Wednesday, October 31, 2012

All Hallows Eve - An Icon of How Faith and Culture Meet and Clash

This article has been posted on Catholic.Org
Some folks from last year's All Saints Partay

Tonight, many of the youth of my parish will be attending an All Hallows Eve, or Halloween, party.  They will be dressing up as different saints and I am sure that we will all have to try to guess who is who.  Last year one kid showed up with arrows sticking out of his chest like St Sebastian and another had an ax sticking out of the crown of his head like St Boniface.  Others were dressed donned with armor and sword like St Joan of Arc or holding a papal crozier like Blessed Pope John Paul II.  Yet for most of their contemporaries it is a night that has its origins in the pagan druid feast day that commemorated the Celtic new year, when they would dress up like gouls and banshees asking for sweets and treats to placate the lord of death and evil spirits, and have lots of bright and shiny jack-o-lanterns, which originally were a sign of a damned soul.
Pretty cheery - anybody for trick or treating?  The statistics for kids getting ran over by cars is doubled tonight more than any other night of the year.  Even more enthused?  Don't get me wrong.  Some of my happiest memories are from knocking on doors when I was a kid to get free candy.  Loved it.  However, Halloween will always be one of the feasts of the year that is an icon of that clash between the Catholic Faith and culture.  That is how it started.
In Rome it was clear that it was not possible to commemorate every martyr because there were just too many of them.  So Pope Boniface IV in 609 or 610 consecrated the Roman Pantheon as the church of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of All Martyrs.  Then Pope Gregory III (731-741) began the celebration of the Feast of All Saints on November 1st to commemorate all those holy men and women who, although saints of God, were not officially recognized by canonization, followed by Pope Gregory IV (827-844) extending this to the whole Church.
In the evangelization of Celtic lands, the Feast of All Hallows Eve was from the beginning a way of trying to rid the aboriginal culture of the horrible practices that the pagans practiced such as human sacrifice and burning both animals and men alive.  It was an attempt to try to Christianize the culture.  Faith must always leaven culture, and if the Church's faithful are not making the world more Christian, you can be sure that the world will be making Christians more worldly.  Do not be afraid of Halloween.  It is a moment to truly enculturate the Gospel, making the witness of All Saints to bear on a neo-pagan culture.
Sadly to this day human sacrifices are still carried out by satanic worshipers and it would be a good thing for Catholics to make prayers of reparation for these terrible acts.  Such atrocities ought to call Catholics to stand up and take their faith seriously.  The Year of Faith was called for because many within the Church, seated in the pew, seem to not allow their faith to bear fruit in the way they live on a daily basis, let alone in the way they celebrate and feast.
In the Gospel for today, Jesus says that many will say, "'Lord open the door for us.'  He will say to you in reply, 'I do not know where you are from.'  And you will say, 'We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.'  Then he will say to you, 'I do not know where you are from.  Depart from me, all you evildoers!'"  The mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist is where we eat and drink in the company of the Lord.  How then would Jesus say that we are evil doers?  Clearly if we eat the Lord's Most Holy Sacrament in a state infected by mortal sin, we are, as St Paul tells us (1 Cor 11:27): "Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord."  Is this not Eucharistic ignorance also a blaring icon of Catholics who have let the world influence their faith rather than letting their faith influence the world?
Don't let your Catholic faith be like a Halloween mask.  Be real.  Your eternal salvation depends on it.  Jesus tells us right there in today's Gospel, "I do not know where you are from."  Not that he is ignorant of the thoughts and intentions of our hearts, but that when our hearts do not know Jesus Christ we cease to live in the knowledge of God and the glory of union with him, and we are cast out of his presence.
The Eucharist is the source, summit, and center of authentic Catholic culture.  The Second Vatican Council (Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World, 58) says: "The Gospel of Christ constantly renews the life and culture of fallen man, it combats and removes the errors and evils resulting from the permanent allurement of sin. It never eases to purify and elevate the morality of peoples. By riches coming from above, it makes fruitful, as it were from within, the spiritual qualities and traditions of every people of every age. It strengthens, perfects and restores them in Christ."
Jesus said in John 6:51, "the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the"…church choir?  folks sitting on the pew attending mass?  For what?  For the WORLD!  So obviously Jesus' sacred flesh, his Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, are given to Joe Lunchbox in the pew so that he can go out and transform the world with the same transformation which has ought to have happened by him receiving Jesus Christ in holy communion and being inspired and fired up with his Word.  This is how the Eucharist you celebrate must leaven Halloween.
The Church is not going to tell you how to do that.  Neither is God.  He is too happy to let you use the head that he gave you and the will that he gave you to let you figure out what way in your sphere of influence will change the pagan sacrifices to the Holy Sacrifice of Mass lived out by people on the street.
But since you might need a kick start, here are few suggestions:
1.  Have an All Saints party.
2.  Have masses and prayers said for reparations against the Holy Eucharist on All Hallows Eve.
3.  Don't be afraid to go trick or treating.  Don't be afraid of culture.  Claim it for Jesus Christ!  Just be real about your Catholic identity and your intentions and use the occasion to teach your children how to let their faith inspire culture.  Keeping in mind the first reading for today, "bring them up with the training and instruction of the Lord."
4.  Feast!  It is a feast not a fast.  Rejoice and enjoy the Catholic attitude of celebrating the supreme Love of God not just in the church, but at your dinner table and your way of living your faith at home.
5.  Blog.  Facebook.  Tweet.  Digg.  Whatever.  Preach the Gospel always and don't be afraid to preach it using words and associations the neo-pagan culture can understand.  Be careful of Halloween becoming an occasion where you become a "hater" using the media or some kind of weirdo who can't dialogue with a most people who simply see this as a time to have good clean fun.  Remember most people haven't a clue of Halloween's origins.  Show the attractive way of the Love of God.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Submit to One Another Out of Reverence for Christ: Obedience of Faith in Relationships

