Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Christian Unity at the Seminary

This evening we hosted a prayer service organised by the local Churches Together committee. It was a lovely service well attended by members of the local churches and their priests and ministers. The local Parish Priest led the service, a few of the students came to welcome the locals and our Spiritual Director gave a short reflection on the history of the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity. Afterwards we shared some refreshments and the Seminarians chatted with our guests explaining what goes on here, how long it takes, why it takes so long etc. Our thanks go out to those who organised the event and we hope to be able to host other such services in the future.

Day 6 - The Sanctification of all the Jewish People

Father, by faith may the Jewish people continue with us to grow in the love of your name and arrive at the fullness of redemption.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Day 5 - The Sanctification of all Protestant Christians

Father, give Protestant and Pentecostal Christians together, and ever greater holiness and lead us all along your path to unity in the love and truth of Christ.

St Agnes

Father Rector said Mass this morning and gave an incredible homily that had 30 grown men in tears. I won't be able to reproduce it but wanted to give our readers a taste of what he said. Of course he started with the usual Hagiography, explaining who St Agnes was and how she died and then the tradition of the offering of the lambs and their shearing for the Palliums. After that he said St Agnes has so much to teach our world today. A young girl killed for her faith; a child praying, accused of witchcraft, is burned to death. Does the world treat children any better today? Teenage gangs are responible for the death of goodness knows how many children every year. Child soldiers are robbed of their innocence by being made to kill a friend or sister to prove their loyalty and ability to face the national army in guerrilla warfare. Millions of unborn babies are murdered in the womb thoughout the world each year. Children are kidnapped, raped and killed at an alarming rate every day. Our children are in grave danger, the best way for the Devil to destroy innocence is to destroy children. Pray for our children. Teach your children to pray to their Guardian Angels. St Agnes, Pray for us.

Day 4 - The Sanctification of Anglican Christians

Father, give Anglicans and all Christians an ever greater holiness and us all along your path to unity in the love and truth of Christ.

Seminarians at Sarum College

Yesterday we all went on a field trip to Sarum College. The day began with a panel debate on Eucharistic Theology in various traditions. The college trains ministers for the Anglican Communion and the Methodists and United Reformed Church, therefore a member of staff from each of those traditions represented their theologies and a member of our staff represented the Catholic theology. They each had to answer three questions:

I) What is the Eucharistic theology in your tradition?
II) What does the Eucharist mean to the community in your tradition?
III) What does the Eucharist mean for the world according to your tradition?

Then they answered questions from the floor. It was quite fascinating to hear the range of differing views of Eucharistic theology from its just bread to its more than just bread but its not quite the real presence as a Catholic would understand it. We all felt sorry for the Anglican vicar who had to answer each question from the point of view of each denomination of the Anglican Communion.

After that we all had tea and coffee together and compared training formats with eachother. Then we went and joined in with their Worship, a Service of the Word in the Methodist Tradition planned entirely by a group of Anglicans and one URC. The last song was Lord reign in me sung incredibly slowly, those of us with Youth 2000 roots were desperately trying to speed things up - oh, the irony.

Then we all had lunch together, another opportunity to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of eachother's formation. Then their day was over so as they all went home we popped across the courtyard to hear Evensong in Salisbury Cathedral. It was beautiful, the acoustics were incredible.

After a wander round the Cathedral we went back to the college for Mass in the Anglican chapel.

A great day was had by all and all the Seminarians would like to express our thanks to all those involved in planning the day and look forward the the STETS students coming to us next year.

Day 3 - The Sanctification of Orthodox Christians

Father, give Orthodox and all Christians an ever greater holiness and lead us all along your path to unity in the love and truth of Christ.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Day 2 - The Sanctification of Catholic Christians

Father, give Catholics and all Christians together an ever greater holiness and lead us all along your path to unity in the love and truth of Christ.

O Lord, give us grace seriously to lay to heart the dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions. Take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatever else may hinder us from full communion and as there is one Body, one Spirit and one hope of our calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, so unite us all in heart and soul, in truth and peace, in faith and love, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Day 1 - The Sanctification of all Christians

Father, look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church and grant us the peace and unity which is according to Christ's will.

Lord Jesus, who prayed that we might all be one, we pray to you for the unity of all Christians, according to your will, according to your means. May your Spirit enable us to experience the suffering caused by division, to see our sin, and to hope beyond all hope. Amen.

Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity

18th - 25th January is always a big week at the Seminary. We spend the week praying for the Sanctification of all Christians and join with Our Lord to pray that we may all be one as He and the Father are one. This year we celebrate the centenary of the Octave. Pray with us over the next eight days that our separated brethren will soon come home.

Ut omnes unum sint, sicut tu Pater in me et ego in te; ut mundus credat quia tu me misisti.

V Tu es Petrus
R Et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam

Domine Iesu Christe, qui dixisti Apostolis tuis: pacem relinquo vobis, pacem meam do vobis: ne respicias peccata nostra, sed fidem Ecclesiae tuae; eamque secundum voluntatem tuam pacificare et coadunare digneris. Qui vivis et regnas in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

God Bless

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Baptism of Our Lord

Today sees the end of Christmastide - well, unless you want to continue your observance until the Purification of course!

