Trinity Sunday: Shamrocks and the legacy of a fiery Irishman

On the eve of Trinity Sunday my husband came home with a new purchase from one of his favourite stores. We are lucky enough to have the Cardinal Newman Centre nearby and they have a wonderful range of Catholic literature, media and gifts. John Paul came in with a beautiful statue of the beloved patron of Éire, the great apostle, St Patrick.

Patron Saint of Ireland, Champion of the Holy Trinity

Saint Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland Champion of the Holy Trinity

Being of part Irish descent and having married into a heavily Irish family makes the Saint significant to Catholic identity which my family cherishes. Leading an adventurous and heroic life, St Patrick was a great Apostle to whose efforts – blessed by the grace of God – a great part of the conversion of Ireland is attributed. One of the symbols which frequently accompanies the Saint (alluded to by the Trinitarian hand gesture of our new statue as photographed) is the Shamrock or three-leafed clover. The symbolism, of course, regards the Triune nature of God, so it was quite fitting that this small likeness of the Saint should enter our home on the eve of Trinity Sunday. 

The priest who celebrated Mass that Sunday morning, who also happened to be Irish, spoke of St Augustine. The Bishop of Hippo was actually a contemporary of Saint Patrick- a fact only occurring to me as I researched the two Saints. One of the greatest minds the Catholic Church has known and honoured with the title of Doctor of the Church, St Augustine pondered greatly over the mystery of the Trinity. If there was a mind among men that might comprehend it, it would have been Augustine’s (or perhaps Saint Thomas Aquinas’). But, being the human he was, like all of us, he also struggled.

The priest rendered to us the story of Saint Augustine pondering this great mystery as he walked along the beach. He saw a child digging a hole and then running back and fourth between the sea and the hole, trying to fill it with water. When the Saint asked the boy what he was doing and was given the reply “I am trying to put the sea in this hole.” He told the boy that it was a crazy endeavour. The boy answered “You trying to understand the Trinity is even more mad than me trying to put the sea into this hole.” And yet the boy continued trying. Our priest reminded us to be like little children when approaching God. Spiritual childhood was a virtue dear to Jesus’ Heart: “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kindom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does no receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Mark 10: 14-15)

The Holy Trinity is one of the greatest mysteries of our Faith. And one that I can hardly do justice. However, the explanation that our Irish Patron gives us is perhaps the easiest to grasp and certainly one that children are more likely to understand. When preaching to King Laoghaire or his two daughters (that exact detail isn’t confirmed), Saint Patrick used the image of the Shamrock, a common plant easily recognised, to demonstrate the Three Persons of the Trinity united within One God. That is, Triune. So, on a shamrock there are three leaves. Each leaf its own entity while simultaneously one and the same plant. In the same way, God the Father is God. God the Son (the Word) is God. And God the Holy Spirit (the Paraclete) is God. Three persons, One God. Various parts of God’s nature are more traditionally attributed to different Persons within the Trinity.(perhaps a post on each person is a go?)

On this Holy celebration, I find myself reminded to go to each of the three Persons of the Trinity in prayer. Oftentimes one can have a tendency to go to one Person in particular. Since they are all united as One, this is not such a bad thing. But contemplating this mystery of God’s nature can remind us of our smallness, of our spiritual childhood. And like little children, how we should return to our great God for strength, grace and repose.

Saint Patrick was a fearless apostle of Christ amid a culture entrenched in paganism (Druids etc). A great role model in humility, piety and a childlike trust in God. Details about his life can be found here.

A Doctor of the Church, Saint Augustine has an amazing conversion story and has contributed greatly to the theological foundations of the Church. He is a wonderful example in apologetics and heroic virtue. Read more about him here.

 

 

JMJ -|-

 

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PENTECOST: The Universal Love Language of the Truth

The Feast of Pentecost has, until this year, passed me by without much of a celebration that I can remember. It brings the Easter season to a close and often a small note of relief that I would no longer have to struggle to remember the Regina Coeli rather than the standard Angelus. Well, I’ve been missing out on a whole chunk of rich tradition when it comes to Catholics and celebrating Pentecost!

