Tag 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.

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.

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)