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If you don’t fit in, you’re probably doing the right thing.

IMAGE@IGNATIUSPRESS

IMAGE@IGNATIUSPRESS

Over at Along the Watch Tower,  Chalcedon’s post speaks loudly of the sad reality that engulfs youth of today: not having confidence or language to talk about religion or faith. He writes, ‘Religion is to this generation what sex was to some previous ones ; something which embarrasses students because they do not know much about it, what they know makes it seem difficult, and they do not have a language in which to discuss it. He compares it to generations past who felt the same way about discussing sex.’ 

How the pendulum swings…

I believe this dilemma not only afflicts the youth but society in general:- what the youth do well is to reflect the society in which they live. Many Europeans are “unchurched,” meaning they have never step foot in a church for any reason besides weddings, funerals, or Baptisms. They have never gone to a church service once their entire life. So, how could they talk about religion?

I place this dilemma squarely at the feet of the assiduous and determined acceptance of secular values by Western governments. All this in the name of progress:- through modernization and relativism, systematically removing religious authority/ influence in all aspects of life and governance.

As a direct result of secularisation Christianity is marginalised. As a result of individualistic religion , a century of war and disregard for religion and faith matters the appreciation and understanding of religion or faith has declined. Many Europeans still identify themselves a Christian, but do not actively attend Christian services. We need also to keep in mind, that as a former continent known as “Christendom”, Europe is experiencing a rapid change in religious diversity. The two fastest growing religions in Europe are secularism (no religious affiliation, agnosticism, atheism, etc.) and Islam. I believe that secularism has completely won over European culture replacing Christianity as Europe’s world-view.

I use excerpts of an article from The Catholic News Society to substantiate my feelings about our Christian responsibility to live as Christ’s disciples as a way of life and as examples to those around us. :- (Emphasis my own)

Sharing an obligation to spread the good news of salvation in Christ, all Christian communities are challenged by the fact that many people today do not think they need God, Pope Benedict XVI said.
“The spiritual poverty of many of our contemporaries, who no longer perceive the absence of God in their lives as a privation, represents a challenge for all Christians,” the pope said Nov. 15 in a meeting with members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Pope Benedict said authentic ecumenical prayer, dialogue and cooperation cannot ignore “the crisis of faith that vast regions of the planet are experiencing,” nor can Christians ignore signs that many modern people still feel a need for some kind of spirituality.
Efforts to reunite all Christians are an essential part of the new evangelization, the pope said. Responding to the obligation to share the Gospel and to heal a divided Christianity, he said, every Christian must “return to the essential, to the heart of our faith, giving the world a witness of the living God, that is, a God who knows us and loves us and in whose gaze we live; a God who awaits the response of our love in our everyday lives.”….

...What is at stake, he said, is the credibility of Christianity as a whole and its ability to speak to modern men and women and to influence the way they live and act.

The archbishop said while secularization places challenges before the church, the real danger is “the secularization of the church” itself, which begins very concretely with church members living and acting as if they aren’t church members.

This means that Christians living in a secularised society will face many a challenge when having to share Truths about ethical questions, particularly regarding the safeguarding of human life from conception to death, family and marriage.

CCC 31 Created in God’s image and called to know and love him, the person who seeks God discovers certain ways of coming to know him. These are also called proofs for the existence of God, not in the sense of proofs in the natural sciences, but rather in the sense of “converging and convincing arguments”, which allow us to attain certainty about the truth. These “ways” of approaching God from creation have a twofold point of departure: the physical world, and the human person.

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A Divine element.

562485_366229810078860_579755862_n (1)

 

Having secular values and ideals contrary to those of Christianity, morality can be held high as a beacon of Godliness.

Creature on the loose.

image@swordofpeter.blogspot.uk

image@swordofpeter.blogspot.co.uk

The absolute reality of God is to be found beyond…

Breaching the gate…

Image @ The sword of Peter on Facebook

Move to England!

Image from PC PRO

At the end of February I  will have been seen in England for ten years and two months exactly. Where has the time gone? We have raised children, worked consistently, and lived in a rather pleasant suburb twenty minutes from Waterloo station.

Before we arrived on English shores, our biggest concern was for the continued Catholic Education of our children, so it was with relief that this was to be so for our family. On arrival, we immediately joined our local parish, and through the Grace of God, our children were accepted into two highly regarded State Catholic schools (one Primary and the other Secondary). As the years have gone by, we have realised how blessed we have been in this regard.

