By: Natallia Ushe, Customer Services and Sales Officer

Our-Lady-of-WalsinghamIn 2012, the world watched with bated breath to see how England’s Olympic opening ceremony would compare to the vibrant Beijing ceremonies in 2008. Could London 2012 achieve something similar to China, or would the event turn into a dreary 4-hour narrative of England’s past from a country so renowned for its history. Visitors to the UK often arrive with the same assumption, but the pilgrim to England is in for a surprise. From the treasures of Westminster Cathedral in the Capital to the many priest holes in mansions dotted around the country, England is a place that comes to life for a believer. To walk in the footsteps of England’s Blesseds and Saints is not only to relive history, but to witness the triumph of faith in England and in its culture.

Walsingham was chosen by Our Lady, in 1061, as the place to build a replica of the Holy Famimg1ily house of Nazareth which soon became one of the great pilgrimage sites of Christendom and which continues to be a destination for pilgrims from all over the world today. It is the National Shrine of England, a place of year-round pilgrimage where young and old go to advance in their spiritual journey. Our Lady promised that Walsingham would become a refuge for “all who are in any way distressed, or in need… [they] that seek me there shall be given succour.” Today, Walsingham provides support for the pilgrim echoing the words of our Lord “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest… for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29) Walsingham, as Connelly says, is a place where “pilgrims… are seeking God through Our Lady” (Message of Walsingham, p27), and we are invited to bring our somewhat broken spirits to be healed through the intercession of Our Lady.

However, if you are unable to go to Walsingham, there are many other places you can pilgrimage to in order to reawaken the spirit of Catholic England. Catholic History walks, which are run throughout the year by Joanna Bogle, (more information below) are a great way to see the city whilst absorbing Catholic history at its finest. The walks usually culminate at sites of martyrdom, such as the Tyburn Gallows near Tyburn Convent, tybrun-tree-rob-500x256in Marble Arch. When you are in London, be sure to visit both Tyburn Gallows, and Tyburn Convent. Despite its closeness to London’s busiest junction and shopping district, it is a place of sanctuary where the faithful can come to adore Jesus perpetually exposed in the Eucharist and learn more about the many men and women who gave their lives to witness to the Faith. There are three daily tours of the shrine and the relics. On the first Sunday of each month the sisters open their doors to the public, explaining the history of the Tyburn Martyrs. Whether you are looking for rest from the crowded streets of London, or simply wanting to spend a few quiet moments in front of the Blessed Sacrament, Tyburn Convent is one of the best places to deepen your faith as you discover the Catholic heritage in England.

Famous stories recounted again and again can become tedious, but as Danny Boyle proved at the 2012 opening ceremony of the Olympics, the ability to make history come alive is amazing. So why not visit England, walk in the footsteps of some of the church’s greatest treasures – St Thomas More and St John Fisher, to name a few, and uncover an integral part of the history of the universal Church from the land once proclaimed as the ‘Dowry of Mary’. When you come, carry this prayer with you remembering to pray for the unity of the Church in England and the world:

O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and our most gentle Queen and Mother, look down in mercy upon England, your dowry, and upon us all who greatly hope and trust in you. By you it was that Jesus, our Saviour and our Hope, was given to the world; and he has given you to us that we may hope still more. Plead for us your children, whom you received and accepted at the foot of the Cross, O Mother of Sorrows. Pray for our separated brethren that in the one true Christ, we may all be united under the care of Pope Francis, the chief shepherd of Christ’s flock. Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by Faith, and fruitful in good works, we may all deserve to see and praise God, together with you in our heavenly home.

A Simple Rosary Book, p34

Further Information:

Walsingham History 1 | 2

Catholic National Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham

Harvington Hall Homepage

Harvington Hall: Priest Holes and Hides

Tyburn Martyrs Shrine

Dominican Sisters of St Joseph

Catholic History Walks with Joanna Bogle | 2


English Pilgrimage Essentials:

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By: Elizabeth Harrison, Editorial Assistant

CTS will be 150 years old in 2018. We have stuck to some key founding principles, which are contained in our mission statement, but over the years, we’ve also moved with changes in design, technology, and the demands of our readership. We have tried to keep our books accessible.

We’ll be posting a few things from the archives from time to time, telling the story of the item and its place in the history of CTS.

