Confirmation Gifts

what is hell likeConfirmation is a marvellous Sacrament when a, ‘Christian soldier enters a higher realm of spiritual duty’ (Marino Restrepo)

During Confirmation the ‘Spirit of the Lord’ rests on the person being confirmed in the Lord’s grace and brings forth the gifts and fruits of the baptised in a deeper way.

In fact, the Sacrament carries on in a certain way, ‘the grace of Pentecost in the Church’. We often think it would have been marvellous to be there in the upper room on the day the Church was born but instead we receive the same grace from the same Lord during our Confirmation.

During the Confirmation service we are ‘anointed’ with specially blessed chrism oil, Christian means ‘anointed’ this is why Easter Churhes call Confirmation, Christmation instead.

The Sacrament of Confirmation ‘seals’ the Baptism we may have received years before as babies and completes us to be fully formed and functioning Christians in the world. Confirmation strengthens the graces we received at Baptism and the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit in us.

Why St Patrick’s Day? Who was St Patrick?

If you’re interested in St Patrick’s then keep reading!

If you’re interested in St Patrick and his Feast day on 17th March then keep reading! Specifically, I’ll be covering the day itself, and St Patrick’s life in general.

March 17th is a day of great pride for the Irish people and their many descendants across the globe. It’s also a day of religious observance in Ireland (Catholics are obliged to attend Church as part of the celebrations) and of entertainment and celebration and of course good old Irish drinking.

Parades held in St Patrick’s honor with floats arrayed with all things Irish have become famous, not least the New York parade and also the Birmingham parade (UK).

March 17th showcases for the world the Irish way of life their culture and not least their great faith.

Few can ignore the show of national pride for their country and patron saint and indeed many who aren’t of Irish extraction don their green hats and pin clumps of shamrock to their jackets to join in the spirit of the day.

When God said “Go forth and multiply” the Irish took this literally and if the Irish was taken out of many nation’s blood, the countries would be anaemic an American told me once.

Not only have the Irish spread throughout the globe but the nation of ‘saints and sinners’ has also spread their good cheer, love of the ‘craic’ and their faith in God too.

The Irish are a gifted and intelligent people of naturally modest dispositions. The tiny cradle of firm, indomitable missionary beliefs from the emerald isle has reached places that not even armies could reach such as places in Africa in the 20’s and Papua New Guinea in the 50’s.
St Patrick I am sure, gazes with a twinkle of joy in his eyes on his adopted country on his feast day, March 17th, which has become by default, the country’s feast day. I am sure he casts over to St Bridget, the other patron saint of Ireland, a wee gaze of apology as she is mostly forgotten outside of Ireland though her straw crosses grace many Irish doorways with a blessing.

St Patrick came back to the Irish people after being ordained as a Bishop. He had first been dragged over to Ireland from England or Scotland by raiders and kept as a slave. As a teen he managed to escape and returned as a Bishop to evangelise the people he had grown to love during his captivity.

St Patrick wanted to lead the Irish people who were of a genetically pre disposed mystical tradition already away from suprstition and into the Way, the Truth and the Life who is Jesus.

St Patrick’s zeal in preaching the truth of God’s Kingdom soon caught on and the faith spread far and wide throughout the kingdom.Patrick’s use of the shamrock as a teaching aid is now legendary. The three leaf plant has three parts but is one leaf just as God is one and indivisible but one God in three persons at the same time. The shamrock illustrated the principle of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Love of money hinders faith

This mystery of the Trinity captivated St Patrick and was the central tenet in leading the Irish away from their paganism, which many say they are being led back into at the moment through the Celtic tiger.

By using the three leafed shamrock St Patrick kept his ‘new’ religion down to earth for the land loving people and spoke to them on their level as any good missionary would do.

The effects of St Patrick’s preaching and zeal for the Word of God in the Gospel are still felt throughout the globe today. There is barely a country in the world which doesn’t have schools, universities and confraternities dedicated to his name. These were often built by the heroic and poor Irish immigrants and missionaries of yester year.

Their contribuition to social infrastructure and growth is often forgotten in the attacks on the Catholic Church in recent years.

Tara has spread her faith, her song and her dance to the four corners of the globe. The phenomenonal success of Riverdance which took the world by storm in 1995 through the Eurovision Song Contest and onwards shows how beautiful Irish culture steeped in it’s elemental spirituality can be.
As for St Patrick (circa 387-493) himself there is little hard substantiated evidence of his life. As mentioned above, whilst a Roman citizen living in Great Britain, he was captured by raiders and taken as a slave to Ireland whereon he returned there again when free to lead the Irish to Christ.
Many places in Scotland and England claim St Patrick’s birthplace as their heritage and he is reportedly buried at Downpatrick in the North of the country.
Out of all the patron saints, St Patrick has done the ‘best’ missionary work for his country’s fame and fortunes and as far as Church attendance on a Feast day is concerned. He  draws the crowds in as they say!
May he watch over and guard the Irish people throughout the world and protect them from economic hardship and strengthen their Christian faith and bring peace into every heart. St Patrick pray for Ireland. Amen.

