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To really ‘Imagine’…?

imagine (2)

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace

You, you may say
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world

You, you may say
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

John Lennin lyrics.

I have read two posts this morning which referred to John Lennin. One mentioning that the anniversary of his death was 8th December,  and the other was included in the article mentioned over at Auntie Joanna’s  from the CNA. (Do visit to read an excellent piece!) There is no need to ‘imagine’ a secular world anymore,  because we living in the midst of it! Heaven and hell are not going anywhere, and this is where our personal choices are going to make a difference as to how we live in the midst of it.

Aunty writes:-

As I look back 30 years, it is such a very different Britain:  it was still possible to speak openly of male/female marriage as the foundation for any society, and it would have been impossible for anyone in public life to be taken seriously in proposing that two people of the same sex could marry. Supporters of  abortion  still felt obliged to preface their speeches with some statement to the effect that abortion was in general regrettable before continuing with “but…choices…cases of neccesity…”.   And it was still normal to expect that anyone who wanted to be active in public life should not cohabit but should marry, or live as a single person.  It’s very difficult now to convey all of this:  today’s young Catholics simply cannot really know what it was like to live in a culture where some  moral norms, while under steady attack, were still  praised in public. And in our praying and campaigning, we had public support: in the 1970s it was still possible to muster 80,000-100,000 people in London to cheer pro-life speeches and to march to Downing Street, and the 1980s saw huge pro-life prayer-vigils, candle-lit processions, packed cathedrals…’

Emphasis is the Salmon’s.

(Copied from Catholic New Agency) 

Chicago, Ill., Oct 23, 2012 / 07:15 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Cardinal Francis George of Chicago has said that the “secularizing” of American culture is a “much larger issue” than political causes or the outcome of the presidential elections, warning against a rise of anti-religious sentiment and restating his fears of a future persecution in the United States.

“The world divorced from the God who created and redeemed it inevitably comes to a bad end. It’s on the wrong side of the only history that finally matters,” Cardinal George said in his Oct. 21 column for the Catholic New World.

He said the 2012 political campaigns have brought to the surface “anti-religious sentiment, much of it explicitly anti-Catholic, that has been growing in this country for several decades.” Secularism, he said, is just “communism’s better-scrubbed bedfellow.”

Cardinal George also touched on reports that he believes a successor of his will be martyred. Those stories came from his remarks to a group of priests several years ago.

“I am (correctly) quoted as saying that I expected to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square,” the cardinal wrote.

However, he said the reports left out his last phrase about the bishop who succeeds a possible martyr: “His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the Church has done so often in human history.”

The cardinal said he was trying to express “in overly dramatic fashion” what the “complete secularization” of society could bring.

“What I said is not ‘prophetic’ but a way to force people to think outside of the usual categories that limit and sometimes poison both private and public discourse.”

Cardinal George said his predecessor Cardinal George Mundelein acted similarly in his 1937 criticisms of Adolph Hitler, whose Nazi government had dissolved Catholic youth groups, silenced the German bishops in the media and tried to discredit the Church’s work through putting on trial priests, monks and sisters accused of immorality.

Cardinal Mundelein had warned that there is no guarantee “that the battlefront may not stretch some day into our own land.” American Catholics’ silence could mean that “we too will be fighting alone.”

While Cardinal Mundelein never saw persecution at home, Cardinal George warned against trends that follow the example of the John Lennon song “Imagine,” which imagines a world without religion.

“We don’t have to imagine such a world; the 20th century has given us horrific examples of such worlds,” he said. He denounced the violence of “the nation state gone bad” which claims an absolute power to decide questions and make laws “beyond its own competence.”

Cardinal George closed by reminding Catholics that God “sustains the world, in good times and in bad.” Jesus Christ has “overcome and rescued history.”

“Those who gather at his cross and by his empty tomb, no matter their nationality, are on the right side of history. Those who lie about him and persecute or harass his followers in any age might imagine they are bringing something new to history, but they inevitably end up ringing the changes on the old human story of sin and oppression,” the cardinal concluded. 

 

Blogathon!

I include an illustration of what my desk usually/can/sometimes looks like, to emphasize that I am certainly not one to wing-it. I have taken a while to respond to the BILTRIX nudging from afar. I needed time to digest this notion of a blogAthon, being careful to include all the necessary components meticulously.

Last week 1catholicsalmon was tagged by the Catholic blogging champion BILTRIX  (THANK YOU!),  and was thereby convinced to take part in this blogaThon: All in the interest of spreading the Faith! How could I refuse to participate?

I am attempting to carry on this honour by participating in said ‘blogAthon.’ The rules (which are not obligatory, by any stretch of the imagination…in other words, please don’t feel obligated to do this if you have been tagged here) are as follows:

1. Each person tagged must post 11 things about themselves.
2. They must also answer the 11 questions the “tagger” has set for them.
3. They must create 11 more questions to ask bloggers they have decided to tag.
4. They must then choose 11 bloggers and tag them in their post.
5. These “lucky” bloggers must then be told.
6. No tag backs.

So here goes:

11 things about myself:

  1. For the first few days on holiday I usually sleep.
  2. My first thought every day is to make it to Mass.
  3. I make conscious Christian choices during the day.
  4. I treasure the Sacrament of Confession. I have learned much through it.
  5. I wear a crucifix as a statement of my faith  and also to show my devotion to the Lord.
  6. I am aware of my responsibilities as a ‘wearer of the Cross’.
  7. I try to hear the Lord through all my dealings with others throughout the day.
  8. I have a brand new daily Missal. Everything’s in there. Everything!
  9. I have downloaded loads of Catholic books onto my Kindle.
  10. Spending an afternoon browsing around the St. Paul’s bookshop in London is my idea of a great afternoon.
  11. I am keen  to ponder the fruits of this year of Faith in a few years time.

Here are the questions for Me to answer:

  1. Have you ever read a dialogue by Plato? I have read some quotes and touched on Greek history at Uni.
  2. Do you know any foreign languages? YES!- Afrikaans and  Portuguese
  3. How good are you at math? Better than I was 5 years ago.
  4. Are you a convert? No, I’m a cradle-Catholic, and I’m still discovering the beauty and depth of the Faith.
  5. Would you like to renew your baptismal promises? Yes
  6. Do you reject Satan? Yes!
  7. And all his works? Yes!
  8. And all his empty promises? Yes!
  9. Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth? Yes!
  10. Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father? Yes!
  11. Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting? Yes!

If your name is mentioned below, that means I TAGGED you (that means YOU’RE IT, get it?).

AND THE 6  BLOGGERS I TAG ARE:

  1. Conversion Diary : A Catholic convert share’s her life.
  2. Gracie’s Quest : Good Christian reading here.
  3. Catholic1 : Just one in a billion!
  4. Daniel Undum : Author of a new book called, ‘The offensive Catholic’. 
  5. My Hope Box : Friendly Catholic blogging, including good Catechesis.
  6. Transformed in Christ : A Catechist from London.

Now… If your name is one of the names listed above, you got TAGGED, and you may be asking yourself Why did I get tagged? So that you can tag someone else. C’mon! Spread the faith!

Here are the 11 questions the tagged bloggers are to answer about themselves:

  1. What’s the first memory about Church?
  2. Are you invited to speak to your priest as you would speak to a friend?. (Do you know him well enough to feel relaxed in his company?)
  3. Have you ever imagined something funny happening up on the Altar during Mass?
  4. Which character trait makes your parish priest human?
  5. What stays with you after Mass and into the week?
  6. Please recommend a good Christian movie:
  7. Which do you prefer: Gregorian Chant or singing from the hymn book?
  8. Have you experienced a pilgrimage?
  9. Which is your favoured character in the Bible?
  10. Has Confession changed the way you think about your actions?
  11. Which is your chosen Mass time on Sunday: 9:30 am, 11:30 am  or 5:30pm, or do you attend the 6:00 on Saturday evenings?

An ethereal celebration.

A stained glass window at St. George’s Cathedral in London.

Last week-end at Mass Fr. Jonathan highlighted the fact that we are not only family members of our own parishes, but that we belong to the extended diocesan family too. We were all duly encouraged to head up-town to St George’s  Cathedral in London to celebrate the inaugural Mass of the Year of Faith with parishioners from across the Southwark diocese. And what a wonderful celebration it was!

