Saturday, 26 December 2009
Tuesday, 22 December 2009
All I gotta say is what St John Chrysostom said,"not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours, but theirs."
Poverty is an abomination in the sight of God.
Read the BBC item, click here
Sunday, 20 December 2009
Yesterday evening myself and the other four men in the formation programme were accepted as Candidates for Holy Orders by Archbishop Vincent Nichols, during the 6pm Mass at Westminster Cathedral. It’s a very simple and moving rite during Mass. I have reproduced the standard homily for such an occasion below, with the text of the rite itself. The words, “to win the world to Christ” leapt out in a very significant way for me when I heard them. Sometimes it is as if some words or events are addressed to us personally – those words certainly were for me. You will see them in context below. I believe this is the challenge The Master is offering. What a challenge and an exciting one at that! I’ve always said that Christianity is an adventure in living! Fame, celebrity, riches and worldly status are all such rubbish in comparison to the call to, “win the world to Christ!” However, in the meantime, I have to make sure I complete my essays and assignments on time and to standard!
Here’s the rite:
After the gospel, the bishop, wearing his miter, sits, and gives the homily, which he concludes with these or similar words:
Dear brethren in Christ, our brothers stand here today in the presence of the Church, recommended to us and to you for admission among the candidates for holy orders.
Christ gave this command: “Ask the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest.” Our brothers know the Lord’s concern for his flock, they see the needs of the Church, and they feel ready to respond generously to the Lord in the words of the prophet: “Here I am, send me forth.” They put their hope in the Lord, trusting that they may answer his call faithfully.
This call from the Lord should be recognized and understood from the daily signs which reveal God’s will to men of discernment. When God chooses men to share in the ordained priesthood of Christ, he moves and helps them by his grace. At the same time, he entrusts us with the task of calling suitable and approved candidates and of consecrating them by a special seal of the Holy Spirit to the ministry of God and of the Church. By the sacrament of holy orders they will be appointed to share in the ministry of salvation that Christ accomplished in the world. When the time comes, they will be given a part in our ministry of service to the Church, and build up by word and sacrament the Christian communities to which they will be sent.
Our brothers here have already begun their preparation so that later they may be called to ordination by the bishop. Day by day they will learn to live the life of the Gospel and deepen their faith, hope, and love. In the practice of these virtues they will gain the spirit of prayer and grow in zeal to win the world to Christ.
Urged on by his love and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, they have come here to declare in public their desire to bind themselves to the service of God and of mankind.
When each one is called by name, he should come forward and declare his intention before the Church assembled here.
CALLING OF THE CANDIDATES
The appointed deacon or priest calls the candidates by name. Each one answers: Present, and goes to the bishop, before whom he makes a sign of reverence.
Then the bishop speaks to the candidates in these words or in others which the conference of bishops may determine:
My sons, the pastors and teachers in charge of your formation, and others who know you, have given a favorable account of you, and we have full confidence in their testimony.
In response to the Lord’s call are you resolved to com¬plete your preparation so that in due time you will be ready to be ordained for the ministry of the Church?
Together the candidates answer:
Are you resolved to prepare yourselves in mind and spirit to give faithful service to Christ the Lord and his body, the Church?
ACCEPTANCE OF THE CANDIDATES
The bishop adds:
The Church receives your declaration with joy. May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfillment.
INVITATION TO PRAYER
Then all stand, and the bishop, without his miter, invites the people to pray:
Brothers and sisters, let us ask our God and Lord to pour out his grace and blessing on these servants of his who desire to give their lives to the ministry of the Church.
The deacon or another qualified minister proposes the fol¬lowing intentions or others adapted to the circumstances. All respond with an appropriate acclamation.
Deacon or minister:
That our brothers may draw closer to Christ and be his witnesses in the world, let us pray to the Lord:
All: Lord, hear our prayer.
Deacon or minister:
That they may share the burdens of others and always listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, let us pray to the Lord:
All: Lord, hear our prayer.
Deacon or minister:
That they may become ministers of the Church who will strengthen the faith of their brothers and sisters by word and example, and gather them together to share in the eucharist, let us pray to the Lord:
All: Lord, hear our prayer.
Closeness to Christ so as to become his witnesses, sharing the struggles with others linked to a listening stance with the Spirit, and be an example for others.
The bishop continues:
Lord, hear our prayers for your sons who wish to dedicate themselves to your service and the service of your people in the sacred ministry.
Bless them + in your fatherly love, that they may persevere in their vocation, and through their loving fidelity to Christ be worthy to carry out the Church’s apostolic mission.
Deepen their sense of purpose as they prepare for the sacred ministry of the Church and fill them with the spirit of your love so that they may be wholehearted in bringing salvation to mankind for the glory of your name.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Friday, 18 December 2009
Monday, 14 December 2009
Uncomfortable News for the Comfortable - Catholic Social Teaching.
Here's the thrust of the presentation I gave at yesterday's Formation Day at Wonersh
Target audience – Parish Pastoral Council
Length of presentation – five minutes
Objective - to create an awareness of the Social Teaching of the Church to ensure its principles
and themes are taken account of in pastoral planning.
Why titled, ‘Uncomfortable News for the Comfortable?’ –Wall St Journal apparently called
Pope Benedict’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate,’ “souped-up Marxism.” See Ashley Beck. ‘More
souped-up Marxism,’ in New Diaconal Review November 2009 p58.
It seems that some of the critics of CST are part of the comfortable hegemony of the ruling
elites, on the side of the power structures of this world, and view the challenging message of the
CST as a threat to their status quo...............uncomfortably so.
1 Objective: to create an awareness of the Social Teaching of the Church to ensure its principles and themes are taken account of in pastoral planning
What is Catholic Social Teaching ?
Why is it important?
What are its underpinning principles?
What are the consequences of Catholic Social Teaching for us?
Where can we find out more?
2 What is Catholic Social Teaching
CST is a collection of Church teaching with roots in the Scriptures, the Fathers of the early
Church (who lived after the apostles had died) and the continuing and living Tradition of the
Church. It focuses on how people are to live their lives in response to the liberating message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, about the right, just and peaceful relationships that should be in place
between all peoples and their inherent dignity as individuals made in the Image of God, GN1:26.
In that respect it is a branch of the moral teaching of the Catholic Church. This in itself is
surprising as many Catholics, and those outside the Church, would equate the ‘moral’ teaching
as related to proscriptions on sexual behaviours, as to what you can’t do and with whom you
can’t! They may not realise that the moral teaching also extends to matters of justice and peace
– hence why it’s often called ,’the Church’s best kept secret.
Some examples of CST are:
Gaudium et Spes (Joy and Hope) – the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern
World,VII, which in its preface talks about the solidarity of the Church with the whole human
family and in its conclusion the world to be built up and brought to its fulfilment in Christ.
Similarly, Lumen Gentium (Light of Humanity) – the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, VII, in para 8 mentions that the Church does all it can to relive the suffering of the poor and in that way serves Christ. Also Populorum Progressio (Development of Peoples) – written by Pope Paul VI in 1967 and with a strong theme about the necessity of the world’s economy serving all and not just the few. In our own day we have Caritas in Veritate, (Love in Truth) Benedict XVI, who
shines the light of the Gospel on the volatile economic and social issues of our time. Common to
all CST is a rejection of the excesses and restrictions placed on human freedom and the
development of the human person by political ideologies of the right or the left. In this sense
CST is not a worked up theory, but a response to the Gospel as it extends into the moral sphere,
implemented through a number of guiding principles.
3 Why is it important?
Matthew’s Gospel can help to answer this question:
'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.“ MT 22:37
The Beatitudes in MT 5 “ Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. MT 25:34-35 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.‘ Para 2401 of the CCC - “The seventh commandment forbids unjustly taking or keeping the goods of one's neighbour and wronging him in any way with respect to his goods. It commands justice and charity in the care of earthly goods
and the fruits of men's labor. For the sake of the common good, it requires respect for the universal destination of goods and respect for the right to private property. Christian life strives to order this world's goods to God and to fraternal charity.” Para 2458 of the CCC - “The Church makes a judgment about economic and social matters when the fundamental rights of the person or the salvation of souls requires it. She is concerned with the temporal common good of men
because they are ordered to the sovereign Good, their ultimate end.” At once a riposte and justification to those who accuse the Church of interfering in the political sphere
And a most frightening quote from St John Chrysostom, which most certainly makes me feel very uncomfortable, “ Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours, but theirs.”
4 What are its underpinning principles?
The underpinning principles of the Church's social teaching are located in the “Compendium of The Social Doctrine of The Church,” composed by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. constitute the very heart of Catholic social teaching.
The principles are
the dignity of the human person,
the common good;
the dignity of the human person,
This the foundational principle – the essential sine qua non, the very basis for morality, in terms of right, peaceful and just relationships.
the common good;
This principle relates to the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily
Probably best summed up in the words of Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno (In the fortieth year) “It is a fundamental principle of social philosophy, fixed and unchangeable, that one should not withdraw from individuals and commit to the community what they can accomplish by their own enterprise and industry.”
This principle relates to the determination to commit oneself to the common good. That is to say to the good of all and of each individual, because of the imperatives of interdependence, where we are all really responsible for all.
5 What are the consequences of CST for us?
The consequences are that we need to understand better what the Church teaches in
this area, so, that we are not found wanting in the application of the Gospel in our
parish, and can provide meaningful pastoral interventions in support of the dignity of all
peoples in our area. This may require some type of audit of our current activities to
ensure that they are better coordinated. Perhaps a good starting point would be a
comparison of our outreach against the four principles?
6 Where can we find out more? Read:
Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraphs 2401 -2457. Overview
Catholic Social Teaching: A Way In (CTS) Stratford Caldecott. Expanded summary.
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Pontifical Council of Justice and
Peace. Authoritative summary.
Friday, 11 December 2009
This Sunday I am at St John’s Seminary for another Formation Sunday and Margaret is with me. We have a lecture on the Liturgy of the Hours. This is the official prayer of the Church that clergy and religious pray throughout the day. As diaconal students there is an expectation that we will be saying this prayer now. It’s a challenge balancing it with study, family life and work, but that’s often the way when starting something new. However, it does give me a sense of being connected to something bigger, and appeals to my ‘sense of duty.’ I’ve asked my spiritual director to hold me accountable in this area. Many lay people also pray the Liturgy of the Hours, as it is a way of building prayer into the day, as well as praying with the Church throughout the world. If I’m not praying, everything else is meaningless. I hope to lead a short session in the early part of 2010 on this type of prayer at our church. More about that nearer the time. We also have a seminar, for which I have had to prepare a presentation, on a topic that’s often called ‘the Church’s best kept secret.’ The topic is ‘Catholic Social Teaching.’ An example is the Holy Father’s last encyclical, ‘Caritas in Veritate.’ A tough but rewarding read. It’s inspired me to call my presentation ‘Catholic Social Teaching, Uncomfortable News for the Comfortable.’ I’ll post it to my blog after I’ve presented it. I recommend a CTS booklet called, ‘Catholic Social Teaching,’ A Way In.’ It only costs £1.95 and would be a good read for the remainder of Advent. Permanent deacons are expected to be experts in this particular area. The Rite of Candidacy for Holy Orders takes place on the evening of Saturday 19th December at Westminster Cathedral. Archbishop Vincent will formally admit me, and the other four men in formation, Nick, Paul, Don and Anthony as Candidates for Holy Orders. This has also entailed a lot more form filling! Margaret has also had to give her written agreement to the Archbishop conferring Candidacy. The last thing the Church wants to do is get on the wrong side of the wives! Have a Happy Gaudete Sunday!