Archive for April, 2008

Daily Reflection April 30 2008: Saint Pius V, Pope

April 30, 2008

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About the Saint:

Saint Pius V 1504-72, pope (1566-72), born to impoverished Italian nobility, the son of Paolo Ghislieri and Domenica Augeria. He worked as a shepherd as a boy and received an excellent education in piety and holiness, including a scholastic education from a Dominican friar; he joined the Order in 1518, taking the name Michele. He studied in Bologna, Italy and was Ordained in 1528 in Genoa, Italy. He was appointed teacher of philosophy and divinity in Genoa and Professor of theology in Pavia for sixteen years. He also became the Master of novices and prior of several Dominican houses, he worked for stricter adherence to the Order’s Rule. He became an Inquisitor in Como and Bergamo, Italy, and Commissary general of the Roman Inquisition in 1551. On 4 September 1556 Michele was ordained Bishop of Nepi and Sutri against his will. He was Inquisitor in Milan and Lombardy in 1556, and created Cardinal on 15 March 1557 and became Grand inquisitor on 14 December 1558. He became Bishop of Mondovi, Italy on 17 March 1560, and as bishop, Michele worked to lead his flock with words and examples, and served as a continual messenger encouraging personal piety and devotion to God.

Upon his ascension to the papacy, Pius V immediately faced the task of enacting the reforms of the Council of Trent he thus occupies a key position in the Counter Reformation, for his activity in those years just after the council insured the permanence of its work. New seminaries were opened, a new breviary, new missal, and new catechism were published; foundations were established to spread the Faith and preserve the doctrine of the Church. Pius spent much time personally working with the needy. Built hospitals and used the papal treasury to care for the poor. Pius faced many difficulties in the public forum, both in the implementation of the Tridentine reforms and interaction with other heads of state, and he created 21 cardinals. St. Pius was the first pope after the Reformation to put Catholicism on the political offensive. He united Venice and Spain with him against the Turks, an alliance that helped to bring the victory of Austria over the Turks at Lepanto. At the time of his death he was working on a Christian European alliance to break the power of the Islamic states. He was Canonized in 1712 and was succeeded by Gregory XIII.

Collect of the Day:

Father, you chose Saint Pius V as Pope of Your Church to protect the Faith and give You a more fitting worship. By his prayers help us to celebrate Your Holy Mysteries with a living faith and an effective love.

We make our prayer through Jesus Christ your Son Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, ever One God world without end. Amen.

Today’s Readings:

The First Reading: I Corinthians: 4:1-5: We are to be as Christ’s servants, stewards entrusted with the Mysteries of God.

The Gospel: John: 21:15-17: Take care of My lambs and My sheep.

In Today’s Epistle, St. Paul tells us:

“I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.”

Here St. Paul begins to state a fact that is very obvious and all too real, that in our work for Christ we are subject to the judgement of those around us both friend and enemy alike. Paul tell us that this is not a concern for him, and rightly so, we should not make the pleasing of others the yardstick of our unflinching fidelity to the Gospel of Christ, His love and His Divine Mercy. Although there is a sense in which we cannot disregard the judgement of our fellow Human Beings.

The odd fact is often, the judgement of our fellow humans is right on the money. This is mainly due to the fact that most people instinctively admire the basic qualities of honour, honesty, reliability, generosity, sacrifice and love. So this in itself heightens the fact that we must be fully transparent and fully accountable in our lives for Christ. That we practice what we proclaim to believe not striving for personal gain or accolades but rather making sure our actions point others to the greater Glory of God.

Antisthenes, an ancient Cynic Philosopher said:

” There are only two people who can tell you the truth about yourself, an enemy who has lost his temper and a friend who loves you dearly.”

Next Paul goes on to tell us that he does not even judge himself. This is another very good example from which we can glean a great treasure. Paul knows very well that in taking self inventory it is in our fallen natures to often gloss over our own shortcomings. That our judgement can become clouded by pride, conceit and self satisfaction. How far too many times have I heard people deny others the Mercy of Our Blessed Lord, and are yet all to willingly apply it to their own situations. So we must keep close to our hearts Our Blessed Lord’s teachings on the subject:

“Judge not lest you be judged.” “The same measure you give to others is the same measure that you will receive in return.” “Take the beam out of your own eye before you try to remove a slither from another’s.”

The ability to live with ourselves is crucial to keeping a stable mental health. A person can never escape from themselves, and if they lose their self respect life can indeed become intolerable.

For Paul the only real judgement that matters is the judgement of God. For only God knows all our innermost secrets an motives, how low we have ever sunken and to the heights to which we have attained. Humanity sees the deeds but God sees the intention. Many noble looking deeds can spring from ignoble motives, and many a deed that may look base may have been done with the best intentions. God made the human heart, and only He can judge it.

I would like to leave you with two final thoughts. Firstly is we escape all other judgements, we cannot escape the final judgement of God. Secondly judgement belongs to God alone, and we would do well not to judge anybody.

Msgr. Ian+

 Closing Prayer:

Lord God, in Your Providence you called Pope Saint Pius to defend the Faith and to enhance the dignity of Divine Worship. Give us grace, through his prayer, to worship You in Your Sacred Mysteries with an ardent faith and an active charity.

We make our prayer through Jesus Christ your Son Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, ever One God world without end. Amen.

 

Daily Reflection April 29 2008: St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church

April 29, 2008

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About the Saint:

St. Catherine was one of many children born to a wool dyer in Siena, Italy, she started having mystical experiences early in her childhood, seeing guardian angels as clearly as the people they protected. She became a Dominican tertiary when she was sixteen, and continued to have visions of Christ, Mary and the Saints.

Catherine was one of the most brilliant theological minds of her day, although she never had any formal education. Her spiritual director was Raymond of Capua. Catherine’s letters and a treatise called a “dialogue” are considered among the most brilliant writings in the history of the Catholic Church.

In 1375, Our Lord gave Catherine the Stigmata, which became visible only after her death. By 1377, she persuaded the Pope to go back to Rome from Avignon. At the time of her death, she was endeavoring to heal the Great Western Schism. St. Catherine of Siena died when she was only 34, and her body was found incorrupt decades later. St. Catherine was Canonized in 1461.

Collect of the Day:

Father in meditating on the sufferings of your Son and in serving Your Church, Saint Catherine was filled with the fervour of your love. By her prayers, may we share in the mystery of Christ’s death and rejoice in the revelation of His glory.

We make our prayer through Jesus Christ your Son Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, ever One God world without end. Amen.

Today’s Readings:

The First Reading: I John: 1:5-2:2: The Blood of Christ cleanses us of all sin.

The Gospel: Matthew: 11:25-30: You have hidden these things from the learned and the clever and revealed them to children.

Dear Friends this post comes from a meditation on Psalm 23 (22) I received from an Anglican Archbishop. I hope that you all enjoy the contents as much as I did.

Msgr. Ian+

This is an eye opener… Some probably never thought nor looked at this Psalm in this way… even though they say it over and over again.

The Lord is my Shepherd

That’s Relationship!

I shall not want

That’s Supply!

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.

That’s Rest!

He leadeth me beside the still waters.

That’s Refreshment!

He restoreth my soul

That’s Healing!

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness.

That’s Guidance!

For His name sake

That’s Purpose!

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

That’s Testing!

I will fear no evil.

That’s Protection!

For Thou art with me

That’s Faithfulness!

Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me,

That’s Discipline!


Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

That’s Hope!

Thou anointest my head with oil,

That’s Consecration!

My cup runneth over.

That’s Abundance!

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.

That’s Blessing!

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord.

That’s Security!

Forever

That’s Eternity!

Closing Prayer:

O Saint Catherine of Siena, God our Father enkindled the flame of holy love in your heart as you meditated on the Passion of Jesus His Son. Moved by His grace, you devoted your life to the poor and the sick, as well as to the peace and unity of the Church. Through your intercession, may we also come to know the love of Jesus, bring His compassion to all, and work for the unity of His Church. We ask this in Jesus’ Name and for His sake. Amen (A prayer to St. Catherine of Siena).


Daily Reflection April 28 2008: St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr

April 28, 2008

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About the Saint:

St. Peter Chanel was born in France in 1803, he did pastoral work there for a few years after his ordination, and then he entered the Marist Society and was sent to the region of Oceania. There were considerable resistance to Missionaries at that time, though he did receive a few converts into the Faith before he was unfortunately clubbed to death on the Island of Futuna in 1841.

Collect of the Day:

Father you called Saint Peter Chanel to work for your Church and gave him the crown of Martyrdom. May our celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection make us faithful witnesses to the new life he brings.

We make our prayer through Jesus Christ your Son Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, ever One God world without end. Amen.

Today’s Readings:

The First Reading: I Corinthians 1:18-25: It was because God wanted to save those who have faith through the foolishness of the message we preach.

The Gospel: Mark: 1:14-20: I will make you fishers of my people.

The other day I was watching the Australian Christian Channel and the Senior Pastor of what possibly is the largest church in Australia (reportedly 19000 people per weekend go through their centers) was preaching on the ills and the signs of a Backslider. After a few minutes it was becoming obvious to me that anybody who doubted this Pastors take on Theology (Word of Faith), or questioned the vision of his leadership team was suffering from this very serious malady. As time went on I began to be overcome by a severe case of deja vu, this was all too familiar to me and is a behavioural practice I have often witnessed within the Autocephalous and Old Catholic Church Movements. Although we are more likely to hear terms like vagante, heterodox, invalid, illicit or heretic rather than backslider.

While these terms can be extremely painful when they are applied to us our Parish or Jurisdiction, do they in the greater scheme of things really matter much at all? I have come to the general conclusion that to some degree we are all somebody elses backslider, vagante or heretic and not much we do or say is going to change that fact. Perhaps the most contentious attack that can be leveled at a Catholic is that their ministry is invalid, this is because as Catholics we understand the importance of sharing valid Sacraments with all who seek them from us in the name of Our Blessed Lord. But what is it that really defines validity, can it actually be defined or is validity like beauty in the eye of the beholder?

Theologian Hans Kung writes in On Being Christian: ” The important thing about a Petrine ministry or any other ministry of leadership is not the historical evidence of a line of succession…………… If such a person did not carry out this Petrine mission, did not fulfill his appointed task, did not give testimony or perform his service, what would be the use of the entire Apostolic Succession to him or the Church? Thus the important thing is not the claim, the right, the chain of succession, as such but the accomplishment, the exercise, the action, the service itself concretely realized.

A case in point, I know two Bishops one quite young whose transition from Deacon, Priest to Bishop was very fast to say the least. The other a veteran with over 30 years in the Episcopacy. The elder man took a dislike to the younger after he was photographed wearing a Cope over his Chasuble and wrote some severe comments about the situation. He also demanded complete obedience by all and sundry. While the younger Bishop, less theologically and liturgically trained weekly led groups into the streets feeding the homeless, setting up services in Nursing homes for the elderly and working in the Prison system. Who was more following Our Lord’s example, the judge or the servant?

In considering validity I am also reminded of the Gospel of St. Matthew 3:9-10, where John the Baptist referring to the Pharisees says: ” Don’t just say, we’re safe we’re the descendants of Abraham. That proves nothing. God can change these stones here into children of Abraham. Even now the axe of God’s judgement is poised, ready to sever your roots. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.”

The Reformed Catholic Church is well known for its real ministries and its acts of servitude. So it does not really matter what others may say and think about us, our validity is confirmed by our acts of service, visiting those in need at inopportune times, in the snow, rain or the middle of the night when others are unwilling to do so. Our Blessed Lord only gave one criteria to judge a ministries validity: “By their fruits you shall know them.”

Msgr. Ian+

Closing Prayer:

Most gracious Father, we pray for Your Holy Catholic Church: fill it with all truth and in truth with all peace; where it is corrupt, purge it; where it is in error, direct it; where anything is amiss, reform it; where it is right, strengthen and confirm it; where it is in want, furnish it; where it is divided, heal it and unite it in your love; through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Daily Reflection the Sixth Sunday of Easter 2008

April 27, 2008

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Collect of the Day:

God Our Father, maker of all, the crown of your creation was the Son of Man, born of a woman, but without beginning; He suffered for us but lives for ever.

