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Posts Tagged ‘Faith’

Praying Litanies

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2014/12/12 at 12:00 AM

Within our beautiful Catholic tradition of prayer we have litanies dedicated both to the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph. A litany, as you most likely know, is a form of prayer that consists of a series of invocations and responses meant to implore God’s grace and mercy or to ask for the intercession of a particular saint.

While there are a handful of saints with their own litanies as well, the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary (sometimes called the Litany of Loreto) and the Litany of St. Joseph are well known by Catholics and are often used.

The fact that the Church encourages the usage of these two litanies tells us not only that we should turn to both Mary and Joseph in our times of need, but that they are very willing and capable intercessors as well. That makes perfect sense, does it not?
If our Lord is going to grant the petitions of any of the saints in Heaven, isn’t it fitting that He should answer the prayers and petitions of Mary and Joseph above all others?

Of course it is fitting! Indeed, it is right and just that our Lord should give particular deference to His Immaculate Mother and His earthly father – and not just because they are His parents, but because of their heroic holiness.

We have focused a great deal on our Blessed Lady this Advent, and rightly so, for by having carried our Savior in her womb, Mary embodies the spirit of hopeful expectation for the Lord that is proper to Advent.

In her faith-filled yes to the Archangel Gabriel at the Annunciation, and through her patience as the mystery of our Lord’s Incarnation unfolded within her and around her, Mary – more than anyone else – teaches us how to live Advent and prepare for our Lord’s coming.
As the Litany of Loreto tells us, Mary is both Mother Most Pure and Virgin Most Faithful.

But today, through our Gospel story, Holy Mother Church focuses our attention on goodSt. Joseph, the just one who served as our Lord’s father during His earthly life.

While we often refer to St. Joseph as the foster father of Jesus, in Hebrew society andculture, there was no real distinction between an adoptive father and a biological father.

In Joseph’s time if a child was accepted by a man and taken into his home to be caredfor, that child became the real child of that man. The man’s acceptance of the child was the determining factor.

Adopted sons gained not only a father, but also the father’s ancestry. This is animportant point, for St. Joseph was of the house of David.
Thus, as St. Joseph was His earthly father, we can refer to Jesus as the Son of David,fulfilling the messianic prophecy that a Messiah would be born of David’s line, a prophecy that St. Paul mentions in our second reading today.

We hear a little bit about the messianic prophesies of Isaiah in our first reading today.This story of King Ahaz took place about 700 years before the birth of Christ, and Christian tradition has always interpreted it as a prophecy about Jesus and Mary.

Certainly, it seems quite right that our Lord, who by His Incarnation comes to redeemall mankind from sin, should be born of a sinless woman of virginal integrity.

But our Gospel story makes it clear that Mary could not carry out the task of bringing the Messiah into the world all on her own. She needed a husband, but not to conceive the child. Rather, she needed a husband to protect and guide her and her child.

Considering the circumstances surrounding our Lord’s conception, our Lady needed a husband who was a man of faith, a man of justice, a man who would be wholly obedient to the will of God. And so in his Litany, we pray to Joseph Most Just, Joseph Most Faithful, and Joseph Most Obedient.
Moreover, in his own holiness, St. Joseph recognized the holiness of the Blessed Virgin Mary, even though she was pregnant by means of someone other than himself. We can see St. Joseph’s holiness shine through the way he decided to deal with Mary.

St. Joseph decided to divorce our Lady, not out of anger, but simply because he was faced with an unexplainable situation. No doubt divorcing her seemed only logical to him. So he proceeded to do so, but in a charitable way that would not bring her shame.

Keep in mind that our Lady made no explanation for herself. In her humility and faithfulness, our Lady remained silent and did not defend her honor – even to St. Joseph. Mary simply surrendered herself to God’s providential care.

Because our Lord knew that Mary would act in this very virtuous way, He gave Mary to St. Joseph’s care – who was the man in all of history that our Lord trusted above all else – the man our Lord knew would do right by her and by His Son.

So what we see in our Gospel story today is the beauty of virtue, the beauty of true holiness being lived out in perfect accordance with God’s will – even through the terrible trial of emotions that both Joseph and Mary must have suffered in this situation.

And that’s precisely the point! Our Gospel story today shows us that in seeking God’s will and acting with virtue, our Lord rewards us with understanding and peace, just as he rewarded St. Joseph with these things in his dream, even though he must have had to suffer first.

Trials of faith are the ways our Lord tests us to see just how much we love Him. It’s the way that He strengthens us to be more like His Son.
Ultimately our Gospel story shows us that Christ is worth waiting for!

