Tired of all the bad news

While we can't deny the difficulites for so many people at home and overseas, it's important to take account of the positives, and to spread the Good News. I don't know who said this but; "No-one ever injured their eyesight by looking on the bright side." Blessings..

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Peace on Earth

Today, April 11th 2013 marks the 50th Anniversary of the ground-breaking encyclical "Pacem in Terris" (Peace on Earth) by Blessed Pope John XXIII.  It was his last encyclical letter, drafted two months before he died. It is unique in that it was the first time a Pope wrote not just to all Catholics but to "All men of good will." It was written at a time of international tension. The Berlin Wall had been erected in 1961 and because of the Cuban Missile Crisis there was fresh fears of war breaking out on a huge scale.

In the encyclical, the Pope examines the situation the world finds itself in in the 1960's. He outlines the importance of order in life, in society, between people and this leads to right relationships and prosperity. He speaks about conscience and reconciliation which gives rise to harmony.

He is critical of the arms race; "We are deeply distressed to see the enormous stocks of armaments that have been, and continue to be, manufactured in the economically more developed countries. "Because of this; "People are in the grip of constant fear. They are afraid that at any moment the impending storm may break upon them with horrific violence. " My mother remembers she and her friends going the church around that time and there was prayers for peace. Pope John calls for disarmament and calls for nuclear weapons to be banned.
Pope John outlines motives for peace; "Here, then, we have an objective dictated first of all by reason. There is general agreement—or at least there should be—that relations between States, as between individuals, must be regulated not by armed force, but in accordance with the principles of right reason: the principles, that is, of truth, justice and vigorous and sincere co-operation.  Secondly, it is an objective which We maintain is more earnestly to be desired. For who is there who does not feel the craving to be rid of the threat of war, and to see peace preserved and made daily more secure? And finally it is an objective which is rich with possibilities for good. Its advantages will be felt everywhere, by individuals, by families, by nations, by the whole human race. The warning of Pope Pius XII still rings in our ears: "Nothing is lost by peace; everything may be lost by war." (60)

He mentions the establishment of the United Nations in June 1945 and supports its aims and objectives and its 'farsightedness' in developing its Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He says that education is also integral to the cause of peace as it supports the people listening to each other.
The Pope offers a compass in the quest for peace and it is Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace;

"Let us, then, pray with all fervour for this peace which our divine Redeemer came to bring us. May He banish from the souls of men whatever might endanger peace. May He transform all men into witnesses of truth, justice and brotherly love. May He illumine with His light the minds of rulers, so that, besides caring for the proper material welfare of their peoples, they may also guarantee them the fairest gift of peace."

"Finally, may Christ inflame the desires of all men to break through the barriers which divide them, to strengthen the bonds of mutual love, to learn to understand one another, and to pardon those who have done them wrong. Through His power and inspiration may all peoples welcome each other to their hearts as brothers, and may the peace they long for ever flower and ever reign among them."


Friday, 5 April 2013

The Vampire Diaries

From time to time, to switch off, I look at some documentaries and movies on Netflix and You Tube. Lately I’ve discovered the Vampire Diaries. I won’t go into the details as to the story lines or the characters as this programme seems to be very popular and no doubt has a huge audience worldwide therefore you’ve heard all about it. I must say I enjoy it probably because as a teenager I was a fan or Hammer horror and the old Black and White Vampire movies. Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee were two actors who portrayed Dracula very well. Later on I got to read Dubliner Bram Stoker’s book Dracula and I’ve read it three or four times over the years. It’s perhaps one of the most famous books ever written. Again, no need to go into the story line as doubtless you’ve heard about or read it.

It seems that horror movies and ghost stories do very well and we all grew up enjoying a good ghost story or a scary film. This is no different today with many different movies, stories, and television programmes continuing to make horror popular. The current Vampire films like Twilight and the Vampire Diaries are very popular today. When I was a teen it was Halloween, Freddy Kruger, Salem’s Lot, and Stephen King. In my parent’s time, it was Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Ingrid Pitt, and Vincent Price, and when my grandparents were around there was Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jnr, Yvonne De Carlo, and Max Schreck.

When I was reading Dracula, the rules were; he cast no reflection in a mirror, he could be repelled by a cross, and he couldn’t abide garlic.  He never emerged during daylight, and Dracula and all vampires had to sleep in their coffins at night on earth from their native land. Bram Stoker tells us that the Schooner the Demeter which Dracula chartered to go to Whitby, England, carried over fifty earth boxes for that purpose. Now watching the Vampire Diaries, the undead walk in the sunlight if they wear a ring or jewellery fashioned by a witch, they never stop looking at themselves in mirrors, they aren’t repelled by crosses, they seem to eat garlic and chilli regularly, and a wooden stake may not kill them off.

Taking all this into account as I write, the human person has a huge desire and need to connect with the supernatural. Along with the Vampire programmes and the popular reality T.V. shows, we see shows where people and camera crews go into well-known haunted houses with psychics. (Are they crazy?) It’s as if the spirit world is not that far away at all. In fact the spirit world is very near.
We are in Easter time and Christians everywhere give thanks for the saving message of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ came on earth to tell us that God loves us very much and he told us that God is like an Abba, a Father. Jesus spoke in parables to illustrate the closeness of God to His people and how much He loves us. While God is transcendent, God is also immanent and someone who wants us to be in relationship with Him. One of the most powerful stories Jesus told to show the closeness and the kindness of God was the story of the ‘Prodigal’ Father  and the ‘lost’ and ‘dutiful’ sons (Luke 15: 11-32) He tells this story in the presence of Scribes and Pharisees who are critical of Jesus’ mixing with tax collectors and sinners. There is the son who gets greedy and asks for his share of the family inheritance and desires to make his own way in the world. He goes away and makes a mess of his life. When things get desperate, He comes to his senses and decides to ask for forgiveness and returns to the father who we see has been looking out for him every day. This Father never gave up on his wayward son. He fully reinstates the son back into the family and throws a party because he has got him back safe and sound. The elder son of the father despite remaining faithful through it all is angry and jealous and refuses to share in the father’s joy. Even the dutiful son needs some salvation. The point Jesus is making to the Scribes and Pharisees in telling the story is that this ‘father ‘who is prodigal or extravagant in his generosity to sinners is actually God’s self-description.

All through his public ministry, Jesus tells the people and his disciples in Spirit-filled words and powerful deeds that it is written that the Christ would suffer. He would be betrayed, arrested, tried, scourged, crucified, and die on the cross. And after three days Jesus would rise from the dead. Witnesses from his group (most of the disciples, his closest collaborators, ran away terrified) came to the tomb were his body had been placed and saw that he was not there. They all had encounters with the risen Jesus who reminded them all that it was ‘ordained that the Christ would suffer…’ (Luke 24: 1-53)

Fuelled by the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2: 1-12) the disciples and their followers were charged with the great mission of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 28: 16-22) We are confident therefore that because of these witnesses, and because of their faith and the faith of our parents and their parents before them, we have inherited a belief in God who loves us unconditionally and that through the power of the Holy Spirit we can connect with him anytime through prayer. We also have the prayers of the Saints, and those who have gone to the Kingdom of God before us as Jesus promised we would (John 14:1-6) We have the prayers of Our Blessed Lady, the Mother of God who goes to her Son, Jesus with our prayers and our needs.

The spirit world, the world of God is here and now and it is a world of life and joy. And it is through prayer and becoming quiet that we connect with it. God hears all our prayers and is not deaf to our fears and struggles. Do not be afraid, Jesus Christ is risen Alleluia!