Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The sign we give

I was pleased last year to have a bad back and so on Holy Thursday I had already thought about not washing the feet during the Sacred Triduum, I hesitated because the choir had already prepared the music for it and the chant for it had been printed in the Mass booklets. When Pope Francis decided to disregard the Church's law and follow his own instincts, I decided to follow mine and not wash anyone's feet but instead leave the bowl and towel that we would have used on the sanctuary step and invite people to come forward and put money in the bowl for the poor whilst the Mandatum was sung, they were very generous.

Before I understood the meaning of the rite I was happy to wash anyone's feet, because like the Pope I understood it to be about serving others. The CDW of course explained that it was about Christ specifically caring for the Apostles, those gathered with him at the Eucharist, who he would that evening commission to celebrate Mass themselves by saying "Do this in memory of me", it was obvious I was wrong and had misled people. I have had several battles, as have many priests, to do what the Law requires us to do and wash only the feet of men.. If the Pope chooses to break the Law, that is a personal choice, he has the power as Pontiff to change it but he has chosen not to do so.

I think the media and dissidenr Catholics likes to present the Pope as a latter day Robin Hood, adapting the Law and customs  to suit himself, the problem is of course that it creates confusion for everyone else and weakens the sense of the Law for the rest of us. Law can of course be oppressive but in the Church it is meant to preserve justice and to protect the weak, and ensure the strong do not exceed their authority or pervert doctrine.

My mother used to speak of everyone in authority washing the feet of those subject to their authority before Easter in her Yugoslavian village; fathers would wash the feet of their families, masters and their servants, employers their employees, teachers the feet of the children they taught, army officers the feet of their soldiers, even partisan leaders would wash the feet of their communist comrades. After the Reformation in England the Sovereign continued to wash the feet of the poor until the 18th century, the "Royal Maundy" continues without the washing, with the Queen giving money to the poor. I would very much welcome Francis and indeed the whole Roman Curia going out into the streets of Rome with bowls, ewers and towels to wash the feet of poor and to distribute alms all day on Holy Thursday - what a wonderful sign.

Here, for a brief time I used wash the feet of 12 male rough sleepers at Mass and give them a small 'offering', they would come along just for that portion of the Mass and go. I think people thought it was rather wonderful, I began to think it was crass and more about me, than the liturgy or Christ. Christ's sign is not one about caring for the poor, or even those on the 'peripheries' of the Church, rather it is about caring for those at the heart of the Church, it ends the continued bickering amongst the disciples about who is the greatest.

There is something very intimate about the sign of the Bishop washing the feet of his beoloved priests, as there was something intimate about Christ washing his apostles feet. Peter, and presumably the others, was deeply embarrassed by it. It wasn't a public act but one behind closed doors, in the Upper Room. Judas after all is the one the disciples presume is being sent to give relief to the poor, the faithful Apostles remained with the Christ. Foot-washing is an ad intra sign at the heart of the Church. It was indeed a statement about power and relationships in the Church's government. In Rome especially where there is huge gap filled by various 'leperous courtiers', (Francis' words) between the Bishop of Rome and his diocesan clergy, how beautiful the sign of the Pope getting down on his knees to serve those who in theory are supposed to be his co-workers and closest collaborators. There are two signs that were given by Francis last year, the first was washing the feet of boys and girls, some of whom were not Christians, the second sign, which is equally powerful though not noticed by the more casual observer was deciding not to wash his priest's feet.

There is something significant about Jesus washing the feet of the twelve then going on the share the Passover with them. There is something very important that he takes this heavily prescribed Jewish ritual and changes it. I wonder whether using a ewe rather than ram would have invalidated the rite, presumably the Angel of death would have struck down the first born if the victim's sex broke with Tradition, for the Jews this of course wasn't an issue they simply did what was handed on.. Playing about with signs and symbols and there language within the context of religion is very dangerous, we simply don't know what can of worms we are opening up.

The signs we give are always multi-layered, signs go beyond words, the don't have a fixed meaning, often the sign intended is not the sign that is received, different people perceive signs in different ways. Last year Francis' footwashing was taken by the world as a great act of his personal humility, for others it was a sign of inclusivity, involving non-Christians and women in this rite. I am afraid for me and for many others, it was a sign of lawlessness at the heart of the Church, the Supreme Lawgiver of the Catholic Church acting lawlessly. It became a sign of how during the Franciscan Pontificate the law -and tradition- should be interpreted, the Mandatum is after all about law and power. The chant that accompanies it says, "I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you ...", this is a commandment laid not on everyone but only on Christ's followers, the Church.

