Nos autem gloriári: a pastoral epistle for Roodmas 2013

In Exaltatione Sanctae Crucis



“We should glory… in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, for he is our salvation, our life and our resurrection; through Him we are saved and made free.” [Galatians 6:14] So began the Mass this morning for today’s feast. But how often do Christians really “glory” in the Cross?

Yesterday I posted on my Facebook profile a horrifying picture of a little girl beheaded by one of the factions in Syria to which one of the commentators said, “Dreadful. Why would you post such vileness?” To which I responded, “… because so many people think that by ignoring it or hiding it, they need not think about it… let alone do anything about it… How often was this true in the last century such that Fascism, Nazism and Communism rose to great power through fear! Truth knows no shame, guilt is known only by those who deny Truth and hide behind sin and evil.”

I should add that I had placed a warning “those of a nervous disposition look away” but I wanted people to see, to recognise, to know what is actually going on in Syria, because even though its “on the news” so many people are desensitised to reality living in the easily “turn on and offable” virtual reality of TV, films and the internet and the distractions of their own lives and interests. (I hasten to add that my Facebook is not viewable to anybody under 18 and only people I have vetted can view it.)

Sadly too many Christians feel the same way about the Crucifixion. So often I hear Christians, particularly protestants, questioning or even rebuking us Catholics for using Crucifix’s rather than plain Crosses. “It symbolises the resurrection” or “we don’t focus on death” they say, to justify their use of “a cross without a body on it”, an “empty” cross… Yet in so doing they are actually in danger of denigrating rather than glorifying the Cross…

To focus on the resurrection and an “empty cross” is to effectively deny the ultimate expression of the love of God in Christ on the Cross, i.e. His death. The resurrection certainly is important, it is what gives us hope and indeed faith – but it is Christ’s death that expresses the love of God. The resurrection is the afterglow of that love, it is the aftereffect, the byproduct, but it is ultimately yet to be realised fully by us until that “last day” [cf John 6:40]. However, it is the Lord’s death that we are called to “proclaim” until His coming again [1 Cor. 11:26], it is the emulation of His love that He charges us to live by [cf Luke 9:23] and it is the way in which His Gospel will be made known [cf John 13:34-35].


Sanitising the Cross is rather like ignoring the nasty pictures of dead foetuses and children slaughtered on a daily basis by a cruel world driven by greed, selfishness and sin. “Out of sight, out of mind” and despite overtures of sympathy and self-righteousness, how few people speak up to do anything about it. I remember well the reactions to Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” in which nothing is spared or left to the imagination concerning the real horror of flagellation and crucifixion.

Who could not fail to be provoked or to look away from the director’s portrayal of the barbed hooks in the whips tearing at the flesh of Christ… or how the wood of the cross was dripping and stained with the blood of Christ against a background of Jerusalem…? Yet that was the reality of what Christ endured and by today’s standards is rather tame compared to youtube video’s of Sharia law beheadings and games of gore and war played by a lot of adults as well as children…

You see, my point is, that denying the realities of sin and evil only serves to shield the guilty and protect the wrongdoer… As I wrote a couple of posts ago, “True charity is loving unselfishly, sacrificially – not just appreciating what makes us happy or contented or the reflected self-satisfaction of providing the same for another…” it involves sacrifice. When we hide our eyes from the reality of how God’s love was made manifest for us by Christ on the Cross… we ultimately deny His sacrifice, deny His love and make ourselves contemptible and complicit with the Devil in disguising, protecting and distracting people from the love of God… sanitising and covering up the crucified body of Christ is to cover up the ultimate expression of God’s love.

For us to truly “glory in the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ” requires us not to hide His love, but to live and display as well as demonstrate His love for us. For just as we received this life through pain and suffering (childbirth), so too was the opportunity to be reborn into eternal life (baptism) gained for us through pain and suffering. To embrace the Cross is to embrace the love of God – next time you see “Jesus on a cross” demonstrate your love for Him and explain His love on the Cross to another for… “through Him we are saved and made free.”

Sanguis Christi, in Cruce effusus, salva nos.


A Litany of Syrian Saints

For the day of fasting and prayers for peace called for by Pope Francis tomorrow (Sept 7), some may like to use this Litany of Syrian Saints and implore the prayers of the saints native to the region, the memory of whose witness and example grew the church and has encouraged the faithful there for centuries…

The Monastery of St. Moses existed from the middle of the sixth century, and belonged to the Syrian Antiochian Rite. The present monastery church was built in the Islamic year 450 (1058 AD), according to Arabic inscriptions on the walls, which begin with the words: "In the name of God the Merciful, the Compassionate". The frescoes go back to the 11th and 12th centuries. In 1984, restoration work began through a common initiative of the Syrian State, the local Church, and a group of Arab and European volunteers. The restoration of the monastery building was completed in 1994 thanks to cooperation between the Italian and Syrian States.
The Monastery of St. Moses existed from the middle of the sixth century, and belonged to the Syrian Antiochian Rite. The present monastery church was built in the Islamic year 450 (1058 AD), according to Arabic inscriptions on the walls, which begin with the words: “In the name of God the Merciful, the Compassionate”. The frescoes go back to the 11th and 12th centuries. In 1984, restoration work began through a common initiative of the Syrian State, the local Church, and a group of Arab and European volunteers. The restoration of the monastery building was completed in 1994 thanks to cooperation between the Italian and Syrian States.
According to local tradition St. Moses the Abyssinian was the son of a king of Ethiopia. He refused to accept the crown, honors, and marriage, and instead he looked towards the kingdom of God. He traveled to Egypt and then to the Holy Land. Afterward, he lived as a monk in Qara, Syria, and then as a hermit not far from there in the valley of what is today the monastery. There he was martyred by Byzantine soldiers.

Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison.
Christe eleison, Christe eleison.
Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison.
Christe audi nos, Christe audi nos.
Christe exaudi nos, Christe exaudi nos.

God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
God the Holy Ghost,
Holy Trinity, one God,

Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God,
Holy Virgin of Virgins,
St Michael,
St Gabriel,
St Raphael,
All ye Holy Angels and Archangels,
St John the Baptist,
St Joseph,

All ye Holy Patriarchs and Prophets, pray for us.

Blessed Peter the Apostle, and first Patriarch of Antioch, pray for us.
Blessed Paul the Apostle, born in Tarsus,
Blessed Paul the Apostle, blinded and converted on the way to Damascus,
Blessed Paul the Apostle, enlightened and baptised at the Street called Straight,
Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, models of humility and justice at Antioch,
Blessed Luke the Evangelist,
St Ananias of Damscus, laying thy holy hands on Blessed Paul the Apostle,
St Manahen, disciple of the Lord and foster-brother to Herod Antipas,
All ye holy Syrian disciples of the Lord,
All ye holy Syrian innocents,

St Apollinaris, pray for us.
St Felix of Nola,
St Abraham of Arbela,
St Dorotheus of Tyre,
St Eusebius of Samosata,
St Anthony of Antioch,
Fr Francois Mourad,[1]
All ye holy Syrian Hieromartyrs,

Ss Victor and Corona, pray for us.
Ss Galation and Episteme,
Ss Cosmas & Damian,
St Romanus of Samosata,
And thy Holy Companions Ss Jacob, Philotheus, Hyperechius, Abibus, Julianus and Paregorius,
St Anastasius of Antioch, and thy Holy Companions Ss Julian, Celsus and Marcionilla,
Ss Romanus of Caesarea and Barulas,
St Andrew Stratelates and thy 2953 Holy Companions,
St Julian of Cilicia,
All ye Forty Soldier Martyrs of Sebaste,
St Eusiginius,
Ss Sergius and Bacchus,
All ye holy Syrian martyrs,

St Ephrem the Syrian, pray for us.
St John Chrysostom,
St John Damascene,
All ye holy Syrian teachers of the Faith,

St Evodius, pray for us.
St Ignatius of Antioch,
St Herodian of Antioch,
St Theophilus of Antioch,
St Serapion of Antioch,
St Asclepiades of Antioch,
St Babylas of Antioch,
St Eustathius the Great of Antioch,
St Anastasius II of Antioch,
All ye holy Patriarchs and Bishops of Antioch,

Pope St Anicetus, pray for us.
Pope St Sergius I,
Pope St Gregory III,

St Cyril of Jerusalem, pray for us.
St Sophronius of Jerusalem,
All ye holy Syrian Bishops and Patriarchs of Jerusalem,

St Maron, pray for us.
St John Maron, first patriarch of the Maronite Church,
St Mar Awtel,
St Domnina of Syria, Virgin and disciple of St Maron,
Blessed Abdel Moati, Francis and Raphael Massabki, and thy Holy Companions,

