Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Resistance and the beauty of the family.

Many of you will have heard that Tony Blair is not willing to give the Catholic Church an exemption in the gay adoption issue. So here we are on Orthfully Catholic to encourage our brethren to keep up the good fight and resist in any way you can.

The government is effectively discriminating against the consciences of Catholics and other religious groups. Our duty, after much prayer, is not to bow down before any form of dictatorship. This government, to quote the Cardinal, is laying down "new moral norms".
We must resist this attack on family values and our consciences. Indeed, as the Cardinal has said, most people would agree that the best environment for raising children is with a mother and a father who are together. The family matters! This is what our motto must be. The family matters!

At this most crucial time in the fight for the sanctity and beauty of marriage and the family may we point our readers to Matt and Wendy Doyle's blog:

Wendy Doyle recently gave birth to a daughter, Madeleine . Thanks be to God!

This is what a family should be. With the grace of God little Maddy will grow and develop in family with a mother and a father. What stability for a future member of our society and the Church! Praise God!

Little Sisters of the Poor

If you want something uplifting to read, Andrew has a really beautiful article on Sr Jeanne du Coeur Immaculée, a Little Sister of the Poor who is celebrating her golden jubilee.

When asked about her cheery outlook in life, Sr Jeanne who looks at least two decades younger than her age smiled and said:

“I always talk to God and tell him everything. It’s the same as talking to a friend.

“If I have any secret to my happy life as a nun, it’s that I always turn to God – always,’ chuckled Sr Jeanne, her eyes twinkling merrily.

I really love the Little Sisters of the Poor. As a seminarian, I visit many retirement and nursing homes. Most give an acceptable physical care, although one I used to visit was closed down and another had its matron disciplined by the nursing council for neglect. Some actually give very good care. Most, however, have a fairly bleak atmosphere. Few of the staff are working there because they feel a vocation to caring for the old. Often the residents are sat on a chair in a room full of other people and stay there, doing nothing for the whole day. These are people who are still mentally alert, yet they're treated as if they're somehow less than that.

The Little Sisters' homes, by contrast, are amazing. You immediately sense the profound love the Sisters have for each resident. They provide an enormous range of activities for those who can participate, and wonderful smiles and affection for those who can't. They have daily Mass in their Chapel for those who can attend, and often have a camera fitted so that those who can't attend can watch the Mass on a TV in their room.

I have met many Little Sisters, in several of their homes. They all radiate a joy and energy that comes from their great love of the Lord, and time spent in adoration. Their compassion is a competent one - they are never afraid of doing the difficult aspects of caring for the elderly, and doing so in a way that preserves their dignity.

May the Lord inspire new vocations to the Little Sisters. Blessed Jeanne Jugan - pray for us, that we may grow in love and tenderness to our most fragile brothers and sisters.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Tablet

I have just read Fr Tim's post on this magazine's attitude toward the terrible battle the Church is fighting in this country. Making jokes about The Tablet, such as, 'I wish there was a Catholic Journal as good as this' is no longer a laughing matter. I believe it to be in schism and think the Bishops need to do something about it! The editor needs to be put in line! If he continues to print anti-catholic articles he needs to be told either to stop scandalising the Church or to make it a Protestant Journal!

I'm sure no Orthfully Catholic readers are Tablet readers (except of course to know thine enemy) but we must have some sort of boycott campaign! Try to convince your Parish Priest to stop subscribing to it, our seminary ended its subscription last year. Do anything to stop Christ's faithful from reading the heresy within its pages!

Requiescat in Pace

If anyone knows Pluscarden Abbey you may be interested to know that I received an e-mail from a former Junior that Br Nicholas OSB, died suddenly on Friday morning. Please pray for the repose of his soul.

Seminary video

If you're still in a video watching mood, the new video from St Paul Seminary in the States is well worth watching. Click here then on the "Saint Paul Seminary Video" link on the left of the page.

Monastic Family of Bethlehem of the Assumption of the Virgin and of St. Bruno

Fr Ray Blake asked for more information on this community. They were founded in 1950 following the declaration of the dogma of the Assumption. They are strongly inspired by the Carthusians, living an essentially eremitical life. There are communities of both men and women, although there are rather more of the latter. They also have a strong Eastern influence. They have Eastern Rite Office and Roman Rite Mass. The Blessed Sacrament is reserved in each of their hermitages and Eucharistic Adoration is a big part of their charism.

They don't have much of a web presence, but here's a semi-official description:

The Monastic Family of Bethlehem and of the Assumption of the Virgin was founded on November 1, 1950, at St. Peter's Square in Rome, when Pope Pius XII proclaimed the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The inspiration which a group of French pilgrims then received may be expressed in this way:

That throughout the world there may exist religious communities devoted to silent adoration, striving to live in continual reference to what the Virgin Mary lives in heaven where she has been taken up with her soul and her body, into the glory of the Three Divine Persons, hidden for ever with Christ in God.

The vocation of the communities consists in listening to the Gospel with the Virgin Mary in the heart of the Church, in love, in solitude, through liturgical life, study, work and poverty. In order to fulfil this vocation more perfectly, the Monasteries of Bethlehem receive St. Bruno's fatherhood and his wisdom of life.

The first community of sisters began in 1951. The Monks' Community was founded in 1976, in the Massif of Chartreuse. As of 1996, there were 450 Sisters in 25 monasteries disseminated in eight countries and 45 monks in 3 monasteries.

I'm considering doing the month-long retreat they offer for young adults in July at Les Montsvoirons, near the French-Swiss border. If you're interested in this, or in going on retreat to them, you can write (preferably with s.a.e.) to:

Monastère Notre-Dame de la Gloire-Dieu
Les Montsvoirons
74420 Boëge

The Canadian house is at:

Monastère Sainte Marie Reine des coeurs
3095, chemin Marie Reine des cœurs
J0K 3K0

The American house is:

Monastery Our Lady in Beatitude
393 Our Lady of Lourdes Camp Road
Livingston Manor
NY 12758

Monday, January 29, 2007

Monastic Community of Bethlehem, The Assumption and St Bruno

Someone very kindly drew my attention to a new video of one of my favourite monastic communities, that of Bethlehem, The Assumption and St Bruno. St Gildas would undoubtedly have approved of this community.

Update: Emile-James, the creator of this slideshow has pointed out that you can only see about half of it when watching on blogs. The full version can be seen here.

More info on the community can be found in my other post.

