Speaking Freely

This last week or so has seen a lot of activity and comment around the topic of “free speech” or freedom of speech in the wake of the comments by Jacob Rees-Mogg MP on his fidelity to Catholic teaching on the subjects of abortion and same sex marriage. I’m not going to go over again the myriad of comments that have been published of the aggressive and at times vulgar reactions to what he said. We all know that the issue is about not what he expressed but the fact that he [and indeed anyone who wants to publicly express their Christian belief and conviction about moral questions] had the “audacity” to give voice to them at all.
It reminds us that in fact, there is no such thing [really] as free speech or freedom to speak. Yes [so far] one can legally say what one believes in public on such matters as Jacob Rees-Mogg did but the fact is what he said and what so many others might wish to say in public or print or in company and even amongst one’s own kin; it does not in fact come without a price – a cost of some kind or other.
I am talking about the price one pays for expressing Catholic faith and conviction across a whole range of issues in social settings, the workplace, even to friends and family. More and more conscientious believers in Jesus are prefacing what they say, tweet, write or text with the thought – “but how will they react to this? What will others think of me if I say this or that?”
This is particularly true of the shade of any opinion that in any way places one firmly in the opposite direction of so called “LGBTQ” rights and the ever menacing reality of “transgender” rights etc. The way the draconian interpretation of equality legislation is going will soon mean that even one’s unspoken thoughts will be subject to scrutiny by another who might “perceive” your silence on their rights as denial of their rights to which they can then claim you have offended their feelings [their person] and so report you to the new “hate” police for being mean and unsympathetic etc etc..

What binds us together in civic society in a civil way where all shades of opinion can be expressed and tolerated is rapidly falling apart. Where this will end is anyone’s guess. One Archbishop infamously said “Who knows what’s down the road?” in reply to a question about the future of the Catholic Church and gay marriage. So yes indeed – who knows what’s down the road for conscientious Christians not just in the workplace or social setting but the classroom, the living room, the restaurant or pub [at an overheard discussion] on a train, a bus and not least on social media [which can be often a decidedly anti-social environment] in fact anywhere. Our only hope is that because God sees all and hears all and is everywhere, then our courage to stand up for what we believe in, despite the threats will not go unrewarded.

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Back to School!

“Back to School!” How that phrase [so often used early in August for the purposes of marketing school uniforms and stationery] used to fill me with dread when I was a child. And I have to say [as a parent] the thought of the children returning to the daily/weekly routine of school timetables and repetition is somewhat of a relief after 6 weeks of a fair degree of disorder and random activity [depending on the weather] around the home. For all of that though, I shall miss something of the “school of the home” atmosphere we have all enjoyed as a family since mid July.

Classroom and home, hearth and assembly hall have got to be synergised in the cherishment of Christian values and faith if the family/school; parent/teacher partnership is to bear the rich fruit it is called to bring forth in grace. For that, there really has to be fresh standards of mutual appreciation and support but especially I feel, for the sacred space that is the Christian home.

I was reflecting on this over the last few days as I was immersed in [of all things] the painting of our humble garden shed. A somewhat mundane task but one which we all enjoyed contributing to [though I had the lion’s share] as a family. What’s this got to do with my point above? Well, some years ago I addressed an international conference at the University of Torun in Poland on the dignity and purpose of the family. In my talk I reminded the audience of the unique phrase to this island nation of ours; “An Englishman’s home is his castle.” 

It was established as common law by the lawyer and politician Sir Edward Coke (pronounced Cook), in The Institutes of the Laws of England, 1628:

“For a man’s house is his castle, et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium [and each man’s home is his safest refuge].”

This enshrined into law the popular belief at the time, expressed in print by several authors in the late 16th century. It was even used as an argument to say that outlawed English Catholics still enjoyed the protection of this maxim, at least culturally if not always technically. The Stage of Popish Toyes: containing both tragicall and comicall partes, by Henri Estienne wrote in 1581:

‘The English papists owe it to the Queen that “your house is your Castle.”’

The English have had a passion for the sovereignty of hearth and home for more than a millennia. The English have the widest variety of chimneys in the world as well as more garden sheds than anywhere else. (Which is why I felt obliged to smarten our’s up!)

Seriously though, if the home is meant to be sacred then the family, and the wishes and conscientiously held beliefs of that family [consonant with Gospel values and Catholic teaching] who reside in that home ought to be fully respected and served by all sectors of society and ecclesiastical life. The former grows less and less but the latter [especially the parish and school] must be something the Catholic family can depend upon; if not then something is very drastically wrong. There is no need for me to enunciate the many and diverse risks facing the family. The message of the 2008 World Day of Peace puts it succinctly;

‘Consequently, whoever, even unknowingly, circumvents the institution of the family undermines peace in the entire community, national and international, since he weakens what is in effect the primary agency of peace.

So as a new academic year begins I pray the Holy Spirit will pour afresh on parents, teachers, clergy, and catechists a new and deep sense of mutual respect, Christ-like love and dependence upon the Lord to fulfil their shared task of passing on the Faith.

 

Moonstruck!

This last few days have seen some major media attention on the full lunar eclipse of the sun which passed through 10 different US states in the space of 90 minutes. An eclipse is always an impressive thing. One commentator in the US who witnessed it said it was “a religious experience.” Not sure what he meant by that; perhaps like many natural wonders he meant it was a numinous experience, something that takes one out of oneself reminding one of the transcendent and omnipotent Divine. Well I can relate to that. I was in Ephesus at the shrine of the House of Mary (Miryam) in  August 1999 when a total eclipse was witnessed by millions from Falmouth to Syria and more. I can always remember that strange sensation when the sky turns dark and the temperature drops [though at the height of summer in Turkey that’s not much of a drop] and you feel that bizarre wonderment of being in the midst of something almost apocalyptic. By that I mean an “unveiling” of something rather than an end of the world/doomsday type of thing.

The “unveiling” for me that day at the last earthly home of the Queen of Heaven where she was assumed body and soul in to heaven was one of a new realisation that like Mary, we too as disciples of the Lord must be “lunar” models of the Church. That is to say, like the moon we must reflect the light of Christ in the darkness of the world around us so often without that light. We must shine as reflectors of His glory and wonder. We will never do it as beautifully as Mary Immaculate for unlike her we all too often “eclipse” the light of Jesus by our sins. But it’s by turning often to Her who is the Refuge of Sinners, who has the Moon at her feet as a symbol of her sovereign power and closeness to the Redeemer, that we will shine once again with grace and truth and beauty. In these days of continued commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima and her monthly messages to the child seers and through them to us, let us renew efforts to be close to Her through the power of the daily rosary. We face uncertain futures in this fragile world so full of terror, war and threat of devastating war. The Holy Rosary is and must be our preferred weapon of choice to fight the ultimate battle we all face every single moment of every single day.

POSTSCRIPT

Apart from the summer season of rest from writing this blog you may have noticed that for some time I have not posted it on a Friday afternoon as was my original intent.     https://edmundadamus.wordpress.com/2015/04/17/friday-17th-april-2015-a-reminder/

This partly due to change of circumstances which for the most part makes it impossible for me to draft and publish anything by a Friday and also because of the shift in emphasis of my work from marriage & family to education in general. So for some time I have been wondering about changing the name from “Friday FAST” to something else. Not sure yet as it may be published over weekends and not necessarily every week.

In any case thanks to all those who have given me feedback since 2014 on this blog and expressed appreciation and if you have any thoughts on where it should go next or even if blogging is not constructive anymore in the age of Twitter/Instagram etc then let me know your thoughts.

