Catholic in Yanchep

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Christ the King, Year C | Who is king of your universe?

Hans_Memling_-_Christ_Surrounded_by_Musician_Angels_-Christ the King

Christ surrounded by Musician Angels, Hans Memling (c.1480), Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp, Belgium.

I have a friend, Will, who, as an agnostic, is a great gift to me.  At this stage of his life Will is not one iota interested in God; however, talking to him provides me with an opportunity to understand how atheists and agnostics think.  So last weekend, I asked him about his current view of reality:  to what extent did it include the possibility of God existing?

He answered that as it was impossible to prove God exists, my question was meaningless.

Setting aside whether his assertion is correct (I think it isn’t – but will explain that in another post, or you can read this book), I asked him if he had ever tried the experiential approach and bothered to get his answer straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, and ask God if He exists.

No, Will replied.  For if he asks God whether He exists, he is introducing observer bias into the equation, since the question assumes that there is a God to ask whether he exists.  What Will is referring to is a form of confirmation bias, which Wikipedia describes as a “tendency to search for, interpret, favour, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s pre-existing beliefs or hypotheses, while giving disproportionately less consideration to alternative possibilities.”

That’s not really the case, I replied.  You see, the question of whether God exists is too important not to address.  It’s about ultimate truth, and what we believe about ultimate truth becomes the frame of reference for everything else in our lives.  Take, for example, an atheist like Friedrich Nietzsche who said this: ‘All superior men who were irresistibly drawn to throw off the yoke of any kind of morality and to frame new laws had, if they were not actually mad, no alternative but to make themselves or pretend to be mad’.  The last eleven years of his life were a descent into madness.  (What a surprise.)  Contrast this with someone like St Thérèse of Lisieux: ‘Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.’  Which one of these people do you think had the better understanding of the truth?

So, I said to Will, regarding the question of whether God exists, we have these possibilities:

  1. God does not exist and eo ipso does not want to establish a relationship with us.
  2. God exists and does not want to establish a relationship with us.
  3. God exists and wants to establish a relationship with us.

But what you are saying, Will, is that there are only two options regarding these possibilities:

  1. God does not exist and I can ask him if he exists until I am blue in the face, but because he doesn’t exist he won’t answer me.
  2. God may exist, but I can’t ask him whether he exists, because asking the question a priori introduces confirmation bias (according to Will, anyway).

This seems an extraordinarily poor strategy in the game of life.  Because if God exists, I have left myself no apparent way of discovering Him! In fact, the way Will has designed his schema is itself the most perfect example of a confirmation bias for the negative proposition!  Hypocrisy, anyone?  Accusing others of confirmation bias while exemplifying it oneself?

Anyway, I disagree that asking a question of a hypothetical God introduces confirmation bias.  There are various ways we can ask a question to introduce confirmation bias or otherwise.

For example, one could have negative confirmation bias if one worded the question this way:

“Hypothetical God, to determine if you exist (and I am reasonably sure you don’t), I will throw this ten dollar note into the air, and if you sweep it up into the air like Elijah’s chariot, I will believe you exist, but if it falls back to earth, then I will continue to believe you are non-existent.”

… or one could have positive confirmation bias if one phrased one’s question using a scenario which has every likelihood of being fulfilled:

“Hypothetical God, to determine if you exist (and it would be nice if you did), please give me a sign of your presence.   If you are truly present, perhaps, er, perhaps you could give me this sign: let me have a day of great blessing tomorrow.”

You can’t use as your dependent (responding) variable something which is reasonably likely to occur anyway.

So how could one word a question without introducing confirmation bias?

This is Peter Kreeft’s version:

“[Hypothetical] God, I don’t know whether you exist or not. Maybe I’m praying to nobody, but maybe I’m praying to you. So if you are really there, please let me know somehow, because I do want to know. I want only the Truth, whatever it is. If you are the Truth, here I am, ready and willing to follow you wherever you lead.”

Now Will would probably say this version has too much confirmation bias in it, because it already uses words like ‘praying’ – which has religious overtones.  Not only that, but it contains no variable which is measurable or falsifiable.  Also it adds on certain consequences – he says he will follow wherever God leads.  That’s enough to prevent an atheist from approaching the question at all.  For an atheist would say, “Hang on a minute, I only said I was prepared to find out if God exists, I didn’t say I would follow him if he does!”

