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Pope Francis: teach your children to pray, to make the Sign of the Cross

Posted on August 28, 2015 at 4:45 AM Comments comments ()
Pope Francis has urged parents to teach their children to pray, saying that children should learn prayer with the same spontaneity as when they learn to say “daddy” and “mummy”. The pope made the remarks during his latest General Audience in St Peter’s Square on Wednesday.
 
 
He said: “There are children who have not learned to make the Sign of the Cross.  You, mother, father: teach your children how to pray, how to make the Sign of the Cross.”
 
 
The pope continued: “It is beautiful when mothers teach their little children to blow a kiss to Jesus or to Our Lady.  What tenderness there is in this.  In that moment, the child’s heart is transformed into a place of prayer.  And this is a gift of the Holy Spirit.”
 
 
The pope also encouraged families to pray the Gospel every day.
 
 
While it is easy for us to become lazy when it comes to prayer, it is surely an injustice to deprive our children of it.  There are so many material things used by society to entertain our children, whether it's the latest toy or gadget, the television, or even social media.  And while these may very well have a role to play, they cannot give our children true joy, nor can they give them eternal life; and surely eternal life is what we ultimately want for our children?
 
 
The importance of building a lasting relationship between our children and Jesus cannot be overstated.  We have a duty to bring our children to the Truth of Christ's teaching and to raise them in Christ's own Church where they will receive the Sacraments.  It is mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins who will lay the foundations of every child's relationship with Christ.  And even if our own relationship with Christ has floundered, do we really want to compromise the relationship our children could have with the saviour of the world?
 
 
We have a duty to set a holy example to our kids. If a child sees someone else kneeling in prayer, saying grace before meals, kissing a Crucifix, or going to Confession regularly, how much more likely are they to do the same?
 
 
Helping to build our childrens' relationship with Jesus is the most important thing we can do for them. It will set them out on the road to eternal life. 
 
 
Click this link to read more at National Catholic Register: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/pope-mother-father-teach-your-children-how-to-pray/
 

US conference urges Catholic youth to live their faith openly and warns against cherry-picking

Posted on August 21, 2015 at 8:48 AM Comments comments ()
Cardinal TImothy Dolan
 
A number of distinguished speakers including Cardinal Timothy Dolan descended on the Steubenville youth conference in New York earlier this month to speak to 2,000 young people about the Catholic faith.
 
 
The youth were encouraged to live their faith openly and to be prepared to make more difficult decisions as they get older, including whether or not to have a relationship with God. They were also warned against cherry-picking their faith in order to try and justify their behaviour.
 
 
 

Struck by a Beautiful Faith

Posted on August 10, 2015 at 7:45 AM Comments comments ()
GK Chesterton's powerful quote could be our inspiration
 
I had cause to be in a Catholic secondary school recently and was immediately struck by the show of faith in the school’s main halls.  Numerous crucifixes hung from the walls and there were posters detailing the Beatitudes and other teachings of the Catholic faith.
 
 
And perhaps the most striking thing about all of this was simply the incredible beauty of our faith and how lucky and blessed we are to have it.  As I looked up at the multitude of posters I realised that they were all carrying very similar messages.  Indeed, they often repeated the same words over and over again.  Words like love, compassion, forgiveness, humility, service, honesty, peace and friendship, to name a few.
 
 
It immediately struck me that we are incredibly lucky to have a faith with these values, especially when you set it against the backdrop of the modern, relativist age where the constant message from the multitude of media outlets is so often about bettering yourself and being happy with your own life.  The values set out on these school walls are the complete opposite of this modern relativist ideology.  These values challenge and encourage people to think of others and to bring the message of Christ to the world; a message of love, compassion, forgiveness, humility, service, honesty, peace and friendship.  These are all values that we, as Catholic Christians, are expected to evidence each and every day of our lives.
 
 
If we cannot hold these values close to our hearts and be proper witnesses to them by our words and deeds, how then can others possibly be convinced that it is the right and proper way to live? 
 
