Barron and CS Lewis

Faith Blog

Our Latest Blog Articles

  1. Bishop Barron Misses the Impact of Modern Science

    Most of the modern names who Barron claims are likely to be very surprised by the 'science undermining religion' claim .... in fact saw major challenges for the Church in the intellectual milieu, at least two explicitly focussing on the influential interpretations of science. 

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  2. Jeff Mirus illustrates the fulfillment of Holloway's 1950 prediction.

    Jeff Mirus illustrates the fulfillment of Holloway's 1950 prediction.
    Jeff Mirus writes here on modern murder mystery novels. He says “Unfortunately, I’ve run into a number of telling cultural trends in these stories which make it more difficult to relax and enjoy the solution to 'a good clean murder'". He well articulates the over represen...
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  3. Contextualising Brexit

    Contextualising Brexit
    On 23 June 2016 a referendum was held in which a narrow majority of voters in the United Kingdom (nearly 52%) voted in favour of leaving the European Union, the so-called “Brexit”. This contrasts with the large majority (67%) who had voted to join the then European Community in 1975. ...
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  4. A 1980 Post-mortem of a Rebirth

    A 1980 Post-mortem of a Rebirth
    Thirty odd years after this overview of twentieth century Catholic intellectual culture, the points of James Hitchcock seem even more relevant. Below are some extracts but the, significantly longer, full article repays study. [Post-mortem on a rebirth. The Catholic Intellectual Renaissance, from ...
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  5. 'Desire Trumping Ideas': A Too Simple Diagnosis

    'Desire Trumping Ideas': A Too Simple Diagnosis
    The great analyser of relativist culture, Jeff Mirus, seems to have downplayed a bit too much the role of the intellectual. In part of his insightful series on “gender” ideology he argues: (our comments in blue).Modern Western culture is weakened by a great vacuum of systematic though...
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  6. Refounding Human Dignity

    Refounding Human Dignity
    A Guardian editorial in May described the decline in numbers and influence of Christianity and affirms that Christianity gave us “the idea that people have some rights just because they are human, and entirely irrespective of merit, [it] certainly isn’t derived from observat...
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  7. Experimental Success contra Aristotelean Natures

    Experimental Success contra Aristotelean Natures
    Mgr Charles Pope recently turned his deft blogging hand to a subject close to our heart. Pulling up Roots from Reality – A Review of a Cogent Analysis of the Post-Cartesian West.Like Fr Edward Holloway and others he acknowledges that a key moment in the rise of relativism was René De...
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  8. The Benedict Centre and Public Life

    The Benedict Centre and Public Life
    On 6th May, the Catholic Herald published a news article by Dan Hitchens entitled:“St Mary’s University launches Benedict XVI Centre to ‘play a key role in public life’”The centre is a good fruit of Pope Benedict’s visit to Britain in 2010, when he ca...
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  9. The Rights Juggernaut and the Weakest of the Weak.

    The Rights Juggernaut and the Weakest of the Weak.
    Comments to blog@faith.org.uk (which will be moderated) or twitter to @faithmovukIt is always worth keeping in mind that it is the little ones who must first pay the price of the cultural rejection of ‘human nature’. An item in last Sunday’s “Sunday programme” illust...
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  10. Meeting the Modern Mindset.

    Meeting the Modern Mindset.
    Here’s a powerful three minutes showing where the denial of “the nature of things” has got us.This further illustrates the deep infiltration of the philosophical position of ‘swing vote’ Justice Kennedy, which we recently blogged about: "the constitution &hellip...
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  11. BBC allows Lemaitre to witness to harmony of Faith and Reason

    BBC allows Lemaitre to witness to harmony of Faith and Reason
    The BBC recently produced an excellent two-part programme concerning the beginning and end of the universe (available until 28th April). The presenter, Prof. Jim Al-Khalili, is a regular presenter of “The Life Scientific” on Radio 4 and has presented several television series on scien...
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  12. Tony Blair Moves Towards Pope Benedict

    Tony Blair Moves Towards Pope Benedict
    Comments to blog@faith.org.uk (which will be moderated) or twitter to @faithmovuk1. “Theology must become part of the solution if it is not to remain at the heart of the problem”. This is a key theme of Rabbi Sacks’ recent book “Not in God’s Name”  concern...
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  13. Which comes first in Kerygmatic Catechesis: Sin or Christ?

