The Crib is the Sign of Hope


Torch of The Faith News on Sunday 21 December 2008 - 12:44:57 | by admin

crib_009.jpgThis time last year our kind friend Laura Hart gave us a little crib as a pre-Christmas gift. We loved it so much that it spent the remainder of Advent and the entire Christmas season blue-tacked to the dashboard of our car!

We could not have known then that Laura, aged just 36, would have died so suddenly before the year was out.

Opening our Christmas decorations box this weekend was therefore quite an emotional experience. We found other gifts from Laura; a cute snowman, Santa and reindeer for the Christmas tree. And of course... the little crib.

Nevertheless, as we put the crib back on the dashboard for this year's seasonal journeys we were reminded of the sign of hope that it really is. We received it as a little sign of light beyond the dark of death.

When Jesus came as a baby, God definitively entered our world and our human situation. He became one of us, in all things but sin, in order to save us and redeem us. This necessarily included death and for all of us Christmas moves on to Good Friday. However, it also moves on to Easter Sunday and beyond.

Please pray for Laura's eternal soul and for her dear family as they face their first Christmas without her. May they, and all those who we know whose loved ones have died this year, be blessed with the joy of His coming, the peace of Redemption won by His death, and the Hope of His Resurrection. Amen.


We pray also for the repose of the souls of Laura Hart, Fr. Michael Gaughran, Fr. Godfrey Aloysuis Carney, Fr. Vincent Cunningham, Anne Edge, Ethel Dickinson, Peter Burton, Frances Edge, John Riley, and now the faithful Catholic and pro-life leader John Kilbane. All of these souls touched our lives in some way and all were called to the Lord this year.

Contraception and Abortion


Torch of The Faith News on Saturday 20 December 2008 - 10:19:15 | by admin

kieran_conry_medium.jpgAmongst other things (such as questioning regular confession, claiming that young people do not understand the concepts of sin and redemption and thus need to be engaged in environmental concerns, and giving his unique interpretation of the implementation of Pope Benedict's Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum) Bishop Kieran Conry has claimed in an interview that contraception is not a 'life issue'.

The Bishop of Arundel and Brighton is quoted as saying in his recent Herald interview that contraception should not be 'tied in' with abortion. He says 'the two are completely different issues.' He also attempts to suggest that Humanae Vitae is not an infallible teaching.

Also this week, Cherie Blair gave her controversial speech at the Angelicum in Rome (see earlier blog post). Cherie also claimed during her talk that 'There is a real danger in this debate if we ally contraception and abortion as the same and the Church needs to engage in this issue properly.'

To avoid confusion let us consider -

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 891) teaches that;

The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful - who confirms his brethren in the faith - he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals.

Let us also apply our faculty of reason to note that all forms of contraception - except for barrier methods - are abortifacient. The I.U.D coil, contraceptive implants, and Morning After Pill are primarily and explicitly so, and the regular contraceptive pill includes an abortifacient element in its action; scientific research has demonstrated that in a fertile woman using this method regularly, she would be likely to have around one chemical abortion per year. 

This leaves only barrier methods. As we know these also go against chastity in marriage and prevent the unity of man and wife. Further to this, Pope John Paul II frequently drew on his writings, in Evangelium Vitae paragraph 13, to demonstrate that even these barrier methods cause a contraceptive mentality which bears the evil fruit of abortion, because a child comes to be seen as an enemy to be avoided at all costs.

Increasingly, a new type of 'Catholicism' is being presented to us which seeks to develop the old-fashioned dissent of the 60'/70's and give it a respectable face. However, all of this is misleading and prevents the Communion which only Jesus Christ and the fulness of His Truth can give.

As a young married couple, by God's Grace and sound teaching which we have received understand the Church's teaching on Sin and Redemption and attest that the authentic Catholic teaching as espoused down through all the centuries of the Church's Tradition is the only way to live out marriage in communion with the Church. It unites us to one another, it heals and converts us, it encourages us to grow in communication; above all it leads us to communion in and with Jesus Christ and invites us to take the road of holiness. It is beautiful; it is liberating; it is dignified. And we thank God for the gift of it every day! 

