Archives for Eastbourne Ordinariate Mission

Practical help for the people of Ukraine

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

John 13:34–35

Ukrainian family via cbcew.org.ukDuring the offertory on Maundy Thursday there will be the opportunity to bring food and gifts for refugees from and within Ukraine. Tinned food, toiletries and perhaps small chocolate Easter eggs are particularly welcome. Monetary gifts will be channelled through Aid to the Church in Need.

See other articles about Ukraine.

Christ the saving Victim

Christ of St John of the Cross, Salvador Dali (1902–1989), 1952; Kelvingrove Art Gallery

Fr Neil’s homily after the Gospel of the Palms on Palm Sunday, 10 April 2022

What is written about me is coming to fulfilment.¹

We will hear these words of Christ in the Passion reading² that definitively reveals him as the true suffering servant whom the prophet Isaiah foretold³ and who is the long-expected Messiah. These words also point to the fact that everything that God has revealed in the law and the prophets is given its full meaning in Christ’s Passion.

The story of our salvation that we hear today is a journey which we are invited to participate in as we make our way carrying our palm branches.

As we make our journey with Christ to his passion we, on the one hand, do so as the crowd who sang “Hosanna to the Son of David,” and yet will later cry “Crucify! Crucify!”

There is the tradition of folding these palms into crosses. Doing this, we are reminding ourselves that we also journey with Christ carrying our own crosses. Our cross can often be the burden of bearing other people’s sinful acts but inescapably they are also crosses of our own making.

Christ was tormented, beaten, mocked, spat upon, had his hands and feet pierced, his garments stripped from him and gambled over by soldiers, and was three times dared to prove his true identity by delivering himself from suffering.

Christ could at any moment command twelve legions of angels to deliver him and defeat his enemies. But he doesn’t. What is it that keeps him on this road to Golgotha? It is not nails that hold Christ upon the cross but love. Loving obedience to the Father, love for the fallen world, compassion for broken humanity and a true faith that “The Lord God is my help…I shall not be put to shame.”⁴

With Christ’s crucifixion, the cross has been transformed from a sign of an instrument of torture into the badge which all Christians have, hold, exclaim and embrace, as it has been transformed into the way and means of our salvation and life.

It shows love triumphs over death. It call us to follow the example of Christ in humble obedience to the Father as we bear the trials and crosses of our life. It tells us that we shall never be forsaken by God and that one day we shall hears those words “today you will be with me in paradise.”⁵

¹ Luke 22:37
² Luke 22:14–23:56
³ Isaiah 50:4–7
⁴ Isaiah 50:7
⁵ Luke 23:43

Remember not past years

Woman caught in adultery, John Martin Borg (c.1954– )

Fr Neil’s homily for Passion Sunday, the Fifth Sunday of Lent, 3 April 2022

Remember not the former things…Behold I am doing a new thing.

In our first reading¹ we hear Isaiah’s words addressed to the people of Israel, while they were experiencing their darkest days.

The Exodus marked their liberty from the bondage of slavery, formed them into a nation and established them, by covenant, as the people of God. It would be no surprise that while they were under a new bondage in exile they look to the past.

It is somewhat surprising to hear Isaiah telling God’s people to “remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.” They are to look to what God is doing now not what he did in the past. “Behold I am doing a new thing…I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Through Isaiah, God declares that he will establish a new Exodus for his people.

This raises some interesting themes about our relationship to our ‘back stories’ and historical events in general. Knowing our history is vital. Without it we will never truly understand what makes us who we are in the present. History teaches us a great deal and enlightens with wisdom the ongoing decisions we make day to day.

The Exodus shaped the identity of a nation and could not be forgotten without their losing the real sense of who they were. Yet it is also easy to be stuck in the past. We can either be overwhelmed by the events that shaped us, to the point that we cannot escape the emotional turmoil of the past — or gaze back with rose tinted spectacles longing for the carefree days of past years.

We can never go back to put right the things that were wrong or to recreate the days of untroubled bliss. The past is not to put us into emotional and spiritual paralysis but to equip us to find the way of life in the present.

The first Exodus was meant to not only to shape a nation’s identity but also to prepare them for the new and even greater exodus that God was putting into place. Knowing the past, provided they were not in thrall to it, would enable them to see the signs and read the language of the movement of God in the present.

This new Exodus wasn’t to be their return from Exile. Instead it was to be found in the person and ministry of Christ that culminated in the passion that we will celebrate this coming Holy Week. Christ is the living water creating streams in the desert, and flowing from his pieced side is the wellspring of the sacraments of the Church.

The glory of the first exodus pales into insignificance in the light of the salvation won for all God’s people in the Passion of Christ. It is why Paul is able to “count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”²

We see something of this being played out in Christ’s encounter with the woman caught in adultery³. The woman is brought before Christ by his enemies as a means of trying to trap and entangle him so that they might find a reason to condemn him. The woman doesn’t deny her sin; it is not hidden but has been put on public display. The law states that she should be stoned. Christ doesn’t deny the commandment. Rather he starts writing on the ground, and much speculation has gone into what he was writing. It may well be that he wrote out the Decalogue, the Ten Commandments and in so doing led a sort of examination of conscience. “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

To give the crowd their due they all slowly melted away, beginning with the wisest among them. In their actions they realised that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. The woman is left facing Christ alone. He is the only one who could with right judgment condemn her sinful actions. To look Christ in the eyes when our sins are as scarlet before him is no easy thing to do. There is no hiding place. Is it not one of the reasons why the confessional is often so poorly used?

Although we are not privy to it there must have been proper contrition on behalf of the woman. Adultery is a serious sin that creates waves of devastation for the partners, children, wider family and community. One has to live with the consequence of our actions here and in purgatory. Sin is a past action that shapes our lives in the present.

Yet when no one is found to condemn the woman Christ states these most beautiful words; “neither do I condemn you.” This echoes his early words that “God sent the Son into the world not to condemn the world but that the world might be saved through him.”⁴

The woman’s adultery and its consequences cannot be undone but she is not to be held captive to it. Absolution frees the sinner from being bound to the faults of the past alone and opens a way to a renewed future. A key to embracing that new future is our Lord’s final words to the woman: “Go and do not sin again.”

A choice is given at this moment to either go back to old habits, and wallow in the pains and bondage of the past, or take the opportunity given and enter the new exodus, walking the way of life with Christ. The choice of life is why Paul so passionately proclaims that “For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ.”⁵ And “I press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”⁶

Given that choice, I wonder which we will choose?

¹ Isaiah 43:16–21
² Philippians 3:8
³ John 8:1–11
⁴ John 3:17
⁵ Philippians 3:9
⁶ Philippians 3:14

The editorial title comes from Newman’s hymn Lead, kindly Light.

Turn from our wickedness and live

Christ and the Barren Fig-tree, Giandomenico Tiepolo (1727–1804); private collection via Christie’s

Fr Neil’s homily for the Third Sunday of Lent, 20 March 2022

Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.¹

In the gospel reading we are introduced to some our Lord’s thoughts on suffering.

The events in Ukraine raise all sorts of questions about the nature of suffering which are difficult to address. “If God is good and loving why does he allow suffering in the world?” is certainly a question we might have asked ourselves or heard someone else do so in the light of difficult events.

Christ addresses three forms of suffering. The first is the suffering of the innocent at the behest of the powerful. The example brought to Christ is Pilate’s murder of the Galileans² and the act of desecration by mingling their blood with their sacrifice. Putin and the war in Ukraine has similar overtones.

Of course we are aware of the spiritual principle, ‘what you sow is what you reap.’³ In general, if one is generous and kindly one seems to get kindliness in return, even though a smile doesn’t always guarantee a smile in return. Yet if we go about growling at people we are certainly more likely to get negative responses in return.

