Monday, 22 October 2018
I promised blogs on Sunday Mass readings, but I thought I should first say a few words about the 2018 Synod on youth, and what I expect from it.
Well, as a faithful Catholic what I expect is direction on how to hand on to the youth the Deposit of Faith received from Christ and His Apostles. I think we have failed to do this for decades. Catechesis for children went from study of the catechism scaffolding upon which to build) to a fluffy Christ who just loves everyone, while out seminaries taught real call to conversion from sin because God loves everyone ‘wherever they are at’. What we have in the Synod then is a group of souls who do not appear to be well formed but think that to love the sinner is to celebrate and welcome the sin or, at the very least, tolerate it. It does not bide wel for the souls of the youth or the participants of the synod.
Many today repeat Our Blessed Lord’s advice “Do not judge” (Matt.7v1), even among the highest of ecclesiastics, but they do so without any reference to His related injunction “When you judge…” (Jn.7v24). So while as a faithful Catholic I expect the synod to affirm the fact that God loves all people and calls them to Himself by a life of virtue, as a realist what I think what we will get will be a demolishing of Catholic moral teaching in order to become ‘relevant’ to, and ‘inclusive’ of, today’s pagan world. The members of the synod talk about listening to the youth, but the youth are not well formed, if indeed they are formed at all. It is a sad thing that young people from Australia have felt the need to write to the Synod all-but correcting them, rightly saying that the youth cannot help form the Church until the Church forms them. Their excellent letter states:
“We can’t hope to take shape amidst confusion over issues such as contraception, sexuality, communion for divorcees and non-Catholics, married priests and female ordination. Such confusion is borne from senior prelates purposefully employing ambiguous language when addressing such issues, even in the face of Christ’s teachings, the Church Fathers and the clear dogma of the Church. Such ambiguity is neither charitable nor desired by the youth and needs to be addressed by this Synod.
“Some of the Synod Fathers wish to avoid a Church of ‘rules’ which fail to encourage a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. However these rules lead us to Christ, they always have. We need the Church to explain why and how this is.
“When the Church eschews the truth for policy-speak, young people are left with only superficial banalities to express their beliefs. Deliberately unclear words are, ironically, relied on and repeated with rigidity. The Church should not discourage young people following its rules in love, nor its priests from teaching them.” (see LifeSite News, here).
In light of the 2015/15 Synods we may well see the current Synod walk down the road of pagan sexuality rather than Gospel virtue, LifeSite News reporting that Cardinal Maradiaga of Honduras is asking that the Church pay more attention to homosexuals and the “realities” they face, specifically mentioning “marriage,” surrogate pregnancy, and adoption, and Pope Francis again claiming that too many Catholics (I assume he means Traditionalists) are ‘rigid’, see LifesiteNews: “Be careful around those who are rigid,” he said. “Be careful around Christians –be they laity, priests, bishops– who present themselves as so 'perfect,' rigid. Be careful. There’s no Spirit of God there. They lack the spirit of liberty…”. And thank God for that -who wants to be liberated from the Gospel? Who wants to be liberated from the salvation it brings?
And may I note an assumption Francis makes? He states that Traditionalists see themselves as perfect, but I think the Confessional is more frequently visited by the Traditional Catholic who knows how imperfect he or she is; it is modern liberals who have abandoned the Confessional and appear to think they are doing well because they are involved in social justice, environmental issues, immigration issues, and the promotion of inclusion of those who are in public adultery or living out disordered sexuality.
By calling for liberty in morality one would only be asking the Church to play ‘footloose and fancy-free’ with Divine Revelation; thus as faithful Catholics we may rightly ask Francis to positively re-label ‘rigidity’ as ‘Commitment’, and the ‘rigid person’ as ‘committed; loyal’. That would, of course, be dangerous, because such positive labels show the modernisers to be lacking in commitment and in loyalty to the Gospel. We can only pray for the Synod members to hold fast to the teaching of the Ten Commandments and the Tradition handed on through 20 centuries of faith, rather than fall into being those who forget that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever; do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings” (Heb.13v7-9). Clearly there is no new teaching to be found; no ‘God of Surprises’, no matter how many times we are told there is. It seems that many of our shepherds (and sheep) are being carried away from the Divine Revelation by the novelties of today’s pagan society; by those who “follow their own desires” and “look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.” (2.Tim.4v3). Perhaps there are some shepherds who are happy to hear (or to be) such teachers, because it allows the living out of unnatural proclivities? Let us stay rigid (committed and loyal) Catholics; let us continue to speak the Truth which is Christ Himself (Jm.14v6) and not try to remake Him into a God of Surprises who, rather than being “the same today, yesterday and forever”, is submissive to and tossed about by man’s changing ideologies.
