Victoria Seed

By Victoria Seed…

I have taught RCIA preparation (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) for fifteen years, in five different parishes in three different countries, and I can tell you, hand on heart, that there is no such thing as a “typical convert”. God calls all to know Him, after all, and so people from every background and walk of life seek Him in the sacraments of the Church. Everyone has a story about why he is there. Some are persuaded by years of research or a philosophical argument; some have a health of a spouse, friend or relative; some are blithely tepid for years until they have a Damascene moment, an experience of being directly and forcefully spoken to by God. But I will always remember Ling Wei because I have never heard a story similar to hers. Ling Wei wanted to be a Catholic because as a child she had seen a picture of Mary.

Growing up in a Buddhist Chinese family in Malaysia, Ling Wei had no contact with Christians, and knew nothing about Jesus. When I began to teach her she had never even heard the Christmas story. How, I wanted to know, did she even form the desire to become a Catholic? She explained that her aunt had come to stay with the family for several months when Ling Wei was a child. Her aunt had converted to Catholicism while living in London. She went by her confirmation name, Michelle, and the family thought her quite peculiar. Auntie Michelle was given a bed in Ling Wei’s room, and, as her visit was an extended one, she added a few homey touches to the decor: a crucifix above her bed, and a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary by the bedroom door, right where Ling Wei could see it while she lay in bed. ‘I always had terrible nightmares, really scary evil dreams,’ Ling Wei told me, ‘But as soon as Auntie put that picture on the wall the dreams stopped. Mother Mary was so beautiful! I felt so happy when I would look at her as I fell asleep. And she would look at me, and I was not scared anymore. I knew even then that I wanted to move to London with Auntie so I could be a Catholic like her.’ So, at the age of eighteen, living in London with her aunt, Ling Wei asked the parish priest to baptize her. I was the RCIA catechist in the parish at the time, and so her preparation was entrusted to me. The pastor suggested that one-on-one instruction would be best, as the RCIA group I was already leading was made up exclusively of ladies from an Anglican background with a very different knowledge base.

We met twice a week, and, despite her eagerness, it was a challenge to teach Ling Wei. Her English was far from fluent, and she found Scripture completely baffling. Father and I had many conversations about what level of understanding was necessary for her reception. (The conclusion was to be able to meaningfully recite the Creed, and to have an understanding of the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and the need for regular Confession.) We persevered. I tried to teach a simple story from the Bible at each lesson. Some days it seemed to be working; some days it seemed hopeless. I had never before instructed anyone with a completely Eastern world-view, and I had little idea how to proceed.

Advent arrived. We had been working for four months. I always teach my RCIA students to pray the rosary midway through the course. It’s a good spiritual discipline, and I just find it makes them feel Catholic, often at a time when they are a bit frustrated they can’t yet receive communion. I brought to the lesson a card giving pictorial instructions on how to pray the rosary, a beautifully illustrated booklet with scripture passages and reflections on each mystery, and a set of beads for each of us. We went through all of this carefully. We learned the Hail Mary and Glory Be and the Jesus prayer. We reviewed the Our Father. We talked about how the series of ten Hail Mary’s gives us a period of time to meditate on the mystery of the decade, and how while we pray we should be picturing the story we are praying about.

We decided to pray the Joyful Mysteries together. I announced the first mystery: The Annunciation. I read the scripture account from Luke and we prayed. Ling Wei announced the second mystery: The Visitation, and read the scripture passage. We prayed. I announced the third mystery: the Nativity of Our Lord. I read from the Bible. We prayed. Ling Wei began to laugh. ‘When I am reading the Bible I do not understand any of it. Not a thing! But when I am praying this Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary I understand ALL of it! I can see EVERYTHING!’ she exclaimed. Ling Wei was baptized and received into the Catholic Church the following Easter, despite my failings as a catechist. I don’t think we ever moved beyond the simple instruction one would normally give to children making their first communion, but clearly Our Lady was able to overcome all my deficiencies and lead Ling Wei to Christ. She was joyful to receive the waters of Baptism, the anointing of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation, and the body and blood of our Lord Jesus in her first Holy Communion. Since she was a small child she had wanted to follow Our Lady, and that path could only ever lead her to Christ. No one knows Jesus better than the Blessed Virgin who both bore him in her womb and remained at his side as he died on the Cross.