When things do go wrong we cannot help but ask, “What did I do to deserve this?” Or perhaps more sadly we conclude that the bad things that happen are a punishment from God for previous mistakes and sins.

At the time of Christ, many saw any prosperous blessing and any disaster as a consequence of either virtuous or sinful acts of living. One has only to reflect on Job’s comforters⁴ and the reaction of the disciple to Christ’s teaching that it was easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into the kingdom of heaven⁵. They were bewildered because if the rich — who in their minds were blessed by God — couldn’t get into the kingdom, what hope was there for the rest of us?

Christ directly addresses this simplistic and wrong way of thinking. The Galileans suffered not because they were somehow worse sinners than any other Galileans but because they were victims of other people’s sins. In this case they suffered at the corrupt political hands of Pilate, the same Pilate who would wash the same hands when Christ was before him, in an attempt to evade the responsibility for an innocent man’s life.

Quite simply, some people suffer because of the sinful acts or omissions of other people.

The second form of suffering is contingent on being a physical creature in a world of time and space. The tower of Siloam which fell and killed eighteen people⁶ happened, most likely, through faulty engineering and gravity. There is no moral cause; yet at times we feel it to be unjust and cruel. We might indeed shake our fists at God and ask, “Why me?” Often diseases, disability, accidents and some fatalities fall into this category. Quite simply I might walk out of this church and get run over by the proverbial bus and it be no one’s fault.

Yet our often misapplied sense of injustice in these cases reveals a deeply held notion of a moral code of good and evil, right and wrong. It points to something which lies above and beyond ourselves to which we might appeal.

The pure materialist and atheist cannot logically rail against such incidents and must feel no sense of outrage or injustice, grief or sorrow, but an emotionless acceptance of mere physics. To be such a person would appear, to most other people, to be acting in a sort of sociopathic manner showing no empathy for other people’s grief and sorrow.

Christ wishes to lead us through this maze of human experience and point us to a deeper truth that we are in danger of missing. He wishes us not to see God’s judgement where actually it isn’t and look at the things that do fall under God’s judgement. The third suffering and death is where we need to focus our attention. Christ uses the parable of the fruitless fig tree⁷ to make his point.

It is a powerful image that resonates with the language of the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah speaks about the nation of Israel as a fruitless vineyard⁸ despite every thing that God has done to enable the plants to flourish and grow, yet they bore no fruit. The parable speaks of the fig tree that, bearing no fruit, should be dug up and thrown away, yet the gardener pleads for one last chance; and if still after another year it bears no fruit, then it can be dug up.

Christ wants us to ask ourselves whether or not we are bearing the fruit associated with the kingdom of God. For a fig tree to be itself and fulfil its true being then it needs to bring forth fruit. The death that we need to truly fear is the second death that comes when God calls all of us to account for the manner in which we have lived our lives.

Have we turned to God with sorrow for our sin? Are we making reparation and amendments for our failings? Do we call with tears upon God for his merciful love that transforms our lives towards holiness or do we just presume upon his grace?

God desireth not the death of a sinner but rather that he turn from his wickedness and live⁹. Christ has revealed upon the Cross the heart of the Father, who longs for our salvation. To be open to receive the Holy Spirit enables us by his grace to be blessed with the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Love. The Spirit also strengths the cardinal virtues of Justice, Wisdom, Courage and Temperance. To feed these virtues is to bear fruit in keeping with our calling to eternal life and makes ready our soul for heavenly glory.

¹ 1 Corinthians 10:12
² Luke 13:1
³ Galatians 6:7
⁴ eg Job 4:7
⁵ Matthew 19:24–25
⁶ Luke 13:4
⁷ Luke 13:6–9
⁸ Isaiah 5:1–7
Divine Worship: Daily Office; from the Absolution in the Introduction to Morning and Evening Prayer (p373)

From the Ordinary: March 2022

Msgr Keith Newton

Dear Brothers and Sisters

I am sending this out the day before the Solemnity of the Annunciation when Catholics across the whole world will, together with Pope Francis, consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate heart of Mary. In his letter to all bishops the Holy Father says:Pope Francis (Image: AP)

This Act of Consecration is meant to be a gesture of the universal Church, which in this dramatic moment lifts up to God, through his Mother and ours, the cry of pain of all those who suffer and implore an end to the violence, and to entrust the future of our human family to the Queen of Peace. I ask you to join in this Act by inviting the priests, religious and faithful to assemble in their churches and places of prayer on 25 March, so that God’s Holy People may raise a heartfelt and choral plea to Mary our Mother.

