Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Seeing with the Eyes of Faith, a ghostly Revelation at Rockfield, Prayer for Tuesday of Holy Week

The Cwm , here to the north of Monmouth, the Jesuit Missionary Priests had their headquarters, the College of St Francis Xavier. The documents raided from there after the death of Fr David in 1679 are in the Herefordshire County Records Office.
Below :Two photos of St Cenedlon's Church, Rockfield
Below:The Tombstone of St David Lewis 'Father of the Poor' hung 1697 outside the door of the Priory Church of Our Lady (St Mary) at Usk.

I remember when I was working for a university exam once, the lecturer asking us to think of the expression 'the mind's eye', something which I found quite difficult to think of. If you think of it as seeing with the eyes of faith it is easier, because it is actually to see, with God's help 'into the life of things'.Tennyson mentions this in his poem 'Morte d'Arthur' (The Death of Arthur) and also mentions that the key to real 'seeing with faith' is prayer.Prayer is always comforting 'plugs you in to God', bringing security in a crazy world.

‘The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfils himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.
Comfort thyself: what comfort is in me?
I have lived my life, and that which I have done
May He within himself make pure! but thou,
If thou shouldst never see my face again,
Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice
Rise like a fountain for me night and day.
For what are men better than sheep or goats
That nourish a blind life within the brain,
If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer
Both for themselves and those who call them friend?
For so the whole round earth is every way
Bound by gold chains about the feet of God.

I love these words, because prayer keeps you 'in tune' with God. We, as human beings are religious beings. we belong to another order, another dimension. we have not fixed home forever on this earth, no abiding city, and even in the most insignificant parts of our life, we actually belong to another world. What we see here, feel here ,touch here, is not all there is.Sister Mary David Totah writes 'Prayer is born of the conviction that the world we live in is not two dimensional; it is born of he conviction that we are surrounded by an invisible world, that God is our supreme reality and deepest truth.There is something of eternity in us, we have the capacity for God. We have a capacity to know God and receive his revelation, because we are made of the image of God and because God has revealed himself to us in the image of our Lord Jesus Christ',crucified, resurrected and present in the Eucharist until the End of Time. These things are revealed to us if our eyes are opened and we don't vew the world as a 'blind life within the brain', that we truly see what is there, the young child,the baby the young mother or father in the face of an elderly person.The essence is the same.

St Cenedlon's Church-my private encounter with the Communion of Saintsa ghostly experience!

I thought I would mention my trip to St Cenedlon's Church at Rockfield (Llanoronwy) near Monmouth in association with these sentiments. The biggest prayer for me has always been the Mass.I went to Mass for some years before I saw and felt with the eyes and feelings of faith, that the Church never prays alone. Present there with us were the souls of the Faithful Departed all come to the food of the Cross forever, gathered and taught by the heirs of Christ and St Pater. However my own prayers have always been haphazard. I tend to talk to God informally like Noah.Like: 'Father in Heaven, please can you do something about my knee-it's really painful' or 'Father in Heaven,please help my son do well in his exam, keep him confident and focused'. We have after all been told by Christ himself to ask and it shall be given unto us.Further Jesus said 'Knock and it shall be opened to you! And hey, that is where it's really at. That door opening. He said 'Seek and your shall find'.Sometimes, though, the Holy Spirit finds you!!!

I started to write my book (sounds grand that, but what I mean is I was gathering information for my book which will be a Catholic history of Monmouthshire.) During the latter part o the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries many laws were passed against Catholics in the UK. Henry VIII had demanded an annulment for his thirty five year old marriage to Catherine of Aragon (daughter of he King and Queen of Spain)with whom he had a daughter because his new love would not have an affair with him, as he had with her sister and had insisted on being Queen.ThePope would not agree and what happened is history. Many people died and all sorts of misery ensued. A new church was brought into being by Henry, his own church and people were made to join it or face heavy fines. Clergy who would not capitulate were simply martyred-perhaps being closer to wat was at stake. Things reached painful regions when priests and those who helped them were martyred. Sons of British Catholics trained in Rome and Douai came home and during the times of the lies of Titus Oates were hung drawn and quartered for being 'spies'.

Housewives who sheltered priests were executed too, like St Margaret Clitherow of York were martyred, placed under a heavy door with stones placed on the door until she was crushed to death. Her 'crime' was to hide a priest. It is no wonder the church had to go underground and at times headed by hotheads and unwise people like those of the Gunpowder Plot, which many believe was known about for some time, but allowed to go ahead in order to panic people further against Catholics. Indeed the great families who had benefited from the proceeds of Church property and land would go to some length to keep it.Anyway here are the Penal Laws:-

1559, Act of Supremacy: Monarch makes himself supreme governor of Church of England, clergy to take oath of supremacy on pain of deprivation.

1559, Act of Uniformity: imposed Book of Common Prayer, one shilling fine for failure to attend church on Sunday.Monasteries and convents dissolved, religious turned out-some to France, some to starve.

1563, forbidden to defend papal supremacy on pain of Praemunire (forfeiture of property).Priests or reigious efusing to be executed.

1571, treason to call monarch heretic or schismatic, treason to introduce papal bulls.

1581, treason to convert or to be converted to Catholicism, fine of £20 per month for recusancy(ordinary people)

1585, treason for Jesuits or seminary priests to enter the country.Pain of death, hanging drawing and quartering)

1587, suspected recusant who failed to appear for trial incurred guilt.

1593, recusants restricted to within five miles of their homes.

1605, convicted recusants to receive Anglican communion once per annum on pain of fine and eventual forfeiture of property.

1605, recusants barred from office and professions.

1678, recusants barred from parliament.

1692, recusants incur double land tax.

1699, recusants barred from purchasing or inheriting land.

1778, Relief Act: Catholics permitted to own land.

The last is a relief act, which began the restoration of the Church and its people.

In my researches about the recusant period which started with the Martyrdom of the 'Father of the Poor' (Tad ur Oedolion) at Usk I found something rather good in the middle of this horrible time. Anglican priests turned a blind eye to Catholics being secretly buried in Churchyards marked only by the IHS on their gravestones and that there was a general distaste among the ordinary folk in Monmouthshire for what happened to their priests. David Lewis was the son of the formerHeadmaster of Abergavenny School, he was one of the people. the main tormentors, whi had benefited from Church lands were a different class of people, strongly supportive of England and the English systems of government. the great Catholic Monmouthshire families were systematically 'milked of all their assets -but they, (the Herberts (descended from the Earls of Worcester-who lived at Raglan until the Civil War took them to Treowen , the Jones, the Morgans) remained loyal to the Faith to this day.

I heard that several priests had been buried in St Maugham's Church (named for St Mawgan -Celtic monastery of yore) On visiting I contacted the Vicar who was enormously helpful, explaining that Bishop Matthew Pritchard, Vicar Apostolic of the Western Region was buried beneath the altar at Rockfield. Bishop Matthew had a hard life, there is no doubt, scooting along hedgerows at night to his next Christening or marriage or Mass, returning to Perthir House, where he had kin to rest.The house had the advowson of the church (owned it) which was strange-a Catholic family deciding who should be vicar. St Cenedlon's is still a beautiful church near Monmouth. The very kind Churchwardens came specially to show me around and let me in. I found Bishop Matthew's tombstone, beautifully inscribed under the altar and was told there were numerous other buried priests of the recusancy era in the churchyard.I was interested to see he lived until over 80 a record in those days, I thought.

After taking my photos, I knelt to pray and somehow it was brought home to me, that they suffered all sorts of privations, especially in defence of the Eucharist,the lack of tact and wisdom of some people impacting so hard on all Catholics, and the lies of Oates. These men gave their lives in the service or the original church and died unmarked, though I suspect greatly loved . I decided to pray the glorious mysteries of the rosary. The churchwardens had left me alone for a while.

I pray the Glorious Mysteries

I thought, 'Lets do it'.Now I pray with my iPod. Greg and Jennifer Willets of www.rosaryarmy.com have made all four mysteries which you can download from iTunes free. I said out loud, I am praying this rosary in the hope of the Resurrection of all the recusant Priests and those who died for the Faith during the sixteenth,seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and those who helped them. I selected the correct one from the iPod, put my earbuds in and taking the rosary from my pocket, I crossed myself and invoked the Trinity 'In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit' I began and commenced reciting the Apostles' Creed: 'I believe in God, the Father Almighty,Maker of Heaven and earth......'

