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Editorial message for October 19

Jesus says

"I have come that you may have life, life in all its fullness." John 10:10


The Curate's Diary is dedicated to leading people into that life, The Spirit Powered Life

The Curates Diary

Shillelagh, Arklow



Please understand that it is not possible for me to take phone calls. Enquiries to Martina at 053 942 9926 between 9.25 and 2.00 on Weekdays





Faithful Friend,

The "Amazon Synod" takes place from 7th to 26th October. Real prayer for it is needed. While I am heartened by many things in the working document for the synod, I find some elements of it deeply concerning.

Chapter 1 of the working document for the Amazon Synod opens with,


³I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly² (Jn 10:10)"

In fact that is only half of John 10:10.  The first half of the verse reads,"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy."  So there is a thief, and if we are to have life in all its fullness, we need to reject the thief, which involves identifying where he is at work whether it be within our own Church or within other religions or cultures.
In other words, there is need for "discernment of spirits".  If there is supernatural power at work, where is that power coming from?
Furthermore, while a few Bibles, especially the King James series of Bibles, do translate the Greek adverb, 'perisson', as "more abundantly", it could be best translated as 'superabundant' or the maximum of abundance, which is why most Bibles translate it as "life in all its fullness".

The next question is:- if Jesus has come that we may have "life in all its fullness", are there steps that we need to take to become open to it?
Firstly, as Jesus himself makes clear, we need to follow Jesus. "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me and I will give them eternal life" John 10:27 -28a.

Jesus also made it clear that not everyone follows him, and that by implication, not everyone receives eternal life (or life in all its
fullness). Jesus said to them, "You do not believe because you are not of my sheep." John 10:26.

Furthermore to properly understand the verse, "I have come so that they may have life, life in all its fullness" we need to reflect on other things that Jesus said like, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me shall never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst"  John 6:35.

Anyone who does not have a living relationship with Jesus has not "come to" Jesus. And anyone who has not invited Jesus to live within them does not know Jesus as the "bread of life".

In fact to begin to experience the life in all its fullness that Jesus offers, ten key steps are ESSENTIAL.

1. Come to a living relationship with Jesus

2. Invite Jesus to live within you.

3. Grow in your awareness of Jesus living within you.

4. Develop methods of prayer which will allow you to become more
open to Jesus who is within you.

5. Set yourself to grow in your love for Jesus, for the Father, the
Holy Spirit and our Blessed Mother.

6. Accept Jesus as your Lord.   Accepting Jesus as Lord means
accepting that He knows best, and seeking to live by His teaching.

7. Pray for the grace to become as open to the Holy Spirit as is
humanly possible and seek His guidance in all your decisions.

8. Learn how to draw strength from Jesus who is within you and who goes before you.

9. Commit yourself to so loving God that in all things you will seek to do His will.

10. Persevere in steps 3 to 9 on an ongoing basis, continuing to grow in your living of them.

The very first step in leading people to experience the "life in all its fullness" that Jesus offers, is to lead them to a living relationship with Jesus.

Having quoted a poorly translated version of what Jesus said, and having omitted the first half of the verse about the thief, and any mention of the need for the discernment of spirits, the Synod document follows with the heading,
"The Amazon, source of life".

The document continues, "This Synod revolves around life: the life of the Amazon territory and its peoples, the life of the Church, the life of the planet."

What a pity the Amazon Synod doesn't "revolve around" how best to help the people of the Amazon come to a living relationship with Jesus who alone can lead them into the fullness of life.

