Sunday, 28 February 2010

A cause for celebration

At the end of the annual seminary retreat, here we were celebrating, on the day that the Holy Father announced that Bl Mary McKillop is to be canonised. The retreat we held at a Retreat House in the Sounthern Highlands, about 2hrs drive south of Sydney.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Heart of the Priest

The priestly dignity is "not based upon comfort, position, or honour, but on the fact that Jesus Christ is always close to the priest's heart - an intense union stemming primarily from his ability to make Jesus present in the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist, a bond that offers the priest the necessary strength to endure all the demands his vocation implies."

Acknowledgements to Fr Michael Caridi and The Sower for these magnificent words.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Remarkable words

"The Church will never and nowhere be destroyed as long as her priests give a clear and irresistable testimony of a life that can be lived only through Christ and in God's strength." Fr Werenfied van Straaten
Thanks to Cardinal O'Brien for his straight talking about the UK Labour Government.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

One moralism versus another

Ed Ball's new step in building atheistsic secularism in Britain with regard to Sex Education in schools (via a thinly disguised totalitarianism), rounds upon the teaching of the new secular moralism. However, it is said of Catholic Schools that they teach another moralism - one which is not fit for this age - one in which contraception, abortion, homosexuality etc, are wrong. What can we say about this?
Well, Catholic schools are not supposed to be teaching any form of moralism but rather, the Mystery of Faith. The moral life of the Christian flows out of the Mystery of Faith, but the hinge is the Mystery of Faith. Are Catholic Schools in Britain teaching the Mystery of Faith? Not in my experience.

The matter at hand raises two issues. First, why send our children to school (Catholic or otherwise)? The culture of British schools is not a fitting context, in any case, for children and young people to be formed in (unless they are bastions of Faith). Secondly, who will build a context in which our children and young people can be formed in? Our parishes, spouses, associations of spouses and families, the new movements? We can't leave our children to the mercy of the British Goverment or secular society and its culture (which is what we are presently doing, in the main).

Monday, 22 February 2010

Loud and clear

For the new evangelization to become a reality, laypeople have to step up. This proclamation was made by Archbishop José Gomez of San Antonio, Texas, in a pastoral letter and reported by Zenit.
"The proclamation of Christ is not an option or an obligation reserved for bishops, priests, deacons and religious. It is the duty of every believer". He said that evangelization begins "in the heart that has been evangelized, the heart that has heard the Good News and been converted. We cannot be silent about what we have seen and heard and felt ... We cannot help but to proclaim and testify to the great difference that Jesus Christ has made in our lives." Evangelization is a duty, but it is a "duty of delight, a duty we carry out with joy and thanksgiving. We want the world, beginning with those nearest to us, to share in what we have been given -- the free gift of God’s grace and the joy that comes with knowing the truth that sets us free," The duty to proclaim Christ falls upon every member of the Church, he recalled. But, he said, his pastoral letter is addressed particularly to the laity."I want to speak especially to you who live out your faith in the midst of the world and all its secular affairs ... As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, lay people are given the 'duty ... to work so that the divine message of salvation may be known and accepted by all men throughout the earth. This duty is all the more pressing when it is only through them that men can hear the Gospel and know Christ.'" He noted how laypeople have been fundamental for the process of evangelization since the very beginning of the Church. "The primary apostolate of lay people, since the early Church, has always been to spread and defend the faith among their families and neighbours and to bring the teachings of Christ to bear on the issues facing their communities". Lay believers, he said, have a "priestly soul," with a primary mission in the world, "not inside the sanctuary of the church or inside a Church office. Your first duty," he stated, "remains to heed the commission every one of us receives at the end of every Mass -- to go out into the world to love and serve our Lord." Nourished by the gift of his Body and Blood, you are called to bear witness to this gift by making your lives a form of worship to God. Your evangelization must always be profoundly ecclesial and intensely Eucharistic. You are calling people to Christ and to his Church -- and to the heart of the Church, which is the Eucharist." He urged the faithful to have a renewed awareness of their priestly souls and to "seek to serve God and your brothers and sisters every day, through all that you do and say, through the way that you live your life. People respond more to example than to 'teaching,'" he acknowledged. "Testify to your faith through your daily habits and actions. You will find that your witness to the Christian life will be attractive to others and will afford you regular chances to talk about the 'source' of your happiness in Jesus Christ and your Catholic faith."

