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Scots Catholic Blog
|Posted on March 4, 2016 at 12:22 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted on March 4, 2016 at 12:02 PM||comments (0)|
Do you speak openly about your faith to others? Are you not afraid to be frank about how your religion shapes your moral code? Do you even go as far as to try to bring others round to your way of thinking on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter?
In the New Evangelisation just a few years back, Pope Benedict XVI encouraged us to get out into the world to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ. And he wanted us to use every available platform at our disposal in order to do this. He used the humble but powerful image of a mustard seed from the Gospel, suggesting that if used effectively a small seed of faith has the potential to bring people to God. His words were: "I have a mustard seed, and I'm not afraid to use it". In today’s age we are blessed to have social media forums like Facebook to speak more openly about our faith and to tap into a seemingly infinite knowledge base. While social media can often be a curse there is no doubt it has opened up new avenues of opportunity for spreading the Gospel.
Yet, while some people seem content to do this, many more are not. In today’s secular relativist world it is undoubtedly a big challenge for people to spread their faith by means of social media. There is fear of criticism and mocking. There is also fear of offending people or of compromising long-held friendships. It is a significant problem for our faith and our Church. And it is an even bigger problem for Jesus.
While new age beliefs are thrust onto social media at an astounding rate, somehow managing to gather almost unanimous support in the process, Jesus is left to feed off the few scraps that are left. People would rather post and read quotes about being true to oneself and looking after number one rather than the horrific thought of making love of God and neighbour our priority. Quotes from famous authors or even the Dalai Lama have the potential to be of untold worth, but their value often pales in comparison to the Word of God or quotes from the Saints.
The Christian message is a tough one because it asks us to put ourselves in third place, behind God and all those around us. It also asks us to take up our cross on a daily basis and follow Jesus, accepting the suffering that this will inevitably bring. It also expects us to toe the line on controversial issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. It is, in all respects, a challenge of great proportions. But it is not without its rewards.
And as if this challenge wasn’t difficult enough we are also expected to take Jesus’ message of love and mercy to all people. Not just one or two, but to everyone. Had Jesus not called the Disciples to his side and taught them his message, what hope would there be? Had the Disciples not then taken that message of Jesus to others, what hope would we have today?
You see our faith is a faith of action, full of energy and enthusiasm, drenched in positivity and hope. We can’t just settle for our own evangelisation or the evangelisation of those closest to us. This is not the Christian way. We must be prepared to carry Jesus and his Gospel message to as many people as we possibly can through our life. We need to put Christ at the centre and be his voice to all nations, all peoples. To be truly Christian we must do as the disciples did and carry Jesus and his message to all people, be it on social media, the internet, on the phone, or in person. Had the disciples failed to do this we would have no Jesus in our lives. Imagine how empty that life would be?
Remember, your duty to spread the message of Jesus Christ is not just limited to the people close to you. In fact, it isn’t just limited to the entire human population of our world in your lifetime. Like the disciples, your witness will hopefully carry the message of Christ well into the future so that another 2000 years from now people are talking about the great disciples of this time and how without their powerful witness the faith would be dead.
Jesus told the apostles to "Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature". We need to be disciples for Christ in today's world. Let the future generations rave about your willingness to speak up for Jesus and how you never shied away from openness and honesty about his loving and merciful message. Let your children and grandchildren see you stand up for something that will bring eternal life to millions and millions of people! And remember, you don't need to be a great orator or writer to evangelise. As Pope Francis has said: “We evangelise not with grand words, or complicated concepts, but with the joy of the Gospel, which fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus". So don't worry, let the joy of the Gospel speak for itself!
The phrase ‘do not be afraid’ appears often scripture. It is a strong, powerful message from God about how we must feel when it comes to our faith. In doing Christ’s work and spreading his message we have no need to be afraid. He is on our side!
Here’s the challenge: let your life be a life of evangelisation. Don’t be afraid to share Christ’s message with other people. Let your work reverberate down through the generations where it has the potential to bring millions of lives to eternity with God. Don’t keep good news to yourself. Use your mustard seed. Evangelise.
|Posted on February 22, 2016 at 12:49 PM||comments (0)|
Today’s Gospel (Matthew 16:13-19):
‘When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say he is John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ ‘But you,’ he said ‘who do you say I am?’ Then Simon Peter spoke up, ‘You are the Christ,’ he said ‘the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Simon son of Jonah, you are a happy man! Because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.’’
