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A model for men and women searching for the Mystery of God.

cardinalnewmanWhen we say the Creed, we need to realise that we are doing something extraordinary and counter cultural. In a world where so many people live atomised existences, we are doing something as a community. In an age that shies away from commitment, as we say the Creed we are committing ourselves to a set of convictions and to each other. The Creed is our symbol, the way we recognise each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s a sign of our common membership. It is our Catholic identity. (JerichoTree). It is to this identity that Newman endeavoured to cleave himself through his search for Truth in the Mystery of God.

“I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it, who know so much of history that they can defend it.” ~ John Henry Newman

I went on a pilgrimage to Newman’s Littlemore College in Oxford, where I learned more about this inspirational man,and his fascinating journey into the arms of the Catholic Church.The influence of Blessed John Henry Newman, one of the outstanding voices of 19th century Roman Catholicism, has spread throughout the Christian world and is stronger than ever today. He lived and prayed for four years at The College in Littlemore where he was received into the Roman Catholic Church on 9th October 1845.Blessed John Henry Newman lived at “The College” at Littlemore from 1842-1846, making it a place of quiet prayer and study for himself and some friends.

Littlemore college

Littlemore college

“There it has been, that I have both been
taught my way and received an answer to my prayers.”

Newman, Letters and Diaries, XI 132/3

Newman’s oratory has again become a place of prayer and worship, with the Office, daily hours of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and regular masses. A substantial and specialized collection of Newman-related literature has been built up on the site of Newman’s own library, together with an exhibition of Newman memorabilia (prints, etchings, photographs, sculptures and original letters). Newman wrote in total, 20.000 letters!

In 1963 Pope Paul VI beatified Fr. Dominic Barberi, The Passionist ,who received John Henry Newman into the Catholic Church. On that occasion the Pope spoke about Blessed Dominic; but he also spoke about Newman. He said ‘, Newman’s journey of Faith was ,’the greatest, the most meaningful, the most conclusive, that human thought ever travelled during…the modern era.’

This quote from Blessed Barberi on Newman's request to become Catholic.

This quote from Blessed Barberi on Newman’s request to become Catholic.

A relic of Blessed Dominic Barberi at eh church I visited at Littlemore.

A relic of Blessed Dominic Barberi at the church I visited at Littlemore.

I had an opportunity to pray in front of the Crucifix Blessed Newman prayed in front of daily.

I had an opportunity to pray in front of the Crucifix Blessed Newman prayed in front of daily.

Newman's bedroom kept today as it was when he lived there.

Newman’s bedroom kept today as it was when he lived there.

Pilgrims can visit Newman’s room, in which many historic features have been preserved. The chapel, which is regularly used for prayer and Mass, is similar to how it would have been when Newman and his companions prayed there. I prayed in the same place where Newman spent so much of his time in search of the truth, and where he had the grace and happiness of being received into what he believed to be “the one true Fold of Christ” (Letters and Diaries XI, 5).

Newman's writing desk on which Blessed Barberi performed the mass after Newman's conversion. Newman never write on it again and kept it inverted after this .

Newman’s writing desk on which Blessed Barberi performed the mass after Newman’s conversion. Newman never wrote on it again and kept it inverted after this mass .

obedience

Newman’s writing desk in his bedroom.

The intellectual genius of Newman coupled with is humility struck me to the core. His dogged determination in search of the truth cost him dearly as far as his friends and family were concerned.  On his desk is a diary of his writings and included is a letter to his sister Jemima telling her of his decision to convert to Catholicism. He begins, ”My dear Jemima, I must tell you what will pain you greatly, but I will make it as short as you would wish me to do…”.  This letter he sent to her only after his conversion. The non-pre-existent relationship with his sister caused his much sadness.

In 1845 Newman wrote his ‘Development of Christian Doctrine’ and towards the end of this work it became clear to him that he must seek admission into the Roman Catholic Church. When Fr Dominic Barberi visited Littlemore, Newman and two of his companions were received into the Church on 9th October 1845.

In his Development of Christian Doctrine’, Newman spoke of how ‘to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.’ These memorable words are well known and often quoted, and it seems obvious that change was a particular characteristic of his life. The Roman Catholic Church in England was itself going though great change at the time of Newman’s conversion.

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In receipt of Royal Assent.

Queen of United Kingdom (as well as Canada, Au...

Queen of United Kingdom (as well as Canada, Australia, and other Commonwealth realms) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Below is a copy of the statement put out to the media by the Catholic Church of England and Wales on the new legislation passed in the Commons which allows for gay couples to be married in England. The original text is found here.

