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‘…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!

Prayer for the month of December: be prepared.

By the 16th December we’ll be well into Advent and I think this Novena will serve to enhance our Advent sentimentality,  our prayer-life and praise to God.

Novena For Advent

week-3-after-5

By the 16th December, we will have lit our third Advent candle!

O Lord Jesus Christ, who for our sake descended from the throne of glory to this world of pain and sorrow; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; Make our hearts a fit habitation for you. Beautify and fill us with all spiritual graces, and possess us wholly by your power. Give us grace to prepare for your coming with deep humility, to receive you with burning love, and to hold fast to you with a firm faith; that we may never leave nor forsake you. Who lives and reigns, world without end. Amen

Here say one of the antiphons below, according to the day.

Then say:

OUR FATHER

HAIL MARY

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

The Daily Antiphons

(note: these are also to be used as antiphons for the Magnificat at Evening Prayer.)

December 16

O SHEPHERD of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock: Come to guide and comfort us.

December 17

O WISDOM, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: Come, and teach us the way of prudence.

December 18

O ADONAI, ruler of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: Come, and redeem us with outstretched arms.

December 19

O ROOT OF JESSE, that stands for an ensign of the people, before whom the kings keep silence and unto whom the Gentiles shall make supplication: Come, to deliver us, and tarry not.

December 20

O KEY OF DAVID, and Sceptre of the House of Israel, who opens and no man shuts, who shuts and no man opens: Come, and bring forth the captive from his prison, he who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death.

December 21

O DAWN OF THE EAST, brightness of light eternal, and Sun of righteousness: Come, and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death

December 22

O KING OF THE GENTILES and their desired One, the Cornerstone that makes all one: Come, and deliver man, whom you formed out of the dust of the earth.

December 23

O EMMANUEL, God with us, Our King and Lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Saviour: Come to save us, O Lord our God.

December 24

O THOU whose dominion is great, and whose kingdom shall have no end; the mighty God, the Governor, the Prince of Peace: Come show thy face, and we shall be saved.

(I found this Novena here.)

An Advent Message from Southwark’s Shepherd.

advent_12_pastoral (1)I am particularly fond of our spiritual Shepherd who oversees the vast pastures of the diocese of Southwark: His Grace, Archbishop Peter Smith.  His Advent pastoral letter  is worth ‘chewing over’ as he highlights the ever important alertness to be taken by Christians to live as faithful followers of Christ.archbishop_peter_160(Highlighted text is my comment)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The season of Advent is given to us as a “spiritual wake-up call” as we prepare ourselves to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, and look, in the longer term, to the final coming of Christ and the completion of the Kingdom of God at the end of time. (As Christians, we await Christ’s return to earth, our lives should be lived as such, not just as Christmas time.) In today’s Gospel, Jesus urges his disciples to “stay awake”. Advent, which begins the Church’s new liturgical year, is a time for us to be alive and awake, to become ever more watchful and faithful disciples. It is a time to witness to the life and hope which has been given to us in and through Jesus Christ, in whom we see made visible the God we cannot see. It is a time to look forward with hope and confidence to renewing our personal relationship with Christ in our hearts so that we can live out our faith in our daily lives. (We need Spiritual ‘fuel’ to keep us going on this Christian Journey:- Advent is the perfect stop to refuel and re-energize) A key question for each of us, is to ask “What is God asking of me?” This is the question which I want each of you to consider and reflect upon prayerfully, not only this Advent, but throughout the course of this Year of Faith.

Beginning with the Incarnation, and culminating in the Paschal Mystery, the coming of Christ reveals and celebrates God’s faithful and unconditional love for all people and for all time. He revealed himself as the God of unconditional love and compassion, who has a passionate care and concern for our salvation and our eternal well-being. Advent is a unique opportunity each year to allow God to deepen our faith and proclaim that love by the way we live and relate to others. It is especially a time, given to us by the Church, for us to focus on our relationship with the person of the risen Christ – an opportunity to make a new start with ourselves, with God and with others. It provides a more focused time to open our hearts to God in prayer, to allow God’s grace to change and mould us into clearer images of Jesus Christ, and to live as renewed and more faithful disciples. So we need to take to heart Christ’s challenge to all of us in today’s Gospel: “Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to stand with confidence before the Son of Man.”