In 1870, Vatican I declared that this Gospel passage was clear biblical support for the primacy of Peter and successive popes. The Council’s interpretation touches on the following five points of doctrine:
While it may sometimes be tough to be Catholic, especially in today’s secular relativist world which seeks to discredit the Church at every turn, we still have every reason to be joyful. Why? Because this is a Church that was established by the saviour of the world, Jesus Christ! Indeed, it is the only church established by Jesus Christ.
But Jesus didn’t leave it at that. In addition to establishing a church he knew that the Church needed help from above to protect it from evil and to ensure its ongoing safety and wellbeing in protecting the gospel with which it is entrusted. So he promised the Church that he will always be with it, ensuring that the gates of death, deception and destruction will never overcome it. He then proceeds to give his close disciple Simon Peter the authority to make binding decisions with respect to the Church and gives him the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus, in just a few short sentences, establishes the Catholic Church, promises to sustain it, and even gives a mere mortal being the authority to be its chief teacher and chief administrator on earth. So we can say with confidence that through the authority of Peter (often referred to as the ‘Chair of Peter’) and his successors, heaven governs the Church on earth.
So be confident and joyful in your Church, and trust her authority always, for she is being guided by Christ who ensures her safe passage through time to that moment when he will come again on the clouds to be fully united with her. And it is at that moment that our Lord will gather in his chosen people to take them to Paradise to be with him forever.
The keys to Heaven are in the hands of the Church where they have been for the last 2000 years, from the moment Jesus entrusted them to Peter. No matter how tough or testing it may sometimes feel to be part of the Catholic Church there is no denying that she is the surest way to Heaven and to Jesus.
|Posted on February 11, 2016 at 12:19 PM||comments (0)|
Today’s Gospel (Luke 9:22-25):
‘Jesus said to his disciples: ‘The Son of Man is destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and to be put to death, and to be raised up on the third day.’
Then to all he said, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, that man will save it. What gain, then, is it for a man to have won the whole world and to have lost or ruined his very self?’’
Carrying a heavy, burdensome cross every day is a horrible thought, especially when you consider this in the context of a world that rejects suffering at every turn. But Christ tells us that, in order to follow him, we need to do just that; we need to pick up our cross ever morning and carry it with us through the day.
Instead of lamenting our suffering perhaps we need to consider accepting the reality that suffering is essential to God’s plan for salvation. If He is prepared to send his only Son to suffer “grievously” then perhaps He expects a little suffering on our part too. But our suffering need not be in vain. Indeed suffering can bring much good. When we see someone suffer it brings out our loving, caring and compassionate side. As each of us carries our cross through the day we must look to one other with the love and compassion of Christ, offering a hand of help and solidarity. And in this way the love of Christ is able to shine out in our world.
|Posted on February 4, 2016 at 12:37 PM||comments (0)|
Following a recent discussion on our Facebook page I thought it might be useful to draft up a short note on our Catholic faith and homosexuality. It is intentionally brief. For a more in-depth article on the matter please click this link.
Our Catholic faith tells us that homosexual acts are wrong. I think it's hard for us to hear this in such an abrupt way in today's world but this is what we are taught by faith. The reason such acts are wrong is that God has ordered us male and female for the authentic union that is marriage between man and woman and to be completely open to the precious gift of new life. Homosexual acts are not ordered in this way and are thus sinful. There are many sinful acts so this isn't necessarily a singling out of homosexual people. Consider sex outside marriage between a man and a woman, which is also wrong, as is the use of contraception.
It’s absolutely critical to also bear in mind that having same-sex attraction is different to homosexual acts. Mere attraction is not of itself sinful. It is only when these feelings are acted upon where it is deemed to be wrong. This is something that many people get confused about.
I think it's also important to see the positive side of the Church's teaching on homosexuality. It seeks to protect humanity by promoting the love between a man and a woman for the sake of giving new life to the world and raising this new life in marriage, which throughout history has been the best place for kids to thrive. The Church doesn't say a man can't love a man or a woman can't love a woman. Indeed, such a notion is completely contrary to Church teaching. It simply states that it is wrong to interfere with God's clear and natural plan for humanity.
It's not about hating homosexuals as many people wrongly think. It's actually about loving everyone and calling them all to live in accordance with God's plan. That too is a form of love though it is often hard for this society to see it in this modern age of relativism. In my time running the Scots Catholic website and social media accounts I have often been corrected for straying out of line with respect to Church teaching. I have learned so much in terms of my faith and I am grateful to those who have offered their generous help. For me, they are simply doing God’s work. They are doing what Jesus did and are challenging me, and I shouldn’t be afraid to be challenged.