"To my mind the deepest problem we face is the 'secularization' ... The tendency under secularism is to reduce religious identity to a kind of 'cultural Catholicism.' " Lay evangelizers must "be convinced of the truth that the Apostles knew, that everyone in some way is searching for Christ.""People used to seek out the Apostles and say to them: 'We wish to see Jesus,' ... The men and women of today still want to see Jesus. You are the disciples they will come to with their questions and doubts, interests and needs. You are the ones who must lead them to our Lord."
This is the vision for the Church in the UK also. Let us embrace it and make it known.

The voice of Saruman

I know that this has been blogged about before, but the below mentioned author has described so well what took place when Obama visited Notre Dame University last year, that what he says deserves being roundly appreciated. Any fans of Tolkien will not fail to miss the clever title of the article which appeared on the Net last year: "Saruman at Notre Dame".
The author of the article, Dr Thaddeus J. Kozinski is Assistant Professor of Humanities at Wyoming Catholic College, in Lander, Wyoming, presents us with a keen glimpse at one of the main architects of the new relativist world which is being built around us and how Relativism is newly spinning its relationship with the Church.
" ... for now, allow me to shed light on what I consider to be the central philosophical/theological reason that Obama would advocate a social and political ideal favoring conversational fairness over truth, and use as his main example what the majority of Americans consider to be a life and death issue. Here is the master key, as it were, that unlocks Obama’s speech:
But remember too, that the ultimate irony of faith is that it necessarily admits doubt... This doubt should not push us away from our faith. But it should humble us. It should temper our passions, and cause us to be wary of self-righteousness. It should compel us to remain open, and curious, and eager to continue the moral and spiritual debate that began for so many of you within the walls of Notre Dame.
I propose this more philosophically and theologically transparent translation:
Whatever “values” and “commitments” we may hold to be true, those that stem from or involve in any way our “faith” must be held with a certain amount of irresolvable doubt—for the “truth” in these sorts of matters can never be known. And this is why we should seek above all to continue, not ever resolve, the “moral and spiritual debate,” whose quite attainable goal is not the truth of any political matter, no matter how life-threatening, but “fair-mindedness.”
I think this interpretation, or something like it, is best able to make sense of why a pro-life Christian doctor revealing his tolerance of the mass-murder of baby-humans in the womb is held up by the President of the United States as a model of civic virtue to a group of graduating Catholic college students. Needless to say, such a relativistic notion of faith and truth is completely irreconcilable with any genuinely religious worldview, and according to Obama, that means over 90 percent of the American people.
What “fair-minded” voices, then, would be permitted to speak in this sort of “vigorous debate”? ... But with truth eclipsed by “fair-minded” rhetoric as the political summum bonum, what is to prevent the strongest and must ruthless – but, of course, rhetorically “fair-minded”—from exerting power over the weaker? Sure, the pro-life doctors would be speaking quite nicely with all the pro-abortion abortion doctors, while the baby humans are slaughtered in their wombs.
Pace the president of Notre Dame, I, fair-mindedly, or perhaps not, decline to participate in Obama’s “renewal” of political life, in solidarity with all the baby humans killed in the past and who will be killed in the future due to the amoral cultural, spiritual, and political climate only exacerbated by Obama’s cleverly cloaked relativism, wherein the weakest and most defenseless are given a, not-so-fair-minded, silent treatment. Obama asks us not to caricature other American citizens—fine—but let us ask, nay, demand that he not allow them to be murdered."
This excerpt is taken from this great article, "Saruman at Notre Dame", which you read in full on the site This is a Catholic website, well worth visiting frequently.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

The fate of many bound to such a small thing

In the film version of the "Lord of the Rings", while the Fellowship are trying to cross the Misty Mountains, Boromir recovers the the Ring after Frodo has slipped. What he then says is taken from that part of the book when he tries to take the Ring from Frodo:

"Is it not a strange fate that we should suffer so much fear and doubt for so small a thing? So small a thing."
In reality, that small thing, so small a thing that we hardly reference it for what it is, that has taken hold of our whole civilisation with such an impact, and yet remains such a small thing, somewhat hidden, apparently harmless and puzzling only if you stop to think about it, beguiling but essential, so small a thing.
The creator of the Contraceptive Pill himself, Carl Djerassi, regrets the advent of this 'remedy', a 'remedy' which has paved the way not just for the condom, abortion, sterilisation, but every other distorted behaviour which has followed upon the separation of the unitive act from procreation.
This small thing is bringing an end to our civilisation. The British birthrate is now below the recovery threshold. Britain as we know it is ending, and along with it many other Western nations.
It has taken such a small thing to convince us that having (things) is more important than being (persons). Western civilisation has changed its focus; what is important is now the peripheral and the ephemeral - what we can own, possess and affirm ourselves by. That which is essential: life, the family, neigbour and God are, in contraceptive civilisation, almost totally removed. This tiny matter of contraception has so invaded human life that it has taken hold of civilisation and cut at its roots. The place where we used to seek life and refreshment, the inexaustible riches of Jesus Christ, has been set aside by contraceptive mentality, for the shops, the mass media and the ever desirous self.
Contraception has not simply changed sexual behaviour, it has taken hold of human nature in its pride and has cast out virtue and faith. Such a small thing, but the fate of many is now bound to this small, almost insignificant thing. The fate of the West now hangs by a thread, in fact, an even smaller thing - the tiniest group of cells, not visible to the naked eye, which is the beginning of human life, and by which God breaks into our lives. However, irksome it may seem, we should follow the teaching of the Church.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

A resource for the renewal

I would like to recommend a Liturgical resource which we use in our College Masses at Campion. By flowing waters: Chant for the Liturgy (Collegeville Liturgical Press, Minnesota, 1999), seeks to re-establish Chant in the Mass. This resource has greatly developed the way that we sing the Mass at Campion, for it offers a real way of reclaiming aspects of Liturgical tradition in the reformed Rite. The Council asked that Gregorian chant for the Latin liturgies be augmented. What has been achieved by the authors of this resource is “not some radical innovation but the sound recovery of a sound tradition: song integrated into the Liturgy, song not beyond the capacity of an ordinary gathering of Catholic Christians, song following both the Hebrew and the Christian legacy of the psalms of David.” The history of chant reveals that “the original Greek and Latin words themselves created the music that was meant to convey them to the heart and then to express the heart’s fullness.” This resource intends “to allow the music which expressed the meaning of the original words … to convey the same meaning to those who speak English … and to let these ancient tones become the tunes to carry [the new English translations].” We are very grateful to both our Choir Master and the Campion Schola for their part in leading us in music in the celebration of the Mass.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Thanks to donors this pilgimage took place

A few days after having arrived back in the UK for Christmas, Fr Julian and myself, together with three other priests led twenty two young men on pilgimage to Ars and Paray-le-Monial in France. We even had a fellow Sydneysider with us on this occasion!
We are very grateful to those of you who supported this pilgimage finantially. We received donations totalling approximately £1000. These gifts enabled us to subsidise some of the lads and also to hire a coach when we arrived in France.

When priests and young people get-together or take part in a pilgrimage, it is such a fruitful moment for the Church. Each one of us, whether still discerning our vocation, or endeavouring to live it more fully, received so much, especially from the powerful company of St John Vianney.

Our pilgrimage enabled us to spend so much time together and to have time for prayer. As we usually do, we spent a day in Paray and visited again the Chapel of St John for a holy hour.

Returning from France on 23rd December as the snow began to fall over Europe we encountered not unexpected delays. Nonetheless, we were able to provide some respite to fellow travellers at Lyon Airport with Carols, and then by joining together to celebrate Vespers.

All being well, we will repeat the pilgrimage this coming December.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

40 Days for Life

Just before Christmas a group of young people in Sydney were inspired to initiate plans for a Vigil for Life, this coming Lent, outside the down-town abortuary in Sydney. The Vigil begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes on Palm Sunday. During the day the Vigil will be held outside the Abortuary, and during the night the Vigil will be held, before the Blessed Sacrament, in a newly dedicated chapel just by the Abortuary. I will be taking part in this grace-led initiative. Please visit a new blog-site for more information:
The photo below shows some of the organisers together with the Vigil's patron, Bishop Porteous, one of Cardinal Pell's auxiliaries.

In the deep midwinter

Sorry to be so long getting back, but I am back in Sydney after over-wintering in England; a little jet-lug, but otherwise well-fettled.

This photo of me was taken in mid January in Birmingham University Campus. The snow we had was magnificent, covering the whole country and lasting for about three weeks. I don't remember snow like this since I was a child. Now that I'm back I'll try to do some ordered and pertinent posts.