"Christ lives, he has overcome death, he has overcome all these powers. We live in this certainty, in this freedom, and in this joy." (Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, 12 XI 2008)
"Do not accept anything as the truth if it lacks love. And do not accept anything as love which lacks the truth! One without the other becomes a destructive lie." (Blessed John Paul II, Canonisation of Edith Stein, 11 X 1998)

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

LISTEN (a Biblical meditation)

In 2007 I attended a retreat day with some religious brothers from the Taize community in France. The community is an ecumenical Christian community who witness to the faith. Each year around 100,000 young people go to Taize. The brothers mostly just listen to the young people. Many of you will also be familiar with the popular Taize songs. These are simple, repetitive chants which are very meditative. These songs also encourage a deep meditation and listening to God.

I would like to share with you the importance of listening to God as shared by one of the brothers. This is done through reference to various passages of Scripture.

The first passage is know as Shema Yisrael. This is the centrepiece of Jewish morning and evening prayer services. This prayer is found in the book of Deuteronomy 6:4 “Listen, Israel: The LORD is our God. The LORD is the only God.” As we can see, the first word is “Listen.” This is the beginning and end of prayer - to be open to listening attentively.

This is  again highlighted in the story of God calling out to Samuel. Samuel is asleep and hears a voice calling in the night. Samuel assumes it is Eli calling him and he runs to wake up Eli and ask him what he wants. Eli tells him that he did not call him and instructs Samuel to return to sleep. This happens a second and a third time. On the third occasion Eli realises that it is God calling Samuel (who was sleeping in the room containing the Ark of the Covenant) and instructs him as follows- “Go lie down," Eli told Samuel. "When he calls you, say, 'Speak, LORD. I'm listening.'" (1Sam 3:9).
Samuel does as instructed and the Lord instructs him.

We now see the same theme appearing in the New Testament. At the baptism of Jesus: A voice came out of the cloud and said, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen. Listen to him!" (Luke 9:35)

And when one of the scribes ask Jesus which is the most important commandment what is the first word Jesus says?
“Jesus answered, "The most important is, 'Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. “ (Mar 12:29). Listen.

Sometimes when we pray we are so busy listing our petitions that we don’t wait for the answer. We don’t join with Samuel in saying “Speak Lord, Your servant is listening.” We need to spend time in the School of Silence in the presence of the Lord and listen to wait he moves our hearts towards. Let us pray that we can find the time, courage, and patience to do so.

“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

Sunday, 26 September 2010

40 Days for Life London


This morning we joined the prayer vigil being held outside “Marie Stopes House” close to Warren Street station in London. This has been based here since 1925. Of interest is that nowhere do they mention abortion on the site. I had a peak at there most recent available financial report (for the financial year ending 31 December 2008) and the first item mentioned under significant activities is: “significantly expanding delivery of family planning services including prevention of unsafe abortions (providing the
equivalent of 592,715 safe abortions in 2008, an increase of 29% over 2007)”
There is no mention of how many abortions where provided in the UK, but as the cost of the procedure during the first 12 weeks of the baby’s life is around £510, you can be assured that this is a major portion of there income. This is typical of the abortion industries advertising techniques. They present themselves as offering a variety of services, but the cash cow is the abortion.
This is so sad. Marie Stopes was a racist eugenicist who saw birth control and abortion as a way of preventing “inferior races” from pro-creating, and she is celebrated! This is just wrong.
In her Radiant Motherhood (1920) she called for the "sterilisation of those totally unfit for parenthood [to] be made an immediate possibility, indeed made compulsory."
She contributed a chapter manifesto to The Control of Parenthood (1920), comprising a sort of manifesto for her circle of Eugenicists, arguing for a "utopia" to be achieved through "racial purification":
Those who are grown up in the present active generations, the matured and hardened, with all their weaknesses and flaws, cannot do very much, though they may do something with themselves. They can, however, study the conditions under which they came into being, discover where lie the chief sources of defect, and eliminate those sources of defect from the coming generation so as to remove from those who are still to be born the needless burdens the race has carried.” (Marie C. Stopes, "Racial and Imperial Aspects, (section) II", p. 207 et seq. (this quotation, see p. 208-09), in The Control of Parenthood, various authors, James Marchant, ed., 1920.)

Please join us in the 40 Days for life campaign. We need to pray for healing and pray that mothers will value the beauty of their vocation. Let’s make sure that the door to Mary Stopes and other providers stays closed (as in the picture below, taken today) and not open like in their logo.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

The Search (a meditation)

This is taken from Anthony De Mello's book The Song of the Bird:

The Little Fish

"Excuse me," said an ocean fish.
"You are older than I, so
can you tell me where to find
this thing they call the ocean?"

"The ocean," said the older fish, "is the thing
you are in now."

