Thursday, 30 April 2009

Parents sue NHS over 'wrongful birth' of disabled son

Here is the story, so far, from the Times online.

I have great compassion with parents who are raising a disabled child in a society which has lost sight of the intrinsic value of human life, whether able-bodied or disabled. I understand many of the difficulties even predjudices, that they face. I know very much about the problems parents face in trying to get an appropriate education for their disabled youngster, the Tribunal Appeals that sometimes have to be made; the untruths that professionals will sometimes utter in order to protect the budget of their organisation against the needs of severely disabled children; the Statementing system which is supposed, by law, to guarantee that the educational needs of disabled children will be met, but often fails to do so, because so many Statements are written with a view to what is available locally, rather than what the child needs.

As parents, my husband and I have, and continue to experience, the sleepless nights when our disabled child or children, are sick, and in danger of choking on their own vomit, either at home or in the hospital.
We have had moments when we didn't know whether our child(ren) would see the light of the next day; when the visit of the priest to offer the Sacrament of the Sick, was so needed and so welcome.
Our society's schitzophrenic attitude to the presence of disabled people, with its laws that apparently protect the disabled after birth, but not before, can exert tremendous pressure on such parents as those in the Times online article. And so, I say again ,I have great compassion for them.

But, I have to question their motives in bringing this case of 'unlawful birth'.

Are they saying that their child's life is worthless?
A waste of time?
Could it be that the hope of some serious money in compensation, is a motive in bringing this case?

I don't know all the answers, but I pity anyone who thinks that disabled people are what we need to be compensated for.
Disabled people are willed into life by God our Father, an essential part of His Creation plan, they are here as of right.

The problem with compensation for 'wrongful birth' is that it will force the NHS to be even more pro-active in pre-birth screening and diagnosis, with a resulting pressure on women to abort a disabled child (and so, avoid expensive court cases over 'wrongful birth').

The tragedy is in not recognising that even the most severely disabled people, are people created in the image and likeness of God, first and foremost.
People who may call us to be more generous, more loving, more compassionate than we might otherwise have been.

If I was Susan Boyle I'd be >*@+)>< about this!



From the Daily Mail online:

Thank goodness ministers are taking the swine flu outbreak so seriously. Or at least some of them are.

Just as Gordon Brown was gravely announcing that two more Britons had been diagnosed with the virus, one government figure, I can disclose, decided that the potential pandemic was a great opportunity for a joke.

In a bizarre attempt at humour, junior minister Sion Simon suggested that unlikely Britain's Got Talent singing sensation Susan Boyle is to blame.


Sian Simon, the Labour MP for Birmingham Erdington posted the following on his Twitter page:

'I'm not saying Susan Boyle caused swine flu. I'm just saying that nobody had swine flu, she sang on TV, people got swine flu.'
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Some MP's have described the remark as 'insensitive' and 'infantile'; bearing in mind that Sian Simon is the vice chair of the Labour Party, I would question whether such a remark bears a relation to Labour thinking with regard to people with disabilities. To refer to a disabled person in this way (even as a 'joke') seems tantamount to encouraging a view of them as little more than harbingers of disease.

Sian Simon has since removed the remark from his Twitter page and posted the following:

'Earlier I repeated a joke that was in poor taste, which I now regret.
'I apologise wholeheartedly for any distress or embarrassment caused.'

Sian, how about: ' I apologise unreservedly for the deeply unpleasant slur that I cast on Susan Boyle' ?

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Youth 2000 retreat at Ealing


Amanda Toone gave a wonderful talk about her
transformation from a 'Sunday Catholic' to a fully committed Catholic.



The Musicians: all volunteering their musical skills and talent



Kaye Smith of Pure Love gave an inspiring talk about
the real meaning of chastity, love, and their place in relationships.

John Pridmore, what a guy!

Last Friday afternoon, six of us and three friends, travelled to St Benedict's School, Ealing, for the Youth 2000 retreat, about which I posted earlier.
The retreats are based on the Forty hours devotion, combining traditional devotion with more modern liturgy and music, contemplative prayer, and catechesis delivered by excellent speakers.The Blessed Sacrament is exposed throughout the whole retreat, apart from the times when Mass is being offered.Confession is available from the beginning to the end.
It is difficult to express verbally the transforming effect that Y2K retreats can have, but I believe the continuing Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, day and night, which follows from every Mass can open the hearts and minds of those present, filling us with His powerful, life-changing Presence.
The importance of the Sacrament of Confession is clearly explained, possibly in a way that many have not understood before, and I would count myself among them; as Fr. John Edwards S.J. has said 'the sins that are confessed will never be remembered by God again, once confessed they are gone forever '.

But their effects can remain: we all can need to be healed from those effects, especially where they have caused us pain, or bad memories that plague us.
One of the most beautiful and moving moments happens during the Healing service, when we are invited to touch the humeral, as the Blessed Sacrament is processed among the faithful to bless and heal them; just as the woman in the Gospel who suffered haemorrhages and believed that if she could just touch the hem of Jesus' garment, she would be healed.
It is an intensely personal encounter with Jesus, the same Jesus who loves us from the beginning, and to the end.

All in all, a wonderful weekend; a chance to leave the world behind and focus on what's really important.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Petition against the advertising of abortion on T.V.

'We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Stop abortion advertising on the television.'

Melanie Jane has started this important petition against the advertising of abortion on television (alongside the crisps, as Archbishop Nichols has observed).

Please sign it, only takes a minute!

A Culture of Vocation at home

From Diocese of Westminster website:Frs Kingsley and Houghton ordained last year.


Fr. Finigan has another thought provoking post, the title of which is :

The importance of a "culture of vocation"

Fr. has some interesting statistics from a survey produced for the US Bishops by the Centre for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University.
  • Almost 45% of Catholic priests planning to be ordained this year, said that they had been discouraged from considering the priesthood
  • of those, nearly 6 in 10 said a parent or family member was the source of the discouragement
  • 51% said a friend or classmate had counselled them against the priesthood, and
  • 15% said a priest or other clergy had
These findings must raise questions for the Bishops in the US, as indeed they are likely to, here in the UK; as Fr. Finigan says ' This does not surprise me and I expect the percentages would be higher in England.'

The word 'vocation' itself is based on the latin word 'vocare' meaning 'to call'. And 'to call' usually involves using words and/or actions. It is a way of communicating a message.
Suitable conditions in which to communicate the message are needed, hence a culture is required.

The Culture of Vocation (to the priesthood , religious life, or marriage) begins at home, in the family. It is within the family that children will learn most about the marriage vocation, and from their own parents. Here parents have the dual responsibility of living out their marriage vows faithfully; not only towards each other, but additionally in the presence of their children, who are learning 'how to live marriage' directly from the words and actions and being of their parents.

A child's first experience of the Church is the domestic church; his parents will lead the child into the presence of God through a regular and frequent prayer life at home. The place of prayer in the home is of the greatest importance: children who witness their parents praying, and pray with them, will see that their parents attach the highest value to spending time with God, and will be encouraged to do the same.
The provision of good quality Catholic books, articles, signs of God's presence e.g. crucifixes/holy pictures, orthodox Catholic media (including blogs!) and the introduction, over time, of the Teachings of the Church, its structure and its hierarchy, supports the child's faith alongside, but not instead of, prayer. The work of priests and religious in the Church, past and present, will naturally be part of this. Its important to use opportunities for children to get to meet and know priests and religious; to use Fr. Finigan's phrase, it helps to 'normalise' the idea of a priestly or religious vocation.
We have found the Youth 2000 Retreats a valuable means of achieving this, in addition to the great catechesis which Y2k provides. And, as Fr. John Edwards said some years ago,
'There must be something very special about a 'Youth Movement' which in post-Christian Britain has in less than ten years produced 35 religious vocations, 12 vocations to lay communities and 15 marriages.'
Above all, a Culture of Vocation needs to be prayed for; that hearts and minds of young people, their families, friends, parishes and priests will be open to God's will.
Pray with us for more labourers to the harvest.

O almighty and eternal God who did send Thy Divine Son into this world to give His life for the souls of men, we beg thee send more labourers to the harvest. Grant us the priceless blessing of good Catholic homes; homes which shall be sanctuaries of prayer, fortresses against evil and nurseries of vocations. May the parents of such homes long and pray for the high honour of offering one or more of their children to Thy service and wherever Thy call comes, may it find a ready and generous response in the hearts of the children of such homes. That like the first disciples, they may gladly leave all things to follow Thy Divine Son our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with Thee forever.
Amen.

One of our sons is seriously considering a vocation to the priesthood: he is a member of Fr. Stephen Langridge's Quo Vadis group and has been blessed to be under the guidance of such a gifted,dynamic and exemplary priest.





Sunday, 19 April 2009

Blogger James Preece in the lions' den!


Three cheers for James Preece of Catholic and Loving it blog, who took part in today's edition of the BBC programme 'the Big Questions'.
The subject of the discussion was:

'Is this Pope a liability?

That sort of title is always a bit of a giveaway, and the slant of the programme was clear from the beginning, with such 'heavies' as Sir Stephen Wall (one time advisor to Cardinal Cormac), agreeing immediately and suggesting that the Pope was accident-prone and careless.
As far as I could tell, there were two people who spoke up for and defended the Holy Father; one was James and the other Peter Jennings, press secretary to Archbishop Nichols.

If you would like to see 'the big questions' , James has the link on his blog.





Divine Mercy Sunday



Our Parish priest has for several years, offered a Holy Hour on this Sunday, for devotion to the Divine Mercy.
Today the Holy Hour preceded the evening Mass, with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament throughout.

Fr. gave a short introduction to St. Faustina, the Polish nun, to whom Christ made known His wish for people to have recourse to His Divine Mercy.




There was a period of silent prayer and adoration interspersed with hymns and a couple of readings from St John and St Luke.

Then we prayed the intercessions from the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and the Holy hour closed with Benediction.


We brought along our picture of the Divine Mercy image, which hangs in the sitting room at home.Fr displayed it on the sanctuary, by the lectern, and afterwards, blessed it for us.

Beautiful, peaceful, quality time with Jesus. A wonderful way to prepare for Mass.
About 24 people attended-slightly up on last year.

Thank you Fr.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

The Whitehouse said 'jump!' , Georgetown said 'how high?'

'IHS 'visible
'IHS' covered up for Mr. President


The U.S. President Barack Obama gave a speech at the Catholic Georgetown University, this week. The White House required that the initials 'IHS', symbolising the name of Jesus, and visible on a pediment on the stage where the President would be speaking, be covered up for the duration of the President's visit, along with other signage and symbols of Georgetown University.
Run by the Jesuits, Georgetown University is among the most prestigious Catholic institutions for higher education in the U.S.

“In coordinating the logistical arrangements for yesterday’s event, Georgetown honored the White House staff’s request to cover all of the Georgetown University signage and symbols behind Gaston Hall stage,” Julie Green Bataille, associate vice president for communications at Georgetown, told CNSNews.com.
The White House wanted a simple backdrop of flags and pipe and drape for the speech, consistent with what they’ve done for other policy speeches,” she added. “Frankly, the pipe and drape wasn’t high enough by itself to fully cover the IHS and cross above the GU seal and it seemed most respectful to have them covered so as not to be seen out of context.”

Is this a kind of metaphor for what can happen when Catholics go after the wrong targets?
Or, to put it another way, when my non-Catholic friend comes to tea, am I to put away my Bible and religious books; am I to hide our statues, crucifixes and rosary beads?
And what kind of friend would want me to?

Thanks to Fr. Z

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

What is going on here?


In an interview with Le Devoir newspaper, Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte of Montreal has said:

"Personally, I am against murder, but can understand that sometimes, when someone is being attacked, they need to kill someone in self-defense. I am against abortion, but I can understand that in certain cases, there is no other choice than to practice it."


Abortion as self defence?

Where's that in the Catechism of the Catholic Church?

Lifesite news has more.

Christians face an increasingly hostile environment


Lifesite news reports changes made in the EU Anti discrimination directive that could force Christian and other religious groups to act against their beliefs and teachings.

"The directive was adopted by the EU Parliament on April 2nd, by 360 votes in favor and 227 votes against and will apply to all organizations offering a service to the public, including hospitals, charities, businesses and prisons, and churches. With the removal of exemptions for "organizations based on religion and belief," Christian groups, including the Church of England and the Catholic Education Service, have expressed concerns that conscience protections traditionally allowed under UK law will be abolished The directive bans discrimination in the offering of goods and services and specifies "sexual orientation" as one of the grounds of outlawed discrimination. Similar legislation passed in Britain under the Tony Blair Labour government result in the closure of several Catholic adoption agencies after the government refused to allow a religious exemption.

In July 2008, the European Commission announced, "The law will prohibit direct and indirect discrimination as well as harassment and victimisation."

Critics have warned, however, that it could result in religious groups facing lawsuits for refusing to perform "marriage" ceremonies for same-sex partners. Christians have also argued that the law could prohibit them from refusing to give Communion or membership to non-Christians. It could also abolish policies in religious schools to give priority in admission to members of their own faith.

A spokesman for the Christian Institute, said, "UK discrimination law is already pretty extreme, as the forced closure of Roman Catholic adoption agencies shows. The Directive would make things even worse by transferring ultimate control of equality law to Brussels, beyond the control of our own Parliament."

Oona Stannard, chief executive of the Catholic Education Service for England and Wales, said that, "It feels as though the European Parliament is antagonistic to faith and fails to see the human rights dimension of faith."

Daniel Hannan, Conservative MEP for South East England, also criticized the directive, saying, "As it stands, this legislation would not only threaten the status of faith schools, hospitals, adoption agencies and the like; it could also force political parties to hire ideological opponents or criminalise single sex institutions."

The Daily Telegraph editorialized on Saturday, "What is being attempted, under the guise of eliminating discrimination, is discrimination against Christians." Under the new concept of European "anti-discrimination" theories, which are contrary to British legal traditions, "legislation has closed Catholic adoption agencies, while a politically correct reign of terror is afflicting our workplaces." Christians face an "increasingly hostile environment" in Britain, said the paper."


How long before they come after Christian families and individuals who wish to practice, and bring up their children to practice their faith?
How long before children will be invited or required to report their Christian parents to the authorities?
How long before bringing up children as Christians will be viewed as synonymous with child abuse?


Some devils can only be driven out by prayer, fasting and penance: today might be a good time to start.


Tuesday, 14 April 2009

An Appeal from Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute


BARACK OBAMA IS THE MOST PRO-ABORTION PRESIDENT IN US HISTORY�

�ALREADY HE IS HAVING A MAJOR IMPACT AT THE UN�

�PLEASE HELP THE FRIDAY FAX TO FIGHT BACK�


April 14, 2009

Dear Friday Fax Reader:

Barack Hussein Obama is the most pro-abortion president in US history. In only a few months he has:

  • Restored US funding for the UN Population Fund, the UN�s population control agency that helped set up and run the Chinese forced abortion program.
  • Overturned the US ban on funding International Planned Parenthood Federation and the Center for Reproductive Rights, aggressive pro-abortion and anti-family groups that are deeply involved in forcing abortion on unwilling people all over the world, especially in Latin America.
  • Obama�s negotiators at the UN have already made aggressive pro-abortion and anti-family statements at the UN including signing a French declaration that seeks to make homosexuals a specially protected class at the expense of religious freedom.

Obama�s administration is gearing up to make a frightening new global attack on the unborn child.

The Friday Fax staff was there just two weeks ago when the Obama administration made its UN debut by supporting language that has been used by UN agencies, UN committees, radical lawyer and judges to impose abortion on reluctant countries.

Friday Fax staff watched in horror as the previous pro-life positions of the US were overturned in an instant by radical feminists representing the new Obama administration.

The US will now join the UN bureaucracy, Canada and the European Union as the most aggressive promoters of abortion all over the world.

This new pro-abortion coalition will actively seek to impose abortion on all the countries of Latin America, Africa, the Far East and even on the few remaining pro-life countries in Europe.

What stands in their way?

A tiny few countries willing to risk everything to defend the unborn child.

Along with them stands a handful of groups and individuals from around the world who go to huge expense to attend UN meetings.

STANDING AT THE CENTER OF PRO-LIFE RESISTANCE AT THE UN IS THE FRIDAY FAX AND C-FAM!

The Friday Fax is the only weekly source of pro-life and pro-family news coming out of UN headquarters in New York City.

The Friday Fax now has a global subscriber list of 200,000 and a global readership of half a million.

The Friday Fax has created a global village of pro-life and pro-family activists who can be called upon at any time to put pressure on the UN or on governments who want to impose abortion on unwilling people.

FRIDAY FAX SUCCESSES

  • Just last fall, the Friday Fax gathered the names of 500,000 individuals from around the world to endorse our UN Petition for the Unborn Child and the Family. These 500,000 names were presented to select governments and to a UN press conference that was broadcast all over the UN building.
  • When the Holy See was under attack by radical pro-abortion groups the Friday Fax gather the endorsement of more than 4,000 groups from all over the world who were willing to stand with the Holy See. These included the largest Protestant and Muslim groups in the world.
  • The Friday Fax regularly breaks news stories at the UN and our work is picked up by friendly and even unfriendly media from all over the world.

I could go on and on and in the coming weeks of this fundraising campaign I will tell you stories about our readers:

�about the UN staff member in Afghanistan who reads the Friday Fax in his hut and sends us donations�

�about the UN staff member who reaches out to us because she feels under attack in the building for her beliefs�

�about the fact that the Friday Fax is read all over the UN system by our enemies who want to know what we are saying�

In the mean time I need your help. The Friday Fax is not free! Sure, you get it for free but it is very expensive to produce, especially now that we have gone to two stories per week.

The Friday Fax now costs $177,000 per year to produce. This includes salaries, rent, expenses, printing of the hardcopy edition, and exploding email expenses.

I need to raise $70,000 over the next six weeks to help partially defray some of these expenses.

Can you help? Can you help us fight back against UN radicals and their efforts to impose abortion on unwilling peoples all over the world?

I know these are tough economic times but it is precisely in times like these that our enemies make the most progress. While most folks are focusing on the economy, they use our inattention to advance abortion.

More than anything I seek your prayers. This is a battle of powers and principalities. But I also need your financial support.

Can you afford to make a sacrificial gift of $1000 to help the Friday Fax? How about $500? I understand these are big numbers so perhaps you can help out with $100 or even $50!

There are many ways to give to the Friday Fax. You can mail us check, donate by credit card using our totally secure server connected right to a bank or by wire transfer.

YOU MAY GIVE FROM ANY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD!

Click HERE to donate or to get instructions on how to donate!

Do not hesitate. The enemy grows stronger every day. They are not waiting. They intend to do everything they can to impose abortion on the world and with Barack Obama in the White House, they have a very powerful new ally.

Please act now. Click HERE and give as much as you can.

Yours sincerely,

Austin Ruse
President


PS In next week�s appeal I will tell you how the UN Population Fund intends to block pro-lifers from attending an important and dangerous new UN conference.

PSS Please help us fight back. Go H

Monday, 13 April 2009

2nd International Symposium: Theology of the Body

Full details here,


"This Symposium on the Theology of the Body aims at exploring ever deeper the goodness, truth and beauty of the Divine plan for human love. We wish this event to be an opportunity for a deepening of personal faith and self-understanding that will inspire greater participation in the New Evangelisation. Further, the Symposium will facilitate the bringing together of people from many countries and cultures to discuss the Theology of the Body. It is our hope that this encounter will foster and develop prosperous networks to assist participants with their own evangelisation initiatives.

For this undertaking we ask for the intercession of Saints Joseph and Patrick. We offer it as a prayer of thanksgiving for the life of Pope John Paul II. In all things we entrust ourselves to Our Lady the Immaculate Conception, "Totus Tuus".


'Come down to United Kingdom to pick up your cheque'!

I found this in my inbox today-rather late for an April Fool joke, don't you think!


Hewlett Packard Company,
Customer Service Department,
26 Lower Mall, Hammersmith,
London W6 9DJ
United Kingdom,

Reference No: HPC/L/W-1221908.
Batch No: HPC/L-653-2009
Winning No: HPC/L/W- 1221908/07


Good day Sir/Madam,

Lottery notification

This is to inform you that you are winner from the just concluded Hawlett Packard (HP) Company lottery in way of saying thank you for your patronage and in promotion of our hardware and software product.

Kindly note that this lottery is approved by the British Lottery Board BLDA, any mail without this approval code (BLDP) Meaning British lottery board approved.

No ticket were sold but it was done my a randomly selected email database from all email service providers and with the help of Microsoft incorporated, to this you have been declared a winner of 2,000,000.00 GBP (Two Million Great British Pounds sterling) and One HP Pavilion laptop from the just announce result with Reference No: HPC/L/W-1221908.and Batch No: HPC/L-653-2009.

You are to fill the verification form below and forward to your claim processor for proper entirely into the British lottery book of the year and for accurate delivery of prize to you. you can call him if need be.
On behalf of the entire staff of HP company we say congratulations.

VERIFICATION FORM

{1} Your Full Names:...............
{2} Contact Address:................
{3} Telephone Number:...........................
{4} Fax numbers(optional):...............
(5} Nationality/Country:...............
{6} Date of Birth:.........................................
{7} Age/Sex:............................
8} Occupation:............................................................
{9} Scan a copy of your international passport and your personal photograph.
How would you want to get your prize? ................

{A} Come down to United Kingdom to pick up your Cheque & 1 hp Pavilion
laptops.

{B} Courier delivery of your winning cheque and 1 hp Pavilion laptops to your
doorsteps.

(3) Bank transfer to your desired account any where in the world.

****************************************************************
CONTACT:
Hewlett Packard Promotion Processing Department,
Mr. Rick Bowen
Tel : +447045756005
Phone: +447045743006
Email: hplcrickbowen@live.com

*******************************************************************
Note that your reference number and batch no and all other details concerning this lottery should not be disclosed until prize is delivered, this is to avoid double claim and delivery of prize to the wrong person.

Once a again I say congratulation,
Yours truly,

Mr. Philip Omar
Public relations officer.
Hewlett Packard computer company

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Christ is risen

Christ is risen, Alleluia!

A Happy and Holy Easter to you.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Archbishop Vincent Nicholls: I'll take my guide from Pope Benedict


Archbishop Vincent Nicholls gave an interview to BBC Radio 4 this morning in which he encouraged Catholics to be involved in the consultation about advertising contraceptives/abortion on television.
He handled the interview with customary deftness refusing to be sidetracked. One of the best comments from the Archbishop came at the end; when asked about Tony Blair's view expressed recently, that the Church should modernise its teaching, the Archbishop replied:

'Well you know, Mr. Blair is a very fine politician and has got very well tuned political senses, but, I'm afraid, the way the Catholic Church thinks is very different to that, and I'll take my guide from Pope Benedict, actually.'

Good Friday


Some thoughts for Good Friday, taken from " God Is Near Us", written by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now, The Holy Father.

"He who is the Son of God, he who is man gives himself to the Father in dying and thus shows himself to be the one who brings us all into the Father. He now institutes true blood brotherhood, a communion of God and man; he opens the door that we could not open for ourselves.

On the Cross, Christ saw love through to the end.
Jesus died praying, and in the abyss of death He upheld the First Commandment and held on to the presence of God."

Did Jesus fail? Well he certainly was not successful in the same sense as Caesar or Alexander the Great. From the worldly point of view, he did fail in the first instance: he died almost abandoned; he was condemned on account of his preaching. The response to his message was not the great Yes of his people, but the Cross. From such an end as that, we should conclude that Success is definitely not one of the names of God and that it is not Christian to have an eye to outward success or numbers. God's paths are other than that: his success comes about through the Cross and is always found under that sign. The true witnesses to his authenticity, down through the centuries, are those who have accepted this sign as their emblem.

So let us be ready to hear the call of Jesus Christ; he who, as the grain of wheat that died,has become fruitful down thruogh all the centuries; the Tree of Life, in whom even today men may put their hope."

Thursday, 9 April 2009

The Holy Father's sermon at the Chrism Mass in Rome

Picture from New Liturgical Movement


The English translation of the Holy Father's sermon, courtesy of New Liturgical Movement.This wonderful sermon could be one to reflect upon, especially in preparation for the forthcoming 'Year for Priests'.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the Upper Room, on the eve of his Passion, the Lord prayed for his disciples gathered about him. At the same time he looked ahead to the community of disciples of all centuries, “those who believe in me through their word” (Jn 17:20). In his prayer for the disciples of all time, he saw us too, and he prayed for us. Let us listen to what he asks for the Twelve and for us gathered here: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, so that they also may be consecrated in truth” (17:17ff.). The Lord asks for our sanctification, sanctification in truth. And he sends us forth to carry on his own mission. But in this prayer there is one word which draws our attention, and appears difficult to understand. Jesus says: “For their sake I consecrate myself”. What does this mean? Is Jesus not himself “the Holy One of God”, as Peter acknowledged at that decisive moment in Capharnaum (cf. Jn 6:69)? How can he now consecrate – sanctify – himself?

To understand this, we need first to clarify what the Bible means by the words “holy” and “consecrate – sanctify”. “Holy” – this word describes above all God’s own nature, his completely unique, divine, way of being, one which is his alone. He alone is the true and authentic Holy One, in the original sense of the word. All other holiness derives from him, is a participation in his way of being. He is purest Light, Truth and untainted Good. To consecrate something or someone means, therefore, to give that thing or person to God as his property, to take it out of the context of what is ours and to insert it in his milieu, so that it no longer belongs to our affairs, but is totally of God. Consecration is thus a taking away from the world and a giving over to the living God. The thing or person no longer belongs to us, or even to itself, but is immersed in God. Such a giving up of something in order to give it over to God, we also call a sacrifice: this thing will no longer be my property, but his property. In the Old Testament, the giving over of a person to God, his “sanctification”, is identified with priestly ordination, and this also defines the essence of the priesthood: it is a transfer of ownership, a being taken out of the world and given to God. We can now see the two directions which belong to the process of sanctification-consecration. It is a departure from the milieux of worldly life – a “being set apart” for God. But for this very reason it is not a segregation. Rather, being given over to God means being charged to represent others. The priest is removed from worldly bonds and given over to God, and precisely in this way, starting with God, he is available for others, for everyone. When Jesus says: “I consecrate myself”, he makes himself both priest and victim. Bultmann was right to translate the phrase: “I consecrate myself” by “I sacrifice myself”. Do we now see what happens when Jesus says: “I consecrate myself for them”? This is the priestly act by which Jesus – the Man Jesus, who is one with the Son of God – gives himself over to the Father for us. It is the expression of the fact that he is both priest and victim. I consecrate myself – I sacrifice myself: this unfathomable word, which gives us a glimpse deep into the heart of Jesus Christ, should be the object of constantly renewed reflection. It contains the whole mystery of our redemption. It also contains the origins of the priesthood in the Church.

Only now can we fully understand the prayer which the Lord offered the Father for his disciples – for us. “Sanctify them in the truth”: this is the inclusion of the Apostles in the priesthood of Jesus Christ, the institution of his new priesthood for the community of the faithful of all times. “Sanctify them in truth”: this is the true prayer of consecration for the Apostles. The Lord prays that God himself draw them towards him, into his holiness. He prays that God take them away from themselves to make them his own property, so that, starting from him, they can carry out the priestly ministry for the world. This prayer of Jesus appears twice in slightly different forms. Both times we need to listen very carefully, in order to understand, even dimly the sublime reality that is about to be accomplished. “Sanctify them in the truth”. Jesus adds: “Your word is truth”. The disciples are thus drawn deep within God by being immersed in the word of God. The word of God is, so to speak, the bath which purifies them, the creative power which transforms them into God’s own being. So then, how do things stand in our own lives? Are we truly pervaded by the word of God? Is that word truly the nourishment we live by, even more than bread and the things of this world? Do we really know that word? Do we love it? Are we deeply engaged with this word to the point that it really leaves a mark on our lives and shapes our thinking? Or is it rather the case that our thinking is constantly being shaped by all the things that others say and do? Aren’t prevailing opinions the criterion by which we all too often measure ourselves? Do we not perhaps remain, when all is said and done, mired in the superficiality in which people today are generally caught up? Do we allow ourselves truly to be deeply purified by the word of God? Friedrich Nietzsche scoffed at humility and obedience as the virtues of slaves, a source of repression. He replaced them with pride and man’s absolute freedom. Of course there exist caricatures of a misguided humility and a mistaken submissiveness, which we do not want to imitate. But there also exists a destructive pride and a presumption which tear every community apart and result in violence. Can we learn from Christ the correct humility which corresponds to the truth of our being, and the obedience which submits to truth, to the will of God? “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth”: this word of inclusion in the priesthood lights up our lives and calls us to become ever anew disciples of that truth which is revealed in the word of God.

I believe that we can advance another step in the interpretation of these words. Did not Christ say of himself: “I am the truth” (cf. Jn 14:6)? Is he not himself the living Word of God, to which every other word refers? Sanctify them in the truth – this means, then, in the deepest sense: make them one with me, Christ. Bind them to me. Draw them into me. Indeed, when all is said and done, there is only one priest of the New Covenant, Jesus Christ himself. Consequently, the priesthood of the disciples can only be a participation in the priesthood of Jesus. Our being priests is simply a new way of being united to Christ. In its substance, it has been bestowed on us for ever in the sacrament. But this new seal imprinted upon our being can become for us a condemnation, if our lives do not develop by entering into the truth of the Sacrament. The promises we renew today state in this regard that our will must be directed along this path: “Domino Iesu arctius coniungi et conformari, vobismetipsis abrenuntiantes”. Being united to Christ calls for renunciation. It means not wanting to impose our own way and our own will, not desiring to become someone else, but abandoning ourselves to him, however and wherever he wants to use us. As Saint Paul said: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). In the words “I do”, spoken at our priestly ordination, we made this fundamental renunciation of our desire to be independent, “self-made”. But day by day this great “yes” has to be lived out in the many little “yeses” and small sacrifices. This “yes” made up of tiny steps which together make up the great “yes”, can be lived out without bitterness and self-pity only if Christ is truly the center of our lives. If we enter into true closeness to him. Then indeed we experience, amid sacrifices which can at first be painful, the growing joy of friendship with him, and all the small and sometimes great signs of his love, which he is constantly showing us. “The one who loses himself, finds himself”. When we dare to lose ourselves for the Lord, we come to experience the truth of these words.

To be immersed in the Truth, in Christ – part of this process is prayer, in which we exercise our friendship with him and we come to know him: his way of being, of thinking, of acting. Praying is a journey in personal communion with Christ, setting before him our daily life, our successes and failures, our struggles and our joys – in a word, it is to stand in front of him. But if this is not to become a form of self-contemplation, it is important that we constantly learn to pray by praying with the Church. Celebrating the Eucharist means praying. We celebrate the Eucharist rightly if with our thoughts and our being we enter into the words which the Church sets before us. There we find the prayer of all generations, which accompany us along the way towards the Lord. As priests, in the Eucharistic celebration we are those who by their prayer blaze a trail for the prayer of today’s Christians. If we are inwardly united to the words of prayer, if we let ourselves be guided and transformed by them, then the faithful will also enter into those words. And then all of us will become truly “one body, one spirit” in Christ.

To be immersed in God’s truth and thus in his holiness – for us this also means to acknowledge that the truth makes demands, to stand up, in matters great and small, to the lie which in so many different ways is present in the world; accepting the struggles associated with the truth, because its inmost joy is present within us. Nor, when we talk about being sanctified in the truth, should we forget that in Jesus Christ truth and love are one. Being immersed in him means being immersed in his goodness, in true love. True love does not come cheap, it can also prove quite costly. It resists evil in order to bring men true good. If we become one with Christ, we learn to recognize him precisely in the suffering, in the poor, in the little ones of this world; then we become people who serve, who recognize our brothers and sisters in him, and in them, we encounter him.

“Sanctify them in truth” – this is the first part of what Jesus says. But then he adds: “I consecrate myself, so that they also may be consecrated in truth” – that is, truly consecrated (Jn 17:19). I think that this second part has a special meaning of its own. In the world’s religions there are many different ritual means of “sanctification”, of the consecration of a human person. Yet all these rites can remain something merely formal. Christ asks for his disciples the true sanctification which transforms their being, their very selves; he asks that it not remain a ritual formality, but that it make them truly the “property” of the God of holiness. We could even say that Christ prayed on behalf of us for that sacrament which touches us in the depths of our being. But he also prayed that this interior transformation might be translated day by day in our lives; that in our everyday routine and our concrete daily lives we might be truly pervaded by the light of God.

