Friday, September 30, 2011

How we see the world. Apparently.

I did like Fr Ray's Europe According To The Greeks. There is a whole series of these including Europe According To The Vatican. [H/T to the designer, alphadesigner]

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Who is it that struck you?

You will have heard about Fr Ray Blake's troubles at the hands of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement. I might add that this organisation are recipients of public largesse via the Charity Commission who might be interested in their cyber-bullying. Fr Ray illustrated the tale with the picture above from a confrontation at WYD this year. Then is struck me where I had seen that pose before.

There is nothing new under the sun.

God bless Fr Ray. He is in my prayers and yours, too, I am sure.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Spiritual reading for 10-12 year olds

I have gone through the excellent Credo book with my boys as part of their ongoing catechesis at home.

Does anyone have any suggestions for spiritual works suitable for 10-12 year old boys that we could make use of in our home catechesis?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Suicide is not painless

From the Catechism:

2280 Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of.

2281 Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.

2282 If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law.

Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.

2283 We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.

Those of you who are old enough will remember the theme tune to the series M*A*S*H. At the time I thought nothing of it but the words have haunted me for twenty years now and have come into sharp focus in recent days. The father of a friend of my youngest son has committed suicide back home. He leaves two young children and a wife and a mother and a wider family. God grant him some peace and mercy and his family some consolation in their grief.

The theme tune to M*A*S*H includes the words:

Through early morning fog I see
visions of the things to be
the pains that are withheld for me
I realize and I can see...
that suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave them if I please

Only suicide is not painless. It is not painless for the one committing it. I can only guess the despair that is required to bring about the end of one's life, especially in a violent manner. It certainly is not painless because it destroys families. It leaves a stain of guilt that never goes away, whatever the circumstances, a feeling of rejection, a sense of shame that one didn't do more and a loneliness and regret at the joy that the one who commits suicide has missed the blessings and pains of life and of the hours that could have been spent in their company in love and fellowship.

I know this because my brother killed himself nearly twenty years ago. As is so often the case he seemed to be getting over a bout of depression and was well supported by us, his family (I was phoning him daily from the other end of the country) and he was being seen regularly by the CPNs who were reporting the upturn in mood we thought we could see. He had gotten into financial difficulties that had put a strain on his married life.

Yet after going out for a lonely curry in his favourite restaurant he drove off into the night and killed himself alone in a country lane. I'm pretty sure it led to my mother's untimely death two years later. I was at home the weekend he killed himself and I can still hear the sound of my father sobbing alone in the bathroom every morning for the time I was there.

This appeared in one of the Canadian papers last week. Astounding. Over three thousand families in Canada dealing with this year on year. Countless friends and neighbours affected.

I am grateful for the fact that we able to give my brother a funeral in a Catholic Church, and the pastoral concern of those who cared for us - priests, religious and lay - will live with me until the day I die. God bless them for their kindness and courage (others crossed the street, literally, to avoid us). But the Church is right to maintain that suicide is gravely wrong and risks our immortal souls. The experience of suicide close to home has galvanised my own conviction of how utterly wrong and corrosive it is. We must do all we can to set our faces against such a grave wrong, however it disguises itself, whilst maintaining love and compassion for the despairing and their families left behind.

Friday, September 09, 2011

How pantsuits and apartments nearly destroyed religious life

The wife of a patient of mine was a nun for some years in North America. The couple, as you might expect, are very devout. Her husband is dying and we spoke in the kitchen about their lives. I was surprised when she said she had been a religious for over a decade. Why did she leave?

"Oh, doctor, it was the 1970s, and they started telling us to ditch our habits and dress in our own clothes and move into apartments. I said 'I joined for community and the Eucharist and prayer in choir. Where has all that gone?'. But they didn't listen and I thought, I'm no different from any other lay woman. So I left. If it was like it was when I joined, I'd go back tomorrow. And do you know what, doctor? The orders thriving now are the ones with the habit and traditional religious life"


Friday, September 02, 2011

How to distribute Holy Communion in the Archdiocese of Glasgow.

Pope Benedict gives a practical demonstration, 16th September 2010. That would be kneeling and on the tongue, Your Grace

Thursday, September 01, 2011


A commenter called 'Fr Ronan Kilgannon' pulls me up on my post about Eucharistic Prayer 2:

With due respect, what do you think is meant 'the church throughout the world' - if not all the faithful? He the prayer is moving from the General - all the disciples of our Lord in His Church - to the particular - pope, bishops and clergy who are called to minister. Are you owning up to a pre-Vatican Council tendency to us the word 'church' to refer only to its ministers. Shame on you.

Let's go through that in a Zuhlsdorf-stylee:

With due respect, [well, you know what's coming next...] what do you think is meant 'the church throughout the world' - if not all the faithful? [Got that, or are you calling me stupid?] He [sic] the prayer is moving from the General - all the disciples of our Lord in His Church - to the particular - pope, bishops and clergy who are called to minister. [Well yes, but I am comparing EP2 and the Roman Canon. Unless you missed it the Roman Canon also moves from the general to the particular, but is inclusive enough to mention all orthodox, Catholic Christians, rather than just the clergy, which would seem to fly in the face of your argument.] Are you owning up to a pre-Vatican Council tendency to us the word 'church' to refer only to its ministers. [owning up to a pre-Vatican Council tendency? What the heck is that supposed to mean? This is my blog. I'll have whatever tendencies, I like, thank you very much.My parents having been raised in the 1920s and 1930 had some pre-Vat 2 tendencies. They were better Christians than me and on the evidence of this comment, you too. What kind of Stalinism is this? 'Tendencies', indeed!] Shame on you. [No, Father, shame on you. Shame on you for having the bad grace to come onto someone else's blog, putting an argument that flies in the face of the facts and then crying 'Shame!'. I've seen this Loftusesque behaviour from post-Vat 2 clergy before and it reeks of clericalism. The very clericalism Traddie clergy are accused of. Indeed, the 'pre-Vatican Council tendency' clergy I know who blog tend very much to be reasonable people who can hold their own in an argument without accusing others of any sort of 'tendency']