Friday, August 31, 2012

Blessed John Henry Newman, the sign of the Cross

Cardenal John Henry Newman

I thought I'd wrap up this short series of religious poems with one by the Blessed John Henry Newman ... he is a favourite of mine. Indeed, I think he is rather of favourite of Catholics & Anglo-Catholics (and many others besides). If he does make it through the canonisation process, which pray God he will, then I suspect there will be a battle royale for various groupings to have him declared their patron saint!

WHENE'ER across this sinful flesh of mine 
I draw the Holy Sign,
All good thoughts stir within me, and renew
Their slumbering strength divine;
Till there springs up a courage high and true
To suffer and to do.

And who shall say, but hateful spirits around,
For their brief hour unbound,
Shudder to see, and wail their overthrow?
While on far heathen ground
Some lonely Saint hails the fresh odour, though
Its source he cannot know.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Confession: an issue for all denominations

Protect the seal

Just a few thoughts on the seal on the confession, as much to keep the issue 'alive' as it were. I've posted on the issue previously. And indeed I've even had a letter or two in the Irish Times on the matter (is anyone surprised that I wrote a letter to the Times? or would you be more surprised if I said I had not!). One of those letters was read out on the RTE radio one (lucky me). So I feel I have at least tried. 

But one point I think I may have failed to make is that this is not an exclusively Roman Catholic issue. What, you say? Have all those grey hairs finally gone to his head? No really. The Catholic Church is not the only one to practice sacramental confession. There are all the various autocephelous Orthodox Churches to begin with. Quite a number of these are well represented in Ireland. Not to mention those Churches which are in communion with the Catholic Church but have their own unique traditions and are more or less independent of Rome. 

And last, but surely not least, there is the Church of Ireland. I know the Anglo-Catholic spirit is not widespread in Ireland, except in a few pockets here and there, and perhaps among scattered individuals. But the point is it does exist and for those for whom it is an essential part of the practice of their faith it is important ... and part of that practice includes sacramental confession.

So, next time you hear some politician blathering about trying to break the seal, don't just shrug your shoulders and dismiss it as a 'Catholic' issue. It is not. It effects others too. And maybe think about this. Does it matter how many Church groups it affects? To attack the seal is to attack freedom of religion. An attack on one is an attack on all. Even if this one isn't important to you, remember this: the next freedom if they get away with this, or the next, may be something you think of as important ... only by then it may be too late to make your voice heard ... because too much ground has already been lost.

I've put the image above on the sidebar of my blog with the title: 
THE SACRAMENT OF CONFESSION: AN ISSUE FOR ALL DENOMINATIONS. Remember that it is. For more reasons than just the sacrament itself.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

First day in school


Ah, the joys of having a school in the parish! Today our small local school returned to the fray after the 'summer' holidays ... I use inverted commas for the word summer, as the weather has been such in Ireland that the word summer seems to be the wrong one to describe the rainy season that we have just experienced. Inevitably, after a night of deluge, the day dawned clear and bright for the first day back. Inevitably, I teased the children about that fact.

As I stood before the children to lead prayers at the opening assembly, I first mused with them about the fact that once Jesus must have been in a similar situation to them: whether it was starting school for the first time, or coming back to it again after a holiday break. The Gospels don't mention his schooling, of course, but we know from the fact that he would stand up in the synagogue and read from the scrolls that he could read. Bystanders may have wondered where his wisdom came from, but we never hear them being amazed by the mere fact that he could read! 

And we also know from the Gospels that he was well versed in scripture. So it seems reasonable to assume that our Lord as a little boy went to school, and had similar experiences to the ones that the children who are returning to their schools schools at this time. Our Lord, during his the childhood years of his incarnation, surely endured and enjoyed all the normal experiences of earthly life.

I don't know about you, but I find the thought comforting that Jesus, among all the things he did for us, also went to school and did homework. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Alexander Pope, THE DYING CHRISTIAN TO HIS SOUL


    I don't think this poem needs any introduction. Go down and read the last two lines first if you don't believe me!

    VITAL spark of heav'nly flame!
    Quit, O quit this mortal frame:
    Trembling, hoping, ling'ring, flying,
    O the pain, the bliss of dying!
    Cease, fond Nature, cease thy strife,
    And let me languish into life.
     
    Hark! they whisper; angels say,
    Sister Spirit, come away!
    What is this absorbs me quite?
    Steals my senses, shuts my sight,
    Drowns my spirit, draws my breath?
    Tell me, my soul, can this be death?
     
    The world recedes; it disappears!
    Heav'n opens my eyes! my ears
    With sounds seraphic ring!
    Lend, lend your wings! I mount! I fly!
    O Grave! where is thy victory?
    O Death! where is thy sting?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

One choice: eternal life


(image: Bosch)

May my words be in the Name of the Holy & Undivided Trinity: + Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Amen.

You'll probably think I'm very stupid, but for the longest time as a child, I couldn't make any sense of the old saying: you can't have your cake & eat it too. It was a saying that my mother used to use … but when she said it, I simply didn't get what she meant … how could you eat your cake, I thought, if you didn't have it … and if you're eating it, you must have it!

You're all quite smart here, I am aware, so you probably never had any trouble understanding what it was that I was missing about the point of the saying … it's that you can either eat it or keep it … once you eat it, it's gone and you don't have it … and if you want to keep it, then you can't eat it … maybe I would have understood better if the saying had been 'you can't save your money & spend it too!'

Whatever! The point is, that it is about choices … and often when you choose one thing, then you exclude something else … sometimes many other things … choices have consequences ... and all three of our readings are about choices today: about choosing to follow God and the consequences that follow from that.

Our Old Testament reading shows us Joshua challenging the people of Israel to follow God … the consequence of that choice is that you can not then follow other gods or idols … bear in mind that this would have been a remarkable concept in the Ancient Near East, the idea that you could only follow one god … they were used to following all kinds of gods … but the people of Israel get what Joshua is saying … they don't say: 'ah Josh, come on; do we have to be so anti-social? Our new neighbours will be throwing some good parties & fetivals to honour their gods … wouldn't it be rude of us not to go?' What they do say is: ‘Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods' … Because they understood that it was an 'one thing or the other' choice: you could worship God or you could worship idols; but you couldn't do both; and if you did worship the idols, they you were forsaking God, whether you openly declared it or not … to worship idols was to forsake God.

But when you make that choice, the work isn't over. That's what our Epistle reading from St Paul is telling us. 'Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.' There's a lot out there tempting us to go astray … there's a great book by CS Lewis called the 'Screwtape Letters' … if you haven't read it, then I highly recommend it … I re-read it again last week, and I have to say that it bears repeated study … one of the points that it makes is that one of the best ways to make a Christian go astray is to trick them into thinking that they are a good, devoted disciple, when in reality they are as worldly as the most ardent secularist.

Here's a few thoughts for you to illustrate what I mean: would you ever stay out so late on a Saturday enjoying yourself, that you couldn't make it to Church on Sunday? Do you have one or more social activities that you would go to on a regular basis instead of going to Church? What about money? When things are getting tight, what gets your priority – giving for the work of the Church, or funding the next holiday, a new car, your social budget, or some other 'nice to have' that you could really live without? And very importantly, do you tell yourself that you don't have time to pray, or read the Bible, or read spiritual books … but yet have plenty of time for television, the latest thriller, or going out for drinks or coffee? We need prayer in our battle against all there is to tempt us away from the path we are called to and have chosen: 'Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication' we hear St Paul telling us today … we need God's help to stay strong and on track … and without it, we risk all that God offers us …

The choice of some of Jesus disciples in today's Gospel is to simply walk away. This is a hard teaching they say. And they were right. A lot of what Jesus teaches us is hard … but we really shouldn't surprised that being a Christian is hard, should we? Jesus told us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him … he said that his followers had nowhere to lay their heads … and the reason he sets this hard life before us is because he loves us … and he wants us to understand that this life matters little when compared with what waits beyond it … many things of this world will get in the way of our getting to heaven if we let them … St Peter understood that … when Jesus asks the twelve if they also wish to leave him, St Peter says: ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.' To choose not to follow Jesus is to say 'no' to eternal life. You can not say 'no' to his words, his hard sayings, the self-denial, and your own personal cross and still say 'yes' to Jesus … we may fool ourselves that we can … but when we do, we're not being any smarter than that little boy that I was so many years ago who couldn't understand it when his mother tried to explain that choices had consequences. St Peter saw clearly what the right choice to make was; to follow him who had the words of eternal life whatever the personal cost … and it is something that I pray that you will also have the grace to see clearly … in the Name of the + Father, the Son, & the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Sermon notes 26 August 2012 (12h after Trinity)  

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Pedophiles stigmatized for sexual orientation?

What kind of a world are we living in? Read this article & maybe you can tell me. What I find appalling is not that I think there is much chance that they'll get what they want, but that they feel entitled to 'start a conversation' on this issue. Was this bound to happen in a society that increasingly thinks there is no absolute rights and wrongs, but everything depends on the situation - in other words moral relativism?

While you're thinking, please remember to pray for all victims of pedophilia ... and all who struggle with the  temptations of this grave moral evil. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest finds new home in Limerick

(photo from Institute website)
I found a very heartening email in my inbox that I thought I would share with you. Note the number of vocations & the youthful average age of the community in Limerick. Note also that this very traditionally minded group has a special charism for working with young people. Their website is listed at the bottom of the piece; they can also be found on Facebook . Drop them a line, give them a 'like' to show your support, maybe even give them a wee donation if you can spare it - wherever you're coming from on the theological spectrum, it is good to help those who are doing God's work ... even if they're doing it in a way that might differ from the way that you would do it!


With the help of numerous friends from Ireland, the United States and Continental Europe, the Church of the Sacred Heart at the Crescent in Limerick, also known as the Jesuit Church after its first builders and long-term occupants, was recently purchased by a young priestly community called the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. The church and adjacent building, sold to a developer some years ago, had stood vacant for six years and was in danger of falling into ruin. Therefore many people from Limerick and other parts of Ireland were happy to help this Institute bring the Church of the Sacred Heart and its residence back to life.

A young community of members of the Institute of Christ the King will very soon move into the attached residence in spite of its rather poor condition, and the church will serve for the time being as its chapel. With the permission of the Bishop of Limerick, the Institute of Christ the King has had a residence in the diocese since 2009 and offers Mass every Sunday in the Extraordinary Form at St. Patrick's Church, whilst also working in a few neighbouring dioceses.

Founded in 1990, the Institute is a Roman-Catholic Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right in canonical form. The 64 priests of the Institute work all over the world to promote the spiritual Kingship of Christ. A special emphasis is laid on the harmony between faith and culture, and thus the young community has acquired a reputation for promoting the arts, especially sacred music and architecture. This experience will serve to restore the Church of the Sacred Heart to its classical beauty and make it available once more as a point of reference for the cultural life of Limerick.

The mother-house and international seminary of the Institute of Christ the King is based in Florence, Italy, where 80 seminarians are training for the priesthood and 21 religious sisters are especially devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Among these are already several Irish vocations. This young community has missions in Gabon (Africa) and important apostolates in the United States, England, France, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Sweden and naturally in Rome, where their founder, Msgr. Gilles Wach, was ordained to the priesthood by Blessed Pope John Paul. The provincial superior of the community in Ireland is at present Msgr. Michael Schmitz, who was ordained a priest by the present Holy Father, the then Cardinal Ratzinger.

The prior of the Church of the Sacred Heart is a 38 year-old priest, Canon Wulfran Lebocq, choir-master of the Institute and permanently resident in the diocese since 2010. For the time being, the community in Limerick is composed of four members, whose average age is 32. The Institute of Christ the King follows the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales, which is expressed in the motto of the Institute: Live the truth in charity, and could be summarised in the famous quote of the Doctor of Charity: Cook the truth in charity until it tastes sweet. The Canons of the Institute of Christ the King have a vast experience in working with the young. Schools, youth camps, days of recollection, musical training and many other activities are among the benefits they are used to bringing to the places where they work. 

In Limerick, the Institute of Christ the King, supported by many local residents and a large group of friends in Ireland and abroad, intends to restore the Church of the Sacred Heart to its original purpose as a vibrant spiritual and cultural centre and a beautiful place of worship through a dynamic and open community life as a spiritual family. However, this will require a careful historical restoration before the Church may be opened once again to the greater public. The Institute of Christ the King celebrates the classical Roman Liturgy, the Latin Mass, in its Extraordinary Form according to the liturgical books promulgated by Blessed Pope John XXIII in 1962. This liturgy, promoted by Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI in various documents, attracts today an ever greater number of people, especially young adults, students and families. The Institute is accustomed to see a lively family of faithful in its churches and wishes to bring the uplifting beauty of sacrality and genuine culture to all.This beautiful church at the Crescent is still today a special architectural jewel, and many deplored its closing and long-term vacancy. 

The Institute of Christ the King, which has a special devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, truly desires to reopen this church for the benefit of all, in close collaboration with the local civil and ecclesiastical authorities. In this way, yet another sign of a brighter future will again come alive in Limerick.Those who would like to know more about this important project for Limerick City can find further information either on their website (www.institute-christ-king.ie) or by visiting the community at the Crescent: Come and see!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Address from the gallows of St David Lewis SJ, martyr

Saint David Lewis 
St David Lewis SJ (1616 – 27 August 1679) 

It is touching to know that St David (whom I posted about here) hasn't been forgotten. In the area where he lived and died much is done to keep his memory alive. Part of their work is maintaining a website, Friends of Saint David Lewis.   It was on their site that I found a copy of his last words. I find them very moving & I thought I would share them:

“Here is a numerous assembley I see: the great Saviour of the world save every soul of you all. I believe you are here met not only to see a fellow-native die but also with expectation to hear a dying fellow-native speak. If you expected it not at least I intended it; I hope the favour will not be denied me, it being a favour so freely granted to several late dying persons in London itself. I shall endeavour to speak inoffensively, I hope the same favour will not be denied me.”


“Let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief; but if as Christian, let him not be ashamed.” Saint Peter’s words 1 Peter 4: 15-16. I hope by God’s Holy Spirit now whispered to my memory; and that to my abundant consolation, for I suffer not as a murderer, thief, or such-like malefactor, but as a Christian, and therefore am not ashamed.”

“I distinguish two sorts of life on earth; life-moral and life-natural, life-moral is that by which we live with good repute in the esteem of other men of integrity, life-natural is that by which we breath: in the first sort or kind, I thank God I have suffered lately, and exceedingly, when maliciously, falsely and most injuriously I was branded for a public cheat; in pamphlet; in ballad, on stage, and that in the head city of the Kingdom, yea, and over the whole nation, to the huge and great detriment of my good name, which I always was as tender of, as the other I am now quitting.” 

“The pamphletical story; believe my dying words, had no truth in it, neither to substance nor circumstance of the thing, a story so false that I could have easily defied the face that had attempted to justify it to my face, so sordid a business, a story so ridiculous, that I wonder how any sober Christian, at least who knew me, could as much as incline to believe so open an improbability; who that Protestant young man there mentioned was, I know not, who that Popish young woman, who the father dead a year and a half before, in what country, what parish, were all transacted, I know not, none of all these there particularized, and when in the face of the country at last Lent-Assizes, I vindicated my innocency herein, to the satisfaction of the Judge himself, why appeared not there then some one to make good the charge, and disable my defence? But none of this offered a plain demonstration to all candid minds, the whole was a mere fiction of some malicious person against me.” 

“God forgive them or him, I heartily do. How forward my endeavours always have been to my power to relieve the poor; and not directly to defraud them, impartial neighbours that know me can tell you. Besides this, during my nine months imprisonment, several foul and false aspersions were cast out against me, and that by those unto whom, for full thirty years, I had been charitably serviceable.” 


“God forgive them; I heartily do. Yet notwithstanding all these calumniations; I hope, I still retain the character of an honest man amongst gentlemen of worth, with whom I conversed, and with all neighbours of honesty, with and amongst whom I lived.”

“And now I am parting with the other life by which I breathe, behold that within these few moments of time is to unbreathe me; but why thus sledged to this country Tyburn? Why this so untimely death of mine? Have patience; and I’ll tell you, not for any plotting, I assure you, and what I shall now say, as to that, God is my witness, I shall speak without any equivocation, mental reservation, or palliation of truth whatsoever.”

“By all that is sacred in heaven and earth; I here solemnly protest, that I am as innocent from any plot whatever against his majesty’s person or government, as the infant that left the mother’s womb but yesterday, neither did I ever hear or know any thing directly or indirectly of any such plot, till public fame had spread it over the country between Michaelmass and All-Saints Day last. This is true; as God shall judge and save my soul, neither was there any guilt of any such black crime found in me by Mr Oates, Mr Bedlow, Mr Dugdale and Mr Praunce, when by them I was strictly examined on that point, last May in Newgate, London. Nay; had I had the least knowledge or hint of such Plot, I had been as zealously nimble in the discovery of it, as any the most loyal subject his majesty hath in his three kingdoms. Wherefore; when I am dead and gone, if some malevolent gives out, I lose my life for plotting, by charity strive to disengage him of his mistake; do that right to my dead ashes.”

“I was never taught that doctrine of King-Killing; from my soul I detest and abhor it as execrable and directly opposite to the principles of the religion I profess, what that is, you shall know by and by, it being the positive definition of the Council of Constance. That it is damnable for any subject or private person; or any subjects in council joined, to murder his or their lawful king or prince, or use any public or clandestine conspiration against him, though the said king or prince were a Turk, apostate, persecutor, yea or a tyrant in government. Never tell me of Clement the murderer of Henry the 3rd of France; never tell me of Ravilliac, murderer of Henry the 4th of France, they did so, but wickedly they did so, and for it they were punished to severity, as malefactors, and for.” 