It is sad that Fr. Bruce Williams of the Angelicum defended Mrs. Blair after her talk by claiming that she is not pro-abortion or anti-family. It is also worrying that he did this by stating that people on the internet who had critiqued her visit and called for it to be prevented - which includes us - were thus 'at best rash, if not outright calumnious.' Assertions of this kind are only fair if the evidence supports them. However we once again note the following points (None of which were engaged at the Angelicum, even though this is a leading academy)...

Mrs. Blair confidently writes in her recent book that she contracepted.

Mrs. Blair has been photographed on the internet merrily waving a barrier method of contraception in the camera at a Family Planning Association stand (FPA are pro-contraception and pro-abortion).

Mrs. Blair hosted International Planned Parenthood Federation at 10 Downing Street in 2003. IPPF are a radically anti-family and anti-life provider of contraception and abortion throughout the globe.

Mrs. Blair supports CEDAW on her website... including their calls for 'reproductive rights' (a euphemism for abortion and contraception).

This Advent, let us pray for a rebirth in chastity in us all and for a return to the True Faith and all its life-giving beauty.

Cardinal Canizares Llovera


Torch of The Faith News on Thursday 18 December 2008 - 12:21:52 | by admin

200px-antoniocanizares.jpgPicture of Cardinal Canizares Llovera from Wikepedia.

We're a little late in discussing this as we've had a buzy old week. Still, better late than never!

Although it is sad that Cardinal Arinze is retiring it is very good news that the so-called 'Little Ratzinger' Cardinal Canizares Llovera is taking his place as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship.

Several years ago we began to receive Holy Communion on the tongue. And during the last few months our hearts have been prompted to kneel for Holy Communion; as was the ancient practice. Sadly, many today claim that such actions are examples of false piety. We suggest however, that false piety is a negation of a good thing. That is to say, just because false piety exists, it does not automatically follow that all piety is false.

It would seem to us that to kneel before our God is the appropriate response of the creature before its Creator and Saviour. Neither is this out of a sense of despairing servility, but draws from love in the heart. In worship we express our interior movements of the heart, mind, intellect and soul by the movements and gestures of the body. Too often we have made the liturgy into a wordy and cerebral affair. This is actually more akin to Protestant worship; wherein a grouping of individuals who assent to similar beliefs assemble together, rather than as the Catholic Church does as a body corporate which 'eats into' body-soul Communion with Jesus Christ and His Church. The body and soul union are called upon to become totally engaged in adoration, thanksgiving, praise, repentance and humble intercession. 

In the writings of the desert Fathers is found the experience of one who was visited by Satan - a fallen angel without knees, because he will not serve...

As our conviction to kneel has increased we have begun to prefer to attend Tridentine Masses because then we may kneel without being either bullied or made to feel like 'fundamentalists'. It is remarkable how belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist has become so diminished that throughout Wales it is now common for people not even to genuflect, but to merely nod in the direction of the tabernacle. 

All of which makes the words of the new Prefect -reported on Fr. Tim's blog earlier this week - seem so soothing!

[La Razón:] Nevertheless, Benedict XVI has reiterated in some instances the propriety of receiving communion kneeling and in the mouth. Is it something important, or is it a mere matter of form?

[Cañizares:] - No, it is not just a matter of form. What does it mean to receive communion in the mouth? What does it mean to kneel before the Most Holy Sacrament? What dies it mean to kneel during the consecration at Mass? It means adoration, it means recognizing the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist; it means respect and an attitude of faith of a man who prostrates before God because he knows that everything comes from Him, and we feel speechless, dumbfounded, before the wondrousness, his goodness, and his mercy. That is why it is not the same to place the hand, and to receive communion in any fashion, than doing it in a respectful way; it is not the same to receive communion kneeling or standing up, because all these signs indicate a profound meaning. What we have to grasp is that profound attitude of the man who prostrates himself before God, and that is what the Pope wants.

Perhaps the Holy Spirit is now prompting an increasing number of souls to restore this practice as part of the urgent reforms needed in the Church and in each of us as her members. We invite you to please contemplate this in your Advent preparations.  

Stepping out in Faith!


Torch of The Faith News on Wednesday 17 December 2008 - 13:21:10 | by admin

180px-neil_armstrong_1956_portrait.jpgMany years ago a teenager was riding along as his father drove past an airfield in Ohio, U.S.A. Suddenly, a low flying plane went out of control and nose dived. The young man yelled;

'Dad! Dad! Stop the car!'

Within moments he was dragging the 20 year old pilot from the wreckage. This young airman had been practising take offs and landings when he lost control. He died in the arms of the teenaged lad.

Returning home, the teenager threw his arms around his mother.

'Mom, he was my friend! He was only twenty!' He lamented.

That night he could not eat and spent a couple of days alone. He had been working hard in a local drugstore to earn money for flying lessons of his own. His parents wondered what he would do now, but they left the decision up to him.

Two days later, his mother took some cookies to his room and noticed an open notebook on his dresser. At the top of the page he had written The Character of Jesus. Beneath he had listed;

Jesus was sinless
Jesus was humble
Jesus championed the poor
Jesus was unselfish...

In his hour of decision he turned to Jesus for guidance. He later spoke to his parents;

'Mom, I hope you and Dad will understand, but with God's help, I must continue to fly.'

That teenaged lad was Neil Armstrong...

250px-as11-40-5886.jpg... And on July 20th, 1969, he became the first human being to walk on the moon. Few people who watched that historical event on TV knew that one of the reasons Neil Armstrong was walking on the moon was Jesus Christ. They did not know that it was from Jesus that he drew strength and guidance to continue his flying!

(Both photos of Neil Armstrong from Wikipedia... Story from Challenge 2000 by Fr. Mark Link S.J.)

On the Waterfront!


Torch of The Faith News on Monday 15 December 2008 - 20:54:02 | by admin

waterfront_013.jpgAs a Gaudate Sunday treat we got the popcorn out and watched the classic movie On The Waterfront starring Marlon Brando and Eva Marie Saint.

waterfront_019.jpg

waterfront_005.jpgThis famous story of workers fighting for their rights against the oppression of the local Mob is highly rated by cinema buffs. Many cinema afficionados rave about the 'contender' scene; in which Brando's and Rod Steiger's characters face up to the harsh realities of their failed relationship as brothers in the back of a taxi cab. 

However, there is a much more powerful scene which is frequently overlooked, and yet provides a dramatic example of the positive manner in which Hollywood used to portray Catholic characters and themes in earlier times. It is also perhaps one of the scenes which led a film critic, at the movie's launch, to describe it as being akin to 'Going My Way with brass knuckles'! 

waterfront_004.jpgThe scene we refer to is the one in which Karl Malden's character Fr. Barry speaks out against the evils of the Mob from the bottom of a ship's hold where he has just anointed the body of a man who has been murdered by them for standing up for the truth.

The words in this scene could provide all of us with food for thought regarding morality in our dealings at work and school, and in terms of speaking out in defence of the preborn victims of abortion.

The fictional priest declares;

Some people think the crucifixion only took place on Calvary. Well, they'd better wise up!

Taking Joey Doyle's life to stop him from testifying is a crucifixion... Dropping a sling on K O'Doogan because he was ready to spill his guts tomorrow (in court)... that's a crucifixion! And every time the mob puts the crusher on a good man, and tries to stop him doing his duty as a citizen... it's a crucifixion!

And anybody who sits around and let's it happen, keeps silent about something he knows has happened; shares the guilt of injustice just as much as the Roman soldier who pierced the flesh of Our Lord to see if he was dead!

