Fit for Mission III

The Role of Parents in God’s Plan of Salvation

It is a fundamental principle of Catholic education that parents, as co-creators with God of the life of their child, are the primary educators of their children (CCC 2223). Parents have an ‘irreplaceable and inalienable’ role in education because of the uniqueness of the loving relationship between parents and children.

The family is the school of love, where each person learns to love and be loved. It is only through knowing that we are loved, and that we are lovable, that we can fully become the person God intends us to be. Love is the necessary requirement for the true fulfilment of all our fundamental needs as human beings – intellectual, physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and eschatological.

Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue of Lancaster Fit for Mission?

'Living wills'

The Lord Chancellor has warned doctors they risk going on trial for assault if they refuse to allow patients who have made ‘living wills’ to die. Lord Falconer set out the determination of the Government to use draconian penalties to enforce living wills in a guide to Labour’s Mental Capacity Act for doctors, nurses and social workers. The law, which comes into operation next spring, gives full legal force to living wills, or advance decisions, in which patients say, sometimes years in advance, how they wish to be treated if they become incapacitated and lose the ability to speak for themselves. In a living will a patient can demand that life-preserving treatment be withdrawn if they become too ill to communicate or feed themselves.

The guidelines issued by Lord Falconer – with the backing of Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt – say that doctors may declare themselves conscientious objectors if they have religious or moral objections to carrying out the instructions of a living will. But in that case a doctor must pass his or her patient over to another doctor who will follow the instructions to allow the patient to die.

The warning over damages claims raises the prospect that family or friends of a patient who have a financial interest in their death could sue a doctor who fails to kill them. It also opens the bizarre possibility that a patient who recovers could sue a doctor for not letting them die.

Surgeon Dr Peter Saunders, head of the Christian Medical Fellowship, said: ‘Clinical circumstances exist where it is entirely appropriate to withhold food and fluids: for example in a dying patient when their delivery proves both burdensome and ineffective for the patient. ‘But we are concerned that patients will make unwise and hasty advance refusals of food and fluids without being properly informed about the diagnosis. It is too easy for patients to be driven by fears of meddlesome treatment and “being kept alive”, into making advance refusals that later might be used against them.’ He added: ‘Commonly patients change their minds about what care they would like, as their condition changes. ‘This law does not allow real conscientious objection. A doctor who believes it would be clinically wrong to withdraw food and fluids must pass their patient over to another doctor who will do so. That makes them complicit in the death.’

Philosophy Professor David Conway of the Civitas think tank said: ‘This is opening a terrible can of worms and it threatens to cause havoc. ‘The best option would be for a doctor to find out if patients have made living wills and refuse to treat those who have.’

Academic lawyer Dr Jacqueline Laing of London Metropolitan University said: ‘Many people will have filled in advance decision forms in ignorance of their lethal implications and of alternative courses of action. ‘The Act inverts good medical practice by criminalizing medical staff who intervene to save the lives of their patients with simple cures and, in certain cases, even food and fluids. Any conscientious opt-out is nullified by the threat of prosecution.’ She added: ‘The lethal direction of the Act and the cost-saving implications for the NHS should be obvious.’

Doctors face prison for denying the right to die

Healing the wounded world

Here then, beloved seminarians, is the world which you will be sent forth to serve. In the mind of secular man, there is no God, or even if He does exist, it does not matter. This is clearly the condition of a grave disease. WWhat is the medicinehat are the models of healthful words that you will supply to spiritually sick people? leading to truth that you have been given to offer?

Let me at the final part of my presentation briefly outline the nature of our Orthodox Christian response to the sickness of our contemporary world. First, we must maintain our Churchâ??s position as being a witness to the Truth. The absolute Truth revealed by Christ, the incarnate God. . In our post-modern world, the word â??truthâ?? as something absolute is believed not to exist! But the reality is that if there is one God, there can be but one truth.

The truth to which we give testimony is not first of all a philosophical system. Truth is an experience of the living person of Jesus Christ, Who declared â??I am the Truthâ?? (St. John 14:6), and Who prayed that His disciples â??be consecrated in truthâ?? (St. John 17:19). Truth is tasted and seen in a life that has been transformed by the touch of the unseen hand of the Great Physician of souls and bodies, our Risen Lord. Without the blessing of this transformation that comes through genuine repentance and is perfected by the grace of God, no priest or bishop is empowered to witness to the Truth. Witnessing to the truth of Christ, establishing its absolute character, constitutes a very effective and salvific medicine or antidote to the falsehood of contemporary life and the deplorable relativization of truth in a secularized world.

Secondly, we offer the true worship of God to a thirsty humanity. and we offer it through the magnificent variety of worship services provided by our Orthodox Church, in joyful accordance with what the Lord commanded: â??God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truthâ?? (St. John 4:24). If the sickness of the world is a distancing from God, the cure is a return to Him, falling down in worship of Him. Genuine worship is the chemotherapy for the cancer of secularization and existential alienation. In our Orthodox worship, we rejoice as servants before their Lord, receiving with gratitude His divine love and all its gifts. And we are eager to share the treasures of Orthodox Christian prayer and chant with all peoples, so that all may rejoice in the radiance of the presence of the Risen Christ through the experience of the Divine Liturgy.
Thirdly, we offer the true life of God in a life of love that is like the love of the heavenly Father: unlimited, unconditional, and without discrimination. Without love, without a genuine, personal, and tender concern for our neighbors, our preaching will be in vain. Actions speak louder than words, we say in America. For this reason, Saint Paul enjoins Timothy: â??Follow the model of healthy words, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.â?? Philanthropy is at the heart of the Christian message. You cannot be an effective witness to the Truth; you cannot be an effective healer of the suffering soul, unless you personally radiate love from a heart that is full of love received from the Lord. â??We love because He first loved usâ?? says Saint John the Evangelist (1 John 4:19). Aside from that divine and self-sacrificial love, no true expression of love is possible.

Finally, what we offer as medicine for the world is not simply a model of words about Christ, but a model of words and life and faith that make Christ present in every place we go. In this way we offer the total Christ, the genuine Christ.

Archbishop Demetrios (Traketellis), primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Address to seminarians in Moscow
with thanks to Matthew Baker

Romanus the Melodist

Romanus the Melodist is one of these, poet, theologian and composer. He learned the foundations of Greek and Syrian culture in his native city, and then moved to Beritus (now Beirut), to complete his classical education and knowledge of rhetoric. After being ordained permanent deacon — around 515 — he was a preacher in this city for three years. He then moved to Constantinople, until the end of the reign of Anastasius I – around 518 – and from there he settled in at the monastery of the Church of the Theotokos, Mother of God.

A key moment of his life took place there: the Synaxar tells us that Mary appeared to him in his dreams and gave him the gift of poetic charism. Mary, in fact, asked him to swallow a scroll. Upon waking the next day, it was Christmas, Romanus began to recite from the pulpit: “Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent” (Hymn On the Nativity, I. Proemium). He became in this way a preacher-cantor until his death (around 555).

Romanus is known in history as one of the most representative authors of liturgical hymns. At the time the homily was for the faithful practically the only opportunity of catechesis. Thus Romanus was not only an eminent witness of the religious sentiment of his day, but also of a lively and original method of catechesis. Through his compositions we can see the creativity of this form of catechesis, of the creativity of the theological thought, of the aesthetic and the sacred hymnography of the era.

The place where Romanus preached was a shrine on the outskirts of Constantinople: he would ascend the pulpit, located in the center of the Church, and he would speak to the community using a rather elaborate setting — he used images on the walls or icons on the pulpit to illustrate his homilies, and even used dialogue. He recited chanted metrical hymns, called kontakia.

Benedict on Romanus the Melodist

The Body of Christ

Today the marching season begins. It is Corpus Christi, so let’s see that Body.

I am off to All Saints St Margaret Street for 6.30pm High Mass and outdoor Procession of the Blessed Sacrament. St Mary the Virgin Bourne Street has its procession on Sunday.

St Patrick’s Soho has an International Mass with all the different chaplaincies of the Parish at 6pm followed by the Procession with the Blessed Sacrament through the streets with Benediction at St Giles’ at 7pm.

Joanna Bogle tells us about this most awesome experience.

Pange, lingua, gloriosi
Corporis mysterium

Sing, my tongue, the Savior’s glory,
of His flesh the mystery sing;
of the Blood, all price exceeding,
shed by our immortal King,
destined, for the world’s redemption,
from a noble womb to spring.

Churches fail to mobilise public opinion

Some 18 different groups â?? mostly of Catholic and evangelical inspiration, mostly small outfits â?? have united to oppose the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill in a campaign called Passion for Life. But it has failed to make much impact in the media. The pro-abortion and pro-embryo research lobbies are far more powerful, far better organized, and use sophisticated, well-funded PR techniques to get their message across.

But the pro-Life movement also has to ask itself where it is going wrong. More than 50 percent of people oppose the creation of hybrids, two-thirds of the population want there to be fewer abortions, and there is deep unease about â??saviour siblingsâ??. Fewer than 10 percent of the British population go to church, so this is not, despite appearances, a disagreement between religious people and secularists â?? despite these being the voices most often heard in the debate. Yet the pro-Life movement is seen as an essentially religious lobby, for whom embryos have souls and for whom abortion is above all about sin. The fact that the pro-Life movement has been unable to capitalize on the widespread unease at the further erosion of respect for human life should cause it to reflect not just on its aims and strategies, but on its inability to connect with wider public opinion.

Austen Ivereigh Emancipate the Embryo

Passion for Life – MPs vote ‘Yes’ to animal/human mixed embryos, ‘Yes’ to Saviour (or spare part) siblings, ‘Yes’ to end of Fatherhood and ‘No’ to tighter abortion laws

Think-tanks to challenge the universities

What Britain needs is US-style think-tanks whose size enables them to do what the far more modest British think-tanks cannot do and for which there is a crying need — to challenge the intellectual stranglehold of the universities. Indeed, we need to go much further than that. At the heart of Britain’s spiral of intellectual, moral, social and political disintegration (yes, I am indeed understating the case) lies the intellectual hegemony of the left, enforced through bullying, intimidation, character assassination and the whole bag of tricks used to stifle an open society.
The result is a public discourse from which truth, evidence and rationality have been exiled, a society where normative values have been replaced by the transgressive or alien, and a national culture which is losing the will to live. In America, these pressures certainly exist, particularly in the academy and its outriders in the media; but at least there a culture war is in progress with the fightback being conducted by the big think-tanks, publications like the Weekly Standard, City Journal or Commentary, talk radio and Fox News, and the evangelical churches. In Britain, the absence of any such alternative discourse means there has been no culture war here but a culture rout.

Melanie Phillips

Goodbye Mum and Dad

Around the world, the two-person, mother-father model of parenthood is being fundamentally challenged.

In Canada, with virtually no debate, the controversial law that brought about samesex marriage quietly included the provision to erase the term â??natural parentâ?? across the board in federal law, replacing it with the term â??legal parent.â?? With that law, the locus of power in defining who a childâ??s parents are shifts precipitously from civil society to the state, with the consequences as yet unknown. In Spain, after the recent legalization of same-sex marriage the legislature changed the birth certificates for all children in that nation to read â??Progenitor Aâ?? and â??Progenitor Bâ?? instead of â??motherâ?? and â??father.â?? With that change, the words â??motherâ?? and â??fatherâ?? were struck from the first document issued to every newborn by the state. Similar proposals have been made in other jurisdictions that have legalized
same-sex marriage.

In New Zealand and Australia, influential law commissions have proposed allowing children conceived with use of sperm or egg donors to have three legal parents. Yet neither group addresses the real possibility that a childâ??s three legal parents could break up and feud over the childâ??s best interests.

In the United States, courts often must determine who the legal parents are among the many adults who might be involved in planning, conceiving, birthing, and raising a child. In a growing practice, judges in several states have seized upon the idea of â??psychologicalâ?? parenthood to award legal parent status to adults who are not related to children by blood, adoption, or marriage. At times they have done so even over the objection of the childâ??s biological parent. Also, successes in the same-sex marriage debate have encouraged group marriage advocates who wish to break open the two-person understanding of marriage and parenthood. Meanwhile, scientists around the world are experimenting with the DNA in eggs and sperm in nearly unimaginable ways, raising the specter of children born with one or three genetic parents, or two same-sex parents.

Nearly all of these steps, and many more , are being taken in the name of adult rights to form families they choose. But what about the children?

Institute for Marriage and Public Policy The Revolution in Parenthood: The Emerging Global Clash Between Adult Rights and Childrenâ??s Needs

Abortion the largest single cause of death in Europe

Marriage and birth rates are falling dramatically, pensioners now outnumber teenagers, and more and more people are living alone, says the Institute for family policy in a survey of life in the 27 EU countries.

The report, â??The evolution of the family in Europe in 2008â??, was debated in parliament on Wednesday and describes the European birth rate as â??criticalâ??.

Urging national governments to set up a ministry for the family, it says, â??Europe is now an elderly continent. Almost one in every five pregnancies ends in abortion. The marriage rate fell by 24 per cent between 1980 and 2006. Two out of three households have no children, and nearly 28 per cent of households contain only one person.â??

It says the average marriage lasts about 13 years and the number of abortions in the EU every year is put at 1.2 million – equivalent to the population of Slovenia. That makes abortion the largest single cause of death in Europe.

It warns: â??Europe is undergoing a demographic winter, and now, Europe is an elderly continent.â??


The image of the eschaton

This is why the Church must safeguard the eucharist from new introductions. I remember in one of my first visits to Mount Athos I heard a psalm of lament being sung during holy communion. I expressed my surprise to the Prior of the monastery, and when he looked into it they found that this order had been introduced in the nineteenth century. As soon as they realised this, they took it out again and restored the original order. You simply cannot sing ‘my soul is ailing from many sins’ during the most joyous and majestic eschatological moment of holy communion. We must sing ‘Praise the Lord in the highest, Alleluia’. There can be no hymn more triumphant than ‘Alleluia’. We cannot introduce changes without risk to the image of the eschaton, which is what this gathering is. The very fact that you go to Church, and take your place in this assembly, means that you are part of this image of the end times, which the whole Church presents to the world.