A Profound Meeting with the Lord

In life we rarely have a profound experience but when we do it is life-changing and brings about a total revolution in the way we see things, in the way we view the world.

On Wednesday the Catholic Church celebrated the conversion of St Paul, a truly awe-inspiring moment, as if it leaps from a Hollywood movie, a man who was going to persecute Christians becomes a Christian himself. My meeting with the Lord wasn’t so awe-inspiring or movie-like, on the contrary I would rather call it a profound discovery of what I believe in, what I ought to defend. Perhaps my conversion wasn’t so dramatic due to the fact the I already was a Catholic who believed in everything the Church defended and what it stood for. So what did traditionalism change?

The first change that occurred was that I grew in my zeal to defend the Faith, what is known as apologetics. In my website there is no apologetics section, or one apologetics article in fact the defense of the Faith runs in all that is published, be it the latest Amoris Laetitia post or the Quran vs the Old Testament article or the Morning After Pill article (here I followed the example set by Pope Paul VI in  Humane Vitae). Defending the Faith, I learned also entails one to defend it at the right moment, for example the Quran vs the Old Testament article was published after a popular Maltese TV show tried to humiliate Catholicism by disguising the Bible in a Quran cover and broadcast the people’s reactions, it was nothing more than a liberal attack on our Faith.

The second change I noticed was that as soon as I started following the Traditions of the Church I suddenly became more convinced that what I was doing made more sense and was more worth it than anything else. As an inspiration on such a reality I would like to refer you to the example set by G.K Chesterton whose literature is both amazing and empowering to read. Chesterton was a Protestant, who became an atheist who then crossed the Tiber as they say and became Catholic. In his literature one could very easily sense that as soon as he touched with tradition as soon as he felt the power of defending what has always been defended by the Church, he could suddenly say: “We do not really want a religion that is right where we are right. What we want is a religion that is right where we are wrong.” Thus  from merely defending the Faith, I went to passionately defending the Faith. Defending without passion is boring, defending with passion makes you a formidable enemy to all who hate the Truth.

Reverence for all that is holy and heavenly inspired a complete U-turn in the way I looked at the Mass and the Eucharist. Recently I have been reading Scott Hahn’s “The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth”. In this deeply moving, spiritually enriching book there are many quotes which stand out but the one which hit me perfectly was this: “We go to Heaven-not only when we die, or when we go to Rome, or when we make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. We go to heaven when we go to Mass.” This change was so significant that I went from attending Novos Ordo to attending Traditional Latin Mass. The revolutionary call for reverence could only be satisfied and answered by the most reverent, the most beautiful, the most heavenly of Masses, one which for centuries was silently heard and passionately celebrated by saints, blessed and martyrs alike.

Having read this testimony may you too be inspired to go at the very heart of Catholicism. I invite you to explore these beautiful and ancient means of communion with the Lord. Your life would not go unchanged!

The Maltese Disaster

This article is being published with the permission of Dr. Edward N. Peters JD, JCD, Ref. Sig. Ap. 

The bishops of Malta, in a document that can only be called disastrous, repeatedly invoking Pope Francis’ Amoris laetitia, have directly approved divorced and remarried Catholics taking holy Communion provided they feel “at peace with God”. Unlike, say, the Argentine document on Amoris which, one could argue, left just enough room for an orthodox reading, however widely it also left the doors open for abuse by others, the Maltese bishops in their document come straight out and say it: holy Communion is for any Catholic who feels “at peace with God” and the Church’s ministers may not say No to such requests. In my view the Maltese bishops have effectively invited the Catholics entrusted to them (lay faithful and clergy alike!) to commit a number of objectively gravely evil acts. That their document was, moreover, published in L’Osservatore Romano, exacerbates matters for it deprives Vatican representatives of the ‘plausible deniability’ that they could have claimed (and might soon enough wish they could claim), as it becomes known that the Maltese bishops went beyond what even Amoris, if interpreted narrowly, seemed to permit.

For now, I make just a few points.

1. The Maltese bishops have fallen completely for the canonically and ecclesiologically false view that an individual’s assessment of his or her own readiness to receive holy Communion (see c. 916) controls a minister’s decision to administer the sacrament (see c. 915). In Malta now, anyone who approaches for the sacraments should be recognized as being “at peace with God”. Objective evidence to the contrary is simply no longer relevant. Canon 916 is thus eviscerated, Canon 915 is effectively repudiated.

2. The Maltese bishops do not seem to know what the word “conjugal” means. They think that non-married people can practice “conjugal” virtues and that they can decide about whether to engage in “conjugal” acts. Nonsense and, coming from bishops, inexcusable nonsense at that. Non-married people can have sex, of course, but Catholic pastoral integrity does not hold such sexual acts on par with the physically identical, but truly conjugal, acts as performed by married persons.

3. The Maltese bishops, by extending their document to the sacrament of Reconciliation, have basically instructed their priests not to withhold absolution from divorced-and-remarried Catholics who refuse to repent of their “public and permanent adultery” (CCC 2384) even to the point of abstaining from sexual (nb: sexual not “conjugal”) relations. Incredibly, such a directive raises the specter of green-lighting sacrilegious confessions and the commission of solicitation in confession. No priest should want either on his conscience, let alone both.

