Acheiving Holiness

Blogged by Ella Preece 1 Day ago...

Through our participation in the Sacraments particularly in the Eucharist, where we accept God into our very being, our holiness is honed and enriched. The more we choose to set ourselves aside from the world (hagiosyne) and dedicate ourselves to God (hosiotes), trying not to be influenced by for example, secular morality, the more we achieve this holiness. The parable of the talents makes it clear that the more we strive to do God's work the more gifts and graces He bestows on us, helping us to achieve more for His glory. We are justified in our attempts to achieve holiness by our salvation through Christ's Paschal sacrifice, which we partake in through baptism. This “Justification includes the remission of sins, sanctification and the renewal of inner man” and it is that renewal that is the honing of holiness within us. The call to holiness requires us to model our lives on Christ, who separated Himself from worldly ties and persuasions, focusing on God and the mission God had for Him. We must follow this example of separation and focus on the mission God has for us, we must "be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect" and strive to "be holy in all you do"  because we have been told, “the holiness without which no one can ever see the Lord”. God gives us gifts with which we can use to achieve this perfection for us and others, but it is important to remember that what might be a gracious gift from God is intended to be used as a tool... "What God wants is for you all to be holy".

 

It is also important to be aware that “The ways of holiness are many” because of the variety and skills of the laity. We do not have to achieve this holiness by struggling on our own merit, there is a call for "training in holiness", to be adapted to people's needs. The main source of this training can be obtained through deepening our prayer lives. The apostles saw this when they asked "Lord, teach us to pray", but this is not enough on it's own the “primacy of holiness and prayer is inconceivable without a renewed listening to the word of God” which we receive in during the mass. As Christians we strive to live our Christian life in the fullest possible way and are therefore able to live our lives for the glory of God. Though this is no easy task we can strive to achieve it to the best of our abilities, after all as St Gregory of Nyssa states “Christian perfection has but one limit, that of having none”.

Is Holiness only for the Baptised?

Blogged by Ella Preece 4 Days ago...

Is it only the baptised Christians who can take up this call of holiness? Gregory of Nyssa states “An image is not truly an image if it does not possess all the characteristics of the pattern” If God is holiness and if man was created in the image of God, the image of that holiness, then he is set aside from the world (hagiosyne) for God's work (hosiotes), therefore all humanity is called to holiness.

 

When Christ died for the salvation of humanity, He died that all might be saved, we see this in action at Christ's crucifixion when Jesus assures the thief a place in paradise, even though he had not been baptised. Jesus clearly states that Baptism is necessary for salvation, this applies to those who have heard the Good News  and therefore could not refuse themselves this sacrament.

 

There are many people who are unawear of the Gospels but who strive to search for the truth. Gaudium et Spes talks of how God created us in love, inscribing on our hearts a law, the way that brings us to Him. It discusses how man chooses to observe this law that he will be judged. Those who have not heard the Good News, and therefore are not baptised, may still be saved if they truly search for truth and follow the path God calls them on; they may unknowingly become partakers in the Baptism of desire. If one can obtain salvation without having received baptism then as Paul informed the Hebrews without holiness no one will see the Lord We can only conclude that all mankind has been called to holiness because we are all called by God to Himself, which requires all of us to separate ourselves from this world in search of the truth that is God (hagiosyne), in love/desire for Him (hosiotes) whether we are aware that our love is for Him or not.

 

It is important to remember that it is not only those who are baptised Christians whom God has chosen to do His work (it is the Pagan King Cyrus who is chosen to re-build the Temple in Jerusalem). James states faith without works is dead and John states “everybody who does wrong hates the light and avoids it […] the man who lives by the truth comes out into the light […] that what he does is done in God”. Therefore those who do “good works”, who follow those laws God has inscribed on his heart are striving to find the truth that is God.

 

This may mean that even though a baptised Christian may have a fuller understanding of the call to holiness, because “All of us who are human beings are in the image of God, but to be in his likeness belongs only to those who by great love have attached their freedom to God”, that is to say through our baptism the Holy Spirit fulfils this natural call to holiness with a sacramental sign of our separation from the world and dedication to God. There are some who may be ignorant of God's message who still manage to achieve part of that call to holiness without necessarily realising it!

 

Because “we are God's work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning he had meant us to live it”, it is therefore imperative that those who are baptised Christians take up the call to evangelization and being witnesses of the faith seriously, as we understand more fully the call to holiness which encompasses the whole of humanity. It is our duty as part of the covenant we have undertaken that we make sure our family, friends, work colleagues and strangers on the street are aware of the holiness we are all called to.

Baptism makes us holy

Blogged by Ella Preece 1 Week ago...

