You feel…because…

“You feel…because…” it’s an odd formula, isn’t it? Yet I can remember sitting around with a group of people, and learning to use it routinely. We were all marriage counsellors in training practising a fundamental skill for the work we were going to do.

Thus: “You feel hurt because your wife nags you for staying on late at work.” or “You feel ashamed because you can’t control the children”.

There’s method in the madness. People who have needs (and who hasn’t?) are unlikely to be open to change if their feelings are not first understood. We need to know – and show we have understood – where people are coming from.

I was once under the impression that I was a good listener. But in truth, while I was apparently listening I was working out what my neat answer was going to be. The outcome was that people nodded at my speedy solution or argued back. Either way they left me unhelped.

I have instanced a formal helping situation, but the same approach applies in a whole range of situations. We might be talking to children, a spouse, an old friend or someone we chat with in the supermarket. It may sound like a sort of social trick – along the lines of Carnegie’s How to Make Friends and Influence People (a book on conducting personal relationships which has never been bettered), but it is much more important than that.

We are enjoined to love people as we love ourselves. But this doesn’t mean that we benefit people in the ways which benefit us. What it means is that we should benefit others in the way they need to be benefited. And how do we find out what that would be? The best start is to listen to them, and reflect our understanding of what they have said to us. The very fact that we have understood and uncritically accepted what they have said, encourages them to say more. In doing so, we learn more. And the speaker learns more as he or she begins to refine and develop their thinking. As one wise priest said to me: we don’t know what we think until we’ve said it.

But don’t take my word for it. Try a simple exercise. Unless you are a hermit, you will find opportunities even this very day to respond to someone who expresses something of moment. Remember the formula “you feel…because…” even if you don’t use the exact words. Here are a couple of examples:

“You’re irritated because I don’t put books away when I’ve read them.” (To my wife 5 minutes ago),
“You’re bright today because the grandchildren are coming to tea.”

You won’t find it easy because we have to stifle our own egos to do this. But give it a few tries and report back. If you make it a habit you will truly win friends and influence people, but in the best possible way.

About Quentin

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70 Responses to You feel…because…

  1. Brendan says:

    In this Year of Mercy , sounds just like , ‘ what the ‘ Doctor ‘ ordered ‘. I find that after frequent sacramental Confession I notice myself sometimes pleasingly open to my fellow man and the need to listen and ‘ take in .’
    ‘ Ego’ appears strangely suspended ( in line with Quentin’s thinking ) laying oneself open to state of confident vulnerability – the subject of your interest becomes the object of your desire to know . This makes the other person feel wanted ( loved ) and your moment infinitely worthwhile ( graced ). This engagement in true human perception ( holiness ) allows Gods Mercy to manifest itself in fulfillment of His work among’st humanity ( the Kingdom of God ).
    However, it is not ‘ I ‘ that instigates this , but the eternal ‘ doctor ‘ . Needless to say human psychology in line with ‘ natural law ‘ moves one from practical application to the realm of The Kingdom of God , and His infinite possibilities.

  2. Quentin says:

    Iona, who is having computer trouble, emailed me the following:

    “Hello Quentin, and a happy Easter to you also.

    I have read the “Listening” blog. I was taught very much the same thing
    when (as an educational psychologist) I attended a course on “Solution
    focused brief therapy”.

    My brother was “received” two years ago. I have said a prayer for your

  3. Iona says:


  4. Iona says:

    Ha! Success.

  5. Vincent says:

    I was reminded here of that illustrious psychotherapist, Carl Rogers. We don’t hear his name so often nowadays and so we may forget his influence. Put simply, he described a whole therapy on the basis to which Quentin refers. He had little time for psychoanalysis, which emphasised the analysis of early traumas for the relief of problems . Instead he focused on patients being helped to discover their own insights. While successful in its own terms, it needed to be built on to extend its effectiveness. Modern methods such as cognitive behavioral therapy, which include behavioral methods, were developed from Rogers, and, indeed, effective ‘talking therapies’ are built on his foundation. This suggests that ‘you feel…because..’ is a real gift the listener offers to the speaker.

  6. Brendan says:

    It seems appropriate that given the right subject(s) and training , this cognitive approach ( if it is not already being used ) could be used in reconciling groups in conflict areas of the world , apart from just marriage guidance. What turned previously hardened IRA terrorist prisoners to renounce violence? What was the trigger for the group as a whole to ‘ come in from the cold ‘ ? In countering ‘ brainwashing ‘ techniques , could ” I feel …because …” be used at some stage to wean/discourage those from embracing ISIS/Al-Quaeda groups ? No one would underestimate this enormous task.
    Emeritus Pope Benedict ( in thoughts reminiscent of St.John Paul and Pope Francis ) broke silence this week in a rare interview with words…. ” Mercy is what moves us towards God, while justice make us tremble in his sight.”
    It is worth mentioning another phrase from a mind as sharp as ever , ibidem…. ‘ Benedict added that the Church was facing a ”deep crisis” and that following Vatican ii the Church lost its
    ” attentiveness to salvation.” ‘ ( quotes from this weeks Catholic Herald ).

