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Scots Catholic Blog
|Posted on October 6, 2016 at 6:03 AM||comments ()|
Pope Francis has spoken out against the theory of gender, something he has stated as being the “great enemy of marriage today”. The pope, speaking to a group of religious men and women in Tbilisi, Georgia, said: “Today, there is a global war trying to destroy marriage…they don’t destroy it with weapons, but with ideas. It’s certain ideological ways of thinking that are destroying it…we have to defend ourselves from ideological colonisation.”
The pontiff has often spoken about ideological colonisation and gender theory and the dangers they pose to society. The ideological colonisation he refers to is primarily to do with developed countries – mainly in the West – imposing their ideas and values into developing nations and potentially withholding aid where those ideas and values are resisted. Gender theory, on the other hand, is what an individual person believes himself or herself to be and it may not necessarily correspond with their biological sex. Indeed, it may even be non-binary; that is, neither male nor female.
The next day, during an in-flight press conference on his way home to Rome, the pope spoke once more about gender theory and expressed deep concern about “teaching in school about this [gender theory], to change mentalities.” This, he says, “is what I call ideological colonisation.”
He then spoke more specifically about homosexuality and the pastoral call of the Church with regard to people who experience same-sex attraction. He said: “First of all, I’ve accompanied in my life as a priest, a bishop, and even as pope, people with homosexual tendencies or even homosexual practices, I’ve led them closer to the Lord.” He called on all people within the Church to accompany people in such situations “as Jesus accompanies” because “when a person who has this condition gets in front of Jesus, Jesus won’t say ‘leave because you’re homosexual.’”
The pope was, however, cautious about the more liberal headlines that have been attributed to him in terms of a possibly softer Church attitude towards homosexual acts when he said: “I want to be clear, this is a problem of morals. It’s a problem. It’s a human problem that has to be resolved as it can, always with God’s mercy.”
|Posted on April 26, 2016 at 9:03 AM||comments ()|
Pope Francis has given a lesson in love and freedom during his homily at the Jubilee Mass for Young People in Rome.
The Pope, speaking to thousands of youth in St Peter’s Square, said that Jesus himself declared that Christians would be known “by the way they love one another.” The Pope continued saying, “love, in other words, is the Christian’s identity card.”
The Pope then tackled the meaning of love, stating that love is something you give. He also added: “it [love] is caring for others, respecting them, protecting them, and waiting for them.”
Francis then challenged the young people on the true meaning of freedom, stating that “freedom is not the ability to simply do what I want. This makes us self-centred and aloof.”
“Freedom” he said “is the gift of being able to choose the good: this is true freedom. The free person is the one who chooses what is good, what is pleasing to God, even if it requires effort, even if it is not easy.”
He then called on the young people to grow in love and told them how they could do this: “the secret, once again, is the Lord: Jesus gives us himself in the Mass, he offers us forgiveness and peace in Confession.”
The Pope’s call to the young people can be summed up nicely in the term ‘free love’. He wants Christians to give themselves freely to others in love, and he wants us to choose to do this as it is pleasing to God. He then tells us that the nourishment we need for this task can be found in the Holy Mass and in the Sacrament of Confession.
Let us be under no illusions. Our mission as Christians is to spread the love of Christ throughout the world. We must let his Truth be known to all people and we must deliver this Truth in a spirit of love; a love that is freely given and that always has the other person’s best interests at its core. This message is not just for our young, but for all Christian people.
The Christian message is one of great hope, mercy and peace for all people. But, above all, it is a message of love.
Click this link for the full text of Pope Francis’ homily: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-homily-at-jubilee-mass-for-teens/
|Posted on March 22, 2016 at 1:09 PM||comments ()|
From today’s Gospel:
‘Simon Peter said, ‘Lord, where are you going?’ Jesus replied, ‘Where I am going you cannot follow me now; you will follow me later.’ Peter said to him, ‘Why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’ ‘Lay down your life for me?’ answered Jesus. ‘I tell you most solemnly, before the cock crows you will have disowned me three times.’’
