Monday 31 May 2010

Emerging from the dark side

I wonder if today we have really emerged from the Industrial Revolution. Yes, the depressing landscape of dark mills has, for most people, disappeared; our cities have been largely refurbished and we speak about a post-industrial age. Yet, the vital signs today, in my estimation, show that we have not emerged properly, or at all, from that era in which our humanity became obscured by technology and in which hope in God was exchanged for hope in human production.
Today human production no longer refers to what our factories can turn out, but rather a new embracing of the Enlightenment's claim that all things, even our knowledge of the things of God, are dependent upon ourselves.
Having recovered not just from one World War, but two, what we have seen take place in the West has not been a real nurturing of human life, but rather an embracing of the hopelessness that is a consequence of the Industrial Revolution; that we are on our own, that there is no God, and that darkness is at hand. The name we give to this is "secularisation", a phenomenon which represents an inability on the part of society, to emerge from the Industrial Revolution.
We experience this today, as I have said before, in the fundamental benchmark of humanity - that is, can we, or can we not, decide who dies? We have taken this decision to ourselves in Abortion and Euthanasia.
We experience it in choosing human autonomy above and beyond what we are given by God. We see this especially in our false, dehumanising, national and international economies.
We experience it in choosing a loss of human dignity and identity rather than by building that dignity and identity through openness to God. We see this in the way we dress and in the confusion of roles.
We experience it in the way we hand over our children to the new mills of state education systems, relinquishing essential and organic elements of human life, that is to say, childhood and parenthood.
You will, no doubt, be able to add to this list. But my question is, why? Why have we not been able to emerge from a dark era in human history? Why have we not been able to place our hope in Christ? And, perhaps most worrying of all, why has the Church been so slow to respond to the call to a new evangelisation - she who is called to be and give light?

Sunday 30 May 2010

Dunkirk to expense claims

What has happened to Britain since the War? Dunkirk - virtue and nobility. The new government - a Minister claims expenses on behalf of his lover and the resigns. At Dunkirk the British showed themselves at their very best in modern times; nearly seventy years on and the signs are not so good. Indeed, Britain's contemporary liberal society and its parliament is going nowhere. We have totally misplaced our hope, and our new Government reveals the bewilderment of a society which cannot see the truth. At the heart of this lies the stark fact that while ever the claim can be made that we can decide who can be killed, which we do in the Abortion Law, we will not be able to attain that progress which the British Expeditionary Force, in 1940, faught and died for.

Wednesday 26 May 2010

Sorry, more views!

Before I came out to Australia just after World Youth Day, I remember seeing photos which young pilgrims had put on the internet, and remarking on how beautiful the coastline of New South Wales looked. Recently, I made a trip south out of Sydney to a region of what is called the South Coast and experienced first hand the pristine beauty of the coastline; gracious and undeveloped. And, one morning, for the first time, I watched the sun rise over the Pacific horizon. What a wonderful part of the world this is!
The first two photos here were taken on Jervis Bay, and the third shows Kiama's 'blowhole'.

Sunday 23 May 2010

The heart of the College

A few posts ago I said that the heart of Campion College was the celebration of Mass; and so it is. But not simply in the sense that we have the celebration of Mass every day, at a time in the day when nothing else is scheduled. No, it is also the heart of the College in the sense that as a community and as individuals we are being formed in the very core of our being - our relationship with Christ.
In the Mass Christ and the Church come together; it is the high point of the Christian life. His love is revealed, expressed and given in a tangible, sacramental but real way. The Mass is the moment when the movements of Christ's heart, his inner life, are experienced by the Church. At the same time, we who are present at the celebration of the Paschal Mystery, at this 'exposure' to Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, are being formed in our affective, heart-felt, response to the gift of Christ's love. This takes place, above all, when we receive our Eucharistic Lord into that place in ourselves which we open to Him - our hearts.
Being able to respond to Christ's love means that a person is already different, that he or she has and is being transformed by grace. Such a person, such a community, is living in a new way. A community and a person who loves God, is in a totally different position as they approach the rest of their life, and all their activities are marked by grace.
We at Campion College, although aware of our human frailty, endeavour to offer our sinful human nature to Christ in the Mass, in which we know that our hearts can be engaged by the power of Divine love. The platform which we seek to base our studies on, is that we might have Eucharistic hearts.

Saturday 22 May 2010

B16 - a witness to the Priesthood.

I wonder if you have seen the prayer of entrustment and consecration of Priests to the Immaculate Heart of Mary made by Pope Benedict at Fátima, Wednesday, 12 May 2010; he expresses here the truth about the Priesthood and offers all priests to God through Her heart.

"Immaculate Mother, in this place of grace, called together by the love of your Son Jesus the Eternal High Priest, we, sons in the Son and his priests, consecrate ourselves to your maternal Heart, in order to carry out faithfully the Father’s Will.
We are mindful that, without Jesus, we can do nothing good and that only through him, with him and in him, will we be instruments of salvation for the world.
Spouse of the Holy Spirit, obtain for us the inestimable gift of transformation in Christ. Through the same power of the Spirit that overshadowed you, making you the Mother of the Saviour, help us to bring Christ your Son to birth in ourselves too. May the Church be thus renewed by priests who are holy, priests transfigured by the grace of him who makes all things new.
Mother of Mercy, it was your Son Jesus who called us to become like him: light of the world and salt of the earth.
Help us, through your powerful intercession, never to fall short of this sublime vocation, nor to give way to our selfishness, to the allurements of the world and to the wiles of the Evil One.
Preserve us with your purity, guard us with your humility and enfold us with your maternal love that is reflected in so many souls consecrated to you, who have become for us true spiritual mothers.
Mother of the Church,we priests want to be pastors who do not feed themselves but rather give themselves to God for their brethren, finding their happiness in this. Not only with words, but with our lives, we want to repeat humbly, day after day, our “here I am”.
Guided by you, we want to be Apostles of Divine Mercy, glad to celebrate every day the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar and to offer to those who request it the sacrament of Reconciliation.
Advocate and Mediatrix of grace, you who are fully immersed in the one universal mediation of Christ, invoke upon us, from God, a heart completely renewed that loves God with all its strength and serves mankind as you did.
Repeat to the Lord your efficacious word: “They have no wine”,so that the Father and the Son will send upon us a new outpouring ofthe Holy Spirit. Full of wonder and gratitude at your continuing presence in our midst, in the name of all priests I too want to cry out: “Why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”
Our Mother for all time, do not tire of visiting us, consoling us, sustaining us. Come to our aid and deliver us from every danger that threatens us. With this act of entrustment and consecration, we wish to welcome you more deeply, more radically, for ever and totally into our human and priestly lives.
Let your presence cause new blooms to burst forth in the desert of our loneliness, let it cause the sun to shine on our darkness, let it restore calm after the tempest, so that all mankind shall see the salvation of the Lord, who has the name and the face of Jesus, who is reflected in our hearts, for ever united to yours!


Friday 21 May 2010

I'm a podfather at last!

My first Podcast now streaming on

Led by the Spirit

When I was a student in the very early 80's the question of being a student of Biology who happened to be a Catholic was something that really did come into focus. As a student of Biology I was part of quite a large and varied group of similarly aged young people. As a Catholic I was, by and large, on my own in that group. Yet, I saw both these dimensions of my life as important and endeavoured to fully embrace both. It was a rich mix and, ultimately, a vocation was discerned and I quietly left Biology behind for seminary formation in Spain.
For most students, whether Catholic, Christian, other faith or none, the University or College offers an intellectual pursuit whose context is broadly secular. Only a minority of Colleges offer a context for study in which the intellectual pursuit is set within the context of the deep foundation of the person in his or her dignity.
Campion College espouses the Catholic vision of formation; a project of integral formation of the person, who ultimately (and immediately) is led by the Spirit. A person is someone who acknowledges that he or she is in God's hands.
Being a student of the Liberal Arts here at Campion does not simply mean that a range of "classical" studies are followed, but that the call to enter into a deeper relationship with Christ, who has a mission to the world and to the Universe, is also acknowledged and engaged in. This is the essential ingredient of the being of a Catholic student.
At Campion College this ingredient is expressed in a rich variety of ways. First, students and staff share their time and their lives, at meals, in conversation, in discourse and in leisure. Secondly, whilst studying we are also at prayer; this is a College at prayer. Not during lectures of course, but communally and individually, we seek Christ's company. Thirdly, the schedule of the College's day, week and semester allows for a rich engagement of the College community with life, through study, friendship and the many opportunities for reflection.
The heart of the College's life is the celebration of the Liturgy. There are periods of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and there exists a level of Christian sharing and of witness to Christ, both on and off the campus, which enables us to make a sincere offering of ourselves to God during this privotal period in our lives.
Being led by the Spirit; knowing that you/we are in God's hands and that He is actively building up our lives, is the very greatest way of embracing student life. How great Catholic learning is, and how great it is to embrace this vocation during the few years that a person is able to engage with it.

Monday 17 May 2010

Gaps and transitions

The original Pentecost novena was, for the Apostles, absolutely a period of withdrawal from the world, and a period of preparation and transition to a new way of living. The Apostles were hidden in the Upper Room for ten days before embracing publicly their mission under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
There is a sense in the life of every student that their studies offer them a period of separation, preparation and transition, away from the usual demands of life, and in order that they can be better prepared to contribute to the life of the world after they graduate.
Today, gap years offer recourse to some young people before University, who sense that they are not yet ready for such a period of preparation. Others sense the need for a gap year after University in order to fill out and complete that period of preparation and transition. And of course, as we know, there are some who, even then, do not feel ready to embrace a concrete role in life.
At Campion College, this sense of embracing a period of separation, preparation, and transition marks the whole ethos of the life of the College. The content and format of the study program, its relationship to the maturing of the personality and to the emerging adult Christian life of the students, enables Campion College students to really engage in a formative way with this era in their lives.
At the beginning of his Encyclical Letter "Fides et Ratio", Pope John Paul II spoke of how "the admonition Know yourself was carved on the temple portal at Delphi, as testimony to a basic truth to be adopted as minimal norm by those who seek to set themselves apart from the rest of creation as 'human beings', that is as those who 'know themselves'."
Our students at Campion are preparing themselves, during this rich 'interlude' in their lives, to become mature men and women, mature Christian men and women; Christian men and women who can enter into secular society as bridges to Christ, agents of Christ and of Christian living in a secular and often pagan milieu.
The life and the study of Campion College students, who enter into the three-year degree period of intellectual, spiritual and personal growth and formation, is a rich antidote to much of what contemporary culture impedes: knowledge of self and knowledge of Christ. These are the foundations of life.

Sunday 16 May 2010

Here's one I made earlier

I love Spaghetti Vongole and, although I don't usually take photographs of my cooking, these shapes and colours were so unusual that I had to get of record of them.

Tuesday 11 May 2010

The anchor

I was struck recently by some words spoken by an Australian Bishop, Bishop Brady, who pin-pointing the very heart of human life and culture, counselled that we should hold fast to the two tables - the family table and the Table of the Lord; if we jetison these then we lose the heart and soul of our civilisation. The family meal and the Mass are the two necessary ingredients of life, now as always.

Tuesday 4 May 2010

A long-awaited publication

It is great news that the Holy See has approved the New Translation of the Altar Missal and that the process for catechesis about the Mass can now begin. I have already been introduced to the new Collects - the Opening, Offertory and Post-Communion Prayers, and look forward to being able to pray them in place of the current prayers. The new translations are so much richer, expressing very manifestly what is taking place in the Mass. I have a certain feeling that our congregations have lost the sense of prayer in the Mass; after all, the current prayers are so banal. The new translations however, express that which we seem to have forgotten: the action of Christ in the Eucharist and in us. To my mind, they are prayers which of themselves point to the fullness of the Christian life. They are the prayers of true Catholic spirituality - prayers that you want to enter into and live from.
Speaking about the current translation of such words as "fac", "concede", "da" and "presta", Archbishop Coleridge of Canberra says this:
In the translations we have known, these words are almost always translated as “help”, when in fact what they mean is “make”, “enable’, “grant”. This tends to foster a semi-Pelagian sense that God helps us to a certain point and then we ourselves take over. It’s like teaching a child to ride a bike: you hold on to the bike till you think the child has found his or her balance and then you let go as the child rides off into the future. But that’s never how it is with God and us. If ever God let go of the bike, there would be no bike.
God doesn’t just help us; God enables us to do what is necessary for life, makes us do it, grants that we do it. In that sense, we never reach a point where we are not totally dependent on God. This is what the Church believes and teaches about grace; and that is not trivial. It is at the very heart of the Gospel.

A multi-media resource, "Become one Body, one Spirit in Christ", has been produced to help lead a process of understanding and renewal before and as the new Missal is implemented. I have experienced some of what this DVD contains; it should enable an extraordinary period of renewal and reflection in the Church upon the Mass as the central focus of our lives. This is, of course, something which should have happened forty years ago. The sooner this magnificent resource is made available, the sooner we will have this tremendous new Missal on our altars.

Saturday 1 May 2010

The Parish, the Nation, the World

My experience of Diocesan newspapers is variable. Some of half-decent, but the ones I am most familiar with are mealy-mouthed, neo-pelagian and sychophantic. Now, what I have to say here is already widely known and praised by many.
The weekly newspaper (52 editions per year) of the Archdiocese of Perth in Western Australia, "The Record", stands out as a magnificent arm of the Catholic Media. Its style and format is very, very well presented. Its content is up-front and Catholic, informative and formative; it expresses the Church and her life. It is a source of comment and teaching which is supportive of the Church and her mission today, and it would represent an attractive invitation to any who are discerning the Christian life for themselves. The Editor, Peter Rosengren, and his staff are to be commended; they are genuinely taking part in the Mission of the Church today.
You can visit the paper's website at