 
And this is where prayer can be our help. It is through prayer that we can receive the graces to bring Christ’s message, and the beautiful faith which he has entrusted to us, to others.  This prayer can take many forms: one-to-one time with Jesus, a Rosary, reading Scripture or the Catechism, reading or listening to the liturgy of the hours, attending the sacrament of Confession, and of course Holy Mass. 
 
 
There is an incredible richness to our faith; a richness we would all do well to explore as much as we possibly can.  By immersing ourselves in our faith we are learning the way to love, the way to forgive, and the way to peace.  Only Jesus Christ can deliver true peace to our troubled world.  And what better way for us to partake in that mission than to bring to the world the true beauty of Christ’s very own Church. 
 
 
Brother and sisters, our faith is something beautiful, something incredible.  It is a faith that simply must be shared.  Consider those values stuck to the wall of that secondary school: love, compassion, forgiveness, humility, service, honesty, peace, and friendship.  Aren’t they the complete opposite of all the heartache we witness in our world today; the wars and terrorism, the unnecessary deaths of innocent children, the poverty, the greed, the envy and the harmful gossip? 
 
 
Our faith is everything the world is not.  It is love, it is compassion, it is forgiving, and it is peaceful.  Let us make sure the world knows the truth of our faith. Let us immerse ourselves in the true beauty of our faith and the undying love of Jesus Christ, and never be afraid to let it shine out of us like a beacon of hope for the world.  Go on, get out there and be Catholic!  Let’s move the world!

Why does the Catholic Church not ordain women as priests? Here's seven good reasons why not...

Posted on July 3, 2015 at 11:07 AM Comments comments ()
Catholic Answers' director of apologetics Tim Staples considers the question of women priests in the Catholic Church and reveals seven reasons why this is not possible.
 
The seven reasons are:
 
1. The Church has definitively declared it
 
2. The Church's constant Tradition for 2,000 years cannot err
 
3. The attitude of Christ
 
4. The practice of the Apostles
 
5. The permanent value of the attitude of Jesus Christ and the Apostles
 
6. The ministerial priesthood in the light of the mystery of Christ
 
7. The ministerial priesthood as illustrated by the mystery of the Church
 
 
Click this link to read the full article: http://www.catholic.com/blog/tim-staples/call-no-woman-father
 

New Education Guidance on Same-Sex Marriage Seeks to Protect Religious Views

Posted on February 19, 2015 at 7:22 AM Comments comments ()
 
New Equality and Human Rights Commission guidance on how same-sex marriage should be taught in schools appears to offer protection to those who believe that marriage should only be between one man and one woman.
 
The guidance makes the following important points:
 
No school, or individual teacher, is under a duty to support, promote or endorse marriage of same sex couples.
 
Teachers and other school staff, parents and pupils are all free to hold personal opinions on the marriage of same sex couples, including a view that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. The Scottish Government considers the belief that marriage can only be between a man and a woman is a belief worthy of respect in a democratic society.
 
Individuals are free to express positive or negative views about the marriage of same sex couples.
 
This guidance must be viewed as something positive for those people who believe only in natural marriage; that is marriage between one man and one woman.  We as Catholics are among those people and this document sets a fairly positive tone for our Catholic schools and the freedom of our educators and pupils to express concern about other forms of marriage. 
 
The most important thing for our schools on the subject of marriage is that they promote marriage between one man and one woman and that this is put forward as the only form of marriage revealed by God and instituted by Christ as a Sacrament.  And while schools will still need to refer to the availability of same-sex marriage as provided under the new legislation, the ability of educators to promote the Church's view at the expense of other forms of marriage not accepted by the Church is not hindered.
 
That said, the Church continues to be a welcoming place for all people and accepts that many people have same-sex attraction.  And while detractors may suggest that the Church is not a welcoming place for all because it believes sexual relations between people of the same sex to be sinful, we must remember that sexual relations outside of marriage between heterosexual couples is similarly sinful as are acts of sexual self-gratification.  The Church teaches that there are two essential elements to marriage; the unitive aspect which is the complete giving of one to the other, and the procreative aspect of being open to the possibility of new life.  
 
Remember, the Church is a hospital for sinners not a club for saints.  A fundamental role of the Church is to bring people to Christ through the process of reconciliation, and this is a gift open to all.   
 
To read the full ECHR Guidance document, click this link: http://scotlandformarriage.org/downloads/ehrc_education_guidance_highlighted.pdf
 
 

Abstinence the way forward for African nations in fight against AIDS

Posted on February 3, 2015 at 11:40 AM Comments comments ()
 
In the face of increased sexualisation and increased use of contraception across the world, some African nations are resorting to more traditional means of disease control.
 
In 2002, a Harvard University Study revealed how the east African nation of Uganda managed to significantly decrease the number of people suffering from the AIDS virus, and all because of abstinence.
 
The country started a programme in the late 1980's aimed at tackling AIDS through abstinence and the preservation of sexual relations for marriage.  The results were astounding.  By 2001, only 6.2% of pregnant women were infected with the virus.  This compared to 21.2% when the program started in the late 80's.
 
Compare this to other nations which sought to tackle the AIDS crisis by use of contraception.  In Botswana for example, where condoms were promoted as the answer to the AIDS crisis, 38% of pregnant women were found to be infected in 2001.  The success rate of contraception, as you would expect, lags miles behind the success rate of abstinence.
 
More recently, in Ghana, the Salesian movement (a Catholic movement founded by St John Bosco) has sought to encourage young people to live chaste lives and commit to abstinence until marriage.  And, despite what many western governments, secular groups and the media may say, the young people of Ghana are apparently hungry to become involved.  A Nigerian woman who took part in a recent Catholic Answers podcast, said that on a recent visit to Ghana to promote this project she was inundated with requests for pledge cards so that the youngsters could commit to live a chaste life.  It would appear that these young people are desperate to achieve a higher level of living rather than simply subscribing to western secular ways of 'putting a plaster on the problem'.
 
All of this is of course contrary to the contraception programme being supported by the United Nations and some western governments.  Increased contraception, it would seem, is the western world's way of alleviating hunger and controlling population in Africa.  This coupled with Melinda Gates (wife of Bill Gates) pledging $4.5 billion for contraception reveals just how shallow the west can be when it comes to issues of poverty, disease and deprivation in other countries.  Just spend a whole load of money on a whole load of condoms and that will soon fix it.  Fools.
 
As Patrick Coffin, host on Catholic Answers radio so eloquently put it: 'it's more a case of mouths to feed than hearts to love.'
 
  

The Bank of Fatherhood: Securing Eternal Life for our Children

Posted on January 29, 2015 at 9:21 AM Comments comments ()
Pope Francis wants more good fathers
 
Pope Francis, in his weekly general audience, has called on fathers to spend more time with their families.
 
The Pope's words are critically important to the future of the family and indeed the future of our society.  The role of fathers has gradually been chipped away in recent years, particularly in western secular societies where the role of father is seen as something that is no longer necessarily critical to the development of children.
 
This degrading of fatherhood has also been keenly felt within Christianity and Catholicism where a lack of strong fathers and leaders in faith has led to a significant decline in Church attendances.  Young people often no longer have an example of faith in their home to guide them in the ways of faith and to show them how to live a good, holy life.  While this isn't always the case - indeed many fathers and mothers provide a beautiful example of how to live a life of faith - there can be little doubt that a father with no keen interest in the faith could lead children to seek something other than God.
 
In addition to a weak faith, the absence of a father due to other commitements such as work only exacerbates the problem.  And while this is often inevitable because of a need to ensure the family can eat and have a roof over their head, it doesn't always need to be the case.
 
Pope Francis, who refers to this absence as 'the crisis of fatherhood', said that: “without father figures, young people often feel ‘orphaned’, left adrift at a critical moment in their growth and development." 
He then called on fathers to be more responsible for their children, saying that fathers are necessaary as examples and guides for our children in wisdom and virtue.
 
