After such positive feedback yesterday and some questions and queries, I continue my little Vlog on the same theme!
No French version today ..sorry!!
Today I decided to record a short (7 minute) video from Soho square in London.
On my left is St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, on my right is Old Compton Street and all the gay pubs and clubs and with me here in the square are the homeless.
As I sit in this square I talk from my heart about the terrible isolation and pain of being gay, being catholic and living in London and the real difficulties of this ministry that our church leaders care so little about….
As we pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, let’s remember the love of Jesus for the marginalised gay community.
I also recorded a french version for any and all of my french friends.
Come Holy Spirit for the ‘gavangelisation‘ of the whole world. Break down all the hatred and misunderstandings and replace them with the love, mercy and compassion of Jesus.
Top of the morning to you all!
Today’s little blog entry is about something very simple and yet something where many people feel blocked in their spiritual lives and ministries. Growth! How to move forward.
As a child I often found myself out in the fields chasing after cows. Every now and then they’d all have to be tested for diseases and given certain medications against diseases such as fluke.
As we’d be rounding them up some areas of the fields were literally knee deep in mud and getting from one place to another was like negotiating an obstacle course.
Now my dad, a silent type of a man did have a few catch phrases and although simple, when repeated over time were effective and wise!
“Go slowly and pick your steps”.
You see you had to concentrate, look about, look ahead, look for a safe place for your foot and then move.
Think too much and the cows were lost, think too little and you were lost!
It was like real life chess.
As life progressed I noticed that the “pick your steps” principle still held true and 25 years later when I had to visit a psychiatrist for a little bit of support he repeated almost the same thing.
“Festina Lente” he said which translated from Latin means “Hurry slowly”.
Now judging by his physical weight one could argue that he should hurry a bit more quickly but judging from the big smile on his face and his warm, loving and caring approach, Dr. O’Mahony had definitely got something. How he loved and cared for his patients and remained so positive even when some like me were in despair was in itself a gift.
So without further ado, let’s examine this ‘hurry slowly’ principle.
You have a target, like assembling a piece of furniture from IKEA all the pieces of the puzzle are there, just somehow to put them together.
Applying this to your life, you have gifts and talents, you have friends and aquantices, you have church and ministry……how does it all come together?
Unlike the wardrobe from IKEA which I assembled a few days ago with some help from housemates there is often one thing missing when it comes to assembling our lives, a step by step instruction pack!
However this doesn’t have to be a roadblock. Just because you don’t have the instruction book doesn’t mean that there isn’t an instruction book so you simply need to befriend the guy with the book!
The other day that guy was me! I had the book and we all worked together as a team and we assembled the wardrobe quite easily.
However I don’t have the book to my own life and while I may have been giving instructions the other day, usually I’m the one receiving instructions when it comes to my own life and Jesus is the guy with the book!
If we try to do life without consulting the guy with the instructions, we are likely to finish up like this follow , an utter mess.
And so this is why if you really want to grow your gifts you need 2 very fundamental things.
1. A good prayer life grounded in humility and honesty with both yourself and with God.
2. A spiritual coach, spiritual director, mentor, teacher…..whatever word you put on it but someone who knows what they are talking about and will be the visible presence of God so to speak as you grow.
Next you will need a lot of focus. You must stay focused on your calling and on the end result while not losing courage by seeing how far away it seems now.
You must believe in yourself that you can and will make it with God’s help and that giving up is not an option.
Next criterion is patience. Like following any set of instructions from baking a cake to assembling a wardrobe, there are many small steps that need to be done with care and attention if all is to work out.
As the Holy Spirit has so often reminded me in prayer:
“Small steps are big steps”.
They seem small to us because we are perhaps too focused on seeing the end result and yet these little and invisible steps are exactly what will give the end result its flavour and functionality.
What good is a wardrobe if inside there are no shelves or indeed what good is a beautiful cake if upon tasting it we find that it has no flavour?
