Thursday, 31 July 2008

The week after...

It is already nearing the end of the week after the Knock Youth Festival, but I still wanted to do a quick post. Yesterday and today the same gospel is read at daily mass as was at last Sunday which reminded me of the weekend: the parables about the treasure in the field and of the merchant looking for fine pearls (Mt 13:44-52)... it was a very suitable gospel for the weekend, and the bishop had a very enjoyable homily at the closing mass!

Although the retreat was a bit different than I am used to being organised by the Knock Youth Ministry the weekend was a great success. I must confess that I like the more Eucharistic centered approach of Youth 2000, but maybe that is because I become less young. From all over Ireland Young People gathered and there was a lot of joy in the air! Being there only for a bit of the festival I didn't get to most of the talks, but really enjoyed the parts I was able to attend!

It is always great to see a lot of friends at these gatherings. Moreover I once more like to say that this shows that there is a big interest in our Faith. Also there are people called to be ministers of the faith, to the priesthood and religious life, as I talked to a few of the young who inquired about religious life! Still young people find the fine peal and go off happy to sell everything they have to obtain the pearl!

Friday, 25 July 2008

Catholic Youth Festivals

As a lot of people in Ireland know, the Knock Youth Festival is on this weekend, or actually from yesterday, the 24th 2oo8 until Sunday. It is expected that there will be gathering over a 1000 young people during these 4 days in the National Shrine in Knock. Last year was really a time of grace and great joy! Hopefully there will be some video footage and pictures available soon for you who might not be able to make it there!

Also, on the 14th to the 17th of August the Youth 2000 Summer Festival is on, organised, as the name suggests, by Youth 2000 Ireland. This promises to be a great event also focused on deepening ones belief in God and bringing young people back to their faith through a few days of joyful emerging in Gods love! I would encourage anybody to go down if in any way possible!

Please keep these two events in your prayers also, as they are depending on providence and a lot of God's grace to make both weekends an success! "Unless the LORD builds the house,those who build it labor in vain.Unless the LORD watches over the city,the watchman stays awake in vain" (Ps 127)

Sunday, 20 July 2008

The darnels are allowed to grow among the wheat

Just a very short reflection on the Gospel today (Mt 13:24-34), in specific the parable of the wheat and the darnels:

Another parable he put before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the householder came and said to him, `Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?' He said to them, `An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, `Then do you want us to go and gather them?' But he said, `No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'" (Mt 13:24-30 from the RSV)

In the explanation of this parable we read that the Lord explains that the good seed are the subjects of the kingdom of God. The darnels, the bad seed, the subjects of the devil.
Most striking is however that Jesus, the Son of Man and sower of the good seed, says that his servants, the angels, are not allowed to root up the darnels, but must allow them to grow together with the wheat. Then at the time of the harvest they will be separated and the darnels, the subjects of the evil one, will be thrown in the blazing furnace. The subjects of the Kingdom of God on the other hand will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.

This is how it is in the world, good and evil are both allowed to persevere, God does not intervene as to root out evil. All are allowed to grow up together for fear that rooting out the darnels it might also damage the wheat. If all evil would be rooted up straight away, for a starters there would not be a possibility for people to turn from evil ways. But more important it will also influence the way the good people life. God stays in a way at a distance to allow His subjects to develop into grown wheat, and cannot disturb this process! These seeds can then bring forth "some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty" (Mt 13:8).

We all have free choice, and it is at the end of our lives that we make an account of our free choices. That is why God cannot intervene as that would take away our free choice. The reward is there however at the end, as is often made clear, and in this life we can have the joy of choosing freely to have a relation with God, and share in the joy of His love!

Learning to read the NT in Greek

As I noticed that my post about learning New Testament Greek with Word frequency is often visited I also wanted to mention that I found the following edition of the New Testament very helpful: "A Reader's Greek New Testament", published by Zondervan.


It is a UBS based Greek NT but has every word which is used less than 30 times translated into English at the bottom of the page. This is very helpful in starting to read the text.


Where interlinear can make one too lazy, this is a really good help. I am not a very quick learner of languages, and as such try to read every day the Gospel of the day in Greek to work on my Vocabulary, but fairly soon after starting to learn the words occurring more than 30 times it is possible to make sense out of the text!


The ISBN is 0-310-24888-4, and is available fom Amazone.

Update: I now have an iPhone/iPad/iTouch App in the AppStore, which makes it very easy to practice vocabulary. It includes Latin, Greek and Hebrew: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/idoms-vocab/id493804005?mt=8

Friday, 18 July 2008

Some thought out of the opening speech of WYD 2008

Just being back from my short visit to the Netherlands, I was reflecting on what it is to be a Catholic. I became only a Catholic very recent, and this makes me want to share this joy with others. But then some of my friends mentioned in conversation more or less that they don't mind people who believe, but they don't want to be disturbed by them...

This morning I had a quick read through the Popes opening address at the World Youth Day in Sydney. He said: "There are many today who claim that God should be left on the sidelines, and that religion and faith, while fine for individuals, should either be excluded from the public forum altogether or included only in the pursuit of limited pragmatic goals". This really hit a cord with me.

He continues to say something about a society where God is amiss: "When God is eclipsed, our ability to recognize the natural order, purpose, and the “good” begins to wane. What was ostensibly promoted as human ingenuity soon manifests itself as folly, greed and selfish exploitation". I think that we can also see this in our societies!

