Monday, 29 December 2008

Happy Christmas

I hope everyone is having a blessed Christmas season and that your resolutions for the New Year bring great graces! Three of the us are going to the FAITH conference at Stonyhurst, and one to the Youth 2000 New Year's retreat in London, so between us all we're covering some ground... At home I'm trying to make a crib set with my family, which can be added to year by year and which will be based in our town, so it will include some of those people who are known to the town or to our family, as well as all the biblical personages. It should be great fun! However, we've already had a schism, as different family members seem to be working from different scales, and so the crib sets are beginning to rival one another...

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Vespers by Hazard Light

Well, term's finished, exams are over, and one more seminarian is ordained - please keep Fr Dominic Coslett of Birmingham diocese in your prayers. After going to the ordination on Saturday afternoon, some of us made our way back to East Anglia, only to get a flat tire on the way back, caused by a pothole! We tried to get the tire off oursleves, but it was stuck, so we had to wait for the RAC man to come. In the meantime we said evening prayer by the light of Michael's hazard lights - 'vespers by hazard light,' as he remarked. One of the challenges of being a diocesan seminarian or priest, it seems to me, is finding time and space to say the Divine Office during the day (less so for a seminarian, as we have a communal life to a large degree). But it's also quite fun that any mundane situation can become a launchpad for the consecration of one's day to God - on the bus, at home, in a park, in a waiting room... (note: I do wish Harper and Collins would make alternative smaller breviaries that can be fitted into pockets!)

Incidentally, has everyone read Pope Benedict's words on the 'ecology' of mankind from the other day, which have been taken up by the BBC? He talks brilliantly of a need to restore the understanding of human nature as male and female, and says that ignoring these distinctions in the moral sphere only leads to self-delusion and self-harm:

'That which has come to be expressed and understood with the term 'gender' [understood wrongly] effectively results in man's self-emancipation from Creation and from the Creator. Man wants to do everything by himself and to decide always and exclusively about anything that concerns him personally. But this is to live against truth, to live against the Spirit Creator.'

On the flip side, the significance of the Incarnation is that Christ chose to carry out His saving work not by himself, but with and among men; he did not have a monopoly on everything concerning Himself, but obeyed the will of the Father out of love; he did not 'liberate' himself from Creation, but chose to share in it. So Pope Bendict's remarks are quite seasonal!