Monday, August 19, 2013

This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Numerous studies have concluded that each and every son wishes to hear these words from their fathers.  Jesus Himself heard these words from His Father at the beginning of His ministry and before His passion and death. 

It has been over a decade since I knew with conviction that I was called to be a father and so it was with great joy that my wife and I found out that we have been blessed with a child and now know that we have a son. 

Numerous research shows that if a boy never hears these words of affirmation from his father in particular he is at risk of seeking affirmation in the wrong places or from the wrong people. It seems as though there is a longing in the heart of each and every child to have a father's love and believe he is proud of him or her. 

Our love and pride in our children shouldn't be dependent on their successes. My transition into fatherhood is an immense privilege but will also be life changing in every way. Of course it will be hard work but I feel privileged to be able to have a glimpse of just how much the Father loves us. 

Please pray that I may be a kind, loving father who will put Christ at the centre of the family which I am called to lead. May the prayers of St Joseph in particular sustain and transform me, my wife and our little son by God's grace. 

"This is my beloved son. In whom I am we'll pleased."

One in ten

This afternoon at Mass in the older form of the Roman rite I was moved by the Gospel reading about the people with leprosy cured by Our Lord. 

My baptismal patron saint is St Damien the Belgian priest who gave his life to minister to those with leprosy and famously began his preaching one day, "We lepers..."

The deacon at Mass today spoke of the analogy comparing leprosy with sin - how both can be cured by Christ and about gratitude. 

I try to go to confession weekly and do mutter a word of thanks to Christ afterwards for dying on the cross for my sins but am I really like the one in ten? 

Am I like the cured leper who praised God and ran back to thank Jesus or am
I usually like the nine. Cured but not transformed within. The leprosy removed but without a burning desire to praise and thank God?

Leaving Mass today, having received the Eucharist "thanksgiving" I recalled the words that we should "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and with a greater determination that I should be like the one in ten: transformed and grateful. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Marriage and leadership

I'm sitting on a plane about to take off for a business trip to Shanghai, missing my wife and unborn baby boy and reflecting in what it means to be married. 

As a husband, I am called to be a leader, in the same way in which Christ loves His Church. 
I feel especially blessed - but also challenged - that my wife realises that as her husband I am the spiritual head of our family - what does this really mean?

Christ lived as a servant to all and gave His life in sacrificial love for His Church. He prayed for His people and washed their feet. He guides us in truth and in love. 

As married men, we need to examine our consciences more thoroughly - have we been servant leaders in our families? Have we taken a lead in praying together as a family and not just go to Mass on Sundays? Have we remembered to clean up, take the rubbish out, pray for our wives and children?

Please pray that I may deepen my relationship with Christ and so love as serve my family more. 

Friday, August 09, 2013

Pope Michael announces World Youth Day venue!

Pope Michael, who as we all know was elected Pope by his mother, aunt and I think a 
next door neighbour as the only real Catholics in this world has exclusively revealed that he might hold his own World Youth Day. 

Pope Michael appears to be even more social media friendly than the other claimant to the Papacy, Pope Francis, as he actually has his own Facebook page. 

Although I was, naturally, disappointed that His Holiness didn't use the Papal "we" when replying, it's pretty impressive that he took the time to reply. 

I imagine the whole Catholic World, which might now amount to three or four people in his eyes, will be delighted to know about this. 

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Anniversary of Shame

The sixth of August is the anniversary of one of the most evil war crimes of the 20th Century. 

The United States - backed by the UK and other "civilised" nations committed mass murder and torture upon thousands and thousands of innocent men, women and children. 

Growing up in the UK we were told (rightly so) of the horrific crimes of the Nazis and the Japanese occupiers - and rightly so - evil on that scale should never be forgotten. When we forget evil, it is likely to be repeated. 

When we were taught about the atomic bombs, as we were living in a country complicit with this crime, we were told it was necessary to end the war. It could be argued that yes, it did being the war to an end.  

I remember arguing that surely they could have dropped the bomb on an uninhibited island somewhere to show re might of this new weapon - or at least that the second one wasn't necessary - and yet as was often the case I was dismissed as a pacifist or a trouble maker. 

The fact is that as Christians - the ends never justify the means - there can never be an excuse for destroying life if that person isn't threatening yours. 

In the words of the catechism:

"Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation. A danger of modern warfare is that it provides the opportunity to those who possess modern scientific weapons – especially atomic, biological, or chemical weapons – to commit such crimes."  [CCC 2314].

Let's pray for an end to all war and for peace - beginning with peace in our hearts. 

Monday, August 05, 2013

Le Curé d'Ars - remembering priests

Today, Monday 5th August sits in between the feasts of St John Vianney, the Curé d'Ars in the ordinary and extraordinary calendars of the Roman Rite. (4th and 8th August respectively).

His story, that of someone who struggled so much academically but ordained priest on account of his holiness strikes me immensely. How many souls are now in heaven for the Masses he offered so devoutly, the confessions he heard and the intercession he prayed before and after his death?

I contacted a number of priests yesterday to thank them for their loving service to bring us closer to Christ. How often do we so this throughout the year? I know that I do so very little. 

As Catholics, we hear so many negative stories, spun by the press but we should remember and be grateful for the vast majority of priests who have sacrificed so much to bring us the sacraments. 

Let us also pray for those priests, bishops, Popes who have died and could do with our prayers. Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord and may perpetual light be upon them. May they rest in peace. 

St John Vianney, pray for them.