Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Fifth anniversary of the erection of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham

In January AD2016 we celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. In the Southwest we are marking this occasion with a Holy Mass celebrated by the Ordinary, Mgr Keith Newton. The mass will take place on Saturday 9th January, at Our Lady of Walsingham's Ordinariate Church in Chelston, Torbay, at 12noon, followed by a free lunch and then Benediction.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Mass for Advent 4

Holy Mass of Advent 4 will be offered by the Buckfast Mission at 2pm rather than 3pm as usual. The Mass will take place in St Michael's Chapel in the abbey, and follows the form of Divine Worship, the Ordinariate's Missal.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Mgr Lopes on the Ordinariate Liturgy

This talk given in 2013 is by Mgr Stephen Lopes and is an excellent paper on the Ordinariate's Liturgy. He has been chosen by the Holy Father to be the next Ordinary of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter, in North America. He is also to be the first bishop ordinary of any of the Personal Ordinariates. This is an excellent preparation for the Ordinariate Mass to be offered using our new missal this coming Sunday - Advent Sunday.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Cardinal Sarah speaks plainly about discipline of the sacraments

Cardinal Robert Sarah, 70, of Guinea, is the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

Cardinal Sarah makes it clear for every Catholic with regard to the discipline of receiving the Holy Eucharist. If one is unrepentant about one's lifestyle which by the church's teaching authority is gravely sinful then one cannot receive the Holy Eucharist.

“Not even a pope can dispense from such a divine law.”
“The entire Church has always firmly held that one may not receive communion with the knowledge of being in a state of mortal sin, a principle recalled as definitive by John Paul II in his 2003 encyclical ‘Ecclesia de Eucharistia,’” on the basis of what was decreed by the Council of Trent."
Read more here:


Cardinal Sarah is a phenomenal man. I have been reading an extended interview with him in the book "God or nothing" and so far every time I read more about him my estimation of him grows. I highly recommend the book.


See also this article:

Friday, 13 November 2015

A missal that has been prepared for five hundred years

The First Sunday of Advent will see the introduction of a new missal in the Catholic Church, one that has been in preparation for five hundred years.
Known as Divine Worship: The Missalit has been handsomely published by the Catholic Truth Society to serve the communities and parishes of the personal ordinariates —structures similar to dioceses, established to provide a home in the Catholic Church for those from the Anglican tradition.

Continue here:

See also :

Why Divine Worship: The Missal is so Important

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Wake up!

Wake up! is the cry that our persecuted brothers and sisters from the East, especially from Syria and Iraq, make to the West.

HM Television shows you the life of an authentic Christian faith, full of the cross, forgiveness, strength and hope; and, at the same time, a faith that is awake to the reality of persecution, not only in the East, but also gradually in the West.

Let us join forces to wake up a society that needs to open its eyes to a new and shocking witness of faith.Don’t remain silent before the suffering of our brothers and sisters, and show that you too are a “Nazarene.”

You can find the complete interviews of those who intervene in this clip and many others in the series, “In the Footsteps of the Nazarene,” by HM Television.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Ordinariate Missal arrives!

A very exciting moment - today I received a copy of the brand new Ordinariate Missal called "Divine Worship" and authorised by the Holy See for use in the Ordinariates from Advent Sunday.

Here are some sneek peeks!

I am so pleased we have a "WHITSUN WEEK". I cannot think why the Whitsun octave was removed from the Calendar for the Novus Ordo. But we have it back now!

And lots of Ember days through the year too!

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Romanian doctor - star of the Synod

I posted this Romanian doctor's intervention at the Synod which I think was outstanding. Now on this video clip you hear her being interviewed.

Fr Ian

Tuesday, 20 October 2015


At the Synod of the Family this contribution from Dr Anca-Maria Cernea (of the Association of Catholic Doctors in Romania) caught my eye as being outstanding.

She writes:

Your Holiness, Synod Fathers, Brothers and Sisters, I represent the Association of Catholic Doctors from Bucharest.
I am from the Romanian Greek Catholic Church.
My father was a Christian political leader, who was imprisoned by the communists for 17 years. My parents were engaged to marry, but their wedding took place 17 years later.
My mother waited all those years for my father, although she didn’t even know if he was still alive. They have been heroically faithful to God and to their engagement.
Their example shows that God’s grace can overcome terrible social circumstances and material poverty.
We, as Catholic doctors, defending life and family, can see this is, first of all, a spiritual battle.
Material poverty and consumerism are not the primary cause of the family crisis.
The primary cause of the sexual and cultural revolution is ideological....

Click here for the rest of the article.

It is extremely, well worth reading.

Fr Ian

Thursday, 15 October 2015

History Made with Publication of a New Missal

A unique event in the history of the universal Church will unfold on the First Sunday of Advent, November 29. That day a copy of the newly published Divine Worship – The Missal will be presented to Pope Francis in Rome by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.

From Rome, to London and various parts of Britain, and also to Washington, Houston, L.A., Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, Sydney and Melbourne on that day, the newly published missal for the Personal Ordinariates of the Catholic Church established under the Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus, will be formally received and inaugurated in the celebration of Mass.

The Missal, published under the authority of the Holy See, offers another version of the Western Rite of the Holy Eucharist which includes traditional (hieratic) English adapted from the Book of Common Prayer, as well as the music of the Anglican Patrimony.

This singular event celebrates another major step for thousands once separated from the Catholic Church. These Anglicans and others who have joined with them are the first distinctive groups, in various countries, to be reunited collectively with the universal Church, in full communion with the See of St. Peter.

