Sunday 26 July 2015

Homily On The Day For Life

My apologies for emails and comments getting late responses recently. I have gone on with a cataract in one eye for two years but then this year one developed in my other eye, which made all sorts of reading all but impossible. I have not read a book for months, and not been able to read my post unless enlarged to A3 size; computer work has been difficult because of the back-light. I have just this week had the worst one done which has helped amazingly. If anyone out there has cataracts don’t be afraid to get them done. Although my recovery will go on for a while and complications are always possible, what I am experiencing so far is brilliant and the procedure was absolutely painless. Go get them done! Now to the homily for today...

Today we begin a series of readings on the Bread of Life from St John’s Gospel. We call bread the ‘staff of life’ because it’s so basic to life, so it’s fitting that today the Church asks us to celebrate the Day for Life, and asks us to contact our MP to have him or her vote against the ASSISTED SUICIDE BILL which is being read soon (Friday 11 September). We can telephone our MP, or send an email to our MP via the Catholic Bishops’ Conference website, or send a letter by post.

Yet Assisted Suicide is but one aspect of what St. John-Paul II called the Culture of Death, and we as Catholics must be a People of Life because God is Life: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”, says the Lord, we are meant to be a people who celebrate life; people who value, promote, protect and seek to enhance human life -which is made in the very image of God- in all circumstances. The world in which we live today lives by the Culture of Death. We don’t notice it because we have cultured it over the last few decades bit by bit. It’s a bit like putting a frog in a pan of water and bringing it to the boil: it stays there which proves fatal. A frog put in when the water is already boiling jumps out; we haven’t, we have sat in the pan and got used to it. As Catholics, we must reject all that is anti-life: contraception, abortion, and euthanasia, which are all anti-life (anti-God) acts. And it begins with contraception.

Contraception is always a ‘no’ to life: even if it is a temporary ‘No, not yet’, it remains a ‘no’ to God at that moment in time. And that can never be good. It’s promoted as an issue of women’s health, but all it promotes is their economic status. In fact, if you read the literature that comes with the chemical contraceptives (pill, implant etc) you will see that they can cause blood clots; pulmonary embolism, stroke and heart attack. The World Health Organisation lists it as a grade 1 Carcinogen. It’s anything but health–promoting. In fact, because its hormones are actually artificial, whenever we encourage women to use them we are encouraging them to engage in chemical warfare against their own body. And we don’t want to be in favour of chemical warfare. Barrier methods spread the papiloma virus which is also linked to carcinoma, so contraceptives are at the root of much ill-health. They are unacceptable, and enough is enough.

As for abortion, that is clearly anti-life. We told women their babies were just a bunch of cells and called that bunch of cells a zygote, but it was a baby. It has its own DNA sequence from fertilisation; its own heart beat from around day 20 (three weeks after it was fertilised) and its fingers and toes by week 8. It’s a baby. Yet the Culture of Death sees some babies as a problem and allows us to take their lives. It’s unacceptable. Enough is enough.

Its not that the Church says we must have as many babies as possible, it's that we shouldn't refuse what God sends. You know, we often ask where our young people are. And yes, 95 % of them are lapsing when they leave school and never see the inside of a Church, and we have to do something about that, but there are fewer young people around because we have contracepted and aborted them out of existence. They never had a chance to get here. It’s anti-life, and it’s unacceptable.

The end of life is the same. Rather than help the sick overcome their pain and distress we seek to kill them. It’s unacceptable. We may as well get rid of Doctors and Nurses and have executioners. The sick need care, not killing; we need carers, not killers.

In essence, the fundamental difference between the Culture of Life and the Culture of Death is this: the Culture of Death eliminates persons (by contraception, abortion and euthanasia); the Culture of Life seeks to promote, protect and enhance life. We don’t want the Culture of Death. 

So do write to your MP or phone them; tell them we have had enough of the culture of death: enough is enough. We want to celebrate life, we want to promote, protect and enhance it, not take it. No more of the Culture of Death. Enough is enough.

Friday 10 July 2015

Smelling of the Sheep

I am a known to be a Traditional Catholic in both morality and liturgy, but I have never claimed to be faultless in either area.  In terms of liturgy there were times in the early years when I walked among the congregation to preach; when I moved the Pax to the end of Mass, and had more than the necessary number of EMCH’s on the sanctuary. Only when Redemptionis Sacrametum was promulgated and the people asked for oddities like danced communion processions and pop sings did I realise we have gone dreadfully wrong and produced a liturgy that was designed to entertain; one that kept the congregation occupied as though they were small children.

In terms of moral sin I have a critical tongue; I should be less slothful and more prayerful, though I have not committed what many consider to be the worst of sins. I have not, for example,  committed murder; I have not broken my vows of celibacy with man, woman or child, I have not taken part in violence or bee involved in theft. Being a Traditional Catholic I am often viewed, it seems to me, as someone who does not live in the ‘real world’ (as non-believers have said to me) and do not ‘smell of the sheep’ (as liberal Catholics might now say). That could not be more wrong; such ignorant views are highly irritating. I am Traditional because I have seen the ‘real world’ at close quarters and been deeply affected by it.

The truth is I have lived among the ‘smelly sheep’ all my life. indeed, every single one of my siblings is divorced, a much-loved cousin has been in a cohabiting homosexual relationship for over 40 years, and 90% of my nephews and nieces have fallen prey to the drug culture with all the crime, family disturbance and illness that goes with it. I must then, smell of the sheep more than any other priest I know, yet the assumption that I am Traditionalist (and ‘rigorist’) because I don’t know the ‘real world’ or ‘smell of the sheep’ appears to continue.

I am aware that the smelly sheep can converse and joke with people, and that they regard this as ‘being sociable’, but they are inherently anti-social in that they ignore the law and take meds and drink that destroy family life by their irascible, agitated, and dysfunctional behaviours while destroying their own mental and physical health. They are living examples of the Culture of Death.

What most Catholics mean by ‘we must “smell of the sheep”’ means ‘to walk alongside them  in their difficulties and find ways to help them out’. I walk with such sheep unavoidably, and I do seek ways to help them out, but that does not mean telling them that their second or third marriage; their cohabitation or their drug abuse are simply a weakness that can be absolved and knowingly, willingly continued while they receive Holy Communion.  That does not help them out of the s....t; it keeps them there. This is exactly what the so-called ‘Kasper Proposal’ would do, and it is not what God wants for them and it is not what I want for them. I am disturbed that so many clergy do.

I want for them a stable relationship that is based on love, not lust; marriages that do not result from an ‘accidental’ pregnancy; an intellectual ability and a will unclouded by the haziness and distortions of drug abuse so that they can make truly free choices. Sadly, so many are involved in drug abuse and non-marital relationships that there is a kind of mutual affirmation among them that where they simply tell each other they ‘are OK’; that they are just ‘like everyone else’ (which is true), and that I am just ‘a religious nut or bigot’ (which is not true). It is sad that so many Catholics  -even among the hierarchy- appear to think the same.

Today’s problems of marital breakdown, homosexual activity, drug abuse, thieving what they think they have a right to have etc, arises from an evil seed: that seed is the lie of Satan that ‘life is about being happy’. ‘God wants you to be happy’ he tells them, then puts pleasures in front of their faces that distract them from authentic happiness (which is a state of being). He presents to them the passing pleasure of free sexual activity, highs from substance abuse etc., with the result that they go from pleasurable experience to pleasurable experience without the ever knowing the happiness of the stable relationship, or the freedom of clear-thinking free from the haziness and distortions of drugs. 

Society must get back to marriage between a man and woman wherein their offspring are cooperatively cared for by both progenitors; we must get back to helping the sheep to seek happiness rather than passing pleasure (which is self-indulgent hedonism) because such self-indulgence disturbs both the family and society. The Church must raise her voice for the family at the Synod, not further undermine it by seeking ways to get around it. It is not that I (or any other traditional priest I would think) do not want to smell of the sheep; it is that we don’t want the sheep such as my own family to smell of anything but the odour of sanctity.

