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Cardinal Sarah warns against 'demonic gender ideology'

Posted on December 6, 2016 at 9:34 AM Comments comments ()


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?


Concluding Remarks

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.”

Where have all the Catholic men gone?

Posted on April 19, 2016 at 11:42 AM Comments 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.


Catholic men can rebuild our broken society

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?”

Christ's broken body is the example we are called to follow 

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.





Will you wash the feet of those closest to you tonight?

Posted on March 24, 2016 at 7:00 AM Comments comments ()
In today’s Gospel we hear about the washing of the apostles’ feet by Jesus.  Peter was very resistant to this as it seemed completely absurd to have Jesus do such a thing.  This was, after all, God made man, the Saviour of the world!  It should surely be the other way round would have been Peter’s thinking.


Yet Jesus makes it clear that this is something he must do.  Firstly, he makes it clear that “unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”  This is a clear link to our Baptism and its fundamental importance in our salvation.  It is also a link to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where we are once again clothed in the white robe of our Baptism and brought to new life.  Our inheritance, it seems, is dependent on living in accordance with Christ’s teaching, and this is achieved through our acceptance of and living in the Sacraments of his Church.


Christ’s washing of the apostles’ feet is also a sign that he is here to serve rather than be served.  It is also considered by many to be an important sign of the priesthood and its role in taking the love of God to all people.  And this is what I would like to focus on for a moment.  Despite being in the knowledge of the intolerable pain and suffering he was about to endure, Christ took time out to perform this simple but critical act of love.  And that is what we need to take from this special moment between Jesus and his apostles.  It was an act of selfless love; a visible sign of how man should treat man.  Jesus wanted to show this love to his apostles so that they would then do the same to others.


This Holy Week, are you prepared to wash the feet of those closest to you?  While we may participate in the washing of the feet during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper we must also remember that our homes and families are small churches too.  So after tonight’s Mass when you get home, consider washing the feet of your family and perhaps take turns doing so.  And while this is something that can be initiated by any member of the family, perhaps those of you who are fathers can take the lead.  Men are called to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and tend to their own flock in the same way that Jesus did.  And what better way to do this than to replicate Christ’s actions and wash the feet of those closest to you?  While simple, this act of love carries with it an incredible power, the power of Christ who makes all things new.  And for those of you with children in your household, it will create a real sense of intrigue among them and they will no doubt want to learn more.  It’s a great opportunity to explain to them, in simple terms and by action, just how much Jesus loves them and how much you love them too.




The Parable of the Merciful Father

Posted on March 4, 2016 at 12:22 PM Comments comments ()
The Gospel you will hear at Mass this Sunday is perhaps one of the most well-known passages of sacred scripture.  It is often referred to as the parable of the prodigal son (though I personally prefer to refer to it as the parable of the merciful father).


It is an astounding parable and it brings home the reality of God’s mercy.  No matter the sin, your Father is waiting for you to return to Him and seek his forgiveness.  Whatever you may have done or failed to do in terms of keeping God’s commandments and living a good, holy life, never forget that forgiveness is just around the corner.


There is no doubting the availability of God’s mercy.  But perhaps the biggest problem is within us, and our failure to acknowledge God as our Father and our failure to accept that He really does forgive us.  In order to reconcile ourselves to God we need to seek Him in the sacrament of reconciliation and it is in that sacrament that God really does pour out His forgiveness.  We need to accept this and then approach him, just as the son did in the parable.  The father couldn’t forgive the son unless the son first sought the father’s forgiveness.


That must be our challenge this Lent and thereafter.  We must be willing, like the son, to search out the Father and ask Him to forgive our failures, our sin.  God will never deny us His forgiveness.  But we must be prepared to ask for it.

Short film calls men to be real men, sacrificing all for others

Posted on January 8, 2016 at 8:45 AM Comments comments ()
Following on from Bishop Thomas Olmstead's exhortation document Into the Breach, a short film has been produced to encourage men to be real men, following in the footsteps of Christ and sacrificing everything for others.

Calling Catholic Men

Posted on October 19, 2015 at 10:50 AM Comments comments ()
Guys: don't be afraid to pick up your Rosary beads
 
In our mixed up world of today we are frightfully obsessed with pitting men against women and women against men. For some strange reason the idea of men and women teaming up and complimenting each other has been lost in a society obsessed with competing with one another and forgetting our most basic call to love.
 
 
The Catholic Church is a great believer in the complimentary of the sexes and the need for man and woman to come together as one flesh. And why wouldn't it be? The whole of humanity hinges on it after all!
 