At this point in the scene, the mob begin to hurl eggs, blunt objects and tins which cut his head and spatter his black overcoat and Roman-collared clerical stock. They shout at him to go back to his church. He stoops down to wipe egg from the body next to him and shouts;

Boys... THIS is my church... and if you don't think Christ is down here on this waterfront, you've got another guess comin'!

waterfront_010.jpgHow does He who spoke up without fear against EVERY evil feel about your SILENCE?

You want to know what's wrong with the waterfront? It's puttin' the love of a lousy buck above the love of man. It's forgettin' that every fella down here is your brother in Christ... But remember Christ is always with you... And He's sayin'... If you do it to the least of mine, you do it also to me!

Priceless! We had all this and a beautiful Holy Mass offered by a young visiting priest in the Tridentine Rite over in Liverpool. Gaudate! Deo Gratias!

A Woman Clothed with the Sun and with Twelve Stars for a Crown (Rev: 12v1)


Torch of The Faith News on Saturday 13 December 2008 - 12:38:29 | by admin

lourdes_025.jpgAs is the custom, we went along to the Crowned Virgin Statue in the Domain on the last night and asked Our Blessed Lady if she would bring us back one day to Lourdes. As I'm a bit of a softy this is always a somewhat tearful experience! The town had an 'end of term' feel due to the fact that the season was coming to an end with the completion of the Immaculate Conception celebrations. On the final evening only one shop remained open and there was no torchlight procession.

All in all, we much preferred the calm and religious atmosphere of the town at this time of year to the summer months when a nightclubby, Ibiza motif seems to prevail! All week the streets were relatively quiet and one could meet with folks for a chat along the shops without being bustled along or having to raise your voice above dire, 90's pop music!

Afterwards we retired to the hotel Ariane to pack our cases for another early start and a pre-dawn bus ride back to Carcassonne. We highly recommend the Ariane; the rooms are basic - but hey this is a pilgrimage - the food is first class; the staff remain very helpful and friendly even during the extremely busy meal times; and the hotel is not too far from the domain.

Lourdes 1858 - 2008


Torch of The Faith News on Saturday 13 December 2008 - 12:11:33 | by admin

lourdes_014.jpgSometimes the best treats in life are those which are not planned. Several months ago we asked Our Lady in prayer whether we should go and visit her in Lourdes and receive the Indulgence for the anniversary year; and if so, for her to make it all possible.

In the middle of last week we discovered that two people had just dropped out of a Mancunia pilgrimage to Lourdes for the closing celebrations of the anniversary and the Immaculate Conception feast day!

And so we've had a wonderful, unexpected trip to Lourdes. We had just enough time to fulfill the necessary requirements to gain the indulgence with just hours to spare before the feast day ended!

lourdes_004.jpgAfter a very early start last Sunday, we drove to Liverpool and then flew to Carcassonne, in southern France, before taking a three hour bus ride to Lourdes. That last leg provided some moving and spectacular views of the snow-clad Pyrennees. As St. Augustine said when contemplating the sun, the moon, rivers and mountains;

'Heaven and earth tell me to love Thee, Oh Lord.'

And he said that they spoke further to his heart;

'Augustine, love your God; for He has created us for you, that you might love Him.'

lourdes_016.jpgOn the first night we joined our little Torch of The Faith to the many thousands of lanterns on the Torchlight Procession, in celebration of the vigil of the great feast of the Immaculate Conception.

lourdes_029.jpgWe lit candles and included all the readers of our blog in our prayer intentions. 

lourdes_034.jpgA large crowd from all over the world had gathered in spite of the bitter cold winter night.

lourdes_009.jpgHere Angeline lights 5 candles for some friends who had requested prayers.

lourdes_011.jpgOn the feast day itself we began with Holy Mass in the Grotto before sunrise and then spent many blessed hours in the domain and following the Jubilee Way to gain the indulgence; including visits to the font where St. Bernadette was baptised in the local parish Church, the cachot where she first lived; the Hospice chapel wherein she made her first Holy Communion; and the Grotto via St. Michael's Gate and the Arches of the main Basilicas.

