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 !