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The Catholic Connection: Part 3

The earliest Christian symbol: @1catholicsalmon

All my life have I been steeped in Catholic Tradition but I ‘ve taken it for granted, merrily assimilating them as part of the Catholic me.  I have always known the shepherd is symbolic of Christ. I can’t even remember when I acquired this knowledge. I never questioned why or where it originated. Well, on my trip to Rome I realised just how much Tradition is part of the Catholic Faith. It rests on it firmly and unequivocally, as far back as the times the time of our ancestors in the Old Testament!

I attended part of a course on Catechises (that of passing on of the Faith) at Maryvale College, in which the above symbol was presented as a matter of course during discussion.  It was pointed out as being the symbol present on the cover of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This changed my perception of the symbol: a simple picture of a shepherd with his sheep, used to grace the cover of the document outlining the Tradition of the Church? It must be of much significance then!

Well, it is.

On the inside cover of the CCC is this explanation for the use of the symbol:

‘The design of the logo on the cover is taken from a Christian tombstone in the catacombs of Domitilla, in Rome, which dates from the end of the third century A.D. This pastoral image, of pagan origin, was used by Christians to symbolize the rest and the happiness of that the soul of the departed finds in eternal life

This image also suggests certain characteristics aspects of the Catechism: Christ, the Good Shepherd who leads and protects his faithful (the lamb) by his authority (the Staff), draws them by the melodious symphony of the truth (the panpipes and makes them lie down in the shade of the ‘tree of life’, his redeeming Cross which opens paradise.’

Image@http://www.vatican.va

On this trip to Rome, I didn’t get to the catacombs of Domitilla, but did visit the catacombs of St Calistus. The photograph above,  is of this wonderful symbol used by the Christians of ancient Rome to communicate their affinity with Christ and with one another. As it was used as pagan symbol the adoption of it by the Christian communities in Rome ensured that they would meet safely to participate in the Eucharist without fear of reprisal or capture.

The objective of this post? To point out that the links to Catholic Connection Tradition runs deep and wide. It is far reaching and extensive. I experienced it in the garden and catacombs of fellow Christians who have gone before me.

Take a little time to unearth them  and see for yourself.

I give thanks and pray about this as written by St Paul in 2 Thessalonians 1:3:

‘We are indebted to give thanks to God for you always, my brethren, as it is necessary, because your faith grows all the more and the love of each and every one of you increases toward his neighbour.’

The Catholic connection: Part 2.

Upon hearing of our impending trip to Rome, our parish priest suggested we purchase the CTS booklet on Rome. So we did.  It s available at any parish book store or alternatively, it can be ordered online here.  What a gem!  It recommends starting a trip to Rome by visiting the ancient burial sites of the early Christians. We visited on the third day of our stay, starting out after breakfast and walking down passed the Colosseum, and onwards to the Circus Maximus.

Scale model of the Circus Maximus in Ancient Rome

This arena was the largest stadium in ancient Rome. At one point the Circus could seat 250.000 people, one quarter of Rome’s population. Contrary to the popular misconception that places the  scene of early persecutions of Christians in the nearby Colosseum, it was in the Circus Maximus that most convicted early Christians perished. As the Circus Maximus had more seating than the Colosseum, this popular spectacle was staged there.

Cicus Maximus as it is today.

Records indicate that only once did Christians face wild beasts in the Colosseum. Looking at what remains today of the stadium, I found difficult to picture the scenes of persecution that occurred there so many centuries ago. What I did sense though was a strange connection with my fellow Christians that I know for sure, had died there. My mind wandered to and fro as I contemplated and later prayed for these brave martyrs and saints! The grandeur of this site is an awesome phenomenon, much like the rest of Rome, exposing them as formidable opponents- doing everything in grand style, to perfection, with  flair and no mercy.

It was from this site that we set off to the find the Via Appia Antica (the Appian Way), one of the earliest and strategically most important Roman roads of the ancient republic. It was on this long road that we were allowed to wonder about those that travelled the road daily to visit with fellow Christians at the catacombs of St. Callistus (Pope).

Porta San Sebastiano is the gate of the Appia in the Aurelian Walls.

About halfway to the Catacombs, we walked through the Gate of St. Sebastian and onwards for a further half an hour before coming upon

a seemingly insignificant little church on the left of the road.

The church is called Domine, Quo Vadis—an odd name for a church, until you hear the parable behind it.

