Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Resurrection and faith

Easter Sunday is a celebration of Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead.

Christ is risen is part of the Easter message. His prophecy is fulfilled.

 

The Resurrection of Christ on that first Easter Sunday saw the disciples at first doubting and then, when Christ appeared to them, believing. It shows us that faith is indeed a gift. In this meditation we use passages of Scripture to consider:

 

  • The great importance of the virtue of faith
  • How faith is a gift that many have, some have never had and others have lost
  • That we should thank God for the gift of faith
  • That we should do everything possible to strengthen our faith and help it grow, especially by praying with faith and receiving the sacraments regularly

Christ our Light

Resurrection of Christ

Christ’s resurrection on the first Easter Sunday

At a time of much spiritual darkness and evil in the world, the light of the risen Christ at Easter brings light and hope to all. In this meditation we consider:

  • Christ’s resurrection and appearance to Mary Magdalene
  • The risen Christ has overcome the world
  • We have received the light at Baptism but can lose it through sin
  • We should return to the light through confession and help others to do so
  • We should keep our light burning and make it grow ever more brightly
  • We should share our light with many others

Meditations are now on iTunes

After much time and the effort of a friend, I am happy to report that all the meditations on my blog have been accepted and are now available on iTunes.

In order to access and download them onto your device, you first need to download iTunes from the iTunes site. Then you can put John Flader into your search and over 50 meditations will appear, to be downloaded as you wish.

I wish you a happy (truly) and fruitful Lent.

Launch of “Journey into Truth”

We recently held a very successful launch of my DVD series and book on the Catholic faith “Journey into Truth“. I thought you might like to see this article on it from the website of the “Catholic Weekly”. I’ve added links to some web pages, which are not included in the original article.

New series offers answers to the search for meaning
 
Printable version
By Robert Hiini

26 November, 2014

Fr John Flader at the launch of Journey into Truth.

A new faith resource created by Fr John Flader of Question Time column fame has received glowing praise from some of Australia’s most senior bishops.

Journey into Truth, a DVD series and its accompanying book, were launched at the Catholic Adult Education Centre in Lidcome on 18 November by the Catholic Education Office’s director of religious education and evangelisation, Anthony Cleary.

Based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the series features Fr Flader delivering 24 half-hour talks on the creed, the sacraments, liturgy, morals and prayer, accompanied by illustrative and immersive visuals similar to Fr Robert Barron’s popular Catholicism series.

Originally put together with Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults groups in mind, the resource was recognised as having many more potential applications at its launch, including for both long-term and relatively new Catholics, as well as Catholic educators.

In the preface to the book, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, then the Bishop of Parramatta, said he “highly recommended” the resource, joining Archbishop Julian Porteous of Hobart, Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett of Lismore, and Bishop Peter Elliot, Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne in lauding the work.

“Anyone wanting to obtain “the full measure of knowledge of God” needs to study the Catholic faith, not just to assent to it”, Archbishop Fisher wrote.

“St Thomas thought God had made us curious: we always want to learn more; the more we know, the more we realise we don’t know. Faith aids our search for the truth about God, the universe, ourselves; it is a “taste of that knowledge which will make us happy in the life to come” and once you’ve got a taste for it you will want more!

“Fr Flader’s book, Journey into Truth, is a very good place to start.”

Growing in the faith was not just a journey, but a journey “into truth” and “not mere opinion or sentiments”, Fr Flader said at the launch.

“Our faith must rest on the solid foundation of truth, of the truths of faith. But truth is not only propositions to be believed. It is also, and especially, a person to be known and loved: Jesus Christ, ‘the way, the truth and the life’.”

The idea for the project came from Roman Vedat, director of its publisher, Arts Media Productions, and Michael Mendieta of Campion College who was working with Mr Vedat.

It was created in close collaboration with the then-director of Sydney’s catechumenate office, Cathy Dennis and benefited from the suggestions of the diocese of Parramatta’s current apostolic administrator and then-Vicar General, Fr Peter Williams.

Speaking to The Catholic Weekly earlier this week, Fr John Flader said the project had taken up “every spare minute” of his free time since 2011 writing and filming the scripts for the video.

Fifteen lessons in, Fr Flader and the small production team behind Journey into Truth decided they had discovered a better way of structuring the project and made the tough decision to start filming all over again.

Fr Flader said there was never any thought of giving up. “We weren’t tempted. We thought that this would do a lot of good,” he said. “Everybody is looking for God in the sense that the intellect is seeking truth: ultimate answers to ultimate questions like ‘where did the world come from?’; ‘is there life after death?’; and then the will seeks the good and longs for happiness.

“Everybody wants to be happy and the ultimate source of happiness is the infinite good, who is God,” Fr Flader said, describing that inbuilt longing, coupled with the series’ discussion of science and the world as “a bridge to the non-believer”.