Tuesday 7 July 2015

On the Anniversary of Summorum Pontificum: Loss of Active Participation at the TLM

I attended a TLM recently and noticed how during the Canon of the Mass there was a succession of people leaving the church to use ‘the smallest room in the house’. The door literally did not stop. At a superficial level this might seem to indicate that the TLM is unable to engage the people and that Summorum Pontificum is out of place in the modern Church. Speaking to the people in the coffee morning after the Mass I asked why they went out during the Canon and the reply was always of the same kind: “I find the silence difficult and there’s nothing going on at that point so I miss nothing”. All of the responses I received were of the same kind and highly enlightening: they indicate that many Catholics no longer know how to pray, for if they cannot pray for five minutes during the silence of the Canon, can they sit for fifteen minutes silent prayer at home? They may know how to ‘say prayers’, but they seem unable to open themselves up to a deeper encounter with God.

We thus know why they come in to Church and turn it into a meeting room with conversations: they do not know how to pray silently to the Lord Truly present in the tabernacle in preparation for the Holy Sacrifice and parousial banquet.

The Mass gives us our identity and forms our community; as the re-present-ing of the Holy Sacrifice of the Cross and the source of our salvation we must be actively engaged in the liturgy at the deepest level. Vatican II thus called for a liturgical renewal that would enable such participation, but the liturgy which followed the Council seems to have precluded such participation: Catholics now follow the liturgy in a superficial level of dialogue and activity; they have in fact, had deep, active and engaged participation disabled by the Novus Ordo. We have disabled rather than enabled the ability for heart to speak to heart.

In the final analysis, the TLM is difficult for many to actively engage in at the deeper level simply because they are not called to actively engage in the Novus Ordo at the deeper level: they respond with voice and action, but when it comes to meeting God in contemplative, silent prayer they stumble. Thus, rather than Summorum Pontificum having no place in the modern Church, it is showing itself to be as prophetic in terms of the liturgy as Humanae Vitae was in terms of morality, since it permits the recovery of the ability to speak to God heart to heart.

When Catholics admit that the silence of the TLM is beyond their praying ability; that they need to be saying and doing something, we know we have –that the Novus Ordo has- gone dreadfully wrong.

If mutual enrichment is to become a reality I suggest that the enrichment of the TLM will be by texts; the addition of new prefaces. The enrichment of the NO must be the recovery of silence; the Preparation of the Gifts should be done in silence as presumed by the rubrics; the Canon could offered in silence as in the TLM (I think this should be a requirement) and the priest’s preparatory prayers before Holy Communion should be done silently as presumed by the rubrics. Interestingly, the rubrics do not demand the Canon be said out loud; it simply says the words of consecration should be spoken clearly and distinctly as the nature of the words demands. ‘Clearly’ can mean ‘without mumbling’; ‘distinctly’ can mean ‘in a particular manner’. None require the loss of the sotto voce. Here then, is an opportunity for the Novus Ordo to be enriched in its celebration: use of the under-voice for the Canon, so that the prayer life of the people can be enhanced.

PS. I have to add this is the first time I have noticed such a use of the smallest room, and I think it is worth adding that of all those who appreciate the silence of the TLM most, it is the returning long-lapsed and the converts. That said, if we ask people why they will not attend the TIM, we will, I think, find them saying not only that they don't know Latin but find the silence difficult. In my experience it takes a while for some to get used to the TLM but then they do, they really appreciate it and want to hold onto it.

Sunday 5 July 2015

Reversing the Culture Collapse

Human culture is in a state of collapse. We have gone from a culture of life and love to a Culture of Death and lust, and this can only result in the disappearance of human civilisation because death cannot generate anything and lust is simply gratification.

If we look at the world around us today we will see that rather than pursue the eradication of problems we pursue the eradication of persons: babies are killed by abortion (removed limb by limb), while the terminally ill are killed rather than having their anxiety and pain relieved. Any society that eradicates persons rather than their problems is following the Culture of Death.

