Marriage: A Vocation

Blogged by James Preece 4 Days ago...

A vocation is a calling to make a sacrifice of our lives and follow Christ and Marriage is a way of doing this.

Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church

[Ephesians 5:25-29]

All Christians are called to follow Christ and Paul explains that our Marriage is a way of following Jesus by giving up our lives for others. Men and women are treated differently, but both are asked to make sacrifices.

Marriage is not a system for deciding who gets to make the decisions, it is a radical decision to give up ones life for another. Anybody saying “it's not fair, why should I be subject to Him?” has missed the point.

Am I living my marriage as a vocation, as a way of making a sacrifice of my life like Christ did on the cross. Do I obey my husband? Do I love my wife as Christ loves the Church?

All Christians are called to a life of following Jesus and making sacrifices of our lives. Marriage is a way of doing this, it's not a case of “I'm not called to priesthood so I'll 'just' get married”.

Dolche and Gabanna are wrong..

Blogged by James Preece 1 Week ago...

I remain perplexed.

One moment I'm being lectured about the unique talents women bring to the table, that companies with more women on the board tend to perform better and how the government ought to impose quotas on the number of female MPs.

The next moment I'm being told that in the family, the number of women involves is absolutely insignificant.  Women being nothing to the table.  Two men can themselves up as Mr and Mr Dad and only a nasty bigot would dare suggest that something is missing from the equation.

So I've got some sympathy for Stefano Gabanna (of Dolche & Gabanna) when he says.. "I am opposed to the idea of a child growing up with two gay parents." "A child needs a mother and a father. I could not imagine my childhood without my mother. I also believe that it is cruel to take a baby away from its mother."

However, this is where we part company.

Let me be clear: Children born through IVF are innocent children, they didn't choose their parents or the manner of their birth.  Dehumanising them with labels such as "chemical offsprings" "children of chemistry" "synthetic children" is seriously out of order. 

God loves those children. Elton John is wrong about a great many things, but he is not wrong to be upset about this.  What a thoroughly stupid thing to say.

I firmly believe that a child needs a mother and a father, but with friends like Dolche and Gabanna - who needs enemies?

Stations of the Cross

Blogged by James Preece 1 Week ago...

Just returned from a great night at the West Hull Parishes Youth Club.

Tonight it was the young people's turn to lead the Stations of the Cross.  Even the younger primary schooly ones read short passages for each station and I got a proud dad moment when Leona read her piece.  It was really good to see the older teenagery ones helped coordinate things giving them nudges to go up and shuffling the microphone up and down so they could be heard.  No adult intervention required.

At first sight, Stations is so boring and repetitive. Read, pray sing. Read pray sing. Repeat fourteen times. Blah, blah, blah.. but the kids seem to really go with it.  Maybe it's the handy progress bar telling you you've done 12 of 14 and it's almost over... but I think a lot of it is in the events described.  Even quite young children know something serious is going on and it seems to draw them in.  It's a compelling narative and a powerful evangelisation tool.

Anyways... Flame organisers.  Now you know what to do next time... :)

How to Give Atheists the Chance to Give God a Chance

Blogged by James Preece 2 Weeks ago...

John C Wright writes..

There are two ways to reach the rational atheist. First, every honest man has something he holds as his highest good, a paramount value or principle or rule of life which serves him in the place of God. The rational atheist will give God a chance once he realizes that his paramount value is arbitrary and irrational in a universe where there is no God.

Second, the rational atheist, if the arguments are put before him, will come to see that the Christian worldview was as worthy of respect as the worldview of Aristotle or Confucius or that of any other pagan sage or philosopher. This can only be done by Christians being willing, as Lewis and Chesterton were, of supporting the reasons behind Christianity.

And, once he sees this, he will see that only monotheism can support the highest value he regards as valuable.

The way to cure ignorance is through knowledge.

The ignorance of the atheist has seven very powerful allies keeping him blind: lust, gluttony, avarice, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. We for our part have very powerful allies shining light in that darkness, brighter than the lightningbolt:

The first is justice: no coherent account of life can truly be erected on a logically consistent atheist foundation. A fair examination of the various worldviews offered to the modern man will always award the Christian view the laurel.

The second is prudence: the atheist culture, and the atheist man, have no means to avoid floundering in the mire of lust and powerlust, lust of the eyes and the ratsace of chasing after material possessions, which, in the long run, never bring the satisfaction at first glance they seem to promise.