This small passage from today’s Gospel follows on nicely from our reflection on yesterday’s Gospel when we compared the simple love Mary had for Jesus in needing to be close to him with Martha’s need to be on the go. In being so preoccupied Martha missed out on precious quality time with Jesus, a mistake Mary was not prepared to make.
And today we have Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples, claiming that he would lay down his life for Jesus. That, you would think, is a step up from the love shown by Mary. And it is. And Peter would, of course, eventually become a martyr for Christ in Rome. But for now Jesus has an unfortunate surprise for Peter. He tells him that he is going to deny him. Imagine your best friend, or even your spouse, telling you that they know you will betray them in some way. You, like Peter, would be very disappointed to hear such news! But then don’t we betray people every day, denying their true value as fellow human beings and children of God? Don’t we gossip, complain and criticise other people behind their back on a regular basis? These are human weaknesses and no human is exempt from them. Even St Peter fell into this trap! So, in that sense, we are in good company.
But, like St Peter, we are called to greater things. We are called to overcome our human weakness and realise the hurt caused by some of our actions. How can we forget the look on Peter’s face in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of The Christ when he heard the cock crow? How can we forget the way he then rushed to the feet of Mary and sobbed uncontrollably as he clung to her garment, realising how foolish and weak he had been?
We are all capable of moments of weakness in our lives, even to the point of mistreating or even denying those most precious to us. The next time you fall into this trap look for the comforting arms of your mother Mary, just as Peter did, and seek reconciliation with Jesus in the Sacrament of Confession. This is how we can overcome our weakness and become saints. If Peter can do it, so can we.
|Posted on March 11, 2016 at 12:03 PM||comments ()|
Sunday’s Gospel (John 8:1-11):
‘Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At daybreak he appeared in the Temple again; and as all the people came to him, he sat down and began to teach them.
The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman along who had been caught committing adultery; and making her stand there in full view of everybody, they said to Jesus, ‘Master, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery, and Moses has ordered us in the Law to condemn women like this to death by stoning. What have you to say?’ They asked him this as a test, looking for something to use against him. But Jesus bent down and started writing on the ground with his finger. As they persisted with their question, he looked up and said, ‘If there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Then he bent down and wrote on the ground again. When they heard this they went away one by one, beginning with the eldest, until Jesus was left alone with the woman, who remained standing there. He looked up and said, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir’ she replied. ‘Neither do I condemn you,’ said Jesus ‘go away, and do not sin any more.’’
In the Jubilee Year of Mercy this particular passage of scripture stands out more than most. It is a perfect example of the new world order that Jesus seeks to achieve. It is a world of mercy, where no sin is incapable of forgiveness. It is a world where hate, grudges, complaints and criticism reign no more.
What Jesus wrote in the sand is a mystery. But his message is abundantly clear. We must be careful not to judge and condemn the goodness or otherwise of people when we ourselves are in a sinful state. If we are aware of someone acting contrary to the Gospel we are called to be like Jesus and do two things. First, we are called to show kindness, mercy and compassion and to put our arm around the person to show them that they are loved. Second, we are called to encourage them to seek the forgiveness of God, to live in accordance with the Gospel, and to refrain from committing sin again.
This is precisely how things are played out when we go to Confession. Jesus welcomes us, puts his loving arms around us and forgives our sins. He then asks us to go and sin no more. And while we must take Jesus’ call to refrain from further sin very seriously, he understands our weaknesses and the difficulties and struggles we experience in our world. That is why he welcomes us again and again in Confession. He never tires of pouring out his forgiveness. He just needs us to be willing to make the effort to go to him.
|Posted on October 16, 2015 at 9:31 AM||comments ()|
This guy really, really loves you!
Sunday’s Second Reading (Hebrews 4:14-16):
'Since in Jesus, the Son of God, we have the supreme high priest who has gone through to the highest heaven, we must never let go of the faith that we have professed. For it is not as if we had a high priest who was incapable of feeling our weaknesses with us; but we have one who has been tempted in every way that we are, though he is without sin.
Let us be confident, then, in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from him and find grace when we are in need of help.'
It’s hard to admit that we did wrong and to apologise to the person we have wronged. It’s also hard to ask other people for help. But while this may be the case in our day-to-day dealings with the average joe on the street, this needn’t be the case when it comes to Jesus. St Paul, in this letter to the Hebrews, is urging us to be confident when we approach Christ for forgiveness and help.
You see, we aren’t dealing with your run-of-the-mill human being when it comes to Jesus. We are dealing with a God brimming with infinite mercy and compassion. He is the Creator of all things and He loves you like nobody else does. There is no hidden agenda, no points to be scored, and no harsh judgements. He desires and wants to forgive you and help you in every which way possible. He is a God who has experienced the temptations, trials and troubles of every day life just like us, so He knows how difficult life can be.
He is the ultimate best friend and he will always be there for us when we need him. Can you spare five minutes today to let him show you just how much he loves you and how much you matter to him? Call out to him and he will respond.
|Posted on September 29, 2015 at 8:55 AM||comments ()|
Following Jesus will satisfy the longings of our heart
First Reading (Daniel 7:9-10,13-14):
'As I watched:
Thrones were set in place
and one of great age took his seat.
His robe was white as snow,
the hair of his head as pure as wool.
His throne was a blaze of flames,
its wheels were a burning fire.
A stream of fire poured out,
issuing from his presence.
A thousand thousand waited on him,
ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
A court was held
and the books were opened.
And I saw, coming on the clouds of heaven,
one like a son of man.
He came to the one of great age
and was led into his presence.
On him was conferred sovereignty,
glory and kingship,
and men of all peoples, nations and languages became his servants.
His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty
which shall never pass away,
nor will his empire ever be destroyed.'
There have been many interpretations of this passage through the years and two of the most common are that the passage relates to either Christ’s Ascension to Heaven or to his Second Coming. The Church, through the Catechism, believes that the latter part of the passage is referring to Christ’s Ascension.
But whatever way this passage is interpreted there can be absolutely no doubt about the incredible power and majesty of that which it reveals. It simply never fails to knock me sideways! It is a glimpse of the reality of Heaven and it is a further glimpse of the reality of God beyond that which we have already learned in the person of Jesus Christ. I suppose the big question for us is: are we ready to be a part of it all?
I always think that this passage clears some of the mist which comes from cynical views of the Church, especially when it comes to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the reality of Purgatory. Many people don’t see a need for the forgiveness of sins, yet when we read this passage we can see that it makes complete sense to be completely clean and free of all sin before we are graced with the presence of God. The enormity of being in the presence of God is something we will only appreciate if we are granted the grace to experience it. But, at the end of the day, we have an inherent need to experience it because it is that moment, and that moment alone, which will satisfy all the desires and longings of our heart.
We roam around the world endlessly seeking that which will completely satisfy our hearts; be it in relationships, through material goods, or perhaps in traveling to other parts of the globe. But we are never truly satisfied. Our hearts always seem to be longing for something else, no matter what we may achieve or accomplish in life. And the truth is, we will never be completely satisfied, not until we are face to face with God. For God, who created each one of us, has etched in our hearts a desire to return to Him.
Our challenge, should we accept it, is to acknowledge God’s desire for us to return to Him and to follow that path laid down by Jesus Christ. For it is the way of Christ that will lead us home.
|Posted on September 18, 2015 at 7:22 AM||comments ()|
We must take the narrow path to Christ
Today’s First Reading (1 Timothy 6:2-12):
‘This is what you are to teach the brothers to believe and persuade them to do. Anyone who teaches anything different, and does not keep to the sound teaching which is that of our Lord Jesus Christ, the doctrine which is in accordance with true religion, is simply ignorant and must be full of self-conceit – with a craze for questioning everything and arguing about words. All that can come of this is jealousy, contention, abuse and wicked mistrust of one another; and unending disputes by people who are neither rational nor informed and imagine that religion is a way of making a profit. Religion, of course, does bring large profits, but only to those who are content with what they have. We brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it; but as long as we have food and clothing, let us be content with that. People who long to be rich are a prey to temptation; they get trapped into all sorts of foolish and dangerous ambitions which eventually plunge them into ruin and destruction. ‘The love of money is the root of all evils’ and there are some who, pursuing it, have wandered away from the faith, and so given their souls any number of fatal wounds.
