Sunday, 6 November 2011

As a vegetarian (kinda) I think this is ridiculous....

Technically I'm a pescatarian; I eat fish but not meat. Why? That's a big question, with a long answer which I'm not particularly passionate about (practical reason relating to the meat industry rather than any principled objections to eating meat). I've often been called the worst vegetarian in the world, as people see me tasting a little bit of their steak ECT. So It's with great interest and disgust then that I have just watched this video from BBC News.

It seems that through a combination of efforts from anti-Islamic, secularist and animal rights campaigners, a law to ban Halal and Kosher slaughter in the country has been enacted. The ruling will have little effect in practise because it's still permissible to sell halal meat, therefore it will just be brought into the country frozen.

As a supporter of animal rights, it seem's on a completely practical level that the Dutch need to sort their own act out before they make small, pretty and ignorant reactions to religious minorities. This country has one of the worst records in term of factory farming out there; you only need to look at the country of origin on a huge amount of the cheapest pork in the supermarkets to confirm this. Factory farming is actually one of the main reasons I'm a vegetarian. It's disgusting! Don't just take my word for it, Pope Benedict, then Cardinal Ratzinger, said in 2002 that "Animals, too, are God's creatures . . . . Certainly, a sort of industrial use of creatures, so that geese are fed in such a way as to produce as large a liver as possible, or hens live so packed together that they become just caricatures of birds, this degrading of living creatures to a commodity seems to me in fact to contradict the relationship of mutuality that comes across in the Bible." 

Even the Catechism of the Catholic Church states that "It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly." And therein lies the reason I don't think it's acceptable to factory farm, whilst I do, recognising it is slightly crueller, think that Muslims and Jewish people should be allowed to do ritual slaughter. 'It is against human dignity', should actually be the basis and foundation  of all animal rights. Only Human beings are created in a unique way in the image and likeness of God, but what then does it say about the way in which we respect this dignity if we cause needless suffering to the rest of his creation. Factory farming is both needless and cruel, therefore it is wrong. Furthermore it should fall upon all Catholics and other people of good will to not support (in this case financially) something which is wrong. Right I'm digressing - back to ritual slaughter!

Given that it is against our human dignity to cause unnecessary suffering to animals, we must also remember that it is against our human dignity to restrict the religious freedoms of others. A balance needs to be found, and remembering that it is crueller rather than cruel in itself to do ritual slaughter, the current situation which exists in most western countries seems adequate. It is normally required that animals should be stunned prior to slaughter, except in religious cases. It should be remembered than any good Muslim Or Jew has a religious motive to cause a minimum of suffering to the animal, whereas a secular employee in an abattoir has nothing but the requirement to ensure the animal is stunned (and many undercover operations show that this is not always followed). 

What's particularly disturbing with the change in the law is the motive of this decision, and it's something that we as Catholics should be concerned about as well, as we have increasingly anti-religious and secularised laws being enacted. In part this is racist, and the parallels drawn by the Dutch Chief Rabbi express this most eloquently. This alone would not suffice in what is still overall a very liberal country, therefore 'animals rights' motives are brought into the equation to act as a thin disguise. It's clear than in this most liberal and tolerant country, as with most others, all respect for a persons religious freedoms amount to nothing but the desire to ensure freedom of worship. When such an indifference is combined with hated, or well meaning but misguided intentions we see what bad results come from it.

We see once more the consequences of liberal secularization. Well done Holland. 

Thursday, 3 November 2011

A prayer I composed for holy hour in my parish tommorow

Reflection before the Blessed Sacrament.

Lord Jesus our faith teaches us that that the sacrifice on the Cross, when you bled and died for our sins, is made present at every Mass, and that you give yourself to us in Holy Communion as food for eternal life.  Lord we know that through the words of consecration spoken by the priest, ‘this is my body’ and ‘this is my blood’ that you become present sacramentally: body, blood, soul and divinity, right before our eyes. Lord we know that it’s not merely symbolic; we know that your love for us is so extravagant that you could not stop at the symbolic, but that you had to give us everything. Even your body. Even your blood. Lord by uniting ourselves spiritually with you in Holy Communion we unite our own prayers, works and sufferings to your perfect sacrifice. And so Lord, we come before you now, truly present in the greatest sacrament, to give you thanks, but also to ask you to increase our faith, our love and our reverence. As we listen now Lord, to these words from the holy Gospel, we ask that it will be truly you speaking to each of our hearts, just as you spoke to the crowds two thousand years ago.

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to St John

[Jesus said]I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.’

