Monday, 28 January 2008

The First Deep Fat Friar

A humourous allusion on Michael's part to St. Thomas Aquinas, whose feast day is today. As the patron saint of students, he was given particular attention by one of our deacons in the homily at Mass. The deacon spoke of how St. Thomas coupled his Christian wisdom with the intellectual fruits of his own secular age in order to achieve a synthesis that could engage the world. Another Thomist, he said, did the same thing when eight centuries later he unraveled the beauty of Catholic sexual teaching in the light of an anthropological and philosophical discipline - it's called John Paul II's Theology of the Body. Heck, this blog is trying to use the good things of our own age in order to further the truths of our faith. That makes it Thomistic I guess...

St. Thomas, pray for us!

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Acolyte Mass

Congratulations to our diocesan brother Padraig, who received the ministry of acolyte today. Acolyte is a ministry that centres around the Liturgy of the Eucharist at Mass, in which the server brings the bread and wine to the priest at the altar, that they may become the Body and Blood of Christ. I think it also gives the candidate the privilege of being an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion anywhere in the world. Acolyte, received at Oscott in the third year, is one of the markers in the seminarian’s journey to ordination, the others being the ministry of reader in the second year, and candidacy in the fourth year, when the seminarian is formally accepted as a student for the priesthood. Luke and Michael will be coming to that soon...

Today after the homily each of the acolyte candidates knelt in front of the bishop, as he presented them with a chalice and enjoined them to be worthy vessels of Christ. Pray that Padraig will be ever conformed to Christ in his seminary formation.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Bishops, buffets and football

Happy feast of Ss Timothy and Titus.

Now that Michael and Luke are back from placement, the East Anglian presence in Oscott is notable (look out Birmingham). This was especially true of this last week when the bishop came up to visit. We got to talk to him about how seminary was going, and even have a bit of banter with him when we went out for a Chinese buffet in the evening. As if latin, greek and hebrew weren't enough, Michael and Luke were quizzed on their cambodian, which they had used last summer on placement there. I think the bishop wins in that department. He was also happy to talk about Leeds football!

Yesterday Oscott won their first football match in years, against Maryvale Institute, the Catholic college just down the road. Granted, you'd expect a seminary full of twenty and thirty year olds to beat a team that only came together for this match, but still it's a win! I wonder if it's apporopriate to pray to John Paul II that we beat our rivals from Wonersh seminary next week? It could be the miracle that makes him patron saint of footballers...

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

New colleagues

Ladies and Gents, I would very much like to introduce to you some new members of the family...

Please meet John Fisher and Thomas More...

Back in business

Incredibly it's been over a week now since we arrived back at the seminary after our Christmas break and I'm not sure I've had time to stop since because things have been pretty manic.

Luke and I of course have the added peculiarity of trying to get back into the swing of things after having been away for six months, mainly on parish placements. Now we have to face the joy of academic work once again - we have both already had to write and hand in a 3000-word essay. We have both also gained new house jobs, Luke is the Master of Ceremonies (very impressive, I hear you cry) and I am in charge of Manual Labour (perhaps not so impressive, I hear you mutter...)

It is good to be back in the company of our fellow seminarians. Padraig and his year group are receiving the ministry of Acolyte on Sunday, so please say a prayer for them. It's also good to now have the opportunity of getting to know Henry better which had been difficult until now because of our being away on placement when he started in September.

Please keep us in your prayers as we each try to discern the Lord's call for us and serve Him as best we can.

God bless.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Happy Feast of Our Lord's Baptism

He does not cry out or shout aloud,
or make his voice heard in the streets.
He does not break the crushed reed,
nor quench the wavering flame.

Faithfully he brings true justice;
he will neither waver, nor be crushed
until true justice is established on earth,
for the islands are awaiting his law.

(Isaiah 42)

Today is a day of recollection for us as we start the term so I'll say no more, but have a blessed day and keep us in your prayers.

Monday, 7 January 2008

WYD prep

I realise full well that I should be in bed right now, but as I can't get to sleep I thought I'd write a quick post.

First of all, a belated feast of the Epiphany to everyone. Saturday night I went to the bishop's Epiphany Vigil Mass for young people who are going to be, or have recently been, confirmed. Afterwards I got to meet some of the young people in the light of a bonfire and fireworks, a few of whom I saw the next day at the preparation afternoon for World Youth Day. Luke my senior was also there, putting sweepstake tickets into envelopes for a fundraising event, while trying to convince the youth of Doctor Who's Catholicity - see previous posts. We had an Australian come and explain all about Australian life and culture (yes, I've heard the yoghurt joke), and we learned such useful phrases as 'flat out like a lizard drinking' ('I'm busy') and 'fair dinkums' ('it's true'). Ripper! I'm stoked to learn all this...

I missed a second Epiphany Mass with the bishop to come back for a Vocations Holy Hour which was being held in my parish. As well as having initiatives to attract men and women to the priesthood and religious life, it is important to pray to Christ that he might open them to the possibility of such a discernment. As it says in 'Fishers of Men', as a baby grows in silence, so a vocation is formed through silence. Please pray for an increase of priestly and religious vocations in East Anglia, especially amongst our young people!

I promised a report on the FAITH conference - it will come. Fr. Tim has a good review on his blog as well, though I miss the fun video that usually accompanies such events!

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Happy New Year

Happy Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God, and may you all have a blessed year of 2008! Sorry for the lapse in posts - that can be part of my New Year's resolution...

This Christmas has been my first major break since starting seminary. My first term at seminary was an enjoyable one, and I am looking forward to the coming term. We finished our first rounds of essays and exams - history, latin, Aquinas, classical philosophy, liturgy and Synoptic Gospels. Aquinas, Synoptics and latin are my favourite so far... But the fun and learning doesn't stop with the end of term; for Christmas I got Alice Hogge's 'God's Secret Agents', an account of the Jesuit priests on the English mission during Elizabeth's reign and up to the Gunpowder Plot. Hogges herself is an agnostic, but from what I've read so far she's very sympathetic to the Catholic voice in the Recusant period. What's more it is very easy to read, and relies often on the Jesuit John Gerard's autobiography (a compelling picture of the times through the eyes of a priest in hiding).

Tomorrow some of us are going to the FAITH winter conference, a couple of days of talks and prayer based on 'Hearing God's Word' in the Scripture. There will be sports in the afternoon and a bar in the evening, topped by a ceilidh dance on the last night! What more could anyone want? There is also a session in the summer for any young adults who are interested. I'll let you know how the conference goes.