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LIVING THE GOSPEL: LITTLE GOOD WORKS OF LOVE FOR CHILDREN, TEENAGERS AND ADULTS (I)

LIVING THE GOSPEL: LITTLE GOOD WORKS OF LOVE FOR CHILDREN, TEENAGERS AND ADULTS (I)

LITTLE OCCUPATIONS

The Repairer of Neglects

Even persons of most generous dispositions and quick perceptions, in the midst of the unceasing occupations of a family, will often forget a number of those minute details, insignificant in themselves, but the deprivation of which is a real trial to certain temperaments. The details of family life are like the small screws which bind together the different parts of a piece of furniture: withdraw one or two of them, and the piece of furniture loses its shape; it becomes disjointed.

It is thus, also, in a family; its harmony is oftentimes only to be ascribed to the care taken not to neglect one of those trifling nothings of politeness, punctuality, or habit, to all of which we should pay almost as much attention as we give to greater duties.

Doing one’s bit for love: happiness, harmony and emotional security in the family 

Each member of a family, especially if he is advanced in years, has his little peculiarities, which render him happy in some way or other.

Perhaps it is a garment made to a special pattern.

Or a newspaper brought at a particular hour.

Or a game played in such a place.

Or a visit expected at some precise moment.

Or the expression of congratulations at a particular hour.

Or a desire scarcely manifested, but often experienced…

Watch all these little things. Take it upon yourself to visit every morning the corners where the members of the family like to find everything that may be useful during the day. Go first to the apartment where they all assemble; remove everything that might displease them; perfect all the arrangements which have been carelessly made.

But do it all without noise, and unostentatiously. Enjoy only the happiness which it affords you. Oh! how God will repay you in heaven.

– From: Golden Grains, Eighth Edition, H.M. Gill and Son, Dublin, 1889

 

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“WATCH OVER YOUR PEOPLE” – INTERCESSIONS THROUGH ST JOHN BOSCO

Let us pray through the intercession of Saint John Bosco:

R. Watch over your people and guide them!

For the young and those who form and educate them:
– be their light, O Lord. (R.)

For troubled youth and those physically, morally, or spiritually endangered by their environment:
– be their life, O Lord. (R.)

For children and young people who have been abused or abandoned:
– be their help, O Lord. (R.)

For all Christian teachers and all who administer programmes of Christian formation:
– be their foundation, O Lord.

(Personal intentions)

Our Father…

May the Lord our God bless us in all the work that our hands undertake. (cf. Dt 14:19)

 
 

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A PRAYER TO DON BOSCO

St John Bosco,
be my guide
as I walk the path of friendship with the Lord Jesus,
so that I may discover in Him and in His Gospel
the meaning of my life
and the source of true happiness.

Help me to respond with generosity
to the vocation I have received from God,
and to build a better world
by being a good Christian and honest citizen.

Help me to live each day by the values of the Gospel,
and to be guided by the Spirit of God in the depth of my heart
and to see God’s goodness in all the people in my life,
so that I may one day be with you
in the great family of heaven.
Amen.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2013 in Prayers for Ordinary Time

 

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FOR YOUR DIARY: SOUTH EAST LONDON ‘YEAR OF FAITH’ EVENT

A special event for young people in South East London will take place

• VENUE : at St Saviour’s Church

• DATE : Sunday, 6th October 2013

• TIME : 2.30pm.

This is a special invitation for young people from 16 to 29 years of age to celebrate this ‘Year of Faith’. It will take place from 2.30pm until 5.00pm with Mass at 5.30pm afterwards (optional if you have already been to Mass). The event will be led by Bishop Patrick and will include reflection on Faith, testimony and lots of music. Bishop Patrick will celebrate the 5.30pm Mass.
• Address of St Saviour’s Catholic Church: 175, Lewisham High Street, Lewisham, London SE13 6AA.

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2013 in Prayers for Ordinary Time

 

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ONE QUESTION OF THE EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE: HAVE I EXERCISED VIGILANCE OVER WHAT MY CHILDREN WATCH ON TV?

One question for parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles in the examination of conscience before confession reads: “Have I failed to exercise vigilance over what my children read, see on television or on the internet?” What are the possible effects of watching violent and unsuitable material? Is the certification of films really to be trusted? – – – – – – – – – –

‘I FOUND THE LEVEL OF VIOLENCE UNWATCHABLE’

“We often have TV dinners in my house and last night I sat down with one of my teenage sons to watch a film that he clearly thought I was going to enjoy as much as I did. It was called ‘Avengers Assemble’ and it is rated PG-13. As super-hero movies go, it was high quality – full of A-list actors, and of course the special effects were stunning with a budget of $220 million. But most of it showed intense violence interspersed with about 15 minutes of either talking about violence about to happen, or recovering from violence. It was a very, very violent film. Actress Scarlett Johansson said she spent months training for the role by fighting stuntmen. ‘It’s crazy – I do nothing but fight all the time,’ she reported. ‘Avengers Assemble’ is not alone. ‘The Dark Knight’ series also waltzed through the PG-13 filter, as did ‘The Hunger Games’. I wondered, do teens really need to see for entertainment entire cities destroyed in minutes by giant machines or a nuclear bomb blowing up an alien city? Unlike the millions worldwide who helped this production earn more than a thousand million dollars to date, I didn’t see it through to the end. ‘Calm down mum,’ my son laughed as I left the room, ‘it’s only a film.’ Well, I found the level of violence offensive and unwatchable. And I wondered: Does violence in the media affect the well-being of individuals and society? And is a culture that inundates itself with media violence a significantly more violent culture than one in which violence is rare in the media?

CREATIVELY LAZY FILMS

Timothy M. Gray, the editor in chief of ‘Variety’, questioned film violence in his January 2013 edition. ‘It’s the pervasiveness we should be concerned with,’ he said, ‘for you can see 28 explosions that kill dozens of people in seven minutes of movie trailers.’ He felt that you couldn’t actually count the acts of murder and mayhem, 24/7 on 500 TV channels. Gray’s editorial called for Hollywood to act. ‘When asked about violent or demeaning content, some in Hollywood shrug, ‘It’s what the public wants,” he said, ‘but there’s a fine line between catering to the public wants and pandering to their basest instincts.’ In the same issue, writer Callie Khouri pointed out that violent scripts make easy money but are ‘creatively lazy’. She said that, ‘writing a story that doesn’t have a gun or doesn’t have a murder or doesn’t have a violent incident in it is a whole lot more difficult than writing a story that does.’ Gray felt that after the terror attacks of 9/11, he expected to see greater sensitivity to mass killings in action films, yet in the most recent Batman film, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, the Williamsburg, Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges are blown up, killing thousands, against a backdrop where the World Trade Center used to be. Gray felt if this is what passes for entertainment, if our memories are so short and our sensitivities so blunted, something is broken. I agree with him.

JOLTING AUDIENCES

In Quentin Tarantino’s films, the violence, torture and bloodletting sit side by side with wisecracking dialogue and moments of slapstick. His latest, ‘Django Unchained’, features whippings, brutal wrestling matches and one scene in which dogs rip a slave to pieces. In many cinemas, audiences are laughing at scenes of hanging and shootings in the genitals. The challenge now for film-makers is to jolt audiences who’ve already seen death portrayed so many times on screen before. Tarantino deflected a question about film violence linked to real life massacres earlier on this year saying, ‘I think it’s disrespectful to the people who died to talk about movies; obviously, the issue is gun control and mental health.’ I would exclude from concern those films which do not focus on violence as entertainment, but on highlighting the horror of violence. The Stephen Spielberg films, ‘Saving Private Ryan’, ‘Schindler’s List’ and ‘Lincoln’ portray the evil of war and the fortitude to tackle it. Kathryn Bigelow assesses the psychological cost of global conflicts in ‘The Hurt Locker’ and ‘Zero Dark Thirty’. But more often, casual detachment about death is a staple of mainstream cinema.

