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  2. Joy and Hope, Grief and Anguish | America Magazine
  3. Catholic theology
  4. Changed Lives > Changing Lives. 9 days of Prayer from Ascension Day to Pentecost.

In a ritual we are invited into the action. To participate. Our willingness to participate will depend on our level of interest or commitment. If we are open to engage with the ritual we might find that our eyes are opened to truths and significance we might not have expected to experience. We might find that more than just our interest is tweaked. We might find that we wake up to something beyond ourselves. A good ritual is a doorway through which we glimpse an alternative universe.

Our eyes and hearts and minds are opened to a spiritual experience of being transformed. The third word is Sacrament. This word zeros in on the spiritual awakening, and a spiritual presence. A sacrament is an outward sign like a ritual of an inner reality and truth. Holy Communion is a celebration built into the ritual of a sacrament.

The action of this sacrament tells the story of love outpoured, of one who out of pure love gives himself and identifies with us in all our hungers, all our needs, our insecurities, anxieties as well as our hopes and aspirations. It reveals one who was truly present to those he encountered, walked with, healed, ate with.

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The message of Jesus is this : Let go, do not cling on to the life you have. Stop trying to control everything that happens in your life, because you are not in control of either the universe, or indeed your own life. Instead follow me in my way. His way is a way which is lived for others. And so we come to the fourth word which is Presence. In Holy Communion we encounter the presence of Jesus, the Christ. Jesus who let go, who laid his life down for others, who did not cling on to life.

Jesus who took bread and wine — saying these are my body and blood. If Jesus Christ can be somehow present in bread and wine, then he can surely be present in you and me.


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But vitally, Christ being Present — a presence that is immediate and actual, here and now, sets a pattern for you and me. With Christ present in us, we are called to be present in our world.

Joy and Hope, Grief and Anguish | America Magazine

Called to bring our whole selves — everything. To bring the best of ourselves, our anointed selves. To be intensely here, in this moment, with our brothers and sisters. To look into the eyes of our neighbours and to recognize there, the presence of another, with all the vulnerability, all the hopes, all the love that can be borne. To be present to those we encounter, whether in the check out at Morrisons, on the bus, or over the garden fence, and of course to those who come through our doors, and across our thresholds. It demands that we abandon all sense of ownership or exclusive rights to anything.

To be truly free and present is to be in the now, in this present moment. Now is the only eternal moment in time. Think about that. Now is always with us. God is here in this moment, every moment is a moment of Communion, waiting for you to awaken to His presence. To have eternal life is to live in this present moment, intensely, deliberately, intentionally. The oxygen we breathe in this present moment is LOVE. As we celebrate the resurrection of Christ, we too celebrate our resurrection, because we are all caught up in Christ. So, as you come up to the altar this morning, bring your presence, your whole self, focused on this encounter with the risen Christ.

There is no other way to be authentically alive. I have been asked many times what I think should happen to Shamima — whether the UK should have her back, or whether to withdraw her citizenship. What is patently clear is that as human beings we can and must do better than pour out abuse and hatred towards her. We diminish ourselves by resorting to such hate speech. First, we should allow her back into the UK to face the consequences in our legal system of the decisions she made originally in leaving the UK to join IS.

To fail to do so means that she is effectively stateless, floating on the ocean of rootlessness, remaining vulnerable to the depraved influence of IS and other extremist peddlers of violence and blind hatred. By stripping Shamima of her UK citizenship, the Home Secretary has played to the gallery of popular opinion and has not acted in the best interests of either the UK or Shamima Begum herself.


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We know that she has said some deplorable things since she hit the news in recent weeks about her apparent lack of regrets and how she was unfazed by the gruesome sights she witnessed during her time with IS. These were clearly very unguarded utterances, but we do not know the circumstances under which she said these things, although we do know they were said in a refugee camp containing many IS sympathisers and people who are likely to have a direct influence over her fate in the immediate short term. We do know that she has lost two children due to disease and the conditions she has found herself in.

We also know that she has given birth to a baby son in the last couple of weeks. In light of this fact we should be clear that by stripping her of her UK citizenship, we are not just subjecting Shamima to being stateless and a very dangerous and uncertain future, but also an innocent new born child. It will only be in the safety of the UK judicial system that we will ever know her true state of mind, and the degree and impact of the trauma she has experienced and the extent of any continuing sympathies with IS that she may have.

To prevent her return to the UK blocks any possible way back for her, and this, as a Christian, I believe is not right. The second thing that I consider very important is the requirement for us to hold open the possibility of restoration and rehabilitation, and therein forgiveness. The Christian faith has a message of robust and tough love.

