Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Thoughts about the family during this time of the extraordinary synod

As we approached the beginning of the time of the Extraordinary Synod in Rome I was mindful of Pope Benedict's counsel about Vatican II: that there was a council of the media, and there was the real council. One cannot fail to appreciate the truth of this especially as a convert, for one encounters more and more Catholics who say, "well that changed at vatican ii" but who haven't actually ever read any document of Vatican II! So I have taken with a pinch of salt most of the reports we have received about this synod. I am waiting for the true result of the Synod, which of course won't be produced until part 2 of the synod has happened next year.

I have however read about the press conference with 3 Cardinals and an Archbishop here and share, if it is an accurate representation, disappointment at an opportunity lost. We desperately need our Shepherds to proclaim with confidence to the world the good news of Catholic teaching on marriage and sex. They should not be reticent about this. But I sometimes wonder if they know that Catholic teaching is indeed good news.

I entered the full Communion of the Catholic Church only a few years ago. Part of my relief in making the journey from being an Anglican clergyman to being a pastor of the Catholic Church was that at last the truth that I wanted to proclaim in my preaching and teaching about marriage, family and sex would be the teaching of the Church in which I was ministering. That prospect filled me with joy.

As an Anglican clergyman whenever I spoke about abortion, marriage, family size, population etc I would frequently be greeted with scepticism or outright opposition, and most of the time, a silence that spoke loudest of all. Rarely would I find support. What I found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church was an affirmation of what my wife and I had tried to live in our marriage, and I looked forward to being in full communion with the Church which had produced that Catechism.

Despite the ridicule, the 'jokes', and the embarrassment we obviously caused people, my wife and I have come to believe that the teaching of the Church regarding marriage and sexual morality is actually good news. Yet when expressing this belief amongst Catholics, including groups of Catholic clergy, too often I find people who are not so sure. There is a lack of confidence.

Only recently I spoke with a priest who essentially was trying to say we ought not to "burden" people with this teaching too much. My response was, "Well if you teach it as if it is merely a set of commandments, 'don't do that...' then of course it will come across as a burden. But we have the Catechesis of St John Paul on the Theology of the Body - we do not have to teach it merely as a set of commands." I went on to spell out why our culture is a culture of death and in part is because we have failed to proclaim the good news of the Catholic vision of marriage, family and sex. As a university chaplain I see some of the effects of this in the young men and women I try to offer pastoral care to. Whether it is the corruption of men's hearts because of a long-term use of pornography and masturbation, or women who have had multiple abortions; in every direction we see the terrible effects of a culture of death. What people need is the confident and joyful proclamation of the culture of life. The priest I spoke to was shocked. He had not thought about it in quite that way!

The Church has the treasure of the truth revealed by God for our salvation, and it is very good news - this includes the treasure of its teaching about marriage and about the most intimate part of marriage life, sex. This teaching is very, very good news! The Church needs to find those with a voice to proclaim this good news - perhaps this should not necessarily be cardinals and archbishops.

One of the most joyful experiences I have had in the Catholic Church has been on a campsite! For the last two years we have taken part in a camp for Catholic home-schooling families. It has been a very great privilege to offer mass at the home-schooler's camp. It is on such occasions that one can appreciate the very great joy of the Catholic vision for the family. Yes it is very hard work. Yes it means one has to renounce a lot of things for oneself. But isn't that the essence of caritas, of Christian love? Perhaps we home-schoolers should invite along some of our bishops and priests to see it too?

Sometimes I am referred to as Father Quiverfull! I don't mind. For Holy Scripture says, "Blessed is the man who has his quiver full of them!" The Lord has truly blessed me with ten children. And I am very blessed to have discovered the very good news of the teaching of Holy Mother Church.

My prayer is that the Church will find the voice to speak this good news confidently and joyfully.
Fr Ian

Monday, 8 September 2014

The Solemn Foundation Mass of the School of the Annunciation celebrated by HE Cardinal Pell

I have just recently come back from the day at Buckfast Abbey and the Mass celebrated by Cardinal Pell. Concelebrants from the Ordinariate were the Ordinary, Mgr Newton, Fr Simon Chinery, Fr Colin Furness, Mgr David Silk, Fr Bernard Sixtus and myself.
Also present were Bishop Mark O'Toole and Bishop Philip Egan.

The Abbey was absolutely packed to the rafters. There must have been 40 or 50 concelebrating priests, some coming from other abbeys or communities (incl other Benedictines and Oratorians), as well as some local and visiting diocesan clergy.

In the stalls were also sisters from various communities including Mother Winsome of the Ordinariate's own Benedictine community.

The stunning music was led by the abbey's music director, Philip Arkwright. The Gloria and Agnus was from Missa Brevis by Zoltan Kodaly. There was also music by Bach, Rachmaninov, William Byrd and Widor, as well as of course Gregorian chant from the tradition of the church.

A peal of newly restored bells had heralded the beginning of mass. The fine organ accompanied the music other than the chant. And finally trumpets played a recessional fanfare (by Susato).

His Eminence spoke, often very directly, about the great hopes that are embodied in the School and gave his wholehearted support. He noted how of course such things that show great promise will of course be attacked by the enemy. Even Our Lady was not insulated from this after the Annunciation. He paid tribute to their intended fidelity to the magisterium and the offering of something that was not just academics but that appeals to the whole person, which was also very much helped by being in such a fine Benedictine Abbey. He emphasised in his message that our task was really to be faithful and to persevere especially through those times when it seemed perhaps things were not going our way - nevertheless it was not success that was to be measured but faithfulness.

It was an exceptionally fine occasion that had attracted faithful catholics from all around the country. It was inspiring to meet them and His Eminence who spoke very freely to many people there. The Abbot and his team are to be congratulated on such a wonderful occasion, and the staff of the School for their great faith and inspiration.

The School of the Annunciation has been founded on the solid ground of the redemption of Jesus Christ, brought through the cooperation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and her "yes" to God. One could not fail to be inspired by such an occasion. May the School of the Annunciation by the prayers of the Holy Mother of God, and under the protection of the Holy Angels, grow by grace into what God intends.

Fr Ian Hellyer

PS To my brothers of the clergy: there are still places available on the Catechetics for clergy course, this Autumn.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Called to be One - Sat 6th September

Procession of Reparation 
on the Ordinariate's Pilgrimage to Walsingham 2014

The Ordinariate has organised a national day of enquiry with events all around the country. The event has the personal blessing of the Holy Father, Pope Francis. The day is named "Called to be One" and is an opportunity for people to explore the vision of Christian unity offered by the Ordinariate (see the Ordinary's address).

Details of the events happening around the country can be found on the Ordinariate's website: Called_to_Be_One .

In the Southwest:

Saturday 6th September

Torbay Mission:
Held at     Catholic Church of the Holy Angels
                (Church Hall)
Queensway, Chelston, Torquay, TQ2 6B

14:00  Welcome, DVD, and Q& A
15:00  Cream Tea
16:00 Evensong and Benediction in Church

Buckfast Mission in Plymouth:
Christ the King Catholic Church (hall)
Armada Way , Plymouth , PL1 2EN
14:00  &  15:00  Video Message, Talk, and Q & A
          with Tea and Scones
16:30  Evensong of Our Lady (plainsong)

Sunday 7th September
Buckfast Abbey:
15:00  Mass in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel (Ordinariate use liturgy)
16:30  Video message, talk and Q&A  with tea/coffee in the Violet Evelyn Hall (Abbey)

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Pope Francis is praying for Ordinariate's Exploration Day "Called to be One"

Pope Francis has said he is praying for the success of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham's forthcoming "Called To Be One" exploration day, which aims to increase understanding of the Ordinariate's purpose and reach out to those who may feel called to join it.
The endorsement was delivered in a letter from the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, to Monsignor Keith Newton, the Ordinary of the Ordinariate.
The full text of Archbishop Mennini's letter reads as follows: 
"At the request of the Secretariat of State, I have been asked to inform you that  the Holy Father Francis, on learning of the national day of exploration entitled "Called to be One" organised by the various Groups of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and due to take place on Saturday 6 September 2014, wishes to convey his good wishes and prayers for a successful and inspiring event. The Holy Father cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing upon all those persons who are participating in this significant event and working in any way for the promotion and presentation of the Catholic Faith and the Gospel in Great Britain".
The Nuncio ends with his own prayerful good wishes for a very successful day.
Pope Francis' blessing on the exploration day and Archbishop Mennini's words of support for it follow a statement of welcome for the initiative from Cardinal Vincent Nichols. In his capacity as President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, the Cardinal said:
 "the Ordinariate both enriches the Catholic Church with Catholic aspects of the beautiful heritage and culture of Anglican patrimony and advances the cause of unity which must be the ultimate aim of all ecumenical activity... I wish you every success with this initiative. I hope it will attract many interested enquirers".
Last week Mgr Newton warmly invited all those who are interested in the Ordinariate to attend the exploration day 
"whether because they are considering their future or just because they would like to see more of what we are and what we do" . 
Mgr Newton's invitation came in his response to the Church of England General Synod's decision to allow women to be ordained as bishops. In the same statement Mgr Newton said that, though that decision was a very happy one for many within the Church of England, it made the position undeniably harder for those within the Anglican Church who still longed for unity with Rome.
The Ordinariate was set up by Pope Benedict in 2011 to make it possible for Anglicans who wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church to do so, bringing with them much of the heritage and traditions of Anglicanism. Pope Benedict described these as "treasures to be shared". On the exploration day, each of the 40 or so Ordinariate groups across the country will host a different event, with the common theme of the vision for Christian unity which is at the heart of the Ordinariate.
Tuesday 22nd July 2014