Perhaps this could be a more scientifically neutral version:

“Hypothetical God (HG), I need to phrase this question as if I am not talking to you, because by appearing to be talking to you, I am introducing confirmation bias.  Therefore, let HG be a possibility.  If HG exists, and HG wants me to know HG exists, HG will presumably let me know in no uncertain terms.  I reserve the right to refuse to respond to HG, should HG’s presence become apparent.”

Something we haven’t discussed yet is what [hypothetical] God might have to say about the Scientific Method as a way of approaching Him.  Would God even bother to answer someone who has the audacity to approach Him in a way that objectifies Him?   Where is the love?  As an analogy, imagine an adopted son who wanted to find out who his birth mother was, but only wanted to know if she was alive and had no intention of meeting and getting to know her.  If the birth mother came to find out that her son was asking questions with this attitude and not with a genuine desire to get to know her, would there be any point in responding?  Would she not be hurt?  In the same vein, isn’t treating God like a science experiment just plain rude?  Well, this is where it might get interesting.  God is a God of surprises, and he doesn’t avoid painful situations (witness the crucifixion).  What’s more, he knows the inmost working of our hearts.  He always responds in the way that is most appropriate for the particular soul.  If He sees that the soul in question would make progress if He responds, then respond He will.  But if he sees that the soul who is half-heartedly seeking him needs more character formation before his heart is in the right place to receive an answer, then he will no doubt first give him some character-building experiences in his life.

There’s a whole lot more to be said on exactly how we hear God and how God speaks to us, but I’ll have to save that for another post.

Readings for Christ the King

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26th Sunday, Year C | Overcoming Indifference

rich-man-and-lazarus-codex-aureus_epternacensis

The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Illumination from the Codex Aureus of Echternach, 1035-1040, German National Museum, Nürnberg. Top panel: Lazarus at the rich man’s door Middle panel: Lazarus’ soul is carried to Paradise by two angels; Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom Bottom panel: Dives’ soul is carried off by two devils to Hell; Dives is tortured in Hades.

This week’s Gospel from Luke 16 should be compulsory reading for all.  Jesus tells a parable in which he contrasts a poor man, Lazarus, ‘covered with sores’, who goes hungry and unnoticed outside the gate of a rich man who enjoys a life of ease and comfort.  After the rich man dies, he finds himself in torment in Hades, not because of any particular cruelty he has meted out, but merely because he has been totally indifferent to the suffering of the man who lay at his gate.  Abraham says to him, “My son, remember that during your life good things came your way, just as bad things came the way of Lazarus.  Now he is being comforted while you are in agony.”

It’s easy in a country like Australia which has an advanced system of welfare and safety nets, to avoid being confronted with real poverty.  And sometimes, social welfare systems are so generous that they have the unintended effect of cementing and rewarding dysfunctional behaviours.  Hence the current conversation about whether school attendance should be a requirement for receiving family welfare.  But it is largely because Australia was founded on the sort of Judaeo-Christian principles explained in this parable and in the first reading from the prophet Amos, that it has had such a commitment to justice and a fair go for everyone.

At the moment I am in Cape Town, South Africa, where it almost impossible to be unaware of the poor around you, and there is a huge gulf between the haves and the have-nots.  I am well aware that I am more like the rich man in the parable when I am visiting here, so I am making an effort not to be indifferent.

On my way to Mass in the morning, I pass by a small park where I used to play as a child.  In this park lives a woman called Ursula, often accompanied by her friend Anthony.  Both Ursula and Anthony have mental health problems.  As I arrive, Anthony is sweeping the soil around the park bench, behind which is a bundle of plastic bags containing all their worldly goods.

“Good morning, Ursula.  How are you today?”  “Hello lady.  Can’t complain.”  “It looks as if it might rain today.  Where do you go if it rains?”  “I stay here.  I come from Somerset East, but I live here now.”  “I can see someone has given you some chicken.  Are you going to cook it?”  “No it’s cooked already.”  (It looks raw and it still in a polystyrene meat tray.)  “Oh well, here’s a sandwich for your breakfast, if you like.”  “Thank you, lady, I appreciate it.” “Hope you have a lovely day.”

Then there is Martin, who has come to South Africa from the DRC.  Every morning, Martin comes to Mass at Nazareth House, and picks up a sandwich from the nuns at the convent in exchange for some light duties.  After Mass, Martin walks up the steep hill to the Kwikspar, wheeling his travel luggage behind him, and all the way, carrying on a lively conversation with himself in French.  I think the Kwikspar might give away some out-of-code items.  At night, Martin stays at one of the homeless shelters which fortunately are available in this area for those who want to make use of them.

