Thursday, August 21, 2014

Hiding The Baby

There is an excellent piece by Dr Ruth Cullen on the recent abortion issue here in Ireland. I recommend you read it. She hits the nail on the head. Well done Ruth. The inconvenient truth at the heart of the pro-choice/abortion industry is the fact that there is a child's life at stake.

Just a quick look at the comments beneath the article reveals the level of blindness that exists in the pro-abortion lobby. We human beings are God's greatest creation, and what blessed creatures we are, but when we fall, my word, we plummet!

St Genesius Novena Day 5

Meditating on the Lord's Prayer with St Genesius

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven

“I have come not to do my will, but the will of my Father”: with these words the Lord Jesus explained why he had come, revealing that he had come in obedience to the will of the Heavenly Father. “Though he was in the form of God, Jesus did  not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but humbled himself and became like a servant” in obedience to the Father’s will.  Jesus came to bring us life, the fullness of life, and for life to reign obedience to the will of the Eternal Father is necessary: that his will, not ours, be done. The hardest thing for us as human beings to do is to hand ourselves over to the will of another. Fear, pride, insecurity prevents us from doing so. We cherish our free will, indeed we are jealous to preserve it, and we often find ourselves grounding ourselves in an existential stubbornness to ensure that we do not lose control. And yet this is what not Jesus the Messiah did: he abandoned himself to the will of the Father and in doing so he accomplished the great mission of redemption. The lesson is simple: when we abandon ourselves to God, when his will is done in us, his will is being done on earth; and since he desires that we be saved and we flourish, life here will flourish if his will is accomplished “on earth as it is in heaven”. We will not lose anything in living the will of the Father, but we will gain everything, life on earth and heaven too. St Genesius struggled with this, but in the end he surrendered to the will of God, and that is to his glory: it will lead to ours also.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Our Carmelite Pontiff

Although his feast is celebrated tomorrow, today is the 100th anniversary of the death of Pope St Pius X. Dying on the 20th August 1914 after a long struggle defending the faith and the liturgy, his heart was broken as he saw Europe torn apart by what he may have suspected would be a long and bitter war.

St Pius is loved and reviled in equal measure by conflicting groups within the Church. Traditionalists hold him in deep veneration for his identification of Modernism and his work to try and tackle its influence in the Church. Liberals despise him for the same work. That hatred is still there and is as intense as ever: in seminary we had a lecturer who tore into Pius as if he was still reigning and personally tormenting him. I believe Pius was correct in his analysis and work against Modernism, and I believe we still need to take note of what he said.

Of course Pope St Pius's pontificate was noteworthy for many other things. He is a Eucharistic Saint: his deep love for the Eucharist and the celebration of Holy Mass have not only left a lasting impression on the piety of the Church, but also in the practice of our children being able to receive Holy Communion at a younger age. This in turn has nurtured many young Saints and Saints to be: among them the little Blessed Shepherds of Fatima and numerous other Servants of God who died before reaching their teenage years. Pius was also concerned about music in Church and he urged greater use of Gregorian Chant, though he was not so keen on more elaborate settings of Sacred Texts for fear that they would distract from the mystery. While I do like various forms of Sacred Music, I think Pius and I would agree when it comes to some of the stuff we have had to endure in Church for the last forty years. I am one with Scottish composer James MacMillan when it comes to critiquing contemporary Church music.

For us Discalced Carmelites, Pope St Pius occupies a special place in our hearts. It is believed that he may have been a member of our Secular Order of Discalced Carmel. He was a great support to our friars when they were setting up the Curia on the Corso d'Italia in Rome, and in thanksgiving for his kindness and generosity there is a monument dedicated to him in the Curial Basilica of St Teresa, and, of course, now an altar. One of his simars and a sash are also preserved as relics in the Church. So tomorrow will be a day of special remembrance for us in the Order.

And finally, there is another reason why Pius is dear to my heart. One of the first relics I was given was an ex corpore of St Pius given to me by my late singing teacher, Evelyn Dowling. When I began my studies for the priesthood she entrusted it to me and commended me into his care. I have the relic just beside me now as I write. As it is a precious memento of the Saintly Pontiff, it is also a remembrance and connection with her, she was very much like a mother to me: so I will remember her in my Mass tomorrow; perhaps you might also remember her.