But, as a man dedicated to God, you must avoid all that. You must aim to be saintly and religious, filled with faith and love, patient and gentle. Fight the good fight of the faith and win for yourself the eternal life to which you were called when you made your profession and spoke up for the truth in front of many witnesses.’
It’s hard for Catholic people to remain true to Jesus Christ and the Traditions of the Catholic Church, especially in this day and age when religion is often frowned upon for one reason or another. Yet that doesn’t make it any less true or relevant.
St Paul’s letter to Timothy encourages us to remain true to Christ and his teaching and to remain true to the teaching of the Church he himself founded; the Roman Catholic Church which continues to exist to this very day.
St Paul warns us about those who stray from this teaching, and in true St Paul style, he doesn’t mince his words! He says that those who do things differently to that taught by Christ and his Church are “simply ignorant and must be full of self-conceit – with a craze for questioning everything and arguing about words.” Isn’t it interesting that St Paul should specifically refer to arguments about words? Consider the abortion debate and how pro-choice activists often try to use words and phrases to argue that abortion is okay. They use (albeit wrongly) terms such as ‘embryo’, ‘foetus’, ‘collection of cells’ and 'personhood' to try to make their point. Consider how Pope Francis’ words are so often used against him by those who misinterpret him or those who fail to understand his bigger message. Other examples of this can be found in debates around contraception and the redefinition of marriage.
The tragedy of all this is that Catholic people, including myself, continually stray from Christ’s teaching and the teaching of his Church. I fall into the traps of the secular relativist society and I become that ignorant person full of self-conceit that St Paul is referring to. But thankfully Christ and his Church give me the Sacrament of Reconciliation where I can go and be forgiven for straying from the Truth.
At the end of the day, there will be many times in our lives when we will stray from the right path. But the key is to turn back, as the prodigal son did, into the loving arms of the Father. While we may turn our back on Him there will never be a time when He turns His back on us. He is always standing there, watching and waiting for us to return; to return to the path of Truth which He himself created when He gave us His only Son and gave us His Church.
Brother and sisters, we must do as St Paul says and “Fight the good fight of the faith” by speaking up for the truth with love, patience and gentleness before all people, even when it makes us feel a little uncomfortable. Remember, it is unlikely we will ever be made to feel as uncomfortable as the early disciples who suffered immeasurable pain, including death, in standing up for the Truth.
And even though we may well feel a little uncomfortable we must remember that we were not made for this world; that our destiny is in Heaven to be one with the Father, with Christ our Saviour, our Blessed Mother Mary, and with all the Saints and Angels. Surely that is worth fighting for?
|Posted on September 11, 2015 at 12:20 PM||comments ()|
It’s a pretty basic point: you can’t be Christian unless you are prepared to forgive. It’s something that is abundantly clear in Christ’s teaching and we can be left in no doubt that we are all expected to forgive one another if we are to be true to Jesus.
Yet this call is seemingly never put into practice. We are often prepared to talk the talk when it comes to forgiveness, but we are rarely prepared to walk the walk. It is in this sense that the Pope’s words are timely. As Christians we undoubtedly need to be reminded of Christ’s call to forgive all people, even when they have committed the worst crimes and atrocities against us. This is, of course, very hard for us. That is not in doubt. But then Christian living is a challenge! Living as a Christian goes against the grain of modern society and modern living. It requires us to protect life from conception until natural death, it requires us to love all people without exception, and it requires us to forgive no matter what.
As the pope says: “If you can’t forgive, you are not a Christian. You may be a good man, a good woman….but you are not doing what our Lord did. What’s more, if you can’t forgive, you cannot receive the peace of the Lord. And every day when we pray the ‘Our Father’: forgive us as we have forgiven those….it is a condition.”
