Sunday, April 09, 2017

PALM SUNDAY POPE BENEDICT XVI SPOKE

TWELFTH CENTURY SPANISH DEPICTION OF OUR LORD'S ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM




 CELEBRATION OF PALM SUNDAY OF THE PASSION OF OUR LORD

 HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI Saint Peter's Square 22nd World Youth DaySunday, 1st April 2007

 Dear Brothers and Sisters, In the Palm Sunday procession we join with the crowd of disciples who in festive joy accompany the Lord during his entry into Jerusalem. Like them, we praise the Lord with a loud voice for all the miracles we have seen. Yes, we too have seen and still see today the wonders of Christ: how he brings men and women to renounce the comforts of their lives and devote themselves totally to the service of the suffering; how he gives men and women the courage to oppose violence and deceit, to make room for truth in the world; how, in secret, he persuades men and women to do good to others, to bring about reconciliation where there had been hatred and to create peace where enmity had reigned. The procession is first and foremost a joyful witness that we bear to Jesus Christ, in whom the Face of God became visible to us and thanks to whom the Heart of God is open to us. In Luke's Gospel, the account of the beginning of the procession in the vicinity of Jerusalem is in part modelled literally on the rite of coronation with which, according to the First Book of Kings, Solomon was invested as heir to David's kingship (cf. I Kgs 1: 33-35). Thus, the procession of the Palms is also a procession of Christ the King: we profess the Kingship of Jesus Christ, we recognize Jesus as the Son of David, the true Solomon, the King of peace and justice. Recognizing him as King means accepting him as the One who shows us the way, in whom we trust and whom we follow. It means accepting his Word day after day as a valid criterion for our life. It means seeing in him the authority to which we submit. We submit to him because his authority is the authority of the truth. The procession of the Palms - as it was at that time for the disciples - is primarily an expression of joy because we are able to recognize Jesus, because he allows us to be his friends and because he has given us the key to life. This joy, however, which is at the beginning, is also an expression of our "yes" to Jesus and our willingness to go with him wherever he takes us. The exhortation with which our Liturgy today begins, therefore, correctly interprets the procession as a symbolic representation of what we call the "following of Christ": "Let us ask for the grace to follow him", we said. The expression "following of Christ" is a description of the whole of Christian existence. In what does it consist? What does "to follow Christ" actually mean? At the outset, with the first disciples, its meaning was very simple and immediate: it meant that to go with Jesus these people decided to give up their profession, their affairs, their whole life. It meant undertaking a new profession: discipleship. The fundamental content of this profession was accompanying the Teacher and total entrustment to his guidance. The "following" was therefore something external, but at the same time very internal. The exterior aspect was walking behind Jesus on his journeys through Palestine; the interior aspect was the new existential orientation whose reference points were no longer in events, in work as a source of income or in the personal will, but consisted in total abandonment to the will of Another. Being at his disposal, henceforth, became the raison d'ĂȘtre of life. In certain Gospel scenes we can recognize quite clearly that this means the renouncement of one's possessions and detachment from oneself. But with this it is also clear what "following" means for us and what its true essence is for us: it is an interior change of life. It requires me no longer to be withdrawn into myself, considering my own fulfilment the main reason for my life. It requires me to give myself freely to Another - for truth, for love, for God who, in Jesus Christ, goes before me and shows me the way. It is a question of the fundamental decision no longer to consider usefulness and gain, my career and success as the ultimate goals of my life, but instead to recognize truth and love as authentic criteria. It is a question of choosing between living only for myself or giving myself - for what is greater. And let us understand properly that truth and love are not abstract values; in Jesus Christ they have become a person. By following him, I enter into the service of truth and love. By losing myself I find myself. Let us return to the liturgy and the procession of the Palms. In it the Liturgy has provided as the hymn Psalm 24[23]. In Israel this was also a processional hymn used in the ascent to the hill of the temple. The Psalm interprets the interior ascent, of which the exterior ascent is an image, and explains to us once again what it means to ascend with Christ. "Who can ascend the mountain of the Lord?" the Psalm asks and specifies two essential conditions. Those who ascend it and truly desire to reach the heights, to arrive at the true summit, must be people who question themselves about God. They must be people who scan their surroundings seeking God, seeking his Face. Dear young friends, how important precisely this is today: not merely to let oneself be taken here and there in life; not to be satisfied with what everyone else thinks and says and does. To probe God and to seek God. Not letting the question about God dissolve in our souls; desiring what is greater, desiring to know him - his Face... The other very concrete condition for the ascent is this: He "who has clean hands and a pure heart" can stand in the holy place. Clean hands are hands that are not used for acts of violence. They are hands that are not soiled with corruption, with bribery. A pure heart - when is the heart pure? A heart is pure when it does not pretend and is not stained with lies and hypocrisy: a heart that remains transparent like spring water because it is alien to duplicity. A heart is pure when it does not estrange itself with the drunkenness of pleasure, a heart in which love is true and is not only a momentary passion. Clean hands and a pure heart: if we walk with Jesus, we ascend and find the purification that truly brings us to that height to which man is destined: friendship with God himself. Psalm 24[23], which speaks of the ascent, ends with an entrance liturgy in front of the temple gate: "Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! That the King of glory may come in". In the old liturgy for Palm Sunday, the priest, arriving in front of the church, would knock loudly with the shaft of the processional cross on the door that was still closed; thereupon, it would be opened. This was a beautiful image of the mystery of Jesus Christ himself who, with the wood of his Cross, with the power of his love that is given, knocked from the side of the world at God's door; on the side of a world that was not able to find access to God. With his Cross, Jesus opened God's door, the door between God and men. Now it is open. But the Lord also knocks with his Cross from the other side: he knocks at the door of the world, at the doors of our hearts, so many of which are so frequently closed to God. And he says to us something like this: if the proof that God gives you of his existence in creation does not succeed in opening you to him, if the words of Scripture and the Church's message leave you indifferent, then look at me - the God who let himself suffer for you, who personally suffers with you - and open yourself to me, your Lord and your God. It is this appeal that we allow to penetrate our hearts at this moment. May the Lord help us to open the door of our hearts, the door of the world, so that he, the living God, may arrive in his Son in our time, and reach our life. Amen. Thus, the procession of the Palms is also a procession of Christ the King: we profess the Kingship of Jesus Christ, we recognize Jesus as the Son of David, the true Solomon, the King of peace and justice. Recognizing him as King means accepting him as the One who shows us the way, in whom we trust and whom we follow. It means accepting his Word day after day as a valid criterion for our life. It means seeing in him the authority to which we submit. We submit to him because his authority is the authority of the truth. The procession of the Palms - as it was at that time for the disciples - is primarily an expression of joy because we are able to recognize Jesus, because he allows us to be his friends and because he has given us the key to life. This joy, however, which is at the beginning, is also an expression of our "yes" to Jesus and our willingness to go with him wherever he takes us. 

                                            Pope Benedict XVI     PALM SUNDAY

The exhortation with which our Liturgy today begins, therefore, correctly interprets the procession as a symbolic representation of what we call the "following of Christ": "Let us ask for the grace to follow him", we said. The expression "following of Christ" is a description of the whole of Christian existence. In what does it consist? What does "to follow Christ" actually mean? At the outset, with the first disciples, its meaning was very simple and immediate: it meant that to go with Jesus these people decided to give up their profession, their affairs, their whole life. It meant undertaking a new profession: discipleship. The fundamental content of this profession was accompanying the Teacher and total entrustment to his guidance. The "following" was therefore something external, but at the same time very internal. The exterior aspect was walking behind Jesus on his journeys through Palestine; the interior aspect was the new existential orientation whose reference points were no longer in events, in work as a source of income or in the personal will, but consisted in total abandonment to the will of Another. Being at his disposal, henceforth, became the raison d'ĂȘtre of life. In certain Gospel scenes we can recognize quite clearly that this means the renouncement of one's possessions and detachment from oneself. But with this it is also clear what "following" means for us and what its true essence is for us: it is an interior change of life. It requires me no longer to be withdrawn into myself, considering my own fulfilment the main reason for my life. It requires me to give myself freely to Another - for truth, for love, for God who, in Jesus Christ, goes before me and shows me the way. It is a question of the fundamental decision no longer to consider usefulness and gain, my career and success as the ultimate goals of my life, but instead to recognize truth and love as authentic criteria. It is a question of choosing between living only for myself or giving myself - for what is greater. And let us understand properly that truth and love are not abstract values; in Jesus Christ they have become a person. By following him, I enter into the service of truth and love. By losing myself I find myself. Let us return to the liturgy and the procession of the Palms. In it the Liturgy has provided as the hymn Psalm 24[23]. In Israel this was also a processional hymn used in the ascent to the hill of the temple. The Psalm interprets the interior ascent, of which the exterior ascent is an image, and explains to us once again what it means to ascend with Christ. "Who can ascend the mountain of the Lord?" the Psalm asks and specifies two essential conditions. Those who ascend it and truly desire to reach the heights, to arrive at the true summit, must be people who question themselves about God. They must be people who scan their surroundings seeking God, seeking his Face. Dear young friends, how important precisely this is today: not merely to let oneself be taken here and there in life; not to be satisfied with what everyone else thinks and says and does. To probe God and to seek God. Not letting the question about God dissolve in our souls; desiring what is greater, desiring to know him - his Face... The other very concrete condition for the ascent is this: He "who has clean hands and a pure heart" can stand in the holy place. Clean hands are hands that are not used for acts of violence. They are hands that are not soiled with corruption, with bribery. A pure heart - when is the heart pure? A heart is pure when it does not pretend and is not stained with lies and hypocrisy: a heart that remains transparent like spring water because it is alien to duplicity. A heart is pure when it does not estrange itself with the drunkenness of pleasure, a heart in which love is true and is not only a momentary passion. Clean hands and a pure heart: if we walk with Jesus, we ascend and find the purification that truly brings us to that height to which man is destined: friendship with God himself. Psalm 24[23], which speaks of the ascent, ends with an entrance liturgy in front of the temple gate: "Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! That the King of glory may come in". In the old liturgy for Palm Sunday, the priest, arriving in front of the church, would knock loudly with the shaft of the processional cross on the door that was still closed; thereupon, it would be opened. This was a beautiful image of the mystery of Jesus Christ himself who, with the wood of his Cross, with the power of his love that is given, knocked from the side of the world at God's door; on the side of a world that was not able to find access to God. With his Cross, Jesus opened God's door, the door between God and men. Now it is open. But the Lord also knocks with his Cross from the other side: he knocks at the door of the world, at the doors of our hearts, so many of which are so frequently closed to God. And he says to us something like this: if the proof that God gives you of his existence in creation does not succeed in opening you to him, if the words of Scripture and the Church's message leave you indifferent, then look at me - the God who let himself suffer for you, who personally suffers with you - and open yourself to me, your Lord and your God. It is this appeal that we allow to penetrate our hearts at this moment. May the Lord help us to open the door of our hearts, the door of the world, so that he, the living God, may arrive in his Son in our time, and reach our life. Amen.

