Sunday, 29 June 2008

The Year of St Paul

I'm really looking forward to the year of St Paul, so I wish all my readers a very happy and fruitful year following the great man.

One of the more boring bits about teaching in the dregs of the school year is invigilating the end of year examinations. However, if you are in a classroom it does allow you have a look at the books on the shelves. The other day I found myself invigilating the yr 8s in the RE room and so I had a look at a decidedly Protestant book on the nature of Evil, remember I am not in a Catholic secondary school. Firstly, I found it very well written and could understand why it had been so well borrowed by the sixth formers. Secondly, I was staggered by some of the arguments put forward (they seemed so alien to me). There were arguments against God's generosity, saying he was wasteful of his bounty. There were arguments against God's perfection and omnipotence for allowing the holocaust. There were arguments in favour of the imperfection of God, becuase there is so much evil in the world.

Isn't God good and generous for allowing people to protest so much? God doesn't tend to smite much these days. The love and patience of the Father is so gentle it is beyond comprehension.

God gives his gifts and himself in abundance, knowing full well much will be thrown back at him. He makes himself vulnerable for us, though naturally we only hurt ourselves by not accepting his gifts. God can not be hurt, though he may weep for us. What is more vulnerable than a foetus? What is more vulnerable than the Real Presence? What is more vulnerable than dying naked on the cross? The Catholic Church gives us such an intimate relationship with God, how can we protest when the hand that guides us is so gentle and so forgiving, yet so mighty?

Yet some amongst us do protest and do so loudly, read the letters page of the Catholic Times is you really want to cringe. Pray for all those that from within the Church seek to find fault with its teachings, and pray also that full conversion of their hearts should be uppermost in our actions and prayers. I really see this year a being one of necessary evangelisation of the faithful. I'm sure St Paul relishes the challenge too!

This is a wake up call to us all. Am I alone in sensing a timeliness and urgency about the Pauline year? Can we all not pick on one vitriolic, loud, Catholic Church basher and pray real hard this year for his/her conversion, I have an Marist priest and theologian who lives in Dublin in my sights, what about you?

Sorry if I'm not making much sense, I'm really struggling to find the right words these days. The stress of the last year is getting to me and having to sell a house is proving to be a little unpleasant.

Monday, 23 June 2008

What not to wear

Why do we spend so much time noticing what the other fella is wearing?

When we first arrived at this parish, the priest said that he could tell we were from "ooop north" as we dressed up to go to Mass. It didn't stop us, but we still feel a little self-conscious.

Why am I so irritated by skinny youth sat on the pew infront, in trousers that defy gravity and hang on some immaginary hip-bone, simultaneously revealing vast amounts of underpant?

Similarly, lacey thong protruding from the top of some mother's jeans, old enough to know better...

Is it right to be so critical of the other fella's attitude towards spending time with Our Lord.

I'm increasingly feeling I should cover my head when at Mass, but I know a mantilla would cause some consternation in the parish and the conversation generated would be unhealthy. The same goes for wearing a hat, I'd be over 6 foot in a hat and I'd just take up too much room. So can I cover my head without causing a scene?

These sites below have given me ideas; modest and not too flashy or making me out to be a rampant traditionalist....I really don't know what to do.

Headcoverings by Devorah

Monday, 16 June 2008

Angels and Fallen Angels

A sermon from a while ago has been going round in my head, and whilst I can't remember it verbatim the logic behind it sends me round and round in circles.

Only God is omnipotent. The angels are not omnipotent. They are spirit that can manifest themselves in a form more recognisable to humans when they need to. Because they are not omnipotent, they can't be in two places at once. Likewise, Satan the fallen angel is not omnipotent, this would make him more powerful than the angels, which he isn't, so he can only be troubling one person at a time.

Whilst the sermon was about St Michael, at this point, you can probably guess what I was thinking. Well, phew, I'm only a small, insignificant cog in the machinery, the chances of Satan being bothered with me are small. He'll be with the big, important guys. If I'm really unlucky, one of his minions might start whispering in my ears...the big ugly fella isn't going to be bothered with me.

Hang on though, does this then mean that the angels and saints can only deal with one prayer request at a time (please hold, your prayer is in a queue and will be dealt with as soon as possible, your prayers are important to us...)? Quick, find some obscure saint with a little more of eternity on his hands than the really busy, popular ones, your bound to have success with them!!

No, this is rubbish! The saints must be able to deal with multiple prayer requests, they can and do spend quality time with us, when we need them, but not at the expense of any other needy soul. Everything is possible because of the boundless love of our Creator.

Now is Satan as powerful as ever? I'd say so. Then where is he getting his power from? He is not getting it from God. Satan is indeed weak if he can only influence one person at a time. In his wrath, hatred and spite for the beautiful, innocent, chaste St Gemma Galgani, as he dealt severe blows upon her body and mind, was the rest of the world at that time not then safe from his influence? That has to be wrong. Satan must be able to do more than one piece of harm at a time. Yes, but where is his power coming from????