 
First we had Paul VI and his encyclical Humanae Vitae, then we had John Paul II and his talks on Theology of the Body. And now we have Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix giving his view on the matter, as he focuses on challenging Catholic men to be real men for the woman in their life. Too many Catholic husbands forget their marital obligation and fall into the trap of thinking that they are more important than their wife. Listen up guys....you are not more important than your wife. She is far more important than you!
 
 
The temptations of the world are put there by the devil to lure men away from the commitment they have made to their wives. He desperately prowls around laying traps to seduce men and take their gaze and attention away from their beloved.  And if he succeeds he will not only have lured those men from their wives, he will also have lured them away from God. And that is his main aim.
 
 
The sexual act is at the very centre of God’s plan for humanity. His first instruction to mankind was to “be fruitful and multiply”. Why do you think sex has become so distorted? Because it’s critical to God’s divine plan and is thus the devil’s favourite point of attack!
 
 
With this in mind the call of Bishop Olmsted is one that is most timely and it is a call that all men would do well to take on board. While it may be hard to believe, the future of our society depends so much on strong men, especially strong Christian men rooted in Christ.  The Bishop suggests all Catholic men do the following on a daily basis: pray, go to Mass (where possible), read the Bible, and examine your conscience before bed.  He also suggests that men go to Confession on a monthly basis. All of this coupled with an unconditional and dedicated commitment to our wives would put the evil one well and truly on the back-foot. There is nothing satan hates more than a committed Catholic man, dedicated to his wife and family, who has every intention of sticking to God’s divine plan.
 
 
The priority of every Catholic husband must be to ensure his wife and children get to Heaven. Everything else must take second place.  And so, in the words of St Paul, let us “put on the armour of God [and] stand firm against the tactics of the devil.” 
 
 
 
If you would like to read Bishop Olmsted’s letter to Catholic men, click this link: http://www.intothebreach.net/into-the-breach/
 

Pro-life alternative to Planned Parenthood starts to impact on US abortion numbers

Posted on July 31, 2015 at 9:31 AM Comments comments ()
Kathleen Eaton Bravo is herself a post-abortive mother
 
Obria medical clinics.  Never heard of them?  That’s understandable, because they only exist in the United States.  But these clinics are fast becoming abortion giant Planned Parenthood’s worst nightmare as they fight against the anti-life tide to offer people an alternative to abortion.
 
 
Kathleen Eaton Bravo, who founded Birth Choice more than thirty years ago and who is credited with kickstarting the Obria model, says that Obria has gone from saving around four babies in 2006 to almost 1,000 in 2014; and this appears to be having a negative impact on the number of abortions performed at Planned Parenthood.  Bravo says: “As I started doing research and talking to the young people coming into our clinics, they said, ‘I went to Planned Parenthood. I’m just a number. But I come over here, and you sit down with me and don’t have an agenda. I’m telling all my friends about you.  And before we knew it, we were seeing over 13,000 patients in those three little clinics.”
 
 
The clinics offer a number of professional services for both women and men when it comes to pregnancy, including pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and advice on natural family planning.  The inclusion of the father is critical in the Obria model and is very much at odds with Planned Parenthood and the general secular view that pregnancy is nothing to do with men.
 
 
Obria professionals are prepared to discuss the topic of abortion with those who attend their clinics but the focus is very much on alternatives to abortion and no Obria clinic offers abortion services.  Neither do they provide any form of contraceptive.
 
 
In this sense Obria is very much a beacon of hope for the pro-life movement as it lines up against the abortion conveyor belt that is Planned Parenthood.  Bravo has plans to take the model throughout the United States and encourages existing pregnancy centres to consider Obria's franchise option.  We can only hope Obria decides to make the leap across the Atlantic to bring hope to the United Kingdom.
 
 
 
 

Calling Catholic dads: join in our Year for Fathers!

Posted on March 19, 2015 at 10:44 AM Comments comments ()
 
As we celebrate the Solemnity of St Joseph Scots Catholic is kickstarting a year of prayer for Catholic fathers. 
 
Our aim is to discover what it truly means to be a Catholic father and the role we play in the lives of our families and wider society.
 
And what better day to kick things off than the solemnity of St Joseph, step-father to Jesus Christ?
 

A call to Catholic dads: man up and make Jesus the real hero! (Dwelling on the Word of God, Sunday 1st March 2015)

Posted on February 27, 2015 at 10:11 AM Comments comments ()
Jesus Christ: truly heroic
 
Sunday’s First Reading (Genesis 22:1-2,9-13,15-18):
 
‘God put Abraham to the test. ‘Abraham, Abraham’ he called. ‘Here I am’ he replied. ‘Take your son,’ God said ‘your only child Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him as a burnt offering, on a mountain I will point out to you.’
 
