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Who, why… so what?

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  • A niece falls pregnant out-of-wedlock. ‘So what? It was a planned pregnancy, it’s such happy news.’
  • A friend, colleague, son or daughter lives with their partner. ‘So what, what they do in their bedroom has nothing to do with anyone else. It’s their choice. He/she is not my or your responsibility. It’s none of your business!’
  • The stranger on the bus uses profanities and racist slurs against someone on the bus. ‘So? It’s not your problem.’ 
  • Your niece is being emotionally abused by her boyfriend. ‘It’s between her and her partner, and up to her parents to get involved.Why should you get involved.’
  • A colleague has shared that she is considering an abortion. ‘Why?So what…it’s her body, her baby, the time’s not right , she’s too young, she wasn’t in a serious relationship….’
  • A close friend’s child is moving from one ‘serious’ relationship to another in quick succession. These relationships seem to follow the set pattern of:-  moving in together and setting up house, and then very soon, upping sticks and moving on to the next relationship and setting up house in a new neighbourhood. ‘So? What’s your problem? Youth is for living to the full. For experimentation, We only live once! Live every day to the fullest.’
  • A teenager known to you, smokes regularly. His parents don’t know. ‘Let them continue to believe what they believe right now. Don’t rock the boat’. 
  • A young couple comes to visit and decides to stay over until morning. ‘They’re in love, let them be.’
  • Someone mentions that Cameron’s decision to move forward on the legalisation of gay marriage, is the best decision he’s made for some time. ‘Everyone to their own. Everyone has a right to an opinion. It’s the way things are. Who cares? Live and let live.’
  • A ‘catholic’ acquaintance proudly announces that he and his now  wife, moved in together before they married and he has encouraged his children to do the same. ‘Who cares, move with the times’.

As a Catholic Christian I have been challenged by similar scenarios and have done my best to make a moral case in favour of the right choice in each case. As a Christian. 

The more the years go by,and my life experience broadens I feel Exasperated. Deflated. Desperate. Side-lined and Ignored. Dismissed. My Christian witness seems to be in vain. It falls on deaf ears.  My views as a Christian, especially as a Catholic Christian, are just not taken seriously.images (2)

My question to you is: why bother?After sharing a fundamental Truth, it’s seemingly tolerated, heard, and promptly forgotten.

I believe in Jesus. I believe in His plan for the salvation of mankind. I believe in His Life, Death and Resurrection for my sake and yours. It’s fine to profess these beliefs and to discuss these beliefs in the company of my fellow Christians, but is it worth the flack and derision I get when I support the teachings of the Church with my neighbour, when these values are looked upon as outdated, and irrelevant in secular society. Nobody cares.

Really, they don’t.

 

Keeping vigil.

vigil, from the Latin vigilia meaning wakefulness (Greek: pannychis,[1] παννυχίς or agrypnia[2] ἀγρυπνία),[3] is a period of purposeful sleeplessness, an occasion for devotional watching, or an observance. ( Wikipedia) 

Keeping vigil has always been a spiritual practice in Catholicism. This is what we are essentially doing by attending any “Vigil” mass, we wait in joyful hope for the coming of the Saviour.

There is also a Biblical reference here that can be included. The Shepherds in Luke’s infancy narratives in his Gospel were keeping watch over their sheep on the nightly vigil. In a sense, we are the same shepherds today and we are entrusted to keep watch over one another. While we wait for God during Advent, it’s also important to note that God also keeps Vigil for us. Many people “come home” at Christmas and find God welcoming them back home once again. We pray that they find our church to be a welcoming place and that we show them the love that God always offers to us. In doing so, we have the opportunity to continually welcome them home each week and pray that they will be part of our community regularly.

Christmas 2013 037

Christmas 2013 038

The Sanctuary is ready and the first of the Holy Masses for Christmas may begin.

A model for men and women searching for the Mystery of God.

cardinalnewmanWhen we say the Creed, we need to realise that we are doing something extraordinary and counter cultural. In a world where so many people live atomised existences, we are doing something as a community. In an age that shies away from commitment, as we say the Creed we are committing ourselves to a set of convictions and to each other. The Creed is our symbol, the way we recognise each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s a sign of our common membership. It is our Catholic identity. (JerichoTree). It is to this identity that Newman endeavoured to cleave himself through his search for Truth in the Mystery of God.

“I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it, who know so much of history that they can defend it.” ~ John Henry Newman

I went on a pilgrimage to Newman’s Littlemore College in Oxford, where I learned more about this inspirational man,and his fascinating journey into the arms of the Catholic Church.The influence of Blessed John Henry Newman, one of the outstanding voices of 19th century Roman Catholicism, has spread throughout the Christian world and is stronger than ever today. He lived and prayed for four years at The College in Littlemore where he was received into the Roman Catholic Church on 9th October 1845.Blessed John Henry Newman lived at “The College” at Littlemore from 1842-1846, making it a place of quiet prayer and study for himself and some friends.

Littlemore college

Littlemore college

“There it has been, that I have both been
taught my way and received an answer to my prayers.”

Newman, Letters and Diaries, XI 132/3

Newman’s oratory has again become a place of prayer and worship, with the Office, daily hours of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and regular masses. A substantial and specialized collection of Newman-related literature has been built up on the site of Newman’s own library, together with an exhibition of Newman memorabilia (prints, etchings, photographs, sculptures and original letters). Newman wrote in total, 20.000 letters!

In 1963 Pope Paul VI beatified Fr. Dominic Barberi, The Passionist ,who received John Henry Newman into the Catholic Church. On that occasion the Pope spoke about Blessed Dominic; but he also spoke about Newman. He said ‘, Newman’s journey of Faith was ,’the greatest, the most meaningful, the most conclusive, that human thought ever travelled during…the modern era.’

This quote from Blessed Barberi on Newman's request to become Catholic.

This quote from Blessed Barberi on Newman’s request to become Catholic.

A relic of Blessed Dominic Barberi at eh church I visited at Littlemore.

A relic of Blessed Dominic Barberi at the church I visited at Littlemore.

I had an opportunity to pray in front of the Crucifix Blessed Newman prayed in front of daily.

I had an opportunity to pray in front of the Crucifix Blessed Newman prayed in front of daily.

Newman's bedroom kept today as it was when he lived there.

Newman’s bedroom kept today as it was when he lived there.

Pilgrims can visit Newman’s room, in which many historic features have been preserved. The chapel, which is regularly used for prayer and Mass, is similar to how it would have been when Newman and his companions prayed there. I prayed in the same place where Newman spent so much of his time in search of the truth, and where he had the grace and happiness of being received into what he believed to be “the one true Fold of Christ” (Letters and Diaries XI, 5).

Newman's writing desk on which Blessed Barberi performed the mass after Newman's conversion. Newman never write on it again and kept it inverted after this .

Newman’s writing desk on which Blessed Barberi performed the mass after Newman’s conversion. Newman never wrote on it again and kept it inverted after this mass .

obedience

Newman’s writing desk in his bedroom.

The intellectual genius of Newman coupled with is humility struck me to the core. His dogged determination in search of the truth cost him dearly as far as his friends and family were concerned.  On his desk is a diary of his writings and included is a letter to his sister Jemima telling her of his decision to convert to Catholicism. He begins, ”My dear Jemima, I must tell you what will pain you greatly, but I will make it as short as you would wish me to do…”.  This letter he sent to her only after his conversion. The non-pre-existent relationship with his sister caused his much sadness.

In 1845 Newman wrote his ‘Development of Christian Doctrine’ and towards the end of this work it became clear to him that he must seek admission into the Roman Catholic Church. When Fr Dominic Barberi visited Littlemore, Newman and two of his companions were received into the Church on 9th October 1845.

In his Development of Christian Doctrine’, Newman spoke of how ‘to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.’ These memorable words are well known and often quoted, and it seems obvious that change was a particular characteristic of his life. The Roman Catholic Church in England was itself going though great change at the time of Newman’s conversion.

It is right to celebrate!

all-saints-day-poland

Happy All Saints day!

Pope Benedict XVI said,  ” The world offers you comfort, but you were not made for comfort, you were made for greatness.”  

We are all called to be the best we can be in Christ. Let our brightest light shine. We are called to holiness, closeness to God.  The Saints who precede us reached ‘greatness’ in their own unique way.

Recently, I visited the execution site of St’s Thomas More and John Fisher just outside the London Tower on Tower Hill where they were martyred for their Catholic faith. They died not knowing of their greatness in living their Faith with such tenacity.  It is right to celebrate their lives and to remember their sacrifice.

Image@1catholicsalmon

Image@1catholicsalmon
This is the plaque which includes their names, fixed to the spot where they were beheaded,

John Fisher by Hans Holbein. The Stapleton Collection

Thomas More by Hans Holbein

Hans Holbein the Younger. Sir Thomas More.
© Frick Collection, New York

Read here for details about these two prominent English Saints.

As a Catholic I worship God.

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Two years ago I attended a Baptist service celebrating the Dedication of a friend’s baby to God. A  substantial service which consisted of a significant praise and worship segment, prayer, preaching and finally the dedication of little Noah. I was moved by the intense prayer for the baby during this part of the service. Four members of the church community (who seemed to have standing in the community) prayed over the baby. This was followed by tea and then a luncheon.

It was at the luncheon that  my daughter and I got chatting with a couple who were seated at our table. We discussed the service amongst other things and the conversation inevitably led to us discussing which church we belonged to. As soon as we said that we attend St. Joseph’s, an uncomfortable (albeit short) silence ensued and the conversation petered out after that.

On coming across the above poster recently, my mind was taken back to this encounter and yes, I understand now what my Catholicity may have represented to that couple. Their reaction was a plainly visible physical recoiling as they realised that we are Catholic.

This brings me to the sermon at Mass last Sunday. The picture on the bottom right of the poster brought me here, because what I do at Mass is exactly this, listen to the Word of God, and  praise Him in thanksgiving through song and prayer and receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus. We were reminded that the Eucharist means ‘thanksgiving’. That we should  give thanks for everything we have, freely and willingly. We should go to church every week to ‘freely and willingly’ give heartfelt thanks to God, not because we feel that it’s our duty to go, but because we want to thank God  for all He has done for us through Jesus. We were gently reminded too, that often-times Catholics take for granted the Great Gift that  we have in the Eucharist because that is what we’re used to having at Mass. There shouldn’t be an ‘ought’ attached to this weekly Worship. We should respond in true thanks-giving each week. If there is an ‘ought’ attached to our attending Mass, we should stop and think about our motives.

‘What is our calling as Christians? To thanks God. When all our worldly goods are removed from us and we are faced with the essential nature of our lives, the most important ‘thing’ that we are left with is God. We need to thank God for Him, because He is everything. We are totally dependant of God’s divine mercy. He gave Himself to us, and as an act of worship, we give thanks to Him for this.’ 

This is why I go to church.

It’s good and clean and fresh.

Papa Francesco's living quaters for World Youth Day in Brazil..

Papa Francisco’s living quarters for World Youth Day in Brazil..

Read more about Our Papa’s accommodation here.

WYD fever is upon the Catholic world…soon to commence in Brazil. Read about Papa’s itinerary here.

Offial WYD logo found @http://wydcentral.org/wyd-rio-2013-official-logo/

Official WYD logo found @http://wydcentral.org/wyd-rio-2013-official-logo/

Catholic England.

I came across this video clip on Catholicism Pure and Simple and thought it deserves to be shared in this space. I’m not a follower of Michael Voris, but this clip made me stop in my tracks and think about the implications of what he is saying about Catholicism in England and world-wide. Off the bat, I admit to being downhearted and filled with dismay at the sad picture he is painting about Catholicism generally. I proceed, sharing my thoughts and feelings about his  brush strokes.

Mr. Voris claims that there is a ‘philosophical and ideological war’ being waged between faithful Modernists and a growing  following that are proud to be known as Traditionalists on this English Isle.  He goes on to say that the contemporary Modernist, trendy Liberalist Christians  are dying away and that there is no sign of growth or vitality within modern day Catholicism here in England, other than a slow trickle of those  who are moving towards Traditional  Masses. I believe this trickle towards Traditionalism it’s a good sign.

He points to the article from the Economist to support his views

I quote from the Economist article Michael Voris refers to; 

…the congregation is young and international. Like evangelical Christianity, traditional Catholicism is attracting people who were not even born when the Second Vatican Council tried to rejuvenate the church. Traditionalist groups have members in 34 countries, including Hong Kong, South Africa and Belarus. Juventutem, a movement for young Catholics who like the old ways, boasts scores of activists in a dozen countries. Traditionalists use blogs, websites and social media to spread the word—and to highlight recalcitrant liberal dioceses and church administrators, who have long seen the Latinists as a self-indulgent, anachronistic and affected minority. In Colombia 500 people wanting a traditional mass had to use a community hall (they later found a church).

This ‘movement of young Catholics who like the old ways’ is to me  an encouraging sign , in that the youth are not easily swayed. They think for themselves and see right through farcical arguments. They recognise Authenticity for what it is:- Right and True. They wear their knowledge on their sleeves and are proud to share it.

Looking back over the last 12 years, my family and I have been blessed to be members of a strong and established parish, thanks to the dedication and foresight of our parish priest. He is a stickler for doing everything properly, which has led to undue criticism from those who feel  as though they are being spoken to in a ‘condescending manner’ after being reminded that:

  1. the at Mass it’s unacceptable to walk in after the Gospel has been read,
  2. or that it reflects poor manners to leave Mass straight after Communion,
  3. that when you enter the Church building you should do so in a quiet manner because it is a place set aside for prayer and worship,
  4. and that after Mass you should leave in silence out of consideration for those who are remaining behind  in prayer.

While my better half and I have grown to love and appreciate ‘Fr. Brown’s’ direct approach to how things are to be respected planned and executed, others have decided that his ‘nit-picking’ has driven them to leave the parish for ‘greener pastures.’  We’re proud of  our Pastor for being strong and unafraid of upholding  basic principles of behaviour expected in a Catholic church anywhere in the world.’ Fr. Brown’s ‘ tenacity and strength of character are the attributes that the thinking Catholic will be drawn to.

Portrait of G.K. Chesterton by Timothy Jones--see more of his art at http://timothyjones.typepad.com/timothy_jones_daily_paint/ This painting was used on the cover of "In Defense of Sanity", a collection of essays by G.K. Chesterton.

Portrait of G.K. Chesterton by Timothy Jones–see more of his art at http://timothyjones.typepad.com/timothy_jones_daily_paint/
This painting was used on the cover of “In Defense of Sanity”, a collection of essays by G.K. Chesterton.

I take offence at Voris’s claim to the lack of growth or vitality  within Catholicism here: he is obviously unaware of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal which is alive and well, boasting growing numbers  at annual  Catholic week-long conferences such as ‘New Dawn‘ and ‘Celebrate’the excellent work done by the Catholic theatre group TEN TENthe wonderful work of the SION community; the tireless work done by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal during the annual  Spirit in the City faith Festival in the heart of London’s West end over 4 days and every other day of the year; the popularity of Youth 2000the growing numbers of youth from England attending World Youth Day celebrations (which includes both those from the Modern and Traditional ‘persuasions’); the birth of  a new Catholic radio station (Heart gives unto Heart) available 24/7; the 80 000 + Catholics who joined the Holy Father in Hyde Park alone not to mention the development of the Catholic Voices organisation developed especially before the Holy Father’s visit to improve the image of Catholicism in the press here in England.

Sure things are changing in Catholicism, but I think, for the better. Papa Francisco points clearly in a new and fresh direction.

An introduction to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:Do you know why there is a Catechism?

I came across this video here. The CCC is such an important document, that all Catholics should own one. This comprehensive video gives you the reasons why it’s a good idea and is explicit in its content with regard to why and how it was put together.

The Catholic Faith is explained in detail in the CCC, and warrants further discussion within a parish group context.

 

 

Have new eyes…

Stand out from the crowd

Stand out from the crowd

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.

Marcel Proust (1871 – 1922)
During Lent, let’s look at situations and the people we meet with ‘new eyes’ so that we may grow and change to become that little bit more as the person God wants us to be.

Super-slogan: The age of casual Catholicism is over; the age of HEROIC Catholicism has begun.

image@http://catholicismrocks.wordpress.com

image@http://catholicismrocks.wordpress.com

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