Showing posts from March, 2014

New Auxiliary of Westminster Appointed

Monsignor Nicholas Hudson presently Parish Priest of the Sacred Heart, Wimbledon, has been appointed an Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster Diocese today. Sacred Heart was a Jesuit Parish, but due to a shortage of vocations in the Jesuits in Britain it was announced that the Society of Jesus was to hand over administration of the parish to the Archdiocese of Southwark and Mgr Nick was appointed Parish Priest to the Parish where he grew up. Indeed, his family lived just a few streets away from Sacred Heart, where he was baptised and ordained.

This appointment follows a spate of appointments over the last few weeks. Mgr Hudson was rector of the English College in Rome from 2004-2013 when he was replaced by Mgr Philip Whitmore. Mgr Hudson has long been rumoured for an appointment to an episcopacy, take this report in 2011 for example. I think this is because it is quite usual for the rector of a seminary to eventually be made a bishop.
CEW website has a full report.


Born Hammersmith…

"Gay Marriage" Now Legal in UK

So as of the stroke of midnight, so-called "gay marriage" became legal in the UK and the first same-sex couples were "wed". It is all over the news here, and the rainbow flag which is a symbol of LGBT pride is flying over whitehall no less!

The idea I think is that the very perception of gay relationships will change with the advent of "gay marriage", as one of those taking part articulated on the news. For society, I think this will have major repercussions, but not sudden ones. It is part of a decline in moral standards which purports to be about love and equality but in truth betrays any true academic notion of either.
Now I do understand that there are many homosexual couples who think that this is about equality and love. I don't think anyone should have to feel marginalised in society, or threatened, or hated, it makes me sad to think they might feel that way. But I cannot help but feel "gay marriage" is forcing a confrontation and tr…

International Pop Sensation & Seriously Catholic

Anyone about my age will be familiar with the polished, glossy tones of Kenny Thomas, a multi-platinum selling artist who dominated the commercial, soul and album charts in the 90’s. What I didn't know was that he is a staunch, devout Catholic with a passion for personal holiness and a deep understanding of St. Thomas Aquinas!

Kenny was born in 1968, grew up on Hillside Estate in Stamford Hill and went to Cardinal Pole RC School in Hackney. He was a boxer and a BT technician before turning his hand to a singing career.

His breakthrough came in 1991 with his debut hit "Outstanding", a cover of a Gap Band song, which went to number 12 in the UK Singles Chart. Kenny’s debut album, “Voices”, went platinum in its first week and then went on to sell over double platinum in the UK alone, spawning 4 hit singles, including his biggest hit in the July "Thinking About Your Love", which peaked at number four and stayed on the chart for 13 weeks, and "Best Of You"…

Bishop stands up against contraception!

Deacon's Bench reports today that, twenty-three years ago, Bishop Glennon Flavin of Lincoln Diocese, USA, issued a letter to parishioners and physicians, decrying birth control as evil and immoral. He warned Catholic couples using contraception and the Catholic physicians prescribing it they were “committing grave sin.”

On Tuesday, Bishop James Conley issued his own letter to parishioners reaffirming the Catholic Church’s stance prohibiting the use of all contraceptives, although his pastoral letter goes to greater lengths to explain the teaching in gentle tones. I think it is very powerful that every priest in the diocese has been asked to discuss the letter and talk about contraception during Mass this weekend. Wow! +Conley said:
“We really live in a wounded world when it comes to the family,”  In a move that I think clearly demonstrates the reality of his gentle pastoral care for his flock, he explained how he chose to issue the letter during Lent because of its theme of love an…

The Woman at the Well

Sunday's Gospel was the story of the Woman at the Well which is one of those really important Scripture passages which deserves much reflection and consideration. Fr. Kevin offered a very valuable reflection on the Gospel which I have asked him if I can share with you all here. You can also listen to Fr. Kevin deliver his homily here if you prefer.

A number of people have told me that they have given up drinking for Lent. I think what they really mean is that they have given up alcoholic drink. There was man in the news at start of Lent who said he was going to live only on beer throughout Lent; apparently it’s possible. What isn’t possible is to live without water. The body can go for days and weeks without food, but without water we would simply die. The body craves water to remain alive; even in those regions of the world where there have been recent disasters, the importance of getting water to survivors is paramount.  Our souls are the same as our bodies in this regard; witho…


You hear that time heals all wounds. This is a lie. The wound of a lost child never heals, but time does anesthetise you to the pain somewhat. You get used to carrying the cross around with you and slowly, you become able to smile again with honesty. The grief is always there though, often very close to the surface.

Sometimes I feel my most honest moments are alone with Mary, bathing her, dressing her, when I can just hold her and cry. Cry for joy because God has given her to me, forgiven me, trusted me, saved me. And cry for Ruth, for the overwhelming love I still feel for her and can no longer express in the tactile way that was so every-day just a few brief years ago. These are strange moments, full to bursting with an incredible amount of love, but also excruciatingly painful. A moment when I let my grief out of the secret, carefully hidden box I keep it in for a moment and allow it to engulf me. I wonder what Mary makes of me dissolving into a blubbing puddle of love in the midd…

New Archbishop of Liverpool! Deo Gratias!

