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How do you feel about evangelising?

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A priest of the New Evangilisation should be…

A-Priest-of-the-New-Evangelization-should-be

Have we put a sign on the door saying , ‘Do not disturb?’

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Pope Francis , just as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, has taken up the soul inspiring challenge of St John Paul II who first called for a ‘New Evangelisation’ in his encyclical Redemtoris Missio nearly 24 years ago.

Pope Francis’ encyclical ‘The Joy of the Gospel’ (Evangelii Gaudium) is the long-awaited teaching of Pope Francis on the proclamation of the Gospel. Pope Francis is calling upon the Church and the world with encouragement to begin a new chapter in evangelization. This dynamic document is written in the plain, everyday language for which the Pope has become famous. 

At our parish Fr Robert Barron’s ‘Catholicism: the New Evangelisation’ is being shared with all parishioners who want to put their faith into action. This documentary and study programme, with the acclaimed Fr Robert Barron, focuses on the cultural obstacles which the Church faces today and sends us on our Mission with confidence and a message of great joy

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Picture poster advertising the new course for Catholics on the New Evangelization from Fr. Robert Barron. 

A need to recognise the dangerous ‘new secularism’

There are Christians who are incarcerated for not denouncing their faith. There are those who are forced to flee their country of birth. There are those who have died and still more are awaiting their death, because they refuse to denounce their faith in Jesus.

We should not only be praying for these fellow brothers and sisters but standing side-by-side voicing our concern about what is going on against our Faith in the world. How do we do this? By  writing to the Prime Minister, writing to the representative member of parliament in your constituency and raising awareness amongst Christians about this attack.

This morning I came across this article over at Christian Concern. A very important article about the ‘dangerous new secularism’. It’s real and  insidious. We need to take notice and stand up to denounce this trend. I have highlighted words and phrases that stand out as critical. Read this. I would appreciate your comments and thoughts on this article.Christians need to recognise that the ‘new secularism’ is trying to undermine and destroy their faith, a Free Church minister in Scotland has said.

David Robertson, who is also the Director of the Solas Centre for Public Christianity, warned about the difference between secularists who are “simply about the separation of church and state” and a “new secularism which is much more militant and dangerous”.

Writing for the website Christian Today, Robertson explained: “The vast majority of the posts on secular message boards are anti-religious.

Attack

“The main purpose is to attack religion in general, Christianity in particular and in very particular the Catholic Church and evangelicals.”

He said this attitude “quickly degenerates into personal abuse” if the comments are challenged.

The new secularism appears to come with ‘values’, Robertson argued, such as being pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia and pro-homosexuality.

Public

“Dare any one in public life suggest for example that marriage should be between a man and a woman and they are automatically decried as a homophobic bigot even (or perhaps especially) if they are homosexual and atheist”, he said.

Robertson commented: “The New Secularists want the complete neuterisation and privatisation of religion. They want only their views and values to be taught and allowed in public life.”

“We need to recognise the new secularism for what it is – an attempt to undermine and destroy Christianity.

Fundamentalism

“We need to stand against its fundamentalism and we need to stand up for the poor, the young, the disabled and the marginalised (who most need the Good News), by proclaiming the gospel of Christ against the elitism and intolerance of our new fundamentalist atheists”, he said.

The last Census of 2011 found that less than 78,000 people (or 0.14 per cent of the population) identified themselves as secularist, atheist, humanists, agnostics or as a free thinker.

Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, said of atheists: “This tiny group of people lays great claims to have their beliefs at the front and centre of our national life.”

“What the atheists lack in numbers, they certainly make up for in terms of their influence and boldness. They understand that their beliefs are a worldview which they are determined to impose on everyone else”, he added.

Quoted from The Christian Institute 

One ‘click’ will register your support of unjustly incarcerated Meriam and her unborn child in a Sudanese jail.

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Meriam Yehya Ibrahim is a heavily pregnant Sudanese Christian. She’s just been sentenced to death for ‘apostasy’ – leaving Islam – although she’s been a Christian all her life.

Meriam was arrested on 17 February, and sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery and to death for apostasy, after Sudanese authorities became aware of her marriage to a Christian man. She is currently detained in Omdurman Federal Women’s Prison along with her 20-month-old son, Martin Wani. Since she was arrested she’s been allowed no visitors, and has been denied vital medical treatment.

Although she testified that she is a life-long Christian, the court ruled that she abandoned Islam, and that therefore was originally Muslim. Since Muslims are not allowed to marry non-Muslims, her marriage is invalid under Islamic law – so she was convicted of adultery as well as apostasy.

Meriam is eight months pregnant, and has a toddler to look after too in prison.

Please don’t allow this terrible injustice to happen.  (CSW SAVE MERIAM)

Click on the link above and register your support of Meriam at the Sudenase embassy in your country.

