Category Archives: Christianity

The Mystery of Miracles

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For me, the mystery of miracles is not the how or the why of miracles themselves but why they are so ignored.  There are miracles happening all around the world all the time.  How is it that we never hear about genuine miracles like healings at Lourdes or scientifically-tested Eucharistic miracles in the mass media?  We see plenty of people on news reports saying things like “It was a miracle…” but we don’t seem to be expected to believe that God had anything to do with it.  When people hear about miracles they mostly seem to just shrug it off. ‾\_(ツ)_/‾

I know someone who, decades ago, cried out to God in extremis and was answered in abundance.  When our prayers are answered they are often answered with overflowing generosity, as at the wedding at Cana.  I know that this person was relieved and thankful that her prayer had been answered but she didn’t respond in kind.  She did what many people do.  She treated it as a welcome anomaly and then got on with life as usual.  People often only turn to God when they want something.  As Our Lord says in Chapter 6 of John’s Gospel:

Amen, amen I say to you, you seek me, not because you have seen miracles, but because you did eat of the loaves, and were filled.  Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto life everlasting, which the Son of man will give you.

Shouldn’t miracles prompt at least a little curiosity or a desire to do something in thanksgiving?  When a hardened heart is granted a miracle or is a witness to one, it is a call and an opportunity for that heart to respond.  God loves us so much, shouldn’t we try to love Him in return?  When we witness or hear about a miracle, we shouldn’t shrug it off, we should get curious.  The Lord is reaching out to us.

I leave you with this link to a beautifully-written, moving story of what happened to a sick little boy after a trip to Lourdes.  The writer (his mother) is not claiming that this is a miracle healing but it certainly sounds like a miraculous transformation to me.  Here are some excerpts:

Before his pilgrimage, at almost eighteen months old, Oscar was functionally stalled at a developmental level between three and nine months…

Within a week of returning home, however, we had appointments with his physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, and neurologist, … I didn’t say anything about the remarkable changes I had noticed in Oscar. I didn’t need to. Every person who knows him well and has spent time with him this month has commented that he is markedly different.

… By the end of the hour, she [the physical therapist] told me, “I’m a little freaked out.”

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Icon O’Class

Here is a photo of most* of the participants of the recent icon course at Knock, Ireland.  The teacher is the tall guy in the middle at the back, and I’m third from right at the front (with my red painting pinny still on).

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*A couple of people had to leave early so they didn’t make it into the group photo.

Here is a photo of my icon after I touched it up a little at home.

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I have since coated it with a thin protective layer.  I have to wait at least six months for the tempera to harden before I can varnish it and protect it properly.  I will probably hang it on the wall to dry so that the cats don’t get at it.

My First Icon

I was on an icon course this past week.  The teacher, Theodoros Papadopoulos, came all the way over from Greece and he was excellent.  He managed to get a packed room full of people of very different skill levels to produce a difficult icon despite coming down with a cold.  We worked for six days from about nine in the morning until after six with about forty-five minutes for lunch.  Sometimes we stayed later in the evenings.  It was very intensive and we were feeling a bit fatigued by the end.  One poor lady had a funny turn on the last day, and Theodoros had to help her finish the icon.  Despite the intensive pace I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and would do it again in a heartbeat.  I’m sure the others would agree with me.  Some people had come all the way from the U.S. and one was a Chilean living in Ireland.  Anyway, enough waffle, let me show you some photos:

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More on the Papal Correction

What do you think Leo XIII meant when he wrote, in the exorcism prayer he composed after his alleged vision of St. Michael: “In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be scattered”? Are you familiar with this passage?

Yes, I discovered it right after Amoris Laetitia came out, and it surprised me very much because, frightening as it was, it seemed to be a perfect picture of the situation. I think no fictional writer could have imagined this and it’s a true prophecy which is unfolding now. No one could have imagined that this prophecy would really come true (at some moment that paragraph was thought so incredible that it was even deleted from the St. Michael Prayer in official texts), but I think what Leo XIII was describing is coming true.

It is important to add that this is not a moral judgment about the Pope. I think the Pope and his counsellors — for example Fr. Spadaro, whom I got to know when I was a young student in Rome — are in fact good people. I believe they are well intentioned. Pope Francis is charismatic and has many human and Christian virtues, so of course many people tend to believe him. But this is precisely what creates more confusion and so behind all of this there is a truly diabolical trick.

Excerpt from interview with Prof. Claudio Pierantoni, one of the lay scholars who helped shape the filial correction.

Michaelmas

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defence against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls.

Amen.

A Psalm of Life

BY HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

What the Heart of the Young Man Said to the Psalmist

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
   “Life is but an empty dream!”
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
   And things are not what they seem.
   
Life is real! Life is earnest!
   And the grave is not its goal;
“Dust thou art, to dust returnest,"
   Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
   Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
   Finds us farther than to-day.
   
Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
   And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
   Funeral marches to the grave.
   
In the world’s broad field of battle,
   In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
   Be a hero in the strife!
   
Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
   Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,--act in the living Present!
   Heart within, and God o’erhead!
   
Lives of great men all remind us
   We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
   Footprints on the sands of time;
   
Footprints, that perhaps another,
   Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
   Seeing, shall take heart again.
   
