Articles

St Leo the Great…

Today’s feast is a celebration of one of the great popes, with which Christ has blessed his Church, Leo called the great. He was of aristocratic origin and has befitted his rank at the time; he was an ambassador for many parts of the empire. He was elected a deacon of the Church and on the death of the Pope in 440 he was elected unanimously by the clergy of Rome to be the pontiff. Immediately he set himself the task of securing the Church. We are talking at a very difficult time in Church history, all times are difficult, some more than others. At that time there were many threats to the autonomy of the Church. The empire had been split, the emperor lived in Constantinople, the bishop of Constantinople claimed to be the head of the Church simply because he was the bishop of the most important city. St. Leo withstood him, maintaining in fact that the head of the Church was none other than the one Christ had selected and his successors, namely the bishop of Rome.

He spent a great deal of his pontificate writing to the various bishops and emperors correcting many errors which were creeping into the Church. There were in particular the questions of the heresies, in particular the divinity of Christ, is He God, is He Man, is He a mixture of both. Does He have a divine will? Does He have a human will? Does He have no will at all? What of His soul and all of these. St. Louis was of remarkable clarity able to clarify a lot of these issues. In particular the Council of Calceedon which made it abundantly clear that in Christ there were two wills a human will and a divine will. And on the political, he was able to resolve many of the problems which the Church was facing, in the particular the attacks of the barbarians and of course there’s the famous story of Atilla, who was marching on Rome with a huge army… For Fr. Linus’ complete homily please listen to the Audio.

By Fr Linus Clovis

Our Lady, The New Queen Esther

Today the sixth of December, the second Sunday of Advent. Of course we are preparing for several feasts of Our Lady, the feast of the Immaculate Conception on the 8th and then we have Our Lady of Guadalupe which will be on Saturday, and then there is the feast of the expectation of Our Lady and we’re moving slowly toward the feast of Christmas the birth of Our Saviour. So it is quite fitting that we should focus on the Mother of Our Saviour.

There are many images found in the old testament of Our Lady. They are called types, St. Paul in fact referrers to them as types in the letter to the Galatians. That is, events in the Old Testament which happened in the ordinary run of things in history. But they were very symbolic, highly symbolic of a spiritual truth which is being unveiled. And several books of the bible you could say almost exclusively concerned in bringing out this imagery ‘the type’. Among them is the book of Esther. The Story of Ester is relatively simple. King Ahasuerus had Queen Vashti, who he had ordered to come to the banquet and she refused. Now in the land of the King, the land of Persia, when the King made a decision, it was irrevocable. When he made the law it could not be changed. And so it was decreed among the Medes and the Persians that if a Queen refused the obedience of the King, that she would be disowned, thrown out and somebody else would take her place. And so this was the law that was enacted. And Esther who was a Jewess was chosen. And so became Queen in place Vashti. Now it so happened that in the court, there was a man by the name of Haman…

By Fr. Linus Clovis

The Holy Family

Christmas having passed, we’re already celebrating the feast of the holy family, on this Sunday, the octave of Christmas. At the feast of the nativity of Our Lord, which we call Christmas, the reason being that it is the Mass of Christ or the presence of Christ among us. We celebrate in that feast the incarnation, that is God who became man and dwelt among us.

God could have chosen many ways in which to redeem us. We must believe that, however, He chose the best possible way. He chose a way that would demonstrate to us, prove to us, show to us the depth of His love. And so His Son whom He love, whom He loves, whom He will always love, assumed in the womb of the virgin, human nature. Without mixing His divine nature and His human nature, the two remaining distinct and separate, yet united in one person. This person who for all eternity is the Son of God, became the son of Mary, or as the Gospels will call Him the Son of man, as He Himself would refer to Himself. He came into a family, again He could have chosen many different ways to appear among us. We must believe that He chose the most appropriate way. An so He chose as His mother a woman espoused to a man, Joseph. They were both committed to a life of virginity, in the case of the virgin we know this from scripture itself, in the case of St. Joseph we know from holy tradition. But what we know as a fact, that Christ was conceived without a human father. An so born as an infant, He is worshipped by angels, a multitude of angels, He is worshipped by shepherds, He is worshipped by wise men, which we will commemorates on the feast of the epiphany.

He has to live for a brief time in Egypt, because King Herod intends to kill Him. His parents return to Israel, to Judea. They do not go to live in Bethlehem, because Herod’s son reigns there and they are afraid. So they go and they live in Nazareth and we know very little about those 12 years…

By Fr Linus Clovis

What is Truth? Does Truth exist? Does it matter?

‘I was born for this, I came into the world for this, to bear witness to the Truth.’ What is Truth? Does truth exist? If it does, does it matter? Perhaps an easy definition of truth is reality. And if we’re talking about reality, there’s only one reality, God is, God exists. And everything that God speaks exists. ‘Let there be light’ and there was light. ‘Let the waters separate into those above and those below’, and it happened. ‘Let the earth come forth’, ‘let trees and the seeds in them spring out of the earth’ and so it was. This is reality. ‘Let the waters bring forth living creatures and the air bring forth the birds’, and these things happened. These are the realities.

‘Let the ground be filled with creeping creatures of all kinds’ and the animals came forth. And then God said, ‘let us make man in our own image and likeness. And he fashioned man out of the soil of the earth and breathed into his nostrils and man became a living being’, another reality, perhaps the greatest reality – because man, male and female are made in the image and likeness of God who alone is reality. The Lord God put the man in the garden with all things subject to him, with one commandment - ‘The tree that stands in the middle of the garden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat it, do not touch it, on the day you eat of it, you will surely die the death’. That also was real. But then the serpent came and asked the question. ‘Did God really say really say you could not eat of any of the trees?’ and this terrible dialogue began between the serpent and the woman, which lead to the woman believing the serpent, believing a fantasy, believing a lie, unreality is what she embraced…

By Fr Linus Clovis

The man who stands firm to the end will be saved - St Steven

We celebrate the birth of St. Steven into eternity today. Yesterday we celebrated the birth of the Saviour in our world. Today the birth of his first martyr the proto martyr. We can say birth because Steven now rejoices in the presences of God and he has eternal life. The birth of the Saviour was a consequence of His love for us. It was out of love He came into our world to save us. Steven was born as a consequence of love. That is he loved God above all things. He loved the Incarnate Word and for the sake of the Incarnate Word he loved his neighbour as himself.

How did he manifest that love? Through the practice of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Steven was a deacon chosen by the early church, so that the apostles could continue to preach the Word. Steven was to minister to the needs of the faithful, in particular the widows. Steven was one of the seven deacons who were chosen. And so he practised the corporal works of mercy, the feeding of the hungry and giving drink to the thirsty and the naked he clothed and so on - visiting those who were in prison. At that time there were many Christians in the prisons, because they believed and they would not conform. They would not deny the Lord. So the corporal works of mercy were an integral part of his vocation. But there were also the seven spiritual works of mercy. These Steven did not shy away from. He began by instructing the ignorant, again a work of the deacon. But he was not content just with this. We can have no doubt that he counselled the doubtful. But the one that won him the crown of glory, the most difficult of the spiritual works of mercy, he admonished the sinners. He boldly stood up and spoke to the Sanhedrin and to the Jews in general, telling them that what they had done was nothing but to crucify the King of glory. The Incarnate Word…

Immaculate Conception, Cosmic warfare

All Catholics worthy of the name rejoice on this, the greatest feast of our most blessed Lady. Christians naturally should rejoice, in fact Heaven itself is full of joy from that first moment that the Mother of the Lord was conceived. This great mystery has so many aspects, that it is impossible to cover them all, in a life time or indeed many lifetimes. And so all we can do is to pluck a single thread, and let us look at just one thread.

As we heard in the first reading, when the Lord God called Adam, Adam was hiding and came out and said ‘I was afraid because I was naked and I hid’. And when the Lord asked further questions, the man replied, ‘It was the woman you put with me, she gave the fruit and I ate’. So the woman gave to the first man the fruit. Fruit that brought disaster to the whole human race. The man received the fruit in the garden, the garden of paradise. A garden which contains many other kinds of fruit, all meant for the delight of the human race. That is what fruit means, to be delighted in. ‘The serpent tempted me’ she said. And so the woman confessed that yes, she had been deceived by the serpent. And so when the Lord God when He cursed the serpent, He said ‘because you have done this, be a cursed be on all cattle, all wild beasts. I will make you enemies of each other, you and the woman, your offspring and her offspring. And so this warfare, we’d even say this cosmic warfare was put between the Woman and the serpent. Between the Woman and satan. The warfare isn’t between God and satan… 

By Fr Linus Clovis

Come to me… All you who labour and overburdened… I will give you rest

The Saviour offers a universal invitation, ‘come to me’. And then He describes those in particular whom He wishes to come, ‘all you who labour and overburdened’. And He promises us a reward or a consolation for our journey to Him, ‘I will give you rest’. And so the first thing we ask is, what is this labour? What is this burden? Oh, not burden, but overburden... We work… Our works which are not the works of God - and consequently we carry a burden which does not belong to God. We carry our own burden, the talent of lead, that is spoken of by the prophet. Sin is a talent of lead, it is our work. And so the Lord tells us, because we are struggling, fighting, doing our own will and reaping a harvest of it - that we should come to Him. And what does He say that He gives us, He’s offering us a burden, but it is not the kind of burden which is overbearing, it is a light burden. And from this we learn that necessarily we have to carry a burden. The choice is who’s? Ours? Or His? But He goes even further than this because He explains what is required of us. ‘Shoulder My yoke and learn from Me, for I am meek and humble in heart’. So we need to shoulder His yoke. But, what is a yoke? A yoke is an instrument that beasts of burden are joined together – so that they may share the workload. So He is saying that He has become like one of us, that is a beast. But beasts are made to carry burdens, so He is offering us, His own burden, namely the cross. And He’s saying take your cross on your shoulders and your cross is My cross, because there is only one cross for those who serve the Lord. Christ Himself is carried it. ‘Shoulder My yoke and learn from Me’, what are we to learn? Submission to God, that is the first thing because Christ came to undo the sin of... For Fr. Linus’ complete homily please listen to the Audio.

By Fr Linus Clovis

Greater than he has never been seen. What did Our Lord mean?

John the Baptist was in prison because he said to the King ‘it is against the law for you to live with your brother’s wife’ in other words he was condemning adultery. And so he is arrested for defending marriage. Certainly he is a prophet for our time. In prison, John knows that his days are numbered. He is concerned for the salvation of his own disciples. He wishes them to follow the Light. He himself is only a witness for the Light. And so he sends them to our Lord to ask a question, ‘Are you the one who is to come? Or must we wait for someone else?’ And the Lord well aware of John’s intention makes the response to the disciples of John “Go and tell John what you see, what you hear; the blind receive their sight, the deaf - hearing, the lame - walk, the dead are raised etc... And so John’s disciples depart with a message, and more than a message, because they now are witnesses for Christ.

Our Lord begins to praise John, ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the wind, someone dressed in fine clothing? No you went to see a prophet and something greater than a prophet. And so in conclusion, He speaks the words we heard this morning. The words of the greatest praise for John ‘Of all the children born of women, a greater than John the Baptist has never been seen.’ What does that mean? It merely means that John is among the great. Our Lord didn’t say there is non greater than John, but He says that he is among the great. ‘Greater than he has never been seen.’ So there are others who could be on the same rank as John. Yet He says this is in, this changeable world, this world as yet unredeemed, this world that does not receive the light. And so the Lord compares it to a kingdom… For Fr. Linus’ complete homily please listen to the Audio.

By Fr Linus Clovis

They trusted in His Mercy

Our Saviour is teaching. We’re told that He was doing so in a house. We are also told that His audience consisted of Pharisees and doctors of the law. That is experts in scripture, experts in law, in the prophets. What was more, that they came from every village in Galilee, from Judea as well as from Jerusalem. So there is a sense that these Pharisees and doctors had come to examine our Lord, since they came from right across the country. We are told that the power of the Lord were behind His works of healing. In other words these works were divine acts, they were not just a case as in the prophets, but there were so many and they were so astounding that it was necessary the authorities examine them. There is nothing unusual in that at all. We have the same procedure, when there is some apparition, it is natural for the bishop to setup a commission to examine the circumstances and to declare whether it is from God or not. So in that sense, there is nothing unusual. What however is of concern is the attitude. Our Lord Himself said, judge, but do not judge by appearances, judge rather in Truth. But because of their bias against Him, they were not willing to judge objectively.