Ordinariate congregations retain many of the elements of their Anglican patrimony that are in harmony with the doctrine and discipline of the universal Church. Ordinariate communities, like Eastern churches in communion with Rome, have a distinctive liturgy, pastoral practice and now over two hundred priests, many of whom have been dispensed from the vow of celibacy in the Western Catholic, (Latin) Rite of the Catholic Church.

In the southwest, the Ordinariate rite of Mass is celebrated at Buckfast Abbey at 3pm on Sundays. You are very welcome to 'come and see'.

Fr Ian

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Meat free Fridays

Stephen Bullivant writes a good article (here) about this simple but obligatory catholic discipline. Four years ago this week, he reminds us, that the Bishops of England and Wales re-instated the obligatory discipline of abstaining from meat on Fridays (fish excepted). It is not, of course, an heroic act of virtue but nevertheless it is a little thing that is required of all Catholics. To refuse to do it is usually a serious matter.

Yesterday at the chaplaincy stall on the university campus I was asked by a student why we Catholics abstain from meat. I said simply that it was a common act of discipline, a kind of training, that helped to improve our self-discipline and obedience to the church, and also show a certain solidarity with our catholic brothers and sisters."We all keep it together" I said. I wondered what the response would be.

The person asking was a Christian but not a Catholic. She said "oh cool; that's actually a really good idea!" I think sometimes we Catholics think our Catholic disciplines will appear not cool to others, and we end up trying to hide them. By declaring I was eating a veg pasty because Catholics don't eat meat on Fridays, lead to a brief discussion about catholicism, and the hearer's response was "oh cool - that's a good idea". A very small but nevertheless positive result.

It wasn't an instant conversion to Catholicism but in order for people to even consider the Catholic faith an option, they have to start understanding why we do what we do. If Catholics don't say why - who is going to?

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

The priority of truth over success

Sunday 21st per annum (B)
Holy Mother church has, over the last four weeks, brought us a crucial chapter in the gospel, that of John chapter 6. It has been an extended meditation on the Eucharist. Today the chapter comes to its conclusion with what on the face of it might seem a disaster (the falling away of many disciples) but is, I suggest to you, actually a victory, encapsulated in the words of St Peter.
So first I suggest we should reflect on the gospel today as a testament to the priority of truth over success. The world in which we live does not see it that way. And sadly the politics we know too well prefer success before truth. For many people in our society, it is much more important to be successful (whether it be in politics, in one’s career, in business). Sadly there are those in the church who can be tempted by this worldly priority – preferring to change Church teaching and appear ‘relevant’ to people, than to witness to the truth and appear a ‘failure’. But here in John chapter 6 our Lord does not bend. Here is the priority of truth. It is divine truth, and of course, it cannot be changed, even when people find it hard and threaten to leave the Church. Our Lord is single-minded and determined, and he expects the same of us.
Back in the time of Joshua the people of God were asked to make a decision. In a very striking way Joshua challenges God’s people to make a choice between serving the LORD alone, or alternatively to serve the alien gods of the surrounding nations. The point here is that they cannot have it both ways. If they are to serve the LORD there is no room for any other god – they must choose. There cannot be a little bit of one religion and a little bit of another (the technical word for this is syncretism). It makes no sense for the people to just pick out the bits of different religions that they liked and make up their own hotchpotch religion!
However it was not just in those distant times that this approach to religion was a temptation. Today many people are inclined to pick and choose over their religion. “I like this bit; but I don’t like that!” But what this syncretism does is make US into the “decider” – the one who knows what is true! But that is a very different thing to a religion which is about divine revealed truth. We human beings do not get to decide what religious truth is – first and foremost it is revealed to us by God! So there can be no syncretism, because any syncretism effectively deposes God and replaces God with ourselves. With a syncretistic approach we effectively say “I know better than God!”
And people don’t realise that they are doing something very similar over Catholic teaching. A Catholic does not pick and choose over what they like about the Catholic Faith, as if they were choosing items on a menu! No, God has revealed the truth in God the Son, and through God the Holy Spirit reveals it to us in the Church. When the Church teaches authoritatively it is transmitting divine revelation – it is not sharing human opinions! It is divine revelation.
Now, as Joshua knew, divine revelation is not always comfortable! The divinely revealed truth contains some elements that we will like and others that we will not like. Some things that God reveals to us might greatly disturb us! It was true for Israel, and it is true for us Catholic Christians. We may not like some aspect of Catholic teaching. We may find some Catholic teaching very difficult. We may find some Catholic teaching very difficult to understand. But what is crucially important is that we do not walk away when we don’t like it, or don’t understand it, or find it too disturbing. If we say “I don’t accept Church teaching on this” then we are walking away from Christ, like those many disciples in John 6 walked away. They could not accept this teaching of Christ that ‘unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood you have no life in you…as the Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me…he who eats this bread will live for ever.” Our Lord revealed the truth that they needed for eternal life, but because it was too hard for them, they walked away.
Of course we are not saying that they had thus lost all chance of eternal life. But somehow they would need to repent of this ‘walking away’ and return to the truth that leads to eternal life.
So, my brothers and sisters, we too are being asked to make a decision. The gospel challenges us now, like Joshua challenged Israel. “Whom shall we serve?” Will we serve God who has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ, who is God the Son, and through God the Holy Spirit reveals Him in the Church? The Church which is Christus Totus, the whole Christ, will never lead us into error. That is why the Pope has the charism of infallibility when he is defining formally the doctrine of the Church. Will then we serve God and accept the truth He has revealed to us, or, will we go our own way, and decide for ourselves and make up our own religion?
Christ promises us an eternal home, and He offers us the means and way of reaching our eternal home. Can we do the same for ourselves? Of course not! If we go our own way, we are on our own until we repent. Can we save ourselves? If we could, the world would not need a saviour.
Christ does not promise that life will be easy as His disciple. He does not promise that we will like everything He will teach us. He does not promise we will understand everything He reveals to us. But what He promises is eternal life!
Let us then make St Peter’s words our own this day:
“Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
Only God can save us. Our likes or dislikes, our thoughts and opinions, our feelings or limited intelligence – none of that can save us. Only the Holy God can bring us to eternal life.
IH - given at Sclerder Abbey and Buckfast Abbey

