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If you don’t fit in, you’re probably doing the right thing.

IMAGE@IGNATIUSPRESS

IMAGE@IGNATIUSPRESS

Over at Along the Watch Tower,  Chalcedon’s post speaks loudly of the sad reality that engulfs youth of today: not having confidence or language to talk about religion or faith. He writes, ‘Religion is to this generation what sex was to some previous ones ; something which embarrasses students because they do not know much about it, what they know makes it seem difficult, and they do not have a language in which to discuss it. He compares it to generations past who felt the same way about discussing sex.’ 

How the pendulum swings…

I believe this dilemma not only afflicts the youth but society in general:- what the youth do well is to reflect the society in which they live. Many Europeans are “unchurched,” meaning they have never step foot in a church for any reason besides weddings, funerals, or Baptisms. They have never gone to a church service once their entire life. So, how could they talk about religion?

I place this dilemma squarely at the feet of the assiduous and determined acceptance of secular values by Western governments. All this in the name of progress:- through modernization and relativism, systematically removing religious authority/ influence in all aspects of life and governance.

As a direct result of secularisation Christianity is marginalised. As a result of individualistic religion , a century of war and disregard for religion and faith matters the appreciation and understanding of religion or faith has declined. Many Europeans still identify themselves a Christian, but do not actively attend Christian services. We need also to keep in mind, that as a former continent known as “Christendom”, Europe is experiencing a rapid change in religious diversity. The two fastest growing religions in Europe are secularism (no religious affiliation, agnosticism, atheism, etc.) and Islam. I believe that secularism has completely won over European culture replacing Christianity as Europe’s world-view.

I use excerpts of an article from The Catholic News Society to substantiate my feelings about our Christian responsibility to live as Christ’s disciples as a way of life and as examples to those around us. :- (Emphasis my own)

Sharing an obligation to spread the good news of salvation in Christ, all Christian communities are challenged by the fact that many people today do not think they need God, Pope Benedict XVI said.
“The spiritual poverty of many of our contemporaries, who no longer perceive the absence of God in their lives as a privation, represents a challenge for all Christians,” the pope said Nov. 15 in a meeting with members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Pope Benedict said authentic ecumenical prayer, dialogue and cooperation cannot ignore “the crisis of faith that vast regions of the planet are experiencing,” nor can Christians ignore signs that many modern people still feel a need for some kind of spirituality.
Efforts to reunite all Christians are an essential part of the new evangelization, the pope said. Responding to the obligation to share the Gospel and to heal a divided Christianity, he said, every Christian must “return to the essential, to the heart of our faith, giving the world a witness of the living God, that is, a God who knows us and loves us and in whose gaze we live; a God who awaits the response of our love in our everyday lives.”….

...What is at stake, he said, is the credibility of Christianity as a whole and its ability to speak to modern men and women and to influence the way they live and act.

The archbishop said while secularization places challenges before the church, the real danger is “the secularization of the church” itself, which begins very concretely with church members living and acting as if they aren’t church members.

This means that Christians living in a secularised society will face many a challenge when having to share Truths about ethical questions, particularly regarding the safeguarding of human life from conception to death, family and marriage.

CCC 31 Created in God’s image and called to know and love him, the person who seeks God discovers certain ways of coming to know him. These are also called proofs for the existence of God, not in the sense of proofs in the natural sciences, but rather in the sense of “converging and convincing arguments”, which allow us to attain certainty about the truth. These “ways” of approaching God from creation have a twofold point of departure: the physical world, and the human person.

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.

A ‘must-have’ read.

I purchased this book last year as a digital copy and then almost immediately purchased a hard copy because is is such a wonderful book to ‘have and to hold close’ (in your hands and in your heart!) This is a book I will be purchasing as gifts  for friends and family.

THE BETTER PART, buy Fr John Bartunek

image@http://live.regnumchristi.org/

image@http://live.regnumchristi.org/

is a’ Christ-centred resource for personal prayer.’ It is changing my relationship with Jesus and is helping me through the most difficult time of my Journey to Christ to date. My prayer life is becoming deeper and more meaningful. I feel prepared and eager for a meeting  with the Lord every day.

It’s the only book that has shared with me a 4 step structure to personal meditation, making my prayer life more intimate and meaningful for me.