 

In receiving Royal Assent, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act marks a watershed in English law and heralds a profound social change. This fact is acknowledged by both advocates and opponents of the Act.

Marriage has, over the centuries, been publicly recognised as a stable institution which establishes a legal framework for the committed relationship between a man and a woman and for the upbringing and care of their children. It has, for this reason, rightly been recognised as unique and worthy of legal protection.

The new Act breaks the existing legal links between the institution of marriage and sexual complementarity. With this new legislation, marriage has now become an institution in which openness to children, and with it the responsibility on fathers and mothers to remain together to care for children born into their family unit, are no longer central. That is why we were opposed to this legislation on principle.

Along with others, we have expressed real concern about the deficiencies in the process by which this legislation came to Parliament, and the speed with which it has been rushed through. We are grateful particularly therefore to those Parliamentarians in both Houses who have sought to improve the Bill during its passage, so that it enshrines more effective protection for religious freedom.

A particular concern for us has also been the lack of effective protection for Churches which decide not to opt-in to conducting same sex marriages. Amendments made in the House of Lords though have significantly strengthened the legal protections in the Act for the Churches. We also welcome the Government’s amendment to the Public Order Act which makes it clear beyond doubt that “discussion or criticism of marriage which concerns the sex of the parties to the marriage shall not be taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred”. Individuals are therefore protected from criminal sanction under the Public Order Act when discussing or expressing disagreement with same sex marriage.

In other respects, however, the amendments we suggested have not been accepted. We were concerned to provide legislative clarity for schools with a religious character. This was in order to ensure that these schools will be able to continue to teach in accordance with their religious tenets. Given the potential risk that future guidance given by a Secretary of State for education regarding sex and relationships education could now conflict with Church teaching on marriage, we were disappointed that an amendment to provide this clarity was not accepted. The Minister made clear in the House of Lords, however, that in “having regard” to such guidance now or in the future schools with a religious character can “take into account other matters, including in particular relevant religious tenets”, and that “having regard to a provision does not mean that it must be followed assiduously should there be good reason for not doing so”. These assurances go some way to meeting the concerns we and others expressed.

We were disappointed that a number of other amendments to safeguard freedom of speech and the rights of civil registrars to conscientious objection were not passed. But Ministerial assurances have been made that no one can suffer detriment or unfavourable treatment in employment because she or he holds the belief that marriage can only be between a man and a woman.

The legal and political traditions of this country are founded on a firm conviction concerning the rights of people to hold and express their beliefs and views, at the same time as respecting those who differ from them. It is important, at this moment in which deeply held and irreconcilable views of marriage have been contested, to affirm and strengthen this tradition.

Catholic England.

I came across this video clip on Catholicism Pure and Simple and thought it deserves to be shared in this space. I’m not a follower of Michael Voris, but this clip made me stop in my tracks and think about the implications of what he is saying about Catholicism in England and world-wide. Off the bat, I admit to being downhearted and filled with dismay at the sad picture he is painting about Catholicism generally. I proceed, sharing my thoughts and feelings about his  brush strokes.

Mr. Voris claims that there is a ‘philosophical and ideological war’ being waged between faithful Modernists and a growing  following that are proud to be known as Traditionalists on this English Isle.  He goes on to say that the contemporary Modernist, trendy Liberalist Christians  are dying away and that there is no sign of growth or vitality within modern day Catholicism here in England, other than a slow trickle of those  who are moving towards Traditional  Masses. I believe this trickle towards Traditionalism it’s a good sign.

He points to the article from the Economist to support his views

I quote from the Economist article Michael Voris refers to; 

…the congregation is young and international. Like evangelical Christianity, traditional Catholicism is attracting people who were not even born when the Second Vatican Council tried to rejuvenate the church. Traditionalist groups have members in 34 countries, including Hong Kong, South Africa and Belarus. Juventutem, a movement for young Catholics who like the old ways, boasts scores of activists in a dozen countries. Traditionalists use blogs, websites and social media to spread the word—and to highlight recalcitrant liberal dioceses and church administrators, who have long seen the Latinists as a self-indulgent, anachronistic and affected minority. In Colombia 500 people wanting a traditional mass had to use a community hall (they later found a church).

This ‘movement of young Catholics who like the old ways’ is to me  an encouraging sign , in that the youth are not easily swayed. They think for themselves and see right through farcical arguments. They recognise Authenticity for what it is:- Right and True. They wear their knowledge on their sleeves and are proud to share it.