The third friend I have made here is one of the carers at Nazareth House.  I will call her Nomandla (not her real name).  Nomandla’s problem is an example of the structural problems in the South African wage system.  For 15 twelve-hour days a month, Nomandla earns R3,000 (that’s about AUD300).  So her weekly wage is approximately R750 or $75.  How is this possibly a living wage?  Nomandla is also supporting her son, who is studying at UWC to be a lawyer and will graduate in 2018.  Nomandla has a grade 12 education, but because of family circumstances, never had the opportunity to study further.  She would like to upgrade her skills and study nursing as soon as her son has graduated.  I am hoping I can help Nomandla achieve this goal.  If anyone is interested in this, I like the idea of direct action without going through all the administration costs involved in charitable donations, so please contact me.

I should also mention that Catholic Welfare and Development have a number of outreach programs here in the Western Cape, if you would like to donate to them.

Today’s readings:

Word format: year-c-26th-sunday-2016

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21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C | The Divine Comedy takes me to New Norcia

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Dante’s Divine Comedy performed by the monks and friends of New Norcia

Last weekend, I had the opportunity of visiting New Norcia, Australia’s only monastic town, for the Benedictine Community’s presentation of Dante’s Divine Comedy (I picked up the 100th of 100 tickets, after a cancellation, so I took it as a sign that God had intended me to be there!

After the previous week’s shenanigans, I was in sympathy with Dante, who was exiled from his beloved Florence during the turbulent political battles between the white and black Guelphs in the period immediately following the Guelph-Ghibelline conflict of the late 13th century.  One can see him reassessing his situation in the opening lines of the Divina Commedia.

In the midway of this our mortal life, I found me in a gloomy wood, astray

It’s interesting how God works in our lives, because if Dante had not been exiled from Florence, he might never have written this work which is arguably the pinnacle of Italian literature, not only during the Medieval period, but of all time.  Dante’s gift was to create in poetic form a kind of applied Thomistic universe – Dante takes us on a tour of the spiritual cosmos so that we can see the effects of our choices played out in our destination after departing this earthly life.  James Hitchcock in History of the Catholic Church, describes Dante’s contribution like this:

Scholasticism, a comprehensive system that sought to understand every aspect of reality in relation to the whole, expressed the idea of Christendom itself, the organization of the entire universe according to an overriding spiritual principle. 

This sense of unity was carried to its highest point by Dante, whose Divine Comedy, written in the early fourteenth century, was the most vivid expression of that ideal, bringing together abstract doctrine and concrete humanity in a great imaginative unity, an epic drama that revealed the divine plan and the way in which divine justice governed the universe. 

In the Comedy, Dante, lost and spiritually imperilled by his illicit and unrequited love for the memory of a deceased married woman named Beatrice, received from God – at Beatrice’s entreaty – the guidance of the Roman poet Virgil, who took him on a tour of Hell and Purgatory to show him the reality of sin … 

Dante’s tour of Hell revealed that punishment for sin was not an arbitrary divine decree but rather the patterns of human behaviour carried into eternity, with the sinner suffering in ways that were the natural and inevitable results of his earthly behaviour: the lustful blown helplessly about like dry leaves, because they allowed their passions to dominate them; the gluttonous force-fed to the point of continuously regurgitating their food; the hypocrites weighed down by heavy-leaden robes that appeared beautiful on the outside.  The men and women in Hell were shown to be not so much damned by God as having damned themselves, by refusing to repent of their choices and accept the grace that would have enabled them to overcome their vices either during their lives on earth or in Purgatory. 

Dante delineated a hierarchy of sins that, as a Thomist, he based on human reason.  Thus the worst sins were lying, deceit, and treachery – the use of the intellect to subvert the truth rather than to disclose it.  Those guilty of such sins, especially Judas, were trapped in ice in the lowest depths of Hell, because of their calculating and unloving acts of betrayal. 

An equivalent array of sinners were in Purgatory, where, however, they had the joy of the certainty of eventual salvation, their crucial difference from the souls in Hell being the fact that they had repented and accepted divine mercy.  The sufferings of Purgatory were not so much punitive as therapeutic, purifying the soul and making it worthy of Paradise. 

Virgil could show Dante the nature of evil because, as a good pagan, the Roman poet understood the natural law.  But also as a pagan, he could not enter Heaven, at whose gates Beatrice herself became Dante’s guide, since by her prayers Dante’s disordered human love had been transformed into an understanding of divine love. 