Were you wondering about that first image of the Blessed Mother that Ling Wei saw? I certainly was after she told me the story. Her aunt still has the picture hanging up as home, and Ling Wei borrowed it to show me. It was a picture of one of the mosaics from the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary in Lourdes. Mary has her arms outstretched and the inscription around her reads Par Marie A Jesus, French for “Through Mary to Jesus.” These words are a promise. If we entrust ourselves to Mary she will see us safely to her son. You may think I am being fanciful, but ever since I saw that picture that hung in Ling Wei’s bedroom as a child I have believed Our Lady always intended to catechise Ling Wei herself, through the rosary.

Through Mary to Jesus

Originally posted on Catholic Parent - Understand, Live, Transmit.:

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Daddy and Angelica have their Baptism Birthday’s 1 day apart, so this year they shared a pudding!

Autumn is a busy time for celebrations in our family. We have 2 birthday’s and also 3 Baptism Birthdays.

We try to make the Baptism Birthdays fun and simple – Who ever is the star of the day gets to choose what we have for dinner, and then there is a pudding or a small cake with a candle to blow out! There is a Baptism card, and also a trip to church to light a candle and thank Jesus for the chance to follow Him and also to thank Mummy Mary for showing us how to follow Him.

We talk a little bit about what it means to be Baptised – to turn away from and be freed from sin, to follow Jesus and have a relationship with Him. We talk about the fact that…

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I was so exhausted last night. I fell asleep in my clothes, face down in the middle of a chapter of John Paul II Love and Responsibility. I had the weirdest dream…

We were in the park and suddenly the ground started splitting like this:

quake

And then magma started coming up out of the cracks in the ground like this:

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There were so many people everywhere and they were all running around hysterical and panicking, trying to get away from what seemed to be the end of the world. But I was ready! I had been over this scenario so many times in my mind I knew exactly what to do – I had to get to my church. I walked my kids up the hill to the church where we saw hundreds of people desperately trying to climb over the wall to get into the church grounds. 

Germany Love Parade Deaths

We were able to walk straight in because we are regular parishioners (!) and they knew us. Inside the church grounds people were calmly sitting on the ground in their families just waiting. Everyone knew they were safe inside the grounds from the chaos that was happening outside the walls. But then the ground started splitting inside the church grounds:

earthquake

And the church itself started crumbling and collapsing:

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Immediately when this started happening I knew I had to go inside to retrieve the tabernacle. So I left my kids and went inside, where a priest friend of mine was also trying to save the tabernacle. We worked together and both of us managed to extract the sacred metal box, freeing the tabernacle from the stone wall. We were carrying it out when I realised that only he could open the tabernacle, and he had to go back to get the key. Neither of us were afraid, we were both totally calm and knew what had to be done.

tabernacle

As we got out the church collapsed, and I was reunited with my children. My priest friend had started walking off out of the church grounds and people were starting to follow him. I knew it was time to leave and that we had to help him carry the tabernacle because wherever we settled in the future, the people of God would need Christ with them at the centre. 

Mad dream. Perhaps tonight I’ll lay off the cheese before bed…

Originally posted on Catholic Parent - Understand, Live, Transmit.:

Halloween

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Understand

Halloween is the name of the evening before the Christian holy days of All Saints Day on 1st November (also known as All Hallows’ or Hallowmas) and All Souls’ Day on 2nd November, thus giving the holiday on 31st October the full name of All Hallows’ Eve (meaning the evening before All Hallows’ Day).

All Saints Day (Nov 1st) is a holy day of obligation meaning that Catholics must attend Mass on the day, or at the vigil Mass the night before. Since the time of the early Church, major feasts in the Christian Church (such as Christmas, Easter and Pentecost) had vigils which began the night before, as does the feast of All Hallows’. These three days collectively referred to as All Hallowtide, are a time for honouring the saints in heaven and praying for the departed souls in purgatory who have yet to reach Heaven.

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In Scotland and Ireland, the turnip has traditionally been carved…

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Kasper Pumpkin

According to local eye-witness reports, a pumpkin haunted by the spirit of Vatican II is terrorising a young Catholic family in London, England. Clare Short, mother of 3, became concerned earlier this month when her neighbours started practising strange rituals in their back garden late at night. “They would all dress up in rainbow coloured robes and gyrate wildly in a circle around the vegetable patch howling like banshee’s in what seemed to be some sort of bizarre liturgical dance.”

She went on to say: “I knew they read ‘The Tablet’ but I felt this was going a bit too far. By the next morning one of the pumpkins had some strange markings on it that seemed to resemble some sort of hideous face.”

The neighbours are then reported to have moved the pumpkin onto their front porch for all the world to see.”At night it glows. It’s really scary. One time I saw the eyes move.”

Mrs Short politely asked her neighbours to remove the pumpkin, but was met with ridicule. “They told me not to be so superstitious and to stop being so old-fashioned and ‘get with the programme‘.”

Soon after this confrontation strange sounds started emanating from the pumpkin. “At first we thought it was speaking in tongue’s, but then we realised it just has a really thick German accent. It started shouting ‘Mercy! MERCY!’ and racially abusive comments like ‘You don’t vant to listen to those Africans’. It is not a friendly ghost”

Mrs Short’s husband has also been victim to the taunts of the vegetable. “One time, after a row with Clare, I stormed out of the house and slammed the door. Then it said ‘Don’t vorry my son. Maybe it just isn’t vorking out for you two hey? You should leave her – it is the merciful thing to do hey?’ It must have heard us arguing.”

After a long drive and a trip to the florist Mr Short returned home again. “It spoke to me again: ‘Ahhh my son, I see you are not giving up yet. Dat is nice, hey? Either way is fine with me’.”

Mrs Short reports that the most upsetting incident was later that evening. “We were lying in bed and could hear it mumbling something from outside the window. My husband got up to shut the window, and as he did it laughed hysterically and screamed at the top of its voice: ‘DON’T FORGET TO PUT YOU RAIN COAT ON MY SON! Bwaaahhhhhh!’ It was really embarrassing.

The next day Mr and Mrs Short went to see their local Arch Bishop and explained everything that had been going on. “He had a glazed look about him. He told us that there are ‘positive aspects‘ to seasonal vegetables and that they should be ‘welcomed, respected and valued’ and that their ‘gifts and talents’ can benefit the whole Catholic community.”

Victoria Seed

By Victoria Seed

It was interesting reading the mid-term report from the family synod today. I especially liked this paragraph:

“…Today’s world appears to promote limitless affectivity, seeking to explore all its aspects, including the most complex. Indeed, the question of emotional fragility is very current: a narcissistic, unstable or changeable affectivity do not always help greater maturity to be reached. In this context, couples are often uncertain and hesitant, struggling to find ways to grow. Many tend to remain in the early stages of emotional and sexual life….”

Affectivity has to do with sentiment or emotion.  The modern idea that we are pulled and pushed around by our feelings, that we are somehow powerless against them, or that they are the source of our “authentic” self is deeply pernicious. We are led to believe that how we feel about a person, situation or achievement is more important than the substance of the matter.  (How often do we see a TV presenter more eager to ask how someone feels about an accomplishment or a disappointment than to find out what actually went on?)  Secular culture encourages us to substitute strength of conviction (feeling something really strongly) for mature moral deliberation.  In a world where being morally right is thought to be less important than “being true to yourself” or “believing in yourself” we tend to think of love as a collection of positive emotions towards another person.

