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Pope Francis announces changes to annulment process

Posted on September 8, 2015 at 11:38 AM Comments comments (0)
 
The pope has today announced changes to the procedures for those seeking annulments, making the process easier, more simplified and less expensive.
 
 
There is no longer a requirement for a twofold process in coming to a decision on marital nullity. The first decision, which is the responsibility of the Diocesan Bishop, shall be considered sufficient and binding and there will no longer be a second stage (known as 'automatic appeal') in the decision making process.  The outcome of the decision may still be appealed but it will not be automatic and there will be new rules built around the appeals process to ensure a party doesn't simply use it as a delaying tactic.
 
 
It isn’t reform on a grand scale and it does not remove or water down the Church’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, but it is a small change which will make the process easier for people seeking annulments in the future.  It is important to note that the changes don’t necessarily mean that more annulments will be granted.
 
 
Here is the full report from the Vatican News website:
 
Pope Francis issued two Apostolic Letters motu proprio on Tuesday, by which he introduced reforms to the legal structures of the Church, which deal with questions of marital nullity. One of the Letters motu proprio, known by its Latin title, Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus – or “The Lord Jesus, Clement Judge” – reforms the Code of Canon Law (CIC) governing the Latin Church, while the other, Mitis et misericorsIesus or “Clement and merciful Jesus” – reforms the Code of Canon Law for Oriental Churches (CCEO).
 
 
According to the prefatory remarks attached to both Letters, the reforms are the result of an expert group appointed to study the current state of law and practice in the Church as far as marriage law is concerned. The Holy Father goes on in the preface to explain that the reforms are guided by seven specific criteria, ample excerpts of which Vatican Radio offers below in its own unofficial English translation:
 
  1. That there be only one sentence in favor of executive nullity – It appeared opportune, in the first place, that there no longer be required a twofold decision in favor of marital nullity, in order that the parties be admitted to new canonically valid marriages: the moral certainty reached by the first judge according to law should be sufficient.
  2. A single judge under the responsibility of the Bishop – The constitution of a single judge in the first instance, who shall always be a cleric, is placed under the responsibility of the Bishop, who, in the pastoral exercise of his own proper judicial power shall guarantee that no laxity be indulged in this matter.
  3. The Bishop is judge – In order that the teaching of the II Vatican Council be finally translated into practice in an area of great importance, the decision was made to make evident the fact that the Bishop is, in his Church – of which he is constituted pastor and head – is by that same constitution judge among the faithful entrusted to him. It is desired that, in Dioceses both great and small, the Bishop himself should offer a sign of the conversion of ecclesiastical structures, and not leave the judicial function completely delegated to the offices of the diocesan curia, as far as matters pertaining to marriage are concerned.
  4. Increased brevity in the legal process – In fact, beyond making the marriage annulment process more agile, a briefer form of trying nullity cases has been designed – in addition to the documentary process already approved and in use – which is to be applied in cases in which the accusation of marital nullity is supported by particularly evident arguments. In any case, the extent to which an abbreviated process of judgment might put the principle of the indissolubility of marriage at risk, did not escape me [writes Pope Francis – ed.]: thus, I have desired that, in such cases the Bishop himself shall be constituted judge, who, by force of his pastoral office is with Peter the greatest guarantor of Catholic unity in faith and in discipline.
  5. Appeal to the Metropolitan See – It is fitting that the appeal to the Metropolitan See be re-introduced, since that office of headship of an Ecclesiastical province, stably in place through the centuries, is a distinctive sign of the synodality of the Church.
  6. The proper role of the Bishops’ Conferences – The Bishops’ Conferences, which must be driven above all by the anxious apostolic desire to reach the far-off faithful, should formally recognize the duty to share the aforesaid conversion, and respect absolutely the right of the Bishops to organize judicial power each within his own particular Church.
 
The re-establishment of vicinity between the judge and the faithful, in fact, shall not be successful if the stimulus does not come from the Conferences to the single Bishops, along with the necessary assistance, to put into practice the reform of the marital nullity process.
 
  1. Appeal to the Apostolic See – It is fitting that the appeal to the ordinary Tribunal of the Apostolic See, i.e. the Roman Rota, be maintained: this, in respect of a most ancient juridical principle, so that the bond between the See of Peter and the particular Churches be reinforced – having care, in any case, in the discipline of the use of said appeal, to contain any and all abuse of right, in order that the salvation of souls be given no cause for harm.
 