The pope also urged priests to make sure they are merciful otherwise they shouldn’t be hearing Confession. He said: “If you are a priest and you can’t manage to be merciful, tell your bishop who will give you a job in administration, but please don’t go into the confessional box! A priest who is not merciful does a lot of harm in the confessional box!”
He then encouraged more humility among Christians saying: “Which of us can say this, that the other person is more of a sinner than me? None of us can say this! Only our Lord knows this.”
Put bluntly, there should be nothing that is incapable of forgiveness, and there should be no person who is not entitled to receive our forgiveness.
Join in the First Saturday Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and Receive the Graces Necessary for Salvation
|Posted on June 5, 2015 at 7:32 AM||comments ()|
The First Saturday Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is an incredibly rich, and ultimately rewarding, devotion to Our Blessed Mother Mary.
Please try to participate in this most incredible act of devotion and allow Jesus to pour his abundant graces upon you.
Confessing our Sins and Keeping God’s Commandments: the Key to Perfection (Dwelling on the Word of God, Sunday 19th April 2015)
|Posted on April 17, 2015 at 4:29 AM||comments ()|
From Sunday’s First Reading (Acts 3:13-15,17-19):
‘Now you must repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out.’
Peter, in the short passage from Sunday’s first reading, gives a clear and incredibly simple instruction to the people who put Christ to death. He tells them to repent of their sins and turn to God; and the result of this according to Peter? Their sins will no longer exist. It’s very simple stuff! It's also incredibly merciful when you consider what the people did to Jesus; how they ridiculed him, abused him, spat on him and beat him. Yet here is one of Jesus' most trusted friends telling them that all is forgiven, if they just say they are sorry.
But is there anything more we can add to this instruction from Peter? Let’s consider Sunday’s second reading from St John:
Sunday’s Second Reading (1 John 2:1-5):
‘I am writing this, my children,
to stop you sinning;
but if anyone should sin,
we have our advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ, who is just;
he is the sacrifice that takes our sins away,
and not only ours,
but the whole world’s.
We can be sure that we know God
only by keeping his commandments.
Anyone who says, ‘I know him’,
and does not keep his commandments,
is a liar,
refusing to admit the truth.
But when anyone does obey what he has said,
God’s love comes to perfection in him.’
Here John puts a little more meat on the bones of Peter’s instruction to repent and turn to God. He gives a similar instruction to turn to Christ if we should sin. But it is the next part which is the challenge and it is along similar lines to Jesus’ call to the woman at the well to “go and sin no more”. Here John the Evangelist tells us that we must keep God’s Commandments, and he also states that keeping God’s Commandments is the only way to ‘know God’. But what does it mean to ‘know God’? The clue is in the last sentence of the passage. God’s love will come to perfection in us if we keep His Commandments; that is, the perfect love of God will shine through us and out of us to the world if we do as He says. We will become beacons of love, mercy, peace and hope for all.
This is in keeping with the recent Papal Bull of Indiction where Pope Francis revealed a jubilee Year of Mercy from 8 December 2015 (the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception). Our call is to go out to the world and to show mercy to everyone. No exceptions. But in order to be a merciful people we first need to receive God’s mercy and we must keep His Commandments. Only if our own house is in order will we be in a fit and proper state to administer to others. Think of a doctor or a lawyer. Professionals in these fields need to satisfy annual training requirements and receive an annual certificate authenticating their ability to practice. If they don’t fulfil these requirements they are not considered to be fit and proper persons with respect to their work and they cannot diagnose patients’ ills or advise clients on legal problems. They are essentially deemed unfit and incapable of carrying out their job.
And so it is with God. Unless we first seek His forgiveness for our own wrongdoings and thereafter keep His Commandments, we are deemed unfit to administer to those around us. Only God gives us true love, true mercy, true peace and true hope. And if we want to care for those around us and give them a real and proper love, unconditional mercy, perfect peace and a sure and certain hope, we must seek God in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, because it is in that Sacrament where we will find all of these things and much more besides. And it is this Sacrament which gives us the graces we need to go forth into the world with God’s Commandments firmly in heart and mind, to bring God’s perfect love, mercy, peace and hope to all people. No exceptions.