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 Where do we find happiness? Is there fake happiness and real happines? Abbot Christopher OSB from Worth Abbey UK has some very provoking ideas….

CathBlog – What makes a place holy

  Abbot Christopher Jamison from the BBC seriesThe Monastery looked to the deep wisdom in the   Benedictine Rule to conclude that the basic starting point for entering   sacred sanctuary is the quality of your day-to-day dealings with other   people, writes Evan Ellis.» more

CathBlog – What makes a place holy

Published: February 27, 2012

BY EVAN ELLIS

For the next six weeks we will all be hearing a lot about Caritas Australia’s Project Compassion appeal. This year the theme is “If you want peace, work for justice.” The words echo Isaiah’s prophecy that “Justice will bring about Peace” and was reformulated by Pope Paul VI during his World Day of Peace message in 1972.

His message was prescient in a year that saw Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland, a terrorist attack in Munich and the ongoing conflict in Vietnam.

It is a theme that resonates as much on a personal level as it does a geopolitical one. In Australia peace is marketed, with spa treatments, holidays abroad and newly built, landscaped housing estates all promising us our slice of the elusive pie. In such a society it’s important not to lose sight of the justice dimension to peace.

One of the sharpest observers of this dynamic is Abbot Christopher Jamison, who was featured in the BBC’s 2005 program The Monastery. The series, a predecessor to the locally produced The Abbey, invited five ordinary Brits to live at Worth Abbey for six – transformative, as it turns out – weeks.

In a companion piece to the series Abbot Christopher looked to the deep wisdom in the Benedictine Rule for finding peace, or what he calls sanctuary. The Latin root of the word is sanctus, which means ‘holy’ and infers that a place of refuge must also be a holy place.

Abbot Christopher directs our attention to the opening prologue. ‘Let us ask the Lord: “Who will dwell in your tent O Lord; who will find rest upon your holy mountain?” After this question, brothers, let us listen to what the Lord says in reply, for he shows us the way to his tent.

“One who walks without blemish,” he says, “and is just in all his dealings, who speaks the truth from his heart and has not practised deceit with his tongue.”’ (RB, Prologue: 23-6)

From this the Abbot concludes, “The basic staring point for entering sacred sanctuary is the quality of your day-to-day dealings with other people. You cannot mistreat people one moment and then find sanctuary the next. Finding the sacred space begins with the recognition of the sacred in your daily living.”

It’s not that spa treatments, holidays and tree-lined housing estates are intrinsically bad; it’s just that they’re often marketed as offering more than what they are. However any sanctuary that is not also a holy place, marked by just dealings between people, can only ever offer a fleeting, rootless peace. It is this peace, the peace the world can give, which Christ categorically rejects and betters in John 14: 27.

What does this have to do with Project Compassion? Our small mortifications, our donations to Caritas, are in fact practical building blocks for peace. Here the personal and the geopolitical meet, because our personal sacrifice, which helps us to find peace, also enables the Church’s international aid and development agency to work for justice around the world.

Its development projects witness to the God-given dignity of all people, creating pockets of genuine sanctuary in a world marred by violence, poverty and discrimination.

It is no accident then that the symbol of the Benedictine order is the Latin word for peace ‘PAX’, surrounded by a crown of thorns. Abbot Christopher points to this and notes, “There is no peace without sacrifice and there is no peace without justice.”


Evan Ellis has just resigned as Social Justice Coordinator for the Diocese of Parramatta to take on full-time postgraduate study in International Relations.

Disclaimer: CathBlog is an extension of CathNews story feedback. It is intended to promote discussion and debate among the subscribers to CathNews and the readers of the website. The opinions expressed in CathBlog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference or of Church Resources.

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  TOWARDS A SPIRITUALITY OF THE HEART:     

Part 1.  SACRED PLACES AND SPACES: An  Essay written by Fr.Kevin Walsh

In chapter three of the Book of Exodus, verses 1-6, we see Moses tending the flock of Jethro in the area of the
Holy Mountain of the Lord God; in the Sinai Desert. Moses notices a strange event….the Burning Bush, and is hence caught by the intrigue of this phenomenon; he goes forward to investigate it. Notice that Moses is drawn to explore; there is something within him which has responded to this invitation. In his movement towards the Burning Bush, the Lord God sees him doing this, and then Moses hears his name being called….’ Moses, Moses, Come no nearer, take off your shoes, for the place on which you stand is Holy Ground.’ Exodus 3: 4.

Now let’s take this all in, and examine what is happening here, because I believe that the process at work
here between the Lord God and Moses, is similar to what happens in us when we meet the ‘sacred’, or rather, and I think that it is more correct to say, that it is when the ‘sacred’ meets us; when we come upon the Lord God. I remember seeing a Poster in St.Paul’s Bookshop here in Sydney many years ago, and it said..’ We could not have found God, unless God had found us first’….very true. Let’s also remember that Jesus is the human face of the Father. So  when do we encounter the Lord? In Sacrament, in His Word, and within the Community, which is the living Body of Christ. Let’s never forget the words of Jesus, “Whenever two or three are gathered in my name, I am there in their midst!” So, the holiness is within that moment, and at that place, in communion with another or others, which makes the place, and time “Sacred” or “Holy”.

HOLY PLACES AND TIMES:

There are many instances throughout the Bible where we come into contact with a ‘sacred place’ or a ‘sacred time’. Let’s have a look at some of those instances in Scripture. In the 5th Book of the Bible we have Deuteronomy 5:12….’Sabbath day and keep it holy.’ Question we as curious people would ask….why? What happened on the 7th day of Creation? It says in the Book of Genesis in many translations, that God rested! Was God tired after all his creating? The short answer is no. So therefore it has something which is not plainly understood about  ‘resting’? Again the short answer is Yes! When we go back to the Hebrew, we see that a more understandable concept is that God meditated on the 7th Day. Let’s get our understanding of meditating on the same page. It seems that the Biblical understanding of the moments of meditation is like that of sucking honey from the comb. Here we have a very simple example with profound consequences. To suck honey from the comb means to be totally absorbed in the savouring of the substance. Here we see the experience of savouring is taking the time to experience its ultimate taste which enters us through our sensations of taste. What do we do after a decent sample of honey from the comb? We pause to ‘be still’ in that experience, so that we can relive and recover this sensational moment. To back this theory up, we need to have three moments within the meditating/savouring activity. 1. We need the data. 2. We need time to savour. 3. We need ‘after thoughts’ to sit with, be still, and be present, so that our inner spirit can respond in its own time.

It would seem that when God meditated on all that had been created, the 7th day was not savouring who God was through creation, but rather being at one with all that was, because it was good. Also, the crown of creation being the creation of humankind, which at the appropriate moment would be able to reflect upon creation like the Lord God, but through it to know that humankind was loved by a God that caused it all to happen, and that the ultimate fullness of mankind’s meditation would be to: know God! So the Sabbath Day is about entering into a sacred meditation, assisted by God’s Word, Sacrament and Community to be present to the truth that we are loved, and are called to continue the creative act of loving people into life, and honouring the stewardship which we have for all creation. All this cannot be done on ‘the run’……..we must take note of the commandment….Keep ‘holy’ the Sabbath Day!

MOUNT SINAI IN EGYPT:

I was fortunate in the early 90’s to climb this Holy Mountain. Now, to make matters interesting, there are
three possible mountains which could be Sinai in that area. Or to be really radical as some researchers’ maintain….the real Mt Sinai could be in Arabia!  Which one is the real one? That was a question which I had in my mind. But, when it is all said and done, does it matter which mountain it is? The short answer is, I don’t think so. As a kid after seeing the Ten Commandments at the Cinema in Sydney, I had hoped that one day, I would climb that special mountain. It all came to pass, however the reality of climbing the mountain does not hit home untill  you do it. In order to be at the top of the mountain for day break, I with about 30 other people, and we boarded our Camels which would take us half way up the mountain….the rest of the way’ shank’s pony…in other words….it had to be walked. Yes, and over 500 steps to top it off. The Camel journey was a severe challenge for me. The Camel that I had was suffering from a terrible cold, and as we journeyed along, it decided that my left leg of my corduroy trousers would be a suitable place to deposit the excess mucus. I am not going into further details, but can’t you imagine the scene….and this was my big day to get to the top of Mt.Sinai! To cut a long story short, the agony of the uncomfortable ride, then the steps to the summit was a nightmare! But, upon reaching the top just prior to daybreak was absolutely extraordinary. I had forgotten the aches, pains and the state of my corduroy dacks. The words that were being spoken from the faith filled people who had climbed that mountain over the centuries were deafening! Honestly, it forced me to the ground to ‘behold’ all that was happening. As the sun rose in the east, sending goldenshafts of golden light through the clouds, was like a baldachino above the Holy Mountain….What made the place holy? The faith experiences of all the people who had experienced this profound stillness, and hearing the Lord God in the gentle breeze. An hour seemed like 5 mins! A true Sabbath experience.

SACRED PLACES ON THE HOME FRONT:

Within our own homes there are certain areas of the house which are known as ‘special’. Maybe when we visit
our Grandparents, we know instinctively that Grandpa’s chair is ‘special’. Not because no one is game enough to sit in it; but more importantly because of ‘the one’ who sits in it, and his relationship to us is ‘special-loving’. From early childhood, we are shown by our parents and relatives the places and spaces that are ‘special’. Or if Grandpa is deceased, we go down the Hall and pass by the room that our Mum tells us is where Nana sleeps. That can be a very awesome experience for a young child, and a very important time of its formation as a growing person. Nana, who is loving, old, full of surprises, and even produces a nice little chocolate frog from her apron pocket, adds to the sense of ‘mystery and love’. However, she can be feared too, if one steps out of line or if one does not finish their Weet-Bix for breakfast, she is someone to behold!. However, the relationship is that of a two way love. Those moments of a nice big hug from Nana can also be moments of eternal bliss….wishing that it would just go on and on. Sometimes the aroma of certain Bushes and trees can trigger a ‘recall’ which enables the moment, and the place to be ‘sacred’ when we are drawn immediately into the circle of a loving relationship which never dies, and hence that moment can become timeless and speechless, as the Spirit within give utterance to our prayerful conversation; in short, a Sabbath Experience.

