Friday, 31 October 2008

The Word of God Alive and Active

This Sunday brings us to the Feast of All Saints. A day when we give thanks for the lives of those who now share their lives in praise of God in Heaven. They are a reminder that we must direct our lives to growing in holiness and fidelity to the Lord.

The recent Synod of Bishops in Rome which came to an end last weekend is linked to this desire for holiness. It was focused on the Word of God and reminded us that as Catholic Christian we are feed both at the Table of the Word and the Table of the Lord i.e. Scripture and Eucharist united in the person of Jesus Christ.

Whilst there was perhaps nothing startling in the final 55 propositions from the Synod, except perhaps the suggestion that women as well as men might be instituted as Lectors (n.17), nevertheless there was an important recommitment to bring the Word of God more clearly into the lives of Catholics. This is to be achieved by, amongst other things, better preaching from clergy, lectio divina (prayerful reading of the Bible) and using modern means of communication to promote study and prayer on the Scriptures.

The 55 propositions are available to read in Italian.

The Diocese for its part is offering Advent reflections based around the Sunday Scriptures as well as planing a Lenten resource focused on the Year of St Paul. As well Liturgy Adviser, Barbara Hopper is always happy to help train readers both in understanding the role of Scriptures in the Mass and also offering them practical advice and skills on proclaiming God's Word at Mass. As well the Diocesan Bookshop contains a whole wide selection of books and resource on the Scriptures.

Pope Benedict XVI in his homily at the closing Mass of the Synod said
"Let us pray that from this renewed listening to the Word of God, guided by the action of the Holy Spirit, an authentic renewal of the universal Church may spring forth, as well as of every Christian community."

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Catholics in Space, Know Popery and Singing Catholics!

As well as all the many events that the Diocesan Teams offer to the people of the Diocese many individual parishes offer interesting and different events and activities. On the diocesan front this weekend the Justice & Peace Commission have a day on the environment and the Marriage and Family Life team on home as a holy place.
In the parishes meanwhile there are three very interesting events coming up in parishes across the Diocese in the next few weeks. On 6th November, the evening after Bonfire Night, St Pancras, Lewes, East Sussex has its second aptly named 'Know Popery Lecture' on the life of Bishop Challoner (portrait above) who was born in Lewes.
Then on 8th November Christ the King parish in Weybridge, Surrey has the world renowned Vatican Cosmologist, Br Guy Consolmagno SJ speaking on 'Finding God in Space'. And then towards the end of November on 22nd there is a liturgical and musical day called 'Catholics Can Sing' at St Mary Magdalen's in Brighton. All in all a wonderful selection of days on a variety of subjects for individuals in the diocese to engage in. All details can be found via the links and on the diocesan website

Rejoice in the Lord always!

Monday, 27 October 2008

New Church for Woking

Last Wednesday saw the dedication of a brand new church in the Diocese in Woking, Surrey. The decision to build a new church for Woking began under Bishop Cormac and came to fruition 14 years later under Bishop Kieran, overseen throughout the process by a very patient parish priest, Fr Frank Harrington.
On what one parishioner called 'once in a lifetime' occasion the new church was dedicated and consecrated by Bishop Kieran in the presence of the now Cardinal Cormac together with a packed congregation and over 40 clergy, priests and deacons from the diocese and beyond. The people of Woking not only have a new church, which according to one parishioner I spoke to, has already become a popular place for people to come in a pray but also a wonderful set of offices and meeting rooms that allow the parish to reach out beyond the church building to the community around. This was reflected in the presence of not only the Mayor and Mayoress of Woking but also clergy from other christian communities and a local muslim Imam.

