Mass times for Sundays and weekdays will now resume as normal from Sunday 22 November onwards.
Thursday, 19 November 2020
Second Last Sunday after Pentecost 15.11.20 Conversion
On a busy road there are cars going one way, and cars going the other way. We might wonder where the other side is going. Maybe they are getting out of the place where I am going?
Life is like that. We have to pick which road we are on, and work out if it is the right one, or do we need to change direction?
Everyone has some kind of creed or philosophy on which to base their lives, but it is very easy to pick on the wrong one.
There are so many conflicting opinions and beliefs out there in this age of too-much.
Then there are all the temptations to false gods: Come this way, and find happiness. False promises. Try this, try that; try anything and everything. The false gods have a way of looking true, but they will not satisfy.
We need the right road; only one will do. We know we have discovered it in Jesus Christ - the Way, the Truth, and the Life (Jn 14,6).
The Church has its own version of the roads going in opposite directions. Some people are coming in, while others are going out. Some people are just discovering the truth, and others are abandoning it at the same time.
We need people to come, but not to go.
Today’s parable of the mustard seed. We can call the Church a tree, or a flock, or a building, or a banquet… all these images convey unity in the truth, a refuge secure because it is based in Truth; actual reality , and not just someone’s opinion.
But how do we make the right decision? How can we help others do that?
If we look only at the human level, it is easy to find fault with the Church, and hence to leave, or not to join.
There are the scandals, keeping us mindful of too much humanity, and too little divinity at work!
Then, many Catholics lose their faith on encountering some alternative, articulately offered.
It is a good idea to turn off all electronic devices and spend time in prayer.
Prayer is good for many reasons, including the likelihood of finding the one true God: and with that, the right road to be on.
Looking upwards, we have God and Our Lady and all the courts of heaven, beckoning us to join them.
We can clear all the distractions and falsehoods in one bound. It does not have to take a long time to find the truth. If we are really seeking, the true God will make Himself known.
Once in the right relationship with Him then all else falls into place.
There is no doubt we will stay in the Church. We have found the way in, and will not be trying to get out.
Now we have work to do – helping others to see why they should join us.
One thing we must do is remove the scandal; any excuse people find not to join us.
Yes, we have contributed to the sin, but no more.
And where possible, we evangelise and catechise.
Our Lord says, Come! This is before we have even repented. The coming and the repenting are one movement, as we become aware of our guilt on one hand, and the joy of forgiveness on the other. We hasten to our true home, now completely sure which road to take!
Thursday, 12 November 2020
23rd Sunday after Pentecost 8.11.20 The Communion of saints
These are worrying times for us, as we try to defend the truth and the right in the face of bolder assaults on the Church, and all that we hold dear.
Your holy cities have become a wilderness; Zion has become a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. (Is 64,10).
We must do all we can. We pray, fast, live holy lives etc. and never give up.
With so many things to pray for, we might feel inadequate to make the prayer succeed.
We think of the saints working miracles left and right, and then doubt if we could do that! We can find strength when we need it. We do not have to go it alone. We might be alone physically when we pray, but we have the whole treasury of the Church to call upon.
The recent feasts of All Saints and All Souls remind us of our communal nature as the Church.
Your problems are my problems. Everyone else’s problems are our problems.
We can help each other, not just in a practical sense, but through mutual prayer, each helping the other to a deeper faith.
The whole Church is the Body of Christ with each part reliant on the other, and able to help each other stay alive.
We feel weak in many ways, but we draw strength from within this Body of faith, hope and charity. The strong should help the weak (Rm 15,1).
We might feel a lack of conviction sometimes but we know that others will believe what we may not; or they will believe it more strongly. The same applies for hope, and charity.
The Church has within her ranks those who believe with certainty, those who can hope despite adverse appearances; those who can love even when hated in return.
The steadfastness of the Church sustains us. Every day there is Mass, the Divine Office, other prayers and devotions going on - around the clock, and around the globe.
We are absorbed in that prayer, reinvigorated. Courage, hope, and all necessary qualities are restored for us.
The durability of the Church can be ours at the individual level. The Church has survived every kind of crisis. So can we. Even death will not defeat us.
