Fides, non sola fides.

keep calm

I recently subscribed to a blog called “A Renewed Life.”
It is run by one of my fellow bloggers from Blogging Your Passion University.
Tawnya from “A Renewed Life” has been writing about memorising Scripture, and here is the passage I’ve been learning.

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

I recently bought an Ignatius New Testament Study Bible, and despite my youngest’s best attempts to scribble on, smear or otherwise deface it, the book is still legible on every page. Here’s what one of the editors, the famous Scott Hahn, had to say about Romans 5.

fides, spes, caritas

fides, spes, caritas

The justified are endowed with theological virtues.
By faith they live in peace with God and have access to his grace;
in hope, they long for the glory of God that awaits them;
and through love, they show that the charity of the Spirit dwells in their hearts.
Equipped in this way, believers can become more like Christ through endurance and suffering.

Ecumenism – God’s desire for unity among Christians

St. John the evangelist

Today is the Feast of St. John the Evangelist.

John referred to himself as ‘the one whom Jesus loved’, and it was St. John who gives us such great insight into the heart of Jesus, through his gospel, and especially through his account of Our Lord’s discourse during the Last Supper.

In Chapter 17 of St. John’s gospel, he records Jesus’ prayer for his church, which is very appropriate at this time of year, when we talk so much about peace and brotherhood. The entire chapter focuses on Jesus’ request to the Father that ‘all should be one’, which will be a sign to the world that Jesus is truly the Son of God, and His message is to be received because of that unity.

“…The glory which you have given me I have given to them,
that they may be one even as we are one,
I in them and you in me,
that they may become perfectly one,
so that the world may know that you have sent me
and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:22-23)

This says so much to us about Christian unity.

Jesus desires our unity, our becoming one, not only as a father desires that his children are kind to one another, and respect one another, but because this unity will be a sign to all unbelievers that Christianity is true, that God is true, that Scripture is indeed a true record of both God’s revelation of Himself to us and of the historical life of the Man-God, Jesus Christ.

This passage elevates our search for Christian unity from merely being a desire which is close to the hearts of many Christians, simply because it is close to God’s heart, to what must become an incessant search and a driving force in our lives – even if only in our prayer-lives. God desires our unity, but also demands and requires it – He gives Christian unity as a pre-requisite for the conversion of the entire world.

Christian unity is not something that is to be easily found.

The obstacles to unity are very great, on a personal level, and on a formal level.

Perhaps this quote from Isaiah could be seen as prophecy, or a promise that we will one day be united:

“Therefore says the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the House of Jacob:
‘Jacob shall no more be ashamed,
no more shall his face grow pale.
For when he sees his children,
the work of my hands, in his midst,
they will sanctify my name;
they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob,
and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.
And those who err in spirit will come to understanding,
and those who murmur will accept instruction.” (Isaiah 29: 22-24)

And it is St. John to whom we look for the antidote to disunity: we must become like the Apostle of Love and be known for our great love for one another.

We must focus on what we have in common – if we focus on the obstacles, then we will lose heart, because the obstacles are too great.

God has assured us that He Himself will open our eyes and ears and create unity, so that we will sanctify His name in unison.

In the meantime, our task is to love one another ‘in humility.’

Last Supper

The Interior Advent

There will be two posts today; The Interior Advent is about our relationship with the Lord, and the Business Update will add a little to the story of setting up my online business.

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The Interior Advent.

Pope John Paul II continues to be a source of inspiration, as I read through his book, ‘Prayers and Devotions.’ There is a meditation for every day of the year – some follow the Liturgical year, as these Advent posts show you, others simply study various facets of our lives as Christians, eg work, family, leisure. Today’s meditation picks up a common thread which runs between the Incarnation, the Second Coming, and our own personal lives, causing us to remember that we are both uniquely formed and loved by God, and also part of a worldwide fellowship of God’s beloved.

John Paul begins by quoting St. Bernard:

” ‘In the first coming, the Word was seen on earth and mingled with mankind, when, as He himself affirmed, they saw Him and hated Him. In the last coming, every person shall see the salvation of God, and they shall look on Him Whom they have pierced. But the intermediate coming is occult (hidden), in it only the elect shall see Him within themselves, and their souls are thereby saved.’

This Interior Advent is brought to life through constant meditation on and assimilation of the Word of God.It is rendered fruitful and animated by prayer of adoration and praise of God. It is reinforced by constant reception of the Sacraments, those of Reconciliation and the Eucharist in particular, for they cleanse and enrich us with the grace of Christ, and make us ‘new’ in accordance with Jesus’ pressing call: ‘Be converted.’

“In view of this, every day can and ought become Advent for us Christians. It can and ought become Christmas! For the more we purify our souls, the more we shall make room for God in our hearts, the more Christ will be able to come and be born in us!”

Defending Our Freedoms

“Once, at the beginning of his story, man, male and female, heard the voice of temptation: “You will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad” (Gen 3:5). Man yielded to that temptation. He continues to follow it constantly.”

Advent meditation by JPII in “Prayers in Devotions.”

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The Federal government in Australia is considering a new legislation that has the potential to severely limit the rights of its citizens to freedom of speech and religion.

The proposed ‘Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Act 2012’ states that criticism of the government voiced in the workplace could lead to a lawsuit, if that criticism offends a listener. We are well on the way to being persecuted for speaking only the truth, perhaps even for merely questioning or speculating about some motive or action of our leaders.