St Dunstan Pray for us

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Visiting Others

The last two days have involved visits to others to understand better the communication needs of the diocese. The first on Wednesday was to St Cuthman's Retreat Centre in Coolham near Horsham. It really is a beautiful place that is at the heart of the pastoral work of the diocese, not only to our own clergy and people but to the wider world as well. Set in stunning countryside it offers a place of quiet, prayer and rest to all who come either for a day in one of the Hermit Huts or for a couple of days in the House in pleasant comfortable rooms. Denise Mitchell, the relatively new Director of St Cuthman's is working hard to build on good beginnings over the last 7 years to continue developing and expanding the work the House does to offer a place of stillness in a hurrying world. Do have a look at their website The picture above says it all!

Today the second visit was to the Anglican Diocese of Chichester and their Communications Team, David and Lisa. We had much in common in the two jobs and obtained a couple of good ideas from them. We hope as well there are a couple of ways in which we can work and cooperate together to bring the Gospel to others. There will be more on this in future as it develops. You might like to visit their newly launched website

Jesus said: I came to set fire to the world and how I wish it were blazing now! (Luke 12:49)

Monday, 20 October 2008

Acting on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill

There will be the third reading in Parliament of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill this Wednesday 22nd October. It is an important Bill not only becomes of serious ethical concerns regarding the creation of human/animal hybrids but also because the Bill is being used through various amendments to the Bill as means of expanding and liberalising access to abortion. It is vital that as many people as possible contact their MP before Wednesday and express in their own words in a positive and non-emotive way why the amendments, if allowed by the Speaker of the House, should not be passed.

More information on this including a podcast from Archbishop Peter Smith (pictured above) and how to contact your MP are available on the Bishops' Conference website and the campaigning site

'We are God's work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning he had meant us to live.' (Ephesians 1:10)

Friday, 17 October 2008

The Diocese Celebrates St Philip Howard

This Sunday 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time is replaced as we celebrate the Feast of St Philip Howard as a Solemnity in the Diocese. St Philip was of course the Earl of Arundel whose descendants still reside in Arundel Castle, Arundel in West Sussex and whose descendant, Duke Henry was to pay for the building of the Catholic parish church of St Philip Neri. On the founding of the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton in 1965 this parish church became the Cathedral which was dedicated to Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St Philip Howard. The relics and tomb of the saint are now in the Cathedral and the statue of him and his faithful dog stand over his tomb.
For those who wish to join in the celebrations of this saint there will be festal Mass at 3pm in Arundel Cathedral presided over by Bishop Kieran Conry. We remember that he gave up power, privilege and position in becoming a Catholic and was willing to face death rather than deny his faith. A brand new documentary on his life is available as a DVD from a local production company, Mary's Dowry Productions based in Worthing.

Our minds turn as well this Sunday to the many Christians around the world who do not enjoy a secure life as we do but nevertheless live their faith joyfully in adversity just as St Philip did. This Sunday is World Mission Sunday the theme for which is ‘Help others to see Jesus’. In England and Wales, the collection on World Mission Sunday helps to support 194,855 schools, 5,246 hospitals, 17,530 dispensaries, 577 leprosy centres and 80,560 social and pastoral projects. We would ask you to be generous to our fellow Christians around the world.
For more information click here

Jesus said: "You will be hated by all men on account of my name; but the man who stands firm to the end will be saved" (Matthew 10:22)

Thursday, 16 October 2008

New Bishop for Menevia

Apologies for no entry this week on the blog until today but time and tide did not allow.
We would like, however, in this short entry to offer congratulations to Bishop Tom Burns on his appointment to the Diocese of Menevia in Wales from the Bishopric of the Forces.
More information including an interview with him and biography can be found on the Catholic Communications Network Website.

'From Paul, appointed by God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, to the saints who are faithful to Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ' (Eph 1:1)

Friday, 10 October 2008

May the Choirs of Angels Come to Greet You

Today's work has been touched by real sadness with the funerals of two children Ellie and Isobelle in Eastleigh. These were two young children who were killed by their father who then went on to kill himself. It had become a big media story and both national and local media were very interested in it. In such circumstances fellow Diocesan Communications Officers are generally happy to support each other and as Arundel & Brighton's Communication officer I was there supporting the work of the Portsmouth Officer liaising with the media and police. The aim is to ensure that the media get a story but not at the expense of the grieving families and invasion of their privacy. Cooperating positively with them enabled this to happen.

