Tuesday 31 January 2012

Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary

This Thursday is the feast of the
Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

We are celebrating Missa Cantata at 7pm.

Friday 27 January 2012

Gossip Alert

Have you heard what goes on at that Church up the road?

A parishioner told me that while dining with friends from a neighbouring parish Church matters came up and the friends wondered how he managed at St Catherine's when all the Masses were in Latin (unspecified whether it was EF or OF). The parishioner explained that what they had heard on the liberal jungle drums was not quite true and explained what does actually happen here on a Sunday. A look of realisation began to dawn on the face parishioner from the neighbouring parish that what he had been told was perhaps a distorted picture.

So wicked to spread gossip - until one is sure of one's facts!

Not that there would be anything wrong, according to the Church rules presently in place, if all Masses here were in Latin - in either form of the Roman Rite but here is the reality for anyone interested enough to take the time to find out what actually goes on.

The first Mass is Ordinary Form in English - all said.

The second is Ordinary Form with music - mostly in English with sung Latin common parts, along with a hymn or two and sung Entrance Antiphon / Offertory / and Communion Antiphon (these are mostly in Latin, but on occasion now in the new English translation). The Canon of the Mass is, for the most part, in English, although on major Feasts it can be in Latin as well.

The third is in the Extraordinary Form. Usually Low Mass with the readings in English, occasionally a Missa Cantata.

They are all ad orientem.

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Canon Law and Justice

The Holy Father arrives to address
members of the Roman Rota on Saturday

(Photo from L'Osservatore Romano)

Mention Canon Law in many circles of the Church today and you get a wrinkled nose and a turning away of the head that suggests there is a slightly unpleasant odour in the room. The implication is that you are a legalist, uncaring and unpastoral. That Canon Law has no real place in the modern Church and that much of it it is probably in direct opposition to the Gospel teachings of Our Lord. Well, at least that's often been my experience whenever I mention it!

The fact is that Canon Law is there to protect - laity, clergy and bishops. The trouble is that when you want to call upon it you have to go all the way to Rome. Most laity don't know how, most priests wouldn't risk the wrath of their bishop. What the Law says is good but if it's being ignored at a local level it's a very arduous process to appeal to Rome. I suppose it is true that access to the law is as important as the law itself.

However, the Holy Father has some excellent things to say in his annual address to the Roman Rota: "Christian Maturity Leads One to an Ever Greater Love of the Law."

You can read it on Zenit and at Vatican News but here is a précis of some interesting bits.

In recent times some currents of thought have warned against excessive attachment to the Church's laws, regarding it as a manifestation of legalism. Consequently, there have been proposals for approaches that are more in keeping with theological and pastoral intentions, leading to juridical creativity in which the individual situation becomes the decisive factor. It is worth noting immediately that this position does not overcome the positivism that it denounces, limiting itself to replacing the one positivism with another in which the human interpretive work comes to prominence in determining what is lawful. There is a lack of a sense of an objective law to be discovered since it is subjected to considerations that pretend to be theological and pastoral, but that are, in the end, exposed to the danger of arbitrariness. Thus legal hermeneutics is rendered vacuous: it can then be adapted to any situation, even one opposed to the law's letter.

There is another route, one in which the adequate understanding of canon law opens the way to an interpretive effort that inserts itself into the pursuit of the truth about law and justice in the Church. True law is inseparable from justice.

Something occurs that is similar to what I have said about the interior process of St. Augustine in biblical hermeneutics: "transcending the letter made the letter itself credible." Thus we confirm that even in legal hermeneutics the juridical truth can be loved, sought and served and provide an authentic horizon.

The dictum "sentire cum Ecclesiae" (thinking or feeling with the Church) is also relevant to disciplinary matters by reason of the doctrinal foundations that are always present and at work in the Church's legal norms. In this way, there must also be applied to canon law that hermeneutic of renewal in continuity, of which I spoke in reference to Vatican II, which is so closely connected to current canonical legislation. Christian maturity leads one to an ever greater love of the law and a desire that it be faithfully applied.

Monday 23 January 2012

Pope John Paul receiving Holy Communion
from Cardinal Ratzinger.

(Courtesy of the Ratzinger Forum)

Ben Trovato has drawn attention to a petition requesting the Holy Father to consider removing the indult allowing communion in the hand. You can read about it at his blog but I thought I'd mention it here as well, presuming that some, at least, might want to sign it. I don't really suppose it will have much effect but it does point to a change in attitudes and brings those perceptions to the attention of the Holy See.

