Sunday, 31 July 2016

The Feast of Saint Alphonsus Liguori

O God, who constantly raise up in your Church new examples of virtue, grant that we may follow so closely in the footsteps of the Bishop Saint Alphonsus in his zeal for souls as to attain the same rewards that are his 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.


The Litany of Saint Alphonsus Liguori

Lord have mercy on us.
Christ have mercy on us.
Lord have mercy on us. Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of Heaven,
have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost,
have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God,
have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Virgin Immaculate,
pray for us.
St. Alphonsus, model of piety from tenderest youth,
pray for us.
St. Alphonsus, scourge of heresies,
pray for us.
St. Alphonsus, defender of the Catholic Faith,
pray for us.
St. Alphonsus, always occupied in evangelizing the poor,
pray for us.
St. Alphonsus, tender comforter of the afflicted,
pray for us.
St. Alphonsus, instructed in the Divine art of
converting sinners,
pray for us.
St. Alphonsus, enlightened guide in the path of perfection,
pray for us.
St. Alphonsus, who became all things to all men,
to gain all for Christ,
pray for us.
St. Alphonsus, new ornament of the Religious state,
pray for us.
St. Alphonsus, bold champion of ecclesiastical discipline,
pray for us.
St. Alphonsus, model of submission and devotion
to the Sovereign Pontiff,
pray for us.
St. Alphonsus, who didst watch unceasingly over the
flock committed to thee,
pray for us.
St. Alphonsus, full of solicitude for the common good
of the Church,
pray for us.
St. Alphonsus, glory of the Priesthood and
of the Episcopate,
pray for us.
St. Alphonsus, shining mirror of all virtues,
pray for us.
St. Alphonsus, full of tenderest love for the infant Jesus,
pray for us.
St. Alphonsus, inflamed with Divine love whilst offering
the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass,
pray for us.
St. Alphonsus, fervent adorer of Jesus Christ
in the Holy Eucharist,
pray for us.
St. Alphonsus, penetrated with lively compassion while
meditating on the sufferings of our Divine Savior,
pray for us.
St. Alphonsus, specially devoted to the
Blessed Virgin Mary,
pray for us.
St. Alphonsus, favored by apparitions
of the Mother of God,
pray for us.
St. Alphonsus, leading an angelic life,
pray for us.
St. Alphonsus, a true Patriarch in thy paternal
solicitude for the people of God,
pray for us.
St. Alphonsus, endowed with the gift of prophecy
and miracles,
pray for us.
St. Alphonsus, an Apostle by the extent and fruit of thy labors,
pray for us.
St. Alphonsus, a Martyr by thy austerities,
pray for us.
St. Alphonsus, a Confessor by thy writings full
of the Spirit of God,
pray for us.
St. Alphonsus, a Virgin by thy purity of soul and body,
pray for us.
St. Alphonsus, a model of Missionaries,
pray for us.
St. Alphonsus, founder of the Order of the Most
Holy Redeemer,
pray for us.
St. Alphonsus, our tender father and powerful protector,
pray for us.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.

V. Pray for us, St. Alphonsus,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

O God, Who by the Blessed Alphonsus Maria, Thy Confessor and Bishop, inflamed with zeal for souls, has enriched Thy Church with a new progeny: we beseech Thee, that taught by his saving counsels, and strengthened by his example, we may happily come to Thee. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Saint Alphonsus, pray for us, that we may truly appreciate the glories of Blessed Mary Ever Virgin.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Russian Observations Upon the American Prayer Book



This was short book was the work of a Russian Orthodox commission, set up by St. Tikhon of Moscow, then ruling bishop of the Russian Orthodox American diocese, which examined whether the American 1892 edition of the Book of Common Prayer might be adapted for use by converts to Orthodoxy from Anglicanism. Their conclusions led to the Liturgy of Saint Tikhon, which is used by the Antiochian Western Orthodox Vicariate. It is therefore a fundamental text in in Western-Rite Orthodoxy.

The main conclusion of this text was that there was little in the Book of Common Prayer that was contrary to Orthodoxy, apart from the filioque, the catechism and the 39 Articles. It finds the sacramental rites deficient, as they do not present fundamental aspects of Orthodoxy, such as the Eucharistic sacrifice and the fullness of sacramental grace in ordination. The daily offices of morning and evening prayer are found to be worthy and edifying in what they contain, but deficient in their lack of prayers to the Blessed Mother of God, the saints and angels.

Western-Rite Orthodoxy is often associated with liturgical archaeology; attempts to recreate a long lost pre-schism western orthodoxy. This, however, was not at all what the Russian commission was engaged in. Instead of trying to revive an ancient rite like Sarum or the Gallican, they were looking at the western liturgy as a living tradition.

Readiness in the Black Sea Region

The Return of Depression Economics, by Paul Krugman




Nobel-award winning economist Paul Krugman provides a fairly readable history of financial crises in the Twentieth century, leading to an explanation of the banking crisis of 2008. I particularly liked the way he explained the concept of a recession by an analogy with a baby-sitting circle. This is a very informative book.

As a response to the 2008 recession, Krugman rejects supply-side economics (as advocated by Milton Friedman and implemented by Reagan and Thatcher) in favour of Keynesian demand-side economic policies. I would have liked him to have spent more time on that subject and offered a little more explanation as to the inadequacies of supply-side economics.

Flying Warthogs

Thursday, 28 July 2016

The Feast of Saint Martha

Saint Martha is one of my favorite saints. I am really devoted to her. I love the fact that the Bible records two memorable incidents about her. One in which she messed up; acting selfish and losing her temper. In the other incident, she showed her complete faith and trust in Jesus Christ and saw the reality of her faith vindicated in the raising of Lazarus.




Almighty ever-living God,
whose Son was pleased to be welcomed
in Saint Martha’s house as a guest,
grant, we pray,
that through her intercession,
serving Christ faithfully in our brothers and sisters,
we may merit to be received by you
in the halls of 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.




Saint Martha,
I resort to thy aid and protection.
Comfort me in all my difficulties
and through the great favors thou didst enjoy
when the Savior was lodged in thy house,
intercede for my family,
that we be provided for in our neccessities.
I ask of thee, Saint Martha,
to overcome all difficulties
as thou didst overcome the dragon
which thou hadst at thy feet.
In the name of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen


Saint Martha, hostess of the Lord and woman of faith, pray for us, that we may have complete confidence and trust in Jesus Christ Our Saviour

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

The Feast of Saint Alphonsa



O God, who didst endue thy holy Virgin Saint Alphonsa with grace to witness a good confession: Grant that we, after her example, may be found ready when the Bridegroom cometh, and enter with him to the marriage feast; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Saint Alphonsa, pray for us, for the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, for all Franciscans and for India.

The Feast of Pope Saint Victor I

O God, the light of the faithful, and shepherd of souls, who didst set blessed Saint Victor to be a Bishop and Pope in the Church, that he might feed thy sheep by his word and guide them by his example: Grant us, we pray thee, to keep the faith which he taught, and to follow in his footsteps; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Saint Victor, pray for us, for the Catholic Church in Africa and for Pope Francis.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Polish Soldiers in Estonia

The Guardian: Treating Muslim children as terror suspects does not make Britain safer

The Guardian: Treating Muslim children as terror suspects does not make Britain safer

by Homa Khaleeli


"This feeling has become more intense because Prevent now aims to deter people not just from violent extremism but also from “non-violent extremism”. This means not just worrying about people who might be terrorists, but also trying to clock anyone with “extreme” views. The government defines these views vaguely, as ideas that are opposed to “British values” – an equally vague term. As Harriet Harman said in the recent select committee report, the government’s policy is focused on the idea that there is “an escalator that starts with religious conservatism and ends with support for violent jihadism”. But this theory has never been proven, and critics point out that it allows the government to label any views they disagree with as a sign of extremism.

