Saturday, 29 December 2012

Pastoral Letter for Feast of Holy Family from Bishop Kieran Conry

Photo(c) Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk
Bishop Kieran Conry writes on the Feast of the Holy Family about the importance of family to the people of the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton:

Dear people of Arundel & Brighton,
A family in one of our parishes in Surrey had two girls from Africa staying with them recently, and the mother was telling me about some of the questions that arose as they had to begin to get used to another culture. One evening she prepared a meal and sat the two girls down with her own two daughters. After a while they noticed that the two African girls weren’t eating, and asked them why. The girls were very polite and probably shy and didn’t say much, but still didn’t eat. It took a little while to realise that the problem was that they simply didn’t know how to use a knife and fork. We take it for granted that people all over the world use a knife and fork, until we go to a Chinese restaurant, that is.

But it’s a chance to reflect on just how much we learn in the family and in the home, if we are lucky enough to have those two things. Babies are born with a few basic instincts; they can breathe, swallow, suck and grip. Most of the rest of what they need to do has to be taught, and the lessons can be difficult. With the so-called ‘potty-training’ for instance, is this a good or bad place to put things?

The family really is an indispensible part of human growth, and if we do dispense with it, then we pay the costs at some stage. The family can be a single parent, it can be grandparents, it can be foster parents, but a child needs to have the support of someone to be able to grow in what today’s gospel calls “wisdom, in stature and in favour with God and men.” The first reading is from one of the books of the Old Testament we call ‘wisdom literature’ and there are nearly forty chapters of sound, practical teaching, much of it very relevant for today – “Do not beggar yourself by banqueting on credit, when there is nothing in your pocket.”

But going back to today’s gospel, the two parts of ‘growing in favour with God and with men’ are equally important and, we would say, inseparable. The home is the place where we first learn to believe in God. My own family was and is no more devout than any other, but I remember kneeling down together before we went to bed and all praying together. On Sunday there was no question about what the day held; we went to Mass and never questioned it. There was no coercion or pressure, there was no need for it. I know that things have changed now for young people and, therefore, their parents, in terms of other things happening on Sundays, but the principle remains. In the same way that we learn respect for people, for other people’s property, for our own possessions and for ourselves, so the home is the place we should first learn respect for God.

How do we do this? How do we do anything to teach children? We don’t simply tell them to keep their rooms tidy if the rest of the house is a mess. We can’t tell them not to be greedy if we indulge ourselves as adults. As the writer of Ecclesiasticus says, “My son, be gentle in carrying out your business, and you will be better loved than a lavish giver.” Treat a child with gentleness and the child will grow up gentle; if a child grows up in a household of conflict and anger, the child will assume that this is how people normally live. I think that is a lesson that the writer of Ecclesiasticus hadn’t quite grasped: he opens chapter 30 with the words, “A man who love his son will beat him frequently.” He lets himself down a bit there, but different times, different values.

The Feast of the Holy Family today is an opportunity to reflect on how we pass on faith to our children along with all the other things we feel are important for them. It’s a time for us all to think about what explicit lessons we give young people about how faith is lived. If, for instance, Mass is seen to be just one of the many options available on Sunday, then how important will it seem? If adults are unwilling or unable to answer basic questions that children have about God and faith, then why should the children consider the question to have value? How can we talk about faith if we don’t show it, and how can we assume to pass the responsibility on to the school, any more than we would pass on to the school the responsibility to clothe or feed the child?

I know that it is a very difficult time for many parents today. For many the difficulties are financial, and that can create great problems when young people experience inequality and feel the need to conform and be like their peers. For many, there are difficulties created by all the other influences working on their children, particularly through their phones and computers, giving them access to things that are really not proper for young people, or indeed for adults.

The two little girls from Africa probably weren’t familiar with computers either, but I imagine that they knew they were loved within a family, and if we are to talk about ‘privilege’ and ‘affluence’, who is the better off? The family is just such an important school of humanity and faith that we must be quite firm to resist any proposed government legislation that threatens to undermine or compromise it. Where did Jesus learn compassion? When his parents do finally find him in Jerusalem after three days, their words are a gentle reproof, “See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you.”

I wish you happiness and peace in the year that lies ahead. It may not be any easier than the year that is ending, but let us pray for the wisdom to see things for what they are and join with the words of the opening prayer of today’s Mass of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph: “Grant that we imitate them in practising the virtues of family life and in the bonds of charity.”

With my best wishes and prayers.

+ Kieran

Bishop of Arundel & Brighton

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Briton, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Named Nuncio to Australia

Archbishop Paul Gallagher
Vatican Radio reports and has a conversation with English Archbishop Paul Gallagher, currently the Holy See’s representative to Guatemala who was appointed recently as the new apostolic nuncio to Australia.

The Liverpool-born Gallagher, who was educated by the Jesuits and studied at the Venerable English College here in Rome, went on to become the first English born nuncio to train at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy for Vatican diplomats.

He worked in Tanzania, Uruguay, the Philippines and at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, before being sent as nuncio to Burundi in 2004 following the assassination of the former papal representative there. Archbishop Gallagher narrowly escaped death himself when the nunciature was badly damaged by rebels aiming shells at the presidential palace.

Since 2009, he has served as nuncio in Guatemala but in January he is expected to take up his new post as the first non-Italian representative of the Holy See in Australia. Archbishop Gallagher spoke to Vatican Radio’s Philippa Hitchen about his reaction to this new appointment….

Listen:
http://media01.radiovaticana.va/audiomp3/00348377.MP3

Monday, 24 December 2012

A Happy and Holy Christmas

Wishing all A&B News Blog readers a Happy and Holy Christmas

Photograph: Handmade Clay Nativity By Valerie Shepherd


Saturday, 22 December 2012

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor on Radio 2’s Pause for Thought

Cardinal Cormac preaching to A&B Lourdes Pilgrimage at the Grotto in 2012
The Cardinal was on Radio 2’s Chris Evans breakfast show today. Read and listen to his Christmas Pause below:

Whilst living in Rome, I was marked by a true story of brotherly love. It was the end of the War and most unusual for Italy, heavy snow had fallen. Two boys, aged twelve and six had been abandoned by their parents and the eldest brother , knew of a place where orphan boys could find shelter and help, but that place was fifteen miles away and the snow was very deep. Too little to be able to walk through the snow, the eldest brother put the youngest on his back and piggy-backed him through the snow until at last, exhausted, he reached the shelter. He was welcomed by a priest who said to him, “You came all that way with that burden on your back!” And the boy said, “That’s not a burden – that’s my brother”.

