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Thursday, 28 December 2006

Faith Winter Conference first day

Yesterday evening saw the start of the Winter Conference of the Faith Movement, at Stonyhurst College in Lancashire.The conference began with Mass in the magnificent chapel, filled with the 212 participants at this year’s Conference. Fr John Paul Leonard was principal celebrant in a sanctuary crowded with over 25 concelebrants.

The first talk was given by Fr Luiz Ruscillo. He began in characteristically amusing style by quoting some questions and answers from a book produced by the New Scientist called something like “Why don’t penguins’ feet freeze?” As he said, we expect answers to scientific questions, and when we have the answer, we do not expect to be told “that is just your opinion” or “that may be true for you.” Similarly in matters of faith, we seek the truth. He went through an argument from science for the existence of God, spoke about the uniqueness of the human person with a spiritual soul, and presented the importance of our relationship with the living and true God.

In the discussion afterwards, somebody asked about the different styles of retreat, some offering the enneagram and other novelties. This was answered well, with one priest referring to the letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation. Several in the room were itching to make mention of the Prayer of the Frog and so reference is given here also to the Notification concerning the writings of Fr Anthony de Mello SJ.)

After the talk, there was Compline in the chapel followed by an opportunity to chat in the bar. There are several seminarians here and it was good to catch up with how things are in the various colleges. Anna-Marie who travelled up with me, is studying English Literature at A-Level. In the car on the way up, we were all discussing the ramifications of various views on literature. Tonight, we somehow got onto a discussion of the nature of numbers and mathematics. I roped in Fr Stephen Dingley for some help on that one.
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