Thursday, 5 June 2014

ACTA would be rightly proud !

The Report of  a meeting between the Association of Catholic Priests and representatives of the Irish Episcopal Conference in the Columba Centre in Maynooth on June 4, 2014 makes interesting reaading.  They have covered ground that I feel sure ACTA would love to cover.  I look forward to the report from the full conference of Bishops in response, though I won't hold my breath.  Read the report here

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Chair of Quest meets Cardinal Gracias

The chair of Quest, Ruby Almeida, has met Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay and one of Pope Francis' group of 8 cardinal advisors.  Terence Weldon has an insightful review of the meeting on his 'Queering the Church' Blog.

It is interesting to read of the Cardinals honesty that "he was not aware of the difficulties and pain that they (the LGBT community) suffered as he is isolated from grass roots issues and only aware of what he is informed of by his advisers."

"Archbishop Gracias was open to "the possibility of a Mass under the banner of ‘all are welcome’ and the hope is that this could be the start of something positive for the Catholic gay community there.”

Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry writes:

"Cardinal Gracias has already shown he can be courageous about LGBT issues when last year he was India’s only religious leader to speak out against the possible re-criminalization of homosexuality in that country.  The fact that he is also so close to Pope Francis means that his opinion on these matters can have a lot of weight. In addition to being a close papal advisor, Gracias is also President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and Secretary General of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, so his influence can also be horizontal to other bishops, as well as vertical to the Vatican and Pope Francis."

Makes an exciting to change to hear a positive view about LGBT issues.  Intrinsically good news in my book !

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Jesuit head: Religion isn't doctrine, but sensitivity to human experience . . .

I was delighted to read the article below in the National Catholic Reporter.  It expressed views that have intrigued me for a long time.  I have often thought that the point of great music was to inspire the heart and mind, to enjoy, to relax, to celebrate, to commiserate and so on. 

Music can also be described in a scientific way too.  I’m no physicist, but I can imagine we can speak of vibrations of a segmented string of length x, lasting a duration of x seconds and of a specific volume and so on, until each note has been laboriously analyzed from a scientific perspective. Who could possibly appreciate reading the scientific description over and above listening to the piece as its composer intended?

It strikes me that in the light of this analogy, there are many who approach religion in a similar ways.  Some analyze to the nth degree, others sit back and celebrate.  Depending which particular person you are I guess you’ll either understand what I’m getting or think I’m a nutter !

Enjoy the Bach . . . .

Meanwhile here’s the beginning of the NCR article

Religion is less a code of doctrines and teachings than a sensitivity to the "dimensions of transcendence" that underlie the human experience, the head of Pope Francis' Jesuit order said Friday.
Likening the religious experience to a person who can appreciate the intricacies and variations of classical music, Jesuit Fr. Adolfo Nicolás said "religion is first of all very much more like this musical sense than a rational system of teachings and explanations."

"Religion involves first of all a sensitivity to, an openness to, the dimensions of transcendence, of depth, of gratuity, of beauty that underlie our human experiences," Nicolás said. "But of course, this is a sensitivity that is threatened today by a purely economic or materialist mindset which deadens this sensitivity to deeper dimension of reality."

Continue reading here

Monday, 17 March 2014

Bun Fight at the RC Corral

Interesting to watch the too-ing and fro-ing of so called informed, mature opinion and debate in the catholic media and blogs.   
Reading the ‘comments’  in many blogs or news sites reveals pretty nasty comments from all sides of the debate.  Hardly edifying stuff from a religion worshipping  a God of love. 
Reminds me  more of the childish food fights that used to be the diet of Saturday morning TV.  Grow up eh ?

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Strange things in blogging world . . .

Strange things seem to be happening in the blog world at the moment. Most blogs seem to have been 'left footed' since Pope Francis was appointed.  Second guessing as to any 'change' is rife and criticism as to him going 'too far' is also present.

The upcoming Synod on the family is eagerly anticipated, but whether a particular Bishops conference publishes results of the questionnaire has tempered any further speculation. It's even had an effect on my own blog where posting has been a little quiet.  I've kept my eye on the blogging world though . . . . .

I'm also a bit perplexed by the story of protect the pope blog.  I might not be in agreement with his blog but something makes me very uneasy about a Bishops request to desist from writing.  Yes, he's been criticising people in a manner I find odious, but surely he has a right to self expression and write as his conscience dictates.  Contrast this with the bishops of England and Wales inviting responses to the questionnaire for the synod and then not letting anyone know what was said.

Seems like exciting times are ahead.  Could call me back to blogging more regularly.  Keep going everyone !

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Secrets of the Vatican : Documentary

A documentary aired in America on Feb 25th is well worth a visit before it goes offline ! interesting Cardinal Murphy O'Connor makes and appearance as well as Robert Mickens.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Fr Anthony de Mello SJ

I think it's about time I included a post about Fr Anthony de Mello SJ.  Below is the first paragraph of his wiki entry and a website dedicated to his work can be found here.  There are videos on youtube that de Mello allowed to be recorded, "Wake Up !" The first installment is included below.

Anthony "Tony" de Mello (4 September 1931, Bombay, British India – 2 June 1987, New York City) was a Jesuit priest and psychotherapist who became widely known for his books on spirituality. An internationally acclaimed spiritual guide, writer and public speaker, de Mello hosted many spiritual conferences. See below for the names of these programs which are available on audio CD and film. He traveled to many countries to study and later to teach, most notably Spain and the United States.

He allowed one full Conference to be recorded which is available on audio CD -- "Wake Up to Life"—a considerably powerful program which speaks about the "I" which can observe that which is 'me' -- along with topics of Love, Happiness, Illusion, Freedom. He draws extensively from his experience as a psychotherapist and gives many stories throughout. He allowed a few, shorter talks to be filmed, such as "A Rediscovery of Life" and "A Way to God for Today," which have inspired many viewers and audiences since being released; and have been viewed by hundreds of thousands of TV watchers throughout the United States, Canada, and Central America; in colleges, universities, Newman centers, and communities. De Mello established a prayer center in India. He died suddenly of a heart attack in 1987, at age 55. His works are readily available and additional writings were published after his death.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Solitaries and Hermits . . . .

It may have been a while coming, but, surprisingly I have only recently discovered the popularity of 'urban' Monasticism and also found out what a solitary is !  Strange it's taken me this long, but delighted to have had my eyes opened to this way of life. 

I stumbled across a few articles in the press about people who have been called to take up this way of life.  they are interesting reading.

An article from the Tablet is a good place to start as a background to all of this called "The hermits Battle." More personal accounts can be found in an article taken from The Independent, called "British hermits : the growing lure of the solitary life."  In the telegraph an article called "Life lessons from modern day hermits", Stafford Whiteaker near Malvern and Sarah Maitland near Stranraer are chronicled.   Rachel Denton celebrates a life of solitude in Lincolnshire and is the subject of a BBC article, "The Modern hermit living in an end of terrace house."

Organisations in support of this growing way of life include the Fellowship of Solitaries and the Association of British Contemplatives.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Saint Charbel Movie

I love these excerpts from the 1960s film about the life of Saint Charbel.  If you want more have a look at the whole film which can be viewed online by clicking here !  St Charbel deserves to be more well known in the West.

St Charbel Maklouf

There is a widespread opinion that ministry and community are the crucible of the Christian life.  Where there are signs of growth, there is true faith.  This may be true in part, but the example of St Charbel reveals a ministry and spirituality lived in isolation.   Find out more about him here

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Assisi tomorrow !

This wonderful piece, so full of life and hope, sums up my mood for tomorrow's historic meeting in Assisi !

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Matthew Fox : Letters to Pope Francis

"Is it any wonder that I hear theologians and Priests in South America saying, "We used to serve the Church; now we serve humanity." People are going beyond the church and outgrowing it's structures everywhere. We need less of structures and more of the Gospel and it's values of justice and compassion preached and lived." Matthew Fox: Letters to Pope Francis

Monday, 26 August 2013

Fr Helmut Schuller

Good to hear him in his own words.  Makes perfect sense.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Benedict XVI God told me to resign . .

God told me to resign, says Pope Emeritus

Vatican City - Former Pope Benedict has said he resigned after “God told me to” during what he called a “mystical experience”, a Catholic news agency reported.

Benedict, whose formal title is now Pope Emeritus, announced his shock resignation on February 11 and on February 28 became the first pontiff to step down in 600 years.

“God told me to do it,” the Zenith agency quoted Benedict as saying to a visitor to the convent in the Vatican gardens where he is living out his retirement in near isolation.

According to the agency, Benedict told his visitor, who asked to remain anonymous, that God did not speak to him in a vision but in what the former pope called “a mystical experience”.

According to Italian media, Benedict's decision to step down was influenced by the various scandals that blighted his eight-year papacy, including the arrest of his personal butler for leaking private documents alleging corruption in the Vatican.

He was succeeded by Pope Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, who was elected as the first non-European pontiff in 1 300 years.

According to the Rome-based Zenith, Benedict told his visitor that the more he observes the way Francis carries out his papal duties, the more he realised the choice was “wanted by God”.

Last Sunday, Benedict spent a day at the papal summer retreat at Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, to escape the heat of the capital.

The visit indicated that the 86-year-old ex pope's health was good enough for him to travel. There had been media reports that since his resignation, Benedict's health had deteriorated dramatically. - Reuters

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

St Charbel Makhlouf

Anyone called to Contemplative prayer should find out more about St Charbel.  There are two movies to be found on the Maronite Channel.  One in colour and the other black and white, both worth watching.

This is a movie about the Lebanese Saint Sharbel covering a very tiny part of his life. He is known as the "Saint drunk in God" in reference to his deep faith, humbleness, humility. At his time in the 1800s he was very educated but he did not leave education ruin his relation with God. Saint Sharbel protect Lebanon, was a subtitle of his picture during the war.

He became a hermit in the hermitage of Saint Maron Monastery in the mountains of Lebanon (5000ft elevation). He was known for his silence and dignity. Whereever Saint Sharbel was, there was prayer or silence.

Millions of miracles were done through his intercession and letters were sent from different countries in the world to show the thanks and be an example for all believers.
Many events were not recorded in this movie due to the lack of time, you can visit the monastery website for additional information in different languages:

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Parable of the Life Saving Station . . . .

a timely reminder for fledgling communities or reform groups !

Monday, 27 May 2013

Unfettered Ressurection . . . .

Why would the creator create a universe where all the parts grow and develop but not the whole ?

God is, without doubt, a great risk taker and probably that explains the endless and bizarre displays of life that we see on this earth.

God is clearly into freedom, imagination and creativity.  Look at nature: we end up with every conceivable shape and colour of jellyfish, desert kangaroos that turn their urine back into liquid to nurse their young, and twenty-five hundred types of cicades, some of which appear only every seventeen years.

Who is this God?  You could call God unfettered ressurection! Humans, by contrast, are preoccupied with stability, efficiency, and control, even if it means boredom and death."
Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond pg 89/90

Friday, 17 May 2013

Chunnering Rosary ? Probably not . . . .

Please don’t think me rude, but, I often wonder why groups of people get together to chunner out the Rosary in a quasi Liturgical way ?  Rules are so important.  Not just the right prayer on the correct bead, but, whether or not to include the Fatima prayer, the alternate ‘cantoring’ of the first half of each prayer and of course saying the correct mysteries on the proper day.  Who could ever pray the glorious Mysteries on a Friday ?  

To my mind the mysteries are central to the Rosary.  They are a like reading a passage of scripture or holding a dogma in your heart.   We think carefully about the mystery, using our imagination and inspired by the Holy Spirit are led into a prayerful restfulness with a still mind, “at rest as a child in it’s mother’s arms . . . . .”

This sounds very much like the Benedictine practice of Lectio Divina, formalised by the 12th century carthusian monk Guigo II.  St John of the Cross taught Guigo’s method of prayer.  A passage of scripture is read, meditated upon leading to prayer and contemplation. Lectio-Meditatio-oratio- Contemplatio.  Some maintain this strict order, whilst others suggest a weaving between the elements should not be considered second rate lectio.
Contemplative prayer has only recently been rediscovered by the wider church, having been considered the preserve of mystics or cast aside in favour of popular devotions arising from the Counter Reformation.

As a child I read the stories of Lourdes and Fatima where we were asked to pray the Rosary in response to Mary’s request.   I don’t think I understood it then, but now I wonder has Mary been calling us back to renewal of the contemplative tradition and wisdom that had been so buried and neglected in the triumphalism of the Counter reformation and the fog of the enlightenment? 

What journeys into the mystery of God will be 'present'  next time I come across a group ‘chunnering’ the Rosary.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Ricahrd Rohr : Immortal Diamond

Whilst some bloggers are banging their heads over 'pro multis,' novus ordo and other life boats they need to desperately hang onto, I just love the freedom that Richard Rohr teaches. 

He's a superb spiritual teacher and one I feel more at home with.  He has a positive message and not one that defines itself by what he is against !  Purchase his book Immortal Diamond from Amazon