Tag Archives: catholic

The future of the church and the world is hidden in plain sight – in the life and teaching of Jesus

Firstly, I want you to understand that the decline of the church is itself an example of Jesus own teaching, eg, Matt 5:13, “…if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men.”

This is what has happened to the Catholic Church in our time. The fall of the Catholic Church in Ireland is this teaching of Jesus – and many similar teachings – made flesh in our time. This is intended to teach us, all of us, people inside and outside the church about the consequences of ignoring the teaching of Jesus.

I want you to grasp this – the teaching of Jesus is always made flesh, it becomes our lived experience.

This is not just true in the church but also in the world; any decline in the human-divine relationship – unchecked – will always result in a time of decline which in turn leads to a time of suffering for humanity through real historical events. This is the reason Jesus begins his ministry; repent! For example, according to the message of Fatima, World War II was one such event. Bear in mind the message of Fatima was saying this twenty years before the actual event. In our time Medugorje is flagging similar warnings concerning our future.

Secondly, I want you to understand that there will also be gracious acts of God that will reverse the decline.

I don’t know how far the decline will go before this begins to happen. For example, I do not know how many parishes will close, how many congregations will die out before it happens. But when it does happen, it’ll be dramatic and rapid, in a matter of days… quite suddenly there’ll be queues for Baptism and Confession.

At this point – on this July day 2021 – the Divine correction of the church is well advanced but the correction of the world is only in its very early stages. The church first because in the mind of God the church – the gathering of his disciples – should be the yeast in the dough that is the world, but when the yeast is off, well, then it has to be fixed – and fixed first. Then the dough. Again, the teaching of Jesus is being made flesh, it is becoming our lived experience.

Corpus Christi and Fatima; the centrality of Mass in God’s design.

Corpus Christi: the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. The whole mystery of God – from Christmas to Easter and beyond – packaged and given to us to be opened… plundered.

This is how God becomes ‘concrete’ in time, how he becomes personal, how he enters our lives…

This then is the big one!

But unfortunately for us (and it will be unfortunate!) in our day we’ve lost the importance of Mass. So, during the week I gave some thought to how I might register the cosmic significance of the Mass – even that’s understating it! Eventually I settled on using the events in Fatima to stress the centrality of the Mass in God’s design.

There’s a little known detail about Fatima that is so instructive in this regard. Shortly before the appearances of Our Lady in Fatima in 1917 an angel appeared to the three children. But the angel didn’t come empty handed.

The angel carried a host and a chalice in his hands… blood spilled from the host into theAngel of Fatima Image chalice. The children instantly recognized the host and the chalice as the central elements of the Mass.

Let’s stop at this point to reflect.

Why didn’t the angel bring a can of coke and a packet of crisps? Why not a glass of beer and a steak burger from the BBQ?

Then the angel did something even more instructive. Leaving the host and the chalice suspended in mid-air, the angel prostrated himself (bowed down before) the suspended host and chalice, taught the children to do the same, on their knees with their foreheads touching the ground and taught them a prayer.

Let’s stop again.

Why didn’t the angel say they should surf the waves on a Sunday morning and find God there? Or climb a mountain? Or go for a walk or a 10 kilometre run?

Why? Because God has chosen the way in which he gives himself – in bread and wine, the Mass!

Let’s look at the prayer, it’s equally instructive.

Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore you profoundly. I offer you the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for all the outrages, sacrileges and indifference by which you are offended. Through the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary I beg the conversion of poor sinners.

“Holy Trinity” (last Sunday); “Body and Blood… present in all the tabernacles” (today, Corpus Christi); “Sacred Heart” (next Friday) – there’s reason to these things, order!

Of all the prayers the angel could have taught, why this prayer?

The immediate purpose of Fatima was to prevent World War II – Our Lady told the children in 1917 that if people didn’t stop offending God a more terrible war would break out…

There’s a basic spiritual principle to be extracted here – the rejection of God (in other words the acceptance of sin) always ends in the figure of a crucified humanity. The rule of sin always leads to ruin.

I’ll finish with a question; according to the events that occurred in Fatima how important is the Mass?

Second Sunday of Easter: Christ without the Church is a contradiction.

What’s brought them to this room? They’re gathered in the room for the same reason that Mary of Magdala was up early on Easter Sunday morning – while it was still dark – visiting the tomb of Jesus. They love him; if they didn’t love him they wouldn’t be there – simple as that. They’d be at home or occupied in some other way. They’d be somewhere else.

