Canonisation of Blessed John Paul II and Blessed John XXIII

Request for Prayers and Masses

I would like to request your charitable prayers, and for those Priests who read this blog to remember at Mass T who has been given a diagnosis of terminal cancer of the stomach which may have spread to his liver and lungs. Your prayers and masses are also requested for his family, especially his wife, children and grandchildren at this very difficult time.

God our Father, your Son accepted our sufferings to teach us the virtue of patience in human illness. Hear the prayers we offer for our sick brother. May all who suffer pain, illness, or disease realize that they have been chosen to be saints and know that they are joined to Christ in his suffering for the salvation of the world. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Father in heaven, grant T comfort in his suffering. Give him courage when afraid, patience when afflicted, hope when dejected, and when alone assure him of the prayerful support of your holy people. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Compassionate St Anthony, you are called the “Miracle Worker” by those who have been blessed by your special friendship. I ask you to look with favour on T who is weak and failing.

Great St Anthony, come to the assistance of T. Obtain for him the strength to accept all suffering in union with Christ our Saviour.

Loving St Anthony, console all those who are afflicted and guide them to the heart of the Divine Physician, where they will obtain compassion, mercy and hope.  Amen.

 

My Homily for Good Friday – adapted from one I found on the web; haven’t been able to find the original again to give the appropriate credit,  but my thanks to the original author who, if memory serves, is a pastor in Washington DC.

Priestly Fraternity of the Dowry of Mary

Homily by Fr Charles FSDM at the Fraternity’s celebration of the Solemn Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday, 29 March 2013.

Around Good Friday in 1373, an Englishwoman was stricken by the plague, and facing what she thought would be her own death.  Much of her life is a mystery.  We do not know if she was single or married, but if she had been married before that fateful season, the illness that sickened her took her husband and children.  We know she did not die, but recovered by early May.  Her baptismal name is not recorded, but we know her better by her adopted name. She is remembered as one of the greatest of all English mystics. We know her as Julian of Norwich

In her long-ago fevered haze, Julian received a series of visions of Jesus, which she wrote down in a book entitled Sixteen Revelations…

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Sede Vacante

The See of St Peter is vacant. Tempus Sede Vacante, to use the Latin phrase. After almost eight years as Bishop of Rome, His Holiness Benedict XVI has retired to a life of contemplation and prayer.

Monsignor Alban has blogged his thoughts and wishes for the Pope emeritus, and I agree with all that he says. After a lifetime of service to the Roman Catholic Church, it is only right that Benedict XVI should not only have been able to, but did take the momentous decision that he did to step down, to allow the Roman Church to be led by a younger man, with more mental and physical strength. In that way, he is able to keep any so-called “power vacuum” to an absolute minimum, unlike the dignified yet gruelling sight of the slow, painful demise of Blessed John Paul II.

It has been suggested in some places that the Church is now being run by the former Pope’s Deputy. No such thing. These statements are being made by people who clearly do not understand how the Roman Church operates, both during a Papacy and during tempus Sede Vacante. First and foremost, there never has been, nor will there ever be, a “Deputy Pope”. The most senior member of the Roman Curia, the Cardinal Secretary of State (Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone) functions during the period of a Papacy as the Vatican City’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.

Immediately upon the death, or resignation, of the Pope, the running of the Church devolves to the College of Cardinals. The Cardinal Secretary of State then assumes the role and responsibilities as Cardinal Camerlengo (Chamberlain) – and his responsibility is no more than to oversee certain – limited – administrative functions in preparation for the Conclave and to ensure that the Vatican City State continues to run.

He is in charge of all the physical preparations for the Conclave; but the Conclave itself is run by the Dean of the Sacred College (Cardinal Angelo Sodano). However, as Cardinal Sodano is over the age of 80 he is not eligible to take part in the Conclave, so his place as, if you like, chairman of the Conclave once the Cardinal Electors are sequestered in the Sistine Chapel, will be taken by the Vice-Dean, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re.

There are 117 Cardinals under the age of 80 who are eligible to participate and vote in the Conclave. We know that two of these will not be taking part: one of these is the former Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, Cardinal Keith O’Brien who resigned following the recent allegations of improper conduct towards seminarians and priests.

