Friday, 30 August 2013

Powerful beyond measure

I don’t think you realise just how powerful you are. Did you know that - that you are powerful? That your life does make a difference? That your actions, your thoughts, your words, your existence counts?

Maybe you’ll be the next Albert Einstein, the next William Wilberforce, the next Mother Teresa. Or maybe not. Perhaps your effect will be by your prayers for your children, like St. Monica for St. Augustine or your support of the mission of those around you, like Fr. Julian Tenison-Woods to St. Mary of the Cross Mackillop? Only God can see the bigger plan for your life – the mark that you will make.

Now, Mother Teresa would not today be Mother Teresa without each individual act of love. You are the sum of your choices, whether intentional or unintentional. Have you ever stopped to consider how even the tiniest of your actions – or lack thereof – has a ripple affect? Your sneeze at work costs a colleague a trip to the doctor. Your unintentionally strong handshake intimidates a visitor to your church. Your lack of having your Go-Card at the ready causes your bus to run late. Have you ever considered just how far the ripples run?

More to the point, have you ever considered the adverse effect your words have on the world? My parents always said, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Whilst I don’t believe it’s a blanket rule, there remains great merit in such a statement.
“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” (James 1:26)
Your words are powerful. They can build up. They can tear down. Gossip is not just the pastime of teenage girls.

Your casual conversation about what she wore, what he said, what they did, whether true or false, has an effect. Like a game of Chinese Whispers, your words take on a life of their own. 
"When we prefer to gossip, gossip about others, criticise others -- these are everyday things that happen to everyone, including me -- these are the temptations of the evil one who does not want the Spirit to come to us and bring about peace and meekness in the Christian community." (Pope Francis, April 2013)
Let us not be a people of tall poppy syndrome. Let us not tear others down to make us feel better about ourselves or have a rant about someone behind their back because we are too afraid to say it to their face.
“Do not judge anyone" because "the only Judge is the Lord." Then "keep quiet" and if you have something to say, say it to the people involved, to those "who can remedy the situation," but "not to the entire neighborhood." (Pope Francis, April 2013)
Ask yourself: Is this true? Is this helpful? Is this life giving? For “The prudent man looks where he is going” (CCC 1806).

Further scriptures on the power of your words:
  • "Let the words of my mouth be acceptable, the thoughts of my heart before you." (Psalm 19:15)
  • "Those who guard their mouths preserve themselves; those who open wide their lips bring ruin."(Proverbs 13:3)
  • "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it [for death or life]." (Proverbs 18:21)
  • "By your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned." (Matthew 12:37)
God bless,

Thursday, 22 August 2013

I love sex

I really do. I love it so much that I'm saving it for marriage.

Though I've always had this desire to wait, it was Christopher West that truly convinced me that I should. Do yourself (and your future spouse) a favour and listen to his three-part talk from World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney:
Over the past few years I’ve been given a lot of slack for what I wear on my ring finger.
true - love - waits
Countless people have cried out in disapproval saying, "you’ll scare the boys away!" Little do they realise that that’s half the point: to scare the boys away. Why would I want to attract the attention of someone who is not interested in friendship first?

The other half of the point is what the ring means to me. It's a symbol and a reminder of daily living in purity. Not just about the physical action of sex – about a purity of mind, speech and appearance.
So what's so good about purity, about waiting for marriage? Here's what the Church has to say:
"Those who are engaged to marry are called to live chastity in continence. They should see in this time of testing a discovery of mutual respect, an apprenticeship in fidelity, and the hope of receiving one another from God. They should reserve for marriage the expression of affection that belongs to married love. They will help each other grow in chastity." (CCC 2350)
Yeah, okay, we get it... but why?

Because sex effects more than just the body. It's an act of binding to another person: physically, emotionally, spiritually. I want to be bound to only one man. How can I guarantee that my boyfriend or fiancé will be that man until the day he promises it to me - in front of an altar in a church filled with all those that I love and care about?

If any of this is resonating with you, check out these links for more information on why be pure and how. It may be the best thing you ever do for your love life:

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Same-sex marriage and Catholic voting obligation

Catholicism is not a buffet - to be fully Catholic means to believe and practice (to the best of our ability) the fullness of the Church's teachings.
"A well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law that contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals. The Christian faith is an integral unity, and thus it is incoherent to isolate some particular element to the detriment of the whole of Catholic doctrine.” (CPL 4)
It is for this reason that we need to become informed about the policies on the table in the upcoming election as some of these policies are morally relevant and contradict the fundamental contents of the faith. Spokesperson for the AFA, Luke McCormack, will take you through one of the hotter topics at the moment amongst younger voters.

Guest Blogger: Luke McCormack
State President of the National Civic Council, spokesperson for the Australian Families Association
and father of four
Luke McCormack and son Xavier
It’s election season 2013. In the first leadership debate on Sunday night we saw the leaders of the two largest political parties contest for the approval of Australian voters. The incumbent Prime Minster is the first ever to believe that the institution of marriage in Commonwealth marriage law should be redefined to apply equally, despite the sex of the persons involved in the marriage. PM Kevin Rudd promised that he would table a bill to redefine marriage by amending the Marriage Act 1961 within his first 100 days if the Australian Labor Party was elected to govern the country. 
The opposition leader Tony Abbott, who opposes redefining marriage, stated that whether or not the Liberal Parliamentary Party will maintain their policy in favour of current marriage definition will depend on the votes within the Liberal party-room following the election.

Gay couples in Australia are treated in all matters of civic law as equal to a married couple. Among young voters, however, the narrow majority still seem to believe there is some injustice done to homosexual couples by not redefining marriage. Why is this?

