Category Archives: Catholic

Being Catholic in a nutshell: Why go to Mass every Sunday? (or every day even!)

I’ve decided to write some short answers to the stuff even Catholics don’t seem to know the answers to. I hear these questions a lot. So here’s the first one:

Why do Catholics have to go to Mass every Sunday? What is the Sunday obligation all about?

It’s like this. On the night He was betrayed Jesus took bread and wine during a liturgical meal (a Passover) and said, “This is My Body” and “This is My Blood” and then “Do this in Remembrance of Me.”

He didn’t finish the meal but went out to the Garden of Olives where He was betrayed and arrested. He was put through trails and torture before taking His cross and completing His Passion – a word that means to pour out – on Calvary, where He was crucified and died.

On the Third Day He rose.

Every Mass is a re-presentation (meaning to make present again but not a re-sacrifice, as that’s not possible or warranted) of that once and for all Sacrifice made by Jesus for us and our Salvation. When we go to Mass we are in a way actually there with Him as He offers His Body and Blood and then we can go forward and eat His Body as He commanded in John 6 so we can have Life in us.

Knowing that at each Mass we are drawn into participation with the Passion and can receive Him in His risen self; Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity then we are automatically obliged to do so under the First Commandment. We must put God first.

So, those who think doing something else is more important than being with God in such a profound way are making something else more important than God.

That’s it in nutshell.

Sitting on a hard bench.

I can’t remember where I heard this but someone, sometime said s/he thought the reason churches had wooden pews was so that the pew-sitter didn’t get too comfortable. Christ isn’t a comfortable person.

This weekend we have had the ember days of the Triumph of the Cross and Our Lady of Sorrows. Both uncomfortable remembrances. The Triumph(or exultation) of the Cross came about like this:

St. Helena (mother of Constantine the Great) had found the true cross at Jerusalem and rescued it. She left part of it in Jerusalem at the Holy Sepulchre and took the rest back to Rome. Around 614 the Persians stole the portion of the cross from the Holy Sepulchre. Things went wrong for the Persians after that (an echo of what happened to the Philistines when the stole the Ark of the Covenant). In 629 the Emperor Heraclius took the cross back and carried it in fine procession back to Jerusalem and Calvary. However, upon reaching the city he found he couldn’t go on. Bishop Zacharias pointed out that Christ had not been so finely dressed when He carried the cross. The Emperor changed to a penitents robe and carried the cross the rest of the way.

We are proud to preach Christ crucified and know that He has commanded us to take up our cross each day to follow him. A hard bench in church is perhaps a very small reminder of that.

Our Lady of Sorrows with her seven swords of sorrow comes the following day. Despite the great suffering laid on her she continually said “yes” (Fiat) to God.

imgYesterday I listened to the Catholic Answers programme with Steve Ray talking about the horrible persecution and mass martyrdom of Christians in the Middle East. He spoke of a nun whose entire family had been slaughtered and a Christian man whose heart was cut out and eaten raw by one of the the Muslim terrorists. We know what’s happening in Syria and some of us at least are horrified that our Governments want to aid the terrorists who are murdering as many Christians as they can get hold of.

Then after Mass yesterday a man spoke to us. He had come from Bethlehem with some of the beautiful olive wood carvings that he and his fellow Christians make. It’s all they can do to stay afloat there. The wall has done them much damage and they are trapped between Israel’s need for security on the one side and Islamic persecution on the other.

If you can possibly buy some olivewood carvings that will help Elias and his fellow Christians.  They are sold HERE and at ACN HERE 

Olive wood, he told us, is the second hardest wood in the world. Some of the carvings, which must be done by hand, take 8 months of work.

There’s nothing comfortable about that.

Sign

I blame the Catholics.

Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ

St. Jerome

There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.”

Ven. Fulton Sheen

It’s been known for a very long time that Catholic Schools are not producing Catholic adults. In fact the very opposite. Concerns have been raised over and over again, and no action is taken.  Parents who don’t know their faith cannot pass it on to their children and if they think their children will get the faith in school, they are wrong.

A few things have happened recently that has brought home to me that Catholics are often the problem. Let’s take marriage for example.  Some gay people think Catholics are anti gay marriage because Catholics are anti gay people. They can point to the sudden resistance to gay marriage where before this, the shocking breakdown of marriage, the use of contraception and even abortion among Catholics has barely raised an eyebrow. Catholics are no better than anyone else when it comes to sexual morality, divorce and anti-children behaviour. It does seem quite late for the outcry over what is called “gay marriage.”

Recently, I’ve had two conversations with someone who does take their faith seriously and knows it reasonably well. I was told that she feels isolated at times even among fellow Catholics because she practices and understands her Faith and even some of her friends who attend Mass, simply have no clue and want to follow the culture rather than the Church.

I have also been told that when a few Catholics were faced with a question from a protestant about why Catholic baptise babies that not one person there could answer the question!

Invincible ignorance is ignorance that can’t be avoided – but I really don’t believe all that many Catholics are genuinely invincibly ignorant; they simply can’t be bothered to find out.

St Peter gave us a strict command:

In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to anyone to asks for a reason for the hope that you have. Do this with gentleness and respect.

1 Peter 3:15

If we are going to obey this command then we are obliged to know the answer to the questions we might be asked.

I don’t really blame those young’uns who, having been through years of Catholic school and in at least one case, a (pseudo) Catholic  University don’t even know why we baptise babies. I don’t blame the questioner, who despite belonging to a “Bible alone” church hasn’t enough knowledge of Scripture to see where whole families are baptised and no knowledge of the history of the Church to see babies were baptised throughout. The only time in the early Church infant baptism was questioned was on whether to wait for the child to be 8 days old, in continuity with the Old Covenant law on circumcision; receiving the answer that as “baptism now saves you,” (1 Pet 3:21) that a baby shouldn’t have to wait. Remember infant death was much more common back then.

Catholics in the west are heading towards a third generation of Catholics who haven’t a clue about Christ, His Church, Scripture or even basic morality.  They walk around soaking up the culture and unaware or even uncaring that the most important person in their lives – God – is practically a stranger to them.

I constantly hear a call for the laity to take up the battle. But a laity going into battle with no generals or officers and totally unarmed are going to be spiritually slaughtered. Starving sheep cannot become shepherds.

Thankfully there are some good things happening, mostly coming from America, but some from Australia too. There are good catechetical and Scriptural materials on the market and free radio and podcasts to help us learn our history and faith.

