Thursday 27 March 2014

Soldier to Saint.

Yesterday evening I went to see the Leeds performance of Rise Theatre's production of Soldier to Saint. The play is set in 2020 and is based upon what we know of the life of St Alban. Alban was martyred in the year 140 just outside the Roman town of Verulamium for sheltering a priest.
The Rise Theatre production captured the very heart of the drama in which St Alban was entangled: loyalty to Christ in the face of the prevailing culture. The Rise Theatre group portrayed this drama without any dumming down, and showed the human context within which the Christian personality is formed and established. It was a tremendous portrayal by this company of three.
If you are able to see any of their performances in other cities in the land I warmly recommend this play and this performing company to you. As someone who comes from St Albans, I was very pleased to see, for the first time, a dramatisation of the life of this saint, our protomartyr. For more info. visit 

Friday 21 March 2014

St John Vianney and Confession.

St John Vianney sometimes delayed giving absolution to a penitent, asking that he or she remain some days in his village after which he would give the absolution. He did this not to hold control over the person, but so that the person's heart could grow during those days and so be more able to receive the grace of mercy which God desired for that person. This is one of the ways in which St John Vianney insisted on the goodness of God; that human nature, not God, is called to change, precisely because God is all good at all times.
So often we can respond to our own sinfulness by a feeling of unworthiness, an attitude which closes us off somewhat from the goodness of God. In fact, because God is overwhelming in his mercy to us, my attitude should really be to seek to make reparation to his tremendous love for me.
St John Vianney's own life had been turned upside down, and then modelled upon God's mercy, so that he, as a priest, became a conduit of divine mercy to others. God's mercy is the focus and centre of human life and it is the Confessional that enables all of us to be established upon this true foundation. 

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Theology of the Body for men.

Tomorrow, Wednesday 19th March, following the 7pm Mass of the Solemnity of St Joseph, I am giving a session on what the Theology of the Body says about masculinity. This will take place in the Upper Room at St Ignatius' Church, Ossett, WF5 0DQ. at about 7.40pm. For men only.

Monday 17 March 2014

Insisting on the goodness of God.

St John Vianney's kitchen in his presbytery in Ars is a great sight for any pilgrim to the Cure's village. Here he was sustained in his apostolic mission to his parish. Nonetheless, being faithful to Christ made him a contradiction to the world. His attitude to life - that his life and ministry were united in the Heart of Jesus meant that, in spite of being  aware of his own fragility, he endeavoured never to be discourages by that same fragility - he insisted on the goodness of God.
There is much in the life of the world and in our own lives that seems to say that Jesus is not the Lord of history, yet every baptised person, and especially every priest, is the first beneficiary of the love of Jesus.
The image of the Cure's kitchen, which is, in a sense, a Lenten image, expresses a tremendous spiritual truth - one which St John Vianney lived so manifestly: yes, we are fragile and sinful, but these are the very things to offer to God because God is wholly good, and we should rely on Him for everything, rather than relying on ourselves.
St John Vianney suffered for insisting on the goodness of God, yet he was free for God's love.
St John Vianney is a great mentor for our Lenten journey, for there is so much today that leads us either into self-reliance or into a hopeless defeatism. No, what will really help us is a personal experience of the love of Christ, and it that which we should stake all on.

Monday 10 March 2014

New website.

Yesterday we launched a new website in my parish, St Igantius' in Ossett and Horbury. We offer this site to Christ for His mission in and through the parish. The site is in the form of a Blog; it's early days yet, but we hope that the site will develop and become a platform for the new evangelisation in this area. Visit takenupingrace.

Sunday 9 March 2014

TOB Intro.

This Wednesday, 12th April, I am giving the first of three presentations of the Theology of the Body in the parish centre. It begins at 7.30pm and will last for about 45 mins. This session will introduce John Paul II's great vision of human personhood. All are welcome to St ignatius' parish for this evening event; WF5 0DQ.

Friday 7 March 2014

His desire to strengthen.

In my new parish I am about to begin, for the first time here, a time of catechesis for the sacrament of Confirmation. I have been looking at some resources which have been made by another priest of the Leeds Diocese, and have been struck by the beauty of this sacrament.
Confirmation represents the desire of Christ Jesus himself to give this anointing in addition to the grace of Baptism. Christ desires that his followers should have the fullness of the gift of his life.
So, as Confirmation builds upon the grace of Baptism, we can see what the nature of this sacrament is: it is the fullness of the gift of the Holy Spirit for taking one's place within the Church, that is, being able to use one's life for God. And it is the fullness of the gift of the Holy Spirit for evangelisation, that is, for being able to bring new life into the Church.
In a sense, the sacrament of Confirmation represents a new evangelisation of the person being confirmed, and a new awareness within the Church of Christ's desire to transform the reality of human life by letting it come into contact with, and share in, his glorified humanity.

Tuesday 4 March 2014

Memories of Buckfast.

The South Devon Abbey built upon the foundations of its mediaeval Cistercian predecessor and modelled on the architecture of the ruins of Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds, is emerging into the New Evangelisation under the leadership of its Abbot.
I have very happy memories of Buckfast Abbey from my five, week-long, visits there in the 1980s. In beginning to discern a vocation, I stayed in the guest house of the Abbey in 1980 and immediately fell in love with it - I was completely entranced by the place. I returned the following year and stayed for the whole of Holy Week, taking part in the beautiful Easter Liturgies. These years were tremendously formative of my vocation, which I came to realise lay not in a monastic community but in priestly life and apostolate. I am grateful to the monks who I got to know during those visits and who spent time conversing with me, Abbot Placid, Dom Joseph, Dom Sebastian, Dom Stephen, Dom Francis. I returned twice more as a seminarian and again as a newly ordained priest.
My last visit was a flying one: having arrived back from Spain in the year 2000 after my two years of study in Valencia, disembarking from the ferry in Plymouth, I drove straight to Buckfast to pray in the Abbey Church at the shrine of Our Lady of Buckfast, and to give thanks for my newly achieved Licentiate and my safe return.
May Our Lady of Buckfast be a great light to the newly developing apostolate of the School of the Annunciation: may many new-comers be formed by the grace of this beautiful Abbey and its school, and may the Benedictine community receive new vocations, nurtured by Her hand.