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The Catholic connection: Part 2.

Upon hearing of our impending trip to Rome, our parish priest suggested we purchase the CTS booklet on Rome. So we did.  It s available at any parish book store or alternatively, it can be ordered online here.  What a gem!  It recommends starting a trip to Rome by visiting the ancient burial sites of the early Christians. We visited on the third day of our stay, starting out after breakfast and walking down passed the Colosseum, and onwards to the Circus Maximus.

Scale model of the Circus Maximus in Ancient Rome

This arena was the largest stadium in ancient Rome. At one point the Circus could seat 250.000 people, one quarter of Rome’s population. Contrary to the popular misconception that places the  scene of early persecutions of Christians in the nearby Colosseum, it was in the Circus Maximus that most convicted early Christians perished. As the Circus Maximus had more seating than the Colosseum, this popular spectacle was staged there.

Cicus Maximus as it is today.

Records indicate that only once did Christians face wild beasts in the Colosseum. Looking at what remains today of the stadium, I found difficult to picture the scenes of persecution that occurred there so many centuries ago. What I did sense though was a strange connection with my fellow Christians that I know for sure, had died there. My mind wandered to and fro as I contemplated and later prayed for these brave martyrs and saints! The grandeur of this site is an awesome phenomenon, much like the rest of Rome, exposing them as formidable opponents- doing everything in grand style, to perfection, with  flair and no mercy.

It was from this site that we set off to the find the Via Appia Antica (the Appian Way), one of the earliest and strategically most important Roman roads of the ancient republic. It was on this long road that we were allowed to wonder about those that travelled the road daily to visit with fellow Christians at the catacombs of St. Callistus (Pope).

Porta San Sebastiano is the gate of the Appia in the Aurelian Walls.

About halfway to the Catacombs, we walked through the Gate of St. Sebastian and onwards for a further half an hour before coming upon

a seemingly insignificant little church on the left of the road.

The church is called Domine, Quo Vadis—an odd name for a church, until you hear the parable behind it.

Finding his way blocked by the specter of his Savior, a nervous and surprised Peter who had escaped his persecutors asked, “Domine, Quo Vadis?,” which is Latin for ‘Lord, where are you going?’

Christ replied, “To Rome, to be crucified a second time,” whereupon Jesus disappeared, leaving his footprints in the road’s flagstone as a sign (there’s a cast of them inside the church). A chastened Peter realized that Christ meant he was going to take the place of the weak-willed first pope and die, once again, for his faith. Peter turned around and returned to Rome to take his martyrdom like a man. (In fact, when it came to the moment, Peter gritted his teeth and told his executioners he was unworthy of being crucified in the same manner as his Lord and, in effect, asked them to “Do me upside down.” )

Image from 1catholicsalmon

In the stillness of this little chapel I contemplated the personality of a simple rough-shod, sunburned fisherman from Galilee facing a barbaric form of persecution for his love of Christ. For his belief in the importance of  perpetuating Christ’s message of Love;  The Church founded by Christ Himself.  What an immense sacrifice. Would I ever be able to do something this radical? I don’t know… I pray for the strength to carry the crosses put in my path with conviction and sincerity. St. Peter left his little town and all he loved and cherished for the one purpose given to him by our Lord Jesus: to build His Church. That took absolute of Faith. Absolute Trust. Enduring Love. St. Peter did this so that I may be blessed with Baptism and learn to love my God. Just too incredible for words. I am Blessed.

The preservation of the True Faith was uppermost in the early Christian Fathers‘ priorities. My link with them as a fellow Christian is tangible in Rome. It’s in the air, and this tangibility can be experienced through the Liturgy and in the Holy Eucharist  around the world on a daily basis without doubt.

My resolve as a Catholic was injected with a solid boost of understanding and conviction on the road to the resting place of hundreds of thousands of  Christians who died before me. The Catholic Connection welded firmly into time and space.

Image@thenorthviewblog

Your Will Be Done
Gracious Lord,
may your will be done
in me,
in my marriage,
in my home,
in my children,
in their children,
in my work,
in my leisure,
in my finances,
in my health,
in my eating and drinking,
in my reading,
in my driving,
in the entertainment I enjoy,
in the routines I observe,
in my listening and speaking,
in my thinking and doing,
in my moods and attitudes,
in my friends,
in my church,
in my community,
in my state,
in my nation,
on earth,
as it is in heaven,
amen.

Another opportunity to learn, but it’s painful..

