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Dr. Petroc Willey at the International Congress on Catechesis

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Dr. Petroc Willey is the Acting Director of Maryvale, and has recently been at the International Congress on Catechesis in Rome, where he gave delivered a beautiful address entitled ‘God Searches for Man and Reveals Himself to him’.

Afterwards, Petroc got to meet Pope Francis himself, which was a great honour. Of course, this event constitutes further recognition of the importance and value of the Maryvale Institute's contribution to catechesis in the worldwide Catholic Church. Dr. Willey’s opening address was well received and noted by many of the bishops present at the Congress for Catechists in Rome.


Maryvale really is the place to study if you want to deepen your knowledge and understanding of the faith, and offers a wide range of under-graduate and post-graduate courses.
Maryvale is both a place of worship and a specialist Institute, providing distance learning opportunities in Catholic Theology, Evangelisation, Catechesis, Philosophy, Ministry and Religious Education at ev…

Fr. Kevin Hale Celebrates 10 Years at Leigh-on-Sea

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Fr. Kevin celebrates ten years as our Parish Priest at Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Joseph today. He has achieved much in that time and the Parish family wanted to thank him, so a few people were nominated to speak at each of the Masses. I drew the short straw for the 11:30 and this is a transcript of my speech:



Ever since I was a boy, I recognised that there was something different and wonderful about priests. I knew that they had great responsibilities. I saw they were always there for the most important moments in life—Baptisms, weddings, funerals.

I also was in awe of their courage, because they were always there when someone was sick or dying. They never flinched, they always knew what to do.

I figured that priests were different because they were Jesus’ men: men set apart for the things of God. They always seemed to radiate joy in their service of the Church, even though I knew, because my mum was the priest’s housekeeper, that their lives were often not easy. But then Jesus’ li…

Report on ACTA's Caterham Meeting

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You may remember I drew attention to a meeting of ACTA in Caterham recently which was condoned and even supported by Bishop Kieran Conry.

Protect The Pope had a communication from a reader who was present for some of the meeting and reported the following:
'I left just as we were being broken into Discussion Groups, and I was not the only one. Wish I had the courage and knowledge to stay and argue but I was shaking the whole way through. First up, after some prayers asking for guidance, was a meditation about a round table; to make a round table hurts the wood and the people (?) but you end up with a table around which everyone sits in equality, no head of the table. No elaboration was given, but I imagine this is a hint of the levelling of the church hierarchy.There was a talk by Brian Pointer, Chairman A&B ACTA, briefly outlining the origins of ACTA and how some single ideals which were overwhelmingly important to individuals had to be ironed out as they couldn’t accommodate t…

Pope Francis: The Ordination of Women, Contraception, Abortion

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From Catholic Memes, too good not to share:

“I remember, when I used go to Germany in the 1980s and ’90s, that I was asked to give interviews and I always knew the questions in advance. They concerned the ordination of women, contraception, abortion and other such constantly recurring problems. If we let ourselves be drawn into these discussions, the Church is then identified with certain commandments or prohibitions; we give the impression that we are moralists with a few somewhat antiquated convictions, and not even a hint of the true greatness of the faith appears. I therefore consider it essential always to highlight the greatness of our faith – a commitment from which we must not allow such situations to divert us. ”
– Address of his Holiness Benedict XVI, Thursday, 9 November 2006.

Versus Populum (Towards the People).

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One issue that has interested me for some time is the question of orientation for Mass. I recall clearly hearing stories that in "The Old Days" the priest used to have his back to the people. How crazy was that?!! I vaguely recall, when I delved deeper into why such a bizarre practice should have taken place at all, I was informed that the whole altar used to be blocked off and that's where we get altar rails and bells from.
It took me a long while to glean an objective perspective on the practice. Like much that was boarded over with plywood in the sixties, I have learned that a bit of restorative investigation can yield all kinds of spiritual rewards.
Perhaps the seminal contemporary work on all this is Ratzinger's 'The Spirit of the Liturgy', inspired by Romano Guardini's book of the same title. I found it such essential reading because it attempts (and really succeeds) to educate the reader and deepen their understanding and love of the Liturgy. Its b…

Pope Francis on "Gay Marriage"

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Tim Stanley notes that, despite the media furore, SHOCK HORROR the Pope remains a Catholic. He reports, on his blog today that, as much as many relativists would like to see the Pope tear down Catholic doctrine and replace it with something more...Well, more Anglican, he is, in fact, continuing to hold fast to the teaching which has been passed down to us from the Apostles.


I'm not sure the headline is theologically correct (sorry Tim) as people actually excommunicate themselves, as this wayward priest has done. The job of the Church is merely to inform them of the fact. Warn them of the danger their soul is in, in charity and for their own eternal benefit one would hope. Still the fact remains that Pope Francis has given his authority to the excommunication of this lost priest. Most interestingly, Tim quotes:
"It's interesting to note that the former priest tells The Age that he "wants the same thing as the Pope" which is "to encourage reform and clear need…

Dawkins a Double Agent?

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Ever since I first read The God Delusion, I have held a kind of exasperated respect for Richard Dawkins. It has always seemed to me that he was so incredibly ignorant about religion, yet asked all the right questions, questions that religious people should be answering, issues that religious people should be addressing.

In this respect he has done religion a great service, I have no doubt, in that he has kept the important issues alive and being discussed. I have been consistantly frustrated by the lack of good answers coming forth from the religious community, although some have risen wonderfully to the challenge, notably the Chief Rabbi, Dr. Johnathan Sacks, in his wonderful book The Great Partnership. But also Professor John Lennox:




I do think that Dawkins has become more and more a character of ridicule over the last few years however, to the point now where many atheists are exasperated with him and his bizarre opinions, as I have blogged about before. This is perhaps best summe…

The Dishonest Steward

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What a fascinating Gospel we had on Sunday. One of those parables that is really rather disconcerting. This is the text, in case you want to refresh you memory:
Then Jesus said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. So he summoned him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.’ Then the manager said to himself, ‘What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.' So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He answered, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’ Then he asked another, ‘And how much…

The Pope & Diognetus

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For some reason, I keep thinking about the Letter to Diognetus (Nn. 5-6; Funk, 397-401) lately whenever I reflect on what Pope Francis has said.

There's a lot of noise about his interview, given in August this year to Fr. Antonio Spadaro SJ, lots of different interpretations, concerns being expressed, different factions trying to claim his agenda is the same as their own. I was quite surprised by how exasperated he seems to be with Catholics who focus on the wickedness of the world. He thinks this attitude paralyses the Church. As he put it:  “The complaints of today about how ‘barbaric’ the world is – these complaints sometimes end up giving birth within the Church to desires to establish order in the sense of pure conservation, as a defence. No: God is to be encountered in the world of today.” This is wonderfully challenging and makes sense when one understands how this man has come face to face with the darker side of life and has spent much of his time on this planet working w…

Pope Francis- The Church: A Merciful Mother

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CNS reports Pope Francis at his weekly public audience in St. Peter's Square yesterday, elaborated on his previous week's talk on the subject of the "church as mother."

The Pope said the Church should approach its members with the face of a patient, merciful and understanding mother, who always forgives her erring children and never ceases to pray that they resume the path of Christian living.

"I like this image very much," he said, "because I think it tells us not only how the Church is, but also what sort of face the Church, this Church of ours, should have, more so every day."

A mother teaches her children the right way of life "with tenderness, with affection, with love," he said, because she "didn't learn it from books, but learned it from her own heart."

"The university of mammas is the heart itself," the pope said, in one of several uses of the informal Italian term "mamma."

Pope Francis said the …