Wednesday, 31 December 2008

New Year times

There will be two hours of prayer to ask God's blessings on the new year on Wednesday 31st Dec at Holy Name Church, Stepney: from 10pm to 12 midnight. We will end with Benediction and also pray the Te Deum and the Veni Creator.

Mass at St Monica's Walkerville at 8am on New Year's Day.

Every blessing for the New Year to all!

Monday, 29 December 2008

Sunday in Octave of Christmas 28 Dec 2008 Sermon

Sunday in Octave of Christmas 28.12.08 Identifying with Christ

Today we mark the feast of the Holy Innocents. Recalling also St Stephen from just two days ago, we have a reminder of the blood that has been shed in relation to our salvation.

In the Christmas octave we celebrate the joyful news of Christ’s coming but we are reminded of the great quantity of blood which has been shed to get that good news through to the human race.

It is good that there are people who love God enough to die for Him, but tragic there are people on hand ready to kill them.

It just shows how far we have to go before salvation takes complete hold of the world.

Christ came to live with us and to die for us.

It was necessary that He die to show the extent of His love and also because there were those willing to kill Him.

Good that He came; good that He had enough love to overcome the evil.

Celebrating Christmas for us becomes:
on the one hand we thank Him for coming. A straightforward Alleluia for joy.

On the other hand, and much harder, we need to reach a point where we would be willing to die for Him.

How did you celebrate Christmas means not where did you have dinner, what did you do, but to what extent did you die to self this Christmas? To what extent did you take on the intent of the Christ child who came to die for us?

St Stephen identified fully with Christ, shown by his willingness to die, and in forgiving his killers.

The Holy Innocents were killed for their identification with Christ. They were mistaken for Him. Could anyone mistake you or me for Christ? If not we are not doing our job!

Tragic that so many do not know Him, that He came as Saviour and people do not even want to be saved. The people that lived in darkness are largely still in it!

It just shows how deep-rooted evil is, and how hard to dislodge. But Christ is stronger and will prevail. He needs serious disciples to help.

Part of the victory process is that He works on individuals like you and me and transforms us to be able to understand what He has done.

If we can be grateful for His coming, and then willing to find out what we can do to help, then He has established serious and useful disciples whom He can use in His service.

Gazing at Him in the crib and then at Him on the cross really becomes part of the same process. We are identifying with Him in His willingness to be with us and to die for us.

We find Him in His birth and death, and find Him not just like a picture on the wall that we can look at, but something that moves us to participate.

As to those who reject the message, Salvation becomes a process of shifting the would-be killers to would-be victims. Are we willing to die or willing to kill? There is a big difference between the two.

It is easier to kill the messenger than to heed the message, but it leads to a lot more trouble.

It is necessary for a complete evangelisation that we stress the sacrificial nature of Christ’s coming. He was not just a do-gooder as many seem to maintain. He did not come just to ‘help’ people, or to give nice teachings. He came to lay down His life, and this was to shift the mountain of evil which had become established.

Christmas is joyful but it is joy mixed in with sorrow and hard work. Sorrow for the evil that still remains; hard work to shift that evil. It can be done if we are prepared to die with Christ.

Christmas 2008 Sermon

Christmas Day 2008

We sometimes receive a shock – normally we would think of a shock as a bad thing, such as an accident, or a piece of bad news.

On the other hand we can receive a shock of joy, for example the Resurrection. Imagine how downcast the disciples were and then how suddenly and joyfully surprised to find Jesus risen again.

Christmas is another shock along those lines.

Consider the shepherds. What were they doing when the angels appeared? Just minding their sheep, minding their own business.

Suddenly angels appear. That would be enough of a shock in itself, let alone the message -
Over there in the town the saviour is born.

We tend to sink back into mundane, low expectations. We could say that Christmas forces us to rejoice.

It is possible to reduce Christmas to routine procedures and practices. We go to Midnight Mass, and then to lunch at such-and-such a place.

We can do those things, but we should search for the deeper meaning of it all.

We are often warned about impending crises in the world: lack of food, water, oil, air etc.
And we should do something about said pending disaster. We can put things off. Yeh, yeh, I must do something about that one day.

Christmas is the opposite in a way. We are being told about something wonderfully good. Again ‘we should do something about it’. And again we might put it off year after year.

We can ignore Christmas like we ignore the warnings; sink back into the lifestyle we know. We can say to the angels: Not today, thank you. Don’t interrupt me; I am busy doing what I always do.

Christ has entered the world; has He entered your world? What are you celebrating?

If there had been a grumpy shepherd among the others he might have said, I don’t want to go to Bethlehem, I will just stay here with my flock. He would have to be talked into going.

People can be like that. Inertia ... Just leave me alone.

Christmas can be shrunk into the familiar pattern of the rest of the year. More of the same.

It can easily be divested of any religious significance. Or even if one is religiously inclined it is still easy to avoid personal commitment. But the Saviour demands a response.

So the message confronts us: this night a Saviour has been born for you.

What must we do?
The first thing is just to believe that such good news is possible.
The second thing is to respond to it.
The third thing is to keep responding to it the rest of our lives.

The Saviour can save us only if we are agreeable to being saved; only if we give Him some space to get inside us and change things.

So we let ourselves be shocked with good news. We have enough of nasty shocks. This burst of joy is enough to counteract all bad news and even to make bad news disappear altogether.

And the angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people: For, this day, is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David.

The angel is talking to us: the Saviour is ours.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Happy Christmas

I wish all readers a Happy and Holy Christmas. I will be taking part in the Midnight Mass at Holy Name and then offering Mass at St Monica's Walkerville at 8am on Christmas morning.
May the joy of the feast give us all a sense of new life!

4th Sunday of Advent 21 Dec 2008 Sermon

4th Sunday of Advent 21.12.08 Sharing God’s nature

We are often told one way or another that we should behave well, that we should be good and do good.

Fine, but then we can feel discouraged by the difficulty of being good all the time, as it is an all-the-time proposition. The obligation to be good is always present. The commandments apply always and in every place.

So we can sink into a kind of resignation that we are never going to be good enough and settle for a mediocre rate of return on the spiritual life. This is clearly not what God intended for us.

What He intended is very different. When God took on human nature He joined divinity with humanity. He was bridging the gap between the two natures, not so much to lower Himself to our level as to raise us to His own.

He became human so we could become divine. We are not God; we are not gods; but we do share in the nature of God; we participate in His divine nature.

New age religion talks of the god within each of us and encourages us to reach our full potential. The trouble is that kind of ‘god’ is largely egotistical and could lead to monstrous self-absorption.

The ‘God’ within us is the Blessed Trinity. We claim He is within us but He is also in a lot of other places, so we do not think we have a monopoly on Him.

We are ‘godlike’ in so far as we maintain humility and due balance between all our rights and obligations.

False gods often have the faults of the human race attributed to them – such as jealousy, desire for revenge, lust.

The true God has no weakness or blemish. His most clearly defining characteristic is Love. With that go humility, generosity, ability to sacrifice Himself for the good of others.

If we are to be like Him, to share His nature, we must also show forth these qualities.

This gets back to the obligation to be good at all times and places, which we find so difficult. Is there a way forward?

Yes, the key is that when divinity was joined to humanity then it worked the other way as well and humanity was joined to divinity.

This means that we have received extra strength to fulfil the demands of the moral law. We are being told to be good, not as a kind of impossible task way beyond our strength, but as something we can take in our stride given that we can think and act like God Himself.

Did Jesus commit sins all day long? No, never, not even one sin. How did He do it? Because He was divine He did not feel inclined to sin. Sin was alien to Him and He rejected it totally.

The more we share in Jesus’ nature, the more fully He dwells in us, the less inclined we will be to sin, or the more inclined to do good at all times.

It is ‘second nature’ we could say. And to demonstrate how it works, we have the Blessed Virgin Mary. She was fully possessed of God from the moment of her conception and so always did good and was good.

She did not sin because she did not want to, and was immune to the devil’s normal methods.

She helps us as we prepare for Christmas to be more like she was. There is a way forward for us and we should take it.

