The problem with the Church of ‘nice’.

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Perfect family…    …perfect teeth.

I am not a perfect wife. I am not a perfect mother. And I don’t pretend to be – anymore.

I fight with my husband and my kids all the time. Most of the time it is over silly little things. They drive me mad. I drive them mad. We all have to live together.

I often used to think that I was doing something wrong. Everyone else seemed to have these perfect ‘nice’ marriages and perfect ‘nice’ families, and my marriage and family were just not like that. It became a point of shame for me that we were not as perfect as other people and really started to get me down.

Satan would whisper things in my ear like “Your marriage is not working… You are not cut out for motherhood… You are failing.” Of course the Father of lies is the master of keeping himself hidden, so I believed that what he was saying was true.

I think the biggest lie I believed was “You are not good enough.” My response to this was to try harder. Mistake.

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*Puke*

The scales began to fall from my eyes when one day a close friend who had the perfect marriage and family confided in me that her husband was obsessed with work and never spent any time at home, and she was in love with another man. She was terrified I would judge her. I didn’t of course because she was my friend and I loved her – but I couldn’t understand how her perfect marriage had got into that state?

I kept her confidence, and marveled at how they managed to keep it together at family events – still projecting the facade that everything was still ‘nice’.

The second eye opener for me was when a family member got divorced. It came as a complete shock for everyone because they seemed to be the perfect couple. It seems there was major troubles within the relationship that no-one knew about.

The third and most painful eye-opener was when I decided to hide my post natal depression. I was so ill, but I was so ashamed of not being as good as all the other mothers – or so I thought at the time. Then I found out that another friend was on antidepressants and that she also felt utterly trapped in the unending cycle of nappies, feeding and crying.

When I recovered from the depression I began to see things in a new light.  I looked at all my friends and their marriages and families and realised that all of us were struggling. It still makes me smile now when I see newly weds, or first time parents desperately trying to convey the ‘nice’ picture of perfect domestic bliss, because I know that Satan will be whispering the exact same thing into their ears as he was into mine. They are gonna have to work it out for themselves just like I did. I wouldn’t have believed it if anyone had tried to tell me anyway…

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*Real life*

This culture of perfection that we all seem to be striving for is based on pride. The fact is that none of us are good enough to carry out God’s plan for our lives. That’s right – I just said we are not good enough. Well, the truth is that we aren’t – and that was the final piece of the puzzle for me.

“I can’t do this Father, but You can. Please, I need You Father, I need You.”

It is amazing how the weight of my whole life just lifted off me at that moment. Realising that I was incapable was the most freeing moment of my life because it finally allowed me to rely entirely on God. And for the first time at that moment, it made sense that I should be entirely truthful with other people about how I find marriage and motherhood incredibly difficult at times. If I was ever going to be able to give an authentic witness to the sacrament of Marriage or to motherhood, then I was going to have to let people see that I was not perfect, and that that was ok.

What better witness to the truth is there than letting people see God’s mercy made perfect in my weakness? I am in need of a saviour. I need my Father.

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I bet these nice people don’t sin.

This exact same principle applies to the Church at large. People do not need a perfectly veneered version of the church. In fact I would say that this is probably the most off putting, disingenuous way of presenting things. If you try to give people the Church of ‘nice’ you are leading them to believe that everyone in that church is already perfect. Then they try to be perfect, and fail, and then try to cover up their shame and get totally put off because they can’t live up to your churches unattainably high moral standards. You know – they are probably terrible sinners, just like you are.

People need to see the truth, and the truth is that we as the church are just a big bunch of helpless sinners in need of a saviour. That includes the laity and the clergy. My role in evangelising amounts to nothing more than me being one beggar, telling another beggar where the bread is.

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People aren’t looking for ‘nice’. They are looking for truth. And the truth is that none of us are perfect, yet God still loves us unconditionally and wants us to totally rely on Him, and return to Him again and again through the sacrament of Confession.

Why didn’t they just shoot the boy? – Harambe and our contraceptive mentality.

