Saturday, 21 March 2009

Are you sure ?

I'm wondering about the place of certainty in Catholicism. Certainty is beginning to override reason, being used to hide any inconsistencies of individual or group approaches to Catholicism under the carpet, so as not to disturb their jealously held opinions.

To some, certainty is in the Pope's infallibility, to others it's the certainty of Pentecostal or charismatic Catholicism. In between there's a whole lot of colourful space where people live their faith in the tension of belief and doubt where God is found in the ordinariness of everyday life.

Many blogs have sprung up to celebrate the rise of a 'conservative' Catholicism that almost demand an unyielding fidelity to the pope with no room for critical discussion. Those who dare are usually dismissed by a tirade of abuse. Hand in hand with this usually goes the promotion of the extraordinary form of the Mass (nothing wrong with that) along with an 'assumption' that this liturgy is 'better' than the ordinary form. Criticism of the Papacy seems to have achieved the same level of anathema that criticising the Prophet Mohamed has achieved within the Muslim world.

Pope's have made some silly decisions in the past (slavery, the promotion of anti semitism, Galileo) which today's 'ultramontanes' would have assented to, had they lived at the time. One of their champions (and one of mine though for different reasons) is the soon to be beatified Cardinal Newman. In his Letter to the Duke of Norfolk he writes: “Certainly, if I am obliged to bring religion into after-dinner toasts (which indeed does not seem quite the thing) I shall drink – to the Pope, if you please – still, to Conscience first, and to the Pope afterwards”.

At the opposite extreme lies the catholic pentecostalist. Their 'certainties' can lie in an overemphasis of the importance of speaking in tongues, prophecy, interpreting tongues, ministries of deliverance and even a biblical fundamentalism. St. Mark says in Chapter 16:17 "These are the signs that will be associated with believers; in my name they will cast out devils; they who have the gift of tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover." Can we really take this passage literally for the sake of certainty ?

I cannot imagine for one moment that any of the above positions of 'certainty' reflect the fullness of faith to be found in the catholic church. Corinthians 13 is probably a passage more often heard than lived out. It has some lessons for our blogging world.

"If I have all the eloquence of men or of angels, but speak without love, I am simply a gong booming or a cymbal clashing. If I have the gift of prophecy, understanding all the mysteries there are, and knowing everything, and if I have faith in all it's fullness, to move mountains, but without love, then I am nothing at all."

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

New Arrival !

Not a lot to do with the blog but here's our new arrival. Hope you like it John !

Monday, 16 March 2009

Infamy, Infamy, they've all got it in for me !

I’m reading lots of articles critical of the Bishops Conference of England Wales for their handling of nearly everything from the Pope’s latest letter about the lifting of excommunication of the 4 Lefebvre bishops to the appointment of the new Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster. There is such vitriol and bad feeling in the comments I have read. Phrases like “The magic Circle” show as much disrespect to the Bishops conference as their writers feel is being shown to the Pope by many in the Bishops conference. These writers kick and scream like spoilt children who are not getting their own way. Before I get accused of being a liberal trendy I would also take issue with extremist voices who are vociferous in their criticism of the church.

Where is the Christian witness in all of this ? Where is trust in the God whose “strength is made perfect in weakness” ? Our God is a God of Creation, a God who creates, who “makes all things new.” Cardinal Cormac’s lecture earlier this year summed up the way forward superbly.

"There are many different voices within the Church at the moment seeking to explain our problems and what we need to do to put them right. We must be attentive and discriminating but we must not allow our energies to get drawn into a Corinthian brawl, “I belong to Paul - I belong to Apollos” (I. Cor. 1.12). We belong to Christ and we are bound in unity by the ministry of Peter and the Apostolic College."

