A Baptism and a Confirmation.

Congratulations to Guido on his baptism and confirmation. It was a lovely afternoon and Guido’s confirmation cake was amazing! Here a a few pictures. Some more can be found on our Facebook page.
Guido and his sponsor.
The baptism
The confirmation
The celebration afterwards.

A day filled with joy.

As we continue our Easter celebration,today is particularly special for us as a community. Our catechumen, Guido, will be baptised and confirmed this afternoon. Please continue to pray for him, and for Adrian, who was received at our Easter Vigil.

Of course, following Mass we will celebrate with cake.

Humility and Servanthood: Maundy Thursday Homily.

Why, on the night that Jesus institutes the Eucharist at the Last Supper, does he begin the evening by washing the disciples’ feet? What is the connection?

Jesus has a way of taking the familiar and turning the meaning on its head. Echoed throughout his teaching is the lesson of humility: If you want to be first in the Kingdom be last and the servant of all. When the disciples jostle for position, he takes a child and says ‘if you don’t accept the Kingdom in a childlike manner you cannot enter it.’ If you want to live, then die.

The disciples would have been familiar, as a part of hospitality, that on entering a house a servant would wash guests’ feet after a journey. As if in a sense of urgency, to re-enforce the message of humility and servanthood, Jesus-God in flesh- washes his disciples’ feet. He washes the feet of Judas Iscariot, whom he knows will betray him; of Peter, who will deny him three times and of the others who will abandon him.

Despite Peter’s protestations, Jesus states unless he, Peter, allows God to kneel in the dust and wash his feet, he cannot enter and participate in the Eucharistic meal. There can be no asserting of self and of rights here. The disciples, and we of course, are called likewise to the way of humility by allowing the Servant King to wash us in preparation for a meal such as this- a participation in Christ.

Jesus in this very act elevates the dignity of the lowly and despised and unseen; the disciples will never see a servant in the same light again as the servant now becomes an icon of Christ. Yet more importantly he reveals the very nature and shape of the Church’s ministry and mission.

Whenever the Church has forgotten this lesson and the People of God have courted power, it has always ended badly and obscured the Life of Christ within it.

The priest is not the Master of the Faith, its beliefs and liturgy, but rather called to be a faithful servant to it. The People of God also are not Masters of the Church’s mission or its liturgy but are asked in humility to be subject to it.

In this humble service of priest and people the life of Christ in this Eucharist is seen more clearly, is more tangible to our perception and deepens Christ’s life within us.

In the crisis that will engulf the disciples soon after this meal, it is these actions of Jesus that will provide the shape and meaning that emerges from the chaos to come. It is the anchor that will hold firm in the storm that threatens to overwhelm and obliterate us. Remember God kneeling in the dust, washing our feet and at table crying out “This is my body; this is my blood.” Divine love will arise from the chaos triumphant in the end.

Eastward facing?!

After Communion on the Monday after the Baptism of Christ

After Communion on the Monday after the Baptism of Christ

In the light of my own priestly formation, and the publication of the Ordinariate missal, can the eastward celebration of mass be justified?

Let’s be clear that despite what many think Vatican II didn’t rule out eastward facing celebrations of the mass. It is true that the question was raised as to whether facing East alienated the people and engenders a sort of clericalism — a danger to be avoided. Yet most of the Vatican II documents still assumed that mass celebrated facing the people would be the exception rather than the rule. The general instructions of the ‘Missals’, since Vatican II, also assume that mass would be celebrated Eastwards. I make this point not to denigrate mass celebrated facing the people, with its emphasis on imminent theology, God appearing in the midst of us, but to highlight the legitimate celebration of the mass facing Eastwards, with it emphasis on transcended cosmic theology, in which we ascend to the worship of heaven.