You can look at the petition details here:

There is also this site (on my sidebar) that gives some information and views on the manner of receiving Holy Communion.

Saturday 21 January 2012

Conversion by Architecture

I came across this interesting piece on Rome Reports.

Etsuro Sotoo was a professor of art at Kyoto University when he decided to travel in Europe. He arrived in Barcelona in 1978, he was so impressed with Gaudí's Sagrada Familia that he dropped everything to follow in the work of Gaudí as a sculptor. Ever since then he continued to learn more and more about the architect. Etsuro came from a cultural and religious traditions very different from that of Europe. As a result he had trouble connecting with the project in a manner faithful to the spirit of Gaudí. When he finally understood his real intention with the Sagrada Familia, it changed his life. Sotoo says that his commitment to architecture was the first step by which Gaudí helped him to rethink his values. After some time he converted to Catholicism. He is currently working on the main sculptures of the Sagrada Familia. A work that changed the course of his life.

I'm a little ambivalent about the architecture of the Sagrada Familia, although it was some years before the Holy Father consecrated the main church in 2010 that I last saw it. Although undeniably new in style it references the tradition of church buildings and its conception came from a mind that created it out of love of God. It is not a building thrown up at the cheapest possible cost but gives something of the best of the human spirit back to the Creator. It was a work of love and devotion for Gaudi and now for those who continue in his tradition.

In recent times we seem to have lost an appreciation of sacred space and architecture as a means of inspiration and evangelisation, with the focus shifting to the community that meets within the space. But this should surely not render the space itself of no interest or reduce it to the merely functional. A family that lives in a house is much more important than the house itself but the fact that the family lives there makes it a home and makes that building important, in its layout, in how we choose to beatify it - it becomes precious because of what we experience within its walls. The same must surely apply to our churches. The fact that we now build and remodel churches that are either purely functional or mimic secular buildings says that we have lost confidence. Lost confidence in the ability of the Faith to speak to others (and to us?) and therefore have lost confidence in the buildings in which we articulate that Faith. That we ignore a consecrated altar carrying within it the relics of some hero of the Faith and offer the Holy Sacrifice on a temporary wooden table is a weird situation to find ourselves in. To use the home analogy again, we ignore a fine dining room and always have a T.V. dinner on a tray.

Let's get back to some fine dining!

Etsuro Sotoo
“I know all the works, all the words, all the models, but I can't take another step. I can't come close to Gaudí. I decided not to look to him. So then where do I look? I tried to look in the way that Gaudí did. I'm a sculptor, I tried to do what he would have done. This was the magnificent and miraculous moment.”

“I invite everyone who wants to understand Gaudí to not pick the wrong door. If you really want to know him, find the the door of spirit and faith.”

“Why do we build the temple of the Sagrada Familia? A simple question: why do we build? We don't seek beauty in vanity of men. No, The Sagrada Familia is a tool for building us. Gaudí left the temple half finished, the temple of the Sagrada Familia perfectly built the man Gaudí.”

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Courageous Fathers

In a time when there are many in the Church lamenting the lack of male adults in our congregations, Zenit has an article on a new film that seems to be moving fathers to re-examine their lives in relation to their families. The focus on a more "touchy-feely" way of being Christian does seem to have put off some men from their Catholic Faith. It's not religion itself (after all Muslim men aren't afraid of being seen at prayer) but something that does at this present time appear to be lacking in our Catholic Faith. Not necessarily a macho element but a masculine way of thinking and doing things. The fullness of the Christian Faith and the teachings of Our Lord are, after all, anything but mamby-pamby!

The film looks very good - a little Americanised, certainly, but I shall look forward to seeing it and anything that promotes "Godly fatherhood" can surely only be a good thing.

The Zenit article follows after the dowloaded trailer and here is a link to the film site with some clips on it:

Dads: Who Will Lead Your Family?
'Courageous' DVD Promotes Godly Fatherhood

By Genevieve Pollock

ALBANY, Georgia. Thousands of men are answering the call to rediscover God's plan for fatherhood, inspired by a new movie, "Courageous".

The film, which debuted in theaters Sept. 30, follows four men striving to fulfill their mission "to serve and protect," both as law enforcement officers and fathers.