May our mortal lives be crowned with the ultimate joy of rising with Him, who is Lord for ever and ever, throughout all ages world without end. Amen.

Today’s Readings:

The First Reading: Acts of the Apostles: 8:5-8, 14-17: They laid hands on them, ands they received the Holy Spirit.

The Second Reading: I Peter: 3:15-18: In the body He was put to death, in the Spirit He was raised to life.

The Gospel: John: 14:15-21: I shall ask the Father and He will give you another Advocate.

St. Peter begins his Epistle with the statement that we should:

“Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame.”

In a Post Modern mainly Neo Pagan world, it is inevitable that a Christian will be called upon to explain the Faith that they hold and the Hope by which they live. In this passage St. Peter has certain things to say about Christian apologetics.

Firstly our defence must be reasonable, each Christian must be expected to be able to discuss their Faith intelligently and intelligibly. Knowing what we believe and why. Our Faith must be a living Faith that is born of a firsthand experience and not a secondhand story.

Secondly our defence must be made with the uttermost gentleness. There are many who state their belief systems with an arrogance and belligerence that does more harm for the Church than any good. Christianity must always be presented with LOVE, and the firm knowledge and tolerance of others beliefs to know that it is not given to any one person or group to possess the WHOLE TRUTH. There are a many ways to the top of a mountain as there is people to climb it. People may be loved into taking on the Christian ideal, but never coerced.

Thirdly we must remember that our defence should be carried out and given with reverence. No differences in the world have caused more strife and discord between people than religious debates. No discussions get much more heated than Theological discussions, other than political ones. So we must remember our purpose for talking about the Faith and who we are representing when we take part in any such discussion. That is to say that any discussion we enter into about our Faith and manner of living should be done in a tone which God can hear with joy. Our focus should always be on the accent of LOVE and that of God’s DIVINE MERCY.

Lastly our main defence should be our way of life. St. Peter tells us above, that we should keep our conscience clear so that when we are abused or reviled, our good behaviour in Christ will put our accusers to shame. So therfore we must, as I often state, practice what we preach. A Christian lifestyle should be one that makes it easier for others to believe that God exists.

So as St. Ephrem the Syrian says:

“Be a lamp in brightness, and make the works of darkness cease, so that whenever your doctrine shines, no person may care to heed the works of darkness.”

Msgr. Ian+

Closing Prayer:

O LORD, give us, we beseech Thee, in the Name of Jesus Christ thy Son our God, that love which can never cease, that will kindle our lamps but not extinguish them, that they may burn in us and enlighten others. Do Thou, O Christ, our dearest Saviour, Thyself kindle our lamps, that they may evermore shine in Thy Temple, that they may receive unquenchable light from Thee that will enlighten our darkness, and lessen the darkness of the world.

Lord Jesus, we pray Thee give Thy light to our lamps, that in its light the most holy place may be revealed to us in which Thou dwellest as the Eternal Priest, that we may always behold Thee, desire Thee, look upon Thee in love, and long after Thee, for Thy sake. Amen. (St. Columba 521 AD)

Daily Reflection April 26 2008: Saturday the Fifth Week of Easter

April 26, 2008

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Collect of the Day:

Loving Father, through our rebirth in baptism you give us your life and promise of immortality. By your unceasing care, guide our steps towards the life of glory.

We make our prayer through Jesus Christ your Son Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, ever One God world without end. Amen.

Today’s Readings:

The First Reading: Acts of the Apostles: 16:1-10: Come to Macedonia to help us.

The Gospel John: 15:18-21: You do not belong to the world because I have chosen you.

In today’s Gospel Jesus starts with the very ominous words:

“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me before you”.

He goes on to say:

“If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you too”.

These do not sound like too encouraging words, and I do not think that we shall find them written in literature designed to win souls for Christ or to gain new members to a Parish Community. But nonetheless they remain as true today as when Our Blessed Lord first spoke them nearly two thousand years ago. Living the Gospel principles without compromise is a very hard thing to do. In fact if not for the Grace of God, I would say nigh impossible.

