Thursday, May 31, 2007
For me as a priest one of the most shocking things about the clergy abuse scandals was that here were men who were abusing children and then going to the altar to offer the Holy Sacrifice, one presumes without ever going to the sacrament of penance. One of my parishioners was convicted of fraud a few weeks ago, and is now serving a prison sentence, the fraud was ongoing, and the parishioner was a weekly communicant, and from time to time coming to week day Mass, obviously I don’t know if they frequented the sacrament of penance, but if they did I can’t see any sense of a firm purpose of amendment of life and certainly there was no attempt of making restitution to those who suffered because of his crimes.
When I was a prison chaplain there was a Columbian drugs baron in “the Block”, a prison within the prison, who I used to avoid going to see because he was wanted Holy Communion but refused to accept responsibility for the actions of his crime, the easy option was to find some excuse for not bringing him Holy Communion, fortunately he was only there for a cauple of months.
I remember a conversation with a priest, now a Bishop who told me, “… Communion is not a reward for good behaviour.” He was in a sense right but it does connected directly to how we live and if we are not living in communion with Christ and His Church then we should not receive Holy Communion.
The idea of being in State of Grace seems to be a rather dated concept but sin and the sacraments do not mix. I remember having a discussion with the Cardinal ages ago in which he floated the idea that the sacrament of matrimony should not be given to those living together, in some parts of the world the sacrament of baptism is not given to a child whose parents are not married, because the assumption is that they are unable to pass on the Christian faith. Italian Bishops have told members of the Mafia they should not receive Holy Communion, in the past they said this about those who voted Communist. In the United States some bishops not only tell Catholics who support abortion that they should not come to Holy Communion but also tell priests that they should not give Holy Communion to those who should not present themselves for Holy Communion.
How do we get over that Holy Communion is about living as a Christian and that our personal morality affects our relationship with Christ and how do we get over the fact our relationship with Christ is supposed to fruit in our personal morality?
Returning to “the line of great figures from the ancient Church, who still today are considered masters of the faith” Benedict XVI focused on the personality of Tertullian, the African apologist from the late II early III centuries, “the first great Christian author to write in Latin”, who communicates the positive essence of Christianity and illustrates its rational foundations.
He underlined that Tertullian, is most famous for his apologetic writings, in which he aims to “counter grave pagan accusations against the Church” and “present positively the Gospel”, in dialogue with the culture of the time, but above all “denounce the un just behaviour of the political authorities of the time towards the Church, by explaining the Christian customs , illustrate the new religion” and show the triumph of the Spirit, which opposes the violence of the persecutors with the fact that “Christians blood is an effective seed, in the end their suffering will be victorious”. In fact, in a special way Tertullian exhorts Christians to have hope in those times of persecution, exalting hope not only as a virtue, but as “a characteristic which invests every aspect of Christian existence”.
The Pope recalled that it was he who defined human nature as “naturaliter christiana” and maintained that “a Christian cannot hate, not even his own enemies” and that this is the moral repercussion of the choice of a faith which “proposes non violence as a way of life”.
The Pope continued that from the human point of view, one can speak of a drama which plagued Tertullian: with the passing of the years he became ever more exigent of Christians: above all he expected them to face persecution heroically. In the end he found himself isolated: “an overly individualistic search for the truth along with his intemperance led to his breaking from communion with the Church to become a follower of the Montanist sect”. Still today “there is open debate regarding his behaviour”.
“This great personality – commented the Pope – this figure so rigid in his convictions, who demanded Christians face persecution heroically, spurs me to thought. In the end it becomes clear that he lacked simplicity, the humility to become one with the Church, accepting its weaknesses”.
More on Tertullian
EDINBURGH, Scotland (Catholic Online) – Catholic politicians must not cooperate in sustaining through legislation “the unspeakable crime of abortion” and to do so creates a barrier to their receiving holy Communion, says a Scottish cardinal on the approach of the 40th anniversary of passage of the law that made the taking of unborn human life legal.
In a homily to be delivered May 31 at St. Mary’s Cathedral here on the Scottish Day for Life,” Cardinal Keith O’Brien, archbishop of Edinburgh and St. Andrews, decried the killing of about millions of unborn babies and the spreading of the “culture of death” throughout society.
The Abortion Act 1967, passed by the British Parliament, made abortion legal in the United Kingdom for up to 28 weeks gestation. In 1990, the law was amended by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act: abortion became legal only up to 24 weeks except in cases where it was necessary to save the life of or there is grave risk of physical or mental injury to the mother or evidence of extreme fetal deformity. or there was a grave risk of physical or mental injury to the woman. The act does not extend to Northern Ireland, where abortion is only legal there if the life or the mental or physical health of the woman is at serious risk.
“Around 7 million lives have been ended as a consequence of that one piece of legislation,” he says in the homily, posted on the Web site of the Scottish Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
He characterizes as “lies and misinformation masquerading as compassion and truth” the arguments to promote the legislation four decades ago, including that “backstreet abortions were killing women,” “abortion would only be used in extreme cases” and “medical scrutiny would be rigorous.”
Yet, the result of the Abortion Act is “beyond our grasp,” Cardinal O’Brien says, pointing to the murder in Scotland alone of the “equivalent of a classroom full of school children every day.”
Abortion for many women, he notes, has become “an alternative form of birth control,” with the procedure used to “save the life of a woman are almost unheard of.”
