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Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Gospel is being proclaimed all over the world today. Have you heard of Alpha?

The Alpha Course developed over the past 30 years as the Holy Trinity Brompton Anglican Church equivalent of our Roman Catholic Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. In the late 80's and early 90's it took a very "user friendly" form and is sweeping across the face of the Earth like a good brush fire.

It is also called "A Practical Introduction to the Christian Faith." Currently in Canada, we are engaged in what Alpha Canada calls the Annual Alpha National Initiative which this year is taking the form of a "Prayer Blitz". The whole point is to give people of today who are searching for meaning and purpose in their life an opportunity to personally meet Jesus Christ, who is not dead, but risen from the dead, the first human being to do so.

That He is also Son of God is the main reason why He was the first one to rise from the dead. This also explains why He has so much to offer every human being alive and walking the Earth at this moment and in every generation and in every circumstance of life: youth, on campus, in homes, in community centers, in prisons, in the workplace, in the military, in a Catholic context, and in pubs and restaurants! As Paul preached the good news in the public square in Corinth, so too any setting can become an ideal opportunity to proclaim and share the good news today.

Alpha Canada's hope and plan is to draw together the collaboration of Christian churches of all denominations; so that the entire nation can be invited to "attend and Alpha Supper in a church or other venue near you" and have the opportunity to go to "an Alpha Course near you." Who is Alpha for? Anyone who is searching for more, who is beginning to feel that something is missing, that there has to be more to life than what they have found to date.

If that's you, then Alpha is first and foremost for you. If you have a friend, or relative, work colleague, or classmate who is always asking you questions or who is also searching for more, why not invite them to go check it out with you?

If you can't get the hyperlinks, here are some URL's you can check out.

Alpha Canada:

Find a course near you:


In the U.K.:

Friday, September 02, 2005

"It's a Wonderful Life!" is the story of a simple Christian. Jesus is still the best Good News we've got.

Man, it's been a long time since my last post, and I just wiped out 3 paragraphs by trying to insert a hot link before saving as a draft. My old brain isn't as sharp in some ways as it once was. In any event, on April 1st, John Paul II was dying, and the next day he breathed his last. His death had a profound effect on millions of people. The real question is how deep and extensive is the impact he had upon us while he was alive? This question is what makes the classic film "It's a Wonderful Life." such a beloved movie, especially at Christmas time, and that's no coincidence!

Most people can tell the difference within them from relating to one person or another but may find it harder to know what effect they are having on others. Pope John Paul II knew much about the effects he had on people, because that has a lot to do with just being a Christian and more do to with also being a priest, let alone a bishop or the Pope, Bishop of Rome. I just went today to visit with a brother priest and friend the exhibit at Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal entitled "Saint Peter and the Vatican. The Legacy of the Popes." Walking through history, as it were, stirred up a whole lot of significant memories in me.

I remember the day Cardinal Karol Wojtyla was elected Pope John Paul II. It was my first year of seminary formation for the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church, and on October 16, 1978 the new pope came out and addressed all of humanity, exclaiming "Do not be afraid to open wide the doors to Jesud Christ!"

Those words were like a blazing sword of fire cutting through my spirit like a hot knife through butter, only it wasn't something painful, on the contrary. It was rather like the lightning stroke one feels when one suddenly falls in love. There is a moment of recognition: "This is really good, beautiful, rich, precious... and I want it. I want to give myself to it, to him/her." or "Hey! That's what I've been looking for, or this is who I am, but I hadn't realized it until now. This is who I want to be from now on, and completely!"

The surge of power that went through me that day has left an indelible impact in my spirit, no, more than that, what happened in me that day was alive, and it lives still in me, and goes on growing, developing, and bearing fruit, like a tree. This is one way to recognize the power of God at work within us, in a human life.

Pope John Paul II was where he was because since the age of 16 or younger he had become familiar with this living power, and had come to recognize it in the form of three persons known to Christians as God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He had become so enraptured by these divine Persons, that even as a young man he found the freedom and enthusiasm to freely surrender his life to an unending relationship with them in a life of service out of love.

This is what it means to be a Roman Catholic priest. A bishop leads and cares for priests as well as the faithful as a father, and the Bishop of Rome is the bishop among equals chosen by the others to care as a father for all the others as well as for all the Catholic Christians in the world.

No human being could be so bold as to claim to be able to do such a thing, unless he were insane of course. However, it is a commonplace belief for all Christians that what is impossible for humans becomes suddenly possible when we accept to be in partnership with God. It is the divine partnership of the Father, the Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit that made Pope John Paul II such a powerful figure and effective servant of humanity.

Would you believe that you can have the same kind of experience? Well, it's true! Even if you have a hard time in believing in God! All you have to do is want to do it and go ahead and do it. Just call out from within your spirit, the center within where your heart and mind and psyche and body become one, and say, "Are You really there? Please let me know, and in a way that I can know that it must be You because there could be no other explanation." Then brace yourself and see what happens.

Keep in mind a few things. The eye sees by being sensitive to electormagnetic waves we call light. The ear hears by being sensitive to dynamic sympathtic waves we call sound. The skin feels by being sensitive to air waves we call breeze or wind.

The soul or spirit perceives by being sensitive to "movement" or "touch" within itself. It's like the example I gave above of what happened within me when I heard Pope John Paul's first words to the world. It's also like what happens to us when we're with a really good perosn and friend. There is movement within us, we are touched by who this person is, what they say, how they feel, the way they look at us, the care they show us, and so on. We are changed by this person and are no logner quite the way we were before this encounter.

It is that way with other human beings, and it is also this way with the three divine persons. Why shouldn't it be? A person is a person. So, go ahead and call out. Talk to a Christian you know who has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, his Father, and the Holy Spirit. Talk to a pastor, or go to a church.

Find out where there will soon be an Alpha Course near you - go check out the Alpha Canada website. What have you got to lose? You have everything to gain, both now on earth, and for ever in the eternal life beginning after death. Jesus is still the best Good News humanity has ever had or will ever have! Don't just take my word for it. See for yourself! If the hotlink feature isn't working, so here's the URL: