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New Book by Fr. Christopher Fox MHM: The Miracle of the Universe

This third book by Fr. Christopher Fox is a collection of personal reflections seen through his own very clear lens that colours his world view and coloured with a number of anecdotes and jokes. He continues to tell his stories with that light touch of a good story teller that displayed itself in his previous publications of Painted Butterflies: Memories of a Missionary (2015) and Our Lady’s Apron: A collection of articles on spiritual topics (2016).

From the introduction

The Greek philosopher Socrates once said that the unexamined life is not worth living. As I approach my ninetieth birthday it is a good time to look back over the years and the changes in my own life and in the Church

The Greek philosopher Socrates once said that the unexamined life is not worth living. As I approach my ninetieth birthday it is a good time to look back over the years and the changes in my own life and in the Church and how these affect one’s journey through life. I grew up in the thirties and forties in rural Ireland. My parents were devout Catholics and obviously their influence was paramount in shaping my formation. We got by on a modest farm but we an had to play our part in the many chores entailed. I still have vivid memories of picking potatoes on a cold morning with numbing fingers. There was a good community spirit. Neighbours would drop by in the evening and exchange local gossip. Newspapers were rarely seen. The family rosary was routine. There was no crime. We never locked the door of the house when we went to Mass on Sunday.

Religion came to us clothed in the garments of penance. Preparation for First Holy Communion and for Confirmation was not a joyful experience with too much emphasis on obligation rather than celebration, with fear of God more stressed than love of God. Later on when studying moral theology in the Seminary sin and obligation were dominant factors. The multiplication of mortal and venial sins would do justice to any rigid Pharisee.

As a young priest I greatly welcomed the changes that took place after the second Vatican Council. We discovered the spirituality of Easter, the goodness of all creation and the importance of secular values. We added the 15th station, the Resurrection, to the way of the Cross. Black vestments were left in the drawer. Dies Jrae, a hymn about the wrathful judgement of God was heard no more. Many imposed penances were removed to give people more responsibility about what was suitable for them. The good news of the Gospel was emphasised. In prayer we were encouraged to make the longest journey, from the head to the heart. Revelation was seen not just as God revealing to us what to believe and how to act, but rather as communion with a loving God sharing divine life with us. Faith was understood not just as intellectual belief in God but should be experienced as a loving trust in God whom we dare to call Abba, Father.

As I write these words, early in 2021 with corona-virus dominant the future looks challenging for society as a whole and for the Church. What is God saying to us by this epidemic? For some it is a sign that God does not exist. For many it is a reminder how dependent we are on circumstances beyond our control. Thank God medical science is making good progress fighting the disease but it will take a long time. How will the Church fare when it is all over? It is very hard to predict. In addition to facing up to the challenge of getting people to attend church regularly, it has to bear the burden of past scandals, such as clerical sexual abuse and more recently the mother and child revelations when w` unmarried mothers and their babies were treated in a most unchristian way and so many babies were left to die without care and buried in unmarked graves. Unmarried mothers were denounced from the altar. Reading about that whole scandal now fills me with anger and revulsion.

Yet I believe that the Church will be saved by good women and men, by dedicated priests and religious and by courageous leadership. It will be purified and chastened by this desert experience and we should remember that it was in the desert that God revealed Himself to the Israelites, purified them and made them His people.

and how these affect one’s journey through life. I grew up in the thirties and forties in rural Ireland. My parents were devout Catholics and obviously their influence was paramount in shaping my formation. We got by on a modest farm but we an had to play our part in the many chores entailed. I still have vivid memories of picking potatoes on a cold morning with numbing fingers. There was a good community spirit. Neighbours would drop by in the evening and exchange local gossip. Newspapers were rarely seen. The family rosary was routine. There was no crime. We never locked the door of the house when we went to Mass on Sunday.

Religion came to us clothed in the garments of penance. Preparation for First Holy Communion and for Confirmation was not a joyful experience with too much emphasis on obligation rather than celebration, with fear of God more stressed than love of God. Later on when studying moral theology in the Seminary sin and obligation were dominant factors. The multiplication of mortal and venial sins would do justice to any rigid Pharisee.

As a young priest I greatly welcomed the changes that took place after the second Vatican Council. We discovered the spirituality of Easter, the goodness of all creation and the importance of secular values. We added the 15th station, the Resurrection, to the way of the Cross. Black vestments were left in the drawer. Dies Jrae, a hymn about the wrathful judgement of God was heard no more. Many imposed penances were removed to give people more responsibility about what was suitable for them. The good news of the Gospel was emphasised. In prayer we were encouraged to make the longest journey, from the head to the heart. Revelation was seen not just as God revealing to us what to believe and how to act, but rather as communion with a loving God sharing divine life with us. Faith was understood not just as intellectual belief in God but should be experienced as a loving trust in God whom we dare to call Abba, Father.

As I write these words, early in 2021 with corona-virus dominant the future looks challenging for society as a whole and for the Church. What is God saying to us by this epidemic? For some it is a sign that God does not exist. For many it is a reminder how dependent we are on circumstances beyond our control. Thank God medical science is making good progress fighting the disease but it will take a long time. How will the Church fare when it is all over? It is very hard to predict. In addition to facing up to the challenge of getting people to attend church regularly, it has to bear the burden of past scandals, such as clerical sexual abuse and more recently the mother and child revelations when w` unmarried mothers and their babies were treated in a most unchristian way and so many babies were left to die without care and buried in unmarked graves. Unmarried mothers were denounced from the altar. Reading about that whole scandal now fills me with anger and revulsion.

Yet I believe that the Church will be saved by good women and men, by dedicated priests and religious and by courageous leadership. It will be purified and chastened by this desert experience and we should remember that it was in the desert that God revealed Himself to the Israelites, purified them and made them His people.

This book is available from Amazon

Other books by Fr. Christopher Fox MHM

In this first book of 240 pages, ‘Painted Butterflies, Memories of a Missionary,’ Fr Christopher Fox, as he prepared to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of his ordination in 2015, looked back at an event filled life, lived in many different countries.  With his fellow missionaries he was with the people of Uganda in good times and in bad.

He witnessed dreadful atrocities but was always inspired by the courage and generosity of ordinary men and women. There is a note of optimism throughout his writing that good always triumphs over evil. Some of the episodes in his life are of absorbing interest and he recalls them with the light touch of a good story teller.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Painted-Butterflies-Memories-Missionary-Christopher/dp/1909154784/

Our Lady’s Apron A collection of articles on spiritual topics preceded this in July 2016.  In this publication of 134 pages, Fr. Christopher Fox, an experienced director of retreats, shares some thoughts and reflections on prayer and the spiritual life.  He feels that one of the greatest needs for all of us is to think deeply on the meaning of life and to free ourselves of so much mental and emotional rubbish that is thrown at us from all sides.  He writes clearly of the beauty of genuine religion and the teaching of Jesus and the power of Christian love.   

As he said in the introduction to Our Lady’s Apron “Over the years I have contributed articles to various religious magazines, Friends have suggested that these should be collected and published in book form.  I have selected a number of them for publication here.  I hope you find them helpful in developing your own relationship with God.  We all approach God in our own personal way but it is well to keep in mind some essential truths, namely that the God we worship is a God of infinite love, made visible in the person of Our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Each one of us is a unique human being, created in the image and likeness of God, a beloved daughter or son of a loving Father.  Prayer in its widest definition is how we express our relationship with God.’

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