CTS Book Rack, 1920s

CTS Book Rack, 1920s

We thought we’d start with this picture of a CTS rack. The photo isn’t labelled, so we’re not sure when it was taken! We got the rough date the photo would have been taken from the publication date of some of the booklets, the titles of which we can make out, which appear to date to the 1920s.

The company that processed the film was based near an Underground Station called “British Museum”. That closed in 1933 and is now what is nicknamed a ‘ghost station’, so we know the photo was taken before 1933.

1937 reprint of the booklet found in the 1920s CTS book rack

1937 reprint of the booklet found in the 1920s CTS book rack

Some of the titles are exactly the same as booklets we publish today. For example, there’s individual booklets with the Gospels (see the bottom row), and there’s a booklet called Purgatory (6th row, second column from the left). We published a new booklet on Purgatory in May 2015. There’s also a book about the ‘Spanish’ Inquisition, an new version of which can still be found in our catalogue. It contains an update recording John Paul II’s famous ‘apology’ in 1997.

A more recent CTS booklet, May 2015

A more recent CTS booklet, May 2015

Booklets on the subjects of Galileo and evolution also appear in our 1920s rack, which shows that the way the Church views science was as important to readers in the 1920s as it is almost 100 years later. But our latest book on the subject of Faith and Science contains a picture of the human genome, (a double helix) on the cover – this was not properly ‘discovered’ until the 1950s.

20 Answers: Faith and Science, 2015

20 Answers: Faith and Science, 2015

What has changed more than anything is how the rack and the booklets look. In this period, printing in colour would have not have been affordable. Now, the booklets always have colourful covers, and often have colour on the inside. With the change in printing technology, it has become much easier to include internal pictures as well.

A CTS oook rack from 2013

A CTS book rack from 2013

We have considered different designs for the rack itself, in order to make it practical. If you have any feedback or ideas, don’t hesitate to get in touch.


By: Sr Clare Ruvarashe, Guest Blogger


I’d like us to begin by spending a few moments reflecting on this question:child-praying9966426cb2cf645badfcff00009d593a

‘What is my image of God?’

Any life of prayer has great difficulty in getting off to a good start if we carry within us a negative image of God.  It is important to have a good image of God and this consists in trusting him, and trust is also the basis for any close friendship.

The images that we have of God affect the way we relate to him.  If we have an image of a God who is punitive, always watching us to catch us out or a God who is out there managing the world from a distance, inaccessible to us or a God that we need to please in order to gain his love etc then I don’t think this will inspire in us a desire to get close to such a God.

On this subject of our images of God, there’s a story that is told of cardinal Basil Hume…he said that when he was a young boy his mother said to him and his siblings that they were never to take any cookies from the cookie jar outside tea time and emphasised this by telling them that God was watching them.  Of course Basil Hume grew up with an image of a God who was always watching him to catch him out.  Telling this story as an older person he said that if at all God had been watching him, he would have said to him, ‘go on son, take another’.

So if we have a negative image of God we need to let it go and begin to believe that God loves us unconditionally and that if ever he is watching us, he watches us with love.  God is love, St John tells us, and his desire is for us to be in a loving relationship with him.  We need to believe that God loves us, not because of anything we have done or not done, but simply because God is love and he can only create in love: God saw everything that he had made and indeed it was very good’, the book of Genesis tells us [Gen.1:31].  So how can we have a good image of God?  The best way is through prayer asking God to reveal himself to us as the loving Father that he is; to enable us to experience his unconditional love for us. Another excellent way is to look at Jesus for he is the one who reveals the Father’s face to us.  And there are many passages in the Scriptures that help us to see what kind of person Jesus was; for instance, if one has an image of a judging God, then one only has to look at how Jesus was with the woman caught in adultery or better still with my favourite the Samaritan woman.  Jesus met her at the well, knew her story but loved her just as she was at that moment and that is what transformed her life and she was able to go back and evangelize…she says I met someone who knew everything about me, but he did not judge me at all instead he showed me mercy…how amazing.  Or if one has an image of a God who is too busy for us or far removed from the problems of our daily  life, then one has only to look at how Jesus responded to Jairus’ request to have his daughter healed…Jesus took time to listen, to go and to heal….the Scriptures especially the Gospels are full of  Jesus’ love, mercy, compassion, care, healing and so forth, and Jesus is saying to us: ‘Believe this of the Father as well, for to see me is to see him.  These are some ways that can help us to have a good image of God, and God can help us through prayer.

