Friday, 20 February 2009

Lent, The Bishop of Lancaster and the Web

James recently did a post on a talk given by Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue of Lancaster Diocese to the Newman Society at Oxford University.

He says a lot of choice things about the pitiful state of English catholicism, and subsequently gives a lot of suggestions for a personal response. I thought it'd be a good way to approach Lent, so I'll post it here with some handy links.

I want to propose to all of you here tonight the following acts of sacrifice to counter the trials and troubles I have just outlined to you.

Embrace the Tradition of the Church.

To counter the rejection of the past, I want you to sacrifice the modern compulsion for novelty and fashion through embracing the Tradition of the Church, which is nothing more than the source of God's revelation, along with Scripture.

I want you to re-discover the joys and beauty of personal prayer, as well as family and community prayer. Also, to re-discover liturgical prayer, to counter an undue focus on our own human activity. So often the sacred is swamped by the volume of words, noise and activity!

I want you to re-discover the devotions of the Church, such as praying the rosary, the Stations of the Cross, Benediction. I want you to embrace the discipline of praying the daily Office of the Church; the practice of regular confession. The Holy Father goes every week, so why not us also. I want you to know the four Constitutions of the Second Vatican Council inside out, start with the wonderful Constitution on revelation, Dei Verbum.
Some helpful sites for personal prayer are here:
  • Sacred Space - a web-based aid to prayer run by Irish Jesuits
  • Pray-as-you-go - substantially the same thing, but available in mp3 form (also by podcast)
For the Office, I haven't found anything better than Universalis.

The Constitutions of the Second Vatican Council are as follows:
Embrace obedience to the teachings of the Church.

To counter the infiltration of secular ideas such as relativism, utilitarianism, and hedonism into the Church, sacrifice the automatic assumption that your ideas about doctrine and morals must be right, and the Church's 2,000 years reflection on God's revelation must be wrong.

I want you to take a leap of faith, based on trust in the person of Jesus Christ, and start from the assumption that the Church has good reasons for teaching the doctrines and morals that she teaches. Search out those reasons, make the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church the most thumbed and creased books in your libraries. Go, read the Fathers of the Church and St Thomas Aquinas' Summae, with a good guide. Go, study the books and homilies of Pope Benedict XVI, and other good Catholic literature.

And if you hear any Catholic say or teach something that goes against the teaching and discipline of the Church, as safe-guarded by the Pope, politely, but firmly, challenge them, be they a lay catechist, teacher, deacon, priest or even a bishop.
If, for some reason, you want to read the Bible online, BibleGateway works.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is available in its entirety online. To put it briefly, it summarises the teaching of the Catholic Church. It is both offical and relatively up-to-date.

The homilies (sermons) of Benedict XVI are also available online.
A passion that – as Cardinal Newman puts it – the truth is spread to a wide extent among this people of Great Britain.

It is a sad truth that many people are so alienated from the Church, the language of the Bible, and their need for salvation, that they are either indifferent or violently allergic to Christianity. Also, it is heart-breaking to admit that the behaviour of some Catholics, such as paedophile priests and the failure of some in authority in the Church, has damaged the credibility of the Church.

I am convinced that in order to evangelise this generation we must follow the advice of Newman and de Foucauld and concentrate our missionary efforts on showing the unconditional love of Christ for suffering humanity though practical acts of justice and peace. In particular, we must act in solidarity with the poor and all those on the margins of society, migrants, drug addicts, alcoholics, men and women in the sex industry, those suffering mental illness.

We must do this without any ulterior motives, such as seeking converts. We must only undertake this work to show them the love of Jesus Christ.

It is only when or if they ask us why we do this work, that we can gently begin to talk to them about Jesus, and only at the pace that they want. If they reject Jesus, but accept His practical love through our actions, we must be content with that.
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