Mother Angelica who surely will be canonised very quickly when her time to go home comes, set up the Eternal Word Television Network and from her work a global network of TV and radio in at least three languages (I’m aware of English, Spanish and German) goes out. Now, I know many people are concerned by the quality of some of the TV work and I have to agree, but some of the radio affiliations are excellent.

ICCThere is also the amazing work done by The Institute of Catholic Culture. They offer all the events free online as video or audio and you can literally learn the Faith, it’s history, Scripture, ethics and morality. It’s all done for parish level most lectures are of a fantastic standard.

Catholic Answers has an excellent  question and answer format where anyone can phone in with a question. They have programs especially aimed at non-Catholics, atheists and others.

The Coming Home Network has freebies including Deep In Scripture.

Like many people I have a wall of Hahn, but there’s free audio too. Dr Hahn also offers Scripture Study for free Buy his books! They aren’t difficult to understand and if God is the most important person for eternity then a few dollars/quid on books by Dr Scott Hahn is an investment – so long as you read them.

There is so much out there now – thank God for American universities like Franciscan Steubenville and Ave Maria and Christendom etc.

Ignorance is not bliss and it needn’t be that way.

Four Popes and an Encyclical

Papa-and-Pop-PopWell, it’s all happening in the Church at the moment! Pope Francis has published the encyclical Lumen Fidei which was begun by Papa Beni and then the two men worked together on it. You can download it as a pdf; look top right corner. Then using Calibre a free ebook converter and ebook manager thingy, you can make the encyclical suitable for your ereader and load it on.

Then the Vatican has announced that both Pope John XXIII and Bl. Pope John Paul II are to be canonised together. They are waiving the requirement for a second miracle from Pope John XXIII. The second miracle from Bl. Pope John Paul II has happened but details havent’ been released and meanwhile the MSM over here are saying the first miracle is dodgy.  I would really like the spokesperson for the Vatican to make some clear statements on all this.

The Anchoress has a good overview including the consecration to St. Michael.

I have to admit I’m a bit foggy about what’s happening here. I don’t know why the second miracle requirement has been waived or why the second miracle attributed to the prayers of Bl. Pope John Paul II hasn’t been released properly and what is going on about the rumours of the first miracle not standing up to scrutiny. Knowing how extra-cautious the Church is about miracles and how even a hint that it could have happened through other means will mean it isn’t ratified as official, I am confused about what’s going on.  The Vatican press office does have a reputation for muddled announcements so it could be that.

Anyway, hopefully some clarity will be arrive over the next few days.

Forgiveness. What is it and how do you do it?

Having had to hear the rather sad calumny against people with severe chronic illnesses like FMS and ME that we are ill because we don’t forgive and this. along with being angry and lonely, has made us ill, I’ve been reconsidering the whole subject of forgiveness.

Jesus made it a commandment. “Forgive your enemies,” and “Forgive your brother”, (meaning all relatives and friends). He said this in various ways at various times. If it’s a commandment (and it is) then it’s something we must do with our will, not just a feeling. In His commandment Jesus offers no wiggle room such as “forgive anyone who says sorry” or “forgive those brought to justice”.  He is, in fact, rather stark in His commandment. We are just to forgive.

There was a tendency I remember of saying “forgive and forget”. This is probably fairly easy for someone like me who can’t remember much anyway, but for someone with functioning memory that’s not possible. For someone who has been systematically abused, it’s completely impossible. You can’t tell someone to “forget” as memory isn’t under the will. You can help someone not dwell on bad memories, which is part of the will, but you can’t make someone forget.

Back in my psychi nurse days a friend of mine noted that many of the patients with schizophrenia had been seriously abused, often in childhood. The question  was raised whether those with a predisposition to such a serious mental illness could be tipped into illness by abuse. There are no answers to this; and anyway we knew just as many patients who had lived normal happy lives until the disease struck. We do know that schizophrenia is rooted in having too high a dopamine uptake, but why this happens and how is still a mystery. While modern medicine loves to blame patients and their families, there is actually nothing to back up this “blame the patient” approach in psychotic illness.

But there are many people who have very good reason to be unhappy, anxious and angry about the way others have treated them. So what can they do to forgive those who have wounded them either through selfishness, thoughtlessness or maliciousness? How do we obey the command Jesus gave us to forgive? And why did Jesus insist on it anyway?

In the Old Testament God says, “Revenge is mine” (Deut 32:35). That means it isn’t up to us to take revenge or want revenge for the wrongs done to us. If we can pray for those who persecute us (Matt 5:44) then we are on the right way to forgiveness. If we can genuinely hope for the best for the person who has hurt us, for heaven for them, then we have made the act of will to forgive.

Some people have said it’s easier to forgive another’s sin against us if we understand our sins against God. This may be true up to a point, but there are some sins that others perpetrate against us that we wouldn’t dream of doing, no matter how badly behaved we might be. It isn’t helpful to measure our sins against sins that are so monstrous we couldn’t even consider committing them.

All we can do is accept we too sin. Then we must be sure we ask for forgiveness for our sins. But if the person who has hurt us is never sorry all we can do is leave it in God’s hands.

And that’s why Jesus commands it. There’s nothing more freeing, more peace bringing than forgiving the other and putting their salvation into God’s hands. The act of forgiveness is healing to the person who has been wronged. That’s the root of Jesus’ command. Forgive your enemies because it’s good for you.

If we believe the terrible warnings Jesus gave us and the witness of saints over the years we know with deep sorrow that hell is not empty. Jesus offered forgiveness to anyone and everyone. All we have to do is accept the gift. If we offer the gift we cannot force the other to take it, any more than Jesus forces them to take His forgiveness. If people don’t want to be sorry or accept forgiveness they don’t have to. But you surely can’t look at a crucifix for very long without realising that He did that as He did that for each of us, our forgiving others can’t be so hard, especially as He will give us what we need to do it.

Forgive even those who project their own problems onto you. Resist the temptation to wish for retribution or even justice. Pray and ask for mercy for them as you would want mercy for you. And resist the other temptation that comes with being hurt by someone who does something you would never dream of doing. Resist feeling superior, even if they never say sorry.  While being so magnanimous with your forgiveness don’t trip into the pit of the Pharisee. 

Forgiveness is really wishing well for the other, wanting their redemption.  Those, rather strange, pseudo-christians who scream damnation on others have absolutely no idea what they are doing (or at least I hope not). Pray and leave it up to God. 

