Father Ed's Blog

A Catholic priest reflects…

Month: February 2016 (Page 1 of 2)

Beware pervert tutors

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Given that the Metropolitan University of Manchester now considers swinging an activity suitable for promotion to its students, one must ask who is going to protect the young adults from the menace of perverted and sick minded tutors? Has the academic world lost all sense of it’s moral and pastoral duty to the young?

The scandal I refer to centres on a course of study in which participants are encouraged to embrace promiscuity as a healthy means of furthering one’s life and career. The title of this seedy little course, which claims to be over-subscribed, is the Polyamory, Concensual Non-Monogamy and Relationship Anarchy Event.

It is being held as part of the MMU futures programme, something run by the University to encourage the development of ‘life skills’. To this end participants, on each of the various courses that make up the MMU programme, gain ‘points’ which count towards their academic progress. Those enrolling in this grubby Polyamory course are informed that taking “full part” will provide “extra points”. The mind boggles..

The course is running from January to March and boasts a panel of so called “esteemed speakers” led by one Dr. Christian Klesse, a sociology expert who is on the staff at the University. His event is being advertised with the slogan “Many people feel drawn towards building intimidate relationships that include mutual arrangements on emotional and/or sexual non-exclusivity. This event will explore questions regarding concensually non-monogamous ways of life, from academic, cultural and political perspectives.

The Polyamory, Concensual Non-Monogamy and Relationship Anarchy Event is just one of several centred on a recreational approach to sex. It therefore becomes clear that the Metropolitan University of Manchester has now fully embraced the worst excesses of the sexual revolution and believes that encouraging promiscuity amongst the younger generation falls within it’s remit.

University staff  have a duty to introduce students to a rich variety of experiences and academic opinions. The best institutions being those that foster genuine free thinking space. But young minds are impressionable and also require guidance through the academic process. It is here tutors earn their salt. If students are to thrive they must learn to sidestep that which is dangerous and unworthy of academic scrutiny. Consider the threat of Islamic radicalisation as one good example. Surely Britain’s parents send children to University to improve their minds not that they might be led into a life of vice and/or fall prey to the more seedy notions of perverted academic staff?

What possible benefit is there then in this promotion of sexual acts as mere recreation? It is to the shame of Manchester Metropolitan University that it is serving up this puerile tripe. This course might be dressed up in the language of learning but there is nothing virtuous here only the tawdry and the carnal.

One student told a reporter ‘I know you’re meant to experiment when you’re a student, but this just seems creepy and a bit weird.’ I would go further. Your university is failing you by encouraging this filth. Might it not be an act of abuse?

The illusion of choice…

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton looks through a teleprompter before discussing the Iran nuclear agreement at the Brookings Institution in Washington, September 9, 2015. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

How can it possibly be that the leadership race in the most powerful nation on earth comes down to a ‘choice’ between the serially dishonest Hilary Clinton and the dangerously nutty Donald Trump?  This fact alone is proof that the democratic political process needs fixing in the 21st Century. Why I could find you several better candidates from my small congregation on any given Sunday! Seriously. I could. People of integrity and virtue who put these egos to shame.

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It strikes me that the whole thing is rigged and has been for some time. The electorate is not given real choice only the illusion of choice. It is a circus act in which the media plays its part; moulding opinion, diverting attention and telling the people what they should think. The King is dead- long live the King! For these are Orwellian times in which books like 1984 look eerily prophetic.

The lunatic Trump, a personal friend of the Clintons and a one time Democrat, was first rolled out and treated like novelty. All hail the great big idiot- and unbelievably it worked. The republican vote was split and he gained the necessary momentum. But I suspect he is not the first choice candidate for the giant corporations that  run the civilised world. So the rhetoric will change; ‘time for the joke to end guys’… and Hilary will be presented as the only serious choice. How masterfully will her own toxicity have been diluted…not that it will make much difference if Trump were elected instead. Both dance to the tune of the strings that pull them.

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Here in the UK and the media is going into overdrive on Brexit. Will the UK leave Europe or stay within? A decision that seems only to impact the rich and the powerful despite the loud rhetoric on both sides of the debate. But again the main parties are savvy. If the electorate choose out then the Tories have Boris lined up. Should they opt in then Cameron becomes the great hero instead. Either way not much changes in terms of our leadership.

All of which is to say; I think the people of the West deserve more, in terms of honest political process, than seems to be available at present.

Fr Barron on Lent

Apologies for a lack of activity this last week, something of a plague has fallen on the household and we are all overcoming a virus at present. But despite these frailties Lent continues. So I hand over to the skilled communicator Father Robert Barron to give some worthy input for today.

 

The Pope’s special friend

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The BBC’s Panorama programme caused a stir last week when it highlighted correspondence revealing an intimate friendship between Pope John Paul II and a female Polish philosopher, Anna Teresa Tymieniecka.The friendship apparently began in 1973 when she contacted the future Pope to seek his advice on a book. It sparked a lifelong friendship. Which is hardly shocking given the amount they both had in common; both survived occupation in Poland; both were academics interested in philosophy and life and, of course, both were devout Catholics.

When Wojtyla later led a meeting of bishops in America, he was invited by Tymieniecka to stay at her family home in Vermont. He accepted. During this visit they got to know each other in person, enjoying excursions into the great outdoors- ever his love- and photographing nature. But again none of this is surprising; it is simply what friends do. Why then the Panaroma programme?

Because there was something unique and special in this friendship. When reading the letters it is not hard to imagine that, if God had not called Wojtyla into the  priesthood, this bond may have blossomed into more, maybe even marriage. But understand the path was not open and these were people of great integrity. And so, instead, the two forged the strongest of friendships. He would go on to be Pope. She to a happy marriage with a Harvard academic and three children. How wonderful!

But the BBC, delighting in mischief, wants to make more of it. And so the programme hinted at impropriety, claiming the two were in love and might have struggled to keep the friendship platonic. And because they have only seen one side of the correspondence, Wojtyla’s letters to Tymieniecka, they delight in imagining the other half could be explosive! And so, without a shred of evidence that it is so, a hatchet job was done on the reputation of one of the finest figures in modern history. It is a disgrace and all involved should aim for better than this.

Oh- and it did not surprise me for one moment that the fingerprints of the Tablet were all over it…there are few involved in that magazine who truly love the church.

When asked for comment the Vatican responded that they had always been aware of the friendship between them. So what?! meanwhile a biographer of the late Pope, Jimmy Burns, helpfully pointed out that the letters were actually positive. “If he managed to have a good, strong emotional relationship, without breaking his vows, it humanises him”, he said. I agree.

What all of this reveals to me is not scandal on the part of the great Saint – any close analysis of his life reveals him to be a man of the greatest integrity. Rather it reveals the sorrowful state of friendship itself within an over-sexualised post-Christian culture. It is a point Antony Esolen makes in his excellent book, defending marriage: 12 arguments for sanity.

In it, as I have mentioned before, he suggests that loss of intimate friendship is one of the grave wounds in modern society. A wound caused by the sexual revolution. For prior to the revolution people readily understood and accepted platonic friendship, but since then they we have struggled to believe that intimacy can flourish without a sexual agenda. What a great pity this is and how it brings every person down to the playground level. The pointing of fingers and giggling presumption of sex where it is simply not to be found.

And so it is that wholly innocent and virtuous unions are increasingly sullied by scandalous suggestion. Consider how, in the literary world,the intimacy of married Samwise Gamgees and Frodo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings is now regularly cited as proof of homosexual subtext. Even though the author would have shuddered at the thought!

Or consider how David and Jonathon in scripture have shifted from being mere friends, as they were for nearly two thousand years, to having become obvious lovers to those who hunger to find evidence of a certain lifestyle choice. As with Pope John Paul II, this happens though there is not one real scrap of evidence to support such an argument.

