Wednesday, 23 July 2014

A good death and good nuns

Some nuns rejoice at the unusual sighting of some positive publicity.

In preaching last week about the "Assisted Suicide" Bill going through Parliament, I lamented the fact that so little government money was spent on hospices, where people are enabled to make a "good" death. This happens now mostly in a secular setting, though linked to our traditional theological understanding of what that means - being prepared not just to leave this world but to enter the next.  Not surprising considering that so many Hospices were founded by Catholics and other Christians. Our own local Hospice (named after St Catherine of Sienna and opened on her feast day in 1981) was founded by a good Catholic lady from Preston with her parish priest as one of the founding trustees.  How much more truly good and human it is to help people live whatever remains of their lives to the very best of their ability, rather than spend money on helping them to commit suicide?

The Telegraph today carries an article on hospices written by Lord Howard that highlights the good work hospices do and, incidentally, praises the role of "gentle nuns" who gave great care in his father's last months alive.  So easy for the general public to forget all the positive things the Church (and Her nuns) do, in the climate of hatred so often whipped up against the Faith.
Lord Howard recalled the death of his father at the family home in South Wales. He said: "I was a fledgling barrister at the time. He [my father] was told he would die in six months time and that's indeed what happened. I was there at the end.  "Before he died he was looked after by an extraordinarily dedicated group of nuns, and the devotion and care which they lavished on him as always stayed with me. The word I would use is gentleness. Gentle, loving care."

Friday, 18 July 2014

How to really assist the dying


I posted about signing the on-line petition against assisted suicide the other day. Matthew Schellhorn has written an article that speaks very plainly about how such a law might affect everyday lives in reality and how a more wholesome understanding of the precious gift of life can enhance even very painful experiences. (He more usually writes about matters musical, as he's a rising star in that world.) I first met Matthew last year when he organised the music for a Mass for the Order of St Lazarus in London.  He is to be congratulated on speaking so personally. 
As mum’s health declined and the opportunities for ‘normal life’ decreased, the possibilities expanded. We lived the paradox that when there are limits to life the freedom is greater. Mum knew that positive experiences would sustain the bereaved left behind: that further altruism gave her life some meaning...
Perhaps such personal testimonies are more powerful than all our theological and political arguments - although its a lack of theological and philosophical understanding, even at the most basic level, that lies behind so much of the malaise that our emaciated culture is experiencing in these days. When everything is subjective, we are on shifting sands and that's a difficult place too build anything.

Lord Lloyd Webber also speaks very personally in the Telegraph today of how easy it is to be led down a path that we might not live to regret should this practice come into force in our country.

I notice as well that from the earlier phrase of "assisted suicide" we have no moved over to "assisted dying" - so much less uncomfortable to speak plainly in these matters!

The vote takes place in the House of Lords today - which by Divine Providence is the Feast of St Camillus in the older calendar - founder of the Congregation sometimes called "The Fathers of a Good Death", the Camililans or Clerks Regular Ministers to the Sick.

Interestingly, he was ordained in Rome by Thomas Goldwell, the last Catholic Bishop to hold out against the English Reformation - just as the Church today needs to hold out against the destruction of all that was once held sacred, including life itself.

St Camillus - Pray for us.


Thursday, 17 July 2014

Summer Fete


This week we are in the midst of preparing for the annual Parish Summer Fete.  Needless to say that much of the preparation falls to Father - along with Latin, another skill the seminary rather neglected to impart!
Divine Providence has always been rather kind to us in regard to the weather on these occasions, so I'm hoping the foretold thunder storms will keep away on Saturday. Our rather unruly grounds are looking a little smarter than usual due to a good turnout by parishioners last Sunday afternoon for a general tidy up - I'm sure the wine and beer promised at the end of the session had  nothing to do with it!  Thanks to those who cheerfully came along.

Anyway, for parishioners and locals, 
all are welcome this Saturday at 1pm.
You'll probably find me lurking at the barbecue!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Petition to David Cameron


Please consider signing this if you haven't already. Vulnerable and disabled people are at extreme risk if this new bill passes on Friday.

This petition will be delivered to: the Prime Minister, David Cameron
"Follow through on your declared support for the idea that Assisted Dying should not be legalised".


Baroness Jane Campbell, Dr Phil Friend OBE, Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick OBE with the support of many other leading disabled people are organising this campaign to prevent a change in the law on assisted dying.

