Saturday, 31 December 2016

Polish Armed Forces 2016

The Feast of Pope Saint Sylvester

Come, O Lord, to the help of your people, sustained by the intercession of Pope Saint Sylvester, so that, running the course of this present life under your guidance we may happily attain life without end. 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 Sylvester, pray for us and for Pope Francis.

Anna Soubry MP has real Class

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Eastern Ukraine Situation Report 29th December

This is war. This is Europe. This is happening today.

The Guardian: Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar are suffering. The world mustn’t look away

The Guardian: Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar are suffering. The world mustn’t look away

by Rushanara Ali

"Since Myanmar passed the citizenship law in 1982, full citizenship in Myanmar is based, according to Burma Campaign UK, on being a member of the “national races” – a category awarded only to those who are “considered to have settled in Myanmar prior to 1824, the date of the first occupation by the British”. In Myanmar’s national census of 2014, the Muslim minority group was initially allowed to self-identify as “Rohingya”, but the government later reversed this freedom and deemed that they could only be identified as “Bengali”.

This has left the Rohingya open to discrimination and mistreatment. Denied the right to education and equal employment, and given only limited access to healthcare, they have endured intolerable conditions. In Myanmar in 2013, I walked around hospital wards that segregated the sick by their religion.

Many Rohingya Muslims flee Myanmar by boat from the Bay of Bengal in the hope of reaching Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia or Indonesia. As their situation has continued to deteriorate over the last year, thousands have attempted to cross a stretch of water that is three times more deadly for refugees than the Mediterranean. According to the UN, they are often “stranded at sea on overcrowded boats, controlled by traffickers and people smugglers”, with many “beaten and held hostage for ransom”."

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

John McCain visits Estonia

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Express News| Çitaku: No reconciliation with Serbia, without accountability and justice

Express News| Çitaku: No reconciliation with Serbia, without accountability and justice

Kosovo Ambassador to US, Vlora Citaku, said that there cannot be reconciliation with Serbia without their accountability and justice. Çitaku made these comments addressing the UN Security Council, discussing the quarterly report on Kosovo.

"Let’s just do a quick reality check. First, this is 2016, not 1999. Second, Kosovo is no longer administered by the United Nations, as of 17 of February 2008. Kosovo is a free and independent state, recognized by the overwhelming majority of the free nations of the world,” said Çitaku. “But, yet, we come here, every three months, to hear from my colleagues from Serbia, about a parallel universe, in which Kosovo’s statehood is inexistent, in which, it was Kosovo Albanians that committed ethnic cleansing, in which the oppressor becomes the oppressed. In this parallel universe that Serbia portraits, Milosevic is the hero, and KLA that fought for freedom are the terrorists,” said Çitaku.

"While we will never shy away, and we remain committed to bring justice to all the victims, regardless of their ethnicity, we are not seeing the same level of commitment from our northern neighbour. Kosovo has taken unprecedented measures to address the alleged crimes, by establishing the Special Court. Cooperation with international and local justice was never a subject of negotiation in Kosovo. We want justice for all, because that’s the only way we can bring peace to all the families who have lost their dear ones. We in Kosovo don’t fear justice, because we have nothing to hide. Our cause was just, our war was just,” she said.

Sophia-Spirit-Mary, by Madonna Sophia Compton

Madonna Sophia Compton, Sophia-Spirit-Mary: Sergius Bulgakov and the Patristic Roots of a Feminine Spirit, 2015 self-published

I have recently been very interested in the Sophiology of the Russian Orthodox theologian Sergius Bulgakov. His concept of Sophia enables us to see a form of the feminine divine within the bounds of orthodoxy, along with a high Mariology that elevates Mary to the level of a goddess, while still maintaining the vital creature-creator distinction. These aspects are expounded in this book by ecofeminist theologian, Madonna Sophia Compton. Drawing on both Sergius Bulgakov and his source material, she explores the close theological connection between the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Virgin Mary and Sophia.

Compton identifies a trend in the early Church Fathers to move from identifying Sophia with the Holy Spirit (connecting Sophia to Mary) to identifying Sophia exclusively with the Logos. She argues that this raised a problem for the Patristic theologians in giving a definite role to the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, the association of Sophia and the Holy Spirit continued in the Syrian liturgical tradition, with many Syrian hymns ascribing feminine metaphors and a maternal role to the Holy Spirit. Dealing with the Cappadocians, our author argues that they articulated a role for the Holy Spirit which was detached from the connection with Sophia recognized by the previous generation of theologians. She argues that the result of this was an increasing devotional significance of the Mother of God, yet this Mariology was separated from its anchoring in the Sophia-Spirit paradigm. She then goes on to explain how Bulgakov tried to recover a Sophianic Mariology, offering an exposition of his book, The Burning Bush, which I had read a couple of months ago.

Things become problematic in chapter 9, where she addresses the implications for theology of contemporary scientific cosmologies. Based on the conclusions of Quantum physics, she raises questions about both the traditional doctrine of creation Ex-Nihil and the concept of God as First Cause. I think it is dangerous to try to rethink important theological concepts based on the changing conclusions of scientists. One should also bear in mind that when physicists talk about causality, they do not mean exactly the same thing as philosophers like St. Thomas Aquinas. It is true that there is reasonable doubt about whether the first chapter of Genesis teaches creation out of nothing, but the doctrine does not rest solely on that one passage. She also says that Bulgakov rejected the notion of divine impassibility. I have not read this in his works, though I have read another passage where he might appear to have some problems in that area. It has been fashionable over the last century to reject divine impassibility, but abandoning it creates real problems in our doctrine of God. To reject impassibility brings into question the timelessness, simplicity and immutability of God. Our author sees in Bulgakov a cosmological and eschatological panentheism, not unlike that of Jurgen Moltmann. While there are insights in such an approach, panentheism does potentially endanger the vital distinction between creator and creation.

Compton also takes a look at the iconography of the Eastern Orthodox Church in a chapter on the angel icons representing Sophia. She argues that these images should be understood Mariologically. In doing so, she addresses some of the criticisms of Bulgakov's Sophiology from Georges Florovsky and John Meyendorff. In the final chapter she argues for the relevance of Bulgakov's Sophiology to feminism, particularly an ecologically orientated feminism. While I think feminist theologians have insights to offer, I do not care for their standpoint and hermeneutics of suspicion. Feminist theologians absolutize their ideology and use it as an axiom to which all theology and Christian doctrine must be subject.

This is a book that says some great things, though it attempts to go in places that are out of harmony with much of the Christian tradition and possibly beyond Bulgakov's own conclusions. I am not sure that I agree with the author's preference for referring to the Holy Spirit as 'she.' While in the Old Testament, the Hebrew gives 'Spirit' as feminine, the New Testament, which is more precise in it's theology of the Holy Spirit, treats the Spirit as masculine.

Eastern Ukraine Situation Report 27th December

This is war. This is Europe. This is happening today.

Postmillennialism Today: “JOY TO THE WORLD”

Postmillennialism Today: “JOY TO THE WORLD”

"To my fascination, I’ve seen a couple articles floating around which essentially misinterpret the song by forcing their own eschatological presuppositions and “poo poo” its traditional characterization as a Christmas song. Those of us who understand it in the sense of being a celebration of the first advent are then issued a slap on the wrist along with a disapproving tsk tsk.

If we fail to understand that postmillennialism was the dominant eschatology in the 18th century during which this hymn was written, and that author Isaac Watts himself was an ardent postmillennialist, one could see how it could be assumed that Christ’s second coming was Watt’s intent behind the Christmas hymn “Joy to the World” and not his first coming.

But first, simply notice the tense of the song is not future. Watts could have easily written, “Joy to the world the Lord will come” or “the Savior will reign” or “He will rule the world”, but he didn’t. The fact that he chose not to, fits perfectly with his inaugurated postmillennial eschatology. The song is intentionally written to highlight and celebrate the present, earth redeeming imperatives of Christ’s first advent. The Old Testament picture we are given by the prophets of Christ’s first appearing is that it was a cosmic event, forever altering the course of history."

If you are a Premillennialist, you are going to have a problem with a lot of old hymns.

