Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Monday, January 29, 2007
Sunday, January 28, 2007
Anyhow it was back to business in the parish today. We had over 1200 people at Mass this weekend, a good increase on our usual figure (just over 1100). I spen the afternoon catching up on the correspondence that had piled up while I was away. Tonight I've been dealing with emails - only another 160 to go but if I don't stop now I won't get a post up today.
After the evening Mass I gave a Vocations Presentation to our young adults' group, Forum Christi. We showed 'Fishers of Men' and then I spoke about the different sorts of vocation in the Church and how to go about discerning what Christ is asking of us. I think it went well. I was pleased to see that a number of people turned up specially for the talk and some have asked to come on our next 'Discovering Priesthood Day'.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Following the river along we came eventually to the pretty little town of Knaresborough where we had tea in the 'Oldest Chemist Shop in England' - but is in fact now a tea room!
Thursday, January 25, 2007
After the best coffee (Kenyan) and cake so far in Osmotherly we went on to the viking town of Jorvik, better known to us today as York. The photo above shows the oldest surviving row of houses in York. They were built in 1316 in the churchyard of the Holy Trinity to endow a chantry of the Blessed Virgin. They are on a street known as Goodramgate, which is derived from Gutherungate - a twelfth century anglicisation of the old Scandinavian name.
Passing a lot of Vikings on the way we headed off to the Shambles where St Margaret Clitherow lived. Margaret was executed for giving shelter to Catholic priests. There is now a shrine in her honour on the Shambles. Fr Richard explained that although the shrine purports to be the place where she was captured, in fact she lived in the houses opposite. Here is a photograph of numbers 10 and 11 where Margaret Clitherow actually lived and where she was caught giving shelter to a priest hidden in a priest hole:
After ptaying at St Margaret Clitherow's shrine and asking her intercession for an increase in vocations for our country, we took our time to investigate Jorvik. The city's Catholic heritage is witnessed to by the large number of pre-reformation churches. Some of them are very beautiful as you can see from this magnificent lantern. The other photo shows York in flood.
Part of the reason for waiting was to get into the Minster without having to pay! Once in we were able to have a good look round before Vespers started although photography wasn't allowed. In the Chapter House I found this beautiful carving of Our Lady with the Child Jesus which had somehow escaped the Reformers' hammerblows:
Finally we rounded off our day by visiting the old Abbot's House. St Mary's Abbey was a Benedictine community in the City. At the Reformation the Abbey was dissolved and the Abbot's house became the home of the Council of the North which was charged with the total destruction of Catholicism in Yorkshire. The House, which remains in the hands of the civil authorities, testifies to the importance of the former Abbey:
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Fr Richard explained that there was once a large local community of monks but that the Mount Grace monastery had been disolved at the Reformation. Queen Catherine of Aragon (whose birth place has already featured on this Blog) had endowed a local Chapel dedicated to Our Lady just outside the town and that we would visit it at the end of our walk.
At the end of the walk, and just after it started snowing we reached the Chapel of Our Lady of Grace at Osmotherly. It is looked after by the Benedictines from Ampleforth who run the local parish and remains a place of pilgrimage.
I was very pleased to find that the Chapel was open and that it was possible to pop in to pray and light a candle before the image of Our Lady. The Chapel looked very attractive with the winter sun playing through the windows.
The West window contains four Coats of Arms, being the Arms of those whose patronage established the shrine. These included Sir James Strangeways, Ralph Scrope, and the fourth Earl of Eldon. Presiding above them all in this little corner of Yorkshire were the Arms of Queen Catherine, the red and yellow stripes of Aragon being quite unmistakable.
Later that day we went on to York. I'll post about that on another occasion except to say that the old Viking name for York was Jorvik and, as Fr Richard pointed out, many of the locals still look like their Viking ancestors. And given this little headline, presumably behave like them as well...