God bless

 

 

Monstrance of the Soul

Yesterday I was privileged to visit a delightful primary school in Portsmouth diocese where during my visit the local deacon came to do the monthly afternoon of Eucharistic Adoration for the Key Stage 2 pupils and staff.
This was a simple but deeply prayerful arrangement whereby the Blessed Sacrament was respectfully exposed in a fine monstrance in the school hall with candles and flowers and class by class were quietly brought in to genuflect and sit near to Jesus in the Sacrament for a period of 10-15 minutes of totally silent adoration and prayer.
I have to say that for a Friday afternoon when children are normally [understandably] getting a bit restless looking forward to the end of the school day and the fun and relaxation of the weekend; these youngsters were impeccable in their sense of reveerence, awe and respect in the Real Presence of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.
The teachers [not all Catholic] had obviously prepared them well and they were accustomed to being prayerful and calm in a meditative mood and spirit.
Two insights from Scripture struck me, as I prayed with the children and watched them keeping watch with the Lord.
1. The words of Jesus to “come away and rest a while” which these children were doing amidst the busyness of the school day.
2. And the exhortation of St. Paul to “put on the mind of Christ”
As I sat there watching them pray and be calm it occurred to me that children don’t need to latest ‘fad’ of mindfulness techniques to bring fruits of inner calm and serenity to their sometimes fractious lives but time spent with Jesus, the Prince of Peace who alone can give the peace the world cannot give.
The children were open and friendly, genuinely interested in me as a visitor and happy in their own skin as it were because they were being educated and cared for in an atmosphere of extraordinary warmth and love. The head teacher was like a mother to all the children [all 480 of them!] and seemed to know the name of every single one. It was Catholic education at its best; natural, holistic and familial.
My final thought as I came away was the words of the late Joachim Cardinal Meisner, Archbishop of Cologne (RIP) who once said that “the face is the monstrance of the soul.” As I looked on the innocent faces of these children gazing on the absolute purity of the Sacred Host in the Blessed Sacrament through the monstrance, it was a moment of profound grace to have one’s faith in the beauty and dignity of the ‘sacred altar’ of the innocent soul of a child restored and the obligation that places upon us as parents, teachers and adult influencers in the lives of the young to do ALL we can to uphold and preserve that sacred reality, for one day we WILL be judged on how we have preserved that ‘altar’ not just for our own children but all children and young people who come within the sphere of our influence.

I will be away to ‘rest a while’ myself for the next few weeks so no blogging or any social media for me for a bit so as to waste time with the Lord amidst my loved ones. May you all enjoy the grace and blessing of a time of recreation and some restorative silence, so needed in oour world of today.
Peace be with you!

As a church we are very good a building hard, physical institutional infrastructure. As faithful communities have for generations built parish churches, presbyteries and parish halls etc sometimes with the sweat and toil of individual parishioners.

We established many schools and colleges, building them to high standards and rightly so. We built hospitals and hospices, age care facilities, seminaries, refuges.

We do this because we know they are important to our mission. We are very good at physical institutional infra-structure, but for decades we have neglected the core of our non- physical institutional infrastructure;Matrimony. Marriage is the vocation most adult Catholics spend their adult lives,trying to faithfully live.We make visible to the  world, the invisible reality of the Fathers unconditional love ingrounded incarnate ways. Our sacrament is more beautiful than anything man can build And yet if marriage was a physical institution,we would see it as a neglected, uncared for broken, crumbling  building. A building that has been taken for granted. Its beauty and awe no longer like St Peters Basilica in Rome, is now a dilapidated, crumbling edifice.

This building is still defended by a  few but it is largely dumbed down and undermined by a world increasingly questioning its purpose and relevance. We who understand both thesacramental importance of marriage, and its social public good, defend its presence

and speak to its purpose, but few see it in its true glory because we have left it in such disrepair.

And now, to carry the analogy a bit further, the local council has turned up and told us our precious building is no longer safe and violates regulations and stand ready to tear it down. They tell us that not only must it go in its current form but that new regulations will not let us rebuild it once torn down. And so we are faced with the harsh reality years of neglect, despite the best efforts of Pope Saint John Paul II and his monumental catechesis.

We either rapidly

reinvest in this infrastructure or lose it for generations. And like any physical asset school, church , or a seminary , every few decades we have to reinvest and rebuild.We have to do so not from our annual maintenance budget butfrom our capital. Not batting an eye lid at this for our hard infrastructure, indeed we get quite excited about it. One diocese I know spent over £800,000 on refurbishing its seminary chapel but gave nothing in comparison to marriage and family life ministry or theology of the body development in schools.
Against the ever increasing cultural Marxist onslaught of same sex “marriage” and gender ideology we must fight for authentic matrimony like we have never fought before….otherwise…what is the point of the new evangelisation at all and where is to be found amoris Laetitia –the joy of love?

