Sunday, 19 July 2015

A priest for all seasons.

I was sorry to learn of the death of Fr Greg Jordan SJ, of Brisbane, Australia, yesterday. I knew Fr Greg when I was in Australia. He visited me in Sydney a few times and really took me 'under his wing' and introduced me to people and places. He also welcomed me to Brisbane during a visit there and introduced me to his home and to the city. The Jacarandas were in full blossom under his windows on that day. I was extremely grateful to him for the warmth of his friendship and his solicitude towards me as a newcomer. I know that many Australian Catholics thought a great deal of him, and I know that he will be sorely missed by them.
I am grateful that I knew him, if only for a few years, and I will remember him for his youthful energy and enthusiasm. A few times I saw him run so as to catch up with someone he wished to speak to - he ran like a young man of twenty years. May he be given now an extraordinary welcome in Heaven, and may the graces he distributed in his priestly life, bear fruit in thirty, sixty and a hundredfold.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Twenty seven years ago today …

I was ordained to the Priesthood. I crossed a threshold that I could never have created or even thought of for myself, being given a share in the Mystery of the Priesthood of Jesus Christ, by which everything is changed and made fitting for God's Plan.
I took this photo last month during the Retreat for Priests in Ars. Many of us had come out  one evening to the Basilica, where Adoration was taking place. The open door, revealing not just the interior of the old Church of Ars, but also the presence of the Lord himself, speaks loudly to me of the gift which I share. 
Human freedom always flows out of following one's vocation, whatever it may be, but the kind of freedom which the Priesthood enables is of another kind. The way in which the Priesthood has changed and shaped me goes far beyond what I could ever have expected of myself and of God's purposes for me. I desire now, much more than I did twenty seven years ago, to be nearer to the heart of the Mystery - a nearness which the priesthood makes possible in the most extraordinary way.
I was ordained on the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. I took great delight in this date being given to me by my bishop twenty seven years ago. My mother had, all those many years ago, given me a middle name - Simon, after St Simon Stock, who on this day in 1251 was given the Brown Scapular. We should not forget that it was also on this day in 1948 that the Bishops of England and Wales consecrated the country to the Immaculate Heart of Mary at the newly developing Shrine of Walsingham. This Shrine too, has always been at the heart of my life.
Please pray for me, as I make my next steps on the English Mission.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Going out with someone.

We used to call it dating or even courtship, but going out with someone and discovering that another person is special to me, and then beginning to discern the possibility of a communion of life and love with that person is one of the most exciting experiences in life. 
In a secular age is there a Catholic vision for dating? Yes, there is, and I'm offering an opportunity to those who are 18 and over to look with me at this vision.
Going out with someone: an evening seminar, Wednesday 15th July 2015 at 7.30pm in St Ignatius Parish centre, WF5 0DQ.
For more details, please contact me on 

Thursday, 2 July 2015

The house of a recusant.

Two weeks ago we kept the feast of the rebel Cardinal, John Fisher and the retired Chancellor, Thomas More, the first of England's Reformation martyrs to be canonised. Earlier this year I was in Rochester and, after visiting the Cathedral, where once John Fisher was Bishop, I glanced over to the old Bishop's House on the north side of the Cathedral. The house, now no longer the Bishop's Palace, and almost certainly altered since Tudor times, is nonetheless the house in which John Fisher lived when he was Rochester's Bishop.
The house is still small and would have been a humble Bishop's house, by medieval and renaissance standards. But within its walls there remains those spaces which nurtured the blossoming of an apostolic courage which would establish the Church in this country on new and certain footings, even if they departed from contemporary expectations. Here, and in the old house in Chelsea (Thomas More's home), were forged the beginnings of recusancy - the desire to conform always to the person of Christ, together with the desire never to conform to the prevailing culture. These two men stood out in a singular way from all their contemporaries, but many would follow them - those for whom the term 'recusant' would be applied. In our country we have no greater models and leaders than our recusant forbears, because they show us how to be recusants today. They appeal to our deepest sensibilities, the relationship that we have with Christ the Lord, and to forge in our own homes and places of work those same desires. How the Lord will use these desires of ours is His to name.