Saturday 28 February 2009

The new Pelagians

Here is one - a film maker - Danny Boyle - who was quoted recently by a BBC's Faith columnist saying something which struck me because of the force of its neo-Pelagianism:

"It's faith that's linked to the imagination - the power of taking a leap - rather than it being faith in a strictly conventional religious sense."

These are the words of a Catholic who is grasping at human notions to build faith. What he should have said is:

"It's faith that links me to Christ - His power in me - not my ideas about faith, but being able to embrace the Mystery of His life." That would be a Catholic statement.

Friday 27 February 2009

Culture of Life movies

After highlighting Clint Eastwood's extraordinary film "Gran Torino", I would like to offer here a list of worthy films which have been given awards by the Madrid archdiocesan weekly magazine, Alpha and Omega, which is distributed by the newspaper ABC. It has given special awards for the production of recent films in defense of life.The Alpha and Omega awards highlighted five pro-life films released in 2008, four related to abortion and one to euthanasia: "Juno", "Bella", "4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days", "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" and "The Princess of Nebraska".
Other awards which have been given are:
Best Leading Actor: Tommy Lee Jones, "In the Valley of Elah"
Best Supporting Actor: Ciarán Hinds, "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day"
Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Clarkson, "Lars and the Real Girl"
Best Cinematography: Sergey Trofimov and Rogier Stoffers, "Mongol"
Best Film With Christian Theme: "Guadalupe," director Santiago Parra
Best Soundtrack: Alberto Iglesias, "The Kite Runner"
Best Family Film: "Horton Hears a Who!," directors Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino
Best Historical Drama: "O, Jerusalem," directed by Chris Kraus
Best Educational Film: "The Wave," director Dennis Gansel
Best Animated Film: "Wall-E," director Andrew Stanton
These should keep us going for a while!

Tuesday 24 February 2009

Against the neo-Pelagians

"And if you hear any Catholic say or teach something that goes against the teaching and discipline of the Church, as safe-guarded by the Pope, politely, but firmly, challenge them, be they a lay catechist, teacher, deacon, priest or even a bishop."
My last post was a comment on a sermon by St Augustine who on many occasions spoke against Pelagianism. In our day, when neo-Pelagianism is so strong in the Church in the UK, making humanity the measure of the Gospel, Bishop O'Donoghue is loudly teaching people about grace and how to embrace the Mystery of Christ. Thanks go to the Newman Society of Oxford University for inviting Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue to speak in Oxford last month and enable the vision for the Church in the UK to be proclaimed by this courageous Bishop to a whole generation of students.

You can read his entire discourse on the "Christendom Awake" website. It is a long time since the Catholic Faith had episcopal leadership in England; we should thank God for this 'second-spring' and pray that many will follow Bishop O'Donoghue's indications and take "Fit for Mission? Church" as their personal blueprint for building up the Church. Following on from my last post, I would recommend that fathers of families take up this kind of leadership within families and for the Church - since families are the primary building bricks of the Church.

Saturday 21 February 2009

Leaders after the heart of Christ

St Augustine (of Hippo) once while he was preaching famously addressed the fathers of families who were in his congregation as "my fellow bishops". Quite a radical thing to say but an expression which reveals a deep truth about fatherhood. The reason why this could be considered radical is because St Augustine was releasing married men for the role of leadership which God had entrusted to them. Here we see a bishop not seeking to control his flock but rather empowering them for their unique mission.
There is nothing contrived about this mission for it is something which arises from the very nature of Christian manhood, which has received, in the sacrament of marriage, the goods of Salvation. St Augustine was not timid in the way he spoke about the being of a bishop and being of a married man, comparing the spiritual and pastoral leadership of a father to that of his own as a Catholic Bishop.
There is much then, that a bishop (or priest) can learn from a married man, and much that a married man can learn from a priest (or bishop) since their roles spring from the same source - the love of Christ for His Church.
In Familiaris Consortio JPII said:
In revealing and in reliving on earth the very fatherhood of God, a man is called upon to ensure the harmonious and united development of all the members of the family: he will perform this task by exercising generous responsibility for the life conceived under the heart of the mother, by a more solicitous commitment to education, a task he shares with his wife, by work which is never a cause of division in the family but promotes its unity and stability, and by means of the witness he gives of an adult Christian life which effectively introduces the children into the living experience of Christ and the Church.
Like a bishop a married man is called to bring about the unity and the mission of his family - a living experience of Christ and the Church. What a great calling, what a wonderful thing it is to enable fathers to appreciate their mission, what a great thing for a married man to strive to fulfill, what a great and essential part of the New Evangelisation. We need Catholic fathers in this age. This is something which the world doesn't tell men, but it is certainly something which is worth pointing out - and how marvellously St Augustine pointed it out all those years ago in Hippo.

