Friday, 30 December 2016

Virgin-born we bow before thee

On Sunday, at the 3pm Mass in the Ordinariate's rite at Buckfast Abbey, we shall sing this beautiful hymn. It was written originally for the feast of the Presentation, but seems very suitable for the Solemnity and Octave Day, this Sunday.

Virgin-born, we bow before thee:
blessed was the womb that bore thee;
Mary, Mother meek and mild,
blessed was she in her Child.
Blessed was the breast that fed thee;
blessed was the hand that led thee;
blessed was the parent's eye
that watched thy slumbering infancy.

Blessed she by all creation,
who brought forth the world's salvation,
and blessed they, for ever blest,
who love thee most and serve thee best.
Virgin-born, we bow before thee;
blessed was the womb that bore thee;
Mary, Mother meek and mild,
blessed was she in her Child.

by Reginald Heber (Anglican Bishop of Calcutta, d.1826)

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

When popes are fallible and when infallible

The Catholic philosopher, Edward Feser, has, I think, written an excellent blog on the current controversy in the Church regarding Amoris Laetita and the dubia publicly submitted to the Successor of Peter, our Holy Father.

The piece is long, but it is really well worth reading. From my own limited brain capacity this seems to present a very logical and respectful case and explains the background very well. He goes in to the history of errors promoted by popes (giving the examples of three) and how this does not contradict papal infallibility. He gives some very clear analysis but without being disrespectful to our Pope. He makes a case for the dubia being made public, and he suggests what are the possible ways forward (he gives three basic possibilities).

It is a long piece but it is the best I have read and its tone I think is also very good. I commend it to you.

Fr Ian

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Advent thought for O Sapientia day

Matthew 1:1-17

When I was a country Rector in the Church of England I would receive from time to time requests for information from our parish registers. Serving traditional country parishes, the parishes were reluctant to part with their ancient registers into the central diocesan archive, so it was not uncommon for me to receive a request for a register search. Although they didn’t always arrive at convenient moments, in a way I quite enjoyed dusting off the old registers and peering through their crisp pages. I was often struck by the beautiful handwriting of all entries before the 1950’s and how the hand-writing went downhill from there! But I was also struck how in the 19th and 18th century so many entries contained signatures consisting of an X and alongside the Rector’s annotation “the mark of…” For some people the researching of their genealogy is very important to them.

Clearly for Matthew the genealogy of Jesus Christ is very important. Today we hear the long list of names read out at mass (Matt 1:1-17). We might think it a little boring. We might think there is nothing of inspiration in today’s gospel. But we need to ask ourselves, “Why?” None of us would miss these 17 verses if Matthew hadn’t included them. Well the point is that although we might not, Matthew’s original hearers/readers did appreciate it. Matthew is establishing Jesus’ kingly messianic credentials as he effectively states in verse 1: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” He is establishing that Jesus is in fact of the line of Abraham and of the line of King David.  God promised long before that “kings” would stem from Abraham’s line (Gen 17:6) and later promised, in a covenant oath, that David would always have a dynastic heir (2 Sam 7:16; Ps 89:3-4).

Matthew establishes for us Jesus’ earthly credentials while not undermining His divinity. Jesus is of course not the biological son of Joseph, but Joseph does accept Jesus into his family lineage. Matthew reminds us of this at the end when he says, “and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.” Despite the long list of “the father of”, now at the end Matthew is preparing to reveal that Jesus was miraculously born of the Virgin Mary, without the contribution of an earthly father, but instead the Holy Spirit.

One final comment on this genealogy is to say that the gospel here is ensuring we understand that Jesus is human as well as divine. It doesn’t use that sort of language, but by establishing Jesus human ancestry we can be in no doubt that His divinity did not exclude His human nature received from Mary. This is the wonder of the Incarnation, which in this last week before the great and solemn feast, we contemplate. God’s plan for the salvation of mankind was worked out through the lives of real human beings. This is not just for the past, but even now God has a part for us to play, in His great plan.

Fr Ian

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Advent thought: live out what you promise

The sons represent two groups of people. In the context of the gospel they are sinners who repent, and Israel’s leaders who refuse the Baptist’s message (even when tax-collectors and harlots do!).

So the son that initially says “no” to his father, but later thinks better and actually does what the father wants him to do, are the sinners who repent. The other son who initially says “yes” to his father, but does not actually do what his father wants, are the chief priests and elders. They talk a good game, but they do not actually live it out.

All of us for whom our faith is very important need to be reminded of this teaching of Jesus. It is easy to say “yes” and not follow through, especially if we get caught up in a sentiment towards God. Then we might promise all sorts of things; whereas sentiments do not last, our promises to God do. 

Following through on our promises is hard work and we do not usually have the motivation of warm feelings all the time, yet it is of utmost importance lest we find that we actually deserve the title hypocrite!

Fr Ian

Monday, 12 December 2016

Advent thought: spiritual blindness

Matthew 21:23-27

Christ came to teach but not engage in a battle of wills. That is why when (as in today’s gospel) the chief priests and elders quizzed Him with evil intent, He replied not with an answer but a question. He was not however playing a political game.