****

When the national conversation about Islam and Muslims is so negative, it has a lasting effect. Being Muslim is seen at least as a factor in vulnerability to extremism, so Muslim students become less comfortable discussing controversial issues. Rights Watch UK reported: “Muslim children across the United Kingdom are self-censoring for fear of being reported under Prevent. Their fear is not unwarranted. We have uncovered a number of instances where children have been referred to Prevent for legitimately exercising their right to freedom of expression in situations where they pose no threat to society whatsoever.” Not only does this mean innocent children are being swept up in a panic over extremism, but those who do have disturbing views will not express them. Instead they will be hidden and allowed to fester.

Apart from a few terrifying exceptions, British Muslims want to protect their country and their young people as much as non-Muslims (who also have a few terrifying exceptions). Surveys show they are more patriotic than the wider community, and intelligence from Muslim communities is vital in countering terrorism. But for this to happen, British Muslims need to feel they are partners in keeping the country safe, not just suspects."

The Telegraph: Islamist terrorists are not soldiers fighting a holy war, just pathetic murderers without a plan

The Telegraph: Islamist terrorists are not soldiers fighting a holy war, just pathetic murderers without a plan

Editorial

"The human instinct on considering horrors such as those that have taken place in France and Germany in recent days is to look for a pattern, a single narrative thread that can go some way to explaining the seemingly inexplicable. The bloody killing of an 86-year-old priest in Normandy invites such thinking, since it follows years of attacks on Christians in the Middle East first by al-Qaeda then by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil). Is radical Islam seeking a war with Christianty? The idea of such a conflict between faiths would delight Isil, but it is hard to reconcile with that group’s dreadful persecution of fellow Muslims: Isil has killed many more Muslims than it has Christians or Jews.

Perhaps the Islamists are targetting Western liberal values more broadly, seeking to reinstate the Islamic Caliphate that once existed across the Middle East and parts of southern Europe? But that end is poorly served by mayhem in Normandy and Bavaria, lands that were never home to Muslims in the middle ages and which have only come to have Muslim residents as a result of those liberal Western values.

Seeking explanations for evil is natural, but we must not impute too much calculation or design to the perpetrators. The truth is that there is no rationale here, no coherent argument that we can counter if only we formulate the correct intellectual response. There are only the acts of inadequate and sometimes disturbed individuals with a nihilistic desire to destroy anything that challenges them and their ill-formed idea of the world. Of course, we must harden our defences against such acts, but we should be wary of the notion that those acts represent a clash of cultures, for that suggests some sort of parity between irrational extremists on one hand and a civilisation of shared ideas and traditions developed over thousands of years on the other."

Monday, 25 July 2016

The Feast of Saint Anne



O Lord, God of our Fathers, who bestowed on Saints Joachim and Anne this grace, that of them should be born the Mother of your incarnate Son, grant, through the prayers of both, that we may attain the salvation you have promised to your people. 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.

Good St. Anne, you were especially favored by God to be the mother of the most holy Virgin Mary, the Mother of our Savior. By your power with your most pure daughter and with her divine Son, kindly obtain for us the grace and the favor we now seek. Please secure for us also forgiveness of our past sins, the strength to perform faithfully our daily duties and the help we need to persevere in the love of Jesus and Mary. Amen.


Litany of Saint Anne
For private use only.

Lord have mercy on us.
Christ have mercy on us.
Lord have mercy on us. Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of Heaven,
have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost,
have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God,
have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, Queen of Angels and Saints
Pray for us.
St. Anne, instrument of the Holy Ghost,
Pray for us.
St. Anne, faithful spouse of St. Joachim,
Pray for us.
St. Anne, mirror of the married,
Pray for us.
St. Anne, example of widows,
Pray for us.
St. Anne, miracle of patience,
Pray for us.
St. Anne, mother of confidence,
Pray for us.
St. Anne, mother of constancy,
Pray for us.
St. Anne, mother of prayer,
Pray for us.
St. Anne, mother of blessing,
Pray for us.
St. Anne, vessel of sanctity,
Pray for us.
St. Anne, merciful mother,
Pray for us.
St. Anne, comfortress of the afflicted,
Pray for us.
St. Anne, help of the poor,
Pray for us.
St. Anne, protectress of virgins,
Pray for us.
St. Anne, support of the oppressed,
Pray for us.
St. Anne, refuge of thy clients,
Pray for us.
We sinners,
We beseech thee, hear us.
Through thy love for Jesus and Mary,
We beseech thee, hear us.
Through thy virtues and merits,
We beseech thee, hear us.
Through thy goodness and mercy,
We beseech thee, hear us.
Through thy compassion and charity,
We beseech thee, hear us.
Through the graces bestowed on thee by God,
We beseech thee, hear us.
Through the joys thou didst experience with Jesus and Mary,
We beseech thee, hear us.
Through the happiness thou dost enjoy for all eternity,
We beseech thee, hear us.
Through the honor given thee by the Saints in Heaven,
We beseech thee, hear us.


Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.

V. Pray for us, St. Anne,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

O God, Who didst vouchsafe to endow blessed Anne with grace so that she might be worthy to become the mother of her who brought forth Thine only-begotten Son, mercifully grant that we who devoutly venerate her memory may also be helped by her powerful intercession. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Saint Anne, pray for us, and for all mothers.

InFacts: Trump’s “might is right” views spell trouble post-Brexit

InFacts: Trump’s “might is right” views spell trouble post-Brexit


by Michael Prest



At the very least, a less stable and cooperative world order calls into question the free trade fantasies of some Brexiteers. A UK cast adrift on a 19th century free trade raft would be cruelly exposed to Trump’s 21st century protectionist starship. Being at the back of the queue to negotiate a trade deal with the US would be only the start of the UK’s problems.

Moreover, the UK was a founder – and until now a responsible pillar – of the multilateral order. If the UK turned its back on a system which has on the whole served the world well for the last 70 years it would imperil far more than itself.

Trump’s apparently cavalier disregard for Nato, the WTO and doubtless other pillars of multilateralism such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank is a harsh new environment in which the UK has to try to forge a new deal with the EU. It points unequivocally to the lightest possible Brexit. Trump may not be elected. But it would be most unwise to assume that someone else like him will not come onto the scene in a few years’ time in the US or that China and other countries will decide that multilateralism no longer serves their national interests.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

The Feast of Saint James the Great




GRANT, O merciful God, that as thine holy Apostle Saint James, leaving his father and all that he had, without delay was obedient unto the calling of thy Son Jesus Christ, and followed him; so we, forsaking all worldly and carnal affections, may be evermore ready to follow thy holy commandments; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

St. James, pray for us and for Spain.

The Unseen Realm, by Michael Heiser



I first encountered Michael Heiser's work fourteen years ago. He was an Evangelical biblical scholar with some interesting ideas, who also had an interest in UFOs and had done great work in demolishing the unscholarly ravings of Zechariah Sitchin. Having followed Heiser on his blog over the years and read his free online stuff, I was familiar with a lot of the views in this book and had encountered some of them from other sources.

Central to Michael Heiser's work is the concept of the divine council, a council of heavenly beings who accompany Yahweh and do His will. It is this divine council that is addressed in Genesis 1:26. Heiser argues that the common Christian view that the Trinity is referenced in Gen 1:26 cannot be supported by the Old Testament data. I agree with Heiser. To baldly insert the doctrine of the Trinity into the first chapter of the Bible destroys any concept of progressive revelation.

I remember an elderly man in an Evangelical church I attended telling me "there is a song we sing here that I don't agree with." He pointed out a chorus with the line 'Among the gods there is none like you.' He said "Well there are no other gods!" He was unfortunately unaware that the song was based on Psalm 86. Michael Heiser points out the frequent application of the term elohim or gods to spiritual beings in the Old Testament. Most interestingly he argues that Psalm 82 proclaims the judgement of Yahweh over the gods, not human judges as is commonly held by commentators, bit over spiritual beings that overrule human affairs. Furthermore, he argues that the Hebrews viewed the gods of the surrounding nations, not as fictional deities, but as real entities rivaling Yahweh. Later in the book, he links in soteriology and eschatology, arguing form of theosis. Heiser argues that the Bible promises that human beings are to be elevated to the ranks of the divine council as gods. To the average Christian this sounds like Mormonism, but I hold it to be the Biblical truth. The error of Mormonism is not in teaching that humans can become gods, they are actually correct about that. Their error is in reducing God to the level of an human being. The future destiny of glorified believers is more incredible than we can imagine. Protestants sometimes accuse Catholics of making the Blessed Virgin Mary into a goddess. Perhaps we do, in the sense that we view Mary as a forerunner of the glorious deification of redeemed humanity, who will be elevated to the ranks of the gods in the eschaton.

Some of the divine council rebelled against Yahweh, hence the rebellious gods of Psalm 82. Our author has much to say on the subject of demonology in this book. I like his handling of the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Both liberal and conservative Christians fall into the trap of literalism regarding the serpent. Liberal Christians see a talking snake and treat the story of Adam and Eve as a fable. Evangelicals on the other hand see a snake given the power of speech by Satan. Heiser rejects the position that a talking snake is in view. He points out that the Hebrew word nachash for serpent also refers to brightness or burning. He therefore connects it with both the heavenly Seraphim and Lucifer in Isaiah. He also connects the serpent with the cherub figure in Ezekiel 28. The serpent is not a true serpent but a rebellious heavenly being. He does not go into the question of whether the fall of Satan occurred prior to Genesis and the creation of humanity.

Heiser argues that the sons of God of Genesis are angels who intermarried with human beings. For all the difficulties that this view presents, I think it is the one best supported by the Biblical data. While some of the Ante-Nicene Fathers held this view, Catholic and Orthodox theologians have rejected it since then. I am not aware that it has ever been declared to be heresy by the Catholic Church. He also points out that it is very clear that there are giants of angel-human hybrid origin living in the land of Canaan, though he says it is unclear whether this is due to a repetition of the forbidden intermarriage or through Noah's flood being local and some of the original nephilim surviving. He suggests the presence of these hybrid beings helps to explain the genocidal commands of Yahweh to Israel, which deeply trouble many Christians today.

While keen to understand the Old Testament in its original ancient near east context, Heiser offers a very Christian and Christological interpretation of the Bible as an whole. He looks at the theophanies of the Old Testament and argues that they prefigure the incarnation. He also demonstrates how the New Testament fulfills the themes of the Old Testament, particularly in relation to the divine council. There is a lot of common ground with the ideas of Margaret Barker, but Heiser is rather more orthodox and less radical.

I think this book will is an excellent contribution and will help readers to understand the Old and New Testaments immensely. However, I do think it has some weaknesses. Firstly, it might be suggested that Heiser's methodology is at cross purposes. He connects accounts of the divine council with the ancient near east cultural context with Scripture, yet he also sees them as real spiritual being. One might suggest that the imagery associated with the divine council is God's revelation accomodated to the culture of the readers. This is not a view I favour, but I am not sure Heiser handles the tension between the cultural location of the revelation and its objective content.

Our author argues for a low view of divine sovereignty, rejecting the view that all things form part of divine predestination. He sees the agents of the cosmos, both earthly and heavenly as shaping the flow of history. He bases his view on his exegesis, yet he seems highly dismissive of the great theologians who have taken an high view of sovereignty, such as Aquinas and Calvin. There is a touch of arrogance in his unwillingness to take seriously the conclusions of systematic theology. In other areas, the book might have been enriched by a little engagement with historical theology. Heiser writes as though theological writers have been utterly ignorant until today. It is true that some of Heiser's ancient near east insights were lost on the church fathers and medieval theologians, but perhaps there are some areas of common ground. For intance, it might be interesting to ask how Pseudo-Dionysius' ideas on the angelic hierarchy fit with the divine council concept?

On his blog, Heiser has shown some sympathy with preterism, but in this book he offers no preterist readings of prophetic texts. His eschatological emphasis in this book is orientated towards the future eschaton. I would have liked to see him acknowledging some realized dimension to Christ's victory, as the emphasis in the epistles seems to be on Christ's triumph over the heavenly powers being something already accomplished.

The idea of spiritual beings having charge over particular territories has been particularly influential in the charismatic movement, with the concept of territorial spirits. Some Christians believe they need to engage with these powers directly, through prayer, fasting and sometimes symbolic marches (I remember taking part in the 'March for Jesus' when I was a kid!). It would have been interesting if Heiser had offered his thoughts on the validity of such activity. He does not offer much as to the practical implications of his ideas for spiritual warfare.

This is a book that is likely to challenge the thinking of many Christians and offers some real food for thought.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

LabourList| Geraint Davies: A second EU referendum should – and will – happen. Here’s why

LabourList| Geraint Davies: A second EU referendum should – and will – happen. Here’s why


"It was therefore a shrewd idea of Theresa May to put Boris Johnson, David Davis and Liam Fox in charge of the Brexit negotiations. She must know as a Leave campaigner that the Brexiteers won’t be able to fulfil the public expectations they’ve created and so it is they who should carry the can of false promises they sold.

No one can really believe that Boris Johnson will be taken seriously by EU negotiators. They also know that within the year UK voters will conclude that the only option of saving jobs and the economy is to stay in the EU and that cast-iron control of immigration is both unrealistic and counterproductive. The new Prime Minister will then, in the interests of democracy, offer a second referendum “so that the informed and settled will of the people can be affirmed in light of the facts”.

When EU negotiators realise that a second referendum is more a question of “when” than “if” they will soften their position to allow negotiation before Article 50 is triggered i.e. before the two-year count-down to leaving the EU formally begins. That’s why I’m urging Labour Party members to contact their MP to sign Early Day Motion 243 which supports my Bill for a second referendum on the EU exit package."

Third Issue

The Feast of Saint Bridget of Sweden

O God, who guided Saint Bridget of Sweden along different paths of life and wondrously taught her the wisdom of the Cross as she contemplated the Passion of your Son, grant us, we pray, that, walking worthily in our vocation, we may seek you in all things. 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.


Saint Bridget, pray for us, for all female religious and for Sweden.

Friday, 22 July 2016

The European Movement's Red Lines

True Allies

National Review| Trump’s Latest Terrible Idea: Reneging on Our NATO Commitments

National Review| Trump’s Latest Terrible Idea: Reneging on Our NATO Commitments

by Kevin D. Williamson


"Thanks to Trump, the heads of government and defense ministers of the other NATO powers must now consider that the United States will welsh on its obligations the way Donald Trump welshes on his debts. He isn’t the president yet, of course, and he probably won’t be. But the chance isn’t zero, either. If you are, say, Lithuania, and you suspect that the United States will not actually have your back — a suspicion fortified by Trump’s man-crush on Russian strongman Vladimir Putin — what do you do? Maybe you try to get ahead of the curve and go voluntarily into the Russian orbit. Maybe you notice that nobody seriously messes with the psychotic state of North Korea and do what you can to get your hands on a few nuclear weapons. They don’t know what we are going to do. As a consequence, we don’t know what they are going to do.

And that’s how Trump makes the world a more dangerous place — even before he’s elected.

