Thursday 25 September 2008

B16 on the Mass

"In the Roman liturgy the priest, having offered the bread and wine, bows toward the altar and prays in a low voice: 'Lord, we ask you to receive us and be pleased with the sacrifice that we offer with humble and contrite hearts.' The priest thus prepares to enter, together with the whole assembly of the faithful, into the heart of the Eucharistic mystery, into the heart of that celestial liturgy to which the second reading, taken from the Book of Revelation, refers.
The altar of sacrifice becomes in a certain way the point of encounter between heaven and earth; the center, we could say, of the one Church that is at the same time heavenly and in pilgrimage on earth, where, in the midst of the persecutions of the world and God's consolations, the Lord's disciples proclaim his passion and death until he returns in glory.
The Eucharistic celebration thus mysteriously shows the splendor of the Church, immaculate bride of the immaculate Lamb, Bride that Christ loved and gave himself up for to make her holy.''

Wednesday 24 September 2008

A Catholic Liberal Arts Degree

So, what does Campion College offer to its students? A Liberal Arts Degree - what's that? In the UK we have rather lost sight of Catholic learning and a Catholic understanding of things; "Catholic" has come to mean, for instance, a Catholic drinking Club or something to do with celebrating St Patrick's Day or stories about how nice Jesus was. Well, the Aussies have the lead on us in the UK, as do many Colleges in the States. Catholic learning is about looking at reality in a Catholic perspective - in other words, as fully and as truthfully as possible.
Campion College's mission is to provide its students with a breadth of knowledge and to develop their awareness of culture and their skills so that they are truly able to take part in society.

There is a huge tradition of Liberal Arts in a Catholic context going back to the first Christian century and it is something which has continued in many European countries to this day, and it is being rediscovered now in the States and in Australia. The Liberal Arts comprise the a study of Literature, History, Theology, Philosophy and Science.

There is a profound Catholic focus is the studies which seek a synthesis through, and an emphasis on, the interconnectedness of ideas and perspectives from the different subjects, and by allowing one subject to be built upon another. Subjects are approached from both local and global perspectives and the complementarity of Faith and Reason is drawn upon throughout.

A Catholic Liberal Arts Degree can lead into Education, Writing, Government, Adminstration, Publishing, Communications, Media, Cultural and Faith-based work, Academia, Social Services, Tourism. It gives an education for life, and not simply for an occupation. It seeks to foster good and critical thinkers and to give a deep understanding of culture.

In my short time settling into Campion College as its Chaplain I have found a warmth of personality, a deep correspondance with my own British culture and, most importantly, a search for truth. Moreover, I have discovered in Campion an attention to the person, such that the style of teaching and formation recognises the student, not simply as a name on a roll, but as a person. Campion College is very much a place which is worthy of consideration by potential students who are seeking something beyond what secular universities offer, and also potential students from the UK.

Sunday 21 September 2008

Spear fishing at Long Reef beach

It's extraordinary where Friendship with Christ takes you! On Sunday afternoon a few of us went with some friends of the College to do some fishing off Long Reef Point on Sydney's northern headland, in the open ocean. Armed with spears and spear-guns we got ready for the hunt. I have never used a snorkel before - so the the venture included some beginners training for me. Having swum out some hundred yards from the beach we began to catch fish. The photo below shows us launching our support boat which enabled us to accompany the fishing almost a quarter of a mile out. I didn't take the camera out on the boat so lost the opportunity of some extraordinary photos.
We caught about ten fish including this cuttlefish which you can see me preparing above. The previous photo shows our main trophy, held by Matt who used to work at the College. We prepared the fish while hungry pelicans waited on the lamppost above us avoiding an angry little terrier.
All in all, an extraordinary but grace-filled day.

In the early morning sun.

Campion College has been given a canoe and a kyack, so in the early morning sun three of us took these two boats to try them out on Lake Parramatta which is near the College. These pictures speak for themselves - the location and the experience of being out on the lake in canoes was exquisite. We'll certainly be having future adventures in these.

Saturday 20 September 2008

The Living Poets Society

Last night we had a bonfire on Campus and, since the study of English Literature is a component of the Degree at Campion, we sat round the fire and read poetry to oneanother. The setting was completely absorbing: a warm, still night, near the lake under the trees. Everyone chose their favourite writers; some knew their pieces off by heart. Australian poets and classical English writers. I chose a part of "Mort d'Arthur" by Tennyson - " ... and on a sudden, lo, the level lake and the long glories of the winter moon ..." etc. Our recitations, together with some Tandoori chicken which I had prepared and some Australian beer, set the scene for some very good culture on Campus.

Thursday 18 September 2008

The standard you walk past is the standard you set.

Today, the pornification of girlhood, even baby girls, is everywhere, and the fact that most of us see pornification images in Shopping Malls, Newsagents, Billboards etc and ignore them, means that we are compliant with the pornification culture as it is offered.

This was the opening message of a seminar given yesterday evening at Campion College by Melinda Tankard Reist. She revealed to what extent this part of the culture of death has pervaded our culture and how we can begin to respond.

First of all, don't buy products made by Lynx or Dove or Skins. These manufacturers are heavily involved in promoting porn.

Complain - to the mass media, retailers, the press.

Tell your friends about manufacturers and retailers which are promoting these products and the porn culture which they promote.

Stop comparing yourself and your image with the culture.

Don't diet at all. If you have a real problem, get real help.

Don't even consider cosmetic surgery - use your money properly.

Don't conform to the culture.

You can find out more about Melinda and the fightback against porn by visiting : And for men who really want to set an example with your own lives, then check out these two sites: (being accountable for what you see online) and (challenging pornography and changing behaviour).

Spread this message.

Wednesday 17 September 2008

First sight

Today I had my first sight, and touch, of the Pacific Ocean. Myself and another member of staff went out to reconnoitre an area near the Hawksbury Harbour entrance for a possible place to launch some canoes which the College has acquired. Here are some photos of "Palm Beach" where they film scenes for the mindless Soap "Home and Away". It is always a very impressive experience when one first encounters a mighty Ocean. The day was somewhat overcast, as you can tell, but the location is absolutely fantastic and I look forward to going back with groups from the College and getting out there with the surfers.

Monday 15 September 2008

Formal Hall

News from Sydney. Most Monday evenings we have Formal Hall in the College - an opportunity for the life and culture of the College to mature and be expressed. Here's of photo of myself in the gathering of the house just before Dinner. Invited speakers took part in the previous two Formal Halls which I have participated in, but this evening the house took part in a debate.

Saturday 13 September 2008

Called upon

I'm sorry that I haven't been posting much recently, but I have to say - coming out to Sydney has been like coming out of retirement for me. In Leeds where I was last a Parish Priest, it was like being a retired person. I have been considerably busier in Sydney. A few days ago I was called upon to celebrate a Requiem Mass for a family of Sydneysiders whose father had died. The Mass took place in Rookwood Cemetery - the largest cemetery in the southern hemisphere. This huge park - named in pagan fashion, a "Necropolis", is ten square kilometers in size and is located near Sydney's Olympic Park.
These photos cannot convey either the size or the stature of this cemetery. I celebrated Mass in one of two Catholic Chapels which, along with numerous other chapels and funereal facilities, offer the people of Sydney the possibilty of holding huge or intimate but dignified funerals. The chapel we used was very modern but not inappropriate, and I was surprised to find that the sacristy was fully and expensively fitted out with everything necessary for Mass. Quite unlike anything I have ever seen before.

Tuesday 9 September 2008

Friendship with Christ

The Gospel of today's Mass - the call of the first disciples - leads us into the Mystery of evangelisation through friendship. Christ himself evangelises through friendship. We hear how he spent the whole night in prayer - He is living an intimate relationship with His Father - he comes down from the hills and calls his first disciples - he wishes to share the relationship which he has with His Father with others. He chooses those who are open to his call. Those who ask questions or who have other matters to attend to first He leaves behind. Those whom He chooses do not know what lies ahead but they receive the call to live in community with Him and to have a deeper experience of His life and of His person. We respond to His call when we allow Him to establish our lives on His friendship and seek to build a simple rule of life with Him which will allow us to spend time with Him. Beginning the day in prayer, entering into the Gospel, taking part in daily Mass, if we can, spending some time in prayer with Him - especially in front of the Tabernacle, if we can, and ending the day with a short examination of conscience and thanksgiving. This friendship is at the heart of being a Catholic today.

Monday 8 September 2008

Sense and sensibility

Recently, I came across this piece in the CF News log. When I was in Huddersfield I became aware of the mindless way in which sex education was foisted on young people in both Catholic and State schools, just as it had been in the early 70s when I was at a Catholic Grammar School in Leeds. Here Dr. Philip Ney speaks with sense and sensibility on sex-education:
I am a retired professor of psychiatry, having taught in 5 universities in different parts of Canada, Hong Kong and New Zealand. I have also run child and adolescent psychiatric units. I have been on school boards. It is from a review of the literature and from my experience that I write this brief opinion.
1) There is no particular need for 'sex education.' For many centuries there was no sex education, yet children were conceived and their parents enjoyed the process. Discovery of each other and what is pleasant in bed, on the wedding night and thereafter, is an important part of the exciting and unique pleasure that bonds the couple.
2) Sex education inhibits pair bonding. To educate young people about something that comes naturally robs them of the spontaneity and joy of sex that is vitally important for pair bonding and thus family stability.
3) The more sex education, the more sexual self-consciousness. There is substantial evidence that the more sex education, especially on technique, the more the couple is sexually inhibited. The greater the emphasis on sexual performance, the less communication and interpersonal intimacy there is.
4) The more sex education, the more sexual activity. It is quite conclusive now, that the more sex education, the more sexual activity and all the problems that go with that. The introduction of sex education is well correlated with the increase in abortion, STDs and boy-girl interpersonal problems. Good education gives people the desire to try it out or learn more experientially. Paradoxically, in that respect, current forms of sex education are good education but have the wrong results.
5) The earlier the sex education, the younger children explore sex and try various sexual techniques. Present evidence makes it possible to also conclude that the earlier the sex education, the earlier the sexual behavior. Thus sexual education is sexual titillation.
6) In preventing disease and pregnancy, sex education has been a failure. Sex education has had the opposite effect in preventing young people from engaging in 'risky sexual behavior.'
7) The idea of 'safe sex' has failed. Frightening children with the dangers of 'unprotected sex', drugs, fast driving, alcohol, etc. for many children has the paradoxical effect of increasing their interest in trying it.
8) The reliance on condoms has been dangerously misleading. There are sexually transmitted diseases (eg. Human Papilloma Virus) for which condoms offer no protection. The most effective use of the best condoms offers 87% protection from lethal HIV, transmitted by anal intercourse. Condom use has failed particularly in Africa. Condom use creates the false impression of safety, thus encouraging sex, when there is a 13% (at least) chance of dying as a result.
9) There is nothing in sex education that cannot be part of a more effective general health education. Everything of value in sex education can be integrated with the necessary knowledge of how the body and mind work. We found that by using the young person's curiosity and letting them discover how their heart, lungs etc. work, gives them a natural desire to protect something very precious - their body and mind.
10) The sex industry profits from sex education. There is an enormous sex industry that financially profits from natural biological drives and makes billions on fashions, condoms, contraceptives, etc. It is understandable they contribute to the sex problems.
11) Sex education creates mind absorbing conflicts and preoccupations. Exposing children to sexual titillation (sex education) creates conflicts and preoccupations that interfere with their mental health, education and personal development.
12) Sex education tends to result in mental images that interfere with the appreciation of nature and art.
13) No sex education teaches the beauty and hazards of pair bonding. To my knowledge there is no sex education program that informs kids about inadvertent pair bonding. Humans are made one flesh through sex. Thus many kinds of sexual behaviour create life long pair bonds. These interfere with the intimacy and durability of a later committed marriage. Statistics indicate that the more 'premarital' sex the more extramarital sex.
14) Many kinds of sex education, including 'chastity' education, leave a young person with the impression that any kind of sex except vaginal intercourse is okay when it is not.

Tuesday 2 September 2008

Down in the city again

The other day I finally made it into Sydney during the day; I took the RiverCat ferry from Parramatta to Circular Quay which is right beside the Opera House.As the ferry drew near the city the harbour widened and the final approach to the quayside was quite spectacular, passing under the harbour Bridge and passing alongside the Opera House - which is magnificent.
The glittering buildings of the CBD had been so recently the focus of the Church's life during WYD, especially Sydney's noble Cathedral.
These pictures will evoke great memories for those who took part in that event. Grace has rained down on this new city; visited as it has been by the two great architects of the New Evangelisation. I am already beginning to meet and make contact with many of Christ's agents here.