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Scots Catholic Blog
|Posted on April 19, 2016 at 11:42 AM||comments ()|
A call to Catholic men to right the wrongs of a broken society
Here’s a question for Catholic men: did you know that you have the power to mend our broken society? All the sadness and despair, the lies and deceit, the selfishness and infidelity; you have the answer to all of these problems. The future of our world; a future of beauty, goodness and truth is in your hands!
Confused? Don't be. Consider for a moment when the perfect world God created changed. It was in the Garden of Eden, when Eve was tempted by the serpent to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and both she and Adam ate the fruit. This is the moment everything started to go wrong. This is the moment sin and death entered into our world. But what if you could help to right the wrong?
Jesus, through his passion and Resurrection, redeemed that fatal mistake made by our forefathers in Eden, yet too many in the world reject the redemption Jesus offers them; preferring to ignore it and to continue buying into the relativist culture that tells them anything goes. A culture that encourages selfishness for the sake of one’s own wants and desires.
So is there something we Catholic men can do to bring people to accept Christ's redemption on the Cross? How can we play a part in helping to heal the wounds of the single biggest mistake made by humanity? A good starting point is to identify Adam’s first mistake. If we take ourselves back to the Garden of Eden, at the very moment the serpent persuades Eve to eat the fruit and she obliges. Where is Adam at this point? Why is he not protecting his wife from the cunning serpent and telling her to do as God instructed and not eat the fruit from the tree?
This example of Adam failing to protect and care for his wife is all too prevalent in our world today. And such a failure has serious repercussions. Adam, after eating the fruit, suddenly realised that he and his wife were naked and he no longer saw her as God intended him to see her. Rather, it was her body alone that he could see. His eyes could no longer appreciate Eve’s purity in her soul, that part of her which is the very core of her being. Instead he looked upon her as an object for pleasure and gratification. Does this ring any bells? Is this not an accurate reflection of how many men view women in our world today? Adam, created to have dominion over all the animals of the world and to be protector-in-chief of God’s creation, including his wife, had gone from a soldier for God to a man of weakness; a wretch with no backbone.
And so it is with us men today. Instead of protecting our wives and ensuring their safety and security in this world of sin, we have let them become the object of our own selfish desires and gratification. We, like Adam, have taken our eye off the ball and have failed our women. We have failed them badly.
Everywhere we turn there is infidelity, adultery, divorce, pornography, selfishness, violence, hate and intolerance. The world is in ruins because of relativist ideals, especially those borne out of the sexual revolution. But we Catholic men have been charged with making something out of those ruins; to take them and to build a pillar of love for the whole world to see. We are called to succeed where Adam failed. We have a duty to carry out God’s original plan for His Creation; that is to serve, protect and defend all that God has entrusted to our care, especially our wives and children.
We must see our wives as God intended; with a perfect love. That is, the same perfect love we witness when we see Christ hanging from the Cross. This, brothers, is the love we are called to show our wives. It is not lustful, it is not selfish. It is pure sacrifice. We, like Christ, must be prepared to lay down our lives for our wives and our children, putting their needs before our own. Only in living out this kind of love will we be able to repair the wounds in our society; a society that is broken, having lost all sense of what it really means to be in love.
Our world today is full of love built on sand. We have love built on lies, we have love built on selfish desires, we have love built on one night stands, and we have love built on adultery. The result of this is broken relationships, broken families, and ultimately broken children who have never experienced the love they need in order to thrive. Society needs strong leaders in love. It needs an authentic, unselfish and unconditional love that is free from the horrid pain of selfishness and lies. The sexual revolution encourages people to dip in and out of relationships as and when they please. There is no attempt to encourage staying power, no attempt to encourage true fidelity. It is every man and woman for themselves. Yet as Catholic men we are called to be much better than this, much better! We are called to be soldiers for God, bringing His perfect love to the world by living it out in our homes and in our everyday lives, setting an example for our broken society. God is looking down at the earth and asking “Where have all my Catholic men gone? Where are my soldiers? Where are the men my Son died for?”
Brothers, let us be true. True to God, true to our wives, true to our children, and true to our world. Let us use our call to greatness, our call to be saints, to make a real difference to our world. Let us never tire of striving to show the kind of love that Christ showed on the Cross, when he gave everything he had, shedding every last drop of blood for his people. We too are called to give everything we have. So, with a deep sense of prayer and trust in the Holy Spirit, let us go forth and be true protectors of God’s creation. Let us be sure to love our wives and families with that perfect love so unselfishly evidenced by the broken body of Jesus Christ hanging on the Cross.
|Posted on March 24, 2016 at 1:02 PM||comments ()|
As we journey with Christ through his Passion and Crucifixion it is worth bearing in mind some of the little things we as human beings are drawn to but that are contrary to God’s desire for our lives.
The intolerable pain and suffering taken on by Jesus as he was abused, spat upon, mocked, and beaten is something we must all think about over these next few days. Having large nails driven into your hands and feet and being attached to a cross is something we simply can’t imagine.
Jesus’ suffering and crucifixion was not some kind of crazy act designed to impress. It was essential. It was needed in order to reconcile each and every human being to God. Each and every sin against God is represented by a drop of blood shed by Christ or by a nail driven into his bones. Yet was it really worth it? Do we really appreciate the freedom Christ gave us when he undertook this most loving, selfless act?
Jesus didn’t suffer so that I could hate.
Jesus didn't suffer so that I could be violent or persecute.
Jesus didn’t suffer so that I could hold grudges.
Jesus didn’t suffer so that I could gossip, complain or criticise.
Jesus didn’t suffer so that I could lie and be unfaithful.
Jesus didn’t suffer so that I would forget about him and never talk to him in prayer.
Jesus didn’t suffer so that I would rather do something else than spend time with him at Holy Mass and the Sacraments.
Jesus didn’t suffer for a select few. He suffered for me.
|Posted on March 21, 2016 at 10:30 AM||comments ()|
Today’s Gospel: (John 12: 1-11)
‘Six days before the Passover, Jesus went to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom he had raised from the dead. They gave a dinner for him there; Martha waited on them and Lazarus was among those at table. Mary brought in a pound of very costly ointment, pure nard, and with it anointed the feet of Jesus, wiping them with her hair; the house was full of the scent of the ointment. Then Judas Iscariot – one of his disciples, the man who was to betray him – said, ‘Why wasn’t this ointment sold for three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor?’ He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he was in charge of the common fund and used to help himself to the contributions. So Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone; she had to keep this scent for the day of my burial. You have the poor with you always, you will not always have me.’
Meanwhile a large number of Jews heard that he was there and came not only on account of Jesus but also to see Lazarus whom he had raised from the dead. Then the chief priests decided to kill Lazarus as well, since it was on his account that many of the Jews were leaving them and believing in Jesus.’
It’s hard to imagine what went through Jesus’ mind as he sat at table in the home of his friend Lazarus. He was just days from that most horrific persecution, when his detractors would finally have their wicked way with him and he would be hung on a cross and left to die. Yet here he is, sitting with his friend while the busy Martha scurries about waiting on them, and the more relaxed Mary pours an expensive fragrance over his feet.
The question often arises: are you a Martha or are you a Mary? Would you be too busy rushing around to appreciate the King in your presence, or would you recognise him immediately and desire to be at his side? Martha’s role in this episode is not without purpose. Her waiting on the Lord is a noble act and one deserving of praise. Mary’s actions are quite different. There is something quite beautiful about the simplicity of Mary making a beeline for Jesus with the jar of expensive ointment. Her focus is not so much to make everything perfect for Jesus as seems to be the case with Martha. Rather, Mary’s focus is to simply be by his side and spoil him with gifts.
