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CATHOLIC CONCERN FOR ANIMALS – A VOICE FOR ANIMALS SINCE 1929

“CATHOLIC CONCERN FOR ANIMALS
A voice for animals in the Catholic Church since 1929.

• President is the Rt Rev Malcolm McMahon OP, Bishop of Nottingham

• Chairman is Mgr John Chaloner,
Deputy Chairman is Canon Richard Dwyer.

To find out more about Catholic Concern for Animals, visit the website http://www.catholic-animals.org [external link] *Ask for a free copy of ‘The Ark’* ”

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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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POPE ST PIUS V’S STRICTLY VEGAN LIFESTYLE

“St Pius was a man of sterling quality: he was a person who was serious, methodical and very rigorous. The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church understood this immediately, when the newly elected Pope brusquely refused the proposal of organising a party for his rise to the Papal throne.

THE FOOD OF THE DOMINICAN MONKS THROUGHOUT THE CENTURIES

Also his food was very simple: at the Pontifical Court, the food which the new Pope wanted to be put on the table, day after day, was connected to his being part of the Dominican Order, which adopted a strict and prohibitive diet: no meat, no dairy products, no eggs, and this was for three hundred and sixty five days of the year!

REFUSING TO BE DOMINATED BY THE HUMAN PALATE

He himself was reluctant to eat all those foods which were too agreeable or elaborate. One of his favourite dishes was bread cooked with olive oil. This was made of stale bread, garlic, oil, salt and pepper.

VEGAN FOR 55 YEARS

During his final illness, St Pius V, notwithstanding physical weakness, wanted to observe the Lent in its entirety. One of his domestics, seeing him so debilitated, had the wild chicory he habitually ate, seasoned with some meat sauce. As soon as the Pope had noticed this he showed himself very displeased: ‘Do you wish, my friend,’ he said ‘that for the few days I have left of my life, I will transgress the law of abstinence which I have observed inviolably during the course of 55 years?'”
– This article was published in “De Vita Contemplativa” Year VII, Number 5, May 2013. [Headings added.]

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2013 in Prayers for Ordinary Time

 

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ST ANTHUSA – A PANTHER LED PEOPLE TO WHERE SHE HAD DIED

ST ANTHUSA OF SELEUCIA, (THIRD CENTURY)

St Anthusa was ostracised by her pagan family for having become Christian. Originally from Seleucia in modern day Iraq, she had travelled to Tarsus (South Turkey) to secretly receive the sacrament of Baptism from the city’s bishop, St Athanasius. The latter was subsequently martyred as one of the victims of the persecution of Christians under the Roman Emperor Valerian (253-260).

Because her pagan family did not want to have anything to do with Anthusa since her conversion to Christianity, she journeyed into the wilderness and settled in a mountain cave. Henceforth she lived as a hermitess, spending the remaining years of her life in solitude, praying and doing penance, eating a purely plant based diet consisting mainly of herbs.

From time to time she suffered disturbing attacks by demons, but, firm in Christ, she always remained victorious and regained her tranquillity. After twenty-three years in solitude she died a peaceful death. Another hermitess called Polychronia learned of Anthusa’s death when a panther clamped his jaws onto the woman’s mantle and pulled her to the place where Anthusa’s body was resting. Polychronia gave her an honourable burial.

 
 

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TRUE MIRACLES SURROUNDING THE MARVELLOUS ST POPE PIUS V

“THE HERETICS ATTEMPTED MORE THAN ONCE TO DESTROY HIS LIFE WHICH BAFFLED ALL THEIR HOPES OF PERVERTING THE FAITH…THEY PUT POISON ON THE FEET OF HIS CRUCIFIX…WHEN HE WAS ABOUT TO KISS IT, SUDDENLY THE FEET OF THE CRUCIFIX DETACHED THEMSELVES FROM THE CROSS…”

THE POPE OF THE GREAT COMBATS

HIS FAVOURITE FOOD WAS PLAIN BREAD COOKED WITH OIL

“St Pius V was a man of sterling quality: he was a person who was serious, methodical and very rigorous. The cardinals of the Holy Roman Church understood this immediately, when the newly elected Pope brusquely refused the proposal of organising a party for his rise to the Papal throne. Also his food was very simple: at the Pontifical Court, the food which the new Pope wanted to be put on the table, day after day, was connected to his being part of the Dominican Order, which adopted a strict and prohibitive [vegan] diet: no meat, no dairy products, no eggs, and this was for three hundred and sixty five days of the year. He himself was reluctant to eat all those foods which were too agreeable or elaborate. One of his favourite dishes was bread cooked with oil. This was made of stale bread, garlic, oil, salt and pepper.

A FIRM HAND SENT BY GOD AMIDST INSIDIOUS SNARES

In the course of the XVI Century, heresy made its attack upon Catholicism: the Turks greatly desired and prepared for the annihilation of Christianity; the Council of Trent handed over its acts to the Holy See, which was to assume the grave duty of carrying out its decisions. Pius V was ‘the man sent by God’ to direct the destiny of the Church with an able and firm hand amidst insidious snares. A fearless defender of the truth and justice at a crucial hour, he worked unceasingly for the return of the solidity of the Faith and clarity of order, by means of the fervour of his prayer and the yoke of penance.