WHAT IS SPIRITUALITY?

Let’s look at an overall accepted understanding of it first.

  • A Working definition of Spirituality. (Christian Spirituality:
    Origins to the 12th Century by J. Meyendorff. SCM 1989. Pg15.)

‘Christian Spirituality is the lived experience of Christian belief in both its general and more specialised forms…It is possible to distinguish spirituality from doctrine in that it concentrates not on faith itself, but on the reaction that faith arouses in religious consciousness and practice.  It can likewise be distinguished from Christian ethics in that it treats not all human actions in their relation to God, but those acts in which the relation to God is immediate and explicit.’

I really like this definition, and there are many of them around, but I would like to check this one out with you.

Now, you will hear the term ‘Spirituality’ bandied around like a beach ball these days, so therefore we have to be specific when we say Christian….However, there are links that are common to most spiritualities, but that would be a bit off the track for us at the moment to go an explore these links. Notices that the author says ‘the lived experience’ in short, it is the day to day living of the Gospel, and being committed to Jesus Christ, the Human face of the Father. The lived experience takes up, and flows in and out of the Gospel, manifesting itself in our words, actions, prayer and stillness moments. It is therefore a common experience of all Christians, hence being part of that ‘spirituality’ we are all mystically linked to each other in Christ, past, present and future.

Let’s look at the next part that I have in italics… on the reaction that (faith arouses) in religious consciousness and practice. We need here to be on the same page in our understanding of faith. It seems to me that FAITH=INSIGHT. Many times in the Gospel hear Jesus saying…it is your faith that has saved you. Looking at that deeply, we see that in the moment when Jesus says this, the person has come to seeing that in Jesus is the saving hand of God! So, if we include that definition of faith into the part in bold type, we could say that the insight, namely of seeing the saving hand of God at work, arouses in religious consciousness and practice.

  • The author of the definition continues by saying: ‘Christianity is not, primarily a Moralism, it
    is a Mysticism. It is not primarily concerned with presenting or analysing every detail of perfect human behaviour. (Although at times it seems like that!!!) It is primarily concerned with communicating the love that alone will enable us to be perfectly human. Once love has made us perfectly human, then perfect human behaviour follows as a matter of course.’
  • ‘ Authentic Christian Spirituality begins not with a cold, calculated determination to acquire virtue after virtue, as an athlete acquires medal after medal, but with the full blooded endeavour to facilitate the invasion in our lives by the same love that filled Christ.’

WHAT ABOUT THE HEART?

The Heart has long been accepted at the Icon of love. The Heart is the pump or motor which vibrates with ‘life’. Christian spirituality is about LOVE par excellence ….The Word of God becoming flesh, in living, dying, rising, and the sending of the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures contain in essence the greatest love story of all…..The Bridegroom being God always wooing  His people; us as the Bride!  So, we could then ask, what is the greatest sign of God’s love? According to St.Paul of the Cross, the Founder of the Passionists, he says….’The Passion and Death of Jesus is the greatest sign of God’s love’. Hence, the symbol that I have chosen on page one of this Essay, says it all……….

PART 2:    WHAT IS PRAYER?  ( Watch this space!)

PART 3:    A BIBLICAL WAY OF DEVELOPING A ‘SABBATH  EXPERIENCE’

              ANGLO-SAXON AUSTRALIANS IN A CHANGING AUSTRALIAN SOCIETY By Fr.Kevin Walsh

INTRODUCTION:

Firstly, I am the genuine article…a full-blooded Anglo Saxon, my mother country being England, and my father Country being Ireland,I also belong to the ageing Baby Boomer group…that is; I was born after the Second World War.

Before I share some ideas with you about Anglo Saxon Australians in a changing society, I would like to acknowledge the fact that this change in this place, would not have happened for you or for me, unless a massive change had taken place in the inhabitants of this land, the Aboriginal people, just over 200 years ago. One of the most important linking elements among all of us here is the fact that we have all immigrated to this place from our mother countries.

 

Back in 1991, I was living in England, and teaching Forms 5 and 6 in one of our Schools in North London. One night there was to be an Interview on Channel 4 between David Frost and Paul Hogan.  I encouraged the boys and girls in my class to watch the show, so that they could get a better understanding of what Australian life was like.  To my amazement, one of the first questions that David Frost asked Paul Hogan…the Crocodile Dundee Hero was: “What is the most important time of the year for an Australian?” The answer given by Paul with the unmistakable grin on his face was short and sweet:” The weekend”.