Prayer for Persecuted Christians   

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IMAGE@UCATHOLIC.COM/PERSECUTION

Father in Heaven, you make your sun shine

on good and bad alike.

Your Son Jesus Christ died for us all and in his glorious Resurrection

He still retains the five wounds of his Passion.

With his divine power he now sustains

all those who suffer persecution and martyrdom

for the sake of their fidelity

to the faith of the Church.

Merciful and mighty Father,

do not allow Cain to return again to murder

helpless Abel, innocent Abel.

May persecuted Christians around the world

remain, like Mary, their Mother,

together at the foot of the cross

of Christ the Martyr.

Comfort those menaced by violence

and those oppressed by uncertainty.

May your Holy Spirit of love

make fruitful the witness and the blood

of those who die forgiving.

Amen.

AID TO THE CHURCH IN NEED

Pope Francis shares good counsel

Beautiful teaching from our Papa on Good Counsel. A must-read. (Full article teaching here.)

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image@www.advisorswithpurpose.ca

Spiritual nurture from the Holy Father

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

We heard in the Reading of the passage from the Book of Psalms: “the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me” (Ps 16[15]:7). This is another gift of the Holy Spirit: the gift of counsel. We know how important it is in the most delicate moments to be able to count on the advice of people who are wise and who love us. Now, through the gift of counsel, it is God himself, through his spirit, who enlightens our heart so as to make us understand the right way to speak and to behave and the way to follow. But how does this gift work in us?

1. When we receive and welcome him into our heart, the Holy Spirit immediately begins to make us sensitive to his voice and to guide our thoughts, our feelings and our intentions according to the heart of God. At the same time, he leads us more and more to turn our interior gaze to Jesus, as the model of our way of acting and of relating with God the Father and with the brethren. Counsel, then, is the gift through which the Holy Spirit enables our conscience to make a concrete choice in communion with God, according to the logic of Jesus and his Gospel. In this way, the Spirit makes us grow interiorly, he makes us grow positively, he makes us grow in the community and he helps us not to fall prey to self-centredness and one’s own way of seeing things. Thus the Spirit helps us to grow and also to live in community. The essential condition for preserving this gift is prayer. We always return to the same theme: prayer! Yet prayer is so important. To pray with the prayers that we all learned as children, but also to pray in our own words. To ask the Lord: “Lord, help me, give me counsel, what must I do now?”. And through prayer we make space so that the Spirit may come and help us in that moment, that he may counsel us on what we all must do. Prayer! Never forget prayer. Never! No one, no one realizes when we pray on the bus, on the road: we pray in the silence of our heart. Let us take advantage of these moments to pray, pray that the Spirit give us the gift of counsel.

In intimacy with God and in listening to his Word, little by little we put aside our own way of thinking, which is most often dictated by our closures, by our prejudice and by our ambitions, and we learn instead to ask the Lord: what is your desire? What is your will? What pleases you? In this way a deep, almost connatural harmony in the Spirit grows and develops within us and we experience how true the words of Jesus are that are reported in the Gospel of Matthew: “do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; for it is not you who speak but the spirit of your Father speaking through you” (10:19-20). It is the Spirit who counsels us, but we have to make room for the Spirit, so that he may counsel us. And to give space is to pray, to pray that he come and help us always.

3. As with all of the other gifts of the Spirit, then, counsel too constitutes a treasure for the whole Christian community. The Lord does not only speak to us in the intimacy of the heart; yes, he speaks to us, but not only there; he also speaks to us through the voice and witness of the brethren. It is truly a great gift to be able to meet men and women of faith who, especially in the most complicated and important stages of our lives, help us to bring light to our heart and to recognize the Lord’s will!

I remember once at the Shrine of Luján I was in the confessional, where there was a long queue. There was even a very modern young man, with earrings, tattoos, all these things…. And he came to tell me what was happening to him. It was a big and difficult problem. And he said to me: “I told my mother all this and my mother said to me, go to Our Lady and she will tell you what you must do”. Here is a woman who had the gift of counsel. She did not know how to help her son out of his problem, but she indicated the right road: go to Our Lady and she will tell you. This is the gift of counsel. That humble, simple woman, gave her son the truest counsel. In fact, this young man said to me: “I looked at Our Lady and I felt that I had to do this, this and this…”. I did not have to speak, his mother and the boy himself had already said everything. This is the gift of counsel. You mothers who have this gift, ask it for your children, the gift of giving good counsel to your children is a gift of God.

Dear friends, Psalm 16[15], which we heard, invites us to pray with these words: “I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I keep the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved” (vv. 7-8). May the Spirit always pour this certainty into our heart and fill us thus with the consolation of his peace! Always ask for the gift of counsel.