Friday, January 19, 2007
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Today is the Feast of St Antony. The Office of Readings this morning had an extract from the "Life of St Antony" by St Anthanasius:
After the death of his parents, Antony was left alone with an only sister who was very young. He was about eighteen or twenty years old, and undertook the care of the household and his sister.
Less than six months had passed after the death of his parents, and he was going to the church, as was his custom, turning over in his mind the way that the apostles had left everything to follow the Saviour, and also how those people in the Acts of the Apostles had sold their possessions and had laid the proceeds at the feet of the apostles for distribution among the needy. He was also thinking of the great hope stored up in heaven for these people. With these things in his mind, he went into the church. It happened that the Gospel was then being read, and he heard what the Lord had said to the rich man, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me".
As though this reminder of the saints had been sent to him by God, and as though that passage had been read specially for his sake, Antony went out immediately, and gave to the villagers the possesions he had inherited from his ancestors - they consisted of some three hundred very pleasant and fertile acres - so that they would not be an encumbrance to him and to his sister. He sold all his possessions and gave the considerable sum he raised to the poor, keeping back only a little of it for his sister.
Again when he went into church, he heard what the Lord said in the Gospel: "Do not be anxious about tomorrow". He could not wait any longer, but went out and gave away to the poor even what he had kept back. He left his sister in the care of some well-known, trustowrthy virgins, putting her in a convent to be brought up, and he devoted himself to the ascetic life not far from his home, living in recollection and practising self-denial.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Monday, January 15, 2007
Yesterday I had an email drawing my attention to a number of great initiatives around the world that are helping to promote vocations. One of these is taking place in Melbourne and is organised by their diocesan Catholic Youth Ministry.
It's called Six30 and the webpage described it thus:
Each Thursday since Advent 2000, CYM has been hosting holy hours; nights when anyone can come to St Patrick's Cathedral and spend an hour in prayer and adoration of the Lord.This gathering has come to be known as six30 (since we start at 6:30pm).
not!) and there's also a good quote from the great John Paul II. There are even some low and high resolution images like the one here to download for you to advertise your own Six30 in your local parish! How about getting together with some friends and doing something similar here in Southwark?
Oh, and if you're a priest in Melbourne, you can email CYM to offer to help out!
Saturday, January 13, 2007
- Who are you? Are you happy being an inconspicuous nobody? Or will you let God do something with your life?
- Are your really seeking the Truth?
- Do you aspire to being a personal friend of God?
- Would you dare pcik up the Gospels and read them?
- Do you have the courage to look Jesus in the eyes?
- Do you dare start chatting with God?
- Will you start thinking for yourself (seriously - not serially!)?
Don't forget what St Augustine teaches us: "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless til they rest in Thee".
Friday, January 12, 2007
The key to interpreting the film is given in the quotation from W. Durant words that first appear on the screen: "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." These days a revisionist reading of the Spanish Conquest of South America is very much in vogue. We have gone from Spanish Conquistadores taking the great benefits civilisation and Christianity to a reading of history that exalts the previous civilisations and associates Christianity with European imperialism imposed upon a noble people. This is now so widespread that recently we were even treated to the spectacle of a newly elected South American president sacrificing to the pagan gods before taking office!
In Apocalypto Gibson is challenging this romantic and fanciful reinterpretation. The Spanish when they appear seem to carry no weapons. There is only a friar bearing a Cross. The Mayans are the ones practising human sacrifice. Gibson juxtaposes two civilisations without comment leaving us to ask whether what is symbolised by the Cross is truly worse than the cult of the Sun?
Thursday, January 11, 2007
For catering purposes we like to know how many are coming and encourage people to send us an email at Southwark Vocations. If anyone would like more information please contact us by email and we will happily answer your questions.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
He has committed some work to me
which he has not committed to another.
I have my mission;
I never may know it in this life,
but I shall be told it in the next.
I have a part in a great work;
I am a link in a chain,
a bond of connection between persons.
He has not created me for naught.
