Church

Church Cross Saves Woman And Grandson Caught In Flood

“I said, ‘dear Lord are you taking me home right now?’ “

The Huff Po has this story:

You don’t need to have religious faith to appreciate what a church cross did for Clara Gantt and her grandson on Sunday, October 4, in the South Carolina floods — according to them,  it was a life-saver.

Gantt and Travis Catchings clung to that cross for hours in raging waters before rescuers could do their job, WISTV reported…

There is more with a video here.

Church

Crematorium Cross Removed to Avoid Offending Non-religious Visitors

Critics have described the decision to remove the cross from view at the crematorium in Lancashire as ‘political correctness gone mad’…

Political correctness gone mad indeed:

The replacement cross at Accrington Crematorium

A parish is in uproar after a crematorium’s cross was taken down and stuffed in a cupboard to avoid offending non-religious visitors.

Around 40 per cent of funeral services held the crematorium are non-Christian so it was decided that the cross should be kept in a storage cupboard rather than behind the alter.

It will be brought out of the cupboard and put up on the wall for services at Accrington Crematorium in Burnley, Lancashire, only when requested…

Read on here.

Truly:

The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.

– 1 Cor. 1:18 (NLT)

Church

Court Says Ground Zero Cross Can Stay, Atheists Weep and Gnash Teeth

On the Creative Minority Report:

I don’t think the atheists really had a prayer with this lawsuit. The atheist group, American Atheists, pretended to be so horrified by the sight of a cross at the 9-11 museum that they filed suit for it to be removed.

“Atheists died on 9/11, members of our organization suffered in lower Manhattan on that day, and our members helped with the rescue and recovery efforts, yet we are denied equal representation in the National Museum,” American Atheists President David Silverman reportedly said.

But the suit just got tossed out of federal court and the atheists don’t know if they’re going to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court or not.

The Daily Caller reports:

A federal court ruled Monday that the existence of a cross at Ground Zero does not violate the Constitution, slamming the appeal filed by the secular activist group American Atheists.

The famous cross, formed by two intersecting beams left standing after the 9/11 attacks, has been a powerful spiritual symbol for many since and even during the tragedy. Frank Silecchia discovered the cross while helping recover bodies from the site. “It was a sign,” he later said. ”a sign God hadn’t deserted us.”

American Atheists felt differently. In July 2011 they filed suit over the cross, which had been included in the 9/11 Memorial Museum, saying members of their group found its presence there “offensive and repugnant to their beliefs, culture, and traditions, and allege that the symbol marginalizes them as American citizens.”

“Many of American Atheists’ members have seen the cross, either in person or on television, and are being subjected to and injured in consequence of having a religious tradition not their own imposed upon them through the power of the state,” the suit read.

The Franciscan priest, Father Brian Jordan, who reportedly originally had the cross pulled from Ground Zero. “In a way, we’ve been vindicated,” he said. “I’m satisfied and gratified that this will go down as a piece of history — as a reminder.”

But the Second Circuit stated that the “actual purpose in displaying The Cross at Ground Zero has always been secular: to recount the history of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and their aftermath.”

The court said the cross tells “the story of how some people used faith to cope with the tragedy.”

Faith is a real part of people’s lives and it shouldn’t be ignored…

Church

Nailing Themselves to Their Own Crosses

In the St Austin Review:

It is said quite truly that the path of least resistance leads to Hell. This truism is particularly relevant to our present hedonistic culture because hedonism is the path of least resistance. It is the belief that we should do whatever makes us feel good in the present moment. Such a belief is inimical to the Christian insistence on the necessity of self-sacrifice. Hedonism hates the cross. It hates all talk of sin, which it has banished from its vocabulary. It spurns all talk of virtue, believing that prudence, temperance and duty are all trumped by “freedom”, which is defined as the “right” to do what we like with our own lives.

The problem is that we cannot do what we like with our own lives without harming others. A woman’s right to choose to fornicate leads to the demand for her right to kill her own unborn children. This “right” to kill becomes more important than the children’s right to live. Hedonism demands human sacrifice, the offering of babies on the altar erected to the individual’s ego.

The fundamental error at the heart of hedonism is the very belief that our lives are our own. We do not own our lives. Our lives are given as a gift and will be taken from us whether we like it or not. The gift is not free. It comes at a price; a price that we have no choice but to pay.

The price of life is the cross. Everyone has their own cross to carry. The cross is the life that we’ve been given. Life and the cross are the same thing. They are inseparable. The only choice is not whether we have a cross but whether we choose to love it or hate it.

As with life, so with love also.

As the price of life is the cross of life, so the price of love is the cross of love. Love and the cross are the same thing. They are inseparable. Love, like the cross, is defined by the act of laying down our lives self-sacrificially for the other. Where there is no cross, there is no love.