Image @reasontostand.org

Relativism is the philosophical position that all points of view are equally valid, and that all truth is relative to the individual.  This means that all moral positions, all religious systems, all art forms, all political movements, etc., are truths that are relative to the individual.’ (Definition from http://carm.org)

For some time now I’ ve been exposed to someone on a daily basis who seems to sit on the fence pretty much all of the time. The boundaries move constantly. Nothing is set in stone, and everything is questioned. It’s exhausting being around this way of thinking. It’s draining.  I think that this situation is so overwhelming to me because I am a Christian with definitive and TRUE beliefs, providing me with boundaries, answers and something to hope for. My understanding of the world around me is governed by my Faith and the structure that it provides. So my convictions remain steadfast, and I aim to make the best decisions in the moment based on my knowledge of what  I understand the Lord expects of me. In this way I hope my acquaintances get to respect me as someone true to my word.

A Relativist outlook on life seems to be one where indecision reigns, partnered with quick ‘get-out-quick’ clauses releasing one from all responsibility, sporting little backbone while walking the tight-rope called, ‘I’m OK if you’re OK’ gingerly, in the hope that neutrality will win favour with all. Slowly but surely have I noticed the unravelling of hidden knots release a ball of string that never seems to end.

I have a problem: I am to be around this world view for a long time to come yet, and I ‘m not coping very well. I have bottled things inside to a near bursting point. By nature, I say it as it is, but equally, I’m a Vanguard for keeping the peace. I do not like ‘rocking the boat’. It’s in my genetic make-up and if it means keeping quiet, then I am the first one to back away. A close friend said that ,’Being a Christian does not mean you need to be a doormat’. That hit hard. I do not see myself as a doormat, I just know that I don’t have the confidence to speak up, because I may say something I will regret later. A catch 22 situation.

I have found myself in a similar situation before, and I have yet to learn how to deal with a bully at the moment an infringement upon my basic right to be respected as a fellow human being, takes place. This is crunch-time. I have to make an assertive stand, against put-downs and undermining behaviour, in the name of ‘acceptance ‘ and ‘fairness’  to others. As a way of getting things done in order not to ‘offend’ anyone concerned, with the sole purpose of remaining in ‘everyone’s favour’.

I know I have to be honest to my Faith every time, by challenging relativist notions, and drawing a line in the sand that cannot be crossed. I need to trust my Saviour in the Holy Spirit. I know the journey is going to be unpleasant, but it’s one I have to take.

Humanae Vitae: Day 30 To Bishops

To Bishops

30. And now as We come to the end of this encyclical letter, We turn Our mind to you, reverently and lovingly, beloved and venerable brothers in the episcopate, with whom We share more closely the care of the spiritual good of the People of God. For We invite all of you, We implore you, to give a lead to your priests who assist you in the sacred ministry, and to the faithful of your dioceses, and to devote yourselves with all zeal and without delay to safeguarding the holiness of marriage, in order to guide married life to its full human and Christian perfectionConsider this mission as one of your most urgent responsibilities at the present time. As you well know, it calls for concerted pastoral action in every field of human diligence, economic, cultural and social. If simultaneous progress is made in these various fields, then the intimate life of parents and children in the family will be rendered not only more tolerable, but easier and more joyful. And life together in human society will be enriched with fraternal charity and made more stable with true peace when God’s design which He conceived for the world is faithfully followed.

Bishops, in being zealous in their own defense of the sanctity of both marriage and life, make themselves a shining example for both priests and laity.  This is “one of your most urgent responsibilities at the present time” because the well-being of families and society as a whole depends on the faithful following of God’s plan for marriage.

Humanae Vitae: Day 27 Doctors and Nurses

To Doctors and Nurses

27. Likewise we hold in the highest esteem those doctors and members of the nursing profession who, in the exercise of their calling, endeavor to fulfill the demands of their Christian vocation before any merely human interest. Let them therefore continue constant in their resolution always to support those lines of action which accord with faith and with right reason. And let them strive to win agreement and support for these policies among their professional colleagues. Moreover, they should regard it as an essential part of their skill to make themselves fully proficient in this difficult field of medical knowledge. For then, when married couples ask for their advice, they may be in a position to give them right counsel and to point them in the proper direction. Married couples have a right to expect this much from them.

Obviously, doctors and nurses should never advise anyone to do anything that is contrary to the Gospel of Life, but Christian doctors and nurses should also be well-informed about the life issues.  They should know about those things that are contrary to the Gospel of Life, but they should also be able to direct couples who likewise want to be faithful to God’s plan for marriage.  They should know why In Vitro Fertilization, even if it done with good intentions, is by its nature contrary to the Gospel of Life and is therefore gravely sinful.  They should know about things such as Natural Family Planning so that they can help couples to understand it and its benefits.