This forgiveness malarkey; it’s not as easy as you might think is it?

For those easier to solve moments  “Hey now, hold on, there’s a better way to solve this conflict, hey now, hold on, there’s a better way —-hug it out, hug it out..

The Ascension of Our Lord and a side note about St. Dismas

It’s the Solemnity of the Ascension of Our Lord today although locally here it won’t be celebrated until Sunday. In this piece in which Pope Francis speaks about the Ascension he notes how joyful the apostles were when Jesus ascended into heaven. He points out that the  disciples knew Jesus hadn’t been taken away from them, but that He remained with them forever.  He had promised “I am with you, even to the end of the age.” And they knew He always spoke the truth.

I was going to try and write something meaningful about the Ascension but my brain is on a go slow.

So can I, instead, mention poor old St. Dismas. (Yes, I do have a soft spot for him).

It seems to be a popular question these days to ask if St. Dismas, the good thief, crucified with Jesus, did anything to be saved and whether he passed through purgatory.

If people think that Purgatory is a “place” you go to after death and Jesus said “This day you will be with me in Paradise” I do understand there might be some confusion. But if, as I suspect, many questioners are saying Dismas didn’t suffer purgatory (and in a weird extension that I don’t understand they then say therefore there is no purgatory) then it makes me think of “invisible illnesses”.

First; Purgatory is a process in which a soul is cleansed of attachment to sin and makes the required reparation for those sins as nothing unclean can live with God.  St. Paul describes it as being saved “as if through fire” where only the “gold and silver” are left.  It was certainly part of popular thought that Purgatory was a place with a time linked to earth where people would be purged over days, years or even centuries but this has been clarified by the Church and we are reminded that Purgatory is a process first and  foremost. We can do a whole lot of it this side of death; so as Blessed Pope John Paul II said “Don’t waste your suffering!”

St Dismas was crucified for his sins. He accepted this astonishingly cruel way to die and even had the courage to speak up first for Jesus and then to beg for His mercy, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

To suggest that Dismas didn’t do anything and that he got off lightly is a bit like saying to a person with severe chronic illness “But you don’t look ill.” Perhaps St. Dismas could be made patron saint of “invisible illnesses”.

I am sure this questioning of what St Dismas went through is a very modern thing. Our culture of individualism has slid into blind selfishness and reached the point where even those who are supposed to be Christian can fail to see the suffering of another to such an extent they actually deny it. They deny his courage as well.

It seems to me a short (and dangerous to the soul) step between shrugging off what St. Dismas did in his last hours to shrugging off what his cross mate Jesus did for all of us.

Love one another…how?

Yesterday’s Gospel was St. John telling us how Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment, love one another as I have loved you.” (Jn 13:34)

Father D picked up on the fact that Jesus said this was a “new commandment” and said how new was it when throughout Scripture God has tried to get people to love one another? It was a good question.

Jesus said it was a new commandment because of how He wanted us to love. Having set His example in washing their feet and then feeding them with His Body and Blood (because God is not constrained by time – but that’s another issue) and Judas has left to do his dirty deed.

Jesus then says He is giving them a new commandment, that they love one another – not in the comfortable sense of love but as HE has loved them. In the Greek St. John uses the word “agapete” (from agape) for Greek has more than one word for love depending on what kind of love was being spoken about.

Agape love is the giving love that in Latin is charitas which in English we call charity - that is giving. Charity in it’s real meaning has a much deeper meaning than dropping a few unneeded coins in a box. Agape-charity is sacrifice. We give something we need (or think we need) for the sake of another.

This is the love that demands we forgive our enemies and love them and pray for those who persecute and damage us.

Jesus suffered hugely for love of us and poured out every last drop of blood for us. When He calls the disciples to do the same He means it. There is no way on earth we could obey that commandment.  We are naturally selfish and self serving. Surely He’s asking way too much of us!

Thankfully the context for this otherwise impossible commandment is that He has just provided the Eucharist, the soulfood that gives us what we need to be able to obey that commandment.

In English we bandy the word “love” around in such a way that we often forget what it means in different circumstances. Jesus knows exactly what He is saying when He uses the word love and if we are going to love the way He wants us to, we had better be sure we get to grips with His meaning of the word, rather than what we would rather it meant.

Actions to speak louder

There’s an old saying “Action speaks louder than words.” It’s such a cliche that hardly anyone says it these days.  There’s also a saying attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, which I think scholars do not believe he ever really said. It’s something like “Teach the Gospel, and if necessary use words.”

Some time ago, interested as I was in the Victorian view of criminal psychology (so I have weird interests) I downlaoded a book by Dr Henry Maudsley (of Maudsley Hospital fame) who was a friend of Charles Darwin. I began reading the book and (very unusally for me) I gave up. Apart from the astonishingly pompous tone of the writing which just grated on me, Maudsley made some very bizarre comments about a passage in the Book of Ezekial, showing he had absolutely no idea what was happening in that passage, nor any notion of a culture outside of his own. (if memory serves he even muddled Ezekial with Jeremiah)

Ezekial  did something strange (according to the great Victorian psychiatrist) but if we take a look at what he did and why we’ll see Jeremiah wasn’t acting “mad” he was challenging the selective deafness of the people under his care.  God told Ezekial that the people had ears that didn’t hear and eyes that didn’t see. So as they refused to listen, Ezekial was going to show them the prophecy. He acted it out before their eyes (Ex 12:2-7)

A lot of people are muttering about Pope Francis saying he is showing off his humility. He is saying words “I am bishop of Rome” and then doing things that show what that means. He is indeed “showing” how to do humility. He is trying to show the bishops and cardinals how to be a bishop or cardinal. Then they can pick up their spiritual fatherlyness and lead us all, even if it means down on hands and knees crawling through a hole in the wall.

The word “cardinal” means hinge, and a good, well oiled hinge will do a good job of opening and shutting a door. But a hinge that has let it’s oil run dry and allowed itself to rust doesn’t allow for easy entrance or exit.

Vatican PopeA lot of people want Papa Francis to kick ass and do some serious weeding in God’s Garden. Perhaps he will, I don’t know. But I can see how he’s trying to lead by example. A friend said to me, “Can you imagine our bishop doing what Francis is doing?” Sadly, I can’t. And that’s the moment when it all fell into place. He is facing a people who won’t listen to words and are lulled into watching pictures without seeing them; so here he is trying to make the pictures for us so we can SEE what has to be done.