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ So Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 

Lord the hungry crowds challenged you; they wanted food, because the day before you fed them with five loaves and two fish. They knew that you had power to do anything, so they wanted more. Jesus they wanted more bread, but you wanted to give them the "the bread of life". Jesus they wanted to have their stomachs filled, but you wanted to fulfil their lives. It’s no wonder then that they said, ‘how can this man give us his flesh to eat’. But Lord, you told them all the more adamantly “the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.’ Again they said, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’. They were stupefied Lord because now they understood you correctly, and in great sadness Lord you saw their unbelief. One more time Lord you lovingly told them with even greater emphasis, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him" (John 6:53–56). 

Lord Jesus, we can only imagine your great sadness, as the first people began to doubt that you could love us enough to give us such a great gift. Lord, the Gospel tells us later, that it was in the rejection of the Eucharist, that Judas and many of the other followers began to fall away from you. We’re sorry Lord for the time’s when we doubt. Increase our faith. We’re sorry Lord for the times when we’re so distracted with other things that we forget to love and thank you in Holy Mass. Increase our love. We’re sorry Lord for the times when we haven’t shown reverence for your precious body and blood, by receiving you in a state of sin, by missing Mass, by chatting in church or whatever else it might be. Increase our reverence.

Lord, we thank you now for your great gift. Because you have loved us so much, we promise to love you and to give you everything in return. Jesus you have many plans for our lives, let us not be afraid, but through your grace give us the strength to say yes to everything you ask, and to do so with a smile Lord. It’s so amazing that you are here with us Lord, and there is nowhere we would rather be than here. You’re so humble Lord, and you have made yourself so vulnerable to us. Help us to imitate your humility, your gentleness and your extravagant love. Help us to make ourselves vulnerable to you so that we can see you as you truly are.

Thank you Jesus.

These are really good

Monday, 31 October 2011

Bishop Mark Davies, The Year of Faith and the heart of St John Marie Vianney

During a celebration of Holy Mass on Sunday the 16th of October for people involved in the New Evangelization, the Holy Father announced that there would be a 'Year of Faith', to help Catholics to deepen their appreciation of their faith, to increase it and to be more open to sharing it with others. 

This news has already provoked positive reactions in the Catholic blogging world, but what concrete steps have been taken by the leadership? what lay initiatives have been born? Unsurprisingly given that the news was only given a couple of weeks ago not much at all. I have it from a very reliable source however, that one very significant thing will take place as a result of the action of the quite frankly fantastic Bishop of Shrewsbury, Mark Davies. The incorrupt heart of St John Marie Vianney, the Cure de Ars, will visit his diocese next year. Not only that, but there are, as yet unconfirmed, plans that the heart will not only be confined to Shrewsbury Diocese. The Catholic Community here has barely managed to relax after the fantastic visit of Pope last year, and the wonderful memories of the tour of the Relics of St Therese are still fresh in all our minds. It's clear that this is exactly the kind of initiative Pope Benedict had in mind for the year of faith, so what else but gratitude can be given to the Bishop Mark Davies for his excellent work for the Lord and his diocese.

Can any saint in modern times be said to have had a deeper and more attractive faith than St John Vianney? Could any saint teach us more profoundly what it means to appreciate our faith - most particularly in the sacraments - with all our heart?  It's more than obvious that what is needed in the Church in England and Wales and most of the western world for that matter, is a thorough renewal of our faith and confidence. St John Vianney encapsulates exactly what this means. Let's not forget that he was sent to the village of Ars, a place known for it's irreligious ways, and without money, assistance, or great intelligence he managed to turn the entire place around through his deep and simple faith. It was his faith which informed every aspect of his being and It's exactly his example which is needed in our land because a renewal of faith in the Church and the country start's with a renewal of our own Faith and lives. 

The heart of the patron saint of parish priests is very well travelled, going on regular tours around the world in order to inspire faith in the peoples; although it is usually kept in a shrine near the Basilica built in honour of the saint. In previous tours, long lines of people to go to confession have formed after praying before the heart. This is especially fitting as the saint was known for spending sometimes up to 17 hours per day hearing confessions.

The only problem I can see with all of this is that we're going to have to wait a whole year. Bring it on!!!!

St John Marie Vianney - Pray for Us!

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Do you like a challenge?

Make me bigger and take a second look
I've been working hard on part two today, it shouldn't be too shabby and hopefully will be ready tomorrow. In the meantime a few thing to challenge you...

  • The world offers you comfort: you were not made for comfort, you were made for greatness (Pope Benedict)
  • Who was the first man that broke all Ten Commandments? (answer in the comments)
  • When did you faith put you outside of you comfort zone today?
  • Born once, die twice; born twice, die once. What does it mean? (answer in the comments)
  • "One day through the Rosary and the Scapular I will save the world." (Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Dominic)

Friday, 28 October 2011

Evangelical Church / Institutional Church - part 1

Archbishop Chaput

“The biggest challenge, not just in Philadelphia but everywhere, is to preach the Gospel. . . . We need to have confidence in the Gospel, we have to live it faithfully, and to live it without compromise and with great joy.”