Indeed, the prefatory remarks make clear from the very start, that thesingle most important principle guiding the Holy Father’s action and the workof reform undertaken, is that of salus animarum – the salvation of souls– which is the suprema Ecclesiae lex – the supreme law of the Church.
 

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 (0)
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?
 

Church's willingness to forgive women who have had abortions is nothing new

Posted on September 1, 2015 at 11:25 AM Comments comments (0)
The Church recognises the tragedy of abortion
 
Pope Francis has asked priests not to withhold God’s mercy to women who have had abortions and who seek forgiveness for it during the Church’s upcoming Year of Mercy.
 
 
The pope, in a letter addressed to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, Archbishop of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation, said that: “I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it.”
 
 
The pope also said: “May priests fulfil this great task by expressing words of genuine welcome combined with a reflection that explains the gravity of the sin committed, besides indicating a path of authentic conversion by which to obtain the true and generous forgiveness of the Father who renews all with his presence.”
 
 
But is this really the headline grabbing story some are suggesting it is?  Not quite.  So what has changed, if anything?  Well, the big (and only!) change comes in the shape of who can forgive a woman who has procured an abortion.  Normally this is a matter for the local Bishop but the pope, in his letter, is allowing priests to do this.  That’s the change heralded in the pope’s letter.  Nothing more.  Indeed it's an even more insignificant change when you consider that Bishops already have the power to delegate such a power to priests in their diocese.  The net effect of the change is that absolution may be given on the spot in the confessional without the need for the priest to approach the Bishop about the matter.
 
 
Church teaching on abortion has not, and will not, change.  The Church believes that all human life, from the moment of conception until natural death, must be protected.  Since the very beginning the Church has denounced abortion as a moral evil, a teaching it states in the Catechism is ‘unchangeable’. The Church teaches that abortion willed either as an end or a means is gravely contrary to the moral law.  It also states that formal cooperation in an abortion ‘constitutes a grave offence’. 
 
 
In terms of the consequences of procuring abortion the Church is clear that such an offence ‘incurs excommunication latae sententiae’ (immediately on commission of the offence), yet it is the text that follows which is of most interest.  The Catechism states that ‘the Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy.  Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society’.
 
 
In essence, the Church is open to the possibility of forgiveness for someone who has procured abortion, subject always to the Code of Canon Law which sets out the circumstances when a person cannot be guilty of a grave offence or who is guilty but with diminished responsibility for their actions.  An example of this would be a person who is unaware (through no fault of their own) of the Code of Canon Law or who was forced to commit the grave offence through fear. 
 
 
This actually fits in perfectly with something else the pope said in his letter to Archbishop Fisichella (the bit the mainstream media are leaving out): “The tragedy of abortion is experienced by some with a superficial awareness, as if not realizing the extreme harm that such an act entails. Many others, on the other hand, although experiencing this moment as a defeat, believe they have no other option. I think in particular of all the women who have resorted to abortion. I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision. I know that it is an existential and moral ordeal. I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonizing and painful decision. What has happened is profoundly unjust; yet only understanding the truth of it can enable one not to lose hope. The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented, especially when that person approaches the Sacrament of Confession with a sincere heart in order to obtain reconciliation with the Father.”
 
 
The Church has, and always will, provide those involved in abortion with the opportunity to confess their sins and have those sins forgiven.  This will always be the case and it is not true that the Church is suddenly offering women the chance of forgiveness for abortion during a one year 'window of opportunity', as has been reported by some media outlets.  The Church’s doors are always open to those seeking God’s forgiveness.  In that sense what the pope is doing is nothing radical.  However, his timing is interesting, getting the world talking about abortion at the same time as the Planned Parenthood scandal.  
 
  
It is also worth noting that, contrary to popular misconception, excommunication is, along with the other two censures of the Church (suspension and interdict), not so much a punishment but a medicine for the wellbeing of the soul.  It is ordered to help the person, not punish them.

Petition urges Pope Francis and Bishops to adhere to Truth at Synod

Posted on August 28, 2015 at 9:39 AM Comments comments (0)
 
The TFP Student Action Group has set up a petition asking Pope Francis to reinforce Church teaching on marriage and the family at the upcoming Synod in Rome.
 