Let us pray for the Synod and for our shepherds, that the Holy Spirit will take their good intentions with their compassion for those who feel marginalised and focus them on helping the youth by a strong defence and promotion of the Gospel and its unchanging teachings; let us pray that they will have the courage and the will to present these teachings to the youth and the world with compassion and understanding, but with a firm yet kindly challenge. Let us pray that they do not fall prey to the enemy who seeks to make moral truth abhorrent and have our shepherds propagate his lies about what is good, beautiful and true. If our shepherds do not listen to the Holy Spirit and uphold established Catholic morality they are going to lead the youth down the road to perdition. As the above letter indicates, even good Catholic youth have seen that. I recommend their letter to readers -and to our prelates, especially those attending the synod.
Monday, 10 September 2018
I am sorry that there are so few postings for such a long time. I often get the urge to write a post but to be honest, the first obstacle to writing any posts was that they would probably be so negative in these days of scandal and self-destruction of the Church that they would not edify the reader or the writer. A second reason was that, as regular (or once-regular) readers of the blog will know, I developed some serious health issues over the last 12 months, and I don’t think it is good to blurb about them on a blog which is not meant to be a personal diary but a commentary on things Catholic.
That said, I do feel ashamed of the fact that I have not contributed anything to the Catholic blogosphere for a long time now, so I have tried to come up with a way of contributing to Catholic life without contributing to its self-destruction or my own ill-health. If I can I will post some short reflections on the Sunday Mass readings, so that I am at least offering some kind of spiritual food to Catholics. I may write on other topics as the notion takes me, but no promises… one such topic has been requested: what kind of things did I say in homilies at weddings and funerals that I might be able to share? What will come first I do not know; reflections on the Sunday readings or the homilies for weddings and funerals. Maybe not knowing will bring you here again...
Sunday, 27 May 2018
Sadly the people of Ireland have voted for the killing of unborn children. I know the ‘hard cases’ always get publicity, but the answer to these hard cases should not be “Kill the children!” but “Help the mothers!” (to overcome their difficulties). Ireland’s maternal death rate being one of the lowest in the world, it had the opportunity to remain a light to the world, but has become yet another country to align itself with the Culture of Death & Darkness purveyed by the Prince of Darkness.
The source of the vote for change was not so much the pro-death politicians or the physicians, or even the people of Ireland: two things lie at the root of the Irish vote to kill:  a kind of person-centred psychology which purveys relativism by saying “do whatever is right for you”; along with a script(!) which says “don’t follow any ‘scripts’ that others write for you; be your own Adult”, and , the failure of the Catholic Church to uphold the Gospel.
The window John XXIII opened to let in a bit of fresh air was not the opening of a window but the tearing down of a wall, leaving the Church open to a hurricane. And what a hurricane it was, gaining its foothold at the Second Vatican Council. From the time of the Council it appeared to many that it was a case of “All change” –and who can blame them? Almost everyone knew the saying “It’s the Mass that matters” for the Mass is the very source and summit of our lives being as it is [a] the making-present the Saviour in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity; [b] His Saving Sacrifice on Calvary made present to us, and [c] Heaven on earth (for where God is, heaven is). The Mass is the only thing this side of heaven that gives perfect praise and thanksgiving to God while making perfect propitiation for our sins. Its Rites were carefully preserved over 1,500 years to enshrine its supremely sacred realities -so “if we can change the Mass, we can change anything”. And not just anything but everything: the way we worship (liturgy); what we believe (doctrine) and how we behave (disciplines) –creating, in essence, all-but a new faith system.