St Birillus, ordained by the Blessed Apostle Peter, pray for us.
Ss Philo and Agathopodes,
St Jacob of Nisibis,
St Frumentius, Apostle to Ethiopia,
St Maruthas, Father of the Syrian Church,
St Romanos the Melodist,
St Cosmas the Melodist, and foster-brother to the Damascene,

St Palladius the Desert Dweller, pray for us.
St Thalassius of Syria,
St Alexius of Rome, the Man of God,
St Simeon Stylites,
St Baradates,
St Auxentius of Bithynia,
St Simeon Stylites the Younger,
All ye holy Syrian Priests and Levites,
All ye holy Syrian Monks and Hermits,

St Philip of Agira, pray for us.
All ye holy Syrian Confessors,

St Serapia, pray for us.
St Margaret of Antioch,
Ss Domnina, Berenice and Prosdoce,
St Basilissa,
All ye holy Syrian Virgins and Widows,
All ye holy Syrian Saints of God, intercede for us.

Be merciful, spare us, O Lord.
Be merciful, graciously hear us, O Lord.
From all evil, deliver us, O Lord.
From all sin,
From thy wrath,
From sudden and unlooked for death,
From the snares of the devil,
From anger, and hatred, and every evil will,
From the spirit of fornication,
From plague, famine and war,
From revolution,
From all false prophets,
From the errors of Mohammed,
From jihad,
From infidelity, heresy, paganism and heathendom,
From everlasting death,

Through the mystery of thy holy Incarnation, deliver us, O Lord.
Through thy Coming,
Through thy Birth,
Through thy Baptism and holy Fasting,
Through thy Cross and Passion,
Through thy Death and Burial,
Through thy holy Resurrection,
Through thine admirable Ascension,
Through the coming of the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete,
Through thy apparition on the Road to Damascus,
Through thy rebuke and blinding there of proud Saul, enemy of thy Church, and persecutor of Christians,
Through thy conversion and enlightening there of this foe, and his elevation to the blessed and most glorious office of Apostle to the Gentiles,

Through his preaching of thy Holy Gospel,
Through his witness to thy Name amongst the Heathen,
Through his faithfulness to thee, even unto death,
Through the blood of thy Holy and Blessed Syrian martyrs,
In the day of judgment,

We sinners: we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst spare us: we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst pardon us: we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst bring us to true penance: we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst vouchsafe to govern and preserve thy holy Church: we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst vouchsafe to preserve our Apostolic Prelate, and all orders of the Church in holy religion: we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst vouchsafe to humble the enemies of holy Church: we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst vouchsafe to give peace and true concord to Christian kings, princes, and rulers: we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst vouchsafe to grant peace and unity to the whole Christian world: we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst call back to the unity of the Church all who have strayed from her fold, and to guide all unbelievers into the light of the Gospel: we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst vouchsafe to give discernment and wisdom to the rulers of nations: we beseech thee, hear us.

That thou wouldst vouchsafe to confirm and preserve us in thy holy service: we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst lift up our minds to heavenly desires: we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst render eternal blessings to all our benefactors: we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst deliver our souls, and the souls of our brethren, relations, and benefactors, from eternal damnation: we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst vouchsafe to comfort the afflicted people of thy Holy Syria, we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst vouchsafe to give and preserve the fruits of the earth: we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst vouchsafe to grant eternal rest to all the faithful departed: we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst vouchsafe graciously to hear us: we beseech thee, hear us.
Son of God: we beseech thee, hear us.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, parce nobis, Domine.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, exaudi nos Domine.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.

Christe audi nos, Christe audi nos.
Christe exaudi nos, Christe exaudi nos.

Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison.
Christe eleison, Christe eleison.
Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison.

Pater noster [in silence, until:]
Et ne nos inducas in tentationem, sed libera nos a malo.

Domine exaudi orationem meam, et clamor meus ad te veniat.


For world leaders:
O God, who taught the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant that, by the gift of the same Spirit, we may be always truly wise, and ever rejoice in his consolation. Through Christ our Lord. amen.

Against Persecutors of the Church:
O Lord, we beseech thee, crush the pride of our enemies and humble their insolence by the might of thy hand. Through our Lord Jesus Christ… amen.