This is an important event and I hope all of you will find an opportunity to take part. The situation in Ukraine has affected us all. The devastation and suffering in some parts of Ukraine is unbelievable. Please pray earnestly for an end to this terrible conflict.

Mgr Keith

Ordination of Father Neil Scott

Thank you for all those who supported Fr Neil Scott on the day of his ordination. It was a splendid occasion and a good number of people have watched it online.

Dates for your diary

Our Chrism Mass will take place on Thursday 7 April at Our Lady of the Assumption, Warwick Street celebrated by His Excellency, Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, the Apostolic Nuncio. It is an important day in the life of the Ordinariate so I hope many of you will make the effort to get there.

Risen, Ascended, Glorified: 17–19 May. A conference and celebration of faith, hosted by the Ordinariate church and congregation in Torbay with biblical reflections form Fr Michael Nazir-Ali. This is an event for both clergy and laity: all are welcome to join together for a few days to celebrate our Easter faith. The cost for food is only £30 per head but participants need to book their own bed and breakfast accommodation. Booking details and the time table can be found at https://www.ourladyofwalsingham.online/risen-ascended-glorified.

Ordinariate Pilgrimage to Walsingham: Saturday 27 August. We have changed the date of the Ordinariate pilgrimage to Walsingham to the August bank holiday weekend as we wanted to give the opportunity for people to attend the March for Life which will take place the following Saturday. Last year these two dates clashed, and I am sure that you will agree that the Ordinariate’s presence is important in this event where we witness to the value of human life. There were quite a good number of people who came to the pilgrimage to Walsingham in September last year, but not many clergy unfortunately including myself as I was isolating with covid. I hope you will try to be there this year and encourage others to make the pilgrimage.

March for Life in London: Saturday 3 September. This is something the Ordinariate should support. There will be more details nearer the time.

Catholic Voices Catholic Voices and the Word on Fire Institute are hosting a one-day conference called Sharing the Church’s Story. It will take place at the Friends House (opposite Euston Station) on Saturday 17 September, 9.00am–6.00pm and the keynote addresses will be given by Bishop Robert Barron. The vision of the conference is to bring people together in person for an experience of profound personal renewal and to be equipped for mission. Sharing the Church’s Story will be gathering up to a thousand Catholics — lay and ordained — who are passionate about the renewal of the Church in the UK. Put the date in your diary.

Yours in Christ

Mgr Keith Newton
Ordinary

From death to life

The Children of Israel crossing the Red Sea, Frédéric Schopin (1804–1880), c.1855; Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

Fr Neil’s homily for the Second Sunday of Lent, 13 March 2022

Two men talked with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem.¹

One of the fundamental questions that we ask ourselves as human beings is: ‘What is my purpose in life?’, or we might rephrase it to ‘what is my mission?’ This is an important question to ask, but if we are to begin to answer it we have to first ask ‘Who am I?’ Knowing who we are will better inform the question, ‘what is my mission?’

At Christ’s baptism, the voice of the Father declares to him “You are my Son, the beloved.” As the Son of God, called to be the anointed one, he is able to resist the temptations of the devil and walk the way set before him by the Father. His baptism takes place at the Jordan, where the Exodus led by Moses comes to its end. This place marked the beginning of his public ministry, and points to a second exodus.