Prayer is all about a loving relationship and for any relationship to grow we need to invest some time in it. Setting aside time everyday to be with God is a good way of deepening our relationship with Him. Reading the Scriptures is a good way of deepening our prayer life too for in them we get to know the Lord more.  When we pray with the scriptures we try to listen to the word of God with the heart rather than with the mind….we simply allow ourselves to be filled with the “fullness of the Word of God.”

Take a few moments to reflect on what prayer is for you.

Therese of Lisieux described prayer as a surge of the heart, a simple look toward heaven, a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.  St. Teresa describes it as nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him whom we know loves us in silence and stillness.

The Catechism describes prayer as a covenant relationship between God and us, and that it is the habit of being in the presence of, and in communion with the Trinity.

Prayer is an invitation to love, to wholeness and holiness, to intimacy, to life in all its fullness.   It is also our longing for God and God’s longing for us; an awakening to the fact that our fulfilment lies in God – it is indeed a sharing in the very life of the Trinity.  It is an encounter with the God who thirsts for us so that we may thirst for him.

When we pray it is God’s initiative of love which draws us and our initial step towards prayer is always a response to God’s invitation.

For me prayer is being in the presence of God, spending time with the one I love and allowing myself to be loved by Him, and most times I find that words are not even necessary.  Before I used to say I am going to pray and it seemed to me that it was something I had to do, but now I have come to realise that I do not know how to pray and that during my moments set aside for prayer, I only need to be available and allow the spirit of God to pray in me, to transform me, so now when I go to pray I lay aside my little self and just try to be available and open to the Spirit of God present within me.   Prayer is like that, a desire to just be in the presence of one who knows us through and through and loves us unconditionally, and who at the same time takes great pleasure being in our company.  That’s what friends so, they take great pleasure in each other’s company and God wants us to be His close friends.

What best sums up prayer for me are the words of St Clare:  to gaze, consider, and contemplate Christ, longing to imitate him by reflecting his love to the world. Gaze at Jesus with the eyes of your heart and allow yourself to feel His gaze of love upon you.  This is an amazing way of deepening our friendship with the Lord, and the beauty of it is that we can adore the Lord at any moment because we are each one of us the Temple of the living God who is present in our hearts all the time!  Jesus gives himself, comes to us, and when we sit before him, we give him a chance to open us a bit more fully to his touch.   I invite you, as you gaze on Jesus to allow yourselves to feel Him gazing on you, loving you just as you are at this very moment, and feel His longing to be in deep communion with you, to become one with you.



Deepen your prayer life with these CTS prayer books…

SP32 SP13 Thoughts on Prayer Do887

Click to see more prayer & spirituality books on our website.


By: Natallia Ushe, Customer Services and Sales Officer

lourdesatnight 2The Catholic Church in France is often referred to as the “eldest daughter of the Church”, as its Catholic roots run deep throughout the country and its history. We witness this in the numerous miracles, apparitions, and Saints that France has brought forth over the centuries. You can discover all this through the churches, shrines and Marian apparition sites that adorn the cities of France. As Lourdes is particularly close to my heart, I shall begin there.

If you travel to Lourdes  anytime between March and November and stand at the top of the Basilica in the evening,  you are likely to see hundreds of pilgrims in procession, praying to Our Lady, united together in singing to her with a resounding ‘Ave’. It is an awe-inspiring image to see; no words can describe the impression Lourdes has on its visitors. However, Yvonne McIntosh came close when she said “explaining what Lourdes is really like is like trying to describe the beauty of a sunset to a blind man!”

D661To truly experience Lourdes is to experience the love of Christ. Seeing the volunteers serve the disabled is to see Him at work in them. Hundreds of helpers travel to Lourdes all year round to aid the sick and can usually be noticed by the fluorescent vests that they wear, or the numbers painted on their t-shirts and faces! It is a beautiful way to serve in your diocese whilst also finding fulfillment in your own life.

