Wednesday, 30 April 2008

I believe

At Mass on a Sunday, we say the Nicene Creed. It begins... 'Credo' or 'I believe'. I want to ask you all a question... Do you?



The picture above is a picture from the 12th century salamanca cathedral. The liturgy was very different then and the purpose of the icons was to represent the 52 scenes from the Gospel and to preach on these on the 52 Sundays of the year. The cathedral was replaced later on as a sort of response to the reformation which in Spain and many other 'uber catholic' countries was to become more Catholic rather than bow to the pressure of the followers of Luther and Calvin. Both the Church and the Faithful were stirred to defend what they believed and made their Catholic faith visible and apart of their everyday life. When I was in Salamanca in 2006, I took a picture of the new Cathedral.



Someone I know once referred to this new cathedral as a sign of triumphalism. To be honest, that's a pile of nonsense, this new cathedral was a statement of faith in the one God, the father, the almighty. Those who built the Cathedral were saying 'I believe'.



By his Revelation, "the invisible God, from the fullness of his love, addresses men as his friends, and moves among them, in order to invite and receive them into his own company."1 The adequate response to this invitation is faith.



By faith, man completely submits his intellect and his will to God.2 With his whole being man gives his assent to God the revealer. Sacred Scripture calls this human response to God, the author of revelation, "the obedience of faith"



Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) 142 & 143



We must today ask ourselves, do we believe? Are these words we just spout out? Are these words a stimuli to our hearts and minds? Do we just like the 'Credo' sung beautifully so we can enjoy the music? Or do we want the words to be sung because we want to 'profess' the faith, our faith, my faith?



I have to ask myself this question daily. About a year ago, I took it for granted that 'I believed', but now I have to continually ask and remember that I do believe. I remember Rowan Williams being interviewed once and he was asked 'does God exist?', he said 'I hope so'. To me, that's not a sign of a man with faith. To me, having faith is being able to say 'I know He does exist'.



When St. Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus declared to him that this revelation did not come "from flesh and blood", but from "my Father who is in heaven".24 Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by him. "Before this faith can be exercised, man must have the grace of God to move and assist him; he must have the interior helps of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God, who opens the eyes of the mind and 'makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth.'"


The Catechism goes on:


Believing is possible only by grace and the interior helps of the Holy Spirit. But it is no less true that believing is an authentically human act. Trusting in God and cleaving to the truths he has revealed is contrary neither to human freedom nor to human reason. Even in human relations it is not contrary to our dignity to believe what other persons tell us about themselves and their intentions, or to trust their promises (for example, when a man and a woman marry) to share a communion of life with one another. If this is so, still less is it contrary to our dignity to "yield by faith the full submission of. . . intellect and will to God who reveals",26 and to share in an interior communion with him. CCC 154.



Today when we are under pressure from our culture to loose hope, we mustn't be reactionary. We must not have this crazy idea that we are a little group of Christians all bundled into the Colosseum awaiting Martyrdom. The tendency is to loose hope, but that's not a sign of faith. In the film Quo Vadis, remember how the Christians started singing even when they were being put to death. That action spoke of a hope, but not only a hope - they were speaking of a profound knowledge in the One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.



No, let's not be Martyrs and cry about it; let's go into the world with a joy that will make it easy for others to accept and to believe the truth. Yet before we do that we have to ask ourselves the question... Do I believe?

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Prayer



I took this picture a few years ago... It was in Lourdes and I was just about to go off to seminary. One of the hardest pilgrimages I've ever made...




I had allowed myself to become fairly uptight. I had been so concerned about the liturgy, the doctrine, the vestments... All things we should be vigilant about; but I had allowed that to take the stage and Christ had taken second place.




I remember praying at that very spot that I hoped I could make a difference to the Church... What I forgot to pray for was that I wanted to receive the grace from God in order to do it.

So often we become 'obsessed' with things; bishops appointments, what the parish priest was wearing, what the lace looked like at mass... Yet, do we take the time to get to know God? To we actually bother about proposing Jesus to the world?




If we do, then we need to let God change our lives, we need to let God penetrate our very being. Otherwise, we are all lace and no knickers.




I'm not against lace, beauty in the liturgy, solemnity and silence. I'm all for it. But at this present time, I feel there is a quiet movement in the Church which has forgotten what being a Catholic is all about. At times I hear more about the liturgy than I do God, and that concerns me... Are those concerns unfounded? Are those concerns without merit?




If I was speaking to a mate in the pub, and I said to them 'did you see the fiddleback the priest was wearing?' he'd look at me and tell me I was an idiot. For the average person today, they go to Mass out of a cultural obligation, or the last burning embers of a faith they don't really know or understand. We need to go out into the world with the message of hope.




In St. Peters letter on Sunday, we heard him say we must be brave when people come to ask what the cause of our hope is? Am I going to say the cause of my joy is Jesus Christ and His Church? Or am I going to say 'well the pope wore a beautiful cope the other day'.




The liturgy is meant to help us see God more clearly, to give us a sense of God, the Holy, the reverence... It's extremely important we get it right. Yet we cant allow ourselves to become angry, bitter and so on. The SSPX have done that and now look at them calling the Pope an anti Semite (whatever happened to the saying of the fathers 'where there is Peter, there is the Church'?). Martin Luther tried to be a self appointed Peter too and look at the damage that he did.




We need to come into a closer union with Jesus Christ... For that, we have to take prayer seriously, but also we need to sometimes put up with the nonsense and get on with the work at hand. We are all called to become great saints, and just now there are more people in need of conversion than we know...



Prayer is how we will change the world and yes the Mass is the highest form of prayer, but that should make us fulfil our call to evangelize. Not to wet ourselves when the pope restores the Cardinal deacon or when the parish priest buys a biretta.




The beauty of the Mass should help us see the beauty of our faith and make us will to give everyone a share in joy of the truth.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Our Mother (Cntd)


Below, Scott Hahn continues his reflection on the importance of seeing Mary as Our Mother.
In my personal life, I've found the Blessed Mother to be a great intercessor, as she was at the wedding feast in Cana.
Some very misguided people try to claim that Catholics make a goddess of the Blessed Virgin. But that is an abominable fiction. As much as we exalt Mary above our own sinful selves, we recognize that she is more like us than she is like God. She is still a creature, though a most wonderful creature. God himself exalted her to show us both the greatness of our human nature and the all-surpassing greatness of divine grace.


Even the early Protestant reformers never called for a wholesale rejection of the Marian dogmas. Luther and Calvin believed, for example, in Mary's perpetual virginity. Luther even believed in the Assumption and the Immaculate Conception, centuries before the Church solemnly defined it. Not until later generations would Christians come to such a far-reaching rejection of Mary's place in salvation history. In fact, the roots of Marian devotion go back to the Old Testament.
Similarly to Scott Hahn, I cant underestimate the importance of the role of Mary in my life. I came back to the Church after a visit to Lourdes, my mother always prayed the memorare for me whenever I found things difficult; the rosary has been a bedrock of my prayer life since coming home to the Church.
Apart of the new evangelization is asking ourselves what we're like, what our strengths and weaknesses are, what our vocation in life is all about. For this, we can look to Our Lady; she is the star of the sea, who guides the sailors on the sea's of life back to the shore in Heaven as the great St. Thomas Aquinas once said.
Maybe, you could join with me in this prayer which has been so important in my life and dedicate this for conversion, not only for others, but for ourselves too.
Remember O most gracious virgin Mary, that never was it known, that anyone who fled to thy protection and implored thine intercession, was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence I fly unto thee, O virgin of virgins my mother. To thee I come, before thee I stand sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but hear and answer me, Amen.
Our Lady of Lourdes - Ora pro Nobis.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Our Mother

One of the things most important to me as a Catholic, is our emphasis of the importance the role of Mary in Salvation. Her fiat made the incarnation possible.
In a recent interview, Scott Hahn shared the following relfections which I think are very important: Here is what the great biblical scholar had to say...
At the time of the Annunciation, the angel Gabriel prophesied that all generations would call Mary blessed. In our generation, we need to fulfill that prophesy. We need to call her blessed. We need to honor her again, because God did.

