Wednesday, 13 November 2013
Andrew’s last posting on the Mass, which was taken from our forthcoming Christmas Bulletin, received a comment basically saying we were trying to get youngsters to Mass by using the fear of hell. Well, no. We were hoping to inspire pre-teen children to value Holy Mass by expounding its wonders. That said...
When I was a child our home was heated by coal fires. I was warned about the dangers of fire by my parents and given a smack on the bum if I did not heed the warnings. This was not mum and dad being cruel; rather, it was mum and dad being very caring and very loving: they sought to prevent me being burned. In the Church of today many clergy -Bishops included- fail to be caring and loving because they are afraid to warn people about the danger of hell fire.
Instead, many seek out ways of accommodating or excusing those who contracept; who cohabit, who have contracted civil marriages or are in same-sex pairings etc. Dressed up as pastoral sensitivity, this accommodation is to fail in charity, and to fail badly, since if we truly care for our neighbour we should want to warn them that their actions are harmful to their relationship with Jesus Christ. Clergy in particular should note and perhaps tremble when we read the scripture, “If I say to a wicked man, ‘You are to die’, and you do not speak to him and warn him to renounce his evil ways and live, then he shall die for his sin, but I will hold you responsible for his death” (Ez. 3:18). “Teach them to observe all the commands I gave you” is a duty placed upon us all. Yes the world has moved on and found ways of justifying its ‘new morality’ which is antithetical to the Judeo-Christian Revelation, but the Church must be faithful to her perennial doctrine, for “Jesus Christ is the same today as He was yesterday, and will be forever. Do not let yourselves be led astray by all kinds of strange doctrine” (Hebrews 13v8,9).
That so many reject the Church’s teaching on marriage and family life makes the survey we have been asked to complete on Pastoral Challenges and the Family very dangerous; such a survey gives the impression that we can change teaching to fit with today’s society, and may lead to the hostility of those who use it to solicit such change when they realise they cannot get it. It also gives the impression that Church teaching relies upon acceptance by the majority of those surveyed to be deemed authentic teaching, since too many restrict the sensus fidelium to reception by Catholics living now and fail to see it is the belief of the whole Church, including Catholics of the last 2000 years who would not hold to today’s social constructions and modern innovations in morality and pastoral care.
Genuine Pastoral Care has for a long time been inhibited by pastoral sentimentality; by not saying anything that might offend or hurt. Those who practice it forget that God loves us too much to let us get burned by the fire of hell without warning us of the danger. Good (genuine) Pastoral Care is about listening to where a person is in life; it is about understanding their pain while helping them to see the error and danger of their ways; the beauty of the truth, and giving them the support they need to live the truth. Anything other than that is just not Christian.
Yes hell is a fearful thing, and I wish we were able to inspire people to live the Gospel from love of the all-loving God, but we are damaged by original sin and prone to concupiscence, which means encouraging souls to fear hell must remain part of our teaching. I can tell you, I would rather have my family, friends and parishioners saved from hell by the fear of hell, than see them go to hell because they were consoled by the Church in following the ‘life-style choices’ the secular, so-called inclusive world promotes (though it excludes that life-style choice of being pro-life, pro-family and Catholic...)
Sunday, 10 November 2013
Father has placed this notice in the extended Bulletin he is preparing piece by piece for Christmas. I thought it might be useful for parents to print off for their pre-teen children who might ask, “Why should we come to Mass? Is it really important and does it do us any good?”. I hope you find it useful.
When we are at Mass we hear God speaking to us in the readings, and meet Him in His Mystical Body, His people.
When we are at Mass we are truly standing with Our Lady at the foot of the Cross as Our Blessed Lord, Jesus Christ, offers the Sacrifice of His life for our Salvation: “This is My Body, given up for you...This is My Blood, which is shed for you....” (Matt 26v26-28).
When we are at Mass we are present at the tomb of the Resurrection, because Our Crucified and Risen Lord is Truly Present in the Blessed Sacrament: “I am the Living Bread come down from heaven. He who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood lives in Me, and I in Him...whoever eats Me will draw life from Me” (John 6v51-57). It is because He is truly Present in the Blessed Sacrament that in accord with scripture, which says “every knee shall bow before Him” (Rom.14v11; Phil.2v10); and which calls “let us kneel before the God who made us” (Ps.95v6) that we receive Holy Communion kneeling. Pagans refused to kneel because they saw it as beneath them; we kneel to show we are willing to humble ourselves before God.
When we are at Mass we are literally in heaven, because wherever God is, heaven is, and Jesus our Lord and God is Truly Present in the Blessed Sacrament, surrounded by His angels and saints -thus it is “with all the angels and saints we sing Holy, Holy, Holy (Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus” Rev.4v8). Indeed, the reason we have statues of angels and saints in Church is to remind us that when we step into a Catholic Church for Mass we step into heaven. Truly, we don’t need to die to go to heaven; we only need to come to Mass! In fact we come to Mass to show God we want to go to heaven, which is why missing Mass is a grave sin and why we cannot receive Holy Communion again if we miss Mass until we have been to Confession. We value Mass and never omit to come to Mass not because the Church commands us to come, but because by choosing to come to Mass we are choosing to come to heaven, and by choosing not to come to Mass we are choosing not to come to heaven...and who wants to miss out on heaven?
Is there a way of being sure we will go to heaven when we die? Yes, there is; we can know that if we are good enough to go to Holy Communion we are good enough to go to heaven, because Holy Mass and Holy Communion are heaven on earth. Does that mean those who cannot receive Holy Communion cannot go to heaven? No; but it does mean their salvation is in jeopardy, since they are excluded from receiving the Holy Eucharist, the source of all grace. And being in a state of grace is the one guarantee of going to heaven. Those who cannot receive Holy Communion should still come to Mass so as to enact their desire to come to heaven.
Monday, 4 November 2013
The rejection of traditional moral behaviour over the last fifty years arose with the adoption of the person-centred ideology, with the result that today’s society is built on the self-indulgent premise of “whatever is right for me”. To permit for this self-indulgence society has constructed for itself a morality of risk management and harm reduction; a society which is so self-indulgent and pleasure-seeking that, in order to engage in sex with whoever, whenever and however one likes, has given itself the ‘right’ to kill the child in the womb if money is short; if the child interferes with one’s life choices or is disabled, and the ‘right’ to kill the terminally ill rather than provide compassionate care. In structuring itself this way society cannot even claim respect for human life as a value. Its only value is “what I desire, when I desire it, however I desire it and with whoever I desire it”.
Today’s atheistic society’s morality of risk management and harm reduction for self-indulgence is portrayed as a renewal of morality when in fact it is a regression to the morality of the ancient Greek and Roman periods when divorce, herbal contraception and abortion, infanticide, euthanasia and homosexuality were all in evidence. Those societies did not last. No anti-life culture which undermines the natural family and devalues human life can generate a stable society. How can it? Simply stated, whenever natural boundaries are replaced with mere risk management of self-indulgence, chaos will always follow as self-indulgent claims collide.
Having abandoned natural boundaries for risk management and harm reduction of self-indulgence, the so-called ‘enlightened’ folk generated the chaotic society we live in today; a society with increasing drug abuse by the youth in order to ‘get a life’; increasing youth suicides, increasing violence; increasing relationship and family breakdown and increasing rates of STI’s (from c.5 in the 1950’s to c.50 strains today, a result of indulging in sex as recreation rather than procreation; in sex as “friends with benefits” and homosexual activity. Focusing society on mere risk management and harm reduction has not brought us freedom but bondage to our base passions. We have become animal-like; people driven by instinct rather than reason, all the while fooling ourselves into thinking we are intelligent simply because we can reduce the individual’s risk of harm from engaging in unnatural and damaging behaviours.
As I said in an earlier post, there is a tendency today to see religious people as ‘brainwashed’ or narrow-minded, yet it is secular society which is ‘brainwashed’ since, having washed away traditional moral behaviours with its ‘open-mindedness’ and individualism (the ‘whatever is right for me’ attitude) it has blindly generated today’s chaotic society. Be sure of this: it is not a liberated or ‘free’ society that has evolved in the last fifty years, but a society driven by base instincts rather than reason; a society which cannot do other than end in chaos since we cannot build a cohesive society on individualism.
Is there a way to overcome this chaos? Yes: protection of the natural family and of natural sexual activity in a life-long union. This gives persons security of life, a sense of lasting value and a sense of responsibility to us all. This is common sense. Unfortunately, as Cardinal Arinze is wont to say, “common sense isn’t very common”.
Saturday, 2 November 2013
In these days when we hear about Bishops who seem to have little or no time for their tradition-minded flock, it is good to be able to write about our own Bishop, Seamus Cunningham, who has not left his flock untended.
