Tag Archives: liturgical season

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

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; 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.

Baptism of the Lord

Today we celebrate the feast day when Jesus was baptised in the Jordan by His cousin who was to lay down his life for the sanctity of marriage. Christ the Bridegroom came to be baptised to take up His priesthood from John the priest of Levi, and to begin His public ministry. In stepping into the water, Jesus did not need to be cleansed of sin, on the contrary, His Presence in the water cleansed it as He cleanses us of sin.

Christians are called by Christ to accept marriage the way God designed it. Part of the reason marriage is so holy and sacramental is because Christ is the Bridegroom to His Church. Not to mention that God created marriage when He made Adam and Eve as flesh of his flesh.

One of the questions or issues that comes up regularly when you listen to catholic call-in shows is the matter of invincible ignorance. Jesus said of those to whome He had given His message “if they hadn’t heard Me they would be innocent, but having heard Me, their guilt remains.”

If someone genuinely could not have know the Gospel and all it’s Truth, then they can be judged on natural law alone,(natural law is not the law of nature) but anyone who has heard or read the Gospel or could have and has deliberately avoided it, will have some very very serious explaining ahead of them.

It is deeply worrying when people who call themselves Christian-followers of Christ, who have access to Scripture and all that Christ teaches, and yet choose to reject that in favour of political or zeitgeist views.  It is not just that their betrayal will undoubtedly bring more persecution down on true Christians, it is that they are risking their souls.  Eternity is a very long time.

John as the friend of the Bridegroom (John 3:29) spoke out for marriage and was imprisoned by Herod, whose marriage was invalid and immoral, and was martyred. He never once went back on his word, or said, oh well we should allow it after all.

Christ the Bridegroom re-established marriage from the mess some of the Jewish authorities had allowed it to get into with Rabbi Hillel arguing for divorce for any reason. Jesus speaks of how God designed marriage from the days of Adam and Eve, and He elevated it to a Sacrament.

feast of the Holy Innocents; children beg santa for a family.

Pia de Solenni writes how the Telegraph here in the UK have reported on the most popular things children ask Santa to bring them. Up there at the top children ask for a sibling. In their loneliness and innocence they ask Father Christmas to bring the child they so long for to add to their family and be the love and company they long for.

I read this only a few minutes after hearing a mother phone Dr. Ray Gaurendi looking for a way to tell her family, especially certain members, that she was expecting her fifth child. Instead of being overjoyed at another baby they would be snarly about it, as they had already been with previous children. Even though she said they were Catholic, who undoubtedly heard how Joseph, and Mary pregnant with Jesus were turned away from the Inn, they were happy to slam the door on this family because another child was on the way.

At number 10 children were asking for a father and at 23 on the list they asked for a mother. Among the horses, cars and stuff of Christmas children were asking first for a family.

Meanwhile two people phoned up who had many siblings, one of whom, lady who was one of 12, was now dying. She had her family around her for support and in turn wanted to offer something back in letters or words of comfort.

Dr Ray mentioned that he had come across many elderly people, alone and lonely because they had chosen not to have few or no children. It’s especially sad when you consider those people who can’t have children or manage only one or two pregancies and would give anything to have more.

It’s funny that some people try and undermine the historicity of the slaughter of the innocents when Herod sent soldiers to kill the children of Bethlehem in the hope that the slaughter would include the new King of the Jews. They say they can’t find other references outside the Gospel of Matthew and so Matthew must be wrong, for someone else would be bound to notice this.

We live in a world where technology is so great I can send a message to friends in America and Australia and it gets there almost instantaneously. We have more information on the internet than we could possibly deal with. News programmes saturate the airwaves with banality and politics every minute of every day in every time zone. An yet many people seem still unaware of the Gospel. They don’t know about Jesus, or even about the children in their own neighbourhood.

We have the Gospels to tell us about Jesus and there is nothing in history or tradition that would give us reason to think Matthew lied in his report on the killing of the toddlers and babies in Bethlehem.  It is most likely that the story came from the lips of Jesus or His mother themselves.

It was recently reported that babies are routinely killed in our NHS hospitals, that a baby’s life was only saved because she was weighed with an accidental pair of scissors that tipped the scales in her favour. So many stories are out there- and how many of us know those stories or care about them? I am quite sure there are many more that I have never seen or heard of.

BAPTISM OF DESIRE

The feast of the Holy Innocents is the day mothers who have miscarried babies, had still births and those who had abortions can remember their little ones and ask for God’s love and mercy for them.