Pentecost marks the 50th day after Easter. In the Jewish tradition it celebrated Moses coming down from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments. It was just before this celebration that instead of sending commandments written in stone to guide His people, the Son returned to the Father, so that He could send us the Paraclete. Now, in the fulfilled Way, we celebrate with great joy, the coming of the Holy Spirit who guides us by Love to the Truth in the Unity of the Church. Traditionally, a Novena to the Holy Spirit is recited in the nine days leading up to the Feast of Pentecost (something I’ll be aiming to do, starting next year!), with celebrations on Pentecost, then culminating with an octave finishing on the Feast of the Holy Trinity the following Sunday.

On such a big occasion it would seem fitting to go into detail on the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. However, as we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Trinity next Sunday, I would like to reserve the detailed exploration of the three Persons of the Holy Trinity for an article I’m working on to mark that occasion. This morning I was moved by the homily my parish priest, Father B, gave at Mass and want to share some of his wisdom (well what my puny brain can remember from his well thought out sermon!) as well as some of my own thoughts.

To begin with, each of the Three persons in the Trinity are the One God. (Yeah, its confusing and pretty much one of the biggest Mysteries of Faith!) The Father is God. The Son is God. And the Holy Spirit is God. That’s the Truth. It tends to be easier to relate to the first two persons of the Trinity. We see the figure of God the Father, particularly throughout the Old Testament, quite clearly and can relate through our own fathers. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, is perhaps the easiest to relate to, having taken on our own form in human flesh. The Holy Spirit can be more difficult and seem a little abstract. If we look to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, point 691 explains that “the term ‘spirit’ translates the Hebrew word ‘ruah’ which in its primary sense, means breath, air, wind.” It points to the life-giving attribute of the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier. (Later, the CCC explains “Power over life pertains to the Spirit, for being God he preserves the creation in the Father through the Son.”) 

When Our Lord appears to the Apostles after His resurrection He breaths on them (and then institutes the Sacrament of confession but that’s a whole other post!). Why? He says “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). In a marriage, there is (well should be) love between the husband and wife. That love, in right order, is fruitful. The physical fruit is children. That child is the bond of their love and always will be regardless of their age. When its father looks at his child all grown up, seeing its achievements or struggles, he looks on with Love. The mother will always want to follow that nurturing instinct whether her child is in nappies or not. That child unites their parents. Well, marriage reflects the Trinity.

The Holy Spirit is born out of the the bond of Love between God the Father and God the Son. He is unitive. His work within the Church is also unitive. He unites us most importantly in Love to the Truth. One Truth.

Thank you Father B- simply, easy-to-understand, and yet profound!

Saint John XXIII says in his opening remarks to the Bishops who attended the Second Vatican Council

The Catholic Church, raising the torch of religious truth by means of this Ecumenical Council, desires to show herself to be the loving mother of all, benign, patient, full of mercy and goodness toward the brethren who are separated from her. To mankind, oppressed by so many difficulties, the Church says, as Peter said to the poor who begged alms from him: “I have neither gold nor silver, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise and walk” (Acts 3:6). In other words, the Church does not offer to the men of today riches that pass, nor does she promise them merely earthly happiness. But she distributes to them the goods of divine grace which, raising men to the dignity of sons of God, are the most efficacious safeguards and aids toward a more human life. She opens the fountain of her life-giving doctrine which allows men, enlightened by the light of Christ, to understand well what they really are, what their lofty dignity and their purpose are, and, finally, through her children, she spreads everywhere the fullness of Christian charity, than which nothing is more effective in eradicating the seeds of discord, nothing more efficacious in promoting concord, just peace, and the brotherly unity of all.”

The Good Pope (as we so fondly remember him) aimed to inspire a New Pentecost, which Saint JPII would go on to translate into the New Evangelisation. The goal: that the Faithful would truly know and understand the doctrines of the Faith. Be united in Truth. And live this Faith in the Love of God- in this life and the next. 

As Father B also pointed out this morning, Truth speaks to all people in their own language. Love is a universal language is it not? We all understand what a smile means no matter what language we speak don’t we? So it is with the Truth. The Spirit guides us in this Truth. And unites all those seeking the Truth. He moves us in different ways towards this Unity.

