Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Several years ago, a priest suggested to me and a few other young adults that we go into Birmingham on a Saturday afternoon, and ask people if they knew about Jesus Christ. It sounded terrifying. I thought the priest was being mischevieous, testing us, and, if I was to do it, would only do so with suitable protection, like a stab proof vest! Approach strangers? Stop them in the street? Tell them about Christ? Surely, I thought, there must be some easier way to evangelize…

Nightfever at St Teresa's Carmelite Church, Clarendon Street, Dublin

Ireland’s first Nightfever, St Teresa’s Carmelite Church, Clarendon Street, Dublin

Yesterday, I found myself standing at the top of Grafton Street, a busy shopping and tourist area in the heart of Dublin, wearing a high-vis jacket greeting passers by and offering them a candle.

The reason for this was Nightfever. An idea born out of World Youth Day 2005, it is an ‘open church’ night. Young missionaries go out in in pairs, as Jesus sent the disciples, offering candles to passers-by, inviting them to light the candle inside the church.

Walking down Grafton Street last night, Dubliners and tourists would have heard the tunes from buskers as they ended a day’s shopping, or began a night out. However, when passing St Teresa’s Church, Clarendon Street, they would have heard beautiful hymns, pouring out of the church onto the street.

Inside, the beauty of the church was illuminated by candlelight, from the hundreds of votive lights placed around the altar. Priests were available for people who had questions, wanted to talk, or go to Confession. People flowed in from the streets to light their candles, hear the music, sit, kneel, think, look, talk, pray… For some, it had been a while since they visited a Catholic church, for others, it was their first visit.

Whether the visitors stayed for a few minutes, a half hour, or the whole evening. Some passers by accepted the candles offered by the missionaries and went on their way. Others simply said “no thank you” and walked on. But even these may remember the warm and welcoming smile of a stranger on a Saturday night. Seeds were planted last night. We pray that the Holy Spirit may nurture these seeds and pour out upon them His inspiration, grace and love.

The next Nightfever in Dublin will take place on 20th June. To get a flavour of the mission, take a look at the video below…

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Generation Benedict

40 days, 40 reflections, 40 young people on how Pope Benedict has touched their hearts & why they are proud to be part of #GenerationBenedict

Pope Benedict has been responsible for the conversion, reversion, vocation and the deepening of faith of many young Catholics. At the time of his visit to the UK, many Catholics were luke-warm, even living their lives completely at odds to the Church. During this visit, and also World Youth Days in Cologne, Sydney and Madrid, he has connected with them through his eloquence, his love and genuine concern. Who is God calling you to be?

Pope Benedict will be truly missed by our generation. Those who have met him look upon him fondly as a gentle grandfatherly figure, as he has pointed us towards Christ, at a point in time when many of us were at a crossroads, telling us not to settle for second best, but to strive for sainthood.

Over the next 40 days of Lent, 40 young people from Generation Benedict will each be sharing how he has touched their hearts and changed their lives and changed their hearts.

Please visit our Lenten blog, our tribute to Pope Benedict. We invite you to comment and share your own experiences on the blog and on Twitter using #generationbenedict

Virgin Mary Bolivia Virgin Mary Bolivia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1st February 2013, Ururo, Bolivia. Crowds gathered for the unveiling of Virgen del Socavón, four years in the making and at a cost of $1.2 million.

Virgen del Socavón is the patron saint of miners. She stands tall on a 12, 000 foot mountain, south of La Paz, Bolivia’s second largest city. Standing 45 meters tall, the Virgin is seven meters taller the Rio’s Christ the Redeemer, but slightly shorter than the statue of Liberty, New York.

Rolando Rocha, the lead sculptor, told reporters that the monument “is an act of faith that strengthens our traditions.”

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.

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!

Angus T Jones, a lead actor in what has been called by the New York Times as “the biggest hit comedy of the last decade”, has hit out at the show, Two and a Half Men. The raunchy comedy conflicts with his Christian beliefs.

Jones, 19, has starred in the show since he was 10 years old and now earns over £200,000 per episode, making him the highest paid teen actor. However, he says the show is incompatible with his Christian beliefs, labelling the show as “filth”, and has asked viewers to stop watching it. He urges viewers to research the effects of TV on the brain and promises viewers they will have a decision to make.

It can be easy to put the television on after a long day, or have it on as ‘background noise’, without considering what exactly we are feeding our minds with. I recently heard the question asked- have you spent as much time with God today as you have in front of the TV? This is a good question to ask ourselves daily. Instead of watching a 30 minute episode of Two and a Half Men and feeding your minds with rubbish, you could spend 30 minutes reading the Gospel and be inspired by the word of God.

Jones can be seen making these comments in the video below, starting at 07:44.

Source: en.avaaz.org via LE on Pinterest