LINK WITH AGGRESSION

In the era of computer games like ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Assasin’s Creed’, death isn’t taken very seriously here either. The debate over the effects of violence in the media really hotted up last year when a survey carried out by Australia’s Interactive Games and Entertainment Association found that large numbers of children are spending many hours a week playing violent video games. ‘When children are constantly exposed to violent media it raises the risk that they will choose to use aggression themselves when put in a conflict situation,’ commented Barbara Biggins, CEO of the Australian Council on Children and the Media. An earlier report by the International Society for Research on Aggression on the effects of exposure to media violence found that frequent exposure to media violence increased the relative risk of aggression. ‘Youth can now download, view, play, and listen to violent material any time of day or night, often from the privacy of their own rooms, and with little supervision from their parents,’ the report warned. Some people reject the idea that violence in the media will affect behaviour, but the report pointed out that when it comes to content that is not violent it is accepted that the media will influence what people do, as is evident from the existence of the multibillion dollar advertising industry. Violence in video games is more of a problem than in other forms of media, due to its interactive nature. Playing video games involves practice, repetition and being rewarded for numerous acts of violence, which may intensify the learning. The issue is whether watching violent movies and shows or interactively engaging in violent games in a virtual world increases the odds that people may engage in aggressive behaviour in a variety of forms, both in the short term and in the long term.

REAL-LIFE VIOLENCE

A number of studies have found that exposure to media violence not only increases aggressive behaviour, but also aggressive thoughts, feelings, psychological arousal, and decreases social skills. The aggression may not be immediate or severe, such as shooting someone; it can take a variety of forms, such as a child being more defiant and disrespectful. Violent images can also serve as a trigger for aggressive thoughts and feelings already stored in the brain. Violence in films, TV, or video games also leads to the desensitization of the process of moral evaluation of behaviour by an individual.

During the US-led war on Iraq in 2003, media outlets provided live, real-time coverage of battle for the first time in history. Network reporters were ’embedded’ with troops – transmitting battle footage straight into homes – and viewers felt like they were taking part in the war. Studies show regular exposure to traumatic events through television and film can increase stress and depression. The impact of seeing TV violence can even affect the way people interact with each other in society. ‘People overexposed to horrendous violence and death can reach a point of saturation similar to post-traumatic stress syndrome,’ says Ronald Barrett, psychology professor at Loyola Marymount University; ‘People may shut down and not be able to have normal feelings.’ In addition, the media presentation can blur normal feelings of compassion. The compassion meter runs differently depending on who is dying. When the person being killed is labelled as the enemy then very often there is little compassion. When one of our own soldiers is killed, it is framed as being more meaningful. In the ten years since the Iraq War it is now commonplace to see live war footage and other violent episodes.’

THE ‘ADMIRABLE’ SOLUTION

Viewers should not rely on the media to digest information for them, according to Sr Elizabeth Thoman, a member of the Congregation of Humility of Mary, and founder of Los Angeles Center for Media Literacy. She feels we should be asking, ‘How does this media coverage get to us? Is it being sponsored by someone? Is somebody making money from this? Are certain images being selected?’ She adds that, ‘even if we look at the same picture,we see it differently depending on what we bring to it.’ We should be asking, do we solve our problems with bigger bombs and faster planes? It would be lamentable if our young people are learning that violence is the solution to conflict. And not only is it ‘the solution’, it’s the admirable solution. If our heroes resort to violence to fix our problems then why don’t we? What a pity that you won’t find Pax Christi work on peace education in the mainstream media, or projects on non-violent meditation in conflict situations, such as in Palestine.