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Thoughts on the Year of Mercy Jubilee Hymn

Mr Michael Vian Clark, a seminarian for the Diocese of Plymouth, has posted his thoughts on the official "Year of Mercy" Jubilee Hymn. As Michael is extremely knowledgeable about liturgy and music, and has a very gifted liturgical voice (if I can put it so clumsily), I take his 'thoughts' to be very important, and a great help to me as I have no music to speak of!

Thoughts on Paul Inwood's 'Misericordes sicut Pater':

There were 89 entries for the official 'Year of Mercy' Jubilee hymn and this was the winning entry. Congratulations, Mr Inwood, this is a triumph. Why do I say that?
Well, first of all, it's beautiful. Both the melodies and the harmonies are instantly pleasing and expertly thought through. Wonderful stuff.
Secondly, it's simple. The melody is memorable and easy to sing, fitting comfortably within a congregational range.
Thirdly, it's versatile. This is a piece which can be executed in a number of different ways - according to resources - and sound great in any of them.
Fourthly, it's got a great libretto. It's scripturally-based, but in Litany form, which lends itself to antiphonal participation.
Fifthly, Latinity. The Latin language should be familiar to Catholics (Sacrosanctum Concilium 36 and 54) and I would argue it should be comfortable as well. Latin is not a clerical language, it's a universal language which no-one owns, but at the same time everyone owns. Therefore, to have the congregational response in Latin, with the verses in the vernacular is an excellent example of what SC was aiming for.
Sixthly, and relatedly, Mr Inwood, being a Latinist, demonstrates this in his careful setting of the Latin text to coincide perfectly with the Latin stress. I bang on about this all the time - Latin is a language, not holy mumbo-jumbo. So often composers (the worst culprit being a certain W. A. Mozart) ignore the language entirely. It's unusual to see such care in composition by contemporary composwers.
Seventhly, anyone who is familiar with the Divine Office in Latin will immediately recall Ps 136 when hearing this Litany - 'quoniam in aeternum misericordia eius' - a fitting echo. 
Eighthly, the way that Mr Inwood has set the reciting verses permits easy translation into various languages. Good.
So there are my eight points, I could go on, but I think that's enough. Here are the details from the official website below:

A great short animation on Marriage

This is a great resource for teaching marriage, not only for children but us all.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

An invitation from ACTA

ACTA - A Call To Action

I have just had an invitation to an event organised by ACTA for Catholics to discuss the "opposing traditionalist and progressive positions on marriage that have been expressed recently..." It will take place in the Friends meeting house in Exeter. Dr Stewart, from Exeter University, will address the meeting.

The letter and poster give the impression that the Church's teaching on marriage is to be somehow renewed by reconciling differing opinions held within the Church. But that is not how we come to the truth in the Catholic Church - rather we have faith in the Truth that is revealed to us. So we are about revealed truth, not opinions. We all have opinions but at the end of the day they count for nothing, because opinion will never be the Good News, and will never save us.

For Catholics, the Truth is revealed to us not through opinion but through the Magisterium of the Church (Teaching authority), which we believe is Christ teaching us. Just as the faithful disciples of Christ listened to His teaching and were transformed by it, so all of His disciples today are called to do the same thing. We have to listen to the magisterial teaching of the Church and allow it to transform us, not discuss whether or not we accept it! There are not two positions on marriage in the Church! Christ teaches us the truth about marriage and there is only one truth. So in the Church there are those who accept the teaching of the Church, and there are those who reject the teaching of the Church. These latter are dissenters from the Church's teaching and their position is not a legitimate Catholic one.

So it is not up for debate. The truth is not found by contrasting opinions so "common ground" can be found. Christ teaches us by the Holy Spirit in Scripture and Tradition. The magisterial teaching of the Church is teaching with Christ's authority. It seems to me that if you do not accept that then you are essentially taking a Protestant position. It seems to me that those who dissent from the magisterial teaching of the Church should be open and honest about it and not claim to be Catholic but rather admit they have become Protestant.

What also really annoys me about ACTA publicity is the way that they keep repeating that ACTA in the southwest "seeks to develop openness and dialogue in the Catholic Church in a climate of trust and respect for all". What they clearly imply is that outside of ACTA there is no openness and dialogue within the Church. What utter bunkum!

It seems to me that the real reason Catholics harbour so many dissenting views against Catholic teaching and especially Catholic Moral teaching is because they have not been properly catechised and formed. They think the church's moral teaching are simply "rules", indeed "rules" that have been created by men and so can be changed. But this is simply not the truth. The Church's moral teaching is Good News and very beautiful, and it is entirely united and embedded within the whole Gospel: the Faith professed, the Mystery celebrated, Christian living and Christian prayer. No part of it can be just changed because everything is connected to everything else. The Catechism's cross-references demonstrate and symbolize this. The Church's teaching is a systematic whole because it comes from Christ (and has not been botched together by men!).