 
The petition has been started in response to some Bishops and also the mainstream media who are trying to force through change to fit with what society perceives as truth, as opposed to what Christ and his Church teaches as Truth.
 
 
Attacks on the family have been coming thick and fast over the last fifty or sixty years and this most basic yet most cherished aspect of life which has served us so well for so long is slowly being eroded to nothing.  Consider contraception, a moral evil which has perhaps served as the catalyst for so much evil that has followed since.  Consider abortion, where millions of innocent lives are destroyed every year across the world, all in the name of ‘choice’.  And then there is the redefinition of marriage, a recent phenomenon where God’s very own definition of marriage between one man and one woman has been torn up and thrown to the wind.  Add to that the ever increasing push to remove terms such as ‘father’ and ‘mother’ out of circulation and you have the most horrifying and testing time for the family unit since time began.
 
 
And what have we done about it?  What do we have to show for our efforts to stop these evils?  Pretty much nothing.  Nada.  1.2 billion Catholic people supposedly live on this earth and yet we struggle to uphold some of God’s most basic truths, His most basic instructions. 
 
 
And the worst of it?  So many of our own brothers and sisters are defying God’s Truth and supporting these concepts.  Contraception is seen as a necessity, abortion is seen as someone else’s choice, and the redefinition of marriage just seems like the right thing to do. They say: ‘to hell with what God and the Church might think, Jesus was a nice guy and he would want us to give the thumbs up to preventing procreation, to killing innocent babies and condoning sexual activity between people of the same sex.’   
Yes, Jesus would just love to see the ruination of the family unit; after all he didn’t care a jot about his stepfather Joseph and his mother Mary!
 
 
No, Jesus is God.  And Jesus held firm to the Truth he himself gave to the world.  His manner of holding firm to the Truth is something we can and should take note of; full of love, compassion and kindness.  But also firm and determined.  Firm in the Truth he came to earth to reveal to us and which he subsequently entrusted to his Church, and determined to never let the devil have his way by destroying that Truth.
 
 
Brothers and sisters, please consider joining hundreds of thousands of Catholics who, like Jesus, are determined to hold firm to the Truth.  Will you be strong in your faith and reject any notion of allowing evil to creep into our society?  Are you prepared to let nothing stand in the way of you being true to God, just as the saints did? 
Let us rise determinedly as one body in Christ to protect his Truth and to allow the family to flourish.  Mother, father, brother, sister; this is God's divine plan.  
 
 
Please join a growing list of religious and civil leaders by signing the petition and let's encourage the Holy Father and the Bishops to remain faithful to God and His Church. 
 
 
 

Pope Francis: we must never be slaves to our work

Posted on August 13, 2015 at 7:17 AM Comments comments (0)
 
Pope Francis, at his weekly General Audience on Wednesday, urged the faithful not to be slaves to their work but instead to master it.  The pope said, “We must never be slaves to work but rather its master.” However, he added that “we know that millions of men and women, even children, are slaves to work.  The obsession with economic profit and technical efficiency puts the human rhythms of life at risk.”
 
 
The pope then focussed on the need to rest, especially on Sundays, saying “Moments of rest, especially on Sunday, are sacred because in them we find God.”
 
 
The pope concluded his General Audience with a prayer: “May we always recognise the family as the privileged place to understand, guide and sustain the gifts which arise from our celebrations, especially the Sunday Eucharist.”
 

Archdiocese of Glasgow to get Auxiliary Bishop

Posted on July 7, 2015 at 9:03 AM Comments comments (0)
Archbishop Philip Tartaglia
 
Pope Francis has confirmed that Archbishop Philip Tartaglia’s request for an auxiliary bishop has been granted. 
 
 
The Archbishop made the request following his health scare at the beginning of the year and it is expected the new auxiliary will be in place around Easter 2016. 
 
 
Archbishop Tartaglia has requested nominations for the new role and this process will continue until the end of the summer when the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, will recommend three names to Rome.
 
Please remember to pray for all our clergy.
 

Is the Catholic Church too wealthy?

Posted on June 17, 2015 at 7:53 AM Comments comments (0)
 
It’s fairly common to be asked the following questions when you run an online Catholic apostolate: why doesn’t your church sell off its valuable assets to feed the poor?  Wouldn’t Jesus balk at the amount of wealth the Church has today?  Wouldn’t he give it all to the poor?
 