The third is fortitude: no atheist can stare without flinching into the utter abyss of the infinite death that confronts him, death that will one say consume wife, children, nation, race, and the whole earth.

We Christians can rejoice in the smallness of the Earth in the cosmic scheme of things for the same reason we rejoice in the humbleness of our prince being born in a smelly stable in the remotest corner of the Empire, or the humiliation of a god suffering the death of a slave.

But the atheist can only be aghast at the smallness of all human efforts: we live on a speck of dust circling a medium sized star in the smallest Arm of the Milky Way. The Andromeda Galaxy is ten times our size, and will collide with us in three billion years. At that point in time, there will be no record of anything you can name, for even the constellations will be gone. The atheist can be an atheist only one of two ways: by pretending to possess a philosophical stoicism in the face of death which no real person can long maintain, or by pretending to be a philistine who ignores the grand scheme of things to concentrate on pleasures and distractions, growing ever more frustrated as they pall.

And atheism is terribly lonely. There is no companionship with anything other than frail and treasonous fellow man to look to for comfort. There is no forgiveness.

The final is temperance: the fact of the matter is that human beings do not have the power, by exercise of their own self control, to live happy, prosperous, virtuous and peaceful lives. If we all lived like Mother Theresa of Calcutta, lives of incomprehensible joy in the face of suffering, we could conquer the current world order just as our ancestors conquered the Roman Empire, without ever drawing a sword or raising a fist in our own defense.

So much for the rational atheist.

The irrational atheist does not doubt God but instead hates him. This leaves the irrational atheist free to indulge in every vice and sin their darkened hearts can conceive, and indulge in every slander the Church the dishonest imagination can supply, or otherwise their hatred cannot be maintained.

The only way hatred of God can be eroded is by love.

You, my fellow Christians, must be willing and able, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to live lives so remarkable for your charity and love and peace and joy that the irrational atheist will be shocked and surprised and ask you about your source of joy.

You have to live lives he envies, without abortion, without divorce, without the sins that create such misery.

Read the full thing here.

CYMFED Flame 2: A Participant's View

Blogged by James Preece 2 Weeks ago...

A reader who attended the Flame 2 event writes..

This event seemed like a box ticking exercise rather then something that is authentically evangelising our young people.

Here are my concerns with Flame 2 after attending the event at Wembley:

  • The speakers seem to more reflect the likes and theology of the organisers rather then being picked for their dynamism for communicating the Catholic faith authentically to young people.
  • The line up for Flame 2 was the same old liberal ‘circuit’ speakers and fronted by unethical organisations such as CAFOD that dominate youth events with boring platitudes without proclaiming the truths of the faith. (Of course this is all done under the guise that they are meeting young people where they are at)
  • Throughout the event there was a sentimental notion of mercy and joy divorced from the proclamation of the gospel of repentance.
  • In fact the language of sin, repentance and interior conversion was completely missing from the event.
  • Substitution of youth ministry ‘buzzwords’ throughout the event for the Word of God and the teaching of the Church.

There's a young man I occasionally converse with about religion who will often bring objections and arguments about the truth of the faith.  We talk a bit and he will often concede that his arguments are not very convincing and it's likely there is something in it.

Then he says... "I'm sure God will forgive me though, if I'm wrong" because his Catholic education has taught this young man only one thing - that God (if He exists) doesn't care at all how people live..  That the message of Christianity is "do whatever makes you happy and God will clean up the mess afterwards".

Sadly, the mess is all to real because sin ends up being it's own reward.  I'm old enough now to know plenty of people in their twenties say "I'm sure God will forgive me" turn in to people in their thirties saying "why did God let these things happen to me?".

The truth is that God does care and not because He is an authoritarian monster who likes bossing people around but because His will really is what is best for us. When we live in opposition to his will, we put ourselves in harms way. 

So yes, God's mercy is real - just like hospitals are real.  But if it's all the same to you, I'd rather my children be taught how to look both ways before they cross the road.

CYMFED Flame 2

Blogged by James Preece 2 Weeks ago...

Let's be honest, I had totally forgotten Flame 2 was even happening until one of you got in touch to ask me what I thought about it...   Hmm, well. What can I say that I didn't say last time? 