And similarly, what good will your ministry be if all it is is an outward shell lacking love and depth and so anointing?!
Here is where you will get tested the most.
“You are going too slowly”
“Life is passing you by”
“You are too old”
“People half your age are streets ahead of you”.
Ignore them all and continue to hurry slowly.
Next important step is obedience. Your gifts and ministry will grow over time.
I’ve met many people over the years who have given me a very hard time because I’m in ministry and I’m not fully healed. Many of them too have have spiritual gifts but gave up somewhere along the way believing that it was the humble thing to do.
No! God can and will use you on a small scale at the start and as He grows you, He will use you on a larger scale. Don’t listen to those who tell you otherwise. Yes you will make mistakes, at times your mistakes will even hurt others but that’s all part of the journey. Learn from them and keep on going.
Surround yourself with a small group of similar minded people. Think of a music band, you don’t want too many as otherwise it’ll get too complicated but you want a few so that you can encourage one another and share ideas.
Even if you see yourself more as a solo artist, it’s still important to have a few good and like minded friends. You’ll need them for the hard days and also to help you celebrate when you pass important milestones!
Now the most important ingredient of all is one that I have already mentioned. Prayer.
If you really want to grow your future, you will have to keep one eye on the past too.
Inner wounds and hurts from the past are the main things that the evil spirit uses to try to stop us. God does not heal these in one go, He does it progressively.
Ongoing inner emotional and spiritual healing is not an option if you really want to grow, it is a must!
Every now and then like a car that needs servicing, the Holy Spirit will send you for yet another retreat and you’ll be surprised at what gets uprooted! He’s doing this to strengthen you so that you will have the inner strength to stand strong when you get abused and criticised for what you are doing by those who hate both God and the church.
Again this one is a stumbling block for many! Why work so hard and then to be hated for it?!!!
Well this my friends is the true seal of authenticity. Jesus was not loved by people, He was crucified but because He did everything for the love of God rather than the love of people, He died happily.
Are we looking for the approval of people or is God’s approval enough? Do we have what it takes? Are we willing to go that extra mile or are we like the rich young man who walks away when he learns what following Jesus is really all about?
Finally, before I finish I will mention one last thing and this is for Catholics only I’m afraid (for the rest of you, you are always welcome to convert!).
There is enormous spiritual power and strength available in the sacraments. Daily mass and regular confession provide more strength and power to rise above the most difficult of trials and there is no creature in the universe more willing and more equipped to help us come to these sacraments with maximum fervour, understanding and surrender than Our Lady, Jesus’ first act most successful missionary!
And so with all that said and written, you can do it! You are not alone, God is with you, the sacraments are there, many other Christians are there too to help and they too had to start off somewhere.
So chins up, there are souls to inspire, there are people to love and there is Jesus to please!
“You can do it, hurry slowly and pick your steps!”
P.S. Feel free to get in contact if you would like some advice, mentoring or just to chat!
Here I am in Soho, if you look closely you can see Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament behind me.
As I was praying this morning I once again thought of priests and at times the criticism they come under. In some cases it’s well merited but sadly then the good suffer with the bad as they are all put into the same pot!
So I decided to share an uplifting story that happened to me and that involved a priest.
I had just moved to a new area in Split in Croatia. Split 3 for anyone who knows Split and I went to mass at a different church. Before mass there was confession available and so in I went.
The priest was extremely tall, could have been a model or a bodybuilder and certainly not what you’d expect to find especially in a relatively conservative country like Croatia.
I made my confession and one thing was sure from how this priest replied, he knew the resurrected Jesus.
A few days later we moved into our new apartment which was in a building with 14 or so floors. The area was full of these buildings and so thousands of people must have lived there.
And so can you imagine my surprise when as I was opening the post box the priest walked in?! Not only did he live in the same building but he lived in the apartment directly under ours!!
And so over the course of the next few months we got to know him and we became friends.
Christmas day of that year his parents were visiting and he invited me over for a chat. It was a real blessing and also an eye-opener.