We live in a agnostic world so it seems, and in the Netherlands possibly a bit more than in Ireland. People do not care or do not want to know about God. They want to live their individual/own lives and not be bothered. The problem is however that society starts to fall apart if we start to loose or focus as the pope points out!

Pope Benedict XVI then said: "Our world has grown weary of greed, exploitation and division, of the tedium of false idols and piecemeal responses, and the pain of false promises. Our hearts and minds are yearning for a vision of life where love endures, where gifts are shared, where unity is built, where freedom finds meaning in truth, and where identity is found in respectful communion".

I do belief every human being is getting weary of this way of live, and are all yearning for love, for everything that is "true, good and beautiful" as the pope says it. But how to let them find it if they don't want to be bothered by the message? That is where I think we have to take a leafe out of the books of the early Christians. People saw the joy and love in the Christian community and wanted to join in. We have to become holy, we have to become one with Christ, and have His love and joy in our hearts, in our souls. Then this light will shine out of us and others will see it! They will see the joy and they will yearn for it themselves... then it is time to take the next step of actually helping them to find it!

(Quotes from the pope are coming from the vatican website)

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Mass @home

I just want to put short note on the blog this weekend, as I intent to write at least one post a week, where possible connected with the Sunday gospel.

However, this week I want to particularly ask for prayers for vocations in the Netherlands. I am home for a very short visit, and went to Sunday mass. Now, in the Netherlands this means that there is not always a priest available to say the mass, especially in the north as there is a real shortage of priests. In my local parish there is no priest either, and there is usually a Word and Communion service.

However, I travelled a bit of a distance to another city and decided to go to mass there. And indeed there were multiple priests there, but to my full surprise the mass was not celebrated. The service was not lead by a priest, which I assume was a ceremony of Word and Communion, while at least three priest were present in the congregation and choir! I must say that I do not have words for the disappointment of seeing this happening...

As most readers of this blog know I am a relatively recent convert and that I belief in the authentic teachings of the Catholic Church. I understand the strain certain parishes are under with the lack of priest, but I cannot understand why there is no mass celebrated when this is possible? The biggest gift our Lord left us is our anticipation in this sacrifice which is made present to us in the mass, while He gives us His sacred body and blood! What happened to the richness of this sacrament?

If it is said that young people are not interested in going to the Church here in the Netherlands then I experienced at least one reason why not, because I wouldn't go back. Sunday mass is not just a coming together, it is a solemn calibration of our faith. Nowadays young people don't come anymore because of habit, if they come they come because they find something genuine, and they know when it is genuine!

So sorry for this rand, but I just want to share these few thoughts! In this (Irish) year of vocations, set us pray for Holy and genuine priests... and for the brethren!

Blog in Dutch

Just a short remark that I also started a blog in Dutch. I intend to put a few articles on this blog and to see if there will be any visitors. So, if you are Dutch speaking, please leave a comment on this blog so I know it is worth putting more effort in it! The address: http://vertrouwopgod.blogspot.com/

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Why do so few people see the fullness of life?

We read in this Sundays gospel: "I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children" (Mt 11:25). This just struck me, especially as I am going home at the end of the week to visit my family in the Netherlands.

Since becoming a Catholic I am so often amazed, and dumbfounded, by the very very small amount of people who actually see the fullness of our faith and and live it! In my eyes it makes so much sense, and it is so clear that the teaching of the Church are not just rules to bind people but the roadmap to a happy life on this earth and happiness hereafter. And even better, it is not just a set of very good developed set of moral teachings to make us good neighbours, it is an offer of a relation with the one living God, the only one who can give us the fullness of life. To me this is all so clear now I am living it...

It is so often said to me, often by friends who do not belief, that the church is almost dead and every week churches are closed (that is in the Netherlands). To them it is obvious that belief in God is proven a hoax. I don't know any details about the statement of the churches being closed, and the reasons for that. But I often ask myself looking around our church here in Ireland and wonder how many people coming to the church do really belief and grasp the treasure of our faith. How many people do really have a real living and loving relationship with our Lord, who many really know Him face to face soto speak?

Maybe the gospel can help us here a bit, as it says that it is the mere children who grasp it, not the learned and the clever. It are not the people who have all the answers and think they know everything, can think they can explain everything, but the people who are mere children, who look around them and see and experience the beauty of God and who understand the mystery of our being in a more profound way than any learned man ever can.

I think it is more and more important that we start telling people about the treasures of our Catholic Faith. I read a small article about WYD in Sydney, and a interview about an Australian couple who gives instruction in marital and sexual relationships. Jonathan Doyle explained that he and his wife (Karen) will share personally about the real-life implications of theology of the body, and will draw from Karol Wojtyla's "Love and Responsibility." They will help young people to find what genuine love is, something they are yearning for...

This is what we need! Myself being a novice in the Dominican Order, and hopefully with God's grace will continue to be a priest, will have to play my small part as an ordained minister, but becoming much more important is the day-to-day witness of lay people who live a life with God every day, and life it to the full! That is what it is about, to have the joy of God in every moment of our day! This is a witness we as religious can not really give, as we for a start don't life in the world and don't have certain experiences and because it becomes more and more difficult to actually get in contact with people... it is the genuine witness, the genuine love of God that will shine out through his followers "are the light of the world" (Mt 5:14).

In the meanwhile I pray to the Lord: Let me be a little child Lord! That I may see you glory!
(Any comments are welcome!)

Articles

The Irish Dominicans have a website called Dominicans Interactive with online resources. We also have an iPhone/iPad App, which can be found in the iTunes App Store.


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