Just last week I was asked the question, 'what kind of Catholic are you'? How do you answer that question... Lapsed, cradle, practising, 'good', Maronite, pious, charismatic, 'bad', convert, Sunday morning, traditionalist, Roman, liberal, struggling, zealous, orthodox to name but a few!. In some way or another I think I could put myself into most of them. It's easy therefore to think that there is no value in this question but the kind of Catholic that we are determines the kind of Church that we have. If we box and insulate ourselves into the same 'liberal' and 'traditional' clubs which have existed since the Vatican II then we will be creating, by the Holy Fathers admission, an institutional Church intent on only a self seeking insular mission. What then is the antidote to this trap which has caused a stagnation in the Spiritual life of the western Church? What kind of Catholic must we be then, in order to have a Church intent on only one thing; the Gospel?

Liberal? Traditional? Not what?
Radical, Happy, and Evangelical!!
I want to state my case now for a church as described by Archbishop Chaput above- for the need of an Evangelical Church. Of course, this also means that that I'm stating my case for us (yes, you AND me) to become Evangelical Catholics. For those whose noses are already turned up, let me start by telling you what this doesn't mean. Firstly and most importantly this is NOT a position which advocates rupture with the Church's Tradition or the Magisterium. Secondly, and very importantly, this is not about either keeping things the way they are (simply running an institution), or attempting to roll back the clock to take the Church back to an imagined perfection. Of course this last point should be clarified, because the Church in one sense has always been, and still is, perfect as the Body of Christ, instituted by Our Lord himself. At the same time we must remember that whilst the Bride (the Church((Rev 19: 7)) is one flesh with the perfect bridegroom (Christ), it is also composed of many fallible and imperfect beings who will not reach their intended perfection until after death. 

Without vision no organisation gets anywhere, and the Church is no different. The problem at the moment is that we have no vision, and have lost confidence in the core message of the Gospel and in the transforming potential it contains. Many believers are in fact  positively embarrassed by the Gospel, trying instead to turn the message of the church into other important, but non-salvific, issues such a social justice and and cultural expressions of the Catholic Faith. 

So what is this Evangelical Catholicism if not going back, not staying the same and not something novel? The answer is simple; it's an ever necessary charism of the Church which we must once again rediscover, emphasise and live in a way which is relevant to to the church in contemporary society. It is a vision of the Church  grounded in living and proclaiming the Gospel in both a radical and relevant way which has been seen clearly  in many of the great Saints of the church from St Paul, St Dominic, St Francis, and Blessed Pope John Paul II. In Modern Society of course this in part means a zealous sense of urgency for Social Justice, and for regaining our Catholic identity, but it also requires orthodoxy combined with a deep and through renewal of our own lives and the Church

The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, like both his predecessors has identified that we live in a time in which 'a New Evangelisation is needed'. Nothing but a new and radical living AND proclamation of the WHOLE Gospel Without compromise, and the joy which it brings, will suffice. 

This is Part One, and just an light introduction to the topic. In Part Two we will look at the different ways in which Evangelical Catholicism has been lived in the past in the lives of the saints mentioned previously. In Part Three we will look at the current situation, both in a society hostile to religion and a Church which has largely fell into a state of stagnation and institutionalisation, and the need for an Evangelical Catholicism to respond to this situation with fresh, faithful, and radical ways of living the Gospel. 

Meatless Friday recipe

Just because it's Friday and you can't eat meat it doesn't mean you can't make make something adventurous. How about this very scrummy looking Jamaican recipe I found for 'Curry shrimp'.

'God is not the property of believers'

It seems that fears of syncretism have amounted to little more than the wishful thinking of a small number of fear-mongers bitter at their own lack of charity after the successful day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi. 25 years since the first meeting of faith representatives in Assisi, The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, has once again reminded faith leaders from across the globe of the collective responsibility that people of faith, and none, have towards peace. The meeting entitled "pilgrim of truth, pilgrims of peace', challenged all present: Catholics, Christians, other religious figures and non-believers to bring true peace. The Pope delivered a hard hitting message which did not shy away from difficult subject areas including terrorism, atheism, and even some of the benefits of the growth of agnosticism.

A number of delegates gave talks, including atheist philosopher Julia Kristeva. She noted that "for the first time homosapiens are capable of destroying the earth and themselves in the name of their beliefs, religions, or ideologies... [but today's meeting showed that] the hypothesis of destruction is not the only possibility." It is encouraging to hear non-believers engaging in discussion with people of faith in a world where their only objective at times seems to be one of hostility.

The pontiff reminded over 300 delegates from over 50 countries that since the first visit astounding accomplishments had been made, not least that just one year afterwards the Berlin Wall, a 'conspicuous symbol' of division, was brought down 'without a drop of bloodshed'. The address made in the Basilica of St Mary of the Angels reminded the diverse crowd that that the 'deepest reason for the event...[was] a spiritual one', but also that since then 'freedom and peace [have not] Characterised the situation'. Despite the absence of great wars, and indeed despite the the spread of freedom throughout the world 'discord has taken on new and frightening guises', and that we must all struggle for peace in these places. 

Terrorism was obviously chosen by the Holy Father as one of the great causes of strife in the modern world, but he was adament that the 'specifically religious character of the attacks', should be discomforting for all present because contrary to the post-Enlightenment critique of religion 'this is not the true nature of religion. It is the antithesis of religion and contributes to its destruction'. He humbly acknowledged that the the justification of violence within Christianity in past times has been a 'shame[full]... abuse of the Christian faith'.

The second form of violence found in the world today which people of faith must respond to was described as 'complex' because it stems as a 'result of God’s absence, his denial and the loss of humanity which goes hand in hand with it'. Where it is the nature of religion to set set standards, 'the denial of God has led to much cruelty and to a degree of violence that knows no bounds'. Where people of religion are conscious of their actions in light of judgement, 'man no longer recognizes any criterion or any judge above himself'. He highlighted the concentration camps as an example of such blatant cruelty. He did not mention what effect this mentality was having on the world today as it would obviously not make for a harmonious meeting, but it is clear that his message indicated a loss of recognition for the inherent dignity of the Human person. Where is this more evident than with abortion? In light of the Pope's remarks the words of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta ring clearer than ever: 'I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child - a direct killing of the innocent child - murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?'

The most surprising and challenging part of the address for me was his reflection on the growth of agnosticism. He remarked that these people who 'do not simply assert: “There is no God”... [they] suffer from his absence and yet are inwardly making their way towards him, inasmuch as they seek truth and goodness.  They are “pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace”.' The Holy Father demonstrated in a most refreshing way that they challenge both believers and atheists: 'they take away from militant atheists the false certainty by which these claim to know that there is no God... they also challenge the followers of religions not to consider God as their own property, as if he belonged to them, in such a way that they feel vindicated in using force against others'.  When viewed from this perspective it is clear that the use of God to justify violence is a vile form of blasphemy.

After Pope Benedict addressed the assembled group, they attended a 'frugal dinner' in the nearby Franciscan monastery, after which each went their own ways in order to pray and to reflect. This was a marked difference from previous meetings where the leaders had prayed in each others presence (although not together); Pope Benedict had wanted to Emphasise the integrity of the differences between each belief and removed any suspicion of syncretism from the meeting. The day was finished with a communal visit to the final resting place of St Francis of Assisi, the great saint who even in the 13th century made heroic efforts to bring peace between Christians and Muslims. 

The Pope ended by saying "From my heart I thank all of you here present for having accepted my invitation to come to Assisi as pilgrims of truth and peace and I greet each one of you in Saint Francis' own words: May the Lord grant you peace - 'il Signore ti dia pace.'"

What a fantastic Pope God Has blessed us with! Deo Gratias!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

What a disgusting anniversary today, would you like to help make it beautiful?

The 27th of October 2011 marks the 44th anniversary of Parliament passing the Abortion Act. Since this Act, Which legalised abortion came into effect, over 7 million unborn children have been killed by abortion. The current law allows for abortion to be carried out for purely social reasons up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, and indeed 98% of them are social. That's right, 98% of abortions are not carried out in order to protect the life or health of the mother, nor are they 'required' because of rape or incest. That remaining two percent are however perhaps the most frightening. Disabled children have little hope of entering the post Abortion Act world. In our 'equal' society an unborn child can be killed In Utero right up to birth for simply having a cleft lip. Consider that over nine out of every ten children with Down Syndrome is killed before birth.

Today is an opportunity for reparation.

The Good Counsel Network have called for us to fast and pray to end abortion. I have reposted the message they have sent me - please do what you can, God will do the rest.

Dear friends,

Tomorrow, Thursday 27th October 2011 is the 44th anniversary of the legalization of Abortion becoming Law in this country. In response to this we have chosen this day to be this month’s National Day of Prayer and Fasting for the end of Abortion and Euthanasia. Please join us in this day in one of the following ways:


Fast from all food except bread and water for the day
Fast from a particular food or luxury, e.g. chocolate, alcohol, cigarettes, TV.
Fast from whatever you can given your state of health etc, but make sure it is something that involves a sacrifice to yourself.



We are asking people to say a Rosary (or an extra Rosary if you say it daily already).

You could also offer an extra effort such as going to Mass (or an extra Mass) on the day, or going to Adoration. You can even pray before a closed tabernacle if Adoration is not available near you

(On account of the late notice it may be a good idea to start the fast 24 hour from this moment).

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