Playing the Long Game Day by Day

As a church we are very good a building hard, physical institutional infrastructure. As faithful communities have for generations built parish churches, presbyteries and parish halls etc sometimes with the sweat and toil of  individual parishioners.

We established schools building them to high standards and rightly so. We build hospitals and hospices, age care facilities, seminaries,  refuges.  We do this because we know they are important to our mission.

We are very good at physical institutional infrastructure, but for decades we have neglected the core of our non‐physical institutional infrastructure, Matrimony.
Marriage is the vocation most adult Catholics spend their adult lives trying to faithfully live out.

We make visible to the  world, the invisible reality of the Fathers unconditional love in a grounded, incarnate way.  Our  sacrament is more beautiful than anything man can build
And yet if marriage was a physical  institution  we  would  see  it  as  a neglected, uncared  for,broken,crumbling  building. A building that has been taken for granted. Its beauty and awe, no longer like St Peters Basilica in Rome , is  now  a  dilapidated  crumbling  edifice.  This  building  is  still  talked  about  by  a  few  in  whispers  of  its  once   magnificence but it is largely dumbed down and undermined by a world increasingly questioning its purpose and relevance.   We who understand  both  the sacramental importance of marriage, and its social public good,  defend its presence and speak to its purpose, but few see it in its true glory because we have left it in such disrepair, this beauty is no longer visible to most that they are willing to lay down their lives for it in a permanent commitment.
And now, to carry the analogy a bit further, the local council has turned up and told us our  precious building is no longer safe and violates regulations and stand ready to tear it  down. They tell us that not only must it go in its current form but that new regulations will not let us rebuild it once torn down.
And so we are faced with the harsh reality years of neglect, despite the best efforts of Pope Saint John Paul II and his monumental catechesis. We either rapidly reinvest in this infrastructure or lose it for generations.  And like any physical asset, a school a  church, or a seminary, every few decades we have to reinvest and rebuild.  We have to do so not  from our annual maintenance budget but from our capital budget.  We do not bat an eye lid at this  for our hard infrastructure, in fact  we  get  quite  excited  about  it. One diocese I know spent over £800,000 on refurbishing its seminary chapel but gave nothing in comparison to marriage and family life ministry or theology of the body development in schools.
Against the ever increasing cultural Marxist onslaught of same sex “marriage” and gender ideology we must fight for authentic matrimony like we have never fought before….otherwise…what is the point of the new evangelisation at all!?

The First & Last Resort

There’s never an excuse nor reason not to pray and I always think the string of feasts from Pentecost through to the Blessed Trinity, Corpus Christi and the Sacred Heart of Jesus are more than enough impetus to get down on one’s knees and adore, love, and hope in the Loving God.

Then there have been the horrendous events over recent weeks with barbarous terrorism at home and abroad and compounded with unspeakable and tragic loss of life like the fire of Grenfell Tower London. May their souls truly rest in peace.  Aside from how brutal the world can feel on a daily basis, the news does tempt one to feelings of despondency.

Yet again it’s another reason to pray even harder for when things seem to be so bad, so depressing [and headlines of affairs in the Church don’t help] then where else is there to go?

As President Abraham Lincoln once said:

“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.”

It doesn’t get more emphatic than that when we ponder on the bleak nature of recent events.

And so tomorrow, the solemnity of Corpus Christi – the Body and Blood of the Lord [at least in Britain!] I am looking forward to falling to my knees outside our parish church as the recent First Communicants [among whom will be my son, Paul] lead the Blessed Sacrament procession strewing petals from their gardens in the way; for it is to such as these that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs and it’s our privilege as their parents and adults to kneel before our Heavenly King to humble ourselves in the presence of children to say – “we do not have all the answers. We do not always understand why there is so much evil and hatred and wilful incompetence in the world and the Church, but we surrender ourselves to the Father in thanksgiving for His Son through His Spirit.”