The Day of Life to being observed on the same day as the feast of the Annunciation, which marks the journey by the virgin Mary to visit her cousin Elizabeth who was also expecting a child. At their meeting, John the Baptist, the child in Elizabeth’s womb leapt for joy, and Elizabeth said to Mary, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”
The cardinal says that Annunciation affirms “the immense value of life from its very conception.”
“The redeemer in the womb unites himself with all of humanity,” he says. “By becoming incarnate in the womb of Mary, God raises to a new level the greatness of every human life.”
“The joy of that meeting holds out to us the message of delight that should accompany every pregnancy. With every life conceived God acts directly to create a new and unique human being, a person destined to life everlasting,” he says. “Sadly, joy is not always the dominant emotion evoked by news of pregnancy in the world we live in today.”
Society must build a culture that “joyfully accepts new life,” Cardinal O’Brien says.
The Catholic community has a special responsibility to work against a “philosophy which permits the destruction of children in the haven of their mother’s womb,” he says.
He points to his work campaigning on behalf of the developing world, against the possession of nuclear weapons and to protect “the most vulnerable and defenseless” in the womb as all acts in defense of life.
“We must remain witnesses to the truth and be unambiguous in defending life in all that we do,” he says.
He calls for action from those in the health-care industry, urging support for “medical professionals who are unwilling to cooperate in the slaughter … on our universities and medical schools to teach that all human life deserves protection … on our hospitals to end testing procedures designed only for targeting and killing the weak and infirm.”
Politicians must answer whether they will “protect the right to life of all persons in our society from conception until natural death,” the cardinal says, urging voters “to hold these elected representatives to account.”
”I urge politicians to have no truck with the evil trade of abortion,” Cardinal O’Brien says. “Peace cannot be built in the shadow of the abortion rooms.”
Politicians, especially “those who claim to be Catholic,” must examine their consciences and determine whether they are helping in any way sustain “this social evil,” he said.
“I remind them to avoid cooperating in the unspeakable crime of abortion and the barrier such cooperation erects to receiving holy Communion,” the cardinal warns, adding that “I would be failing as a pastor not to highlight the gravity of this situation not just to lawmakers but to anyone – mother, father, boyfriend, counselor who in any way leads a mother to abortion.
He says that, beyond the outright banning of abortion, “there is much we can do,” including legislation aimed at reducing current abortion limits, ensuring parental notification for minors seeking an abortion and providing women considering the procedure full information about the physical and emotional risks to themselves and about fetal development.
“We can work to ensure that the more light, which is shone on this terrible procedure the less acceptable it will be to our society,” he says.
The Day of Life will be marked in Scotland's some 500 Catholic parishes, which have been sent 250,000 leaflets expanding on the day’s theme, “Blessed is the fruit of your women,” and explaining the Catholic Church's opposition to abortion.
In a letter which accompanied the material sent to parishes, Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow urged "every parish in Scotland (to) take the opportunity to remind people that it is 40 years since the Abortion Act was passed into law" and encouraged parishioners to "pray for legislation to protect the unborn child from the moment of conception."
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
- Pope Benedict XVI held the hands of the parents of 4-year-old Madeleine McCann, blessing them and a photo of the girl as they asked for prayers Wednesday for their daughter who disappeared while vacationing with her family in Portugal.
The pope spoke with the parents, each dressed in dark suits, as he greeted dignitaries seated in the front row during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square.
``He was very kind, very sincere,'' Kate McCann told a news conference. She said Benedict assured them that he would ``continue to pray for Madeleine's safe return.''
``It was more personal than I ever could have imagined,'' said Gerry McCann, adding that Benedict immediately recognized Madeline's photograph.
``His touch and thoughts and words were more tender than we could have hoped and that will sustain us during this most difficult time,'' he said.
The Vatican had readily accepted the British couple's request to meet with the pope, as they press their campaign to publicize their daughter's disappearance. Devout Catholics, they recently prayed at the pilgrimage site in Fatima, Portugal, for her safe return.
The couple also outlined plans in the hunt for their daughter, saying they would travel to Spain, Germany and the Netherlands - countries that send many tourists to the holiday area in Portugal.
Gerry McCann brought a poster of his missing daughter, which has been widely distributed, to the news conference at the residence of the British ambassador to the Vatican. He said the family was asking people going on holiday to put up the posters to further publicize the disappearance.
He said he was grateful for the outpouring of solidarity. ``One evil act seems to be generating so much good,'' he said.
``Obviously we have very mixed emotions about being here, and of course why we are here,'' Gerry McCann said as he arrived in St. Peter's Square. ``In normal circumstances it would be one of the most exciting things we could do in our own lifetimes, but very much on our minds is the fact that we are here without Madeleine.''
A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, said British Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor had requested the McCanns' meeting with the pope.
``We are talking about a family drama that has touched world public opinion. It could not but touch the Holy Father, especially since these people are Catholics,'' Benedettini said.
``The Holy Father is considered the father of all, therefore he was personally touched as a father,'' the spokesman said.
Madeleine McCann disappeared May 3 when her parents left her and her 2-year-old twin siblings alone in their hotel room while they went to a restaurant in their hotel complex in Praia da Luz, a resort town in Portugal's Algarve region. Gerry and Kate McCann have said they won't return to Britain without their daughter.
Kate McCann is traveling with a pink stuffed animal - Cuddle Cat - that her daughter took to bed with her every night.
``We have no plans to go back to the UK at the moment. I can't even think about that now, to be honest,'' she said.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Scotland's University of Edinburgh, after proposing a ban on Bibles and denying a Christian campus group the right to hold a conference on the immorality of homosexuality, has extended the welcome mat to the school's Pagan Society to hold its annual meeting on campus next month.
The pagan conference will feature presentations on a variety of topics, including Magic and Witchcraft in the 21st Century, Pagan Parenting, Pagan Marriage, Pagan Symbolism and Practice and Ancient Greek magic. A workshop in tribal dance will be held at the university Student's Association.
"It will be an opportunity for people to listen to talks on various aspects of modern paganism and socialize with like-minded people in a relaxed, tolerant atmosphere," said John Macintyre, presiding officer of Pagan Federation Scotland. "Most people now recognize that the old stereotypes about witches and witchcraft are way off the mark and there is nothing remotely sinister about it."
"Remotely sinister," it seems, is reserved for Christians at Edinburgh.
In 2005, WND reported plans to begin banning Bibles from Edinburgh student halls of residence due to concern they are the source of discrimination against students of other faiths.
The ban was a response to student association protests as well as an agenda to equally support all faiths, a university spokesman told the Times of London.
While a Gideon Bible had traditionally been placed in the room of all new students, officials decided they could be offensive to some. Removal, advocates said, was about "respecting diversity," not attacking Christianity.
The previous year, Edinburgh removed prayer from graduation ceremonies.
The decision to allow the Pagan Society to hold its meeting on campus comes a year after university officials denied the same privilege to the university's Christian Union.
Officials banned a course on the dangers of homosexuality the group wanted to teach, saying it was in violation of the university's guidelines. A compromise offered by the university allowed the course to be taught if posters offering differing views were prominently displayed
"This seems to be a clear case of discrimination," said Matthew Tindale, a Christian Union staff worker. "It's okay for other religions, such as the pagans, to have their say at the university, but there appears to be a reluctance to allow Christians to do the same. All we are asking for is the tolerance that is afforded to other faiths and organizations."
Simon Dames, spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland, called the university's action an example of "Christianphobia."
"This appears to be a clear case of double standards," he said. "The principles of a pluralistic democracy revolve around an acceptance of competing ideas and universities should be enshrining this principle. Anti-racism groups would never be asked to put up posters saying there are alternative views."
Pagan Macintyre has no sympathy for the Christians' appeal to fairness, stressing that followers of his faith are tolerant and support the university's equality policies .
"Pagans, as a rule, don't believe that sexist or homophobic views are acceptable and discrimination on that basis is deplorable," he said.
Monday, May 28, 2007
The pictures show Pentecost in an Orthodox Church.
Courtesy of Byzantines.net, here is an explanation of the difference:
"Since Pentecost was originally a feast of harvest, as was mentioned above, the Jews used to decorate their homes with the fruits of the harvest—flowers, green foliage, garlands etc.—in order to add more pomp and solemnity to their celebrations. This same custom was also adopted by the Christians. To them, however, the green branches and flowers took on a symbolical meaning—the divine life and gifts of the Holy Spirit.
There is the rather sad story of Pope Paul VI going to the sacristy to say Mass on the Monday after Pentecost, and seeing green vestments, he asked why the red vestments for the Mass of the Octave of Pentecost were not there. He was told, "But Holy Father, you signed a document abolishing it." Apparently he burst into tears. It does seem a shame we don't have an Octave now, The feast of the Holy Trinity seems to stand alone, a bit like a liturgical after thought, whereas in the past it was the Octave feast of Pentecost and the end of the cycle that began with Ash Wednesday.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In his address before the Regina Caeli prayer Benedict XVI gave a short catechesis on the nature of the Church, as is recited in the Credo, to the tens of thousands gathered in St Peters square.
Reflecting on today's feast of Pentecost, which commemorates the descent of the the Holy Spirit on the Virgin Mary and the Apostles gathered in the Cenacle, the pope said this event marked “the solemn birth of the Church”.
“In this extraordinary event – he continued – we find the essential and qualifying characteristics of the Church: the Church is one, as was the community of Pentecost gathered in prayer and 'agreement': ‘the community of believers was of one heart and mind' (Acts; 4,32). The Church is holy, not because of its own merits, but because it is animated by the Holy Spirit, it keeps its gaze fixed on Christ, so as to become one with Him and his love. The Church is Catholic, because the Gospel is destined for all peoples, thus from the very begining, the Holy Spirit makes it so it is announced in all tongues. The Church is apostolic, because it has been built upon the cornerstone of the Apostles, and is the faithful custodian of their teachings down through the unbroken line of episcopal succession”.
Moreover, the “Catholic” characteristic of the Church, capable of reaching out to all peoples in all languages, also renders it “missionary”. “The Church – continued the pontiff – is in its very nature a missionary Church, and since the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit has ceaselessly propelled it and continues to guide it along the world's paths, to the very edges of the earth and the end of all time”.
The pope then added a further, “essential point”: the Church is also “Roman”, not in the context of geographical limitations, but as an expression of its catholic and missionary nature : “In the Acts of the Apostles - explained the pope - … the passage of the Gospel from the Jews to the pagans, from Jerusalem to Rome is described. Rome represents the pagan world, thus all of the nations of people who are beyond the circle of God's ancient people. In fact, the Acts conclude with the arrival of the Gospel in Rome. Thus we can say that Rome is synonymous of Catholicism and Mission, it expresses faithfulness to the origins, to the Church of all times, to a Church which speaks all languages and to all cultures”.
