26 June 2009

Au revoir

This will be my final post for a while since I am a. packing up the computer as I prepare to leave seminary; b. going on retreat on Sunday for a few days to prepare for ordination to the priesthood; c. at a loss for what to say and d. in need of some time away. But before I say a temporary farewell I just wanted to share the following:

Pray for our five almost-new deacons: Michael, Luke, Andrew, Roger and Michael. They will be ordained in the morning, praise God. Pray also for Paul (and I) as we prepare for ordination on 4th and 12th July respectively. Pray for those priests of the Archdiocese whom we have been asked to remember: today, Fr John Baggley, 27/06 Fr Walter Bance, 28/06 Fr David Barry, 29/06 Fr John Batthula, 30/06 Fr Anthony Baxter, 01/07 Fr Neil Bayliss, 02/07 Fr David Bazen, 03/07 Fr George Bennet, 04/07 Fr John Bentley, 05/07 Fr John Berry, 06/07 Fr Jerome Bertram and 07/07 Fr Christopher Bester. Finally, pray for Archbishop Vincent and all the new Metropolitans who will receive their new Pallium from the Pope on Monday in Rome.

In this year of the priest I can do no worse than direct you to the Thinking Faith website which "will be marked on Thinking Faith with a series of articles and reflections". The first is by Gerard O'Collins who is to publish a new book entitled Jesus Our Priest. We were blessed to have Fr O'Collins give a public lecture on St Paul, earlier in the year, here at Oscott. It was very well received. The article is concluded with the statement: "Mike Jones and I have become more convinced than ever that any version of the ordained ministry will remain theologically and spiritually impoverished, unless it clearly and consistently draws its reflections from the priesthood of Jesus Christ himself." So this year, of all years, we all do well to reflect ever more on that priesthood of Jesus Christ himself.

Goodbye, Jacko, a legend in his own life time who goes to his maker for some peace, one hopes. Never was a fan, to speak of, but could anyone doubt his God given talents? We mourn with the Jacko generation, even if the crotchety amongst us pretend it's no big deal. The man's dead. May be rest in peace.
Go to yearofthepriest for a short article I wrote about our second day on the recent pilgrimage. I wont repeat it here since it's only a click away.

Finally, and by no means least, enjoy the promised heatwave coming this week, but do keep refreshed, stay cool if you are vulnerable and just relax!

25 June 2009

Fr Alex Austin OSB

Fr Alex was part of our clergy pilgrimage to the Holy Land last year. Here he is seen atop a camel, which he rode, whilst we were in Jericho. As part of the Birmingham diocesan initiative to pray for priests, during this Year of the Priest, we are asked to pray especially for Fr Alex. Do please remember him. He was a great companion to be on pilgrimage and a fine Parish Priest, I'm sure. A great man. Also pictured is Fr Brian McGinley, though I'm not sure if he's getting in on the photo or holding Fr Alex upright. Answers on a postcard.

23 June 2009

The English Priesthood

ICN are carrying a lovely story about Nicholas Breakspear, the only English Pope, aka Adrian IV, who died 850 years ago. He is not a man I could claim to know a lot about, but I found this lovely little story refreshing and uplifting. Rather like the 'and finally' which Trevor MacDonald would read at the end of the old ITN 10pm news. Do you remember? If you'd like a little lift, go and read here.

Today, we are asked to keep in our prayers Fr Sebastian Ankat, and tomorrow, 24 June, we are asked to pray for Fr Patrick Armstrong. Both are priests for the archdiocese of Birmingham.

St John Vianney: Pray for us.

22 June 2009

Ss John Fisher and Thomas More

I have often wondered on how close John Fisher and Thomas More were in life since they have become almost inseparable as saints in Heaven. This interesting article from Edward Surtz, SJ highlights that it was, in all probability, through a meeting of minds rather than hearts that they are linked in life. From Heaven, they offer to us today, great inspiration in matters of state and Church. Conscience over convenience.