Over the next few months, you’ll hear some activists whose main interest is national security making the case that Hillary Rodham Clinton is awful but much less of a loose cannon — and a good deal less Dr. Strangelove-y — than is Donald Trump. He isn’t doing anything to prove them wrong. And he probably won’t."

Thursday, 21 July 2016

The Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene



O God, whose Only Begotten Son entrusted Mary Magdalene before all others with announcing the great joy of the Resurrection, grant, we pray, that through her intercession and example we may proclaim the living Christ and come to see him reigning in your glory. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


Saint Mary Magdalene, pray for us, that we may be protected from demonic oppression.

Washington Post: NATO allies respond to Trump’s suggestion that the U.S. might not protect them from Russia

Washington Post: NATO allies respond to Trump’s suggestion that the U.S. might not protect them from Russia

"There is no reason to doubt NATO's commitment to the core function of the Alliance — collective defense," Latvian Defense Minister Raimonds Bergmanis wrote on Twitter.

A more pointed tone was taken by Ojars Eriks Kalnins, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in Latvia’s Parliament, who called Trump's remarks "dangerous" in comments also reported by Diena newspaper. Kalnins noted that it was unclear whether Trump was talking about the spending commitments or about generally being helpful to the United States.

"Too bad the NY Times didn't ask Trump if he would defend NATO member Slovenia if attacked," the U.S.-raised Latvian politician wrote on Twitter, referring to the Eastern European state where the Republican nominee's wife, Melania Trump, was born and has family.


If there are any reasons to vote for Hillary Clinton, Trump's disturbing comments on NATO definitely are.

The Guardian: British strawberries could be wiped out by Brexit, farming leaders warn

The Guardian: British strawberries could be wiped out by Brexit, farming leaders warn


An estimated 30,000 EU workers come to Britain every year for the harvest season, and this migration is typical of the sector across the world.

“All first-world economies employ foreigners to pick, pack and plant fruit. This is not unique. Canada, Australia even Spain employs migrants because their own citizens don’t want to do the work,” said Olins.

“There is an absolute requirement that the government has some sort of solution in place for seasonal work. It’s not just horticulture, it’s the care sector, hospitality sector and so many other places that are dependent on migrant workers,” said Rob Orme, chief executive of Concordia, a charity that recruits EU migrants for farm work.

“We cannot produce affordable food without a workforce that’s happy to handpick in the field or orchard,” he said.

Ukraine Conflict 21st July




This is war, this is Europe and it is happening today.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

The Feast of Saint Victor of Marseilles

Almighty God, by whose grace and power thy holy Martyr Saint Victor of Marseilles triumphed over suffering, and despised death: Grant, we beseech thee, that enduring hardness, and waxing valiant in fight, we may with the noble army of martyrs receive the crown of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Saint Victor of Marseilles, pray for us, for France and for the city of Tallinn.

Insight into the Blessed Virgin Mary, by Mark Ogujiuba



I do not know the author's nationality, but judging by his photograph and name, he must be an African. It is evident that English is not his first language. Like a lot of books available on Amazon's Kindle Unlimited, it is badly in need of better editing to address the spelling, grammar and typing errors. Nevertheless, I did find it an edifying read.

This is basically a broad introduction to Catholic mariology. The author explains the role of Mary in salvation, the Marian dogmas, her titles and some of the feasts. He spends a good deal of time writing about the apparitions at Fatima. I liked the fact that he made references to the material in the Protoevangelium of James to illustrate the early life of Mary. This is evidently the work of a man greatly devoted to Our Lady.

What would have made it a little more interesting would have been for the author to talk about devotional practices among Catholics in his own culture. Devotion to Our Lady in Ireland is different to devotion to Mary in the Philippines. It would have been very insightful to have had an African perspective on this.

The Feast of Saint Margaret of Antioch



O Almighty God, who didst give to thy servant Margaret of Antioch, boldness to confess the Name of our Saviour Jesus Christ before the rulers of this world, and courage to die for this faith: Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us, and to suffer gladly for the sake of the same our Lord Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


O God, grant us through the intercession of Your holy virgin and martyr Margaret, the graces necessary to undauntedly confess the Faith, carefully observe chastity in our state of life, and overcome the temptations of the world, the devil, and the flesh, and thereby escape the punishments of eternal damnation. Amen.


St. Margaret, holy virgin and martyr, faithfully did you preserve the robe of holy innocence and purity, valiantly resisting all the flattery and allurements of the world for the love of your Divine Spouse, Jesus Christ. Help me to overcome all temptations against the choicest of all virtues, holy purity. Help me to remain steadfast in the love of Christ, in order to preserve this great gift of God. Implore for me the grace of perseverance in prayer, distrust of myself, and flight from the occasions of sin. Finally, I beg that you obtain for me the grace of a good death, so that in Heaven I may "follow the Lamb wherever He goes." Amen.


Saint Margaret of Antioch, pray for us, that we may be faithful unto death.

Monday, 18 July 2016

The Feast of Saint Macrina



The sister of Saint Basil the Great and Saint Gregory of Nyssa.


The image of God was truly preserved in you, O Mother,
For you took up the Cross and followed Christ.
By so doing, you taught us to disregard the flesh, for it passes away,
But to care instead for the soul, since it is immortal.
Therefore your spirit, O Holy Mother Macrina, rejoices with the Angels!

Since the light of righteousness shone brightly in thee,
thou wast an example of the life of piety for all,
teaching the virtues to them that cry:
Rejoice, Macrina, thou boast of virginity.


Saint Macrina, pray for us, that we may inspire and guide our family members with our faith.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

William Palmer's Annotated Russian Catechism




William Palmer (1811-1879) was an Anglican deacon and theologian, of the High Church party. He advocated the Branch Theory of the Church, seeing both the Anglican and the Eastern Orthodox churches as branches of the one catholic church. He therefore sought to demonstrate this by asking to receive communion in the Orthodox Church. Palmer's quest to receive communion in Orthodoxy had a slightly farcical quality. At one point he was asked to anathematize parts of the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England. When his colleagues expressed concern about this, Palmer claimed he had not repudiated the articles, only interpretations of them. In the end, he was unsuccessful in his quest. The Russian Orthodox Church was willing to receive him, but the Greek Orthodox Church insisted that he be re-baptized. Palmer thought it an unsatisfactory state of affairs to be received in one Orthodox jurisdiction, but not another. In the end, he decided to be received into the Roman Catholic Church, while still harboring a deep love for Orthodoxy.

I think there is an important apologetic point to be made in Palmer's failed quest for reception to Orthodoxy and subsequent conversion to Catholicism. Palmer's quest for catholicity in Orthodoxy showed his discomfort at its apparent lack in Anglicanism. He failed to find the catholicity he was looking for in Orthodoxy and so he turned to the one place he could find it- in the Roman Catholic Church. I am reminded of Vladimir Soloviev, the great Russian thinker, who was dissatisfied with what he saw in Orthodoxy and embraced true catholicity in communion with the Pope as a Byzantine Catholic.

This book is Palmer's translation of the Russian Catechism, together with an extensive set of annotations that attempt to argue that the Orthodox doctrine is in essential harmony with that of Anglicanism. The Russian Catechism had been written at a time when the Russian Orthodox Church was under heavy westernizing influence, both Catholic and Protestant. This is reflected in some of the western terminology and emphases of this catechism.

In this book, Palmer was engaged in a very similar project to Blessed John Henry Newman in Tract 90, in which Newman had attempted to harmonize the 39 Articles with the doctrine of the Council of Trent. Palmer assembled a remarkable collection of quotations of Anglican bishops and divines that appear to support some of the Orthodox practices and teachings, such as invocation of saints, prayers for the dead and the Eucharistic sacrifice. I wonder if perhaps these quotations were a little selective? I am not quite convinced that many Anglicans would have been convinced by Palmer's harmonization.

