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Adoration with Pope Francis.

Each one of us is a co-worker of Christ - we must labor hard to carry Him to the hearts where He has not yet been known and loved...But, unless we have Jesus, we cannot give Him; that is why we need the Eucharist. Spend as much time as possible in front of the Blessed Sacrament and He will fill you with His strength and His power. - Blessed Mother Teresa

Each one of us is a co-worker of Christ – we must labor hard to carry Him to the hearts where He has not yet been known and loved…But, unless we have Jesus, we cannot give Him; that is why we need the Eucharist. Spend as much time as possible in front of the Blessed Sacrament and He will fill you with His strength and His power. – Blessed Mother Teresa

On Sunday June 2, 2013 at 5 pm Rome time, Pope Francis will preside at a special hour of Eucharistic adoration in St Peter’s Square in Rome on the afternoon of the Feast of Corpus Christi. The feast of Corpus Christi celebrates the real presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist.
adoration_pope-francis

This year the Pope has added a special theme to this day : “One Lord, One Faith”, to testify to the deep unity that characterizes it. “It will be an event, occurring for the first time in the history of the Church, which is why we can describe it as ‘historical’, says Archbishop Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. The cathedrals of the world will be synchronized with Rome and will, for an hour, be in communion with the Pope in Eucharistic adoration.

The Archbishop says there has been an incredible response to this initiative, going beyond the cathedrals and involving episcopal conferences, parishes, lay associations, and religious congregations, especially cloistered ones.”

Because the Year of Faith is meant “to intensify the celebration of the faith in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist, which is the summit towards which the activity of the Church is directed and also the source from which all its power flows” the Pope has asked that this initiative be extended to as many parishes as possible throughout the world.

Pope Francis has two intentions for this one hour which are: 

“For the Church spread throughout the world and united today in the adoration of the Most Holy Eucharist as a sign of unity.

May the Lord make her ever more obedient to hearing His Word in order to stand before the world ‘ever more beautiful, without stain or blemish, but holy and blameless.’

That through her faithful announcement, the Word that saves may still resonate as the bearer of mercy and may increase love to give full meaning to pain and suffering, giving back joy and serenity.”

Pope Francis’ second intention is:

“For those around the world who still suffer slavery and who are victims of war, human trafficking, drug running, and slave labour.
For the children and women who are suffering from every type of violence. May their silent scream for help be heard by a vigilant Church so that, gazing upon the crucified Christ, she may not forget the many brothers and sisters who are left at the mercy of violence.

For all those who find themselves in economically precarious situations, above all for the unemployed, the elderly, migrants, the homeless, prisoners, and those who experience marginalization.

That the Church’s prayer and its active nearness give them comfort and assistance in hope and strength and courage in defending human dignity.”

Further information can be found on the Year of Faith website, at www.annusfidei.va. 

Fresco, San Marco, Florence- scene from the Last Supper.

Fresco, San Marco, Florence- scene from the Last Supper.

 

Good Shepherd Sunday is traditionally set aside as a day of prayer for vocations to the Priesthood and the Religious Life.

A really beautiful picture of our Good Shepherd!

The real question is what CHOICE do each of us make in meeting our spiritual challenges?

I found this quote here that spoke so clearly to me immediately:

I believe the Catholic Church provides many opportunities to focus on the Gospels. Actually being in the pew is the first step. An active Catholic participates, seeks out information, and is engaged in the many activities, including charitable causes.

If a person joins an organization by signing their name, seldom attends the meetings, never volunteers, and is not in sync with the group’s basic principles, would they be considered an active member?

The real question is what CHOICE do each of us make in meeting our spiritual challenges?

Are you one of the ‘Cafe Catholics’ who has not darkened the door of the church for some time or who has little knowledge about Christ at the centre of His Church? Has your knowledge of Faith stagnated and become fuzzy, so you just add little bits into your ‘faith’ because it feels more comfortable to do so, and fits into your understanding of a relationship of Jesus? Are you unsure about the truth of the Faith? Do you cringe and turn away from those who criticise the Church and end up agreeing with others’ statements about Jesus and what He teaches just to end a conversation? Do you have serious grievances against the Church which have never been heard? Do you generally go to church at Christmas and Easter but couldn’t be bothered to go to Confession or to receive Holy Communion? Do you feel uncomfortable about secular issues but can’t put you finger on why you feel this way?  Do you openly criticise the tenets of ‘church and faith’ as a catholic?

There are so many inactive Catholics who have signed up and call themselves catholic! So many who are missing out on an exciting Spiritual Journey of Discovery:- the discovery of our Loving God and who He is, and how He can change our hearts and minds and make us notice things we’ve never recognised about Him before.  Get active in your parish!… search for our Lord. He is to be found there…in our midst. Search for the answers to your Spiritual Challenges. Be prepared for changes that will most certainly come your way.

What better way is there to do this than by getting involved with a group or setting up a new group in your parish? I have had the pleasure of  meeting many interesting people with many interesting talents with so much LOVE for our Lord. So much love to give. His Love oozes from them and in turn we are moved by His actions in them. We meet Him in them. It is in this way that we broaden our continuously growing knowledge of Love and how we understand this Love more in our giving to others . This well of Knowledge is deep and unending. The breadth and scope of what always seems to remain undiscovered spreads out in vast plains before us the more we search and thirst for our loving Father.

The youth of the parish exude a love for life asking urgent, challenging questions. The elderly preserve precious Traditions of the Church and in so doing, help us to understand those Traditions and grow more in love with our Lord. Our contemporaries support us in our Journey with a shoulder to lean on, prayers and understanding.

Parishes are built up  and made stronger by those who volunteer their talents for the sake of others. It is there that we learn to understand the meaning of humility and tolerance for others that little bit more each and every time we’re involved. It is there that we have the opportunity to share our experiences of the Lord and our love of Him with others in a way that only He can do, and in so doing you can move someone into a deeper relationship with Him. It is there that we are accepted and loved for who we are without any prerequisites or judgement. It is there that we build up the Church on earth. We are the Body  of Christ on earth.images (1)Catholic parishes are full to the brim with a cross-section of cultures and life experiences  with the Lord Jesus. Surely these experiences only work to build links and open invitations to getting to know God in yet again in another way through them? It is only there that you are exposed to the love given and received by your parish priest in ways sometimes most unexpected. You become witness to the many roles that you priest takes on a daily basis. The most important being: bringing Christ to those he is in contact with. Yes, you see Him at Mass and listen to him share the Gospels on a Sunday and hopefully, teaching about the Truth of our Faith: Jesus himself. Have you really listened to the Gospels for a message  pointed straight at you? Have you chosen to listen to the Word of God?

I have been privileged to meet some of the most inspirational priests, religious and lay people who are experts in their fields who can go a long way in answering those burning questions about Jesus that may have simmered for so long. The Journey is slow, gentle and welcoming. Just make the CHOICE to be active in your Faith. Active in your parish and in so doing in the wider the community. Make the CHOICE to get to know Jesus.

What better way to make up your mind about coming back into The Fold: Finding out about what’s new in the Church, how God is working in Her midst, finding Peace and restitution in God’s provision of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and then of course, Christ himself in the  Eucharist. Have you thought about making an appointment with your parish priest to ask questions, ask for guidance or ask your challenging Spiritual questions? I think you may be pleasantly surprised.

10-tips-for-happiness-904x1024

Fancy the idea of making a change for the better? Come back to Church!

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

 

‘…all of us are called on to play our part…”

I came across this article in the latest FAITH magazine. It spoke so clearly to me and resounded with my personal sentiments.

(Bold type is my emphasis)

”An Invitation to Evangelise
FAITH Magazine January-February 2013 

Not all of us are called to preach publicly, but all of us are called on to play our part in spreading the Gospel – the “Good News” that Jesus Christ is God with us, that he died to reconcile us to the Father, and that he is risen from the dead and has poured out the Holy Spirit on his chosen ones.

There are many ways we can do this and many different words and examples we can use to get this message across to the world around us. First of all, as fellow believers we remind each other of the good news by talking about our faith together, by encouraging each other to grow in knowledge of our faith and by praying together. 

The Parable of The Sower.

The Parable of The Sower.


Sometimes we may need to explain some point of the Church’s teaching to a fellow Catholic or clear up a misunderstanding. This can happen in casual conversation through ordinary friendships or in a formal setting like a school governors group, and so on. To “counsel the doubtful” is one of the spiritual works of mercy. 

I had been bothered of late, by the lack of  basic knowledge of the Faith during open discussions with Catholics.  The Holy Father in his wisdom certainly understood the need for a Year of Faith. Honestly, when I attended the inauguration of the Year of Faith last year, I was taken aback by the thought (call it naiveté/ lack of awareness , at it’s best)  that Catholics need to be evangelised, brought back into the Fold. This was the catalyst that lit the fuse in me to do ‘my bit.’ 

During prayer groups and casual gatherings, I do not have all the answers, but when someone who is a ‘practising’ Catholic states that,’maybe the devil and God ‘both live in our souls’, I have had to dig deep in order not to blurt out ‘NO OF COURSE NOT!’, and to carefully formulate pertinent questions and statements that could otherwise be misconstrued as critique – in order to change a train of thought an hopefully get the train back on track. I have also noticed that sometimes this kind of speak is tolerated as a ‘person’s right to voice an opinion’. If we do not speak up for about the Faith and what the Church teaches, people are going to think it’s fine to talk gibberish because whatever is said  will be accepted as ‘opinion’. The Good News is not a relative issue. It’s factual and true. There is no room for emotion or feelings, and ‘I think… ‘

For someone who needs a little time to ponder over things in order to formulate a response, I sometimes feel frustrated at not being able to have a full, quick and pertinent retort on the spot. I do my best knowing that I could’ve probably answered more fully. My middle-aged grey matter is also to blame for this I might add. For this reason I’ve made an inquiry to join a workshop given by Catholic Voices , a group that was formed around the time the Holy Father visited England three years ago. Their website is most definitely worth a visit.)

Putting the Church's case in the public square

Putting the Church’s case in the public square

The article goes on to say…

We may be called on to catechise others in the Church, such as children and young people or adults seeking full communion with Christ. This is both an honour and a duty. We are co-workers of the apostles (bishops and priests) in this work, but as lay Catholics we are all equipped and commissioned to speak for Jesus Christ because of our baptism and confirmation.We should always be alert to situations where a Christian influence can be brought to bear on the world around us. (Like when someone makes casual remarks about the Mass, that may just be off the mark.) 