So who will be the new Bishop of Rome? Nobody knows. The world’s media are very keen to state that this Cardinal or that Cardinal is the so-called “favourite”; but there is an old saying within Vatican-watchers: “He who enters the Conclave as pope, comes out a Cardinal“. But there have been instances of one of the papabili being elected, from within the last century:

And of the non-papabili who were elected in the last hundred or so years:

In most recent history, the elections of both John Paul I and Blessed John Paul II took the world by complete surprise. In the 1958, 1963 and both 1978 Conclaves, Cardinal Siri of Genoa was widely expected to be elected; then in both 1978 Conclaves Cardinal Benelli of Florence was also considered a front-runner.

During the 2005 Conclave there were two further papabile who were widely expected to be elected: Cardinal Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments; and Cardinal Martini of Milan.

So what of the forthcoming Conclave? Depending on who you talk to, the next Bishop of Rome will be either Cardinal Turkson, or Cardinal Arinze, or Cardinal Ouellet, or Cardinal Schönborn, or Cardinal Scola…. but then again, it could be none of these. We wait to see who the Holy Spirit guides the Cardinal Electors to choose.

But what do I, as an Independent Catholic Priest, want from the next Bishop of Rome? I will blog about my thoughts over the next few weeks, as well as attempting to provide a commentary on the seemingly arcane happenings in Rome.

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Prayer Requests

Of your charity, please pray for:

T, who has just undergone major surgery and is in a critical condition in hospital;

and for the Repose of the Soul of J, who passed away today, 21st February in Mauritius. Eternal Rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.

Prayer Request

Of your charity, please pray for T, who needs major and serious surgery, the surgery having already been postponed twice. Also for his family and extended family who love him and hate to see him suffering.

God our Father, your Son accepted our sufferings to teach us the virtue of patience in human illness. Hear the prayers we offer for our sick brother. May all who suffer pain, illness, or disease realize that they have been chosen to be saints and know that they are joined to Christ in his suffering for the salvation of the world. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Father in heaven, grant T comfort in his suffering. Give him courage when afraid, patience when afflicted, hope when dejected, and when alone assure him of the prayerful support of your holy people. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Compassionate St Anthony, you are called the “Miracle Worker” by those who have been blessed by your special friendship. I ask you to look with favour on T who is weak and failing.

Great St Anthony, come to the assistance of T. Obtain for him health in mind and body, and the strength to accept all suffering in union with Christ our Saviour.

Loving St Anthony, console all those who are afflicted and guide them to the heart of the Divine Physician, where they will obtain compassion, mercy and hope.  Amen.


The Greatest of these is Love

This is the text of a homily on the Readings for the Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time and first published on the website of the Priestly Fraternity of the Dowry of Mary.

Fr Charles FSDM VGchristiansequalmarriage5

In last Sunday’s Second Reading we hear the famous passage from St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, which is a favourite chosen by so many couples for their Wedding Service – whichever Christian denomination they belong to, whichever Church they get married in.

The words St Paul chooses to describe love – always patient and kind, never jealous, boastful or conceited, never rude or selfish, does not take offence and is not resentful; taking no pleasure in other peoples’ sins but delighting in the truth, always ready to excuse, trust, hope and endure whatever comes – sum up perfectly what being married is all about.

This afternoon, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill will have its Second Reading in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament. Coincidence? Or Divine intervention in the timing of the passage of the Bill through Parliament?

We have heard much in recent months from the Roman Catholic Hierarchy of England and Wales, and of Scotland, expressing their out-and-out opposition to the Bill and to what they describe as “the re-definition of marriage”. They trot out the old argument that the “sole purpose” of marriage is the procreation of children, therefore because same-sex couples can’t have children by the “natural method” then they can’t get married.

It’s not about the “sex thing” – what anybody, gay or straight, chooses to do in the privacy of their own home is nobody else’s business but their own and really shouldn’t be part of the debate. It is about the right of any couple to have their love and commitment celebrated and legally recognised.

But what about the love? What about the express desire on the part of the couple getting married to commit themselves to each other for life, to the exclusion of all others, for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health? Does that no longer matter, or is marriage just supposed to be some sort of baby-making factory? Listening to some of the invective, you’d think that it was. “The purpose of marriage is to have babies, same sex couples can’t have babies, so they can’t be married”.