Friday, April 07, 2017

2016 THERE'S NO GETTING AWAY FROM IT!

I guess the approach of a  Birthday does it!  This post first appeared on 8th April ,2016.


FUNERAL OF POPE SAINT JOHN PAUL II
Try as you may, there IS no getting away from it.


But, undaunted, the Greek Philosopher Epicurus ( 341 B.C. to 270.B.C.) took a pot shot at the phenomenon and tried to get people to avoid any undue panic. here is his take on the situation :

"Death is nothing in us,
  since when we are,
  death has not come,
  and when death has come,
  we are not."

Neatly stated. 

Some 2,200 years later the Austrian - British Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein ( 1889- 1951) thought he would have a shot at expanding consideration of the point :

" Death is not an event in life:
   we do not live to experience death.
   
   If we take Eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but
   timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the   
   present.

   Our life has no end in the way in which our visual field has no limits."

In typical Wittgensteinian fashion he has succeeded in  wrecking the elegance of the original proposition, whilst introducing new elements for examination in a pretentious manner which has all the sharpness of a bullet head after being fired at armor -plated steel. None.

It is interesting to look at his technique.  He derails the original consideration by using the idea that we do not " live to experience death"  - but this is a straw man - no-one has ever suggested we do. But the real point is - and Wittgenstein avoids it - we cannot in our lives  avoid the event of death.      
    
He does do something useful by introducing the idea of Eternity and at least mentioning it , in contrast to time, but, rather than considering it he abandons it to leap to a flawed conclusion :"...eternal life belongs to those who live in the present." This is totally self-contradictory. To be "in the present" is to be in time, to be in time is by definition to be outside the eternal.  It follows then that when he jumps to his intended "profound" assertion that our life has no end in the way in which our visual field has no limits, we are being presented with empty posturing. Our visual field always has limits set both by the eye and the scene. The event of death clearly brings an end to our life in the present, in time.

Eternal life is promised to us Catholics in its proper place - in Eternity.

But thank you Mr Wittgenstein for raising the subject of Eternity.

I suspect that very many, if not most people think of Eternity as " a very, very, very long time. We can even see hints of this type of thinking in the poetic license of parts of Sacred Scripture  : "  For a day in your courts , is better than a thousand elsewhere"(Psalm 84:10)

But Eternity is NOT a long time, not even a very, very, very long time.  NO , Eternity is no time. literally no time - it has nothing to do with time.  This is hard for us to come to terms with since we really only know time. But if we are to make our feeble efforts toward thinking about the incomprehensible God , it is helpful to try to consider the reality of Eternity.

How else can we really begin to appreciate the awesome marvel of the Incarnation? That God came crashing through from Eternity into time to take human flesh in the Womb of the Blessed Virgin, in order to redeem us from our sins and make possible our return to be with Him in Heaven as He had always intended - if only we will.

Plainly we have a lot of reflecting to do, but Mr Wittgenstein is not much help. The ancient pagan Epicurus is in fact nearer to being of help, purely because of the clarity of his thinking and his expression.

  

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

2017 SOCIAL COMMENTARY :LOOK! LOOK AT WHAT THE MASS MEDIA IS HIDING

 How can I get you to read something that has all the triggers that would normally turn you off? Strange names, unfamiliar subject matter? Far away troubled places? People in dire trouble?

I could show you shocking pictures But you would turn away. I could show you charming, delightful pictures, but you would think I was appealing for money, and turn away.

Let me try to give you some simple background to make the strange names less forbidding, that will make the subject matter less unfamiliar, that will open your eyes and minds to a brilliant, charming and energetic people and their plight. No I won't try to shock you, I hate that sort of image too, nor will I swamp you with saccharine images. And I certainly won't be asking you for money.


