Archive for January, 2013

Happy Feast Day, St Francis!

Posted: January 24, 2013 in Feast Days
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St Francis de Sales

Today is the feast day of St Francis de Sales, Bishop of Geneva, Confessor and Doctor of the Church. He is the patron saint of writers and journalists.

A man of great wisdom, here are three of my favourite quotes:

Why are you surprised when the weak turn out to be weak, and the frail, frail? When you turn out to be sinful? When you fall be gentle with your frail, weak heart. Lift up your heart gently; accept your failure without wallowing in your weakness. Admit your guilt in God’s sight. Then with good heart, with courage and confidence in His mercy, start over again.

Be who you are, and be that perfectly well!


The measure of love is to love without measure

The Holy Father welcoming journalists

Lance Armstrong

At the end of BBC Radio 4’s flagship Today programme, Jonathon Aitkin, the former conservative MP convicted of perjury in 1999 and Fr. Stephen Wang , Catholic priest and Dean of studies at Allen Hall seminary, discussed the capacity of confession in the light of Lance Armstrong’s “confession” to be broadcast soon on Oprah.

Jonathon Aitkin, an Anglican, compared confession as a transit stop on the way to repentance, observing confession is not a quick fix to putting something right. At its deepest level, confession has something to do with the heart, the spirit. It’s a spiritual journey.

Fr. Stephen Wang highlighted the elements of confession, saying it’s not just about going to confession, but you must have a genuine sorrow in your heart, it’s about promising to put things right, and, in Catholic terms, it about doing penance – bringing justice, healing and reconciliation, recognising you have done harm to others and that needs to be put right, and there will be some personal cost to that. Therefore it’s not simply suffering for one’s sake but its saying sorry and rebuilding relationships.

Aitkin reflects that it can be a painful journey that brings sense of relief, peace, and a feeling that some amends have been made.

The presenter asked Fr. Wang if atheists can confess?

Fr. Stephen Wang

Fr. Wang replied that there are different levels of confession that need to be recognised. Firstly, there is the therapeutic level, getting something off our chest. Secondly, there is the communal level- saying sorry and putting things right. Thirdly, there is the spiritual level, which brings spiritual healing. Catholics can find in this in God’s grace and Jesus Christ.

Reflecting on Armstrong’s confession, Aitkin says that if it is a genuine confession, he need not worry about the bucketfuls of cynicism that surround the interview because he will be doing it for an audience of one, not millions.

Fr. Wang hopes his “confession” will be genuine. He will be looking to see how his life had changed, and

if he makes personal apologies to the people he’s harmed.

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux observed a sincere sign of repentance is avoiding the occasion of sin.

The interview is available here until 21/01/2013, and starts at 2:54:49.

Read what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation here.

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The path of Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary (Marian consecration) was introduced by Saint Louis in the 18th Century.

Blessed John Paul II said of Marian consecration;

” … At one point I began to question any devotion to Mary, believing that, if it became too great, it might end up compromising the supremacy of the worship owed Christ. At that time, I was greatly helped by a book by Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort entitled ‘Treatise of True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin.’ There I found the answers to my questions. Yes, Mary does bring us closer to Christ; she does lead us to him, provided that we live her mystery in Christ. . . . . thanks to Saint Louis, I began to discover the immense riches of Marian devotion from new perspectives.”

Blessed John Paul II’s papal motto Totus tuas reflects his personal devotion and consecration to Mary.

Consecration falls on a Marian feast therefore, preparation begins 33 days before hand, through a series of prayers by St Louis de Montford. Preparation for consecration can begin today, so that consecration falls on the Feast of our Lady of Lourdes, the 11th February. You can follow it on Facebook.

Total consecration to Mary is something that should be undertaken after prayer and reflection, it is not a light hearted decision. To find out more information, or for alternative dates, visit Fisheaters 

fill these hearts

Christopher West’s new book, Fill These Hearts, is out today¬ For several weeks now, West has been posting “sneak peaks” on Facebook. Here the latest excerpt:

“According to the Christian faith, the ecstasy we yearn for at the deepest level of our being is precisely what God wants to give us— eternally… This is what sexual morality, properly understood, is all about: learning how to aim our desire for heaven toward heaven.”

I pre-ordered mine on Amazon. I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into it. Hurry up MrPostman!

Below is a short trailer for the book. More information can be found on West’s website.

At Mass today, on the feast of the Epiphany, the priest ended his sermon with a wonderful meditation by Howard Thurman, an American civil rights activist. As Christmas-tide draws to a close, it prompts us to consider our work as adopted sons and daughters of God.

“When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among people,
To make music in the heart.”

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Put the date in your diary! The Irish government are on the brink of legalising abortion at the beginning of 2013. Again, as in December, we must come out in force, stand up for the rights of the unborn children, and womens’ rights. It has never been more important to make your voice heard. Banners, candles etc will be provided. All we need is you! And bring along friends and family. For more information, visit http://prolifecampaign.ie/

Today is the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God! She is the “New Eve,” since Eve’s disobedience ushered sin into the world while Mary’s “yes” and obedience ushered the Savior into the world!

Mary, the new Eve

Eve and Mary, the new Eve

Volunteers arriving for European meeting

Volunteers arriving for European meeting

Each year, young people from across the continent and beyond gather for Taize’s European meeting, held in a different city each year. This year, for the fourth time, the meeting was held in Rome. On Saturday evening after the period of silence during the prayer service, Br Alois, prior of the Taize community, greeted Pope Benedict. 

Greeting to the Holy Father by Brother Alois
Most Holy Father,Today a significant milestone in our “pilgrimage of trust on earth” is taking place. We have come from all over Europe and from other continents too, from various Church affiliations. What unites us is stronger than what divides us: one baptism and the same Word of God unite us. We have come here this evening to celebrate this unity around you, a unity which is real even if it is not yet fully realized. It is when we turn together towards Christ that it grows deeper.

Brother Roger left a legacy to our community—his desire to communicate the Gospel to young people in particular. He was deeply aware that the divisions between Christians are a barrier to handing on the faith. He opened paths of reconciliation that we have not yet finished exploring. Inspired by his testimony, there are very many people who want to anticipate reconciliation by their lives, to live already as people who are reconciled.Reconciled Christians can become witnesses to peace and communion, bearers of a new solidarity among human beings.

Seeking a personal relationship with God is the basis of this approach. This ecumenism of prayer does not encourage a facile tolerance. It promotes a mutual listening which is demanding, and a true dialogue.Praying here tonight, we cannot forget that the last letter written by Brother Roger, just before his violent death, was addressed to you, Holy Father, to tell you that our community wanted to walk in communion with you. Nor can we forget how, after his tragic death, your support was invaluable to encourage us to move forward. So I would like to express once again the deep affection of our hearts for your person and for your ministry.

Finally, I would like to bring the witness to hope of the many young Africans with whom we met a month ago at Kigali, Rwanda. They came from 35 countries, including Congo, North Kivu, to undertake a pilgrimage of reconciliation and peace. The great vitality of these young Christians is a promise for the future of the Church.These young Africans wanted us to bring back a sign of their hope, sorghum seeds, so that they could grow in Europe. Can I take the liberty, Holy Father, of giving you, from them, a small traditional Rwandan basket called “agaseke” with some of these seeds of hope from Africa? Perhaps they could be planted in the Vatican gardens and blossom there?

Pope Benedict then addressed the community, and the 45 000 young pilgrims, Christian, Protestant and Orthodox, who gathered in St Peter’s Square. Below is the text of his address to the young people.

 rome vigil

Thank you, dear Brother Alois, for your warm words, full of affection.

Dear young people, dear pilgrims of trust, welcome to Rome!You have come in great numbers, from all over Europe and from other continents, to pray at the tombs of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul. In fact, in this city both shed their blood for Christ. The faith that motivated these two great apostles of Christ is the same that compelled you to start out on this journey. During the year that is about to begin, you are proposing to uncover the well springs of trust in God in order to live it in your everyday life. It gladdens me that in this way, you have embraced the aims of the Year of Faith which began in October.