Fr Flader said that while the series does shirk from discussing vexed moral issues such as adultery – in marriage and in the heart – and abortion, he was always mindful in his presentation of God’s love for sinners, and his ready forgiveness for those who seek it.

Journey into Truth book and DVDs are available from Catholic bookshops.

 

The origin of Lent

We are now in the great season of Lent and we all have a general idea of what it is about. But how many know the history of this season and how the practice has changed over the years? I post here one of my columns in the Catholic Weekly on the topic, taken from my book Question Time 1. 

143. The origin of Lent

I have always been curious to know the origin of Lent. For example, where does the name come from and for how long has the Church been celebrating it?

The name Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word Lencten, meaning springtime. The application of that name to our season of preparation for Easter is undoubtedly due to the fact that Lent is celebrated in Spring in the northern hemisphere. Nonetheless, it remains an appropriate name since, if Lent is lived well, it represents a true springtime, a new growth, in the spiritual life.

The celebration of Lent goes back to the very beginnings of the Church. In fact, St Leo the Great in the fifth century speaks of it having been instituted by the apostles. Traditionally, it has always been lived with a greater attention to the life of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. In the first three centuries the period of fasting was limited to one or two days, or a week at most. The first mention of 40 days was in the ecumenical Council of Nicaea (325), but by the end of the fourth century the custom was widespread in both East and West. The number of 40 days is obviously taken from Christ’s 40 days of fasting and prayer before beginning his public life.

As regards the symbolism, St Augustine writes that the season of Lent symbolises this present life on earth, with its trials and tribulations, and the season of Easter symbolises the joys of the life to come.

In the East, the period of fasting was spread over seven weeks, with both Saturday and Sunday exempt from fasting, whereas in the West the period was six weeks, with Sundays exempt, leaving only 36 days of fasting. It was in the seventh century in the West that Lent was begun four days earlier, on Ash Wednesday, so that there would be 40 days of fasting as there are today. Sundays are not included in the 40 days.

From the fifth century on, the fast was very strict. Only one meal was allowed, toward evening. Meat was not allowed, even on Sundays. Flesh meat and fish, and in most places eggs and dairy products were absolutely forbidden. This is still the case in the Eastern tradition, where no vertebrates or products of vertebrates may be eaten, ruling out meat, fish, eggs, cheese, milk, etc.

Over time the rules of fasting gradually evolved. Eventually, a smaller meal was allowed during the day to keep up one’s strength for manual labour. Eating fish was allowed, and later eating meat was also allowed through the week except on Ash Wednesday and Fridays. Dispensations were given for eating dairy products if a pious work was performed, and eventually this rule was relaxed altogether. However, the abstinence from even dairy products led to the practice of blessing Easter eggs and eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday.

Before the Second Vatican Council, adults fasted on all the 40 days of Lent, eating only one full meal and two smaller meals, and they abstained from meat on Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of Lent. At present in Australia the required penance has been reduced to fasting and abstinence from meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Meat may be eaten on the other Fridays of Lent.

Nonetheless, the faithful are encouraged to choose from the areas of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, so that they may unite themselves with Christ on all the 40 days of Lent in preparation for the celebration of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday.

The name Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word Lencten, meaning springtime. The application of that name to our season of preparation for Easter is undoubtedly due to the fact that Lent is celebrated in Spring in the northern hemisphere. Nonetheless, it remains an appropriate name since, if Lent is lived well, it represents a true springtime, a new growth, in the spiritual life.

The celebration of Lent goes back to the very beginnings of the Church. In fact, St Leo the Great in the fifth century speaks of it having been instituted by the apostles. Traditionally, it has always been lived with a greater attention to the life of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. In the first three centuries the period of fasting was limited to one or two days, or a week at most. The first mention of 40 days was in the ecumenical Council of Nicaea (325), but by the end of the fourth century the custom was widespread in both East and West. The number of 40 days is obviously taken from Christ’s 40 days of fasting and prayer before beginning his public life.

As regards the symbolism, St Augustine writes that the season of Lent symbolises this present life on earth, with its trials and tribulations, and the season of Easter symbolises the joys of the life to come.

In the East, the period of fasting was spread over seven weeks, with both Saturday and Sunday exempt from fasting, whereas in the West the period was six weeks, with Sundays exempt, leaving only 36 days of fasting. It was in the seventh century in the West that Lent was begun four days earlier, on Ash Wednesday, so that there would be 40 days of fasting as there are today. Sundays are not included in the 40 days.

From the fifth century on, the fast was very strict. Only one meal was allowed, toward evening. Meat was not allowed, even on Sundays. Flesh meat and fish, and in most places eggs and dairy products were absolutely forbidden. This is still the case in the Eastern tradition, where no vertebrates or products of vertebrates may be eaten, ruling out meat, fish, eggs, cheese, milk, etc.

