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.

Sunday 26 August 2018

Pope Francis in Ireland

As at the time of writing, the texts of three addresses of Pope Francis are available on the website of the Holy See. It is interesting, I think, to read the whole of these addresses. Inevitably, even the most conscientious of news reporting can highlight one aspect of an encounter (the most news worthy for the general audience) and leave out another of significance.

An example of this is in Pope Francis' meeting with Authorities, Civil Society and Diplomatic Corps. The Pope's remarks expressing shame about the abuse of children in the Church were widely reported. But the following paragraph includes a very strong observation, albeit indirect, to the recent referendum on the abortion provisions of the Irish Constitution:
The Gospel reminds us that true peace is ultimately God’s gift; it flows from a healed and reconciled heart and branches out to embrace the entire world.  Yet it also requires constant conversion on our part, as the source of those spiritual resources needed to build a society of authentic solidarity, justice and service of the common good.  Without that spiritual foundation, our ideal of a global family of nations risks becoming no more than another empty platitude.  Can we say that the goal of creating economic or financial prosperity leads of itself to a more just and equitable social order?  Or could it be that the growth of a materialistic “throwaway culture” has in fact made us increasingly indifferent to the poor and to the most defenceless members of our human family, including the unborn, deprived of the very right to life?  Perhaps the most disturbing challenges to our consciences in these days is the massive refugee crisis, which will not go away, and whose solution calls for a wisdom, a breadth of vision and a humanitarian concern that go far beyond short-term political decisions.
And Pope Francis concluded with a claim for the role of the Catholic faith in the future life of the country:
Today as in the past, the men and women who live in this country strive to enrich the life of the nation with the wisdom born of their faith.  Even in Ireland’s darkest hours, they found in that faith a source of the courage and commitment needed to forge a future of freedom and dignity, justice and solidarity.  The Christian message has been an integral part of that experience, and has shaped the language, thought and culture of people on this island.
It is my prayer that Ireland, in listening to the polyphony of contemporary political and social discussion, will not be forgetful of the powerful strains of the Christian message that have sustained it in the past, and can continue to do so in the future.  
On can see some carefully framed "push back" against the reported remarks of the Taoiseach.

In his meetings with married couples and at the Festival of Families, Pope Francis' responded to the testimonies and questions of families with a very practical, and at times quite moving, encouragement in the context of family life in today's world. I select three points, though I do think you should read the whole of both addresses.

The international nature of the testimonies offered at the Festival of Families - some of them on video rather than in person, if I understand correctly - reminded me that the concerns of families in conflict zones are rather different than those in European nations. Responding to a testimony from a family from Iraq:
Abbiamo sentito da Enass e Sarmaad come l’amore e la fede in famiglia possano essere sorgenti di forza e di pace persino in mezzo alla violenza e alla distruzione, causate da guerra e persecuzione. La loro storia ci riporta alle tragiche situazioni che quotidianamente patiscono tante famiglie costrette ad abbandonare le loro case in cerca di sicurezza e di pace. Ma Enass e Sarmaad ci hanno indicato anche come, a partire dalla famiglia e grazie alla solidarietà mostrata da molte altre famiglie, la vita può essere ricostruita e la speranza può rinascere. Abbiamo visto questo supporto nel video di Rammy e suo fratello Meelad, in cui Rammy ha espresso profonda gratitudine per l'incoraggiamento e per l’aiuto che la loro famiglia ha ricevuto da tante altre famiglie cristiane di tutto il mondo, che hanno reso loro possibile di ritornare nei loro villaggi. In ogni società le famiglie generano pace, perché insegnano l’amore, l’accoglienza, il perdono, i migliori antidoti contro l’odio, il pregiudizio e la vendetta che avvelenano la vita di persone e di comunità.
[We have heard from Enass and Sarmaad how love and faith in a family can be the source of strength and peace lost in the midst of violence and destruction, caused by war and persecution. Their story told us of the tragic situations suffered daily by so many families forced to leave their homes to seek safety and peace. But Enass and Sarmaad also showed us how, beginning from the family and thanks to the solidarity shown by many other families, life can be rebuilt and hope can be reborn. We saw this support in the video of Rammy and his brother Meelad, in which Rammy expressed deep gratitude for the encouragement and for the help that their family received from so many other Christian families throughout the world, which made it possible for them to return to their villages. In all societies families generate peace, because they teach love, welcome, pardon, the best antidotes to hate, prejudice and vendetta that poison the lives of persons and communities.]
A reminder for me of this meeting with a Syrian family in 1984.

