The Empty Vessel

This is one of my favourite prayers:

Behold, Lord, an empty vessel that needs to be filled.
My Lord, fill it.
I am weak in the faith; strengthen me.
I am cold in love; warm me and make me fervent, that my love may go out to my neighbor.
I do not have a strong and firm faith; at times I doubt and am unable to trust you altogether.
O Lord, help me.
Strengthen my faith and trust in you.
In you I have sealed the treasure of all I have.
I am poor; you are rich and came to be merciful to the poor.
I am a sinner; you are upright.
With me, there is an abundance of sin; in you is the fullness of righteousness.
Therefore I will remain with you, of whom I can receive, but to whom I may not give. Amen

This was written by Martin Luther.
I think I’ll give him this one… 🙂

A most misunderstood doctrine: Purgatory

Today I’d like to look at one of the most misunderstood doctrines of the Catholic Faith: Purgatory.

I’m not going to try and give a thorough theological treatment of this doctrine; others infinitely more qualified than I have done that. Rather, I would just like to offer a few thoughts that have helped me in my own acceptance and understanding of this teaching.

The doctrine of Purgatory is something that a lot of non-Catholics struggle with, yet in an odd twist, it was actually one of the first Catholic doctrines I came to hold during my return journey to the Catholic Church.  I came to believe in it because it’s a doctrine that is beautiful, Scriptural and profoundly logical.

Odd Ideas

Unfortunately, it’s also one of those doctrines which is often poorly understood. For example, I’ve come across Catholics and ex-Catholics who were under the impression that Purgatory is basically Hell, or that Hell is still a possibility for those in Purgatory.  The Catholic Catechism denies both of these ideas, saying:

“[Purgatory is a] purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven… [It is experienced by those]…who die in God’s grace and friendship, but [who are] still imperfectly purified…  This final purification of the elect…is entirely different from the punishment of the damned”

CCC 1030-1031

The common objection you hear from non-Catholics is “But ‘purgatory’ isn’t even mentioned the Bible!” And they’re right.  The word “purgatory” does not exist in the Bible, but then again, neither does “Trinity” nor “Hypostatic Union”, yet all mainstream Christians believe in both of these doctrines. A simple word-search is not enough to understand this teaching…

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A new definition of love

A short post today…

A while ago there was this girl who was…well, she was pretty amazing…I was kinda nuts about her…

One evening I went to a Young Adult Diocesan event and was all all set to ask her out. Before I could speak to her that evening, the speaker got up and began his talk. During his presentation he gave a definition of “love” that I had never heard before:

“Love….is seeking the good of ‘the other’, in preference to your own, even at the expense of your own happiness”

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Cracking the code

One of the things I really liked about “The Da Vinci Code” (ridiculous ahistorial conspiracies aside) was that it got people looking at art and architecture with greater attentiveness to symbolism.  Christianity has always used symbols very heavily to express the truths of the faith and its art developed rapidly as a vehicle for this.

A few weeks ago I explained the meaning of the “IC XC” on icons, which is a short-hand for “Jesus Christ”, and earlier this week I explained the meaning of the letters which commonly appear above pictures of His mother. Today I’d like to provide a quick follow-up to another aspect of “IC XC” which you sometimes find in eastern art…

This is the painting on the front wall above the altar at Holy Angels:

How many “IC XC“s do you see?

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Happy Anniversary

Today is my sister’s wedding anniversary. I thought I’d mark it by sharing a very romantic, very nerdy video I found on YouTube…

While we’re on the subject of marriage, thanks to everyone who re-posted my entry “Husbands *love* your wives” – it’s now one of the most popular posts on this blog. Cheers! 🙂

Friday Frivolity: Raise your voices


(It starts cheesy, but at 1:00 mark it takes on a whole new worrying direction…)

Abortion Changes You

Monday marked the end of this month’s “Theology On Tap”, a Diocesan Catholic young adult event, this time hosted by the JP2 Group. Our opening speaker at the start of the month was the incomparable Paul J Kim and the series of talks was brought to a close by Michaelene Fredenburg.

Michaelene’s talk was entitled “Invitation to healing: reaching those touched by abortion”. Abortion is certainly a very sensitive subject and Michaelene handled it beautifully and delicately. She didn’t present a theological treatise as to why abortion is wrong, but rather presented insight into the life of someone who has been affected by abortion and offered some guidance as to how to sensitively help that person.

It’s inevitable that most people reading this post will have been affected in some way by abortion, either directly or indirectly. For this reason, if you were unable to make it to this last “Theology On Tap” session I would encourage you check out her website at

(In related news, the ex-fiancée of Aerosmith singer Steve Tyler has recently spoken about the abortion she had,  It’s truly worth reading. Tyler himself having spoken about this earlier in the month)

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