Thursday, August 21, 2008

Catching Up

It remains quite hectic in the parish with one thing and another. Last Sunday we had our sixty-eighth baptism so far this year. In some countries that may not sound very many but for us it's a lot. In fact it is the highest number at this point in the year since 1972. The parish clearly still deserves its local reputation of being "Nappy Valley"!
On Sunday I made the mistake of mentioning to the people that I would be away this weekend attending the Youth 2000 retreat ay Walsingham. That has occasioned a deluge of the requests of the "I want it and I want it now" variety :o)

I'm lucky that we have a number of Spanish seminarians staying in the parish at the moment. They look after themselves and I don't need to do anything except turn up for meals. It's also great because occasionally they can spice things up of an evening. Thus the Seekers' Meeting on the Feast of the Assumption became a barbecue with musical accompaniment and a visiting priest from Cardinal Bertone's office was given a taste of his Spanish homeland without me having to worry about entertaining him.
On Tuesday we had a Day of Recollection for seminarians and those thinking of the priesthood. It went very well but again I was liberated from the burden of worrying about food and all that sort of thing.

Yesterday I went over to Woldingham to the diocesan Servers' Camp. This is an annual event organised by Fr Stephen Boyle. The youngsters have a full day of activities some of a religious nature but not excluding a lot of fun! I got there just after they had spent a couple of hours in the pool and as I left they were heading into town for an evening of ten-pin bowling. Fr Stephen had invited me to give a talk on World Youth Day which I did willingly but not before a Blessed Sacrament Procession and a good period in the Confessional before supper. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and it was great to see them.
If I can get things packed without too many more distractions I'll be leaving shortly for Walsingham. The retreat ends on Monday and Tuesday is a clearing up day. I will stay down there on Wednesday and Thursday to catch up on some parish paperwork. Hopefully there will be an internet connection otherwise things may be quiet once again for a while.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Wolrd Youth Day Sydney

Steven, one of our pilgrims, has been working hard on the footage we took in Sydney on our little camcorder. Having pinched a logo from Melbourne and with the help of an iMac he has produced this impressive little video. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

First Fruits of WYD

This week I had a meeting with one of the priests who came with us to Sydney. We were discussing what we could do to build on the tremendous experience it had been for our young people. The Vocations Exhibition had given us all plenty to think about but our imagination was caught particularly by the concept of 'Quo vadis?' groups. A Quo Vadis Group is aimed at young adults still in full time education and aims to help them consider the theme of vocation and apply it to their life - whatever that particular vocation may be.
There's still some work to do, but I would be very pleased to see a Quo Vadis group established soon in the London area.
Anyone interested in joining such a group can email me at Southwark Vocations.

Cardinal Newman

You've probably seen the news that in anticipation of a future beatification of John Henry Newman, plans are being drawn up to move his body from Rednall to a new resting place within the Birmingham Oratory. I very much hope the rumoured beatification will be confirmed soon - not just because a parishioner has offered to fly me to the ceremony in a private plane (!) - but also because it will give us a new impetus to read his writings once again. Newman one of the few great English theologians but sometimes appears to have a greater following abroad than on his native soil.

I've seen various redactions of his famous meditation on trust in God. Here's quite a short one published in Fr Vincent Ferrer Blehl's "A Newman Prayer Book" which I picked up recently at Littlemore:

God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another.
I have my mission - I may never know it in this life,
but I shall be told it in the next.
I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.
He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do His work;
I shall be a preacher of Truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I do but keep His commandments and serve Him in my calling.
Therefore, my God, I will put myself without reserve into your hands. What have I in heaven, and apart from you what do I want upon earth?
My flesh and my heart fail, but God is the God of my heart,
and my portion for ever.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Finally Resurfacing

It's taken me some time to get back to posting after returning from Sydney. The journey was preety miserable: I had to fly to Sydney and transfer to the international airport then wait for the first leg to Dubai. In total the journey home took well over thirty hours. Jetlag kicked in two days later but since I'm a light sleeper anyway I soon got over it.

While I was away the housekeeper and the secretary were on holiday and so I got back to a tip which took a while to put straight. Having cleared a space on the desk I was then able to settle down to the mail mountain. I've now cleared the urgent and have started on the emails so I thought it was time to do a little post for this Blog.

This morning I was given a 1995 edition of the "Handbook on the Social Behaviour of Seminarians". It's a real gem! A lot of the advice is, as a visiting Philippino priest commented, common sense but - as is said elsewhere on the Blogosphere - common sense can be remarkably uncommon. So, from time to time, I'll share with you some amusing - but quite sensible - advice to seminarians. The author dives in with some observations on 'Personal Cleanliness':

"The foundation of good personal appearance is cleanliness. Personal grooming and cleanliness should always be seen in the context of our present economic and cultural situations. This means that simple grooming is needed as much as possible, but not at the cost of cleanliness and neatness.

The hair can be both an asset and a liability. An asset if it is properly controlled and if it contributes to neatness. A liability if it becomes unruly or shabby. A well-groomed person is always attractive to behold. As a general guideline, one should get a haircut whenever one's hair no longer looks good, not when it is intolerably bushy, but whenever it loses its neat appearance.
The style of haircut also influences one's appearance. Regular haircut for a seminarian should be such that his hair is not so big and bishy as to cover the ears at the sides or the collar of the shirt at the back. In any case, one's style of haircut should be suited to the person's head".

Priceless! I don't know about seminarians but I'm going to give it to our altar servers whose style of haircut is certainly not always suited to the heads!