This book will be of interest to readers in Orthodoxy and Anglicanism and may be seen as a foundational text in the establishment of a Western-rite Orthodoxy. For us Catholics, we can read it and feel smug that Palmer made the right choice in the end.

Demonstrating my Europhile Sentiments



I put this shoes-off sign up on the front door of my new apartment. I thought it would be nice to have the message in German rather than English.

The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, by Michael Novak




Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, 1982 Simon and Schuster, New York


Oh, for those blessed days when Ronald Reagan was in the White House, Margaret Thatcher was in No.10 Downing Street and St. John Paul II was in the Vatican. Actually no, those days were not so great. The 80s was a time of increasing inequality, increasing polarisation between the political parties and social and racial tensions. It's also important to remember that for all his opposition to Communism, Pope St. John Paul II was significantly to the left of Thatcher and Reagan. Yet there is something powerful about the way those three figures paved the way for the liberation of Eastern Europe from Communism and the victory of democratic capitalism in that region. Novak was a significant figure in the New Right of the 80s and helped to generate the alliance between conservative Catholics in America and the Republican Right. This was an immensely powerful book in that it called for an whole-hearted embrace of democratic capitalism by Catholics, instead of the weary, grudging acceptance of capitalism that had previously characterised Catholic social teaching.

I first encountered Michael Novak's thought when I was studying for my first degree in theology. I was taking a module on Liberation Theology, which my lecturers were very enthusiastic about. I read Michael Novak's book on Liberation Theology, which offered a very robust critique of the movement and a passionate defence of capitalism. I found it very encouraging at the time. The lecturer who taught the module offered a brief presentation of Novak's critique, acknowledging his criticisms, but pointing out a number of flaws, including his failure to address poverty in capitalist societies, a flaw which can be seen in Spirit of Democratic Capitalism as well.

The book feels quite loosely structured, it almost comes across as a compendium of essays, with a lot of Novak's thoughts feeling somewhat pithy. Our author attempts to establish a positive theology of economics. He makes the case that democratic capitalism creates a society that is free and fair and in which the population is energised to engage in all kinds of good and noble pursuits. On the whole I agree with him. There is little in the book that I disagree with. The problem is the important topics that Novak avoids discussing.

Novak says absolutely nothing about the welfare state, apart from some comments hidden in the endnotes that worryingly suggest he thinks social security is a bad thing. I would suggest that the welfare state has been central in moderating capitalism and preventing it from collapse and revolution. As indicated above, Novak avoids any discussion of poverty in capitalist societies. Surprisingly in a book advocating a theology of economics, our author does not go into the technical side of economics. Crucially, he has nothing to say about what is arguably a central problem of capitalism, the cycle of recession and the risk of depression. He never mentions Keynesianism and its model of balanced capitalism.

I think this is an important and a beautiful book, but it is somewhat unbalanced and would have benefitted from a little more critical reflection.



Saturday, 16 July 2016

New Atlanticist: In France, More Security, But Not at the Expense of Inclusivity

New Atlanticist: In France, More Security, But Not at the Expense of Inclusivity

by Ashish Kumar Sen


"What is at stake is a sense of identity and how, over time, a more diverse France integrates and incorporates its Muslim population into how it has long seen itself as a bastion of secularism, liberal democracy, openness, and tolerance. French intellectuals, politicians, activists, artists are actually several steps ahead of their peers across Europe and the United States in working through these complex issues about society and identity. Getting it right can help defuse a situation that could lead to more violence and actually offer a pathway for Europe in terms of a more common identity against the backdrop of a diverse population.

This is difficult and has profound implications as we have seen with the rise of popularity of the National Front, which has been growing under the leadership of Marine Le Pen—a very credible contender for the French presidency next year.

The challenge that faces French society is the offer of the false sense of security by clamping down and building walls to protect the France of the past. I fear that we will see populist politicians looking to leverage horrific attacks like Nice for their own political purposes.

At the same time, it presents a challenge to leading mainstream politicians in France to articulate a strategy that resonates with the French people who are scared, but also leads them to understand that part of the importance of our response is how to bolster the foundations of our liberal democratic societies."

The Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel




In communion with Our Lady of Mount Carmel, help us, dear Lord, to arrive at last at the mountain which is Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever.


Novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel (very powerful)

O most beautiful flower of Mount Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of Heaven, blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me in this my necessity. Oh, Star of the Sea, help me and show me herein that you are my Mother.

O Holy Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and Earth, I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart to succor me in this necessity; there are none that can withstand your power. O show me herein that you are my Mother.

Our Lady, queen and beauty of Carmel, pray for me and obtain my requests.

Sweet Mother, I place this cause into your hands.


Litany of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of Heaven,
have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the World,
have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit,
have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God,
have mercy on us.

Holy Mary,
pray for us.

BEFORE EACH OF THE FOLLOWING SALUTATIONS SAY:
"Our Lady of Mount Carmel,"
AND AFTERWARDS: "Pray for us Sinners."

Queen of Heaven,
Victorious over Satan,
Most Obedient Daughter,
Most Pure Virgin,
Devoted Spouse,
Mother Most Tender,
Model of Perfect Virtue,
Sure Anchor of Hope,
Refuge in Sorrow,
Dispensatrix of the Gifts of God,
Bastion Against Our Enemies,
Our Aid in Danger,
The Way Leading to Jesus,
Our Light in Darkness,
Our Consolation at the Hour of Death,
Advocate of the Most Abandoned Sinners,
For the Hardened in Vice,
For Those who Offend Thy Divine Son,
For Those Who Neglect to Pray,
For Those Who are in Agony,
For Those Who Defer Their Conversion,
For Those Suffering in Purgatory,
For Those Who Do Not Know Thee.

Let Us Pray.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, glorious Queen of Angels, channel of God's tenderest mercy to man, refuge and advocate of sinners, with confidence I prostrate myself before thee, beseeching thee to obtain for me [Mention request silently]. In return I solemnly promise to have recourse to thee in all my trials, sufferings and temptations, and I shall do all in my power to induce others to love and reverence thee and to invoke thee in all their needs. I thank thee for the numberless blessings which I have received from thy mercy and powerful intercession. Continue to be my shield in danger, my guide in life, and my consolation at the hour of death. Amen.



Litany of Our Lady of Mount Carmel for the Conversion of Sinners

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven,
Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God,
Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary,
pray for us sinners.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Queen of Heaven,
pray for us sinners.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, vanquisher of Satan, etc.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, most dutiful Daughter,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, most pure Virgin,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, most devoted Spouse,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, most tender Mother,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, perfect model of virtue,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, sure anchor of hope,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, refuge in affliction,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, dispenser of God's gifts,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, tower of strength against our foes,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, our aid in danger,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, road leading to Jesus,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, our light in darkness,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, our consolation at the hour of death,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, advocate of the most abandoned sinners,

For those hardened in vice,
With confidence we come to thee,
O Lady of Mount Carmel.
For those who grieve thy Son,
With confidence we come to thee,
O Lady of Mount Carmel.
For those who neglect to pray, etc.
For those who are in their agony,
For those who delay their conversion,
For those suffering in Purgatory,
For those who know thee not,

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.

V. Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Hope of the Despairing,
R. Intercede for us with thy Divine Son.

Let Us Pray.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, glorious Queen of Angels, channel of God's tenderest mercy to man, refuge and advocate of sinners, with confidence I prostrate myself before thee, beseeching thee to obtain for me [Mention request silently]. In return I solemnly promise to have recourse to thee in all my trials, sufferings and temptations, and I shall do all in my power to induce others to love and reverence thee and to invoke thee in all their needs. I thank thee for the numberless blessings which I have received from thy mercy and powerful intercession. Continue to be my shield in danger, my guide in life, and my consolation at the hour of death. Amen.



Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us, for the souls in purgatory and for all Carmelites

Friday, 15 July 2016

Thursday, 14 July 2016

The Feast of Saint Bonaventure

Grant, we pray, almighty God, that, just as we celebrate the heavenly birthday of the Bishop Saint Bonaventure, we may benefit from his great learning and constantly imitate the ardor of his charity. 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.


Saint Bonaventure, pray for us, for all Franciscans and for theologians.

The Telegraph: Europeans are intensely emotional about free movement. They won't give it up easily

The Telegraph: Europeans are intensely emotional about free movement. They won't give it up easily

by Peter Foster

"For millions of Europeans the principle of free movement and the Schengen zone is not abstract, or negative, it is the very oxygen of the Union, a very physical incarnation of its political and philosophical raison d’etre.

Every day 1.7m workers cross borders in Europe to go to work, they speak each other’s languages and far more than us, mix, marry and meld across a single landmass. Put another way, free movement is an emotional issue for them, as it is a negative one for many Brits.

So when it comes to accessing the single market, the quid pro quos that Europe will demand for offering a post-EU Britain the right to curb such a fundamental principle will surely reflect that."

Still a Tory

I haven't left the Conservative Party and joined the Liberal Democrats and probably won't. I really like the One-Nation Tory message that Theresa May is putting across. I am also delighted that Amber Rudd has been appointed as home secretary. As well as being a passionate voice on the Remain side in the referendum, Amber Rudd is my parents' local MP.

Seeing all those familiar names getting promoted or sacked reminded me of just how deep my attachment is to the Tory Party. The old tribal loyalties were awakened. Leaving the Tory Party would be like a football fan changing the team he supports.

Of course, I will be following the EU negotiations closely and I would be deeply concerned if restricting immigration became a priority over getting access to the single market.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

The Guardian: This post-Brexit chaos could consign Labour and the Tories to history

The Guardian: This post-Brexit chaos could consign Labour and the Tories to history

by Lucy Webster

"Both of our major parties should get it over with and split. Perhaps each will form two splinter groups: one moderate and one extreme. This would leave us in the new position of having four semi-major parties to choose from, and could perhaps usher in a new era of coalition government. People may even – at a stretch – feel better about democracy when they can cast votes for parties which more accurately reflect their views.

Another possibility looms, although it has perhaps become less likely with Theresa May’s victory over Andrea Leadsom. That is for the moderate wings of each existing party to band together, sweeping up the remnants of the Liberal Democrats, and form, if not a party, a modernist coalition – a broader SDP, if you will. As we leave the EU and become vulnerable to extremist views, this seems the preferable option if the new group can provide a buffer against such nastiness. Leaving the remains of the Labour and Tory parties to make the case for isolationism and radical economic views, this coalition could be the voice of progressivism and moderation. In the current climate, this is exactly what the country needs – although it is far from guaranteed to get it."

Isolating Russia?

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: Russian Orthodox Churches in Thailand



Shoes Off at the Door, Please: Russian Orthodox Churches in Thailand: Russian Orthodox Church in Bangkok, Thailand Russian expatriates have colonized parts of Thailand in the same way that British expatria...

Montenegro Joins NATO



Congratulations to our friends and allies in Montenegro.

The Feast of Saint Henry



O God, whose abundant grace prepared Saint Henry to be raised by you in a wonderful way from the cares of earthly rule to heavenly realms, grant, we pray, through his intercession, that amid the uncertainties of this world we may hasten towards you with minds made pure. 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.


Saint Henry, pray for us, for all kings and queens and for all Benedictine Oblates

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

US Navy in the Black Sea

Monday, 11 July 2016

Vladimir Putin's Path to Ukraine, by Malcolm Stone



I was expecting that this 'book' might offer some interesting critical analysis of Putin's strategy. It turned out that this was simply an article that offered a short biography of Putin, followed by a summary of events that everyone who reads the newspaper will be aware of. I'm not sure who this was aimed at; those who are unaware of these events probably won't be interested enough to read it and those who are aware of them would surely be wanting a bit more analysis and critical insight.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

The Feast of Saint Benedict



O God, who made the Abbot Saint Benedict an outstanding master in the school of divine service, grant, we pray, that, putting nothing before love of you, we may hasten with a loving heart in the way of your commands. 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.



O exalted Father St. Benedict, guide and patriarch of the monastic life, thou art the hope and consolation of all who cry to thee from their inmost heart. To thy holy patronage I humbly recommend myself. To thee do I pray, to thee do I cry, O benign Father, O sweetest Master! With the utmost fervor of my heart, and with the vehement desires of my soul, I supplicate thee: graciously intercede with God for me, a poor sinner, that He may mercifully grant the forgiveness of my sins and perseverance in good. O loving Father, I most ardently beseech thee, never permit me to be separated from God, but pray that I may attain to the communion of saints, to the happy vision of my Lord, that with thee and the numerous choirs of they spiritual sons and daughters, I may rejoice forever and ever. This grant me, O Lord Jesus Christ, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, forever and ever. Amen.



The Litany of Saint Benedict

Lord, have mercy on us,
Christ, have mercy on us.
God the Father of Heaven,
Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Spirit,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God,
Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary,
Pray for us.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us.
Holy Virgin of virgins, etc.
Holy Father, Saint Benedict,
Father most reverend,
Father most renowned,
Father most compassionate,
Man of great fortitude,
Man of venerable life,
Man of the most holy conversation,
True servant of God,
Light of devotion,
Light of prayer,
Light of contemplation,
Star of the world,
Best master of an austere life,
Leader of the holy warfare,
Leader and chief of monks,
Master of those who die to the world,
Protector of those who cry to thee,
Wonderful worker of miracles,
Revealer of the secrets of the human heart,
Master of spiritual discipline,
Companion of the patriarchs,
Equal of the prophets,
Follower of the Apostles,
Teacher of Martyrs,
Father of many pontiffs,
Gem of abbots,
Glory of Confessors,
Imitator of anchorites,
Associate of virgins,
Colleague of all the Saints,
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.

V. Intercede for us, O holy father Saint Benedict,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let Us Pray.

O God, Who hast called us from the vanity of the world, and Who dost incite us to the reward of a heavenly vocation under the guidance of our holy patriarch and founder, Saint Benedict, inspire and purify our hearts and pour forth on us Thy grace, whereby we may persevere in Thee. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. R. Amen.


Saint Benedict, pray for us, for Europe and for all monks and nuns.

Ukraine Conflict 10th July

National Review: Let’s Debate the Iraq War. Let’s Not Rewrite History

National Review: Let’s Debate the Iraq War. Let’s Not Rewrite History

by David Harsanyi

"Well, for starters, Saddam didn’t kill terrorists, he killed those who threatened his power, which sometimes happened to include those we might deem terrorists. Whether it was the Sunni or Kurdish or Shiite theocrats, his goal was to consolidate power. No, he didn’t read them their rights or talk. He gassed civilians (“a little,” according to Trump) and tortured and raped the families of his enemies during his Stalinist purges. At the time, there was an underlying moral argument for changing the lives of victims, and with it the trajectory of the Middle East. It failed.

It’s one thing to argue that allowing Saddam to stay may have helped counterbalance Iran or save Christians or avert a Syrian civil war. It’s something else to perpetuate the fiction that he did not export terrorism. If Iraq wasn’t Harvard for terrorists it was surely a safety school for top-notch extremists. Not only did Saddam aid and shelter the murderers of American citizens, but the United States designated Iraq a terror state for providing bases to a number of violent organizations."