Over time the rules of fasting gradually evolved. Eventually, a smaller meal was allowed during the day to keep up one’s strength for manual labour. Eating fish was allowed, and later eating meat was also allowed through the week except on Ash Wednesday and Fridays. Dispensations were given for eating dairy products if a pious work was performed, and eventually this rule was relaxed altogether. However, the abstinence from even dairy products led to the practice of blessing Easter eggs and eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday.

Before the Second Vatican Council, adults fasted on all the 40 days of Lent, eating only one full meal and two smaller meals, and they abstained from meat on Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of Lent. At present in Australia the required penance has been reduced to fasting and abstinence from meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Meat may be eaten on the other Fridays of Lent.

Nonetheless, the faithful are encouraged to choose from the areas of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, so that they may unite themselves with Christ on all the 40 days of Lent in preparation for the celebration of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Pope Francis and a Eucharistic miracle

With the feast of Corpus Christi just passed, I offer this account of a Eucharistic miracle that Pope Francis approved when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

The Pope and a Eucharistic miracle

Someone told me that Pope Francis had approved a Eucharistic miracle when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. Is this true? Can you tell me anything about the miracle?

It is true that Pope Francis, when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, ordered an investigation into a Eucharistic miracle that had taken place in a parish church in 1996 and he later approved veneration of the host in a chapel in the church. The facts of what took place are narrated by Ron Tesoriero in his book Reason to Believe, published in 2007.

On 18 August 1996 a priest in Buenos Aires was shown a host that had been left in a candle holder in the church. Because it was very dirty, rather than consume it he placed it in a bowl of water and put it in the tabernacle. Eight days later on 26 August he went to do his prayer in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of the church, using a letter Pope John Paul II had written to the Bishop of Liège, Belgium, on the occasion of the 750th anniversary of the first celebration of the feast of Corpus Christi in that diocese (cf. J. Flader, Question Time 2, Connor Court 2012, q. 271). On opening the tabernacle he saw that the host had turned red and a blood-like substance was coming out of it. This increased over the following weeks.

He informed the then Auxiliary Bishop Jorge Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, who asked a professional photographer to take photos of the host, first on 26 August and then again on 6 September. Later, as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he asked a Bolivian-born professor, Dr Ricardo Castañon, to conduct an investigation into what had happened. In October 1999 Ron Tesoriero went with representatives of the Archbishop to witness Dr Castañon removing a small piece of the host and some of the liquid and transferring them to a test tube, which was then sealed and labeled for forensic analysis.

In April 2004 Ron and Mike Willesee, both Australians, went to New York with the sample to have it examined by Dr Frederick Zugibe, a heart specialist and forensic pathologist. Without knowing the origin of the sample, Dr Zugibe looked into his microscope and described what he saw. He said that he was looking at human tissue, from the heart and specifically from the left ventricle, which pumps the blood. Moreover, the heart was inflamed and there had been recent injury to it, as in cases where someone has been beaten severely around the chest.

Even more remarkably, he could see white blood cells, which indicate injury and inflammation. There were many of them and they were all intact. He said these cells can only exist if they are fed by a living body, and that the person from whom the sample was taken was alive at the moment the tissue was collected. When Mike asked him how long the white blood cells would remain vital if they were in human tissue that had been placed in water he answered: “Oh, they would dissolve within minutes and no longer exist.” All this was caught on film.

Mike then asked him, “What would you say if I were to tell you that the source of this sample had been placed in ordinary tap water for a month, then stored for three years in distilled water before a piece was taken and fixed for examination?” The answer was “Absolutely unbelievable. No explanation can be given by science.”

“And what would you say if I told you that the source of this specimen was a piece of wheaten bread, a communion host?” After some hesitation as he took in this extraordinary revelation about what he had just examined, Dr Zugibe answered, “How or why a communion host could change its character and become living human flesh and blood is outside the ability of science to answer.”

Indeed, it is. But occasionally God allows miracles to take place to strengthen our faith. One such miracle took place in Bolsena, Italy, in 1263, when a host that had just been consecrated in Mass by a priest who doubted the Real Presence began to ooze blood when the priest held it up for the veneration of the faithful. Following this miracle, Pope Urban IV instituted the feast of Corpus Christi a year later, in 1264 (cf. J. Flader, Question Time 1, q. 150). Pope Urban was originally from Liège, where the bishop had instituted a diocesan feast of Corpus Christi in 1246.

It is significant that on the day the host in Buenos Aires was discovered to have turned red, the priest was doing his prayer with the Pope’s letter commemorating the institution of the diocesan feast of Corpus Christi 750 years before.