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Scots Catholic

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Sister Lucia of Fatima spells out the reality of the battle over marriage and family life

Posted on September 7, 2015 at 11:45 AM Comments comments ()
Sister Lucia dos Santos
 
As we approach the second and final part of the Synod on Marriage and Family Life it is important for us to remember these words of Sister Lucia of Fatima, one of three children who were visited by Our Blessed Mother Mary during the twentieth century.
 
 
Lucia describes how the final battle between the Lord and Satan will be about marriage and the family, but that anyone who stands for the sanctity of marriage and the family should not fear as "Our Lady has already crushed its head".
 
 
It should be no surprise to us to hear that there is an ongoing battle with the father of lies over marriage and family life.  Just consider contraception, abortion and the redefinition of marriage and you can see precisely where the devil is attacking God's divine plan for mankind. 
 
 
We are, in all respects, in the battlefield for the very last battle between the devil and the Lord.  But which side are we on?  Are we with the world; a world that is increasingly subject to the contol of the devil with all his lies and attacks on our faith?  Or are we with Christ and his Church, standing firm to the Truth and God's divine plan with which comes the promise eternal salvation?
 

It is true….only Jesus can save us (Dwelling on the Word of God, Sunday 26th April 2015)

Posted on April 24, 2015 at 11:35 AM Comments comments ()
Only this man has the power to save us
 
Sunday’s First Reading (Acts 4:8-12):
 
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter said: ‘Rulers of the people, and elders! If you are questioning us today about an act of kindness to a cripple, and asking us how he was healed, then I am glad to tell you all, and would indeed be glad to tell the whole people of Israel, that it was by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the one you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by this name and by no other that this man is able to stand up perfectly healthy, here in your presence, today. This is the stone rejected by you the builders, but which has proved to be the keystone. For of all the names in the world given to men, this is the only one by which we can be saved.’
 
 
 
Only Jesus Christ can save us.  Only Jesus Christ can save us. Only Jesus Christ can save us. Only Jesus Christ can save us…. 
 
 
Has it sunk in yet?? It’s quite incredible to think that each one of us can be saved from sin and death and brought to eternal life.  It’s even more incredible to think that all this is achieved through one man!  Can you imagine being that one man?  Can you imagine if you were the key to Heaven; the key to eternal life?  Wouldn’t it be quite a responsibility?  It certainly would; but it would be worth all of that responsibility to see wave after wave of people coming back to you because they trust in you and because they believe in you and believe in the Church you founded. Yet conversely, wouldn’t it be so sad to know that not all of your created people are coming back to you?  Wouldn’t it be sad to be rejected by your very own creation?  Rejected despite coming to earth to spread the message of a perfect love; rejected despite performing miracle after miracle to help the poor and the needy; rejected despite suffering greatly at the hands of your oppressors who humiliated you and abused you before nailing you to a cross; rejected despite rising from the dead and revealing yourself to those close to you who then took that great news to the ends of the earth.  After all of that and still you are rejected!  How breathtakingly sad must that be for Jesus? 
 
 
It would seem that no matter how often we are told Christ is the only way to God and the only way to salvation, we still don’t quite take it in.  Even Jesus himself told us that he was the way, the truth and the life and that nobody can get to the Father except through him; yet many still doubt.  So here is St Peter, the rock upon which Christ’s Church is built, telling us once more that Christ is the only one who can save us. 
 
 
So, are we prepared to really let this sink in?  And even more importantly, are we prepared to take this message to the ends of the earth no matter what?  You see, we can’t possibly just keep this to ourselves or within the confines of our families and close friends.  An increasingly aggressive secularism tells you to keep it to yourself, but Jesus tells you to take it to the ends of the earth!  So let’s get out there and tell the world that Jesus is the only way!  It is Jesus Christ, the most perfect, most beautiful, most glorious, most incredible man who ever walked this earth who can give us the gift of eternal life.  It is the most precious Jesus, that man who took on unbearable pain on our behalf, who is the key to our salvation.  Trust him, love him and surrender to him.  And encourage others to do the same.