It has been reported (in Portuguese I can’t find it in English yet) that Pope Francis is going to consecrate his papacy to Our Lady of Fatima.  This will tie him with Popes John Paul II and Benedict. The three of them seem like types of the three parts of the Church. JP is Blessed in heaven with the Church Triumphant, Benedict is going through the purgatory of the Church Suffering and Francis is the active soldier for Christ in the Church Militant.

I love that Pope Emeritus Benedict is being called Grandpapa Benedict around the net. It’s very much how I see him too. His suffering and prayers are the oil that Papa Francis can use to get the rusty hinges working again.

So we can remember the refrain of Bl Pope JP II “Do not be afraid.”

Thank God for Divine Mercy.

imagesCAO9DBVZAs the Octave of Easter approaches we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. It’s got to be one of the most beautiful gifts God has given His people. I have a special soft spot for it, not just because I need it, but also Ronan was baptised on Divine Mercy Sunday on the morning after the death of Blessed Pope John Paul II. I think it is fair to suggest that Blessed Pope John Paul II is the “spark to come out of Poland to ignite the whole world and prepare it for my second coming.”

All we have to do is ask and He pours out His mercy for us. It’s there, and He has to keep asking us to accept it. That’s a bit embarrassing really.

If we reject mercy, then we face judgement, Jesus warns as He has done so through Scripture and the Traditions of the Church. When we are faced with the invitation to accept all the mercy He has on offer, it seems to so simple, but in fact it can be quite difficult. First, we have to admit we need mercy. That’s not all that easy, it seems to me. After all, today we tend to think of people as generally “nice” and nice people are good, we think. Even if you’ve decided to go your own way in life and choose even grave evil then it doesn’t matter so long as you’re nice.  People who consider themselves nice won’t be looking for mercy. We have to accept, painfully, that perhaps we aren’t all that nice sometimes; or even often.

If you are wondering whether you need mercy, why not try reading some lives of the saints; all of whom threw themselves on God’s mercy.

Some quotes from St. Faustina’s Diary

He is Risen! The apparent contradiction between Mary Magdalene and St. Thomas

fra-angelico-noli-me-tangereJesus is Risen in accordance with the Scriptures. The women are the first witnesses and among those women is St. Mary Magdalene, to whom Jesus says the famous words “Noli me tangere..” that is “Do not cling to me,” going on to a rather odd explanation of “for I have not yet ascended to my Father.”(John 20:17). Then not long after this He speaks to St. Thomas offering His wounds to be touched as proof of His Resurrection. While it is uncertain that Thomas actually did touch Jesus, he was certainly invited to. So why the difference?

It has been suggested that Jesus was responding to the two different approaches to His Resurrection. Mary Magdalene had seen His Passion, suffered with Him to the last and she loved Him with what many commenters put as an “earthly love” which was a real, giving love (agape) up to a point, but Jesus was more than an earthly man, He is God Incarnate and in His Resurrected Body He is Present in a more heavenly way than before. In telling Mary not to cling to Him, He is warning her that He is not staying in this form on earth now, She must begin to learn to love Him in a fuller way so that when He returns to Heaven she mustn’t lose hope, but have even greater love and hope.

Poor old Thomas, on the other hand, had felt the rug pulled from under him as Jesus was arrested and the news that He had been condemned reached him. When He is told Jesus has Risen, it’s more than his battered hope can handle. Jesus appears to him and show He is there Body and Soul, not a ghost or a walking corpse, but a truly Resurrected person.

The Resurrection was a massive shift for the apostles and disciples who all had their own personal view of who Jesus should be and what He should do. Even after all that had happened in the last eight days they still approached Him asking if now He would restore Israel.

There are so many flavours of Jesus among Christians even today. It’s very difficult not to cling to the Jesus we have made and to believe in the Jesus who presents Himself to us. But once we have met Him, we can’t help falling to our knees saying “My LORD and my GOD!” with Thomas.

The new dating of the Shroud just announced.

shroud23n-1-webI’ve been interested in the Shroud of Turin, Sudarium of Oviedo and the Veronica for a long time. I’ve read anything in English I can lay my hands on including ploughing my way through some pretty dense scientific reports and studies.

Having read what I can I am in the “I think it’s the shroud of Jesus” camp. I tend to think the Oviedo cloth is the face cloth of Jesus too. I am still undecided on the Veronica of Manoppello, but it has been less studied and there’s not as much in English available to read on it.

I read some time ago of plans to use a different technique for dating the Shroud. I presumed it would take a long time before permission was granted, not least because of the awful behaviour of those involved in the first dating attempt. The debacle of the carbon dating is an embarrassment to good science.

The new tests have gone ahead and the first  reports on the results state that the Shroud is around 2000 years old

Final results show that the Shroud fibres examined produced the following dates, all of which are 95% certain and centuries away from the medieval dating obtained with Carbon-14 testing in 1988: the dates given to the Shroud after FT-IR testing, is 300 BC ±400, 200 BC ±500 after Raman testing and 400 AD ±400 after multi-parametric mechanical testing. The average of all three dates is 33 BC  ±250 years. The book’s authors observed that the uncertainty of this date is less than the single uncertainties and the date is compatible with the historic date of Jesus’ death on the cross, which historians claim occurred in 30 AD.

The tests were carried out using tiny fibres of material extracted from the Shroud by micro-analyst Giovanni Riggi di Numana who passed away in 2008 but had participated in the1988 research project and gave the material to Fanti through the cultural institute Fondazione 3M.

These are the tests I had read would be taking place and it’s good to see the careful reporting on it. I look forward to the full publication – hopefully in English, pretty soon.

The new earlier dating of the Shroud fits far better with all the other evidence about the cloth that has been documented so far.

The Shroud website will propbably carry the info.

There’s this lovely story of a Eucharistic Miracle that happened in Buenes Aires in 1996 which the then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio had to investigate. The Host had been treated sacriligeously and the parish priest, unable to consume it himself placed it in some water and kept it in the Tabernacle until he could deal with it properly.

The host turned into cardiac tissue… you can read the whole story on the link above.

I love the fact that all the Eucharistic miracles where tissue is present it’s always heart tissue.

Tomorrow, Good Friday begins the Divine Mercy Novena.

Holy Week; Spy Wednesday. Thinking like Judas.

Lazarus had been raised from the dead. Instead of doing this on the quiet as He had with Jairus’ daughter (I suspect for her sake) Jesus had raised Lazarus in front of a crowd. The following day He is sitting in the house with Lazarus when Mary comes in and pours very expensive Nard all over his feet.

Judas says the same thing I have heard from so many people who say they are followers of Christ, “Why hasn’t this expensive stuff been sold and the money given to the poor?”

John tells us something else about this statement. Judas was not interested in the poor, he was interested in the money.

How many people who use the same words as Judas about the Church have sold their goods and given the money to the poor?

Jesus says, “The poor you will have with you always….” And sadly this is true. Sell everything you have and give it to the poor and they will still be poor when it runs out.  We need to get our priorities in the right order. We cannot serve the poor properly unless we first serve God properly. We cannot give to the poor unless we first give to God so we can receive from Him everything we need to give to the poor. And if we look at some of the most beautiful buildings and vestments in many churches we find that it was the poor themselves who donated to make sure these things were there for the proper worship of God.

St. Francis of Assisi had nothing. He and his fellow Franciscans begged for their daily bread and worked among the poor all their lives. But Francis insisted on the very best vestments, chalices and altar cloths for the Mass because God is worth it.

Jesus didn’t need nard poured over him. Mary needed to do that. Jesus doesn’t need to see His priests and deacons in proper vestments using precious items for the Mass – we NEED to see that, because we are weak and so easily forget who God is.

When the Church is stripped of her wealth, as she was in England under Henry VIII, it is noteworthy that the wealth doesn’t get near the poor, but boosts the coffers of the already rich. While Henry destroyed everything the poor were thrown out of the hospices and monastery guest houses and the sick were left without the medicinal gardens and care of the monasteries and convents. The schools that had been open to the poor were shut.

Leprosy, which the work of the religious orders had eradicated from England was re-introduced.

And most famously of all the bee-keepers of the country were left destitute.

Judas is not unique. He got his thirty pieces of silver that he longed for, but it didn’t help him or any poor person.

The first person to refuse to offer to God what was right, was Cain, and he murdered his brother. Henry VIII murdered a lot of people, but gave us wonderful saints like St Thomas More and St John Fisher among many many others.

Judas saw to it that Jesus was crucified but from that we have our Salvation.

God makes straight with crooked lines, but God help the one who has made those crooked lines.

Holy Week Tues: Why was the bridegroom so late.

108505652_b7ca73a371_zChrist proclaimed Himself to be the Bridegroom. In the Icon of Christ the Bridegroom He is sitting with His wrists tied, crowned with thorns and in the red robe with the whip marks on his body and holding the reed. In Orthodox Jewish weddings and Eastern Rite and Orthodox weddings the bride and groom wear the crown and their wrists are bound with the stole of the priest or rabbi. I love the symbolism of that. I wish the Latin Rite had it.

Jesus tells a few parables in which wedding banquets play a part, but the one that we tend to consider on Holy Tues is the parable of the wise and foolish bridesmaids. The bit in that parable that I wonder about is “The bridegroom was late” He didn’t turn up when expected.

This is one of those double layered revelations of the both/and kind which Catholic apologists are so fond of.  How often do we hear, in response to a question, “It’s not either/or it’s both/and.” ?

Jesus was late. The people had been waiting for a Messiah since a saviour was promised to Eve and they had been waiting for the throne of David to be eternal since the death of Solomon. It’s a long time to wait.

In the meantime Israel had been scattered among the gentiles and only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin now lived in the Holy Land with a remnant of Levi and an even smaller remnant of the ten lost tribes of Israel.  If all Israel was to be saved where was the Saviour?

So by the time He turned up quite a few people had given up on His appearance all together and those who had not, even among the apostles, had made up their own image of who the Messiah would be and what He would do.

There was many a dry lamp in Judea.

So Jesus was rejected and crucified.

But “He will come again to judge the living and the dead and His Kingdom will have no end.” (Apostles Creed and Nicene/Constan Creed)

Here we are 2000+ years later and He is still not come. So how many of us have decided He won’t be coming? And how many have made up their/our own idea of just what that Second Coming had better consist of?

It’s increasingly difficult today, it seems to me, to keep the pure olive oil burning and topped up when there are so many religious snake oil salesmen out there. We must pray for discernment every day.

But when it’s so difficult to keep the lamps alight why is the Bridegroom late? Why doesn’t He come early instead? I wonder if the problem is us.

Weddings take a lot of preparation. So the Wedding Banquet of the Bridegroom will take a lot more preparation. If we aren’t getting prepared, we aren’t ready for Him to arrive – and so He’ll be late. But in the end He’ll turn up whether we’re ready or not. So as He is giving us the chance to get cleaned up, wear the proper wedding cloths and get some oil in our lamps, perhaps we should start getting ready.

Holy Week; Cleansing the Temple and cleansing the Church

Jesus-Cleansing-the-TempleToday we remember how Jesus arrived at the Temple to see the Court of the Gentiles had been turned into a market place. Those Gentiles who wanted to worship the LORD were therefore given no place to pray. They were not allowed into the Court of Israel on pain of death .

Jesus, who is the Light to bring the gentiles out of darkness, (as Simeon prophesied when he held the 40 day old Baby in his arms), made a whip and thrashed the money changers and the sellers out of the place.  No more den of thieves. But it is assumed that Jesus may have had to do this clearing of the Temple more than once, as the money makers didn’t take “No!” for an answer and didn’t care enough about the gentiles who wanted to worship God to allow them their space to do so.

Pope Francis is facing many calls to clean house. There was consternation and deep sadness over the sacrilegious public taking of Holy Communion by people who are very publicly and very powerfully pro-death politicians.  The call has gone out for Church Law to be obeyed on this matter, as the open disobedience  causes such grave scandal and is hardly helping those who persist in taking sacriligious Holy Communion.

parable-of-the-taresI don’t envy Pope Francis that difficult task. But Jesus told a parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like a field in which the owner planted good seed. But while  he slept his enemy came and planted weeds among the good seeds. Both seeds grew up so when the servants came to the field they found wheat and weeds growing. “Sir, didn’t you plant good seed?” they said to the owner, “Look at the weeds here.”

“Some enemy has done this,” said the farmer.

“We’ll go in a gather them up,” offered the servants but the farmer said, “No, don’t gather the weeds incase you uproot some of the wheat too. Leave them to grow together and at the end when the harvest is ready, I will send reapers to gather the weeds first and burn them, while the wheat will be gathered into my barn.”

I don’t know what Pope Francis will do, although I think he’ll have to do something. There is a line between pulling up the wheat with the weeds and losing some wheat to the strangulation of the scandal caused by murderous weeds.

