Doorways to Faith

Doorways to Faith is our group for the Year of Faith at Sacred Heart, Hanley and Our Lady's, Fenton. Meetings take place on Sundays at 3pm in the Newman Room at Hanley, and in Our Lady's School, Watkin Street, Fenton on Wednesdays at 4.30pm. See the schedule for full details of meetings. 
There are also powerpoint presentations and videos available on our downloads page. 

16 Christian Life in the World

posted 19 Mar 2013, 15:41 by P W


The Six Precepts of the Church

The Minimum way of following the Christian life. 

  1. You shall attend Mass on Sundays
    and holy days of obligation. 
  2. You shall receive the sacrament of Confession (Reconciliation) at least once a year.
  3. You shall receive Holy Communion at least once during the Easter season.
  4. You shall keep holy the holy days of obligation.
  5. You shall fast and observe abstinence on the prescribed days.
  6. You shall provide for the material needs of the Church according to your ability.




The Works of Mercy

CORPOREAL WORKS OF MERCY

  • Feed the hungry
  • Give drink to the thirsty
  • Clothe the naked
  • Harbour the homeless
  • Visit the sick
  • Visit the imprisoned
  • Bury the dead

SPIRITUAL WORKS OF MERCY

  • Convert the sinner
  • Instruct the ignorant
  • Counsel the doubtful
  • Comfort the sorrowful
  • Bear wrongs patiently
  • Forgive injustice
  • Pray for the living and dead

15 Grace and the Beatitudes

posted 19 Mar 2013, 11:00 by P W   [ updated 19 Mar 2013, 14:49 ]


From "thou shalt not" to the life of Grace

Jesus pointed out to the Rich Young Man that  keeping the commandments, good though that it, is not quite enough. Something more is needed. 
That is why the commandments are so often negative - "thou shalt not". They are found in reason, and "natural law". A life based on God must go further. We call this the life of Grace. 

What is Grace?  

Grace refers to the Gifts of God which change our lives. Jesus says to us "Be perfect as God your Father is perfect". The only way of being perfect is through the Grace of God. The Grace we receive in this life, through the sacraments and other actions of God, leads us to the life of heaven. 
We become "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4), "co-heirs of Christ" (Romans 8:17) and "temples of the Holy Spirit" (1 Corninthians 3:16).

The Life of Grace

St Thomas Aquinas said “Grace perfects nature”. So, the life of Grace is not different from, or similar to the life of Nature, but rather it perfects it. 

LIFE OF NATURE

LIFE OF GRACE

 Natural birth   Baptism
  Philosophical virtues
such as prudence
 Theological virtues
(faith, hope, charity)
 Food and drink  The Eucharist
 Human society  The Church
 Growth to adulthood  Growth in holiness
 Human happiness  The vision of God


The Beatitudes 

In the eight beatitudes (blessings), Jesus taught how the life of heaven can be made visible in our earthly life, bringing a promise and foretaste of joy even when there is earthly suffering. 

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

14 The Ten Commandments

posted 2 Mar 2013, 18:08 by admin istrator


Natural Law 

Every country has different laws, and if we travel abroad we might need to be careful to make sure we keep to local laws.
However, almost all societies in all places agree on basic principles in the law. These are sometimes called "rights". Others are more like responsibilities. Some are put into law - others are instead values which people try to live by. Life, Honesty, Property, Family are all part of these.

We call these basic principles "The natural law", known by reason (not learnt or handed down), which is the universal moral law of human nature for living well.

Civil Law

Civil laws are the laws which apply the principles of natural law to the laws of countries or particular societies. If Civil laws follow the natural law, then they should be followed - but if they do not, they it would be right not to follow them. Examples would be laws or societies which promote hatred, or genocide.

Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments contain the main principles of the natural law, which were given directly by God to Moses on Mount Sinai.

The Ten Commandments can be understood in three headings 
  • commandments regarding God, 
  • commandments regarding others 
  • commandments regarding desires.

The Life of Grace

Christians also follow the new law of grace, the essence of which is to follow Jesus Christ in his Church..


The Ten Commandments

1. I am the LORD your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me.
2. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
3. Remember to keep holy the LORD’S day.
4. Honour your father and your mother.
5. You shall not kill.
6. You shall not commit adultery.
7. You shall not steal. 
8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
9. You shall not covet your neighbour's wife.
10. You shall not covet your neighbour's goods.

Prayer
A Prayer of St Alphonus Liguori

I love you Jesus, my love above all things. 
I repent with my whole heart for having offended you. Never permit me to separate myself from you again. Grant that I may love you always and then do with me what you will. Amen. 

The Rich Young Man 

Then someone came to Jesus and said, Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life? And he said to him, Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. 
If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments. He said to him, Which ones? And Jesus said, You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness;  Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. The young man said to him, I have kept all these; what do I still lack? Jesus said to him, If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me. When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
(Matthew 19:16-22)

13 Deciding between Right and Wrong (Moral Action)

posted 26 Feb 2013, 12:52 by Fr Peter Weatherby   [ updated 26 Feb 2013, 13:47 ]

Making Decisions

In life we are faced with many decisions - especially when we come into adulthood. Everything from what we wear, to what we eat, to what job we do - these are decisions we have to take. 

Some decisions are clearly just a matter of choice and personal preference. What we choose to eat, for example, or what clothes we wear, are probably just preferences. 

Other decisions though have a moral dimension, however. Whether to keep an item we find, or not to reveal some information to another person - these are not simply a matter of choice. 

How do we decide between Right and Wrong? 

As human beings we have free will. This means we can direct our own lives and can choose to do good. It also means we can choose something which is Wrong. 

God wants us to choose what is good - but he does not force us to do good. Good action must come from our free will. 

Moral Action

Actions with a moral aspect are Moral Actions. 
They come about by an act of will. 
We are responsible for these actions. 
They are either good or evil (bad). 

What is sin?

Sin is a deliberately bad action - something done, or not done, against God's will. 

Sins usually pervert (distort) something good which God has given us in our human nature (e.g. greed or lust)

At the root of all sin is pride, because it places us above God. 


Mortal and venial sin

But surely some sins are much worse than others?

The Church carefully distinguishes between mortal (serious) sin and other sins which are "venial". 

For a sin to be mortal there must be: 
  • a serious (grave) matter
  • full knowledge that the sin is wrong
  • full consent to what is being done.

If these three conditions are not met, then the sin is not mortal. 

Mortal sins must be brought to confession. Venial sins are forgiven through prayer, receiving communion, acts of mercy or devotion. 

How can we do good?

Doing good is not easy. We tend to find sin attractive. This seen to be the consequence of Original Sin. 

To do good we must have a good conscience, good habits, and rely on God's grace through prayer and the sacraments.

What is temptation?

Temptation is the battlefield between Good and Evil. Remember that even Christ himself was tempted. 

Our opponents in this battle are
The World - the bad influences around us
The Flesh - our own desires, yearning for pleasure and avoiding discomfort. 
The Devil - powers which influence and persuade us to do wrong.

The Victory of Christ

Jesus is victorious over the world, the flesh and the devil in his death and resurrection from the dead. We should call upon his help and trust in his victory. 



08 A tour of the Church

posted 12 Jan 2013, 14:07 by Fr Peter Weatherby   [ updated 3 Feb 2013, 13:57 ]

A tour of Sacred Heart Church


07 Creed: Scripture and Tradition

posted 12 Jan 2013, 13:59 by Fr Peter Weatherby   [ updated 12 Jan 2013, 14:05 ]

(Sorry - these are just notes so far) 

Scripture and Tradition

Scripture and Tradition together constitute the single deposit of revealed truth given by God to the Church and infallibly taught by the Magisterium.

What is Scripture?

Scripture is the single collection of 73 books called the Bible. 
This collection is the entire content of God’s inspired written truth, revealing himself and his saving plan.

