Friday, 9 November 2018

So What About Parents and Catholic Schools?

So you are a Catholic Parent raising your children in the Catholic Faith and you decide to send your children to a Catholic School, as the primary educators of your children what do you expect from a Catholic School? In the 1960's I was actually attending a seminary where there was about 40 students. In the Community statistics showed there was still a large number of young people attending Mass. It was about 50/50 statistically. In the 1970's my former seminary was closed down since there were only three students and in Catholic Schools it rose with amazing speed to 95% disinterested in the Church. What had caused this very rapid decline? In England it was very much the work of Corpus Christi College, Westminster who invited the teaching profession and administrators from all the diocese to attend and find out about the "Spirit of Vatican 2". People get tired of me bringing this up and since they have no answers they just get bored so let us just say that 'a new school curriculum' was born which did away with heart of hell and all those children hiding under their desks as nuns swept through the classrooms looking for sinners. Well how refreshing that was for so many good honest people. But strangely enough the new curriculum proved a failure but this did not mean it was wrong it was just that we now had a secular society now, and we were very wrong to have indoctrinated our children. So if the Church is failing it is not the fault of the Church. The trouble is that this negative outlook shows very little respect for Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The Church grew up challenging a secular society much ore pagan than the present one because they co-operated with the many graces God sent them to overcome their difficulties. If children are being lost to the Church it is not the fault of God but the fault of those who are not humble enough to ask for his help. I remember there used to be a Diocesan year book and this book recorded the Mass Count for every Church in the Diocese. From about 1980 I looked at these figures as they dropped from around 60,000 to 43,000 despite the soundbite given to parents that they all come back. I wrote to the then Bishop and pointed out he would soon be in financial difficulties and his answer was an indirect one, he stopped publishing the figures and having Mass counts. At the same time there was not just a shortage of priests, but the lack of young people meant there was no source from which we could draw priests. A great plan arose in which the diocese would not recruit foreign priests but would instead Pastoral Areas were formed of four of five parishes which would in the future be supervised by two priests only. I of course was objecting strongly and as usual being put in my place. Just imagine the effect of this plan. There would be very few daily Masses and on Sundays we would enjoy at times a Eucharist Service which was a service also being pushed at the time. So why price with the schools and the actions of the diocese would ensure the survival of the Catholic Faith. I will not go on with this line though there is much more I could have said, but the point is we have a long way to go before the schools which were guided by feminists and reformers can settle down again to devotions to the Blessed Sacrament, Prayers to Mary, and real Catholic Instructions which even in the parishes is rare enough. the So do not put any absolute trust in your local Catholic Schools. Doctrine, devotions and catholic practices must be carried out by the parents at this particular time. Our present Bishop is very keen to help in this and you should keep up with his advice and instructions. But one of the great things that has happened in recent years is the number of Catholic Immigrants who have come to our country. They are in large numbers from Europe and Asia and they have brought back the habit of Mass attendance for their children. With the £2million a year bureaucratic pay not being paid out we are becoming a much more Catholic Church and the immigrants who were nervous at first are beginning to settle in the parish with their wonderful gifts and talents. But until a new school curriculum arrives we must tread very carefully towards our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. And the mindset against foreign priests has disappeared and the bishop is doing a wonderful job bringing us very gifted and talented priests in our Diocese.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

On the Human Side what is the purpose of the Church.?

"Go therefore and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit"  Matthew 28.

But for what purpose.  Is it not just about being close to Jesus, going to Church on a Sunday, then spending the rest of our lives in worldly pursuits?   We cannot be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect so just live your lives as best you can and all will be well.   Does Jesus really expect more of us?

Well certainly such a statement would meet with approval in many of our Churches.   We do not want to fast, make sacrifices, or follow the boring rules that Jesus made.   Just follow your conscience and it will all be well when you reach heaven.

