Edmund’s Friday F.A.ST. – Prayer is done among the pots and pans.

Edmund Adamus

Edmund Adamus

Prayer is done among the pots and pans

This year marks the 500th anniversary of that great Spanish mystic and Doctor of the Church, St. Teresa of Avila. There is a wonderful little exhibition about her life and Carmelite spirituality in Westminster Cathedral – St. Patrick and the Irish Saints chapel – at the moment. Well worth a visit. What struck me about Teresa’s wonderfully simple take on prayer ultimately being a conversation with a Friend, Jesus Christ, was this statement in the exhibition that the Saint, ‘Understands prayer as an activity embedded in daily life. It is not something that can only be done in silence and solitude but amidst the “pots and pans.” ‘

It reminds me of that old adage, “can you smoke whilst you pray? No, but you can pray whilst you smoke.” In other words, the Spirit of Christ is to be found in the seemingly mundane and ordinary stuff of life, so long as we actually make the effort to seek Him and invite Him there.  It’s all part of this ‘Kitchen Table Theology’ I mentioned last year. The Domestic Church in real time if you like – which is why I was struck by another obvious but revelatory piece in this article which stated:

Family dinners have been found to be a more powerful deterrent against high-risk teen behaviours than church attendance or good grades … and that children will learn 1,000 more rare words at table during conversation than being read to aloud. Family dinners or lunches at the weekends have their own interpersonal qualities argues the piece. Well of course they do, which is why every meal shared among loved ones, especially family is reminiscent of the Christ-centred Last Supper and a foretaste – however small – of the great feast of heaven. Hopefully they humanise us in preparation for the great banquet where we will become MOST human, with Christ, Our Lady and all the Angels and Saints.

Meanwhile on another but not altogether unrelated note, please pray for the priests of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy who are behind this timely statement below and who clearly value the family and home as central to their priestly life and ministry.

“The International gathering of Confraternities of Catholic Clergy meeting in Rome (January 5th to 9th 2015), have discussed issues pertinent to the forthcoming Synod on the Family in response to the Holy Father’s call for reflection. The fathers pledge their unwavering fidelity to the traditional doctrines regarding marriage and the true meaning of human sexuality as proclaimed in the Word of God and set out clearly in the Church’s Ordinary and Universal Magisterium. Confraternity priests from Australia, Great Britain, Ireland and the United States commit themselves to the work of presenting anew the Good News about marriage and family life in all its fullness and helping, with the Lord’s compassion, those who struggle to follow the Gospel in a secular society. The Confraternities, furthermore, affirm the importance of upholding the Church’s traditional discipline regarding the reception of the sacraments and that doctrine and practice must remain firmly and inseparably in harmony.”

You can read more here.

– Edmund Adamus
Director, Office of Marriage and Family Life – Diocese of Westminster

Love by the Sanctuary Light

Victoria Seed

By  – Victoria Seed

This Sunday at Mass my daughter asked me why there was a red light at the front of the church when all the other candles were white.  She was captivated by the glow of the sanctuary light.  I explained that it was a special light that is always lit when Jesus is at home in the tabernacle.  She found the idea that Jesus is there right now reassuring.  As we watched the priest place the undistributed Eucharist in the ciboria, cover them and return them to the tabernacle, my daughter whispered to me ‘Jesus is going to have a little rest now, and the light says He is still in his home, but you get to take Jesus with you, Mommy, because you had communion!’

I always thought I understood what it meant to treat the Blessed Sacrament with reverence.  I have a good conceptual understanding of how the graces of the Eucharist are meant to nourish our faith and bring us closer to God.  But I have never actually considered what it means to “take Jesus with me” when I leave the church.  The sanctuary light says that He remains in the tabernacle, but what signs proclaim that He remains in me?  Fortunately, the Holy Father answered just these questions in his second Wednesday address on the Eucharist (12th February, 2014):

“We all go to Mass because we love Jesus and we want to share, through the Eucharist, in His passion and His resurrection.  But do we love, as Jesus wishes, those brothers and sisters who are most needy? […]  I who go to Mass, how do I live this?  Do I try to help, to approach and pray for those in difficulty?  Or am I a little indifferent?  Or perhaps do I just want to talk: ‘Did you see how this or that one is dressed?’  Sometimes this happens after Mass and it should not!  We must concern ourselves with our brothers and sisters who need us.   […] Let us ask Jesus, whom we receive in the Eucharist, to help us help them.”

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It is perfectly natural that receiving the Eucharist should bring us, with our cooperation, into greater love and sympathy with our brothers and sisters in Christ because it is Christ himself we receive.  Pope Francis is recalling us to the biblical accounts of Jesus’ ministry:  when we read the scriptures we see again and again how Jesus encourages and requires care for the suffering and the sorrowful.  There is not a single vocation so high and mighty that it allows indifference or neglect of the poor.  The parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37) shows the unfortunate man being rightly tended by the Samaritan who helped him when his plight was ignored by, for example, a priest who did not wish to risk ritual impurity.  More strikingly still, in the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46) Jesus tells us that when we feed the hungry and clothe the naked we care for Him, and when we fail to minister to those less fortunate than us we fail to minister to Him.  How, then, could any true communion with Christ leave us indifferent to human need?

There should be no divide in the Church between the most reverent liturgical traditionalists and the most evangelical social-justice crusaders: both draw their nourishment from the same source, from Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.  The Holy Father tells us that the ‘the mission and the very identity of the Church’ are rooted in the Eucharist.  He says:

A celebration may be flawless on the exterior, very beautiful—but if it does not lead us to encounter Jesus Christ, it is unlikely to bear any kind of nourishment to our heart and to our life.  Through the Eucharist, however, Christ wishes to enter into our life and permeate it with His grace, so that in every Christian community there may be coherence between liturgy and life.

Reflect on those words for just a moment: coherence between liturgy and life.  All true charity has its origins in the Eucharist, and we should always be drawn back to the Mass to receive strength and sustenance from Christ.  But we cannot stay there, within the safe confines of the liturgy.  What we believe about the Eucharist – that it is the true presence of Christ, body, blood, soul and divinity – is made ridiculous if we can receive it without being truly evangelized and converted from within.  If our communion exists only within the walls of the church and the brief moments of the liturgy, then we will have no greater a share in the life of Christ than the paltry part we allow him in ours.  When we receive the Eucharist at Mass we get to take Jesus with us when we go!  We should pray that we may glow as brilliantly and reassuringly as the sanctuary light that promises God is with us, here, now and always.

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The Future of the Church in the UK

This weekend i was privileged enough to go to Portsmouth diocese to attend the ‘Called and Gifted’ workshop hosted by Sherry Weddell. Sherry’s book ‘Forming intentional disciples’ was described by Bishop Egan as being “…one of the most important books regarding evangelisation in modern times.” I totally agree with him and very much recommend getting yourself a copy (in brief, it speaks about the vast majority of practising Catholics today that do not have a personal relationship with Christ – and then sets out the 5 stages that people go through in order to become an ‘intentional disciple’.)

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Bishop Egan has become my new hero! Firstly for recognising and admitting that this issue is a reality for the Catholics he is responsible for, and secondly for actually doing something about it. My real hope is that other Bishops in the UK will see the success, renewal, and change that is coming out of Portsmouth diocese and will decide to follow its example.

While the workshop was primarily about discerning our own personal charisms, the overwhelming feeling i (and many others) have been left with is one of hope for the Catholic Church in the UK. For many, many years now the faith in the UK has been watered down and compromised, resulting in the loss of the real truth, beauty and spirituality of Catholicism. We now have Parishes and Diocese that are ‘maintained’ rather than built up, and a retention rate that is so poor it is embarrassing. Ask yourselves: How many babies got baptised in our parish this year? How many young adults were confirmed? And how many parishioners do we have in their 20’s?

Why are they not sticking around?!!

This is of course due to many factors – the main two being the pressures of our militant secular culture and the failure of the church to effectively transmit the faith. Instead of remaining confident and secure in the fact that the church is naturally counter cultural and that Jesus was a peaceful rebel who remained entirely truthful and faithful unto death, many in positions of authority have allowed a comfy cosy church to exist that just keeps everyone happy and keeps things ticking over. 

It seems that the central focus in most diocese today is on keeping the parishioners happy rather than on God Himself. (There are also those who purposefully seek to advance the Church forward in a ‘progressive’ way. I wont go into that now – the only thing i will say about that is: What are you progressing away from, and towards?)

