Thursday 29 November 2007

A real question

Whilst the film "Goodbye Charlie Bright" is not a major screen production, nonetheless, it presents the simple outline of the culture of death as it currently present in all our cities and large towns. I watched the film the other day and was inspired in my own mind to ask again the pressing question: how can we evangelise young people who are trapped in the culture of death?
In the film, of the three young friends, one gets out by joining the army, one gets out by being driven off, hand-cuffed, by the police, and the third, miraculously, decides himself to leave the place where he has grown up and start afresh elsewhere (which is where the film ends).
I don't have the answer to my question; I don't know how you would even begin to evangelise such people, but I do know that the culture in which they are immersed should never have been allowed to develop. These young people have been let down by us.

Thursday 22 November 2007

Patroness of womanhood

Although St Cecilia is known as the Patroness of musicians, she was from the outset, venerated as a model of womanhood. This is not simply because she was a virgin and martyr; in fact, she was married (her biography on is worth reading). But because through her life and her spirituality she clearly expresses womanhood - both natural womanhood and Christian womanhood. You might look again at the first reading of her Mass today (from the Prophet Hosea) which says so much about the genuine character and personality of woman.
She is an important Saint for today when the secular model of womanhood has robbed women of so much dignity, and thereby confused and inhibited men in their own manhood. We might say that the way in which the Church promoted the dignity of women in the past is outmoded - which is not a fully coherent argument - but we have certainly allowed the secular models of womanhood to overwhelm us. There is so much to be rediscovered and regained here in appropriating a genuine feminine (and masculine) spirituality, and in the education of girls (and therefore boys).
It is here, rather than in music, that St Cecilia's prayers are needed - particularly as there is so much for us to do in this regard.

Wednesday 21 November 2007

We will miss you.

Today I took part in the Requiem Mass, in St Chad's Cathedral, Birmingham, for Archbishop Maurice Couve de Murville. He was a good friend to me since our first meeting in 1982. He was great Bishop of our era, unassuming but very affable and cultured. Hospitality and sociability were his hallmarks as a priest and a bishop. It is probably quite unusual to have a friend who is a bishop but he was so easy to approach and converse with that friendship with him was something that happened so easily. His funeral Mass was very beautiful and it was a privilage to have been a concelebrant. It was a great privilage for me to have known him; his death seems to have happened all too soon after his retirement only seven years ago. May he enter quickly into the Father's House. I will miss him.

Saturday 17 November 2007

The other approach. Huddersfield learn!

In north Leeds a group of Baptist Christians were inspired in the 80's to open house which has become a Christian community for many people. A few weeks ago I called at Crag House Farm and was very impressed by what I found. It is somewhat similar to Craiglodge in Scotland. Visit Would anyone like to help me establish a similar farm, Catholic and in England?

Friday 16 November 2007

Huddersfield, oh Huddersfield!

A report in the Huddersfield local newspaper the othe day told how vandals had covered an Anglican church with anti-Christian graffiti.

White painted slogans reading 'Lucifer is rising', 'the Anti-Christ is coming', and a range of swear words have been daubed on the outer stone walls of St Augustine's Church on Busker Lane. Signs linked with the Devil, including pentagrams and the number 666, were also included in the graffiti, which covered the walls, pathways, the church steps and vestry door and some of the stained glass windows. The graffiti is thought to have been written overnight on Friday and was discovered by ashocked resident who was passing through the churchyard early on Saturday morning. Churchgoers had to face the offensive messages when attending the Remembrance Day service on Sunday. Churchwarden Sandra Firth said people were shocked and disgusted by the graffiti and fear it could cost large amounts of money to remove. She said: 'It is just awful and very upsetting, especially as people had to see it on Remembrance Sunday. The church is absolutely covered and the words are quite nasty. It is going to be hard to shift.' Mrs Firth said she is hoping people will come forward with information about the culprit. She said: 'We have had graffiti before but we have never had it as bad as this. 'We used to have kids doing graffiti with marker pens but nothing like this. It seems very specific. I can't understand why anyone would want to go out on a cold night and do this.'

Why Huddersfield have you embraced the culture of death? Why have you taken to yourself a culture of alcohol, drugs and endemic prostitution? Why do you not choose the Culture of Life?

Thursday 15 November 2007

The priesthood revealed anew

The recent retreat for Diocesan Priests in Ars attracted fifteen priests who travelled out to Ars near Lyon in France for five days of retreat led by Mgr Francis Frost and priests of the Societe Jean Vianney. The retreat was titled "The Priest: brother, father, spouse" and focussed on the three relationships which the priest has with the Church, relationships which have come from the Heart of Christ as he gave the Priesthood to the Church.

Our retreat took place in the Foyer Sacerdotale Jean-Paul II in Ars, which is also the seminary of the Society. We were welcomed there by members of the Society and indeed, by the Cure d'Ars himself, who has inspired the creation of a whole priestly movement in Ars. This house is tangibily seeking the renewal of the Diocesan Priesthood.

In the group photo above, together with the fifteen UK priests, are Mgr Francis Frost and Elizabeth, a lay member of the Society who is at the heart of the running of the Foyer. This retreat has, I think, touched all the partcipants deeply as priests, and such a great grace may inspire all sorts of good things in the Church in the UK. I'll post on some of the themes which were addressed during the retreat. And, just in case you could not make this retreat, there will be more!