Today brings the momentous news that the Dominican Bishop Malcolm McMahon, ninth bishop of Nottingham has been translated to Archbishop of Liverpool. This is great news and comes after much worry and speculation about who would actually get this important post.

Of course, here in Brentwood Diocese, where I am blogging from, we call him "the other bishop McMahon".

Malcolm McMahon was born in London, and studied mechanical engineering at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology before working for London Transport. In 1976, he joined the Dominican Order. Making his religious profession in December 1977, Bishop McMahon studied philosophy at Blackfriars, Oxford and theology at Heythrop College. He was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Basil Hume on 26 June 1982. He served as chaplain of Leicester Polytechnic from 1984 to 1985.

McMahon later became Parish Priest of St Dominic's in Newcastle upon Tyne (1989), and of St Dominic's in Haverstock Hi…

The Modern Stripping of the Altars

From the St. Barnabus Society Facebook Page today; I thought this was very much my own experience and well worth reflecting on. I grew up with the austerity of the church buildings of the 1970s and was blown away by the beauty of the baroque and the churches of Europe when I visited them:

A friend spoke yesterday of the modern 'stripping of the altars' that has taken place in some Catholic churches. From the 1970s onwards, some priests took it upon themselves to remove holy statues and holy pictures from their churches, as though the presence of these objects - beloved by generations of the faitfhful - was some kind of scandal and offence against Almighty God. Her own parish church had long been denuded in this way and felt very bare. The only artistic representation in the interior - of the Holy Family - was so 'abstract' and symbolic that she could gain nothing from it. She remarked how ironic it was that many Anglo-Catholic church buildings contain far more in the wa…

Sharing the Treasures of the Bible

I was honoured to be invited to give a lecture at our diocesan Youth Retreat Centre, Walsingham House this week by Michael Barwick, Director of Walsingham House and Leighton Walker, Assistant Director. The subject was, as regular readers might guess, one of my great passions: Sacred Scripture.

I really wanted to light a fire within our young leaders hearts and show them how incredible the Bible really is. I put together a talk which I hope gave them some insight into the extraordinary complexity of the Bible while unlocking some of its secrets and the powerful connections which have led so many to faith in Jesus Christ through the last two thousand years.

These talks can go one of two ways really. If the audience is unresponsive and fail to engage or ask any questions, it can seem like a painful eternity. However the Walsingham House Team were very bright and eager to learn. There were lots of questions and the whole thing was very animated. Although I spoke for over two hours, it se…

Another excellent episcopal appointment from Pope Francis

Some excellent news today that the National Ecumenical Officer for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Fr Robert Byrne CO, has been appointed as an Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham.

This is excellent news as Fr. Robert really is a wonderful priest and I think continues the trend of some really good episcopal appointments for us here in the UK. It is a great affirmation for the Oratorians and signals a further strengthening of our episcopacy. You only need to watch the short video interview above to see how Fr. Robert is completely a man of God.

Please pray for Fr Robert as he prepares for his episcopal ordination. He will be the first Oratorian bishop appointed in England since 1874, when Fr Edward Bagshawe of the London Oratory became Bishop of Nottingham.

Bishop elect Byrne’s episcopal ordination will take place at 11am on Tuesday 13 May 2014 at the Mother Church of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, St Chad’s Cathedral. He will succeed Bishop Philip Pargeter, who has …

Adventures in Anglo-catholicism, Chapter 2.

In Chapter 1, I attempted to lay a foundation of the history of the Shrine in order to show how my first visit to Walsingham was primarily a insight into the human divisions history has wrought in our supernatural revelation. All parties at Walsingham recognise these supernatural truths of Annunciation, Incarnation, Revelation, bitter death and sacrifice, then Resurrection. These truths are born out by the long history of pilgrimage, prayer and miracle which are an indelible part of the Walsingham story.

Despite our common acknowledgement of these divine realities, our shared kerygma, koinonia, and even didache, Walsingham is physically, very divided. For a Catholic like me, the immediate question this experience begs in a place like Walsingham, is why?

My overwhelming sense was of the Mother of God holding all her squabbling children together. Perhaps you might think I should have been concentrating on my prayers, but I could not help thinking of Matthew 5: 22-24 which is a passage …

Adventures in Anglo-catholicism, Chapter 1.

I have been on somewhat of an Anglican odyssey over the last few months courtesy of Fr. Jeff Woolnough, priest of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, and currently priest in charge at St. Peter's Church, Eastwood. I have been fortunate indeed to make a friend like Fr. Jeff, who has taken the time and care to really help me to understand about the journey of the Ordinariate. 
I think many Catholics, like myself, have been really confused about what the Ordinariate is and what it is about, seeing it as another wave of converts from the Anglican communion, refugees from the onslaught of relativism and surrender to temporal considerations sweeping the communion and washing away Christian dogma. Many Cradle-Catholics undoubtedly harbour concerns that, in fact, they have different beliefs and different practises. I have even heard it said that the parish was being made "Anglican". As Cradle-Catholics we are often blinded to the struggle of other Christian groups becaus…