Given its importance for salvation, God, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has guaranteed that the Bible records faithfully and without error, everything that he wanted written and no more. 
(c.f. Dei Verbum 11)

Scripture is inspired by God, but written through a human agency.

What is Tradition?

Tradition is what is revealed by God and handed on by the apostles, including those things not explicitly recorded in Scripture.

‘Tradition’ comes from the Latin tradere, which means ‘to hand on’. The disciples taught before they wrote, and this oral teaching remained authoritative alongside written Scripture.

Tradition expresses that breadth of divine teaching which cannot be exhaustively communicated in any one written form, as the apostle John states:

There are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

The definition of the books of Scripture is itself the fruit of the Tradition.
Other manifestations of Tradition can be found in the liturgy, art and music of the Church.

What is the Magisterium?

The Magisterium is the teaching office of the Church exercised by the Pope, the successor of Peter, and the bishops in union with him.
 
With the authority of Jesus Christ (Jn 16:13; Mt 16:19) the Magisterium teaches infallibly the revealed truth which Scripture and Tradition communicate.

I would not believe in the Gospel, had not the authority of the Catholic Church already moved me.
St Augustine, Contra Epistolam Manichaei 5, 6 (ccc. 119)

The principal teachings of the Magisterium are the dogmatic decrees of the papacy, the Creeds and the other doctrines of the twenty-one Ecumenical Councils since the time of the apostles.

Finding your way around Scripture

Although the word "Bible" means "Book" Scripture is in fact a collection of books, writings of different styles, which were written over many centuries. 

The first part, the "Old Testament", is made of scriptures from before the time of Christ. These are the scriptures of the Jewish people, mostly written in Hebrew. In Jewish tradition there are three main types of writing here: The Law (the first five books of the Bible, called the Pentateuch), the Prophets (including books of History) and Wisdom (books of poetry and philosophy). They were written and compiled over about 1,000 years. 
The Jews call these the The Torah ("Teaching"), Nevi'im ("Prophets") and Ketuvim ("Writings") - giving the name TaNaKh

There are some Old Testamant books which were written in Greek, and were used by the first Christians, but came to be rejected by the Jews, and much later by Protestants. Protestants call these books "apocrypha" or "hidden" books. 

The second part is the "New Testament", which covers the life, death and resurrection of Christ and the years which followed. There are four Gospels, which tell the story of Christ, and 23 other writings which are mainly letters from the apostles to the Churches. These books have all come down to us in Greek. So far as we know all of these books were written between 40 and 80 AD. 

The collection of books which make up the Bible (the "Canon") was not finally defined until the third century. 

When the books were put together into the Scriptures, books were given titles, and divided into chapters and verses. These make it possible to give a reference to any passage in the Bible. 

How to read Scripture

One

The Bible must be read as a unified work in which God has chosen to reveal himself. Although the Bible is made up of many diverse texts from different times and cultures, it reveals a single story of God’s providence and salvation. 
The Old Testament points towards its own fulfilment in the New; the meaning of the New Testament is manifested by the Old.

Tradition

God has entrusted the whole of Scripture to the Church. It is only by the Church’s authority that the Bible’s 73 books are recognised as the unified word of God. Only the Church has the right and capability of authoritatively expounding Scripture. 
Profound insight into Scripture is found in the writings of the saints, fathers and doctors of the Church.

Literal

The literal sense is the primary and direct sense of Scripture which God intends to convey through human agency. It is the meaning the writer intends, the interpretation of which is aided by the study of history and context. 
A literal reading does not mean a 
literalistic reading of texts intended as metaphors or parables. 
The literal sense also includes the making of cross-references among Biblical books. 

Spiritual

In the spiritual sense of Scripture, God has ensured that the realities mentioned in the text can also point to other realities. Analogy (or allegory) often links something mentioned in Scripture, especially in the Old Testament, to Christ or to the Church. Tropology (the moral sense) links something described in Scripture to the living of the Christian life of grace. Anagogy links the realities mentioned in Scripture to those of heaven. 