“I hope you will not charge the whole Roman Catholic body with the villainies of some few desperadoes. By that rule; all Christianity must be answerable for the treason of Judas; for my part I always loved my king, I always honoured his person, and I daily prayed for his prosperity, and now with all unfeigned cordiality, I say it, God bless my gracious king and lawful prince, Charles 2, King of England and Prince of Wales. God bless him temporally and eternally, God preserve him from all his enemies, God direct him in all his councils, that may tend to the greater glory of the same great God, and whatever late plot hath been or is, the Father of lights bring it to light; the contrivers of it, and the actors in it, that such may be brought to their condign punishment, and innocence preserved.”

“But why again this untimely death? My religion is the Roman Catholic religion; in it I have lived above this forty years, in it I now die, and so fixedly die, that if all the good things in this world were offered me to renounce it, all should not move me one hair’s breadth from my Roman Catholic faith. A Roman Catholic I am, a Roman Catholic priest I am, a Roman Catholic priest of that religious order called the Society of Jesus I am, and I bless God who first called me, and I bless the hour in which I was first called both unto faith and function.”

“Please now to observe; I was condemned for reading Mass, hearing confessions, administering the sacraments, anointing the sick, christening, marrying, preaching. As for reading the Mass, it was the old, and still is the accustomed and laudable liturgy of the Holy Church, and all the other acts, which are acts of religion, tending to the worship of God, and for this dying, I die for religion. Moreover, know that last May I was in London under examination concerning the Plot, a prime examinant told me that to save my life and increase my fortunes, I must make some discovery of the Plot or conform; discover Plot I could not, for I knew of none, conform I would not, because it was against my conscience. Then by consequence I must die, and so now dying, I die for conscience and religion, and dying upon such good scores, as far as human frailty permits, I die with alacrity, interior and exterior from the abundance of the heart, let not only mouths, but faces also speak.”

“Here; methinks, I feel flesh and blood ready to burst into loud cries. ‘Tooth for tooth, eye for eye, blood for blood, life for life.’ ‘No.’ crieth Holy Gospel, ‘Forgive and you shall be forgiven, pray for those that persecute you, love your enemies.’ “And I profess myself a child of the Gospel, and the Gospel I obey.”

“Whomever present or absent; I have ever offended, I humbly desire them to forgive me, as for my enemies, had I as many hearts as I have fingers, with all those hearts would I forgive my enemies.”

“At leastwise, with all that single heart I have, I freely forgive them all, my neighbours that betrayed me, the persons that took me, the justices that committed me, the witnesses that proved against me, the jury that found me, the judge that condemned me, and others whoever, that out of malice or zeal, covertly or openly have been contributive to my condemnation.” 

"But singulary and especially, I forgive my capital persecutor who hath been so long thirsting after my blood, from my soul I forgive him, and wish his soul so well, that were it in my power, I would seat him a seraphim in heaven, and I pray for him in the language of glorious St. Stephen the protomartyr, ‘Lord, lay not this sin unto them,’ or better yet, in the style of our great master, Christ himself, ‘Father forgive them, they know not what they do.’

“And with reason I love them also; for though they have done themselves a vast soul-prejudice, yet they have done me an incomparable favour which I shall eternally acknowledge. 
But chiefly I love them for his sake; who said, ‘Love your enemies,’ and in testimony of my love I wish them, and it is the best of wishes from the center of my soul, I wish them a good eternity.” 

“O eternity; eternity!” How momentanean are the glorious riches, and pleasures of this world! And how desirable art thou, endless eternity! And for my said enemies attaining thereunto, I humbly beseech God to give them the grace of true repentance, before they and this world part.”

“Next to my enemies; give me leave to lift up my eyes, hands and heart to heaven, and drop some few words of advice unto, and for my friends as well those present as absent. Friends; fear God, honour your king, be firm in your faith, avoid mortal sin; by frequenting the sacraments of holy church, patiently bear your persecutions and afflictions, forgive your enemies: your sufferings are great, I say be firm in your faith to the end, yea, even to death, then shall ye heap unto yourselves celestial treasures in the heavenly Jerusalem, where ‘no thief robbeth, no moth eateth, and no rust consumeth’, and have that blessed saying of the blessed St. Peter, prince of the apostles, always in your memory, which I heartily recommend unto you, viz.”

‘Let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief; but if as a Christian let him not be ashamed, but glorify God in his name.’

“Now it is high time I make my addresses to heaven and supplicate the divine goodness on my own behalf, by some few short and cordial ejaculations of prayer.”

Then he (Fr Lewis) prayed aloud:

“Sovereign Lord God, Eternal Father of Heaven, Creator of all, Conserver of all, sole Author of Grace and Glory, with prostrate heart I adore Thee, and Thee only I adore as God; the Giving of Divine Honour to any Creature of highest degree, I abhor and detest as damnable Idolatry.”

“Incarnate Son of God, True God, Thou hast purchased a Church here upon Earth with Thy Sacred Blood and planted it with Thy Sacred Labours, a Church, One, Holy, Catholick, and Apostolick, a Church to continue to the consummation of the world. Whatever that Church of thine hath by revelation from thee, whatever that Church of thine hath taught me, and commanded me to believe, I believe it to an iota.”

“God, Holy Ghost, who maketh Thy Sun to shine upon good and bad, thy rain to fall on just and unjust, I praise thy Holy Name and thank thee for the innumerable benefits thou hast been pleased to bestow and confer upon me, thy unworthy servant, the three-score and three years I now have lived on earth. The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Charity of God, and the Communication of the Holy Ghost, be with you all, Amen.”
(2 Cor. 13 Chap. 14 Verse)

“The Peace of God that passeth all understanding, keep your Hearts and Minds in the knowledge and Love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ Our Lord; and the Blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, be among you, and remain with you all, and always, Amen.”

“Holy Trinity, three Persons and One God, from the bottom of my Heart, I am sorry that ever I offended Thee, my good God, even to an idle word; yet through the Mercy of thee, my God, and Merits of my Redeemer, I strongly hope for an Eternal Salvation.”

“Sweet Jesus, receive my soul.”


Fr Levi writes: I pray that we all receive the Grace to die so faithfully & beautifully, whatever the circumstances. Amen.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Shakespeare, Sonnet 73

 
I have always loved Shakespeare and Sonnet 73 was a particular favourite when I studied in school for what was then called the intermediate certificate. Re-reading it now, I do wonder about what it says about his attitude to death and faith ... he seems to have no intimations about life after death in it ... on the other hand, if it is to his 'Dark Lady' perhaps his intentions are to focus her attention on the here and now for his own particular benefit!

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou seest the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Mr Baker: his interesting life & extraordinary death

David Lewis
David Lewis (1616 – 27 August 1679)

May my words be in the Name of the Holy & Undivided Trinity: + Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Amen.

It is perhaps an occupational hazard for clergy that we enjoy going into churches and graveyards … and so, of course, I had a fine time on my recent holiday in Wales popping into several churches in the towns and villages that we passed through … and in case you starting to feel sorry for my family, thinking it was surely not much of a holiday for them, don't worry – we did other things as well as visit churches!

One of those we visited was the Priory of St Mary in the town of Usk, near the English border (not too far from Chepstow, famous for its race track). We had spent the day visiting an attraction about an hour from where we were staying; Usk was on the way back and we stopped to stretch our legs and have a little wander around. As it was evening the church was closed, but we had a look at it from the outside and at a few of the headstones.
 
One in particular caught my eye. It was a large marble stone, laid flat on the ground, near the church door. It looked fairly new, with some flowers on it. What caught my eye first was the name: Saint David Lewis. My first thought that it was a rather odd name … but as I read further, I realised that it was the grave of a reformation martyr, a Catholic priest who had been executed as a result of the religious intolerance of his time.

But how very strange, I thought, that his grave was in the local Anglican graveyard … and so close to the door of the church. There was more to this story than met the eye, I decided, and I determined to try and find out a bit more about this man when I got back home to the rectory.

The internet is a wonderful thing, and it didn't take me long to find out quite a lot about his story. He was a local man, born not far from Usk into what we would call a 'mixed marriage' with a Catholic mother and a Protestant father. He was raised a Protestant, but in his late teens was drawn to the tradition of his mother. Later he travelled to the continent where he trained as a priest and was ordained. He held some posts in Rome, but Wales seems to have always held his heart and he returned home to spend the next 30 years, the remainder of his life, quietly ministering to the spiritual needs of the Catholic community of the area in which he had grown up.

He lived under the name of Mr Baker and his public persona was that of a gentleman. But as he was a local, I find it hard to believe that this was not merely a polite fiction and that the non-Catholics of his community did not simply wink at his pretence. It was, of course, a capital offence for a Catholic priest to administer the sacraments at this time. But it was something that Fr Lewis thought important enough to risk his life to do… and despite the law, something that the non-Catholic part of his parish were content for him to do.

Alas, events far away were to have a tragic impact on the quiet and peaceful little town in Wales. In London what came to be called the Titus Oates conspiracy stirred up anti-Catholic feeling in the Capital. This might have made little difference, were it not for the fact that a reward was issued for anyone involved in the plot. Greed got the better of a couple of local servants … fifty pounds was a lot of money in those days … and Mr Baker was unmasked to the authorities as Fr Lewis. He was taken to London and questioned in relation to the conspiracy and found blameless … but there was no denying that he was a Catholic priest and for that he was sentenced to be hung, drawn, and quartered.
 
He as returned to Usk for the gruesome sentence to be carried out. It was a public execution, as was the custom of the day, and he was allowed to speak from the gallows, as also was customary. He affirmed that he committed no crime – and that he had been found innocent of any criminal conspiracy – and that he was to die only because he was a priest who had done his duty and administered the sacraments of the Church to his people. If this was something that he had to die for, then he died willingly, because he could not have done otherwise.

And so Fr Lewis was executed. But there is much about his death that speaks well not only of him, but also of the people of Usk. The local executioner could not be found to carry out the deed. He had run off rather than be the one who would kill the holy man. History records that a 'passing miscreant' was employed for the grim task. A local Protestant held Fr Lewis' hand as he was hanged and would not let go until he was sure the priest was quite dead, thereby sparing this 'local boy' the agonising horror of being drawn and quartered. And after it was all over, his body was taken for decent burial in the local churchyard, where it rests in a place of honour near the church door to this day.
 
St David was to be the last martyr of the reformation in England and Wales. His story is inspiring in many ways. The first is that the actions of his local, Protestant community show a quiet religious tolerance, remarkable for its day, accepting of Fr Lewis during his life, and doing their best for him at the time of his death. The second is that of Fr Lewis himself, risking his life to bring the sacraments to the Catholic people of the land he grew up in, and finally giving his life for having done so. And doing so cheerfully, a price he was willing to pay, because it was something that he saw as being that important.

I can't help thinking of the importance St David attached to the sacraments after our Gospel reading today: think about what Jesus says here: 'Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live for ever.’

These are Christ's own words - 'unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life' No wonder, perhaps, that Fr Lewis thought it right to risk his life to bring this life saving flesh and blood to his flock … no wonder that, believing Christ's words to be true, as he stood on the gallows, moments before the terrible death to which he had been condemned, he could calmly say that he could not have done otherwise and would do so again if he could. It was his task, his duty, his God-given vocation to bring the flesh and blood that brings eternal life to those he had care over and he could not and would not shirk that duty whatever the cost.

How many of us regard the sacraments with equal importance? How many of us would risk death to receive them or to bring them to others? St David died a martyr's death as witness to his faith in their importance, their necessity, in living a Christians life. And while I do not wish a martyr's death for anyone here, I do pray that we would all be inspired by his example to the extent that we would have even a fraction of the devotion to the sacraments Christ gave his Church … so that with God's grace we too may enter into the eternal life Christ promised all who followed him ... in the Name of the + Father, the Son, & the Holy Spirit. Amen.
(Sermon notes, 19 August 2012, 11th after Trinity) 
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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Henry Constable, To The Blessed Sacrament




I'm afraid i couldn't find an image of Henry Constable to go along with this poem of his. If you have trouble making sense of the somewhat archaic English, trying reading it aloud & it will be much clearer (I hope!).

To The Blessed Sacrament
WHEN thee (O holy sacrificed Lambe)
In severed sygnes I whyte and liquide see,
As on thy body slayne I thynke on thee,
Which pale by sheddyng of thy bloode became.

And when agayne I doe behold the same
Vayled in whyte to be receav’d of mee,
Thou seemest in thy syndon (shroud) wrapt to bee
Lyke to a corse (corpse), whose monument I am.

Buryed in me, unto my sowle appeare,
Pryson’d in earth, and bannisht from thy syght,
Lyke our forefathers who in lymbo were,
Cleere thou my thoughtes, as thou did’st gyve them light,
And as thou others freed from purgyng fyre
Quenche in my hart the flames of badd desyre.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

a certain tension


etching of Christ Church, Dublin, where this year's General Synod took place

My pension statement from the relevant Church office arrived yesterday. It's not something that I generally spend much time on. I am a 'late vocation' & seeing in black and white the small pension that will be due me should I live to retire at the normal age makes for uninspiring reading. However yesterday, perhaps feeling more masochistic than usual, I chose to read over it. 

What caught my attention most was not the 'bottom line' of what my meagre pension will be, but one of the more mundane lines ... the third line down, right below 'Name' & 'Date of birth,' was 'Marital status/Civil Partnership.' Civil partnership is only available to same-sex couples in Ireland. Anything to do with clergy pensions must be approved by General Synod. So how does that line on a Church of Ireland Clergy Pensions Fund statement square with the recent General Synod vote, where by a two-thirds majority the traditional teaching of the church on sexuality (one man, one woman, married for life) was affirmed? At the very least it seems to indicate a certain tension between theory and practice. Wouldn't you say? Or is it simply a matter of the left hand not knowing what the right is doing?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Feast of the Assumption

 

Today is the feast of the Assumption (or Dormition) of our Lady. Marian feasts can be contentious in some Anglican circles. Here is what section 
Section 40 of 'Mary Grace and Hope in Christ the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) an Agreed Statement' has to say:

'After the Council of Ephesus, churches began to be dedicated to Mary and feasts in her honour began to be celebrated on particular days in these churches. Prompted by popular piety and gradually adopted by local churches, feasts celebrating Mary’s conception (December 8/9), birth (September 8), presentation (November 21), and dormition (August 15) mirrored the liturgical commemorations of events in the life of the Lord. They drew both on the canonical Scriptures and also on apocryphal accounts of Mary’s early life and her ‘falling asleep’. A feast of the conception of Mary can be dated in the East to the late seventh century, and was introduced into the Western church through southern England in the early eleventh century. It drew on populardevotion expressed in the second-century Protoevangelium of James, and paralleled the dominical feast of the annunciation and the existing feast of the conception of John the Baptist. The feast of Mary’s ‘falling asleep’ dates from the end of the sixth century, but was influenced by legendary narratives of the end of Mary’s life already widely in circulation. In the West, the most influential of them are the Transitus Mariae. In the East the feast was known as the ‘dormition’, which implied her death but did not exclude her being taken into heaven. In the West the term used was ‘assumption’,which emphasized her being taken into heaven but did not exclude the possibility of her dying. Belief in her assumption was grounded in the promise of the resurrection of the dead and the recognition of Mary’s dignity as Theotókos and ‘Ever Virgin’, coupled with the conviction that she who had borne Life should be associated to her Son’s victory over death, and with the glorification of his Body, the Church.'


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Shakespeare, Sonnet 73

 
I have always loved Shakespeare and Sonnet 73 was a particular favourite when I studied in school for what was then called the intermediate certificate. Re-reading it now, I do wonder about what it says about his attitude to death and faith ... he seems to have no intimations about life after death in it ... on the other hand, if it is to his 'Dark Lady' perhaps his intentions are to focus her attention on the here and now for his own particular benefit!

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou seest the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Henry Constable, To The Blessed Sacrament



I'm afraid i couldn't find an image of Henry Constable to go along with this poem of his. If you have trouble making sense of the somewhat archaic English, trying reading it aloud & it will be much clearer (I hope!).

To The Blessed Sacrament
WHEN thee (O holy sacrificed Lambe)
In severed sygnes I whyte and liquide see,
As on thy body slayne I thynke on thee,
Which pale by sheddyng of thy bloode became.

And when agayne I doe behold the same
Vayled in whyte to be receav’d of mee,
Thou seemest in thy syndon (shroud) wrapt to bee
Lyke to a corse (corpse), whose monument I am.

Buryed in me, unto my sowle appeare,
Pryson’d in earth, and bannisht from thy syght,
Lyke our forefathers who in lymbo were,
Cleere thou my thoughtes, as thou did’st gyve them light,
And as thou others freed from purgyng fyre
Quenche in my hart the flames of badd desyre.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

St Thomas More, Consider Well

St Thomas More died a martyr's death that he might easily have avoided had he been willing to put his faith beneath the zeitgeist of the times in which he lived. That fact alone, I think, makes his thoughts on death all the more meaningful and indeed powerful.

Consider well that both by night and day
While we busily provide and care
For our disport, our revel and our play,
For pleasant melody and dainty fare,
Death stealeth on full slily; unaware
He lieth at hand and shall us all surprise,
We wot not when nor where nor in what wise.

When fierce temptations threat thy soul with loss
Think on His Passion and the bitter pain,
Think on the mortal anguish of the Cross,
Think on Christ's blood let out at every vein,
Think of His precious heart all rent in twain;
For thy redemption think all this was wrought,
Nor be that lost which He so dearly bought.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Aquinas, Godhead here in hiding


It is always good to remember I think that the angelic doctor was a poet as well as, among many other things, a theologian.


LOST, ALL LOST IN WONDER

Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.

Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God's Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth himself speaks truly or there's nothing true.

On the cross thy godhead made no sign to men,
Here thy very manhood steals from human ken:
Both are my confession, both are my belief,
And I pray the prayer of the dying thief.

I am not like Thomas, wounds I cannot see,
But can plainly call thee Lord and God as he;
Let me to a deeper faith daily nearer move,
Daily make me harder hope and dearer love.

O thou our reminder of Christ crucified,
Living Bread, the life of us for whom he died,
Lend this life to me then: feed and feast my mind,
There be thou the sweetness man was meant to find.

Bring the tender tale true of the Pelican;
Bathe me, Jesu Lord, in what thy bosom ran---
Blood whereof a single drop has power to win
All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.

Jesu, whom I look at shrouded here below,
I beseech thee send me what I thirst for so,
Some day to gaze on thee face to face in light
And be blest for ever with thy glory's sight. Amen.

(translation of Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Bede's death song



I'll be away from a computer for the next few days - I hope! So I've scheduled the blog to post this short series of 'Catholic' verse. The selection is was suggested by an anthology my dear former rector gave me as a parting gift when I moved on from being his curate (I wonder what he was trying to say giving me an anthology of Catholic verse!).


First up is what often referred to as Bede's death song. Some words of wisdom from a saintly man, wiser and more holy than I can ever hope to be, but whom we should all aspire to emulate

Facing that enforced journey, no man can be
More prudent than he has good call to be,
If he consider, before his going hence,
What for his spirit of good hap or of evil
After his day of death shall be determined.

(Colgrave and Mynors, Bede's Ecclesiastical History, pp. 580–3)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Latin Mass

I went to my first Latin Mass not too long ago while I was on a few days holidays (I know, I know - I need to slow down and stop trying to lead life in the fast lane all the time!). Three years of Latin in secondary school, one year in college, and years of picking at Latin texts, both classical and Church over the years left me ... without a clue of what was going on! Even having a Latin English parallel text of the liturgy in front of me was scant help ... the priest kept stopping for long periods of silence ... and when he started again I had a hard time figuring out where he was ... a pity I hadn't seen this excellent document first on the significance of silence in the Latin Mass ... O well, there's always next time!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

What's unreasonable about the lectionary?

May my words be in the Name of the Holy & Undivided Trinity: + Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Amen.

I wonder what would happen if the makers of a TV programme, one of those half-hour sitcoms, decided that instead of releasing a new episode each week, that they would try an experiment: that over the course of a month they would only bring out one episode, and they would play just a bit of it each week … a few minutes … and to make it more interesting, they wouldn't put one of those 'previously on the programme' bits before each fragment that they played … they would simply start where they had left off each week and hope that the audience remembered what had been going on …and to make it even more interesting, they wouldn't let people know that this was what they were planning to do … they would simply start doing it, & hope that the viewers figured out what was happening & not only 'kept up' with the story, but also kept on tuning in to the show!

Do you think they would do their ratings much good? Do you think that their audience would appreciate being treated like that? Somehow I doubt it! I know we live in an era when you can find everything on the internet, whether on you-tube or on the 'player' feature of the TV station … but even so, I don't think folk would appreciate having to wait for the story and being expected to remember what had happened last week without some sort of reminder …

Or what about this … what if I wrote a sermon … a normal length one of around ten minutes … and then decided that I wouldn't preach it all on one Sunday … that I decided instead that I was going to make it last for four weeks … that I would preach a couple of minutes this week, and then maybe three next week, and so on over the course of the month, until I was done, always starting just where I had left off, never giving any kind of clue as to what I had said last week … would you enjoy a preaching technique like that? I mean, after all, I do put my sermons up on my blog each week, so it is not like you couldn't look it up for yourself to get a reminder … or indeed read it for the first time if you had, for some strange reason, not been in church the previous week … unlikely as I know that is!

How likely is it I wonder that you would tell yourselves what a wonderful and innovative preacher your rector is, I wonder, if I were to do that? At best you would scratch your heads, I think, and wonder what on earth I was doing … at worst you would say I was a lazy fellow who was 'skiving off' and and trying to get away with one sermon in a month instead of four!

Now it might seem as if the lectionary has done that to us today with both our Old Testament reading and our Gospel … in the passage from 2nd Samuel, we hear the quite wonderful story of the prophet Nathan confronting King David with his wickedness in murdering Uriah to cover up his adultery with Bathsheba … but of course it was last Sunday that we heard about the adultery and murder … and even though our reading ends with David's repentance, that is not the end of that particular story …

Our Gospel reading is a segment of chapter six of St John's Gospel … we heard the first part of that chapter last week, the feeding of the 5000, and we will hear the rest of it over the course of the next two Sundays … but the chapter itself is very much a unity … going from the miraculous feeding, to Jesus explaining that he is the bread of life and explaining how it is that he is the bread that has come down from heaven … it is a deep and profound explanation of the Eucharist … and it is really not possible to understand one of the four 'slices' that our lectionary has made of it it without knowing all the rest …

And so one might legitimately ask: did the compilers of the lectionary get it wrong? Should they not have broken these passages of scripture up in smaller pieces? Should they, despite their length, have kept them whole and entire as readings for a single Sunday? Have they made the same kind of mistake as the imaginary sitcom makers or lazy rectors I spoke of at when I began?

And the answer to all those four questions is the same and that answer is: No! And the reason that the answer is no is because the situations are not the same … it would be unreasonable for to expect a person to try and keep track of a TV that was strung out over the course of several weeks … and it would be unreasonable to expect someone to keep even a short sermon straight in their head if they were being spoon fed it over the course of a month … but it is not unreasonable to drop someone into the middle of a passage of scripture and know what is happening … because it is not unreasonable to expect a Christian to have a fairly good working knowledge of Scripture!

In fact, there is more than an expectation that a Christian should know their Bible … there is a duty! The first time anyone of us hears a passage of scripture read should not be from the lectern in a Church just before a sermon is preached on it! And this is for the simple reason that the context of any passage of scripture are various … the place where it occurs in the book of the Bible it comes from … the book itself … and the context of all of Scripture … and it would be impossible for any preacher to do all that is necessary to put a passage into its proper context within the confines of a sermon of reasonable length … in fact, it couldn't be done even if the sermon was of a far more than is reasonable length … the preacher comes to the pulpit with the expectation that his congregation has some idea not only of the 'story so far' of the passage but also with a good knowledge of what comes after!

In our Gospel reading today, the people who pursued Jesus ask him: ‘What must we do to perform the works of God?’ and Jesus' answer to them is:‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.' That is our work also … and how can we believe, really truly believe, if we do not make reading the word of God a regular part of our lives? We need to have an intimate knowledge of scripture so that we can do our work in the world as Christians … so intimate that no passage of scripture can ever seem to us to be out of context … hard work no doubt, in this busy world of ours … but work that we must do … and I pray that you, & I, and all Christians will endeavour in this Holy task: in the Name of the + Father, the Son, & the Holy Spirit. Amen. 


Sermon notes 5 August 2012 (9th after Trinity)  

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Abortion & Ireland: the road less traveled.




Breda O'Brien had a long opinion piece in the Irish Times today about the pressure Ireland is under to legalise abortion. If you know who Breda O'Brien is, then no prizes for guessing what side of the debate that she came down on! You can read her article here.

I read the piece online at 12.30am last night. Below is the text of the letter I emailed to the Times 30 minutes later:

I wholeheartedly concur with Breda O'Brien's call that Ireland should take 'the road less traveled' regarding abortion (Opinion, August 4th). The science is clear that what exists in the mother from the moment of conception is a unique human life. Not that we really needed science to tell us that. It is something that we instinctively know. We can only think otherwise if we are 'educated' out of it.

Right now Ireland is almost alone in standing firm to protect these lives. This is something for us to be proud of. That most other countries allow it is irrelevant. When I was a child and wanted to do what all the 'cool kids' were doing my mother would say: 'and if they jumped off a cliff would you want to do that too?' Just because everyone else is doing it is no reason for us to go down the road of dumping our own children off this particular cliff either.

I imagine there will be a lot of letters to the editor on this issue over the next few days. The combox beneath her article is already filling up as I write this. The usual stuff, I suppose. But here's something to make one think. I read an article in the Catholic Herald the other day on the UK's abortion stats. A response to a Parliamentary question into abortion claimed that of the 6.4 million abortions carried out on residents of England and Wales [since it was legalised in 1968], 143 (0.006 per cent) were vital in saving the life or preventing serious permanent harm to the health of the mother. Another 23,778, or 0.37 per cent, were performed under section 1(1)(c), whereby the “continuance of pregnancy would involve the risk to the life of the woman, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated”.

I don't want to see Ireland become part of that kind of abortion bandwagon. And as far as I know, neither do most people in Ireland. But that's what will happen if it is legalised. Because if we as a nation say it is OK to do something like this, people will take us at our word.

Friday, August 3, 2012

white collar violence

The executive director of the Irish Penal Reform Trust argued in the paper the other day that since white collar crime was non-violent, those who commit it shouldn't be sent to prison. But is his premise correct? Does the fact that these people never personally lift a hand to anyone mean that they do not do violence? 


What I mean is this: look at what these gentle criminals have done to Irish society in the last number of years. They have destroyed the economy, resulting in an increase in suicide, higher rates of alcohol abuse and domestic violence, and families torn apart by emigration. 


These are some of the violent results of 'white collar' crime. These people can hurt more people with the stroke of a pen than any thug with a gun. So I would be very slow to accept the argument that the fact that they do not get their hands dirty entitles them to lenience.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Hate Crimes?

The Pussy Riot folk are facing seven years . Folk like Jarvis Cocker say what they did was a legitimate protest. 


What they are charged with is hooliganism, although I'm sure the fact that what they did was also sacrilegious and blasphemous is part of the reason why what they did has caused so much outrage in their own country. And why they have gained so much sympathy in the West. Stuff like that is seen as mostly irrelevant in our secular culture. 


So here's a thought.  What if their 'legitimate protest' had involved elements that could be construed as racist or homophobic? Would they still be sympathetic? I doubt it! It would be called a hate crime. So why because their actions 'only' offends against religion should their behaviour be given a free pass? 


We don't let folk get away with telling sexist or racist jokes any more with the excuse 'I was only joking.' Why should sacrilegious or blasphemous behaviour be excusable as 'only protesting?' It doesn't strike me as consistent. Or is it asking too to ask for such consistency when it comes to matters of religion?


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

lunch time grazing ...

A few bits & pieces as I eat my lunch in front of my computer (is that bad for you, I wonder?) ... 


If ever there was a story about money not being able to bring one happiness, this is it: Heir admits failure to bury wife


Gore Vidal has died. He may have 'lived large' as they say, but he always put a smile on my face & was great at deflating the pompous. May he rest in peace. I always loved his story about the subtext to the hostility between Ben Hur & Massala! 


New word for today: phyletism. Who knew it was a heresy? Must say, I'm glad to hear it!

The prime-minister of Kenya's son has converted to Orthodoxy and gotten married ... it must be love! Does anyone know what it was he converted from?

Patrick Comerford was invited to the to the Moroccan Ambassador’s Residence in Dublin last night for Ramadan Iftar,    the evening meal when Muslims break their fast during Ramadan. I didn't even realise it was Ramadan ... I really must get out more ... still, I am but a rusticated rector ...

Some in the Ordinariate are having thoughts on the issue of Mass in the Extraordinary Form ... should it be a problem? No priest of the Latin Rite is prohibited from saying Mass in Latin, nor do they need permission to do so ... but isn't a large part of idea of the Ordinariate about retaining Anglican Patrimony?

It seems the Chick-fil-a boycott is a bit of a bust ... as a vegetarian living in Ireland I'm hardly likely to eat there, but I'm still glad it didn't take off ... in a society that values democracy and free speech, how can some think it is appropriate to seek the complete annihilation of those who disagree with them?

Secularists consider circumcision, now to be known as 'Male genital mutilation,' a gross breach of baby's bodily integrity. There's a surprise ... just more chipping away religious freedoms ... first they came for the Jews ... 

And finally, they have revised Maslov's hierarchy of needs (half the essays I corrected in college seemed to squeeze Maslov in somewhere). And the 'new man' on top? Parenting! (I wonder if we can expect the new hierarchy to be squeezed into every piece on same-sex marriage for the next few months?)

Have you been reading anything you would care to share?