Sunday, 3 February 2013

Back in action

Ok, I have been away from blogging for a little while and now I'm back.

Life has been up in the air for the past month or two.

Anyhow I am settling more into the London swing of things. I have been attending daily Mass at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in Duke Street. The Divine Liturgy really lives up its name! The simple yet profound chant allows you to enter ever more deeply into the mystery of the Eucharist.

The clergy are very approachable and friendly. A good example is what happened to me recently. I was nearing the Cathedral when I saw a gentleman in a cassock. I asked him if he was a priest. He said he was and so I asked him the deep and meaningful question which I had playing on my mind at the time. He gave a very simple and clear answer to me. I then asked him: Father, just one more question. Where are the toilets? I need to go to the toilet!
"Follow me", he said. He showed me where the loos were and went on his way. When I entered the Cathedral with a friend a little while later, the priest who kindly answered my question and also showed me where the loos were was none other than THE BISHOP himself! There he was celebrating the Divine Liturgy in sumptuous vestments and an exquisite mitre on!

I know to most people this sounds like a rather silly tale, but for me it showed a real down to earth character. When I spoke to him a few days later I went up to him and gave the traditional greeting to a bishop. Here was a man, a bishop down to earth enough to show me where the loos were and answer my question yet comfortable enough as a bishop to allow me to greet him with reverence. It gave me much food for thought.

Candlemas: I went to Mass at Westminster Cathedral for the Feast of the Presentation. It was at 10:30am and it was beautiful and truly uplifting.

Now my mind is turning to Lent. As an openly, publicly confessed Chocoholic I am facing a deeply purging Lent! God give me the strength!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Advent is almost here

Once again Advent is almost upon us.

So I am determined, with the help of God's grace, to make it a holy time of preparation for Christmas.

1) Confession. Deeper
2) Prayer, more deeply asking for Christ's abiding presence

I am going to keep it simple!

So much happening!

Ok, I was meant to write something about last weekend and I never got round to it.

I have been working all week, for which I am extremely grateful (St. Joseph is fantastic at finding you a job by the way!)

Last weekend's Towards Advent was very good. I helped man the Latin Mass Society's stall for a bit. Many people came up and showed a lot of interest in the Latin Mass. I did notice that the Tablet's stall had, at most, two visitors. But we won't go there!

I got to chat to Father James Bradley who is a member of the Ordinariate. We spoke about their liturgy and the hopes they have for it. Sounds very good.

I also met Brother Anselm from Farnborough Abbey. They are a great community, dedicated to all things orthodox.

On my way to the bank to get change for the LMS stall I bumped into a former Catholic now Protestant evangelist handing out leaflets in front of the Cathedral. We got chatting and he made some very good points. Catholics don't know their faith and that the bishops need to make a real effort to catechize them. Wow, not bad from a lapsed Catholic turned protestant!

Later on I was invited to Mass in Westminster Abbey. Yes you read that correctly. The Anglicans kindly let us use our...sorry...their Church for Mass at the Shrine of St. Edward the Confessor. Novus Ordo, versus Dominum in front of a gorgeous painting of Our Lady. Most people received kneeling and on the tongue. It was beautifully celebrated.

We had a quick walk around after Mass. Two Franciscan sisters of the Renewal were standing on the grave of Oliver Cromwell. I pointed it out and said "Sisters, I wonder what he would think of all this Catholicism". They both responded in their American accents "Ahh he's cool with it now". True.

After that we prayed at the Shrine of St. Edward the Confessor. The power and grace that emanates from it is amazing.

Sunday I attended the Extraordinary Form Mass. It brought me back to the question that an elderly non Catholic gentleman asked us at the LMS stall the day before: Why do you like the Old Mass?

We all answered more or less the same: The Silence and the Mystery. We can enter into the mystery of the Incarnation more deeply in silence. We don't need to perform. We need to just be present before God's Holy Fire. We are there with our joys and sorrows, our fears and hopes in the silence. In that silence we bathe in God's grace. That's why we don't just like but LOVE the Old Mass!

Friday, 23 November 2012

Towards Advent 2012

Tomorrow, Saturday 24th November is the 2012 Towards Advent Festival in the Westminster Cathedral Hall, Ambrosden Avenue, London SWI. The Archbishop opens the Festival at 10:30am.

I've decided to pop along and see what is on the London Catholic scene. I believe that many different Catholic groups will be there, including the Latin Mass Society.

There will be snacks on sale for a reasonable price and I have read somewhere that there will be some VERY interesting Catholic guests in attendance. So it's worth a nosey. Plus there will be various stalls selling ideal Catholic gifts.

Pop along and be pleasantly surprised. I'm sure I will.

Can't wait!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Juventutem Social Event in the big big Smoke

Having recently heard of a group of young Catholic adults called Juventutem I have decided to pop along to their Mass and Social event. I sure hope it isn't an "invite only" Social because I'm just about to gate crash!

Seriously, I am looking forward to it. It will be nice to be surrounded by other people of my age and realise that I am not some lone loon on the limb of reality.

Being new to the "Big smoke" has been quite daunting. However, I have to admit that Londoners aren't as bad as I had imagined. I was often warned that "they're an unfriendly lot you know" before I came here. But I have found that they are quite warm and welcoming, once you get out of the Underground! The people I have met so far have been keen to include me in their circles as well as offer advice and "Londoner's tips".

There is another stereotype that I hope to have dashed to a millions pieces. Everyone who attends the Extraordinary Form, whether young or old, are stiff, boring and rather snobby. So far that hasn't been my experience, thank God.

The London experience is all new to me. Big city, many people and it can be all too overwhelming. I'm looking forward to meeting new people who share the same vision as myself. I am sure tomorrow's Juventutem event will leave me pleasantly surprised. So no pressure Juventutem! A full round up of my experience will be post after the event.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The women bishops saga.

So the good old c of E has narrowly voted against women bishops and alot of people are upset. Tears are flowing as the public are repeatedly told that the church is "out of touch". One such voice is that of Rose Hudson-Wilkin, chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons. According to her this latest saga has made the church of England "irrelevant".

To me this is, among other things, at the heart of the issue. When Christians are concerned with being "relevant" then we have serious problems. Christianity has at its centre the person of Jesus Christ, Truth itself made flesh. Jesus never said anything "relevant" in the modern sense of the word but came to proclaim the Truth which, ironically, is the most relevant thing that there is.

What matters is truth. Not once, in all the news reports, both on tv or in print, did I see this most vital word. Not a word either on prayer or even that taboo word, God.

All I hear is "relevance" and "equality". But the priesthood isn't about relevance or equality. First of all it is a vocation, a pure gift from the Lord. It is no less a gift than motherhood. No one has a right to it and it isn't a question of equality. It is a precious gift.

The other thing to bear in mind is that the Church exists to raise the world up to the Divine, not to be dragged down by its standards. As we hear at the Holy Mass "Sursum Corda"! We are commanded to Lift up our Hearts. We are called to be raised up to God, divinised and consecrated in truth. Not once has this central Christian message been heard in all of this.

As Pope John Paul II said the Church must be a sign of contradiction. She calls to her wayward children urging and pleading her to harden not their hearts. Yes, it is a difficult path we tread. We are called to put to death our own desires and ideals to be conformed to Christ. That is impossible without grace.

I believe that one of the main issues is to do with a seriously faulty vision of the Church. The Church isn't a democracy. She is the servant of Truth and Truth, despite what many like to think, is not the subject of a democratic vote.

Obedience, to "listen well", is tough. To obey seems all too often painful. It can be the way of the Cross. But we know that the One who trod that path has revealed that behind it lies the Resurrection.

Let us ask God to grant all Christians a deeper share in that spirit of Obedience.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

To love Life

This post was inspired by a recent debate I had with two women friends of mine over the issue of abortion and the showing of pictures of aborted babies to the general public.

First of all I'd like to state that I understand women are often under alot of pressure when it comes to pregnancy and abortion. As a man I know that I will NEVER have to face many of the dilemmas that they do.

That said I think that many women, in their great vulnerability, are easy targets for "well meaning pro choicers".

You see the problem is that the whole abortion affair together with euthanasia are ever so "clean and caring". What do I mean? By clean I mean so clinical. All the instruments, the leaflets, the concepts seem so bright, shiny, new and even liberating. The underlying reality of what abortion and euthanasia are actually about can be so easily lost, even by those who are pro life

Then there is the "caring" aspect which is the whole emotional side of the "pro choice" lobby. "We care about women" and "no child should grow up in poverty" and "it's her body" are packed to the brim with emotional pulling power and they are all so appealing to a frightened and vulnerable woman. That combined with what is no less than total intellectual dishonesty found in the "pro choice" lobby goes towards pushing women into having less "choice" and not more.

Take for instance pregnancy itself. The unborn is referred to as a foetus, most particularly if the woman in question is having serious doubts about her pregnancy. Furthermore many "pro choicers" will be very adamant in their assertion that life doesn't begin with conception but at some vague moment later, usually when their personal "choice" deems it so.

The truth of the matter is actually very simple: Life begins at this point

and continues naturally until this point

 after hopefully a long and holy life.

All this has lead me to muse on what pro lifers are to do in their service of the Culture of Life. Of course we have to be aware of what the "pro choice" lobby are about. But campaigning for life should stem frpm a love of life and a genuine desire to see women and the vulnerable flourish. Our fight for life must be upheld by practical measures to help women who find themselves pregnant when they feel they'd rather not be. We already see this practical element present in the beautiful work that the Good Counsel network does.

Furthermore we must keep in mind the clever tactics used by those opposed to life. They offer what really and genuinely appears to be a solution to a very painful and frightening dilemma, be it pregnancy or end of life issues. Some women have an abortion and breathe a sigh of relief, feeling that their "problem" has been resolved only to find themselves in the throes of post abortion trauma syndrome many years laters. What is apparent with abortion is that it's dire consequences are not always immediate. Nevertheless with every abortion there are consequences, even if they aren't seen in this life.

At the heart of our battle cry for life, especially when it comes to abortion simply MUST be: Women DESERVE better than abortion. That is a woman's right. Her right is to feel the genuine support of society, the authentic respect of her body and her God given fertility.

Respect for life at its inception will logically lead to respecting it at its end. Conception and natural death are but two ends of a continuum called the story of life.

Abortion is the abrupt closing of the book before the beauty of the story has had the chance to be written, whereas euthanasia is the tearing off of the last pages before the story reaches its summit. Each life is a book of many pages wating for the hand of the Author of Life to write upon them.

It is only by working on people's hearts will we ever be instrumental in changing our society which seems so fixated on the culture of death.

When hearts are opened then, and ONLY then, can God begin to write His word and His truth on them.