Wednesday 18 February 2009

Starting up a culture of appreciation

Fr Tim Finnigan of "The Hermaneutic of Continuity" may be experiencing some difficulties in his parish because of the way that he is promoting the Liturgy, but those difficulties are a sign that a new appreciation of the Liturgy is beginning to happen. And that the hinge of this new "conversation" about the Liturgy has been the way in which Fr Tim has implemented the "Motu Proprio" in his parish.

Fr Tim has now made available, through his blog, an excellent essay on the Liturgy which he has written and in which he offers a very clear historical understanding of the way in which the Liturgy of the Mass has developed, together with some important comments on current practices in the Liturgy.

This essay and Fr Tim's pastoral leadership in his parish is cutting new territory for the Church in the UK. In most parishes there is a status quo which insists that the Liturgy be celebrated in the most banal way possible and in which there is no recognition of the calls from the Church for a renewed Liturgy or a renewed appreciation of the Liturgy. So, the two important Liturgical documents of our age "Redemptionis Sacramentum" and "Sacramentum Caritatis" are virtually unknown. For many Catholics the experience of the Mass is still that of "Colours of Day" and rotas of lay people fulfilling loads of jobs on the sanctuary. If you add to this stymied situation that of the number of people who come up to communion without any idea of what they are doing, and a whole raft of practices which are seemingly now set in stone, but which are actually abuses, for instance, lay people preaching or helping themselves to the sacred species at communion, then we are talking about a totally disfunctional situation regarding the Liturgy.

Yes, indeed, Fr Tim has made a real breakthrough and, in his territory at least, has opened up the situation in favour of a genuine process of renewal and appreciation of the Liturgy which the Church is calling for. He is at the forefront of leading the Church in the UK out of the Liturgical stymer and disfuntionality that it is in, and into the reform of the reform. And the heart of the reform of the reform is a appreciation of what the Liturgy is. This means not only seeking to celebrate the new Mass in a renewed way, but also celebrating the Mass of 1962. And it also means returning to study "Sacrosanctum Concilium" and the history of the development of the Liturgy - to follow the fatherly directions which B16 has given us in "Sacramentum Caritatis" and throughout his pontificate.

If there is any upset in Fr Tim's parish, this will not have been intended, and I do hope that any upset can be easily addressed in favour of being led to appreciate in a renewed way the greatness of the Liturgy. I also hope that Fr Tim's leadership here will influence many in the UK to break out of a self-imposed liturgical ghetto and to also embrace the reform of the reform.

The latest from Clint Eastwood

Driving through Sydney last week and listening to the radio I was intrigued by a review about Clint Eastwood's new film "Gran Torino". The reviewer made little of the fim, saying that it was about a certain kind of narrow-mindedness in mid-west America and he advised his listeners to wait until it comes out on DVD to watch it. I thought otherwise and went to the cinema to see it the other day. The setting of the film is certainly a sector of narrow-minded mid-west, but the film is about grace. It is an extraordinary film and I certainly recommend it.
As the film ended and I got up to leave I turned to look at the rest of the viewers - they were rooted to their seats in stunned silence!

Sunday 15 February 2009

A New Evangelisation Parish

Not everyone yet has the experience of being a part of a renewed parish - a parish of the new evangelisation - which is responding to the call of Christ at the heart of the Church. Indeed, it is hard to foresee what a new evangelisation parish would be like until we encounter one. We sometimes speak of disfunctional families - we could easily speak also of disfunctional parishes (I was once Parish Priest of one), or of dying parishes, parishes which are sad because they are linked to a particular culture or convention or conformism rather than to the person and teaching of Jesus Christ (I have had my experience of these too).
What an immense joy then to have been given a web link to a parish which is renewed. It isn't every day that you encounter a parish whose vision is totally different, because it is renewed. Are you ready for this:

The transformation from Church member by convention to Christian Disciple by conviction.

To reform and renew the world by helping every person surrender his or her life, without reservation, to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

A willingness to allow His Gospel to be the measure of our whole lives and a readiness to abandon anything that is contrary to the Revelation of God.

Becoming evangelical Catholics is a life long adventure of letting go of cafeteria, casual or cultural Catholicism by accepting the liberating truth of the Word of God and living by grace through faith in the Son of God.
The nature and life of this parish is due in no small part to its Parish Priest, Fr Jay Newman. The Parish is that of St Mary's, Charlston, South Carolina, USA - a model for our age, and the age that is beginning.

