Wednesday, 23 December 2009

What Sweeter Music . . . .

My favourite Carol. Turn the lights down, sit back and relax . . . . .

What sweeter music can we bring
Than a carol, for to sing
The birth of this our heavenly King?
Awake the voice! Awake the string!

Dark and dull night, fly hence away,
And give the honor to this day,
That sees December turned to May.

Why does the chilling winter’s morn
Smile, like a field beset with corn?
Or smell like a meadow newly-shorn,
Thus, on the sudden? Come and see
The cause, why things thus fragrant be:
‘Tis He is born, whose quickening birth
Gives life and luster, public mirth,
To heaven, and the under-earth.

We see him come, and know him ours,
Who, with his sunshine and his showers,
Turns all the patient ground to flowers.
The darling of the world is come,
And fit it is, we find a room
To welcome him. The nobler part
Of all the house here, is the heart.

Which we will give him; and bequeath
This holly, and this ivy wreath,
To do him honour, who’s our King,
And Lord of all this revelling.

What sweeter music can we bring,
Than a carol for to sing
The birth of this our heavenly King?

Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

If you had the world's attention for 1 minute . . .

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Whereabouts of St Nick !

So you think St Nicholas, Bishop of Myra is buried in Myra don't you ? Well, you could be right and you could be wrong.

According to Philip Lynch, historian and chairman of Callan Heritage Society in Co Kilkenny, St Nicholas is buried at Jerpoint Abbey in County Kilkenny.

Don't believe me ? Take a look here biggora !

Monday, 21 December 2009

Richard Rohr : The Naked Now

I have been having a Blog free Advent and reading Richard Rohr's latest book "The Naked Now." Here's a few excerpts to whet your appetite !

Pg22 - In prayer, we merely keep returning the divine gaze and we become it’s reflection, almost in spite of ourselves. (2Cor 3:18)
The core task of all good spirituality is to teach us to co-operate with what God already wants to do and has already begun to do. (Rom 8:28)

Pg 29 - It is hardly an exaggeration to say that “us and them” seeing and the dualistic thinking that results, is the foundation of almost all discontent and violence in the world.

Pg 74 - Western culture is a can do – busy doing things, rather than prayer – an interior practice allowing the Divine Gaze to invade and heal our unconsciousness, the place where 95% of our motivation and reactions come from.

Pg 78 - The Gospel never record Jesus having a single pre-requisite for his healings; no affiliation with the right group, no moral worthiness, no attendance at the right temple, no o purity codes, nothing except desire itself.

Pg 88 - Anyone who is willing to take up the burden of the much more difficult task, not the manageable complexity of rules and regulations, but the unmanageable simplicity of being present to your life in love – that person is walking the path of Jesus

Pg 97 - Surely God does not exist so that we can think correctly about him or her. Amazingly and wonderfully, like all good parents, God desires instead the flourishing of what God created and what God loves – ourselves.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Your words are Spirit Lord . . . .

The Liverpool Archdiocesan Vicariate for Evangelisation with St.Cuthbert’s Catholic Community College, St.Helens, has produced a helpful and prayerful resource for Advent. It is called simply the “Sunday Gospel”.

For each Sunday of Advent and the Christmas season there is a reflective and prayerful version of the Gospel which can be viewed on an iphone, mp3 player or computer. Have a look. There is also a digital Advent Calendar—minus the chocolate, but filled with much tastier surprises. Click on the picture above or the banner on the right.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

"Who do you say I am ?"

Many Christians define themselves by the denomination to which they belong. I’m a Roman Catholic so I believe . . . . I’m a Methodist so I believe . . . . I’m an Anglican so I believe . . . I’m a fundamentalist so I must believe . . . I’m a reformed this or that so I believe this because . . . . Is there an alternative position ? Do we have to define ourselves by what we are for or more often against ?

Moreover, do we have to convince ourselves and others of our rightness. What is it about belonging that makes us define ourselves by what we believe or define ourselves by the denomination we belong to. ? Do we want to belong or be transformed by the Gospel ?

If we are asked to say something about how Jesus taught we’d probably say through parables. The parables usually contain messages that aren’t black or white, right or wrong or allow us to rest in the certainty we so often crave, often without realising. They have the authority to transform us, taking us beyond the realm of our ego.

Think also about how many times Jesus said “the kingdom of heaven is like . . . .” He didn’t say the kingdom of heaven is . . . . Many Christians place certainty as the sign of rightness for their faith. Jesus didn’t ! He just said “The Kingdom of God is like . . . . “ In Luke’s Gospel Jesus says “The Kingdom of God is among you. Luke 17 : 21.

Many Christians live in the light of Jesus’ death and resurrection and the promise of eternal life that follows from Jesus’ act of salvation. What was it that attracted people to Jesus before the salvific event? They couldn’t have known it was coming.

“Who do you say I am ?”

I hope I’m never certain of the answer. Not this side of life anyhow !

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Christianity Survey

Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch - one of the world's leading historians - reveals the origins of Christianity and explores what it means to be a Christian

The program is also taking part in an Open University survey of what it means to be a Christian. Why not take part ? Click the link here

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Being present to the Presence

Conservative thinks themselves above Liberal, Liberal thinks they are Liberal, Protestants set themselves against catholic, fundamentalists set themselves against everyone. All sincerely seek God in Jesus ! What the heck has it come to ?