From the days of the Second Vatican Council we have had voices calling for the sort of things the Church has always shuddered at: contraception; Holy Communion for those in formal adultery and more. The abortion vote in Ireland is a consequence of the Church taking an almost ‘about face’ turn in worship (where it is in fact a literal about face!); and about face in doctrine and an about face in discipline, leaving all things to be seen as open to change (yet not all change is good –some change is malignant). Sadly, then, it is a failure of the Church over the last 60 years that has taken Ireland from an alignment with Christ the Light of the World to an alignment with the Prince of Darkness and his Culture of Death; a culture which seeks to end people rather than problems. It cannot be any one else but Satan who is at the root of this extensive rejection of life and light. How sad that he has had so much help from so many that he has deceived even those who should have known better (those in the upper echelons of the Church) for 50 years plus…
I do hope that there is no harsh judgement of the women and men who chose to abort their children when they feel faced with overwhelming difficulties and their internal and external resources to cope are virtually nil, for in reality they have been led to think abortion is just another aspect of health care and probably not told about the many post-abortion problems to be faced, of which problems there is growing evidence (cf. deVeber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research), to say nothing of the physical riks to the mother attached to abortion (cf. NHS). It is my hope that these parents find the care they need from services such as Rachel’s Vineyard, which offers post-abortion healing to post-abortive mothers and fathers. Let us not blame the women and men who have been deceived; they need our care and healing touch. Rather, let us blame the one who deceived them –the Prince of Darkness- and his collaborators in the Church.
Friday, 25 May 2018
Lifesite News carries an article by Doug Mainwaring in which he relates that a homosexual man has reported that in a private conversation with Pope Francis the Pope told him “God made you gay”. CNN adds to the story:
‘Describing his encounter with the Pope to CNN, Cruz said: "You know Juan Carlos, that does not matter. God made you like this. God loves you like this. The Pope loves you like this and you should love yourself and not worry about what people say…” The Pope's words would amount to a significant departure from the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, which considers homosexuality "objectively disordered" and contrary to God's law.’ Vatican spokesman Greg Burke told CNN on Monday: "We do not normally comment on the Pope's private conversations."
People may take this as an affirmation of the gay lifestyle by the Pope, but it is not -because it cannot be. It is not wrong for Francis to say to a homosexual ‘God loves you’, for God loves everyone He creates, but it must be followed with ‘But He calls you to a life of virtue, just as He does everyone else.’ However, if what Francis said was ‘God made you gay’ he errs in fundamental moral theology, for to say ‘God made you that way’ is to say God positively created someone with what the Church calls an intrinsic disorder. Further, it implies that Mr. Cruz is not called to battle against a disoriented proclivity that arises from original sin, since God deliberately or at least knowingly created that disorientation within him –and is it not Apostolic teaching God temps no one to sin (cf.Jas.1v13)?
It seems to me the Vatican Press Office must either deny the Pope said made this statement to Mr Cruz or clarify the Pope's words. If the Vatican Press Office continues to hold to its line that it 'does not comment on the Pope’s private conversations', then I grinningly await the day a faithful Catholic has a private conversation with Francis and emerges saying “The Pope said the best thing Catholic folk can do in this time of doctrinal and liturgical disorder/crisis is to return to the Catechism of the Council of Trent and the Tridentine Mass”. I wonder how long it would take for the Vatican Press Office to deny that had been said?
Saturday, 31 March 2018
I have always told my congregations at the start of Lent: This is not a time to give up chocolate, sugar or TV; it’s a start, but lent is a time for giving up sin and building virtues. If we are short-tempered, we must seek hard to practice patience; if we engage in calumny or detraction, we must keep a still tongue and seek something good to say about those we would rather criticise; if we are slothful, we must demand hard work from ourselves, for if we don’t get to the end of Lent and are not a changed person. If we don’t more clearly image Christ, we have failed somewhat. So how did your Lent go? Are you recognisably different now than you were six weeks ago? Even in some small way, recognisably different? I hope I am, but I doubt it.
How sad it is that the Easter ceremonies to which Lent leads are so badly attended these days. The great renewal of the Church we were promised at Vatican II has never come about; all we can point to is having more laity engaged in parish and Diocesan-based tasks. Having taken them from their proper apostolate of bringing the spiritual and corporal works of mercy to bear in society, we replace them with worker priests, removing both priests and laity from their authentic, divinely appointed roles. And no mtter how many ecclesial tasks we give the laity, when the Triduum comes around our Churches are not filled.
And yet Holy Thursday encompasses central Mysteries of The Faith: The Real presence of Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist; the Sacrifice that saves us, and the sacramental union with God in Holy Communion that He gives to us, and which comes to us though the priesthood which He ordained to make all of this preset and possible as a memorial of Him. We claim to believe that the Holy Eucharist is the Real Presence of God according to His Word: “I am the Living Bread which has come down from Heaven...”(Jn.6; Matt.26v26); we claim to believe that the Holy Eucharist perpetuates His Sacrifice on the Cross according to His word: “This is My Body given up for you...My Blood, which is shed for you” (Lk.22v19-20); we claim to believe the Holy Eucharist brings Heaven to earth since it brings Christ to earth -and wherever God is, Heaven is, and yet we ignore the Holy Eucharist on the very day Our Lord gifted It to us as His presence, Sacrifice and sacrament of unity with Him -and through Him, with one another. Many seem to have we forgotten that since every Holy Mass brings Heaven to earth we do not need to die to go to Heaven; we only need to come to Mass. Indeed to come to Mass is to come to Heaven, and thus to absent ourselves from Mass is to absent ourselves from heaven –and who wants that?
Good Friday is generally better attended; even many lapsed folk seem to recognise something special about Good Friday (“God’s Friday”), and turn up to acknowledge and celebrate His saving Passion. How could we not? On Good Friday Our Lord stretches our His hands on the Cross to say “This is how much I love you…will you not stay follow Me? I suffered intense anxiety in Gethsemane in presenting Myself before the face of My All-Holy Father carrying the shame of every one of your sins; I suffered the scourging at the pillar where My skin was ripped by welts embedded with bone, that you may have forgiveness for your sins of the flesh; My head is crowned with thorns to obtain forgiveness of your bad thoughts and attitudes; I am struck with blows and mocked that you might have strength to stand before the ridicule of the world and proclaim Me; I carry the wood of the Cross that by rising from falls under its weight of your sins, you may rise from mortal sin and be strengthened the earthly struggles of life; I endured the suffocation of crucifixion and the pains of death that you may have forgiveness for all of your sins and rise again to the life of grace. How can you doubt that I will welcome you back and forgive all your repented sins? See how much I love you. Who else has suffered for love of you as I have? I gave you My Life, My Love, My Mercy –you have prepared a cross for Me. I brought you from slavery to sin to the heights of grace: you have prepared a cross for me. Come to Me all you who labour, and you will find rest for your souls. Give me your sins, that I may have the pleasure of forgiving them. Leave your sins behind; become a new creation in Me. Come to me, and I will give you rest.
Holy Saturday we rest with Christ and wait to celebrate our share in His transfigured, Risen Body: we hear Him tell the Story of Salvation from the Fall to the Exodus and thence to Jerusalem; we recommit ourselves to Him by our baptismal promises; we welcome Him and heaven onto the altar; we offer the very sacrifice of His Body and Blood by which we are redeemed and sacramentally unite ourselves to Him in Holy Communion a spiritual intimacy greater than the physical union of husband and wife. How could we not desire to be present with the community on this Most Holy Night which brings the glorious new day; a day which stretches out before us the glory of heaven and our share in the eternal life, happiness and peace of the Most Holy Trinity in the company of saints, singing Holy, Holy, Holy…Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth. Pleni sunt cæli et terra gloria tua.
Hosanna in excelsis!
PS. Please excuse typing and syntax errors: I cut and paste too much and cannot type to begin with!
Thursday, 25 January 2018
First of all, apologies that comments and assurances of prayers have not been published; I'm afraid I have been feeling very off-colour and low for some time and had not the physical or mental energy to attend to the Blog. But, having promised an up-date after the bronchoscopy review I think I should carry it through. The reviewing physician says the brushings taken during the bronchoscopy did not reveal any cancer or bugs, but that they were unable to see much because of the abscesses (I wasn't able to make much sense of that but her explanation continmued to be vague: "Its simply because the abscesses made viewing things difficult"). Further, she said the Chest X-ray I had on the day of the review shows that I have not recovered as they expected, so another CT scan is being ordered, the appointment for which I shall receive through the post.