Humanae Vitae: Day 26 The family Apostolate

Image @englishexercises

Family Apostolate

26. Among the fruits that ripen if the law of God be resolutely obeyed, the most precious is certainly this, that married couples themselves will often desire to communicate their own experience to others. Thus it comes about that in the fullness of the lay vocation will be included a novel and outstanding form of the apostolate by which, like ministering to like, married couples themselves by the leadership they offer will become apostles to other married couples. And surely among all the forms of the Christian apostolate it is hard to think of one more opportune for the present time (cf. Lumen Gentium 35, 41 and others).

In my own experience, I have seen this happen in parishes. Married couples who are faithful to the marital laws of the Church are happy couples with happy families. Yes, there are challenges, but they know that the grace of God is with them. Other couples see their joy and want to know what makes them so happy.

This builds up happy parishes with a solid Catholic culture. The Catechism calls the family “the original cell of social life” (2207) and says that the well-being of a society depends on families (cf. 2210). This is true of the parish as well. Strong Catholic families build up strong Catholic parishes. And it all begins with fidelity.

(Posted with permission from Fr. Lee Acervo at http://fatheracervo.wordpress.com)

Support the NIGHT OF WITNESS!

The ‘Night of Witness’ event to support persecuted Christians that ACN (Aid for the Church in Need) is organising at Westminster Cathedral on the evening and night of Thursday 17th May.

ACN’s Night of Witness is the biggest UK event yet that ACN has organised. There is an extensive line up of inspirational guests and performers on the night, including several bishops from around the world, as well as Catholic band ‘ooberfuse’ – who had the winning UK entry for last year’s World Youth Day song contest.

This event gives us a crucial chance to stand together with our brothers and sisters around the world who are suffering persecution, in what is now a highly fraught era for Christians worldwide.

Humanae Vitae: Day 10

Responsible Parenthood

10. Married love, therefore, requires of husband and wife the full awareness of their obligations in the matter of responsible parenthood, which today, rightly enough, is much insisted upon, but which at the same time should be rightly understood. Thus, we do well to consider responsible parenthood in the light of its varied legitimate and interrelated aspects.

With regard to the biological processes, responsible parenthood means an awareness of, and respect for, their proper functions. In the procreative faculty the human mind discerns biological laws that apply to the human person (See St. Thomas, Summa Theologiae, I-II, q. 94, art. 2).

With regard to man’s innate drives and emotions, responsible parenthood means that man’s reason and will must exert control over them.

With regard to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions,responsible parenthood is exercised by those who prudently and generously decide to have more children, and by those who, for serious reasons and with due respect to moral precepts, decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time.

Responsible parenthood, as we use the term here, has one further essential aspect of paramount importance. It concerns the objective moral order which was established by God, and of which a right conscience is the true interpreter. In a word, the exercise of responsible parenthood requires that husband and wife, keeping a right order of priorities, recognize their own duties toward God, themselves, their families and human society.

From this it follows that they are not free to act as they choose in the service of transmitting life, as if it were wholly up to them to decide what is the right course to follow. On the contrary, they are bound to ensure that what they do corresponds to the will of God the Creator. The very nature of marriage and its use makes His will clear, while the constant teaching of the Church spells it out (cf. Gaudium et Spes, nn. 50-51).

The word “responsible” is one that some are allergic to today in this “me first” culture of ours.  But God, in entrusting to man and woman the gift of being able to co-operate with Him in the procreation of human life, expects us to use this gift responsibly.  With all gifts from God, there is a right way to use them and a wrong way, a responsible way and an irresponsible way, a generous way and a selfish way.

Responsible parenthood means that as human beings, we don’t let our “innate drives and emotions” control us.  If now is not a good time for a couple to have children, they should abstain from sexual relations.  If they engage in sexual relations, then they must be responsible enough to accept the consequences of their decisions.

Responsible parenthood means being both prudent and generous to God in their decisions to have more children.

Responsible parenthood means that both husband and wife possess Christian maturity, great moral character, and virtue.  This means having the ability to use right reason.  It requires knowledge of both the natural and moral laws, and the maturity to follow them, understanding that “each of us shall give an account of himself to God” (Rom 14:12).  It requires the ability to set priorities not based on my will but God’s will.

  (Posted with permission from Fr. Lee Acervo at http://fatheracervo.wordpress.com)


Soulfood

Walk of Witness down the High Street

Every year on the morning of Good Friday, the Churches Together gather together to process down the High Street in a Walk of Witness. As we walked along attesting to our Faith as Christians, volunteers walked alongside us handing out Bible verses and  Easter treats. There were more Walkers this year and it felt great. I think I ‘m beginning to see a glimmer of light with regard to the Ecumenical gatherings. It’s important for Christians of all denominations to stand firm on of matters  of  Faith, especially on Good Friday. The Choir treated us to beautiful sung harmonies. Overall, and uplifting experience.

