Saturday, 30 September 2006

Oh-oh trads just wanna have fu-un

This is a video I took of the last verse of the hymn sung after Mass for the feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Merton College during the CIEL Conference in September this year. Sorry about the jumpy start and finish and the blurry zooming - this was taken on my still camera which has video capability and I was trying it out.

I think that it conveys something of the joyful exuberance that prevails in traditionalist circles.

The words to the verse are:
Gloria tibi, Domine,
Qui natus es de virgine,
Cum Patre et Sancto Spiritu
In sempiterna saecula.
Ave! Ave! ora pro nobis
Sancta Dei Genetrix.

O Lord, Who were born of the Virgin, Glory to You with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Hail! Hail! pray for us O Holy Mother of God.
(If anyone from CIEL can let me have the text of the rest of the hymn by email to save me typing it out, I'll be glad to post it here.)

Historical people meme

Fr Seán Finnegan tagged me back with another thought-provoking meme:

Who are the five historical people you would most like to spend an evening with?
(Our Lord & our Lady don't count - respectfully!)

  1. Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus Major - to hear his battle plan on the eve of the Battle of Zama
  2. Tertullian - I'd ask him "What do you think of this guy Marcion?" and then just sit back.
  3. Guy Fawkes - I'd just love to know what really happened
  4. William Weston - to listen to stories of his escapades as a priest on the run in Elizabethan England
  5. Blessed Titus Brandsma - to smoke a few Dutch cheroot or two while on the way to the next town to advise the Catholic newspaper editor not to accept Nazi advertising
Fr Finnegan's list is interesting.

This term at Canmore

Canmore is the home of the Catholic Society at the University of St Andrews. The Moral Highground comes from there and gives a good sense of the joy that there is in good company as a student. St Augustine has a great description of this time of youth and healthy friendship in his Confessions.

In a post yesterday, there are photos of recent events where Fr Scott Deeley and Fr Roger Nebitt visited to give talks. I'm very much looking forward to my own visit there in November. I have been there most years ever since Fr Patrick Burke was an undergraduate and always find it a tonic. Mind you, it'll be braw at that time of year.

Straights not allowed

I was talking informally the other day to an 18 year old youngster in my parish who told me that she and her older sister like to go to Gay bars in London. She explained that some of them specialise in 1970s Glam Rock and that they enjoy that sort of music. (They both have boyfriends.) I did point out the extreme inadvisability and attendant moral danger of going to such places, but I was intrigued when she explained a problem that they had with one of the Clubs, called G-A-Y. I just spent some time on their website to check her story (but won't put the link here.)

The list of forthcoming events at the club gives links to descriptions of the individual evenings. On those pages, you are are offered a free or discounted entry voucher. It is the small print on this voucher that is interesting. It includes the following:
G_A_Y has a strict majority lesbian and gay door policy. Ignoring this invalidates your voucher and management reserves the right to refuse admission.
So it's true that "Diversity" only works one way...

Friday, 29 September 2006

Parish Club, "Edge" and reminiscences

Just called into the Rosary Parish Social Club to drop off their post and the latest update on the Hall Bookings. Siobhan (20) was there, together with Dave and Denise. Siobhan introduced me to Carling's new product "Edge": bottled beer with a citrus additive. It's one of those young people's drinks that you glug out of the bottle - it's actually very refreshing.

We got to talking about the various trips that she went on with the Faith group in the parish, with stories about freezing at Stonyhurst, singing "Vindaloo" at the end of a Scots Ceilidh, and (when they were all about 12 or 13), stealing Father's sandals because they didn't want to be seen out with him wearing them.

Siobhan was eloquent about how much they all enjoyed the Faith group trips despite the ribbing they got from their peers for going on a "religious holiday". She has volunteered to help with a new group so that must be a high priority this term ...

Crusades - what really happened

There is an excellent article on the Crusades by Jimmy Akin. It is published at Ignatius Insight which is well worth a look in its own right.

Hat tip to the Curt Jester.

Catholic ethos at St Luke's College [repost]

This post was put on the blog on 14 June 2006. A while back, I took down all my posts on St Lukes to avoid giving fuel to a hostile secular press. Given the recent coverage in the Guardian, the Daily Mail, the Evening Standard, the Metro, and the Tablet, giving the impression that the Catholic ethos was somehow extreme, it seems reasonable to set the record straight as to what the Catholic life of College actually did involve at that time.

14 June 2006
Recent tendentious press coverage of St Luke’s College has uncritically repeated the remarks of a small number of students who have compared the Catholic ethos of St Luke’s to that of “fanatical religious cults”. This post is intended to give a balanced picture of the Catholic ethos of the College.

Collective worship
Each term, there are two occasions at which the whole College is expected to engage in collective worship. Normally these are para-liturgical prayer services arranged by the Chaplain and RE department with full involvement of the students in the preparation of materials. The Christmas Carol service was arranged by a Church of England teacher, the Penitential Service in Lent saw a large number of both students and staff celebrating the sacrament of reconciliation

In the summer term, one of these occasions is the Ascension Day Mass. Again, students are fully involved in the Mass, reading, serving and preparing the Bidding Prayers.

Daily Prayers
Tutors are encouraged to pray with their tutor groups at the start of the morning and afternoon lessons. Some material is provided in the weekly staff newsletter, usually in the form of a reflection taken from one of the saints or Fathers of the Church, from one of the Popes or from modern writers. The selection reflects a wide variety of styles of spirituality.

Other opportunities for prayer
There are many other opportunities for prayer and worship in the College. These have included an all night vigil to pray for peace, a Marian procession, daily Rosary before College starts, optional Mass in the RE room at least once a week, a four day “peace watch” and a scripture-based prayer group run by a member of staff who is an Anglican. The College is committed to supporting all of the students, whatever their faith. The College this year held a multi-cultural event at which the students themselves decided to include “Bidding prayers” as a natural part of such an event.

Use of pictures, statues etc.
The Marists donated a large ikon of St Luke which hangs in the main reception area. The Refectory is named after St Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese saint who was canonised by Pope John Paul II. The large picture of St Bakhita was donated by an external benefactor. There are crucifixes in the College as is usual in a Catholic school. Pictures, prayer cards and medals are made available to the students. A display commemorates two students who have died, there are displays relating to charitable fundraising. As part of the curriculum, students have also visited the Caravaggio exhibition in London and an Orthodox Monastery.

The College has permission to reserve the Blessed Sacrament in its small Chapel. The fixtures and fittings have mostly been donated by benefactors. The Chapel offers students, staff and visitors the opportunity to pray quietly before the Blessed Sacrament. A member of staff offers the opportunity to pray the Rosary once a week in the Chapel.

General RE
The curriculum for general RE is varied and offers opportunity for discussion and evaluation of different viewpoints. Some examples of subjects addressed are: human dignity and the value of human life, dialogue and proclamation within the context of the war on terrorism, and the question of the just war.

Charitable fundraising and awareness
The College encourages fundraising by the students for charitable purposes. It is significant that the College raises money for CAFOD, a charity that is associated with more “liberal” views within the Catholic Church in England. The students also participated in a “Rich man, Poor man” meal in which they volunteered to receive at random either a full meal or a sparse meal in order to associate with the inequality of distribution of the world’s resources.

Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) covers many different topics within the overall theme of citizenship. The Students’ Union operates well and the two students who are chosen as Head boy and Head girl are invited to be observers at the Governing Body meetings.

The college holds an annual “St Luke’s Lecture”. The past two speakers have been Lord Alton and Fr Henry Wansborough.

Regarding “sex-education”, the College has opted to present the Catholic Church’s teaching on chastity in a positive way. This is a challenging task because the Church’s moral teaching is counter-cultural and easily misunderstood, even when it is given in a balanced and compassionate way. The College is currently looking at resources to assist students who may be looking for personal help and guidance in this area of life.

In short, it is utterly false to describe the College’s Catholic ethos as being similar to “fanatical religious cults”. The activities offered are all within the mainstream of Catholic belief and practice. It may be that some students have not been exposed to some Catholic devotions before. We believe that it is a positive contribution to their preparation for adult life to offer experience of a wide range of Catholic devotion and practice.

Tablet article today

A kind contact has been passing me have electronic press cuttings all this week. Today, emailed me the page of the Pill (oops, sorry, the Tablet) with an article "Sixth-form college head resigns after ‘hellfire’ row".

Now this is remarkable. In all the reportage this week, a student's obviously not-quite-the-whole-truth-but-very-quotable remark about Barbara McGuigan has been repeated "She told us that if we had an abortion we’d go to Hell for ever". Trust the Tablet to make that slander the headline! Again, for the record, Barbara McGuigan does not believe that everyone who has an abortion goes to hell. She is on record speaking of the forgiveness and mercy of God. She also refers to Evangelium Vitae where Pope John Paul II spoke (n.99) in a kind and compassionate way to women who have had an abortion. (See my previous post on this for the text.)

The article refers to the "strong support" that I gave to the Principal, and repeats the Guardian language about me being an "active member" of SPUC. (Boo! Hiss!) Then it adds a specifically Tablet meme, saying that I am "a member of the traditionalist Catholic movement, Faith."

The Tablet cannot refer to Faith without calling it traditionalist. OK so they don't like traditionalists (another "Boo! Hiss!" moment). But actually, they have their stereotypes wrong. I am certainly a traditionalist (as you can probably tell from this blog). But Faith is not. It is orthodox, it is faithful to the magisterium, it doesn't go in for creative liturgy. But at Faith conferences, the Mass is always Novus Ordo, in English, concelebrated, with Offertory Procession, Bidding Prayers, even guitar music fairly regularly. Perhaps the label they are looking for is "neo-orthodox". That doesn't quite hit it either because Faith is concerned with more than orthdoxy and has a theological project which I am entirely in agreement with, promoting a synthesis of science and the Catholic faith, particularly arguing for the existence of God using the insights of modern science, including an evolutionary view of creation. But why bother to try to understand? Labels will do the job nicely. "Traditionalist" hmmph!

I was slightly alarmed by the quote attributed to me:
"On Tuesday, he told The Tablet: “She [Mrs Williams] promoted an excellent Catholic ethos; some of the people at the college took against her."
As ever, and I can happily understand this necessary part of journalism, two disparate parts of a conversation are joined by a semi-colon in one sentence. The first part, of course, I stand by absolutely. She did promote an excellent Catholic ethos. At one time, I blogged a response to an article in the News Shopper, defending the Catholic ethos of the College. I took down that and several other posts on St Luke's when a number of Associated Press computers appeared in the site meter log - I did not wanting to exacerbate the press coverage. However, it might now be helpful to repost that one now ...

Thursday, 28 September 2006

Parent Leadership

George, a regular commenter on this blog, mentioned James Stenson so I looked up his website Parent Leadership. it's well worth a visit - especially for any fathers out there who are trying to give some leadership in their family.

Time travel preferences

Fr Nicholas Schofield tagged me with this one:
If an angel could take me back in time, what five things or occasions would I like to experience?
I'll follow his lead and ignore Biblical events - nevertheless, I can't bear to limit the list so I'll do a secular one and a sacred one

1. Being in the Roman senate to see Catiline's supporters shuffle away from him during Cicero's first Oratio in Catilinam in 63BC
2. Attending the ludi saeculares at Rome in 17BC and hearing the carmen saeculare sung
3. Watching the first performance of Twelfth Night in 1602
4. Travelling on the inaugural journey on the Great Western Railway in 1841
5. Seeing the earth from space with Yuri Gargarin in 1961

1. Attending a Sunday Mass celebrated by St Ambrose
2. Attending one of the lectures of the Blessed John Duns Scotus at Oxford
3. Walking the seven Churches with St Philip Neri
4. Listening to St Alphonsus Liguori preach on Our Lady, hell, or the Blessed Sacrament
5. Being the parish priest of Lourdes in 1858 when St Bernadette revealed that the Lady said she was the Immaculate Conception

I tag Fr Sean Finnegan, DilexitPrior and the Indolent Server.

Why I am Catholic video download

The other day, I posted the YouTube version of the video Why I am Catholic. The authors, Michael Joseph and Katerina Marie, run the blog Evangelical Catholicism. Michael Joseph is a graduate of Steubenville: that tells you something!

The video is available on their blog for download in either 18Mb or 40Mb sizes. Here is the permalink to their post. I'm downloading the 40Mb version which will be used as the intro to the first of this season's RCIA meetings in my parish tonight.

Wednesday, 27 September 2006

What we REALLY are

This video was made to illustrate the idea that as human people, we are more than just animals.

It was posted as a response to "hey look monkeys!", a video that promoted the idea that we are just "monkeys". (Actually, that would be "apes" but what would monkeys know about that?)

