Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Warm Christmas - Down Under

For Kiwis, we have warm Christmases. We are heading into summer while the northern hemis see snow and freezing temperatures.

We still have Catholic celebrations but our decorations look a little different. A standout is our New Zealand Christmas bush my wife's favorite. I have to admit it's a stunner. We have a bit of a lie in on Christmas Day after going to Midnight Mass. Then we are up and tending animals and preparations to have Christmas lunch on the barbie in the backyard where I do a smoked ham and veg. We have to have our mince pies and puddings too that my wife and daughters have made in the days before. A lot of Kiwis go to the beach for their Christmas lunch of sausages and burgers but we stick to the back yard.

Boxing Day on December 26 and sometimes a few days more is a shopper's holiday of sales with some very good discounts. This is the day we take to resupply our necessities. Things like socks, shoes, linens and some farm items can be had for a steep cost reduction. We give the electronics a miss because we do not use them.

We pray for a peaceful Christmas that is holy and full of family love and fun for all. God bless you all.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Holiness for Housewives And Other Working Women

One book that is recommended time and again for Plain Catholic women is Holiness for Housewives and Other Working Women by Dom Hubert van Zeller. This is not a dated "housewives guide for better housekeeping". This is a small book loaded down with timeless common sense, wisdom and helpful spiritual advice for maintaining meaning and the presence of God in the most tedious of work each day.

Van Zeller writes with a gentle sense of humor, perspicacity, and brevity: in other words he gets to the point with clarity and without long-winded metaphors. It's one of those books that can be read repeatedly with fresh insight each time. Christmas is coming up and I recommend this book as a gift. It will be welcomed especially for the upcoming Lenten reading. Sophia Institute Press has it in print for a reasonable price. Here is the link to this wonderful little gem.
Holiness for Housewives and Other Working Women by Dom Hubert van Zeller

We've been busy with spring planting and the calving of our Scottish Highlands here in New Zealand so we haven't posted much. That's right, our seasons are upside down to the northern hemis. We wish a huge G'Day to all Plain Catholics the world over and may everyone have a blessed and peaceful Christmas Holy Season.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Cult of Celebrity

This is a phrase that's making the rounds these days. People chase after celebrities to somehow have a claim to fame themselves. You can even find this in Catholic circles. Catholics that rush to be a follower of this alleged holy person or to be the first to recognize a "new movement". The Plain Catholics have encountered a few people like this. We try to encourage them to put God first and develop a personal relationship with God in order to be better Catholic disciples of Jesus.

It is not hard to deepen your relationship with God. Pray. Read the Bible. Go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Go to Mass. Do these things regularly.

Pray many times a day and not just when you want something. Praising and thanking God is prayer too.

Read the Bible and reflect on how the reading impacts your life for 20 minutes every day and really pay attention to it.

Go to Reconciliation at least once a month but it's better if you go once a week. If you have a besetting sin that repeats or an addiction, more than once a week may be necessary.

Go to Mass every day if you can. It's a Catholic's "Power Source".

Focus on God and you won't need 30 seconds of fame to feel better about yourself.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Is the Noise of the World Making Us Deaf to God?

That's a really good question. Even on our Plain Catholic farms without telly, we hear about the political din from politicians cursing, shouting and trying to serve themselves instead of constituents. They want to make people angry to be re-elected. They want to be the center of attention.

It's everywhere. Every time we go into town there's telly in stores and doctor's offices, airports and bus stations vying for our attention.

Then there's the incessant noise from purveyors constantly trying to sell us something. Even in our parishes there's a great deal of noise instead of quiet worship and Adoration.

Cardinal Sarah wrote an excellent book called The Power of Silence. He speaks of the damage to our souls and discipleship from the "dictatorship of noise". For the sake of sanity in an insanely noisy world, read it. Please.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Pope Francis tells parents to stop competing with their teenage children instead of educating them.

I've seen it. You've seen it. Parents trying to be "cool" and their teens' best friends. As parents we're given the responsibility of teaching our children, not chumming around with them. Morality and good judgement come from the example of parents.