They are suitable candidates to guide Parliament on this day when it will chose it's new Speaker. The safe money is on Margaret Beckett though many of my friends would prefer the other woman, Anne Widdecombe. Let's see shall we. I recall Margaret Beckett on Question Time just after Blair had made some awful gaff that no one could defend and yet she backed him to the hilt. Admirable was her loyalty and, as I recall, it was soon after this she was announced the first female Foreign Secretary. Pity her cabinet career didn't go stratospheric, really. Then again, she's been in the background of New Labour since it's beginning, being one of John Smith's darlings. I hope you do well, Margaret. I suspect the House will be well served in you. An interesting surname, given Thomas Becket's run-in with the whole Church/State relationship. Perhaps they added to a 't' to disguise their lineage (wink).

Another reason to celebrate is the anniversary of a friend's ordination to the Diaconate. We are now well and truly into the ordination season. Whilst Phill is now a fully fledged Priest of some standing (his anniversary of ordination to priesthood passed on 31st May) it is good to recall that all priests are deacons too. When I am ordained in three weeks I will remain ordained a deacon.

Finally, let us remember in our prayers our own priest. Those whom we know well and those who we have been asked to pray for. If you are following the Birmingham Diocesan Year for Priests Poster, then you will know today we are asked to pray for Fr Bernard Anwyl. Interestingly, or not as may be the case, Fr Bernard was one of the first priests who I talked to about my own inspired vocation to the priesthood, so God bless you and thank you, Father.

21 June 2009

Fr Kieran Anderson

Today, we are asked to keep in our prayers, Fr Kieran Anderson. May God bless his ministry.

If you have not already done so, you may like to visit the website, http://www.ukpriest.org/, for all sorts of information on priesthood, or http://www.yearforpriests.org/, which has been put together by the Birmingham Vocations team and includes some information from yours truly, or the Oscott Seminarians weblog here, which includes a picture of our very own Sacred Heart statue here in the chapel.

20 June 2009

Fr Amal

Lord, in this Year of the Priest, we ask your blessing upon all your priests, but especially today on the life and ministry of Fr Michael Amalados, may his love for you and his service of your people grow stronger each day. Lord in your mercy...

Year of the Priest

Many better writers than I are commenting on the Year of the Priest and so I want to mark the start of this wonderful year by recalling a simple enough event of the day.

We have, as a community, begun praying at morning office for all priests and by name one of the Birmingham Priests. 19 June was Canon Allport. The key moment, for me, of the day was when, during the Mass with the year 6 pupils, four of our resident staff stepped forward after the homily, gathered around the Altar, and committed their lives to the service of the people of God.

You couldn't ask for anything more exquisite than to see four grown men give up everything to follow Jesus and to show that most especially in the way they minister to his body on earth, the Church. You want to know what priesthood is? Well, it's that. Nothing more and nothing less. In their simple, everyday action and words they became more perfectly configured to Christ.

God bless you reverend fathers.

18 June 2009

Ven Matt Talbot...

... pray for us.
18 June is the day on which we rely on the prayers of Matt Talbot, a recovering alcoholic.

Matt Talbot can be considered the patron of men and women struggling with alcoholism.

Born in Dublin, in 1856, his father worked on the docks and had a difficult time supporting his family. After a few years of schooling, Matt obtained work as a messenger for some liquor merchants; there he began to drink excessively and soon became an alcoholic. For 15 years, until he was 30, he drank heavily.

But one day he decided to take 'the pledge' for three months, make a general confession and begin to attend daily Mass. There is evidence that Matt's first seven years after taking the pledge were especially difficult. Avoiding his former drinking places was hard. He began to pray as intensely as he used to drink. He also tried to pay back people from whom he had borrowed or stolen money while he was drinking.

Most of his life Matt worked as a builder's labourer. He joined the Secular Franciscan Order and from then on began a life of strict penance. He abstained from meat nine months a year and spent hours every night reading the Bible and the lives of the saints. He also prayed the rosary regularly. Though his job did not make him rich, Matt contributed generously to the missions.
After 1923 his health failed and Matt had to quit his job.

He died two years later on his way to church on Trinity Sunday. In 1973 Pope Paul VI gave him the title Venerable.

You can read more here, which is a great synopsis of his life. I heartily recommend Matt Talbot for all manner of addictions!

George Basil Cardinal Hume OSB OM

On Tuesday, the eleventh Archbishop of Westminster was principal celebrant of an anniversary Mass for the ninth Archbishop of Westminster. Here's how he truly captured the essence of the man:

17 JUNE 2009

As we gather for the celebration of this Requiem Mass I am sure that our minds and hearts are filled with memories of Cardinal Basil Hume. Each of us has our treasured stories and, welling up within us, a flow of gratitude for all that he gave us. This evening we gather again to thank God for the gracefulness of that life and for all the gifts we received through the ministry of George Basil Hume.
This evening we also remember and pray for Cardinal Thomas Winning who died on this same date, two years later, in 2001.
For my part, there are two memories of Cardinal Hume that stand out. Each of them points to those deeper qualities of life he showed so clearly, qualities that spoke eloquently to us all and affected us so deeply.
I recall the story of an evening when the Cardinal was crossing the piazza outside the Cathedral. One of the men from the Passage was doing the same. When he caught sight of the Cardinal he called out cheerfully: ‘Hi, Cardinal! I’m wearing your trousers!’
It was true. The Cardinal gave his clothes, eventually, for use by those who had a wardrobe smaller even that his. Nothing was to be wasted. He even didn’t want to be buried in his best monastic habit, but in the old one, well patched. The best one went back to Ampleforth, for recycling!
Quite simply he was always acutely aware of the needs of others. As we know, he had a compassionate heart. He was moved by poverty, hardship and, of course, injustice.
This humane and deeply compassionate man acted on these promptings. The list of those actions is impressive: the Passage in St Vincent’s Convent, the Cardinal Hume Centre itself, his spontaneous insistence on travelling to Ethopia to show support for all those caught up in that dreadful famine, the campaign for the Guildford Four and others unjustly imprisoned. For all his monastic manner, this was a man of action, often quietly carried out but sometimes designed to catch public attention and bring about real and lasting change. And in this action he was resolute and always well prepared. He didn’t like being caught out on matters of fact. ‘Today,’ he would announce, ‘I’m a world expert in bio-ethics.’ But he quickly added: ‘But only for today. By tomorrow I will have forgotten it all!’
This same humane and compassionate spirit also shaped his words and actions as a teacher of the faith. Moral dilemmas were never abstract or theoretical. Questions about the nuclear deterrent had to be thought through keeping in mind the consciences of Catholic members of the crew of the Polaris submarines. He was resolved, for example, that those of a homosexual orientation should not feel alienated from the Church by an insensitive or incomplete presentation of the Church’s sexual moral teaching. He insisted that we heed the Church’s teaching that people are not to be defined by their sexuality, a teaching much overlooked today. He gave fresh emphasis to a forgotten esteem for the love of genuine friendship.
In facing these and other moral dilemmas he sought to uphold the greater good while never belittling our best efforts and strivings. He was a compassionate teacher, never forgetful of his own weaknesses and therefore always sensitive to the vulnerability of others. He had taken to heart the words of St Paul which we have just heard: ‘the human race has nothing to boast about to God’ other than the grace of God at work in us. Since this comes about through Christ, he, therefore, is ‘our wisdom, and our virtue, and our holiness and our freedom.’ (1 Cor 1.29-30). We thank God for such an inspired teacher.
My second treasured memory is quite different. It comes from the end of his life, one of his last public appearances in the Diocese. Shortly before he died, even though in great pain and discomfort, the Cardinal came to St Edward’s Parish, Golders Green, for Vespers. The church was packed; the hall too. He spoke to us from the heart, helped simply by a few words scribbled on a single piece of paper. He told us of his favourite Gospel passage: the return of the Prodigal Son; the vigil of the loving Father, the very passage we have just heard. He spoke of his own journey towards death, the anxiety that he felt and the profound sense of going to his Father, to whom he could tell his story, without ambiguity, and with confidence in the loving mercy with which he would be heard. It was a testimony without parallel. There was not a sound in the church, nor a dry eye, as we soaked up his words, knowing so well we would not hear him again. I shall never forget it.
In that moment we saw, and now we recall with such gratitude, the honesty, the generosity and the openness of his profound inner, personal faith. He had a rare gift of putting into words, for us all, the struggle involved in reaching out towards God. He helped us to understand that only occasionally will we catch a glimpse of God’s beauty and goodness, and that we are to live for the most part in hopeful trust, knowing that God is near, even if we do not easily or readily sense His presence.
Here are some of the words he wrote in 1994:
‘The existence of God is not obvious. The revelation of God in human history and in individual lives is not always so transparent as to compel us to acknowledge his sovereignty and dominion over us. So we have to choose to bridge the distance that separates us from God, or, more strictly speaking, choose to respond to the initiative which God takes to meet us where we are, that is, in the reality of our daily lives….
To go in search of God requires effort and a measure of self-discipline and self-denial. The voice of God does not speak dramatically, as in a hurricane, or an earthquake, or a fire, but calls to us gently in the very depth of our being. To hear the voice of God demands some solitude, silence and stillness. In our society today there is too much noise, both around and within us, and the quiet voice of God becomes stifled. But in a moment of gentle stillness, God not only reveals something of himself, but he transforms us, too. So if God exists, it is the most fundamental truth of all. It changes everything. It cannot be both true and not matter.’ (‘The Hinterland of Freedom: Morality and Solidarity’, The Month, March 1994)
Of course it mattered for him. And it matters for us. This is why we heed again with gratitude his teaching and his example in the quality of inner life, of prayer and peace, for which we struggle daily.
But this evening, as we celebrate this Mass, what exactly are we doing? We are most certainly thanking God for the wonderful gifts he gave to us through Cardinal Hume. We may also be thinking of him looking down on us, keeping his kindly eye on all we do, talking to his beloved Father about our needs and pointing out our good intentions especially in our moments of failure. Certainly, I am. But if we heed what the Cardinal would be telling us now, then we must also be praying for him, asking our loving Father to forgive his failings and to hold our dear Cardinal in his bosom until the time comes for all things to be restored in Christ. Then, when the dead shall rise, a new heaven and a new earth shall break forth, in ways we cannot imagine. Then, we shall see what we only rarely glimpse: a new order of true peace and justice, true eternal praise and the glory of God in all things. This is our prayer tonight. This is our Christian hope.
Dear Cardinal Hume be with us on our journey, strengthen us by your prayer and help us to be a light in our world today to the goodness, compassion and glory of our heavenly Father. Amen

Thanks to Whispers in the Loggia for this report.

16 June 2009

Please pray for the healing of a friend

O Blessed Trinity,
We thank you for having graced the Church with Pope John Paul II
and for allowing the tenderness of your Fatherly care,
the glory of the cross of Christ,
and the splendour of the Holy Spirit, to shine through him.
Trusting fully in Your infinite mercy
and in the maternal intercession of Mary,
he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd,
and has shown us that holiness is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life and is
the way of achieving eternal communion with you.
Grant us, by his intercession, and according to Your will,
the graces we implore,hoping that he will
soon be numbered among your saints.
Please pray for the intercession of the late Pope John Paul the Great that he may seek a miracle healing for a friend of mine, also by the name of John Paul, that he may be saved at this time. He is currently in a coma in hospital.
Update: Wed, 17 June at 4pm. Thanks for the prayers. John Paul remains in a coma but things are looking more hopeful and so please, if you can, keep those prayers coming. I'll keep you updated.
Update: Fri, 19 June at 10pm. JP is showing signs of recovery and whilst he remains sedated the doctors are more hopeful. Praying for a miracle is effective and where there was love now we have hope. Thanks.
Update: Sun, 21 June at 10pm. The prayed for miracle has happened! John Paul continues to improve and is now responsive. He remains heavily sedated but the doctors hope to remove some tubes on Monday/Tuesday from his throat. He is aware of those around him. Again, huge thanks for all your continuing prayers.

13 June 2009

Home from Assisi

Well, we're back from the heat and hills of Assisi much refreshed, spiritually at least. I've yet to get any photographs sorted out and so hope you will forgive this one found on wikimedia. It gives a real sense of the hill upon which the town has developed. It dates back to Roman times if memory serves me well and by the time of Francis and Clare, which we associate with the town now, was already a busy and developed town. It was, at that time, known as the home of St Rufino of Assisi and today the Cathedral remains under his patronage. Rufino was a Roman martyr of the third century and first bishop of Assisi. You can read more of his life here. He remains buried below the altar it seems.

The pilgrimage itself was very moving spiritually and I was pleased to learn more of the lives of both Francis and Clare. Our homilies were exceptional - all agreed - and much praise is due to our learned and holy priests who accompanied us. Enormous thanks to Dr Champ, our tour guide extraordinaire and some-time Director of Studies.

Assisi is a hot town, though I'm told the Romans like to come up in the summer months to escape the heat! One can only imagine the heat of Rome in during August. Such was the great time that three of us committed to return on vacation/pilgrimage next year when we'll be two priests and a deacon, God willing.

Time is very precious this weekend as we prepare for the forthcoming schools outreach programme. When time is more amenable to blogging, then I will, but meanwhile might I impose on your prayers for the schools who will be visiting over the coming fortnight and most especially for the children. We pray that they may hear the voice of Christ in their lives and ever follow his Holy prompting.

You were all remembered in my prayers at the Church of St Damian (San Damiano) which is the church in which Francis heard the crucifix tell him to build His church and also where St Clare spent so much of her life and, indeed, died there.

7 June 2009

We're going to Assisi

Later on this evening, or early in the morning depending upon your viewpoint, we are off on pilgrimage to Assisi, in Italy. We fly out to Rome to be able to have Mass at the Basilica of St Paul's outside the Walls and thus make our trip to the tomb of St Paul in this year of the great Apostle. On Tuesday, we're celebrating Mass in the Basilica of St Peter's in the Vatican and then travelling on to Assisi.

Over the course of the next three days we will soak up the atmosphere and spirituality of both Francis and Clare. You can find out more on our seminary blog, Year of the Priest. I'm told it's terribly hilly but taxi cabs are plentiful. Hmmm, hope they are.

Therefore, until the weekend, may God be with you and make His face to shine upon you. Pray for us as I will pray for you all.
The picture, which is wonderful, is The Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine with St. Francis, St. Clare, St. Cosmas and St. Damian by Gaspare Pagani.

6 June 2009

And in the end - we partied

This is a newsy update.

We are in the final throes of life in seminary. I use the term 'we' in a sort of old fashioned way since in reality it applies just to those who are preparing to leave Oscott this summer. The rest will return and will no doubt keep us up to date via the new blog, which is covering a great little story from Michael P.

Last night, with room almost packed and ready to go, we had a fabulous party, though I do declare this myself and I was the host. Two others have corroborated the bon vivant atmosphere, however. Lots of clearing away to be done, and thanks to my brothers it has been done in record time, and wondering now what to do with the remaining bottles. Party anyone? For the celebrations we enjoyed the, now famous, summer punch though I'm sworn to never reveal the contents. Literally or metaphorically.

Monday, at the deadly hour of 2.30am, we head to Heathrow and then on to Assisi via Rome for the annual pilgrimage. Even with the recession we have managed to pull it off to get to Italy and I, for one, cannot wait to get there. Some great housekeeping has, no doubt, been undertaken to fund the trip. I have almost been to Assisi once but never quite made it. Promises to be wonderfully spiritually uplifting and I'm poised with some good reading material. Will tell all upon our return.