I think the passage I quoted is rooted in a very solid Aristotelian or Thomistic (i.e. Catholic) moral framework where this practical syllogism is the basis for correct moral action: right desire (affectivity) + right deliberation = right action.  Limitless affectivity is emotion or desire unbounded by:

1. The need for proper orientation towards what is good

2. Proper deliberation as to how this can be achieved.

Our desires are important and have moral implications and value.  A virtuous person desires what is good, which is to say he LOVES the good. But this presupposes that he knows what is good. So desire derives its moral worth from its object. This is its limit. Limitless affectivity lacks a proper orientation and is by nature adolescent, self-indulgent, unexamined and uncontrolled.

St Thomas Aquinas defined love of persons in terms of our desires, but ascribed to these desires a clear object and limits.  To love another person is to:

1. To desire union with him

2. To desire what is good for him.

People today often (almost always) define love as a feeling, something passive.  Christianity says that love is a choice, something active.  In its critique of “limitless affectivity” this truth has been expressed by the Synod, which is promising…

..

Vatican Family

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“6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel — 7not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed. 10Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ. 11For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not man’s gospel. 12For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” -  Galatians 1:6-12

It is becoming clearer and clearer that the Bishops opinions are divided at the Family Synod.

Speaking from Rome, Voice of the Family’s British spokesperson John Smeaton said:

“There’s a clear dividing line between Synod Fathers who are clear about Catholic teaching on human sexuality, and Synod Fathers who offer confusion in their presentation of Church teaching on this and related issues.”

Irish spokesperson Patrick Buckley said:

“Some of the reported interventions in the Synod are not in accordance with Catholic teaching and yet are being released without adequate comment, resulting in confusion about church teaching.”

This is extremely concerning. Why is there confusion? Either the Bishops do not know the teachings of the church or they do know them and are deliberately deciding to go against them.

In his opening address on Monday, Cardinal Péter Erdő of Hungary argued that Humanae Vitae should be read in light of graduality. In a session with reporters at Vatican Radio Monday night, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich invoked graduality as a key to helping the church develop a new way of talking about sex.

In a briefing session for reporters on Tuesday, a Vatican spokesman described graduality as among the synod’s emerging themes, and Cardinal Vincent Nichols of the UK said the idea of graduality “permits people, all of us, to take one step at a time in our search for holiness in our lives.”

In its true form I actually agree with gradualism, but being very careful to remember the cautioning words of JPII.

The last time the Vatican staged a Synod of Bishops on the family, which was almost 35 years ago in 1980, talk about gradualism was in the air, too. Pope John Paul II was sufficiently concerned about where it might lead that he included a warning in a homily he gave for the closing Mass of the synod, a line he then also dropped into the meeting’s concluding document, Familiaris Consortio.

“What is known as ‘the law of gradualness’,” John Paul said, “cannot be identified with ‘gradualness of the law’.”

What he is getting at here – and what I greatly fear might be happening at the synod right now, is that people are liable to muddy the waters between gradualism ‘we come to Christ one step at a time’ and relativism – ‘what is true for you, might not be true for me’.

And then of course there is Kasper…

Cardinal-Kasper

Kasper’s views on mercy are just plain wrong. Cardinal Kasper acknowledges that all sacramental marriages are indissoluble yet he suggests that because God is merciful it can be permitted for those living in an objectively sinful state to receive Holy Communion. This suggests that Kasper sees the divine mercy more as a ‘looking over’ or ‘forgetfulness’ of sin rather than as an eradication of sin and a profound interior renewal. This is an essentially Lutheran position which sees the justified sinner as, in Luther’s famous words, “dung covered by snow.”

