[An] important truth is in various ways brought before our minds at the season sacred to the memory of Christ's betrayal and death. The contrast displayed in the Gospels between His behaviour on the one hand, as the time of His crucifixion drew near, and that both of His disciples and of the Jewish populace on the other, is full of instruction, if we will receive it; He steadily fixing His face to endure those sufferings which were the atonement for our sins, yet without aught of mental excitement or agitation; His disciples and the Jewish multitude first protesting their devotion to Him in vehement language, then, the one deserting Him, the other even clamouring for His crucifixion. He entered Jerusalem in triumph; the multitude cutting down branches of palm-trees, and strewing them in the way, as in honour of a king and conqueror . He had lately raised Lazarus from the dead; and so great a miracle had given Him great temporary favour with the populace. Multitudes flocked to Bethany to see Him and Lazarus; and when He set out for Jerusalem where He was to suffer, they, little thinking that they would soon cry "Crucify Him," went out to meet Him with the palm-branches, and hailing Him as their Messiah, led Him on into the holy city. Here was an instance of a popular excitement. The next instance of excited feeling is found in that melancholy self-confidence of St. Peter... When our Saviour foretold Peter's trial and fall, Peter at length "spake the more vehemently, If I should die with Thee, I will not deny Thee in any wise." Yet in a little while both the people and the Apostle abandoned their Messiah; the ardour of their devotion had run its course.
Saturday, March 31, 2007
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Sunday 1 April
The first part of the Mass is a commemoration of the Lord's Entrance into Jerusalem. It's not a commemoration like a nativity play is a commemoration of the Lord's birth. Rather, we ourselves welcome the Lord into our own vicinity, our own city. By our public witness, we are proclaiming Christ to be present even on Gower Street! The great Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner described mission thus: "The mission of the Church is not to carry Christ to the world as if he were absent from it. The mission of the Church is to help the world recognise Christ, who is already present".
The palms that we bless are carried triumphantly. They are little sacramentals, blessed objects, which we should then keep reverently. It is a good custom to place them behind the crucifix each one of us should have in our rooms. Next year, they are returned and burnt, to make the ash for Ash Wednesday. Triumph and tragedy, acclamation and betrayal are so often close companions.
After the joyful procession, the Mass takes on a more sombre tone as our minds are turned to the Passion of the Lord. The Passion is solemnly proclaimed, of course, on Good Friday, from the Gospel of John. But it is an event so immense, intense and profound that we hear it twice. On Passion Sunday it is proclaimed from the Gospel we are following for the year - this year it is the Gospel of Luke (Year C). The method of proclaiming the Passion varies, from a solemn chant to exquisite singing (some famous composers have set the Passion to sublime music) to a simple Proclamation in the usual way. At Newman House we follow the common Catholic custom of a narrative proclamation, with various people reading parts, and the whole congregation reading the parts of the crowd. It's a reminder of the theological point that we all in some way accuse Jesus and reject him, through our sinfulness. The sombre tone is emphasised when we reach the moment of Jesus's death, when we pause to kneel in silence.
Following a short homily, Mass continues in the usual way.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.
We are now approaching that most sacred day when we commemorate Christ's passion and death. Let us try to fix our minds upon this great thought. Let us try, what is so very difficult, to put off other thoughts, to clear our minds of things transitory, temporal, and earthly, and to occupy them with the contemplation of the Eternal Priest and His one ever-enduring Sacrifice;—that Sacrifice which, though completed once for all on Calvary, yet ever abideth, and, in its power and its grace, is ever present among us, and is at all times gratefully and awfully to be commemorated, but now especially, when the time of year is come at which it was made. Let us look upon Him who was lifted up that He might draw us to Him; and, by being drawn one and all to Him, let us be drawn to each other, so that we may understand and feel that He has redeemed us one and all, and that, unless we love one another, we cannot really have love to Him who laid down His life for us.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
The chaplains are always very grateful that Bishop Bernard is always so willing to come and visit, and for the generous support that he gives the work of the Chaplaincy. A few snapshots of this week’s visits follow:
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
The Tutoring Scheme is a great success, and our thanks go to all the tutors for their enthusiasm and dedication. Special thanks must go to Carl Fernandes who has led the team with his customary aplomb, and to Prof John Hirsch for his boundless enthusiasm for the project.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Comment from Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor on Sacramentum
Returning to London this weekend from retreat, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster welcomed the publication of the Post Synodal Exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis. The Cardinal, who was a member of the Post-Synodal Commission and was therefore closely involved at the drafting stage of Sacramentum Caritatis, said
“I am full of admiration for the subtle way in which Pope Benedict has woven throughout Sacramentum Caritatis an appreciation of the Synod reflections with the themes he considered in Deus Caritas Est. Like me, I am sure that the Bishops who attended the Synod will find echoes of our discussions throughout the whole document. Referring in every part of the exhortation to the propositions of the Synod the Pope links together in a beautiful way his own reflections on the traditional teaching of the Church on the Holy Eucharist.
