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Showing posts from December, 2014

+Mark Davies—Vocation and Mission of the Family.

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I was greatly heartened to read the pastoral letter from the Bishop of Shrewsbury, read out on the Feast of The Holy Family on December 28th. It presents a wonderful synthesis of Church teaching on family and asks that we look deeper at the gifts that the Church presents to us in this regard and reflect how we can engage more deeply with Church teaching. I have hi lighted some of the bits that really caught my eye:

My dear brothers and sisters, I write to you today in the light of the Child born for us, the Saviour who was given to us within the love and unity of a human family. On this Feast of the Holy Family, as we celebrate the holiness of family life and begin a “Year for Vocations” in the Diocese, I want to reflect on the “Vocation and Mission of the Family.” This is the title Pope Francis has given to the Synod of Bishops to take place in the New Year. It will be a year for Catholics across the world to reaffirm our faith in God’s plan for the family, and to do so amidst the m…

Christmas Post

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Today is the long waited for day.

In Jesus, God's Son, we receive the most precious gift imaginable. Through His birth we are reborn, and we are enabled to live in the light of Him who is the radiant light of God's glory. Christ makes it possible for us to share in the life of God.


The incredible hush & stillness of Christmas Day always reminds me anew and forcibly of the uniqueness of this day of mystery and joy. Famously in the past hostilities have ceased, enemies have fraternised. All over the world, people are seeking out their family and friends, and there is an attempt, however fleeting, to be kinder and more open and sympathetic. The opening words of the prophet distill all these precious qualities: good news, the heralding of peace, happiness, salvation and joy. All of this comes about through the arrival of a message, the proclamation of a Kingdom, a face-to-face meeting with a King, the most intimate of encounters. This is the birth of Jesus, the advent of God…

Donatism & Misleading the flock

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This morning, The Bones broke the news that the Bishops of England and Wales have released a document entitled Preparing for the 2015 Synod: A Time of 'Reflection' which is available for download from their website here.

Although it poses some appropriate and valuable pastoral questions, it also utterly misappropriates Church history in order to sell a heretical idea that contradicts established doctrine. It not so subtly attempts to shove the clergy in a particular direction: the questions direct the answers:
The followers of Donatus wanted no contact whatever with Catholics whom they believed were contaminated and could not represent the Church of Christ. They considered themselves the sole representatives of the true Church because of their steadfastness during the persecution. Taking his cue from the parable of the wheat and tares Augustine argued strongly and insistently for patience and tolerance, and that to uproot the tares would mean damaging the good seed as well. Au…

Atheists want free thinking- as long as you're not thinking about God

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Have you heard about the unholy row that's been going on in France this Advent season? Of all things, it is about the French tradition of displaying nativity scenes in public buildings. One French court has stirred up a hornet's nest by ordering a regional government office to take down the Christmas crib it set up in its lobby as usual this year.

The western town of La Roche-sur-Yon, in the traditionally Catholic Vendée region, is appealing the order. Conservative politicians in other towns, especially those from the far-right National Front, have announced they will resist it.

The court acted after a complaint from the ironically named atheist Freethinkers Federation, (Fédération Nationale de la Libre Pensée) which said the crib violated the 1905 laïcité law separating Church and state. A Federation official said the group pressed the issue in reaction to huge Catholic support for the mass demonstrations last year against the legalisation of so called "same-sex marriag…

Pope's Birthday Present to the Homeless

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A really touching story has emerged from Andrea Torneielli at Vatican Insider who reports how volunteers and Swiss Guards drove around Rome on a minibus to distribute a gift from Pope Francis to the homeless of batches of sleeping bags. "This is a gift for you from the Pope on the occasion of his birthday," they were quoted as saying to hundreds of homeless people.

The sleeping bags were distributed on a minibus, which left the Vatican at 6 pm and went around Rome looking for homeless people who needed them. The quality bags had a hood and carried the papal ensign.

“This is a gift for you, please pray for the Pope,” volunteers, including a nun and some Swiss Guards said. They were led by the Papal Almoner Bishop Konrad Krajewski. The minibus toured around railway stations before reaching the area surrounding the Campo Verano cemetery which tends to be frequented by the homeless. It also made a stop on Via Nazionale. “Almost 400 sleeping bags were distributed,” they said. We g…

More Anti-Catholic Policy from IDS and the Tories

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I think many of us felt that Ian Duncan Smith, a Catholic, would be ideally placed in the new government to stand up for Catholic social capital. I don't think I am alone in feeling he has been somewhat of a disappointment in this regard. First we had him defying the Church's lead on so called "gay marriage", betraying the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, and now we have a further insight into the degree with which he is it odds with his Catholic identity.

