Monthly Archives: November 2013

St Vincent De Paul

You can purchase a present for a girl, boy or single parent. All presents should be returned on or before Sunday 15th December with the card securely attached with sellotape. The card is important as this is how we identify who the present is for.

The Annual Church Door collection will be taken up after Masses on Sat/Sun 8th December.

TEA AND COFFEE AFTER MASS

The young people from LOFT (Living our Faith Together) are giving parishioners an opportunity to ‘catch up’ with a cuppa after Mass in St Comgalls the first Sunday of each month. They will be serving up refreshments as well as selling you a bun – or two with proceeds in aid of LOFT

Why we need Purgatory, with C.S. Lewis

Thomas G. Casey, SJ examines key lessons from a genius of modern Christianity

 

Raised eyebrows

Lewis believed in Purgatory, and was well-aware that this would cause more than raised eyebrows among traditional Protestants. But he was an honest thinker who didn’t play to the gallery, and he was willing to speak the truth even at the price of courting unpopularity. He knew that our prayers for the dead don’t change their destination, which they learn immediately after death – whether that is Heaven or Hell. But he was convinced that our prayers can be of great help to those whose purification is not yet complete.

Sell-by date

We Catholics can learn about Purgatory from this Anglican, because sadly Purgatory is something we neglect to speak about today. It seems to have gone out of fashion, as though we imagine it has passed its sell-by date and should be discarded. But Purgatory was never fashionable; however, it was always true, and that is a crucial difference.

If we die without reaching the holiness of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, we’re not ready to enter into the presence of the thrice-holy God. If we make an act of perfect contrition for our sins before death, this will purify us. An act of perfect contrition is something truly deep, and for that reason not so easy to make. It must come from our heart, not just from our lips; it must be motivated by sorrow for having offended God who is infinitely good (and not simply to avoid punishment); it must entail detesting sin (and not merely disliking it); and it must include the firm resolve to renounce all sins (and not just some) and to amend our way of life, so that we would prefer death itself to sinning again.

If we have neither reached the holiness of the saints nor made an act of perfect contrition, then we need to go to Purgatory. Reflecting upon the death of his wife in A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis wrote that she “was a splendid thing, a soul straight, bright, and tempered like a sword. But not a perfected saint. A sinful woman married to a sinful man; two of God’s patients not yet cured. I know there are not only tears to be dried but stains to be scoured.”

Confused

As against this splendid honesty of Lewis, I concelebrate at many funeral Masses which leave me confused. During the sermons we are often (reliably?) told that the deceased is already in Heaven, which amounts to instant canonisation. But in the next breath we are often informed that he or she was no saint, which is another way of saying the person needs to go to Purgatory.

If we dismiss Purgatory, inadequate and false substitutes will enter to fill the spiritual vacuum it leaves behind. For instance, the belief in reincarnation, which causes more problems than it promises to solve. Try to picture being reincarnated as a rat. Do you really believe for a moment that your spirit or soul or personality would be in the rat? That if you died today in Dublin you would somehow be reincarnated as a rat on a rubbish heap in Manila next week and be living inside that rat? With your thoughts and your feelings? The truth is there would be no more ‘you’ anymore, only a rat going about its life as a rodent. But since there would be no you, talk of reincarnation is nonsense. Even the idea of you being reincarnated as another person is a fiction, because there would be no you, just the other person with his or her personality, experiences, pains and joys, but not with yours. Ultimately, then, why would you even care about reincarnation, since you would not be reincarnated, because there would be no you left?

Transformed

Although reincarnation does not make sense, Purgatory makes a lot of sense. God wants to transform us completely, and if we have not become totally transformed during the course of our life on earth, Purgatory offers us the chance to complete this process in the next life. As Lewis writes in his book on prayer:

“Our souls demand Purgatory, don’t they? Would it not break the heart if God said to us, ‘It is true, my son, that your breath smells and your rags drip with mud and slime, but we are charitable here and no one will upbraid you with these things, nor draw away from you. Enter into the joy’? Should we not reply, ‘With submission, sir, and if there is no objection, I’d rather be cleaned first.’ ‘It may hurt, you know’ – ‘Even so, sir.’” (Prayer: Letters to Malcolm).

Cleanse

Notice from this imagined dialogue that it is the soul itself which wants to go to Purgatory. After death, we see things more clearly than ever before. We are no longer distracted by iPods, TV, food, power, money or whatever. We now see how holy God truly is. The prospect of being in God’s presence with the tiniest stain upon it is complete anathema to us. Lewis writes: “I’d rather be cleaned first.” We cannot do anything of ourselves, or earn anything by our own merits to get us out of Purgatory. We ourselves cannot do the cleaning; only God can cleanse us.

And for those of us human beings still living on earth, it is a really generous gesture on God’s part to offer us the opportunity to hasten the liberation of souls from purgatory through our prayers. God bestows us the opportunity to bring them relief, and to give Him the joy of welcoming them home even sooner. That’s an amazing gift.

Because we don’t see the souls in Purgatory, we forget them all too easily. Because we cannot hear their cries for help, we don’t respond. Yet if we love them, there is no better way of expressing that love than by praying and sacrificing for them. Let’s leave the last word to Lewis:

“Of course I pray for the dead…At our age the majority of those we love best are dead. What sort of intercourse with God could I have if what I love best were unmentionable to Him?” (Prayer: Letters to Malcolm)

Fr Thomas Casey SJ lectures in philosophy at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth

 

Francis Wants to Shake the Church out of Complacency

Michael Kelly examines the Pope’s ‘roadmap to reform’, Evangelii Gaudium

 

Since his election eight months ago, Pope Francis has had no shortage of people willing to offer him advice about the governance of the Church. This advice has ranged from the barmy – the suggestion that he should appoint middle class Irishwomen as cardinals – to the intriguing – the idea that offices of the Roman Curia should be based in Hong Kong.

Tread carefully

The Pope will, of course, tread carefully. Having spent a considerable part of his life in leadership roles within the Church he will be acutely aware of the observation of G. K. Chesterton that “the reformer is always right about what is wrong. He is generally wrong about what is right.”

Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) is a tour de force on evangelisation, it is also a challenging document that calls all members of the Church to move beyond complacency. It is clear that the Pope wants the entire Church to be on a missionary footing, right up to the Pope himself. “I too must think about a conversion of the papacy,” he writes.

Suggestions

“It is my duty, as the Bishop of Rome, to be open to suggestions which can help make the exercise of my ministry more faithful to the meaning which Jesus Christ wished to give it and to the present needs of evangelisation.

“The papacy and the central structures of the universal Church also need to hear the call to pastoral conversion,” Pope Francis writes.

He clearly wants to breathe life into the concrete idea of collegiality understood as shared co-responsibility between the Vatican and local bishops. “The Second Vatican Council,” he writes, “stated that, like the ancient patriarchal Churches, episcopal conferences are in a position ‘to contribute in many and fruitful ways to the concrete realisation of the collegial spirit’. Yet this desire has not been fully realised, since a juridical status of episcopal conferences which would see them as subjects of specific attributions, including genuine doctrinal authority, has not yet been sufficiently elaborated.

“Excessive centralisation, rather than proving helpful, complicates the Church’s life and her missionary outreach,” the Pope writes.

There needs to be a lot of reflection on how collegiality can be exercised in the Church in a more collaborative fashion. I would say, however, the experience of bishops’ conference has been far from universally positive. Too often the bishops’ conference has served as an excuse for individual bishops to hide behind a form of collective responsibility which really leads to a situation where no one is responsible. A bishops’ conference can too often lead to a triumph of mediocrity where individual bishops are unwilling to speak or to act preferring to defer to a sometimes unwieldy structure.

The Pope will disappoint those who have sought to co-opt him as the so-called ‘loyal opposition’.

Nourishment

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the Pope’s text is where he speaks about the Eucharist as “not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak”.

“These convictions have pastoral consequences that we are called to consider with prudence and boldness,” the Pope writes, surely a thinly-veiled hint at the debate about the admittance of divorced and remarried Catholics to the Eucharist. He warns that “the Church is not a tollhouse; it is the house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems”.

Pope Francis is clearly a man who is open to listening. On the issue of abortion (which some commentators misinterpreted the Pope as asking the Church not to be concerned about in an earlier interview) he insists that “the Church cannot be expected to change her position on this question”.