Looking back over the last 12 years, my family and I have been blessed to be members of a strong and established parish, thanks to the dedication and foresight of our parish priest. He is a stickler for doing everything properly, which has led to undue criticism from those who feel  as though they are being spoken to in a ‘condescending manner’ after being reminded that:

  1. the at Mass it’s unacceptable to walk in after the Gospel has been read,
  2. or that it reflects poor manners to leave Mass straight after Communion,
  3. that when you enter the Church building you should do so in a quiet manner because it is a place set aside for prayer and worship,
  4. and that after Mass you should leave in silence out of consideration for those who are remaining behind  in prayer.

While my better half and I have grown to love and appreciate ‘Fr. Brown’s’ direct approach to how things are to be respected planned and executed, others have decided that his ‘nit-picking’ has driven them to leave the parish for ‘greener pastures.’  We’re proud of  our Pastor for being strong and unafraid of upholding  basic principles of behaviour expected in a Catholic church anywhere in the world.’ Fr. Brown’s ‘ tenacity and strength of character are the attributes that the thinking Catholic will be drawn to.

Portrait of G.K. Chesterton by Timothy Jones--see more of his art at http://timothyjones.typepad.com/timothy_jones_daily_paint/ This painting was used on the cover of "In Defense of Sanity", a collection of essays by G.K. Chesterton.

Portrait of G.K. Chesterton by Timothy Jones–see more of his art at http://timothyjones.typepad.com/timothy_jones_daily_paint/
This painting was used on the cover of “In Defense of Sanity”, a collection of essays by G.K. Chesterton.

I take offence at Voris’s claim to the lack of growth or vitality  within Catholicism here: he is obviously unaware of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal which is alive and well, boasting growing numbers  at annual  Catholic week-long conferences such as ‘New Dawn‘ and ‘Celebrate’the excellent work done by the Catholic theatre group TEN TENthe wonderful work of the SION community; the tireless work done by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal during the annual  Spirit in the City faith Festival in the heart of London’s West end over 4 days and every other day of the year; the popularity of Youth 2000the growing numbers of youth from England attending World Youth Day celebrations (which includes both those from the Modern and Traditional ‘persuasions’); the birth of  a new Catholic radio station (Heart gives unto Heart) available 24/7; the 80 000 + Catholics who joined the Holy Father in Hyde Park alone not to mention the development of the Catholic Voices organisation developed especially before the Holy Father’s visit to improve the image of Catholicism in the press here in England.

Sure things are changing in Catholicism, but I think, for the better. Papa Francisco points clearly in a new and fresh direction.

Not JUST a Saxon church, but an ancient treasure.

This is the Parish church at Wootton Wawen, Warwickshire, England. It is Warwickshire’s oldest church boasting a ‘Saxon Sanctuary’ Exhibition showing the development of the community over the centuries. An entire Millennium of English church architecture can be seen in this building which is an organised jumble of the interesting and quirky. A ‘must see’, top-ten church.

Stratford Upon Avon May 2013 032

Dating back to the first decades of the eighth century as is proved by the charter of Aethelbald (Saxon king) which mentions the minster which then existed in the area and founded by Aethelric. Its tower dates back to the 900s, if not earlier. It was first established as a missionary church for spreading the Christian faith to the surrounding areas and was inhabited by Benedictine monks at that time. This church was built on the “Wudu Tun” (Wootton) estate near the river Alne which still meanders through the tranquil countryside.

The preservation of historical buildings is paramount in the UK.

The preservation of historical buildings is paramount in the UK.

Today, the remains of this stone church forms the heart of the parish church of St. Peter’s, including the lower two- thirds of the tower and the four arches enclosing the Saxon Sanctuary. As it stands today, St. Peter’s represents almost every stage of English architecture, and its medieval congregation was the first in a long line to raise funds to safeguard the building.

In the barn-roofed Lady Chapel an acclaimed exhibition explores Wootton’s mysterious past, including how it got its very odd name. Wagen (‘Wawen’) was the Saxon lord of the manor a thousand years ago.

 

The  barn roofed Lady Chapel.

The barn roofed Lady Chapel.

Stratford Upon Avon May 2013 085 Visible inscriptions made by past pilgrims to St Peters. Some of these inscriptions are known to have been made by Crusaders.

As we walked in the church spoke loudly of a Catholic past, and as we moved from one part of the church to the next, I felt a deep sadness about all the Catholic churches that were either destroyed or repatriated during the Reformation. I certainly felt a connection with those Catholics who had been there before me.

A wonderful trip into the past…

The beautiful Sanctuary at St Mary Immaculate, Warick

The beautiful Sanctuary at St Mary Immaculate Church, Warick

This past Bank holiday week-end, my better-half and I finally decided to spend a much longed for week-end away together. It was just what the doctor ordered. It was great to just relax without any interruptions from any electronic device whatsoever. Bliss!

We decided to visit Stratford Upon Avon as we’ve never been there, and booked into a hotel in the nearby town of Warick. The next important decision, was about where we would attend Mass on Sunday and  St. Mary Immaculate Church happens to be about 5-6 km from the hotel, so that became the obvious choice for our weekly Sunday sojourn. We saw it as a  bonus that we could attend the 8;30am Mass and then carry on from there to do our site-seeing and exploring in the neighbouring town of  Stratford (or so we’d planned!) On Saturday I came down with a racking and relentless cough, which kept me wide-eyed and bush-tailed throughout the night. Not good. So, we abandoned said plans and after Mass decided to head back to the hotel where I spent the entire day in bed (still coughing) trying to catch up on a bit of sleep.

Our attendance at St. Mary Immaculate was just lovely in every sense of the word. We  were greeted by a most beautifully adorned  Sanctuary as we walked into the intimate seating area for about 200 worshippers. ( I say intimate, as our church holds probably upwards of 600 parishioners at a time.)

The icons of Saints adorned the back wall, rightfully taking their place to ‘worship’ alongside us during the Mass. The Sanctus took on a new meaning for me with these wonderful images  staring down upon the Altar, during the most special prayer of  devotion and worship in the Mass. We received Communion in both kinds that morning, in an unknown community of fellow Catholics.

Stratford Upon Avon May 2013 024

Stratford Upon Avon May 2013 023

After Mass we introduced ourselves to Fr. Stefan Laszczyk, who by and by came to tell us about to one of  St. Mary Immaculate’s world famous parishioners: JJR Tolkien! He and his wife were married at this church in 1916. I love the fact that in England history lies around every corner, and if you’re not careful, you may just miss an exciting titbit.

I’m glad we introduced ourselves to Fr. Laszczyk!

Sorry about the blurriness!!

Sorry about the blurriness!!

Same-sex marriage: impact on education

Reblogged from the Hermeneutic of Continuity:

c4mbookletcover

The Coalition for Marriage have produced a booklet which indicates that if the “Equal Marriage Bill” is passed schools would have a legal requirement to teach about “same-sex marriage”.

Section 403(1A)(a) of the Education Act 1996 imposes a duty on the Secretary of State to “issue guidance” to ensure that pupils “learn the nature of marriage and its importance for family life and the bringing up of children” as part of sex education.

If the legal definition of marriage changes, the law will require that children learn about gay marriage as part of sex education…

This is obviously far more serious than the right of teachers to object on an individual basis. This would affect all the nation’s children. The C4M booklet gives a number of sample pages from books such as “Daddy’s Roommate”, “Hello Sailor”, “Josh and Jaz have Three Mums” etc. They are aimed at young children. Here is a link to download a copy of the booklet.

With materials that might be put before secondary school pupils, we are in a bind because some of it is too disgusting to detail. It is more important than ever that parents insist on seeing exactly what materials are shown to their children, whether in school – or outside school by agencies that have gained trust (and contact details of young people) by being invited into the school. From a link in Laurence England’s excellent post Schools and Same-Sex Marriage, I have just read a booklet from the Terence Higgins Trust which I wish I had never seen. “Called The Bottom Line. All you’ll ever need to know about your arse and his.” it gives detailed instructions on various forms of anal sex along with the diseases and injuries that commonly result from it – as though these are just hazards we have to accept in life.

The THT has a page asking “Why should Terrence Higgins Trust come to my school?” If you are a teacher opposed to same-sex marriage or a parent who wants their child protected from such instructional material, you may soon be unable to ask that question without legal consequences.

 

Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us!

The Roman Catholic National Shrine, Walsingham.

The Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham was established in 1061. For detailed information look here.

image@http://www.walsingham.org.uk

image@http://www.walsingham.org.uk

Pray for England.

O Blessed Virgin Mary,

Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother,

look down in mercy upon England thy “Dowry” and upon us all who greatly hope and trust in thee.

