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Showing posts from February, 2012

Spot the mistake

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Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva have published a paper in the Journal of Medical Ethics with the title After-birth abortion: why should the baby live? They argue that newborn babies are not persons and therefore do not have a right to life. I suppose this is consistent in a ghastly way. If a baby in the womb is deemed to be unworthy of life, there seems no logical reason to say that newborn babies have a right to life.

Perhaps we will now have an ecclesiastical statement saying that we recognise the reality of legal abortion and see no prospect of repealing the Abortion Act, but that we oppose this new development. That seems to be the approach taken to the progression from civil partnerships to gay marriage.

The Holy Spirit, soul of the Church

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Here is the text of the sermon that I gave on Monday evening at the Votive Mass of the Holy Ghost as part of the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the parish of St Mary Magdalen, Brighton.

We speak of the Holy Spirit as the soul of the Church. The first to use this analogy was St Augustine. In one of his sermons, he said:
What the soul is for the body of man, that the Holy Spirit is for the body of Christ, that is, the Church, The Holy Spirit operates in the whole Church that which the soul operates in the members of the one body. (1) Pope Pius XII in his encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi, said that the Holy Spirit is “the principle of every supernatural act in all parts of the Body.” (2)

Of course we also speak of the Church as the Bride of Christ and the Body of Christ, we affirm with St Augustine that:
Peter may baptise, but this is He that baptises; Paul may baptise, yet this is He that baptises; Judas may baptise, still this is He that baptises. (3) The role of the Holy …

Evangelisation at Brighton

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The Church is empty in the picture (H/T Mulier Fortis) except for the parish priest, but it was standing room only by 7pm when Mass began. Here is the procession out, after singing the Te Deum:


Fr Blake has organised a number of events to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the parish of St Mary Magdalen, Brighton. Last night it was a V High Mass of the Holy Ghost with Schubert's Mass no. 2 in G major, Bruckner's Locus iste, and the world premiere of Tom Bennet's Tu es Petrus. Fr Blake was celebrant, I was deacon, and Fr Simon Heans of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham was subdeacon.

I preached the sermon. To be honest, I was not really satisfied with it and wondered if people might find it a bit boring; I was surprised at the number of enthusiastic comments. I think this was one of those times where God teaches us as priests that it is not our own skill that matters but how he moves people. I'll post the text tomorrow as it is getting late tonight and there are…

Piano recital at St George's on Thursday

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Happy to post information on this piano recital at our Cathedral of St George this Thursday. Full size flyer here.

The magnificence of God's creation

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This is a really cool graphic illustration of the scale of different things in the universe.

The start button takes you to a scale of 1 metre and you can slide up or down from there. It is a helpful illustration of the magnificence of God's creation.O Lord our Lord, how admirable is thy name in the whole earth! For thy magnificence is elevated above the heavens. (Ps 8.2)And remember: Jesus Christ is the master key to the meaning of the universe.

Magic iPad fun

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Thanks to Jennifer's Favourite Links for this fun video with a magician doing tricks with an iPad. As Jennifer says:It's in German, but you don't need to understand the language to understand the coolness.

Dumb ideas for Lent

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Lent: a time for repenting of our sins and battling against the devil - something we are reminded of when we take Holy Water.

Lent: a time for meditating on the death of Christ - something we are reminded of by the crucifix.

Lent: a time for following Christ in his Passion - something we are reminded of by the Stations of the Cross, especially on Fridays.

Fr Z reports on three dumb ideas for Lent:

Removing Holy Water and replacing it with sand (explicitly reproved by the CDW)Removing the Crucifix (a tradition in the parish, apparently)Not celebrating the Stations of the Cross on Fridays (because the priest thinks that it's against Vatican II)
These examples remind me of Christopher Derrick's definition of a liturgist:
A man sent by God so that in times when there is no direct persecution, the people of God may not be denied the opportunity of suffering for their faith.

CD 251 Sloth

An examination of conscience I was reading spoke of looking at various ways that we are prone to the seven capital sins. I wondered how much sloth is a problem now that people are so busy.Sloth is still alive and well, though it causes many people to be neither of those things spiritually. Doctors call high blood pressure the hidden killer. In spiritual terms, that description could be given to sloth. When we examine our conscience, we might indeed dismiss the idea of sloth, thinking that because we are very busy and have lots of work to do, it does not apply to us. Paradoxically sloth can be associated with the stress and overwork that many people experience: we can become averse to all other effort, reluctant to spend our spare time on anything of genuine value, and particularly indifferent to prayer.