Most people have some kind of burden in their lives. It might be a sickness or some sorrow one finds painful to bear. Christians believe that the feast we celebrate at Christmas helps us remember that God came into our world to bring reconciliation, light and hope. He came to turn blows into kisses and burdens into blessings. There is a very nice custom in Slavonic countries that at the end of Christmas Mass each person kisses their neighbour on both cheeks and says, “Christ is born”, and the reply is, “Truly He is born”. And then around the whole church each one exchanges kisses with everybody else. The coming of Christ brings new hope to our world and to each one of us. He turns burdens into blessings. You know, you can kill people in crowds but you can only kiss them one by one. My wish for you this Christmastide is that you will find the opportunity to reach out to a neighbour or friend who is worried, concerned or in pain, and in doing so find inner peace and reconciliation. May this Christmas be a happy time for you and your burdens be turned to blessings.

Listen: 2hrs 52mins 37secs in
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01p9kb3/The_Chris_Evans_Breakfast_Show_19_12_2012/

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Eucharistic Adoration - Laity Take a Lead in the Diocese

Diocesan promoters of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament gather for training
The Lay Apostolate of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration has now come to the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton. The apostolate with the blessing of Pope John Paul II, was established by decree of the Pontifical Council for the Laity on 2nd June 1991.

Membership of the Apostolate requires a parish to offer Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament over an extended period of time so that parishioners can pledge themselves to an hour’s Adoration every week.

After three day’s training supervised by Brendan Cleary and John Howard from the Centre in Dublin, we now have our own Diocesan Eucharistic Adoration Committee. Already, to date, eighteen parishes have requested to join, and it is hoped that two of them will be visited before Christmas.

Canon Tom Treherne, the Spiritual Director of the new committee, writes: ‘Arundel and Brighton joins the Lay Apostolate at a most appropriate time as we start the Year of Faith and our own preparations for the Diocesan Jubilee. We are being reminded that prayer, centred on the Eucharist, lies at the heart of everything we do. We are also reminded of the need to pray constantly for an increase of vocations for the Priesthood, which is always the main intention of the Lay Apostolate of Eucharistic Adoration.’

The Chair of the new committee is Bella Raj. For further details, contact the secretary, Rosemary Westcott on 07905 565395; email: raw21@talk21.com

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Hundred Years of Faith at St Mary's Preston Park

Recently past and present priests and parishioners of St Mary’s, Preston Park, led by Bishop Kieran Conry, celebrated the centenary of the opening of their church.

It’s well known that the Prince of Wales’ patronage transformed the obscure fishing village of Brighthelmstone into the fashionable Georgian resort of Brighton. During that same period, when the Prince secretly married Maria Fitzherbert, the church of St John the Baptist was built in Kemp Town, thanks to the support of Mrs Fitzherbert. From this church were founded all the Catholic parishes in this part of Sussex, including St Mary’s, Preston Park.

St Mary’s parish had its origins in the Lourdes Convent School in Withdean. The school was opened in 1904 by five Sisters of Charity of Nevers who fled to England from France where religious schools were being closed as a result of a new wave of anti-clericalism. The then Bishop of Southwark allowed the nuns to establish their convent, provided they admitted the public to their chapel. Initially about 20 people attended Mass there.

In 1906, as the school grew and Mass attendances increased, the first resident chaplain was appointed: Fr Frederick Hopper. Soon, overcrowding in the convent chapel led Fr Hopper to look for a site on which to build a church. Land from the Stanford estate was bought and plans were drawn up.

Fr Hopper was a man of vision. He foresaw that, one day, his church would be in the centre of Brighton. Raising the money to build it was a huge problem but, in an answer to prayer, Fr Hopper was promised the funding by Mrs Catherine Broderick. She and her husband were wealthy, but they had known great poverty as children in Ireland. Having no children themselves, they donated much of their money to the Church.

Fr Hopper wanted his church to be a landmark for travellers coming into Brighton by road or rail. That meant building a tower. Mrs Broderick did not agree with him: she thought the church needed a proper sanctuary first, so she refused to continue funding it. Despite the huge financial problems caused by this rift, the church was opened in 1912 with a tower but no permanent altar. However, it wasn’t until 1979 that the building was completed, both inside and out, and a priests’ house built next door.

The generosity of another benefactor, Cyril Cassidy, a greatly loved parishioner who died suddenly in 2004, enabled the current parish priest, Canon Oliver Heaney, to propose the building of a pastoral centre for the use of the parish and the wider community. The Cassidy Centre was opened by Bishop Conry in2007.

From its small beginnings in the convent chapel, St Mary’s now has about 400 parishioners who worship regularly and serve the needs of local and wider community in various ways. The Lourdes Convent closed in 2011, but the nuns’ example of dedicated service lives on in the work of the parish today.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Frimley Fillipino Community

Frimley Filipino choir
Jeremy Preece from Our Lady Queen of Heaven, Frimley reports:
"It would be hard to imagine the parish of Our Lady Queen of Heaven, Frimley, without our Filipino community. Yet it was only in 1998 that the first groups of forty stared arriving, to work in Frimley Park Hospital. One of the groups celebrated their tenth year here this October.

Each group were strangers when they first arrived, drawn from different parts of the Philippines. At Frimley they soon formed a tight knit community, which today is estimated as being about a thousand strong. Some have moved on, many have settled married and had children here in our parish, and some have married outside of their community.

Although the community has its own large social groups such as “Singles for Christ” and “Couples for Christ”, it has become a vibrant part of our wider parish life. The Filipino Choir is now an integral part of our parish liturgy. This is a very dedicated group, which enriches our 5:30pm Sunday Mass with their uplifting music on the first weekend of each month."

Monday, 17 December 2012

Weybridge's Shooting Stars

Owen and Mary at Lords
Peter Clapham from Weybridge Parish reports:
"Our very own Pastoral Assistant, Mary Lee, and her son Owen set the fund-raising ball rolling for our new Parish home charity, Shooting Star CHASE children’s hospice with a sponsored cycle ride from Hampton to Lords Cricket ground. Mum couldn’t quite keep up – but did bravely finish – and raised over £700 for the Hospice. Well done, we’re proud of you both."

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Christmas is Coming, the Geese are Getting Fat, Give CAFOD World Gifts – just like that!


It couldn’t be easier to give gifts that last with World Gifts from CAFOD. You can choose and order online via http://worldgifts.cafod.org.uk/ or via freephone or via the printed catalogue available from 0808 140 0014.

World Gifts will delight your friends and family and make a huge difference to people in developing countries. Because they do something no pair of socks can ever do – they help people break free from poverty! This year we have over 30 gifts to choose from and to suit every kind of budget and ideas for every taste and age, from goats to bicycles!

From as little as £4.50 for a set of colouring pencils and £10 for a vegetable garden to Chirpy Chickens at £20 and a brilliant bicycle at £50. Each one comes with a beautifully illustrated card of your chosen gift, together with a presentation gift envelope. Or why not order online and send a personalised e-gift. Or buy a sheet of ‘immunise a child’ stickers at just 50p per sticker.

This Christmas, transform the lives of individuals, families and communities in the developing world with your gift and continue to help CAFOD make a difference.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Priest's Fond Farewell

Fr Andrew cuts the cake
Photo: John Barrett
Ann Lardeur from The Nativity of the Lord parish reports:
"The lastest step in his life's journey has introduced Fr Andrew to the pros and cons of moving parish for the first time. He came to our parish in December 2011 as his first appointment.

As he explained in his homily, the most important of the cons was saying farewell to the friends he had made during his time in the parish. His new appointment to Chichester included two important pros; regularly passing the Baptist Church, and St. Pancras Anglican Church, both of which he had attended on his journey towards finding Mass and becoming a Catholic for which he gives regular thanks to God.

The specially designed celebration cake, made by a parishioner, had many symbols which illustrated his journey from Nottingham where he grew up (Trees for Sherwood Forest), University of York (a white rose), Iona where he spent a sabbatical year as a musician (map + St. Martin's Cross), Rome (the crest of the English College) and Canada where he studied Canon Law (another map + flag). In the centre spot were the crib figures of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The sides had footprints, symbolic of both the journey and Fr. Andrew's two fundraising marathons.

The Mass in the Holy Family Church, Reigate, was concelebrated with Fr. Chris Spain, Fr. Charles Howell and Deacon Tim Murrill. Fr. Chris paid tribute to Fr. Andrew's pastoral gifts, particularly at East Surrey Hospital, and his delightful sense of humour. Deacon Tim, and the longest serving member of the clergy made the presentation on behalf of the whole parish."

P.S. Fr Aaron Spinelli from Horsham parish has gone to the Nativity of the Lord parish to replace Fr Andrew

Friday, 14 December 2012

Proclaiming Christ - An Epiphany Retreat

St Cuthman's from across the lake
In the New Year why not start with an inspiring Retreat at St. Cuthman’s led by Sr. Margaret O’Shea from 4 – 6 Jan: 'Who do you say I am? Proclaiming Christ'

How do we become living witnesses to the Gospel in daily life, our call as Christians by the way we live & act?

Popular retreat leader Sr. Margaret O’Shea will help to guide you and be offering individual spiritual direction as part of this Epiphany Retreat in our beautiful historic country house with lakeside setting.

The cost is £185 per person, which includes 2 nights’ accommodation in a comfortable en-suite room and all meals.

To book: 01403 741220 or email:stcuthmans@dabnet.org www.stcuthmans.com

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Following Yonder Star at Arundel Cathedral

Arundel Cathedral will be hosting its annual Advent Art Festival from Friday 14th December 2012 and this year the theme will be 'Following Yonder Star'. 

The purpose of the Festival is to celebrate, through art, the groups which contribute to our community and make it the special place it is, whilst at the same time offering the public the opportunity to enjoy a visual feast in the lead up to and during Christmas.

This year's artwork is brought to you by a whole host of different groups including local schools, parish groups, and organisations like the NSPCC and the Enable Me Project to name just a few. Illustrations, paintings, 3D models, textiles and even video installations will adorn the pillars, floor and walls of the Cathedral and promise visitors a unique and heart-warming experience. As part of the festival, free competitions around the artworks will also be run for children to win prizes each Sunday.

Entry to the festival is free, though donations welcome. 

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Bishops Speak out for Marriage


L-R: Archishop Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Peter Smith
© Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk
Statement by Archbishop Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Peter Smith on the government response to the same sex marriage consultation:
"The meaning of marriage matters. It derives that meaning from its function as the foundation of the family. The union of one man and one woman for love and mutual support and open to procreation has over the centuries formed a stable unit we call the family. Marriage is the enduring public recognition of this commitment and has been rightly recognised as unique and worthy of legal protection.

The government has chosen to ignore the views of over 600,000 people who signed a petition calling for the current definition of marriage to stay, and we are told legislation to change the definition of marriage will now come to Parliament.

We strongly oppose such a Bill. Furthermore, the process by which this has happened can only be described as shambolic. There was no electoral mandate in any manifesto; no mention in the Queen’s speech; no serious or thorough consultation through a Green or White paper, and a constant shifting of policy before even the government response to the consultation was published today.

We urge everyone who cares about upholding the meaning of marriage in civil law to make their views known to their MPs clearly, calmly and forcefully, and without impugning the motives of others. We urge all parties to ensure their Members have a free vote. It is not too late to stop this Bill."

For more information go to our Diocesan Website

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Catholic Sixth Former's Reflection at the Gates of Auschwitz

Alex and Connor back from Auschwitz
Alex Sarama reflects on his  trip to Auschwitz: It was an unseasonally warm morning at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland, on the 18th October – weather not fitting for visiting the greatest symbol of prejudice and intolerance the world has ever encountered. I came to Auschwitz through The Holocaust Educational Trust’s ‘Lessons from Auschwitz’ Project.

The Trust plays a central role in combating anti-Semitism, racism and prejudice in our society today, their work ensuring the Holocaust has a permanent place in our nation’s collective memory. Connor Taylor and I - students at St Peter’s Catholic School in Guildford - were part of 200 sixth form students from across the UK that flew out to Kraków airport to witness the site of 1.5 million deaths - a number so large that it is almost incomprehensible. To many this is just a number - viewing family pictures, children’s shoes and day-to-day objects brought home the fact that these were real people with real lives, families and careers. For many, the reason for being sent to Auschwitz was simply the fact they were born. 1 million Jews killed by the Nazis were sent to their deaths for being born into a religion they did not even choose. I was horrified at the sub-human way victims were sorted and ruthlessly taken to the gas chambers as soon as they arrived at the death camp. One of the most poignant moments was seeing thousands of Jewish children's shoes piled up, a reminder of industrial-scale child murder which led me to question how humanity can be so cruel.

I have always been captivated by History and my particular interest in WWII can no doubt be attributed to my Polish heritage. My grandmother was sent to the notorious Ravensbrück Concentration Camp during the war, while my two grandfathers fought for the Polish army at Monte Cassino and the Warsaw Uprising.

I have had the good fortune of hearing their first-hand accounts, yet I realise we cannot rely forever on their stories, as the years pass and we move further away from these significant war years. It is for this reason that every post-16 student taking part in the visit automatically becomes a ‘Holocaust Ambassador,’ taking the stories of Auschwitz and sharing the experience with various communities around the UK. When there comes a time when no eyewitnesses are left, we – and future generations - will ensure that the memories are kept alive.

It is our aim that awareness of the Holocaust will be augmented through the assemblies and presentations we deliver in the wider community. For Connor and I, this will be done through educating and passing on our experience to younger year groups at St Peter’s. I also had the good fortune to meet the Foreign Affairs Editor of the Jewish Media Group and next summer will write a series of short articles for the paper on books of Jewish History, in which I am particularly interested, beginning with a review of Simon Montefiore’s ‘Jerusalem.’ As a Catholic, I really think this shows how different faiths can take solace in Auschwitz, uniting to promote multi-faith cohesion and together working for the same common good – the preservation of the Holocaust in the nation’s hearts and minds.

It is so important young people are continually educated about the Holocaust. Allowing the memories of these dreadful events to fade would gradually permit prejudice and hatred to rise again, as we can see from the horrors still perpetrated today. To quote what Nick Clegg - the Deputy Prime Minister - said when he accompanied on us on the trip, “Remembering what happens when warped ideologies and prejudice go unchecked is not just a history lesson but the greatest antidote today to anti-Semitism and extremism of all kinds.” Indeed some people say that Auschwitz will never happen again but this is impossible to determine – yet there is evidence that we have not learnt from the historical lessons of the past. We still read in the newspapers about stories of racism, while Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic behaviour is still in existence even today. This proves the importance of the work of the Trust and is by all means something we should continue to support.

It is important that we take a break from our busy day-to-day lives and do something to commemorate Auschwitz’s victims. Customary tradition in the West is to offer a one-minute silence for the deceased. Yet if we offered just one minute for every victim of Auschwitz, our lips would remain sealed for 3 years. However, I implore you to do the opposite and not remain silent – keep the memory of Auschwitz alive so that we remain fully cognizant of the horrors of the past, ensuring that they will not be repeated in the future.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Festive Supper in aid of CAFOD


Parishioners at the supper in national costume
Kevin and Linda Dignum report from the Parish of St. Thomas of Canterbury and the English Martyrs in St. Leonards-on- Sea:
"We celebrated CAFOD’s Golden Jubilee at a Festive Harvest Supper.

We were delighted to welcome Martin Brown, the A&B Diocesan CAFOD Manager, to speak at our 11.00am Harvest Festival Mass. Martin thanked the Parish for nearly forty years active support of CAFOD, and led the congregation in a Rite of Recommitment ‘to act justly . . .to love tenderly . . .to walk humbly . . .to care for the earth and transform our world . . . so that all might flourish and live in peace’.

The different choir groups in the Parish combined to lead the congregation in joyful and prayerful music, including a Swahili hymn at the Presentation of Gifts. The Harvest Gifts which were brought to the Mass were sold in the evening at the Harvest Supper.

The Parish Community Development Team did a splendid job in providing a two-course supper with an international flavour, with food from Africa, Pakistan, Brazil, Italy and England.

In both recognition and celebration of the multi-cultural nature of our parish, Parishioners were invited to wear their National Costume to both the Mass and the Supper.

The proceeds from the Supper - an excellent £700.65 - went towards supporting the CAFOD Appeal for the Food Crisis in West Africa.

Photos taken by:- Barbara Okoliko.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Special Edition NRSV Bible for Year of Faith

As this is Bible Sunday in the Catholic Church here is an article about a new edition of the Bible for Catholics:
"Pope Benedict XVI declared a Year of Faith for all Catholics throughout the world beginning on 11 October and a special edition of the NRSV translation of the Bible has been created Bible Society for use by Catholics during the year.

NRSVThe translation is NRSV, which has received the Imprimatur from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. All the books within the Catholic canon are in correct order. The notes at the end of the edition are particular developed with a Catholic audience in mind. They include:
* A transcript of Dei Verbum - the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation as promulgated at Vatican II - whose 50th Anniversary kicks off the Year of Faith on the 11th October
* A set of Catholic prayers and devotions, including the Stations of the Cross and other devotions
* A complete Weekday and Sunday table of readings to help readers follow the lectionary readings in this edition
* A Catholic concordance, with reference to the deutero-canonical texts and words and concepts that only appear in these books
* All presented with a navy blue hardcover  with a ribbon to easily keep your place.

Copies can be ordered from the Diocesan Bookshop in Crawley bookshop@dabnet.org

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary

On 8th december each year the Church celebrates the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.In the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December, 1854, Pius IX pronounced and defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary "in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin."

For more see the New Advent website

For a copy of this new CTS booklet contact the Diocesan Bookshop in Crawley on bookshop@dabnet.org


Friday, 7 December 2012

Seasonal Lunch Raises over £1300 for Mary's Meals

Photo shows: Members of the Seaford Community enjoying their lunch
Pippa Logan reports from St Thomas More parish in Seaford:
"Over £1300 was raised for Marys Meals from the proceeds of a Seasonal Lunch held at St Thomas More's Church Seaford.

Nearly fifty people enjoyed a home cooked 3 course vegetarian meal prepared by members of the parish. Over 75% of the ingredients were sourced from parishioners gardens and allotments thus enabling the costs to be kept To a minimum.

A short video was shown on the work of Mary's Meals and how for just £10.70 a child receives a lunch whilst attending school for a whole year.

As the founder of Marys Meals Magnus Mac Farlane -Barrow quotes ' A simple Solution to World Hunger'

For further information on Mary's Meals why not check out the website.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Catholic School Supporting Work of a Hospice

Some of Class 5D at the Hospice
St Thomas a Becket Junior school in Eastbourne reports:
"Recently Class 5D at this Catholic Junior School made a tree of "Hope and Courage" which was donated to St. Wilfrid's Hospice in Eastbourne. The tree made of felt birds and prayers was part of a special assembly in which children talked about St. Wilfrid's and the significant role that it has in the community.

A cheque for £375 was also handed over which money raised by staff and children.

In the picture with a member of the hospice staff are some of the children with their class teacher Miss Mary Bracuti whose father was recently cared for by St. Wilfrid's in the latter stages of his illness."

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Advent Days at St.Cuthman’s Retreat & Meeting Centre

Last few places available!
St Cuthman's Retreat and Meeting Centre offers the opportunity to take time out to share a Day of Prayer & Reflection (10am – 4pm) in a small group during this busy season.

Beautiful country and lakeside setting, Mass in our pretty chapel, plus good food.

Reflection Days:
Sat 8 Dec – ‘Reflections on Our Lady, the journey to Bethlehem’ Fr Charles Jeffries

Weds 12 Dec – ‘Waiting’ Clare Crossman, Spiritual Director

Sat 15 Dec – ‘Who do you say I am?’ Veronica Adnitt, Spiritual Director

Weds 19 Dec – ‘Preparing for the Coming’ Helen Sexton, Spiritual Director

Lunch included and afternoon tea by the log fire and Christmas Tree in the House, just £25 per person for the day. As a special offer, you can stay the night before / on the Advent Day for just £50 per person. This reduced price includes supper and breakfast.

To book: 01403 741220 email: stcuthmans@dabnet.org

St. Cuthman’s Retreat & Meeting Centre, Cowfold Road, Coolham, Horsham RH13 8QL

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Catholics Pray for Peace in the Middle East


Water Seller in the Souk in Damascus before the conflict
Photo ©Mark Woods
Catholics across England and Wales will remember the people of the Middle East in their prayers on 4 December 2012, the Feast of St John Damascene. Conscious of the civil war in Syria and its impact on neighbouring countries, the Bishops of England and Wales at their recent plenary meeting decided on a day of prayer as one sign of solidarity with the people of the region.

As a priest and Doctor of the Church who was born in Damascus (Syria) in 675 and died near Jerusalem about 749, St John Damascene’s feast day was chosen because it links the early Church with the living community of Middle Eastern Christians and their vocation as peace-builders. The bishops pray that the example of St John’s life can inspire Christians, Muslims and Jews to work for reconciliation and justice.

Prayer for Peace:
O God of peace, who are peace itself
and whom a spirit of discord cannot grasp,
nor a violent mind receive,
grant that those who are one in heart
may persevere in what is good
and that those in conflict
may forget evil and so be healed.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

St John Damascene, pray for us.
Prayer text from Roman Missal © 2010 ICEL

Monday, 3 December 2012

English Seminary in Rome to Meet with Pope

Martyrs' picture from
College Church
CCN reports:
"This year the Venerable English College (the Venerabile) has been celebrating a very significant milestone in the history of English and Welsh Catholicism. For 2012 marked the 650th anniversary of the Foundation of an English & Welsh Hospice on the site occupied by the Venerabile. Its foundation in 1362 makes this the oldest English institution outside of England. From 1362-1579, there was a Hospice here. In 1579, the house became a seminary for training Catholic priests; and so it has remained up to the present time.

Some 120 people are expected to Mass and lunch on Saturday 1st December including Archbishop Nichols of Westminster and the Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Rector of the Venerabile from 1971-77.

For more than two centuries, this site on the via di Monserrato, fast by the Palazzo Farnese in the heart of medieval Rome, was a Hospice for English and Welsh Pilgrims. So many pilgrims came to Rome for the Holy Year of 1350 that it inspired a group of Englishmen living in Rome to form themselves into the Confraternity of St Thomas of Canterbury, buying the first house in 1362. There was already an English couple living there, John and Alice Shepherd, who sold rosary beads to pilgrims visiting the medieval St Peter’s.

The English Hospice attracted large numbers of pilgrims, including, in its early years, the mystic Margery Kempe, the future priest-hunter Thomas Cromwell, the future martyr St Henry Walpole, and later the poet John Milton. From 1412, the wall out onto the street was emblazoned with the English Royal Coat of Arms – the shield enduring to this day – for this was a house under the patronage of the Crown. The 15th century saw some of the most famous English humanists among the Hospice’s members: Thomas Linacre, William Lily, William Warham, John Giglis, Christopher Bainbridge and John Colet. In Henry VII’s reign, it was known as the “King’s Hospice”; Henry VIII described it as “Our Hospice”.

With the split between Rome and Elizabeth I, it was no longer possible to train priests at home; and so the Hospice’s use was altered to prepare young men for the “Mission to England and Wales”, i.e. to return to their home countries to support the faith of persecuted Catholics. The Venerabile achieved fame quickly for, in the first century of its existence, forty-four of its recent alumni were martyred: of these some 10 have been recognised as Saints and the majority as Blessed. In the four centuries that it has been a seminary, the Venerabile has continued to welcome pilgrims to worship and to visit, offering bed and board to bishops, priest and lay people come to Rome on Church business.

Whenever students in the first century of the seminary’s existence heard that one of their number had been martyred, they would come before the church’s altarpiece, Durante Alberti’s depiction of the Most Holy Trinity with St Thomas, to sing a song of praise, the Te Deum Laudamus. This they will sing before the same picture – but with particular fervour - on Saturday 1st December 2012; for this is Martyrs’ Day, the College Feastday. It was on 1st December 1581 that St Ralph Sherwin mounted the scaffold at Tyburn (yards from London’s Marble Arch) to become the first of the forty-four students to lay down his life for the Catholic Faith. The College will be honoured that day by the presence of Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester representing Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at this celebration marking the close of the Anniversary year.

Two days later, on Monday 3rd December, bishops, staff and students of the College have been invited to the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican, where they will be received in Private Audience by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. Among them from Arundel & Brighton Diocese will be Fr Tony Milner, Academic Tutor and Tristan Caulfield, a secondy year seminarian. They will bring with them to the Audience a relic of their protomartyr, St Ralph Sherwin, for the Holy Father to venerate. Pope Benedict told Roman students recently, “You live these years of training in a special closeness with the Successor of Peter, which enables you to perceive with particular clarity the size of the Universal Church: here you breathe Catholicism!” As Monsignor Hudson says, “These words of the Holy Father seem to capture the vocation of this house these last 650 years: in its first two centuries, to bring English and Welsh Catholics to be close to Peter; then, when England & Wales rejected the Catholic Faith, to form men who would bear back to their homeland Catholic sacraments and Catholic truth – a vocation which endures to this day. I can think of no more eloquent expression of this than for the College, as a climax to this Anniversary Year, to bring to Peter’s successor the relic of our Protomartyr as a pledge of our filial devotion and esteem.”

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Pope's Book on the Infancy of Jesus Released



The offical date for publication in UK is 4 December and it will be available from the Diocesan Bookshop at the Christian Education in Crawley. To order a copy email bookshop@dabnet.org

Saturday, 1 December 2012

New Surrey High Sheriff from the Catholic Community

Karin Sehmer, the new High Sheriff in front of Guildford Cathedral
Andy Newbold from Haslemere, Hindhead and Chiddingfold Parish reports:
In a ceremony at Guildford Cathedral, Karin Sehmer, a parishioner from St Teresa’s, Chiddingfold, was installed in March as the new High Sheriff of Surrey.

The appointment of High Sheriff lasts for one year and, since the post has legal connections with the judiciary system, the courts and the prisons, the person chosen often comes from this background.

Formerly a rheumatologist at Guildford’s Royal Surrey County Hospital, Karin spent many years as a forensic medical examiner for the police and has been Deputy Coroner for Surrey since 2000.

Since being appointed, Karin has attended many official events and was honoured by being presented to the Queen at the Derby during the Jubilee. One of her main functions will be supporting the High Sheriff Youth Awards throughout the county and she will also be focusing her efforts on charities dealing the physically disabled and drug abuse.

Karin looks forward to a very busy year and will have the full backing of her husband, Jamie, and their three grown-up sons, as well as fellow parishioners in Chiddingfold and Haslemere.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Swifter, higher, Stronger - Song for Towers Convent

Pictured - Maisey with her father Matt Redman and Johnny Bird
The Towers School, Upper Bedding reports:
Not many schools can boast that there has been a song written for them to support their theme for the term but The Towers is delighted that this is what happened for them. The theme chosen by Year 11 girls for this term is 'Swifter, Higher, Stronger' so imagine our delight when Maisey in Year 8 announced that her father Matt Redman had written a song especially for the theme and that he would come in and teach it to the girls.

There was great excitement as he did a few warm up songs including the Jessie J song 'price tag' before he taught the Senior girls to sing his song. They sang with great gusto accompanied by Matt on his guitar and Johnny Bird playing the keyboard. He also told them a little about how he became the Christian song-writer. This certainly proved to be an uplifting start to our day.


