Tuesday 30 March 2010

What would Mary wear?

Recently I joined the new Facebook group "What would Mary wear" and I support the new blog www.wwmaryw.blogspot.com becuase they are addressing a foundational element of civilisation - the garb of women. Today, there is an urgent need to take ground from the secular vision which is the current basis for women's clothes, a culture and its accompanying vision for education which has failed women so badly. When I was studying in Valencia, Spain, ten years ago, I was aware that just about all young women from about 13 to 25 years dressed as though clones of a most inappropriate model. The need for a whole new sense of women's garb is much overdue but, I suspect that it will be a renaissance of Christian life rather than a new genre of designers, who will enable women to regain their dignity and femininity through clothing - this is a real need today. It is the spiritual which needs to be given form.

Sunday 28 March 2010

Staying up late

I'm surprised that no one has commented ever on the time which my postings are made; some of them seem to have been posted in the middle of the night. Actually, I keep my laptop registered on UK time so that I have a UK clock close at hand. My blog postings, made on my laptop and uploaded in Oz, are not then given local time, but UK time.
Another mystery solved.

The full version

What did Christ most criticise? False religion. An example of this was when one of the scribes revealed that he couldn't honour his parents because the money he had was corban - in some way contaminated. Jesus immediately reveals the inadequacy of this scribe's religion. A deformed view of humanity means an impoverished relationship with God. Honouring God begins with honouring humanity.
The Church has embraced a full and truthful vision of humanity since Pentecost becuase she knows that God intends a totally complete and free humanity for every person. The secular vision of human life is somewhat different, based upon a partial vision of the person and changing social trends. It is this vision which has become particularly strong in this era, so strong that it actively challenges and attacks the Christian vision fo humanity. The sexual revolution, which was well underway in the 1950's, lies at the heart of the secular vision today and has been so deformative of humanity for at least half a century.
Why is it so unacceptable that this deformed humanity has entered into the Church? Becuase so many children have been abused, yes, and because it is the Church and not secularism which is the hinge of humanity's real development. How keen then was the request for renewal which entered into the Church at the Second Vatican Council, and how profound is the Church's need for renewal at a human level. Priests, religious and all baptsied people are called to be fully human - to know their humanity, to know who they are and to be free.
With hindsight we can see how inadequate was the veneer of Catholicism of so many in the past. And today, how inadequate is the response of liberal Catholics who offer nothing more than bare-faced Pelagianism, or the response of those Catholics who promote an empty orthodoxy - orthodoxy for orthodoxy's sake without it helping anyone. No, today's signs shout out that the renewal we have been asked to engage in must start with the renewal of Christians as human beings. The Church is called to form her members in their humanity. It is only as human beings that we can really engage with the Gospel, making it a living reality in our lives and then in the life of the world.

Wednesday 24 March 2010

Without God we are nothing

Earlier this month, 11th March, a public debate took place at Macquarie University in Sydney upon the statement "Without God we are nothing". Cardinal Pell spoke for the affirmative and Dan Barker for the negative. The debate was the first of its kind, theist versus atheist, that I have ever heard.

Cardinal Pell defended the clause speaking about the reasonableness of Faith; how the Universe does not find meaning in itself, and how spiritual values, found in the human person, cannot be reduced to matter but point to a source, who is God, a loving Creator. His defence was rational and non-aggressive.

Dan Barker used epistemology and logic to try to undermine the theist position, attempting to defend a negative hypothesis with clever answers. His proposal involved some thinly-veiled vitreol against the Catholic Church, an unusual claim that Hitler was a Catholic throughout his life (albeit a bad Catholic during some of it), and a scathing personal attack on Mother Teresa.

Now, although I am biased towards Cardinal Pell and what he said, I do think that this public debate was a good thing precisely because it brings both the discussion and reason to the fore. It shows us something of where this argument is today and the need we have to inform (and form) ourselves. I would be interested to know what happened in Dan Barker's life that changed him from being an evangelical preacher to become an outspoken defender of atheism.

The audio files of the debate can be downloaded from www.xt3.com and the video can be downloaded from the Macquarie University website.

Incidentally, rather like myself, http://www.xt3.com/ is no longer operating out of West Yorkshire, but out of Sydney. It is now owned by the Archdiocese.

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Scene II, Act II.

Plans for The Sydney Congress of the New Evangelisation 2010 (Scene 2) are underway. Last year saw the first Scene, and the first Congress of its kind in the Church - a city-based Congress of the New Evangelisation. The second will take place in the heart of Sydney's CBD, 12th - 16th July 2010. The Church in Sydney is on the move.

Visit the website at www.scene.org.au

Sunday 21 March 2010

Images from the heart of the Church

The Forty Days for Life team in Sydney have produced this very evocative video which expresses something of the spiritual power which so many are investing in the defence of human life at this time. The Vigil continues now for just one more week. Please support it with your prayer.

The Benedictine altar at Campion

On the feast of St Joseph we inaugurated the Benedictine altar arrangement at Campion College with a new altar crucifix and candlesticks. The Mass began with the rite of blessing for these furnishings which were bought through our Sydney suppliers, Sarks, from Luis Molina Acedo of Madrid.
The crucifix placed in the centre of the altar means that when the priest approaches the altar he is definitely approaching an altar and not merely a table. The Holy Father has asked every parish church in the world to place a crucifix on the altar - a part of the "reform of the reform" which he is helping to engender within the Church. And here at Campion we are trying to respond.
One could ask: why was the crucifix ever taken off the altar? I imagine that it was because of the over emphasis, in recent decades, on the Mass as a meal. And indeed there is a meal in the Mass, but it is a meal which flows out of the sacrifice. Without the sacrifice there would be no Mass at all.
I think that the "new" arrangement indicated by Pope Benedict isn't best termed a Bendictine altar, but simply a Catholic altar.

Wednesday 17 March 2010

Free and faithful

The recent Campion College Retreat was a true high-point in the College year; a way of asking God to fill us with grace as we begin our academic studies. We expressed in our demeanour during the retreat and by our happiness, what it is to be free and faithful in Christ. What it means to be Christian men and women today, open to God and open to one another. This retreat was just the beginning of a process of human and Christian maturity - that it is in seeking to live the Christian life at the heart of the Church that we are building the Catholic identity of Campion College.

During Sydney World Youth Day the Holy Father said that "the grace of the Spirit is not something we can merit or achieve, but only receive as a pure gift. God's love can only unleash its power when it is allowed to change us from within. We have to let it break through the hard crust of our indifference, our spiritual weariness, our blind conformity to the spirit of this age. Only then can we let it ignite our imagination and shape our deepest desires."

As chaplain to the College, I do believe that the Holy Father's words took real shape for us during the retreat, and that Christ's company during those days has lead us all to know that building our relationship with Him is our greatest and truest challenge. A challenge that will lead us to make Campion College a seed-bed of the life of the Church, and for each one of us to desire to make a truly human contribution to the world in which we live. But we ask for that gift of the Spirit to continue to make our lives and our studies bear fruit for God. That "power", the Holy Father said, "which the Holy Spirit is even now prepared to release within [us]."

Sunday 14 March 2010

Growing in wisdom and stature

Having led the annual retreat for the Sydney seminarians a few weeks ago, I was engaged this past weekend in a three night retreat for Campion College students. The retreat, entitled "Growing in wisdom and stature", took place at the Schoenstatt Shrine just outside Sydney in the foothills of the Blue Mountains.The setting was ideal for our group; all thirty-four of us were able to take part in Mass and different Hours of the Prayer of the Church in the tiny shrine chapel. And at night we found our way to adoration by torchlight. We had some marvellous input from the Nashville Dominican Sisters on the Spiritual Life, and from Fr Bernard Gordon on the place and meaning of the emotions in our lives. There was lots of time and space for recollection and for high jinks too (near the Nepean Gorge). And there was lots of hearty home-cooking too - a very important element of a retreat! We have returned to the College envigorated, inspired and enlightened. May the grace of this retreat be a real corner-stone in our building of the new civilisation.

Wednesday 10 March 2010

40 days for Life

This Lent in Sydney many are taking part in a 24hr a day, 40 day vigil outside an Abortion Clinic (on the ground floor in the photo) in the centre of Sydney, an initiative which shows how closely bound together is the new evangelisation and the recognition of the sanctity of human life. The grace of this Lent is being focussed here by Catholics for the building of a new culture. In fact, the 40 days for Life vigil is at the cutting edge of building civilisation. Many will one day be so grateful for this initiative and its vision.
You can join your prayers to this Vigil which is taking place throughout the day and night, and comes to an end late on Palm Sunday.

Tuesday 9 March 2010

A new Benedict for a new dark age

In November the Holy Father will consecrate the Holy Family Church in Barcelona, one of the most famous Churches in Europe, known predominantly for its architecture and its architect -Antoni Gaudi. This gesture comes at a time when Spain, led by its government, has built a terrible anti-life and anti-family culture. The Sagrada Familia Church will be a beautiful sign of true civilisation, built upon virtue and God's plan, and a shrine to the Holy Family

In England we have long had a shrine for the family: the Holy House of Nazareth in Walsingham. Our shrine is very low key at present, but perhaps the Holy Father will help us and our pastors, when he comes to the UK in September, to see Our Lady's shrine anew as a place of great light for the family in the darkness of England's present culture.
(Acknowledgements to http://www.mercatornet.net/ for the title of this post.)

Saturday 6 March 2010

Fit for a King

We began the new year at Campion College with the return of the College's monstrance, newly refurbished. It had been in a very poor state and used for many years but, through Sarks Bros of Sydney, was sent to Luis Molina Acedo in Madrid to be refurbished. They did a magnificent job with it. Our regular periods of Exposition and Adoration have begun again at the heart of the College's life.

Thursday 4 March 2010

A new pastor

Yesterday evening Bishop Anthony Fisher OP was inaugurated as the third Bishop of Parramatta. The Mass of inuaguration was magnificent, if a little long. We entered Parramatta Cathedral at 7pm and were coming out about 10pm. Hundreds of priests concelebrated with a mighty contingent of the Australian Hierarchy and two Australian Cardinals (Pell and Cassidy). There were many State and political leaders present also.
The new Bishop preached beautifully declaring that his pastoral program is the Person of Jesus Christ. He vowed to defend the family and human life from conception to natural death. And he asked the young people to be his right hand men and women for the new evangelisation.
Parramatta Diocese which covers the whole of western Sydney and beyond has the largest proportion of Catholics of any Diocese in Australia (40%). It is also the youngest Diocese, demographically. A veritable springboard for a new evangelisation. We ask God to bless the new Bishop and his Diocese, that there would be a new flourishing of the Christian life here.