"Oh, this? But this is water. What I'm seeking 
is the ocean," said the disappointed fish
as he swam away to search elsewhere.

To further aid this meditation let us remember that when the references are made to "the Kingdom of God" in the Gospels the word used for “Kingdom” is not a noun. It is a verb! The Hebrew word is malkut; it means the active lordship of the king. We can say then that the Kingdom of God does not lie after death, but exists on earth when we allow Gods will to rule our lives (see Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI for more on this).

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Why the Pope's visit to Britain was a success

I would just like to share with you part of a commentary from CatholicCulture.org. It describes some of the deeper, unsaid, parts of the addresses B16, the bomber of Truth, and the Pope of Christian Unity made during his trip to the UK. These nuances are outstanding and really get you into the mind of the great man. My emphasis added:

Pope Benedict’s personal style is quiet and ingratiating. His evident humility, and the deference with which he treats others, make it impossible for the public to continue thinking of him as the media had portrayed him. The people of Great Britain did not see a stern, rigid ideologue. They saw a mild, self-deprecating man who treated them with respect—and, because he respected them, told them the truth. ...
Pope Benedict was gentle but relentless in challenging the basic ideas that sustained that distinctively Protestant imperial era. In his historic address at Westminster Hall—with every living former prime minister in attendance—the Pope suggested that St. Thomas More, who had been condemned to death in that same hall, was a model for Church-state relations. At Lambeth Palace, speaking to Anglican bishops with the Archbishop of Canterbury at his side, he proposed Blessed John Henry Newman as a model for ecumenical affairs. Now obviously if St. Thomas More was right, then King Henry was wrong to have him executed, and to break with the Holy See. If Cardinal Newman was right, then today’s Anglican prelates can make themselves right by entering the Catholic Church. The Pope did not draw out these conclusions, but his implications were inescapable.
Indeed, the impact of Pope Benedict’s message to Great Britain was heightened by the things he did not say—because he did not need to say them. In his address to Anglican prelates he did not focus on Anglicanorum Coetibus, with its bold invitation for Anglicans to enter into the Catholic Church. But surely that apostolic constitution was on the minds of the Anglican bishops who were listening as he spoke about the path to Christian unity. At Westminster Hall, when he praised the anti-slavery crusade led by William Wilberforce, he did not mention today’s battle to end abortion, but only a very dull politician would fail to notice the parallel. When he mentioned that Westminster Abbey is dedicated to St. Peter, he could rely on those who listened to realize that St. Peter’s successor was now in the building. And when he recalled the great heritage of British Christianity dating back to the times of St. Edward the Confessor and the Venerable Bede, it required very little imagination to notice that those happy days were before the split that gave rise to the Church of England.
Throughout the trip, Pope Benedict was quietly, humbly, but persistently staking a claim. He was not coming to Britain as a visitor from outside, hoping to be welcomed by the nation’s leaders. He was claiming, as St. Peter’s successor, to be the rightful moral leader of this old Christian society. He was inviting Britain to end its 400-year flirtation with Protestantism and reclaim its Catholic heritage. He was promising that a nation founded on the truths of the Catholic faith could be a prosperous, pluralistic, and successful modern society.
The Pope was making an astonishingly bold series of claims, really. He made them with disarming humility, so that his audiences did not take offense. Still the challenges were unmistakable. Now with the Pope back in Rome, a stunned British society has time to digest the papal message, to realize the implications of what he said, to sit up and think.

The full text is at: http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/articles.cfm?id=462

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Did you ever wonder: "Why am I here?"

We all wonder this at some point. When our lives don't have direction we tend to be more bothered by this question than when we are filled with purpose. But even given a purpose, if it is not an eternal one, the respite from the question is fleeting. So what is the purpose that drives our existence, that motivates us into acting in line with our eternal destiny?
"The human being is made for gift, which expresses and makes present his transcendent dimension." (35, Caritas in Veritate, Benedict XVI)
We are made to give, but also to receive (as was pointed out yesterday). But we need to understand that being motivated to act only in our own interest, in a selfish way that is only directed at receiving will never fulfil our needs, it will never complete us.So many of us are trying to get as much money or as many possessions as we can. We become driven for the next purchase or paycheck, always fooling ourselves that it will make us feel better... it goes without saying, and we all know, it never does. I heard a clip of Prince at a concert saying "Money won't buy you happiness, but it'll sure pay for the search." I hate to say it, but this is blatantly false. It can only pay the passage towards diversion. Anthony De Mello, SJ, gave a presentation where he used the quote "True happiness is not caused, it just is." We need to be able to  find the direction. We need to be able to give, to give of ourselves in sharing the suffering of others. Also, not forgetting, to be able to share their happiness also. This sharing of happiness can be difficult at times. The all too human traits of jealousy and envy poke their heads out at these times. We need to turn to God for the humility to be able to see everything we receive as gift and then share these gifts with others, at the same time as sharing in the joy of their gifts.
I will just end with another quote from the same passage in the encyclical:
"Sometimes modern man is wrongly convinced that he is the sole author of himself, his life and society. This is a presumption that follows from being selfishly closed in upon himself, and it is a consequence - to express it in faith terms - of original sin." (Ibid)
Let's pray for the humility to accept God's hand in our lives and be able to fulfil our true natures while we reach for the eternity of heaven.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Pope Benedict explaining real Love to the young people this past Saturday

