Saturday, 31 January 2009
Friday, 30 January 2009
It just remembered me about my time when I converted to Catholicism, or indeed Christianity, now about six years ago. The colleague in the office who started about God to talk to me was bringing up the conversation over and over again. It takes a lot of repetition before a message as profound as the message of Christ is really fully comprehended. In the handbook of the Legion of Mary, written by Frank Duff, it indicates that the Legion should be focusing on the quality of the work not the quantity, that we should try to help people really to grasp the Truth that is Jesus.
It was only after I had heard a lot about for example possibility of creation and how it all makes sense in the light of the Gospel that I was struck by the coherence of everything. It was then that I started to read the bible which set me on the road I am now walking. There is much in the doctrine of Christ, that is astonishing; the more we hear it, the more cause we shall see to admire it.
It is not a fairytale, or just some "let us make our self feel better scheme". We can read as well that Jesus, in this passage but also in many other passages, in support of His claims works miracles. When we are genuinely seeking God it is fair to ask Him to help to find Him. A lot of small little miracles happened around me when I converted, and God's Word did become real not only because it make logically sens, but also because He showed me it to be true.
The full authority of Christs' teaching comes because it is teaching that speaks to the heart, it is a message that touches us deeply if we allow it too. Christ taught as one that had authority, as one that knew the mind of God, and was commissioned to declare it. Through our baptism we are all called to declare the Gospel, by the way we life, at the place we work.
It is important for us to remember that we have to teach with authority as well, with which I mean that our beliefs have to come from our heart, from our knowledge and love of God. If we belief the message of Jesus Christ from our hearts, we will live a life accordingly, and others around us will see this, they will wonder what it is that is different in us. I am getting on my hobby horse again, but our faith has to be relevant to our life, it should make a difference!
In the priory here in Dublin we have a Lectio Divina group on Thursday evening. It was originally setup by Slovakian Dominican brothers who were studying here for a year, and as such most of the members are Slovakian. What struck me was that during the half an hour adoration which follows the lectio we had 15 young adults kneeling on a hard ground for 30 minutes without there being any noise or any movement... in a way, by just being there silently, they were teaching me with authority, it makes a difference!
Monday, 19 January 2009
"You have seduced me, Yahweh, and I have let myself be seduced; (Jer 20:7)".
To tie in a small bit to my previous two/three posts... God is always calling us in our hearts, and we only have to allow ourselves to give in to His love....
We can see in that passage of Jeremaih that he tries to resist God's calling to speak His word, but God's love, the fire in His heart, is too strong for Him to resist. We are all called to a relation with God that enlightens this fire of love in our hearts, which will lead us too to want to spread the message to others...
Wednesday, 14 January 2009
A talk given by Father John Harris OP on the Dominican Vocation. This was the talk as introduction for a day specially focus on vocations with different responses to the talk and personal testimonies, and was held in the Dominican Priory in Tallaght, Dublin Ireland
As far as I can recount I didn't post this video on my blog yet, but seeing the popularity of it do it so now:
Saturday, 10 January 2009
"What and wherefore was the nature of this success of the World Youth Day? What were the forces which drove it? Popular analyses tend to look on these days as a variant of modern youth culture, like a kind of rock festival, modified in church wise, with the Pope like a star. With or without faith, this festival is at root always the same thing, and so the question of God can be sidelined. There are also Catholic voices which move in this direction, seeing it all as a great spectacle, even beautiful, with having little significance for the question of faith and the presence of the gospel in our time. They could be moments of festive ecstasy, which however when all is said and done leave things as they were, having no bearing in any depth on life itself."
I do agree that a lot of people look at the success of such events, and also for example the retreat Youth 2000 had in Newbridge of which some video footage will hopefully follow shortly, is in this popular way, and indeed we even find this trend among ourselves. I just want to say that we should reflect on this and what the pope says next... do these events make a difference in the lives of these young people? Is there something more than just a 'festival'?
"With this, however, the peculiar nature of such days and the particular character of their joy, their creative force for communion, find no explanation. Above all, it is important to take account of the fact that the World Youth Days do not consist of one single week in which they become public and visible to the world. There is both a long external and internal journey leading to them. The Cross, accompanied by the image of the Mother of the Lord, goes on pilgrimage in different lands. Faith, in its own way, feels the need to see and to touch. The encounter with the cross, which is touched and carried, becomes an interior encounter with Him who died on the cross for us. The encounter with the Cross arouses in the depths of youth the memory of that God who willed to become man and suffer with us. And we see the woman whom He has given us as Mother. The solemn Youth Days are only the culmination of a long journey, along which they meet one another and together they go to Christ. In Australia, not fortuitously, the long Way of the Cross through the city became the culminating event of those days. It recapitulated once more all that had taken place in the preceding years and pointed to the One who unites us all together: the God who loves us to the extent of the Cross. And so even the Pope is not the star around which everything happens. He is simply and solely Vicar. He defers to Another who stands in our midst. Finally, the solemn liturgy is the centre of everything, because there takes place in it what we are unable to accomplish and of which, however, we are always in expectation. He is present. He enters into our midst. Heaven is rent, and this makes the earth glow. It is this which makes life joyful and open and unites one to another in a joy which cannot be compared to the joy of a rock festival. Friedrich Nietzsche said on one occasion: “The ability is not to be found in organising a festival, but in finding people who can enjoy it.” According to Scripture, joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22): this fruit was abundantly visible during those days in Sydney. Just as a long journey preceded the World Day of Youth, so successive journeys flowed from it. Friendships were forged which encouraged a single, diverse style of life and supported it from within. The great Days have, not as their ultimate reason, the intention to create such friendships and in this way they bring about areas of life in faith, which are simultaneously arenas of hope and of a charity experienced."
As my previous articles on this blog give way, I do think or even know from own experience, that there is a difference, that these gatherings are only visible signs of a much deeper inner journey. Again we should be very careful that we don't sideline God as does a lot of society, but keep Him in the center of everything we do, and that will make a difference!!
Tuesday, 6 January 2009
As I mentioned in my last post on this blog, the relevance of Christianity to somebodies life is very important, otherwise it can become an ordinary habit, and the ordinary habit can cease to be a habit.
While on my way back to Ireland I was thinking a bit more about the feast of the Epiphany and the revelation of Jesus to us. During my visit to the Dominican brother and sisters in Zwolle I talked a bit about the Youth 2000 Christmas retreat, and how great it is to see so many young people celebrating their faith.
I think the strength of the youth 2000 retreats is that they are centered on the Christ, and especially on Jesus' presence in the Eucharist. I sometimes hear people wanting to make Christianity intersting to young people by organising all kinds of creative activities, but I think that that is completely missing the point. The important element of bringing people back to the faith is the encounter with Chirst, and it should be centered on that.
On these retreats mass is central, and there is 24 hour Eucharistic exposition during the retreat (expcet during mass). Anytime I attended such a retreat and spend an hour during the night in the chapel I always found a lot of young people being there with me... they spend an hour with Jesus. When somebody goes to such a retreat it is often an encouter with Christ, an epiphany, as many testimonies at the end of the retreat witness to.
What would be a better way then Jesus really present himself bringing us close to him? Some might off course doubt the real presence and the significance, something I might say a few words about sometime shortly, but I know from my own experience that He is there! Very blondly said, where would you find about 500 young people looking at a piece of bread for three hours? It is an amazing experience, but that is exactly what it is, an experience.
The fullness of life is found in getting to know Jesus. Sometimes we can write and talk about it, and it can make some sense, but at the end it is the Epiphany of Jesus himself in our lives... the only way is to do it is to start to get to know Him...
Mark 14:37: "Could you not watch one hour?"
Sunday, 4 January 2009
Today the feast of the Epiphany was celebrated, the revelation of Christ to the three wise men, who came in search for him. It is the same with us in our lives, as every human being has in some shape or form a star shining pointing towards Jesus, pointing towards the fullness of life. It is only in Jesus that we find true happiness, and therefore we have to show Christ to others to bring them also to this fullness. More and more people do not realise that the star is pointing to a fuller way of life, especially if there is a difficult journey is to be traveled before coming to the full realisation of the joy and peace we experience deep down in our soul and the sense everything makes once we find and come to know Him.
Religion without Jesus at the center and as its aim is empty. In my opinion, this is sadly the case for a lot of (Christian) people these days. That is why it is important to help others to deepen their personal relation with Christ, and to show that knowing Him is relevant and important to find true happiness. Being part of a church community is not the end in itself, it is the help that points beyond itself and to Jesus.
We also continually have to keep in mind that we have to follow the star ourselves to find Christ, and over and over again invite him back into our lives. A relation is never something static, it a continual dynamic process and Christ has to be at the center of our lives all the time. It is only by knowing Jesus intimately that we can bring Him to others. As I often say, we cannot give what we do not have. We have to know the love of Him so His love will radiate through us and enlightens others with its light.
Finally, I think that we have to realise that the way our lives go are not always according to a straight path. We can read in the Gospel that the wise men followed the star guiding them, but then they had to make a detour through Jerusalem before they got on the right path again and the direction became clear again. Sometimes our lives can be like that, sometimes we take a bit of a detour, but as long as we keep Jesus at the center of our lives we can trust we will find the star that is guiding us...