06 Creed: The Resurrection of the Body

posted 12 Jan 2013, 12:52 by Fr Peter Weatherby


05 Creed: I believe in the Catholic Church

posted 12 Jan 2013, 12:51 by Fr Peter Weatherby   [ updated 12 Jan 2013, 13:49 ]

What is the Church?

This is a simple question, which can have varied answers. For many it just means "all Christians". For others it is their own local congregation or even building. For some it is a word which refers to clergy - ministers, bishops, priests whatever they may be called. For yet others it is some murky, rich and powerful organisation which is set in the past and which resists change.
There is some truth in all of these, perhaps. But none of them have the full answer.

The Church is the People of God

The first thing to say is that the Church is people. Not just clergy - but ordinary people. 98% or Christians, of the Church are not clergy, but ordinary Church members.
The phrase 'people of God' tells us that the Church is a Holy Nation, as were the people of Israel in the Old Testament.
It has a local, regional, and international structure (the Parish, the Diocese with the Pope at the Head). It has its own system of law (Canon Law). It owns property, has a range of activities, especially schools and hospitals.
In many ways it looks like other human organisations. 

The Church is the Body of Christ

The Church is a visible institution, with governed by its own rules and with its own history. But its is more than this.
The Church is more than just people - the People of God, make up the Body of Christ. This means several things.
It is first of all rooted in Christ. Christ founded the Church and is the Head of the Church.
The Church has a structure - but this is a holy rule, not like other organistions or nations - made up of bishops and priests, with the Pope at the head.
Baptism - a sacrament - is the way in which we enter into the Church.
The Sacraments are the spiritual work of the Church, increasing the holiness of God's pople.
The Work of the Church is driven by its Mission - to build up the Kingdom of God in the world. Most of its activities - care for the poor, health care for the sick, and education - come from this Mission.

The Church is not only on earth

The Church on Earth, doing Christ's work and preparing for his return, is sometimes called "The Church Militant" - at war with evil and carrying on the work of Christ.
But this is only part of the Church.

The Church in Purgatory

There is also the Church of the Holy Souls, those who have died and are waiting for the return of Christ at the end of time.
This is called "The Church expectant".

The Church in Heaven

And there is also the Church in Heaven, "The Church Triumphant" which is also known as "The Communion of Saints".
The Saints are those good souls who enter heaven after their deaths and are now in heaven praying for us.
We in the Church on earth are joined in prayer with the saints in heaven. We therefore honour them and pray for their intercession in our earthly pilgrimage.
In Scripture, the Church in glory is described as the ‘bride of Christ’ and the ‘new Jerusalem’.

04b Creed: I believe in the Holy Trinity

posted 12 Jan 2013, 12:50 by Fr Peter Weatherby   [ updated 12 Jan 2013, 13:08 ]

Rublev's Icon of the Trinity
What does it mean when to say there is one God, but three persons?

This is called the doctrine of the Trinity. It teaches that the one God acts as three persons, in three kinds of ways, but always as one God. 

But the belief in God as Trinity does not mean the persons divide the work between them: no one person of the Trinity ever acts alone. When one acts, all act together, because God is one. 

Whenever we read of the action of God, it is always the three persons acting together. There are very many examples of this. Here are just ten: (1) At the creation, the Father spoke his Divine Word and created through the power of the Spirit. (2) The Father breathed his Spirit into Man to make him in his own image. (3) The Spirit spoke God’s Word through the prophets. (4) The Angel visited Mary with the message of the Father so that she conceived the Word by the power of the Spirit. (5) St John tells us ‘the Word (with God from the beginning) became flesh and dwelt amongst us’. (6) At his Baptism, the Spirit descends on Jesus like a dove as the Father speaks from heaven. (7) At his Crucifixion, the Son says ‘Father, into your hands I commend my Spirit’. (8) And when the Son ascends to the Father he sends the Spirit, the Advocate, the Paraclete, to lead us into all truth. (9) We pray to the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit. (10) At Mass, we pray to the Father that he send the Spirit on the bread and wine that they become the body and blood of his Son. 