Pope Benedict recognises the human thirst for God even if this seems so often to be eclipsed by modern life. He writes “The Lord Jesus speaks to our thirsting pilgrim hearts, our hearts thirsting for the source of life”.(SC 2). In the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist Jesus reveals the love which is the very essence of God. This is the reason why the Church finds in the Eucharist the very centre of her life.
I know that my fellow bishops in England and Wales will use Sacramentum Caritatis in helping their priests and people to deepen their love of the Holy Eucharist. I have already asked in the Diocese of Westminster, that the Holy Eucharist form one of the key priorities in these next few years. As Pope Benedict says, “What the world needs is God’s love, it needs to encounter Christ and to believe in Him. The Eucharist is thus the source and summit not only of the Church’s life but also of her Mission….truly nothing is more beautiful than to know Christ and to make him known to others.”(SC 84).
I commend Sacramentum Caritatis to everyone and ask them to understand how “this most Holy Mystery needs to be firmly believed, devoutly celebrated and intensely lived in the Church” (SC 94).
Sacramentum Caritatis will be published shortly by the Catholic Truth Society.
The full text is available at www.vatican.va
An introduction is available at
STATEMENT BY CARDINAL CORMAC MURPHY-O’CONNOR ON BEHALF OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE OF THE BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE OF ENGLAND AND WALES - 19th March 2007
Noting the fact that the Sexual Orientation Regulations are being voted on in the House of Commons today (Monday 19th March, 2007), I again express our concern at their impact, not only on adoption services, but on cooperation between faith based voluntary agencies and public authorities in public funded services.
It is, surely, an abuse of Parliamentary democracy that these Regulations are being considered by Parliament only through a hurriedly arranged and very brief meeting of 16 appointed MPs, and a short debate in the House of Lords. During the House of Commons Committee meeting opportunity for serious debate was denied.
Profound public concern about aspects of these Regulations has not been heard. The debate on Wednesday in the House of Lords, although important in itself, will hardly compensate for the lack of a full debate in the House of Commons.
Our society’s understanding of the pattern of family life and of the role of conscience and religious belief in public life remains a very important part of the political agenda.
Comment from Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster re Anniversary of Slave Trade Act.
Next Tuesday, 27th March I shall be joining with fellow Christians and people of other faiths in the National Commemoration in Westminster Abbey of the 200th anniversary of the passage of the Slave Trade Act. This Act outlawed the slave trade throughout the British Empire and made it illegal for British ships to be involved in the trade, marking the beginning of the end for the transatlantic traffic in human beings. This is a deeply humbling occasion when we recall the great suffering of the many millions of people who were enslaved and forcibly taken from their homes in Africa. I am conscious that the consequences of slavery have affected many people in my Diocese and that in our parishes there are many descendents of former slaves. I want to assure them of my thoughts and prayer on the occasion of this poignant anniversary. I also ask everyone to reflect on the determination of many Christians in the 19th Century to outlaw the evil of slavery.
I am also conscious that although today slavery is illegal in every country of the world, as Christians we need to be aware of the assaults on human dignity through contemporary forms of slavery. These include those forced into bonded labour, the exploitation of child labour and, evident in our own city, the evils of people trafficking.
I commend to the parishes of the Diocese an Intercession which should be included in the Celebration of Mass this weekend:
“As we recall the anniversary of the passage of the Slave Trade Act, we remember those who died and whose freedom was extinguished by slavery. In the words of William Wilberforce: We pray to Thee for all the dark corners of the earth, for all who are suffering under the evils of slavery, or from injustice or cruelty of any kind….Lord in Your Mercy….”
Tina and Ellen, our star co-ordinators, top, and a team (hard?) at work in the kitchen in the bottom photograph!!!!