And here is the ironic paradox at the darkened heart of hedonism. If we will not sacrifice ourselves for others, we will sacrifice others for ourselves. And yet every time we nail others to the cross, we nail ourselves to it also. The more selfishly we live, the more miserable we are. Happiness is not found by indulging our lower appetites but in embracing the self-sacrificial cross of life and love.

Those who embrace their crosses selflessly are liberated from their slavery to themselves. This is the only freedom worth living for or dying for. Those who hate their crosses are nailing themselves more painfully to them, enslaving themselves to their own selfishness.

The number of suicides is increasing. Despair is increasing. Nihilism is rampant. Addiction is an epidemic. These are all signs of a society that is crucifying itself through its hatred of the Cross.

 

Church

The Cross as a Compass

I’ve found that there are many in the Church who suffer from what one might call: me-sim. My spirituality, my this, or my that… Where I can be happy, where I can be comfortable, where can I benefit. That focus is wrong. Totally wrong. It isn’t about you, and what you want, or what you can get out of serving God in His Church (1 Cor 3:23). Look outward. Look out and see a lost, suffering, sinful and needy world, a world that is dying for want of Christ. Go into that world, and proclaim and live out the Gospel, both by thought, word and deed (St Mark 16:15). Do this, whether they are willing to listen to you or not.  As John Wesley once rightly noted, ‘Catch on fire and others will love to come watch you burn’.

Allow me quickly to tell you about my little weekend…

As I said yesterday, it was an extended weekend with Monday being Heritage Day. Friday, I was called to go and do some trauma debriefing. Saturday was a full day of refresher training (Chaplaincy) with the Emergency Service, which I volunteer in doing (btw, if you’re a Christian (Ordained or Lay) and are sick of twiddling your thumbs wondering about rituals, liturgical rites and/or the hybridisation thereof, then go down to your local Hospital, Fire Department, Police Station or School and volunteer to do some counseling and ministry. Go in the name of Jesus Christ to those places where sin is most acutely felt, and make a difference. You’ll be surprised at the need… It is massive. People are hurting indeed).

Sunday was a blessed Mass, though numbers were slightly down given the long-weekend and many going away. Then I got home to the ‘Archbishop John Hepworth’ story, a leak to the Aussie press who had a field day. I posted it on my blog. It’s almost laughable that my calling for Archbishop John Hepworth to be honest, open, reconciled and to work with (as much as lies within him) those that he is estranged from, constitutes ‘trashing’. I don’t know much about the man except that which I read in the press like the rest of you. I am not privy to any inside information. I am a Parish Priest who blogs on Church matters and news. I met the Archbishop once (or at least saw him once) at the funeral of the late Bishop Trevor Rhodes. The rest is out there in the secular media, news, and the blogosphere for all to see. Why he doing and saying the things he is, why he is accused of fiddling with Church funds whether that was in 1974 or later, why he did what he is said to have done to fellow Churchmen is all beyond me. What I’ll say is that reading about it leaves a rather bad taste in the mouth and makes for a pathetic Christian witness. And, if I may add, for an innocent, Archbishop John Hepworth certainly seems to be accused of much, and to my mind has far too many detractors, and Christian detractors at that. Of course, he is assumed innocent until proven otherwise. It’s the behavour and attitude being displayed that is questionable and bothers me most. ‘A bishop then must be blameless’ (or ‘above reproach’ as some other versions have it) – (1 Tim 3:2). That’s not me. That’s plain Scripture.  How calling the Archbishop to answer and/or explain constitutes ‘hatred, psychological and spiritual torture and religious fanaticism in its worst form’ is simply beyond me. That is an emotive and irrational response. Unhelpful. What I see going on is being done in an orderly, legal and professional manner. The only one perpetually running to the media is Archbishop John Hepworth himself. None of it is about taking sides, but rather about the truth. A search for the truth. ‘God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please; you can never have both’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson. So there’s now a lot happening in the Church in Australia, and we would all do well to sincerely pray for them, and give them a chance to let God undertake, and in the end, all will be well.

No sooner had I posted the above news (and yes, my call for Archbishop Hepworth at the very least to admit that there is some sort of a problem and/or misunderstanding and to state that he is both willing and working towards sorting it all out – one doesn’t hear anything of the sort does one?) than the phone rang. I was called out to a house in the Strand. It was raining as I drove and when I got there, the EMS and Police where already on scene. A 3 month old precious little girl had passed away. She lay there, on the bed, in pink, eyes – empty eyes – staring blankly without registering, her spirit, well away from the mortal remains. It’s hard to try to make sense of such a death. Almost impossible. Just as hard is trying to tell the bereaved, the devastated parents, that God is still good… and that He cares. But try, one has to. Because only God is able to make sense of the senseless. At times like this, we need to seek and know God’s peace and indeed draw upon His power and strength. Getting home just after 21:00, switching on the blog and reading the com box as the Hepworthian comments quickly filtered through, that simply paled in comparison to the traumatic world I had just come from… an infinitesimal comparison.