 Pope Francis also answered a question about the possibility of living out married life as a permanent commitment in a world that generally lacks a sense of permanence:
There is a temptation that the phrase “all the days of my life” that you will say to one another may change and, in time, die. If love does (not) grow by more love, it doesn’t last long. Those words “all the days of my life” are a commitment to make love grow, because love has nothing of the provisional. Call it excitement, call it, I don’t know, enchantment, but real love is definitive, a “you and I”. As we say in my country, it is “half of the orange”: you are my half of the orange and I am your half of the orange. That is what love is like: everything and every day for all the days of your life. It is easy to find ourselves caught up in the culture of the provisional, the ephemeral, and that culture strikes at the very roots of our processes of maturation, our growth in hope and love. How can we experience “what truly lasts” in this culture of the ephemeral? This is a tough question: how can we experience, in this culture of the ephemeral, what is truly lasting?
Here is what I would say to you. Of all the kinds of human fruitfulness, marriage is unique. It is about a love that gives rise to new life. It involves mutual responsibility for the transmission of God’s gift of life, and it provides a stable environment in which that new life can grow and flourish. Marriage in the Church, that is, the sacrament of matrimony, shares in a special way in the mystery of God’s eternal love. When a Christian man and woman enter the bond of marriage, God’s grace enables them freely to promise one another an exclusive and enduring love. Their union thus becomes a sacramental sign – this is important – the sacrament of marriage becomes a sacramental sign of the new and eternal covenant between the Lord and his bride, the Church. Jesus is ever present in their midst. He sustains them throughout life in their mutual gift of self, in fidelity and in indissoluble unity (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 48). Jesus’ love is, for couples, a rock and refuge in times of trial, but more importantly, a source of constant growth in pure and enduring love. Gamble big, for your entire life! Take a risk! Because marriage is also a risk, but it is a risk worth taking. For your whole life, because that is how love is.
And a third theme that recurred was that of the family reaching across its different generations being a source of values and culture, and the means of passing on those values and culture to succeeding generations.
Le famiglie sono ovunque chiamate a continuare a crescere e andare avanti, pur in mezzo a difficoltà e limiti, proprio come hanno fatto le generazioni passate. Tutti siamo parte di una grande catena di famiglie, che risale all’inizio dei tempi. Le nostre famiglie sono tesori viventi di memoria, con i figli che a loro volta diventano genitori e poi nonni. Da loro riceviamo l’identità, i valori e la fede. Lo abbiamo visto in Aldo e Marissa, sposi da più di cinquant’anni. Il loro matrimonio è un monumento all’amore e alla fedeltà! I loro nipotini li mantengono giovani; la loro casa è piena di allegria, di felicità e di balli. Era bello vedere [nel video] la nonna insegnare a ballare alle nipotine! Il loro amore vicendevole è un dono di Dio, un dono che stanno trasmettendo con gioia ai loro figli e nipoti.
[Families are everywhere called to continue to grow and move forward, even in the midst of difficulties and limits, just as past generations have done. We are all part of a large chain of families, that arises from the beginning of time. Our families are living treasures of memory, with children who will in their turn become parents and grand parents. From them we receive our identity, values and the faith. We saw this in Aldo and Marissa, married for more than fifty years. Their marriage is a monument to love and faithfulness! Their grand children keep them young; their house is full of cheerfulness, of happiness and dances. It was lovely to see (in the video) the grandmother teaching the grandchildren to dance! Their reciprocal love is a gift of God, a gift that is being passed on with joy to their children and grandchildren.]