Extreme real-life violence does not need to be in a war context. In February, the video of a taxi driver being dragged to his death after being handcuffed to a police vehicle in South Africa went viral around the world. It became a worldwide symbol of police brutality in the country. Mido Macia was only 27-years-old when he died after a minor altercation with policemen escalated. The recording of the incident by horrified onlookers who beseeched the police to stop their abuse will at least mean there is evidence for securing justice. Over recent years mobile phone footage of attacks on indigenous peoples’ protests in Peru have reached the West, revealing the violence used against people trying to save their land from destruction by Western mining companies. And on alternative media such as Twitter and Facebook you will find inspiring stories about peacemaking that simply don’t appear in the mainstream.

CALL TO BE PEACEMAKERS

As followers of Jesus, who completely rejected violence and called on us to be peacemakers, we should become more alert to violent media and its effects on us all. We must not ignore the fact that the media consumption, especially in children and teens, is a strong predictor of both perceptions of the world and behavioural responses to crises. We must make smart decisions as parents, activists, and consumers… Immersion into a culture of constant violence is bad for anyone, and especially so for children.”

– This article by Ellen Teague, entitled “School of Violence” was published in “Messenger of Saint Anthony”, issue May 2013. For subscriptions, please contact: Messenger of Saint Anthony, basilica del Santo, via Orto Botanico 11, 35123 Padua, Italy

 

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WHETHER OUR TIMES BE THE LAST DAYS OR NOT, ST PAUL DESCRIBED THE TIMES WE LIVE IN (2 TIM. 3:1-7)

We live in times that, whether they be the last days or not, fulfil to a striking degree the words of St Paul:

“Know also this, that in the last days, shall come dangerous times. Men shall be lovers of themselves, covetous, haughty, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, wicked, without affection, without peace, slanderers, incontinent, unmerciful, without kindness, traitors, stubborn, puffed up, and lovers of pleasures more than God: Having an appearance indeed of godliness, but denying the power thereof…ever learning, and never attaining to the knowledge of the truth.”
(2 Tim 3:1-7).