The Pope then invited all people to ask Jesus "to deepen and renew our appreciation of fatherhood and to raise up good fathers for the benefit of our families, our Church and our world."
 
The importance of fatherhood stretches way beyond the four walls of our family home.  It is a fundamental part of our society.  God gave us all a father and a mother.  It is His will that every child have a father and a mother because both bring different qualities to the family unit.  There is a great need today for strong fathers, particularly in the Catholic Church.  It is the father who must lead his family in faith and all for the greater glory of God.  It is God who has entrusted fathers with this crucially important role and it is God who has entrusted fathers with the care of His very own children. 
 
For all fathers, consider yourself to be a savings account into which God has deposited something very, very precious and valuable.  That precious thing is a child.  And while God delights in that child at the very moment He entrusts them to your care, He wants some interest on His investment.  He wants a child that will follow the ways of Christ, living a life of love, mercy and compassion for every human being; a life that is consistent with His Commandments; a life that glorifies Him and gives Him praise at every turn.  These are just some of the qualities God wants to see in each of us.  This is the kind of interest God wants in return for the gift of a beautiful little child.  The role of the parent is to build up that interest as much as possible by setting an example by which that child can live a life of love and ultimately enter into the glory of Heaven to be reunited with the Father of all Fathers.
 

Commandments for how to behave online and on social media

Posted on January 23, 2015 at 9:36 AM Comments comments ()
 
The Scottish Catholic Education Service (SCES) has produced a new poster detailing the “10 Commandments for Proclaiming theJoy of the Gospel on-line”.  In what appears to be a spin-off from Pope Francis encyclical letter, Evangelii Gaudium (the Joy of the Gospel),SCES is encouraging young people to behave responsibly, and in a manner befitting of their Catholic faith, whilst they use the internet and social media. The poster will be officially launched during Catholic Education Week in February.
 
The SCES website states: ‘To encourage responsible and respectful use of the Internet for "Proclaiming the Joy of the Gospel", the Scottish Catholic Education Service (SCES) has produced a poster to illustrate the "10 Commandments for Proclaiming the Joy of the Gospel on-line". It is hoped that these will encourage both young people and adults to use the opportunity provided by social media to tell the 'Good News' of Christ.’’
 
The commandments, produced by Martin McMahon of Taylor High School in Motherwell, are as follows:
 
1.      Be positive and joyful.  Offer ‘digital smiles’ and have a sense of humour.  As Pope Francis says, no funeral faces or sourpusses.
 
2.      Never bear false witness on the internet. Never ‘like’ a lie.
 
3.      Fill the internet with love.  Seek to include a sense of solidarity with others in the world.
 
4.      Avoid aggression and ‘preachiness’ online.  Try not to be judgmental.  Instead try Pope Francis’s approach of tenderness.
 
5.      Have a broad back when criticisms and insults are made.  When possible, gently correct.
 
6.      Pray in the digital world!  Establish sacred spaces, opportunities for stillness, reflection and meditation online.
 
7.      The Church has always been about gathering.  Create connections and build community.  Share posts that have a powerful Gospel witness.
 
8.      Promote online behaviours that keep everyone safe.  Use the internet responsibly.
 
9.      Respect your dignity and the dignity of others in all that you do online.
 
10.  The internet has the power and the potential to bear witness – share the Good News online.
 
While the Ten Commandments given to us by God can never be replaced nor replicated, these commandments for appropriate online behaviour should definitely be encouraged among our young people.  And while SCES should be applauded for their efforts to promote these online commandments, it will ultimately be down to parents and families of young people to make sure that these commandments are followed. 
 
Perhaps it would be useful for us to all consider having a copy of these commandments alongside the Ten Commandments of God somewhere in our home to remind our children, and indeed ourselves, of how we should behave on the internet and social media as well as how we should make best use of it.