Jesus himself, as a faithful Jew, kept the Fourth Commandment and honored His mother. Since Christ is our brother, she is our mother too. Indeed, at the end of John's Gospel, Jesus named her as the mother of all of us beloved disciples. So we too have a duty to honor her. If we look back into the biblical history of ancient Israel, we discover that the Chosen People always paid homage not only to their king, but also to the mother of the king. The gebirah, the queen mother, loomed large in the affections of Israelites.

In Matthew's Gospel especially, we find Jesus portrayed as the royal Son of David and Mary as the queen mother. The Wise Men, for example, traveled far to find the Child King with his mother.

We find the mother of the Son of David portrayed in a similar way in the Book of Revelation, Chapter 12. There she is shown to be crowned with 12 stars, for the 12 tribes of Israel. The New Testament writers, you see, were careful to show us Mary's important place in the kingdom, and how we should love and honor her
Maybe, as we think about proposing Christ to the world, we can also think about coming closer to Our Mother, so that like our late great Holy Father we can say 'Totus Tuus' - Totally Yours.

I've been Ta(n)g(o)ed

I've been ta(n)g(o)ed.
Thanks Catholic Tuechtar to for tagging me.

What I was doing ten years ago:
I was at high school hating every minute of it, and then doing out with my friends as soon as I got home. Was also still an alter boy if I remember correctly.

Five things on my To-Do list today:
1. Go to Gym
2. Pray
3. Post a blog
4. Buy sweets for my nephew and niece
5. Babysit

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
1. Pay off my debts and those of my friends and family
2. Buy numerous properties in Rome, Edinburgh, London, New York and Lourdes & Medjugorie
3. Fund the education and care programme for LIFE
4. Travel a whole heck of a lot
5. Build a house with a gym within it, swimming pool, badminton court, chapel (complete with a full variety of Roman Vestments :o)

Three of my bad habits:
1. Swearing all the time
2. Judging people
3. too much food and drink

Five places I’ve lived:
1. My family home - Edinburgh
2. Bearsden - Glasgow
3. Hotels all over the country
4. Lourdes for a few weeks every year
5. Current place in Suffolk

Five jobs I’ve had:
1. Fishmonger
2. Shop Assistant
3. Ice Cream maker
4. Mortgage Underwriter
5. Education / PR officer

Five books I’ve recently read:
1. God and the world. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
2. Fides et Ratio - John Paul the great
3. Letters to a young catholic - George Weigal
4. Jesus of Nazareth Pope Benedict XVI
5. Faith Magazine (might as well be a book by the size of the darn thing)

Proposing Jesus Christ - True Love

The Holy image of the sacred heart of Jesus has always been something that has a special place in my own heart. There is a side alter in my home parish in Scotland dedicated to the sacred heart; even when I was away from God and away from the Church, that alter was a place where I would go because I felt at home there. I remember both my sisters telling me that when my grandfather passed away, they both went to that alter, neither of them knew the other was going. It's not suprising really that they found each other in the very heart of Jesus Himself.

Before, I wasn't sure what it was that attracted me to this image. But now i realise it was because this image speaks to us; not of a pious hope, but of a fact. Jesus loves us, and love can indeed hurt.

The sacred heart also tells us something of our own sin and the cause of that sin. Look at the crown of thorns around the heart of Jesus... It's not suprising then that our parish priest decided that the confessional should be situated next to this side alter!

In a recent lecture, on the return of religion Archbishop Celli, president of the pontifical council for social communications said:

'At the heart of the Judeo-Christian faith is the belief that the "other" who is by nature infinitely distant has chosen to reveal himself to us. The God of the Old and New Testaments is a God who has revealed himself as a God of infinite love who has chosen to be near to his people. For Christians the fullness of this revelation is to be found in the person of Jesus Christ. In his words and in his actions, Jesus revealed a God of infinite and unlimited love for all human beings, a God who invites humans to discover the fullness of the own lives by reaching out to others in love and solidarity. I believe that the message of Jesus cannot fail to touch the hearts of human beings who by their very nature are in need of an assurance of being loved and who will be drawn to find meaning in their lives through service of others.'


The Archbishop is not saying anything new, but he points towards the truth that the sacred heart points to well... We need to communicate this truth today, in our time, in our lives. Yet how do we do this?

All to often we can fail to see why God would want us to suffer... God doesn't want us to suffer, but love by it's nature means sacrifice and sacrifice is never easy. Sometimes we have to give up we want. 'There is no greater love than this; than to lay down one's lives, for one's friends'. John 15:13. If we want to propose Jesus Christ to the world, we must first of all give our lives to God, and that involves laying down all our hopes, dreams, plans, ambitions and letting God take the driving seat.

'Take Lord, receive all my memories, my energy, my will and understanding; give me only your love and your grace, that's enough for me" was the prayer of St. Ingatius. It's a brave prayer to pray. Be sure you are ready to pray it before you do, after all - prayer is not simply a collection of nice words, it's a cry to God.

It's in doing God's will and bearing witness (always in Love) to our faith and the hope that promises, which will enable us to propose Jesus to the world. Each of us has a responsibility in doing this, the question is will we do it?

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Proposing Jesus Christ - How not to do it

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=xn2V_43rmPk

This is Christian Pat...

Hilarious, but worth remembering how similar some of our attitudes can be in proposing Christ to the World.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Proposing Jesus Christ - Veritas in Caritate

The picture you see here is that of the late Cardinal Lopez Trujillo. He was president of the Pontifical Council for the Family up until his death on Saturday, he was 72.


Cardinal Trujillo is someone I remember as a 'real man'. He wasn't scared to say what he thought and fought ardently to remind people of the importance of family life and the sacredness of human life from conception, to it's natural end.


It was sad when I googled the Cardinal, simply to find a good image to give to you, that some of the articles that came up were 'Anti Gay crusade ends' and 'Vatican Hardliner dies' and others which I wont repeat here. Yet, I wonder why they said those things?


The Cardinal's motto was Veritas in Caritate, which literally means 'Truth in Charity' or could be translated as 'Truth in Love'. This is important for proposing Jesus Christ to the world.


Yes it's true the Cardinal did challenge a lot of what we generally accept as 'Kudos' today. He made people uncomfortable, he challenged our that human sexuality is not merely some crazed act of passion, it's a free act of Love given freely and a repeating the words of the Late great Holy Father John Paul II 'a language, a sign of God's own love for us'.


He said that Homosexuality wasn't OK, that it wasn't how God intended things to be. He challenged Catholics (Bishops and Priests not excluded) worldwide to live the truth and to not be scared in proclaiming the truth.