    Which comes first in Kerygmatic Catechesis: Sin or Christ?
    The indefatigably insightful Msgr Charles Pope has recently plotted a helpful way forward for kerygmatic catechesis. Yet his content starts with, “Part 1 (Sept. to Jan.) – Sin – ‘I once was lost in sin’”A Mr Miller puts an attractive alternative ...
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  14. 5 Similar Diagnoses of Marriage Redefinition

    5 Similar Diagnoses of Marriage Redefinition
    1. The US Supreme Court’s “swing vote” Justice Kennedy gives a clue to the philosophy sweeping through our culture (not least through his actual votes). He builds his moral judgments upon the absence of a concept of human nature.In a March 4th Catholic Herald article, “The...
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  15. Priestly loving: The BBC versus St John Paul II

    Priestly loving: The BBC versus St John Paul II
    In the November 2008 FAITH magazine Fr William Massie, reflects upon Edward Holloway’s pamphlet, “The Priest and His Loving”. A prophetic 1974 foundation of this pamphlet is in the current magazine. Fr Massie quoted this St John Paul II imperative to priests:be a witness to Chri...
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  16. Towards Diagnosis: Two more pieces on the pre-Vatican II era.

    Towards Diagnosis: Two more pieces on the pre-Vatican II era.
    In support of seeing a lack of appropriate theological development before the 1960s (see previous post) is a piece by Jeff Mirus. He concludes:“Too often Catholics prefer[ed] to condemn rather than to engage the rapidly secularizing society … When the culture shifted, their...
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  17. To What Degree Did The Pre-Vatican II Church ‘Cause’ The Decline Of It's Influence?

    To What Degree Did The Pre-Vatican II Church ‘Cause’ The Decline Of It's Influence?
    In an earlier blog post we flagged up a recent Catholic Herald piece showing the need for a diagnosis of how classical Christianity came to drop the reins of cultural influence. http://tinyurl.com/nrk454mThe Winter 2013 “Mass of Ages” provides another piece of evidence. The Latin Mass...
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  18. Mediating between the New Atheists and the new apologists

    Mediating between the New Atheists and the new apologists
    Comments to blog@faith.org.uk (which will be moderated) or twitter to @faithmovukProfessor Tom McLeish of Durham University recently made a common Christian reply to the New Atheist claim that science and faith are opposed. On Radio Ulster he affirmed that science “uses our capacity for fai...
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  19. The Magi: not just a story.

    The Magi: not just a story.
    Available for the next few weeks, BBC iPlayer has an interesting exploration of astronomical possibilities for the Star of Bethlehem (though beware a juvenile short section from The Life of Brian, and a lazy equivalence of pre-modern science astrology and “devout Christianity&rdqu...
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  20. Civil Law and the Homosexual Person

    Civil Law and the Homosexual Person
    Mark Lowery FAITH Magazine July-August 2002“You Can’t Legislate Morality?”Why can’t you just let us do what we want to do?” “How does this harm you?” “Don’t impose your morality on us!” “If you don’t like this,...
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  21. FAQ: Why is the Church so homophobic? If two people love each other, shouldn't they be allowed to get married, regardless of their sex?

    FAQ: Why is the Church so homophobic? If two people love each other, shouldn't they be allowed to get married, regardless of their sex?
    The Catholic Church promotes the dignity and welfare of every human individual regardless of whom they are sexually attracted to. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that those with homosexual tendencies must “be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity” (2358) and &...
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  22. Hard Questions - a new series of talks in London

    Hard Questions - a new series of talks in London
    "Hard Questions" is a new series of talks that will take place in Central London and is run by Faith Movement to which all are welcome. The talks will take place on selected Tuesdays at 7:30pm.God and Our Environment29 September 2015 Is man an ape or an angel? Fr Roger Nesbitt...
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  23. In Defence of Frequent Communion

    In Defence of Frequent Communion
    Check out the this Editorial addressing the issue of the reception of Holy Communion and the value of regularly receiving the body and blood of the Lord for the sanctification of the faithful. ...
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  24. Three excellent resources & two caveats

    Three excellent resources & two caveats
    Fr Barron’s “Catholicism”:  catholicism.wordonfire.org/Portsmouth Diocese's new Confirmation programme:  www.transformedinchrist.com/session1/Westminster Diocese’s brand new singing and dancing youth page, where the CTS has provided the “Catholicism&rdq...
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  25. The Need for Diagnosis

    The Need for Diagnosis
    Stephen Bullivant says in this recently published piece:“Just think at your next Easter Vigil, for every new person coming through the RCIA – over whom we are right to rejoice – 10 people have drifted so far away that they no longer tick the “Catholic” box on surveys...
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  26. ARCHIVE: Saint Philip Neri - A Guide to Chastity

    ARCHIVE: Saint Philip Neri - A Guide to Chastity
    Richard Whinder FAITH Magazine July-Aug 2007St Philip Neri, (1515-1595) founder of the Congregation of the Oratory, and often called the ‘Second Apostle of Rome’, has many titles attributed to him. Two of these – ‘Flower of Purity’ and ‘Gentle Guide of You...
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  27. In a hurry? More than you realise!

    In a hurry? More than you realise!
    It’s tempting to think the universe is rather static. So thanks to Msgr Charles Pope http://tiny.cc/8deiux for the following information:At the latitude of Washington D.C., the Earth is rotating at about 750 miles an hour. [401c.html">1]The rotating Earth is also revolving around the Sun at ...
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  28. Our Lady In The Teaching of Pope Benedict XVI

    Our Lady In The Teaching of Pope Benedict XVI
    Check out one of the new articles in the January - February edition of FAITH Magazine on Our Lady In The Teaching of Pope Benedict XVI. You can subscribe to FAITH Magazine here. ...
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  29. New Series Of Talks In Glasgow!

    New Series Of Talks In Glasgow!
    The Glasgow Faith Forum has just announced a new series of talks which will take place on Thursday evenings over the next few months. All talks are followed by questions, refreshments and Night Prayer and aimed at young people aged between 16 and 25. Get more information at the Glasgow Faith Foru...
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  30. New Year Series of London talks!

    New Year Series of London talks!
    The London Faith Forum is back with another series of talks which take place on alternate Tuesday evenings in January, February and March. The series, entitled The Church and Other Beliefs, features a host of good speakers addressing important questions concerning the nature of the Church and its...
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  31. Great Start to Faith Winter Session 2014!

    Great Start to Faith Winter Session 2014!
    Faith Winter Session 2014 began yesterday at Stonyhurst College, Lancashire with around 200 young Catholics from across the UK in attendance. Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury preached at Mass yesterday evening about St Thomas of Canterbury and how his yes to God should inspire young people to hav...
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  32. FAQ: Why did God wait for so long to come and help us?

    FAQ: Why did God wait for so long to come and help us?
    The time before God becoming man is the period in which He gradually comes closer to mankind, fostering the fullness of life, as well as healing from sin and its effects. The help of God has never been absent from human history, even from the time of humanity’s Fall. But it is true tha...
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  33. The Primacy of Christ in the Vision of Edward Holloway

    The Primacy of Christ in the Vision of Edward Holloway
    Fr. Michael John Galbraith. FAITH Magazine January-February 2006 The Unity of Truth In his Encyclical Fides et Ratio, Pope John Paul II reminded us that, “the unity of truth is a fundamental premise of human reasoning... Revelation renders this unity certain, showing tha...
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  34. FAQ: Why do Catholics have to go to Mass on Sunday? Why not Monday?

    FAQ: Why do Catholics have to go to Mass on Sunday? Why not Monday?
    In the Old Testament God commanded his people to keep holy the Sabbath. The Church, which is the new People of God, observes Sunday as the Sabbath in commemoration of the Resurrection of Christ which happened on a Sunday. We keep holy our Sabbath by attending Mass and in this way obeying Christ&r...
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  35. ARCHIVE: The Cardinal, the Pope & the Scientists

    ARCHIVE: The Cardinal, the Pope & the Scientists
    Editorial FAITH Magazine November-December 2005If they had the power to know so much that they could investigate the world, how did they fail to find sooner the Lord of these things? (Wisdom 13,9).Science And The Magisterium, A New ControversyHis Eminence Cardinal Schonborn managed to spark ...
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  36. ARCHIVE: Holiness is Fitting for your House, O Lord

    ARCHIVE: Holiness is Fitting for your House, O Lord
    Editorial FAITH Magazine September-October 2003“If anything constant remains in our days of recurring crisis, it is that the certainties have gone out of life, out of the life of the individual and out of the life of society.It is a heartbreaking realisation.The feeling of insecurity i...
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  37. FAQ: If disease & death are a result of Original Sin, then how come they affect organisms that cannot sin & predate the Fall?

    FAQ: If disease & death are a result of Original Sin, then how come they affect organisms that cannot sin & predate the Fall?
    Properly speaking, it is human suffering and death which are a result of the Fall, not disease and death in the purely material creation. Clearly, if God gave humans and animals the plants for food (Gen 1:29-30), then He envisaged that plants would die before the Fall. And presuming that we are n...
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  38. ARCHIVE: The Crusades - Seeking the Truth

    ARCHIVE: The Crusades - Seeking the Truth
    Nicholas Schofield FAITH Magazine May-June 2006The crusades capture the imagination – but over the years they have done so in many different ways. Here are three modern examples:When I was a boy, I spent many a happy hour with my toy soldiers. I was particularly keen on playing ‘...
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  39. FAQ: How can God be loving when Abraham is tricked into thinking God wants him to kill his only child?

    FAQ: How can God be loving when Abraham is tricked into thinking God wants him to kill his only child?
    We must understand that what we read in the book of Genesis comes from a religion and culture which is at its early stages of growing into a relationship with God. What Genesis recounts can be difficult and confusing for us who have the benefit of having heard the message of Christ communicated t...
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  40. ARCHIVE: How are we to assess Islam?

    ARCHIVE: How are we to assess Islam?
    Edouard Harmouche FAITH Magazine September-October 2003Catholicism is still the largest religious group in the world with over a billion adherents. After that come somewhere in the region of 900 million Muslims, who currently form the fastest growing religious group on the planet. This is re...
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  41. CURRENT MAGAZINE: The Gospel & Cultures

    CURRENT MAGAZINE: The Gospel & Cultures
    Michael Nazir Ali FAITH MAGAZINE September-October 2014The last few weeks I have been closely engaged with the people and scholars of two ancient cultures – that of Egypt and of Mughal India. This has raised afresh for me the question about the relationship of the Gospel to culture.In ...
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  42. FAQ: What does the Pope do?

    FAQ: What does the Pope do?
    The Pope maintains the public unity of the Church. This unity in belief and witness is essential if Jesus’ role of humanly forming and feeding us with Himself is to be continued.The Apostle Peter was the first to be given this role, as is shown in Holy Scripture. The Pope is his “Succ...
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  43. ARCHIVE: The Spirit moves over the waters: renewing our vision of the Sacraments

    ARCHIVE: The Spirit moves over the waters: renewing our vision of the Sacraments
    Editorial FAITH Magazine September-October 2007 Why Sacraments?  This editorial article takes more the character of a sustained theological meditation than a topical or controversial ‘op-ed’ piece. There is good precedent for this approach in the magnificent editorials ...
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  44. London Evening of Faith Success!

    London Evening of Faith Success!
    The first of our Evenings of Faith kicked off this week on Tuesday evening with a talk on Original Sin by Mary Gray. The event was well attended by University students and workers in the city of London gathering to listen, ask questions and interact with one another over a glass of wine and pizza...
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  45. FAQ: If something good happens after someone prays, and the same thing happens to one who doesn't pray for it - how can you prove that the prayer was answered?

    FAQ: If something good happens after someone prays, and the same thing happens to one who doesn't pray for it - how can you prove that the prayer was answered?
    God is free to bestow gifts on people even if they don’t ask for them! Does a parent only provide good things for their children if they specifically ask? Moreover, God, who alone sees all things and what is necessary, treats us as the unique individuals He created us to be; not a ‘on...
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  46. ARCHIVE: A Time for Listening to the Ordinary Magisterium

    ARCHIVE: A Time for Listening to the Ordinary Magisterium
    Editorial FAITH Magazine July-August 2003The Swiss priest Hans Kung ranks among the most famous theologians of our times, and it is interesting to note that Prime Minister Tony Blair has met with him on a number of occasions and says he has been influenced by his thought. However it should b...
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  47. Glasgow Faith Forum gears up for Spring Session

    Glasgow Faith Forum gears up for Spring Session
      GLASGOW FAITH FORUM 2016a series of talks for young people aged 16–25 HERALDS OF THE NEW EVANGELISATION    THE BAPTISMAL CALL TO EVANGELISE 21 JanuaryPriest, prophet and king Father Peter Damian Grint   EVANGELISATION THEN 4 February Procl...
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  48. Why was the Crucifixion necessary? Could not God have saved us in a way less cruel?

    Why was the Crucifixion necessary? Could not God have saved us in a way less cruel?
    God is not responsible for the brutality of the crucifixion. On the contrary, the crucifixion is the result of human sinfulness. This is because human wickedness has real consequences, and therefore our redemption (i.e. how God saves us from our sins) is not just about God “turning a blind ...
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  49. ARCHIVE: A Short History of Science & Christianity

    ARCHIVE: A Short History of Science & Christianity
    Peter E Hodgson FAITH Magazine November-December 2008It is becoming increasingly recognised, at least within the Church, that science has developed only in the context of a Christian civilisation, and has deep Christian roots.If we consider the great civilisations of the past such as those o...
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  50. FAQ: If God is All-Good, why do bad things happen?

    FAQ: If God is All-Good, why do bad things happen?
    God has created different sorts of things. In particular He has created matter, which is simply controlled by His laws of nature (the laws we attempt to discover in the natural sciences). He has also created spiritual beings, angels and human souls, which have free will; they are also govern...
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  51. What has Ethiopia to Teach us?

    What has Ethiopia to Teach us?
    Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali FAITH MAGAZINE July-August 2014The introduction of Christianity to Ethiopia is charted in the Acts of the Apostles. The contemporary story of this ancient Christian church, though, has much to teach us, says Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali.The St Frumentius Lectures in Addi...
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  52. FAQ: What does being Confirmed mean?

    FAQ: What does being Confirmed mean?
    We are made members of the Body of Christ through receiving three sacraments - Baptism, Confirmation,  which we receive only once, and the Holy Eucharist which is Christ Himself. Confirmation completes and strengthens ('confirms') the spiritual “character” and belonging t...
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  53. New edition of Faith Magazine online!

    New edition of Faith Magazine online!
    The New July-August edition of Faith Magazine is now online. ...
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  54. New series of talks in London!

    New series of talks in London!
    All are welcome to our Autumn series of talks Jesus Christ and Human Love.The talks are a great opportunity to deepen your faith and to connect with other Catholics.Talks will take place on alternate Tuesday evenings at 19:30 from 23rd September in the Crypt of Our Lady of Assumption Catholi...
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  55. Summer Session Roundup Video!

    Summer Session Roundup Video!
    The Faith Summer Session 2014 was as good as any in recent memory, set in the beautiful grounds of Woldingham School in Surrey. The theme was especially relevent given contemporary challenges to family life and the upcoming Synod on that subject.Here our very own David Edwards provides a quick su...
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  56. ARCHIVE: Confusion over the Meanings of Marriage

    ARCHIVE: Confusion over the Meanings of Marriage
    Editorial FAITH Magazine March-April 2006The "Ends" of Marriage: An Unresolved TeachingThe old Code of Canon Law (1917) stated that “the primary end of marriage is the procreation and education of offspring; the secondary end is mutual love and support, and the remedying of c...
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  57. New photos from Faith Summer Session!

    New photos from Faith Summer Session!
    See more photos in the new album on our Facebook page and please like us too!   ...
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  58. Summer Session Success!

    Summer Session Success!
    The Faith Summer Session 2014 has just come to a close. Young people from across the UK and beyond gathered to hear talks on the topic of The Family In God's Plan and the Modern World. The Summer Session combines time for presentations on the faith, daily Mass, prayer and the opportunity for ...
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  59. Summer Session 2014 Update

    Summer Session 2014 Update
    See our new video update from the Faith Summer Session 2014. Sr Andrea Frailie describes what has been going on at the conference so far which is addressing the theme of The Family in God's Plan and The Modern World. She speaks about the presentation she gave to the conference on th...
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  60. Summer Session 2014 begins!

    Summer Session 2014 begins!
    Faith Summer Session 2014 has begun at Woldingham School, Surrey. The Conference is for those aged 16-35 and is addressing the theme "The Family in God's Plan and in the Modern World". The first speaker of the conference was Dr Stephen Dingley, tutor of Theology at St John's Sem...
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  61. FAQ: What is Papal Infallibility?

    FAQ: What is Papal Infallibility?
    Papal Infallibility refers to the fact that the Pope is divinely preserved from teaching error in his formal teaching on faith and morals. It flows from the divinity of Christ in the Church. God is infallible, and He has irrevocably entered the human realm by becoming man. The Church is the conti...
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  62. Why Do We Sin?

    Why Do We Sin?
    Having spiritual souls means that we have free will. We are not bound to do what is good for us by instinct. This also means that we can refuse to do what is good. God did not make us this way as some sort of test, but because he wanted us to be in his own image and likeness. God is Love and love...
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  63. FAQ: Why does matter need a cause?

    FAQ: Why does matter need a cause?
    It is part of our everyday experience that material things need causes. If you discovered an elephant in your sitting room, you would immediately ask yourself how it got to be there. You would not think, “Oh well, maybe it’s just here for no reason: elephants often just turn up like t...
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  64. Why The Church?

    Why The Church?
    Why The Church? Come and see our video....
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  65. FAQ: What about the Crusades?

    FAQ: What about the Crusades?
    Jesus is ‘the Prince of Peace’ (Is. 9:6). As St John Paul II said, war always represents a defeat for humanity. Yet the Church is realistic about the presence of sin in the world, including amongst her own members, which produces conflict. Thus, while individual Catholics may adopt a ...
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  66. FAQ: What Scientific Evidence is there of God's Existence?

    FAQ: What Scientific Evidence is there of God's Existence?
    Science is concerned with the material universe and its ‘law-like’ behaviour. Catholic Christians believe that God created the universe and continues to hold it in being, i.e. without God's existence the universe cannot exist, so we should expect an interweaving harmony between sc...
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  67. ARCHIVE: The Truth About Same-Sex Marriage

    ARCHIVE: The Truth About Same-Sex Marriage
    William E May FAITH Magazine September-October 2004The Gay Case: Need For An Intelligent AnswerAdvocates of same-sex marriage commonly assert that its opponents are intolerant bigots unjustly denying a fundamental human right to individuals attracted to persons of the same sex. They maintain...
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  68. YES!!!

    YES!!!
    It's been a long overdue face-lift and lots of people have worked very hard with patience and caffeine so thanks to all you guys who have contributed to this project. Thanks to all the volunteers who've lent a hand in the run-up to going live. To all of you reading for the first time, giv...
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  69. Come and See!

    Come and See!
    Have you heard of us but don't know what we do? Maybe this is the first time you've encountered us. Take a look at our new promotional video and come and see us. Consider booking on one of our youth conferences or attending one of our forums. Connect with us on Facebook or Googl...
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  70. FAQ: What do nuns do?

    FAQ: What do nuns do?
    Before considering what nuns do, it’s more appropriate to reflect on what nuns are: regardless of the congregation or religious institute to which she belongs, making Christ present in the world is the nun’s primary mission. She does this by conforming herself entirely to the Person o...
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  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness

    Among some bleak translations and mistranslations of the Scriptures and the liturgy in the late 20th century, particularly poor was the use of "Happy are they . . . " in place of "Blessed . . . " for Christ’s glorious words in Matthew 5:3-11. "Happy" with its connotations of random good luck as in "perhaps" is no substitute for the beauty and beneficence of "Blessed"

    In these last weeks of this Year of Mercy, the Church canonises one of the great figures of the modern era, a light in the Church in a confused time. She studied in Ireland, became a geography teacher in British India, and then answered a fresh call to work with the poorest of the poor. It was a BBC television feature presented by Malcolm Muggeridge that first brought Albanian-born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, to the attention of millions, although among Catholics she was already known. In September she will be given the formal title of Saint – but will probably always be known by the title through which she became famous: Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

    Saints are those who "hunger and thirst after righteousness". We have heard much of the Beatitudes in this Year of Mercy. Too often they are presented in a rather sentimental way as a list of "positives" as against the "negatives" of the Ten Commandments. This is a popular theme for those who seek to emphasise that "the Church isn’t really so strict after all" and contrast the "Thou shalt not" of the Decalogue with a let’s-try-to-be-nice set of alternatives. But the Beatitudes do not really work that way. Rather, they are a portrayal of Christ, and a call to follow him. The God who spoke to us on Sinai with the Commandments then walked this earth: the Beatitudes describe him and are his call to us.

    Righteousness has a rather dreary sound to modern ears, because it somehow makes us think of self-righteousness, the smug twitch of the mantilla, the faint air of moral superiority. But to hunger and thirst after righteousness is a great thing, a noble thing. The Jewish people erected a memorial in Israel to those "righteous among the nations" who, at risk of their own lives, helped Jewish people to escape the Holocaust. Such righteousness is not easy, nor, in the final analysis, optional: we are called on to do what good we can, or at least to strive to do so.

    Often, in a standard biography of a saint, we read "after overcoming many difficulties and problems, he/she . . . ". The idea is so familiar that we tend to gloss over it, especially when we are young (middle age usually brings its own recognition of life’s hassles).

    Fr Damien in Molokai had to struggle with bureaucratic difficulties, muddles, misunderstandings. It wasn’t just the horrors of Hansen’s Disease, it was the loneliness, the people at the missionary HQ who didn’t fully understand, the tensions with the Hawaian administration authorities…

    Mother Mary McKillop founded schools for settler families in 19th century Australia and New Zealand . . . it wasn’t just the heat and hardships in rural New South Wales, it was problems with the Bishop, muddles over funding, complications about the status of her Order . . .

    The writer of this Editorial can now claim to have met two real-life saints: St Teresa of Calcutta and St John Paul the Great, and to have mementoes of each. From Mother Teresa, a small tin Miraculous Medal, thin when first given and now worn thinner. From St John Paul: a signature on a new Bible held forward to him by the Editor’s spouse (against the finger-wagging of a monsignor who, quite rightly, objected to a Pope suddenly being urged to sign something without prior knowledge), cherished and kept in the office where FAITH editorials are written,

    Mother Teresa’s work for the poor gained her acclaim, but it was actually living in personal poverty that made her convincing: the much-mended habit, the bleak living conditions, the absence of the small luxuries that make life in a stifling hot traffic-ridden city more endurable. Against fashionable opinion, she opposed contraception and abortion, and called for family prayers, and more reverence on receiving Communion, and when she spoke on these things it ensured that any praise for her work was matched by criticism and ridicule from those who opposed her.

    St John Paul - whose feast we mark in October - was a much-televised figure and drew vast crowds on world pilgrimages. But his greatest achievements were against tough odds: the

    Catechism of the Catholic Church succeeded through the heroic work of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and against the advice of many Bishops; World Youth Day flourished in the face of opposition from official diocesan youth-work bureaucacies. When he went to Fatima to give thanks for surviving the attempt on his life by an assassin, he was met by cheering crowds, but also by a stabbing from a Lefevbrist priest. When he opposed contraception and abortion he was denounced as a Polish bigot by most of the Western media.

    Blessed are the meek . . . John Paul bent his will to the need to be courteous in the face of Communist antagonism. There was a vicious official campaign against the Polish Bishops in the 1960s when they initiated a letter to the German episcopate offering a message of healing and mutual forgiveness. There were deliberate bureaucratic delays and difficulties from the Communist government over the building of a church at Nowa Huta. All this was met with calm courage and a refusal to be roused to public anger or ranting. Blessed are the pure in heart . . St John Paul lived and taught the manly way of Christian love, presenting a whole fresh new approach to it in the "theology of the body", showing how our understanding of what it is to be male or female, makes sense in the fruitful love of matrimony.

    It is the saints who live the Beatitudes. And saints can transform our world, or even just a small bit of it, so that a corner of Calcutta becomes a place where there is mercy, and purity of heart, and justice . . . or a Communist empire falls because of meekness and mercy and hungering and thirsting after righteousness.

    We are often told – and FAITH magazine has played its own part in telling – about the problems of the modern Church. We have lived through confusing times, and they are not over yet: Mass attendance figures in Britain have been plunging for decades, along with figures for ordinations and for Catholic marriages. There has been no lack of comment on all of this – pamphlets and newsletters and then blogs and tweets and more – and no lack of meetings and protests and conferences and projects. And not all of this campaigning is without value. But during these decades, the Church was also producing saints, and they have been renewing the Church. That’s the way that God works.

    It would be rather pompous to claim that the FAITH Movement is hungering and thirsting for righteousness but . . . well…that should at least be the aim. There will be plenty to ensure difficulties for us in the years ahead. We teach that marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman, establishing a new family – announcing that as a public official could bring formal penalties, and there may be members of FAITH who face that at some stage. We teach a synthesis of science and faith – and there will be plenty of opposition to that from militant atheists, possibly with attempts to prevent Catholics teaching it in schools and colleges. We announce, unequivocally, the fullness of truth as set out in the

    Catechism of the Catholic Church – including the unfashionable words on sexual morality – that could make us unpopular with officialdom. Already there are concerns that materials promoting authentic marriage and its lifelong faithfulness may be banned from schools as they conflict with the somewhat oddly named "British values" announced by public bodies.

    God sends us saints to show us how to live the Beatitudes with courage, examples for us to follow. The "Come, follow me" of Christ is echoed by the "Blessed are they . . . " to show us the way. Not always a particularly comfortable way, although often a surprisingly joyful one: Gonxha Bojaxhiu and Karol Wojtyla were both often seen smiling, laughing, and joyful.

    Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness . . .