The ancient Greeks had 4 different words for love. I think this is something we could all do with reminding ourselves of as it helps us understand the modern world view of “love” and how far away this has become from the Christian understanding of the same word. I actually think only having one word for love in the English language is a major source of confusion – especially when we begin to speak about Marriage.

The ancient Greek language has four distinct words for love: agápeérosphilía, and storgē. However, as with other languages, it has been historically difficult to separate the meanings of these words when used outside of their respective contexts. Nonetheless, the senses in which these words were generally used are as follows:

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Agápe (ἀγάπη agápē) means “love: esp. brotherly love, charity; the love of God for man and of man for God.” Agape is used in ancient texts to denote feelings for one’s children and the feelings for a spouse, and it was also used to refer to a love feast: (The term Agape or Love feast was used for certain religious meals among early Christians that seem to have been originally closely related to the Eucharist.) Agape is used by Christians to express the unconditional love of God for his children. This type of love was further explained by Thomas Aquinas as “to will the good of another.”

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Éros (ἔρως érōs) means “love, mostly of the sexual passion.” Plato refined his own definition: Although eros is initially felt for a person, with contemplation it becomes an appreciation of the beauty within that person, or even becomes appreciation of beauty itself. Plato does not talk of physical attraction as a necessary part of love, hence the use of the word platonic to mean, “without physical attraction.” In the Symposium, the most famous ancient work on the subject, Plato has Socrates argue that eros helps the soul recall knowledge of beauty, and contributes to an understanding of spiritual truth, the ideal “Form” of youthful beauty that leads us humans to feel erotic desire – thus suggesting that even that sensually based love aspires to the non-corporeal, spiritual plane of existence; that is, finding its truth, just like finding any truth, leads to transcendence. Lovers and philosophers are all inspired to seek truth through the means of eros.

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Philia (φιλία philía) means “affectionate regard, friendship,” usually “between equals.” It is a dispassionate virtuous love, a concept developed by Aristotle. In his best-known work on ethics, Nicomachean Ethics, philia is expressed variously as loyalty to friends, family, and community, and requires virtue, equality, and familiarity. Furthermore, in the same text philos denotes a general type of love, used for love between family, between friends, a desire or enjoyment of an activity, as well as between lovers.

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Storge (στοργή storgē) means “love, affection” and “especially of parents and children”] It’s the common or natural empathy, like that felt by parents for offspring. Rarely used in ancient works, and then almost exclusively as a descriptor of relationships within the family. It is also known to express mere acceptance or putting up with situations, as in “loving” the tyrant.

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It is helpful to know these separate definitions of love when discussing marriage in the modern world. Contemporary modern culture bases its definition of marriage and relationships almost entirely on Éros. In fact I would go as far as to say that our society elevates Éros artificially higher than any other form of love. Éros has become the ideal. And when these powerful exciting feelings of lust and romance fade – then what is the point of carrying on the relationship? Éros is a feeling.

The Catholic view of marriage however is based on Agápe. It is a reflection of the unconditional self sacrificing love that Christ expressed for humanity on the cross. Agápe loves when it doesn’t feel good to love. Agápe loves because of what it gives, not because of what it gets. Agápe is unconditional and unbreakable. Agápe is a choice.

This is of course not to say that love itself as we know it is an extremely messy and complicated set of emotions and most probably incorporates all the ancient Greek definitions of love. The important point is to recognise which is the strongest in our relationship and then to ask ourselves “What is our relationship based on?”.

1 John 4:8 simply tells us “ho Theos agape estin” (God is Love). St Paul gives us the perfect test of what kind of love we have in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. If we substitute the word love for the name of our beloved – or even our own name, then we begin to get an idea of how true our love really is:

………. is patient and kind

………. is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.

………. does not insist on his/her own way.

………. is not irritable or resentful.

………  does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.

……… bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

……… love never ends.

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As the father of young children…

by Fr. Ed Tomlinson

One of the advantages of being not only a priest but also a husband and father, is that I have some insight regarding parenting in the 21st Century. This can prove helpful in the confessional or when preparing couples for marriage and baptism. I speak as one who shares the struggles to get it right… READ MORE

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Thousands of pro-lifers descended upon Planned Parenthood clinics across America this morning to participate in a nationwide protest aimed at cutting off federal funding for the controversial health-care organization.

The demonstrations unfolded at about 320 clinics around the nation, according to organizers, with some gatherings drawing a few dozen protesters and others drawing hundreds and perhaps thousands more.