The problem is that Jesus laid down his rules in order to make the world a better place to live in, a world which was again his Kingdom.   Remember the Our Father "Thy Kingdom come, they willl be done on earth as its is in Heaven..."   So we pray this at Mass every Sunday and those who give the  matter any thought and they are few will ask "Why have you failed to give us your Kingdom on Earth?    For anyone who is interested the answer of Jesus would be "Because I left you to build it, and you have not taught people to observe my teachings"

What do I mean.   Just think of a world where every child is born into a family of a Father and a Mother who love each other, who grow up in the warmth of that love with their other siblings whom they learn to love and respect.   Then think of a world where there are millions of Children who do not grow up in such a home but experience the hurt of rejection by the father or mother.   Then examine the background of children who are on drugs, prostitution, self harming, and commit suicide.   Now I am not saying that all children who are deprived of a normal family life all fit into one box but I would venture to say that experience show us that far too many do, and the rejection of the model Jesus gave us by society is making these problems worse.

So what must we do for our children?   Parents, priests and teachers are called to perfect their human nature as children and indeed the Kingdom will be one where all human nature has been perfected.   And when all human nature is perfected then there will be a world of peace.   Yes, you can join this or that Party, you can demonstrate in the street, you can talk about counselling and programming, but can you help someone to live as Christ wanted him or her to live.   That is why loving Jesus must come before love of neighbour for unless we are living the way he wants us to live we can never perfect his or her nature.   Calling people to Christ is a glorious task and we have failed utterly to convince young people that this is true.   Being an apostle with other apostles and sharing that love of Jesus is a pursuit that can only bring happiness, for it is founded on Jesus, the only person who can fulfill us completely.   When you know that all the politics and ideologies of mankind has never been successful and you experience the power of the love of Jesus you know what the world really needs.

"Be ye perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect" is not just an ideal it is something we can do if parents, teachers, and priests work with children on this.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Let us start then with God's Plan for Peace - Marriage

God's Plan for Peace starts with Churches encouraging marriage.   Well I am sure that some will say the Church does not discourage it, but in practice it does.
Let us start with Marriage is a Sacrament and no baptised person should pay for a a Sacrament.   So what does your parish charge for a wedding, and is this charge justified.   Do you know that there are many  young people out there who do not get married because they see it as too expensive.   Certainly the culture of the Secular State encourages young people to believe that marrying is about spending money in every way possible and if others are spending enormous sums then that is expected.   So let us change this in the Catholic Church by having cheap weddings.

Another subject we have to look at is our Church facilities.   Having cloisters and groups of small rooms may satisfy 'Community' but it does not cater for large functions like weddings.   Again if the Church has a hall attached to it, it can bring down the price of weddings by charging a reasonable rate.   The Church could also have an association with a selected caterer.   Since everything is on the Church premises, God would not be very far away at any stage.

But what about education for Marriage?   What do Catholic Schools do?   Certainly marriage is not on the curriculum, but should it be?   Is marriage not the most important step in a young man or woman's life.    How do we prepare young people for marriage?   It is certainly not by adapting a secular approach on sex and condoms and only a concern that none of the girls get pregnant.   We need the positives as well as the negatives.   That sex with others can lower expectations within marriage is or should be self evident if we look at society today.   Marriage cannot be built on sex, for sex is not love.    The harm done to children of a marriage should be put forward by the Church as strongly as the Secular Society dismisses it.   Marriage is for children and a husband has a role in marriage despite the nonsense that the secular society puts forward as they justify selfishness.  Again no all marriages work out even in the best of circumstances but we should support single mothers and keep them faithful to Christ, for such people are in a way the best advocates for marriage since they know what failure is, and have kept close to Him.  

Many people excuse themselves from talking about marriage and its difficulties by making the remark that we should not judge.   But claiming that Jesus hated divorce as in Matthew 19 is not judging, it is following the teachings of Jesus and his plan for the family unit to be the building block of society.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

The Shroud.

The above is a 3d Image of Jesus Christ which was taken from the Shroud of Turin and modified but still the same 3D features as on the Shroud.

The team of scientists and experts were badly shaken when in 1988 a Carbon 14 dating at Oxford University put the age of the Shroud to the 14th Century.  They approached the problem with professionalism however, if it was just anther Medieval Forgery they would quickly sort it out and if they could not then perhaps they would have to take a closer look at the Carbon Dating.

