Saturday, January 30, 2010

My Rant on Vatican II

It is an unfortunate reality that ‘the spirit of Vatican II’ has become the much touted reason for any and all innovations to the Catholic faith and the way it is presented and expressed these days. This ‘spirit’ has become the animating principle behind such glorious theological constructs as 'devout' catholics being pro-abortion and liturgies of such true noble simplicity as the parish ‘Polka Mass’ – I kid you not! This ‘spirit’ of the council, while remaining silent throughout the council itself, began to speak even before the seats of the Council Fathers had cooled. This 'Spirit' has long since then spoken through the ‘creativity’ and ‘intuition’ of a select, but influential, few whose life mission seemed to be the call to carry forward the complete overhaul of the Catholic Church to bring it 'up-to-date' with the world around it; this ‘spirit’, however, seems to be anything but the Holy Spirit which for twenty centuries has guided the Church through the most difficult and dark moments of its long journey of faith.
Nowhere can this ‘spirit of the council’ be seen to be more active than in the travesty which sometimes passes for Catholic liturgy. Nowhere is it clearer that somehow, somewhere something has gone wrong, than when one sees a Mass that is more man-centred than God-centred, more about entertainment than about sacrifice, more about what the people can get out of it at the level of the emotions rather than what they can put into it at the level of the heart and soul.

So what went wrong? Why did a council which offered such an immense opportunity for the Church to engage with the modern world and which has, without a doubt, produced immense good fruit, also yield some of the most undesirable fruit imaginable? Who could have foreseen such a disastrous implementation of the council’s directives, as seems to have occurred in some quarters? So many questions, each with many diverse and complex answers, but I think Pope Paul VI intuited it well when he spoke about a supernatural undermining of the Council. Precisely because the Council was desired by God and guided by the Spirit of the Risen Christ, and precisely because it has (not had) the potential to revolutionise the Church in the most positive of senses; equipping it for the great task of evangelising the third millennium; precisely for these reasons the attack of the evil one will obviously be all the greater, since the Church’s charter is one of salvation and all her efforts are to this end and anything which the Lord inspires and graces the Church with will always make her more adept at fulfilling this purpose. And so, is it any wonder that the Council should undergo an attack of this kind, a subtle misinterpretation or misrepresentation?

It is, therefore, absolutely necessary for us to hold faithfully to the intentions of the council which are absolutely clear to anyone who reads the documents of the council without any preconceived agenda being at work in his or her mind. Precisely because the council has not been implemented faithfully by some of those assigned this task, must we strive all the more for fidelity to it.
The past few decades have been a sort of labour pain for the Church. The labour began when Pope John XXIII was inspired to throw open the shutters of the Church and let the Spirit breathe new life into her members. The Church rejoiced that the seeds of the ressourcement would soon bear fruit in a renewed and vibrant Church, which would harvest the whole world. But the labour pains have been many and at times torturous and, as with the woman in the Book of Revelations, the ancient serpent sits ever ready to devour that fruit. But the pains will, I believe, soon be passed and with great hope we should all look forward to that day when this masterpiece of the Spirit will be truly accomplished and the Church will emerge stronger and more faithful to her Lord. These labour pains will then be a memory.
Had the implementation of the council passed off peacefully and smoothly, without that the barque should rock a little, then perhaps we would have cause to worry. But the fact that it is attacked, misrepresented, misinterpreted and rejected by many should help us realise that it is truly a marvellous work of the Spirit and one which will lead to the spread of the Catholic faith and the salvation of souls to the glory of our Heavenly Father.
We, who are pastors of the flock of Christ, must therefore at all times recall our commitment on receiving Holy Orders to faithfully minister to the faithful only from within the faith and according to that faith. It will be love for Christ, for the Church and the people of God that will motivate both our creativity in winning souls and, at the same time, our fidelity to the means by which that salvation is administered. Christ does not need gimmicks to touch hearts, theology need not accommodate every spirit and disposition, and liturgy need not be simplistic and banal to be noble and simple. The true spirit of Vatican II presents us all with a great challenge to live faithfully the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a world that is often hostile to that way of life. The agenda-driven ‘spirit of the council’, on the other hand, is but a spectre which needs to be exorcised by humble religious submission to the authentic Magisterium of the Church, and adherence to the laws which govern the liturgical life of the Church.
May the good Lord give Pope Benedict XVI many more years. Another 10 years and he will have the whole ship back on course! Amen!