When they arrived at the place God had pointed out to him, Abraham built an altar there, and arranged the wood. Then he bound his son Isaac and put him on the altar on top of the wood. Abraham stretched out his hand and seized the knife to kill his son.
 
But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven. ‘Abraham, Abraham’ he said. ‘I am here’ he replied. ‘Do not raise your hand against the boy’ the angel said. ‘Do not harm him, for now I know you fear God. You have not refused me your son, your only son.’ Then looking up, Abraham saw a ram caught by its horns in a bush. Abraham took the ram and offered it as a burnt-offering in place of his son.
 
The angel of the Lord called Abraham a second time from heaven. ‘I swear by my own self – it is the Lord who speaks – because you have done this, because you have not refused me your son, your only son, I will shower blessings on you, I will make your descendants as many as the stars of heaven and the grains of sand on the seashore. Your descendants shall gain possession of the gates of their enemies. All the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your descendants, as a reward for your obedience.’’
 
 
This is perhaps one of the most difficult passages in scripture for us to understand.  Can you imagine if you picked up the paper to read that a man took his son up a mountain to sacrifice him for God??  To say there would be an outcry would be a huge understatement.  Thankfully God didn’t want Abraham to actually sacrifice Isaac; rather, God wanted to see if he was prepared to do it.  And he was.  Out of fear and respect Abraham was prepared to do whatever God asked of him.
 
So how can we align this to today and our own lives?  Can we class ourselves as an Abraham, willing to entrust our children to God?  Perhaps the first thing to do is to think about who our children really are.  Do we consider our children to be gifts from God, entrusted to us by their true Father in Heaven?  And in response to this great gift from the Father do we praise and glorify Him and teach our children to do the same?  If the answer is yes to both of these questions then you are on your way to being a modern day Abraham!  You accept that your children belong to God and you delight that He has chosen you to look after his little ones! 
 
But there’s more; and while the following is relevant to all parents, perhaps it is most relevant to the fathers among us.  As Catholic fathers we are all called to be Abraham.  We must always remember that God created our children and it is to Him that they will hopefully one day return.  God wants His children returned to Him and He has entrusted you with the task of shaping His child and developing that child into a tabernacle in which the Holy Spirit can flourish for all eternity.  You aren’t just raising your child so that they have a nice life, visit lots of places, experience lots of thrills and die at a respectable 80 or 90 years of age.  You are raising your child so that they will live forever in Paradise!  What responsibility!  And while western society is making a very good job of trying to dispense with the need for fathers in our world, nobody can deny that every child has one.  So, can you be like Abraham and do whatever God tells you to do?  Can you be the ultimate father to your child?   
 
Jesus, when he died on the Cross, was the sacrifice God was preparing the world for when he sent Abraham up the mountain to sacrifice Isaac.  God, in His love for us, didn’t hesitate to spare Isaac when he realised what faith Abraham had in Him.  But years later, and on another mountain (Calvary), it was God’s own son who would be sacrificed.  And it would be the sacrifice to end all sacrifices; a sacrifice to bring an end to death itself and open the gates to eternal life in Heaven.  And while many may criticise God for having done this to His own son, He did it out of love for all of His children; that is, every human being who has ever lived and is to live. 
 
God doesn’t want you to take your child up a mountain so that you can offer them up as a human sacrifice.  But He does want you to respond to His call to raise that child to be like His own son, Jesus Christ.  He wants your child to share in the perfect life of Jesus and to make Jesus the ultimate role model.  No footballers, no movie stars, no musicians.  Jesus. And the first step to ensuring Christ is the role model of choice for our children?  We must make him our role model too.
 
So let us all accept the great gift of children from the Father and let us put in the effort to give them the best chance of eternal life.  And may all of us, especially the dads, make Jesus our role model so that our children will know that following Jesus is the best way to live their life. Remember, Jesus is ‘the way, the truth, and the life’.  He is the only way to the Father.  While Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo may provide you with great goals, and Johnny Depp may deliver a flawless big screen performance, none of them can possibly give you eternal life. By all means enjoy what talents these guys have to offer; they are, after all, gifts from God.  But when your child asks you who your role model is and who they should aspire to be, only one name should fall from your lips: the name of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world.  So man up all you fathers out there, and don't be afraid to tell your kids who the real hero is!     
 

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