It is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in the garden.
When it was fully grown, it became a large bush
and the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches."
Listen to my homily for the day:

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Mass readings for the day

WOMAN, You are Set Free of Your Infirmity - Jesus Loves and Heals Women

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Readings for the day

When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said, "Woman, you are set free of your infirmity."  He laid his hands on her, and she at once stood up straight and glorified God.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Jesus Heals Us of the Blindness of Pride and Sin

Healing of Bartimaeus by Carl Bloch

Listen to my homily for the 30th Sunday of the Year:

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Jesus heals the blindness of pride and sin.  We cry out to him in our blinded state and beg him like Blind Bartimaeus, saying, "Jesus Son of David, have pity on me!"  When he hears us he calls us and gives us courage, heals us and then we are ready to truly follow the master, bringing others to be healed of their blindness as well.  Yet we remember that we always need him to continually heal us, for if we say we are not blind, how deeply blinded we are.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sts Chad and Cedd Lived Eucharistic Lives to Lead Others to God's Supreme Mercy

Listen to my homily on the feast of Sts Chad and Cedd:

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Readings for the day.

From EWTN library of the saints:

Cedd belonged to a family of brothers, and all six of them were chosen by King Oswald of Northumbria to be trained by St. Aidan to be monks and missionaries. This was in 635, when Aidan came from the monastery of Iona in Scotland to become bishop of King Oswald's kingdom. One of St. Cedd's brothers was St. Chad, who was the first bishop of York and then bishop of Lichfield. 
In 653, Peada, king of the Middle Angles, asked Aidan's successor at Lindisfarne for a bishop for his diocese, and St. Finan chose four monks from Lindisfarne to evangelize Peada's people. Later, the king of the East Saxons, whose chief city was London, also asked for a bishop, and Finan called Cedd to Lindisfarne and consecrated him bishop of London. 
Cedd founded three monasteries of his own, the best known being Lastingham, where he died of the plague in 664. St. Bede has a beautiful story of Cedd's founding of Lastingham: Cedd spent forty days in prayer and fasting in a remote spot given to him by King Ethelwald. 
In 664, Cedd was present at the Synod of Whitby and was a member of the Irish party, those wishing to retain the Irish date for Easter. But when the synod decided in favor of the Roman date, Cedd accepted the decision, not wanting to cause any further disunity in the English churches. 
After the Synod of Whitby, a plague struck England, and Cedd was among those who died from the plague. At the news of his death, thirty monks came from London to spend their lives where their founder had died. But they, too, caught the plague and were buried near the little chapel that had been erected in Cedd's memory. 
Cedd was the second bishop of the city of London; the first was Mellitus, who came with St. Augustine and later became archbishop of Canterbury. Mellitus was driven from the see by the king of the East Saxons in 616, and London was without a bishop until Cedd's arrival about 654. 
Thought for the Day: St. Cedd was trained by a saint and he himself trained others to holiness. A good teacher teaches mostly by what he is; and, if he is a good teacher, the things that are important to him become important to those he teaches. Good teachers fashion the souls of others by contact with their own soul.

