Monday 26 January 2015

Celibacy of Priests

To Love A Priest 
Victor S E Moubarak
ISBN-10: 1505908558 
ISBN-13: 978-1505908558
Forgive me dear readers for returning to the subject matter of my latest book "To Love A Priest". As the title suggests, it deals with the question of celibacy of Catholic priests.

It has long been a ruling in the Catholic Church that priests should not marry and must remain chaste throughout their lives. This is a vow men make before they are ordained to the priesthood.

In the small town where I live I have known three Catholic priests, good priests at that, who had to leave the Church to get married and have a family. I also know another priest elsewhere who did the same. I am sure you've known of priests or nuns leaving the vocation for new life outside the Church.

I've often wondered how serious a sin, if sin it be, was committed by these individuals. They decided at some stage in their lives that they could no longer follow their vocation and keep to their vows. Is this sin, I repeat, if sin it be, unforgiveable and they are doomed for eternity? Is it a sin that can be "confessed" and forgiven albeit they remain married outside the Church?

How different is the breaking of a vow of celibacy to divorce and breaking the vow of marriage? Are the many divorced Catholics doomed for eternity, whether they re-marry outside the Church or not?

In the small town in which I live I know of one married Catholic priest with a grown-up family. He is a good priest. He was an Anglican priest but left that Church to join the Catholic Church.

How does the Church and our Bishop view him compared to a celibate priest? More important, how does God view both priests? Does He love them both for doing a good job in His service?

Jesus never asked His followers to be celibate. He chose Peter, who was married, as His first priest in His Church.

Is the Catholic Church missing out on good men by insisting they remain celibate?

My book, whether you read it or not, covers all these points in, I hope, a delicate and compassionate manner. It is a "good read" - or so I am told.

I would, however, welcome your views on this subject in the comments box below.

Saturday 24 January 2015

Purgatory - The Purification Center

Many Catholics and non-Catholics have wondered about Purgatory. Does it exist? There's no mention of it in the Bible. Is it just a Catholic invention to make money by asking people to pay for prayers and Masses to be celebrated for the repose of dead family and friends?

How long do souls stay in Purgatory? Is it a day for every venial sin? A week? A month? Longer?

How many days off do they gain when we pray for these souls or celebrate Mass for them?

What does Purgatory look like? Does it have a fire like hell? Is it hot or cold there? Or is it perhaps just warm so you feel uncomfortable but you don’t burn?

Does it have devils looking after all the inmates; like in hell, or are they a little kinder perhaps?

Are we in pain when in Purgatory? Like the fire in hell?

The notion that Purgatory is some sort of Purification Center or Car Wash where all souls with venial sins go to be made clean before entering Heaven has long vexed many wise minds.

The Catholic Church bases its teaching from Scripture. In Revelation Chapter 21 Verse 27 it says ‘Nothing unclean shall enter Heaven.’ So, strictly speaking, if we die with venial sins on our conscience we’re not spiritually cleaned; and that’s why we go to Purgatory.

The belief in the existence of Purgatory goes back to the early Christians; and other Christian denominations also believe in such a place where souls go before they are ready to enter Heaven.

Given that very few of us will die with no sins whatsoever on our conscience, the Church teaches that there must exist a place, or a state of being, or a state of purification, where we are cleansed of our sins and we can enter Heaven. This place, or state of being, is known as Purgatory.

Jesus did describe Heaven at one time as a mansion with many rooms. So it follows, perhaps, that in our imagination we visualize Purgatory as a physical place too.

The pertinent point, however, is that the Church teaches that there is a stage where souls destined for Heaven undergo a period of purification. 

St. Therese of Lisieux, who is a doctor of the church, has her own view of Purgatory.  She maintains that one does not need to go to Purgatory.  While still only a novice, she spoke to Sister Maria Philomena, who believed in the near impossibility of going to Heaven without passing through purgatory.

Therese’s response was, “You do not have enough trust.  You have too much fear before the good God.  I can assure you that He is grieved over this.  You should not fear Purgatory because of the suffering there, but should instead ask God to take you straight to Heaven.  As soon as you try to please Him in everything and have an unshakable trust He purifies you every moment in His love and He lets no sin remain.  It is then you can be sure that you will not have to go to Purgatory.”

She maintained that we offend God if we do not trust Him enough to take us to Heaven as soon as we die.  When she found out that her novices talked occasionally that they would probably have to expect to be in Purgatory, she corrected them saying, "Oh!  How you grieve me!  You do a great injury to God in believing you're going to Purgatory.  When we love, we can't go there."

Now, this is a new doctrine, but only for those who don't know God, who are not childlike, who don't trust.  

It is so correct to see things this way.  It is true that God will judge us at one point, but He is always and first our Father Who suffers when He has to punish His child and sees him suffering.  The child should do His will just out of love, and not to avoid punishment.  This really means that God does not want Purgatory!  He allows His children to suffer, but only as if He had to look away. 

Once Sister Therese had a confrontation regarding this topic with Sister Marie Febronia, who was sub-prioress.  She heard that Sister Therese encouraged her novices to believe that they could go straight to Heaven.  She did not like this as she considered this kind of confidence presumptuous, and thus she reproached Sister Therese and told her that what she taught her novices was wrong.  Sister Therese tried lovingly and calmly to explain to Sister Febronia her point of view but with no success as she clung to her belief.  For Sister Therese God was more Father than Judge, and she concluded by saying, "My sister, if you look for the justice of God you will get it. The soul will receive from God exactly what she desires." 

Soon after this Sister Febronia died.  Three months after her death Sister Therese had a dream which she related to her Mother Prioress, "Sister Febronia came to me last night and asked that we should pray for her.  She is in Purgatory, surely because she had trusted too little in the mercy of the good Lord.  She told her, ‘You were right.  I am now delivered up to the full justice of God but it is my fault.  If I had listened to you I would not be here now.’" 

What is Purgatory?  It is where the souls of the just are purified before they can enter Heaven and live with God. Their suffering is so intense as they wait and long to live with God but are unable because they have to endure this process of purification.  Therese’s advice to each one of us is, “Live your life as best you can and say to God our Father, “Please do not send me to Purgatory.  The moment I die may I come straight to You in Heaven.”  

May I add?  Have a great devotion to Dismas, the Repentant Thief.  He by-passed Purgatory with one request, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”

Jesus didn’t turn to him and say, “What!  You have been a rogue and robber for many years.  You have the audacity to say, ‘Remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.’  Let Me tell you this.  If you want to come into My kingdom it is a lifetime’s task.”  Instead Jesus said to him. “I promise you this very day you will be with Me in paradise!”  Here we see how one appeal for love was enough to blot out a life time of sin!

NOTE: I am grateful to Father Francis Maple for the information this post contains. Father Francis publishes a daily homily - Please click HERE.

Thursday 22 January 2015

O Fortuna

"O Fortuna" part of the collection known as the Carmina Burana.
(Lyrics from Wikipedia).
O Fortuna
velut luna
statu variabilis,
semper crescis
aut decrescis;
vita detestabilis
nunc obdurat
et tunc curat
ludo mentis aciem,
dissolvit ut glaciem.

Sors immanis
et inanis,
rota tu volubilis,
status malus,
vana salus
semper dissolubilis,
et velata
michi quoque niteris;
nunc per ludum
dorsum nudum
fero tui sceleris.

Sors salutis
et virtutis
michi nunc contraria,
est affectus
et defectus
semper in angaria
Hac in hora
sine mora
corde pulsum tangite;
quod per sortem
sternit fortem,
mecum omnes plangite!

O Fortune,
just like the moon
thou art variable,
always dost thou
wax and wane.
Detestable life,
first dost thou mistreat us,
and then, whimsically,
thou heedest our desires.
As the sun melts the ice,
so dost thou dissolve
both poverty and power.

and empty fate,
thou, turning wheel,
art mean,
good health at thy will.
in obscurity,
thou dost attack
me also.
To thy cruel pleasure
I bare my back.

Thou dost withdraw
my health and virtue;
thou dost threaten
my emotion
and weakness
with torture.
At this hour,
therefore, let us
pluck the strings without
Let us mourn together,
for fate crushes the brave.

Monday 12 January 2015


To Love A Priest 
Victor S E Moubarak
ISBN-10: 1505908558 
ISBN-13: 978-1505908558

When Father Ignatius’ past catches up with him there is no way to escape the consequences for him and those around him. He must face facts regardless of how seriously they could affect his vocation as a priest.

“To Love A Priest" is the most controversial book in the Father Ignatius series and deals with questions on many peoples’ mind, especially Catholics, which are as yet unresolved by the Church.

A heartbreaking story of great sacrifice, grief and regrets with far-reaching consequences for all involved. The author portrays realistic characters in convincing situations and challenges the reader to decide what they would have done in such circumstances.

This is a gripping account of conflict between conscience and dogma, treating a delicate subject with compassion and forgiveness.

My latest book "To Love A Priest" has now been published and is available HERE.

I hope you enjoy reading it and sharing your views on this difficult subject. Thank you.

Saturday 10 January 2015

God's Timescale

Nothing teaches us patience like waiting.

Remember when you were young and lacked patience? In those days a week was like a year. Especially if you’d been promised something by your parents and you had to wait and wait …

I suspect the same applies to us when we relate to God. We pray for something and wait … but God does not work to our timescales. He has His own plans and maybe what we’re asking for is not good for us … just yet.

Which reminds me of another story which I remember very distinctly from my youth.

The reading in church was from 2 Peter 3:8 where he says: “There is no difference in the Lord’s sight between one day and a thousand years; to Him the two are the same”.

I remember thinking as a child: it must be difficult to have an appointment with God. Imagine God saying to Moses to go to Mount Sinai “tomorrow”; and Moses asking “Is that in 24 hours or in a thousand years time? Because I’d be dead by then!”

I hope God forgave the impertinent mind of young child.

Thursday 8 January 2015



Sunday 4 January 2015

Charade in church

At the back of our church we usually have one or two ushers. Their job is to welcome people coming in to church, hand out the missals and hymn books, take the collection, (and often a second collection), and generally help throughout.

At the end of Mass, just before the blessing and dismissal, our priest usually reads one or two announcements he has to make: change of Mass times during the week, beginning of First Communion classes and so on.

He then looks round the church and asks: have I forgotten anything else?

The other day, the usher at the back of the church, an elderly gentleman in his 70s, raised his hand. The priest looked at him in silence expecting a prompt. The old man raised his leg and started patting his knee. The priest waited in total confusion. The old man then started pacing up and down like a Scot playing the bagpipes. The priest eventually gave up and said: I didn't realise we were playing charades! And gave the final blessing.

As people left the church I heard the priest ask the usher what was all that about.

The usher replied; Pat MacDonald is in hospital. We should pray for him. I patted my knee and walked like a Scot for Mac ...

At which the priest interrupted: How would you have mimed Donald? Impersonate Donald Duck?

Saturday 3 January 2015

I cannot tell

I heard this hymn for the first time on TV the other day.

Does anyone know it, or heard of it before?