If we stay true to Jesus’s message of unconditional love and acceptance, repaying evil with good, loving our enemies, blessing those who curse us, accepting those deemed unacceptable, turning no one away from the ‘Table of the Lord’, we are bound to run into some kind of opposition. We must not let this though, deter us from our mission to be envoys to the world of God’s Love and Divine Mercy. To be a successful witness to the Gospel of Christ we must first realise that we cannot please both God and the World.

As Jesus says in today’s Gospel:

“If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you do not belong to the world, because my choice withdrew you from the world, therefore the world hates you”.

So many Churches today try to water down the message of the Gospel because of numbers in the pews or lack thereof. Few Churches today would allow the young rich ruler to walk away. Someone would chase him and say Christ would accept fifty percent of his life or even ten percent so as long as he kept coming and added to the numbers on their annual reports.

Numbers in pews or on statistical records are not the important issue here, rather the quality of the message we preach and how we live it even when it is not the done thing or popular choice. We are told in 2 Timothy 4:2:

“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction”.

It is so easy for the Church group or individual Christian to descend to the level of a saleperson, using slick techniques that require the inquirer to make minimum changes, if any to their way of living. Was this the Gospel that the Apsotles preached that “Turned the world upsidedown?” I think not. Jesus said catergoricaly to make ‘Disciples’ not ‘Converts’.

I truly wonder how long a Christian can sit on the fence of compromise, God will not be mocked. We must regardless of the times in which we live, begin to love one another in the fullest sense of Christ’s teachings not counting the cost. Christ told us that either we are “For Him or against Him” So I ask are we really with Him? Are we ready to lay our lives on the line of His law of love with its fantastic dimensions of dispossesion and surrender? Do we truly love one another, beginning with ourselves?

Jesus’s call is revolutionary, there is no denying this fact. If we Christians implemented it, it would begin to change the world in a matter of weeks. Can you imagine a world where people are not judged by race, social standing, marital status, gender, age or affectional orientation, where all are recognised as being made in the image of God? This I believe is a Gospel worthy of being persecuted and hated for, and the first step of bringing this about belongs with each of us. As Margaret Mead tells us:

Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed citizens to change the world. Indeed, it has never been done otherwise.”

Msgr. Ian+

Closing Prayer:

Almighty, everliving God, you gave us the life of Heaven by the new birth of baptisim; you implanted in us the seed of eternity by your gift of grace. Lead us, in your providence, to the fulness of glory.

We make our prayer through Jesus Christ your Son Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, ever One God world without end. Amen.

Daily Reflection April 25 2008: St. Mark the Evangelist

April 25, 2008

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About the Saint:

Saint Mark went with Saint Paul on his first missionary journey, along with his cousin Barnabas. He made later journeys with Barnabas alone. He was in Rome with Paul, and with Saint Peter. His Gospel is based on Peter’s teaching in Rome: it’s concise, direct and vivid style tells us something of Mark’s character. Tradition dating from the Third Century says that he founded the Church in Alexandria and was it’s first Bishop, while in a later tradition he is also associated with Venice.

Collect of the Day:

Father, you gave Saint Mark the privilege of proclaiming your Gospel. May we profit by his wisdom and follow Christ more faithfully.

We make our prayer through Jesus Christ your Son Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, ever One God world without end. Amen.

Today’s Readings:

The First Reading: I Peter: 5:5-14: My son, Mark sends you greetings.

The Gospel: Mark: 16:15-20: Make known the Good News to every creature.

In today’s Epistle St. Peter exhorts us to:

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.”

He tells us to be vigilant because our adversary the Devil walks about seeking whom he may devour. But is there a need to be? The answer is a most definite YES. The Devil’s greatest weapon against Humanity is that most people do not believe he exists. But the Bible and the Church both teach that the Devil is real and does exist. The idea of what is presented to us in popular culture is often misleading. We see cute stuffed toy devils on sale for Valentine’s Day, comical portrayals of him on animated series like South Park and the Simpson’s, and movies that portray the Devil as infinitely more powerful than he really is.

