Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Richard Rohr again !

One of my recently read books is Richard Rohr's "Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality." It's a must read book, in my opinion, that may end up a spiritual classic. There's an excellent review of the book here on Roland Croucher's blog. Some of Roland's other interesting Blogs can be found here.

Monday, 29 December 2008

My Space page

For some time now I have maintained a 'My Space' page. There isn't a lot on it except contacts with people who write music with a christian perspective. I include some of my own songs on this page which I hope some people might find of interest. They're not professional or well recorded but from the heart. I do hope somebody might enjoy them. If anyone wants to download them (some hope!) please let me know through the 'send a message' facility and I'll allow downloads to be enabled. To access the page click here or on the photograph.

Spiritus Christi

In a previous post about the United Ecumenical Catholic Church UK, I mentioned "Spiritus Christi" and perhaps they deserve their own post. Corpus Christi, a catholic community in Rochester, New York, developed an inclusive vision for parish life. This vision soon brought them at odds with the diocese. Trusting in where they felt God was leading the community they formed a "New Faith Community," eventually calling themselves "Spiritus Christi." People chose the name Spiritus Christi (Spirit of Christ) because it represents the spirit that arose from Corpus Christi (Body of Christ). Started by the former parishioners of Corpus Christi, Spiritus Christi is built on a strong foundation. Corpus Christi stood on two pillars: 1) Outreach to the poor, and 2) Inclusivity. Have a look at their website and see how the community has flourished and shown vision for the way in which the catholic church could realise the same vision in some parishes.

Friday, 26 December 2008

St Stephen

St Stephen, Deacon and Martyr. First Christian martyr and one of my patrons. Read about him in the "Acts of the Apostles" Chapter 6. or here

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Richard Rohr

I’ve just spent a quiet afternoon re dipping into Richard Rohr’s Book "Things Hidden: Scripture As Spirituality." Whenever I get ‘tetchy’ about left, right, up down, liberal, conservative, progressive, fundamentalist, it just calms the muddied waters and points me back towards the path God is carefully drawing me. Rohr’s books have been a revelation to me in the past few years in many ways, especially his insight into the ways in which we can expose our ego led intentions. If you are not familiar with Richard Rohr, have a look at his website or have a listen to one of three podcasts found here.

Monday, 22 December 2008

United Ecumenical Catholic Church

There's a lot going on in the blogging world where those who hold so called 'conservative' points of view conflict with those who hold what would be considered liberal points of view. Are the two positions really that incompatible ? Are they mutually exclusive ? The "United Ecumenical Catholic Church UK" looks beyond those limiting viewpoints. I think this Church, not unlike Spiritus Christi has a lot to teach. If anyone has ears . . . .

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Bishop Kieran Conry

I was quite impressed by the interview of Bishop Kieran Conry undertaken by Andrew M Brown in this weeks Catholic Herald (21st December). The full interview can be read here. It is rare to hear honest words about Papal teaching and the status of papal documents as being infallible teaching or not. Today, much is written about the life of the Church, her teaching, her liturgy etc. that the truth of it’s teaching is not always clear. By truth I don’t mean to call into question whether it teaches truth or not, but whether statements like the encyclical “Humanae Vitae is infallible teaching” are true or not. I would dearly love to know.

Many people in the church have ‘politicised’ their position and follow a view that represents their particular standpoint.

It would be refreshing to have more honest, less politicised debate as Bishop Conry has begun and for this I applaud him. Meanwhile I would greatly appreciate some feedback on the following questions.

1) is Humanae Vitae infallible teaching ?
2) does the general worldwide ‘dissent’ to Humanae Vitae constitute valid ‘non-reception’ of the teaching ?Why has Veterum Sapientia (Bl John XXIII 1962) not been implemented ? and is the non-reception of this teaching any different to that of Humanae Vitae ?

Saturday, 20 December 2008

"Diary of a small village catholic Church" - Episode 3

Pastors at St Mary’s did all they could to provide their congregation with adequate resources of Grace in order to prepare for the unforeseen. Though not for the faint hearted, an annual Novena took place in order to obtain the necessary assistance. (November, 14th 1869) "The Novena for a "Happy Death" begins next Sunday.” Advent, having a quasi-penitential character at this time, offered little succour to members of the congregation, even if you had completed Novembers Novena. The first two weeks of advent contained two fast days (November 20th 1880), "Wednesday and Friday are fasting days. Butter, cheese and milk may be used at collation." Week three was "Ember Week : Wednesday, Friday and Saturday : Fasting Days (December 12th, 1880) The final week of Advent reverts to a Wednesday and Friday fast With Christmas only a week away you could look forward to a feast. Or could you?

Notices for December 1875 "Warn about Xmas drinking - truce". The poor of the mission were not forgotten over the Christmas season. (December 22nd 1878) "Wednesday Christmas Day. Come to first (Mass), try to hear three — not obliged, no extra offering at door - but like Sunday make an offering on plate. Those who can, make up for those who can’t - if have nothing must not stop away. Drink- poverty - soup kitchen". And again in 1890, (December 14th) "Please do not forget the poor during this severe weather" (December 28th), "Please do not forget the poor boxes, for the receipts during the entire month have not been sufficient to supply coal for even one morning".

(December 19th, 1880) "Next Saturday (Xmas Day) is a holiday of obligation. The first public Mass will be at 6.30.am. This is intended to take the place of Midnight Mass. It will be the principle Mass of the day, at which all who can should make an effort to attend. The other Masses will be at 7.30. - 8.00. - 9.00. - 9.30. - 10.00 and 1030. After the last Mass there will be Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. There will be no evening service and the church doors will be closed at 5.00pm. All are requested to take an interest in the becoming decoration of the church and Altars for the Xmas Solemnities. Plants and flowers may be sent in early on Friday - Evergreens any time ether Wednesday morning. Offerings for Xmas decorations may be put in the boxes marked for that purpose".

Prinknash Abbey

Ever been to Prinknash Abbey near Gloucester ? If you haven't then a visit wouldn't disappoint you. It's a very special place where the veil between this world and the next is almost transparent. The Celts would probably describe it as a 'thin' place. My first visit occurred in October 1980. At the age of 17, as a student of a sixth form college, I was invited to attend a weekend retreat. Not knowing what a retreat was, I was more impressed by the fact there would 27 girls and three boys going and didn't hesitate to accept the invitation. The weekend became a turning point in my life and the special place Prinknash has in my heart has never left me. I came away from the weekend feeling drawn, as gravity draws and holds everything in place. Not only drawn, but, hungry to learn about the invisible 'force' that was both drawing me and holding me in place.

Over 28 years later I have learnt how special it was for one or two other people that weekend, whom I have bumped into in the oddest of places and they recalled how special Prinkash was for them. Without exception we have all returned taking groups of people we later became involved with. I took the choir I am involved with on two weekends and they too developed a special place in their heart for Prinknash. Sadly the Monastic community has diminished for a number of reasons and the retreat house, St Peter's Grange, has once again become the Monastery and the Monastery building they built in the 1970s has been sold. Have a look at their website here . If ever you get the chance to visit don't hesitate !

Pray as you Go

How do you begin your day ? Is the start of your day full of distractions, busy helping the children get ready for school, taking them to school or getting yourself ready ? Why not take 15 minutes out of your daily rush and have a listen to "Pray as you go?" The Jesuits have provided a daily (weekends excepted) 15 minute (approx) prayer time that can be played on your computer or downloaded to an i-pod / mp3 player. Each prayer session starts with a short call to prayer followed by a piece of music to still the mind and perhaps focus it on a particular thought. A reading from the Mass of the day follows and a few thoughts follow accompanied by prayerful music. The reading is repeated and some more commentary helps to gather your thoughts and prayfully respond to God's presence. What a way to begin, or end your day. Have a look here . If you like to pray a little more quietly and have the time why not look at the sister site "Sacred Space." This site provides an Ignatian style period of prayer that can last as long or as short as you like. "Sacred Space" can be found here . I've found these two sites invaluable and have been a real blessing. I Hope you might find them as helpful as I have. Do let me know what you think.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

“Diary of a Small Village Catholic Church.” Episode 2.

The year 1872 saw the first of many redecorations of the Church. A sum of £16 was raised for the decoration of the Lady Chapel (May 5 - June 9). Appeals for the Blessed Sacrament Chapel soon followed. Presumably the Stained Glass windows were added to these Chapels at the time. The Lady Altar window bears the inscription "Pray for the Soul of Joanna Simpson who died Sept 8 1859". The Blessed Sacrament Chapel window implores prayers for deceased members of the Roskell family. Richard Butler Roskell was the son of Robert and Anne. He was born on the 15 August 1817 and his Baptism is recorded in our church registers kept in the Liverpool Central Library Archives, although it would have taken place at the old St Benets Priory Chapel. Roskell was the first Priestly ordination that Bishop Wiseman undertook after his Episcopal consecration in 1840. Later, in 1853 the now Cardinal Wiseman consecrated Roskell the Second Bishop of Nottingham.

Notices for the 17th of October 1875. "Next Sunday reopening of Church. Mass at 8 is free but make an offering if you can’t attend at 10.30. Mass at 9 is for the children. If they come to the 10.30 mass they must behave like grown ups. There is no excuse to miss this occasion as two masses are free. There will be Pontifical High Mass — sermon by Dr Roskell (Bishop) . . . Mass 2 Deacons at throne - two at Mass — Dr Burchall as Lord Abbot and assistant M .C. (Dr Burchall founded the Church and is buried close to the main entrance) There will be 6 Priests - Abbot — 2 Bishops . . . great ceremony ! Not one like it for 15 years - when again! Tickets shown by collectors - bench holders on time, none admitted without tickets or money . . . no hardship . . . Evening admission as on handbills . . . in good time . . . Come to both — Tickets freely taken. Thanks, " Render to Caesar and to God" - so duty - pleasure - confident of success. Work with me — 2 years since I (Fr Placid Whittle) came ".

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Our Lady of Marazion, Cornwall.

