26 February 2011

Don't leave the baby on the bus!

Homily for 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year A

Readings: Is 49:14-15; Ps 61; 1 Cor 4:1-5; Mt 6:24-34

Choosing a card for someone, perhaps for their birthday, is a revealing thing. Whether it is cheap or expensive, early or late, well meant but never sent or barely thought about and given without care – all teaches us about ourselves. A particular card I recall seeing in a shop one time, which made me laugh out loud, showed a picture along the lines of the late 1950s soap advertising range. You know the ones with women in period dress. Anyway, this card depicts a scene of a woman pushing an empty blue pram looking utterly panic-stricken and in the background you see a departing red double-decker London bus – the bubble caption reads: ‘I left the baby on the bus!’ Clearly it’s meant to be funny, but we might ask why?

Probably, because like our first reading from the prophet Isaiah, it is something we imagine just not happening. It’s almost unnatural that a mother would leave her baby on the bus, not least as she has a pram to get off with! Yet I’m sure it happens. I know it happens. So it’s not the best example of reminding us of God’s faithfulness. Like the loving mother with her baby at the breast he’s never going to leave us on the bus! Just to underline the point and show the shortcoming of our feeble state in regard to child-forgetting, Isaiah says God’s faithfulness is like a son in the womb – you cannot forget him surely? You cannot get off the bus without your son in the womb! Let’s not go down the route of discussing the horror of abortion, save to say that the prophet seeks simply to remind us that we, like those early Israelites, do forget God from time to time, but he will never abandon us. He will never forget us! That’s true love!

We can, and do, respond to that love through service: Service of God and of neighbour, which is ultimately the same thing. This is what Paul is trying to tell the Corinthians. People will judge us on whether we have been good Christians or not. Have we, honestly, presented what it means to be a Catholic in today’s world? By their fruits you shall know them – how many people would describe us as a good Catholic?

In the end it doesn’t matter, of course, what other people say. Even if we think we are a good Catholic, or even if we know we are because others say we are a good Catholic, or even if our own consciences is clear, St Paul reminds us, it is what God thinks that determines where you spend eternity. He is the final judge and I suspect that He will be a little less harsh than you are about yourself!

But Jesus, in continuing his Sermon on the Mount, reminds us today that you cannot serve both God and money. You cannot, in other words, have two masters. Either everything about you points to serving God or it does not. The example that Jesus uses is one about worry or anxiety – you either trust the Lord will provide or you do not. This is not an excuse to do nothing to provide for your own or your family’s needs, there is no merit in simply raising your eyes to heaven and saying ‘oh, the Lord will provide’ and waiting for him to do it via other people. Laziness is, above all, the sin of sloth and deadly at that! No, today Jesus wants us to be certain that our own efforts, commendable though they be, will be no match when compared to the plentiful nature of feeding the birds nor the beauty of flowers so let us not worry and become anxious, rather let us trust in the Lord who loves us above all things. After all, did he not want to be certain the world was perfect before he created us on the sixth day?

So this week, when you’re thinking about a card to send or some other token which shows the love you have for another, do it in a way that clearly demonstrates you are, indeed, a steward of our Lord and God and whatever you do – don’t leave the baby on the bus!

8 February 2011

4 November 2010

Smile whilst you're singing!

Thanks to The Deacon's Bench blog for this excellent post. Deacon Greg writes:

...and suddenly everybody did THIS (see below)?

It happened at Macy's last weekend, when 600 members of the Opera Company of Philadelphia, mingling with the other shoppers, unexpectedly burst into the "Hallelujah!" chorus. Just watch and try not to smile.

And of course he's quite correct - watch and smile...

29 October 2010

The lonely death of Jimmy Mubenga

It may be that you have already seen the story of Jimmy Mubenga's untimely death. If you have not, then do take the time to read about it. For a few days I've been away on vacation so I haven't, to my shame, even been aware that it's been in the news. Reading about Jimmy's case, however, really brings home the need to bring the best of British to the quagmire that is immigration, and especially asylum seekers, to these shores. By the best of British I mean: compassion, hospitality, protecting the vulnerable and fairness. Such values which we find littered across our Christian roots!

You can read Jimmy's story here, from ICN, and the Guardian story here.

Jimmy Mubenga died on the runway at Heathrow Airport last Tuesday night. He died a very public death, in the final row of seats of British Airways flight 77 to Luanda. Witnesses have claimed that he shouted that he could not breathe for over ten minutes, as three large security guards forced his head down into his lap. No-one helped him.

18 October 2010

St Luke and Seminarians

Wow, so much to do and such little time!

Happy Feast to Luke (you know who you are) and did you read the letter from the Holy Father to seminarians? You can follow this link here. My favourite passage is:

Anyone who wishes to become a priest must be first and foremost a “man of God”, to use the expression of Saint Paul (1 Tim 6:11). For us God is not some abstract hypothesis; he is not some stranger who left the scene after the “big bang”. God has revealed himself in Jesus Christ. In the face of Jesus Christ we see the face of God. In his words we hear God himself speaking to us. It follows that the most important thing in our path towards priesthood and during the whole of our priestly lives is our personal relationship with God in Jesus Christ.

I kind of wish I'd realised that myself when I was in seminary! Time flies so quickly and before you know it you're ordained. Still, at least the Pope reiterates that this personal relationship is the centre of all that a priest is.

St Luke
Pray for Us

16 October 2010

The Sacred Heart

On feast of St Margaret Mary Alocoque, which we celebrated at Mass this morning, we recall her passion in drawing us ever closer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The above photo is the statue of the Sacred Heart in the centre of the sanctuary at Fatima. Please pray for all those who make this pilgrimage, as the parish did earlier this year, that they may be drawn to a deeper appreciation of the love which Mary shows for her Son.

St Margaret Mary, pray for us.

Pope John Paul II and the Priesthood

Today, 32 years ago, the Holy Spirit prompted the conclave of cardinals to elect a new Pope: John Paul II. This is the power of saying 'yes' to God, none more so than when a young man says 'yes' to serving Christ as His priest. Perhaps, in our midst, is a future pope who simply needs your encouragement to enable him to say 'yes' to Christ when He says "come" and become His priest...

15 October 2010

St Teresa of Avila

Fearsome old battle-axe or joy filled advocate?

St Teresa of Avila, Pray for us


One of the blogs I catch up with from time to time is Illegitimi non carborundum written by Fr James Farfaglia. I'll leave you to work out the translation if you're not familiar with Latin, but a short cut is here.

I digress. Today, Fr James is defending himself against some critics of a recent article he has written in regard to the new translation of the Roman Missal, widely reported to be introduced to these shores on the first Sunday of Advent, 2011. You can read the response to the critics here, and the original article written here (beware there are annoying little pop ups). Again, I
digress. What caught my attention was this quote from Chesterton in regard to Orthodoxy. I'm not sure the orthodox church comes out in the best light, but the style and force of Chesterton's statement is worth repeating in full...

“This is the thrilling romance of Orthodoxy. People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum, and safe. There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy. It was sanity: and to be sane is more dramatic than to be mad. It was the equilibrium of a man behind madly rushing horses, seeming to stoop this way and to sway that, yet in every attitude having the grace of statuary and the accuracy of arithmetic. The Church in its early days went fierce and fast with any warhorse; yet it is utterly unhistoric to say that she merely went mad along one idea, like a vulgar fanaticism. She swerved to left and right, so exactly as to avoid enormous obstacles. She left on one hand the huge bulk of Arianism, buttressed by all the worldly powers to make Christianity too worldly. The next instant she was swerving to avoid an orientalism, which would have made it too unworldly. The orthodox Church never took the tame course or accepted the conventions; the orthodox Church was never respectable. It would have been easier to have accepted the earthly power of the Arians. It would have been easy, in the Calvinistic seventeenth century, to fall into the bottomless pit of predestination. It is easy to be a madman: it is easy to be a heretic. It is always easy to let the age have its head; the difficult thing is to keep one’s own. It is always easy to be a modernist; as it is easy to be a snob. To have fallen into any of those open traps of error and exaggeration which fashion after fashion and sect after sect set along the historic path of Christendom—that would indeed have been simple. It is always simple to fall; there are an infinity of angles at which one falls, only one at which one stands. To have fallen into any one of the fads from Gnosticism to Christian Science would indeed have been obvious and tame. But to have avoided them all has been one whirling adventure; and in my vision the heavenly chariot flies thundering through the ages, the dull heresies sprawling and prostrate, the wild truth reeling but erect.”

Taken from 'Orthodoxy' by GK Chesterton and available to buy here.

11 October 2010

Blessed Pope John XXIII

Blessed Pope John:
Pray for us

8 October 2010

Ushaw College may close...

The BBC write:

Historic Catholic college in County Durham to close
Ushaw College Ushaw College is close to the city of Durham

A Roman Catholic college that can trace its roots back to the 16th Century is to close, its trustees have announced.

Ushaw College in County Durham is home to St Cuthbert's Seminary, which trains young men to become priests.

Run as a charity, it also provides conference and event facilities and accommodation, but maintenance and running costs have increased.

The college is due to shut in June 2011, and its 26 students will transfer to another seminary.

Ushaw College can trace its roots back to Douai College, which was founded in 1568 in the Spanish Netherlands, now northern France, to provide priests when traditional Catholicism suffered persecution under Queen Elizabeth I.
Drastic step

Students and staff later relocated to County Durham and eventually settled at Ushaw in 1808.

Kay Wightman, director of finance and commercial development at Ushaw College, said the business had been facing tough times for many years.

She said: "We are a charitable organisation and as such unfortunately we've had to bear increasing costs of maintaining and running the facilities we provide, and this has led to the sad proposal that Ushaw is to close."

Monsignor John Marsland, president of the college, added: "Words cannot express how sad we are that we are considering such a drastic step.

"We have long tried to find a development partner and it would be nice to believe that a partner will still come forward with a viable business plan, but unfortunately time is running out and we have to face the reality of the situation we are in."

H/T to Forest Murmers for the story.

When we were in Valladolid the shock of the closure of the Scots college in Salamanca was quite devastating for all those concerned and tonight we think and pray for those who will be effected by the closure of the northern seminary, if it becomes necessary. Can't help but feeling, however, that the northern bishops are taking a strong and courageous lead on the issue...

Sad, really sad!


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