The gravity of this sin varies according to the duties that we neglect. It often affects the generosity with which people devote time to their spiritual life. For example, the Rosary …

Something you'd be unlikely to see in England

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This photo came via a priest friend from Matthew who was visiting Cincinnati. Matthew writes:
Cincinnati is the most Catholic city I have been to, there are so many Churches and Mass times, maybe not as much Poland but still a lot and people seem to talk about Church a lot more. There was a beautifully sung Mass this morning at 7.15 which had 50+ people at it.  Also, I saw the attached sign in a Fastfood place; I was ordering some food in the bar and they read off the menu and said "Oh for the Catholics as it's Ash Wednesday we have..." and read off some non-meat options".  Of course if any service provider offers food it is normal to ask for any special dietary requirements. It's our fault that if these are specified, offers are made for halal, kosher or vegetarian. We should be more confident about saying "I'm Catholic and it's a Friday so please could I have a non-meat option."

Sodality Votive Mass of the Five Holy Wounds

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The Sodality of the Five Holy Wounds of Our Lord Jesus Christ will be meeting at Blackfen on Friday 16 March at Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen. There will be a Missa Cantata at 8pm (or shortly after - we have Stations of the Cross at 7.30pm to which all are, of course, welcome.)

The Mass will be a Votive Mass of the Five Holy Wounds and will be offered for the intentions of all members of the Sodality. Everyone is welcome to come. There will be tea, coffee and other refreshments afterwards in our Small Hall.

I have taken on the role of Spiritual Director to the Sodality after consulting with Fr Southwell who has stepped down from this role. After the Mass, we will discuss possible future events and activities for the Sodality. Devotion to the Five Holy Wounds is a very English thing, popular among our martyrs and others who suffered during penal times. I look forward to taking a role in this Sodality.

The above picture is the new logo, designed by Catholic illustrator and artist, D…

Looking forward to speaking to "Call to Youth"

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On Thursday 1 March I'm giving a talk to the London Oratory's "Call to Youth." (8pm in St Wilfrid's Hall) The title is "Was Christ tempted ‘just as we are’?: Understanding the temptations of Christ". These talks are open to people from 18-35 years old. This work with young adults at the Oratory has been remarkably successful and I am looking forward very much to the occasion.

If you are tempted to fire off in the combox the Jerusalem Bible translation of Hebrews 4.15, do be aware that the meaning (and therefore the proper translation) of that verse is one of the principal points at issue. Key dogmatic point: Jesus did not suffer from concupiscence.

Here is a list of some other events for Call to Youth during Lent from their email today:
On Thursday 29th March from 8pm in the Little Oratory:
An Evening of Recollection for Lent
Prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament & Lenten meditations

Both evenings will end with the usual sandwiches & drinks…

A Council Father's reminiscences

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Shane of Lux Occulta has sent me a link to an interview that was given by the late Archbishop Thomas Morris, emeritus of Cashel and Emly, to Kieron Wood, religious affairs correspondent of RTE in 1992. Archbishop Morris had been a Bishop for two years when the second Vatican Council started. At some points, the interview seems a little naive twenty years on, but there are some gems. I thought that this was a good insight from the Archbishop:
At the opening Mass of the Council, I was near the altar and heard Pope John XXIII speak about the serious difficulties and sufferings of earlier Councils because of undue interference of the civil authorities, Kings and Emperors and so on. I put a note in the margin of the sermon: what about interference by the media?

It’s an almost insuperable temptation for the media to influence the events they report, perhaps by an implication of approval or disapproval. I felt that good Pope John wasn’t aware that this would happen, but I saw it happening.…

Saying Yes and Saying No - CMA Conference

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The Catholic Medical Association is holding another conference in my parish this weekend. the theme is "Saying Yes and Saying No. Skills for clinicians dealing with ethical dilemmas in medicine."

There will be lectures by various consultants and legal experts, time for conviviality, and all night adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. All healthcare workers are welcome, and everyone is of course welcome for the adoration and other spiritual exercises on the programme.

Here is a link to the poster with full details of the conference.

Coalition for Marriage petition

The Coalition for Marriage is an umbrella group of individuals and organisations in the UK that support traditional marriage and oppose any plans to redefine it. The Coalition has organised an online petition in support of marriage. It reads:
I support the legal definition of marriage which is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. I oppose any attempt to redefine it. Ther are over 13,000 signatures so far.

Sign the petition here.

Fire extinguisher training

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Recently we had the great good fortune that two of our carbon dioxide extinguishers ended their safely useful life. Therefore we had an opportunity for training altar boys in the correct use of such apparatus (tip: don't hold the horn as it gets quite cold.)