18/09/2010 12:10 pm
Piazza, Westminster Cathedral, Saturday, 18 September 2010
Mr Uche, Dear young friends, thank you for your warm welcome.
Heart Speaks unto heart, as you know I chose these words so dear to Cardinal Newman as the theme of my visit. In these few moments that we are together I wish to speak to you from my own heart, and I ask to open your hearts to what I have to say.
I ask each of you first and foremost to look into your own heart, think of all the love that your heart was made to receive, and also love it is meant to give, after all we were made for love. This is what the Bible means when it says that we are made in the image and likeness of God. We were made to know the God of love, the God who is father, son and Holy Spirit, and to find our supreme fulfilment in that Divine love that knows no beginning or end.
We were made to receive love, and we have. Every day we should thank God for the love we have already known. For the love that has made us who we are. The love that is shown us what is truly important in life. We need to thank the Lord for the love we have received from our families, our friends, our teachers, and all those people in our lives who have helped us to realise how precious we are in their eyes, and in the eyes of God.
We were also made to give love, to make the inspirational for all we do, and the most enduring thing in our lives. At times it seems so natural, especially when we feel the exhilaration of love, when our hearts brim over with generosity, idealism, the desire to help others to build a better world -- but at other times, we realise it is difficult to love. Our hearts can easily be hardened by selfishness, envy and pride. The Blessed mother Theresa of Calcutta, the great missionary of charity reminded us that giving love, pure and generous love, is the fruit of a daily decision.
Every day we have to choose to love and this requires help. The help that comes from Christ, from the wisdom found in his word. And from the Grace which he bestows us in the sacraments of his church. This is the message I want to share with you today. I ask you to look into your hearts, each day, to find the source of all true love. Jesus is always there. Quietly waiting for us to be still with him and to hear his voice. Deep within your heart, he is calling you to spend time with him in prayer, but this kind of prayer, real prayer, requires discipline.
It requires time for moments of silence every day. Often it means waiting for the Lord to speak.
Even amidst the business and stress of our daily lives we need to make space for silence, because it is in silence that we find God. And in silence that we discover our true self.
And in discovering our true self we discover the particular vocation which God has given us for the building up of his church and the redemption of our world. Heart speaks unto heart. With these words from my heart, dear young friends, this is word’s from my heart.I assure you of my prayers for you.
That our lives will bear fruit of the cross, of the civilisation of the cross, I ask you to pray for me, for my Ministry as the successor of Peter, and for the needs of the church throughout the world. Upon you, your families and friends, I call on you God's blessing of wisdom, joy and peace.

Monday, 20 September 2010

The Pope is a big winner in Britain

A very nice snapshot article about the winners and losers of the trip appeared in this morning's edition of The Times. Here are some highlights:
The winners:
The Pope - Ratzinger the rottweiler transformed into Benny the bunny. We all want to cuddle up to him and get him to bless our babies.
Sex abuse victims - What an apology! Onwards and upwards for justice and recompense.
Chris Patten - He took over the planning when disaster beckoned, and along with HM Ambassador to the Holy See, Francis Cambell, rescued the visit and turned it into a triumph beyond anyone's wildest imaginings.
The losers:
Richard Dawkins - You're too angry, Richard. Get with the programme.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Thank You Jesus for this Memorial

The Holy Eucharist on the way to the faithful

Masses for the Mass at Cofton park

I saw the Pope and the sun came out

Cofton park heats up to greet him. Miraculous

Weather at Cofton park: rain

Pilgrims in the park

Early at Cofton Park

We are not alone. Heading to the Chapel

Waking up

My Beatification band

We got back home from Hyde Park just in time to be on our way to Birmingham (-: no rest for the pilgrims, lol. We left St Mary's Church at 2am and should arrive at Cofton park with plenty of time to prepare for Mass. For those of you who do not know why the Beatification Mass is in Birmingham- it is because Blessed John Henry Newman founded the Oratory there. What a great moment this is for the Church in England: celebrating the most famous convert from anglicanism to Catholicism. May the Catholic Church, under the Pope of Christian unity Benedict XVI, continue to invite and encourage people in their search for Truth. Jesus is "THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIGHT"

Saturday, 18 September 2010

The end

The Pope arrives at Hyde Park

View from Hyde Park as Pope sets off

The procession

Capturing the moment in Hyde Park

Aneta taking pics as we wait for the Pope

In Hyde Park :-)

Waiting for gates to open in hyde park

Can't wait to see the Pope

Our group going to Hyde Park

The Pilgrim Pass wristband

My hyde park ticket to see the Pope

Friday, 17 September 2010

Pope in London - Lambeth Palace, Westminster Palace and Westminster Abbey






This is the first time ever that a Pope has visited Lambeth Palace, Pope John Paul II having visited Archbishop Robert Runcie in Canterbury in 1982. The Pope left Lambeth Palace by Popemobile to make the short journey across Lambeth Bridge to Westminster Hall.