I thought to myself, yes he is right. Australians look forward to the weekend and work often seems to be an obstacle to get through, in order to get to the freedom of the weekend. Many people who I have met and ministered to as a Priest, who have come from Asia have often said to me that they find this ‘laid back’ attitude to life is somewhat strange. Yes, it is different, and it has some positive aspects and some negative aspects, to our quality of life here in the Land “Down Under”.

Let’s look at some of the positive aspects: Firstly, there is the opportunity for us at the weekend to get outside and enjoy nature, the beach, sporting activities, being in the Australian Bush, having a Bar B Q. Time for family, and taking it easy can be very good for the mutual bonding of family life. A negative aspect could be an attitude of lethargy, that is, “She’ll be right mate” and nothing gets done.

It can breed within our society a malaise: a genetic form carelessness, lack of interest in what lies beyond us now. I believe that our geographical position in the world, and our History, also feeds this quest for, “let’s take it easy”, no one will bother us.

 

However, September 11 gave the whole world a timely reminder that we are a global village, connected to one another, and bear responsibility for one another, and can feel the shock waves of pain, fear and fright in our sisters and brothers overseas. I shall come back to that realisation a little later.

Australian Society took an almighty change during the Second World War, when for the first time there was a real fear that our continent would be invaded. People like my Dad, and many other men and women in the Services, went off to war for the motherland, and then to fight for the freedom of our own country. When I was a little boy my Mum would sometimes show my sister and me the Atlas of the world, and back in the 1950’s, all the countries that were coloured red, were parts of the British Empire. My mother would point to the countries of Asia, and say in all innocence, “One day the people to our north will want to come and take over Australia” Your Daddy went to fight in order to help stop the Japanese from taking our country away”

 

This would have been a common form of passing on information or history from parents to their children for most Anglo Saxons, who had come from Britain, Wales, Ireland and Scotland, either pre Second World War, and afterwards. However, as a young boy, we were used to having Italians around us…. Luigi ran the best Fruit shop in Ashfield, when I was a Kid. We were also getting used to having Greek people around us…. John Bokos who had a Milk Bar near our home, used to give us the best Milk shakes with extra malt, if we were nice to him, and his kids. However, the Asians were not abundant when I was a small child. The first Asian people I met were the Chinese Market Gardeners at Rockdale, not far from the Airport. I think that they still have a
small market garden there to this day.

Kyeemagh Market Gardens

Location:  Occupation Road, Rockdale, NSW 2216

Constructed: 1892 –

This land has been used as market gardens since the late nineteenth century and are still associated with the Chinese community. Market gardens used to be common in Rockdale and throughout Sydney but now there are only three such sites remaining in the inner Sydney region. Their shrinking number has been recognised by their listing on the State Heritage Register, and by their inclusion on the Rockdale Heritage Drive, which takes visitors past the   Kyeemagh Market Gardens.

We used to sometimes take a drive out to Rockdale to buy some of the best Shallots, Spinach and Cabbages that you would find anywhere. I would look at these sun burnt people with their unusual hats, which to me looked like a Lamp shade for a table lamp, and I could tell that these people worked very hard indeed. I knew that from the roughness of their hands, and the deep furrows in their face. But there was always a smile for us, and unmistakeable smile, which I always remember. My Mum and Dad would say to  us, “These people work very very hard…”

 

In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, Anglo Saxon Australians began to be more daring in their cuisine. Chinese Restaurants, with Take Away Food started to spring up around the suburbs of the capitol cities in Australia. As a young boy in my early teens, a summer evening meal with the people next door, eating Chinese take away food at Manly, became part of our life style. Gradually, Australians began to move away from traditional Chicken Chow Mien to Peking duck, and other tasty delicacies. Anglo Saxon Australians gradually became more daring in investigating some of the fine foods from Asia. Here in Sydney, China Town started to grow in popularity, and it was ‘alright’ for an Anglo Saxon Australian to wander down through that area of the City where the unique music of the East could be heard, amidst the coloured flags and streamers, which criss-crossed the streets.

 

In the mid 1960’s the Vietnam War caused us to realise that we do live in the region of the Asia/Pacific, and that we could not claim our Island Continent, exclusively for ourselves. Young men and women my age were called up to go and fight in Vietnam. Asian Boat people came to our shores, and Australians had to face this fact, ponder it, and respond with humane generosity, to people who were fleeing the terrors in their land, in order to live in freedom. It was the Vietnamese Boat people that I first encountered in my early Priesthood at Marrickville which opened a huge window inside me to meet these wonderful people, to teach the children English, and to celebrate the Eucharist with them. I thank these people for sharing their Asian culture with me, and their Table in the Home.

It was at this time that greater changes in Australian society took place. Some Anglo Saxons were threatened, and worried by these waves of Asians coming into this land. I think that it was harder for people who are now in their 70’s, 80’s & 90’s to adapt to this change in the mixture of race in our society. Some people could not adapt, and became entrenched in their insulated ideas of an Empire that really didn’t exit any more and that back in the motherland it would not be happening there…when in fact, it was! But in different ways. Others welcomed these people from the North, and could soon see that these various Asian cultures could enrich our society to such an extent, that we would be in fact, and in name, a multi cultural society.