    • Quentin says:

      Because of a glitch, this comment may be duplicated.
      Brendan, the Tablet this week gives a fuller account of the Benedict interview. Briefly, he argues that, following Vat II, the Church abandoned the notion that unbaptised people are not saved. He continues “If faith and salvation are no longer interdependent, faith itself becomes unmotivated.” He claims that Karl Rahner’s view which states “that those who have not heard the gospel can still be saved through Christ is inadequate

      The full interview is at The section concerned is towards the end, from a para starting: “Servais: In the Spiritual Exercises,”

      You view on whether the belief that those outside the Church can be saved lessens the motivation for converting the world would be interesting.

  7. Brendan says:

    Thank you for reminding me of the full interview – and the link a i am not good at that sort of thing.
    I agree with Benedict – which I put down to a ‘ sense of the Faith ‘. This in this time of crisis huge implications for the future of Catholicism . Which I see being played out in my own parish at present for example. I’m rather tied up the moment but I hope the ‘blog ‘ with take this further a bit more and will join later

  8. John Nolan says:


    ‘What turned previously hardened IRA terrorist prisoners to renounce violence?’ Because violence was seen to be a means to an end, not an end in itself; and if the ends could be achieved by other means, or if the ends were not practicably achievable in the foreseeable future; or if the (violent) means were counter-productive; then renunciation of violence makes sense.

    The identification of Irish nationalism with violence (often extreme and indiscriminate) has tarnished it until fairly recently, and differing views on what constituted nationalism led to even more violence in the civil war which followed the establishment of the Free State in 1922. As we approach the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising certain things need to be borne in mind.

    Padraig Pearse was a devout Catholic yet had a death-wish and a morbid preoccupation with blood-sacrifice. He embarked on a rebellion which he knew had no chance of success, which of course contravenes the ‘just war’ principle, something he was well aware of. Michael Collins, who led the guerrilla campaign against the British after 1918, was also a practising Catholic yet sanctioned the murder of policemen who were also Irish Catholics since his reading of the French Revolution had convinced him that only violence legitimized a revolution. He himself met a violent death at the hands of his own countrymen.

    In their different ways Pearse and Collins (who were principled men, not to be confused with psychopaths like Cathal Brugha and opportunists like Eamon de Valera) have cast a long and baneful shadow over recent Irish history.

  9. overload says:

    Thanks Brendan for this link. I have now also read the interview.

    Quentin, I understand it that Benedict is not refuting the claim of Vat II that the unbaptised can also be saved (which he says has now been “fully affirmed”); he is however suggesting that this is no straightforward matter, and that Rahner’s line of thought about why / how this is so—that the Gospel is, along with other religions, merely awakening what is natural in man’s predisposition towards God—”overlooks the change and renewal that is central to Christianity”.

    To my mind Benedict—despite his firm “sense of faith”, as Brendan puts it—is indicating that there is a crisis of identity (for the Church, for our Christian belief & identity) which cannot be overlooked: “it is clear that we need to further reflect on the whole question”.

  10. Brendan says:

    Thank you John Nolan for an historians view on some crucial players in Irish Republicanism . As a distant descendant of Irish diaspora , mercifully I was spared the worst aspects of its motivation. To that end devout , Catholic and nationalist will never sit easily with me … but that’s another conversation.
    I attended a lecture last week by Miss Ann Widdecombe ; who reminded us of her time as a minister in John Major’s government , when to talk to the IRA meant political suicide for anyone who even broached the subject. Of course John Major had the foresight and courage to do this ( albeit in secret ) , which we can be thankful for in triggering a process which brought lasting peace in bringing all sides in Northern Irish politics – albeit sometimes fragile – to the democratic process . I agree history and public opinion will set it out just as you say .
    Yes , I thought of ‘ hard men ‘ who for purely political reasons gave up the gun ( perhaps only because it became expedient for the time being ); but what little I understand of it , there were intermediaries in these ‘ discussions ‘ such as Catholic priests and others who knowingly or unknowingly presented in some way the .. ‘ I feel …because ..’ approach to some of its members who were just waiting for a ‘ hand ‘ ( a way out of a terrorist hell ) to be held out to them.

  11. Brendan says:

    Good to hear from you overload – thank Quentin for the ‘ link ‘.

  12. Brendan says:

    I bid you all goodnight ….Happy Easter ( Pasg Hapus ) to you all !

  13. St.Joseph says:

    I remember the first time I ‘felt’ the Sacred Host ‘jump’ in my chest as I swallowed Him my Beloved at the age of 10. I will never forget it as it confirmed to me the Truth of the ‘Living Jesus’ in the Holy Eucharist.
    To be confirmed many years later with Eucharist Miracle which are undeniable facts. They place us before the great reality God exists; He became flesh. He is present and active in our history. He exposed Himself to suffering and death, to destroy death and to give us life. The happiness we all seek depends on our relationship of love with Him alone.

    A Happy and Holy Easter Sunday to all as we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ Our one Lord and God who died for our Salvation. We pray for those unbelievers that they will ‘feel’ the Love of God and believe in His Life Death and Resurrection and for perfect Peace in our World.

