Thursday, 18 November 2010
Thursday, 11 November 2010
Here’s an advance copy of my periodic update to the parish, which I’m putting up here.
This weekend is a Study Weekend, so I am at the High Leigh Christian Conference Centre in Hertfordshire, As you know, we have the monthly Formation Days, so the two Study Weekends per year are an additional, but essential part of the formation programme. Each Study Weekend has a particular theme and the lectures, discussions, seminars and practice homilies are all geared towards it. Prayer, Eucharistic Adoration, opportunities for silence, personal prayer and Mass are also structured in – as well as time at the bar! This weekend the theme is ‘baptism.’ As part of this we learn how to undertake the baptism of infants, either during Mass or as a separate Rite outside of it. This involves an understanding of how the Rite of Baptism is structured and knowing how to do the practical things, such as blessing the water, using the oils in the right order for anointing, and making sure the water makes contact with the baby, whilst using the correct words. We also have to deliver a three minute practice homily, before the formation team and other students, which could be given during a baptism outside Mass. We get feedback on this from the formation team and our fellow students. The feedback helps us avoid pious waffle, because baptism is the one time that people who would not normally come to church do so, as a relative or a friend, and therefore it is an opportunity to share with them the Good News of Jesus Christ, by sowing a seed that may ripen in the future. We also have to demonstrate that we can use the appropriate books for the Rite of Baptism correctly. To some extent this is all probably of more use to the men in the third year, who will be ordained as deacons in the summer of 2011. Ordination for me (if Archbishop Vincent agrees!) would not be until the summer of 2012, by which time I’ll have probably forgotten everything! However, at least I’ll know which books to look in to remind me!
On a related matter, Fr Roger has agreed that after Christmas I will process in wearing my alb and carrying the Book of the Gospels, and proclaim the first reading and psalm. This will give me the chance to exercise the Ministry of Lector, into which I have previously been instituted, as part of the preparatory route for ordination. At that time, I will also assist Fr Roger with baptisms during Mass, when we have them. This also helps me to prepare for the next ministry that I will be instituted into in the summer of 2011, which is the Ministry of Acolyte. An acolyte is appointed as part of his formation for ordination, in order to aid the deacon and to minister to the priest during Mass. He also distributes communion as a special minister and may be entrusted with exposing the Blessed Sacrament for adoration by the faithful and afterward replacing it in the tabernacle. Understandably there are not many acolytes that one comes across, so their functions tend to be distributed in practice between altar servers and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. Anyway, more about this nearer the time..........I have many essays to write in the meantime!
Wednesday, 3 November 2010
Oh Yay! Oh Yay! We've got preaching practice on Saturday so here is my offering. I haven't fully formatted it.
Here also is a video cut..
Homily 1_ WK 32_Cycle C
A theme in today’s readings is FAITHFULNESS. What do I mean by FAITHFULNESS? It’s living our lives in response to the work of the Holy Spirit in us. So, it’s about reliability.
In the reading from the second book of Maccabees we are presented with the torture and execution of a mother and her seven sons. A ‘case study’ in faithfulness under extreme duress. During their agony they remain faithful to the Law by refusing to taste pig’s flesh. And for this demonstration of FAITHFULNESS are put to death.
When the Holy Father visited the UK his message was to some extent a message to be faithful to the reality of God and to include in public life an acknowledgement of the Divine, and the moral principles of right living and the Common Good that flow from it.
For us as Catholic Christians we are called to be FAITHFUL to the message of Jesus, despite what we may experience in the places where we work, study, take our leisure, that may be contrary to the Law of love proclaimed by Jesus. To be faithful is to be different, to live with its consequences, just like the mother and her seven sons. It is to be counter-cultural, going against the grain of society, by demonstrating the behaviours of a faithful follower of Jesus by being compassionate, forgiving and loving, as commanded by Jesus. Being reliable Christians.
FAITHFULNESS is not something that we can acquire for ourselves. All is grace. All is gift. Freely given from the overflowing love of God. Our task is to respond to the initiative of the Holy Spirit and accept in prayer.
Paul, writing to the Thessalonians, encourages several prayer approaches, so that amongst other things, he and his companions may be preserved from bigoted and evil people.
Over the last few years we have seen the rise of a more aggressive atheism fuelled by the supposedly wise and clever amongst the New Atheism elite. What they have to say, can be disturbing, even to believers, that belief in God is delusional, hence faithfulness in a religious context is also delusional. So, it’s important in developing FAITHFULNESS to pray ,pray, pray, because as Paul says’, “the Lord is faithful and he will give you strength and guard you from the evil one.” Satan is always on the prowl, looking to trip each of us up. Make us unfaithful and unreliable Christians. Prayer is the antidote that he hates.
And the ultimate reward of FAITHFULNESS, this reliability in the exercise of the Christian life, by giving right witness? It is of course, the fullness of Life in the Spirit, when the promise of Resurrection becomes a reality for us, as we have heard in today’s Gospel, “those who are judged worthy of the resurrection from the dead”....the faithful/reliable...those who have responded to that initiative of the Holy Spirit...”are sons and daughters of God.”
We can only be faithful..... because God......has been faithful to us first.