This is the fourth European meeting to be held in Rome. On this occasion, I would like to repeat the words my predecessor, John Paul II to young people during your third Meeting in Rome: “The Pope feels deeply committed together with you all on this pilgrimage of trust on earth … I too am called to be a pilgrim of trust in the name of Christ”. (30 December 1987).

 

ENGLISH 
Just over seventy years ago, Brother Roger established the Taizé Community. Thousands of young people from all over the world continue to go there to seek meaning for their lives. The Brothers welcome them to share in their prayer and provide them with an opportunity to experience a personal relationship with God. It was to support these young people on their journey to Christ that Brother Roger had the idea of starting a “pilgrimage of trust on earth”.A tireless witness to the Gospel of peace and reconciliation, ardently committed to an ecumenism of holiness, Brother Roger encouraged all those who passed through Taizé to become seekers of communion. We should listen in our hearts to his spiritually lived ecumenism, and let ourselves be guided by his witness towards an ecumenism which is truly interiorized and spiritualized. Following his example, may all of you be bearers of this message of unity. I assure you of the irrevocable commitment of the Catholic Church to continue seeking the paths of reconciliation leading to the visible unity of Christians. And so this evening I greet with special affection those among you who are Orthodox or Protestants.

FRENCH

Today, Christ is asking you the same question he asked his disciples, “Who am I to you?”. Peter, at whose tomb we are gathered at this moment, replied: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:15-16). His whole life became a concrete answer to this question. Christ also wants to receive a response from each of you born of a deep inner freedom and not of compulsion or fear. In responding to that question your life will find its strongest meaning. The text of the Letter of St. John that we have just heard helps us understand with great simplicity how to respond: “What we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another” (3:23). Have faith and love God and others! What could be more exciting? What could be more beautiful?During these days in Rome, let this Yes to Christ grow in your hearts, above all by taking advantage of the long moments of silence that are an integral part of your community prayers, after having listened to the Word of God. This Word, says the Second Letter of Peter, is “like a lamp shining in a dark place,” which you do well to be attentive to “until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (1.19). You have to understand: if the morning star must arise in your hearts it is because it is not always present there. Sometimes the evil and suffering of the innocent create doubt and confusion in you. And saying Yes to Christ can become difficult. But these doubts do not make you non-believers! Jesus did not reject the man in the Gospel who shouted: “I do believe, help my unbelief!” (Mk 9:24).

GERMAN
So that you do not lose faith during this battle, God never leaves you alone and isolated. He gives us all the joy and comfort of the communion of the Church. During your stay in Rome, thanks to the generous hospitality of many parishes and religious communities, you are undergoing a new experience of being Church. On your return home, to your various countries, I invite you to discover that God is making you all co-responsible for His Church, in all the variety of vocations. This communion which is the Body of Christ needs you and you all have a place in it. Starting with your gifts, from what is specific to each of you, the Holy Spirit forms and breathes life into this mystery of communion which is the Church, in order to convey the Good News of the Gospel to the world today.

POLISH
Together with silence, song has an important place in your community prayers. In these days the songs of Taizé fill the basilicas of Rome. Song is a support and incomparable expression of prayer. Singing to Christ, you open yourselves to the mystery of His hope. Do not be afraid to precede the dawn in praise of God, you will not be disappointed.Dear young friends, Christ does not remove you from the world. He sends you there where His light is missing, so that you may bring it to others. Yes, you are all called to be small lights to those around you. With your attention to a more equitable distribution of the goods of the earth, with your commitment to justice and a new human solidarity, you will help those around you to better understand how the Gospel leads us to God and at the same time to others. So, with your faith, you will contribute to uncovering the wellsprings of trust on earth.

Be full of hope. God bless you, your family and friends!

A Challenge for 2013