Tuesday 22 March 2016

The faith of men.

I like the film "Risen", particularly because it enters into the reality of masculine faith. The encounter with the death and Resurrection of Jesus by the Tribune Clavius, played by Joseph Fiennes, presents a realistic and timely version of how men are called to become men of faith.
In the encounter with the Mystery of Christ, the film expresses really well those first uncertain steps when a man seek to rationalise and manage the situation, the struggle to respond in a mature and responsible way whilst not understanding, and the acceptance of a new way of living. Above all, it is the inner transformation of the man which "Risen" explores. We see the hard-working Clavius exercising his profession and authority diligently and prudently, with hopes of a more assured and peaceful future, only to see him achieving those hopes, not through blood and sweat but through the gift of another. His transformation becomes tangible in his personal contact with the Risen Christ. For me, the best scene is when he climbs to sit by Jesus who, at night time, is awake in prayer to his Father. Clavius readily acknowledges his faltering heart to Jesus; he doesn't know how to approach Jesus, nor what to say to him, and yet his joy and wonder at sitting beside Jesus confirms his inner conviction of faith.
This is a film about discipleship that should move most men in some way, as it traces the outlines of the same journey which all disciples of the Lord have made. Although the film ends with Clavius as a lone pilgrim setting out in his Christian life, I would have preferred to see him setting out with a group of disciples, as a part of the Church and sharing the same mission. Nonetheless, the film ends with us knowing that Clavius has been transformed, changed, in his whole person, and that that change was the work of Jesus, and that what matters most is what Jesus does, and not all the other stuff which human beings who are not connected with Jesus do. 
If you're a man - go and enjoy this film!

Monday 7 March 2016

The Coxhoe Four.

Four young men were arrested at this village and condemned to death. We can't forget them.
Coxhoe is a village in County Durham about six miles south east of the city of Durham. One mile east of the present village is the site of old Coxhoe. The above photo shows the site of Coxhoe Hall, which was demolished in the 1950's. Most likely, somewhere near this place these four young men, Edmund Duke, Richard Hill, John Hogg and Richard Holiday, were arrested in the spring of 1590. Edmund was twenty-seven years old, the others were all twenty five years old. They had arrived from the continent only a few days earlier, disembarking at South Shields.
They were all Catholic priests and, having not found the friends they had expected to meet at South Shields, they were heading south for Yorkshire. Having been arrested they were taken to Durham, tried and condemned to be hung, drawn and quartered. Their execution took place at Dryburn, just north of the city of Durham on 27th May 1590.
I visited Coxhoe recently, both the new village and the site of the old, and as I stood looking south over the site of the old hall to the site of the old village just below, I was overwhelmed by the thought of the character of the these four young men who, not having yet been able to exercise their priesthood in this country, were so willing to give up any part in society, even a society that rejected them, in favour of the most complete exercise of their priesthood. 
The Coxhoe Four were all beatified by Pope John Paul II on 22nd November 1987.
Blessed Edmund, Richard, John and Richard, we humbly seek your prayers.

Wednesday 2 March 2016

Not a one man job.

At the start of the year I was just moving one of Satan's tabernacles when my grasp slipped and it rolled over onto my foot. Well, I was limping badly for a few weeks while my toes recovered their usual stance. 
Moving a large set, like the one I had hanging around, really is a two-man job.