Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Sermon: Mary teaches us to worship

The Day With Mary came to the parish of Margate a couple of weeks ago. Claudio has now put up on YouTube the sermon that I gave at Mass on the theme of how Our Lady, as our Advocate, assists us at our worship. It is always embarrassing to see your own sermon on video - it reminds me of the sermon classes we had as seminarians. There is much to criticise, but I hope that it might be of some use.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Dreamland, the Shell Grotto and Botany Bay


Hardly a weekend passes these days without an article in one of the broadsheets extolling Margate as the place to be for leading-edge short breaks for the culture vulture with a sense of fun. I am beginning to get used to being in a parish where people come to visit; last week was rather special because all of my four sisters came down, together with various children, mostly now young adults whom I have a tendency to assume are all about 14 years old. Their accommodation varied between a good three-storey airbnb, a sea-view hotel and the 15th floor of the brutalist icon Arlington House with fantastic views.

The first evening, Dave opened up The Hoy specially for us after I asked to book a table for 16 people. I do recommend it: fresh food, local vegetables, reasonable price, excellent service, real ale and a view across the harbour. (#LoveMargate)

The following day was blessed with bright sunshine - perfect weather for a visit to Margate's funfair, Dreamland, re-opened recently with its Wayne Hemingway designs and confident retro-chic. The rides are not intended to compete with Alton Towers but rather to offer a slightly tongue-in-cheek trip to yesteryear with enough g-force to make it fun.


There were enough of us to take over all of the dodgem cars for a session, though only a select few went on what is usually called, I think, the wall of death or something - the one where it spins round and the floor drops away but you are pinned to the wall by centrifugal force. At Margate it is called the Barrel of Laughs. The ride hosts were delighted to have a middle-aged "Vicar" on board (I did correct them) and were amused when I suggested afterwards that it had cured my hernia.

If you are visiting Margate, I do warmly recommend Dreamland. The staff are charming, friendly and genuinely concerned that everyone should have a good time. The whole enterprise is good for Margate, both in attracting visitors and in providing much-needed employment.


The visit was also an opportunity for me to get to the Shell Grotto for the first time. I loved the old advertising poster which says that it is "declared by all the leading Journals to be a very great Curiosity" and that "It is considered the Lion of Margate, one of the World's Wonders, and the most extensive piece of Shell Work in Europe."


There is quite a bit of work going on to restore and clean the Shell Grotto, partly necessitated by its having been "splendidly lighted with gas."

A visit to Margate is not complete without seeing what Turner called "the lovelies skies in all Europe" at sunset. Here is a photo from after dinner at Botany Bay:


Friday, 24 July 2015

Archbishop Gänswein stands up for "faith and healthy doctrine"

Archbishop Gänswein is probably resigned to the fact that he will be forever known as Pope Benedict's secretary, but he is not shy of teaching in his own right. In an interview with Zenit, he referred to the teaching of St John Paul twenty years ago, in which he did not accept that the divorced and remarried could receive Holy Communion. (See Vatican Insider Gänswein:“Host for remarried divorcees is not possible")

In the present discussion, it is worth referring to the 1994 letter Annus Internationalis Familiae, written by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to the Bishops on the subject. Section 6 states:
Members of the faithful who live together as husband and wife with persons other than their legitimate spouses may not receive Holy Communion. Should they judge it possible to do so, pastors and confessors, given the gravity of the matter and the spiritual good of these persons as well as the common good of the Church, have the serious duty to admonish them that such a judgement of conscience openly contradicts the Church's teaching. Pastors in their teaching must also remind the faithful entrusted to their care of this doctrine.
Archbishop Gänswein also addressed the question of why some pastors contradict this teaching:
“Why do some pastors want to propose what’s not possible?” Mgr. Gänswein asked himself. “I don’t know. Perhaps they give in to the spirit of the time; perhaps they allow themselves to be guided by the human applause caused by the media ... To be critical against the mass media is certainly less pleasing, but a pastor must not decide on the basis of applause or even less of the media. The measure is the Gospel, the faith, healthy doctrine, Tradition.”

Thursday, 23 July 2015

New priests for Southwark - St John Fisher pray for us

The Day With Mary in my parish coincided with the priestly Ordination of Fr Mark Higgins and Fr Matt O'Gorman at St George's Cathedral in Southwark. I had to give the parish priority and so was disappointed to miss the ordination, especially since I have known both of these new priests well since some time before they began their formation. I am delighted that they are now part of the brotherhood of the clergy in the Archdiocese of Southwark.

In fact, both of them, as well as Fr James Cadman who was ordained a few weeks ago, are old boys of The John Fisher School in Purley. I am a very-much-older boy of the same school. In my day, Fr Roger Nesbitt started up and ran the Faith Society from which the Faith Movement was formed. Although not all of the many priestly vocations from the school since that time were directly influenced by Faith, many of them were.

When the then Archbishop moved Fr Nesbitt into parish ministry in the mid 1980s (just before my own ordination) it seemed as though perhaps the Faith Society would gradually wind down. Thanks to Sir Dan of the Blogosphere, it has continued for another 30 years - and has continued to foster vocations.

The school is called "The John Fisher School" because it was founded shortly before the canonisation in 1935. Sir Dan does a great job of instructing the boys in the virtues of their patron saint. both he and I are enthusiasts of the school hymn which summarises those virtues admirably. May his prayers assist these fine new priests in their apostolate.

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