For the past three weeks, we have been preparing ourselves for Christ’s coming(hopefully) by our prayer, our fasting, and our penances. We’ve invited a little extra suffering and discomfort into our lives as a means of preparing for the Gift to come.

Very soon, my brothers and sisters, our Lord will come to us once again at Christmas.He will come as He always does with His mighty gift of salvation, with a peace that surpass all understanding, and with a love that surpasses all knowledge.

If we have placed all of our hopes in Him this Advent Season, then we will be filled withjoy at His coming, regardless of what may or may not be under our Christmas trees.

Following the example of Blessed Mary, Ever Virgin, the Mother of our Savior and yet the Virgin Most Powerful, as well as that of St. Joseph, the Spouse of the Mother of Godand the Diligent Protector of Christ, may we learn to be steadfast in our faith and hope in the Lord so that we may know His love for all eternity.
21 December 2013

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

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“Mary, Teacher of unlimited self-giving”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2014/10/24 at 12:00 AM
The Blessed Virgin Mary, Teacher of unlimited self-giving. Do you remember? It was in praise of her that Jesus Christ said: “Whoever fulfils the Will of my Father, he — she — is my mother! …” Ask of this good Mother that her answer, with the generosity it shows, may grow stronger in your soul — with the strength of love and liberation. Ecce ancilla Domini — behold the handmaid of the Lord. (Furrow, 33)

Ask yourself now (I too am examining my conscience) whether you are holding firmly and unshakeably to your choice of Life? When you hear the most lovable voice of God urging you on to holiness, do you freely answer ‘Yes’? Let us turn our gaze once more to Jesus, as he speaks to the people in the towns and countryside of Palestine. He doesn’t want to force himself upon us. ‘If you have a mind to be perfect…’, he says to the rich young man. The young man refused to take the hint, and the Gospel goes on to say: abiit tristis, he went away forlorn. That is why I have sometimes called him the ‘sad lad’. He lost his happiness because he refused to hand over his freedom to God.

Consider now the sublime moment when the Archangel Gabriel announces to the Virgin Mary the plans of the Most High. Our Mother listens, and asks a question to understand better what the Lord is asking of her. Then she gives her firm reply: Fiat! Be it done unto me according to thy word! This is the fruit of the best freedom of all, the freedom of deciding in favour of God. (Friends of God, 24-25)

St. Francis of Assisi

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2014/09/26 at 12:00 AM

This coming week on October 4th, Holy Mother Church will celebrate the feast day of one of her greatest and most beloved sons: St. Francis of Assisi.

Born in 1181 to a wealthy cloth merchant, St. Francis lived a rather high-spirited life as a young man, but he soon became enamored with serving the poor…so much so that he desired to live a life of poverty himself.

The saint’s decision to live among and serve the poor provoked his father to rage, who threatened him and even beat him.

Eventually, Francis publicly renounced his father’s patrimony before the bishop, and in an act of extreme humility he gave back to his father even the clothes he was wearing, stripping himself naked in the church.

By this act of stripping himself of clothing, St. Francis not only gave up his inheritance, but he symbolically stripped himself of all worldly attachments and proved himself a worthy spouse of “Lady Poverty”, the mistress he sought so earnestly.

Clothed for the rest of his life only in the rough habit that became the trademark of the religious order he founded, St. Francis grew steadily in Christian perfection, and is said to be the saint most like Christ.

Although not a priest, but simply a deacon, St. Francis was known for his preaching, even traveling to Egypt to preach to the sultan there. But all the same, it is St. Francis who is believed to have said: “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary use words.”

The point of the quote is that anyone who seeks to promote the Good News of the Gospel must not only speak of it, but must also embody the Gospel by the way he lives his life.

In other words, if we wish to proclaim the Gospel effectively and with integrity, we must live according to its precepts!

In our first reading from the Book of Numbers, we hear the story of our Lord bestowing upon 70 chosen men the same spirit that was on Moses so that they might prophesy.

However, two of them, Eldad and Medad, weren’t gathered with the others when the spirit came upon them, but nonetheless the spirit came upon them where they were so that they, too, prophesied.

Joshua, the young aid of Moses, objects to their prophesying away from the others and wants Moses to stop them. But Moses responds wisely: “Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets! Would that the Lord might bestow His spirit on them all!”

While not all Christians are called to preach publicly, it is our baptismal call as Christ’s followers to be prophets in our world today, speaking our Lord’s truth and doing our best to live it as well so that others might come to know our Lord.