When the priest offers Mass facing eastwards, he is not turning his back on the people to exclude them. Rather he faces the same direction as the people, because he and the people together are offering worship and sacrifice to God. As a Christian community, all are facing ad orientem (i.e. toward the east) waiting in joyful expectation for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ who will return to judge the living and the dead. The priest also offers Mass in Christ’s name and in His Person, in persona Christi (where the identity if the particular priest is unimportant), to God the Father (listen carefully to the words of the mass and note how much is addressed to God the Father), and is leading his people in adoration and worship. He is facing east, the rising sun, which is symbolic of the ‘New Jerusalem’ and he is leading his flock as the Good Shepherd does.

The position of the priest then was not meant to separate the clergy from laity. Rather, it has more to do with the understanding of the Cosmic Liturgy. In early Christianity, all Churches were “oriented” toward the east, meaning that if you were sitting in the pews as a parishioner facing the altar, you would be pointing east. The rising of the Sun was seen in the early Church as a powerful symbol of the rising of the Son, Jesus Christ, from the tomb (ergo, the importance of a “Sunrise Service” on Easter Sunday). In light of this, (no pun intended) the priest and people would face east to symbolically “orient” their prayers to the risen Christ, not seeing the Sun as a god, but allowing the Sun to be a powerful symbol of the risen Christ.

To quote St. Augustine: “When we rise to pray, we turn east, where heaven begins. And we do this not because God is there, as if He had moved away from the other directions on earth…, but rather to help us remember to turn our mind towards a higher order, that is, to God.”

Fr Neil

The Ordinary writes on the Jubilee Year of Mercy

The Ordinary, the Rt Revd Msgr Keith Newton PA

The Ordinary, the Rt Revd Msgr Keith Newton PA

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

On Tuesday, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis opened the Holy Door at St Peter’s Basilica inaugurating the Jubilee Year of Mercy. During the year the Holy Father calls on us to gaze upon and experience the mercy that God freely offers, so that we may then be signs of the Father’s love and mercy to the world around us. Pope Francis, in Misericordiae vultus, the document which announced this Holy Year, tells us that ‘the practice of pilgrimage has a special place in the Holy Year’. He goes on to say a pilgrimage represents our journey through life and reminds us that God’s mercy is a goal to reach through dedication and sacrifice.

Pilgrimage holds a special place in the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. For many of us, pilgrimages to the shrine from which we take our name have been central to our spiritual life. Our entry into the full communion of the Catholic Church was in itself a pilgrimage – travelling together, often at some personal cost, to answer God’s call and to receive His grace. It is natural therefore that pilgrimage should be at the heart of our observance of the Year of Mercy.

For this Year of Mercy we have arranged a programme of pilgrimages. Alongside the pilgrimage to Rome and Loreto in May which has been announced previously, there will be two national events and four regional pilgrimages. The national events are the annual summer pilgrimage to Walsingham and an October pilgrimage to the shrine of Blessed John Newman in Birmingham (replacing for this year the Westminster festival). I very much encourage all of you to do your best to support these two important acts of witness. I hope, too, that you will be able to take part in one or more of the regional pilgrimages in Holywell, Crediton, St Andrews and Arundel. Pilgrimage booklets are being designed and there will be a DVD explaining pilgrimages and indulgences.

Other material being prepared for the Jubilee year includes devotions for the 24 Hours for the Lord, which the Holy Father has asked to be observed in Lent in all dioceses, and an Ascensiontide Novena. Again I would encourage you to participate fully in these initiatives which I am sure will be a great opportunity for us grow in faith together and to take our full part in the Church’s celebration of our Father’s boundless mercy.

With the assurance of my prayers,

Yours in Christ,

The Rt Revd Mgr Keith Newton

Advent viewed by an amateur astronomer.

This term our home ed. student has been studying astronomy, which means we stumbled on the “Catholic Astronomer” blog. In amongst posts on asteroid mining and telescopes there is on, this week on Advent. It is a beautiful reflection by a priest who also enjoys astronomy as a hobby. It is well worth a few minutes to read. Fr Neil said he thinks it should be required reading (Astronomy and theology test is on Sunday after mass!)