Thursday, 30 June 2011

Jubilarians' Mass

Priests of East Anglia (photo from the Mass with the relics of St Therese)

Today I got to go to a Mass at Walsingham for 4 priests of the diocese celebrating 40 years of priesthood: Msgr Tony Rogers, Fr Peter Brown, Fr Bernard Rolls, and Fr David Middleton. A good proportion of the diocesan clergy were there, and two of us seminarians. It was a nice occasion for fellowship, and there was a lunch in the Pilgrim Bureau after the Mass.  

At the other end of the scale, this weekend we will go to the first of two ordinations from the college, as two men prepare to set out on that unexpected adventure of the priesthood! 

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Ss Peter and Paul

Happy Solemnity!

Today we celebrated the memory and ask for the intercession of Ss Peter and Paul, the two pillars of the apostolic Church. We often see Peter's role as maintaining the tradition of the Church and bringing the Jewish people to the fulness of faith in Christ, and Paul's role as spreading the Gospel to the wider world, particularly the pagans. But in reality both apostles did both these things. People nowadays like to label each other as Liberal or Conservative. We could say that both apostles were "conservative" (in the true sense of the word) in handing on the faith and the tradition as they had received it, and "liberal" in preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the "glad tidings" (evangelion) that changes the whole world. To be one or the other is to be merely political. To be both insofar as is appropriate to each is to be Catholic. Tradition and grace do not exist without one another.

"It was God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the work of handing on this reconciliation." (2 Cor 4: 18)

Monday, 27 June 2011

The Power of the Cross

For a few weeks now it has been known that Fr John Corapi, the popular TV evangelist who often appeared on EWTN, and who was suspended from ministry due to an abuse allegation, has decided to resign from priestly ministry. This will be a shock to many, and I haven't read enought to know all the details, but the gist of it seems to be that he feels he can be more effective if he resigns from ministry and takes up an apostolate as an evangelist on his new website, Black SheepDog. In this way he refuses to "crawl under a rock and die" because he still believes he has "something to offer".

I don't want to criticise Fr Corapi, not knowing the ins and outs, and I know other seminarians and I have been encouraged by his witness to the faith in his preaching. But it is sad to see a priest resign from ministry, even if his faculties were already suspended. Surely the Cross is most present in the priest's ministry when he is helpless, and the power of the Crucified most evident in his weakness. That is not the same as "crawling under a rock to die", though this is how the world, without a supernatural perspective, is bound to see the situation. Rather, it is to be "odedient unto death, even death on a cross" (Philippians 2) as Christ was, and to imitate the martyrs who "loved not their lives even unto death" (Revelation 12).

In an article in the Catholic Herald this weekend there was a quote from Sue Ryder to the effect that, "Our tragedy is not that we suffer, but that we waste suffering". Only someone with faith can understand this. I suspect that Fr Corapi's fidelity to his priesthood in the face of suffering would be inestimably more fruitful that any number of autobiographies or apostolic websites.

We cannot know if Fr Corapi is in fact innocent, but we can pray for Fr Corapi, as well as for all priests who feel powerless and abandoned.

Roll On September

On Saturday we finished the year at Oscott, and one more deacon was acquired for the Church (Rev Michael Glover for Birmingham Archdiocese). This marks the end of the community as we know it, for in September the community will be twice as big, with the arrival of Ushaw and others! The singing in the chapel will no doubt be a lot louder. It promises to be a wonderful and exciting time, on top of the excitement of having the ordinary of the Mass in the new revised translation (it doesn't take much to make me happy)! In the meantime, there are priestly ordinations to attend, including our very own Rev Padraig Hawkins on Saturday 9th July! Keep him in your prayers please as that day approaches.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Oscotian Day

Yesterday was the Feast of Ss John Fisher and Thomas More, as everyone knows. It was also the birthday of Blessed Dominic Barberi. It was also Oscotian Day. Those who studied at the college, priests and also some laymen, came back to celebrate the heritage of Oscott, to meet in fraternity, and to remember their own time here (hopefully with fondness). Msgr Philip Shryane from Bury St Edmunds was the president this year and celebrated the Mass. At lunch the rector looked back over the past year, a 'fairly quiet year' he said tongue in cheek, only the Papal Visit and two successful Invocation events to account for, as well as frantic preparations for a seminary community twice its present size come September...

There were I think seven East Anglians up here for the day, and it was great to see them, especially as last year they were on the diocesan retreat and could not come. The lunch was a real occassion for comraderie, and makes the day one of the highpoints of the college year.

Long may Oscott serve the Church faithfully in England, Scotland and Wales, preparing men to be Her priests.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The Nuncio and Adoration

As Simon has already posted, we had a wonderful Invocation event for young people at the weekend, which concluded with the Nuncio's celebration of Mass on Trinity Sunday. I was struck by some of his words in the homily about Adoration. Here is the paragraph:

"I should like to commend to you the practice of Eucharistic Adoration which you have experienced during this weekend of discernment. Adoration draws us away from external distractions into a growing communion with Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament. Encourage your friends to join you in this practice. In Eucharistic Adoration, whatever our personal circumstances, we are drawn out of ourselves towards the Sacramental Presence of Christ who came so that we might have life."

It is encouraging to see an Archbishop so frank about the importance of Adoration, even to the point of encouraging us to share its importance with others. It is in the Eucharist that we find the answer to our very existence, an existence which is founded on a relationship with Another. Bishop Mark Davies made this point very well the day before. The Nuncio was very gracious after the Mass, and made a point of meeting many of the young discerners during lunch, including a group of East Anglians. He even seemed to appreciate our invitation for him to visit East Anglia!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Finding true life...

Invocation saw a number of key-not speeches. Today's speaker - a consecrated layperson - talked of living in the world, but not being of it, and the importance of being true to your vocation in life: priestly, religious or lay. All vocations are equal in dignity; they are all different, but one is not 'more important' than the other.

Pope Benedict bestowed his Apostolic blessing on the gathering, and the presence of many bishops, along with the Nuncio himself today, demonstrates the vital importance the Church's hierarchy places on young people and discernment.

Today, I was reminded of something which was quite important to me on my vocational journey to seminary, which was Pope Benedict's homily at the opening of his pontificate 6 years ago. He said:

If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation. And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life. Amen.


Well, Invocation 2011 is all over.

The Apostolic Nuncio has just celebrated Sunday Mass for the attendees. Here are a few of some of the first pictures of the event:

Archbishop Longley opened the event with Vespers on Friday;
I'm not sure how many turned up, but the chapel seemed pretty full to me!
Later that evening, Fr John Hemer, a Mill Hill missionary, and former
Oscott lecturer presented a talk about finding your vocation in the modern world.

Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury celebrated Mass 
of the Dedication of the Cathedral on Saturday.
Where the Holy Eucharist is found you will also find the answer to the greatest
question of your life-time. Here you will find your true vocation. 
St. John Vianney...used to point to the Altar and Tabernacle...and say:
“He is here, He is here, the One who loves us so much, He is here.”
The question which King Solomon had asked before the altar he built: 

“Will God really live with men on earth?” is answered beyond all imagining in the Eucharist. 
And you’ll notice in the Gospel that it is in the very moment that
Simon Peter recognises who Jesus truly is, 
“you are the Christ, the Son of the living God,”
that he also discovers who he truly is, his own unexpected vocation, 

“you are Peter,” the rock on which the Church will be built.

The Chapel was full; plenty of extra seating was provided.
On Saturday night, we "walked with God" in a torch-lit 
Eucharisticprocession around the grounds.

We finished up with benediction, of the congregation and the city,
from the front of the college. 
Archbishop Mennini, the Apostolic Nuncio 
(the Papal representative in Great Britain),
celebrated Mass on Sunday.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Send forth your spirit, O Lord

Today is Pentecost.

The Easter season comes to an end, but Christ, who has ascended to the Father, promises to send the Advocate, an event which is commemorated today, bringing to completion the Paschal mystery: "The Holy Spirit prepares us with his grace in order to draw us to Christ. He manifests the risen Lord to us, opening our minds. He makes present the mystery of Christ. And he reconciles us, bringing us into communion with God."

The Liturgy, the most perfect form of worship which we can offer to the Father, expresses most perfectly the meaning of a celebration, and today is no different. The new translation of today's preface of the Mass, addressed to the Father, reads:

Bringing your Paschal mystery to completion, you bestowed the Holy Spirit today on those you made your adopted children by uniting them to your Only Begotten Son. This same Spirit, as the Church came to birth, opened to all peoples the knowledge of God and brought together the many languages of the earth in profession of the one faith.

The Roman liturgy is as succinct as ever in its simple and noble expressions.

Tonight, those to be ordained, which, for our diocese, includes Pádraig, make their Profession of Faith at Vespers. This is a public act, sworn on Holy Scripture, proclaimed aloud and written in their own hand, of their fidelity to Christ and the Church, before they are called to be ordained in a few weeks.

High Mass in the Slipper Chapel:
Oscott on pilgrimage to Walsingham in the 1930s.
It was on this pilgrimage that Oscott donated a processional cross
to the shrine, which is still used today. Hopefully, we will use it tomorrow!
This evening also sees the arrival of the students from Ushaw who will be joining us in September. They are spending the whole week with us at Oscott. We will be spending the middle of the week undertaking more pastoral study days on the new English translation of the Roman Missal. Tomorrow, however, we are all traveling to Walsingham together on pilgrimage, to ask Our Lady's intercession for our community and the needs of the world. We are looking forward to being back in East Anglia, even for only a few hours!

At the end of this week, we are hosting Invocation! Please keep all these intentions in your prayers this week.

Spiritus Domini, the Introit Antiphon for the second Mass of Pentecost, which was sung at Mass at Oscott today, it reads:
The Spirit of the Lord has filled the whole world, alleluia, and that which contains all things has knowledge of the voice, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. Let God arise and let his enemies be scattered: and let them that hate him flee before his face, alleluia.

From the Dominicans

Our friends in Blackfriars have produced an excellent short video showing their way of life and charism in the Order of Preachers; you may want to take a look:

Friday, 10 June 2011

Ministries Mass

Yesterday, the second year, including Simon and Ben, were instituted into the Ministry of Lector by Bishop Pargeter, and Long, from fourth year (Birmingham) was instituted into the Ministry of Acolyte.

More on the run

On your marks...!

Ben comes in on his bike
Weeks of training paid off for Father Rector!

An almost photo finish!

Father Spiritual Director close behind!

Rev. Hawkins just isn't convinced

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Man in Cassocks 10k run

Today, we ran for 10 kilometres around the college grounds to raise money for our charities.

Ben cycled round, while all those hours in the gym paid off for Henry and Pádraig, who completed the seven laps in well under an hour. Well done you! Simon elected to walk around at a gentleman's pace, and brought up the rear at just over an hour; he has decided to spend more time in the gym in future!

If you would like to donate to our charities (Aid to the Church in Need and the Andrew Robinson Trust), please contact the Chairman of Oscott Action for Justice and Peace, at the college address, shown in the side-bar.

Pictures will follow soon no doubt, so watch this space!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

A different kind of vocation...

With Invocation 2011 less that 2 weeks away now (!), here is a short documentary on the life of a hermit priest who lives in Ireland. I haven't managed to find a tenuous link with East Anglia as yet, but it sheds a some light on a very different kind of vocation some in our diocese and beyond may be called to in the future...