The Eucharistic Heart of Christ Desires to Set the Whole World Ablaze with His Love

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Readings for the day

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Do Bishops Need a Year of Faith?

This homily was originally published at Catholic Online

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"Be not afraid!  Trust Jesus."  This is what Archbishop Harry Flynn told me before I began to confess my sins to him in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  I had been away from the Catholic Church for five years, and so I was a bit frightened to come back.  After I went through six pages of sins scribbled on sheets of paper attempting to confess my sins in kind and number, with tears in my eyes I looked up to see him mingling tears with me.  After giving me a penance and listening to my act of contrition, he held out his arms and embraced me.  For me, this was the embrace of God the Father made present on earth, and his prodigal son had come home.
I was very moved when he asked me if I would like to become a priest after hearing my confession.  "Yes!" I joyfully responded, although I had been discerning this for a while, I hadn't yet taken the final plunge.  Within a few hours, I began the entrance dialogue with the vocation director, and well, I think you can tell what happened after that.
A bishop shares in the fullness of the priesthood of Jesus Christ.  We believe that each priest acts in persona Christi, but bishops in a deeper way are "in loco Dei Patris, the place of God the Father" (Bl Pope John Paul II's exhortation on Bishops, Pastores Gregis, 34).  This is what each bishop ought to remind us of, the embrace of God the Father, his provident care for his people, his gentle fatherly direction and correction, his tenacious and protective watch over his children, and above all, his supreme fatherly love.

In the readings for today's Mass, speaking of the servants in charge of his household while he is away, Jesus tells us, "Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more."  And St Paul in the first reading, speaking of those who are chosen to preach the Gospel, says, "
I became a minister by the gift of God's gracethat was granted me in accord with the exercise of his power."  These of course can be applied to bishops in a preeminent way.
Do bishops need a year of faith?
They have such a lofty calling, one that is not easily fulfilled, not without much prayer and suffering on their part and the part of the faithful.  Let us make a commitment to pray for our shepherds, who are beset on our age by many fears, temptations, foes, and battles.
The Second Vatican Council says: "The bishops themselves, however, having been appointed by the Holy Spirit, are successors of the Apostles as pastors of souls. Together with the supreme pontiff and under his authority they are sent to continue throughout the ages the work of Christ, the eternal pastor" (Decree on Bishops, 2).
In this Year of Faith, we ought to have a special commitment not only to understand the role of bishop in the Church, since we believe that it is God the Father's way of caring for us.  There are two dimensions that the mystery of faith brings out in the faithful with regard to the bishops:
1.  We need to see in them the work of God the Father, to govern, teach, and sanctify the Church.  We should therefore have particular reverence for their authority, and understand that part of our baptismal sonship of God the Father is lived out in an incarnate way as filiation to the bishops' authority in the Church.
2.  We need to see that only God the Father is worthy of the name "Father" (Mt 23:9) and that bishops share in this title only in a sacramental, or significatory way.  By this I mean that we ought not lose our faith when we see a bishop not living out his vocation to the fullest to represent God, and that every father on earth is merely a substitute for the real and eternal Father, who is the only one with no father, no origin, but is the Alpha and Omega of all things.
The grave responsibility placed on bishops is spoken of in the readings for today.  "That servant who knew his master's will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely."
The antithesis of these two attitudes of faith in the Church are on one hand the disregard for the authority of the bishops, but on the other hand, too many people lose their faith when they see bishops not living out their vocation.  

Bishops need a year of faith to strengthen their vocation in an environment of secularism and moral relativism.  It seems that bishops can be tempted by two different ways of escaping the trials that face them.  On one hand it is easy to become a bureaucrat, building up a fortress against legal suits and secular culture.  On the other hand the temptation to water down the faith, and not adhere to the law of the Church with regard to teaching the faithful the fullness of truth, following the rubrics of the sacred liturgy, and even the observance of ecclesiastical governance.
Pope Benedict was told by the Archbishop of Dublin, after facing the sex abuse scandal in Ireland, the cause of such pastoral negligence.  "The prevailing mentality was that the Church must not be a Church of laws but, rather, a Church of love; she must not punish. Thus the awareness that punishment can be an act of love ceased to exist. This led to an odd darkening of the mind, even in very good people." (Pope Benedict XVI, Light Of The World, Kindle Locations 470-472)
Bishops are called to be good shepherds, upholding canon law, but doing so in the great love of God the Father, a love which one may find if you read in between the lines of canon law itself and its regard for the salvation of souls.
What can the faithful do?
1.  Pray for your bishops.
2.  Treat them with the reverence that their office is due.
3.  Pray for your bishops.
4.  Don't be upset or afraid when you don't see them living their vocation.  Pray for your bishops.
5.  Pray for your bishops
6.  Seek to collaborate with them in the way that is in keeping with your state in life.  If you are a priest you are his fellow worker.  If you are a single person you should know his pastoral plan for the local Church and live it out.  If you are a family, live your vocation.  All these things are of great help to your bishop.
7.  Pray for your bishops.
8.  Be holy.  Sanctity is what bishops want to see among the faithful.  Fidelity to the Church gives their hearts strength. 
9.  Pray for your bishops.
10.  Live out your filial calling in baptism by filiating yourself to the bishops - simply treat them as fathers in the One Father, and follow their direction with a childlike trust and the obedience of faith.
St Anthony Mary Claret, whose memorial we celebrate today sets the bar quite high for sanctity among bishops, "For myself, I say this to you: The man who burns with the fire of divine love is a son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and wherever he goes, he enkindles that flame; he deserves and works with all this strength to inflame all men with the fire of God's love. Nothing deters him: he rejoices in poverty; he labors strenuously; he welcomes hardships; he laughs off false accusations; he rejoices in anguish. He thinks only of how he might follow Jesus Christ and imitate him by his prayers, his labors, his sufferings, and by caring always and only for the glory of God and the salvation of souls" -from the Office of Readings for his feast.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Reading the Documents of Vatican II for the Year of Faith

The Second Vatican Council documents still go unread.  So many have spoken about the "spirit Vatican II," but few have actually read the documents and perpetuate the misinterpretation of the Council or cast a shadow on them as if they were some kind of break from the living Magisterium of the Church.

Have you read them?

Why not?

At our parish in Hythe, Kent, UK, every Thursday evening at 7pm, we will be reading through the documents of Vatican II.  Maybe you should get a group together and do the same.

I'll never forget the first time I read them.  It was in our Latin class.  That's right.  I read them in their original language, ecclesiastical Latin.  It is some of the most exquisite and poetic Latin you can read.  The documents are actually a beautiful prayer, bringing forth a Church reform to enable the modern world to accept the message of Jesus Christ with all of its vigor and rigor.

It is therefore quite sad when people misuse and misquote the Council to benefit their own ends, which may not be in keeping with the desires of the Council fathers.  It is important to read the documents in the "hermaneutic of continuity," which means that we read them in the hermeneutic, or interpretive principle, of the context of all the other Councils and Pope's statements.

Blessed Pope John Paul II wrote as a Cardinal in his book, Sources of Renewal, that in the Council of our age one can find all the other previous councils compenetrated and vice versa.  He said the principle of interpretation and implementation of Vatican II must be "the enrichment of faith" contrasted with "the crisis of faith as the documents of Vatican II themselves recognize."

I encourage everyone to find some friends and read the documents together, or if you can't do that, at least read them yourselves.  You will be glad you did.

May Our Lady, Mother of the Church, help bring forth a harvest of faith in this year of faith, especially in the devout rereading of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Documents of Vatican II.

The Charity of Christ Keeps us Vigilant, Focussed, and Serves to Make us Holy

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The holy charity of Jesus Christ is what heals a divided heart, subduing our passions, strengthening our wills, allaying our fears, enlightening our minds, lightening our spirits, balancing our personalities, and making us holy.

