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My mind is on apples. Firstly because we are celebrating Harvest Festival on Sunday and Pembury’s harvest is all about local apples. Secondly because I have recently acquired a cider press which is soon to swing into action. So a post about apples to help us ponder a modern conundrum.

Too often these days well intentioned people state that they are “against discrimination!” I wonder what they can possibly mean? For who could really be against discrimination? If you doubt me take a look at the picture of apples accompanying this post. Then tell me you wouldn’t discriminate against the rotten apple if asked to select a snack…the point being that healthy discrimination is not just unavoidable but actually desirable. It doesn’t only apply to apples…

We must learn to discriminate between people too. When my children enter the adult world I want them to be discriminatory in choice of spouse. I would hope they turn away unsuitable suitors, not least the untrustworthy and corrupt. Surely every loving parent would  encourage such obvious discrimination? So again logic salutes  healthy discrimination.

We begin to see what intellectual garbage hides behind the double speak slogans of our day. Those that simply say ” say no to discrimination”. These soundbites exist to close discussion rather than facilitate and guide wise discernment. What we need then is to end the blanket statements and open up debate and use our brains So  that we learn the difference, as individuals and as a society, between healthy and unhealthy discrimination. Raising important questions about what should  inform our moral decisions.

Reason must come to the fore. Some cases are simple. You hardly need much reason to explain why it is wrong to discriminate due to skin colour. Racism is moronic. Melanin levels do not shape who we are or the choices we make. Disability is also fairly straight forward- though a little harder because you might need to discriminate if a job endangered somebody because of that disability. But wherever possible logic demands we help such people because they have such obvious intrinsic worth and much ability.

So logic inspired by virtue is what must inform attitudes.  But logic also teaches us that challenges arising due to race and disability are not the same thing.  An important distinction but one that seems to be missing in a world where “minorities” are often treated the same, with other issues thrown in for good measure. We are simply told to “be inclusive” of whatever is deemed in need of inclusion. Reason left at the door…just look at how so called “gay marriage” was forced on us with little debate and all in the name of ‘inclusion’.

Why is the slogan slinging world so determined to group together hugely diverse issues under one umbrella?  Suggesting our attitude or beliefs regarding racism must be identical to those regarding any in “a minority”. Again it is to close down debate. For most people are silenced if made to feel that an opposition to “same sex marriage” or abortion is somehow the same thing as racism.

So to my point.  I believe discrimination is more vital than ever in matters sexual. Were somebody offered marriage by a promiscuous person riddled with disease one should make a different choice than if presented with a chaste person believing in the sanctity of marriage. For unlike disability or skin colour -sexual behaviour is something we control to a degree. Our choices affecting the people we become, informing both spiritual and moral development.

Which is why it is grossly unfair when people balk at Christians who wish to make a distinction between inclination and behaviour. As an example why is it logically unreasonable for a bed and breakfast owner to offer single rooms in their home to two men and not a double bed?

Are the B& B owners bigots? They might be!  Only informed discussion would prove this. We might want to ask if the couple offer double beds to cohabiting heterosexuals? What about a swinging couple wanting the same room? There are points we can examine.  But what is not reasonable, but which is fast becoming the norm, is to simply shout discrimination and avoid a debate altogether.

This refusal for reasoned debate impacts on the life of the church. For many people, led by false understanding about “discrimination”. imagine there is some battle between those who would show love to gay people and those who would not. It is not true. What is actually bubbling away is a serious debate. What does it mean to love? More importantly it is about sex. What is it for? Can sex be divorced from its procreative function with moral neutrality or not? A question  also informing  the current debate on divorce and remarriage and communion.

Do you see why the modern world needs much  less political posturing and bullying. Less slogan slinging and more genuine discernment and thought. We need to stop lumping disconnected issues together and start judging each by its own merits. That is why I am praying fervently for the Synod on the family which I hope will bette explain Catholic teaching to a very confused Western culture.

But understand the tensions within the church are all the result of the sexual revolution. What sex is and what it is not. What it is for and what it is not for….and those who say they are fighting against “discrimination” are not being very honest or fair. Permissiveness regarding issues of sex is what they are actually calling for- not a place in church for those of a certain inclination who are already made welcome and form a vital part of Christ’s body on earth.

03Oct

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What is Why?

A ten session course covering the basics of the Catholic faith.

Where is Why?

Saint Anselm’s Catholic church in Pembury

When is Why?

Sessions run 9:45-10:45 on Saturday during term times-

from 1st November. Refreshments at 9:30am and Mass 9am.

How is Why?

There will be no demands made of anyone. Come to all ten sessions or just try one as a taster. You are free to turn up on the day or else book a place with Father Ed 01892 825009

Why is Why?