It is itself a deception of the devil that we cannot keep God’s commandments. He wants to keep us at a very low level of expectation, so we do not aim high.

God, however, wants us to aim very high, not as something beyond us, but to realize that He has lifted us up, and we are capable of much more than we thought.

Still humble, we claim a share in divinity and we live accordingly.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

3rd Sunday of Advent 14 Dec 2008 Sermon

3rd Sunday of Advent 14.12.08 Order in the house

We all want to be happy. The US Declaration of Independence puts the pursuit of happiness down as a basic right.

C.S. Lewis says on the other hand that we have no right to be happy. If happiness comes it is a by-product of other things, such as doing our duty, but it is not a right as such. He is right.

It might sound very stodgy on our part and the Church is often accused of being a killjoy, yet we indeed want people to be happy. It’s just a matter of how one pursues it.

Right or not everyone does try to be happy, even if we are being faithful to our duty.

The wrong way to try to be happy is to disobey God. Look at Adam and Eve. The forbidden fruit. The oldest story in the world. The fruit looked good to eat, so they ate it. And regretted it very quickly.

Sin is snatching at something, trying to get happiness but it always brings grief. Sweet in the mouth but leads to stomach ache. Not everything that looks appealing is a sin, fortunately, but we do have to look beyond appearances.

Take the long view. Sights set on eternity. Not stop anywhere short of that.

The temptation is always there to lurch along from one short term pleasure to another. Many seem to do that. ‘Take each day as it comes’ can be a good philosophy but if there is no overall purpose it will mean we just do whatever presents itself, and will commit all sorts of excesses and sins. Like driving a car without a steering wheel.

But if we are regulated by God’s law we avoid excesses and keep the overall balance between everything.

This is the recipe for happiness. It might sound boring but we are like the tree by the water’s edge (cf Ps 1; Jer 15) whose leaves are green all year round.

And there is still a lot of room for spontaneity. (Then was I beside him as his craftsman, and I was his delight day by day, Playing before him all the while, playing on the surface of his earth; and I found delight in the sons of men. (Prov 8,30-31)) If within the bounds we can do all sorts of creative and happy things. If we are in union with God we are truly happy, joyful. There is a general sense of wellbeing and we do a lot of good. Seek first the kingdom of God.

But the snatch and grab approach is a disaster – short term happiness but long term misery. Look at all the disorder in our world. It all comes from snatching and grabbing. Pursuing happiness down blind alleys.

Today we reflect on the reasons for our joy. In Advent time the main reason is that Christ is coming. His presence must increase our level of happiness, provided we are in union with Him.

We look to the long term. We see that in the short term nothing this world has to offer can make us perfectly happy. (Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life, is not from the Father but is from the world.
Yet the world and its enticement are passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever. 1 Jn 2,15-17) They can keep us going for a while, and make life less tedious, but we see that these things are never going to be enough.

It is not just that life must end, and time runs out. That is one factor. But the problem lies deeper than that. Even if we lived for ever in this earthly life we would not possess the fulness of joy that is promised us in heaven.

Pleasurable things and experiences give short term happiness but only God can fill the void that is in us – purposely put there by Him.

We look at the long term. Leave the forbidden fruit on the tree and you win the whole garden!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

2nd Sunday of Advent 7 Dec 2008 Sermon

2nd Sunday of Advent 7.12.08 Signs of salvation

‘Go and tell John what you have seen and heard’. What they had seen and heard were signs of salvation, reminders of God’s goodness. Do you believe in God, someone asked me during the week? Well, I could have answered that many ways, but one answer is there are too many signs of His presence not to believe. Look at the beauty of the world. Beauty must come from somewhere – there has to be a source.

One only needs to hear the first drop of rain to know the drought is over; the first rays of dawn to know the day is coming; the whistle to know the train is coming.

Salvation is more complicated. Yet it must come; it is coming insofar as the first signs have been evident around us. Not only what Jesus did, but the saints, and what happens at Lourdes etc.

Read the signs. We often say that by way of warning, as in ‘Get ready for the end’.
There is another side to reading the signs: the certainty that from one blessing there are other blessings to follow.

Many are of a gloomy disposition, sobered by disappointment, finding it hard to hope for anything much better than we have now.

We notice good things happening and are grateful for them but fail to put two and two together.

If we had time to write a book we could compile all healing miracles on record and it would be a very large book. We hear about healings but they seem so isolated we do not get really excited about it.

But even if one miracle happens it is like the train whistle – there must be a Source of miracle behind it, and other miracles to come. Even one miracle proves this.

We fail to follow the logic through because a lot of bad things happen too. and when that happens we say, Where is God, and start beating that drum. But one miracle is enough to prove that God means well towards us and has the power to carry it through.

No doubt we would see a lot more miracles if there were a greater obedience in the world.
Jesus directs, Go back and tell, to prove there is Salvation in the world. A lot of work to be done, but the principle is established.

Let’s make more miracles happen by concerted belief, no more doubt, no more arguing.
The bad is only what comes in when we don’t take advantage of the good. Let the good overwhelm the bad.

Those who do read the signs have an obligation to announce the coming of the better reality to everyone else.

This is our position in the Church. They laugh at us for believing these things, but we must tell them anyway.

It is harder to work miracles in an unbelieving world. Perhaps the first miracle is to keep our own faith! To be able to believe the day is coming when we have seen the dawn – of course it must be coming – but harder to believe if most others do not.

So we learn to hold on to the signs that come from heaven and not the scorn that comes from man.

Scorn costs the human race a lot, leaving it oblivious both to the wrath and the bounty of God, and losing out in both directions.

For our part we return to simplicity – simply read the signs. See all the goodness around and deduce from that the goodness of the Lord. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
This is not demanding on the intelligence; only on the will.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

1st Sunday of Advent 30 Nov 08 Sermon

1st Sunday of Advent 30.11.08 When will these things happen?

People sometimes scoff at the apparent inaction of heaven on delivering some of the prophesied events. This scoffing effect was predicted by St Peter: ‘Know this first of all, that in the last days scoffers will come (to) scoff, living according to their own desires and saying, "Where is the promise of his coming? From the time when our ancestors fell asleep, everything has remained as it was from the beginning of creation." (2 P 3:3-4)
He then offers the well-known reminder ‘that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard "delay," but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2P 2:8-9)

And the crowd scoffed at Our Lord as He hung upon the Cross because He appeared to be unable to respond. The quieter He was the more bold they became in their taunts. He could have demolished them with a look but He chose to remain inactive at that point.

People gain confidence when their sins go unpunished, and they commit bigger and better sins.

But history shows that God can store up His punishments and other communications. Both reward and punishment are delayed as we act out the human drama.

Just because He does not send lightning every time someone sins does not mean He is not offended.

Just because He lets evil have an apparent free hand for a time does not mean He is powerless to intervene.

The same applies to rewards, and to the righting of injustices in general.

People do good deeds without any apparent reward and they might wonder why they bother.
But here also God can wait, and Our Lord speaks of storing up treasure in heaven. The less reward we receive here the more there.

The same for punishment; it is stored up. No lightning yet, but watch out when the day of reckoning comes.

The same principle gives us heart in relation to injustices committed. In the movies the villain is either caught or killed and the innocent are set right in this life, all in the space of two hours.

In real life the resolution may not come so speedily. The good are often killed, their bodies dumped somewhere, and the evildoers seem to get away with it for a time. How many millions have been massacred, or enslaved or generally mistreated? Where is God, the cry goes up.

He is in Heaven, well aware of what is going on, and He misses nothing. He hears the cry of the poor, the widow and orphan. He will set things right, but it may not be in this life. He never said it would be, and we should not demand it.

We see that our limited perspective on time is a problem for us with regards to good, evil, and justice in general. We want quick answers otherwise we start to lose faith and wander off course.

The call of Advent is to put us back in the right time perspective. Think in centuries not days. Think in eternity, which is beyond time. Think of God who is all just, good, wise and is not likely to be defeated by demonic or human cunning.

We make the same mistake as the people taunting Our Lord when we conclude that God is inactive or uninterested.