The document continues, "As reflected in the consultations with the Amazon communities, life in the Amazon is identified, among other things, with water. The Amazon River is like an artery of the continent and of the world, it flows like veins for the flora and fauna of the territory, like a spring for its peoples, its cultures and its spiritual expressions. As in Eden (Gn 2:6), water is a source of life, but also a connection between the differentmanifestations of life, in which everything is connected (cf. LS, 16, 91, 117, 138, 240). ³The river does not separate us, it unites us, it helps us to coexist between different cultures and languages.²

Yes, the Amazon is a very important river, but, at a well in Samaria, that was as least as important to the people who lived nearby as the Amazon, Jesus said,  ³Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a fount of water springing up to eternal life² John 4:13-14

Further on, the Amazon document states, "Jesus offers life to the full (cf Jn 10:10), a life full of God, a salvific life (zo¯e¯), which begins with creation and manifests itself from the start in the most elementary dimension of life (bios). In the Amazon, it is reflected in its abundant bio-diversity and cultures. That is to say, a full and integral life, a life that sings, a song to life, like the songs of rivers. It is a life that dances and that represents divinity and our relationship with it."

But ''life in all its fullness" after the fall {Original Sin}, begins not with creation, nor with bio-diversity nor local cultures, but with
conversion and a living relationship with Jesus Christ, nor is there "a full and integral life" without not merely a living relationship with Jesus Christ but growing in that relationship.

The document continues,   "The quest of the indigenous Amazon peoples for life in abundance finds expression in what they call ³good living² (buen vivir). It is about living in ³harmony with oneself, with nature, with human beings and with the supreme being, since there is an inter-communication between the whole cosmos, where there is neither excluding nor excluded, and that among all of us we can forge a project of full life.²"

But such "harmony with oneself, with nature, with human beings and with the supreme being" is not possible without conversion, and that conversion requires the ongoing grace of God, which while available to all peoples, is most easily accessed through a living relationship with Jesus.

Thankfully the document does later on state,  "the proclamation of Jesus Christ and having a profound encounter with Him through conversion and the ecclesial experience of the faith presuppose a welcoming and missionary Church that is incarnated in cultures. She must keep in mind the steps that have been taken in response to the challenging themes of the centrality of the kerygma and of the mission in the area of the Amazon. This paradigm of church action inspires ministries, catechesis, liturgy, and social pastoral
ministry in both rural and urban areas."

It also states, "The mission of the Church is to announce the Gospel of Jesus of Nazareth, the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:25-36), who has compassion on wounded and abandoned humanity. The Church proclaims the mystery of his death and resurrection to all cultures and all peoples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Mt 28:19).

That these passages are in the document is greatly to be welcomed. But arethey the driving force that will dominate the synod?

The document refers to the many 'born again' groups. It fails to mention that people are leaving the Catholic Church in droves to join these churches.  It mentions how some of these groups preach a false prosperity gospel, as indeed they do, and how others preach a gospel of fear, as indeed they do - unless you use their formula for being born again, you are lost forever.

It does not mention that the chief draw of these groups is that they introduce people to a living relationship with Jesus who alone is the source of life in all its fulness.

The document also states, "The life of Amazon communities not yet influenced by Western civilization is reflected in the beliefs and rites regarding the actions of spirits, of the many-named divinity acting with and in the territory, with and in relation to nature. This worldview is captured in theŒmantra¹ of Francis: ³everything is connected² (LS 16, 91, 117, 138, 240).

Note the 2 phrases, "the beliefs and rites regarding the actions of spirits" and "This worldview is captured in the Œmantra¹ of Francis: ³everything is connected"


But are there not also evil spirits, the invoking of which is dangerous?

If there is supernatural power at work, where is that power coming from? See P. 19 for a clear example from the Amazon region of the need for the discernment of spirits.

The document goes on to say, "The Synod of the Amazon .... is a great opportunity for the Church to discover the incarnate and active presence of God ... in the spirituality of original peoples; in the expressions of popular religiosity ...."

If this is true, then that raises other questions:- were all the Old Testament prophets wrong in their denunciation of the worship of Baal and of the other pagan gods?

 And should the First Commandment "You shall have no other gods before Me" be deleted? (Exodus 20:3)

Jeremiah believed he was proclaiming a message directly from God when he proclaimed, "I will repay them double their iniquity and their sin, because they have defiled My land with the carcasses of their detestable idols, and they have filled My inheritance with their abominations"  Jeremiah 16:18.