“I want to be completely honest in this regard. This is not something subject to alleged reforms or ‘modernisations’. It is not ‘progressive” to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life,” the Pope insists as if directly answering the naïve commentators.

He is also definitive about the issue of women’s ordination insisting that it is “not a question open to discussion”. Instead, he is critical of those who see priesthood simply in terms of power and view the ordination of women as part of a power struggle in the Church. The Pontiff also is scathing in his critique of economic systems that imprison rather than liberate people. There is much in the text that will represent a challenge to conventional economic wisdom in austerity Ireland.

Pope Francis’ new teaching document is dramatic stuff written in clear, frank and insightful language. It offers us powerful challenges and shows that in Francis we have a Pope who cannot be neatly slotted into narrow categories.

 

The One who Practices Mercy does not Fear Death

 


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Good morning, and compliments on your courage in coming out to the Square in this cold. Many compliments.

I wish to complete the catechesis on the Creed developed during the Year of Faith, which concluded last Sunday. In this catechesis, as well as the next, I would like to consider the subject of the resurrection of the body, by seeking to grasp a deeper understanding of two of its aspects as they are presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church; i.e. our dying and our rising in Jesus Christ. Today I shall consider the first aspect, “dying in Christ”.

1. There is commonly among us a mistaken way of looking at death. Death affects us all, and it questions us in a profound way, especially when it touches us closely, or when it takes the little ones, the defenseless in such a way that it seems “scandalous”. I have always been struck by the question: why do children suffer? why do children die? If it is understood as the end of everything, death frightens us, it terrifies us, it becomes a threat that shatters every dream, every promise, it severs every relationship and interrupts every journey. This occurs when we consider our lives as a span of time between two poles: birth and death; when we fail to believe in a horizon that extends beyond that of the present life; when we live as though God did not exist. This concept of death is typical of atheistic thought, which interprets life as a random existence in the world and as a journey toward nothingness. But there is also a practical atheism, which is living for one’s own interests alone and living only for earthly things. If we give ourselves over to this mistaken vision of death, we have no other choice than to conceal death, to deny it, or to trivialize it so that it does not make us afraid.

2. However, the “heart” of man, with its desire for the infinite, which we all have, its longing for eternity, which we all have, rebels against this false solution. And so what is the Christian meaning of death? If we look at the most painful moments of our lives, when we lost a loved one – our parents, a brother, a sisters, a spouse, a child, a friend – we realize that, even amid the tragedy of loss, even when torn by separation, the conviction arises in the heart that everything cannot be over, that the good given and received has not been pointless. There is a powerful instinct within us, which tells us that our lives do not end with death.

This thirst for life found its real and true and reliable response in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ Resurrection does not only give us the certainty of life after death, it also illumines the very mystery of the death of each one of us. If we live united to Jesus, faithful to him, we will also be able to face the passage of death with hope and serenity. In fact, the Church prays: “If the certainty of having to die saddens us, the promise of future immortality consoles us”. This is a beautiful prayer of the Church! A person tends to die as he has lived. If my life was a journey with the Lord, a journey of trust in his immense mercy, I will be prepared to accept the final moment of my earthly life as the definitive, confident abandonment into his welcoming hands, awaiting the face to face contemplation of his face. This is the most beautiful thing that can happen to us: to contemplate face to face the marvellous countenance of the Lord, to see Him as he is, beautiful, full of light, full of love, full of tenderness. This is our point of arrival: to see the Lord.

3. Against this horizon we understand Jesus’ invitation to be ever ready, watchful, knowing that life in this world is given to us also in order to prepare us for the afterlife, for life with the heavenly Father. And for this there is a sure path: preparing oneself well for death, staying close to Jesus. This is surety: I prepare myself for death by staying close to Jesus. And how do we stay close to Jesus? Through prayer, in the Sacraments and also in the exercise of charity. Let us remember that he is present in the weakest and most needy. He identified himself with them, in the well known parable of the Last Judgment, when he says: “for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me…. ‘as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me’”. (Mt 25:35-36, 40).

Therefore, a sure path comes by recovering the meaning of Christian charity and of fraternal sharing, by caring for the bodily and spiritual wounds of our neighbour. Solidarity in sharing sorrow and infusing hope is a premise and condition for receiving as an inheritance that Kingdom which has been prepared for us. The one who practices mercy does not fear death. Think well on this: the one who practices mercy does not fear death! Do you agree? Shall we say it together so as not to forget it? The one who practices mercy does not fear death. And why does he not fear it? Because he looks death in the face in the wounds of his brothers and sisters, and he overcomes it with the love of Jesus Christ.

If we will open the door of our lives and hearts to our littlest brothers and sisters, then even our own death will become a door that introduces us to heaven, to the blessed homeland, toward which we are directed by longing to dwell forever with our Father, God, with Jesus, with Our Lady, and with the Saints.

Special groups:

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including those from England, the Philippines and the United States. Upon you and your families I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!

Lastly, my affectionate thoughts turn to young people, the sick and newlyweds. This Sunday we will begin the liturgical season of Advent. Dear young people, prepare your hearts to receive Jesus the Saviour; dear sick people, offer up your suffering that others may recognize Christmas as Christ’s encounter with fragile human nature; and you, dear newlyweds, live out your marriage as a reflection of God’s love in your personal story.

Pope Reflects on Temples where We Worship God

 


The temple is the central reference point of the whole people of God, Pope Francis said, as he reflected on the Old Testament reading about the re-consecration of the ancient Jewish temple in Jerusalem. Speaking about the beauty, music and ritual of our liturgies, the Pope said the main focus of the community gathered around the altar must be our adoration of God. Recalling how Jesus chases away those who tried to do business in the temple, he asked whether our churches and our liturgical celebrations today help us to worship and adore God?
But the Pope also spoke of the inner life of each individual as a temple where we can worship God and try to follow his commandments in our daily lives. Recalling St Paul’s words about our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit, he said God’s Spirit is in us so we must listen and follow him.
Following God’s word, the Pope went on, requires a continual purification, since all of us are sinners. We do this through prayer, through penitence, through the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. In this way, he concluded, in both the material building where we worship and in the spiritual temple of our hearts, our attitude must be one of adoration and attentive listening, an attitude of prayer, penitence and praise

Pope Issues First Apostolic Exhortation: Evangelii Gaudium

 

The Joy of the Gospel is the title Pope Francis has chosen for this first major document of his pontificate, putting down in print the joyous spirit of encounter with Christ that characterizes every public appearance he has made so far. The man who has constantly kept the media’s attention with his desire to embrace and share his faith with everyone he meets, now urges us to do exactly the same. To “recover the original freshness of the Gospel”, as he puts it, through a thorough renewal of the Church’s structures and vision. Including what he calls “a conversion of the papacy” to make it better able to serve the mission of evangelization in the modern world. The Church, he says, should not be afraid to re-examine “customs not directly connected to the heart of the Gospel” even if they may have deep historical roots.
In strikingly direct and personal language, the Pope appeals to all Christians to bring about a “revolution of tenderness” by opening their hearts each day to God’s unfailing love and forgiveness. The great danger in today’s consumer society, he says, is “the desolation and anguish” that comes from a “covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience.” Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests , he warns, “there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor.”As we open our hearts, the Pope goes on, so the doors of our churches must always be open and the sacraments available to all. The Eucharist, he says pointedly, “is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak” And he repeats his ideal of a Church that is “bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets” rather than a Church that is caught up in a slavish preoccupation with liturgy and doctrine, procedure and prestige. “God save us,” he exclaims, “from a worldly Church with superficial spiritual and pastoral trappings!” Urging a greater role for the laity, the Pope warns of “excessive clericalism” and calls for “a more incisive female presence in the Church”, especially “where important decisions are made.”
Looking beyond the Church, Pope Francis denounces the current economic system as “unjust at its root”, based on a tyranny of the marketplace, in which financial speculation, widespread corruption and tax evasion reign supreme. He also denounces attacks on religious freedom and new persecutions directed against Christians. Noting that secularization has eroded ethical values, producing a sense of disorientation and superficiality, the Pope highlights the importance of marriage and stable family relationships. Returning to his vision of a Church that is poor and for the poor, the Pope urges us to pay particular attention to those on the margins of society, including the homeless, the addicted, refugees, indigenous peoples, the elderly, migrants, victims of trafficking and unborn children. While it is not “progressive” to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life, he says, it’s also true that “we have done little to adequately accompany women in very difficult situations, where abortion appears as a quick solution to their profound anguish.”
Finally the new papal document also focuses on the themes of promoting peace, justice and fraternity, through patient and respectful dialogue with all people of all faiths and none. Better relations with other Christians, with Jews and with Muslims are all seen as indispensable ways of promoting peace and combatting fundamentalism. While urging Christians to “avoid hateful generalisations” about Islam, the Pope also calls “humbly” on Islamic countries to guarantee full religious freedom to Christians”
The full text of the new Apostolic Exhortation can be found on the Vatican website, while the main points are outlined in the synopsis below:
“The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.” Thus begins the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, by which Pope Francis develops the theme of the proclamation of the Gospel in the contemporary world, drawn from, among other sources, the contribution of the work of the Synod held in the Vatican, from 7 to 28 October 2012, on the theme “The new evangelization for the transmission of the faith”. “I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come” (1). It is a heartfelt appeal to all baptized persons to bring Christ’s love to others, “permanently in a state of mission” (25), conquering “the great danger in today’s world”, that of an individualist “desolation and anguish” (2).

The Pope invites the reader to “recover the original freshness of the Gospel”, finding “new avenues” and “new paths of creativity”, without enclosing Jesus in “dull categories” (11). There is a need for a “pastoral and missionary conversion, which cannot leave things as they presently are” (25) and a “renewal” of ecclesiastical structures to enable them to become “more mission-oriented” (27). The Pontiff also considers “a conversion of the papacy” to help make this ministry “more faithful to the meaning which Jesus Christ wished to give it and to the present needs of evangelization”. The hope that the Episcopal Conferences might contribute to “the concrete realization of the collegial spirit”, he states, “has not been fully realized” (32). A “sound decentralization” is necessary (16). In this renewal, the Church should not be afraid to re-examine “certain customs not directly connected to the heart of the Gospel, even some of which have deep historical roots” (43).
A sign of God’s openness is “that our church doors should always be open” so that those who seek God “will not find a closed door”; “nor should the doors of the sacraments be closed for simply any reason”. The Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak”. These convictions have pastoral consequences that we are called to consider with prudence and boldness” (47). He repeats that he prefers “a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church … concerned with being at the centre and then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures. If something should rightly disturb us … it is the fact that many of our brothers and sisters are living without … the friendship of Jesus Christ” (49).

The Pope indicates the “temptations which affect pastoral workers” (77): “individualism, a crisis of identity and a cooling of fervour” (78). The greatest threat of all is “the grey pragmatism of the daily life of the Church, in which all appears to proceed normally, which in reality faith is wearing down” (83). He warns against “defeatism” (84), urging Christians to be signs of hope (86), bringing about a “revolution of tenderness” (88). It is necessary to seek refuge from the “spirituality of well-being … detached from responsibility for our brothers and sisters” (90) and to vanquish the “spiritual worldliness” that consists of “seeking not the Lord’s glory but human glory and well-being” (93). The Pope speaks of the many who “feel superior to others” because “they remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past” whereby “instead of evangelizing, one analyses and classifies others” (94). And those who have “an ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy, for doctrine and for the Church’s prestige, but without any concern that the Gospel have a real impact” on the needs of the people (95). This is “a tremendous corruption disguised as a good … God save us from a worldly Church with superficial spiritual and pastoral trappings!” (97).
He appeals to ecclesial communities not to fall prey to envy and jealousy: “How many wars take place within the people of God and in our different communities!” (98). “Whom are we going to evangelize if this is the way we act?” (100). He highlights the need to promote the growth of the responsibility of the laity, often kept “away from decision-making” by “an excessive clericalism” (102). He adds that there is a need for “still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church”, in particular “in the various settings where important decisions are made” (103). “Demands that the legitimate rights of women be respected … cannot be lightly evaded” (104). The young should “exercise greater leadership” (106). With regard to the scarcity of vocations in many places, he emphasizes that “seminaries cannot accept candidates on the basis of any motivation whatsoever” (107).