It is not uncommon to be distracted by the many shops paving the way to the Grotto in Lourdes. However, once you arrive within its gates, you are sure to encounter people from all walks of life, who gather with a single purpose to pray silently and lovingly together. They pray for themselves and their loved ones and often ask for spiritual and physical healing. In the midst of all the hustle and bustle of Lourdes, the Grotto provides a haven from the struggles of everyday life; it provides a sanctuary of peace and tranquility. The Way of the Cross of the Espelugues (see link below), on the hillside is an experience not to be missed. Since Lourdes is a very special place for the sick, there is also a Way of the Cross for those physically unable to climb the hill, still retaining the beauty of the landscape in both a physical and spiritual way.

One of the most powerful experiences I had in Lourdes was when I volunteered with the HCPT Pilgrimage Trust during the Easter of 2010. With the help of another volunteer, I cared for a young disabled lady for the week. I was enthusiastic to be helping her, but towards the end of the week my patience had worn thin due to the heat, lack of sleep, and dealing with the frustrations that the young lady I was caring for had. The Thursday of Easter week arrived, and our group went to a mass in the ‘Underground Basilica’. As I entered, I was greeted by the sounds and sight of some 5,000 volunteers and pilgrims gathering together to celebrate the Eucharist. With the weight of the week having taken its toll on me, I SP23was eager to find a place to rest throughout the mass.  During the Gospel, as I looked around at the other volunteers and children, the words of Christ “Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 18:2-4) came to mind. I could see these words clearly manifest in every pilgrim I encountered. The overwhelming sense of selfless love that each of the volunteers gave to the children they were caring for illuminated my life at that moment and transformed my spirit of service. At the end of the Eucharist, with a renewed sense of joy, I wheeled the young lady home – this time, not because I was supposed to, but because I really wanted to.

Lourdes is a beautiful place to find sanctuary, to help others and, of course, to pilgrimage. It can be said of Lourdes that there is a ‘before and after’ aspect to each person’s encounter with this special place. Whether going with family on holiday, as a volunteer with your diocese, or indeed as a pilgrim on your own, the experience of Lourdes will gently leave its mark on you in some way, forever.


Lourdes Holiday Essentials:


More information:

HCPT: Life-Changing Pilgrimage Holidays 

Lourdes Pilgrimage Testimonies 

The Way of the Cross

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes (Official Website)

Sacred Sites: Lourdes

Lourdes Pilgrimage 2015: Diocese of Westminster


By: Fergal Martin, General Secretary

Second marriages, trial marriages, same sex marriages, divorce, annulment, and receiving Holy Communion. You name it. It’s all here, and on the agenda for the Extraordinary Synod on the Family this October.

If common sense should ever drive a debate, this must be it. The truth of our identity and internal drivers is not of itself unduly complicated. We can certainly make it so.  Viewed through the lens of what is naturally in the best interest of others, Christian anthropology and experience certainly make  a whole lot of common sense. What set of human arrangements most supports the common good? Christian marriage and the Christian family rank very high indeed – as merciful, generous, fruitful and constructive.

In which case, you really should spend 45 minutes of your time viewing this excellent and concise common sense presentation of what Catholics believe and how they live: Marriage – God’s design for life and love (2015), available here.

You can watch the trailer below:

Click here for more CTS books about Marriage and Family Life 

By: Pierpaolo Finaldi, Managing Editor

…No this isn’t the beginning of a bizarre religious joke. The Dalai Lama was invited to speak at the huge summer festival of popular music in Somerset and was asked whether he endorsed the message of Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’. He had glowing words of appreciation for the Holy Father and thanked him for bringing the issue to the top of the agenda for the international community.

Taking a leaf out of Pope Francis’s book, the Dalai Lama was happy to go beyond his ordinary message of world and inner peace and gave some practical advice on saving energy and water. “I always turn the lights off when leaving rooms and take showers instead of baths” although he did admit to taking two showers a day!

It is particularly interesting for Catholics that the crowds at Glastonbury were asked to consider the teachings of the Church not far from the site of the oldest Marian Shrine north of the Alps! Glastonbury continues to be a charming and worthwhile place for pilgrimages today.

For more information about making a pilgrimage to Glastonbury order Glastonbury: A Pilgrim’s Companion from the CTS Christian shrines series.

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