4. The Maltese bishops even managed to take swipes at Baptism and Confirmation by opening the door to divorced-and-remarried Catholics serving as godparents contrary to the expectations of Canon 874 § 1, 3º. See CLSA New Comm (2001) 1062-1063. There are other serious problems with the Maltese document but the above should suffice to show why it is, quite simply, a disaster.

Asserting the Value of Life-I

This article was written by Kylie Decelis. Kylie is a Maltese blogger. Her writings centre around pro-life issues and conservative politics, with the occasional post about Church tradition.

Any fan of the Doctor Who saga knows that Listen, the fourth episode of the eighth series, delves into one of childhood’s infamous worries. Many people understand the feeling of when as you put your feet out from under the bed sheets in the morning to search for your slippers, you always doubt whether something with the ability of snatching your feet is hiding under your bed. Most of us have even taken a quick look to see the narrow world that lies below.

This scenario rightly captures in my opinion the way unfounded questions related to the sanctity of human life pop up from time to time in Maltese politics. We feel that they’re lurking in the mind of a small minority, yet we can’t really address the issue once and for all and reaffirm Malta’s pro-life character. Mind you, the obsession some members of this minority have regarding the ruining of Malta’s clear pro-life laws has blasted the fantasy of the creature under the bed into a fully-fledged paranoia. As always, you can count on Lovin Malta (Maltese liberal site) to pitch in and sound their pro-abortion, and overall liberal, fetish with the rest of us.

Any respectable person would simply distance themselves from the recent comments of a well-known electoral candidate regarding abortion and euthanasia. These serious failures of our society are never a matter of personal choice since they involve people making decisions which they are not entitled to make. In the case of abortion, it’s a mother deciding whether the other person in her womb should be allowed to live or should be given the death penalty. In the case of euthanasia, it’s a person deciding the time when s/he can leave this world. I wouldn’t spend much time debating him given his obvious flawed arguments. However, I find utterly disgusting the failure of his respective party to simply state its values and the comments of Lovin Malta on this issue.

First of all, political parties in Malta should clearly define their value system. It seems that the two major political parties are harbouring individuals who define themselves as pro-abortion. As a voter, I need to know where each party stands on this issue. As life is the first and most important human right, a pro-abortion party can never expect the vote of a woman like me. As a woman, I feel utterly insulted by any person saying that the decision whether to kill my children in my own body is a very personal one. Evil is never personal! I want to make sure that in any circumstance, I, and any woman regardless of her beliefs, shall have the opportunity to choose life, and life only. Women deserve better than abortion. So no, it’s not a matter of personal choice as the candidate said. It’s a matter of protecting women and babies from murder. If anyone champions women’s rights, it’s definitely the pro-life movement. Only within a fully pro-life mindset can we fully understand the value of any life regardless of its stage.

To be continued….

Doing what is Right vs doing what is Popular

For Shakespeare the question was to be or not to be, for us us the question is to be popular or to be right. I start this article by giving you an example: Last Sunday Meryl Streep gave a speech at the Golden Globes award, which has been called extraordinary and inspirational by some, elitist and typical Hollywood by others. I prefer to be diplomatic and call it controversial. What did such a speech gain? Fame and praise for Streep, division and anger to others. Thus we come to the key question once more to be popular or to be right? Honestly I can tell you that as a Catholic the answer is obvious what is right, as a teenager who is tempted by fame like many others, the answer sometimes becomes what is popular.

So how can I arrive to the clear conclusion? As always is the case for me as Catholic, I ponder on Christ’s truly remarkable example. From the Gospels we find this episode whereby Christ is tempted by the devil to jump from the Temple so that the angels would keep him from hurting His feet. Christ would have become instantly famous, everyone would believed him straightaway, He could have taken such a short route, a film-like rag to riches success story. Christ’s response is a clear no. “Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, `You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”. But what would I do? Would I do something for the sake of fame say do like most celebrities, who have become the false gods of our time, do. Such as post certain risqué attention seeking images of myself. The temptation is real after all we are living in an age where we are expected to like, follow and share.

Let us examine clearly the example of posting certain risqué attention seeking images of oneself. Say I decide that I post such an image, what do I gain a more liked (if not the most liked) image of myself on my profile. What have I lost: first my true appreciation for my own body and image, I used my image, I have treated myself as an object for the consumption by others either for mere jealousy or worse for fake love. Thus as one can see very clearly the loss is already greater than the gain.

We have not directly mentioned God but we did refer to Him indirectly for it was He who created us in His own image. What does this mean?

“The dignity of the person is manifested in all its radiance when the person’s origin and destiny are considered: created by God in his image and likeness as well as redeemed by the most precious blood of Christ, the person is called to be a “child in the Son” and a living temple of the Spirit, destined for the eternal life of blessed communion with God. For this reason every violation of the personal dignity of the human being cries out in vengeance to God and is an offence against the Creator of the individual.” (From Christifideles Laici, n 37) 

Amazed by such love and warmth I can only say that as a teenager, although tempted by fame, I can only respond in the only reasonable way possible. Choosing what is right is the answer to the trickiest question facing mankind today: to do what is popular or what is right?