So it seems to me that the Catholic Faithful should steer a wide berth from ACTA for they are basically advocating that Catholics should be protestant. They say they are "in the spirit of Vat ii" but really what they are doing is setting their own opinions higher than Christ's teaching (the magisterial teaching of the Church).

Christ never said that His teaching would be easy to accept or easy to follow, so when we find the teaching of the Church difficult we should not assume that therefore it is wrong! As in John chapter 6 (which we have been listening to in the Gospel reading at Mass on Sundays recently) followers of Christ will find His teaching seemingly too difficult to bear, but that does not mean He has made an error! Christ imparts His grace as well as His truth, in order that we can bear what otherwise seems unbearable.

So of course I will not be attending this meeting, nor will I recommend it to anyone, indeed I will do the very opposite! Catholics who want to be faithful to Christ should not attend such groups because they are not about "openness and dialogue" but rather dissent from Christ's teaching!

Fr Ian Hellyer
Pastor of the Buckfast Ordinariate Mission

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Giving and receiving the Good News of Christ - A day at Christ the King, Plymouth

Ephaphatha! Be opened!
Giving and receiving the
Good News of Christ

On Saturday 19th September at Christ the King, Plymouth, there is a special day for all those who wish to share the Good News with joy, and not least for catechists and parents. Our principle speaker will be Miss Hannah Vaughan-Spruce who is author of the well respected confirmation course "Transformed in Christ". She is an experienced youth leader and catechist and now works for the Diocese of Portsmouth. She has her own personal catechesis blog, and also has articles published on Jericho Tree blog.

Transformed in Christ

The day includes Mass, lunch and Vespers with Benediction. The Rector of the School of the Annunciation, Fr Guy, will also be giving a talk on evangelisation, "It is the Lord: The Spirit and the Bride say 'Come'".

The day promises to be inspiring and also an opportunity to make new connections. It has been organised by the Guild of Our Lady and St Joseph, who support the work of the School of the Annunciation (based at Buckfast Abbey). Cost £10 (including lunch).

To book email : guildofourladyandstjoseph@gmail.com

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

The Catholic Church of Our Lady of Walsingham with St Cuthbert Mayne in Torbay

The Catholic Church of 
Our Lady of Walsingham with St Cuthbert Mayne

under the juristiction of the Ordinariate - working for unity and sharing patrimony


Sunday Mass - 11am
Tuesday - 7pm
Thursday (at Holy Angels, Chelston) - 7pm

(more Mass times will added in time)

Old Mill Road 

This is the new home of the Torbay Ordinariate Mission thanks to the generosity of many.
Please pray for the life and mission of this Ordinariate Mission
and especially for Fr David Lashbrooke, his brother priests of the mission,
and all his people.

Jesu mercy , Mary pray

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Corpus Christi procession

On Sunday 7th June, Father Abbot is leading a procession of the Blessed Sacrament for Corpus Christi, at St Mary's Abbey, Buckfast, 3pm. This will include Evening Prayer and Benediction. The Abbot extends a warm welcome to anyone who would like to participate in this event.

The Ordinariate usually celebrates mass at 3pm but members will attend Holy Mass elsewhere in order to participate in the procession.

Blessed be Jesus Christ in the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar!

Fr Ian

Thursday, 21 May 2015

School of the Annunciation signs partnership agreement with Franciscan University Steubenville, USA.

The School of the Annunciation, Buckfast Abbey, has signed an agreement with Franciscan University Steubenville to form a collaborative partnership.

In the first phase of the partnership Dr Andrew Beards, Academic Director at the School, has joined the online teaching staff of Franciscan University’s popular online, distance-learning MA in Catechesis and Evangelisation (MACE). Dr Beards joins a faculty teaching US students that includes Dr Scott Hahn, Dr Bob Rice, Sr Johanna Paruch and Dr Petroc Willey.

News will follow in the coming weeks and months on further developments arising from this exciting collaboration between the School of the Annunciation and Franciscan University.

Fr Guy de Gaynesford STL, the Rector of the School of the Annunciation, writes:

‘All those associated with the School of the Annunciation will naturally be absolutely delighted to learn of the beginning of this exciting collaborative partnership with a world renowned Catholic university. The remarkable progress both sides have achieved in creating this partnership was made possible by our common fidelity to the Catholic faith, our shared academic expertise and our joint passion to form disciples of the Lord for the work of the New Evangelisation.’


The School of the Annunciation: Centre for the New Evangelisation is the UK’s only Higher Education School dedicated to the New Evangelisation.

The School of the Annunciation was founded by Dr Andrew Beards, Academic Director, Dr Caroline Farey, Director of Studies, Deacon Nick Donnelly, Director of Formation, together with the Abbot of Buckfast. Fr Guy de Gaynesford has recently been appointed the School’s first Rector. The patrons of the School of the Annunciation are His Eminence George Cardinal Pell, Prefect of the Secretariat of the Economy, and the Right Reverend Mark O’Toole, Bishop of Plymouth

Over the past year the School has launched three new courses in evangelisation, catechesis and Latin that combine on-line learning with residentials in the beautiful surroundings of Buckfast Abbey. Together with six Summer Schools and weekend courses, on subjects ranging from sacred Scripture, philosophy and liturgy, the School has enrolled 129 students from the United Kingdom, Ireland, US, Australia, Gibraltar, Malta, and Dubai.

Press officer: n.donnelly@schooloftheannunciation.com
01229 821866/07938 986186

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Called to be Holy

A Novena of Prayer

Please join the Ordinariate in prayer with their new Novena between Ascension and Pentecost (Fri 15th to Sat 23rd May). Each day there is a reading from English spiritual writers, e.g. The Cloud of Unknowing, Julian of Norwich, Lancelot Andrewes, Newman, Thomas Ken, Evelyn Underhill...etc.