And what brings Christ to this particular room? Why not a room in some other house? Because the people who love him are gathered in this particular room. “Why should the privileges of the true Christian be disclosed to humankind at large?” (John Henry Newman). It’s not going to happen. He reveals himself to those who love him.

There’s something else about the people gathered in this room. Each person there is leaving another life behind – perhaps family and friends too – and they’re gaining new friends, bound together by a common interest and love; the person of Jesus Christ. This love steals their hearts and unites them with others (once strangers) in a bond that’s effectively the formation of a new family; the Church.

The idea that we can somehow follow Christ on our own is nonsense. Once Christ steals more than one heart he binds those hearts together in a union of love – which is why we find the disciples gathered together. They belong to one another as much as they belong to Christ. One flows into the other. Christ without the Church is a contradiction and the Church without Christ is an even bigger contradiction!

Torch-lit Good Friday 2014 Way of the Cross procession presided over by Pope Francis at the Colosseum.

We can only presume about the whereabouts of Thomas. It seems odd that he’s not with them. Why isn’t he with the others? What could be more important? I suspect he’s among the first people to leave the Church, disappointed and disillusioned, his faith shattered by the events of Good Friday. To borrow the words of Pope Francis; Thomas sees the monstrosity of man when we allow ourselves to be guided by evil, rather than seeing the mercy of God. Sound familiar? How many have left the Catholic Church for this very reason? And his insistence that unless he can see the holes that the nails made is the demand of a man near the edge of faith.

How is he saved from the edge? Eight days later the infant Church is gathered again and this time Thomas has returned to the fold because of the witness of the others. Now he encounters the risen Christ himself and the encounter restores his faith in Christ but it also seals his return to the Church – one flows into the other.

This is profoundly instructive – the future of the Church hangs on this and this alone; encountering Jesus Christ.

The Presentation of the Lord

Luke 2:22-32

Homily Notes

Today I’d like to draw your attention to a detail that I find fascinating and indeed instructive for us on this February day in 2014.

When God became man He inserted himself in a particular religion; Judaism.

Thus we see Mary and Joseph bringing the child Jesus to the Temple to fulfil the requirements of Judaism. They were a religious family.

Indeed, Luke tells us that at the age of twelve years Jesus went missing and when Mary and Joseph found him, they found him in the Temple – where else? – “sitting among the doctors, listening to them, and asking them questions” Luke 2:41-46

IMG_0695Judaism and the Temple played a significant role in Jesus’ life. The Gospels reveal him moving between on the one hand, the Synagogues and the Temple and on the other hand, the sinners, the outsiders, calling all to himself as the fulfilment of Judaism – and nothing less than the light whom God has prepared for all the nations to see!

Although Jesus challenges the Jewish leaders, at times using very strong words, and although the Gospels reveal corruption within Judaism (take such corruption out and there’d be nothing of the Bible left!) Jesus never abandons Judaism but rather calls the Jewish people to fulfil their religion.

He affirms Judaism saying he has come not to abolish Judaism but to fulfil, to bring to completion, and with those who follow him he brings to birth out of Judaism the Christian religion which is historically Catholic.

Now I’d like you to see what I see – there’s an order to God inserting Himself in human affairs, it’s clearly bounded, and it’s far from perfect. In fact it’s imperfect, but God inserts Himself into it, and although there are clear boundaries, there’s a line through history, a particular people moving through history to this day – the People of God which is the Church, the baptized – there’s an open invitation to all people to enter in, to be a part of it, and to find Jesus Christ there, who doesn’t wait for perfection, doesn’t run away from corruption, but places himself in the middle of it and calls us to our proper fulfilment.

Remember, He is the light and a light is at its best in the darkness!

Gospel (shorter version) Matthew 4:12-17 The people that lived in darkness and who dwell in the shadow of death has seen a great light.

If I’m not mistaken Zebulun and Naphtali were the extremities of Israel at the time of Jesus.

So the light reaches to the extremities. It reaches out, which is what it’s doing right here, right now.

The point of Catholicism is that Jesus Christ is already our light. He’s not meant to be outside us, he’s meant to be in here (inside). This is the critically important journey that every Catholic must make.

But often, even for Catholics, particularly cradle Catholics, the light inside us is someone or worse still something else, someone or something other than Jesus Christ.

We have our idols! Money is the obvious idol, education can become an idol (note the recent comments by the Minister for Education), even our children can become idols! There are endless possibilities.

IMG_0794

Where God is not loved, idols are loved instead. It’s a basic spiritual truth. These idols or ‘lights’ are the real driving force within Irish life today.

Every person has such a light or lights. The light of my life is what gives meaning to my life.

So ask yourself what it is, what’s the light that you’re living for, that keeps you going?

Then ask; will that light ever go out?

Jesus Christ once remarked; what if the light inside you is actually darkness? What darkness that will be!

There’s only one light that never goes out – Jesus Christ.

Thus Jesus begins his preaching with a call to ‘repent’ – why? – because the kingdom of Heaven is close at hand. Get the connection!

In other words, repent, which means turn away from sin, from idols, and turn towards God, so that you may enter the life of God and find what humankind is really looking for in our idols.

Homily Notes

The Baptism of the Lord

When Jesus entered the waters of the Jordan to be baptized by John He was setting the tone for all that would follow.

John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance for sinners.

So by choosing to be baptised by John, by sharing in the baptism of sinners, Jesus deliberately put Himself among sinners as a brother – but He was (is) a brother who was (is) also the Divine Physician, the Saviour; a voice spoke from Heaven, this is my Son, the beloved.

Jesus put Himself among sinners, not to judge, not to condemn (this got him into difficulty), but to love, to attract to a better way of life, a new life, the life of God which every person can reach through repentance and conversion.

In many ways Pope Francis has chosen to walk on to the world stage in this way.

It’s amazing how many people accept the first part – the liberal left are all for Jesus as our brother – but choose to ignore the call to repentance and a new way of life!

True to form, the liberal left are misunderstanding Francis (because they misunderstand Jesus) and we’re witnessing the most amazing unfounded psychological projection of the liberal lefts desires on to Pope Francis.

Meanwhile, many traditionalists are a little confused.

It’s like being back in the days of Jesus!

 

Be the star that leads to Jesus! The Epiphany.

A star guides the three wise men, the three kings, to the infant-King.

A star no less! This is a cosmic event. This child is significant, to say the least. The psalm captures it well: “All nations shall fall prostrate before you, O Lord.”

This child is the Saviour of all – all nations. Get that; all. Mind-blowing!

Pope Francis says there’s no middle ground in this – “it’s either light or dark, haughtiness or humility, the truth or the lie. We either open the door to Jesus who comes to save us, or close it in (our belief in) self-sufficiency and the pride of self-salvation.”

I once considered politics, but it was just too much of a compromise. He’s either the Saviour or he’s not, there is no middle ground!

That’s the meaning of the Epiphany – but God will never force the matter. Neither can we.

Instead, be the star that leads to Him!

Have a happy Feast of the Epiphany.

‘Enter Christmas through the door of the Eucharist’ (Benedict XVI)

Homily Notes

Second Sunday of Christmas.

John 1:1-5,9-14

If I may begin with a preliminary remark.

John’s Gospel is a little different to the others – the author has begun to theologize about the historical events. In fact, in the first few lines, the writer summarizes the whole Gospel.

So, let’s get to the real business of today’s homily.

if Christmas is a past event how does God enter our world today?

Firstly, it’s not a past event.

Secondly, God enters our world in many ways but the way he enters par excellence is through the Mass.

Mass perpetuates the incarnation by God’s design. Mass is Jesus Christ continuing his incarnation in our time until his second coming.

This is the wonder of Catholicism, the joy of being a Catholic; that Christmas is not a past event but God is as near as the Mass and the Tabernacle.

In fact, God’s presence in the Mass is more powerful than his presence two thousand years ago – because the Mass is God’s gift of himself, inclusive of his life, death and resurrection in Jesus Christ, it’s therefore not just the person of God, but also the whole work of God, packaged and delivered to your door.

Are you at home?

In the gift of the Mass whereby God continues his incarnation among men and women the same dynamic of acceptance and non-acceptance, belief and unbelief is evident.

Through the gift of the Eucharist He perpetuates (continues) his incarnation, continues to enter the world that has its being through him, yet so often the world does not recognize Him.

He comes to his own people (Catholics) and his own people do not recognize Him!

Just think of how many Catholics have abandoned the Mass? And what they think they’ve abandoned is missing the point!

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.

You can’t separate Jesus Christ and the Mass – same reality.

Human suffering is an argument against an imaginary God!

Homily Notes.

Today I’d like to suggest that human suffering is an argument against an imaginary God. It’s certainly not an argument against the God of the incarnation.

I’ll use the Holy Family to illustrate my point.

Firstly, a preliminary point. God doesn’t force us to believe.

Yet, in the Incarnation, in God becoming a human child God is really pushing us to believe.

If God did anything more he’d tip the scales into forcing belief.

Think for a moment about what would convince you to believe? What would clinch the God argument for you?

If that happened would you still be free? I doubt it. God would be doing the work, eroding your freedom.

Undoubtedly one of the greatest obstacles to belief is suffering, particularly human suffering.

Yet the Incarnation (the Holy Family) itself is riddled through with human suffering. Doesn’t that speak loudly?

We must surely accept that such a significant detail is instructive. God is saying something to us.

From the moment Mary conceived, the Incarnation is a series of highs and lows, joys and sorrows, consolation and desolation.

From the high of hearing and seeing an Angel announce her pregnancy to the low of Joseph deciding to leave her, from the high of God’s intervention through a dream convincing Joseph to stay, to the low of finding no room at the Inn, only a stable after an exhausting journey on the back of a donkey!

This is God! At what point did Mary wonder?

From the joy of the birth on Christmas night – the wonder of it – the arrival of the shepherds, nothing less than a star pointing out the child Jesus (a cosmic event) to the rapid descent into terror as Mary and Joseph flee with their infant into Egypt to avoid Herod’s soldiers who were slaughtering every new born male child. Put yourself in Mary’s shoes, Joseph’s shoes.

‘You destroy those who are tiny in body because fear is destroying your heart’

Ultimately the woman who is rightly considered the most blessed of all women rose with her Son to the heights of acclamation as He performed miracle after miracle, but also plunged with him to the ridicule, the condemnation and the suffering of his passion and death.

Talk about a roller coaster!

This is a real woman and a real family.

What are they teaching us?

Faith in the God of the incarnation (as opposed to an imaginary God) is not destroyed by human suffering but overcomes it, transcends it, finally and definitively in the resurrection. Faith is not avoidance but the power to embrace and overcome.

How do we obtain faith like that? That kind of faith is a gift of God, infused supernaturally through grace.

It is what passes between God and an individual soul in hidden hours of prayer while the rest of us are busy, worrying and fretting about so many things. Mostly about trying to make a life!

It’s ridiculous to suggest that God became man but he’s not looking for Obama, Merkel, Cameron, Kenny and you!

Homily Notes, Christmas 2013

Some people get confused about the role of the Church.

Politicians and Governments often do, viewing the Church as if it was a foreign state attempting to interfere in another state’s affairs.

Perhaps the fact that there is a state – the Vatican – fuels such thinking.

But the Church is not interested in the State.

We’re interested in the rule or reign of God in human affairs, in the inculturation of the Gospel (the Gospel becomes our culture), in Jesus Christ becoming Lord. The journey of the Church year, from Christmas (December) to Our Lord Jesus Christ Universal King (November) is an interior journey that the Church wants all to make.

The reign of God in human affairs is human peace, human joy, it is the only guarantee of human well-being.

If God doesn’t rule human affairs, there can be no lasting happiness and without conversion human affairs will tumble. That means human suffering. Therefore Christmas can never be viewed as a purely religious event.

Besides, it’s ridiculous to suggest that God became man and yet it doesn’t have universal significance; to suggest that God became man but he’s not looking for Obama, Merkel, Cameron, Kenny and you!

The primary function of the Church is to convince every State, every head of State and every citizen of every State to take Christmas (and Easter) seriously, to treat Christmas –

  • not as a sentimental irrelevance to the real work of daily life
  • not primarily as a time for family and family reunions;
  • not primarily as a commercial event;
  • not as a purely religious event;
  • and certainly not as a time to be reinvented replacing Christ with Season (Happy Holiday Season!) or worse still to replace Christ with X!

– but rather, as a decisive intervention of God in order to direct and order human affairs and bring them to fulfilment. Follow me, he says. Look … I want your attention!

And in particular that we do not narrow our vision so that life becomes nothing more than time between the two points of birth and death.

So open wide the doors …He became man so that we may become divine!