"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 June 2011

Pictures of Pope tweeting on iPad

Let there be light: Pope Benedict XVI publishes the new Vatican web portal on his iPad

Revelation: The pontiff also sent his first tweet, announcing that the Vatican portal had gone live from the offices of L'Osservatore Romano

These are pictures of Pope Benedict XVI using the papal iPad for the launch of the Vatican's new webpage. You can access News.va now. The Pope announced the launch with the tweet:

Vatican - news (@news_va_en)
28-06-11 17:07
Dear Friends, I just launched http://t.co/fVHpS9y Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus XVI

Pope Benedict XVI reflecting on 60th anniversary of ordination and the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

The Pope sent the tweet to launch the news.va website.One of the first posts is his homily from the feast of Saints Peter and Paul. Thanks be to God for given us such a wonderful Pope. The full homily can be found here. I found this extract particularly beautiful:
"...bear fruit, fruit that abides. What fruit does he expect from us? What is this fruit that abides? Now, the fruit of the vine is the grape, and it is from the grape that wine is made. Let us reflect for a moment on this image. For good grapes to ripen, sun is needed, but so too is rain, by day and by night. For noble wine to mature, the grapes need to be pressed, patience is needed while the juice ferments, watchful care is needed to assist the processes of maturation. Noble wine is marked not only by sweetness, but by rich and subtle flavours, the manifold aroma that develops during the processes of maturation and fermentation. Is this not already an image of human life, and especially of our lives as priests? We need both sun and rain, festivity and adversity, times of purification and testing, as well as times of joyful journeying with the Gospel. In hindsight we can thank God for both: for the challenges and the joys, for the dark times and the glad times. In both, we can recognize the constant presence of his love, which unfailingly supports and sustains us.Yet now we must ask: what sort of fruit does the Lord expect from us? Wine is an image of love: this is the true fruit that abides, the fruit that God wants from us. But let us not forget that in the Old Testament the wine expected from noble grapes is above all an image of justice, which arises from a life lived in accordance with God’s law. And this is not to be dismissed as an Old Testament view that has been surpassed – no, it still remains true. The true content of the Law, its summa, is love for God and for one’s neighbour. But this twofold love is not simply saccharine. It bears within itself the precious cargo of patience, humility, and growth in the conforming of our will to God’s will, to the will of Jesus Christ, our friend. Only in this way, as the whole of our being takes on the qualities of truth and righteousness, is love also true, only thus is it ripe fruit. Its inner demand – faithfulness to Christ and to his Church – seeks a fulfilment that always includes suffering. This is the way that true joy grows. At a deep level, the essence of love, the essence of genuine fruit, coincides with the idea of setting out, going towards: it means self-abandonment, self-giving, it bears within itself the sign of the cross."

Friday, 24 June 2011

25 June 2011 Abortion Prayer in Ealing, London, UK

Please join with the prayer procession tomorrow led by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and Helpers of God's precious infants. The day will begin with Mass at Ealing Abbey (post code W5 2DY) at 9:15, followed by a procession to the Marie Stopes abortion clinic in Ealing (post code W5 5BJ). While the procession takes place there will be prayer supporters in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.

Please join us. I pray often outside this abortion centre and it is quite busy on Saturday mornings. Your presence is more valuable than you can imagine. And remember, we are there to convert hearts, whether the mother proceeds with the abortion or not. We love these mothers and need them to know we love and care for them.

You can see the printable poster here.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Should a Catholic practice Yoga?

Often in conversation people mention that Yoga is a good idea. When a Catholic begins saying this then it is worrying. Why? Isn't Yoga just a physical exercise? Can't we just use the ritual movements and positions but not subscribe to the belief system underlying them? I am sure you are familiar with these questions.

As a Catholic it is not possible to believe that the postures and physical expressions of belief are useful when separated from the beliefs they are linked to. We know from our worship and prayer (especially the ultimate prayer of the Mass) that each movement and posture is meant to convey a deep spiritual meaning. The Sacraments give us a way of physically experiencing a deep reality. The physical part of the Sacraments is integral to their meaning. As limited creatures we can only experience the Spiritual realm through our senses. The Sacramental actions help us to experience God, they physically put us in touch with our Creator. As a believing Catholic you would consider someone who is not a Catholic and just comes to Mass to "stand, sit, stand, sit, stand, kneel, walk, kneel, stand" as crazy. To remove the spiritual reality which is integral to the actions causes all reasoning to disintegrate.

The same must hold true for Yoga. Yoga is based on a Hindu belief system. The point of yoga is to enter into unity with the great Brahma, or to experience reality as understood by Hinduism. There is no doubt that yoga is a Hindu form of meditation.

Can a Catholic practise yoga if they disconnect from the spiritual side of it? This is not the right questions to ask. Rather, we should ask: Is it possible to remove the spiritual side from the actions and still have an integrated spiritual life? The answer is NO. Every physical action has a spiritual side, to not recognise this is to cause our identity as spiritual/physical being to disintegrate and we will be set back in our pursuit of Heaven.

Music with Meaning - Shinedown - 45

This isn't a Christian song and the meaning may be a bit obscure, but I can share with you my interpretation of the lyrics. I also love the conviction that it is sung with. I believe the song is the point of view of a father whose child has been aborted. First we'll look at the lyrics and then I'll give my commentary.
The lyrics are:
Send away for a priceless giftOne not subtle, one not on the listSend away for a perfect worldOne not simply, so absurdIn these times of doing what you're toldYou keep these feelings, no one knowsWhat ever happened to the young man's heartSwallowed by pain, as he slowly fell apart
And I'm staring down the barrel of a 45,Swimming through the ashes of another lifeNo real reason to accept the way things have changedStaring down the barrel of a 45
Send a message to the unborn childKeep your eyes open for a whileIn a box high up on the shelf, left for you, no one else There's a piece of a puzzle known as lifeWrapped in guilt, sealed up tight
What ever happened to the young man's heartSwallowed by pain, as he slowly fell apart
Everyone's pointing their fingersAlways condemning meAnd nobody knows what I believeI believe

Imagine the pain of a man who has not been allowed to protect his unborn child from a brutal death. Add to that the pain of then being judged to have supported that murder. The character in this song has been driven to contemplate taking his own life, literally staring down the barrel of a gun. Let us pray for all men affected by abortion that they may discover healing.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Our Lady is an Icon, don't touch

Icon of the Assumption of Mary in Suprasl
I just got back from a short holiday in Poland. While there I was blessed enough to visit the Russian Orthodox Icon Museum in Suprasl. The monastery has been in the town since 1500 and has a collection of more than 1200 icons.

There was a particular icon that caught my eye during the tour. You can see the photo on the left. It is an icon depicting the assumption of Our Lady. The most striking feature of the icon is at the bottom, there you see a man whose hand's have been cut off by St Michael the Archangel (see detailed picture below).
Why did St Michael cut the hands off? The story goes that the man was a Jewish Priest who did not acknowledge the
the sanctity of Mary and wanted to push the funeral bier over. As can be seen, Saint Michael intervened.
Close up detail from icon of Assumption of Mary
But the story has a happy ending. The hand less priest's hands were miraculously re-attached and healed once he acknowledged the sanctity of our Lady. You can read more about the details of this icon here.

Another icon that raised my heart was an icon depicting the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharistic bread and wine. You can see Christ (although it may be one of the Church Fathers) holding a chalice in which his blood resides, along with His body. Thanks be to God for these revelations in art.

Icon of the Real Presence

From the walls of the Icon Museum in Suprasl