Wednesday 22 August 2018

The meaning of "family": UPDATED

I am, unfortunately, not able to find a full text of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin's remarks during the lead opening ceremony of the World Meeting of Families in the RDS.  I am therefore relying on the reporting of the Irish Times, with the inherent risk that it does not offer a full picture of the Archbishop's address:
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin greeted families in the “variety of their expressions” at the opening prayer service of the World Meeting of Families on Tuesday night.
“There are some who would look at the world meeting as some sort of ideological rally to celebrate a type of family which probably does not exist,” he said, but added that the event was, in fact, much more profound.
“The family is not a remote ideological notion but the place where compassion, kindness, gentleness, patience and forgiveness are learned, practised and are spread,” he said.
There seems to be a contrast between Archbishop Martin's reference to families in their "variety of expressions" and the recent  suggestion of Pope Francis that, though there is an analogical use of the term "family", there is also a single and unique usage of the term in the context of human families:
Then today — it hurts to say it — we speak of ‘diversified’ families: different types of family. Yes, it is true that the word ‘family’ is an analogical term, because it refers to the ‘family’ of stars, to ‘families’ of trees, to ‘families’ of animals ... it is an analogical term. But the human family as the image of God, man and woman, is one alone. It is one alone. It may be that a man and a woman are not believers: but if they love each other and become joined in marriage, they are the image and likeness of God, even though they do not believe. It is a mystery: Saint Paul calls it the “great mystery”, the “great sacrament” (cf. Eph 5:32). A true mystery. I like everything you said and the passion with which you said it. And this is how one should speak about the family, with passion.
There is some lack of precision in Pope Francis' words - the term "human family" might have a reference both to the entirety of the human family and to the exact instance of the family formed by the marriage of a man and woman to which he then immediately refers - arising from the unscripted nature of his remarks. I do think, however, that he has opened up a way of talking about the family that can present Catholic teaching in a way that allows the unique understanding of the term "family" to engage successfully with the indiscriminate use of that term by a wider society that seeks to undermine the living of that unique understanding.

UPDATE: Archbishop Eamon Martin was the keynote speaker (replacing Archbishop Wuerl) on the first full day of the pastoral congress. The full text of his talk can be found here: Keynote address of Archbishop Eamon Martin at the Family Arena at the WMOF2018 Pastoral Congress ‘The welfare of the family is decisive for the future of the world’. As I do regularly, I suggest that you do follow the link and read the whole. The extracts below do not convey the sense of the whole, though the perhaps do rather better than the ITV news website headline: Archbishop tells faithful abuse scandals have damaged trust in church’s teaching.

[But we should credit this ITV report with its prominent citation of these words of Archbishop Martin:
"We must work together with all people of goodwill to encourage the State to support the family, and especially the uniqueness of the faithful and exclusive union between a married man and a woman as a cherished space for the bearing and upbringing of children".]
My extracts below:
We believe that the Church’s proclamation of the family – founded on a circle of faithful loving between a man and a woman which is open to the gift of children who are the fruit of that love – is Good News for society and the world.  There is no getting away, however, from the fact that communicating the family in this way can appear increasingly counter-cultural in many parts of the world, including Ireland.  This has been accelerated to a large extent by the departure in public discourse from the philosophical and anthropological underpinning of marriage and the family in natural law, and by the erosion of social supports for traditional marriage in the form of constitutional guarantee and positive legislation. In presenting God’s plan for marriage and the family which includes God’s plan for the transmission of life itself, the Church sometimes be accused of being exclusive or lacking in compassion. ….
Into this complicated ‘topsy turvy’ world we have the joy and challenge of communicating a clear and positive vision of family and marriage: the Good News that human life is sacred, that each human being comes from God, who created us, male and female; that we are willed by God who loves each and every one of us; that self-giving love and commitment in the marriage of a man and a woman open to life is not only possible, but is a beautiful and fulfilling gift with the power of God’s grace; that chastity is achievable, healthy and good for our young people; that the giving of oneself to another in marriage for life is special, rewarding and a wonderful symbol of Christ’s forgiving, faithful love for his Church. 
We proclaim the Gospel of the Family because we believe in it, and we also believe and firmly hope that, with the help of God, it is attainable.
Of course, it is one thing to have a joyful message to proclaim and propose – it is quite another to find effective ways of communicating this message.  If no one is listening, it is difficult to communicate!  The task of proclaiming the Gospel of the Family in the Church therefore belongs to all of us because it is communicated most effectively from cell to cell, from family to family, witnessing intentionally and courageously, and by lived example, to the Church’s vision.
Together we proclaim the Gospel of the Family because we are convinced that the welfare of the family is decisive for the future of the world! Or, as Pope St John Paul II loved to put it: “As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live”. ….
…. if we truly believe the Good News that the welfare of the family is decisive to the future of the world, then how can we keep from singing and proclaiming this vital truth? We must work together with all people of goodwill to encourage the State to support the family, and especially the uniqueness of the faithful and exclusive union between a married man and a woman as a cherished space for the bearing and upbringing of children.  In doing this, the State is not only caring for its citizens, but it is also strengthening and nurturing the foundations of society itself.  As Pope Francis has said: ‘The family deserves special attention by those responsible for the common good, because it is the basic unit of society, which brings strong links of union that underpin human coexistence and, with the generation and education of children, ensure the renewal and the future of society.’  
There is a sentence in Archbishop Martin's address which I find more subtle and thought provoking, with its suggestion that it is through our families that we become conscious of a culture:
 Family also links us to a community, a parish, a county, a country, to a history and culture, a language and tradition, our past, present and future.  
It is thought provoking to reflect as to how far a generation that has suffered an undermining of their family experience will also have suffered an undermining of their genuine sense of a culture and its replacement by something of considerably less value.