St. Therese and Flies

Because I really cannot abide flies I like this little fact about St. Therese's attitude towards them on her deathbed. She wouldn’t kill them even though they tormented her.
She said of them: "I always give them freedom. They alone have caused me misery during my sickness. I have no enemies, and since God recommends that we pardon our enemies, I’m happy to find this opportunity for doing so."

That's why she's a saint and .... well, I've a long way to go! When I was younger I used to try to knock the flies off my bedroom window into the big spider web that was in the corner of the window. I succeeded in fattening that spider quite a bit. He crawled into my bed one night, though, and bit me and so he too met a sticky end!

The Morning Offering

O Jesus,
through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer You my prayers, works,
joys and sufferings of this day
for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
throughout the world,
in reparation for my sins,
for the intentions of all my relatives and friends, and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father.

This simple prayer turns your entire day into a sacrificial offering to God The Father and unites it with the priestly sacrifice of His Son.

Mother Teresa

This is an old Video but I have a soft spot for Mother Teresa (one of the few saints I've dreamed about) and I like just about anything U2 has to offer, and so for your entertainment and edification I bring you - GRACE.

"If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one." Mother Teresa
"The greatest Disease is not TB or leprosy; it is the feeling of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread, but there are many more dying for a little love. Give it now." Mother Teresa

Haiti Earthquake Appeal

In a previous post I wrote about the charity, Marys Meals. They do some wonderful work with the worlds poorest children - providing meals to 390,000 children every day in schools. Prior to the earthquake they were feeding more than 12,000 children everyday in Haiti. Now they are feeding any and all victims of the disaster, who have been literally left with nothing.

HERE you will find an update of their work in Haiti. This is a charity which I have taken very much to heart and would encourage all who read this to consider their work in any charitable donations you may intend to make.

Friday, January 29, 2010

A Catholic Harry Potter

In this Clip we see how virtuous Harry Potter really is

Obey Your Thirst for God

I love this Video. Genius!

A Bond Forged in the Fires of His Love

As a fan of 'The Lord of the Rings' Trilogy and as a stauch supporter of the irreplaceable position and role which marriage holds in our whole civilisation - I love this Video.

Men of God

Another Video from Catholic Mountain on what it means to be a man as God intended.

Why do we pray?

Many thanks to the folks at Catholic Mountain for this short Video on why we pray.

Theft of the Eucharist

The Blessed Sacrament has been stolen from a church in Co. Laois, Ireland. The Parish Priest is at a loss as to why someone would steal the Blessed Sacrament since the lunette that held it is of little value:
"Certainly from experience, I have never experienced anything like this in any parish I've been in -it's never happened before," he remarked. "It's hard to understand the motivation behind this -you can only speculate on that.”
Msgr Byrne appealed to the whoever took the Eucharist to return it immediately. "We would very much appreciate its return and to find out the thinking behind taking it," he said.
And expressing the hope that there was no sinister aspect to the incident, he added that he "would like to be assured the Sacrament is being treated with respect and that it has not been consumed or destroyed.”
I would speculate that maybe the thief (or thieves) were very much aware that the lunette was of little value. Maybe they were after the Blessed Sacrament. Let us hope and pray that this Sacred Host is not being used for something far worse than being consumed or destroyed. Ireland is a very changed country with regards to the faith and the days when our ancestors were willing to die for the Mass and the Eucharist are well and truly gone. And that is a great pity.
Let us pray in reparation for this great crime of sacrilege.
Fr. B

Thursday, January 28, 2010

TV - The Tabernacle of Satan?

Eric Sammon's blog Divine Life has a thought provoking article on how much we allow our home-life be invaded by the less than edifying fare being piped through your average television set. Not that I'm advocating throwing the TV out the window. Tv, in and of itself is not bad and can be used for great good, but unfortunately it isn't being used for good alot of the time and much of our culture has now absorbed what I call - TV Values. But I think it is a salutary caution. As St. Paul tells us: “Fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable” (Philippians 4:8)
Jessica Harris also has a very sobering warning, especially for parents in today's world, about the dangers that modern technology may pose to their children. When you open the link don't panic. The first word that will meet your eyes is the word 'Porn' because the website is called The Porn Effect. But don't worry the website is a Catholic site set up to help those who may have addictions or propensities to the use of pornography.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Film on Fatima

I've just finished watching a most beautiful little film on the Apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima, Portugal in 1917. The film has the title: "The 13th Day" and its website can be found HERE.
I must say that the film is visually very beautiful and appealing. It is shot in black and white format, but colour is used whenever heaven breaks into this grey world during each of the apparitions. Also the musical score for the film is hauntingly beautiful. I would highly recommend this film at so many levels. Though it is not an exhaustive treatment of what happened back in 1917 at Fatima, it certainly would be a wonderful introduction for people to the Message of Fatima; a message as relevant today as when it first issued from the Immaculate Heart of Mary at the Cova d'Ira.

Recommended Reading (3)

Sacraments in Scripture: Salvation History Made Present

Author, Tim Gray, presents each of the sacraments in this little work and shows how they are rooted in the Sacred Scriptures. He has some wonderful insights and a read of this book will help the reader better understand the sacraments, which are so much a part of our lives as Catholics. It's a very accessible read and a book that I would highly recommend.

Recommended Reading (2)

Understanding "Our Father": Biblical Reflections on the Lord's Prayer

This is a short little work where the author, Scott Hahn, unpacks the great richness that is contained in the Lord's Prayer. After reading this book one will never pray the Our Father in the same way again. As always Dr. Hahn proves that theology and the content of the faith can be made very accessible to the average reader and this little book is another one of his masterpieces. The last quarter of the book reproduces some of the best of what the early Fathers of the Church had to say about the Lord's prayer. For this alone, the book would be worthy of purchase.

Recommended Reading (1)

THE FULFILLMENT OF ALL DESIRES: A Guidebook for the Journey to God Based on the Wisdom of the Saints

This book is a gem of Catholic spirituality. Written by Ralph Martin, it is very accessible to the reader and shows him/her the great depth of wisdom and grace that is to be found in our Catholic spiritual tradition. Martin draws on the writings and experiences of several great saints such as Bernard of Clairvaux, Teresa of Avila, St. Therese of Lisieux among others. In my opinion this book is a must for anyone who wants to go a bit deeper in their relationship with the Lord.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Danger with Ambition

The Letter of St. James shows James to be a something of straight talker. I think we should all take out our bibles and read his letter every now and then. And I think we’d get great fruit from it, and it will certainly challenge us all and the way we live our lives. James speak about the danger of naked ambition. “You want something and you haven’t got it”, he says, “so you are prepared to kill.” “You have an ambition that you cannot satisfy”, he says, “so you fight to get your way by force.”

And success, in its many forms, is a god that some people are willing to sacrifice too much, even everything, for. Some things are worth fighting for, worth setting our hearts on. Some things are worth committing your life to, some things are even worth dying for - not all ambitions are bad. But when the goals we set for ourselves mean that we have to go against what is right or lawful, or mean that we have to deprive another of what is rightfully his, then we have to ask ourselves: is it worth it.

No, ambition is not bad in itself, but a driving ambition is of little use if you’re on the wrong road. The devil was ambitious, more ambitious than any other creature. His pride and ambition drove him to challenge God for the throne of heaven, but at what a price. To serve in the highest echelons of the heavenly courts was not enough, he wanted to rule it. He wouldn’t serve in heights of heaven so his ambition brought him to reign in the depths of hell.

Don’t get me wrong, success is something good. We should try our best to succeed at anything we turn our hands to. God wants us to do our best, he wants us to be the best we can be. But success at all costs, getting our own way regardless of who we have to step over or crush to get it, is a dangerous game to play and certainly that does not have the Lord’s blessing upon it. And so we might find the price of our ambition to be well beyond what we were willing to pay.

As the Lord himself has told us: "What does it profit a man to win the whole world, but to thereby lose his own soul."

Who can forgive sins, but God?

Who can forgive sins but God? The gospel tells us that - as a truth of the faith – only God can forgive sins. And so the next obvious question is: If only God can forgive sins then why am I obliged to present myself to a priest, who is obviously not God, in the confessional? Why can’t I approach God directly and receive his forgiveness for the wrongs I have done? Why, many object, reveal to a mere man what might be my most intimate circumstances and most secret faults? Why do I need the priest as a go-between in order to receive God’s forgiveness?

The Gospel story of the paralytic who is lowered through the roof to Jesus gives us a clue. The paralytic is unable to get to Jesus. He needs the help of his friends. And even then there are so many obstacles that meeting Jesus and being healed seems impossible. But these friends are undaunted, when others would just give up – these friends go to extreme lengths to ensure this paralytic has his meeting with Christ. They eventually bring him right to the feet of Jesus and he is thereby healed. These friends are a symbol of the Church and of our priests, who bring us into direct contact with Jesus. Why go to the priest for confession? Because through his priesthood we can be sure that we are placed in the presence of Christ and that from that place we will go forth reborn, free and strong.

Jesus makes it clear that the paralysis of the man in the Gospel was more spiritual than physical. And that spiritual paralysis was the healing he really needed. Jesus grants both types of healing to him, but puts the emphasis on the restrictive and destructive power of sin which must be removed and can only be removed by God. Only God can forgive sins.

The words of absolution which we hear each time we go to confession are spoken by the Priest. He does not say: "I forgive you your sins" nor "Christ forgives you your sins"; but "I absolve you," "I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit." The word ‘absolve’ means to unbind, or to set free. And in those words the mercy of God, the forgiveness of Christ, is applied to the soul. Priests are the Lord’s ministers of mercy. In the confessional they act, not merely on Christ’s behalf, but as Christ himself.

Why do we need to go to the priest for confession? If this great sacrament is what our faith tells us it is – then why would we go anywhere else, why would we even hesitate? But many do hesitate and even reject that great sacrament. The early Fathers of the Church, great saints and bishops of the early Church, called the sacrament of penance the second plank of salvation after the shipwreck which is the loss of the state of grace. The first plank is baptism, and by it we are hauled aboard the ship which is the Church. Serious sins is like falling overboard back into the dangerous sea and unless the Church throw overboard that second plank – confessions – then we risk being drowned in that sea of iniquity. What drowning man would refuse to reach out and grasp the only thing that can keep him afloat. And yet many do just that. Calling out from the stormy waves they have fallen into through sin – “Save me Lord, Save me” – and there beside them is that great ship called the Church offering salvation, but the offer goes unheeded.

Pope John Paul II spoke on the hesitation which many experience over this sacrament:
"It is true, he said, the man who absolves is a brother who must also confess in his turn, since, despite his obligation to grow in personal holiness, he remains subject to the limitations of human frailty. The man who absolves, however, does not offer the forgiveness of sins in the name of his own holiness… When he raises his hand in blessing and pronounces the words of absolution, he acts ‘in persona Christi’ – in the person of Christ – not simply as Christ’s representative, but also and above all as a human instrument in which the Lord Jesus is present and acts."

If we really believed in the healing power of the sacrament of confession, then such a crowd would gather round the doors of the confessional that it would be almost impossible to get in to have our meeting with Christ. It takes faith to believe in this sacrament, but it is precisely faith, the faith of those friends of the paralytic, which stirs Jesus to grant that man a complete healing of Body and Soul. After perhaps years of paralysis, one encounter with Christ, changed that man’s whole life and set him back on the road to eternal life. Let us pray that we might all appreciate both the reality and the necessity of receiving the Lord’s pardon in the great sacrament of reconciliation.
I leave you with another quotation from John Paul II:
The confession boxes of the world in which people bring their sins to light do not proclaim the severity of God, but above all they speak of his merciful goodness. And those who approach the confessional, sometimes after many years and with the weight of serious sins, find the longed-for relief when they go from there; they find the joy and serenity of conscience, which they can find nowhere else but in confession.”
Lent is fast approaching. This year lets put repentance and confession of our sins at the top of our list of things to focus on.
In the Hearts of Jesus and Mary,
Fr. B

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Problem of Pornography

"You know, surely that your bodies are members making up the body of Christ – Your body, you know, is the temple of the Holy Spirit." St. Paul takes it for granted that we know the high dignity to which we are called as Christians. And with that dignity comes the responsibility of living according to our state as sons and daughters of God. Our lives and our actions should always unfold keeping that dignity in mind and we are urged to avoid anything that would be a betrayal of who we are called to be, who we claim to be – Christians. St. Paul tells us to use our bodies for the glory of God, but indeed our whole lives as followers of Our Lord Jesus should be lived for the glory of God. Anything that compromises that dignity is not of God and has no place in our lives.

In another of his letters – to the Ephesians - St. Paul has this to say: "Among you there must not be even a hint of fornication, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are unbecoming of God’s holy people. Entirely out of place is obscene, foolish or vulgar talk." This is the inspired Word of the Lord.