To help deepen people’s understanding of the Catholic faith. And to help prepare some adults for reception into the Catholic Church. Could you invite a friend to attend?

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Last week it emerged that the bishop of Brighton & Arandul is stepping down due to sexual scandal. It has fuelled much speculation across the blogosphere. Which, at worst, descended into people using the bad news to simply push their political agendas. The  traditional gossip suggesting his liberal theology was the reason for the fall, the liberal gossip claiming infidelity was hardly his fault due to the unreasonable demands of clerical celibacy. Yawn…

Both are wrong. A similar scandal in Scotland last year, regarding Cardinal Keith O’Brien, proved traditional bishops fall just as easily as their liberal counterparts. And the fact that most sexual affairs are conducted by married people puts the other crazy notion to bed. Sorry but there is only one reason these tragic cases occur and will inevitably happen again. Sin. We are all of us pathetic sinners quite capable of falling spectacularly from grace.

Thank God then for the crucifix at the centre of our faith. A sign of hope to the fallen – the means of our redemption. A reminder Christ instituted his church as a hospital for sinners  not a club for the perfect. Bishop, priest, religious or lay  – none of us can point a finger at others with much confidence- given that three fingers then point back at ourselves. We must be gracious, avoid gossip, and that delusional  sense of superiority that leads us to judge others harshly.

That isn’t to say we should not be scandalised. For on one level it is natural to feel dismay. The bible tells us to expect much of our bishops. But this sense of shock must not propel us into sin but bring us to our knees. For at the heart of this sorry tale we find real people in genuine need. A shattered family and a bishop who has lost his way with Jesus. What a mess. Compassion, love and understanding are needed in this is a tale of human breakdown and disfunction, and well outside the salacious glare of media gossip.

So it is not my intention to cast judgment on any person. My own sins are enough to ponder. I do however want to consider the bishop’s words– that statement made in defence. Because I worry his claim, that he was a “good bishop”, might lead to a shoddy understanding about what constitutes success for the Christian. Now had the bishop stated “I am often bad yet, by God’s grace, I was an able administrator” fine. But what is he trying to convey suggesting to the world that he was a “good?”  Who is good but God alone?

A more sensible line for the Christian leader is to say “take the faith I profess seriously but do not take me  seriously at all”.  Because clerical pedestals tell lies. What use the cult of the ego to the servant of Christ? I am not good. Like you a tedious, predictable and habitual sinner. A soul in regular need of formal confession. All I can really do therefore is point to one who is perfect. Jesus my Saviour. 

Understand the Christian life cannot be judged by worldly standard. What is good in the world means little on the journey of faith. Hence the greatest historical flop in seminary (St. John Vianney) would go onto become the most saintly of priests. The quality of our relationship with Jesus Christ is what matters. Honestly it is ALL that matters. An ability to raise funds, speak powerfully or dazzle the world – what are these skills compared with that? In the end its only Jesus, all for Jesus or not for Jesus at all.

A challenge which often leaves this sinful clergyman staring at his shoes… A prayer of Padre Pio:

Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have You present so that I do not forget You. You know how easily I abandon You. Stay with me, Lord, because I am weak and I need Your strength, that I may not fall so often.

Stay with me, Lord, for You are my life, and without You, I am without fervour. Stay with me, Lord, for You are my light, and without You, I am in darkness. Stay with me, Lord, to show me Your will.

Stay with me, Lord, so that I hear Your voice and follow You. Stay with me, Lord, for I desire to love You very much, and always be in Your company. Stay with me, Lord, if You wish me to be faithful to You. Stay with me, Lord, for as poor as my soul is, I wish it to be a place of consolation for You, a nest of Love.

Stay with me, Jesus, for it is getting late and the day is coming to a close, and life passes, death, judgement, eternity approaches. It is necessary to renew my strength, so that I will not stop along the way and for that, I need You. It is getting late and death approaches. I fear the darkness, the temptations, the dryness, the cross, the sorrows. O how I need You, my Jesus, in this night of exile!

Stay with me tonight, Jesus, in life with all its dangers, I need You. Let me recognise You as Your disciples did at the breaking of bread, so that the Eucharistic Communion be the light which disperses the darkness, the force which sustains me, the unique joy of my heart. Stay with me, Lord, because at the hour of my death, I want to remain united to You, if not by Communion, at least by grace and love.

Stay with me, Jesus, I do not ask for divine consolation, because I do not merit it, but, the gift of Your Presence, oh yes, I ask this of You! Stay with me, Lord, for it is You alone I look for. Your Love, Your Grace, Your Will, Your Heart, Your Spirit, because I love You and ask no other reward but to love You more and more.

With a firm love, I will love You with all my heart while on earth and continue to love You perfectly during all eternity.

Amen