Tuesday 13 November 2007

Revisiting 'Humanae vitae'

I have begun placing resources for the 40th anniversary of Paul VI's great teaching about marriage on the Community of grace website. So far this includes a copy of the Encyclical itself, together with a precis which I have made. I shall add resources in due course and will be happy to add appropriate stuff which you might indicate to me - for instance, other websites or links to other web articles. I am having some A6 flyers printed to raise awareness about the anniversary and will be happy to send you small bundles for the purposes of dissemination.

Sunday 11 November 2007

Through the prism of pragmatism

Not having a television I often listen to the Radio and, in particular, to the BBC World Service. This channel presents a welter of affairs and issues from around the globe, including global ones. Here the BBC demonstrates its cleverness at being able to take whatever human issue or concern and channel it through its ever-so sophisticated secular-pragmatist filter so that every issue can be understood so perfectly, without of course, mentioning God or truth. You know that this is the case when every programme or presentation by the BBC concludes with 'paralysis by analysis' - that we can claim to understand an issue, but we cant resolve it.
Here lies the challenge for a Catholic Radio; one which is based upon truth, and God's truth for that matter. (After all, since Christ we know that God's truth is a mediated truth.) The field lies open for a Radio which does not conform to the subjectivism of the age, still less to Anglo-Saxon, Elizabeth I-inspired, pragmatism, but rests upon the axis of human affairs and truth. This is not to say then, that a Catholic Radio would be a religious channel, but rather, that it would present any human issues and affairs upon the basis of truth (not, so-called 'media truth', but truth) and seek to present a solution to human affairs (which is what truth does).
So, for instance, the question of Climate Change, when in the hands of the secular media, presents us with an issue for neurotic concern, could in the hands of a Catholic Radio, open us up to the plan of God in Creation and in the Redemption. Indeed, the question of Climate Change is intimately connected with man's reconcilaition with God. Such a work would require a completely new way of understanding journalism and producing (particularly for the Western World). We are going to need a lot of self-sacrificing staff to bring this about - are you up for it?

Saturday 3 November 2007

A new start

I'm starting a weekly Lucenarium again in my new parish next Saturday evening at 7.00pm. If you would like to come you would be very welcome. The Postcode is LS27 7QR. A reminder of what the Lucenarium is. It is the weekly Vigil of Sunday, beginning with the lighting of candles as a symbol of the Resurrection. It includes Evening Prayer followed by Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, a time a silent adoration and the proclamation of a Gospel of the Resurrection, ending with Benediction. The Lucenarium dates back to the Second Century.
A fairly big way to start the new week!

Friday 2 November 2007

A myth too far

The rewriting of history from an "English" perspective is creaking again under the weight of criticism which has come in response to the film "Elizabeth; the Golden Age". I haven't seen the film, but I have seen so much stuff in the media about it. This is the first time that I have witnessed the Elizabethan Settlement getting a public thrabbering. In Britain we are brought up to understand that the Elizabethan Settlement (a new political order in England in which the Monarch created her own church and in which law could be created independently of truth) was the main righteous player in creating a fairer world at the beginning of the modern age. In order to go with this theory you have to trash the spiritual past of England, claim that the trashing and attempted trashing of so many other States by the English was righteously undertaken (Ireland, Scotland, Netherlands and Spain) and that so much that has taken place since because of this is good. The thing is - we haven't yet recovered from the violence which our State used in the sixteenth century in order to separate ourselves from the great movement of grace. The 'creakiness' of this new film,in its obvious deformation of history and historical characters, seems to be a sign of this. Sukdev Sandu concludes his review in the 'Telegraph' saying "The pity of this botched follow-up is that it never once touches us." The real history of the English will be written one day when we have a clear conscience to do it.
Incidentally, the political intentions of Spain towards England which prompted the Armada, were contained in a letter from Philip II to the Duke of Parma, which he was to open when he landed in England. The letter spelled out three directives for the Spanish invading army:
1. That in England the free use and exercise of our holy Catholic faith shall be permitted to all catholics, native and foreign, and that the exiles shall return.
2. That all places in my Netherlands which the English hold shall be restored to me.
3. That the English shall recompense me for the injury thay have done to me, my dominions, and my subjects; which will ammount to an exceedingly great sum. (This third pount may be dropped; you may use it as a lever to obtain the other two.)
Its very unclear how things would have turned out had the Armada been sucessful.

Thursday 1 November 2007

A great cloud of witnesses

Let us take our place, dear brothers and sisters, at the school of the saints, who are the great interpreters of true Eucharistic piety. In them the theology of the Eucharist takes on all the splendour of a lived reality; it becomes “contagious” and, in a manner of speaking, it “warms our hearts”. (JPII, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 62)

Ode to Joy

A few days ago the Holy Father attended a concert in which Beethoven's Ninth Symphony was played. At the end of the concert, the Holy Father recalled that Beethoven composed his final symphony in 1824, after a period of isolation and difficulty "which threatened to suffocate his artistic creativity." Yet the composer "surprised the public with a composition that broke with the traditional structure of the symphony," rising at the end "in an extraordinary finale of optimism and joy," the Pontiff said.
Benedict XVI continued, "This overwhelming sentiment of joy is not something light and superficial; it is a sensation achieved through struggle" because "silent solitude [...] had taught Beethoven a new way of listening that went well beyond a simple capacity to experience in his imagination the sound of notes read or written." This was akin to "the perceptivity given as a gift by God to people who obtain the grace of interior or exterior liberation."