Mary simply wanted to be close to Jesus and to show him how much she loved him. Martha undoubtedly loved Jesus too and she spent considerable effort in order to show this love. But she didn’t get close enough to him. Perhaps she kept what she thought was a ‘respectful’ distance, only periodically getting close in order to serve him his meal. But Jesus doesn’t just want us to flit in and out of his life. He wants something more concrete. He wants the closeness shown by Mary. If we are busy running around we perhaps forget the most important thing when it comes to our faith. That is, being close to Jesus. There is no need for a respectful distance. While Jesus is a King, he is a King with a difference. Unlike the many Kings and Queens of our world, Jesus does not care for pomp and ceremony in order for his people to get close to him. He is accessible 24/7 and he wants all people to come to him, from the lowest of the low to the greatest. We are all his children.
This Holy Week, think about your relationship with Jesus and how you can develop it for the better. Don’t get too caught up in the chores of the day at the expense of spending some time with Jesus, and be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking that Jesus isn’t accessible to you. He is right there by your side, right now! So stop and talk to him. Tell him what you think of him; tell him all your joys as well as your troubles and difficulties. And if you haven’t been to Mass for a while, consider coming back to be in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, where he is truly present…. body, blood, soul and divinity.
Jesus loves you more than anyone else and he just wants a little love back. So give him it. Be more Mary.
|Posted on March 18, 2016 at 8:45 AM||comments ()|
As we embark on another Holy Week we cast our hearts and minds back to Christ's persecution at the hands of his executioners. Jesus' Passion was a horrific and exhausting episode filled with hate, violence, abuse, blood and gore. All directed at one person.
The culmination of this hatred and violence was death on a cross. Left to hang in shame, to be gawped at by the very people he loved and was sent to save.
But thankfully, this death on a cross was not the end. Christ was to overcome the power of death to rise again and give all of us hope for eternal life. He gave us proof that death need not be the end.
This Lent, keep it simple. Praise and thank Jesus for the love he showed you and your family when he bore unimaginable abuse and violence in being beaten to the point of death.
Praise and thank him for the love he showed you and your family when he carried the Cross through the streets of Jerusalem, struggling under its weight, in front of countless people who had once love him but who now hated him.
Praise and thank Jesus for the love he showed you and your family when he had nails driven into his hands and feet and was left to hang on a cross to suffer the most excruciating death at the hands of people he loved.
And finally, praise and thank Jesus for his determination to overcome death when he got on his feet, rolled back the tomb stone and walked out to eternal life.
This Lent, keep it simple: praise and thank a real hero in Jesus Christ.
|Posted on February 11, 2016 at 12:19 PM||comments ()|
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 January 22, 2016 at 11:48 AM||comments ()|
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 January 11, 2016 at 8:39 AM||comments ()|
Jesus was compassionate but firm in the Truth
Pope Francis, during his Sunday Angelus, has spoken about the importance of Baptism and the role it plays in our lives. Having earlier baptised 26 baby girls and boys at morning Mass, the pope was keen to impress upon the gathered faithful the critical nature of this sacrament.
The pope said that in Baptism the Holy Spirit "burns and destroys original sin, returning to baptism the beauty of divine grace.”
The pope then stressed the importance of following Jesus and being obedient to the Truth whilst remaining true to Christ’s qualities of tenderness and humility. And here, I think, is the critical issue for us Christians today. While we must speak the Truth we must do it in a spirit of tenderness and humility. But similarly, while we must be tender and humble in our approach, we can never stray from the Truth. It's not a balancing act because that would suggest compromising one or both aspects. Instead we are called to deliver the Truth in its fullness and to do this in a fully humble and completely tender way.
In my experience people tend to be more inclined to do one more than the other. For example, some people may reject certain elements of Christ’s teaching with the aim of showing more compassion and tenderness to people. This is because some elements of teaching are difficult to accept, especially set against the backdrop of an increasingly liberal and relativist society. Others may be more determined to stick rigidly to the Truth but seem to lack that tenderness and humility, especially when they see a threat to Christ's teaching.
Ultimately we need to be firm in both elements. We need to be firm in our faith, in the same way that Christ was and in the way that God calls us to be. Jesus’ disciples died unimaginable deaths because they were firm in their faith and didn’t go along with the popular views of society. They stuck to their beliefs even though everybody mocked them and thought they were talking nonsense. They refused to reject the truth of Christ and the Church he established, preferring to invest their lives in being the men Jesus called them to be with the sure and certain hope of an eternal reward. Similarly, we need to be firm in our tenderness and humility. Jesus had an uncanny knack of being firm but also loving, gentle and kind. When he prevented the prostitute from being stoned by the scribes and the Pharisees he was careful to tell her to “go and sin no more”. But he did this while telling her that he didn't condemn her. He wanted her to stop sinning, to stick to the Truth. But he also wanted her to know that she was loved and that mercy would be shown to her.
It's important for us to remain true to both aspects when it comes to our faith. We must be true to Christ and his teaching and we must be tender and humble in remaining faithful to that teaching. The Truth is what it is and it doesn’t change. It can be found in your copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. And the tenderness and humility we need in order to take that Truth to others can be found in the loving person of Jesus Christ.
So, is it possible to be both faithful to the Truth and be tender and humble? Yes. Just look to the example of Jesus and in him you will find the perfection of fulfilling both aspects.
|Posted on August 14, 2015 at 8:19 AM||comments ()|
Venerable Fulton Sheen
Isn’t it fair to say that our Catholic faith is under attack from many angles in our world today? The growth of relativism, aggressive secularism, and even attacks from within our own ranks, by people who suggest that Church teaching is wrong on certain matters.
In my own experience it is becoming abundantly clear that more and more self-proclaimed Christians (especially Catholics) are attaching less and less importance to the role of faith, and ultimately Christ, in their lives. It brings to mind a quote of Venerable Fulton Sheen when he said “When somebody says: ‘I’m Catholic but…’ it means: they’re really not Catholic!” There are so many examples of people saying ‘I’m Catholic but…’ in our world today. Indeed it is a daily occurrence on social media forums. ‘I’m Catholic but I don’t go to Mass’; ‘I’m Catholic but I don’t go to Confession, I just go direct to God’; ‘I’m Catholic but I don’t think we should interfere with a woman’s choice when it comes to abortion’; ‘I’m Catholic but I believe that same-sex marriage is okay because two people love each other’.
And while those who propagate the view ‘I’m Catholic but…’ don’t seem to care much for the effect it has on the more traditional, conservative Catholic lay people around them; they don’t seem to appreciate the effect this has on the one who really matters….Jesus Christ.
It is often difficult to comprehend certain Truths taught by the Catholic Church; the Church’s stance on homosexual acts perhaps being the most relevant example. Nothing seems to stoke the flames as much as this issue. And even when the natural law, Sacred Scripture or the Catechism of the Catholic Church is quoted in defence of the Church’s position, it still isn’t enough to eradicate the view that the Church is out of touch and living in the past.
Yet what is the Church? Is it really a bunch of decrepit old men as is often argued? Certainly not. The Church is an assembly brought together by the Word of God, forming the People of God; a people nourished and sustained by the Eucharist. And by receiving this nourishment from Christ’s Body we too become the Body of Christ. The Church is the community of believers in Christ and his Truth. It is a people, stemming from Peter and the apostles through the ages to the present day. It is a people charged with the task of not only proclaiming the Truth but protecting it so that it may continue to live on through time, penetrating the hearts of countless peoples through the ages. And perhaps the most important component of the Church is its head; for it is Jesus Christ who is head of the Church. Not the pope, not the Bishops nor her priests. No, it is Christ; for it is Christ who formed the Church and it is Christ who promised to be with the Church until the end of time so that the gates of hell would never prevail against her.
When he formed the Church Jesus promised to be with her forever; and he remains with her to this day. And his Truth continues to exist to this very day because it has been protected by his Church. Just think of the apostles and how they, as a relatively small number, carried that Truth with them, taking it to everyone they met so that they might come to know Christ as they knew him. Think of how they changed hearts and minds with this Truth and how they were even prepared to take it to their excruciatingly painful deaths. Yet despite this, the Truth continued to penetrate time, through the early Church Fathers, the Saints, and through converts to the faith. And so it continued on and two thousand years later it remains with us today; that same Truth proclaimed by Jesus Christ and his apostles. And it is here because he promised it would be here. Jesus promised to be with his Church, and so his Truth lives on; protected and preserved by a people who love him and who trust completely in him.
While it can be incredibly difficult to live a life of faith in today’s world, especially a life of faith in a Catholic sense, we must remember that we are preserving the Truth of Christ, the one who created us and who loves us more than any other.
Another beautiful way to look at the Church is to see her as Christ’s bride. She waits for him to return to earth so that they, the bride and groom, can be completely united as one. If we let go of the Truth there will be no bride waiting for Jesus at the end of time. That is why it is so important for us to be true to our faith, every last bit of it. I have heard it said that the rib taken from Adam to create Eve was symbolic of Christ and the Church. That is how close Christ is to his Church! And when Christ died on the Cross on Calvary and his side was pierced by the roman soldier, the significance of Adam’s rib became even more apparent. For in the blood and water which poured forth from Christ’s side came his forgiveness; a forgiveness that he would soon thereafter charge to his disciples and to his Church. And the first person to fully appreciate the significance of the blood and water pouring from Christ’s side and who proclaimed him to be the ‘Son of God’? The Roman soldier Longinus (now St Longinus) who pierced his side. Many claim that he was the first convert to the Christian faith. So, the Church, the creation of which was foretold by the removal of Adam’s (Jesus) rib to create Eve (the Church), can now be seen pouring out of Christ’s side and reaching out to his created people, calling them to conversion and to come to know the Truth.
St Longinus would never dream of saying ‘I’m Catholic but….’
Longinus pierces Christ's side
|Posted on August 14, 2015 at 7:57 AM||comments ()|
|Posted on August 6, 2015 at 6:03 AM||comments ()|
This is what you call 'real love'
Sunday’s Second Reading (Ephesians 4:30-5:2):
‘Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God who has marked you with his seal for you to be set free when the day comes. Never have grudges against others, or lose your temper, or raise your voice to anybody, or call each other names, or allow any sort of spitefulness. Be friends with one another, and kind, forgiving each other as readily as God forgave you in Christ.
Try, then, to imitate God as children of his that he loves and follow Christ loving as he loved you, giving himself up in our place as a fragrant offering and a sacrifice to God.’
Ever think that to be a Christian in today’s world is hard? Are you often accused of living in the past and being intolerant of the views of others? Do people suggest that the Christian message is one of a harsh God who wreaks havoc on anyone who doesn’t believe in Him?
If this is your experience then perhaps this short passage from St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is the most appropriate response to these accusations. The Christian way is to ‘never have grudges against others’. The Christian way is to never ‘lose your temper’ or ‘raise your voice to anybody’. The Christian way is to never ‘call each other names or allow any sort of spitefulness’. The Christian way is to ‘be friends with one another, and kind, forgiving each other as readily as God forgave you in Christ’.
The Christian way is to love. And if ever there was an example of how great this love is and how we as Christians are expected to love, just look to the battered, bruised, bloodied, sacrificial body of Jesus Christ on the Cross. That, brothers and sisters, is Christian love.
In a world where life has increasingly little value (consider abortion, euthanasia, and the devastating havoc wrought by ISIS), people are crying out for the Christian message of love. It is our message of love that can bring peace to the world. Don't be fooled into thinking that we can achieve peace without Christ. We can't. Christ is our only hope.
Let us never be afraid to spread the Christian message of love to the four corners of the world, and let us continue to pray hard that the hearts of all people will be touched by the love of Christ. Only love, the Christian way, will bring true peace.