Sunday, 26 April 2009

Familiaris Consortio revisited 4

What is God's plan? (paragraphs 11 and 12.)
God created humanity to love - that is our fundamental vocation. The human body expresses this call. Christian Revelation recognises two ways in which man can fully express this vocation: marriage and celibacy.
Our sexuality then concerns the very core of our person - who we are called to be, and is not something which is a purely biological function.
Physical self-giving is a lie if it is not a sign of total self-giving. Married love includes the fertility of the spouses. Marriage is the only place in which the total self-gift of the person can take place. This community of life and love comes about through the free consent of a man and a woman. Marriage does not come from society or from culture, rather, society and culture affirm the consent which arises from the interior of a man and a woman, so that they can live God's plan in fidelity to each other.
God's own communion of love with humanity is expressed in Revelation with the image of human marriage. Married love then, is an expression of the Covenant of love between God and His people. On the other hand, sin is an image of the infidelity of people to God. God however is always faithful - for this reason His love is the model for married love.

Friday, 24 April 2009

How hot is it going to get

Fr Tim's great blog recently gave coverage to the BBC TV programme "The Big Questions" and praised the courage and ability of the young Catholic father James Preece, who took part in the programme and defended the Pope against the onslaught he was receiving from others on the show.This makes me wonder just how hot things are going to get, and at which point Catholics need to turn and run for the hills (like we did all those years ago when St Stephen was stoned). Certainly, we need people who have the courage and, whatsmore, the charism, to appear in public before an agnostic and even hostile audience and be able to gently express the truth. However, when we acknowledge that such shows as this are planned and produced by powerful and clever atheists within the media, who want to show how the ordinary person in the street should think about, react to and speak to Christians; to show how far they can go with us, as it were, in terms of expressing derision and hatred, then we need to be discerning about which forums to engage with. The culture of death hates the Gospel, something which was so well expressed in the film "Sophie Scholl", when the Nazi judge screams at the young defendents who are on trial for their lives.
Thank you James for witnessing to the truth in such a difficult environment.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

One for the road ...

Many of you will already know who The Good Counsel Network are, they are one of the few 100% Catholic, pro-life groups in Britain. They work with women who have already decided to have an abortion and offer counselling, advice and support ( which includes housing, childcare, regular ongoing financial support, baby goods such as clothes, food, baby milk, prams, toys etc, and in getting their life back on track) in order to help to save the life of their unborn baby. Approximately 70% of the women and girls that The Good Counsel Network see choose life for their babies.

This June Conor Carroll who is 21 and works with The Good Counsel Network is going on the Chartres Pilgrimage, which is a 75 mile walk in just over two days, and is trying to gain as much sponsorship as possible while he is going. Conor will also pray for anyone who sponsors him every day of the Pilgrimage. Please click on the following link and sponsor him a generously as you can.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Familiaris Consortio revisited 3

Christ at work and man refusing that love, paragraphs 6 to 10.
On the one hand, there is today a more lively awareness of the person and the value of relationships, on the other hand there is a disturbing degredation of some fundamental human values. At the root of this is a false notion of freedom - not freedom for self-giving, but freedom for self-affirmation. We also have the hugely contrasting circumstances between rich and poor countries. The world today is an interplay of light and darkness, which shows itself not to be in a state of progress but rather in a state in which human freedom is in question. St Augustine described this as a conflict of loves: the love of God to the point of disregarding self, and the love of self to the point of disregarding God.

Our secular culture today is very good at obscuring fundamental human values and we have not been good at fostering in ourselves the necessary critical apparatus which we need in order to be active in building up a genuine culture.
In fact, divorce, the acceptance of purely civil marriage - which contradicts the vocation of baptised people and the rejection of moral norms have further prejudiced marriage and the family.
The whole Church now has the responsibility to evangelise secular culture - to make it more human, more open to God.
Science is essentially good, but is often used, as a consequence of political choice, against its original purpose - which is to promote the good of the human person.
Moral values are the first kind of values to direct the good of the human person. In order to see this one needs first to appreciate the ultimate meaning of human life. But once we know what the basic moral values regarding human life are, then we know how to go about advancing human life.
Since it is the good of the family which is at stake today - real wisdom is urgently needed. Wisdom will not be forthcoming from humanity unless our consciences are formed. Indeed, such is our need today, that we must come close to God - the source of life and wisdom.
The world gives us the structures that come from sin; we are called to conversion - conversion of mind and heart. This is the only route to renewal.
Indeed, we need an on-going conversion - only in this way can we build our lives and our culture upon God's gifts to us. It is a question of opening up our lives and our civilisation before God and being lead by Him towards embracing the full truth about human life.
The relationship between the Church and culture: humanity is the source of culture, the Church receives this and on the basis of culture which can support the Mystery of Christ, she expresses her Faith. So, human culture must be compatible with the Gospel and the Communion of the Church. In the context of marriage and the family, any culture which upholds these principles can be evangelised.
The evangelisation of culture leads to the restoration of the Covenant with God in Christ. The goal of our journey was pointed out by Christ himself, when he referred in the Gospel to the original plan of God for marriage and the family.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom

To celebrate the Jubilee year of universities in 2000, Pope John Paul II commissioned a mosaic depicting Mary as Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom. This icon travels to universities around the world, uniting students and staff in our shared faith and pursuit of knowledge. At present the icon is in Sydney and today, Campion College welcomed this gift of the late Holy Father to Catholic Universities and Colleges worldwide.

After the welcoming Ceremony we set the Icon up on the sanctuary of the College Chapel and celebrated Mass. The Icon has was placed in some of our lecture theatres during the day and then, back in the chapel, we prayed the Rosary and Litany in candlelight.

The Icon will stay at the College until Thursday before moving on to be welcomed elsewhere in Sydney. Its presence here on Campus has been received as a grace for us as a Catholic College; not only is it a tangible sign of the immense love which John Paul II had for young people, but, as an icon, it is a portal through which we can encounter Christ and His Mother, Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom. Our College chapel has become a place of renewed encounter with grace. May she confirm the charism of learning and openness to divine Wisdom which Campion College seeks to embrace.

Do you know ...

I wonder if anyone could help me. I remember hearing some years ago, that the French existentialist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre had become a Catholic some months before he died. However, I cannot find a word about this on the Internet - perhaps this is one event which the atheist powers want to cover up. If anyone has information about this I'd be glad to hear from you.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Familiaris Consortio revisited 2

Paragraphs 4 and 5.

Since the family is the hinge of human civilisation - everything about human society depends ultimately upon the family - the Church must come to appreciate the culture which the family inhabits today. This is necessary if the Church is to engage in the evangelisation of the family. More importantly, the Church must listen to the needs, the hopes and fears of families themselves. And again, the Church must come to recognise those prejudicial forces which affect families today. The Church, with her evangelical discernment is able to do this and is able to offer families her own service to the truth. Indeed, the Church understands the family so well that she is able to offer a complete and true vision of marriage and the family.

The discernment which the Church makes is based upon the presence in her of the Holy Spirit, through the different gifts and charisms which the Spirit bestows, especially to the lay faithful who have "the specific role of interpreting the history of the world in the light if Christ".

This however, doesn't mean that the Church's disecernment is based on consensus or power, but upon conscience. It is here that the Church discerns what it is about human life that is an expression of the truth of Christ. Christian spouses are here at the forefront of an authentic evangelical discernment - testing themselves against the rule of faith - because of their specific charism, the sacrament of marriage.

Demographic Winter

Familiaris Consortio revisited 1

I shall begin here a paraphrasing of John Paul II's great Letter about the Family - the greatest statement about the family which has ever been made. Herewith, paragraphs 1 - 3:

The family, more than any other part of the human community, has suffered the impact of the changes which are taking place in the world. The Church, who has a special care for all things human, wishes to offer her help to the family. It is especially important that young people today be able see the greatness of the family.
As a sign of this the 1980 Synod of Bishops chose to focus on the family, since the family is the first community which can announce the Gospel to an infant and then lead him or her to full human and Christian maturity. Indeed, it is the family which can form individuals who are socially responsible.

The Synod Fathers asked me, John Paul II, to be the spokesman before humanity of the Church's concern for the family and to indicate ways in which the family must be cherished today. In so doing, I am fulfilling in a special way the apostolic ministry entrusted to me.

It is the Gospel which shows forth the full truth about marriage and the family, and so the Church wishes to proclaim the Gospel, so that men and women today can fully embrace those truths. Marriage and the family are given the fullness of meaning by Christ.

Even though many forces today are set against the family, the Church sees the greatness of the family and its unique and powerful role in creating, forming and re-setting correctly, the fabric of human civilisation.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Grasping at straws.

Gordon Brown declares that Britain must become digital: "We may not compete with them (Asian countries) on scale or low pay, but we can compete on high value-added goods, and services," he told the Digital Britain summit last Friday.
I don't know what the Asian countries think of this arch-archtect of the culture if death refering to them in this manner. My question is: when is this generation of blind 'leaders' going to be overtaken by a generation who are filled with light?

Transcendent beings or not?

As the Church carries the light of Christ into the dark age which the world has created in this period of history, in which the world makes the great secular claim - that humanity is limited to its own subjective being, that there is no God, let us remind ourselves about reality, objective reality. The secular claim is based upon the negation or suppression of an objective fact about humanity - its transcedence - its openness to God as an objective dimension of human nature.

The CCC, Paragraph 33, speaks about man's nature in an objective way, naming his "openness to truth and beauty, his sense of moral goodness, his freedom and the voice of his conscience ... his longings for the infinite and for happiness [realities] which are irreducible to the merely material ... ". Then, in paragraph 357, man is spoken of as "not just something, but someone. He is capable of self-knowledge, of self-possession and of freely giving himself and entering into communion with other persons." None of this, which the CCC speaks of, can be refuted or reduced to the level of psychology or sociology, still less to the level of feelings. No, the fact is that man has an openness to the transcendent and that this is a an objective dimension to his being.

When you look at the history of mankind in different cultures, this fact is expressed in many ways. However, most objectively of all - how can one explain the presence in the world of the Gospels, indeed, all Sacred Scripture, the Church, the Eucharist and the witness of countless human lives to these realities - which haven't blown in from Mars - as merely a subjective urge or formulation from within human beings.

No, human beings are transcendent, they have an objective openness to God, and if the secular movement is leading people to say "No" to God - then that is the objective spirituality of many people today. The overriding question is not whether God exists, but rather, have we allowed ourselves to fall under Satan's influence and to believe his lies.

(The photo above was taken in Sydney CBD and shows Cardinal Pell following the Blessed Sacrament in the Corpus Christi Procession.)

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Look for the love

As we approach these days in which human nature has been plunged into the life of the Holy Trinity, look here for love.

(Holy week in Valladolid.)

On Palm Sunday Benedict XVI affirmed that Christ's kingdom is "universal" and "knows no more borders ... because it is not a political kingdom, but is based solely on the free adhesion of love - a love that, for its part, answers to the love of Jesus Christ that has given itself for all.
Universality includes the mystery of the cross - the overcoming of ourselves, obedience toward the universal word of Jesus Christ in the universal Church.
Universality is always an overcoming of ourselves, a renunciation of something that is ours. Universality and the cross go together. Only in this way can peace be created.
He who wants to have his life for himself, live only for himself, squeeze out everything for himself and exploit all the possibilities - he is the one who loses his life.
It becomes boring and empty. Only in abandoning ourselves, only in the disinterested gift of the 'I' in favor of the 'Thou,' only in the 'Yes' to the greater life, precisely the life of God, our life too becomes full and more spacious.
Love, in fact, means leaving yourself behind, giving yourself, not wanting to hold on to yourself, but becoming free from yourself: not getting preoccupied with yourself - what will become of me - but looking ahead, toward the other - toward God and the people whom he sends to me.
It is this principle of love that defines man's journey, it is once again identical with the mystery of the cross, with the mystery of death and resurrection that we encounter in Christ.
Our "Yes" to the Lord must be repeated every day, especially when we just want to hang on to that 'I.' There is no successful life without sacrifice.
Though it is difficult, we can pray like Jesus, who felt driven to ask that he be spared the terror of the passion.
Before God we must not take refuge in pious phrases, in a world of make-believe. Praying also means struggling with God.
In the end, God's glory, his lordship, his will is always more important and more true than my thoughts and my will.
This is what is essential in our prayer and in our life: understanding this right order of reality, accepting it interiorly; trusting in God and believing that he is doing the right thing; understanding that his will is the truth and is love; understanding that my life will be a good life if I can learn how to conform to this order.
The life, death and resurrection of Jesus are the guarantee that we can truly entrust ourselves to God. It is in this way that his kingdom is realised."

So, don't listen to Tony Blair's totalitarian ideas about grace, or the Tablet's neo-Pelagian notions about Christianity, don't attend to the BBC's mockery of the Gospel; follow the Liturgy of Holy Week - there we will find the love.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Spiritual support

I ask for your spiritual support for the Sydney Congress of the New Evangelisation and its preparation.
Please pray for the Congress, 19th - 26th July 2009, that it will help the Church in Sydney come close to the Heart of Christ and be His witness in the city and beyond. Please support Bishop Porteous' organising Team by praying the Congress into existence, by praying for its protection from any evil, and by praying that all those who God wants to bring together for the Congress will be open to His call.

Full details about the Congress, including Registration, can be found on

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Street witness

For our last Stations of the Cross before we break for the Easter holiday, we took our cross out to the local town centre and were joined by parishioners of St Anthony's Parish in Toongabbie. This kind of Stations of the Cross, made as a public witness to Christ, is a powerful expression of the Faith, claiming the streets for Christ and making a very easy-to-read sign for many to see. We stopped every few hundred metres to recall each of the fourteen stations, carrying the heavy cross as we went. Each word, each gesture, an emphatic expression of faith which was experienced, reverenced and glimpsed by many who were out and about that morning.

Friday, 3 April 2009

A new leader for the English Church

May the Holy Spirit be with him, and may he be a witness to the Gospel and point the way forward.

Responding to the crisis

"TV adverts for condoms outside the UK are often lighthearted", declares a BBC webpage. How are we to view the screening of adverts for abortion and a round the clock condom message on Bristish TV. The first thing I would say is get rid of your TV (if you haven't done that already).
The response of humanity in the modern era to the matter of child-bearing and rearing has been unprecendented. Formerly, child-bearing and rearing was given a very high value. The incidence of women dying during labour and of the death of babies and young children was always quite high. And, partly because of this, married people and society wanted a high birth rate. Only in the modern era has this statistic diminished to such an extent that spouses and societies have needed a new way of approaching child-bearing and rearing.
It was in response to the circumstances of the modern era that the Church presented, through the voice of Paul VI, a concrete vision of responsible parenthood - how spouses should approach their mission of transmitting human life now that the death during childbirth is scarcely heard of.
We know what the response of most has been to the beauty of Paul VI's Humanae Vitae - it is a vision and a teaching which has been overwhelmed by a holocaust. It is hard to think that anyone today could refer to child-bearing and rearing in anything but a tramelled way, since just about everyone living in the western world is a survivor of a holocaust. And not just a survivor, for we are living in the midst of an intensification of the holocaust. The plans of the President of the USA for this are scarcely credible. Our perspective, yours, mine, is coloured not so much by the vision of responsible parenthood but by the decisions of many which say - we only want life for ourselves, and if for children, then only for a very few.
Why is the world today having difficulty in accepting God's plan? Becuase the darkness of the holocaust which we are in is obscuring God's generosity. Abortion and the contraception mentality is certainly a political issue, it is a social issue and a personal one, but first of all it is a spiritual one. We are the subjects of God's love and becuase of that we can make other people the subject of our love. Humanity's greatest need today is to emerge from the holocaust and stand before God. Mother Teresa was right when she so many times taught that abortion is the cause of the world's ills. Any one who can see this, and especially spouses who are embracing the vision of responsible parenthood which was meant for the world today, are great lights. We should all reserve a particular space in our spiritual lives for bringing supporting graces to all those who are beacons of truth and light, and for the overcoming of this holocaust and the turning towards God by many. This is a central task for all of us who have any glimpse of light at all.