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St James the Great Weekly Newsletter

pdf NEWSLETTER MON 12th AUGUST 2019 SUN 18th AUGUST 2019 Popular

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Laudato Si (continued) 14. I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all. The worldwide ecological movement has already made considerable progress and led to the establishment of numerous organizations committed to raising awareness of these challenges. Regrettably, many efforts to seek concrete solutions to the environmental crisis have proved ineffective, not only because of powerful opposition but also because of a more general lack of interest. Obstructionist attitudes, even on the part of believers, can range from denial of the problem to indifference, nonchalant resignation or blind confidence in technical solutions. We require a new and universal solidarity. As the bishops of Southern Africa have stated: “Everyone’s talents and involvement are needed to redress the damage caused by human abuse of God’s creation”. All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents.

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Laudato Si (continued) 13. The urgent challenge to protect our com-mon home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change. The Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home. Here I want to recognize, encourage and thank all those striving in countless ways to guarantee the protection of the home which we share. Particu¬lar appreciation is owed to those who tirelessly seek to resolve the tragic effects of environmen¬tal degradation on the lives of the world’s poor¬est. Young people demand change. They wonder how anyone can claim to be building a better fu¬ture without thinking of the environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded.

pdf NEWSLETTER MON 29th JULY 2019 SUN 4th AUGUST 2019 Popular

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Laudato Si (continued) 12. What is more, Saint Francis, faithful to Scripture, invites us to see nature as a magnificent book in which God speaks to us and grants us a glimpse of his infinite beauty and goodness. “Through the greatness and the beauty of creatures one comes to know by analogy their maker” (Wis 13:5); indeed, “his eternal power and divinity have been made known through his works since the creation of the world” (Rom 1:20). For this reason, Francis asked that part of the friary garden always be left untouched, so that wild flowers and herbs could grow there, and those who saw them could raise their minds to God, the Creator of such beauty. Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise.

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Laudato Si (continued) 11. Francis helps us to see that an integral ecology calls for openness to categories which transcend the language of mathematics and biology, and take us to the heart of what it is to be human. Just as happens when we fall in love with someone, whenever he would gaze at the sun, the moon or the smallest of animals, he burst into song, drawing all other creatures into his praise. He communed with all creation, even preaching to the flowers, inviting them “to praise the Lord, just as if they were endowed with reason”. His response to the world around him was so much more than intellectual appreciation or economic calculus, for to him each and every creature was a sister united to him by bonds of affection. That is why he felt called to care for all that exists. His disciple Saint Bonaventure tells us that, “from a reflection on the primary source of all things, filled with even more abundant piety, he would call creatures, no matter how small, by the name of ‘brother’ or ‘sister’”. Such a conviction cannot be written off as naive romanticism, for it affects the choices which determine our behaviour. If we approach nature and the environment without this openness to awe and wonder, if we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs. By contrast, if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously. The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled.

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Laudato Si (continued) Saint Francis of Assisi 10. I do not want to write this Encyclical without turning to that attractive and compelling figure, whose name I took as my guide and inspiration when I was elected Bishop of Rome. I believe that Saint Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically. He is the patron saint of all who study and work in the area of ecology, and he is also much loved by non-Christians. He was particularly concerned for God’s creation and for the poor and outcast. He loved, and was deeply loved for his joy, his generous self-giving, his openheartedness. He was a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.

pdf NEWSLETTER MON 8th JULY 2019 SUN 14th JULY 2019 Popular

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Laudato Si (continued) 9. At the same time, Bartholomew has drawn attention to the ethical and spiritual roots of environmental problems, which require that we look for solutions not only in technology but in a change of humanity; otherwise we would be dealing merely with symptoms. He asks us to replace consumption with sacrifice, greed with generosity, wastefulness with a spirit of sharing, an asceticism which “entails learning to give, and not simply to give up. It is a way of loving, of moving gradually away from what I want to what God’s world needs. It is liberation from fear, greed and compulsion”.17 As Christians, we are also called “to accept the world as a sacrament of communion, as a way of sharing with God and our neighbours on a global scale. It is our humble conviction that the divine and the human meet in the slightest detail in the seamless garment of God’s creation, in the last speck of dust of our planet”.

pdf NEWSLETTER MON 1st JULY 2019 SUN 7th JULY 2019 Popular

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Laudato Si (continued) 8. Patriarch Bartholomew has spoken in par-ticular of the need for each of us to repent of the ways we have harmed the planet, for “inasmuch as we all generate small ecological damage”, we are called to acknowledge “our contribution, smaller or greater, to the disfigurement and de¬struction of creation”. He has repeatedly stat-ed this firmly and persuasively, challenging us to acknowledge our sins against creation: “For hu¬man beings… to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation; for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping the earth of its natural forests or destroying its wetlands; for human be¬ings to contaminate the earth’s waters, its land, its air, and its life – these are sins”. For “to commit a crime against the natural world is a sin against ourselves and a sin against God”.

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Laudato Si (continued) 7. These statements of the Popes echo the reflections of numerous scientists, philoso-phers, theologians and civic groups, all of which have enriched the Church’s thinking on these questions. Outside the Catholic Church, other Churches and Christian communities – and oth¬er religions as well – have expressed deep con¬cern and offered valuable reflections on issues which all of us find disturbing. To give just one striking example, I would mention the statements made by the beloved Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, with whom we share the hope of full ecclesial communion.

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Laudato Si (continued from last week) 6. (cont.) Both are ulti¬mately due to the same evil: the notion that there are no indisputable truths to guide our lives, and hence human freedom is limitless. We have for¬gotten that “man is not only a freedom which he creates for himself. Man does not create himself. He is spirit and will, but also nature”. With pa¬ternal concern, Benedict urged us to realize that creation is harmed “where we ourselves have the final word, where everything is simply our prop¬erty and we use it for ourselves alone. The misuse of creation begins when we no longer recognize any higher instance than ourselves, when we see nothing else but ourselves”.

pdf NEWSLETTER MON 10th JUNE 2019 SUN 16th JUNE 2019 Popular

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Authentic human development has a moral character. It presumes full respect for the human person, but it must also be concerned for the world around us and “take into account the nature of each being and of its mutual connection in an ordered system”. Accordingly, our human ability to transform reality must proceed in line with God’s original gift of all that is. 6. My predecessor Benedict XVI likewise proposed “eliminating the structural causes of the dysfunctions of the world economy and correcting models of growth which have proved incapable of ensuring respect for the environment”. He observed that the world cannot be analyzed by isolating only one of its aspects, since “the book of nature is one and indivisible”, and includes the environment, life, sexuality, the family, social relations, and so forth. It follows that “the deterioration of nature is closely connected to the culture which shapes human coexistence”. Pope Benedict asked us to recognize that the natural environment has been gravely damaged by our irresponsible behaviour. The social environment has also suffered damage.

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Laudato Si (continued from last week) “…the urgent need for a radical change.. in the conduct of humanity” in as much as “the most extraordinary scientific advances, the most amazing technical abilities, the most astonishing economic growth, unless they are accompanied by authentic social and moral progress, will definitively turn against man”. 5. Saint John Paul II became increasingly concerned about this issue. In his first Encyclical he warned that human beings frequently seem “to see no other meaning in their natural environment than what serves for immediate use and consumption”. Subsequently, he would call for a global ecological conversion. At the same time, he noted that little effort had been made to “safeguard the moral conditions for an authentic human ecology”. The destruction of the human environment is extremely serious, not only because God has entrusted the world to us men and women, but because human life is itself a gift which must be defended from various forms of debasement. Every effort to protect and improve our world entails profound changes in “lifestyles, models of production and consumption, and the established structures of power which today govern societies”.

pdf NEWSLETTER MON 27th MAY 2019 SUN 2nd JUNE 2019 Popular

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3. More than fifty years ago, with the world teetering on the brink of nuclear crisis, Pope Saint John XXIII wrote an Encyclical which not only rejected war but offered a proposal for peace. He addressed his message Pacem in Terris to the entire “Catholic world” and indeed “to all men and women of good will”. Now, faced as we are with global environmental deterioration, I wish to address every person living on this planet. In my Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I wrote to all the members of the Church with the aim of encouraging ongoing missionary renewal. In this Encyclical, I would like to enter into dialogue with all people about our common home. 4. In 1971, eight years after Pacem in Terris, Blessed Pope Paul VI referred to the ecological concern as “a tragic consequence” of unchecked human activity: “Due to an ill-considered exploitation of nature, humanity runs the risk of destroying it and becoming in turn a victim of this degradation”.2 He spoke in similar terms to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations about the potential for an “ecological catastrophe under the effective explosion of industrial civilization”, and stressed “the urgent need for a radical change. Pope Francis. (to be continued)

pdf NEWSLETTER MON 20th MAY 2019 SUN 26th MAY 2019 Popular

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1. “Laudato si’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”. 2. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters. Nothing in this world is indifferent to us. Pope Francis. (to be continued)

pdf NEWSLETTER MON 13th MAY 2019 SUN 19th MAY 2019 Popular

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The story to cap all stories today: The story of the Good Shepherd. Probably many of us have no appreciation of what it is to be a shepherd. A few of us may have a dog or a cat or a gerbil, to whom we give much love and care. And more importantly they bring the best out of us. That's what Jesus wants to do for us, get the best out of us. He spoils us by feeding us, teaching us, caring for us, dying for us. Loving us into being, so that we may in turn love each other. Why people have problems with Jesus, I will never understand. Problems with Jesus are really problems with loving. Because Jesus is love. Prayer is love and love is faith.

pdf NEWSLETTER MON 6th MAY 2019 SUN 12th MAY 2019 Popular

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The Easter gospels are full of humanity and generosity. Two powerful gifts in any person. Jesus’ concern for Thomas last week: Touch me Thomas, look here are the holes. Today, millions of fish. Sadly most people only see the miracle. Jesus is worried about the disciples going home to their hungry wives and children. "Daddy, daddy, the children are all excited, daddy is coming home and they are going to eat. He probably sold some fish and bought some sweets.....but...... sorry children a bad night, no food again today. And not just a few fish, millions. The joy of the Gospel is a true joy to possess and be part of. Thank you Jesus.

pdf NEWSLETTER MON 29th APRIL 2019 SUN 5th MAY 2019 Popular

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When we try to own beauty we corrupt it. That's what I love about Thomas; he did not try to own Jesus. He had a healthy doubt. Lord deliver me from people who say they know Jesus. They not only know Him, they possess Him. The Buddhists say that when you find the Buddha, kill him. Jesus lives and our faith lives in a healthy doubt. "Dark night of the soul." Mother Theresa suffered mega doubt all her life. But in that she remained faithful and committed. I have mega doubts but the community is my strength and support. Thank you. Thomas cut himself off for a while and lost it. But he came back and found it.

pdf NEWSLETTER MON 22nd APRIL 2019 SUN 28th APRIL 2019 Popular

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For those who believe, no proof is needed. For those who do not believe no proof is adequate. Today's feast of the Resurrection is not on trial. You are. The Resurrection has survived for 2000 years and will for many more. Where will you be? Looking into the depths of your heart, what do you find? You see the miracle of healing comes from inside. Happiness is an internal job. How many times has our body healed itself. Remember, the only thing that separates you from God is the thought that you are separated - Your own inadequacies. Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful. Golf does not have to be perfect to be wonderful.

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This is the week of all weeks in the life of the Church: - The death and resurrection of Jesus – Which we should try to imitate in our own lives. Try to be part of the whole week, it is a unit.

pdf NEWSLETTER MON 8th APRIL 2019 SUN 14th APRIL 2019 Popular

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Today Paul has a terrific surge of energy, or inspiration: "Nothing can outweigh the supreme advantage of knowing Jesus Christ." If only we could make this view our own. For most of us, it will not happen overnight, it may be a slog, but a worthwhile slog. And Paul gives us the secret for those who are interested: Enjoy life, but see it for what it really is, enjoy it and help others to enjoy it. The perfection that comes not from the law, but from knowing Jesus Christ and the power that comes from being filled with His spirit. Yes anyone who claims to be Christian should have moved beyond the law of having to do things and be driven by a love and care for people; that we wish for them, all of them, what we wish for ourselves. The joy is in the journey.

pdf NEWSLETTER MON 1st APRIL 2019 SUN 7th APRIL 2019 Popular

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An ambassador is someone who represents his or her country. Ideally they do not have opinions of their own. They represent their country and should carry the opinions of their government with them, pushing the good of their own country. Paul tells us we are ambassadors for Christ. We represent Christ. An awesome task, but unlike countries’ ambassadors, wherever we go Christ goes with us. This is the real difference, because when Christ is with us we are capable of achieving great things. Paul goes further and says we are reconciling ambassadors. That is the great contribution of the Catholic Church: To be reconcilers in the world. Pope Francis is the master: A Christ like ambassador, going into the most dangerous and controversial countries, facing the challenges of their often hostile people and usually coming up smelling of roses. Yes truly, because Christ goes with him. He is also with you and I and across the table with your partner. Don't disappoint Him.