Sunday 19 August 2018

World Meeting of Families 2018: my highlights.

Reading the programme for the Pastoral Congress associated with the World Meeting of Families 2018, there are three things that attracted my attention as "highlights". The nature of the Congress is that it is not possible to get to everything because things happen simultaneously. If I were able to be at the World Meeting, the events below reflect things that I would particularly want to attend. I expect that I will also want to listen to the Family celebration on the Saturday evening, especially the family testimonies which are usually very moving.

The first is the involvement of members of the Focolare movement, and in particular Focolare's families movement, in a number of the panels/presentations. So, for example, a Focolare speaker is involved in a panel entitled "And the greatest is love: Pope Francis on 1 Cor 13" on the Wednesday. Representatives of the New Families Movement are part of a panel on Thursday: "The Joys and Challenges of Parenting Today". Also on Wednesday, a Focolare initiative in the field of economics ("Economy of Communion") is represented in one of the speakers, Professor Bruini, in a session entitled "The Family: A Resource for Society". And on Thursday, the movement is represented in a session entitled "Handing on the Faith between the Generations: The Role of Grandparents".

The second is the involvement of Aid to the Church in Need in two different sessions. On the Wednesday, as part of the evening programme, they are hosting a session entitled "The Family of Families: the experience of Catholic Families in Russia":
In this interactive workshop we listen to the stories of faith and family from Catholics in Russia, through the initiatives supported by the Pontifical Foundation, Aid to the Church in Need International.
They are also presenting a similar session "The Family of Families: the experience of Catholic Families in Africa" on the Thursday of the Congress.

And thirdly, Rocco Buttiglione is speaking on Thursday: "A Hidden Treasure: The Theology of the Body of Saint John Paul II". There can be few people who so effectively represent an authentic Catholic voice in the political and cultural field as does Rocco Buttiglione.

The relics of St Therese of Lisieux and her parents, Louis and Zelie Martin, are also on an extended visit to Ireland, and will be present at the World Meeting of Families. They will be present at the concluding Mass of the World Meeting. Remembering the impact of the visit of St Therese to the UK, this too will be another highlight - and perhaps one that we should not underestimate.

Wednesday 8 August 2018

BBC Radio 2: Gerard Manley Hopkins cited on the Folk Show

Wednesday evening on Radio 2 is the regular slot for Mark Radcliffe's The Folk Show. Often there is a live guest band on the show, and this week it was  band called Mishaped Pearls. They released an album earlier this year entitled Shivelight.

You can listen again for a further 29 days to the programme, but you will need to have BBC account in order to sign in to the iPlayer to do so. If you do listen again, go to this link and then to 36:50. At his point Mishaped Pearls perform the track "Queen May", and then discuss the origins of the title of the album.

They have taken it from Gerard Manley Hopkins use of the word in the poem "That Nature is a Heraclitian Fire", to indicate the shaft of light that can be seen shining through the canopy of a forest. It is an appropriate choice of title, as many of the songs on the album do reflect on nature in a way with which Gerard Manley Hopkins might be familiar.

What is very striking in the programme, though, is Mark Radcliffe's familiarity with and enthusiasm for Gerard Manley Hopkins. He is able to quote the first lines of "The Windhover", adding the comment that it is "stunning stuff". Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised at the connection between folk music and an interest in Hopkins' poetry ...

Do listen if you can ….

Friday 3 August 2018

On the inadmissability of the death penalty ...

In the light of Pope Francis' promulgation of new wording for n.2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (though it is worth reading the preceding n.2266 as well for a complete context), I have searched "death penalty" on this blog.

It produced these two earlier posts: The consensus of the Holy Fathers ..... and The end of Traditionalism?