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The protests come after a pro-life group secretly filmed a series of videos that show Planned Parenthood employees horrifically organising the illegal harvest and sale of organs from aborted babies.

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Monica Miller, the director of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, one of the participating groups, said that previous protests have drawn thousands of protesters, but hundreds of simultaneous protests have never taken place on the same day.

“We want to draw attention to the injustice of legalized abortion,” she said. “The American public needs to be awakened to the atrocity of what is happening to innocent unborn children.”

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There were internationally organised protests held in Belfast – Northern Ireland,  Dublin – Ireland, Bratislava – Slovak Republic, Escuinapa Sinaloa – Mexico and Tegucigalpa – Honduras. In England there were protests in Birmingham and London.

Julie Anna attended the London protest: “I just wanted to make sure that IPPF (International Planned Parenthood Federation) heard our protest from London. Just because we’re not in America doesn’t mean we’re not disgusted by what they’re doing.”

Organizers have billed the simultaneous protests as unprecedented – the largest-ever against Planned Parenthood. The Pro-life movement just got stronger!

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Photo credit – Daniel Blackman

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Last week I began a novena to Our Lady for my husbands recovery from CFS/M.E. He has been ill for several years now and has not been able to work for over 18 months.

We decided to try a new treatment called the Lightning Process. We had read many testimonials saying that the results from this treatment are outstanding and pretty much immediate. We were skeptical, but desperate. This was going to be our last ditch attempt before we conceded that he was not going to be going back to work and we would have to start changing our life accordingly.

The treatment is working. My husband is well!

At the worst points Nick could not lift his head off the pillow. I had to help him up and down the stairs. Getting dressed took over an hour. It is difficult to describe the effect this has had on our marriage over the last few years. But now the man I married has come back!

Our 9 year old can just about remember what Daddy was like before he got ill a few years ago. Our 5 year old can’t. Our toddler has never known her father well.

This is just the start – we all need to adjust to this massive change in Nick’s recovery, and there is certainly a long way to go in rebuilding our life and our marriage again. But now we know that this can finally, finally start to happen.

I don’t know how it has happened or why it has been pretty much instantaneous and quite frankly I don’t care! But what I do know is that a few days ago he didn’t feel well enough to leave the house and today he is doing cartwheels!

A few days ago this (below video) would have been impossible. But now his vision, balance, muscle use and control, digestive system, emotional responses and mood have returned to a normal state. It’s nothing short of a miracle. Thanks be to God! THANKS BE TO GOD!!! And thank you also to everyone who has been praying for us.

 

By Fr Dylan James.

Jn 6:41-51; 1 Kgs 19:4-8
It’d like you to consider a question that I recently read in a book on the Eucharist (Abbot Vonier, A Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist, Chapter 4):
If the priest at the altar was to call down Jesus Christ from heaven, Jesus in His natural state as a full-grown man, would this be something more or something less that what actually happens in the sacrament of the Eucharist?

It’s a bold image, but Abbot Vonier points out that this would actually be something LESS that the reality we have in the sacrament. Yes, it would be more visually dramatic, but it would lack something that a sacrament has, namely, it would lack the value of SIGN and symbol.
At the level of reality, both would be the same, since the Eucharist is truly Christ: His Body, His Blood, His Soul and His Divinity (Catechism n.1374), as the true Faith professes.
At the level of PRESENCE both would be the same.
But at the level of sign and symbol the sacrament has something that His body in its natural state does not.

Abbot Vonier notes that every sacrament uses signs in such a way that it connects the past, present, and future. The past, meaning the events of salvation history, as recorded in the Bible. The present, that we live in. And the future eternal life, that is opened up to us by our connection with those saving events of past. So, for example, the saving of the Israelites in the parting of the Red Sea is brought into the present by the water of the sacrament of Baptism, opening the door to heaven.

Let me point to just two of the signs that are made present in the Eucharist.

First, there is the sign of food, of nourishment.
If the Lord came down in His body in its natural state then He would be visible as Himself, but He would not be visible as food for our souls.
Yet, being our spiritual food is a vital part of what He is to us: Our souls need feeding, and He provides the food in the Eucharist.
Our first reading, with Elijah being fed with miraculous food that kept him going for his 40 day journey is a foretaste of this Eucharistic feeding. The Eucharist feeds us not for a 40 day journey but for the journey towards our eternal home in heaven.

Second, there is the sign of sacrifice.
Christ instituted the Eucharist under the two appearances of bread and wine, and the Catholic Faith articulates that each is fully Him. It is not that a bit of Him is over here and another bit of Him is over there, rather, He is fully present under each form (Catechism n.1377) -what is called the doctrine of concomitance.
But the form of the two different species is a sign of something else, namely, of death and sacrifice.
In a living person body and blood are together. When they are separated death occurs.
The sign value of separate bread and wine is thus that of the sacrifice of Calvary. And what the Eucharist makes present is the one eternal sacrifice of Calvary, of the Cross, made present and re-presented, offered on our altar.
Again, if He appeared in just His natural bodily state this sign and symbol would not be present.

To sum that up, a sacrament is the Lord being present, but more than just this: it is sign also.
The Eucharist is His Presence par excellence. But it is also a sign, and among those signs are those of His feeding us and of His being the sacrifice that takes our sins away.
And when we meet Him this way in the sacrament His saving events of the past are brought into the present to carry us on to heaven.

 

One of the most heartbreaking things is when you find a piece of sacred clothing that has not been cared for properly, or that has simply been shoved to the back of the sacristy because it has ‘fallen out of fashion’ (whatever that means). But restoring it is an extremely joyful and satisfying experience…. READ MORE

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So i have been working extremely hard over the last few weeks finishing the Marian 5 piece set i’ve been working on. Also getting my new website sorted and all my new branding.

having a background in graphic design has been really useful as has my experience of running a wedding cake business. All these skill i have acquired over the years have been transferred into what i believe will be a very successful new sewing business.

As far as i can tell there is a huge need for beautiful designed vestments. The fashions of the last few decades are now fading away. Thank goodness we will no longer be subjected to vestments such as this:

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or this:

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or this:

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or this:

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or this:

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or this:

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or this:

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or even this:

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Yeah – I know. Once you see it you can’t un-see it. Try some of this to help your poor exposed eyes:

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Anyway…

The new priests coming though seminary today understand the importance of dignified beautiful vestments and evangelistic qualities of what people see during the liturgy. This also applies of course to the music we choose to use during Mass and also the architecture of our churches – but my job is to focus on the vestments!

So here is the Marian 5 piece set i just made:

Marian 5 piece set

I would love for you to visit the Di Clara website and read about what inspired this set. CLICK HERE to visit the Di Clara website and see some of the gorgeous embroidery i did for this set – and don’t forget to like the Facebook page and tell all your priest friends! I’m taking orders now, and even though i’m based in London UK i can ship worldwide!

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Medugorije seer Vicka and Archbishop Leonard

WORLD FAMOUS conservative Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard has declared his personal belief in the apparitions of Medjugorje since reflecting on a week spent with Medjugorje visionary Vicka Ivankovic who had her daily apparitions in his presence whilst on Pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

The Primate of Belgium, known as ‘the Belgian Ratzinger’ for his conservative and pro-traditionalist views, shared his reflections with………..(click here to read full story)

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I have learned more about how to approach and regard suffering from St Therese than anyone else. I wouldn’t say that the suffering is any less painful now – just that I am not overwhelmed by anguish because of it. In fact, with the help of Therese i can begin to see glimmers of indescribable joy and peace within suffering. Nowhere am I closer to Christ than when I am being crucified along side Him.

But who shaped Therese’s view of suffering? Who did she learn all this from? Who were her examples?

Well, the two most influential people in any child’s life are their Mother and Father. In Therese’s case, she had two incredible role models in regards to suffering.

Born into a military family, Zelie described her childhood and youth as “dismal.” Her mother and father showed her little affection. As a young lady, she sought unsuccessfully to enter the religious order of the sisters of the Hotel-Dieu.

After marrying at age 26, Zelie bore nine children, seven girls and two boys. “We lived only for them,” Zelie wrote; “they were all our happiness.” Zélie, in contrast to her own mother, was very loving to her daughters, and combined her roles in a busy routine of homemaker, businesswoman and tender mother.

The Martins’ delight in their children turned to shock and sorrow as tragedy relentlessly and mercilessly stalked their little ones. Within three years, Zelie’s two baby boys, a five year old girl, and a six-and-a-half week old infant girl all died.

Zelie was left numb with sadness. “I haven’t a penny’s worth of courage,” she lamented. But her faith sustained her through these terrible ordeals. In a letter to her sister-in-law who had lost an infant son, Zelie remembered: “When I closed the eyes of my dear little children and buried them, I felt sorrow through and through….People said to me, ‘It would have been better never to have had them.’ I couldn’t stand such language. My children were not lost forever; life is short and full of miseries, and we shall find our little ones again up above.” 

Zelie developed breast cancer and died when Therese was just 5 years old. She left her husband of 15 years, Louis – a watchmaker – to bring up their surviving 5 daughters on his own.