He challenged the notion that Abortion is a right, saying instead it can never be 'a right' to harm the unborn child in the womb.


Yet he never said 'don't love a homosexual' 'don't love a person outside the church', 'don't love a woman who has had an abortion'. He said instead to love them.


Proposing Jesus Christ to the world in a loving way might not make us loved or liked throughout the world; chances are we will get pelted with all sorts of abuse. But regardless of that, we still have a duty to be Jesus for others. We have a duty to enter into the world which might not like us, and to bring Jesus and the truth of His Gospel to the world.


As Catholics we live this truth only by the grace of God and for that we need the Eucharist; we need to have a true understanding of what it is to go to Mass and the power of the Holy Sacrifice itself. Because it is only through prayer, only through penance, only through sacrifice that we can hope to do anything in this world.
The Mass is an act of Love, because it's the representation of the sacrifice of calvary. The most powerful act of Love, for a world who at times tells itself we would rather have not had it, has the power to change it. That is the only way we can live the truth in love.
Please pray for the repose of the Cardinals soul, but most of all pray that his work may penetrate the hardest of hearts, that God's love may transform their lives. Proposing Jesus Christ, is proposing the most incredible Love in the world. Proposing Jesus Christ is living that Love for others.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Proposing Jesus Christ


Something I've pondered on a lot recently is the words of Pope Benedict in the USA recently. He said a lot last week, most of it (especially in the latter half of the visit) was 'gold-dust'; yet what keeps coming back to me both in prayer and in my reflections is what he said at the interrelgious meeting. He said 'Christianity proposes Jesus Christ.'
I think this is something we all have to reflect on... What does it mean to 'propose' Jesus to the world? Does it mean we ram God down peoples throats? In my own experience and at the cost of some friends around the way, I know that doesn't work.
What works best is actually living, and loving your faith to the best of your ability. Truth is beautiful, and we are attracted to beauty... If we are living our lives in union with God, in a profound relationship with Him, then that will inspire others.
I'm going to be looking at this topic over the next couple of posts, it would be good to get your feedback.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Fidelity, Fidelity, Fidelity

I got this from a blog I read now and then called 'In Hoc Signo Vinces' which to my knowledge means 'in this sign you will conquer'. I just thought it was interesting really. This was the sanctuary at the time of the Vatican council and probably well into the 70's...
This is the sanctuary now...

To be honest, it's not all that bad. Many churches got off worse, but it's almost as if it's a different faith... I felt myself saying 'what on earth' (a closer transition is wtf, but I cant publish that here).

I'm not all to fussed about the tridentine mass or novus ordo. I like both and most people who know me know that fact about me. But this is a complete and utter nonsense.

One of the biggest problems we have today is people messing around with the faith of the Church and the faith of the people. Some priests who want to be liturgically crazy often end up having churches built which don't reflect a church, but more a theatre or modern abstract space in which minimalist notions are entertained and from which tabernacles are hidden and statues banned. We have this situation today whereby we have a lot of catholic churches which simply do not represent provide for worship but rather they provide some Hans Kung, Karl Rahner loving liturgical madness and entertainment.

On the other hand I should point out the I know a lot of beautiful churches still in existence (such as my home parish). Yet, at times that madness still goes on...

No wonder people are confused. What we have to remember is that we are called to be faithful to Jesus Christ and His Church which He founded upon the rock which is Peter. That means being faithful to the faith which we profess... When we change things like the above, we should remember we are tampering with peoples faith which is often strong, but for most it can be delicate, and fragile.

Priests and Bishops are called to a life of service and self-giving not to change the meaning of the liturgy just because they like things a certain way... That goes for a lot of the trad priests too; be careful you are not isolating your people by suddenly changing everything. Instead be faithful to your calling and be a true shepherd for your flock who need your guidance and direction.

For me the Pope has really nailed things on the head by asking us to re-discover the beauty in our liturgy because it must reflect what we believe, and ultimately we believe in what good, true and beautiful.

For now, it's good to end with the words of Fr Richard John Neuhaus 'Fidelity, Fidelity, Fidelity'

The fruits of faith


Just now I'm re-reading one of the most profound documents of our time; that is Pope John Paul the greats encyclical Fides et Ratio which is Latin for Faith and Reason.
I first encountered this document as a seminarian and it's interesting re-reading it the lines i underscored then, and the lines I want to highlight now. Yes many are the same, but I now realise that in seminary I was looking for snippets of orthodoxy to throw back at people whenever they seemed to deviate from the orthodox line (which I still hold) rather than looking at the document in the spirit of academic pursuit and research.
Fides et Ratio was and continues to be a challenge to the whole academic life of the Church and indeed the world to re-discover the great need for the the pursuit of truth and to liberate philosophy from the notion that it is a distant academic discipline which has nothing to do with the every-day reality of human life.
It was also a reminder that faith and reason are equally important in our search for the truth. As St Anselm put it 'Credo ut Intellegam, Intellegam ut Credo' which literally means 'I believe in order to understand, I understand in order to believe'.
This is an important point to grasp and to realise; the Catholic faith is not simply some comfort blanket that we wrap around ourselves; it's a faith which has been revealed to us by God to which we have responded using our reason. God reveals and Man responds. It's reasonable to believe...
As Aristotle affirmed 'All human beings desire to know'. It's a beautiful reality to discover that the journey we share in our faith is the journey towards the truth, but also towards a person Jesus Christ. Our nature, that is to say, what we are meant for is to come to know and encounter God.
The late great Holy Father said in one of his Wednesday audiences in 1983:
'The religious impulse is the highest expression of the human person, because it is the highpoint of his rational nature. It springs from the profound human aspiration for the truth and it is the basis of the human being's free and personal search for the divine'
Faith is a truly beautiful thing; I wonder how often we realise that 'in believing, we entrust ourselves to the knowledge acquired by other people... belief is often humanly richer than mere evidence, because it involves an interpersonal relationship and brings into play not only a persons capacity to know but also the deeper capacity to entrust oneself to others, to enter into a relationship with them which is intimate and enduring'.
A life in faith is and should be a living relationship with God through His Church and His children. That means as fides et ratio puts it 'a dynamic relationship of faithful self-giving with others'. The free decision which the human person comes to, which involves all of the above, is one 'of the most significant and expressive human acts'.
We need to think about this and let the consequences of our thought challenge us... Are we willing to search for what is true? Are we willing to go on that journey which might be uncomfortable?
We can't live in this relativistic society anymore. Pope Benedict XVI calls it the dictatorship of relativism, and something which Pope John Paul the great was very aware of. If we say 'all positions are equally true' then we are trying to be inclusive and exclusive at the same time. That saying is a violation of the principle of non-contradiction which Pope John Paul saw as a basic principle needed in Philosophy and needed in our general thinking...
As a people of faith we are called to proclaim that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the light... There is no other, none beside Him. We do not know all of the truth, that will only be revealed in the fullness of time. But for now we are called to help others, freely discern their journey, in coming to know and have a lived experience of faith and a lived relationship with God who is revealed to us by His son Jesus Christ.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

How to change a culture


You could be forgiven if you're a bit concerned about how almost every picture I seem to post lately is of Pope Benedict XVI. I'm not obsessed...
It's just that the Holy Father has really been coming out with such profound statements recently and I'm not sure anyone else in the world comes close to matching the quality or heartfelt authenticity of what he's saying!
As he celebrated the Holy Mass, the Holy father preached on the world's perception of the Church:
"stained glass windows, which flood the interior with mystic light. From the outside, those windows are dark, heavy, even dreary. But once one enters the church, they suddenly come alive; reflecting the light passing through them, they reveal all their splendor. Many writers – here in America we can think of Nathaniel Hawthorne – have used the image of stained glass to illustrate the mystery of the Church herself.
It is only from the inside, from the experience of faith and ecclesial life, that we see the Church as she truly is: flooded with grace, resplendent in beauty, adorned by the manifold gifts of the Spirit. It follows that we, who live the life of grace within the Church’s communion, are called to draw all people into this mystery of light.

