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Liturgy

A Follow Up On Prayer

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Prayer: Appointment with God Part 1
Prayer: Appointment with God Part 2

I was hesitant to write on prayer for fear of feeling like a hypocrite. Truth be told, I do feel like one. You see, my prayer life is not terribly consistent or so amazing that I can tell you confidently that I am great at praying. I struggle to make the time for prayer and to tell the Lord that He is first in my life. Lately I can feel the wrestling deep within my soul: spend time in quiet prayer or scroll through my phone or watch a show? Sometimes, the show wins out. And sometimes, I am able to carve out space in my day for quiet prayer. What this means is that I’m trying. And I’m honest with the Lord about how hard it is sometimes, and I tell him that I’ll keep on trying.

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From mouths of babies

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There are two methods of evangelization. One where you’re trying, and one where you’re living. Both can be valid and effective to varying degrees. Let’s focus on the second one for a moment. Children are experts, here. When you are very young, you don’t really care about offending people. You say what’s in your heart without any of the barriers that prevent adults from doing the same. The following story is an example of what can happen when you share your faith in all honesty and innocence.

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Lack of charm

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I’m not going to mention the usual Halloween stuff which surrounds us this time of year. Indeed I highly reccommend reading this on just how bad things have got in our culture around the ghoulish.

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True Grit and the Gift

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A few of my friends and family had shared on social media a TED talk by Angela Lee Duckworth, Ph.D on the #1 predictor of success, when all other factors had been considered. You can watch the video if you’d like, but to sum it up: it all comes down to resilience, or grit, as she calls it.  

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School of the Home

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"Back to School!" How that phrase used to fill me with dread when I was a child. I have to say [as a parent] the thought of the children returning to the daily/weekly routine of school timetables and repetition is somewhat of a relief after 6 weeks of a fair degree of disorder and random activity [depending on the weather] around the home. For all of that though, I shall miss something of the "school of the home" atmosphere we have all enjoyed as a family since mid July.

Classroom and home, hearth and assembly hall have got to be synergised in the cherishment of Christian values and faith if the family/school; parent/teacher partnership is to bear the rich fruit it is called to bring forth in grace. For that, there really has to be fresh standards of mutual appreciation and support but especially I feel, for the sacred space that is the Christian home.

I was reflecting on this over the last few days as I was immersed in [of all things] the painting of our humble garden shed. A somewhat mundane task but one which we all enjoyed contributing to [though I had the lion's share] as a family. What's this got to do with my point above? Well, some years ago I addressed an international conference at the University of Torun in Poland on the dignity and purpose of the family. In my talk I reminded the audience of the unique phrase to this island nation of ours; "An Englishman's home is his castle." 

It was established as common law by the lawyer and politician Sir Edward Coke (pronounced Cook), in The Institutes of the Laws of England, 1628:

"For a man's house is his castle, et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium [and each man's home is his safest refuge]."

This enshrined into law the popular belief at the time, expressed in print by several authors in the late 16th century. It was even used as an argument to say that outlawed English Catholics still enjoyed the protection of this maxim, at least culturally if not always technically. The Stage of Popish Toyes: containing both tragicall and comicall partes, by Henri Estienne wrote in 1581:

'The English papists owe it to the Queen that "your house is your Castle."'

The English have had a passion for the sovereignty of hearth and home for more than a millennia. The English have the widest variety of chimneys in the world as well as more garden sheds than anywhere else. (Which is why I felt obliged to smarten our's up!)

Seriously though, if the home is meant to be sacred then the family, and the wishes and conscientiously held beliefs of that family [consonant with Gospel values and Catholic teaching] who reside in that home ought to be fully respected and served by all sectors of society and ecclesiastical life. The former grows less and less but the latter [especially the parish and school] must be something the Catholic family can depend upon; if not then something is very drastically wrong. There is no need for me to enunciate the many and diverse risks facing the family. The message of the 2008 World Day of Peace puts it succinctly;

'Consequently, whoever, even unknowingly, circumvents the institution of the family undermines peace in the entire community, national and international, since he weakens what is in effect the primary agency of peace.

So as a new academic year begins I pray the Holy Spirit will pour afresh on parents, teachers, clergy, and catechists a new and deep sense of mutual respect, Christ-like love and dependence upon the Lord to fulfil their shared task of passing on the Faith.

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Moon at her Feet

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These last few days have seen some major media attention on the full lunar eclipse of the sun which passed through 10 different US states in the space of 90 minutes. An eclipse is always an impressive thing. One commentator in the US who witnessed it said it was "a religious experience."

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Matrimony Does Not Mean Legal Roommates

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Often today if a man and woman want to get married, they first live together to see if they would be a good fit. To a lot of people, it makes sense to see if you are “compatible” before marriage, but really the opposite is true.

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The Secret To Conversion

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The Church recently celebrated Pentecost, which is one of my favorite holy days of the year. Perhaps it’s because I was born around Pentecost, but the more likely reason is because I have a close relationship with the Holy Spirit.

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These Last Remaining Hours of May

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Amidst all the endless commentary in the aftermath of the atrocity that happened in my home town of Manchester, England, on Monday night the 22nd, and the appalling murder of the Coptic Christians on Friday on pilgrimage in Egypt, I could not help but wonder on, 100 years after the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima and her universal message of conversion and penance to save the world, how her Immaculate Heart must be in pain and sorrow over the events of the last weeks.

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Why?

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Children have the remarkably annoying habit of interrogating us don’t they? They’re obsessed with the fundamental nature of things, why the world is the way it is, and how to logically connect it all together. The endless “why”? questions. It can be maddening at times. 

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