Wednesday, 22 November 2017

BoB - The Most Holy Rosary

The Most Holy Rosary

I preached last weekend on the Holy Rosary, and I thought that it might be a nice thing to have the Rosary bubbling in the background of these bulletins. So week by week I will take the mysteries and write something about each of them. Of course other things will intervene, but that is alright. The Rosary follows a sequence of the life, death and resurrection of Our Lord, but we know it well enough to be able to dip in and out.

Some people know the Rosary inside out, but it is one of those things that seems to have fallen out of fashion recently, so I will try to make sure that there are leaflets on how to say the Rosary in St Michael’s and Our Lady’s. If you have forgotten, or want a refresher, just take one.

The Rosary was revealed to St Dominic in 1214 to fight against the Albigensian heresy. This was a complex series of beliefs, but at the core it rejected the sacramental life of the Church (including Holy Mass), and believed that once individuals had received a full remission of their sins, then they became perfect. They believed that the world was evil, so ate only the plainest of foods, and rejected marriage and all that went with it. It may seem strange to us that anyone was attracted to this kind of life, but in the Middle Ages it provided a way for someone to escape the harsh realities of life by being a member of something special and extraordinary, something perfect. If we are honest, there is always a temptation in Christianity to make it a holy huddle of the elect. But this is not Catholic. We, with our faults and failings are called to a life of perfection, yes; but with the sure knowledge that God will forgive our sins. Perhaps that was the worst part of the Albigensian heresy. Once your sins were forgiven (though really they were not),  then that was it. With then you only got one chance. But God’s love is infinite, and He waits for us to turn to Him again and again.

So how was the Rosary a weapon in the war against this corruption of the faith? Well, it made us meditate on the life of Christ and showed us that if God Himself took human flesh, then flesh could not be corrupt and wicked. And that if Our Lord loved His mother (the highest honour of our race) with a perfect love, then how could we spurn the delight of life? The Rosary reconnects the soul with the world, and with God. It shows His humanity and His abiding love for  us. It tells us that we are always part of His creation - to love, and to be loved.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Do we still believe in the Devil

In the last issue, I asked ‘Do we still believe in angels’ and said that in this edition I would ask the same question about the Devil. It is always with some trepidation that the subject of the Devil is raised, and rightly so. If what we believe about the Devil is true, then not only should be use a long spoon when supping with him, but we should tread carefully even when discussing him.

The first and most important thing to say about the Devil is that he exists. This is not a philosophical statement, or one that comes from clever arguments: no, it comes from the Sacred Scriptures themselves, and more importantly, the reality of his existence must have come from Christ Himself. In the Gospel of St Matthew we hear of the temptation in the wilderness – “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil.” (Matthew 4.1) By the very nature of the account, Jesus was alone in the wilderness. So, if anyone else knows about what happened, Our Lord must have told them. If Christ was tempted by Satan (the Adversary), then the Devil must exist.

By sacred tradition, Satan is the brightest of angels, who because of pride and jealousy of human beings, rebelled against God and fled from God’s sight, bringing with him a third of all the angelic beings. It is they who will fight until the end of time in rebellion against God. And the object of their fight, the goal of the battle, is the human soul. It was because we were created, and the Incarnation would take place, that Satan fought against God. The way the Devil thinks he can hurt God is to drag us from going to Heaven, so that we can abide with him forever in perdition, in Hell.

Of course, if it were a fair and a clear fight, then we would be on our guard. When there is something important that we must face, we can recognise it, and we will do our best to overcome it (and remember that God wants us to do our best – it is He who has already won the fight), but the Devil does not use such obvious tactics. Why would he? Rather, the temptations come in small ways, little offences against God, little moments of pride and selfishness. We give in to them day after day, and then, suddenly, one day we wake up and realise that we are far from God and are no longer the people we know we should be, the people that God wants us to be. We decide what is ‘our best’, and we decide it on our own terms, and then suddenly we have become the arbiters of what is right and wrong. We decide what we should do in this or that situation. In fact, all the Devil is doing is playing to our weaknesses (and for each of us those weaknesses are different). He has no need for a big pitches battle when he can achieve the same result through our laziness and inattention.

But, of course, it does not need to be like this, for the Devil has been defeated, and the battle has been won by Christ. If you like, this is the time of the last skirmishes, with the Devil fighting to the last angel. But that is the danger time, for these skirmishes are where we can be lost. Although Christ has won, this does not mean that we automatically share in His victory; heaven and hell are both real possibilities for us. Just read the Gospels!