The Road to Emmaus. Do others recognise Jesus in us, walking alongside them in day to day life?

The Road to Emmaus. Do others recognise Jesus in us, walking alongside them in day to day life?

Of course it is best not to do this in a sanctimonious or “churchy” way. But if we have built genuine relationships of trust and respect, and offered honest friendship to those around us, then with the help of the Holy Spirit, we will find the right words to say when the opportunity arises.

It may be a matter of dropping a thought provoking comment into a conversation which helps people to see beyond the secular view. (In order to do this, we need to be up to date with the news around us.) Or it may be that we quietly invite someone to a spiritual event (It might be an invitation to come to Mass, to come back to Sacraments of the Church or to some other Catholic devotion, to talk with a priest or spiritual advisor, to read a book, to listen to a lecture, to assist in some ministry, to pray together or to attend a parish social event) or gathering introducing them to the Catholic community – and ultimately introducing them to Jesus Christ.

 

There may also be times when we are called on to speak up in public or private situations where misunderstandings or misconceptions about the Catholic faith are being repeated. (It can be a little trickier of course, when the comments are made within a group of strangers,but I think it’s can be even more so within a family setting. This is why I’m leaning toward some professional apologetics teaching, so that I may in future be confidently prepared to answer  questions of the day regarding Christianity and the Church.) We may have to bear witness to human moral principles, ( I do believe this to be the most important one of all. Our actions show what we’re all about.We can tell others how the Holy Spirit has worked in our lives. We can also share our faith through actions that demonstrate the ways in which we try to live authentically the Gospel Message.) which are being undermined in politics, writing to the press or lobbying parliament.

We have to use our skills and influence in the world to protect the common good and promote an authentic Christian society.”

I want to be a true disciples of Christ. Evangelisation today is needed more than ever!

Buy your ticket now! not to be missed – a ‘DAY OF FAITH’, organised by the FAITH MOVEMENT.

 

The FAITH MOVEMENT invites you to:-

a DAY OF FAITH

at St Patrick’s Church, Soho Square, London W1D 4NR

MAPexpansive

June 18th 2013, starts 11 am

Special guest speakers:

 Rt Rev Philip Egan, Bishop of Portsmouth 3pm

Bishop Philip Eagen

Bishop Philip Eagen

George Wiegel(papal biographer)

George Wiegel(papal biographer)

George Weigel, Papal biographer 7.30pm

 

Tickets :  £20.00 , includes lunch and supper.

Daytime only: £10.00 includes lunch.

Evening only: £10.00 includes supper.

Book your place now!  Send cheque payable to FAITH/KEYWAY  to: St Peter’s Church, Bishop’s Rise, Hatfield, Herts AL10 9HN. Please give your name, postal address and email and enclose  a  addressed envelope .

Programme for the day:

11 am Arrival. Coffee and pastries.

11.25 Introduction and welcome

11.30  Speaker:  THE YEAR OF FAITH: TEACHING AND CELEBRATING THE FAITH

Director of education, Lancaster Diocese

Canon Luiz Ruscillo, Director of education, Lancaster Diocese

12.30   Break. Opportunity  for confession

12.45   MASS In St Patrick’s Church.

1.15pm  Buffet Lunch

2.30pm ADORATION OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT in St Patrick’s Church.

3.OO pm GUEST SPEAKER:  Rt Rev Philip Egan, Bishop of Portsmouth THE YEAR OF FAITH: CHALLENGE AND OPPORTUNITY

4.00pm Tea

4.30pm Benediction in St Patrick’s Church

Break. (Optional History Walk around the local area, led by Joanna Bogle)

Joanna Bogle, author and journalist

Joanna Bogle, author and journalist

6.30pm Drinks and Buffet

7.30pm Guest speaker: GEORGE WEIGEL: THE YEAR OF FAITH: OUR EVANGELICAL MOMENT

Lent AGAIN! Believe it or not.

No Law, No Freedom.

Image@ignatiouspress

Image@ignatiouspress

This past Sunday’s homily included a quote from Pope Benedicte’s book called , ‘Spirit of the Liturgy’, and today I find a quote on a poster from Ignatius Press! This book is a must have. Reading through tweets this afternoon, I came across a post here,  taken from  the L’Osservatore Romano (the Vatican’s newspaper) which relates perfectly to the slogan on the  above poster:

and I quote:-

If relativism is taken as a norm  

2013-01-16 L’Osservatore Romano

Your Excellency, on 15 January the European Court of Human Rights published its judgments on four cases relating to the freedom of conscience and religion of employees in the United Kingdom. Two of these cases concern employees’ freedom to wear a small cross around their neck in the workplace, while the other two concern the freedom to object in conscience to the celebration of a civil union between persons of the same sex and to conjugal counselling for couples of the same sex. Only in one case the Court held in favor of the applicant.

These cases show that questions relating to freedom of conscience and religion are complex, in particular in European society marked by the increase of religious diversity and the corresponding hardening of secularism. There is a real risk that moral relativism ,

which imposes itself as a new social norm, will come to undermine the foundations of individual freedom of conscience and religion. The Church seeks to defend individual freedoms of conscience and religion in all circumstances, even in the face of the “dictatorship of relativism”.  To this end, the rationality of the human conscience in general and of the moral action of Christians in particular requires explanation. Regarding morally controversial subjects, such as abortion or homosexuality, freedom of consciences must be respected. Rather than being an obstacle to the establishment of a tolerant society in its pluralism, respect for freedom of conscience and religion is a condition for it. Addressing the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See last week Pope Benedict XVI stressed that: “In order effectively to safeguard the exercise of religious liberty it is essential to respect the right of conscientious objection. This “frontier” of liberty touches upon principles of great importance of an ethical and religious character, rooted in the very dignity of the human person. They are, as it were, the “bearing walls” of any society that wishes to be truly free and democratic. Thus, outlawing individual and institutional conscientious objection in the name of liberty and pluralism paradoxically opens by contrast the door to intolerance and forced uniformity.”

The erosion of freedom of conscience also witnesses to a form of pessimism with regard to the capacity of the human conscience to recognize the good and the true, to the advantage of positive law alone, which tends to monopolize the determination of morality. It is also the Church’s role to remind people that every person, no matter what his beliefs, has, by means of his conscience, the natural capacity to distinguish good from evil and that he should act accordingly. Therein lies the source of his true freedom.

Some time ago the Holy See’s Mission to the Council of Europe published a Note on the Church’s freedom and institutional autonomy. Could you explain the context of the Note?

The issue of the Church’s freedom in her relations with civil authorities is at present being examined by the European Court of Human Rights in two cases involving the Orthodox Church of Romania and the Catholic Church. These are the Sindacatul “Pastorul cel Bun” versus Romania and Fernandez Martinez versus Spain cases. On this occasion the Permanent Representation of the Holy See to the Council of Europe drew up a synthetic note explaining the magisterium (official Church teaching) on the freedom and institutional autonomy of the Catholic Church.

What is at stake in these cases?

In these cases, the European Court must decide whether the civil power respected the European Convention on Human Rights in refusing to recognize a trade union of priests (in the Romanian case) and in refusing to appoint a teacher of religion who publicly professes positions contrary to the teaching of the Church (in the Spanish case). In both cases, the rights to freedom of association and freedom of expression were invoked in order to constrain religious communities to act in a manner contrary to their canonical status and the Magisterium. Thus, these cases call into question the Church’s freedom to function according to her own rules and not to be subject to civil rules other than those necessary to ensure that the common good and just public order are respected. The Church has always had to defend herself in order to preserve her autonomy with regard to the civil power and ideologies. Today, an important issue in Western countries is to determine how the dominant culture, strongly marked by materialist individualism and relativism, can understand and respect the nature of the Church, which is a community founded on faith and reason.

How does the Church understand this situation?

The Church is aware of the difficulty of determining the relations between the civil authorities and the different religious communities in a pluralist society with regard to the requirements of social cohesion and the common good. In this context, the Holy See draws attention to the necessity of maintaining religious freedom in its collective and social dimension.

This dimension corresponds to the essentially social nature both of the person and of the religious fact in general. The Church does not ask that religious communities be lawless zonesbut that they be recognized as spaces for freedom, by virtue of the right to religious freedom, while respecting just public order. This teaching is not reserved to the Catholic Church; the criteria derived from it are founded in justice and are therefore of general application.

Furthermore, the juridical principle of the institutional autonomy of religious communities is widely recognized by States which respect religious freedom, as well as by international law.

The European Court of Human Rights itself has regularly stated this principle in several important judgments. Other institutions have also affirmed this principle. This is notably the case with the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) and also with the United Nations Committee for Human Rights in, respectively, the Final Document of the Vienna Conference of 19 January 1989 and General Observation No. 22 on the Right to Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion of 30 July 1993. It is nevertheless useful to recall and defend this principle of the autonomy of the Church and the civil power.

How is this Note set out?

The Church’s freedom will be better respected if it is, first of all, well understood, without prejudice, by the civil authorities. It is therefore necessary to explain how the Church’s freedom is envisaged. To this end, the Permanent Representation of the Holy See to the Council of Europe drew up a synthetic Note (which is here attached) explaining the Church’s position on the basis of four principles: (1) the distinction between the Church and the political community; (2) freedom in relation to the State; (3) freedom within the Church; (4) respect for just public order.

Following the explanation of these principles, the Note also presents the more pertinent extracts from the Declaration on Religious Freedom Dignitatis Humanae and the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes of the Second Vatican Council.

Freedom and the institutional autonomy of the Church

Below we are publishing the English text of the Note on the Catholic Church’s freedom and institutional autonomy presented by Holy See’s Permanent Representation to the Council of Europe concerning the cases: Sindicatul “Pastorul cel Bun” versus Romania n° (2330/09) and Fernández-Martínez versus Spain (n° 56030/07) being examined by the European Court of Human Rights.

The teaching of the Catholic Church regarding the aspects of religious freedom touched on by the two above-mentioned cases may be presented synthetically as based on the following four principles: 1) the distinction between the Church and the political community; 2) freedom in relation to the State; 3) freedom within the Church; 3) respect for just public order.

