What is True Greatness?

Attitudes have changed since the time of Christ to children.  In first century Palestine society a child would symbolise not so much innocence, as a lack of social status and legal rights. In other words, a child was seen as a non person, totally dependant on others for nurture and protection. You were not expected to gain anything socially or materially from showing kindness to a child. So when Jesus took the child and embraced him he was correcting and instructing his disciples who were arguing about who was the greatest. Jesus, by putting the child in the middle of these men, was saying that this child, who is a social nonentity, is worthy of respect and care. Jesus is clearly saying that even the most apparently insignificant people are important because they too carry the name of Jesus and belong to him.

Jesus is challenging us today by showing us what true greatness is. He is calling us to humble service of others. We need to find Him and the Father in the most insignificant people. What the world sees as the important and significant people we need to listen to and take note of are not necessarily worthy of our attention and time.

This is not for me an easy lesson to hear. Jesus has a message that says;”triumph comes through suffering and humility”  Jesus talks about his coming passion and death but the disciples are not listening.  It is not what they want to hear.  This was the powerful message given to us by the life and work of Saint Teresa of Calcutta.  She said: “The dying, the cripple, the mental, the unwanted, the unloved – they are Jesus in disguise.” She also said: “Only in heaven will we see how much we owe to the poor for helping us to love God better because of them.”  Forget about being famous for fifteen minutes. Forgot about try to win the admiration and adulation of others. This is what Mother Teresa suggests should be our way of life. “When you know how much God is in love with you then you can only live your life radiating that love.”

12 December session on Filioque

Hope to see on the 12 December session and the subject will be on Filioque, More details will be posted here soon, including the main article to discuss.

 

I hope to invite some of our Orthodox brothers, to take part in the discussion.  This is an open invitation to all other denominations and those interested to discuss theological issues.

 

Knowing more about the Catholic Church

As the memories of our holidays begin to fade, (if we ever went on holiday) term has started at school, College and University for children and young people. September is, for us at St Thomas of Canterbury parish, an opportunity to remind you of the opportunity for those who have never been baptised, those who have been baptised in another denomination and those baptised Catholic but have never been prepared for the Sacraments of Eucharist (First Communion) and Confirmation, to explore the possibility of becoming fully initiated as a Catholic Christian. This journey is in stages. There is no obligation to continue if you feel it is not for you. You can leave at any time.

The first part of the journey is known as the Inquiry Period where you have the opportunity to ask questions, to hear the Gospel, perhaps for the first time. It is also seen as a time for welcome and hospitality. As it says in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults: “Faithfully and constantly the living God is proclaimed and Jesus Christ whom he has sent for the salvation of all.” So during this period the unbaptised hear the gospel for the first time, which challenges them and consoles them. During this period candidates (those who have already been baptised) will become aware of God’s activity and God’s love in their lives. The first period tries to provide initial spiritual discussion, introduction to the parish family and the formation of a basic foundational decision to follow Christ.

For those unbaptised who have attended this first stage they then enter what we know as the Catechumenate. The Rite describes this as when “the beginnings of the spiritual life and the fundamentals of Christian teachings have taken root in them” Those who are already baptised (candidates) join the those who have yet to be baptised and express their intention for communion.

Our journey continues, as catechumens and candidates, through Lent to Easter. If those who are part of the journey of faith group feel ready, the catechumens will be baptised at the Easter Vigil and the candidates will be received into full communion in the Catholic Church and those who were baptised Catholic will be confirmed and receive Communion for the first time.

This is not the end of their journey and the group continue to meet till Pentecost for a period of post baptismal catechesis. This is an ideal time when catechumens and candidates reflect on the sacrament that they have experienced.

If you would like to know more about being a Catholic please fill out a preliminary form available at the back of the Church. A group of us meet together onTuesday evenings beginning Tuesday 25th September at 7:30pm.

Come and join us on this “Journey in Faith.” A journey of deeper conversion when we come to experience God’s overwhelming love for us.

Living the Gospel

I am writing this while with a HCPT Pilgrimage Summer group in Lourdes. I have missed all the news coverage of Pope’s visit to Ireland but from what I have seen on the internet, the secular press have concentrated on the issue of child abuse both in Ireland and the recent disturbing revelations in the USA. This is understandable as the reason for the Popes presence in Ireland was not news worthy enough. Pictures of placards held by protesters makes good copy.  No one is denying the seriousness of these dreadful crimes against children and young people. We will continue have to face this serious issue in our church. We need to keep our focus on the victims of abuse. Yet I see this issue is used as a stick to beat us. 
As I walked  in the Blessed sacrament procession on Sunday along with thousands of other pilgrims I felt very much part of a church that was focusing on healing and caring for the sick and vulnerable. The message of our Lady given to Bernadette was penance. She was asking us to have a change of heart. Mary was asking us to turn back to the love and healing of the Father. The call she gave was to care for the most fragile and the vulnerable. It wasn’t the powerful or important people that Mary asked to share her message but rather a fourteen year old girl who could neither read or write and who lived in one room with her three other siblings and her mother and father.
The thousands that turned out to hear and greet Pope Francis at the shrine in  Knock and in Phoenix Park clearly demonstrated the desire to focus on married and family love. Yes, Ireland is not the same Catholic country that Saint John Paul II visited 40 years ago. Just because the country is less Catholic today that doesn’t nullify the validity of the message of Jesus, the power of the Gospel and the mission of the Church. It means that we can’t be complacent about how we share the joy of the Gospel. There is much in our way of life today that mitigates against receiving Jesus as the way the truth and life.   Conviction will come from seeing this gospel lived in the lives of ordinary people. The Gospel cannot not be mere words of talk it needs to be alive and active in the lives of us all. This is what Jesus is saying to us when he quotes from the prophet Isaiah: 
This people honours me only with lip-service,
while their hearts are far from me.
The worship they offer me is worthless,
the doctrines they teach are only human regulations.
I pray that the Spirit within us will transform us for that be people of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.