  14. overload says:

    Quentin, I will not attempt to answer your question (our view on whether the belief that those outside the Church can be saved lessens the motivation for converting the world), however on this issue I highlight these points (which I hope might be of use for further consideration / discussion) which struck me from the interview with Benedict:

    “The religious experience of Luther was dominated by terror before the wrath of God, a feeling quite alien to modern men, who sense rather the absence of God”.

    For modern man “the problem is not so much how to obtain eternal life, but rather how to ensure, in the precarious conditions of our world, a certain balance of fully human life.”

    It is “no longer man who believes he needs justification before God, but rather he is of the opinion that God is obliged to justify himself”. Yet even so, “the man of today has in a very general way the sense that God cannot let most of humanity be damned. In this sense, the concern for the personal salvation of souls typical of past times has for the most part disappeared.”

    • overload says:

      And in extension to my last comment, moving towards the theme of mercy:

      “It is mercy that moves us toward God, while justice frightens us before Him. In my view, this makes clear that, under a veneer of self-assuredness and self-righteousness, the man of today hides a deep knowledge of his wounds and his unworthiness before God. He is waiting for mercy.”

      “It seems to me that in the theme of divine mercy is expressed in a new way what is means by justification by faith.”

  15. Nektarios says:

    It would serve us well, I think to first to listen to God.
    Mankind does not realise he/she is in a prison on the one hand and on the other hand in poverty, or a slave to the Prince of this world by nature.
    We cannot really understand anything of this world, our place in it, what is happening to us until we at least being to see that.

    There are so many problems man has along with all their effects. The root of of them all comes from the Fall. I read Emeritus Pope Benedict’s answers, But my answer is not that things have changed for man part from the superficial, but the problem of sin has not.

    The effects of sin are all around us, wars famine, poverty, slavery, corruption and so on. Yet man does not want to discuss it, to him the message of the Gospel is foolishness to him.
    He is blinded by the Prince of this world. He does not realise he is a prisoner of the devil, He does not realise he is locked up in his prison. He cannot see that he is a slave to sin, and to the master of sin- the devil. He does not see is real poverty, his serfdom to the devil. He does not see that all his troubles originate with the temptations of the devil.
    Sin has not only affected our hearts but also our minds. Do we really know where our thoughts come from? Do we see where they are coming from? If we don’t we are still in the prison house and blinded by the devil.

    In Luke 4:18-21 Christ is telling those Jews who He is and why he has come.
    It is perhaps beneficial to have a counsellor or many, but first, like God the Father said, to those disciples on the Mt of Transfiguration, ‘This is by beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, listen to Him.

  16. Brendan says:

    It is of profound importance that this blog discusses the theme of Mercy in this ” odd ‘ saying ..’ I feel …..because.. ‘ which encompasses the cry for the release of that which is hidden in the very depths of the human spirit……. salvation, and the means to justify the person.
    Emeritus Pope Benedict at this Symposium ( October 2015 ) published now , on reflecting the theme of the Fathers Mercy predicated by Pope St. John Paul and affirmed in this Jubilee Year by Pope Francis; concludes that modern society needs a ” new evolution [ understanding ] of dogma ” partly because of our falling away [ by anthropocentric pride in other ideologies ] from the eternal truths of our Salvation in Christ through His Church ; and secondly because of our present strong sense of justice becoming confused with a previously held understanding of the Cross [ St. Anselm is invoked here ] , juxtaposed with The Father to the almost exclusion in the mind of believers , the indispensable sacrifice of His Divine Son.
    As he says….”, suffering is not a matter of cruel justice , not a matter of The Fathers fanaticism it is just ,,” the way Creation is ”…. so that God who has formed it cannot leave it a it is but is compelled to reach out time and time again through the graces given by the once and final act of supreme sacrifice of God through Christ Jesus Our Lord and Saviour . … ”where sin abounds grace is in abundance ..” – Romans:5-20.
    What Benedict is saying to the Church ( all Christians ) I believe ; is that those who convey this ‘ fresh ‘ understanding … ” express in new way [ concurrent with the times we live in ] what is meant by justification by faith. ”….necessary for our Salvation.

    • Nektarios says:


      You write in your posting, ‘Emeritus Pope Benedict at this Symposium ( October 2015 ) published now , on reflecting the theme of the Fathers Mercy predicated by Pope St. John Paul and affirmed in this Jubilee Year by Pope Francis; concludes that modern society needs a ” new evolution [ understanding ] of dogma ” partly because of our falling away [ by anthropocentric pride in other ideologies ] from the eternal truths of our Salvation in Christ through His Church ; ‘

      There is a certain truth here, but not to the same extent, by which I mean, the problem is sin, not modern society.
      What gives rise to man centred or anthropocentric pride is not a lack of understanding of religious dogma, it is sin.

      Secondly, it is a departure in their view, ‘from the eternal truths of our Salvation in Christ through His Church.’
      Let me remind you, it is not society at large around the world that has departed from the eternal truths of our Salvation in Christ – the world has since the Fall always been separated from God,always departing from Him, rather the departing are those who are not necessarily separating themselves from the eternal truth of our Salvation in Christ, but from the Church. It is not the world at large that are departing from the Church, they are members from within the Church that are departing.

