Tag Archives: faith

Coping with Covid

With the Covid-19 pandemic rapidly spreading around the world, many people are worried and anxious. How should they react in the face of growing restrictions on their movement and activities and the uncertainties created when around them many are becoming sick and some are dying? In this meditation we use texts of St Augustine, St John Paul II, St Josemaria and Pope Francis to consider four approaches which should always characterise us when we encounter suffering:

  • Faith and trust in God, who has not abandoned us and knows what we are going through
  • Prayer, since God will always hear and answer us
  • Forgetting ourselves and helping those around us
  • Hope and Joy, which we can radiate to others

 

The wedding feast of Cana

Our Lord’s first miracle at the wedding feast of Cana has much to teach us. In this meditation we use texts of St Josemaria, Tertullian and St John Vianney to consider some of these lessons:

  • The beauty of Christian marriage
  • The importance of inviting Jesus to our wedding
  • Our Lady’s motherly concern at Cana and in our own lives
  • The power of Mary’s intercession
  • The importance of doing whatever Jesus asks us
  • Jesus’ power to do miracles today if we ask him with faith
  • The witness of our own faith to those around us

Pearl of great price – our faith

A pearl was a sought after jewel in the time of Christ, hence considered of great value.

Our Lord uses many parables to explain the kingdom of God, among them that of the merchant who finds a pearl of great price and goes and sells all he owns to buy it. For us that pearl is our faith in God, the light that gives meaning to our existence, that shows us the way to happiness both here and hereafter. In this meditation we consider:

  • the importance of faith
  • the different ways we come to faith
  • how to protect our faith from being weakened or lost
  • how to strengthen our faith

Mary, teacher of faith

nativity-scene showing Jesus with Mary and Joseph

Mary and Joseph with the newly born infant, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Faith is one of the most important virtues and is always a gift from God. In this meditation we consider that:

  • Our Lady throughout her life teaches us how to live this virtue
  • We need faith both to believe in the truths revealed by God and also to believe that nothing is impossible with God
  • Faith helps us to know that God is with us in the trials of life
  • Faith gives meaning to life

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

Meditation “The light of Easter”

The resurrection of Christ brings light into a world in darkness. In this meditation we consider how we can respond to this gift of God in three ways:

  • Accepting the light
  • Keeping the light alive and making it grow
  • Sharing the light with others

Meditation on the family in God’s plan

St John Paul II wrote that “The history of mankind, the history of salvation, passes by way of the family.”  In this meditation we reflect on the importance of the family in God’s plan and on how we can improve our family life so that we grow in holiness through it and help our children to do the same. We will consider:

  • Why family life is so important
  • How we can celebrate significant occasions together
  • How we can find God in the ordinary duties of family life
  • How husband and wife can grow in their relationship
  • How we can form our children humanly and spiritually
  • The importance of grandparents in the family

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.

 

New DVDs on the Catholic faith

DVD Cover final

 

Finally, after three years and hundreds of hours in the making, my book and DVDs of instructions on the Catholic faith are out. Entitled Journey into Truth, they consist of 24 half-hour talks on the faith based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, with beautiful high-definition film clips, images and quotations to make the study of the faith very attractive. They follow the Catechism closely and comprehensively, with nine talks on the Creed, five on the Sacraments, eight on Moral life in Christ and two on prayer. To watch a trailer of the DVDs go to artsmp.com.au.

The book, with a Foreword by Bishop Anthony Fisher, Bishop of the diocese of Parramatta and recently appointed Archbishop of Sydney, contains the full text of the talks plus questions for discussion and points to remember. It is published by Connor Court in Australia, the U.S. and the U.K. The DVDs are produced by Arts Media Productions in Sydney.

The program is ideal for RCIA and other parish faith formation groups, youth groups, schools, catechists and families.

Available from book stores and other outlets.

 

Is heaven real?

In these times of widespread lack of faith in God, many people wonder whether there is really life after death. I post here two answers to the question from my recent columns in Catholic newspapers. The second one relates the life-changing near-death experiences of Dr Eben Alexander, a U.S. neurosurgeon, and Gloria Polo, a Colombian orthodontist who was struck by lightning and “saw” the reality of life after death.

Is heaven real?
I have a friend who is very sceptical about life after death and would like some sort of proof that heaven is real. He says no one has ever been in heaven and come back to earth to tell us about it. What can I tell him?