Thursday, 29 November 2012

Rome for the opening of the Year of Faith


Maryvale Group in front of St Peter's Basilica
 Carol Harnett from St Joan of Arc parish reports:
"I was very privileged to be a member of a small party of Staff and students of Maryvale Institute in Rome for the opening of the Year of Faith, on 11th October 2012. Our pilgrimage began with Mass at 8.00am in the crypt of St Peter’s on 9th October, the feast day of Blessed John Henry Newman, who at one time lived at Maryvale (and indeed gave the house its name). During the days we were in Rome we visited the catacombs of St Pricilla and the four major Basilicas: St John Lateran, the actual Cathedral for the diocese of Rome (St Peter’s is not a Cathedral), St Peter’s St Paul’s Outside the Walls, (where we were able to pray in front of his tomb) and St Mary Major.
We were pleased to receive a guided tour of the beautiful and ancient basilica of St Clemente, built above two previous layers; the 1st Century Roman home of Clemente (third Pope and the “Clement” of St Paul’s letter to the Philippians) become Christian church, the remains of the fourth century basilica founded under Constantine, and the present day 12th century building with its most magnificent gilded mosaic apse teaching the meaning of salvation.

On Wednesday we were privileged to have tickets to the Papal audience where the Holy Father spoke about the precious documents of Vatican II which had been buried under interpretations and misinterpretations, and we were all urged to engage with the exact texts themselves over the coming Year of Faith. At the end our little group was presented to the Holy Father who recognised our link with Newman with a wave in our direction.

Thursday was the highlight of the week, when we had tickets for seats at the Papal Mass opening the Year of Faith. It was an amazing Mass, in Latin, English and Italian. The Holy Father began his homily with these words:
“This celebration has been enriched by several special signs: the opening procession, intended to recall the memorable one of the Council Fathers when they entered this Basilica; the enthronement of a copy of the Book of the Gospels used at the Council; the consignment of the seven final Messages of the Council, and of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which I will do before the final blessing. These signs help us not only to remember, they also offer us the possibility of going beyond commemorating. They invite us to enter more deeply into the spiritual movement which characterized Vatican II, to make it ours and to develop it according to its true meaning. And its true meaning was and remains faith in Christ, the apostolic faith, animated by the inner desire to communicate Christ to individuals and all people, in the Church’s pilgrimage along the pathways of history...If today the Church proposes a new Year of Faith and a new evangelization, it is not to honour an anniversary, but because there is more need of it, even more than there was fifty years ago!”

At the end of the Mass, messages were personally given by Pope Benedict XVI to individuals representing different communities, and last of all, a Catechism was given to Dr Caroline Farey (Member of staff at Maryvale Institute) as a representative of all the catechists in the world. There was no message for catechists, only the Catechism itself as the foundation of all catechesis in every parish, school and home.

I was very grateful for the opportunity to be in Rome at such a momentous occasion for the Church. If you want to know more about the synod and the Year of Faith, visit www.catholic-year-of-faith.com for details, blogs and resources for this amazing year

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Lingua Latina - Supporting the Heritage of the Latin Language


Sacrosanctum Concilium: The Latin Text of the Document on the Liturgy
Independent Catholic New reports: Pope Benedict XVI issued the Motu Proprio Latina Lingua recently, which establishes the new Pontifical Academy for Latin. The Academy is meant to promote the knowledge and study of the Latin language and Latin literature, from classical times to the present day.

“The Latin language has always been held in high regard by the Catholic Church and the Roman pontiffs,” writes Pope Benedict. He pointed out Latin and Greek were used in the early Church, being the universal languages of the time, and since then the Church has made Latin “her own language.”

The Holy Father writes: “After the demise of the Roman Empire, the Church of Rome not only continued to make use of the Latin language, but also became in a way its guardian and promoter, both in theology and liturgy, and in formation and the transmission of knowledge.”

Pope Benedict said a good understanding of Latin is more necessary than ever in the Church, due to its importance in studying Theology, Liturgy, Patristics, and Canon Law. He said a “superficial” knowledge of Latin can be detrimental to the philosophical and theological training of future priests.

However, the Academy is also meant to serve the wider society. “in our own times…there is a renewed interest in the Latin language and classical culture, and not only on those continents that have their cultural roots from the Greco-Roman heritage,” Pope Benedict writes. “Such interest is all the more significant because it involves not only the academic world, but also young people and scholars from very diverse nations and traditions.”

The new Pontifical Academy will be under the Pontifical Council for Culture, and replace the Latin Foundation established by Pope Paul VI. The President of the Academy will be Professor Ivano Dionigi, while the Secretary will be Father Roberto Spataro, SDB. Its mandate includes producing publications, hosting conferences and seminars, and promoting Latin in the new media.

See the full report on the Vatican News Service

Monday, 26 November 2012

Surrey Churches Preservation Trust Sponsored Ride and Stride


Rosemary and Peter with Fr Peter
Taking part in their fifth Surrey Churches Preservation Trust Sponsored Stride and Bike Ride, Rosemary Keenan and Peter Ward raised £624 by visiting 22 churches. Their own parish of St Edward the Confessor in Sutton Park, receives fifty percent of the amount raised.

This year Peter and Rosemary were delighted to meet Fr Peter Andrews who had just completed baptising three small infants at St Dunstan’s catholic church in Woking. Rosemary comments that, “One of the interesting aspects of the cycle ride is visiting so many churches and seeing aspects of parish life but this was the first time we had arrived at a church to witness the reception of new members into the faith.”

Amongst some of the different places of worship visited by Rosemary and Peter were: Catholic, Church of England, Methodist, Baptist, Evangelical, Quaker, and Salvation Army.

The Surrey Churches Preservation Trust makes grants available to churches in need of preservation and fifty percent of funds raised by cyclists and walkers go to the parish from which they come. For details about taking part in the Ride and Stride next year visit www.SurreyChurchesPreservationTrust.org or phone Hamish Donaldson 01428 644473. For details of contacts in other counties visit www.rideandstrideuk.org

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Bishop Kieran Pastoral Letter for Christ the King

Bishop Kieran
Bishop Kieran has produced a pastoral letter for parishes in Arundel & Brighton for the Feast of Christ the King which you can read below:

Dear people of Arundel & Brighton,
I was in Rome for three weeks in October, at an international meeting of bishops from all over the world called the Synod. The word means something like ‘on the road together’ and while that might be true, it was clear that we are very differently prepared for the journey. For three weeks I sat between a bishop from Liberia and a bishop from Eritrea, and almost the only things we had in common were the English language and the Catholic faith, and teaching that faith (the point of the Synod) presented very different challenges for the three of us. One question that came up again and again, especially from Africa and the Middle East, was the question of relations with other religions, and especially Islam.

