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Off to the Eternal City!

I feel so excited about going to Rome. Not only is it the first family holiday in six years, but we’re going to visit a city that is steeped in history, art, culture, the blood of Saints and Martyrs, Catholicism and of course,  Italian food! We will be away for 11 days and I will not be posting anything for the duration of or holiday. I will be using a pen and paper to jot down my thoughts and feelings, the old-fashioned way, before sharing it with you here at 1catholicsalmon.

I’m leaving all my work done and dusted, and boy, it feels great.

I must admit to a little disappointment at having to miss the Queen’s 60th Jubilee celebrations this week-end….I know it’s going to be spectacularly memorable. But, hey, I’ll always be able to say, ‘We were in Rome in the year of the Olympics and the Queen’s Jubilee!!’.

Ciao!

5 Questions Before You Leave the Catholic Church.

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Most of you have probably followed Jennifer Fulweiler’s blog, (Conversion Diary) read something about her by her or written by her. If you haven’t, I’m pleased to be the one to introduce you to an article written by her for the National Catholic Register.  This is not the complete article. If you want to read it in it’s entirety follow the link posted at the bottom of the post.

There are many criticisms of the Catholic Faith and much much-slinging has been going on for some time now, especially with  regard to the sex abuse scandals. This article simply asks 5 questions of those who may be considering leaving the Catholic Church:-

1. Are you sure members of the Church hierarchy are worse than anyone else?

When people cite the pedophilia scandals as a key reason for abandoning the Church, I worry that they’re setting themselves up for deep disappointment. The fact that priests abused children is an idea so horrific that one can hardly bear to think about it, and the fact that some bishops didn’t take action to stop it is almost worse. But the chilling fact — perhaps so chilling that we don’t can’t accept it — is that this is not a problem with Catholic priests and bishops; it’s a problem with human nature. A priest is no more likely to abuse a child than a male schoolteacher, and a bishop is no more likely to cover it up than a school administrator.

The problems may have seemed worse within the Church because it is a single, worldwide organization, so it’s easy to link all the bad occurrences under one umbrella. But if, for example, all the nondenominational churches on the earth were part of a cohesive worldwide system, you would almost certainly see the same issues at the same rates. Instead of each instance being lost in the anonymity of disconnected communities, when they were all considered together it would seem epidemic.

Other organizations are no more safe for children than the Church — in fact, based on personal experience, I believe they are now less safe. Thanks to the pervasive stereotypes about Catholicism, people are lured into a false sense of security when dealing with other organizations, and end up adopting the dangerous mentality that “it couldn’t happen here.”

2. Are you sure your faith life would be better outside of the Church?

Keep in mind that leaving the Catholic Church means leaving the sacraments — sacraments with real power, which are not available outside of the Church that Jesus founded. If it brings you joy to commune with Jesus spiritually, how much better is it to commune with him physically as well? And how lucky are we to have the sacrament of confession, where you can unload all your burdens, hear the words “you are forgiven,” and receive special grace to help you to be the morally upright person you strive to be?

Now, those who are considering leaving the Church may struggle with believing in the supernatural power of the sacraments (in which case I’d recommend checking out these resources). But even if that’s the case, within the two-thousand-year-old Church is an unfathomable treasure chest of spiritual wisdom. We have the Rosary as well as all the other time-tested prayers of the Church. Then there are the lives of the saints, countless stories that offer an inexhaustible supply of information and inspiration about how to have a rich spiritual life. And of course we have a worldwide network of monasteries and convents, and all the great religious orders. I suppose it’s possible to utilize some of these spiritual resources without being a practicing Catholic, but if you believe that they’re good and helpful, why sever them from the source of their wisdom?

3. Are you sure the Church’s teachings are wrong?

There is a pervasive sense in modern culture that whatever spiritual tradition places the fewest moral restrictions on its adherents is most likely to be right. This idea might feel good since it appeals to our natural desire for autonomy, and certainly it is accepted as an immutable fact by modern society. And so if a person follows the path of least resistance carved out by our culture, it would be easy to drift away from all these “oppressive” teachings of the Church, without ever pausing to ask:

But are they true?

Let’s take just one example: The Church’s crazy-unpopular prohibition against contraception. The Church says that it’s neither good for individuals nor for society for couples to use artificial birth control. It’s understandable that someone’s first reaction upon hearing that would be to reject this wildly counter-cultural teaching. I know that when I first heard it, I thought it was one of the most backwards, bizarre ideas I’d ever heard. But when I took a closer look, I was shocked by the wisdom behind this thinking: I realized that contraception doesn’t solve the problems its proponents claim it will solve. I discovered that it makes women lose control over their bodies. I thought of the women I’ve known who have had abortions, and realized that almost every single one of them were using contraception when they conceived. They had been told that it would be just fine to engage in the act that creates babies, even if they were sure they couldn’t have a baby. Then, when they saw the two lines on the pregnancy tests, they felt trapped and scared, believing that they had no choices outside of the walls of the local abortion facility.

Living without artificial contraception has its challenges, but it’s the only system that gives women real freedom. As with so many other Catholic teachings that seemed crazy at first glance, once I took the time to understand the details of this view, I saw that there was a wealth of wisdom behind it beyond anything I could have imagined. It had seemed crazy simply because our culture has it so wrong, and the Church is the last institution left that’s willing to proclaim what’s right.

4. Are you sure the Church’s doctrines aren’t divinely inspired?

In my own conversion to Catholicism I faced serious challenges, including the fact that I was diagnosed with a Deep Vein Thrombosis (blood clot in a major vein) which was caused by a genetic clotting disorder that’s exacerbated by pregnancy. My doctors told me I absolutely had to use contraception. It threw me into a crisis where I had to discern how serious I was about this religion, and how much I was really willing to risk to follow it.

Thanks to some wise advice, I realized that the situation was really quite simple: Is this Church guided by God in its teachings or not? If it’s not, then there’s no reason to listen to anything it says; if it is, then to say that I knew better than the Church was to say that I knew better than God.

When I looked at the unfathomable body of wisdom contained in this organization, considered that it has stood strong while empire after empire has fallen away around it, and saw that it has been unwavering in its core doctrines despite the imperfections of its hierarchy, I simply didn’t think that humans could pull this off on their own. Then, when I began to transform my life according to these teachings, I was completely convinced. Following the “rules” of the Church brought an explosion of grace and peace and love into my life, and into my family’s lives as well. I became convinced that these teachings are not human-made, but come from Someone who knows us better than we know ourselves.

5. Are you sure we don’t need the Church?

At the end of the NPR interview, Quindlen says, “I’ve never really gotten past that quote from Anne Frank in her diary, where she says that people are really good at heart.” I too have always been touched by that quote, and I think it’s worth putting some serious thought into. Because if it’s true that people are ultimately good at heart…then that means that the staff who worked at Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, lining up children in front of the gas chambers, overseeing Anne Frank and her family in slave labor, were good at heart too. How on earth, then, could normal, good people participate in something so evil?

The answer is chillingly simple: Through the power of human rationalization.

To look at the smiling faces of the employees in these pictures of an on-site staff retreat at Auschwitz is to understand that they had all rationalized their behavior. Nobody ever wakes up and says, “I’m going to do something evil today!”, not even the staffers at Auschwitz. The only way evil ever works through us is when we convince ourselves that what we’re doing is actually good. The most dangerous force in the world is the human capacity for rationalization.

I think that some folks reject the concept of the Church’s divinely-inspired moral code because they don’t see why it would even be necessary. Why would God even care to institute something like that? Why can’t each person just get in touch with the spiritual realm and find what’s good and true for him- or herself? The answer to that question can be found in the smiles on the Auschwitz’s employees faces.

Though the individual members of the Catholic Church have made plenty of mistakes, sometimes gravely serious ones, its doctrines have always been a bulwark that protects human life. To a healthy American adult this may seem like an insignificant concept, since the only life that is devalued in our time and place is that of the severely disabled, the unborn, and others who literally do not have a voice. But that could change. The zeitgeist could shift, just as it did in Europe in the 1930s, and new groups of people may suddenly be seen as inconvenient and expendable. And one day the life that the Catholic Church stands up for may be your own.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jennifer-fulwiler/5-questions-before-you-leave-the-catholic-church#ixzz1wNzdbga0

The magnificence of Pentecost.

 

Jean Restout

Prayer to the Holy Spirit

O Holy Spirit, Soul of my soul, I love You and adore You!

Teacher of all truth who searches the deep things of God:
In the face of my hostility to the truth,
You have the power to sting the conscience
With your healing power,
Open up today, again, the floodgates of holy tears,
Let compunction flow in this barren heart,
In this love parched world,
In the hearts of all who long for freedom from sin.

Lord and Giver of Life,
Time is short, the hour is late, and judgment certain:
I beg for the gift of repentance
That I and all those threatened
By the power of death,
Might never again forsake the pathway of life.
Help me scrutinize my whole way of life
In the light of the Gospel.
Help me die to myself that I might live
No longer my own life,
But the Life of Christ in me.

Sanctifying Gift of God,
You are constantly coming
Into the innermost depths of my being:
In ever new and more wondrous ways,
Inebriate me again in Your Love!

Breath of God who sweeps over Creation,
Your presence transforms the heart into paradise
And you constantly fill our inner poverty
With such inexhaustible riches.
Even more, You never cease
To allure us out of self-occupation
And into that sacred silence
Where the Word, who makes all things new, resounds:
As You enter ever deeper into my misery,
Lead me deeper and deeper into the heart of Divine Mercy.

Fire of Love,
Ignite holy affections in the deep places of my heart
that I might never be indifferent to the plight of my neighbor
Or fail to seek forgiveness from those I have wronged,
Or delay in offering forgiveness for those debts I can relieve.
Left to myself, I do not have the power
To forgive or forget an offense,
And in the effort to love as I have been loved,
I feel my weakness and inadequacy all the time.
But you constantly teach me compassion and intercession:
Help me submit my brokenness and sorrow to you.

You who covered the Son with transfiguring brightness,
Illumine our darkness with the radiance of Christ,
In the midst of crisis, help us overcome anxiety and insobriety,
In the midst of disaster, free us from all despondency and sinful anger,
That all those who suffer and are burdened might keep their eyes fixed
On the One who has triumphed over sin and death,
Who alone can lead us to the victory of good over evil.

You who overshadowed the Virgin Mary:
Pierce me with the love of the Father revealed by Christ Crucified,
Lift up my heart with the praise of the Only Begotten Son
In whom the Father is well-pleased,
Enflame me with the prayers of the Risen Lord in bold confidence
For the salvation of the world!

Most High and Glorious God,
I promise to be obedient, teachable, surrendered, and abandoned
In everything you permit to happen to me:
Only let me know your holy and true will.

Amen.

Written by - thoelogy teacher.

Just arrived back…..

home from an evening spent at our parish pastoral centre. I watched the second of ten episodes of Fr. Robert Barron‘s ‘Catholicism‘ series. The DVD presentation lasted for one hour and then there was (sadly) only a half an hour for discussion. Just not enough time.

I missed the first episode, but will move heaven and earth to see the rest of the series. I strongly encourage everyone to do the same!  Look out for when the screening of this series will happen at your parish, or at a parish near you. I received answers to questions I’ ve been asking for years:- Jesus’ radical message for a change of heart moved me deeply. His Good News of everlasting love transcending all the earthly promises of happiness through the likes of  power, pleasure, honour and wealth, has taken on a new meaning of  self-fulfilling shallowness  to me. I get it, I finally get it. I cannot explain why in this post, but let it suffice for me to say that it has changed my understanding of what it means to be a Christian. Absolutely!

