Saturday, February 28, 2009

First Sunday of Lent

Jesus’ journey into the wilderness is a striking call to action. There are always those who would like to portray it as a flight from the world, but this would empty it of its value. The act of retreat, of taking yourself to one side in order to be with God, requires a certain courage. Being alone with God is to be aware that you are completely known and loved; God’s understanding of me is greater than my own, and he calls me into prayer.

Jesus withdraws in order to prepare himself for his ministry; it is a period of consolidation, and of growth. When the devil tempts him and offers him an opportunity to demonstrate his power, Jesus shows that this type of power does not tell the truth about who he is.

When the Lord calls us into prayer, into retreat, into devotion, he is not asking us to move into a hidden realm where everything conforms to some ideal in our heads. He is calling us to rest with Him, to acknowledge our own weakness and vulnerability, and to trust Him. To trust is to be vulnerable, and is very difficult.

To trust is to accept that I don’t have all the answers, that I do not create the reality around me, that I do not create myself, or merely ‘brand’ some kind of identity into existence. It is to accept that in all things the human being is totally dependent upon God’s power and love.

This is the power than can transform me. It is the power that lifts me out of all pretence, out of all play-acting, and lets me see who I am. God will lift the veil from my eyes and invite me to see the whole of creation with his own perspective, which has a breadth I cannot imagine.

When I trust in this power, my action will be changed. I will be different. There will be a new unity of word and action: authenticity. I will be a new sign to the world, a sign of one whose words speak only of truth and of love.

At some point, even my understanding of ‘I’ will share in this transformation, and I will discover that I am only a witness. That is the decisive moment: it is the moment when the power of God is shown forth in me.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Journey through Lent I

During this season of Lent, some of the Alumni and Residents of Newman House will be contributing their reflections on the season. Thanks to David Bennet for this first offering.
For me, Isaiah 61 is a good description of lent. It is about the Spirit of the Lord bringing good tidings to the afflicted and proclaiming liberty to captives. Lent is a preparation for the joy of Easter, a preparation that turns my gaze beyond myself, towards others and especially towards God. It is about a deepening of love which can only take place in a surpassing of myself, which is achieved concretely through fasting and giving alms. Allowing more time for prayer seems to be the source and term for both giving and receiving, preparing a space in my heart for the Kingdom of Heaven, celebrated at Easter. The passage in Isaiah goes on to say that the Spirit of the Lord will give a garland instead of ashes, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit, that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. I came across this passage on Ash Wednesday and thought it really put what we were doing into perspective. Finally, Isaiah says these people shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. As a community we go through lent, allowing all former devastations to be rebuilt, celebrating this strengthened communion with the Risen Lord at Easter.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Approaching Lent

As we approach the season of Lent, it is important to remember that this season, whilst involving penance, fasting and almsgiving, has its origin and meaning in the preparation for baptism. ‘Lent’ means ‘Spring’; it is a reference to our new birth in Christ, and has the happy effect of drawing our eyes towards the grandeur of creation as nature begins to awaken from its winter hibernation. This ‘new Springtime’, this new life is our annual refreshment in Christ. It is an opportunity to take stock of how closely we follow the Lord, and maybe to ask ourselves some tough questions. What do I put in the way of following Christ? How do I make it difficult for myself to know the Lord, and how do I make it difficult for others to meet him?

Take a moment to look at these difficulties, and prune with care: It does no good to cut off living branches! If the branch is dead, you probably know it already, and are having to carry the extra weight. If it is dead let it go, rise up, and let us be on our way. With fasting and penance, the tools we have for pruning, there can be a tendency toward misery. This misses the point entirely – Lent should make us lighter, more attractive disciples.

One part of every person’s life that always needs to be nourished is prayer. As our lives race forward, always pushing us on to the next event, the next job, the next person, meditation and reflection can be squeezed out all too easily. Whatever you give up for Lent, whatever penance you undertake, do not forget the importance of ‘wasting time with God’.

Please remember to pray for our Catechumens, as they prepare to be joined with the Lord in Baptism.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Taize Prayer

Taize Prayer was held at Newman House last Tuesday. We were honoured to have received generous help from the musicians from King's Cross Methodist Church. It was a tremendous opporunity for students to get away from their busy university lives and immerse themselves in a prayerful atmosphere. The 45-minute prayer consisted of singing, Psalm and Gospel readins, meditative silence, and general intercessions. Taize prayer provides people with a deeper sense of contemplation by repeating the Scripture over and over again. The response from the participants was good and we hope we will get that chance to organise such events again in the very near future.
Janet Tse

Newman House Cardinals

The Newman House Cricket Team, the Cardinals, now have their own website, where you can see reviews of recent matches, profiles of all the players, and more. Pay them a visit!

Events for the week of 22 February to 1 March

All events take place in Newman House unless otherwise stated
Wednesday, 25 February
  • 12.30 pm - Holy Mass with the Imposition of Ashes
  • 5.30 pm - Sung Pontifical Mass with the Imposition of Ashes
  • 9.00 pm - Holy Mass with the Imposition of Ashes

  • 3.30 pm - Tea with Chaplains
Thursday, 26 February
  • 7.30 pm - Here I am, Lord
Fr John Edwards: "The Evangelical Counsels"
Sunday, 1 March
  • 10.30 am - Holy Mass followed by Coffee and Lunch
  • 7.30 pm - Holy Mass

Listen to Him: A Day Retreat

The Sister Chaplains are organising a one day retreat for Lent.

Location : Nazarerth House, Hammersmith Road, W6 8DB

Click here for contacts and to ask for more information.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday Mass at Newman House
5.30pm (Celebrated by Bishop Alan Hopes)

Ash Wednesday Mass around the Colleges:
Institute of Education, room 944, 1.15pm
London Metropolitan University (City Campus), Calcutta House Room GSG 20, 1pm
LSE (Chaplaincy K51), 1.15pm
University of Notre Dame, 5.15pm
University of Westminster (Cavendish Campus), room CLG 08, 1.10pm

NB: Unfortunately, it has been necessary to CANCEL the Mass scheduled at Guildhall.

For more information about the keeping of Lent, click here.

Website Relaunched

The Chaplaincy website has been completely redesigned, and is now live! Pay a visit and tell us what you think. There are all new galleries, a constantly updated events calendar, and much much more.
Click here to register and receive regular updates.
Special thanks must go to Russell Hearn and Kathryn Arblaster who have (and continue to) spent many hours of labour on it!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


This year Newman House once again hosted a mid-term Carnival party. Dave Jones tells us more...

The Newman House Event team had spent the whole afternoon preparing for the celebration of Carnevale! Colourful drapes hung from the ceiling along with Chinese lanterns and glittering masquerade-style masks covered the walls of the Bar and Breakfast room. Party-goers brought home-made sweet desserts and candy to feed the masses and sangria flowed a-plenty! Resident DJ Cool Breeze, set the tone with music from the Caribbean, Mauritius and Latin America, mixed in with popular favourites to get everyone on the dance-floor; Tasha and I were even able to strut our salsa moves in full costume! In fact one of the wonderful things about this year’s Carnevale was the very fact that the dancing just didn’t stop! We all partied well into the early hours, even after having to turn down the volume due to music licensing!!! (Apologies Father Peter!)
Variety in costume was also amazing! From Roman togas to Superheroes to fancy face-painted people! The evening was a huge success and a real reflection of the wonderful multi-cultural atmosphere of the community here at Newman House. Thanks to all involved. Roll on next year’s party!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Year of St Paul Celebrations

Since the beginning of the Year of St Paul, his icon has been hanging close to the Altar at Newman House. Various events have been held to help students deepen their awareness and appreciation of the great Apostle to the Gentiles.

Last year the UCL Cathsoc had as an invited guest Sister from South London. In a very lively session, punctuated with the singing of verses from the chorus "If God is for us, who can be against" she explored the theology of St Paul for today.

Last week our chaplain at Imperial College and at More House, Fr Geoff Wheaton SJ, led the OASIS session, looking at St Paul in art. Fr Geoff's phenomenal knowledge of his subject, and his passion for it, was evident. A most enlightening evening.
Plenary Indulgence

On the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul, Sunday 25th January, the whole community joined in celebrating this great event in the life of the Church at the Sunday Mass. Then about 30 gathered in the Chapel at 1.30pm for a Celebration of the Word, with opportunities for confession. The group then walked down to Westminster Cathedral, (all of them? Not quite - Fr Peter and Fr Brian were seen to wave to the group as their car passed them on the way to the Cathedral!!) to visit the Chapel of St Paul in order to obtain the Plenary Indulgence specially attached to this pilgrimage. A prayer to St Paul was said in the chapel, as well as a prayer for the Pope's intentions. The day ended with attendance at Vespers in the Cathedral - and coffee at Cafe Nero afterwards for some! But by then most had realised that their whole day had been spent in holy activities, so they really ought to do some study and they shot home!

St Paul the Apostle - Pray for us!!!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

On their way to Baptism

Enrollment of Catechumens at Sunday Mass

Three young people, Anna, Djhoti and Helena were received and welcomed at Sunday Mass at Newman House on 8 February. At the beginning of Mass, at the door of the Church, they were asked for their names, and what they wanted! This is not as rude as it sounds, but represents their being outside the Church and their desire for entry to the Church through baptism. Their answer was "Faith". They were then signed on the forehead with the sign of the cross, and presented with a crucifix, the sign of our salvation, and led into the body of the Church.

Before the Mass readings began, they were again called forward and presented with a Bible, the Wisdom which we as Christians are called to heed. They were encouraged to listen attentively to the Word of God, speaking to them in the Scriptures.

After the Gospel and a short homily, they were again called forward for the Prayer of Exorcism. Throughout the period of preparation for Baptism, the Church prays several such prayers of Exorcism over the catechumens, praying that all evil may depart from them and all goodness may fill their lives. They were then anointed with the Oil of Catechumens, that they may be strengthened for their pilgrimage to the font at Easter, when we look forward to their dying and rising with Christ.