This is no easy task in a world which can tend to look at the Church, like those stained glass windows, “from the outside”: a world which deeply senses a need for spirituality, yet finds it difficult to “enter into” the mystery of the Church. Even for those of us within, the light of faith can be dimmed by routine, and the splendor of the Church obscured by the sins and weaknesses of her members. It can be dimmed too, by the obstacles encountered in a society which sometimes seems to have forgotten God and to resent even the most elementary demands of Christian morality"
This is so very true isn't it? Often our experience of the initial beauty and wonder of the Church can be dimmed by the not-so-nice realisation that we are a Church of sinners all in need of the saving grace of God. Sometimes we expect the Church to be a body of perfection, and so often the reality is one broken, divided and at odds with each other.
How do we re-act to this? Do we simply cast out those who disagree? Do we go into our little trad / liberal groups and get suspicious about each other? Do we even attempt to love one another? My experience is we don't love one another... We simply create our trad blogs and hang around with our trad friends and that's that. As someone who lived that reality, I can tell you all it breeds is anger, bitterness and it's far from the call of our Lord who gave us as a final commandment to Love one another.
Cardinal Newman got it right when he said 'Heart speaks to Heart' (Cor et Cor loquitur). I was thinking about this as a prayed after mass. One of the side alters in the Parish at Bury St. Edmunds dedicated to our lady, had a tabernacle of repose. The Tabernacle was Gold with an image of the sacred heart in the middle. In the centre of the heart was the keyhole. It was then I realised how the Eucharist and the celebration of Holy Mass is entering into the most sacred heart of Jesus. So really when we go to Mass, encapsulated in that most sacred heart, having had a foretaste of Heaven, receiving God physically within our bodies, then to go out and still be divided, still bearing ill-will, is surely as much an offence to God, as it is to not go to mass at all.
As the Pope said to the priests and religious of New York:
"You, who have devoted your lives to bearing witness to the love of Christ and the building up of his Body, know from your daily contact with the world around us how tempting it is at times to give way to frustration, disappointment and even pessimism about the future. In a word, it is not always easy to see the light of the Spirit all about us, the splendor of the Risen Lord illuminating our lives and instilling renewed hope in his victory over the world (cf. Jn 16:33)".
That is not just a call for the priests, it's a call to all of us to open our eyes to the light of the Holy Spirit all around us. It's a call for us to keep trying to see Jesus in others.
We must never forget either that true compassion is truth, but always with Love. And only in Love will we ever be able to work with God and to His will - only then can we hope to change the culture. We, as the Church must, be a reflection of the very face of Jesus Christ. People are attracted to the truth, but if we don't live that truth, then there is nothing that can attract.
In the Popes conclusion at St. Patricks, he said:
"Act as beacons of hope, casting the light of Christ upon the world, and encouraging young people to discover the beauty of a life given completely to the Lord and his Church."
That is how we can change a culture... The question is, are we willing?

Friday, 18 April 2008

Freedom


Being a Scot, 'Freedom' is a cry I hear continually when I'm home. Mel Gibsons dramatic account of the life of William Wallace in his blockbuster film 'Braveheart' was a film I encountered as a child and it's one I enjoy today (even though I know the historical content isn't entirely accurate) and something which I know many people love especially in the North.
When William Wallace was talking about Freedom, he was talking about the Scottish people being free from English rule. It is true, that English rule was often barbaric and indeed exploitative and that bred, to this day, contempt For England and English people. I must admit, if England get beat, be it football, rugby, cricket, or whatever, I'm generally a happier than I would be if Scotland were to actually win or being a little closer to reality, to qualify for anything. As a friend of mines put it recently 'I don't care we were second last in the Six Nations, all that matters is that we beat England'. I couldn't help agreeing.
It's not that I hate English people... Far from it! I have a lot of English family and friends whom I deeply love and care about. I also like England for it's regional diversity which I suppose I didn't appreciate until recently. I even live in England!!! But there is something there because of my Scottish identity, which makes it hard to let go of the notion of 'Freedom' that Wallace was talking about.
In the same sense, our notion of freedom today is one often colored by the past. In France the degree to which secularism influenced the society after the French revolution was frightening because of the total collapse of the monarchy and because of the persecution of the highly influential Church. The revolutionaries wanted to be free of that system, yet the revolution itself lead to persecution, hatred, slaughter of priests, and harsh treatment if you were to disagree. In many ways, Freedom, when understood in the context of hate and born out of bitterness, is destructive in all it's forms.
Yet in Poland, where freedom was a result peace and a willingness by the people to go through the hard times, and to understand that even though they found life difficult and hard, the evil in their country would eventually consume itself. Their freedom, born out of prayer and suffering resulted in a democratic society, not without it's difficulties, but peaceful nonetheless.
Pope John Paul the great was often criticised for his opposition to liberation theology, but when he wrote memory and identity (his last book) he talked about evil consuming itself, but also (and this was probably influenced a lot by our present Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI) that the Kingdom isn't so much creation healed as Hans Kung would have said, but the Kingdom is with God in Heaven. Hence why we have to be a people of hope, and that means a life lived in the passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It's all roses, and that means with thorns as well as beauty.
In our country at the moment and indeed the western world, secularism is almost following a similar route to that of the historical bitterness described above because of a bad experience of religion or in many cases a result of the genuine abuse of religion used for personal gain and immoral deeds. The Freedom from religion as understood today is no different to that of the French Revolution, or the bitterness a Scottish person holds even in a minor level. It's not true freedom, it's hate.
Pope Benedict in his speech to Catholic teachers in the USA talked about freedom in this way:
"Freedom is not an opting out. It is an opting in -- a participation in Being itself. Hence authentic freedom can never be attained by turning away from God. Such a choice would ultimately disregard the very truth we need in order to understand ourselves."
If we are to be truly free then, we must turn to God, and not away from Him. Some of you reading this might be thinking that if you come back to the Church or you seriously dedicate your life to God, that you might loose something of yourself. That you give up being you... But in reality, the opposite is true. It's only in God that I can truly be 'me'. Only with God's grace can I reach my potential, not necessarily seen in the eyes of the world or by human standards, but by fulfilling our nature, that is to say we become what we are actually meant to be. Not what the world wants us to be.
If you are searching, then open yourself to the possibility of God, as you can never really turn away from God, as He is always there, everywhere, in all times. What you can do is close the door to God, and that is your choice, it's the freedom he gives. But if your notion is freedom is one of hate, bad experience, anger.... Then you will only harm, rather than truly liberate.
Maybe the notion of freedom as Wallace understood it was born out of a desire to get justice, but it was his justice and not necessarily true justice, and that resulted in death of thousands of innocent people and not in the true liberation of our homeland. Yes, it's a brave, romantic story; but it doesn't make it right. If we then can truly understand freedom, we might be well on the way to understanding what it means to truly live a life of faith, hope and love.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Hope and the New Evangelization



Recently I've posted a few times about the idea of Hope and what this means for us in our lives and for the people around us.


