The recent riots in London and in a number of other major cities occasioned a huge increase in the sale of baseball bats. A 6000% increase on the online shopping site Amazon was reported, with commentators suggesting that the sports items were being procured either by people to defend themselves or to arm themselves for more looting!
Such was the scale and suddenness of the unrest that people in Belfast, which is not unused to ‘troubles,’ where I had been for the Sunday Masses, urged me to be careful when returning to London the following Tuesday…
In any event the riots highlighted the meltdown of modern society, and the incapacity of the nanny state to cope with widespread and concerted violence.
Whilst the deployment of the biggest number of police in the capital’s history – some 16,000 officers – eventually prevented further unrest, the fact remains that widespread anti-social behaviour is merely symptomatic of the moral bankruptcy of decadent liberal society. Incidentally, as many of the 16,000 police officers were drafted in from some 26 forces around the country, one wonders how the depleted numbers could have coped elsewhere.
Society which is not based upon the laws of Almighty God is necessarily disordered and can only be kept in check by ever increasing police powers, but even these cannot match up to spontaneous or orchestrated outbursts of mob violence and rampage. And now that people have a taste for mob-rule, which is even more exciting than violent computer games, it is to be feared that such episodes will be seen on our streets again.
The orchestrated breakdown of the family certainly has its part to play in this whole scenario, and so it is sickening to hear politicians and others blaming parental neglect when parental authority has been trashed by permissive legislation.
Similarly, consumer society based upon a ‘get now pay later’ mentality inevitably produces selfish consumers who will stop at nothing to get their material comforts and conveniences.
The Cathlolic Herald of 12th August 2011 made the politically incorrect point that most of the looters in London were black youths, whose Rap music sub-culture constantly extols the ‘virtues’ of gang violence and police confrontation. ‘The problem,’ in our inner cities, wrote Stuart Reid, ‘is anarchy, thuggery, guilt, materialism, sentimentality, resentment, self-pity, consumerism, fast-food, trash culture, greed, and years of sparing the rod.’
No wonder then that people are turning to improvised weapons to defend themselves and their properties. However, experience shows that when the appearances of law and order break down, it is the organised armed gangs which take over, as was the case in New Orleans just a few years ago following the Hurricane Katarina disaster.
Whilst we of course trust in God’s Providence, we must also practice the virtue of prudence, and hence the importance of making some provisions for future possible unrest in matters of supplies, security, mutual assistance and even contingency evacuation plans… not to mention a few base-ball bats…
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As mentioned in the previous newsletter, Bishop Fellay and the two Assistants will be meeting with Cardinal Levada in Rome on 14th September with regard to the outcome of the talks which took place these past two years on the doctrinal issues.
It is speculated that the Society’s canonical situation may also be addressed at this occasion, but it is important to remember that Bishop Fellay has repeatedly said, for example, in his Letters to Friends and Benefactors that any practical agreement could not come before a resolution of the doctrinal questions.
The Superior General and the District Superiors will also be meeting at Albano, near Rome, from 6-8th October, but this has regard to media communications generally, and should not be seen as anything untoward.
The two Ignatian five-day retreats which took place in a hired retreat centre in County Galway went well, and I was happy to have joined Fr Sherry for the ladies’ one, attended by some twenty-seven retreatants.
All four camps, both in Burghclere and in County Cavan, were well attended, and our thanks go to all the helpers, particularly Mr and Mrs Sean Brady who hosted the girls’ camp near Highclere.
I am grateful to all those who offered prayers for the Dominican Mothers’ retreat at Fanjeaux in Southern France. The 150 or so receptive participants received a dose of Italian hagiography and English history through the life story of Blessed Dominic Barberi, and were patient and kind with my rusty French. It was also an honour to have conferred the Habit on four postulants on the Feast of Saint Dominic, at which occasion also several Sisters renewed their vows or made their perpetual ones. Sister Hilary Catherine (Wood) from Dorset has now been with the teaching congregation for over twenty years and at present represents the only English vocation with the Fanjeaux Dominicans. However, it is encouraging to note that there will be some ten British girls at their St Manvieu School in Normandy as of this month, and please God there will, in due course, be other vocations from this country…
Father Clifton led the Canterbury pilgrimage this year and is happy to report that all went well with about 200 pilgrims present for the final day. Our thanks go to Mr Joe Bevan and family, and all the helpers from the Herne chapel for their good works. A tally of the second collection taken towards this national event is to be found elsewhere in this newsletter.
The annual pilgrimage to the Newry Mass-Rock took place on the Feast of the Assumption, which I was able to attend for the first time and was there to celebrate Holy Mass and lead the procession for the occasion. Almost 100 faithful attended coming from Newry, Belfast and Dun Laoghaire, and everything was well organised by Fr Bierer and Mr Tommy Jennings and family along with other local faithful. The barbecue lunch was followed by a display of Irish dancing on the purpose built out-door stage!
Saint Michael’s School
This month marks the twentieth anniversary of the school’s foundation, 29th September 1991 on the feast of Saint Michael, although the occasion itself will be celebrated on 15th October as advertised elsewhere in this newsletter.