The first few years were wrought with the stresses and strains of moving to a foreign land, which in turn were buffered by the love, concern and support offered by our families both near and far. From our parish, we received the Spiritual nourishment that kept us sane and focussed on what we really needed to get through the move: God’s love. As we negotiated our way through a foreign schooling system, cultural differences, bias and a myriad of daily challenges,   our parish journeyed alongside us as we celebrated Holy Communions, Confirmations, and to date,  26 years of marriage. Our parish has supported us and carried us when we’ve needed it most. It has been the mainstay of our lives. It remains the one place where we don’t feel out of place, inexperienced, ignorant or vulnerable but rather welcomed as part of the Catholic (universal) Church.

Over the past ten years we have watched with affection, the pomp and ceremony of the Royal weddings and all the national pride that goes along with these Royal celebrations; the Beatification of a New English saint and revelled and basked in the glow of the heralding success of Pope Benedict’s  Potifical visit (and faced the negative press, critical celebrities and prominent atheists who declared their hostility towards the Pope and Christianity in particular); we’ve witnessed the devastating effects of the recent London riots (as well as it’s aftermath) ; the downfall of  a media empire, and in the not too distant past the 7:7 bombings. In conjunction with a change of government and economic turmoil, the fabric of society has been marked in some way by all these events. The plight of Christians in Britain has been in the spotlight on many occasions and they have been challenged from all sides in a country that defines herself as ‘Christian’. My Faith has been challenged and continues to be challenged by the society in which I now live.  And so, much water has passed under the bridge….and much learning taken place as a result.  My Faith remains steadfast and continues to grow  in the direction of True North,  in sure, steady steps, bolstered by my loving family and friends and yes of course, our wonderful parish!

Reading one of my favourite blogs, I followed a link to a superb article called  ‘Oh, Britannia!’, the content of which ignited my ideas for this post tonight.  http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/oh_britannia

Perhaps it will make good reading for your too?

 

 

The term “Fundamentalist.”

During a conversation recently it was put to me, that a comment a I’d made was considered to be ‘fundamentalist‘. I was taken aback by this judgement.  It made me think about how I had approached the conversation and why on earth my comment would’ve possibly been misconstrued as ‘fundamentalist’? As the conversation progressed my thoughts bounced back and forth to my understanding  fundamentalism.As it happens, I was sharing concerns about the acceptance of New Age ‘healing’ practises undertaken by Catholics.Exchanging money for services  implies that one would accept these practises, surely. At the same time I expressed my disdain at the negative press Christians receive in our secular society, and ended by stating that we as Catholics should be responsible for speaking up about our faith(however insignificant that may seem) and the Truth about it, more than ever.  It was at this point that my comment was deemed to be  ‘fundamentalist’. I felt uncomfortable with this label and decided to do a little investigation into the definition of the word, hoping to gain fresh insight and understanding of it’s worth.

http://www.religioustolerance.org/reac_ter9.htm

  • Within academic circles, the term is generally used in a precise manner. For example, Author Karen Armstrong defines fundamentalist movements as “embattled forms of spirituality, which have emerged as a response to a perceived crisis” – namely the fear that modernity will erode or even eradicate their faith and morality. 1 That concern is shared by FundamentalistChristiansJews, and MuslimsSikhs, and others
  • Within Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and other faiths, the media generally use the term to refer to the most conservative wing of the religion. For example, fundamentalist Christianity is often described as the most conservative wing of Evangelicalism.
  • However, sometimes the term is used as a general-purpose “snarl” word which is intended to denigrate a religious group, implying that they are intolerant or prone to violence.
In light of the first definition, my comment certainly cannot be described as a fear that modernity will erode or even eradicate my faith and morality. My intention was and is , to highlight the accepted notion in secular society, that most decisions are made relative to one’s needs and circumstances at that one moment in time, and it is accepted that in light of this relativity, decisions  need not be held up for scrutiny.  Surely Christians always attempt to make decisions based on their knowledge and understanding of their Belief and in light of their role as Christians in society?
My discomfort surfaced when thinking in terms of definition two. Witnessing in favour of grass root foundations of the Faith, means that sometimes my views may be easily dismissed  as conservative or right-wing, simply because the issue at hand is blurred through the dirty grey lens of  relativity.  My question then is, ‘What is my role as a Christian in conversations such as these?’
I finally breathed out slowly on reading definition three. I decided that my comments were clearly rebuked in terms of a general-purpose snarl at my gall for raising a topic that in itself can cause an uncomfortable twitch during conversations.
The term, ‘don’t upset the apple-cart’ springs to mind here.
I know for sure that my contributions should not have been labelled as ‘fundamentalist’.  I do hope that in retrospect my concerns raised will encourage further sincere investigation and then be understood as an important  principle; a fundamental decision that serves as a choice between being right or wrong.
As a n extra: Over at http://the-hermeneutic-of-continuity.blogspot.com/ you can enjoy reading about new fundamental laws that have just been passed in Hungry. FUNDAMENTAL in the true sense of the word!