Only in Luke’s account do we get an inside view on what Moses and Elijah were speaking to Christ about at the transfiguration. They spoke of his ‘passing’ or ‘departure’. The Greek word used here, however, is εξοδος — literally and better translated as exodus. Christ was going to accomplish a second exodus at Jerusalem. Knowing that he was Son of God and anointed messiah, reaffirmed by the Father again, here he unfolds the purpose of his mission to the disciples.

The idea of an Exodus story seems to be written into our human thinking. The themes of captivity, freedom, justice rooted in a moral code, and a movement towards a land flowing with milk and honey, plays itself out in most of our lives. The exodus is experienced and longed for, consciously or not. Movements between lands, schools, jobs, friendships, families, and marriages all carry something of the rhythm of exodus and the longing for a space of unitive love.

These mini journeys take their shape and meaning from the three great exodus journeys decreed by the divine. Each flows from one and leads into the next, illuminating the divine will with ever greater clarity. Each carries the essential themes of liberty, justice, and a longing for a relationship with the Father.

Without the first great Exodus there would be no language and story of liberation from the house of bondage, no justice articulating right from wrong, no Israel. If there were no Jewish people, there would be no Christ. Without the first Exodus we cannot understand what Christ is doing and would be blind to the second exodus that he accomplishes.

The second great exodus is Christ’s mission. He takes on the form of a slave; like all humanity he enters into the temporal realm of sin and death, the Devil’s domain. Just as Israel went through the waters of death, portrayed by the Red Sea that swallowed up the Egyptians, so Christ embraces death on the cross. His rising on the third day and ascension into heaven marks his entry into his heavenly glory. He opens the way for the third great exodus.

That third great Exodus is our own spiritual journey from death to life. We are born into in a house of bondage, due to original sin. Our crying-out in faith to Christ brings the blood of the Lamb to cover us. As we enter death and rebirth through baptism, death passes over. We, by God’s grace, pass through the water so that we might become a part of the people of God. By offering our worship to God, and leading our lives by the church’s moral law, we are taking up the call to holiness so that we might be known as the people of God. Like the manna that fed the Israelites in the desert, we are fed on the bread from heaven in the form of the Eucharist, which is Christ our Lord. The Eucharist sustains us as the pilgrim people of God on the journey to that final entry, after our physical death, into the fulness of our heavenly homeland. That which we have glimpsed, touched, and tasted will be revealed in all its wonder in the company of Mary, the saints, and all the angels.

These three great Exoduses are essential to answer ‘who am I?’ and ‘what is my mission?’ We become aware that we are not the centre of our own stories, where everyone else is simply playing minor parts. Where “I” am the central protagonist, we play out what Bishop Robert Barron calls an ‘ego drama’², which always ends in disaster. An individual journey aimed at liberty marked by self-formed moral codes will always end in greater bondage. Rather than finding a greater abundance of life, we find death reigns. Putin might be a powerful example of this ‘ego drama’ played out on a grand scale.

What the exodus stories tell me is that I will only truly understand who I am if I realise that I am not the centre of the story, but a part of God’s story. My story then moves from ego drama to Theo-drama². The transfiguration reveals with dynamic clarity that Christ is the main protagonist of my story, defining the role I play and revealing my mission in life. Here we glimpse the divine nature of Christ while Moses and Elijah represent the story of salvation history — God’s purpose and will for us. Our lives are momentary stories written on a canvas that reaches from the beginning of Creation to the full appearance of the eternal heavenly glory.

Seeing the revelation of the Transfiguration shows me who Christ is and what his mission was. In the light of this story of God, there is revealed something about who I am and what my purpose is. We are the object of God’s desire who, in an act of utter love, reaches out to us in our house of bondage. The moral law of the Church is then not a new structure to be fought against, but the means of liberty and abundance of life. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit enables us to become temples for his presence, and a means of holiness and radiant light. In God’s story we are called to make a transformation, the science of the saints, reflecting the radiant light of Christ as we long for the full embrace of our Heavenly Father.

¹ Luke 9:30–31
² Barron, Bp Robert: interview with Robert Orlando reported by Joseph Serwach on medium.com 1 November 2019