Morris dancing at Walsingham

In case you are unfamiliar with this English tradition, here's a taster:

I took this video on my camera at Walsingham last Saturday, on the eve of the feast of Our Lady of Walsingham. The various people walking past are probably from the Liverpool Union of Catholic Mothers, the Oxford Oratory or other groups gathering for the feast day.

There are various theories about the origins of Morris dancing. One of the more widely accepted is that it comes from "Moorish" dancing. One of the Walsingham walkers who spent many years in the army told me that the Moorish dancing formed part of the weapons training for the Knights Templar.

US Catholic bloggers chip in

Jeff Miller (The Curt Jester) and Gerald Augustinus (The Cafeteria is Closed) have posted on the recent press coverage in the Guardian and the Daily Mail.

I'm too religious for my school, too religious for my school (Jeff)

Egads! Catholic schools teach Catholicism? (Gerald)

Daily Mail article and compulsion in Catholic education

There's an article in the Daily Mail (for tomorrow's print edition) called "Head 'too religious' to run a Catholic college". I should make it clear (as I have to various journalists who have all been quite understanding) that I absolutely cannot speculate or comment in any way on the reason for the Principal's resignation, or the investigation into Leadership and Management, etc. (Nor will I publish any comments on this blog that speculate on those issues.) But, of course, there are some things that apply more generally and I'm happy enough to comment on those.

Generally, the Mail article doesn't have the anti-Catholic ring of yesterday's Guardian. Unfortunately, it does repeat the caricature of Barbara McGuigan - something that needs to be addressed more fully at some stage. I was amused to see that the Marian procession has now become "a procession around the playing field carrying religious icons."

The article ends:
Father Finigan said today: "It is ridiculous to call a Catholic institution too Catholic. The college is not in the business of compelling students."
Actually, the two sentences were in separate parts of a conversation but you can't be too fussy about these things. Of course it is ridiculous to call a Catholic institution "too Catholic" - rather as it would be to call a sports college "too sporting".

As to "compulsion", it is true that no Catholic institution wants to be in the business of compelling students. The ideal is to encourage students to develop in their faith and to engage them in various activities including prayer, worship and religious education.

However, "compulsion" is a loaded word. There are some things that will be a part of the life of a Catholic school or College. You could say that pupils are "compelled" to attend registration, or that students studying physics are "compelled" to attend physics classes. Traditionally, there have always been pupils in schools who have complained about being "forced" to do sports. (The young Joseph Ratzinger himself hated sport at school!)

Naturally, as students get older, it is more important for the element of personal engagement to be encouraged. However, I am glad that the CES has not given in on the question of a change in the law for sixth forms. If students have a personal "right" to opt out of all religious activities, it would greatly hamper major events in a College or school. Exercising the right to "opt out" would apply across the board so that students could demand the right to stand outside while prayers were said at the beginning of a whole school event.

A Catholic educational institution should be able to have prayers and religious education at events that are for everyone without having to pick their way through some legal maze of "my rights". As so many people have commented in various places on the internet and in the community, if you apply to a Catholic institution, you must not be surprised if it is Catholic.

Blog hack blog

I've just discovered that when you click on a label, the resulting page has a limit of 20 pages. The information came from Hackosphere which is a useful place to go for bloggers who like to chop things around (it provides a hack to solve the problem too).

Not got round to doing much technical with the blog at the moment - more important things on my plate. But one of these days...

"Why am I Catholic?" video

This video is by by Katerina Marie Cabello whose blog is Evangelical Catholicism. The video slideshow gives six reasons for being Catholic: 1) the Eucharist, 2) the Church, 3) the Sacraments, 4) Mary, 5) Marriage (actual and spiritual), and 6) Communion of Saints. The song for the video is "Jesus Christ You are my Life," the theme song from the 2005 World Youth Day.

Tuesday, 26 September 2006

Guardian attacks Finigan

There's an article in the Guardian today about St Luke's College called Rights and Wrongs. They are trying to use the College as a cause celebre in opposing compulsory religious education and religious worship. In the course of it, they have a go at Barbara McGuigan, quoting a student who said "She told us if we had an abortion we'd go to hell for ever." (This must be a different Barbara McGuigan from the one who talks about the harm abortion does to women and about God's healing love and forgiveness always being there for the repentant sinner.)

They give their own view on why the Principal Maria Williams "accepted paid leave". They put the expression in scare quotes and attribute it as "according to Fr Timothy Finigan". They say:
"At the time he insisted this was a "neutral action". She had not been fired, and could well return"
I am not sure what we are supposed to make of this. Perhaps it is the Guardian's view that people should just be "fired" without any process at all; or perhaps that there should be some sort of process but that it should not be neutral and the outcome should be a foregone conclusion. Myself, I prefer justice.

The article goes on:
Finigan is an active member of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. Five years ago, he wrote in the SPUC newsletter: "Many Nazis sincerely believed that they were the master race. They convinced themselves that it was right to kill millions of Jews and millions of other people ... It was a mistaken view. They were not entitled to hold it. Of course, the Holy Father uses the same argument against abortion and euthanasia. The fact that in some places these are legitimised by popular consensus does not make them right."
Finding out that someone is an "active member of SPUC" is clearly an "Aha!" moment for the Guardian.

I have to hand it to them: the manner of selective quotation is masterly. In fact, Pope John Paul cited the case of crimes against humanity to show that popular consensus does not make something right. It is that "same argument" (popular consensus does not make something right) that the late Holy Father applied to abortion and euthanasia - a line of reasoning that is clear enough in my article. But anyone reading the above text would get the impression that I was saying that Pope John Paul directly compared the abortionists to the Nazis. A rather subtle misrepresentation (nothing you could complain about easily) but the more effective for all that. Clever stuff!

For the record, here is the full text of my article (written for the Pro Life Times in November 2001):
When I read Pope John Paul II's encyclical letter Evangelium Vitae, I was greatly inspired by it, as were all of us in the pro-life movement. But there was one passage which stuck in my mind so strongly that I can recite it by heart: "Everyone's conscience rightly rejects those crimes against humanity of which our century has had such sad experience. But would these crimes cease to be crimes if, instead of being committed by unscrupulous tyrants, they were legitimated by popular consensus?" (Evangelium Vitae 69)

The Holy Father was speaking of the many programmes of genocide which sadly characterised the 20th century. His point is that nobody has the right to commit genocide. There can be no authority for it; no person, state or process can legitimise it. Even if everyone votes for it, it is still wrong.

For example, many Nazis sincerely believed that they were the master race. They convinced themselves that it was right to kill millions of Jews and millions of other people. It was their view. They were wrong. It was a mistaken view. They were not entitled to hold it.

Of course, the Holy Father uses the same argument against abortion and euthanasia. The fact that in some places these are legitimised by popular consensus does not make them right. The sincerely held view that abortion and euthanasia are permissible in certain circumstances is a false view.

Pope John Paul II also spoke of how the mass media are sometimes guilty of "depicting as enemies of freedom and progress those positions which are unreservedly pro-life" (Evangelium Vitae 17). We may assert on the contrary that the pro-life position is the most fundamental guardian of freedom and progress.
I think it is fair to say that the Guardian article depicts me as an "enemy of freedom and progress". All I need to do now is create a graphic button for the sidebar. Any suggestions gratefully received.

Videos tagged

As a service for readers, I have now labelled the videos on the blog. So if you click on the "videos" label for this post, you get a page of videos.

(I will eventually work through and label the rest of the old posts. But there are quite a few, so don't hold your breath.)

Die Grosse Stille (Into Great Silence) trailer

Here is the trailer for the largely silent film of the Grande Chartreuse, including part of the Benedicite. Glorious!

Monday, 25 September 2006

Walsingham - Slipper Chapel and Catholic Shrine

The familiar Catholic statue of Our Lady of Walsingham is kept in the Slipper Chapel, about one mile from Walsingham itself. At this point, pilgrims would remove their shoes to walk the last mile to the holy House at Walsingham itself. For the feast day, the statue is especially decorated with jewels that have been donated.

The Slipper Chapel itself dates back to the mid-14th century. Desecrated at the Reformation and after, it was restored at the end of the 19th century and finally re-consecrated in 1938.

Until 1980. large gatherings were accommodated at the Catholic shrine by the use of an open-air sanctuary. The new Chapel of Reconciliation was opened in 1981 and consecrated in 1982. It seats 400 inside but one wall consists of panels that can be opened up to the outside when there is a larger number of pilgrims. They style is intended to resemble a Norfolk Barn.

Walsingham - the Anglican shrine

Fr (Alfred) Hope Patten was appointed the Vicar of Walsingham in 1921 and wished to encourage devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham by having a new statue made, based on that depicted on the seal of the medieval Priory. In 1931, a "Holy House" was dedicated, enclosed within a small Church. In 1938, that Church was enlarged to for the present Anglican Shrine.

Here is a rather fine ceramic of the Annunciation which is at the back of the shrine:

The shrine at Walsingham traces its origin to the vision received in 1061 by the Saxon Lady Richeldis de Faverches. In her vision, she was taken to the Holy House at Nazareth. It was difficult at that time for Christians to visit the holy land because of their occupation by Muslim forces. Our Lady asked the Lady Richeldis to build an exact replica of the Holy House at Walsingham and hence Walsingham became known as "England's Nazareth."

There are some curiosities at the Anglican shrine. Here is a statue of Charles, King and Martyr, whose name was added to the ecclesiastical calendar in 1660. It was demoted to a "lesser festival" under Queen Victoria at the request of the House of Commons.

Mac of Mulier Fortis told me of the ceramic of Our Lord's disappearing feet in the Chapel of the Ascension. I managed to find it behind the High Altar on the Southern side of the Church:

Sunday, 24 September 2006

Henry VIII's legacy

Part of what used to the refectory of the Augustinian Priory at Walsingham which cared for "England's Nazareth" before Henry VIII destroyed the chapel, dissolved the priory and had the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham burnt at Chelsea.

(That's Fr Milt Walsh from San Francisco Diocese in the corner.)

An ordinary afternoon in Walsingham

The local Morris dancers happened to be in Walsingham on the eve of the feast of Our Lady of Walsingham (they did not know anything about the feast day.) So as well as having a larger than customary crowd of onlookers, they also had the odd processional banner going past and competition in the striking attire stakes.

(I've uploaded the pictures all right but can't edit them. So you get this one in high-res. - click for "large". Some more tomorrow - and a video!)

Commenting now fixed in beta

Just got over to Wonersh from Walsingham and logged in to beta blogger to find that the commentnig problems are now apparently sorted. Managed to upload my photos to my account on the network here so I'll post one or two tasters this evening.

Friday, 22 September 2006

Off to Walsingham

Later today, I will drive over to Fakenham to join the walkers on the Guild of Ransom Walsingham Walk. A party has walked there from London over the last week, praying the Guild of Ransom Novena and carrying petitions from people all over England and Wales.

Until a couple of years ago, the walk was done as a route march, on public roads, with each man carrying all his requisites for the week. The first year I did it, I suffered from quite bad blisters and was hobbling around for two weeks afterwards. The next year, I was better prepared and managed it without trouble.

However, the roads to Walsingham which used to be quiet country routes, now carry heavy traffic, including articulated lorries, travelling in excess of 50mph and the decision was taken that the enterprise was an accident waiting to happen. Some of the experienced walkers devised an alternative route which is mainly off road. The route is much longer but the compromise was made of taking two support vehicles: two black London taxis in fact, driven by a former walker and his brother.

Today is the last long day of walking, with the walkers arriving at the Crown Hotel in Fakenham for a slap-up dinner and then a hotel bed for the first time in the week. Tomorrow, we will walk the short hop of five miles from Fakenham to Walsingham and then on Sunday say fifteen decades of the Rosary walking slowly in a "holy shuffle" to the Slipper Chapel where the petitions to Our Lady of Walsingham will be deposited. On Sunday, we will join in the celebration of Mass for the feast of Our Lady of Walsingham with the walkers deservedly given a special place at the front.

I'll try and post from Fakenham or Walsingham if it is possible. Otherwise I hope to have some stories and photos when I return.

I have had rather a lot of time away from the parish the past couple of weeks - and this year with the Feast day being on Sunday, I am now away for the weekend. Fortunately, the Holy Ghost Fathers kindly arranged for their Mission Appeal to be this weekend. It will be very much down to business from next Tuesday. One or two new initiatives are brewing away in my mind and need to get put into action.

Translation bloomer

The Congregation for the Clergy hold a regular monthly Videoconference for the Clergy which can be viewed in realtime online. They also send an archive of the contributions. The latest one, received this morning is on the theme of "Race and culture: meeting or clash of civilizations".

There was an amusing clash in the title of one of the pieces. The contribution of Fr P. Paolo Scarafoni, L.C. was given in English translation as
Race and Culture. Meeting or Clash of Civilisations. The Parish as a place of meeting and co-habitation.
I sent an email to advise of the unfortunate connotation of the term "cohabitation" in modern English. My suggested alternatives were "co-existence", "living in common" or "common life".