A couple of days ago Ian Duncan Smith hinted at an incredible piece of anti-family, anti-Catholic policy on The BBC Sunday Politics show. The plan is to limit child benefit payments to the first two children only, an idea first floated in 2012, before it was thrown out by Nick Clegg. The work and pensions secretary hinted the move was being examined by his party despite previously being vetoed by Downing Street over fears it could alienate parents. Duncan Smith said it could also “help behavioural change” in…

Cardinal Burke: “deepest gratitude” for the show of “support and most of all for your prayers.”

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You may recall a petition to thank Cardinal Burke for his wonderful , inspiring leadership, was arranged by Lifesite News a while ago. Yesterday they posted a video on Youtube of Cardinal Burke's response when presented with the petition of support.



Cardinal Burke has never ceased to be a constant source of spiritual inspiration for me and has always had the reputation of being Catholic; no ifs, no buts. He does not prevaricate or make excuses, he starts with the faith, and then applies it with mercy to people's lives.

Whenever I have heard him talk, it has struck me how he has a gift for explaining difficult teachings of the Church with utter clarity, and in a context that shows that the teaching is not a weapon or a tool used to attack others, rather it is the truth about our lives that, applied with caritas, brings us to a closer relationship with God.
The more I hear about Cardinal Burke, the more I hear about his compassion and mercy. His vocation lived out every day of his…

Dumbing Down Catholic Institutions

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Being Catholic is uncomfortable, it's challenging, it forces you to constantly question modern received opinion. Talking these issues over with my children, they are always amazed how the Church's well thought out consideration is more interested in truth than popularity. Even though they might have had a good idea put to them at school, reviewing the issue from a Catholic perspective always reveals the truth of a situation. It's not always an easy truth, but it is a truth nevertheless. As G.K. Chesterton famously put it “A dead thing goes with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.”

In the UK today, it seems most people in charge of Catholic organisations do not agree with me, however. Point of fact, Independent Catholic News report that St. Mary's Twickenham have appointed Mary McAleese as a visiting professor. I had to double take. St. Mary's is our Catholic university, although it's far from obvious from their website. In fact I had to dig …

Pope denounces the "rigid" attached to doctrine as "Pharisees"

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"maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you."  1 Cor 11:2
So yesterday Pope denounced the "rigid" attached to doctrine as "Pharisees...weak to the point of rottenness." To Western ears, it sounded as if he was criticising faithful Catholics who stick to Church teaching; he even used the word "doctrine" (dottrina in the original Italian)which means "teaching". But that would be absurd. For the Pope, our Holy Father to criticise faithful Catholics for following Church teaching???!!!! I had to stop, turn myself around and have a careful think about what he said.

Excerpt:
"Pope Francis recalled how “Pius XII freed us from the very heavy cross that was the Eucharistic fast”:“But some of you might remember. You couldn’t even drink a drop of water. Not even that! And to brush your teeth, it had to be done in such a way that you didn’t swallow the water. But I myself as a young boy went to confession for having made the C…

Brentwood's VG Set to Take Over at Walsingham.

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Mgr John Armitage, one of Brentwood Diocese most loved priests has been appointed as the Rector of the National Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham by Bishop Alan Hopes. 
He will take up his appointment on Ash Wednesday, February 18th 2015. Monsignor Armitage is currently Parish Priest of the Royal Docks in London’s East End and has served for the last 11 years as Vicar General in the Diocese of Brentwood. He comes to this appointment with tremendous pastoral and practical experience, He has a great devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham and is keen to help Walsingham to play its part in the New Evangelisation, particularly among young people and young adults.
Fr. John is well known for being one of the busiest men in the country, so I can't help wondering if this is an almost perfect appointment for him. Although he will be far away from his beloved London (he was born and bred in Newham), where he has been a priest all his life to the best of my knowledge, Walsingham offers a mix of v…

All Roads Lead to Rome

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This is part of an article in the new look Catholic Herald this weekend entitles "Why Catholicism matters", which I thought was very well said:
All roads lead to Rome: that age old saying is as true today as it always was when pilgrims walked in droves from Canterbury to the Eternal City. Next time you watch a news bulletin or browse headlines online, try counting how many of the stories touch on the Catholic Church. Ebola? Yes, countless Catholic doctors and nurses are fighting the epidemic in West Africa. Protests in Hong Kong? Absolutely: Catholics are leading figures in he pro-democracy movement. ISIS? Of course: their leader boasts that his ragged troop will one day march on Rome.What accounts for the Church's wide influence? Simply its size, critics say. It's true that the numbers are staggering. There are an estimated 1,228 billion Catholics worldwide, served by 414,313 priests, 42,104 permanent deacons, 55,314 religious brothers and 702,529 female religious. …

Austen Ivereigh on Pope Francis

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There's lots of chatter regarding a new book by Austin Ivereigh. The story was first exposed by John Bingham of The Telegraph, but the import was really explained by Damian Thompson in The Spectatorhere.

Ivereigh is a former deputy editor of The Tablet who later became Director for Public Affairs of the former Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor. He occasionally appears on radio and TV programmes to comment on stories involving the Church.

He is also the founder and coordinator of Catholic Voices, a project which began in the UK to improve the Church's representation in the media, above all in news programs and debates.

The drama revolves around the purported lobbying for votes before the conclave. Organised lobbying of the type that Ivereigh alleges took place is dangerous, because it is strongly discouraged by the Church’s rules. Although Damian suggests the story may, or may not be true, I personally think it is very likely that Ivereigh said ex…

Testimony: Pope Francis is Leading Lost Sheep Back to the Church

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Splendor of The Church has this encouraging report from Fr. Manuel Francisco, a Jesuit from Manilla, who says that a large number of people who for some reason had fallen away from the Church to join other sects, have recently found sufficient reason to re-embrace Rome due to the Pope Francis' leadership by example.

“Even in the Philippines many have turned their backs on the Church and entered other denominations. The general, prevailing attitude then was disappointment with the Catholic Church … But Pope Francis has changed all that,” he said.

Francisco, who is also the general facilities supervisor of the Loyola School of Theology (LST) in Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU), believes that the pontiff has regained the confidence of many Catholics by making the Catholic faith “cool “ again .

“By this example, he has made living and witnessing the Catholic faith attractive,” the priest stressed.

Moreover, Francisco pointed out that the Holy Father is able to reach out to the secular…

Cardinal Nichols at the London Oratory

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I was really heartened to spot on the NLM blog that Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster was the celebrant at a Pontifical Mass for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception at the London Oratory on Monday.

The choir sang music by Lassus, Gabrieli and Victoria accompanied by period instruments. The Oratory have posted some great pictures on their Facebook page. Here are a few for your edification, the setting is truly beautiful:




The Oratory, of course, is renowned for it's reputation for excellent liturgy and wonderful music. It attracts people from miles around.

I am really excited to see our Cardinal Archbishop celebrating Mass in such beautiful surroundings. It is important that we embrace this traditional dimension to our worship because it helps us transcend the mundane and embrace the metaphysical reality of our worship. We are not worshiping the mundane, we are worshiping the divine. To worship in surroundings which we have tried our best to make as bea…

Father Stephen Morrison's First EF

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On Monday night I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a heavenly liturgy at the Church of Our Lady Immaculate, New London Road, Chelmsford. It was the first Mass said in the Extraordinary Form by our diocese' newest ordinand, Stephen Morrison, o.praem., who was ordained to the sacred priesthood on Saturday.


The presence of the Norbertine Order in Brentwood Diocese has been a source of great joy and many blessings for all faithful Catholics. I have heard nothing but praise from clergy & laity alike for the White Canons who have enhanced the beauty of our faith and formed a centre of sound teaching in Chelmsford. Their young Prior, Rt. Rev. Hugh Allan, is an inspirational priest, respected by all. He exudes priesthood, it is everything he is about. He is an excellent preacher and spiritual director, as well as being great fun. No wonder he leads an order that is so respected.

The Norbertines are a monastico-canonical order which traces it's foundation to before 1121. …

The Immaculate Conception Explained

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This is Greg Daly's excellent & concise explanation of the Immaculate Conception which he posted for the feast yesterday. Well worth a read if you are looking to better understand this doctrine:Mary’s preservation from sin has been mainstream Christian belief from about as early as we can tell in Christian history; it’s been embraced through history by Catholics, the Orthodox churches, and such Protestants as Martin Luther. Partly, it has to be said, the belief derives from incredulity that the flesh from which Jesus was made – Mary’s and Mary’s alone – could ever have been tainted by sin and been what C.S. Lewis called ‘enemy-occupied territory’.

At Luke 1:28, the angel salutes Mary as κεχαριτωμένη (Kekharitōmenē), traditionally translated ‘Full of Grace’, but more accurately rendered as something along the lines of ‘you who are already, absolutely, and enduringly endowed with grace’. It’s an extraordinarily unusual grammatical form, and is also the only instance we know of th…