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

Holidays

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.