A couple of years ago my wife and I enjoyed a holiday in Cornwall. One day we decided to visit St Michaels Mount. Though we never got there, we did spend a lovely sunny afternoon in the Village of Marazion, on the mainland, directly across from St Michaels Mount. In the village stands All Saints C of E Church, a quiet place amid a bustling (in the Summer at any rate) community. I'm not really given to gazing at statues and so forth, but I was quite taken aback by a statue of Mary carefully cradling the infant Jesus, that stands in a corner of the church. The tender hold Mary has on her baby son was so gentle yet firm. Her whole upper body seems to participate in the caress. Every line, curve or cut of the wood seems to take part in carefully holding, protecting and tenderly loving the sleeping baby. It moved me more than any statue I have seen. Have a look and tell me what you think.

“Diary of a Small Village Catholic Church.” Episode 1.

Some years ago I was given access to our parish archives. There exists a number of notice books dating back to the latter half of the 19th century. After reading through them and copying down some notable entries, an interesting snapshot of parish life could be built up. These entries were arranged under headings and some of these I think would make interesting blog material. Entries in the notice books were written in a sort of ‘short hand’ English so they are reproduced here in italics, with some filling in required in non italicised text. So here is the first instalment of a blog series “Diary of a Small Village Catholic Church.” Episode 1.

Our Church was opened in 1860 and the first ‘notice' book takes up the story of the church some eight years later beginning June 28 1868. January 1869 sees the first of many appeals for money. There will be "a collection today to meet the expense of apparatus for heating the church". This collection realised £8.1.11. It is known that the church could seat 500 in the pews that were available to those who paid bench rates (due quarterly). These bench rents were intended, in part, to subsidise heating costs. (Nov 4, 1877) “Bench rents due, very expensive to keep up fire, give a little, 6d sitting. Those not sitting put on plate next Sunday – don’t impose, but suggest. Heating apparatus : unpaid £15.”

Nuns arrived during the year 1870. No mention is made of who, or where, but entries in the notice book tell their own story.

July 10 th : "All those who have not yet made their offering to the Convent, please to do so as soon as possible. The offerings for this purpose will be thankfully received in the vestry".
July 17 th : "Collection to furnish Convent. Nuns arrive on Friday !"
In the absence of other events occurring around about this time, it is reasonable to conclude that an entry for the 23th July refers to the opening of the Convent, - "Last Mass today (10.30 am.) to ask Gods blessing on work this day begun.”

Monday, 15 December 2008

Frosty Day

Don't you just love days like these ? It started off a lovely frosty morning here in Liverpool - I guess it's nice if you know you have a lovely warm house waiting for you.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

We Are Church

For a number of years I've been interested in the aims of the Movement 'We Are Church.' There is a UK group with a website here and blog here

The Manifesto for the Movement was formulated in Rome in 1997 and is reproduced below.
Manifesto of the International Movement We Are Church

Proclaimed in Rome, 12 October 1997

Here in Rome, 35 years ago, Pope John XXIII opened the Second Vatican Council. Catholics throughout the world have put great hope on this event : that might result a more credible church - free, collegial, poor, and a servant.

We need a Church of love, where all are accepted equally.
We need a catholic [i.e. universal ] Church, where each person is welcome with his/her life experiences, images of God and longing for community.
We need a Church that affirms God's creation, that acts in a reconciling manner and reflects the unconditional love of Jesus Christ for all humankind.
We need a Church committed to justice and peace, and which puts solidarity with the excluded of the world at the centre of its action.

In the certainty that God's Spirit leads her /his Church on new ways, millions of Christians have supported the Kirchenvolks- Begehren. [i.e. Petition, Declaration, Referendum, etc.]

They signed the five demands :
The building of a Church of brothers and sisters that recognizes the equality of all the baptized, including the inclusion of the People of God in the election of bishops in their local churches.
Equal rights for men and women, including the admission of women to all Church ministries.
Free choice of either a celibate or married life for all those who dedicate themselves to the service of the church.
A positive attitude toward sexuality, and a recognition of personal conscience in decision -making.
A message of joy and not condemnation, including dialogue, freedom of speech and thought. No anathemas and no exclusion as a means of solving problems, especially as this applies to theologians.

We stand here for all these people. We speak in their name and we declare that we will continue our journey within the Catholic Church.

We have a dream that the Third Millennium will begin with a truly ecumenical Council of all Christian Churches, which will regard each other as equals in their search for peace and friendship among themselves. This will be a Council marked by dialogue and respect for all religions - at the service of the world.

Avery Dulles

I was sorry to hear of the death of Cardinal Avery Dulles. He died on December 12th aged 90. His book "Models of the Church" helped me to realise there is no 'one size fits all' way of looking at the Church ! A detailed obituary can be found below. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/13/AR2008121301911.html

Saturday, 13 December 2008


Welcome to the first post of what might hopefully be a productive Blog! Thought I'd begin my Blog life with a relatively 'safe' topic.
It's the time of year when Chrurches everywhere are preparing a crib for their church. This has been done since 1223 when St Francis of Assisi created a Nativity scene for the towns people of Greccio, Italy. It would be great to see pictures of cribs from Churches around the uk. Why not add a link to yours ? Here's one from my Church in Liverpool for Christmas 2007.
Looking forward to this blogging lark.