Pope Benedict The Sixteenth-Letter To Catholics On Sex Abuse Scandals

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Sexual Abuse In The Church

In March this year, on the Feast of St Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, Pope Benedict the Sixteenth published a Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland in which he apologises and sympathises with his flock about the sex abuse scandals that have rocked the Church both in Ireland and globally.

Pope Benedict’s pastoral letter is one full of love for the victims whose first priority it is to find healing and peace and for the Church as a whole. This letter often ignored brings tears to the eyes (in a good way) when read all the way through. It’s a pastoral letter rich in humility and compassion.

If only the enemies of the Pope could stop in their rantings and read this letter they would be better informed in their ‘attacks’ and calls for ‘justice’.

I have reproduced the majority of the text here on this blog

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Pope Benedict The Sixteenth

 

It’s well worth taking the time to read this pastoral letter whether you are Irish or not. It touches the heart and helps one understand more about what happened and what is happening now.

So, here’s the link again to, Pope Benedict the sixteenth and his reply to the sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church.

PS The full text can be found here on the Vatican’s website.

Is the world overpopulated?

There’s a lot of confusion about over population and the world’s resources running out in recent years.

I came across www.overpopulationisamyth.com which is well worth a look.

There are 6.5 billion people in the world today and if we put them all into one place and gave them a four bedroomed house EACH guess what? We’d only fill up the State of Alaska which is pretty empty anyway?

Where’s the lack of room and resources there? In fact the whole world could fit into just one US State!

 

 
 

Ash Wednesday Meaning and the Start of Lent

Jesus in the garden

Jesus in agony over our sins

If you wish to learn more about the meaning of Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent then just read this article all the way through to the end.

Lent  is the forty day season in the Church’s calendar which serves to prepare Christians (through prayer, fasting and almsgiving) for the ‘feast of all feasts’ the most important octave in the Christian year, Easter.Ash Wednesday is the first day of the season of Lent (the day after the pancake party on Shrove Tuesday (-meaning to ‘shrive’-have a penance for commiting a sin)  where people feast the night before Lent).Each year the date for Ash Wednesday changes but it’s always a Wednesday! The date changes because Easters changes each year.

On Ash Wednesday, Christians from all over the world prepare to contemplate and imitate the ‘suffering servant’ of Isaiah, Christ in ways ways suited to their health and age.

We remember the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert where he was tempted three times by the devil and overcame him.

The 40 days in the desert were the preparation period for Jesus’ public ministry and miracles and after this his next stop was the Wedding Feast of Cana and the abundance of wine!

At Cana, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, heralded in His Messianic Mission with her request to help the soon to be embarrased wedding couple!
Mary too, ushers in many miracles in our lives if we ask her to intercede with her Son who can refuse her nothing, since she refused him nothing whilst on earth!

In this important liturgical season of Lent, Christians try to fast from food, cigarettes or TV and other things they enjoy uniting these offerings with the sacrifices and sufferings Jesus underwent for us, not least in His Passion.

Regarding sacrifices, they need to ‘cost’ a little bit. For example, I hate liver, so if I fasted off liver it would be no sacrifice. Our offerings also need to be carried out with love for the Lord in our hearts and each other-it’s no good if we’re fasting and feel self righteous, puffed up and better than others in the process-No, becoming fasting police is not for true Christians. Each one must decide according to his conscience. 

Why Sacrifice?

There are many reasons for sacrifice but those made for love of him who loved us and ‘gave himself up for us’ on the Cross strengthen our love for Jesus and they purify us to receive more of the light of Christ in our hearts so we can bring forth the Kingdom on earth.

Love grows in the fires of sacrifice and self denial for the good of others as any good parent will know.

As well as giving up things, Christians also aim to ‘give’ in the form of increased almsgiving or giving up more of their time to help others or to pray more.

The soul therefore, by denying the body (the fleshly life in us) becomes spritually stronger and nourished.

As we live in such a materialistic culture our souls which need food just as our flesh does are often starving so Lent gives our souls a nourishing transfusion of spiritual food to keep them strong in Christ!

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Christ gave everything up for us! We can surely give up some things for him?

Also, like Jesus in the desert, Christians conquer temptations such as selfishness, pride and unloving behaviour with God’s grace and during Lent they make more of an effort to do this.

These temptations come to us from many avenues and in many ways. Some we invite in through impure material and others come to us unawares and catch us off guard. Sometimes friends with ‘bad’ connections are the source of troubles for us in the spiritual realm.

Therefore“prayer, fasting and almsgiving” sum up the keys we need for good Lenten practice.

Why Ash Wednesday?

Christians attend Church services on Ash Wednesday to mark the beginning of Lent and at the service, the priest or pastor marks the believer’s forehead with a cross of ashes (the ashes come from burned blessed palms used the year before on Palm Sunday.

The Cross on our foreheads in the sign of the New Covenant of God with man when Jesus was crucified for us and it serves to remind us of sacrifice and that we are dust but also have an immortal soul.