The lesson for people in parishes to take is that if this sort of thing happens in your parish then contact the Communications Office in your diocese and they can help you handle such difficult situations in a positive way.

Finally can I ask you all to pray for these two little children that with the angels they may speed to paradise and be enfolded in the mercy of God for all eternity, and that the mother, Kerrie and all their family be comforted in this time of anguish.

I have come that you may have life and life to the full (John 10:10)

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Recognition on a Wet Tuesday

Following on from the recognitio (formal approval) given by the Vatican to the United States Bishops, the Bishops of England & Wales have received official approval for the newly translated Order of Mass for the Roman Missal. Importantly the Vatican has said that the new Order of Mass is not for immediate use so as to give time for training and catechesis as well as giving composers time to look at new musical settings for the new texts. This is something that the diocese and particular the Liturgy Adviser and Commission will be working on over the coming years, so watch this space.
For more information and a press release from ICEL go to the recent newsletter on the Liturgy Office website of the Bishops' Conference.

On a more local note Bishop Kieran will be joining the young people of the diocese of the annual Youth Gather event which this year is to be held at Woldingham School, Woldingham in Surrey. Ray Mooney, the diocesan Youth Adviser is hoping that today's rain will have disappeared and as last year it will be a bright and beautifal day. Following Mass the Bishop will lead them off on a sponsored walk over several miles. This year they are raising money for a project to support abandoned children from slums in Kerala in India, CAFOD, and a project by one of our secondary schools (St John the Baptist in Woking) to build a school in Africa. We wish them well and it is not of course too late for youth groups and schools to come along. Just let Ray Mooney know you are coming.

The Lord answered: ‘Martha, Martha,’ he said ‘you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part; it is not to be taken from her.’ (Luke 10:42)

Friday, 3 October 2008

Oh the Word of My Lord

With the start of the Bishops' Synod on the Word of God this coming weekend and the current focus on St Paul and his epistles this year, it puts to bed once and for all any suggestions that Catholics do not take Scripture seriously. In a similar vein this diocese has once again put together a series of reflections for Advent, this year focussing on Paul's letters and the Gospel for each Sunday of Advent. They offer people the opportunity either in a group or as an individual to reflect on and deepen their knowledge of the Scriptures that we hear Sunday by Sunday. Importantly these reflections are available to all within and without the diocese as a free download or for a mere £1.50 from the Diocesan Bookshop at DABCEC in Crawley. The icon shown on the cover of the booklet is that of Our Lady Seat of Wisdon (Sedes Sapientiae) a gift from Pope John Paul II to University students across the world.

Meditation and reflection on the Word of God should lead us to deeper contemplation of the mystery of God's salvific will for the world, and to action in spreading God's message by word and deed. The tools to assist in this are available either from the diocese in its Pastoral Team or nationally from any number of sources. So recently on Home Mission Sunday, the Bishops' agency for evangelisation provided a free DVD to all parishes on evangelisation. Today as well, for example, we hold the CAFOD Harvest Fast Day which is one way in which we can support the work of the Church across the world with those who are poor. This office also received information today from the organisation called Action by Christians against Torture, an ecumencial body which runs an annual Christmas Card Campaign for those who have been wrongly imprisoned for their beliefs. There are many other ways in which we can respond to God's Word our lives, we just have to listen.

Finally in the context of reflecting on the Word of God it is worth mentioning that this Sunday is Rosary Sunday. In the Rosary we now begin a month of devotion to Mary, the Mother of God who listened to God's Word and did his will. Just as the Scriptures, the prayer of the Rosary always points us to the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ. A useful guide to praying the Rosary is provided by New Advent.

Jesus said: "Anyone who listens to you listens to me." (Luke 10:16)