By Fr Nicholas A. Norman

“Lovers of themselves” – Let not the success of sundry charity drives blind us to the woeful spirit of selfishness that has gripped the world in its loveless embrace. “What is in it for me?” – this is the watchword of countless millions. Individuals are affected, and nations. So we have wars and the rumours of wars, the abominable housing situation, the grim, embattled strikes, ugly race prejudice, nervous impatience that explodes at the slightest delay in fulfilment of personal desires, spiralling prices, a widespread breakdown of marriage, birth control and needles shuffling of child care to others, while so many mothers spend their time in activities of little or no value, or unnecessary employment, and so many fathers act as though their only duty towards their children were to provide them with material necessities or goods. How many organisations, ostensibly high-minded and charitable in purpose, are impeded in their efforts by petty jealousies and cliques within their own ranks! Is the spirit still dominant among us all as much as it was among the first Christians, to unite for one purpose, and for one alone – the glory of God and the extension of His Kingdom? “Human frailty,” we say unctuously, and let it go at that. Once the pagans marvelled, saing: “See how those Christians love one another!” They will say it today, but now with sardonic amusement. “Covetous” – Greed and avarice have wrecked the modern world and prostrated civilisation. What else has caused wars, and so often lies beneath the high-flown words of diplomacy? “Haughty, proud, blasphemers” – For the first time in history, while the majority may agree in theory that there is a God, a vast proportion deny in practice the existence of a Deity, and are gods unto themselves. Colleges of learning use His Name, but define Him fantastically. His Name is not mentioned at the councils of the nations. “Nature” has usurped His place as the Author of Creation and the Arranger of its beautiful order. “Disobedient” – The revolt against the very idea of authority exists not only in children, but has become a real obsession in our age, an obsession which has reached even into the fields of art and music, and is responsible for the modern monstrosities, daubs and cacophonies. To a staggering number, freedom means license, whether they wish to admit it or not. “Without affection” – The world may have been as bad in pre-Christian times, but never since the Redeemer came and sanctified marriage has this exalted union been so abused, its promises so flouted. Never has personal desire counted for so much, and surrender for so little. Never has there been so little place in the world for children – birth control, abortion, neglect. “Without peace” – The world is aflame with war, rumours of war, and revolt. Men cry “Peace, peace!” – but there is no peace. “Slanderers” – “Propaganda” and “smearing” are common words now, and every child knows their meaning. “Incontinent” – The world has been sexy in many periods of its existence. Prominent men have paraded their mistresses. But when since the times of ancient Rome has divorce been so legalised and shameless with its attendant progressive polygamy? When was there such a widespread birth control? When has the human body been paraded in such nudity? What stigma is attached to adultery and infidelity? Is it not “love”? And must not “love” be satisfied at any cost, regardless of encumbering husband, wife or children? What unprinted horrors are discovered by scratching the veneer of modern respectability! How often we read of the flame of lust raging in the hearts even of children, leading them to murder. Obscene pinups are commonplace in the rooms of teenagers. When was the world so flooded with pornographic writings and pictures, so many of which find their way into the hands of children? What age has seen such filthy advertisements, promising to reveal secrets of perversion, sexy comics, provocative motion pictures, dirty jokes sent into clean homes via radio? The Romans adored Venus. Is she being adored again? But is not all this “broadminded” and “modern”? It is as broadminded and modern as Sodom and Gomorrah. “Unmerciful” – Wandering refugees, wild children, slave labour, concentration camps nauseating in their horror, sadistic tortures that have shamed this decade forever and are still going on – these outrival the cruelties of the Huns. And all this in a “civilised” world! “Traitors” – When ever has the solid structure of the State well nigh universally been so shot through with the rat burrows of traitors working for another country, for foreign ideas and interests, covering their treason with the noble sounding cry of “Freedom, free speech, free press!” How many times in recent years has the enemy swallowed up a country without so much as firing a shot? “Fifth columnists”, “infiltration” – these are common household words today. “Lovers of pleasures more than of God…” – no comment is needed. “Ever learning and never attaining to the knowledge of the truth…” Our institutions of learning are bursting today as never before in history and they present numerous courses in widely varied fields. How many have for their object the education of man for the material concerns of life? How much time is allotted for the intensive cultivation of man’s noble spirit? To attain the truth means to find and to hold forever the Truth, the Infinite, Ineffable Essence. It calls not merely for a theoretical knowledge of the Divinity, but for INTIMATE UNION with the All-Good, the All-Beautiful, the All-True. Because so many have been so far from attaining the Truth, the foregoing indictment holds true. But those who have attained it have found the peace that surpasses all understanding…herein lies the indictment of our times, that we have gone pell-mell down the road of [the senses], and are making but desultory attempts to ascend the way of spirit. At the end of the low road of sense lies death, corruption, and the stench of decay. At the heights of the high road of the spirit awaits peace, and a joy immeasurable, beyond that of all our wistful dreams…

THE IMMACULATE VIRGIN AS A SURE GUIDE ON THE SPIRITUAL PATH

There is only one under Our Lord among all the children of men who can fulfil perfectly the place of guide and beloved, only one with complete experience and complete love – the Immaculate Virgin. She has explored the way unto the Truth, and attained Him in a measure that no one else ever will or can. She has known all the darknesses that lead unto the light, the depths of suffering that has richly merited her the title Queen of Martyrs. She alone of all mankind knows the fullness of the glory and the inexpressible joy that awaits at the end of the road. And her beauty is so compelling, and her love so selfless and divine, that if we but lift our eyes unto her we shall love her ardently in return and never wish to be separated from her. And if we but give her our hand, in complete trust, she will guide us safely to the Goal of All Desire. So those whom she has guided and who have found Him, call to us with all possible loving urgency: “Go to Mary!”

 
 

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