Monday, 31 October 2011

The Newman Hymnal . . .

For musicians with responsibility for planning Sunday Liturgy "The Newman Hymnal" could be really useful resource.  Just click on the Sunday or other Solemnity you are planning for and take a look at some of the musical suggestions offerred.  If you're not that keen you can add your own suggestion.  Many thanks to the University of Notre Dame for their generosity in sharing the resource

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Ministry OUTSIDE the Box; LIFE Outside the BOX - John Chuchman

Read this John Chuchman poem on the Catholica website.  Thought it needed a UK hearing. thanks John

Ministry OUTSIDE the Box; LIFE Outside the BOX

Invited to speak at a Conference
with the Theme
"Ministry OUTSIDE the Box,"
I had to ask myself,
How/Why did I move
Outside the Box?

I never planned to move outside the Box.
I was essentially
a Pay-Pray-Obey Catholic
for over fifty years of my life.
All of my formal education
was in parochial institutions
(though the Jesuits at John Carroll University
might be considered resident on
the inner part of the outer edge).

All of my children were Baptized
inside the Box
and dragged to weekly Liturgy
as long as we could do so.

I thought I was content
inside the Box
paying my dues,
praying in the prescribed manner,
obeying the rules
to earn my
pass into heaven.

Thank God,
I was pushed, called, cajoled, forced
Outside the Box;
God was NOT resident in that Box!

What/Who pushed?

The Guys in control of the Box
had a swinging back door out.
They abused little children
and protected the abusers,
perpetuating the abuse.

The "celibate" Guys in control of the Box
were not so celibate.

The Pay part
of my pay, pray, obey,
was not being used for
the Good I thought it was;
much of it spent by and for
the box-controllers.

The Obey part
of my pay, pray, obey,
related to
rules which were
not only discriminatory,
not only man-made,
not only spiritually stifling,
but also,
Totally Un-Christlike.
The rules were created
to keep people
inside the box,
while keeping trouble-makers
outside the box.

Yes, God was not resident In a Box,
But neither was trouble-maker Jesus!

The Pray part
of my pay, pray, obey
pushed me out of the box
and at the same time
called and cajoled me out of it
as being rote, shallow, repetitive, dogmatic,
focused on formulas, superstitions, and beliefs.
I needed more;
My Spirit needed more;
Life was more;
Love was more.

People lived and died
in the box
never questioning their Faith,
never expanding their Faith.

Thanks Holy Spirit,
for blowing my spark of Spiritual Thirst
into a Raging Inferno,
for Seducing me
Outside the box.

After retirement from 32 years in Commerce,
I thought about
Ministry within the box,
joining the box-controllers
albeit only as a subservient Deacon.
Thanks, God,
for that not being a chosen path.

Instead, "I did it My Way"
Hospice Volunteer,
Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministries,
Certified Bereavement Counselor,
Free-Lance Author, Speaker, and Poet,
Spiritual Companion,
Trouble-Maker Rabble-Rouser,
Consoler of those Grieving Loss of Life in the Box,
Helper of those needing to escape it,
Celebrant of the Good Life
Outside the Box.

I don't know if it was My Way
or the Way ordained for me,
but I'm sure Joy-Full I found it
and am traveling it.

It seems that
the people to whom I Minister
are outside the box
or at least need to be;
those discriminated against
by the box-controllers,
(married men, women,
gays and lesbians, those divorced,
the alienated, and us trouble-makers)
and perhaps most importantly
those the Holy Spirit is helping to discover that
life inside the box
is not life at all,
but spiritual death,
or at best paralysis.

Trouble-Maker Ministry Outside the Box
is not all peaches and cream;
Ask Jesus.

Friends and Family inside the box
separate themselves from me.
The Box-Controllers and their idolizers
deride and exclude me.
There is always a price to pay
It can be a lonely path.

But I think the Box may be crumbling;
so many are growing out of it
that it can't support all the Box-Controllers
sitting atop it.

The Flame of the Holy Spirit
seems to be casting a brightness into the box
exposing the swinging back doors
and the hidden nooks and crannies
maintained by the box-controllers
for all to see,
enabling many inside the box
to see that
a pay-pray-obey fully punched ticket
is good only for a life-time ride
on the merry-go-round
Inside the Box.

There are no two
Ministries Outside the Box
exactly alike, completely identical;
It's more simply like
using one's unique God-given Gifts
to help others
wherever the need.

Instead of pay-pray-obey,
I chose to follow the call of the Holy Spirit
(out of the comfort zone onto a Great Adventure)
and to
Go, Grow, and Glow.

Love, John Chuchman
Leave the Nest, Join the Quest, And Be Blessed!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

A Call for Unity . . .

John Chuchman's writing has the knack of speaking to the heart.  I needed to hear this poem on his blog.  thank you so much.   Let's Agree on Something . . . . . . Have a look at his website after reading this poem.

A Call for Unity

Whether you express your Spirituality
by regularly attending weekly liturgies
in prescribed formats
by using every meal with friends and family
to express Thanksgiving
and enhance Community,
Let’s agree
that We are all One
with the Creator of the Universe.

