'This noble and elegant site
is both a tribute to a family's
history, and to a national
heritage.' -Daniel J. Cassidy
Swifter far than summer's flight --
Swifter far than youth's delight --
Swifter far than happy night,
Art thou come and gone --
As the earth when leaves are dead,
As the night when sleep is sped,
As the heart when joy is fled,
I am left lone, alone.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
'The Last Walk' by Greg Benton, 2010
Let us then move
in discharge of
our mission and
and nothing else.
Sir Winston Churchill
Stanmer Churchyard, Sussex
In the midst of life we are in death:
of whom may we seek for succour,
but of thee, O Lord, who for our sins
art justly displeased?
Yet, O Lord God most holy,
O Lord most mighty, O holy and
most merciful Saviour, deliver us not
into the bitter pains of eternal death.
Burial Office, The Book of Common Prayer
Dixi, custodiam. Psalm xxxix.
LORD, let me know mine end,
and the number of my days; *
that I may be certified
how long I have to live.
Behold, thou hast made my
days as it were a span long,
and mine age is even as
nothing in respect of thee; *
and verily every man living
is altogether vanity.
For man walketh in a vain
shadow, and disquieteth
himself in vain; * he heapeth
up riches, and cannot tell
who shall gather them.
And now, Lord, what is my
hope? * truly my hope is even
Deliver me from all mine
offences; * and make me not
a rebuke unto the foolish.
When thou with rebukes dost
chasten man for sin, thou
makest his beauty to consume
away, like as it were a moth
fretting a garment: *
every man therefore is but
Hear my prayer, O Lord,
and with thine ears consider
my calling; * hold not thy
peace at my tears;
For I am a stranger with thee,
and a sojourner, * as all my
O spare me a little, that I
may recover my strength, *
before I go hence, and be no
JESUS said, Let not your
heart be troubled: ye believe
believe also in me. In my
Father's house are many
if it were not so, I would have
told you. I go to prepare a
place for you.
And if I go and prepare a
place for you, I will come again,
and receive you unto myself;
that where I am, there ye may
John xiv. 1.
Come, ye blessed children of
receive the kingdom prepared
for you from
the beginning of the
Honour all men.
Honour the King.
Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent
To blow up King and Parliament.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow;
By God's providence he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
' 'Playing With Fire'
The Lewes Borough Bonfire Society, Sussex
The infamous 'Gunpowder Plot', 5th November 1605, was where a remnant of English
Catholics led by Yorkshireman, Guy Fawkes,attempted to blow up the Parliament buildings,
as well as all those inhabiting same, i.e., the Commons, the Lords, and any Royal
in attendance, Protestants all.
Put in contemporary terms, the objective of Guy and Associates was
not all that dissimilar to the tactics used by terrorists today and foiled
by security; 9/11 being the mother of all 'gunpowder plots', the
London tube bombing, train massacre in Spain, and bombing in Bali
representing those others that have succeeded. The most recent attack
on the Canadian Parliament by a crazed jihadist who killed a Canadian
soldier in the process is perhaps a more poignant reminder of the same.
Whilst the murderous strategy in the name of religion is the same,
that is where the analogy mostly ends for, whilst ISIS and their associates
are bent on destroying western civilisation and imposing their will of a
Islamic Caliphate on the whole world, Guy's intent was to destroy the
'new world order' of the Protestant 'usurpers' of the realm and restore
England to the Catholic country it was before Henry the 8th's tyranny
and Elizabeth 1st's 'compromise'.
A sympathetic view, if there can be one for Mr. Fawkes, is that
with the Catholic faith and Church officially banned after 1400 years
or so. many faithful adherents, Magna Carta notwithstanding, and
including Catholic priests, were hunted down, tortured and 'executed,
whilst others were put in prison and had their property 'expropriated'.
All this, of course, followed on the heels of the bloody tyranny that
was shed by Queens and their governments, both Catholic and Protestant.
King James the 1st of England, in spite of the zealotry to rid the
country of Catholic leftovers, kept some particularly powerful
Catholics at HM service. I give you the times.
The view of the Protestant establishment since has essentially been
one of 'can't we all just get along' (Catholics excluded)? It wasn't
until the 19th century that 'being Catholic' in England was no longer
illegal, i.e., sort of tolerated; although, as is well-known, the law through
the Act of Settlement, 1701, now under consideration, still prohibits anyone
who claims the Catholic faith from ascending the throne.
The reigning Queen's grandson, Peter Phillips, son of the Princess
Royal, would have been forced to renounce his place in the line to the throne
if Miss Autumn Kelly, his Irish-Canadian Catholic fiancée had not agreed to
renounce the Catholic faith. That they also already lived together, one supposes, is irrelevant;
as it also would be if she were a Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or Wiccan.