It is also important that the parish priest has a go undertakes appropriate health and safety training:

FSSP Vocation Discernment Weekend

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Fr De Malleray sends me news of a Vocation Discernment Weekend to be held at St John Fisher House in Reading from 30 March to 1 April. This is for Catholic men between 18 and 35 years of age. The weekend will be led by Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP, assisted by Fr Simon Leworthy, FSSP and Rev Ian Verrier, FSSP, a seminarian of the Fraternity who was interviewed by Mary O'Regan for the Catholic Herald last month. You can read the interview at Mary's blog The Path Less Taken.

You can find full details of the Vocation Discernment Weekend at the FSSP forthcoming events page (scroll down.) You might also want to take a look at the page with links to the new Vocations flyer and videos.

Cardinal-to-be Dolan speaks of going to confession in Rome

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Archbishop Dolan's message about confession the other day was a fine example of simple pastoral care for his people.

Love, Prayers, and Best Wishes from Rome

Well, I did it again…

It’s usually one of the very first things I do on my first full day back in Rome…

Early in the morning, I walk down the Janiculum Hill – where I stay at the North American College – to Saint Peter’s Basilica, there to go to confession and then to celebrate Mass.

Two powerful sacraments, Eucharist and Reconciliation, constants of our spiritual life, at the heart of the church, near the tomb of Saint Peter.

I don’t want you to think that I only approach confession when I’m in Rome!

At home with you in New York I try to go every two weeks, because I need it.

But it does have a special urgency and meaning here in Rome.

Near the tomb of Saint Peter, I can hear Jesus ask Him three times: “Simon, do you love me?” and then examine my conscience to see how I have failed to love the Lord and take care of his shee…

The condoning generation

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"InfiniteGrace" writes a blog called Postabortion journey, walk with me...

The introductory text for the blog is:
At the tender age of 17, I walked across this bridge, alone, into Downtown Pittsburgh, with $300 in my pocket that my mother had given me to get an abortion. I went into the Fulton Building (in the picture) and did what I was told to do. I didn't have a choice - if I did, I wouldn't have chosen abortion.Go over and have a look.

Many people know that there is an ecclesiastical censure of excommunication attached to abortion. Actually it is applied to any person who procures an abortion. It is unlikely that a 17 year old girl who was under pressure would have incurred the censure. But the person who pressured her and gave her the money ...

We need to focus some of our preaching on what a priest friend of mine called the "condoning generation". Even if they did not actually encourage the abortion, many took the line "I will support you whatever…

Ramsgate treasures saved

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I expect that several other bloggers have picked this up, but there is good news about the historic items from Ramsgate Abbey: they are now to remain in Catholic hands.

See the full press release from the Catholic Communications Network.

Faith Symposium

The annual Faith Theological Symposium is in full swing at Ampleforth. I have only limited access to the internet, and no wifi, so I can't post it. Just to say that it is going well with excellent lectures and conviviality. This evening we have a holy hour so I will remember readers then, and at Mass tomorrow.

Double standards #2567

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There are prima facie credible allegations that a deceased priest abused minors, the Church knew about it, had made no enquiry, had not informed the police, and now refuses to comment.

Oops! No, sorry, the story is not about a priest, but a TV celebrity, and not about the Church, but the BBC.

So that's all right then. Nothing to see here. No hostile interviews. Please move on. Instead you can read a glowing obituary of Jimmy Savile at the BBC website.

See Guido Fawkes: Did the BBC Fix It For Jim? Awkward Questions for Director General Mark Thompson
See also Daily Telegraph: BBC 'buried Savile sex abuse claims to save its reputation’

The celebrity in question took part in Church events involving children, notably at Lourdes. Perhaps the Bishops might ask the BBC why they were not informed about the possibility of his being a risk to minors. Imagine the furore if the Church had supplied a priest for a children's programme on the BBC and failed to communicate a reasonable sa…

New novel dealing with euthanasia

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Keep Breathing is set in Britain, only a few years into the future, when the government is in the hands of the New Phoenix Party, whose leader is determined to implement a UN resolution for the reduction of Individual Units of Consumption (people.)

The proposal is that in addition to the Assisted Dying Act which had already allowed for assisted suicide, a new measure would allow people 15 years of state pension after which a Maturity Contract would offer the choice of terminal sedation or an opt-out clause. The opt-out clause would involve a reduction in the state pension by 5% per year to a minimum of 50%.

Retired journalist Howard Mitchell leads a campaign in which pensioners bring London to a standstill, the State Security Service tries to bump him off, and ordinary people come to realise just how horrendous the government’s proposals are. An interesting twist is that Howard’s sympathies politically are left of centre; this gives an unpredictable flavour to the plot and the charact…

"The Church right on birth control"

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Business Insider, a secular media website, carries a spectacularly good article Time To Admit It: The Church Has Always Been Right On Birth Control. The authors succinctly demolish the argument that the Church's teaching on birth control is outdated and obviously silly. Here's a taster:
Today's injunctions against birth control were re-affirmed in a 1968 document by Pope Paul VI called Humanae Vitae. He warned of four results if the widespread use of contraceptives was accepted:
General lowering of moral standardsA rise in infidelity, and illegitimacyThe reduction of women to objects used to satisfy men.Government coercion in reproductive matters.Does that sound familiar?
Because it sure sounds like what's been happening for the past 40 years. It seems that President Obama's version of the dictatorship of relativism with the proposed HHS rule is generating some powerful support for the Catholic Church. In the USA, the Bishops have been pretty stout in speaking out a…

Charles Dickens

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My esteemed friend Fr Zuhlsdorf has reminded us all that today is the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens.

Some years ago, I was at a dinner with a couple of other priests I had not seen in a while. In conversation I mentioned that I was reading through all the novels of Dickens. Their disgust was almost palpable, and a complete surprise to me. Theirs was not the "I was made to read Dickens at school and hated it" kind of dislike, it was a cultural distaste; some of Dickens' works were published weekly and were the soap operas of the day (O tempora! O mores!) My guess was that he was also seen as a kind of socialist, though they explicitly objected to his sentimentality. Apparently nowadays too, according to a commenter over at WDTPRS, literary modernists don't like him for various reasons, principally related to his style of writing.

Well I did read through most of the novels and thoroughly enjoyed them. It was while reading one edition in a rather small print "c…

CD 250 Masses for the dead

My parish priest told me that only one Mass was needed for a dead person to be released from Purgatory and so I have not had Masses said for my deceased father. After finding alternative views on the internet, I wonder whether this advice was correct.
I am afraid that I do not agree with the advice that your priest gave, though I am sure that he meant well. Although the Mass has an infinite value, our capacity to receive God’s grace is limited. Therefore it is proper for us to offer Masses regularly for a deceased relative or friend.

In the early third century, Tertullian spoke of the practice of “making oblations for the dead as birthday honours.” (De Corona 3) He was referring to offering Mass on the occasion of a person’s anniversary. He similarly referred to a widow “offering” on the anniversary of her husband’s falling asleep. (De Monogomia 10) He even mentioned that although the practice was not in the scriptures, it had the authority of tradition and custom, so we may assume t…

On the prospect of being shot and strung up

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“Old bigots like you father should be shot and strung up.” Normally I don’t publish nasty comments, but on the post Gay Mass Bidding Prayers video I was more lenient than usual since I thought it fair for the gays to have their say on a post that criticised the Soho Mass. (My usual advice to bloggers for hateful comments is to delete them, forget them, and not refer to them. People who write such things are looking for attention and it is generally best not to grant it.)

On this occasion I break my own rule because I am intrigued by the suggestion that I should be both shot and strung up. I thought that this would be overkill (literally) since there would not be much point stringing me up if I had already been shot. Discussing this after Mass this morning, my MC did point out that the stringing-up might be a kind of ceremonial celebration of the shooting.

That could be a temptation, but such a spectacle, especially in our internet age, would be likely to backfire in PR terms for the…

Snow fun at a classical location

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We have snow here and the children have been having snowball fights after Mass, and building a snowman, but we can't beat the glamour of snow in Rome. Hilary White has collected some great photos on her blog. I did like the one I have copied above - people sledging at the Circus Maximus.

Gay Mass Bidding Prayers video

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Look, isn't it about time an end was put to this? It is a scandal to all faithful Catholics and a travesty of the Church's genuine concern and care for people who have particular problems and temptations.

I entirely accept the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2358) that people with same sex attraction should be treated with compassion and sensitivity. In my own ministry, in which I have heard many confessions of people who have committed sexual sins whether heterosexual or homosexual, I hope that I have been kindly and, as far as possible, understanding. It is perfectly possible to offer acceptance and compassion for human weakness without the need to have the Bidding Prayers read by a man with a wig and a dress and a rainbow flag on the ambo.

The Gay Mass phenomenon is also an obstacle to many good people who are struggling with temptations to same sex attraction, and trying to live a chaste life according to the teaching of Christ and the Church. I do not k…

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