In any tribulation:
O Almighty God, despise not thy people who cry out in their affliction: but for the glory of thy Name, be appeased and help those in trouble. Through our Lord Jesus Christ… amen.

For our enemies:
O God, who art the Lover and Guardian both of peace and charity, give to all our enemies peace and true charity, and grant the remission of all their sins, and by thy might deliver us from their snares. Through our Lord Jesus Christ… amen.

For the defence of the Church:
Almighty, everlasting God, in whose hand are the strength of man and the nation’s sceptre, see what help we Christians need: that the heathen peoples who trust in their savagery may be crushed by the power of thy right hand. Through our Lord Jesus Christ… amen.

In time of war:
O God, who bringest wars to nought and shieldest by thy power all who hope in thee, overthrowing those that assail them; help thy servants who implore thy mercy; so that the fierce might of their enemies may be brought low, and we may never cease to praise and thank thee. Through our Lord… amen.

For peace:
O God, from whom are holy desires, right counsels and just works; give to thy servants that which the world cannot give; that both, our hearts may be disposed to obey thy commandments, and also, the fear of enemies being removed, our times, by thy protection, may be peaceful. Through our Lord Jesus Christ… amen.

Domine exaudi orationem meam, et clamor meus ad te veniat.
Exaudiat nos omnipotens et misericors Dominus. Amen.
Et fidelium animae per misericordiam Dei, requiescant in pace. Amen.

Quid est amor?

Feria Quarta infra Hebdomadam XV post Octavam Pentecostes I. Septembris


What is love? So often we hear Christians suggesting that “love conquers all” in terms of understanding human relationships – the love of neighbour, the love of a partner – and that “love” outweighs all other considerations when it comes to understanding, interpreting or living God’s law. Thus some, with regard to Tradition, often suggest that “love” is a justifiable and reasonable excuse to put aside or ignore or change those doctrines that appear irreconcilable with the contemporary mindset or appreciation of “love”. In a recent article in The Daily Telegraph the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby is presented as implying that his or indeed “the Church’s” position on marriage ought to consider the changing attitudes of society towards this ancient institution and perhaps alter its position accordingly.

love-words-4_large1aThe truth however is that the Gospel is about living God’s law of love, not our own – there is more to Christianity than just “niceness” – and here we have to understand the limitations of language to realise there is a difference between “love” as most people refer to and understand it, and God’s “love” which is properly called “charity”. Sadly, so many people miss the link between “charity” which they understand as “doing good” and “charity” as the expression of the highest form of love; selfless, sacrificial love.

There are of course, many words for “love” that English does not translate and there are many forms of “love” the classical definitions being; Eros (ἔρως) refers to “intimate love” or romantic love; Storge (στοργή) to familial love; Philia (φιλία) to friendship as a kind of love; and Agape (ἀγάπη) refers to “selfless love”, or “charity” as it is translated in the Scriptures (from the Latin caritas, dearness). Sadly the common arrogance that passes for ignorance these days about such things, means that even among the presumed “well educated” there exists a dearth of knowledge and thus appreciation about the true nature and characteristics of “love”.

True charity is loving unselfishly, sacrificially – not just appreciating what makes us happy or contented or the reflected self-satisfaction of providing the same for another; true love gives without counting nor desiring a return. True charity must of itself produce true love, i.e. a love that is given away, without desire nor need of return. There are many ways to live “in love” but few to live in true charity. There are many ways to live out a loving relationship, but few that are truly sacrificial and not self-seeking. God doesn’t need our love in the sense that He requires it, but He desires us to live in true love with Him, not out of His own selfish satisfaction but in order that we might love truly as He loves us.


What examples are there of such true charity? The love of a parent for their child, such that they react instinctively to protect, comfort or nurture [Matthew 7:9; Ephesians 6:1-4]. One who lays down his life for his friends [John 15:13]. The love of one who forsakes the pleasures of this world for the next [Luke 9:23-25]. One who unstintingly gives of what he has in time, talents and possessions for others [Matthew 6:19-21; Acts 20:35; Hebrews 13:16]. God who created us to share in His love… the sacrifice of His Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ [John 3:16]!

What is not true charity i.e. love, though it may be considered loving? A romantic, sensual or dependent relationship where one relies, needs or wants another. These are the most common forms and concepts of “love” and “loving” that most people have. It is the way most people “search for love”, rate their relationships and qualify and quantify their existence; their sense of worth and happiness is dependent upon the satisfaction of themselves and/or their partners. Here we see that this is not “true love” i.e. true charity, a sacrificial unselfish love, no, rather it is ultimately self-serving; it is love for its own sake.