Anyway, back to my original point – hope. How many people in your parish would you say were in a 100% committed, passionate, and genuine relationship with Jesus Christ?

Now just imagine that Everyone in your parish was in a 100% committed, passionate, and  genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. Imagine that everyone knew their gifts talents and charisms and used them effectively for the the greater glory of God. What difference would that make to the life of your parish? It has been done in the USA. It can be done here. It IS being done here in Portsmouth Diocese. Keep your eyes on this Diocese and on Bishop Egan, and watch in the video below how he is leading the way in the new evangelisation in the UK. THIS is the church i want my children growing up in. Thank You God!!!

https://vimeo.com/99010731

What Catholic marriage prep should be…

At 18 I came back to the church. At 20 i got married. I was a kid. But even then i knew that the promise i was making was for life. But that was about all i did know.

Our marriage prep course was nice. It was a one day course that talked about resolving conflict, being sensitive to each others feelings and making time for each other. It was nice.

It didn’t mention anything about NFP (in fact it didn’t mention anything about sex whatsoever!) It didn’t mention anything about the stabilizing pillar marriage is within the community or the wider sociological responsibilities and it didn’t mention anything about the fact that if you do break up, you cannot re-marry (or if you do, the fact that you will not be able to receive communion because you will be in a perpetual state of adultery – I NEVER KNEW THIS!!!).

The American population is said to have a divorce rate of about 50%. Catholics stand out with only 28% of the ever-married having divorced at some point. But 28% remains a troubling statistic. Even some clergy are starting to throw in the towel regarding the sanctity of marriage. With recent headlines including “German bishops will defy Vatican on divorced-remarried receiving Communion…” perhaps it is time to have a good look at how we prepare people for marriage?… I’m just sayin’

The head of a major U.S. missionary apostolate says that evangelization – not simple catechesis – is needed to prepare Catholics for good marriages by putting Jesus Christ at the center of their lives.

We have got to recognize the difference between evangelization and catechesis, Curtis Martin, co-founder of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, told CNA Feb. 14.

“There is an attempt, by some of the best marriage preparation people in the country, to give all the catechesis about marriage that they possibly can, and they haven’t evangelized on the importance of Christian marriage.”

“You’re actually filling them with information but they don’t know why they need it.”

Catholics preparing for marriage should have “actually encountered Christ and have chosen to make him the center of their lives, so that this is the driving force in their life and the most important relationship.”

“That is fundamental,” he said.

Martin and his wife Michaelann began the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, known as FOCUS, in 1998. The student missionary organization now has more than 350 missionaries on 83 U.S. campuses.

Martin, a father of nine, has served as a consultor to the Pontifical Council on the New Evangelization since 2011. He said that changes are needed for marriage preparation in the Catholic Church.

“Nobody wants to marry badly. But our marriage preparation is not engaging, it is not compelling, it is not effective, despite the fact that we’ve got some of the most sincere, wonderful people trying to do it.”

Marriage preparation is often perceived as “mostly onerous” and something that must be done in order to marry in the church one’s parents want.

Martin suggested that marriage preparation could be a winning moment to introduce people to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and explain “why the Catholic faith can make all the difference in the marriage they’re hoping to enter into, and succeed in.”

While it is possible to have a lifelong marriage without supernatural grace, Martin said, “to really be able to love one another with the love of God requires that you have actually known and experienced the love of God.”

“The Church’s teachings about marriage are actually impossible to live without God’s grace,” he said.

Martin stressed the importance of what he called “remote preparation” for marriage, forming young people even before they are in relationships.

“Once you’re in love, you’re not going to listen to principles that are going to cause you to break up with that person.”

Rather, knowing these principles will help guide young people about who they fall in love with and help their chances of marrying well, he said.

“Our issue here is that most people have not encountered Jesus Christ and been able to accept him as the Lord of their life. That’s what the Church exists to do: to evangelize,” Martin said. “Only after that are we going to learn how to follow Christ.

“We’re actually meant to live with God at the center of our lives,” he said. “Jesus comes and restores marriage to its original state, which was meant to be lived in the state of grace.”

Sources –

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/catholic-marriage-preparation-needs-to-better-evangelize/

http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/german-bishops-will-defy-vatican-on-divorced-remarried-receiving-communion

http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/divorce-statistics-indicate-catholic-couples-are-less-likely-to-break-up/