THE SCENE

The scene is AFRICA. And NO - it is not the "dark continent" . Rather it is a world in itself- colourful and bright with rolling plains and lofty mountains, vast sand deserts , thousands of miles of coastline,and, yes you can have some jungle.But for every square mile of jungle you will find twenty or more square miles of plains reminding you of Australia. But unlike Australia , you will find numerous great and majestic rivers, abundant and exotic wildlife from the largest to the least and most important of all you will find the treasure of Africa. The treasure? Her peoples- many and varied from the tall to the short , from coal black to palest coffee coloured. Peoples rich in culture, intelligence, charm and wit and ancient and modern achievement- largely unknown to most modern Australians.

But the main scene for our concern is in West Africa  - Nigeria it is called following its invention by the British. In one of the most unfortunate acts of colonial administration, the British bundled together groups of peoples around the mighty Niger River, and decided to put them together into one "Country" and call it Nigeria. They were not asked to consent, no-one bothered about the existing self-government they traditionally had. No one bothered about the fact that the people in the North of the region(of the Hausa/Fulani tribes) were Mohammedans whilst the people in the southern half were predominantly Christian Igbo (East) and Yoruba (West). Quite arbitrarily the British manipulated the arrangements to ensure that the northern Mohammedans would achieve and retain political dominance - they were , by and large, more amenable to manipulation, whereas the Yoruba had a "born to rule " attitude and the Igbo were dynamic, active highly intelligent and independent minded.





ETHNIC MAP OF NIGERIA
And so it stumbled along, until the post-war crisis as the Empire liquidated itself and gave independence to its former colonies. Then those interior stresses came into play. The result was coup, a counter coup, confusion and a horrendous civil war for secession by the Igbo people proclaiming their independence in the state of BIAFRA.. The great powers did not publicly get involved.But we now know that Britain strove mightily to have Nigeria win, France gave some help to BIAFRA as did the USA especially when Nigeria resorted to starvation as a policy to destroy BIAFRA - it amounted to a hideous genocide in which millions died.


GEN Yakubu GOWON the well-educated and articulate
Leader of Nigeria
Now read on :
GEN. EMEKA OJUKWU  The well-educated articulate
leader of BIAFRA



THE BIAFRAN QUESTION; YAKUBU GOWON AND NIGERIA AT A GLANCE.
By Charles Ogbu.
It is beyond argument that the pains, the deaths, the misery, the agonies, the artificial identity crises as well as the tragedies of the Biafran war could have been avoided had the Nigerian authorities, represented by the then head of state, Yakubu Gowon, not chosen to breach the Aburi Accord they had with Ojukwu which would have led to a Confederacy, which in turn, would have seen an end to the anti-Igbo pogrom in the North which was the main cause of the war.
To this end, I hold Yakubu Gowon personally responsible for the wars and woes of the Igbos before, during and immediately after the Biafran war because he was the Commander-In-Chief all through those period.
You refused to protect a people. Your own soldiers even joined the Northern mob in going from house to house killing Igbos.
The same you still violated the last agreement which would have saved the situation.
When the people you not only chose not to protect but participated in killing, decided to declare their territory as a Sovereign State Of Biafra in a desperate bid to save themselves from annihilation, you responded by conniving with your murderous allies to bomb them. You didn't just bomb them, you broke all 'Rules Of Engagement' by specifically targeting women and Children and other civilians rather than concentrating on soldiers.
In war, all sides have both moral and legal duty to protect civilians. As the extant country which was supposedly fighting to bring back one of its component units, the Nigerian state had more moral and legal responsibility to protect civilians from both the Nigerian side and the Biafran side. Ironically, the Nigeria side deliberately targeted Biafran civilians in Asaba and other places with bullets and bombs and cut foreign agency-donated food and medical supply from them.
This is nothing short of war crime. The fact that war criminals like Gowon yet walk the earth, a free man, remains a moral tragedy!
Even after the war and despite declaring the so called 3Rs, Igbo infrastructures destroyed during the war weren't reconstructed. Rather than being rehabilitated, Igbos were robbed of their monies and their jobs. And their properties were tagged "abandoned properties" and confiscated. They was no genuine attempt by the Nigerian state under Gowon to either reconcile or re-integrate Igbos into the society. And there has been none so far.
So basically, the 3Rs declared by the Gowon govt was one hell of an original fake. A ruse. A grand deception. And a farce.
I find it criminally offensive that almost 50 years after, the Angas-born ex-soldier (Gowon) has not shown any form of remorse neither has he tendered any form of apology to the Igbos nor availed us of his own account of the tragic event in form of a book to enable us learn one or two things just so we could avoid repeating history. Instead, the genocidist is going from state to state subjecting the name of God to ridicule by heading a prayer group known as "Nigeria Prays" after killing not less than 3 million civilians, mostly women and children in a war that could have been avoided had he been a man of his word.
On her own part, the Nigerian state has continued to tread the same path that led to the war. Even worse is her attempt to ensure that the victims were not just denied justice but that the memories of the Biafran war were forcefully deleted from the minds of younger generation of Igbos.
Less than a million people died in Rwandan genocide, but decades after, people who committed crime during the unfortunate event are still being hunted down and punished. On March 20th,2017, the Catholic Pope tendered an unreserved apology to the Rwanda president for what he termed "sins and failings" of the church during the genocide. And there are memorials in honour of the victims of the 1994 tragedy. The survivors have since found closure and both the Hutus and the Tutsis now live a communal life due to genuine effort at justice and reconciliation by the authorities in Kigali.
Victims of the holocaust are still being gifted with justice, long after their bones have been interred.
But here, in Nigeria, rather than getting justice, victims of the Biafran war are still being subjected to a repeat of the war, though in a repackaged form. The dead civilian victims have not only been denied justice, their children are being killed and sprayed with acid simply for daring to organize a memorial church service in their honour.
I have asked this question before and it bears repeating now:
Why is the Nigerian state acting like a man whose brain has since seceded from the rest of his body with regards to the Biafran question?
For how long will Nigeria keep using brute force and gory displays of violence in a desperate bid to get Igbos to forget Biafra even when all the grave injustices, killings and institutionalized marginalization which birthed the Biafran war are still very much here and still being perpetrated by the same Nigerian state against the same Igbos?
Does the Nigeria govt really think that by killing the unarmed Biafran youths and imprisoning the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, even against court order, the Igbos will suddenly delete Biafra from their mind, invent closure from nowhere and dance 'Kumbaya' as though the event of 1967-70 never happened?
What exactly is the rationale behind this very heinous and despicable attempt to ride roughshod over a people's pain and misery?
Just like 1967, the Igbos simply want justice and fairness and a well restructured Nigeria where they can maximise their full potentials and compete with the rest of the world. But by violating the Aburi Confederacy Accord and chosen to kill over 3 million Igbos and even continuing on that murderous path till date, coupled with the fact that the current govt of Muhammadu Buhari has since dumped the Report of the last National Confab which was about Restructuring, the Nigerian authorities have proven beyond doubt that they cannot be trusted to restructure this country.
This is exactly why we want our own separate space where we can run our affairs and develop our land without being killed each time some Cartoonist draw the cartoon of Muhammad in far away Denmark.
This is not too much to ask!
Indeed, it is an impossible task trying to reason with a country that is deaf, dumb and blind to the sanctity of human lives.
Nigeria was built on so many things. But certainly, justice ain't one of those.

