Sunday, 14 October 2018


I am delighted that Archbishop Oscar Romero and Pope Paul VI are now "officially" saints of the Church. This from Pope Francis' homily at the canonisation Mass:
Jesus is radical. He gives all and he asks all: he gives a love that is total and asks for an undivided heart. Even today he gives himself to us as the living bread; can we give him crumbs in exchange? We cannot respond to him, who made himself our servant even going to the cross for us, only by observing some of the commandments. We cannot give him, who offers us eternal life, some odd moment of time. Jesus is not content with a “percentage of love”: we cannot love him twenty or fifty or sixty percent. It is either all or nothing.....
Today Jesus invites us to return to the source of joy, which is the encounter with him, the courageous choice to risk everything to follow him, the satisfaction of leaving something behind in order to embrace his way. The saints have travelled this path.
Paul VI did too, after the example of the Apostle whose name he took. Like him, Paul VI spent his life for Christ’s Gospel, crossing new boundaries and becoming its witness in proclamation and in dialogue, a prophet of a Church turned outwards, looking to those far away and taking care of the poor. Even in the midst of tiredness and misunderstanding, Paul VI bore witness in a passionate way to the beauty and the joy of following Christ totally. Today he still urges us, together with the Council whose wise helmsman he was, to live our common vocation: the universal call to holiness. Not to half measures, but to holiness. It is wonderful that together with him and the other new saints today, there is Archbishop Romero, who left the security of the world, even his own safety, in order to give his life according to the Gospel, close to the poor and to his people, with a heart drawn to Jesus and his brothers and sisters. We can say the same about Francesco Spinelli, Vincenzo Romano, Maria Caterina Kasper, Nazaria Ignazia of Saint Teresa of Jesus, and also our Abruzzese-Neapolitan young man, Nunzio Sulprizio: the saintly, courageous, humble young man who encountered Jesus in his suffering, in silence and in the offering of himself. All these saints, in different contexts, put today’s word into practice in their lives, without lukewarmness, without calculation, with the passion to risk everything and to leave it all behind. Brothers and sisters, may the Lord help us to imitate their example.  
Brief biographies of those canonised alongside Archbishop Romero and Pope Paul VI can be found here.

Friday, 21 September 2018

All the Cathedrals (10): St Albans

Zero and I visited St Albans recently, to tick off another of England's cathedrals.

The Cathedral website has a highlights page here. The story of the martyrdom of St Alban is here. Other aspects of the history of the Abbey/Cathedral can be found on links from those pages.

Visiting the Cathedral today, there is no readily visible evidence of the different vicissitudes that have been suffered by the building over the centuries. There is no evidence, at least not that we saw, of the Anglo-Saxon church or medieval church that might typically have existed before the construction of the Norman church (if I understand correctly, any such structures were not on the same site but nearby, and the construction of the Norman church was undertaken to take advantage of the top of the hill on which the Cathedral now exists). Neither is there any evidence (unless you look closely, and then there are only clues arising from the later restoration of the Cathedral) of the destruction and decay of the Church building that occurred after the dissolution of the monastery by Henry VIII's commissioner. All the statues in the Cathedral today, for example, date from 19th and 20th century restoration work, as does the stained glass. St Albans changed hands several times during the Civil War, with Parliament finally holding it. The Cathedral was then used to hold prisoners of war, the consequent damage from which is also no longer evident.

The Cathedral does have some lovely elements, such as the reredos behind the high altar and the Lady Chapel behind the sanctuary at the east end.

There are also the statues of Christian martyrs in the reredos behind the nave altar. St Alban and the priest who he protected are accompanied, among others, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Oscar Romero and one of the Protestant martyrs who suffered during the reign of Mary. This does not leave a uniformly satisfactory impression - I could not quite decide whether I should recognise it as genuine effort at ecumenical understanding or a manifestation, with the best of intentions, of a degree of religious indifferentism. One might also wonder about it as an example of cultural appropriation in a religious context ….

I also found that the building as a whole left an incoherent impression. Individual elements just seemed to exist with no relation to others - mediaeval wall paintings on the pillars on one side of the nave with decorated pillars on the opposite side that replaced previously collapsed pillars, but with no effort to match the two sides at all. Plaster over Roman brick in the transepts reflects the original construction of the Cathedral, but does not convey any majesty.

All in all, given that it is a Church dedicated to the first Christian martyr of England (and the restored shrine does contain a relic of St Alban) I found it a disappointment.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Auntie Joanna's Adoremus Diary: a glorious celebration of the Eucharist

Read here.
More? Of course there was more. A pleasant meal with family and friends. Nightfever at the Blessed Sacrament shrine, packed with people, glittering with candles. Liverpool streets filled with Saturday night revellers, girls on hen nights, much shrieking and shouting. And some of them – many of them, the most unlikely of them – came in to pray, invited by the young congress teams.
As I post, the Eucharist is being carried in procession through the streets of Liverpool.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Adoration may seem useless....

...but the world needs it desperately.

I link to this article in connection with the National Eucharistic Congress and Pilgrimage taking place in Liverpool today.

Coverage, with video clips that you can watch, here:

Friday, 7 September 2018

Adoremus: National Eucharistic Congress and Pilgrimage

This coming weekend sees the National Eucharistic Congress for England and Wales, being held in Liverpool: Adoremus.

Coverage of the Congress can be found here:

You can also watch it on the homepages of these websites:

LIVE Broadcast dates and time as below,
FRIDAY, 7th September
10:00AM to 2:00PM
SATURDAY, 8th September
10:00AM to 2:00PM
SUNDAY, 9th September
11:00AM to 1:00PM

The Eucharistic procession through the streets of Liverpool on Sunday will remind me of my own participation in similar processions (I often happen to be away on holiday at the time of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, so get the opportunity to participate in processions  in different places):

International Eucharistic Congress 2008 in Quebec.

The parish of Rivotorto, near to Assisi (twice).

Lisieux, at the Basilica dedicated to St Therese.

Bellano, on Lake Como.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Morning Prayer for Friday Week 1

Do not use harmful words in talking. Use only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you. And do not make God's Holy Spirit sad; for the Spirit is God's mark of ownership over you, a guarantee that the Day will come when God will set you free. Get rid of all bitterness, passion, and anger. No more shouting or insults. No more hateful feelings of any sort. Instead, be kind and tender-hearted to one another, and forgive one another, as God has forgiven you in Christ.
(Ephesians 4:29-32)

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Myles Dempsey speaks to Joanna Bogle

I came across this interview or, perhaps better, conversation of Myles Dempsey with Joanna Bogle somewhat by accident. I haven't managed to listen to all of it, rather catching snippets at different points in the video.

Myles Dempsey died in June of this year. He is well known as the founder of the New Dawn conference that takes place each year at Walsingham.

One of the snippets I caught - and which is particularly relevant in the present circumstances of the Church - was Myles' repeated assertion of his love for the Church. Also striking was his saying that the purpose of the annual New Dawn conference at Walsingham was to show the beauty and the whole of Catholic life, without missing any bits out.
Myles' vision from God for New Dawn is to bring together all the riches of the Catholic Faith. He comments, "I want the beauty of the Church to be seen in all her splendour;  the Church with all its lights on and all its aspects celebrated - the charismatic, the liturgical, the Marian, the Eucharistic, the Sacramental, the Mystical - and for the whole family to be there."[Source here]
In talking about his life, it is interesting to see how Myles Dempsey sits within the history of Catholic life in England, before his coming to being involved in Charismatic Renewal. I am looking forward to watching those parts of the conversation that I have so far not had time to watch.