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One monkey gets shot and everyone goes ape. Seriously, the amount of hate and judgment I have seen directed towards the mother of the little boy who managed to sneak into the Gorilla’s enclosure is just flabbergasting. I’ve seen a petition with over 150,000 signatures who are all calling for “Justice for Harambe” although no-one really knows what that means.

Many are blaming the mother for not supergluing the 4 year old to her side. I’m sure if she thought there was any risk at all of her son being able to breach the fence of the gorilla enclosure then she would have. Perhaps the haters need to be looking at the fact that the security at the gorilla enclosure was so weak it was foiled by a 4 year old? If I were the parents i’d be suing the zoo quite frankly.

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And then there is the fact that Harambe is a wild animal kept in captivity so that some people can gawp at him, and others can make money from people gawping at him. I’m sure when God made the majestic and extremely powerful Harambe, He didn’t intend him to spend his life in a zoo. I’m sure God intended him to live in the wild. But we love to control things don’t we…?

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The out-pouring of emotion and grief over Harambe reminds me of the death of Princess Diana (stick with me on this one…!) Harambe and Diana were both gawped at by people. Diana was held captive in her own media prison – never being able to leave the house without Paparazzi, never having a moments privacy. People paid good money to view every aspect of her life. She was a spectacle for our entertainment – just like Harambe.

When she died there was one of the biggest outpourings of grief i’ve ever seen. Why? I never understood why? Yesterday you were happy to gawp at this person and revel in her lack of privacy, and now you are mourning her death like she was your own mother. I think what we were witnessing was the widespread grief of death itself. We cannot control death. Perhaps there was also an element of guilt there for gawping for all those years?

Perhaps people are also feeling guilt for Harambe? I’m sure some are. But many more are just feeling plain old rage. The rage, I believe also stems from this lack of ability to control. We love to control everything. St JPII called this the ‘contraceptive mentality’.

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Our desire to control things leads us eventually to do absolutely anything to remain in control. We want all the benefits and pleasures we can lay our hands on – and none of the responsibility or consequences. As human beings we take this desire for control to the very limit through murdering our own children through abortion. We MUST remain in control.

So when our control of a 400lb wild animal we are holding hostage is compromised by a 4 year old boy and we have to shoot the animal to remain in control,  everyone blames the boy (and his mother).

“She should have been keeping better control of him!” That’s right – there is no room for accidents or anomalies or mistakes in our contraceptive culture. No room at all. In fact, I’m starting to believe that there would have been less of a hyper emotional outcry from the self-loathing haters if the zoo keeper had just shot the boy (and his mother of course…). Then we could all just keep looking at the funny monkey and gawp at how big and strong he is, and how clever we are for controlling him.

People are so stupid…

It all sounds like gibberish to me.

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Tower of Babel

My priest gave a great Pentecost homily today. He Began by talking about the tower of Babel. The rather over confident (more like arrogant) people of that time wanted to build a tower high enough to reach God – ie. they wanted to control God. When God saw what they were trying to do He confused all their languages. In the confusion and communication breakdown the whole project failed.

Then we have Pentecost. The Holy Spirit descends on the disciples and they suddenly realise they have the ability to speak in all different tongues. They are understood by everyone.

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What struck me about these two situations was the issue of control. The people building the tower of Babel wanted complete control. The fools wanted a relationship with God, but they wanted to be in charge. God wasn’t having any of it! They were completely full of themselves. The tower of Babel and desire to be in control was mans initiative.

In contrast, the disciples had let go of themselves and their own ideas had been filled with the Holy Spirit. They had all received many spiritual gifts – power, if you will, but it was God’s power and they knew and respected that. They were not full of themselves but were full of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost was God’s initiative.

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If we take these ideas into the present day we can see that things have not changed so much! Within the Catholic Church we have certain pro-abortion ‘Theologians’, and certain pro-divorce and remarriage Cardinals. We have the pink clergy brigade and the lunacy of the coven of banshee’s that will not stop screeching about female ordination.

Honestly, some of the stuff these guys come out with is so hard to get one’s head around – it would be easier to decipher and translate an army of Minions than it would be to work out what those groups are saying.