During the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s other ethnic groups of people from the Middle East started coming to our country. Muslims, Christians, Jews and numerous Arabic-speaking people. Change was at hand again, and the Anglo-Saxon Australian has had to digest this influx of other wonderful human beings with their own cultures and expressions of belief, language, dress and life-style. Many unfounded suspicions have been the platform for unjust judgements and misinterpretation of the quality and culture that these people bring to us.

How can Anglo Saxons understand what is going on in this extraordinary crucible of humanity, who call themselves Australians? We hear the word Reconciliation, being Sorry for misdeeds in the past and present,
so often these days; but to me, Reconciliation is Part two of the process of understanding and acceptance. Part one is: Conciliation, which comes from the Latin word: Conciliatio, which means inclining to meet, gather, promote interaction, enter into dialogue….in other words wanting to listen and speak to each other!  I commend the wonderful organizations which enable various groups to share their thoughts; culture and religious philosophy within an atmosphere of calm and dialogue, because that is what truly leads to Reconciliation. This can happen and does, by and large while we are waiting in a queue at the Post Office, being served at a Cash
Register in Coles, or when we go into a Petrol Station to pay our money for Fuel. We must be catalysts within our communities to promote “meeting” “Talking and listening” moving towards understanding each other, and then the fruits of this will be genuine Reconciliation…coming together as a result of what has taken place.

The Anglo Saxon Australian must come to realise that, we are many, and yet we are one in this Island Continent. Just as the new comers from Asia, the Middle East, Africa, South America must also be listeners and talkers with their brothers and sisters who have been living in this Nation for a long time.

I believe that Australia in this New Millennium at this point in time is a ‘Teenager Nation’!  How can we create a new symbol of our multi cultural nationhood, like a National Flag if we do not know each other? Or want to understand each other? I feel that as a ‘Teenager Nation’ we are like a boy or girl in their teens who is coming to know themselves, reacting and rejecting past babyhood practices, not having the adult wisdom to know and value what is precious, from growing up. Through energy and youthful zest, they often claim to have the answers to all our complex questions, while at the same time being sometimes hurtful to their parent nations, and not really knowing it.

We are a nation that has the great opportunity of spreading its wings, and flying together in our blue skies.  We have the legacy of wonderful and deep religious and cultural traditions and mores.  We need the desire to know each other, and that again calls for further change in mindsets, and in unfounded prejudices, that can often come from Media sensationalism. We must enter into the corporate process of deleting wrong and hurtful attitudes towards each other.  How long does this take??? Maybe a New Millennium!!!!

I would like to conclude with a Song: Here we have the lyrics to an iconic Aussie song called “I am Australian” (also known as We are Australian) which was written in 1987 by Bruce Woodley of The Seekers and Dobe Newton of The Bushwackers. It’s a very patriotic song – commonly taught in primary schools and was even one of the songs under consideration to replace our National Anthem!

I Am Australian / We Are Australian Song Lyrics

I came from the dream-time, from the dusty red
soil plains

I am the ancient heart, the keeper of the flame.

I stood upon the rocky shore, I watched the tall ships come.

For forty thousand years I’ve been the first Australian.

We are one, but we are many

And from all the lands on earth we come

We share a dream and sing with one voice:

I am, you are, we are Australian

I came upon the prison ship, bowed down by iron
chains.

I cleared the land, endured the lash and waited for the rains.

I’m a settler, I’m a farmer’s wife on a dry and barren run

A convict then a free man, I became Australian.

We are one, but we are many

And from all the lands on earth we come

We share a dream and sing with one voice:

I am, you are, we are Australian

I’m the daughter of a digger who sought the mother
lode

The girl became a woman on the long and dusty road

I’m a child of the depression, I saw the good times come

I’m a bushy, I’m a battler, I am Australian

We are one, but we are many

And from all the lands on earth we come

We share a dream and sing with one voice:

I am, you are, we are Australian

I’m a teller of stories, I’m a singer of songs

I am Albert Namatjira, I paint the ghostly gums

I am Clancy on his horse, I’m Ned Kelly on the run

I’m the one who waltzed Matilda, I am Australian

We are one, but we are many

And from all the lands on earth we come

We share a dream and sing with one voice:

I am, you are, we are Australian

I’m the hot wind from the desert, I’m the black
soil of the plains

I’m the mountains and the valleys, I’m the drought and flooding rains

I am the rock, I am the sky, the rivers when they run

The spirit of this great land, I am Australian

We are one, but we are many

And from all the lands on earth we come

We share a dream and sing with one voice:

I am, you are, we are Australian

I am, you are, we are Australian.

We are one .. We are many .. We are Australian!

 =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =

Catholic Church has evolving answer on reality of Adam and Eve

By James Breig

Catholic News Service

ALBANY,
N.Y. – Adam and Eve recently made an appearance on National Public

Radio– not as guests, but as the topic of a discussion about their existence.

“Morning Edition,” a regular NPR series, examined the current debate among evangelical
Christians over whether the first couple actually lived or are characters in a Bible story that makes a point about God and his creatures.

This article appeared in the September Edition of the Passionist Provincial Newsletter which circulates among all those whom call themselves Passionist! Tasit permission has been taken to reproduce this article in this Blog.

In simplified form, the fundamentalist view is that Adam was a real person and the first human created by God, while science argues that human beings evolved as a group. Some Christians hold that they must follow scientific findings and adapt their faith’s teachings to that informationSimilar debates between science and religion have gone on for a long time, and the Catholic Church has worked through those disputes for centuries, according to Franciscan Father Michael D. Guinan, professor of Old Testament, Semitic languages and biblical spirituality at the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley, Calif. “Since the 1600s,” he said, “the traditional views of Genesis have suffered three challenges: Galileo on the movement of the earth around the sun and not vice versa; the growth of geology in the 18-19th centuries and discoveries about the age of the earth”; and Darwin’s theory of evolution. “The church has negotiated these challenges, but not without struggles. Today, no reasonable person in or out of the church doubts any of these three,” Father Guinan said in an interview with Catholic News Service.

The controversy – the one over Adam and Eve – involves the competing theories of polygenism and monogenism, that is, the question of whether humans descended from many progenitors, as science argues, or from one couple, as Genesis seems to posit. “In the past, the church’s statements regarding original sin have presumed that Adam and Eve were historical people,” the priest explained. “The question of monogenism
and polygenism never occurred to” those writing the documents. He said that the most recent statement to mention this debate is Pius XII’s “Humani Generis,” a 1950 encyclical. It states: “The faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that … Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which … the documents of the teaching authority of the church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual
Adam.”

In the six decades since that document, Father Guinan continued, “the Catholic Church has accepted the use of historical-critical tools to understand the Scriptures, which are, among other things, historical documents. “The
1993 instruction of the Pontifical Biblical Commission on ‘The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church’ calls the historical-critical method ‘essential’ and rejects explicitly a fundamentalist reading of Scripture.” When such an approach is applied to the Bible, he said, “Catholic scholars, along with mainstream Protestant scholars, see in the primal stories of Genesis not literal history but symbolic, metaphoric stories which express basic truths about the human condition and humans. The unity of the human race (and all of creation for that matter) derives theologically from the fact that all things and people are created in Christ and for Christ. Christology is at the center, not biology.” He added that “the question of biological origins is a scientific one; and, if science shows
that there is no evidence of monogenism and there is lots of evidence for polygenism, then a Catholic need have no problem accepting that. When such an approach is followed, he said, Adam and Eve are not seen as historical people, but as important figures in stories that contain key lessons about the relationships of humans and their Creator. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “the account of the fall in Genesis … uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.” In that language, Father Guinan detects a straddling of the issue. “It recognizes that Genesis is figurative language,” he pointed out, “but it also wants to hold to historicity. Unfortunately, you can’t really have both. The catechism is clearly not the place to argue theological discussions, so whoever wrote it decided, as it were, to have it both ways.” In an article about the first couple, Father Guinan wrote that Catholics who ask, “Were there an Adam and Eve?” would be better off asking another question: “Are there an Adam and Eve?” The answer, he said, “is a definite ‘yes.’ We find them when we look in the mirror. We are Adam, and we are Eve. … The man and woman of Genesis … are intended to represent an Everyman and Everywoman. They are paradigms, figurative equivalents, of human conduct in the face of temptation, not lessons in biology or history. The Bible is teaching religion, not science or literalistic history.”

Fraternally,

Joachim cp – Provincial

Photo of Fr.Joachim Rego CP and Passionist Province Youth Minister

Welcome to Inspire
Library

Hi and welcome to Inspire Library!

For many years, I have trawled through videos, books and websites to find  what I can use to inspire young people I meet on a weekly basis.  The result is  a collection of almost magical resources that I use in my presentations, a  collection that I’d like to share with the world.  These resources have also  inspired me when the going has been tough. Often, all it takes is the right spark to keep that dream alive. I hope you  will find this resource useful yourself.  If you feel inspired, please share it  with others and inspire them.  You may be surprised at the difference this might  make in their lives.  We can all do with a bit of empowerment.

The start of this journey involves heart to heart interviews with people who  have inspired me and others like me.  My vision is to talk to real and authentic  people who enriched others, people making a real difference in our communities,  people whose lives have real impact on the world and upload them here.

Here is a treasure trove of collective wisdom, ready for us to draw on at  different points in our life when we need to be inspired and moved.  If you know  someone who could do with a chat with me or you’d like to see me yourself,  please get in touch.

Inspire and Be Inspired!

Colin Lee    www.inspirelibrary.com

 

            ESSAY SECTION…………………………….

Parts One, Two , Three and Four of Fr.Kevin’s Essays on  Holy Communion.

A  BRIEF  HISTORICAL  SUMMARY  OF  THE  RECEPTION OF  HOLY  COMMUNION  PART ONE.

Dear One and All,
Over the next four weeks, I would like to share with you a very brief outline of the customs surrounding the reception of Holy Communion at Mass. It is my hope, that the material presented, will help you to situate in history, where we are now in our custom of receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, within the Celebration of the Eucharist. Some people receive Communion on the tongue, others on the hand…. let’s explore where these customs have come from. I hope that it will help us appreciate what the Church is inviting us to do in these times, and why we may choose to open our hands to receive the Lord in Holy Communion. Where did the tradition of receiving Communion on the tongue come from? I hope that this Essay, which is divided up into four parts, will help clarify, and assist us to reflect in a mature way on our reception of Holy Communion and its paramount meaning in our personal and community life, as CHURCH, the living Body of Christ.

May I introduce the subject by quoting St.Matthew’s Gospel Chapter 26: 26-28. ‘Now as they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and when he had said the blessing he broke it and gave it to his disciples. ‘Take it and eat;’ he said ‘this is my body.’  Then he took the cup, and when he had returned thanks, he gave it to them. ‘Drink all of you from this,’ for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’
It is an article of our Catholic Faith that Jesus, having spoken the words that changed ordinary unleavened Jewish bread into His Body, and ordinary Jewish wine into his blood, saying, “Do this in memory of me”. Luke 22:7.  We as a community do this “remembering” in our celebration of the Eucharist.  Most of us have no trouble in ‘remembering’ what Jesus did at his Last Supper with his Disciples. But it is not like a ‘remembering’ which takes place on Anzac Day….’lest we forget’!  The remembering which takes place within the Mass, makes present the saving action and sacrifice of Jesus, who gathers us, blesses us, shares His life with us in the Eucharist, and commissions us to ‘Go out’ and live in daily life, what we have received.

Due to childhood formation and devotional practice, some people have trouble in coming to terms with the option of receiving the Eucharist in the hand…and drinking from the cup. Some might say that it is far more reverent to receive Holy Communion on the tongue than on the hand!   However, what makes the tongue a better place of receiving Communion than on the hand????  If we were to go down the track of sin…surely we commit more sin with the tongue!  Do we consider hygiene for the Priest and Communicants? Next week I will share with you from the benefit of some historical research, the practices of the early Church, which indicate, that lay persons ordinarily received Holy Communion directly into their hands…and that was a practice for the first 900 Years of the Church. Stay tuned to what St.Cyril of Jerusalem has to say about this in his Sermon of Easter Sunday 348 A.D. PART TWO NEXT WEEK:- COMMUNION IN THE HAND!  AN ANCIENT CUSTOM RENEWED!!!

THE RECEPTION OF HOLY COMMUNION PART TWO:

                                      Holy Communion in the hand.     An ancient custom revived!!!!!

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In last week`s little Essay, Part One, I introduced the subject about receiving communion in the hand, or on the tongue. This week, we will go a little deeper into some of our cherished historical traditions! Let’s look at what St. Cyril of Jerusalem had to say to the gathered community on the first Sunday afterEaster in the year of Our Lord, 348. This extract is taken from his MystagogicCatecheses (V, 21:1-22,4)

‘When you approach, {Communion} do not go stretching out your open hands or having your fingers spread out, but make the left hand into the throne for the right which shall receive the King, and then cup your open hand and take the Body of Christ, reciting the Amen. Then sanctify with all care your eyes by touching the Sacred Body and receive it.’ (It would seem that St. Cyril is underlining the reverence one should have in approaching
Communion; receiving the Body of the Lord in the hand, and then with dignity, consuming the Sacred Host.) He goes on to say, `But be careful that no particles fall, for what you lose would be to you as if you had lost some of
your members. Tell me, if anyone had given you gold dust, would you not hold fast to it with care, and watch lest some of it fall, and be lost to you? Must you not then be even more careful with that which is more precious than gold and diamonds, so that no particles are lost? Then, after you have partaken of the Body of Christ approach the chalice with the Blood without stretching out your hands, but bowed, in an approach of worship and reverence, and repeat Amen,and sanctify yourself by receiving the Bloodof Christ…Then tarry in prayer and thank God who has made you worthy of such mysteries…’

Here St. Cyril reminds the Faithful to stay in a spirit of prayerfulness, and enter into that ‘stillness’ where the reality of what has just taken place, permeates one`s whole being with reverence, humility and a sense of ‘belonging’ to God`s Household…the Assembly gathered, to give “Thanks and Praise” in the Eucharistic Celebration. However, St. Cyril intends his listeners to be impelled to ‘Go out’ from the Assembly, nourished by the Word of God, the sacrament of the Eucharist and “Love and Serve the Lord” in their day to day relationships, attitudes and actions.

As you can see from a very practical point of view, St. Cyril is highlighting the interior disposition we should have as we receive the Body and Blood of the Lord. This Sermon was to remind the people in strong terms, to keep their minds on what they were doing, and why they were doing it. Most certainly this applies to us, and to all generations of people who gather to celebrate the Eucharist. We can sometimes fall into the trap of routine actions, and have our minds on other things when approaching the Sacrament.

NEXT WEEK: Lord, I am unworthy to receive you.

                                                                The Introduction of Eucharistic
                                                                                 Adoration

HOLY COMMUNION PART THREE:

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Last week we looked at the ancient custom of the Reception of Holy Communion in the Hand. St.Cyril of Jerusalem gave us a very clear and meaningful understanding as to the internal disposition required prior to the reception of Holy Communion.  His Instruction within the post Easter Sermon of 348 A.D gives us a good understanding as to why this practice has been introduced into the post Vatican II Liturgy.  I might add that the practice of the reception of Holy Communion in the hand was the case for about 900 years!

Let’s now make a jump to the middle Ages. Around the First Millennium, the pattern and practice of the reception of Holy Communion began to change…but the pattern in society also was in a state of great change.  Changes in Society always have an effect on the Church, and the Church being the ‘yeast’ is “missioned” to have an effect upon society.

The middle Ages were a time when the distance between the higher and lower classes of people began to
widen. With Monarchies in place throughout the European world, you had a pyramid-style pattern within society.  The majority of people were closer to the base of the triangle. It was around this time that the divine aspects of the Eucharist was emphasized, that is the real, holy and awesome presence of Christ in the Sacrament was forefront in Church thinking. The Sacred Host was to be adored more than eaten.  Our unworthiness in the face of the sublime gift led to less frequent reception of Communion.

In the Lateran Council of 1215, it was expected that the faithful receive Holy Communion only once a year!  The faithful took solace in adoration of the Host during Mass at the newly introduced elevation after the words of Institution (Consecration).  Other devotions sprung up, like Benediction and Eucharistic Processions, and this was reflected in Sacred Music with the abundance of Eucharistic Hymns.  If we go back about 25-30 years, Sunday Night Benediction was a very important part of our piety too.

It was also around this time, that the practice developed of using the reserved Hosts from the Tabernacle to give Communion to those few people who wished to receive Holy Communion. The Host consecrated at Mass was reserved for the priest.

In order to highlight the sacredness of the Mass, in many Church buildings the Altar rails used to reach
the ceiling and the gates were opened only for the Consecration and Elevation of the Host and Chalice. Over time, this Rood Screen as it was called was reduced to the Altar rails that are still in some places today. Of course, the kneeling for the reception Holy Communion was the done thing at the Altar rails.

ESSAY SECTION:   Number 4, on Holy Communion.

ENTER POPE ST.PIUS X  Frequent Reception of Holy Communion.

Pope St.Pius X brought in a major change by reducing the age at which people could make their First Holy Communion. But this really did not take on immediately. Old habits die hard. By the beginning of the 20th Century, things had begun to change. In his Encyclical Quam Singulari, Pope St.Pius X encouraged frequent, even daily Communion, and set the age of reason (About 7 years) as the time in a child’s life to make their First Holy Communion. We might ask the question from our point in History, ‘what was holding the people back when the Pope opened the gates to receive Holy Communion more frequently?’ Two reasons come to the surface, although it is not as simple as all that. It would seem that deep within the heart of our Catholic people there was an overall sense of unworthiness before God. In short, we were basically bad people who were plagued by sin, and hence the state of grace was extremely hard to attain. Therefore to change attitudes and understanding, education was needed to filter through the young to the old, and it was only with the passage of time, did changes in mindset occur.

Numerous Sodalities grew up within our Catholic Communities, like the Holy Name Society, the Sacred Heart Sodality, and the Children of Mary, these groups encouraged monthly reception of Holy Communion as well as
education and companionship.

A significant change which Pope Pius XII initiated was abolishing of the fast from midnight, thus making it more accommodating to receive Holy Communion at later Masses on a Sunday morning. In short, the window of opportunity had widened for people to go to Mass at a time that suited them in their work and family situations.

The introduction of the Saturday Vigil Mass after the Second Vatican Council together with the Sunday evening Mass, as well as the one hour fast from solid food, gave greater opportunities for people to go to Mass and receive Holy Communion.

So, the opportunities for going to Mass are greater, but what about our inner dispositions and understanding of what we are doing at Mass? The celebration of Mass in our own language has enabled us to take a greater part in the Liturgy. However, the effect of our secular society on our Catholic people has taken its toll. The sense of the ‘sacred’ needs greater awareness among our people. We need to develop the reflective side of our spiritual lives in our busy society, so that we can be attentive to Christ speaking through His Word and Sacrament, and respond with faith, love and Christian activity in our daily lives. Excuses can easily be made for missing Mass. But in the long term we are the ones who miss out from being nourished with the bread of life, the bread of God’s Word, and the encounter with Christ in the worshipping community. Let us share the Eucharist with hearts unlocked, and respond:

Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!

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