Louis adored his daughters and openly declared “I am a big child with my children!” But it was not just his wife who would depart from him. Each of his 5 remaining daughters would enter the convent. Louis’s paternal heart did not find it easy to part with his girls, especially his “Queen,” little Thérèse.

Louis also knew illness. He suffered dementia in his final years but was cared for at home until the end.

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So these were the people who shaped Therese from the start. These gentle kind and loving parents who knew so much suffering. And although great suffering had left its mark on mother and father, it was not the scar of bitterness.

Therese is of course the most famous member of the Martin family. Nevertheless, the sanctity of the parents was prior to that of the daughter—both in time and, to a degree, in causality. Louis and Zelie were not saintly because they raised a saint; they raised a saint because they were saintly.

The more i get to know about this couple the more indebted i feel towards them. It was the little day to day things that shaped Therese and her sisters. They way their grief was born with such acceptance and humility. The way that Zelie set aside her lace making business to spend two hours on a dolls’ dinner party. All these day to day little things that may have seemed totally insignificant and normal at the time, were actually the cause of their sanctification and tiny shoots of future sainthood for them and their daughter Therese. It makes me view my own day-to-day trials in a completely different light.

The Church’s focus on lay sanctity has been more explicit since the Second Vatican Council, which identified the lay vocation as follows: “They live in the world, that is, in each and in all of the secular professions and occupations. They live in the ordinary circumstances of family and social life, from which the very web of their existence is woven. They are called there by God that by exercising their proper function and led by the spirit of the Gospel they may work for the sanctification of the world from within as a leaven.” Louis and Zélie Martin, in the “ordinary circumstances” of family life, of labour, of prayer, and of play, fulfilled this description to the letter.

As I finish my novena to Louis and Zelie tomorrow I will pray that I not only learn a deeper understanding of day-to-day life and day-to-day love and suffering from their daughter Therese, but also imitate Louis and Zelie’s practical example of how to live this truth of love and suffering in my own home.

Blessed Louis and Zelie, pray for us.

St Therese, pray for us.

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By Fr. Simon Dray

Today is my 2nd anniversary of becoming a priest.

We might ask, ‘what do you do as a priest?’, but in this 2nd year of priesthood there’s been a deeper appreciation that priesthood is less about ‘doing’ and more about ‘being’.

My diary’s still full, but a priest is meant to be an ‘alter Christus’ ‘another Christ to the world’. Through the Priesthood, Christ the head continues to make himself present to his body, the Church.

The priest accompanies those carrying heavy crosses – people who do so with great humility and love despite their burdens. I initially thought, ‘at the very least I can pray and offer Mass for their intentions’.

Another priest corrected me, saying ‘no saying Mass is the most we can ever do because we are priests’. The Mass isn’t something that we (collectively) do. It remains Christ’s work of our redemption. He told us when he is ‘lifted up he will draw all men to himself’. In the Eucharist he does exactly that, so it’s the highest prayer we can offer for someone.

When the priest pronounces ‘this is my body… this is my blood’, they aren’t merely the words of the Institution Narrative, but of Consecration because it’s Christ, the Word of God who is speaking them!

In the same way, ‘Do this in memory of me’, means we aren’t re-enacting an ancient historical event, but are once again drawn into his saving passion, death and resurrection. God gives us back our life; one that endures for the eternal life.

Dying on a cross is humiliating and lonely. Those closest to Christ had betrayed, denied and deserted him. Only John, the beloved disciple, his Blessed Mother and the other women took station with him. In the Eucharist, Christ as God, finds a way never to be alone on the cross.

That’s why we go to Sunday Mass and why it matters if we choose to be absent because it means we’re missing from the foot of the cross – again! Coming to Mass makes us like the ‘beloved disciple’ and we stand by him as he gives his life as a ransom for many.

Only the fruit of the cross can sustain the Christian life as it gives us the grace to be faithful to Christ, who is the way, the truth and the life. Bishop Richard, at Festival 50, said, ‘we need priests, for unless our communities have at their centre the celebration of the Eucharist, the Mass, they will not be Catholic communities in the true sense’.

We must get real! If we want priests we can’t sit around waiting for the bishop to send us one. Indeed, it’s the other way round – we must send, from this community, our sons, brothers and nephews so he can ordain them!

Priestly vocations come from practising Catholic families. Pray that tonight we go home and make the Eucharist and Priesthood a priority for our family discussions and prayer.

Pray for priests. Pray for this priest, and for all Catholic priests all around the world.

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