The “call to holiness is rooted in Baptism”, through our Baptism we are united to the Body of Christ. Baptism removes Original Sin, which ties us to the world. The removal of Original Sin separates us from the world (hagiosyne) making us adopted children of God (hosiotes); we are renewed and guided by the Holy Spirit. By accepting this covenant with God we must take up the call to holiness and act upon it, it would not make sense to say that you wished to be a member of God's family being set apart for His glory but then reject the call to holiness by not wishing to be set aside for Him. “It is the whole of [human] nature, extending from the beginning to the end [of history], that constitutes the one image of Him who is”. Though it seems we are individual members we make up the one body of Christ, it is this ontological unity which unites our attempts to achieve holiness with that of all the members, thus achieving holiness for one and all.

The universal call to holiness

Blogged by Ella Preece 1 Week ago...

 

"This is the will of God, your sanctification" (1 Th 4:3). It is a duty which concerns not only certain Christians but "All the Christian faithful, of whatever state or rank, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity"”.

 

In his letter on the universal call to holiness Pope John Paul II reminds us that all Christians, what ever their position or circumstances in life are called to holiness through living their Christian lives by devoting themselves entirely for God and striving to remove themselves from worldly influences, in particular honing the fruit of the spirit charity.

 

The call to holiness is not something that is a personal thing, in fact it is assumed that the lay faithful play a fundamental part in “fulfilling the mission of salvation within the Church”. It is through the variety of gifts and talents that are bestowed on individual members that regardless of “rank or status [we] are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity".

 

This call requires us to place our focus on God, to do God's will by not being influenced by worldly demands, but separating ourselves from the world (hagiosyne) by living our lives for God in the way God intended. We do this by placing our trust in Him, giving ourselves to Him (hosiotes). Through our redemption through Christ we cannot refuse this call, as Mother Teresa stated "Holiness is not a luxury; it is a necessity."

Jack Regan was Lying

Blogged by James Preece 3 Weeks ago...

Jack Regan - founder of CatholicYouthWork.com, advisor for Youth Ministry for the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, CYMFed member, Flame Congress organiser... takes time out of his busy schedule to shed a bit of light on days gone by...

I ran a Catholic website for years (not huge - but the biggest within its own sector) and had to do battle with bloggers. One in particular, who virtually stalked the site. I even invented a pseudonym who could do battle with him while I maintained my 'okay, calm down everybody...' administrator demeanour. It worked a treat. Definitely not a tactic I'm proud of, but alas, that was the Catholic web back then. My moderators told me time and again just to kick him off, but I felt he could be reasoned with and persuaded by sound argument. I was very wrong.

...

No, the blogger I refer to was a lad from up north somewhere. He's long gone now (I assume?

[link]

So basically, he lied.  He pretended to be two people when he was only one person.  He told me one thing with one mask on and another thing with another mask on.  Note that despite the lying, I was the bad guy.  Got it?

He's not proud, but that was the Catholic web back then... Ah yes, back then - when, er, lying was okay... apparently?

When Jack Regan tells you I "stalked his site" what he means is that I visited and contributed to the discussions that were going on.  I'm a dad with three kids who helps to run a weekly parish youth group - is it not reasonable for me to join in with a forum called "CatholicYouthWork.com"?

When Jack Regan tells you that he felt I could be reasoned with and persuaded by sound argument but that he very wrong, what he means is that he never had a sound argument in the first place.  His argument always was (and remains) de force majeure.  He never tells me I'm wrong, he just explains that I'm not going to win because nobody cares about blogs any more.

This is how Jack tells it..

For a period (circa 2008-2009) the blogs wielded a fair bit of power.

...

The very thought of being 'blogged about' sent planning meetings at Eccleston Square and other places (I was in many, albeit in a very junior capacity!) into a real tailspin.

...

Sometime around 2010, somebody a bit more level-headed did a study in to how much influence the blogs actually had. The reported verdict (quickly spread) was that your average blog (like the one stalking my site) was being read by about as many people as your average parish newsletter.

...

After that, the atmosphere quickly changed. In 2012 I was in a planning meeting at Eccleston Square for a national event and somebody mentioned the prospect of being 'blogged' about and asked if that spectre should change our approach. The chair dismissed the comment with a quick "Oh, nobody cares about the blogs any more", and that was that. Three years later, when the same event came around, blogs weren't even mentioned.

...

The blogger who had stalked my site tried his best, bless him, but nobody really noticed. By that stage, the people running that event had their comms well sorted and the blogger was basically throwing stones at a battleship.

[link]

Note - the people at the planning meeting don't seem particularly concerned about whether they are doing anything wrong.  They know they are doing something wrong.  When somebody raises the prospect of being blogged about - they already know they have something they would rather the world not see.

The decision made had nothing to do with the rightness or wrongness - they only established that since "nobody cares about the blogs any more" it would be okay to do the thing and get away with it.  They are like whited sepulchres - who on the outside have got their comms sorted but on the inside are filled with dead men's bones.

Truth Jack? What is that?

Pope Francis: Continue the Good Work in the Liturgy

Blogged by James Preece 2 Months ago...

Pope Francis asked Cardinal Robert Sarah “to continue the good work in the liturgy begun by Pope Benedict XVI”..

In his message to the Sara Liturgia USA Conference in New York, which began on Monday, the Guinean Cardinal said: “When the Holy Father, Pope Francis, asked me to accept the ministry of Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, I asked: ‘Your Holiness, how do you want me to exercise this ministry? What do you want me to do as Prefect of this Congregation?’ The Holy Father’s reply was clear. ‘I want you to continue to implement the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council,’ he said, ‘and I want you to continue the good work in the liturgy begun by Pope Benedict XVI.’”

[link]

That would be the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council that said..

"the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites"

"steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them"

"The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services"

[Sacrosanctum Concillium]

And Pope Benedict XVI who said..

What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.  It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.

[link]

Looks like Cardinal Sarah is going to be a busy man!

Same Old Same Old..

Blogged by James Preece 2 Months ago...

GK Chesterton writing almost a decade ago...

“A generation is now growing old, which never had anything to say for itself except that it was young. It was the first progressive generation – the first generation that believed in progress and nothing else…. [They believed] simply that the new thing is always better than the old thing; that the young man is always right and the old wrong. And now that they are old men themselves, they have naturally nothing whatever to say or do. Their only business in life was to be the rising generation knocking at the door. Now that they have got into the house, and have been accorded the seat of honour by the hearth, they have completely forgotten why they wanted to come in. The aged younger generation never knew why it knocked at the door; and the truth is that it only knocked at the door because it was shut. It had nothing to say; it had no message; it had no convictions to impart to anybody…. The old generation of rebels was purely negative in its rebellion, and cannot give the new generation of rebels anything positive against which it should not rebel. It is not that the old man cannot convince young people that he is right; it is that he cannot even convince them that he is convinced. And he is not convinced; for he never had any conviction except that he was young, and that is not a conviction that strengthens with years.”

- G.K. Chesterton, Illustrated London News of July 9, 1921

I used to say "Fight them!" but now I can only say pray for them.

h/t The Anchoress

Pope Francis: Time for Parents to Resume their Educational Role

Blogged by James Preece 3 Months ago...

Pope Francis has been talking about the educational role of parents..

It would seem like an obvious statement, there are difficulties still in our times. It is hard to educate when parents only see their children in the evening, when they come home tired from work.

[...]

Above all, the question is: how should we educate? What tradition do we have today to pass on to our children?

Intellectual “critics” of every kind have silenced parents in countless ways, in order to protect the younger generations from the damage — real or presumed — of family education. The family stands accused, among other things, of being authoritarian, of favoritism, of conformism, of the emotional repression that generates conflict.

In fact, a rift has opened up between the family and society, between the family and school, the educational pact today has been broken; and thus, the educational alliance between society and the family is in crisis because mutual trust has been undermined. There are many symptoms. For example, at school relationships between parents and teachers have been compromised. At times there is tension and mutual distrust; and naturally, the consequences fall on the children. On the other hand, the number of so-called “experts” has multiplied, and they have assumed the role of parents in even the most intimate aspects of education. With regard to emotional life, personality and development, rights and duties, these “experts” know everything: objectives, motivations, techniques. And parents must simply listen, learn and adapt.

[...]

They tend to entrust them more and more to the “experts”, even in the most delicate and personal aspects of their lives, putting themselves alone in a corner; and thus parents today run the risk of excluding themselves from the lives of their children. And this is very grave!

[...]

It is clear that this approach is not good: it is not harmony, it is not dialogue, and rather than fostering cooperation between the family and other educational agencies, schools, gymnasiums... it counteracts it.

[...]

Christian communities are called to offer support to the educational mission of families, and they do this first of all with the light of the Word of God.

[...]

I hope that the Lord bestows on Christian families the faith, freedom and courage necessary for their mission. If family education rediscovers the pride of its leadership, many things will change for the better, for uncertain parents and for disappointed children. It is time for fathers and mothers to return from their exile — for they have exiled themselves from their children’s upbringing — and to fully resume their educational role. We hope that the Lord gives this grace to parents: to not exile themselves from the education of their children. And this can only be done with love, tenderness and patience.

[link]

I sometimes read those "Section 48" reports (e.g. St Marys College, Hull PDF) that Middlesbrough Diocese (and others?) do on the "Catholic Life" our local Catholic Schools and they are always telling me how wonderful everything is...

Throughout the report are bullet points such as "How well do pupils respond to and participate in the school’s Collective Worship" which are individually graded and make up the overall score.  You will note that not a single one of these bullet points mentions parents at all.  The extent to which Catholic Schools work with parents is not even being inspected never mind fixed.

Familiaris Consortio tells us that "schools must never forget that the parents have been appointed by God Himself as the first and principal educators of their children" but for some reason the Section 48 inspectors don't seem very interested in who God has appointed as first and principal educators so they have an entire section on "Leaders, Managers and Governors" instead.

I'm not kidding. Why is there no section for "How well do staff respond to and participate in parent's attempts to be the first and principal educators of their children"?

There really should be.

 

h/t Catholic Culture.org