You see sometimes we think that priests come out of holy, pious catholic households and that somehow they have the perfect loving and supportive family.
Nothing could be further from the truth in many cases and this was one of them. His parents were lovely people and as we chatted away in broken Croatian I learnt that they were not regular mass goers and if I recall correctly his dad didn’t believe in God at all.
It suddenly hit me more than ever how the love of this priest had not come from having the perfect family, the love had come from the pain of having a broken and wounded family.
He understood my pain from his pain, he understood my trouble with my family from his and he understood God’s love for both of us!
But the blessings didn’t stop there. He was a very gifted man (and still is) and was gifted in art, poetry, preaching, photography, sport and far more.
It seemed that he brought God and the priesthood into his humanity and his humanity into his priesthood.
The result was a dynamic, fun and fresh approach that was appealing and exciting and was a real testimony to the creative power of God’s grace.
As Pentecost approaches my prayer is for priests, that like my friend Ante that they too will find new and creative ways to bring the love of Jesus and the catholic faith to people using both prayer and the natural gifts that God has given them.
My prayer is also for those priests who do not have the perfect family and who faces invisible trials that none of us know about. I pray that we may be merciful and compassionate as the laity and that their pain and suffering will bring them even closer to the loving hearts of Jesus and Mary who like in the case of my friend Ante, can take and transform the pain and use it to help other souls going through similar.
Have a great day and may all our priests today be blessed with love, perseverance and holy joy!
Good morning from a sunny London! Here is a magnificent photo of our very own St. Francis…
It reminded me of a funny incident that happened when I lived in Sydney.
I had just arrived in Sydney and an evangelical pastor invited me to do a 2 year internship on inner healing.
For the first couple of months I stayed at his house and with his family in an area of Sydney called Sutherland. Ron had given his life to helping broken people and ran a very successful inner healing ministry for many years.
All that aside, one Saturday morning I was alone in the kitchen and in flew a parrot. Now in this area there were many parrots so it wasn’t exactly unusual.
As the parrot flew around the kitchen things began to fall and break and the crazy bird began to panic.
Now bearing in mind that I grew up on a farm, animals had their place and that place was outside.
What on earth was I going to do and what would I tell Ron and his wife Ruth?
And then as if by a miracle the dog who spent 90% of his time sleeping sprang to life!
Indy, a beagle who looked similar to the dog in the picture grabbed the bird, nailed it to the floor and rescued the situation.
Now there was only one problem, was the dog going to kill the bird and what about all the blood and feathers?
I called upstairs and by the grace of God one of the kids was home. Rushing down stairs he came into the kitchen and scolded the dog!
“Bad dog, bad boy”
I was astonished as in my humble opinion this was the first useful thing poor Indy did since he was born.
Long story short, the bird escaped out the door and all was well.
However it doesn’t end there! You see afterwards I shared what happened to my friends and at least 90% of them all took the birds side.
From my country background saving the kitchen was more important than saving a bird but others saw things differently.
My lesson in Australia was only just beginning when it came to animals as I discovered the lengths people were willing to go to in order to keep them alive.
One elderly lady I met on the street was walking a dog that looked like a cat with anorexia and when I said “what an unusual dog” (instead of saying “what an ugly little monster”) she went onto tell me all the medication she gives it. Pills for arthritis, pills for epilepsy, pills for sleeping.
$$$$$$$$$$$$ I thought!
Yet all these things got me thinking! Life you see is about belief systems and priorities and what is very important to one person may not be at all important to another.
We see this nowadays in all walks of life and especially in the church.
Some people like me give their lives to following Jesus and to prayer while other people don’t believe that there is any God nor is prayer of any value.
And when someone has a conversion experience their priorities change and so the value they place on things change.
In the ideal church and world God would take first place. Seeking His will, cooperating with His ways and bringing as many people as possible to knowing him through prayer would be our common passion.
Afterwards would come the other necessities of life and so people would not be so absorbed in careers and material success as many are today.
