Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Leaning on Divine Mercy

On Saturday evening I was chatting with a non-Catholic acquaintance of mine who was quite open to me that his “zeal of the convert” phase was a thing of the past and he was now “questioning things” as he put it.  I tried to offer encouragement such as even the greatest saints having questions, but I felt restricted in where I could go with him.  

He was also questioning the worship at his church of choice.  Happy. Powerpoint. You get the picture.  

Nevertheless I found his open-ness refreshing. I can’t help but wonder since if he felt able to confide in any of his fellows. 

Today, just before it was time to put my PC in standby mode, dash out and attend lunchtime mass it came to me that I really didn’t feel like going.  I wasn’t feeling very pious and I wasn’t really up for it at all. I did go and from the moment I arrived I was glad of my decision. That is almost always the case when you reflect on days like these. By the time we were through the Confiteor I was feeling suitably penitent and attentive. 

After I had received communion and I knelt gathering my thoughts in adoration the warm sun shone its rays through the window onto me.  It momentarily warmed my body as Jesus was warming my soul.

It isn’t always like that. I have learnt not to rely on these moments or expect them and I have read some of the saints say we shouldn’t even seek them. Since my own “zeal of a convert” era has eroded I have tried to lean on God more than on my own feelings and this is where the sacramental life comes to the fore.  

Sure, I might not get zapped by a ray of sun every time I receive communion but my experience of the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist are that the reality of the words and symbols are enticing and keep drawing me back. Man could not have come up with this of himself. 

There is the irony.  Where there is so much accusation of self-righteousness there is very little. God keeps drawing me back.  All I am doing by coming back is leaning on Him. 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Scottish Independence: Church silence is golden!

There is something consoling that the Church in her wisdom has stayed silent on the issue of Scottish independence. Catholic Herald: Church is right to be silent on independence

That doesn't mean that its members shouldn't have an opinion and I found Professor Tom Devine's story of his journey from being an intended No voter to making his mind  up recently that he will be voting Yes very interesting. The reasons he gave for the Union being past its sell by date were insightful and not what you would normally find in the debate. Link to article available here

Without doubt individual Catholic clergy have differing opinions but that is their right as individuals as long as they use right terminology and context. Looking around lines have been crossed I feel when rendering to God and Caesar. 

The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland have officially argued that any change to the constitution would be "a provocation against God" .

The Church of Scotland seems to think their Free Presbyterian brothers do not know the mind of God as well as they think. "Self-determination for any nation is a good political principle that the Church supports and this includes the right of the electorate to vote for or against constitutional change" says this spokesperson of the Kirk quoted here on their official website. 

Then again this Free Church of Scotland minister thinks Christians can not be pro-independence in good conscience. Although to be fair there is public support for both sides from among their office-bearers, citing a Christian's use of "good conscience" in this debate is dangerous ground when so many of his colleagues disagree. Google for example "Calvin Luther Conscience Interpretation of Scripture".

Pope Francis has even been embroiled in this although I believe unintentionally and as a result of maximum spin from certain quarters. Nevertheless, worse for me than the fact Pope Francis was being spun mostly as being anti-scottish independence was to see him reduced to being a a sort of David Bowie or J K Rowling type figure. Or for that matter, a sort of Professor Tom Devine figure.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Symbolism: Stay Classy

I'm Catholic. I'm all for symbolism. Because I am Catholic I like my symbolism meaningful and appealing to man's higher intellect. When it isn't sacred and profound I like my symbolism to be at least classy. 

Glasgow City Council which is twinned with Bethlehem, Palestine, showing a bit of solidarity with a war torn people in Gaza Palestine, would come under that category. Agree with it or not it is meaningful. In my opinion flags in the correct context are classy. 

Symbolism can be misinterpreted. Does Glasgow City Council support Hamas? Or are they just mildly expressing sadness at the horror of Gaza. The answer is probably somewhere in the middle.  

I guess you could spend time wondering what they are actually saying. How far do they mean to go with that symbolic statement of solidarity?

Delivering what looks like a massive chocolate coin to the First Minister's house on the other hand... 

Monday, 4 August 2014

Charlie thanks God

Charlie Flynn, Scotland's Commenwealth games gold medalist in the men's light 60kg category was jubilant after the bout and it showed during his live TV interview immediately after.

"I'd just like to thank God for all that he has gave me. Life. When your in these games... There are other countries that have not got much. Know what I mean? It makes you thankful for your health, wellbeing, and the place you are right now. Know what I mean?" 

   Charlie was also spotted making the sign of the cross when he received his medal.
   As they say in Glasgow " Well done wee man."

Friday, 1 August 2014

Benedicamus Domino

Wherever the Catholic Sun doth shine
there is music and laughter and red red wine.
O my God may it be so.
Benedicamus Domino.

Or something like that.

Last week I was at a family wedding. It took place on the mainland which meant the celebrations with close family took up the best part of a few days including travel. The wine might not have ran out as at a certain other famous wedding but in these happy circumstances it would have taken a miracle of sorts for yours truly not to have travelled back home feeling a bit burnt out and wishing it had.

Moderation has never been my strong point. I have to work at it constantly and at times like this a parable about cutting of thy right hand hovers constantly about my conscience. With God's grace I have to make sure that it doesn't come to that. 

In a culture where alcohol and religion both feature prominently there are two ways the two often interact. One is that alcohol is cut out altogether along with even former friends and occasions of it. The other way is often giving up religion, which is a much more frightening outcome. But it happens often, because the use or abuse of alcohol is seen by too many as the benchmark of genuine faith. More specifically being genuinely "Born Again". All other sins can be overlooked and put on the dunghill covered by snow. But not a lack of self control here. That is often seen as a sign of failure or worse fraud, from which poor burdened souls are unable to find the grace to rise again and take up the challenge of perseverance.

Me? Onwards I shall go trying to find my true relationship with God, His creation and all the blessings He has bestowed upon mankind and in particular my very undeserving self despite my falls. Sure, as I grow closer to Him isn't it my very self that I am finding? Benedicumus Domino.