We celebrated the great Feast of Pentecost with a big get together after Mass at our Parish. We have a thriving community with a number of distinct cultural groups all together. It was (in the non-corniest sense possible) uplifting and moving to have such a great celebration with the Samoan, Sudanese, Pilipino, Mediterranean and good old Aussie communities within the parish. Everyone brought food, some dressed in national costumes and there were dance displays from the Samoans and Pilipinos (and my little daughter!).

But we were all celebrating one thing. One Truth. One Faith. Truth (or Religion) does not divide people by race or nation. By career or distinction. Nor by age or gender. It marks out those with Faith. And it invites those who do not believe to lay aside their doubts, pride or fear. The Spirit guides all, in Love to Truth. Because He, consubstantial with the Father and the Son, is Truth.

So, let’s get on with it. Christ’s mission to the Apostles (and us by Apostolic Succession): Baptise all Nations! Teach what He commanded us. How? In Love and in Truth.

 

Come Holy Spirit,

fill the hearts of Your faithful.

Kindle in them the fire of Your Love. 

Send fourth Your Spirit, 

And they shall be created.

They shall renew the face of the Earth!

 

 

JMJ  -|-

 

 

 

 

 

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St Michael the Archangel

Just a quick post today about a prayer I think we should bring back to our Parishes.

Saint Michael the Archangel,
Defend us if the hour of battle,
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the enemy.
And do Thou, oh Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God,
Thrust into Hell, satan and all the evil evil spirits wandering the Earth, seeking the ruin of souls.

The above prayer was written by Pope Leo XIII to be said by the faithful after each Mass after he beheld a vision of demons converging on the Vatican and Satan being granted the choice of one century (he chose the 20th c.) to do his worst. Though suppressed (rather, made non-compulsory to put it more accurately) from recitation after each Mass in 1964, the prayer has been recommended to the faithful by recent Popes including Saint JPII. In such turbulent cultural times where religion is frequently criticised and sidelined, recourse to this prayer would be a great way to engage the intercession of the great Saint Michael, asking Our Lord to assist us in our struggles on the path to sanctity.

JMJ. -|-

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Natural Family Planning and Contraception

(Before I dive into this hot button issue I’d like to say I am NOT an expert. I am however, a devout Catholic, a wife and a mother. In this way I am simply providing a commentary on the issues I will cover but will not be going into great detail on everything that I touch on)

 

 

 

“Oh how sweet, a boy and a girl, you’ve got the set now!”

“Two children at 23! That’s young! I guess you’ve got that out of the road now.”

“I know I’m starting late, but we wanted to get a good start on our mortgage before we had a baby to look after.”

“I was thinking about another one but when I had no. 2 I thought ‘Right! thats enough for me!'”

 

If you’re a parent you’ve probably heard all of the above and worse. And if you’re a Catholic you’ve probably been slotted into the “breeding like rabbits” insult at least once. If you come from a large family you’ve probably had a check-out chick/guy look like their eyes are about to fall out their head when you answer affirmatively to the question as to whether you and the other kids grouped around the trolley are all one family. Oh, and if you’re under 25 years of age and have more than one child and plan on having more, well you’re probably an irresponsible teen mother or at the very least have little to no ambitions in life.

Its no secret that those little monkeys who bring us so much Joy along with their challenges are seen as a millstone around their parents’ neck by the larger proportion of society. And that the conjugal act is no more than a source of physical pleasure only attached to Love in varying degrees depending on who you speak to. The idea that children are always (and I mean ALWAYS) a gift inseparable to the sacred and sacramental act of marriage is labelled archaic or parochial.  However, the reality is in separating the two entirely, Love becomes selfish instead of selfless and relationships become more susceptible to a pattern of taking instead of giving.

 

A group I am a part of on Facebook recently brought up the topic of Natural Family Planning in a Catholic context. There has, is and always will be rather heated discussions surrounding the valid use of NFP which usually touch on the use of contraception, the meaning of marriage and the conjugal act (not that the conversation I speak of was heated- it was actually incredibly sensitive and enlightening). Inspired by this thread I decided to reach into the wisdom of the Church and find more detail regarding the permissible use of NFP. It was to my happy surprise that I found almost every Pope in the last century has at least commented on the subject, from Pius XI to John Paul II. It is uplifting to see how the Church (so often written off as misogynistic and bureaucratic) constantly emphasises the dignity of women and spousal unity when promoting virtuous continence and reprimanding any use of contraception.

 

Pius XI lays foundations in his encyclical Casti Connubli, which his successors build on, explaining the primary and secondary ends of the conjugal act, the proper use of virtuous continence and a range of other aspects of married love. In paragraph 56 Pius discusses the preservation of the “the chastity of  the nuptial union”  through the Church’s teaching which condemns the deliberate frustration of the natural power of the conjugal act. The context of the encyclical comes into play here: Margaret Sanger had launched her birth control movement, companiate marriage (i.e having a mistress known to one’s wife/habitual bigamy) was promoted as the liberal way of life which began the incline of divorce. So Pius raised the voice of the Holy Mother Church to defend marriage and its fruitfulness, protecting the our most vulnerable offspring.

Whilst condemning the use of artificial contraception and abortion, Pius recognises the “health of the mother and the danger to her life”  and is “filled with the greatest admiration when he sees a mother risking her life with heroic fortitude”. How great a compliment to the strength and virtue of mothers! More specifically to my central topic, in paragraph 59 Pius sets up the framework from which his successors develop the detail in Church’s teaching on NFP:

“Nor are those considered as acting against nature who, in the married state, use their right in the proper manner although on account of natural reasons either of time or of certain defects, new life cannot be brought forth. For in matrimony as well as in the use of matrimonial rights there are also secondary ends, such as mutual aid, the cultivating of mutual love and the quieting of concupiscence which the husband and wife are not forbidden to consider so long as they are subordinated to the primary end and so long as the intrinsic nature of the act is preserved.”

So, key point number one: BE OPEN TO LIFE AT ALL TIMES.

God can surprise us if He so Wills it regardless of how we design our actions. This means no contraception. Its a non-negotiable. And this also refers to ones attitude. NFP should not be used simply as a natural contraceptive. Pius XII touches on this in his address to Italian midwives and then to families in 1951. Nonetheless, the moral lawfulness of such conduct (that is the use of NFP) of husband and wife should be affirmed or denied according as their intention to observe constantly those periods is or is not based on sufficiently morally sure motives. The mere fact that husband and wife do not offend the nature of the act and are even ready to accept and bring up the child, who, notwithstanding their precautions, might be born, would not be itself sufficient to guarantee the rectitude of their intention and the unobjectionable morality of their motives.”

When it comes to having children, there must be an accord between husband and wife. Spousal unity can be uplifted by the proper use of NFP when each party constantly seeks and conforms to the will of God. Pius XII indicates one cannot just use NFP for the sake of it but that its must be for grave reason:

Serious motives, such as those which not rarely arise from medical, eugenic, economic and social so-called “indications,” may exempt husband and wife from the obligatory, positive debt (having children) for a long period or even for the entire period of matrimonial life. From this it follows that the observance of the natural sterile periods may be lawful, from the moral viewpoint: and it is lawful in the conditions mentioned. If, however, according to a reasonable and equitable judgment, there are no such grave reasons either personal or deriving from exterior circumstances, the will to avoid the fecundity of their union, while continuing to satisfy to tile full their sensuality, can only be the result of a false appreciation of life and of motives foreign to sound ethical principles.”

So key point number 2: NFP is for serious situations. This is up to each couple to decide and not for others to judge a couple on. So the number of children you have doesn’t indicate how devout a Catholic you are. But the use of NFP should always be surrounded by great prayerfulness and discernment, in accordance with God’s Will.

 

All this teaching is developing its detail under the guidance of the Church’s great Magisterium, guarded by the Holy Spirit. In the context of Western culture it is significant to note that theologians increased the examination of the doctrines of the Church regarding matters of life as the movements for birth control, abortion, no-fault-divorce and the sexual revolution gained momentum. As the master of lies sowed his seeds, so the Church responded, always endeavouring to clear the path to Heaven. One group of theologians who tackled the subject were based in Krakow, Poland. And I reckon you probably know who got them together and supervised the project: the then Archbishop of Krakow, Karol Wojtyla. The document they would produce, The Foundations of the Doctrine of the Church Concerning the Principles of Conjugal Life,  along with Wojtyla’s publication, Love and Responsibility, would be the foundations of the future Pope Saint’s (yay!) work the Theology of the Body. BUT before I get that far along I’ll just give you one of the concluding suggestions of the rather large and brain-busting document:

“we aim to propose a greater consistency in the traditional position. The teaching of the Church concerning the natural law as the foundation of the rejection of contraception, found in different places in the study, should be collected in a coherent, logical and clearly presented whole. From there the natural law would appear clearly not just as a philosophical category but as a more theological one, since besides its philosophical and even pre-philosophical content, we find in the natural law elements of a formally theological order, based on knowing the authority of the Magisterium. We think that this would allow the exact notion of the natural law and that of human law to be put on that which this law rests. But these notions — as the supporters of contraception understand them — are divorced rather melodramatically from their traditional understanding in philosophy and theology .”

So key point no.3: The Church’s teachings are based on natural moral law. Contraception deconstructs these laws and therefore undermines the dignity of men and women and the conjugal act. Also the Church DOES  have the authority to pronounce on moral issues including that of contraception.

 

Now, we come to one of the most significant documents pertaining to this topic: HUMANAE VITAE!

This encyclical by Pope Paul VI (who will be beatified later this year- woot!) is often hailed as his great mark on the Church. It was produced in the context of  the sexual revolution in full force- promiscuity was (still is) promoted, divorce still on the rise, the pro-abortion movement was gaining ground and contraception was being hailed as the hero to the villain of unwanted pregnancy and STI’s (funny how those “awful” by-products seemed to increase instead of decrease!). In his predecessor, St John XXIII’s reign, a dissenting faction in the Church pushed for the reconsideration of contraception. In response. a commission was established to research population problems as well as various means of birth control. The commission met for the last time after the closing of the Second Vatican Council and presented a report to Paul VI which suggested he might use his authority to depart from all his predecessors, whom I have mentioned so far, and approve at least some form of contraception. Well, bravo to the Chair of St Peter, the Apostolic Succession of the Church and her great Magisterium guided and sanctified by the Paraclete! Humanae Vitae was born out of such dissension and has set out the clear way to an upright and Holy marriage.

With contributions from the then Cardinal Karol Wojtyla (who was prevented from physically participating in the commission thanks to the Communists) in his document The Foundation of the Church’s Doctrine on the Principles of Conjugal Life and his book Love and Responsibility, and drawing on the wisdom of Popes Pius XI and XII, Pope Paul VI reaffirmed the Church’s stance. That is, NFP honours the nobility of marriage, the sanctity of life and the unitive and procreative aspects of conjugal relations. Humane Vitae affirms the key points I have emphasised and goes into eloquent detail on the nature and design of marriage and the conjugal act. If you’re married, engaged or even just dating: READ IT!

Just to give you a taste, here are a couple of quotes I liked:

“This (married) love is above all fully human, a compound of sense and spirit. It is not, then, merely a question of natural instinct or emotional drive. It is also, and above all, an act of the free will, whose trust is such that it is meant not only to survive the joys and sorrows of daily life, but also to grow, so that husband and wife become in a way one heart and one soul, and together attain their human fulfillment.

It is a love which is total—that very special form of personal friendship in which husband and wife generously share everything, allowing no unreasonable exceptions and not thinking solely of their own convenience. Whoever really loves his partner loves not only for what he receives, but loves that partner for the partner’s own sake, content to be able to enrich the other with the gift of himself.” (paragraph 9)

 

“With regard to man’s innate drives and emotions, responsible parenthood means that man’s reason and will must exert control over them.

With regard to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised by those who prudently and generously decide to have more children, and by those who, for serious reasons and with due respect to moral precepts, decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time.

Responsible parenthood, as we use the term here, has one further essential aspect of paramount importance. It concerns the objective moral order which was established by God, and of which a right conscience is the true interpreter. In a word, the exercise of responsible parenthood requires that husband and wife, keeping a right order of priorities, recognize their own duties toward God, themselves, their families and human society.” (paragraph 10)

 

If therefore there are well-grounded reasons for spacing births, arising from the physical or psychological condition of husband or wife, or from external circumstances, the Church teaches that married people may then take advantage of the natural cycles immanent in the reproductive system and engage in marital intercourse only during those times that are infertile, thus controlling birth in a way which does not in the least offend the moral principles…” (paragraph 16)

 

 

WOW! Love this stuff!

Ok, so since Humane Vitae, Saint JP II extended his work into his serious of address which became the Theology of The Body. I haven’t had a chance to delve into that just yet and I think you’re probably getting the picture with all my ramblings. The basic thing is Natural Family Planning methods take advantage of NATURAL periods of infertility and requires the spouses to exercise chastity, self-mastery and thoughtfulness of each other. It also encourages spousal unity through prayer and communication when it comes to discerning God’s Will for them and their family. It honours the nobility of marriage and the conjugal act. Artificial contraception simply makes spouses constantly sexually available which throws the doors open to selfishness and holds back the whole gift of oneself. Married couples must be cautious, however, not to slip into a “contraceptive mentality” when practising NFP.

In summary, the proper use of Natural Family Planning should:

1. Always be open to life (if avoiding pregnancy, this refers to your conviction/attitude if God were to surprise you!)

2. Spacing or avoiding pregnancy indefinitely must be for grave or serious reason (physical, psychological/emotional, financial/sociological)

3. The Church asks couples to always approach it with great prayerfulness and discernment, seeking the will of God

 

Hope you’ve enjoyed this one as much as I have. I would recommend all the documents I’ve spoken about as reading for married couples or couples considering marriage. I’ve learned so much from them and wish I’d read it all sooner!

 

 

JMJ  -|-

 

 

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Catholics in Catholic Schools: Are you a sheep or a dingo?

Recent headlines in Australia have been slightly amusing to the practising Catholic. After events just passed in Ireland, some Australian politicians sponsored yet another bill to redefine Marriage in our country. It is not the first, and I’m sure, not the last. All bills put forward have been defeated with exception of one state bill (in ACT) which was quickly repealed by the Supreme Court. The same-sex ‘marriage’ debate in Australia has, until now, not held particularly significant attention from the media and the public. The widely publicised events in Ireland changed that.

In an effort to avoid the same mistakes as the Irish clergy, the Australian Bishops Conference responded to the increasing antagonism of the LGBT lobby. In late May, they released a pastoral letter entitled ‘Don’t Mess with Marriage’. Thank God! An absolute cracker of a letter (for all you Americans, in Australian speak that means it was awesome), it has been a much needed voice for practising, orthodox Catholics. Note: PRACTISING, ORTHODOX Catholics. The letter has been distributed among some parishes and diocesan Catholic schools- a wonderful way to spread the message of the sacredness of the conjugal relationship.

Here’s where the tragic amusement comes in: there has been a howling outcry. From within Catholic schools. Hardly surprising one might say. But at the same time, it is a little confusing. The profile of the Holy Catholic Church in regards to matters of active homosexual lifestyles and its impact on family, society and the view of marriage is rather extensive. The media can’t seem to get past the fact that Church teaching stands in opposition to their colourful promotion of a liberal homosexual lifestyle. It seems impossible that parents and the wired-to-the-internet generations attending both primary (junior) and secondary (middle, high) schools could miss such a blindingly obvious matter of Catholic Faith. It took Pope Francis’ comment about not obsessing over homosexuality and abortion for some people to even mildly realise that there is much more to being Catholic than just these teachings. So how did these poor students and parents miss such a well-documented teaching? And if they didn’t miss it, how did they come to think that it is appropriate to wave the Catholic banner at the same time as an LGBT or anti-life banner? As a friend of mine aptly said, “The headlines shouldn’t read “Gay activists fight back’ or ‘It just propaganda’ (that one really made me laugh!)” but rather “Parents didn’t see the sign on the door: shocked after realising Catholic Schools are Catholic.” or something to that effect.

What is more absurd is the idea that’s being tossed around by the left: that LGBT representatives should now be allowed to present the other side of the story in Catholic schools. Let the dingos into the pen! I wonder if they would let the Bishops speak, unrestricted and unharmed (because the tolerant left are so peaceful), at the Sydney Mardi Gras? Or whether they would be as keen to knock on the doors of the Muslim schools and Mosques to present active homosexuality as beneficial or even preferential? The very point of having a denominational school is that it can outline the criteria, ethos and practice through which it will operate in complete freedom. If you don’t agree, don’t attend. Religious liberty and freedom of speech are, after all, one of the things dearly fought for in this nation built on the backs of Irish convicts. All this only serves to demonstrate the depths of the LGBT agenda. It doesn’t end at redefining the term ‘marriage’. Its goal is the silencing of those who disagree. To create intolerance in the name of tolerance. To silence the truth so that personal conscience cannot function. Where the dingos rule the kangaroo court, the sheep are rounded up for slaughter. More damaging than any dictatorship before is, this dictatorship of the minds, hearts and souls of all people.

It is greatly commendable our shepherds have finally voiced our concerns and the Truth of natural law that the Church upholds, especially regarding marriage. But now, I think it is time to attempt to heal the damage of half a century of poor catechesis and make Catholic schools truly Catholic again. As the saying goes ‘Love it, or leave it’. And perhaps following in the footsteps of the good servant of servants of God, Archbishop Cordileone from the US would be a good extension of the pastoral letter. Catholic should mean Catholic. Australians can’t sit on the fence any longer. Its with the Sheep or the Dingos. Take your pick.

Saint Charles Borromeo, patron saint of bishops, pray for us!

Saint Mary of the Cross (Mackillop), patroness of Australia and servant of Catholic education, pray for us!

Mary Help of Christians, patroness of Australia, pray for us!

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Back!….again!

So, like a lot of over-ambitious people out there, I have been interminably neglectful of my blog!

To resolve the issue, Ill be scaling back the length of my posts for the moment- just aiming for small, concise posts with a thought for the day or week.

In the last year I have had a number of events occupy all my efforts and I’m sure they will have a lasting effect.

The first was watching one of my closest friends and her husband bring a beautiful baby into the world and see the little one off into the arms of our Father in Heaven within 24hrs. Almost identical to the story of Baby Shane, a little boy who had anencephaly, my friends gave their little Saint over to the Lord. I felt their strength, their grief and their joy. It truly is a privilege to watch others carry a Cross the way Our Lord, Himself would carry it. And it is with great admiration that I am thankful for my friend’s witness to the great dignity of each and every life and the joy that can be had amidst suffering. Now more than ever, witness like this is crucial and has an amazing impact on society. What blessing to have such friends!

In world headlines, Ireland legalised same sex ‘marriage’. All we can pray for is another Saint Patty to restore this nation, and the entire world’s Faith. Here in Australia, politicians have been riding on the back of the global affect Ireland has had. Luckily, for the moment most of our MPs have the sense to realise it is not a priority at all. In the course of joining friends voicing the defence of true marriage, I had one throw his hands up in despair a little. In what seems to be an overwhelmingly losing battle, the following response gave each of us renewed courage and fervour:

“We cannot let ourselves be swept away in despair. While our society is drowning in its own sin, we must still fight the battle. We cannot afford to be silent or to shrug our shoulders in hopelessness. We have to be like drops of water making ripples even among the waves of secularism. Otherwise we will be accountable for the graces and Faith unshared. Even if it is just one soul that we aid Our Lord in saving, our voice is invaluable to Him. As the ‘Saint of the ordinary’, Monsignor Josemaria Escriva used to say, we have to be ‘ipse Christus’, other Christs. Perhaps, in a small way we are the beginnings of God’s intervention- ‘make straight the paths for the Lord’. Having Holy Optimism does not mean being naive, just having that spiritual fire and knowing what God can do through each of us. Ven. Fulton Sheen said ‘Catholics have all the light and no fire, Protestants have all the fire and no light’. Substitute ‘protestants’ for ‘secularists’ and you have the state of affairs today. We need more Saint Peters and Pauls. Fire and Light!’

JPII once said “As the family goes, so does the nation and the whole world.” It is with these thoughts in mind that my friend and I resolved to do better in our own families so that our efforts, our struggle for virtue and our fidelity to the Lord will have a rippling effect on those around us, on society, our nation and the world. Let us pray and struggle together in Holy Optimism, solidarity and Faith.

Saint Patrick, Pray for us.

Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Pray for us.

Saint Josemaria, Pray for us.

Back again!

It’s been quite some time since my last article, but I’m back and will be diving right in to a big theme in my next few publications. It’s one that I have come to treasure in recent days because the teachings of the Church have given the greatest honour and dignity to the suffering of some of those closest to me: Dignity of the human person, from conception to natural death. Keep your eyes peeled- I’ll be writing as you read!