All these groups do seem to want a relationship with God, but they want it on their terms. Oh but hang on a minuet, I do too. There were many years I was having a relationship with Christ but refused to stop using contraception. And then there was the phase when I used to use prayer as an escape from the duties of a wife and a mother. That phase must have been rather tiresome for God. I would turn up to pray feeling all holy and excellent, and then I would just run the show and talk, talk, talk and wouldn’t let God get a word in edgeways! I couldn’t risk actually listening to God – He might tell me that the best place to find Him was in the pots and pans! 😉  – (Teresa of Avila).

And then there is the issue of suffering. “I promise I will believe in You God and I’ll never do anything wrong again – just as long as You don’t ask me to suffer in my life, ever. Well maybe a little bit but only as much as I say is ok…” 

Ha!Ha!

We all try to control God in our subtle little ways. It stems from our chronic lack of trust and chronic lack of humility problem. Yeah, that’s  what was afflicting the Tower of Babel builders, and that’s what affects us today. And when we begin to rely on ourselves in this life we soon find that nothing makes sense – just like the Babel builders did.

But as we see from Pentecost, when we let go of ourselves and our own ideas in complete humility and trust, God can then come and fill that space with His Spirit, and all of a sudden everything makes sense – even the really crazy impossible paradoxical stuff like agape love. We must let go, and let God.

I’m still working on it… 😉

The Holy Spirit’s prefered pronouns.

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Fr James Martin SJ once again managed to deeply offend the Holy Spirit today by using the gender pronoun ‘her’.

I find it terribly sad that in these triumphant days of political correctness, diversity and gender neutrality, that a leader in ‘progressive’ Catholic theology such as Fr James Martin SJ could be quite so narrow minded and discriminatory.

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Why does he feel the need to confine the Holy Spirit to a specific gender? By the fact that the Holy Spirit is referred to in the Old Testament using the Hebrew female noun ‘ruah‘ as well as the male noun ‘elohim‘ surely proves that the Holy Spirit is gender fluid? The greek word for the Holy Spirit ‘pneuma‘ is actually gender-neutral. Surely this is a much more progressive way of speaking about the Holy Spirit?

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Perhaps Fr James Martin SJ would like to step out of his uber traditional constrictive gender mentality and stop offending the Trans and Non-Binary communities? I feel he would benefit from spending some time amongst these communities to see that a person can truly exist without the need for rigid gender classification.

I’m in no doubt that the Holy Spirit’s prefered pronoun would be ‘Ze’. When we talk about Zir in this way we offend no-one, and do not restrict Zir to any limits. We acknowledge the fluidity and creativeness Ze is capable of in Zir non-genitalic/genderless form.

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Oh but wait just a second… “Gender ideology is demonic!” Pope Francis insists. He says that it militates against “the order of creation.” He sees it as so toxic, so destructive, that he has compared gender ideology to “the educational policies of Hitler.

Hmmm. Problemo.

Ok sorry Fr James Martin SJ, I guess if you want to remain in good standing with the church you can’t use gender neutral pronouns after all. But I guess that also applies to the fact that you are still calling the Holy Spirit ‘her’ too.

Have you ever heard of a book called The Catechism of the Catholic Church? It’s really good!

Did you realise the Good Samaritan said this?

Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?”
He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”

But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.
Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 
The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’
Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”
He said, “The one who showed him mercy.”
Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

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Pope Francis gave a catechises today on the good Samaritain that focuses on the moral lesson that we should find practical ways to love our neighbour during this year of mercy.

I felt Pope Francis was leaning the teaching towards meeting peoples material needs, which is a topic extremely close to his heart. And while this is an important moral lesson, it does slightly gloss over the fact that the original and contextual question to which Jesus was responding was from a lawyer asking: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

As every good Christian knows, no amount of practical good works will ever take away ones sin. And while there is nothing wrong with it, simply loving ones neighbour will not inherit you eternal life. The only way to inherit eternal life is to recognise and accept the free gift of mercy that is available to us from Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

As with all Jesus’ parables, there was learning within learning. There were superficial lessons and much deeper lessons hidden within the deep imagery of the words.

St Augustine looks at the same parable allegorically:

“A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho; Adam himself is meant; Jerusalem is the heavenly city of peace, from whose blessedness Adam fell; Jerichomeans the moon, and signifies our mortality, because it is born, waxes, wanes, an dies.
Thieves are the devil and his angels. Who stripped him, namely; of his immortality; and beat him, by persuading him to sin; and left him half-dead, because in so far as man can understand and know God, he lives, but in so far as he is wasted and oppressed by sin, he is dead; he is therefore called half-dead. 
The priest and the Levite who saw him and passed by, signify the priesthood and ministry of the Old Testament which could profit nothing for salvation.
Samaritanmeans Guardian, and therefore the Lord Himself is signified by this name.
The binding of the wounds is the restraint of sin. Oil is the comfort of good hope; wine the exhortation to work with fervent spirit.
The beast is the flesh in which He deigned to come to us. The being set upon the beast is belief in the incarnation of Christ.
The inn is the Church, where travelers returning to their heavenly country are refreshed after pilgrimage. The morrow is after the resurrection of the Lord.
The two pence are either the two precepts of love, or the promise of this life and of that which is to come. The innkeeper is the Apostle (Paul).
The supererogatory payment is either his counsel of celibacy, or the fact that he worked with his own hands lest he should be a burden to any of the weaker brethren when the Gospel was new, though it was lawful for him “to live by the gospel”.”

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I love this explanation of the parable because like everything Jesus did and said, it draws attention to who He was, and what He was here to do. With this we can see that the Good Samaritan holds a much deeper meaning than just the practical moral lesson of helping the needy.

Perhaps a good exercise is to read over the passage again, placing ourselves in the role of the man who was beaten – keeping Christ as the Samaritan character.
In this way we can see how Satan attacks us, and we become mortally wounded from our own sin.
No rules or regs are going to be able to save us. Only the love and mercy of Christ (as played by the Samaritan) can save us – when we can’t help ourselves. He will pay the price that we cannot pay. He will save us.

All we can really do in this life is to recognise our brokenness, weakness and sinful mortal wounds, and to reach up with all our strength and beg: “Help me!”

Personally I believe the parable of the Good Samaritan to be less of a feel good lesson in helping the poor, and more of a lesson in our radical spiritual poverty and God’s infinite generosity, which is what I feel the year of mercy should really be focusing on.

Understanding Tina Beattie’s nonsensical drivel.

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Prof. Tuna Buttie

For those of you who don’t know already, Tina Beattie is a Protestant to Catholic convert who has become a fairly well known theologian in the UK. She is Professor of Catholic Studies and Director of Digby Stuart Research Centre for Religion, Society and Human Flourishing and of Catherine of Siena College, both based at the University of Roehampton in London UK.

Much of her research focuses on the relationship between the Catholic tradition and contemporary culture, particularly in areas to do with gender, sexuality and reproductive ethics; Catholic social teaching and women’s rights, and theology and the visual arts. Her current and recent doctoral supervision is in the areas of feminist theology and women’s ordination, Black Madonnas, the homosexual person and the magisterium.

Tina is a Trustee of the Catholic weekly magazine The Tablet and a member of the Theological Advisory Group of the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (Cafod).

She has (along with some other women catholic theologians) written a letter to the Polish Bishops, whose country is currently introducing legislation that would completely protect the right to life of unborn children. In the letter she argues against the equal right to life of all members of the human family, and in favour of “early, safe and legal” abortion for disabled babies.

That’s right folks – not only is she pro women priests and pro gay marriage, she is also pro abortion.

There is now a petition to have her removed from her position as advisor to CAFOD. If you would like to sign it please click HERE.

I have written to Roehampton University to ask them if having a Professor of Catholic studies who is so obviously against the teachings of the Catholic Church, is really meeting the University’s standards of offering their students the best education. I await their reply.