The only thing for us little ones is to pray and make sure we change our lives so we are the wheat and not another weed.

From Hosanna to Crucify in less than a week

Entry_Into_JerusalemJesus wept.

He wept for Jerusalem the holy city with the Temple at it’s heart, which had turned so far from God. Jesus had just raised his friend Lazarus (a name meaning God has helped)  from the dead and now He enters Jerusalem on a donkey, through the King’s gate in a very public fulfilment of the prophecy of  Zechariah (9:9) “Rejoice greatly O daughter of Zion, Shout in triumph daughter of Jerusalem. Behold your king has come to you. He is just and carries salvation. He is lowly and riding on an ass and the colt the foal of an ass.”

So Jesus comes to Jerusalem with the prophecy fulfilled to the last detail and the poeple recognise this and come out shouting for Him, their king, the son of David. Within a week they will have forgotten their palms and songs of joy and will be shouting at the Roman Procurator to “Crucify Him!”

So it will be for our new Holy Father. He has entered the Vatican to shouts of joy even from those who have shown themselves to have no heart for God. How humble he is, they cry and see how he loves the poor.

But soon there will be shouts of  hatred as they realise that yet again the Pope is, in fact, Catholic. There’s been a few of those shouts already.

Jesus calls us to rejoice, but He also insisted we carry a cross. He had to because the people He loved so much didn’t want to receive the truth.b16f1cca

As Jesus entered Jerusalem that fateful day the people singing “Hosanna!” had decided what kind of Messiah they wanted. They had their own idea of a king. Like the media today they put out the sort of things they expected the King Messiah to do. He must make reforms, get rid of the Romans,  change the Law perhaps.

But Jesus had already said He wasn’t going to change the Law, He was going to fulfil it.  The people soon tired of a man who kept speaking the truth and was doing what God wanted rather than what those who considered themselves elite wanted.

Pope Francis will face the same as the palms laid out for his inaugoration wither, so will the media’s sentimentality.  He will still be the Pope for the poor, but they will hate the fact he insists the poor have a right to be born.

I have to say, however difficult it gets for Pope Francis, and even if he must bear the wounds of Christ in the most difficult way; more difficult than his namesake St. Francis even, he does have a massive advantage. He has the prayers of his brother in Christ Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. There’s also the sense that Blessed Pope John Paul II is looking down on them with his prayers. The brother popes knelt together in the chapel to pray and there on the wall was a copy of Our Lady of  Czestochowa with the Divine Child. As the original Icon has stood the test of many evil men and been victorious, there is a sign for the future- whatever it brings.

There’s an old saying that it’s easy to break one stick, but bind three sticks together and they cann’t be broken.

Lent; Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows. (Mystery 6)

Jesus us taken from the cross and placed in the arms of His Mother.

Anyone who has lost a child will remember the pain, that deep soul wrenching pain that comes with the loss. Those of us who have watched, helpless, while a child of ours suffers terribly and the sense of them leaving us is a pain that is beyond description.

Mary had watched her Son be tortured to death. Now two brave men arrive with a signed permission from Pilate that they can receive the body of Jesus. Joseph of Arimathea was a relative of Jesus and Nicodemus was a friend of Joseph’s. Both these men had positions of status in the Temple and were (particularly as Pharisees) well aware of the Law.

In stepping into Pilate’s house that day before the Sabbath, which that year coincided with the Passover, they made themselves unclean. To make themselves so unclean they could not celebrate the Passover they went and took a bloody corpse down from a cross. They were so terribly ritually unclean now and yet that Precious Blood that they undoubtedly got over them did not make them unclean, but cleansed them.

St. Longinus, the Roman soldier pierces the side of Jesus so that blood and water flows out.

Jesus is laid in the arms of His Mother and she holds him as she had when he was a child.  The Pieta is a scene produced by many artists, the most famous I suppose is the sculpture by Michelangelo.

pieta1But I have to admit that it’s Mel Gibson’s scene in the Passion that I remember most vividly. You cannot look on that scene and not know that you are the one who brought it about – that He and she have suffered and drunk to the dregs the cup of suffering and all because of us.

Jesus is then wrapped in a shroud, traditionally a cloth belonging to St. Joseph of Arimathea, who is (again according to tradition) to be the first bringer of Christianity to Britain.

Jesus had said that even if a man should rise from the dead some people would refuse to believe. He told the Temple authorities they would only receive the sign of Jonah and He was in the belly of the earth for three days. But many people don’t ask “Why did He rise?” they ask “Why did He have to die like that?” Now, that’s a mystery, but I think part of the answer is that He wanted to show us just how utterly horrible sin really is. I think a lot of art has sanitized the Passion so much that we don’t get it any more.  

In seeing the horror and agony of the Passion, especially in seeing it from the point of view of a mother watching her son being whipped, beaten, forced to carry a heavy cross on a back already ripped and bleeding, having the nails hammered through him and then hung – and knowing that He became sin for us (1 Cor 5:21) we must see how dreadful sin is and we can never tire of  asking for forgiveness (and trying not to sin in the first place)

As Pope Francis has said, God never tires of offering forgiveness, it’s we who tire of asking for it. But we mustn’t. We must run the race to the end.

Throwing Stones and Casting out Snakes.

In 2 Peter 3:16 the good saint warns against misusing Scripture to our own destruction. If there are two bits of God’s Word that seem to get the most misuse it’s Christ’s words, “Jusdge not lest you be judged also,” (Matt 7:1) and the Gospel reading we had today about the woman caught in adultery.

I must admit I love the Gospel story of this woman and Jesus.

The Pharisees, who insist publically that they follow the Law and all the extra bits they have added to it and are therefore perfect before the LORD, bring a woman to Jesus, to entrap Him. They are not concerned that she has committed adultery, but rather are out to get Jesus.

As Father noted in his sermon this morning, it takes two people to commit adultery and yet they only brought one to Jesus. So the sin itself, if she was even guilty, was not the issue here.

They tell Jesus that they have caught her in the act and that the Law says she must be stoned. They are sort of correct although the Law (Deut 22:22) says both parties who have committed this horrible sin shall be stoned.

As it happens, however, Judea is under the authority of Rome and the Roman law takes all capital puncishment on itself denying the Jews any legal ability to give capital punishment. If Jesus says “Yes she should be stoned,” as per Jewish Law He would be arrested by the Romans. If He says “No, don’t stone her,” then he is nothing but a puppet of the Romans.