God the Holy Trinity created us as an expression of and to share in His love. In order for us to live true love we needs must follow His law of charity, i.e. to live as He loves us. In order to live as He loves us, we need to follow His commandments sacrificially both to return His love and to share His love. We need to shed the negative connotations in our minds about the word “commandment” and see them as “directions” or “guidelines” in order to quell our rebellious nature and appreciate them for what they truly are. Christ’s earthly life is our example of how to live in love with God and with each other. The Cross is Christ’s ultimate expression of such love; His life is given freely and sacrificially for the benefit of others. Such love has to be shared, true charity i.e. love, does not and cannot exist for its own sake.

1237125_1416032335276875_1656304495_nThe sanctification of holy Matrimony then is meant, not primarily for the purpose of self-love i.e. to bless a couple’s love one for another, but as the vehicle by which true charity may be expressed ultimately in imitation of the Holy Trinity through the creation of life. Which mirrors the Blessed Trinity? Love in and of itself, or love that produces love and life? Only a procreative relationship can produce love and life i.e. something more than itself to share with itself, like God. Holy Matrimony ought to be considered a “high calling” of Christian vocation because of this potentiality to produce life out of love after the nature of the Godhead.  It is certainly for this reason that  Jesus taught that marriage was between “a male and a female” (Matt 19:5).

No amount of anthropological deconstruction of marriage through the centuries by proponents of alternative forms can change the simple appreciation of Christ’s own words; no amount of Biblical exegesis either, can alter the plain understanding of His words. As the Incarnate Word made Flesh, Christ’s words are not open to the same type of cultural interpretation as one might apply to those of say Paul or one of the other epistle writers; contrary to what some would suggest, these are not the opinion of “a man” but of God incarnate Himself! It frankly matters not what civilisations through the centuries have thought of “as marriage” or indeed, what governments do now; the holy estate of Matrimony to which Christ refers is uniquely different from any human construct of relationships. It’s important to realise that marriage was made a Sacrament, not to bless what people do but to enable them to be blessed; i.e. to become God-like, meaning to love as He loves.

There are of course, those who would say that such an understanding of love and marriage is too idealistic! But to them I would say, it is no more idealistic than a vocation to celibacy or the religious life of chastity, poverty and obedience. Those who have so committed themselves spend considerable time in discernment – on average for most religious orders at least four or five years before final vows/solemn profession. I have never known a couple preparing for marriage to have spent anything like a similar amount of time in prayer, reflection and discernment before getting married! But Christian marriage is indeed a vocation, a “calling”, and the Church would do better to treat it as such and regard marriage preparation as a form of vocational discernment. “Natural attraction” or “instinct” may indeed provide the initial impetus for a relationship, but seeking God’s will for each individual member of a potential partnership in holy Matrimony should be taken as seriously as a vocation to the Sacred Ministry.


A common retort by some even Christians is, that the Church allows the marriage of women past child-bearing age or who are indeed “barren” meaning that they can’t physically give birth due to some biological defect. This would seem to suggest that such a marriage is not open to procreation – to a reflection of true charity and the issue thereof discussed above. However, key to the Church’s understanding is the possibility of issue. There are numerous examples in Scripture of “barren” women in marriages that were yet fruitful e.g. Elizabeth and Zechariah [Luke 1:13, 14], the parents of John the Baptist, afterall, “all things are possible with God” [Matthew 19:26]. Arguably, a couple committed to each other as the realisation of God’s will for their lives, may yet have issue if it be indeed God’s will for them and if it isn’t, then surely He has another purpose for their union and/or their lives which will be made plain if they remain committed and steadfast in their love of Him and each other. The point is that the elements necessary for the creation of life out of love are there – male and female. A couple being prepared for marriage, even supposedly past child-bearing age, ought to be instructed as to the proper purpose of holy Matrimony and themselves be open to the possibility, not by earnestly seeking such, but by simply applying themselves to the living out of true charity as God desires for them. What no couple considering holy Matrimony should think, is that their union is a blessing by God for them to enjoy each other carnally with or without issue!