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Stations of the Cross

As I prepare a service of music and meditation based upon the "Stations of the Cross" I have come across some Stations from the Cathedral of Christ the King Liverpool accompanied by a short audio reading and prayer. They are posted on the Catholic Church in England and Wales website. Have a look and listen to them here. I've never been a great fan of the Stations. Perhaps the prayer "I love you Jesus, my love above all things . . . . etc" put me off. Isn't it a bit dishonest ? Jesus isn't my love above all things. If he was I'd be sinless ! The passion narratives in the gospels especially John's Gospel suit me just fine.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Archbishop Kelly's Sermon at the Funeral of Fr Kevin Finn

Many thanks to the Archbishop of Liverpool, the Most Reverend Patrick Kelly. In a sermon given during the requiem Mass of Fr Kevin Finn, our Archbishop must have known his words would go on record and express what I think many catholics have looked forward to hearing from a senior Bishop. A brief excerpt is reproduced below and the full sermon can be found here

"And today I bear witness and give thanks for the fidelity of Kevin and so many other priests, religious, men and women, to the pruning, correcting, renewing, transforming, transfiguring Second Vatican Council. This moment demands a word from me to those who feel confused, bruised by the general apparent implications and the specific hideous holocaust-denying element of the lifting of the excommunication of the four Bishops who rejected and
encouraged others to reject the Second Vatican Council. They rejected the renewal of worship, grounded in a deeper understanding of the Mass, the Lord's Supper and our whole
life of prayer and praise: they rejected the ecumenical charter, gloriously affirmed in Liverpool’s Hope Street in the monument to Bishop David Sheppard and Archbishop Derek Worlock; a monument to a journey that was searching, often difficult, never simplistic. They rejected such documents as those that insisted we must walk a new way with those live the Jewish faith, the Muslim and other religions."

Monday, 9 March 2009

St Mary's Brisbane update !

No-priest plan may end row at St Mary's Church

A PARISH without a priest is one option being put forward in a bid to break the impasse over Brisbane's embattled St Mary's Church.
Mediation is expected to begin later this week between the Catholic Church Brisbane diocese and Fr Peter Kennedy, who was sacked from the South Brisbane parish last month but refuses to leave.
Community spokeswoman Karyn Walsh says allowing the church to operate without a regular priest -- a common situation in rural and regional parishes -- could be one way forward.

Find the est of the article here

Saturday, 7 March 2009

John Bradburne - A Saint for today ?

- from the John Bradburne memorial society website.

In 1979 the war in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, was at its height. The government still kept all main roads open, but the guerrillas of the patriotic front controlled much of the hinterland. Whites in outlying areas were told that the government could no longer protect them and were invited to move to safer places.By August that year there were only two white men left in the area of Mutoko, a trading post about 70 miles east from the capital, Salisbury (now Harare). One was Fr. David Gibbs, a priest at All Souls Mission. The other was John Bradburne, an Englishman who looked after lepers at their settlement in Mutemwa. On the night of September 2, 1979, Bradburne was abducted from the round tin hut that was his home.
In the early hours of September 5, Fr. Gibbs found John Bradburne's body beside the main road. He was wearing only his underpants, and he had been shot dead.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Church of the Sacred Heart and Saint Catherine of Alexandria

Thought it was time for something a bit lighter in the post. It brings me great pleasure to publish some photographs I took of the church of the Sacred Heart and Saint Catherine of Alexandria in Droitwich. About 25 years ago I bought an old black and white postcard at and Antiques fair in Samlesbury Hall near Blackburn, of a mosaic showing St Francis preaching to the birds. When I bought it I felt that one day I would see the mosaic for real. About 2 years after this I wrote to the Sacred Heart Father's (Betharram) as a vocations enquiry and was invited to visit them at their school and parish in Droitwich. To my surprise there was the mosaic I had bought a postcard of. Twenty odd years later (last year) on route to Worcester I decided to stop off at Droitwich with my wife to show her the church and the beautiful mosaics. The school had gone, but the parish remained thank God. I also remembered the kindness of the Fathers there and the parish community. Take a look at their website and have a look at the life of their founder St Michael Garicoits. You can also find out about the Sacred Heart Fathers, Betharram at these websites. Olton Friary, Betharram.

St Mary's Brisbane Update

Have a look at the following story on today's news from Brisbane courtesy of the "Courier Mail". Or have a look at St Mary's website.