Well firstly, most people think the debate centres around whether or not that friendly homosexual couple (representing 0.29% of Australia’s population or 0.58% of Australian couples) they know are allowed to have a wedding down at the beach, photos, cake, party, rings and a happy life thereafter. Of course, that is not what is being debated at all.

The debate is around the law, not the wedding. Any type of sexual arrangement between adults can have a wedding, exchange vows, eat cake, party and exchange rings with no special permission required. After all, romance and consensual sexual relations is a private matter, as long as it does not breach the criminal code. The question is, should the government get involved, and in this case, deem this type of sexual relationship to be so valuable to society that it is elevated to the same high-value as a life-long one man + one woman commitment?

So to debate this properly we need to understand why the state has marriage law in the first place. Primarily, it is for the well-being of any children that come from that sexual coupling. If a man and a woman were not, in principle, fertile, then marriage law would not be in the state’s interest at all. What the law does is create legal protection and security for the child's birth-right (the only thing every naked newborn has) to its biological parents (and the extended biological family). Marriage law means that the legal structure tracks biology very closely (unless there is hidden unfaithfulness). It is a legal presumption therefore, that the father of each baby born is the husband of the mother (unless found in court to be otherwise).

If we change the definition of marriage to “any two persons” the legal presumption (which goes back thousands of years now) that links to biology is broken. With “same-sex marriage” law, social workers, courts and governments can dictate parentage of the child. This is dangerous because it breaks a most fundamental human right to belong to your kin.

Secondly, when you mix “same-sex marriage” law with Australia’s anti-discrimination laws and sex discrimination laws you end up with a massive loss of freedom.

Any politician who supports marriage equality (taking away children’s rights) must be asked these questions:
  • Do you know that SSM would trash the legal right of every Australian child to its biological parents by breaking the link between the law and biology?
  • Do you know that SSM would go against the UN Rights of the Child principles (Article 9)? 
  • Can you be 100% certain that redefining marriage will never result in violation of our freedom of speech, freedom to conscientiously object and freedom to express and follow our religious or philosophical convictions? Will the following never happen?:

There is a long list of such abuses by the state in various places that have redefined marriage including, notably, Massachusetts USA, where a court ruled that a parent had no right to remove his son in second grade from a class that was teaching male-to-male coupling/marriage (Life Site News 2008).

You get the point…

Further reading:
God bless,

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

On social justice

I was sitting having some quiet time in a jazz bar on the weekend and the owner and his friend came and joined me. They were a charismatic pair who I, though initially apprehensive, had a great conversation with. We talked about an assortment of things, surprisingly one being social justice. 

It turned out that Robert, the owner of the bar, had spent the first two years of his retirement traveling abroad meeting people and conceptualising the bar to be. He visited places like Cuba and New Orleans and was moved by their sad situation. There are many ways one can react to seeing such a need and these generally tend toward aiding a person's most basic physiological needs: food, water, shelter and warmth. Robert, however, did not want to throw money at their problems but rather give them a purpose. So he commissioned them to make the décor for his bar. 

Ruby's Music Room
The inherent dignity of a person requires that we work. My best friend is an Occupational Therapist and she will tell you in a heartbeat that man must work. It’s in our nature (cf Blessed Pope John Paul II no.287).

I know of some Catholic schools that hold their heads high, trumpeting all the good works that their students do for the poor and needy, whether of this nature of giving the poor a purpose or otherwise. Sometimes I wonder, though, if they are missing the mark. Fr Dan Groody gave a talk a few weeks back at a conference for Catholic school educators on the very topic. He said something to the effect of “we need the poor more than the poor need us”. He went on to explain that while, yes, they are poor and therefore in need of our help, but as Christians, we need someone to help. We cannot call ourselves Christians without faith in action. Helping the poor is one of the ways that we grow in relationship with God and become the men and women He has created us to be.

All this said, I still think we, as Christians, are missing a vital point.
“If ‘migration’ worked itself into the self-definition of all people, we might then realise that before God we all live in the same country, we all live on the same side of the fence. In reality, death is the ultimate border, the journey of faith is the ultimate migration, and God is the ultimate Promised Land.” (Fr Dan Groody 2004)
A person’s inherent dignity is important. You’ll never hear me say otherwise. But do you not think it is just as much, if not more important to give a man a fish, sharing in a meal with him and teaching him of Christ even though he may live a short life on this earth but spend eternity with God? Rather than teaching him to fish that he might go on to become a global exporter of seafood, idolising material gain and never knowing God? Obviously this an extreme analogy, but all the same, should not the very soul of the person take precedence over their bodily needs? Is not our first call as Christians to evangelise?
"They say that we are too poor, but can a heart which possesses the infinite God be truly called poor?" (St. Clare)

“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.’” (Matt 28:18-20)
Jesus calls us to evangelise, to draw people into communion with Him, however the key to the passage above is in the last line: "and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." The 'everything' that Jesus is referring to has a great deal to do with helping the poor (Matt 25:34-46; Matt 10:8; Luke 3:11). So if we turn to those gone before us like St. Vincent de PaulSt. Martin de Porres and Bl. Teresa of Calcutta we have our proof. We see things like this:

So perhaps it is not a ‘or’ but a ‘and’. As Christians, tending to the body and soul must go hand in hand.
“The Christian community must be attentive to issues of social justice and spiritual hunger in society.” (Blessed Pope John Paul II no.13, emphasis added).
Social justice is just as important as evangelisation.

Further reading:

God bless,