There is obviously then quite a difference between “marriage” as a secular or societal institution and the Christian Sacrament of holy Matrimony; the two may often be synonymous, but they are not the same. Whilst historically there may have existed a symbiotic relationship, perfectly exampled by the “Church and State” scenarios of many Western countries, particularly here in England, nonetheless this was by accident of history rather than by deliberate Divine will. Before the conversion of Constantine, Christians were confecting the Sacrament of holy Matrimony without recourse to the State except as a societal approbation, a legal recognition of the marriage contracted. In many countries on the Continent this is still the case, a civil wedding usually precedes a religious ceremony where there is no “State religion”. This could well become the situation in England should the law be pressed further to prevent the legalisation of marriages in church in order to conform to the new State definition of marriage, despite promises from the Government to the contrary e.g. if the Church of England fails to alter its current position on who can marry. There are in fact, only a few denominations whose ministers can act as “registrars” anyway, a great many churches already use a Continental system.

Of course, other forms of relationship aside from holy Matrimony may express true charity (as exampled above), any relationship that expresses sacrificial or unselfish love whether between family, friends or “neighbour”. But “love making” the common euphemism for sexual intimacy should properly be confined within holy Matrimony for it is, put simply, the means of procreation of realising the potential to give life. There are some who suggest that eroticism is excusable because it is “natural” or because it is a “gift” from God that our bodies are made in such a way to enjoy such sensual pleasure. This is simply an excuse however, “just because” is never an argument – we are able to do all sorts of things with our bodies, including murder, that doesn’t mean we should! Scripture is very clear about Christians living lives of purity and chastity. “It is from within, from men’s hearts that evil intentions emerge: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice… All these evil things come from within and make a man unclean” (Mark 7:21-23; cf Matthew 15:19,20). Fornication is sexual intimacy outside of holy Matrimony and according to Christ – the Incarnate Word – is sinful.

To our sex obsessed world this may seem outrageous but Christ’s moral teachings have always been a stumbling block to those possessed by their sensuality and given over to their selfishness. St. Paul adds, “…you can be quite certain that no one who actually indulges in fornication or impurity or promiscuity… can inherit the kingdom of God” (Ephesians 5:3-7; also Galatians 5:19-21). “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace” [Romans 8:6]. Contemporary Christians who advocate the relaxation or ignorance of these teachings i.e. who suggest that extra-marital sex is “ok” risk the following, for “Whoever then shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven” [Matthew 5:19].

998865_549200345140533_1957020950_nReturning to the Archbishop of Canterbury, in the same article he is reported as decrying homophobia. This is admirable. Nothing of what I have written above condones “homophobia”, we are expressly forbidden “to judge” others [Matthew 7:1] unless we are able to cast stones [John 8:7] and one of the central truths of our faith is that we are ALL sinners [Romans 3:23; ‎1 John 1:8]! Let me be clear, to be homosexual is NOT a sin. Homosexuality like any sexuality is a natural inclination, it is not itself sinful; what is sinful and the same is true for any sexuality, is extra-marital sex i.e. to fornicate. Whilst many Christians may be guilty of and prone to committing this sin, no matter their sexuality, they should never forget the possibility of redemption, the opportunity to confess and be forgiven! It’s important to remember that fornication is a grave offense, peccata mortalia, a mortal sin that puts one in danger of spiritual death [1 John 5:16-17] and must be repented. However, as easy as it is to sin, so it is to be forgiven! That is the beauty of our faith, a humble and contrite heart God will not despise [Psalm 51:17], “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved” [John 3:17].

The sad truth is that our contemporary age, perhaps as bad, if not more so than any other age of humanity, is more given to promiscuity and fornication than ever before, no longer is such behaviour considered “immoral” by society itself, but even perversely commended and even celebrated or simply “accepted”. Perhaps rather ironically, there are amazing similarities between now and the Roman Imperial culture during which the first century epistle writers lived; those same who so many contemporary theologians accuse of being “out-dated” despite the fact that they addressed much the same issues prevalent today. It is tough for the contemporary Christian to live in such an environment of explicit and overt sexuality and sensualism. But this must never give rise to judgmentalism nor hatred through envy, jealousy, regret nor especially “self-righteousness”. Neither must it give rise to false notions of charity and in so doing compromise the true teaching of the Gospel. It is one thing to campaign against the mistreatment of others, quite another to confuse sympathy with empathy and forget what “true love” i.e. true charity really is…

Sancta Trinitas unus Deus, miserere nobis.

‡Jerome OSJV