Friday, July 03, 2015

Thursday, July 02, 2015

THAT forthcoming Synod on the Family...

...come and ponder the issues involved...

FAITH Movement evening meeting...this coming Tuesday, July 7th, at 24 Golden Square WI (nearest tube: PICCADILLY CIRCUS), 7.30pm. All welcome. We'll be looking specifically at St John Paul II's teachings on marriage and family.

FREEDOM OF SPEECH...

...and the right speak about great moral truths....a crucial freedom.

The Secretary of State for Education has made some rather frightening comments about views she regards as "extremist".  In this category she seems to place the understanding that homosexual acts are wrong. She sounds rather muddled, so we must assume that she doesn't really know what she is saying.

But what is uncomfortably clear is that she has decided that we all ought to hold the opinion that homosexual behaviour is acceptable. That may be her opinion, but it is not one that we are all obliged to share, and in our country we have a tradition of allowing different points of view on such matters.

From time to time, I publish on this Blog the teaching of the Catholic Church on this delicate and important subject.

If there is ever a time when I am banned from doing so - for example by the internet provider blocking this Blog, or by some officialdom attempting to restrict my writings, then I will know that a cherished freedom, for which my country has been justly famous, has been taken from us.

This is the teaching of the Catholic Church, stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church

1257 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Heat and glare...

...beating down on the city streets. I greatly dislike hot weather, and when people say "What a glorious day!"  I can only answer "Mmmm. It's hot" or talk about something else as in " Mmmm. I'm just on my way to..." whatever.

The grass turns white and grey.  Rooms get stuffy and open windows admit traffic noise and dust rather than cool air. Trains become like ovens. Everyday tasks become less pleasant, but of course still remain to be done. Walking becomes less enjoyable. Small treats like a decision to choose a pleasant route become less possible: the priority has to be on not arriving looking hot and sticky. Heavy luggage becomes a  real burden instead of a bearable nuisance.

The rule is to pretend that none of this matters, so I bought some new sandals and walked with a spring in my step. The sandals broke. I've now got another pair. Apart from writing this blog, I am not allowing myself to whinge about the heat and am pretending that it's all hugely delightful. I've got a delicious cool drink and the roses outside the window are lovely if rather tired. The washing has dried quickly on the line. It's nice chatting to neighbours as people are out and about instead of shut indoors. Lots of people all over the world live with searingly hot weather all the time.

On the recent ghastly decision by the Supreme Court in America...

...this this good read.

Monday, June 29, 2015

In a London heatwave...

...I took a group of Spanish students, led by a young Legionary priest, along the Thames to tell them some of London's history. The river was at low tide revealing sandy beaches, rocks and intriguing bits of old jetty, plus chunks of wood  but little if any rubbish or litter, which was pleasing.  I told them about Henry VII and the victory at Bosworth, and the betrothal of  young Prince Arthur and Catherine of Aragon, and then  Arthur's death and Henry VIII.... They more or less knew the story, of course - and ...er...certainly the bit later on about Philip and the Armada...

We finished at the Tower.  A much-needed drink - on hot days mine is always a shandy - at the pleasant bar/restaurant up alongsiside Tower Bridge. Then I left them and crossed the by bridge - always a satisfying walk across one of the world's best-known landmarks - and once on the Southwark side I abandoned my original plan of heading straight for Waterloo and decided to tackle some of the history in the hinterland. I know the riverside well - London Bridge and the little house where Catherine of Aragon first stayed on arrival in Britain, and The Globe, and Blackfriars, and the replica Golden Hinde, and more - but on Wednesday I am leading another History Walk around The Borough, so needed to look at the connections with the Marshalsea, and Dickens, and  St George the Martyr church, and so on.  The area around Southwark Street and Hopton Street is familiar to me as my late father's office - where his father worked before him  - was in Hopton Street, overlooking the Thames...it was he who introduced me to this corner of London. A sudden sense of his dear presence and happy memories as I walked in the cool evening...

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Wonderful weekend...

...at Buckfast Abbey, studying with other catechists from parishes around Britain at the School of the Annunciation.  Some really good lectures, tackling how to teach the Trinity, emphasising Scripture and the use of the Catechism of the Catholic Church...

A bonus was the glorious sung Mass this morning. There is a really excellent choir, with young singers from across Devon.   Afterwards I met several over coffee and snacks in the South Gate lodge, while the Abbey bells poured glorious peals out across the countryside. We were staying at NorthGate...the the Abbey has a good deal of property and attrracts great numbers of visitors, and the accomodation and meals were extremely good. As we sat at lectures in the modern Conference Centre, tourists arrived to enjoy the Abbey grounds, children scampering across the lawns, and people pottering around the various gardens.

Useful conversations with fellow-catechists...discussing First Communion classes, after-school groups, etc. A major issue is that parents often resist the idea of weekly attendance at Mass: they want their child to have a lovely First Communion day (white dress, pics, all the trimmings), and are happy to send them along to classes on a Saturday afternoon or a weekday evening, but Sunday Mass too often clashes with sports or other "can't miss" activities. They will sometimes express resentment at a priest expecting them to make Sunday Mass a priority for the family.  On the other hand, if they as parents happen to sit in on a First Communion class, they generally enjoy it and exclaim with pleasure "Oh, I didn't know all that! Oh, it's all so interesting..." and often decide to come again to learn more...

Friday, June 26, 2015

A warm June evening...

...and the great tower of Buckfast Abbey,  with the rounded Devon hills all green beyond, set against a wide blue sky with feathered clouds swept gently across it in the evening sunlight.  A delicious fish-pie supper in good company - greeting friends, exchanging news and ideas - and then an excellent first lecture of this weekend Catechetics course, opening wide the mind and heart for good things...

Compline in the Abbey church, and dusk falling as we make our way back across the lawn to our guest house.

Ghastly news from America and a sudden sense of sadness: a great nation failing and falling.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

George Weigel...

...American writer, spoke to The Keys, the Catholic Writers' Guild, yesterday at St Mary Moorfields.  Guild meetings start with Mass, then drinks and chat in the crypt, followed by dinner. George Weigel's talk was excellent -  rich in history, well argued, faith-filled, stimulating. He makes a good case for the current and coming era in the Church to be that of Evangelical Catholicism, a Church on mission, calling men and women to be disciples of Christ: we are not living in times where anyone can soak up Christianity from the surrounding culture or from a family tradition that does not need to offer explicit teaching. It's a vision of the Church offered by St John Paul and, perhaps even more strongly, by Benedict XVI who spoke so powerfully about the grim "dictatorship of relativism" under which we are already starting to labour...and it chimes with Pope Francis' repeated calls to evangelise, teach, and serve...

Cardinal Manning...

...has been the subject of an excellent exhibition in Westminster Cathedral for the past few weeks, organised by the diocesan archivist Fr Nicholas Schofield. The exhibition is now touring some other churches in the diocese. Manning's brilliance shone at Oxford and people spoke of him as a future Prime Minister: instead he took Orders in the Church of England and dedicated his life to the message of the Gospel with great seriousness. The early death of his young wife increased that seriousness, and when he became a Catholic it was with a deep sense of solmen commitment which is revealed in all the subsequent photographs. As an old man he looks gaunt, and there seem to be no pictures of him smiling...but he was not a grim figure and his trach record of service to the London poor, of establishing schools (over 40 of them), of public duty (a leading figure in the campagn to build decent homes to replace hideous slums) is extraordinary.

I went to Westminster catheral to meet Fr Nicholas and helped to take down the exhibition and pack it away for its next destination.  The Cathedral looks particularly impressive at the moment, because this coming weekend marks the feast of St John Southworth, the heroic London priest whose body lies in the Chapel of St George and the English Martyrs. Each year it is brought out to the central aisle and surrounded by candles, and people come to venerate it and to pray. He ministered to the dying poor in the years of the London plague in the 17th century - but it was illegal to be a Catholic priest at that time, and he was arrested and executed.

On Saturday  young men will be ordained to the priesthood in the Cathedral, a new generation...