In fairness to anyone who abides by the teaching of Christ and his Church on this matter, they are simply trying to live out their lives as God intended and they are well within their rights to stay true to God no matter what the world may tell them. Jesus and the Apostles were ridiculed and even put to death for going against the tide and remaining faithful to God's teaching. But they remained faithful. And we are called to do the same.
It is also very important to note that there are many, many gay people living out their Catholic faith chastely in the Church. Their call to chastity is no different to the call to chastity of single people in the Church.
And we must remember, the Church is open to all people and she loves all people, especially those of us who sin. That's why I'm a member.
Many people query whether the Church might change its stance with respect to homosexual acts. This is highly unlikely given the wrongs of homosexual acts is contained in scripture, the Word of God. It's also entrenched in nature itself and the ability of man and woman to procreate (something the Church wants to protect for the sake of the family). I appreciate this is a difficult teaching for some, especially in today's society, but the Church can't fit around the whims of society. First and foremost, the Church can't stray from the Truth it has protected for 2000 years. And secondly, it would be impossible to satisfy everyone all of the time. The Church, like Jesus, is here to challenge us with the Truth. It is not here so that we can abuse it for our own ends.
The Church is also here to bring God’s mercy to us through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. There is no sin we can commit that is too great that we can’t reconcile ourselves to God. He loves us like no other.
For more information on reconciling our Catholic faith with same-sex attraction, click this link to go to the Courage RC website.
|Posted on January 29, 2016 at 10:28 AM||comments (0)|
Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 4:21-30):
‘Jesus began to speak in the synagogue: ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’ And he won the approval of all, and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips. They said, ‘This is Joseph’s son, surely?’
But he replied, ‘No doubt you will quote me the saying, “Physician, heal yourself” and tell me, “We have heard all that happened in Capernaum, do the same here in your own countryside.”’ And he went on, ‘I tell you solemnly, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.
‘There were many widows in Israel, I can assure you, in Elijah’s day, when heaven remained shut for three years and six months and a great famine raged throughout the land, but Elijah was not sent to any one of these: he was sent to a widow at Zarephath, a Sidonian town. And in the prophet Elisha’s time there were many lepers in Israel, but none of these was cured, except the Syrian, Naaman.’
When they heard this everyone in the synagogue was enraged. They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of the town; and they took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on, intending to throw him down the cliff, but he slipped through the crowd and walked away.’
Familiarity breeds contempt. It’s quite a sinister saying but it does have some truth in it. We have all felt that rush of excitement at something new and fresh in our lives, be it a new car or TV. But those initial feelings of great excitement soon wear off, replaced by familiarity and a general malaise fuelled by an ever increasing willingness to take the item for granted. What has happened is that the item has become a part of everyday life. It’s just another part of our routine. It’s not really that exciting any more. The car, the TV, the tablet are all just items we pick up when we feel like it and drop when we get bored.
However, doing this with TVs and other material objects is not particularly damaging. It’s when we allow this familiarity and malaise to flow into our relationships with people and into our faith that the real damage is wrought. Consider this: have we grown too familiar with Jesus in our lives? Do we pick him up only when we think we need him, dropping him again when our needs are satisfied? Do we only pray when death or serious illness strikes our families? Do we attend Mass only periodically through the year? Do we go to Confession once in a blue moon or not at all? Do we avoid talking about Jesus in our daily lives, banishing him to the sidelines in order to avoid offending those who might not believe?
When Jesus said that ‘no prophet is ever accepted in his own country’ he wasn’t just speaking in a geographical context. He was also foreseeing the way he would be treated by the people who followed him and who fell silent at the critical moment of his arrest and subsequent torture. Just think of St Peter, one of Jesus’ most trusted friends and apostles. Even he denied our Lord three times!
It is hard for us to stave off the onset of familiarity, as it takes away the newness and replaces it with a more run-of-the-mill feel. We, like Peter, are only human and Jesus acknowledges our frailties and difficulties.
But Jesus also makes ‘all things new’. So trust in him and resist the onset of familiarity when it comes to your relationships and your faith. Don’t be afraid to follow Jesus in every way. Speak to him even when there is nothing on your mind. Pick up your Bible when it is the last thing you want to do. Consider attending Mass at a time other than a Sunday. And never, ever be afraid to go to Confession.
Pope Francis told the youth in Brazil to “swim against the tide” of relativism and secularism. Perhaps it’s time for us to swim against the tide of familiarity and accept Jesus at all times and not just when feel like it.
|Posted on January 22, 2016 at 11:48 AM||comments (0)|
Sunday’s (alternative) Second Reading (1 Corinthians 12:12-14,27):
'Just as a human body, though it is made up of many parts, is a single unit because all these parts, though many, make one body, so it is with Christ. In the one Spirit we were all baptised, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens, and one Spirit was given to us all to drink.
