30 years

Today is thirty years since I left my first job as a House Surgeon in south-east England to become a House Physician in the north-west.

I can vividly remember looking up the dose of paracetamol for a patient in the British National Formulary on my first day as a doctor, despite consuming that drug as a hangover cure for six years previously.

I remember the poor guy with throat cancer coughing and bleeding to death as his carotid artery was eroded by his disease. I remember the young housewife whose life I saved by transfusing her with blood while packing her severely bleeding nose with compressive wadding.

I also remember successfully diagnosing malaria as a cause of unexpected fever in a youngster from Pakistan who had had minor ear surgery that morning as a health tourist.

Then there were my not so glorious moments. The time I clumsily and insensitively broke the news of breast cancer to a young woman, for instance. There were many other gauche episodes in my first six months as a doctor, which I would rather not detail here. I still blush with shame when I remember them.

I moved onto my next appointment which was equally mixed with good and bad, for my patients and for myself. The only consolation is that I gradually improved as a doctor as I gained experience and endured shame and necessary desolation. God is good and blesses us all.

Amoris Laetitia, a medical perspective.

Even in a field hospital, some life threatening conditions can only be diagnosed, managed, and a cure attempted, by a surgeon, a person skilled in the parting and closing of flesh. Their deep knowledge of anatomy and pathology, and their excellent skills at incision, excision, suturing and bleeding control can save the patient’s life.

However, before the discovery of anaesthesia, most patients perished under the knife because surgery was so traumatic, painful and bloody. Alternatively, some patients would prefer to die untreated rather than face the proffered horror.

Nowadays, thanks to the triad of anaesthesia, sleep, pain relief and muscle relaxation, there is no surgical intervention that cannot be attempted. The anaesthetic can even be continued postoperatively for those who are too sick and frail to wake up immediately, while awaiting their sometimes prolonged recovery.

Surgeons and anaesthetists devote the time of their lives to care of the sick, and yet both are completely useless without the other.

The soul surgery that the Church offers to the sinner must be dealt with using a similar division of labour. A moral theologian/canon lawyer is needed to dissect right down to the marrow to root out the last vestiges of sepsis and cancer within the soul. However, a pastor must also be present to prevent the soul from literally giving up the ghost. Some priests may possess both skillsets but many will need training.

Christ during His ministry on Earth was the perfect physician who possessed perfect competence and power over sin, illness, disability and even death. He combined it with an attractive authority never seen before, and a deep empathic kindness that drew crowds of suffering and lost sinners to Him.

He reserved his righteous ire for the bloodthirsty and cruel pharisees, and for the soft-hearted and wrong-headed Peter (“Get thee behind me Satan!”). He actually became physically violent when he found his beloved Temple, his operating theatre if you like, full of useless money-men and their filth.

The Church, in continuing its Master’s work, must combine His competence, power, authority, and His kindness, all at the same time, in the eternal task of saving every sinner who comes to it for help.

“I am the pope, I do not need to give reasons”

All Along the Watchtower

Newly elected Pope Francis I -1761696

These words are reported by the site 1 Peter 5 as coming from the mouth of the Holy Father when asked to explain why he wanted some members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith removed from their posts. The full reported quotation is:

“And I am the pope, I do not need to give reasons for any of my decisions. I have decided that they have to leave and they have to leave.”

We need to be careful here, not least in view of the epidemic of ‘fake news’ which assails us daily. What we call ‘fake news’ is often no more than the tendency we all have to live in echo chambers of our own devising. We read websites written by people with whose views we are already in sympathy, and those sites tend to focus on parts of the picture which confirm the views they…

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The feast day of St John the Divine

All Along the Watchtower


Today, by long tradition, the Church celebrates the feast of St John, the disciple whom Jesus ‘loved best’. He it was who, again according to tradition, rested upon the Saviour’s breast at the Last Supper, and it was to him that Jesus entrusted His mother in his final agonies on the Cross. The same tradition which tells us these things, tells us he is the author of the Gospel and the three epistles which bear his name; it also tells us he is the author of the vision captured in the ‘Apocalypse’ or ‘Revelation of St John the Divine’. That same tradition tells us that he lived to a great old age.

As the last surviving Apostle, St John provided a direct link back to the earthly ministry of Jesus. Tradition has it that he was much revered by the local community, and that in old age he would be asked…

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Christ Mass

All Along the Watchtower

So, the long Advent wait is over and the first Mass of Christmas (for many of us) has happened and now we are back with our family. For many, Christmas itself is almost over, although for Christians of a certain frame of mind, we know it has only just begun and will go on until at least the Feast of the Epiphany, and, at least on one old English custom, to Candlemas on 2 February, which is the fortieth day of the Christmas period. Our ancestors were less niggardly with celebrations than we are, and the plethora of Saints days gave their name to the word we use now to describe periods of rest from work – ‘holidays’ – which, of course, derives from ‘holy days’ – which at least makes for a smile when used by secularists as a substitute for Christmas, as in ‘happy holidays’.

Of all the…

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The word religion comes from the latin re-ligere meaning to tie back.

It refers to the inner need of every human being to return to their centre, to retreat back to their original innocence and happiness at their mother’s breast under their loving father’s protection. With that safe refuge securely cemented, they then feel safe to venture forth upon noble adventures seeking out those less fortunate than themselves who know not their parent’s comfort. As the posse gathers, a chain reaction occurs freeing everyone from their chains.

True religion works on the individual soul to make their’s a better being, understanding and life. Once they awaken to the law which is written upon their heart, then external political laws become unnecessary. Their saintly state overthrows the State.

If you better souls, then society is bettered, and society’s problems begin to dissolve. This is an endeavour that will not be complete until the end of the world. Don’t let that stop it.

It is easier to wear slippers than to carpet the whole earth

A Cleansing “Fire”….

Edmund P. Adamus

If like me you’ve often wondered time again what Purgatory might be like [that much neglected -in my view- doctrine of Catholic truth] then naturally our imagination during this month of the Holy Souls might be drawn to ponder on this supernatural reality which lies ahead [hopefully] for most of us if we die in a state of grace and repentance. And if there is a baptism by desire, then surely there has to be a state of purification [after death] by desire too; i.e, purgatory; even if one cannot avail of final absolution [through no fault of one’s own] at one’s dying hours and moments?

There is a story about Saint John Vianney in which a woman sought him out regarding her husband, who had recently jumped to his death. But the line to see the Saint was so long that she gave up on getting a chance to…

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