Thursday 29 April 2010

Light in the murk

In the wake of yesterday's feast of St Louis de Monfort, I would like to paste here one of the many hymns which he wrote. Actually, yesterday at Campion College we celebrated the other Memoria, that of St Peter Chanel, the martyr of Oceania whose mortal remains spent some time within our grounds, whilst beings translated from the island of Futuna to Rome for his Canonisation. The College and its grounds formally belonged to the Marist Fathers, of which St Peter Chanel was a member. A fine statue of St Peter in our grounds commemorates the fact that the mortal remians of this saint were once here.
I first encountered a part of St Louis de Monfort's Canticle to the Holy Spirit in 2001 whilst visiting a house of the Beatitudes Community in Normandy. I paste here the entire hymn. It is an extraordinary prayer and will do any who prays it more good than the whole media empire put together could begin to offer us. This is especially appropriate as we approach Pentecost. (The personal pronouns could be made into the plural.)
1. Come, Father of light,
come God of love,
create in me my prayer.
Show me the truth,
send into my soul
an ember of your fire,
to penetrate it with flame
and fill it with God.
2. Come, Holy Spirit, who creates
martyrs, confessors,
apostles, prophets,
great heroes, valiant hearts.
It is your unique way
that my Saviour has trod;
so that I may imitate him,
lead me as you led him.
3. You who work miracles
through powerless mortals,
You who utter oracles
through poor ignorant humans.
By the power of your grace
strengthen my languor;
to melt my coldness,
speak to the depths of my heart.
4. Distance me from what is in vogue,
from the well-travelled road,
this spector, so convenient
and so full of evil.
Teach me that path,
unknown to almost everyone,
which leads without doubt
straight to Heaven and to You.
5. I beg you, open my ears
to the words of faith,
to practice the marvels
of Your divine law;
to listen only to God himself
in every preacher;
and to cry anathema
against this deceitful world.
6. Speak, Your words are
what I seek night and day.
Speak, destroy the idols
that attack your love.
Speak, to proclaim victory
over all my enemies.
Speak, to acheive the glory
of having submitted them to us.
7. Speak, Holy Spirit, to create
a wellspring in my heart,
whose pure, healthful water
saves the greatest sinner,
heals the most incurable
by opening his eyes,
and pardons the most guilty
by springing up to Heaven.
8. More than the Magdalen,
than Lazarus in the tomb
and than the Samaritan woman,
I beg you for this water;
I want to drink it, I beg you for it,
I know it is a precious gift;
the greater this favour is,
the more you will be glorified.
9. Support my weakness,
I am a fragile reed.
Steady my faltering
I change more than the wind.
Dissipate my darkness,
I am as one born blind.
Calm my concupiscence
or I am damned.
10. Without You my soul is barren,
it is empty of any good.
Without You I hasten to my doom
and fall for a trifle.
I can neither think nor speak,
nor do any good deed for God,
unless to accomplish it
You sustain me everywhere.
11. Give me Your wisdom,
this taste for truth,
this charity which impels
without forcing the will.
This grace so fruitful,
this attraction so ravishing,
this profound, blessed peace
and this all-powerful aid.
12. If you wish me to cry
and that my heart be touched,
let me see now
the loathsomeness of my sin.
Reveal Yourself to me
and then I will love you,
convert me, dear Master,
and I will be converted.
13. You do not wish to compel
my evil will.
That is why I have everything to fear
from my own liberty.
The lure of your grace
I have too often resisted;
I give in, take over
with full authority.
14. Great God, make Yourself the Master
of my whole heart to love,
of my mind to know,
of my tongue to delight,
of my senses and power
to suffer and to act.
Of my possessions, of my pains
and of everything, that I may serve You.
15. Make a temple of my heart,
of my tongue, an instrument
to speak to all by example,
to speak eloquently
through Jesus and Mary.
Reign pwerfully in me
so that I may then glorify
God alone forever.
God alone!
16. O holy and faithful Virgin,
Spouse of the Holy Spirit,
change my rebellious heart
into a heart humble and contrite.
Give me a docile heart,
truly faithful to His voice,
to live the Gospel
in its counsels and its laws.

Monday 26 April 2010

Sawston Hall

I would be grateful if anyone could tell me about the current state of play with Sawston Hall near Cambridge. Has the Hall be sold yet? Is there a public campaign by Catholics to raise money and buy the Hall?

Sunday 25 April 2010

Images on location

Those familiar with Campion College will know how wonderful its campus is, but for those who are not familiar here are a few images, taken just after Easter. A lot of work has been put into developing and maintaining the campus grounds which provide a near-idyllic setting for the life and work of the College.

Friday 23 April 2010

At the heart

A few weeks ago I promised to put some photos on the Blog of our chapel at Campion College. The whole campus at Campion is a leafy peaceful oasis in the vast suburban spread of western Sydney, and the heart of the campus is our beautiful chapel where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved and where Mass is celebrated each day. It is not a large chapel, accomodating comfortably about seventy persons, so on some College occasions we have to set up an outdoor sanctuary. The chapel is particularly lovely for our weekly periods of Adoration and the beauitful organ at the rear of the chapel regularly accompanies the Campion Schola. The chapel is always open and you are very welcome to visit.