Far More in Common

Monday, 26 December 2016

The Feast of Saint John the Apostle

O God, who through the blessed Apostle John have unlocked for us the secrets of your Word, grant, we pray, that we may grasp with proper understanding what he has so marvelously brought to our ears. 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 John, pray for us, that the life of God would abide in us.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Catholic Herald: The party must go on – yes, into February

Catholic Herald: The party must go on – yes, into February

by Melanie McDonagh

"In fact, I’d say myself that we shouldn’t give up on Christmas until Candlemas, February 2. That was the way the Church’s calendar intended it: the Christmas season extended right through the second most dispiriting month of the year, right into the most depressing one. January without Christmas can be a downbeat month, but if we think of it as a modified extension of the Christmas season, it has an altogether different character.

There couldn’t be a worse time for the New Year, New You thing of giving up starchy carbs; this is exactly the time we should be eating them, having our friends round. It’s still the time for filling your house with candles and greenery, and entertaining. Candlemas Eve, not Epiphany, used to be the time when people took down their sprays of greenery, holly and ivy. As Robert Herrick put it in his poem for the Eve: “Down with the Rosemary and Bayes, down with the Mistletoe; Instead of Holly now up-raise the greener Box, for show…” And so on, with all the green stuff of Christmas being replaced with their springtime equivalents, to celebrate Whitsun or Easter."

The Feast of Saint Stephen

Grant, Lord, we pray, that we may imitate what we worship, and so learn to love even our enemies, for we celebrate the heavenly birthday of a man who knew how to pray even for his persecutors. 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.


Antiphon: And they stoned Stephen, invoking and saying: Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And falling on his knees he cried with a loud voice, saying: Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep in the Lord.

V. I see the heavens opened, R. And Jesus standing on the right hand of the power of God.

Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.

Saint Stephen, First Martyr, Pray for us. St. Stephen, who suffered for preaching the Name of Jesus Christ, Pray for us. St. Stephen, who so closely imitated Jesus in that great virtue of charity for thine enemies, Pray for us. St. Stephen, who when stoned by thine enemies, didst cast forth sparks, Pray for us. not of anger, but of love, to set on fire their hearts, harder than the stones which they threw, Pray for us. St. Stephen, having recommended thy soul to God, cried for mercy on the souls of thine enemies, Pray for us. St. Stephen, most zealous for the glory of God, b St. Stephen, most patient and constant, Pray for us. St. Stephen, pattern of chastity and purity, Pray for us. St. Stephen, whose heavenly fortitude caused admiration in all, St. Stephen, by whom so many miracles were wrought, Pray for us. St. Stephen, who, in the love of God, was not inferior to the Apostles themselves, Pray for us. St. Stephen, who didst convert many to the faith of Christ, Pray for us. St. Stephen, by whom the Church has received and continues to receive such singular benefits, Pray for us. St. Stephen, of whom it is said, that the Holy Ghost, Who inhabited thy soul, shone and darted forth His rays into thy body, Pray for us. St. Stephen, whose face shone like that of an angel, Pray for us. St. Stephen, filled with the faith and the Holy Ghost, Pray for us. St. Stephen, dear to the Heart of Jesus, Pray for us.

V. Obtain for us, O blessed Stephen, the virtue of holy charity: R. For which thou wast so eminent and we are so needy

Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us.

Let us pray. Grant to us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, so to imitate what we revere that we may learn to love even our enemies: for we celebrate him who could even plead on behalf of his persecutors with Thy Son Our Lord Jesus Christ. Who with Thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, world without end. R. Amen.

Saint Stephen, pray for us, for all deacons and for all persecuted Christians.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

New Atlanticist: US-Romania Ties in Need of an Upgrade

New Atlanticist: US-Romania Ties in Need of an Upgrade

by Radu Magdin

"The “Easterners,” historically enthusiastic about the United States, are rightfully worried by Russia’s actions following its annexation of Crimea and aggression in eastern Ukraine.

While mindful of the fact that the United States has global interests, not just regional ones, Eastern Europe seeks Washington’s attention. Providing this attention will not entail a European pivot, but it does mean strengthening ties in a difficult part of the world. This is to the advantage of not just the countries of Eastern Europe, but also the United States.

There are plenty of opportunities to strengthen ties. The Black Sea holds untapped energy resources. Romania is hungry for investment; it offers fiscal opportunity and stability; it has strong economic growth; and is a model in the fight against corruption. Romania is also a safe country with a US military base at Constanta and the missile defense shield at Deveselu."

4th Infantry Division

God-Breathed, by Josh McDowell

Josh McDowell, God-Breathed: The Undeniable Power and Reliability of Scripture, 2015 Shiloh Run Press

Josh McDowell wrote the magnificent Evidence that Demands a Verdict, which presented a rigorous and systematic case for the truth of Christianity. This is a rather different book. While it contains a lot of apologetic arguments for the reliability of Scripture, McDowell spends a lot of time talking about the personal impact of the Bible on his life. Along the way he offers a lot of anecdotes about his family and personal history.

On the whole this is edifying and McDowell presents good arguments for the reliability of Scripture. Importantly, he rejects the Documentary Hypothesis, which holds that Genesis was put together out of different documents and he instead upholds Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. Sadly, most Catholic writers seem to buy the Documentary Hypothesis and treat it like gospel truth. The prevailing attitude to Biblical criticism among Catholic theologians, even from conservatives like the Pope Emeritus, seems to be "Yes, sir!" A more critical stance towards critical conclusions is one of the first things that Catholics can learn from Evangelical writers like Josh McDowell.

However, this book is not without fault. Our author emphasises the importance of a 'personal relationship with God.' A 'personal relationship with God' is something that Evangelicals like to talk about, but it is difficult to find this kind of individualistic concept in Scripture. Similarly, he puts a huge emphasis on the role of Scripture as a kind to one's personal life, while saying almost nothing about corporate uses of Scripture by the Church. Does Scripture have no place in our worship and in our churches? One would get the impression from McDowell that it does not.

McDowell's handling of the topic of the canon is not so good; his dismissal of the Deuterocanonical books is lousy. He points out that Jesus never quoted from the Apocrypha, but if Jude's quotation of Enoch does not prove the inspiration of that book, the issue of quotations proves little. Some writers have found allusions to Deuterocanonical texts in some of our Lord's statements. Importantly, the form of His quotations of Scripture mostly follow the Septuagint, which included the Apocrypha. Our author says the Catholic Church only included the Deuterocanonicals in the Old Testament in 1546; yet before this, there had been a consensus that these books were Scriptural.

I would also disagree with McDowell's contention that Allah is not the God of the Bible. This assertion is common among conservative Christians, both Evangelical and Catholic, but it is conceptually problematic. Our author says that the character of Allah is very different from that of Yahweh. Yet two people may have very different assessments of the character of the same person. One person might think that Donald Trump is a rapist and abuser of women, while another person may consider Trump to be a kind family man. They are still talking about the same person.

Despite its shortcomings, this book is a readable and enjoyable defence of the inspiration and authority of the Word of God.

Friday, 23 December 2016

The Mirror: This is the truth about the Berlin Christmas market terror attack

The Mirror: This is the truth about the Berlin Christmas market terror attack

by Fleet Street Fox

"Amri was not a refugee. He was a wrong 'un before he was radicalised, a wrong 'un afterwards, and he'll be just as wrong when he's shot dead by the police on his trail and finds out there's no heaven for wrong 'uns.

We are at war - with a few thousand people out there who want to kill us, and a few thousand in here who want to frighten us. Who bend the truth to suit their nightmares, to seize power, to get paid for spouting stupidity, and who simply don't care when they've got it wrong.

They don't realise they're on the same side as the terrorists. They all want us to turn away, punish others and polarise.

Being open doesn't terrorise anyone. Being decent doesn't get you killed. And the truth NEVER goes away."

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

The Guardian: Nigel Farage’s attack on Jo Cox’s widower is a new low. Enough

The Guardian: Nigel Farage’s attack on Jo Cox’s widower is a new low. Enough

by Owen Jones

"On Tuesday morning, hours after a truck was driven into a Berlin Christmas market, Nigel Farage spotted an opportunity. “Terrible news from Berlin but no surprise,” he wrote, not even bothering to separate his horror and his vindication with a comma. “Events like these will be the Merkel legacy.” Brendan Cox’s response – “blaming politicians for the actions of extremists? That’s a slippery slope Nigel” – was logically flawless.

Farage’s response in turn – that Cox “would know more about extremists than me” because of his links to the anti-fascist organisation Hope Not Hate – is shocking on a number of levels. First, he is talking about a widower whose wife was murdered by an extremist six months ago. Second, he smeared an organisation that exists to drive back racism – at a time when hate crimes have surged after a referendum campaign made inflammatory by politicians including Nigel Farage.

Then came Farage’s sidekicks. “When are we allowed to say that Brendan Cox is a total arse?” tweeted the Breitbart columnist James Delingpole. “I’m sorry about his wife but he chose to massively politicise it. Who does that?” asked Ukip bankroller Arron Banks, accusing Jo’s widower – rather than the far-right terrorist who killed her – of politicising her death."

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Far More United



by Kenneth Gentry

In Isaiah 9:3 the Lord promises to multiply his people Israel. This is according to the Abrahamic Covenant’s promise of a great seed and influence among the nations. God will accomplish this by calling the Gentiles to be the seed of Abraham (Gal 3:29). This involves their ingrafting into Israel’s stock (Ro 11:16–19), the merging of Jew and Gentile into one body (Eph 2:11–17). The increase of Israel’s joy (v 3) indicates the joy in the Savior’s coming (Lk 2:10; Jn 3:29). According to the New Testament, Christ brings joy to his people (Jn 15:11; 16:20ff); and where Christianity goes, joy follows (Ac 8:8; 13:52; 15:3; Ro 14:17; 15:13; 1 Pe 1:8; 1Jn 1:4). As in Isaiah 2:3–4 Christ’s coming results in oppression and war ceasing (vv 4–5), which Isaiah portrays in the burning of soldiers’ garments as a symbol that they will no longer be needed. This is similar to the earlier casting off of swords (Isa 2:4).

Christ’s reign over his kingdom begins at his first coming (Mt 4:17; 12:28) and will gradually increase over time (Mt 13:31–33). In prophecy Christ appears as the son or branch of David (Jer 23:5; 33:13), or as David himself (Jer 30:9; Eze 34:23, 23; 37:24; Hos 3:5). After his resurrection he ascends to David’s throne (Ac 2:30–31), which represents God’s throne (1Ch 28:5; 29:23). His reign brings peace, for he is the “Prince of Peace” (Isa 9:6). Calvin puts it well in his commentary on Isaiah (vol. 1, p. 96). This peace grows incrementally through history in that Christ “extends its boundaries far and wide, and then preserves and carries it forward in uninterrupted progression to eternity.”

Wipe the Smile off Farage's Face

Help the charitable trust HOPE Not Hate sue Nigel Farage for libel- Please donate!

HOPE Not Hate: Help us take Nigel Farage to court

The Guardian: Nigel Farage accuses Jo Cox's widower of supporting extremism

The Guardian: Nigel Farage accuses Jo Cox's widower of supporting extremism

Nigel Farage has become embroiled in a very public row with the widower of Jo Cox, accusing him of links to extremism because the trust set up in the murdered MP’s name supports a group which has previously challenged the Ukip politician.

Farage faced a barrage of criticism for suggesting that Brendan Cox “would know more about extremists than me” because of his connections to Hope Not Hate, a campaigning charity which seeks to combat political militancy, especially from far-right groups.

Speaking on LBC radio, Farage, who has previously accused Hope Not Hate of disrupting his public events, said the group pursued “violent and undemocratic means”.

This prompted Hope Not Hate to warn Farage that he faces legal action unless he rescinds the “political smear” and apologises. There was no response from Farage or Ukip about whether he would do this.

So according to Farage, a charity that opposes racial hatred is 'extremist.' He is such an evil clown, though I suspect he was probably confusing HOPE Not Hate with Antifa, thus showing his ignorance.

Monday, 19 December 2016

The Feast of Pope Saint Zephyrinus

O God, the light of the faithful, and shepherd of souls, who didst set blessed Saint Zephyrinus 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 Zephyrinus, pray for us and for Pope Francis.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Answering the New Atheism, by Scott Hahn and Benjamin Wiker

Scott Hahn and Benjamin Wiker, Answering the New Atheism: Dismantling Dawkins Case Against God, 2008 Emmaus Road

The title of this book is perhaps slightly misleading. 'Answering the New Atheism' implies that the book will address some of the other 'New Atheist' writers, such as Christopher Hitchens, when in fact it is entirely a critique of Richard Dawkins book 'The God Delusion.'

This is a book of two halves. The first half deals with the origins of life. Our authors argue that Dawkins believes in an anti-God, that is, Chance and that blind chance can explain any phenomena. They argue from the Anthropic Principle that it is improbable that life would have emerged by chance and that it is even more probable that it would have evolved to the complexity of form we know today. I think there is perhaps a danger of a 'God of the Gaps' dilemma creeping in. Hahn and Wiker seek to find God in the improbability of life's emergence, but this would fall apart if science manages in the future to provide better models for abiogenesis. Hahn and Wiker do not explicitly advocate Intelligent Design in this book, but they come perilously close to it with their reasoning, with all the problems it entails. The second half is more satisfactory. It addresses the failure of Dawkins to come up with a coherent account of morality. The final chapter, King Richard, is unhelpful and unnecessary. It speculates on how if given political power, it would be logical for Dawkins to use totalitarian measures to suppress religion. This is Punch and Judy philosophy. Dawkins could just as easily have written a chapter suggesting that Hahn and other Catholics might consider establishing a new inquisition to deal with atheists. Furthermore, there is no engagement with some of the statements that Dawkins has made about being a 'Cultural Christian.' What are we to make of those?

I would have expected our authors, being Catholics, to have spent more time addressing Dawkins failure to understand Aquinas' Five Ways to Prove God and perhaps to have majored on this. They would have been on surer ground there than on the origins of life. I was also disappointed to find that Hahn and Wiker reject Pascal's Wager. They point out that one cannot simply decide to believe, for faith is a gift of grace. However, while one cannot make oneself believe, there are many things one can do to make oneself more disposed to be receptive of faith. One can go to church, one can talk to believers, one can read Christian books (like Answering the New Atheism!) and one can even pray, even if uncertain of the existence of God. In other words, one can attend to the 'means of grace,' as Calvinists call them.

It's clear that Dawkins was out of his depth writing about theology and the philosophy of religion. Perhaps this allows our authors at times to fall into the trap of a sneering contempt for the man. Unfortunately, while Hahn is a good writer, he cannot match the wit and eloquence of Dawkins. It's also arguable that Hahn is outside of his own expertise in addressing the relationship between religion and science.

I think Scott Hahn is a great writer and apologist. I also think this book does contain some good arguments that are destructive of Dawkins' position. However, I still felt disappointed with it on the whole.

Eastern Ukraine Situation Report 18th December

This is war. This is Europe. This is happening today.

The Guardian: Leavers are angry, for their lies will return to haunt them

The Guardian: Leavers are angry, for their lies will return to haunt them

by Nick Cohen

"The only thing worse than sore losers are sore winners. They have the victory, the field is theirs, but still they scream bitter abuse at the defeated.

The millions who know that Brexit will shrink their world have every right to be angry. The young who voted to remain because they wanted to learn, work and love where they choose, without facing restrictions on which university they could study at and which husband or wife they could bring home, have every right to be furious too. As for EU immigrants in Britain and British immigrants in the EU, it is fair to imagine them directing an emotion more intense than anger at the 17 million people who took the cold-blooded decision to risk their future happiness.

Yet, instead of seeing the losers’ anger, we are witnessing a novel and graceless phenomenon: victors’ rage. Supporters of Brexit shout about “enemies of the people” and denounce “Remoaners” with all the venom of men and women who have lost rather than won the biggest political struggle of their lives. They demand their opponents pass loyalty tests, as if we were living in a dictatorship. They do not allow you to say the referendum result betrayed our country’s best interests. They instruct you to play the hypocrite and pretend to believe what you know to be untrue. Be warned. Refuse to go along with the political correctness of the right and you will feel “the people’s” wrath."

Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God

Saturday, 17 December 2016

The Independent: Japanese banks tell Philip Hammond they will move UK jobs to Europe within half a year

The Independent: Japanese banks tell Philip Hammond they will move UK jobs to Europe within half a year

Japanese banks have told Philip Hammond they will begin moving operations to the EU within six months unless the Government can provide clarity on the UK’s access to the single market.

Banks including Nomura and Daiwa Capital Markets, which employ thousands of people in Britain, reportedly held a “frank” meeting with the Chancellor on 1 December.

According to the Financial Times, one senior Japanese finance executive said it “would be better for our EU-based customers to have an alternative hub”.

I'm really impressed with the fact that Phillip Hammond does not rubbish or dismiss these warnings. His wisdom and caution make me proud to be a Conservative.

Heating up the Atmosphere

Evening Standard: George Osborne is seizing the moment to be a major political player again

Evening Standard: George Osborne is seizing the moment to be a major political player again

by Matthew Ancona

"It was entirely characteristic of George Osborne to make his first speech from the backbenches since 2003 in such dramatic style. When he was ejected from the Government in July, there were plenty who argued that the suddenly ex-Chancellor’s career in frontline politics had ended before his 46th birthday. His remarks this week on the tragedy of Aleppo suggest otherwise.

The humanitarian disaster unfolding on our screens, he said, “did not come out of a vacuum; it was created by a vacuum — a vacuum of Western leadership, including American and British leadership.” As a former member of the National Security Council, Osborne himself took his share of responsibility. He urged Parliament to do the same “because of what it prevented being done” — specifically the shameful decision of the Commons in August 2013 not to endorse a military response to the sarin attack on Ghouta by Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

In No 10, Osborne’s every move is monitored with suspicion leavened by a measure of residual hope. The Prime Minister’s private position is clear: for different reasons, he and Michael Gove could not remain Cabinet members after the EU referendum, David Cameron’s fall and the ensuing leadership struggle. But their banishment was never meant to be permanent exile. In private, Theresa May’s allies insist that there is “a way back” for both."

We need George Osborne now more than ever.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Say the Rosary Every Day

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

The Guardian: Reports of Aleppo civilians shot on the spot by pro-regime forces – UN

The Guardian: Reports of Aleppo civilians shot on the spot by pro-regime forces – UN

There are reports that pro-Syrian regime forces have been entering homes in the last remaining rebel strongholds in eastern Aleppo and killing civilians on the spot, the UN has said.

The UN’s human rights office said it had received reports that 82 civilians had been killed across four different neighbourhoods. “The reports we had are of people being shot in the street trying to flee and shot in their homes,” Rupert Colville, a UN spokesman, said. “There could be many more.”

Unverified reports of extrajudicial killings by forces loyal to the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, as well as mass detentions and arrests, have surfaced in recent days. In one image circulated by a pro-government parliamentarian, dozens of Syrian men and boys from east Aleppo stand in a detention camp in front of Syrian army soldiers.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said there were corpses abandoned in the streets with residents too terrified by the shelling to bury them. “Real massacres” were taking place in the city, the war monitor said.

Congratulations to all the MPs who opposed intervention in Syria. It probably made you feel very righteous.

USA, meet your new allies.

The Guardian| Russia and conflicts of interest: Rex Tillerson embodies quandaries for Trump

The Guardian| Russia and conflicts of interest: Rex Tillerson embodies quandaries for Trump

by Julian Borger

"By nominating Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, Donald Trump will ignite a battle in Congress over the two issues that look set to overshadow the opening chapters of his presidency: Russia and conflicts of interest.

Tillerson embodies both quandaries. The ExxonMobil executive has grown close to Vladimir Putin and his circle through a succession of oil deals. The fate of those deals would give him a private interest when he comes to negotiate with Moscow as secretary of state. Lifting sanctions would unshackle ExxonMobil’s planned multi-billion dollar operations in Russia, and boost Tillerson’s retirement fund.

His confirmation hearings in the Senate will be a bitter and emotive struggle. For Trump’s legion critics, the opaque ties with Russia and his glaring conflicts of interest represent existential threats to US democracy. Trump is giving the nod to Tillerson, the recipient of Moscow’s Order of Friendship, as a slaughter is underway in Aleppo, likely to be one of the worst war crimes of the century so far, in which Russia is complicit.

Furthermore, confirmation hearings will run concurrently with a congressional investigation into what role Russian intelligence played in tilting the US presidential election and giving Trump an edge. The legitimacy of his presidency, for a majority of the US electorate and much of the world beyond, will be at stake in those hearings."

Eastern Ukraine Situation Report 13th December

This is war. This Europe. This is happening today.

Monday, 12 December 2016

21st Mountain Rifle Brigade

BBC News: Chancellor urges Brexit interim deal

BBC News: Chancellor urges Brexit interim deal

Chancellor Philip Hammond has backed a transitional deal for Brexit saying it would be "helpful" to allow longer than two years for the UK's EU exit.

Mr Hammond told the Treasury select committee that there was an "emerging view" that having longer would tend towards a "smoother transition" .

There would be "less risks of disruption" including "crucially risks to financial stability", he added.

However, both business and government would have to make changes, he said.

His comments are being seen as the strongest signal yet from the government that the Brexit process could take a lot longer than the two years needed for the official Article 50 exit process to be completed.

On Monday the Treasury Select Committee called for written submissions on transitional arrangements as part of its inquiry into the UK's future economic relationship with the EU.

We so need a transitional deal. I'm so glad Hammond is chancellor and not some madman.

Washington Examiner| Rubio: Secretary of state should not be 'a friend of Vladimir'

Washington Examiner| Rubio: Secretary of state should not be 'a friend of Vladimir'

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said Sunday the individual President-elect Donald Trump taps to be his secretary of state should not a friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin in an apparent swipe at Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson.

"Being a 'friend of Vladimir' is not an attribute I am hoping for from a #SecretaryOfState," Rubio wrote on Twitter.

The Tweet alludes to Tillerson, who was awarded the Order of Friendship honor by Putin in 2013 and has significant business ties in Russia. The oil tycoon is expected to be named to the top diplomatic post next week, according to multiple reports.

Rubio joins at least two other Republican lawmakers who have questioned Tillerson's fitness for coveted Cabinet-level position.

The Feast of Saint Lucy

May the glorious intercession of the Virgin and Martyr Saint Lucy give us new heart, we pray, O Lord, so that we may celebrate her heavenly birthday in this present age and so behold things eternal. 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 Lucy, pray for us, for Sicily and for Sweden.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

O God, Father of mercies, who placed your people under the singular protection of your Son's most holy Mother, grant that all who invoke the Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe, may seek with ever more lively faith the progress of peoples in the ways of justice and of peace. 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.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us and all who are involved in the pro-life movement.

ConservativeHome: We at British Influence are not wreckers. Rather, we seek a Brexit middle way between two extremes.

ConservativeHome: We at British Influence are not wreckers. Rather, we seek a Brexit middle way between two extremes.

by Peter Wilding

"And part of this is our “mendacious” Judicial Review of the Government’s position on the EEA. It is our view the Government may be wrong on its view that we leave the EEA automatically when we leave the EU, and this is important for six clear reasons – none of them mendacious as Longworth asserts, all of which demonstrate he has either not listened, or not thought it through, or (most probably) both.

If we have the right to remain in the EEA whilst outside the EU, this prevents the EU using single market access as a “bargaining chip”, and would significantly enhance our negotiating hand because not being “booted out” of the Single Market when we leave the EU means that the “ace” passes from their hand to ours.

If we can stay in the EEA, it will actually speed-up Brexit, not slow it down. Staying-in the EEA means the main bulk of the discussions – how we trade with the EU – can take place after we leave the EU rather than before. The EEA gives us time to breathe. Membership of it also therefore provides a workable transition period which avoids the “cliff-edge” which many fear leaving the single market will cause.

Thinking long-term, and contrary to urban myth, we do not need to leave the EEA in order to live within the “red lines” that the referendum established on the four freedoms. The EEA gives significantly enhanced powers to restrict the four freedoms which the Treaty of Rome does not. Membership of the EEA but being outside the Treaty of Rome means, for example, that we can negotiate quotas on migration.

Whilst people may have a legitimate expectation that we will leave the EEA based on the statements of politicians in the referendum campaign, it is hard to say there is a mandate to leave the EEA arising from the actual vote: the ballot paper mentioned leaving the EU, but not leaving the EEA."

First Things: Can the Religious Right be Saved?

First Things: Can the Religious Right be Saved?

by Russell D. Moore

"We still face racism and nativism and anti-Semitism. The religious right, if it wishes to be genuinely religious, must work toward justice and reconciliation, regardless of whether that means a rebuke to those who are our allies on other issues. White Christians, after all, are not part of the majority culture and never have been, unless they define their primary culture as that of the United States of America. If, instead, my first identity is part of the global Body of Christ, then white middle-class Americans are a tiny sliver indeed.

Moreover, the driving force of Christian orthodoxy and spiritual energy today is not white. If made up of only Western Europeans and North Americans, the Roman Catholic Church would be the United Church of Christ, with better real estate. But there are the Africans and the Asians. The United Methodist Church is pulling back, erratically, toward orthodoxy, largely due to African Methodists who hold more closely to the supernatural vision of the Bible than their American or European counterparts. And where is the evangelistic energy within Evangelicals? With immigrant churches, whether Dominican or Cambodian or Nigerian or Iranian.

A religious conservatism that takes seriously the multiethnic nature of the Church will be different, in many ways, from the one we have inherited. We will not agree on the optimal size of government or the economic good of tax cuts or the death penalty. Black and Hispanic religious conservatives will expect their white allies to address issues too often seen as “Democratic” by their constituencies—such as racial bias in sentencing. The same is true in reverse. Non-white religious conservatives will need to confront their constituencies on issues thought to be “Republican,” such as abortion and religious freedom. We all may not have the same solutions for poverty, but we will be those for whom addressing poverty is a priority. We may not all agree on the way to fix the immigration system, but we will all agree on the dignity and humanity of immigrants themselves. That’s all to the better. It will strengthen the movement, because it frees us from being just another partisan interest group."

Politico: Democratic, GOP senators: Russian hacking 'cannot become a partisan issue'

Politico: Democratic, GOP senators: Russian hacking 'cannot become a partisan issue'

Four high-profile Democratic and Republican senators said Sunday that Russian interference in the election "should alarm every American" and that Congress must investigate further without allowing it to become a partisan issue.

"Democrats and Republicans must work together, and across the jurisdictional lines of the Congress, to examine these recent incidents thoroughly and devise comprehensive solutions to deter and defend against further cyber-attacks," incoming Democratic leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), Armed Services Committee Chairman and Ranking Member John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a joint statement.

"This cannot become a partisan issue," they added. "The stakes are too high for our country. We are committed to working in this bipartisan manner, and we will seek to unify our colleagues around the goal of investigating and stopping the grave threats that cyberattacks conducted by foreign governments pose to our national security.”

The statement will put more pressure on congressional Republicans to investigate Russian interference and potentially clash with their incoming GOP president, Donald Trump, who has dismissed the issue. Schumer separately had called for a congressional probe into Russia's influence in the elections earlier Saturday, saying Democrats would continue to press for one when the new Congress convenes next year.

The heightened focus on Russia could also complicate the outlook for Trump's likely pick for secretary of state, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who maintains close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. McCain has already said Tillerson's relationship with the Russian leader is a "matter of concern."

The Bible: Inerrancy, Infallibility and Reliability, by Dr. Kenny Rhodes

Kenny Rhodes, The Bible: Inerrancy, Infallibility and Reliability: The Case for Chicago Inerrancy, 2013 Scofield Seminary Press

Given that this book is subtitled 'The Case for Chicago Inerrancy,' one might have expected it to provide an exposition of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. That would have been a very useful exercise, especially given that the Chicago Statement is open to differing interpretations of what Inerrancy means. However, Dr Rhodes provides very little comment at all on the Chicago Statement. Maybe this arises from a fundamentalist Evangelical dislike of creeds.

This book defends the inerrancy of Scripture, a very vital issue and topic and it says much that is helpful. Unfortunately, it is a somewhat flawed defense. The author makes a very problematic distinction between 'Inerrancy of Fact' and 'Inerrancy of Intent.' He argues that only the former is true inerrancy. The problem is that the Bible is not composed solely of factual statements. It also contains proverbial and poetical literature which cannot necessarily be interpreted like newspaper journalism. Rhodes' distinction also ignores issues of genre. I imagine he would assume that the reported speeches in the book of Acts were really spoken largely as they are given to us. However, that kind of reporting might not necessarily be demanded by the literary context of the book of Acts. Many scholars argue that ancient histories created speeches for the figures they recorded and this was an acceptable part of the historical genre. It may be also argued that the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy allows room for the kind of 'Inerrancy of Intent' that our author rejects.

On the topic of prophecy, the author makes the somewhat unwise move to calculate the number of Bible prophecies mathematically, assigning percentages to the numbers that are fulfilled and unfulfilled. This is problematic for two reasons; firstly because many prophecies are drawn typologically, so it can be difficult to identify which passages strictly constitute prophecies. Secondly, there is a good deal of debate about which prophecies in Scripture have been fulfilled. Rhodes also advocates a six-day creation, which raises the question of what he does with the scientific evidence for the Earth's antiquity. There is not much on the subject of canon, which is a weak spot for Protestants.

The infallibility and inerrancy of the Bible is a doctrine that must be defended, but it needs to be done in such a way as to take account of the cultural context of ancient literature.

National Review: Taiwan Is America’s Friend, and Trump Was Right to Speak with Its President

National Review: Taiwan Is America’s Friend, and Trump Was Right to Speak with Its President

by Josh Gelernter

"Our American free press is having a conniption over President-elect Trump talking to President-of-Taiwan Tsai. They foresee dire consequences — ruined diplomatic relations, treaties sunk, maybe even war. What they don’t understand is that Taiwan doesn’t exist just as bargaining chip to be played against Beijing. We support Taiwan not because it’s in our interest (though frequently it is) but because it’s the right thing to do. General James Mattis said we pay a price in the Arab world for supporting Israel. He’s right, and it’s a price worth paying. When Soviet premier Alexei Kosygin asked LBJ why the United States chose to side with tiny Israel against 80 million Arabs, Johnson said, simply, “Because it is right.” There are only two true, liberal democracies that, without American support, might be obliterated tomorrow. The other is Taiwan."

The Hill| McMullin: 'Trump is not a loyal American'

The Hill| McMullin: 'Trump is not a loyal American'

Former conservative independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin on Saturday accused President-elect Donald Trump of not being "a loyal American."

McMullin, a former CIA operative and House GOP aide, made the comment while slamming Trump's reported pick of Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson for secretary of State.

“It must be clear that Donald Trump is not a loyal American and we should prepare for the next four years accordingly," McMullin wrote on Twitter.

McMullin argued that with the selection of Tillerson, "Trump has identified a potential secretary of state unlikely to oppose Trump's alignment with Putin."

He also accused Trump of "purposely dismantling barriers that protect our nation from dangerous Russian subversion, which he has also welcomed."

Tillerson as secretary of state would be disastrous.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

It looks a bit Muddy..

Catholic Herald: Advent’s two great Marian feasts can help us celebrate Christmas properly

Catholic Herald: Advent’s two great Marian feasts can help us celebrate Christmas properly

by Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith

"The second Marian feast, that of Our Lady of Guadalupe, is steadily becoming more popular here in Europe, as is only fitting. The appearance of the Virgin to St Juan Diego in 1531 (on the eve of the English Reformation, funnily enough) marks one of the turning points of Catholic history. For the Virgin is the great evangeliser of the peoples of the New World, and it is thanks to her that the New World was, as the Catholic monarchs of Spain intended, claimed for Christ.

Moreover, the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego with the features of a Mexican woman, and wearing the traditional maternity dress of the Aztec people: this, the image on the tilma, is the only image we have of Our Lady pregnant with Our Lord, a fitting image for December and Advent, and a wonderful image for us all as we contemplate the Incarnation.

Also of note is that Our Lady is seen as standing on the moon, robed with the sun, and crowned with 12 stars, as in Revelation 12:1, that is to say, displaying the iconographic attributes of the Immaculate Conception. As at Lourdes, so at Guadalupe: the Blessed Virgin comes to us as the Immaculate Conception. This is how she wants to be known to her fellow human beings."

Faith of our Fathers

Faith of our fathers, living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire and sword;
O how our hearts beat high with joy
Whenever we hear that glorious Word!

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Our fathers, chained in prisons dark,
Were still in heart and conscience free:
How sweet would be their children’s fate,
If they, like them, could die for Thee!


Faith of our fathers, we will strive
To win all nations unto Thee;
And through the truth that comes from God,
We all shall then be truly free.


Faith of our fathers, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife;
And preach Thee, too, as love knows how
By kindly words and virtuous life.


Prior to becoming a Catholic, I had never heard this hymn before, though I believe it is contained in some Protestant hymn books. I first encountered it taking part in prayer vigils outside the abortion clinic. It's rather catchy.

His Eucharistic Kingdom

Friday, 9 December 2016

Enhanced Readiness

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

New Atlanticist: Trump, Brexit, and the Myth of Ukrainian Nationalism

New Atlanticist: Trump, Brexit, and the Myth of Ukrainian Nationalism

by Peter Dickinson

"Since the 2014 Revolution of Dignity, the Ukrainian political arena has witnessed the arrival of numerous new nationalistic parties. However, not one of them has emerged as a serious political contender. Opinion polls consistently place overall support for Ukraine’s nationalist parties at between six and eight percent. These surveys tally directly with the results of the autumn 2014 parliamentary election, in which none of the country’s nationalist political parties passed the five percent threshold. The May 2014 presidential race saw nationalist candidates sink without a trace. As if to underline the point, Jewish presidential hopeful Vadim Rabinovich famously received a greater share of the votes than the collective support secured by all the nationalist candidates.

Compared to the rest of Europe, where it is now commonplace for nationalist parties to win upwards of a quarter of the vote, support for nationalists in Ukraine is strikingly low. Given the circumstances in today’s Ukraine, this is particularly noteworthy. Ukrainian society is currently in the midst of a post-revolutionary national awakening while also engaged in what many regard as a war of independence against Russia. If nationalist parties cannot flourish in such a frenzied environment, one has to concede that Ukrainian society does not currently contain the seeds of such fervent.

It is also worth considering the perspectives of Europe’s self-styled nationalist parties. Virtually all of them actively ally themselves with President Vladimir Putin’s Russia and denigrate Ukraine. They receive financing and favors from the Kremlin, lavish praise on Putin as a model nationalist leader, attend far-right forums hosted in Russia, and dutifully accept roles as election observers in Moscow’s hybrid war pantomime. In contrast, nobody from any of Europe’s prominent nationalist groups has come out in support or sympathy for Ukraine’s revolution—a particularly strange state of affairs given the Kremlin’s oft-stated claims of rampant Ukrainian fascism."

National Review: Why Trump’s Phone Conversation with Taiwan’s President Is a Good Sign

National Review: Why Trump’s Phone Conversation with Taiwan’s President Is a Good Sign

by Ian Tuttle

"Taiwan, for its part, only grows more independence-minded. In January, the country reduced the Kuomintang (KMT) to just 35 out of 113 seats in the country’s national parliament, giving the “opposition” Democratic Progressive Party control of the parliament for the first time in the country’s history. Taiwanese voters also elected Tsai, a DPP president. The DPP and smaller, like-minded parties, as opposed to the KMT and its allies, generally believe that Taiwan is de facto independent, and they eschew the KMT’s conciliatory approach to Beijing, preferring an approach that is more cautiously antagonistic. Given that younger voters feel little to no connection with mainland China, a more independence-minded politics is likely to gain ground in coming years.

This is a movement the United States should support. There are economic reasons, certainly: Taiwan occupies an integral place in the global technology supply chain, for example. But, more important, Taiwan is a country of freedom-loving people who are governed by legitimately elected representatives, who operate a free press, and who seek to work amicably with a community of international partners. China is a large, sprawling, complex country, in which many people are flourishing economically; but it is ruled by a one-party dictatorship that seeks to maintain — and is presently working to consolidate — power. The contrast between the two countries is perhaps most visible at the entrance to Taipei 101, the tallest skyscraper in Taiwan and formerly the tallest building in the world: Visitors will see Falun Gong adherents practicing their religion openly and protesting the Chinese government. But just 110 miles to the west, across the Taiwan Strait, Falun Gong practitioners are imprisoned and used to source a state-run organ-trafficking trade."

National Review: Donald Trump’s Taiwan Call: An Opportunity, Not a Crisis

National Review: Donald Trump’s Taiwan Call: An Opportunity, Not a Crisis


It is a telling comment on America’s political Left that they have reacted more strongly to Donald Trump’s potentially “undiplomatic” phone call to the head of a vibrant democracy than to the regime in Beijing trying to crush that democracy. Visitors to Taiwan will find a fairly elected president, a vigorous legislature, an open press, religious freedom, the fifth-largest economy in Asia, and a unique culture that straddles East and West. A little over 100 miles to the west, visitors will find a one-party dictatorship, directly descended from the terrors of Chairman Mao, that “disappears” political dissidents and harvests the organs of Falun Gong adherents.

But the latter claims sovereignty over the former. According to the government in Beijing, Taiwan does not have a “president” or a “legislature.” China has never recognized Taiwan’s independence, and still harbors hopes of bringing the island back under Beijing’s rule, under the auspices of its specious “One China” philosophy (to which we have long been opposed; historically, the PRC ought to be considered a province of Taiwan, whose government predates the Communists by nearly four decades). To this end, China exercises significant economic pressure to keep Taiwan dependent on Chinese markets; it exercises diplomatic pressure to keep Taiwan from participation in international bodies such as the United Nations (where even the Palestinian Liberation Organization has observer status); and, if worse comes to worst, it is prepared to deploy the 1,500 short-range ballistic missiles currently pointed at Taiwan. It turns out that, the week before Trump’s phone call, two nuclear-capable Chinese bombers encircled Taiwan during a long-range surveillance mission.

I hope Trump goes even further and travels to Taiwan to meet President Tsai Ing-wen.

Canada to lead NATO Battle Group

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady

O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin prepared a worthy dwelling for your Son, grant, we pray, that, as you preserved her from every stain by virtue of the Death of your Son, which you foresaw, so, through her intercession, we, too, may be cleansed and admitted to your presence. 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 Loretto

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 Mother of God,
pray for us.

Holy Virgin of virgins,
pray for us.

Mother of Christ,
pray for us.

Mother of Divine Grace,
pray for us.

Mother most pure,
pray for us.

Mother most chaste,
pray for us.

Mother inviolate,
pray for us.

Mother undefiled,
pray for us.

Mother most amiable,
pray for us.

Mother most admirable,
pray for us.

Mother of good counsel,
pray for us.

Mother of our Creator,
pray for us.

Mother of our Saviour,
pray for us.

Virgin most prudent,
pray for us.

Virgin most venerable,
pray for us.

Virgin most renowned,
pray for us.

Virgin most powerful,
pray for us.

Virgin most merciful,
pray for us.

Virgin most faithful,
pray for us.

Mirror of justice,
pray for us.

Seat of wisdom,
pray for us.

Cause of our joy,
pray for us.

Spiritual vessel,
pray for us.

Vessel of honour,
pray for us.

Singular vessel of devotion,
pray for us.

Mystical rose,
pray for us.

Tower of David,
pray for us.

Tower of ivory,
pray for us.

House of gold,
pray for us.

Ark of the covenant,
pray for us.

Gate of heaven,
pray for us.

Morning star,
pray for us.

Health of the sick,
pray for us.

Refuge of sinners,
pray for us.

Comforter of the afflicted,
pray for us.

Help of Christians,
pray for us.

Queen of Angels,
pray for us.

Queen of Patriarchs,
pray for us.

Queen of Prophets,
pray for us.

Queen of Apostles,
pray for us.

Queen of Martyrs,
pray for us.

Queen of Confessors,
pray for us.

Queen of Virgins,
pray for us.

Queen of all Saints,
pray for us.

Queen conceived without original sin,
pray for us.

Queen assumed into heaven,
pray for us.

Queen of the most holy Rosary,
pray for us.

Queen of Peace,
pray for us.

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.

Grant we beseech Thee, O Lord God,
that we, Thy servants,
may enjoy perpetual health of mind and body:
and, by the glorious intercession of the blessed Mary, ever Virgin,
be delivered from present sorrow and enjoy eternal gladness.
Through Christ, our Lord.


Holy Mary, Virgin Conceived Without Sin, pray for us, that by God's grace, we may turn from all that is wrong.

Naturalis Historia| A Dinosaur Tale: A Young-Earth Speaker Takes on the Asteroid Extinction Theory

Naturalis Historia| A Dinosaur Tale: A Young-Earth Speaker Takes on the Asteroid Extinction Theory

"The problem is that Tommy Mitchell lack of specific knowledge of the fossil record has resulted in his presenting a false understanding of fossils to his audience. He hasn’t provided any real answers at all. He trivializes the facts by either not mentioning important ones or by simply getting his facts wrong.

It is not surprising that someone not familiar with the fossil record of dinosaurs might believe that many dinosaur fossils are the direct result of the asteroid impact. But, Tommy Mitchell is an expert in the eyes of the audience and as such he has a responsibility to be better informed than his audience rather than subject to the same misconceptions. He has a responsibility to get his facts right and present his opponents views accurately. Unfortunately, the many errors in his talk can’t be dismissed as just the result of hasty production. Mitchell has been giving this same talk for at least 2 years. Every word in this talk has been carefully constructed to influence they audience toward a particular view of dinosaurs.

Mitchell even makes a plea to his audience to become informed about dinosaurs because he says it is critical that Christians have answers to dinosaur questions. He is worried that our kids will learn answers about dinosaurs from the world rather than the Bible and thus parents need to educate themselves about dinosaurs and teach our kids these answers. He even pulls out a piece of 1 Peter 3:15 to emphasize the importance of understanding dinosaurs, “… be ready always to give an answer….” That is the Answers in Genesis motto. Always have an answer and AiG will provide you with answers to all your dinosaur questions in their books and videos. But what good are answers if they are based on misconception and poor scholarship?"

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Nick Tyrone: How Theresa May could be walking into a trap partly of her own making

Nick Tyrone: How Theresa May could be walking into a trap partly of her own making

"I am now starting to think that Theresa May has begun to play herself into a corner on Brexit, one she better find a way out of quickly. Even though Labour have meanwhile played themselves into the worst position imaginable on the topic of Brexit, others are setting themselves up nicely. As I wrote yesterday, UKIP’s “don’t invoke Article 50” means that if she has any bumps in the road post triggering, she has a party that has set itself up to capitalise. In the Lib Dems and the SNP, you have small and regional but nonetheless significant enough parties who are doom-saying about the whole procedure in advance. Perhaps worst of all for May, there are those in her own party on both Remain and Leave sides of the argument who want to pounce if and when it does not all go to plan.

Theresa May has massive approval ratings at present. But this is partly based on Jeremy Corbyn’s spectacular unpopularity, and partly based on the fact that she has convinced enough people that she is intent on making Brexit happen – and more importantly, that deep down she knows how she will do this, or at least has the talent to pull off a decent post-Brexit settlement. The problem is, it’s clear she’s still trying to get to grips with it all and doesn’t have a clear plan.

Perhaps she figures it all out at some point and comes up with a brilliant plan to make it all work. Perhaps she gets very lucky. But if neither occur, the wrath awaiting her on all sides is not something I would wish upon anyone."

The Guardian| Top Tories: hard Brexit stance could lose us next election

The Guardian| Top Tories: hard Brexit stance could lose us next election

Writing in the Observer, the former Conservative cabinet minister, Dominic Grieve, ex-foreign office minister Alistair Burt and former transport minister Claire Perry, along with education select committee chair Neil Carmichael and Bath MP Ben Howlett, say the Richmond outcome must serve as a wake-up call to the prime minister.

“The Conservative party needs to be alert that there is a moderate core of Conservative voters, who voted Remain, and who want to hear the Conservative government speaking above the noise of the Brexiters,” they say. “They do not want the Conservative party to be Ukip-lite, nor to hear that their desire for a negotiated Brexit … is somehow an attempt to delay or simply an expression of Remoaning.

“They want the Conservative leadership to speak for them, too, and Richmond may be a reminder that their votes have another destination if we don’t get this right. That moderate voice is crucial for the party to keep the votes of the middle ground who could lose the Conservative party the next election if they take their votes elsewhere.”

Moderate Tories (like me) should not be taken for granted by Theresa May.

Trump's Policy on Syria is basically the same as Obama's Failed Policy

The Henry Jackson Society|Analysis: ‘Trump Might Continue Obama’s Dangerous Syria Policy’

by Kyle Orton

"Which leaves the apparent dichotomy between IS and Assad. Put aside that Assad provided shelter, training camps, logistical and other support for IS during the entire time Western forces were present in Iraq. Put aside, too, how many foreign fighters arrived at Damascus International Airport and were then moved by Assad’s military-intelligence service to IS safe-houses overseen by this same intelligence apparatus in eastern Syria, before being set loose as suicide bombers on Iraq. It will never be possible to calculate how many hundreds of Western soldiers and thousands of Iraqi civilians would now be alive but for Assad’s support for IS. This wasn’t restricted to Iraq, either. U.S. courts found Assad liable for IS’s regional terrorism in the middle of the last decade.

What has Assad done to counter IS since it emerged in Syria? Very little. Assad said the opposition were terrorists, and then worked very hard to make it so. At the beginning of the uprising, the release of waves of Islamist prisoners was intended to stain a peaceful opposition with sectarianism and violence. “The regime did not just open the door to the prisons and let these extremists out, it facilitated them in their … creation of armed brigades,” as one defector explained. Among those freed at this early stage was Amr al-Absi (Abu al-Atheer), one of IS’s most senior leaders and a crucial actor in the formation of the caliphate.

For an entire year after IS began seizing territory, Assad left them alone, despite his entire war strategy by that point being built around using airstrikes to make life in rebel-held areas unliveable so that no attractive alternative government took hold to which people could defect. It’s not difficult to understand why Assad allowed IS to remain and expand: “letting black-clad terrorists run around … crucifying and beheading people, made for great propaganda,” as Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan write in ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror. During the 2014 rebel offensive against IS, Assad bombed the rebels. That summer, the regime and IS assaulted the rebels in tandem in Aleppo. In June 2015, during a replay of the joint assault on Aleppo, the U.S. Embassy in Syria protested that Assad was “aiding extremists against [the] Syrian population” and not only avoiding IS “but actively seeking to bolster their position”. This had been happening for some time, but, as a rebel spokesman noted, “It was never this blatant”."

Trump will do what Obama is doing; letting Assad and the Russians fight the rebels, while leaving ISIS well alone.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Enhanced Forward Presence

The Guardian: UK defence secretary tells US only Nato can deter Russian threat

The Guardian: UK defence secretary tells US only Nato can deter Russian threat

British defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon, making the first trip across the Atlantic by a UK cabinet minister since Donald Trump won the election, told the incoming administration that Russia presented a real threat that only Nato could deter.

Trump on the campaign trail repeatedly spoke warmly about a need for increased dialogue with Russian president Vladimir Putin while questioning the basic tenets of the Nato alliance, in particular that an attack on one constitutes an attack on all.

Such comments created alarm among Nato members, particularly in the Baltic states, who, even though Nato members, fear Russia might seek to destabilise them.

Fallon urged the Trump administration not to retreat into isolationism, one of the populist threads during his campaign. “First, it is important that America remains an outward-looking nation,” Fallon told the conference.

The defence secretary’s speech aimed to balance establishing a rapport with Trump’s administration while sending a message that the UK regards Nato as the cornerstone of European defence and concerns over Russia.

He told the conference that Nato countries are in a “strategic competition” with Russia.

Fallon said: “Russia’s actions in Crimea and Ukraine have tested the alliance. You only have to visit Nato’s eastern flank to understand the acute sense of vulnerability that abounds. There’s no point pretending this is business as usual. Dialogue with Russia is useful. But deterrence is essential.

The Feast of Saint John of Damascus

Grant, we pray, O Lord, that we may be helped by the prayers of the Priest Saint John Damascene, so that the true faith, which he excelled in teaching, may always be our light and our strength. 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 John of Damascus, pray for us, for all theologians and for peace in Syria.