This item 10531 digitally provided courtesy of CatholicCulture.org 

Shine!

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St Ethelbert – the first Christian monarch in England:- 25th February 2014

One of the many roles of a monarch has always been to defend the faith of the country in question. In some cases, that simply means upholding the traditions of the past, while in other countries the monarch is literally the head of the church. The Queen of the United Kingdom, Elizabeth II, still holds this position over the Church of England, though most of her powers are delegated to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.
Still, there have been moments in history that are so important to the future of that country that the monarch not only defies the faith he or she is supposed to uphold, but downright changes the faith. These linchpin monarchs are often remembered fondly after their deaths, though at the time they are often criticized and earn many enemies. One of them, is King Ethelbert of Kent.

St. Ethelbert, King of Kent 

Here are King Ethelbert of Kent and Queen Bertha, with Augustine:

Here are King Ethelbert of Kent (far right) and Queen Bertha, with Augustine in the middle. Stained glass window in Canterbury Cathedral.

King Ethelbert

King Ethelbert


The most powerful Anglo-Saxon king was Ethelbert who ruled Kent and a large area north to the Humber. St. Augustine (who had arrived on the English shores) sent interpreters saying that they came from Rome bearing good news which assured all who received it of eternal joy in heaven.

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St. Augustine preaching to Aethelberht I, 19th-century coloured wood engraving.
Credit: Photos.com/Thinkstock

The king told them to stay on the island and gave orders that they should be provided with all necessities. Apparently this included beer brewed from the royal barley as beer was considered one of the necessities of life. The king had already heard of the Christian faith; his wife and queen was Bertha, daughter of the Christian king of Paris and she continued to practice her faith after marrying Ethelbert.
Six days later after their arrival, King Ethelbert came to the island and summoned Augustine and his companions.

They approached the king carrying a silver cross and the likeness of the Lord painted on a board, like an icon. First they sang a litany of salvation and then they preached the Gospel to the king and his court. Ethelbert seemed to be impressed although he was not converted then and there and he offered hospitality to the missionaries and gave them permission to preach among his people. He also gave them a dwelling in his chief city, Canterbury. There they lived a life of prayer and preaching, living simply and caring for the poor. A number of people were converted and baptised. The Church of St. Martin in Canterbury had been built-in Roman times and was still used by Queen Berta for prayer. The monks gathered there for prayer, Mass, preaching and baptisms.
Eventually, King Ethelbert himself came to believe and was baptised. From then on, large numbers were converted to Christ. The king insisted that no one should be forced to accept Christianity; he knew that true service of Christ must be accepted freely.

COMMITMENT-Staying loyal to what you said you were going to do.

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Taking inspiration from St. Joseph’s, New Malden’s web page, I agree with the importance of our Witness as Christians and our commitment as Baptised, involved lay faithful. It’s all about commitment , being committed to our journey as disciples of the Lord and remaining committed to the tenets of the Faith.

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In the first few centuries of the Church’s existence, evangelisation was crucial to its survival. Living in a pagan culture Christians had to live their Faith in a very intentional way. To admit one was a Christian,was to risk persecution, so Church members had to be passionate about their commitment. Then, in the fourth century, Emperor Constantine made Christianity the religion of the Holy Roman Empire. Suddenly, being a Christian became not just accepted, but fashionable.

Today, our experience as Christians is not far from those who lived so long ago in a pagan world. Today, being Christian means you ‘re a bit ‘otherwise’ to put it politely.Today we need to be living our Faith in a very intentional way. Today we have to know the reasons for believing and wanting to be Christian if we are to stand a remote chance of survival amongst secular free-thinkers.This is most especially true if we profess to be Catholic Christians.

It wasn’t until the Second Vatican Council in the 1960’s that Pope Paul VI began to call for a “new evangelisation” — and not just by clergy and religious, but by all Catholics. Blessed John Paul II said that to evangelize, you have to be evangelised; that evangelisation is an encounter with the ‘living Spirit;’ that sharing faith has got to become normal, a natural part of life.

 If someone says they like to connect with nature and the spiritual by walking along the beach, most Catholics today would probably say, “Good for you,” but would not go a step further and share how their own faith helps them connect with God. People are reluctant to push their beliefs on other people. We have to be convinced there’s something worth sharing. Many ‘catholics’ don’t really know their Faith at all, and other than just admitting to being ‘catholic’do not attend Mass or receive the Sacraments.

They have not sought to understand the reasons that lay behind our dedicated attendance at Mass every week;our observance of prayer and fasting on Fridays; our need to  receive Holy Communion or to receive absolution through regular attendance at Reconciliation. If you find yourself to be one of these ‘catholics’, I urge you to find out more about the reasons why we do what we do as Catholic Christians. The answers will open up a new way of thinking about Jesus and His love for you. Enquire about courses at your parish. Attend an RCIA group and learn about your gift of the Faith with new converts. JUST ASK.