By thee it was that Jesus our Saviour and our hope was given unto the world;

and He has given thee to us that we might hope still more.

Plead for us thy children, whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the cross.

O sorrowful Mother! intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold they may be united to the supreme Shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son.

Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith fruitful in good works we may all deserve to see and praise God, together with thee, in our heavenly home. Amen.

statue_our_lady2

Image@http://www.walsingham.org.uk

 

Hope

Hope

Hope looks for the good in people instead of harping on the worst.

Hope opens doors where despair closes them.

Hope discovers what can be done instead of grumbling about what cannot.

Hope draws its power from a deep trust in God and the basic goodness of human nature.

Hope “lights a candle” instead of “cursing the darkness.”

Hope regards problems, small or large, as opportunities.

Hope cherishes no illusions, nor does it yield to cynicism.

Hope sets big goals and is not frustrated by repeated difficulties or setbacks.

Hope pushes ahead when it would be easy to quit.

Hope puts up with modest gains, realizing that “the longest journey starts with one step.”

Hope accepts misunderstandings as the price for serving the greater good of others.?

Hope is a good loser because it has the divine assurance of final victory.

 

A moving reflection on hope by the late Fr. James Keller, M.M. Founder of The Christophers.

Mother Teresa exhibition in the Olympic City:-London 2012

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa 

What an opportune time to host an exhibition of Mother Teresa! The exhibition will be open Tuesday to Saturday from 11am-7pm daily until 15 September in the crypt of St Patrick’s church, Soho, 21a Soho Square, London W1D 4NR  See: http://Stpatricksoho.org/

A life-size replica of the bedroom of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta has been created in the church of St Patrick’s, Soho, central London.

This shows the pictures by her bed, and the boxes in which – til the end of her life – she distributed post for each of the sisters in the house where Mother Teresa lived in Calcutta.

It is part of a free exhibition about the life and message of Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa, Life, Spirituality Message opened this week, after a special Mass at St Patrick’s on Monday night. This was concelebrated by the Papal Nuncio to England, Archbishop Antonio Mennini.

Visit and you will also see Blessed Teresa’s Sari, and headband and cardigan, her prayer book, and a copy of the chapel typical to houses of the Missionaries of Charity, the order Mother Teresa founded in 1950.

Read more about it here.

The Catholic Connection: Part 1.

As I ‘ve aged and hopefully, made some small steps on my spiritual journey, I have become interested in the Early Church Fathers as well as the early Saints and Christians who have died for a Faith I am so blessed and privileged to be a part of. Each day I am grateful for the ‘freedom’ to write about and live my Faith. This is one of the reasons why I was so excited about our recent holiday to Rome, the seat of Christianity.

On hearing about our eminent trip to the Eternal City, Fr. Peter (our parish priest), offered to connect us with one of our parish Deacons who is in his second year of study at the Collegio Inglesi—-Roma. (The English College) That very same evening we received a jovial e-mail from Andrew. After a few emails sent to and fro, we established a firm date to meet up, after which we found out that Andrew would be smack-bang in the middle of end of year exams!

The above photo of Our Lady Of Walsingham was taken in the College. I just love this wooden statue. It’s got oodles of character. (I have yet to visit Walsingham here in England.) Andrew gave us an in-depth tour of the college, sharing many details about numerous martyrs, that are remembered through the art there. We were privileged to be able to hold a chalice that was used by a number of saints who themselves, had attended the college. Very special indeed.

Part of the ceiling .

We attended Mass at the college on both Sundays of our stay in Rome. At the first Mass we celebrated in awe of the four Cantors, the heavenly music and the fact that we were worshipping God in such a beautiful chapel. On the right and below is a taster of the beautiful decor of the chapel.  The marble flooring adds to the sumptuous beauty of the chapel, and behind the altar is a painting of Christ being removed from the Cross. It was only after close scrutiny that the detail of the painting became apparent. The Precious Blood of our Lord, pouring out of  His wounds onto the world. The Hands of God the Father can be seen too, holding up his Son, with the Holy Spirit in the centre.

As the tour continued Andrew named saint after saint after saint. Most of whom  I had never even heard of. It was a humbling experience.

I had always wanted to visit a Seminary, just to know what happens there, and here we were being personally chaperoned by a  prospective priest! It was such a privilege. We joined him for lunch,accompanied by much laughter and the excellent company of Fr. Guy and Benjamin. (a fourth year student priest.) We were made to feel so welcome, and the  unbreakable bond of Christianity was tangible and a sure source of unity.