We cannot hope to be changed, to be gradually transformed into more mature disciples, unless we keep alert to the opportunities of grace which God offers us day by day. The work of transformation and redemption is God’s work. It is literally a “labour of love” which God pursues through, with and in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. This season of Advent is a special time for us to co-operate with that work, opening our hearts to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. It is a time for us to make use of all the means which Christ has given his Church for our renewal and transformation – especially the gift of Holy Scripture, the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation, and the gift of personal prayer. (This paragraph to me, is the most important part of the message.There’s nothing new being said here, but it is set perfectly in the context of the whole letter) 

Pope John Paul II, (The one and only!)whose life and ministry made such a profound impact not only on the Church but on the whole world, reminded us that, “To be Christians has never been easy, and it isn’t easy today either. To follow Christ means having the courage to make radical choices that often go against the current. (The ever-present secular tidal-wave.)Do not be afraid to accept this challenge. Be holy men and women. Do not forget that the fruits of the apostolate depend on the depth of the spiritual life, on the intensity of prayer, of continual formation and sincere adhesion to the directives of the Church.” (We are always growing as Christians into the person that God intends us to become. We’ll never know all there is to know. This is the beauty of our Faith. By SINCERELY following the directives of the Church, we’ll be taking steps on the path of knowledge, understanding and Truth.)

Through the Church, God, in Christ, offers us again and again the love, nourishment and strength we need to continue on our journey of faith – a journey towards the fullness of life and love in the kingdom of our heavenly Father. (This is the reason why we, as Christians need to be an active parishioner in our churches.) As we make that journey day by day, we should do so with hope, confidence and joy. These are gifts of the Holy Spirit which we need to ask for in our prayer, and which he asks us to share with those around us. We are called to be the “light of the nations”, the “salt of the earth”. Like Christ we too live with the life of the Holy Spirit and we too are called “to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.” (Lk. 4: 18-19)

We are all called to proclaim the Gospel in the first place by the way we live. And we can only do that if we open our hearts fully and allow the Spirit, who dwells in the very depths of our being, to transform us more and more into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. Only with his help will we have the courage, the strength and the power to do as he asks of us – to proclaim the Gospel of God’s love, to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, to welcome the stranger, to clothe the naked, and to visit the sick and those in prison. I pray that each one of us may grasp the opportunity that Advent gives us, listening to God’s Word, rejoicing in his gifts and confident of his love for us and for all people.

“Father in heaven, our hearts desire the warmth of your love,
and our minds are searching for the light of your Word.
Increase our longing for Christ our Saviour
and give us the strength to grow in love,
that the dawn of his coming may find us rejoicing in his presence
and welcoming the light of his truth.”
Yours devotedly in Christ,

Archbishop of Southwark

Given at Southwark,
26th November 2012

Significant 7

This one’s for 8kidsandabusiness, as I received a super award from her 10 days ago. So, today I am fulfilling the rules on acceptance of this accolade! The great tenet of this award is the fact that I have had to consider which 7 Bible passages are my favourite. This has left me the opportunity  to reconsider the Word of God and left me with much  food for thought myself. Thanks for this opportunity 8kidsandabusiness!

Citizen Tom created the Food For Thought Award.  Here is his explanation:“What’s The Food for Thought Award? How can we combine The Super Sweet Blogger Award with The Thought Provoking Blog Award? Well, when a Christian blog offers visitors wisdom from the Word of God, isn’t that blog providing its visitors food for thought? Ah ha! Thus was born a new award.”  

Here are the rules:

  1. Post the award on your blog.
  2. Thank the one who nominated you and link back to their blog.
  3. Share seven of your favourite Bible passages. For extra points (Perhaps our Father in heaven will award them.), explain why each of these seven passages is a favourite.
  4. Nominate seven other bloggers you admire and enjoy! Why seven? In the Bible, seven symbolizes completeness.
  5. Inform each person that you have nominated them.

My seven favourite Bible passages: I have used the website Biblia to find the passages. I love this site as you have numerous translations to choose from . I am using the Revised Standard Edition. 

  1. Psalm 139:  This was the first passage I read that revealed God the Father to me. HE knew me before anyone else. Anyone else! It makes me feel cherished. This Psalm made me tingle from head to toe. A message just for me, at the right time of my life.

13 For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

16 Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed.

 

2. Proverbs 3: v5-6: That God is the One , True and Only Way to fulfilment in life frees me from many stresses. It has helped me to come to terms with my human frailty.

5  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

6  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

 

 

3. Psalm 51:10,11,12:  For meperfect prayer before Confession

10  Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

11  Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

12  Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

 

4. John 6:35: My hunger to be close to the Lord is satisfied in this, The Bread of Life. I receive Him in the form of bread as often as possible and every time I do I feel His peace and I think about when next I will be so close to Him.

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst”.

5. Psalm 34:8  I love this quote because of the truth in it. Related to the quote above.

8  Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

 

6. Matthew 5:44: In Confession, my parish priest told me to pray for the person who was making my life a misery. I  looked up the bible quote and it’s one that I keep close to my heart. It took many attempts to pray for someone who made me so unhappy, I simply couldn’t get passed my feelings of anger and frustration, but I pray easily now because this prayer has changed my view of the persecutor.

44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.

6.  1Peter 5:8,9  My discernment of temptation  is heightened in these two verses and through my experiences in life. My parish priest says, ‘If the devil leaves you alone, you know you’re in trouble!!’.

8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil  prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 

7. Matthew 6:9 One of my favourite, most complete prayers ever:

9  Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name.

10  Your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

11  Give us this day our daily bread,

12  and forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13  And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

 

 

 

The magnificence of Pentecost.

 

Jean Restout

Prayer to the Holy Spirit

O Holy Spirit, Soul of my soul, I love You and adore You!

Teacher of all truth who searches the deep things of God:
In the face of my hostility to the truth,
You have the power to sting the conscience
With your healing power,
Open up today, again, the floodgates of holy tears,
Let compunction flow in this barren heart,
In this love parched world,
In the hearts of all who long for freedom from sin.

Lord and Giver of Life,
Time is short, the hour is late, and judgment certain:
I beg for the gift of repentance
That I and all those threatened
By the power of death,
Might never again forsake the pathway of life.
Help me scrutinize my whole way of life
In the light of the Gospel.
Help me die to myself that I might live
No longer my own life,
But the Life of Christ in me.

Sanctifying Gift of God,
You are constantly coming
Into the innermost depths of my being:
In ever new and more wondrous ways,
Inebriate me again in Your Love!

Breath of God who sweeps over Creation,
Your presence transforms the heart into paradise
And you constantly fill our inner poverty
With such inexhaustible riches.
Even more, You never cease
To allure us out of self-occupation
And into that sacred silence
Where the Word, who makes all things new, resounds:
As You enter ever deeper into my misery,
Lead me deeper and deeper into the heart of Divine Mercy.

Fire of Love,
Ignite holy affections in the deep places of my heart
that I might never be indifferent to the plight of my neighbor
Or fail to seek forgiveness from those I have wronged,
Or delay in offering forgiveness for those debts I can relieve.
Left to myself, I do not have the power
To forgive or forget an offense,
And in the effort to love as I have been loved,
I feel my weakness and inadequacy all the time.
But you constantly teach me compassion and intercession:
Help me submit my brokenness and sorrow to you.

You who covered the Son with transfiguring brightness,
Illumine our darkness with the radiance of Christ,
In the midst of crisis, help us overcome anxiety and insobriety,
In the midst of disaster, free us from all despondency and sinful anger,
That all those who suffer and are burdened might keep their eyes fixed
On the One who has triumphed over sin and death,
Who alone can lead us to the victory of good over evil.

You who overshadowed the Virgin Mary:
Pierce me with the love of the Father revealed by Christ Crucified,
Lift up my heart with the praise of the Only Begotten Son
In whom the Father is well-pleased,
Enflame me with the prayers of the Risen Lord in bold confidence
For the salvation of the world!

Most High and Glorious God,
I promise to be obedient, teachable, surrendered, and abandoned
In everything you permit to happen to me:
Only let me know your holy and true will.

Amen.

Written by - thoelogy teacher.
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