Finding his way blocked by the specter of his Savior, a nervous and surprised Peter who had escaped his persecutors asked, “Domine, Quo Vadis?,” which is Latin for ‘Lord, where are you going?’

Christ replied, “To Rome, to be crucified a second time,” whereupon Jesus disappeared, leaving his footprints in the road’s flagstone as a sign (there’s a cast of them inside the church). A chastened Peter realized that Christ meant he was going to take the place of the weak-willed first pope and die, once again, for his faith. Peter turned around and returned to Rome to take his martyrdom like a man. (In fact, when it came to the moment, Peter gritted his teeth and told his executioners he was unworthy of being crucified in the same manner as his Lord and, in effect, asked them to “Do me upside down.” )

Image from 1catholicsalmon

In the stillness of this little chapel I contemplated the personality of a simple rough-shod, sunburned fisherman from Galilee facing a barbaric form of persecution for his love of Christ. For his belief in the importance of  perpetuating Christ’s message of Love;  The Church founded by Christ Himself.  What an immense sacrifice. Would I ever be able to do something this radical? I don’t know… I pray for the strength to carry the crosses put in my path with conviction and sincerity. St. Peter left his little town and all he loved and cherished for the one purpose given to him by our Lord Jesus: to build His Church. That took absolute of Faith. Absolute Trust. Enduring Love. St. Peter did this so that I may be blessed with Baptism and learn to love my God. Just too incredible for words. I am Blessed.

The preservation of the True Faith was uppermost in the early Christian Fathers‘ priorities. My link with them as a fellow Christian is tangible in Rome. It’s in the air, and this tangibility can be experienced through the Liturgy and in the Holy Eucharist  around the world on a daily basis without doubt.

My resolve as a Catholic was injected with a solid boost of understanding and conviction on the road to the resting place of hundreds of thousands of  Christians who died before me. The Catholic Connection welded firmly into time and space.

More than Gold

A Spiritual side to the olympics this Summer.

Finally connecting the dots.

Image@scenicreflections.com

I just love this picture because it can be used to represents many different life experiences, emotions, difficulties, challenges, feelings and feats. The second I saw this I knew it would serve it’s purpose for this post.

After many years of hard work (slog), perseverance and grit, I was finally promoted to a position at work that I had aspired to when I was a lot younger.  ( On immigrating to the U.K. in my late thirties, I felt as though I had missed the boat in terms of making a real difference through my chosen career, and carving out a niche of expertise and a personal skill set that would  allow me to climb the career ladder.)

This past year has proved to be both challenging and insightful. My superior, who is set to resign within in the next few years, has experienced a difficult time letting go of any responsibilities and delegating them to me. For my part, it’s been a year wrought with self-doubt, introspection and anxiety.

I ‘ ve known Teri for more that a decade and thought that moving into a senior position alongside someone with 25 years of experience to share would be beneficial. However, it has proved to be a somewhat trying year for me. From the outset, have I felt scrutinised, judged and watched. A few weeks into my new position I was told that another member of staff (a favoured friend of Teri’s ), was passed over for the position, and that I was put forward for the position instead. Why even share this kind of information? I felt really uncomfortable, hurt even, by the audacity of the relaying this information. At this point did I begin to feel doubt. Doubt that we would work successfully together. Doubt that we could ever become good friends. Doubt about whether I would be respected as a right-hand man. Doubt that I would remain confident enough in myself and my skills to ‘win’ approval.

Without going into any further detail, let it suffice for me to say that I have been struggling with self-doubt up until this past week. On Tuesday the penny finally dropped for me. I understood why I have been feeling this way. Teri and I see the world from two very different perspectives. I am a practising Catholic. I take for granted that I am there to assist and guide whomever God puts in my path. I go out of my way to be as pleasant and as accommodating as possible. Teri can be pretty self-centred, highly opinionated and derisive, having no Faith that I know of, openly attacking and questioning decisions I  made in Faith.

During a conversation, again it was repeated,’I’m surely not going to do spoon feed them, it’s up to them to do the job properly’ , saying this  after I ‘d suggested that we share good practice with a neighbouring department. It was then that I realised that I have been put into this position for a purpose. I don’t know how the Lord wants to use me, but I have accepted and  made peace with myself about my role in this position.  I have finally connected the dots after much soul-searching. I have found peace.

‘Remember that men change easily, and that you can not place your trust in them; therefore attach yourself to God alone.’