When so many abandoned Christ after he declared “unless you eat of my flesh and drink of my blood, you cannot have life within you” it was St. Peter [the first pope] who throughout history [more than any other pope ever….ever!] spoke on our behalf saying: “Lord to whom shall we go?”

There is nowhere else we can realistically go, except to Him, to crawl [interiorly] on our knees before Him in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar saying; “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner.”

Veni Sancte Spiritus!

I can think of no better way to “blog” about this weekend’s wonderful solemnity of Pentecost than inviting my readers to join with me in reciting the Litany of the Holy Spirit …May the Lord and Giver of Life pour afresh His grace in our souls.

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

Father all-powerful, have mercy on us. Jesus, Eternal Son of the Father, Redeemer of the world, save us. Spirit of the Father and the Son, boundless life of both, sanctify us. Holy Trinity, hear us.

Holy Spirit, Who proceedest from the Father and the Son, enter our hearts. Holy Spirit, Who art equal to the Father and the Son, enter our hearts.

Promise of God the Father, have mercy on us.
Ray of heavenly light, have mercy on us.
Author of all good, [etc.]
Source of heavenly water Consuming fire
Ardent charity
Spiritual unction
Spirit of love and truth
Spirit of wisdom and understanding
Spirit of counsel and fortitude
Spirit of knowledge and piety
Spirit of the fear of the Lord
Spirit of grace and prayer
Spirit of peace and meekness
Spirit of modesty and innocence
Holy Spirit, the Comforter
Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier
Holy Spirit, Who governest the Church
Gift of God, the Most High
Spirit Who fillest the universe
Spirit of the adoption of the children of God

Holy Spirit, inspire us with horror of sin.
Holy Spirit, come and renew the face of the earth.
Holy Spirit, shed Thy light in our souls.
Holy Spirit, engrave Thy law in our hearts.
Holy Spirit, inflame us with the flame of Thy love.
Holy Spirit, open to us the treasures of Thy graces.
Holy Spirit, teach us to pray well.
Holy Spirit, enlighten us with Thy heavenly inspirations.
Holy Spirit, lead us in the way of salvation.
Holy Spirit, grant us the only necessary knowledge.
Holy Spirit, inspire in us the practice of good.
Holy Spirit, grant us the merits of all virtues.
Holy Spirit, make us persevere in justice.
Holy Spirit, be Thou our everlasting reward.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Send us Thy Holy Spirit.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
pour down into our souls the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
grant us the Spirit of wisdom and piety.

V. Come, Holy Spirit! Fill the hearts of Thy faithful,
R. And enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.

Let us pray. Grant, O merciful Father, that Thy Divine Spirit may enlighten, inflame and purify us, that He may penetrate us with His heavenly dew and make us fruitful in good works, through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who with Thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, liveth and reigneth, one God, forever and ever.

R. Amen.

Sorrow like only a woman can know

Amidst all the endless commentary in the aftermath of the atrocity that happened in my home town of Manchester, England last Monday night and [sadly] and the appalling murder of the Coptic Christians on Friday on pilgrimage in Egypt; I could not help but wonder on [100 years after the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima and her universal message of conversion and penance to save the world] how her Immaculate Heart must be in pain and sorrow over the events of the last week. It put me in mind of that mournful but beautiful song of Mary Black and Eleanor McEvoy about the unique pain and sadness “only a woman’s heart can know” [see the clip above and words below for the lyrics]

Mary Our Mother [in these pain-filled days of barbaric fundamentalist Islamic led murder] knows pain of such intensity over the loss of life -more than any of the mothers, wives, grandmothers and friends connected with the victims- that in the end it will be her most perfected of human female hearts that will be a channel of inestimable, immeasurable grace for the souls of the dead and the grief of the living that is beyond our comprehension. So in these last remaining hours of May, the month dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God, I commend the victims and their families to her powerful intercession and as Ramadan begins when so many of the peaceful majority of Muslims seek to purify their hearts through extended fasting and prayer; may it be She, of Fatima [so cherished and honoured in the Quran] who brings the message of the Prince of Peace to the whole of humanity,  to somehow penetrate the hearts and minds of those, who even now are plotting with evil intent to commit further massacre and bloodshed.

