness of Your compassion wipe out my offence. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and from my sin cleanse me… Give me back the joy of Your salvation… (Psalm 50).

He also made notes that reveal an astonishing elevation of thought for a man of very rudimentary schooling. Some examples of his reflections: ‘Our time in this life is only a race to death, in which no man can stop… Freedom of the mind is gained by freeing oneself from pride, which makes the soul disposed to do the will of God in the smallest things… Applying the will consists in doing good, abusing it consists in doing evil… In meditation, we seek God through reason and commendable acts, but in contemplation, we see effortlessly…’ This life of prayer and penitence was strengthened by exceptional graces. One day he confided to his sister: ‘How sad it is to see what little love people have for God! .. Oh Susan! If you knew the profound joy I felt last night as I was conversing with God and His Blessed Mother!’, then, realising that he was talking about himself, he changed the subject.

There was profound unrest in Ireland in the period from 1911 to 1921 – labour conflicts marked by unemployment and strikes, the struggle for home rule, the First World War, then the war between Ireland and England. In the midst of this unrest, Matt kept his soul in peace. Nevertheless, the workers’ cause was close to his heart. He candidly condemned the inadequacy of the salaries of married workers, who he helped financiaally as much as he could. But he never demanded anything for himself. When friends quit their jobs or were dismissed, he expressed support of their cause.

‘THANK THE GREAT HEALER’

At the age of sixty-seven, Matt Talbot was physically spent – shortness of breath and heart palpitations forced him to ease up on his activities. After two hospital stays in 1923 and 1925, he recovered to some degree and took up his work again. During these stays, as soon as he was able, he would go to the chapel. To a nun who scolded him for the fright he had given her when he disappeared from the room, he answered, smiling, ‘I have thanked the sisters and the doctors – was it not right to thank the Great Healer?’

On Sunday, June 7, 1925, he was making his way to the Church of the Holy Saviour. Exhausted, he collapsed on the pavement. A lady gave him a glass of water. Matt opened his eyes, smiled and let his head fall down gain – this was the great encounter so desired with Christ Who came ‘to call, not the self-righteous, but sinners’ (Mt 9:13). In 1975 Matt Talbot received the title ‘Venerable’. Today, many charitable organisations dedicated to helping victims of alcohol and drugs place themselves under his patronage.

RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE

Matt Talbot is a model for all men and women. To victims of alcoholism or drugs, he shows through his example that, with the grace of God, recovery is possible. ‘Alcohol addictions are at times so strong that those closest to the alcoholic are led to believe that he will never overcome his addiction, and the alcoholic himself is tempted to lose all hope. It is good then to remember Jesus’ resurrection. This reminds us that failure is never God’s last word’ (Social Commission of French Bishops, December 1st 1998). To those who are slaves to other sins, he reminds them that one must ‘never despair of God’s mercy’ in accordance with Saint Benedict’s recommendation (Rule, ch.4). Our Lord promised St Margaret Mary that sinners would find in His Heart the source and the infinite ocean of mercy. Just as it is the nature of a ship to sail on the water, it is God’s nature to forgive and be merciful, as the Church confirms in one of her prayers.

Saint Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church, also was able to write near the end of her manuscripts: ‘Even if I had on my conscience all the sinst that can be committed, I would go, my heart broken with repentance, to throw myself into the arms of Jesus, for I know how much He loves the prodigal child who returns to Him.’ She added: ‘If I had committed all the crimes it is possible to commit, I would still have the same confidence, I would feel that this multitude of offences would be like a drop of water thrown into a blazing fire.’

Matt Talbot’s life eloquently proves that by turning faithfully to the Lord to ask forgiveness, one may, through the Sacrament of Penance, the normal way of Reconciliation with God, begin a new life under Mary’s maternal gaze.”
– Dom Antoine Marie OSB. This article was published in “The Little Way Association” (Helping the Missions side by side with St Therese), issue number 88. For more information and donations to The Little Way Association, please contact them at: Sacred Heart House, 119 Cedars Road, Clapham Common, London SW4 0PR. Tel.: +44 (0)20 7622 0466

 
 

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NOVENA PRAYER TO ST KEVIN

ST KEVIN, CONFESSOR; PROTECTOR OF DUBLIN AND OF ANIMALS, PARTICULARLY BIRDS; MEMORIAL: JUNE 3

O God, for the Christian education of the poor and the strengthening of the new generations in the way of truth, You raised up the holy Confessor, St Kevin, who was baptised, taught and buried by saints, and through him gathered together many souls in Your Church: grant, we pray You, that helped by his prayers and example, we may burn with zeal for Your glory in the salvation of souls, and become worthy to share his crown in heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Our Father…, Hail Mary…, Glory be…

 

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