The build up to the Synod on the Family is an obvious example of the breaking down of certainties, after the Kasper intervention at the Consistory it seems, to some, that the Church's teaching appears to be in a state of flux by those who are looking for signs. I was told of a man recently who for over two decades has been living heroically in a 'brother/sister' relationship with an equally heroic woman whose first marriage broke down after ten years, they tried to get an annulment which failed, since then they have done their best to live according to the teaching of the Church. The man having read the text of the Cardinal's speech asked, 'Father, have we wasted the last 22 years?' He said that he now felt his faith was undermined, that the struggle he and his 'wife' had engaged in was by the Cardinal's teaching meaningless and vainglorious and that it was endorsed by the Pope who hadn't given any clear sign that he upheld the teaching these two people were trying to live by. There are many men and women in this situation, the sacrifices they have made have been truly heroic, for me they are signs of grace and often heroic virtue, now it seems that they might well have wasted their lives, this is another of the signs that is being given.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Cru - ci - fy Him, cru - ci- fy Him

Fr Simon Henry has a post about participation, in which he says he chooses to read the shorter form of the Passion on Palm Sunday, I have been doing that for years, partly because if we didn't our Mass would over run and the Poles who have the next Mass slot will be arriving and waiting for Polish confessions and it just would not be fair. His reason is, "...rather than endure the miserable doling out of parts to various readers and the "crowd" voice to the slightly embarrassed congregation, with the attendant inconsequential mutterings of, "cru - ci - fy Him, cru - ci- fy Him" echoing underwhelmingly around the church.

Yes, I too hate the primary-schoolisation of adults, I really loathe that classroom thing some old priests have, of greeting with, 'Good morning everyone' to which the congregation like Class 2 replies "Good-morn-ning-Father", it is horrid, it is infantalising, it is secular, especially if it replaces the Christian greeting of "Dominus vobiscum", in whatever language.

But my real big hate, which has a very serious theological  basis, is I too hate the congregation crying, "Crucify him". It is obviously necessary for a deputed person to do it as it is the text of the Gospels but actually we aren't the baying mob, we are the Faithful who stand at the foot of the Cross, we are the Church, we stand alongside the Holy Women and St John. For all our sinfulness, we are the friends of Jesus, though maybe we behave like enemies, we are his costly-bought disciples.

I am glad Fr Henry's congregation mutters underwhelmingly, "cru - ci - fy Him, cru - ci- fy Him", it shows that his catechesis on the Mass and his people place at Mass has had a good  effect. It would be terrifying if they really did say these words with any enthusiasm.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A few thoughts on Evangelisation

A few thoughts on Evangelisation with SPES tramping the streets of my parish calling in the lost and the distanced.

Someone left a comment recently to the effect that ever since the Second Vatican Council we have been talking endlessly about evangelisation but in practice doing very little, in fact it could be said we have been 'counter evangelising', at least in the North we have lost far more than we have gained: empty churches, empty seminaries, empty convents are a testimony to our success.

On the eve of the Council ordination years of 60 plus were not uncommon in seminaries in Ireland, Holland, Belgium, even France, religious sister often had similar numbers of professions. The bitter truth is that seminaries and novitiates that trained these young men and women have now closed, Trads blame the changes brought in by the Council, liberals blame the changes not brought in after the Council, Conservatives blame 'sociological factors', though no-one seems to have done a serious study on what are these factors.

 Most Catholics, including priests and therefore one might also suggest bishops too, I would suggest are unconvinced about the need for Evangelisation, the notion of universal salvation, an empty Hell, have taken hold so tightly that there is no reason to Evangelise. It simply doesn't have a supernatural, salvific or teleological purpose. Universalism means that really evangelising people just ties burdens on people, alienating them from their culture and imposing unnecessary moral burdens on them.

A second not unconnected reason is that we do not know how to evangelise. We do not know what needs to be communicated. Do we actually dare to say that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life and without him no-one can know the Father? Are we not more likely to suggest that Evangelisation is about joining a hand-holding, feel good community, with few moral or faith demands. Our problem is that there is so much confusion about what Catholics actually believe and how Catholics are expected to live.

Despite Vatican II urging everyone to Evangelise; a very characteristic trend of pre-Concilliar spirituality seen in such movements as wide ranging as the Liturgical Movement, Opus Dei, the Legion of Mary, the Catholic Evidence Guild, not to mention such publications as the CTS the Tablet and the work many significant Catholic authors, Evangelisation has become like so many things in the Church an area of specialisation. Teachers or catechists not mothers and fathers are expected to evangelise children. The idea that a work of mercy incumbent on all to teach the ignorant has so slipped far from Catholic consciousness to the point where it seems many 'small group meetings', RCIA groups seem to be sharing and compounding rather than dispelling ignorance. Such discussion only serves to spread confusion.  As the previous Pope said to our own Bishops:
In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, it is important to recognise dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate. It is the truth revealed through Scripture and Tradition and articulated by the Church’s Magisterium that sets us free.

Evangelisation can only possibly work

  • if the members of the Church recognise the need to do it
  • if they are confident in doing it
  • if they know what message needs to be communicated
  • if there is no confusion about the message
  • if we have a leadership that actually practices it (rather than merely talks about it)
Ultimately it is possible only if we believe in it

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

From Soho to Brighton

Later today the six members of SPES St Patrick's Evangelisation School are arriving in Brighto to tramp the streets of my parish to invite people to come to the life changing Easter Mysteries.

We clergy talk a lot about Evangelisation, I often think its a bit of an excuse not to do it. It is the Sir Humphrey thing, "Yes Prime Minister, we'll set up a Royal Commission", which will talk and talk and produce a lot of paper, make people feel good but achieve nothing.

We are taking the Holy Father seriously and going out onto the streets -the peripheries- and to talking about God.

There are actually seven in the team, Fr Alexander's dog is coming down too (dog pictures to follow).

Pray for the SPES team, pray this little burst of evangelisation is fruitful, pray for my parish, pray for the people who SPES will talk to.

Somehow the Church needs to undergo a conversion from seeing itself as centred on offering Mass for those already safely inside the Church to offering baptism to those outside but then we need to be convinced by Jesus' words, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God". These words precede, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink".
Evangelisation leads to Baptism and Baptism leads to the Eucharist and eternal life - we need to be convinced that the ultimate act of charity is giving Jesus Christ, because no-one can come to the Father except through him.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Best thing I have read: Joe Shaw on Liberalism

Our faith is entirely rational, indeed it may be arrived at by reason but we cannot replace it with reason.

Some Russian General said or should have said, 'If you want to be victorious don't let you adversary choose the battlefield'. Joseph Shaw, in one of the best things I have read on the net, argues in a four part post that as Catholics we can't really engage liberals on the level of pure logic or pure reason and win, in part because we fundamentally disagree on the opening premise of what is 'good' and what is the 'end' of mankind.

He argues, as we have seen that liberalism grows and grows, ultimately it consumes itself in totalitarianism. What he seems to be writing about is the dethroning of God and the setting up of the State in God's place; an idol that all are forced to worship and obey. He blames social conservatives (but we could also add religious conservatives) who bit by bit concede to the liberal agenda.

Increasingly we will find that 'the liberals' want to destroy the Church and her teaching if they cannot remake her in their own image, we see this in nuns teaching the Catholic faith clearly in the US being met with howls of protest in the US, or others like a friend's wife here being spat upon for upholding on the television a view about the nature of marriage, which only a year or two ago would have been considered perfectly normal.

We can continue to compromise, admitting pro-abortion, pro-same sex politicians to Holy Communion, we can continue to allow the government to dictate how we teach Catholic morality in our schools but the time is no too far away when even the most eirenical of the senior clergy must realise that allowing Stonewall and other such groups, who in their fundamental understanding of the very nature of the human person, into our schools is simply not possible and is contradiction of all we hold dear. We are getting to stage where good bishops who seek to protect their sheep from persecution must concede that it is impossible to serve liberalism and God. Liberalism itself will not allow it, its nature is too prescriptive.

Dr Shaw indicates that the liberal agenda starts by talking of freedom but ultimately enslaves, as big government grows and 'for the good' of society tries to control every aspect of human existence the 'lie' of liberalism will emerge. I am left by his piece thinking that the 'useful idiots' the conservatives, will merely supply a more moderate face to something very unpleasant until the disguise eventually slips.

Catholic Tradition is always radical, it is not about museum curating, it about contradiction of liberal values. Conservatives will never change hearts and minds, never evangelise, never offer an alternative to 'the world' and never be able to offer an alternative to the destructive stranglehold that today embraces popular society.

What was it Pope Benedict said to our Bishops:
"Fidelity to the Gospel in no way restricts the freedom of others – on the contrary, it serves their freedom by offering them the truth."
"[S]ocial milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, it is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate. It is the truth revealed through Scripture and Tradition and articulated by the Church’s Magisterium that sets us free."
I am glad Pope Francis continues the radical call, not to embrace 'Gospel values' but to embrace the person of Jesus Christ.