The process of becoming a disciple involves three components: proclamation, conversion, and service and mission. I believe that resistance by Catholics to evangelise is  because the front-end piece of evangelisation deals with conversion: making Jesus Lord of our life. It calls for a radical change if we’re going to embrace this mission. Catholics do tend to be good at teaching prayers to children, making sure they’re educated in the faith and — simply living their lives, so that others may see them as good people and be attracted to what beliefs lead to that lifestyle.However, when it comes to sharing their faith and inviting others to participate in it, Catholics don’t fare as well.

So, in what ways can we show our commitment to sharing the Good News as Catholics? A few suggestions:-

  1. Mention that you have attended Mass over the week-end over sandwiches at lunchtime on Monday, and go further, sharing something about the readings or the Gospel that opened up a new insight to the Scriptures for you.
  2. Share anecdotes about your parish priest and his dedication to his flock. How does he show you  the love of Jesus through his words and actions?
  3. Invite ‘resting catholics’ to an early morning Mass, or just any Mass.
  4. Invite them to come along and visit a group at your parish.
  5. Share the news about the acts of social care and justice that your parish supports: eg’ St. Joseph’s parish supports the local food bank and our parishioners donated one tonne of food last month alone.’ This might open up new avenues of discussion leading back to our Faith, to understand why we’re helping the poor, what moral values and social teachings lead the Church to be a voice for the voiceless.
  6. Take an extra parish newsletter to share with someone and leave it with them.
  7. Share good Catholic literature written by Blessed John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedicte XVI, Scott Hahn. There is an abundance of choice.
  8. If you are a God-parent, make time to remain in your God-child’s life for the long haul, not just on the day of their Baptism. Find new ways of doing this.
  9. Create a family shrine at home with the crucifixes, pictures, and statues received at Baptisms and Confirmations. These speak volumes about your Faith and how you live it without having to say a word.
  10. Start a book club that reads Catholic literature and encourage members to bring a friend.

For inspiration and spiritual uplifting, pop into St. Joseph’s for Mass, or take a look at its vibrant and informative website.

St. Joseph’s New Malden, has embarked on a  Year of Renewal in 2014 which  builds on the recently ended Year of Faith, and is proposed as a Parish Year of Faith in Action  leading into a Year of Re-Dedication (2014-15) and a Year of Mission (2015-16) I’m looking forward to the next three years with anticipation. Want to join me on this promising new journey?

Image@worksbyfath.org

Image@worksbyfath.org

Mary of the Gael: a remarkable woman of her times.

St Bridget of Ireland

St Brigid of Kildare

Her parents were baptized by St. Patrick, with whom she developed a close friendship. According to legend, her father was Dubhthach, an Irish chieftain of Lienster, and her mother, Brocca, was a slave at his court.

Even as a young girl she clearly showed an interest in the religious life and took the veil in her youth from St. Macaille at Croghan and probably was professed by St. Mel of Armagh, who is believed to have conferred abbatial authority on her.

She settled at the foot of Croghan Hill for a time and about the year 468, followed Mel to Meath. About the year 470 she founded a double monastery at Kildare and was Abbess of the convent, the first in Ireland. The foundation developed into a centre of learning and spirituality, and around it grew up the Cathedral city of Kildare.The cathedral continued to serve the people of Kildare down the centuries, though after the Reformation it gradually fell into disrepair and by 1641 it was totally ruined following the Confederate Wars. It was fully restored in the 19th century. In recent years undergone some further restoration.

Image@http://archiseek.com/2010/1223-st-brigids-cathedral-kildare-co-kildare/#.UuzH_D1_t8E

Cathedral of Kildare image@ http://archiseek.com/2010/1223-st-brigids-cathedral-kildare-co-kildare/#.UuzH_D1_t8E

The foundation developed into a centre of learning and spirituality, and around it grew up the Cathedral  city of Kildare. She founded a school of art at Kildare and its illuminated manuscripts became famous, notably the Book of Kildare, which was praised as one of the finest of all illuminated Irish manuscripts before its disappearance three centuries ago.The Book of Kildare is also known by the name of The Four Gospels of St. Brigid.It contains the Four Gospels according to St. Jerome, and almost every page is illustrated by drawings illuminated with a variety of brilliant colours.

 

Brigid was one of the most remarkable women of her times, and despite the numerous legendary, extravagant, and even fantastic miracles attributed to her, there is no doubt that her extraordinary spirituality, boundless charity, and compassion for those in distress were real.

She died at Kildare on February 1.She is buried at Downpatrick with St. Columba and St. Patrick, with whom she is the patron of Ireland. Her name is sometimes Bridget and Bride. Her feast day is February 1.

 

 

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