Monday, October 31, 2011

Donating my face...



Hi, 


It’s Movember and time to focus on men’s health. To show my commitment, I’m donating my face to the cause by growing a moustache for the entire month of November, and need your support. My Mo will spark conversations, and no doubt generate some laughs; all in the name of raising vital awareness and funds for prostate cancer male depression. 


Why am I so passionate about men’s health? 
*1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime 
*This year 20,000 new cases of the disease will be diagnosed 
*1 in 8 men will experience depression in their lifetime 


I’m asking you to support my Movember campaign by making a donation by either: 
*Donating online at: http://mobro.co/Spitty81 
*Writing a cheque payable to ‘Movember,’ referencing my Registration ID: 1575552 and mailing it to: Movember, PO Box 60, East Melbourne, VIC, 8002 


Funds raised will help make a tangible difference to the lives of others. Through the Movember Foundation and its men’s health partners, the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and beyondblue – the national depression initiative, they are funding world class research, educational and support programs which would otherwise not be possible. 


If you’d like to find out more about the type of work you’d be helping to fund by supporting Movember, take a look at the Programs We Fund section on the Movember website: http://au.movember.com/about 


Thank you in advance for supporting my efforts to change the face of men’s health. All donations over $2 are tax deductible. 


Stephen Spiteri 
Please donate at: http://mobro.co/Spitty81

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How to explain Heaven and Hell to teenagers



A new school year began for me last week and that meant I got new classes and with them new students. This also meant that with new students (some of whom were unfamiliar with me as a teacher) came new questions. One of my students asked me this week, "What is Heaven like and what is Hell like?"


The Catholic Church defines Heaven and Hell in these ways (emphasis added):


"This perfect life with the Most Holy Trinity - this communion of life and love with the Trinity, with the Virgin Mary, the angels and all the blessed - is called 'heaven'. Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness." - CCC, par. 1024


"The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, 'eternal fire'. The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs." - CCC, par. 1035


Without insulting the intelligence of teenagers I ask this question earnestly: how do you explain that in simple terms to a teenager? Well, this is how I went about it:


Think of someone that you love dearly; someone that you want to be with all the time. This someone also loves you dearly and wants to be with you all the time. You never get tired of each other's presence; the flaws that other people notice about you don't exist to this person and you know that this someone is completely, utterly, and totally perfect. You are perfect because they love you perfectly. This is Heaven: being in this someone's presence all of the time and not needing anything else because this someone is all that you need.


"But, as it is written, 'What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.'" - 1 Corinthians 2:9


Now imagine being separated from that person for all eternity. It's your fault the two of you are separated. That someone didn't go anywhere, but you did something wrong and failed to admit you did wrong and failed to make reparation for it. All the time you cry out to that someone who loves and adores you unconditionally but they cannot hear you. As you cry out you feel the guilt and remorse burn through you like hot wax in your veins. You feel like a fool for the wrong you have done and the tormentors around you know this; they remind you of it constantly. Your choices and your pride led you here.


"The Son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth." - Matthew 13:41-42


Remember, this is not a definitive description of Heaven and Hell; it is introductory. One may start off by explaining Heaven and Hell this way to students (or teenagers), but if you really want to dig deeper, then I suggest referring to the paragraphs form the Catechism of the Catholic Church I cited earlier, and to then read what scripture says itself on these last things.


"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing." - 2 Timothy 4:7-8


Amen.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My friend thinks the world will end this week...


So it seems our friend, Harold Camping, is at it again, and this time he reckons the world is going to end this coming Friday, October 21.


Can any man claim to know the time of the Lord's second coming and/or when the world will end? What does scripture tell us about this? Here's a handful of verses of scripture that give the answer (emphasis added):


"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only." - Matthew 24:36 


"Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect." - Matthew 24:44 


"Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour." - Matthew 25:13 


"Watch therefore -- for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning -- lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Watch." - Mark 13:35-37 


"... the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him, and put him with the unfaithful." - Luke 12:46 


"For you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When people say, 'There is peace and security,' then sudden destruction will come upon them as travail comes upon a woman with child, and there will be no escape." - 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 


"The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up." - 2 Peter 3:9-10 


"Remember then what you received and heard; keep that, and repent. If you will not awake, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you." - Revelation 3:3


(Bible translation cited: RSV-CE)


I wonder: how can a man - Harold Camping - who claims to be a "Bible believing Christian" have missed these verses?