Monday, April 07, 2014

So why 'Traddies' at Preston?

Bishop Michael Campbell of Lancaster announced on Sunday that Mgr Gilles Wach, General Prior of the institute, together with parish priest Fr Simon Hawksworth, have agreed to establish a foundation of the Institute at the Church of St Walburge, Preston, in the early autumn.

Now why is it that "The Dome of Home" Ss Peter and Paul, New Brighton, St Wilfrids, York and now the iconic St Walburge's, Preston have been handed over to 'traddie' religious? I mean where are the dynamic liberal religious orders? Why is it that these city centre parishes, which obviously are going to need a lot of hard work, to restore and normally have tiny congregations, are so attractive to 'traddies' and simply dismissed by others of a more liberal outlook? Why is it 'traddies' actually hope to make a go of these places, whilst others just want to shut them down, why this hope?

FFI family pleads with Pope

manelli.jpg The Holy Father has a deep devotion to the icon "Salus Populi Romani", the ancient icon in St Mary Major, where the Franciscans of the Immaculate care for the sacristy, under this title Our Lady is patroness of his diocese.

The family of the founder of The Immaculate live in the poor parish of St Gregory the Great in Magliana on the 'peripheries' of his diocese. Here live relatives of the FI's founder father, Fr Stefano Maneli, Pio and Annamaria Manelli, they present the Pope with a copy of the icon of "Salus Populi Romani".

Doing so they said, "Holy Father, we have nine children, six of who are members of Franciscans of the Immaculate. We beg you, release them from the tombs" (La supplichiamo, li tiri fuori dai sepolcri), they presented him with a copy of the icon. The Pope embraced them and replied, "Soon, soon".

thanks to CR

Lessons on the correct disposition for Holy Communion

A priest friend of mine told me he was very impressed a few weeks ago by a little boy who was nine or ten, home schooled, who said he very much wanted to go to Holy Communion but he had kicked his sister on the way to Mass, so he couldn't. His reason: because he was so annoyed with her he couldn't bring himself to apologise.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Politicians and Communion

I wrote to Bishop Philip Egan thanking him for the stand he has taken in his public pronouncements on the reception of Holy Communion by those politicians who voted for same sex marriage and for abortion. I told him I thought it was courageous and thanked him for setting an example. Fr Dickson draws attention to the fact that Greg Pope's letter, written at the behest of Mgr Marcus Stock and therefore presumably under the rather nuanced direction of Vincent Cardinal Nichols, says the Bishops of E&W 'have no plans' to withhold Holy Communion from such politicians.

I think the great problem is that many Catholics including politicians are unaware of the existence of Canon 916 and a bishops or priests duty regarding the admission or exclusion of anyone from Holy Communion. No wonder Bishop Egan's words came as shock. I suspect that most, and my suspicion is born out by the responses to the German bishops questionnaire in preparation for the Synod on the family that after years of silence on sexuality, the family etc by us clergy most Catholics are profoundly ignorant both of what and why the Church teaches what she does. If they have any understanding at all it is a mere caricature of the reality fed by the media. I simply wonder what formation Catholics in politics have regarding their faith. The Church's 'opposition to SSM was a non-starter from its beginning bcause we have failed to teach effectively about the Natural Law, about the nature and effects of sin, or the richness of the Church's teaching on gender or the family. How many sermons or pastoral letters have you heard on these subjects in the last 30 years?

For too long we clergy have taught a hotch potch of the faith, barely believing it ourselves and convincing very few, the words of S Paul to Timothy are entirely apposite, when I stand before Christ to be judged, as a priest I dread them:
Before God and before Christ Jesus who is to be judge of the living and the dead, I charge you, in the name of his appearing and of his kingdom: proclaim the message and, welcome or unwelcome, insist on it. Refute falsehood, correct error, give encouragement 
We simply haven't done it! The "message" hasn't been proclaimed, it has been eviscerated. Falsehood hasn't been refuted and error hasn't been corrected, most of us have insisted on nothing. We have fallen into the trap of groups like ACTA of faffing with deckchairs whilst the Titanic slips below the North Atlantic. After ten/eleven years of Catholic education in this country most 'Catholics' simply have no idea how to live or even how to die a Catholic, indeed the vast majority simply give up in their teens if not before. If there is any faith it has little exterior expression.

Vatican II said somewhere that Episcopal Conferences were suppose produce regional catechisms, as someone said to me recently we that have YouCat but something more fundamental is needed. Most Catholics don't know why they should baptise their children or how to pray with them, what to say in the Confessional or why, what marriage is, what the Church is or even how to die well. It is no wonder that in most dioceses in England and Wales, cities like mine with a dozen or so semi-active priests within two decades will been down to one or two if they are fortunate - some French dioceses will actually have that number for their whole diocese long before then. The easy, non-biblical, liberal answer is to dilute the faith, which probably works for one generation but is ultimately unconvincing -look at the demise of European Protestant Ecclesial Communities- rather than to concentrate and distil it and live it in its intensity.

I posted the words of Bishop Egan's own MP, he says 'we have a new gentle shepherd preaching a Christ-like message of inclusivity, love, tolerance and forgiveness', that is, I think, what many Catholics think the Gospel and Christ is about, it is the 'Church of Nice', which is as far removed from the Sermon on the Mount and the Cross as the Women's Institute scone making advice leaflet.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Queen meets Pope

Later today the Queen will meet Pope Francis, here she meets Pope John XXIII, interesting to see the animation of the Pope.
Today will be a simpler affair, no tiara, no court dress and fewer courtiers on both sides.
Here is an account of the meeting, simple gifts from the Queen, a bottle of Scotch and stuff from her estates and princely gifts from the Pope, an orb for Prince George.

The Pope on Sloth and Accidia #2

 “I think it is a great pity, indeed a tragedy, that this bishop appears not to have noticed that we have a new gentle shepherd preaching a Christ-like message of inclusivity, love tolerance and forgiveness. I look to the guidance of the Holy Father Pope Francis.”
These remarks appeared in the Tablet, they are from the Portsmouth MP Conor Burns after Bishop Egan reiterated the Church's teaching on the reception of Holy Communion by those politicians who have demonstrated they are not in Communion with Catholic Church. Politicians who fail to take Christ into the voting lobby are surely those who demonstrate the 'formalism' that Pope Francis complains about so frequently, "the life of these people, consists in having all the paperwork, all the certificates, in order."

“Christian hypocrites, like these, only interested in their formalities. It was a Sabbath? No, you cannot do miracles on the Sabbath, the grace of God cannot work on Sabbath days. They close the door to the grace of God. We have so many in the Church, we have many! It is another sin. The first, those who have the sin of sloth, are not able to go forward with their apostolic zeal, because they have decided to stand firm in themselves, in their sorrows, their resentments, in all of that. Such as these are not capable of bringing salvation because they close the door to salvation.” 
“I think of many Christians, of many Catholics: yes, they are Catholics, but without enthusiasm, even embittered. 'Yes, life is what it is, but the Church – I go to Mass every Sunday, but better not get mixed up in things – I have faith for my health, I do not feel the need to give it to another...’. Each in his own house, the quiet life: but, you do something and then they criticize you: ‘No, leave it alone [It. è meglio così], don’t chance it.’ This is the disease of sloth, the acedia of Christians. This attitude that is crippling the apostolic zeal, which makes Christian people stand still and at ease, but not in the good sense of the word: they do not bother to go out to proclaim the Gospel! They are anesthetized.”

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

The Pope on Sloth and Accidia

The Pope preached yesterday on sloth and accidia, it was like many of his sermons, rather than giving hope to those who dwell in this dark pit he just puts the boot in again and again and again, I often get the impression both from the content and delivery of his daily homilies that His Holiness doesn't prepare them as he much as Charity might demand he should.
The slothful and accidic are often builders or the partners in the building of their particular sinful hole but simply pointing out their responsibility, to me, doesn't seem that helpful. It would be a little like Jesus going to the man by the pool, yesterdays Gospel. and simply telling him he was the author of his own misfortune and telling him to 'pull himself together' and get one with life.
Grinding a sinners face in his sin doesn't help, Jesus is always merciful, and more gives hope.
With my parishioners I tend to regard sloth and accidie as being the result of having a particular personality type: a tendency to depression, and a lack of inspirational leadership, often on my part. Between that their lies an inability to grasp the full implications of the Gospel, or often a confusion about what is Christian teaching but the real reason is a loss of hope, and yes a weakness of faith and charity, It comes from a self destructive coldness heart, a failure to appreciate God's love for oneself and to love oneself because God first loves you.
“I think of many Christians, of many Catholics: yes, they are Catholics, but without enthusiasm, even embittered. 'Yes, life is what it is, but the Church – I go to Mass every Sunday, but better not get mixed up in things – I have faith for my health, I do not feel the need to give it to another...’. Each in his own house, the quiet life: but, you do something and then they criticize you: ‘No, leave it alone [It. è meglio così], don’t chance it.’ This is the disease of sloth, the acedia of Christians. This attitude that is crippling the apostolic zeal, which makes Christian people stand still and at ease, but not in the good sense of the word: they do not bother to go out to proclaim the Gospel! They are anesthetized.”
The problem is, often, not the poor sheep's fault but the shepherd's. Frankly I think I am fortunate if I can get people even to the level "formalism", if they are coming to Mass, then maybe, just maybe Christ or the apostles might pass by and heal them.
There was a time when seminaries and convents were full, when many lay people were actively involved in the mission of the Church, the sloth and accidia we see around us seems to be deeply ingrained in the Church of today.

Changing Times

Change, fast change without thought for the implications of the change are not new, they are part of human nature.
A crowd one day cries, "Hosanna, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord", within a week it is replaced by another crowd shouting "Crucify him, crucify him".

A school friend of mine told me about how his grandfather, a much decorated Austrian war hero, a respected lawyer, living well in middleclass Vienna within a year ended up being starved and worked to death in a concentration camp.  Human nature is fickle, a happy gathering can easily turn into a violent fist fight. A struggle for democracy and freedom can so easily turn into a fascist rout.

We have witnessed this in the Church, I remember my first encounter with the Traditional Mass, offered on the plinth of Nelson' Column in Trafalgar Square, during an anti-abortion rally in 1974. That which had sustained the Church for a millennium and a half, was suddenly regarded as profane, even dangerous, I remember being told by a good, holy priest not have anything to do with it, he seemed to think of it as more dangerous than the women who screamed, "Women should decide their fate, not the Church and not the State".

On Sunday I offered Mass for a sick old lady in her 90s, who under Stalin had risked imprisonment daily, she had run a secret catechetical school for children in the the Ukraine. The place of Christianity in the former Soviet bloc has changed dramatically. A friend who worked until recently as a priest in Albania, tells of older priests still working in his former diocese who were imprisoned and tortured for years, who worked secretly giving the sacraments to people who could have their children taken away for making the sign of the Cross or being absent from school on Christmas day.

We live in a fickle changing world, what was 'good' yesterday becomes 'bad' today, there is an interesting article: Gay Marriage: the fastest orthodoxy ever? Society changes and has always changed, there is something about 'prevailing orthodoxies', coercion through fear and perceived public opinion. A German I knew, now dead, said, "before the First World War we were all convinced Monarchist/Imperialists, during the War we were convinced  Militarists, after the War we were depressed, then we became convinced Communists, then Nationalists, then Fascists, we knew Hitler was our saviour, then in East Germany we were absolutely convinced Soviet Communists, we were proud to be workers, then all of a sudden we became Capitalists". At each stage this man was strongly convinced by each ideology that was in power, without demur put in the uniform or waived the flag of whoever was in power, persecuted whoever was supposed to be persecuted,
It is human nature - at least fallen human nature. It is a Christian duty to question these new 'orthodoxies' both within and outside the Church, we do so from the certain knowledge that Christ, not Satan, has triumphed.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Clergy Retreat in Bavaria

Fr Armand de Mallery FSSP emailed me to ask to publicise the forthcoming Retreat for any clergy - bishops, priests or deacons, he asked me if I was going but I really can't get away.

Looking for a break after Easter the FSSP are running a CLERGY RETREAT with MARY 5th-9th May 2014 in Bavaria at a cost of just £270. 
"The Retreat will be on the theme: ‘The Blessed Virgin Mary and the priest’. In reference to Pope Francis’ decision to consecrate the World to Mary’s Immaculate Heart, we will strive as priests to deepen our relationship to God through Mary. We will meditate on the mission of the Blessed Virgin Mary to help us be configured to her Son the Sovereign High Priest. This will include: the role of Mary in the Incarnation and Redemption; her purity and humility at the Annunciation; her charity at the Visitation and at Cana; her hope and faith on Calvary; her spiritual motherhood in relation to the beloved disciple St John. Our Lady will help us deepen the love of our priestly celibacy and our sponsal relationship to the flock entrusted to our pastoral care and to the Church in general. The retreat will be held at the Marian Shrine of Wigratzbad in Bavaria, from Monday 5 May to Friday 9 May 2014 (third week after Easter)."
Go here for more information 
contact Fr de Mallery