And so as Pentecost is approaching and we are praying for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, it might be a good time to ask ourselves humbly and honestly:
“Where is God and serving God through the way I live my life and help others in the list of my priorities?”
“How concerned am I by the current state of the world and the cry of Jesus to save souls?”
“Am I more concerned with living a good earthly life that I forget about eternity?”
“How do I see the church and how am I helping her?”
Obviously you could ask many more questions!
On that fine Saturday morning in Sydney, the life of a little parrot was saved. How much more beautiful that today the Lord Jesus is inviting us to prayer and conversion so that we can not only save animals, so that we can save souls from perishing eternally.
“Jesus, may our lives be an example to others of your existence and your call to prayer and conversion. May you use us to bring your love and hope to others. Purify us of all false priorities and may loving and following you be the only thing that really matters in our lives. Bless all animals too, especially parrots and beagles!”
Blessings to you all,
This morning I was happy to read about how the churches in France have reopened after a legal battle.
It was also nice to see at least one bishop speaking out about the injustice and discrimination on behalf of the government who (like here) had clumped the reopening of churches in with reopening of things like cinemas etc.
For those of you who speak french, here is a short clip of the bishop of Toulon who I happen to know! He speaks of the discrimination and he encouraged Catholics to make themselves heard by peacefully speaking up and out….
And judging by yesterday’s result, it worked!
Bravo Monseigneur Rey and may your example and courage guide and inspire other bishops to do the same here in England and elsewhere.
As France has been on my mind I was suddenly reminded at our Holy hour last night of another little lesson that God taught me a few years ago in Paris.
I was en route to Lyon and visited Paris for a few days. I stayed near the sacred heart basilica where I went to daily mass and adoration.
I was also quite near the famous Moulin Rouge and the area full of prostitutes and what not and as usual I found myself as a bridge between 2 worlds; heaven and hell.
Long story short I lost my mobile phone. It was a Samsung galaxy given to me by my good friend James from my time in Australia. He got a new phone and gave me his old one. That was my first smartphone and the beginning of my 6 year relationship with Samsung!
So back in my hotel room with no phone I cried out to God. Why? Honestly I was exhausted and felt so let down by Jesus and yet in my heart I said that there was surely a reason.
Determined not to lose my peace over a silly phone I said “I surrender, what will be will be, you’ll sort it out”.
Soon as I said that I heard the voice of Jesus whisper clearly in my heart “you will get it back”.
Now it wasn’t a very good phone as it was old and the screen was cracked but I didn’t need or have the money for better.
I figured I must have dropped it at a coffee shop and as for getting it back, that would be an act of faith because that area of Paris is notorious for pick pockets.
It was late and I went to bed both worried and at peace. After all I’d been through greater trials than that.
Next morning I traced my steps back to the coffee shop where I had been the previous day. I asked the owner if he had found a phone. His automatic ‘Non’ left me very far from convinced but I could hardly tell him that he looked like a right thief and to give it back….even if he did!!
As I left the shop somewhat disappointed and even more frustrated with Jesus I heard the owner call me back?
‘Un portable avec l’écran écrasé ?’
(A phone with a cracked screen?).
“Oui” (yes) I quickly replied and there I was reunited with my Samsung.
So God was right but the story doesn’t end there!!
I went to make a call and it wouldn’t work, the SIM card had been stolen.
And I suddenly thought:
“Lord Jesus, you are impossible at times, you told me that I’d get the phone back which I have but you didn’t mention that it wouldn’t have a SIM card….still love you, you are teaching me and I can be stubborn, thank you”.
The next day I left Paris and went to Lyon. Someone donated €100 to me and I heard Jesus whisper again to me “use that to buy yourself a new phone”.
Needless to say I obeyed immediately and got myself a new Samsung Galaxy.
Anyway, all that to say what exactly?
To say that God is good but that He does put us through many tests and many trials that we would not expect and that at times we could really be tempted to just give up and to opt for an easy life.
