‘Above all we must reacquire confidence about creation’

‘Above all we must reacquire confidence about creation. I mean to say that things — the sacraments “are made” of things — come from God. To Him they are oriented, and by Him they have been assumed, and assumed in a particular way in the Incarnation, so that they can become instruments of salvation, vehicles of the Spirit, channels of grace. In this it is clear how vast is the distance between this vision and either a materialistic or spiritualistic vision. If created things are such a fundamental, essential part of the sacramental action that brings about our salvation, then we must arrange ourselves in their presence with a fresh, non-superficial regard, respectful and grateful. From the very beginning, created things contain the seed of the sanctifying grace of the sacraments.’

(Pope Francis, Desiderio Desideravi n.46)


The sacraments contain the reality that they signify.

They are like onomatopoeic words. Buzzzz. Fizzzz. Sizzle.

Click. Crackle. Snap.

Whallop! Crash! Kaplow!

They don’t just talk about something, they recreate the moment, re-present the truth contained. They draw us into the story, place it in our ears, before our eyes, and on our tongues. A sudden BANG! can make the listeners leap, just as if they were there.

But the sacraments are so much more than onomatopoeia. Onomatopoeia makes a reality only almost present, but sacrament makes a greater reality truly present. The sacraments are God’s words, and as St Teresa of Avila said, “His words are deeds.”

The sacraments make God intimate with us. We don’t just speak about the gospel, or the kingdom, or Jesus, we touch them, consume them, are immersed in them. It’s not history, it’s our story. We are invited to live Jesus life and death and Resurrection and Ascension into heaven.

And this touch of God, speaking His word over us, feeding us, makes us different. We are initiated into God’s love/life, and can now live by His logic and in His power. And if we don’t, we are truly rejecting His life in us.

God bless you! Have a blessed advent!

The Eucharist: “The Living Centre of the Universe”

‘It is in the Eucharist that all that has been created finds its greatest exaltation. Grace, which tends to manifest itself tangibly, found unsurpassable expression when God himself became man and gave himself as food for his creatures. The Lord, in the culmination of the mystery of the Incarnation, chose to reach our intimate depths through a fragment of matter. He comes not from above, but from within, he comes that we might find him in this world of ours. In the Eucharist, fullness is already achieved; it is the living centre of the universe, the overflowing core of love and of inexhaustible life. Joined to the incarnate Son, present in the Eucharist, the whole cosmos gives thanks to God. Indeed the Eucharist is itself an act of cosmic love: “Yes, cosmic! Because even when it is celebrated on the humble altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world”. The Eucharist joins heaven and earth; it embraces and penetrates all creation. The world which came forth from God’s hands returns to him in blessed and undivided adoration: in the bread of the Eucharist, “creation is projected towards divinization, towards the holy wedding feast, towards unification with the Creator himself”. Thus, the Eucharist is also a source of light and motivation for our concerns for the environment, directing us to be stewards of all creation.’
Pope Francis, Laudato Si n. 236

The Eucharist, cannibals, zombies and fresh food

At adoration this evening, I had some strange reflections on the Eucharist…

Every now and then, Catholics get told that eating Jesus’ Body and drinking His Blood makes us cannibals. But this is to seriously misunderstand. When cannibals eat human flesh and drink human blood, they’re consuming a dead person… It’s something violent. But the Holy Eucharist isn’t Jesus’ dead body; it’s His resurrected Body. Jesus in the Eucharist is far more alive than you and me.

In comparison with Jesus (especially after His resurrection), we’re hardly even half-alive. And so it is the less-alive, consuming the more-alive… like zombies. Except with zombies again, those they eat are killed/made into zombies in the process. Again, it is violent. But with Jesus, eating Him brings us to life, and makes us into Him. In zombies’ eating, death conquers life, but in the Eucharist, the eating of Christ’s resurrected Body, life conquers death.

When we eat normal food, the more fresh it is, the better it is for us. This is because everything we eat is dead, but the more fresh it is, the more its life remains with it, and the more we can take from its life. The act of eating something requires it to die, in order that it might be given away. So with the Eucharist, we are given Jesus’ Body, because He gave His life on the cross, and yet His Body is most truly alive, because He is the Resurrection and the Life, and His death is true life. So Jesus’ Body is the very best food, because despite being food, and therefore having to die, It is most truly alive, and therefore the very freshest and best food you’ll ever eat.

What do you think? Maybe I should just focus better during adoration…

God bless you!

…Jesus-Host is perfect love for me…

‘At the [Youth 2000] Walsingham retreat, at the communion for the Sunday mass, I realised in a powerful way how incredibly Jesus loves me in the Eucharist. Realising how he’s there, completely, in perfect love for me, giving me all of himself, hit me like a ton of bricks, and I was shaking and crying with love as I received Jesus, and I wanted only to accept him entirely, to love him perfectly and give myself entirely to him.

‘I know God’s love more deeply, and it’s changing me.`

This is how I expressed what God showed me in Walsingham, of how He loves me. It was an incredible experience, and it’s stuck with me.

The fact that Jesus-Host gives me all of Himself, body, blood, soul and divinity, in their entirety, for me to eat, is incredible. Whatever image of closeness and intimacy we might enjoy, does not even compare. If we like to visualise Jesus’ closeness to us, by imagining Him hugging us, or holding us like children, we are wrong not for imagining too much, but because the truth is so much more!

I saw that Jesus-Host is perfect love for me, and I wanted to become perfect love for Him. Jesus-Host gives Himself to me perfectly, body, blood, soul and divinity, and I offered Him my body, my blood, my soul, and His place of divinity in me, that I usurped by sin.

As I looked at Jesus-Host, tasted Him, digested Him, I knew that I was beholding and experiencing, and digesting, absolute love. He is what absolute love looks like, tastes like, feels like.

After communion, I remained a little while in front of Jesus in the monstrance, and prayed St. Therese’s ‘Act of Oblation to Merciful Love’. I had also prayed this during the night/early morning at adoration (there was perpetual adoration :D). I really recommend making this beautiful and powerful act.


Youth 2000 retreat, with Jesus on display above the “burning bush”


The whole retreat was incredible. It had brilliant worship, incredible speakers and workshops, great people all around, and best of all, Jesus was there, in the Eucharist and in the people surrounding me. Youth 2000 is really incredible, and I strongly recommend you to go on one of their retreats. This was my first, but I want another already.

God bless you, and praised be Jesus Christ!


Lent and baptism

‘In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.’
Mark 1:9-10 (emphasis mine)

Recently, these words, ‘torn apart’ rang a bell for me, and I realised this moment is linked to the moment when Jesus died,

‘And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.’
Mark 15:38

In these two moments, God’s presence is released into the world in a new and irrevocable way. The Kingdom of Heaven is bursting out.

We should also link Jesus’ baptism to when the Israelites were submerged in the Reed Sea, and passed through to freedom from Egypt. Then they came to their 40 years Lent in the desert. Then they were baptised again, passing through the river Jordan to enter the Promised Land. They were entering the Kingdom of God.

Baptism liberates from sin, and is a being buried with and raised in Christ. So the Israelites must be washed, surrendering to the Lord, and receiving from Him their life and salvation. Then they go through the wilderness living off of the bread from heaven, to be humbled, and learn their dependence on God: ‘that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.’ In this time, they go on dying to themselves, learning to live off of God. Then they must once more be baptised in the Jordan to enter their promised rest. I believe this second baptism is death: Jesus’ death on the cross and our deaths in him.

Lent is living out our baptism. For Noah and his family, their baptism and lent were simultaneous. We die to self to live in Christ each day, taking up our crosses and following him to death and resurrection. Then at the end of lent, we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, and enter, purified by this time of death, into the new life he has opened up for us. On Easter day, Catechumens are baptised, to show that we are baptised into the resurrected life, opened up to us by the saviour.

By baptism into Christ we are liberated. Our death is offered to God, and we are given divine life. By lent, we enter more deeply into our own death, weakness, and sin, in order to more consciously and thoroughly offer it to God, and receive in these His grace. We are made ready to enter anew into the Kingdom of God, and particularly for our final entry at the hour of our death.

Lent is exactly what the Church needs, because it’s exactly what the world needs the Church to be: God’s people dying to self, dying to the world and its futile ways, and living the life of the resurrection in Christ. We desperately need to be submerged in the spirit of Lent, so that we may be saturated with the mystery of Easter Sunday.

God bless you!

The bread of God

“For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
John 6:33

“He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”
Deuteronomy 8:3

“And the Word became flesh…”
John 1:14

And it all becomes clear! At least, it suddenly seemed clear to me.