AGAINST HERESY

The whole life of Pius V was a combat. His pontificate fell during those troubled times when Protestantism was leading whole countries into apostasy. Italy was not a prey that could be taken by violence: artifice was therefore used, in order to undermine the Apostolic See and to thus drag the whole Christian world into the darkness of heresy. Pius defended the Peninsula from the dangers that threatened her with untiring devotedness. Even before he was raised to the Papal Throne, he frequently manifested his zeal in opposing the preaching of false doctrines. Like Peter the Martyr, he braved every danger and was the dread of the emissaries of heresy. When seated on the Chair of Peter, he kept the innovators in check by fear, roused the sovereigns of Italy to action and by measures of moderate severity, drove back beyond the Alps the torrent that would have swept Christianity from Europe, had not the Southern States thus opposed it. From that time forward, Protestantism has never made any further progress: it has been wearing itself out by doctrinal anarchy. We repeat it: this heresy would have laid all Europe waste, had it not been for the vigilance of the pastor who animated the defenders of truth to resist Protestantism where it already existed, and who set himself as a wall of brass against its invasion in the country where he himself was the master.

AGAINST ISLAM

Another enemy, taking advantage of the confusion caused in the West by Protestantism, organised an expedition against Europe. Italy was to be its first prey. The Ottoman fleet started from the Bosphorus. This again would have meant the ruin of Christendom but for the energy of the Roman Pontiff, our Saint. He gave the alarm, and called the Christian Princes to arms. Germany and France, torn by domestic factions that had been caused by heresy, turned a deaf ear to the call. Spain alone, together with Venice and the little Papal fleet, answered the summons of the Pontiff. The Cross and the Crescent were soon face to face in the Gulf of Lepanto. The prayers of Pius V [including all the Rosaries prayed by the Faithful] decided the victory in favour of the Christians, whose forces were far inferior to those of the turks. We shall return to this important event when we come to the Feast of the Holy Rosary in October. But we cannot omit to mention today the prediction uttered by the holy Pope on the evening of the great day of October 7th, 1571. The battle between the Christian and Turkish fleets lasted from six o’clock in the morning until late in the afternoon. Towards evening, the Pontiff suddenly looked up towards Heaven and gazed upon it in silence for a few seconds. Then turning to his attendants, he exclaimed: ‘Let us give thanks to God. The Christians have gained the victory!’ The news soon reached Rome; and thus Europe once more owed her salvation to a Pope! The defeat at Lepanto was a blow from which the Ottoman Empire has never recovered: its fall dates from that glorious day.

EVEN PROTESTANTS COULDN’T BUT ADMIRE THIS VIGOROUS OPPONENT OF THE SO-CALLED REFORMATION

The zeal of this holy Pope for the reformation of Christian morals, his establishment of the observance of the laws of discipline prescribed by the Council of Trent and his publication of the new Breviary and Missal, have made his six years’ pontificate one of the richest periods of the Church’s history. Protestants themselves have frequently expressed their admiration of this vigorous opponent of the so-called ‘Reformation’. ‘I am surprised’ said Bacon, ‘that the Church of Rome has not canonised this great man.’ Pius V did not receive this honour until about a hundred and thirty years after his death; so impartial is the Church, when She has to adjudicate this highest of earthly honours even to Her most revered Pastors!

THE MIRACLES

Of the many miracles which attested to the merits of this holy Pontiff, even during his life, we select the following two: As he was one day crossing the Vatican piazza, which is on the site of the ancient Circus of Nero, he was overcome with a sentiment of enthusiasm for the glory and courage of the martyrs who had suffered on that very spot in the first persecution. Stooping down, he took a handful of dust from the hallowed ground which had been trodden by so many generations of Christian people since the peace of Constantine. He put the dust into a cloth which the Ambassador of Poland, who was with him, held out to receive it. When the Ambassador opened the cloth, after returning to his house, he found it all saturated with blood, as fresh as though it had been that moment shed: the dust had disappeared. The faith of the Pontiff had evoked the blood of the martyrs, which thus gave testimony against the heretics that the Roman Church, in the sixteenth Century, was identically the same as that for which those brave heroes and heroines laid down their lives in the days of Nero.

The heretics attempted more than once to destroy a life which baffled all their hopes of perverting the faith in Italy. By a base and sacrilegious stratagem, aided by treachery, they put a deadly poison on the feet of the crucifix which the Saint kept in his Oratory, and which he was frequently seen to kiss with great devotion. In the fervour of prayer, Pius was about to give this mark of love to the image of his crucified Master, when suddenly the feet of the crucifix detached themselves from the Cross and eluded the proffered kiss of the venerable old man. The Pontiff at once saw through the plot whereby his enemies would fain have turned the life-giving Tree into an instrument of death.

In order to encourage the Faithful to follow the sacred Liturgy, we will select another interesting example from the life of this great Saint. When, lying on his bed of death, and just before breathing his last, he took a parting look at the Church on earth, which he was leaving for that of Heaven and he wished to make a final prayer for the flock which he knew was surrounded by danger; he therefore recited, but with a voice that was scarcely audible, the following stanza of the Paschal hymn: ‘We beseech thee, O Creator of all things! that in these days of Paschal joy, thou defend thy people from every assault of death!’ Having said these words, he died peacefully.”
– Servant of God Dom Prosper Gueranger. This article was published in “De Vita Contemplativa” (Monthly Magazine for Monasteries), issue May 2013. [Capital headings added.]

 
 

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BISHOP DECIDES TO STOP BUYING MEAT

“Auxilliary Bishop John Arnold of Westminster has said that he will no longer buy meat. Bishop Arnold, who is chairman of Cafod, the aid agency of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said: ‘I have just come to the conclusion that the production of meat is expensive in terms of the consumption of crops by the animals that we then eat. My travels as a trustee of Cafod have shown me how people see meat as a real luxury and I think that is a good way of viewing it.’

He said he should probably extend his thinking to fish, although he has not done so yet. He explained that he is not a vegetarian, because he will eat meat if someone has gone to the trouble preparing it for him. Growing crops for farm animals in America uses up nearly half of the country’s water supply and 80 per cent of its agricultural land, according to government figures.”
– This article by Mary Katherine Haley was published in “The Catholic Herald”, issue June 21 2013. For subscriptions, please visit http://www.catholicherald.co.uk (external link)

 

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PROTECTING GOD’S CREATION – IS THE BRITISH BADGER CULL A CHRISTIAN ISSUE?

“CATHOLICS OUGHT TO TREAT BADGERS WITH KINDNESS

Some in Gloucestershire say the first gunshots have been fired. Few can be sure, although the licences have now been issued. The poor farmers, desperate to eradicate the scourge of bovine TB (bTB), are being pressured into paying for a cull of badgers which will be inefficient at best, even, according to most independent scientists, counterproductive.

Why do we do it? We left the wildlife alone in the 1970s, when bTB was brought down to manageable levels, as is happening in Northern Ireland. Our European neighbours, who refuse to accept our vaccinated cattle, happily vaccinate their own (I have this on anecdotal evidence, often the most reliable), and our local Wildlife Trusts are halfway through a programme of vaccinating badgers. So why? It is demonstrably safer to control cattle movements, as happens in other countries. Instead, we face the start of a possible 25-year programme of futility in which more than 100,000, mainly healthy, badgers will be killed.

IS THIS A CATHOLIC ISSUE?

Is this a Catholic issue? I should say so! Where is the ‘showing animals kindness’ injunction of the Catechism (para 2614)? And by animals I include the cattle whose welfare is being compromised by this pointless and expensive exercise. How does it follow Pope Francis’ impassioned plea in his inaugural address that we must protect ‘all creation’, even ‘respecting… each of God’s creatures’? As the species created in God’s image it is our responsibility to exercise our dominion in a God-like servant way, not like the pagan rulers ‘lording it’ and ‘making their authority felt’. It is just about humanely possible to control bTB, but not in this way.

WHAT WE CAN DO TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Stay with me on the subject of livestock (aka food animals); you’ll see where this is heading. The IF campaign against global hunger… has missed the boat. It has failed the opportunity of a lifetime – certainly that of a starving infant’s – to really hit home, and where it hurts. And that is on the plate, the fork, between the teeth. For it is by the production of meat and dairy products at levels to satisfy the demand in countries such as ours that the world’s resources of land and water are being depleted at unsustainable rates. I’m sorry, but that’s true. The campaign’s ‘Guide to IF’ suggests that there would be enough food for everyone ‘if we stop poor farmers being forced off their land and grow crops to feed people, not fuel cars’. Easy to say, because few of our cars as yet use biofuels. But had it said, ‘and grow crops to feed people not lifestock’, that would have been more to the point, but would risk alienating supporters. Who likes to realise that taking world hunger seriously could mean eating less, or no, meat?

THE BISHOP’S EXAMPLE

One notable person who has done something about it is Cafod’s chairman, Auxilliary Bishop John Arnold of Westminster. While not turning down a meat-meal proffered by an hospitable parish, he no longer buys or consumes meat for himself. This view is supported by the UN Food and Agriculture report from 2006, ‘Lifestock’s long shadow, environmental issues and options’. Another brilliant and readable report is from Friends of the Earth and Compassion in World Farming, called ‘Eating the Planet? How we can feed the world without thrashing it.’ Decreasing consumption of animal products in the developed world would allow for huge potential to feed the planet, allowing the spread of organic agriculture rather than increased use of industrialised systems. A potential solution to world hunger, IF…”
– This article by Deborah Jones was published in “The Catholic Herald”, issue June 21 2013. For subscriptions, please visit http://www.catholicherald.co.uk (external link).

 

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