It was the first time I experienced such unbelievably beautiful and uplifting music at Mass. The music certainly left no-one with any doubt that we were praising and worshipping God Himself. The choir was second to none, accompanied by an organist, a pianist as well as someone who played the trumpet. The first time ever I have heard a trumpet being played at Mass! What a joy. It added a quality and glow to the celebration that  I thought I would only expect to hear in Heaven one day.

We celebrated with forty-nine priests and  four bishops, and perhaps a thousand or more fellow Catholics. It was a wonderful occasion marked by many not just in London, but all over the world.  Only good things to come from this auspicious year marked by the Church and blessed by the Holy Spirit.

I snuck a quick photo of the stained-glass window on located to the left of the benches we were sitting while the sun shone through. This just added to the already wonderful experience.

On the cusp of a special year ahead.

 

I can’t help but feel excited (tinged with a little trepidation)  about the coming year of Faith which begins this week. It feels to me like a year that’s going to surpass any other in its importance and significance at this time on earth for devout as well as resting Catholics  in a Western culture steeped in secularism. The Church in Her wisdom, decides on ventures  over a period of years after much planning, debating and prayer. I think the decision about the Year of Faith could not have been better timed.

This evening at Mass, we heard a powerful message from our Archbishop Peter of Southwark, that ignited within an even more fervent desire to make a difference (however small) in this coming year.

Herewith an excerpt that made an impression on me: (emphasis is mine)

And quite recently Pope Benedict drew on that image of the Church, speaking of that participation of all the baptised in terms of the “co-responsibility” of all the baptised in proclaiming the Gospel. This is what he said: “Co-responsibility requires a change of mentality, particularly with regard to the laity in the Church, who should be considered not as ‘collaborators’ with the clergy, but as persons truly ‘co-responsible’ for the being and activity of the Church. It is important, therefore, that a mature and committed laity be united, who are able to make their own specific contribution to the Church’s mission, in accordance with the ministries and tasks each one has in the life of the Church, and always in cordial communion with the bishops. Your particular vocation as lay faithful, who are called to be courageous witnesses in every sphere of society, is that the Gospel might be the light that brings hope in difficult situations, in troubles and in the darkness that we today so often find along the path.” 

He goes on to say:

I also want to encourage every parish, either through the parish council or a specially commissioned group within the parish, to get together and determine what you can do as a parish community in co-operation with your parish priest, to participate fully in the Year of Faith. I think that will be a good way to foster Pope Benedict’s understanding of the exercise of ‘co-responsibility’ and build up our parishes as communities of prayer, of vibrant and confident faith and good works, open to welcome those who come in search of Our Saviour, Jesus Christ. And to discover too what gifts the Holy Spirit has given each of us to be committed and steadfast ‘proclaimers of the Gospel’ in our neighbourhoods, at work and wherever we take our leisure. May God bless you all in your endeavours, and let’s pray for each other and support each other in this great opportunity the Holy Father has given us.

How can his requests possibly be ignored? It feels so good to hear these directives from  the leader of the Flock here in Southwark. I feel motivated and rearing to go. I do like the idea of being a in a responsible partnership with our parish priest and I do hope that the other parishioners feel the same way.

Follow this link to read the Bishop’s entire letter.

 

The Catholic Connection: Part 1.

As I ‘ve aged and hopefully, made some small steps on my spiritual journey, I have become interested in the Early Church Fathers as well as the early Saints and Christians who have died for a Faith I am so blessed and privileged to be a part of. Each day I am grateful for the ‘freedom’ to write about and live my Faith. This is one of the reasons why I was so excited about our recent holiday to Rome, the seat of Christianity.

On hearing about our eminent trip to the Eternal City, Fr. Peter (our parish priest), offered to connect us with one of our parish Deacons who is in his second year of study at the Collegio Inglesi—-Roma. (The English College) That very same evening we received a jovial e-mail from Andrew. After a few emails sent to and fro, we established a firm date to meet up, after which we found out that Andrew would be smack-bang in the middle of end of year exams!

The above photo of Our Lady Of Walsingham was taken in the College. I just love this wooden statue. It’s got oodles of character. (I have yet to visit Walsingham here in England.) Andrew gave us an in-depth tour of the college, sharing many details about numerous martyrs, that are remembered through the art there. We were privileged to be able to hold a chalice that was used by a number of saints who themselves, had attended the college. Very special indeed.

Part of the ceiling .

We attended Mass at the college on both Sundays of our stay in Rome. At the first Mass we celebrated in awe of the four Cantors, the heavenly music and the fact that we were worshipping God in such a beautiful chapel. On the right and below is a taster of the beautiful decor of the chapel.  The marble flooring adds to the sumptuous beauty of the chapel, and behind the altar is a painting of Christ being removed from the Cross. It was only after close scrutiny that the detail of the painting became apparent. The Precious Blood of our Lord, pouring out of  His wounds onto the world. The Hands of God the Father can be seen too, holding up his Son, with the Holy Spirit in the centre.

As the tour continued Andrew named saint after saint after saint. Most of whom  I had never even heard of. It was a humbling experience.

I had always wanted to visit a Seminary, just to know what happens there, and here we were being personally chaperoned by a  prospective priest! It was such a privilege. We joined him for lunch,accompanied by much laughter and the excellent company of Fr. Guy and Benjamin. (a fourth year student priest.) We were made to feel so welcome, and the  unbreakable bond of Christianity was tangible and a sure source of unity.

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.

Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 96

96 ‘ What Christ entrusted to the apostles, they in turn handed on by their preaching and writing, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to all generations, until Christ returns in glory.’

The Faith of the Catholic Church.

I have returned from a wonderful life-changing, eleven day experience in Rome.  I found this quotation from the Catechism of the Catholic Church: perfect for  ‘beginning at the beginning’, as a way in to describing how my understanding of Christ’s command to the Apostles has been carved into the paths, cobble stones, buildings , dungeons, churches and history of Rome. The seat of Christianity. 

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.

Praying a Pentecost Novena?

I signed up for Novena’s and received a reminder about the start of A Novena to the Holy Spirit. I thought perhaps some of you would like to pray this Novena as well. Follow this link for the prayers.

I prayed the Divine Mercy Novena this year and gained much from doing it: reassurance, peace and time with the Lord. I wait with baited breath for the rewards of praying a Novena to the Holy Spirit!

Humanae Vitae: Day 28 Priests

To Priests

28. And now, beloved sons, you who are priests, you who in virtue of your sacred office act as counselors and spiritual leaders both of individual men and women and of families—We turn to you filled with great confidence. For it is your principal duty—We are speaking especially to you who teach moral theology—to spell outclearly and completely the Church’s teaching on marriage. In the performance of your ministry you must be the first to give an example of that sincere obedience, inward as well as outward, which is due to the magisterium of the Church. For, as you know, the pastors of the Church enjoy a special light of the Holy Spirit in teaching the truth (Lumen Gentium, n. 25).  And this, rather than the arguments they put forward, is why you are bound to such obedience. Nor will it escape you that if men’s peace of soul and the unity of the Christian people are to be preserved, then it is of the utmost importance that in moral as well as in dogmatic theology all should obey the magisterium of the Church and should speak as with one voice. Therefore We make Our own the anxious words of the great Apostle Paul and with all Our heart We renew Our appeal to you: “I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment” (1 Cor 1. 10).

A priest is a servant of the Truth, and Jesus Himself is the Truth.  And so, “whether in season or out of season, convenient or inconvenient”, priests are called to preach the Truth.  We are also called to be compassionate just as Jesus is compassionate toward us.

The mistake that some make is in thinking that preaching about abortion, contraception, and same-sex “marriage” is somehow not compassionate (or not “pastoral”).  But truth and compassion are not mutually exclusive.  In fact, to fail to preach the truth is to fail in compassion.  Why?  Because we are convinced by our Lord’s words to us when He says that the truth will set you free (cf. Jn 8:32).  If truth is what sets people free, then we priests must preach the truth whether it makes us popular or unpopular, liked or hated.  We priests have an obligation to preach the truth so that our culture may be free from the Culture of Death.  Nothing will change if we priests do not do our job.

There are, of course, certain obstacles that priests run into when trying to be faithful to their call.  So please pray for bishops and priests that we may all have the courage and the grace to persevere no matter the consequences.

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