Stephen Kendrick, producer and co-writer of the film, told ZENIT that every day he sees some 200 e-mails from "people sharing how the movie has impacted, inspired and blessed them."

"The stories they share are so heartfelt and moving," he said. "Countless dads are now reaching out to win the hearts of their children."

Kendrick continued: "One man realized he needed to step up and reconnect with the daughter he'd abandoned.

"Many have chosen to forgive their dads.

"Wives are saying that 'my husband was a good dad, but now he's becoming a great dad after seeing this movie.'

"Couples heading for divorce have reunited and said that they must resolve to leave a legacy of faithfulness to their children like the men in the movie. We thank God for this!"

Waging war

As policemen, the main characters must team up against gang members and drug dealers to protect the community. Yet even as they battle evil with their guns and Tasers, they learn to use Scripture to fight the demons within in order to become the men of integrity their families need.

"There is so much in Scripture about what fatherhood means, but most men have not taken time to search it out and then live it out," Kendrick stated. "'Courageous' shows it to them in living color."

He continued: "It is so incredible to see how a message about the importance of strong fatherhood is so deeply resonating with audiences.

"The issue of fatherhood touches the core of who we are. Millions of people have seen this movie and have gone on the emotional roller-coaster of laughter and tears as they watch five men trying to figure out what it means to be a great dad."

For actor Ken Bevel, who portrayed the cop Nathan Hayes, the movie was an opportunity to "help serve in turning the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers."

He explained to ZENIT: "As I look at the consistent decline of families and the minimal involvement of fathers in our communities, my heart is challenged -- challenged to the point of action. So, when God provided the opportunity to address biblical fatherhood through film, I was humbled that he would allow me to be used in such a task."

This role, Bevel said, "caused me to examine my own life and my role as a father."

He added: "I asked myself the question, 'Am I being completely intentional about fatherhood and leading my children to the Lord?' Unfortunately the answer was no. So, 'Courageous' has also challenged me to spend more time in Bible study with my family, while praying for wisdom in leading my children to the Lord."

Kendrick expressed the hope for this "life change," not only for all who worked on the movie, but also for all who view it.

The film's release on DVD will allow its viewing by greater audiences. Parishes, ministries and other groups are encouraged to show the movie and utilize the corresponding resources to help effect this life-changing experience.

Tremendous opportunity

One group, the Philadelphia-based Fatherhood and Leadership Initiative, sponsored a showing of the movie that drew the players of two football teams with their fathers, in addition to other families.

Jim Gabriele, one of the group's founders, told ZENIT that "the response was tremendous." People were moved not only by the film, he said, but also by "the underlying message of love of Christ and faith in him as the foundation of a man's most important vocation -- his family."

"This movie clearly brings people together," added Gabriele, "and challenges men in particular to be men of the kingdom, the Godly husbands and fathers we are all called to be."

He added that the "widespread release of the movie provides a tremendous opportunity to put the emotion we all felt at the end of the movie to practical use in our daily lives."

"It is an unbelievably easy tool to use for ministry, and the producers have provided outstanding resources to bring the movie to life via Bible studies, small group sessions, etc." Gabriele noted.

He continued: "Men are notoriously hard to reach in ministry, but the ability to invite men to an engaging movie, followed by structured discussions and the ability to delve more deeply into their faith and how it applies to marriage and fatherhood is an incredible gift."

He revealed to ZENIT that his group will be sponsoring an eight-week study series, available through the Internet as well, on scriptural fatherhood.

Kendrick expressed the hope that many of this generation of men will see "Courageous" and "learn that the role of father is irreplaceable."

He underlined the hope that the audience will see that God created fatherhood "to introduce the next generation to what their loving Heavenly Father is like: a loving Provider, a strong Protector, an honorable Authority, a great Example, a wise Teacher, and an intimate Friend."

The producer continued: "We hope that men get a vision for this and begin to step up with courage and begin to lead their families by example as God intended. This will positively affect the next generation in countless ways."

"We produced a movie," he concluded. "But only he can change a heart. To him alone be the glory!"

