Thursday, 26 February 2015

Jihadi Brides

Why is the media making such a fuss over three people who of their own free-will left the UK to go to another country? One has to feel sorry for their families but why is it being portrayed as our fault? Surely our sympathies should be with all those young children who were groomed and raped in towns such as Rotherham? This article sums it up very well:

Another interesting article in a similar vein:

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Why pray?

Once a man was asked "what do you gain by regularly praying to God?" The man replied, "Nothing.... but let me tell you what I lost: Anger, ego, greed. depression, insecurity and fear of death. Sometimes the answer to our prayers is not gaining but losing, which ultimately is the gain."

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Two ways of thinking.

"There are two ways of thinking and of having faith: we can fear to lose the saved and we can want to save the lost. Even today it can happen that we stand at the crossroads of these two ways of thinking. The thinking of the doctors of the law, which would remove danger by casting out the diseased person, and the thinking of God, who in his mercy embraces and accepts by reinstating him and turning evil into good, condemnation into salvation and exclusion into proclamation." -- Pope Francis, 15 February 2015.

The Little way of Fasting – by Fr. Aidan Kieran

The season of Lent is almost upon us, it begins tomorrow on Ash Wednesday. During Lent, we are asked to take on three traditional Christian disciplines: Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. Today I want to share with you a new insight into fasting which I gained recently.
I’ve generally always dreaded the idea of fasting during Lent. It always seemed to me like a test of endurance, and I never thought I had all that much endurance. Typically I would decide to, say, give up biscuits for the whole of Lent. It would last about ten days, I would have a biscuit and Lent would be over for me. And no matter what people would say about ‘beginning again’ it would never feel the same once failure had set in.
Now, I have learned a new approach to fasting, and it has become a much more appealing prospect.
St Therese of Lisieux teaches us that the “Little things done out of love are those that charm the Heart of Christ… On the contrary, the most brilliant deeds, when done without love, are but nothingness.” These words made me realise that the way I had been approaching the Lenten fast in the past was wrong. Lent is not a test of endurance. It is not even a test of discipline (even though we gain discipline as a by-product). Lent is a little test of LOVE. It is quality the Lord is interested in – not quantity.
I can describe this new approach to fasting – the little way of fasting – with an example. Here is a fast I recently undertook:
At breakfast time I didn’t have my normal cup of tea. I had a cup of hot water instead. It’s not much of a sacrifice is it? But this is the important part: fasting must always be accompanied by prayer. You may remember from the Gospels that on one occasion Jesus told the disciples that a particular evil spirit could only be driven out by prayer AND fasting. The two must be always occur together.
So while I was having my cup of water, I prayed.
I spoke to the Lord Jesus and told him that I was denying myself this 1 cup of tea as an act of love for him. I was doing this so that I might grow in my love for Him. I prayed for others. I asked Him to grant my intentions, but above all I asked him to help me grow in faith and love of Him.
It didn’t matter that it was only a small sacrifice. That’s not what matters to the Lord. What matters is that the sacrifice is accompanied by prayer and offered with a sincere and open loving heart. Fasting must always be accompanied by prayer, and must be done as an act of love for the Lord.
Perhaps you would prefer to go through Our Lady. While fasting, we can also pray through the intercession of Mary, our blessed Mother. I can tell her I am offering my fast as an act of love for her, and ask her to bring me closer to her son Jesus. We give Mary the title ‘mediatrix of all graces’ so we can of course pray through her intercession.
With this approach, fasting has become a wonderfully joyful act. Rather than a miserable endurance test, it becomes a joyful act of offering a sacrifice for the good of others, the good of the Church and above all the good of my own soul. I can have a smile on my face, knowing that the small sacrifice I have made has had a powerful effect in the spiritual life. Since I started this little way of fasting, I have prayed better and I feel I have drawn closer to Christ.
It’s just 1 cup of tea. A little thing, done with great love.
During Lent, I won’t totally deprive myself of other drinks, because I know I would find that too burdensome. My aim is to give up my first cup of tea each morning. On some days I may give up my second cup of tea too! – a definite sacrifice, but one I can realistically sustain. And each time I am conscious of foregoing a drink I would like, I will pray. I will offer my sacrifice to the Lord with a joyful heart and a smile on my face.
I will offer my Lenten fasting for your intentions, for the people who read this blog. In particular I will pray that those of you who need to do so will make a good confession in preparation for Easter, because confession is so important.
And if any of you would like me to pray for a particular intention of yours, please contact me through this blog in the comments section below. I’d be happy to offer my fasting on a particular day for your personal intention.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Ordination of Married Men to the Priesthood

Of course we do ordain married men in the Catholic Church - just not in the Roman Rite to which most of us in the "West" belong. The Eastern Rite Catholic Churches do ordain married men, although only celibates may become bishops. This position was reinforced last year when permission was given to Eastern Rite Churches to ordain married men in countries outside of their usual spheres of influence.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Married Clergy? Taken from the National Catholic Reporter

As we already have married priests, those that moved across from the Anglican tradition, I can see no theological argument against them.

A group representing approximately 1,000 U.S. Catholic priests has asked their bishops "to start the dialogue" toward the ordination of married men to the priesthood.
In letters mailed Jan. 23 to all members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests said they made the request primarily with concern for "the pastoral care of souls," and that married priests are needed "to serve the pastoral needs of the people."
"The time has come. The door is open. The need for this is urgent," the priests said.
The letter is signed by 12 members of the priest association's leadership and staff, representing nine dioceses and one religious order; its executive secretary Franciscan Sr. Jackie Doepker also signed her name to the document.

Fr. Bob Bonnot, a priest in the Youngstown, Ohio, diocese and chair of the priests' association, told NCR that to his knowledge there has not been a response so far from the bishops' conference or individual bishops. He said they are not asking the bishops to respond to them, but to take up the issue among themselves. He added that the association has encouraged its members, where appropriate, to discuss the issue of married priests with their individual bishops.
"This might be an issue that priests in some situations would say, ‘Bishop, we think you ought to be thinking about this.’ It’s up to them to make that decision," Bonnot said. 
Among the reasons the priests cited in their letter for beginning the conversation:
  • the Roman Catholic church's inclusion of ordained married clergy from other Christian denominations, such as the Anglican church;
  • calls from the laity for a discussion of married priests;
  • the continued declining number of active priests -- and resultant parish closures;
  • and the spiritual, mental and physical health of current priests, particularly those experiencing "an increasing and sometimes overwhelming workload."
"The health and vitality of the priest's role within the faith community is critical to the life of the Roman Catholic tradition and its ministry. Given the signs of the times and the diversity and challenges facing the church at this time, the ministerial priesthood needs creative options. The witness that could come from married priests serving the church with celibate priests is a crucial option to be explored," the letter said.
"There are many voices in the church waiting to be heard on this -- including our own," said the priests.
The priests' association based its request of married priests on the belief that Pope Francis is open to the possibility, if brought to him by a national bishops' conference. They referenced an April 2014 interview in an Austrian newspaper in which the pope reportedly told a Brazilian bishop that it was up to regional bishops' conferences to seek and find consensus on church reforms, and then bring them to Rome.
According to a report on the interview by the U.K.-based Tablet, Bishop Erwin Kräutler told the Salzburger Nachrichten that in a conversation about a shortage of priests in his Xingu diocese, Francis expressed open-mindedness to finding solutions.
"The Pope explained that he could not take everything in hand personally from Rome. We local bishops, who are best acquainted with the needs of our faithful, should be corajudos, that is 'courageous' in Spanish, and make concrete suggestions," the bishop said, according to the Tablet.
Kräutler confirmed that he and the pope discussed the ordination of viri probati ("proven married men") into the priesthood. "It was up to the bishops to make suggestions, the Pope said again," the bishop said.
In their letter, the U.S. priest association asked their bishops to "accept the offer of Pope Francis to consider the possibility of ordaining married viri probati as priests." They requested the bishops begin a broad consultation process that would seek input from diocesan staffs, parish priests, deacons and the laity.
Bonnot told NCR that at this point the association does not have additional actions planned, and that it will give the issue "time to brew."
The request to review the possibility of married priests was among eight resolutions the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests considered at its third annual assembly, held in St. Louis in June. The group, largely composed of Vatican II-era priests, formed in August 2011 as a support network for priests and to allow for them to speak in a unified voice.
"We’re trying to be a voice of joy and hope in our pilgrim church and that we think that expressing the views of priests with regard to issues such as this is something we hope is a positive contribution to the life of the church in this exciting time," Bonnot said.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Unjust laws

Last night I watched "Call the Midwife" it was a recording of the episode where the father of a child was arrested for "improper and lewd behaviour" in a gentleman's public toilet. It became apparent that he knew that he was "gay" but got married to try to disguise the fact/hope that it would "go away" as it were.This prompted some speculation on my part:
1. I wonder how many people alive today were born in sham marriages where the man only married in an effort to disguise his sexuality.
2. How many people had their lives blighted as a result of being starred for gross indecency?
3. Why was Alan Turing pardoned? He did after all break the law as it then was (Unjust though the law may have been).
4. If Turing deserves to be pardoned why not everybody who was guilty of breaking that law?
5. What about all the other unjust and unfair laws that there have been throughout history?
6. Does not Turing's pardon reinforce the suspicion that there is one law for the rich, the powerful, the famous - the current scandal of child-abuse in "high places' is just one example of this.
7. Is there any likelihood that we will see a fair society where all are treated equally before the law?