Some parents are blessed to be able to baptise their baby before they die, but most of us have lost our children before they could be baptised. This often leads parents to worry about their eternity, especially in light of St. Augustine’s thought that the innocent unbaptised entered a place of limbo, an eternal happiness but not the full blessedness the saved can hope for.

The Church teaches three baptisms. The ordinary form is the baptism of water and oil that we see so often at Church. Water is pours over the baby, child or adult and the words “I baptise you in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” are spoken in obedience to Jesus command in Matthew 28.

The next form is called Baptism of Blood. This is the baptism that catechumens and other’s not yet in the Church receive should they die for love of Christ as marytrs.

Finally there is the baptism of desire. That is someone who would have been baptised if they could have, but died before the opportunity was offered would be saved through their desire to do God’s will and receive baptism.

I don’t know, but I wonder if many of us who have lost babies pre-term or before we could get them baptised, can hope that our desire as parents counts as a baptism of desire for if they had lived we would have taken them to be baptised.

I don’t know – but we can trust in God’s mercy and I have no doubt at all that we will all get to meet up with our children in the end. So there is more joy than sorrow in the end.

Every single child is a blessing no matter how long or short a time we have them.

O Emmanuel (O God with us) Dec 23rd.

Isaiah went to bad king Ahaz and said “Ask the Lord for a sign.”

In a fit of prentended humility Ahaz said “oooh I couldn’t.”

So Isaiah said, “Well you’re getting a sign anyway. Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and he will be called emmanual, God with us.” (Is 7:14)

Hezekiah was born and became king of Judah. At that time it seems God was calling a few men to be prophets. Isaiah and Micah in Judah and Amos and Hosea in Israel. Hosea of course was a prophet of Israel in Babylonian captivity.

Just before these events Jonah had been spit up on the shores of Syria where he had to go and prophesy to the people of Nineveh, a potential enemy of Israel, They repented and the Lord was with them.

Events were moving hard and fast in that little piece of history.  In the Pseudepigraphia we hear the story of how Hezekiah calls his infant son Manessah to his side as he dies, but even as he is to give the child a blessing the son of Isaiah Josab prophesied that Manessah would worship a demon instead of God and undo all the good that Hezekiah had worked. The faith of the people would be split apart. In horror and grief Hezekiah considers having his little son killed, but is warned against this by Isaiah even though he has forseen his own terrible martyrdom at the hands of Mannessah. Isaiah was sawn in half.

There is an addition showing the Christians saw in this the symbolism of the terrible martyrdom the Church suffered under her own Manessah in Nero (both types of antiChrist).

In the end poor Manessah, having sacrificed his own sons to Molech the child consuming burning idol, repents. Psalm 151 is one of those not quite canonical but much loved prayers of repentence. For Manessah to have come home after having run so far gives hope for us all.

The martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah

The Holy Father, commenting on today’s Mass readings asks us to behave like Mary and Elizabeth:

Let us imitate Mary in the Christmas season, visiting those who are experiencing hardship, especially the sick, the imprisoned, the elderly and children. Let us laso imitate Elizabeth, who welcomes guests like God Himself: without desiring the Lord we will never know Him, without waiting for Him we will never meet Him, without seeking will never find Him

We’ve just come home from a lovely visit with friends who are relaxed and caring and  gave us a beautiful organic lamb dinner. They had received the lamb from the farmer as a gift and took that gift and shared it with us.

I am not that well today and very twitchy and jerky. But with them it didn’t matter. I could twitch, jerk and tip over and not have to feel embarressed. I think many of us are more blessed with friends than we sometimes realise or appreciate.  If you have friends as good as this don’t forget to thank God for them :)

O Rex Gentium (O King of Nations) Dec 22nd

When Jesus stood before Pilate, He was asked, “Are you a king?” and from the conversation that followed Pilate the gentile and his gentile wife St. Claudia Procla saw that He was indeed a king.

The apostles had some understanding that Jesus, a son of David was a king by right but they were stuck in the idea that He would take a political stand against Rome and somehow bring all Israel back together. When Jesus went out to do His mission there was only Judea, the land of Judah and Benjamin with the Levite priesthood. Sometimes other tribes were noted such as Anna in the Temple who was from the tribe of Ashur. But in saving all Israel Jesus wasn’t going to pick out Israelites alone. He was calling all the nations, the gentiles too now, into the new Israel of the new Covenant. Israel was the first born son, the oldest brother of us all, but the gentiles were God’s children too.