With regard to the theme of inculturation, he remarks that “Christianity does not have simply one cultural expression” and that the face of the Church is “varied” (116). “We cannot demand that peoples of every continent, in expressing their Christian faith, imitate modes of expression which European nations developed at a particular moment of their history” (118). The Pope reiterates that “underlying popular piety … is an active evangelizing power” (126) and encourages the research of theologians, reminding them however that “the Church and theology exist to evangelize” and urges them not to be “content with a desk-bound theology” (133).
He focuses “somewhat meticulously, on the homily”, since “many concerns have been expressed about this important ministry and we cannot simply ignore them” (135). The homily “should be brief and avoid taking on the semblance of a speech or a lecture” (138); it should be a “heart-to-heart communication” and avoid “purely moralistic or doctrinaire” preaching (142). He highlights the importance of preparation: “a preacher who does not prepare is not ‘spiritual’; he is dishonest and irresponsible” (145). Preaching should always be positive in order always to “offer hope” and “does not leave us trapped in negativity” (159). The approach to the proclamation of the Gospel should have positive characteristics: “approachability, readiness for dialogue, patience, a warmth and welcome, which is non-judgmental” (165).

In relation to the challenges of the contemporary world, the Pope denounces the current economic system as “unjust at its root” (59). “Such an economy kills” because the law of “the survival of the fittest” prevails. The current culture of the “disposable” has created “something new”: “the excluded are not the ‘exploited’ but the outcast, the ‘leftovers’” (53). “A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual”, of an “autonomy of the market” in which “financial speculation” and “widespread corruption” and “self-serving tax-evasion reign” (56). He also denounces “attacks on religious freedom” and the “new persecutions directed against Christians. … In many places the problem is more that of widespread indifference and relativism” (61). The family, the Pope continues, “is experiencing a profound cultural crisis”. Reiterating the indispensable contribution of marriage to society” (66), he underlines that “the individualism of our postmodern and globalized era favours a lifestyle which … distorts family bonds” (67).
He re-emphasizes “the profound connection between evangelization and human advancement” (178) and the right of pastors “to offer opinions on all that affects people’s lives” (182). “No one can demand that religion should be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without a right to offer an opinion on events affecting society”. He quotes John Paul II, who said that the Church “cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice” (183). “For the Church, the option for the poor is primarily a theological category” rather than a sociological one. “This is why I want a Church that is poor and for the poor. They have much to teach us” (198). “As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved … no solution will be found for this world’s problems” (202). “Politics, although often denigrated”, he affirms, “remains a lofty vocation and one of the highest forms of charity”. I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by … the lives of the poor!” (205). He adds an admonition: “Any Church community”, if it believes it can forget about the poor, runs the risk of “breaking down”.

The Pope urges care for the weakest members of society: “the homeless, the addicted, refugees, indigenous peoples, the elderly who are increasingly isolated and abandoned” and migrants, for whom the Pope exhorts “a generous openness” (210). He speaks about the victims of trafficking and new forms of slavery: “This infamous network of crime is now well established in our cities, and many people have blood on their hands as a result of their comfortable and silent complicity” (211). “Doubly poor are those women who endure situations of exclusion, mistreatment and violence” (212). “Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenceless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity” (213). “The Church cannot be expected to change her position on this question … it is not ‘progressive’ to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life” (214). The Pope makes an appeal for respect for all creation: we “are called to watch over and protect the fragile world in which we live” (216).
With regard to the theme of peace, the Pope affirms that “a prophetic voice must be raised” against attempts at false reconciliation to “silence or appease” the poor, while others “refuse to renounce their privileges” (218). For the construction of a society “in peace, justice and fraternity” he indicates four principles (221): “Time is greater than space” (222) means working “slowly but surely, without being obsessed with immediate results” (223). “Unity prevails over conflict” (226) means “a diversified and life-giving unity” (228). “Realities are more important than ideas” (231) means avoiding “reducing politics or faith to rhetoric” (232). “The whole is greater than the part” means bringing together “globalization and localization” (234).