The Pope on his visit to the USA has given the theme for his visit 'Christ our Hope'. The Holy Father has spoken time and time again about what this means for the Church and what it means for the world around us. In an interview with the EWTN anchorman Raymond Arroyo the somewhat pious Host asked the then Cardinal Ratzinger what the new evangelization means. The Cardinal replied:


"It's not that we're going to have mass conversions and that the whole world is going to be Catholic... This is not the way of God. We are going to have smaller, but well formed and catechised communities who are sound in their faith. From these communities there will be a radiation of joy into the world allowing new life to flourish in the spring time of hope. Throughout history and looking back to the early church we started as only 12 apostles and from this community new life flourished and the world was changed".


It's important we get this... We have to become a Church of the beatitudes. I'm not talking about throwing away tradition here, far from it. We take everything with us, our liturgy, our living tradition and faith. Some people say the Church of the beatitudes should be the rainbow stole wearing, Von Harnak loving, Karl Rahner worshiping community. Well that's not what I'm on about. If I could i'd slam dunk that idea into the bin.


We are talking about a community which reflects the beauty, the majesty, the awesome raw truth of the love of mercy of Jesus Christ. Living our lives in the authentic christian sense which means to love until it hurts. Yet we have to be people of Joy... Again if your not the charismatic clap-aclap-ahandy then don't worry, I'm not either. But joy is expressed in many forms... Even if it is a Scottish dry sense of humour!!


Most of all we are called to be faithful to Christ, and that means being faithful to the 'Rock' which He left us, the Church.
The New Evangelization is a great challenge to each and everyone of us and one we need to take seriously.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Hope



If you watch the news and read the papers, you might be forgiven for thinking that the world is on it's knees. A world Credit Crunch is dropping banks like flies, a world food crisis has caused protests in developing countries and in some cases deaths, the violence surrounding the Olympic games seems to be growing and secularism is being promoted daily by the ever increasing stream of extremism which we are seeing in Islam at the moment.


Today, the Holy Father will visit the united states; at his Sunday audience speaking on the missionary dimensions any vocation brings with them, he said he was going to share in that missionary experience on his pastoral visit to the USA. The Pope is not going to the USA as a diplomat, or indeed as an apologist; he's going as a missionary.


In a time when the world looks as and if and indeed it is in trouble, the Holy Father is going to bring a message of hope which is underpinned by faith, conversion, repentance and healing. In short it's foundation is the Paschal mystery - the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.


In his recent encyclical Spe Salvi the Pope said:


"details of what awaits them, but they know in general terms that their life will not end in emptiness. Only when the future is certain as a positive reality does it become possible to live the present as well. So now we can say: Christianity was not only “good news”—the communication of a hitherto unknown content. In our language we would say: the Christian message was not only “informative” but “performative”. That means: the Gospel is not merely a communication of things that can be known—it is one that makes things happen and is life-changing. The dark door of time, of the future, has been thrown open. The one who has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new life."


He continues:


"Yet at this point a question arises: in what does this hope consist which, as hope, is “redemption”? The essence of the answer is given in the phrase from the Letter to the Ephesians quoted above: the Ephesians, before their encounter with Christ, were without hope because they were “without God in the world”. To come to know God—the true God—means to receive hope."


We have to, now more than ever be true witnesses to this message of hope. Most of my friends don't believe in God. If I was to go into the Pub and ask them to simply go to a Mass (of any form) that would be nice, and maybe they would enjoy it and find it interesting, but they probably would decline my offer & it's nothing if I myself am not living that faith and being a true witness to the hope the our Lord brings. Yet they might be inspired by us if we allow the Holy Spirit to penetrate our hearts and minds.


We must be concerned about this, and we must ourselves be missionaries in our own lives. Our world is on it's knees... And if we think about it, most of our friends and in some cases our families are being literally starving, and trying to satisfy this hunger for our Lord, by the material pleasures this world has to offer. Yet that's the thing, those things are temporal, a live in faith is eternal. It's not simply our faith, it's the truth and we are called to go forth and make disciples of all nations. Not by force, not by indoctrination, but by the power of the Holy Spirit in the world.


"As Christians we should never limit ourselves to asking: how can I save myself? We should also ask: what can I do in order that others may be saved and that for them too the star of hope may rise? Then I will have done my utmost for my own personal salvation as well."


Please pray for the Pope in his visit to the US, and pray that many hearts and minds will be filled with Hope and Healing as we go forward to bring the message of Christ to the world.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Vocations Sunday


This is somewhat of a rant so I warn you in advance.
We need priests, God is calling men to be priests and the Holy Spirit does not wish the Church to die and the sacraments along with it!
Rant over...
I beg you, please pray for Vocations to the priesthood and the religious life. 'Duc in Altum' as John Paul the great would often say. Sometimes it's not easy to accept that God might be asking you to do something like this. A vocation is a personal call from God. Like the Prophet, we need to respond 'Here I am Lord'.
For more information on Vocations then speak to your parish priest or local vocations director and for more info on vocations which favour the extraordinary rite then please visit www.riseandpray.blogspot.com to where you will find links to various sites and blogs. But most of all pray, pray, and pray.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Conversion and me


Tonight my sister and I were chatting... She with her Red Wine, me (because of my diet) with my uber strong black coffee!



As many of you may or may not know, I am a fairly nostalgic person and at times I get a little carried away in my thoughts. Tonight was no exception.



We talked about our lives and about the people we are now. Neither of us thought we would ever want to live in Suffolk; being Edinburgh born and bread we are both extremely pleased and proud of the fact that we are Scottish and East coasters. And it's somewhat of a surprise that we have both came to settle here and that we both really like life here.



Recently I've discovered again the joyful child that I once was. People always used to tell me how joyful I was; always laughing, smiling, cheerful. But when I went to School, all I remember are tears, dread of going into school again and a complete hatred and resentment of my time there. When I left high school, I made a vow never to return to the town of the school and it was only out of sheer need that I ever went back.



My experience of my life during and out of school was a fairly negative one. A lot of being bullied, being overweight, feeling unpopular all kind of made me a very bitter, angry and serious person. I could never let anyone in, or make any sort of commitment. Every time I opened myself I was hurt and that just added to 'me' being suppressed.



When I came back to my faith I loved what I heard, but still I only allowed God to change what I wanted him too. I held on tightly to the anger, the seriousness, the resentment. That all fell into the person I was in seminary too. Quick to judge, angry all the time, a person at odds with himself and the system. All my laughter had gone. All my joy had vanished. I didn't trust a soul.



Eventually I got to the stage where I couldn't sleep, a lot of guys felt like that in seminary. Being kept awake half the night and not knowing why. In three weeks you're lucky if I had maybe 20 hours sleep. The result was a broken person, struggling to cope with a workload, and unable to think clearly. I was also so unhappy. There was a lot to be unhappy about in seminary but that's besides the point.



When I left seminary (in that state) I fell into a deep depression. Very angry, very irrational, no confidence, no joy and only happiness in the work that I did.