This is the beauty of St. Francis and all the saints: they were prophets by the way they lived their lives, and we should be too! Simply by living a life of Christian virtue, especially by exercising the virtue of charity, souls are drawn to Christ and saved!

Sadly, people who live their faith openly are becoming more and more of a novelty in our society today. But the upside to this situation is that the overall loss of Christian values in our society makes our prophetic witness stand out all the more.

Although our country may be filled with churches, we can see from the assaults on religious freedom being waged by the Obama Administration and by the ever- increasing legalization and expansion of immoral acts such as abortion, euthanasia, and same-sex unions that the U.S. is no longer a Christian nation.

Even many of our brothers and sisters in the various Protestant denominations are embracing and promoting these moral evils as not only acceptable but even “good” under the misguided notion that “tolerance” and “inclusivity” are forms of charity.

Taking a rather elitist approach to Sacred Scripture and disregarding the clear denunciations of these sins by the various writers of Scripture as being unenlightened or unsophisticated, they bend and change the meaning of God’s Holy Word to agree with their social views.

This is not only academically disingenuous and morally dishonest, but it’s dangerous to one’s salvation. For we can never embrace sin as a good and hope to go to Heaven.

Christian charity requires that we be welcoming to sinners. We are called to be radically charitable to everyone, no matter what their backgrounds are or what sins they’ve committed.

Jesus Himself provides a model for us in the way he dealt with the woman caught in adultery. He did not condemn her, but rather He said: “Go and sin no more” (cf. John 8:11).

So while Christian charity calls us to welcome the sinner, true Christian charity does not tolerate sin. To the contrary, true Christian charity recognizes sinful behavior for what it is and lovingly seeks to correct it. That’s the whole point of our Gospel today.

Our blessed Lord tells us today in the Gospel that we must make a choice in our lives: either we are for Him or we are against Him. There is no middle ground between our Lord and the devil. So we must do all we can to rid ourselves of sin so that we can belong fully to God.
Because our Lord wants to show how serious this matter is, He makes some rather drastic suggestions with regard to ridding oneself of sin: “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. . . If your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. . . If you eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.”

Of course our Lord is speaking figuratively here. He doesn’t really expect us to maim ourselves. His point is that we should do everything in our power to avoid anything that leads us into sin.

Please understand, brothers and sisters, that when it comes to sin, the stakes are high. So many people today live their lives, sinning with reckless abandon, with very little reflection on the consequences of their sins.

And yet there are always consequences to our sins, whether we recognize them or not. Sin not only offends God, but it alienates us from God and makes it harder for us to love and live a holy life. But we must also recognize that our sins affect other people too.

As Christians we are one body in Christ, a fact that we celebrate and that is most perfectly realized when we receive Holy Communion. In Holy Communion we are joined not only with Jesus, but also with one another as well in a mystical union of love!

This is why only practicing Catholics in a state of grace and in good standing with the
Church are permitted to receive Holy Communion. Our sins separate us from God and one another, and the Church’s laws regarding Holy Communion illustrate this for us.

But not only does sin separate us from God and others, it also makes us less capable of helping others find their way to Jesus and His saving mercy. Sin robs us of the joy and the love necessary to win others over to Christ and His Church.

My brothers and sisters, do you wish to lead others to Christ so that they might be saved? Do you wish to be saved yourself? Then ask yourself: what is it that keeps me from being fully united with our Lord? What are my sins? And then cut off all that is sinful within yourself.

While we may never be completely free from every sin, if we are truly sorry for our sins, our Lord’s mercy and forgiveness will relieve us of our sins and heal our defects so that we may be not only His faithful followers, but His effective prophets as well!
St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us!
30 September 2012

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio .
To enable the audio, please go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

 

St. Lawrence

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2014/09/12 at 12:00 AM

Just outside the city walls of Rome, not terribly far from St. John Lateran, is the Basilica of St. Lawrence, which is one of oldest and most architecturally significant churches in Rome.

It is there that good St. Lawrence, along with the martyrs St. Stephen and St. Justin are buried together in one large sarcophagus. As you all know, we have a beautiful statue of St. Lawrence here in our church.

You’ll notice that our statue of St. Lawrence depicts him holding a gridiron, which was the instrument of his martyrdom. In what had to be one of the most horrifying martyrdoms of all time, good St. Lawrence was roasted to death.

It is reputed that while he was being roasted alive, St. Lawrence jokingly said to his torturers: “you can turn me over; I’m done on this side.” It is for this reason that St. Lawrence is the patron saint of both cooks and comedians.