St Gildas

Well, yes, he probably doesn't feature in your Diocesan ordo either, but nonetheless today is the feast day of St Gildas. Gildas, pictured here boldly steering a course through my bookshelves, is of course my blogging patron. If you want to know more about him, there are biographies here and here. His De excidio Britannae liber querulus has been placed online by the Medieval Sourcebook. Arguably the earliest, and undoubtedly the most innacurate of British historians, he actually spent most of his life in France. If you want to go on a Gildas pilgrimage, you can visit the splendid Church at St Gildas de Rhuys, where he established a monastery, and the nearby island of Houat where he lived as a hermit and eventually died.

Why does Gildas appeal so much to me? He has a tremendous humility, which I seek but definitely fail to emulate. He has a great heart for evangelisation, that takes him into mission territory with great pastoral zeal. He also has a deep yearning for silence, for solitude. He repeatedly withdraws to be alone with God.

Here is his charming description of Britain:

The island of Britain, situated on almost the utmost border of the earth, towards the south and west, and poised in the divine balance, as it is said, which supports the whole world, stretches out from the south-west towards the north pole, and is eight hundred miles long and two hundred broad, except where the headlands of sundry promontories stretch farther into the sea. It is surrounded by the ocean, which forms winding bays, and is strongly defended by this ample, and, if I may so call it, impassable barrier, save on the south side, where the narrow sea affords a passage to Baltic Gaul. It is enriched by the mouths of two noble rivers, the Thames and the Severn, as it were two arms, by which foreign luxuries were of old imported, and by other streams of less importance. It is famous for eight and twenty cities, and is embellished by certain castles, with walls, towers, well barred gates, and houses with threatening battlements built on high, and provided with all requisite instruments of defence. Its plains are spacious, its hills are pleasantly situated, adapted for superior tillage, and its mountains are admirably calculated for the alternate pasturage of cattle, where flowers of various colours, trodden by the feet of man, give it the appearance of a lovely picture. It is decked, like a man's chosen bride, with divers jewels, with lucid fountains and abundant brooks wandering over the snow white sands; with transparent rivers, flowing in gentle murmurs, and offering a sweet pledge of slumber to those who recline upon their banks, whilst it is irrigated by abundant lakes, which pour forth cool torrents of refreshing water.

St Gildas - pray for us, that nourished by our time in Christ's presence we may be zealous workers for the New Evangelisation.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Tablet and Gay Adoptions

Father Tim Finigan has an EXCELLENT article concerning the Tablet's latest attempts to undermine Catholic teaching on homosexuality and adoption by gay couples. Please take time to read it. It is essential that we support our Bishops and priests at this crucial time. The link is

God bless

Be not afraid!

When I was growing up, because of our family circumstances, a Priest would come to our house to hear our confessions. As a result, I'd never actually been to confession in a confessional. When I left home to go to university, I really wanted to do so, but I wasn't sure exactly how. I could remember being taught it at school, but I'd long since forgotten. I looked around in various places for a guide on how to go to confession, but couldn't find anything. Finally I decided to do what would have been sensible to do in the first place - go to confession and tell the Priest I wasn't sure what the exact procedure was. By this stage I'd done things that really needed confessing, and I was actually quite scared of going to confession. I prayed for a long time before going to the Church and realised that I was actually shaking with nerves. I then happened to look down at a book I had by Pope John Paul the Great. On the back was written "Be not afraid". It was like a personal message that immediately reassured me and gave me a wonderful confidence as I went to confession, something that really unblocked a whole range of things to me. Looking back now I realise that it was from then that the path was opened again to me to rediscover my vocation to Priesthood that I'd pushed aside for a number of years.

I was very struck by Pope Benedict's inaugural homily when he also said "Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life."

At the moment I'm facing a big decision and need to really find the courage to follow Christ's call without fear. I'd be grateful for your prayers.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Shortage of Priests.

This is a article written by an American Priest. It's well worth the read

4. The Priest Shortage. Few people consider the "priest shortage" to be a slogan. They point out these facts: We have fewer priests in the United States than we had thirty years ago. Not only that, but the average age of U.S. priests has gone up alarmingly. At the same time the Catholic population in this country keeps increasing—mainly because of immigration. More Catholics + fewer priests = shortage.

The response to this problem used to be pretty straightforward: work harder with young people to cultivate vocations, involve more lay people in pastoral ministry, take good care of the priests we already have and above all, pray to the Lord of the Harvest. And not everything is bleak. There are dioceses and religious orders right here in the U.S. which are receiving impressive numbers of candidates. Why not study what they are doing, and try to imitate it?

All this seems most reasonable. However, things are not so simple in the U.S. Catholic Church. The "priest shortage" has been used in amazing ways. I remember when I was taking an orientation course back in Maryknoll, NY. There were about 20 of us, ten sisters and the same number of priests. The sister who ran the course suggested we should not have daily Mass because when we get in the missions it won't always be possible. Better to prepare now. We priests, dumb wimps that we are, all nodded obediently, "You must be right, Sister." It took one of the sisters to cut through the baloney. She pointed out the obvious: we were Westchester County, not the jungles of Brazil and we had a surplus of priests in the room.

Some of the folks who talk most about the "priest shortage" do not in fact want priests. They desire a whole new "model" of church. It can be summed up in one word: egalitarianism. We are all the same and hierarchy is an affront to human dignity. Jeanne Dixon (may she rest in peace) could have enhanced her reputation by making this astonishing prediction: "Women's Ordination Conference will oppose ordination of women." Yet that is exactly what they did. They argued that the priesthood is so enmeshed with the notion of hierarchy that it would be wrong for women (or anyone) to seek ordination! To grasp this apparent contradiction, one needs to recognize that their real goal is to level the church. It turns out that the leveling process not only applies to Holy Orders, but to church doctrine as well.

In one way the leveling process (especially in catechetics) has already solved the priest shortage. It has eliminated from Sunday Mass most of our young adults—and could quickly drive immigrants out of the Church. I have no doubt that our young people have drifted away or joined evangelical churches, because we gave them no positive reason for being Catholic. I have on occasion tried to get catechetical leaders to see what happens when we relativize the faith. Flannery O'Conner said it most pithily, "If Holy Communion is just a sign, the hell with it." Our young people have come to that eminently logical conclusion.

I do not believe that making us all the same is the solution to the priest shortage. Not that I cling to any supposed privileges in being a priest. All in all, it is a burden, but one I and other priests joyfully embrace because we believe this is God's will for us individually and that the priesthood is at the heart of the Church which Jesus established.