In February, I went to a youth 2000 retreat in Harrogate in Leeds. That weekend I felt 'me' return. I felt the joy of laughter again. The joy of loving others again and the want to reach out to people more than I ever had. God melted away the ice because I prayed 'Lord, do with me as you will, take me where I do not want to go'. Sometimes I've heard people say be careful what you wish for, and it's true. But I'm glad Jesus answered my prayer.



Life now is not as I expected it would be. I'm chilled out, happy, confident, completely trusting in our Lord; yet every day I have to make that renewal and that conversion to God over again because I know it is He who has given me new life, but that new life becomes old with presumption. Even when it's difficult, I feel that I, by the Lords grace can give it all up to Him, and that by trusting in His mercy, His love and providence that I will be fine.



Conversion in my experience is a daily plea to the Lord by asking Him not only to make us reflect the face of Jesus, but that He give us the very heart of His only Son. Conversion is in being taken were we do not want to go... But man, is it worth it!!!

Saturday, 12 April 2008

21st Century opened under the sign of Martyrdom


The following is the text of a communication from the Vatican Information Service or the VIS. Every time I read what Pope Benedict has to say I cant help but be moved... Again following my last post I think this bears some significance.


VATICAN CITY, 8 APR 2008 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon, the Holy Father visited the Basilica of St. Bartholomew on Rome's Isola Tiberina to mark the 40th anniversary of the foundation of the Sant'Egidio Community. At the basilica he presided at a celebration of the Word in memory of witnesses of the faith in the 20th and 21st centuries.


"In this place", said the Pope in his address, "we ask ourselves why did these our martyr brothers and sisters not seek at all costs to save the irreplaceable benefit of life? Why did they continue to serve the Church despite threats and intimidation?"


In this place, he went on, "we hear resound the eloquent testimony of those who, not only during the 20th century but since the dawn of the Church, ... have offered their lives to Christ in martyrdom" and "washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb".


This quote from the Book of Revelation, said the Holy Father, explains the reasons for martyrdom. The "coded language" of St. John "contains a precise reference to the white flame of love which made Christ spill His blood for us. By virtue of that blood we have been purified. Sustained by that flame the martyrs also spilt their blood and were purified in love".


Benedict XVI then went on to recall Christ's phrase: "No-one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends", and he added: "All witnesses of the faith experience this 'greater love'", conforming themselves to Christ and "accepting the extreme sacrifice without placing limits on the gift of love and the service of faith.


"Pausing before the six altars which recall Christians who died under the totalitarian violence of Communism, of Nazism, those killed in America, in Asia and Oceania, in Spain and Mexico, and in Africa, we ideally follow many painful events of last century. Many fell as they performed the evangelising mission of the Church: their blood mixed with that of native Christians to whom the faith had been communicated.


"Others, often minorities, were killed in hatred for the faith. Finally, no small numbers sacrificed themselves so as not to abandon the needy, the poor, the faithful entrusted to their care, not fearing threats and dangers. ... These, our brothers and sisters in the faith, are like a great fresco of Christian humanity in the 20th century, a fresco of Beatitudes, which they lived even unto the shedding of blood".


"It is true that violence, totalitarianism, persecution and mindless brutality appear to be stronger and to silence the voice of witnesses of faith, who may seem as the losers of history in human terms. But the risen Christ illuminates their witness and thus we understand the meaning of martyrdom. ... The blood of martyrs is the seed of new Christians. In the defeat and humiliation of those who suffer because of the Gospel is a power which the world does not know. ... It is the power of love, unarmed and victorious ".


The Holy Father proceeded: "This 21st century also began under the sign of martyrdom. When Christians truly are leaven, light and salt of the earth they too become, as Jesus did, objects of persecution" and "signs of contradiction. Fraternal coexistence, love, faith, and choices in favour of the smallest and the weakest ... sometimes provoke violent aversion. How useful it is, then, to look to the shining witness of those who have gone before under the sign of heroic faithfulness, even unto martyrdom".


Benedict XVI concluded his homily by inviting the members of the Sant'Egidio Community to imitate "the courage and perseverance" of martyrs "in serving the Gospel, especially among the poor. Be architects of peace and reconciliation between enemies and those who fight one another".


After the celebration, the Holy Father went outside to greet people who had followed the ceremony from the square in front of the basilica.


"The Word of God, love for the Church, preference for the poor and communication of the Gospel", he told members of the Sant'Egidio Community, "have been the stars that guided you as you, under different skies, testified to the one message of Christ".


After giving thanks for the "apostolic work, ... the concern for the weakest and the search for peace that distinguish your community", Benedict XVI encouraged them "not to fear the difficulties and suffering this missionary activity brings, they are part of the 'logic' of courageous witness of Christian love".

Friday, 11 April 2008

Swingers!


Today the BBC reported that a farmer in Devon has caused a bit of a stir in his local village; he plans to open club vanilla (pictured alongside). This isn't any normal club... It's a 'swingers' club!
I did a quick google search about swingers in general (not pictures or anything before you get idea's) and what I found was disturbing.
'Bi-sexual couple seek soft swap', 'Christians for swap' - you get the general idea.
Why am I blogging on this? Well I think this is a deep sign that our culture is in trouble. It's obvious really, and you might say as I often do 'No way sherlock', but it's something we have to tackle and something we are called to challenge.
'Go therefore and make disciples of all nations' cf Matt 28:19. This isn't something we can take likely, the call by John Paul II for the new evangelization isn't simply a thing to get us excited. It's a call from the Holy Church, inspired by the Holy Spirit to go and tell everyone the message of the Gospel and to challenge them to open their hearts to allow Christ to their very being.
'Duc in Altum' John Paul II would often say 'Launch out into the deep'. All to often we are scared to do this, we are scared to mention our faith. We shouldn't be, we should be ringing with joy about the Gospel because it's a Gospel of hope. It's what gives meaning to our lives. Salvation history lies not only in the past but in the present because God is eternal and present in all ages. He does not change, we change, but God is always the same. How many times has someone said 'That doctrine might have been fine in the middle ages but not in the modern world'?
Our bodies are temples of the holy spirit but they are more than that. They are the revelation of the person, our very being. To use them as a simple object is not only harmful for us, and our relationships; it means God has no room to enter and to heal us. It means no to eternal life in the Kingdom of God.
We cannot ingnore the serious situation of our culture today and we must challege Catholics at all levels to take that challenge seriously. Are we willing to do so? And if not, then do we have faith at all?
Moving to another place (which is generally well known for it's liberal attitudes towards sex) and talking to these people about such issues is proof enough for me that it's no easy job. But let us remember with the Church, our faith is built on 'the rock'. We have the truth! The challenge is not to necessarily always tackle the problem, but to tackle the culture in a big way. 'Do not be afraid' was another line from the great pontiff. Let us open the doors of our hearts wide open to Christ; and help others on the road to finding Jesus so that they may be able to do so too.

May Devotions




Since it's May, i thought I'd post something I got from ' A moment with Mary ' , a regular E-Mail that my Father sends me every day. Enjoy.


I think one of the major defects in world religions has been the absence of the feminine. The absence becomes more striking in a study of Christian sects where so little attention is paid to the Mother of Christ. It would be strange to visit a friend's home and yet never hear him speak of his mother. (...)



