Saturday, 30 September 2017

Bishop Robert Barron at Facebook

 Bishop Robert Barron Speaking to a Group at Facebook.

Every day, millions of people argue about religion on social media. The comboxes of religious and atheist sites are among the most visited and the most heated in the virtual space.
But what I find interesting is how few people really know how to have a good religious argument. Lots of energy, lots of sharp words, and lots of strong feelings are expressed. But rarely do we come across productive, rational argument about religion. In my talk, I'll pave a way forward, showing how we all, believer and nonbeliever alike, can share better religious discussions. 

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Twenty-fifth Sunday

Today I will focus on the 2nd Reading in the Liturgy of the Word for the Twenty-fifth Sunday. St. Paul is writing to the Church in Philippi. Paul is now in prison, facing possible death, but he is not living in fear of death; indeed, for him that would mean eternity with the Lord. What matters most for Paul is that his life gives glory to God, by what he does in faith, ministry and good works, no matter what his circumstances. He proclaims:
Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.
Even though Paul is now in prison, he continues to evangelize and guide the Churches. Paul demonstrates that no life is waisted, no matter what our condition – we may be out and about in service, advancing God’s Kingdom by a life of faith, or like Paul, we may be imprisoned, be it by illness – by injury – by handicap – by old age, and we can loose heart under such conditions, especially as we see ourselves living in a world that places highest value the productivity of the able-bodied.

When I came to St. Augustine’s Parish in Dundas, I met a man who personified the message of St. Paul – "every life is valuable". His name is Patrick “Sonny” Burke. He lived in Lynden at the time, a parishioner of St. A’s. Sonny had A.L.S. and was confined to his home. One of my Communion calls, I would bring 
Sonny Communion, then enjoy an engaging visit.

When I first met Sonny, he was in a wheelchair, but still able to use his upper body. A former steel worker, now he worked every day on a computer, running an extensive website, compiling information on the Burke family tree. But gradually, Sonny lost use of his arms and hands. But in spite of that, he was still able to use a head wand to act as a mouse-controller for the computer. Eventually all movement was lost. Now unable to even speak, Sonny could only move his eyes and for a while was unable to use his computer.

Then the A.L.S. folks gave Sonny an experimental computer system by which he was able to control the mouse features of his computer by movement of his eyes. With that, Sonny was able to communicate through the computer and continue to work on his website.

After living the longest of any A.L.S. person in Ontario at that time, the Lord brought Sonny home. Sonny’s body never stopped “magnifying the Lord”, as St. Paul proclaims in today’s reading. Last Sunday, Paul reminded us:
None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord;
These bodies we live in are only on loan; not ours to waist, not ours to destroy. And when life is completed, we give them back and account for how we used them during the time we were given. One can only imagine the merits Sonny earned for his time in the confines of an A.L.S. body. 

Sonny, thanks for teaching me how to value the life God has given me, life that is revealed in the gospel and taught to us by St. Paul in today's liturgy. 

Pray for us, Sonny.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Parable of the Sower

"A sower went out to sow his seed.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled,
and the birds of the sky ate it up.
Some seed fell on rocky ground, 
and when it grew,
it withered for lack of moisture.
Some seed fell among thorns,
and the thorns grew with it and choked it.
And some seed fell on good soil, 
and when it grew,
it produced fruit a hundredfold."
After saying this, he called out,
"Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear." 

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Twenty-fourth Sunday - 2017

Brothers and sisters:
None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself.
For if we live, we live for the Lord,
and if we die, we die for the Lord;
so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.
For this is why Christ died and came to life,
that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living. Rom 14:7-9


Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Who Is Sailing Your Ship?