Saturday 14 January 2012

A Bishop who follows Pope Benedict's example

Bishop Antonio Keller at Mass this Christmas

The Eponymous Flower reports on Bishop Antonio Keller of the southern Brazilian Diocese of Frederico Westphalen following the example given By Pope Benedict. Apparently, a Pastoral Letter issued for Christmas explains that in his Cathedral Holy Communion will be given, as a norm, on the tongue and kneeling. This actually only reverts to the worldwide norm for the way in which Holy Communion is administered as the allowance for receiving in the hand is given by indult - which admittedly most diocese have applied for and received permission to do. To be honest, I'm not sure if kneeling falls into the same category, except that it is always permitted to kneel and no-one can be refused communion should they kneel to receive it (Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, written on 1. Juli 2002, Notitiae 2002, S. 582-585). The Bishop's letter also draws attention to other things that apply universally: to fast at least one hour before receiving communion and the necessity of having the right disposition at the reception of Holy Eucharist.

It might be that in times past the reception of Holy Communion was too infrequent because people thought themselves unworthy in their often sinful state . Perhaps today reception of Holy Communion is too frequent because people think themselves only too worthy and have no sense of personal sin at all. This was first noted by Pope Pius XII in a radio message of October 26, 1946, speaking of the greatest sin in the world today being the loss of the sense of sin: “forse oggi il più grande peccato del mondo è perdere il senso del peccato” (Discorsi e radiomessaggi di Sua Santità Pio XII, vol. 8, 1955–1959) and is a modern ill that has been commented on by successive Popes. I'm not sure many people think of their disposition before coming to Holy Communion: "Am I in a long-standing enmity with a family member?"; "Have I missed Sunday Mass with no good reason?"; "Have I prayed at all since last time I received Holy Communion?"; "When did I last go to Confession?"

In the past the Church enjoined people to go to Holy Communion at least once a year (and Confession beforehand - the "Easter Duties") but this was because people were minded not to come even once a year, so great was their sense of awe for the Holy Eucharist. Obviously, a sacrament that is never received is a bit pointless but then a sacrament that is never thought about is not going to be the means of channelling all the grace that it should to the recipient.

It does seem strange that at a time when modern western culture (if we can call it a culture - as Pope Benedict says) is almost obsessed with placing blame
- "who can I sue for the fact that I tripped up on a pavement"
and with making apologies for the past sins of our ancestors
- whether it be for colonialism or for offences committed against the long dead spirit of Galileo
We see sins out there but they are not ours. It seems that, like the greatest of the Saints, we are ready at any moment to be born, fully formed, into the glory of Heaven. As my family, friends, parishioners and, no doubt readers of this blog, might tell you - I am not!

My point is that the rules, which we seem so terrified of mentioning lest we "put anyone off" are actually means of focusing our thought, prayer and energy on the challenge of the Good News and the outward signs push us to recognise the unusual nature of what we are in contact with through the Sacraments - the awesome power and grace of God, the supernatural; literally, above nature. Certainly above our fallen human nature. A scraping of the knee and an hour's fast seem like small things to remind us of this.

Saturday 7 January 2012

The Year of Faith

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith has published a Communique today with pastoral recommendations for the YEAR OF FAITH which is to begin on 11 October 2012, the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II, and will conclude on 24 November 2013, Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Universal King. The Holy Father's aim in promulgating this Year is to focus the attention of the Church on the theme which, since the beginning of his Pontificate, has been closest to his heart: the encounter with Jesus Christ and the beauty of having faith in Him.

Some things I noted about it - with my emphasis and comments.

The Committee for the Preparation of the Year of Faith is, by pontifical mandate, under the auspices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and includes among its members: Cardinals William Levada, Francis Arinze, Angelo Bagnasco, Ivan Dias, Francis E. George, Zenon Grocholewski, Marc Ouellet, Mauro Piacenza, Jean-Pierre Ricard, Stanisław Ryłko and Christoph Schönborn; Archbishops Salvatore Fisichella and Luis F. Ladaria; and Bishops Mario del Valle Moronta Rodríguez, Gerhard Ludwig Müller and Raffaello Martinelli.
Interesting that the Committee running the Year is under this Congregation.

After the Council the Church – under the sure guidance of the Magisterium and in continuity with the whole Tradition – set about ensuring the reception and application of the teaching of the Council in all its richness.
Stress on being in continuity with the WHOLE Tradition.

From the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI has worked decisively for a correct understanding of the Council, rejecting as erroneous the so-called "hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture" and promoting what he himself has termed "the 'hermeneutic of reform', of renewal in continuity".
Implying that there has been an INCORRECT understanding of the Council in some quarters.

The Year of Faith will be a propitious occasion to make Vatican Council II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church more widely and deeply known.
Implying that there has been something lacking in the depth and width of knowledge about the Council and the catechism.

On the level of Episcopal Conferences, attention will be given to the quality of catechesis, and efforts will be made to examine local catechisms and various catechetical supplements in use in the particular Churches … to ensure their complete conformity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Presuming that some local catechisms and catechetical materials NEED re-examining and that some are NOT in conformity with with the catechism. Perhaps we can all think of one or two nominations!

At the diocesan level, the Year of Faith is considered, among other things... as a favourable time for «penitential celebrations … in which all can ask for God's forgiveness, especially for sins against faith».
Sins against THE FAITH! Not sins against one another, not sins against the world but sins against THE FAITH.
There is usually a lot packed into Vatican language - words are chosen carefully. This Communique doesn't sound like much until you read it carefully - and look at who is on the Committee.

Friday 6 January 2012

Mass for the Epiphany

Adoration of the Magi by the Scottish painter John Duncan (1915)

"On the Twelfth day of Christmas my true love said to me...
... Please wait another two days!"

I am celebrating Missa Cantata of the Epiphany today at 7pm
- following the Traditional Calendar. The transferal of the Holy Days really does play havoc with the rhythm of the seasons and liturgical time and all for the sake of convenience.

I have noticed a theme running through my homilies this Christmas season - that of adoration and its outward expression though following the Scriptural injunction that "At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow". The Church instructs us to kneel during the Creed at Christmas at the words "Incarnatus est". On the Feast of Mary Mother of God, Mary is depicted in the crib scene kneeling before her infant child because he is the Word made flesh - true God and true man. Now for Epiphany the Magi "fall down and adore Him" (and in the Traditional Form of the Roman Rite all kneel at this point in the Gospel, in a beautiful physical expression that unites us with the Magi that first Christmas).

It seems such a pity that with so much encouragement from Scripture and Tradition that we don't naturally always fall to our knees when we are bold enough to come forward to receive the Lord of Life in Holy Communion.

I have, of course, posted about this before here but someone commenting on that post (the man responsible for the video presentation a post or two ago so I've added his blog to the side bar), added this further description:
According to Abba Apollo, a desert father who lived about 1,700 years ago, the devil has no knees; he cannot kneel; he cannot adore; he cannot pray; he can only look down his nose in contempt. Being unwilling to bend the knee at the name of Jesus is the essence of evil. (Cf. Is 45:23, Rom 14:11) But when we kneel at Jesus' name, when we bow down in service of others, and when we bend the knee in adoration, we are following in the footsteps of the Magi, we are imitating Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Saint Maximilian Kolbe, and all the saints and angels in heaven.
Incidentally, I came across another reminder of the Russian celebration of Epiphany which I think is kept on the 19th January and closely associated with the Lord's Baptism - hence their tradition of taking a plunge on the Epiphany. Not very convenient - perhaps they should move it to a warmer time of year. You can see more where these photos came from.

Thursday 5 January 2012

Bishop of Lancaster on things Catholic in name only

Bishop Michael Campbell of Lancaster has issued a Pastoral Letter which has attracted some attention. It is principally about evangelisation and how the Church is to go about it in changing circumstances. He challenges his people to think about evangelising their lapsed family, friends and neighbours.
All of us know someone - a friend, family member, classmate, work colleague or neighbour - who used to be a practising Catholic, but isn't any more. For some who initially heard the incredible proclamation of Christ alive in the Church, the message has become stale. The promises of the Gospel seem empty or unconnected to their busy lives today. So, what is our response? Surely our love and concern for them means that they should be the primary object of our missionary or evangelising efforts, our energy and resources. The Church only exists to evangelise that means buildings, churches, parishes, schools and colleges are only valuable insofar as they help the Church in that mission of salvation!!
Evangelisation out in the world is surely one of the tasks that the Second Vatican Council reminded us was among the pre-eminent works that the laity are called to (as opposed to taking over the priest's sacramental jobs on the sanctuary!) The Bishop also questions the way our Catholic schools have, for the most part, developed:
Is it right or sustainable to expect our Mass-going population of 21,000 to support our schools and colleges in which often the majority of pupils, and sometimes teachers, are not practising Catholics? Is it time for us to admit that we can no longer maintain schools that are Catholic in name only?
"Schools that are Catholic in name only." Finally, a bishop who has had the courage to say it. What is the point of us maintaining schools that have the name "Catholic" on the sign outside (or more likely the reduced epithet "R.C.") while inside few of the teachers are Catholic and ninety per cent plus of the children and their families do not practice the Faith in any meaningful way. This situation could be seen as an opportunity to evangelise and call these lapsed children and their families back to the Faith but anyone who attempts to use our school system for this purpose immediately has the rug pulled out from under their feet.
1. Catholic Schools have been forced or have bought into the prevailing secular culture and management of schools and so there is no time and no ability to push a truly Catholic agenda (we cannot decide to only employ practising Catholics as teachers, for example, and the health and safety implications of allowing children to cross the road to serve Mass are momentous, not to mention that it clashes with the numeracy or literacy hour).

