Monday, 3 December 2007


Advent. Okay, everybody knows it is a season that is sidelined in the polular consciousness. We get homily after homily about its meaning being lost in the frenzied, commercial run-up to Christmas. But what is the meaning of Advent? Most Catholics (including myself until recently) see it vaguely as a time of preparation and restraint, awaiting the Birth of Christ our Saviour at Christmas. Fr. Tim Finigan calls it an extended penitential season, though according to our liturgy classes it is not as charcteristically penitential as Advent - we still have the Alleluia in Advent, for example.

But more than that, Advent is a season that looks both backwards and forwards; backwards to the First Coming of Christ, and forwards to His Second Coming. That is why the Mass readings of the first few weeks of Advent reflect on Jesus as Judge: 'He will wield authority over the nations and adjudicate between many peoples.' The Gospels are not the infancy narratives of Matthew and Luke, but the accounts from Jesus about the end times: 'you too must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.' Coupled with this are the miraculous works of mercy Jesus performs, healing the lame and crippled, feeding the hungry, giving sight to the blind. On the Last Day Jesus will come as merciful judge, healing those who sought his forgiveness and acknowledged his lordship in their own lives, and standing as the Eternal Truth before all those who sought to evade the truth while they lived. This might sound scary, but it is meant to help us recall our duty to love and serve the Lord as he asks of us, and to help us reflect how we are fulfilling that duty at this moment in time: 'stand ready.'

I haven't had a chance to read Pope Benedict's new encyclical yet, but glancing through it he seems to emphasise that we will never get by on mere fear: 'Hiding through a spirit of fear leads to "destruction"' (Spes Salvi, 9). Rather, what keeps us going is hope, of whom 'God is the foundation' (SS, 31). In this season we are called particularly to hope for our fulfilment in God when we come before Him, the One who is the justification of all our daily trials. In looking forward to the end times, we are better able to appreciate the Incarnation as the salvific event in which our hope was given shape: when all seemed lost, God became man to bring man back to God.

I've written more than I set out to, but I wanted to instil something of the new appreciation I have found in Advent, as a season that prepares for the past through a remembrance of the future! May our Advents be abundantly blessed.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

SORRY, numerous people have told me they can't play the video that was posted as part of the last entry about the Holy Souls. I'm really not technologically savvy enough to know how to fix so I can but point you in the direction of the Love To Be Catholic website which has a selection of entertaining videos about the Faith which includes the one by Fr Groeschel that I tried to include in the post. Sorry again. :-(

Friday, 16 November 2007

November - month of the Holy Souls - requiescant in pace

During this month of November it is customary for Catholics to increase their prayers for the souls of those who have died but who are still undergoing purification in purgatory.

It is a very sad thing that prayers for the Holy Souls have become far less common these days (perhaps even because of a loss of belief in purgatory at all!) I say it is very sad because these poor souls need our prayers and are so grateful for them, St John Vianney spoke of how blessed we are in praying for the souls in purgatory because when they reach heaven they will pray for us in return!

Let us never forget the Holy Souls then, and especially not during the month of November - when we ourselves pass from this world and are unready to stand before the face of Love itself we too will be eternally grateful for the prayers of the Church on earth which help us on the last leg of our journey to God.

For a more eloquent account of what purgatory is all about why not watch this video from the great Fr Benedict Groeschel

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen

Saturday, 3 November 2007


Last wednesday Michael, Luke and I met up in Bury St. Edmunds (I being on my half-term and they being on placement not far away) to give a vocations talk to the parish confirmation group. Though there are only seven confimandees, they had been promised a prize for the one who brought the most friends with them! Needless to say, there were fifteen or so teenagers there. We watched the film 'Fishers of Men', and after that each of us gave a brief talk about what had attracted us to the priesthood and how we came to be in seminary. The experience of working in the world and the pull of marriage were some of the issues that came up, and we emphasised that priesthood wasn't necessarily an easy life to lead, but that it was a call from God like any other vocation. In the chapel Michael gave a brief reflection on Jesus calling the apostles to be fishers of men. The kids were very attentive, and we can only pray that some of them went away thinking about priesthood and religious life more seriously. In a time when a lot of parishes nationwide are gearing up to close down or amalgamate it is important to remember that the Church's future is in the next generations, and that no administrative plan will substitute the need for vocations.

After the session we joined the curate Fr. Martin Fears in the parish presbytery for dinner (and a very good dinner at that). Fr. Martin is the youngest priest in the diocese and the last East Anglian to be ordained from Oscott - in 2000. In the morning we went to Mass and then had a long-anticipated fry up. It was good to have a coming together of the brethren, to talk about seminary and to 'fortify one another with pious discourse' in the words of one of those youtube videos from a seminary across the water!

Friday, 5 October 2007

moving right along

It's now been over a month since the start of term, and the first assignments are looming on the distant horizon. I'm currently starting an essay on Pope Gregory the Great, as well as reading up on Aquinas, the pre-Socratics, and juggling a healthy dose of latin declensions. And of course there are plenty of other things recreational and spiritual to be taking part in: football, badminton, jaunts to the Birmingham Catholic chaplaincy (Fr. Julian runs a weekly youth prayer group there), chanting practice, preparation for the in-house concert, etc. This last week was riddled with liturgical celebrations, and on Oct 1st we continued the Oscott tradition of crowning a beautiful statue of Mary which resides in the cloisters. Some of us also went to the Birmingham Oratory last night where there was a beautiful Mass of the Sacred Heart to end 40 Hours Devotion there. The college feast day is this coming Tuesday, and that should be quite an occassion. The good news is that there are no lectures that day - but it means I have to cant morning prayer!

Monday, 24 September 2007

Our Lady of Walsingham

Happy feast of Our Lady of Walsingham!

Mother of God, be our Mother always.
Mother of Men, be our Mother always.
Mother of the Church, be our Mother always.
Mother of the world, be our Mother always.
Mother we need, be our Mother always.

(from the Litany of Our Lady of Walsingham)

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Parish Life!

Both Michael and myself are on our 'extended parish placement' at the moment. In other words we are working in parishes until Christmas, the idea being that living in the presbytery and engaging in pastoral work gives you an idea of what we're letting ourselves into, when God-willing we are ordained.

Michael is in Cambridge and I am at St. Mary's, Woodbridge Rd, Ipswich. Beginning my third week now I have to say that, although early days, it is turning out to be a unique, life giving if not very busy, chapter of my formation, indeed my life.

The community at St Mary's has been very welcoming and the Parish Priest Monsignor Leeming has been most hospitable.

Most of the work to date has been based around the High School, St Albans. From teaching year 7 RE students about the Mass, to giving
talks on the RCIA programme to exercising my ministry as Lector & Acolyte - I'm certainly being kept busy.

Please pray for Michael and Myself at this critical point in our formation for Priestly ministry.

Watch this Space for further updates and reflections!

Friday, 7 September 2007

Start of Term

As Luke and Michael are now on extended parish placement, I have taken on the mantle as a new student of keeping an update on life at seminary. For us first years, term began on September 1st, and for a few days we were introduced to Oscott and the city of Birmingham. On Sunday we had the chance to say Evening Prayer with Archbishop Vincent Nichols in St. Chad's cathedral. The rest of the college returned on Tuesday, when I met my fellow East Anglian Padraig, who is beginning his third year. During the BBQ on Tuesday evening I got to talk to three Vietnamese students who are also joining the first year as students for Birmingham diocese (after having spent some time here already learning English).

Lectures have been underway since yesterday, and the days are beginning to have a regular pattern. Half an hour's meditation in the morning preceded by the Angelus and followed by Morning Prayer, breakfast, lectures, Mass, lunch, free/ study time, Evening Prayer, dinner, Night Prayer and some form of social time. The Pugin chapel is definitely the highlight of the college, done in an ornate and colouful Gothic style, and we have already been introduced to some of the beautiful psalm settings and hymns used in the liturgy here - yesterday we had a go at the solemn tone of the Salve Regina.

On another note, I've been told there's football tomorrow, so I'll see if I can hide the fact that I've got two left feet!

Monday, 20 August 2007

Evan Almighty

With the holiday season being what it is, the three, sorry four (Welcome Henry) of us, haven’t been around a computer to update the Posts. September will resume with more frequent posting activity!

Among holiday activities I went to watch 'Evan Almighty' the sequel to 'Bruce Almighty'. It is rare that a practicing Catholic can watch a film these days with content that is safe, so I thought it might be worth flagging this one up. If you want to see a safe, clean comedy with a fairly good, sometimes-explicit Christian message this summer, then this is the film to watch! Kids should find it fine too as the scenes with the animals make it very family-friendly.

The plot: Evan Baxter, successful newsreader for buffalo news becomes congressman with the slogan 'change the world'. After moving to upmarket accommodation and surrounding himself with things that are worthy of his new-status he prays to God to help him do exactly that, -change the world! It really is a case of being careful what you pray for! Biblical epic meets slapstick comedy as ark building ensues, yes that’s right Evan becomes Noah! I won't spoil the ending but to stop you wondering, God doesn't kill every one!

It's actually a quite a good film with themes relating to prayer, trusting God, vocation and original sin to name but a few. The film will probably be better received in the states than here, as we seem to be a more secular society and less tolerant to religious themed films. (The treatment of 'The Nativity story' by our cinemas last Christmas was ridiculous, it didn't stand a chance)

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Cambodia - missionary work banned

I've just read this from the News Page of the National Association of Catholic Families:
The government of Cambodia has banned missionary work. While 95% of Cambodia's 13 million citizens are Buddhist, the Muslim and Christian minorities have generally been tolerated. But the government's new policy bars efforts to spread other religious beliefs. [CWNews]

Pray for Cambodia, with whom, thanks to the initiative of Bishop Michael, East Anglia has been fortunate enough to establish close friendships.
(above picture of me during a visit to Cambodia which Luke and I were able to make. Also interior of a floating Church which I visited)

Christian Perfection

Allow me to share a bit more with you from the book Christian Perfection by St Alphonsus Rodriguez that I mentioned a few posts ago.

"We read that some of the Fathers in the desert, unable to apply themselves continually to prayer and spiritual reading, yet resolving not to spend any of their time idly, employed all their leisure hours in making baskets of palms, or in some other manual labour. At the end of the year many of them burnt what they had made, having laboured only for the sake of employment, and to avoid idleness. So ought we to make what relates to our spiritual advancement our chief business, and to apply ourselves to all our other affairs...with the same spirit as these holy Fathers did to making their baskets; that is, without weakening, in the slightest degree, our obligation to work out our salvation, and aspire continually to perfection."

I find this such a beautiful image, and one I often return to, these dedicated follwers of Christ who were so given over to the worship of God that nothing of this earth held any value to them.
I think the example of these early Christians can teach us a lot about our priorities in our own lives. Obviously we, who live in the world, have obligations which we have to fulfil, people to care for so we cannot give our time over entirely to prayer and basket making! What we can learn from the Fathers though is that our first priority in life is our spiritual life and everything else leads into and out of that relationship with the Blessed Trinity which we must strive to foster.
Personally, I can find plenty of "good" reasons why, when it comes to a time I could use for prayer, I should do other things some of which might be themselves extremely valuable, such as writing a letter to someone who would appreciate it, do a bit of study or go for a much needed walk. All these things are important but if I don't pray now, when will I pray? If I end up unable to find opportunity to pray today, what about tomorrow, yet more excuses perhaps?
Of course, our spiritual lives do not consist solely of prayer; as I was saying a moment ago everything in our lives should lead into and out of our spiritual life. By serving others, fulfiling our obligations to the best of our abilities, living virtuous lives we are drawn closer to Christ who asks these things of us, and by maintaining a close and intimate relationship with him through prayer and receiving the sacraments we are given strength to serve him in the world. Let's put our relationship with Christ at the centre of our lives, so that we might be saints that Christ wants us to be and the world needs us to be!

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Christian Girl looses battle to wear purity ring at School!

I've been following with interest the story of Lydia Playfoot, the 16-year-old girl whose school threatened to expel her if she would not remove her silver ring. The ring represented a commitment Lydia had made, as a Christian, to stay pure and chaste, and not to enter into sexual relations until marriage. The ring symbolised both her commitment and her Faith.

The wearing of a small, discreet silver ring was deemed by the school to be in breech of the uniform policy, and so she was asked to remove it. Lydia argued that this ring was a legitimate expression of her faith and did not see it appropriate to remove it, so she took the matter to the High Court. The High Court ruled on Monday that the School was well within its rights to prohibit the wearing of the ring, and that no violation of rights had occurred.

What's the issue here? At first glance one might argue that the school had a policy, which Lydia freely agreed to when entering the School. Since she freely chooses to go against this, it would seem perhaps appropriate and reasonable to exclude her,....or would it?

I argue that the issue here is a much deeper one than a simple uniform policy, furthermore the threatening of expulsion to an otherwise well behaved, achieving student is neither appropriate nor reasonable despite what the High Court says!

I propose that the policy could only be legitimately carried out to exclude the wearing of the ring if, and only if the policy was consistently carried out across all people of all backgrounds. The policy, however, makes allowance for Muslims and Sikhs to wear visible signs of their faith it doesn't, however, cater for Christianity. Furthermore, common sense should be employed with the enforcing of any policy in a pastoral situation. Life isn't straightforward, cut and dry, one size fits all, -as we all know! There needs to be policies of course, but the way they are enforced should take into account all the factors and contexts.

The High court ruling suggests that since the ring is not an intrinsic part of the Christian Faith, it was not appropriate for her to wear it in school. This disturbs me, first of I would question then, (in this light) how intrinsic, headscarf’s are to Islam, or other symbols are to other faiths? Furthermore, it suggests that the School and the State for that matter, can judge what is deemed intrinsic to somebody's Faith and what isn't?

I would say that, however they try and dress this up this is yet another example of Christians being suppressed for beliefs in the name of a so-called equality! It's ok to be religious in Britain as long as you’re not Christian!

Monday, 16 July 2007

Mortification in the Spiritual Life

I have recently been reading from a book entitled "Christian Perfection" by St Alphonsus Rodriguez (1530-1617).
I was interested by what I read in the section on mortification in which St Alphonsus says,
"It is true that Christian perfection does not essentially consist in mortification, but in the love of God: and a man is not perfect till he is united to God by the bond of love. But, as a stone which is raised from the ground falls back again to its centre as soon as that is taken away which hinders it from its natural inclination of falling back; so, no sooner is our soul, which is a spiritual substance and created for God, freed from the impediment of its passions, and from all other things that miserably fasten it to the earth, but it presently raises itself unto God as to its end and centre, and by the assistance of his grace unites itself unto him by charity.

It is important for us to remember, as St Alphonsus pointed out, that being holy and becoming a saint does not consist of being as mortified as we can possibly make ourselves. Neither should we forget that close union with God is not possible with our first becoming detached from those things which hinder our union. For example, wasting time, wanting our own way and not giving way to others when this is of no consequence, damaging our health through over eating and drinking. All of creation is good, because God made it so but we must always try and use it in a way that it leads us to God and not so that the things become ends in themselves e.g. food, do we use food in order to lead a healthy lifestyle and be at our best to serve God or do we over-indulge and make food itself into a little god.
Obviously some attachments are greater than others but St John of the Cross said that whether a bird is tied by a rope or by a small cord it is still unable to fly.
By working with God's grace, through prayer and the practice of the virtues let us strive to purify our hearts of all disordered attachments in order to make space for God, who brings us happiness greater than anythings created can offer us.
"You have put into my heart a greater joy than they have from abundance of corn and new wine" (Psalm 4)

Graduation Day

On Friday my year group finally reached graduation for our degrees from Birmingham University. Oscott is affiliated with BU in order that the work we would do anyway in order to fulfil the requirements of the Holy See is recognised by the secular world as amounting to something!

During the ceremony an honourary doctorate was given to an Anglican Bishop who was lauded during the proceedings for being known as a "radical liberal" - makes you squirm just thinking about it doesn't it! However during the Bishop's own acceptance speech he talked about the importance of the subjects of the School of Historical Studies (to which theoogy belongs) because we must not fall into the common modern day trap of thinking we are starting everything from the beginning ourselves, we are all recipitents of a heritage which has given us the opportunities we have today. We must look to the past and understand how we have got to where we are now in order to authentically move forward. I think you could call that a hermeneutic of continuity, but more of that elsewhere!

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Evangelisation of Europe

We have just celebrated the Feast day of St Benedict, one of the patrons of Europe. What great benefits and blessings are ours today thanks to the labours of so many of our forefathers (and foremothers) who strove to spread the News about Jesus throughout Europe and to establish in this continent, cultures and society which had as their foundations true evangelical values, values which encouraged the peoples of the land to follow the Master closely and build up in earthly empires, the Kingdom and Empire of God.

What a tragic difference we see today in the aims and values of so many of Europe's leaders. We all know the reality of the situation we are living in: widespread easy availability of abortion, attempts (sometimes successful) to legalise Euthanasia, sexual promiscuity, the breakdown of family life as well as the privatisation and relativisation of religious beliefs.

Though the situation seem dire, we must not become disillusioned (and certainly not conform to the standards and values offered us by our society). "and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Matthew 28:20).

Christ is with his Church, he always has been and always will be. We must be in no doubt that Christ will give us all the means we need to serve him and spread the Gospel to our society as long as we co-operate with his grace.

We should also not become too overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task ahead. For each one of us the only thing we have to concentrate our efforts on is the world with which we have contact. Certainly we can, thanks to modern means of communication, reach communities and projects around the world and assist with these and this is extremely important, but most of our daily life is lived at work, at school or university and at home and it is here that we are called especially to bring Christ's message to humanity. "Each one of us has seriously to ask: What cn I do in my city, in my work place, my university, and any other environment I am in, to help Christ reign more effectively in souls? Consider this question in the presence of God, ask advice and pray. Then, set out with holy determination to win that particular domain for God" (A. del Portillo) through the help and power of his grace.

In the everyday situations in which we find ourselves we can preach Christ to the world. This will not necessarily involve mentioning Christ at all. What is required of us primarily is that we preach Christ through our actions, through always being just and fair, understanding, patient and striving always to radiate the joy of being a follower of the Master. From there we might gain opportunities to speak more explicitly about Christ himself and why we live the way we do. "Preach the Gospel at all times" said St Francis, "use words if necessary".

Of course, none of this will be possible without the grace of God. Our first priority in trying to bring the Gospel to the world around us is to be converted ourselves and allow Christ to reign in us. Christ has given us the means to become the saints he wants us to be, most epecially in the sacraments. Through regular Mass and Confession we grow more and more like Christ whom we meet in these sacraments. In the Eucharist indeed we receive Christ himself who transforms us into his likeness. One of the saints explained that unlike ordinary food which when we consume it we kind of make it part of ourselves, when we receive the Eucharist we become more like what we receive - Christ himself. Apart from these we must also strive to set aside each day time for personal and intimate prayer with the Master, because how can we be like Christ and tell others about him if we are not familiar with him ourselves?

May Christ reign in our own lives, that through us he might reign in the hearts of all. Amen.

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Is Doctor Who Catholic?

Series three of the new Doctor Who series concluded yesterday evening. Having been a huge fan of the show since about the age of seven, I was delighted when eventually it returned to our screens back in 2005. Since then Russell T Davies and crew, have delighted fans both old and new, with a spectacular show which is complex enough for the adults and entertaining enough for the children.

This is all well and good you might say, but what, if any is the relevance of this for a Catholic Blog? Well, first of all, I’m a huge fan of the show, in fact I would even say it has been hugely influential….but that’s another story. Anyway I’m a huge fan and, having to remain alone at Seminary for several weeks, in order to fulfil my civic duty of Jury Service, gives one time enough to think and reflect on a number of things, Doctor Who being one of them! Secondly (as if I need a second reason!) I was struck by the excellence of the series finale, and in particular some of the themes which, I’m going to argue, are loaded with Christian Imagery.

In fact I’ve always been impressed with the morality of the Doctor, their was something about this, seemingly celibate, mystical man who would march into a dying situation with his TARDIS, Sonic Screwdriver and unswerving passion to do what is right,- at all costs. From early on in the classic series it was clear that who ever this ‘Doctor’ was he was a moral force, a force for good in a seemingly chaotic Universe.

The Doctor is Pro-life, for all life. The universe of Doctor Who is of course very different to our own, but a consistent theme in classic series which, has been faithfully carried over into the new is the Doctor’s stance on the right to life. Be it alien or human, they all have the right to life. One of the clearest examples of the Doctor’s position is illustrated in the first episode of the second (New) series, ‘New Earth’. In this episode, in the far distant future an Alien Order of Nurse-Cats are on the new planet Earth. They run all the Hospitals and can cure all diseases, but at a cost. The Doctor discovers that the cats have bread a race of people that they keep in suspended animation in huge prison-like arrays. These people are referred to as ‘the meat’. There sole purpose in life is to act as hosts for all the diseases of the other patients. The cats, don’t have a problem with this, the Doctor naturally is appalled; “You want to take this to a higher authority, I am the highest authority, it stops here” The Doctor tells them curing people at the cost of other peoples lives is unacceptable, a perversion of the medical ethic. This perhaps is not without its parallels today? Naturally the Doctor saves the day, freeing and heeling this specially bred ‘human’ race.

This is of course only one example. It is, however, consistent throughout the shows history, the Doctor has fought for the right of all life forms, to life.

I want to focus, however, on the last three episodes of the season three. (Last of which aired 30th June BBC1) There are consistent themes that always run throughout the show, there is the Pro-life theme of course, but also themes of sacrifice, forgiveness, love, hope, and vocation to name but a few. Space and time will not allow me to expound all of these and this is not the forum. These themes, however, all seemed to culminate in Saturday’s Finale.

In Saturday’s episode, ‘The Last of the Timelords’ The Doctor finds himself on board the Master’s (The Doctors Nemesis, rival Timelord, completely Evil and a little unhinged!) ship hovering in the clouds above the earth. The Master/ Mr Saxon has become prime minister of Great Britain by hypnotising the population through something called the ‘Archangel network’ (15 Satellites orbiting the Earth, gently beaming suggestions into people’s heads). The Master has control of the whole planet and has freely decimated whole continents in order to build huge rocket silos to wage war on the rest of the Universe.

The Master has also used a device on the Doctor that has accelerated his age almost to the point of death. The Doctor is reduced to a pathetic Golom-like creature that is locked in a cage for the Master’s amusement. Martha Jones, the Doctor’s companion managed to Tele-port to Earth, seemingly to escape. Unknown to the Master the Doctor, however, had managed to give Martha instructions before escaping. Martha, for the next year would travel the Globe, telling people about the Doctor, about how he had saved the Planet many times before, without any of them knowing, more importantly she instructed them all at a certain time to concentrate on one word, a name, The Doctor. The Doctor being a Timelord, and over the period of a year, (whilst being imprisoned by the Master) managed to tap in to the telepathic frequency of the Archangel network. When at the same point in time millions of people all concentrated on The Doctor, he was able to tap into that energy and use it to free himself, reverse the aging process and stop the Masters plans. As the Master himself said, he was thwarted by “the power of prayer”!

There are then, a number of themes in this episode worthy of attention. Of course it goes without saying that this is a science fiction programme, not a Christian production. I’m sure that many who work in the production of Doctor Who wouldn’t see things the way I do, yet even so I argue these themes/images are present.

Martha then, travels the world bringing hope to a desperate situation by proclaiming news that will free these people who are in physical and mental bondage. Her role is not dissimilar to an Apostle. As a result Martha changes, she matures as a person, but more than that she seems to find herself, afterwards things are clearer. At the end of the episode she leaves the TARDIS crew. Her love for The Doctor is unrequited, and she is ok with this. She realises that she has responsibilities on Earth, she finds her vocation.

There is of course this obvious reference to prayer. Although this is not so much supernatural as natural, there is an image here of how when people speak out in Faith and in once voice, things change the world can be saved, there is hope.

Probably the most moving part of the episode comes at the end. The Doctor has defeated the Master, the Master runs into the corner of the room trying to get away from the Doctor; the audience is left wondering what the Doctor will do…. “You know what happens now don’t you” he says, “no” The Master interjects, The Doctor faces him, (Master cowering in the corner) “I forgive you” The Doctor comforts the Master both are crying, The Doctor out of pity and love, the Master because he cannot deal with The Doctor’s forgiveness.

So, there are a few quasi-religious themes and images in a TV Show what’s the point?

Well it all depends on how you look at it. First of all this is what people are watching, this is where people are at. The over night figures for last nights episode was eight million viewers. If we are to bring the Good News of Christ to this world, this culture that we are in. It is of use, I believe, to see where there are elements of the Gospel or images that we can use in order to present Christ to such a world. I believe that despite all the negative areas of our technological, media-centred multi-cultural world, The Holy Spirit is at work, even in the media, gently preparing the mission field for us, if only we be attentive.

It’s not limited to Doctor Who of course, (although we have to be critical, not every image or metaphor would necessarily be appropriate) yet as a fan, and as Seminarian I argue that in this programme in particular, there are lots of images that we can use to help convey salvific truths and mysteries of faith. Quite often with School children I use the image of the TARDIS to help explain how at the Sacrifice of the Mass, we are at the Last Supper, at Calvery and in the Presence of the Angels and the Saints.

So, to return to the title of this post, Is Doctor Who Catholic? The answer, probably not in the strictest sense. Is Doctor Who useful to us? I would say so!

God Bless (LG)

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Ordination, Schools Outreach and Jury Service!

Its been a few weeks since we last posted on the Blog. Its been quite eventful. Term finished on the 16th of June with the diaconate Ordinations of Chris Howard, Simon Penhalagan, Andrew Richardson, Sean Riley and Paul Smith. Phillip Harries was ordained last Friday (22nd of June). Please keep them in your prayers.

Immediately prior to the Ordinations Oscott had, what we refer to as Schools Outreach. In effect this is more of a Schools ‘in-reach’ since the schools come to us! This means that everyday for a fortnight 90-120 year six pupils from the Archdiocese of Birmingham come to Oscott, where we break them into groups of about 20 and do catechetical activities with them. This ends with all the Schools coming together for Mass, at the end oft the day. This programme although tiring, is always an incredible blessing, and a great Pastoral initiative of the college. This year seemed no exception, it all went smoothly and the pupils seemed profoundly moved by the experiences they had, particularly through meditative prayer and Holy Mass.

Michael and I finished our degree, both getting a 2:1 from Birmingham University,- we graduate on the 13th July, well I hope to at least,- I’m on Jury Service at the moment at Birmingham Crown Court, here's hoping I finish before my graduation!

Monday, 4 June 2007

St Mary's College pilgrimage to Walsingham

On 31st May, the feast of the Visitation of Our Lady the staff and students of Oscott were blessed in being able to make a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham, "England's Nazareth". Please excuse anything which might seem a little biased in this post but as I am from East Anglia Our Lady of Walsingham already holds a very dear place in my heart so this pilgrimage with my fellow seminarians and our seminary formators was doubly appreciated.

We left the College at the unseemly hour of 5.30 (picking up Luke in Peterborough on the way) in order to reach Walsingham by 9.30 in order to be able to celebrate Mass in the Slipper Chapel, the high point of the day and I was blessed to be able to serve at the Mass. Here are a few pics:

After Mass the whole community processed with the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham along the Holy Mile to the centre of the village, finishing at the new Church of the Annunciation in the village centre.
Throughout the pilgrimage, at the Mass, in the Rosary during the procession, during Holy Hour in the new Church the intention of the community was the pray for the conversion of England and Wales, for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and to pray for the intentions of our own community.

If you'll forgive a bit of self indulgence this is probably the most pious picture of the back of my head (which someone took without my knowledge) as well being perhps the clearest picture I've managed to acquire of the statue of Our Lady in the Slipper Chapel:

On the way back to the seminary the parish of St Luke in Peterborough provided us with great hospitality, including a fantastic barbecue (as well as celebrating Evening Prayer with us beforehand).
But at the end of the day it all proved just too much for some:

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Brief break

After our exams and prior to our trip to Walsingham we have been fortunate enough to have a 3 day break from the seminary. It was great to go home and see friends and family. Also, after being in the city for so long it was good to get back to the country side and thanks to my good friend Kate, who took me out for an extremely fattening but wonderfully British cream tea, to see a bit of the beautful Suffolk scenery.

I'm sorry, but it beats Birmingham any day!

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Oscott to Walsingham

On Thursday the 31st of May, Oscott College is making its annual pilgrimage to...of all places Walsingham. For us East Anglians, however, it's more of a return home than a pilgrimage, but Walsingham always promises to a blessed place.

According to college records, it is sixty years this year, since Oscott last travelled as a college to walsingham on pilgrimage. We were the first to celebrate High Mass in the slipper chapel since the reformation, and we donated to the shrine, a processional cross that is still used to this day.

There is something very profound and very important in our pilgrimage. Not only in so far as we (the Seminary) are dedicated to Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, but also their is a sense in which it seems entirely appropriate, right and fitting that the future pastors of the English Church should go to pray for England, Mary's dowry, at the shrine that She instituted. Surely we will be strengthened, encouraged and blessed for our future mission?

I'm Slightly anxious about the return journey home as the college is stopping in at my home parish of, St. Luke's in Peterborough for Vespers and BBQ supper, -my home parish, my family, seminary staff and fellow seminarians- these are worlds that should never collide!

Any way, watch this space for pilgrimage photos!

Wishing all a spirit filled Pentecost!

(Even if I have just celebrated 2nd Vespers..... so sad!)

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Camera boredom

Since acquiring my new camera I've been able to engage in a bit of high-cultured photography (otherwise known as working out how the thing works).

From my "still life" collection:

"Monk with grapes 2007"

(...with grateful thanks to Dom Andrew Berry OSB)

Monday, 21 May 2007

Pro-life prayer campaign

On Sunday afternoon six of us from Oscott had the opportunity to join the last day of the 'Siege of Jericho' campaign which had been organised at a local abortion clinic by a group from the Birmingham Oratory. Each day there had been a procession round the clinic whilst the rosary was prayed and the Blessed Sacrament was carried secretly by one of the priests. Whilst this was happening people in a local Church were praying the Rosary before the Blessed Sacrament, it was a real crusade. On Sunday the Blessed Sacrament was carried in a monstrance with incense and banners. It was a very encouraging and hopefully fruitful experience. The ages of those who took part in the procession were very varied and it was so good to see many young people showing their support for the pro-life cause, not to mention praying with such devotion. Let us pray for healing for all those affected by abortion and for an end to this tragedy.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Exams over at last

Rejoice with us! Exams are over...for me and Luke, at least, Padraig has a Greek exam on monday! Anyway, I think a rest is in order and that's exactly what I intend to do, as well as catching up on a bit of reading for leisure. I want to get to know a bit more about the great theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar and I've also acquired a few of Pope Benedict's theological works including his new book, "Jesus of Nazareth". So, plenty of brain material but it's amazing the difference it makes when you know when is going to test you about it afterwards!

After all we've been through I don't think a moment of repose at a coffee shop was over-indulgent...

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Sunday, day of rest and a day of, uhm....revision!

As much as I detest the idea of working.....on a Sunday. The prospect of walking into an oral exam tomorrow with nothing to say other than to spell out the word utilitarianism in an many different accents as humanly possible, is not something I'm terribly looking forward to.

Why is it that some of the most competent of speakers are reduced to an incomprehensible mess at the prospect of having to answer straight forward questions? I think I'll have to become a politician!

So, alas I'll have to 'hit the books' today, despite my puritanical tendencies

So if there are any of you reading this who are taking exams at the moment, my prayers are with you, and if anyone reads this post before 9.00am on Monday the 14th May, send a few prayers in the direction of Michael, Padraig and myself!

God Bless.

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Exam day 1

Well, first exam out of the way for Luke and and I in year three. I'm not entirely sure how it went - managed to write a page on the use of the word 'now' in Romans chapter 8 verse 1 though so that must count for something!! Revision continues now. Luke, Padraig and I have an exam on ethical philosophy on monday...which should be fun (??)

I'm kind of excited because I bought a digital camera today, which I've been debating if I should for a long time, hopefully this will mean I'm able to post more photos on here, if I remember to take my camera places with me.

Friday, 11 May 2007

Medjugorje pilgrimage

Sean (a fifth year seminarian) has just given me a CD with some photographs on it of our trip to Medjugorje which we were fortunate enough to be able to go on just after Easter. I was very impressed by the place. I'm not 100% convinced either way whether I believe that the apparitions are taking place or not, it certainly seems very real when you listen to the people who have experienced apparitions. One thing is certain though, it's bringing people to a deeper relationship with Christ and His Blessed Mother. The devotion of the locals and the pilgrims is very edifying; the prayer, the fasting, the joy - it is certainly a radical call to conversion.

Revision week ends

It's no good, I just can't take anymore. We have reached the end of revision week, folks and exams start tomorrow! Luke and I have a Scripture exam tomorrow on the writings of St Paul and I just don't think I can learn any more about the Messianic Pauline 'now'! I don't think Padraig and his year group have an exam tomorrow but their turn will soon come.

Please pray for us!

Monday, 7 May 2007

Welcome to our world

Welcome, viewer, to our new blog. There isn't much on it at the moment and for this we apologise. We hope to use it to keep you informed about what we've been up recently during our time in formation for the priesthood at St Mary's seminary, Oscott. Please do get in touch with us. Above all, please pray for us.