lourdes_019.jpgThis was my fourth trip to Lourdes and Angeline's second. In 1998 I was blessed to work the whole summer in Lourdes as a pilgrim guide which really opened my eyes and heart to the universal nature of God's Holy Church! This week it felt like being home again... Neither of us had been for a l-o-n-g time.

lourdes_037.jpgWe then sat before the Grotto through the late afternoon into the early evening as darkness fell; before heading back to the hotel for a much needed warm and a tasty French meal!

lourdes_038.jpgThe next day we did the high Stations of the Cross up the hillside and again included you - our blog readers in our prayers.

lourdes_039.jpg

lourdes_042.jpgWe were frozen to the bone when we got down and so spent a long time in silent prayer in the beautiful Rosary basilica. Each of the first 15 Rosary Mysteries has an exquisite side chapel dedicated to it; complete with ornate mosaics, majestic altars, splendid tabernalces and marble altar rails. Compare and contrast this remarkable chapel dedicated to the Nativity with the one below... 

lourdes_-_nihilism.jpgThis is one of the latest additions in Lourdes; a side chapel in the Hospice. It must be said that in comparison to the one above its starkness is almost nihilistic...

lourdes_046.jpgThe pilgrimage received its spiritual leadership from a good old friend of ours; Fr. Mattie O'Callaghan.

Fr. Mattie loves Jesus, Our Lady, St. Joseph, the Catholic Faith and people. In short he's our kind of guy! During the week, Fr. Matt celebrated the Holy Mass and led the Rosary. We were surprised to be blessed with a seat next to him on the return flight and had a good chat on the plane home.

Above Angie and Fr. Matt wait for their luggage at the carousel in Liverpool Airport.

Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Bernadette - Pray for us!

May they rest in the peace of Christ


Torch of The Faith News on Thursday 11 December 2008 - 14:04:16 | by admin

frances.jpgTwo lovely friends have died in recent days.

Above, is Frances Egan a beautiful soul from Bootle on Merseyside. Frances went to Holy Mass every day for many years at St. Robert Bellarmine's in Bootle with her husband Terry (where she also enjoyed singing up in the choir loft on Sundays).
 
We first met Frances about 10 years ago when she gave much loving support to our family during a painful trial through which we were then passing.
 
She loved God and her Catholic Faith very deeply indeed.
 
Her last day on this earth had been a very happy one; during which she had sung in the choir and been on good form at the parish coffee morning. Frances would have celebrated her 81st birthday in February. Please pray for her and for Terry, her children, family and friends.

parish2bfamily.jpgWe were also deeply shocked to learn of the sudden death from a heart attack of Peter Burton at St. Theresa's in Chester.

Peter worked with us during 2007/8 on a Seekers team at Pantasaph; during which time we visited all the houses in St. Clare's parish in Chester to invite people to a day in the church hall to find out more about the Catholic faith.

Peter was a lovely man; gentle, kind, always full of fun, and blessed with a remarkable singing voice. He was a keen librarian and was strongly motivated by a desire to evangelise and bring people to the Lord Jesus Christ. As such he had been a long term member of the Sion Community; before splitting his time in recent years between St. Theresa's in Chester and the Franciscan friary at Pantasaph. 

Peter had only recently written the opening column in the Winter 2008 edition of the Message of Hope magazine from Pantasaph friary. His words, under the title The Challenge at Christmas describe the feelings he experienced many years ago about the secularisation of Christmas, and speak most eloquently of the ways of his heart;

I decided I would dedicate some time to prayer before the Blessed Sacrament to intercede for those who did not understand the real meaning of Christmas and to enable me to be more receptive to the Christian message and the mystery of God becoming man. That day before the Blessed Sacrament all those years ago was a turning point for me. It helped me to put my friendship with Jesus Christ into perspective. I knew Him, and believed in Him, and from that time I really wanted to tell others about Him, and about the message He came to bring each one of us...