It is also a message to blind trust, especially when things are not working out as you had expected and when it seems that Jesus is allowing all these bad things to happen to you and is doing nothing to stop it.
Jesus simply makes use of trials and sufferings to grow us in trust so that He can bless us more afterwards.
And so wherever you are today and regardless of what is going right or wrong I encourage you to trust in God’s goodness and believe in your heart that He has a plan and that although you may be in pain now, one day that plan will come to fruition and every tear will be turned to joy!
Jesus, I trust in you.
Good Sunday morning! It’s a bit cloudy here in London but other than than all is great!
As I look back on the last week I see with gratitude that it has been filled with so many blessings.
It makes me think of what someone asked me during the week:
“Hey Michael, are you surviving lockdown?”
To which I replied without thinking:
“Surviving? I’m thriving”
To which he looked bemused!
Lockdown can lock the shops and churches, it can lock the cinemas and other amusement facilities but it can’t lock our hearts nor can it lock the hearts of Jesus and Mary nor shut the doors of heaven.
Lockdown is an opportunity for us to love in other ways, to find fulfillment and peace in other ways and I must say that I’m having a ball! Maybe and actually most certainly, all my previous years of travelling and overcoming difficulties has given me a great ability to adapt to whatever life throws at me and so I find it quite easy to remain at peace inside!
By focusing on God and by allowing all difficult periods to be agents of growth, everything can be turned into a positive and Jesus, who overcame death by death is the master teacher of this!And so today is Sunday, the day of the resurrection, let’s bring to Jesus our trials and tribulations and thank Him for them because it is by working and praying through them that we too will experience resurrection in our lives.
Let us put away all grumbling and complaining and negatively and with the power of prayer and the intercession of Our Lady, may every thought and every word we think and speak be filled with love, with hope and with trust in Jesus Christ, our Lord of Lords and our friend.
Have a super day!Michael
Good morning to you all!
Today’s little story is about the power of confession!
One of the things I do when I tell people about Jesus is that I tell them how Jesus heals.
Jesus heals in a variety of different ways and yet there are some key factors.
Despite all the different prayer and deliverance gifts that God has blessed me with, I’m still acutely aware of their limitations and of the power of the sacraments of both confession and the eucharist (mass).
It’s a bit of a funny analogy but when a cow has a calf, the calf takes a bit of time to stand on it’s 4 legs and then after it learns to stand (after much falling) it has to somehow find where dinner comes from!
Often I used to watch my dad helping mother nature along by helping the calf to stand and guiding it to its mother’s udder. Only once the calf was getting the hang of it and was fairly steady on his feet would my dad go home.
Many times I think that helping people spiritually is somewhat similar. Many are totally unfamiliar with spirituality and like the newborn calf struggle to find food.
It is by no means obvious either that confession to a priest or receiving holy communion could help and so time, patience and some teaching is required to explain to people both how, why and when to go to mass and confession.
Yesterday I had a mission to bring a new friend of mine to confession. He has just come back to the practice of his faith and is making progress in leaps and bounds.
He hit a rough patch during the week and every time I prayed, I kept getting the word ‘confession’!
So yesterday I brought him to confession. As he sat beside me on the bus I could feel the negativity harassing him and just before meeting the priest he said:
“You know what, I’m going for a walk”.
His eyes were dark and he wasn’t himself. I knew well that he was being oppressed by the demonic which is not uncommon, especially for a new convert.
This is where my patience gets pruned and tested because at times I could just snap and say
“for f€#k’s sake…just go”
But then I remind myself that no so long ago I was like that and surely worse.
So with all the patience I could muster and aware of my own irritability I held my peace and he followed me over to the priest.
“Here, take him, do something” I thought as I delivered him to the priest who is also a friend of mine.
About ten minutes later the soul surgery was over and there he was smiling! The darkness or whatever it was had left his eyes and he felt a new strength to continue on.