So it seems that I am still progressing towards health but not there yet. This didn’t surprise me as the bronchoscopy was early in the year and though the first two weeks post-procedure were OK, the third week was one of constant haemoptysis (coughing up of blood -my family physician was unperturbed by this but sent of a sputum sample to check for infection anyway, but no treatment was prescribed as antibiotics are so over-used). Indeed I have remained breathless and extremely low in energy since my discharge from hospital in December, so considering that and the haemoptysis the need for another CT of chest did not surprise me.
I shall try to do blog posts on topics other than my health in the future, but I can’t say when or how often since my energy levels are so very low. Please bear with me. Thank you.
Wednesday, 20 December 2017
taking a leaf from Father's book I ask that you excuse any errors in this post as I am writing and posting it in a rush before attending Mass and continuing my preparations for Christmas... He has seen this post and allowed me to publish it as it is!
As you know, Father was admitted to hospital on 17th of November with “a very nasty pneumonia” and discharged on December 11th. On admission a temperature of over 38.5oC was accompanied by a high respiratory rate and a low blood pressure of around 80/60. Intravenous (i.v.) fluids to raise the blood pressure resulted in marked oedema of the legs and feet, but successfully raised the systolic pressure to above 100. Additionally, he was told that “although the white cell Count is high as expected, the cells themselves are malformed; they look a bit leukaemic, and we don’t know if this predates your pneumonia and led to it occurring or if it is the result of the pneumonia. We have to wait to see if the haematology team show concern”. Three days of i.v. Tazocin brought some positive change to his condition and his vital signs improved, so his medication was changed to oral co-amoxiclav. Unfortunately this resulted in a deterioration in his condition, and the i.v. Tazocin had to be recommenced. Culture and sensitivity of sputum showed Tazocin should have been effective, but it became necessary to change to seven days of i.v. Meropenem when a third sputum sample showed he had a pseudomonas infection, which is probably sitting in the portion of his lungs where Bronchiectasis was noted early last year. A CT of chest was then taken which showed ‘lung cavities’ (abscess formation).
From day three of his admission, heavy diarrhoea began and continued for ten days. Samples showed he was free from Clostridium Difficil, so the diarrhoea probably resulted from the heavy use of antibiotics. Sadly, even though Father was never a big man, his weight has gone from 11 stone (c.155 pounds) to just over 9 stone (c.131 pounds), so he is quite debilitated.
His mood was very low in hospital as all the ‘news’ seemed to be going in the wrong direction: “you have a nasty pneumonia…the oral antibiotics are not having the expected effect…your white cells look a bit leukaemic…you have a pseudomonas infection…you have lung cavities…you need a bronchoscopy so we can determine what is going on…you need seven days of i.v.’s”. He says his mood was mostly low as he saw what he (formerly a registered nurse himself) described as “failures in nursing care and asepsis”, so when it was suggested he could have his i.v.’s at home from the district (community) nurses or stay in hospital, he chose to go home.
For his discharge the antibiotic was changed from Meropenem, which is given three times daily, to Ciproflaxacin as this can be given twice daily. These seven days of i.v.’s have now ended; he has had his midline removed (interestingly, he says he is not aware of having any pressure applied to the site of insertion during removal of the line, so he is now watching for bleeding, swelling of the arm, pain, redness and heat in the arm) and his bronchoscopy was carried out on 18th of December, the results of this will be made known to him at his follow-up appointment on January 22nd.
Father says he will let you know the result of the bronchoscopy when he has it. Meanwhile please keep up the prayers. Father says “for my spiritual health rather than my physical health, though both would be good!”. He is not well but hopeful that the bronchoscopy will provide for some positive direction in terms of treatment.
At present he is feeling drained, is breathless on minimal exertion, experiencing some upper back pain which he thinks may be due to his cough, and having some soreness around his midline site. That said, he is looking forward to spending Christmas with his siblings, though he has over the last couple of days notices an increase in breathlessness and sputum production (which is now yellow) so despite his observations being quite stable he has commenced his rescue Doxycycline).
His COPD and bronchiectasis will never resolve, and the damage done during exacerbations tends to bring about permanent structural alterations in the lung and thus predispose to permanently worsened airflow, so he will never be as ‘well’ as he was three months ago, but there is every hope of improvement in his condition as it stands today.