Sunday, November 30, 2014

An Advent Challenge

What can I do to prepare myself to receive Christ this Christmas?

Advent often seems to disappear into a few weeks of alcoholic excesses with office "Christmas" parties weeks before the season begins and so what can I do differently this year?

Over the next 25 days I shall make a resolution to chose at least one person a day who needs encouraging and reach out to them. It could be a stranger, colleague, friend - but a new person each day. 

By Christmas, this should be firmly ingrained as a habit. What greater gift can I give to Him who gives Himself to us?


Advent reminds me that God became a single cell, an embryo, a foetus and a newborn child. All human life is sacred from the moment of conception and God wants to be involved with us in our humanity.

Our faith is more than a call to be spiritual but a reminder that we must be authentic human beings reaching out to one another in love.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Speaking of grace with Baptists

I was asked recently to speak at a lunch in Hong Kong - a Baptist evangelical outreach to non Christians and those who need encouragement in their faith. 

As the time of my talk approached I felt a little nervous. Did they know I'm Catholic?  Would I be booed off the stage or would there be awkward questions as to whether I would renounce propery and accept salvation?

My fears were unfounded. I began by asking prayers of all present and I didn't hide the fact I'm Catholic - quoting heroes from Saint Jerome to others who in more recent years inspired me such as Fr Hilary Carter, an Assumptionist priest in the parish I grew up in and Fr Allen Morris who was my tutor in seminary at Allen Hall. 

It shouldn't amaze me but we asked the Holy Spirit to come and He did. I had baptists telling me that they had experienced and encountered grace in a powerful way and me, a Catholic, felt a little ashamed at by fears beforehand. 

False ecumenism is sometimes about ignoring truth but true unity has to be based on truth and witness combined with love. Every story I shared was summarised by biblical quotations to emphasise the points made. 

My main focus of my talk was to share what the bible teaches us about grace and then to invite people to allow their lives to be transformed by grace. As always when I'm asked to speak to a Christian group, the main person I'm speaking to is myself.