On the eve of my priestly ordination, fifty-eight years ago, I opened the Sacred Scripture, because I wanted to receive once more a word from the Lord for that day and for my future journey as a priest. My gaze fell on this passage: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth”. Then I realized: the Lord is speaking about me, and he is speaking to me. This very same thing will be accomplished tomorrow in me. When all is said and done, we are not consecrated by rites, even though rites are necessary. The bath in which the Lord immerses us is himself – the Truth in person. Priestly ordination means: being immersed in him, immersed in the Truth. I belong in a new way to him and thus to others, “that his Kingdom may come”. Dear friends, in this hour of the renewal of promises, we want to pray to the Lord to make us men of truth, men of love, men of God. Let us implore him to draw us ever anew into himself, so that we may become truly priests of the New Covenant. Amen.



Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Yes for Benedict!

John Smeaton has details of a declaration of support for The Holy Father's pro-life/pro-family stance, which will be delivered to the Vatican in due course.
The statement reads:

We, the undersigned, declare our full solidarity with the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI and his teachings.

We strongly object to the irresponsible attacks in the media on the person of the Holy Father in the context of his pilgrimage to Africa. His words of truth have become a pretext for further attempts to undermine the teachings of the Catholic Church, and especially the Encyclical “Humanae Vitae”.

We wish to express our great gratitude to the Holy Father for his uncompromising proclamation of the Truth, which the modern world needs so much.

Please consider signing the declaration, and supporting the Holy Father in your prayers.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Archbishop Nicholls will succeed Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor

Damian Thompson has the news of a formal press conference at Archbishop's house, Westminster, 11am today, to announce Archbishop Nicholls as the new Archbishop of Westminster.

"Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of Thy faithful and kindle in them the fire of Thy love. Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created and Thou shall renew the face of the earth."

Congratulations and prayers to the new Archbishop.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Anniversaries



Today marks the fourth anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II, who gloriously reigned for a large part of my adult life.
The Holy Father, Pope Benedict (then Cardinal Ratzinger), speaking at the Funeral Mass for Pope John Paul II said of him:

"Rise, let us be on our way! With these words he roused us from a lethargic faith, from the sleep of the disciples of both yesterday and today.
Rise, let us be on our way, he continues to say to us even today. The Holy Father was a priest to the last,for he offered his life to God for his flock and for the entire human family, in a daily self oblation for the service of the Church, especially amid the sufferings of his final months."

May the late Pope John Paul, united to Christ our Saviour, continue to rouse us from lethargy to fervent, humble and devout faith.

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Today also, is the anniversary of our wedding. In the 23 years since we married, our anniversary has usually fallen during the season of Lent, often in Holy Week, sometimes during the Triduum. So, often we have not been able to celebrate our anniversary on its actual day....



.....but tonight we are set to dine out!

A Visitor from the Vatican!

At home in my Fathers house
Recent Visitors by Location
DetailCountryLocation
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United Kingdom
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United KingdomHigh Wycombe, Buckinghamshire
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Holy See (Vatican City State)
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IrelandDublin
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United Kingdom
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United KingdomPrescot, Lancashire
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United KingdomLondon, London, City of
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Unknown
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United Kingdom
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United KingdomLiverpool
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PortugalCoimbra
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United KingdomLoughborough, Leicestershire
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United Kingdom
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United Kingdom
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United KingdomBristol, Bristol, City of
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Unknown
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United Kingdom

Yesterday's post generated many more visits than usual, including one from the Holy See!
Thanks for visiting, everyone, I didn't think my attempt at humour would be so popular!

Whoops! the sitemeter page hasn't come out quite as expected and I don't know how to change it....oh well...

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Westminster: habemus Archiepiscopum!

Bishop Luigi Speranza, of the lesser known southern Italian diocese, da Nessuna parte in Sicilia, has been named as the next Archbishop of Westminster, following the imminent retirement of Cardinal Cormac Murphy O' Connor.
Bearing a striking resemblance to Bishop Arthur Roche of the Diocese of Leeds, Bishop Speranza, 59, is said to be both humbled and delighted to step up to Westminster, and hopes for an early meeting with his English and Welsh brother Bishops.
Speaking of his new mission, Bishop Speranza said:
"Avro il Vescorodella Converenza di Inghilterra e Galles alimentari tradizionali spaghetti dalla mia parte, in dodici mese."

Responses to today's announcement have included this (from a Bishop who did not want to be named):

" I welcome this announcement on behalf of all in my diocese, and look forward meeting Bishop Speranza and to sampling the new Traditional Spaghetti in due course. Any decisions regarding Traditional Spaghetti will need to be ratified by the Bishops' Conference, and agreed by the National Committee for Liturgical Nutrition.
Then, the process would involve some input from the steering group of the National Committee for Nutritional Inclusion, as it's always important with new initiatives, to get everyone on board and make them feel welcome.I think Bishop Speranza's timescale may prove rather ambitious, but he can rely on us to give the new Traditional Spaghetti our fullest consideration."