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Friday, 28 June 2013

Ascending by steps


Today at St John's Seminary Wonersh the following students received the ministry of Lector:

Ansel D'Mello (Portsmouth)
Dominik Lau (Portsmouth)
Robert Stuwart (Portsmouth)
Eamonn Hyde (Brentwood)
Peter Littleton (Southwark)
Louie Kitt (Southwark)
Andrew Saunders (Wrexham)

and Mark Wharton (Southwark) received the ministry of Acolyte.

Please remember these fine young men in your prayers. May they continue to listen to the words inscribed over the entrance to the chapel: Magister adest et vocat te. (The Master is here and he is calling you.)

The picture shows Rev Sam Davey who is to be ordained to the sacred priesthood on 20 July, with Eamonn Hyde.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard ousted

Julia Gillard 2010I suppose that most of us tend to be parochial in our interest in politics. Before my trip to Australia, I had not heard much of Julia Gillard. In Melbourne, the forthcoming Labour Party leadership election was a hot topic. Yesterday, my chosen source for daily news over breakfast, The Week, featured her removal in their most useful "10 things you need to know today" as well as in a couple of customarily succinct feature articles so I would have finally caught up.

An important reason for the interest of orthodox Australian priests in the contest is Gillard's strong advocacy of abortion as a "woman's right", most recently expressed in her "blue tie" speech earlier this month. Lifesite news has a video and commentary on their article Radical pro-abortion Australian Prime Minister ousted after strident gender/abortion speech. The upshot is that Australians are, generally speaking, more pro-life and pro-family than the English but also that Kevin Rudd, the new Prime Minister, will probably narrow the gap between the Australian Labour Party and the Conservatives in the General Election on 14 September.

My priest friends in Melbourne had an interesting insight which would be missed by us in the UK. Gillard was a Melbourne lawyer before entering politics. As I can verify, people in Melbourne do have a distinctively Australian accent, especially with some vowel sounds being different from English pronunciation. (We had some fun with the different ways that we pronounce the word "holy.") Nevertheless, the Melbourne accent is closer to standard English than the kind of twangy Australian which Gillard has affected. It is rather like the embarrassing attempt of George Osborne to do a bit of estuarian mockney when speaking of the Briddish who wanna work.

UPDATE: Thanks to Anthony Ozimic in the combox for an important twist in the story which I had missed: "It is also noteworthy that Julia Gillard opposed same-sex marriage but Kevin Rudd now supports it. See Australia: Equal marriage campaigners welcome Julia Gillard’s decision to resign as prime minister"

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

A couple of hours in China


Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. Hence I am in a communist country for a couple of hours, though only in the airside area of Hong Kong International Airport. My return journey started at Melbourne airport yesterday night at 2340 Aussie time (9 hours ahead of UK). The flight took nine hours and we got to Hong Kong at 0645 Hong Kong time (7 hours ahead of UK). At 1005, I will be on a thirteen hour flight and get to London at 1600 UK time. It's all rather confusing but I was blessedly free of jet-lag in Australia and the East-West journey is supposed to be better from that point of view.

There was a breakfast served on the aeroplane but it was only a little more appetising than one expects such meals to be. When I get on the next flight we will be served dinner after an hour or so. Therefore I decided on having a hobbit-like second breakfast while waiting at the airport and have just had a delicious bowl of Won Ton soup with shrimp dumplings.

Fortunately I love flying and always look on the journey part of the holiday. The Cathay Pacific staff are very pleasant and it is fascinating to see the people passing through Hong Kong airport which is a hub for the far east.

In Melbourne everyone was apologising to me for the weather which actually got down as far as two degrees celsius in the wee small hours. During the day the winter weather in Melbourne was only about five degrees lower than the summer weather in London, though I see that it may be pleasantly temperate later.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Homecoming present


Zephyrinus has posted the news that my kind parishioners have arranged for a homecoming present for me on my return from Australia. Now that I have a more sophisticated knowledge of Australia than I had from Monty Python, Barry MacKenzie and Crocodile Dundee, I think it is appropriate to say that I have been in Melbourne, not Queensland. (I hope this does not offend readers from Queensland.)