We do have the right to steer our children away from dangerous relationships and acquaintances.
We do have the right to monitor how they spend their time and with whom they spend it.

We can't be afraid to say no to bad influences and dangerous situations. The number of missing children, murdered children, and abused children should be a klaxon warning to us all. Parents please be adults instead of wannabe teens.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday of the Lord's Passion

Gospel   John 18:1—19:42

Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley 
to where there was a garden, 
into which he and his disciples entered.
Judas his betrayer also knew the place, 
because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.
So Judas got a band of soldiers and guards 
from the chief priests and the Pharisees 
and went there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.
Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him, 
went out and said to them, "Whom are you looking for?"
They answered him, "Jesus the Nazorean."
He said to them, "I AM."
Judas his betrayer was also with them.
When he said to them, "I AM, " 
they turned away and fell to the ground.
So he again asked them,
"Whom are you looking for?"
They said, "Jesus the Nazorean."
Jesus answered,
"I told you that I AM.
So if you are looking for me, let these men go."
This was to fulfill what he had said, 
"I have not lost any of those you gave me."
Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, 
struck the high priest's slave, and cut off his right ear.
The slave's name was Malchus.
Jesus said to Peter,
"Put your sword into its scabbard.
Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?"

So the band of soldiers, the tribune, and the Jewish guards seized Jesus,
bound him, and brought him to Annas first.
He was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, 
who was high priest that year.
It was Caiaphas who had counseled the Jews 
that it was better that one man should die rather than the people.

Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus.
Now the other disciple was known to the high priest, 
and he entered the courtyard of the high priest with Jesus.
But Peter stood at the gate outside.
So the other disciple, the acquaintance of the high priest, 
went out and spoke to the gatekeeper and brought Peter in.
Then the maid who was the gatekeeper said to Peter, 
"You are not one of this man's disciples, are you?"
He said, "I am not."
Now the slaves and the guards were standing around a charcoal fire
that they had made, because it was cold,
and were warming themselves.
Peter was also standing there keeping warm.

The high priest questioned Jesus 
about his disciples and about his doctrine.
Jesus answered him,
"I have spoken publicly to the world.
I have always taught in a synagogue 
or in the temple area where all the Jews gather, 
and in secret I have said nothing. Why ask me?
Ask those who heard me what I said to them.
They know what I said."
When he had said this, 
one of the temple guards standing there struck Jesus and said, 
"Is this the way you answer the high priest?"
Jesus answered him,
"If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong; 
but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?"
Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Now Simon Peter was standing there keeping warm.
And they said to him,
"You are not one of his disciples, are you?"
He denied it and said,
"I am not."
One of the slaves of the high priest, 
a relative of the one whose ear Peter had cut off, said, 
"Didn't I see you in the garden with him?"
Again Peter denied it.
And immediately the cock crowed.

Then they brought Jesus from Caiaphas to the praetorium.
It was morning.
And they themselves did not enter the praetorium, 
in order not to be defiled so that they could eat the Passover.
So Pilate came out to them and said, 
"What charge do you bring against this man?"
They answered and said to him,
"If he were not a criminal, 
we would not have handed him over to you."
At this, Pilate said to them, 
"Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law."
The Jews answered him, 
"We do not have the right to execute anyone, " 
in order that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled
that he said indicating the kind of death he would die.
So Pilate went back into the praetorium 
and summoned Jesus and said to him, 
"Are you the King of the Jews?"
Jesus answered,
"Do you say this on your own 
or have others told you about me?"
Pilate answered,
"I am not a Jew, am I?
Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me.
What have you done?"
Jesus answered,
"My kingdom does not belong to this world.
If my kingdom did belong to this world, 
my attendants would be fighting 
to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.
But as it is, my kingdom is not here."
So Pilate said to him,
"Then you are a king?"
Jesus answered,
"You say I am a king.
For this I was born and for this I came into the world, 
to testify to the truth.
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."
Pilate said to him, "What is truth?"