Our Lord would answer sincere questions but those who asked with cynicism or with evil intent (like entrapment) He would answer with a question they could not answer. This ‘question they could not answer’ would reveal their evil intent and that they were not genuinely seeking the truth. The problem for these chief priests and elders was that they were spiritually blind. And as with physical blindness there is no point in showing the blind man light because he cannot see it.

Perhaps we might say, surely the Lord wanted them to be saved, wanted them to benefit from the light? Indeed it is so. God ‘desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth’ (1 Tim 2:4). However spiritual blindness arises from the human will. In our choice to sin we choose darkness, and unless we choose to repent, to turn away from darkness and seek the light, our hearts prevent us recognising the truth, even if it is proclaimed by the Person of God the Son!

Not every part of the Gospel is comfortable or easy to accept. Indeed men may prefer the darkness to the light (see John 1 and 1 John 1). The choice of rejecting the Gospel, shows our spiritual blindness, because we reject the source of the Gospel, we reject God. This was the problem of the chief priests and elders and until they repented they could not have the light.

The Christian is called to dialogue with the world but we can only go so far until people are willing to leave the darkness and seek the light. That is why prayer is so important in this missionary task. Let us remember in this Advent season that one of our greatest callings is to pray for the spiritually blind that through repentance they may come to the spiritual light, even Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Fr Ian

Friday, 9 December 2016

Advent thought: Excuses

There are always excuses to not do what we know we ought to do; not least when we hear the still small voice of God and refuse to respond to His invitation. In the Gospel reading for today (Matthew 11:16-19) Jesus exposes such excuses. He uses a song of children:

We piped to you, and you did not dance; 
we wailed, and you did not mourn.

The piping refers to a wedding, of dancing and music, which is alluding to Christ’s own ministry. The wailing refers to a funeral where there is public mourning and wailing, which is alluding to St John the Baptist’s ministry.

Jesus’ contemporaries refused to heed the call of John to repent of their sins, to mourn because of their disobedience, self-centredness and waywardness. They also refused to respond to Jesus’ call to celebrate the presence of the Bridegroom, the Messiah, and to learn how to love God and their neighbour. They refuse invitations to embrace the Kingdom of God.

How often do we make excuses to not respond to God’s call? How often do we tell ourselves, I haven’t sinned that badly, I don’t need to pay much attention to my sins and find ways of dealing with them? How often do we fail to love God with our whole heart, mind and strength? How often do we give God our second best, or third best – “oh that’ll do”? How often do we look on our neighbour as someone who gets in the way, or someone to be used, or someone to ignore? How often do we make such excuses and just carry on in our own way?

Fr Ian

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Immaculate Conception - 'full of grace'

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary

“Hail full of grace”, is a unique greeting for nowhere else in Holy Scripture does an Angel address someone by a title rather than a personal name. What is the significance of this?

First of course it draws our attention to the uniqueness of Our Lady. She is favoured above all other women and all men except her son.

Secondly, the title “full of grace” does not express the depth of St Luke’s phrase in Greek. He could have used the same phrase he uses for Stephen in Acts 6:8 (“And Stephen, full of grace and power…”) but Luke used in Greek a different word (kecharitomene), in English it too is traditionally translated as ‘full of grace’. But the word Luke used for Our Lady reveals that not only was she full of grace in that moment (as Stephen was), but that God had previously filled her with grace. She has been and is now filled with divine life. That is the depth of meaning of the Greek word used by St Luke here.

God had provided Mary with an abundance of grace to prepare her to be the Mother of God. So we can see that Gabriel’s annunciation points us towards the Immaculate Conception. For in the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary we are taught that Mary was preserved from Original Sin and therefore was made to be like our ancient mother, Eve.

To understand the significance of this we must understand that Mary is the New Eve, the New “mother of all”. By Eve’s fall, and by Adam’s fall, sin entered the world, and through sin, death. So that all the children of Eve would inherit this fallen condition, this disharmony with God and His creation, and this inclination to sin that we call concupiscence. Mary alone, by the grace of Christ, was preserved from Original Sin and in the same state as the first Eve, so that she could become the “Ark of the New Covenant” the one woman capable of being the Mother of Christ the Son of God. The humanity provided by our Lady for Christ’s human nature was unstained by sin. How could it be otherwise? God could not become incarnate with a sinful human nature – it would be a contradiction. So Mary is the only woman able to be Mother of God.

However Mary still had a choice. Her free will had not been taken away. Yes she had been preserved from Original Sin by grace, but she still could sin just as Eve was able to sin. So in the annunciation the incarnation of God that would save humankind hangs upon the words of this young Jewish girl, Mary full of grace. Mary’s gives her consent. Mary’s fiat, her ‘yes’ crushed the Serpent who had obtained a ‘no’ from the first Eve. Mary’s Son would go on to comprehensively defeat the Serpent on the tree of the Cross. The first Adam had brought sin and death to the world by his cooperation in the Original Sin; the Second Adam would bring life and grace into the world through the New Eve’s full cooperation with grace, so that we too can be filled with grace and sin and death can be defeated in us.

