Wednesday, May 4, 2016

prayer diary Wednesday 4 May 2016

'When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak.' 
John 16. 13

Even as the Holy Spirit guides the Church today, he does so without contradicting the truths already revealed
. For these too have been revealed by God - and God can never contradict himself. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Ireland: amnesty international and abortion

Life Institute, one of Ireland's pro-life groups has a very interesting article here called Amnesty’s claims demolished by Irish Times responses. It outlines how Amnesty has been weighing in on the debate on abortion in this country and stating repeatedly that abortion is, in fact, a right under international human rights law. I and others have refused to let them get away with such an outrageously false claim ... as Life Institute's article makes clear!

In fact, the story has moved on slightly from where the article leaves off. Breda O'Brien wrote a further article, in which she points out that some of Amnesty's own lawyers have accepted no such right exists. The lawyers in question responded, conceding that there was no explicit right, but trying to shift the ground to the claim that there was 'an interpreted right' based o on accepted jurisprudence. Their incorrect claims have been challenged by barrister William Binchy, who points out that 'the International Law Association, our own Supreme Court, and an overwhelming consensus of human rights scholars agree that the observations of human rights bodies are not legally binding under international law'; and I pointed out that a non-existent interpreted right could not supersede the actual right that exists in these treaties - the right to life. 

That's the 'state of play' at the moment. It shows, I think, the importance of challenging these falsehoods wherever and whenever they arise. If they are left unchallenged, it is all too easy for such lies to be seen as the truth in many people's minds. 

prayer diary Tuesday 3 May 2016

'I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.' 
John 16.7

Reflection Christ said he would sent the Holy Spirit to guide his Church into all truth. That promise was carried out on the day of Pentecost. And we have been blessed by the Truth his Church shares with the world ever since.

Monday, May 2, 2016

prayer diary Monday 2 May 2016: Ss Philip & James, Apostles & Martyrs - transferred

'Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father.' 
John 14.12

These words of our Lord remind us of the important work he entrusted to his Apostles; and through them to his Church. Philip and James were faithful unto death to that work - and so too must we be if we believe in him.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

a matter of conscience

May my words be in the Name of Almighty God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

In our Gospel today we hear our Lord say: 'If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me does not keep my words.' The implications of what he is saying here is fairly clear: if you love Christ you will show that love by the obedience you show to his teachings. And if you do not obey his teachings, you do not love him, despite what you may say, or even have convinced yourself of. St Matthew records Jesus speaking on a similar theme in chapter seven of his Gospel: 'Not every one who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.' Faith in Christ is clearly essential; but that faith must be shown by obedience or it is essentially meaningless.

Now, we all know well what it is that Christ is speaking of when he says here we must obey his word – and indeed elsewhere that we must be obedient to the will of the Father. It is what we have set out for us in the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament; and there is also the moral law of the Old Testament, things such as the ceremonial law and dietary law being clearly set aside in the New Testament. And as well as this there is the Church Christ founded, the 'bride of Christ' as Scripture calls her, to which Christ promised he would send his Holy Spirit, as we hear in our Gospel today. It of these we speak when we talk about Scripture and Tradition.

With such clear guidance, given to us by God Himself, you might well wonder how it is that anyone can do wrong. But of course, we all of us do. First, because we are weak and frail creatures, sharers in the fallen nature of our first parents, and obeying Christ's word can often be hard. And because of that we face temptations from the world, the flesh, and the devil which try to persuade us that the short-lived pleasures they offer are of greater value than eternal life. The voice of the world is particularly strong in the current age, telling us that a great many things that are contrary to the word of Christ are good and not evil.

And then there is, of course, the fact that a great many have a very poor idea of what it means to act according to their conscience. They seem to think it means that they can act exactly as they please and as long as they do not feel guilty about it they have done no wrong. But an appeal to conscience is not a licence to do whatever we want. Those who think that do not even understand what the word really means. The origins of the word are from the Latin 'con' meaning 'with' and 'scientia' meaning 'knowledge'. To act according to conscience then means to act according to knowledge; it allows us to make a judgement of the morality of our actions – and the decision as to whether an action is good or bad is not based on some internal, subjective feeling, but according to some objective standard or norm.

A man may, for example, justify an adulterous relationship for all manner of subjective reasons: his wife doesn't understand him; the marriage is 'dead' and he is only staying for the sake of the children so really he is 'free'; the excitement of the illicit relationship makes him happy and there's no harm as long as his wife doesn't know; he feels capable of loving two women and it is love that is really important; it really doesn't mean anything to him, so what does it matter? But by the objective standards of Christian morality it is wrong.

Obviously, things are not always so clear cut. When you pass a beggar on the street, for example, ought you to give him or her money? We have a Christian duty to help those in need. But what if it seems clear the person is an addict and you are sure any money you give will go to feed that addiction? Or you have good reason to doubt that the person is actually in need but is in truth a professional beggar? In the first case your giving might actually serve to hurt the person by allowing them to buy drugs; in the second it could be seen not only to encourage them in an unproductive way of life but also reduce your ability to help those who are genuinely in need. But you might also consider that the first needs money as well for food and a bed at a shelter; and the second, having chosen this way of life, relies on your charity for the necessities of life … or perhaps may have been set out on the street to beg by some other person who will treat them with violence if they return home with less than expected. What is right or wrong there is not so obvious; but in such circumstances as long as you strive to do your best, as opposed to being too mean to share your loose change – or because you'd rather hand over a euro or two than feel mean about passing someone or take the trouble to think things through – then you act in good conscience.

But if we are to act according to conscience – to act with knowledge – the we have an obligation to make ourselves aware of that knowledge and make sure that those under our care have it too. And if it seems like a lot to learn, even so it is not too much for us to bear; for as St Paul tells us in first Corinthians we will not be tested beyond our endurance. What God asks of us, he also gives us the grace and the strength to carry out. But most of all we should not shrink from the task because it is, fundamentally, an act of love: an act of love for God, an act of love for Christ our Saviour, who suffered and died for us, an act of love so that we may show love by ever more perfect obedience to the one who said that if we loved him we would keep his word. Amen. 

Examin Sunday 1 May 2016

The superior should be obeyed as a father with the respect due him so as not to offend God . … the superior, for his part, must not think himself fortunate in his exercise of authority but in his role as one serving you in love. In your eyes he shall hold the first place among you by the dignity of his office, but in fear before God he shall be as the least among you. He must show himself as an example of good works toward all. Let him admonish the unruly, cheer the fainthearted, support the weak, and be patient toward 
all (1 Thes 5:14). 
From the Rule of St Augustine: on Governance & Obedience

Saturday, April 30, 2016

prayer diary Saturday 30 April 2016

‘If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you.' 
John 15.18

The purpose of Christianity is not so that Christians may be loved. It is rather that they show love to others by doing all they can to lead them to Christ.