...I would like to give you a challenge this Christmas... Take some time out, to reflect, to pray and to think about the gift of Christ. Think also about how much time you give to Him in prayer and how much time you actually allow Him to shape and mould you... I promise you, if you give Him this time. You will not be disappointed! The real meaning of Christmas will find a home in you, and you can then share that with your family and friends.

We thank the Lord for the blessing of having known these two lovely friends and commend them to His infinite Divine Mercy and love.

Eternal rest grant unto Frances and Peter O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them and may they rest in peace.
Amen.

Listen... Those Who Have Ears to Hear! (Matt 13:9)


Torch of The Faith News on Friday 05 December 2008 - 19:25:28 | by admin

celeb.gifYesterday we blogged about the Everybody's Welcome initiative. Since then, we've done a bit more research on its own website (which is part of the Bishop's Conference of England and Wales website). It seems the programme has so far received £3 million from donors. 

Some of the website materials are so banal as to seem like a parody of the liberal agenda. So there are pages with themes such as Name Badge Sunday and making parish car parks more welcoming... We kid you not!

Perhaps more grave however is the fact that such an initiative, which could (and should) have been used to bolster the Catholic family against the onslaught of the Culture of Death, has been used to further the very culture of dissent from Church teaching which has weakened the foundations of the Catholic family in the first place.

The feedback documents from the Listening 2004 programme can be downloaded from the website. They read so much like a list of favourite dissenting gripes as to betray the fact that they have been engineered to deliver the conclusions which they do.

Here are a selection of typical quotes with the name of the diocese of the contributor;

(P.57) Southwark - 'We don't appear to have any co-habiting Catholics to talk to us here today about their views. We don't talk to them and address them but tend to judge them and leave them with a feeling of guilt.'

(Our experiences on our 'marriage prep' mentioned yesterday day tend to suggest that the opposite is true!).

(P.57) (diocese unmentioned) - A priest describes as 'unhelpful' the teaching authority of the Church, which 'continues to use expressions in describing practices about human sexuality as ''This is intrinsically evil.''

(You couldn't make this stuff up could you!)

(P.58) Middlesborough - 'The whole of the Church's teaching in the area of sexuality needs re-examining from adultery to bad thoughts.'

(Perhaps the real problem is they have not even been heard of, let alone examined, by most of the previous generation and down!)

(P.58) Brentwood - 'Some of the replies were critical of the Church and her antiquated teachings esp. when it came to contraception and divorce.'

(Notice that this is a comment from the collator of 'evidence'... And it has a loaded value judgement with the word 'antiquated'. GK Chesterton said the great thing about the Catholic Faith is that it prevents one from being bound by the transitory values of one's own day. The Church's teachings are perennial, ever new and beautiful; as a whole new generation of young converts to the Church are finding to their great joy! In scientific research the Heisenburg Principle contends that such research is always effected by the one doing the experminent. To get a true reading then, the one doing the experiment must be aware of their own prejudices in order to transcend these in the search for the truth. That word 'antiquated' would suggest that this collator failed to do this. In short, they were not objective enough...)

(P.56) - Liverpool - A grandfather, formerly active in diocesan family support in the post Vatican II era, sent in his comments.

(This is priceless; they're admitting at the outset that the gentleman in question is an insider of their group!)

He says;
'I think a major (though not the only) problem is the failure of the Church to rethink certain aspects of its attitude towards sexuality. This has alienated so many... The fundamentalist fringe sometimes makes a louder noise than those who still believe but now see little hope for a long time to come of the vibrant pilgrim church we thought was coming to birth in the 60's'.

(Yes, sorry pops... The 60's are OVER! We grew up in the hangover period from the 60's party. Our generation knows what it is to live in the impoverished world created by dissent from God's life saving truth. Note two things here though; orthodoxy is equated with fundamentalism... a classic ploy of dissenters; Grandaddy is despairing because he thinks the liberal era is fading. In light of the fact that so much dissent is being openly tolerated it would be hard to agree with him on this - or most anything else he says here - but at least it shows an awareness that the next generation, when finding the fullness of Faith in increasing numbers prefer Married Life to Marriage Lite!).

Hilare Belloc said that, in the end, all arguments are about theology. That this is true can be illustrated by two telling photographs. The first is this one taken from the Everybody's Welcome website to show one of the 'consultation' periods. Here the folks are gathered in Church chatting together and 'being church' in Sacred Heart Church in Hemsworth...


hemsworth1.jpgThe community is the centre - this could occur in any social club... or fair enough in the parish club afterwards.

The second picture was taken at the moment of the Consecration during a recent Latin Mass at Westminster Cathedral, and comes from Fr. Tim's blog.


lms_wm1.jpgHere Jesus Christ, the true and only dependable source of our human community and peace, becomes present to us in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. He is the Head of His Church and we are His body in the Church. By becoming united to Him, we can become truly and deeply united to one another. By rejecting sin - not sinners - we may have much deeper community with each other than if we cling to our self-serving agendas.

In a nutshell, the folks quoted above are trying to welcome sinners by removing the sense of sin. A kind of re-emergence of the ancient Pelagian heresy... It is laudable to welcome sinners. Goodness, none of us would be in Church if sinners were not welcome! But, the only one who can welcome sinners fully and remove their sin authentically and definitively is Jesus Christ. That is why He gave us His Church and the Sacraments; that we may repent, confess and then recieve His peace and saving love in Holy Communion. It's His Church. Her teachings are His teachings. They are not antiquated because like Him they are alive and active and can judge the heart like a two edged sword! 

The answer then is to receive from God in humilty. To try and 'produce' a new church with new doctrine is a typical culture bound expression of the present zeitgeist.

Perhaps Paschasius Radbertus (a deacon, teacher and abbot who died in 865 A.D.) sums it up best;

Come then, whoever you may be: at least desire now in this world of time to be rid of baneful vices, and that the reign of virtue may come in you, for God is a God of virtues and not of vices. Desire to be reckoned among the number of Christ's members.

May we all repent and be converted this Holy Advent season and find Christ in the fullness of His Church!

Everybody's Welcome... Except Jesus and orthodox Catholics!


Torch of The Faith News on Thursday 04 December 2008 - 18:10:27 | by admin

cbcseal.jpgAn excellent blog-post by Fr. Ray Blake at marymagdalen.blogspot.com regarding the 'Marriage and Family Life Project Office,' brought back some memories to both of us earlier this week.

First, here is Fr. Ray's commentary;

A new document has been released from the Bishop's Conference of England and Wales entitled
What is life like if you or someone in your family is gay or lesbian in their sexual orientation? ...and what can your parish family do to make a difference?
issued by

Marriage and Family Life Project Office
Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales
39 Eccleston Square, London, SW1V 1BX

There are lots of references to various documents, mainly from US Bishops, ones which have come in for serious criticism by different Roman Congregations, and some which the US Bishops themselves have replaced.
As priest in Brighton I spend quite a bit of time trying to help people make sense of their sexual attraction, I really find this document troubling. We used to speak a lot about "meeting people where they are at" which is fine, Christ does that but he calls us break from sin and to live a new Life in him.
As this document is issued by the Bishop Conference, one of course accepts that there is great eagerness to pass on the Catholic faith whole and entire, here there seems to be something missing, no-one is well served by partial truths. This document is aimed at supporting families with "gay or lesbian" members, but we are called to much more than that.

Article 2358 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church says,

"The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition."

There is a great deal about "acceptance" of gay people in this document but nothing about Christ's radical call to "unite to the sacrifice of the [his] Cross", nor is there any teaching about the sinfulness of genital acts outside of marriage despite the fact that this document comes from the "Marriage and Family Life Project".
Compare and contrast this document this little document with
Cardinal Biffi's radical vision which I linked to yesterday. It seems to lack something important, could it be a relationship with the person of Jesus Christ?

