Whatever curious and interesting subject strikes my fancy, be it silly or serious, gets posted for your reading pleasure.

Friday, 20 April 2018

COMING SOON! Vocation of a Gadfly


Coming soon!  The sequel to Brushstrokes of a Gadfly....



After the night of the horrific accident, everyone's lives have been turned upside down. 


With his brother in a coma and his inexperienced little sister asked to take her place at Reinold International Shipping Enterprises, Monsignor Peter Reinold is granted rare permission from the archbishop to do the unorthodox and temporarily return to his former executive life in the world to help the family through this tragic time. For charity's sake he agrees to keep things running until she finds her feet, ever wary of the dangerous surroundings he is about to enter, for an old flame is only waiting for such an opportunity and will do everything to snare him back.


Faced with smouldering temptations, Peter soon finds another battle lies in store when an unusual case is brought before him that requires his rare spiritual expertise. A gravely ill young woman is in dire need of assistance. Doctors are at a loss, nursing staff are terrified. Her legal guardians turn to him as their last hope, it is now up to him. Armed only with his faith, prayer and his exorcism weapons, Peter dares to defy an ancient enemy only to discover an inferno prepared to destroyed him.


Will he and those around him survive the ordeal?

Find out in...





Vocation of a Gadfly

Coming soon!




Saturday, 10 March 2018

St. Patrick and His Blessed Crozier




Exactly where did St. Patrick come from? Scotland, England, Wales and also Ireland have been proposed as the birthplace and homeland of the Emerald Isle's most beloved national saint, but the most likely of all contenders for St. Patrick's birthplace is France, and his childhood home, Brittany.  Ancient accounts suggest it is from here he received his blessed crozier, An Bachall Iosa, or the Staff of Jesus.


First, you may well ask ~ how do you know for certain St. Patrick was a Frenchman?

(Well, he was of Roman lineage with possibly some Hungarian in the mix, but we'll get into that!)


Among the books in our home is an old treasure entitled “The Life of Saint Patrick, Apostle of Ireland” published by John Murphy in 1863. Although an old source, Murphy lays out his argument in favour of France, and I for one find it very convincing, although trying to figure out what he was trying to say in his old academic way was a challenge! However, here is a concise account of Murphy's study.



Starting with St. Patrick's own account, we find the saint gave very few details about his life, but revealed he came from a respectable family. His father was called Calphurnius, and his grandfather was Potitus, (or Otide), and they both took holy orders. After the birth of his children, Potitus became a priest.   I may have missed this detail, but apparently Murphy's history of St. Patrick does not say how this came about.  Either Potitus was a widower, or he and his wife may have separated upon his decision to enter the priesthood: in the ancient days it was possible for a man to become a priest if he decided to separate from his wife with her consent.  Calphurnius became a deacon.  Both their names denote their Roman heritage.


St. Patrick's mother, Conchessa, apparently came from respectable Roman stock as well: she was the niece of St. Martin of Tours who was born in what is now Hungary, the son of a Roman solider who was destined to become a bishop.  Yes, the same St. Martin that cut his cloak in half and gave the other half to a beggar only to discover in a vision he had given it to Christ.


As we can see, St. Patrick hailed from a very pious family, one with a famous saintly member associated with Tours, France, and from hence we start our journey of discovery. 


Murphy highlights the importance of Tours in St. Patrick's family history, together with an analysis of the ancient Irish hymn written by one of the the saint's disciples, St. Fiech, first bishop of Sletty and afterwards the archbishop of Leinster. St. Fiech was a young poet under the tutelage of Dubtach, the poet-bard of the High King of Ireland. After the famous night when St. Patrick defied the royal decree and lit his holy fire across from the royal seat of Tara, St. Fiech was converted along with the rest of the King's court by the holy missionary's preaching.  In his ancient hymn, St. Fiech declares St. Patrick was actually born at 'nemThur', the Old Irish meaning 'Holy Tours'. Being his disciple, St. Fiech obviously heard this information from the man himself, and therefore Murphy declares in his book that Fiech's hymn is very convincing evidence indeed. St. Patrick was born in Tours, France.


As to St. Patrick's family home existing in Brittany, Murphy directs our attention to an early writer named Probus, who apparently lived in the 6th century according to Bollandus. Probus writes:


St. Patrick was a Briton, of the village of Banava, in the district of Tyburnia, adjacent to the the Western Ocean, which village we undoubtedly find to have been in the province of Neutria (Nuestria), which giants are represented to have formerly inhabited.”


It is easy to see why many historians think St. Patrick came from British Isles since 'Briton' means a native or inhabitant of Great Britain, and was also the name of the people in Southern Britain during Roman times, however....


'Briton' is also the ancient spelling of 'Breton', or a native of Brittany. That region of France received its name from the tribe of Britons who escaped the marauding hoards of Saxons ravaging Britain during the 5th and 6th centuries. Murphy notes that Brittany was one referred to as 'Little Britain' among the early writers because of its ancient British ancestors, hence it is easy to confuse.


Considering St. Patrick's Roman roots and the family connection to Tours, Brittany seems the more likely of the two. Murphy continues the connection to Brittany through the original Old Irish wording of St. St. Fiech's hymn relating St. Patrick's escape from slavery and his subsequent period of theological study:


Patrick stayed in the “Andeas an deiscort leatha / An-innsigh mara toirrian” …

Murphy declares this should be translated to:

Southward of the southenmost part of Letavia / In the islands of the Touronian sea”.