The possibly twisted view of gradualism being presented here, and Kasper’s (nothing short of protestant) views on mercy have one thing in common:

‘Man’ at the centre.

This of course goes against what Pope Francis has asked young pilgrims attending World Youth Day  2013 to do: to keep Jesus at the “centre of their lives.” And against Pope Benedict’s final tweet as pope: ‘…May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives.’

boccaccio-boccaccino-christ-in-majesty

Not to get too apocalyptic on you but… I need to quote 675 from the CCC:

“675 Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.”

Now, I’m not necessarily suggesting we are on the verge of the second coming, but what I am suggesting is that we have to be incredibly vigilant of Bishops spouting religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. And any apparent solutions that allow man to glorify himself, and his own wants and desires, in place of God.

Is Christ or Man at the centre of the Family Synod?

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It is becoming clearer and clearer to me that many of the problems in the church today rest on the relationship one has with Christ. So many, it seems, are having a relationship with Christ on THEIR term rather than on His. When we decide to follow Christ we are doing just that – FOLLOWING. He is in charge. The relationship does not revolve around us. The world does not revolve around us. We must not become the most important thing in our lives – He must. And once this relationship has matured and developed and we find ourselves helplessly and hopelessly in love with Christ, we finding ourselves wanting to give more to him. We are able to understand and accept the doctrine and the rules of the church because within the context of a loving relationship with Christ – they make sense.

Why is no-one at the synod saying this?

Sources:

http://voiceofthefamily.info/wordpress/?p=316

http://www.americancatholic.org/features/johnpaulii/transition/CardinalsKasper.asp

http://voiceofthefamily.info/wordpress/?p=296

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2013/07/26/wyd-2013-keep-christ-at-the-centre-of-your-lives-pope-tells-pilgrims/

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s2c2a7.htm

Kieran Conry at a fancy dress party in Lourdes.

Kieran Conry at a fancy dress party in Lourdes.

It has struck me quite profoundly that since the revelations of Kieran Conry’s numerous affairs have come to light, we have heard lots from him but have not once heard him mention Christ. In his statement he says:

“I am sorry to confess that, going back some years, I have been unfaithful to my promises as a Catholic priest. I would like to reassure you that my actions were not illegal and did not involve minors…. I want to apologise first of all to the individuals hurt by my actions and then to all of those inside and outside the diocese who will be shocked, hurt and saddened to hear this. I am sorry for the shame that I have brought on the diocese and the Church and I ask for your prayers and forgiveness.”

He then went on to tell the Daily Mail:

“It has been difficult keeping the secret. In some respects I feel very calm. It is liberating. It is a relief. I have been very careful not to make sexual morality a priority [in his sermons]. I don’t think it got in the way of my job, I don’t think people would say I have been a bad bishop. But I can’t defend myself. I did wrong. Full stop.”

Why no mention of Christ? After all, a Bishop is the earthly representative of Christ for his particular diocese. Surely first and foremost, any public apology should have been made to Christ, begging His forgiveness?

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“…she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair…”

That is assuming of course that he feels that this is necessary. Kieran Conry has been critical of going to confession regularly, saying that, in his experience, people would always come back saying the same things week after week, suggesting that no interior conversion or repentance was actually taking place. In a May 2009 pastoral letter, he urged a more adult approach to the sacrament of reconciliation:

“Go to the priest and talk about these things, the way in which your relationship with God might have grown stale. Because sin is ultimately something that damages our relationship with God. It is not just breaking the rules.”

But what exactly was Kieran Conry’s relationship with Christ?

All Catholic priests are required to pray the Liturgy of the Hours every day. Canon 904 tells us that daily celebration of the Mass is earnestly recommended (but not required) for priests. Daily examination of conscience, frequent confession and silent meditation are also highly recommended.

But here’s the problem…

How could it have been possible for Kieran Conry to do the above on a daily basis while he was carrying on with his various girlfriends?