Here are some titbits to whet your appetite:

  1. ‘ Jesus has made the appointment to meet  with you in prayer’ –  In other words it’s no accident that I am yearning to be closer to Jesus and that a deeply personal relationship is one that I want so much with Him, because he yearns for the same relationship with me. He is the one calling me to prayer.
  2. ‘ Among the most basic prayer commitments is one that can have more bearing on your life that any other, because is is more personalised: the daily meditation.’ - I do much spiritual reading to find out more about my Faith and my Lord and Saviour, I need to keep a daily meeting with my Lord for the sole purpose of getting to know Him better and to recommit myself to uncovering His will for my life. I realise that there is a difference between spiritual reading and meditation in that even the readings of the day can become spiritual reading, and not so much a meditative reading if I merely read them as part of a routine day in and day out. In order to get to know the Lord more intimately and to unwrap His will for my life, His messages for me alone, I need to excavate what’s in the Gospel with tenacity and purpose. This is done through meditation and prayer over the Gospels.
  3. ‘Prayer is similar to walking. To walk everyone has to follow the same principles of physics- friction, gravity, muscle propulsion, momentum. And yet, even though the principles are the same, everyone’s walk is a little bit different. When babies learn to walk, they start out clumsy and awkward, until they develop the rhythm and style proper to their body type, personality, and environment. Meditation follows a similar pattern: the same principles for all, activated uniquely by each. The Better Part can help you wherever you happen to be on the spectrum.’ 

images

If any one of you have read this amazing book please comment on how you have found it deepening your relationship with Jesus. I intend to post more on this book as I read on.

the Story of Mary and MArtha: Mary is doing 'the better part', listening to the Lord's teaching.

In the Story of Mary and Martha: Mary is doing ‘the better part’, listening to the Lord’s teaching.

Meditative singing….a formula of calming repetition…

During Adoration of the Eucharist yesterday we sang this beautiful song of praise and worship. The first time I’ve heard it, and one that I’ll be including in my prayers in future. Eucharistic-Jesus-Adoration

Meditative singing

Singing is one of the most essential elements of worship. Short songs, repeated again and again, give it a meditative character. Using just a few words they express a basic reality of faith, quickly grasped by the mind. As the words are sung over many times, this reality gradually penetrates the whole being. Meditative singing thus becomes a way of listening to God. It allows everyone to take part in a time of prayer together and to remain together in attentive waiting on God, without having to fix the length of time too exactly.

To open the gates of trust in God, nothing can replace the beauty of human voices united in song. This beauty can give us a glimpse of “heaven’s joy on earth,” as Eastern Christians put it. And an inner life begins to blossom within us.

These songs also sustain personal prayer. Through them, little by little, our being finds an inner unity in God. They can continue in the silence of our hearts when we are at work, speaking with others or resting. In this way prayer and daily life are united. They allow us to keep on praying even when we are unaware of it, in the silence of our hearts.

The “songs of Taizé” published in different languages are simple, but preparation is required to use them in prayer. This preparation should take place before the prayer itself, so that once it begins the atmosphere remains meditative.

During the prayer it is better if no one directs the music; in this way everyone can face the cross, the icons or the altar. (In a large congregation, however, it may be necessary for someone to direct, as discreetly as possible, a small group of instruments or singers who support the rest, always remembering that they are not giving a performance for the others.) The person who begins the songs is generally up front, together with those who will read the psalm, the reading and the intercessions, not facing the others but turned like them towards the altar or the icons. If a song is begun spontaneously, the pitch is generally too low. A tuning fork or pitch pipe can help, or a musical instrument give the first note or accompany the melody. Make sure the tempo does not slow down too much, as this tends to happen when the singing goes on for some time. As the number of participants increases, it becomes necessary to use a microphone, preferably hand-held, to begin and end the songs (they can be ended by singing “Amen” on the final note). The person who begins the singing can support the others by singing into a microphone, being careful not to drown out the other voices. A good sound-system is essential if the congregation is large; if necessary check it before the prayer and try it out with those who will be using the microphones.

Songs in many different languages are appropriate for large international gatherings. In a neighborhood prayer with people of all ages present, most of the songs should be in languages actually understood by some of the participants, or in Latin. If possible, give each person a song sheet or booklet. You can also include one or two well-known local songs or hymns.

Instruments: a guitar or keyboard instrument can support the harmonic structure of the songs. They are especially helpful in keeping the correct pitch and tempo. Guitars should be played in classical, not folk style. A microphone may be necessary for them to be heard. In addition to this basic accompaniment, there are parts for other instruments.   (Taize)

“Something very interesting at Taizé is that this formula of calming repetition has been taken up in the liturgy; that is, it is not used only in personal prayer, but also in prayer together or common prayer. Some young people, who know almost nothing of mystery, are introduced to it here, and they begin to learn how to pray.”

Olivier Clément

I have put visiting the TAIZE COMMUNITY on my bucket list.

 

 

 

Not JUST a Saxon church, but an ancient treasure.