As for the Culture of Lust, we are misusing the word love here. Love today means ‘emotional attachment’ rather than seeking the good of the other, which real love cannot help but seek. Love-making has been replaced by lust-relief: lust-relief excludes the complete sharing of oneself and one’s life with others because our life-giving properties are withheld by non-procreative acts (contraceptive sex and homosexual acts). The most either of these activities can lead to is shared living arrangements.

What we have today then is a culture of killing and of lust; in the ‘killing culture’ we have come to accept the killing of babies, the sick and the imperfect; and in the ‘lust culture’ we have embraced contraception and homosexual activity, and in both ‘life-generating’ is excluded (thus there is no ‘love life’ only a lust-life).

With each of these comes the exclusion of family, and with the loss of the family comes the loss of human society since it is in the ‘family community’ that learn to give and take when seeking to fulfil our own needs (where we learn the give and take needed in the wider community of human society).

The killing-culture and lust-culture are not new; we are not undergoing a modernisation of society but a return to ancient Greco-Roman paganism wherein babies were left to die of exposure if they were handicapped or the wrong sex, and where men and boys were free to vent their lust with one another –it was even considered good for boys to be initiated into sex by acts with older men. So society is not progressing but regressing.

How can we overcome the eradication of the true human society, which is structured around a culture of family and life?

First, we need to challenge our clergy -especially the Pope and Bishops- to remain faithful to the teaching of the Tradition and to impose adequate penalties for the failure to maintain the Tradition in word or deed. The attempt to call to the deeper part of man by the language of invitation rather than condemnation has failed; it took no account of the damage at man’s core where original sin leaves its wound.

It has to be said that we lost the culture of family and life because over the last fifty years our Bishops have accommodated secularity; ever since Humanae Vitae they have opened the door to secular opinions and allowed them to displace The Faith from the Church at large. Thus, the majority of Catholics working in the professions of the media, politics, journalism, entertainment, education, health care and science were not required to stand up for The Faith over the decades, and so followed the secular agenda themselves for reasons of ‘career prospects’ -and in the false understanding that The Faith itself was changing.

This was bound to follow from the changes made in the Mass because the Mass was central to Catholics back then: it gave us our identity and formed our community; it was the Holy Sacrifice of the Cross and the source of our salvation. (Vatican II was supposed to affirm these things, but the liturgy which followed the Council seems to have destroyed them: communities are divided over which kind of music they will have, while Mass itself is perceived as a celebration of the community with the Risen Lord rather than a propitious commemoration of the Saving Sacrifice). As a result, the assumption made by many was that if we could change the Mass, the very heart of The Faith, we could change anything.

We now urgently need a new crop of Bishops who are courageous and humble enough to swell the number of those who have held and continue to hold to the Tradition. And we need those future Bishops to ensure it is followed in the Church committed to their care. I thought I was theologically scandalised by the Bishops of the last fifty years but I realised in prayer that what I am is disturbed that they have allowed so many souls to lose their way, and in fact, they have led them off ‘The Way’ from the front.

Second, we need to ensure we are fully and wholly educated in both secular subjects (law, medicine etc) and in The Faith, so that we can bring the light of Truth to bear in the workplace, especially in the media, politics, law, journalism, entertainment, education, health care and science. Only when Catholics truly believe in The Faith, live by it and apply it to their work in these professions will we recover true human civilisation in the culture of family and life.

Third, we need to know how to answer in short, sharp -and if possible- penetrating terms, suitable rejoinders to the rationalism of the secularist/atheist. I once gave a few ‘sound-bite’ responses I had found useful to retain my integrity as a Catholic, to Andrew and our R.C.I.A. group when moral irregularities were presented as good. Andrew later shared that in a staff discussion about IVF at work he voiced a challenge to IVF: “I can’t agree with it because I’m Catholic”. The retort was that “people have a right to a child and the Catholic Church of all things would push that because it doesn’t agree with abortion and contraception”. Andrew’s sound-bite response was simply, “We can’t have a right to a person; persons are a gift, not property”. The discussion ended there. We need to develop more of these one-liners and make use of the broken-record technique in our exchanges (repetition of the phrase like a needle stuck on a vinyl record) so we can make the necessary challenge to this disastrous culture of death and lust that has taken hold of today’s society.

Can anyone suggest any one-liners that cut at the heart of contraception, abortion, euthanasia, homosexual activity etc? They should not simply be put-down’s of the erroneous positions but proclamations of Truth, for a put down does nothing to promote The Truth, while the proclamation of The Truth brings a power to it. I would be interested in hearing them and passing them on. After all, we keep telling our young people they have to evangelise, but we don’t tell them how to do it or give them the necessary tools.

Friday 3 July 2015

The Teaching of St Thomas the Apostle

We all have a bit of Thomas in us; we demonstrate poor faith by choosing self over God at times. Every time we choose to criticise rather than hold our tongue; every time we choose to give vent to rather than hold our temper; every time we choose to watch TV rather than pray; every time we choose to go to a sporting event rather than Sunday Mass, we demonstrate a loss in faith. We should not be surprised, because the clergy are as badly affected as the laity, but in an ‘educated’; ‘open-minded’ (Modernist) way (Modernism in the sense of rejecting revelation to follow reason alone).

The so-called ‘Enlightenment’ led to an understanding of the Gospels as mere historical texts and the search for the ‘historical Jesus’. As a result, most of the miracles in the Gospel were dismissed: there was no casting out of demons; it was simply epilepsy misunderstood; there was no multiplication of the loaves; it was a miracle of charity where people were shamed by the boy into sharing what food they had secreted on their person. Even the resurrection was dismissed as a mere spiritual event in the hearts of the disciples, as opposed to being a real physical resurrection. As a result, one half of the Gospel –its miraculous events- was simply trashed.

There also came the idea that whatever Our Lord said in the Gospels –the ‘ipsissima verba’ (words ‘truly spoken’ by Christ)- was all but unknowable: “we can’t be sure even two of the words in the Gospel were actually spoken by Christ”. Thus the teaching of Christ too was dismissed, along with the miracles. As such, nothing was left.

Both of these attitudes are wrong-footed by the experience of St. Thomas, who teaches us to have faith faith –THE FAITH. Due to his lack of (personal) faith he was given the opportunity to touch the Lord’s Risen Body, which brought about a faith-filled response: “My Lord and my God!”. What St. Thomas teaches us is that Christ being God, His teaching cannot be simply trashed or his miracles denied as Modernist scholarship maintained. We have to accept Christ’s teaching and miracles on the strength that He is God, the sole conqueror of Satan’s lie with it’s consequence of sin and death. If there is a true Gospel of Thomas, it is here: his experience of the Risen Christ and his response of faith.

How I wish today’s Catholics would accept Christ’s teaching and miracles on the strength that He is God. What we have is bishops (including Cardinals) asking for Our Lord’s teaching on marriage and sexuality to be trashed so that we can be ‘merciful’ (in their erroneous understanding of the word). These men have lost The Faith, and all who agree with them have lost The Faith: Christ is no longer their Lord and God. Indeed, I wonder if they believe in God as He has revealed Himself to us: a Trinity and Incarnate. How can they believe in the incarnation of God the Son and yet refuse to follow His words? The arrogance of today’s clergy –at every level- is disturbing: “the Church may have said ‘no’ to Communion for the cohabiting, the adulterous, for two thousand years but she got it wrong; we alone have got it right. God has been waiting for this generation of clergy to get the Gospel right”.

Personally, when I look at the fact that such clergy have about 50 years of speculative, secular-led opinion in the theological institutions and in the episcopate to rely upon, and I have two thousands years of teaching and proven wisdom to follow, I will follow the 2000 years of proven wisdom and leave them to their speculations -and the judgement of the Lord. I wonder if many of today’s clergy and influential Catholics are Deists rather than Catholics; they certainly seem to me to believe in some undefined God who accepts every kind of lifestyle in ‘mercy’, and not the God revealed in scripture and Tradition:  one God in three Persons, with Christ as the Incarnate God whose teaching has been faithfully handed down under the guidance of the Holy Ghost for two thousand years. I will let the Modernists have their theological speculations and pastoral inconsistencies; I will stick with Christ and His Gospel and the teaching authority of Tradition.