Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Icon of Our Lady on tour

It's amazing how the Internet can lead you from one place to another! I had been reading in a transport union workers magazine about the work of an Anglican chaplain to seafarers and sailors who is based in Dubai; this led me to check the Catholic equivalent, called the Apostleship of the Sea.

They had an icon of Our Lady specially painted, and this icon is currently on tour around Great Britain; the tour started last April, and continues until next May. More details here.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Hello from Dublin

Your friendly Blogmeister has kindly invited me to join this blog, an invitation which I am happy to accept.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Young people and sex

Yahoo news on "unprotected" sex

This week there was a report from the "BareAll" campaign on sexual behaviour in young people. This project was promoted by the BBC and MTV, as well as presumably funded by Durex, as you can see from this link to the BBC site.

On the Yahoo article, a spokesman from Durex says:

...a condom is the only method of stopping the spread of sexually transmitted infection and preventing unplanned pregnancy.

It's understandable why people say things like this in our politically sensitive times; the option of sexual abstinence until marriage is seen as an imposition. But from a moral, practical and psychological point of view, this can't be an acceptable view.

Abstinence from sexual intercourse is the only 100% effective contraceptive, and the only "safe" way to avoid STD's. A condom is not 100% effective at what it does - it could break, or it could be misused, especially if the people using it are immature, possibly intoxicated (as mentioned in the BareAll survey) and quite possibly furtively hiding their behaviour from the adult world.

On the other hand, if our society clearly recommended that "safe sex" = marriage, in other words, a life-long personal committment to one person only, entered into after preparation, and with the support of one's family and wider community, it would be acting responsibly and in keeping with basic science and common sense philosophical principles. Even marriage has its risks, but on balance it is the most stable and supportive option, as long as we accept that it is not a "private" affair, it happens in a wider social context .

In no way is a gamble with your own and another person's health, relationships and possibly a new human life to be called "safe", from a purely scientific and philosophical point of view.

Due to a sad cultural collapse in all Western countries, it's not possible to frame the discussion in terms of the fundamentals of society - person, family, friendship and community, association and finally business and government. Financial costs seem to dominate.

It's possibly more profitable in the short term (in purely financial terms) to mass-produce chemical and physical gambling devices than to properly educate and train midwives, social workers, counsellors and teachers. However, we need to learn to invest in people as a society and get back behind the secondary interests that drive our policies. Isn't that the meaning of the finding that most of the young people surveyed said their biggest fear was pregnancy? A normal young person should see pregnancy as part of married life, which should appear to be an attractive and demanding, but eminently possible and well-supported option.

As the Pope said in a recent interview, "it's not a Catholic invention that man and woman are made for each other, so that humanity can go on living: All cultures know this."

We don't even follow what I presume is the guidance of the Anglican Church (can anyone verify this?) that contraception should only be allowed to stable married couples, and only with consideration and support. That's a compromise, of course, but closer to the reality of the matter than contraception for all.

More than ever, we need to "form communities of faith" ( as Pope Benedict exhorted us at World Youth day 2005 ) where this realism can exist with the optimism of faith, hope for a better future (because we are offering a realistic proposal!) and charity towards all our human frailty.

Monday, August 14, 2006

I trust the Church

There's been a recent story (unique in my rather thin reading of UK newspapers so far!) in the Telegraph about the Catholic Church in the UK, which as prompted me to blog.

Here's the story...

...and here's (I hope) a representative quote:

Loyal priests and lay people, by no means all traditionalists, are furious at this impoverishment of the liturgy. It is finally dawning on them that it is time for root-and-branch reform.

Only one man can set that process in motion: Benedict XVI, the greatest theologian to hold the papal office for centuries.

Hmmm... I would say that I'm a loyal layperson, but I'm not too bothered about all the liturgical shenanigans. As long as the priest follows the rubrics set out by the Holy Mother of us all, he is on firm ground. The Church is not a once-a-week event, it should happen every day. And it doesn't depend on a heap of documents, but on Christ present.

This is just more comment typical of many people's attitude to the Church; it's an "issue". The Church is not an "issue", it's a life that meets our life, not in a Bishop's conference, but in our daily lives too. And that is where we must begin to meet it.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Some of my old "poems"...!

only truth can survive

only love can succeed

and i say this in faith
i am blessed

beyond my wildest dreams

the miracle is

this is just what it seems

"shibboleth" i said, and immediately regretted it.

what did i care whether i passed some test or not?

wasn't it enough to do what i was told and see what i was promised?

tired of being a hopeful Jew but spurred on by a glowing horizon

i made my way into the house

with thanks to J.R.R. Tolkien... RIP
The road goes ever on and on
down from the door where it began

And I pray as I walk
that I can walk away from sin

And all the bad beginnings
I a made outside of Him.

I pray the things I leave
may be replaced
when He say it's right,
by his grace

i pray I'll walk be faith
and not by sight

that i can do the works,

for soon it will be night.

the road goes ever on and on

only this I do; forgetting

what is behind and moving on!