The question then is who is the Devil? The Greek word Devil and the Hebrew word Satan are both names for the being that personifies all that is evil and opposed to God. Both names mean ‘Accuser’, showing that the nature of the Devil is to try to tempt people to do wrong so that they can be accused before God. But the battle between good and evil is not an equally balanced contest as it is often portrayed in the movies and on television. God is all powerful and eternal, while the Devil is a created being.

The Devil was created an Angelic Being and as such like all Angels was created in a state of grace. The initial sin of the Devil, which fixed him in evil, consisted in pride with a immoderate love of his own excellence and a desired equality with God. The fall of the other Angels was caused by their consent to his sin. While the Devil often appears to be in control, his ability to work is limited by the power of God.

We can clearly see how the Devil set himself against God’s work in the life of Jesus. Jesus was tempted by the Devil in the desert. Peter was used as a tool of the Devil and had to be rebuked by Jesus. The betrayal by Judas Iscariot was another part of the Devil’s work. He destroys and undermines by tricks and cunning, rather than by power. An example of how he does this is given by St. Ignatius Loyola in his “Spiritual Exercises”:

“The chief of all the enemy summons innumerable demons and scatters them. Some to one city and some to another throughout the whole world, so that no province, no place, no state of life, no individual is overlooked. He goes around to lay snares for men to seek to chain them. First they are to tempt them to covet riches, as Satan himself is accustomed to do in most cases, that they more easily obtain the empty honors of this world and then come to overweening pride. The first step then, will be riches, the second; honor, the third; pride, from these three steps the one leads to all other vices”

Although this sounds devastating we must understand that the Devil is a defeated foe! Jesus came to destroy the work of the Devil, and through His Passion, Cross and Resurrection the work of Satan is defeated once and for all. So why then must we be vigilant if he is defeated? It is because he is still active in the world until Christ’s return on the ‘Last Day’ when his defeat will become complete. He knows his time is short that is why “He is like a roaring lion,” seeking to drag others down with him while he still has time.

So we are called to be aware that he exists, and of how he operates in stimulating selfish desires within us that stroke our egos, but do not despair, remembering that God reigns supreme and is in control. God is the Lord of all creation and of all history and always will be.

“Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.” (Rev 12:10)

Msgr. Ian+

Closing Prayer:

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host –
by the Divine Power of God –
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Amen.

Daily Reflection April 24 2008: St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, Priest and Martyr

April 24, 2008

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About the Saint:

Saint Fidelis was born at Sigmaringen in Germany in 1578. He was a lawyer, and then entered the Order of Friar Minor Capuchin at Freiburg in Breisgau. He lived a life of prayer and penance, and gained a great reputation as a Preacher. He was sent by the newly formed Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith to preach in Switzerland where he was put to death by a group of fanatics in 1622.

Collect of the Day:

Father you filled Saint Fidelis with the fire of your love and gave him the privilege of dying that Faith might live. Let his prayers keep us firmly grounded in your love, and help us to come to know the power of Christ’s Resurrection.

We make our prayer through Jesus Christ your Son Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, ever One God world without end. Amen.

Today’s Readings:

The First Reading: Colossians: 1:24-29: I became the servant of the Church when God made me responsible for delivering His message to you.

The Gospel John: 17:20-26: I want those You have given me to be with me where I am.

In today’s Epistle St. Paul tells us that:

“I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the Church.”

In this passage we see that St. Paul rejoices in his sufferings for the Church. It sounds odd that someone would rejoice in suffering, but so strongly did Paul feel his calling to spread the Good News of Christ, that he counted even suffering for this message as a cause of joy. In Philippians 3:8 he goes on to tell us:

“More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.”

This continues to show us the lengths to which Paul would go to follow his vocation. How does this tally with the fire that many feel for the Gospel today? Or the value that we each place on living and sharing through the example of our lives, choices and actions the Gospel ourselves?

Is going to Mass weekly enough of a commitment to Christ? Can we remember God for one hour or two and consider this filling our obligation to Him? Or do we carry what we gain in that time spent in God’s Presence to all the other aspects of our being. I believe these are necessary questions that we each much address, at least those of us who claim to be Christ’s followers.