In order to help them prepare for their baptism, they were then dismissed - not to go home but to spend time in refelection together on the readings of the day. They will do this each Sunday between now and Easter, led by Joanna, our Pastoral Associate. This was always done in the Early Church with those preparing for Baptism. Indeed, the first part of Mass was called the "Mass of the Catechumens", because they were present. The second part, the Eucharistic Prayer and Communion, was called the Mass of the Faithful, because the catechumens had departed and only the initiated faithful remained. These are the headings which appear in older Missals.

Pray for Anna, Djhoti and Helena as they prepare for the Great Vigil of Easter and their new birth in Christ!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Newman House Cardinals

Report on the "Newman House Cardinals" Indoor Cricket Team
by Patrick Driscoll

The Newman House Cardinals Indoor Cricket Team was founded back in 2007 by the famous Keith Stanfield. The current Team has an Aussie core, but also includes a Californian baseball star, an Indian Cricketing legend, a Singaporean spinner, and even the odd Brit.

There’s never a dull moment; every game has its fair share of vicious bowling, spectacular catches, big hits and, of course, controversial decisions. The Cardinals have fought their way up the food chain and are now one of the most respected teams in the league.

For match details and player standings visit:

If you’d like to get involved, get in touch with Keith or Shaun at Newman House. Anyone is welcome, player or fan, to help make this season’s play-offs. The arena has a superb bar with a lively atmosphere and the Cardinals presence always makes for a great evening!

Request to join “NH CARDINALS” Facebook Group.
A website is also “under construction”.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

In and Around Newman House

Here are a few sights around Newman House and beyond over recent weeks...

Residents antics on Primrose Hill:

The Christmas Party:

The University Catholic Lecture

Lord Alton speaks at King's College

Human Dignity, Human Rights, Human Life.
Lord Alton tells students: don't wait to make a difference

Lord Alton of Liverpool issued a new challenge to Catholic students this week, encouraging them not to wait until they are older to face the many offences to human dignity confronting today's world. Around one hundred students and young professionals gathered at Kings College London on Tuesday evening to hear Lord Alton deliver a lecture on Human Dignity, Human Rights, Human Life. Organised by Kings College CathSoc in cooperation with other London student chaplaincy leaders, the lecture was one of the key events of the academic year, bringing together Catholic University students from many London University colleges including Kings, UCL and LSE.

Sharing his personal experiences from nearly thirty years of experience in both Houses of Parliament, Lord Alton affirmed the right to life as fundamental to every human and political community, contrasting it with the development of the eugenics movement in the first half of the 20th century.

"This brutal movement has been responsible for massive human rights violations in the 20th and 21st Century" said Lord Alton, lamenting the recent decision to issue postage stamps commemorating Marie Stopes as a pro-choice heroine. "Lets be clear about what she herself stood for" he said, describing her eugenic proposals to ban whole sectors of the community from bearing children.[1]

Lord Alton described how the eugenic one-child policy in China continued to be funded by the British tax-payer through the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA). He recounted numerous examples of brutal human rights violations which had occurred as a consequence of such population control programmes. These included detentions, torture, deaths, forced abortions and forced sterilisations.

Discussing the futility of embryonic stem cell research and the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos, Lord Alton emphasised the lack of scientific arguments supporting the creation of hybrids, noting the poor quality of the evidence submitted to the Parliamentary Scrutiny Committee on the HFE Act 2008.

Raising the issues of child mortality and poverty, Lord Alton described these as offences to human dignity. He described the disturbing side-effects of conflicts in places such as the Congo and Darfur and showed pictures depicting various human rights abuses in Burma, North Korea and Latin America.

"Can we not see the link between the disregard for the rights of the child before birth and a callous indifference to a child that has been born?" he said. "This is also reflected in end of life issues". Describing developments in euthanasia practice in Holland, where involuntary euthanasia has become increasingly common, Lord Alton suggested that the claim and legal recognition of a "right" to abortion, infanticide and euthanasia, implied absolute power over and against others, which was the "death of true freedom"[2].

Concluding the lecture, Lord Alton suggested that the challenge facing each person was the discovery of the unique task which had been allotted to each of them, quoting the words of Albert Einstein who had said that the world is a dangerous place not because of evil people but because of those who do nothing in the face of evil. "The challenge is to do something about it", concluded Lord Alton. "Don't underestimate the difference that each of you can make in your individual situations" he said. "If all the time we thought we have to wait until we are better, older, wiser - we would wait forever."

Lord Alton encouraged those present to consider ways of providing practical help to those in need – including women who were left to feel pressurised into abortion. Other examples included hospice provision for the dying, the development of ethical cures to debilitating diseases, and willingness to take political action where appropriate.

[1] In 1935 Marie Stopes had claimed that no society "should allow the diseased, the racially-negligent, the careless, the feeble-minded, the very lowest and worst members of the community to produce innumerable tens of thousands of warped and inferior infants".

[2] John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae

To find out more about Lord Alton, visit his homepage:
Article by Emilia Klepacka, of the Catholic Union