He happily told me how the priest told him how much God loves him regardless of his sexuality and how everyone has struggles in life which is why it’s important to pray and to keep coming to Jesus.
We enjoyed a nice walk in the park before I brought him to receive holy communion and to eucharistic adoration!
I must admit that I was very proud of him. Like going to the dentist, many back out and it was beautiful to see his courage, his honesty and his humility.
“I don’t want to go back to my old way of life” he said as he thanked me for being so patient with him.
“If only you knew” I thought as I was thinking that I’d need a good confession too after putting up with him earlier. 🤣🤣🤣
And so the journey with Jesus and leading others to Him, to His church and to His ways continues.
I thank Jesus today for the gift of the sacraments, for all our priests who have given their lives for this and I pray that more and more people will truly come to learn and to experience how the sacraments can be so healing, so freeing and so liberating!
Blessings to you all and may our churches be reopened as soon as possible and the healing power of the sacraments made available to all and sundry.
After a very hot day yesterday, today seems somewhat cooler here in London and I for one am quite happy!
This is me after my 8km or so “run in the sun” yesterday
I was dying and I must admit that I felt like giving up 100 times.
This brings me to my lesson for today, “perseverance under pressure”.
As a ran yesterday I observed in my mind and thoughts a certain ‘moaning Michael’.
He went like this:
“It’s very hot”
“You haven’t drank enough”
“Your legs are tired”
“Stop and walk for a bit”
“Just give up”
“I feel sick”
“This is hopeless”
And so on and so on.
And inside it was a real battle to ignore this persistent and nagging voice of negativity and doom!!
And yet ignore it I did, and while I wasn’t able to turn it off entirely, I was able to play another voice in my head louder than it!
The voice of my will and my reason!! And it went like this:
“You can do it”
“One step at a time”
“Don’t think ahead”
“You are doing well”
“You’ve done it before”
“It’s normal for it to be hard”
And so step by step I continued and somehow made it to the end without stopping.
Now credit where credit is due, if it wasn’t for my running mate I would definitely have given up but seeing him persevering in the heat helped me to persevere too.
As we wound down we discussed how just like getting fit takes a lot of hard work and perseverance, so too does the spiritual life and how at times we want God to do it all and not accept that we need to put in the effort on our side.
There is an expression:
In other words, when you are done praying for God’s help and grace, then you must get out there in the world and believe that you have it and give it your all.
God’s grace stretches us and acts in and through our humanity.
Some people think that you must pray and wait for the grace to do something (running in my case) and then when the grace comes you will be able to do whatever it is easily and effortlessly!
What a joke and how much God must laugh at such ideas and excuses for doing nothing.
God will give you the grace alright, step by step! He’ll give you the grace to overcome the aching of your body or the breaking of your heart and while you will feel every ounce of the pain, a greater source of strength and power will get you through it.
“I haven’t got the grace yet” say so many people and with that type of attitude, I doubt they ever will.
Instead they should ask the question:
“What is the first step?”
“Have I got the grace for that?”
And afterwards they can do the same thing for the second step, and the third step, and the fourth etc.
There is no way to heaven or to christian perfection except by taking up one’s cross and going to battle with oneself. There is no way to avoid pain and suffering and newage spiritualities that suggest there is are simply untrue .
“Where is the joy then?” You may ask!
Well just like when I finished my run yesterday, the joy was certainly not in my legs or in my body, the joy was in my heart.
The joy of the truth, the joy of succeeding, the joy of overcoming, the joy of persevering, the joy of improving and the joy afterwards of saying “I did it”.
Obviously we shouldn’t push ourselves too far and I am blessed to have a friend who is a qualified massage therapist and even my aching back and legs stopped complaining when they too got a bit of attention.
So what’s my message today?
“Perseverance under pressure” by taking things one step at a time and by trusting that if you do all you can at your end and if God is doing all that He can at His end that between you both you’ll make a mighty team and finish the race!
So may God bless you all, never give up, keep on going and one day you will surprise yourself too for the glory of God and His wonderful ways.