Following the Marian prayer, Benedict XVI greeted the pilgrims in various languages, among them brass bands from Germany, Austria and Switzerland, who played some traditional German hymns.
In order to understand Pentecost, the fifth week after Passover. Shavuot was the the Feast of Fiving of the Law, a riminder of the Jewish Creed, "My father was a wandering Aramean..." Deuteronomy 26:5, a wandering people in the desert, awaiting the fulfillment of God's promise. It was also the time when they remembered God's gifts in the desert the giving of the Law, and the fullfillment of the promise with the first harvest festival in Israel.
Thus the importance of The Law no longer written on tablets of stone but on men's hearts.
It seems to me that we have two fundamental rules.... The first was given to us by St Paul in his First Letter to the Thessalonians: do not extinguish charisms. If the Lord gives us new gifts we must be grateful, even if at times they may be inconvenient. And it is beautiful that without an initiative of the hierarchy but with an initiative from below, as people say, but which also truly comes from on High, that is, as a gift of the Holy Spirit, new forms of life are being born in the Church just as, moreover, they were born down the ages.
At first, they were always inconvenient. Even St Francis was very inconvenient, and it was very hard for the Pope to give a final canonical form to a reality that by far exceeded legal norms. For St Francis, it was a very great sacrifice to let himself be lodged in this juridical framework, but in the end this gave rise to a reality that is still alive today and will live on in the future: it gives strength, as well as new elements, to the Church's life.
I wish to say only this: Movements have been born in all the centuries. Even St Benedict at the outset was a Movement. They do not become part of the Church's life without suffering and difficulty. St Benedict himself had to correct the initial direction that monasticism was taking. Thus, in our century too, the Lord, the Holy Spirit, has given us new initiatives with new aspects of Christian life. Since they are lived by human people with their limitations, they also create difficulties.
So the first rule is: do not extinguish Christian charisms; be grateful even if they are inconvenient.
The second rule is: the Church is one; if Movements are truly gifts of the Holy Spirit, they belong to and serve the Church and in patient dialogue between Pastors and Movements, a fruitful form is born where these elements become edifying for the Church today and in the future.
This dialogue is at all levels....
Now, as a synthesis of the two fundamental rules, I would say: gratitude, patience and also acceptance of the inevitable sufferings. In marriage too, there is always suffering and tension. Yet, the couple goes forward and thus true love matures. The same thing happens in the Church's communities: let us be patient together.
Let us be grateful to the Holy Spirit for the gifts he has given to us. Let us be obedient to the voice of the Spirit, but also clear in integrating these elements into our life; lastly, this criterion serves the concrete Church and thus patiently, courageously and generously, the Lord will certainly guide and help us.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Amethyst, (a-methusko in Greek), means 'not to be intoxicated'. Therefore bishops wearing the traditional amethyst ring are stating they are successors of the Apostles.
Just to horrify a Bishop or two, remember you get a partial indulgence from kissing a Bishop's ring, amethyst or not.
The Pope said this Thursday in an audience with participants at the 57th General Assembly of the Italian bishops' conference, who are holding a meeting in the Vatican on "Jesus Christ, the only Savior of the world: the Church in mission 'ad gentes' and among us." During the meeting with Italy's prelates, the Holy Father said: "I rejoice in the fact that you have placed at the basis of the missionary effort the fundamental truth that Jesus Christ is the only savior of the world.
The certainty of this truth has given, from the beginning, a decisive impulse to the Christian mission.
Today too, as the declaration 'Dominus Iesus' reaffirmed, we must be fully aware that from the mystery of Jesus Christ, true God and true man living and present in the Church, comes the unique salvific and universal nature of Christian revelation and, consequently, the essential task of announcing Jesus Christ to everyone." The answer Benedict XVI said that amid the challenges of the world today, God is necessary for everyone. "It seems to me," he said, "that, if we look at the situation of the world today, we can understand -- I would say in a human way, almost without having recourse to faith -- that God who gave himself a human face, the God who was incarnated, who is called Jesus Christ and suffered for us, this God is necessary for everyone, and the only answer to all of the challenges of this age." While giving "respect to other religions and cultures, with the seeds of truth and goodness they contain and that represent a preparation for the Gospel," the Pope continued, "we cannot diminish the awareness of the originality, fullness and unique nature of the revelation of the true God who in Christ was definitively given to us, nor can we diminish or weaken the Church's missionary vocation." "The cultural climate of relativism that surrounds us makes it more important and urgent" to instill in the Church "the certainty that Christ, the human face of God, is our true and only Savior," he affirmed.
Friday, May 25, 2007
The British composer John Taverner, whose works are inspired by religion, finished a piece based on Islam, which will be performed on June 19 in Westminster cathedral in London. The Beautiful Names (Los Nombres Hermosos) is the title of the work, which will be directed by the master Jiri Belohlavek with the BBC symphony and chorus in the opening ceremony, sources reported. "The Beautiful Names" refers to the 99 denominations of God according to the Islamic tradition and sung in Arabic, according to the author.
