Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Puer natus est

A child is born! I am delighted that our son, Joseph was born on Sunday. 

Since my wife and I found out we have a child almost nine months ago we were filled with joy - but also worries, concerns and had lots of practical issues to think and pray about. 

We chose the name Joseph for our son as we thought that no one could be a greater example of a virtuous, virile man than Saint Joseph, husband of Mary and incidentally, patron saint of China. 

Virtuous and virile - two words that come from the word "vir" meaning man. I pray that he will be blessed and strengthened in every way and that he will become the child and man that God wants him to be. 

Please pray for my wife's health and for Joseph to grow strong and for me to get my priorities right - Christ, then my wife, then my son - with self last. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Humble and inclusive liturgy - in the spirit of St Francis

I am so fortunate to live in Hong Kong to be able to worship at a church where they have an unusually humble and inclusive form of liturgy at Mass.  There has been a lot of talk recently about humility and how important this for the Church - how priests in particular should be more humble.

The form of worship at the Mass I attend is not only in the spirit of Saint Francis of Assisi but is actually a form of worship that he would recognise when he served as a deacon so many hundreds of years ago.

When I attend Mass, the priest will genuflect upon approaching the altar indicating that its about Christ not himself.  Our priest will bow down low as he personally confesses his sins to God - specifically asking for prayers of the angels, saints and the people around him.

In this truly humble liturgy the priest shows his oneness with the People of God by facing the same direction as them - in doing so he doesn't draw attention to himself but towards Christ, the crucifix and Eucharist.  He will bow his head at the name of Jesus and the Trinity and will genuflect in adoration every time he passes the tabernacle too.

In the creed he will use a term for 'human beings' rather than 'man' - which is a wonderful example of encompassing all.  The Mass I prefer to attend uses extremely inclusive language - in fact the congregation of Chinese, French, English, Spanish and Tagalog speakers all feel able to worship together with one voice and unlike the vast majority of other Masses I have been to - the diverse congregation joins in!

This focus on God rather than the person of the priest throughout the Mass continues in a number of gestures. A wonderful example is that during the Eucharistic Prayer he will fall to his knees in adoration the moment the words of consecration have been uttered - both before and after he has shown the Body of Christ and the chalice to the people.

This humble and inclusive way of worshipping isn't just available in Hong Kong - just google "Tridentine Mass" and you too might find one in your town or city too.

The Latin Mass: A humble and inclusive form of worship

Monday, October 07, 2013

Become a saint or go to Hell

Do not watch this video.

Do not watch this video unless you're prepared to be challenged and changed:

Fr Larry Richards is like a spiritual coach who drives men to the next level. He  reminds me of Mickey in the Rocky films - screaming at him to get up when he's knocked over, battered, bruised and bloodied. 

You may not be brave enough to watch this but I hope that if you do, you will find it uncomfortable - and in the same way that Rocky was exhausted but somehow got up and fought another round - you seize the moment and allow these strong words to impact your life. 

Fr Larry is hard hitting, the words are strong and he doesn't hold back - if you don't have an hour right now just watch the last ten minutes. 

His message to men? Become a saint - or go to Hell. 

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Protecting the gift within

I was reflecting and thanking God recently for my amazing wife and the love she shows not only to me but to our unborn son. 

Since we knew we were expecting a child, my wife has avoided any food or drink that might harm our baby and actively taken steps each day to protect and strengthen him. She avoids situations that might stress him and speaks to him regularly throughout the day. She will take extra care to have food and supplements that help our baby even if they cause her discomfort. 

My thoughts are that all of us in a state of grace have an amazing gift within us. Do I take as much care of that grace within me as my wife does for our son?

My wife's example challenged me to do everything possible to remain in a state of grace: weekly confession and Mass, daily examination of conscience, regular conversational prayer with Christ and to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to me any areas of unforgiveness within that is preventing me from living a grace filled life. 

Scripture itself speaks powerfully of the link between confession and efficacious prayer: "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." (James 5:16) When we remain in a state of grace we can powerfully impact our families by our prayer - being the leaders our wives and children need. 

As I pray for and give thanks for my wife and son, I should also do the same for the great gift of grace and ask God to protect the gift within. 

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Remember gentlemen ...

... Real Men Pray the Rosary

I have to confess that I didn't really pray the rosary much at all until my fiancĂ©e, who had just become Catholic received one from me and a couple of others as a gift.  She had been trained in prayer (extremely well) by her former non-denominational (but basically Pentecostal) Christian community in intercessory prayer and once she started using the rosary was amazed at how powerful this is.

On my wedding day a good friend of mine who had been through a number of ups and downs in his life said that the blessings he had received all coincided with when he had been praying the rosary.  Since that time I have prayed this daily - often whilst walking or travelling on the train (or when the priest preaches in Cantonese at our local traditional Mass) - and strongly recommend it.

In this month of the Holy Rosary, how about we start with at least one decade and take the time to meditate on the mysteries and apply these to our daily lives.  Our Lady of Victories - pray for us!