For the Devil and his angels, their fate is fixed. They made their choice once and for all. We have the extraordinary ability to turn to God throughout our lives, returning to Him again and again. If we do so, then the Devil will not triumph over us. But he is real, and his intentions are clear.

So, do we still believe in the Devil? Yes, we do. And if ever we doubt his existence, then the Devil’s work to capture our souls is well on its way.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Backs of Bulletins

Long ago, in a galaxy far away, I started writing bits and bobs on the backs of bulletins. They were my own bulletins, I hasten to add. I did not go round to other parishes and write subversive messages on Fr McWhatsit's bulletins, like "Up the revolution", "More cake for Priests", "Say it in Latin, you know it makes sense!". That would be a terrible thing to do... Hmmm...

No, I decided that this was one way in which I could try to catechise my good people with a spot of light 'This is the latest thing that has come into Father's head'. Of course, I am being too modest, they were actually beautifully crafted moments of wonderfulness. And eventually they became "A Walk Through Mass", and "A Guide to Confession" - Not got one yet? SHAME on you, they are available here and here.

So cometh the new parishes, cometh the new backs of bulletins. I'm going through the mysteries of the Rosary bit by bit, and I've decided to put them up on here, on this blog. So you too can be edified (and nick them for the backs of your bulletins). But if you do (nick them I mean, and publish them in books), then know that I will hunt you down like the dogs you are.

Yea my vengeance shall come like a lightning storm, 
destroying all before it, 
with whirlwind and fire, 
a howling gale and a rending of the earth. 

For my fury shall be a righteous fury, 
and my retribution like unto the retribution of God.

So enjoy the backs of my bulletins!

Friday, 17 November 2017

Vendean TV

The local channel in the Vendee has a wonderful interview with Mr McDermott, headmaster of Chavagnes. The link is here, but you need French, I'm afraid!

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The Thesis

As a post two down mentioned, just slipping it in there without so much as a by your leave, I submitted my thesis. What this means is that it is now in the hands of an external examiner and an internal examiner. Internal and external to the university, you understand, not internally and externally examining the thesis (my what a fine binding!) or even me (my what a fine binding!).

The title is:

Nostra Aetate and the Covenant: an ill-conceived concept stretched beyond its limits

with, let me tell you, some quite hilarious consequences! I always go for titles. My MPhil was 'De Arca Foederis: concerning the mysterious appearance and disappearance of the Ark of God'. Don't you just want to go and pick that up now...

And my STB was 'The Concept of Synodality in the Ecclesiology of John Zizioulas and Jean-Marie Tillard, and its consequences for Catholic/Orthodox Oecumenical Relations'. For that one I went for the longest and most boring title award, and I think you'll find I won it. Well, in seminary anyway.

So I now await my viva, my oral grilling (yikes, what a thought) sometime after Christmas I guess. Then, pray God, if I pass, a graduation! And then I shall be:

Rev Dr Bede Rowe (available for the cure of the King's evil, rickets and divers nastiness)

Sunday, 12 November 2017

We will remember them

In Flanders fields the poppies grow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae    

Monday, 6 November 2017

Bit of a catch up

So, many things have happened in the last few months.

I have moved down south.

Been inducted as PP of Glastonbury and Shepton Mallet.

Submitted my thesis.

Painted a room bright yellow.

Discovered the parish mortuary candles.

Started a Latin Mass every Sunday at 6pm...

...oh the list can go on and on (and on and on), but I still have not changed the banner at the top of the blog yet. Still, something like normal service is being resumed!

Monday, 28 August 2017

The Primacy of the Parish of Glastonbury

None other than Her Brittanic Majesty, our Sovereign Queen, Elizabeth II, acknowledges the primacy of the Parish of Our Lady, St Mary of Glastonbury.

By the Holy and Sacred tradition recorded by William of Malmesbury (there will be a lot more from him, believe me!) Glastonbury was founded 15 years after the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin into Heaven. The Queen does not follow William's exact dating, but she does mirror his sentiment. She gave this cross in 1965 to the monastery (which her predecessor of dubious memory destroyed). The plaque on it reads:

I wonder if I should invite her to my induction?

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

I've found myself

Was it here, on the mountains of Tibet that found myself? No.
In the quiet and silence of the library, one's mind automatically turns to the bigger questions of life...
What is the purpose of all this beauty of God's creation around me?
Why was I placed on this planet, and what is my purpose?
Why is that annoying woman talking all the time to her friend... doesn't she know that this is a library??!!
What is my next blog post going to be about?
But most fundamental of all...
You've only got two weeks left, what in heaven's name do you think you are doing messing about with this???!
And these are valid questions. So you will be pleased to know that I have finally found myself.

If you look closely you can see me, I'm the one next to the book.
I am on level three of the Bill Bryson library in Durham. And here I am...

Look, me in the library.
For a while I thought that I should be located in Durham Cathedral with my bones, but the protestants who are in charge of them, bone stealers and body snatchers, get a bit sniffy when I start kissing my own grave. Grrrr.

My tomb in Durham Cathedral.
So I am pleased as punch to know that I am here in the library as well. This a 'young Bede' and is a copy of one that is in the Beda College in Rome. For some inexplicable reason I have not been invited there to be honoured and feted, as is my due.

Personally, in this last one I think I look rather unworkmanlike and rather dull. I am not sure St Bede would have approved. He, like me, was completely shy and retiring, and was never short of industrious work, and was never one to hog the lime light.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Do we still believe in angels?

“The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary…”
“Holy Michael, Archangel…”
“Angel of God, my guardian dear…”

Talk of angels surrounds us in our personal devotions. The Angelus speaks of the annunciation by the Archangel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the prayers after Low Mass invoke the powerful protection of the mighty Archangel Michael. And hopefully we remember through the day the presence of our Guardian angel as well.

In fact, it is not just talk of angels which surrounds us, but the angels themselves. So, what are they? Well, to begin with they are creatures created by God. They are not the souls of people who have died, nor are they gods, or deities, or malevolent pixies or sprites. The angels are parts of God’s creation, and they share the common purpose of all creation, namely to worship and adore the One who made them. Like us, however, they may be given jobs or tasks to do. Thus it was that Gabriel (whose name means ‘the power of God’) came to Our Lady, and the Michael (meaning ‘who is like God?’) stands at the doors of Eden, of Paradise, with a flaming sword, and is destined to be in a battle with Satan until the end of time. Perhaps the Fallen Angel, Satan, will the subject of another article. By tradition there are seven Archangels, though we only know the names of three, the other named being Raphael in the book of Tobit – the healing of God. The orders, or choirs of angels, from the closest to God outwards, are Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Archangels, Principalities, and Angels. This ordering is part of our tradition, not an article of faith. The existence of angels, however, is, as it is attested to in Sacred Scripture.

As in Church it is always the people who stand up and do ‘important’ things who get the glory (their reward will be not be great in heaven as they have had theirs here on earth – yikes!) but the real backbone of the Church, without whom it would not run so smoothly, are the people who clean, and do the laundry, and make sure the sacristy is stocked. It is the same with the angels. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, important and flashy, get all the attention; Seraphim and Cherubim, mysterious and mystical, have our fascination; but the real work, in my humble opinion, is done by the most lowly. And these lowly angels, those most intimately involved with us, are our Guardian Angels.

At the moment that you were conceived in your mother’s womb, God assigned an angel to be with you. Your Guardian Angel is always there in every moment of your life. They prompt us, they open our eyes to the possibilities in front of us, and help us to see the good that we can do, and the evil that we should avoid. They are the comforting presence when our hearts are breaking, and the stiffening of our resolve when we are fearful and afraid. They are the voice of reason in moments of temptation, and the voice of calm in panic and distress. And as we lie alone and Death whispers to our heart his sweet secrets, which stills our breath, then it is our Guardian Angel who eases our soul from this mortal frame and leads it to the judgement throne of God.

These are the Angels of God who we should look up to and admire, for they have been with us throughout all of our life.

There are little angel shaped badges that you can get on pieces of card. They are called ‘an angel in my pocket’, and are quite popular. Of course, the cynical me thinks that these things are the result of a complete loss of faith of the people in our society – when we no longer believe in God, then we believe in anything, in lucky charms and talismans. And the theological me thinks that it is errant nonsense to reduce these awesome creatures of God to a little bit of metal, and God help you if you did ever have an angel in your pocket – your pocket would explode at the very least! But the feeble and frail me, the human me, thinks that anything which reminds us of our Guardian Angel is a good thing and something that they, our angels, could use in our everyday life.

Remember your Guardian Angel. Speak to them now. If it has been a long time, then reintroduce yourself. Talk though what has been going on. They are there to listen to you, to guard you, and to guide you.
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