http://hiddengem.catholicfaith.co.uk/pictures.html

My heart is low, my heart is so low
As only a woman’s heart can be
As only a woman’s, as only a woman’s
As only a woman’s heart can know
The tears that drip from my bewildered eyes
Taste of bittersweet romance
You’re still in my hopes, you’re still on my mind
And even though I manage on my own
My heart is low, my heart is so low
As only a woman’s heart can be
As only a woman’s, as only a woman’s
As only a woman’s heart can know
When restless eyes reveal my troubled soul
And memories flood my weary heart
I mourn for my dreams, I mourn for my wasted love
And while I know that I’ll survive all alone
My heart is low, my heart is so low
As only a woman’s heart can be
As only a woman’s, as only a woman’s
As only a woman’s heart can know
My heart is low, yes, my heart is so low
As only a woman’s heart can be
As only a woman’s, as only a woman’s
As only a woman’s heart can know
My heart is low, my heart is so low
As only a woman’s heart can be
As only a woman’s, as only a woman’s
As only a woman’s heart can know

Explain yourself….

Children have the remarkably annoying habit of interrogating us don’t they? They’re obsessed with the fundamental nature of things, why the world is the way it is, and how to logically connect it all together. The endless “why”? questions. It can be maddening at times. The way they can question the punishments we mete out, the routes we take when driving, and the food we eat; why the TV cannot be on, what’s wrong with staying up and not going to bed, and so on and so forth, you get the picture. I empathize with parents who resort to the tried-and-true “Because I said so” reply; I really do but it’s rarely an explanation that will satisfy and in the end it just becomes a sort of excuse for not putting greater effort in to helping them see the bigger picture or going through that struggle with them (like God’s patient wrestling with Jacob in Genesis 32: 22-32) so that they naturally arrive at the same place as you do, even if we or they might have to swallow some humble pie at the end of it.

Not only should I (try to) answer my children’s questions to help their cognitive development, I should even help them formulate better and harder questions! It isn’t like I don’t have questions of my own that I pester God with: How was the world created? How can we be happy? Why is there suffering? Why is so much evil in the Church permitted? These are tough questions, but I’m better off for having asked them and brought them to my prayers and worship and I do believe that God respects it when we ask such questions and even at times show Him our anger and frustration when life seems hard going. Even someone like the biblical figure Job, who gets an answer along the lines of, “You’ll understand when you grow up,” is listened to and engaged by God. God’s answer is never “because I said so.”

And that’s the challenge the authority in the Church faces now. Like a parent who knows they cannot brush off the inquisitive mind or challenging behaviour of a child by simply saying “because I say so,” neither can the Church simply say “because this is what we believe” or “as the Code of Canon Law says” etc. Not that these things, like tradition and discipline are not true, they obviously are.  But it’s a question of how we impart that truth so that, in time, the beauty and wisdom of Catholic truth wells up from within a person and is confirmed by the voice of God in other things, rather than just what might feel like a cold set of rules imposed from without. As I said last July ‘effective communication and dialogue’ can only come about if, as St John Paul II said, we don’t invent a new programme but simply declare the Person of Jesus Christ by whom and only in whom we can be saved. That doesn’t mean amending, adjusting, reformulating the image and message of Jesus to our own whims and caprices, but praying for, working at and humbling ourselves repeatedly towards a deep, deep serious conversion to Him. And the key to supercharge our conversion to Jesus is, chastity, cultivating a purity of mind, heart, and body that will bring all the other virtues and values to fuller expression and new life in our souls and with all whom we interact. As Pope Francis states in Amoris Laetitia:

“Chastity proves invaluable for the genuine growth of love between persons.” (Para. 206). That’s putting it mildly, for when we look at the impact and power of this virtue in the lives of the Saints, what the pope is saying, or rather how he says it, can come across as a bit of an understatement, but its essential truth is there. And if it’s true for individuals, it’s true for families. Why else would St. John Paul II have declared in Familiaris Consortio (the lens through which we must read Amoris Laetitia) that families can and must “release formidable energies.”  It is a moral and spiritual power that is not possible without chastity.