If he made a one off ‘mistake’ with a woman, but decided never to see her again, felt remorse and went to confession, then one could understand. Nobody is perfect. But this was not a one off event. It was years of constant deception and lies. Years of repeatedly disgracing himself in the sight of Christ. No wonder he didn’t believe in frequent confession!

Now he has admitted that he knew what he was doing was wrong. And he has apologised to those involved and to the church, but something tells me he was not really sorry. The Daily Mail revealed that they had confronted Conry about his affair with Olivia Hodgkinson 4 months before the story broke a few weeks ago. Yet still he decided to resign only hours before the story went to print, and there was no way out for him. In my opinion he wasn’t truly sorry.

He was sorry he got found out, and he was sorry that he lost his job, and i’m sure he was sorry that the affair had to end. But if he was a man of honour, he would have done the right thing and resigned years ago and married (one of) the women he was carrying on with.

To continue in his role as Priest and Bishop, he must have been either going to confession constantly to make sure his relationship with Christ was repaired and whole once more, or he wasn’t. If he wasn’t, then there are only three reasons why:

1. He was not aware that what he was doing was wrong.

2. He was not concerned that he was committing a mortal sin.

3. He doesn’t believe in God.

How could it be possible for this man to turn to face God in prayer 7 times a day without falling on his knees and begging for mercy? How could it be possible for him to hold up Christ in the Eucharist knowing where his hands had been the night before? Not just once, but over and over again for years and years. The arrogance is astounding.

Kieran Eucharist

The only conclusion I can come to is that Kieran Conry was an Atheist. He had no relationship with Christ. And if by any scrap of possibility he did, it was on his own terms. This man was a Bishop – terrifying isn’t it?

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A few weeks ago the Lord was calling me to do the Stations of the Cross. So I did. At each Station He told me, as if helplessly and hopelessly in love, “I did this for you…”. Once I had completed all the stations He kept drawing me back to the Crucifixion. He just wouldn’t let me go from this picture of Him, arms stretched out hanging on the cross.

More recently I was at a wonderful concert held inside our church. At one point in her life, the lady singing had been given 3 months to live due to cancer. Eight years later she is still here singing! It was truly inspiring.

I noticed that the sanctuary light was still on. They had decided to leave the Eucharist inside the Tabernacle. I felt slightly uneasy about this but as we were both here listening to this incredibly talented soprano, I decided to make conversation. As soon as I did I felt His presence very strongly within the tabernacle, and then (as sometimes happens) I felt His presence come out of the tabernacle and stand right next to me. My heart started burning and I was thinking “Ok – it’s not a great time right now! There are lots of people around at the moment and I don’t want to do anything um, weird!”

Just then I was completely and utterly overcome with the most awful dread and terror. It was so consuming and overwhelming that I was afraid I might scream or something. It was the fear that used to overcome me everyday when my husband was first diagnosed earlier this year with CFS. The fear I feel when I think that he may never recover. The daily fear we are facing now of having 3 kids and no income. Then this fear moved from within me to outside of me – right in front of me – so I was looking at it from the outside.

Then I became aware of the presence of my husband. He was at home looking after the children – but it was as if he was right in front of me. Then Jesus told me “Don’t be afraid to love your husband.” It’s true. Since his diagnosis I have been afraid to love him. Straight after that Jesus ‘took’ all the fear away. It just evaporated. Completely gone, in a second. I asked Him “Did you just heal me?” because that’s what it felt like.

The concert carried on for a while and then Jesus brought my attention back to the Crucifixion station just to the right of me that I had been looking at a few weeks before. He said to me “When your husband stretches out his arms to embrace you, it’s not just him you are embracing – it’s Me.” 

This has given me plenty to think about. My  prayer for 2014 was ‘teach me to suffer’ and I can truly say that I have learned more about this than I ever thought possible. The most fascinating part of all this is the relationship between love and suffering. Love takes the fear out of suffering. It puts the joy into suffering. Love puts the victory into suffering. It conquers suffering. I am no longer afraid to love my husband.

mother theresa

Victoria Seed

By  – Victoria Seed

This Sunday at Mass my daughter asked me why there was a red light at the front of the church when all the other candles were white.  She was captivated by the glow of the sanctuary light.  I explained that it was a special light that is always lit when Jesus is at home in the tabernacle.  She found the idea that Jesus is there right now reassuring.  As we watched the priest place the undistributed Eucharist in the ciboria, cover them and return them to the tabernacle, my daughter whispered to me ‘Jesus is going to have a little rest now, and the light says He is still in his home, but you get to take Jesus with you, Mommy, because you had communion!’

I always thought I understood what it meant to treat the Blessed Sacrament with reverence.  I have a good conceptual understanding of how the graces of the Eucharist are meant to nourish our faith and bring us closer to God.  But I have never actually considered what it means to “take Jesus with me” when I leave the church.  The sanctuary light says that He remains in the tabernacle, but what signs proclaim that He remains in me?  Fortunately, the Holy Father answered just these questions in his second Wednesday address on the Eucharist (12th February, 2014):

“We all go to Mass because we love Jesus and we want to share, through the Eucharist, in His passion and His resurrection.  But do we love, as Jesus wishes, those brothers and sisters who are most needy? […]  I who go to Mass, how do I live this?  Do I try to help, to approach and pray for those in difficulty?  Or am I a little indifferent?  Or perhaps do I just want to talk: ‘Did you see how this or that one is dressed?’  Sometimes this happens after Mass and it should not!  We must concern ourselves with our brothers and sisters who need us.   […] Let us ask Jesus, whom we receive in the Eucharist, to help us help them.”

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It is perfectly natural that receiving the Eucharist should bring us, with our cooperation, into greater love and sympathy with our brothers and sisters in Christ because it is Christ himself we receive.  Pope Francis is recalling us to the biblical accounts of Jesus’ ministry:  when we read the scriptures we see again and again how Jesus encourages and requires care for the suffering and the sorrowful.  There is not a single vocation so high and mighty that it allows indifference or neglect of the poor.  The parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37) shows the unfortunate man being rightly tended by the Samaritan who helped him when his plight was ignored by, for example, a priest who did not wish to risk ritual impurity.  More strikingly still, in the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46) Jesus tells us that when we feed the hungry and clothe the naked we care for Him, and when we fail to minister to those less fortunate than us we fail to minister to Him.  How, then, could any true communion with Christ leave us indifferent to human need?

There should be no divide in the Church between the most reverent liturgical traditionalists and the most evangelical social-justice crusaders: both draw their nourishment from the same source, from Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.  The Holy Father tells us that the ‘the mission and the very identity of the Church’ are rooted in the Eucharist.  He says:

A celebration may be flawless on the exterior, very beautiful—but if it does not lead us to encounter Jesus Christ, it is unlikely to bear any kind of nourishment to our heart and to our life.  Through the Eucharist, however, Christ wishes to enter into our life and permeate it with His grace, so that in every Christian community there may be coherence between liturgy and life.

Reflect on those words for just a moment: coherence between liturgy and life.  All true charity has its origins in the Eucharist, and we should always be drawn back to the Mass to receive strength and sustenance from Christ.  But we cannot stay there, within the safe confines of the liturgy.  What we believe about the Eucharist – that it is the true presence of Christ, body, blood, soul and divinity – is made ridiculous if we can receive it without being truly evangelized and converted from within.  If our communion exists only within the walls of the church and the brief moments of the liturgy, then we will have no greater a share in the life of Christ than the paltry part we allow him in ours.  When we receive the Eucharist at Mass we get to take Jesus with us when we go!  We should pray that we may glow as brilliantly and reassuringly as the sanctuary light that promises God is with us, here, now and always.

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