More and more I see the contemplative mind as the antidote to all of the above. Being present to God in the NOW, being transformed by the Gospel of and the presence of Jesus, being transformed by God rather than entrenching my position as a liberal, Tridentinist, Franciscan or whatever. The presence of God is the presence of God is the presence of God.

I thank God so much for teachers like Richard Rohr and Cynthia Bourgeault. Also for loved ones and friends who reflect the presence in their life, the God in whose image they too were made.

God is present to us in the now, be transformed by God, not by belonging . . .

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Catholic TV

Having just recovered from a shocking chest infection with my back going in the middle of it all, I thought I’d share some of the ways the Internet and catholic TV on the internet helped me pass the time.

First of all, I’m not usually this insular, just searching for catholic TV, but if I widened my ‘view’ I don’t think I’d have ever watched anything.

If you have found any other good TV resources please let me know. I’d be fascinated to hear – honest ! Here goes

Watch and Pray. A whole range of places in Ireland to observe Mass, the Rosary, parts of the Office or Eucharistic adoration and some classic non-committal hymn singing.

Have a nosey at the grotto in Lourdes on live TV, join in with the Rosary or watch any of the archived programs.

The Catholic community of St Paul in Leesburg, Florida have a webcam online 24 hours of the day. Sunday Mass is a lively affair with a thoughtful homily. Occasionally you might come across choir practice or a weekday service. Part of the Catholic Community Television Network (CCTN) archived programs from St Pauls can be found here appears to be based in Belgium and has a number of archived programs. Beware, some are only trailers, though eventually you might find a really fascinating program such as this interview with Gerard W Hughes. had some of the best and worst of programs I found. On the sad side take a look at this and I dare you not to cringe. However, the series, 'Catholic Destinations' give an insight to places of pilgrimage you might not have been to and would like to know more about, eg the Shrine of St Therese of Lisieux

“Salt and Light Television” based in Toronto have some brilliant documentary programs that can be watched online. You can watch a super documentary on Mary MacKillop and there are links to a range of programs on You Tube

Finally You Tube is always a varied source of inspirational and ‘outspirational’ offerings. I hope my two weeks in bed has been worthwhile for you and that my being called to stillness has been worth it.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Fr Gerry Malone CSsR Questions Mandatory Celibacy for Priests

Independent Catholic News are running this story relating to mandatory celibacy for Roman Catholic priests. Fr Gerry Moloney, CSsR says: “The issue of mandatory celibacy has to be looked at”. Recognising that married priests already minister in the Church through former Anglicans who joined the Catholic Church, Fr Moloney asks if the thousands of men who left the priesthood in order to marry could be readmitted. He further asks whether the Year for Priests has anything special to say to women?

He concludes that the Year for Priests is “a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our priests and the work they do but it must also allow for an open, honest discussion about the priest shortage, and what the Holy Spirit might be saying to us about this crisis.”

Have a look for yourself and thankyou so much Fr Moloney for daring to speak the unspeakable ! Find out more about reality magazine here.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

A Minute for Madeleine . . .

Please take one minute to watch this video of Madeleine McCann who was taken from her family whilst on holiday in Portugal. If you think you have any news, please contact the UK Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre here

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Ecumenical Christian Chrch UK

The Ecumenical Christian Church UK has updated their website. Why not go and have a look ?
In the Ecumenical Christian Church UK you will find ...

a Sacramental Church that is open to all
an inclusive church for all, regardless of gender or orientation
a Church that is faithful to the historic teachings of the universal church
they are open to new expressions of that faith
but don't trust my word on that, go and have a look . . . .

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Bishops Without Mitres !

This ones for a friend of mine ! Bishops without Mitres - whatever next ?

They're the 2009 Episcopal Ordinations within the international initiative Roman Catholic Women Priests

Episcopal Ordinations April 19, 2009
Bishops pictured from left to right: Ida Raming (Germany) Regina Nicolosi (Minnesota),
Patricia Fresen (Germany), Andrea Johnson (Maryland), Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger (Austria),
Joan Houk (Pennslyvania), Bridget Mary Meehan (Virginia and Florida

Catholica !

How on earth has it taken me so long to discover Catholica ? It's a veritable minefield of challenges and common sense in a catholic world of invisible motives and 'lets stick to the Papal thread' stories. It's not for the canonically convinced, but for those with a predisposition towards putting people before churchianity. I feel like I've found a new friend. Go have a look here . . .

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Ordination of Morag Liebert

Bridget Mary's Blog ran the news of the ordination to Priesthood of Morag Liebert, the first woman to be ordained, in the UK, into the international initiative "Roman Catholic Women Priests." This initiative aims to bring about “a new model of ordained ministry in a renewed Roman Catholic Church." Morags ordination took place in Augustine United Church in Edinburgh, Scotland on Oct. 24, 2009. Congratulations Morag !

Change has to be created by people generous enough to pursue the vision of an inclusive ‘catholic’ church. If prophetic individuals and groups can show how the Church of God could be then maybe this will bring about a real vision of hope. Morag can be seen 2nd from the left in this clip from her ordination.

Blessed Mary MacKillop

A film about the life of Blessed Mary MacKillop has been released by Salt and Light Television, a Canadian based catholic television network. The video can be freely watched online and is well worth a visit.