Incidentally, the gridiron upon which St. Lawrence was roasted has been preserved and can be seen in another church bearing his name right in the heart of Rome.

While I have a love for all of the saints, I must confess that I do have a particular love and respect for the Church’s martyrs, for they are the saints who conformed themselves to Christ not only by their lives, but also by their deaths.

Certainly Holy Mother Church, too, extols the martyrs in a very esteemed way, for in the lives and deaths of the martyrs we, the Faithful, can find encouragement to endure whatever sufferings may come into our lives.

In our 1st reading the prophet Isaiah captures the spirit of the martyrs with his bold statements of his willingness to suffer for God’s sake. But I think what’s most important in Isaiah’s words is not his willingness to suffer but rather his confident trust in God’s power to save.

Isaiah says: “The Lord GOD is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame. He is near who holds my right hand. . . . See, the Lord GOD is my help; who will prove me wrong?”

This overwhelming faith in God and His goodness and mercy is really the stuff that martyrs are made of more so than their capacity for heroic suffering.

While the stories of the martyrs’ sufferings impress us, we must always remember that they were able to suffer as they did because of their unshakeable faith in God.

In our Gospel we hear one of the very first professions of faith in Jesus, and it is made by St. Peter. Jesus and His disciples are traveling together to Caesarea Philippi, and as they do Jesus asks them: “Who do people say that I am?”
And after they give the usual answers: John the Baptist or Elijah or one of the prophets, Jesus asks another question to test their faith: “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter passes the test by replying: “You are the Christ.”
St. Peter’s confession of faith is important, for it reminds us of Who Jesus Is. It reminds us that Jesus isn’t just a nice guy or even simply a miracle worker. He is our Savior and Redeemer. He is God! And as His followers, we are called to have faith in that fact.

Of course coming to this faithful belief that Jesus is Lord puts some demands on us. Namely, if Jesus is Lord, then His teachings must be true and are, therefore, not to be dismissed. That’s why I spoke about the importance of obedience a couple of weeks ago.

Indeed, the truest measure of a man is how well he conforms his life to this truth about Jesus. Truly, the greatest men and women the world has ever known have been those who have conformed themselves most closely to God’s holy truth.
The saints whose lovely images adorn our church are but a sampling of these greatest of men and women!

These saints remind us that being Catholic requires more than just conforming our minds to the truths enshrined within our Catholic teaching. They remind us that it’s not enough simply to believe. We must live our faith as well!
In our second reading St. James reminds us that our faith is not a private matter, but rather that it’s meant to be lived in a public way. People should know that we are Christians by the way we conduct ourselves in the world.

In particular, St. James highlights for us the virtue of charity in living our faith. Truly, the greatest hallmark we should possess as Christians is a generous love that reaches out to all people, especially to those in need.
James speaks of the importance of providing for the needs of others less fortunate than oneself, and to be sure, charity of this type is not optional for Christians, but essential.

But just as essential as serving the poor is the requirement that we be charitable to those with whom we live, work, and associate on a regular basis.

As we consider this past week’s violence in the Muslim world, for example, it’s easy to see that there’s an overabundance of hate and lack of respect for the inherent human dignity of others in our world today. And these things threaten man’s survival.

As I pray and reflect on the state of our world today, I am absolutely convinced that the only way to change our world is for those of us who are believers to practice a radical charity, the same type of charity Christ showed us on the cross. And it begins with those we know.

Are there people in your life whom you routinely ignore because you don’t like them? Are you curt or rude to others, or do you make judgments about others? Do you gossip or commit the sins of detraction or calumny? These are all good questions to ask oneself.

Jesus says to us today that: “Whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.” While most Christians do not die a martyr’s death, we are all called to die to self.

This means that our faith in God must be so strong that we will be willing to suffer for the sake of God and His Church. This means that we must value the honor of God and the truth of our Catholic teachings more than we value our own comfort and reputation.

But dying to oneself and living a life of radical charity means that we must love others even when we don’t like them. It means that we must put their needs above our desires, that we be willing to overlook their faults and failings when necessary, and that we do all we can to lead them to salvation.

My brothers and sisters, the world has more than enough hate, lack of respect for others, and faithlessness. Let us not add to these sins. But rather, let us prove that we are truly people of great faith by living lives of radical charity.

By our Lady’s intercession and the intercession of St. Lawrence and all the martyrs, may we become martyrs of charity by dying to ourselves and by placing all of our trust in our Lord’s power to save!

16 September 2012

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio .
To enable the audio, please go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

 

Credo: We Believe

In 15 Audio on 2014/05/30 at 12:00 AM

Host – Fr. Pablo Straub

An explanation of what we mean when we say the Creed.


Credo: We Believe Back to Series List
Program Name Audio File Name – Click to download
1. We Believe
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo1.mp3
2. We Believe in One God, Part 1
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo2.mp3
3. We Believe in One God, Part 2
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo3.mp3
4. God the Father
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo4.mp3
5. The Father Almighty
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo5.mp3
6. Maker of Heaven and Earth
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo6.mp3
7. The Only Son of God
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo7.mp3
8. Eternally Begotten of the Father
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo8.mp3
9. Born of the Virgin Mary
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo9.mp3
10. He Suffered Under Pontius Pilate
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo10.mp3
11. He Descended to the Dead
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo11.mp3
12. On the Third Day He Rose
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo12.mp3
13. He Ascended into Heaven
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo13.mp3
14. He Will Come Again to Judge
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo14.mp3
15. We Believe in the Holy Spirit
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo15.mp3
16. The Holy Catholic Church
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo16.mp3
17. The Communion of Saints
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo17.mp3
18. The Forgiveness of Sins
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo18.mp3
19. The Resurrection of the Body
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo19.mp3
20. Life Everlasting
Host – Fr. Pablo Straub
credo20.mp3

 

Unyeilding Faith: the Martyrs of Uganda

In 11 Joanna Bogle on 2014/02/28 at 12:00 AM


The Church marks the feast of the Uganda Martyrs in June, a day that in Uganda is a national holiday. Who were these martyrs, and what is their story?

It is one with a remarkable relevance for today. These martyrs were boys in their teens, and they died for their Christian faith—and, more specifically, because they refused to take part in homosexual activities. For their commitment to their faith and to its clear moral teachings, these 22 boys died in a particularly horrific manner: They were burned alive.

Today, Catholics have to stand with courage when speaking about homosexual activity. To affirm the Church’s teaching is to invite ridicule and insults—and, increasingly, to face legal difficulties. In Britain, new legislation has forced Catholic adoption agencies to choose between closure and agreeing to offer children to homosexual couples. A Catholic broadcaster received a visit from the police after she spoke against homosexual adoption on a radio program—she was warned that she might have committed a “homophobic” offense.

A few years ago the Church published a document (signed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) that affirmed its teaching on homosexuality and offered some details concerning the pastoral care of people with homosexual tendencies. The date chosen for the announcement was June 3: the feast of the Ugandan Martyrs.

Faith Embraced—and Rejected

The story of the heroic young Ugandan martyrs begins with the arrival in the late 1880s of European missionaries, both Anglican and Catholic, in the territory then known as Buganda. They found a local culture and community that was warmly open to the Christian message and to news and information from the wider world. But as Christianity began to permeate local life, tensions arose. The ruler, theKabacka, died, and a new one inherited the throne. King Mwanga, a dissolute and spoilt youth, felt threatened by the vigor and openness of mind shown by the young pages at his court who had converted to Christianity. Chief among these was Charles Lwanga, a tall and good-looking youth who was a natural leader, excelling in sports and hunting. He was also one whose life of prayer and evident integrity influenced his fellows and drew them to ask questions about what inspired him.

Fear of the political and military intentions of the European powers—especially Britain—also played a part in what was to come. A visiting Anglican missionary, Bishop James Hannington, was murdered on the orders of the Kabacka. Dying with courage and dignity, he showed a faith that impressed the local people. After his death one of King Mwanga’s subjects, Joseph Balikuddembe, rebuked the king. He was savagely beheaded. A wave of persecution was beginning.

In the martyrdom that followed, boys who had become Christians—Catholic and Anglican—found their faith tested to its keenest limits. The Catholics had been attending talks and catechism classes with the missionaries. Some had been baptized; others were still under instruction. A separate group of boys had for some while been attending the Anglican mission and had been baptized there. The atmosphere at court had been profoundly affected by all of this: The example of both Anglicans and Catholics influenced others.

A Thwarted King’s Fury

Initially, the young Kabacka also had been impressed by Christianity: He liked what he saw and heard of the Christian message, and he also recognized that his people would benefit from the education and skills that the missionaries had brought with them. But this was not enough to counter his other, stronger, commitment—to a dissolute lifestyle, and especially to the homosexual activities to which he had become increasingly addicted.

After some weeks of tension, which stretched over Eastertide, the young men at court sensed that a major drama was about to unfold. One afternoon, after an unsuccessful day’s hunting, King Mwanga sent for a young boy whom he wanted to make a sexual favorite. The boy could not be found, and the king, in a rage, started to shout about the disloyalty and insolence he found at court. He knew that the boy’s absence was almost certainly due to Christians hiding him so that he would not have to face theKabacka’s advances. E knew that it was likely that the boy had absented himself because he was not prepared to engage in activity which HhhRounding up the boys known to be the keenest Christians, he ranted and hurled insults at them. He also demanded that they give up their ways of prayer and return to unstinting obedience to him in all things.

It became clear in the days that followed that homosexual activity and willingness to comply with immoral activities were the heart of the matter—the Kabacka’s rage had been fueled by the increasing reluctance of his young Christian subjects to indulge him in this. Death was the punishment for opposing the whims and wishes of this absolute sovereign.

But the boys stood firm. Arrested and bound, with ropes cutting into their wrists and feet, they prayed and sang hymns. The older boys, especially Charles Lwanga, taught and encouraged the younger ones, notably Kizito. The youngest of all, he was just 14, and alternated between radiant enthusiasm for Christ and a shaking fear of the death that now awaited them.

Death to “Those Who Pray”

The tribal ritual surrounding executions was grim. As the boys watched it begin, it must have struck terror into their hearts. The executioners, dressed in leopard skins and with their faces painted white in traditional designs, wove in long dances as they wailed a chant while the victims watched: “The mothers of these will weep today—O yes, they will weep today.”

Had any of the boys agreed to abandon their prayers and obey the Kabacka, their lives would have been saved. TheKabacka specifically referred to the Christian boys as “those who pray.” Any who chose to leave that category and renounce their Christian faith could walk back into favor with the ruler.

Namugongo, the site for executions, was some distance from the Kabacka’s court, and the journey there took several days. For some of the boys, tight bonds made walking difficult. On arrival, they were crammed into prison huts near a great funeral pyre that was being stacked—upon which they would be burned alive.

The many eyewitnesses to the martyrdom (the boys were killed in front of a large crowd of their own family members and friends) left a detailed account of the events.

It reads rather like those of the early martyrdoms of Christians in pagan Rome. Extraordinary scenes transpired. The boys prayed and sang hymns as they were rolled in rush matting and dragged to the fire. Young Kizito is said to have gone to his martyrdom singing and calling out that soon he would meet Christ in paradise. As the flames were lit, the prayers did not stop. The young boys’ voices could be heard, clear and unafraid, as the fire crackled up to meet them.

When all was over, the mound of burnt wood and ashes remained, to become one day the base of a great shrine which is now visited by thousands of people annually. Every year, on June 3, vast crowds arrive for an open-air Mass. Children are given the day off school. Kizito is a popular names for boys in Uganda, and his story is told to First Communion and confirmation groups.

An Urgent Witness Today

The Ugandan Martyrs were formally canonized in 1964, the first time that African drums were used in a ceremony at St. Peter’s in Rome. The emergence of Africa as a new stronghold of Christianity, the ecumenical dimension, the proximity of all this to the Second Vatican Council which was opening up a new chapter in the Church’s history—all gave the canonization a special sense of historic importance. But at that time no one thought to remark on the moral teachings at the center of it all: that the martyrs had witnessed with their lives to the truth that sexual communion is reserved to men and women in the lifelong bond of marriage and that homosexual activity is gravely sinful. In 1964, that was simply taken for granted by Anglicans and Catholics alike.

Today, however, we see the boys’ martyrdom as having an extra dimension of significance precisely because of this truth and their courageous witness to it. God speaks to us poignantly through the heroism of these youths. Their witness calls us to join them in courage and faith. We have been given their example at a time when we all need it.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, affirming unchanging truths of the Catholic faith for a new century, quotes Scripture and Tradition in describing homosexual acts as intrinsically disordered and contrary to the moral law. It calls for respect, compassion, and sensitivity towards those who—like the young Kabacka—struggle with homosexual tendencies and calls them to chastity and Christian perfection. The Catechism also hails martyrdom as “the supreme witness given to the truth of the faith: it means bearing witness even unto death” (CCC 2473). TheCatechism notes “The Church has painstakingly collected the records of those who persevered to the end in witnessing to their faith. These are the acts of the martyrs. They form the archives of truth written in letters of blood” (2474).

Two Churches, One Martyrdom

A most touching aspect to this story of martyrdom is that both Catholic and Anglican boys were caught up in this drama. The Catholic Church does not presume to impose its forms of canonization on those who are not members—but in the ceremony in Rome which was to write the Ugandan Martyrs into the Church’s calendar, special mention with honor was made of the boys of the Anglican Communion who met their deaths—and whose names, incidentally, are recorded on a great memorial in the Anglican Cathedral in Uganda’s capital.