He is the door where it began.

he is my God

he is my Friend

he is The Man.

goodbyes to friends

goodbyes to friends

i'll see you where the seconds have no end.

God of the little things
dear god,

i've come to talk to you here, where no one can see,
'cause you said that's where you would be.

there's so many things i want answers to
and so many things i regret

things that died years ago
i wish i could hold onto

and things from this morning
i'd love to forget

god let me be silent here
let none of these things keep me from you

though they all are very much here
i won't deny that they are so real

that it seems to me they are all i have
they are all i am

i will wait

every passing moment

every second of stillness

becoming a victory,

open myself so slowly



father in heaven...

down the road
yeah, the road goes on

thank God for the road.

i know the way to get there

i know the one who is the way.

today you see me struggling

falling over and walking in circles

watch my heart

i'm walking in my heart

and all i need is the strength to take one more step

and i'll be there with him

i'm forever saying goodbye and cleaning out my room,

giving away my old books and things

packing my bags for tomorrow and tomorrow will bring whatever it brings

just give me the bread that i need for today

and just enough truth for whatever i say

and a couple of angels and friendly saints

to light the way.

just keep me on the road and i'll be okay

spirit and life
how can my words be life to those who hear?

i want my words to feed the hungry and quench the thirst,

to draw the lonely into God's light, to bring Jesus near

to them

i want my words to be spirit and life

no empty promises or vagueness or lies

i want to prove that God is true

in all i say and all i do.

christ have mercy.

lord have mercy.


god writes straight...

...with crooked lines

i make it complicated
9 out of your 10 times

i've been down so many one way streets and blind alleys
I've walked into this exhibition with firmly closed eyes

but you showed what i could only see with my heart
so much i spend a year explaining, extracting the treasures you hid

my glorious king, explain the mystery
my almighty God, keep the mystery hid

and Van Morrison pushing ninety, "talking about you",
singing the praise of ordinary life
talking bout ordinary endless days
talking bout running across a field, falling into a trance

oh, my idols, my references, my actions, my thoughts, my contacts in this world
catching fire on the altar, catching fire in the Autumn twilight

everything i touch turns to dust
everything you touch comes alive

touch my life again

a poet spins a line for me to walk
couldn't explain it if i had a hundred years
i'm too busy pondering this in my heart - all ears!

do my words condemn me as i speak?
then i'll keep it shut. keep it simple.

teach me, teach me life, teach me like in the old days, teach like you did with your Holy Wisdom, Hagia Sophia...

...teach me to go beyond presumption, to reach the heights of humbleness and touch the seam of the garment of love as he passes by, to give my life and all my efforts just to be in touch with him

remembering the heart is beyond my understanding

beyond me

so far beyond

but you come close

come close again

let's be together, let's go this way together



in common

in unity

in love



in the morning
in the morning freshness

when we made the first man
when we made him whole
when we made him in our image

you know you could listen to the breeze and hear it then

the eternal prayer
the voice of silence

relentless grace

giving itself up
fully and completely

before the foundation of the world
before the words were written in the sand
while the things up in heaven
had never been used
never been needed

that's when i did it
that's when i went in
that's when it was done

no-one else could go there
no i went in there alone
but i want to take you with me
i want to take you home
so i went

and here on earth
you know they saw me with their eyes
and they touched me with their hands
don't you know i let them touch me with their hands

don't you know i took the bread and broke it
like the man did for Abraham
don't you know i passed the wine around
and it will go round again

today, today, just like before
it's my today, just like in the beginning
just like the first time

it's the same time, for all time

it's the same time, one time for all time.

because it's my time.
come and share this time with me
stay with me, watch with me, pray with me
come and go in with me
come on home with me.

my dreams are dreaming me

my blindness all i see

my strength has made me powerless

fall down when i break free

and all i say is water

flows around the crystal shapes

transparent but revealed

in the drip and splash of faith

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Back to Work

Me on my holidays...

After the Holidays, the Work.

Here you can see me with a Sicilian on the lovely beaches of South West England. No prizes for guessing who is who...

Thanks be to God, after just one interview I found a graduate trainee position in a library!

I have found that the more I try to take the "lowest place" in life, the closer to peace and happiness I get. It doesn't mean having no self-respect, but rather trying to be honest and genuinely useful; reasonable, in the sense that Fr. Giussani has taught us, paying attention to reality according to all its factors.

Well, now I feel, at the same time, rather "dry" and "empty", but at the same time immensely happy and expectant. I want to do all that I can to follow Christ in this reality, this life, and not some other life that I imagine.

And I wish the same for you.

Here is a useful resourse I wanted to share:

A simple plan for reading the whole Bible and Catechism of the Catholic Church in one year, with just 30 mins per day.

There's also a Canadian "revert" to Catholicism who keeps a Blog for Bible and Catechism readers, where you can "jump aboard" the identical same plan with others all over the (Internet-accessing) world.

Personally, I already read the Bible, the Catechism and Vatican II right through a few years ago... but then that's my style. "Just give me the manual!"

Peace, pax and shalom.