Well what about an opposite-sex couple who for whatever reason are unable to have children? Does this mean that they can’t be married? Case of trying to have your cake and eat it on the part of the Bishops one thinks.

Having more-or-less lost the argument over same-sex couples not being able to procreate – or, rather, should I say, given the fact that most of the population seems to have had enough of the line being trotted out, the anti-equal marriage brigades are now trying to claim that there is no mandate, that it was never in any Party manifesto at the last General Election.

Complete and utter rot.  Equal marriage was mentioned – to great applause – by David Cameron in his first Party Conference speech as Leader of the Conservative Party. It formed part of the Conservative Party’s Manifesto for Equalities. It has been official Liberal Democrat policy for years. The political commentator Iain Dale very successfully, and succinctly debunks the “no mandate” notion in an open letter to Members of Parliament on his website.

As an Independent Catholic Priest I have for a long time been convinced that the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England have got the whole equal marriage thing wrong. And I remain convinced of that. If two people – regardless of sexual status or orientation – wish to make a lifelong, loving commitment to one another, then they should as a matter of basic human rights be allowed to have that commitment fully recognised by the State, and if they so wish, to be married by a Priest or Minister who is happy and able to perform the ceremony for them.

In demanding that the Bill be voted down, the Roman Bishops are seeking to impose their will on those denominations and faiths who do wish to be able to make marriage open to all. That, to me, does not spread the message of a God of Love sitting on a Throne of Grace. Maybe they need to take a good hard look at history – why did the Reformation happen in the first place? Why are Independent and National Catholic Churches springing up all over the world, remaining Catholic but separate from Rome? Thinking for yourself never was encouraged by the Roman Church. Those who did usually ended up as victims of the Inquisition.

If we look around the world, there are a number of nations which have equal marriage on their statute books. Have the heavens opened and God inflicted a terrible vengeance on them? Has the fabric of society been torn apart? Has the family been weakened in any way? No, No and No.

We have to remember that it took a very long time for the Roman Catholic Church to realise that the likes of Galileo and Copernicus were right, that the earth isn’t flat, that it doesn’t sit at the centre of the Universe with everything else rotating around it

We are constantly being reminded by God that all are equal in His eyes. Time for that to be remembered.

Let us all pray today that this afternoon’s Debate in the House of Commons brings out the best in people, not the worst.

A friend composed the following prayer:

Heavenly Father,
We thank you for the gift of love, which you created at the dawn of time, to be a blessing for all generations throughout the earth, and an earthly reflection of Your passionate, possessive, jealous love for us through all the ages.

We pray that you would fill each and every marriage with your love and grace, and that every husband and wife would know the joy that comes from sharing and giving.

We know, Lord, that every marriage is a model of Your love for us, but that it exists in this varied, evolving, finite, flawed world, that is created as You have seen fit. We thus ask Your blessing upon all married people, and upon all those whose love makes their union blessed and sacramental in Your eyes.

We thank you for all those who create homes and families of love, and wish to join with You in the Creation and Sustenance of all our children, especially those who chose to offer their parental love to those who are not their physical children. We see in Your Word so many examples of intense love between those who are bonded by commitment and choice, that we know that you live in ALL our families, whether they be Families of Birth, or Families of Choice.

We pray for all those who do not enjoy those blessings, remembering that you are Father and Mother to us all, especially the orphaned, and Husband and Wife to us all, especially to those who live lives of solitude, either by choice or destiny.

We pray, as you have commanded us, for those in positions of civil authority.
We pray that our Government will act with wisdom and righteousness, celebrating marriage as the recognition of lifelong love and commitment for all.
We pray for forgiveness for our nation, for a past in which our Government has sought to make evil out of love, and to create artificial differences between Your Children, among whom we know You see not male or female, nor slave or citizen.

And we pray for ourselves, that we would speak out in support of marriage for all with gentleness and kindness, but also with courage and confidence.

In the name of Christ Jesus, and the spirit of Ruth and Naomi and Jonathan and David, our Lord, we pray.
Amen.

May the Holy Spirit be with our Members of Parliament during their debate, and may Almighty God bless them all.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.