Right - best get on with packing. Now, where did I put that box?

Oh, and the picture - not the party, since those photographs are not for public consumption yet very funny! This picture - just because we can. Nuns having fun.

4 June 2009

Joe Versus the Volcano

When you are in need of inspiration a great place to begin is the lives of the saints. After all, one of my great heroes, Ignatius of Loyola, began in just this way. The result - The Jesuits. Fantastic.

Today, I stumbled across this great blog from Mark called Joe Versus the Volcano. I'm not sure the reasoning for the title, but finding the blog is like finding a volcano. It looks just like any other blog, with bite size chunks to go at but when you look for longer you discover hidden depths to it and it is chocker full of really, really useful stuff. Well done, Mark, on a great blog. God be with you, and the cats.

The site is full of really interesting saints who are largely forgotten in some parts and yet offer great inspiration to our modern world. Enjoy!

Zap, the moment

Recently I have been reflecting upon the moment at which I will, praise God, be ordained a priest. In a sholastic sort of musing, I wonder, when is the moment at which I am a priest? At what point during the rite of ordination is it effective?

The Code of Canon Law says holy orders "are conferred by the imposition of hands and the consecratory prayer which the liturgical books prescribe for the individual grades", in other words it's during that sacred moment after the bishop has laid hands upon my head, followed by the rest of the presbyterate present and then he (the bishop) says the prayer of consecration.

There is a moment during the prayer, when the bishop will say "Almighty Father, grant to this servant of yours the dignity of the priesthood." Is this the actual moment? Some would say yes. It's the invoking of the Holy Spirit. This is when both matter and form are present for the valid ordination.

The compendium of the catechism asks the question; What is the effect of ordination to the priesthood? Then replies; The anointing of the Spirit seals the priest with an indelible, spiritual character that configures him to Christ the priest and enables him to act in the name of Christ the Head.

When the Holy Spirit is called down upon me by the bishop, then I am sealed with the gift of the same spirit and then I am able to say I am configured to Christ the priest. Then I can act in persona Christi Capitis. It's beginning to make sense, or at least it's beginning to dawn on me the full stature of what I am about to undertake. I get why the bishop might say, during the Eucharistic Prayer, "and me your unworthy servant."

Who is ever worthy to be ordained?

Yet, this is precisely what the Rector of the seminary will be asked: Do you judge him to be worthy? The rector will reply, hopefully, After enquiry among the people of Christ and upon recommendation of those concerned with his training, I testify that he has been found worthy. Is he being untruthful?

Whilst it valid to say I am biased, I rather suspect he can make that judgment and I cannot. I cannot testify that I am worthy, because I am not. He can testify that I am worthy because he has a disinterested opinion, save to say his job is to select men suitable for ordination and the Bishop, by the nature of his office, is able to confirm the calling of God.

Wow, it's heavy stuff. These are just a few of the thoughts rumbling around in my head. Some of the reasons why it is not easy to sleep thinking about the tasks and duties ahead of me. I do sleep comfortably, though, because it isn't me who has this responsibility. Rather it is God. Work as though all depends upon you, pray as though all depends upon God. On this note - I'm off to pray. Well, someone has to get this thing sorted! How will he comfort me if I'm not talking to him? Obvious, really. Worry not about when he will act, rather seek first to hear his voice.

3 June 2009

Mgr Louis McRaye and the Diner

On Tuesday, 2nd June, the college celebrated a marvelous end of the exam schedule in one of those "moments of life that make it worth living", said one of my friends, in talking about the blessing of Louis' Diner, here at the seminary. Let me explain.

Mgr Louis McRaye, a saint in the making, was the Spiritual Director at Oscott for 11 years through the 1980s and into the 1990s. In his time he always encouraged the students to gather around a table and share a meal. As he said, on Tuesday, you can really get to know someone around the table. Such was his hospitality and draw to encourage socialising amongst the student body of 103 guys that he gave up the ground floor to his bailiwick whilst on the staff. Henceforth, this diner/kitchen has been known as Louis' Diner and is an amazing facility for student use.