Face the consequences of your actions, but also know that we are all within the grasp of a forgiving and compassionate God. People, including Shamima Begum, will always have to face the consequences of their actions and be held accountable.

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This is what has historically made the UK a well-respected upholder of justice and fairness in the world. It is therefore very distressing that so much space on social media websites is now filled with the views of people whose intolerance, prejudice and hatred for the likes of Shamima Begum is so extreme and impervious to reason and grace. Luke ; Isaiah The miracle of the huge catch of fish Luke comes as Jesus finishes speaking to the great crowd of people gathered on the edge of the lake.

He suggests to the owners of the small fishing boat that he has been using as a platform so that he can be heard by the crowd, that they cast out into deeper water and put down their nets to see what they might catch. But the fishermen have been out fishing all night with little or nothing to show for it.

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They put down the nets and are literally overwhelmed by the vast catch of fish that fills the nets. The miracle followed the talk Jesus gave.

His teaching was refreshingly simple and straightforward. It was all about love and being kind to others. The miracle involves a net. The net can be seen in different ways. It engulfs the fish and scoops them up.

Changed Lives > Changing Lives. 9 days of Prayer from Ascension Day to Pentecost.

Almost uniquely among mainstream commentators, Douthat has been willing to suggest the possibility that Francis will spark a genuine schism between liberals and conservatives. Douthat was born into Protestantism, wobbling along the seldom-travelled border between Pentecostal fire and the polite mainstream. He converted to Catholicism as a teen-ager, freely but under the influence of his spiritually itinerant mother. He casts his life as a Christian as similarly divided—often doubtful and ironic where others seem, to him, naturally pious and enviably prone to untroubled belief.

The German Benedict and the Latin-American Francis occupy ironic positions in this divide; Benedict is something of an anomaly among his countrymen, and the brashness of Francis, the Argentine son of Italian immigrants, may stem in part from his upbringing in a place in which, at the time, Catholicism still amounted to a total culture. Douthat notes these divisions, but refrains, amid his other confessions, from turning the geographic mirror on himself.

The American Church is proportionally smaller, and more embattled, than many of its counterparts elsewhere; for years, immigration has been its sole source of consistent growth. At first blush, the Church might appear to be as plagued by splintering as so much of American life is: besides the rough liberal-conservative divide that, in its current form, has persisted since the sixties, there are also Catholic socialists, Catholic Trumpists, liberation theologians, liturgical traditionalists lamenting the loss of the old Latin Mass, and ultramontane restorationists who hint at their hopes for a return to theocracy—and who, by implication, dismiss both liberals and conservatives as modernists who have been led astray by pluralistic democracy, and by the false hope of convergence with the wider world.

But these factions are, ideally, united by a sense of eschatology via history: a hope that they are all journeying, however imperfectly, together, toward God. These days, this would seem to constitute a major point of attraction, especially to a certain kind of politically interested American spiritual seeker. In the secular realm, we carry out our arguments—and develop our politics, each of us an autodidact—without the benefit of a common moral language or the bedrock of shared premises, and we sometimes appear fated, therefore, to retreat to our various ideological corners for good.

The Catholicism of a figure like Benedict, with his faith in the legibility of earthly and spiritual experience, presents a salve for this condition. Its adherents might squabble, but their differences lead them back, eventually, to a mutual inheritance: the words of Jesus in the Gospels, the lives of the saints, the rhythms of the liturgy, the catechism of the Church.

This common ground might not prompt agreement, but it can result in understanding, and in something like harmony. One of my favorite genres of Catholic literature is the book-length interview: the Pope or some other high-ranking churchman sits down with a reporter or other layman, both operating on the assumption that conversation tends toward truth. In his most effective columns for the Times , Douthat, a staunch social conservative who nonetheless manages to project a tone of Gen X knowingness and mild ennui, is not so much an ideological champion or purveyor of contrarian opinion as a cunning interpreter.

He means to persuade—or, at least, to subtly reroute the grooves of reasoning by which his wary readers arrive at their reliably liberal positions. But he usually tries to do so by breezing past the most radical implications of his ideas. His third version of the Vatican II story, the one he considers to be closest to the truth, presents a dialectic. Nicholas Davis Monday, Nov 4. Prayer is essential to living the Christian life in a God-glorifying and joy-filled manner. Here are five ways to help you become more faithful in Sproul Monday, Sep 9.

Jesus says that every idle word that we have ever spoken will be brought into the judgment.