Once the introductions are over a detailed account of her life is given. To view the film go to the webpage, scroll down a little and click on the play symbol.

Remember, "When you see a need tend to it." - Mary MacKillop

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Gerard W Hughes

Being laid up in bed at the moment has it's benefits. Just found an interview with Gerard W Hughes. I'd like to know if there's any more of this interview to be found on the web. Click on the picture or here to watch the short interview.

Saturday, 24 October 2009


Over the past few weeks I’ve been chewing over the reasons why many Christian denominations use vestments in their worship, with some using them more elaborately than others. Some see them as a distraction, an outdated irrelevance left over from imperial Rome or even idolatrous. Others see them as beautifying worship or enhancing the dignity of the office the wearer represents e.g. a priest acting ‘in persona Christi.’

I’m beginning to think that as human beings we have an inbuilt desire to dress in a manner that enables us to say something about ourselves. Think of the many situations in which people of many countries, faiths or affiliation wear clothing to identify function, status or belonging. School uniform, football club kit, Masonic regalia, university graduates, Goths, traditional dress, skinheads, tribal clothing, religious habit, designer wear, Royal family ceremonial all say something about our affiliation, status or our spiritual/temporal outlook.

I think it important to scratch the surface and to challenge why such regalia are used whilst recognising that such things do draw people together. Even the rejection of such things draws people together in a similar way.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Anti Vatican II Revisionist

As people are beginning to write a ‘revisionist’ history of the II Vatican Council this website provides a breath of fresh air, just as the open windows intended. There are some excellent essays especially about reception of the Council. Regardless of whether you are Roman or not this website is a solid schooling in the Council and it’s effect on recent church history.

Geoffrey Nobes

What a wonderful antidote to a stressful day ! Unwind in a spirit of prayerful thanksgiving as this music gently absolves and heals the wounds of the day ! This weeks promise - to find out more about his music - a wonderful antidote to some of the triumphalist clashing and clanging of cymbals style of liturgical music. Thankyou Geoffrey and Kevin Mayhew.


It has been said that prayer is to the soul and the spiritual life, what air is to the lungs and body. If the lungs don’t work properly the body doesn’t perform the way it should and if you don’t pray, the same can be said of the soul. In a praying soul the vision of God grows in the mind, heart and spirit of the pray-er.

Personal relationships (coupled with a huge dose of honesty about yourself, knowing your personal traits) reflect the vision of God that is growing in your heart and mind. This is true in very close relationships with a spouse or partner, those we consider friends, those we consider acquaintances and then the vast majority of people who we meet on busses, trains, in the shops and so on.

We both feed and reflect on the life of God through praying the scriptures, especially the Gospels and spiritual reading. This reflecting has to be your reflection, free from ‘pious’ generalisations. It shouldn’t be forced. There are no right answers. In a room of 100 people each person would reflect differently on the words of Jesus, “Do not be afraid.”

Keep a journal. Note any thoughts that stick out during your time of prayer or jump into your head throughout the day. What is your first thought on waking up ? – write it in your journal. Week by week the journal may begin to reflect God’s revealing presence in your life. You may be pleasantly surprised. You may be shocked.

I think it was Brennan Manning in “The Ragamuffin Gospels” who said, “There is nothing we can do to make God love us more and there is nothing we can do to make God love us less.” Not a bad starting point for a pilgrimage in the spirit ?

Friday, 9 October 2009

"Future Church"

Strange to have only found this site today. “Future Church” has some fascinating articles, so relevant to the renewal of Catholicism in our day. A campaign for optional celibacy for Roman Catholic priests is their banner project and they are supported by the no less important projects to increase scripture references to women in the Liturgy, celebrate women witnesses the place of Mary Magdalen as an apostle to the Apostles and women in church leadership.

Future Church believes that it must work with the Roman Catholic Church to create a climate for change. I personally think that change has now to be created by people brave enough to pursue the vision of an inclusive ‘catholic’ church. The Roman Church doesn’t want change. Perhaps if prophetic individuals and groups can show how the Church of God should be then maybe, just maybe there may be created a vision of hope.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

St Maria Skobtsova

Big thumbs up to "Gay Mystic" for this post about the Orthodox Dorothy Day, St Maria Skobtsova. This fascinating lady is so worthy of mention and she would so understand the emerging church.
Have a good read about her, clicking on the photo or above link.
Thankyou also for his thumbs up of the United Ecumenical Catholic Church !

Transitus of St Francis of Assisi

From it’s earliest days the followers of St Francis have gathered on the anniversary of his death to celebrate his transitus, that is, St. Francis' passage from earthly life into everlasting life. Here, we, too, gathered to celebrate the light, which Francis was to his world.

But, our celebration was not only a memorial, a remembering of one who has gone before us. It was also a celebration of the spirit of Francis in our midst today, in each of us. This is a time when we, inspired by Francis, consider how we can be light for our world.

St Francis left his followers a mandate as he lay dying. “I have done what is mine to do. May Christ teach you what is yours.”

Saturday, 3 October 2009

A Contemplative Mind ?

As a child, did you ever stand on a chair at the kitchen sink, hands in a bowl of water, tap running, filling cup after cup of water and pouring it into an already full bowl ? Sometimes slowly, sometimes all at once from a great height for a deeper thumping noise as the water hits the overflowing basin ? The inquisitiveness, discovering the wateryness of water. How you can use water to make sounds, long short, deep, loud or soft.