So let us praise God for Our Lady full of grace, greatest of all creatures, and that we too might allow grace to fill our lives and give our ‘yes’ to God in all that we do and say. Amen.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Advent thought: finding rest for our souls

Isaiah 40:25-31    Mt 11:28-30

In this chapter of Isaiah (40) there is a lengthy series of questions – rhetorical ones: “Have you not known? Have you not heard? …” And then these questions are followed by statements that remind the hearer that God is intimately involved in creation – not only the order and design of creation but its ongoing existence.

We are reminded that God's creation did not spring forth from His hands, but that the universe was created by God in a state of journeying (in statu viae). The creation is journeying toward an ultimate perfection yet to be attained, to which God has destined it. We call this ‘divine providence’. This isn’t to say that our lives are already determined – we don’t believe in fate in that way – but that God is actively working His purposes out. The question is therefore, are we aligning ourselves to His purposes, or going against them?

Our Lord asks us for childlike abandonment to the providence of our heavenly Father. For the Father, takes care of His children’s smallest needs, and the divine compassion is opened to all who abandon themselves to the Lord, who indeed take His yoke and learn from Him. There indeed we find rest for our souls.
Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’ (RSVCE)

Fr Ian

See CCC 302-305

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Advent thought: Lost

Our Lord is often referred to as a shepherd. This particular parable alludes to the messianic prophecy of Ezekiel (34:11-31) in which God Himself would come down and shepherd His people, seeking them out and rescuing them:

Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when some of his sheep have been scattered abroad, so will I seek out my sheep; and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered…

The parable is understood allegorically by St Anselm and St Hilary of Poitiers (both Fathers of the Church). The lost sheep represent mankind who had strayed through sin. The 99 sheep on the hills are the angels of God in heaven. In the Incarnation, God the Son descended ‘from the hills’ (i.e. from heaven) to seek the lost souls of men and to rescue them through His death and resurrection. And so Christ restores men to grace and leads them back to the company of angels in heaven (see Heb 12:22).

This shepherding of lost souls to safe pastures continues in the Church, for Christ continues to operate through the Church, His mystical Body. As the parable reminds us, “it is not the will of my Father who is heaven that one of these little ones should perish (v.14)”. So too in the Church, we must never cease to reach out to the lost, and be ready to shepherd them and provide them with the grace won by Christ in our redemption. As we await our coming Saviour, we have been given the gift of time in order that the lost may be found.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Advent thought: What is in a name?

Sometimes we become so familiar with a word that we use it without thinking about what it means. We refer to our Lord and Saviour as Jesus Christ. We know Jesus was the name given by the Angel, and many will know that it means ‘God saves’, but what about Christ. When asked about this in catechesis many will simply suggest it is our Lord’s surname!

‘Christ’ actually is not a surname but who He is. The name remarkably infers the Trinity. Let me explain. ‘Christ’ literally means ‘anointed’ (and this is sometimes translated as ‘messiah’). It infers the Trinity because quite simply the ‘anointed’ requires both an ‘anointer’ and an ‘ointment’! And this is particularly made manifest to us at the river Jordan when St John the Baptist baptises our Lord. Through the Gospel we hear the Anointer and see the Ointment. The Anointer is God the Father saying “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased.” And the ‘ointment’ isn’t a thing but a divine Person, the Holy Spirit, whom descends as a dove. ‘Christ’ is a Trinitarian name.

Many Jews, and even some Gentiles, recognised in Jesus the fundamental attributes of being the Messiah, the Christ, and so they gave Him the messianic title “Son of David” – as they do in today’s Gospel reading (Matthew 9:27-31): “Have mercy on us, Son of David.”

Yet our Lord is also reticent that this title be used too much – “See that no one knows”. The Jews of His time used the title in an overly political way; they wanted an earthly king to lead an earthly army against the Romans. The Incarnation was not for a mission of earthly politics or warfare. It was the announcement of a supernatural reality: the Kingdom of God, and the spiritual solution to all human evil; a solution found not in armed struggle but through the Crucifixion.

Christ’s Kingship is truly revealed only when He is raised high on the cross.

What’s in a name? Well a great deal actually, especially the name “Christ”. Let us then treasure this name and when we pray remember the depth of its meaning, and that Christ is our Messiah, our Son of David, under whose Kingship we are called to live.

Fr Ian

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Advent thoughts: Building the house on rock

Matthew 7: 21 - 27

Can this be right? That to even those who know the Lord and have exercised miraculous gifts, the Lord might say, “I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.” Surely something is wrong here in the translation?

The reason our Lord warns us in this way is that we have a tremendous capacity for self-deception. We might think we know the Lord, but we might well have deceived ourselves. So how can we know that we are the Lord’s?

Well we are apt to see miraculous gifts as proof that we are on God’s side. Surely if someone is exorcising demons or doing other might acts in the name of the Lord, that person is on the way to salvation? We might seek signs in the world that suggest that we are going the right way.

In fact that may not be the case, as the Lord warns us. We draw closer to the Lord through grace. According to Catholic teaching there is a distinction made between sanctifying grace and the graces we might call charismatic. Particular charismatic graces are for the building up of the whole Church but are not necessarily signs that we are close to God and truly know Him! Sanctifying grace alone makes us fit for heaven. Sacramental grace is grace proper to each of the Sacraments and sanctifies us. Charismatic gifts are not for our own sanctification, they are for the whole Church in order to build the Church up and to save souls.

Grace is not something we can feel. Grace is of the supernatural order. Because of this, we cannot tell through our feelings whether or not we are growing in grace. So the question then is how do we know we are growing in sanctification?

There is only one sure test. The answer is given by our Lord in the gospel today: “he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Sanctifying grace is manifested through conforming our will to the Father’s will. We conform our will to the Father’s will through knowing our Lord Jesus Christ (in prayer, sacraments, and Holy Scripture) and, most importantly, by obeying Him. This, and only this, will reveal to us that we are growing in sanctifying grace.

So the Lord invites us to build our house on the rock, which is listening to our Lord Jesus Christ and obeying Him.

Fr Ian

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Advent reflection: taken, blessed, broken and given

Mission: We are to be taken, blessed, broken and given

The miracle of the feeding of the four thousand is a miracle of generosity. It is a miracle that also recalls the miracle of the great prophet Elisha (in 2 Kings 4:42-44) when he multiplied 20 barley loaves to feed 100 men, with some left over.

The miracle also prefigures the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. In the account, our Lord takes, gives thanks, breaks and then gives them food (Mt 15v36). This pattern is the pattern of the holy Mass. Through His disciples the multitude, over whom Jesus expresses much compassion, are fed. So He also feeds us with compassion through His disciples today. But he not only feeds us, He also calls us to go out. The Lord has taken us, we give thanks for the Eucharist and are given new life through it, and we then go out into the world.

Going out into the world we come into conflict just as Jesus did. Christ was broken on the cross for our salvation. So we also suffer because we witness to Christ in our lives. Through faith and hope, our suffering is united to His suffering, and because His suffering is redemptive, so our suffering participates in His redemption. By our witness and suffering in the world, others can be given the new life they so desperately need. The pattern of the Eucharist is also the pattern for effective mission.

The superabundant generosity of God is nowhere more manifested than in the Holy Eucharist. For the Eucharist is the superabundance of the Father’s gift of His Son to the world for our salvation.

Fr Ian

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Hiding things from the wise

St Luke has preserved for us one of Jesus explicit prayers to the Father. These prayers of our Lord are a very precious and wondrous thing for us to have.

We notice that our Lord begins with thanksgiving. He thanks the Father for ‘hiding’ the mysteries of the Kingdom from those who think they are ‘wise’ and ‘understanding’. This is not our Lord being anti-intellectual. Our intelligence is God-given and therefore good, but if we suffer with pride our intelligence can get in the way. Pride means we forget God; we make our own human intelligence the superior intelligence. And this blocks our minds from opening to the truths revealed by God.

Our faith is a faith based on divine revelation. It does not contradict our God-given intellectual powers, but if we are proud then we will not be open to divine revelation, because we will not be willing to humble ourselves to accept it. Just as God is willing to condescend to reveal Himself out of His great love for us, so He requires of us to humble ourselves to accept His revelation. We must be like infants. To accept divine revelation does not require us to be super-intellectual and neither do we need to be anti-intellectual, but we do need to humble ourselves.

Our Lord’s exclamation, “Yes Father!”, mirrors the fiat of His mother when at His conception she gave herself to become the Mother of God the Son. It expresses the depth of His sacred heart and prefigures His prayer at Gethsemane, when He gave Himself to His Father’s will.

The whole prayer of our Lord is an expression of the loving adherence of His human heart to the will of His heavenly Father.

So let us this Advent, following the example of Our Lord and His mother, give our hearts to the will of our heavenly Father.

Fr Ian

Monday, 28 November 2016

Advent thoughts - Monday week 1

Monday of first week of Advent

Gospel of the day: Mt 8:5-13  The healing of the centurion’s servant

Our Lord marvelled at the faith of the centurion who said he was unworthy of such a guest as Jesus. What faith indeed this man must have had for Jesus to have marvelled at this Gentile soldier! The centurion was a military commander of one hundred men. According to Luke’s account of this he was responsible for building a synagogue. The witness of the Jewish people had opened this Gentile man’s heart to the truth. And before the Christ he stood before the Holy God of Israel, though he did not know it fully; at least intuitively he knew this man was different.

His words are familiar: “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.” At Mass we say: “Lord I am not worthy that you should come under my roof, but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.”

Our souls, like the centurion’s servant, need to be healed by Christ. We inherit the consequences of Adam’s sin, and while our baptism has absolved us of this original sin, God wills that we should still be subject to its temporal consequences. We still have a tendency to sin. We find the sinful way much easier than the virtuous way. Our souls are not yet fully reconciled to God and thus need healing. Christ alone can heal us.

Christ comes to us as a guest in the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. He condescends to make the bread and wine of the Eucharist His most sacred Body and most precious Blood, that we might welcome Him as a guest and that we might be healed.

How do we approach our Lord Jesus Christ during Mass? Do we approach with the faith of this centurion? Or do we take Him for granted? Do we think it our right to receive the sacrament?