Don't worry about the "final day"; just pray and be ready every day!


Amen!

Answers4Catholics, now featuring...


This morning I am very pleased to share some very exciting news with you...


This blog, The Spirit Magnus, and its content is now being linked on the the very handy and superb iPhone application, Answers4Catholics. You will find links to some featured blog entries of mine by accessing the News section, then the Blogs subsection right in between Fr. Robert Baron's name and Jimmy Akin's.






If you have ever been out and come across a situation - perhaps when in dialogue with a fire-brazen anti-Catholic or when a Mormon or Jehovah's Witness knocks on your door - with this application and your iPhone you will have easy access to very common questions and objections, which are presented in an easy-to-read/easy-to-memorise to manner.


You can find out more about Answers4Catholics here: http://www.answers4catholics.com/Answers4Catholics/Welcome.html


The application costs a measly $1.99USD on iTunes.


Answers4Catholics is frequently updated and more of my own work will be found throughout the application in the near future.


This is a massive coup for me and I am very excited and humbled to be part of such a new and innovative approach to apologetics and catechesis.


Pax vobiscum!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

"... The least of these my brethren..."


I was in the city this week doing a bit shopping when on the way to the store I was heading to, I saw a young-looking man (mid 20s maybe) dressed in black sitting behind a cardboard placard that had written something to the effect of "help the homeless". After analysing the signs and signifiers it was safe to say that this young man was homeless and wanted help. I kept on walking and avoided making eye contact, made much easier by the fact I was wearing sunglasses at the time. I judged. I assumed. I fought every urge of mine that I had at that time to walk over and hand the man some money.


I thought about how this young man was in that situation to begin with. I thought about what he may or may not do with the money if I was to give him some. I was filled with disgust and pity at the same time. I actually felt quite ashamed of myself. I fought to suppress these sudden feelings of guilt and kept on walking. Fortunately by the time I got to the shop I was heading to I was well and truly distracted and for a while forgot all about the young man sitting behind the cardboard placard. I was, however, to confront that setting again.


On the way back to my car I have but no choice to take the same route because there are road works taking place at the same time (perhaps this was preordained!). I got within a dozen or so paces of this young man again before I felt that urge once more; that urge to give. Knowing I had some money in my wallet and knowing it was probably the most I could do at the time, I walked over to the guy, gave him the cash and told him as sincerely as I could be, "Take care of yourself, okay? Take care of yourself." He responded by saying, "Thank you, man. God bless you".


Walking away I fought thoughts of feeling like I had done my "good deed" for the day and "Oh, aren't I good for helping that guy out?" I didn't want to fill myself with such prideful and self-praising feelings. Instead I kept repeating to myself mentally an adage that I had learned some years ago, and a verse of scripture that I often use in the classroom when teaching my students about love of neighbour and caring for the needy:


"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." - Edmund Burke


"And the King will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.'" - Matthew 25:40


We must not fail to see Christ in everyone around us, especially the lowly. When Christ taught the parable of the Good Samaritan in reply to the question, "Teacher, who is my neighbour?" the answer we get is this: your neighbour is everyone around you, and especially those you would least think about.


To see Christ in your neighbour is to cast aside your pride and fill your heart with charity; the love God has for us.


Amen.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Hypothetically Speaking: Marriage Interrupted



A front page article in the September 28 edition of The Record newspaper began this way:


"If the state forced the Perth archdiocese to officiate at same-sex unions, the archdiocese would cancel its registration to celebrate legal marriages..."


The Catholic Church will never officiate or validate same-sex unions - this is the long and the short of it - but my commentary in this blog is not about gay "marriage", same-sex unions, yadda, yadda, yadda... I'm speaking hypothetically and answering the question:


If the Catholic Church (i.e. all Catholic archdiocese on a global scale) were forced by the state (i.e. the respective incumbent government be it at the state or federal level) to officiate at same-sex unions and inevitably cancel its registration to celebrate legal marriages in response, what would happen to the Sacrament of Marriage?