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Bishop Meeking's Diamond Jubilee

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This morning one of the seminarians drove me to the Church of St Aloysius in Caulfield where Bishop Meeking celebrated Pontifical High Mass, arranged by the parish in anticipation of the diamond jubilee of his priestly ordination on the 19th of July 1953.

Fr Tattersall, the parish priest, was Assistant Priest, Fr Marshall was Deacon, I was Subdeacon and seminarians were (very competent) first and second MCs. In my case, they needed to be competent since I'm not very familiar with the ceremonies and have to be guided quite a bit.

Fr Tattersall preached a fine sermon on the priesthood with particular reference to St Maximilian Kolbe who went to begin his slow martyrdom at Auschwitz with the words "I am a Catholic priest."

There will be some photographs of the Mass posted in due course on the website of the Catholic Community of Blessed John Henry Newman. In the meantime, here is a photo of the cake:

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The interior of the Church:

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The shrine of Blessed John Henry Newman:

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And Bishop Meeking's splendid shoes which were made by a specialist here in Australia:

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Evangelium Day in Melbourne


The Evangelium project, put together by Fr Marcus Holden and Fr Andrew Pinsent, and published by the CTS, has reached Melbourne. A couple of years ago, Fr Marcus Holden visited to speak to the ACCC and introduced Evangelium.

Evangelium in Australia, organised by Fr Nicholas Pearce (on the left in the photo) has a summer school in January, and yesterday there was a one day winter conference on the topic "How to defend your faith without raising your voice. I spoke in the morning and got to meet many of the sixty or so enthusiastic young adults who came. It was an impressive day with quite a packed programme. In addition to the talks, there was the divine office, rosary, Mass with Archbishop Hart and a holy hour with Benediction.

From Friday 13 September to Sunday 15 September, there are retreats for men and women aged 18-35. The women will be at the Amberly Retreat Centre in Sydney with the Dominican Sisters of Nashville (Sydney) and the men will be at the Pallotti College Milgrove with priests from the Archdiocese of Melbourne. To keep in touch, add Fr Nicholas Pearce as a friend on Facebook.


Friday, 21 June 2013

Books for the Catholic Apologist

This is a post for the young adults who are attending my talk in Melbourne on "Defending Your Catholic Faith." Rather than hand out a book list, I thought it would be more efficient to post some links here.

I suggested that you should have a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church as a basic reference book for Catholic doctrine. You can get this for $11 from St Pauls. You can also read the text online at the Vatican website.

As I said, there is a vast number of books on apologetics. Here is a list of some good ones: Popular Catholic Apologetics Books.

Here is a good introduction by Carl Olsen: Be a Catholic Apologist Without Apology

Many books written in the USA are aimed at apologetics in the face of Protestant objections to the faith. This is something that Americans have to do more than we do in England or Australia where we will more often face objections to the faith from a secularist point of view.


An excellent short pamphlet is Apologia by Fr Marcus Holden and Fr Andrew Pinsent. (Credo by the same authors is also useful as a pamphlet-sized introduction to Catholic doctrine.) "Lumen" is another one, looking at the Catholic gift to civilisation, a powerful answer to the debate question "Is the Catholic Church a force for good in the world?" It's not listed at St Paul's but you can see it at the CTS website.

(I will post a copy of the talk in due course.)

St Francis Church, Melbourne

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Yesterday afternoon, the ACCC had their business meeting and so I went for a walk in the centre of Melbourne. I was dropped off at the corner of Lonsdale Street and Elizabeth Street, the site of the Church of St Francis. Built betweem 1841 and 1845, it is the oldest Church in Victoria and the place where St Mary of the Cross (St Mary MacKillop) was baptised and received her first Holy Communion. After talking to the clergy here in Australia, I am determined to find a good life of this saint to read.

St Francis was the Cathedral Church of Melbourne until St Patrick's Cathedral was opened for worship in the late 1860s. It is in the care of the Blessed Sacrament Congregation and there is adoration each day from 6.45am to 5.30pm.

Here is a view of the interior of the Church:

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The Ladye Chapel is beautiful:

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Visit to St Patrick's Cathedral

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On Wednesday evening, Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett celebrated a low Requiem Mass for the deceased members and associates of the ACCC in the Blessed Sacrament chapel of St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne. After that, I gave a public lecture on the theme of the Church and Lumen Gentium at the Cardinal Knox Centre next door. This was the opportunity for a photo of x with Z-swag in the wild:

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A wombat


The other day I mentioned that I did not get to see a wombat. A parishioner from home sent me a picture of one. It is the L6 Wombat (Weapon Of Magnesium, Battalion, Anti-Tank), a 120 mm calibre recoilless anti-tank rifle used by the British Army before the invention of guided anti-tank missiles, though it was retained until the late 1980's for possible shoot and scoot attacks in built-up areas in case of attack by the Warsaw Pact.

I can't think why the Healsville Wildlife Sanctuary would need a collection of these. Perhaps there are occasional riots by psychotic emus or something.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Nerves overcome


The Apostolic Nuncio, five Bishops and some very learned clergy are present at the ACCC conference here in Melbourne. I was getting increasingly nervous last night and this morning before the first of the lectures which I am giving. I was speaking about the background, history and aftermath of Vatican II. On the programme I discovered that Bishop Meeking is giving an after-dinner speech this evening on Vatican II. He was there and so knows a lot more than I do about it.

Thanks be to God the talk seemed to have gone down well and I am now feeling a little more relaxed about the remaining talks. Tomorrow I am giving a lecture in the morning called "Vatican II and Trent Compared" - you can add "not contrasted" in brackets. Then in the evening there is the public lecture in  which I am looking at Lumen Gentium and the theology of the Church.

This evening I will get to see some more of Melbourne since I will be walking from Corpus Christi College to the Savage Club for the Conference Dinner.

It is great to meet old friends here and to make new ones. This morning Archbishop Gallagher, the Papal Nuncio, celebrated Mass. I have known him since I was a student in Rome and it is amazing to meet up again in Australia.

Monday, 17 June 2013

ACCC Conference starts today


After a most pleasant and restful few days at Mentone, today my Australia trip moves into a higher gear with the start of the annual conference of the Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy. We are meeting in the centre of Melbourne at Corpus Christi College, the regional seminary for Victoria and Tasmania. As I said to my hosts last night, it is pleasant to be in a place where people are proud to call themselves Victorians.

The Conference Brochure has the full programme. There are about 60 priests attending, and several Bishops. I am looking forward to the Conference Dinner tomorrow evening at the Savage Club. Bishop Meeking will be giving an address at the dinner, on his experiences in Rome during the second Vatican Council. On the other hand, I am getting a little nervous about delivering my own lectures, and fiddling around with last-minute edits. Do send up a prayer to the Holy Spirit.

Emus, Kangaroos, Wallabys and Dingos ...

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... as well as tasmanian devils, koala bears, an eastern bearded bragon, and lots of platypus (I will not go for the possible platypuses, the erroneous platypi or the pedantic platypodes (cf. the same argument over the plural of octopus.)

I got to see all of these animals today, thanks to my kind hosts who took me to the Healsville Wildlife Sanctuary, about 40 miles north-east of Melbourne. They understood that a visit to Australia would not be complete without seeing a kangaroo. Unfortunately I didn't get to see a wombat: they were hiding.

So here is a photo of a kangaroo:

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I nearly got to eat kangaroo yesterday evening but unfortunately kangaroo was off and had been replaced by venison. One of the kind priests who took me out advised that wallaby is actually nicer.

Here's a kangaroo doing its stuff:

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A tasmanian devil doing its stuff:

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A koala bear

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and another one

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As you can see from the above, although Koalas look cute, they have claws that can do some serious damage.

Lastly, an impressive Pelican:

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That's enough animals for now - there are a few more photos at my Healsville Sanctuary flickr set. I will just leave you with a photo that might be useful as a stock photo to illustrate something - a load of fruitbats:

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Saturday, 15 June 2013

Enjoying Australian hospitality

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St Patrick's Church in Mentone is a fine example of the period of 1950s Church building (the Foundation Stone was laid in 1957). I am the guest of Fr John Walshe who is the parish priest and a great host. Here is the inside of the Church:

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This morning I celebrated the parish's regular usus antiquior Mass at the High Altar which can be used for Mass ad orientem as well as versus populum.