Monday, April 03, 2017

CHRIST AND ECUMENISM -"AGAINST US" AND "FOR US"

 CHRIST AND ECUMENISM  -"AGAINST US" AND "FOR US"


IMAGE OF OUR LORD FROM THE HAGIA SOPHIA IN CONSTANTINOPLE
THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY WISDOM
The Gospel of the Mass of Thursday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time (Year 1) is amongst the shortest we encounter in the three year cycle : Mark 9: 38-40. It concludes with Jesus saying to Saint John : "....Anyone who is not against us is for us". This is said in the context of the disciples trying to stop a non-disciple driving out devils in the Lord's Name, and Jesus telling them that they must not stop him.

This passage has, in recent years, led some homilists to proceed from this  statement to say that it means that Catholics should be more open to the good works done by other Christian "communities"But is this a proper analysis of the passage?


Who?


" Anyone who is not against us...." clearly Jesus is excluding people who would oppose His teachings when He uses the words " against us", from acting in His Name.


As Catholics, we are blessed with the fullness of Christ's Truth entrusted to His Church to teach and to safeguard. This fact is not a matter of despised " Triumphalism", nor is it evidence of some defect in our stance. No, it is just a fact that we are bound to acknowledge and act upon accordingly.It is as much a responsibility as anything else.


But Christians in "other communities" - what are they about? Without exception they are holders of views which contradict and thus oppose Christ's teachings. If they are Anglicans, they reject the Petrine Ministry Christ Himself established, the Priesthood He established, the Magisterium He established, parts of the sacred Scripture He has provided to us and any one or more  of a smorgasbord of varying positions contrary to the Truth that they might choose to hold. If they are Lutherans, much the same is true. If they are followers of one of the 40,000 other Protestant " communities" they hold even more, and more radically opposed beliefs.


It is obvious that every Protestant is fundamentally opposed to some of Christ's Truth, and is therefore " against us".


The pursuit of "niceness" and "inclusion" in the modern World leads some to take a very superficial view of Sacred Scripture, even in some cases a very selective view. But this does no one any good, and it is a very false "Charity" 


More importantly, it is not true to Jesus Christ, in either His words or His actions.


Getting it right


Rather than seeking to re-interpret what Jesus said, in order to accommodate the spirit of the Age, we should be exercising authentic Charity. The learned Bishop Lucius Ogorji of Umuahia in Nigeria in recent years reminded the congregation of Saint Stephen's Cathedral in Brisbane, that the prime example of Charity is Evangelisation - taking Christ's Truth out to those who do not believe or know it. Of course that is more difficult and demanding than mere "niceness". 


But it IS being faithful to Jesus Christ.


This not to say that we should disregard the good works  done by some who oppose the fullness of Truth. But we simply need to appreciate precisely what Jesus said and regard these otherwise good folk as needing conversion to Christ's Church . For after all, in their other proceedings they are daily leading people away from Christ's Truth and from His Church and the unity He desired for His followers.




Let us never forget  Who we serve, and who we are, and that we must serve Him according to His Will.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

PROTESTANT'S SCRIPTURAL CAFETERIA

PROTESTANTS’ SCRIPTURAL CAFETERIA



My Great Great Great Grandfather - Lutheran - created this heroic statue of Martin Luther- this is the mythical man so much admired by Adolf Hitler and many others - the founder of Protestantism and arch defacer of Sacred Scripture. Luther was also a vicious anti-Semite, alcoholic and womaniser and more importantly a Blasphemer. 



There was a time when some Catholics believed that Protestants knew more about the Bible than Catholics generally speaking did.

But the reality was always rather different.

The Protestantism of that time was based on parts of the Bible- the parts that were convenient for the few hundred years of deteriorating  ideas that constituted Protestant concepts -  which had increasingly led them back into the Old Testament. This fact was reflected in the Victorian era Protestant affection for Old Testament names, which was  evident in the American Civil War, from ABRAHAM Lincoln to Gen. JUBAL Early, not to mention the peppering of Jedediahs, Hezekiahs, Moses etc. The Old Testament was for them, happily free of mention of "Thou art Peter and upon this Rock...", "Unless a man eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood......"and "Whatsoever thou shalt bind upon Earth...."and all those Catholic  commissioning words  Our Divine Lord had spoken.



                                              "Her eyes always fixed firmly on the Lord."

 But the Catholic Church, sure of her foundation,with her eyes always fixed firmly on the Lord, and sustained by His seven Sacraments, has always been happy to embrace the whole of Sacred Scripture. She has from her beginnings two millennia ago, integrated Sacred Scripture into her Liturgy and her Liturgy of the Hours. She also knows the Truth about the Communion of Saints and has rejoiced in celebrating the memory of her members who have gone to their reward for heroic sanctity, by marking specially the Commemoration of their entry into Eternal Life and by naming little infants for them and seeking their patronage and intercession.



CHRIST - The ALPHA and the OMEGA
for the Catholic Church He says' I  AM WITH YOU ALL DAYS...'
It is ironic really, that in the eternally fragmenting realm of Protestantism, some of the sects have even come to call themselves "Full Gospel" churches. They are,  of course, nothing like it.Like the "Peoples'Republic of China"etc. their very name contradicts their reality.

Strangely, most Protestants never think where the Bible came from. That is to say , who said what constitutes the Bible! They are shocked to learn that it was a Council of the same Catholic Church they have been taught to loathe, and look at askance, for generations.

Catholics, it is true do not normally learn limited passages of Sacred Scripture deliberately by heart, much less have off pat Chapter And Verse of a few passages for quoting in the Protestant manner. Rather, from continual repetition in the Sacred Liturgy and in prayers and preaching, they instantly recognize, and more importantly, appreciate the true significance of, a broad spectrum of scriptural passages and situations.As has been said decades ago , and repeated by our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, Truth is symphonic - there is no dissonance in authentic Catholic teaching, preaching and worship and Sacred Scripture.


Centre of Christianity, St Peter's Basilica is raised above The Apostle's Tomb
on the Vatican Hill across the ancient road from Nero's Circus where "the Rock"was crucified upside down as he said he was unworthy to die as the Lord had done.


We should thank God for the activity of the Holy Spirit in Christ’s Church guaranteeing her free from error until the end of time. For this very reason, our ecumenical activity has to be necessarily, discreet, carefully measured and circumspect.

This is even more true in these times, in which many Protestant organizations have even abandoned the Old Testament as well as the New testament as they have pursued apparent "relevance" at the expense of even claiming an interest in, or conviction that there is, Truth. More and more of them have ended up in the doctrine free zone the Unitarians entered perhaps 100 years ago. Even in the one organisation it is possible to find the wildest extremes in positions, from something approaching Christian belief to a sort of licentious social democracy which feels scant need for, let alone belief in, a God, as long as you are Green, Homosexual and Feminist.

We should always remember in our prayers the need for the conversion of Protestants and engage in authentic ecumenical activity toward that end.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

EMOTIONALISM VERSUS CATHOLICISM


Your Scribe standing happily before Saint Peter's Basilica in 2009

                            
At the heart of Catholicism is Faith. Faith in the God Man Jesus Christ who died on the Cross to bring to everyone everywhere the chance of Salvation -  if they choose it.For this reason He established his Church which, after only a few decades came to be called Catholic - that is universal.

The handmaid of that Faith, in authentic Catholicism ,has always been Reason.The relationship has been explicit since the time of Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas later on.In more recent times it was thoroughly examined by Blessed Pope John Paul II ( soon to be Saint if media reports are true) in his Encyclical " Fides et Ratio" - Faith and Reason.