Which sail are you?
1. Fore mast
2. Main mast
3. Mizzen mast
4. Flying jib 
5. Outer jib
6. Inner jib
7. Fore topmast staysail
8. Fore course
9. Fore lower topsail
10. Fore upper topsail
11. Fore lower topgallant sail
12. Fore upper topgallant sail 
13. Fore royal
14. Main royal staysail
15. Main topgallant staysail
16. Main topmast staysail
17. Main course
18. Main lower topsail
19. Main upper topsail
20. Main lower topgallant sail
21. Main upper topgallant sail
22. Main royal 
23. Mizzen royal staysail
24. Mizzen topgallant staysail
25. Mizzen topmast staysail
26. Main spencer
27. Crossjack, mizzen course
28. Mizzen lower topsail
29. Mizzen upper topsail
30. Mizzen lower topgallant sail
31. Mizzen upper topgallant
32. Mizzen royal
33. Spanker

Psychology is able to help us understand which type of sail we are on the good ship Human Being, and how we will normally respond when the wind blows. But it is the captain who deterimes the destineation for this sail, and it is the steersman who keeps the ship on course. The Captain is God the Father, the Wind is the Spirit, the Steersman is Jesus. The sextant given us for navigation is the grace of Discernment of Spirits.

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Mtt. 14:22
The Christian encounters Jesus on the stormy seas of this age in which we live. There is no storm greater than He who is able to come to us walking the sea. 
“Lord, if it is You,” Peter replied, “command me to come to You on the water.” “Come,” said Jesus. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30But when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and took hold of Peter. “You of little faith,” He said, “why did you doubt?” And when they had climbed back into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God!” Mtt. 14:28
"Is it you,Lord?" Essential to the Christian Life of prayer is the ability to recognize the Voice of Jesus. The answer to "... is it you Lord" is through the prayerful practice of Dicernment. This is at the heart of Ignatius Spirituality.

For more visit the Page PRAYING ON A PASSAGE OF SCRIPTURE - link.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Twenty-third Sunday

This year the gospel readings are taken from Matthew’s gospel. It was first addressed to Jewish people who had become converts to Christianity. But they were still shaped by many of the traditions found in Jewish law. Earlier in Matthew we hear Jesus say;
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. So then, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do likewise will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Mtt. 5:17
As Christian communities grew, forming the early churches, how members were expected to conduct their lives began to take shape, and especially how the church was to deal with one who sinned in a way that harmed or scandalized the Church members and yet remained within the community. The basic formula for establishing these laws of discipline we find laid out by Jesus in today’s gospel text. 
First there is to be private correction (Mt 18:15); if this is unsuccessful, further correction before two or three witnesses (Mt 18:16); if this fails, the matter is to be brought before the assembled community (the church), and if the sinner refuses to attend to the correction of the church, he is to be expelled [18:15–20] 
Of special note is the third one – tell the church and if he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector – in Jewish practice that was to have no dealings whatever with that person. This gave shape to the church’s practice of excommunication.

Throughout the  Church’s history, the practice of excommunication continued to develop. Basically, to be excommunicated is to be excluded from participation in the sacramental life of the church. The purpose for imposing such disciplines is to encourage the sinner to repent and return right living. Over the years, laws of excommunication took many forms and covered many different sinful practices. But in resent times, it was felt that Code Canon Law had become too encumbered with an excessive number of laws and needed to be updated and simplified.
In the 1983 a revised Code of Canon Law was issued. In it there were simply nine sins carrying the penalty of automatic excommunication: abortion, apostasy, heresy, schism, violating the sacred species, physically attacking the pope, sacramentally absolving an accomplice in a sexual sin, consecrating a bishop without authorization, and directly violating the seal of confession.
In the case of abortion, priests needed to be specially authorized to absolve, but Pope Francis, for the Jubilee Year of Mercy, extended to all priest this jurisdiction, and now has made it permanent.

We live in a pluralistic, liberal society that has a broad tolerance for all manner of human behavior. But the church continues to hold many, many things as sinful which society considers amoral and a matter of personal choice. Some things the Church considered so serious and intolerable as to require excommunication. 

We are called to a higher standard then our society promulgates. We must form our conscience and structure our lives on the wisdom and truth taught to us through the gospel and the magisterium of the Church. Therefore, it is essential that we structure a plan of personal Christian formation whereby we maintain that vital connection with God’s Word of life – that we continue to be attentive to the VOICE of God.


Monday, 4 September 2017

Why the Cross?