The gospel reading today ends just tantalisingly short of that famous line from Pontius Pilate, ‘Truth? What is that?” And because we only have the written word, we don’t know how he said that. Was it a cynical jibe at Jesus, or an honest enquiry? Was it even a word of sympathy, as if to say, “Why are you really standing before me?” After all, he then goes out to the crowd again and says to them, “I find no case against him.”

Today’s Feast of Christ the King ends our liturgical year; next week a new yearly cycle begins with the First Sunday of Advent. So today we not only round off the year but somehow also sum it up. Christ is supreme over all things, and in him truth is to be found. There are the fundamental truths about ourselves, that we are made in the image of God, and that all things came into being through him;
“Through him all things came to be; not one thing had its being but through him,”

as the beginning of John’s gospel tell us. And this tells us the truth about human dignity, that what we call ‘human rights’ are not given to people by the enlightened generosity of governments, but that we all have a fundamental dignity simply because we are human. And because of that, too, there are truths about the sacredness of life and the need for love.

But there are truths, then, that are less clear, and these are the truths about God, and these are truths that we must never stop trying to grasp more fully. What does God mean to me? How do I see God? Do I expect to experience God, and if so, how? And what does God want of me, and how does God see me? Do I really believe that God loves me so much that he sent his only Son to die on the cross for me? I know that for many of our young people these are questions that they are asking seriously as well. Today is also National Youth Sunday, and I ask you to pray for our young people especially. The ones that I meet always give me a great sense of hope and comfort; their lives seem very complicated, but I think their hearts are in the right place, and they tend to see fewer differences between people.

Recently Pope Benedict was quoted as saying that one of the more important documents to come out of the Council was not one of the four we are studying for the diocesan Jubilee. It was the document called in Latin Nostra Aetate, from the opening words, “In this age of ours..” and goes on to talk about how people are coming together much better and how “the bonds of friendship between different people are being strengthened.” I’m not sure we would say that with the same conviction today. But the document goes on to say that the Church wants to examine its relationship with other non-Christian religions, to see what we have in common and to see ways in which this can foster better relations between peoples.

The document talks about questions relevant to all religions: “What is the meaning and purpose of life? How can genuine happiness be found? What happens at death?” In the first chapter of the document there are passing references to Hinduism and Buddhism, and it says that “the Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions.” These were bold words in 1965, even shocking to some. And then the second chapter begins, “The Church also has a high regard for Muslims,” and acknowledges that there has been a sad history of conflict between Christians and Muslims. But it goes on to urge “a sincere effort be made to achieve mutual understanding, for the benefit of all.”

So what of today’s celebration? If Christ is Lord and King of all, how are those saved who do not acknowledge or know him? The answer is that all people, we believe, are saved in Christ, whether they know him or not. Those who consciously reject him presumably do not want to be saved. But it raises the more important question about the nature of truth. Is it something we possess, or is it something we search for?

The search for truth means having an open mind and an active mind. It means having a tolerant and welcoming outlook. It involves listening and praying. It involves thinking and reflecting. It cannot mean standing still.

I’ve no doubt that Pilate never forgot that meeting with Jesus, and for the rest of his life probably wondered, “Who was that man? What was he here for?” They are questions that have been asked by millions since, and as we begin a new year with Advent next week, and especially during this Year of Faith, I ask that we renew ourselves in that sense of search and that willingness to ask and ponder those questions. In the end they are not just questions about Jesus, but about who we are as well.

With my prayers and best wishes for you all.
+ Kieran

Bishop of Arundel & Brighton

Friday, 23 November 2012

Porta Fidei - A Meditation on Faith in Words and Music

Cover of Porta Fidei CD
Jeremy de Satgé from Music Makers writes:
"Pope Benedict XVI has called for a “Year of Faith” to usher the whole Church into a time of particular reflection and rediscovery of the faith. The year starts on 11th October 2012, which is both the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Year of Faith will conclude on 24th November 2013, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King.

It has been a privilege and pleasure to produce a CD to help promote the Year of Faith generally and to produce a reflection on faith in words and music. The music selected for this CD is this recording includes both ancient and modern, Latin and English, with a particular emphasis on English music and featuring especially one of my favourite English composers, Orlando Gibbons.

Once again, I am indebted to Archbishop Bernard Longley, who has taken time from his busy schedule to narrate this CD."

The CD Porta Fidei is narrated by Archbishop Bernard Longley (Archbishop of Birmingham) and the music performed by Schola Cantamus directed by Jeremy de Satge

The CD costs £12.75 per copy and is available from St Pauls Bookshops, Catholic Truth Society, Redemptorist Publications, Pauline Books & Media and other retailers or by direct mail order from The Music Makers.

For more information go to www.themusicmakers.org/welcomepages

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Savita Halappanavar: Catholic teaching and Irish Abortion Law

Pauline Gately MA (Bioethics) from Weybridge Parish has produced a very useful article on this very sad case to help explain this matter to others:
"The tragic case of Savita Halappanavar has been the subject of a great deal of media attention this week. Judgment has been made and political conclusions drawn on the basis of an account offered by the widower and without awaiting the results of the two investigations, by Ireland's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and by University Hospital Galway, now underway.

In the mainstream media the alleged circumstances are outlined. It is said that the doctors claimed they could not induce delivery, even to save the mother’s life, because it as contrary to Catholic teaching. This is uncritically and widely reported and it is claimed that Irish law, reflecting Catholic teaching, also prevented vital intervention and that she died as a consequence. This is nonsense.

With regard to Catholic teaching this article, by Catholic Voices, sets the record straight. That the doctors were not constrained by law from inducing delivery (on the basis of the information we have been given by the widower) is demonstrated by Section 21.4 of Ireland’s Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Medical Practitioners:

In the mainstream media the alleged circumstances are outlined. It is said that the doctors claimed they could not induce delivery, even to save the mother’s life, because it as contrary to Catholic teaching. This is uncritically and widely reported and it is claimed that Irish law, reflecting Catholic teaching, also prevented vital intervention and that she died as a consequence. This is nonsense.

With regard to Catholic teaching this article, by Catholic Voices, sets the record straight. That the doctors were not constrained by law from inducing delivery (on the basis of the information we have been given by the widower) is demonstrated by Section 21.4 of Ireland’s Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Medical Practitioners:

'In current obstetrical practice, rare complications can arise where therapeutic intervention (including termination of a pregnancy) is required at a stage when, due to extreme immaturity of the baby, there may be little or no hope of the baby surviving. In these exceptional circumstances, it may be necessary to intervene to terminate the pregnancy to protect the life of the mother, while making every effort to preserve the life of the baby.'

Note here the distinction between terminating the pregnancy and an intentional and direct attack on the unborn child. In the UK ‘termination of pregnancy’ is widely used as a euphemism for an intervention intended to kill the unborn child. But a moral distinction can be made (and is made by the Church) between an intervention to terminate the pregnancy to save the mother’s life but in which the child is not directly attacked and every effort is made also to save the child ("indirect abortion") and one in which the intention is to kill the child ("direct abortion").