This is the Parish church at Wootton Wawen, Warwickshire, England. It is Warwickshire’s oldest church boasting a ‘Saxon Sanctuary’ Exhibition showing the development of the community over the centuries. An entire Millennium of English church architecture can be seen in this building which is an organised jumble of the interesting and quirky. A ‘must see’, top-ten church.

Stratford Upon Avon May 2013 032

Dating back to the first decades of the eighth century as is proved by the charter of Aethelbald (Saxon king) which mentions the minster which then existed in the area and founded by Aethelric. Its tower dates back to the 900s, if not earlier. It was first established as a missionary church for spreading the Christian faith to the surrounding areas and was inhabited by Benedictine monks at that time. This church was built on the “Wudu Tun” (Wootton) estate near the river Alne which still meanders through the tranquil countryside.

The preservation of historical buildings is paramount in the UK.

The preservation of historical buildings is paramount in the UK.

Today, the remains of this stone church forms the heart of the parish church of St. Peter’s, including the lower two- thirds of the tower and the four arches enclosing the Saxon Sanctuary. As it stands today, St. Peter’s represents almost every stage of English architecture, and its medieval congregation was the first in a long line to raise funds to safeguard the building.

In the barn-roofed Lady Chapel an acclaimed exhibition explores Wootton’s mysterious past, including how it got its very odd name. Wagen (‘Wawen’) was the Saxon lord of the manor a thousand years ago.

 

The  barn roofed Lady Chapel.

The barn roofed Lady Chapel.

Stratford Upon Avon May 2013 085 Visible inscriptions made by past pilgrims to St Peters. Some of these inscriptions are known to have been made by Crusaders.

As we walked in the church spoke loudly of a Catholic past, and as we moved from one part of the church to the next, I felt a deep sadness about all the Catholic churches that were either destroyed or repatriated during the Reformation. I certainly felt a connection with those Catholics who had been there before me.

A moment that matters.

9780281054626 - Confirmation Prayer Book white

Tonight my beloved and I returned from our monthly  prayer group, blessed in the knowledge that our dear friends hold  us close when they pray. We felt comforted not only by the Word of God but cosseted and enfolded in His love through the reaching out of  this small group of workers in The Vineyard: our wonderful prayer group. This group has opened wide a new door of discovery and understanding for us, about the light of love that Our Lord holds over us.

A moment that mattered.

After a tough week, feeling downtrodden and hopeless, as I walked into Mass this morning, my heart slowly grew lighter. The Mass is the same always and everywhere  no matter how you feel. It remains a constant. Unchanged and unchanging. 2011-09_TheMassIt felt comforting to be in that familiar rhythm, waiting expectantly to receive the Lord, and nothing else really matters.

All that’s good as well as words of Poetry and Inspiration.

images (2)

With JP the Great.

 

 

Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, spoke these words to the College of Cardinals following his election as the 265th Successor of Saint Peter, Bishop of Rome, and Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church:

Let us never give in to pessimism, to that bitterness that the devil offers us every day. Do not give in to pessimism and discouragement. We have the firm certainty that the Holy Spirit gives the Church with His mighty breath, the courage to persevere and also to seek new methods of evangelization, to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth. The Christian truth is attractive and persuasive because it responds to the deep needs of human existence, convincingly announcing that Christ is the only Saviour of the whole person and of all persons. This announcement is as valid today as it was at the beginning of Christianity when there was a great missionary expansion of the Gospel.

Sounds and reads like poetry to me! images (11)

Good to hear that ‘the father of lies and deceit’ is alive and well- we need more of our Shepherds to speak of his wily ways.

Will Pope Francis Defend the Persecuted Church?
Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/will-pope-francis-defend-the-persecuted-church-91847/#5OXMVkucczLCFUkA.99

Image@RodandersonCPcartoonist

Image@RodandersonCPcartoonist

With the Christian s being the MOST persecuted faith in the world who better could we have on our side?

images

 

Prophetic Witness.

Imageandtext@IgnatiusPressfacebook

Imageandtext@IgnatiusPressfacebook

…We need prophetic witnesses. We need people who in their way of life challenge the prevailing false ideologies bearing upon the production, distribution, and use of material goods. We need lived prophecy.

The basic presuppositions of the population must change first. Ideological structures undergird and support laws and other structures. (my emphasis)

We therefore need pilgrim witnesses. We need joyous, loving men and women to show in their lives that one can live a sparing-sharing lifestyle and still be happy and fulfilled. We need to induce conversion into the masses first by example, then by word—really, by both simultaneously. 

—Fr. Thomas Dubay

From his book “Happy Are You Poor”. Find this book on our site herehttp://goo.gl/FjB1k

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