I shall do good,
I shall do His work;
I shall be an angel of peace,
a preacher of truth in my own place,
while not intending it,
if I do but keep His commandments
and serve Him in my calling.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Dear Married Couples,
I want to speak to you today about the greatest honour your marriage and family can possibly have. I mean when God takes for himself “his part” of the family, as a friend and almost, as it were, as if begging for your help.
God has blessed your marriage and given you children. Someday, you do not know when, he may knock on the door of your home in just the same way as once he walked along the shores of Lake Tiberias and called Zebedee’s two sons to follow him. Just think, it is from faithful Catholic families such as yours that Christ and the Church will choose the ministers and apostles of his Gospel, the priests who take care of the Church, and the missionaries who cross the oceans to teach and save souls. If the Divine Master comes and asks for “his part” – one of your children, whom he has called to be a priest, a religious, or a nun – what will you do? What will become of the holy inspirations that have spoken to their hearts, and his voice whispering to them: “Do you love me? Will you follow me?” In God’s name I beg you not to stifle in their souls their openness to the Divine Call.
If some day God grants you the great honour of calling one of your children for this service, recognise the value and privilege entailed in so many graces that this call involves: graces for your child who receives the call, for yourselves, and for your entire family. This is a great gift from heaven coming into your home. You place the flower and fruit of your marriage on the altar, to live consecrated to the Lord and to souls. Just think of the number of sacrificial offerings and prayers he will offer for you and the rest of the family. Each day these prayers will accompany your steps, your actions and needs; they will be more intense and frequent in your saddest and most difficult times; they will follow and comfort you your whole life long, until your last breath and even beyond. Never think that in giving their hearts totally to our Lord they will love you with a love that is less tender or less strong; love for God does not negate or destroy nature, rather it perfects and elevates it to a higher level where the charity of Christ touches the human heart. If the dignity and the austerity of the priestly or consecrated life require giving up certain expressions of affection, have no doubt, the affection itself will never weaken or grow tepid. This sacrifice will cause their affection to burn more deeply and still more intensely, free from all self-seeking. God will share these hearts with you alone.
Do not be afraid of the gift of the holy vocation that has come down from heaven to rest upon your children. If you believe, and if love has raised you to a new level, is it not a comfort and joy to see your own son at the altar clothed with the priestly vestments, offering the sacrifice of the Mass and praying for his mother and father? Is it not a great consolation, that makes a mother’s heart beat with love for her daughter, to see her consecrated to Christ, serving him and loving him with all her being?
Think of a priest who has been close to your family or visited you, giving attention and guidance to you and your children, and bringing you happiness. What family did he come from? Where did he come from to be with you? Who sent him? Who formed in his heart such a fatherly love for you, such words of counsel and friendship? The Church sent him. Christ sent him.
How deep will your Christian spirit really be if you back away from the honour of cooperating and helping in the work of spreading the Faith and the Catholic church not merely with material help but also with the very precious gift of your children that God is asking of you?
Dear Married Couples, help the Church, the Spouse of Christ; help Christ, the Saviour of men, with the fruit of your marriage. Give God the portion of your blessing he is asking you for out of your home.
Pius XII, March 25th, 1942
In the Office of Readings for Advent, there is a very powerful reading from St John of the Cross in which he compares the “Old Law” with the “Law of the Gospel”. He is comparing the covenant made with the people of Israel to the covenant established in Jesus Christ. Under the Old Law, he says, it was entirely appropriate to seek visions and revelations from God. But, with the establishment of the Law of the Gospel, the need for such visions and revelations has disappeared:
“When he gave us, as he did, his Son,who is his one Word, he spoke everything to us, once and for all in that one Word. There is nothing further for him to say.”
It would be foolish and offensive, St John continued, to be putting questions to God and seeking specific answers. All we need to do is to fix our eyes on Christ but without seeking anything “new”. These are wise words containing a message that still needs to be received today. All of us, in fact, ask questions of God, whether implicitly or explicitly. Sometimes it just takes a news bulletin to make us cry out “why?” It’s not easy to learn the lesson that in Jesus Christ we have the inexhaustible source of wisdom, understanding and knowledge.
In St John the Evangelist, whose feast we celebrate today, we are presented with someone who directly encountered the fullness of life and truth that are in Jesus Christ:
“Something which has existed since the beginning, that we have heard, that we have seen with our own eyes, that we have watched; this is our subject.”
John, like the other apostles, is the source of the Church’s “memory” of Jesus. From them flows the tradition of knowledge and understanding that is our Christian heritage.
In this Christmas season, we Christians proclaim the moment in history when things became forever different. As we heard in the Christmas liturgy: “A child has been born to us, a son has been given to us. He is Christ the Lord.” To some, the proclamation of that message means nothing. It is fanciful – a myth handed on from the ancient world. But for those who have received the gift of faith, and struggle to live by it, things are different. We cannot simply hear the message and do nothing about it. For the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ to be a source of grace, a source of wisdom and understanding, we, like the shepherds on Christmas night, must go to meet the Lord. We go to meet him in the scriptures, in silent prayer and very specially in the Eucharist which we see and touch. A life of prayer and of engagement with the sacraments of the Church takes us into a voyage of discovery in which Jesus Christ comes alive to us and we grow in personal knowledge of him.
St John the Evangelist is a kind of icon of progressive and intimate knowledge of Jesus. He laid his head on Christ’s breast at the last supper. He was present at the foot of the cross when he died. He saw blood and water flow from the side of Christ. Our journey to deeper knowledge of Jesus will take us to the cross but also to the source of living water.
All this is vital for those for whom we exercise priestly ministry. It must be pondered by those considering a vocation. All Christians bring Christ to one another but the priest,in virtue of his sacramental office makes the living Christ present in the world through the sacraments and most significantly through the Eucharist in the form of bread and wine. He makes it possible for people to “see” and “touch” the Risen Lord. He gives what no one else can, and what people most deeply need.
A vocation to the priesthood is a tough life but it is the best possible life for those who are called to it. The key to happiness and effectiveness in the priesthood is our personal, developing and growing relationship to Jesus. If that is in place, or moving into place, then we will receive the healing, the vision, and the confidence to minister to God’s people in a very special way of life – a road less travelled, marked by the cross, but full of beauty, of abundant life and of great rewards.
Saturday, January 06, 2007
10th February - at the Holy Ghost
23rd June - venue to be confirmed
29th September - at the Hermitage, West Malling.
Friday, January 05, 2007
The Holy Father also speaks of the danger of a priest forgetting that God must be the centre of his life and so giving himself over to a form of activism: 'If this centrality of God in a priest's life is lost, little by little the zeal in his actions is lost. In an excess of external things the centre that gives meaning to all things and leads them back to unity is missing. There, the foundation of life, the "earth" upon which all this can stand and prosper, is missing'.
Basing one's life on him, renouncing marriage and the family, means that I accept and experience God as a reality and that I can therefore bring him to men and women'.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
In this great video we hear Pope John Paul speaking about his growing awareness of being called to priesthood. Fr Benedict Groeschel speaks of the 'John Paul Generation' - all over the world there young people inspired by this great Pope to commit themselves to the New Evangelisation. Many, many of them have responded to the call to priesthood or religious life.
I've recently completed the application process for diocesan priesthood [not Southwark, ed.]. I just wanted to say thank you.
The process has had lots of ups and downs and your blog has been really helpful. I'm currently a doctor and to say that my friends and colleagues are dead against my decision wouldn't do their vehemence justice! The blog has really helped when I've felt disheartened or 'alien' in my decision making process. It seems that I'm not on my own after all! Thanks for making it seem a lot more normal.
If you are considering a vocation to the priesthood and would like to talk it about it to someone send us and email at Southwark Vocations.
Monday, January 01, 2007
It offers basic Catholicism, although it's style isn't necessarily everyone's cup of tea. Click here to download a sixty second taster!