(1). The distinction between the Church and the political community

The Church recognizes the distinction between the Church and the political community, each of which has distinct ends; the Church is in no way confused with the political community and is not bound to any political system. The political community must see to the common good and ensure that citizens can lead a “calm and peaceful life” in this world. The Church recognizes that it is in the political community that the most complete realization of the common good is to be found (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1910); this is to be understood as “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or individuals, to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily” (ibid., n. 1906). It is the State’s task to defend it and ensure the cohesion, unity and organization of society in order that the common good may be realized with the contribution of all citizens and that the material, cultural, moral and spiritual goods necessary for a truly human existence may be made accessible to everyone. The Church, for her part, was founded in order to lead the faithful to their eternal end by means of her teaching, sacraments, prayer and laws.

This distinction is based on the words of the Lord Jesus (Christ): “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mt 22:21). In their own areas, the political community and the Church are independent of each other and autonomous. When it is a question of areas which have both temporal and spiritual ends, such as marriage or the education of children, the Church is of the view that the civil power should exercise its authority while making sure not to damage the spiritual good of the faithful. The Church and the political community, however, cannot ignore one another; from different points of view they are at the service of the same people. They exercise this service all the more effectively for the good of all the more they strive for healthy mutual cooperation, as the Second Vatican Council expressed it (cf. Gaudium et spes, n. 76).

The distinction between the Church and the political community is ensured by respecting their reciprocal autonomy, which conditions their mutual freedom. The limits of this freedom are, for the State, to refrain from adopting measures which could do harm to the eternal salvation of the faithful, and, for the Church, to respect the public order of the State.

(2). Freedom with respect to the State

The Church claims no privilege but asks that her freedom to carry out her mission in a pluralist society be fully respected and protected. The Church received this mission and this freedom from Jesus Christ, not from the State. The civil power should thus respect and protect the freedom and autonomy of the Church and in no way prevent her from fully carrying out her mission, which consists in leading the faithful, by her teaching, sacraments, prayers and laws, to their eternal end.

The Church’s freedom should be recognized by the civil power with regard to all that concerns her mission, whether it is a matter of the institutional organization of the Church (choice and formation of her co-workers and of the clergy, choice of bishops, internal communication between the Holy See, the bishops and faithful, the founding and governing of institutes of religious life, the publication and distribution of written texts, the possession and administration of temporal goods …), or the fulfilment of her mission towards the faithful (especially by the exercise of her Magisterium, the celebration of public worship, the administration of the sacraments and pastoral care).

The Catholic religion exists in and through the Church, which is the mystical body of Christ. When considering the Church’s freedom, primary attention should therefore be given to her collective dimension: the Church is autonomous in her institutional functioning, juridical order and internal administration. With due respect for the imperatives of a just public order, this autonomy should be respected by the civil authorities; this is a condition of religious freedom and the distinction between Church and State. The civil authorities cannot, without committing an abuse of power, interfere in the purely religious domain, for example, by seeking to change the bishop’s decision regarding appointment to a function.

(3). Freedom within the Church

The Church is not unaware that certain religions and ideologies can oppress the freedom of their adherents; however, for her part, the Church recognizes the fundamental value of human freedom. The Church sees in every human person a creature endowed with intelligence and free will. The Church sees herself as a space for freedom and prescribes norms intended to guarantee that this freedom is respected. Thus, all religious acts, for validity, require the freedom of the one carrying them out, that is, the engagement of their will. Taken together and apart from their individual significance, these freely accomplished acts aim at giving access to the “freedom of the children of God”. Mutual relations within the Church (such as marriage and religious vows made before God) are governed by this freedom.

This freedom has a relation of dependence on the truth (“the truth will make you free”, Jn 8:32): consequently it cannot be invoked to justify an attack on the truth. Thus, a member of the lay faithful or a religious cannot, with regard to the Church, invoke freedom to contest the faith (for example, by adopting public positions against the Magisterium) or to damage the Church (for example, by creating a civil trade union of priests against the will of the Church). It is true that every person is free to contest the Magisterium or the prescriptions and norms of the Church.

In case of disagreement, everyone may exercise the recourses provided by canon law and even break off his relations with the Church. Since relations within the Church are, however, essentially spiritual in nature, it is not the State’s role to enter into this area to settle disputes.

(4). Respect for just public order

The Church does not ask that religious communities be “lawless” areas, where the laws of the State would cease to apply. The Church recognizes the legitimate competence of civil authorities and jurisdictions to assure the maintenance of public order. This public order should conform to justice. Thus, the State should ensure that religious communities respect morality and just public order. In particular, it should see to it that persons are not subject to inhuman or degrading treatment, that their physical and moral integrity is respected, including the possibility of freely leaving their religious community. This is where the autonomy of the different religious communities is limited, allowing both individual and collective and institutional religious freedom to be guaranteed, while respecting the common good and the cohesion of pluralist societies. Apart from these cases, civil authorities should respect the autonomy of religious communities, by virtue of which these should be free to function and organize themselves according to their own rules.

In this regard, it should be borne in mind that the Catholic faith completely respects reason. Christians recognize the distinction between reason and religion, between the natural and supernatural orders, and believe that “grace does not destroy nature”, that is to say, that faith and the other gifts of God never render human nature and the use of human reason useless, not ignore them, but rather promote and encourage them. Christianity, unlike other religions, does not involve formal religious prescriptions (regarding food, vesture, mutilation, etc.) which, were the case to arise, could offend against natural morality and enter into conflict with the law of a religiously neutral State. In any case, Christ taught us to go beyond such purely formal religious prescriptions and replaced them by the living law of charity, a law which, in the natural order, recognizes that conscience has the task of distinguishing between good and evil. Thus, the Catholic Church could not impose any prescription contrary to the just requirements of public order.