 
I do think these are all very valid questions and I believe there are also very good answers to them. But before we begin looking at those answers, perhaps it would be prudent to give the matter of Church wealth a bit of context.  The Vatican City is a unique economy in that it relies on the contributions of its worldwide Catholic congregations and also tourists visiting its attractions to support it.  This, in a nutshell, is the income received by the Catholic Church.
 
 
But what is this money spent on?  Well, the Catholic Church, like any other large organisation, has huge bills to pay such as as wages, utilities, and paying contractors, suppliers etc.  But the Church is also known to be the largest charitable organisation in the world.  With charities such as Missio, CAFOD, SCIAF to name only a few, the Church spends billions in providing assistance to those in need and has been doing so for thousands of years.  Indeed, at last count, the Catholic Church was home to a confederation of some 164 relief agencies providing essential care and relief to people in two hundred of the world’s poorest countries.
 
 
The Church is also the largest non-governmental provider of healthcare in the world, managing one quarter of the world’s healthcare facilities.
 
 
Further, the Church is one of the largest providers of welfare and education in the world, especially in developing countries where the provision of such services is most lacking.
 
 
But could the Church sell some of its assets and put the extra cash generated to good use?  Well, yes, the Church would certainly put any cash it may make to good use like it has done for thousands of years.  That is a given.  But what isn’t a given is whether there is actually a market for the Church’s most valuable assets and whether it would be worthwhile in the long run to shed those assets in this way. 
 
 
Taking the first point, do we really believe there to be sufficient interest in centuries old basilicas and churches for the church to generate reasonable income from a sale?  Would these big, old, a-listed buildings with massive overhead costs really tempt the market to come in with a tasty offer to take them from Church hands?  Perhaps they could be bought and torn down to make way for new, lucrative housing schemes.  But wouldn’t this be a defeat for the Church and a defeat for God?  Surely part of our work here on earth is to ensure a suitable home for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament?  Surely we are duty bound to create and maintain a place where God’s people can come to Him and give him glory and praise in the company of others of like mind?  Wouldn’t signing off the death warrant of these buildings be an offence against God?
 
 
And what about the art treasures holed up in the Vatican museums?  Couldn’t those be sold off for billions of pounds and the money given to the poor?  Well, yes, these treasures could be sold off and the money given to the poor.  But once sold and in the hands of a new owner they would be gone for good and would no longer serve as an attraction to bring millions of visitors to the Vatican.  This would affect the number of visitors to the Vatican which in turn would affect the amount of money generated to feed the poor and care for the needy.
 
 
But if the Church did decide to sell off its assets and use the money to feed the poor, the big question we must ask ourselves is how long that feeding could be sustained.   The truth is, not very long.  More privileged societies plough millions, possibly billions, of pounds into charitable organisations every month in order to help the needy around the world. If the Catholic Church decided to sell its assets in order to look after the needy it would only be able to do so for a very short amount of time, probably just a few months, before the cash realised would dry up. Not only that but the Church itself would disappear because it could no longer pay its bills.  The end of the Catholic Church would create an enormous black hole in worldwide charitable giving and healthcare provision, the likes of which we have never witnessed.  At the end of the day, the results of a flash sale in Vatican assets would create a quick fix for a few, but it would also create a lifetime of poverty and destitution for many.
 
 
The Church - if it is to sustain its significantly high level of charitable giving and healthcare provision - must retain its valuable assets in order to continue to generate the income necessary to tend to the poor, needy and sick.  The consequences of failing to retain these assets simply doesn’t bear thinking about.
 
 
Another point many people make is Jesus’ attitude to the Church’s wealth.  But again these points are made without seeing the bigger picture of the Church as an organisation with bills like anyone else.  More crucially, it fails to recognise the Church’s status as the biggest provider of food to the starving in the world.  It fails to recognise the Church’s status when it comes to the provision of healthcare.  And perhaps most crucially, it fails to recognise Christ’s own personal attitude to how God should be glorified. 
 
 
Consider the occasion when Jesus ate at the house of a Pharisee and Mary of Bethany approached him with an alabaster jar of costly fragrant oil, proceeding to pour the oil over him. The house was in uproar because of Mary’s supposed wastefulness.  People even suggested that she should have kept the oil and sold it, giving the proceeds to the poor.  Jesus’ response to this?  He said that Mary had done a good deed.  Indeed he went even further than this saying: “The poor you will always have with you. But you will not always have me.”  Jesus did not believe Mary had done the wrong thing by not using the oil in order to help the poor.  His need was greater and he was grateful of this simple act of great love towards him.  And so we must consider this when we look at the Church and how it glorifies God.  A beautiful Church is not a contradiction to the Church’s mission to care for the poor.  Indeed it is quite the opposite.  It is a gesture of our love for God and a real, tangible example of our need to glorify Him, just as Mary’s simple gesture of love was a real and tangible act of glorifying God.    
 
 
Consider also when Jesus entered the temple to find the money changers doing their dealings in his Father’s house.  Wasn’t he extremely angry with them?  Didn’t he make whips out of some cord and chase them out?  But why did Jesus do this?  He did it because they were profaning the house of God.  The actual dealings of those in the temple weren’t the cause of Jesus’ anger.  It was the fact that they were taking place in God’s house.  And so Jesus places huge importance on church buildings and our need to have them to glorify God.  
 
 
But what about when the man who has kept all the Commandments approaches Jesus and asks him what he must do to inherit eternal life?  Jesus tells him to sell all he has and give to the poor.  Doesn’t this contradict what we have already discovered?  No it doesn’t and here is why.  This man was very rich and his reaction to Christ’s call was telling.  He went away sorrowful because of what he was  expected to do.  There was no obvious willingness on the part of the man to do as Jesus says. He was a man who did not give anything to the poor and, despite Jesus’ best efforts, he wasn’t about to start. This is different to the Church which already gives billions to the poor every year.  Not only that but it spends time with the poor through missionary work and putting at risk the lives of those priests, religious and volunteers who do such work.  Charitable work isn’t just about throwing money at something, it’s about giving up the comfortable life and spending a little time with those in most need.  The man described above is not only unwilling to give any of his wealth away but he is also unwilling to devote any time to the poor.   This is the complete opposite of what the Church does.
 
 
Ultimately, if the Church wishes to maintain its status as the bride of Christ it must ensure that it is a fitting bride.  It must be beautiful and glorious, but it must also be in the trenches tending to those in most need.  As Catholic people we believe in Christ’s promise that he will be with the Church until the end of time, and it is with this promise in mind that we can be confident that the Church has struck the perfect balance of being the perfect bride and of being the beacon of hope to the billions of people in our world who suffer from poverty, deprivation and illness.
 
 
Remember, God is love and the Church is the physical, earthly presence charged with the task of bringing that love to all people.  And what is love?  Latin for love is caritas, which means ‘charity’. 
 

Pope urges families to stand up to ideological attacks

Posted on June 15, 2015 at 12:07 PM Comments comments (0)
 
Pope Francis on Sunday evening encouraged families to withstand the threat of ideological attacks on the institution of the family.
 
 
The pope encouraged parents to protect their children from such attacks and spoke of the need of a "moral and spiritual rebirth".
 
 
Francis also elaborated on the beauty and diversity of male and female characteristics saying “complementarity and reciprocity” within families are very important for the healthy growth of children who must not be afraid of differences and must witness the joy of conjugal love in order to grow and develop with confidence and security.
 
 
He also encouraged couples who separate never to forget their duties as parents.
“Do not speak ill of each other” the pope said: that’s how children learn how to be hypocritical and to take advantage of others.
 
 
Source: en.radiovaticana.va

Andrea Bocelli speaks to Vatican about the importance of the family

Posted on May 21, 2015 at 11:53 AM Comments comments (0)
Andrea Bocelli is a man of great faith
 
Famed for having one of the most incredible voices on the planet, Andrea Bocelli is also well known for being a man of great faith and devotion to God.
 
 
Bocelli, who was born with congenital glaucoma and has been blind since a young age, is only alive because his mother rejected the advice of doctors that he be terminated.  This decision not only brought about a beautiful son, grandson, nephew and so on for their family, but it also brought about a genius musician with a voice to rival all others.  A voice the world could enjoy.
 