He points out that ancient scholars mistranslated the Old Irish words 'leatha' (also 'lethu' in verse IX), mistaking it for Italy, when Letavia is the correct translation, which in the Middle Ages was known as 'Amoric Gaul', aka the northwest of France.  Another mistake was made regarding the islands of the sea: “toirrian” into “Touronian” does sound more accurate than the Latin translation of the hymn “In insulis maris Tyrrheni”, the “In the islands of the Tyrrhenian” Sea.

Hence, Murphy shows that Probus had used the incorrect Latin translation of 'Tyrrhenian' and not the Irish wording in his chronicle of the saint, which makes quite a big difference:


The Western Ocean (…) is in another part (of Probus' work) called the Tyrrhenian, which designates, beyond all doubt, the Turonian Sea, at the mouth of the Loire, and opposite the country inhabited by the Turones, or, as now denominated, the people of Turaine, whose capital, Tours, was a great city, even in the times of the Romans, but more celebrated afterwards for being the residence of St. Martin, St. Gregory, and a multiplicity of other illustrious men.” (Murphy, p. 43)


Therefore, if Murphy's analysis of a misunderstanding regarding Tyrrhenian for 'Turonian' in the ancient text is correct, St. Patrick lived in the district that lay next to the Turonian Sea, which would be Brittany. It would make sense that Patrick's family stayed somewhere near Tours if he was born there, and Brittany certainly qualifies.   


Notice the ancient map of France below dating from the 1600s - Tours is listed as "Turonia" (under the 'Celtica' region to the top left).  It is situated on the 'Ligeris' or Loire River which flows through Nantes, Brittany into the Atlantic.






Is there any trace of his childhood home left? St. Patrick himself said in his Confession that his family owned an estate called "Bannavem Tiburniae".


Looking at the second word, Murphy notes that 'Tiburniae' refers to the ancient Roman usages of 'Tabernae' referring to Roman encampments dating from the time of Caesar's invasion of Gaul, the word also referring to 'taberna', or the temporary shelter formed of wooden matierals. So, this would point an ancient Roman settlement, and of course, St. Patrick's family had Roman roots.   In recent times Rev. Marcus Losack has presented an intriguing theory as reported by Sarah McDonald in the "Irish Times" (Oct 28, 2013):


Marcus Losack argues that Château de Bonaban in Brittany is Bannavem Tiburniae. The site on which Château de Bonaban was built reportedly contains remains that date from the Roman era. These remains were discovered in the basement of the château in the 1870s but unfortunately they have since been lost through renovations. Rev Losack hopes an archaeological dig can take place that may reveal other evidence of a Roman settlement and possibly provide confirmation for his theory of St Patrick’s origins.


 He is currently in negotiation with the new owners of the château to see if this  is possible."






Backtracking a bit, in clarifying of the meaning of the 'Tyrrhenian Ocean' to be a misspelling of the 'Turonian Sea' and its location, plus finding a quote from a French source regarding St. Martin of Tours and his famous monastery, Murphy discovered and corrected a grievous error regarding the location where St. Patrick's received a portion of his theological training, by explaining how the word 'inch' was used among the ancient Irish:


To the natives of Ireland and Scotland it is well known that an isle in the sea, an islet in the loughs, lakes and rivers, a dry hillock in a morass, nay, sometimes a place nearly though not altogether surrounded by water, is, in Irish and Erse, an 'inch'. Islands of this sort were, in the primitive ages of Christianity highly sought for after for a contemplative retreat, by pious monk and ascetics. (…) In the isles of the Amoric Sea (i.e. the ocean next to Brittany), too, there are many such edifices. Nay, along the meandering banks of and torturous mazes of the fertilizing Loire, from Orleans, through Touraine, a district emphatically styled by geographers the garden of France, till it empties itself into the Turonian or Amoric Sea, many of the primitive saints of Gaul (France) built their cells and monasteries for religious contemplation. Among those (…) was out saint's uncle, Martin of Tours. This great Apostle, whose pious labours achieved the conversion of the western parts of Gaul from Gentilism to Christianity, and was originally 'the son of Roman Tribune, born in the year 316, (…) in the west of Hungary, was first compelled to embrace the profession of a soldier, though he always always showed a particular predilection for a retired life: from this , however, he was necessitated to withdraw in 374 AD, on being elected Bishop of Tours (…) . In order, however, to have less converse with the world, he built near the city of Tours, between the Loire and a sharp rock, the celebrated monastery of Marmoutier, which still exits, and is considered the most ancient abbey of France.' In this 'inch' (island) it was, and in some other 'inches' in the Turonian, and not in the Tyrrhenninan or Mediterranean islands, that St. Patrick fixed his residence for studying divinity (…) under St. Martin, and other holy masters after that saint's death.” ~ (Murphy, pp. 47-48. Murphy's French source in italics about Marmoutier, Il Morut a Candes, November 400.)


Of course, this makes sense: St. Patrick with his respectable family connections with the Church would most likely have stayed near Tours, not to mention Tours was also blessed with the leadership of St. Germanus, who was also bishop of Tours, who according to accounts was also St. Patrick's tutor. In the middle of the 9th century, Eric of Auxerre wrote about the life of St. Germanus and declared that he “considers it the highest honour of that prelate to have been the instructor of St. Patrick”, adding that he remained under St. Germanus' tutelage for eighteen years, who then recommended him to Pope Celestine who gave him the mission to evangelise Ireland. St. Fiech's ancient hymn also mentions St. Patrick studied under St. Germanus before heavenly visions alerted Patrick of God's plan to send him to Ireland. (Image: St. Germanus teaching St. Patrick, stained glass window in in the Lady Chapel of Gloucester Cathedral.)


