Thursday, April 28, 2016

Defending the faith in charity

My favourite Catholic evangelist is Matt Fradd. I'd listened to a number of his talks about purity and also defending Catholic teachings. 

I like the way he uses humour and personal stories to illustrate his points. It wasn't until recently that I realised that he prefers the Traditional Latin Mass. 

This debate below is a wonderful example of how we can debate with other people in a loving but powerful way. Matt Fradd is speaking with a former Catholic, Baptist Pastor.

My favourite quotations include:

"I would call it a deformation not reformation."

"You were taught using the Baltimore Catechism? Good! I teach my children from the same catechism."

"There's a lot of misunderstanding about Vatican II ... Latin should have pride of place ... it's not that the priest had his back to the people but was praying with the people."

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Openness to life

Having just witnessed the birth of our little girl - Cecilia - I am reflecting once again on the gift of life and the privilege of parenthood. 

When my fiancĂ©e and I were preparing for marriage, she belonged to an evangelical charismatic Christian community before entering the Catholic Church and so we had marriage preparation from both them and the Catholic Church.  

Something that struck us both is that the advice, teaching and preparation that both gave us was that we must be open to life. Catholics - and other Christians - do a great disservice to Truth when we focus on a no to contaception rather than a big yes to life and the joy that children bring to this world. 

Beautiful Papal encyclicals on the family include Casti connubii, Humanae Vitae and Veritatis Splendor. Beyond the headlines are themes of a big yes to marriage and the blessing of children. 

When we have opportunities to speak on the truth of marriage and the family let's focus on the great blessing that God brings through marriage, family and openness to life. 

In the meantime please say a quick prayer for baby Cecilia and her rather mischievous big brother Joseph who will be getting used to a new life too. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Pray for England

On Saint George's a Day could we all spare a moment to pray for England that she may once again love Christ and His Church?
"O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother, look down in mercy upon England, Thy Dowry, and upon all of us who greatly hope and trust in Thee.

By Thee it was that Jesus, our Saviour and our hope was given unto the world; and He has given Thee to us that we might hope still more.

Plead for us Thy children whom Thou did receive and accept at the foot of the Cross O sorrowful Mother. Intercede for our separated brethren that in the one true fold we may all be united under the chief shepherd of Christ's flock, and that by faith and fruitful in good works we may all deserve to see and praise God together with Thee in our heavenly home.

- Cardinal Wiseman 1802-1865 (Archbishop of Westminster)

Saint George and the English Martyrs - pray for England.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Flee from the wolves in sheep's clothing

"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves." - Matthew 7:15

God is a God of mercy. 

Christ, ever merciful gave us sacraments of mercy - Baptism and afterwards the sacrament of Penance for those in mortal sin and the Eucharist for those in a state of grace. 

The consistent teaching of the Church is that Catholics may only receive the Holy Eucharist if we are Catholic, have fasted and are in a state of grace. 

Both tradition and scriptures clearly teach that receiving when not in a state of grace is blasphemy and will bring, not eternal life but condemnation. 

Amoris Laetitiae must be read as consistent with Catholic teaching and so when His Holiness says that those in irregular situations must be welcomed and receive the sacraments he must be referring to Confession (with a firm purpose of amendment) followed by reception of the Eucharist later if in a state of grace. 

If anyone - whether layman, priest or bishop neglects their obligation and mission to uphold and teach the Catholic Faith then they are wolves whose actions could bring to Hell not only themselves but as many others as possible. 

Emasculated bishops and priests who are not man enough to call themselves and others to holiness may think they're being pastoral but there is nothing pastoral about leading souls away from salvation. Flee from the wolves! There is  no accompanying anyone in Hell. 

Vatican II makes it very clear that the call to holiness is universal. It is not surprising that some bishops and priests who have lost the faith may join the enemy whispering into your ear. "You're not good enough. You cannot change. That would be far too difficult for you."  Christ says instead, to all of us, "My grace is enough." We are called to cooperate with that grace and make a firm purpose of amendment. 

I am privileged to be friends with a number of people who are not able to get married due to their state in life. Some describe themselves as gay, others are divorced - sometimes because of abandonment. They are faithful to Christ and His Church, avoid sinful relationships and inspire me by their lives of grace. 

If anyone is reading this is in an irregular marital situation, then my advice to you would be that which I would give you in person:

"You are loved by God and He wants to welcome you back.  Repent, receive absolution and return to a life of grace. God loves all of us - He loves us all so much He wants us to change and by His grace, enter into eternal life." 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Lent in the year of mercy

It strikes me that rather than an overly complicated plan for Lent, the most simply way of living this time of preparation for Easter are: fast - be merciful and be joyful.  

It is good to fast each day - not to give up eating but to considerably reduce this. Be conscious about small acts of denial to self and replace them with prayer. 

Be merciful - especially in the Year of Mercy - let's be more conscious about living the corporate and spiritual works of mercy. How can we be kind to others?

Be joyful - Lent is a time of looking forward to Easter - a time of self-denial but also a time to look forward in hope. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Synod on the Family

In October this year the Synod on the family will take place.
The participants - some of whom seem determined to undermine marriage and the family - will all hear the following words of the Gospel proclaimed at Mass on 4th October:  

"Some Pharisees approached Jesus and asked, ‘Is it against the law for a man to divorce his wife?’ They were testing him. He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ ‘Moses allowed us’ they said ‘to draw up a writ of dismissal and so to divorce.’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘It was because you were so unteachable that he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. This is why a man must leave father and mother, and the two become one body. They are no longer two, therefore, but one body. So then, what God has united, man must not divide.’ Back in the house the disciples questioned him again about this, and he said to them, ‘The man who divorces his wife and marries another is guilty of adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another she is guilty of adultery too.’"

Isn't the Holy Spirit amazing?

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Communion of Saints

I've always been Catholic but rarely any good at it. Acknowledging the faith - giving intellectual assent - comes easy to me but believing in it, that is, actually living it, has often eluded me. 

The Communion of Saints is a good example of something that I've always believed but rarely practised (apart from the rosary and formal prayers to saints).

I've probably spent more time arguing that it's OK to ask the saints to pray for us than actually doing so. 

This changed in October 2007. I had booked a holiday in Venice in Italy - I was meant to go with someone else but due to circumstances I ended up going alone. This was one of the most difficult periods of my life. 

The beauty of the City captivated me - it gave me a sense of deep lonliness and yet deep joy. I was in the Piazza San Marco, all alone on my birthday and looked ahead to the Basilica of Saint Mark. 
I looked up and felt called to ask Saint Mark to pray for me.  I then had a sense of peace and an awareness of what he had suffered to bring the Gospel to others. This gave me courage. 

Later during that trip, visiting the beautiful church named Santa Maria della Salute, I looked up before entering and asked our Mother to pray for me and to give me health.  

When I walked inside, I prayed asking each of the saints to pray with and for me.  Inside I found a painting which I guessed was Saint Mark - I also recognised Saint Sebastian and asked him to pray for me. 

I had no idea who the other saints were but asked them to pray for me too. Little did I know that one of them was my patron, Saint Damian*, along with others. I then later walked through streets named after saints and again asked their intercession. 

My experience of the Communion of saints at one of the toughest times in my life gave me a great sense of not being alone but part of something bigger than myself. It was an insight into how amazing it is to be Catholic - part of something truly universal - the Church Militant that exists on earth, the Church Suffering in purgatory - those being cleansed for eternity and the Church Triumphant - those saints in heaven itself. 

*St Damian is actually my patron saint's patron saint but I'll take as many prayers as I can get.