In 2002 we attended a compulsory day of 'marriage preparation' in the Archdiocese of Liverpool a few months prior to our own wedding.

marrage.jpgThankfully, our wedding day was a beautiful, Christ centred experience which we were blessed to receive from God through His Holy Church.

That is more than can be said for our Archdiocesan 'marriage preparation day' which was led by the, then Archdiocesan representative for marriage and the family; Margaret Rogers and her husband. Let us speak clearly; if Satan had devised a day for engaged couples this would have been it!

We began with 'small group discussions' about 'what marriage means to me.' We were corrected by the leaders for sharing our faith, 'as this may not be relevant to everyone here and we must include everyone's experiences.' 

Then we endured nothing less than bullying from the leaders of the day, because we told the truth that cohabitation went against the authentic teaching of the Church. (Out of about 17 couples on the day there were just ourselves and another couple who were not 'living together.' The other couples were very open about this and many did not realise this was a problem). Margaret and her husband claimed that we had 'an old fashioned model of Church which had been replaced by Vatican II'. They claimed that the Church was 'no longer heirarchical' and that teachings now developed through discussions amongst the laity... (Vatican II devotes Chapter 3 of Lumen Gentium to the fact that the Church is Heirarchical).

The Rogers' claimed that the Church had thus changed its teachings on sex outside marriage, contraception and homosexual relationships.

When Angeline intervened to say that no-one all day had mentioned Jesus Christ, Margaret cut her short and said condescendingly 'You may be comfortable with that title my dear, but others in the room may prefer to speak of a transcendental reality.'

I said that the whole day had been an example of moral relativism which was contradicted by Pope John Paul II's teaching in Fides et Ratio. Mr. Rogers suddenly sprang up and wrote 'Challenging' on the white-board...

We wrote to Archbishop Kelly and received a polite reply. Nevertheless Mrs. Rogers remained in her post until 2007 when she retired after helping to set up the 'Listening 2004' project, which forms part of the ongoing, and expensive looking Everybody's Welcome initiative. The summary of Listening 2004 is to be found on the web-site of the Bishop's Conference of England and Wales and provides a clear example of how deep (and how high) dissent from the authentic teachings of Christ and His Church now goes.

After Margaret retired I applied for a job in the Marriage and Family office at Liverpool's LACE centre. After all, by then I had 2 First Class degrees in Theology and had specialisations in Marriage and the Family and Bioethics. I also had several years of pastoral experience working with a variety of groups including prisoners, teenagers from difficult backgrounds, primary school children, elderly people and a cross section of Catholic parishioners. I desired to help implement the authentic teaching of Vatican II and to share the rich insights of Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body as a means to help heal our culture and bring people back to Christ.

I was interviewed by a panel which included (amongst others ); a liberal priest in lay clothes (I discovered he was a priest during the day - to which I had made the effort and worn a smart suit and shirt and tie); a woman who gives 'homilies' at Masses and has a long history in the liberal 'pastoral' department, and a priest known for his Buddhist and liberal leanings...

Needless to say I did not get the job. A couple of weeks later a priest friend called me to inform me that the latest project from the Marriage and Family office included the one on 'acceptance' mentioned in Fr. Ray's commentary above. It seems that this has only now become a national issue across the dioceses.

In any case Peter Tatchell of the homosexual activist group Outrage! (with a radical history which included breaking up Church services) has strongly welcomed this initiative, and publicly thanked the 'liberal' bishops of England and Wales for challenging the 'outdated, bigoted' attitude of the Vatican towards homosexuality. 

John Kearney on his blog Catholic Rights says;
'The bishops spend a lot of time trying to pretend that their teaching is identical to that of the Holy Father. How embarassing for them that Peter Tatchell has revealed the vast gulf between Eccleston Square and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.'

As we say in the title of this piece... It now seems that Everybody's Welcome... except Jesus and orthodox Catholics!

Anyway... Don't worry, but do KEEP THE FAITH!

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