If you do not have a copy of the booklet please ask your group pastor.
I have a dozen or so left, so I could send a copy out by post to anyone without a copy.

It will also be available online here: calledtobe.org.uk

The Novena is published in full day by day here.

Our Lady of Walsingham pray for us,
Bl John Henry Newman pray for us.

Fr Ian

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Always have a reason for the hope that is in you

Whatever our age, our faith will not develop unless we spend time, effort and resources in developing it. I believe that Catholic adults need to wake up to the fact that listening to the weekly homily at mass and going to a Lent course is today totally insufficient to equip them for the apostolate of the laity. Perhaps it was sufficient in ages gone by, but it is certainly insufficient today.

We do not live in a Catholic culture; we do not even live in a protestant Christian culture. We live in a largely secular culture. And this means that our Catholic Christian beliefs, values and understanding of right and wrong come into conflict with those of  a secular world-view and mentality. And in the conflict we are called to witness to our faith. Of course we are not all called to be public defenders of the faith, but we are all called to "always be prepared to make a defence to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you" (1 Peter 3:15). We should ask ourselves, "Am I ready to make that defence?" We are unlikely to be ready if we are not developing our faith and being formed in the faith. There are many people in our society looking for answers, some of them may be our friends, acquaintances, colleagues and family members. We may only be asked once! Will we be ready?

It is easy to despair. It is easy to think, "that's not my job, it belongs to clergy, nuns and our catechists", but actually it is the task of all of us to be able to give a reason why we are Christian and how it makes a difference.

But let us not despair; let us not pass the buck; let us face the challenge with fortitude and confidence in Christ and the Holy Spirit He sent into His Church!

I want to recommend to you wholeheartedly The School of the Annunciation, based here at Buckfast Abbey in Devon. Here you will find a truly faithful Catholic school of the New Evangelisation. Here are staff who have an ardour for the faith, and who also have years of experience providing courses to form adults in the life-giving and joyful faith of Jesus Christ. I can say with personal experience that you will find nothing else like it anywhere else in the UK.

One of the great aspects of the school's work is that they specialise in distance-learning. With a combination of short residentials and distance-learning, the growing disciple can benefit from the best of both contexts for learning. At residentials one can build friendships with others growing in their discipleship. With the distance-learning techniques, study is integrated with the rest of our lives.

Please look below at the courses on offer. Pray to our Lord asking for guidance. And be bold! Do not hesitate to make a leap of faith.

Remember St Peter's words:
Always be prepared to make a defence to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behaviour in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be God's will, than for doing wrong.         1 Peter 3:15b-17
Fr Ian

More details here.

Ascension of the Lord - Solemn Pontifical Mass in Ordinariate Use - Cardinal Nichols to preach

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Development of the Shrine at Walsingham

The new Rector of the national Shrine to Our Lady at Walsingham, Mgr Armitage, has shared some of the ideas for developing the Catholic Shrine over the next three years. It looks very exciting and very positive. Let us all lend our prayers and other support that we can offer. May Our Lady of Walsingham bless these efforts and by her Holy Intercession may our nation return to England's Nazareth.

Fr Ian

Here are some of the plans with Mgr Armitage's open letter below them:

Dear Friends,
I’m very happy to be able to share with you some of the ideas that are developing for Our Lady’s Shrine at Walsingham. In this moment of great promise, Walsingham looks to see how it can continue this great pilgrim story and serve the Church in this country, in support of the New Evangelisation.
The calling by Pope Francis of a Holy Year of Mercy will be central to the ministry of the Shrine in the coming year. “A Door of Mercy will be opened for the duration of the Holy Year at any Shrine frequented by large groups of pilgrims, since visits to these holy sites are so often grace-filled moments, as people discover a path to conversion and an extraordinary moment of grace and spiritual renewal.” (Misericordiae Vultus - BULL OF INDICTION OF THE EXTRAORDINARY JUBILEE OF MERCY FRANCIS - BISHOP OF ROME)
Please keep us in your prayers and do whatever you can to publicise this new chapter in the story of England’s Ancient Shrine to the Mother of God. In future posts we will be looking at ways you can support the development of the Shrine and celebrate the Holy Year here at Walsingham. May the Mother of God watch over and protect you and your families.
Mgr John Armitage

Friday, 24 April 2015

Social justice - equality and difference

All human beings are created by God in His image, and all are equally endowed with rational souls, have the same nature and the same origin. So from a Christian point of view, every human being, from the moment of conception unto death has equal dignity which is an intrinsic characteristic - nothing can take this dignity away. So it does not matter what moral status they have, it does not matter what sin they have committed, that person still has intrinsic dignity. This is the foundation for the catholic understanding of equality. It is not first about rights (which can be redefined by human courts) but about how we have been made by our creator. Furthermore Christ sacrificed Himself on the cross to redeem all men, so that all are called to participate in the same divine beatitude. Therefore all human beings enjoy equal dignity.

The problem in a secular world, which does not accept a creator God, is that the definition of what it is to be human can be changed. So it has become acceptable in most western nations for pre-born human beings to be terminated, if the mother wishes this to happen. The humanity of the pre-born child is now regarded to be a matter for a mother to decide, rather than it having, as it does for Catholics, an intrinsic dignity and status. What has also happened in western societies is that the definition of what it is to be human has been added to. So, for example, a prevailing desire of same-sex attraction in a person is regarded as an orientation now, which is regarded as intrinsic. This concept of intrinsic orientation opposes the Judeo-Christian understanding of the unity of soul and body; that the nature of our bodies united with our souls defines our sex, and the 'orientation' that God therefore intends. Redefining intrinsic human characteristics is the ultimate statement of arrogance by a state, and a very definite anti-Christian move.

Discrimination: Flowing from the equal dignity of all, are rights possessed by all. Each person has a right not to be discriminated socially or culturally on the grounds of sex, race, colour, social condition, language or religion. All these forms of discrimination are contrary to God’s design.

The Church calls us to celebrate God-given difference. Man has been made so that he is not equipped with everything he needs for his development in body or spirit. He needs others. This is perhaps expressed most clearly between men and women. They are different but called to live in harmony which is possible by charity. The Sacrament of Marriage is a sign that God calls men and women to not look on each other to see how they can use each other, but rather how they can give themselves sacrificially to each other. This pursuit of harmony through self-giving sees the Holy Trinity as the goal and beatitude of human life, for there is, amongst the divine Persons, both profound equality and profound difference.

In human society there are also differences that appear tied to age, physical abilities, intellectual or moral aptitudes, social status, or material wealth. Life in human community is not about competition, but seeing that differences belong to God’s plan. These differences encourage and oblige generosity, kindness and the sharing of goods; ultimately God is inviting us to sacrificial self-giving.

Sinful inequalities: Excessive economic and social disparity between individuals and peoples is a scandal and is sinful. Such disparity militates against social justice, equity, human dignity, as well as social and international peace.


The principle of solidarity, also articulated in terms of “friendship” or “social charity” is a direct demand of human Christian brotherhood. Solidarity is manifested in the first place by the distribution of goods and remuneration for work.

The virtue of solidarity goes beyond material goods. In spreading the spiritual goods of the faith, the Church promotes, and often opens new paths for, the development of temporal goods as well. In other words mission and development happily go hand in hand.

Seek ye first the Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.  Mt 6:33

This is the last of my blogposts on Catholic teaching on human community. I hope you have found it enlightening and helpful, not least in discerning whom to vote for in the forthcoming elections.

Fr Ian

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Social justice - respect for the human person

What is at stake is the dignity of the human person, whose defence and promotion have been entrusted to us by the Creator, and to whom the men and women at every moment of history are strictly and responsibly in debt. St Pope John Paul ii  CCC 1929

Social justice can only be obtained through respecting the “transcendent dignity of man”. The purpose and ultimate end of society is in the person. The extent to which the dignity of man is not respected is the extent to which society is failing and unjust.

From the dignity intrinsic to the human person flows his rights which similarly must be respected. These rights have priority over society, and are the basis of moral legitimacy of every authority. So by flouting these things, or refusing to recognise them, society undermines its own moral legitimacy. Without this respect authority must rely on force or violence to obtain obedience.

The Church must remind men of good will, of the dignity of man and the rights that flow from this dignity. And means not shrinking back when it becomes unpopular to do so.

Respect for persons is found in the principle that everyone should look upon his neighbour (without exception) as ‘another self’.

Fear, prejudice, prideful attitudes, and selfishness all obstruct the making of true fraternal societies. However there cannot be legislation against them.

As you did it for one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.  Mt 25:30

There is a duty to making oneself a neighbour to others, actively serving them, but this is much more urgent for those disadvantaged in whatever way that might be.  This extends to those who think or act differently from ourselves. This extends even further to those who are hostile to us, who might be described as our enemies. The Commandment of Love extends to enemies as well. We may hate the evil done but not the person perpetrating that evil.

Fr Ian

Next blog - equality and difference

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

The Black Hermits need help

When I left the Church of England and sought to enter the Catholic Church within the newly erected Ordinariate, it was clear to my wife and I that it would be an act of faith. This we believed was God's will. And to be honest it has been a continual act of faith ever since. One of the wonderful things that happened though was that many people wrote to us to show their support from all over the country, and some very kindly offered donations to help us get by as we made the change from vicarage to presbytery. One of the generous donations we received came from a small group of hermits called the Black Hermits. I had never heard of them, but they evidently had heard of me and my family!

Br Damon

Now the Black Hermits need help. They have got into trouble by promoting the faith and particularly the moral law. Because of this they have fallen out of favour with their bishop who is now evicting them from the presbytery they have been living in. So they need help. As they put it in their own words, it would take a brave bishop to take them on now! These hermits will not compromise on their faith nor on the truth, and they are really concerned about their neighbour's salvation. These are unusual qualities in these secular times.

Why is it such a problem for people to express their opinions today? In this case, if the two witches who filed for harassment decided to leaflet everybody about how good it is to be witches and lesbian etc, there wouldn't be anything like the same reaction.

Oh I am really hoping someone can find them a home, where they can both live their eremitic and semi-eremitic lives and also bear courageous witness to the truth, at a time when so, so many fall away in fear. I would love to give them space in my presbytery but I already have twelve living here!

I will be praying and offering masses for these good and faithful prayer warriors, please join me in supporting them this way. And please could someone courageous who has some land find them some space.

Their website:    http://www.trumpeteer.co.uk/

Fr Ian

Bishop of Lancaster celebrates Church's diversity of rites

The Bishop of Lancaster has created another parish for the Syro-Malabar rite of the Catholic Church. What a wonderful sign of the legitimate diversity found within the Catholic Church! This diversity does not threaten diocesan life but enhances it. It would be wonderful if dioceses through England thought creatively along these lines, instead of a mentality one so often encounters, that of managing a decline. The sort of thinking one so often finds includes such questions: how can we minimise the number of church buildings we have so it doesn't cost us too much? How can we minimise the number of masses we offer so it is easy to manage? How can we centralise everything so the priests' job is easier? etc. The signal this gives to society in which we live is that the Church is fading away and society doesn't need to take any notice of it. Whereas there is great diversity in worldwide Catholicism, which is rich and growing. And even in this country initiatives like the Ordinariate show that there can be diversity within the one communion of the Church, and that this diversity has the potential to bring new life into the Church.

Fr Ian

Article regarding the Bishop of Lancaster's creation of another Syro-Malabar rite personal parish.

The Common Good

Do not live entirely isolated, having retreated into yourselves, as if you were already justified, but gather instead to seek the common good together.   Epistle of Barnabus, 4.10
The common good is “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily.” CCC 1906
Christianity is a social religion. Christ commands His disciples to not only love God but also love their neighbour, and these two commands are inextricably united. Furthermore we believe that every human being is made in the image of God who is Trinity, a perfect communion of divine Persons, and that in the division of sexes and the diversity of humankind we are called to seek that perfect communion which the Holy Trinity enjoy eternally.

So we call the "common good" the conditions which foster and promote the good of people, as groups and individuals; meaning that they reach their fulfilment that God wills for them. The common good concerns the life of all and calls for prudence from each person, including those vested with authority.

The common good consists of 3 elements:

  1. Respect for persons: this is a presupposition for the common good. So authorities are bound to respect these fundamental and inalienable rights of the human person. Each person should be permitted to fulfil their calling. It includes right to act according to a sound norm of conscience, to safeguard privacy, and rightful freedom in matters of religion.
  2. Social well-being and development of the group: development is a core social duty. Authorities should make accessible to each, that which is needed for a truly human life: food, clothing, health, work, education, and culture, suitable information, the right to establish family etc.
  3. Peace: the stability and security of a just order is a basic requirement of the common good. Only morally acceptable means may be used to ensure the security of the state and its members. This is the basis of the right to legitimate personal and collective defence.

It is the role of the state to defend and promote the common good of civil society, its citizens and intermediate bodies.

International common good: increased human interdependence spreading throughout the world implies an international common good - a unity of the human family.

Avoiding distortions and injustice: The common good is always ordered to persons and not things. Things must always be sub-ordinate to persons. The ordering of the common good is founded on truth, built up in justice, and animated by love.

Participation: It is necessary that each voluntarily and with generosity engage in social interchange according to one’s position and role in promoting the common good. This obligation is inherent in the dignity of the human person. One must assume personal responsibility, take an active part in public life, the call to the conversion of social partners, and promote education and culture.

Fr Ian

Note: The Epistle of Barnabus, was most likely written c.AD 130 (and not by St Barnabus). The text gives us no clue to who wrote it. It was included as extra-Biblical material in an early codex. It is quoted by other Fathers of the Church including St Clement of Alexandria and Origen. It is regarded as one of the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. 

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Participation in Social Life - Authority

St Clement of Rome, Pope, Theologian, Martyr
In discussing the issue of authority in social life let us begin with a prayer. This prayer was written by one of the very early successors of St Peter, and the first one we know anything about. He is called Pope St Clement I (called Clemens Romanus to distinguish him from the Alexandrian) and he is the first of the "Apostolic Fathers". His feast is celebrated on 23 November. He has left one genuine writing, a letter to the Church of Corinth, and many others have been attributed to him. He provides the Church’s most ancient prayer for political authorities:

Grant to them, Lord, health, peace, concord, and stability, so that they may exercise without offence the sovereignty that you have given them. Master, heavenly King of the ages, you give glory, honour, and power over the things of earth to the sons of men.   Direct, Lord, their counsel, following what is pleasing and acceptable in your sight, so that by exercising with devotion and in peace and gentleness the power that you have given to them, they may find favour with you.  St Clement of Rome, Letter to the Corinthians, 61.

Those who exercise authority in social life need our prayer so that they exercise their authority "without offence". It also reminds us that the authority exercised by human beings is an authority which is possessed by our sovereign Lord and is given to human beings to exercise according to their gifts and capacities. For all in authority this is worth constantly remembering, in order that they remain humble.

St Pope John XXIII said, in his encyclical Pacem in Terra,

Human society can be neither well-ordered nor prosperous unless it has some people invested with legitimate authority to preserve its institutions and to devote themselves as far as is necessary to work and care for the good of all. (Para 46)

It is the church's teaching that every human society needs an authority to govern it. This is founded on the nature of human beings. Such authority is necessary for unity of the state, and its role is to ensure as far as possible the common good of the society. Christians must therefore be subject to such authorities.

These quotations from Holy Scripture make it clear:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgement.  Romans 13: 1-2

Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing right you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the emperor.  1 Peter 2 : 13-17

The authority required by the moral order derives from God. The duty of obedience requires all to give due honour to authority. Those charged with exercising authority are to be given respect, and as far as it is deserved, gratitude and good-will.

Diversity in political regimes is morally acceptable, provided they serve the legitimate good of the communities that accept them. So regimes whose nature is contrary to natural law, to the public order, and to the fundamental rights of persons cannot achieve the common good of the nations on which they have been imposed.

Finally, here are examples of when authority goes wrong:

Despotism: This is a distortion of authority. Authority doesn’t derive its moral legitimacy from itself. It must act for the common good. Its moral legitimacy should be based on freedom and a sense of responsibility. A despot misuses authority for his own gain and for his own reasons. He forgets about the rights of subjects/citizens for whom in reality all authority is given.

Unjust law: It is a misuse of authority by a legislature to pass unjust laws. St Thomas Aquinas recognised the possibility of unjust human law to the extent it does not accord with right reason, and thus does not derive from divine law. This type of law is a kind of violence to social life.

Illegitimate authority: authority is legitimate only when it seeks the common good of the group concerned and if it uses morally licit means to attain it. Unjust laws or actions by authorities that promote that which is contrary to the moral order are not binding in conscience. This break down in authority results in abuse.

The next blog will be on "The Common Good".

Fr Ian

Monday, 20 April 2015

Conversion and society

Society is not just desirable but essential to the fulfilment of the human vocation. But in order for this human vocation to be fulfilled, respect must be accorded to what the church calls “the just hierarchy of values”. In this hierarchy of values physical/instinctive dimensions are subordinated to interior/spiritual ones. Or in other words we must not muddle the true goals and aims of human life with the things that are needed to achieve them. The most obvious example is when people are treated as objects to achieve another goal. This is what Bl Pope John XXIII said,
Human society must primarily be considered something pertaining to the spiritual. Through it, in the bright light of truth, men should share their knowledge, be able to exercise their rights and fulfil their obligations, be inspired to seek spiritual values; mutually derive genuine pleasure from the beautiful, of whatever order it be; always be readily disposed to pass on to others the best of their own cultural heritage; and eagerly strive to make their own the spiritual achievements of others. These benefits not only influence, but at the same time give aim and scope to all that has bearing on cultural expressions, economic, and social institutions, political movements and forms, laws, and all other structures by which society is outwardly established and constantly developed.     Pacem in Terris, 36 (Peace on Earth)
Problems arise when means and ends are inverted. Giving the value of ultimate end to what is only a means for attaining it results in unjust structures. For example, consider money and people in a society: in a just society money can be a means to achieve the good for people, whereas when money becomes the end and people become the means, unjust businesses will use people to achieve the goal of wealth creation. Even worse is when persons are viewed merely as means to an end. So for example when women's bodies are seen as means to gratifying one's desires, their bodies are objectified and not seen as the outward form of a person; the person has been reduced to a means from being an end. In a society with such inversions it becomes difficult and almost impossible for Christian conduct to keep with the Commandments of the divine Law-giver. We see this inversion in secular societies most clearly. In a secular society, human beings are not necessarily seen as being intrinsically good (because that is derived from divine revelation), it is more common to see human beings for the use they have (we can say that the secular society becomes utilitarian).

One of the most important things for a Christian to do, in such inverted societies, is not to separate inner conversion from finding the appropriate remedies to institutions and living conditions when they induce persons to sin. There is a permanent need for inner conversion but this should motivate one to obtain social change that will really serve. The conversion of the heart will lead one to desire social change for the betterment of all.

Without the help of grace men may lack the discernment to know the way between two opposite but disastrous paths: (1) the cowardice which gives in to evil, and on the other side, (2) the violence which under the illusion of fighting evil only makes it worse. The way between, which may often be narrow, is the way of charity, or we may say, love of God and love of neighbour. So Charity is the greatest social commandment for it respects the dignity of all and respects their rights. Charity requires the practice of justice, and it alone makes us capable of it. Charity inspires a life of self-giving.
Jesus said, “Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it.” Lk 17:33
Fr Ian

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Homily Easter 3B - God's mercy

Homily given at both the University Mass at Christ the King (this recording), and then given again at the Ordinariate's Mass at Buckfast Abbey.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

The primary importance of Family and State

There are particular societies that correspond more directly to the nature of man principally the family and the state. Both these principal societies are essential to man’s well-being.

The promotion of voluntary associations and institutions are to be encouraged in order encourage the maximum amount of participation by all people. These can be on a national or international scale. The associations are instrumental in developing the qualities of the person, not least initiative, responsibility and the guarantee of rights.

However there are also dangers. Excessive interference and intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative. So the Church teaches the principle of subsidiarity:

…a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co-ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.  CA 48.4

Leaders of societies: the way God acts in governing the world should be the principle by which all governing by human authorities should be based: God does not reserve to Himself the exercise of all power. God entrusts to every creature its own powers that are proper to it. And so it is that human authorities should delegate power to those competent and gifted to exercise it. Thus human authorities and leaders should be ministers of divine providence.

This principle of subsidiarity is opposed to all forms of collectivism. There are to be limits to state intervention. It should aim at harmony between individuals and societies, and tend toward order and peace.

Fr Ian

Friday, 17 April 2015

The human person must be the principle, subject and end of all social institutions

Any human society is a group of persons bound together by a principle of unity that goes beyond any individual member. A society is at once both spiritual and visible. It endures through time: it has a history and traditions, and it prepares for the future. One rightly owes loyalty to the communities of which we are a part and respect those in authority who have charge over the common good.

Of course each community has its own purposes and thus its own rules, but the Church teaches that the human person ought to be the principle, the subject and the end of all social institutions. 

So, for example, money should not be the subject of society nor its end. If we hear a politician suggest that wealth creation is the goal of public policy then we should hesitate supporting them. Wealth creation isn’t bad per se, as long as it is a means only to the good of human persons. 

We should also be careful about supporting politicians whose policies seem to suggest that the state is more important than the human person (extreme socialism or communism is a form of this). And a further danger can be seen in promoting an ideology above the good of persons (e.g. some environmentalists promote population strategies which are at the expense of human persons).

So the principle of all human community is the human person, and its subject and its end.

Fr Ian

DAY NINE (Eve of Pentecost)