Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Catholicism Project

Hannah Vaughan Spruce, our co-ordinator of catechesis, has alerted me to the Catholicism Project a new and exciting venture that will go live in the autumn. You might also care to visit Hannah's new blog on her experiences as a catechist. It's called Transformed in Christ and you can visit it here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Holy Week

Palm Sunday is always a dramatic celebration in the life of a parish. Following the custom of the early Christian community in Jerusalem who processed from the Garden of Olives into the city, we gather outside for the blessing of palms and then walk in procession to the Church singing 'Hosanna' as we go. It is as if we are now part of that original crowd welcoming Jesus into their city and acclaiming him as their King and Messiah.
In fact this sense of becoming ourselves protagonists in the drama of Holy Week goes back to a very ancient understanding of time and salvation. When the Jews remembered God's saving action they were not simply recalling some past event. Through their remembering it was made present and they became part of it. This is the key to a correct understanding of the words of Our Lord at the Last Supper: "Do this in memory of me" means that when this event is recalled it is also made present.
The days of the Triduum are like a drama in three acts. In the early Church there was no Triduum. It was only when the number of adult converts became so large at Easter that some of the associated rites were carried out on the preceding days. We can see this pragmatic need affecting the liturgy, for example, at the time of St John Chrysostom. So instead of thinking of the ceremonies of the Triduum as three separate events it would be better to consider them as one liturgical action extended over three days. Perhaps it helps to remember that at the end of the Maundy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper there is no blessing or dismissal. The Good Friday Commemoration of the Passion begins without a introductory rites or welcome because it simply take up what began the night before. It too ends without a dismissal. Finally the first Easter Mass has no other beginning than the rites of the Vigil.
Understanding this structure can help us recognise that the Last Supper, our Lord's Passion and death and his Resurrection form one liturgical reality which is made present whenever the Mass is celebrated.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

New Online Vocations Newsletter

 In the column on the right there is a sign up box for Vocations News, our online vocations newsletter. If you would like to receive it please simply submit your details.
The newsletter will not be one of those annoying publications that appear almost daily in your inbox and that you end up never reading. It will contain details of what is happening on the vocations scene both in Southwark but also further afield. The plan is for it come come about about once a month. 
You can unsubscribe at any time simply by clicking a link at the bottom of the newsletter.

If you would like to submit news or articles for the newsletter please email me.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Laetare Sunday

In the parish this weekend some of our parishioners had the good idea of organising a Mothering Sunday cake sale. This no doubt got more than one father off the hook and was a nice way to mark the lessening of our Lenten fast occasioned by Laetare Sunday!

Vocation Voices Training Day

On Saturday we had a training day for the Vocations Voices project. The National Office for Vocations has offered every parish in the country a young person to come and talk about the importance of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life on Good Shepherd Sunday which this year falls on 15th May. This was the first of a number of regional training days run by Fr Christopher Jamison. If we are to meet all the requests from parishes we will need a lot more young people to get involved so do please email me if you can help. A number of the people who came on Saturday were quite nervous initially but found the day really boosted their confidence and it was great to see how they will all give excellent testimonies. It was an ideal occasion for a photograph with the new Southwark Vocations Surfboard! The board was made by a young friend of mine who can make bespoke designs and who is working on a project to make surfing accessible to disabled people. For more information visit his Surfbod website.

Confirmation Retreat in Bury St Edmund's

I didn't get round to mentioning a very impressive Confirmation Day I helped with a couple of Saturdays ago in Bury St Edmund's. About a hundred youngster came from all over that part of East Anglia and from as far away as Peterborough for a day coordinated by Hamish McQueen, the Diocesan Youth Officer. I was invited to give a couple of talks and to celebrate the Mass. Other guests included the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal, who came down from Bradford, and Paschal Uche from Brentwood diocese. Paschal spoke about his experience meeting the Holy Father on the steps of Westminster Cathedral and took part in a panel answering questions. I was very impressed by his answers. My two talks were on the Holy Spirit and on the Mass. The day was animated by Edwin Fawcett who came with some members of a Gospel choir from the parish where he works. Again it was impressive to see his great skill at taking a group of highly self-conscious teenagers and getting them to sing!
Obviously the main focus of the day was not for me to promote vocations but it was easy to introduce the theme to both of the talks and the presence of two young sisters also helped ensure that questions surrounding vocation and vocation discernment were very much on the agenda - often raised by the young people themselves as they wondered what led these two young women to walk away from worldly excitement and enter religious life.
These days are in many ways simply sowing seeds and one never really knows how well they went. So it was nice to receive an email later from one of the Catechists who handed out evaluation forms at the next Confirmation session. She writes, "I was expecting a positive response but nothing like the one I got. They were all begging to go on another retreat... The young people spoke about how much they had learned and how much more seriously they were taking their faith after Saturday".
Let's pray that the diocese gets two or three vocations from this year's Confirmation groups!