In the course of a casual exchange with friends to-day, it became clearer to me how very much this insistence on " Reason" has put the Catholic Church at odds with the modern world. At first blush, this might seem odd for an institution founded on Faith. For the modern world in its glibness, would inevitably assume Faith to be the antithesis of Reason.

But strangely enough, it is largely the modern world that has abandoned the use of Reason. Reason flourishes on truth - and the modern world is inclined to reject the very concept of absolute truth.

Instead we are increasingly experiencing a world run on Emotionalism.And this Emotionalism slides so easily past truths , whilst making "everyone" feel good in the process. This phenomenon frequently brings the modern world into direct confrontation with the Catholic Church. Furthermore it is often used as an instrument when the Catholic Church is singled out for attack.

And Emotionalism walks happily hand in hand with " Niceness" which is the adopted badge of the modern world .

Let us look at this phenomenon in action. The Catholic Church opposes in vitro fertilisation for the sound logical reason that in the process of its operation, very many "unwanted" fertilised human eggs are destroyed once the desired fertilised human egg has been implanted. These are true human lives - destroyed as " unwanted".The IVF Industry is a big one peopled by highly educated and remunerated professionals and its clients are emotion -stirring would-be but can't be parents.

The Industry and the Media employ the most primitive Emotionalism in defending and expanding  their patch. The newly become parents and the IVF child are used most effectively to melt hearts and promote the trade. Who can resist a new born baby and loving parents. The deceased "unwanted" are not to be seen - flushed away in secrecy.Not present to the parents' minds. Emotionalism 10  Reason NIL in the public mind.

If we need another example let us look at the selling of "Homosexuality" in the Media. We all know that the Catholic Church teaches that Same Sex Attraction is not in itself sinful but that Homosexual Genital Activity is.It follows rationally that the promotion of an active Homosexual Lifestyle is immoral. But in the mainstream media an active Homosexual Lifestyle IS actively promoted in TV ,Film, print media etc. In the Media active Homosexuals are presented as happy, handsome, nice, clean, socially acceptable and entertaining. They are inevitably shown as "fun" people.Anything that would disturb the Happy Emotionalism is hidden in secrecy. 

When recently a movie was made on the life of the late pianist  Liberace and his homosexual partner, it was apparently quite graphic concerning their more intimate life. It was not accepted for distribution by any of the American distribution networks. Morals? No! They simply did not want people to see, or rather they knew the 97% of the population not Homosexual did not want to see, the ugly truth about Homosexual life. Nothing must disturb the " nice" Emotionalism within which its promoters thrive with warm and fuzzy talk of "rights" and "equality" etc. So the field is left clear for their campaign to hide the reality.  Emotionalism 10 Reason NIL in the popular mind.

Again , let us consider the issue of Sexual Abuse. The Catholic Church is totally opposed to any form of sexual abuse by Clergy, Teachers or anybody for that matter. It is , nevertheless a fact that at any time it is possible that some cleric or teacher within the Church might abuse their position of trust in this matter. It is a patent fact that in the past, particularly in the 1960s, 70s and the early 80s the number of such offences rose to equal the level in the general population. Because of remedial action it has since fallen way back to its historical negligible level. ( So much so that in the USA where there are over 38,000 Catholic Priests, only 6 credible allegations were made according to an independent agency, in the last year.) 

But these are horrendous offences and several decades of victims, well organised by fee for success lawyers and the delight of the media are used to keep the matters alive by Emotionalism. No number of apologies by Priests, Bishops, Archbishops, Cardinals and Popes satisfies the cameras. Did you apologise? - you were insincere. Did you pay compensation? - not enough. Did you follow legal advice like we do ? - Heartless!

Of course the real victims themselves are tragic figures and one can understand their emotion and perhaps passionate demands. But the media and the lawyers and the victims organisers need to keep the thing going.Emotionalism is the means. Reason is nowhere welcome. Emotionalism 20 Reason Nil.

Sometimes the perverse influence of Emotionalism is more subtle. Take for instance, the bumper stickers which urge one to "Perform Random Acts of Kindness". But Christ's Catholic Church urges us to perform systematic acts of kindness, in fact to make our lives reflect God's Love at all times.The modern world's citizen is satisfied by Emotionalism's " niceness" and the quick fix of the idea of " random acts". None of that commitment stuff - " you can't expect me to change my life". 


The more we reflect on it, the more it becomes apparent to what extent people are abandoning Reason and embracing Emotionalism. How often do we hear people ( and even Government leaders) say " I feel that we need to..." Or " I feel it is time we....". It is so much easier to "feel" than to rationally argue why a thing ought to be done or to happen. And it is so much easier to hide unwelcome truths from people, or to act in a manner that cannot be justified, if one only has to tell them what one feels.


Emotion has its place. In fact it can often reflect a complex of ideas which we would find it difficult at the time to rationalise. But Emotionalism as a substitute for Reason is not only inadequate, it is mostly perverse.



Saturday, March 11, 2017

RESPECTING OUR UNIQUE POSITION AS CATHOLICS : HIDDEN TREASURE OF TRUTH

Serving With the Angels : This article was originally written and published by me in the November 1998 former Newsletter "FOUNDATION". It has to-day been amplified slightly to highlight the compelling reasoning of Pope Pius XI.



It is interesting how many treasures both sacred and profane get buried and forgotten with the passage of time -

tilling the soil in Ireland reveals a Mass kit buried for safety (its priestly owner perhaps executed before he could return for it), 

a vast hoard of Roman coins recovered at the bottom of the excavation of an English well (if only the barbarian attackers had known) or,

 a Papal Encyclical buried in the subsequent documentation of World War II and the Second Vatican Council “churchquake”. But the dust has settled and the advent of the computer database is shining light on some gems.

Eighty years ago the great Pope Pius XI issued the crystal clear gem of an encyclical Mortalium Animos on fostering true religious Unity.  He drew attention to what St. Cyprian says:

 “The Spouse of Christ cannot commit adultery; she is incorrupt and modest, she knows one house, she guards with chaste modesty the holiness of one room.” (De Cath. Ecclesiae Unitate, 6.) This same holy martyr marvelled, and with reason, how anyone could think that “the unity which proceeds from the stability of God and is bound together by the sacraments of Heaven could be torn asunder in the Church or separated by the wills of the discordant.” (Ibidem.)



SAINT JOHN by Titian
The great Pope goes on to emphasise
"All remember how John — the very Apostle of Charity who in his Gospel seems to have opened the secrets of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, and who always inculcated in the minds of his disciples the new commandment, Love ye one another — had wholly forbidden them to have relations with those who did not profess entire and uncorrupted the teachings of Christ. If any man cometh to you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house nor say to him, God speed you. (II John 10.) Since charity is founded in whole and sincere faith, the disciples of Christ must be united by the bond of unity in faith and by it as the chief bond."

Pope Pius XI uses his logical scalpel deftly and to great effect in Mortalium Animos :


"Since the Mystical Body of Christ, that is to say, the Church, is, like the physical body, a unity (I Cor. 12, 12), a compact thing closely joined together (Eph. 4, 16), it would be false and foolish to say that Christ’s Mystical Body could be composed of separated and scattered members. Whoever, therefore, is not united with it is not a member of it, nor does he communicate with its Head Who is Christ. No one is found in the one Church of Christ, and no one perseveres in it, unless he acknowledges and accepts obediently the supreme authority of St. Peter and his legitimate successors. (Emphasis added — Ed.) Did not the very ancestors of those who are entangled in the errors of Photius and the Protestants obey the Roman Bishop as the high shepherd of souls?"


Photius, it will be remembered was the heretical Patriarch of Constantinople who was the architect of the Great Schism over the "Filioque" Clause which the Council of Nicea added to the Creed, defining that the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father and the Son.


POPE PIUS XI UPON THE CATHEDRA IN THE LATERAN BASILICA


Strangely, Mortalium Animos  is not referred to in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, or in the Second Vatican Council documents. It seems then ironical, that it was last officially referred to by Pope Saint John XXIII in his very first encyclical Ad Petri Cathedram (To the Chair of Peter) in which he announced the Council ... “this unity, Venerable Brethren and beloved sons, must be solid, firm and sure, not transient, uncertain or unstable. Though there is no such unity in other Christian communities, all who look carefully can see that it is present in the Catholic Church.” (with footnote reference to Mortalium Animos).

The between the wars Pan Christian ecumenical movement, which Pius XI so decisively addressed, re-surfaced in the post-war period and in various ways tended to colour the post-Conciliar ecumenical project. In the late 1960s, 1970s and 1980s ecumenical fever brought on a great deal of irrational hopes, activity and talk. But in the 1990s and this century the fever has declined, leaving some confused, others lost, and the majority exchanging knowing looks, as one might when an
errant relative comes to his/her senses. 

The accelerating decay of the Anglican “Communion” and the libertarian excesses of the Uniting Church are only two examples of the shock therapy administered to Catholic ecumenical zealots. But 80 years ago the Pope, who - 
in 1930 with Casti Connubii exposed the intellectual fraud of the Anglican decision allowing for the practice of contraception and - 
in 1937 in Mit Brennender Sorge (With Burning Sorrow)  (smuggled into the Third Reich by a priest on bicycle) blasted the pathetic claims of superiority of race and nation and again-
 in 1937, with Divini Redemptoris, revealed the perversity of Communism, 
with clarity and powerful reasoning and the deftness of a scalpel-wielding surgeon, exposed the perils of, and the reality of the false ecumenism we have in recent decades suffered - and against whose “false irenicism” Pope Saint John Paul the Great repeatedly warned.


Pope Pius XI teaches with impeccable logic, with Saint Cyprian " one house.....one room", with Saint John : " ....receive him not.....", we cannot abandon logic, such a great Saint and the Apostle Jesus loved for a mess of "niceness" and equivocation.


SAINT CYPRIAN OF CARTHAGE




Pope Pius XI pray for us.