There is still much indignant sniffing over former PM Anthony Blair and
his apparent converting from the C of E to the Catholic Church.
It's worse than being non-U! Better to be a lukewarm, 'hatched, matched
and dispatched', nominal Protestant than a devout and practicing Catholic,
aka, a papist.
Like most things in England's history, matters 'religious' are entwined
with matters 'political' and 'economic'. The 'spin' of the Protestant
is the claim that England shall not tolerate any foreign rule, spiritual
or temporal, from Rome, i.e., the Pope. Given that the actual number
of practicing, church-going Protestants in England has diminished to
a rump of the population, this anti-Papal sentiment is near-mute and
seems more limited to the echoes of Northern Ireland where, perhaps
ironically, but wisely, the Gunpowder Plot is not commemorated.
England is no longer a 'Christian' country in the way that religion
dominated state and cultural affairs in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Still, it is a heterodox Protestant 'culture' in much the same way
as Italy is a heterodox Catholic culture. It has often been said
that an English gentleman does not take religion too seriously but
then the same could easily have been said of the English bishops
in the 18th century where the 'Lord' of the Church often took a back
seat to the Lord of the palace and the obligations of the 'hunt'.
When a very young Prince William turned to Diana, his mother,
during the public viewing of his 'filling in the forms' to enter
Eton, and asked, 'What religion are we?', the state of the depth
of religious identity was made all-too-clear. Of course, entering
many an Anglican church might well cause the visitor to ask
the same question.
One wonders if most or any of those who will march on the 5th of
November to set off bonfires and fireworks really care about the origin
of the 'celebration' or even know what it's all about. Like a lot of things
'religious' in our culture, Bonfire Night is now merely all about the
thrill of the fire, the cameraderie, the partying and not much more.
The 'passion', i.e., hatred or loyalty, for some principle or cause is largely
Of course, it is not generally 'done' for English people to march about
in such a manner that seems more the habit of peoples from less-
confident cultures. I think that it was Orwell who commented that
the sight of Nazis marching through the streets of London would
have been seen as silly and the cause of enormous amusement
There remains to this day, however, a time to march and a time to sit still.
By all accounts, the time to march for Britons, may well have come...
but will Britons stand? As Mark Steyn reminds us in his new book
The Undocumented Mark Steyn, the 'hour is getting late'.
The destiny of England, and all of Britain, is approaching a crucible
of a threat to British life and institutions, more than anything
those much-maligned Popes were accused of being, and most of
that was invented rubbish anyway.
An earlier generation was raised to understand 'Great Britain' to be just that:
Britain and Great. Be British. Buy British.
When one spoke of Europe, that did not include Great Britain. Europe
was the 'Continent'. So, while strictly speaking Britain was regarded
as geographically a part of Europe...European it was not and still is not.
There is very little that British culture, it's laws, institutions, and general
way of life have in common with most of the states of the European
Union whose existence as states are dwarfed by the enormous
development through centuries that is Great Britain, it's Law and
Freedom all passed on to it's former Empire and Commonwealth.
New Labour's mission to transform Britain into something foreign
can be seen in every place.
The idiocy of surrendering British life, democratic sovereignty and
the supremacy of Parliament and the Common Law, to Brussels and
the goofy bureaucracy of the European Union would achieve that which
even Guy Fawkes never intended. It is utterly incredible that Britain
should even consider it let alone fall into it. More about this
can be found here.
Could Britons permit the erosion of the very foundation of their
way of life to accomplish through politicians that which the
Armada from Spain could not?
Even Sir Francis Drake, although he reportedly insisted upon finishing
his game of bowls in Plymouth, eventually stood up and resisted
the threat; as did, in more recent times, the generation that, at first
ignored Mr. Hitler, then, after waking up, gave all they had to
save Britain, home and loved ones dear.
One Catholic blogger has suggested that Catholic families in Britain observe
the 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot on 5th November in this way:
'...get the baking enthusiasts in your family (i.e. the girls) to make a House of
Parliament out of gingerbread... Find pictures of these exquisite gothic (sic)
buildings on the Internet, and make the best copy you can, lovingly adding details
with icing, perhaps even forming a tiny King James I out of marzipan.
Unveil it at the outset of tonight's family dinner-or at a gathering of friends.
As dinner unfolds, tell the story of Guy Fawkes and his friendsâ€”then for dessert
take the gingerbread parliament outside, stuff it with M-80 fireworks,
and blow it all to hell.'
The time might be better put to use if all Britons, whatever their religious
attachment, joined together to light a fire under the nation's politicians
so that Britons never, never, never shall be slaves of anybody, but
especially today of foreign rule through the European Union.
November, 2007, updated 30 November 2014
THE PLOT THICKENS.
Talitha cumi - Rise, little girl
The Living & The Dead
All Souls Day
With the saints give rest,
to the soul of Thy servant
where sickness and sorrow
are no more, neither sighing,
but life everlasting.
IN the midst of life we are in death:
of whom may we seek for succour,
but of thee, O Lord, who for our sins
art justly displeased?
'AT THE GRAVE'
for the Burial of the Dead
Book of Common Prayer
He who believes in me,
but he were dead, yet shall he live.
Jesus of Nazareth
For several weeks to now, stores have been promoting their 'Hallowe'en
Products'. Masks, costumes, plastic Jack o' lanterns and skeletons
to serve the needs of a public that, in Canada, is the most lucrative
commercial event next to Christmas. All this in addition to the sale
of real pumpkins to be carved out with a frightening 'face' and
lit with a candle.
On Hallowe'en, there is the regular, what we used to call 'shelling out',
(now more commonly called 'trick or treat') where children go from
door to door in an exercise that, were it not for the collectively agreed
'contract' would plainly be regarded as extortion. The basic premise
of the Hallowe'en collective agreement is that when a kid dressed up
in a costume yells at the door, the inhabitant willingly gives the urchin
some kind of 'pay off' in the form of a sweet treat. If the house-dweller
is not forthcoming, he may be subjected to foul play from the caller.
Occasionally, a house gets 'soaped' or a pumpkin smashed, but this
is not usually done by the little ones seeking treats but generally by
bored adolescents who take pleasure in trashing things.
It would be a safe guess that the vast majority of these children
and their parents don't have a clue as to the origin of the event;
much like Christmas has become in our culture. They wouldn't
know a 'hallow' from an 'e'en' just as they little know a 'Christ'
from a 'mas'.
Hallowe'en has joined the fantasy world of popular culture; disconnected
from it's Christian roots (as well as from what used to be called an
'education'), it has become embued with shallow sentimentalism
and the craving for material pleasure or gain. That it is otherwise
harmless fun, of course, is obvious for most. For some, however
the elements related to the pagan, occult observances that lay underneath
much of 'Hallowe'en' is something of a danger to the vulnerable
and curious. For the Christian, All Hallows and All Souls have their
'inspiration' within the context of all that is pure and holy, is anything
but fun but has a great deal to do with our destiny.
By contrast, in some European countries, families still visit the graves
of their dead and lay flowers. In other places, like Mexico, this week's
commemoration of 'All Saints' (Hallows) and All Souls Days is the
'Day of the Dead' (DÃa de los Muertos), a mixture of pagan and
Christian belief, and so the place to go is where
the 'Dead' are buried. Hymns, chants, songs, prayers, flowers, and
the burning of lights are all part of what becomes a festive occasion
with the belief in life beyond the grave as well as some superstition.
Death comes to us all, but not all of us will either acknowledge that
fact or try to come to terms with it. It is remarkable the great
number of people who, having little or no faith, seem to cling
to an almost pagan notion of life past death with the emphasis
being more to bring comfort to the self than hope to the departed.
The average 'funeral' for the dead these days seems more like
a form of group therapy mixed with a dash of new age 'spirituality';
Perhaps some, kind 'symbolic' prayers, if any, but loads of emotion.
In many cases, the body of the loved one, is neither present nor seen;
having been either cremated to ashes beforehand and scattered
to the wind (or to be latterly placed on a mantle), or placed
in a marked spot that will, for many, never be visited.
Unlike the burial offices of the Church, death itself, as in pop
Hallowe'en, is not addressed, but masked, hidden and avoided.
Even the most fervent atheists seem inclined to the observance
of the 'invention of death'.
Having presided over hundreds of funerals, one is exposed to myriad
differences in people's attitudes towards grief, dying and death.
Invariably, I have found that those for whom death is an
accepted part of paradoxical life and who bring to it an understanding
in faith, not only have a firmer hope for the blessing of eternal
life in the world to come, but a deeper conviction for this life.
The old prayer for a 'happy death' implies a confidence
in the promises of Christ, i.e., 'he who believes in me, but he
were dead, yet shall he live' and an equally firm acceptance
of the reality and fear of 'Hell'. It is this same faith that brings
so much satisfaction in the real celebrations of All Saints and All Souls,
and that is the real meaning of Hallowe'en.
The custom of creating Jack O'Lanterns, first from turnips and
then pumpkins, seems to have come from Ireland. These, as well
as the tradition of wearing a 'scary' costume, were intended to
out-do evil in scariness, i.e., keep the devils away. Somehow,
it's got turned around toward keeping the angels away!
In the context of the Christian life, the confrontation with life and death
is one that is at the very heart of the gospel. 'God so loved the world
that He gave His only-begotten Son, to the end that all who believe
in Him, shall not perish, but have eternal life'. (Jn 2.16) That's sort of
Christmas, Easter and all the stuff in-between all wrapped together.
All Saints Day is a focus on the mystery and holiness of life in, with
and for God where death can claim no victory but is relegated to it's
shadowy place whilst the Saints live forever in the beatific presence
of God. A 'Saint' formally is one whose life was so filled with
faith in and devotion to Christ that they lived either to die or with
such sacrifice that God showered them with grace. Thousands
have died as martyrs from the very beginning of the Church and
sadly continue to do so today in some parts of the world. The
Saints remind us of the deep purpose for living, i.e., to live in
communion with God now and forever. God is the beginning
and the end of all life and the beginning and hopeful end for
our lives. All Saints is a celebration of the promise of eternal light
and love for all those who love God.
For those among us whose notion of life is that it ends at
death, that may well be true....for them. A life estranged from
the love of God leads to death...perhaps an early one in the
soul. Hell is life within death...utterly devoid of light and love.
Some people don't even want to think about such a condition
and many deny the existence of it at all...along with no Satan.
They may acknowledge a kind of 'evil' in the world but it is
mostly defined by their own limited sensibilities rather than
as the powerful, worldly opposition of all things to God.
For those of us of faith, leading a good and holy life in
friendship with God does not mean that we are not tempted
or surrounded by evil and all it's clever tricks, but that
having put on the whole armour of God, in spite of all
the 'bad' that comes our way, we remains constant...we
stay on course by putting away our sins and refreshing
The observance of All Soul's Day, the day after All Hallows,
is in a variety of forms from east to west, also from antiquity.
It is the commemoration of 'the faithful departed', i.e., the dead
whose lives await their final end with God and all the saints in heaven.
The basis of the celebration is intercessory prayer, i.e., asking
God to forgive the sins of those departed, to bless them and make
them pure and holy, that they may know Christ in the fullness
Some Protestants would protest such a notion as this (and with
the corruptions of the middle ages clouding the issue it is somewhat
understandable) but this is a very early part of the Church's tradition
even preceding the written scriptures. The Church, the community
of the faithful prays for all in their need. We pray for each other,
for those we don't know, for those in any sort of condition...including
the departed condtion. One could only accept this, of course, if one
also believes in a manner of existence beyond the material world.
We believe that the departed are either a. with God (as saint) or
b. without God (damned) or c. awaiting God. (in purgatory).
Wash me I will be whiter than snow.
All prayer is communion with God. Jesus promised that if we ask
in faith God will respond in grace and according to His will.
The will of God is that no one should die forever, (perish) but live.
That's a good reason to appeal on behalf of those whom we no
longer see but are in another realm. Besides, it goes both ways.
We believe that the saints and many of our departed loved ones
are praying for us! The 'work' of God is itself prayer...in heaven
and on earth. When we speak with heaven through the Holy Spirit,
heaven also speaks with us, in the depths of our souls, through
the Holy Spirit. That is why we communicate with the known
saints of heaven. They're alive. We are not schizophrenics
falling about with delusional chatter; although, to an unbeliever
it might well seem the same. Any prayer, formal, informal,
off the cuff, or quietly at bedside, when offered by a contrite
and earnest soul in the name of God...is heard.
Sometimes I am asked if we are able to communicate with 'the dead'.
There are many charlatans making a living off their 'snake oil' of
claiming to communicate with the souls of people's loved ones;
especially the often deeply vulnerable and those who, even years
after the death, are riddled with grief. Contacting spirits comes
with accepting Visa, Amex, Mastercard, and the like.
If these people do contact a 'spirit', outside of prayer, outside
of God and the Name of God...then whatever it is they are talking
to isn't of God and if isn't of God then it belongs to something else:
something very dark.
When our loved ones die, all the love and grace marking their
soul does not die but lives. Love never dies. That is why we
can continue to love those whom we no longer see and they,
if through the Holy Spirit, continue to love us. We surrender
the souls of the departed from earth to God at the funeral.
Our ability to communicate to that world beyond us can only
happen through the power of that is that world: God.
There is no direct access in communication with the departed.
Everything must go through God to whom those souls belong
alone and are detached from this world.
It is possible for a living soul to communicate with us but
only by and through God and the Holy Spirit that is God.
Our conversations with souls and saints are the same as those
we have with Christ in whom we are able to have such communion.
The language is that of grace...where the needs be no translation.
The treats of faith are true and everlasting.
The tricks of the evil one are lies that lead to corruption and death.
originally posted by G.B. 2007