Bravo!…a Bishop and three priests.

The Salmon’s Badge of Honour goes to Fr. Peter Edwards…

Fr Peter Edwards

Fr Peter Edwards

…for being a wonderful teacher and leader in Faith, for remaining faithful to the teaching of the Magistarium. Thank you for your gentle but forthright  homily on the Feast of the Holy Family;  for presenting the Truth of the Catholic Faith regarding to the dignity of each and every one of us in Jesus, and for reminding all that we are all come to be Royalty through our Saviour. Thank you for reminding us about the importance of the family.  Thank you for having the courage of your convictions to ‘go against the grain’ regardless of the ever-present criticism or dissent. The Salmon stands with you proudly!

Salmon Badge of Honour

Salmon Badge of Honour

USC_banner_180x150_v3

Having posted the Super-Slogan yesterday, imagine my delight when opening heroic posts defending the dignity of  marriage and family with sincerity, passion and conviction. Fr. Ray ‘s post,‘ LET’S FORGET THE NICENESS, LET’S BE CATHOLIC,’  resounded with me as I feel strongly that Catholics on these shores need to stand together in solidarity to share the TRUTH of our Faith, for the sake of society as we know it.

Fr. Ray Blake

Fr. Ray Blake

I quote Fr. Ray’s excellent suggestions that could be put forward in a Catholic Pro-family Manifesto:-

Rather than being embarrassed by it we should dare to talk about what the Church understands by being “human”, which involves human sexuality.It is radical, we should accept that it is counter-cultural, it overthrows the politics of left and right by simply saying the family is the most important element in society not wealth creation or even self determination and self-fulfilment.

We could start by trying to get people to discuss marriage, how about large banners on every Catholic building saying something like “Marriage = Man + Woman: discuss” We could spend money on a poster campaign. We should have done it ages ago but what about every diocese in the country producing study material on Humanae Vitae and Evangelium Vitae

Is it too late to organise symposia in amongst orthodox Christian academics on Marriage?In the capital at the very least we should be organising public meetings to talk about marriage, and demonstrations to show what we mean by marriage.

 In the institutions we still control, our schools most especially, we should be promoting the family. The state, for the last century or two, has been promoting the view that we are here primarily to serve the economy, and that we have value and status in our production of wealth ultimately in our family relationships but as Catholics we should be educating people to understand we have value in our relationships with one another. Just as the state promotes Sports or Performing Arts Academies we Catholics should be making every school or  college an Academy for the Family.

With epidemic marital breakdown we need to teach people how to be married, especially boys, for too long Catholics have done so very little to really educate our young for either eternal or marital life. We should recognise most women have abortions because of economic reasons, that controlling the size of families through contraception for most people is an economic decision.

We need to promote an authentic feminism (and masculinism) that is based on relationships, we need to promote the real rights of women to be parents, simply to be able to have children without the constant anxiety to find childcare and to be able to afford it.We need to promote affordable family housing. 

We need promote Sunday, the Lord’s Day, a day of re-creation, as a day for building family. Every Catholic social justice organisation should be deeply involved in promoting an economic model that sees the family, rather than the creation of personal wealth, as priority.

In a further post Fr. Ray draws our attention to the efforts of the newly appointed Archbishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth’s Pastoral letter, (published here) which was read out on the feast of the Holy Family:

images

Bishop Philip Egan, of Portsmouth.

JESUS CHRIST, THE PERFECT HUMAN

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In this second Pastoral Letter, I want to discuss something that many people find very challenging and controversial. But let me first, on this feast of the Holy Family, wish you the continuing joys of Christmas. Since becoming your bishop a few weeks ago, I have been visiting our priests. I thank God for all the wonderful priests we have and for their inspiring love and service of Jesus and his Church. I thank God too for the many beautiful churches in our diocese and not least for you, the People of God, for your perseverance in faith and Christian discipleship in these difficult times. As we enter the New Year 2013, I urge you, in the words of today’s Second Reading, often to “think of the love that the Father has lavished upon us by letting us be called God’s children.”[i]
The context of this Pastoral Letter is two-fold. First, the Year of Faith, in which I want to explore the articles of the Creed. Today, let us consider the second article: “I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God.”[ii] Jesus Christ is Divine. He is God the Son. He is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, or to use that daringly non-Scriptural term, “consubstantial with the Father”. This is an important doctrine to teach today. For many would acknowledge Jesus to be a great religious leader, a Prophet and teacher, a good and holy man. But in fact He is infinitely greater: He is God the Word. When Jesus speaks, it is God speaking. This changes everything. In this Year of Faith, it would be good to review our prayer and catechesis to ensure it reflects the fullness of this truth. We should also study afresh the Creed and its origins[iii] so we can understand better the Church’s teaching and why Jesus Christ is the only Way to salvation.
The second context of this Letter is today’s feast of the Holy Family, which presents us with the humanity of Christ: that he became incarnate “for us and for our salvation”. Or to paraphrase St. Leo, “He came down from heaven that we might go up to heaven”[iv]. In taking on human nature, Jesus also took on a human history and a human culture. He was brought up in Nazareth in the home of Mary and Joseph[v]. Mary, His mother, taught him his prayers and the religious traditions of his people. Joseph, as a father, gave him a trade and initiated him into the society of the day. We recall all of this in the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, which it would be good to recite every day during the Christmas season. You might also consider reading the new book by Pope Benedict: “Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives”[vi].
So the Creed affirms that Jesus Christ is truly divine, God from God; but it also states that He is the New Adam, the Perfect Human.[vii] To say this today is highly controversial. If in the fourth century it was the doctrine about how Jesus could be divine yet human, today the hot-button issue is what it means to be human. Indeed, most of the big debates in our society revolve around two matters: sex and authority.What is the truth about human sexuality? And who can tell me how to live my life?