Papal Papers and Capers from today’s UK press

Just a quick run through some of the stories in today's papers. The coverage is generally balanced, even positive. Maybe it is just that my expectations were low.

The Times today reports on the Pope pausing to pucker up to a Polish baby, and then himself being the baby in the room (he was the youngest person in the room when he had an audience with the Queen and the Duke). They also highlighted how the B16 earned bonus points by catching his zucchetto when a "Protestant wind" blew it off, and then made it look like he did it on purpose as he held it to his chest during God Save the Queen. Other by-lines were "Rock concert with evangelism" for 65,000 and "Scots greet a leader from another world." At least they didn't use the dreaded "Third World" turn of phrase.

The Daily Telegraph reported on the gift given by His Holiness to the Queen. A beautiful copy of the Lorsch Gospels, an illuminated manuscript dating from 778-820 (although The Guardian says she accepted it as you would accept a pair of Christmas socks). Good coverage for the Pope telling it like it is: Child sex priests are sick. And in the letters section there is a good one from Mr Chris Sandilands- "How ironic that when a senior member of the Catholic Church says something correct and relevant to the 21st Century he is denounced." Also, Protestors were out with their placards blaming the Pope for the spread of AIDS in Africa (I think they need a biology lesson).

In today's Daily Mail they focussed on the conflict between the Pope and the secularists. On the Pope's side we see the "Danger of a Godless Society" where he "made it clear he would not be cowed by a militant secularist lobby determined to undermine his visit." Further, he urges that the UK "always maintain its respect for those traditional values that more aggressive forms of secularism no longer value or tolerate" comparing these secularists to Nazis. From the secularists we have Sally Bercow (wife of the Speaker of the House of Commons) saying that the BBC should rather show her parachuting for lesbian rights than cover the papal visit – she has promised not to land on the Pope. The paper also points out there was no red carpet for the Pontiff at the airport, although this was purely due to the wind.

Finally, in The Guardian we have this amusing anecdote: "Where would you like to sit?" [the Queen] said, pointing to the only 3 available chairs in the room, and they all three sat down, perhaps, as spiritual leaders do, averting their eyes from the painting installed by Charles II in the 1680's above the mantelpiece. It shows two buxom nudes climbing into the bath together. This, the Pope may have reflected, is how the British do things.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Do not be afraid (excerpt from Pope's Scottish homily)

...religion is in fact a guarantee of authentic liberty and respect, leading us to look upon every person as a brother or sister. For this reason I appeal in particular to you, the lay faithful, in accordance with your baptismal calling and mission, not only to be examples of faith in public, but also to put the case for the promotion of faith’s wisdom and vision in the public forum. Society today needs clear voices which propose our right to live, not in a jungle of self-destructive and arbitrary freedoms, but in a society which works for the true welfare of its citizens and offers them guidance and protection in the face of their weakness and fragility. Do not be afraid to take up this service to your brothers and sisters, and to the future of your beloved nation.

Pilgrims gather in Bellahouston Park

300,000 people gathered at Bellahouston Park to witness the first Papal visit to Scotland. 

It seems like big crowds came  today too!

The Gracious Queen welcomes B16

The Queen was most gracious in her welcome to Pope B16. The Queen shows her subjects the importance of religion to the culture and also the significant contribution the Church has made to society. When the people of Britain can follow this lead we can once again call her Great Britain :-)

Full text follows:
The Queen's Speech To Pope Benedict

16/09/2010 12:00 pm

Palace of Holyrood House, Edinburgh, Thursday, 16 September 2010

Your Holiness,

I am delighted to welcome you to the United Kingdom, and particularly to Scotland, on your first visit as Pope. I recall with great pleasure the memorable pastoral visit of the late Pope John Paul II to this country in 1982. I also have vivid memories of my four visits to the Vatican, and of meeting some of your predecessors on other occasions. I am most grateful to them for receiving, over the years, a number of members of my family with such warm hospitality.

Much has changed in the world during the nearly thirty years since Pope John Paul's visit. In this country, we deeply appreciate the involvement of the Holy See in the dramatic improvement in the situation in Northern Ireland. Elsewhere the fall of totalitarian regimes across central and eastern Europe has allowed greater freedom for hundreds of millions of people. The Holy See continues to have an important role in international issues, in support of peace and development and in addressing common problems like poverty and climate change.

Your Holiness, your presence here today reminds us of our common Christian heritage, and of the Christian contribution to the encouragement of world peace, and to the economic and social development of the less prosperous countries of the world. We are all aware of the special contribution of the Roman Catholic Church particularly in its ministry to the poorest and most deprived members of society, its care for the homeless and for the education provided by its extensive network of schools. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Religion has always been a crucial element in national identity and historical self-consciousness. This has made the relationship between the different faiths a fundamental factor in the necessary cooperation within and between nation states. It is, therefore, vital to encourage a greater mutual, and respectful understanding. We know from experience that through committed dialogue, old suspicions can be transcended and a greater mutual trust established.

I know that reconciliation was a central theme in the life of Cardinal John Henry Newman, for whom you will be holding a Mass of Beatification on Sunday. A man who struggled with doubt and uncertainty, his contribution to the understanding of Christianity continues to influence many. I am pleased that your visit will also provide an opportunity to deepen the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the established Church of England and the Church of Scotland.

Your Holiness, in recent times you have said that 'religions can never become vehicles of hatred, that never by invoking the name of God can evil and violence be justified'. Today, in this country, we stand united in that conviction. We hold that freedom to worship is at the core of our tolerant and democratic society.

On behalf of the people of the United Kingdom I wish you a most fruitful and memorable visit.

PAPAL VISIT IN THE PRESS


Pope Benedict XVI is in Britain from September 16-19, making the first Papal visit to the UK for 28 years. It is the first ever official Papal visit to the UK combining state-to-state discussions and related engagements as well as pastoral events being organized by the Catholic bishops' conferences of England, Wales and Scotland.

What makes the headlines in the British press today ???Cardinal Waler  Kasper’s remark about Britain as "Third World” with “a new and aggressive atheism”, sex abuse scandals, Richard Dawkins' protests and how much it costs British taxpayers … You look at the biggest newspapers and you see how much excited they are about the visit. The Independent (Irish newspaper group controlled by Tony O'Reilly) doesn’t even bother to mention that fact on the first pages. The Guardian (owned by Guardian Media Group (Scott Trust)  concentrated on the victims of sex abuse scandals. The Daily Telegraph (Telegraph Group (Barclay brothers)) wasn’t so negative today and even place a photo of a 9-year old cancer-battled schoolboy Anton McManus who wrote to ask for the Pope's blessing - telling him: "If anyone can help me God can”…. and they give “Our distinguished guest must be allowed to exercise it” – wow, what generosity! But of course they must reffered to another animosity against the Papal’s past:  “he is expected to recognize this by referring to the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, a gesture rendered all the more poignant by the fact that as a very young man he served, briefly and unwillingly, in Hitler's armed forces”. The best so far was “The Times” (News International owned by Rupert Murdoch). They prepared a 16-page souvenir of Papal visit but of course did not resist to refer to the “Third World” remark on the first page. To be read carefully though as it’s a mish mash of everything – an article by Edward Stourton portraying the Pope as countercultural, willing to mix in the political arena (why not?), pointing to the abuse scandals hence “Catholics are no longer willing to give their leaders the benefit of the doubt” (well, would they give it to any politician?)… and of course a reference to the BBC pool that says 63% of British Catholics think that women should have more authority and status in the Church (see the adverts encouraging Pope to ordain women priests). If I do my math correctly there are 6 million Catholics in Britain but only around 1.5 million are regular church goers (that’s 25%) … now, it all depends on who you ask … the lapsed Catholics or the most faithful … I am sure you will get different opinions.
Anyway, think whatever you want, I think it s a great chance for Britain … and as Lord Patten justly points out “ the world will be watching Britain for 4 days” … I guess its worth the price … they will get a bigger coverage for half the price of the 1 day G20 summit that took place last year .. at least more positive :-)

Oh, and by the way, I wonder how much money the Protestants spent (Council of the Protestant Truth Society) placing a giant advert in one of the leading newspapers “Should we welcome Pope?” taking Ephesians 2:8 out of context. Remember that "Faith without works is dead" (James 2:26).

Stay tuned to follow Pope live on : http://www.thepapalvisit.org.uk/webcast


Wednesday, 15 September 2010

What I did on Saturday: Il Bambina and Malta day UK 10

On this past Saturday we were lucky enough to attend the tenth annual Malta day UK which included a Mass in honour of the child Mary (Il Bambina) and concluded with a procession from Westminster Cathedral to the Chapel of the Sacred Heart. It was so beautiful to walk through the streets in the heart of Westminster showing our devotion to our Lady. Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols was at the Mass (in the Choir), and the Mass was celebrated by the Archbishop of Malta, Paul Cremona. An extraordinary event occurred as we were concluding the prayer after the procession - during the final prayer a rainbow appeared in the sky, a horizontal band in the middle of the sky. What a beautiful sign.
Il Bambina is the child Mary. The statue you see in the photos is a copy of one in the Parish Church in Xaghra which was brought from Marseilles in 1878.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols
Archbishop Paul Cremona
Il Bambina bringing some blessings to London
There were many festivities, including a brass band to accompany the procession, and the choir from Malta.
Traditional Maltese dress
Archbishop Paul with the choir

Ladies in traditional clothing
Proof I was there :-)
The Rainbow that appeared during Salve Regina

Weekly reflection from the Jesuit Institute

This is from the weekly newsletter of the Jesuit Institute in South Africa :-)


Quotation: “Humanity did not weave the web of life but is merely a strand in it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.” 
Attributed to Chief Seattle

Reflection: Even though we live in a concrete jungle and our bare feet seldom touch real earth, we travel by iron horse or silver bird in the sky, we are still intimately tied to our world.  We may have mastered some of forces that nature imposes on us.  But we cannot escape the web of life of which we form part. 

Acid mine drainage and water pollution are effects of humans ignoring the ties that bind us to the earth.  We pollute the world at our own peril and the peril of following generations.  God’s providential design, of which we are stewards, is that we be dependent on each other and on the life of species surrounding us. 

Prayer: Dear Lord, please keep me humble enough to know my small place in your creation.  Help me to heal the world where it is hurt, and so be part of your saving plan.
Amen.

Campaign to stop mother to child transmission of HIV

Let's steer the UN to start doing things that are positive and life affirming. Help now!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Stats on child abuse within the Church and UK Petition: Support the Pope's visit

Please visit http://www.petitiononline.com/PopeinUK/petition.html to add your name to the 30 000 who welcome the Pope's visit to the UK.

Also, a brief extract regarding the sexual abuse of minors by priests (thanks to www.proecclesia.com):

"Recent coverage in the media gives everyone the impression that the sexual abuse of children is a particularly Catholic problem. Even the three party leaders discussing the Pope's visit in their televised debate spoke as if this should be taken into account, although they could have been expected to know better.

The figures show a different story. An American study, published on line by Sam Miller, who is not a Catholic but a prominent Jewish businessman from Cleveland, reveals that while a disgraceful 1.7% of Catholic Clergy have been found guilty of sexual abuse, 10% of Protestant Ministers have been found guilty. It also showed child abuse to be far more prevalent in schools, youth organisation and sports training with Catholic clergy at the bottom of the list below doctors, teachers and farmers. Mr Miller ends his article with these words " Walk with your shoulders high and your head higher . . . Be proud to speak up for your Church. Be proud that you are a Catholic ."

The official figures in England and Wales are lower. Only 0.4 % of Catholic priests have been accused of child abuse in England and Wales since 1970 less have been found guilty.
That it happens at all is a terrible scandal but the truth is that only a very small number of Catholic priests ever abuse children sexually and it is dishonest of the media not to make this clear. When a Muslim terrorist plants a bomb which kills a large number of people we are always told, every time it is mentioned, that this movement concerns only a very small number of Muslims who are not representative of the vast majority. Where is a similar disclaimer for Catholic priests? Why are the British people being given only half the story?

The truth is that a young child is now safer in the Catholic Church than in any other institution including nursery or school. Since the Nolan Report, as soon as a priest is reported to have abused a child, the police are informed and the priest is removed from his parish that day and kept in a Convent or Monastery away from children while the accusation is thoroughly investigated. Even after the police have dropped the case, satisfied that there is no truth in the allegation, the Church continues to complete Her own investigation until satisfied.

It is encouraging that some non-Catholic journalists have pointed out these facts online and in personal articles out of an interest in seeing fair play. Sadly Church Officials in this country have been very slow to join in and help redress the balance."

Sunday, 12 September 2010

In the UK Love and Truth are not free!

I have just seen that Richard Dawkins has been discussing that he may try to attempt a citizens arrest of Pope Benedict XVI during his visit this week. Has this man lost his mind (or should I say not yet found it)? I continue to be baffled by this country. You are free to believe anything you want except the Truth as revealed by God. You can do anything you want, but try to act in the light of Love and you are labelled a bigot.
Please join us in prayer for this country as we prepare for the visit of Pope B16. May those who consider themselves "enlightened" be open to the true light. May they turn away from being infatuated by the shadows they cast and allow themselves to face the source of light.
When discussing the difference between right and wrong with many people you will hear the reply: "I'm not so close minded, I was raised in a liberal home." Excuse me! What do you mean by liberal, because when I think of liberty I recall Saint Paul's words explaining how we were once "slaves to sin" and have become "adopted sons of God through Christ", not only freed from slavery, but been accepted and given the inheritance (cf: Gal 4:7). Is there a freedom, a liberty, that can surpass this? I challenge you to point it out. God liberates us from the smallness that is ourselves, allows us to share in his gloriousness. But He allows us the liberty to choose in favour of ourselves above Him, we can choose to trap ourselves in the pursuit of pleasure in this life instead of the happiness, true happiness, the fruit that only virtue can bring to fruition. That is the stark choice. Be "liberal" in the world's view and have as much short-lived pleasure or choose to be adopted into true freedom.
I thank Jesus for liberating me, and I pray I may not squander that freedom.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Why the "Good News"

(taken from "Subversive Othodoxy" by Robert Inchausti)
It isn't because resources are scarce that we require large-scale economies and factories; it is because our wants are unlimited. And our wants are unlimited because our modern desires are not reflections of real needs so much as they are attempts to gain privilege and status by acquiring what we think other people want to possess. Economic ills are not entirely problems of material development; many of them simply reflect a alck of spiritual serenity and self-acceptance. The poor of this world are suffering - not only from a lack of land and capital but also from a failure to grasp what it is that would actually make them happy and thereby independent from the powers that be. This is the reason why the Gospels are "good news" to the poor: they reveal the essential emptiness of worldly prestige and replace it with the true joy of the beloved community.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Catholic Woman Priests on London bus!

I have just spent most of today travelling on busses. My journey to and from work took no less than 5 hours. But I do believe that the union's have to retain the right to strike and so offer my suffering for that purpose. Although the journey was more fascinating than it was frustrating. I saw the BNP protesting outside the courthouse as their rascist and fascist leader Nick Griffin ppeared before the court. Then, I saw the parade in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Blitz. This was at St Paul's cathedral and there was one of the WW2 fighter planes outside. I also got to ride on one of the old style busses. This was great as I saw that those old busses didn't try and sell you stuff when you looked in any direction. The new ones just seem to bombard a person with horrible adverts for abortion, STD clinics, abortion providers, IVF and sperm banks. But post-Christian society in Britain is a topic for another discussion. The old ones have no place for adverts and are more suited to enjoying the ride, which I did as we passed by Hyde Park. One advert that struck me on the way home was for Pope Benedict to ordain woman priests. I have inserted the picture below. I was a little taken aback, but it is not the first time in this month that I have been confronted by the question: "Why don't we ordain woman as Priests?"
There is a simple answer: we can't. The Catholic Church was not founded by men, but by Jesus. Jesus was a man and chose men to continue his work. The Church is simply not in a position to change the teaching of Jesus. For a more full discussion (from a woman too) I urge you to read "Why woman can't be priests" by Mary DeTurris.
The Church doesn't just make the rules up as She goes (yes, the Church is referred to always as She as She is the bride of Christ). If you are truly interested please read the document. The Church has not got a hidden agenda and truly loves woman, holding the example of Mary especially dear. Mary, we love you, pray for us. Men and women are equal yes, but we are different. It is irrational and untrue to claim otherwise. Those differences help us to better each other, to challenge each other, but most of all - to complement each other - this is especially displayed in the act of sex. A man and a woman, together, coming together in the image of God to create life (please refer to the creation narrative in Genesis, in the Hebrew it is easier to see that where it says God created "them" in his image, the "them" is plural. The man and woman together are the creative image of God). 
http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2010/08/26/ordain-women-london-bus-ads-will-urge-pope-benedict-during-september-visit/
Let us celebrate our different roles, and work to produce God's work more fully together. Let's trust that Jesus knew what He was doing and not let men mess it up by bowing to the ever changing modern "progressive" view, also known as PRIDE. The sin above all sins.

Ramadan and Yom Kippur

Quote: Thy will be done (from the ‘Our Father’)


Reflection: This year I am moved again by the sacred month of Ramadan and the awareness that the feast of Yom Kippur is approaching. Despite not being part of either of these celebrations, I am struck by their call to deeper conversion. As people from the Muslim and Jewish faiths enter into this time of fasting and prayer, my own Christian faith is challenged. I find myself again having to confront this mystery that is God. God who is fundamentally beyond my understanding and yet who moves people of all faiths to live more profound lives. I am challenged to ask myself; am I really living from the depth of my Christian belief? Does my life reflect that I follow Jesus and want to be like him?

Prayer: Lord as I begin this week I spend a moment in silence, bringing to my awareness the choices I will be faced with. Help me to live my life in word, thought and action, so as to best reflect your love in the world.

Amen.
(From the Jesuit Institute of South Africa - click the picture of Black Jesus in the sidebar to link to them)

Monday, 6 September 2010

Benedict on Christian Life (Homily 15 August 2005)

It is important that God be great among us, in public and in private life. In public life, it is important that God be present, for example, through the cross on public buildings, and that he be present in our community life, for only if God is present do we have an orientation, a common direction; otherwise, disputes become impossible to settle, for our common dignity is no longer recognized.

Let us make God great in public and in private life. This means making room for God in our lives every day, starting in the morning with prayers, and then dedicating time to God, giving Sundays to God. We do not waste our free time if we offer it to God. If God enters into our time, all time becomes greater, roomier, richer.
 
benedicteveryday.com

Friday, 3 September 2010

'Babies'

Transforming facts into meanings - three unrealities: the past, present and future - On William Blake

   Blake understood that when the spirit loses confidence in itself, the mind falls into the objective world and beings to see creation as something independent. It stops participating with life, stops perceiving beauty and possibility, and, instead, stands in judgement of everything, measuring differences, contrasts and oppositions. This false objectivity can only be transcended through a return to visionary experience, which alone can restore us to our true, imaginative selves.
    The scientific method encourages us to see the world as a thing outside of our own subjective experience of it. And once we do that, Blake warned, we start to think that what exists must necessarily exist, and that evil and injustice are givens. Such an attitude stifles the flow of human sympathetic awareness and cuts us off from any righteous indignation at the injustices visited upon others. This is why Blake said that a person who is not an artist cannot be a Christian, for the creative imagination is the only vehicle through which love of one's fellow man can be grasped. In Blake's New Jerusalem everyone is a visionary and, therefore, everyone experiences the Other as oneself. It is through faith that the primary narcissism of the child is recovered without forfeiting the adult's capacity to discern difference.
    The so-called objectivity of time and space clouds our capacity to make this return to the spirit because it replaces the divine cosmos with a world accessible only to our rational minds and breeds an unnecessary identification with our physical bodies as our selves. For Blake, time isn't a real object but the name for three unrealities: a past that doesn't exist anymore, a future that never will, and a present that is never quite here. "Space" is only a concept that distinguishes between "here" and "there." It has no real center and no real end. Only the holy immediacy of God within us is present to itself, eternal and always, containing the totality of human existence. But to live in the light of this revelation, one must discount the myriad distinctions and distractions that divide the transcendental unity of the soul-world.
    Eternal life is not life that last forever; not space-time life going on and on, acquiring more experiences and more things, exhausting itself in the joys of unending stuff. It is, rather, a life free from temporality. Only when we transcend the distinction between subject and object, between here and there, and between now and then, only when we go beyond the concepts of the temporal and the physical, can we begin to understand what holiness truly means. This is why, for the materialists, religious concepts are inherently absurd: they simply cannot accept the possibility that empiricism is a historically conditioned worldview born of the ancient aristocratic desire to control fate and manage history. As a result, they refuse to wake up to Being - remaining unconscious to the eternal and the divine present in each and every experience - preferring instead the heady fantasies of time travel and everlasting cyber-life.
    But Blake reminds us again and again that true knowledge - that is to say, knowledge of our ontological status as creatures made in the image of God - cannot be grasped through calculation, only through a vision. And vision  - in its most concentrated and inclusive form - is what psychoanalysts call the "imago," an internal picture that transforms facts into meanings.


(The above is taken from the book Subversive Orthodoxy by Robert Inchausti)

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Unembarrassed Joy

I read this book in 2007 and enjoyed it thoroughly. I remember this part too :-)

A quote from Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI before he became Pope) that made my day much more reflective.
"Something I constantly notice is that unembarrassed joy has become rarer. Joy today is increasingly saddled with moral and ideological burdens, so to speak. When someone rejoices, he is afraid of offending against solidarity with the many people who suffer. I don't have any right to rejoice, people think, in a world where there is so much misery, so much injustice. I can understand that. There is a moral attitude at work here. But this attitude is nonetheless wrong. The loss of joy does not make the world better - and, conversely, refusing joy for the sake of suffering does not help those who suffer. The contrary is true. The world needs people who discover the good, who rejoice in it and thereby derive the impetus and courage to do good. Joy, then, does not break with solidarity. When it is the right kind of joy, when it is not egotistic, when it comes from the perception of the good, then it wants to communicate itself, and it gets passed on. In this connection, it always strikes me that in the poor neighborhoods of, say, South America, one sees many more laughing happy people than among us. Obviously, despite all their misery, they still have the perception of the good to which they cling and in which they can find encouragement and strength. In this sense we have a new need for that primordial trust which ultimately only faith can give. That the world is basically good, that God is there and is good. That it is good to live and to be a human being. This results, then, in the courage to rejoice, which in turn becomes commitment to making sure that other people, too, can rejoice and receive good news."
From Salt of the Earth: The Church at the End of the Millennium: An Interview With Peter Seewald
Thanks to "Aggies Catholics" blog