Terrifyingly, the answer has to be, his power comes from us? If we deny God and set ourselves up to be like gods then we are doing his work for him, we are making him stronger. Also if we deny Satan's existence similar things will happen. His most successful traits are apathy and sloth, he's more than happy for us to work for him without his even having to try. I can see him enjoying making himself into human form and going to parties in rural Oxfordshire at some grand, but private house. Unable to enjoy the sensual pleasures God gave us humans, but deriving great pleasure from watching humans debase these pleasures through selfish lusts, greed and desire. That is what makes him stronger. Then the endless conversations he will get involved in, the intellectual chattering classes and moral ambiguity of intelligent people justifying their godlessness and "humanity" without God. This doesn't just have to be with the policy makers and people of the media, it can happen in school staffrooms and works canteens too.

Are we active enough in our Faith to combat his activities and persuasions? Are we ready for the wrath and severe temptations he inflicts on those who are on the path to holiness. Are we willing enough to curb our tongues and minds to prevent even a whiff of slander being added to the world and increasing his power even slightly.

Hmmm, sobering stuff. Have I taken a wrong turn somewhere with this line of thought? Where did the giver of the sermon get his ideas from? Are those ideas wrong in the first place?

All glory be to God!
St Michael pray for us!

Friday, 13 June 2008

Denying God makes you look stupid.

An athiest colleague and a gifted mathematician quoted the following from the Telegraph at me today as evidence that those who believe in God are stupid.

A survey of Royal Society fellows found that only 3.3 per cent believed in God - at a time when 68.5 per cent of the general UK population described themselves as believers.

Anyway the manic glee in her voice as she said it, gave the game away, and made her look pretty foolish. What's so good about the Royal Society anyway? They threw Eric Laithwaite out and he's "top banana".

I am praying for her, she is carrying round an awful lot of bitterness, though I have to say I am quite glad I won't be working with her next academic year.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Mac is having car trouble. Maybe we should get her this car, it doesn't seem to have a window problem.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

10 people meme

Kirk and WSNS suggested anyone who wanted to could consider themselves tagged with this meme: ten people you would like to spend 10 minutes with.

I thought I'd give it a go.

(1) St Paul If I could have been at one of the houses where he stayed on his travels, I'd have loved to look into his eyes, not talk, just look and let others do the talking. I imagine he had the kindest eyes in one of the roughest, most knocked about faces. Also, whilst his letters aren't exactly full of rib ticklers, I'm sure he had a great sense of humour.

(2) Pope Paul VI

(3) King Henry VI I've already mentioned my affection for this monarch, I'd like to know more.

(4) Margaret of Anjou wife of the above, but not in her husband's company, a fascinating woman in her own right.

(5) St Anne Line If I had half her bravery and common sense.....

(6) Isabella Bird A fine lady, anyone who travels through Malaya with water soaked linen bands under her corset to keep cool, is OK by me.

(7)Hedy Lamar A real beauty and a pretty good physicist too.

(8) Zheng He The famous eunuch and explorer with the same clan name as me.

(9) Joseph Rotblat The only person to resign from the Manhattan Project, a physicist of integrity and a man of peace.

(10) E.F Schumacher A Catholic convert and man of great wisdom, his ideas should be taken much more seriously.

A photo of Hedy Lamar cos she's the only one who is mildly photogenic.

Now, other reader, consider yourself tagged.

Monday, 9 June 2008


Sorry, chaps but I don't function well in hot weather. I've had to read through some **** recently and am thinking of nominating a new award to various people who are in charge in education in this country. They have got me in a very "nowty" frame of mind. I will not go into details until the exam season is over in case any of our fine students come across this blog and start worrying.

Anyway, be warned, for making me read and digest drivel: YOU know who YOU are, this is for YOU and you may hazard a guess as to where you should stick it.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Pharisees, Planks and Publicans

There is a generic sermon I've heard once too often that goes something like this:

We mustn't be like the Pharisees, they were so loving of the rules of their faith they forgot to heed the word of God. Jesus lambasts the Pharisees for their hypocrisy. We mustn't be like them, we must be people who do good in God's name.

OK so there is nothing wrong with that as it stands. The Pharisees do come in for a tongue lashing from Our Lord (and from John the Baptist too), this is necessary to show us how those who very outwardly profess and demonstrate the rituals of their faith may be masking a multitude of sins and behaving in a hypocritical manner. Hypocrisy needs exposing, we must all strive to remove it from ourselves as we examine our consciences. The rules and regulations that so enticed the Pharisees were mainly to do with preserving their ritual purity. They seemed to forget that the purity we should strive for is a pure heart and that a pure heart is also a contrite and humble heart.

What is bugging me is that the term Pharisee is being bandied about to mean someone who outwardly shows signs of his/her faith. Some people seem to think the modern day Pharisee may look something like this

Some laugh at outward signs of piety, some are convinced it is the root of the rot in the Church. Be normal regular guys, be cool and certainly don't go for any of these outward symbols of your faith and the rebuking the Pharisees received from Jesus will not fall on your heads.

Well, hang on a minute! Surely those who outwardly profess their faith in such manner are well aware that they have the full weight of the faith to uphold. They are well aware that they must rely totally God's mercy to prevent them falling, surely they are well aware how far they can fall.

Is not the modern day Pharisee just as likely to be seen dressed casually, interpreting the teachings of the faith to suit him/herself, pouring scorn on the "uneducated" and "reactionary" who wish to worship in the "old fashioned way", saying to themselves things like "I'm more holy because I don't pray the rosary".....?

Well, it's not for me to judge. I can't spot a Pharisee any more than you can. All we can do is look in the mirror and ask some hard questions of the mug who stares back at us.

Jesus with an unreceptive audience from a 16th Century Lectionary.