Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Pope Francis: 'The Exorcist'?

On Pentecost Sunday, there was widespread speculation in the media that Pope Francis had performed an exorcism. This has since been denied by the Vatican who said "The Holy Father did not intend to perform any exorcism. Rather, as he frequently does with the sick and the suffering who come his way, he intended simply pray for a suffering person who had been brought before him."

But the questions remains, 'what did happen?' and 'why did people think it was an exorcism?'

In this video, the Telegraph claims:

"Smiling broadly, the Pope initially shook the man's hand, but the South American pontiff's expression changed dramatically after a priest from the Legionaries of Christ, a conservative order, leaned in close and spoke a few words to him.

With a more serious expression on his face, Francis placed both hands on the man's head for 15 seconds.

The pilgrim, said to be a 43-year old married man from Mexico called Angelo, then convulsed briefly and emitted a long sigh. His body went limp and his mouth dropped open."

This, many commentators claim, to be evidence enough that an exorcism took place. This includes high ranking priests and bishops who claim the Vatican are simply trying to play this down.

The Vatican have been quick to make clear:

"Exorcism is, in the strict sense, the “casting out” of evil spirits. The power to exorcise was conferred by Jesus on the apostles, and it is understood that this power passes to the bishops who are the successors to the apostles, and priests the co-workers. That said, the Church has had – for many hundreds of years, it ought to be added – a very precise ritual of exorcism: there are no evangelical-style tent revival theatrics, but careful, even methodical attention and faithful following of the prescribed prayers, gestures and use of sacramental such as holy water and the crucifix."

For many, the key word in Fr Lombardi's explanation of Sunday is 'did not intend to perform', but maybe he did anyway? Do those who are claiming the Vatican simply want to play this down, believe that it brings the wrong kind of attention to the Church? Is it something that makes people feel uncomfortable? Does this simply give critics of religion and the Church an opportunity to trivialise and find scandal in a man's suffering?

Read more: Telegraph Vatican
To find out more detailed information on the Catholic Church & Exorcisms: Catholic Encyclopedia
BustedHalo Podcast & Interview: Interview with an Exorcist

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Can modelling be a Christian job?

So during this busy exam season, the main motivation for many is the final job. Work hard at school, maybe go off to uni and then at some point most students want to be earning a decent salary to have a good lifestyle. But for Christians, does this job matter? Are Christians called to some form of vocation to live in a Christian way, not just in church, but in our daily lives? 

At 19, Kylie Busetti beat 10,000 other young women to win Victoria’s Secret Model Search back in 2009. She travelled the world, modelling lingerie as a Victoria’s Secret Angel - an absolute dream job for many. Even she said, "I thought the models I saw defined beauty, and beauty meant you were important"

A year ago, she gave up the job for good.

Why? In an interview she said:

“My body should only be for my husband and it’s just a sacred thing. I didn’t really want to be that kind of role model for younger girls because I had a lot of younger Christian girls that were looking up to me and then thinking that it was okay for them to walk around and show their bodies in lingerie to guys.”

She has recently been back in the news after Victoria's Secret have claimed that the stories in her book, "I'm No Angel: From Victoria's Secret Model to Role Model", are not true. They claim that despite them asking her repeatedly she did not do as much modelling as she claimed.

However the industry is notoriously tough on its models and it is well believable that as her Christian husband was not a celebrity she was encouraged to tell people she was single. 

Her final decision came at an FHM magazine shoot when a photographer instructed her to pull up her top and "hold up the covers like you don't have any panties on". This was the moment for her when she fully realised that she was being paid to strip down and pose provocatively to titillate men. She said, "It wasn't about modelling clothes anymore; I felt like a piece of meat."

In an interview with LifeTeen she said, "The Lord graciously opened my eyes and heart to the fact that I was not honoring him with my body and I was not being a Godly role model to other young women. The Lord showed me that it was not respectful to model lingerie for other men to see me in and that my body should be for my husband. I had a desire to have a Christ centered, Godly marriage and I was not living out that desire by modeling in lingerie."

Watch a 2min clip of her story here:

Read full interview with LifeTeen <here>
Read news articles <here> and <here> 

What do you think about Kylie's decision? How do you think her family reacted? Is this a classic case of the dream not matching the reality? Do you think young women should read Kylie's story to make them think about their career choice? Are there 'more' and 'less' Christian jobs? Does a Christian's job matter? Lots to think about with this...

Thursday, 9 May 2013

GCSE RE Revision

Y11 study leave started today, and the EdExcel RE GCSE (Unit 3) exam is just a few days away! 

This is hopefully the time that you can make full use of the online resources provided by the RE Department at Sacred Heart of Mary Girls' School:

Revision books are still available from RE staff for £1 each (one for Unit 3 and one for Unit 10).

If you have any RE textbooks, please return them to the Department by leaving in D6.

The key websites: - group code D99to4

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Exams & Prayer

The excellent shared an article from Youthwork Magazine, in which a Christian youth minister shares an open letter to students everywhere:

Dear young people,

This letter is written with nothing but love and respect for you. We've entered exam season. I remember well the stress and tension, the constant reminders from teachers that 'these are the most important exams you'll ever take' and the feeling that you are going to do nothing but spend the next three months of your life revising.

I wanted to write to you to try and speak some different words into your life. In this time of stress and tension I wanted you to hear some other messages apart from 'revise, revise, revise!' and that feeling that your future success and achievements are all based on getting straight A*s.

This isn't about detracting from the importance of exams, or going against what your teachers are saying! These exams are important, revision is necessary, but what I'm trying to say is that there is more to life:
Firstly, before you take your exams, remember this simple fact - you are amazing. You have gifts, talents and abilities that are unique to you. You have something to offer to this world, something that cannot be taken away, or added to, by these exams. Please remember that. Your worth, your value, in God's eyes is not affected by your performance over these next few months. He already thinks you are amazing.

Secondly - and I say this without any intent of guilt - please don't give up on church. Whether that's Sunday services, house groups, youth groups - whatever and wherever it is that you connect with God, please don't give up on it. Right now, in this intense period of your life you need God more than ever, and you need the support of those around you - to pray for you, to support you. You also need times of fun, times of laughter, times of complete relaxation to not only enjoy yourself but also to help your brain process what you've been revising.

I understand that you may not be able to come every week, or to every session but please don't disappear until your last exam has finished. We want to help you, care for you and pray with you. Also, when your exams have finished - please come back! Don't think that not being able to come all the time means you can never return - we want to hang out with you, to celebrate the achievement of finishing your exams with you!

Finally - don't forget your personal faith. Your own Bible time and times of personal worship are equally important at this time. It's vital that you find time to speak to God, to give him your concerns, your worries and your fears and also receive from him - his hope, his strength, his love.
So please, remember God, remember us, and I hope we will see you soon.

(Article found here. This was written by Nick Francis who is "a youth minister in a Methodist, URC & Baptist LEP church in Buckingham. He is married with two kids, is a bit of a geek and if he wasn't landlocked would love to surf every day.")

I would also obviously recommend a prayer to Saint Joseph of Cupertino (the flying Saint!) who you can read about here.

A prayer for the undertaking of exams from the Catholic Youth Ministry site:

Loving God, be with me now, as I prepare for my exams.
Thank you for the many talents and gifts you have given me and for the opportunity of education.
Calm my nerves and anxiety, help me to remember all that I have studied, to express it clearly and to answer the questions the very best that I can.
Holy Spirit, sit with me in my exam - and always.
In Jesus' name
Matthew Huish, a Unification church pastor also shares this advice:

"I would encourage a student to pray like this at the start of the exams: “Heavenly Father, I’ve been working for months to prepare for this exam. This is now my opportunity to make an offering to you by performing well. I hope I can make you (and my parents and teachers) happy by getting the top grade!"

He goes on to give a final piece of advice (I'm not 100% on this one...):

One last word of encouragement: When the exam supervisor announces, “You may now begin the exam,” I advise you to do nothing for 30 seconds. Don’t open the exam booklet. Don’t lift a pen. Don’t even open your eyes. Just sit in calm meditation knowing that you are more important that this exam, remembering that God loves you and you love God, and be aware not just the small exam hall in which you sit in silence but also of your position in the entire cosmos. I always found that it helps me relax and be prepared to perform to the best of my ability (according to my preparation) in that situation.

(Read the full article here)