      There is no such thing as this little addendum, ‘….. through His Church’.
      Yes , Salvation is in Christ right enough, and true believers are members of the Church
      who are all partakers of that life in Christ. But many are members of a Church who are not Christ’s people, yet. Many have been there for years.

      A person who becomes a Christian is a direct action of the Holy Ghost, not primarily an action of the Church with whatever inventive dogmas that robs Christ of His glory and has taken that to itself by the Church -a human organisation. One can see where the anthropocentric pride comes in.

      No matter what we do, we cannot make a true Christian of another. We have done all the changes to communicated to succeeding generations, the problem is not out there somewhere, it is within each of us and within the Church institutions.

      • overload says:


        “No matter what we do, we cannot make a true Christian of another.”

        No, but can we not (and must we not) seek out Christ in the other, and believe in them as His, whether or not they themselves also do?

        Why was Jesus sweating blood in Gethsemene? According to the insights of St Faustina, he was struggling to bear with the luke-warm, regarding whom—because of their indifference / contempt for Him—His soul found utterly repellent.
        One might consider that Jesus knew Judas was headed for perdition (certain damnation?), so why did He call him friend? Why agonisingly extend mercy to one who necessarily is cursed and will, according to God’s will, not accept that mercy? Can we only dismiss an anti-Christ, as St John suggests we should, as one who has committed the “unforgivable sin”? What about Julian of Norwich’s insight from Christ: “all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well”—is there hope even for the damned?

        Considering all this, and the 2nd and foremost commandment: to love one another as He has loved us; do we have a duty to regard everyone in the world as a child of God and to do everything we possibly can, beyond human reason, to extend mercy to them? Or is such a suggestion whimsical idealistic nonsense, wherein we are seduced to disregard all boundaries and surrender the integrity of our relationship with Christ and His Church to this world in the hope that Hell does not exist (or at least not close enough to home to threaten “my world”)?

    • Alan says:

      I can see how the idea arises but it still seems strange to hear about other ideologies being anthropocentric and prideful given the place mankind holds in most religious beliefs.

  17. Iona says:

    Pasg Hapus ichi hefyd, Brendan!
    In one of Graham Greene’s novels (I’m afraid I can’t remember which), a teenage girl, brought up as a Catholic and attending a convent school, is very careful to tell her beloved father (who is not a Catholic) as little as possible about The Faith, so that he will remain in ignorance and therefore have a chance of being saved. Whereas if he understood the faith and didn’t accept it, he would probably be damned. Thus she reasons, taking the view that if those outside the faith can be saved we should not work to convert them to its logical conclusion. Very Graham Greene.

    • Brendan says:

      A chi hefyd , Iona.
      i ‘m not familiar with Greene’s works , but sounds strangely prophetic in some ways. However, personally I believe that to be tempting God ; maybe Greene is displaying through this character the heterodoxy of the pride of ‘ modernism ‘ which has infected so much of Church and daily living? Salvation is something we aspire to not invent in our own. may . Benedict sees Western missionary spirit being dampened in this way …. I mean evangelisation not proselytism.

  18. Brendan says:

    I believe something of which the hermeneutic of which retired Pope Benedict is portraying for the future well-being of Our Church , mirrors that which I mentioned in an earlier post…..” being played out in my parish community..” before its eyes.
    Our parish priest was delighted to announce this Easter Day that he and his assistant priest were delighted with the obvious great increase in numbers of people attending all Masses during the Holy Week Triduum and with the large increase in numbers seeking the Sacrament of Reconciliation ( many after long years of absence .) Praying the chaplet of Divine Mercy and Exposition of The Blessed Sacrament has been an outstanding feature of our Parish payer life.

  19. Brendan says:

    Just quickly Nektarios ; we’re going out for the day with cousins.
    I would agree with you ; sin …’ like the poor the poor which is always with us..’ we must not get fixated on at the expense of other factors going on our lives and around ( contemporary societies ). Benedict sees two levels of faith operating in the Catholic sphere – personal and the Church community ; both are inseparable and interdependent on each other. To lose one or the other is to weaken ones ‘ faith’ . How often has one heard …. ‘ I don’t need the Church, I just have my belief ; that’s enough !’
    Speaking as Catholic ; today we are often seen to pay a kind of lip-service to our stated position ( anthropocentric ) while resisting or unaware of the grace afforded to us through Salvation in Christ through his Church. This part of ” justification ” that Benedict is talking about is afforded to the individual AND the Church and our return to fresh way of looking at things.
    Of course Orthodoxy and Protestantism would see it differently to the Catholic ‘ sense of ones Faith .’
    ….To be continued.

  20. Nektarios says:


    I can agree with you in your first paragraph.

    As to the rest, well there seems to be a difference in terminology.
    I see the whole of Salvation as our heavenly Father’s will. I also see Salvation as Scripture tells me time and again, is all of Grace.

    Justification is by faith, clearly explained in the NT.
    The individual Christian is part of the Body of Christ. The collective of believers are the Church. But I would go further that those in heaven are also part of the Church and even further, that the angels who have not fallen, will not be saved for they did not fall, but will be brought in at the end to worship and glorify God as we by grace will do. Cf. Ephesians 1:10.

    We do not need a fresh way at looking at things, there is no need. What the Church is, does, will become, is all there in the Book of Acts and in other Epistles throughout the NT.

    What it means to be a Christian again is clearly stated throughout the NT as is the definition of Faith of Justification by faith, and as what the Church truly is.

    Why, or what makes The Catholic sense of faith to be different from other believers if the definition and scope of it are already given in the Scriptures before us in our own language?

    • Vincent says:

      No wonder Luther called St James’s epistle an epistle of straw”. James rather emphasises it: “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone”.

      • Nektarios says:


        No, Scripture does not contradict itself. We do however.
        So what one has ask, what are works of faith? Since its inception, the church has always done good deeds. We can think of helping the poor, education, medicine and so on.
        So what works is the Apostle referring to when we have it in holy writ, ‘ faith without works is dead?

      • Vincent says:

        Yes, indeed, St James gives practical examples and concludes “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead.” Faith alone is not sufficient; we are required to live out faith through love. So faith by itself is not enough to be saved, although Luther thought so, we have to choose to take our part.

  21. Nektarios says:

    Sorry, I should have included you in my reply to Brendan 28th March 1:39 I hope that answers some of your points. HAPPY EASTER

    • overload says:

      Happy Now, to you and all.

    • overload says:

      (Nektarios / Brendan)


      Core blimey, the needs and ‘needs’ of modern (wo)man! What a drama.
      I must say, for my own part: it seems to be very hard work living off solid food and milk at the same time, especially when my mind/senses and body can’t easily distinguish between the two! (please see Hebrews 5:6-14 if you want to try and understand what I am getting at)

  22. Nektarios says:


    Faith is a gift of God that is given to the Children of God. Justification by faith in Christ is a judicial term and is the Apostolic teaching how God can righteously forgive the sinner. It cannot be of works in the terms you have it, lest any man should boast.

    • Vincent says:

      No good arguing with me, but be ready to argue with St James when you meet him. I shall eavesdrop.

      • Nektarios says:

        St. James and I agree.

      • overload says:

        James makes another point on justification & mercy;
        he says if we stumble on one point of the law, we break the whole law.
        “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:12

    • overload says:

      Paul gives us another perspective to Justification by faith in Romans 10 (which is it seems to me commonly taken up by evangelical protestantism as a/the kernal doctrine); that by believing in our heart Jesus died and was raised from the dead for us we are justified (made right with God)—thus on this basis we are free from evaluating ourselves based on “works”—, and that thus truly believing, we (do inherently) confess with our lips (ie. witness to our faith) unto salvation (whatever this means in practice from one person to another, God knows).

      I emphasise my conviction that “confess with our lips” does of course refer to the words of our mouth literally—and therein the need to confess the “name of Jesus”—but even more so symbolically (or rather, in an even more literal sense: the speaking of our heart, from which proceed good / evil thoughts and actions).

      To elaborate, we might understand that ‘will’ and the carrying out of ‘will’ is biblically, originally, the spoken Word (God spoke and so it was created / done). Power of spoken word(s) to create and command creation also indicates something of what might be meant by “angelic tongues” (re. gifts of the Spirit).

      And again, James says the tongue is like the rudder of the ship. We can perhaps easily overlook and be complacent about the power of human words (and language)!

  23. Iona says:

    Brendan – I’m quite sure Graham Greene was not recommending that we follow his teenage character’s example in keeping protestants in ignorance so that they can be saved; rather, he was inviting his readers to laugh behind their hands at the girl’s taking what the nuns have taught her to its logical conclusion.

    • Brendan says:

      Thank you Iona , you have more insight into Greene’s work than myself. There’ lot to be said for ironic humour ; makes the point and less harmful than sarcasm ……. keeps everyone on board.

    • Brendan says:

      Thank you Iona , you have more insight into Greene’s work than myself. There’s a lot to be said for ironic humour ; makes the point and less harmful than sarcasm ……. keeps everyone on board.

  24. John Nolan says:

    Evelyn Waugh regarded Graham Greene’s theology as being deficient (see his criticism of ‘The Potting Shed’) and Waugh (with his essentially Augustinian viewpoint) was remarkably prescient regarding the effects of Vatican II about which he was clear even before the Council met.

    He understood what the Catholic faith was about, whereas those carried away with the euphoria of ‘aggiornamento’ did not. He died on Easter Sunday exactly fifty years ago, yet the media has not seen fit to pay tribute to the greatest novelist of the twentieth century, and the Catholic Church which he revered lurches from disaster to disaster.

  25. Nektarios says:

    John Nolan

    Would it be true to say, most churches are lurching from disaster to disaster? What would account for it? What is the analysis on this fact?

    Perhaps Pope Francis’ Easter talk at St Peter’s Square, and his year of mercy says it all. It is a socio/political agenda, nothing to do with the Kingdom of God?
    To me it is little more than than a well tried stunt by the Vatican to print books and raise money.
    Over many years we have had, the year of this, then following the year of that.
    It also strikes me what the Vatican thinks for all its soft-soapping of its flock.Perhaps they think
    they will all follow what we say, like sheep, and fear. They will accept what we say no matter how useless or dubious scheme it is. They incorrectly in my view, think you are all unintelligent.