Joanna Bogle is an author, broadcaster, and journalist living in London with her husband, a lawyer. Her most recent book is English Catholic…

This article appeared in Volume 19 Number 5 of Catholic Answers.

“Do whatever he tells you”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2014/02/28 at 12:00 AM
In the middle of the rejoicing at the feast in Cana, only Mary notices that they are short of wine. A soul will notice even the smallest details of service if, like her, it is alive with a passion for helping its neighbour, for God. (Furrow, 631)

Our Lady was a guest at one of those noisy country weddings attended by people from many different villages. Mary was the only one who noticed the wine was running out. Don’t these scenes from Christ’s life seem familiar to us? The greatness of God lives at the level of ordinary things. It is natural for a woman, a homemaker, to notice an oversight, to look after the little things that make life pleasant. And this is how Mary acted.

—Do whatever he tells you.

Implete hydrias (John 2:7), fill the jars. And the miracle takes place. Everything is so simple and ordinary. The servants carry out their job. The water is easy to find. And this is the first manifestation of our Lord’s divinity. What is commonplace becomes something extraordinary, something supernatural, when we have the good will to heed what God is asking of us.

Lord, I want to abandon all my concerns into your generous hands. Our Mother—your Mother—will by now have said to you, as at Cana: “They have no wine!…”

If our faith is weak, we should turn to Mary. Because of the miracle at the marriage feast at Cana, which Christ performed at his Mother’s request, his disciples learned to believe in him (John 2:11). Our Mother is always interceding with her Son so that he may attend to our needs and show himself to us, so that we can cry out, “You are the Son of God.”

—Grant me, dear Jesus, the faith I truly desire. My Mother, sweet Lady, Mary most holy, make me really believe! (Holy Rosary, Second Luminous Mystery)

“Through daily life, give a proof of faith”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2014/01/24 at 12:00 AM

Many things, whether they be material, technical, economic, social, political or cultural, when left to themselves, or left in the hands of those who lack the light of the faith, become formidable obstacles to the supernatural life. They form a sort of closed shop which is hostile to the Church. You, as a Christian and, perhaps, as a research worker, writer, scientist, politician or labourer, have the duty to sanctify those things. Remember that the whole universe – as the Apostle says – is groaning as in the pangs of labor, awaiting the liberation of the children of God. (Furrow, 311)

I have often spoken of it before, but let me insist once again on the naturalness and simplicity of St Joseph’s life, which was in no way remote from that of his neighbours, and which raised no artificial obstacles to his dealings with them.

So, though it may be proper to some periods or situations, I do not like to talk of catholic workers, catholic engineers, catholic doctors and so on, as if describing a species within a genus, as if Catholics formed a little group separate from others. That creates the impression that there is a chasm between Christians and the rest of society. While respecting the contrary opinion, I think it more correct to speak of workers who are Catholics, or Catholics who are workers or engineers. For a man of faith who practices a profession, whether intellectual, technical or manual, feels himself and is in fact at one with others; he is the same as others, with the same rights and obligations, the same desire to improve, the same interest in facing and solving common problems.

The Catholic who is prepared to live in this way will, through his daily life, give a proof of his faith, hope and charity: a simple and normal testimony without need of pomp and circumstance. The vitality of his life will show the constant presence of the Church in the world, since all Catholics are themselves the Church, because they are members in their own right of the one People of God. (Christ is passing by, 53)

Tea Party Catholic

In 04 Fr. John McCloskey on 2013/12/16 at 12:00 AM

Book review of Tea Party Catholic: The Catholic Case for Limited Government by Samuel Gregg

by Father C. John McCloskey

 

The highly acclaimed author of Becoming Europe, Samuel Gregg has recently penned Tea Party Catholic: The Catholic Case for Limited Government. In his newest entry, Gregg builds an argument for free economy and human flourishing that is a must-read, regardless of your political affiliation or whether you are Catholic or a serious Christian concerned about the rapidly diminishing religious liberty in the United States.

It should be pointed out that the author has no affiliation with the tea-party movement itself, although he clearly admires its aim of reducing the role of government and expanding the sphere of true religious and economic freedom.

Gregg, who is originally from Australia, has a doctorate from Oxford, where he studied under the well-known natural-law philosopher John Finnis. Gregg is a full-time fellow of the Acton Institute in Michigan. I will save you all the endorsements this book has received from prominent people, other than to say you would undoubtedly recognize all the endorsers: Gregg is a big hitter.