And of course there is the patron of the Ordinariate, Blessed John Henry Newman. That devout and holy man who, because he desired to be buried with a dear friend Ambrose St. John, is now also open to smearing. Nobody who understands Newman properly could suspect any sexual angle to their friendship- for Newman was a disciplined child of the church who ever sought to follow its teaching. But that hasn’t stopped many in the modern world from proclaiming him to be gay.  The activist Peter Tatchell even lambasting the Vatican for attempting to exhume his grave and separate him from “his lover” It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

Sad and silly because it smears people and also smears our understanding. This  childish desire to make all friendships sexual kills of real friendship at its root. Soon people are afraid to be intimate for fear of insinuation and gossip. They even begin to question there own motive and see what might not even be there. And so it is that loneliness increases and our scope for intimacy is blunted. A high price to pay for a purile fascination in the lives of other people.

Welcome +Michael Nazir-Ali

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It was a great honour for our little parish in Pembury to welcome a theological heavy-weight to Mass this morning. Our guest was Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali. A great friend of the Ordinariate he addressed both congregations, after Mass, and delivered a stirring speech on the need to confess our faith in Christ Jesus without compromise.

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Bishop Michael was, for 15 years, the Anglican  Bishop of Rochester. Originally from Asia he was the first non-white Diocesan Bishop in the Church of England. Prior to this he was  General Secretary of the Christian Missionary Society and prior to that a Bishop of Raiwind in Pakistan. After stepping down as bishop of Rochester he founded a charity, Oxtrad, and now works supporting the education and formation of leadership within Christian communities where they encounter persecution. It was interesting to hear of his recent visit to church run refugee camps in Northern Iraq where he witnessed first hand the work of ‘Aid to the Church in Need’. Which had been our parish charity for Advent and Christmas.

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I will attempt to paraphrase Bishop Michael’s address- but understand this will not do it justice!

+Michael focused on the gospel reading for this first Sunday of Advent. He helped us to see how the temptations Christ faced will often confront us too. We are not to give into the temptation to live on bread alone, for example, caring only for our material needs, but must consider our spiritual needs as creatures of God. We must show due respect to civil authority but only to a certain point- never at the cost of compromising the faith. We must be willing to confess our faith in Christ no matter the cost and without putting God to the test by unhealthy compromise.

Bishop Michael spoke powerfully about the cost of such Christ centred confession for Christians in the Middle East today. He reminded us that those who suffered could have got themselves off the hook if they had just refused to proclaim Christ as Lord. But understanding the need for confession they stood for Him with courage.

We in the West will soon face this question. Will we confess our faith in Jesus Christ even if it clashes with David Cameron’s vision of “British values”? Will we confess the faith if it means losing job or preferment? Currently a threat to midwives who refuse abortion and registrars who stand up for the Christian understanding of marriage. The question is not coming it is here. Are you for Christ or not? Will you confess the faith and not count the cost?

As a final warning he pointed out that the devil was most adept at quoting scripture. Taking half of its meaning to distort and twist its message. This, he said, is a real temptation to many in the Christian world today. All around us is the voice of compromise; of half quoted texts and convenient theological conclusions. It will not do. Our confession must be that of the saints and martyrs in all ages. Those who gave their lives to witness to the truth. We must stand for him.

An historic meeting…

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BIG NEWS. An historic meeting has taken place between Pope Francis and Russian patriarch Kirril. The meeting has been in the pipeline for some time, with Pope Benedict XVI said to have done much to bring it to fruition. At the meeting a joint declaration was issued which is worthy of reading by all Christians the world over. Praise God for this major development in the hope of Christian unity.

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God the Father and the fellowship of the holy Spirit be with all of you” (2 Cor 13:13).

1. By God the Father’s will, from which all gifts come, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the help of the Holy Spirit Consolator, we, Pope Francis and Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, have met today in Havana. We give thanks to God, glorified in the Trinity, for this meeting, the first in history.