2. Most diocesan education structures do not envisage this or they even work against it. I've been told in the past that it is simply not acceptable to ask children in school if they were at Mass with their families on Sunday. I've been told that the school has an equal opportunities policy and therefore I may not recruit altar servers and only ask for boys - even though this contravenes the teaching of the Church on this matter (I wonder how I can, therefore, talk about vocation to the Priesthood in school, as only boys could apply - or nuns for Religious Life, as only girls could apply!) All this apart from the actual religious education programes that are for the most part not fit for purpose.
Whatever has happened to our Catholic Schools in recent decades, the fact is they are no longer doing what they are meant to do - teach the Catholic Faith along with giving an all-round education. Watered down elements of the Christian faith may be taught in our schools but the fullness of the Catholic Faith is not lived in our schools. How could it be and why should it be by people who may not be Catholics at all? How could it be by teachers who are lapsed? A truly Catholic ethos must surely mean so much more than vaguely "helping others" by CAFOD events in Lent and joining in Red Nose Day.

To the rest of the world - and no doubt to Rome on ad limina visits - the paper fact of so many Catholic schools with so many children in them looks fantastic. The reality, as Bishop Campbell points out, is rather different. Perhaps the time has come to abandon the pretense and start again by spending the money we now spend on schools on far fewer schools for those who actually are Catholic who practise their Faith and on catechetical programmes in parishes for children. In a sense, going back to how many of our schools started - for example in my own parish here when nuns bought a large house and started classes in it back in the 1940's.

You can read further excellent comment at:

Outside In


Protect the Pope

Tuesday 3 January 2012

Confident Presentation of the Faith

I can't recall when I last - if ever - went to an English diocesan website and thought, "Wow, that's really good!" But if you go the the Diocese of Lancaster site the home page greets you with this video unashamedly announcing who and what the Catholic Faith is. Words and claims for the Church not seen in ages are boldly announced:

We are sacred
We are obedience
We are joy
We are tradition
We are happy
We are Papists
We are universal
We are strong
We are sacred
We are courageous
We are defenders of the Faith

... to name but a few.

The accompanying music is full-on modern and upbeat. All the images are not afraid of showing Catholics acting and dressed as Catholics - nuns, priests, marked with the Lenten ashes, Pro-Life - all positive and highlighting the vigour, youth, tradition, beauty, grandeur and struggle of the Church.

This is the sort of publicity we should be focusing on, a confident, joyful message embracing ALL of the Church's Tradition. If only we could have more like this instead of the mediocre, insipid and lowest common denominator offerings usually served up. Who knows, perhaps this sort of presentation might actually attract people to the Faith.

Confidence in the Faith and it's message is something that I think has been lacking in recent times. After the turmoil induced in the years following the Second Vatican Council the great hopes the modernisers held out for did not materialise - quite the opposite. The secular media is always ready to bash the Church on premises that are occasionally real but usually false or exaggerated. Many Catholics hardly seem to know what we are for and so no wonder we have trouble telling others why they should join up - why it might be imperative that they join up. Bishops, priests and laity, certainly in the Western world, seem to have lost confidence in the power of the message and so the temptation has been t0 compromise it and fit in - in how we look, in how we think, in how we act, even in how we worship. It's only now with a new generation is more confident - not disappointed by the lack of "success" after the Second Vatican Council because they never experienced the let down feeling - only saw their elders rather tired and a bit lost for words - or at least words that meant anything. Confidence doesn't have to mean Triumphalism - it can just mean confidence that the Church really is guided by the Holy Spirit. It is now and it always has been - even before Vatican II and even (if not especially!) in the election of Pope Benedict!

Well done Lancaster Diocese!