Now there were many forgeries in Medieval times but they were easy to sort out for the paint and brush strokes gave the artist away in many cases,  there would not be any history prior to the historical find, and there was nothing of any note in the painting or artefact that really drew crowds of people to want to believe in it.   So that was a measure.   Many were drawn to the Shroud of Turin but at the same time it was just one of many relics in the Church in medieval times claiming to be the image of Christ because it was claimed that it was the Shroud that wrapped his body.   Indeed Edward Hall who with some relish exposed the Shroud as a fraud in 1988 stated that you just in those days got yourself a canvass, did some work, and then flogged it.   I think myself that Mr Hall in saying this insulted the scientists and professionals who had worked on the Shroud.   Mr Hall must have known that what attracted to scientists and experts to the Shroud was the lack of evidence of forgery.   Moder techniques and scientific progress were confounded when they examined the Shroud.

But these professionals did not moan or groan they just got on with their job.  Was it forged?   They were forced to the conclusion that it could not have been a Medieval Forgery.   A team of American Air Force personnel came over to Italy and expected a quick holiday then back to work when they found the brush strokes.   Not only did they find no bush strokes but they found no paint or pigment.  They were astonished to find that the shroud was indeed a negative image which on being photographed gave a positive image of the Body of Christ.   It was as incredible to them as to that photographer in 1898 who had taken a photograph for the first time of the image and saw the image of Christ starting at him when he looked on his plate.   Then there was the VP-8 microscope machine which could study images minutely.  It found a depth in the image and experienced a 3D image (from which the picture above is produced).  They had studied many pictures and paintings but only the Shroud had ever produced a 3D effect.

So where did this lead the team?   Looking for a forger who knew all about negative images 500 years before his time.  And nobody even with all the aids of today has been able to match him in producing a perfect negative image.  A forger who did not use paint nor a paint brush but produced a perfect image on a linen sheet of a man who was crucified and even had insight into things about the passion which were not appreciated in his time, such as the nails going through the wrist and the feet been nailed to the cross through the ankle.

Not surprisingly the team were unable to point to a forger, so they began to thing that if they could prove that the Shroud existed prior to the Carbon dating then they could give this as evidence that the dating was wrong.  They visited many places on their quest but found that there was an image during the Crusades and people gathered to honour it when it was shown on a Friday.   Descriptions of this sheet were found in Hungary of all places. and this cloth was eventually found it France where we have evidence of its existence there.   But the 'piece de resistance' came with the study of what was called the Sodarium which had existed in Spain since the 5th century.  This was the cloth that covered the face and head to soak up bleeding the Jewish body was placed in the tomb.  It was also tied to keep the jaw in place.   Imagine the delight when the team found the blood on the sudarium was the same rare type as on the shroud.   But the most convincing proof was found when the scattered blood which came out of a wound on the back of the neck where the thorns were placed matched exactly in shape with the shape of the blood on the shroud.   It was impossible for the two cloths never to have been together.   The last crucial evidence came in Jerusalem where the team was shown the foot of someone who had been crucified.   The nail was hammered through the heel and not the feet as Christians had held for centuries.   Our would be forger even knew that.    Only the Romans practiced crucifixion in this way

So where were the team now?   The evidence that the Shroud went back to the time of Jesus was now overwhelming.   But there still was the Carbon Dating.   They got in touch with Oxford University and put forward their case that there was a conflict of evidence.   The suggested that perhaps the Shroud had been subjected to Carbon Monoxide in the air
.  The young man at Oxford was open and honest.   He admitted that although he would have to support the first findings unless something compelling changed this  he was always open to any evidence they had which could have brought about the wrong result.  The team are now working on this providing of evidence.   My own thoughts are that this shroud had been subject to an explosion of radiation when the Body of Jesus rose from the dead, it may never be subject to accurate carbon dating.
But on the assumption that the Shroud is genuine why did Jesus leave this image on the Shroud.   It could be because he was pointing out that there is so much we have to understand beyond the realms of Science.  But even more important as we examine the Shroud and it is brought to our notice just how much Jesus suffered for us, the story that the Shroud tells us, perhaps we can begin to understand how much Jesus loves us.