St. Teresa of Jesus

Africa eBook Project

Catholic ebooks for every seminarian in Cameroon, Africa. Join the movement!

When I came across this it made such sense. Find out more about this project here.

Do you have all you need?

Image@Pray as you go.co.uk

Young Adult’s Festival.

See here for information on the upcoming Brightlights Young Adults festival in Aylesford this week-end. It has an excellent reputation for great company and Catechesis. Tell someone who may be interested. They are sure to have a blast.

Two more awards for 1Catholicsalmon!

ImageI have received this award from ‘To have a Heart’and ‘Biltrix’ Thank You! Thank You!Image This lovely award was granted by ‘Biltrix’ Thank You!

The rules of the award indicate that 1catholicsalmon needs to declare seven things about itself:

  • Loves reading a good book, whenever there is time.
  • Loves to learn new things about The Faith, on a daily basis.
  • The Salmon really wants to make a difference in this coming ‘Year of Faith’.
  • Thinks the idea of ‘New Evangelisation’ is a great opportunity for committed Catholic Christians to share their Faith in a creative and interesting way.
  • Is blessed to receive nourishment from the Eucharist.
  • Loves the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
  • Has the utmost respect for priests.

Passing on the ‘Illuminating Blog’ award to …..

  1. ‘What Does The Prayer Really Say’: Tells the Truth, the whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth!
  2. ‘secondsightblog.net’ : Always interesting, with a scientific slant on life.
  3. ‘standingonmyhead’:  Every day Catholic issues shared with a tongue-in-cheek approach. Informative and enjoyable.
  4. ‘The Digital Nun daily’: Up to date news. Always on target.

Do take a look at these blogs. They ‘re inspirational.

The Catholic Connection: Part 1.

As I ‘ve aged and hopefully, made some small steps on my spiritual journey, I have become interested in the Early Church Fathers as well as the early Saints and Christians who have died for a Faith I am so blessed and privileged to be a part of. Each day I am grateful for the ‘freedom’ to write about and live my Faith. This is one of the reasons why I was so excited about our recent holiday to Rome, the seat of Christianity.

On hearing about our eminent trip to the Eternal City, Fr. Peter (our parish priest), offered to connect us with one of our parish Deacons who is in his second year of study at the Collegio Inglesi—-Roma. (The English College) That very same evening we received a jovial e-mail from Andrew. After a few emails sent to and fro, we established a firm date to meet up, after which we found out that Andrew would be smack-bang in the middle of end of year exams!

The above photo of Our Lady Of Walsingham was taken in the College. I just love this wooden statue. It’s got oodles of character. (I have yet to visit Walsingham here in England.) Andrew gave us an in-depth tour of the college, sharing many details about numerous martyrs, that are remembered through the art there. We were privileged to be able to hold a chalice that was used by a number of saints who themselves, had attended the college. Very special indeed.

Part of the ceiling .

We attended Mass at the college on both Sundays of our stay in Rome. At the first Mass we celebrated in awe of the four Cantors, the heavenly music and the fact that we were worshipping God in such a beautiful chapel. On the right and below is a taster of the beautiful decor of the chapel.  The marble flooring adds to the sumptuous beauty of the chapel, and behind the altar is a painting of Christ being removed from the Cross. It was only after close scrutiny that the detail of the painting became apparent. The Precious Blood of our Lord, pouring out of  His wounds onto the world. The Hands of God the Father can be seen too, holding up his Son, with the Holy Spirit in the centre.

As the tour continued Andrew named saint after saint after saint. Most of whom  I had never even heard of. It was a humbling experience.

I had always wanted to visit a Seminary, just to know what happens there, and here we were being personally chaperoned by a  prospective priest! It was such a privilege. We joined him for lunch,accompanied by much laughter and the excellent company of Fr. Guy and Benjamin. (a fourth year student priest.) We were made to feel so welcome, and the  unbreakable bond of Christianity was tangible and a sure source of unity.

Image@thenorthviewblog

Your Will Be Done
Gracious Lord,
may your will be done
in me,
in my marriage,
in my home,
in my children,
in their children,
in my work,
in my leisure,
in my finances,
in my health,
in my eating and drinking,
in my reading,
in my driving,
in the entertainment I enjoy,
in the routines I observe,
in my listening and speaking,
in my thinking and doing,
in my moods and attitudes,
in my friends,
in my church,
in my community,
in my state,
in my nation,
on earth,
as it is in heaven,
amen.

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