Futhermore, if Murphy's book is correct, then Patrick did not receive his famous crozier called Jesus's Staff in the Tyrrhenninan or a Mediterranean island as some historians continue to suggest to this day, but on the secluded 'inches' of the Turonian sea: he received his staff in Brittany.


After his stay in Rome, St. Patrick returned to the 'island', or rather, an 'inch' in the Turonian Sea and stayed among the barefooted hermits there according to Murphy's study of the sources. Sacred legend and history blend at this point. Some writers say Christ appeared and gave the staff to St. Patrick, other accounts relate a hermit on the island names Justus received the visitation from Christ and was ordered to bring the staff to St. Patrick. Other ancient chroniclers write its origin is uncertain, but St. Bernard declares it was covered in gold and precious gems. From sacred history and Tradition we learn St. Patrick carried out his duties as missionary bishop with it, and also not a few wonders, such as casting all the demons out of Ireland via the snakes, also, impaling a convert! (Read about that story here. Ouch!) According to tradition, the staff along with the Gospel text used by St. Patrick were transferred from Armagh to Christ-Church, Dublin. History says  oaths and treaties were signed on it.  During legal disputes and like contentions, to solve the issue the people would utter an oath on the Staff.  Apprently, no one would dare utter a false testimony while swearing by the power of the Staff, for it was believed if someone committed perjury in making their oath, great plagues would occur.   Sadly, the staff alleged to be St. Patrick's was burnt outside Christ-Church as a 'superstitious relic' a short time after the Reformation in 1538, its gold and gems confiscated.


In addition to all of Murphy's scholarship, there is another spiritual, mystical reason why I favour Brittany, France as St. Patrick's homeland and the site where he received the famous Bachall Iosa.


After Calvary, Brittany is the most blessed land chosen by God according to the approved mystic Marie-Julie Jahenny (1850-1941). Due to the Bretons' great devotion to the Faith, the Mother of God, and the Monarchy of France, Brittany will be spared most of the chastisements about to befall the earth before the Three Days of Darkness and it will become a place of sanctuary. Our Lady revealed to Marie-Julie Jahenny that since the time of Calvary she has not seen so many graces reserved for one place as for La Fraudais, Brittany. Therefore, Brittany shall in effect become a new Holy Land of grace as it will become home of the new Sanctuary of the Cross and the centre of Renewal regarding the One Holy Catholic Faith. France is destined to bring about the promised Age of Peace and the restoration of Christendom via the Reign of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts and this reign will continue until the End of Time.


No, I'm not surprised such a holy man as St. Patrick destined to become the Apostle of Ireland, blessed with many graces and the gift of miracles, and, who received the promise that Ireland would be spared the destruction by fire that would ravage the world but would fall into the sea instead, should come from the protected land of Brittany, the 'New Holy Land' chosen by the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary. (Learn more about Marie-Julie Jahenny and her prophecy of La Fraudais here.) 



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If you liked this St. Patrick's Day Post, check out my other ones ....

 








Thursday, 25 January 2018

IT's HERE! Brushstrokes of a Gadfly in PAPERBACK!

 
At long last, a PAPERBACK edition of Brushstrokes of a Gadfly is here!  A story brimming with art, thought-twisters, some slapstick comedy, and of course, romance. 

Entertaining and informative, it's a biting book you will love to hate, or hate to love, or perhaps love to love, or hate to hate. What will it be for you?








Extra! Extra!  Check out the NEW COVER!  

Paperback:  812 pages


ISBN:  978984231321

Size 6 x 9 inches

Width 1.8 inches 


Get your copy:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk





Katherine Walsingham, the only daughter of the CEO of Walsingham Industries, is an artist by calling and temperament, a lover of literature, a philosophical idealist and an animal rights activist unafraid to speak her mind. She also has a talent for leaping ahead with anything that seems like a good idea at the time, often landing in hot water with her sharp tongue and allegorical paintings to the amusement and consternation of everyone around her.


Setting her heart on opening her own gallery, life is good. She has no real worries that are usually the plague of struggling artists, but soon discovers wealth does not guarantee a smooth passage in life. Accomplishing her dream is not an easy task, and Katherine must quickly learn to balance art and business, demanding customers, brutal art critics and unexpected disappointments. With so much to do, romance is the last thing on her mind, and despite her best efforts to avoid any entanglements, has caught the eye of one of New York's most eligible bachelors. From her own reticence to become involved with anyone, to the dark rumours spread about his family, it is a relationship that seems doomed. Will Katherine be able to resist, allow love to blossom despite all the odds, or will his past history come to haunt them and keep them apart?

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FREE PREVIEWS!
* Quotes from "Brushstrokes of a Gadfly"
 

Review by Randall Radic on Blogcritics.org

According to Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, a gadfly is "an insect that goads or stings cattle, as a horsefly. A person who annoys or irritates others." Supposedly, the Greek philosopher Socrates was a gadfly because he irritated others by causing them to analyze their thought processes. Inevitably, analysis revealed errors of not only reasoning but conclusions – mental boo boos. Rather than rejoicing over their newfound enlightenment, people became upset. People don’t like being told they are wrong or stupid or illogical. So they began avoiding Socrates like the plague, along with talking about him behind his back, saying nasty things about him. But Socrates didn’t care. He considered it his duty to be an irritant, a gadfly. So he kept doing it. In the end, he annoyed so many people so much that they decided to do something about it. It wasn’t pleasant.
Jesus was a gadfly too.