  26. Nektarios says:

    We are discussing Listening. From Quentin, we have it from someone trained in Marriage guidance counselling, but that is not going to meet the need of the world at this hour. It may help a few individuals or couples here and there, but that will not serve the need of the hour or the world and more importantly the need of the Church.

    John 2 !3-17
    The world is in a mess at the present time. Some may think that the west could be overrun with Muslims, Others are concerned about the middle east and all that is going on there at the present time. Others are concerned about the economy. Politicians about forth-coming elections. What is going to happen to the EU in or out and the ramifications of either.
    This is what people are listening to. But none of that will serve the need of the hour. The world is crying out for Peace when there is no peace, the churches give out sermons to the world in a call for peace and mercy, but this world is not listening. It seems the Church is not listening either. The Church at this present hour is almost powerless to effect change in man or the world. Who are we listening to?

    Please read this little passage in John’s Gospel 2:13-17.

    It is about our Lord going up to the Temple. Here we see trading going on, and the money changers at work. There was nothing wrong with that, but it was taking place within the Temple precincts. Christ cleared them out of the Temple. It was also to be a last warning to Israel, that if they did not listen to Him, what would happen later in AD70 would come to pass and they would be dispersed among the nations.

    When Christ comes to His Temple in the OT, and in the NT His Church, He takes charge. Remember what John the Baptist said of Him, He shall baptise you the Holy Ghost and with fire.
    Like the Temple of old in Israel, so too with the Church today, it first needs to be cleansed. Cleansed of what?

    Well it needs to first see Christ in the midst of her, not as an idea, or theological truth, but in reality. We need to Listen to Him. But we so often don’t listen to Him, we are so often pursuing our own agendas. Some are horse trading on the Ecclesiastical ladder, some are getting involved with the Church and the State, some are so sentimental talking about God is love and He is, but when Christ comes to His Temple, the Church, He takes charge of it and cleans it of all its pollutions.

    Israel did well and prospered when the were faithful to God,when they listened to Him and obeyed Him, but now things had come to a sad state as it had when they were unfaithful in previous occasions, and had to be put out and exiled. Like the Temple of old, our Church is not listening to our Lord and don’t be so surprised what will happen to the Church that does not listen to Him.

    Are we listening to Him? In all your listening, listen to God, and to His Son Jesus Christ, for in the end He comes as the Judge.

  27. Alan says:

    “Unless you are a hermit, you will find opportunities even this very day to respond to someone who expresses something of moment.”

    Don’t think it’s in me to try it. Not because I’m a hermit but because I can’t think of a situation where it doesn’t feel contrived and “not me”.

    • Quentin says:

      Worth remembering that, while it may seem artificial to you, it might well not be so to the person who is speaking. Perhaps, like the counsellors in training, you might set up an exercise. Tell a wife, or a close friend, that you’re practising. Ask then ask them to talk about an issue which is important to them. (Doesn’t have to be personal — could be about Brexit if you’re so minded.) At the end check if they can sincerely say that they feel you have really understood the issue from their point of view. You may never use the exact words — you feel..because..– you will be putting that into your own natural words. As it happens my wife and I do this from time to time — not as an exercise but an opportunity for real communication. We get 20 minutes each, but on different days.

      • Martha says:

        I find, especially with one’s own adult children, that it is sometimes very difficult to separate understanding their feelings and actions, from agreeing and approving, and hard to explain to them that this does not always follow. I suppose this is the skill of counselling.

    • Nektarios says:

      It is a pity that you see what I said as contrived. It isn’t. You see it is for the most part historical, in time, among us.
      What Jesus our Lord did at the Temple on that occasion is a historical fact.

      Let me proceed a little further Alan, you seem to dismiss it all as “not me.”
      To answer that , Let me say, it has everything to do with you.
      The Christ came into the world, Time was divided. That is, the old dispensation or economy. Now we are in the last days.
      Christ, God Himself has come to His temple.
      The question remains, are you part of that or not. There is no position for humanity to sit on the sidelines. It is not a question of trying anything, but ‘listening’ to Christ and what His message is. Then do you believe it?

      • Alan says:


        You feel I was responding to something you had written because my post came immediately after your own? (I don’t think this counts as a fair crack at the formula!)

        I was actually responding to Quentin’s opening post and the particular quote from it that I included. It coincidentally follows your post.

        As to what you ask here – “Then do you believe it? – I would say that I’m highly doubtful. I have heard similar suggestions in the past and have tested them as far as I am able/inclined. To no avail.

  28. Nektarios says:


    May I ask what is your means or methods of testing? As it has all been to no avail for you,
    there is maybe something wrong with your testing. I wonder if you realise what you were saying, that in testing, you are actually pitting yourself to test your theories of yourself and of course what you know about yourself, against God?

    One thing I found out early on, was God will not answer our curiosity. But He will respond to honest listening to Him. Receiving Him and His message -which is indeed for you and your eternal well-being and joy.