 

Pope Benedict The Sixteenth-visits Birmingham-The Heart of England

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The Beautiful Altar For The Mass

As one of the privileged 50 000 or more who went to Cofton Park in Birmingham, UK yesterday for a great day for British Catholics and a great day for the Church I could experience first hand the ‘aura’ of peace around Pope Benedict the Sixteenth. At the Mass a Londoner was declared Blessed and we could see the joy of God’s people gathered together. It was a great day all in all and worth every minute of the 4 am start!

Pope Benedict the Sixteenth was ‘on form’ as usual and British Catholics felt sad that he had to go home we could easily have kept him. Pope Benedict the Sixteenth endeared himself to all but the hardest of hearts.

It was quite a rainy September start on the morning of 19th September as many Parishes massed together at chosen checkpoints from which an army of West Midland travel Double Decker buses drove through the dark and silent streets of Birmingham to the PArk.

The mood was one of quiet excitement as 600 people plus turned up at at our local Parish Church awaiting their buses.

The rain was there to greet us at the Park and row after row of coaches more than I had ever seen in one car park had already emptied themselves of Christ’s body on earth who were eagerly going through the security checks. As we started the long walk to the park we were more nervous than excited about where we were to sit and would we get a chance to see the Pope!

The highlight for me of Pope John Paul 1982 visit had been his drive past in the British Leyland made Popemobile sadly JOhn Paul and British Leyland are no more and it was a Mercedes Popemobile the Pope used I was a little sad he wasn’t using a Jaguar to get around in too.

Finally we settled for a mile away from the altar (above) which everyone remarked was the best altar so far of the visit (save the beautiful Westminster Cathedral altar).  It was suddenly 9am and we were all cheered up from the wet and cold by Boyce and Stanley in a powerful praise and worship session.

Everyone was glad that after so much work and effort things were running like clockwork. A surge of joy ran through the crowd as the papal helicopter circled above us and we waved our flags at him blessing us from above you could almost feel his pride.

People started saying that as the Pope had arrived the rain would stop and the sun would come out and so it did about five minutes later. We all dried off.

Too far up a hill to be near the Popemobile we waved on and the procession of many, many priests coming down the hill was a site to see. One girl rushed up to us saying the Pope had just kissed her friends little sister who was 3 weeks old!

She was thrilled! That had made her day as my sight of the Pope in 1982 after staying out all night had done for a young girl who was me!

The Beatification Mass began and it seemed over in a flash there was a great hush on the crowd and the residents said nearby the silence was so great you would have thought no one was in the Park interspersed with shouts and songs and alleluias!

Cardinal Newman was a priest for the Birmingham people for 30 years and the Birmingham people did him proud. Brummies love the beauty of the Oratory and the Latin singing.

There was a great presence of the Sacred as people sat and knelt and prayed and gave thanks. It was an honour to be part of it indeed.

Cofton Park seemed like a natural ampitheatre for the Mass as if it was set like that from the beginning, NEwman who used to go to the Park to pray and meditate must have been smiling.

In his sermon the Pope mentioned Coventry and the crowd greeted all his words luckily we were near a big screen so we could see it in the distance and all close up. It was great to see the Oratory father of such hard work Fr Gregory Winterton greeting the Pope. He is amazing for his age and has led a life of faithful service in Newman’s footsteps, he too like Newman is a ‘posh’ Englishman but there are no airs and graces on them.

As I watched the papal plane fly up from the Airport and out of sight later on in the day I felt sad and wistful that a relative you love very much has gone and I decided I would go to Rome as soon as I was able.

Thankyou Pope Benedict the Sixteenth for coming to England and Scotland and making us proud of our faith and our heritage which is often looked down on, ignored or persecuted here.

You made us doubly proud with your wisdom and humility and energy too!

Wishing everyone all the best

A happy pilgrim

Oh and come back soon!

Pope Benedict The Sixteenth-Papal Visit To UK

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The Pope Comes To The UK On First State Papal Visit

Pope Benedict the Sixteenth is visiting the UK between 16 and 19 September in what will be the first papal visit to the UK since that of John Paul II in 1982 and the first State visit since the Reformation and the split with Rome!

Papal Visit UK 2010

This is an historic occasion for the United Kingdom ad for Scotland which will host the first State Mass of a Pope in centuries.

The late, great Pope John Paul II came on a pastoral visit to the UK whereas Pope Benedict is coming at the express invitation of the British Government and the Queen and this is why the Government is incurring part of the State visit expenses and the Catholic Church is contributing around £10 million.

However, estimates from marketing bureaus predict that the extra advertising, tourist visiting and media coverage for the UK cities involved will bring in an extra £13 million to Glasgow and Edinburgh alone!

Pope Benedict is to be greeted personally by the Duke of Edinburgh at Edinburgh airport on Thursday 16th September as a special sign of respect for the Pope and the Pope will then meet the Queen at Scotland’s  Holyrood Palace.

This visit will delight millions of Catholics who comprise 11% of the UK’s population and, as such, are the largest minority group in the UK. Catholics are currently suffering from a ‘silent’ persecution of their Church and beliefs and face attacks on their faith, school system and freedom of speech in an often silent and hidden manner let alone the outright criticisms that are levelled at the Pope and Church which no celebrity or otherwise would dare to invoke against any other religion.


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