Pope St Pius X's simar and sash in the Carmelite Basilica of St Teresa of Avila, 
at our Curia on the Corso d'Italia, Rome

"Pro-Choice" Mask Has Slipped

Angry Wolf Desktop Wallpaper

No doubt many of you are following the latest abortion story in Ireland. For those of you who are not, in summary: a non-national (ie, non Irish person) seeks an abortion in Ireland. She claims she is suicidal and needs a "termination" to prevent her killing herself. A team of psychiatrists examine her and agree with her: a "termination" is necessary, as provided for under the newly passed Abortion Act. However, thankfully, it is decided that the baby is too far advanced and should not be killed, but rather delivered by Cesarean section and given a chance to live: but the pregnancy will still be "terminated". This was done and now the pro-abortion movement in Ireland has erupted in indignation, they are calling for the new abortion bill to be scrapped or amended. They are calling for the Constitutional protection of the unborn child to be repealed. They are looking for heads on plates. Why? Because a baby lived. To put it bluntly: they want the baby dead.

Now we know that is what pro-choice advocates have always wanted. It is not about saving lives, it isn't even about choice. It is about killing unwanted babies. Abortion is just another form of contraception. What is really surprising is that the pro-choice brigade have let the mask slip. As a little baby is struggling for life, they are furious that he or she is alive. The child, in their view, should have been torn apart in its mother's womb and dumped: refused life, refused not just the dignity due to another human being, but the very definition of human being: it is only an inconvenient thing which should be discarded, regardless of how close it is to birth.

Inhuman? Yes, of course. Evil: yes, and I would go so far to say, Satanic. But now they feel confident enough to reveal the naked agenda they have been pursuing for so long, they no longer see the need to hide what they really want. The mask has slipped, it is gone, and perhaps it is gone because they know many people will not even notice now. And that is a commentary on Irish society, and certainly on political life in Ireland. Some of those who are indignant are public representatives, the same people who wanted to force through a flawed Constitutional Amendment on children's rights, the same people who were white hot in fury as they condemned the Catholic Church for its failures in protecting children, yet now they are not happy that a little baby is alive: they want him or her dead. Selective indignation, oh yes. But that's part of the pro-choice game. And part of that game is demonizing those who seek to defend the lives of vulnerable children while caring for their mothers. 

As all this happens, as it is considered acceptable and good and it is defended tooth and nail, I can only wonder where our society is going? Do the weak and vulnerable have a future here, or will they be thrown to the wolves, considered unworthy of life because somebody has made a choice not to accept them? 

St Genesius Novena Day 4

Meditating on the Lord's Prayer with St Genesius

Thy Kingdom come

Who is the Lord? St Genesius had to answer that question as his heart pondered over the teachings of Christ he had heard. And where is his kingdom? Is it confined to heaven? Or is it also here on earth? Living in the age we do we are told that the world is secular: religion and faith have no place here, they may exist within the private realm of individuals but only to remain there. Yet in his teachings Jesus intends us to begin to make the kingdom of God present here on earth, not that this will be the kingdom – this world will pass away, but to make this world a place of preparation for the world to come. In praying that the kingdom may come we recognise that the world belongs to God and his children, we pray that his kingdom may be present in this world, in his children who live as citizens of that kingdom here and now in anticipation of, and preparing for, the eternal kingdom in the next life. The kingdom of God cannot be excluded from this life though men and women oppose it. It is the mission of the Church to make the kingdom of God present here, and as members of the Church that is our mission. How do we do so? Through prayer, yes. But first through our own lives conformed to the values of the kingdom of God, and then in our apostolic work winning souls for Christ, citizens of the kingdom who in turn join us in our mission.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

St Genesius Novena Day 3

Meditating on the Lord's Prayer with St Genesius

Hallowed be thy Name

The Name of God is holy. After he revealed it to Moses, the Jewish people venerated it so much they would not utter it for fear that they would become too familiar with it. They praised God’s name, cherished it and sought to proclaim it through their lives. They sought to offer everything in order that that holy name would be glorified and honoured. St Ignatius of Loyola had the same desire when he chose for the motto of the Society of Jesus: “For the greater glory of God”. Our lives are meant to glorify God, and in giving such glory to God’s name we are blessed and glorified in turn. May his name be held holy, may it be glorified and praised: such should be the prayer of the Christian; and so too the prayer of the artist. Gifted by God with tremendous creative talents, indeed sharing in the creative work of God the Father, the supreme Artist, human artists should seek to honour him with their work, inspire others to honour him and so win glory for themselves, for they will be immersing themselves in the work of the divine in doing so. St Genesius tried to do this. On stage following his conversion he sought to raise the work of drama into a work of praise and he won eternal glory for his efforts.