When it comes to “proof” we have to be very careful. What we can give is strong arguments for the existence of life after death, but these may or may not convince the other person. It is the same with the existence of God, where in one sense his existence is staring us in the face in his wonderful work of creation, but this may not convince a sceptic or an atheist. The most convincing “proof” for the existence of life after death is arriving there and seeing that it really exists. But then it may be too late!
Coming back to your question, the following considerations may prove helpful. The first is that there are people who have been in heaven and have come to earth to tell us about it. The most important is Jesus Christ himself, who spoke often of life after death, of judgment, heaven and hell. But why should a sceptic believe that Jesus is God who has come to earth? After all, he was the son of a carpenter from Nazareth and he died crucified in Jerusalem.
Well, we have multiple testimonies about Jesus in some very ancient writings, written only some twenty or thirty years after his death. They are, of course, the Gospels. They tell us that Jesus not only claimed to be God but showed it by such remarkable feats as raising three people from the dead, curing a man born blind and prophesying his own death and resurrection, which came to pass.
St Paul too had a vision of heaven (cf. 2 Cor 12:2-4) and came back to tell us about it. He found heaven indescribably beautiful and could only write: “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9).
If the sceptic wants more recent “proof” of heaven from someone who has been there, we can tell him about Our Lady, who died in the first century and has appeared on earth numerous times since then and has brought about miracles that admit of no human explanation. One thinks of the image she left at Guadalupe in Mexico in 1531 imprinted miraculously on a cactus fibre cloak, which has baffled scientists as to its origin and preservation, not to mention some of the details on it. Or Mary’s apparitions in Fatima in 1917, where she told the three children several months beforehand that on October 13 she would work a great miracle. In fact on that day the miracle of the sun was seen by some 70,000 people. If there is no life after death or heaven, how is it that someone who died two thousand years before can appear on earth and bring about such prodigious works?
One can also speak about the numerous miracles approved by the Church, which came about in answer to prayers to deceased people. Every beatification and canonisation , with few exceptions, requires two authenticated miracles and some of these are truly remarkable. If there is no life after death, how is it that prayers to a person who no longer exists can have any effect?
And then there are the numerous testimonies of people who have died, or almost died, who have experienced the judgment and have seen heaven and hell. One of the most remarkable and well-known is that of Gloria Polo, a Colombian dentist who in May, 1995, was struck by lightning, suffered a cardiac arrest and was badly burned inside and out. She saw her lifeless body on a stretcher in the operating room. She had died in mortal sin and was taken by demons to hell to see what she deserved for her sins. Then she saw the terrible suffering of the souls in purgatory and finally her own judgment, in which she was condemned to hell. The sins that condemned her most included aiding and participating in abortion, receiving holy communion in a state of mortal sin, fortune-telling, and speaking evil of priests. She was given a second chance and came back to life on condition that she share her experience with others. She has done this all over the world and on the internet, writing her account in the book Struck by Lightning: Death, Judgment and Conversion.
Yes, there is life after death. There is a judgment, hell, purgatory and heaven and we should do everything possible to prepare ourselves for it. Now, before it is too late.

Near-death experiences
We often read of people who have seemingly died and then come back to life, who relate what they saw before they recovered. Can we take these accounts as credible evidence of life after death?

Near-death experiences are very personal and can be considered something akin to private revelations in the sense that they need not be believed by others, and they should be judged carefully on the merits of each one. Some are clearly more credible than others. Some are clearly not consistent with what the Church teaches on life after death while others present no problems.
Since even canonised saints have had visions of heaven, hell and purgatory, and some have had near-death experiences, we certainly cannot reject them out of hand. One example is that of St Josemaría Escrivá. On 27 April 1954, after suffering from a severe case of diabetes for ten years, he suddenly collapsed and appeared to have died. After ten minutes he regained consciousness and was thereafter completely cured of the diabetes, something which is medically inexplicable. While he lay there he saw his whole life pass by very quickly, as if in a film, and he was able to ask God to forgive his failings.
There are literally thousands of people who have reported similar experiences, and there are dozens of books currently available which record them. Two of the most well-known are those of Dr Eben Alexander and Dr Gloria Polo.
Dr Alexander, a neurosurgeon who has taught at various universities including Harvard Medical School, is the author of the best-selling Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife, published in 2012. In it he relates how in 2008, while in an induced coma after suffering meningitis, he was taken into a state where he experienced what we would call heaven and he encountered God. Before that experience he could not reconcile his knowledge of neuroscience with belief in God, heaven or even the soul as something different from the brain. His experience completely transformed him, and today he believes that true health can only be achieved when we acknowledge that God and the soul are real and that death is not the end of our existence but only the passage into a different form of life.
Dr Gloria Polo is a Colombian orthodontist whose life was transformed radically when she was struck by lightning in May 1995 while walking on the campus of the National University of Bogota with her 23-year old cousin, who was killed instantly. She went into cardiac arrest and her body was badly burned, both inside and out. Although she had been attending Sunday Mass, she had not been to confession since she was thirteen, she was using an intrauterine device for contraception, she had had an abortion and had paid for others to have them, and she lived a very materialistic, self-centered and ungodly life. What is more, she had told others that devils do not exist and even that God did not exist.
While her body lay on the operating table, she began to see devils coming after her and she found herself falling down a tunnel into hell, with people young and old screaming in pain and grinding their teeth. She saw that the sins that condemned her most included aiding and participating in abortion, receiving holy communion in a state of mortal sin, fortune-telling, and speaking evil of priests.
In that state, she also saw the great suffering of the souls in purgatory. Then she passed through a beautiful tunnel of light to a place of great joy and peace where she was able to embrace her deceased relatives. She also experienced her own judgment, seeing her whole life played out as in a movie with all her actions, good and bad, and the consequences of them. She understood how God regards sexual immorality, abortion and methods of contraception that cause abortions, as well as how he looked on her materialism, her excessive concern for what she wore and how she looked, and her lack of faith.
She was given a second chance in order to amend her ways and to tell others what she had experienced. She has written her account in the book Struck by Lightning: Death, Judgement and Conversion. While we are not required by the Church to believe accounts such as these, common sense tells us that we would be very foolish to ignore them.