Thursday, 30 September 2010

A Saint before she was born.

Today is the Eve of the feast of Sainte Terese of Lisieux but it is actually the day of her death at the young age of 24. I have been reading her book L`Histoire d'une Ame (History of a Soul) since making pilgrimage to  her shrine in Normandy in the summer holidays. These photos are the ones I took there. I was overcome by the reality of her beautiful faith. Anyone who goes there and reads her book can not but be profoundly moved by the simplicity of the truths which she extols. The 'little flower',  Sainte Therese of the Child Jesus can show us only purity, goodness and simplicity of the faith. However she was courageous and bold and confidently determined to do what she knew to be right. When she was rejected for profession as a Carmelite nun  she persevered and overcame both her Bishop in Bayeaux and her parish priest appealing to Pope Leo XIII at an audience during a diocesan pilgrimage to Rome.She having kissed his slipper and then instead of his hand too began to speak 'Holy Father in honour of your Jubilee permit me to enter Carmel at the age of fifteen'! The Pontiff was completely transfixed by her assurance that this is what God had called her to. She too was struck there that Leo was truly The Holy Father. She thus fulfilled her vocation and the power of  her prayer continues to enrich and purify the church today.

Govern by all Thy Wisdom, O Lord,
so that my 
soul may always be serving Thee as Thou dost 
and not as I may choose. 
Do not punish me, I beseech Thee, 
by granting that which I wish 
or ask if it offended Thy Love, 
which would always live in me. 
Let me die to myself, 
so that I may love Thee. 
Let me live to Thee, 
Who art in Thyself, 
the True Life.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Ordinariate in Wales

Following the good turn out of Welsh clergy at the sacred synod in London there is some word going around that nothing is going to happen in Wales. There is I suppose a natural inclination to be pessimistic until one actually sees something in place and I understand this. I would however be very surprised if there were not at least some Mass centres and church sharing arrangements( from sympathetic incumbents and dare one hope Bishops too) that could be put in place sooner than later. We should remember that the good Anglo-Catholics of Wales have been orphaned from their Provincial Assistant Bishop for some time. The Church-in-Wales' nationalism gives expression in it's extravagant resources given to two languages irrespective of their use in large swathes of the majority of the country and the maintenance of multiple archdeaconeries, tiny Bishoprics and all the expensive paraphernalia of offices in central Cardiff and the Diocesan offices and their separate managers and property departments, staffing, publications and the like. All these are bleeding the church dry in the face of falling numbers,with a few exceptions, and rising costs. If one was to take a very limited guess and say that traditionalists whether they stay or go were to divert say 15-20% of the existing funds away from the liberal ascendency to the traditional Ordinariate, which like it's Roman Catholic partners will maintain a sensibly joint hierarchy for England/Wales, then one can imagine further crisis management away from mission being necessary as the declines accelerate. This is NOT something to score points over however. We need each other in a new ecumenical situation of two churches in a small country with Christianity itself under attack here as much as anywhere. The relations between RC's and the Church-in -Wales have been more than cordial and I see no reason why this should change. It is time to accept that the traditionalists in Wales have been squarely defeated and we should now accept that. We could have hoped for a more ecumenical treatment from within our own church but WE DID NOT GET IT and nor will we, in spite of some dreamers who are waiting for Bishops to retire for things to change back. Liberals never admit they were wrong and go back. So what is the future for the Ordinariate in Wales which we hope will develop as new Roman Catholics with Anglican roots and shared history and hopefully on good terms with the Anglican Church-in-Wales? At present it is a case of those interested registering with their nearest Ordinariate group which is currently on St. Augustine's side of the Severn estuary. This so as to be kept informed and to prepare for a possible conversion as a group without any obligation to do so. One will eventually be able to support it financially so that it can provide for those of us in Wales. To make contact you can do so by contacting Fr. Paul Spilsbury at the Bristol group here It will I predict be slow to start and soon establish and spread to the South of Wales and outwards. It will never cover all the old parish or even deanery areas but who knows? All is in God's hands and He will want us all, whichever route we take, to remain in fellowship and love with those who have 'won' and those who have been 'defeated' in the purely human and deeply sinful power struggle that we all seem to get caught up in this earthly life. Seeking Unity in Christ surely means continuing to pray for those with whom we disagree and who knows where that may eventually lead them to?!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Forward in Faith Wales

At Credo Cymru ( Forward in Faith Wales) we used to have our annual festival of faith for the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross at Brecon Cathedral. However, since the Provincial Assistant Bishop (equivalent of suffragan PEV) has been refused replacement after retirement 2 years ago by the bench of Welsh Bishops, we now gather at a more independent venue from the cathedra from where we were blessed by the one with the big Mitre or was it a turban, surely not(see ) one of the one's who deny us! Therefore it is a great pleasure to report the successful event this year was moved to St. Mary's Bute St. Cardiff where the marvellous and faithful Fr.Graham Francis SSC and his Assistant priest Fr. Ben Andrews SSC minister so well and who are such an important traditional parish in the anglican Church in Wales here. We had the benefit of Fr. Philip North as preacher and Fr. Alan Rabjohns chairman of FiF Wales was the chief celebrant with thirty or so concelebrants and other priests and deacons and our retired Bishop David supporting in the large congregation. Here are some rather belated souvenir photos(click to enlarge).

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Going up a Dead End

Having received a comment on my last post, I have replied that I think the new proposed 'Society'(it has no saintly patronage as far as I can see) is like choosing a path going up a cul-de-sac (dead end) and seeing the sign before you even enter the road. It has got me thinking. As you can see, I wasn't impressed with this unpublished idea which was dropped on us all when we got to London (all the way from Wales in my case). How many 'Catholic' Societies are there already! The last thing we need is to invent one more now as some ships prepare to go out of port to a brighter destination. This new one will flounder on the rocks because she is certainly not sea-worthy, let alone got a navigator and a Captain with jurisdiction on board! I felt I was being press-ganged; no way! Seriously, I think we should be told whose idea this is and who has promoted it, as it appears to have some backing from Forward in Faith which is a great shame on them (us). WHOSE IDEA IS THIS? From where did it originate? It seems like the worst prepared proposal from a bad and very late PCC meeting which got through because everyone wanted to get home!What a wonderful job this may do of undermining the Ordinariate (I hope not). You don't think this idea could have been fed from the Establishment to 'go on give it a go, we might let you have a bit of a place tee-hee' do you? Yes, I am being cynical and I seriously question the leadership on this. I thought we were trying to support each other on the voyages that will be different for everyone and in the parting of ways, not holing people below the waterline before they've even got going on their respective journeys.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Sacred Synod

Today I travelled up to London from Wales to the sacred synod in Westminster. There were a large number of Welsh clergy there with many hundreds from England. We were told by Dame Mary Tanner that we were still in a period of 'reception' over the issue of women priests and bishops! Cuckoos in the land of the clouds came to my mind. When are people going to accept this massive defeat gracefully and move forward without bitterness or retribution and leave fantasy dreams behind? If you stay you accept what is the reality in the new protestant C of E and Church in Wales or you go; or you stay as many will have to and go later (an honourable position) but the scared rabbit caught in the headlights approach, pretending that we can get something more out of the carnage of defeat looks pretty unseemly to me. Yes, we must accept that some of us are moving in different directions or in the same direction at different speeds but a little clarity of thinking will see that there is no jurisdiction, there is a code of practice and it will not do! Tell my Welsh clergy colleagues without a bishop for two years that we are still in 'reception' over the issues and they won't be very pleased. The majority of English clergy of our tradition can see the huge defeat that is a reality and that the Act of Synod will be revoked and that there will be no provision for them either. Despite a clear rejection by general Synod of a religious Society model with jurisdiction, the last ditch effort from some today appears to be reviving this idea. However, there is no clear thinking or plan or detailed and thought out proposal. Even those who promoted it seemed to admit that it won't work! I felt very sad to see intelligent hard working priests and a couple of Bishops trying to work something out on the hoof. I was not a little annoyed at the leaflets and promotions of this ill thought out and already rejected idea being canvassed. Today Bishops John Broadhurst, Andrew Burnham and Keith Newton declared publicly their clear intentions to join the Orinariate (perhaps the Bishop of Fulham on a slightly different time scale). Those who want to support them and the Holy Father's clear offer of sacramental and ecclesial unity will I'm sure give them great support either now or a little later when they can. If you're not wanted I can't see how you can plan to stay and pretend to go along with the new regime which is not the catholic church in England and Wales any longer. 

Monday, 20 September 2010

Long to Reign over us!

I have like everyone else been glued to the TV and marvelled at the visit of the Holy Father. Against all the earthly odds (but not the Heavenly One's!!) the people of God and those who would know Him, the searching and the curious and those who will become His, turned out in large numbers in Britain and listened to Pope Benedict and what he actually said live, instead of sound bite and editorial bias. We can be thankful for live TV unedited if not for the annoying rolling repetitive script underneath which at times was so unnecessary (surely we ought to be offered a choice to turn that rolling script off?!). Every word of H.H. can now be read again and studied and prayed over and hopefully acted upon ('be doers of The Word and not hearers only'). This was an impressive parish-style mission of excellence but of course Pope Benedict's parish is the whole of Christendom! The measure of success of any parish or other mission is not necessarily to be judged by it's immediate reaction to God's word but over months and years and lifetimes changed for the better. This will surely happen as the measure of the visit, as I said in my earlier post before the visit, will be if we are blessed by the visit or not. Who can deny that we have been richly blessed and that the fruits will be gathered over many years and even lifetimes (both here and in eternity). I still maintain that we should mount a campaign to get proper access to the national shrine of St. Edward the Confessor. Am I alone in feeling that the Dean was 'lording it over 'his ' church a bit? Otherwise The Abbey and especially the choir was magnificent. A very successful turnout by Blessed John Henry Newman's countrymen but then again we're used to having Royalty in our midst in this kingdom and we know how to appreciate those who reign over us temporally and spiritually too!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

The Real Scandal

With the state visit of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI history is in the making somewhat late. Who would have thought it would have taken nearly 500 years, yes FIVE HUNDRED YEARS  for the Pope to be welcomed here with full state honours? I know the arguments of the first Reformation love to be invoked and trawled over but no wonder Christianity itself is under attack in the UK when no offer of welcome has been offered until now all these years later. This is the real scandal, not the  anti Church bandwagon brigade agenda and their continuing persecutions against the successor of a once crucified St.Peter. We pray that the whole of Christianity will unite in support of the supreme leader of Christians to the greater mission of the whole Church of Christ.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Happy Birthday!

Ave Maria! The black Madonna at Chartres in France may be more ancient and has a tonne of candles burning to her each week. Today for my photo and salutations I use the one from my visit to Bayeaux Cathedral following Sunday Mass in August there.  Gold seems more of an appropriate colour for her birthday. May she lead us to the Saviour through her holy intercession for us all who are unworthy sinners.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Papal Visit

The Holy Father's visit is nearly upon us and the details of how to see and support him are available here Although the 'public' events in Glasgow, Birmingham and Hyde Park, London are described as such, you have in fact to be with a Catholic parish on pilgrimage to be there and get the authority and passes necessary. However, as you can see from the links there will be opportunity to support and see Pope Benedict XV1 on the various routes he will travel. One hopes that many, especially those within easy reach, will make the effort to do at least this and resist the easy option of TV. I suspect and believe the visit of His Holiness, despite all the fears and no doubt a few detrimental headlines, will be a great blessing which is surely the measure of 'success'. A blessing for truly open and liberal Anglicans as for everyone else. The visit of the successor of Saint Peter can surely not be 'downgraded' by the disagreements that are a scourge on the 'modern' church at this time? Or tell me if I'm being too optimistic. Of course the true test of faithfulness and genuine receipt of blessing will be how Christians who disagree with each other in the Anglican tradition treat each other after he has returned to the Holy City of Rome from where all our history as Christians (and our future too surely) lies or is that the wrong word to use! How will the Diocesan Bishops of the Church of England lined up in joint Audience with the RC Hierarchy behave after the inks on their special passes to be in His Holiness'  presence have long since dried? Will they show true ecumenical love and generosity in buildings and resources to their sisters and brothers in Christ of their own tradition who leave to seek greater unity under the Dominical imperative 'that they be one'. I will be awaiting with joy the sight of the new shrine to 'Blessed' John Henry Newman at which Pope Benedict will be the first to pray. No doubt there will be greater attention at the other shrine to Saint Edward the Confessor when he goes there with the Archbishop of Canterbury. That shrine which has hurriedly been re-marketed for the occasion having been shamefully sidelined and been so  inaccessible bearing in mind he is the national Saint par excellence and the only medieval shrine to have survived the desecrations of the centuries. My photo is from my own pilgrimage to Rome in 2005 at which the now retired (and now abolished  post of) Provincial Assistant Bishop in Wales,+ David Thomas was presented at Audience. Wales was then blessed indeed! I expect there will be many Christians in the province who will be disappointed that there will be no Papal visit to Cardiff as there was with Pope John-Paul. The country will apparently receive the blessing of Benedict from the throne in Westminster Cathedral addressed specifically to the Welsh perhaps in the Welsh language? Like much of this visit we will have to wait and see! In the meantime Anglican churches ought to be full of prayers for this most worthy and faithful disciple and special man appointed by divine grace Christ's Vicar on earth. Viva Papa! Let the Novena of prayers commence soon!