Catholic in Yanchep

Go out into the deep.


Leave a comment

First Sunday of Lent, Year C |Christ in the Desert

Temptation in the Desert Maitre Francois

Two of the Temptations of Jesus in the Desert by Satan and Jesus served by the Angels, Maitre François, 1475, miniature, from St Augustine’s “La Cité de Dieu”; manuscript MMW 10 A 11; Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Hague.

The First Sunday of Lent focuses us on one of the key features of our Lenten journey: finding self-knowledge and working out how to make God the centre of your life.  Try these:

Bishop Robert Barron on “Three Questions from the Desert“.

Bible Scholar, Dr John Bergsma, on “The Temptations of Jesus“.

Bible Scholar, Dr Brant Pitre, on the readings for the First Sunday of Lent.

In other news, on Friday, 12 February, Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Russia met in Cuba. This is the first time the head of the Catholic Church has met the head of the Russian Orthodox Church since the Great Schism of 1054!  Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill have issued a Joint Declaration. Read and observe how the Holy Spirit is working in the Church today.

Today’s readings:

Word format: Year C 5th Sunday 2016

Pdf format: Year C Lent 1st Sunday 2016


Leave a comment

All Saints Day | We celebrate the Eve of All Hallows!

St Ignatius Loyola being welcomed into heaven by Christ, detail of nave ceiling fresco by Andrea Pozzo, c. 1685, Chiesa di Sant'Ignazio di Loyola in Campo Marzio, Rome.

St Ignatius Loyola being welcomed into heaven by Christ, detail of nave ceiling fresco by Andrea Pozzo, c. 1685, Chiesa di Sant’Ignazio di Loyola in Campo Marzio, Rome.

Join us for our Halloween supper after Mass tonight!   Some Christians have a problem celebrating Halloween, thinking it gives too much glory to Satan, death and evil itself.  Actually Halloween was originally a celebration leading up to the greater feast of All Saints or All Hallows (1 November), the purpose of which is to celebrate those Saints who are with Christ in glory because of his victory over sin, death and the devil.

From Fr Steve Grunow:

There is a lot that is unsavory about the contemporary celebration of Halloween. What does the singular focus on violence, horror and death have to say about our culture? The traditional, Catholic Halloween placed these realities within the context of Christ’s victory over sin, death and the devil. The current secularized version of the festival has no salvific content and has been loosed from its theological moorings. It looks very much like a festival of death for a culture of death and for that reason I can see why parents might be concerned.

But what is the proper response to a culture of death? To lock the Church behind closed doors or to let her out into the world? I think it is time for Catholics to accept the religious liberties that this culture claims to afford them and go public with their own festivals- and to do so dramatically and with a great deal of public fervor. What is holding us back? What are we afraid will happen? The reticence and fear that characterizes Catholics is costing the Church its unique culture and it is allowing the culture of death to flourish.  Halloween should not be a day when our churches go dark and Christians retreat into the shadows, but when we fill the darkness with Christ’s light and go out into the culture, inviting everyone to the prepare for the festival of the Saints with all the joy we can muster.

Read the rest here.

For a great scripture study on today’s readings, try The Sacred Page.  And listen to Bishop Robert Barron’s homily, What Does it Mean to be a Saint?

Today’s Mass Readings:

Word format: All Saints 2015

Pdf format:All Saints 2015

 


Leave a comment

Solemnity of The Body and Blood of Christ, Year B | Why do I remain Catholic?

Body and Blood of Christ, Corpus ChristiThe recent Pew Forum’s study on America’s Changing Religious Landscape has sparked a flurry of statements from good people on why they remain Catholic, and Elizabeth Scalia at The Anchoress has asked for contributions from committed Catholics everywhere.  We are not American, but Australia suffers from the same problem as America, with the number of Christians expected to drop from 67.3% in 2010 to 47.0% in 2050.

Today’s solemnity gives us an opportunity to talk about one of the chief reasons I remain Catholic: in the Catholic church we still remain faithful and obedient to a particular instruction from the Lord about what we need to do to inherit eternal life.  Of course, there are many things that are required: following his commandments, accepting him as our Lord and Saviour, but we can’t ignore this one: eating his body and blood, which is what today’s solemnity is all about.

  • And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. (Luke 22:19-20)
  • For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. (1 Cor. 11:23-27)
  • I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”  The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.  Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.   For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.   Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.  As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.   This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”   (John 6:51-58)

When Jesus says, “οὐκ ἔχετε ζωὴν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς” (you have no life in you), the word ζωὴν or “Zoe” refers not to physical life, but to spiritual life – the eternal life of the soul.

The early church certainly understood the Sacrament as literally Christ’s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

St Justin Martyr, First Apology 66, A.D. 151:

“We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [i.e., has received baptism] and is thereby living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus”

Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6:2-7:1, A.D. 110

“Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God. . . . They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes”

Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Philadelphians, 3:2-4:1, 110 A.D.

Take care, then who belong to God and to Jesus Christ – they are with the bishop. And those who repent and come to the unity of the Church – they too shall be of God, and will be living according to Jesus Christ. Do not err, my brethren: if anyone follow a schismatic, he will not inherit the Kingdom of God. If any man walk about with strange doctrine, he cannot lie down with the passion. Take care, then, to use one Eucharist, so that whatever you do, you do according to God: for there is one Flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup in the union of His Blood; one altar, as there is one bishop with the presbytery and my fellow servants, the deacons.

Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5:2, A.D. 189

“He has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be his own blood, from which he causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, he has established as his own body, from which he gives increase unto our bodies. When, therefore, the mixed cup [wine and water] and the baked bread receives the Word of God and becomes the Eucharist, the body of Christ, and from these the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they say that the flesh is not capable of receiving the gift of God, which is eternal life—flesh which is nourished by the body and blood of the Lord, and is in fact a member of him?”  

Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor of Children 1:6:43:3, A.D. 191

“’Eat my flesh,’ [Jesus] says, ‘and drink my blood.’ The Lord supplies us with these intimate nutrients, he delivers over his flesh and pours out his blood, and nothing is lacking for the growth of his children”.

… and these are just a few references from the 2nd century.  Many more are found among the Church Fathers.

Anyway, I do recommend you go and read these beautiful testimonies.

Watch Fr Barron explain about eating Jesus’ flesh:

Today’s readings for Australia:

Word format: Year B Body and Blood of Christ

Pdf format: Year B Body and Blood of Christ


Leave a comment

Pentecost Sunday | Come, Holy Spirit, and help us!

Pentecost, El Greco, c. 1600, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, oil on canvas.

Pentecost, El Greco, c. 1600, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, oil on canvas.

If the “fruit of the Spirit” is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5), then today the Holy Spirit has been showing me how poor I am in fruits!  Our washing machine has been playing up the whole week, and finally I decided to get a new one.  (This was after a week when I  had already forked out $600 repairing the damage to our house caused by cockatoos. They had pecked a hole the size of a dinner plate into our western red cedar.)  Anyway, when I went to collect the washing machine today (a two hour drive, as I had to borrow a larger car), I found the invoice I had been given the previous day was for someone else’s goods, which involved a trip to customer service to sort it out.  At this stage I was still patient and forbearing.  Anyway, the correct goods were eventually found and the new machine was brought home, but the brand new hoses wouldn’t attach without leaking!  I tried various manoeuvres with washers, but eventually resigned myself to the fact that our taps were way too corroded and this was making it impossible to get a good seal.  (Handy hint: old taps glued with large amounts of lime-scale prevent leaks!)  So it was another hour’s trip to the hardware store to buy a new tap set.  And, yes! This worked!  The Widow Fleming strikes again!  So I put on a load of washing, got the music ready for church, and made dinner.  I was still congratulating myself on my patience and perseverance at this point, and we set off for the Pentecost Vigil.  But at church, several things happened which annoyed me to bits.  I won’t give the details, as we should be trying to build one another up in the Lord, and stirring up discord within a church community is one of Satan’s wiliest tricks.  Still, I kept smiling.  Back at home, it was finally time to relax and unwind, but not before we had hung out that first load of washing from the new machine.  My son volunteered, but being the multi-tasking character that he is, decided he would save himself two trips and carry both the washing basket and his plate, which was loaded up with roast pork, vegetables and a rather wonderful gravy.  Well, somehow the plate tipped over, spilling the wonderful gravy, peas and greasy pork all over our clean washing.  And it was at this point that I completely lost it and managed both to shout at him and burst into tears at the same time.   So much for patience, self-control, gentleness and the rest.