Monday, 22 October 2018

We are not called to pray for Peace, we are called to bring it about.

There are so many prayers being offered today for peace in the world. In the Catholic Church we have many prayers including the Rosary but perhaps we should look a little more closely at the teachings of Jesus. Jesus spent three years teaching his disciples before dying on the Cross and then sending the Holy Spirit upon his followers. It seems an awful lot of hard work so that we could all be loving and forgiving and kind to one another. "Go therefore to all nations baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit AND TEACHING THEM TO OBSERVE ALL I HAVE COMMANDED YOU. Well that is fair enough, so what has he commanded. Is it just to be loving and forgivig and being nice to one another. If we examine the gospels we find there is much more but somehow it is not the kind of subjects we talk about today. He talked about marriage, he talked about God meaning marriages to last and spoke fiercely about divorce. Even his disciples were upset at the time and felt that perhaps if it is to be so strict then perhaps it is better not to marry. Yet among too many Christians today he is not taken seriously on this. They do not object what Christ said they just ignore him. But with marriage goes a family, and with a family there is love between mother and father and their children. The family is indeed the school of love instituted not by Christ but by God the Father himself as Christ points out in Matthew 19. Unless family love is strong in society then society will be so weak. I have spent many times talking about children growing up without fathers and even mothers and what it is doing to the children that there are times I just despair at the lack of interest. A successful society where people find fulfilment is built on families and when families are destroyed as they are today, when young people are committing suicide, when young people try to find happiness in drugs, when everyone justifies their right to do evil acts such as abortion and euthanasia, the love has grown cold and the family is no longer the there in sufficient numbers to be the building block on which society depends. We can cry out on Sunday "Thy Kingdom Come" but we are merely honouring God with our lips and your heart are far from him. WE are called by God to build the better world. So what are we doing about it. Are we ensuring that young people are prepared for marriage by good teaching on sex and marriage and what God asks of them, or do we just construct our own values and ignore Christ in order to bring Christs Teaching 'in step with the values of a pagan Society. If you are not defending life, if you are not really interested n what is happening to our young, if you refuse to stand up and say "This is wrong" Then do not pray for Peace, Christ has given you the means and you are ignoring Him.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

So what should we do in this crisis: Act for the good of the victims or act for the good of the Church.

It is now well established by a Pennsylvania Court that the victims of abuse in the Church were young boys in puberty and teenagers , yes and even seminarians. They accounted for 4 out of 5 of the victims. I can almost hear the moans from some as they read this, "I do not want to know" They will turn to another blog that will say the things they want to hear. Certainly not this stuff. But let me put it another way "Where would Jesus stand on this issue?" Perhaps that will not work either because they want the unity of the Church to be the major issue in this, not the abused victims. Well maybe that is too strong. But we have lovely little communities that we go to on a Sunday where everyone is nice and if you talk about this some will not be so nice to you. The truth is that we do not care for the victims. We do not put them first and we support the prelates who cover up the brutal assaults on young men because they are all very nice people our prelates are. O yes, we have a safeguarding team in our parishes and our children are safe from the predators in the community. but what happens if the predator is the priest and it is indeed the priests who were responsible for the assaults which got us in this mess in the first place. A small minority yes, but enough to create a prejudice against the Church in the first place. But of course it will be OK, it is just people in the Church causing trouble by raising the subject and making us all feel guilty. May I just say if you feel guilty then at least you are developing a conscience. Now for my next outrageous statement. The problem is caused by homosexuals being allowed into the priesthood. How dare I blame honosexuals. No I am not saying all homosexuals and probably the majority are involved in sexual abuse but the record of the Catholic Churh is that they have a very real problem in judging who is a predator and who is a decent person. Pope St John Paul said that because of this homosexuals should not enter the priesthood. But we have prelates now who put their judgement before the safety of the young people they are meant to care for. They are playing Russian Roulette with our young people. Of course they want to be popular, be human, do the 'right' thing. The right thing is to follow the advice of Pope St John Paul and do not bring men with same sex attraction into an environment where the closest friends you have will be other male priests in a predominantly male club. Put the victim first not the Church!!