Thursday, 28 May 2009

East and West

Pope John Paul II always stressed as does our present Pope that the Church breathes with both lungs of East and West. To many of us here in the West that means the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Churches and we forget the Eastern Catholic Church. I was fortunate to attend a primary school in Manchester which had a number of Ukrainian Catholics as fellow pupils. One of them was in fact a good friend and so even if I did not understand all the differences I was aware of fellow Catholics who were slightly different. Ukrainian Greek Catholics who are in communion with the Bishop of Rome celebrate the Byzantine rite rather than the Latin rite. Among other differences is that they have married priests, at least in the Ukraine. The picture above shows Bishop Hlib Lonchyna celebrating Divine Liturgy at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family in Exile in London.

Currently there are only occasional non-Latin rite liturgies celebrated in the Diocese. We do however have a Melkite-Greek Catholic Deacon, Richard Downer who is resident in the Diocese. He belongs to the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, which like the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, is an Eastern Catholic Church that celebrates using the Byzantine Rite. The Melkite Catholic community he serves is based in London. As it consists in the main of people from the Middle East, Arabic and English is used in the Liturgy. Also because they have no resident Melkite Bishop in the UK, the community is deemed to be an Ethnic Chaplaincy by the Diocese of Westminster. For more information on Melkites see an excellent English language Melkite website in the USA. Richard reminded me recently that the Pope visited the Melkite community and other Eastern rite Catholics in Jordan and celebrated Vespers (Evening Prayer) with them. The Melkite Patriarch of Antioch presented Pope Benedict with his Patriarch's staff both as a symbol of their unity but also as a reminder of the need the Western Church has to remember its Eastern brothers and sisters who are part of the same Universal Church. The Pope echoed this in his speech during Vespers which can be seen on the YouTube entry below."

'The next night, the Lord appeared to Paul and said, 'Courage! You have borne witness for me in Jerusalem, now you must do the same in Rome.' (Acts 23:11)

Thursday, 21 May 2009

"Blessed Be the Net?"

I was fortunate to attend the annual Catholic Media Lecture in London given by Fr Lombardi SJ (pictured right) who is Director of the Vatican's press office. He encouraged communicators to meet the challenge of using the internet to engage positively to further the Gospel message of the Church.

He said "One of the biggest challenges facing us at present is that of interactivity, and, I would say, of 'positive interactivity'. How ought we to tackle this challenge at all levels of the Church’s life? For me specifically, the challenge presents itself to the communications efforts of the Holy See, and our experience at Vatican Radio comes to mind. In recent years the internet has been for us an important tool that has made it possible for us to deliver content to countless users of all kinds. Now, however, the reality of the situation that is emerging is one in which the great thing is not simply content distribution, but greater and greater interactivity."

The full text as well as podcasts of Fr Federico Lombardi's address, “Blessed be the Net? A Roman perspective on the problems of new communications”, can be found here.

The Vatican as well as running Vatican YouTube announced this week that it is set to unveil its newest Web page. Called '', the site aims to bring the words and messages of Benedict XVI to young people. This includes a Facebook application, iPhone apps and WikiCath. Presenting the Gospel in new and exciting ways for young people.

This diocese is also shortly to relaunch it website for young people called YAAB which among other things will include a Twitter feed. Please watch out for more on all of this.

'Proclaim his help day by day, tell among the nations his glory and his wonders among all the peoples.' Psalm 95

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Hearing the Good News

Catholic Deaf Awareness week happens from 9 – 16 May. Many events will be taking place around the country to highlight not only the inclusion of people who are Deaf, Deafblind and Hard of Hearing but also their skills and energies and what they can bring to Parish and Diocesan life.

In Arundel & Brighton we have a Pastoral Service for Care of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. They will be celebrating a Signed Mass on Saturday 6th June in Horsham. If you want to find out more about this Mass and the service in general and how to get involved then visit the relevant Diocesan website page.

So how much do you know about the Deaf, Deafblind and Hard of Hearing people in your communities? Many misconceptions abound linked to communicating with people who have some form of hearing loss. 1 in 7 of the UK population experience some form of hearing loss, that is 1 in 7 of the community in your parish church.

Don’t shout; it doesn’t help. Many, although not all, Deaf and Hard of Hearing people lip read. Lip reading requires a great deal of skill. Only 30% of English words can be read accurately on the lips. Shouting at a person distorts the lip patterns and means it is much more difficult to lip read.
There is much more information on supporting the Deaf and Hard of Hearing on the Diocesan Website.

The Sunday after next, 24 May is World Communications Sunday which reminds us that we are to proclaim the Gospel to all whether hearing or deaf. The focus this year is on the new technologies that enable the all sorts of people to 'hear' the Good News in so many different ways especially the young. To download information and ideas for World Communication Sunday have a look at the pages on the Bishops' Conference website.

Part of the Vatican's efforts for World Communications Sunday is the launch of Vatican YouTube so why not visit the site Below is a sample from his visit to the Holy Land:

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Of Religious

A few blogs back I said I would add an entry about the religious life and following the recent Day for Vocations for the priesthood and religious life it seemed apt to do so now.

Recently at Worth Abbey, the Benedictine community there celebrated the final profession of Br Anthony Brockman. He has committed himself to the 3 monastic vows of stability, obedience and converstatio morum (conversion of life), to a life configured to Christ in community. As his Abbot, Christopher Jameison said in his homily at the profession: "The danger in contemporary culture is the belief that developing the sound of my own voice is to be truly spiritual; self-assertion masquerades as holiness. This completely ignores the reality of sin and the need for grace. What the monastic life provides by contrast is the discovery of myself in Christ, the discovery that my true voice is the voice of Christ."

Religious life is a counter-cultural sign that offers a life of community, obedience, stability and chastity. These are all things that the modern world finds strange but yet God continues to call men and women to partake in this life as a sign of his kingdom.

We are blessed in this diocese not only by monastic communities such as Worth Abbey, the Carthusians at Parkminster, the Poor Clares at Arundel but also by apostolic communities such as the Franciscans in Chilworth or Servites in Dorking and Bognor.
For those who might like to explore the religious life further then go to which offers advice, information and an opportunity to experience religious life.

The picture shows Br Anthony on the right next to Abbot Christopher and with his Mum and Dad (a deacon himself). Vocations spring from within the vocations of others.