Again and again and again it is Father, Son and Spirit who move together, who operate together. 




The Trinity enters our lives

And notice that in all these examples I give, and in many others, the movement of the Trinity is about entering into the created world, about reaching to humanity. It is about involvement, action. The Trinity is about drawing human beings into the life of God, in creation, in redemption, in prayer, in sacraments. The best description of all is of course love - because love always involves another, and God is love because he lives love in himself, and extends his loving hand, his loving word, his loving Spirit, to embrace all humanity. 

When we pray, to which of the persons of the Trinity should we speak? 

Each person of the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is fully God, so prayer can be addressed to any one of the persons and to all three together. 

However, some prayers might be more appropriate to be made to a particular person. 

For example, in the liturgy we take part in the action of Christ as high priest, so our prayers are usually to the Father, through the Son and in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Notice that in the Mass prayers nearly always are phrased in this way. It is quite unusual to address a prayer in the liturgy directly to Jesus or to the Holy Spirit. 

However, private prayers or other acts of devotion may be different. 

For example, if we are praying for God’s mercy, we may often speak directly to the Son, especially to the Sacred Heart, which is the expression and example of the love and mercy of God. 

Similarly, we would naturally pray to the Holy Spirit, if we are praying for grace, for the power of Divine Love, or for the many gifts or fruits which come to us from the work of the Spirit in our lives. 

04 Creed : I believe in the Holy Spirit

posted 26 Nov 2012, 16:48 by Fr Peter Weatherby   [ updated 26 Nov 2012, 17:22 ]

The Holy Spirit and the Holy Trinity

Who is the Holy Spirit?

It is interesting that while many people do not practice a religion, there is nevertheless an extraordinary interest in "spiritual" things. Spiritual practices, like meditation and yoga, spiritual curiosities, like ghosts and the paranormal, and ideas of personal and spiritual development seem to grow in popularity just as the practice of religion is thought to decline.
Yet often the interest in these things is a
 very narrow and self-centred idea of what is spiritual. It is about an inner-self, and personal fulfilment. In this idea, the Spirit is an internal source of well-being, or good-feeling, of motivation and emotion.
Belief in the Holy Spirit is like this, but is also much more. He is not a power or force, something to be discovered or developed from inside us. He is a person, who with the Father and the Son is "worshipped and glorified". He is not to be found in our hearts, but is "sent into our hearts" as St Paul says (Galatians 4:6) so that might receive new life and live as sons of God.

Symbols of the Holy Spirit

There are many ways in which the Holy Spirit is portrayed or symbolised. He is living water. He is Fire. He is the Oil of anointing. He is Wind and Breath. He is a dark or a shining cloud which reveals the glory of God. He is the laying on of hands. He is the dove, descending from heaven. Each image, in different ways relates to the work of the Spirit and teaches us about him.

Always Active

The Spirit has always been active.
At the very beginning of Creation, as described in Genesis, the breath of God breathes over the water as he creates by his word.
In Moses and the later prophets, those chosen by God speak his words through the inspiration of the Spirit. The prophets also promised there would be a time when the fullness of the Spirit would be given to God's people.
In the Incarnation, the coming of Jesus, the Angel tells Mary that she will conceive "by the power of the Holy Spirit". Jesus often speaks of the Spirit and promises the fulness of the Gift of the Spirit to his followers after his Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven.
On the day of Pentecost, after Jesus' Ascension into Heaven, the Gift of the Spirit is given to the Apostles as they are in prayer, and they go out to preach and call people to Christ in many different languages. So the promises of prophets are fulfilled, and the Age of Spirit begins.
The Holy Spirit is in action in the sacraments, and also in prayer. He gives us gifts - which can become fruits in our lives.


The Holy Spirit is one of the three Persons of the Trinity - One God in Three Persons. The technical language the Church uses is that there is one Being (or Substance) of God in Three Persons.
There is only One God, and the Spirit draws us into the life of God himself.

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