What then is the solution? Jesus has already given it, "The harvest is plentiful, but laborers are few. Therefore pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send out laborers." Pope St. Gregory applied that first of all to his own priests. "There are many priests," he said, "but few laborers." We need to pray to be pushed out ourselves into the harvest. But something also happens to the lay people who pray for priestly vocations. The Lord illumines them why they need priests. We have less priests because people need us less. Consider that many priests after Vatican II went to study psychology. They believed that what the folks wanted from us was good counseling. Perhaps we felt that way because so few were coming to confession. People did not recognize that what they really needed from their priests was Christ's healing forgiveness. The answer, "Pray."

Prayer for priestly vocations would also help us understand the Mass which Vatican II calls the "source and summit of the Christian life." People have come to expect a lot from the Mass: to be uplifted, consoled, made welcome, inspired, fed, etc. All those are not the heart of the Eucharist, only desirable by-products. For a variety of reasons we have made Sunday Mass so complex that it has become too much for some of our priests. They sit on the sidelines—or have been shuffled to the bench. The answer to all this is not more organization, but what Our Lord commanded, "Pray."

Perhaps prayer would lead us to discover a place for those priests now sidelined. A simpler Sunday Mass might result and be a draw to people alienated by our present way of celebrating. I offer this suggestion with some trepidation because as pastor of a medium size parish, I know the importance of the Sunday liturgy for promoting a variety of parish programs and activities. Anyone who reads my homilies can see I am trying to move forward a complex operation. Still, if the Sunday Mass is the bridge between the people and God, we need to consider how to put less weight on that already sagging structure. The answer is not another liturgical manual, but the one Jesus gave, "Pray." Only prayer can enable us to overcome our numbness and lethargy to face the challenge Jesus has placed before us.

Formation or training?

I was talking to a former Anglican Priest this morning. He made a very interesting point about the Anglican training for priesthood. This is much shorter than ours - two or three years as opposed to six or seven for us. My friend suggested that since he had done his training, the understanding of it had changed. The Anglican training is now just that; training rather than formation. He thinks that many Anglicans now have a basically functional understanding rather than being focused on esse.

It made me think about how much our formation is focused on forming rather than training us. Actually, I think precious little of what we do in the Seminary is actually practical training for what we'll be doing afterwards.

As an example, I've now done a fair amount of teaching, of everyone from year 4 to year 13. I've given innumerable assembllies, run retreat days for schools, marked work and written submissions for OFSTED inspections. Most teachers do at least a year of teacher training, where they presumably learn things like teaching techniques, marking, discipline, etc. They also get supervision and feedback from experienced teachers. I've had a grand total of zero hours of training and supervision (as generations of bemused children will doubtless tell you).

To be honest, I don't think practical training is that important. You pick up most things fairly quickly in a parish simply by doing them. What the Seminary does primarily, in my view and experience is to form you, to shape you to put on the heart and mind of Christ. Through study, and primarily through prayer I am formed into being a Priest.

Pro-Life Petition

Hi all,

This is just a quick post to let you know about the petition below. Its a petition set up to demand and end to killing hunderds of Children each day in this country.

Please do your part, in the fight for LIFE.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


I've been having a major tidying session, and am rather pleased to have filled a large black bin bag full of paper. In the course of this, I've found all sorts of interesting things I'd forgotten I had. I thought you might enjoy a few thoughts I'd copied out when I was having an Isaac the Syrian phase:

"Be every man's friend, but in your mind remain alone"

"That which befalls a fish out of water, befalls the mind that has come out of the remembrance of God and wanders in the remembrance of the world"

"The cell of a solitary is the cleft in the rock where God spoke with Moses, as the Fathers say"

Also, Maurice Zundel, writing on the mission of contemplative communities, which is "to open the world to God, by living so intensely in His presence that it may become an all consuming fire"

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Give Me Sensible Reasons to Believe

The Church's teaching on sex... what's that all about then?

At a time where sex is everywhere, the teaching of the Catholic Church on the matter can seem anything from out of touch to down-right ridiculous. A group of young people who've struggled with the same decisions we all face on how to live our sexuality in a culture that tells us that, "anything goes" have put together a day's conference in February...

Do you…

Want sensible answers to real life problems?

Think the Catholic Church's teaching about sex is stupid and wildly outdated?

Convinced nobody in their right mind actually practices what the Church teaches?

Considering becoming a Catholic but this area of life appears to be an obstacle?

Stuck in a relationship that is going nowhere or somehow just lost your way?

Are you a non-Catholic asking why do Catholics say "that"?

Feeling unprepared despite a Catholic upbringing for modern day sexual moral dilemmas?

A young parent or teacher looking for a method to communicate the good news about sex?

If so, this conference is for you…

This Conference Will...

• Have a practical focus on the most challenging aspects of the Church's teaching that confront young people
• Have straightforward explanations -no previous knowledge assumed
• Answer difficult questions -your opportunity to ask 'why?'
• Explore how all of this teaching about sex and relationships ties in with the God of infinite love
• Have a relaxed atmosphere so you can spend the day how you choose: join in and have your say, or sit back and remain anonymous
• Include down-to-earth communicators and no complex religious language
• Feature confident young Catholics sharing their sensible reasons for saying yes to the teaching of Jesus Christ and the Church He founded

Topics to be Explored

Sex Before Marriage
• OK, maybe sleeping around isn't good, but is all sex before marriage wrong?
• The language of sex – what should sex 'say'?

Living Together
• Surely it's sensible to try it out first?!
• What's so special about marriage anyway?
• Divorce seems so common...

Physical Relationships
• Is it possible to fancy each other and not get too physical?
• How far is too far?
• It's about love not lust

• Blob of jelly or unborn child?!
• How abortion hurts women
• All human beings have infinite value

• What's the big deal with contraception?
• Isn't it the lesser of two evils?
• Natural Family Planning: What is it? Does it work?

• Isn't sexual preference a private issue? Why does it matter?
• If two people love each other, isn't that all that counts?
• Are condoms OK in HIV prevention?

The speakers are all young committed Catholics who are living in the real world. These issues are a part of their lives as they are of yours.

'The Church's teaching is a goldmine; getting into it has radically changed how I experience and appreciate my sexuality. I'm increasingly free, confident and really happy in being a woman.'
Emily Davis, Conference Speaker

'We both feel that having an understanding of and living by the Church's teaching on sex and marriage has blessed us beyond measure.
Our marriage and our future are continually being shaped and enriched through choosing to live in accordance with these truths.'
Cassie and Tom Hall, Conference Speakers

When & Where?

Saturday 24th February 2007

Westminster Cathedral Hall
Ambrosden Avenue
London SW1P 1QH

5 minutes walk from Victoria Tube and Railway Station, 10 minutes from Victoria Coach Station

The Conference costs just £5 which includes lunch and refreshments. To register please send the form available online here (pdf file) to the address given, or contact Dr Charlie O'Donnell on 020 8491 6510 (evenings only) or charles dot odonnell300 at ntlworld dot com with any questions.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Desperate need of prayers

I would urge all our readers to pray at this time for the Catholic Church in this country. You may or may not be aware that plans are afoot which deeply discriminate against the conscience of Catholics. The proposed plans are to force Catholic adoption agencies to permit gay couples to adopt children. To do otherwise would constitute an illegal act. Also Catholic schools will be forced to teach homosexuality in their sex education.
Again any action that upholds Catholic teaching on these matters will be deemed a criminal act of discrimination.

Please pray that the Church will be given the strength to resist this very obvious attack from the devil.

Also pray that those who plan such legislation will see the hypocrisy in their deeds. Surely one of the greatest acts of discrimination possible is the violation of a person's conscience.

Christians will be forced to act against their cherished beliefs and the truths given to us by Our Lord. We must all pray for the strength to defend the Truth and the Gospel. We must also pray for the grace to offer to God something which is nothing short of martyrdom, albeit white.

Seminarians of the world unite!

Following from my earlier post, I am delighted to report that yet another new seminarian has joined the Orthfully Catholic team. A very warm welcome to Lumen Christi, who has already provided a beautiful first post. Please keep us in your prayers that this blog may help foster the New Evangelisation and help us and anyone who reads it to draw closer to Christ.

The Orthfully Catholic team (well, most of us, anyway) will soon be going on pilgrimage to Walsingham to dedicate ourselves again to Our Lady of Walsingham. Walsingham is a particularly special place for me because it was there that I finally decided to respond to God's call to Priesthood. Mary has been very present with me throughout my life and particularly as I go through the Seminary. If you have any special intentions that you would like us to take to Walsingham, feel free to leave a comment (and if you want to keep the intention private specify that you don't want it published).

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Well just been to a lovely evening mass which was said by an old priest friend of mine who is very frail at the moment. Even though he is frail, he is still managing his parish and still preaching the true and life giving message of the Gospel. This man has given his full life to God, and through the power of the Holy Spirit has remained a good, holy and passionate priest. Its people like him who inspired and continue to inspire because like the late great John Paul II, they gave their all for Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth and the life. Yet even with all these great qualities these men remain Humble of heart.

Sunday is such a wonderful day because it gives me the chance to be with God in prayer. Of course I enjoy myself, but I do have that extra time to recollect myself and to gather my thoughts. What wonderful way to begin the week by celebrating the reassurection of Our Lord and God in the Form of Holy Mass.

In our liturgy, we start to see a shift in the theme going through the Gospel. The Churches liturgical year ties in with the seasons which is often spectacular because it helps us associate the season with the theme of the Gospel itself. We see now as the days start to get longer, an emphasis on the light of Christ coming into the world. Its a reminder that we are all called to be lights of Christ in the world, a light that will never fade, a light that will shine and guide others to eternity. Remember this when you proclaim at the beggining of the easter vigil "Lumen Christi". Be a light of Jesus Christ.

Youth 2000....... Just bad music?

I recently heard some comments (or did I read them?) about Youth 2000. They were generally negative and not very constructive. They went something like: Bad music and Ziggurats!

Personally I found this quite unfair. Okay I'll admit it: I am not too keen on their music!
BUT I will have to say something in their defence. They have managed to get many young people interested in Jesus Christ truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. Wherever Jesus is honoured in His Eucharistic presence something good is happening.

So it's not all Latin chant. Hey you can't have everything you know!!!

I must say I am pretty impressed with Youth 2000. I know that I am biased because I am just nuts about adoration. But Youth 2000 have got it essentially right. Put Jesus at the centre of your life and you'll be fine.

Also I do have a little plea to make to any priests reading this. Have you ever thought about inviting Youth 2000 to your parish? Maybe you're like me and you aren't keen on the music. But nevertheless they are adoring Jesus, our Saviour and our God.

The reason I say this is because when I was on pastoral placement last year I came in contact with a Youth 2000 prayer group. They were so faithful to adoration, week in and week out. I was very inspired.

Also another place that has inspired me is Holy Ghost parish in Balham. There the parish priest, Fr. Stephen Langridge, has the annual Youth 2000 New Year retreat. Personally I have never been on it. I have, however, spoken to Fr. Stephen and found out that hundreds go to it each year.

Conversions, good and holy confessions and even vocations spring forth.
So it can't be bad, eh?

Perhaps today in our negative climate there is a tendency among good, sound Catholics to see everything black and bleak. And we are tempted to be negative over things like Youth 2000. But perhaps we should try and see it as Our Lord would. They are here, they are adoring Him and for love of Him they are leaving their prayer meetings determined to change their lives.

There's alot for us to think about in this and maybe learn.

God bless


I love Sunday. I always get out of bed with an extra buzz and excitement at celebrating the resurrection. I actually tried to have a lie-in this morning, and failed miserably.

I often treat myself to an extra Te Deum to celebrate. This morning it's a fab 1960 recording from Clervaux.

Hope your Sunday proves equally blessed.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

New Team member

Another seminarian has agreed to join the Orthfully Catholic team. Deo gratias!

The blood of martyrs

Fr John Boyle had a post listing the Martyrs for 2006 – those who died at the Service of the Gospel last year. It made a powerful impact on me. These modern-day martyrs are the seeds of today's Church. I recently did a set of school assemblies titled "what's the point of being a Christian?" (yes, my plagiarism of other people's book titles is completely shameless).

What is the point? Is it just a nice thing to do? A psychological comfort blanket for those who can't cope without faith? Is it something that's ok for you to believe in if you want to, so long as you don't claim it's universally true? At the end of the day it comes down to one question: was Jesus Christ a nice guy with some interesting ethical teachings, or was he God who came down to live among us? I wouldn't be standing here in front of you if I didn't believe that's exactly what he was, if I hadn't been transformed by a profound personal encounter with Him.