Although not directly relevant to this case, it may also be of interest to note that direct abortion may never be necessary to save the life of the mother.

There are questions to be answered, but these are for the hospital and the Government insofar as it has responsibility for the proper conduct of the hospital personnel, not for the church. And this is properly reflected in the two inquiries now under way.

David Quinn, writing in the Irish Independent, speaks of ‘asymmetrical hysteria’: He observes that direct abortion may never be necessary to save the life of the mother.

There are questions to be answered, but these are for the hospital and the Government insofar as it has responsibility for the proper conduct of the hospital personnel, not for the church. And this is properly reflected in the two inquiries now under way.

David Quinn, writing in the Irish Independent, speaks of ‘asymmetrical hysteria’: He observes that "We are only ever outraged by anti-abortion laws and their consequences and never by the consequences of pro-abortion laws."

He goes on to point out that: "The Irish maternal death rate is one of the very lowest in the world at roughly three women per 100,000. The British figure is four times higher at 12 per 100,000 and the US figure is eight times higher at 24 per 100,000."

And he then asks: "How is it that Ireland without abortion is so much safer for pregnant women than Britain and America, which both have highly liberal abortion laws?"

Quinn’s article is also worth reading in full, although his implication at the end that an anti-abortion law will cause some ‘hard cases’ would be challenged by the evidence offered above.

We should reject all efforts to draw political conclusions from this and await the results of the two inquiries. Will they, I wonder, be subject to the same intense media attention as the current allegations?

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Emergency in the Gaza Strip: Help support the Christian Community


Young child playing in Gaza

ATS pro Terra Sancta reports and says:
 "It is following with great concern the evolution of the situation in the Gaza Strip, fearing the repeat of a tragedy like the one four years ago – Operation “Cast Lead”, which caused around 1,300 deaths –with the local population once again in the direct line of fire.

Within the Christian community – a very small minority of about 2,500 Christians currently live in the Gaza Strip – there is great fear and tension. Two days ago the long and persistent Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which for years has weighed heavily on the inhabitants, once again worsened.

The religious members of the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word, present in Gaza City and supported by the friends of the Holy Land, recount the events:

“Since last Sunday [12 November] we experienced moments of tension in the Gaza Strip, a situation that worsened on the afternoon of Wednesday 14 November. The attacks and responses became almost continuous. Daily life was interrupted. The Ministry of Education of the Gaza Strip decided to close schools for 72 hours. Businesses were shut. The people were frightened…The parish is in a sensitive area and, thanks to God, we are all right. Our houses, both those of the priests and the religious, are located on the property of the parish and the school and hence are in one of the safest places. The security of the position is due to the fact that it is a place well known by everyone. A place where violence, of whatever nature, has no place, a place where peace is taught and where people are working to obtain it. We are waiting for something to happen in the coming hours… Our desire is to remain close to as many people as possible, to the many civilians who innocently suffer the consequences of this situation, in particular our Christians.”

The members of the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word have had a permanent presence in Gaza for nearly four years, but their mission there began about eight years ago. The priests serve the only Catholic parish in the Strip – one of the fathers is director of both of the schools in Gaza operated by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The sisters work together with the priests in their mission with the children, youths and Christian families. They take care of the parish sacristy and assist with the liturgy at the Church of the Holy Family. As the sisters explain, in Gaza there is a small Catholic community, of about 200 souls, who seek to live their Christian faith in a simple and devout manner.

ATS pro Terra Sancta has supported the Christian community for a number of years through the project “Emergency Gaza”, which is divided into two activities that you can aid through an online donation or via bank transfer:

- Taking care of the weakest: supporting the disabled in the Gaza Strip

- Supporting Christians in need in the Gaza Strip

It takes just a simple gesture to help the disabled, the children and families living in the Gaza Strip and to support the religious in their delicate mission that in these days more than ever consists in accompanying the Christians, in providing them a word of comfort and hope, in aiding them to ask God for instruction in forgiveness and the value of suffering, lived in a Christian manner."

To make a donation go online on to their website: www.proterrasancta.org/en/help/

Monday, 19 November 2012

Advent Weekend - Preparing for Christmas

Growing numbers of Christians are troubled that Christmas season has become so materialistic. The remarkable work of the Holy Spirit in those who awaited Christ's birth eg. Joseph, Mary, Simeon etc. should cause us to marvel and rejoice and have the same expectancy that the Holy Spirit would work in our lives. We can know by personal experience that our lives change when touched by the power of the Holy Spirit .

So on Saturday, 8th December 2012 @ 7:15pm & Sunday, 9th December 2012 @ 10:30am Marie Bierne, President of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Ireland at St Richards Catholic College, Ashdown Road, Bexhill on Sea, East Sussex TN40 1SE. All are welcome to both days.

As part of the Advent Season she will talk on:
· The Holy Spirit - the power, the gifts, your personal encounter with Jesus;

· The Power of Praise - when the Holy Spirit touched Mary, Elizabeth, Zechariah, the Disciples they were filled with praise. Praise  can create the atmosphere for Miracles . "God lives in the praises of his people"

· The Power of God's Word - "The Word of God is alive and active" (Heb.4:12). ? Is the Word of God alive and active in You?

Upon completion of the talks (Sunday 3:00pm) Mass will be Celebrated by Fr David Parmiter, parish priest of St Mary Magdalene's, Bexhill in the College Hall.

For further information contact: Teresa and Scott Black - Tel: 01424 753613 email: scott_a_black@hotmail.com

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Farewell to Mass in Anglican Parish Church

L-R: Deacon Tim, Fr Chris and Marian
The regular First Friday evening Mass in the Anglican Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Bletchingley has had to stop as the number of priests has been reduced in the parish of the Nativity of the Lord, Surrey. This means that the Friday evening Masses have had cease.

The last of these Masses was marked by a fitting celebration of many years of collaboration with the Anglican community. A votive Mass of the Holy Trinity was said by Fr. Chris Spain, assisted by Deacon Tim Murrill. In his homily Fr. Chris spoke about the warmth of the people of Betchingley as an ecumenical enterprise, symbolised by the open door of the church, and expressed the hope that the relationship will continue to prosper. He recalled how, as a nervous seminarian over 20 years ago, he had had to speak at a Sunday Service in this very church. His anxiety had been very quickly dispelled as the same warmth had reached out to him on that occasion.

At the end of Mass he thanked the Anglicans for their contribution, the kindness of having the church and beautiful vestments made available to us, the service rendered by George, the organist who played each month, and the team of bell ringers who made sure we had a melodious welcome. A presentation was made to Mrs. Marian Buck who, for many years, has been co-ordinator making sure no detail was overlooked. There is still open to an occasional Mass wherever there might be a special occasion.

The Anglican Clergy, the bell ringers, and parishioners attended the Mass. Afterwards we all spent a convivial time enjoying wine and snacks.