The blind leading the blind.

Dear Friends,

We are familiar with the phrase ‘the blind leading the blind’ – to speak of those who are being lead by a person of way of thinking that leads no where but up a blind alley or head long into disaster, without anyone realising.

There is great irony in the gospel story today. Blind Bartimaeus is healed by Jesus, his last act of healing before entering Jerusalem, on his final week before his crucifixion. The irony lies in that, apart from Jesus’ disciples, Bartimaeus, the blind man, is the only one who sees Jesus for who he really is – the expected Davidic Messiah. All the sighted people were blind and unable to see who Jesus was. It was the physically blind Bartimaeus who showed the spiritually blind people who was in their presence.

How easy for us to not see Jesus as he passes by in the broken, the needy and the difficult member of the family! Maybe like Bartimaeus we need to cry out to the Lord to open our eyes to see the Lord in our midst, not only in others but also his true presence in the Holy Eucharist – “open my eyes Lord that I might see and be saved!”

Blessing Fr Neil

    A meeting of the three Ordinaries.

    This last week the priests of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham gathered at our spiritual home at England’s Nazareth, Walsingham. It was a special meeting as it was part of the annual gathering of the three ordinaries. Mgr Keith Newton was joined by Bishop Stephen Lopes, the Ordinary of The Chair of St Peter in America and Mgr Harry Entwhistle, the Ordinary of Our Lady of the Southern Cross in Australia.

    The 24 hours together began with mass according to Divine Worship, at the Basilica in the Chapel of Reconciliation. Mgr Keith was chief celebrant and Bishop Stephen Lopes preached. A presentation was given in the afternoon about ‘virtue ethics’ by Fr Alban McCoy OFM. This was good, solid teaching. It was timely in the present debate, or lack thereof, in the West about sexual ethics and the uncritical acceptance of ‘Gender Theory’.

    Fr Thomas Mason, Fr James Brady and I visited the studios of EWTNGB in Market Square. The operation is very impressive and production is now close to 70% original to this country. We also did a few voice tests, having to ad-lib a few short prayers and reflections with the possibility of providing lent reflections for next year – watch this space!

    We sang much of morning and evening prayer, based on the Customary, together in the church of The Annunciation – which was powerful and moving. It confirmed that the branch that was cut from the vine has been grafted back in again and given new and vibrant life.

    Towards the end of our time together, there was a question and answer session with the three Ordinaries. It was interesting to see, while having much in common, how in different contexts each Ordinariate was seeking to express its patrimony with their particular joys and challenges. For example Mgr Harry Entwhistle shared the hopes and difficulties of having two small groups in Japan and an exploratory group from the Philippines under his care!

    We all left encouraged and hopeful to see the Holy Spirit at work leading us in fulfilling our mission.

    Fr Neil.

      For men it is impossible, but not for God: because everything is possible for God.

      Dear friends,
      We often get puzzled over our Lord’s comments about camels and the eye of a needle, and because we’re thinking about this we forget what it’s leading up to. Christ makes the contrast not so much between the rich and the poor, but between the rich and God. The rich here, therefore, are those who look to their wealth rather than to God. As though their wealth is going to help them, as though it is a sign that God is pleased with them.

      But Christ’s vision, is that we don’t look to ourselves, we look to God – we have to look to him if we’re going to enter the kingdom of God. God is more than happy to lead us, with our camel, through the eye of a needle, but only if we do things his way. If we try this under our own power, then we’re going to spend the rest of our lives peering at needles and camels. If we turn to God, then he will guide us, but we have to be ready to follow his path rather than our own. We need to surrender to his plans for us.

      Blessings, Fr Thomas.

        “It is not good for man to be alone.”

        19th Sunday after Trinity (27th in Ordinary Time)

        Dear friends,
        These words of God are spoken in the story of our creation, at the beginning of our existence. It reveals a fundamental truth about what it is to be human. We are social creatures and in printed into our DNA is the need to be in relationship and have communion with others.
        The irony of our modern world is that there are more people doing more things at a quicker rate than any other generation before us. Yet despite this busyness and constant noise and chatter the number of people who feel isolated, rejected, ignored and alone is greater than ever.
        From the very get go the most intimate human relationship of a husband and wife is marked as a sacrament; ‘the two shall become one flesh’ and ‘what God has joined let no-one put asunder.’ It is in the act of love making that a person encounters another at their most vulnerable intimate self. There is an engagement at a level that should be exclusive and precious to the husband and wife alone and requires a deep level of trust and faith.
        Jesus’ fierce defence of marriage in the gospel is because it images the intimate relationship of trust, faith and communion that we are called to in our spiritual discipleship. Our relationship to the body of Christ is one of sacramental intimacy.
        Blessings, Fr Neil

          Adoremus Liverpool

          A couple of weeks ago Sheila and Fr Thomas went to the Adoremus Congress in Liverpool. Some of the details and talks can be found on the Catholic News website.

          Following the pilgrimage, Sheila gave a report after mass, over cake:

          As you may know I attended the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage and conference in Liverpool last weekend. This conference was attended by 10,000 people ending with a procession of the Blessed Sacrament. During the two days, there were many interesting presentations, testimonies (especially those given by three University students) and talks given on so many aspects of the Eucharist.

          There is one in particular that I would like to tell you about, one that we can do something practical about. It was given by representatives from Aid to the Church in Need. We can make donations to this worthwhile cause and have had second collections to support their work but ACN are asking us to do something practical: attend Adoration for somebody who can’t attend themselves. We are so fortunate to be able to attend Eucharistc Adoration without being in fear of our lives. Can I urge you to attend Adoration in the name of one of those people as they cannot attend for themselves?

          Sheila read out some examples and there are cards available, giving details or you can use the case studies on the ACN website.

            Happy Michaelmas!

            Today is the feast that, in our Anglican days we called St Michael and All Angels. Now we have to get used to it being the feast of the archangels, St Michael, St Gabriel and St Raphael. There are some lovely folk traditions associated with this feast and we use the recipes from the Lavender and Lovage blog. This year I have forgotten to get blackberries so will have to hunt some out!

            One of the passages in the Office of Readings this morning was from a sermon by St Gregory the Great explaining that angels are angels by their function, rather than nature.

            Some angels are given proper names to denote the service they are empowered to perform. In that holy city, where perfect knowledge flows from the vision of almighty God, those who have no names may easily be known. But personal names are assigned to some, not because they could not be known without them, but rather to denote their ministry when they came among us. Thus, Michael means “Who is like God”; Gabriel is “The Strength of God”; and Raphael is “God’s Remedy.”

            Today is a good day to remind us that we can ask the Archangels for their prayers. The prayer to St Michael is probably the most famous and is prayed at the end of our said masses. There is a very lovely prayer to St Raphael to ask for his intercession for healing:

            Glorious Archangel St. Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, you are illustrious for your gifts of wisdom and grace. You are a guide of those who journey by land or sea or air, consoler of the afflicted, and refuge of sinners. I beg you, assist me in all my needs and in all the sufferings of this life, as once you helped the young Tobias on his travels. Because you are the “medicine of God” I humbly pray you to heal the many infirmities of my soul and the ills that afflict my body. I especially ask of you the favour [here mention your special intention], and the great grace of purity to prepare me to be the temple of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

            And for those who like a little philosophy with your blackberries, we enjoy reading Peter Kreeft’s article about Angels.

            However you choose to celebrate, have a happy Michaelmas!