Hosea believed he was speaking God's own words when he proclaimed, "You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Saviour except me."  Hosea 13:4.

Yet the working document for the Synod does appear to acknowledge other gods.

It also says, "There is a broad and essential arena of dialogue between the Amazon¹s spiritualities, creeds and religions that requires an approach of the heart to the different cultures. Respect for this space does not mean relativizing one¹s own convictions, but recognizing other avenues / pathways that seek to decipher the inexhaustible mystery of God."

Once again there is no mention that some of these "other avenues", like the common practice in the Amazon of seeking to be a medium for the spirits of the dead leads people into very dangerous territories.  (See P. 19 for an example)

The document continues, "Insincere openness to the other, just like a corporatist attitude, that reserve salvation exclusively for one¹s own creed, are destructive of that very creed. The document continues, This is what Jesus explained to the Doctor of the Law in the parable of the GoodSamaritan (Lk 10:30-37). Love lived in any religion pleases God."

But did not Jesus say, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through me"?

He did not say, Go and recognise the "other avenues that seek to decipher the inexhaustible mystery of God", but "Go, make disciples of all nations." Was He being "destructive of that very creed" that He was proclaiming?
Concerning ordinary everyday acts of love, like loving those who love you, did Jesus not say, "Even sinners love those who love them?" People traffickers, drug dealers, and callous murderers are yet capable of what appears like loving acts within their personal circle.

The loving act that Jesus spoke of in the Good Samaritan story was an extraordinary act of love, a God-like act of love; and since God is love, extraordinary acts of love always reflect Him regardless of one's religion.

In the story of the Good Samaritan, He was not affirming other religions, and certainly not other gods, since the Samaritans believed in the one true God.  What He was affirming was extraordinary acts of love regardless of what religion one belonged to - which He again affirmed in Matthew 25.

"Then the King will say, ŒCome, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you took Me in, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you visited Me.¹"  Matthew 25

God, who is love, recognises self-giving acts of love regardless of one's religion. 

But that should not be seen or used as approval for either other gods or other religions.

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has redemptive power for all people of good will, (something which Pope St John Paul strongly affirmed), and, as a result, all people of good will who seek God can come to the Father through Jesus, even if they don't yet know Jesus. (See also Catechism.)

The God who is love, and who desires that all people be saved, rescues them through the power of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
They are not saved through the false gods that they believe in, but through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Through the grace of God and the redeeming power of Jesus, some religions have built up spiritual practices that help people in their relationship with God - a fact also affirmed by Pope St. John Paul.  That does not mean that they are saved by their gods.  Jesus alone is the one who saves.

There are also spirits and powers that are not of God, and occultic practices that lead people into bondage.

When people seek to mix Christianity with these other spirits and with occultic practices, there can be very
sad results. Again see P. 19

Much of the attention before the Amazon Synod has focused on whether mature married men could be ordained or whether there could be female deaconesses. But  there are far more serious issues involved than these.

If the working document is accepted in its current form, it could have very serious consequences in the tolerance of New Age practices, and so could have an impact on every parish here in Ireland.

People involved in practices like Reiki, Yoga etc will be able to appeal to it as justification for what they are doing.

It will also create a further major rift between the Catholic Church and Evangelical Christians, and will be a source of great upset to evangelical Catholics - and to all who are concerned about New Age practices

I can only beg you to pray that the voice of God may be heard, the voice of the God of Moses, the God of Jeremiah, the God of Hosea, who is the God and Father of Jesus Christ.

As Our Blessed Mother so often says, "Pray, Pray, Pray".

I ask you to do so especially during the Amazon Synod, October 6 - 27th, and until Pope Francis issues his encyclical after it.

Yours, in Christ

Thaddeus Doyle (Rev)

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