We do not know exactly what He will do, or how, or when, but we do know He will redress every sin and injustice ever committed; He will reward the good and punish the bad. He will have the last laugh, we could say.

So we must be patient, and we must be good. Patient with God to fulfil His plans, good in storing up treasure for ourselves, atoning for injustices as far as we can.

There is some good news for evildoers: there is an escape route. We don’t have to wait around to be clobbered for our sins; we can simply confess them and we will be free. Advent is also a call to repentance. Use the time while there still is time.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Last Sunday after Pentecost 23.11.08 Sermon

Last Sunday after Pentecost 23.11.08 Taking the sting out of death.

The last Sunday. Everything has an end. Endings can be sad, sometimes glad, like a bad film or speech. Or school.

Either way things must end. Fortunately people do not end entirely, just change addresses – from earth to Heaven, preferably.

Death is a great separator of people, but does not have the final word. Life is changed not ended.

We are familiar with death insofar as we know it must happen; and we have experienced the death of others.

For all that it is an extraordinary adventure we are not familiar with. We say, Prepare for it, but we do not know the first thing about it in many ways. So we need lots of encouragement and reassurance. Is there a way to overcome the fear of death?

What is it we fear? Several things.
The pain of dying
Facing judgment
Leaving behind those we love
The general unknown of the whole thing.

What is the remedy for all these fears? Well, the sting of death is sin.

It is sin which makes death as frightening as it is.

If we could get rid of the sin death would have no sting and we would approach it without fear.

Or to put it another way – Getting rid of sin is the same as coming into closer union with Christ.

Sin is whatever divides us from Christ. As we draw closer to Him the sin evaporates. He forgives it, removes it, and gives us grace not to sin again.

Thus we do not fear pain because we do that only when we are too preoccupied with ourselves. Union with Christ frees us to think about others not just self.
We do not fear judgment because we are close to Him and in a state of grace. Thus our salvation is assured.

We do not fear leaving people and things behind because we entrust everyone and everything to Him.
Develop the spiritual instinct and we do not cling so much to the material. The only reason we cling to this life is that we have not familiarised ourselves enough with the spiritual dimension. It is all very shadowy and distant to us, but it need not be.

We do not fear the unknown because it is known to Him and we trust Him to carry us through as He has done in every other part of our lives.

The crucial thing at all times is get rid of the sin. Confess it, repent it, stamp it out, break the bad habits, and in its place will come a new peace and serenity.

Some prefer not to talk about death. That is their way of coping.

Others cope by stressing the certainty of heaven, and they do mean certain. Everyone goes there!

We cope by making sure we are in union with Jesus Christ, the one essential quality which will carry us to Heaven.

And we can look forward to Heaven. We cannot imagine Heaven clearly but it is no less real for that. It is one happy ending that can be guaranteed. There is a lot to be looked forward to in death if we get it right.

In any case it is inevitable so we have to face it somehow. Why not with the full light of faith and hope?

One more fear: Is it a lonely thing to die? In one sense, yes, because each dies alone. No one can go with us. But people from Heaven can accompany us, and they do. Not least Our Lord Himself; the One who is to judge us is already with us.

The Last Sunday, but not the end of us. No Last Sunday for us because we will live forever!

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Mass times

Presently I am offering Holy Mass at St Monica's, Walkerville (Adelaide)at the following times:

Sun 8am
Mon 8am
Tue 6.45am
Wed 8am
Thu 8am
Fri 6.45am
Sat 8am

Any changes will be notified through this blogsite.

Thanks for support

Thanks to all who have expressed support for me in these recent weeks. It has been very encouraging to receive the prayers and good wishes of so many. The important thing is I am still celebrating the TLM every day. Deo Gratias.
Keeping all of you in my prayers.

Monday, 17 November 2008

27th Sunday after Pentecost 16.11.08 Sermon

27th Sunday after Pentecost (Readings from 6th Sunday after Epiphany) 16.11.08 Slow growth

Trees are not the only things that grow slowly. People grow slowly too. A baby starts out very small and might end up over 6 feet tall. It takes a long time and if we stared hard at the person we would not see him getting taller. Yet it happens. And so with the Church which the tree in the parable represents. It grows somehow despite the tremendous opposition it has faced ever since the beginning.

Only by the miraculous intervention of God’s grace can this have happened. Despite all the empires and regimes trying to suppress us; despite huge internal tensions; despite the dullness of the average member of the Church – yet through all that we still exist and we have every hope of getting bigger and better.

We do not see this steady growth; we can only compare one time with another and see the difference.

However, while it is nice to be able to talk about a billion Catholics, and we can really turn out a crowd sometimes we know there is another kind of growth that needs to happen. - a growth in holiness.

This is something that does not happen automatically like physical growth. We grow in holiness only if we want to do that and are prepared to work towards it.
Holiness does not grow on trees we might say.

Most people who go to Confession would find they confess the same sins each time. This is natural insofar as we tend to fall in the areas where we are weakest.

But it is also frustrating that we cannot shake off these persistent sins and bad habits.
We would love to be free of sin altogether and often say that we will not sin again; yet sin we do.

How can we grasp this elusive holiness and make real and lasting progress, once and for all clearing the weeds from our souls and turning them into beautiful gardens?

We can work on two fronts – the general and the particular.

The general front is that we renounce sin in principle whenever and as often as we can – such as in Acts of Contrition, Acts of Consecration, every time we receive Holy Communion (at least implicitly we renounce sin). ‘I will not sin again’, with Your help, we hastily add.

But the principle is clear. If we could avoid all sin just by saying so, we would. It is important to make this affirmation to keep the proper focus in view. In this way we come to mean those words a little more fervently each time we say them.

The particular front is that we take each bad habit we have and work on it to reduce its hold on us.
If we lose our temper six times a day, then cut that down to five. It is progress. One sin less is a great thing. If every one in the world committed one less sin a day that would be six billion sins a day, and 2190 billion sins a year!

We might be weak but we do not have to be hopeless. Our hope is in Christ and He is the source of all holiness. If we come to Him for mercy we must also expect strength. He does not forgive us just to go and do the same thing again. He fortifies us with grace; He makes us stronger and better people, so we do not fall into the same traps.

This takes time, but first we have to understand what is happening. Combining the general detestation of sin with the particular measures to avoid this or that sin, we will make progress and we will grow spiritually to great heights. As invididuals grow so does the Church.

Better to have a thousand saints than a million mediocres, but why not have a million saints?
No reason why not. If trees can do it, so can we. We may not notice the change but we will be better people after one year or any other measure of time.

May the Lord give us growth.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Dedication of the Lateran Basilica 9 Nov 08 Sermon

Dedication of the Lateran Basilica 9.11.08

This feast tells us of Unity and Universality.

Unity: if there were only one Catholic church in the whole world we would all be crowding to get into it. Many would have to wait outside but the convergence of so many would be evident. Who are all these people trying to crowd into one place?

Today’s feast of the Cathedral church of Rome reminds us of the centripetal force of Catholicism. We are all drawn to the central identity with Christ, and thus with the Church which He has founded.

If we express allegiance to Christ we must go to where He is found, and this is most fully in His eucharistic presence in any Catholic church, but for symbolic reasons even more so in a cathedral, and the cathedral of Rome more so still.

We might answer the call to follow Christ as individuals but having done so we are automatically and necessarily integrated with each other. We might say at first, well, I don’t need anyone else if I have Christ, but if we have Him we also must have each other.

We gather in the one place. For practical purposes we must be separated by space and time, but all in union with Him are also in union with each other, forming the Body of Christ, the Church.

Centripetal force: how can we resist the call to follow Him, to come to Him, to be healed, forgiven, nourished, formed into all we are meant to be, both individually and communally?

Belonging to and identifying with the Church is just one more stage of our progress towards Him. Curious that people could think they can have union with Him but not with His Body. To have the Head but not the Body of which He is the Head.

So many today say they believe in Jesus but not the Church. Or they make it sound as though Jesus is all love and compassion whereas the Church is harsh and authoritarian. But the Church is simply the presence of Jesus in the world. The Church says or does nothing other than Jesus would say or do.

