Friday, March 27, 2015

Cherishing life...

...or do we think we can't and shouldn't?  Was St John Paul right when he warned of a "culture of death"?  Some good reading on this here...

...and here's an idea from Australia that we could easily adopt in Britain...

...read here...

I am aware of some schools that already do this, but not many.So how about it?

Nightfever...

...at St Patrick's, Soho, tomorrow. I thought I might go along and see what it's like. Some info here

Pope Francis...

...on the Feast of the Annunciation, highlighted the importance of St John Paul's Evangelium Vitae, given to the world on this day in 1995. I recently studied this document  anew as part of some academic work, and recognised all over again its foresight, wisdom, and truth. And how he was denounced for it at the time - it was commonplace to sneer at him as a "Polish peasant" who was "trying to impose his morality" on everyone. Today, we can see how things have developed, with a horrible sense of doom hanging over Europe as families disintegrate and the normality of marriage and children gives way to a muddle ofshould-gay-parents-buy-babies-from-surrogate-mothers and similar debates.

The Church is today's great defender of human beings, human dignity, and the common good, in the face of a sense of self-destructiive moral relativism.   Through marriage and family life, human beings have always the hope of renewal and   "The Church as a mother never abandons the family, even when it is disheartened, wounded, and mortified in so many ways: it will always do everything tosee to cure and heal  it, to call it to conversion and to reconcile it to the Lord" (St Peter.s Wednesday)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A splendid academic Mass...

...for the School of the Annunciation, at Buckfast Abbey in Devon.The academic staff,in an impressive array of robes, walked in procession, there was glorious singing, and a good attendance of people from across Britain...and afterwards there was a delicious lunch and lots of lively talk...a most enjoyable day.

Sadly, Archbishop Fisichella from Rome was ill and unable to attend, but his lecture was read by the Rector, and there';ll be a copy on the School's website in due course.

During the afternoon I took along some books for the Library - we've all been invited to make donations. I brought a selection from home, hoping this might relieve the pressure on the groaning bookshelves of the Bogle family...which it has, but only marginally...

The School is flourishing and looks set to play an important role in the Church and in the world of education over the next years. Events in the next months include short courses on Foundations of Philiosophy for Faith, Sacred Art and the New Evangelisation, Media and the New Evangelisation, and Ecclesiastical Latin...and there are Summer Schools on Scripture, Liturgy, and Apologetics, among other topics. Further courses in catechetics start in the Autumn, together with a Diploma course in the New Evangelisation...

Richard III...

...and Auntie was invited to write about him for a Catholic newspaper in the USA...read here...

Monday, March 23, 2015

The new film "Cinderella"...

...and Fr Robert Barron's take on it...well worth reading:  here...

....HISTORY WALKS....

...the next one is Monday April 13th, starts 6.30pm Westminster Cathedral.  All welcome - just turn up, no need to book.


And note the date of the 2015 MARTYRS' WALK: Sunday June 21st, meet 1.30pm for 2pm departure, St Sepulchre's churchyard, near the OLD BAILEY (nearest tube: St Paul's). Come - no need to book. Bring your family, your friends, a group from your parish. We'll be walking the route to Tyburn, and stopping to pray at, among other places, SS Anselm and Cecilia in Holborn, and St Patrick's in Soho.

Encouraging....

....morning at the John Fisher School, Purley. The young chaplain, Fr James Clark, organises guest speakers for the VI form on Mondays. The boys looked smart in their blazers with the golden school emblem, there was a warm and friendly welcome, and it was rather moving to be speaking in the school hall where I have attended receptions following the ordinations of  former pupils.  May there be many more...

Topic was communication, writing, lnguage, truth...told them about smuggling in Christian books, history, social comment, Catholic doctrine, into Eastern Europe under Communism,  about St John Paul's emphasis on truth, about how truth and freedom go together. Talked about today's Britain, need to seek and defend truth.  Find out what the Church teaches, and what is really happening: don't rely on the BBC's version. And how how do we make good use of the internet? The biggest single use is people wasting their lives in porn...

This is a school I have known for over 40 years: there is now a Fawcett Building, named after Fr Fawcett who I remember so well and who taught at the school for so many years...

Chatting in the sunshine with Fr James, we were joined by a number of other priests, who had come to help with hearing confessions (the whole school goes, form by form). They included Fr Ian Vane, at whose church in Sussex I recently took part in a  women's prayer event with a crowd of some 80/90 people on a  midweek afternoon, impressive...

At John Fisher, the sunshine dappled on the lawn by the chapel, , the sky was  clear, boys hurried here and there, a VI-former stopping to chat...everything somehow held promise and hope. Pray for this fine school and its future: it's just marked its 85th anniversary, celebrating a noble heritage.


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Depressing...

....discussion with an academic,  about how history is no longer taught in schools. Having had a number of similar discussions with teenagers and with teachers on the same subject, I find the scene deeply depressing.

The standard secondary school system now teaches chiefly  (1) the Tudors in England  and (2) the rise of the Nazis in Germany, and the Second World War, I started to realise this a few years ago, when a bright teenager told me of her weariness in being made to "do" the Second World War and the Nazis for the fourth time..."I'm so tired of it. I want to find out about the Medieval period. I love history, and I always get good marks - but I'm just so sick of learning about the Nazis again and again and again."  Another said they had been given the opportunity to study Martin Luther King and the American Civil Rights Movement as an extra. "And I thhink we might be doing Margaret Thatchjer and the Miners' Strike".  But that was all.

In primary school children do "themes" such as the Atlantic slave trade, Norman castles,  the Roman empire, the Victorian era and the children in factories, and Suffragettes. Darting about from one era to another across the centuries, with random scrapbook and colouring-in projects.  There is no essential time-line and little attempt to connect anything. No wonder children are confused and bored. I have seen some very attractive work produced by children in schools, and they get them dressing up in Victorian costumes, and imagining what it would have been like to be in a Victorian school, and so on...but they are not given the essential tools for studying history, or much motive for doing so.

In tomorrow's Britain, society will have a very strong Mohammedan input. British history will not be something that is communicated in everyday culture - stories, and  nursery rhymes and jokes and well-known bits of folklore. That sort of culture is being crushed by the overwhelming pressures of the computer/mobile phone/facebook/texting/sexting/soap opera  world where history and family traditions and local community events play no part. Children won't 'absorb' the history and traditions of the country into which they have been born and which in a sense is their heritage...if they are to understand such things, it will have to be through conscious teaching. Will there be teachers willing and able to do it?

At present, teachers tend to emphasise only what is "needed" for exams. "You don't need to look at the section on the 18th century - it's not part of your exam work" etc etc. There is pressure to gain the required number of "passes" for the statistics.

And so we are being robbed of our sense of identity, of belonging, of community.  And then we wonder why the young feel alienated, hurt, and cynical.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

...and from St John Paul:

...on March 25th it will be the anniversary of his magnificent document Evangelium Vitae. There will be a special vigil of prayer in Rome  and we are all invited to pray, too...the threats to the sanctity of human life have grown horribly in recent years, along with the destruction of children's dignity and innocence, and the violation of the truth about marriage:  "sexuality too is depersonalized and exploited: from being the sign, place and language of love, that is, of the gift of self and acceptance of another, in all the other's richness as a person, it increasingly becomes the occasion and instrument for self-assertion and the selfish satisfaction of personal desires and instincts".

Wisdom from Archbishop Charles Chaput...

...well worth reading. Here...

A morning...

...with parents of First Communicants at the parish of Our Lady and St George, Walthamstow. I was invited to speak about the Church and women: it's a subject on which it is important to explain about Mother Church, the women saints and heroines, and  the deep truth at the core of it all - the Bridegroom and His Bride, the nuptial meaning of the Eucharist...and more...

It's actually men who are too often marginalised in the Church, and this is something that needs to be addressed. An understanding of the essential complementarity of men and women is of central importance, and this document is useful in grasping this...as is the material produced at this conference...

Friday, March 20, 2015

Discussion...

...should the Pope have gone to confession in public? Lent last year...see here). Was it showing off? Or trying to give an authentic example to others, to get people to go to confession, to show there is nothing embarrassing about it?

The Pope is popular with the  media, but some people are disturbed by what they see as his displays of false humility.

It certainly got people thinking about confession, didn't it?


...and on the Feast of the Annunciation...

...March 25th, I will be in Devon, celebrating this importrant anniversary...

Theology of the Body...

...and this evening I'll be attending this lecture  in London by Dr peter Kahn. All are welcome.

St John Pauls Theology of the Body offers answers to the muddle, misery and heartache that has permeated through people's lives following the sexual confusion of recent years. It's important to be informed on all of this - and this great Pope offers inspiration, hope and a sense of joy in life too.

Come along this evening: 6.45pm, Vaughan House, Francis St, Westminster - nearest tube VICTORIA.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

On St Joseph's Day...

special greetings to this wonderful parish...

The Mary Garden at this parish recently featured on an EWTN programme tracing London's history along the Thames. The parish priest, and the wonderful family team who created and now maintain the Garden, were interviewed, and it was a delight.

I personally owe a lot to this parish, and whenever I am in the church there is a sense of somehow being at home.