 
It is no surprise then, given his mother’s sacrificial love, that Bocelli is a real family man.  With a wife and three children of his own he openly states that “family is such an important thing”.  So much so that he is in the process of finalising his latest work titled ‘The Great Mystery: The Gospel of the Family, School of Humanity for Our Times’.  The work will be performed at various venues throughout the world, most notably in the Basilica of the Holy Family in Barcelona on 28 May and then in Philadelphia during the World Congress of the Families on September 26.  It is part of a Vatican initiative leading up to the second phase of the Synod on the Family in October.
 
 
The Vatican has confirmed that the initiative contains two aspects, singing in the cathedrals and in the squares.  And Bocelli has confirmed that, whenever he is in Church, the music will be exclusively sacred music. This, he said, was very important to him.
 
 
While we shall all look forward to hearing Andrea’s wonderful and powerful voice once more, his message about the importance of the family should bring into focus once again the need for us to play our part in protecting the sacred institution of the family and the parts which make it; father, mother and child. 
 
 
 

Confessing our Sins and Keeping God’s Commandments: the Key to Perfection (Dwelling on the Word of God, Sunday 19th April 2015)

Posted on April 17, 2015 at 4:29 AM Comments comments (0)
 
From Sunday’s First Reading (Acts 3:13-15,17-19):
 
‘Now you must repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out.’
 
Peter, in the short passage from Sunday’s first reading, gives a clear and incredibly simple instruction to the people who put Christ to death.  He tells them to repent of their sins and turn to God; and the result of this according to Peter?  Their sins will no longer exist.  It’s very simple stuff!  It's also incredibly merciful when you consider what the people did to Jesus; how they ridiculed him, abused him, spat on him and beat him.  Yet here is one of Jesus' most trusted friends telling them that all is forgiven, if they just say they are sorry. 
 
 
But is there anything more we can add to this instruction from Peter?  Let’s consider Sunday’s second reading from St John:
 
Sunday’s Second Reading (1 John 2:1-5):
 
‘I am writing this, my children,
to stop you sinning;
but if anyone should sin,
we have our advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ, who is just;
he is the sacrifice that takes our sins away,
and not only ours,
but the whole world’s.
We can be sure that we know God
only by keeping his commandments.
Anyone who says, ‘I know him’,
and does not keep his commandments,
is a liar,
refusing to admit the truth.
But when anyone does obey what he has said,
God’s love comes to perfection in him.’
 
Here John puts a little more meat on the bones of Peter’s instruction to repent and turn to God.  He gives a similar instruction to turn to Christ if we should sin.  But it is the next part which is the challenge and it is along similar lines to Jesus’ call to the woman at the well to “go and sin no more”.  Here John the Evangelist tells us that we must keep God’s Commandments, and he also states that keeping God’s Commandments is the only way to ‘know God’.  But what does it mean to ‘know God’?  The clue is in the last sentence of the passage.  God’s love will come to perfection in us if we keep His Commandments; that is, the perfect love of God will shine through us and out of us to the world if we do as He says.  We will become beacons of love, mercy, peace and hope for all.
 
 
This is in keeping with the recent Papal Bull of Indiction where Pope Francis revealed a jubilee Year of Mercy from 8 December 2015 (the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception).  Our call is to go out to the world and to show mercy to everyone.  No exceptions.  But in order to be a merciful people we first need to receive God’s mercy and we must keep His Commandments.  Only if our own house is in order will we be in a fit and proper state to administer to others.  Think of a doctor or a lawyer.  Professionals in these fields need to satisfy annual training requirements and receive an annual certificate authenticating their ability to practice.  If they don’t fulfil these requirements they are not considered to be fit and proper persons with respect to their work and they cannot diagnose patients’ ills or advise clients on legal problems.  They are essentially deemed unfit and incapable of carrying out their job.
 
 
And so it is with God.  Unless we first seek His forgiveness for our own wrongdoings and thereafter keep His Commandments, we are deemed unfit to administer to those around us.  Only God gives us true love, true mercy, true peace and true hope.  And if we want to care for those around us and give them a real and proper love, unconditional mercy, perfect peace and a sure and certain hope, we must seek God in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, because it is in that Sacrament where we will find all of these things and much more besides.  And it is this Sacrament which gives us the graces we need to go forth into the world with God’s Commandments firmly in heart and mind, to bring God’s perfect love, mercy, peace and hope to all people. No exceptions.