I'm sure it was wonderful if you like this sort of thing..

From what I can see on Twitter.. the professional youth entertainers put on a show and the target audience were suitably entertained.  I've not heard any reports of really bad teaching so far - it seems Fr Timothy Radcliffe said that adoration is not "sun bathing" it's more like "son bathing"..

Maybe if the whole Risen Christ, Rising Sun thing catches on there might be a wild new movement to direct our worship towards the East where the sun rises. Oriented eastwards, towards the orient... Ad Orientem if you will.. Har Har.

Anyways..

If you want to understand the above then you have to understand that all across the country there are Catholic Schools and many of those schools are populated by lapsed kids from lapsed families who probably only got their child baptised to get in to the school.

The whole "Catholic Ethos" thing suits the school very well because it attracts the sort of parents who show an interest in their child's education and the great big secret no school wants you to find out is that having parents who give a monkeys about your education is a pretty good indicator of outcomes in examinations.

So.. keeping the whole Catholic thing going makes good business sense, but how to do it? None of the teachers are Catholic, the local clergy are too busy.. What are they do?  Well, they do what any business does - they hire somebody.

Enter the "Catholic Youth Worker" or "Lay Chaplain" if you will.  Find yourself a twenty-something and send them off to do quasi-liturgical-assembly thingies with impressionable young people.  Don't get me wrong - many (even most) Catholic Youth Workers are lovely people, but their role is about using a budget to fill a hole and tick a box.

Happily enough it's not only Catholic Schools who need to tick a box.. the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and wales must also be seen to be doing something.  Which is why every now and then professional Catholics across the country are encouraged to pack their handy captive audiences in to a coach or two and take them off to the latest big noisy musical dancy fun joy day.

With adoration.. because it looks really good in the photographs and you can use Our Lord as a human shield if any traddies write any blog posts. But James! They had adoration!

So, there you have it.  There's my thoughts.  That's what it's all about.  Photo opportunity for Bishops and Schools to make themselves look good.  Youth workers and smiley young people manipulated.

Now we can all go on pretending there are no problems in the Church for another couple of years..

..I wonder what happens when the money runs out?

Marriage: For Life

Blogged by James Preece 1 Month ago...

Jesus forbids divorce.  The Pharisies tried to trick Jesus on this matter but Jesus brings them back to the words of Genesis...

Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, `For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder." They said to him, "Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?" He said to them, "For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery."

Marriage may have been broken by sin, but Jesus has raised it to a sacrament and shown how it should be. Marriage may be broken and hard, but by making Marriage a sacrament Jesus gives us gifts to help us.

If you are not Married yet - Think. Pray. Make sure your future partner understands Marriage in the same way you do. In the mean time – be faithful to the promises you do make.

Broken Down

Blogged by James Preece 2 Months ago...

About a year ago our washing machine broke down and I ended up paying a man to come around and fix it.  I watched as he undid about three screws, removed a pump thingy and extracted the childs toy. £30 please.

A week later it happened again.. the same problem, the same funny noise.  I undid the screws and took the pump out myself and fixed the washing machine.  I felt like I must have committed some kind of copyright infringement because I had stolen the idea and saved £30.

Now I discover you can locate pretty much any kind of washing machine repair on YouTube.  How is the washing machine repair industry going to survive if people are uploading all the fixes to fix sharing sites?

Well... a few days ago the machine broke again.  This time we could hear the motor running but the drum was not turning.  I guessed that perhaps a belt thingy had broken and when I removed a few screws I turned out to be correct.  I was able to acquire a replacement belt from a local purveyor of parts and had the washing machine up and running in time for lunch.

Not a bad days work.  I was feeling pretty manly. Like I'm some kind of mechanical ninja.

Shame then that during the next wash water started drip drip dripping out from underneath the machine.  I trace the leak to leaky drum brearings.  Now I'm really on a roll.

Only I'm not.  It turns out that replacing drum bearings means removing the drum and that means removing several tubes and the drawer frame thingy and the circuit board and most of the electrics.  It's a big job and I don't have time.

So.. We've put some old towels back there and we're going to live with the drip drip drip until the machine finally dies because I don't really want to replace a machine that totally works except for a few drips.  I'm a run it in to the ground kind of guy.  

Is there a moral to the story? Does there have to be?

I'm just keeping you in the loop...