The next conference, on 27 September is on "Bioethics: the human genome and stem cells." Should be good.

Thursday, 21 September 2006

Pro-abortion violence

How many times have you been annoyed in England when someone trots out the propaganda line about pro-lifers being violent. Or (perhaps even more annoying) when well-meaning Catholics who have little knowledge of grass roots pro-life work piously say that we must not be violent (as if any mainstream pro-life groups have ever been involved in violence.)

Human Life International have provided a most interesting website Abortion Violence that looks at the other side of the coin. Why do we never hear about the violence of pro-abortionists? The details page gives comprehensive documentation in support of the following summary:
We’ve heard endless stories in the mainline media about “anti-choice violence” and an “organized campaign of terror and intimidation against reproductive health centers.”

But where does the real violence
lie when it comes to the abortion

Pro-life groups have emphasized the violence that goes on inside the abortion mills—but what about the violence that pro-abortionists commit against born human beings?

The pro-life movement is unquestionably the most peaceful social movement of all time.

We have all heard about the seven murders committed by self-identified anti-abortionists during the time period 1994-1998. But to put this into perspective, according to the United States government, more janitors, bartenders, secretaries, hairdressers and cosmetologists have been killed on the job than abortionists.

The most violent social movement of all time is so-called “pro-choice.”
Not only have “pro-choicer's” killed tens of millions of innocent preborn babies in the name of convenience, they have murdered hundreds of men, women and children.
Cosmos-Liturgy-Sex has a follow-up to this, quoting NBC News Editor Gilbert Millstein as saying
NBC News does not use the term “prolife,” which it regards as loaded, but if someone wanted to use “pro-choice,” I’d say that was fine.
The comment by the author of the post applies in spades to the English media:
When a pro-lifer commits a crime, rest assured, you WILL hear about it. On the other hand, the media treats the pro-abortion movement with a pagan-like reverence, choosing not to “mis-represent” the movement through the actions of a few.
In fact, even though there is no pro-life violence in England, we still hear plenty about the very few incidents that have happened in the States.

20,000 mark

Hit the 20,000 visitors mark at 11.17am today, just one day short of 5 months blogging. Of course Joee Blogs got this number in 24 hours :-)

Many thanks to you all for reading - makes it worthwhile writing it.

First Faith in Focus Talk

The first talk in the Autumn Series for Faith in Focus will be this coming Monday 25 September, at the St Vincent’s Centre, Carlisle Place, Victoria SW1P 1NL, starting at 7pm

The title is "What is the Faith Movement?" and the speaker is Fr Stephen Dingley. Fr Dingley teaches dogmatic theology at St John's Seminary, Wonersh and holds a Doctorate in Astrophysics from the university of Cambridge so he is well qualified to talk about the relationship between science and Catholicism which is at the heart of the Faith Movement's ethos. As a regular university level teacher, he is also well exercised in making presenting on these matters in an interesting and accessible way.

See the website for more on the Faith Movement.

Wednesday, 20 September 2006

Did the BBC start the anti-pope outrage?

There is a fascinating article on Lifesite news, BBC, NY Times and Guardian Appear to Have Stage-Managed Muslim Anti-Pope Hatred, tracing the outrage against the Pope to stirring on the part of the BBC

H/T to Fr Sean Finnegan. As he says, "make up your own mind".

Others at the Giffard Club

The Giffard Club is composed of recently ordained priests and so I was very happy to be invited as a guest today, not fitting into this category. Fellow blogger, Fr Nicholas Schofield (Roman Miscellany), pictured here (right) with Frs John O'Leary (left) and Michael Dunne who is assistant priest at Brook Green and hosted the meeting.

Of course, no blog post about such gatherings would be complete without a picture of Fr Richard Whinder (centre), the founder of the Giffard Club. He is pictured here with Fr Mark Vickers (left) and Fr Gerard Skinner.

Frs Schofield and Whinder have recently moved to new appointments. Fr Whinder is now assistant priest at St Joseph's, New Malden (one of his parishioners is Auntie Joanna) and Fr Schofield is now assistant priest at Our Lady and St Joseph, Kingsland. Say a prayer for them both as they settle into their new assignments.

Fr John Saward at the Giffard Club

I was kindly invited to attend today's meeting of the Giffard Club, named after Bishop Bonventure Giffard (1642-1734), Vicar Apostolic of the Midland District and, later, the London District. There is an article about him in the Catholic Encyclopaedia.

The meetings begin with prayers for the repose of the soul of Bishop Giffard, then an invited speaker gives a paper on some subject of interest to priests. The Litany of Loreto is said in the Church, followed by the singing of the Salve. The meeting then moves to a convenient local restaurant for lunch. The venue at the moment is the presbytery of the Holy Trinity, Brook Green.

Today's guest speaker was Fr John Saward, a married former Anglican priest who is now parish priest of St Gregory's in Oxford. He is the author of Redeemer in the Womb and several other works. Fr Saward is pictured here (right) with Fr Marcus Holden:

His subject today was the sacredness of the Liturgy and the sense of sin in the priest. He drew attention to the prayers of the classical Roman rite in which the priest confesses his sins and asks forgiveness. Some of those he spoke of are found in the preparation for Mass, the vesting prayers, the prayers at the foot of the altar, the aufer a nobis and the oramus te, the offertory prayers, the canon and the prayers in preparation for Holy Communion.

He drew attention to the striking absence of these prayers in the modern Roman rite and suggested that when celebrating the modern rite, the priest needed to pray for the gift of compunction, perhaps using some of the traditional prayers that could legitimately be used as private prayers by the priest.

In the third part of the paper, he spoke of the importance of the sense of sin for the priest, hand in hand with his awareness of the majesty of the mysteries that he is celebrating. The comparison of the old and new rites of Mass was not given with any polemical intention but simply in order to draw attention to a dimension of priestly prayer that has been played down in recent decades.

Fr Saward drew attention to one striking difference that shocked me when I first celebrated the classical rite. In the third of the prayers before communion, the classical rite has the text
Perceptio Corporis tui, Domine Iesu Christe, quod ego indignus sumere praesumo, non mihi proveniat in iudicium et condemnationem; sed pro tua pietate prosit mihi ad tutamentum mentis et corporis et ad medelam percipiendam: Qui vivis et regnas in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
This may be translated as:
May the reception of your Body, O Lord Jesus Christ, which I, unworthy, presume to receive, not result for me in judgment and condemnation, but, according to your mercy, may it benefit me for the protection of mind and body, and for receiving remedy: who live and reign for ever and ever. Amen.

In the new rite, this prayer is given as the second option for the priest to say quietly before Holy Communion. The words corporis tui are changed to corporis et sanguinis tui, which is perhaps uncontroversial. But the words quod ego indignus sumere praesumo (which I, unworthy, presume to receive) are omitted.

I agree with Fr Saward that it is difficult to think of any possible benefit that has been brought to the Church by striking out this phrase.

Fr Julian Shurgold on Benedict and Islam

Fr John Boyle at South Ashford Priest has posted the text of Fr Julian Shurgold's excellent letter to the Independent on Pope Benedict's Regensburg lecture. He also included a link to the other letters to the Independent. Fr Julian teaches Church History at Wonersh and is there on Monday mornings at the same time as Fr Boyle and myself.

Tuesday, 19 September 2006

Bringing back memories of Oxford

Any visit to Oxford fills me with joy and nostalgia. My three years there as a young man were genuinely happy. It was there that I shared with John Hayes the excitement of the election of Pope John Paul II. John was probably one of the few people in the world who heard the word "Carolus" and said immediately "Wojtyla!". Apparently at the election of Pope Benedict he hesitated at the name Joseph, knowing that there was another Cardinal by that name.

I was at Corpus Christi College from 1977-1980. My two elder sisters both married men from Merton which is next door. Here is a view of the Chapel from the Grove at Merton College.

And here is a view of Mob Quad.

Oxford abounds with stories of tourists. Apparently, an American visitor to Merton asked one of the servants how the lawns came to be so perfect. The servant answered in his Oxford twang
"Well you plants the seed, you waters it, then you scythes it. The you waters it again and they you scythes it. You do that for four hundred years and there you are!"
Here is a view of the front quad at Merton after the Solemn Mass:

As a fresher at Oxford, I was assigned a room in an ugly building near to the College in Magpie Lane. I remember on the first day there that I did not know how to get out. So I climbed out of the window early in the morning in order to attend Mass at the Chaplaincy. So this sign brough back memories for me:

After three years of studying Philosophy and Psychology, I had to take my final exams. These were held in the Examination Schools, an imposing building where one had to wear "subfusc": a dark suit, white bow tie, gown and mortar board. For my last exam, I had a wine glass in my pocket in order to be ready for the reception that I knew my friends would prepare (one of them is now a 22 year professed sister at the Abbey of St Cecilia's in Ryde). So the entrance to the Schools also brings a lump to my throat when I visit. It was great to see be-cassocked clerics entering for the CIEL Conference.

CIEL 2006 - people

It was a great joy to be at the CIEL Conference in Oxford last Friday. I left wishing that I had cancelled other events and arranged to be there for the whole conference. It was great to meet people that I had heard of via the internet or the Catholic press. The picture on the right is of Shawn Tribe. I have read his posts avidly on the New Liturgical Movement blog which is the best source of objective and rational comment on liturgical matters. Shawn suggested I take a couple of other photos. I should have heeded his advice. Sorry for the poor quality of the photo.

I was also amazed to meet Fr Thomas Kocik (pictured left), the author of "The Reform of the Reform" which is a serious attempt to propose debate on the future of the liturgy as reformed after Vatican II.

This was a question on which I ventured an opinion during the discussion after Alcuin Reid's excellent paper on "Sacrosanctum Concilium and the Organic Development of the Liturgy". Alcuin particularly focussed on n.23 of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy which concluded
"Finally, there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing."
I remember the late Michael Davies quoting this to me and asking where there was any reform which genuinely met this criterion.

As might be expected, the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter was represented at the conference. It was good to meet Fr Emerson again (left in picture.) I last met him at Jamie and Joanna Bogle's silver wedding anniverary where Fr Emerson was the celebrant and I tried my best to fulfil the function of Deaon.

There were a number of other stalwarts there for whom I did not get photos. Fr Gabriel Burke has been influential in opposing the re-ordering of the Cathedral at Cobh, one of the finest examples of the Gothic revival in Ireland. Here is a link to the website for the Friends of St Colman's Cathedral, and here is a link to Fr Burke's Objection to the Re-ordering.

One of the great things about Catholic blogging is that you get to know something of the Church in other parts of the world. From Ma Beck and others I have learnt about the parish of St John Cantius in Chicago. So it was with genuine joy that I greeted Brother Scott Haynes (pictured left) from the Society of St John Cantius. Take a look at the homepage of their fantastic parish.

There was also something of a reunion from the last trip to Rome. Fr Michael Lang of the London Oratory, author of "Turning Towards the Lord" and many other scholarly works, played a major part in the Conference. Fr Lang's reputation must also have been a pull for the outstanding collection of lecturers who gave the papers for the conference. When in Rome in April this year, my visit coincided (in God's providence) with the launch of the Italian translation of Fr Lang's book under the title Rivolti al Signore. (Report here.) I was delighted at the CIEL Conference to see Fathers Nicola Bux and Salvatore Vitello.

I wished I had booked for the whole conference.

CIEL 2006 - Solemn Vespers

Merton Chapel is one of the three most ancient Colleges at Oxford. Founded in 1264, it reeks of the medieval schools. The solemn singing of Vespers took one back through the centuries in the knowledge that the chapel resounded with similar chants all those years ago.

These pictures are of Solemn Vespers for the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows during the CIEL Conference 2006.

This view through the screen shows the incensing of the altar at the Magnificat.

At the end of Vespers, the procession prepares to leave the Chapel.

Good summary of Pope's lecture by an atheist

In the combox, Fr Stephanos has kindly recommended an excellent article by Justin Raimondo called In Defense of Pope Benedict. The Catholic Church is an enemy of the War Party. Fr Stephanos points out that the author is an atheist (and has a political agenda of his own) but gives a good explanation of the Pope's lecture. I agree - it is a thoughtful and helpful piece.

Joee Blogs' counter hits roof

Just heard from Joee Blogs. His post with the photos of the protest at Westminster Cathedral got him over 7000 hits in 24 hours. Wow!

Right place + right time + presence of mind + guts to post = Congratulations!

Fr Seán Finnegan is blogging at Valle Adurni

Great news today that Fr Seán Finnegan has started blogging. His blog is called Valle Adurni after his parish in the Adur Valley in Sussex.

Monday, 18 September 2006

Brokeback Mountain Christian Edition

Just to cheer you all up! H/T to Fr Stephanos.