Beatrice guided Dante through the levels of Paradise on an upward spiritual journey that was the reverse of his journeys through Hell and Purgatory.  The experience of Paradise was overwhelmingly that of a light so bright that it obscured much of what Dante encountered, of which he was not as yet worthy.  In his spiritual ascent, he encountered the great saints, who by their words and deeds illustrated the hierarchy of virtues.  His final guide in Paradise was St Bernard (Dante as author giving him the honour of that role because Bernard had reached the heights of contemplation and because of his deep devotion to the Virgin Mary).  Dante was finally drawn upward to the ultimate union of love with truth: “Like a wheel that as a whole rotates, my yearning and my will were borne along by the love that moves the Sun and all the stars.” 

Dante revealed the ordered unity of the cosmos itself, the linkage between Heaven and earth.  But his great poetic synthesis was created at the very point when Christendom was on the verge of unravelling.

How appropriate then, that the Gospel for the 21st Sunday is on the subject of “last things”(Luke 13:22-30).

Through towns and villages Jesus went teaching, making his way to Jerusalem. Someone said to him, ‘Sir, will there be only a few saved?’ He said to them, ‘Try your best to enter by the narrow door, because, I tell you, many will try to enter and will not succeed.

 ‘Once the master of the house has got up and locked the door, you may find yourself knocking on the door, saying, “Lord, open to us” but he will answer, “I do not know where you come from.”  Then you will find yourself saying, “We once ate and drank in your company; you taught in our streets” but he will reply, “I do not know where you come from. Away from me, all you wicked men!”

  ‘Then there will be weeping and grinding of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves turned outside. And men from east and west, from north and south, will come to take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.

  ‘Yes, there are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last.’

This is an extremely difficult message for many Christians, because we don’t want to believe that anyone will end up in hell.  I have even heard many priests say that Judas might not be in hell.  But then it would make nonsense of these words of Jesus, “but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” (Mark 14:21)

So, if you’re disturbed by the idea of hell, pray harder, pray and fast for your friends and relations, for those you love, and for those you find it hard to love.

In my next post, I will feature some photos from New Norcia.


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20th Sunday, Year C | Divisive? Only if you’re an enemy of Truth.

Christ in Majesty Washington Basilica

Christ in Majesty, Jan Henryk de Rosen, 1959, mosaic, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C.

‘Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on a household of five will be divided: three against two and two against three; the father divided against the son, son against father, mother against daughter, daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’ (Luke 12:49-52)

Wait a second, didn’t Jesus say, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you?” (John 14:27)  And now he’s saying he’s come to bring division?  How can both of these statements be true?

Easy.  When Jesus is talking about giving us peace, he means that one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is that we will have peace in our hearts.  When we stay close to Christ and are filled with the Holy Spirit, we will experience a profound peace, in spite of any difficulties that may arise.

But there are many in the world who will see Christians as an enemy or a cause of division, because we do not (or should not, if we are being faithful) compromise on truth.  And this will lead others to hate us or think we are insane.  Those who do not follow Christ may, if they choose, decide to persecute us, take us to court or remove privileges (such as tax-free status) from us.  So it is that some of our family members will turn away from us, because we refuse to lie.  Now for some examples of lies we have to resist in our popular culture today:

  • We refuse to agree that an unborn child is just a clump of cells whose rights are trumped by the mother’s rights, but we say the developing human embryo or foetus is an individual worthy of respect, and that God intends the existence of each child:

 ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you’ (Jeremiah 1:5)

  • We refuse to agree that two men or two women in a sexual relationship are equivalent to the free, total, faithful and fruitful marriage of a man and a woman whose bodies are by nature complementary to one another. If you’re going to deface language by calling homosexual unions marriage, then we need a new name to define that kind of marriage which is made of opposite-sex partners, freely chosen, faithfully held, and open to fruitfulness.
  • We refuse to be quiet about saying that it is in the best interests of a child to have both a mother and a father.
  • We refuse to agree with the laughable suggestion that a person can choose their gender. People with gender dysphoria need counselling to treat their disorder, not pandering to affirm their disorder.
  • We refuse to believe the lies that are told about certain other religions.  [The Archdiocesan Media Office has just phoned me and asked me to tone down the paragraph I had previously written here (!!), as they thought I was being inflammatory.]  I will merely refer you to this article, for an indication of what I was driving at.

We Christians should not be afraid to speak the truth.  But the truth must be spoken with love.  We should not be the ones who start war and division, but if others choose to hate us or call us names, this just demonstrates that their arguments are so weak that they have to resort to name-calling.  We should return their hate with unconditional love.  Unconditional love doesn’t mean agreement, but it may mean reaching out with a smile and in friendship.  It may mean being an uncomplaining victim.  I stress the word uncomplaining because we need to model Jesus in this, and not be like all the other victim groups out there in SJW world.  Jesus, even though God incarnate, did not resist persecution, but offered himself up ‘as a lamb to the slaughter’, so that we might be saved from our sinfulness.

God’s love is like a fire: burning up the dross and purifying the world.  This is why Jesus says to us today:

I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already!

 Today’s readings:

Word format: Year C 20th Sunday 2016

Pdf format: Year C 20th Sunday 2016

 


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19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C | Faithful and Wise Stewardship

The Faithful and Wise Steward Jan Luyken Etching Bowyer Bible

The Faithful and Wise Steward, Jan Luyken (1649-1712), etching, Bowyer Bible, Bolton, Greater Manchester, England.

“What sort of steward, then, is faithful and wise enough for the master to place him over his household to give them their allowance of food at the proper time?  Happy that servant if his master’s arrival finds him at this employment.” (Luke 12: 43-44)

This week’s Gospel talks about responsible stewardship.  I want to continue my theme from last week and ask if we are being wise and faithful stewards of our Pastoral Area from Yanchep to Lancelin.  It’s interesting that Jesus says that one of the steward’s jobs is to ‘give them their allowance of food’.  Yes, we can interpret this as referring to the Eucharist, but there is more to following Christ than the Mass and the Eucharist.  Christians need to be fed with the Word of God in Scripture, in excellent and inspirational homilies, and in the practice of the Word.  We need to remember that people leave Churches (or don’t even think of joining a Church) if they are not getting fed, if there is no sense of Communion in action.  They may be longing to see the Word of God being carried out in a communal plan.  We could say that a responsible steward gathers and feeds, but a slothful steward starves and scatters.  One of the signs that Jesus was the Christ, was that he gathered the tribes – he brought together the apostles and gathered a great many other disciples around himself; he took the trouble to heal, to talk to the crowds, to exorcise demons, to get out of his comfort zone par excellence.

One of the ways I was fed this week was through a thought-provoking interview of Andrew Bolt of Sky News by Pastor James Macpherson of Calvary Christian Church.  Bolt makes the point that

Tearing down things is a much easier way of asserting your individuality, your strength, your very existence, than creating something.  For every Leonardo da Vinci, there are ten thousand people that find it quite empowering to put a scratch in his work.

Bolt is an agnostic, but very aware that the popular trend of attacking Christianity will remove many of the freedoms and benefits that Christianity has brought to Western Civilisation.  So right here in our own little pastoral area, we need to be creating, gathering and building, witnessing strongly and not keeping our light under a bushel.  This week we have Census night and one of the questions is about religion.  How good have we been at making a difference to our local area’s Census results on the Catholic faith?

It seems to me that we should be asking (of ourselves) questions like these:

  1. Do the members of the church, under the leadership of the Priest, gather to ask questions like the ones I am asking?
  2. What is the mission of a Pastoral Area? Are we expecting ourselves to grow from a Pastoral Area to a Parish without actually doing any work or having a structured plan?  It seems to me that different members of our Pastoral Area  are carrying out some sort of mission in their own way, but there is no co-ordination of our activities so that we all feel we are working towards a common goal.
  3. Do we discuss how we can witness to Christ in our area, and actually form and document some implementable plans?
  4. Is it enough just to attend Mass, and not have any formal plans for outreach to former parishioners, outreach to the sick, outreach to the wider community, outreach to current members of our church who feel they are not being fed?
  5. Is anyone else, like me, interested in building our sense of Community, being fed through Bible Studies, film nights (I have plenty of inspirational Catholic material) and shared dinners.  Does anyone see that we need to meet together to give each other mutual support, plan for the future, reach out to the community and divide up the work so that we can all be assured that our stewardship duties are being addressed?

I am happy to host a discussion, if only I can find others who are on the same page.  Fellow parishioners or, for that matter, any residents of Yanchep, Guilderton and Lancelin, please let me know what you would like to see done in our Pastoral Area (just reply via the comment box – or phone me (Deirdre) at 0400 660 337).  If you are doing something already, please let us know how you are already contributing.

And do watch the Andrew Bolt interview!

Today’s readings:

Word format: Year C 19th Sunday 2016

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18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C | The Spiritual Equivalent of the Rich Man

Jesus-Christ

Christ Blessing Children (detail), Pacecco de Rosa, 1600-1654, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

“I will say to my soul: ‘My soul, you have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come; take things easy, eat, drink and have a good time.” (Luke 12:19)

If we are not particularly well off, it might be easy for us NOT to identify with the man in the parable in today’s readings.  Or if we are, say, a priest, we might feel that we’re immune from being compared with the rich man in the parable.  But I think Jesus wants us all to have a good hard look at how attached we are to worldly comfort, rather than storing up treasure for ourselves in heaven.

For instance, would it be right for a priest to say, “I offer Mass every day, and I pray the Divine Office,  meditating on every word, so now I can relax and enjoy the other worldly comforts of my life”?  In fact, it is easy for Priests to be somewhat removed from the realities which confront their ordinary parishioners.  No matter how poorly a priest might carry out his job, he receives a guaranteed income from the Archdiocese.  His parishioners who might be running businesses or working for the public or private sector, understand that they only hold their jobs if the business is profitable, or if they are meeting key performance review criteria.  And a business will only be profitable with the dedicated hard work of the employees.  Employers who sit back and cream off the profits created by the efforts of their workforce, breed resentment and will not grow their enterprise with integrity.  When the workers know that the employer doesn’t have any interest in hearing their input, attending to their concerns or being, so to speak, a shepherd to them, they will have little loyalty to the company and will readily seek for employment elsewhere.

So it is, that in our parish life, there are several things that pastors are supposed to be doing to store up their treasure in heaven and to build parish life.  If a pastor says he only has time to say Mass and pray the Divine Office, he has seriously misunderstood his role and responsibilities.  I would ask such a pastor to meditate and reflect on Canon 528 and 529 about the duties of pastors.  It is important for pastors to be aware that parishioners will vote with their feet by walking away to a different parish (or if their faith is wavering, even leaving the Church altogether) if they feel that the pastor is inward-looking, not outward-looking, defensive when questioned, prone to report parishioners who have genuine concerns to the vicar general  for correction, instead of dealing with their concerns courageously and honestly, and with a genuine spirit of humility and self-examination.

When God makes a demand for our souls, will we truly be able to say that we have stored up treasure in heaven and addressed the duties outlined below in our pastoral area?  What example are we setting in the wider community?  Do people see us as a clique turned in on itself, or as people filled with the light of Christ who bring a message of hope, help and outreach to Yanchep, Guilderton and Lancelin?

Here are some excerpts from the duties of pastors according to Canon Law:

PARISHES, PASTORS  AND PAROCHIAL VICARS

Can. 528 §1  … He is to make every effort, even with the collaboration of the Christian faithful, so that the message of the gospel comes also to those who have ceased the practice of their religion or do not profess the true faith.

Can. 528 §2 … The pastor … is bound to watch over [the parish] so that no abuses creep in.

Can. 529 §1.  In order to fulfil his office diligently, a pastor is to strive to know the faithful entrusted to his care.  Therefore he is to visit families, sharing especially in the cares, anxieties and griefs of the faithful, strengthening them in the Lord.  With generous love, he is to help the sick, particularly those close to death, by refreshing them solicitously with the sacraments and commending their souls to God; with particular diligence he is to seek out the poor, the afflicted, the lonely … and similarly those weighed down by special difficulties.  He is to work so that spouses and parents are supported in fulfilling their proper duties and is to foster growth of Christian life in the family.

Can 529 §2 . A pastor is to recognize and promote the proper part which the lay members of the Christian faithful have in the mission of the Church, by fostering their associations for the purpose of religion.

Let’s all pray for our Pastoral Area, that it will be able to carry out its mission with greater faithfulness and zeal for the people of our area to encounter the love of God.

Today’s readings:

Word format: Year C 18th Sunday 2016

Pfd format: Year C 18th Sunday 2016

 

 

 


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17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C | A blueprint for prayer

Abraham-and-the-three-angels-Dore-600x820

Abraham and the Three Angels, Gustav Doré (1832-1883), woodcut.

Have you tried praying?  When people tell me they don’t believe in God, I ask them how much they’ve spoken to God about that.  Why are they so ready to trust their own preconceived ideas on the matter (or is it that deep down, they don’t want God to be true)?  You see, Jesus says in our Gospel today, “How much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”  So go on, ask away.

I don’t want to drone on, so I’ll merely refer you to Bishop Barron’s homily for today’s readings, as well as Brant Pitre’s video presentation here:

Today’s readings

Word format: Year C 17th Sunday 2016

Pdf format: Year C 17th Sunday 2016