Friday, December 07, 2018

Don't lie to your children about Santa Claus


On 6th December it seems fitting to bring up the subject of whether we should lie to our children about Santa Claus. 

Many Christian parents think that it's perfectly acceptable to tell things to our children that are not true and pretend they are and somehow hope that they will believe us when we speak to them about God and His Church.

My wife and I have three young children and we made a decision very early on to speak the truth about Santa Claus.   This doesn't "ruin the magic of Christmas" - it brings them joy and wonder.


We do not lie to our children.  We tell them the truth about Santa Claus.

Let's stop telling the lie that Santa Claus isn't real.

We tell our children that Santa Claus is real, that he loves Jesus and lives with Him in heaven and that we can ask him to pray for and with us all year round.  

Saint Nicholas, pray for us!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Liturgically Correct Non Valentine's Greetings

I'm concerned at the number  of young people who are rigidly sticking to the older form of the Roman Rite and insisting on celebrating Saint Valentine today rather than Saints Cyril and Methodius.  

In order to address this rigidity,  I encourage you all to join me in writing liturgical correct greetings to your loved ones according to the newer form: 

Your lips they are red
Your voice is melodious
It has to be said
You're my Cyril and Methodiius!

Your voice it is pure, your heart it is mine
Not just in Septuagesima, I mean ordinary time. 
You mean more to me than acorns to a squirrel 
Will you be my Methodius and Cyril?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Defending the faith in charity

My favourite Catholic evangelist is Matt Fradd. I'd listened to a number of his talks about purity and also defending Catholic teachings. 

I like the way he uses humour and personal stories to illustrate his points. It wasn't until recently that I realised that he prefers the Traditional Latin Mass. 

This debate below is a wonderful example of how we can debate with other people in a loving but powerful way. Matt Fradd is speaking with a former Catholic, Baptist Pastor. 

http://mattfradd.com/my-interview-with-ex-catholic-baptist-pastor/

My favourite quotations include:

"I would call it a deformation not reformation."

"You were taught using the Baltimore Catechism? Good! I teach my children from the same catechism."

"There's a lot of misunderstanding about Vatican II ... Latin should have pride of place ... it's not that the priest had his back to the people but was praying with the people."

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Lent in the year of mercy

It strikes me that rather than an overly complicated plan for Lent, the most simply way of living this time of preparation for Easter are: fast - be merciful and be joyful.  

It is good to fast each day - not to give up eating but to considerably reduce this. Be conscious about small acts of denial to self and replace them with prayer. 

Be merciful - especially in the Year of Mercy - let's be more conscious about living the corporate and spiritual works of mercy. How can we be kind to others?

Be joyful - Lent is a time of looking forward to Easter - a time of self-denial but also a time to look forward in hope. 


Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Communion of Saints

I've always been Catholic but rarely any good at it. Acknowledging the faith - giving intellectual assent - comes easy to me but believing in it, that is, actually living it, has often eluded me. 

The Communion of Saints is a good example of something that I've always believed but rarely practised (apart from the rosary and formal prayers to saints).

I've probably spent more time arguing that it's OK to ask the saints to pray for us than actually doing so. 

This changed in October 2007. I had booked a holiday in Venice in Italy - I was meant to go with someone else but due to circumstances I ended up going alone. This was one of the most difficult periods of my life. 

The beauty of the City captivated me - it gave me a sense of deep lonliness and yet deep joy. I was in the Piazza San Marco, all alone on my birthday and looked ahead to the Basilica of Saint Mark. 
I looked up and felt called to ask Saint Mark to pray for me.  I then had a sense of peace and an awareness of what he had suffered to bring the Gospel to others. This gave me courage. 

Later during that trip, visiting the beautiful church named Santa Maria della Salute, I looked up before entering and asked our Mother to pray for me and to give me health.  


When I walked inside, I prayed asking each of the saints to pray with and for me.  Inside I found a painting which I guessed was Saint Mark - I also recognised Saint Sebastian and asked him to pray for me. 

I had no idea who the other saints were but asked them to pray for me too. Little did I know that one of them was my patron, Saint Damian*, along with others. I then later walked through streets named after saints and again asked their intercession. 

My experience of the Communion of saints at one of the toughest times in my life gave me a great sense of not being alone but part of something bigger than myself. It was an insight into how amazing it is to be Catholic - part of something truly universal - the Church Militant that exists on earth, the Church Suffering in purgatory - those being cleansed for eternity and the Church Triumphant - those saints in heaven itself. 



*St Damian is actually my patron saint's patron saint but I'll take as many prayers as I can get. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

10 things I love about the New Mass

The following are some of the things I love about the newer form of the Roman Rite when celebrated with dignity. 


1. Worship  

The Mass is the unbloody sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ. There can be no higher form of worship.  Christ is truly present, body, blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist. Christ is also present in the priest, in the proclamation of the Word of God and in the people gathered to worship in His name. 

2. Reverence

The reverence of the priest genuflecting towards the Blessed Sacrament when he passes the tabernacle before and after Mass, after the consecration of the Body and Bloody of Christ and before he receives Holy Communion,  the bowing, the silent prayers, the gestures all turn our hearts and minds to the Lord. The Sanctus bell and incense can also add to the sense of solemnity.
 
3. Silence. 

The silence commanded by the newer form of the Roman Rite include within the Act of Penitence and again after the invitation to pray before the Collect; there should be silence at the conclusion of each reading and homily so that all may meditate briefly on what they have heard; then after Communion, there should be silence so that we may praise and pray to God in our hearts.

4. History continuity. 

The Mass retains some of the gestures, prayers and ritual that the saints would have been familiar with back through the centuries. The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults has restored some ancient liturgical practises such as the dismissal of catechumens etc which have also been retained in eastern liturgies. 

5. Music

The preferred music at Mass should be Gregorian chant. I find that this music is powerful, easy to sing and unites the congregation in worship. It brings to mind the continuity of the Catholic Faith and reminds us we are not alone. If Gregorian chant is not used then preference should be given to singing the Mass itself either in Latin or a local language rather than to a collection of hymns. 

6. Gestures

When we make the sign of the cross using holy water we are reminded of our baptism, the incarnation, the Trinity and Christ's sacrifice. When we strike ourselves in the confiteor, bow profoundly at the words of the incarnation in the creed; bow at the name of Jesus, Mary or the saint of the day, when we stand for the Gospel and kneel for the Eucharistic Prayer, our whole bodies are involved in worship. 

7. Doctrine

Every single Catholic teaching is included in the newer form of the Roman rite - our need to worship, confess our sins, praise, give thanks. I love the fact that the modern version of the Confiteor reminds us that we sin in what we fail to do as well as in our thoughts, words and deeds. The Mass should reinforce our belief in the real presence and our understanding of the Communion of the Saints. The newer form of the Roman rite includes prayers for the dead and prayers to protect us from Satan. 

8. The focus of the priest and people. 

The priest and people should all focus on the altar and a crucifix should be nearby. This is more obvious where Mass is celebrated ad orientem as in this photo of Pope Francis but should also be the case when Mass is celebrated facing the people. These all bring us out of ourselves and  focus our minds and hearts on God. 

9. Language

Latin is still the language of the Latin Church and has a beauty and poetry that expresses clearly and succinctly our faith. Local languages are usually used in the newer form of the Roman Rite - but thanks to reforms in recent years, these are now faithful translations. 

10. Unity

It is unusual for the whole of the Mass to be offered in Latin in the newer form of the Roman Rite but when parts of the Mass are sung in Latin, there's a powerful sense of inclusiveness and unity of spirit with one another.  Even if we don't understand the language and cannot take part in the responses due to so many languages being used, we are united in faith. 

10 things I love about the Latin Mass

The following are some of the things I love about the older form of the Roman Rite when celebrated with dignity. 


1. Worship 

The Mass is the unbloody sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ. There can be no higher form of worship. Christ is truly present, body, blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist. Christ is also present in the priest, in the proclamation of the Word of God and in the people gathered to worship in His name. 

2. Reverence

The reverence of the priest including (usually) facing the tabernacle, the bowing, the silent prayers, the gestures all turn our hearts and minds to the Lord. The Sanctus bell and incense can also add to the sense of solemnity. 

3. Silence. 

The silent prayers and in particular the canon (Eucharistic prayer) are powerful aids to prayer and meditation. 

4. History continuity. 

The Mass is ancient and extends back to the time of Christ, who instituted it. Many of the  gestures, prayers and ritual of the older form of the Roman Rite would have been familiar with saints back through the centuries. 

5. Music

A High Mass or Missa Cantata should give preference to Gregorian chant. I find that this music is powerful, easy to sing and unites the congregation in worship. It brings to mind the continuity of the Catholic Faith and how we are not alone. 

6. Gestures

When we make the sign of the cross using holy water we are reminded of our baptism, the incarnation, the Trinity and Christ's sacrifice. When we strike ourselves in the confiteor, kneel in adoration at the words of the incarnation in the creed and Last Gospel, when we stand for the Gospel and kneel for Holy Communion, our whole bodies are involved in worship. 

7. Doctrine

Every single Catholic teaching is included in the older form of the Roman rite - our need to worship, confess our sins, praise, give thanks. Our belief in the real presence and our understanding of the Communion of the Saints.  The older form of the Roman rite includes prayers for the dead and prayers to protect us from Satan. 

8. The focus of the priest and people. 

The priest and people focussing on the altar, the crucifix and and the tabernacle. These all bring us out of ourselves and  focus our minds and hearts on God. 

9. Language

Latin has a beauty and poetry that express clearly and succinctly our faith. It is a language hallowed by almost two thousand years of usage by Catholics and c.1,500 years in a liturgical setting.  It is a language that goes back to the time of Christ Himself. 

10. Unity

The Latin Mass enables people of a variety of languages and cultures to worship together. Living in Hong Kong, I love the fact I can praise God alongside an individual who doesn't speak English.  I love the fact that we kneel next to one another to receive Holy Communion rather than individually lining up.