It has, I'm sure, been blessed many times over during the years, but the current students wanted to have the good old monsignor come by and bless it for good measure. Fr Louis is now 94 and celebrating a mere 47 years as a priest. Though this has been a desire for as long as I've been in seminary, which is six years, it was high time we did it. So it was organised. We have his picture on the wall, and now have the great honour that he has blessed us and the room. Fr Dave Cain was up to Oscott to visit one of the Nottingham students, Neil, since he is the Vocations Director now. Fr Dave told us that he was one of the students who had decorated it during the late 1990s when it came into being as a Diner. What wonderful fortuitous coincidence that we should have the entire history of the Diner present at the same time.

We enjoyed a wonderful, informal High Tea for the occassion, thanks to Craig, Michael and Craig for their expert guidance in such matters. Though the great Anne did bake for the occasion, it was a Tea to remember, including two options of tea, with leaves of course. The Fortnum and Mason smoked earl grey didn't do it for me in the event.

Mgr McRaye regaled the students with tales of his life and priesthood and had them, quite literally, sitting at his feet; though this picture shows them kneeling almost in a state of reverence. It was interesting to observe the dynamics of the staff and students in the room. Now this is not a criticism of the students, but we can be a little reticent with visitors to college, of whom there are a great many, and the staff are left to do most the hospitality. On this occasion the worm had turned. The students appeared to be mesmerised by the presence on the man. Do you know why? I think it is because from Fr McRaye shone out the joy of priesthood. He has a wonderful twinkle in his eye and you can just tell he's enjoyed every moment of the last 47 years. Golden jubilees are, one supposes, always a time of joy and excitement, but I think Fr Louis is very much looking forward to his. He told us he'd spent one summer marrying many of his students from his chaplaincy days at Warwick university. 30,000 miles he clocked pootling around the country to keep his promises. What a witness!

Thank you to all who helped organise the event, those who baked, and cooked (there were 72 vol au vents), and brewed and drove and blessed and proclaimed the gospel and came along. You have all contributed to the coming Kingdom. One of those moments, and you really had to be there, was when he spoke to Roger. Now Roger knew Fr Louis from his time at Warwick university and was in his early years of seminary when Father was on the staff. After Fr Louis left Roger took some time away from seminary an d has returned, due to be ordained on 27th of this month. As Roger introduced himself again, Fr Louis was heard to ask "are you still here" suggesting poor Roger had never been away and spent. A hoot, but like I say, you had to be there.
As we drove the monsignor back to his presbytery we couldn't help but seek his pearl of wisdom for a long and joyous priesthood. Simple, he says, pray and visit. Be faithful to the Lord and visit families whenever you can. Advice that has been repeated time and again and one I plan to follow.

2 June 2009

Year for Priests

Today, I came across a great little leaflet for the Year for Priests, published by the Vocations Team in Birmingham Archdiocese. Well done, Chris. It's great. They have chosen to reproduce Cardinal Carberry's prayer for priests:

O Jesus, our great High Priest, Hear my humble prayers, on behalf of your priest, Father _______

Give him a deep faith, a bright and firm hope and a burning love which will ever increase in the course of his priestly life. In his loneliness, comfort him. In his sorrows, strengthen him. In his frustrations, point out to him that it is through suffering that the soul is purified, and show him that he is needed by the Church, he is needed by souls, he is needed for the work of redemption.

O loving Mother Mary, Mother of Priests, take to your heart your son who is close to you because of his priestly ordination, and because of the power which he has received to carry on the work of Christ in a world which needs him so much. Be his comfort, be his joy, be his strength, and especially help him to live and to defend the ideals of consecrated celibacy. Amen.

Also of great comfort, for one approaching ordination, is this positive piece on celebrating the anniversary of ordination to the priesthood by Jane at My Heart Was Restless. Thanks.


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