In this episode, Fr. Robert focusses on the Teachings of Jesus. The content  was organic in its content, using the platform of the new media to the fullest,jam-packed with the unsurpassed golden nuggets of  the Beatitudes. These as I have never heard them explained before. I heard my Lord’s teachings with ‘new’ ears. I feel uplifted and eager to know more.

This series is not at present being accessed widely in the Southwark Diocese, so if you too want to be invigorated read the parish bulletin  here to keep up to speed. If your parish is looking for something valuable to share in the coming Year of Faith, this is the programme to use: tell your parish priest about Fr. Robert Barron’s ‘Catholicism‘ series and sow the seeds of Christ’s love and work  in your own parish.

Share this! It’s awe inspiring.

Alexander Tsiaras: Conception to birth — visualized

Relating to Mary’s pain.

Image @thecatholicchurch.facebook

The Seven Dolors of Mary

1. The Prophecy of Simeon.
2. The Flight into Egypt.
3. The Loss of the Child Jesus
4. The Meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way of the Cross.
5. The Crucifixion
6. Jesus’ body Struck by a Lance, Taken Down from the Cross
7. The Burial of Jesus.

Open wide your door to Christ.

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Can you see Jesus?

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We have purpose.

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“We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.” - Pope Benedict XVI

Uncomfortable.

 

Image @knowhislove.com

Alleged private revelations have occurred throughout the history of the Church and continue to occur today. Many Catholics are confused about the status of such events. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Throughout the ages, there have been so-called ‘private revelations’, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith” [para. 67]. The only way that Catholics can avoid being led astray in the matter of alleged private revelations is to be completely docile, humble and obedient to the Church’s legitimate declarations at all times.

Perhaps the most persistent local ‘apparition’ of recent times is that of ‘Our Lady of Surbiton.’ Operating as the Divine Innocence Trust, it has been the subject of many reports in the secular press over the years, including a very sympathetic article in The Spectator early in 2002. Its founder, Patricia de Menezes, lays claim to 2,000-3,000 followers in 42 countries. Patricia alleges that around 1984 she began seeing the Virgin Mary and Jesus in a pine tree located in a new housing development in Surbiton, south London, where, she says, Our Lady continues to appear to her at 12 noon Monday-Friday and 9pm on weekends. She also claims to have been personally catechised by Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Official Response
The then Ordinary with competency in this matter, Archbishop Michael Bowen, declared that Patricia’s messages are not of supernatural origin. It has also been categorically stated by Archbishop’s House, Southwark that Patricia’s messages are not being examined by the relevant Congregation in Rome with a view to eventual approval. Official representatives of Divine Innocence have been less than honest about this when contacted. A phone call was made to Divine Innocence querying the official position, and the representative stated “The (local) bishop hasn’t conceded yet. It’s all gone to Rome now, so we’re just waiting…”. Other inquirers have also been given this sort of information – or more correctly, misinformation – as there is nothing to wait for. Patricia’s works are not being examined by the relevant Congregation in Rome.

Patricia and her followers often make much of the fact that her writings have been well received by certain theologians, but any opinions offered by these theologians, no matter how positive in tone, are only their private opinions and as such are of no consequence in this matter. It would be very misleading of anyone to claim otherwise. In recent years, many renowned theologians supported the fraudulent ‘seer’ Vassula Ryden, until the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith officially stated that her messages contained error and could not be considered to be of supernatural origin. 

What I find really disturbing is the Divine Innocence followers continue to ‘believe’ and exist without the Pope’s blessing! This already throws doubt on the authenticity of the group. Move askance  from the Pope and the Magistarium, and do so in error and at great risk.

I have had direct contact with this group over a number of years and they are definitely set themselves apart from  mainstream Catholics. Their way of life is very conservative with seemingly little contact with anyone outside of the group. The children are cosseted and ‘protected’ from secular activities deemed unsuitable for young children. There are many of them. The women present as having an inferior role in parenting the children to those of men. They are a close-knit group that seem suspicious of anyone outside of their ideals.

Surely we should be in society to make a change in society?

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