Thursday 31 December 2015

Reflections of the Christmas Feasts

On December 25th we celebrated the Nativity. We are often told that Christmas is about Children. The truth is that it’s about one child: the Christ Child, God-made-man, who came to earth to redeem us from sin. And no sin is too big to be forgiven, for no sin can be bigger than God who is infinite (without end –and how can you get beyond that which has no end?) So no one should ever be afraid of facing God. If Christmas is about anything it is about God coming into the world to seek out and save that which was lost: mankind, so we should never be afraid to run to Him for mercy. We should, however, have a fear of sin -and a healthy rebuke of ourselves, for the danger lies not in God but in us: we get complacent because we judge ourselves against the worst in society, and since we don’t murder, don’t rob with violence, don’t cheat on our spouse and don’t abuse our kids; and since we do give time to supporting others in need, donating to charity and coming to Holy Mass we feel good about ourselves. But none of this stops us falling into sins of omission: the neglect of our prayer life; the neglect of developing our understanding of The Faith; the neglect of public witness; nor does it prevent us falling into sins of commission such as gossip, duplicity, impurity and drunkenness. So while we should never fear God because His mercy is infinite, we should  -we must-  fear sin, since sin separates us from God. It can kill our relationship with the God who loves us -not from His side, but from ours by choosing to sin. So never fear God, but do fear sin. Do you fear sin, or do you dismiss it easily?

On December 26th we celebrated St. Stephen, the proto Martyr. Like Stephen, we have to die. We may not have to die a physical death as did those beheaded by ISIS, but we do have to die to selfishness and self-directive autonomy. We do have to die to the vices that put distance between ourselves and God, and between us and our neighbour. It isn’t easy to die to self; we are so used to getting our own way in so many things. But to die to self is an essential part of the Christian Life; “THY will be done” (not mine). Can we get up fifteen minutes earlier to ensure we begin our day with God? Can we switch off the TV or computer to do good and fulfil our responsibilities in life? Can we call it a night when out with friends and they take a wrong turn in alcohol consumption or conversation? Can we say no to passing pleasures for happiness in Heaven?

On December 28th we celebrated the Holy Innocents. It would be easy to relate this to the slaughter of unborn children that has overtaken society since the 1967 Abortion act in the UK and Roe Versus Wade in 1973. The correlation would be sound, but incomplete. For the innocence of children is being slaughtered every day in classrooms and in the media, and with this goes great damage to their spiritual life. Schools are pushing a sex-education curriculum that rejects the Gospel of Christ (yet left unchallenged or worse, even supported by the majority of Bishops); classrooms in our colleges push moral relativism as a non-judgmental stance to our young adults; the media affirms cohabitation, contraception, homosexual activity and promiscuity of men and women as normal, and often presents the killing of the unborn child and the sick as wise and compassionate. Can you see the errors in the sexualisation of our children by school and college curricula? Can you switch off the TV when it focuses on violence and immoral lifestyles?

The messages of Christmas are not romantic if we see beyond the emotionalism of the season, but how many of us do? I’m afraid the majority of our Bishops and presbyters do not, cannot or will not. No wonder our people today reject solid teaching in the homilies of the tradition-loyal priest, and reject liturgies which focus on God and propitiation for sin rather than bright and breezy liturgy focused on affirming the people who should still be working out their salvation “in fear and trembling” (Phil.2v12).

Tuesday 15 December 2015

Those Tax Collectors and Prostitutes

One can almost hear those whose understanding of mercy is distorted proclaiming that all should be welcome at Holy Communion in light of today’s reading from the Novus Ordo. The Gospel passage in question is Matthew 21v28-38: “Prostitutes and tax collectors are making their way into the kingdom of God before you”. What the proponents of the distorted Gospel will say is that these prostitutes (and this would include all sexually irregular lives) and tax collectors (dishonest, collaborating men) are making their way into the Banquet of Heaven before Traditional Catholics who ‘count their rosaries’ while holding like Pharisees to the Church’s laws. Nonsense; that is prejudiced (or at the very least ignorant) preaching. The reason those prostitutes and dishonest men were making their way into the Kingdom of God was because they left their sin behind after hearing John the Baptist: “John came, a pattern of true righteousness, and you did not believe him, yet the tax collectors and prostitutes did.” And what was it John was preaching? “Repent ('about face'), for the Kingdom of Heaven is close at hand” (Matt. 3v2). It was because of their repentance; their metanoia, their ‘about face’ that they entered the Kingdom of Heaven; they were in fact former tax collectors and former prostitutes, not people actively living a life of sin. You can bet your last dollar that this will be forgotten in many homilies offered today, and that what we will will be distorted presentations of mercy that diminish or even eradicate the need for a change in lifestyle; presentations that say we should accept active homosexuals, cohabitees and those in civil marriages to the Eucharist. Such preachers are, I suggest, by failing to act on the Gospel teaching of John, our Lord, and the 2000 year history of the Church, those who 'do not believe’. Their love for the sinner is not one of holy charity and truth but a human emotion –and it is human emotion that lead many they support into the irregular lifestyles Holy Mother Church has long-since labelled ‘occasions of sin’. 
Who could not want to see everyone in heaven? Whop could ever hope that any soul would be lost? Surely we all want to see every person whom the lord has created and for whom He died enter into heaven? But we do have to uphold the need for a change of life from one of vice to virtue if that is to happen, all the while encouraging folk that no matter how often they fall, if they are genuinely repentant and willing to return to the life of virtue, that there is no sin God cannot or will not forgive, and that he is eager to welcome them home.