An even more worrying aspect of the proposal is that the burden of proof will lie with the accused i.e.we will be guilty until proven innocent – which is the polar opposite of the principal which has underpinned our justice system for over two hundred years – that we are innocent until proven guilty.

A very expensive detention centre was recently built in Tasmania. It was intended to house some of the hundreds of refugee ‘boat people’ who arrive in Australia every year, fleeing from unimaginable suffering in their native countries. Since the Australian government has arranged to send most of these poor people to detention in Malaysia, one wonders if those unused Australian centres will one day house our own citizens, if the jails begin to overflow with people whose only crime has been to speak the truth according to their conscience.

At least no-one can ever take away our freedom to pray against injustice.

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“Against man’s perennial temptation, we must set the Advent of Christ; we must be born of God and incessantly reborn of Him”

(Ibid.)

Prayer inspired by Darcy’s baptism.

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“Thank you Lord Jesus for making little Darcy a new creation in You.
Thank you for gathering us together:
your faithful Catholic children,
your lapsed Catholic children,
your faithful Protestant children,
your lapsed Protestant children,
your children of no faith,
your lonely atheists,
and your poor, lost children.
All were there in gratitude to You, who has given another child to the world.
And all witnessed Your authority, as that little one was born again with water and the Holy Spirit in baptism.
Please make us all grow in grace and never be lost. Amen.”

Follow Me, Don’t Follow Me

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I like the song, “Orange Crush,” and REM was one of the bands I recommended to my teenagers years ago when they began to be interested in contemporary music. At home, I had usually played Gregorian chant and classical music, but I knew there would come a day when they would want to listen to the music of the world, as most ordinary teenagers do. I thought that if I took some interest in what listened to, then I might decrease the chances of having heavy metal and highly offensive lyrics enter their lives.

But that’s not what this post is about – I wanted to talk about the concept of ‘following.’ I have a few ‘followers’ now, after blogging for about eight weeks and it feels nice, as well as being somewhat surprising. What do I have to say that hasn’t been said before, or isn’t being said somewhere else? Well, nothing really. There is no new revelation, either in spiritual matters or in the material world. The ancient Greeks noticed that there were a handful of stories that repeated themselves over and over, but, those stories are still happening and people are still writing about them.

Perhaps the one thing that changes is the language, and the talent that a writer has for making a story or character relevant to us.Perhaps each writer is destined to ‘speak’ to a limited number of ‘followers’ so that every listener hears their story spoken in their own ‘language.’

There is one story that resonates with every person, that is God’s ‘Love Story’, and only one Person that deep in our hearts we are all yearning to follow; that is Jesus Christ.

He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Our lives are the story of how we follow Him, whether that be closely, remotely, consciously, unknowingly.

May your story reflect your love of God and may you follow Him, the source of all Good, all the days of your life.

And may God bless little Darcy today, as he enters the Church through Baptism; a new follower and a new page in the storybook of life.

Road to Somewhere…

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I want to tell you about an experience I had with loneliness today.

My husband, Dave, has never really enjoyed attending Mass with the whole family – he says it is too hard to concentrate with all the children there, so we usually go to different Masses on Sunday. I would prefer that we all went together, but that’s the way it is for now. He was planning some chores and couldn’t watch the little ones for me, so I would be taking eight children, plus my married daughter and the new baby.

Well, you can imagine what preparing for Mass looks like at my home – and I don’t mean prayers and fasting! Some days we manage quite well, but today was not one of those days. Lost shoes, mismatching clothes, unwashed faces, funky socks-we had it all. I know the Lord doesn’t mind what we wear, or how we look, but I’ve always tried to make sure that my family doesn’t reinforce the negative stereotypes that people often have about large families, such as grinding poverty, poor hygiene, and a frazzled mother. (I certainly promoted that last one this morning…) And I felt quite abandoned by my spouse, although the task of preparing the children definitely falls within my job description!

So, we made it to Mass, ON TIME, somehow, settled ourselves with our prayers, and then….my two-year-old began to play up. Squirming, climbing, wriggling and ‘no-no-ing’, all the usual antics and more. We lasted until the first few lines of the homily, then I knew I had to beat it. The priest’s opening words had been about how the faithful always find God in the wilderness, so I took that with me to ponder outside the church, in the garden, that retreat of so many parents.

By this time, I was feeling even lonelier than ever – I was OUTSIDE that wonderful event that was taking place INSIDE the church. It’s not as though this has never happened to me in my long career as a mother, but I felt the isolation keenly this time. And it’s not as though the Trinity is trapped inside any human building, or that the graces of the Mass would fail to apply to me, but there was little consolation in these thoughts.

I sat and watched my toddler run and climb as she desperately tried to get my attention, when I began to realise what was happening to me. You might be a bit smarter than I am, and have worked it out already: of course, I was not alone. None of us are. Even if we are far from the Lord due to our sinfulness, He is not far from us, because He loves us. He simply wants us to need Him more than anything else.

And I realised why we have to experience the wilderness if we want to experience the Lord: It’s because we have to first know loneliness before God can assure us that we are not alone, or maybe we wouldn’t appreciate it, just as we had to feel the weight of our sins before we began to seek the Lord and beg Him to redeem us.

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