Thursday, 7 March 2019

A Good Lent, Bishops, Priests and Laity


It has long been my practice on Ash Wednesday to preach about making Lent a time of real change. For too many of us Catholics Lent has become what is has for secular folk: giving something up for Lent only to take it up again afterwards. It’s like bracing ourselves for six weeks than letting go. The aim of spiritual renewal has gone for too many Catholics. Have we not all heard folk say “I’m trying to be good for Lent”? That is not a bad aim, but it is woefully inadequate and a wrong use of the sacred season. I have preached that when we get to the end of Lent we should have new habits: more patience, more prayer, more charity; less gossip, less greed, less selfishness. We should be changed people at the end of Lent, and that change should be a lasting change, otherwise we have had a bad Lent. Sadly, that change rarely comes about. I have never hidden the fact that I aim to get to the end of Lent more patient, more generous, more humble, more prayerful, more affirming of folk and more careful with my tongue: it is all too easy to sit with a group of people -even fellow priests- and complain about one’s Bishop, or the Pope, or the belligerent parishioner. We call it “sounding off in a safe place”, but that is nothing more than a justification of and a re-labelling of the sin of detraction. Since this is a sin into which I have fallen, I have had to find ways to avoid it and correct myself. Thus I give penitents the advice that if they are in a conversation where detraction is taking place to simply say “Well I can’t say anything because I have my own faults”, which might prick the conscience of those in conversation with us. And when we have had the misfortune to fall into detraction with the crowd we should quickly find something for which we can affirm the person whose reputation we have just damaged, so that some kind of reparation can be made.

Priests can often become victims of calumny and detraction from their parishioners (and sometimes brother priests) whose theological positions they do not share. Meanwhile the bishops and the Pope can be victims of calumny and detraction from the priests (and some laity). Today I am not only thinking about encouraging the laity to grow in virtue, but about the kind of Lent we need from our Pope and Bishops who all too easily harm the reputation of Traditional priests whose theological positions they are irritated by. So it seems to me the kind of Lent we need from the Bishops comes down to one thing: a return to upholding the doctrine of The Faith rather than espousing the ‘values’ of the world,  and the celebration of liturgy that puts God at the centre rather than the affirming and the uplifting of the people.

I have watched some videos on YouTube recently that show how very disturbed many Catholics are and what little hope many have of the Church getting out of her current crisis of faith. Why? Because they see Pope Francis as a abandoning Tradition with Amoris Laetitia, abandoning the Divine Command to teach and baptise all nations and as having stacked the College of Cardinal-Electors with men of his own ilk; men who are
willing to support Holy Communion for those in the adulterous situation of civil ‘remarriage’ after divorce;
willing to allow the recent summit on sex abuse to be used only as a (necessary) means of tackling the failures of presbyter-priests when in fact it was homosexual predation of seminarians and young priests by an Episcopal-priest (a cardinal) that brought abuse back into the headlines;
willing to say that all religions are willed by God and that anyone can be saved as long as they are following their paganism sincerely;
willing to promote liturgy that affirms the folk and seeks to give them emotional uplift rather than give praise, adoration and propitiation (appeasement) for sin to Almighty God).
It occurred to me that a number of cardinals and Bishops created by Francis may now be questioning their own Catholicism; that they may well be asking themselves:  “Am I only a Bishop/Cardinal because I have been judged far enough away from the Deposit of Faith to carry on the legacy of discontinuity with our sacred history? Do I really want to meet God as a man removed from the Gospel of Christ and distanced from the Apostolic Deposit of Faith God called me to defend and promote?”  Similarly, priests might be asking if they were advanced to ordination by their Bishop because they were seen as men sufficiently distanced from the Deposit of Faith.  If cardinals, Bishops and priests are asking such questions, then Lent is a great opportunity for change and re-conversion.
These are not easy days for anyone in the Church. All of us need to be changed people at the end of it. Whether Pope, bishop, priest or layman, we all need to grow in virtue by trying during this Lent to eradicate our faults and build their opposite virtues. 

We also need to recommit ourselves to the Deposit of The Faith as defined by the Council of Trent. Why Trent? Because Trent defined The Faith without ambiguity when it was under attack at the Protestant Revolt, and therefore the Council in light of which we must read the decrees of Vatican II so as to discern the continuity and discontinuity with The Faith contained therein, so as to abide by the continuity and discard the discontinuity. If today’s crisis has any cause -other than the wickedness of the devil which is at the core of all sin and division- it is that for the past 50 years the Church has read and implemented Vatican II the wrong way round: promoting the discontinuity and abandoning the continuity contained therein so as to garner favour from the contemporary age.  
Lord, help us all, especially those who govern and who are people of influence, to desire Truth; seek Truth, love Truth and live Truth -so that virtue may grow and charity abound. Per Christum Dominum Nostrum. Amen.

Monday, 4 February 2019

The War Against The Unborn


Pregnant mothers are the concern of Pro-life people everywhere; pro-lifers seek to help the mother find a better solution for themselves and their child than abortion, and to help post-abortive mothers to overcome the trauma of their abortion. 

Many post-abortive mothers deeply regret their abortions; many 'chose' abortion because they felt trapped by their circumstances and felt they had no choice but to abort their babies (so ‘freedom of choice’ and the ‘right to chose’ are not honest slogans). Thank God there is a place where post-abortion regret can become a healthy sorrow which is understood and absolved: the Christ's Catholic Church. While the Church is passionately pro-life, she is also passionately caring toward those who have taken the step of aborting their child or children, and offers absolution/forgiveness and healing (in that order) to those who have made such a choice. There are many ministries today that help such mothers find that healing, such as Rachel’s Vineyard. It would be shameful for any Catholic not to hold out the hope of emotional/psychological healing and the forgiveness by absolution for any mother who has accessed abortion. But it is equally wrong for legislators to give men and women the impression that abortion is OK by passing laws which allow it. Too many women and men have been swayed by the fact that “this is legal so it must be OK”. That is no different to saying, as many did 200 years ago, that “Slavery is legal so it must be OK”. Only after mothers have accessed abortion do they experience the trauma, depression of regret and the feelings of guilt so often brought on by abortion, or simply the feeling of being somehow blocked in life. Yet the war against the unborn goes on by those who promote abortion.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is reported to have said, “I’m here to represent all the people and the constitutional rights and limitations for all the people, not as a Catholic.” (SeeLifesite News here).  What an odd statement: he thinks unborn children (some of whom receive life-saving operations while still in the womb) need no representation against those who would take their life for reasons such as inconvenience to one’s career; the hiding of an illicit affair, or financial struggles. Apparently, if money is short; if you don’t want your husband or your lover’s wife to find out about your affair, or if you don’t want to miss out on that promotion or business trip, it is fine to kill your child –even up to the point of birth in some cases.

This is the attitude one detects in Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam who is reported to have suggested that a proposed bill allowing abortion up until the moment of birth would also allow doctors to refuse to resuscitate an infant born alive after a failed abortion "if that’s what the mother and the family desire." (See Lifesite News here)

What a horrific, Nazi-style society we in the West have become under the guise of women’s rights. What right does anyone have to kill children? I am horrified, outraged when fellow clergy abuse children, and most folk share that outrage. Yet many if not most of those same folk would support the killing of children just because of their location: they are inside the womb not out of it; out of sight is, apparently, out of consideration.

Yet if we fail to respect the humanity and dignity of the unborn we can never respect the humanity and dignity of the born; if we can kill innocent children in the womb, how are we ever going to justify the right to life for anyone? What foundation is there for social justice if we can take innocent life with abandon? Our right to a fair wage, to good working conditions, to good health care, good education, good housing, the right to freedom from violence and oppression, all depend upon us being alive to access those rights -and we cannot defend these rights for anyone is we don’t uphold the right to life for everyone regardless of their location. After all, the only difference between the born and unborn is their location: inside the womb or outside the womb. That said, Mr Northam does appear to want us to have the right even to kill the born “if that’s what the mother and family want”.

In these days when science has the standing that it does, there is no logic to the slogan “My body, my choice”, for it is not her body she is aborting: the child has his own DNA from the moment of conception; his tubal heart beat begins to beat at around day 18; his fingers and toes are present from around day 56. Fundamentally, he has his own body and his own right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Pro-abortion language is too often a a smokescreen, for both embryo and foetus simply and correctly describe a stage of human life: foetus, embryo, baby, infant, teenager and adult are all stages of human life. Yet human babies can be killed at will. What a Nazi society the West has become. This is not progress. This is the Culture of Death at its worst: the killing of children; the ultimate in child abuse which harms not only the child but the mother too (often physically as well as psychologically).

The West has become pro-abortion not for women’s rights, but to allow for sex without responsibility; we have a culture of hedonism which seeks pleasure by drink, drugs, and sex with abandon, -for which the unborn child pays with his life, and for which the mother will often find herself depressed, guilt-ridden and blocked. We must always seek to console and support; to heal and help the mothers, and protect and promote the life on the unborn child. This must not be a war on mothers -the pro-abortion folk are fighting that war. Our must be a war for the healing of those harmed by the Culture of Death; for the healing of post-abortive mothers and the protection of the unborn child. Never judge the mother; seek to heal her soul and mind, and always protect the unborn child.