As my parishioners know, I have a measure of COPD which means I am very susceptible to chest infections. After an overnight stay in hospital earlier this year we were unable to find a supply priest for any of our weekend Masses, so I asked to meet with the Pastoral Care Team (formerly the Pastoral Council) to look at the issue of last-minute supplies. We decided that it would actually be better to lose our Vigil Mass in favour of a Sunday evening Mass, a measure we have recently undertaken. It was then pointed out that if I am ever unable to celebrate a Sunday evening Mass I am unlikely to be able to celebrate our Sunday morning Extraordinary Form (TLM). In fairness then, we had decided to cancel this Mass too after last week's feast of Christ the King. However, even some of those parishioners who prefer the Novus Order to the TLM where unhappy with this since the presence of the TLM on Sunday Mornings at least gave them an opportunity to attend Mass if they could not make a Sunday evening, so we were asked to look at the issue again so as to find a way of retaining its place in the parish.
Now the morning TLM is one where students from the university who are attached to the Extraordinary Form often come; it is also the Mass after which we have a very pleasant coffee morning afterwards to raise funds for Justice & Peace projects; and it is the Mass at which we have several young families. One of our converts, who has grown attached to the TLM, wrote to Bishop Cunningham on behalf of a number of people asking if he would appoint someone to regularly supply this Mass for us, and indeed, he has. We now have no fears of this Mass being lost from those who desire it.
I think in days when bishops get a bad press for not supporting the Traditional Mass and tradition-minded Catholics it was right for me to acknowledge the pastoral sensitivity and shown by Bishop Cunningham to those who have found a spiritual home in the TLM. Perhaps as time goes on more Bishops will feel able to supply the kind of pastoral care that we have received from Bishop Cunningham. Thank you, Excellency.
Friday, 1 November 2013
How far has humanity fallen when it claims mothers have a right to kill their unborn children? How far have women (and men) fallen when they accept this slaughter of the innocent so wholeheartedly that they seek to promote it as a human right?
The culture of death Adam facilitated at the incitement of Eve is everywhere in today’s world, still facilitated by the cooperation of women and men who have turned from the Gospel to the person-centred ideology which says man is good at his core rather than damaged at his core; an ideology which has not generated a new morality only ‘risk management’ of selfishness: “If it’s Ok for you, then it’s OK; only do it safely”.
A lot of blame for the immoral situation of today’s world lies with the Church, particularly with the prelates and clergy who led the way after Vatican II. They took away the Catechism which gave us the scaffolding upon which to build our faith; they jettisoned God-centred liturgy for a man-centred, community get-together, and established the person-centred ideology in the seminaries and schools as ‘pastoral care’ by their support of non-directive counselling and its subjective, relativist ideology. As a result, Catholics stopped listening to the Gospel and the Church to listen to their damaged inner self, by which the values of the Gospel are seen as oppressive; as something to be overcome; as a TA script to be rejected.
Truly, if Pope Francis is going to condemn those who follow ideologies he better get it right and turn his anger against the person-centred ideology with its relativist, subjective culture; the culture against which his predecessors fought; and if he wants to defend the right of the poor to economic improvement he better get behind the right to life publicly and quickly, since no one can access education, work, health care, shelter etc, if we they do not have the right to life; the right upon which right the access to all there other rights depends. It just is not possible to defend a secondary right (equality, education, economic well-being et al) when the right from which all these others depend is denied. Those who shout loud about equality, liberation and social justice issues really ought to display integrity and give first place to fighting for the right supreme right; the right upon which access to all other rights depend: the right to life.
Tuesday, 29 October 2013
We begin a month of intercession for the Holy Souls this weekend. But just who are the Holy Souls? In today’s Ordinary Form reading at Mass St Paul reminded us, “We must hope to be saved, for we are not saved yet” (Roman 8v25). Many Catholics do not seem to know this; many seem to fail in making the distinction between the fact that we have been redeemed by the Passion of Christ, but that we are not yet saved, the attitude of many being that we’ll all go to heaven. Even regular Mass attendees say “they’ve gone to a better place” about those who have died in a civil marriage and those who have never crossed the door of the Church for years and never taken up the invitation to return. At every death I attend and someone says “They’ve gone to a better place” or “They’re out of their suffering now” my reply is always the same: “That’s our hope for everyone; God is good”. I cannot say “Yes, you’re right” –because I do not know that is the case. Further, in every funeral I celebrate I ensure our intercessions pray “that all those who died in God’s grace will, aided by our prayers, have a speedy journey through purgatory; an assured entry into heaven”. This may seem pedantic, but I cannot presume the deceased is in heaven, nor glibly affirm the mourners in that assumption.
In my opinion we have given a distorted picture of the love and mercy of God to the people since Vatican II, and to the detriment of their souls in that God is now seen as so loving and merciful that everyone will go to heaven; that no response to God’s grace is necessary in order to enter heaven at the last. And in this, a kind of universalism is being promoted. God is indeed infinite in love and mercy; there is no sin repented of that is too bad or too big to be forgiven, and the greatest sinner saved will be the greatest evidence of God’s love and mercy. But therein lies the rub: no sin repented of is beyond God’s mercy. But can we say the sin of hard-heartedness is repented of when there is a continuing refusal to help the oppressed and the poor? That contraception is repented of when it is a continuing practice? That adultery is repented of by those who continue in irregular relationships? That abandoning the sacraments is repented of when people die lapsed? We must admit that none of us can say where the soul of a particular person will be in eternity since God alone judges the human soul, but we can say that those living a life contrary to the law of God are likely on the wide road that leads to perdition, which many are taking (Matt. 7:13 -I don’t say that easily since my sisters and a number of my nephews and nieces are in irregular relationships). I once remarked that a deceased person had been described as ‘devoted to his family’ and was rebuked by “Which family, Father? This one, his previous one, or the one that might have come after?”
In that we cannot know who is saved and who is lost, I make it my business to ensure the parish remembers to pray “that the faithful may be strengthened; the lapsed return and the sinner be converted”. Indeed I pray as much for these as I do for the Holy Souls so that they may indeed be, when they leave this world, among the holy souls; that die turned towards God even in some small measure so that having walked a mile toward Him, He will walk two miles to them (to us?)
So, to answer our question: the Holy Souls are all those (and only those) who have died even in some small way in a state of grace and who are being purified in Purgatory before their entry into God’s presence. Our prayers can assist their journey.
Sunday, 20 October 2013
The comment copied below has been sent to the blog in response to my previous post, and has been dutifully published. But I want to reply in the form of this new post...
Father, I have read your post and am unsure as to where you stand; I cannot make out whether you yourself are happy or unhappy with Pope Francis. Do you see in him Christ the Good Shepherd, or a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Many of us see a man who is proud of his humility and pleased to see it publicised; a man who is presiding over the Church as though it were his own property with its teaching up for grabs by any and every generation and by which he makes the Church a disciple of the world rather than teacher of the world. We see a man who implies that all other Popes and Councils have been wrong on matters of sexuality and ecclesiology; which means infallibility had been absent from the Church until he inherited St Peters’ Chair, bringing with him right knowledge about the Church, sin and salvation. Are you then, happy or unhappy with Pope Francis?
The great man St Thomas More remained silent on whether or not he supported King Henry VIII making himself Head of the Church in England (though Henry only succeeding only in creating a protestant body: the Church of England). You are asking me to say whether I think Pope Francis is a sound and dependable pastor or danger to the faithful, but I will follow the example of St Thomas More and stay silent other than to say I believe the man has a good heart, well-intentioned will and not planning a coup over established doctrine. I suspect a number of clergy, including Bishops, are taking the same line of prudent silence so as to avoid drawing lines between the ranks of the faithful, and between the faithful and their Pope.
I do not want to make a judgement about the man; like all faithful clergy I take what he gives us and read it through the lens of the teaching of the Church as given down through the centuries, knowing that no matter what Francis says in his off-the-cuff remarks, his interviews or his Wednesday Audiences; no matter what aspersions he seems to cast in the way of Traditional Catholics from the standpoint of his own ideology; no matter what ideas he has about abandoning the Dominical Command to ‘Go, teach all nations’, and no matter what sweeteners he throws out to homosexuals or civilly-remarried divorcees, we need not worry. Yes we can get frustrated and disappointed with Francis’ style; we might even get irritated by him. But we do not worry. At the end of the day we must presume that Francis is aware that he cannot promulgate any teaching that contradicts what previous Popes have taught without obliterating the authority of his own teaching; we must also presume that he knows he cannot sanction pastoral practices that split the lex vivendi from the lex credendi and remain a Catholic of integrity. I think respecting the office of Pope and trusting the Holy Ghost is the only position I can take at this time...
P.S. Many in the Church today hold opinions inconsistent with the faith of the centuries, and claim that this is consistent with the ‘new vision’ given by ‘the spirit’ of Vatican II. They are wrong, and their error will eventually die out, as will the off-the-cuff remarks of Pope Francis or any other Pope.