Jesus encourages us through life’s challenges.

I will not judge those who hear me but don’t obey me, for I have come to save the world and not to judge it.’ John 12:47

Pursuing Jesus is fraught with difficulties. Most obviously, my natural inclination is to please myself rather than concern myself with another’s wants and needs. Most posts on social media are various forms of self promotion and justification, mine included!

The degree to which I’ve been conformed to the context within which I live is reflected in the constant search to monetise whatever I seek to turn my hand to. It’s as though, whatever our political perspective, value can never be completely separated from financial concern.

Indeed, the underlying fear across society is a financial one; be it the airline industry demanding a government bailout, to the self trader hoping June will yield some income from the tax office. The fear when finance falls away is always palpable.

Fear equally drives us towards finding scapegoats. Someone or something to blame for my problems. Fear produces behaviour which I may well regret even as I act it out. Why is it that the Chinese amongst us are targeted as if they’re responsible for Covid-19?

Good news for those of us who follow Jesus. The man himself acknowledges that even as we fail both to listen and act upon his teaching, he refuses to judge us. Remarkable, when so much of what I’ve been taught is the need to walk a narrow line for fear of God’s judgment. 

Jesus is all about affirming and encouraging us through life’s challenges, not judging us. God’s invitation is that I mirror this. I stop looking to criticise others, both within and beyond church, and seek to accept, encourage and support humanity in our common desire to get through life.

If we can set aside making judgments, or nursing a rising tide of bitterness born of the judgments others make of us, we might actually collaborate with Jesus’ plan to help make the world a better place. 

It’s not what’s wrong that counts; it’s what might I do to enrich life for others and therefore myself as well.

Prayer: O, my God, I choose to live as a light and to shine in this dark world, so that all can find hope and encouragement and step from their own darkness into you liberating light. Amen.

If you have a prayer request or concern then email the Oratory Prayerline.

Micha Jazz…is a master at relating texts and prayer intentions to the many challenges we face in modern day life” Right Reverend John Keenan, bishop of Paisley, Scotland.

Reflections on the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

As ever, excellent reflections from Eric. Follow this blog – brilliant.

21 Century Pilgrim

Icon: The Blessed Virgin Mary & Christ Icon: The Blessed Virgin Mary & Christ

As a convert to Catholicism, I always get excited about celebrating the different feast day’s of the Saints.  Individuals and families alike have so much to learn from their example.  During the Old Testament period, monuments were built to remind the Jews of what God had done in a particular place and time.  That monument stood so future generations would remember what God did thereby creating a deep, relational connection between creation (humanity) and the Creator.

On September 8, we celebrated the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary and what a monument she is for the Church today.  Her story, clearly articulated at the beginning of the Gospel’s (Mt. 1:18-23) – a virgin, chosen by God to carry, care for and support the life and ministry of the Christ –  the only Son of God who would be for us the Savior. The Gospel story goes on…

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Thomas Aquinas on Operating, Co-Operating, and Prevenient Grace :: Summa Theologica

Really constructive refklections here on the nature of grace and our responsibility to co-opetrate with God in all his purposes in the earth.

T h e o • p h i l o g u e

I have summarized articles three and four of question 111 in the prima secunda of Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica: ”Of the Division of Grace.”   All quotations from the Summa are taken from the English Translation, Summa Theologica, trans. the Fathers of the English Dominican Province, 5 vols., rev. ed. 1948; repr., Notre Dame, Indiana: Ave Maria Press, 1981.

Grace Is Fittingly Divided Into Operating and Co-Operating Grace

IN SUM: Operating grace refers to God’s gracious work in a sinner, i.e. God’s gracious “operating.”  Co-operating grace is the human effect of God’s operating, namely, the human will moving the person unto meritorious works.  Operating grace always comes first, for all co-operating grace is the effect of God’s operating grace.  A person is justified by operating grace, and subsequently consents with this operating grace as a result of such grace.