There is a strength in the Church which far exceeds what any individual could manage.
The Church stands strong and tall, offering refuge to all who feel their inadequacy.
Individuals may falter; the Church stands firm.
We do not allow anything to deflect us. The faith of the whole Church is carrying us, weak individuals though we may be.
Our belonging to the Church makes us one. Thus the images of salvation presented in the Scriptures: we are one people, one flock, one tree, one building etc.
Being made one is itself part of the objective. Together we all learn to love God more, and place more trust in Him. We grow in love of neighbour, increasingly desiring the salvation of others.
We can always delve a little deeper into the spiritual treasury of the Church, and call on this combined power. Very likely we will feel stronger.
Even in this church now angels and saints are present. They join us, as we join them.
We are never alone when we pray. We may be physically alone but we are praying with, and for others. The needs of one are the needs of all. The strength of all is available to the individual.
All Saints and Holy Souls, pray for us.
Thursday, 5 November 2020
All Saints Day 1.11.20 Making sure of salvation
Today we celebrate the entry into Heaven of countless people, including very likely many we have known, such as our own family. Anyone who does get to Heaven is a saint, and they make up the ALL Saints of today’s feast.
It is comforting to know that ordinary people can get to Heaven. We do not have to be as good as the canonised saints.
Just how good do we have to be?
We must have at least some life in the soul; be in a state of grace. That will get us at least as far as Purgatory, and eventually Heaven. We want to be in a state of grace all the time, in case of sudden death.
While we can be aware of minimum requirements, it is much more helpful if we aim as high as possible.
We could think: Well, if the ordinary can make Heaven then I will be ordinary too, not exerting myself to do more than the bare minimum.
However if we are sensitive to the promptings of God we will see that God is attractive, that holiness is attractive and that is the path to follow.
It takes a little effort on our part but we do not begrudge that.
God wants us to apply some effort because that will engage our attention, and enable us to discover certain things we would never manage otherwise.
We will discover the joy of being in close union with Almighty God, a greater joy than any earthly experience could give us.
God wants us to reach a point where we love Him for His own sake, not just for what He can do for us.
At the end of time the question will be: Do you love Me?
We can love God to different degrees. We are meant to hunger for more, to seek God and all His goodness.
With this understanding we do not see prayer or other religious observances as a burden; they become attractive as well. It is a joy to pray as we sense coming closer to God.
It is a matter of desire. If we desire something enough we will easily discard other lesser desires.
Are we certain of getting to heaven? Some claim that they are certain; that they have made a decisive choice once and for all.
Others will claim certainty simply be relying on God’s love. If God loves me then He will not send me to Hell. This latter position is very common these days. There is no serious fear of Hell in such cases.
We are supposed to be confident of salvation but not complacent about it. Even St Paul said he had to be careful he would not fall (1 Cor 9,27).
Salvation is a process rather than a point in time. We are growing into our salvation rather than claiming to possess it like money in the bank.
Growing in the love of God is the best way forwards. We do not measure out our response; we simply go for more, then more again.
We seek to love God more each day than the day before.
We let ourselves be absorbed into His world. We grow in holiness, praying more, doing more good deeds.
If we fall, we quickly repent and get back on course.
By a combination of being good - or being sorry that we have not been so – we reach Heaven ourselves.
Not by our own merits but by the saving merits of Christ.
There we join in perpetual gratitude with the heavenly chorus (Rev 15,3).
All holy men and women pray for us. All angels and saints pray for us.
Thursday, 29 October 2020
Christ the King 25.10.20
We believe in one God, Creator of Heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen.
We believe firstly that there is a God. He actually exists, has always existed, and will never cease to exist.
We anchor ourselves on these points every time we come to Mass.
It is comforting that we have such a strong foundation on which to base our lives.
God is real and God is relevant. There are people who deny one or the other of these points.
They will say that God either does not exist, or if He does exist, that He is very remote, like a distant star, not really having any effect on us.
The modern movement on separating Church from State comes from this viewpoint.
Separating Church from State really means separating God from state, such that God is not welcome in His own universe!
God is the Creator of heaven and earth. Every inch of this earth is His property.
He does not always make His presence obvious as in physical miracles, but there are signs everywhere of His creative power at work. ( For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature, namely, His eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. Rom 1,19-20)
We will read also the signs that He gives us as to how to conduct our lives. The whole area of morality stems from God's closeness to us, and His desire that we understand right from wrong, and freely choose the right.
God tells us what is to be done and what to be avoided. He does this through the Church, which interprets His will, as made evident in Scripture and Tradition
The Church is unpopular for doing this, but it is vital that everyone has a chance to hear the word of God.
If we let God have a say in His own universe, we will actually be far better off than we are now.
Imagine a world where everybody did all the right things. Would you not prefer that?
We might have to give up a few vices but there would be ten-fold compensation.
We would be happier people, and better as well.
All the chaos of the present world and all our painful history can be attributed to disobedience on our part.
It is bad enough to disobey God, but when we try to keep Him from even having a voice, then we really are making trouble.
God wants us to know Him, not as a hard taskmaster, but as a loving Father.
If we can perceive that God means well towards us it will make it a lot easier for us to trust and obey Him.
We do not always trust our rulers; but God is a different matter – He is perfect.
Many people do not know God, whether through lack of instruction, or lack of prayer.
When we pray to God we come to know His ways, mysterious though some of them will always be.
But we get to know the basic ideas that God wants to impress upon us.
It will be a small number at first, as it always is. Then recognition will spread.
The kingdom is like a tree whose branches extend to all the world (cf Mt13,32)
If we know we should obey then it is only a matter of rousing the will to serve God. He can help us with that too. He tells us what to do and gives us the grace to do it.
Pope Pius XI probably did not get what he hoped for when he established this feast in 1925.
But it was a good idea all the same, as it is a good idea now to remind the world of the pressing need to give God due place.
Long live Christ the King, and may all His enemies become His subjects.
Friday, 23 October 2020
20th Sunday after Pentecost 18.10.20 Redeeming the age
Redeeming the time because the days are evil (Ep 5,16).
A holy life can redeem the times on two levels. (that of example which persuades, and making recompense to God, atonement for sin.)
Persuasion. We are the light of the world, And we should not put our light under a bushel (cf Mt 5,14-15). See how they love one another, an early commentator said.
There is no doubt that Christianity lived fully would have a profound effect on the surrounding society.
Many people have converted to the faith for just such a reason. They saw something they wanted for themselves. Peace, Joy, Love etc.
The first Pentecost is probably the clearest example of this. But there are many other times, eg the missionary work of St Francis Xavier or St Patrick.
When people see the real thing at least some of them will respond.
We have to do extra to make up for lost ground. Scandals and generally poor behaviour from the Christians sets the whole work back.
Bad behaviour does not take anything away from the truth of our faith; but psychologically it makes people less inclined to see our light on the hill.
Many cannot or will not make the distinction between the theoretical and the practical.
All the more reason for the rest of us to be holy. Which leads to Atonement. If everyone behaved we would have an easy time of it. But there are mountains of sin being committed every day, and this all has to be ‘redeemed’, compensated for.
We understand that it is the Precious Blood of Christ which atones for all the sin of the world.
We cannot atone by our own efforts because we do not have sufficient to give to God, even with the best will.
However, we can achieve a lot by being fully attentive and receptive to what God is doing by offering us the way of atonement.
The Precious Blood will have more effect in atoning for the sins of the world if at least some people cooperate in the process.
A few can atone for many, as with Abraham and his ten good men (Gen 18,23-32) or with the saints, who all had this intuition for making atonement.
When we make atonement for other people’s sins we are taking some of the pain due to them.
This is both a burden and a privilege. It is the way of Christ and all the saints.
Living holy lives is the way to help others: giving them good example, and helping atone for their sin.
This is easier said than done. Holiness requires a certain discipline and effort.
Some things come easier than others, like loving our mothers. But a lot of it requires a real wrenching away from disordered inclinations so that we can be moderate and balanced in all things.
One reason we come to Mass is to receive the grace we need to live holy lives.
We redeem the surrounding world by flooding it with the love of God. Having reached a point of sufficient sorrow for offending God's divine majesty, we can then bear fruits of holiness, the whole process spreading to all corners of the world.