Ok, you might say, but what evidence do you have for this? How can we know that it's true? I think one of the most powerful pieces of evidence comes from the Apostles. You've all heard the account of them sitting together in the Upper Room after Jesus' death. They're in a state of shock, of fear and panic. And Jesus comes and transforms them. That's real. They go from fear to confidence – confidence in the risen Jesus who they've met and touched. Their transformation is so complete that they're willing to die for Him. And the list of people who've given themselves so completely to the God who became man to save us doesn't stop there. In every age of the Church's history men and women have died for their faith – and for your faith – so that you might be given the gift of that faith as well.

I went on to show pictures and talk about St Margaret Clitherow, the monks of Tibhirine and a priest who died last year. I could tell from the attention I got from the students (and indeed from comments afterwards) that this approach really grabbed their attention. There are people today, in 2007, who are willing to die for their faith. It made some of them think twice about their own faith.

Friday, January 19, 2007

What are you doing on Monday night?

Signing off

A friend sent me an email which she finished with "In Christ's love", which I thought was rather lovely. How do you normally finish?

I tend to go for:

Yours in Christ Jesus,
In Christ
In Domino
In union of prayer
love and prayers
best wishes and prayers...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Guild of Our Lady of Ransom

The Guild has three purposes:

The Conversion of England and Wales
The Restoration of the Lapsed
Prayer for the Forgotten Dead

You can be a member in three ways:

White Cross Ransomers (priests) undertake to offer Mass at least once a year for the intentions of the Guild and makes a donation at their own discretion on enrolment.

Red Cross Ransomers (including me) undertake to say the Guild prayer daily, pay an annual subscription of at least £2 or a Life subscription of £10, and be active in the work of the Church as opportunity offers.

Blue Cross Ransomers undertake to say the Guild prayer daily and pay £1 on enrolment.

If you wnt to join, write with a cheque to:

31 Southdown Road,
SW20 8QJ

They also publish fantastic material on the English saints and martyrs and organise Masses and pilgrimages. If you're not already a member, this could be an ideal time to join. Perhaps this week would also be a good time to pray the prayer of Dedication of England to the Blessed Virgin Mary from the Ransom prayer book:

O Immaculate Virgin Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Mother of Grace,
and Queen of the kingdom of thy Son,
humbly kneeling before thee,
we offer thee this country in which we live.
It once was thine.
Before it was robbed of the holy Faith
all its children were thy children,
and thou wast honoured throughout its length and breadth
as its Protectress and its Queen.
Again do we consecrate it to thee;
again do we dedicate it as thine own Dowry.
We offer our own hearts,
that their love and service
may ever grow and increase.
We offer all our brethren
those multitudes who know thee so little
or know thee not at all.
May thy prayer bring back the country's ancient faith.
May thy intercession lead us to a closer union
with thy divine Son.
We consecrate ourselves to Him through thee.
Obtain for us,
and for England thy Dowry,
every grace and blessing,
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:

Holy Mother of God, Virgin ever blessed,
O Mary Immaculate, pray for us,
intercede for us, disdain not to help us.
For we are confident and know for certain
that thou canst obtain all thou willest from thy Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ,
God Almighty, the King of ages,
who lives with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
for ever and ever.


Mary and Christian Unity

As we begin the week of prayer for Christian unity, it can be easy to feel cynical, suspicious or just disengaged from the whole attempt. In many ways, we seem to have ground to a complete halt and some Churches and ecclesial communities actually seem to be moving further away from us by the day. As we drink bad tea at pointless ecumenical meetings, it's easy to feel disillusioned. Yet I remain strongly committed to bringing about Christian unity. Firstly because it affects me deeply on a personal level. My grandfather and many of my close friends are Orthodox, and I really long for the day when our Churches might be reunited. Secondly, and much more importantly because it's Christ's will that we might be one.

Last year, I was invited to preach at a local Anglican Church for the Sunday of this week of prayer. The Gospel was that of the wedding at Cana, and I decided to base my homily on Mary. Here's an extract:

It may seem tempting at times to take shortcuts in the search, to brush aside or ignore our differences. But this is ultimately doomed to failure. For the only true unity between our Churches will be one that is based on truth – on Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. In finding this authentic union, we can turn again to Mary as our guide.

Mary is a powerful model for Christian unity because her gaze is always fixed on Christ.
Mary is a model of holiness, faith and obedience for all Christians. Like the Angel we heard about in the book of revelation today, she says "I am a fellow-servant with you and your comrades who hold the testimony of Jesus. Worship God!". Mary always points us towards Jesus. And this is the key to Christian unity. "Do whatever he tells you" she says to the servants. "Do whatever he tells you", she says to us. She has total confidence in Jesus. We are called to follow Mary's example of humility before His truth. We will find that nothing that comes from Christ will stand in the way of unity. And so my hope is that we will consecrate ourselves more fully to Christ and so come to a time when we are no longer divided because we have entirely given ourselves over to become fellow-servants of Jesus.

I'd probably phrase it differently now, but I am still convinced that Mary is the key to Christian unity. How does this affect us concretely? There are two groups that I belong to that I believe are not well known enough: the Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Guild of our Lady of Ransom which I think I'll talk about in separate posts, as this one has rambled on long enough…

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I am a worm and no man

Twice this week in classes I have had to point out this new trend in Protestant-Catholic Theology that the Incarnation (God becoming Man) has made us equal with God. Saints in their writings and their recorded sayings have continuously through the ages pointed out that in the eyes of God, our Creator, we are as nothing, worthless, as the Psalmist points out 'I am a worm and no man'. When these sayings are brought up in class a number of our brothers argue against this, saying we are everything to God. I agree pointing out that we are the pinnacle of creation, the very reason God created the universe, but He still created us, we are still His creatures and therefore compared to Him we are as nothing!

It is utter humility to thank God, as St Therese did, that He has made us realise this. Do as St Francis did when someone asked him, 'Why do you think God has called you to this way of life?' He replied, 'Because He couldn't find anyone less worthy'. Society today is telling us not to be humble because humility makes us feel unworthy, useless, pointless. Why is this? Because society today is led by pride incarnate, Satan. As the Book of Wisdom says Satan's first sin was envous pride. Let us not fall into the sin of pride because it is a bottomless pit. Be humble. Say to yourself everyday, 'I am a worm and no man'. When you wake up in the morning get on the floor, kiss it, and say, 'Serviam'. And in your daily prayer thank God for this gift of humility.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

New Evangelisation

We hear a great deal about the new evangelisation and there are various exciting initiatives going on. I thought I'd share a few of my own thoughts on it. I've actually been changed quite considerably in the last couple of years as I've come to realise two things. The first was that although in theory I accepted that it was primarily the work of the Spirit rather than my own, I hadn't really fully taken this in. I wanted to see results and was disappointed with the lack of them. This was when I came to my second realisation: that Jesus is actually very inefficient in his means of evangelisation. The risen Jesus is present everywhere, but only reveals Himself to a chosen few. He doesn't go to the Temple and say "look, you crucified me and here I am, risen from the dead".

In his humility Jesus only shows himself to a few friends. Jesus spreads His message only through testimony. He has changed my heart and now I must spread that message to others. Evangelisation obviously also entails deepening the faith of those who already believe, but I'm thinking here of primary evangelisation of those who have no faith. This is an ever-expanding group in England. Last year I ran days for primary schools to come to our Church to learn a bit about Christianity. For many it was the first time they'd ever been to a Church.

I'm increasingly convinced that forming relationships is the key. Once I have formed a relationship of trust with someone, and they know that I am genuine in my faith, they can perhaps start to be drawn to it. There are fruits - a friend who will be baptised at easter, an email from someone I met saying that her "understanding of Christianity feels a little deeper and more rewarding". Often, though there's no sign at all, but this no longer discourages me. I've learnt to trust that God will do the evangelising and that the fruits come from Him working through me, not from anything that I do or say of myself. My joy is complete.

Monday, January 15, 2007


His name was Wilf. He was a Yorkshireman, in his early sixties and he was dying of cancer. He was also a Catholic, though he hadn't practised for a number of years, since the breakdown of his first marriage. One of our wonderful Catholic nurses picked up on this and told my Parish Priest. He went to see Wilf and reconciled him with the Church, giving him the sacraments. He then asked me to go and bring Wilf communion every day.

At the Seminary, we do a fair amount on death and dying, so I've read Kübler-Ross and know a bit about the process. By far the best thing we've done was a day with a Sister who'd devoted much of her life to accompanying the dying, and was a quiet source of tremendous wisdom. As a result of meeting her, I've learnt the importance of simply being present, of making sure that the presence lasts as long as the person I'm with wants, not how long I feel comfortable with. I learnt to value silence, and not to try to fill it with pious platitudes. I learnt the importance of touch, of how much people can value simply holding your hand.

As ever, I really started learning when I started actually doing, and I've now had the privilege of being with a number of people who were approaching death. My experiences have had very different effects on me. Sometimes these have been wonderful, grace-filled times, when I've really sensed God's presence. Others have been terrible, leaving me feeling completely helpless and inadequate. All of them have brought me closer to Christ.

All of the ways of dying have been different too. Some have taken me by surprise, with someone looking ok when I went to see them in the morning, and suddenly dying in the evening. Others have been long and drawn out, with the person often longing for the release of death. Still others have been very much at peace, quietly fading out.

Wilf wasn't like any of these. He didn't want to die. He'd rediscovered his faith, and he wanted to go out and evangelise. He wanted to tell everyone about the joy that he'd found in Christ. He wanted to go to Mass. He wanted to be a catechist. He wanted to make up for lost time.

What really struck me the most about Wilf was his love for the Eucharist. He'd always be delighted to see me, but the one he was longing to receive was Him. His emotion on receiving Christ's body was so great that he would cry. An articulate man, a former English teacher, he was completely lost for words in describing his feelings on receiving communion. He'd say "I can't tell you how much it means to me to receive communion". He may not have been able to express himself verbally, but his eyes told me.

He lived for another ten days after my Parish Priest first visited him. I was there when he received the last rites. His first anniversary is rapidly approaching. Would you say a prayer for the repose of his soul?

Sunday, January 14, 2007


Throughout 2007 in the UK we are going to be hearing, 'This year marks 200 years since the abolition of slavery' and countless stories of the thousands of men, women and children who died in appalling conditions on slave ships. But how many times do you expect to hear, 'This year marks 40 years since abortion was legalised in this country' and countless stories of the 6.6million babies murdered in the womb since 1967? I expect to hear none, I belong to two Pro-Life charities and have received nothing from them on this topic, no lobbies of parliament are planned as far as I'm aware, no letter writing campaigns, nothing!

So what do we do about this? Spread the word, tell people abortion has been legal in this country for 40 years now and STI's among our teenagers are at the highest in the world, marriages are more and more likely to fail within the first year, and worse still the 'medical' world are discovering easier and 'safer' ways to murder unborn children! We cannot let this go on!


I recently succumbed to temptation and started getting site statistics. Dilexit Prior and Fr Dwight Longenecker recently mentioned us in very generous terms, which has led to a big increase in North American visitors (Salve!), though we haven't reached the dizzy heights once achieved by David Palmer.

I was particularly honoured by the mention from Fr Dwight, as he's someone who really inspired my in his books. I actually read the Path to Rome (which he edited) while I was still at school.

My only other encounter with an adolescent inspiration was rather more disappointing. We actually had this very famous man come to my Parish. Even more excitingly the visit was organised by my then-girlfriend's parents, so I also got an invite to the party afterwards. The talk itself was amazing. You could sense the power and depth of this man's relationship with Jesus not just in what he said but in his very presence.

And then we had the party. To my astonishment, the great man actually came towards me, and looked like he was about to speak. I could hardly contain my anticipation. What words of wisdom was he about to impart? I was sure that they would stay with me for life. He gave me a big smile, opened his mouth and said "do you know where the toilets are?"

Saturday, January 13, 2007


Clifton Diocese has some new posters to welcome Poles to the Diocese, alongside their new Polish Directory. I think it's a brilliant initiative. In the parish I was in most recently, we used to get large numbers of parishioners from Poland and other countries in the former Eastern block who spoke little or no English. How do we welcome them? I was very struck by one man who asked me to teach him how to say "Praised be Jesus and for ever!" in English. He'd learnt the German equivalent when he was working in Germany. I actually did the same thing when I had a couple of months placement in a couple of parishes in Kenya. I'd learnt enough Swahili to have a very basic conversation, but learning "Tumsifu Yesu Kristu, milele ne milele!" brought a different dimension. We could communicate the the joy and excitement we had in our shared faith.

The thing I always find frustrating when I'm going to Mass overseas is not understanding the readings (unless I've brought my missal) and homily. I discovered that the Vienna International Religious Centre provide the Sunday readings in a variety of different languages on their website and made these available in the parish, where they were used by quite a number of people. I've since been to one or two other parishes which do the same thing. Do you have any other ideas?

Friday, January 12, 2007

St Aelred of Rievaulx

I really love St Aelred, one of the first Saints that I really got to know deeply. In thinking of Aelred, one's mind tends to go immediately to the Mirror of Charity or Spiritual Friendship. The text which has affected me the most, however, is his pastoral prayer. I came across this by chance (well, perhaps not entirely randomly - it was in the giftshop at Rievaulx) and have prayed with it often.

Here's an extract:

O good Shepherd Jesus, good, gentle, tender Shepherd: behold a wretched and pitiful shepherd cries out to you. He is weak and clumsy and of little use, but still he is a shepherd of your sheep. O good Shepherd, a shepherd who is not good cries out to you: anxious for himself, anxious for your sheep. You have entrusted them to this poor sinner, your servant, to rule. So I beg you sweet Lord, not for gold or silver or precious stones, but for wisdom, that I may know how to rule your people.

You know, Lord, my heart. You know that my desire is to devote wholly to their service whatever you have given your servant; to spend it completely for them. You know also that I am ready to be myself wholly spent, poured out, for them. May all I perceive and all I utter, my leisure and my occupation, my thoughts and my actions, my prosperity and my adversity, my life and my death, my health and my sickness, yes all that I am be spent on them, be poured out for them, for whom you yourself did not disdain to be poured out. Grant me, Lord, through your grace that is beyond our understanding, grant that I may bear their infirmities with patience, that I may have loving compassion for them, that I may come to their aid effectively. Taught by your Spirit may I learn to comfort the sorrowful, confirm the weak and raise the fallen. May I be myself one with them in their weaknesses, one with them when they burn at causes of offence, one in all things with them, and all things to all of them, so that I may gain them all. And since you have given them this blind leader, this unlearned teacher, this ignorant guide, if not for my sake then for theirs teach him whom you have made to be their teacher, lead him whom you have bidden to lead them, rule him who is their ruler.

Hear me, therefore, hear me, O Lord my God, and let your eyes be open on them day and night. Spread forth your wings in love and protect them; stretch out your holy right hand and bless them; pour into their hearts your Holy Spirit, that He may keep them in unity of spirit and in the bond of peace; chaste in their bodies, lowly in their minds. May He be present when they pray. May He fill their hearts with the rich abundance of your love. May He refresh their minds with sweet compunction, enlighten their hearts with grace, cheer them with hope, humble them with fear, kindle them with charity. May He suggest to them the petitions which you wish graciously to hear. May He be present in their meditations, that they may know you, and readily call on you when in adversity, or consult you when in doubt. O sweet Lord, by the working of your Holy Spirit may they be at peace within themselves, with one another and with me. May they be modest, kind and obedient; serving and supporting one another; fervent in spirit, rejoicing in hope, always patient: through poverty, through abstinence, through labours and vigils, in silence and in repose. Be in their midst according to your faithful promise. Inspire them, also, my God, to have of me who am your servant, and their servant for your sake, such an opinion as may profit them. May they have such love and fear of me as you see to be good for them. I for my part commit them into your holy hands and loving providence. May no one snatch them from your hand, nor from the hand of your servant to whom you have entrusted them. May they persevere with gladness in their holy purpose, and through their perseverance may they obtain everlasting life.

Reality junkies and Ordinary Time

A fellow seminarian told me of how his friend's daughter, annoyed at her mother's Catholicism yelled at her insultingly "OH you're such a reality junkie!"

This apparent insult is actually a deep compliment to those who desire to live out their Catholic faith.
Hearing this story lead me on quite a deep reflection. Please be patient with me, I have a powerful imagination!

So here I go: Can any of our readers imagine a crucified Buddha?
Please, I am not being disrespectful to Our Blessed Lord or, indeed, any buddhist reader here.
There is, however, a point to this. So what is it?

We live in a world which seeks to escape reality. Today there is nothing so popular as spiritual experiences with New Age practices. How many of us have heard of young adults of around 21 years of age back-packing in Asia and seeking spirituality in buddhist monasteries.

What does all this mean? And more importantly, what has a "crucifed buddha" got to do with anything?

Buddha, buddhism and New Age practices seek to provide a person with an escape. At best we can describe them as "Spiritual nihilisms". Indeed, Buddhism is classified as a non theistic religion. Essentially it is atheistic.

These new practices are very popular with westerners. They provide an escape from the ordinary and suffering in particular. In fact Buddhism teaches that Enlightenment or nirvana comes with the cessation of suffering.

It all sounds very attractive. But Catholicism is radically different. We preach a God incarnate who lived out the ordinary, whos uffered and was crucified and actually died.

When we compare these two paths we see two truths. The first: It is quite impossible to imagine a crucified Buddha, especially when we undesrtand these major differences.

Suffering is the path that Christ chose. Why? Because it is OUR path. Ordinary life consists in joys and sorrows. For many sorrow is a daily occurence. But our God knows it all and He transforms us through. He makes us like Him.

So we must rejoice at being reality junkies. We must rejoice now that we are in Ordinary time since God shares Himself with us in the Ordinary. In this way we will help others who are truly searching for the True answer. In our world full of escapist attitudes we must not escape but embrace reality. Only through reality do we find our deep true and lasting joy: Jesus Christ!
God bless

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Have you heard ... ?

I was debating with my Parish Priest recently about how to get people to receive Communion on the tongue. Of course I suggested teaching First Holy Communion children and RCIA candidates the Church's teaching on the matter and telling them that is how they will receive their First Holy Communion. However he pointed out that the parents will not allow their children to do it and the adults will not agree. He then told me he had read an article which said that in first century Jewish culture to place a piece of bread on the tongue of the guests at a meal was a sign of love and friendship so this is most certainly how Christ would have distributed Communion to His disciples. This would of course blow the whole, 'That's not how Jesus would have done it' argument completely out of the water! My PP promised to show me the article so I could quote it in similar arguments at the seminary but he didn't. Has anyone else read this article or heard this theory? I would be very interested to learn more about it!

Sacred space

Mulier Fortis has a post on mobile phones going off in Church. She gets unhappy with people who actually then take the call, something which I think is an increasing trend. In the past year, I've also seen:

- the best man at a wedding chew gum throughout the service.

- a family bring their breakfast with them to eat during the Mass: each child had a plastic bag full of cereals to tuck into with great relish.

- people verbally abuse a friar who was politely asking them not to stand in the space that was being kept clear for the entrance procession.

- a man stand on the Priest's chair in order to film the entrance procession at a First Communion, and then complain about being asked to move by the Priest.

Many of these incidents undoubtedly involved people who aren't used to being in Church, and perhaps reflects their nervousness at not being sure how to behave, but I think it also goes deeper than this. I've also seen a number of incidents involving people who are regular Mass-goers.

My brother was recently at a Mass where the Priest finished his announcements at the end of Mass with an innocuous joke. The leader of the music group didn't like the joke, and used his microphone to have an extensive rant about it.

I was at a Mass when the leader of the music group decided the Eucharistic prayer would be a good time to have a noisy discussion with the organist about the music for the following Sunday.

The Eucharistic Prayer also provided an ideal opportunity for the concelebrant at another Mass to pull out a camera from under his chasuble and start taking photos.

I think all of these incidents are due to a deeper sense of loss of the sacred, of what the Eucharistic sacrifice is about. On this topic I can strongly recommend David Torevell's excellent book Losing the Sacred.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Blessed Virgin Mary in the Life and Ministry of the Priest

Every aspect of priestly formation can be referred to Mary as to the human being who better than anyone has corresponded to the vocation of God; who has become the servant and disciple of the Word up until conceiving in her heart and in her flesh the Word made man in order to give him to humanity; who has been called to educate the unique and eternal Priest, docile and submissive to her motherly authority. With her example and through her intercession, the Blessed Virgin continues watching over the development of vocations and of the priestly life of the Church.

To her, the Mother of the Eternal High Priest, we want to entrust our priestly vocation, received with the imposition of hands on the day of our ordination, with which we are given the unmerited gift of being Alter Christus.

To her, who keeps her priests in her heart and in the Church, we want to entrust our pastoral work and the abundant harvest of the Lord.

To her, who welcomed us from the beginning, who protected us in our formation, we raise our petition, that she may accompany us in our priestly lives and ministries.

Excerpt from the Conference of Mons. Norberto Rivera,
Archbishop, Primate of Mexico (Yamoussoukro, July 9, 1997

Text courtesy of the Marie de Nazareth Association. If you haven't yet signed up to their daily Moment with Mary emails, this might be a lovely way to begin the year with Mary, Mother of God.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


I went to confession this afternoon so am in very joyful mood this evening. I never lose my sense of wonder at the Lord's mercy. It's so exciting to be able to begin anew with Him, in a state of grace.

I feel very drawn at the moment to a deeper relationship with St Faustina, and to meditating more deeply on divine mercy.

I also feel deeply grateful in another way. It's such a privilege as a seminarian to have a dedicated seminary spiritual director, who lives in the building and always has time to hear your confession. He knows me very well, and has such a wisdom in guiding me. At the moment I go to confession every couple of weeks, but I do feel increasingly attracted to going more frequently. I'd be grateful for your prayers as I discern this with my spiritual director. Oh, and this is worth reading...

Flippant vocations poster to put next to the confessionals: "Tired of waiting for confession? Skip the queue, become a seminarian!"

Monday, January 08, 2007

Catching up

I've been gradually catching up with the world's news, much of it grim. Fr John Boyle had a thoughtful post on Saddam Hussein's execution. He finishes by inviting us to dare to pray that the Lord will have mercy on his soul. I will do so, although I find it very difficult to pray for the soul of people I'm angry with. It actually probably does me more good than it does them. The one I pray for most often is Henry VIII. I started doing this after a friend of mine suggested it as we were wandering round the ruins of one of our great pre-dissolution monasteries. If ever there was a good candidate for purgatory, I would definitely include Henry.

The other news that I found really sad was the bombing at Madrid airport, and the renewal of a cycle of violence that it represents, when there was such a hope for peace.

I'm actually rather fond of Madrid airport, because I tend to judge airports on the quality of their Chapels. Barajas actually has proper Catholic Chapels with the Blessed Sacrament reserved. Once when I had a longer wait between flights, I even got to go to Mass there.

I think airport Chapels say rather a lot about a government's attitude to religion. Do you include facilities for all faiths, and if so do you do so in separate rooms?
One predominantly Muslim country that has a secularist government that is in violent conflict with Islamists provides prayer mats and the sign pointing to Mecca in the corridor leading to the toilets.

The Gildas award for worst airport Chapel, however, has to go to our very own London Stansted. This is inconveniently located landside, poorly signposted, rather smaller than your average broom cupboard, and dominated by a splendidly meaningless rainbow image. It rather neatly encapsulates the spiritual vacuousness that results from British religious plurality.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


I love Epiphany - one of my very favourite of the Church's feasts. I've been thinking today about how we show God to the world. I've had the privilege of meeting a few people (I can think of four) with whom I've somehow instantly sensed God's presence. It's not jst in what they say, but somehow in their presence. being with these people somehow drew me powerfully to Christ and to prayer.

I don't think I'll ever have that in myself, but I think that by radiating a joy and love of Jesus, we can attract others to Him. One text that I dwelt with for quite a while, and now can't for the life of me find (suggestions anyone?) was something like "I shall go to the altar of the Lord, and we will rejoice in His presence". What struck me was that The "I" going to the Lord draws others into His presence.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

How did you celebrate New Year?

We had a vigil Mass for Mary Mother of God that began at 11:30 pm, and finished (just before the final blessing) with the prayer of consecration to Jesus through Mary of Saint Louis-Marie Grignon de Montfort. It was quite the best way to bring in the New Year that I've ever experienced.

I'm in that strange coming out of silence state. I always try to come out of retreat gently, giving myself some time to adjust to speaking again, but this time round I'm plunging straight back into it by going to a dinner party this evening. It will be lovely to see close friends again, but I rather wish it wasn't this evening.

I realised as I was listening to the radio that I have absolutely no idea what's been happening in the world over the last few weeks. I once went on retreat to a monastery where they pinned a few headlines to their noticeboard. Should one be aware, so that one can pray, or does one have a deeper communion with the world in a more total silence?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

An Apology

Dear Readers,
We have recently received some posts of concerned readers that posts on Orthfully Catholic are not as regular as usual.
May we take this opportunity to apologise. However, this is not due to excess laziness, honest! We are currently still on our Christmas Holidays.
But not to fear! Soon we will return to our beloved Seminary and posting will become more fervent and inspiring!

Meanwhile we urge the punters to sit back and enjoy the suspense!
God Bless,