Manufactured outrage – III. Summary

(Small version in the sidebar.)

Manufactured outrage – II. Illustrative material

First of all, a photo from Joee Blogs

There are a number of other excellent photos of the protest on Sunday outside Westminster Cathedral. For a Very Rushed Post, it has really hit the jackpot for Joe. The post has 196 comments and he has been blogged all over the known universe.

Here is the cover of a book which is a best-seller in Turkey:

The title "Papa’ya suikast" means "Assassinating the Pope". The book predicts that Pope Benedict will be assassinated in Istanbul in a plot involving Opus Dei, the Freemasons, the Turkish Secret Service and Mehmet Ali Agca.

In a comment which may or may not help to defuse tension in the region, Salih Kapusuz, a deputy leader of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's party commented:
"Benedict, the author of such unfortunate and insolent remarks, is going down in history for his words [...] He is going down in history in the same category as leaders such as (Adolf) Hitler and (Benito) Mussolini."
The Assyrian International News Agency has a report telling of a poster that has been placed in many Baghdad mosques for the previously unknown group, "Kataab Ashbal Al Islam Al Salafi," (Islamic Salafist Boy Scout Battalions). This group threatens to kill all Christians in Iraq if the Pope does not apologize in three days in front of the whole world to Mohammed.

Everyone's favourite protest photo, of course is:

However, I always have a reservation about laughing at other
peoples' poor English. After all, I cannot speak or read Arabic or any of the other languages that are on banners in many parts of the world. I don't even know what language is on these banners in Pakistan:

Fortunately, the Curt Jester comes to the rescue here. He has done his research and found out the gist of all those arcane scripts. Here is his dynamic equivalence translation of all "them fancy words".
"I read the Pope's speech at the at University of Regensburg and I enjoyed it. I liked his reference to surah 2, 256 which reads: 'There is no compulsion in religion.' While I disagree that Jesus was more than a prophet I enjoyed Benedict's critique of the liberal theology of the 19th and 20th centuries that 'ushered in a second stage in the process of dehellenization." Also interesting is his explanation of how modernity is trying to reduce the field of theology to be not one of the "sciences." Truly as he says 'it is man himself who ends up being reduced.' I can see how the dialogue he quoted between Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and who he called an "educated" and "learned" Persian could be misconstrued by those whose source of news is only by headlines, but I really appreciated the distinctions he made about violent conversions and that God is transcendent."

Manufactured outrage – I. Helpful sources

I read the Pope’s Regensburg speech when it was first published last week and enjoyed it. On Saturday, I attended the celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the twinning of Bexley and Evry in my capacity as Mayor’s chaplain. I was surprised to have various people sympathising with me over the attacks on the Pope but got the gist of the story quite quickly. I only just got a chance to look up some information on it and so here is my selection of items.

So first of all, some informative comment. An article today by Sandro Magister has a good analysis.

The Cafeteria is Closed predictably has some good coverage and opinion.

Perhaps the prize for a comprehensive collection of links should go to Webelf’s special report

Sunday, 17 September 2006

Solemn Mass for Our Lady of Sorrows

Here are a few photos from the solemn Mass on the Friday of the CIEL 2006 conference at Oxford. You can enlarge any of the photos by clicking on them. If you need a version of any of the photos in higher resolution for any good purpose, please contact me by email.

Ego volo celebrare Missam iuxta ritum sanctae Romanae ecclesiae, ad laudem omnipotentis Dei, totiusque ecclesiae triumphantis, ad utilitatem meam, totiusque ecclesiae militantis, pro omnibus qui se commendaverunt orationibus meis in genere et in specie, ac pro felici statu sanctae Romanae ecclesiae.
"I intend to celebrate Mass according to the rite of the holy Roman Church, to the praise of the almighty God and of the whole Church triumphant, for my benefit and that of the whole Church militant, for all who have commended themselves to my prayers in general and in particular, and for the happy estate of the holy Roman Church."
Here is a view of the celebrant and ministers preparing for solemn Mass for the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, in the ancient chapel of Merton College, Oxford.

Preparations now complete, the procession makes its way towards the screen at the entrance of the quire. On the right is Richard Luzar who loaned the vestments that were used at the Mass.

Led by the thurifer,the procession enters through the quire which is packed with the participants in the CIEL 2006 conference.

Confiteor ... et tibi, pater (I confess ... also to you, father). The Deacon and Subdeacon recite the Confiteor on behalf of the people present, turning to the celebrant as they confess to him (in addition to Our Lady, St Michael, St John the Baptist, St Peter and St Paul and all the saints).

Stabat Mater dolorosa, iuxta crucem lachrymosa... (The sorrowful mother stood tearful by the cross.) As the sequence for the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows comes to an end, the procession forms for the singing of the Gospel.

Jesus. The clergy in choir remove their birettas as the Holy Name of Jesus is pronounced during the sermon.

Dirigatur oratio mea sicut incensum in conspectu tuo Domine... (May my prayer arise before you like incense, O Lord.) The celebrant incenses the offerings, the altar and the crucifix.

My Lord and my God. After the consecration, at which the bread and wine are changed and become the body, blood, soul and divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the celebrant elevates the sacred chalice for our adoration. The Deacon holds the chasuble to allow him to raise his arms.

Et Verbum caro factum est The celebrant and Deacon kneel at the words "And was made man" during the Last Gospel. The subdeacon hold the card for the celebrant to read.

Saturday, 16 September 2006

Parish page on morality of IVF

This weekend, I will be speaking at Mass about the sanctity of human life and particularly of the embryo. I will need to say something about IVF because I think that some Catholic couples are unaware that it is wrong. I'm aware that on this issue, some people may need a bit more information than I can give in a sermon. It is also vital that people can find morally acceptable alternatives if necessary (e.g. Life Fertility Care and NAPRO.)

I have posted a page on my parish website a page on the morality of IVF. If you have a chance, do take a look and let me have any comments.

How does this fit in with the Sunday readings? See the Psalm:
The Lord protects the simple hearts;
I was helpless so he saved me

Friday, 15 September 2006

A day with CIEL at Oxford

I said a private Mass at 6.30am this morning, then joined the commuters going up to Charing Cross, across to Victoria, and then took the coach to Oxford.

Today is the second day of CIEL 2006, the three day conference of the Centre Internationale d'Etudes Liturgiques (CIEL). It was a great joy to be there and I wished that I had booked in for the whole conference. I have some good photos of the Solemn Mass and one or two of Solemn Vespers. There are also a few of the people who were there.

