Showing posts from January, 2014

One Simple Question That Made Me Catholic

I found a great blog last night by Billy Kangas which addresses one of the thoroughly absorbing mysteries of faith I have read and wrestled with over the years. In this post, he explains how he found his way from a confessional Lutheran Protestant to a devoted and practicing Catholic. The question which led him on this journey was one which is often asked in my experience, and one I know I have thought long and hard about.

It is a question which is at the heart of many of the strongest objections to the Christian faith I have encountered, and it is one of the most divisive issues in the inter-Christian dialog today.

For Kanga, it started like this: one day, he came into his church and there was a giant banner hanging over the pulpit that read, “Why did Jesus die?”
Now it is easy to trot out what someone else has taught you about this, but it is in really engaging with the question I think we really start to grow. Essential to the process is a layering of knowledge that helps us consi…

Pete Seeger RIP

Today on Radio 2 I note that the lament for Pete Seeger, the political activist and folk singer continues. I'm not sure why his death (at the grand old age of 94) is having such an effect on people, but it's nice to know that he has touched so many lives and had such an impact on music.

One of his greatest hits, Turn!, Turn!, Turn!, was made famous by The Byrds who released it in 1965. The song was actually written by Seeger in the late 1950's. But did you know that the lyrics, except for the title which is repeated throughout the song, and the final verse of the song, are adapted word-for-word from Chapter 3 of the Book of Ecclesiastes?
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to th…

Please Say This Prayer With Me...

At this time, when our country has so many episcopal vacancies, it is essential that we pray for strong and faithful leadership. The Church in England and Wales is still alive, but besieged on all sides by secularism, moral evil, relativism, and dissent from external forces like ACTA as well as internally from religious who seem to think that their ministry has more authority than the Magisterium.

We have much to give thanks for and much to rejoice in, but like any great organisation, we must recognise that if we are not moving forward in terms of both vision and numbers, we are inevitably moving backwards. We need bishops to have the vision to see that unless we defeat relativism and present a clear catechesis of the faith as deposited, we are lost.

Perhaps this is a pertinent time to recall the prayer of the great English Cardinal and Holy Martyr St John Fisher to Our Lord beseeching Him to give the Church strong Bishops:
“Lord, according to Your promise that the Gospel should be pr…

I Made a Promise

I promised Father Dominic and Father Graham that I would not use my blog to attack people, but instead to give good positive witness about my life as a devout practising Catholic, and how positive this has been for me.

That is why I am not going to post any invective about THIS even though I really, really want to (mainly because it is in my diocese, and I know that people are laughing at us, and that I want to defend the many really good and holy priests we have in this diocese).
EXCEPT to say that he is supposed to be a servant of the Church, commissioned to act under obedience to the Holy See, and to proclaim what the Church teaches not what he thinks is best. Perhaps he should remember that he took a public oath, with one hand on the altar, which in part reads…
‘Moreover, I adhere with religious submission of will and intellect to the teachings which either the Roman pontiff or the College of Bishops enunciate when they exercise their authentic Magisterium, even if they do not int…

New Bishop of Plymouth Ordained

The Plymouth Herald reports that Plymouth Cathedral was packed yesterday to witness the ordination of Mark O'Toole as ninth Bishop of Plymouth. Bishop Mark is now the leader of the 163-year-old Catholic Diocese of Plymouth.

Bishops from across the 22 Catholic diocese of England and Wales were in attendance to take part in the historic episcopal ordination, only the third to take place in Plymouth in 59 years. Bishop Mark is also enjoys the distinction of being the first episcopal appointment in England and Wales by Pope Francis.

Mark O'Toole's elevation to a successor of the Apostles was announced at about 11am on the 9th November (see my post at the time). Bishop Mark is 50 and was born in London. He was formerly rector of Allen Hall seminary in West London and also private secretary to Cardinal Emeritus Cormac Murphy O'Connor.
Brief Bio:
22 June 1963 Born in London, the youngest son of Marcus and Maura O’Toole who originally came from the Irish-speaking community of C…

The Two Francis'

The Eponymous Flower offers the following translation of a report on the content of the meeting between morally bankrupt and anti-Catholic French President François Hollande and the Holy Father I posted about on the 24th.

(Vatican / Paris) Corresponding to diplomatic custom little was made known officially about the content of the meeting of French President Francois Hollande and Pope Francis. Details were reported in the meantime by Dominique Quinio, the chief editor of the Catholic newspaper La Croix . Quinio was a member of the French delegation that accompanied President Hollande in the Vatican. The delegation did not participate in the actual conversation between the Pope and Hollande. "Hollande said to us in the delegation that he had surely not asked the Pope for forgiveness," said the La Croix -print manager. Quinio nor could conjecture, if the killing of unborn children was the topic of conversation.  According to Dominique Quinio it was an encounter in a "w…

Ruth's 12th Birthday

Sunday (26th January, 2014) would have been Ruth's 12th birthday had she lived. Lou finds these days really, really, hard, and I find it really, really, hard to watch her suffering so much. Our pain is divergent at these times. For me, it presents an exercise in brinkmanship, hiding from the pain that threatens to engulf me, whilst acknowledging that it is a reality. For Lou, it is a time to embrace the sorrow and allow the waves of melancholy to breach her mental defenses for a few hours, cry a few tears, and indulge thoughts of what she should be doing with Ruth on this day.

Lou bought a beautiful helium balloon bearing the legend "Happy Birthday". This was for John to let go outside. Our typically boisterous ten-year-old musters great dignity on such occasions and always surprises us both with the seriousness he displays and the gravitas with which he treats them. Looking somber, he said a little prayer; he knows she is in Heaven, safe with all our family, and he hop…

A Call To Action Exposed For What it is by Fr. Ed

ACTA seem to have started the New Year off briskly, with lots of meetings and letters floating about. There was a recent meeting planned at the Ursuline School in Brentwood I heard and there's talk of meetings in Arundel and Brighton and Southwark diocese. Whilst most of the clergy I have spoken to write ACTA off and so don't bother to condemn what they consider a lunatic fringe, ACTA are busy stirring things up and making as much noise as possible. They invite clergy along to their meetings who often have no idea about their agenda and then publicise their involvement in an attempt to gain respectability. It's a disingenuous game of smoke and mirrors where they obfuscate what they're all about to retain a facade of respectability, then use every tool in the book to try and pretend they have official recognition and a broad support base.

The brilliant Fr Ed Tomlinson never pulls his punches. He was recently sent an invitation to an ACTA meeting which is taking place i…

Clergy Night at the Catenians

Last night, Thursday 23rd January 2014, was Southend on Sea Catenian Association's annual clergy night. The Catenians is an international association of Catholic laymen which aims to foster brotherly love among members, develop social bonds among members and their families, advance the interests of the members and their dependents, assist young Catholics in their choice or pursuit of a career and to establish, maintain and administer benevolent funds. Find out more here.
We were honoured to be joined by some eminent local clergy: Fr. Joseph Whisstock of St. Helen's, Westcliff-on-Sea, Fr. Jeff Woolnough of St. Peter's, Eastwood, Fr. Basil Pearson of Our Lady of Lourdes, Leigh-on-Sea, Fr. Gerry Drummond of St. Teresa's, Rochford, Fr. John Corbyn of Our Lady of Good Council, Wickford, and Fr. James Mackay from Our Lady of Canvey, Canvey Island.
Our illustrious and benevolent leader, EL PRESIDENTE PAUL F. ABBOTT, has, in his capacity as the circle's official photograph…

Pope Francis meets François Hollande

...But as Rorate Caeli tweeted this morning, not even the nice Pope can fake a smile when receiving anti-Catholic François Hollande:

How I would love to hear what the Holy Father says to him! Having legalised same-sex "marriage", softened laws on abortion, and now vowing to explore a change to euthanasia, as well as allegedly being caught cheating on his wife (who had already cheated on someone else, or something...I'm so confused!!) Hollande may have some explaining to do.

Is this as shallow as some sort of ploy to woo back Catholic voters? Hollande is plagued by low popularity and it does seem likely that with this move he hopes to reconcile with a Catholic electorate largely hostile to his pseudo-liberal policies. Hollande's advisors have stated that he sees the visit as a chance to send "a strong message of dialogue and attention to the Catholics," I would imagine it will take more than a meeting with the Holy Father to achieve this however. Like ackno…


I've always been extremely sceptical about Medjugorje and what has gone on there. I have friends I really trust who reckon it is amazing, but what I have seen and read just doesn't add up when compared to my experiences of Fatima and Lourdes.
Earlier this week, Protect the Pope announced that Cardinal Vinko Puljic, Archbishop of Vrhbosna and a leading member of the International Commission on Medjugorje, has told a news outlet that Pope Francis will rule on Medjugorje this year. I forsee difficulties with this, because if they say it is fake, I would expect many devotees will continue to believe in it regardless. Those who do not think it is genuine will remain sceptical and will probably consider the CDF have fudged the issue in order to avoid upsetting anyone.

Marie Dean articulates my misgivings perfectly in this succinct post on her blog:

The so-called apparitions started in 1981. I honestly did not pay much attention to these and was not interested. By 1983, I was convinc…

Pastoral Pain

I was recently in Ireland for a sad occasion. Whilst there I had a chat with a priest of sixty or so years of age, in the company of some of my aunts of a similar vintage. One very dear aunt mentioned to father that she was worried that some communicants at Mass she knows had not been to confession for many years and were living in irregular marriages, or in similar positions which would be widely regarded by all those present in the conversation as problematic for a Catholic going up to communion. The priest didn't hesitate and replied that he didn't think such things mattered. That God sorts all that out and he doesn't worry about it.

I was, in a word, gutted. But, coward that I am, I didn't say anything...Was it for me to contradict the priest? In over-clericalised Ireland, would anyone think I was anything other than extremely petulant? Mother and I exchanged pained glances across the table and I bit my tongue.