This is the ‘attitude’ of the Contemplative mind. To 'behold' the world around us, to wonder at the ordinariness of everyday life, the people we encounter, our experiences and encounters that discover us. In prayerful reflection to encounter the life of God in all things. Encountering the revelation of the ‘Godlyness’ of God in all things, as we explored the ‘wateryness’ of water as children.

A contemplative life is also a journey both into yourself and out of yourself. It is a pilgrimage through your aspirations and motives, a journey in self discovery of the ‘youyness’ of you ! How does this ‘you’ look at other people and the world around you ? Examine your motives both good and those that shut us off from the world around us. If creation has it’s source in the Creator, then all are holy and everything that has life and breath is Holy.

Here the journey out of yourself begins, as all things are therefore sustained in the life of our Creator. If this is so, then all things are somehow one, reflecting the mystery of God who creates and sustains us. As Cardinal Newman says*, “I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons, God has not created me for naught”

The contemplative mind is journey, pilgrimage and gift. We discover the journey in prayerful reflection upon the ordinariness of everyday. We listen within to the taste, touch, smell, sight and none-sense of all things, as the Mystery of God is present to us loving, longing and seducing.

*Meditations and Devotions Pt II Hope in God the Creator 2: 2-3

Sunday, 27 September 2009


A short post to celebrate the freedom we have to live our catholic, Christian faith in relative peace. So many people around the world pay a great price for their faith. I have just come across this website Persecution, which makes known the suffering of ordinary people, persecuted because of ignorance and injustice. Take time out to have a look at their website here.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Relics of St Therese in Liverpool

I’ve had the banner advertising the presence of the relics of St Therese of Lisieux in Great Britain, on the blog for as long as the blog has existed. At last they arrived in Liverpool and off we went to pray quietly near them in the superb Cathedral of Christ the King.

There were hundreds of people there. A background chatter of personal stories hummed around the cathedral. People were meeting other people, who were telling stories ‘binding’ themselves in their common love of the Saint of Lisieux. “Have you come from St Helens ?”, “My grandmother went to Lisieux” and on and on the whispering stories went.

The power of this little girl who joyfully lived much of her life, unknown in Carmel, until her death at the age of 24. All these hundreds of people bound together in religious faith. Each one with a story, each one loved by God, by a girl who wanted to spend her heaven doing good on earth, who in the heart of the Church wanted to be love . . . we certainly need more love in the heart of the Church.
St Therese pray for us . . .

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Stained Glass Windows

Two beautiful stained glass windows from the catholic church of St Winefride Neston.

The first is a window to Saint John Plessington and the second our Lady star of the sea.

Aren't they lovely ! click on them to see all the detail. I love all the fishy pictures on the Stella Maris window.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

United Ecumenical Catholic Church

A new global website has appeared for the United Ecumenical Catholic Church. Have a good look and you may be surprised. The Church has links to it's presence in the UK, USA and Australaisia. This young and vibrant Church is growing and has been called into being to minister to all.

Jesus didn't say "Come to me all you who labour and are heavy burdened . . . unless of course you are seperated, divorced and remarried, gay lesbian, bi, transgendered, disagree with the pope, or are intrinsically disordered in some other way. NO ! . . . . Where two or three are gathered in my name there am I, in as much as you do to the least of these little ones, you do unto me, Yes I am with always - No conditions here.

The church is changing in many different ways. I can only repeat my earlier view that -

"the ECCUK, it appears to me, is a prophetic sign in this country, and indeed the world, of how the church of Christ could be. I thank you for your dedication and ministries and look forward to seeing lots of growth in your communities. Perhaps I too may seek renewed life there as I heed +Terry's invitation to "focus our wills and minds on discerning what it is that God wants of us in each and every moment of the day and of our lives individually and together."

A statement which in itself is proving to be prophetic in more ways than one.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Walk to Jerusalem : Gerard W Hughes

Just finished reading Gerard W. Hughes book “Walk to Jerusalem: In Search of Peace,” for the second time. It’s amazing how when re-reading a book different passages sing to you that a previous reading didn’t hear.

Written in a diary style, it records events, thoughts and encounters as this Scottish Jesuit walked from Great Britain to Jerusalem in 1987. A passage from the final chapter (pg239) is worth including here. It sort of ‘complements’ my previous post.

“We are all called to that inner knowing which recognises God at work in all things, heart of the universe, the life giving power which bonds our tiny fragmented selves to the heart of God in whom all things exist. Anything, no matter how ridiculous and meaningless it seems, which can deepen that inner knowing, whether it is a walk to Jerusalem on foot, or a visit to a church, or just a moments silence to worship him in spirit and in truth, is more precious and life giving than anything else we can do.

I left Jerusalem knowing that his peace is offered to us in every place and at every time. For it’s dwelling place is in our hearts.”

Fundamentalist ?

Unless you fulfil all the rules and meet all the regulations you cannot get to heaven – Faiths where there is a Fundamentalist aspect probably preach this lesson. Unless you stick to the rules, how can you be part of the club?

Some maintain that in keeping to the rules there is wisdom, strength and certainty of salvation. This is the Way – any who do not keep the rules, or listen to them and decide they are not for them are, or should be condemned to everlasting flames. It’s not just some fundamentalist Christians that teach this.

The 20th century has a lesson in conformity, banishing those who do not conform, those who are not ‘pure’ those who do not stick to the rules. Almost universally condemned – Adolf Hitler. Yet some religious groups are as ‘fascist’ as Hitler. What does it say about their God, or their view of God. A God of Love ?

Friday, 28 August 2009

Forgive us O Lord . . .

We are constantly in need of the healing and forgiving Spirit of God in our life. We shape the way our eyes and other senses make sense of the world, our relationships, the people we mix with, the judgements we make about people and things through our own petty prejudices, often taking the line of least resistance in order to maintain a level of comfort and stability that maintains our perceived ‘well being’ and our own ‘rightness’ about how we understand the world.

If we feel our comfort or view is ‘threatened’ we immediately take action using strategies we are probably not even aware of. We possibly ignore what has been said, we might have heard what was said but because the eyes of our prejudice view the other person and say “I am cleverer that that person, that person is less important than I am,” or “I earn more,” our sense of security remains unthreatened. What violence we create within ourselves often without realising.

Why not break this cycle of violence ? Maintaining this perceived level of comfort, well-being, rightness, call it what you will, can permeate every level of our lives, personal, professional and spiritual. Recognise this principle is a part of your personality. Make no judgement about it, whether it’s good or bad, right or wrong but acknowledge it.

When Jesus said “Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour,” (matt 25:13) it could be said that we need to be awake and aware to who we really are – just as vulnerable and in need of the forgiving, healing presence of God as all those we sit in judgement upon.

Don’t forget the “Parable of the Unmerciful Servant” in Matthew 18 : 21-32. “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ Again "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who tresspass against us."

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

St Dunawd, Bangor on Dee

Undertook a visit to the Church of St Dunawd, Bangor on Dee, Wales. It has an interesting history as can be read in the online "New Advent" catholic encyclopedia.

The monastery of Bangor of the Dee was known also as Bangor-is-Coed, i.e. "the eminent choir under the wood". The name Bangor was applied to several large monasteries, and is said to be derived from "Benedictus Chorus", shortened into Benchor, and subsequently written as Bangor.

The monastery on the Dee was distance about ten or twelve miles from Chester, and its ruins witness to its former extent and importance. St. Bede the Venerable (lib. II, c. ii.) says that it was filled with learned men at the coming of St. Augustine into England. Of the founder of this religious house and its history little if anything seems to be known, as all its chronicles, documents, etc. have been lost or destroyed.

We know, however, of its tragic extinction about the year 603. While the forces of Cadvan, King of North Wales, engaged those of the pagan and usurping Edilfrid of Northumbria, the monks were assembled on an eminence a short distance from the place of conflict. "The two armies", says Lingard, "met in the vicinity of Chester.

On the summit of a neighbouring hill, Edilfrid espied an unarmed crowd, the monks of Bangor, who, like Moses in the wilderness, had hoped by their prayers to determine the fate of battle. "If they pray", exclaimed the pagan, "they fight against us"; and he ordered a detachment of his army to put them to the sword...Chester was taken, and Bangor (monastery) demolished.

The scattered ruins demonstrated to subsequent generations the extent of that celebrated monastery" (Hist. Engl., II, 96). He adds in a note: "the number of monks slain on the hill is generally said to have been twelve hundred; but St. Bede observes that others besides the monks had assembled to pray. He supposes that the victory of Edilfrid fulfilled the predictions of Augustine."

Monday, 24 August 2009

Celtic Christianity

When you mention ‘Celtic’ Christianity, many think of a wishy washy mish-mash of pagan and Christian ideas. The reality is very different. A recent visit to the Isle of Man has started a renewed interest in Celtic Christianity for me.

Imagine a Christian/catholic church, untouched by the Triumphalism and Imperialism of the both the Roman civilisation and Roman Church as has developed over the last 1000 years. A short article here cannot do justice to the breadth of Celtic Christianity but these short pointers might whet your appetite.

The Holy Spirit is depicted as a wild goose in Celtic iconography rather than a gentle dove. You never quite know where you are with an unpredictable wild goose !

An emphasis on experiencing God through all the senses – nothing new to catholic Christianity but do we really recognise and value the use of all our senses in worship, prayer and daily life ?

Life is viewed as pilgrimage

What is deepest in us is the image of God. Sin distorts but cannot erase it in the desire to live the struggle between good and evil.

Memorising scripture and recognising the rhythm of the seasons is important.

Community, prayer and hospitality are at the heart of the local church.

There is a non dualistic character where the paradoxes and apparent contradictions of faith can be left to be just that rather than having the need to seek an infallible certainty in all areas of faith.

Creation is seen as a ‘sacrament’. All creation sings as one great revelation and hymn of praise to the creator.

Make no mistake, all of these things can be found in the Church today. It is not that they are ‘new,’ but they are a synthesis of Christian belief, spirituality and expression that find a resonance in Celtic Christianity. A similar synthesis of belief, spirituality and expression can be found in the ‘carisms’ of religious orders and lay communities.

The Cross in the above photograph was taken in Bride Church, Isle of Man. Information on the Cross can be found here at fig 50.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Saint Alban

Just returned from a wonderful few weeks break. I'll be writing about some of the places I've been over the coming posts.

To begin with here's the Shrine of St Alban the frist English martyr. Obviously it is found in the Cathedral of St Albans and no prizes for guessing where that is.

There are some stunning things to see in the cathedral and it must be said it's a very prayerful place where centuries of pilgrims footseps can almost be heard in the silence.

Thankfully it was a lovely sunny day outside and this had superb benefit inside in the form of great shafts of light radiating into the huge space and flooding it with light.

Also out side in the cemetery is buried Robert Runcie, a former Bishop of St Albans and Archbishop of Canterbury.

A stunning place to visit, to pray and be gently encouraged to continue the pilgrimage through life following the lead of the Holy Spirit.

Friday, 21 August 2009


Have been on holiday for a few weeks and should resume posting very soon !

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Peace Pilgrim

How wonderfully simple. At he age of 44 Mildred Norman left her life circumstances and became 'Peace Pilgrim' walking her way around the USA for 30 years. Have a look at her wiki entry or make time to watch the Youtube video. Think I'm off out for a walk !

Anne, lay apostle

Not sure what to make about this website. Have a look yourself by clicking the logo. I admire her life of prayer and reflection.
Whenever I come across this kind of thing I generally feel uneasy. However, I think of the words of Francis of Assisi, as he lay dying. "I have done my part, you must now do yours." I usually take this to mean I must work out what it is God wants me to do, through prayer, reading the Gospels, reflection, (reflection is prayer isn't it ?) reception of the sacraments, and a great deal of trust.
I'm not for thinking that I should imitate someone elses way of finding God. Doing the things they did, thinking the toughts they had. If God wants me to be a great Saint, then God would make me one. However, first and foremost I know God just wants me to be me ! Thank God-ness for that.

Friday, 31 July 2009

Vaticans Got Talent !

Thought this was a bit of fun - Thanks to the BBC "Top of the Popes"

Monday, 27 July 2009

Radiating Christ

Thought I'd post one of my favourite prayers written by Cardinal Newman. It speaks something of JHN's comtemplative spirituality. A refreshing change from his 'heady' writing. I'm trying to set it to music at the moment. It's a great challenge.

If you've never been a fan of Newman his life is well worth studying. He followed his conscience, his 'Kindly Light', throughout his life, whatever the personal cost.
It led him into, and through, some difficult times.

This is the aspect of Newman's life I admire. This prayer became a favourite with Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity

Dear Jesus,

help me to spread Your fragrance everywhere I go.
Flood my soul with Your Spirit and Life.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that my life may only be a radiance of Yours.

Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come into contact with may feel Your presence in my soul. Let them look up, and see no longer me, but only Jesus!

Stay with me and then I will begin to shine as You shine,
so to shine as to be a light to others.

The light, O Jesus, will be all from You; none of it will be mine.
It will be You, shining on others through me.

Let me preach You without preaching,
not by words but by example,
by the catching force,
the sympathetic influence of what I do,
the evident fullness of the love my heart hears for You. Amen.

Vatican II Petition

54,104 signatures for world-wide petition on Second Vatican Council – Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith not ready for reception

54,104 women and men from all continents signed the petition "For the full recognition of the decrees of the Second Vatican Council" online or on paper lists. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, however, is not ready to receive petition and signatures in order to start a dialogue with the initiators of the petition. Even the Apostolic Nuntius’ intensive efforts of mediation were not successful.

The response to the petition went far beyond the German-speaking countries and showed nearly twice as many signatures than the campaign “Yes to Benedict” which started at the same time; this signifies a vivid hope for a Church that is open to present issues and that recalls the central importance of the incarnation of God as well as an “aggiornamento”.

The efforts to translate the reforms into action which were started by the Second Vatican Council still meet strong support inside the Roman-Catholic Church – as regards content and numbers. The signatures for the petition, which is now available in 14 languages, originate from 80 countries on all continents.

One crucial success of the petition is its contribution to increase awareness of the Second Vatican Council with its decrees and above all, its reform spirit. The Council had been opened by Pope John XXIII in 1962 and concluded in 1965 by Pope Paul VI.

Nearly 50 years after this reform council, facing many urgent pastoral problems, Catholics all over the world are ready to renew theological research and pastoral practice on the basis of the Council’s reform spirit. They do so, referring to Pope Paul VI, who pointed out during the Council’s final speech on December 8, 1965, the binding nature of the Council and demanded the realization of the reforms started by the Council exactly in this spirit.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Battered ? - nothing new

Sometimes we imagine we are the only people who have lived in a time where the Church is tossed and torn between the waves of opinion, position and revelation.

Sr Maria, a Poor Clare, recently posted this light hearted resumé of the church’s ‘growing pains.’ She kindly gave her permission to reproduce it here.

. . . .the Church started out in the catacombs, she was oppressed by everyone, she was at her last gasp.

The Edict of Constantine dreadfully exposed the Church to the unworthy perils of success, it nearly did her in.

Galloping heresies afflicted her from every side; Arianism, Montanism, Donatism, Monarchism, Unitism, Docetism, Gnosticism and Etceteraism. Orthodoxy was going under.

Waves of invasion swept over her; Alaric, Attila, Genseric, Ricimer, Totila, Belisarius and the Lombards. In 846, Saracens attacked Rome and stomped on what they thought were the bones of Blessed Peter. She was all in.

The monarchs in the west bought the Pope, the Emperors in the east took her revenues. Hildebrand made the wives of the priests of Rome clean the Lateran [for pay!], and still celibacy was not established and simony was not extinguished! Secular power dragged her under!

The Crusades were not even successful!God himself told Francis of Assisi that she was falling down.Humanitarianism and the Renaissance eroded her foundations. Pope Alexander married his children, and Pope Leo enjoyed himself.

The Reformation swept over her and knocked her flat. She had not tottered to her feet before the Enlightenment came in and socked her on the jaw. Joseph removed all the regular clergy whilst asking to be made Holy Roman Emperor. The French Revolution enthroned reason and cut off every one else’s head.

There were more waves of Isms; Jansenism, Pelagianism [the best Welsh heresy], Workism [the only American heresy], Modernism and – unbelievable, completely unbelievable! - Triumphalism!!!!!. In the nineteenth century, Science and Darwinism positively and finally disproved the existence of God.

The First Vatican council thought that the Pope had probably been right all along, but not clever; it was too hot in Rome without air conditioning to define the church that summer, so the fathers unanimously voted to go home. They did agree about that.

God died, and so did a great many other people in the so called Great War. She – the Catholic Church - had scarcely tottered back to her feet again when she was laid out by the Second World War.

She was struck at from all angles by the Second Vatican Council and her members shot off in all directions to become social workers, Ex-Jesuits, columnists on the Tablet and partially liberated women theologians.

For twenty centuries she has been going down for the third time. For twenty centuries she has been breathing her last. Tyrants have tortured her, death has decimated her, ideas have obviated her, AND SHE IS STILL GOING STRONG !!!!

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Children brought up by gay couples . . .

Because of the UK postal strike (didn’t know there was one) “The Tablet” are allowing free access to their online edition.

I found the article by Elena Curti interesting. In it she outlines a talk give by Terry Prendergast, chief executive of Marriage Care, to a conference of gay and lesbian Christians.

Terry Prendergast insists that children brought up by gay couples do just as well as those raised by their married heterosexual counterpart.

Have a read of the article here. If only people had ears to hear. Keep going Terry, Keep going Elena !

Friday, 17 July 2009

Poor Clare Colletines, Ty Mam Duw

A friend bought me this lovely little book from the Ty Mam Duw Poor Clare Colettine convent in Hawarden North Wales.

There’s some lovely pictures inside and a narrative of key events from the life of Newman. I’m sure they won’t mind me reproducing the cover.

Have a look at their website. Or better still, pay them a visit and buy this delightful book for yourselves !

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Johann-Baptist Metz

Just enjoyed reading an online article from the Pastoral Review which has introduced me to the theologian Johann-Baptist Metz. I quite like the theological category of “interruption,” in which both continuity and discontinuity are held together in tension developed by Metz – I wonder why ? A quote of his I like is "Are we Christians really changing our hearts, or do we just believe in a change of heart?"

Friday, 10 July 2009

Meister Eckhart

Reading “The Intimate Merton” (see previous post) has led me to seek out a bit more about Meister Eckhart. It seems to be that the people I like and like reading about all seem to like him. So, here’ a number of quotes I’ve dug out by him some useful websites can be found here and here.

A human being has so many skins inside, covering the depths of the heart. We know so many things, but we don't know ourselves! Why, thirty or forty skins or hides, as thick and hard as an ox's or bear's, cover the soul. Go into your own ground and learn to know yourself there.

A just person is one who is conformed and transformed into justice.

All God wants of man is a peaceful heart.

Do exactly what you would do if you felt most secure.

Every creature is a word of God.

God expects but one thing of you, and that is that you should come out of yourself in so far as you are a created being made and let God be God in you.

God is at home, it's we who have gone out for a walk.

He who would be serene and pure needs but one thing, detachment.

If God gave the soul his whole creation she would not be filled thereby but only with himself.

If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.

Man goes far away or near but God never goes far-off; he is always standing close at hand, and even if he cannot stay within he goes no further than the door.

One person who has mastered life is better than a thousand persons who have mastered only the contents of books, but no one can get anything out of life without God.

Only the hand that erases can write the true thing.

The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me.

The knower and the known are one. Simple people imagine that they should see God as if he stood there and they here. This is not so. God and I, we are one in knowledge.

The more we have the less we own.

The outward man is the swinging door; the inner man is the still hinge.

The outward work will never be puny if the inward work is great.

The price of inaction is far greater than the cost of making a mistake.

There exists only the present instant... a Now which always and without end is itself new. There is no yesterday nor any tomorrow, but only Now, as it was a thousand years ago and as it will be a thousand years hence.

To be full of things is to be empty of God. To be empty of things is to be full of God.

Truly, it is in darkness that one finds the light, so when we are in sorrow, then this light is nearest of all to us.

We are celebrating the feast of the Eternal Birth which God the Father has borne and never ceases to bear in all eternity... But if it takes not place in me, what avails it? Everything lies in this, that it should take place in me.

What a man takes in by contemplation, that he pours out in love.

