Season

Christmastide

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Join Juventutem London as we pray to end abortion with 40 Days for Life London

I've posted (on my blog, Smeaton's Corner) before about London being the geo-political epicentre of the culture of death. But it is important to remember that it is also a place with an incredibly rich Catholic history and where in a few places the faith still burns brightly.

In England there are more than five hundred and seventy abortions every day and there are more in London than anywhere else in the country. One abortion is a tragedy. The tragedy of today is difficult to comprehend.

It is important to remember that we also have at least one hundred and five Catholic martyrs in London, at Tyburn alone. How many cities can boast that? That's not including Saint Thomas More and Saint John Fisher who departed this vale of tears on Tower Hill.


I say at least one hundred and five because no doubt the exact records are open to question in the tumultuous period of the so called Reformation. I've heard people say that there are almost certainly more.

Many of the Tyburn martyrs were included in the Forty English Martyrs canonised by Pope Paul VI in 1970. One of the Tyburn martyrs is Saint John Houghton. Richard Marsden has written an excellent account of Saint John's final moments.
St John Houghton is the protomartyr of the English Reformation. He was the first faithful Catholic in a long line to the gallows. The description of his execution is particularly excruciating to read. He was cut down whilst suspended in the air by his neck, agonisingly choking. He was cut down whilst still alive and after a brief moment to recover his senses, his body was ripped apart. The executioner had difficulty ripping out his heart, digging about in Fr Houghton’s body. When finding it (still beating), the executioner tore it from his body and held it in the air. The almost dead John gasped: “Sweet Jesus, what will you do with my heart?” 

Saint John Houghton
The Site of the Tyburn Tree is located at the southern end of the Edgware Road, just north of Hyde Park and west of Oxford Street. For those who don't know London, that's pretty much plonk in the middle of the West End. That's less than two miles from the 40 Days for Life London vigil in Bedford Square. These Saints who made the ultimate sacrifice of love are our patrons and defenders. What shall we fear?

The Forty English Martryrs

Tyburn as it looks today, in the middle of a busy traffic island. It's about the  size of two or three regular paving stones.
London is my family home. Regular readers of this blog will know that, having lived there for three years, I also have something of a soft spot for Australia and Sydney in particular. Naturally, I often think of the differences between both life generally and between the Church in England and in Australia. One of the differences is that Australia is home to a single canonised Saint - Saint Mary of the Cross.


In a country with only a single canonised Saint I have seen remarkable things happen and experienced moments of life changing grace. The Church in Australia experiences many of the same problems as we are experiencing throughout the Western world, but in a few places the faith is inspiringly strong. One such place is the regular Helpers of God's Precious Infants vigil outside the biggest abortuary in Sydney. For the past two years the Sydney Helpers have organised a 40 Days for Life campaign of their own, which has provided a great boost to their regular vigils.

Bishop Julian Porteus attends the final hour of the 2011 Sydney 40 Days for Life vigil. Fr Wong FSSP holds a relic of the True Cross, as young Australians pray outside the biggest abortuary in Sydney.
So if Australia can manage that - how much can we manage in England with the assistance of the London martryrs?

You might say that there is no obvious correlation between the number of Saints and the vitality of the Church in a particular area. I would say that there jolly well should be! Certainly the witness of the sixteenth and seventeenth century Saints is not sufficient for the making of Saints today. Those of us who by the grace of God have been called into His Church need to cooperate with His will. We are called to follow the heroic example of the English martyrs and burn with the faith of our fathers. In London we cannot complain of a lack of examples of how to do this.

While the evil faced by my generation may appear vast and terrifying, what we can be certain of is that the incomprehensible situation we find ourselves in today is nothing compared to the infinite love of God. Jesus Christ, King and Redeemer, the abyss of virtue, has conquered the world with love. In these times we are called, as all men have been called, to turn to Him. The first and most important challenge for us is that we assist Him in conquering us. Turning our vices into virtue, allowing Him to comfort us in our sufferings and beseeching Him to inspire us to be heralds of His kingdom.

One way to do all those things is to support the 40 Days for Life campaign which begins in London today. The launch event is at 7pm outside the bpas abortion facility in Bedford Square, WC1B 3HP. What follows is forty days of prayer, fasting and continuous witness outside of a London abortion facility. 40 Days for Life joins in solidarity with our unborn brothers and sisters and offers women, men and all those involved with the abortion procedure genuine hope, and a better choice than abortion.

Remember that Monsignor Philip Reilly, the man responsible for beginning prayerful witness and counselling outside abortion facilities, told the London pro-life community in May that the primary purpose of these vigils is not to save lives, but to save souls. The most important way you can assist the 40 Days for Life campaign is to pray and fast for the conversion of abortionists, for those considering aborting their children, for those who have already done and for those who will do so.

To make the campaign work there need to be people prepared to give up their time and pray outside the abortuary in Bedford Square. Juventutem London will be doing this as a group on Saturday.

We will be attending the 8am Traditional Latin Mass at the Brompton Oratory and then catching the tube to Bedford Square to pray with the 40 Days for Life campaign. We will stay at the vigil until 12.30pm and then go for lunch nearby. Weather permitting we'll be grabbing (or packing) sandwiches and heading to Russell Square. Individuals may stay longer at the vigil if they wish.

If you can't make it to the Oratory by 8am you are still very welcome to join us at Bedford Square.

Priests and religious would be particularly welcome to join us at the vigil!

8am Mass is early and you probably don't live near the Oratory, but remember that your sacrifices contribute to the salvation of souls.

Oh and if the London martyrs aren't enough to inspire you to come along then remember that when you take the hand of Our Lady and pray the Rosary, as is done throughout the forty day vigil, the entire celestial court of Heaven intercedes for you.

~ Originally posted on Smeaton's Corner

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