The Economist: A points system would not reconcile Britons to immigration

The Economist: A points system would not reconcile Britons to immigration

Unfortunately, a points-based system for skilled workers would not reconcile Britons to immigration. It would make no difference to the numbers of two unpopular types of migrant—spouses from rural Pakistan and refugees. By design, it would not cover the sort of immigrant who trims cabbages for a living, and is blamed both for suppressing working-class wages and for cluttering doctors’ offices. If Britain leaves the European Economic Area, it could bar all unskilled workers. But that is improbable: a quarter of security guards and two-fifths of people working in food processing are immigrants.

Britain’s problem is not that it has a bad system for choosing skilled immigrants. It is that it routinely lapses into thinking that all immigrants are the same. Politicians set crude targets that include everybody. Amid the hosannas for Australia, Britons seem to have forgotten that their own government created a points-based immigration system in 2008. It was demolished by a politician who was trying to suppress all immigration, in a vain attempt to bring the net number below 100,000 a year. That politician was Theresa May—the front-runner to be Britain’s next prime minister.


Skilled immigrants who get lots of points are not necessarily the migrants our economy needs. The Polish guys who washed your car for less than ten quid yesterday; how many points would they need to get into this country? Remember the days when you had to have your car washed by a machine? Assistants in care homes would probably not be able to get many points. Would we be prepared to see care homes close for lack of staff?


The Telegraph: Talks about forming new “pro EU centrist party” reported at Westminster

The Telegraph: Talks about forming new “pro EU centrist party” reported at Westminster


Informal discussions have been held between Labour and Tory MPs over the prospects of forming a new centrist party, it was reported last night.

Labour MPs opposed to Jeremy Corbyn could join forces with Tories at Westminster who would desert the party if Andrea Leadsom won the leadership.

“A number of my colleagues would not feel comfortable in a party led by Andrea Leadsom,” an anonymous Tory minster told the Observer.

Links between pro-Europeans in both parties were forged during the EU referendum campaign.


I would definitely join. The referendum has thrown all the alignments of British politics into confusion. During the campaign I worked with Labour and Liberal Democrats campaigning for Remain. I began to feel I had more in common with them than I had with other Conservatives.

Love Demands Commitment

Saturday, 9 July 2016

NATO Ballistic Missile Defence: The Way Forward

Ipswich Star: Racism against Eastern European migrants is just vile – we should be thankful for what they do, says Ipswich MP Ben Gummer

Ipswich Star: Racism against Eastern European migrants is just vile – we should be thankful for what they do, says Ipswich MP Ben Gummer


That is why politicians should be so very careful in how they use words: by using language carelessly, by stoking fear of migrants, they can seem to permit something that is rightly impermissible.

Do not imagine that this is a sentiment reserved for bovine thugs: it exists behind many polite doors and neat gardens in our own town. Time and again I heard “I’m not a racist but…”, beginning a sentence that revealed a fear of foreigners and a wish to see them gone.

Most carefully, people express concerns about school class sizes and GP waiting lists. These concerns might be legitimate but they are rightly levelled at us politicians, not at the migrants on whom these problems in public services are so often blamed.

After all, the average EU migrant is more likely to be in work, paying taxes, than us Brits, helping to build – both in money and in labour – the classrooms all of our children need. And those GP queues? They are more the result of British people getting older – not young fit Lithuanian men, who rarely need a doctor.


Wonderful bold words. I wish more politicians had the courage to confront anti-immigrant views.

Friday, 8 July 2016

The Telegraph: Why can't we stop this Tory leadership charade and crown Theresa May already?

The Telegraph: Why can't we stop this Tory leadership charade and crown Theresa May already?

by Harry de Quetteville

If we do follow that route and the public takes on more and more of the decision making, the result will be this: many people will tune out of a conversation that doesn’t interest them, so participation will actually be smaller; as a result, the hardcore who remain will be engage in a fiercer, shriller debate, that necessarily tends away from the centre to the extreme. Political identity will become fundamentally personal, political disagreement effectively become a form of personal abuse. And, as America has shown, that way lies profound political deadlock and dysfunction.

People talk about a need to rebuild trust in our politics, and in our democracy. But we need politicians to assume responsibility, not pass the buck, so that they can be held accountable - rather than claim to be blameless and pretend, somehow, that they have deferred to "the people”.

Otherwise we suffer politics by charade. It is true that we need to rebuild trust in our democracy. But this is not to be done by holding lots more referendums, or outsourcing lots more decisions to “the membership”. We need to rebuild public faith in one thing only, the great, substantial idea of representative democracy.


The office of prime minister is about to be decided by 0.2 % of the population, chiefly ladies in their seventies, spotty, socially awkward Tory students, retired colonels, cantankerous councilors, plus a handful of people like me, who are almost normal.

Who is Hostile?

Postmillennialism: Islam is Dying

Postmillennialism: Islam is Dying

The decline of the birth rate is visible in many Muslim countries, including Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia and Turkey. Muslim birth rate decrease in Iran is one of the greatest records in history. There are many more Muslim countries with a birth rate decrease of 60% or more: Albania, Algeria, Bangladesh, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates. A Muslim woman has today 2.6 less babies than her mother, which is a faster decline than worldwide average.

Extrapolation of the statistics show that Muslim growth rate will go down. A stable population needs a birth rate of 2.1 children. That means that the Muslim population will decrease both relative and absolute. It also means that it is the main reason that Islam is a fast dying religion. Unlike Christianity, Islam is not able to grow much by conversion, see next paragraph.

It's good to see a conservative Evangelical site like this one acknowledging the often missed point that the global Muslim birthrate is declining. A lot of Christian sites spout the myth that Muslims will take over the west through having a supposedly higher birthrate.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

ConservativeHome: Chilcot is a warning against irresponsible intervention, not a commandment never to intervene ever again

ConservativeHome: Chilcot is a warning against irresponsible intervention, not a commandment never to intervene ever again

by Mark Wallace


"Chilcot did his job, but I confess I’m worried about the consequences. His report is a justification for those who argued intervention in Iraq was unwise and unmanageable, but it will also be used as a justification by those who argue every intervention, anywhere, ever, is a bad idea.

The two groups overlap but aren’t identical. Anyone who thinks Jeremy Corbyn opposed Iraq because of the specific circumstances has missed the fact he spent his career arguing against any measures against anyone whom he felt to be an “anti-imperialist”, which translates into honest English as anti-American. He is the proverbial stopped clock – just because he turned out to be right on Iraq should not disguise the fact he was horribly wrong many other times, such as in his opposition to action in Kosovo.

In the flood of Chilcot reporting, that fact is in danger of being missed. The report should teach us to be more sceptical, more cautious, more questioning and more insistent on proper consideration of – and preparation for – the consequences of intervention abroad. It should not be treated as a graven tablet instructing us never to try to help anyone, anywhere, ever again. We must choose whether we think Iraq is a lesson about the quality of an intervention, or about the wisdom of all intervention."

UK Forces in NATO

The Guardian: I’d still vote to go to war in Iraq

The Guardian: I’d still vote to go to war in Iraq

by Ann Clwyd

"Parliament voted for military intervention to do the right thing – by Iraq, the region and the wider international community. That does not mean there are easy answers to the threats posed by crazed bloodthirsty dictatorial regimes. The aftermath of the Iraq intervention is held up by some as a case in point.

I am very sad about the lives lost since the intervention – whether they be British, American or Iraqi. It should be remembered, however, that other courses of action have not proved straightforward either – just look at Libya and Syria. Military intervention undoubtedly has considerable costs – but so too does nonintervention.

So would I have still voted in Parliament in 2003 to support military action in Iraq – with the benefit of hindsight and in light of the Chilcot report? Yes. No one will ever be able to convince me that the world is not better off without Saddam Hussein and his Baathist regime in power."