When he had said this,
he again went out to the Jews and said to them,
"I find no guilt in him.
But you have a custom that I release one prisoner to you at Passover.
Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?"
They cried out again,
"Not this one but Barabbas!"
Now Barabbas was a revolutionary.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged.
And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head, 
and clothed him in a purple cloak, 
and they came to him and said,
"Hail, King of the Jews!"
And they struck him repeatedly.
Once more Pilate went out and said to them, 
"Look, I am bringing him out to you, 
so that you may know that I find no guilt in him."
So Jesus came out, 
wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak.
And he said to them, "Behold, the man!"
When the chief priests and the guards saw him they cried out, 
"Crucify him, crucify him!"
Pilate said to them,
"Take him yourselves and crucify him.
I find no guilt in him."
The Jews answered, 
"We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die, 
because he made himself the Son of God."
Now when Pilate heard this statement,
he became even more afraid, 
and went back into the praetorium and said to Jesus, 
"Where are you from?"
Jesus did not answer him.
So Pilate said to him,
"Do you not speak to me?
Do you not know that I have power to release you 
and I have power to crucify you?"
Jesus answered him,
"You would have no power over me 
if it had not been given to you from above.
For this reason the one who handed me over to you
has the greater sin."
Consequently, Pilate tried to release him; but the Jews cried out, 
"If you release him, you are not a Friend of Caesar.
Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar."

When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus out 
and seated him on the judge's bench 
in the place called Stone Pavement, in Hebrew, Gabbatha.
It was preparation day for Passover, and it was about noon.
And he said to the Jews,
"Behold, your king!"
They cried out,
"Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!"
Pilate said to them,
"Shall I crucify your king?"
The chief priests answered,
"We have no king but Caesar."
Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus, and, carrying the cross himself, 
he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, 
in Hebrew, Golgotha.
There they crucified him, and with him two others, 
one on either side, with Jesus in the middle.
Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross.
It read,
"Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews."
Now many of the Jews read this inscription, 
because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; 
and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek.
So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, 
"Do not write 'The King of the Jews,'
but that he said, 'I am the King of the Jews'."
Pilate answered,
"What I have written, I have written."

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, 
they took his clothes and divided them into four shares, 
a share for each soldier.
They also took his tunic, but the tunic was seamless, 
woven in one piece from the top down.
So they said to one another, 
"Let's not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be, " 
in order that the passage of Scripture might be fulfilled that says:
They divided my garments among them,
and for my vesture they cast lots.

This is what the soldiers did.
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary of Magdala.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved
he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son."
Then he said to the disciple,
"Behold, your mother."
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

After this, aware that everything was now finished, 
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, 
Jesus said, "I thirst."
There was a vessel filled with common wine.
So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop 
and put it up to his mouth.
When Jesus had taken the wine, he said,
"It is finished."
And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

Now since it was preparation day,
in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath,
for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one, 
the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken 
and that they be taken down.
So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first 
and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus.
But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, 
they did not break his legs, 
but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, 
and immediately blood and water flowed out.
An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; 
he knows that he is speaking the truth, 
so that you also may come to believe.
For this happened so that the Scripture passage might be fulfilled:
Not a bone of it will be broken.
And again another passage says:
They will look upon him whom they have pierced.

After this, Joseph of Arimathea, 
secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews, 
asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus.
And Pilate permitted it.
So he came and took his body.
Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night, 
also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes 
weighing about one hundred pounds.
They took the body of Jesus 
and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices, 
according to the Jewish burial custom.
Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, 
and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried.
So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day; 
for the tomb was close by.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

A new season

In New Zealand we're getting into Autumn. We're beginning to see some leaves changing and our 3 Highland cattle are into their shaggies already. It's time we get out our fleece jackets too because it's 15ยบ (that's C not F for all our Fahrenheit friends).

We're studying Ephesians in a small bible study group at our parish. It's amazing how the problems of those first Christians sound so much like our own today. Some things never change.

A big hug and prayers for all our Plain Catholic brothers and sisters and all our friends.

Matthew 5:16 So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

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