Tuesday 20 April 2010

Over the misty mountains

A number of years ago when, year by year, I went to see the three parts of "The Lord of Rings" as they were released, if someone had said to me then that I would visit some of the places where the film was made, I would have said that they were dreaming. Well, I have been to the plain near Twizel which was the "Pelennor Fields", to the river at Arrowtown which was the "Ford of Bruinen", and I have flown over the "Misty Mountains"! I'm sure that if NZ were nearer Europe it would be the No.1 outdoor holiday location. The food is lovely as are the Chardonnays and Pinots. The whole terrain is life-enhancing to an extraordinary degree. But one of the highlights of our week was a light aircraft flight from Queenstown, north over the mountains and glaciers, then swinging south over the west coast and flying into Milford Sound - NZ's famous fjord, there to take a cruise to the entrance to the fjord and back, before flying back over NZ's alps to Queenstown. Unforgetable! If you can get there, go to NZ. I, for one, would like to return.

Sunday 18 April 2010

Te Wai Pounamu

... or the south island of New Zealand, as it is better known, was our destination for a post-Easter break. Four priest companions, three from Sydney and myself, none of us having been to NZ before, formed a fellowship and flew into Christchurch and motored round some of the island for a week, finally flying back from Queenstown.
The south island is wonderful. My impressions from the plane as we came into land at Christchurch was of how similar it looked to England: fields, hedgerows, woods and hills - it was indeed very like the UK, but with an evident Scottish flavour. Below, NZ's highest peak, Mt Cook, seen from the bottom end of shimmering Lake Pukaki.

I include here some holiday snaps here; sadly they are all views, but actually, the scenery is outstanding. (With the photo of the sign post - note the top indication.)

Thursday 15 April 2010

The incarnation of all that is anti-spiritual

As a child, every Saturday morning on the way back from family shopping in Leeds, the bus would go past the BBC building on Woodhouse Lane. On its facade was this imposing coat of arms. The building was replaced a few years ago and this heraldic emblem is no longer there. But I used to wonder, as a child and young person, what was being acheived in the world through that proud proclamation - "Nation shall speak peace unto nation" - the logo of the BBC. What a great intention the media, or this part of it, was founded on. And yet is the media responsible for bringing about a new era of genuine human communication and fraternity? (Let me say that by "media" I mean the television, radio, the press and the internet.)
No, those words on the BBC shield do not represent the media or what it does.
The public media, through its rejection of God and seeking an enlightenment without Him, carries out a conversation on our behalf, at the level of an inane and often false interpretation of humanity. It is devoted to the ephemeral and rejects any sense of a hierarchy of values. It serves no social function but is an end in itself, and has nothing in common with genuine humanity (excepting an occasional good drama, sport, natural history footage less their patronising and ideologically based commentaries, announcements, the date and time, and crosswords). Like the Roman Empire of old, it is a vast, useless burden on the back of human society, which is now coming apart under the increasing strain.
Who are they now who have a genuine vision of life which is not conditioned by that of the public media? How many are they who call for a reformed and renewed media - one that can contribute to the the recovery of the greatness of man's place in the world, in his identity and in his mission? They are few and they are in our midst - they who speak, live and breath peace. They are the true lights of humanity, its genuine media - fathers, mothers, priests and religious, men and women who live for God and communicate with other human beings with love and truth, according to their dignity.

Monday 12 April 2010

The empire strikes back

The new empire of the secular media is presently unleasing its fury on the Church. Not surprising at all; the spirit of anti-Christ is always about looking for a worldly foothold which to use powerfully.

A brother priest recently said that he has "lost all trust in the veracity and objectivity of the media and I no longer refer to it for information of any kind. I will not allow its anti-Catholic bias to be the cause of a weakening of my faith in, or respect for, our Lord's 'one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church'".

I embrace these words totally. The secular media has gone rogue, but there are plenty of excellent places on the internet in which we can still find real information. More importantly, since the Church cannot be destroyed what is at stake here is evangelisation; the way in which the Church is now called to evangelise. It may seem that she has lost credibility, and yet it is the conversion of the new empire, the empire of the secular media which is at stake. It took the Church three hundred years of terrible persecution to bring about the conversion of the Roman Empire, how are we to apporach the conversion of the new empire?

Saturday 3 April 2010

Easter under the Southern Cross

I took part in the Holy Week ceremonies at St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney for the second time. Cardinal Pell celebrated the Liturgies which were beautiful. The Cathedral in Sydney is quite simply one of the finest Gothic Cathedrals that I know, and the Liturgy is celebrated so wonderfully here that I would describe it as one of the great centres of Christendom today. I attach photos here of the sanctuary taken just after the Vigil and first Mass of Easter which has just been celebrated. The beauty of the altar and sanctuary is a tribute to the Sacristan of the Cathedral.

While concelebrating the Mass I reflected on how great yet mysterious is the Providence of God which has brought me to the other side of the world and inserted me into the Church in Sydney, and how warmly I have been welcomed here. The celebration of the Paschal Mystery, these past days, with the Cardinal and many of his priests has been a tremendous experience and grace for me. A very happy Easter to you all.

Thursday 1 April 2010

A 1000 hours later

At the end of the "40 Days for Life" Vigil, and after almost a thousand hours of continual prayer outside Sydney's down-town Abortion Clinic, a get-together was held for the participants in one of Sydney's more convivial venues. After food and drink there were a number of speeches and presentations, including live performances of the two songs which were written for the Vigil, and which can be found on YouTube. Many priests had taken part in the Vigil, but as the only priest present at this celebartion I spoke about the strong bond which exists between Pro-life and the New Evangelisation, both embracing an openness to God's plan.
I also paid tribute to the students of Campion College who had taken part in the whole course of the Vigil, and who argueably had made such a great effort to do so because of the distance between Campion and the Clinic. Indeed, it is a great characteristic of the student body of Campion College that they are so Pro-life and so open to take part actively in pro-life initiatives in Sydney.