The bread of life is both the words of scripture, the words of Jesus himself, and also, the very flesh of Jesus, by which we have life. Both Scripture and Eucharist.

And the bread that Jesus gives us to eat, is not mere flesh, since Jesus was according to the flesh born of Mary, without any pre-existent flesh coming down from heaven. Yet, we most truly eat Jesus’ flesh and drink his blood in the Holy Eucharist, because “the Word became flesh”. The Word did not inhabit flesh, but became flesh, for our life.

As the people of Israel lived by the manna from heaven and the commandments of the Lord, which both come “from the mouth of the Lord” (Young’s Literal Translation says “every produce”, rather than “every word”, and I suspect this is a better translation [though what do my suspicions count?]), so the Church lives upon the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Gospel, received within the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Please pray for unity in the Church and for miracles of unity amongst all Christians.

God bless you.

The Quran and Jesus

[This is the very first thing I’ve noted, in my recently begun (casual) study of Islam. I’ve started it because Islam is extremely important in the world today, and dialogue with Islam seems ever more important, especially in times of conflict in the Muslim world. Please, correct me to the best of your ability where I’ve misunderstood. Thank you]

I was recently given a free English translation of the Quran, and a few leaflets about Islam. Here is the first thing I have learned (and it seems to me, it may be the most important thing for a Christian to learn about Islam):

The Muslim’s Quran is more analogous to the Christian’s Jesus than to the Christian’s scriptures. In the introduction to the Quran I was given (something feels wrong about saying “my Quran”…), it says,

‘Moreover, it is the actual words of Allah — not created, but revealed by Him through the angel Gabriel to a human messenger, Muhammed…

What does one discover when he understands the meanings of the Qur’an? The answers to this question can be classified in four main categories:

1. That he can know his Creator as He has described Himself

2. …

4. How he should relate to all things — to Allah by worship and obedience, to his fellow man by…

This divine message was revealed to confirm and renew the relationship between man and his Creator and to reinstate the sincere and correct worship of the one true God…

It was “not created” that really grabbed my attention.

Much as we believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal, uncreated, Word of God, so Muslims believe that the Quran is the uncreated words of Allah. As Christ’s birth was proclaimed by the angel Gabriel, and given through Mary, so Muslim’s believe the Quran came through Gabriel, and was given to Muhammed to give to the world. We believe that in Christ, we can know God as He reveals Himself; similarly, Islam teaches that through the Quran, we can know God as He described Himself. As Jesus himself reveals how we should relate to all things, so Muslims believe about the Quran. As Jesus was sent to renew and confirm the relationship between God and man, so Muslims consider the Quran.

So, theologically at least, Christianity and Islam shouldn’t be compared Jesus against Muhammed, or the Quran against the Bible, but Jesus to the Quran, Muhammed to the prophets or apostles (or maybe even Mary), and the Bible to the Hadith. And certain practices, such as reciting the Quran in Arabic, even when it is not understood, should not be looked down upon with condescension, and considered as oppression or superstitious religious nonsense, but as practically (in Christian terms) sacramental; encountering a divine and unfathomable mystery in a simple, strange, and humble manner.

I would also like to point out at this point, that when, in recent years, some fundamentalist preachers threatened to burn Qurans, it was less like if Muslims had threatened to burn Bibles (sad as damaged Bibles are), than like when satanists threatened to desecrate Jesus Himself in the Holy Eucharist.

Of course, I must make it clear that (to my knowledge) no Muslim claims that the Quran is consubstantial with God. So the analogue is close, but not quite. But, I think it may still be, to Muslims, the Holiest thing on earth.

One thing I see that must be appealing about this view of the Quran, is the direct, ready access it gives to God’s words and divine mystery. Any Muslim can hold it in their hands, and relate with Allah according to the words He gave them to relate to Him with. If Christian’s had the Bible alone, we would (at least, theoretically) be further from God, than Muslims are from Allah. But, thank God, through the the Church, the very Body and spouse of Christ, and through the sacraments and the sacramental life, we are thoroughly immersed in the mystery of God’s own Trinitarian life.

As a final note, here’s the Catechism of the Catholic Church, n.841:

The Church’s relationship with the Muslims. “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.”

Pax Christi, Shalom aleichem, and Salaam alaikum!