31 January 2009

The God of Communication and Communion

Reading the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI’s Message for World Communications Day 2009, I was struck by the need for each and every one of us to reach out and speak our truth. This truth, of course, is THE truth of Jesus Christ. When I say "of course", many people will say this is my opinion. Some of my friends may even accuse me of being brain-washed by the Church, as though I am not capable of thinking for myself.

I am encouraged that the Pope urges "we must not allow ourselves to be deceived by those who see us merely as consumers in a market of undifferentiated possibilities, where choice itself becomes the good, novelty usurps beauty, and subjective experience displaces truth". Sometimes I am deceived into valuing subjective experience over truth. It is easy to become despondent in a world of noise and hard to see the truth.

In the final paragraph of the message, we read: "Human hearts are yearning for a world where love endures, where gifts are shared, where unity is built, where freedom finds meaning in truth, and where identity is found in respectful communion". Who cannot agree with this statement? It seems clear, therefore, that regardless of your faith, belief or opinion, if you agree with this statement then there must be something objective beyond yourself.

It is to this communion that the Pope encourages us, that we may find our identity. To boldly reach out and take our place. As he says, introduce the values on which we have built our lives. It's good to be a part of this world of blogging. Thank you for all you offer. Let us know the values upon which you have built your life.

The Knights and Dames of the Holy Sepulchre

Oscott welcomed the Knights and Dames of the Holy Sepulchre for a celebration of mass, today. This annual event gives the seminary both the opportunity to welcome the equestrian order and a chance to get to know the people and work behind this impressive 11th century order.

More details of their work can be found on their website, which includes the aims of the order.

Recently, I was privileged to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. No doubt I will write more of this over the coming weeks, but, for me, the suffering of the Palestinians, and in particular the Christian Arabs, was shocking. Whilst I had watched the news and seen the wall being built, the television did nothing to bring over the horror of the experience for those effectively held in prison by it.

Around the Holy Land, the work and generosity of the Knights was evident, none more so than in the seminary at Beit Jala near Bethlehem. The rector, Mgr. William Shomali, gave a moving account of the struggles the seminarians go through, together with details of the hardships that they will endure once ordained to the priesthood. I am in admiration for the 40 or so students they have.

Whilst in 'the land' I was asked to pray every week for the Holy Land, which I have subsequently managed. Usually I add a regular prayer into the intercessions at Mass. Please join me, and countless others, who pray for peace in the land where heaven and earth meet.

30 January 2009

Vocations Retreat: Holy Week 2009

Time for some shameless advertising, I think.

Oscott Seminary in Birmingham is offering a retreat to men over 18 who are interested in becoming priests. The Retreat runs from Midday on Maundy Thursday until after Lunch on Easter Sunday.

There are many, many good things about this opportunity, but not least is the chance to live the dream as it were. Guys will be living with us in seminary and thus have a chance to experience the reality of seminary life in all its manifestations. Much of the liturgy is, of course, at St. Chad's Cathedral and so those joining us on the retreat will be warmly welcomed along with us.

Perhaps you know someone to whom this would be a welcome chance to spend time with the Lord. If so, they should get in touch with the Rector:

Mgr Mark Crisp,
Oscott College,
Chester Road,
Sutton Coldfield
B73 5AA
0121 321 5000

29 January 2009

Belmont Abbey on the BBC One Show

Hardeep Singh Kohli interviewed three of the monks of Belmont Abbey, including our Br Andrew of the solemn profession fame, for the BBC One Show.

The programme was aired on Thursday evening and you can follow a link to the BBC iplayer show here (NB This link has now been removed, since it was only valid for seven days - Ed). The actual footage runs between 09:38 minutes and 14:21 minutes, if you don't want to watch the whole show. It was an impressive and positive view of the monastery.

Well done to the BBC. It's not often I congratulate the BBC, but I am impressed with the iplayer in general. I heartily recommend it to you.

Solemn Profession at Belmont Abbey

Congratulations to Dom Andrew Berry OSB on making his Solemn Profession at Belmont Abbey on Wednesday.

Abbot Paul gave an excellent homily, sharing an insightful view of Hope. We stand, as Christians, at the bus stop patiently waiting for the bus to come whilst all rush by going about their busy lives. We wait, knowing that Christ will come, and in so doing we give witness to those around us. Mostly, however, I like the notion that Br Andrew could be described as the seventh proof of the existence of God. Thank you Abbot Paul and all the monks of Belmont for a most warm welcome to your home.

Read the full report, including Abbot Paul's homily here.

The First Blog...

Here goes, virgin blog, and what comes next? Why am I writing a blog, anyway? I want to share something of my journey toward priesthood. My aim is perhaps to inspire others, perhaps to inspire me, or perhaps to share something of the love of God which I experience.

I expect, in the early days, blogs will come thick and fast. Then they are likely to slow down. At all times, I hope they will be responsive and free-flowing, a reaction. Daily blogging is ambitious; let’s see where the Lord takes us. It’s a journey I would love to have company on, so I hope you will stay with me and, indeed, share too.

In God we trust.


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