Orthfully Catholic would like to change their picture one more time and wish all our readers a Happy Feast.

God Bless

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Solemnity of the Epiphany of Our Lord

A very happy Epiphany to all our readers.

The Solemnity of the Epiphany marks the beginning of term for us at Seminary so we are back to the grindstone and looking forward to the Resurrection!

God Bless you all

Thursday, January 03, 2008

To die would be an awfully big adventure

We are about 64 hours into 2008 and the main theme of conversation I have been having so far is death. The person I have been sharing this theme with is my Parish Priest. He took New Year's Day off and went out to visit friends and family and on his journey back he experienced a nasty allergic reaction. It was so bad that he couldn't sleep that night so prayed his way through it. First of all he made a perfect contrition and then prayed that if he survived the ordeal that God might use his illness for His greater glory.

Last night I watched Die Grosse Stille (Into Great Silence) with him and afterwards we reflected on it. He asked me whether or not I could live like that, said 'No' with no thought on the matter. I may be discerning a vocation to the Secular Priesthood but I know for sure that I have no vocation to the enclosed religious life. He found that interesting because he said the film helped to prepare him for death. He said a lot of people who have seen the film have had the same reaction as I did, in fact some said they found the film boring because of it, however, these people are going to struggle when they die because Heaven is being in that film for all eternity. Therefore perhaps for those who could live that life watching the film is a glimpse of Heaven, whereas for those who are not it is a sharing in Purgatory.

A third comment on death was this morning before Mass when Father asked the Altar Servers if they had made any New Year's Resolutions yet and if so had they broken them yet. When we had all given our answers (mine being that I gave up making Resolutions years ago) he said his was to die more often. To give himself utterly to Christ, so much so that he dies to the world, on more than a daily basis.

I notice one of my brethren has written a post on Peter Pan. I too like the story of the boy who never grew up but not because of the eternal childhood storyline but because of the quotation which entitles this post. I also saw the films he mentioned and both of them share a death storyline which is fascinating. In Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium Mr Magorium dies but sending a paper aeroplane in flight, sitting in the middle of his shop and as the plane flies around it creates a night sky. In an earlier scene Mr Magorium was in hospital and a young boy (the narrator) was putting glow in the dark stars on the walls and ceiling. When a doctor asked what he was doing Mr Magorium replied, "He's making sure I have enough space to sleep in". That is exactly what the plane is doing. In Finding Never Land Kate Winslet's death scene is magical. She asks J. M. Barrie to show her Never Land, he has the cast of the play perform in her drawing room. At one point in the play Peter Pan pulls down a curtain and the back garden has been transformed into Never Land, Kate Winslet gets up and walks into the garden. In both films after the points at these points the scene moves to the graveside. Both characters enjoy peaceful, happy deaths because they are ready for death and their souls enjoy the Paradise of Heaven while their bodies sleep on the earth waiting for the Great Resurrection.

If you are like me New Year has nothing to do with death, if anything it is about life, but this year I am reminded that a new year brings me closer to death and therefore I must prepare myself for it every day, thanking God for allowing me to wake up each morning, asking my Guardian Angel to protect me during the night and if the Lord takes me back Home to carry my soul to Heaven.

God Bless you all and may He grant you a happy death.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Never Heaven Land

My favourite story ever written is Peter Pan, the story of the boy who never grew up. I was very pleased therefore to see that over Christmas 'Satan's Microwave' had the latest film adaptation on offer and Finding Never Land the film detailing J. M. Barrie's journey in writing the play.

I think the story of Peter and Wendy is so important today in a world where children are expected to grow up too quickly. Imagination is lost on people who are inspected at Nursery, given sex education at Primary School and encouraged to lose their virginity at Secondary School. Imagination is so imoprtant, especially in Catholicism. The Bible is full of stories for children to learn - I was talking to a lady the other day who was saying its so wonderful her grandchildren have Bibles to read; she wasn't allowed one in her day because owning a Bible was considered Protestant. I replied that its ironic that in the days children didn't have a Bible they knew all the stories in it, the Creation, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Christmas, and now they do have Bibles we have to struggle to get our childrn to remember the simplest stories. Children are being told the Bible is all made up and we mustn't believe what is written in it.

Even Heaven requires an imagination, no one knows what Heaven is like yet we teach our children to be good in order to get to Heaven. I remember when I was a child thinking Heaven was made of never-ending chocolate. Now Heaven is just a concept, a place made up to scare children into being good.

We took our young Altar Servers to the cinema on Monday to thank them for all their hard work over the last year. We saw Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium the story of a 243 year old toyshop owner who was preparing to die and wanted to leave the shop to his Manager a 23 year old woman who had a wonderful imagination when it came to playing with children but not when it came to her private life and the outside world. The shop goes into mourning at the imminent death of Mr Magorium and turns completely black and white when he dies. The point of the story is that the woman has to realise her full potential in order to bring the shop back to life. The children loved it, as did I. The other adults found it boring and found it hard to fight off sleep. I was so saddened by that, they had lost their imagination, something so important for working with children. I highly recommend the film to anyone of any age!