Christianity is not and cannot become a spectator sport! We cannot just sit in the pews and consider this to be enough. We cannot sit idlely by while others are suffering and hurting, hungering for wholeness and keep silent about the cause of our joy. But you might say “Msgr. Ian, that is why we have you clergy and religious for.” And I say this is true, it is the job of clergy and religious to spread and live the Gospel values, but clergy and religious cannot be everywhere.

Consider everybody you meet in a day, a week, a month or even a year, at work, through clubs and associations, out shopping or socialising, within your own family and your own home, and see the countless number of oppourtunities that exist where you might be the only contact that these people have with a member of the Church. Paul refers to the Church as a Body, specifically the ‘Body of Christ’. Now we are all members of this Body if we are Christians. Can our own bodies function properly when one of it’s members ceases to work? No we become impaired, the same can be said for the ‘Body of Christ’ the Church, when Her members cease to function properly. So are we to be an aid to the Body, or a dead limb or a cancer that needs to be removed?

I am not trying to belittle anybody but to awaken the Spirit of Evangelism in us, we all know that a healthy Body is an active Body. I am not telling you to become a ‘Bible Basher’ or to become someone that tries to force everyone to what they believe, rather to become a vessel in which the light of Christ shines through via our lives to all we come in contact with.

Christianity is not a solo activity but a social activity, St. Augustine of Hippo tells us:

“What do I desire? What do I want? Why do I speak? Why do I live, if not for this reason: that together we might live with Christ…….I do not want to be saved without you.”

And niether do I.

Msgr. Ian+

Closing Prayer:

Lord God, you crowned Saint Fidelis with a Martyr’s death, when filled with your love, he was preaching the Faith. Let our lives be rooted in love, so that with him, and by his prayer, we may know the power of Christ’s Resurrection.

We make our prayer through Jesus Christ your Son Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, ever One God world without end. Amen.

Spring Synod

April 23, 2008

Today marks the start of the Spring Synod for the Reformed Catholic Church, in Atlanta Georgia. Please keep the Archbishops, Bishops, Priests, Deacons, Religious, Laity and Ordinands of the RCC in your prayers at this time.

A Prayer for Synod:

Almighty and everliving God, give wisdom and understanding, to the members of the Spring Synod of the Reformed Catholic Church. Teach them in all things to seek first your honour and glory. May they perceive what is right have courage to pursue it and grace to accomplish it.

We make our prayer through Jesus Christ your Son Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, ever One God world without end. Amen.

Msgr. Ian+

Daily Reflection April 23 2008: St. George Martyr

April 23, 2008

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About the Saint:

Since the fourth century Saint George has been venerated in Lydia, in Palestine. Tradition holds that he was a soldier who died for the faith and his cult spread throughout the East and the West. He was adopted as Patron for England during the Crusades.

Collect of the Day:

Lord, hear the prayers of those who praise your mighty power. As Saint George was ready to follow Christ in suffering and death, so may he be ready to help us in our weakness.

We make our prayer through Jesus Christ your Son Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, ever One God world without end. Amen.

Today’s Readings:

The First Reading: the Apocalypse: 21:5-7: Whoever conquers shall have heritage.

The Gospel Luke: 9:23-26: Those who lose their life for my sake will save them.

Today’s Gospel passage from St. Luke touches on very similar themes that we have been discussing lately. In this Gospel Jesus tells us:

“Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

This reiterates our discussion yesterday of dying to the “Self” in order to find true happiness and peace and it also touches on aspects in our reflections on the ‘Four Last Things’ last week. The way of thought that Jesus is teaching here is at odds with some modern preaching. I often watch a lot of television Preachers, and what seem prevalent is what is called, “The Word of Faith” movement. A “Name it and Claim it”, style of Prosperity Theology. The God loves you and wants you to be rich, healthy and happy, teachings that are pleasing to the ear but tend to gloss over a lot of the realities of this vale of tears we call life.

Do not get me wrong, I have nothing against wealth or health, but these things should not be the sole focus of our existence. We should aim to serve the Lord our God, in all circumstances and not just when they favour us. This Prosperity approach is often, though not always self centered. And if we use material Prosperity as a yardstick for God’s blessing, then I think that Christ and His Apostles would prove to be abject failures.

Thomas A Kempis tells us in the ‘Imitation of Christ’:

“You are only chasing an empty phantom if you strive for riches that cannot last, and pin your hopes on them………………..if you set your heart on things which pass away so quickly, and do not press on towards that place where lasting joy remains.” (The Imitation of Christ, Book 1 Chapter 1).

Here we find sound words that echo the teaching of Our Blessed Lord in the Gospel above. Another sound guide to transforming our lives to be more like how Christ exhorts us, can be found in ‘The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola’.

The First Principle and Foundation

“The goal of our life is to live with God forever.
God who loves us, gave us life. Our own response of love allows God’s life to flow into us without limit. All the things in this world are gifts of God, presented to us so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily.

As a result, we appreciate and use all of these gifts of God insofar as they help us develop as loving persons. But if any of these gifts become the center of our lives, they displace God and so hinder our growth toward our goal. In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance before all of these created gifts insofar as we have a choice and are not bound by some obligation. We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or short one. For everything has the potential of calling forth in us a deeper response to our life in God.

Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to the deepening of God’s life in me.”

St. Ignatius, from the beginning of the Spiritual Exercises

Some food for thought.

Msgr. Ian+

Closing Prayer:

O Sweet Jesus! Pierce my heart so that my tears of pentitence and love will be my bread day and night; may I be converted entirely to Thee, may my heart be Thy perpetual habitation, may my conversation be pleasing to Thee, and may the end of my life be so praiseworthy that I may merit Heaven and there with Thy saints, praise Thee forever. Amen. (Conclusion to the Fifteen Prayers of Saint Bridget of Sweden).

Daily Reflection April 22 2008: Tuesday the Fifth Week of Easter

April 22, 2008

Collect of the Day:

Father, you restored your people to eternal life by raising Christ your Son from death. Make our faith strong and our hope sure. May we never doubt that you will fulfil the promises you have made.

We make our prayer through Jesus Christ your Son Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, ever One God world without end. Amen.

Today’s Readings:

The First Reading: Acts of the Apostles: 14:19-28: They assembled the Church and gave an account of all that God had done.

The Gospel John: 14-27-31: My peace I give you.

Today’s Gospel is pregnant with hope and encouragement. Jesus begins by telling us:

“Peace I bequeath you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”

In Biblical terms the word peace, shalom, does not simply mean the absence of trails and discomfort. This peace means everything that which leads us to our greater or higher good. The peace the world offers is often a placebo, the peace of escape, a peace which seeks the avoidance of trouble, a peace that often finds solace in objects and chemicals to help us to avoid facing our lives head on and is often egocentric not counting the cost to others.

The peace which Jesus offers is the peace of enablement. It is the peace which no experience in life can ever take away. It is the peace which no sorrow, no danger, no suffering can make any less. It is the peace which is independent of outward circumstances, it is the peace that comes from within. It is the peace that has its origins not in the daily accumulation, rather in the daily hacking away at the unessentials, the barriers that stop us from developing a closer relationship with God. It is the letting go of the “I”, “Me”, “Mine” and abandoning ourselves to the furtherment of spreading the message of God’s Divine Mercy and Love. It is a peace that comes from obedience.

This a fact that is often overlooked when we are seeking peace, that true freedom can only come from true obedience. Not a forced obedience or a totalitarian form of obedience but in the free giving of ourselves to the choices in our life that serve the greater glory of God. St. Paul explains this in Romans 12:12.

“I appeal to you therefore, sisters and brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

This sacrifice is the daily dying to the self so we can say with Paul:

“It is no longer I that live, but Christ who lives in me.”

It is through this willing dying to ourselves and becoming alive to Christ that real peace is to be discovered. Now St. Paul writing to the Philippians in a Roman prison where he was more than likely in chains and had to sleep on an earthen floor amongst other discomforts, says:

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

So it is through this total abandonment to Christ and His Gospel of peace and mercy that we can obtain the strength to embrace the peace that He offers us. As Our Lord Himself directed us:

“Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Msgr. Ian+

Closing Benediction:

The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and the love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord: And the Blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, be amongst you and remain with you always. (1549 Book of Common Prayer)