But Jesus is Jesus and silly traps won’t beat Him. We are never told what He writes in the dirt but He looks up and says, “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.”

So now the Pharisees who declare themselves without sin must either start stoning the girl and get arrested by the Romans or admit publically that they are not perfect. Ouch!

Once they have all melted away Jesus speaks to the woman, “Has anyone condemned you?” She says no one has and He answers her, “Neither do I condemn you. Go on your way…” And that is usually all we hear of this story, but in fact Jesus said “And sin no more.” That is the depth of the message. He asks all of us to stop sinning. We aren’t supposed to take a piece of Scripture, strip it down and use it as an excuse to sin to our hearts content because Jesus will say “Neither do I condemn you.” If we misuse the Word of God as a way to get away with sinning then believe me, He certainly will condemn us. In fact He won’t have to, because by our own actions we condemn ourselves.

The story of the woman caught in adultery who is not condemned always reminds me of the story of Susanna the wife of Joachim who is entrapped with a false allegation of adultery by the elders. It is the child Daniel who speaks out for her. (Daniel 13:1+)

Today is also the feast of St. Patrick who brought Christ to Ireland and is famous for having cast out all the poisonous snakes. We can only pray that by his prayers and the grace God gives to Ireland and the Irish that they  will renew His presence and bring us all closer to God. It was from Ireland that so much of the Gospel was spread over the world; I can only hope, as Britain falls that we can be lifted up again and that Ireland will play a part in that. I think there may be prophecies about that.

Pope Francis and the commission to rebuild God’s house.

In all the joy and excitement last night it was difficult to work out what had made our new Holy Father choose the name Francis. We have never had a Pope Francis so there wasn’t an obvious background to the name.  As he is a Jesuit many of us, even though I wondered about St. Francis of Assisi, assumed he was naming himself after one of the Jesuit Francis’s such as Francis Xavior or Borgia.

734476_552943108069381_394843154_nBut it’s been reported (though I can’t find where the Pope himself has confirmed this) that he has taken the name Francis in honour of St. Francis of Assisi.

HIS FIRST WORDS  were a simple greeting and a request for prayers for Pope emeritus Benedict XVI (who is still much loved; perhaps instead of Holy Father Emeritus we should call him Holy Grandfather).

Giotto_-_Legend_of_St_Francis_-_-06-_-_Dream_of_Innocent_III

Pope Francis does look like he fits into the calling God made of St. Francis of Assisi, “Francis,” said God, “Go and rebuild my house, or it is falling down.”

It wasn’t long after Francis set about obeying God’s command that Pope Innocent III had his famous dream in which he saw St. Francis holding up a church that would otherwise have fallen down.

There is a lot for Pope Francis to do. Perhaps this pope with one lung will be able to build on the hard work of Bl. Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI and repair the Church so she can breath with both lungs more freely. It’s not just about communion with the Orthodox churches, but help for our Eastern Rite brothers who are being savagely martyred every day in Islamic controlled countries.

In Francis we have another pope who lives simply. He had a small flat in Argentina and used the bus to get around. He has worked very hard for and with the poor under his care and I am sure he will continue to do this as Holy Father. He saw through so-called “liberation theology” and stuck with Christ and I bet he faced a lot of pressure to embrace LT even after it was exposed as purely political and often very violent.

I have a sense that this Holy Father who has embraced poverty will embrace the suffering of the Passion as St. Francis did.

It seems to me that God has quite an army; the Benedictines at the forefront with the Franciscans and Dominicans coming next and the Poor Clares, Carmelites and Jesuits. The Enclosed orders being the massive powerhouse of prayer.

Pope Francis will be installed on March 19th the feast of St. Joseph patron saint of fathers and workers.

Oramus.

Habamus Papam; Pope Francis I

598798_10200747466632086_1756009254_nThe 265th successor of St. Peter is Pope Francis I a Jesuit Cardinal of Buenos Aries in Argentina.

The white smoke was seen at 6pm (wed 13th March) and then the bells and then what seemed like quite a long wait.

I asked everyone what name they wanted for the next holy father and Heleyna immediately piped up with “George.”

We all laughed.

Then half an hour later it was announced that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina had been elected. He is a Jesuit so I am reckoning that St. Ignatius of Loyola and Sts Francis Xavior SJ and Francis Borgia SJ were doing a triple Snoopy dance in heaven.

254525_10102862974328343_443098738_n

He chose the name Francis making him Pope Francis . I wonder which St. Francis he was thinking of? Even though he’s a Jesuit I did think of St. Francis of Assisi who bore the stigmata.

It has been said on EWTN that today is the anniversary of the canonisation of SS Ignatius of Loyola and Francis Xavior.

St Francis Xavior was a great missionary and died in China aged 46.

Lent; Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows (mystery 5)

At the foot of the cross

Having walked with Jesus her beloved Son, to the place of crucifixion, Mary stays with Him even as he is stripped nailed and hoisted up onto the cross. If ever you are tempted to see this as “ordinary” try and imagine watching your own child, or someone you love very much being tortured right in front of you while you stand by powerless to intervene.

We love our super heroes who come swooping in, often at the last minute, and save the innocent or good guy from the bad guys But here the mystery of iniquity is played out before us and it is allowed to happen. Jesus doesn’t show His power here.

Mary is not left to suffer alone. Just as Jesus had Simon of Cyrene, so Mary has those with her who are there out of love. Her sisters (that is close kin) Mary the wife of Cleopas and Mary Salome the mother of James and John (widow of Zebedee) are there as is Mary Magdalene and Salome’s son John stands with them.

But even with these kind persons the pain, the twisting of the sword in her soul, must have been something that only God’s grace could have made bearable.

Watching another suffer, has got to be one the most difficult things any of us are called to do.

While she is there Jesus, taking note of her needs but also, as He suffers for us, taking note of our needs, gives her to John and through him, us to her. “Mother, behold your son; son behold your mother.” He doesn’t call John by name because in the word son is the sonship of all of us as Mary is made our mother and we can ask her to pray for us as we are her children.

It doesn’t matter whether you have a mother on earth or not, or whether she is a good mother or a bad one because you will always have a mother in heaven who wants the very best for you. Jesus said He wouldn’t leave us orphans; in His promise we have a Father and a mother.

MaryAtFootOfCross

As I have a soft spot for Mary Salome, I can’t help wondering what she thought at that moment. We are never told, but I don’t think she would have felt that John was being taken away from her and given to Our Blessed Mother. I think she would have realised that this moment was beyond a simple bit of Jewish law ensuring a widow without a son wasn’t left destitute – it was bringing all four Mary’s closer together in their relationship with the B. Mother and St. John.

A deeper mystery still is here in this moment of the crucifixion. Christ suffers and pours Himself out; every last drop of His Precious Blood given for us. But He doesn’t suffer alone. Our Blessed Mother, John, Mary of Cleopas, Mary Magdalene and Mary Salome suffer too. They suffer with Him and their suffering is united with His.

When we contemplate the sword of sorrow that pierced our Mother’s soul, we can follow her example in uniting our sufferings with Him, so that none of our suffering, of the crosses we accept to follow him, need be wasted. (cf Col 1:24)

The non-prodigal son.

I often point out that the reason I’m a practising Catholic is because I haven’t got it right. I have to keep practicing until I can get it right.

In the past the parable of the prodigal was powerful in that I had been the daft child who had squandered the gifts and graces God gave me. But then I came home and He welcomed me.

But what about the first born son? As Jesus tells His story the First born is the pharisees who follow all the laws God has given and have even made up a load He never gave just to seem holier. But the firstborn son is also Israel, for Israel is God’s first born son (Ex 4:22) and those of us who are of the gentile nations are the younger sons.

But there is also the warning that once we are Home we could be tempted to resent the newly returned sons. I’ve seen some cross words and even quite spiteful words spoken and written about the Ordinariate for example. Why should the Holy Father (emeritus) kill the fatted calf for these Anglicans who had stood by while their church nose-dived and now want special favours? It’s a bit mean to think that way.  If we really love God and His Home we should be happy when anyone else comes homes and be willing to join the celebration.

Doing what God wants only out of cold duty is not the way to heaven- and the first born son refused to enter the house where the celebration was taking place.

There is no place within God’s Home for joyless christianity.

For every prodigal that returns we are called to rejoice. And for many of us, that prodigal was us not so long ago.

 

Home education and the conclave; freebies.

At last we know – the CONCLAVE STARTS on TUESDAY.

So we are going to break out the popecorn ..sorry that was terrible.

Getting ready for the conclave. There’s a nice LAPBOOK PAPAL UNIT STUDY from Shower of Roses.

I mentioned before this reading comprehension and craft for the conclave.

This site has flags of the world to colour; maybe pick your favourite Cardinal’s place and the Vatican flag is there too. Scroll down all in alphabetical order.

Make your own conclave of cardinals and learn a bit of Latin I think this looks great

Lent; Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows (mystery 4)

This needs no explanation.

We’ve been asked to pray for the conclave today at 5pm Rome time. That’s 4pm UK time (at the end of the hour of mercy) and 11 am EST for the USA.

 

Lent; The Chaplet of Seven Sorrows (mystery 3)

The Losing of the Christ Child in the Temple.

I think this mystery is incredibly profound. When we read of it in St. Luke’s Gospel I think we tend to concentrate on how Mary and Joseph found Jesus in the Temple; but in this meditation we are to consider how the sword pierced Mary (and I bet Joseph’s) soul as they discovered their loss.

The sense of loss, of fear without Him must have been horrendous. They had left the Holy City and it’s Temple behind and He wasn’t with them.

In order to find Him, they had to turn around and go back. They had to go where He was most likely to be, even if they didn’t understand why He was there and even though it would have been more convenient if He could meet them somewhere else. But when you really want Jesus back in your life, you will search for Him and be happy to go where He leads you and where you know you can find Him where they liked.

In the desert when Israel wouldn’t go up the mountain to find God, they ended up making a god at the bottom of the mountain.

Jesus commanded us (we need to stop taking what Jesus said plainly as merely suggestions) that we should FIRST seek the Kingdom of God.  This has been self-edited by too many of us who remember “ask and you shall receive” as though God is a magic slot machine – prayer in, whatever we ask for out.  This is a sure way of finding ourselves walking away from the Kingdom and losing sight of Him altogether.

Then we have to turn around – the word repent means to turn around – and seek the Kingdom again. Jerusalem has been a sign or type of the Kingdom of God from the Old Testament right the way through to John’s Revelation (the New Jerusalem descending from Heaven like a Bride).

God said, “I have not said to Jacob seek me in vain,” so if we seek Him we will find Him as Christ promised, “Seek and you shall find” but we have to seek Him where He is. There is nothing in Luke about Mary and Joseph searching throughout Jerusalem or the surrounding environs. They headed back to the Temple and there He was. If we try to get to know Jesus, properly, we will know where to find Him.

Mary and Joseph had a major advantage over the rest of us. They had one Jesus in their lives and they knew Him very well. These days we have to search among so many different Jesuses before we can truly find Him. (One red flag for me is when I see something with “the real Jesus” written over it. You can almost guarantee that it’s another golden calf Jesus). Beg God for discernment. Pray and be ready to accept Him, on His terms.

Manure around the Fig Tree.

It occured to me when listening to Jesus’ parable today at Mass (Luke 13; 1 – 9) that those people who see life as a set of events descibed as (sorry for the word) “Shit happens” may be experiencing the manure being dug around the fruitless figtree.

cursing-fig-tree-colorIt occurred to me that God had caused a lot of…manure… in my life and that I had   taken some time to realise that perhaps this wasn’t just “punishment” directly for sin, but because I needed to be, well, manured, to make me produce some good fruit.

We are supposed to make the most of the manure in our lives to produce some good fruit for God.

There’s another story of Jesus cursing a fig tree (shown in the Icon above). A tree that doesn’t produce fruit is eventually cursed so that it can’t. Sin makes us stupid. The less good we produce, the more of the curse we take on.

The fig tree in the parable is the faithless generation that saw Jesus and didn’t perceive him.  Jesus spent three years trying to teach them and get some good fruit from them, but they wouldn’t listen. In the following year He was crucified, died and Rose again, the Church was born – in Jerusalem and in that year Peter and John were arrested and imprisoned and St. Stephen was the first of many martyrs.

That faithless generation ended up like the Galileans and the men under the tower of Siloam as Jerusalem was destroyed and burned around them in 70 AD. This was the mini-Parousia a sign and prophecy of the Judgement of God. By this point the CHristians had left Jerusalem and the Church had her centre just outside Rome under the care of St. Linus.

So, next time you are thinking life is…manure. Just think, it could just be God trying to get some good fruit out of you. :P