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Tina’s dreadful book. I’m guessing she is about to throw it at the Vatican – the same as she does with her nonsensical verbal theological wiffle-waffle. 

Now for me, Tina Beattie is just fascinating. Of course it is true that no-one can truly tell what is going on in her internal life, but her outward actions and theories do give us a jolly good idea. And the reason I am wanting to dissect her internal life is because she is in several positions of authority in which people look to her for theological guidance – even if it to hold up their own wacky religious views they wished could come true. She is abusing her position of power and I am not going to stand for her leading others astray.

From her writings and theories it is plain to see that Mrs Beattie (bless her heart) is spiritually weak and sickly. She is utterly consumed with the idea of a comfortable ‘man centred’ (or should I say ‘person’ centred?!) faith. But as Pope Benedict XVI reminds us: “…you were not made for comfort, you were made for greatness!” All her theories revolve around the idea that we can side-step the cross. And she has warped the faith and moulded it into a pale comparison of itself: she has divorced love from suffering.

I would be absolutely fascinated to know how she describes her relationship with Jesus. What on earth goes on in her prayer life? How can she talk openly to God while her views utterly contradict His church and His commandments?

Well there is two possibilities here as far as I can see:

  1. She has no relationship with Christ and no prayer life.
  2. She does have a relationship with Christ, but she is in charge.

I have to say, I think it is probably the latter. For all her nonsensical babbling, Tina does seem to have a genuinely caring heart for the issues she is passionate about. But she misses the very first commandment “I am the Lord your God. You will have no false Gods above me.”

Tina truly believes she is cleverer that the Catholic Church, the Catechism, the magisterium, Papal writings such as ‘Humanae Vitae’ and ‘Theology of the Body’, the 10 commandments and even God Himself.

You see, all those things are wrong, and Tina’s groundbreaking theology comes to correct all those out of date, discriminatory, sexist and downright boring laws.

Slap me on the wrist if I am being presumptuous here, but that smacks of Satan’s favourite sin to me – pride. Of course Satan himself believed he was higher than God.

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Satanists do weird stuff wearing plastic baby heads to disrupt an anti-abortion protest outside a Planned Parenthood clinic.

Now I’m not totally suggesting that Tina Beattie is Satan incarnate, even though she does advocate murder of the unborn on her theological grounds (so do satanists btw), it’s just that abortion is murder, and God doesn’t like murder. Of course Tina is not advocating all abortions – just those of disabled people and those conceived in rape, because they of course do not have as many human rights as other people, do they?

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Valerie Gatto – Miss Pennsylvania 2014 was conceived in rape.

Perhaps someone should introduce Tina to Valerie Gatto. Valerie was crowned Miss Pennsylvania 2014, and has used her fame to tell the world her story. This beautiful brave young lady was conceived in rape.

“(My Mom) always would tell me I was her light — I am the light to illuminate the darkness for all to see, and I look at it from that moment of conception, there has been that light associated with darkness.”

So Tina – here is a question for you to ponder over:

According to your  theology, because she was conceived in rape, Valerie did not have the same human rights as me, because I was not conceived in rape. Now that we are both adults, does she still have less human rights than me?

I suppose that question also applies to the disabled. Do disabled people have less human rights than you do, Tina? Did they have less rights that you did in the womb?

What does God say about this? What does His church teach about this? Who’s in charge Tina – you or God?

Tina…? Can you hear me? I’d love to hear your answer…

 

 

 

The risk of a tender heart.

 