Is there really no salvation outside the Catholic Church?

Posted on February 9, 2015 at 9:26 AM Comments comments ()
Is the Catholic Church the only way to eternal life?
 
Tim Staples, Director of Apologetics and Evangelisation at Catholic Answers, considers this most crucial question in his latest blog piece at catholic.com. 
 
In a thoroughly detailed and considered view on the matter, Tim comes to the following important conclusions:
 
1. No one who knowingly and deliberately rejects the truth will be saved. It doesn’t matter how good of a Muslim, Jew, Baptist, or anything else he may be. If anyone rejects the truth of Christ and his Church—even one definitive teaching—they will be lost.
 
2. Religions that have as tenants of their respective faiths the rejection of Jesus and his Church have no power to save anyone. It is “the truth that makes us free” (cf. John 8:32), not falsehood.
 
3. In the case of one who is ignorant of the truth of the Catholic Faith, “through no fault of [his] own,” he can be saved, if he is truly “invincibly ignorant, [is] given the supernatural virtue of faith and [has] perfect charity in [his heart]” (cf. Instruction of Holy Office of Dec. 20, 1949).
 
4. We must remember that we are not the judges of salvation. God is the sole and final judge. We do not know who is truly “invincibly ignorant” and who is not. Therefore, we must be careful to “evangelize all men” as the Catechism commands us and leave the judging to God.
 
5. “Whatever good or truth is found amongst [other world religions] is considered by the Church to be ‘a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life’” (Lumen Gentium16). And if they seek the true God given the light they have received, they have the possibility of salvation.
 
6. This does not mean they are not in need of the Eucharist! Without the grace that comes from the sacraments, one is at a decided disadvantage to get to heaven. And if one has rejected the truth, then there is no way he can merit heaven apart from repentance and the acceptance of the truth. The Church makes very clear: “The words bind and loose mean: whomever you exclude from your communion, will be excluded from communion with God; whomever you receive anew into your communion, God will welcome back into his. Reconciliation with the Church is inseparable from reconciliation with God” (CCC 1445).
 
 

Only Jesus can save us from the grasp of the devil (Dwelling on the Word of God, Sunday 1st February 2015)

Posted on January 30, 2015 at 11:56 AM Comments comments ()
 
Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 1:21-28):

‘Jesus and his followers went as far as Capernaum, and as soon as the sabbath came he went to the synagogue and began to teach. And his teaching made a deep impression on them because, unlike the scribes, he taught them with authority.
In their synagogue just then there was a man possessed by an unclean spirit and it shouted, ‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus said sharply, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit threw the man into convulsions and with a loud cry went out of him. The people were so astonished that they started asking each other what it all meant. ‘Here is a teaching that is new’ they said ‘and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.’ And his reputation rapidly spread everywhere, through all the surrounding Galilean countryside.’

 
It’s not difficult to imagine evil in our world. It’s all around us; wars, murder, violence, destruction.  Evil has enveloped our world and it can be experienced at almost every turn.  Yet,while it is easy to see evil and to experience it, do we really appreciate who is behind it?
 
While a willing human mind is perhaps necessary to carry out evil, it is the devil that is the source of evil; and he uses his power to force others to carry out his evil deeds in many different ways.  In today’s Gospel passage he uses possession as a means to wreak havoc and to attack God.  In today’s world possession by unclean spirits is still a reality and exorcisms occur throughout the world.  But the devil makes his presence felt in numerous other ways.  He destroys our love of life from the moment of conception until natural death by willing abortions and assisted suicide.  He chips away at the family by breaking it up and removing those critical elements of fatherhood and motherhood for every child.  He encourages gossip, cynicism, complaining and negativity among people.
 
The devil also comes to us in the most simple and innocent situations.  He encourages our laziness as we prepare for Mass on a Sunday; making us feel like the weekly trip to church is a chore rather than a joy.  He visits us in the evening just before we go to sleep and gently invites us to read another few pages of the latest thriller at the expense of our prayers.  He is not always forceful.  Indeed, his ways are often subtle and gentle; wooing us with a seeming beauty and elegance designed to capture our hearts and designed to thrill and excite.
 
The devil’s intention is ultimately to come between us and God.  He is a fallen angel because he wanted to be God.  And given he cannot possibly be God he now wants to bring as much destruction to God’s creation as he possibly can and the best way to do this is to turn God’s own children against Him. 
 
However, he will never win as Christ has won the victory on the Cross.  Good has triumphed over evil and God can never be defeated.  But our hearts can still be won over by the devil and he is doing his very best to ensure that this happens to as many people as possible. As we prepare for our Lenten journey this year perhaps it would beuseful to try to discern the ways the devil tries to get at us.  If we can identify his evil habits then we can turn to Jesus and ask him to defend us so that our hearts are never won over by the devil and his destructive ways. We belong to God and to God alone. It is He who has given us life and it is to Him that we shall return at the end of time to be judged.  Make sure that judgement has a happy ending.  Don’t let the devil have his way.  He wants you to fail so that you will be damned for all eternity.  Remember, you have Jesus on your side!  He is the only one who can save you from the devil’s evil clutches. 
 
Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and ignore the subtle temptations of the evil one.  Keep your heart fixed on Jesus and make sure that your destiny is Heaven, to be reunited with your Father who loves you more than you can ever imagine.

Pope Francis: death of the body is like a sleep from which Jesus awakens us

Posted on November 3, 2014 at 9:15 AM Comments comments ()
 
Pope Francis, at his Sunday Angelus in St Peter's Square, spoke of the dead and how they lie in cemeteries awaiting the final awakening; an awakening undertaken by Christ himself.
 
He urged the thousands gathered to pray for all the dead, "even those who no one remembers. We remember the victims of war and violence; the many "little ones" of the world crushed by hunger and poverty. We remember the anonymous who rest in common graves. We remember our brothers and sisters killed because they are Christians; and those who sacrificed their lives to serve others. We especially entrust to the Lord, those who have left over the last year."
 
The Pope then said this beautiful prayer:
 
God of infinite mercy,
 
we entrust to Your immense goodness all those who have left this world for eternity, where you await all humanity, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ Your Son, who died to save us from our sins. 
 
Look not Lord, at our poverty, misery and human weaknesses when we present ourselves before You to be judged in happiness or condemned.
 
Gaze upon us with pity, born of Your tender heart and help us to walk the path of purification.
 
May none of your children be lost to the eternal fires of hell, where repentance is no more. 
 
We entrust to You Lord, the souls of our beloved departed, of those who died without the comfort of the Sacraments or who did not have the opportunity to repent, not even at the end of their life.
 
May no one fear the encounter with You at the end of their earthly pilgrimage, in the hope of being welcomed within the embrace of your infinite mercy.  May sister death find us in prayerful vigilance, and full of all the good we have done during our existence, be it long or short.
 
Lord, may nothing distance us from you on this earth, may everything and everyone support us in our ardent hope to serenely and eternally rest in You.
 
Amen
 
 

Pope Francis: the devil exists and we must fight against him with the armour of truth

Posted on October 31, 2014 at 8:41 AM Comments comments ()
 
Pope Francis often talks about the devil.  Indeed, some argue that he talks about the devil more than any other recent pope!  Yet, many people won't be aware of this because the mainstream media tend to ignore anything the Church or the Pope says about critical issues such as satan.  Now, I wonder why the media doesn't like to report anything the pope says about the devil.  Why on earth would the media not reflect on this crucial aspect of Church teaching?  Was CS Lewis right when he suggested the devil actually uses the media as a tool to get to the faithful and turn them against God?  I think he was right on the money! 
 
Anyway, returning to the Pope and his reflection on the ongoing battle with the devil.  Here is what the Pope had to say in his homily on Thursday:
 
“From whom do I have to defend myself? What must I do?  Pauls tells us to put on God’s full armour, meaning that God acts as a defence, helping us to resist Satan’s temptations.  Is this clear?  No spiritual life, no Christian life is possible without resisting temptations, without  putting on God’s armour which gives us strength and protects us.”
 
