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Blogs from the Diocese. 

Life is a Pilgrimage

Today I begin a pilgrimage. It will take me just over thirty days and many kilometers. It will require physical and spiritual endurance. But most of all it will require an absolute surrender to God's will. On pilgrimage you choose to walk, to put one foot I front of the other and to follow the way. This is discipleship, this is life! We choose to walk, to put one foot in front of the other, we choose either to do our own thing or to follow Jesus. We choose either half living or life to the full.

I begin in Lourdes that well known shrine of the Blessed Virgin. Here I contemplate the inner meaning or discipleship as I meditate on Mary the first disciple. Her yes that brought forth Jesus. My many 'nos' that bring death and division. I pray here at this shrine for the grace of discipleship. To say yes in all times and circumstances. To choose life in abundance.

One promise a Bishop makes is to pray for his people. Here I entrust each of you into the maternal care of our mother. I pray that each of us may find the path to holiness and that we find the courage to walk that path, one foot in front of the other. Let us encourage each other along the way so that we all may get there.

Journey with me over these days as I pray for you. I ask you to pray for me and to pray with me that the lord may renew us. That we may hear His call. That we may accept His mercy  and respond wholeheartedly to Him and to each other with extreme love.

With Gratitude

Bishop J

 

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The Compassion of Jesus

The Compassion of Jesus

This week we celebrated the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and that is usually illustrated with the symbolic images of the Sacred Heart. But a truer image is to be found in this Sunday's gospel. When Jesus saw her he felt sorry for her.

The words he felt sorry for her is a very weak translation of the original word in the gospel which really means He was heartbroken when he saw her. The compassion of Jesus is something we do not easily understand and we often feel a bit like some of the people who said when Jesus arrived after the death of Lazarus "Could he not have prevented this man's death?"

Feeling that God is Almighty and can do anything we do not always appreciate how heartbroken Jesus is at seeing people suffer. A better image of the Sacred Heart would be Jesus standing helpless with tears running down his face. He burst into tears when he felt the pain of Martha and Mary at their brother's death, he wept at the sight of Jerusalem refusing the blessing offered by God, and when someone said 'If you want to, you can heal me', he replied 'Of course I want to'.

Compassion means sharing somebody's suffering and that always means feeling helpless. Jesus never explained suffering. But he came and shared it and like us he felt helpless. This would be a better image of the Sacred Heart, the Loving Heart of Jesus: Jesus with tears running down his face heartbroken looking at us with great love and so often feeling helpless.

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FLOWERS OF GODS GARDEN 1

FLOWERS OF GODS GARDEN 1

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PILGRIMAGE TO ROME

PILGRIMAGE TO ROME

Time was when all I wanted from life was to be a simple pulpit preacher, even without a mike to enable my message to reach the distant corners of large churches. This was in the early 1950s. Now, with today’s galaxy of media outlets my words travel to every corner of the world. So it is for every modern preacher who is willing to become ‘media wise.’

Without shame I boast of being somewhat unique. My twin brother is also a Dominican priest. He is in England. I am in the West Indies. No problem here! The Internet unites us. Now at our disposal is a technology that enables us to dispatch quality recorded messages from an armchair on one side of a vast expanse of ocean to a radio station on the other. Thanks to Skype we have developed a deep trust between us, a willingness to share our insights. Each of us puts into a common pool his pastoral experience, his personal studies, and the anecdotes that have flavoured his personal life. Eagerly we evaluate, hone, correct and even trash each other’s work. Whatever appears to come from either of us is, in fact, the product of ‘TWINCLARKE CO. LTD.’ Now as octogenarians, as brothers we are closer to one another than ever before - at the intimate meeting of personal faith and mission - with the wonders of Information Technology being harnessed to our Dominican preaching! Absolutely marvelous!

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Signs of a Dynamic Catholic Reflection

Signs of a Dynamic Catholic Reflection

Many of you would have read  Matthew Kelly’s ‘Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic ’  -- a  must-read for those who haven’t.    In it, the author sets out to share his ideas on how individual Catholics can be on fire for the Lord, rekindle their faith, and by so doing help to change the world.    Kelly himself experienced this transformation, and so speaks from personal knowledge as well as from empirical evidence.    As a result, he has heeded God’s call to “go and teach all nations.”

Let’s look at the four signs.  The first  is  Prayer.    Prayer must become a priority.   There must be a daily commitment to prayer, for the “things we do repeatedly determine our character and destiny.”  You cannot love someone and do not want to be in their presence.    Set aside a time each day as your prayer time to be with God.    Remember a Christian is not one who knows about God; it is one who has a relationship with Him.   What you will find is that by dedicating your day to the Lord, God permeates every aspect of your life.     Prayer is also a time to listen to God.  Don’t spend all your time talking.  It is also a time to be before God in silence, just acknowledging His majesty, and His presence.

The second sign of a dynamic Catholic is Study.  “Highly engaged Catholics are continuous learners,” Kelly observes.    Paul advised Timothy to “Study to show thyself approved unto God.”  (2 Tim. 2:15).   Catholics are noted for not knowing their faith.    The wealth of information that is available may seem overwhelming, but if every parishioner undertook to add five pages of spiritual reading a day to their routine, the transformation would be significant.  Taking small incremental steps to let the teachings of Jesus and His Church permeate our thinking would be a game changer, Kelly predicts.   There is a lot to read and learn, but, as the author wittingly suggests:  How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.

Here is a very revealing statement.  “The happiest people I know are also the most generous people I know.”  Kelly lists  Generosity as the third sign of dynamic Catholics.   They realize that they have been blessed by God to be a blessing to others; hence gratitude is a strong motivating force in their lives.  They are generous with their praise, appreciation, and encouragement, and generous with their time, talent and treasure.  “God  loves a cheerful giver.”  (2 Cor. 9: 7).  God looks at the heart, and the generous Catholic knows that giving back is an expression of thanksgiving and love. 

Evangelization is a current topic in the Church today, and it is the fourth dynamic sign.   “Dynamic Catholics invite others to grow spiritually by sharing the love of God with them.”   But this love of God must be a dominating force in the sharer’s life.   Evangelization must first of all be an inside job, starting in the hearts of all of us.   Our lives are a great evangelizing tool.   Distributing literature, inviting people to Catholic events, articulating the views of the  Church when necessary,  offering “faithful and generous friendship” are some of the ways we are called to evangelize.  

J. F. Kennedy once said “one person can make a difference, and everyone should try.”   Want to make a difference?  Do you want to be a better-version-of yourself in 2016?    Put into practice  the  three CCCs -  Catholic, Committed, Called to service.

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