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

New Atlanticist: NATO Should Stand Up Black Sea Command Before It’s Too Late

New Atlanticist: NATO Should Stand Up Black Sea Command Before It’s Too Late

by Ariel Cohen

"At its summit in Warsaw on July 8 and 9, NATO should take urgent steps to protect its allies and partners on its southeastern flank. Bulgaria, Romania, and Turkey, as well as Ukraine and Georgia, are all under severe pressure from Russia and require NATO assistance.

Stephen Blank has urged NATO to pay more attention to the Black Sea at the Warsaw Summit, and he is correct. But, he doesn't go far enough. The Alliance must focus on a range of actions to address Russia’s rapidly escalating offensive posture in the Black Sea and protect its allies—including reinforcing air, naval, and ground assets; improving space capabilities; cyber security; reconnaissance; intelligence; and creating credible deterrence strategies."

The Telegraph: Tony Blair did not bewitch us into backing war in Iraq. We let him do it

The Telegraph: Tony Blair did not bewitch us into backing war in Iraq. We let him do it

by James Kirkup

First, a personal one. I supported the decision to invade Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein. I still do. That’s not, of course, the same thing as saying that I believe the post-war planning was properly conceived or implemented or an endorsement of the many other mistakes made by those who planned and implemented that invasion.

But the basic decision to use military force to remove from power a man who had overseen a regime of unspeakable barbarity and cruelty remains, in my view, the right one. And I mean morally right. The failure to implement that choice competently does not, for me, change that basic moral conclusion.


Excellent article. It largely captures what I think about the Iraq War.

Kyle W. Orton: Donald Trump is Wrong (Again): Saddam Hussein Supported Terrorism

Kyle W. Orton: Donald Trump is Wrong (Again): Saddam Hussein Supported Terrorism

"The argument that IS would not exist had Saddam’s regime remained in place is as hypothetical as its counter-thesis that Saddam’s regime had ensured that something like IS would follow it. But, it is untrue that al-Qaeda and IS were not in Iraq before Saddam fell: Ansar al-Islam was an al-Qaeda group and had a proto-statelet in operation that is a direct predecessor to IS. Among those who had joined Ansar before the regime fell were Umar Hadid, Zarqawi’s deputy in Fallujah in 2004 who seems to have absorbed Saddam’s Faith Campaign rather too well, finding he could take Salafism without Saddamism, and Abd al-Rahman al-Qaduli (Abu Ali al-Anbari), the caliph’s recently-deceased deputy. IS’s forerunner group, Jund al-Sham (created in 1999), and its founder, Zarqawi, were in Iraq when Saddam was in control. It is also untrue that Saddam kept a lid on sectarian antagonisms: he had exacerbated them with his deportations of Shi’is during the Iran-Iraq War, his unmerciful repression of the Shi’a in 1991, and his heavy-handed treatment ever afterwards."

CNN: ISIS disregards anything Muslims deem sacred

CNN: ISIS disregards anything Muslims deem sacred

by Hassan Hassan

"ISIS' reluctance to claim responsibility for attacks in Istanbul and Medina presumably because they are predominantly Sunni cities, contrast with its rush to endorse the attacks against foreigners and Shia in Dhaka and Baghdad. But in the region, few doubt the group's responsibility.

Nothing is out of bounds for ISIS, including the holiest of Islam's sites during Islam's holiest days, even if there are multiple traditions that explicitly prohibit such acts, such as a saying by Mohammed: "Whoever terrorizes the people of Medina will be cursed by God."
Aside from blood-soaked Ramadan, ISIS built its narrative around the idea of Sunni victimization. But it has declared those who refuse to pledge allegiance to it as murtadeen -- those who become apostates.
Its punishment for Sunni apostates is more severe, such as the burning alive of the Jordanian pilot, Moath al-Kasasbeh, in January last year. This is reality felt on a daily basis, when people living under ISIS see severed heads and dead bodies left to rot for days because victims dared to oppose its rule."

Labourlist: Labour could campaign against Brexit – but it must also come up with a plan to tackle the scourge of austerity

Labourlist: Labour could campaign against Brexit – but it must also come up with a plan to tackle the scourge of austerity

by Cat Overton

"The premise of my argument is really that Brexit would be an unmitigated disaster for our country and as things stand there is insufficient democratic legitimacy to justify it.

I agree with Ken Clarke MP and others that, as a matter of constitutional law and logic, the referendum is by its very nature “non-binding” and “advisory” only. It does not have the power of law to demand the Commons to take any particular action. It is for Parliament to decide how to proceed. Indeed, separately, I see no reason – in theory at least – as to why there could not be a second referendum.

So it is incumbent upon the Labour Party to campaign, in the national interest, against Brexit. It is, after all, our official foreign policy that we are in favour of the UK’s membership of the EU. Indeed, staying inside the EU may be the only hope of preventing the very breakup of the United Kingdom itself. David Lammy (Tottenham), Catherine West (Hornsey and Wood Green) and Daniel Zeichner (Cambridge) have each explicitly stated that they will vote against any measure in Parliament designed to facilitate the UK leaving the European Union, including, as I understand it, the triggering of Article 50. Clive Lewis MP, a close ally of Corbyn, has said he believes a second referendum would be required in respect of any post-Article 50 exit package."

On the Way to the Aegean

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

The Feast of Saint Maria Goretti



O God, author of innocence and lover of chastity, who bestowed the grace of martyrdom on your handmaid, the Virgin Saint Maria Goretti, in her youth, grant, we pray, through her intercession, that, as you gave her a crown for her steadfastness, so we, too, may be firm in obeying your commandments. 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.



Litany of Saint Maria

Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us
Lord have mercy on us, Christ hear us Christ graciously hear us
God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us
God the Son, Redeemer of the World, have mercy on us
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us
Holy Mary, pray for us
Holy Mary, Queen of Virgins, pray for us
Holy Mary, Queen of martyrs, pray for us
Saint Maria Goretti, etc.
St. Maria, Martyr of Purity,
St. Maria, Lily of the Marshes,
St. Maria, pure of heart,
St. Maria, child of Mary,
St. Maria, whose shield was the Most Holy Rosary,
St. Maria, most obedient,
St. Maria, most faithful,
St. Maria, most zealous observer of modesty,
St. Maria, mirror of patience,
St. Maria, lover of Holy Poverty,
St. Maria, ever burning for the Eucharistic Christ,
St. Maria, resplendent with humility,
St. Maria, most holy daughter,
St. Maria, most saintly sister,
St. Maria model for all youth,
St. Maria, patron of girls,
St. Maria, patron of Saint Maria's Messenger,
St. Maria, guardian of virgins,
St. Maria, holy and innocent virgin,
St. Maria, exclaiming "It is a sin! God does not want it!",
St. Maria, exclaiming "May God forgive him as I have already forgiven him!",
St. Maria, whose motto was, "I would rather die than commit a mortal sin.",
Saint Maria Goretti, make us pure
Through your most brutal death, make us pure
Through your life of poverty, make us pure
Through the tears and anguish of domestic life, etc.
Through the love you bore Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament,
Through the care and zeal with which you honored Mary,
Through your prompt forgiveness of your murderer,
Through the tenderness of your heart toward your siblings,
Through the obedience and fidelity you showed your mother,
Through the unwavering patience you gave to your neighbors,
Through the prayers and honor you gave your father even after death,
Through the love and protection you show us here on earth,
Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, Spare us O Lord
Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord
Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us
Pray for us O Holy Saint Maria Goretti, That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ

Let Us Pray
O God, who has exalted blessed Maria, thy virgin, in the glory of Thy Saints, grant that, as we rejoice in her commemoration, so may we profit by the example of her virtues; especially those of purity and chastity. Through Christ Our Lord. R. Amen.



Saint Maria Goretti, pray for us, for the victims of sexual violence and for all young people.