I missed the last twenty minutes or so f the service, as we were aiming to get to Trafalgar Square for the twelve o’ clock  showing of the  ‘Passion of Jesus’,  put on by the fantastic cast of the Wintershall Estate. This was our first viewing of  ‘The Passion of Jesus’.

It takes place on an open air stage, viewed by thousands of onlookers, surging to get the clearest view of the actors in this beautiful play. (Next year I’ll make sure we get there early enough for front seat viewing!) The sound was perfect, considering the vast area covered during the performance and the competing central London traffic and hoards of tourists walking by.  There was an enormous screen on which the live acting was being screened, so that it didn’t matter whether you weren’t able to see the actors you would still be able to watch them on the big screen, and hear them clearly.

The story of The Passion began with a narrator’s  introduction, and from that moment on the crowd was hooked! Besides a little shuffling and readjusting to begin with, the group we were standing with were rooted to the spot. As the story progressed I was drawn into the play as an onlooker and participant, as was the rest of the audience. I heard nothing but what the actors were saying. I didn’t hear any traffic, but was acutely aware of this dramatic story being played out in  one of the most exciting, thronging capital cities of the world! As I watched and listened, I was humbled by this ‘simple’ , clear biography of Someone dying a torturous death for me. For me!! It felt like the first time I ‘d heard this story. And it seemed to the same for all who were gathered together on the Holiest days of the Christian calendar. You could literally hear a pin drop as the play progressed. Everyone drawn into the Life-Giving story of Christ’s Death and Resurrection, which is actually so simple. What spoke to me  most was the Humility of Our Lord  in the acceptance of His Work as directed by His Father. His acceptance of the importance of His Ultimate Sacrifice in the story of our salvation.  I was brought to tears by the Crucifixion scene and Our Lord’s reaching out, even on the Cross,  to his fellow humans. Two hours of this Magnificence ended on a high note with shouts of Alleluia, and ongoing clapping from the audience.

The cherry on the cake for me was the appearance of Bishop Vincent Nichols short address and finally praying with thousands of others the Our Father as in one voice.

This has truly been a Holy week to remember for me, and I look forward to next year, when I ‘ll meet the Lord in yet another way, on my Journey of Faith.

(All images taken by 1catholicsalmon)

Marginalisation of Christians in England.

 

Image from Mike Duran

1catholicsalmon received a comment recently from an atheist who was derisive of the fact that Christians are being marginalised in England, so I thought I ‘d post some obvious examples of this fact as a taster for those who believe this to be untrue. Below are what I believe to be excellent examples of bias and discrimination against Christians in Britain. The links are worth following.

1.Christians face discrimination in workplace, say church leaders.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/4622858/Christians-face-discrimination-in-workplace-say-church-leaders.html

2. A leading Catholic barrister has said that a student union motion at University College London which forces Catholic organisations to invite pro-abortion speakers to pro-life events is “completely illegal”
http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2012/01/31/top-barrister-students-crackdown-on-abortion-debate-is-stalinist-and-illegal/

3.Christians a minority at ‘biased’ BBC where staff are more likely to be atheists or non-believers.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2069649/Christians-minority-biased-BBC.html#ixzz1mLbMAaMC

4.Challenge to PM on aid bias against Christians
http://www.persecution.org/2011/10/28/challenge-to-uk-on-aid-bias-against-christians/

5.Catholic church accuses BBC of ‘anti-Christian‘ bias
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/bbc/7982601/Catholic-church-accuses-BBC-of-anti-Christian-bias.html

6.Archbishop Peter Smith criticizes UK Courts for bias against Christians
http://protectthepope.com/?p=3750

7.Marginalising Christians: an excellent document.
http://www.christian.org.uk/wp-content/downloads/marginchristians.pdf

8.Anti-Christian Bias & Marginalisation of Christians in the UK pt.1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DfalJlwavY

9. Lord Carey warns ‘Christianity marginalised’

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-16995239

10. Bideford Town Council prayers ruled unlawful.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-16980025

As I finish off my post for today, the presenter James O’ Brian from the radio station LBC (London’s Biggest Conversation http://www.lbc.co.uk/),  prepares to discuss his and other Christians’ reticence to admit that they adhere to Christian religious parameters . Will prove to be interesting listening. The fact that one of the biggest radio stations in London is airing this programme is indicative of the fact that the secularist agenda to rid English society of  Christian freedoms is alive and well.