Holy Spirit, I’m obviously not there yet.  Please take over!  I need more of you!  And while You’re at it, please help our Pastoral Area as well – we need your grace in order to grow.

Of course, all my little difficulties are first world problems, and the best way of coping with them is to laugh at them.  Fr Longenecker has the right idea in his article on Hilarity and Holiness.

Anyway, today’s readings are here (now you know why I’m late posting this):

Word format: Year B Pentecost 2015

Pdf format: Year B Pentecost 2015

John Bergsma does an excellent job on the readings here and here.

And Fr Barron has an interesting take on Pentecost in this homily for today.

Ascension of Jesus


Leave a comment

Ascension Sunday |Why did Jesus have to leave after his resurrection? Or did he …

Ascension of Jesus

The Ascension,
a page from the Gospel Lectionary portion of the Bamberg Apocalypse, 11th century Staatsbibliothek, MS A. II. 42, Bamberg, Germany.

Before we discuss this question, let’s get the housekeeping out of the way.  Today’s Mass readings (Australia) can be downloaded here:

Word format: Year B Ascension

Pdf format: Year B Ascension

So why did Jesus have to leave his disciples after appearing to them for forty days after his resurrection?  From Fr Barron:

The key to understanding both the meaning and significance of this feast is a recovery of the Jewish sense of heaven and earth. In regard to “heaven” and “earth,” most of us are, whether we know it or not, Greek in our thought patterns. By this I meant that we tend to set up—in the manner of the ancient Greek philosophers—a rather sharp dichotomy between the material and the spiritual, between the realm of appearance and the realm of true reality, between the fleeting earth and the permanent heaven. And if we’re spiritually minded, we tend to think of salvation as an escape from this world—this vale of tears—to a disembodied state called “heaven.” The problem is that these convictions have far more to do with Plato than with the Bible.

Biblical cosmology is not fundamentally dualistic. It speaks indeed of “heaven” and “earth,” but it sees these two realms as interacting and interpenetrating fields of force. Heaven, the arena of God and the angels, touches upon and calls out to earth, the arena of humans, animals, plants, and planets. On the Biblical reading, salvation, therefore, is a matter of the meeting of heaven and earth, so that God might reign as thoroughly here below as he does on high. Jesus’ great prayer, which is constantly on the lips of Christians, is distinctively Jewish in inspiration: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Notice please that this is decidedly not a prayer that we might escape from the earth, but rather that earth and heaven might come together. The Lord’s prayer recapitulates and raises to a new level precisely what the prophet Isaiah anticipated: “the knowledge of the Lord will fill the earth, as the water covers the sea.”   Continue reading here.

Or if you prefer video:

Listen to the homily for today here.


Leave a comment

6th Sunday of Easter | Is God using you to advance his plan?

Peter in the house of Cornelius, 19th century, woodcut, artist unknown.

Peter in the house of Cornelius, 19th century, woodcut, artist unknown.

Who was Cornelius?  Our first reading drops us right into the middle of a story without giving us the background.  Cornelius was a Roman Centurion whom God used to commence his work among the gentiles.  What made Cornelius so suitable for this work?  Notice that he filled the criteria of loving God and loving neighbour: “He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.”  He was the sort of person God could use to advance His plan for salvation.  So God does two things at the same time:

1.  He intervenes dramatically in Cornelius’s life by sending an angel to ask him to fetch the Apostle Peter from Joppa (a distance of about 50 km).

One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!”  Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked.  The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”

Notice that Cornelius is obedient.  He doesn’t suspect he’s having hallucinations and douse himself with anti-psychotics.  No, he sends a ‘devout soldier’ and two of his servants straight off to Joppa to carry out God’s wishes.

2. He intervenes dramatically in Peter’s life by giving him a vision too:

About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance.  He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”  14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”  15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

We can’t comprehend how shocking this must have been to Peter.  Orthodox Jews take very seriously God’s instructions about food – the dietary laws of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, revealed to them under the Old Covenant (the Jewish Kashrut or כַּשְׁרוּת).  In fact, for Peter to take God seriously, God has to give him the same vision three times.

It is the conjunction of these two key events that lead to the conversion of the Gentiles.

17 While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. 18 They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there.  19 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. 20 So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.”  21 Peter went down and said to the men, “I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?”  22 The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to ask you to come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.” 23 Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests.

What follows is recounted in our first reading today (see below).  Notice that it is through Peter, the one whom Jesus asked in John 21 to feed his sheep,  that the authority comes to convert Gentiles.  It is through Peter, our first Papa (Pope), that we hear:

‘Could anyone refuse the water of baptism to these people, now they have received the Holy Spirit just as much as we have?

We can’t just make up our own rules, or follow the prevailing rules of the culture.  If we want to be obedient to God, we need to be attentive to the voice of Peter today.  And we need to pray for our Papa, that the Holy Spirit will continue to guide him in leading the flock.  So getting back to our original question, “Is God using you to advance His plan?”, what can we say?  If you want to help the Lord advance his plan, I would suggest these four things:

  1. Tell him you are open to Him, that you want him to teach you, that you want to unite yourself with His will.
  2. Like Cornelius, spend time in prayer every day, talking to God as if he is your best friend, and spending at least as much time in silence, letting God fill your heart and soul with His thoughts.
  3. Like Cornelius, avoid hypocrisy, by being generous to those in need.
  4. Listen to the voice of our Papa, Pope Francis, the steward whom Jesus has placed over his earthly flock.

Today’s readings:

Word format: Year B Easter 6th Sunday 2015

Pdf format: Year B Easter 6th Sunday 2015

For more thoughts on today’s readings listen here to how God chooses you.


Leave a comment

3rd Sunday of Lent, Year B | Jesus, the Embodiment of the Law

Pope Francis, Penance and Reconciliation during 24 Hours for the Lord

Pope Francis, Penance / Reconciliation during 24 Hours for the Lord

Are The Ten Commandments still relevant for us?  I have friends who claim the Bible is nothing special – just a man-made unenlightened compilation of Bronze Age writings, and certainly not inspired by the Holy Spirit.  If that were the case, Jesus would not fulfil so many prophecies from the Old Testament.  In today’s Gospel, for example, we see Jesus fulfilling prophecies from Isaiah 56:6-7, Jeremiah 7:1-11 and Malachi 3:1-3, to name only a few.

Mass Readings Word format: Year B Lent 3rd Sunday 2015

Mass Readings Pdf format: Year B Lent 3rd Sunday 2015

John Bergsma gives a great analysis of the readings here.

I have to conclude that my friends who denigrate the Bible are too used to thinking of themselves as ‘good people’ and find it too confronting to consider themselves as sinners, so they are compelled to ‘shoot the messenger’.  Getting down to practicalities, Pope Francis has called all Christians to make 13th and 14th March “24 Hours for the Lord”.  He wants us to go to Adoration, examine our consciences (take some time about this – perhaps spend an hour in Adoration asking the Lord to reveal your sins to you) and receive the sacrament of penance / reconciliation / confession during this time.  To prepare for this, why not listen to Fr Barron’s homily on the Ten Commandments here:

Click-here-to-listen

 

and do a thorough examination of conscience.  You can download these as a guide:

Word format: Confession and Examination of Conscience

Pdf format: Confession and Examination of Conscience

By the way, these lists of sins are not exhaustive – they are just meant as a guide.  If you take time to examine yourself and listen to the Holy Spirit, you’ll find many imperfections that aren’t even on the list.

For those of you in the Perth Northern Suburbs, you can attend 24 hours for the Lord events here:

  • Joondalup Holy Spirit Chapel: Adoration and Confession from 00h00 (midnight) Friday until midnight Saturday.  Mass: 12:10 Friday.   Please put your name on the adoration roster in the front porch.
  • Our Lady of the Mission, Whitfords: Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament: Friday 09.30 a.m. to 7.00 p.m., Mass Friday 9 a.m, Saturday 08.30.  Confession: Saturday 12.00 to 13:00and 17:30 – 18:00.
  • St Simon Peter, Ocean Reef: Blessed Sacrament Adoration Friday 9:00 to 18:50.  Mass: Friday 19:00, Saturday 8:30, Reconciliation: Friday 18:30-18:50, Saturday 17:00-17:45.
  • St Andrew’s, Clarkson: Mass: Friday and Saturday 08:00, Reconciliation: Saturday 17:00 to 17:30, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction: Friday 15:00 to 17:00.

Wishing you joy and grace this Lent!