STOP PRESS! Pope Francis accepts Evolution and Big Bang Theory!

Posted on October 28, 2014 at 1:05 PM Comments comments ()
Well okay, so the Catholic Church has never disputed the process of evolution (provided it is not based on a materialistic and atheistic foundation) and a Belgian Catholic priest by the name of Georges Lemaitre actually penned the Big Bang Theory.  But hey, why let the facts spoil a sensational headline that's just perfectly designed to get the secular juices flowing and make the Catholic Church look like it called it wrong?
 
Here is exactly what Pope Francis had to say on 'humanity in creation' (which was the proper title of his talk at the plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences):
 
“God and Christ walk with us and are also present in nature. When we read in Genesis the account of Creation, we risk imagining God as a magus, with a magic wand able to make everything. But it is not so. He created beings and allowed them to develop according to the internal laws that He gave to each one, so that they were able to develop and to arrive and their fullness of being. He gave autonomy to the beings of the Universe at the same time at which he assured them of his continuous presence, giving being to every reality. And so creation continued for centuries and centuries, millennia and millennia, until it became which we know today, precisely because God is not a demiurge or a conjurer, but the Creator who gives being to all things. The beginning of the world is not the work of chaos that owes its origin to another, but derives directly from a supreme Origin that creates out of love. The Big Bang, which nowadays is posited as the origin of the world, does not contradict the divine act of creating, but rather requires it. The evolution of nature does not contrast with the notion of Creation, as evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve”.
 
The Pope continued, “With regard to man, instead, there is a change and something new. When, on the sixth day of the account in Genesis, man is created, God gives the human being another autonomy, an autonomy that is different to that of nature, which is freedom. And he tells man to name everything and to go ahead through history. This makes him responsible for creation, so that he might dominate it in order to develop it until the end of time. Therefore the scientist, and above all the Christian scientist, must adopt the approach of posing questions regarding the future of humanity and of the earth, and, of being free and responsible, helping to prepare it and preserve it, to eliminate risks to the environment of both a natural and human nature. But, at the same time, the scientist must be motivated by the confidence that nature hides, in her evolutionary mechanisms, potentialities for intelligence and freedom to discover and realise, to achieve the development that is in the plan of the Creator. So, while limited, the action of humanity is part of God's power and is able to build a world suited to his dual corporal and spiritual life; to build a human world for all human beings and not for a group or a class of privileged persons. This hope and trust in God, the Creator of nature, and in the capacity of the human spirit can offer the researcher a new energy and profound serenity. But it is also true that the action of humanity – when freedom becomes autonomy – which is not freedom, but autonomy – destroys creation and man takes the place of the Creator. And this is the grave sin against God the Creator”.
 
The net effect of the Pope's words?  A simple reinforcing of long-held Catholic belief.  It is not news that the Catholic Church accepts the Big Bang Theory.  Nor is it news that the Church accepts the role of evolution in our world.
 
Perhaps now would be a good time for the mainstream media and others who are ignorant of Catholic teaching to take a crash course in Church teaching on these very issues.  I recommend the link, below, which will take you to an excellent article at Catholic Answers....
 
 
 
Some may also be interested to read more on the Vatican Observatory, one of the oldest astronomical research institutions in the world.  You can find out more by clicking this link which will take you to the Vatican Observatory website:
 
 

Views of school parents sought ahead of Scottish Education seminar

Posted on May 30, 2014 at 9:07 AM Comments comments ()
The Scottish Catholic Observer has today published an article on an up and coming seminar on the subject of education and organisers are looking for parents of schoolchildren to complete a survey to ensure parents' views have an impact.
 
Catholic education is of vital importance to our children and the wider community and parents are urged to take a few moments to complete the survey, drafted by the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, before the seminar on 14th June at the Xavier Centre, Carfin. 
 
Fill out the survey by clicking this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NC3BR5D
 
There are also places available at the seminar and anyone wishing to attend should contact Julie McGinness at [email protected] or call 0141 556 4727.

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