Whether you idolize
clerics, the hierarchy, the papacy, church
the Original Blessing, All of Creation,
Let’s agree
We are all gifted and
need to be Thankful.

Whether you worship Jesus,
which He never requested
Emulate Jesus
which He did request,
Let’s agree
He showed us the way
to Live and Love.

Whether you believe
you are part of the one true church
that we are all children of God
with many paths to Spiritual Growth
Let’s agree
to respect each other’s way.

Whether you believe
that only celibate males can be ordained
that All can be called to priesthood,
Let’s agree
that the Creator has no gender
and can be envisioned as female and male.

Whether you believe
Gays and Lesbians are disordered
that we are All children of God,
Let’s agree
to respect every individual’s
God-Given rights.

Whether you believe
Church hierarchy can do no wrong
that they are human
and can err,
Let’s agree
they should be transparent and accountable
to us.

Whether you believe
the old ways are the best
that we must seek new ways of being church,
Let’s Agree
that Change is a normal part of Creation
and humans need both change and continuity.

Whether you believe
we should all do Liturgy the in the same way
that God’s created Diversity
should be celebrated,
Let’s Agree
We need to respect and honor our differences.

Whether you believe
some will suffer eternal damnation
we will All return to Our Creator,
Let’s Agree
not to
condemn people in this life.

Whether you believe
we are fallen
and needed to be redeemed
we are simply works in process,
Let’s Agree
we have the potential for perfection.

Whether you believe
Jesus died because of our sinfulness
because the hierarchy feared
loss of control
at his message,
Let’s Agree
We did not kill him.

Whether you believe the Pope
is infallible
Let’s Agree
we must all
live by our conscience.

Whether you believe
the world is evil
Creation is Good,
Let’s Agree
to be Representatives of Good.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

The Forgotten Pope

Why Albino Luciani's holiness should be celebrated

Thanks to Mo Guernon  in America Magazine for this article.
On the Third Sunday of Easter, Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed John Paul II a blessed, a milestone in the late pope’s journey to sainthood. The speed at which Karol Wojtyla’s cause for canonization has progressed is singular. Under the church’s rules, the process cannot begin until a candidate has been deceased at least five years, but Pope Benedict dispensed with that requirement in this instance.

Not so with John Paul’s namesake and immediate predecessor, Albino Luciani, whose own cause, initiated nearly eight years ago, still sluggishly wends its way through the labyrinthine Vatican bureaucracy, its ultimate resolution still in doubt.

For those whose faith was rekindled by that gentle pope, the lingering uncertainty about his canonization is disheartening. Albino Luciani’s life was so exemplary that it could inspire a world grown weary and cynical and yearning for the “greater gifts” and a “more excellent way.”

“He passed as a meteor which unexpectedly lights up the heavens and then disappears, leaving us amazed and astonished,” Cardinal Carlo Confalonieri aptly observed at the pope’s funeral Mass in 1978.


It is consoling to remember this holy man. Hundreds of millions, however, have no such consolation, for Luciani’s fleeting 33-day papacy has been eclipsed by that of John Paul II, whose illustrious 27-year tenure was of impressive duration and historical consequence. But papal longevity itself is no criterion for sainthood, and it is wrong to conclude that Luciani left no legacy of import to succeeding generations.

In just a month Pope John Paul I captured the hearts of people worldwide, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, who witnessed in him the welcome but unexpected triumph of humility. Many of us intuitively recognized in the flash of his benign grin, the gentleness of his manner and the compassion at the core of his public talks a beacon of hope. That Luciani transfixed the world during his abbreviated pontificate is no exaggeration: he was a radiant man who taught us how to live and love.

Luciani picked “Humilitas” as his episcopal motto, an appropriate choice for a prince of the church who regarded himself as “poor dust.” “We must feel small before God,” he preached; and he lived that conviction faithfully, often describing himself publicly as “a poor man accustomed to small things and silence.”

How Can I Serve You?

There was a nobility in Luciani’s simplicity, and evidence of his humility abounds. As bishop of Vittorio Veneto, for example, he visited his parishes by bicycle, a rather unassuming means of transport for a man of his station. Later, when taking official possession of St. Mark’s Basilica, he dispensed with the fanfare traditionally accorded the new patriarch of the ancient Archdiocese of Venice. At his official residence he literally opened his door to all who knocked: priests, penitents, prostitutes, drug addicts, drunks, the destitute—everyone.

Luciani eschewed the accouterments of high ecclesiastical office, preferring a tattered black cassock to the regal purple and red hues signifying the ranks of bishop and cardinal to which he had reluctantly been raised. Strolling through the streets of Venice, Luciani would furtively stuff his zucchetto in his pocket, content to be mistaken for a parish priest by the pedestrians he encountered. After one such solitary twilight walk, the patriarch returned home sporting a bruised and swollen cheek. When the sisters asked him what had happened, he replied dispassionately, “Oh, nothing…I met a drunkard…. He hit me in the face.”

Even Luciani’s speech patterns reflected the austerity that characterized his life. Like any great teacher, he had a gift for conveying profound insights in unadorned, easily understandable prose. Though blessed with a probing intellect, prodigious memory and vast learning, he sprinkled his discourse with humble anecdotes from life and literature, clearly illustrating great truths that even the young and untutored could readily grasp.

As pope, Luciani quickly discarded the royal “we” and disdained the sedia gestatoria, or portable throne in which popes, hoisted onto the shoulders of their subjects, were carried in majestic procession like conquering monarchs. At his papal installation he also abandoned the traditional crowning with the ostentatious, jewel-encrusted, triple tiara, insisting instead on receiving a simple shepherd’s pallium as symbol of his new role as bishop of Rome. This pope’s unexpected greeting to those who met with him at the Vatican was, “How can I serve you?”

And there were private instances—only recently disclosed—in which John Paul I revealed his abiding humility in ways the public could not have imagined.

A Niece Remembers

This past summer I made a monthlong pilgrimage to Italy and retraced Luciani’s life journey from Canale D’Agordo, his birthplace in the Dolomites, to St. Peter’s Basilica, where the pope’s earthly remains rest in a crypt not far from the bones of St. Peter.

I also examined documents written in his own hand and spoke extensively with several people who knew and loved him, including nieces, prelates and secretaries from his days as bishop, patriarch and pope.

One of them was the pope’s favorite niece, Pia Luciani Basso, daughter of Luciani’s younger brother Edoardo. Their relationship, she confided to me, was so close that he was like “a second father” to her.

She explained how her uncle’s soothing presence and gentle encouragement eased her mind when she left home to attend a distant school. Despite a pressing schedule as bishop, Luciani volunteered to accompany her when her father fell ill. “He always put aside his own problems to help others in need,” she recalled.

Her father was fond of telling about an incident that illuminates the pope’s extraordinary selflessness even as a youngster. The Luciani family was poor, and hunger was an almost constant companion. Even so, one day Albino came home with some white bread, a precious commodity. Instead of eating it himself or giving away a part of it, he gave Edoardo the entire piece and watched with satisfaction as the younger boy devoured it.

“His humility was a choice, because he was always conscious of his intelligence, but he was conscious too that this was a gift from God,” she explained.

Mrs. Basso noted that Luciani thought of himself as an ordinary priest. “His dream was to have a parish in the lake region and bring with him his mother and his father, because he said his mother would be happy to be in a house on the lake.” He never realized his dream.

Instead, Luciani would reluctantly accept what ambitious clerics yearned for: promotion to the highest ranks in the church hierarchy. “I must accept the will of Providence,” he would say resignedly, according to Mrs. Basso.

Just before entering the conclave that elected him, Luciani wrote to her expressing relief that he was “out of danger.”

“I think he was afraid of that. He was hoping that it wouldn’t happen,” she conjectured.

Santo Subito!

“Lived holiness is very much more widespread than officially proclaimed holiness.... Coming into Paradise, we will probably find mothers, workers, professional people, students set higher than the official saints we venerate on earth,” Luciani once wrote. That is undoubtedly so, and though he would surely deem himself undeserving to be counted among them, his life is a testament to his worthiness.

In his book Making Saints, Kenneth L. Woodward defines a saint as an individual who is recognized as especially holy. By that standard alone, Albino Luciani should have been canonized decades ago. The church’s official recognition of a saint confers special status on an individual in the eyes of the faithful, for it is the saints whose lives we celebrate and whose virtues individuals of conscience strive to emulate. It is they whose memory endures in perpetuity.

The Pope Luciani Foundation, based in Canale d’Agordo, Italy, his birthplace, is devoted to the laudable goal of memorializing him. Its director Loris Serafini, author of the delightful biography Albino Luciani, The Smiling Pope, informed me recently that dedication of a museum and library in the pope’s honor will coincide with the centenary celebration of his birth on Oct. 17, 2012.

That is a heartening development, but to those whose souls Luciani touched, it is not enough; his cause for sainthood should proceed apace.

Today, a broken world desperately needs moral enlightenment. The life and teachings of the first Pope John Paul can provide that in abundance. Thus it would be an incalculable loss to those in current generations—as well as future ones who never knew him—for his memory to fade into oblivion.

A streaking meteor, spectacular as it is for the glorious moment we behold it, leaves not a trace of its luminous presence once it hurtles beyond our vision. Pope Benedict has the power to prevent the fading of Albino Luciani’s light by canonizing this extraordinary pope.

Mo Guernon, a former newspaper reporter and Rhode Island columnist, is writing a biography of Pope John Paul I.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Ordination of Rev Tom Armstrong

On Saturday 1st October, our dear brother, Rev Tom Armstrong was ordained a priest.  Our celebration took place at the John Pounds memorial church in Portsmouth.  He was ordained by the Rt Rev Terry Flynn, UECC presiding bishop. 
Our community used the New Sarum Missal for the first time, only recently promulgated in celebration of the 10th anniversary of Bishop Terry’s Episcopal Ordination. 

Our small corner of the vineyard grew that weekend.  The love that binds us, the freedom we celebrate and our openness to open a sacramental life to all who respectfully draw near was affirmed by this ordination.  Have a good look at the photos and be pleased to celebrate with us.