In this season of Advent let us cultivate a sense of the sacred. Try to spend time before a sacred image or a crucifix adoring God and thanking Him for His inestimable gift in the Incarnation and Redemption. Even better try to spend some time before the Blessed Sacrament adoring Christ.

Some more reading here:

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Veneration of St Thomas More's relic

The veneration of the relic (hair shirt) of St Thomas More is now possible whenever Buckfast Abbey is open (almost every day of the year). His hair shirt made out of goat hair, which the saint wore while he waited for his martyrdom, has been placed in a glass case upon an altar of the abbey.

Read more here.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Ethical Sex

"Ethical Sex
- a talk by Dr Anthony McCarthy (the same title as his book) - 
- Christ the King Catholic Church Hall, Plymouth - 2pm - Sunday 27th November -
- the talk follows lunch - Mass at 12noon -

Ethical Sex: Sexual Choices and Their Nature and Meaning. Is sex important? How concerned should we be about our sexual choices and their effects? Is sexual desire best understood in terms of pleasure, love, interpersonal union and/or procreation? In an era of radical redefinition of marriage and rapidly changing views about the nature of sex, Ethical Sex seeks to bring some philosophical clarity to our thinking.

Please join us for this stimulating and informative event.

Friday, 28 October 2016

November: the month for praying for Holy Souls

A cemetery in Plymouth where my grandparents are buried
During the month of November the Church calls on the faithful to pray for the souls in purgatory by various devotional means.

It is during November that the Church meditates on the Communion of Saints. What do we mean by this? This is the charitable link between three parts of the Church: (1) with the faithful who have already reached heaven (Church Triumphant), (2) the faithful departed who are still expiating their sins in Purgatory (Church Suffering) and (3) of the pilgrim faithful here on earth (Church Militant). 
In this wonderful exchange, the holiness of one profits others, well beyond the harm that the sin of one could cause others. Thus recourse to the communion of saints lets the contrite sinner be more promptly and efficaciously purified of the punishments for sin.(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1475).
So presently we are the Church Militant and we have the great gift of being able to receive grace and to grow in piety. One of the pious activities we are called upon is to offer prayer for the souls in purgatory. The Church asks us to do this throughout the year but especially during this month.

Plenary Indulgence for visiting a cemetery and praying for holy souls

Between November 1st and 8th, the Church grants a plenary indulgence from the temporal effects of sin for the souls of the departed in purgatory. This indulgence is granted once per day for a visit to a cemetery (with the intention of gaining an indulgence) at which we pray for the departed. The usual conditions for an indulgence also apply, one must :

  • (1) be in a state of grace;
  • (2) have gone to confession during the 8 days before or after the visit;
  • (3) have received the Sacrament of the Eucharist on the day;
  • (4) have prayed for the Pope's intention (by whose Christ-given authority the indulgence is given);
  • (5) be detached from all sin (including venial sin) - otherwise the indulgence is only partial.

The indulgence is only partial on other days of the year when this is done.

Holy Day of Obligation - ALL SAINTS

The month of November begins with an obligatory feast when the faithful gather to celebrate the Church Triumphant. The importance of us focusing on the ultimate goal of our existence (ie. heaven) cannot be overemphasised. The Church calls on us all to come to Church to receive this special grace. And this is especially important in this materialist age when the reality of the spiritual and unseen is so often regarded with deep skepticism or at times ridicule. 

Masses for the Dead

The highest prayer that can be offered by the Church Militant is of course the Holy Mass. 

In the Scriptures of the Old Testament it is recommended we pray for the dead: 

It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.(2 Macch. 12, 46). 

This duty has found expression not only in public and private prayers but especially in the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the repose of souls. The faithful should ask their priest to offer a mass for holy souls in purgatory.

Other means

While the mass is the highest prayer, we can do other things to relieve the suffering of souls in purgatory: prayer, suffering and penances.

(1) Prayer. We can of course offer rosaries for the departed and also pray the traditional prayer:

Requiem aeternam dona ei (eis), Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei (eis). Requiescat (-ant) in pace Amen.
Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

This prayer has a indulgence applicable to dead attached to it, and can be prayed throughout the year. Some families may pray this prayer at their meal-time prayers.

(2) Suffering. Any suffering we endure can be piously offered to the Lord for the benefit of the souls in purgatory.

(3) Penances. We can voluntarily take on activities which we offer not for our own benefit but for the souls in purgatory.

The month of November is then a great opportunity for the faithful to remember their communion with the Church Suffering and the Church Triumphant. It is part of our communion of charity that we should do these things. And it benefits us too. The more souls that can move from purgatory to heaven the more there are to pray for the rest of us, and we, having prayed for the souls in purgatory, will benefit from their prayers if we should, according to God's judgement, find ourselves in purgatory also.

Fr Ian Hellyer

On Indulgences: The Catechism of the Catholic Church section on Indulgences, Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 2, Article 4, Subsection 10, 1471-1479.
For more information on the Church's teachings on indulgences, read the Enchiridion of Indulgences given by the 1968 Decree of the Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary. 

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Eight new candidates for the priesthood

Monsignori Broadhurst, Burnham and Newton at their ordination

Eight new candidates for the priesthood within the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham began their training at the beginning of October.  They are all former Anglican clergymen and thus undertake a tailored scheme of study under the direction of Dr Stephen Wang, the former Director of Studies at Allen Hall and now Senior Chaplain for Universities in Westminster Diocese, who is Director of Studies for the Ordinariate.  Lectures began with a session on Moral Theology by the Rev'd Dr Dylan James, priest of the Diocese of Plymouth and Tutor at Wonnersh seminary.  If you would like a taste of Fr Dylan's teaching click here for a recording of the introductory lecture. 

These eight men join one other former Anglican priest who is in his second year of training and our two seminarians at Oscott college.  Eleven candidates in training is a clear sign that the Ordinariate has a strong future.

[taken from the Ordinariate weekly email newsletter]

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Vigil Mass of Our Lady of Walsingham

Priests and Laity of the Ordinariate, in the Southwest, 
are celebrating the British Ordinariate's feast of title,
the Solemnity of Our Lady of Walsingham ,
at a vigil Mass on Friday 23rd September, at 7pm.

It will be celebrated at the Ordinariate Church of Our Lady of Walsingham 
and St Cuthbert Mayne in Chelston, Torbay. 

Please come and celebrate her feast with us.

The Mass will be according to Divine Worship - the ordinariate's own liturgy.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Pilgrimage to Walsingham

The Buckfast Mission was well represented at the recent Ordinariate pilgrimage to Walsingham and this year more conspicuous than before due to our splendid new processional banner. Dr Diana had it made for the group and her husband, Paul, carried it for the holy mile. Here we can be seen processing through the gardens of the Anglican shrine making our way towards the holy mile.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

What can we learn from St Boniface to improve our evangelisation? 3 things:

From a homily preached by Fr Ian Hellyer in the parish of Our Lady of the Angels, Saltash (St Boniface is the patron of the Diocese of Plymouth)

St Boniface, a Devon man who hailed from Crediton, was a Benedictine monk, bishop and martyr, but perhaps most of all remembered as one of the most effective missionaries of his time. He is largely responsible for the conversion of Germany to the faith, and today is greatly revered in Germany – many of whom make a pilgrimage to Crediton today.

The story of St Boniface, and especially his missionary exploits, is immensely impressive. There is so much to it I thought I couldn’t possibly do justice to it in the homily! In this diocese today we could do with people with this kind of faith, passion and drive to evangelise the many people who today do not know Christ and His power to save.

So what can we learn from St Boniface as an exemplary missionary to help us become better missionaries ourselves? I want to share 3 things:

  1.  Zeal for souls:  St Boniface had a tremendous zeal for the salvation of souls. He longed for those deceived by false gods, for example the god Thor, to come to know the truth of Jesus Christ our Saviour. He had such drive because he believed that if they did not come to the Truth they would lose their souls. And what is true for him then, is necessary for the evangelist or missionary in our own time, including us here in this parish. If we do not believe that someone’s salvation is on the line unless they receive the grace of Christ, if we don’t believe that, then of course we won’t have much motivation to make any missionary efforts. And I think this is one of our great problems. What has crept in to our mindset today is what is called ‘universalism’. This is the error of thinking that everyone will be saved no matter what they do or believe. The effect of universalism is to remove any motivation to evangelise. We do not see any universalism in St Boniface at all. He knew that salvation was not automatic! To be saved we need a saviour and the only saviour is Jesus Christ, true God and true Man. But we today have gradually accepted a false notion of God’s love that portrays God as such a nice chap that He’ll let anyone through the pearly gates! It is a false notion not least because salvation is not a question of “letting people in”! The way to eternal life is through saying “yes” to Christ and His grace, and “no” to everything that opposes Christ including the Devil. So God is not the one stopping us from entering eternal life – it is in fact the consequence of us freely choosing to go against God. Every sin we commit is a “no” to God. Every refusal of God’s grace is a “no” to God. You see, God is not a despot who forces us to do what He wants, against our will – which is what universalism is actually implying! Universalism justifies its all-inclusive salvation by God’s love, but it totally neglects that human beings are blessed with free will (part of the mystery of being made in God’s image). Love does not force – Love desires and is willing to sacrifice but it does not force. So God does indeed desire that all men be saved. And God became man to sacrifice Himself totally on the cross in order to redeem us. The way to salvation is opened before us, but that does not mean God will violate our free will and force us in! Universalism is an error and is particularly effective in making us non-missionaries. The temptation to be universalist is always there whenever we feel uncomfortable about sharing the gospel! St Boniface was no universalist – yes God loved the pagans in Germany, God desired they come to salvation, but it had to be through their own free will to accept grace and cooperate with it. That is what St Boniface went to share with those people, and he did so with tremendous effect – thanks be to God.
  2. Prayer: to be effective missionaries like St Boniface, we need to deepen our prayer life. That might seem the opposite to what we need to do! Surely being missionary is about going out there and evangelising people, sharing the Good News in appropriate ways to those who will listen? But there is a danger here also. The danger here, if we overcome the error of universalism is that being filled with zeal for the salvation of souls we fall for what might be called ‘activism’. This can be thought of as thinking that it all depends on my actions. This sort of error is thinking that evangelisation occurs through our human effort! We have zeal, we have desire for people to know the grace of Christ, and we press on with ideas we come up with to attract people to the faith. The error here is not that we have a desire for the salvation of souls (that’s good) but that we misdirect it. The error is forgetting that evangelisation can only occur through grace, through God’s initiative; that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to evangelise. So the importance of prayer for a missionary or evangelist is to properly focus everything upon God. We must cultivate through a deepening prayer life dependence upon God. For the mission to evangelise people is not our mission but God’s mission. It is God’s work not ours’! We must pray not only so that we do that which God wants us to do but also that we do not get in the way of what God is doing! Our own ego, our desire for success, our longing to be seen to be effective can all get in the way of the mission of God! A life of prayer focuses us upon God, not only during times of prayer but throughout our whole lives. You see there is a danger also for us to conclude when we read a life of a saint like St Boniface, that his success was because he happened to be one of those people with special gifts. We might conclude that we do not have those gifts so we cannot do the sort of thing St Boniface did. But that is a false conclusion! St Boniface was successful not because of his ordinary human abilities but because of the grace of Christ working through him. And the very fearful truth is that the same grace that filled St Boniface is available to us! It is not a question of him happening to have the right sort of gifts – all necessary gifts for the work of evangelisation come from the Holy Spirit who builds us up in the grace Christ won for us on the cross, flowing from the love of God the Father. All of us are called to be part of the mission of God to save souls, not in our own strength, but in the strength of the grace of Christ in us, that comes from our baptism, our confirmation, our reconciliation to Christ when we repent of sin, and our receiving of Christ’s Body and Blood in a state of grace at the Mass. To be effective evangelists today we do not need people who are great in the eyes of the world, we need people who are humble, who do not think they have much to offer Christ, who are painfully aware of their weakness and failings, but who are willing to offer themselves to Him to be filled with His Life, His grace. We are called if you like to be humble foot soldiers in the battle for the salvation of souls. Christ is our commissioned officer giving us the orders – there are some Saints who are our NCO’s – but all the rest of us are foot soldiers. We have no idea really of how this battle is to be won, but what we need to do is our little bit in the battle. And we will only be like that if we pray, if we cultivate in us a dependence on God.
  3. Faith: And so finally we need to operate by faith. We need to let go of all human ideologies and human strategies for effectiveness, and fall before the wisdom of God which is the folly of the Cross. If you think about it, no human ideology, no human strategy, could have come up with the solution to humankind’s deepest most profound problem: death, sin, and evil. Yes we can easily see we need a mighty saviour to save us from death, sin and evil. But what strategy would we have come up with? We certainly would not have come up with God incarnating (becoming man) and sacrificing Himself on a cross. So we do not need clever ideas! We do not need even to be successful! What we need is faith in Christ crucified. We need faith in God’s strategy for the salvation of souls – the death of Christ on the Cross and His Church of humble foot soldiers. Outwardly the cross was the very opposite of effectiveness! Outwardly the cross was the very opposite of success! But in the wisdom of God it was the folly of the Cross, of the sacrifice of Christ, that redeems us and makes it possible for all men to be saved. So the missionary does not need wonderful human strategies as if he were about to build a business or something. We do not need anything like that. It is God’s business not our’s! What we need is faith – nothing can replace faith. And the good news is that we have been given faith in our baptism. We need to cooperate with that gift already given us. We need to practice living by faith, trusting in God’s strategy and not judging things by human standards.

So my brothers and sisters, let us call on the prayers of our wonderful patron and exemplar St Boniface. Let us ask him to pray for us in our own time that we be renewed in our calling to be missionaries of our Saviour Jesus Christ – that we be filled with a holy zeal for souls and leave aside the error of universalism. Let us ask St Boniface to pray that we deepen our dependence upon God through a deepening of our own prayer lives, so that growing in humility we may not get in God’s way but become disciples that He can use for His mission. And finally let us ask St Boniface, and indeed Our Lady of the Angels, to pray that we grow in the faith given in our baptism, the faith of Jesus Christ crucified and risen.

St Boniface, Principal Patron of the Diocese of Plymouth
First reading                                         Acts 26:19-23 
Psalm 116
Second reading                                     Romans 5:1-5
Gospel Acclamation                              Jn10:14
Alleluia, alleluia!  I am the good shepherd, says the Lord, I know my own sheep and my own know me. Alleluia!
Gospel                                                  John 10:11-16

Friday, 13 May 2016

Pilgrimage to Shrine St Boniface

The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham warmly invites you to:

Saturday 11th June

Pilgrimage to the National Shrine of St Boniface, Crediton

11.30  The Liturgy of Penance (at the Statue of St Boniface)
- priests available to hear confessions

followed by Procession to the Shrine

Holy Mass with the Ordinary Rt Rev Mgr Keith Newton PA

Lunch (bring packed lunch)

14.15 Talk by Dom Boniface Hill OSB

15.00  Benediction

Called to be Catholic
Bathed in the merciful indulgence of the Father

See Google Maps here  The statue is in the park off Union Road. It is behind Crediton Auto Services.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Dangers to true ecumenism

It would be very easy to make His Eminence, Cardinal Müller, seem like a spoil sport and party pooper. Cardinal Müller has said that Catholics have "no reason to celebrate" the beginning of the Reformation. Though initially it might seem that the Cardinal is anti-ecumenical, in fact he is very concerned about the dangers to ecumenism presented by these celebrations.

The prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, has said

We Catholics have no reason to celebrate October 31, 1517, the date that is considered the beginning of the Reformation that would lead to the rupture of Western Christianity.

Those of us in ecumenical chaplaincy teams need to be prepared for this. Those catholic parishes who are actively part of Churches Together also need to be prepared. For the English especially, it will surely seem just ill-mannered to disagree with a celebration in 2017. But in actual fact our ecumenical partners need to realise that it is the other way round! If they assume that Catholics will just join in, then they are being ill-mannered.

Catholics join in with ecumenical movements on the basis that their perspective will be respected. And the Catholic perspective is that we are seeking unity that this visible - that the unity that Christ wills is one visible Church (or you might say one institution). We believe that just as Christ is a unity in His humanity and divinity, so also the Church is a unity of the visible (institution) and invisible (spiritual). For us the Church is Christus Totus; the whole Christ, head and body. There cannot be more than one visible Church because that would be like saying there is more than one Christ. This is the Catholic understanding of what the Church is (one can read more about this in the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium and the document on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio).

Now of course our separated Christian brothers and sisters do not see it that way (and I used to be one of them). The children of the Reformation have tended to regard the Church as predominantly a spiritual entity and that the outward visible institution is really secondary. So the outward visible institution can be altered without any real problems. Some children of the Reformation have bishops, some do not. Some have deacons and priests, some do not. Some have sacraments, some do not.

This means in our ecumenical groups and movements we need to be aware of these differences between one another. We need to respect them and not ignore them.

The celebration of the anniversary of the Reformation next year will be a real test of the ecumenical movement as it has developed. In my mind the question is, is it truly ecumenical or is it essentially a protestant ecumenism that drives it. If Churches Together get behind the Reformation celebrations next year then it would seem to suggest that essentially they have a protestant agenda.

If Catholics were to support the anniversary of the Reformation they will be essentially saying that there can be good reasons to separate oneself from mother Church, that is, to be in schism. For that is what the Reformers did. They did not create new churches, but, from the Catholic perspective, formed church-like communities but communities that were separate from the Church. Most of them retained the sacraments of baptism and holy matrimony, and so there is grace in those communities, but nevertheless we Catholics believe their communion with Christ in the Church is incomplete, and that they are missing out on many gifts of grace that could be theirs.

For Catholics to support the Reformation would be to also promote relativism - that at the end of the day "my truth" and "your truth" are equally valid. This is perhaps the most dangerous aspect of this all. If we embrace relativism we sooner or later reject divine revelation (which of its nature is absolute truth).

We Catholics have to realise that being a "party pooper" next year is not endangering the movement for true ecumenism, but rather a positive contribution to it. In fact it is relativism that is the real danger for the ecumenical movement.

Fr Ian Hellyer
Ordinariate Pastor
Parochial Administrator
University Chaplain

Thanks to The Catholic Herald for reporting the Cardinal's words about this. See here.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Rest in peace, Fr David

Fr David Skeoch, priest of the Ordinariate, died yesterday (10th March). May he rest in the peace of Christ.


Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Palm Sunday until Easter Day

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion
Easter Day
there will be no
Divine Worship Mass
(mass according to the Ordinariate's own rite)
at St Mary's Abbey, Buckfast
usually offered
on Sunday afternoon's at 3pm.
The Sacred Triduum will be kept in the Ordinariate's rite
at Our Lady of Walsingham
& St Cuthbert Mayne Church,
Chelston, Torbay

Chrism Mass 2016

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Rest in peace, Fr Ivor

Father Ivor Morris died in the early hours of March 1st, in the presence of his sister Norma.  After being taken ill in October of last year Fr Morris has remained in hospital, most recently in London where Mgr. Newton was able to visit and pray with him.

Fr Morris served the Anglican church of the Ascension, Chelmsford for twenty years before accepting the Holy Father's invitation and joining the Ordinariate in the first round of ordinations.  He served the Diocese of Brentwood as Priest-in-Charge of the Blessed Sacrament, Chelmsford and as chaplain to Broomfield hospital.

Long time friend and colleague Fr Ed Tomlinson has posted an obituary.

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Fr Morris, for his family and for his people in the parish and the Chelmsford Ordinariate group.

Fr Ian

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Fr James' great photos of the first Ordinariate Cathedral


Fr James Bradley (English Ordinariate priest studying in the US) has visited Houston where Bishop Lopes, recently consecrated, houses his 'cathedra'. This Church is now the first Ordinariate cathedral. Follow this link to his photos:

DAY NINE (Eve of Pentecost)