Here's what I see happening:


Canon Law will be "tweaked" - any reference to civil authorities (i.e. the respective incumbent government be it at the state or federal level) will be removed (e.g. Can. 1057 §1; 1059). After looking through the canons on marriage there don't appear to be many of these references to civil authorities so the changes will be minimal (hence the tweak); marriage will retain its sacramentality.


Legal recognition(s) of marriage - it will still of course be possible to be "married" in the Catholic Church; the sacrament, after all, is a covenant bond instituted by God that cannot be broken. Quite simply, marriage does not exist without the sacrament! So while the marriage between a man and woman will not be recognised by the state (i.e. it will not be a legal union), before God husband and wife still become one flesh. In order for couples who have participated in the sacrament of marriage to have this union made "legal", they will need to have a separate "ceremony" by which a judge or Justice of the Peace (or other celebrant accredited to officiate marriages) officiates the union and is noted in the books, so to speak (i.e. it is recognised by the civil authorities).


This may present a couple of problems:


1. Couples sacramentally married in the Catholic Church may find it tedious or troublesome to have their marriages legally recognised. There would be two ways to go about this: either have a judge or Justice of the Peace witness the marriage at the church in order to have it officiated, or as mentioned above have a separate ceremony (before or after the nuptials) to recognise the civil union. If a judge or Justice of the Peace (or other celebrant accredited to officiate marriages) is present at the nuptials, canon law would need to allow for this to occur (i.e. tweaked, as afore mentioned). I would also anticipate the Church exhorting sacramentally married couples to have their marriage legally recognised by the state. This makes the entire "process" of marriage cumbersome for the most part and rather complicated. A number of couples may simply not bother with getting their marriage legally recognised.


2. Couples sacramentally married who do not have their marriages legally recognised would legally be classified either of two ways: de facto, or "two individuals living in the same household" (more on those two shortly). Why would this be problematic? In a country like Australia, married couples are entitled to certain rights and benefits. I won't get into great detail with these, but they range from tax benefits due to having a combined income, estate planning benefits (e.g. inheritances), government benefits such as receiving family Medicare cover and Social Security, employment benefits, medical benefits, housing benefits, and consumer benefits which in some cases are only offered to married couples or families.


Being recognised as living in a "de facto" relationship or as "two individuals living in the same household" is confusing, complicated and cumbersome: yes, a couple married in the Catholic Church share in the sacramental/divine union of a man and a woman, but legally? No. It would not just be a matter of missing out on a few benefits, imagine explaining to your friends, family and/or workmates that you're married... but not really! Sure, you could say to others that you've been "married in the Church" but quickly another could turn around and say, "But you're marriage is not legally recognised... according to the law you're not married!"


An additional problem - and this is why same-sex unions pose such a strong threat to marriage - is that with all the potential problems, these complications, this confusion, this appeasement to a minority group; it may very well deter good Christian couples from getting married (even sacramentally) all together.


Pope John Paul II once said:


"Marriage is an act of will that signifies and involves a mutual gift, which unites the spouses and binds them to their eventual souls, with whom they make up a sole family - a domestic church."


An end to marriage as we know it today spells the end of the domestic church, and ultimately the end of the Church itself. Without its body, without its members, the Church cannot continue to mission beset to it by Christ himself before he ascended into Heaven:


"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age." - Matthew 28:19-20


If the Church is the light set on a hill for all to see (Matthew 5:14), if this light is overshadowed, all that exists is darkness and the proud race of humanity will fumble around in the dark in a moral stupor; an anarchy of thought directed by the most base of instincts. This light must never be overshadowed; we must work to keep it shining.


Pope Benedict XVI stressed this, marriage between a man and a woman as the bulwark of society in an address to experts and students in the field of marriage at the Vatican in May 2006:


"Only the rock of complete and irrevocable love between man and woman is capable of acting as a foundation for a society that can be home to all human beings."


At all costs, marriage must be protected.


Pray that our governments do not impinge draconian measures and regulations on the Church to officiate same-sex unions and thus have the Church cancel its registration to celebrate legal marriages. Pray that the Church, based solely on moral and religious grounds, be given - if anything if this is to occur - a dispensation so that the integrity of marriage may be upheld and celebrated as given to us by Almighty God: for one man and one woman.


"'So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.'" - Matthew 19:6


Amen.