At that moment we are told some men appeared carrying a paralysed man on the stretcher. They wanted to bring him to the Lord but were quite unable to do so. Being determined they made a hole in the roof and lowered the man before the Lord. First of all notice, they do not ask the Lord for anything. Again there is a problem; they put it before Him, leaving Him to decide what the best solution is for the problem. And so they lower the paralysed man in the stretcher and he appears before the Lord. We are told two things, i) that the Lord saw their faith, it was great faith one because the brought the man to him, ii) because they trusted in His mercy, they didn’t ask Him for anything, they knew He would do what was best. And the Lord simply says, ‘My friend, your sins are forgiven’. The Lord did what was best… For Fr. Linus’ complete homily please listen to the Audio.

By Fr Linus Clovis

God saw us in this condition perishing!

The rebellion of our first parents resulted in them being cast out of paradise and as a consequence, we who are destined to be in paradise were cast out with them. The gifts which God had given to our parents, the gifts of integrity; that is first and foremost the clearness of intellect, secondly, the will to do that which we wish; that is the good for which we were created, thirdly the control over our senses and our body and of course we must not forget the gift of God’s own life in our souls. These and other things are the preternatural gifts, which we lost. And so we were cast out into the world. A world that is angry with us, that is, we would have to struggle with the soil to get our daily bread. God saw us in this condition perishing. But even as He punished our first parents by casting them out of the garden, He promised them a redeemer.

The offence against God is necessarily infinite. A finite act indeed it is, but the effects are infinite because of whom we have rebelled. We have rebelled against an infinite God. It was not possible for a creature to repair such damage and so God Himself put on our humanity, taking flesh in the womb of the virgin so that He might make that reparation. So God Himself would pay the debt of our offence. And because He is God and infinite in all His perfections, using the instrumentality of our bodies, He was able to make a reparation of infinite value, for the infinite offence that had been committed. How would He do this in His human body? He will give us an example and more than that, He would instruct us so that our intellect might once more receive the light for which it had been created. He would give us His sacraments, by which our wills would be strengthened. He would give us a promise by which we would make the necessary effort to control our senses. And He would promise at the end of it, not paradise, but heaven itself… For Fr. Linus’ complete homily please listen to the Audio.

By Fr Linus Clovis

There is only one foundation that can be laid, that is Christ Jesus

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St Paul tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God. Our Lord Himself said to the crowds, this is working for God, to believe in the One whom He has sent. So faith is necessary for our salvation. Yet faith alone is insufficient, works also are necessary, that is to live the virtuous life. And again St. Paul tells us that there are some that profess Christ with their lips but deny Him with their deeds. And so in today’s gospel Our Lord says to us His disciples “it is not those who say to me ‘Lord, Lord’ that is those who have faith, who will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in Heaven”. The works are necessary. Faith alone doesn’t save, in fact St. James tells us that the devils have faith, they believe, but it is of no benefit to them.

The Lord therefore tells us how indeed we should govern our lives. Therefore everyone who listens, that is the first act to listen, to these words of Mine, the commandments and acts on them, (the deeds), follow what he tells us, observe the commandments, will be like a sensible man, a wise man, who built his house on rock. Who is this wise man who built his house on rock? You are peter and on this Rock I build my Church. He is the wise man. What did he build, His Church on? The rock of Peter. Peter had manifest that he was worthy to be the rock, in as much as he professed faith in Christ Jesus; “You are the son of the living God”. So faith, trusting in the Christ that God has sent is necessary and to build on this. So we build on this rock like Christ built His Church.

St. Paul in the letter in Corinthians tells us there is only one foundation that can be laid, that is Christ Jesus. Each one must build on this foundation. We have a choice in what we build with, we may build with gold or silver or precious stones or with wood and stubble and straw. Nonetheless the Apostles says, each mans work will be tested by fire, and so the work may be destroyed, but the man may be saved…

For Fr. Linus’ complete homily please listen to the Audio.

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