Monday, 15 October 2018

A Great Homily given by Fr. John O'Brien, SJ

You can hear Fr. John O'Brien's great homily given yesterday at:

Just go to minute 25:30 on the STM Youtube channel.

Friday, 12 October 2018

The Vision of God

"OK, so how do you conceive heaven?"   This question was asked of me this week by a young man who is struggling with issues of faith.  Here is a brief response: 

Heaven is the Vision of God.  

This presupposes being in a state to perceive God directly (which requires purification of vision for most of us). Heaven then is defined by the Church as a state of being, not a location.  

An analogy is the state of being in love. Love is not a visible location nor is it observable objectively — though there are strong indicators.  

Because most people are not prepared for the vision of God directly, the Church teaches that there is an “intermediate state” or what critics love to misinterpret — Purgatory i.e. the state of purification on the way to Heaven — a purification which does not stop at death. Some of us need a lot of work to prepare for the vision of God— personally speaking. 

The Church maintains that only saints are prepared by grace for the immediate vision of God. Naturally, we do not know all those who are saints; though we have a pretty good idea of those who are not — most of us. 

The good  news is that God loves all of us, all the time and keeps working on us to the extent we allow. Death does not end this communion of purifying love and grace. We pray for the souls departed with whom we remain in communion as members of the Body of Christ. 

The Church is morally certain only of those who are ‘canonized’ as saints  i.e. written in the canon or list of saints usually after long consideration; but there are undoubtedly many more. The Communion of Saints consists of all those (living or dead) on whose prayers we rely in our pilgrimage to what St. Augustine called the City of God. 

Light a candle and say a prayer for me. I do the same for you and others. 

God bless you on the journey.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Walking in Cornwall

Beautiful St. Ives, Cornwall

Walking along the northwest Cornwall coast from St. Ives towards
the parish church at Zennor and its mermaids.
Entrance to the Tate Gallery in St. Ives

Zennor at last

Delicious blackberries on the path

Many stiles to go over.

Looking north to the Irish Sea

Huge hedges dividing the fields and some challenging stiles.

No cattle are getting out of these fields -- the thorns alone are forbidding.

A visit to St. Albans with Msgr Keith Newton and Gill

Shrine Altar with Icon of St. Alban

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High Altar


The Lady Chapel at St. Alban's


More Red Doors

Nave Altar

Msgr Keith and Gill took us to St. Alban's on their day off.  Lovely visit!

More votive candles -- a very prayerful atmosphere on the whole

Shrine of St. Alban

North Trancept

Modern Reredos in the nave

Praying at the shrine altar.

Monday, 27 August 2018

A visit to Scandinavia

Stave Church interior near Oslo, Norway. Smallest altar rail in the world, I think!
In Bergen, the old capital, with daughter Annie --
her great grandmother was born in Norway.

Entrance to Stave Church
Rural Norway in August 2018
Bergen Harbour from the top of the funicular

Good to know.
"The Scream" . . . circa 2018

Time for a Munch

. . . or two
Beautiful Stockholm (Venice of the north) on the way
to the royal chapel where Swedish kings and queens
have been buried for generations next
to the old palace.

Yes this is where the remains of "the big guy" lie 

Like England, Catholic churches are now
the property of the state Church of
Sweden (Lutheran in this case).

Homily: Trinity XIII B, August 26 - As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.

As for me and my house.  We will serve the Lord.    Joshua 24

The Twelve Apostles in today’s Gospel are asked to make a choice—either to believe and accept the New Covenant that Jesus offers in His Body and Blood, or to conform to the ways of the world: serving the gods of material wealth and power.

Their choice is prefigured by the decision Joshua asks the Twelve Tribes to make in today’s First Reading. Joshua gathers them at Shechem—where God first appeared to their father Abraham –  promising to make his descendants a great nation in a new land.  And he issues a blunt challenge—either renew their covenant with God or serve the alien gods of the surrounding nations. He proclaims in the famous phrase: As for me

The crisis over abuse in the Church faces us with a similar choice.  We too are being asked today to decide whom we will serve.  Is it expediency and denial or allowing the light of truth lead us towards the standards of care and Christian life that we were baptized into. 

For the past four weeks we have been presented in the liturgy with the mystery of the Eucharist—a daily miracle far greater than those performed by God in bringing the Israelites out of the land of Egypt.

God has promised us a new homeland and eternal life, offering us bread from heaven to strengthen us on our journey and to heal us, the Body of Christ – the Church. 

Jesus has told us that unless we, together, eat His Flesh and drink His Blood we will have no life in us. That is, we must truly participate in his Life – loving and serving the most vulnerable amongst us.

In the nineteenth century an English priest summarized his ministry this way:

"My own firm conviction, after more than fifty years' experience as a priest . . .  is, that we shall never gain the enthusiastic love of our people for their Mother Church, or secure their fidelity to her, until we bring them to realize that the Catholic Church is God's own creation for the promotion of [God’s] greater . . . glory and the salvation of souls – that the Holy Eucharist is Christ's own appointed act of worship and means of close communion with Him . . .  It is because our people have lost their grasp of these great truths that they are so easily alienated from the Church, and become a too ready prey to every new thing . . .  which the cunning craftiness of man may invent."
George Rundle Prynne - An Early Chapter in the History of the Catholic Revival by A. Clifton Kelway

Jesus warns that there are those amongst his followers who do not believe and so it is today. True belief entails proper behaviour. Our faith is measured by what we do as much as by what we say.  Those whose behaviour betrays Christ must be dealt with. They must be removed from positions of authority and allow the light of truth to shine in the Church.

It is a hard saying by Jesus, as many murmur in today’s Gospel. Yet Jesus has given us the words of eternal life and gives us his Body and Blood.  We must collectively affirm in both words and action that, as Peter says, Jesus is the Holy One of God, who handed himself over for us and who gives His flesh for the life of the world.

We are committed to one another in the Body of Christ and must do all we can to eradicate the abuse of young and vulnerable people by those who profess with their lips but do not conform their lives to serve the Body of Christ – the Church.

Today’s Epistle tell us that Jesus gave us his Body and Blood that we might be sanctified, made holy, through the water and word of Baptism by which we enter into the new covenant. Through the Eucharist, Jesus nourishes and cherishes us, making us His own flesh and blood, even as husband and wife become one flesh.

God feeds us and strengthens us to love and serve his divine will and to serve and protect those most vulnerable in the house of faith.

As for me and my house.  We will serve the Lord.    Joshua 24

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Visiting St. Hilary, Cornwall

Sacred Heart Chapel - St. Hilary, Cornwall -- 2018

Blessing of the parish site by St. Hilary of Poitiers

Paintings of Cornish saints on the chancel choir stalls

High Altar of St. Hilary Church, Cornwall -- August 2018

The first church of St. Hilary was built on the Roman site and the church contains a milestone with the name of Emperor Constantine who was proclaimed Emperor in York on the other side of England.

Sundial at the entrance to the nave - St. Hilary

Path to St. Hilary

Historic entrance to St. Hilary.  The tower dates to the early Middle Ages.