True, in the course of History, there have been exaggerations in devotion to Mary, but it was not the Church that made her important; it was Christ Himself. The Church has never adored Mary, because only God may be adored. But she, of all creatures, was closest to God. Without her as the key, it is difficult to discover the treasures in the vault of Faith. God Who made the sun also made the moon. The moon does not take away from the brilliance of the sun. The moon would be only a burned-out cinder floating in the immensity of space, were it not for the sun. All its light is reflected from that glowing furnace. In like manner, Mary reflects her Divine Son, without whom she is nothing. On dark nights we are thankful for the moon; when we see it shining, we know there must be a sun. So, in this dark night of the world, when men turned their backs on Him who is the Light of the World, we look to Mary to guide our feet while we await the sunrise.


Fulton Sheen, Treasure in Clay


- The Autobiography of Fulton J. Sheen, Image Books 1982. (Society for the Propagation of the Faith

HFE Bill and The Public

Yesterday 'The Times' had as their front page story that the Public supports the HFE bill, thus the scientists had won the debate.

A week ago the Catholic Church in Scotland said 60% of people opposed the bill.

It might be a good thing to take the polls with a pinch of salt and to sit back and reflect seriously on what is at stake.

  • Human-Animal Hybrids
  • Children with no knowledge of who their father is
  • Liberalisation of Abortion Laws and provisions extended to Northern Ireland

These issues deserve much reflection and consideration, but we have to remember what we are doing. The vast majority of the public have no clue what the embryo is, have no clue what the consequences of not knowing genetically who you are, and have no clue that over 20,000 women a year are destroyed by their experience of Abortion and many have lifelong problems and guilt because they know they have ended the life of their child. I wonder how many of the people, questioned in both polls, actually know the hard facts?

When you destroy an embryo, you end the life of another human being - scientific fact! This is not a metaphysical problem or theological position, it's simple science - conception equalls human life. The utilitarian would say, but it's for the greater good and the embryo does not suffer. I would ask the utilitarian, if a family are asleep and because of dodgy plumming they had a CO2 leak and they died, but they didn't suffer, is that OK? Or when someone takes the law into their own hands and ends the life of a person who has caused them pain and likely to cause others pain, but they wont suffer, is that OK?

We have to seriously consider what we are doing!

As for the fatherless state... Well I reccomend a book to you to read about such problems by Dr Alexina McWhinnie, called 'Who and I?'. In the book she has people write about their experience as Donor Sperm children and how the searched for who they were, but couldn't find an answer. Here is a quote from Joanna Rose who is such a child:

'As for me, in the last 10 years I have found three very likely contenders to be my genetic relatives. There have been many other possibilities too. I frequently receive messages from donor offspring, who send me their photo's to ask if I look like them. Who knows who I am related to? I certainly dont'

She goes on:

'For me the emptional and ethical issues that have been raised by trying to track down my genetic family, now thought to be, with half siblings, in their hundreds, carries enormous, and arguably equally consuming effects as having to face infertility itself. But I notice that the pain and the emotional anguish take front stage.'

And the bit which sums this bill up:

'Reproductive technology has embarked on an experiment on me and others. I am one of the guinea pigs, telling you the results of this experiment on me'.

She ends:

'If infertility is to be considered, and responded to, as an objective and lamentable loss, then for reasons of equity and consistency, the mirror image of this loss for the next generation should not then be presented as something to be willingly created and responded to with indifference. Those who do so are either blind to their own hypocrisy, or happy to endorse the creation of a tpye of underclass to serve the utility and desires of others.'

When you consider your position on this bill, think about the countless millions who will be in this position in 50 years time. This bill is not only NOT in the best interests of the child, but it's also sheer macabre curiosity from scientists who see themselves as masters of the universe. When you think of a womens right to abort a child, consider for a moment the child and the woman - don't seperate the issue. Think about the suicidal thoughts, the self harm, emotional punishment, substance abuse and broken relationships they will face as a result of post abortion trauma a NHS recognised problem.

Please write to your MP's make your voice heard, because it's people like Joanna who will be affected. And if you remain silent, it's you who will be guilty of turning a blind eye.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

The New Evangelization


Since my fathers conversion some 4 years ago now, he has taken a lot of interest in Our Blessed Mother. She, is probably responsible in some way for that conversion as my father discovered the Catholic faith in quite a profound way in Lourdes some 30 + years ago, yet he felt moved after suffering a serious stroke to finally cross the tiber in our Home parish of Our Lady of Loretto and St. Michael the Archangel.
Likewise my own journey home was due to Lourdes, where I encountered a lot of things catholics probably shouldn't do, but where I couldn't helped be moved by the faith, the joy, the hope and the deep sense of unity that united everyone there; when I came home I was a different person. Yet every day has been another conversion. I'm not perfect by any means and I now know how important it is to daily ask for that conversion of heart and plead for the grace I need.
At each time in my life where I have strayed, Our Lady has come to my help and when each time I did well, I always prayed the memorare at (the insistence of my own mother) beforehand. She has lit my path. Why am I telling you this? Well my father sent me an E-Mail today because he knew the I'm struggeling a little to settle into my new life here in England. This is what it said...

To contemplate the face of Christ, and to contemplate it with Mary, is the "program" which I have set before the Church at the dawn of the third millennium, summoning her to put out into the deep on the sea of history with the enthusiasm of the new evangelization. To contemplate Christ involves being able to recognize Him wherever He manifests Himself, in His many forms of presence, but above all in the living sacrament of His body and His blood.
The Church draws her life from Christ in the Eucharist; by Him she is fed and by Him she is enlightened. The Eucharist is both a mystery of faith and a "mystery of light". Whenever the Church celebrates the Eucharist, the faithful can in some way relive the experience of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus: "their eyes were opened and they recognized Him" (Lk 24:31).



John Paul II Ecclesia de Eucharistia #6 (2003)
This tells me again to turn to Our Lady, but to also turn to the physical presence of the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus in the Eucharist, the most blessed sacrament of the alter. Because only in following God, will we achieve any semblence of peace; and in drawing strength from the Adoration in the blessed sacrament, meeting our Physical Lord right before our eyes, we will have the strength and the courage for the tasks that the new evangelization calls for.
For more information on the new evangelization, http://www.friendswithchrist.blogspot.com/ run by Fr Richard and Fr Julian is a good place to visit.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Tony does it again



Well Tony has done it again... Today the Times newspaper was hailing the former PM as the man who is going to save faith from 'rampant secularism' but also unite moderates and doctrinists. Apparently this is Blairs big return to public service.

Interestingly enough when asked questions on contraception and AIDS and about his Catholic faith he managed, as the skilled politician he is, to dodge every single question.

I think any attempt to save faith from rampant secularism is a good thing, but I feel Mr Blairs motives are questionable. He comes into the Catholic faith after giving us one of the worst anti-life governments in living history, he then supports gay rights charities, he wont state an opinion on the HFE bill (because it was his brain child most likely) and yet he calls himself a christian never mind a catholic.

I admire Tony Blair because he's a good orator, and also has the guts to make tough decisions, but if his faith foundation is any reflection on what his own relativistic, cafeteria christianity (never mind Catholicism), then I hope it never takes off as ultimately he will do more harm than good.

In Catholicism there is no right or left; you either choose to accept Church teaching or not. If Mr Blair wants to reject Church teaching then he should have the guts to stand up and tell us and not hide behind the faith which means so much to me and billions around the world.

Monday, 7 April 2008

A great post







Fr Tim Finigan has been known to state his voice on a number of issues, but this post made me proud to be a Catholic.


Please follow the link to read his general thoughts on the liturgy and everyday life as a parish priest, but especially this article on the 'Genk' which is Tony Blair. Yes, St. Monica and I are still praying for your conversion Mr Blair... And St. Monica is still praying for me. In the words of someone wise... Oremus Pro Invicem!


Sunday, 6 April 2008

Olympics and Me


I'm not an athlete by any standards, but since loosing a lot of weight lately, I've re-discovered a love for the gym and all things 'Sport'. Trying to run non stop for 10 minutes would have probably killed me in January, but now it seems I might be within reach of that target - pathetic I hear you cry, but it's something I never thought I could do.
I've always enjoyed the Olympics because to me it always enshrined something a little bit special, extraordinary, and beyond the reach of the average human. I never thought I would be in the Olympics, and my hunch on that proved correct. But for those athletes who spend their time and their lives training for a single event, trying to narrow down those invaluable .0's of a second, it must be in their every waking thought, dream, action and deed.
Likewise someone who has faith in anything, be it God, a social system like socialism, communism or democracy, or even those with the beleif in aitheism; that faith shapes our lives, our actions and the decisions we make.
Our Government is supporting the Beijing Olympics, and although I want to because I like watching the events, I'm not really sure I can. China has an awful human rights record. It's a place where my brothers and sisters in the Catholic Church are persecuted daily, it's where people are rounded up and tortured, where children are literally left to die for gender or physical reasons... The list goes on!
The Olympics, weather it is intended to be or not, is always seen as a public endorsment of the country where it is held. So many people are saying it's a sporting event, not a political one, thus we should not hold back our support for the event because of that reason. But if I believe in the sanctity and dignity of human life, and I take my catholic faith seriously, then how can I support such an endorsment of a country which on all levels opposes my very being? But then again how can I support the London Olympics when our Government is promoting this culture which is anti life, anti God and has a distorted view of human rights on all levels... It's a difficult dilema.
Faith is something which penetrates our very being, our very fabric of existence. It's not something I can simply switch on and off. Yet constantly, our culture and politicians ask us to switch off the faith button when they don't agree with what our faith tells us. The simple reality is that if you have a faith on and off switch, then you don't have faith. That statement is not being a fundamentalist, that's being true to our moral compass, which our 'Supreme Leader' Gordon told us he had. Where was his moral compass today in accepting the Torch? Where was it when he wanted a Three Line whip (which there still is in some aspects) on the HFE bill? Where was it when he said 'let all the little children come unto me' and yet supports abortion?
I do not support any violent protests, or trying to be extreme to get on the airwaves; but come the Olpymics, I will switch to another station. Why? Because I see Christ in those people being persecuted and I cannot turn a blind eye to my brothers and sisters pain just because I like and value what the Olympics stand for. Yes, let there be reconcilliation and peace, but for that to happen China must first of all repent and so far, I've not seen Hu Jintao saying he's sorry.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

True Love




This might be slightly odd to post on the cross so soon after Easter, but I really feel it's necessary to comment on something which I think is all to often forgotten in our faith.


Many priests talk about Love and God's love and how this should give us hope and how God is nice and good. But not many talk about the nature of God's love. What do I mean by that?


The Pope the other day as you will see on my Good Friday post, that 'the cross should challenge and question us, because the cross is the true act of Love which is self emptying'. It's an interesting concept that... Self emptying, self denial, to say no to me and yes to God.


Through the cross we understand what it means to Love. Jesus had to die on the cross because 'We' had sinned. He paid the ultimate price which was giving up his own life for us all.


Why did God send his son to the cross? Becuase God loved the world so much that he sent his only son... The Fathers sacrifice of His son and His Son's sacrifice for us show us that when we say 'God loves you' we mean God is willing to give everything for you, willing to die for you, willing to suffer in the most awful way so that you might still share in the New Life of the gospel. That you may one day come to the Kingdom of God, and that you might share in his wonderful gift of Mercy.


We don't mean, that God loves you so you can do whatever you want... Yes, even if you sin God will love you, but you won't be able to reach God unless you repent and unless you allow God to take you where you do not want to go.


Let the cross challenge you, and let it give you hope because ultimately without the cross Jesus could not have saved us. He had to suffer, die and be treated like the worst kind of person, just so that you could have eternal life. And through the cross, death and resurrection we can have that Life and live it abundently.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Pope John Paul II



Karol Józef Wojtyła

Pope John Paul II

18.5.20 - 02.04.05

totus tuus

"i have searched for you, and now you have found me, and I thank you"

Are there any limits today?



I got this from the Orthfully Catholic blog, but I felt the need to comment on it. First of all the story itself...

The Times Thursday March 27 2008, p43'Married man who used to be a woman is pregnant with a baby girl'Who says fatherhood is being made redundant? When it becomes totally unnecessary for men to be present at the conception of a child he will simply carry the child for his infertile wife.

This is a report discovered by James Bone proudly printed in The Advocate an American gay magazine. Tracy Lagondino had a sex change and became Thomas Beatie, married Nancy who was rendered infertile by a hysterectomy operation 8 years ago so, still having 'his' womb and ovaries Thomas inseminated himself and became pregnant with triplets. The pregnancy was ectopic and he lost them with his right fallopian tube.

He tried again and is now 22 weeks pregnant with a baby girl. The insemination had to be done at home as they couldn't find a doctor who would help them due to religious reasons.

I'm rather sickened by this article. This is a classic, albeit extreame example of the moral relativism we find ourselves in today.

Where does it ever end? What are the moral limits? This is also a complete disregard for the welfare of the child. Imagine asking Daddy where babies come from... That would be a fantastic birds and the bee's talk to hear.

The body is the revelation of the person... Nuff said.

We are all sinners!



On Good Friday, the Holy Father seemed to shock the Catholic world by appearing in a fiddleback... Most were pleased, some rainbow loving Von Harnack Fans weren't to happy at all. But it was rather sad that nobody really picked up on what the Holy Father actually said.

A while ago, I had a conversation with a friend about contraception. She was formed in a time were most priests were telling people that contraception was fine. 'It's your own conscience'. When I mentioned to her about contraception being wrong, she said that I was implying she was a sinner and she thought she was a good person, who wouldn't be judged for being sensible for family planning.

When Pope Benedict spoke on Good Friday, he was talking about how Christ challenges human certainties. He spoke of how Our Lords death on the Cross should question us and challenge us. That those who seek only Love and Libery that exclude God cannot allow the Cross to question us, because we don't understand the meaning of self emptying love such as that demonstrated on the Cross.

Jesus is, as the pope described Jesus as the truth that makes us free to Love. 'Let us not be afraid' was the banner of the Gospel and of John Paul II, and our Holy Father Pope Benedict used that banner so well when he said:

'Let us not be afraid. Upon dying the Lord destroyed death and saved sinners, that is us all'

The reality is, nice person or not, we all have the tendancy to sin. Thus we are all in need of God's grace and His guidance not our own. The Bishops of the Phillipines said sorry to their people because they had let them be formed in their own consciences, without realising that their consciences had to be formed by God, not by themselves.

Let's take the challenge and the question of the Cross seriously, that event was all for us; because nice man or not, we are all sinners and we all are in need of the Lord and his merciful Love.