“But in this generation, like so many others, people have been led to believe that the devil is a myth, a figure, an idea, the idea of evil. But the devil exists and we must fight against him.  Paul tells us this, it’s not me saying it! The Word of God is telling us this.  But we’re not all convinced of this.  And then Paul describes God’s armour and which are the different types that make up this great armour of God.  And he says: ‘So stand your ground,  with truth a belt around your waist.’  The truth is God’s armour.”
 
“Life is a military endeavour.  Christian life is a battle, a beautiful battle, because when God emerges victorious in every step of our life, this gives us joy, a great happiness: the joy that the Lord is the victor within us, with his free gift of salvation.  But we’re all a bit lazy, aren’t we, in this battle and we allow ourselves to get carried away by our passions, by various temptations. That’s because we’re sinners, all of us!  But don’t get discouraged.  Have courage and strength because the Lord is with us.”
 
Amen papa! 
 
 
 
 
 
 

God's Invitation to Eternal Life with Him....to Accept or Reject? (Dwelling on the Word of God, Sunday 12th October 2014)

Posted on October 10, 2014 at 12:19 PM Comments comments ()
 
From Sunday’s Gospel (Matthew 22:1-14):
 
Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people, ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a feast for his son’s wedding. He sent his servants to call those who had been invited, but they would not come. Next he sent some more servants. “Tell those who have been invited” he said “that I have my banquet all prepared, my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, everything is ready. Come to the wedding.” But they were not interested: one went off to his farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his servants, maltreated them and killed them. The king was furious. He despatched his troops, destroyed those murderers and burnt their town. Then he said to his servants, “The wedding is ready; but as those who were invited proved to be unworthy, go to the crossroads in the town and invite everyone you can find to the wedding.” So these servants went out on to the roads and collected together everyone they could find, bad and good alike; and the wedding hall was filled with guests. When the king came in to look at the guests he noticed one man who was not wearing a wedding garment, and said to him, “How did you get in here, my friend, without a wedding garment?” And the man was silent. Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot and throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen.’
 
 
Scots Catholic's thoughts:
 
How many people are actually in heaven?  And how many people are actually in hell?  These are interesting questions and they are fraught with uncertainty.
 
The truth is no-one really knows how many people will get to heaven and how many will be destined for hell.  But what we can be certain of are the warnings given to us by Jesus himself, one of which is expressed in today’s Gospel.  He suggests that those who don’t abide by the protocol or abide by the rules are not entitled to join in the wedding celebrations.  The parallel we are invited to draw here is with heaven and our entitlement to get there.  Can we say we are fully prepared for heaven when death comes to us?  Do we abide by the rules?  Are we spiritually spotless?  Are we in a state of grace?  Will be given access to the Father’s home or will we be thrown out like the man in the Gospel? 
 
One thing we can be certain of is that we will be judged.  Jesus refers many times in his teachings to a final judgement.  A final judgement by the God of all, the God of the universe, the ultimate Creator!  It is not a judgement to treat indifferently or to take lightly.  Perhaps we should take some time out over the next few days to consider what we make of Jesus’ warnings and what they mean for us.  Perhaps we should consider just how ready we are for God.  We must remember that He is Love itself.  He is Joy itself.  He is everything we have ever dreamed of!  So we must prepare ourselves for that in the best way possible. 
 
Imagine preparing to meet your hero face to face.  Imagine you were a football fan and you were meeting Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi.  Imagine if you were a fan of the movies and you were going to sit down to a meal with George Clooney or Halle Berry.  Take this and multiply it a million times and you might get close to what you are likely to feel when you meet God!  And if you were about to share some time with the likes of Halle Berry or Lionel Messi, wouldn't you make sure your hair is nice and you look tip top?  Wouldn't you wear your finest clothes and set out to make the best impression possible?  Would't you be shouting it from the rooftops that you are going to spend some personal time with one of the stars?  Indeed you would!  And so it is with God.  Isn't He entitled to expect us to prepare ourselves to meet Him and to look our very best (both inside and out)? 
 