Last night a Mother of one of our congregants passed away. She was a member of another Anglican Church. The Minister never came. I was called. It didn’t matter. I went. Her funeral is Friday and I’ll be doing it. She was never on our Parish Roll… But see if I care!

Jesus calls us to serve as His hands, His feet, and His voice. Now, if you do that, there won’t be enough time in the day to stress about yourself and what you need or can gain from life – spiritually or otherwise. Churchianity is so far removed from real Christianity. If your focus is the Cross and all it requires of you, then you won’t need to be looking around for direction. It’s already there. In front of your nose. Being Jesus to another is all but a conversation away.

See one of the things I’ve learnt from the Bishop who now shepherds us, is it is not about what the Church can do for you, but what you can do for the Church. The Church belongs to Christ.  Each of us has been given some rather unique and individual talents and abilities to use (1 Cor 12:28). And we do well to use them in and for Kingdom work. The Church’s mission is saving those perishing, bringing them in, and steering them to the safe harbour that is Heaven. It lies within each of us to fulfil that mandate. And the Bible teaches that everything written from cover to cover in Scripture can be summed up with two statements: Love God and Love Others.

Now, for those (who may be) still looking for ‘more’ on Fr Stephen Smuts: I’m sorry to have to disappoint. What you see, is more or less, what you get I’m afraid. I am a TAC Priest. ‘Home-grown’ if you will. I have never been a Priest in any other Church. I was Ordained in 2005. When I started in the Parish, it was the Rector, his wife, and two other congregants (both 80+ years old). Today, we are over that age in congregant numbers! We are not the biggest or the best Church out there. But we are growing. Making inroads. Slowly. And we are doing so, because we are faithful to Christ and His Calling. The same could of course be true of any other. But you have got to be willing to get down and work. Put your faith (or perhaps lack thereof) into practice. Stop worrying about yourself. Look to your neighbour. Serve that person in Christ. Even if you are sitting in a massive Parish, there are those around you in desperate need. Sometimes, even the Churched, need to be unChurched… To be given, anew, a taste of what it means to be saved by the precious blood of Jesus, and how radical that really is. What a difference it actually makes (or should make) to you, to know that you are redeemed! Every second of every day, you and I are called to live out our lives, as Servants of the One who saves! Stop whining and complaining and get on with it. Life is so short. Very short. Do what you can, with joy in your heart, and that while you still can…

‘What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ’

– Phil 3:8.

‘Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent’

– St John 17:3.

Church

The Sign of the Cross

Do not do anything without signing yourself with the sign of the Cross! When you depart on a journey, when you begin your work, when you go to study, when you are alone, and when you are with other people, seal yourself with the Holy Cross on your forehead, your body, your chest, your heart, your lips, your eyes, your ears. All of you should be sealed with the sign of Christ’s victory over hell. Then you will no longer be afraid of charms, evil spirits, or sorcery, because these are dissolved by the power of the Cross like wax before fire and like dust before the wind.

– Elder Cleopa Ilie

Source

 

Church

The Cross and You

Via Fr Jeremy Davies:

This is the week when the Cross looms very large in our lives. Today, at Mass we hear again the passion story so that we might focus our full attention on the cross through the week. It begs the question – how important, how central, is the Cross of Jesus Christ in your life?

I remember at Anglican theological college being asked how I would feel if someone broke a crucifix in front of me. My reaction was instantaneous – I’d be very upset. “Why?”, I was asked. “Because the cross means everything to me,” I said. “Without the Cross, there’s no meaning to life.”  “So what about two pieces of wood shaped into a cross?  Would that have the same effect?”  “Yes, if those pieces were intended to represent the cross of Christ.”   The level of questioning was designed to make us aware of the importance of symbols and symbolic language. When something or a place or someone matters to us deeply, anything that speaks of that thing, place or person takes on special significance, be it a photo or ornament or a news story on TV. It matters because your life is anchored to it or them in some way.  So when we see a block of flats go up where there used to be our local park, we get distressed. When someone who matters walks out of your life, you get upset. When someone smashes a crucifix in front of you, it hurts deeply.

So how much does the cross mean to you? In an age when wearing a crucifix can get you reprimanded at work, or even the sack, I believe it is time for us Catholic Christians to start wearing our crucifixes with pride, not to be provocative, but because we want it seen that the cross is important to us. It is a witness to what motivates and directs our lives, and we are not afraid to let others know.

Maybe this Holy Week, you can join me in wearing something that speaks of your faith, and put a Holy Week poster in your front window at home as well.  Let others know the importance of the cross in your life.