I began to have a prickling sensation at the back of my head, such as you get when you are being watched. what happened next was far outside the bounds of anything I had experenced before. Curiously I was initially panicked but then relaxed. From every corner of the church seemingly through walls, the floor, ceiling everywhere some strange beings came, all wearing black, old fashioned casssock style garments (though nothing was really detailed about them) They knelt there and took out what I felt might be rosaries as they were using their hands and as the prayer continued ,I felt they prayed with me. They took no notice of me at all (thank heavens!) the only thing I thought was 'Oh well, I better speak out the rosary bit o the prayer said on the Ipod with Jennifer and Greg, or they won't hear it'. It startled me, that I had felt them so real I did this! The prayers and meditation continued Resurrection, Ascension, Pentecost.....I began to feel the person near me had quite a big nose-even though these people were sort of fuzzy with fuzzy faces, I was aware of this one person, kneeling near me. I was nervous the churchwardens would come back, not because I was doing anyting wrong, but because they might think I was a religious maniac, but it is a spiritual act of mercy to pray for te faithful departed, especially for these men. I spoke out the words and there was a peculiar echo to them like a communal whispery echo. I was not afraid, they took no notice and when the final prayers came, which was the 'Memorare' of St Bernard of Clairvaux they simple dissolved again. I stayed there a minute to try to take in what had hapened.

I mentioned it to a spiritual director at a retreat I was on and he said it seemed I had been permitted a glimpse into te Communion of Saints. You know 'You never pray alone-the Communion of Saints will support you in prayer-those who still live and those who await the second coming in heaven. I thanked God for the privilege. I saw them, because I was praying there, they needed my prayers. Since then I pray more especially for the Faithful departed, who have ot departed so far. They are still there with us when we pray, died in the faith, stronger than us. So this Easter, think of them all there-the reality of heaven. This IS my body, Christ's sacrifice on the Cross once and forever.

Problem is then you start thinking, 'Am I good enough? Am I holy enough?' and the answer is 'no'. Yes to 'do you believe the promise of Christ?' no to have you done enough to repent answer for your failings. I try but I am not there yet.My sins are like spam in an inbox. No matter how many I delete, there are always more....Yet I can only try, and ask myself, 'Whyever, did God love me so much, to take my sins on his back and kill them, so that I can join him in heaven? Love so amazing so divine.Wish I was worthier...

Few days later I received an article with a photo of a painting of Bishop Matthew - and his huge nose.....Strange or what? I will post later in the year about another more public revelation in Monmouthshire in the nineteenth century, that of The Blessed Virgin Mary at Capel y ffin. This was never investigated because it was a private revelation accorded a pilgrimage every year on the last Sunday of August.

About Christ:The Prophecy

Forcibly, after sentence, he was taken, and his generation were concerned he was cutt off out of the Land of the Living, at his being struck dead for the disobedience of his people. He was given a grave with the wicked,and his tomb with the rich, although he had done no violence, had spoken no deceit. It was God's good pleasure to rack him with pain, if he gives his life as a Sin-Offering. He will see his offspring and prolong his life, and through Him, The Lord's good pleasure will be done.

After the Ordeal he endured, he will see the Light and be content
By his knowledge, the upright One, my servant, will justify many by taking their gift upon himself.

Hence I shall give him a portion with the many and he will share the booty with the mighty for having exposed himslef to death and for being counted as one of the rebellious, whereas he was bearing the sins of many and interceding for the disobedient.Continued from the Prophet Isaiah.

Madeleine McCann

I am glad the Express have now done the decent thing and apologised to Gerry and Kate McCann for the lurid and completely false claims made about them. they believe she is alive and will be restored to them by Grace of God. Let's all pray for that.

Haut de la Garenne

The digging gows on as the police comile more and more names of people they want to interview both inside and outside Jersey.There comes a point where words actually fail you. They have now broken intoa third chamber and are excavating there and the Cadaver dogs have confirmed a body there too.....requiescant in pacePoor babies.

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