It is with joy that we have met like brothers in the Christian faith who encounter one another “to speak face to face” (2 Jn 12), from heart to heart, to discuss the mutual relations between the Churches, the crucial problems of our faithful, and the outlook for the progress of human civilization.

2. Our fraternal meeting has taken place in Cuba, at the crossroads of North and South, East and West. It is from this island, the symbol of the hopes of the “New World” and the dramatic events of the history of the twentieth century, that we address our words to all the peoples of Latin America and of the other continents.

It is a source of joy that the Christian faith is growing here in a dynamic way. The powerful religious potential of Latin America, its centuries–old Christian tradition, grounded in the personal experience of millions of people, are the pledge of a great future for this region.

3. By meeting far from the longstanding disputes of the “Old World”, we experience with a particular sense of urgency the need for the shared labour of Catholics and Orthodox, who are called, with gentleness and respect, to give an explanation to the world of the hope in us (cf. 1 Pet 3:15).

4. We thank God for the gifts received from the coming into the world of His only Son. We share the same spiritual Tradition of the first millennium of Christianity. The witnesses of this Tradition are the Most Holy Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, and the saints we venerate. Among them are innumerable martyrs who have given witness to their faithfulness to Christ and have become the “seed of Christians”.

5. Notwithstanding this shared Tradition of the first ten centuries, for nearly one thousand years Catholics and Orthodox have been deprived of communion in the Eucharist. We have been divided by wounds caused by old and recent conflicts, by differences inherited from our ancestors, in the understanding and expression of our faith in God, one in three Persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are pained by the loss of unity, the outcome of human weakness and of sin, which has occurred despite the priestly prayer of Christ the Saviour: “So that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you … so that they may be one, as we are one” (Jn 17:21).

6. Mindful of the permanence of many obstacles, it is our hope that our meeting may contribute to the re–establishment of this unity willed by God, for which Christ prayed. May our meeting inspire Christians throughout the world to pray to the Lord with renewed fervour for the full unity of all His disciples. In a world which yearns not only for our words but also for tangible gestures, may this meeting be a sign of hope for all people of goodwill!

7. In our determination to undertake all that is necessary to overcome the historical divergences we have inherited, we wish to combine our efforts to give witness to the Gospel of Christ and to the shared heritage of the Church of the first millennium, responding together to the challenges of the contemporary world. Orthodox and Catholics must learn to give unanimously witness in those spheres in which this is possible and necessary. Human civilization has entered into a period of epochal change. Our Christian conscience and our pastoral responsibility compel us not to remain passive in the face of challenges requiring a shared response.

8. Our gaze must firstly turn to those regions of the world where Christians are victims of persecution. In many countries of the Middle East and North Africa whole families, villages and cities of our brothers and sisters in Christ are being completely exterminated. Their churches are being barbarously ravaged and looted, their sacred objects profaned, their monuments destroyed. It is with pain that we call to mind the situation in Syria, Iraq and other countries of the Middle East, and the massive exodus of Christians from the land in which our faith was first disseminated and in which they have lived since the time of the Apostles, together with other religious communities.

9. We call upon the international community to act urgently in order to prevent the further expulsion of Christians from the Middle East. In raising our voice in defence of persecuted Christians, we wish to express our compassion for the suffering experienced by the faithful of other religious traditions who have also become victims of civil war, chaos and terrorist violence.

10. Thousands of victims have already been claimed in the violence in Syria and Iraq, which has left many other millions without a home or means of sustenance. We urge the international community to seek an end to the violence and terrorism and, at the same time, to contribute through dialogue to a swift return to civil peace. Large–scale humanitarian aid must be assured to the afflicted populations and to the many refugees seeking safety in neighbouring lands.

We call upon all those whose influence can be brought to bear upon the destiny of those kidnapped, including the Metropolitans of Aleppo, Paul and John Ibrahim, who were taken in April 2013, to make every effort to ensure their prompt liberation.

11. We lift our prayers to Christ, the Saviour of the world, asking for the return of peace in the Middle East, “the fruit of justice” (Is 32:17), so that fraternal co–existence among the various populations, Churches and religions may be strengthened, enabling refugees to return to their homes, wounds to be healed, and the souls of the slain innocent to rest in peace.

We address, in a fervent appeal, all the parts that may be involved in the conflicts to demonstrate good will and to take part in the negotiating table. At the same time, the international community must undertake every possible effort to end terrorism through common, joint and coordinated action. We call on all the countries involved in the struggle against terrorism to responsible and prudent action. We exhort all Christians and all believers of God to pray fervently to the providential Creator of the world to protect His creation from destruction and not permit a new world war. In order to ensure a solid and enduring peace, specific efforts must be undertaken to rediscover the common values uniting us, based on the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

12. We bow before the martyrdom of those who, at the cost of their own lives, have given witness to the truth of the Gospel, preferring death to the denial of Christ. We believe that these martyrs of our times, who belong to various Churches but who are united by their shared suffering, are a pledge of the unity of Christians. It is to you who suffer for Christ’s sake that the word of the Apostle is directed: “Beloved … rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly” (1 Pet 4:12–13).

13. Interreligious dialogue is indispensable in our disturbing times. Differences in the understanding of religious truths must not impede people of different faiths to live in peace and harmony. In our current context, religious leaders have the particular responsibility to educate their faithful in a spirit which is respectful of the convictions of those belonging to other religious traditions. Attempts to justify criminal acts with religious slogans are altogether unacceptable. No crime may be committed in God’s name, “since God is not the God of disorder but of peace” (1 Cor 14:33).

14. In affirming the foremost value of religious freedom, we give thanks to God for the current unprecedented renewal of the Christian faith in Russia, as well as in many other countries of Eastern Europe, formerly dominated for decades by atheist regimes. Today, the chains of militant atheism have been broken and in many places Christians can now freely confess their faith. Thousands of new churches have been built over the last quarter of a century, as well as hundreds of monasteries and theological institutions. Christian communities undertake notable works in the fields of charitable aid and social development, providing diversified forms of assistance to the needy. Orthodox and Catholics often work side by side. Giving witness to the values of the Gospel they attest to the existence of the shared spiritual foundations of human co–existence.

15. At the same time, we are concerned about the situation in many countries in which Christians are increasingly confronted by restrictions to religious freedom, to the right to witness to one’s convictions and to live in conformity with them. In particular, we observe that the transformation of some countries into secularized societies, estranged from all reference to God and to His truth, constitutes a grave threat to religious freedom. It is a source of concern for us that there is a current curtailment of the rights of Christians, if not their outright discrimination, when certain political forces, guided by an often very aggressive secularist ideology, seek to relegate them to the margins of public life.

16. The process of European integration, which began after centuries of blood–soaked conflicts, was welcomed by many with hope, as a guarantee of peace and security. Nonetheless, we invite vigilance against an integration that is devoid of respect for religious identities. While remaining open to the contribution of other religions to our civilization, it is our conviction that Europe must remain faithful to its Christian roots. We call upon Christians of Eastern and Western Europe to unite in their shared witness to Christ and the Gospel, so that Europe may preserve its soul, shaped by two thousand years of Christian tradition.

17. Our gaze is also directed to those facing serious difficulties, who live in extreme need and poverty while the material wealth of humanity increases. We cannot remain indifferent to the destinies of millions of migrants and refugees knocking on the doors of wealthy nations. The unrelenting consumerism of some more developed countries is gradually depleting the resources of our planet. The growing inequality in the distribution of material goods increases the feeling of the injustice of the international order that has emerged.

18. The Christian churches are called to defend the demands of justice, the respect for peoples’ traditions, and an authentic solidarity towards all those who suffer. We Christians cannot forget that “God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, that no human being might boast before God” (1 Cor 1:27–29).

19. The family is the natural centre of human life and society. We are concerned about the crisis in the family in many countries. Orthodox and Catholics share the same conception of the family, and are called to witness that it is a path of holiness, testifying to the faithfulness of the spouses in their mutual interaction, to their openness to the procreation and rearing of their children, to solidarity between the generations and to respect for the weakest.

20. The family is based on marriage, an act of freely given and faithful love between a man and a woman. It is love that seals their union and teaches them to accept one another as a gift. Marriage is a school of love and faithfulness. We regret that other forms of cohabitation have been placed on the same level as this union, while the concept, consecrated in the biblical tradition, of paternity and maternity as the distinct vocation of man and woman in marriage is being banished from the public conscience.

21. We call on all to respect the inalienable right to life. Millions are denied the very right to be born into the world. The blood of the unborn cries out to God (cf. Gen 4:10).

The emergence of so-called euthanasia leads elderly people and the disabled begin to feel that they are a burden on their families and on society in general.

We are also concerned about the development of biomedical reproduction technology, as the manipulation of human life represents an attack on the foundations of human existence, created in the image of God. We believe that it is our duty to recall the immutability of Christian moral principles, based on respect for the dignity of the individual called into being according to the Creator’s plan.

22. Today, in a particular way, we address young Christians. You, young people, have the task of not hiding your talent in the ground (cf. Mt 25:25), but of using all the abilities God has given you to confirm Christ’s truth in the world, incarnating in your own lives the evangelical commandments of the love of God and of one’s neighbour. Do not be afraid of going against the current, defending God’s truth, to which contemporary secular norms are often far from conforming.

23. God loves each of you and expects you to be His disciples and apostles. Be the light of the world so that those around you may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father (cf. Mt 5:14, 16). Raise your children in the Christian faith, transmitting to them the pearl of great price that is the faith (cf. Mt 13:46) you have received from your parents and forbears. Remember that “you have been purchased at a great price” (1 Cor 6:20), at the cost of the death on the cross of the Man–God Jesus Christ.

24. Orthodox and Catholics are united not only by the shared Tradition of the Church of the first millennium, but also by the mission to preach the Gospel of Christ in the world today. This mission entails mutual respect for members of the Christian communities and excludes any form of proselytism.

We are not competitors but brothers, and this concept must guide all our mutual actions as well as those directed to the outside world. We urge Catholics and Orthodox in all countries to learn to live together in peace and love, and to be “in harmony with one another” (Rm 15:5). Consequently, it cannot be accepted that disloyal means be used to incite believers to pass from one Church to another, denying them their religious freedom and their traditions. We are called upon to put into practice the precept of the apostle Paul: “Thus I aspire to proclaim the gospel not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on another’s foundation” (Rm 15:20).

25. It is our hope that our meeting may also contribute to reconciliation wherever tensions exist between Greek Catholics and Orthodox. It is today clear that the past method of “uniatism”, understood as the union of one community to the other, separating it from its Church, is not the way to re–establish unity. Nonetheless, the ecclesial communities which emerged in these historical circumstances have the right to exist and to undertake all that is necessary to meet the spiritual needs of their faithful, while seeking to live in peace with their neighbours. Orthodox and Greek Catholics are in need of reconciliation and of mutually acceptable forms of co–existence.

26. We deplore the hostility in Ukraine that has already caused many victims, inflicted innumerable wounds on peaceful inhabitants and thrown society into a deep economic and humanitarian crisis. We invite all the parts involved in the conflict to prudence, to social solidarity and to action aimed at constructing peace. We invite our Churches in Ukraine to work towards social harmony, to refrain from taking part in the confrontation, and to not support any further development of the conflict.

27. It is our hope that the schism between the Orthodox faithful in Ukraine may be overcome through existing canonical norms, that all the Orthodox Christians of Ukraine may live in peace and harmony, and that the Catholic communities in the country may contribute to this, in such a way that our Christian brotherhood may become increasingly evident.

28. In the contemporary world, which is both multiform yet united by a shared destiny, Catholics and Orthodox are called to work together fraternally in proclaiming the Good News of salvation, to testify together to the moral dignity and authentic freedom of the person, “so that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21). This world, in which the spiritual pillars of human existence are progressively disappearing, awaits from us a compelling Christian witness in all spheres of personal and social life. Much of the future of humanity will depend on our capacity to give shared witness to the Spirit of truth in these difficult times.

29. May our bold witness to God’s truth and to the Good News of salvation be sustained by the Man–God Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, who strengthens us with the unfailing promise: “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom” (Lk 12:32)!

Christ is the well–spring of joy and hope. Faith in Him transfigures human life, fills it with meaning. This is the conviction borne of the experience of all those to whom Peter refers in his words: “Once you were ‘no people’ but now you are God’s people; you ‘had not received mercy’ but now you have received mercy” (1 Pet 2:10).

30. With grace–filled gratitude for the gift of mutual understanding manifested during our meeting, let us with hope turn to the Most Holy Mother of God, invoking her with the words of this ancient prayer: “We seek refuge under the protection of your mercy, Holy Mother of God”. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, through her intercession, inspire fraternity in all those who venerate her, so that they may be reunited, in God’s own time, in the peace and harmony of the one people of God, for the glory of the Most Holy and indivisible Trinity!

Francis Kirill
Bishop of Rome Patriarch of Moscow
Pope of the Catholic Church and all Russia

Remember that thou art marzipan….

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I am saddened by the decision of the Anglican diocese of Leicester, who took to the streets yesterday to offer commuters… cup-cakes on Ash Wednesday. The thinking behind this wrong-headed gesture was apparently to “challenge the perception of Lent as a time to give things up, and instead try to embody God’s generous giving to the people of Leicester”. Kyrie Eleison!!

I have so many issues with this that I don’t quite know where to start. But here are just a few reasons as to why we should lament…

A) Ash Wednesday is a traditional day of Christian FASTING, no matter how much the Anglican diocese of Leicester might wish it wasn’t. No matter how many Anglicans no longer bother to fast or take it seriously.

B) Across the world countless Christians spent yesterday avoiding excess. Many have given up cakes and biscuits as part of their Lenten observance. What a grossly insensitive gesture to stick cakes in their faces on their daily commute!

C) Fasting and giving things up are not antiquated ideals, as is claimed by the tin pot theologians behind this gimmick. By what authority is the Anglican diocese of Leicester entitled to “challenge the perception of Lent as a time to give things up?” Abstinence is vital to Christian living. It teaches self restraint and self-control without which we have no hope to avoid temptation. How dangerous to treat it as something no longer holding relevance. Especially when the culture is so indulgent.

D) ‘Giving something up for Lent’ remains strong in the conscience of our post- Christian culture. How confusing and unhelpful then to challenge this! Surely the cup-cakes should have been held back until Easter..when it would have been a lovely and meaningful gesture.

E) The cakes came with a slogan: ‘you can have your cake and eat it’  How on earth does this sentiment fit into the Christian life? Surely the very point of Lent is to remind us that, no, we cannot have our cake and eat it. Following Christ means turning away from sin and being faithful to the Gospel. It means remembering that we are dust and to dust we shall return- and therefore we need to ponder our eternal destiny. Mind you, come to think of it, “you can have your cake and eat it” certainly seems an apt slogan for much modernist post-christian Anglican thinking…

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What a sorry state Western Christianity seems to be in. This was not some rogue parish but an initiative of the Anglican bishops! It seems modern Anglicanism so desperately wants to be groovy and cutting edge that it continuously sells its own soul to placate an anti-Christian culture. When will the modernists come to their senses and realise that there is no crown without the cross. What use is a faith that denies the reality of sin and the need for abstinence? Such fluffy bunny religion, seem attractive but soon becomes  irrelevant at best and embarrassing at worst.

When we dumb every aspect of faith down, and make no demands of people at all, we end up with a pointless faith that changes no lives whatsoever. Come on Leicester Anglicans you can do an awful lot better than that. Man cannot live on cake alone…you cannot sugar coat our need for Lent.

 

St Anselm’s Lent Charity 2016

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The response to the Advent/Crib charity at St. Anselm’s was phenomenal as we broke all records raising much needed funds for the persecuted church in Syria, and for refugees, by helping Aid to the Church in Need. This Lent our attention turns to a UK based charity ‘The Medaille Trust’ 

The Medaille Trust was founded in 2006 by a number of religious congregations in response to the plight of thousands of people who are being trafficked into the UK each year. The Trust was established as a charity and opened its first safe house in January 2007.

A major part of the Trust’s work is to raise awareness of the plight of those who are enslaved and exploited in the trafficking industry, and campaign on their behalf. This includes people forced into slavery and the sex trade. Many of them are vulnerable young people to begin with.

The work of the Medaille Trust is the empowerment of women, young men and children, who have been freed from the human-trafficking industry here in the UK, enabling them to regain dignity and self-worth.

They do this by providing safe housing and offering opportunities for physical and psychological healing and rehabilitation. The charity raises awareness of the plight of those who are enslaved and exploited in the UK and campaign on this issue. Please be generous in your support.

Lent begins…

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We have a busy week at Saint Anselm’s. On Shrove Tuesday we host the deanery clergy chapter- something only possible now that we have additional space. Mass is not at it’s usual slot of 12pm but moves to 12:45pm; all are welcome to join us for this act of worship. The clergy, who gather for a business meeting before the Mass, will remain behind for lunch. And to that end a delicious soup is cooking as I type!

On Ash Wednesday there will be a Sung Mass at 7pm. The imposition of ashes will take place during this Mass as we formally mark the beginning of Lent. The clergy will be available to hear confessions from 6pm.

Next Sunday we welcome the first of our Year of Mercy speakers. The former Anglican bishop of Rochester, +Michael Nazir Ali, will be present to speak to us after Mass about his current work in supporting the training and formation of Christians in areas of the world where the church is persecuted.

Lent is just days away. What are you going to give up? So that you develop the discipline of self control? What are you going to read? So that your spiritual life is nurtured? What are you going to give? That you might practice the necessary charity to ensure not only love of God but also love of neighbour?

A gift has arrived

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Yesterday, thanks to the generosity of a benefactor,  a confessional arrived in church in time for Lent. This is the perfect addition to any worship space in this Year of Mercy. For there can be no true or lasting mercy without justice.

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Awareness of sin, repentance, amendment of life; these are crucial aspects on the road to discovering God’s mercy. Remove them and all you have left is a culture of permissiveness; the refusal to accept the reality of sin and its terrible effect. And that was the laissez-faire approach to mercy that lay at the heart of the shockingly poor handling of the abuse crisis in the 70’s and 80’s. We need to do much better in this year of mercy reminding people that confession is it’s corner stone.

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The new confessional, tucked away in a secluded corner of the Sacred Heart Chapel, ensures that the sacrament of reconciliation now has a physical presence in this church. A solid reminder of our need to embrace  weaknesses in life and bring them to God for healing. A place where sins can be nailed to the cross that we might receive the mercy that comes from the Lord. There is nothing as joyfully liberating in this life as the experience of a good confession sincerely made.

Members of the congregation are reminded that this  item of ecclesial furniture is not for decoration! Confessions take place from 6-7pm every Wednesday evening and by appointment.

What a great day for our church. Once again a gift, lovingly given and no longer needed elsewhere, fits perfectly in with the style of our renovation. It is almost as if the hand of God is with us as we continue to move forward in faith! We have much to be thankful for.

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