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Scots Catholic Blog
|Posted on April 6, 2017 at 4:44 AM||comments (0)|
It's a real wake up call. Jesus is losing his influence in Europe. Christianity is dying out.
We've known for some time now that Christianity is on the decline in Europe, but recent data released by the Pew Research Center reveals just how stark that decline is.
Indeed, it is the only decline in any religion in any part of the world between 2010 and 2015. But for Christianity's decline in Europe, every religion across all continents witnessed an increase in numbers, including Christianity itself, which is growing rapidly in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. Islam is also growing rapidly in Sub-Saharan Africa as well as Asia Pacific.
But it is in Europe where the real story lies. An astonishing drop of 5.6 million Christian births to deaths has seen the religion plummet across the continent. There are many reasons for this, not least a much greater prevalence of lukewarm Christianity and an increasingly secular culture.
Across the world Islam will continue to grow in greater numbers than Christianity, with a fertility rate of 2.9 compared to 2.6 for Christians. Islam also has the youngest median age in terms of adherents to the faith, at just 24. Hindus are at 27 with Christians at 30.
We have known for some time that Islam would eventually catch up with Christianity in terms of numbers, and within twenty years births to women of Islamic faith will outnumber Christian births. But it is in Europe where there must be deep concern for Christians. Why is the faith struggling so much in that continent?
For European Christians there is undoubtedly a crisis when it comes to the family. Europe's secular influence, with its liberal laws around contraception, abortion and marriage, has chipped away at the hearts and minds of the faithful, giving them an excuse to focus on the self and to set aside the call of Christ to first and foremost love God and neighbour. Families now come in all different shapes and sizes; their constitution often based on the ideological whim of selfish individuals. The idea that a young man and a young woman can look lovingly into one another's eyes, establish a firm and beautiful friendship that leads to the great sacrament of marriage and the bearing of fruit through the birth of new life is dumbed down by the culture of want. And we have all bought into it. It is a sad reflection on our lack of faith.
As Pope John Paul II said, "As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live."
We Christians have let down the family, and Europe is the nation Pope John Paul refers to. It is going and if we don't reclaim it the world will eventually go with it.
Europe, to coin a famous song, is most definitely losing its religion and losing Christ. If it is to recover, radical change in attitude is required. Starting with the family.
|Posted on December 13, 2016 at 8:22 AM||comments (0)|
|Posted on December 6, 2016 at 9:34 AM||comments (0)|
This talk by Cardinal Robert Sarah took place earlier this year at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC.
It is essential reading for anyone trying to make sense of the ongoing assault on and subsequent destruction of the family in our so called 'progressive' world. Cardinal Sarah also considers what we, as Christians, can do to respond.
Here is the text of Cardinal Sarah's address:
Thank you for inviting me to this remarkable gathering, in the company of such a distinguished audience.
As you well know, what happens in the United States has repercussions everywhere. The entire globe looks to you, waiting and praying, to see what America resolves on the pressing challenges the world faces today. Such is your influence and responsibility.
I do not say this lightly, because we find ourselves in such portentous times.
1. The Situation of the World and the Mission of the Church
Rapid social and economic development in the past half century has not been accompanied by an equally fervent spiritual progress, as we witness what Pope Francis calls “globalized indifference.”
It is the result of giving in to the delusion that we are self-sufficient, that man is his own measure in a pervasive individualism. It is manifested in the fear of suffering in our societies, our closing our eyes and hearts to the poor and vulnerable, and, in a very despicable way, in how we discard the unborn and the elderly.
When he prophetically announced the Second Vatican Council in the Apostolic Constitution Humanae Salutis,Saint John XXIII remarked that the human community was in “turmoil” as it sought to establish a new world order where humanity relies entirely on technical and scientific solutions instead of God.
Today we are witnessing the next stage – and the consummation – of the efforts to build a utopian paradise on earth without God. It is the stage of denying sin and the fall altogether. But the death of God results in the burial of good, beauty, love and truth. Good becomes evil, beauty is ugly, love becomes the satisfaction of sexual primal instincts, and truths are all relative.
So all manner of immorality is not only accepted and tolerated today in advanced societies, but even promoted as a social good. The result is hostility to Christians, and, increasingly, religious persecution.
Nowhere is this clearer than in the threat that societies are visiting on the family through a demonic “gender ideology,” a deadly impulse that is being experienced in a world increasingly cut off from God through ideological colonialism.
Saint Pope John XXIII observed in 1962:
“Tasks of immense gravity and amplitude await the Church, as in the most tragic periods of her history. The Church must now inject the vivifying and perennial energies of the gospel into the veins of the human community.”
This remains the challenge that the Church is facing presently, more even than in 1962, and it is our task today. This is what I spoke of in my book God or Nothing:
“Today the Church must fight against prevailing trends, with courage and hope, and not be afraid to raise her voice to denounce the hypocrites, the manipulators, and the false prophets. For two thousand years, the Church has faced many contrary winds but at the end of the most difficult journey, the victory was always won.”
2. The Family
“The future of the world and the Church passes through the family.” These prophetic words of Saint John Paul II show how the Church, in our time, must, above all, defend and promote the beauty of the Christian family in fidelity to God’s design. In his post-synodal Exhortation on the Family, Amoris Lætitia (“The Joy of Love”), Pope Francis states clearly: “In no way must the Church desist from proposing the full ideal of marriage, God’s plan in all its grandeur … proposing less than what Jesus offers to the human being.”
This is why the Holy Father openly and vigorously defends Church teaching on contraception, abortion, homosexuality, reproductive technologies, the education of children and much more. In my first five years as Archbishop of Conakry (Guinea, Africa), I made it my task to dedicate all of my pastoral letters to the family. Perhaps only the beauty of the family can reawaken the longing for God in the innermost recesses of the conscience of our brothers and sisters, and heal the wounds inflicted on our humanity by sin.
Saint John Paul, the Pope of the new evangelization, describes in Familiaris Consortio how the family is the first place where the Gospel is welcomed and is also the first herald of the Gospel. How true this is!
The generous and responsible love of spouses, made visible through the self-giving of parents, who welcome and nurture children as a gift of God, makes love visible in our generation. It makes present the perfect charity of the Trinity. “If you see charity, you see the Trinity,” wrote Saint Augustine.
From the beginning of creation, God, who is a communion of persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three different Persons, yet one – has built a Trinitarian structure into our very nature. In the continent of my origin, Africa, we declare: “Man is nothing without woman, woman is nothing without man, and the two are nothing without a third element, which is the child.” The Triune God dwells within each of us and imbues our whole being: God’s own image and likeness.
Every human being, like the persons of the Trinity, has the capacity to be united with other persons in communion through the vinculum caritatis – the bond of charity – of the Holy Spirit. The family is a natural preparation and anticipation of the communion that is possible when we are united with God. The family, as it were, is a natural praeparatio evangelica – written into our nature.
This is why the devil is so intent on destroying the family. If the family is destroyed, we lose our God-given, anthropological foundations and so find it more difficult to welcome the saving Good News of Jesus Christ: self-giving, fruitful love.
St. John Paul explained: if it is true that the family is the place where more than anywhere else human beings can flourish and truly be themselves, it is also a place where human beings can be humanly and spiritually wounded.
The rupture of the foundational relationships of someone’s life – through separation, divorce or distorted impositions of the family, such as cohabitation and same sex unions – is a deep wound that closes the heart to self-giving love unto death, and even leads to cynicism and despair.
These situations cause damage to little children through inflicting upon them a deep existential doubt about love. They are a scandal – a stumbling block – that prevents the most vulnerable from believing in such love, and a crushing burden that can prevent them from opening to the healing power of the Gospel.
Advanced societies, including – I regret – this nation have done and continue to do everything possible to legalize such situations. But this can never be a truthful solution. It is like putting bandages on an infected wound. It will continue to poison the body until antibiotics are taken.
Sadly, the advent of artificial reproductive technologies, surrogacy, so-called homosexual “marriage”, and other evils of gender ideology, will inflict even more wounds in the midst of the generations we live with.
This is why it is so important to fight to protect the family, the first cell of the life of the Church and every society. This is not about abstract ideas. It is not an ideological war between competing ideas. This is about defending ourselves, children and future generations from a demonic ideology that says children do not need mothers and fathers. It denies human nature and wants to cut off entire generations from God.
3. Religious Freedom
I encourage you to truly make use of the freedom willed by your founding fathers, lest you lose it. In so many other countries, on almost a daily basis, we hear of merciless beheadings, futile bombings of churches, torching of orphanages and ruthless expulsions of entire families from homes that religious minorities suffer worldwide simply because of their beliefs. Even in this yet young twenty-first century of barely 16 years, one million people have been martyred around the world because of their belief in Jesus Christ.
Yet the violence against Christians is not just physical, it is also political, ideological and cultural. This form of religious persecution is equally damaging, yet more hidden. It does not destroy physically but spiritually; it demolishes the teaching of Jesus and His Church and, hence, the foundations of faith by leading souls astray. By this violence, political leaders, lobby groups and mass media seek to neutralize and depersonalize the conscience of Christians so as to dissolve them in a fluid society without religion and without God. This is the will of the Evil One: to close Heaven … out of envy.