We have great need of drinking of his charity at each Eucharistic Sacrifice, where it is made truly present on the altar.  The Holy Eucharist is where we learn to be vigilant and virginally hearted in expectation for with joyful hope at his coming in communion.

May Our Lady helps us to fix our gaze on the face of the Lord, and be undeterred in growing in charity and holiness in his sight.

Monday, October 15, 2012

St Teresa of Avila's Life Shows We All Gotta Eat a Little Crow for God Sometimes

St Teresa of Avila, a real mujer fuerte, a strong woman, teaches us that we will have to suffer a bit for the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.

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Surely it is not evil to ask God for a sign that he loves us.  Most certainly he will somehow direct our gaze to the Cross, the sign of Jonah, by which every other sign is measured, from which all signs derive their meaning and power.  The Most Holy Eucharist is the Sign of signs because it is the only Sign that contains also the signifier, God himself.

When we look at the Cross we see what Jesus means too by an evil sign, for it was as he hung upon the Cross that the pharisees asked him for a wicked sign: "If you are the Son of God, come down from the Cross!"(Mark 15:30).  As Jesus is crucified in our lives, in our pains, in our sufferings, yes harsh as it may sound, it is a wicked thing to test God and say, "If you are God remove this Cross from me, or I will stop believing in you."  As if the Gospel meant you would be rich, famous, healthy, sleek and sheik, with no sufferings at all?!  It is the devil who seeks to empty the Cross of its power.  When St Peter, the prince of the apostles, said to Jesus that he must not suffer, Jesus said to him, "Get behind me satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do." (Matthew 16:23)

What then do we do?  We seek to find the sign of God among us AMIDST our sufferings, knowing that everything we have gone through Jesus personally and intimately associated himself with on the Cross.  Yet it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured, While we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted.
"But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, Upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed." (Isaiah 53:4-5)
 He knows our sufferings from the inside out and this is more meaningful to us, because it means that our fears and failings, our sins and weakness, our pain, our humanity, are known to God.  WE ARE NOT ALONE!  This is our resurrection and alleluia, not the removal of our sufferings, but their sanctification and signification.

St Teresa of Avila was closely related with sufferings.  Anyone who is close to Jesus suffers as he does.  Love suffers.  Anyone who loves suffers in love.  And this is why we are able to suffer nobly.  St Teresa of Avila shows us that everybody's gotta eat crow.  We all have to eat humble pie, we all have to go through the stink of life to discover its beauty.

May the prayers of St Teresa of Avila, Mary the Mother of God, help us to find the Sign of the Cross within our own lives that we may be sanctified and saved.

The Reign of Christ Overthrows the Dictatorship of Relativism: SUNDAY HOMILY

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things yet unseen. (Hebrews 11:1)

Mass readings for the 28th Sunday

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The following excerpt is taken from Pope Benedict XVI's book, Light of the World: The Pope, The Church and The Signs Of The Times. A Conversation with Peter Seewald (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 50-54.

In his futuristic novel Brave New World, the British author Aldous Huxley had predicted in 1932 that falsification would be the decisive element of modernity. In a false reality with its false truth – or the absence of truth altogether – nothing, in the final analysis, is important any more.There is no truth, there is no standpoint. Today, in fact, truth is regarded as far too subjective a concept for us to find therein a universally valid standard. The distinction between genuine and fake seems to have been abolished. Everything is to some extent negotiable. Is that the relativism against which you were warning so urgently?

It is obvious that the concept of truth has become suspect. Of course it is correct that it has been much abused. Intolerance and cruelty have occurred in the name of truth. To that extent people are afraid when someone says, "This is the truth", or even "I have the truth." We never have it; at best it has us. No one will dispute that one must be careful and cautious in claiming the truth. But simply to dismiss it as unattainable is really destructive.

A large proportion of contemporary philosophies, in fact, consist of saying that man is not capable of truth. But viewed in that way, man would not be capable of ethical values, either. Then he would have no standards. Then he would only have to consider how he arranged things reasonably for himself, and then at any rate the opinion of the majority would be the only criterion that counted. History, however, has sufficiently demonstrated how destructive majorities can be, for instance, in systems such as Nazism and Marxism, all of which also stood against truth in particular.