The Greek word St. Paul uses for fornication is “Pornea”, meaning illicit and immoral non-marital relations. And though it covers quite a number of things – it is no coincidence that it is the root word for what we call pornography. St. Paul issues a stark warning. It’s a warning that is perhaps more relevant in the world we live in today than at any time in the past. “Keep away from fornication.” He is calling us to see the real damage that it causes to us and to our relationship with the Lord.

Many today won’t agree that pornography is that harmful. If they did think that it was harmful, that it is seriously sinful, seriously compromising their lives as Christians, then our world would not be so awash with it and it wouldn’t be one of the most profitable industries in the Western World.

But pornography is more harmful to a person than many might think. Someone who uses this kind of stuff, quickly loses the ability to look beyond the flesh, to the person. The images viewed present no personality – the person’s story – his or her life, what brought that person to such a low ebb as to show that which is so intimate, holy even, in such a public and unholy way – none of these things are important to the pornography user – who quickly teaches himself or herself that what is important is the exterior; the personhood and the dignity of the other is lost. That person is being used for the users’ own gratification.

The fact is that Pornography warps the great gift of human sexuality. It is a poison coming from the very depths of hell with the sole purpose of corrupting one the highest gifts God has given to us as human beings: The ability to give oneself completely to another, the ability to bring new life into the world. All that is swept away by this poison, and how many marriages and families are torn apart because of this poison we will perhaps never know. But a poison it is and it can get right to the heart of a marriage and kill it. And there are many who at first thought it harmless but who are now addicted to this poison and struggle to get free, it can become like a drug. But it is so prevalent, so available and, unfortunately, so widely accepted as normal that it is difficult to escape it. The first step is repentance, an honest confession and the Lord will surely help the person to overcome it. The second step is to close ones heart and ones mind to this kind of stuff, to get rid of it once and for all from ones life. That’s perhaps the hardest step.

How sad it is that the human body and human sexuality has become such a degraded and undervalued commodity in our world, something to be bought and sold. How sad that many, young men in particular, think pornography to be harmless fun, when it is really the worst possible preparation for marriage; and pity the poor woman who falls into the hands of someone like that – someone who will only have eyes for the externals, and not really care much for her soul. Is she supposed to live up to his warped expectations of a woman? His relationship with her is in real danger of being driven by lust and selfishness, instead of love and self-lessness, because that is what he has learned from pornography.

The real problem with pornography is not that it shows us too much – it shows far too little, focusing on the flesh and the pleasure it can give while obliterating the person in all his or her dignity.

Our world is awash with impurity as perhaps never before; and all around us human sexuality in all it goodness and greatness is debased and thrown like a priceless pearl before swine. Everything that was once taboo seems to be everyday stuff, to be flaunted and talked about openly and shamelessly. It seems we have gone from an extreme in the past where everything was deemed bad and dirty, to the other extreme where anything goes and virtues like purity and chastity, modesty and fidelity are seen as old fashioned and have become something to be scorned at.

St. Paul calls us to know our dignity, but also to recognise the dignity that others have. Your body, you know, is the temple of the Holy Spirit – do not defile that temple, reverence the temple you are and reverence that temple in others. By rejecting anything which compromises our dignity, by rejecting all forms of fornication, we will have a recipe for happier and healthier, men and women, happier and healthier relationships, happier and healthier homes and families; and so we will be building a happier and healthier society.
For anyone who struggles with an addiction to pornography I recommend a visit to a Catholic website which seeks to help people in that situation. The website is called
HERE you will find another article by New Oxford Review on the danger of pornography.
In the Hearts of Jesus and Mary,
Fr. B
UPDATE: HERE is another article that approaches the topic of Porn Addiction from a more scientific viewpoint.

Praying For Pope Benedict XVI

As faithful Catholics we are duty bound to pray for the Pope, our spiritual father and visible head of the whole Church on earth. And that prayer is so very important since, not only does it surely bring graces from above upon the Holy Father, but it also reminds us of the great family of faith to which we belong as Catholics – a family which is watched over by the Successor of St. Peter. In the homily of his Mass of Inauguration, way back in 2005, Pope Benedict asked us to pray for him in the following words: “Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves”.

In his letters St. Paul ask the same thing of the communities he was writing to; asking for their continued prayers so that he could better serve the Gospel. He asks the community at Ephesus: pray “for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”
And how many times does Paul write too of the difficulties he had to face and of those difficulties being overcome?

In the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 14:19-20) we see the great fruit of those prayers made on his behalf. Paul is stoned and left for dead and yet somehow he is given the strength and courage to go back into the very city which had tried to kill him, in order to preach the Good News. An action like that had to have been more effective than a hundred sermons. People must have been impressed by that kind of fearlessness and they must have asked themselves where Paul got that courage.

Though Paul is a man of peace, weak and poor, he doesn’t run away for fear of those who might harm him. He knows that he possesses something far more powerful than hatred, insults, and the ever present threat of death. To conquer hatred he is armed with love, to counter the insults he speaks in love, and to overcome death he has the all powerful love of the Christ. As the Holy Father said in that 1st homily: “It is not power, but love that redeems us!

It is Paul’s relationship with Jesus Christ and the unceasing prayers of the people of God that sustained him and enabled him to face the wolves who would seek to destroy God’s work and devour God’s flock. In the same way, it will be a strong relationship with the same Christ and the unceasing prayers of God’s people today, your prayers and mine, that will sustain Pope Benedict XVI as he fulfils his mission as Shepherd of the Church - Servant of the Servants of God. Let us take up his request, made right back at the beginning of his Petrine Ministry, and join our prayers with those of our brothers and sisters in heaven on his behalf.

The Conversion of St. Paul

From the Acts of the Apostles:

"There was a disciple in Damascus called Ananias, and he had a vision in which the Lord said to him, Ananias!... Get up and go to Straight Street and ask at the house of Judas for someone called Saul, who comes from Tarsus… But in response Ananias said, ‘Lord, I have heard from many people about this man and all the harm he has been doing to your holy people in Jerusalem. He has come here with a warrant… to arrest everybody who invokes your name. The Lord replied: Go, for this man is my chosen instrument to bring my name before Gentiles and kings, and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he must suffer for my name. Then Ananias went. He entered the house and laid hands on Saul. It was as though scales fell away from his eyes and immediately he was able to see again. So he got up and was baptised."

Today we celebrate one of the greatest conversion stories within Christianity. Saul, the one who lead the persecution of the early Church becomes Paul the one who leads the early Church’s missionary activity. But who is Paul?

Saul, or Paul, was born in Tarsus in present day Turkey. In his writings we are told that he was born a Roman Citizen but also born a Jew and became a Pharisee having studied in his youth in Jerusalem under Gamaliel – a famous Pharisees of that time. So Paul is a man of two worlds – the Roman world and the Jewish world.

Being a zealous Pharisee, Saul is anxious that nothing should stand in the way of the Jewish faith and so he strongly opposes the 'Way' of the Christians, seeing them as a threat to the faith and traditions of Israel. And so zealous is he that he begins a campaign of persecution and arrests. He believes that he is justified in doing so and he believes that he has the full force of the Jewish Law behind him, he believes that he is acting on God’s behalf – and so he instils fear in the disciples of the Lord. In Saul we have the first of many persecutors of the Church down through the centuries.

But on that road to Damascus he meets the Risen Christ. On that road he is struck blind and only then did he realise how blind he had really been up to that point. And Ananias is reluctant to go to him. Surely this is the man who wants to wipe out Christianity; surely this can’t be the Lord’s will? But Jesus replies: This man is my chosen instrument.’ He is chosen by God to be the greatest herald of the gospel the world has ever known. All the zeal and passion with which he persecuted the Church has been transformed and redirected due to his encounter with Christ and now he is passionately zealous for the gospel and the glory of Christ.

And that encounter with Christ became the reference point of the rest of his life. Everything he is, everything he says or writes, everything he does flows from his experience of Christ, comes from his knowing Christ. In his letter to the Philippians he gives us a glimpse of that passion for Christ which filled his soul when he writes:

"Circumcised on the eighth day of my life, I was born of the race of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew, born of Hebrew parents. In the matter of the Law, I was a Pharisee; as for religious fervour, I was a persecutor of the Church; as for the uprightness embodied in the Law, I was faultless. But what were once my assets I now through Christ Jesus count as losses. Yes, I will go further: because of the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, I count everything else as loss… I can only say that forgetting all that lies behind me, and straining forward to what lies ahead, I am racing towards the finishing point to win the prize of God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus."

The supreme advantage of knowing Christ transformed Saul the persecutor into Paul the Apostle of the nations who brought the message of salvation to the known world. It was a message he vehemently opposed in his ignorance of Christ, but knowing Christ, that message became the centre of his life, the reason for his existence and so he gladly underwent constant suffering for bearing witness to the name of Jesus. Eventually he would die for Christ and the Gospel.

Pope Benedict speaks of Paul in the following words: "We see a determination in Paul that is explained only by a soul truly fascinated by the light of the gospel, enamoured of Christ, a soul sustained by a profound conviction: That it is necessary to take the light of Christ to the world, to proclaim the gospel to all. Let us pray so that the Lord, who made Paul see his light and hear his words and touched his heart profoundly, make us also see his light, so that our hearts will also be touched by his word and so that we too will be able to give today’s world, which thirsts for it, the light of the gospel and the truth of Christ."
May the great St. Paul pray for us that we will be light-filled witnesses who illuminate our darkened world with the message and love of Christ.
In the Hearts of Jesus and Mary,
Fr. B

The Most Holy Name of Jesus

This is a prayer I wrote as a prayer of praise of the Holy Name of Jesus in reparation for the countless times daily that this name is misused and blasphemed in our society - particularly here in my native Ireland.

Lord Jesus, Your Sacred Name is above all other names and by no other name can we be saved. At the sound of Your Holy Name all the Cherubim and Seraphim bow down in awesome wonder. At the sound of Your Holy Name all the Saints of Heaven rejoice and lift their hearts and minds to God the Father in glory and praise of You, His only Son. At the Sound of Your Holy Name, the Blessed Ever-Virgin Mary, Your Mother and ours, humbly prostrates Herself before Your Throne in thanksgiving for the great things You have done for Her and in supplication for us, Her children.

Alas, here below Your Holy Name is too often blasphemed and misused. Even among Your followers; those who should know better, Your Name, O’ Jesus is too often uttered coldly or as though it were a blasphemous byword. And so I resolve to speak Your Holy Name often in love, each day growing in love for it, if Your Grace should allow me to. I desire to love Your Name, O’ Jesus, with all my heart, with all my soul and with all my might; and if by so doing I can offer some reparation for the countless blasphemies and offences against that Holy Name then I wish to glorify Your Name with every breath and every heartbeat, even unto my last.

Merciful Father, I ask you to send Your Holy Spirit upon all who misuse the Holy Name of Jesus, Your Son; that they may come to reverence that Most Blessed of Names. May that same Spirit purify all our hearts and lips, enabling us to love, praise and exalt the Holy Name of Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. May He enable all Your children to know the great power of the Name of Jesus, so that we may declare with our lips and confess with our lives, to the Glory of Your Name, that Jesus Christ is Lord. Amen.

Prayer to obtain a Conversion through St. Joseph

We all have someone we know and love who has wandered somewhat from the faith. The prayer below entrusts these people to the powerful intercession of St. Joseph.

O Glorious Patriarch St. Joseph, who merited to be called ‘just’ by the Holy Spirit, I urgently recommend to you the soul of (Name) which Jesus redeemed at the price of his Most Precious Blood.

You know how deplorable is the state and how unhappy the life of those who have banished this loving Saviour from their hearts, and how greatly they are exposed to the danger of losing him eternally.

Permit not, I implore you, that this soul so dear to me should continue any longer in its evil ways.

Preserve it from the danger that threatens it. Touch the heart of this prodigal child and conduct him (her) back to the bosom of the Heavenly Father.

Abandon him (her) not, I implore you, until you open to him (her) the gates of the heavenly city, where he (she) will praise and bless you through all eternity for the happiness which he (she) will owe to your powerful intercession.
St. Joseph, loving Foster-Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ and Most Chaste Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary; pray for us now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mary's Meals work in Haiti

This video shows the work of the charity Mary's Meals in Haiti before the recent earthquake. The video was made about 8 months ago. It's disturbing to look at but what must the place look like now that there has been the quake.

My First Ever Blog Entry

And so it is lauched. Just read this morning about how Benedict XVI our Holy Father has asked that we priests get on to the net and evangelise. So here I am with my meager contribution. I have no idea where to go from here, no direction, no ideas, just me and my keyboard.

In the Hearts of Jesus and Mary,

Fr. Barnabas