Choose joy and be happy this Christmas season. How so, when all around you there is violence, pain and strife? It is really not that difficult, because attitude is everything! If you are the type of person who counts your blessings, rather than focus on what’s wrong with life, then you are more inclined to experience Christ’s joy within you. This is the time of year when we usually take the time to reflect on the past twelve months and count our blessings. Let me share with you, the ones I find most important, that I think we can all be grateful for: Read more…
Our Lady was the first Christian to celebrate Christmas. In the Advent meditation I ponder what her thoughts and feelings were as she marked this poignant anniversary in the years between the Ascension and her Assumption
“Historians are undecided about the date of the Nativity of our Lord although as a sort of reflex action they are almost unanimous in denying that it was 25 December as if giving credit to the wisdom of the Church was somehow a violation of their professional duty. Likewise there is some dispute about when the Catholics first started to celebrate this event as a dedicated Feast. Some say it was earlier and some later. What I think we can be fairly sure about though is that the Blessed Virgin Mary knew the date and that every year as it came around she would have pondered in her heart the events of the first Christmas and the significance which they bore. Of particular poignance for her must have been the Christmases which she marked in the years between her Son’s Ascension and her own Assumption. We cannot now enter into her thoughts, memories and prayers but we can consider those matters which most likely occupied her reflections and which perhaps should occupy ours also.
Our Lady was unique in many ways and led a unique life. Not the least singular facet of it was that she witnessed the death and burial of her Son, His return to life and His Ascension into heaven. These experiences could not but be present before the eyes of her memory every time she marked the anniversary of His birth. Each Christmas for her would be a kind of palimpsest where each recollection of an event or emotion from that night in Bethlehem would uncover a thousand thousand others associated with the life of her beloved Jesus...to read more click here
When the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation began to be proclaimed it immediately provoked strong reactions. Jews thought it a horrible blasphemy, Greeks a foolish absurdity. From the moment of their first encounter with it they realised its revolutionary implications for the world of thought and religion and reacted accordingly. So radical were these implications that even many who were attracted by the figure of Jesus rejected them and most of the heresies which the primitive Church had to battle, from Gnosticism to Arianism, aimed quite precisely at removing the doctrine of Incarnation from the Christian credo.
However with the spread of Christianity and the passage of time Incarnation became the new normal. It’s implications did not stop being revolutionary but these implications for the most part did stop being considered. Humans adapted to the extraordinary by banalising it, ignoring it or denying it under a form of words which implied accepting it. It belongs, however, to the peculiar genius of the Catholic Church that it is this doctrine above all others which she has held patiently, doggedly and unapologetically before the eyes of the faithful and the world these past two millennia or so. It is this which lies behind the myriad images of the baby Jesus and the crucified Christ, behind the cult of Mary and the saints, behind the relics, the shrines, the pilgrimages and most of all behind the holy sacrifice of the Mass as the ‘source and summit of Christian life.’ To the extent that we simply consider these things severally and together as just being the Catholic ‘brand’ the stuff that Catholics do then we miss the point that it is not just what Catholicism does but also what Catholicism is. To see why this is so we need to step back several paces so that we can encounter the doctrine of Incarnation as if for the first time. Click here to read more
Are you searching for true joy? Has joy been missing from your life, or that of a loved one?
Joy is both a virtue and a fruit of the Holy Spirit. It provides an experience of happiness parallel to nothing else; a sense of deep contentment and satisfaction.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI shared his thoughts on this virtue in his 2012 address at World Youth day, where he stated, Read more…
What can be done to alleviate the suffering of the poor and homeless? How can one person make a meaningful difference? Caring for the poor and homeless requires that we first acknowledge that the poor and homeless exist and need assistance from you and me. Leaving the task to someone else means that we lack compassion and have only pity.
Watch this very interesting, short video, from the New York City Rescue Mission. It has received over 5 million views. I hope it has the same affect on you that it had on me: to raise your self-awareness of the plight of the poor and homeless. Read more at…
I reflect on what the short Catholic Epistle of St Jude the Apostle teaches us. Considering in particular the path dominated by sensuality and that dominated by the spirit. With a digression, courtesy of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, on the subject of the right use of Scripture as opposed to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura
Because I have a short attention span I’ve always had a soft spot for the Very Small Books in the Bible. I’m especially fond of the Old Testament books of Ruth and of Jonah. They are good stories and, apart from their religious content are full of little vignettes of human emotion from tender love to extreme crabbiness. The Very Small Books of the New Testament are more ‘difficult’ since they lack narrative and touch on deep spiritual and theological themes which you can’t really get to grips with unless you have a good working knowledge of the ideas contained in the rest of the NT. Nonetheless the Catholic Epistle of St Jude the Apostle has several things going for it, its only 25 verses long, it illustrates the wheat and tares parable of our Lord and it is attributed to the patron saint of lost causes who is an appropriate patron for this little cottage blog that dreams of international stardom.
Essentially the letter concerns the presence within the body of Christ of those who do not truly belong to it….
How can you support the sick and elderly by alleviating their suffering and pain? There are several ways to accomplish this that are up for discussion today. As with all acts of compassion, there are differing degrees of commitment of your time, talent and treasure that can be spent on the sick and elderly. I’ll start with the easy ways, and work my way up to the intense means of acting with compassion. Read more…
Like many people December is for me a month when I call to mind the death of a loved one, my Mom passed away 7 December 1998. There is a sense that not being jolly at this time of year is a crime against the season. I reflect on how we can use the season of Advent as a time to prepare for the coming into our lives of Jesus, the healer of broken hearts
In which I reflect upon the appeal that the narrative of the journey to Bethlehem, the rejection by the Inn and the birth of Jesus has to those who are not necessarily Christian because it is an archetypal tale.
There are, I think, two chief elements which combine to universalise the appeal of the Nativity narrative and they are both centered on the figure of Mary. Firstly and necessarily she is pregnant. There are relatively few “journey” stories which feature pregnant women for reasons too numerous to list. One factor would be that pregnancy itself is a journey. Whether our Lady travelled to Bethlehem or not a child would have been born to her, her life would have been transformed. The external details of the trip are simply a reflection in the outer world of a development which in any event was taking place in her inner world. ….