“Evangelization also involves the path of dialogue,” the Pope continues, which opens the Church to collaboration with all political, social, religious and cultural spheres (238). Ecumenism is “an indispensable path to evangelization”. Mutual enrichment is important: “we can learn so much from one another!” For example “in the dialogue with our Orthodox brothers and sisters, we Catholics have the opportunity to learn more about the meaning of Episcopal collegiality and their experience of synodality” (246); “dialogue and friendship with the children of Israel are part of the life of Jesus’ disciples” (248); “interreligious dialogue”, which must be conducted “clear and joyful in one’s own identity”, is “a necessary condition for peace in the world” and does not obscure evangelization (250-251); in our times, “our relationship with the followers of Islam has taken on great importance” (252). The Pope “humbly” entreats those countries of Islamic tradition to guarantee religious freedom to Christians, also “in light of the freedom which followers of Islam enjoy in Western countries!” “Faced with disconcerting episodes of violent fundamentalism” he urges us to “avoid hateful generalisations, for authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence” (253). And against the attempt to private religions in some contexts, he affirms that “the respect due to the agnostic or non-believing minority should not be arbitrarily imposed in a way that silences the convictions of the believing majority or ignores the wealth of religious traditions” (255). He then repeats the importance of dialogue and alliance between believers and non-believers (257).
The final chapter is dedicated to “spirit-filled evangelizers”, who are those who are “fearlessly open to the working of the Holy Spirit” and who have “the courage to proclaim the newness of the Gospel with boldness (parrhesía) in every time and place, even when it meets with opposition” (259). These are “evangelizers who pray and work” (262), in the knowledge that “mission is at once a passion for Jesus and a passion for his people” (268): “Jesus wants us to touch human misery, to touch the suffering flesh of others” (270). He explains: “In our dealings with the world, we are told to give reasons for our hope, but not as an enemy who critiques and condemns” (271). “Only the person who feels happiness in seeking the good of others, in desiring their happiness, can be a missionary” (272); “if I can help at least one person to have a better life, that already justifies the offering of my life” (274). The Pope urges us not to be discouraged before failure or scarce results, since “fruitfulness is often invisible, elusive and unquantifiable”; we must know “only that our commitment is necessary” (279). The exhortation concludes with a prayer to Mary, “Mother of Evangelization”. “There is a Marian ‘style’ to the Church’s work of evangelization. Whenever we look to Mary, we come to believe once again in the revolutionary nature of love and tenderness” (288).

Pope: Faith is Not Private – Worship God Firmly Despite Apostasy, Persecution

Pope: faith is not private - worship God firmly despite apostasy,  persecution | Pope Francis, last days, temptaion

 

In his homily, Pope Francis pointed to these events in Christ’s life because, he said, as we hear the Gospel recount the tumultuous time of the end of the world, we become aware that the victory of the prince of the world over God would be worse than a devastating natural disaster.

“When Jesus speaks of this calamity in another passage, he tells us that it will be a profanation of the temple, a profanation of the faith, of the people: it will be an abomination; it will be desolation and abomination. What does this mean? It will be like the victory of the prince of this world: the defeat of God.”

Today, the Pope observed, people are discouraged from speaking of religion in public. “It’s something private, no?” It’s something you don’t talk about in public, he said, pointing to the fact that religious objects have become taboo.

“One has to obey the orders that come from worldly powers. One can do many things, nice things, but not adore God. It’s forbidden to worship. This is at the heart of the “end of times.” It is when this pagan attitude reaches its height, that’s when the end times will come, the Pope stressed. This is when the Son of man will return in glory.

“Christians who suffer times of persecution, times forbidding worship,” are a prophetic sign, the Pope said, of “what will happen to everyone.” “This week it will do us good to think about this general apostasy which is called a ban on worship and ask ourselves: ‘Do I worship the Lord? Do I adore Jesus Christ the Lord? Do I in some measure play the game of the prince of this world?’ Worship to the end with trust and fidelity,” the Pope said, “this is the grace that we must ask for this week.”

Source: Vatican Radio/VIS

Tea and Coffee After 9.00 and 12.00 Sunday Mass

Tea and Coffee will be served after 9.00 and 12.00 Mass in St Comgall’s Youth Centre, on the first Sunday of each month. A time to meet up, catch up…..

Starting Sunday 1st December.

The young people from LOFT (Living our Faith Together) will be serving up refreshments as well as  selling you a bun or two with all proceeds in aid of LOFT.