In 1968, at the height of the Sixties, Pope Paul VI wrote an Encyclical Letter that then and now many Catholics find difficult. He repeated the traditional teaching of the Church, based on the natural law and confirmed by revelation, that sexual intercourse is an integral act for love and for life, and that these two aspects of sexuality – love and life – cannot be divorced[viii]Humanae Vitae was a prophetic document. Pope Paul spoke of catastrophic consequences for society and culture if these two ends of marriage were split. 45 years on, we can see what he meant in such things as the reduction of sex to a leisure activity, the trafficking of people for prostitution and pornography, broken family relationships, and the explosion of addictive behaviours leading to despair, shame and guilt[ix].

As Catholics, we believe in the natural way of life. We believe that the purpose of sexual intercourse is to express the love between a man and a woman, a love which, within the permanent commitment of marriage, is open to being fruitful to life.[x] This is the way to lasting happiness and fulfilment, even if to become chaste – that is, to develop a mature and fully integrated sexuality, as a single person or a married couple – involves a life-long struggle and “apprenticeship in self-mastery”[xi]. To help us, Jesus calls us to be his disciples, and offers us the healing balm and the strength we need, above all in confession and Holy Communion.

Jesus Christ is the way to personal happiness and authentic humanism. Sadly, the teaching of Humanae Vitae about sexual morality and family values has become something of an ‘elephant in the room’ that no-one seems to mention. In this Year of Faith then, I would like to invite everyone to discover again the Church’s wonderful vision of love and life, as expounded in the Catechism.

I would also like to ask all families, whatever their form or circumstances, to think about developing a deeper and richer Catholic ethos in the home, so as to give a clearer witness to contemporary culture. For instance, why not spend an evening together as a family, occasionally switch off the computer, make the Sign of the Cross on entering the house, adopt a communal work of justice and charity, or keep special the fast-days and feast-days? I am sure you will think of many other ways of preserving our Catholic distinctiveness.

In this Mass of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, let us thank God for our own families, and pray for them. Let us pray for those who struggle to live a chaste life in imitation of Christ. Let us pray for families who are struggling or who have suffered tragedy and pain. And let us pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on our land. Like Mary and Joseph who found Jesus in the Temple, may the people of England find their way to salvation and happiness in Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, ever present and active in his Church. Indeed, in this Year of Faith, may the Spirit lead us all to the living waters that stream from the Heart of Jesus, burning with love for us.

In Corde Iesu,

+ Philip

Bishop of Portsmouth

[i] I John 3: 1. This is the second reading given in the alternative set of readings for optional use in Year C.
[ii] Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, The Roman Missal 562
[iii] see Catechism of the Catholic Church. Second Edition (Rome, Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2000) 422-455; Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (London, CTS 2006) 81f and YOUCAT Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church (London, CTS 2010) 71f
[iv] Cf. St. Leo Sermo 6 In Nativitate Domini 2-3, 5 (PL 54, 213-216). This constitutes the Second Reading in the Office of Readings for 31stDecember.
[v] Luke 2: 51-52
[vi] Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives (New York, Image 2012)
[vii]Gaudium et Spes 22
[viii] For a concise summary of the Church’s teaching, see Catechism2331-2400
[ix] See Paul VI Humanae Vitae (London, CTS 1968) 19-30
[x] John Paul II Gratissimam Sane (Letter to Fanilies) 7-8, available online at http://www.vatican.va (December 2012)
[xi] Catechism 2339
Over at the Hermenutic of Continuity , Fr. Tim Finnigan’s post in which he outlines the hot-off-the-press Briefing paper which is intended to support the various statements made by our Bishops and to assist the people in our parishes to understand the Church’s teaching on marriage and family, in the face of much misinformation. It is a helpful brief explanation which is suitable for distribution in parishes.
Fr Tim Finnigan

Fr Tim Finnigan

The paper has been published by the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy.  Do take time to read through the introduction to the confraternity. Most encouraging.

BRIEFING PAPER ON ‘SAME-SEX MARRIAGE’ (emphasis mine)

01/01/2013

What are the reasons for this paper?

The Government proposes legislation to allow for same-sex marriage. The Catholic Church, with many others, strongly and unequivocally opposes such plans both for religious reasons (based on Scripture and Tradition) and because they are against the natural law which applies to everyone regardless of their faith commitment. Marriage, as the lifelong union of one man and one woman ordered for the procreation and upbringing of children, is rooted in human nature itself. Put simply, no government has the authority to change that. Any attempt to do so is harmful to society and constitutes a threat to freedom of conscience and the Church’s ability to function within civil society.

Why does it matter that marriage is between a man and a woman?

Marriage is as old as humanity itself. Men and women are complementary, equal in dignity but different. The very reason for this sexual distinction is to bring new life into the world. Since the beginning of humanity, marriage has been viewed as the proper environment for this, providing children with the context of permanent, committed love in which they can best flourish. Studies consistently highlight the importance of a stable family, of a mother and a father, for the best results for raising the next generation. But marriage concerns more than parents and children. It is the basis of a stable society and of civilisation itself and, therefore, requires legal recognition and protection.

But the Prime Minister says marriage is so important that everyone who wishes should be allowed to marry.  Shouldn’t we be supporting him?

The basis of the Prime Minister’s argument seems to be that, if two adults in a committed loving relationship wish to enter marriage, then they should be allowed to do so, regardless of the fact they are of the same gender. With respect, the Prime Minister is misrepresenting the nature of marriage. It is not, nor ever has been, about just any loving, committed relationship. We might have a loving committed relationship with our parents or our best friends, but marriage with them would be neither possible nor appropriate. Only the natural complementarity between a man and a woman can lead to marriage. Only this loving union, by definition, is open to bringing forth and nurturing children. Even in old age and infertility a husband and wife still preserve, like no other relationship, the elements of complementarity. That is why marriage is only possible between a man and a woman.

So isn’t the Church just discriminating against gay people?

Absolutely, not. The Church holds that every human being is created equal by God and is to be respected accordingly. The Church strongly opposes unjust discrimination against people with homosexual inclinations. In fact, the proposed legislation is not directly linked to the issue of same- sex attraction. The issue is about the meaning of marriage. Being pro-equality does not mean that everything is the same, nor that distinctions between things are unjustified. To say that everyone is equal is not the equivalent of saying they are the same. To say that a man cannot be a mother, and a woman cannot be a father is not against equality. To state this is simply to recognise an obvious fact of nature. It is in no way discriminatory. The same is true of marriage. Marriage is intrinsically linked to the procreation of children and makes no sense apart from this.

OK so same-sex marriage isn’t possible according to Christian belief, but the Prime Minster has given you assurances that you won’t have to marry same-sex couples in church if you don’t want to. Why can’t you accept they can marry elsewhere?

This is not merely a matter of religious belief and practice. It regards the future of society as a whole. It is called a matter of natural law which is something common to all regardless of personal religious belief. Tampering with such a fundamental natural institution as marriage is fraught with danger. Society ceases to flourish when it fails to cherish the family and the authentic understanding of marriage which makes the family possible. The experience of other countries where same-sex marriage has been introduced clearly indicates that the proposed change is only the beginning of a process of social engineering with tragic consequences. In Canada, since same-sex marriage was legalised, the courts have ruled that a child can legally have three parents. In the Netherlands also three-way relationships are now given a measure of legal recognition. Do we really want the UK to go down this route with all the consequent harm to children? Furthermore, with good cause, we have no confidence in the assurances offered by the Prime Minister. We recall how Catholic adoption agencies were closed because they refused to participate in a state permission for same-sex couples adopting children. If exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage is defined by equality law as discriminatory, toleration of such exclusion will not last long. Any attempted safeguard would be vulnerable to a future government, to a British court giving precedence to equality considerations and to the European Court of Human Rights.

Isn’t this a matter primarily for priests and other professionals in the Church?

Sadly, not. There is a real possibility that the Catholic Church will not be allowed for much longer to perform state recognised marriage registration in church because of its opposition to same-sex marriage. But leading human rights lawyer Aidan O’Neill QC has given his legal opinion that NHS Chaplains, teachers and foster parents could all be vulnerable. The rights of parents over their children’s education is also at threat. Mr O’Neill’s legal opinion is that any school, including a faith school, could legally dismiss a teacher for refusing to use educational material promoting same-sex marriage. Catholics must be aware of this threat to schools and teachers, and resist it with every means at their disposal. Similarly, if an institution is deemed discriminatory, can its charitable status be maintained? Legal cases would inevitably follow the passing of such legislation as in Canada.

So what are you encouraging us to do?

The Confraternity of Catholic Clergy is united in defending marriage and joins wholeheartedly the campaign of the Catholic Archbishops. We urge everyone who cares about upholding the meaning of marriage in civil law to make their views known to their MPs clearly, calmly and forcefully, and without impugning the motives of others. We urge all parties to ensure their Members have a free vote. It is not too late to stop this Bill. The Church calls on every Catholic, in conscience, to a clear and emphatic opposition to such proposals, and a refusal of any formal co-operation should such laws be passed. All this must be conducted in a spirit of charity. The Church defends the absolute dignity of every human being in the same way that she defends marriage and the family, that is, in proclaiming the truth with love. In this Christmas season, under the patronage of the Holy Family, let us all pray and work to ensure that the centrality of marriage and freedom of conscience which we have so long enjoyed continue to be defended by the laws of our country.

1st January 2013

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

A special tradition.

Pic@salmon

Pic@salmon

Every year on the last Sunday before Christmas, we bring our Baby Jesus to the church for a ‘Blessing of the Bambini’. We love this tradition and look forward to it every Christmastime. Our Bambino is so content and happy.

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