Friday 13 February 2009

New Evangelisation Congress 2

For more information, please comment or contact me.

Redeeming Valentine's Day

Here is a great message from Christopher West which I saw today:

"On this insecurity-inducing day, couples around the world exchange chocolates, romantic dinners, diamonds and other gifts for sex. Men and women, it seems, will go to great lengths to save themselves from the loneliness that creeps up when all the red hearts and romantic songs replace Christmas dcecorations and carols. It seems we all wonder at times "Am I really loved?" or "Do I have to buy his or her attention with something?"

This makes Valentine's Day an annual event ripe for redemption, ripe for John Paul II's Theology of the Body.

The fact that we set aside a day each year to celebrate romantic love points to the importance we place on it, and rightly so. The love of man and woman is what makes the world go round. When the love of man and woman ceases, so does the human race itself. And it's precisely because it's so important, so valuable, that it has become so terribly distorted by the enemy. The devil is not creative. He cannot create his own parrallel universe of pure evil. All he can do is to take what God created to be true, good and beautiful and twist it, distort it. This means that behind every temptation the father of lies uses to lead us astray from God, we will find something that God created to lead us to him. And behind every distorted desire in our own hearts that lures us away from God, we can discover a God-given desire that will lead us to him.
So, Valentine's Day can become, if we will allow it, an opportunity to celebrate the love we all truly long for, the love of Christ for the Church, of which man and woman's love is a mere shadow. We needn't prostitute ourselves to know we are loved. We needn't spend lots of money. We ourselves have been purchased at a high price."

Courting the culture of death

Here in Oz there is a new website offering baby predictor software, to introduce us all to the next step in Eugenics: a freely available service to all biological partners, enabling them to make genetic judgements about their relationships and the transmission of life. This is, of course, the soft edge of the culture of death (if it has a soft edge), but I wonder who it is that is sponsoring . The evil which lies behind such a project is terrible.

Tuesday 10 February 2009

New Evangelisation Congress

The Holy Spirit calls us on from World Youth Day to the New Evangelisation - to be witnesses to Christ at the heart of the Church.
SCNE - The Sydney Congress of the New Evangelisation
You are invited to this Congress in Sydney, 19th - 26th July 2009. Families, parishes, young people, catechists and teachers, priests and deacons, religious and communities are called to register as Delegates.
The Congress sessions will be held at St Mary's Cathedral in the mornings, and evangelisation events will take place in the afternoons and evenings throughout the week in the CBD. Seminars, workshops and speakers will present the Gospel in the context of secular culture, the family, business and finance, love and sexuality, spirituality, new methods of evangelisation and apologetics.
I'll be able to let you have full details including delegate registration details very soon, but please, put this in your diary and make it into a prayer intention.

Sunday 8 February 2009

Night Fever

On Friday evening I went down to the city to take part in a regular event at the Sacred Heart Church in Darlinghurst, down town Sydney. This is an evangelisation evening of prayer, catechesis, testimony and adoration. I spent most of the evening hearing confessions and was not at all surprised by the numbers of young people who were there. This monthly event is hosted by the Emmanuel Community and offers a concrete basis for being a part of the Church and encountering Christ.

The hottest place on earth

Well, that's what the pundits said but I imagine there are places that are hotter still. We had 45C on Campus today and although one can't photograph temperature, I hope that you can feel the heat coming off this photo of Campion College today. It's quiet at present - we're in the middle of the summer holiday season - and the Campus is bestilled by the heat. Thank goodness for the airconditioning which changes life so much at these temperatures.
Today, being my birthday, I remember, as I always do on this day, the judicial murder of Mary Queen of Scots, which took place on this day in 1586; an event which changed the course of history and helped especially to lay the foundations for the myth of England which the whole world has had to breath since then - about an ethos and a way of looking at things which claims a certain superiority. A couple of years ago I was out and about in deeply rural Lincolnshire and walked into the ancient village church of Glentworth. There I encountered the tomb of Sir Christopher Wray (pictured), the judge who had prepared the death warrant of the Catholic Queen of Scotland. I'm not pointing a fingure at him particularly - it was the decision of Elizabeth I to execute Mary. I was surprised however on that day to discover this remnant of history tucked away in Lincolnshire, but I am not surprised that the "Elizabethan Settlement" is taking such a long time to disintegrate.

Thursday 5 February 2009

Are you going to finish strong?

I don't know if this Aussie guy has faith, but he moves hearts and maybe is a powerful instrument of grace also: