Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Monday 25th May 2009 was the feast of St Bede the Venerable
For the Beda College here in Rome this is a great day of celebration. We start with Morning Prayer at 07:40 followed by Mass at 11:00, but that’s not the end we continue the celebrations with a festive lunch which is always a great occasion here at the Beda. Another great thing about Beda day is no lectures which give us time to rest before another busy week.

The Venerable Bede was born in 673, near the monastery of Wearmouth in the present-day Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle; indeed his shrine is situated within that same diocese. He entered the monastery, was ordained, and lived a life of study and contemplation. His holiness was renowned in his lifetime, his pupils and comrades loved him and the works he wrote, particularly “The Ecclesiastical History of the English People,” were remarkable in their time and have endured. St Cuthbert, whose shrine likewise is within the same diocese, wrote after the death of St Bede the venerable: “Well may we believe that inasmuch as he had laboured here always in the praise of God, so his soul journeyed to the joys of heaven for which he longed.”

This College was first founded in 1852 to form older men, often convert clergymen, for Catholic priesthood. They came only for four years, because they were seen to have significant knowledge and experience already.

Today the character of the community has changed. Although the Beda remains the responsibility of the Bishops of England and Wales, it has opened its doors to receive men from English-speaking countries worldwide. However, the essential mission remains the same: to help older men harness and develop their experience and knowledge in the service of the Gospel as Catholic priests.

The Beda College is the place if you want to experience the wider Church; currently at the college we have men from Africa, Asia, Australia, America, India, Caribbean and of course Europe. In reality sometimes at lunch it is like sitting around the table at the United Nations. It is great to hear about the Church all over the world, how it has developed and indeed how it continues to develop as time goes on. At present there are 41 students studying over the four years at the Beda, ten of whom will be ordained Deacon in June this year at St Paul’s Basilica. A further eight will leave in June to return to their own countries to be ordained Priests.

Christ is the morning star who when the night of this world is past, reveals to his saints the eternal light of life.
St Bede the VenerableCommentary on the Book of Revelation, Chapter 1

you have enlightened your Church with the learning of St Bede. In your love may your people learn from his wisdom and benefit from his prayers. We make our prayer through Jesus Christ, your Son, who is alive, and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit. One God, now and forever. Amen.

Darren Carden Beda College Rome

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Truth Online

"...Life is not just a succession of events or experiences: it is a search for the true, the good and the beautiful. It is to this end that we make our choices; it is for this that we exercise our freedom; it is in this - in truth, in goodness, and in beauty - that we find happiness and joy. We must not allow ourselves to be deceived by those who see us merely as consumers in a market of undifferentiated possibilities, where choice itself becomes the good, novelty usurps beauty, and subjective experience displaces truth..."

This passage from Pope Benedict's message for the 2009 World Day of Communications can be found here through a new Vatican website which has vast potential.

You did not choose Me

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide” (Jn 15:16).

Pope Benedict's message for World Day of Vocations 2009 includes the following:

Who can consider himself worthy to approach the priestly ministry? Who can embrace the consecrated life relying only on his or her own human powers? Once again, it is useful to reiterate that the response of men and women to the divine call, whenever they are aware that it is God who takes the initiative and brings His plan of salvation to fulfilment, is never patterned after the timid self-interest of the worthless servant who, out of fear, hid the talent entrusted to him in the ground (cf. Mt 25:14-30), but rather expresses itself in a ready adherence to the Lord’s invitation, as in the case of Peter who, trusting in the Lord’ word, did not hesitate to let down the net once more even after having toiled all night and catching nothing (cf. Lk 5:5). Without in any sense renouncing personal responsibility, the free human response to God thus
becomes “co-responsibility”, responsibility in and with Christ, through the action of his Holy Spirit; it becomes communion with the One who makes it possible for us to bear much fruit (cf. Jn 15:5).

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

The world sees bread: faith sees Jesus

"Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?" This is the question St Jude asked Jesus at the Last Supper. The answer is in the Holy Eucharist. With this in mind, below are two options for a new banner for this blog. They are both centred on Christ: which one do you think is better for the blog?

Monday's Gospel gives more context to St Jude's question:
"He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him." Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, "Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?" Jesus answered him, "If a man loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him..." (Jn 14:21-24)
Another time, describing Himself repeatedly as the Bread of Life, Jesus said:

"For this is the will of My Father: that every one who sees the Son, and believes in Him, should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day." The Jews then murmured at him, because He said, "I am the bread which came down from heaven." (Jn 6:40-41)

Indulgences for the Year of Priests

The Church is granting indulgences during the Year of Priests (19 June 2009 to 19 June 2010):
To all the penitent faithful who, in a Church or Oratory, devoutly assist at the Divine Sacrifice of the Mass and offer prayers to Jesus Christ, Supreme and Eternal Priest, for the priests of the Church, as well as any good work accomplished in that day, so that He may sanctify them and conform them to His Heart, is granted a Plenary Indulgence, if they have sanctified their own sins in sacramental penance and raised prayers for the intention of the Supreme Pontiff: on the days in which the Priestly Year is opened and closed, on the day of the 150th anniversary of the pious death of Saint John Mary Vianney, on the first Thursday of every month, or on any other day established by the Ordinary of the place for the use of the faithful.
Full text in Latin / Italian / English. Note: St John Vianney died on 4th August 1859.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Ordination: the Bishop Expresses God's Will

When it comes to a priestly vocation, it is up to the candidate and the Church to carefully discern God's will. For an ordination to happen, there has to be free consent from both parties. Neither party can insist on ordination.

Just as the Church cannot ordain someone against their will, neither can someone insist on being ordained against the Church's will. The final decision on whether to ordain a candidate belongs to the bishop (for a crystal clear example of why this must be so, see Acts 8:18-24).

Fr Stephen Langridge makes the point well at Southwark Vocations.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Better than wealth, prestige or pleasure

Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for May is: "That the laity and Christian communities may embrace their responsibility for promoting vocations to the priesthood and religious life."

The Apostleship of Prayer carries this message:
Vocations to the priesthood and religious life come from God, but God always works through human instruments to accomplish his purposes. Aware of our need today for good shepherds to continue the work of Jesus among us, Pope Benedict asks us to pray that we may all take seriously our responsibility to create what he has called a "culture of vocations."

We will know we have built a culture of vocations when becoming a priest or religious is seen as something more worthwhile and praiseworthy than pursuing or achieving wealth, prestige, or pleasure.

Most of all we need to encourage vocations at home. As families have become smaller, some parents discourage their children from pursuing a vocation. It's natural to want grandchildren, but parents ought to be just as delighted when God calls a child to the priesthood or religious life.

Click here for Pope Benedict's Message for the 2009 World Day of Prayer for Vocations

Friday, 1 May 2009


Today the care of Lancaster Diocese passes from Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue to Bishop Michael Campbell OSA. Bishop Patrick is retiring and in due course may head to his native Ireland to serve as a parish priest. Under Bishop Patrick’s watch, the number of seminarians for Lancaster Diocese doubled--from four to eight. Please God, long may that trend continue.

The resounding reception around the world of Bishop Patrick's Fit for Mission? documents, all of which serve to strengthen Catholic identity, has doubtless encouraged vocations in other dioceses too--God knows how many. Each document points unambiguously to Christ. Here are some key quotes:

Fit for Mission? Church
Following the principle that the beginning and end of our struggle for justice and love must be prayer, I call on all parishes and individuals to re-double your commitment to prayer for those that suffer poverty at home and abroad, particularly at Mass and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.

Fit for Mission? Schools
To those who question or dismiss the importance of liturgy in the busy life of a school or college, my answer is that liturgy is a basic human need. As already stated, the goal of Catholic education is the fulfilment of the fundamental needs of the human person. One such need is fulfilling the symbolic dimension of human existence.

The human person, as a union of body and spirit, needs signs and symbols to express and perceive spiritual realities. And also, as a social being we need signs and symbols to communicate with others, through language, gestures, and actions. The same holds true for our relationship with God (CCC 1146).

…During the celebration of the Mass it is especially important that at the Eucharistic Prayer, the whole class or whole school kneel or, if this is not possible, stand as a sign of reverence before the presence of our Lord under the appearance of bread and wine.

Fit for Mission? Marriage
The Old Testament and New Testament show us that the purpose of God’s words and deeds was to shape a people to share in his life and love, and bring his justice, kindness and mercy to the world. The divine expression of God’s love is the Holy Spirit, who is the life and guide of the Church, the People of God. Therefore, in Marriage Preparation Plus:

• We will encourage and foster love for the Church through our reverence for her teaching, liturgy, history and art, and cultivate respect and obedience to the Pope, the successor of Peter, and those Bishops in communion with him. At times you may be on the receiving end of criticism and anger aimed at the Church. It’s best not to take this personally, but instead try to answer any misunderstanding with kindness and patience.

The Cathedral blog has a review of Bishop Patrick's eight-years at Lancaster, and Lizzie Cavanagh has posted a tribute on YouTube.

Suffering and Love

The frontpage of yesterday's Cleator Crack carries an article about the Caritas Group at St Mary's working with students at the House of Formation in calling for the release of political prisoners in Burma.

In 1984, Pope John Paul II wrote an apostolic exhortation on the meaning of human suffering:
In the messianic programme of Christ, which is at the same time the programme of the Kingdom of God, suffering is present in the world in order to release love, in order to give birth to works of love towards neighbour, in order to transform the whole of human civilization into a "civilization of love". (Pope John Paul II, Salvifici Dolorosi, 30)