    • Alan says:


      I meant that I was testing the methods recommended to me for discovering God or having Him reveal Himself to me. I did not mean that I was testing God directly. Having said that, there are limits to what I am able and willing to do in this respect. I cannot decide not to be curious. It is who I am and not something I can change at will. And, while it may not be the only reason I would take someone’s advice on a different approach to divine revelation, it is going to be a part of it. If being at all curious is a deal breaker for success in talking to God then I doubt I’ll ever hear from Him.

      What things do you think are both important and critical to the process of approaching God? I have a feeling that there are some things you would suggest which are beyond my ability to even try. I cannot, just as a possible example, choose to believe I’m likely to receive an answer in advance. Something will have to change my mind ahead of time if that is an important/crucial factor … or God will have to surprise me. There are probably other hurdles that are simply to do with who I am.

  29. Brendan says:

    I refer to my earlier post and our ” time of crisis .”
    The Catholic understanding of the word ‘ mercy ‘ ( Divine mercy ) is different from the worldly interpretation . It does not mean just ‘ removal ‘ or ‘ forgiveness ‘ from blame ; it has the more
    comprehensive meaning of the complete removal of the material and spiritual misery incumbent in life’s circumstances , into ‘ new ‘ life , eg. Isaiah exhorting the people to remain faithful to belief in Gods providence in releasing them from Babylonian captivity….et al.
    In our time , and the consequent weakening of subjective Catholic Faith ( and Christianity in general; see last U.K. Census ) ; Emeritus Pope Benedict continues……. ” In the hardness of a technologised world in which feelings no longer count for anything , the expectation
    however increases [ our inner yearnings ] of a saving love, that is freely given . It seems to me that in the theme of divine mercy is experienced in a new way , what it means by justification by faith .”
    Here we have fertile ground where the possibility of Catholic could meeting Protestant could be realised . I feel justified in my faith which moves me to God , because of the mercy shown to me ( and the whole of Creation ) through Christ Our Saviour emanating from the Father.
    Next Sunday – inaugurated by Pope Saint John Paul – is Divine Mercy Sunday.

    • Nektarios says:


      I have no doubt what Justification by faith means as it is conveyed by the Apostles in the NT.
      It is not the technological world that has made man insensitive where feeling no longer count, but the effects of sin, plain and simple.
      I have made the comment before on the blog, that since the Fall, man has not changed, he is as brutal and violent as ever he was, as selfish as ever he was, as blind as ever he was.
      The trouble with man is he does not know himself. He imagines all sorts of things about himself, but he remains the same.
      That is, until God in his own triune being, before the world was even created, pre-determined not only man, but his Salvation.
      How was God to justify the sinner being Himself holy, and righteous? God had a plan for man’s salvation before he was created on earth, before he had sinned. God by His foreknowledge saw what would happen and so God devised His plan.

      We read, in the fullness of theTimes ,God (the Father) sent forth the Son to ransom His people. Christ bore our punishment, and can righteously forgive our sins, and deliver us from the eternal consequences and death.

      The gift of God is faith, but faith in what or rather in Whom? God looks at His people through His Son. He sees they are just- as -though- they- never -sinned. That is what justification by faith actually is and it is spiritual.

      Lastly, I can see why the former Pope, wants to mix up the meaning and biblical and apostolic understanding of Justification by faith- it was one of the central themes that led to the Reformation in Europe.

      This is what preaching is all about including the whole council of God to every generation.
      It has been clear until the last 60 years or so, when humanism, liberalism and a whole host of other isms stepped up a gear and put man at the centre of all things and sought to displace God.

      It is not technology and the use thereof that is the problem but man in his sin.

      We could go on for ages on this glorious theme in God’s grace and everlasting kindness, that of Justification by faith…. clear enough?

      If ever there was a day and the days in which we are presently passing through in this world with all its trials and troubles, we need to listen to Christ the Son of God. You have is there in your hands in your language. Read your Bible, learn of Him, who is our Master, Teacher and Lord – and our Judge.

    • overload says:


      “it [Divine Mercy] has the more comprehensive meaning of the complete removal of the material and spiritual misery incumbent in life’s circumstances , into ‘new’ life”

      “complete removal”?
      how about “the free overcoming of the material and spiritual misery…” — even in the face of prevailing material and spiritual misery which, along with and like the poor, will be with us until the end & fullness comes?

      I think Christ said to St Faustina: now is the day of my Divine Mercy, from which none are excluded. Tomorrow is the day of Judgement; then there shall be no more Mercy.

    • John Nolan says:

      Brendan, next Sunday is the first Sunday after Easter, aka Low Sunday, Dominica in Albis (depositis) and Quasimodo Sunday. JP II’s hijacking of it to give prominence to the dubious revelations of his countrywoman Faustina Kowalska (whom he also canonized) is regrettable. There is no separate Mass or Office (no doubt Ratzinger talked him out of it) and her writings, and those of her main clerical supporter, were deemed heretical and placed on the Index by John XXIII in 1959.

      The cult should have been left in Poland for at least another two hundred years along with its über-kitsch iconography.