The Feast of Saint Barbara

Oh God, who among the other miracles of Your power, have given the victory of martyrdom, grant, we beseech You, that we, who are celebrating the heavenly blessed Saint Barbara, Your Virgin and Martyr, may by her example draw nearer to you, Amen.

Saint Barbara, your courage is much stronger than the forces of hurricanes and the power of lightening. Be always by our side so that we, like you, may face all storms, wars, trials and tribulations with the same fortitude with which you faced yours. O Beautiful Maiden once imprisoned in a high tower, protect us from the lightning and fire that rages in the sky and the discord of war. Keep us alert and protect us from the dangers that surround us. Holy Mary Mother of Jesus intercessor for us all; we pray to assure receiving of the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist at the hour of our death. Through Jesus Christ Our Lord, Amen

Saint Barbara, pray for us, that we may love Christ and be faithful to Him unto death.

The Weekly Standard: Cotton Commends Trump for Talking to Taiwan's President

The Weekly Standard: Cotton Commends Trump for Talking to Taiwan's President

Tom Cotton, a Republican senator from Arkansas, issued a statement Friday evening praising Trump for speaking to Taiwan's president. "America's policy toward Taiwan is governed by the Taiwan Relations Act, under which we maintain close ties with Taiwan and support its democratic system," Cotton said. "I commend President-elect Trump for his conversation with President Tsai Ing-wen, which reaffirms our commitment to the only democracy on Chinese soil. I have met with President Tsai twice and I'm confident she expressed to the president-elect the same desire for closer relations with the United States."

It's time western leaders put pressure on China to recognize the right of the Taiwanese people to determine their own future. While there is a question about motives, Trump's call to the Taiwan president is a positive step forward and probably the best thing he is done since being elected.| Richmond byelection shock: Theresa May’s Brexit weakness revealed| Richmond byelection shock: Theresa May’s Brexit weakness revealed

by Ian Dunt

"But despite these caveats, the Richmond result does say something important about Brexit. It shows that while Leave won in June, there is outrage from many Remainers at the type of Brexit which is being pursued. A marginal vote has been interpreted in the most radical possible manner, not just by taking us out the EU, but the single market and customs union too. A more modest Brexit proposal would be less likely to stoke anger from voters in places like Richmond.

May has pursued this hard line not out of strength but weakness. She could have offered a more limited proposal, fulfilling the Brexit mandate but trying not to alienate the 16 million Remain voters in the country. Instead, she has been besieged by hard Brexiters in the Tory party, Ukip and the press. She is driving Britain towards a cliff edge, with a chaotic pull-out in two years expected to do untold economic damage to the UK. Until then, she will find herself at the mercy of European negotiators during Article 50 talks. They hold several key advantages over the UK, in terms of the timetable, the consequences of failure, negotiating capacity, and economic clout. Her only contribution to this process was a conference speech in October which limited her room to manoeuvre in Brussels in exchange for short term support from her own party.

May is weak in parliament, weak in the country and weak in Europe. She is weak everywhere. Her response to Goldsmith’s decision to trigger the byelection was to not stand anyone against him. That in itself was a startling admission of vulnerability. Not only did she have to allow a suspension of collective Cabinet responsibility over Heathrow but she had to swallow Goldsmith’s vanity byelection, and then allow him to run unopposed. And she still lost. Her wafer-thin majority has been sliced down by two."

Getting Stronger

No Trace of Christmas? by Christoph Dohmen

Christoph Dohmen, translated by Linda M. Maloney, No Trace of Christmas?: Discovering Advent in the Old Testament, 1998 Liturgical Press, Minnesota

An appropriate topic for Advent season, this book surveys the Old Testament background of the Nativity, showing the typological shadows of the Christmas story. This is a book I expected to enjoy and is certainly a subject that would be of great value for many lay Catholics. However, I found myself rather disappointed with it.

You can tell this book is a translation from German as the phrasing of many sentences is very clumsy and awkward. At times it feels a little too preachy in tone, coming across like a set of printed homilies rather than a book of Old Testament introduction. I don't think he explains the Old Testament material well and could have spent more time putting it into context for the benefit of readers whose Bible knowledge is limited. He tended to jump too quickly from the Old Testament texts to his own theological interpretations and conclusions.

There is a somewhat problematic passage on page 39, where our author says that the shepherds who witnessed the Nativity were not to become Christians, but to remain in their Judaism. It seems bizarrely anachronistic to talk about people becoming Christians before Christ's ministry had even begun. Dohmen seems to be taking the view commonly held among modern Catholic theologians that because the covenant with Israel is eternal, Jews have no need to convert to the Christian faith. The problem with this view is that Jesus' ministry was directed to the Jews and Paul and the Church began with the Jews. Central to Jesus' ministry was a call to conversion directed at the Jewish people. To abandon this call to the Jews to believe in Christ is to nullify the very heart of the New Testament's message.

The Feast of Saint Francis Xavier

O God, who through the preaching of Saint Francis Xavier won many peoples to yourself, grant that the hearts of the faithful may burn with the same zeal for the faith and that Holy Church may everywhere rejoice in an abundance of offspring. 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 St. Francis Xavier

Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, 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 Ghost,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God,
Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Virgin Mother of God,
Pray for us.
Saint Ignatius, founder of the Society of Jesus,
Pray for us.
Saint Francis Xavier, the glory and second pillar of that holy Institute, etc.
Apostle of the Indies and Japan,
Legate of the Holy Apostolic See,
Preacher of the truth and doctor of the nations,
Vessel of election, to carry the Name of Jesus Christ to the kings of the earth,
Shining light to those who sat in the shadow of death,
Full of burning zeal for the glory of God,
Unwearied propagator of the Christian Faith,
Most watchful shepherd of souls,
Most constant meditator on Divine things,
Most faithful follower of Jesus Christ,
Most ardent lover of evangelical poverty,
Most perfect observer of religious obedience,
Thou who didst burn with the fire of Divine Love,
Who didst generously despise all earthly things,
Most able guide in the way of perfection,
Model of apostolic men,
Model of all virtues,
Light of infidels and master of the faithful,
Angel in life and manners,
Patriarch in affection for and care of God's people,
Prophet mighty in word and works,
Whom all nations and the Church have with one voice associated
with the glorious choir of Apostles,
Who wast adorned with the crown of virgins,
Who didst aspire to the palm of martyrs,
Confessor in virtue and profession of life,
In whom we reverence, through the Divine Goodness, the merits of all Saints,
Whom the winds and the sea obeyed,
Who didst take by assault the cities that had revolted from Jesus Christ,
Who wast the terror of the armies of infidels,
Scourge of demons and destroyer of idols,
Powerful defense against shipwreck,
Father of the poor and refuge of the miserable,
Sight to the blind and strength to the lame,
Protector in time of war , famine, and plague, Wonderful worker of miracles,
Who wast endued with the gift of tongues,
Who wast endued with the wondrous power of raising the dead,
Resounding trumpet of the Holy Ghost,
Light and glory of the East,
Through the cross, which thou didst so often raise among the Gentiles,

Saint Francis Xavier,
we beseech thee, hear us.
Through the Faith, which thou didst so marvelously propagate,
we beseech thee, hear us.
Through thy miracles and prophecies, etc.
Through the perils and shipwrecks which thou didst endure,
Through the pains and labors, in the midst of which
thou didst so ardently exclaim, "Still more! Still more!"
Through thy Heavenly raptures, in the midst of which thou didst
so fervently exclaim, "Enough, enough, Lord, enough!"
Through the glory and happiness which now thou dost enjoy in Heaven,

Friend of the Heavenly Bridegroom,
intercede for us.
Blessed Francis Xavier, beloved of God and men,
intercede 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.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
V. Pray for us, Saint Francis Xavier,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let Us Pray.

O God, Who by the preaching and miracles of blessed Francis
wast pleased to add to Thy Church the nations of the Indies,
mercifully grant that we who venerate his glorious merits
may imitate his virtues, through Our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son,
Who with Thee and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth,
one God, world without end. R. Amen.

Saint Francis Xavier, pray for us and for the continued growth of the Church in Asia.