Monday, August 18, 2014

St Genesius Novena Day 2

Meditating on the Lord's Prayer with St Genesius

Who art in Heaven

Our true home is in heaven where God is: as children of the Eternal Father, as brothers and sisters of Christ, the house of God is our house, life there is our eternal destiny. Too often we can get caught up so much in the affairs of the world, building our home here, that we can forget that we must also be engaged in preparing for our home in heaven. Indeed we forget that what we do here, all that we do here, should be oriented towards our eternal home, also oriented towards helping our brothers and sisters set their sights on God’s house. God is in heaven, and he calls us to himself. He assists us to live lives that are full, meaningful and heroic, so we may enter into his kingdom as heirs, as his children, as citizens. St Genesius understood this. Though he may have been a slave of Rome, in faith he knew he was free-born in heaven through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Whatever may ail us here in life, whatever our cross, whatever the world has done to us or thinks of us, our true home is in heaven where God is, and as we seek to be citizens of that kingdom, we may begin living that citizenship here on earth.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

St Genesius Novena Day 1

Meditating on the Lord's Prayer with St Genesius

Our Father

The greatest revelation is not merely realising that God exists, but that he is our Father. It is easier to accept that a being greater than us may well exist than to accept that this being has a relationship with us, one more intimate than just being our Creator. To know that we are children of God, adopted through redemption and called to share eternal life in the House of our Divine Father, this is wondrous indeed. This was a revelation to St Genesius, it changed his life. The gods of Rome used humans as pawns in their intrigues against each other, in reality God sent his Son to earth as one of us and to offer his life as a sacrifice in atonement for our sins, to heal a breach between the human and the divine. This led Genesius to proclaim Christ and to lay down his own life for this truth rather than renounce the relationship he now had with God. May all remember that we are children of God; may we call the Eternal Father our Father, live our lives in the context of our relationship with him.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Francis In Korea

The Holy Father has arrived in Korea. His arrival was marked with missiles fired by North Korea in defiance. Thankfully they landed in the sea and not on the papal plane. But the gesture was merely symbolic, one of those crazy shows of strength the North Korean leader feels he has to make to remind the world that he is still the centre of the universe. The gesture, however, reveals the nature of relationships on the Korean peninsula, and the Holy Father, in his opening speech, referred to the continuing tensions between the two Korean countries. Officially a state of war still exists. In his talk Pope Francis called for peace, and in our prayers we must support that call.

The visit is highly symbolic, the Pope visits a divided people, and during that visit he will beatify a large group of martyrs from the 18th and 19th centuries, all Korean natives. Some Irish news media outlets have been reporting that the Irish Columban martyrs are among this group, they are not, their Cause is that of the Modern Korean Martyrs of the 20th Century and it has just opened. Given that the current regime in North Korea was responsible for the martyrdom of a number of those modern martyrs we can expect more than a few rockets flying in defiance when their beatification is to be celebrated.  That the Pope should be beatifying Catholics massacred for their Christian faith is poignant at the present time when Catholics in Iraq are also being massacred for their faith.  One day we may well see the beatification of many of those now being beheaded, crucified and shot, but as we reflect on the Koreans we must be emboldened to stand up to do what we can to save innocent lives today.

Let us pray for the Holy Father in this most important trip. Many believe the future of Catholicism is in the East, and it may well be. Certainly the Catholics of Korea have not only given us a wonderful example of fidelity to the faith, but in their endurance and continued testimony to the Gospel they have furrowed a field rich and ready for planting. 

Mass Of Solidarity: Spread the Word

There will be a Mass of Solidarity with the persecuted Christians of Iraq in St Teresa's Carmelite Church, Clarendon Street, Dublin, on Monday 18th August at 5.30pm. All are welcome. Spread the word.

A statement from the Iona Institute:

A Mass of Solidarity with the persecuted Christians and other religious minorities of Iraq will take place at 5.30pm this coming Monday (August 18) in St Teresa’s on Clarendon Street, Dublin 2.

What is currently unfolding in northern Iraq is one of the worst examples of religious persecution in many years. The Islamic State has driven tens of thousands of Christians and Yazidis from their homes. Many have been killed.

Christianity has existed in Iraq since before it arrived in Ireland. The Christians of Iraq are the descendants of the Assyrians, the pre-Arabic people of the region.

The persecution of Christians is now worse and more widespread than at any point in the history of Christianity. Christians and other religious minorities are being subjected to varying degrees of persecution in almost half of Africa and most of Asia.

The Mass on Monday will be an opportunity to show of solidarity with the Yazidis and with our suffering fellow Christian believers in Iraq.

Please spread the word so as many people will attend as possible.

There may be a collection for Aid to the Church in Need after Mass.