      As for Pope Francis’s Jubilee of Mercy, it leaves me cold. The almost incomprehensible logo, the official hymn written by that doyen of wallpaper-music, Paul Inwood, and the fact that the Apostolic Exhortation (all 600 pages of it, according to Kasper who no doubt co-authored it) is still in the hands of the CDF while they trawl through it for egregious error, hardly inspire confidence.

      • Martha says:

        My understanding is that canonisation is an ex cathedra statement and therefore infallible which must give credence to the Divine Mercy devotion which is well established by now and has inspired many people throughout the world. Our Lord gave us devotion to His Sacred Heart through St. Margaret Mary, and now He is giving us this one emphasising His Mercy which we all need.

  30. Brendan says:

    Nektarios & Overload – The ” complete removal ” means we we will not eradicate it existentially; but Gods Mercy will imbue us the grace to accept and deal with it in a ” new way ” in taking on Hos Son – flowing from accepting Him in faith , and also through His ‘ mystical body ‘ – The Church Again lacking such ‘ justification ‘ sin abounds worsened by many embracing this cold ‘ technologised world ‘. Remember what ‘ hardness of heart ‘ – Matthew 19:8 does in turning us against God !
    The effects of openness to Divine Mercy is a calling to experience total freedom and forgiveness arising from being justified in ones faith.

    • Nektarios says:

      Now that is all clear, biblical, apostolic, catholic, that which was once delivered that we are to hold fast to, Brendan? I can see you are wrong on a few points and struggling with it.

      I do not know about you, but I see no new way apart from that which is revealed in Holy Scripture. All I do see is confusion and muddying of the waters on the subject of this cardinal doctrine of justification by faith.

      The mistake by modern man, though it equally existed in the past, think apostolic teaching starts with themselves, they see it is all about them.
      One should not start with ourselves, but with God.
      Are we really listening to the Son of God and His message? It is all about Him and what He is going to do, what he did do and will yet do.

  31. Brendan says:

    This is for me ostensibly a Catholic ‘ blog ‘. I invite anyone who feel I am wrong on /misintepreting any points to have their say.

    • Nektarios says:


      Please re-read what it says at the beginning on this blog. It is –
      Generally, it could be said it is Roman Catholic, but if you would share as I have just done
      to your postings being Orthodox and Protestant background, training in the ministry, then
      I can shared explore on somethings the relationship between science and faith.

      There is indeed only one holy Catholic Church, it is Christian, it is spiritual, its is the redeemed, the Children of God of which the RCC represents only part of it.
      So please Brendan don’t hide behind I am a Catholic and this is a Catholic blog exclusively or in arrogance, superior to all the others, you or the RCC are not. Hence we have a shared exploration within the bounds of the Truth.

      • Quentin says:

        The Blog is ultimately related to my regular column as science editor of the Catholic Herald so it is necessarily centred on the Catholic Church. However it has always been open to readers and contributors of any denomination or none. Over the years we have learnt much from their insights, and I hope they have learnt something from Catholics – if only our capacity to disagree!

  32. Brendan says:

    Nektarios – Who’s hiding ? I am ‘ cradle Catholic ‘ . I’m waiting for you or someone to reply on points where one feels.. ” I am wrong on a few points and struggling …”. simple as that !

    • Nektarios says:

      Justification by faith is as I have said, is a judicial act by God through the finished work of Christ. We rejoice in Christ for all God’s mercies to us; For all that is our Salvation in Christ which He has accomplished.
      Feelings however, is something else. Feelings if you observe them are usually sentimental, given to emotionalism that can give rise to anger and so on, which is different from the God given instinct of emotion.
      Feelings are subject to change. Our feelings are often caught up with pleasures of the flesh and the mind because in the natural man they form part of our fallen nature.

      What we we have in Christ is not fallen, what we have in Christ is holy, pure and undefiled.
      What we have in Christ is spiritual.
      When our feelings are to the forefront, we are likely to get confused on spiritual matters, mix up the spiritual with the natural feelings.Justification by Faith is not a matter of feelings.

  33. ignatius says:

    Hello everyone,

    On scanning this thread I would just like to say that I find this Jubilee Year of Mercy to be a marvellous and beautiful thing of profound joy and significant outworking. Anyone who feels it to be a cheap socio political trick is welcome to come into prison with me, Meet the prayer/catechesis group I run, ask them their opinion and see what they say..

    • St.Joseph says:

      How is this different to any other Year , the Church has always shown mercy.
      I believe the mercy comes from yourself, if you had been there 10 years or so ago the feelings would be the same. You have something special. The Lord called you and you answered Him. You are blessed.

  34. ignatius says:

    St Joseph,

    Of course you are right in that God is merciful and compassionate all of the time and beyond time. But I do think this Jubilee year of Mercy focusses us on that aspect of God, so the Church majors for a season on that aspect, savours it if you like and dwells in that mercy. It is all to easy for us to be mealy mouthed with God’s mercy and so. In one of his meditations on the subject Pops Francis dwells on the relationship between Mercy and Justice, essential reading I think.

    Thank you for comments about calling too. It is true also, I am blessed, having known Gods merciful blessing in my own life it is a privelege for me to be involved in the things I am.

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