If someone were to ask what meaning Good Friday has for you, how would you answer? Well, you might rightly say, “The day Jesus died on the Cross for my sins.” But why the Cross? Could God not say from heaven: “Your sins are for given; come now and enter heaven and eternal life”? The problem with that is it fails to understand the nature of our intellect and free will, and the nature of sin; the power it holds over our souls. People in the bondage of sin are so by choice, and can no longer hear God’s voice from heaven.
"Son of Man, you live in a rebellious house that has eyes to see, but they can't see, and ears to hear, but they can't hear, since they're a rebellious house. Jerimiah 12:2. 
. . . so that, "'they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'" Mk 4:12
Let me offer an analogy. A person goes partying one night … becomes intoxicated … gets into a car and drives away at high speed … fails to negotiate a turn in the road … roles the car and ends up in the ditch, injured and hopelessly pinned in the over-turned car. Then the car becomes engulfed in flames. That person cannot save themselves, they are going to die a horrible death – and it is totally their fault.

Now a stranger comes on the scene … climbs into the burning vehicle … releases the trapped person … pushes them out of the car to safety … but can only do this in a way that makes the rescuer unable to get out himself … therefore, he must die in place of the trapped person. It’s the only way to save the one hopelessly trapped do to the choices they made.

Sin entraps our souls and binds us to its deadly way, traps us in the state of eternal separation from God, from God’s truth, from eternal life. (Trapped like the person in the flaming car.) God must come to where the sinner is; first to break Satan’s hold over us by incarnating, making himself visible and recognizable on our terms. Then, one-on-one, offering us mercy, convincing us to reject sin and to accept forgiveness. Then God must lead us out of our hell of ignorance into the light of truth. Jesus, the Son of God is the only one who can do this. He must become one of us, to be with us where we are. That is the only way we can hear God’s voice.

Satan tries to drive Jesus away from rescuing us by the threat of the Cross. He fails. Jesus’ love for us is greater than any fear Satan can employ, even death itself. Satan’s hold is broken, it remains for us to listen to the Voice of forgiveness and follow him out. We say Jesus died for my sins on Good Friday. Perhaps we more accurately should say, Jesus died BECAUSE of my sins. Because by my free choice I willing followed Satan into the hell of separation from God’s truth, it is only by Jesus entering into my death situation, to meet me there and convincing me of his love, can Jesus save me. Only from the Cross can we hear;
“This day you will be with me in Paradise."

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Twenty-second Sunday

We know that Jesus came into the world for one thing - he came to engage his HOUR. It was not a measure of minutes, rather a point in all time, with eternal dimensions. It is an expression unique to John's gospel. It first appears in John's account of the wedding feast at Cana.  

When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to Him, “They have no more wine.” “Woman, why does this concern us? Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” Jo. 2:4
Jesus came to engage Death, not merely as a loss of human life but Death as a Being, once an angelic Being of unimaginable glory, but now a Being emptied of all truth, existing for only one purpose, to destroy. Death is Satan, the bringer of death, by seducing people into rejecting the TRUTH given by God. 

From his infancy, Jesus has been pursued by Death. Already as a young boy Jesus knew of his destiny when he stayed behind behind in the temple, learning and teaching, while his parents searched for him. Jesus engaging with DEATH is first seen during his retreat in the wilderness, when Death makes it's face known and engages Jesus in the seduction of untruth.
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. The tempter came to Him and said, “If You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” But Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ Mtt. 4:1
 Luke's account ends with - "When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time." Lk. 4:13

Throughout his ministry, we see Jesus engaging Death with it legions of evil spirits. Always the threat of Death lurked near by gathering its storm for the HOUR.

From that time on Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and that He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. “Far be it from You, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to You!” But Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me. For you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Mtt. 16:21 

In today's gospel passage, when Jesus says to Peter, "... get behind me Satan", he is seeing through Peter to the one sowing this deception in Peter's mind. He knows that Peter is no match for Satan. Even though Jesus has referred to his HOUR, his disciples do not comprehend what it means. They will begin to gasp it when in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus' passion becomes evident.
Then he came to the disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the HOUR is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
Peter will try to defend Jesus with a sword, but Jesus stays his hand. The sword is not the weapon of victory in this HOUR. 
Then all the disciples deserted Him and fled. Mtt. 26:45
If the weapon of DEATH is "Lies", then the weapon against "Lies" is TRUTH. God alone is the author of truth - not man, in spite of all man's wit-and-wisdom. Jesus does not withdraw from  threat of Death, but enters into it and in so doing brings redemption to all who are embraced by DEATH, by revealing God's TRUTH.
So He said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Jo. 8:31
Who is teaching this generation TRUTH?


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