Wednesday 13 November 2013

That Survey, Pastoral Sensitivity & Fear of Hell

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

Why Come To Holy Mass?

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 New 'Morality'

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 Praise Of Our Bishop

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

Abortion a human right?

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.