Do we not see signs of this insidious war in this great nation of the United States? In the name of “tolerance,” the Church’s teachings on marriage, sexuality and the human person are dismantled. The legalization of same sex marriage, the obligation to accept contraception within health care programs, and even “bathroom bills” that allow men to use the women’s restrooms and locker rooms. Should not a biological man use the men’s restroom? How simpler can that concept be?
How low we are sinking for a nation built on a set of moral claims about God, the human person, the meaning of life, and the purpose of society, given by America’s first settlers and founders! God is named in your founding documents as “Creator” and “Supreme Judge” over individuals and government. The human person endowed with God-given and therefore inalienable rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” George Washington wrote that “the establishment of Civil and Religious Liberty was the motive that induced me to the field of battle.”
Today, we find ourselves before the battle of a sickness that has pervaded our world. I repeat: the battle of a sickness. That is what we face. I call this sickness “the liquidation, the eclipse of God.” Pope Francis describes the causes of this “sickness.”
I quote: “Religious liberty is not only that of thought or private worship. It is freedom to live according to ethical principles consequent upon the truth found, be it privately or publicly. This is a great challenge in the globalized world, where weak thought – which is like a sickness – also lowers the general ethical level, and in the name of a false concept of tolerance ends up by persecuting those who defend the truth about man and the ethical consequences.”
What are the remedies to this sickness? What should we do to protect the family, religious freedom, and marriage – as revealed to us by God?
Before such a distinguished gathering, I offer three humble suggestions.
1. First: Be prophetic. The Book of Proverbs tells us: “Where there is no vision, discernment, the people perish” (29, 18). Discern carefully – in your lives, your homes, your workplaces – how, in your nation, God is being eroded, eclipsed, liquidated. Blessed Paul VI saw that in 1968 when, for the Church, he so courageously wrote Humanae Vitae. What are the threats to Christian identity and the family today? ISIS, the growing influence of China, the colonization of ideologies such as gender? How do we react?
2. Be faithful. This is my second suggestion. Specifically for you, as men and women called to influence even the political sphere you have a mission of bringing Divine Revelation to bear in the lives of your fellow citizens. Uphold the wise principles of your founding fathers. Do not be afraid to proclaim the truth with love, especially about marriage according to God’s plan, just as courageously as Saint John the Baptist, who risked his life to proclaim the truth. The battle to preserve the roots of mankind is perhaps the greatest challenge that our world has faced since its origins. In the words of Saint Catherine of Siena: “Proclaim the truth and do not be silent through fear.”
3. Third: Pray. Sometimes, in front of happenings in the world, our nation or even the Church, the results of our prayer might tempt us to become discouraged. Like Sisyphus in the Greek myth: condemned to roll a large boulder uphill, only to see it roll down again as soon as he had reached the top. Pope Benedict XVI in Deus Caritas Est encourages us : “People who pray are not wasting their time, even though the situation appears desperate and seems to call for action alone.”
Whether in doctrine or morality or everyday decisions, the heart of prayer is to discern God’s will. This can only happen in prolonged moments of silence where, like Elijah before the horrendous threats of Queen Jezebel, we allow the “gentle breeze” of God to enlighten us and confirm us along our journey to do God’s will. Such was the virginal silence of the Blessed Mother. At a marriage, the wedding feast of Cana, when for a new family “they have no wine,” Mary our Mother trusted in the grace given by Jesus to bestow the joy of love overflowing – Amoris Lætitia. She pronounced her very last words, “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2: 1-12).Then she remained silent.
Be prophetic. Be faithful. Pray. That is why I came to this prayer breakfast. To encourage you. Be prophetic. Be faithful. And, above all, pray. These three suggestions make present that the battle for the soul of America, and the soul of the world, is primarily spiritual. They show that the battle is fought firstly with our own conversion to God’s will every day.
And so I wholly welcome this initiative, and join you in prayer that this great country may experience a new great “spiritual awakening”, and help stem the tide of evil that is spreading in the world. I am confident that your efforts will no doubt contribute to protecting human life, strengthening the family, and safeguarding religious freedom not only here in these United States, but everywhere in the world.
For in the end: it is “God or nothing.”
|Posted on September 27, 2016 at 10:35 AM||comments (0)|
Pope Francis has spoken openly about his support for the Mexican bishops who, along with millions of people, have taken to the streets to protest against the legalisation of same-sex marriage and the serious threat it poses to family life.
The pope said: “I am very happy to associate myself with the bishops of Mexico, in supporting the commitment of the Church and of civil society in favour of the family and of life, which in this time require special pastoral and cultural attention in all the world.”
|Posted on July 24, 2016 at 4:05 PM||comments (0)|
Dermot Grenham completes his consideration of Pope Francis' exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, by bringing to life Chapter 7 (Towards a better education of children).
It is an excellent read and is especially relevant for young families.
Please click the document...
|Posted on June 9, 2016 at 6:23 AM||comments (0)|
Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh Leo Cushley celebrates the 125 anniversary of Pope Leo XIII’s landmark encyclical ‘Rerum Novarum’
Archbishop Leo Cushley has marked the 125 anniversary of the papal encyclical Rerum Novarum by re-proposing its social teaching for the common good of Scottish society. The encyclical by Pope Leo XIII is arguably the Church’s most important when it comes to social justice and the Archbishop can clearly see positives in once again bringing it to the forefront of our minds.
Writing in today's Scotsman Archbishop Cushley said: “At the foundation of Pope Leo’s vision is an unshakeable belief in the intrinsic value of every man, woman and child. The degree to which it threatened or enhanced the life and dignity of the human person”, he says, “is the measure of any political, moral or economic order”. It is clear, therefore, that the encyclical has at its very core the belief that human life must be at the centre of all decisions made by authority. It is about standing shoulder to shoulder with the most vulnerable in society, including the poor, the sick, the elderly, and the unborn.
Pope Leo, who rejected unbridled capitalism as well as state socialism, argued that neither central government nor larger society should substitute itself for the initiative and responsibility of individuals and intermediary bodies within civil society. Archbishop Cushley cited the example of Fife, which has gone from having 82 councils in 1930 to just one today, to illustrate the renewed appetite to revisit the issue of local empowerment.
The Archbishop also referred to the importance of the family in society. He said: “The twofold purpose of this [the family] micro-community is traditionally defined as the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children. For this reason, nearly all societies – not just those informed by Christianity – have founded family life upon marriage. Even now, the best sociological evidence tends to suggest that children generally do best in life when they grow up with a mum and a dad who are married to each other. The married family, if you like, is the first, best and cheapest department of health, welfare and education.” He then quoted Pope John Paul II as he tried to encapsulate the effect of the erosion of a marriage-based culture: “As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live.”
However, the Archbishop also referred to Pope Francis’ call to appreciate those people for whom the ideal family is not possible, saying that these people “achieve remarkable things in the most difficult of circumstances”. He then reiterated Pope Francis’ call to sympathise with and support those in difficult circumstances.
In a world fraught with significant challenges to the family as we know it, the Archbishop’s consideration of one of the great social encyclicals is timely. As he said: “The Church does not seek to impose its social teaching upon Scottish society. We can only propose it as our vision to anybody seeking new paths towards the common good.”
Archbishop Cushley has proposed what he feels is the fundamental consideration for the common good of society and offered it to the people of Scotland. It is now up to us lay Catholics to do the same.
Click this link to read the Scotsman article: http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/archbishop-leo-cushley-no-imposition-just-the-church-s-vision-1-4149785
|Posted on June 3, 2016 at 9:29 AM||comments (0)|
Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 7:1-17):
‘Jesus went to a town called Nain, accompanied by his disciples and a great number of people. When he was near the gate of the town it happened that a dead man was being carried out for burial, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a considerable number of the townspeople were with her. When the Lord saw her he felt sorry for her. ‘Do not cry’ he said. Then he went up and put his hand on the bier and the bearers stood still, and he said, ‘Young man, I tell you to get up.’ And the dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Everyone was filled with awe and praised God saying, ‘A great prophet has appeared among us; God has visited his people.’ And this opinion of him spread throughout Judaea and all over the countryside.’
The miracle performed by Jesus in this Gospel passage is one of great hope. The woman, a widow, had lost her only son. Can you imagine the grief and sorrow that this woman must have been experiencing? Can you imagine how alone she must have felt watching her only family being carried away for burial? She must have felt that nothing could take away the extreme pain that was now drilling through her heart. Yet moments later she would witness the resurrection of her son from the dead. Just when all had seemed to be lost, along came Jesus.
We must never lose hope when death comes knocking at our door. Whilst it is perfectly natural for us to grieve and to feel sorrow when a loved one dies, we must always have confidence in the one who makes all things new. Jesus’ death on the Cross was not a pointless exercise. It was necessary so that our sins could be wiped away and we could have eternal life.
When your loved one dies, remember that Jesus is there. He has come down from the Cross and is standing ready at the gates of Paradise, waiting to put his hand on your loved one, waiting to bring them back to life.
|Posted on June 2, 2016 at 11:07 AM||comments (0)|
Nicola Sturgeon appreciating the beauty of new life
It is wonderful to hear Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announce that, from Spring 2017, all pregnant women will receive free vitamins in order to help give their children the best possible start in life.
In addition to making vitamins freely available the Scottish Government will also be introducing the following initiatives:
Ms Sturgeon said that “every child deserves a fair and equal chance and offering all pregnant women vitamins sends a strong signal that, right from the very start of life, we are doing all we can to help. There is strong evidence that taking vitamins in pregnancy improves both the mother and baby’s health and providing free vitamins, to all pregnant women, has the widespread support of healthcare professionals.”
Any government policy which seeks to assist women in pregnancy to look after both themselves and their baby must be welcomed. It is a positive step by the Scottish government and it is hoped that many people will benefit from the new initiatives.
The introduction of free vitamins for all pregnant women is real and positive recognition by the Scottish Government of the importance of the unborn child. The unborn child should be entitled to the same rights as any born child and this must include the right to the best possible health care and treatment. While the rights of the unborn child are not yet fully protected in our country, primarily because of the availability of abortion, this type of initiative is a step in the right direction; a small but important step towards equality of rights for all children, irrespective of whether they happen to be inside or outside of the womb.
Click this link to read more about the new initiative: ttp://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/All-pregnant-women-to-receive-vitamins-251d.aspx
|Posted on May 19, 2016 at 4:39 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted on May 10, 2016 at 12:23 PM||comments (0)|
We Catholics like to celebrate with food! This is why it is important to eat together as a family and to enjoy the delicious food gifted to us by God and prepared by the hands of our mother or father. Mealtimes should be a time of great celebration and we should make an extra special effort to celebrate Sundays and Catholic feast days. You may even want to consider celebrating important dates such as your anniversary, showing your children that your marriage is something that is important to you and that you delight in remembering that special day. Why not bake a cake together for the occasion?
And remember, no mobile phones or tablets at the dinner table! Encourage an environment free of technology, where everyone takes a turn to talk about the highs and lows of their day. Let the dinner table be a forum for openness and honesty among all the family; a sacrosanct place where the family basks in the joys and rallies in the sorrows of each family member.
Prayer can take many forms and prayer within the family unit is no different. It is important that people pray as a family as best they can. Praying the Rosary as a family is a beautiful way to express our faith and this is something that should be encouraged in every Catholic home. You may want to make it more interesting for younger children by introducing images or pictures to go with the mysteries. And if one of the kids kicks off, stop for a break, but remember to try and pick it up again another time. And start small, especially with younger kids. A few short prayers or a decade of the Rosary will likely suffice to begin with.
It’s also very important to pray as a family before and after meals. There are a number of simple prayers suitable for this but even a simple ‘thank you Jesus’ will do!
And remember, it is important that children see their parents pray, so be prepared to set an example to your kids and make sure you take them to Holy Mass every Sunday and on Holy Days of Obligation. Be an example to them by regular attendance at the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and consider becoming more active in the life of your Parish. Children will respond positively to your active participation in the life of the Church and will see how important it is to you.
Be willing to talk about your faith and don't be embarrassed if one of the kids asks you something you don't know. This is a great opportunity to learn as a family! Learning can be a form of prayer too! So don't be afraid to pick up the Bible or the Catechism or to even search Google for an answer. Let your children see just how interested you are to learn too.
And above all, let them see just how much you love Jesus by your prayer!
3. Be Merry
As Catholic people immersed in the love of Jesus Christ and with the sure and certain hope of eternal life, shouldn’t we be immensely happy?? Our family life should be full of fun and games. We should be unafraid to dance and to waste time with our children. Just because God is at the very centre of our lives doesn’t mean life has to be one big serious drag. The fact that God is at the centre of our lives is the very reason we should be deliriously happy from the moment we wake in the morning until our head hits the pillow again the following night. If those of us who are members of the Church established by Jesus Christ and who regularly gather in his presence at Holy Mass cannot be happy, then there is no hope for any of us! No hope! So let us rejoice, let us be happy. Let’s show our children that being Catholic is great fun! And remember, don’t complain or gossip about people and don’t be too quick to criticise others. Such an attitude creates a negative environment for children and leads to increased cynicism and scepticism; something they themselves will only be too happy to take on board!