 

Every Year’s Resolution

“A good life makes a man wise according to God and gives him experience in many things, for the more humble he is and the more subject to God, the wiser and the more ant peace he will be in all things.” (Imitation of Christ by Thomas Kempis)

Having a good life is at the heart of every new year resolution or advertisement. But what do the words: “having a good life” mean to us Catholics? It means to do good things and follow God. Following the Lord is a tough challenge indeed. One only needs to read from the Gospel of Matthew: “You have heard how it was said: Eye for eye and tooth for tooth. But I say this to you: offer no resistance to the wicked. On the contrary, if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well.” The challenge is great it is contrary to one’s natural, imperfect, all to human response.

But Christ did not abandon us He preached what He lived and lived what He preached. When we contemplate on Christ’s final hours we don’t see an angry, swearing, troublesome rebel on the contrary we see a tender, silent, pious man. Thus in a world of anger, we are asked to be tender and kind, not in a salesperson type of kindness, not one which seeks to be profitable but tender to all whoever they man be. We have often heard that “silence is golden”, this couldn’t be more true for us who seek to contemplate and reflect on the Lord’s words and how they would change our lives should we follow them and treasure them in our hearts.

Piety is a word which has become strange in a world so impure. To be pious means to remain pure and loyal to God by avoiding all that rips us apart from God’s affection and infinite love.

To walk with God is hard, it is very difficult indeed, but we can all do our best. We can all pray everyday and make the Lord present in everyday of our lives.

Let this be every year’s resolution, to be perfect like Our Father is perfect.

An Advent lasting a lifetime-II

This reflection was written by Fr Brendan Mark Gatt, who is a Judicial Vicar (Adjunct) at The Metropolitan Tribunal of Malta.

An important theme which constantly comes up in the readings of Advent, is to be aware and stay watchful. It is very easy to be taken up with all the cares in this world and forget the next one! This is the way some people go through life: they seem to think that they will live forever and therefore they invest all their energy in this present life, never sparing a thought for what lies beyond.

Therefore our waiting, here on earth, is a joyful one. It is an attentive, positive waiting in which we tune our ears in order to stay in touch with God. It is a moment when even in our everyday chores we seek to hear ‘the rumour of angels’. It is this awareness which keeps us on our toes, in joyful anticipation of our final journey, when we meet God face to face.

Whenever I go to concerts there is a moment a few minutes before the music actually begins, when the musicians all start tuning their instruments and warming them up. There is no actual music going on, just sound, but the instruments create a kind of enchanting harmony which tells you “The magic is about to begin.” That is what our waiting is like. That is what Advent is like. If we train our ears, we will discover those magical harmonies even in everyday life, until the actual concert begins.

An Advent lasting a lifetime-I

This reflection was written by Fr Brendan Mark Gatt, who is a Judicial Vicar (Adjunct) at The Metropolitan Tribunal of Malta.

Whichever way you look at it, the basic message of Advent will always be the same one: “Wait!” Very often, as we wait for Christmas we’re like children on a long trip in the car going, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” We seem to have lost the ability to wait with patience. As soon as Advent comes around, up go the Christmas decorations, out come the Christmassy songs and we are overtaken by Christmas-present-fever. It shouldn’t be this way, and it needn’t be.

Perhaps in order to live Advent in a richer manner, we can use this time to grow in the awareness that our whole life is an Advent. Our whole life is a period of waiting for our final and definitive encounter with Our Heavenly Father. Many people view this moment in their lives with a mixture of fear and doubt. Even in the Gospels, we find texts which are very apocalyptic in tone, texts in which Jesus speaks to us of fearsome events throughout creation. And thus many people over the years have come to associate their final meeting with God as something terrifying. Yet in his Encyclical Letter Spe Salvi, Pope Benedict has some very refreshing and reassuring words:

The image of the Last Judgement is not primarily an image of terror, but an image of hope; for us it may even be the decisive image of hope. Is it not also a frightening image? I would say: it is an image that evokes responsibility, an image, therefore, of that fear of which Saint Hilary spoke when he said that all our fear has its place in love. God is justice and creates justice. This is our consolation and our hope. And in his justice there is also grace. This we know by turning our gaze to the crucified and risen Christ.

The Church’s message is clear: yes, there is an element of judgement which takes place in our final meeting with God. It is the judgement in which our decisions here on earth (for God or against Him) become definitive. That same God who doesn’t force you to love Him here on earth won’t force you to spend eternity with Him! And therefore in this life we have time to prepare. We have the luxury of examining our choices and seeing whether they bring us closer to God or drag us away from Him. This is the whole sense of our waiting. It is a privileged moment to prepare for our final encounter. We can choose whether the end of our lives is going to be a moment of terror or joy. Whether it is a moment of fear and condemnation, or a moment in which we enter a state of peace and happiness, safe in our Father’s embrace.