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Mentone is a Bayside suburb of Melbourne with its own station (above) and a small area of shops including several coffee shops for which Melbourne is renowned.

I am staying here for a few days before the Colloquium of the Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy which starts on Monday.

Archbishop Hart is visiting this evening. I have just assisted at the parish evening Mass which he celebrated, showing great warmth to the people and their parish priest, and preaching a fine sermon on sin and forgiveness, actually mentioning mortal sin and the importance of sacramental confession.

Now we have dinner at which I get to eat Australian lamb and drink some Australian wine in Australia. God is good.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Adoring God and warding off evil


Encouraging people to true discipleship of Christ is a challenge for every parish priest. Many people come to Mass on Sunday and no more. It is a struggle persuading people to come to extra devotions, weekday Mass, prayer groups or even parish social events. We are all familiar with the hardy and faithful parishioners who support everything, and the majority who somehow do not find the time.

I don't berate people for this - after all the ones who actually come to Mass are the good guys, there are plenty who should be there and are not. However we do want to try to introduce people to a deeper life of faith. In some circles this might be referred to as a personal relationship with Jesus, in others true devotion or some other more traditional term. The language does not matter so much: we want people to make the step from formal attendance at Sunday Mass to a living faith which transforms their lives.

For the past few years, we have had the Forty Hours devotion at Blackfen and I have come to love it as a powerful blessing for the parish. This year I tried to encourage people by saying that everyone in the parish should come, even if only for five minutes. I think this worked: of course people who come for five minutes stay longer or come for one of the Masses, benefiting from the beautiful music and ceremonies that are taken care of by my generous and faithful team of servers and singers.

We follow the traditional Clementine rules for the Forty Hours and therefore have the full Litany of the Saints after the opening and closing Masses. At the opening Mass, the Litany is sung after the procession of the Blessed Sacrament, while at the closing Mass, the Litany takes place before the procession. In addition to invoking the prayers of the Saints for all of us individually and for the parish and the Church as a whole, this devotion is also a powerful means of protection from evil, including the evil spirits (who do actually exist.)

The demons, in my experience, often work not so much by spectacular phenomena as by sowing discord among good people, causing arguments in families, and destroying friendships among those who are working for good in the Church. Hence I often encourage people, in the confessional or in sermons, to do small deliberate acts of charity. In secular terms, these are sometimes referred to as "random acts of kindness." That's great, but as Catholics, we can make these acts non-random and supernatural. By consciously determining to do something kind, with the motive of the love of God, we can do a great deal to confound the spiteful and petty work of the devil.

Adoring the Lord, truly present in His body, blood, soul and divinity in the Blessed Sacrament, and invoking the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the holy angels and the saints, we are fortified to make our own relationships more holy, more charitable, and more fruitful. And that is the start of making the world a better place.

Photo credit: Mulier Fortis

Sunday, 9 June 2013

When it is not fashionable to mention someone's religious motivation

The suffragettes are in the news at the moment because of the centenary of Emily Wilding Davison's death when she stepped in front of the King's horse at the Derby. There is room for discussion about the tactics of the suffragettes but it is not my purpose to enter into this discussion here. What interested me was an article at Lapidomedia, : Faith and feminism: Channel 4 accused of blind spot.

The point is that the Christian faith was a strong motivating factor for social reformers of the 19th and early 20th century, definitely including Emily Davison and many of the suffragettes. Yet this is rarely examined or even noted in popular documentaries in the media.

When Davison threw stones at a car carrying Lloyd George to a meeting at Newcastle, she wrapped them in paper carrying the message "Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God." She was an advocate of violent action and, again, we might want to discuss the morality of this. However, she believed strongly that her action was a calling from God.

If Davison had been a fascist agitator, or mass-murderer, there would be no article in any paper, no television programme or radio piece that would not begin by describing her as "Davison, the fundamentalist Christian" or something similar. But she was a suffragette, and she is therefore regarded as a unsullied hero for a cause regarded with unquestioning admiration by all right-thinking  people.

And so her Christian motivation is airbrushed out of every story about her in the mainstream media.

H/T Neil Addison of the Religion Law blog

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Bishop Egan inspires gathering of priests


St Patrick's, Soho is always a joy to visit both because of the warm welcome always extended by Fr Alexander Sherbrooke, the parish priest, and because of the opportunity to marvel again at the beauty of the Church after his ambitious and successful restoration. (More photos here)

Today I was there with the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy to hear Bishop Philip Egan speak on The Priest in a Secular Culture. He gave a thoughtful analysis of secularism and some sound practical advice for priests. I was going to attempt an outline of some of the points that he made, but Fr James Bradley of the Ordinariate has saved me the effort by quickly posting posted a good summary and reflection on the talk at his own blog Priest in a Secular Culture which I recommend to you.

As well as the high quality content that is on offer, these are also great occasions to catch up with priest friends over lunch and, to spend some together before the Blessed Sacrament. I do encourage priests to join the Confraternity (provided, of course, that they agree with the Objects). The Annual Colloquium is at the Oratory School, Reading on 22 and 23 October so it would be a good idea to keep those dates free.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Transformation at Southwark Vocations Centre a symbol of a new culture of vocation

Fr Stephen Langridge runs the Archdiocese of Southwark Vocations Centre at Whitstable. Today he posted Before and After Photographs: the Garden.

Before:

After:

Read the post by Fr Langridge for more information.

Students who are preparing to apply to the Archdiocese are able to stay at the Centre and, along with occasional help from seminarians already in training, have been doing a lot of the basic spade work to bring the Centre up to scratch. The garden is one thing - it certainly makes for a lovely area for visitors to relax in during the summer. However, if you look through the Southwark Vocations blog you can see that there has also been a lot of work going on in the house itself with guest rooms being painted and re-fitted, and the communal areas being set up for purpose so that the Centre can host events for students and for clergy. I'm arranging for my own deanery clergy to pay a visit and to hear from Fr Langridge on how to promote vocations.

One of my own parishioners has been spending quite a bit of time at Whitstable and is, I understand, currently helping with the redecoration of the chapel. Next year, there are six students expected to be staying there for a time. The physical refurbishment of the Vocations Centre is a symbol of the flowering of vocations and a new culture of vocation among the young who have grown up in an increasingly secular society, know the score, and want to bring Christ to the world.

Please pray for vocations for our diocese - and indeed in my own parish. In addition to our new seminarian, we have several young women seriously considering religious life and one young man in simple vows with the Benedictines. This is a great blessing for us and a tremendous joy for me as a priest. I certainly don't claim any credit: Spiritus ubi vult spirat (Jn 3.8) and He has, according to His own inscrutable design, chosen to work among us in this way. As a hardened old slogger of a parish priest, my experience makes me cautiously look out for what the devil will now throw at us in revenge. Do offer up a prayer to St Michael.

As Blessed Pope John Paul put it, echoed by Pope Benedict: "The Church is alive! The Church is young!" Pray for our generous young apostles who are arming themselves for the spiritual battle. Pray for me that I can help them by good advice and example.

Change at NLM


As he announced a couple of weeks ago, Shawn Tribe yesterday stepped down as Editor of the New Liturgical Movement blog. Shawn has been one of the true gentlemen of the Catholic blogosphere, unfailingly courteous, exercising true moderation and temperance in his writing, and providing us all with a "blog of record" for liturgical matters, aided, of course, by the magnificent team that he has gathered. It is sad to see him go, and I wish him every blessing in the "other projects and pursuits" that he now intends to engage in.

The baton has been handed on to Jeffrey Tucker as Editor and Publisher, and Gregory DiPippo as Managing Editor. Long-time readers of NLM will know that these are safe hands and that we can look forward to more excellent content in the years to come. Ad multos annos!

Fr Marcus Holden on 4Thought.tv



Fr Marcus Holden, parish priest of Ramsgate, who has greatly raised the profile of St Augustine's Church in Ramsgate, appeared a while back on Channel 4's "open-mic" programme 4Thought.tv arguing in favour of priestly celibacy. He made some excellent points in the short time allotted.

This clip seems to have re-surfaced recently, perhaps because of an increased interest in the question of priestly celibacy. Do go over and click "like" and/or join in the comments.
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