What we plant in the soil of contemplation, we shall reap in the harvest of action.
When you are thwarted, it is your own attitude that is out of order.
Words derive their power from the original word.
You may call God love, you may call God goodness. But the best name for God is compassion.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

"The Intimate Merton"

I have been reading “The Intimate Merton,” a first time introduction to this great man. My reading of him has been long overdue. Although I’m reading from cover to cover, it’s the sort of book you can dip in and out of. The book comprises selected entries from the journals he maintained throughout his life. If you want to find out more about Thomas Merton have a look here. Meanwhile, here are a few passages that appealed to me.

Sept 12th 1956 : “The gabby objectivity of a relationship in which familiarity has destroyed all sense of the reality of Gods Tremendum Mysterium, is almost as bad as agnosticism” (pg 149)

May 31st 1961 : The great work of Sunrise again today. Many no doubt are vaguely aware that it is dawn, but they are protected from the solemnity of it by the neutralizing worship of their own society, their own world, in which the sun no longer rises and sets, sense of importance, the urgency of seeing, fully aware, experiencing what is here, not what is given by men, by society. Clear realization that I must be with these first elements. It is absurd to enquire after my function in the world, or whether I have one, as long as I am not alive or awake. If that and no more is my job, then I am grateful for it. The vanity of all false mission where no-one is sent. (pg 220)

Sometime in May 1965 Day of the Stranger : The spiritual life is something that people worry about when they are so busy with something else they think they ought to be spiritual. Spiritual life is guilt (pg 299)

October 6th 1965 : “The last thing in the world I want to be is a hermit . . . I come into solitude not to attain the heights of contemplation . . . I come into solitude to hear the word of God . . . to ‘wait for the Lord.’” (pg 318)

Listen to Thomas Merton

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Traditional Catechesis ?

Us people like our security. Security in relationships, job security, financial security and even racial security. On the whole we don’t like change such as new ways of working, changes in relationship or changes to our village or City. Change brings a certain amount of anxiety by destabilising us in our present security. This need for security also extends to religious security.

We like things done the way they always have been done. We begin to ‘twitch’ at the ebb and flow of liberal and conservative approaches to Catholicism, particularly at the present time. Many like to be people who are ‘certain’ of their present position, be it political, moral or religious.

Many think the abandonment of the things thought of as ‘certainties’ or ‘absolutes’ could be at the root of religious decline, particularly of Catholicism. In the good old days you knew where you were. Fish on Friday, Mary in May, Sacred Heart in June, Novenas, Mass on Sunday or else you commit a mortal sin, confession and you can start again, Rosary, Benediction, Plenary indulgences, the Leonine prayers, avoid Protestants at all cost, priests know all the answers. All the answers were in the security of the Catechism.

Some cite the strength of Catholicism in the former Eastern block Countries as a success story for certainty. I see the success of the church there as it’s being the main vehicle for ‘opposition’ toward a common ‘enemy’ - atheistic communism. Allegiance to the Church was active witness against the regime. Obviously this is a very simplistic viewpoint, but so too is the argument of those who would seek to attribute the strength of their Catholicism to adherence of catholic ‘traditional’ catechesis.

‘They’ think if only we would follow their lead we could ‘fix’ our perceived troubles and return the catholic Church in England and Wales to the ‘Golden Age’ of Catholicism that existed before the church’s decline since II Vatican Council.

Personally I would say the Golden Age never really existed. The Catholic Church in England was a poor Church on the whole. As a poor community the certainties of Catholicism offered everyone hope. Just as Catholics looked toward the church in communist countries, so too did the poor and working class look toward the church as a sign and symbol of hope, finding fulfilment and meaning to their lives. I’m not criticizing this because on the whole we all still do this. In the Church we find hope and meaning to our lives.

I think it is an unbalanced view to think that because there were huge priest numbers in the past and full churches, this should be our aspiration today and in some way the church is not what it should be. Yes there were huge numbers of Catholics attending Mass, abundant priests and religious. Think of all the happy memories many older people have of their catholic education. Teachers checking everyone had gone to Mass asking what colour vestments the priest wore. The harsh discipline metered out in schools, not to mention the scandal of child abuse by paedophile priests. Is this the fruit of a strong and vibrant church?

At the Heart of their faith was certainty and identity. Without this identity and certainty what was left ?

Fear of losing this identity and certainty leads us to insecurity and fear. Fear and insecurity leads us to seek certainty and identity. Is this what is happening spiritually today. It is interesting to note that the main growth Churches are the evangelical, fundamental churches, not to forget Islam, where ‘certainty’ and identity can be found in abundance.

Many people seeking ‘religious’ experience feel alienated by many mainstream churches especially Catholicism.

In Catholicism a shortlist of the alienated would include;
# those whose marriages have broken down possibly through no fault of their own, the divorced, separated and remarried,
# those who find the Church’s teaching on sexuality difficult, especially Humane Vitae and the teaching on birth control.
# People who are Gay, Lesbian, bisexual or transgendered.
# Those who think the church should ordain married men and/or women
# those who feel the church has nothing relevant to say to them

Many people reading this (if anyone does!) would conclude that all the people mentioned above should just get their act together, repent of their sin and go to confession, otherwise why don’t they just leave the church if they are not prepared to ‘conform’ so the church can get on with the business of being Catholic !

How violent a reaction is that? No wonder many people turn away from Catholicism.
. . . . to be continued

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Lourdes Pictures

I took some pictures in Lourdes about 1983. Thought they were interesting so I posted them !