Saturday, 9 October 2010

Pondering in the heart

This week, in Luke's Gospel during Mass, we have heard a good number of some of Jesus' most famous words, and, indeed, there is a string which runs through all of those readings from the week.

On Sunday, we learnt about the importance in faith in God, putting ourselves and our future entirely in His hands, while, at the same time, enlightening our hearts and minds to the necessity of serving our neighbour in His name.

Similarly, on Monday, a young and holy man went to Jesus and asked him what more he could do: Jesus told him to emulate the example of our Blessed Saviour and be a 'good neighbour' to the outcasts of society and community.

We are challenged again on Tuesday, for after our instruction about performing works, Jesus reminds us about the necessity to nurture the contemplative side of life: we are to be both Martha and Mary, and Jesus helps us with this on Wednesday by teaching us the Our Father. Thursday's Gospel further tells us that we can ask anything of our heavenly Father. Yesterday, we learnt that this leads us to unity with each other, and the evils of division and discord was explained to us.

Today, in the Gospel, we heard a very unusual and purely Lucan story. While Jesus was explaining all these other things, a woman in the crowd pipes up and says, "blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked."

But Jesus says, that the blessed derive their holiness not from simply being who they are, but more expressly, in their relationship with God, because He is the fountain of all holiness. Virtue, goodness, holiness, sanctity does not originate in individuals, rather, it is a reflection of the Father's glory.

Our Lady, to whom the woman was referring, is most blessed, not of her own doing, but by the grace of God. She does radiate light, helps us to see in the darkness, guides us on our way and gives us comfort; her light, however, is like the gentle light of the Moon, which is the reflection of the life-giving light of the Sun.

Blessed John Henry, whose feasts it is today, wrote the following:

Within her heart, Mary pondered upon the visit of the shepherds who told her of the vision of angels and told her of the vision of angels and announced that the Infant in her arms was the Saviour who is Christ the Lord. Twelve years later, when she found her Son in the Temple and He explained how He must do the work of His Father, again she treasured these things in her heart. Her faith so anticipated His first miracle that she forewarned the servants at Cana to carry out instructions to the letter. Our Lady, then, is the pattern of faith both in the reception and in the study of Divine Truth, acceptance being followed by a cherishing. Zechariah reasoned first and believed later; with love and reverence Mary believed and then reasoned.

Friday, 27 August 2010

The Book of Margery Kempe

What do seminarians do on their summer holidays?

Well now, that would be telling. But I will break up our complete lack of summer-time blog articles, with a little indulgence into one of my passions.

This seminarian went to a second-hand bookshop in the great East Anglian city of Cambridge, and found a little 1936 print of a very much older book indeed.

I spent a portion of my time at university translating mediaeval documents, such as wills and deeds (not for was a course module!). One place-name I came across was Lynn episcopi. This caused me a few moments of angst until I realised that, of course, it referred to King's Lynn, called, before the Reformation, Bishop's Lynn.

Bishop's Lynn, a town of our diocese, was, 570 years ago, the home of a certain woman named Margery Kempe. A book of her life, unimaginatively yet charmingly entitled, was that which I discovered in my county-town last week.

I have never before read The Book of Margery Kempe, though I have seen novel snippets found in the various tomes of Professor Duffy, and the like. The book is a cross between the life of a saint, and a 15th century episode of Eastenders.

Written down by a priest, she tells the stories of her life: arguments with her husband, her lustful temptations at evensong, her conversion to holiness, her pilgrimages, her meetings with bishops, friars, vicars and anchoresses, such as Julian of Norwich, who, regular followers will remember, was the subject of Oscott's Lenten reading this year.

It also recounts the course of her spiritual life, which, though mediaeval, is still, for me at least, inspiring and thought-provoking, worthy to be read in our own time. She reminisces of one occasion of her attending Mass and receiving Holy Communion (which she did regularly, so rare in her times, she had to seek permission from the Archbishop of Canterbury). I'd like to share with you her personal prayer for these occasions, which she shared for time immemorial:

Lord, as surely as Thou are not wroth with me,
grant me a well of tears,
whereby I may receive Thy Precious Body
with all manner of tears of devotion to Thy worship
and to the increase of my merit;
for Thou art my joy, Lord,
my bliss, my comfort and all the treasure I have in the world;
for other worldly joys covet I not, but only Thee.
And therefore my dearworthy Lord and my God,
forsake me not.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Ad multos annos!

It's funny what happens when you don't write on a blog for a while...

Back in June, the twenty-sixth of June that is, our fifth year brother, Pádraig, was ordained to the diaconate in Oscott Chapel, along with his peer of the archdiocese of Birmingham, Craig, by the Ordinary of that See, Archbishop Bernard Longley. We always enjoy the Archbishop's visits to the college, and for him to ordain our new top year was a great blessing, not only for our seminary community, which has two wonderful new deacons to minister to our manifold needs, but to both our dioceses, and to the Church. Congratulations on your ordination!

The ordinations to the diaconate happen, of course, every year, and, traditionally, mark the end of term, and the beginning of summer. This year, however, was different. A week after the ordinations, we seminarians returned to find the Rector's lawn festooned with teepees, and, very soon, we were to be over-run by young people in tents. It was the weekend of Invocation 2010, the first large gathering of people discerning a particular vocation in the Church as priests or religious. There were a variety of liturgies, workshops and talks, but, principally, it was an arena for the Holy Spirit, and it was evident that he was at work in the hearts of many of the people who were present. The Chapel was packed full to brim, and over, for Mass and the Offices, and said new deacons were granted a baptism of fire, and managed to tick off three of our nation's Archbishops at the event, +Bernard, +Peter (close to our hearts round these parts, of course), and +Vincent.

These two chappies made an appearance with our own Bishop Michael, this last Saturday, 10th July, in our Cathedral in Norwich. For our two seniors have managed to escape from seminary and be ordained priests!

The purpose of seminary is not to live in a permanent religious community, which can be a danger, though, thank God, is not the case in reality. A seminary is for the formation of men for the priesthood: to sanctify the Christian people, and to offer sacrifice to God.

It was with great joy, and - I'm sure I'm not only speaking for myself - great pride, that two of our brothers and friends, who began this blog, and indeed, set the ball rolling for the current crop of E.A. Seminarians, were ordained to the sacred priesthood.

It was such a beautiful sight: the Cathedral packed full of priests, deacons and lay faithful, surrounding the Bishop, as Michael and Luke were called forward to be ordained by him. The prostration, the promise of obedience, the laying on of hands, the clothing with priestly vestments, the anointing with Chrism, presentation of the chalice and paten, and the first concelebration of Holy Mass, brought several tears to my eye, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one!

It could be a fairy-tale, but it isn't, it's real: two new priests for the Church in East Anglia! Two good and holy men have offered their entire lives for the service of God's people in our diocese.

Ad multos annos, Father Luke and Father Michael!

May God bless your priestly lives, and may we all remember you in our prayers.

As soon as we get more pictures of the ordination, the first Masses in Peterborough, Ipswich and Walsingham, we'll write lots more! Do send in your snaps, if you have any you would like to share, to our e-mail:

Sunday, 20 June 2010


June is proving to be a very busy month.

It is topped and tailed with Quarantore, and next week, we conclude the month of the Sacred Heart with ordinations to the diaconate.

Today, however, has been an important event for year three, including our very own Henry, who received the Ministry of Acolyte at Mass this morning. Two students from the archdiocese of Birmingham, and one student from the diocese of Nottingham received the ministry, and a Birmingham student received the Ministry of Lector. Both of these, formerly minor orders, are conferred upon men, who, usually in preparation for priestly ordination, become related to Mother Church's ministry in a particular way. As the bishop said to Henry and the others during the rite, "it is your responsibility to assist priests and deacons in carrying out their ministry, and as special ministers to give holy communion to the faithful at the liturgy and to the sick."

Pretty self-explanatory, really! Oscotian tradition dictates that those receiving this ministry 'take-over' the serving of those acting as their 'vicars' for the Liturgy of the Word. Needless to say, perhaps unintentionally, Henry took over my role; so we kept it East Anglian.

Congratulations to all those who received their ministries today.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

New Looks

There have been a few changes afoot down ol'

Along with a new experimental look, we have also installed a hit-counter, which allows us to see how many people are visiting our site, and various demographics. Also, to protect security, after a recent wave of spam, you will notice, hopefully, more control over comment moderation.

Do give your opinion, if you have one!

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In other news, Michael's reign as Dean of Seminarians came to an end just before half-term. However, the college swiftly elected a successor, a certain Pádraig, who, in what can now be called a tradition, will ensure East Anglia remains at the very pinnacle of the collegiate crème. Best of luck for your term in office!

Who lives and rains

We emerged from half-term last week, and, in preparation for the celebration of Corpus et Sanguis Christi on Sunday, the whole house entered into a period of forty hours Eucharistic exposition, which, in an original Italian manner, is styled Quarantore. It was a great privilege to know that the Blessed Sacrament was exposed and being adored almost next door to my bedroom all weekend!

As you can see from this picture of the chapel, we made sure that the Blessed Sacrament was suitably framed with a medley of beautiful flowers and candles.

After an early Mass on Sunday morning, Archbishop Longley visited the college, and presided over a Eucharistic Procession, in typical Corpus Christi style. The chapel was full of guests from far and wide who came to join us for the celebration, and, in spite of the rain, spirits were high throughout, and the sense of devotion and reverence was awesome. From our vantage-point from our seminary-on-the-hill, the Archbishop raised the monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament over Birmingham, and the city was blessed; the heavens, too, provided its own, unique, sign of approval. Fortunately, Our Lord was protected by a canopy throughout, and stayed nice and dry.

Though we are away for Corpus Christi next year, we hope to continue the tradition of public processions. This was my first Quarantore experience. Maybe some of our readers would like to share anything similar from their own parishes from this last week.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Diocesan Pilgrimage to Walsingham

It's very rare that many photo opportunities crop up, for some reason, but here is a nice one, taken from our recent Diocesan Pilgrimage to Walsingham, not only with all the E.A. Seminarians, but also with Bishop Michael, and Our Lady herself.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Gone fishin'

The house was lucky enough this past Sunday to welcome Fr Gerard Bradley, Spiritual Director of Wonersh, to give a day of recollection. As the season of Easter moves on, and the impact of Easter day itself begins to fade a little in our minds, it is the perfect time to consider that all the work we put in during Lent should be reaped about now.

Fr Gerard used the Gospel of day, which is the story from John 21, including that beautiful dialogue between the risen Jesus and Simon Peter..."do you love me?"

The world of the apostles has fallen apart, and they are racked by the memory of their denials of Christ, especially Peter, who says that he's going fishing.

The fishermen are experts; they fish in the night when the fish are near the surface (they are in the shallows, like the faith of those who fish them). But fishing in the dark, they cannot see anything.

The day dawns; the sun is just up:

The sun is risen.

The Son is risen! Alleluia!

He is out of the depths of sin and death: this is the day!

Wake up! Alleluia!

Jesus is the person with the fullness of light.

Our faith is the light of the risen Christ which dawns inside, allowing us to see as the Father sees. The fishermen do as he says, and they succeed. Jesus is no fisherman. Yet the expert fishermen accept what he has to say, accepting his orders which are beyond their natural talents and abilities, beyond the security of their capacity. They have failed, but now they succeed: the Christian life is based on disaster and failure, for though these we grow.

Christ is doing the fishing here.

They cast their nets on the right side of the boat, like he says. They use their right side, their right hand.

They will bless with their right hand

They will forgive with their right hand.

They will anoint with their right hand.

Those in the household of grace are woken by grace. Many Christians have not woken up yet, and their faith seems undeveloped, like they are looking at this scene through the keyhole.

But Christ is the door.

He is the daystar! Alleluia!

Jesus' deepest desire is to be fruitful in the world... through you.

So cast your nets, in the ways he is asking you to.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Happy St Joseph's Day!

From St Bernardine of Siena's sermon in today's Office of Readings:

"What then is Joseph’s position in the whole Church of Christ? Is he not a man chosen and set apart? Through him and, yes, under him, Christ was fittingly and honourably introduced into the world. Holy Church in its entirety is indebted to the Virgin Mother because through her it was judged worthy to receive Christ. But after her we undoubtedly owe special gratitude and reverence to Saint Joseph.

In him the Old Testament finds its fitting close. He brought the noble line of patriarchs and prophets to its promised fulfilment. What the divine goodness had offered as a promise to them, he held in his arms."

Friday, 12 March 2010

Acolyte Retreat

Tomorrow the third year go away on a weekend pre-Acolyte retreat to Mount St Bernard's abbey. The ministry of Acolyte, which we receive in the summer, is a ministry of assisting the priest and deacon in the celebration of Mass, and acting as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist where the need arises. We went to Mount St Bernard's for our Lecorate retreat last year and had a great time - the Cistercian abbey is situated in a beautiful part of Leicestershire, and it is inspiring to see the self-sufficiency of the monks, who keep cows, chickens and bees among other things as a way of earning their living. Oh, and of course they get up at 3.30 in the morning to pray Vigils! Let's see if we can make it to that (though I at least plan on going back to bed afterward...).

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

True Humanity

I referred in a previous post to Pope Benedict's recent 'lection divina' to the priests of Rome, in which he reflects on the nature of the priesthood in the light of the Letter to the Hebrews. In one point during the meditation he touches on the Church's anthropology, her understanding of what it is to be human:
'[...] the priest must be man, human in all senses. [...] the question of "what man is" is obscured by the event of sin that hurt human nature even to the quick. Thus people say: "he lied" "it is human"; "he stole" "it is human"; but this is not really being human. Human means being generous, being good, being a just person, it means true prudence and wisdom.'

Sin never makes us more human, as the Pope emphasises, but rather it makes us less human. How can this be so? Well, we must understand humanity in the Thomistic sense as having a nature and purpose given it by God. What are we here for? To know, love and serve God, and to be happy with Him. If we are sinning therefore - not knowing, loving or serving God - we are falling short of our natural purpose, and therefore falling short of our humanity.

There is indeed another common understanding of human than the one used to excuse sin. People often say as a compliment of a person that 'he is a true human being', meaning, he has a heart, he understands people, he is compassionate. This is what the saints were, themselves examples of true humanity, not staid and boring and plasticine like some depictions of them in convenional art, but radiating the beautiful life of God which we are all called to share in. Maybe we can keep this in mind as we persevere in our lenten penances, knowing that the closer we come to God the more free we are to be who we were really created to be.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Kalendarium of Karol Wojtyla

Sorry for the lull in the Daily Julian; she's kind of in third heaven at the moment and it's hard finding a snippet that will be readily understandable in a post!
On another note, I bought a bargain book the other day in St Paul's bookshop: The Making of the Pope of the Millenium: Kalendarium of the life of Karol Wojtyla. It is a chronologically ordered collection of the Pope's own words or writings, other's testimonies about him, and biographical facts of his life in an 800 page tome that gives some very interesting insights into his personality and spiritual journey. As the extracts are fairly brief, it is a book that one can easily dip in and out of. And it's only £10. Bargain!

In one extract from a letter just after he was ordained, Fr Karol said of the priesthood (after apologising for his inability to see the friend to whom he was writing):

"... a priest should be present in life in general, a hidden, driving force. Yes, despite all appearances, that is the main duty of the priesthood. Hidden forces usually produce the strongest actions."

Friday, 5 March 2010

The Reward of Suffering

From Julian of Norwich, Chapter 48:

"I saw without any doubt that just as, on the one hand, our perversity results in pain, shame and sorrow for us here on earth, so, on the other hand, grace produces in far greater measure heaven's consolation, praise and bliss - so much so that when we come to receive the sweet reward that grace has won for us we shall thank and bless God, endlessly rejoicing that we endured suffering. It is part of the nature of this blessed love that in God we shall have knowledge that we should never have known if we had not first suffered."

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Empty Prayer is the Best Kind

A gem from Julian of Norwich, Chapter 41:

"Our prayer makes our Lord very glad and happy. He expects it and wants to have it because it is his holy will to make us, by his grace, as like him in the way we feel as we are like him in our basic nature. Therefore he says, "Pray inwardly, from the heart, even when you have no taste for it; it is good for you - yes, even when you feel nothing, and see nothing, and think you just cannot do it. For in those dry, empty, sick and weak times your prayer is most pleasing to me, though you think it has added little enough to your life. This is true for all your believing prayer.

...God accepts the good intentions and effort of his servants - regardless of our feelings."

How true it is that we often come to prayer reluctant, or distracted, or without feeling much of anything. We do not often see the fruit of our prayers in a tangible way. But if we persevere in prayer then surely one day we will come before the Lord as in the parable of the Last Judgment , and he will remind us of the many occasions we have spent with Him. We might say, 'When, Lord, did I spend so much time with you?' And he will say, 'All those times you gave yourself to me in prayer, though you thought it a waste of time and came away from it feeling no closer to me than before you prayed. But I was listening to you, and speaking to you.' Likewise, if we fail to persevere in prayer, the Lord will say to us that he does not know us. To our remonstrance that we have led a good Christian life, he will reply, 'There were many opportunities for you you to spend time with me in conversation, and every time you told yourself that there were other things to do, that I would understand, that there would be time later. As I result you were a stranger who never let me come to know you.' May we be able to look back and say that we did indeed give time to God, that we were friends of God.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Repentance, Compassion, Longing for God

Sorry for the lack of a post yesterday... I'm in London with less internet access for the week. Here's the reflection from Julian of Norwich for today:

"But just as it seems we are about to be forsaken and cast off - which is, after all, what our sin deserves - with the tenderest love, our Lord keeps hold of us. In this way we learn humility, and because of this we are lifted up high in God's sight, by his grace, and know a very deep repentance, compassion, and true longing for God. Then suddenly we are delivered from sin and pain and raised to bliss and made equal to the great saints!

By repentance we are made clean; by compassion we are made ready; by true longing for God we are made fit for him. As I see it, it is by these three steps that a soul can enter into heaven - I mean those who are sinners on earth who are going to be saved. Every sinful soul must be healed by these medicines. Yet though God has healed him, God still sees his wounds. But now they are wounds no longer: they are trophies. Everything is turned upside down."

Chapter 39

Today at the Mass I attended in London, the priest spoke of compassion, in relation to the Gospel, as an ability to 'suffer with' Christ - not the state of being nice to people or have nice feelings. We have to share the passion of Christ with Him, and then share it with others, by seeing his passion in their own difficulties. Pope Benedict's recent Lenten lectio divina to the priests in Rome speaks of how the priesthood of Christ was rooted in his ability to have compassion for mankind as their mediator to God. As the Letter to the Hebrews says, he interceded for men with 'tears and groans', and we see this when he wept for Lazarus at the tomb, or begged forgiveness to the Father for the soldiers who nailed him to the cross.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

God longs for us

Julian of Norwich speaks in Chapter 31 of Revelations of Divine Love of God's longing for us to be happy with him:

"...As certainly as God has the attribute of deep concern and pity so he has the attribute of longing and thirst. (And by virtue of this longing within Christ we in turn long for him: without it no soul comes to heaven.) This quality of longing and thirst comes from God's eternal goodness, just as pity does. Though longing and pity are different, spiritual thirst comes from them both together. It is a deep desire which continues as long as we are in need, drawing us up into his eternal happiness. All this was revealed in the Revelation of his compassion and it will cease on Judgement Day."

Friday, 26 February 2010

The Crosses We Carry

From Julian of Norwich:

"I could now understand why our Lord rejoices with pity and compassion over the tribulation of his servants. In order to bring his loved ones to his eternal happiness God lays on each one something for which he himself does not blame them but which causes them to be blamed, despised, scorned, mocked and rejected in the world. This he does to prevent their being harmed by the empty pomp and pride of this wretched life, and to prepare them to enter into heaven, into endless happiness. For our Lord Christ says, 'I will completely break you form your empty passions and your vicious pride, and then I will gather you together and make you gentle and humble, pure and holy through your union with me.'"

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Christ's joy in Mary

From Julian of Norwich today:

"When our good Lord had revealed this and asked, 'Would you like to see her?' I answered, 'Yes, good Lord, thank you very much. Yes, good Lord, if it is your will.' I had prayed for this frequently, expecting to see her in person, but it never happened. But through these words Jesus gave me a spiritual vision of her. When I saw her before she had been lowly and simple. Now he revealed her exalted, noble, and glorious, more pleasing to him than all other creatures. He wants everyone to know this, so that all who take delight in him should take delight in her, and delight in the joy that he receives from her and she from him.

To help us understand more clearly, he gave this illustration: a man who loves another person above all others will want everyone else to love and enjoy that person whom he loves so much.

...Our Lord showed me nothing special, except our Lady St Mary herself, whom he revealed three times: first, when she was pregnant; second, in grief under the cross; and third, as she is now, filled with delight, praise and joy."

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

The Trinity's Pleasure

Fom Julian of Norwich today:

"It is Jesus' will that we should take careful note of the happiness of the blessed Trinity over our salvation and, as I have already said, that we should desire to receive the same spiritual happiness, by his grace. I mean that as far as is possible on this earth our enjoyment of our salvation should be similar to the joy which Christ has in our salvation.

The whole Trinity was involved in the Passion of Christ, imparting abundant virtues to us and overflowing grace, by him; but only the Virgin's Son suffered, and this made all the blessed Trinity rejoice for ever. All this was revealed to me in these words: 'Are you pleased?' and later, 'If you are, then so am I.' It was as if Christ had said: 'This is all the joy and delight I want. All I ask for all my sufferings is that I may please you.'

And in this he brought to my mind the character of a glad giver. The one who gives gladly pays little attention to what he is giving. His entire prupose and desire is to please and to satisfy the one whom he is offering the gift. If the recipient accepts the gift gladly and gratefully, then the kind giver counts all the expense and hard work as nothing. The joy and delight that comes from pleasing and satisfying the one whom he loves is reward enough. This was revealed to me absolutely clearly."

Monday, 22 February 2010

The Suffering Christ

Sorry for the lateness of today's post - we've had a nice evening with the Bishop who is up at Oscott and I forgot to post something beforehand...

Here is a passage in which Julian of Norwich reflects on her vision of the suffering Christ:

"This vision of Christ's pains filled me with anguish. For though I was fully aware that he suffered only once, it seemed that he wanted to show it to me and fill my mind with it, as indeed I had requested. And all the time I saw Christ's sufferings, his was the only pain I felt. Then I thought, 'Little did I realise what the pain was that I had been asking for,' and fool that I am I immediately regretted my request, thinking, 'If I had known what it was, I would have thought twice about asking for it.' For it seemed to me that the pain I now felt passed way beyond physical death. I thought, 'Can there be any pain like this?' The answer came into my mind: 'There is the pain of hell - that is another pain again, for there is despair in that.' But of all the pains that lead to salvation, the greatest pain of all is to see the one you love suffer. How could there be any greater pain than the pain of seeing him who is all my life, all my bliss, all my joy, suffer in such a way? In absolute truth, I felt that I loved Christ so much more than I loved myself that no suffering I could ever endure would equal the sorrow I felt when I saw him in pain."

Sunday, 21 February 2010

The Devil's Sorrow

Today's excerpt from Revelations of Divine Love:

"Our Lord showed that it is his Passion which overcomes the devil, and that the devil is as malicious now as ever he was before the incarnation. However hard he works, he continually sees all souls escape him to God's glory saved by the power of Christ's precious Passion. This is the devil's sorrow and shameful horror, for everything which God permits him to do turns to joy for us and rebounds on him in disgrace and pain. And his sorrow is just as great when God allows him to work as when he doesn't, because he can never do all the evil he wants to do, for God has the devil's power locked in his control.

But as I see it, there is no anger in God. For our dear Lord always works for his own glory and the good of those who are going to be saved. With his power and justice he opposes the malice and malignity of the damned who busily scheme and machinate against him. I saw our Lord scorn the devil's malice, and reduce his empty power to nothing; and he wants us to do the same. When I saw this I burst out laughing and that made everyone around me laugh too and their laughter gave me great pleasure..."

Saturday, 20 February 2010

'Seeking is open to everyone'

Here is today's excerpt from Julian of Norwich, reflecting on her second vision of Christ's passion:

"This vision shows us that there are two activities: one is seeking, the other is seeing. Seeking is open to everyone. It is something that everyone can do, with the grace of God, and everyone ought to have guidance and teaching about it from Holy Church.

As we seek God it is his will that we do three things: first, that by his grace we apply ourselves seriously to the task of seeking him and not in a lethargic way, not weighed down by unnecessary heaviness and usleless depression. Second, that to the end of our lives we resolutely wait for him, out of love for him, without grumbling or pulling against him, for this life is so short anyway. Third, that we trust him utterly out of complete faith in him. For he wants us to know that he will appear unexpectedly, bringing perfect happiness to all who love him.

For he works in secret and yet wants to be perceived. He will come back suddenly. And he wants to be trusted, for he is such a gracious and loving friend. Praise him!"

Friday, 19 February 2010

Lenten Spiritual Reading

We are reviving the resolution we had last Lent of including each day on the blog an excerpt from our Lenten spiritual reading. Last year the seminary community read St Francis de Sales' Introduction to the Devout Life. This year we are reading, as Simon has already pointed out, Julian of Norwich's Revelations of Divine Love. I hope some of you find it helpful to follow our our reading of it here! This is the excerpt for today, written by Julian as a reflection upon seeing a vision of Our Lord crowned with thorns:

"We are able to pray to God because of his holy incarnation, his precious blood, his holy Passion, his beloved death and wounds. And all our holy kinship with him, the eternal life that is the result of this, springs from his goodness. We pray to him because of the love of his sweet mother who bore him, and all the help that she gives us from his goodness. We pray by his holy cross on which he died, and all the help and strength that that cross gives us, comes from his goodness. In the same way, all the help that we have from special saints and all the holy company of heaven, the dear love, the holy and never-failing friendship that they give us, all stem from God's goodness. For God in his goodness has chosen many wonderful ways to help us to approach him. But the principle way is the holy nature which he took from the virgin Mary, with all the resulting means of grace which are part of out redemption and endless salvation. So it pleases him that we should seek him and praise him in these ways, knowing that he is the goodness behind it all.

To focus on the goodness of God is the highest form of prayer, and God's goodness comes down to meet us at our most basic need. It gives life to the soul and makes it live and grow in grace and virtue. God's goodness is closest to our human nature, and the most ready to bring us grace. It is that same grace which we seek now and will always seek until we know for certain that our God had completely enfolded us in himself."

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Short Video of Life at Oscott Seminary

Click on the link above for a short video produced by the Birmingham vocations office about life in Oscott. It's been quite well put together I think, and provides parts of conversations with several seminarians, as well as film clips of liturgy and community activities which take place on a day to day basis. (Look out for the Fishers of Men hat-tip after the words, 'We live in a world that is very noisy...')

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

I longed to suffer with him...

This year's Lenten reading at Oscott reminds us East Anglian seminarians of home. The whole house this season are reading Mother Julian's Revelations of Divine Love.

We don't know much about Mother Julian of Norwich, except that Julian wasn't her real name, and she probably wasn't a mother, neither in the physical sense nor the monastic sense. She was an anchoress (a type of hermit), who lived near the Church of St Julian (hence her name) in Norwich, at the end of the 14th Century.

The only other thing we know about her is that her intimate love with God caused her great suffering, in which she rejoiced, because the Lord had revealed his love for her. She was famous among her contemporaries, and served as a spiritual director to many, including Margery Kempe (the famous chronicler). Later in life, she recorded these divine revelations in a book which may even have been the first book in English written by a woman. She remained 'undiscovered' until the 20th Century, and a devotion to this holy hermit quickly developed, serving, as she intended, to lead people to taste God's love.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Baseball player goes to seminary

Grant Desme, a minor league baseball player who was on the edge of joining the Big Leagues, has quit his successful stint on the field in order to become a priest. The Most Valuable Player of last year's Arizona Fall League, with numerous home runs and stolen bases, now wants to bat for the Church. He said that he could no longer fight the sense that God was calling him to a different life: "I felt that while baseball is a good thing, I thought it was selfish of me to be doing that when I really felt that God was calling me more." Though he enjoys the sport, as a lifelong Catholic with a strong faith his only desire is to do what God asks of him. "I love the game, but I aspire to higher things," he said. "I know I have no regrets."
What I found even more amazing was that this was reported on the BBC!