Let us, then, be up and doing,
   With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing
   Learn to labor and to wait.

 

Lay Support for Papal Correction

If you are a lay Catholic who wishes to support the recent papal correction please sign this petition.Pope Francis South Korea 2014 (1)

On September 23, 2017, an international group of Catholic clergy and lay scholars issued a public correction of Pope Francis:

“Most Holy Father,” the letter begins, “With profound grief, but moved by fidelity to our Lord Jesus Christ, by love for the Church and for the papacy, and by filial devotion toward yourself, we are compelled to address a correction to Your Holiness on account of the propagation of heresies effected by the apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia and by other words, deeds and omissions of Your Holiness.”

The full title of the document is Correctio filialis de haeresibus propagatis, which is translated as “A filial correction concerning the propagation of heresies.” It states, according to the authors, “that the pope has, by his Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia, and by other, related, words, deeds and omissions, effectively upheld 7 heretical positions about marriage, the moral life, and the reception of the sacraments, and has caused these heretical opinions to spread in the Catholic Church.”

Because it appears that the authors of the document intended to include only the signatures of credentialed theologians, pastors, and scholars who could add the weight of their academic expertise to the cause, we have created this petition to be signed by any and every member of the laity, no matter their station in life, in support of their effort. We, too, believe that we must “protect our fellow Catholics – and those outside the Church, from whom the key of knowledge must not be taken away (cf. Lk. 11:52) – hoping to prevent the further spread of doctrines which tend of themselves to the profaning of all the sacraments and the subversion of the Law of God.”

This is an informal petition of support of this effort, but every voice counts. Every signature matters. We hope you will join us in lending our own voices to this noble and worthy effort to defend Our Lord Jesus Christ, His divinely revealed truths, and the teachings of our Holy Mother Church.

Click here to go to the petition.

The Good Shepherd

Today’s Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 99:

A psalm of praise.

Sing joyfully to God, all the earth: serve ye the Lord with gladness. Come in before his presence with exceeding great joy. Know ye that the Lord he is God: he made us, and not we ourselves. We are his people and the sheep of his pasture. Go ye into his gates with praise, into his courts with hymns: and give glory to him. Praise ye his name: For the Lord is sweet, his mercy endureth for ever, and his truth to generation and generation.

El Buen Pastor, de Cristóbal García Salmerón (Museo del Prado)Note: the text in the picture reads “Ego sum pastor bonus, et cognosco oves meas, et cognoscunt me meæ” which I believe translates to “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep, and they know me.

Just Call Me Cassandra

As I hinted at the end of last year and keep posting about, various coincidences and events mark 2017 as a special year.  Celestial events that started at the end of 2016 reach their conclusion on September 23rd – next Saturday.
Revelation 12 Sign

I know that people are always predicting the end of the world, and your eyes are probably rolling round in their sockets right now, but what if this time they’re on the right track?  If these celestial events are actually the prophesied events in the Book of Revelation then the next few months or years could be rocky to say the least.  If you’re interested, there’s a wiki here about it.  If you’re not interested then just remember that if all hell breaks loose after Saturday then you might want to re-assess your position.  Mind you, you might not have Internet access at that point…  A church might then be a better place to find the information you will need.

The Book Thief

Here is a photo of the book I stole:

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I was ten years old and due to leave my primary school for secondary school.  This was the only thing I couldn’t bear to leave behind (since my friends were all coming to secondary school too).  Ironic, don’t you think, that it’s a hymn book?  Already feeling a victim of God’s sublime sense of humour, I just noticed, as I was taking this photo, that the Scripture reading is the one the priest chose for my baptism last year.

As you can see in the photo I didn’t choose a pristine copy.  This was not a spur-of-the-moment theft, this was pre-meditated larceny.  As in “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak, the custodian of this book may very well have let me have it if I had asked, seeing my desperate need, but I didn’t ask.  I chose the most raggedy copy I could find, reasoning that the school ought to replace it anyway.  In this way it didn’t feel like theft.  I was doing the school a favour in fact!

And why couldn’t I bear to part with this book?  It wasn’t the scripture.  It was just that I couldn’t imagine leaving behind the songs.  I’ve always had a deep love of music, and I was always trying to learn to play different instruments.  As a ten-year-old though, all I had access to was a recorder (which used to be the standard instrument in Welsh schools, as the tin whistle is here in Ireland) and my own voice.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a particularly good singing voice and I was also terribly shy.  When I played recorder on the school stage I would mime because I was too nervous to play properly.  I even mimed in the school choir when we competed in the Urdd Eisteddfod.  But that didn’t stop me playing in private.  Often when I sang, and later when I played my electronic keyboard, it would move me to tears.  It connected me to some higher reality, something I was missing in my life, something which I now suspect was of the heavenly variety.

Two of my favourite Welsh songs are about singing.  There’s “Calon Lan” which I’ve featured on my blog before, and there’s what I’ve always called “Canaf yn y bore” (see photo below).  My Welsh is incredibly rusty so I’m using Google Translate here.  It seems to think the first verse means “I sing in the morning for your care, through the dark walnut. You have seen me.” but I’m pretty sure that’s wrong.  😀  It’s definitely about singing in the morning anyway.

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Here’s the tune: