Thursday, 24 May 2007
Congratulations especially to the Friars of the Renewal, ordained at St Patrick's Cathedral New York on Saturday. A photo sequence of the Ordination can be found here. Congratulations especially to Fr Augustine Conor, pictured here giving his first blessing to Cardinal Egan, and to Fr Emmanuel making his promise of fidelity.
If maths were taught the way religion is taught in many Catholic schools:
How do you feel about numbers?
Meditate on your favourite number, then write a paragraph about why it is your favourite.
Choose a song and identify some of the ways in which numbers are present in it. Play the song for the class and lead a discussion about what the class thinks the song expresses about numbers.
Which number is most present to you in your life today? Which number is most absent?
We're going to watch a movie. At the end of the movie we'll discuss the ways in which numbers are explicitly and symbolically portrayed in it.
What can you do to be more aware of numbers in your everyday life?
What are your best and worst experiences involving numbers?
Make a poster in which you creatively and colourfully depict a number of your choice.
Although some numbers are called "greater" and others are called "lesser", in what ways are all numbers really the same? In what ways can the "lesser" numbers be considered greater than the "greater" numbers, and in what ways can the "greater" numbers be considered less than the "lesser" numbers?
Even though irrational numbers cannot be expressed as the quotient of two integers the way rational numbers can, explain how irrational numbers should be respected and considered to be no different from rational numbers.
Explain how the traditional classification of integers as either odd or even is merely a social construct.
Explain how every number has something good about it.
Do you accept the way that previous generations have used numbers? How do you think numbers should be used? Is there a right or a wrong way to use numbers? What do you consider to be the most personally meaningful way to use numbers?
How has the way you use numbers changed throughout your life? How do you think you will use numbers in the future?
Explain why a diversity of numbers is good and what you can do to promote number diversity.
Explain how multi-cultural approaches to numeral systems (e.g., Mesopotamian, Roman, Arabic) can enrich our appreciation of numbers. Also explain why no numeral system is better than any other system.
You will have to do a group project in which each person contributes a number. Present to the class all the ways your group can relate the numbers to each other. Your presentation can be a PowerPoint or a video in which you creatively animate the numbers your group selects.
Write an essay in which you pretend that you are a number. Explain what you think it would be like to be that number.
If you believe in your heart or in your conscience that 2+2=5, does anyone else have the right to tell you that you're wrong? Explain why we should avoid judging other people's mathematical operations.
Fractions are divisive. Can you think of better ways to express a quotient, without using divisive fractions? Is division something we should strive to do with numbers anyway?
Explain why the labelling of numbers as either "positive" or "negative" is discriminatory, hurtful, and a manifestation of the bigotry of value-ism. How would you feel if you were labelled a "negative" number? What can you do to help end this kind of discrimination?
Create a collage of numbers
Tuesday, 22 May 2007
Monday, 21 May 2007
Sunday, 20 May 2007
Saturday, 19 May 2007
During the Congress meeting I noticed a couple of younger guys hanging around. They seemed to be delegates for the Congress, and seemed friendly enough, so I got talking to one of them. He said he belonged to a group called 'Catholic Christian Outreach'. It is a campus based evangelisation ministry that sounds very similar to something from the United States which I've already heard of called Focus. One of the things which bothers me most about my situation in Birmingham University is that the Evangelical Christian Union and others are so up front about evangelism, but we shrink back. Partly not to offend other Christian groups or to remain comfortable with the status quo Catholics think that evangelism has nothing to do with them. Without entering into the difference between evangelism and evangelisation - that's not just another post, but a potential book - we Catholics do need to be at the forefront of evangelisation in all its aspects, and that includes attracting people to Christ by proclaiming him. I don't know much about Focus or Catholic Christian Outreach, but I shall be finding out more. One concern I have is the cultural divide between North America and the UK - we are certainly very different and different things work because of the way we are. But we should also recognise that on most University campuses the Catholic Church is at best timid in evangelisation and at worst resigns it's responsibility completely. Who can blame chaplains who feel out on a limb? So a national group to coordinate and advance evangelisation in our universities and colleges would be a great help and support both to chaplains and willing Catholic students.
I have had experience of the Beatitudes community in France, having visited, with Fr Richard, the Abbaie Blanche in Mortain, Normandy, and having participated in the International Retreat for Priests, organised by the Beatitudes. They are an association of the faithful who have a stable life, and contains priests, male and female religious, families and single people all living in community. Here in Quebec there is a similar group but made up completely of young people. It is called the Marie Jeunesse Family. Here at the Youth Summit in preparation for the Eucharistic Congress they have had a leading role, including in liturgy and animation. It is noticeable how, for example, they are to be seen praying before singing at Mass. Their joy is evident. Apparently they are present in Belgium. It would be good to see them at Y2k at Walsingham this year!
One small reflection. I have been on a three-day meeting for delegates (national and diocesan) for the next International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec. How much time did we spend listening to talks? Many. How much time did we spend at 'cocktail receptions'? About two hours. How long were we sycophantically exalting the rather mediocre efforts of the people responsible for writing the Congress hymn? About an hour and a half. How long did we spend in actual Eucharistic Adoration (which is what the whole thing is about)? Approximately ten minutes when we visited the Jesuit Church. If we started with Adoration, and ended with Adoration, everything we do would be focussed on Christ and on his Eucharistic mystery. Even the liturgy might have fallen into place. But instead we focussed on ourselves. I think the local organising committee have some work to do - but that work is the work of prayer before anything else.
Yesterday I had to suffer one of the worst pieces of liturgical terrorism that I have had the misfortune to witness. It was the final Mass of the meeting of Delegates for the International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec. Rather than describe the scene in detail let me give it to you in bullet points:
- The Mass was celebrated in the room where we had, a few hours previously, had a buffet. The tables which were used as serving tables during the buffet were made into a long table down the centre of the room (making it look like it was prepared for another buffet). Chairs were arranged looking in on either side.
- Lay people were encouraged to sit where they liked - except for some of the front seat which were reserved for bishops. Priests were supposed to sit mingled with the people (in actual fact the herd mentality took over and we all sat together at one end).
- In the 'entrance procession', some women (I think they were religious though had nothing visible to show the fact) brought flowers and candles which they placed at strategic places along the long table.
- At the Offertory, these same women brought chalices and patens on serving trays and placed them upon the table at strategic places, and they themselves poured wine (no water) into the chalices. These were not placed on corporals at all.
- After the Eucharistic Prayer these same women approached the table beckoning (in an evidently pre-thought out manner) the bishops towards the table to partake of the Eucharist (ugh).
- The priests were given Holy Communion as though they were lay people.
The agenda of the liturgorists was evident. They wanted everyone to sit side by side - priests and people - because they have no faith in the sacred nature of the priesthood, and in the difference of nature and not just of grade of the ordained priesthood from the baptismal priesthood. The way they pushed these women forward to do the deacons role, and to 'facilitate' the bishops' celebration of the Eucharist (as if they'd never been to a Mass before) was saying that they believed that women should be ordained to the priesthood.
This was, of course, done under the nose of Cardinal Josef Tomko, the President of the Pontifical Council for the International Eucharistic Congress. And, while he seemed to play along at the time, I know from speaking to his secretary in the Pontifical Council, Fr Ferdinand Pratzner, today that all has been noted, and that a meeting to speak about the liturgy has been planned for Monday. Fr Pratzner was also very critical of the hymn for the Congress which, in its French version at least, seems to suggest that the bread and wine of the Eucharist only become sacramentally the body and blood of Christ by virtue of them being shared among us (step forward again Archbishop Cranmer).
My reaction is that this Congress has been seen (at least by Cardinal Ouellet, I think) as a remedy for the apparent disastrous decadence of the Church in French Canada during the last 40 years. Well it won't be a remedy unless this liturgical playing around, so characteristic of liberal North American liturgy, is jettisoned and the presciptions of Redemptionis Sacramentum and Sacramentum Caritatis are adopted.
Friday, 18 May 2007
The setting was tremendous - the Basilica-Cathedral of Québec. But the well organised disorganisation of the liturgy does not bode well for the Congress itself. I hope someone reads Sacramentum Caritatis before it starts, and that we get the Mass in Latin rather than not knowing what language it is in. I hope they can get rid of the professional looking lay people and religious out of the way, as they are a distraction. I hope that something of the Ars Celebrandi gets improved. But I'm not holding my breath. The thing is, the International Eucharistic Congress is supposed to be about not just adoration, but about improving celebration. Put in that context, today's Mass (or should I call it 'Eucharist liturgy'?) was a fiasco.
One good point was the homily of Cardinal Tomko (pictured above during the homily), the main celebrant (or should that be 'presider'?) He picked up on the text "A little while longer and you will not see me", and said that Jesus was pointing not just towards his Crucifixion but also to his Ascension. That although he may physically have become remote, in his divinity he is closer than ever. In the time in which we live - of the already of the Paschal Mystery and the not yet of the fulfilment of the ages - the Eucharist is the true living presence of Christ in his humanity and divinity. Although we cannot see - and maybe it is just as well as we would be overpowered by the glory - we can believe, and, as St Thomas Aquinas put it, sola fides sufficit. I just wish the teaching had been reflected in the celebration of the Mass.
First to be visited was Blessed Mary of the Incarnation. As a child, her father, who was a baker, used to let her take some of the bread to give to the poor. Although she had felt the call to religious life from an early age, she was married at the age of 17, and had a son. Her husband was a business man, but unsuccessful, and was made bankrupt, and died shortly afterwards, leaving Mary with a son and no money. She returned to her father's house, and worked to keep herself and her son. But, as he grew up, the call to religious life returned. Eventually she joined the Ursulines, and, having received in her heart a real conviction that she should serve God in Canada, went there to found one of the first convents in Québec. Her son, incidentally, having been rejected by the Jesuits, became a Benedictine monk, and eventually became Prior. Once, during prayer, Bl Mary was praying for the poor and for the souls of those who were lost to God. However, she felt that God was ignoring her prayers. In the end she felt the voice of God speaking to her, that she should bring all these prayers and lay them on the altar of the Heart of Jesus. In response, Bl Mary wrote this prayer, which I find particularly powerful:
Through the Heart of my Jesus, my way, my truth and my life, I approach You, Eternal Father. Through His divine Heart I adore You for all who do not adore You. I love You for all who do not love You. I acknowledge You for all those wilfully blind souls who through contempt refuse to acknowledge You. Through His divine Heart I wish to fulfil the obligation to all creatures towards You. I go round the world in search of all the souls redeemed by the most precious Blood of my divine Spouse. Through his divine Heart I wish to make amends for all of them. I embrace them all to present them to You through Him; and through Him I ask for their conversion. Will You allow them not to know my Jesus, or not to live for Him who died for all? You see, O heavenly Father, that as yet they do not live. Ah! grant that they may live through His divine Heart.
Oh this adorable Heart, I present to You all who labour for the extension of the Gospel, in order that by its merits they may be filled with Your Holy Spirit. On this Sacred Heart, as upon a divine altar, I present to you especially..............
You know, my Beloved, all I wish to tell Your Father through Your divine Heart, by Your holy soul; in telling Him, I tell You because You are in Your Father and Your Father in You. Grant all I ask; unite Your Heart to mine in order to move Your Father's heart. Since You are one with Him, grant that all the souls I present to You may be united with Him and with You, as You have promised. Amen.
The second blessed to be visited was Bl Catherine of St Augustine. She was not a foundress, but came to Canada at the young age of 16 to serve the sick in the hospital run by the Augustinian sisters in Québec. She died at only 36 years, offering her life for the salvation of the Canadian Church. She was beatified in 1989 by Pope John Paul II. Her bones rest in a reliquary made very shortly after her death.
The third blessed whose shrine we visited is Bl Francis of Laval, who was the first bishop (vicar apostolic) in the whole of North America, ordained bishop at the age of 35. Although his area of pastoral responsibility included most of what is now the USA, his area of work was around the towns of New France, current day Québec province. He continually visited the towns of the province, sometimes making journeys for five months at a time, and established Major and Minor seminaries in the city of Québec itself. He oversaw the establishment of Québec as a diocese in 1674. He died in 1708 at the age of 85 and was buried in the crypt of the Cathedral which he had built. His body rests in the current Cathedral (there have been four in total). He was beatified in 1980 by Pope John Paul II.
Thursday, 17 May 2007
As I write, I'm sitting in the student room which I have been allocated at the University of Laval, Quebec, as I'm here attending a meeting of national and diocesan delegates for the International Eucharistic Congress.
The University itself claims to be 'Catholic', though there is very little evidence of that as you go around. In the centre of the campus, which is an array of overpoweringly sixties edifices, is something which looks like a rather grand Church. Ah, I thought. So it is Catholic. So I went to have a mooch, and found that even if it had been a Church at one time, it was now a library and archive. I did eventually find the chapel. It was locked on first visit, and not easy to find as I easily walked past it. I must say that the chaplaincy at the secular University of Birmingham is much more prominent than this.
Anyway. The meeting. So far it hasn't been terribly inspiring. The idea is that it is a meeting for us to see where the International Eucharistic Congress will take place (in June 2008), and to become so enthused that we will bring hoards of delegates. There are not that many of the national delegates here. Of the European delegates, apart from me, there is one from Spain, one from Switzerland, one from Poland, and a substitute from France. A handful from South America, Asia and Africa are here too. The majority of the delegates are from Canada and the USA. Last night we were treated to a performance of the new Congress hymn. I can't say it's very catchy. And it took forever for them to get round to singing it, after having speeches (everything translated into English and Spanish from the original French too) for what seemed like hours. I hope today takes a new turn in terms of interest. I'm looking forward to the tour of Old Quebec later, and the Eucharistic Congress for young people which I'll be at over the weekend. I'll let you know how it's going!
We had a great day on Sunday. Bishop Pargeter visited the University chaplaincy and baptised Xiang Francis (1st right) and Helena (1st left) and confirmed Andrew (2nd right) and Tomas (2nd left). It was a great celebration and we were blessed with great graces. One of those graces, however, was not the weather. I ended out bbqing in the rain with my intrepid co-bbqers Dave and Julian (a different one). By the way that's a tea towel on my head to stop the huge drops of rain getting in my eyes.
What he is saying is that we need to return to what the Second Vatican Council actually said about the Liturgy and its reform, we have to appreciate what the Liturgy is in itself, we have to understand anew the unreformed Liturgy (Tridentine Liturgy), and we have to enable an organic development of liturgical form to occur (clearly, this is different from liturgical experimentation). We could expect that a reformed reformed rite, one that corresponds more with the intentions of the Second Vatican Council, including the question of the reform of the Tridentine Rite (which has never taken place), could arrive on our shelves within a couple of generations."Concretely, the changes which the Council called for need to be understood within the overall unity of the historical developmet of the rite itself, without the introduction of artificial discontinuites." (Sacramentum Caritatis, 3)
Wednesday, 16 May 2007
Monday, 14 May 2007
Sunday, 13 May 2007
Friday, 11 May 2007
Thursday, 10 May 2007
Last Sunday the Holy Father, while visiting the Italian city of Pavia, where St Augustine's relics are venerated, spoke of the three decisive conversions of this saint.
His first conversion was "the inner march towards Christianity, towards the "yes" of the faith and of baptism." "He desired to find the life that was right and not merely to live blindly, without meaning or purpose." He accepted the humility of faith "which lays down its self-important pride and bows on entering the community of Christ's Body." This is the conversion we remember him for when he gave up his pagan roots and became a follower of Christ. The Holy Father goes on to speak about further huge conversions in his life after being baptised and ordained to the Priesthood.
As a newly baptised Christian, Augustine had wanted to lead a contemplative life and dedicate himself to meditation in solitude. But the people of Hippo forced him to become a priest in order to serve the city of Hippo. Now he had "to live with Christ for everyone. He had to express his sublime knowledge and thoughts in the thoughts and language of the simple people of the city. The great philosophical work of an entire lifetime, of which he had dreamed, was to remain unwritten." "Instead, we have been given something far more precious: the Gospel translated into the language of everyday life and of his sufferings." As a priest he underwent this second profund conversion: "to be available to everyone, time and again, to lay down his life for Christ so that others might find him, true Life." This second conversion was a particularly telling conversion for a priest to undergo. But this is not all ...
A third conversion happened after twenty years as a priest. At this time Augustine wrote his Retractions "in which he critically reviewed all the works he had thus far written." "Augustine had learned a further degree of humility - not only the humility of integrating his great thought into the humble faith of the Church, not only the humility of translating his great knowledge into the simplicity of announcment, but also the humility of recognising that he himself and the entire pilgrim Church needed and continually need the merciful goodness of a God who forgives everyday."
The way forward is not always clear, whether you are bishop, priest or layperson, but conversion is always the right direction.
St Augustine of Hippo, pray for us today.
Wednesday, 9 May 2007
Since a consumer culture exists that wants to prevent
us from living in accordance with the Creator's plan, we must have the courage
to create islands, oases, and then great stretches of land of Catholic culture
where the Creator's design is lived out.
Tuesday, 8 May 2007
So, farewell Bishop John Crowley. I read on the Bishops' Conference Website that the Holy Father has allowed the Bishop of Middlesborough to step down because of ill health. I don't wish to make any value judgements about the retiring incumbent. But let us pray for the appointment of a courageous and visionary new Bishop. It's about time England had a diocesan bishop who was significantly different from the gentlemen's club don't rock the boat too much type we are used to.
So if you have exams - or anyone you know has some - just click on the date on the right when they have the exam (or essay deadline) and in the combox add your intention for prayer. These will be remembered at Mass and Adoration each day, and also be in the prayers of other Christian societies too.
I must agree with Dave Walker, the cartoonist, that the vocations promotion stuff that came out for Good Shepherd Sunday has not exactly hit the spot. I was so appalled by the type of imagery - I understand that 'manga style' is something Japanese - that I chucked the posters in the bin. They didn't strike me as something that would engage anyone over 12, never mind sophisticated (sic) University students. Dave Walker says this on his website:
"I can see why they are only targetting it at 10 year olds - 8 or 9 year olds just wouldn’t be suited to being in a religious order at all.Dave also criticises the Bishops' Conference website, and I quite agree:
"The cartoons are in a ‘manga’ style apparently. I don’t really ‘get’ manga, but then I don’t get lots of things because I am old. I have to say I like the stories of real people on the website, but the poster doesn’t really make me want to look at the website in the first place as it doesn’t give me any idea what it is about."
"As an aside, the Catholic Church website in England and Wales must be the worst religious website in the UK. I can’t look at most of it because the menus quite simply don’t work. It might just be Firefox they don’t work in, but I’m not about to fire up Internet Explorer to find out in case I break something."It's about time we really got to grips with communications. Maybe if we had something decent to put out there people might give more to the Catholic Communications collection.
Sunday, 6 May 2007
Friday, 4 May 2007
Thursday, 3 May 2007
How can we, next year, celebrate the Encyclical "Humanae Vitae" of Paul VI? Have you read it? I ask especially, spouses, married people to consider in what way we might celebrate the truths which Paul VI taught, and express our own confidence in the teachings of the Church about human sexuality. The Civilisation of Love is called to honour God, who for the past 40 years, during which so much truth has been rejected, has been a faithful and loving Father to us all.
Paul VI promulgated this Encyclical in 1968 in response to the question about the use of contraception between spouses. In it he describes the nature of human love, the nature of responsible parenthood and teaches that the use of contraception between spouses is always wrong. This teaching has been largely rejected both inside and outside the Church, but for those who have embraced it, the blessing of the Civilisation of Love has been given. "Humanae Vitae" is a prophetic teaching.