Granted there are human frailties with the Church and the connection is often blurred, but in principle we cannot separate Christ from His own body. As to the faults of the Church, well, we set about correcting them. The Church is ever in need of purification, but not in need of being closed down.

So we come to Rome. We come to this one church, one Church, and discover as well as express our unity.

Having made the trip the next thing is to be sent back home! Having been nurtured and nourished, what does our Head tell us to do but go out and baptize all nations, to bring all the distant ends of the earth to unity with Him. A centrifugal force going out to bring everyone back in.

This is Universality. The Church is based in Rome but is not meant to be confined there. Sometimes people say ‘Roman Catholics’ as a way of restricting us to one particular group, one denomination, one among many others.

This cannot be. We are simply THE Church, not one among many, not just a listing in the phone book, but the ONLY Church. Every other church or group is in some way an offshoot of the one true Church.

The Church is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. Catholic meaning Universal, covering the whole world. One meaning there is and can only be one. Apostolic means sent out to convert whoever does not yet know full union with Christ. And Holy meaning the only way we can hope to convert people, as well as being an end in itself.

We come in to go out. We go out to bring in. One God, one People, one flock, one Shepherd. Head and Body together, one Church. May God preserve and increase that which He has begun.

25th Sunday after Pentecost 2 Nov 08 Sermon

25th Sunday after Pentecost (Readings 4th S after Epiphany) 2.11.08 Confirmation

We are all like a boat on the water. Some just setting out, some nearly finished, others somewhere in the middle.

A boat is vulnerable, not only physically but in our case, spiritually. We might succumb to the snares of the devil.

When we pray, Deliver us from evil, it is mostly sin we mean. That is the worst evil, far worse than physical harm.

But we trust that The Lord is in our boat, and He may appear to be asleep but He never is. We trust that He will act on our behalf.

A lot of problems are more complex than just a physical rescue.

We tend to focus on the short term, but we pray also for a whole lifetime. Lord, save me from drowning (ever).

Some medicines or drugs are slow working. We could say the grace of Confirmation is like this. It is a sacrament we receive only once yet its effects are calculated to last a liftetime.

To be 12 year old. What lies ahead? Life is full of surprises, a mixture of joy and sorrow. A fairly sure guarantee there will be turbulence ahead, some surging waves.

But we entrust to the Lord. This sacrament, will be there in the background, making things happen, delivering me from evil.

A lot of people have been confirmed and lost the faith, left the Church. We might say the sacrament was wasted in their case. Not necessarily. The slow acting medicine might still be operating on them, and steering them into better waters.

Our prayer for the current candidates is that they stay on course through all weathers.
No need to wander off and come back; just stay on course. Set sail for eternity.

As we pray for them we can reclaim this sacrament – those who have received it. The seven gifts:
Wisdom and Counsel: to be so close to God we judge actions correctly.
Understanding and Knowledge: to value all things correctly, knowing what to value and discard
Fortitude to hold firm in a very difficult or hostile environment
Piety to live a holy life in an unholy world
Fear of the Lord to know that God is God and is everything and never ceases to be so.

By slow-acting I do not mean to imply there is anything slow on the Holy Spirit’s part. The slowness comes from our sinful condition, and also just from the fact that we live in time. We cannot have all our grace at once. The problems we face at 50 are different from those we face at 15. The same Holy Spirit will be there for us at both ages.

So the distribution of graces is steady over a lifetime. Any slowness caused by our own spiritual dullness can be accelerated by more fervent prayer. A lot of the time we are in low gear as far as spiritual intensity is concerned. We can put our foot down a little bit and simply ask for more grace. It will come.

We can ask to win the lottery and we probably will not. But if we ask for more wisdom, fortitude etc we will receive them. God wants to complete us spiritually. He does not like to leave things half-finished.

So we find ourselves all out there on the water, trying to get to the other side. It is not so hard, but it is not hard to get into trouble either. We pray for each other that God bring each boat home;
that we keep Him there in the boat, and never doubt. Fear the Lord but nothing else.
We keep encouraging each other until we all get there.