After some reflection, I now I wish I had spoken out.…

UKIP and Weather

The UK Independence Party, or UKIP for short, have today suspended a Councillor, David Silvester, because he has suggested that the recent floods are a result of the country abandoning the Gospel (see story here). Specifically he cites gay marriage legislation as a cause for the recent spate of bad weather which has beset the country. He is quoted as saying:
"The scriptures make it abundantly clear that a Christian nation that abandons its faith and acts contrary to the Gospel (and in naked breach of a coronation oath) will be beset by natural disasters such as storms, disease, pestilence and war." His position has been met with howls of derision and no small amount of gaffawing. The BBC can barely conceal their derision and are suggesting the Councillor's remarks are evidence that David Cameron's dismissal of UKIP as a "party of fruitcakes" was accurate after all. Today on BBC Radio 2, Jeremy Vine could not conceal his contempt for David Silvester's co…

Congratulations to Archbishop Vincent Nichols

Apologies if I am a few days late, but I just wanted to add my congratulations to the chorus of well wishers offering their felicitations to Archbishop Vincent Nichols on his nomination to the sacred council of Cardinals. What an extreme honour and privilege this must be for him, and what an incredible and experience. The weight of history must really press down on you when you realise you are the next in line for this important role.

A Cardinal is not a type of holy orders (these are deacon, priest and bishop) but rather his is an honorific title which denotes the most senior clergymen (priests) in the Church below the Pope.

Although historically they were the local clergy of Rome, today they are Bishops of important ‘sees’ (dioceses) from throughout the world, or heads of departments of the Vatican, or some priests or bishops whom the Pope personally wishes to honour. The title of Cardinal is given by the Pope as a personal decision.

The word ‘cardinal’ comes from the Latin word for…

Pope Francis & False Statements

On January 14th, NEWS.VA posted this quite extraordinary statement on their Facebook page:

Dear friends, we have been notified by many readers that there are stories currently circulating all over the Internet spreading statements by Pope Francis with regard to a number of issues, concerning the Bible's content, the relations between religions, the renewal of the Church's doctrine, and even the calling of an alleged "Third Vatican Council", which are FALSE. These statements were spread by unknown sources. Therefore, we would like to alert all readers to be careful and not to trust too soon news about the Pope that are not from the Vatican.

There are also many unidentified trolls on social networks that try to put false information in circulation, taking advantage of the fact that it is easy to "throw the stone and hide the hand".


More on Reception on the Tongue...

Further to my post on Tuesday, which looked at the need for a more balanced understanding of the Mass as Sacrifice, and how a change in our understanding from emphasing the meal aspect, to a more proper understanding of Sacrifice, how how this could be the key to a more reverent attitude toward the reception of Jesus in the blessed sacrament at Mass, one reader, Adam Coates, directed me to this excellent video on the subject by Fr. Paul Nicholson. (Sorry, that sentence was far too long!).

Receiving communion on the tongue or in the hand is nothing anyone else can make you do. You are free to choose the manner of your own reception and the way you approach God, but these sorts of things are what led me to change the way I receive communion myself. I have found that if I approach Christ in the blessed sacrament with humility and temerity, properly disposed and longing for communion with Him who is God, the experience is an extraordinarily powerful one. And this is something I have heard…

Receive Holy Communion On The Tongue

I think that the manner of reception of Holy Communion and the attitude to the Blessed Sacrament is very important.

Since Vatican II, we have seen a marked emphasis on the meal aspect of the Eucharist at the expense of the Sacrificial aspect. Yet the Church teaches, and has always taught that the Eucharist is indeed a Sacrifice. Pope John Paul II referred to Jesus' institution of "the Eucharistic Sacrifice of His body and blood," which is, he said, not only a reminder but also "the sacramental re-presentation of the Lord's passion and death" (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 11).

Perhaps the sacrificial dimension of the Eucharist is uncomfortable for many of us. Of course, we have no experiential concept of sacrifice apart from the Eucharist itself. This action would be immediately recognised for what it is by anyone who knew what a sacrifice is: all the elements are there, altar, bound victim, the priest who offers the sacrifice.

The sacrificial model comes to us …

Trendy Commentators Have Fallen in Love with a Pope of their Own Invention

Luke Coppen, Editor of the brilliant Catholic Herald, has written a really good piece in theSpectator which addresses the constant stream of mis-information which surrounds the papacy currently.

It seems, every day, there is a new drama surrounding something the Pope has said to someone. Usually, I find myself in a position where it is quite hard to work out why there is a problem. I haven't read anything that the Pope has said that deviates from Catholic teaching, and it usually is quite difficult to understand how he has been so badly mis-represented or spun. In the case of Pope Francis' words on abortion and sexual matters for example, he did not tell us to stop talking about these things; he said that they should not be talked to the exclusion of all else. This is obvious, the mission of the church is Caritas - charity, love – if it is anything at all. Modernity thinks it knows what the Church teaches and closes its ears to what it says. Yet under Francis, this mission is…