The Church, bestowed with Christ’s promise to guide it until the end of time, can lead us to that pure state we need so that we are ready to share in the perfect love that is the Blessed Trinity; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  The Trinity is our destiny, the Church is our route.
 
God has invited us to the wedding.  We must now choose whether to accept or reject His invitation.
    
 

Keeping God at the Heart of our Mission (Dwelling on the Word of God, Tuesday 3rd June 2014)

Posted on June 3, 2014 at 7:47 AM Comments comments ()
Young Catholic people spreading the Good News
 
From today’s Reading (Acts 20:17-27):
 
‘I have not hesitated to do anything that would be helpful to you.’
 
 
I found this little statement of St Paul’s contained in today’s reading to be incredibly powerful.  St Paul said these words to the elders of the Church in Ephesus and it comes in the context of a short speech in which he ultimately claims to have a clear conscience because he has put before them “the whole of God’s purpose”.
 
St Paul here gets to the crux of evangelisation.  He is the ultimate teacher in the ways of evangelisation because at the heart of his evangelisation is God and God’s divine plan.  Everything he says, everything he does, has at the centre of it the Will of the Father.  He does not shirk from being honest about the reason behind his teachings and he does not try to water down its meaning or its consequences. 
 
St Paul, in his mission to evangelise, came up against many barriers.  He was abused, ridiculed, mocked and rejected yet he kept going, not hesitating to do anything that would be helpful to the people he was speaking to.  Neither did he hesitate in encouraging them to do the Will of the Father, just as he himself was doing.  St Paul knew that doing the Father’s Will would ultimately save their souls and he knew that this was the only way to receive the gift of eternal life. 
 
Whether we like it or not, God has a plan for each one of us and He will judge us on the last day.  And, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, St Paul was very aware of this.  He knew that there was no escape from God and His final judgement and so, despite the abuse hurled in his direction, he set about evangelising to try to change the hearts of the people so that they would come to realise who the real ruler of the world was and who they would ultimately have to answer to.  St Paul knew the importance of conversion.  He knew that it really was a matter of life or death for people, which is why he was prepared to put up with so much hatred. 
 
And that is why we must be prepared to be like St Paul as we set about the evangelisation of our world today.  Whatever our method of evangelisation, we must always keep the Father at the heart of our message because it is He, and He alone, who will make the call on our final destiny.  If we want to be 'helpful' to people then we must be honest about the need to recognise the Father and to surrender to His Will.

Dwelling on the Word of God: another warning from Jesus (Wednesday 2nd April 2014)

Posted on April 2, 2014 at 7:53 AM Comments comments ()
 
Today’s Gospel (John 5:17-30):
 
'Jesus said to the Jews, ‘My Father goes on working, and so do I.’ But that only made them even more intent on killing him, because, not content with breaking the sabbath, he spoke of God as his own Father, and so made himself God’s equal.
 To this accusation Jesus replied:
‘I tell you most solemnly,
the Son can do nothing by himself;
he can do only what he sees the Father doing:
and whatever the Father does the Son does too.
For the Father loves the Son
and shows him everything he does himself,
and he will show him even greater things than these,
works that will astonish you.
Thus, as the Father raises the dead and gives them life,
so the Son gives life to anyone he chooses;
for the Father judges no one;
he has entrusted all judgement to the Son,
so that all may honour the Son
as they honour the Father.                    
Whoever refuses honour to the Son
refuses honour to the Father who sent him.       
I tell you most solemnly,
whoever listens to my words,
and believes in the one who sent me,
has eternal life;
without being brought to judgement
he has passed from death to life.
I tell you most solemnly,
the hour will come – in fact it is here already –
when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God,
and all who hear it will live.
For the Father, who is the source of life,
has made the Son the source of life;
and, because he is the Son of Man,
has appointed him supreme judge.
Do not be surprised at this,
for the hour is coming when the dead will leave their graves
at the sound of his voice:
those who did good will rise again to life;
and those who did evil, to condemnation.
I can do nothing by myself;
I can only judge as I am told to judge,
and my judging is just,
because my aim is to do not my own will,
but the will of him who sent me.’'
 
 
Jesus says:  
‘for the hour is coming when the dead will leave their graves
at the sound of his voice:
those who did good will rise again to life;
and those who did evil, to condemnation.
I can do nothing by myself;
I can only judge as I am told to judge,
and my judging is just,
because my aim is to do not my own will,
but the will of him who sent me.’’
 
Jesus is pure love; that much we know.  He loves each and every one of us equally and his love for us knows no bounds.  And he wants us to be united with him in heaven when our time on earth has come to an end.  This is why he gives us a warning in this passage.  He tells us that those who ‘did good will rise again to life; and those who did evil to condemnation.’ 
 
Because Jesus loves us so much he is often heard warning people of the dangers of not believing in him and not following the will of God and doing good.  The ultimate danger, of course, is complete separation from Jesus; complete separation from God Himself.  That is a fearful thought for Jesus and it should be a fearful thought for us.  Jesus is all loving and all merciful, but he needs people to acknowledge him and he needs people to submit to the will of God.  With our God-given free will we are free to ignore Jesus.  But we are also free to turn to him, to believe in him, and to trust his plan for us, so that we may live with him and all the saints forever in heaven. 
 
 
 

Dwelling on the Word of God: An Unjust God? (Friday 14th March 2014)

Posted on March 14, 2014 at 8:50 AM Comments comments ()
We find God's forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation
 
Today’s Reading (Ezekiel 18:21-28):
 
‘Thus says the Lord:
  ‘If the wicked man renounces all the sins he has committed, respects my laws and is law-abiding and honest, he will certainly live; he will not die. All the sins he committed will be forgotten from then on; he shall live because of the integrity he has practised. What! Am I likely to take pleasure in the death of a wicked man – it is the Lord who speaks – and not prefer to see him renounce his wickedness and live?
  ‘But if the upright man renounces his integrity, commits sin, copies the wicked man and practises every kind of filth, is he to live? All the integrity he has practised shall be forgotten from then on; but this is because he himself has broken faith and committed sin, and for this he shall die. But you object, “What the Lord does is unjust.” Listen, you House of Israel: is what I do unjust? Is it not what you do that is unjust? When the upright man renounces his integrity to commit sin and dies because of this, he dies because of the evil that he himself has committed. When the sinner renounces sin to become law-abiding and honest, he deserves to live. He has chosen to renounce all his previous sins; he shall certainly live; he shall not die.’’
 
 
I find this reading fascinating.  God certainly comes across as someone who is rather strict, as He is quite clear that people will die if they sin and fail to repent.
 
Yet, He doesn’t do this lightly.  He explains that He takes no pleasure in seeing anyone die; that He would much rather they renounce their wrongdoings and live.  He even justifies His actions.  He recognises that people will think He is being unfair but He throws this back at the people who do wrong and asks them, ‘is it not what you do that is unjust?’
 
And that is a question we must ask ourselves.  Why do we decry God when He decides to play the part of the strict Father?  Is it not for our own good that He wants us to avoid sin and repent any sins we do commit?  Of course it is for our own good!  If we follow His clear instructions we will live for eternity!  If we don’t and we fail to repent then we run the risk of dying.  And what is dying?  It is complete separation from God.  Can you imagine complete separation from love itself?  Can you imagine not being loved?  Can you imagine living in a place where love just does not exist?
 
We all need love and we spend our whole lives constantly searching for more love.  It is God who can satisfy that longing and He wants us to be with Him forever.  But we must work very hard to avoid sin and we must ensure we repent of any sins we do commit through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  We must also keep God’s Commandments and, in particular, heed the call to love God above all else and love our neighbour as we love ourselves.  That way we choose God.  That way we choose life.
 
 
 

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