Jesus told us the world is going to become more and more depressing as we get nearer to the Final Judgement but we mustn't let it affect our imaginations, we mustn't let the depression enter the walls of the Church. We must keep the child within us alive and active in order to defeat the Devil's army. We must let our children be children so that when they grow up they remember what childhood is like. If we kill the child within the child what will happen to the adult?

Go and read Peter Pan and be like Wendy Darling who became ready to enter adulthood with the mind of an adult and the heart of a child. Don't let our children grow up too fast, keep them safe from the dark forces, love them with all the love you have from the moment of their conception.

Suffer the little children to come unto me for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Christmas Octave

I was chatting with a couple of parishioners last night as we took a tea break between Mass and Benediction. They were telling me how they found it hard to contemplate on the incarnation over Christmas with all these Feasts and Solemnities getting in the way. My heart broke, those Feasts and Solemnities are there precisely to help you contemplate on the Incarnation more easily.

Obviously Christmas falls on 25th December each year. From the 26th to the 31st December we are reminded of why we have Christmas at all. Christ was born on the earth that we might be born into Heaven. The greatest way we can be born into Heaven is through Martyrdom. Therefore on the 26th we celebrate the Feast of the first man to die for spreading the Gospel, St Stephen. His feat can be celebrated with nothing less than a Feast. As an Altar Boy and member of the Archconfraternity of St Stephen he is one of my Patron Saints.

On the 27th we celebrate another form of Martyrdom. St John, another of my patrons, is a White Martyr, which means though he wasn't killed for Christ he gave up his life for the Lord and ended his life celibate and in exile. He was also an Apostle and all Christ's Apostles are celebrated as Feasts.

On the 28th we celebrate yet another form of Martyrdom. Hundreds of children killed for Christ without knowing who Christ is. Children were killed simply for being male and below the age of two. Another day that can only be celebrated with a Feast. In the 21st Century this Feast is of great importance, how many children are killed today for being the wrong gender? conceived at the wrong time? having a disability? or anything else that isn't their fault?

On the 29th, in England, we celebrate the martyrdom of a Bishop, a cleric, the Patron Saint of the English clergy. A man whose ordination would not be possible without the incarnation, a man in persona Christi was killed because he did not do as a layman demanded. A day we should all pray for our priests and Bishops. Such a day can only be accorded the rank of Feast.

On the 30th this year we celebrated the Feast of the Holy Family. Just as on the Sunday after Pentecost we celebrate the Feast of the Trinity, each Person of which has now been fully revealed, so on the Sunday after Christmas Day we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Trinity on Earth, Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The family on which every family should model itself and become a Holy Trinity (Mother, Father and Child/ren), the Domestic Church.

The Octave ends with the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. This was once the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ but as Christians circumcision has no meaning for us, however, Motherhood and particularly the Motherhood of Our Blessed Mother does. Therefore we celebrate the Theotokos recalling both how She became the Mother of God at Her Fiat to the Archangel and how God gave Her to be our Mother as he hung on the Cross. The Octave can only end in the same way it began, with the child in His crib and His Mother praying at His side, a Solemnity.

The Christmas Octave is obviously second to the Paschal Octave but it is just as beautiful and holy and deserves the same observance and contemplation - the Incarnation!

A Christmas in the Life of a Seminarian

As we wind down after the Christmas and New Year jollies we thought we'd tell our readers just how we spend those three weeks we like to call a holiday.

Week 1 is for recuperating after a long and stressful term. It is also the week that the Parish Priest takes advantage of the Seminarian being home and takes his pre-Christmas retreat leaving the Seminarian in charge of the parish and to show the Rent-a-Priest the ropes.

As week 1 comes to a close and week 2 begins Christmas Eve comes along and brings with it the Christmas cold. The Seminarian wakes up unable to breathe and realising he has to martial 10 young children around a Sanctuary at Midnight. He spends the day overdosing on as many cold and flu remedies as he can so to be able to get through the Christmas Masses. He MC's an incredible Midnight Mass, gets 5/6 hours sleep, MC's an incredible Christmas morning Mass and goes home to spend Christmas day with his family.

The Christmas Octave brings with it more Masses to MC and at one point during those eight incredible days comes the Diocesan Seminarians' Christmas Lunch. My Diocese had ours on the Feast of the Holy Innocents, the Vocations Director said Mass and then we polished off his gin before going out to sample the local delights.

The Octave ends with New year celebrations. My parish had Mass for the New Civil Year at 10pm on New Year's Eve followed by Exposition at 11:45 and Benediction at 12:15. It was a beautiful way to see in the New Year. Then of course we celebrated the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God this morning.

Week 3 consists of winding down after all that and preparing to return to seminary more tired than when he left. The Seminarian looks forward to relaxing with a nice long essay.

So spare a thought for your Seminarians next Christmas and pray hard for his vocation!