I was kindly invited to stay for dinner. It was great to be able to spend a little more time in such good company but it did mean a rather late journey back so the photo above is just a taster. I will be posting some illustrated reports over the next few days.

Thursday, 14 September 2006

Body plan defined at conception

One of the most interesting results of research that Fr Fleming reported today was on the differentiation that is present in the human embryo from conception. You can read a summary of the results of this research in an article from the news features section of Nature: Your Destiny, From Day One.

This research shows that the understanding of the embryo in its early stages as a featureless bundle of cells is no longer tenable. It also fatally undermines the old notion that "personhood" can only come about after the potential for twinning has been passed (about 14 days). Far earlier than this, the embryo is differentiating rapidly. Twinning could best be seen as a type of natural cloning where both the original embryo and the "younger" twin are indisputably human lives from the moment they begin to exist as such.

SPUC Clergy information day

SPUC today held a Clergy Information Day. Unfortunately, because of an urgent meeting I had to be late for this so I missed the first half of the morning lecture by Fr John Fleming. I could catch up with most of it from his notes and look forward to the published version when it is available from SPUC.

Fr Fleming was speaking about the rights of the unborn under international law, the pro-life battle at the UN and the nature of the early human embryo. As a lecture, it was certainly not "dumbed down". He presented some of the latest research on the biochemistry of the human embryo in relationship with the mother and then tied this in to the philosophical question of the status of the embryo, dealing with such hoary chestnuts as twinning and the differentiation of cells in the embryo.

It was a most helpful and informative presentation: intellectually challenging but well put together. I think that the sheer quality of these presentations has been the important factor in the growing popularity of the SPUC Clergy Information Days. One or two of the early ones were rather sparsely attended. Not today - the lecture room was full. It was amusing to find that four of us were there who had been at the Opus Dei Day of Recollection yesterday.

SPUC provided lunch for the clergy and then followed up with a lecture by John Smeaton, the National Director. He spoke particularly of the importance of taking the pro-life cause beyond Parliamentary concerns and working to change the minds and hearts of ordinary people. I had a chance to chat with John afterwards about preparations for our forthcoming APGL conference for clergy on 22 November at the London Oratory.

Stats upgrade

The Hermeneutic of Continuity now has an average of 1248 visitors per week so I decided it was worth the $59 of my pocket money to upgrade to Site Meter Plus. If you are new to blogging, I do recommend you try out the free version of Site Meter. One of the most addictive features is looking at the World Map and seeing where your visitors live in the world.

The upgraded version gives you the full IP address of visitors and enhancements like 30-day moving averages. You can also get stats from the last 4000 visitors and download them to a csv file. The referral ranking is interesting too - another way to find good blogs.

Blogger labels

I see that Blogger now offers labels in the template for new posts. I'll try and add these bit by bit to the older posts - apart from anything else, it will help me to look up snippets that might be useful elsewhere. The labels need to be formatted differently to look more like part of the footer of the post. I think that I'll have to get into the new "Layouts" thing and learn the tags for that. Not tonight.

Amazon honing its recommendations

Amazon sent me an email today to say that customers who have purchased the same books as me, have also ordered "The Eucharist in Romanesque France: Iconography and Theology" by Elizabeth Saxon." So that's me pigeonholed!

It certainly sounds interesting (release 21 September 2006). However, at £50.00, perhaps it is not first priority.

Wednesday, 13 September 2006

Family - keeping my feet on the ground

It was my niece, Lucy's 14th birthday on Sunday so I dropped into my sister's in Addiscombe on the way home from Wickenden. A lesson I remember from my own youth is that uncles are really best at giving pocket money rather than trying to think what teenagers might like so that makes things relatively easy.

Whenever I visit Mary and Jim, I always seem to spend some time cleaning up the computer from the ravages of four children. (The computer is downstairs, in full view and use is heavily supervised.) Today, we had to wait for Patrick's 8Gb collection of music tracks to get copied over to the new external hard drive before deleting them and giving the internal drive some breathing space.

(Actually, I am sure I could write a script that would randomly produce "music" at least as rhythmic and tuneful as that lot in about 20Kb but that suggestion would probably not be welcomed. At least now Lucy's new game will probably run better.)

They now have Adaware (from a previous visit) to hoover up the junk that gets put on from the various websites that promote the music. The file system is unfathomably complicated with various phantom "users" so I decide that in the time available, it is best to leave well alone.

Joseph is obviously going to be the tech wizard of the family. He has a penchant for making things. A fan of Doctor Who, he has made a convincing model Tardis out of cardboard which was so well executed that I thought it was a printed model. Not the case - all done freehand from scratch.

Charlie, the youngest, took a bit of persuading to go to bed. I was pleased to see that he had "Lord of the Rings" pyjamas with Aragorn pictured on the front.

In between times, Mary, Jim and I managed to discuss such things as the state of the Church, various matters of education policy and pro-life issues. I think everything in the world is OK now :-)

Reflecting on Faith and Lukewarmness

I had to leave in a bit of a rush after Mass today in order to get to Wickenden Manor in time for the start of the Day of Recollection for priests. Hence I forgot to take my camera - I will try to remember next time. The photos on this post are rather poor quality snaps from the mobile phone, enhanced a bit using PaintShop Pro.

Wickenden Manor is the retreat house of Opus Dei in the South of England (the north has Thorneycroft Hall, near Manchester.) It is in the heart of the Sussex countryside near the village of Sharpthorne. I would have driven there in just about an hour had I not taken a wrong turning just before my destination.

The conferences were given by Fr Frank Calduch. He spoke first of all about the virtue of Faith and the importance of a living faith in the priest. The second conference was on the theme of Lukewarmness: something that St Josemaria wrote about. It was delightfully counter-cultural. Instead of telling us to find "Me Time" or to be happy with who we are, he pointed out that the lukewarm priest tells the faithful by his example that they need not bother with carrying the cross.

He also spoke of how priests might fear that they should conserve their energy to live longer in God's service. He said that if we die through hard work in the service of Christ, God will always find a replacement for us. My sister Mary told me later that this was very similar to something Pope John Paul said when he was very tired one day and someone told him he must take it easy.

As ever, there was a wholesome lunch with good conversation, Rosary and Benediction and time to catch up with news from other priests (including fellow-blogger Fr John Boyle, South Ashford Priest. I always leave these days with profound gratitude to the priests of Opus Dei for their friendship, generosity and good example to us diocesan clergy.
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