The inspiration was "like a vision," said Taverner. For the closing ceremony, the musician counted had the close collaboration of the expert in Arabic issues Michael MacDonald, mainly to guarantee the pronunciation and the accent in that language. The 70 minute masterpiece is subdivided into 11 groups of nine "tonal areas" and each new section begins with a call to Allah.
Prince Charles who said he wants to be be "Defender of Faiths" as opposed to "the Faith", is somehow involved in this; Father Tim says he commissioned it, it fits in with the syncretic beliefs that the establishment seems to want to impose on the Church, and Islam too. Meanwhile T Blair has had it announced that he is going to visit the Pope before he leaves office, in connection with his next job of establishing
Forgive my skepticism but I think Iraq has made him one of the least able people in the world to do this.
This is an intensely moving video of the journal of a father of child who dies shortly after birth, ti has appeared on various other blogs recently.
Eliot was born with an undeveloped lung, a heart with a hole in it and DNA that placed faulty information into each and every cell of his body. However, that could not stop the living God from proclaiming Himself through this boy who never uttered a word.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Monday, May 21, 2007
I was very struck by this picture on NLM, unfortunately there is no link, so I do not where it comes from, anyone know ? It is obviously the Dominican Rite somewhere, presumably, from the fleur de lis, in France.
What I thought was interesting was that this is a modern sanctuary in what looks like an ancient setting. Americans have the term "wreckovation" for modernising, but this really does not seem to be that, on the contrary, the lack of fussiness gives the impression of something that is remarkably elegant, an expression of "noble simplicity".
Does anyone know of an architect in the southeast of England who could help us re-order our Church? Really it is a restoration job, putting right what was mucked up in the 70s, moving fonts and the altar. We started thinking about it a few years ago, I lost patience with our diocesan art and architecture committee who wanted us to put in ramps and hand rails, to replace steps; ramps would have to have a length of 12ft for a rise of one foot, absolutely mad! I have also been putting off doing something, in the expectation of the promised documents from Rome on the liturgy. Presumably the M.P., which is "imminent" will affect the interior of our churches, so both "usages" of the Roman Rite can be celebrated.
We need an architect who will be sensitive to the Victorian interior and yet have some imagination with the interior decoration, lighting, flooring and so forth. If you know of someone who has a proven track record of good quality work, and who can work on the pittance we can afford, let me know.
In England we really don't seem to have architects who actually understand the liturgy.
Similarly, if there is anyone with vast quantities of money, we would be very grateful for that as well.
The Holy Father wasted no time in mentioning his desire to "renew my thanksgiving to the Lord for the apostolic trip to Brazil." He also added his thanks to "those who accompanied me with their prayer."
The Pope then reminded everybody that "the reason for my pastoral visit . . . was the inauguration of the Fifth General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Bishops." However, "before this great ecclesiastical event, I had the chance to meet with the Brazilian Catholic community.
"Recalling this great event brought to the Holy Father’s mind how many people came to "the canonization of the first native of Brazil, Br. Antonio di Sant'Anna Galvao.
" He then invited all present "to continue to pray for the Conference . . . and for God's people who live in Latin America.
"Benedict then changed the topic of his address to "the annual World Day of Social Communications," whose theme this year is, "Children and Means of Communication: an Educational Challenge." Because the mass media is becoming so pervasive, "an adequate formation in the correct use of the media is essential." In fact, "parents, teachers and the Church community are all called to work together to educate children to be selective and to develop a critical attitude (of the media’s messages).
"The Pope also noted the positive impact that the media can have when it is used correctly. "The media must bring their contribution to this educational task, promoting the dignity of the human person, marriage and the family." Benedict clearly stated that programs that teach "violence and anti-social behavior or vulgarize human sexuality are unacceptable, even more so when presented to minors." Once again, Benedict "renewed the call to those responsible for the media industry . . . to safeguard the common good, respect the truth, and protect the dignity of the person and the family.
"His Holiness closed the address by drawing attention to the fact that the Ascension is celebrated in some countries today, and that "the Risen Jesus returns to the Father, thereby opening to us the way to eternal life and making the gift of the Holy Spirit possible." Therefore, "like the Apostles did after the Ascension, we also should come together in prayer to invoke the Spirit, in spiritual union with the Virgin Mary."
The Pope made the appeal after praying the Angelus with pilgrims in St Peter's Square hours after Israel announced plans to intensify operations against Palestinian militants in Gaza.
Israel and militants within Gaza have been exchanging fire for the last week. Israel has carried out airstrikes against Hamas targets in Gaza for five days, leaving more than 30 many civilians dead and dozens injured. Palestinian militants have launched more than 100 rockets into Israel. So far there have been no Israeli casualties but considerable damage to property.
Fighting between the rival Hamas and Fatah movements in Gaza killed at least 50 people in the past week. A truce was called on Saturday.
The Holy Father said: "The fighting between Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip and the rocket attacks against the inhabitants of nearby Israeli cities, which have provoked military intervention, are bringing about a bloody deterioration of the situation and causing dismay.
"Once again, in the name of God, I ask that an end be brought to this tragic violence, while to the suffering Palestinian and Israeli populations I desire to express my solidarity and assurance of my prayerful remembrance.
"I appeal to the sense of responsibility of all the Palestinian authorities that, in dialogue and firmness, they take up again the difficult path of understanding, neutralizing the violent.
"I invite the Israeli government to moderation and exhort the international community to multiply efforts for the relaunching of negotiations.
"May the Lord bring forth and sustain makers of peace!"
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Friday, May 18, 2007
Starting with Joee and Mac
What is your favourite image of Our Lady?
What is your favourite Marian feast?
What is your favourite Marian hymn/anthem?
What is your favourite Marian place of pilgrimage?
What is your favourite Marian devotion?
This my favourite Marian image, it is a 19th cent icon of Our Lady Kazan, I have it memory of my mother, it combines majesty and tenderness.
I love Salve Regina, especially the solemn tone, the tone seems to combine certainty and a degree of diffidence, and ends with confidence with "O Pia ...."
The Assumption when I was a protestant was the most difficult for me to understand, but it is all about us following Christ, even into Heaven. It stretches the mind and heart.
Walsingham is beautiful, so English, especially when it is quiet.
I love Marian processions especially in Spain or Malta.
I am tempted to be smart and just do pictures of my sitting room, kitchen, church, Brighton beach, and my confessional or a friend’s or parishioner’s house, or just a list of former parishes.
I remember as a precocious six year old being asked what my favourite colour was by Mrs Baldock, when I asked “For what, for shoes or dogs or wallpaper?” I was made to stand with nose pressed against a blackboard. I developed a deep hatred of Mrs Baldock in that half hour, for which I still think I need counselling, endless counselling.
Not having a car means I tend not to go to the odder places in the country. I have affection for people not really for places, but let’s try to be honest.
I really do love my sitting room, it has pictures and mementoes of people who are precious to me in it, as well as instruments and music, books and icons. It is the place I pray in. I have this thing about the ancient monastic Fathers who warn about wandering about, it is the place where I centre myself.
Quarr is another place I love, my previous Bishop, now Cardinal Murphy O’Connor let me go and try my vocation there, Abbot Cuthbert and the community showed me great kindness. Whenever I go there I want to stay and at the same time, …well I haven’t been there since I left. It was also the place where the Cardinal showed me the greatest kindness I think anyone has ever shown me. He just came on retreat there and spent time with me, saying little, a simple thing but an extra-ordinary act of generosity and graciousness, so characteristic of him. A lesson in how a Bishop is a also a Father.
The tomb of Edward the Confessor, which I consider is still Catholic, as it is occupied by a Catholic, in Westminster Abbey I love, it sums up English Catholicism for me, I have always wanted to say Mass there.
Minster Abbey, again I haven’t been there for aeons, they have tiny little chapel which I think is 11/12 cent, originally a gatehouse, I used to take our confirmation group there, there are eminently sensible nuns there.
St Joseph’s Church, Guildford (now demolished and replaced) it was where I first encountered the faith and Catholics, and where I learnt to pray from a master of prayer called Fred. He was the sacristan and just used to sit in the Church before the Blessed Sacrament, for hours.
I tag Orthfully Catholic, Fr Justin, Ttony and Fr Dwight Longenecker, who used to live in Bexhill-on-Sea, if they haven't already been done -but not Mrs Baldock - but you don't really have to do this and I am not going to put this on your blog, so you can ignore it if you like!
......I contrast that to the weddings that we celebrated last Saturday night in the Spanish Vigil Mass. Twice a year, we encourage couples who are in merely civil unions or long-term cohabitation to take advantage of a program I started up a few years ago. We take these couples, most of whom have children and are together for several years, and who for whatever reason didn't seek the sacrament of matrimony when they got together. They hear it advertised at Mass, so almost all of them are regular Mass-goers, but obviously unable to receive Holy Communion or to fill leadership roles in the parish. Two married couples and I give them marriage talks, meet with them, put together their paperwork, and make sure there are no obstacles to solemnizing their marriages.
Then, together with the people with whom they've taken the classes, they make their vows in the parish Mass, surrounded by fellow parishioners who've been praying for them while they've prepared. The parish pays for the music, pays for the decorations, and doesn't charge a dime. And they return to the Sacraments that night at the same time they receive the convalidation of their marriages. The week afterward, we always get a deluge of phone calls of people who were moved by the beautiful and festive celebration and want to have their own unions blessed in the same way, as well. The event is palpably sacred, the newlyweds end up becoming some of our most active parishioners, and the communal nature of the Sacrament is made patently obvious.
There's no fretting over trivial details. There's no obscene expenditure of money. There's no worrying over guest lists, as all are welcome. Even though validation isn't the best way to go -- that is, being married in the Church after a civil ceremony or concubinage -- these group weddings are my favorites, and the couples tend to be the ones who impress me most. I've also been edified by the way our parishioners look forward to them each season and the interest and joy they show in the couples. It really is a celebration within the parish community, and not merely a private ceremony attended by people one has never seen before. To that extent, the joy of the event seems several orders greater, as well.
I rather like this pastoral intiative, I would be grateful for comments.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
The nine days that precede Pentecost, when the pious spiritually join themselves with the Great Mother of God and Apostles in ardent prayer, and meditation on the Life of the Lord, before the Coming of the Holy Spirit begin tomorrow, in Rome it will celebrated as the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in Jerusalem it will be celebrated as that, even the Church of England will celebrate it as that, when I was a little Protestant boy, at a Protestant school, we actually had the day off after going to Church, only time in the Year it happened. What is more The BBC, which some regard Catholics seem to regard as anti-Christ, will actually have a service on mainstream radio, not sidelined to Radio 3, Thought for the Day will be on it! I even know of Baptist Churches that will keep it as a Holy Day, because it has a Scriptural dating; Nine days before Pentecost.
We Catholics, however, subject to the rule of the Episcopal Conference of England Wales, for the first time, since Augustine brought the flame of faith to these benighted shores, will not celebrate this great feast on this day. Whilst Mass is celebrated as feria the voices of our school children will be heard, not in the Church but in the school playground outside the Church, will they be there on Sunday? No, the majority will not be. The Polish community, I think are using the Church tomorrow night, and I know that one or two priests who celebrate the Traditional Rite, will be celebrating that tomorrow and therefore having two Ascension Days.
I can take other Holy Days being transferred to the Sunday but this day above all is linked directly to these nine days before Pentecost. Forty years ago in the interest of something Pentecost was stripped of its Vigil -- quite like the Easter Vigil-- and then of its Octave, now it has been stripped of its period of preparation.
We are an old-established firm of ecclesiastical sign makers and we would like to offer you our services now that the Government has told cathedrals and churches that they must put up No Smoking signs by July 1st. We are well qualified to fulfil your needs and our motto, taken from the gospel of St Matthew, is: "An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign." Business, as you can imagine, is booming.
We can do the standard notices, such as "Thou Shalt Not Smoke," or "This Font is Not an Ashtray" and "Blessed are the Non-Smokers". These come in a number of sizes, ranging from "side chapel" to our jumbo-sized "York Minster". We enclose a chart showing the varieties of lettering we can offer. Anti-smoking signs are tailored to the individual needs of the place of worship. Our production methods are geared to both High Church and Low Church (high tar and low tar) requirements. We also have "Smoking is Strictly Forbidden in the Confessionals" notices which are going down very well with the Roman Catholic dioceses.
Or you may prefer our highly dramatic window showing God Sending a Mighty Wind to Extinguish the Flame of Satan's Zippo.
An illuminated text can do wonders to enhance Norman architecture. A village church in Norfolk has just put up this quotation from St Matthew which we prepared specially for the parish: "Why beholdest thou the Marlboro Light that is in thy brother's mouth, but considerest not the slim panatella that is in thine own mouth?" The vicar tells us that this has cut down smoking incidents at Evensong by 15 per cent.
This text is also available in the New English Translation version - "It is counter-productive to be judgmental about your brother who relaxes with the occasional cigarette when you yourself have just enjoyed a crafty small cigar". We are also proposing to bring out a text saying: "It is easier for a rich man to pass through the eye of a needle than for a smoker of Camels to enter the kingdom of heaven."
Many clergymen are also finding that audio-visual aids can be useful. Let our experts visit your place of worship to see if we can install our clap-of-thunder and flash-of-lightning feature which is triggered by a smoke alarm every time somebody goes behind a pillar for a quick drag. We also rig up speakers so that a deep booming voice (Tom Baker, actually) delivers the anti-smoking message from the rafters.
We can do: "If you wish to smoke, please go into outer darkness."
Also: "Smokers will be forgiven" and "I can always see what you're doing".
Our most popular line is: "Repent of Thy Silk Cut", with added boom in the voice. Have you considered installing a statuette of a passive smoking saint? Place the statuette in a convenient alcove and sit back and watch the congregation marvel when it gives a delicate cough. Tick a box on the enclosed order form for your preferred saint. (Please note: St Anthony is currently out of stock.)
If you order three passive smoking saints we will send you 10 free signs saying: "This way to the Giving Up Smoking Workshop in the Crypt".
You may be thinking of a non-threatening humorous approach. We can help you there, with our sign which says: "When the floor of the apse is full, please use the ashtrays provided."
Finally, discretion is assured if you order from our special "Schism" range of signs. You will receive, by post and under plain cover, the one which says: "Smoking is not permitted in this church. See, that's what you get when you let in women priests."
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
I have just been looking at Joee's blog, I must say I don't have much devotion to this modern saint. He has always struck me as a bit like a spiritual accountant. I know that he has had a profound effect on the lives of many men and women. I cannot help thinking I would have disliked him if I had known him personally. I have some of his books that I have been meaning to read for ages and really cannot bring myself to start. I say all this to my shame because I actually find those who follow the Way and involved in the Work quite impressive. I thought those of you who share my feelings might find this video, which has an interview with Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, helpful.
You see, we have an obligation to love those God loves, be it Spanish saints or even ourselves.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Doctors at a hospital popular with celebrity mothers will this week rebel against a proposed ban on providing contraceptives and abortion referrals and demand that Britain's most senior Catholic cleric step down as its patron.Staff at the Hospital of St John & St Elizabeth in north London, where actresses including Cate Blanchett and Emma Thompson and models such as Kate Moss and Heather Mills have given birth, are unhappy at a suggested new code of ethics which will prevent them offering any service that conflicts with Catholic teaching on the value of human rights.
The code will require doctors to refer any woman who inquires about contraception, the morning-after pill and abortion to another hospital and prevent the use of amniocentesis to detect Down's syndrome in unborn children and in vitro fertilisation for couples unable to conceive naturally.
On Wednesday, the hospital's medical advisory committee will tell the hospital board that opposition to the proposed rules from staff and resident GPs is overwhelming. It will suggest that a "secular" code of ethics be adopted instead and call for Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor to resign as patron.
Dr Martin Scurr, the chairman of the hospital's ethics committee, has already informed board members of the advisory committee's position. In a letter, he told them: "It is to be anticipated that the Cardinal will withdraw his patronage from the hospital.