They are linking this campaign to the international movement opposing Assisted Suicide for Disabled People.

To read more about this campaign, please go to: http://www.notdeadyetuk.org/

Monday, 14 July 2014

Forty Hours Adoration


If you are anywhere near Manchester this coming weekend, 
you might be able to call in to 
Forty Hours Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament 
with the Oratorian Community at St Chad's Church, Cheetham Hill.

With commendable religious fervour, 
they are starting at 7am (!) on Friday 18th July 
and through the night until Saturday at 8.30pm.
Then continuing again on Sunday morning at 8.30am until 11.30am.

Solemn Mass at 11.30am.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

The Church with no right to exist?

"Every notion which tends to bring down the supernatural order to the level of nature tends, by that very fact, to mistake the Church for the world, to conceive of her after the model of human societies, to expect her to change even in her essential structures and her faith to suit the world's changes - and this is indeed what is taking place among a number of our contemporaries... Today the secularist temptation has come to the fore very strongly.  Because the tendency of the times leads (to some extent) towards liberalism, some would like a representative, liberal and constitutional papacy; and because at the same time our society is evolving in a collectivist direction they tend to understand the collegial character of the Church in the form of a collective type of government.  These people overlook the divine laws of the Church because they no longer understand her primary mission.  The Church of Christ's primary, essential, irreplaceable mission is to remind us constantly, opportune, inopportune, of our divine supernatural vocation.
The role of the Church, especially in the person of her sacred ministers, cannot be reduced to [the temporal order which] is never more than a secondary end - even when the temporal order may have to be put first, here and there, so as to open up a path to the Gospel.  Otherwise the Church would be unfaithful to Christ, who did not preach the Kingdom of God "in order to provoke a general liberation of his people and to vanquish the Romans once for all.  She would succumb to that temporal heresy which consists in proposing that the temporal should end up by absorbing the eternal.  Thus losing her own soul, she would be reduced to a mere human organisation, and a totally ineffective one at that.  She would only be a parasite, duplicating, or trying to duplicate - without having either the qualified personnel or the necessary means - the institutions that men can freely create for themselves. At that stage, she should simply disappear.  And this is precisely what those whose minds are totally closed against the supernatural have been demanding for a long time.  This is also - what a paradox! - just what in practice some of her misguided children are clamouring for today, when they talk about wanting a "new" Church.  A Church secularised, naturalised, which would willingly give up her "cult" and replace it with "culture", seeking her lights not in the Gospels (even if lip service were still paid to them), but in the world; a Church which would pretend to be born today from some kind of radical "mutation", which would no longer concern herself, even with disinterested zeal, with anything but the organisation of life on this earth - such a church would have no right to exist any-more in the society of men, and would not be long in meeting dissolution."

Lest anyone think these words are my tipsy ramblings, far from it. These are not my words but the work of none less than Henri de Lubac.  

They were written (originally)  in a 1977 work, "Nature and Grace" (Ignatius Press, page 112ff).  He was was created a Cardinal by Pope St John Paul II in 1983.  

His words seems to pretty much describe where, for the most part, we have ended up today.  
Supplanting the supernatural with the ordinary and the secular.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Blessed Sacrament Procession


I was invited to celebrate the annual Blessed Sacrament Procession for St Anselm's College in Birkenhead on the Wirral last week.  It was a lovely occasion and what a treat it was to enter into a school where the Faith genuinely seemed to be at the forefront of school life, where boys enthusiastically took part as servers and assistants and seemed at ease with the things and acts of the Faith.  We sang "Soul of my Saviour",  the "Tantum Ergo".  There was a great display of photos  as soon as you entered the College of Bishop Mark Davies' visit to the school earlier in the year.  I finished my homily with his words to the boys:
I would like to say to each of you that where the Holy Eucharist is found, you will also find the answer to the greatest question of your lifetime. Here you will find your true vocation.

The Head, staff and governors, as well as the boys, made me feel very welcome.  So often my experience in our "Catholic" schools has taught me to expect that any number of staff will avoid the priest or be embarrassed; that pupils have no idea of who or what the priest is; and that things of the Faith are very much a low priority - and I speak as someone who was in full time Catholic school chaplaincy work for three years.

I think the photographs speak for themselves.  If only my own school and so many others would enter into this kind of commitment to the public proclamation of the Faith in all its glory!






 

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