Grace can refer to God’s moving of the human to…

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A wonderful discovery I made on entering the Catholic Church was its Catechism. Developed post Vatican II, the intention was to gather the teaching of the Church in one place and to make that teaching accessible to all. The document was approached in an entirely catholic manner, by which I mean eclectic and indiscriminate. An editorial committee was tasked with bringing this divergent collection of global contributions together.

catechism-of-the-catholic-church-200In 1994 the ‘Catechism of the Catholic Church‘ was published as a document that, ‘must present faithfully and organically the teaching of Sacred Scripture, the living Tradition of the Church, and the authentic Magisterium, as well as the spiritual heritage of the Fathers and saints of the Church, in order to allow the Christian mystery to be known and to revive the faith of God’s people’, the words of Pope John Paul II in launching the Catechism.

Having been a follower of Jesus for over forty years, this book has become a source of great delight to me. Its content is understandable and it captures the heart of the faith I have taken as my own. I have cause to pause and contemplate so often as I read in it. In an age when we so often look to articulate Christian values, and wonder why they falter and fail so often in the face of direct challenges if not to us then to our children, the Catechism affords the foundations from which such values are birthed and earthed, and once removed can on;y wither and die no matter how inspiring they might appear at face value.

My life is one of seeking encounter with Christ and my responsibility to curate that with which I am entrusted. As I am enlarged in my humanity through my engagement with the Catechism, so I desire to curate this magnificent trove of treasure for us all.

Advent, Season of Longing.

The journey to Christmas can be confusing. The season is penitential, yet all around us it’s unrestrained hedonism with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and endless Christmas parties. Nought wrong with all this unless of course we run out of control, lose sight of the mystery that is the Incarnation and compromise the faith we so clearly proclaim every time we participate in the Mass. Joy is a wonderful gift from God, as is prayer and penitence. Let’s be 360 people and live expressing an eagerness for Christmas for the festivities we enjoy with friends and family as well as the celebration of the our redemption fleshed out in a manger in Bethlehem all those years ago.

Take time to pray, contemplate the birth narrative each day and visit confession to enrich our lives ahead of the great day itself.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner’.

Advent, Season of Longing..

via Advent, Season of Longing..

Finding Wholeness in a Fragmenting World

Excellent piece in the office of readings today by St John Chrysostom on the temptations of the devil and the five paths of repentance.

“Shall I list the paths of repentance? There are certainly many of them, many and various, and all of them lead to heaven.

The first path is the path of condemnation of sins. As Isaiah says, Tell your sins, and you will be acquitted. And the Psalmist adds: I said “I will bear witness against myself before the Lord,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin. So you, too must condemn the sins you have committed. Condemn them, and that condemnation will excuse you in front of the Lord, since whoever condemns the sins he has committed will be slower to commit them next time. Stir up your own conscience to be your accuser – so that when you come before the judgement-seat of the Lord no-one will rise up to accuse you.

This is the first path of repentance but the second is in no way inferior to it in excellence. It is to forget the harm done to us by our enemies, to master our anger, to forgive the sins of those who are slaves together with us. As much as we do this, so much will our own sins against the Lord be forgiven. So this is the second path to the expiation of our sins. As the Lord says, Yes, if you forgive others their failings, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours.

Would you like to know the third path of repentance? It is prayer: fervent prayer, sincere and focused prayer, prayer coming from the depths of the heart.

If you want to know the fourth path, I will tell you it is the giving of alms. It has great power.

And finally, if someone acts with modesty and humility, that path is no less effective as a way to deprive sin of its substance. Look at the publican, who had no good deeds to speak of. In place of good deeds he offered humility, and the huge burden of his sins fell away.

So now I have shown you the five paths of repentance. First, condemnation of sins. Second, forgiving the sins of those near us. Third, prayer. Fourth, almsgiving. Fifth, humility.

So do not be idle, but every day advance along all these paths at once. They are not hard paths to follow. Poverty is no excuse for not setting out on the journey. Even if you are destitute you can do all these things: put aside anger, carry humility in front of you, pray hard, condemn your sins. Poverty is no obstacle – not even to that path of penitence that demands money: that is, almsgiving. Remember the story of the widow’s mite.

Now we have learnt the right way to heal our wounds, let us apply these remedies. Let us regain true health and confidently receive the blessings of Holy Communion. Thus we may come, filled with glory, to the glory of Christ’s kingdom, and receive its eternal joys through the grace, mercy and kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Let’s practice walking these paths for our own liberation and for the benefit of others.