He clearly knows (and loves up to a point) the history of the United States inside out.

Although he quotes Alexis de Tocqueville frequently — Tocqueville being the greatest analyst of the singularity of our country from its beginnings — Gregg prefers to concentrate on the Catholic Founding Father Charles Carroll of Carrollton. Pardon my own shared interest with Gregg: I grew up in Maryland (originally founded as a Catholic colony) not too far from Carroll’s ancestral home and grave (see related story on page B1).

Read what Carroll wrote to the Secretary of War James McHenry, in a letter from Nov. 4, 1800: “Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time.”

In short, Carroll is telling McHenry (and us), that, for a free country to flourish or even survive over the centuries, its populace has to live a Christian life and strive to follow the commandments and the beatitudes as they come down to us from Scripture, based on the authority of the Catholic Church (even though Carroll does not mention Catholicism by name in the letter to McHenry).

Gregg argues for a return to the concept of subsidiarity for human flourishing.

He writes, “Though an important form of social organization, government is only one of a number of communities and should not displace or absorb the responsibilities properly assumed by individuals, businesses, clubs and other forms of non-state association. Subsidiarity tells us we should not automatically look to government. … When no other group can render assistance in the appropriate form of help, the state may need to become involved.”

Gregg makes his case well that only religiously derived morals, faith and economic liberty can bring the United States out of the death spiral in which it is caught.

Spread the word.

Father C. John McCloskey is a Church historian and research fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute in Washington.

National Catholic Register 11/16/2013        Copyright © 2013 EWTN News, Inc. All rights reserved.

Incarnation: God Assumes a Human Condition to Heal It

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2013/12/12 at 12:00 AM

The meaning of the word Incarnation, “a term,” the Pope said, “that has resounded many times in our Churches over these past days, expressing the reality that we celebrate at Christmas: the Son of God become man, as we say in the Creed.”

The Holy Father began by explaining the meaning of this word, which is central to the Christian faith, starting from the Church Fathers, especially St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Irenaeus, who used it when “reflecting on the Prologue of St. John’s Gospel, particularly in the expression, ‘the Word became flesh’. Here the word ‘flesh’,” the Pope emphasized, “refers to the person in their entirety, precisely in light of their transcience and temporality, their poverty and contingency. This tells us that the salvation wrought by God made flesh in Jesus of Nazareth reaches the human person in their concrete reality and in whatever situation they may find themselves. God took on the human condition in order to heal it of everything that separates it from Him, in order to allow us to call Him, in his Only Begotten Son, by the name of ‘Abba, Father’, and to truly be children of God.”

Then the Pope recalled the Christmas tradition of exchanging gifts with those closest to us. Sometimes this may be a gesture undertaken out of convention but, generally, it “expresses affection. It is a sign of love and esteem.” This same idea of giving is at the heart of the liturgy of these feastdays and “it reminds us of the original gift of Christmas. On that holy night, God, becoming man, wanted to make himself a gift for humanity … he took on our humanity in order to give us His divinity. This is the great gift. … In this we find the model of our giving because our relationships, especially those which are most important, are guided by generosity and love.”

The fact of the Incarnation, of God who makes himself man like us, shows us “the unprecedented reality of divine love. God’s action, in fact, is not limited to words. Rather, we can say that He is not satisfied with speaking but immerses himself in our history and takes upon himself the worry and the weight of human life. … God’s way of acting is a strong stimulus for us to ask ourselves about the reality of our faith, which should not be limited to the arena of feeling, of the emotions, but must enter into the concrete reality of our existence, must touch, that is, our everyday life and orient it in a practical way. … Faith has a fundamental aspect that affects not only our mind and our heart but all of our life.”

Citing the Church Fathers again, the Pope observed that on numerous occasions Jesus was compared with Adam, even to the point of calling Him the “second Adam”, or the definitive Adam, the perfect image of God. With the Incarnation of the Son of God a new creation occurs, which gives a complete answer to the question ‘who is man?’ … Only in Jesus is God’s plan for human being fully revealed: He is the definitive man according to God.”

“It is important, therefore, that we rediscover our wonder at this mystery, that we let ourselves be enveloped by the grandeur of this event: God walked our paths as man. He entered into human history to give us His very life. And he did this not with the splendour of a sovereign, subjugating the world with his power, but with the humility of a child.”

“In that child, the Son of God whom we contemplate at Christmastime,” Benedict XVI concluded, “we can recognize the true face of the human being, and only in opening ourselves to the action of His grace and seeking every day to follow Him do we carry out God’s plan for us.”

VIS # 130109