Saturday, 23 June 2007

why worry?

Today's Gospel has to be the most practical and yet the most ignored bit in the Bible. Jesus tell us not to worry;how we are so much more than sparrows and grass in the fields, yet God looks after them; how we are to seek first the Kingdomof God etc. For a world riven with anxiety and doubt, where a third of school children are reported to be experiencing mental health problems and where adults survive on alcohol, drugs and other dubious support systems, then you would think these words would be as welcome as rain in a drought. Yet how many Christians live by this advice? No, more than advice. Jesus doesn't suggest that we don't worry or obliquely direct us towards non-worrying, like one of those ubiquitous counsellors; he commands us not to worry: "do not be anxious about your life."(RSV); "that is why I am telling you not to worry about your life"(Jerusalem Bible); "this is why I tell you not to be anxious"(Revised English Bible). These are commands or instructions to be obeyed, coming from the Son of God.

In any case they are very good advice, since worrying is utterly pointless and is probably the most destructive cancer of the human spirit. We achieve nothing by it and lose our peace of mind instead.

Our old, Irish priest put it clearly in his sermon today: we have only the moment we are living; we do not know when we are to die and we should live the moment we have. What is gone cannot be re-lived and what is to come will one day not arrive. Worry does not change that one jot.

Christians could be a real witness to a troubled world if they obeyed this command.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Old time religion

The Church has a treasure house of prayers many of which seem to be well and truly hidden away these days. Apart from older Catholics and those pre Vatican folk, there are probably few now who pray some of the traditional prayers and novenas. Whether these have been actively discouraged in a renewed and more modern church or whether they have just been replaced by other prayer forms is anybody's guess. But generations of Catholics have been sustained in their faith by these prayers and novenas and ,though their piety may be unacceptable to more modern mindsets, it would be completely wrong to dismiss or diminish the faith of those who prayed them as, sadly, often happens today. The fashion for more "personal" and spontaneous prayer seems to reflect our more individualistic age; and it is true that older prayers could be said by rote without much meaning. But such prayers have much to recommend themselves. After all, the Our Father, is such a prayer.
Perhaps we need to go back and look again at the way others prayed and continue to pray. There is great treasure to be found in the prayers of the past. More to come.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

God or Mammon?

Our 2 Cardinals have both made robust comments about changes to the Abortion Act, in particular reminding our MPs about their duties as Catholics against their duties as an MP. They clearly face a dilemma; either way offending some element of their constituency. One Lancashire MP, if newspaper reports are correct, works it out along the lines of: I am an MP who is a Catholic, not a Catholic MP. Sounds like the influence of a good Jesuit education or a talent for political spin.

But it won't wash. You cannot resolve such a moral dilemma by choosing a noun instead of an adjective. If this MP chooses to abstain or to take a pro-abortion stance then it is clear which element of the constituency has the strongest call.

Yes it is difficult and we encounter the old arguments about back street abortions etc. all of which were and would be terrible and wicked things; but this MP and all other Catholic MP(or those MP who are Catholic) do not have the luxury of choice. Church teaching is clear and absolute and carries spiritual consequences for not following it.

It is difficult for an MP in this situation but they chose to take the responsibility of the offfice and they cannot trim their consciences when awkward decisions are to be made.

In fact they could take a stand and be a great example for the rest of us, because we are now entering a time in this country where the silent persecution of Catholics and other Christians has begun and will increase. The new religion of political correctness and the hidden agendas of those in power leave no room for the older faiths.

If that last thought sounds paranoid, read your newspaper more carefully and listen to the TV news reporting of religious matters. Battle is joined there are no non-combatants any more.