"The hospital will continue as a non-Catholic hospital, with a Catholic heritage, and a new ethics committee will subsequently be formed which must evolve a code of ethics which is acceptable to the secular cadre of clinicians of the hospital, in alignment with the jurisdiction of the General Medical Council."
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Is there a blessing for new blogs? Anyhow let us ask St Isidore, the patron of computronomy (new word) to sought out graces for it.
Below I have put several quotes on particular aspects of his address.
Rorate Caeli reports it thus:-
Not even the setting (the beautiful and vast Metropolitan Cathedral of São Paulo), the music (some tasteful polyphonic pieces and an aesthetically deficient, yet dignified, use of plainchant for the psalms and hymns of Vespers -- unfortunately, in the vernacular), nor the overall attentive mood of those who were present at the event could possibly have prepared the largest episcopate in the world for the remarkable speech of the Holy Father to the Bishops of Brazil.The Holy Father delivered a precise diagnosis of the deep crisis of the Catholic Church in Brazil - extensive to many other nations: all important topics were covered by the Pope, from liturgical disobedience to attentiveness to the sexual maturity of seminarians, from a condemnation of the use of the Church as a field for ideological confrontation to the need to be clear in all ecumenical settings that the only Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church presided by the Successor of Peter.In our modest opinion, this remarkable speech (in English - called a "homily" in the Official Program, due to its liturgical setting, but not particularly homiletic) is one of the most important of the Pontificate, along with the Christmas Address of 2005 and the Regensburg Address of 2006. The true question is, however: will the bishops of the world understand and take heed of this Papal reprimand?
I think that it is significant that the Pope stresses that the main reason for the Brazil trip, is to be present at the opening of CELAM, the bishops of Latin America and the Carribaen's ten yearly meeting. It seems, almost, that he is trying to catechise the Bishops. A friend of mine, said that his Wednesday Audience addresses were mainly aimed at the Roman Curia and clergy living in the city and it seems to me that he is trying to get the Bishops to take their rightful place in the government of the Church but that he can only do this if they understand their role as "present day Apostles" and take that role seriously.
We Bishops have come together to manifest this central truth, since we are directly bound to Christ, the Good Shepherd. The mission entrusted to us as teachers of the faith consists in recalling, in the words of the Apostle of the Gentiles, that our Saviour "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4). This, and nothing else, is the purpose of the Church: the salvation of individual souls. For this reason the Father sent his Son, and in the Lord's own words transmitted to us in the Gospel of Saint John, "as the Father has sent me, even so I send you" (John 20:21). Hence the mandate to preach the Gospel: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20). These words are simple yet sublime; they speak of our duty to proclaim the truth of the faith, the urgent need for the sacramental life, and the promise of Christ's continual assistance to his Church. These are fundamental realities: they speak of instructing people in the faith and in Christian morality, and of celebrating the sacraments. Wherever God and his will are unknown, wherever faith in Jesus Christ and in his sacramental presence is lacking, the essential element for the solution of pressing social and political problems is also missing. Fidelity to the primacy of God and of his will, known and lived in communion with Jesus Christ, is the essential gift that we Bishops and priests must offer to our people (cf. "Populorum Progressio," 21).
Certainly the present is a difficult time for the Church, and many of her children are experiencing difficulty. Society is experiencing moments of worrying disorientation. The sanctity of marriage and the family are attacked with impunity, as concessions are made to forms of pressure which have a harmful effect on legislative processes; crimes against life are justified in the name of individual freedom and rights; attacks are made on the dignity of the human person; the plague of divorce and extra-marital unions is increasingly widespread. Even more: when, within the Church herself, people start to question the value of the priestly commitment as a total entrustment to God through apostolic celibacy and as a total openness to the service of souls, and preference is given to ideological, political and even party issues, the structure of total consecration to God begins to lose its deepest meaning. How can we not be deeply saddened by this? But be confident: the Church is holy and imperishable (cf. Ephesians 5:27). As Saint Augustine said: "The Church will be shaken if its foundation is shaken; but will Christ be shaken? Since Christ cannot be shaken, the Church will remain firmly established to the end of time" ("Enarrationes in Psalmos," 103,2,5: PL 37,1353).
Truth presupposes a clear understanding of Jesus' message transmitted by means of an intelligible, inculturated language, which must nevertheless remain faithful to the Gospel's intent. At this time, there is an urgent need for an adequate knowledge of the faith as it is presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its accompanying Compendium. Education in Christian personal and social virtues is also an essential part of catechesis, as is education in social responsibility. Precisely because faith, life, and the celebration of the sacred liturgy -- the source of faith and life -- are inseparable, there is need for a more correct implementation of the liturgical principles as indicated by the Second Vatican Council, as well as those contained in the Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops (cf. 145-151), so as to restore to the liturgy its sacred character.
It was with this end in view that my Venerable Predecessor on the Chair of Peter, John Paul II, wished "to appeal urgently that the liturgical norms for the celebration of the Eucharist be observed with great fidelity ... Liturgy is never anyone's private property, be it of the celebrant or of the community in which the mysteries are celebrated" (Encyclical Letter "Ecclesia de Eucharistia," 52). For Bishops, who are the "moderators of the Church's liturgical life", the rediscovery and appreciation of obedience to liturgical norms is a form of witness to the one, universal Church, that presides in charity.
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