"We are building a dictatorship of relativism", you declared in your homily at the opening of the conclave [in 2005], "that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate standard consists solely of one's own ego and desires."

That is why we must have the courage to dare to say: Yes, man must seek the truth; he is capable of truth. It goes without saying that truth requires criteria for verification and falsification. It must always be accompanied by tolerance, also. But then truth also points out to us those constant values which have made mankind great. That is why the humility to recognize the truth and to accept it as a standard has to be relearned and practiced again.

The truth comes to rule, not through violence, but rather through its own power; this is the central theme of John's Gospel: When brought before Pilate, Jesus professes that he himself is The Truth and the witness to the truth. He does not defend the truth with legions but rather makes it visible through his Passion and thereby also implements it.

In a world that has become relativistic, a new paganism has gained more and more dominion over people's thoughts and actions. It has long since become clear not only that there is a blank space, a vacuum, alongside the Church, but also that something like an anti-church has been established. The Pope in Rome, one German newspaper wrote, should be condemned for the sole reason that by his positions he has "transgressed against the religion" that today "is valid in this country", namely, the "civil religion". Has a new Kulturkampf started here, as Marcello Pera has analyzed it? The former president of the Italian Senate speaks about a "large-scale battle of secularism against Christianity".

A new intolerance is spreading, that is quite obvious. There are well-established standards of thinking that are supposed to be imposed on everyone. These are then announced in terms of so-called "negative tolerance". For instance, when people say that for the sake of negative tolerance [i.e. "not offending anyone"] there must be no crucifix in public buildings. With that we are basically experiencing the abolition of tolerance, for it means, after all, that religion, that the Christian faith is no longer allowed to express itself visibly.

When, for example, in the name of non-discrimination, people try to force the Catholic Church to change her position on homosexuality or the ordination of women, then that means that she is no longer allowed to live out her own identity and that, instead, an abstract, negative religion is being made into a tyrannical standard that everyone must follow. That is then seemingly freedom – for the sole reason that it is liberation from the previous situation.

In reality, however, this development increasingly leads to an intolerant claim of a new religion, which pretends to be generally valid because it is reasonable, indeed, because it is reason itself, which knows all and, therefore, defines the frame of reference that is now supposed to apply to everyone.

In the name of tolerance, tolerance is being abolished; this is a real threat we face. The danger is that reason – so-called Western reason – claims that it has now really recognized what is right and thus makes a claim to totality that is inimical to freedom. I believe that we must very emphatically delineate this danger. No one is forced to be a Christian. But no one should be forced to live according to the "new religion" as though it alone were definitive and obligatory for all mankind.

The aggressiveness with which this new religion appears was described by the weekly news magazine Der Spiegel as a "crusade of the atheists". It is a crusade that mocks Christianity as the "God delusion" and classifies religion as a curse that is also to blame for all wars. You yourself have already spoken about a "subtle or even not so subtle aggression against the Church". Even without a totalitarian regime, you say that there is pressure today to think the way everybody thinks, that attacks against the Church show "how this conformity can really be a genuine dictatorship". Harsh words.

But the reality is in fact such that certain forms of behavior and thinking are being presented as the only reasonable ones and, therefore, as the only appropriately human ones. Christianity finds itself exposed now to an intolerant pressure that at first ridicules it – as belonging to a perverse, false way of thinking – and then tries to deprive it of breathing space in the name of an ostensible rationality.

It is very important for us to oppose such a claim of absoluteness conceived as a certain sort of "rationality". Indeed, this is not pure reason itself but rather the restriction of reason to what can be known scientifically – and at the same time the exclusion of all that goes beyond it. Of course it is true that historically there have been wars because of religion, too, that religion has also led to violence. . . .

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Blessed John Cardinal Newman: The Church Sits at the Feet of Christ Like Mary so that She Can Tend the Human Needs of Christ Like Martha

Today is the feast of Blessed John Cardinal Newman.

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Mass Readings for the Day: Martha and Mary

Blessed Cardinal Newman talks about Martha and Mary in his parochial and plain sermons (Sermon 22, The Good Part of Mary):
There remain two classes of Christians;—those who are like Martha, those like Mary; and both of them glorify Him in their own line, whether of labour or of quiet, in either case proving themselves to be not their own, but bought with a price, set on obeying, and constant in obeying His will. If they labour, it is for His sake; and if they adore, it is still from love of Him.
He doesn't say that Martha's part is wrong, but actually quite necessary, to look after the human needs of Christ takes a sensitive and obedient heart, willing to work hard and to be able to bend to whatever Christ is needing.  This means both the temporal care of the mystical body of Christ, the Church, but also the needs of the poor and the sick, in whom Christ said he waits as in disguise to receive our service.

He says rather that Mary's part is to be tended to by Christ, to sit at his feet, to hang upon his Word, to adore and worship him.  This is the very heart of the what it means to be the Church.  Without this part, the other part would loose its sensitivity and capacity to care for his human needs.

This part of Mary reveals to us our sublime vocation: to be loved by Jesus Christ.  Blessed Cardinal Newman has a beautiful Prayer on Life's Vocation which reveals that each person has a unique and unrepeatable mission, one which is not given to any other except us:
God has created me to do him some definite service
He has committed some work to me, 
which He has not committed to another. 
I have a mission. 
I am a link in a chain, 
a bond of connection between persons.
St Paul discusses this in the first reading for today:
But when he, who from my mother's womb had set me apart
and called me through his grace,
was pleased to reveal his Son to me,
so that I might proclaim him to the Gentiles.
We are all called to be loved by Jesus Christ.  The place this happens is in the mystery of the Holy Eucharist, where Jesus gives us his all that we might give him our all.

May the prayers of Blessed Cardinal Newman, of Our Lady, and of all the saints help us to answer our calling to sit at the master's feet so that we might tend to his needs.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Rosary Helps Us See the Face of the Father through All the Joys, Sorrows, Lights and Glories of Life

Picture taken from the
Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you,
but rejoice because your names are written in heaven."

Listen to my homily for the day.

If you have trouble listening, click here.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

St Francis, the Joyful Poor Little One of God, Show us How to Adore and Worship the Creator

O God, by whose gift Saint Francis was conformed to Christ in poverty and humility, grant that, by walking in Francis' footsteps, we may follow your Son, and, through joyful charity, come to be united with you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Listen to my homily on the feast of St Francis:

If you have trouble listening, click here.

Read about the Seraphic Father Francis

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Let the Dead Burry their Dead: Follow Christ First and Let Him Arrange All Things After

Pic taken from the
"Let the dead bury their dead."

Listen to my homily for today:

If you have trouble listening, click here.

This is one of those gospel passages Christian sectarians just love to take out of context.  I assume the cemetery with the hands and feet that have been cut off because it caused them to sin and the spare tunic emporium, and hatred for your mother is nearby as well - the other scriptures taken out of context.  What Jesus means is that nothing, nothing at all, ought to be before following him.  Especially if we understand that Jesus Christ is the same God and Lord that the first reading reveals to be all-holy, all-perfect, all-just, almighty, whose ways are inscrutable and decrees unalterable.  He is God.  Put him first, then everything second.  If you do this, then you will know how to mourn in a Christian way, how to follow Christ with a holy impatience, not tolerating anything in your heart to find its way into that priority that only the worship and adoration of God should have.

Monday, October 1, 2012

St Thérèse, Doctor for our Times, Helps Heal the Unloved Souls

Today is the Feast of St Thérèse, Virgin and Doctor of the Church.

Listen to my homily for today:

If you have trouble listening click here.

The terrible wound of people of our times is that they feel so desperately unloved and experience themselves as unlovable.  So what does God do?  He sends us a doctor of the Church.  This little saint, who died when she was only 24, is anything but small in the great Love of God.  Her simple doctrine can help souls understand the supreme Love of God the Father for them personally, tenderly, and infinitely.  Here are three parts to her little way:

Littleness - to be little in the eyes of God and do little things with great love.

Sacrifice - to fight self-will and self-preoccupation by offering tiny sacrifices all day, especially smiling at others you find difficult to smile at.

Abandonement to God's Love - to take whatever Jesus gives and give whatever he takes.