Nor is the body to be identified with any one of its many parts. Now you together are Christ’s body; but each of you is a different part of it.'
Do you ever think of yourself being inextricably linked to Jesus? We often talk about the ability of Jesus to be with us at every moment of the day, wherever we are, whatever we are doing. We often imagine him by our side, walking with us through the trials and tribulations of life. But today’s reading gives us a slightly different perspective on our relationship with Jesus.
Today’s reading tells us that we are actually a part of Jesus. We are one with him. Christ is often described as the head of the Church, and this reading confirms that truth. Jesus is the head of the Church, and always will be. And it is us, the people, who make up that Church. Together, as the people of God, we are one with Christ. It is the most beautiful union between the Creator and the created. It is a link of unconditional pure and perfect love flowing from the one who was prepared to go through the agony of the Cross so that we would turn from sin and recognise and appreciate this powerful bond.
As we start another week perhaps we should consider taking some time out to contemplate this great bond with Jesus, remembering that each time we do wrong we are doing so in his presence. But also remembering that each time we do good we are allowing him to take control. There is a classic saying ‘let go and let God’. Maybe we should bear that in mind as we think about being one with Jesus.
Perhaps it’s time to let Jesus do a bit more in our lives. Make it your goal this week to surrender to him and let him take over. Let him take on your worries, troubles and daily difficulties. What use being part of Jesus if you aren’t prepared to use his perfect heart for love, his awesome mind for wisdom, and his most beautiful face to show how much you care? What benefit is to be gained from receiving Christ in the Eucharist at Mass if we simply ignore the truth and goodness he brings to our very being? You have the power to let Christ shine out of you, for you are one in him and he is one in you. Be the loving Jesus. Be the merciful Jesus. Be the compassionate Jesus. Be the Jesus who led others to the Truth. Be the joyful Jesus! Let it be. Let Christ be.
|Posted on November 26, 2015 at 3:47 AM||comments (0)|
Today's Gospel (Luke 21:20-28):
'Jesus said to his disciples, ‘When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, you must realise that she will soon be laid desolate. Then those in Judaea must escape to the mountains, those inside the city must leave it, and those in country districts must not take refuge in it. For this is the time of vengeance when all that scripture says must be fulfilled. Alas for those with child, or with babies at the breast, when those days come!
‘For great misery will descend on the land and wrath on this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive to every pagan country; and Jerusalem will be trampled down by the pagans until the age of the pagans is completely over.
‘There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars; on earth nations in agony, bewildered by the clamour of the ocean and its waves; men dying of fear as they await what menaces the world, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand.’'
Today's Gospel paints a really depressing picture. The world, it seems, will one day succumb to an ultimate and deadly destruction, something that is hard to equate with a loving and merciful God.
But our loving and merciful God always has an answer, and that answer is Jesus. For Christ himself will come on the clouds to save those who trust in him and to set them free.
We have everything to gain by trusting and believing in Christ and loving as he loves. We have everything to lose by rejecting him.
|Posted on October 16, 2015 at 9:31 AM||comments (0)|
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 October 9, 2015 at 9:55 AM||comments (3)|
We need to listen to Jesus
From Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 10:17-30):
'Jesus was setting out on a journey when a man ran up, knelt before him and put this question to him, ‘Good master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: You must not kill; You must not commit adultery; You must not steal; You must not bring false witness; You must not defraud; Honour your father and mother.’'
It’s always difficult to listen to someone telling you what to do and to do so with an open mind and an open heart. Goodness knows I have struggled with it many times in my life! But what if that person was Jesus? Would it change your attitude?
In this Gospel Jesus reminds us of some of the Commandments as he tries to steer a man towards the Kingdom of Heaven and eternal life. He speaks with great clarity and no little authority as he tells us not to kill, not to commit adultery, not to steal, not to lie, not to deceive, and to honour our parents.
As the Synod on the Family in Rome closes its first week of meetings and discussions, we are called to remind ourselves of these words of Christ, especially when we think about hot topics like abortion, contraception, marriage and, of course, the family. While people may surmise the potential for change or reform in the Church, the Church fathers will always turn to the one who knows best….Jesus.
There is a need for all of us to get back to basics on issues such as abortion, contraception and marriage. That’s why we need to listen to Jesus and take in what he is telling us. Only then, with the Truth embedded in our hearts and minds, can we build a better world.