So is the protagonist of Brushstrokes of a Gadfly, a wonderful, walloping novel by E.A. Bucchianeri. 

Katherine Walsingham is the star of Brushstrokes. She is beautiful, talented, intelligent, sensual, and comes from an affluent, well-bred family in New York City. Kat’s only flaw is that she enjoys stirring the pot. She doesn’t believe in going along to get along. Thus, she utilizes her art to cause viewers to re-evaluate their conclusions about religion, cultural traditions, nuclear power, women’s rights, government corruption, and the true definition of freedom. Naturally, Kat receives lots of attention, while at the same time annoying lots of people, people who prefer the status quo to remain stationary.


The pedantry of Katherine is obvious, as she tries to set the world to rights. What’s funny is that while Kat is busy being a gadfly, the pedantry of Life wiggles in and disrupts Kat’s vision for her future. Determined to eschew romantic entanglements because of their destabilizing effects, Kat unexpectedly finds herself falling in love with one of New York’s most eligible bachelors. Because of a peculiar combination of circumstances – Kat’s reluctance, her paramour’s family, and gossip – the romance appears headed for disappointment.

Whether or not Life and Love find a way won’t be discussed. You’ll have to read the book to find out.

Essentially, Brushstrokes is a high literary romance novel. Imagine Roberto Bolano meets Nicholas Sparks: erudite and gracious with a saccharine undertone of romance and the unpredictability of life. In other words, it’s exaggerated, quaint, absurd, funny, touching, and very much like reality.

E.A. Bucchianeri guides the reader through all the twists and turns of the story with remarkable aplomb, utilizing what the reviewer calls "an informed literary style." Translation: easy to read, yet without all the dreary flatness that inhabits most ‘high literary’ novels. The story sparkles with various subplots and unique characters – stories within the story – that provide diversion and respite from the primary thread of romantic tension.

 The reviewer’s favorite is Kat’s grandfather, who, having avoided the psychological pitfalls of great wealth, speaks from his heart, which he wears on his sleeve.

Brushstrokes of a Gadfly is a big book, weighing in at a couple of pounds .... Just looking at it makes a potential reader pause and consider. However, any doubts may be set aside. After the first two pages, you’ll be pleased with your purchase. It’s long, but it has everything you’re looking for: humor, love, human interrelations, good writing, a plot that moves along, and emotional catharsis.


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Get your copy:

Amazon.com   

Amazon.co.uk 
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Thursday, 4 January 2018

Beware the Enzymes!




My blog was originally intended to be silly and serious, I'm not sure where this next post will fit, maybe in the middle, but I think it's time to share a useful public service announcement: Beware the Enzymes – washing soap enzymes that is – they are in most cases DESTROYING your clothes.

Stuff like this drives me crazy! Companies come out with a “new and improved product” only to find it does more damage in the end.

Okay, what am I nattering on about you ask?

For decades now, washing soap companies have been adding enzymes to their detergents in order to get out the most difficult to wash dirt, like gravy, blood, grass stains, tomato sauce, wine, etc. All living things have protein in them, and since most problem-stains in our clothes come from 'living' or organic things, the enzymes, or 'biologically active ingredients', literally look for and eat up these biological, protein-based stains like Pac-Man on his dot-diet.


So, what's the problem? Have you wondered why your cotton or cotton blend T-shirts, sheets etc. are starting to feel thin and wispy? Or, if you have delicate skin and can't use regular washing soap because it makes you itch to death?



Any material that is natural also has protein in it.

Materials such as cotton, wool, silk, linen, come from organic / living sources, so the enzymes destroy that material too in the long run. It's like Pac-Man eating the game board as well as the dots.


Also, if your clothes are not rinsed out fully and the enzymes are still in your clothes, they will eat at your skin too and irritate it since your skin is also protein based. Itch, itch, itch!


Some more bad news, if you live in the country or rural area and rely on a septic tank system for sewage, the enzymes will destroy the good bacteria in your tank that is needed to break down the waste products. Why? Because bacteria are living things with protein. If you use enzyme based washing soaps, they will stop your tank from working properly and it will start to stink.

And to top it off, nearly every brand of washing soap has enzymes now!

ARRRGH! What's the good news?

If you live in a country like the UK or Ireland that has 'Non-Bio', (enzyme free) washing soap, that's what you have to use. Name brand companies provide “non-bio” detergent soap there for people with sensitive skin or have septic tanks.

However, that may not be an option in the USA, (I don't know, haven't checked the washing soap there in years since I live in Portugal now), but in Portugal, there aren't any 'non-bio' soap options for the general types of soap.


The next best thing is to buy soap specifically for delicate materials, wools, and / or sensitive skin, and use that for anything that has natural fibres like cotton, cotton blends, linen, etc. They usually don't have enzymes in them.


But …..A WORD of WARNING!

Woolite Original” seems to be okay, but still, CHECK THE LABEL.

 I have seen “enzymes” listed in THEIR OTHER COLOUR PRODUCTS, so don't be fooled by the “Woolite” name, not all of their products are enzyme free! Some "Woolite" products may be eating your woolies!


This is really nasty because you would think “Woolite for Black / Darks” and “Woolite for Colours” etc. would preserve delicate materials too, but they have enzymes in them! In Portugal, anyway.

Hmm, it would be interesting to find out if the textile industry was deeply invested in the soap companies. (Hey, a writer loves a good conspiracy theory!) Chairman X of “Acme Wool and Cotton” comes up with a plot to invent alien mutant soaps in order to destroy their own materials so the unsuspecting public has to keep buying more of their stuff! Mwah ha ha!


So, CHECK THE INGREDIENTS, washing soaps must list enzymes.

Look for delicate soaps that don't have enzymes.

Also, if you have a stinky septic tank and find it's not working like it should thanks to these stupid enzyme detergent soaps, stop using this destructive stuff and reverse the damage by flushing down the toilet rancid milk, old yoghurt, chicken giblets with no bones, etc. anything soft, bone-free and organic with bacteria that can be safely flushed into the 'sewage dump' of the tank to rot: this replenishes the good bacteria in your tank again so it can break down the sewage.


This concludes this public services announcement from “Books, Babble and Blarney”.

If you found this informative and helpful, please share, and I wish you all a Happy Enzyme-Free New Year!

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Fatima - A Botched Attempt at being a 'Real Pilgrim'!


Fatima, the 100th Anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun ~ Our pilgrimage did not go as planned, here's the story!

Many of my loyal followers are aware that I am now a blow-in local of this sacred place. After years of having the grace of living in Fatima and watching all the pilgrims walk in from all over for the major feast days of May and October 13th with blistered feet, coming as far away as the shrine of St. James in Santiago de Compostela, my mother and I looked at each other one year and said, “Gee, we only live a few kilometres outside the Sanctuary and right within the parish, and we haven't done “The Walk'? What's the matter with us?” 

Locals do it each May, so a few years ago my mother and I decided to be 'real pilgrims' and walk into Fatima. Getting our sun hats, pilgrim staffs, reflector jackets and getting all geared up, taking our time, not going too slow, or too fast, we started very early in the morning and made it within two hours, in plenty of time for the Rosary Procession and Mass. We did it! And we weren't too tuckered out! We were so chuffed with ourselves walking several miles in! However, when one of the locals heard of our accomplishment they said: “Two hours? From your village? Pfft! We can do it in one!”

What a balloon popper!

Never mind, we were so chuffed Mom wanted to do it again someday....

So of course, this year, the 100th Anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun, she was getting us all motivated to get up early and grab our pilgrim staffs again. The day before was so hot, no clouds in the sky, the vigil night was warm, so, we expected a great day to go walking, when lo and behold...

A wet, foggy morning like an October morning in Cork, Ireland greeted us! It was beautiful to see the mists settling in on the pine, holm oak and eucalyptus groves, blanketing the village and the surrounding hilly countryside, but brrrrr! What a switch from hot to cold! Well, we started out, and the fog got thicker....

“Ooogh! My arthritis, I can't walk! I'll never make it!”

We didn't make it past the village church.

“Oh no! Okay, you sit at the church, I'll walk back and get the car.”

Of course, now I turn 180º and start speed-walking back home...what pilgrims we are!

Our Blessed mother must have a sense of humour because a lady in the village was now at her front door smiled and wished me a 'good morning', but seeing me in my pilgrim gear, reflector jacket and staff in hand, she then looked utterly perplexed and didn't know what to say next. I could hear the wheels turning:

“Where's she off to? She's going the wrong way!”

Sigh! The story of my life! I just had to laugh, but I was so miffed. News travels fast in these little villages, and it would soon spread that the “Two Irlandeses never made it past the village.”

Humble pie. LOL!

I was so bummed out, I was looking forward to the walk, now, I was feeling like a failure as a 'real pilgrim'. I picked Mom up, and of course, she was disappointed too, but ever encouraging in her Unsinkable Molly Brown tone said:

“Nevermind, Our Lady knows our intentions, we got as far as the church, and because we wanted to go through with it, she'll carry us the rest of the way, don't worry.”

Of course, on top of 'Pilgrim Failure Syndrome', after picking Mom up I am getting a bit stressed- the one good thing about 'The Walk', you never have to worry about parking. But now...?

It's still early, almost 9 AM-ish, but not early enough before the parking spaces on such a big day as October 13th are all gone, especially for the 100th anniversary.  Expect them to be snapped up, vanished! 

However, I stepped on it a bit, there was still hope! Oh Angel of Parking, don't leave us down now! Sure enough, I got in just as the cops were getting ready to set up their traffic points, and I got the last space on the Little Shepherds roundabout, FREE parking IN town, and within walking distance Mom could handle. That's a miracle on a day like today!

“See? Our Lady and the Angel of Parking took care of us again.” 

So true, Mom.

Living in Fatima as a local, you would think it's easy to get in for the feast days -- nope. Not always. We learned the hard way one year in June 2007 when the traffic was INSANE and the National Guards had all the roads closed, we just had to turn away from Fatima. That was a sad day. However, since I've been praying to the Angel of Parking, he's never left us down for really important things like today.


 I owe the Angel of Parking so many candles, it's not funny!





(Images: the candles of Fatima.  You have to be careful!  The place gets so hot, the wax can suddenly blaze up and set them all on fire!  Sometimes instead of lighting your votive candle, you end up tossing it into the flames like a votive pyre!)















 
So, we made it it time for the Rosary and Mass, the Sanctuary with the fog as literally thick as potato soup . The TV cameras may have made it look lighter and brighter, but believe me, it must have been digital enhancement because as the statue of Our Lady was carried in procession from the Chapel of Apparitions to the main altar, the other side of the Sanctuary could barely be seen at times, the Holy Rosary basilica was disappearing in and out of a thick misty blanket!

Gradually, the sun came out until all the fog was burned off, by mid-day it was once again clear, bright, getting hot, and not a cloud in the sky. When the day turned out like this, it's hard to imagine the pours of rain the pilgrims walked through 100 years ago, but we've been here through storms like that here, and whew! After living ten years in Ireland we discovered the rain there can't hold a candle to what happens here at times, the Portuguese tropical downpours go sideways, and whirls with the wind, you can get soaked right up to the knees as the rain splashes up and soaks you through and through. Brollys aren't much of a help!

No worries about that today though. Mass was not overpacked like we expected, the plaza was full, but we've seen it more packed than it was today. We had enough space without feeling claustrophobic. However, the 'Cattle Drive for Communion' still took place, people not being reverential when going up to receive Communion, crushing you up against the rails, and then pushing you out of the way. Reverence seems to get tossed to the side, and this in the land where the Angel of Peace taught the Three Shepherd Children a prayer to atone for the sacrileges, outrages and indifference against the Blessed Sacrament! 


Were there any noticeable differences from the May 13th Mass of this year? Only that the pictures of the Two seers, Francisco and Jacinta were now taken down off the Basilica. We also got a live televised message from Pope Francis today, short, sweet, to the point, “Don't be afraid, say your Rosary and stick close to Our Lady!” Sadly, the 'Druid Monstrance' was still used for Benediction, and of course, the 'Brown Black Cube Altar' was still in use with that horrible excuse for a crucifix behind it.  You can read more about the May 13th 2017 celebrations by clicking here, pictures included:




However, it was a blessed thing to be on such sacred ground for the 100th Anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun. 

Afterwards, we sprinted for lunch, getting in just before the after-Mass rush, another blessing! If you're not booked into a hotel for the feast days, you have to scramble for a place to eat before they get chockablocked!

After a rather noisy lunch, (the Portuguese can get noisy like the Spanish!) we meandered on down the street, and bumped into a colourful pilgrim group from Africa: the ladies had specially printed royal blue dresses with images of Our Lady of Fatima complete with royal blue head dresses to match, they were just eye-catching, so we stopped and talked with them. Mom and I just love the print dresses from Africa, they are so colourful and we told the ladies their country should export these printed cottons! We would love them! The Portuguese seem to dress in dour colours a lot of the time. So, a chat started up, the ladies were from Gambia, and they were taught by good old fashion Irish nuns, and after telling us a little about themselves, they had a blast hearing Mom talk about her school day tales...it's wonderful. You get to meet so many people from all over the world in Fatima, and this is the first time we met a group from Gambia!

And so, out come my leaflets about the approved stigmatist and prophet Marie-Julie Jahenny, now another corner of the world will soon hear of her prophecies. God is good! You can find out more about her here:



Of course, we couldn't stay chatting and left the ladies join their pilgrim group while we went off for  coffee and a pastry, and enjoying the rest of the beautiful sunny afternoon, watching all the pilgrims coming to and from the Way of the Cross out in Aljustrel, the guards busy blowing their whistles and directing traffic around the roundabout and trying to keep the hoards of pilgrims from getting mowed down by the buses.

So, our 'true pilgrimage' on foot didn't quite go as planned, but we made it!

Deo Gratias!



Friday, 29 September 2017

The Feast Day of an Angelic Champion

September 29 is the feast day held in honour St. Michael, the Confessor of God's Infinite Divinity, and the Champion of Heaven and the Church.

I cannot let this time pass without another blog post in his honour, and he has never failed to answer one of my prayers!


As Tradition states, he received his name right after the creation of the angels when Lucifer rebelled against the Creator and declared himself to be like unto God. While the rebellious seraph-turned-devil was busy stirring up rebels for his cause, an Archangel came forward from the lower choirs, he was not even a seraph like Lucifer, or a blazing cherub. “Who is like unto God?” became his battle cry as he mustered the loyal angels. Together they drove out Lucifer renamed Satan and all the other evil rebels from Heaven.




As a reward, God raised up Michael - “Who is Like unto God”- and made him Prince over all the Angels, and as we know from Scripture and Tradition he is one of the Seven that stand before the Throne of the Almighty.


Tradition also holds that one of St. Michael's duties is to lead the souls of the recently departed to their Particular Judgement before God, and he has also been given the task of weighing every good and evil deed in the Eternal Scales to see if that soul is fit for Heaven or Hell. He himself confirmed this to the approved mystic Marie-Julie Jahenny (1850-1941) in addition to revelations about his other roles in Heaven: he also conducts the Angelic choirs and the angelic symphonies, so in fact, he is the Angel of Music when you think about it. He also revealed some other interesting details, Heaven has books and Rosaries!

You can find out more about that interesting apparition, click here: Conversation with St. Michael, Prince of the Angels

In another revelation to Marie-Julie Jahenny, he declared that after God, the power granted to him is very great, and that if we knew the extent of this power, we would not be slack in offering our prayers to him and asking for protection. (Hint hint!) No wonder! The demons never sleep, and we need all the protection we can get.

He also revealed to Marie-Julie other fantastic revelations about the future of France and the Church, which will affect the whole world: he will be there to protect the Great Catholic Monarch when he arrives to restore the absolute monarchy, and with his flaming sword will root out everything the Freemasons had tried to accomplish in their efforts to destroy both Church and monarchies, also warning of the chastisements that will take place before then as a warning. You can find more here: Revelations of St. Michael to Marie-Julie Jahenny.


There are some interesting theories about St. Michael being the Angel of Peace of Fatima, Portugal. After living in Portugal for many years now, I've discovered by talking to the locals that St. Michael was always traditionally venerated as the Guardian Angel of the country. One story I've heard is the miraculous apparition of the “red sword and wing” in the sky during the medieval period as the Christian soldiers were driving the Muslims out of the country, which led to the founding of “St. Michael's Order of the Wing” by the King of the time.


I've tried looking up details online, but nothing is appearing in English on this, however, since this comes from the mouth of monarchists whom I've met who belong to this chivalric Order, I'm going to assume it's true, eventhough I can't seem to find any dates connected with this apparition of the great red angelic wing and sword in the sky. This may have happened when the knights helped to retake the town of Santarém from the Moors on May 8, 1147. From a source I found it says a feast of St. Michael fell on this day, but sadly, no mention of any apparition! However, you will find St. Michael represented in many churches holding a shield with the emblem of Portugal, and of interest, the Red Wing is featured on the emblems of the revived order currently under the leadership of Dom Duarte, Duke of Braganza, pretender to the throne of Portugal.

 




Left: Cross of the Order of St. Michael of the Wing.

Right: Grand Cross of the Order


Notice the red wing in the emblems.








I cannot help but note this story of the Order's founding also has an interesting connection to the later visions of Fatima. Sr. Lucia says that in one of the visions she saw the Holy Father leading people to a great rugged cross through a destroyed city and a field of war with soldiers shooting and killing many in the procession. Overhead an angel appeared holding out his flaming sword ready to strike the earth, the flames of which were stopped by Our Lady's splendour, he then cried out “Penance! Penance! Penance!”, obviously a warning before the world is struck with great chastisements and wars, which seems very close to the warnings St. Michael gives to Marie-Julie Jahenny, who was shown his flaming sword:


I see that the battle will begin between Saint Michael and Hell, between good and evil.... Mary Immaculate watches over us, what have we to fear?” (Ecstasy date September 29, 1877).


There is an interesting story that has circulated stating that on the day the Angel of Peace gave the three children of Fatima Holy Communion, a consecrated Host and chalice went missing in a church while a festa was happening, (either the church was dedicated to St. Michael, or, the festa at the church that day was held in his honour, perhaps both! Forgive me for being fuzzy on the details). However, the chalice was later returned, but the Host was still missing. Some see this as confirmation St. Michael indeed is the Angel of Peace of Fatima.



(Site of the Apparition of the Angel of Peace where
 he brought the children Holy Communion in Aljustrel, Fatima, Portugal.)


Of course, there is another fascinating modern-day apparition of St. Michael, which allegedly happened during the Korean War, the story of which was spread after a letter written by a young Marine named Michael (of all things) to his mother in 1950 caught the attention of a Navy Chaplain, Fr. Walter Muddy, who tracked down the marine and verified the details of the letter, including the battle fought, etc. The chaplain then publicly read the letter aloud in 1951 before a crowd of 5,000 Marines at the Navla base in San Diego, California. Since then the letter has been published and spread like wildfire ever since:


Dear Mom,

I wouldn't dare write this letter to anyone but you because no one else would believe it. Maybe even you will find it hard but I have got to tell somebody.

First off, I am in a hospital. Now don't worry, ya hear me, don't worry. I was wounded but I am okay you understand. Okay. The doctor says that I will be up and around in a month. But that is not what I want to tell you.

Remember when I joined the Marines last year; remember when I left, how you told me to say a prayer to St. Michael every day. You really didn't have to tell me that. Ever since I can remember you always told me to pray to St. Michael the Archangel. You even named me after him. Well I always have.

When I got to Korea, I prayed even harder. Remember the prayer that you taught me?

"Michael, Michael of the morning fresh crop of Heaven adorning," you know the rest of it.

(Note: it is believed this is the prayer said by the Marine):

Michael, Michael of the morning,
Fresh chord of Heaven adorning,
Keep me safe today,
And in time of temptation
Drive the devil away. Amen.



Well I said it everyday. Sometimes when I was marching or sometimes resting. But always before I went to sleep. I even got some of the other fellas to say it.

Well, one day I was with an advance detail way up over the front lines. We were scouting for the Commies. I was plodding along in the bitter cold, my breath was like cigar smoke.

I thought I knew every guy in the patrol, when along side of me comes another Marine I never met before. He was bigger than any other Marine I'd ever seen. He must have been 6' 4" and built in proportion. It gave me a feeling of security to have such a body near.

Anyway, there we were trudging along. The rest of the patrol spread out. Just to start a conversation I said, "Cold ain't it." And then I laughed. Here I was with a good chance of getting killed any minute and I am talking about the weather.

My companion seemed to understand. I heard him laugh softly. I looked at him,

"I have never seen you before, I thought I knew every man in the outfit."

"I just joined at the last minute", he replied. "The name is Michael." 
 
"Is that so," I said surprised. "That is my name too."


"I know," he said and then went on, "Michael, Michael of the morning . . ."


I was too amazed to say anything for a minute. How did he know my name, and a prayer that you had taught me? Then I smiled to myself, every guy in the outfit knew about me. Hadn't I taught the prayer to anybody who would listen. Why now and then, they even referred to me as St. Michael.


Neither of us spoke for a time and then he broke the silence. "We are going to have some trouble up ahead."


He must have been in fine physical shape or he was breathing so lightly I couldn't see his breath. Mine poured out in great clouds. There was no smile on his face now. Trouble ahead, I thought to myself, well with the Commies all around us, that is no great revelation.


Snow began to fall in great thick globs. In a brief moment the whole countryside was blotted out. And I was marching in a white fog of wet sticky particles. My companion disappeared.


"Michael, " I shouted in sudden alarm.


I felt his hand on my arm, his voice was rich and strong, "This will stop shortly."


His prophecy proved to be correct. In a few minutes the snow stopped as abruptly as it had begun. The sun was a hard shining disc. I looked back for the rest of the patrol, there was no one in sight. We lost them in that heavy fall of snow. I looked ahead as we came over a little rise.


Mom, my heart stopped. There were seven of them. Seven Commies in their padded pants and jackets and their funny hats. Only there wasn't anything funny about them now. Seven rifles were aimed at us.

"Down Michael, " I screamed and hit the frozen earth.


I heard those rifles fire almost as one. I heard the bullets. There was Michael still standing. 
 
Mom, those guys couldn't have missed, not at that range. I expected to see him literally blown to bits.


But there he stood, making no effort to fire himself. He was paralyzed with fear. It happens sometimes, Mom, even to the bravest. He was like a bird fascinated by a snake.


At least, that was what I thought then. I jumped up to pull him down and that was when I got mine. I felt a sudden flame in my chest. I often wondered what it felt like to be hit, now I know.

I remember feeling strong arms about me, arms that laid me ever so gently on a pillow of snow. I opened my eyes, for one last look. I was dying. Maybe I was even dead, I remember thinking well, this is not so bad.


Maybe I was looking into the sun. Maybe I was in shock. But it seemed I saw Michael standing erect again only this time his face was shining with a terrible splendor.


As I say, maybe it was the sun in my eyes, but he seemed to change as I watched him. He grew bigger, his arms stretched out wide, maybe it was the snow falling again, but there was a brightness around him like the wings of an Angel. In his hand was a sword. A sword that flashed with a million lights.


Well, that is the last thing I remember until the rest of the fellas came up and found me. I do not know how much time had passed. Now and then I had but a moment's rest from the pain and fever. I remember telling them of the enemy just ahead.


"Where is Michael," I asked.


I saw them look at one another. "Where's who?" asked one. "Michael, Michael that big Marine I was walking with just before the snow squall hit us."


"Kid," said the sergeant, "You weren't walking with anyone. I had my eyes on you the whole time. You were getting too far out. I was just going to call you in when you disappeared in the snow."


He looked at me, curiously. "How did you do it kid?"

"How'd I do what?" I asked half angry despite my wound. "This marine named Michael and I were just . . ."

"Son, " said the sergeant kindly, "I picked this outfit myself and there just ain't another Michael in it. You are the only Mike in it."

He paused for a minute, "Just how did you do it kid? We heard shots. There hasn't been a shot fired from your rifle. And there isn't a bit of lead in them seven bodies over the hill there."

I didn't say anything, what could I say. I could only look open-mouthed with amazement. It was then the sergeant spoke again, "Kid," he said gently, "everyone of those seven Commies was killed by a sword stroke."

That is all I can tell you Mom. As I say, it may have been the sun in my eyes, it may have been the cold or the pain. But that is what happened.

Love, Michael”



Look how this young man was rewarded for honouring his name-saint each day and praying for protection!


Again, as St. Michael said to Marie-Julie Jahenny September 29, 1877: "After God, I am your protector and your support. Have recourse to me. If you knew my power, you would be more eager to address your prayers to me each day."


Of course, I could not end this blog without including one of my favourite poems written in his honour by G.K. Chesterton and fist published in 1929. It is a brilliant tribute to Heaven's Champion, the opining lines of which are reminiscent of the prayer that saved the young Marine:




Michael of the Morning,
Michael of the Army of the Lord,
Stiffen thou the hand upon the still sword, Michael,
Folded and shut upon the sheathed sword, Michael,
Under the fullness of the white robes falling,
Gird us with the secret of the sword.

When the world cracked because of a sneer in Heaven,
Leaving out for all time a scar upon the sky,
Thou didst rise up against the Horror in the highest,
Dragging down the highest that looked down on the Most High:
Rending from the seventh heaven the hell of exaltation
Down the seven heavens till the dark seas burn:
Thou that in thunder threwest down the Dragon
Knowest in what silence the Serpent can return.



Down through the universe the vast night falling
(Michael, Michael: Michael of the Morning!)
Far down the universe the deep calms calling
(Michael, Michael: Michael of the Sword!)
Bid us not forget in the baths of all forgetfulness,
In the sigh long drawn from the frenzy and the fretfulness
In the huge holy sempiternal silence
In the beginning was the Word.



When from the deeps of dying God astounded
Angels and devils who do all but die
Seeing Him fallen where thou couldst not follow,
Seeing Him mounted where thou couldst not fly,
Hand on the hilt, thou hast halted all thy legions
Waiting the Tetelestai and the acclaim,
Swords that salute Him dead and everlasting
God beyond God and greater than His Name.


Round us and over us the cold thoughts creeping
(Michael, Michael: Michael of the battle-cry!)
Round us and under us the thronged world sleeping
(Michael, Michael: Michael of the Charge!)
Guard us the Word; the trysting and the trusting
Edge upon the honour and the blade unrusting
Fine as the hair and tauter than the harpstring
Ready as when it rang upon the targe.



He that giveth peace unto us; not as the world giveth:
He that giveth law unto us; not as the scribes:
Shall he be softened for the softening of the cities
Patient in usury; delicate in bribes?
They that come to quiet us, saying the sword is broken,
Break man with famine, fetter them with gold,
Sell them as sheep; and He shall know the selling
For He was more than murdered. He was sold.



Michael, Michael: Michael of the Mustering,
Michael of the marching on the mountains of the Lord,
Marshal the world and purge of rot and riot
Rule through the world till all the world be quiet:
Only establish when the world is broken
What is unbroken is the Word.