Dear Jesus,

I want to talk about tenderness of heart.
The more and more I dwell on it, I think tenderness of heart is the key to understanding the Christian message. What else is there?! If our hearts are tender then we will be able to receive and give love and more importantly – understand the paradoxical nature of love.
If our hearts are hard then we are literally unable to give, receive or understand love. Only a tender heart can give beyond what reason says it can give. Only a tender heart can suffer without resentment or unhappiness.
A tender heart is also able to open to receive the love that is beyond reason. A tender heart knows faith, and does not require explanation – because a tender heart understands that love cannot be scientifically explained, only given and received.
It is when our hearts become hard that explanation is required, and no answer will suffice because there is no answer except love itself. If your heart is not tender enough to give or receive love then you will never be able to understand it!
We are all born with beautifully open tender hearts. But life and people wound us – and a wounded heart can become defensive. Love requires risk, and to the wounded heart this risk can often seem too much to bear, and the heart then turns in on itself and becomes hard and cold.
The other thing that wounds a tender heart is sin. Regular exposure to sin hardens our hearts by allowing the sin to become normalised.
I often think that certain sins are appealing to people who may have been wounded in a specific area, because the hardening of the heart can actually help dull the pain associated with the initial wounding – hardening the heart even more. I have noticed this pattern in my own life.
The price paid for a tender heart is that I will feel pain. This is the price of love. Love and suffering cannot be separated. And certainly in my case this has been the cause of my hardening of heart. To regain that tenderness requires me to soften myself so that pain can be realised and then be given to You. It is only once I have surrendered my pain that You are able to take it away from me and then heal my wounded heart.
Can tenderness of heart ever be regained? Yes, I believe so. Because nothing is impossible for God. But one thing is sure, and that is that without tenderness of heart, I will never be capable of receiving the fullness of Your love. And I can never give to others what I have not received myself. So Jesus please, help me to examine my own tenderness of heart, and then receive from You the healing and softening that I require, so that I can reach other hearts with the tenderness I have received from You.
I love You Jesus.

Did Voris just become our mascot for the Year of Mercy?

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I was very moved to see Michael Voris confess to his gay past a few days ago. I’m sure this must have been a very difficult thing for him to do, but I have to say – I think it is probably the best thing that has ever come out of Church Militant TV.

It explains a lot. The ruthless style journalism, the depth of revulsion – verging on hatred, of all things flimsy and unorthodox within the church, the hair… 😉

I think that when someone has lived in the depths of sin for so many years, the freedom that comes with confession and conversion is so life transforming that it is a pretty natural reaction to want to reject all sin with such dramatic force.

Mr Voris has often come across as rather cold and judgmental. But in the light of his recent revelations it is possible to see now that his motivations were not “holier than thou” but much more likely an impassioned revulsion at his own sinful past.

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The reason Mr Voris has brought his past to light was because he claims that New York diocese was “…collecting and preparing to quietly filter out details of my past life with the aim of publicly discrediting me, this apostolate and the work here.” 

A spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York told the Catholic Herald: “It is absolutely, 100 per cent untrue that the archdiocese was collecting and preparing to release anything concerning him personally or his website.”

Hmmm… difficult to say what really happened. I don’t think Mr. Voris would have revealed his past unless he really did think New York diocese was going to try to use it to discredit him. But if he was really smart, he would have allowed them to go ahead and do it – and basically give themselves enough rope to hang themselves with. As it stands now it is very difficult to prove that was the diocese intention.

In recent years New York diocese and Cardinal Dolan have been sued by Catholic parishioners accusing them of covering up for a homosexual priest Fr. Peter Miqueli, who stole millions from parishes to finance a sadomasochistic sex life with his gay-for-pay prostitute.

There was also the decision of Cardinal Dolan to head the 2015 St Patrick’s day parade despite the inclusion of a gay activist group, and the exclusion of a pro-life group. Mr Voris actually questioned Cardinal Dolan on this issue, at the parade itself. It feels very different now to watch this in the light of Mr. Voris’ past. I really think he is extremely brave as this is obviously an issue that is very close to his heart.

Cardinal Dolan recently wrote: “And…the Pontiff who has proclaimed a Year of Mercy, urging us, like a prophet of the Old Testament, like Jesus, like the apostles, like the saints, to ask Jesus for His mercy in our prayer, in the sacrament, and then to show this mercy to others.”

How ironic that those who claim to offer Christ’s mercy, seem to be perfectly alright with a gay activist group being part of their parade, but allegedly try to use the homosexual sins of a man’s past to try to discredit his reputation. While on the other hand we have a man who is renowned for being ruthless and apparently judgmental, now standing as a perfect example of what Christ’s mercy really looks like.

What better Christian witness is there than being a forgiven sinner? 🙂

What the diocese of New York has perhaps overlooked is that fact that there is nothing shameful about turning away from a sinful past.

Personally I think that this is the best thing that Mr. Voris has ever published. And I am excited to see how he will now continue with his ministry, because now he has revealed his need for confession, compassion and understanding, we will never see Church Militant in the same light again.

God’s love and mercy is made perfect in our vulnerability and weakness.

Mother Angelica’s last gift to us.

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I was watching the solemn mass last night on EWTN held in memory of Mother Angelica. It was beautiful.

The homily was given by a priest very close to mother Angelica who was privileged enough to be with her through her last few days. He said that she did suffer terrible pain towards the end. On good Friday she was crying out from the fractures in her bones, caused by spending so much time bedridden. But, he said, she did seem to calm down after 3pm – the time our Lord gave up His spirit.

It seems obvious to me that mother Angelica was participating in our Lord’s pain and passion. I can say this with confidence because she had proved at earlier times in her life that she understood the value of suffering.

The priest said that despite the concern expressed by her doctors and fellow nuns, she had asked to go onto a feeding tube a few weeks before to prolong her life as long as possible. This was because she understood the infinite value in one more glance to God, one more act of redemptive suffering offered with love. This of course is the exact opposite mentality of the euthanasia movement who wish to eliminate all pain and suffering, and old-age ‘uselessness’.

He reminded us that she suffered a huge brain hemorrhage in 2001 which meant that from that time on she spent most of her time back in the cloister. God had called her back into a life of prayer and contemplation, where she was going to be most valuable to Him.

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We are so quick to dismiss suffering. It is almost always an unwanted gift, but none the less, one of the most valuable.

In my own experience of suffering I have learned that it is how we suffer that is important. Just like fasting, I believe suffering only bears fruit if it is offered with a prayerful loving and generous heart. I believe suffering to be the biggest untapped spiritual resource we have as Christians.

Let’s choose to embrace our little crosses and allow ourselves to participate in Jesus’ pain and passion, not just at the end of our lives, but today and everyday, just like mother Angelica did.

Someone make that woman a saint!

The Jewish roots of the Eucharist.

Very excited to introduce my mum – Julie Brook who has been reading the amazing book ‘Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist’ by Brandt Pitre, and has written this great article for Faith in our Families…

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By Julie Brook

Did you know that the Jews had Sacred Bread which the priests elevated in the Temple before the people every Sabbath saying, ‘Behold God’s love for you’? Or that at every Passover the sacrificial lambs were fixed on a kind of crucifix? Or that the Jews were expecting a new Exodus? Or that a cup of wine was missing at the Last Supper?

Did you think that the Jews were expecting a political figure? What they were really waiting for was the restoration of Israel in a new Exodus. The first Exodus ensured the freedom of the Jews to worship God. By sacrificing on Mount Sinai Moses and the people sealed their Covenant relationship with God concluding the ritual with a great feast. Soon afterwards the Jews broke the Covenant by worshipping the Golden Calf but a thousand years later the prophet Jeremiah foretold a new, everlasting Covenant.

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After the Exodus the Jews built a Tabernacle as the central point of God’s presence in their midst. It was a small, moveable building, the dwelling place of God on earth. The later Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem was permanent and far more splendid but it was destroyed by the Babylonians in 537BC. King Cyrus of Persia permitted it to be rebuilt but it never regained its splendor.

The prophets now forecast a new Covenant, a new Temple that God would build in the age of salvation at the time of a new Exodus. It would bring both Jews and Gentiles into a new Promised Land which they would possess forever. The new Moses would be a Messiah, a king, prophet and miracle-worker who would rain down bread from heaven. Redemption would take place on a Passover night and a new Covenant would end in a heavenly banquet.

This new Exodus would need a new Passover. The procedure for the first Passover was as follows: first, sacrificing an unblemished male lamb (a priestly action), spreading the blood of the lamb on the doorposts (averting the angel of death), and to complete the sacrifice, eating the lamb and finally keeping the Passover as a Remembrance.

Fifteen centuries later, at the time of Jesus, the lamb had to be sacrificed in the Temple and eaten in Jerusalem. The Jews would drive a thin smooth stave of wood through the shoulders of the lamb in order to hang it and skin it. Another spit would transfix it right through from the lower parts right up to the head. Jesus would have gone up to Jerusalem every year and seen lambs bled and crucified – thus prefiguring his own death.

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The last supper

There are similarities between the Last Supper and the traditional Passover which took place in Jerusalem after sunset on Passover night; wine was drunk, the meaning of the bread was explained and a final hymn was sung. The father of the family led the ceremony and explained the meaning of the lamb, unleavened bread and bitter herbs (which fulfilled God’s original command to keep the Passover as a day of ‘Remembrance’).

Jesus, however, acted as host and leader of the Apostles, not as their father. He focused on the New Covenant rather than on the events of the first Exodus. Without mentioning the body and blood of the Passover lamb he spoke of his own body and blood while handling the traditional food – bread and wine – stating ‘This is my Body’ and ‘ This is my Blood’, and commanding the Apostles to  ‘Do this in memory of me.’ Thus, Jesus deliberately changed the format.

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Manna in the desert

The manna in the desert was a miraculous bread from heaven. It appeared in the same quantity, about one litre, never lasted for more than one day, was provided for forty years and stopped the day after the Israelites reached the Promised Land. Some of the manna was preserved in the Temple as being holy, from God. The Jews came to believe that this bread existed in heaven before the world began, and it would return to earth again one day at the new Exodus with the Messiah.

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Bread of the Presence

The holy bread in the Temple – the Bread of the Presence – was in the form of twelve cakes for the twelve tribes of Israel; with the wine offering it was the sign of God’s Presence, his Holy Face, an everlasting Covenant, offered by the High Priest and eaten by priests in Jerusalem. At the Last Supper there were twelve apostles, there was the Bread and Wine of Jesus’ presence, offered by Jesus himself in a new Covenant and eaten by the Apostles (now priests).

The Last Supper was not just a new Passover, or new Manna; it was also the institution of the new Bread and Wine of the Presence i.e. Jesus. Like the priests in the Temple before him, Jesus was saying, ‘Behold God’s love for you’. A mandatory part of the Jewish Passover was the four cups of wine. The first cup was blessed before the food was brought in. The second was drunk after the father’s telling of the Exodus story. After the meal started the third cup was blessed and drunk, and the concluding rites were the singing of the Psalms and the drinking of the fourth cup. It was forbidden to drink any wine between the third and fourth cup.

Luke 22: 14 – 20 mentions only two cups. The first of these was drunk by the Apostles and Jesus said, ‘…I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ The second cup mentioned came after supper, so it was the traditional third cup. This was the moment when Jesus said, ‘This cup which is poured out for you is the new Covenant in my blood.’ The psalm was sung and they all went out to Gethsemane. There is no mention here of the fourth cup, and yet the Passover was not complete without it.

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A soldier offers Jesus wine with myrrh.

Imagine the bewilderment of the apostles. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed three times about the cup he must drink. This must be the fourth cup. On the cross Jesus was offered wine and myrrh, a traditional act of mercy to dull the pain of crucifixion, but Jesus refused it. Later he cried out, ‘I thirst’, thus asking for a drink, and was offered vinegar (sour wine) which he accepted. He then said, ‘It is finished’. This was the fourth cup, taken at the very moment of death.

By vowing not to drink the last cup at the Last Supper, Jesus extended his last Passover meal to include his own death, so uniting the Last Supper to his death on the cross. No Passover meal was complete without the eating of the lamb; now Jesus’ disciples might understand his insistence (John 6:35 – 58) that in order to have life we must eat his flesh and drink his blood. This is the Body and Blood of the resurrected Jesus, holy indeed and the source of everlasting life.

O Sacrament most holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment thine.

Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist by Brandt Pitre. Doubleday.  ISBN 978-0-385-53184-9