Monday, May 28, 2012

Rise of Secularism Risks Making World Inhospitable, Warns Pope

"Unfortunately, it is God Himself who is excluded from the horizon of so many persons, and when the discourse on God does not meet with indifference, closure or rejection, it is nevertheless relegated to the subjective realm, reduced to an intimate and private event, marginalized from the public conscience." Pope Benedict XVI

Read more here: - Rise of Secularism Risks Making World Inhospitable, Warns Pope

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Actually, This is NOT the Beginning of the End

A column appeared in my local rag recently in which the columnist, no fan of Catholics, has begun a cogent discussion about the merging of administrative functions in the different Boards of Education in Ontario. Read more here

Actually, this is NOT the beginning of the end of a separate, publicly funded Catholic school system in Ontario.  The downward spiral started before this.

Some blame Archdiocese of Toronto Cardinal Carter and Premier Bill Davis, who struck a deal for full funding of the separate school system.  The argument goes that he who pays the piper calls the tune - when the funding came from general taxation we began to lose our independence.

I think it might be more subtle.  I wonder how strong can a religious school system possibly be when it's own students, parents and educators can't find their parish church without a map and a compass?  If a teacher in a Catholic school system does not regularly attend Mass, how can they teach math?

Teachers don't teach children reading, writing and arithmetic.  They form young minds and teach reading, writing and arithmetic.  Catholics can expect they will teach Gospel values, but when the teacher hasn't attended Mass regularly they can't possibly be in communion with the church, and by that I mean with Catholics; students, parents, trustees and other teachers.

Some would argue that it's no one's business who attends church and who doesn't.  That would suggest that it doesn't affect anyone else.  It does, and as a parent I would argue that my child be taught by a devout Catholic, or why even bother attending a separate school?

Make no mistake, there is nothing to fear from others outside our own Catholic system.  We're doing a good job of making it irrelevant every Sunday that students, parents, educators, administrators, support staff and trustees skip Mass.

Come Holy Spirit, Come

"God is our Father because He is our Creator. Each one of us, each man and each woman, is a miracle of God, desired by Him and known personally by Him. ... For Him we are not anonymous and impersonal, we have a name. The Holy Spirit, which speaks within us and says 'Abba! Father!', leads us to this truth, communicating it to the most intimate depths of our being and filling our prayer with serenity and joy".   Benedict XVI

As this Easter Season winds down, and we pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit, we give thanks for the many blessings we experience, even those which come disguised as challenges and hardship; perhaps even and especially for our difficult times.

Pope Benedict XVI, referring to his own "dark nights", times when his soul was troubled, did so in thanks.  Without these difficult times in his life he would not know the joy of gratitude for the good things in life.

And so I wish, and pray for each of us, a blessed and full life of worship, thanksgiving, charity towards our fellow man, and a closer union with our God, through the power of His Holy Spirit.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Of Dandelions, and other Lessons in the Garden

My sister and I got into a bit of a debate on whether dandelions are flowers or weeds.  She contended that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, to paraphrase.  I maintain that it's not, when it comes to dandelions.  They are weeds, not flowers.  And so we are at an impasse, and thankfully not each other's neighbour.

This weekend's Gospel, "I am the vine, you are the branches" and my own untidy front lawn had me thinking about how easily weeds can creep into our lives; sometimes out of neglect.  Sometimes they've taken hold and it's just too hard to remove them; just too much work.  Other times, the worst of times, is when we rationalize and accept.  "They're not weeds, they're flowers." 

No they're not.  No they're not.  No they're not.  That's how weeds and sins take hold - they come looking innocuous and flowering.

A gardening enthusiast gave me some advice on how to beat the dandelion infestation, and it's good advice on how to beat the sin and apathy and rationalization infestation that keeps us from a nice lawn and a clean concious. 

He says, when you pull the dandelion out, using the proper tools and all the way to the root, you must immediately fill the hole with grass seed.  He contends that if you don't, something will grow in that spot and it'll be more weeds, bigger weeds.

The same is true of our bad and sinful habits.  Yank them out using the proper implements, like prayer and confession, retreats and praying over the scriptures, the works of the spiritual masters (and not one of the modern dandelions masquerading as spirituality).  But unless we fill the hole that's left behind with prayer and good works and a closeness to God, our sins and bad habits grow back even stronger.

We can't do this alone.  Fortunately we don't have to.  We are in God's garden.