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Showing posts from March, 2019

Clearing the confusion over the word "temptation"

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The English word “temptation” can give rise to two areas of confused interpretation. When we speak of the temptations of Jesus, are we saying that He had the same lustful and disordered feelings that we have to fight against? And in the Our Father, do we really need to ask God not to entice us to sin?

The problem is that the English word “temptation” used to have a wider range of meaning. Its normal use nowadays refers solely to the internal experience of being allured to an evil by the perceived pleasure that it might give. We are familiar with the graphic illustration of this in the account of the fall in Genesis; Eve sees that the tree with the forbidden fruit is “good to eat, and fair to the eyes, and delightful to behold.” Being thus tempted, she eats it.

What is unfamiliar to us is that in the 16th century, temptation also had a wider meaning of testing or trial. Nowadays we would not generally be understood if we used the word in this wider sense. If your back pain is a trial,…

Our care and responsibility for Mary

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Quite rightly, we usually think of Our Lady as having care for us, rather than us caring for her. The titles of the Litany of Loreto remind us of many different ways in which she acts as our Mother: she is among other things the refuge of sinners, consoler of the afflicted, and health of the sick.

So how can we talk about our care and responsibility for Mary? Let me first explain where this thought came from. The third saying of Jesus from the Cross is related by St John as follows:
"When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own." (Jn 19:26-27) These verses are part of the gospel for the Mass of Mary the Mother of the Church. St John represents the whole Church, Our Lady is given to him as his mother, and therefore by extension we recognise Our Lady as Mother of the Church. Pope Paul …

Farewell to Margate

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It was sad to have to pack up and leave Margate this week, saying goodbye to such good people who helped with the worship of God, the care of the poor, the formation of children in the faith, and the stuff like unblocking drains and fixing roofs.

My health deteriorated so much by the early part of this year that I was no longer able to discharge the duties and responsibilities of a parish priest, nor was I likely to be able to do so in the foreseeable future. Archbishop Smith kindly accepted my resignation from the office of parish priest and gave his blessing to my convalescing in Bournemouth where I am being looked after by one of my sisters.

Competent medical care and the good cooking of my sister have helped to improve my health considerably over the past couple of months. The community at the Oratory-in-Formation, the Sacred Heart in central Bournemouth, have been most kind to me, first of all by visiting to bring me Holy Communion at home, and then by making it as easy as possi…

Sunday book notices: A courageous German Bishop and a balanced assessment of algorithms

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The Lion of Münster: The Bishop Who Roared Against the Nazis by Daniel Utrecht
Fr Daniel Utrecht, a priest of the Toronto Oratory, has put together an inspiring account of the great bishop of Münster, Count Clemens August von Galen, who courageously spoke out against National Socialist pagan ideology during the second world war. The Nazis knew that his influence with the people was great, and they planned to execute him after they had won the war. After the war, Von Galen also stood up to the allied authorities, and campaigned for reasonable treatment for the Germans. Fr Utrecht conveys the emotion of the return of the Bishop after having been created Cardinal by Pope Pius XII, and his death just six days later.

Hello World: How to be Human in the Age of the Machine by Hannah Fry
An expert in applied mathematics, Hannah Fry is well-placed to examine the risks and benefits of the use of algorithms and their increased influence in everyday life. Covering such areas as diagnosis in medici…

In defence of Gianpietro Carafa, Pope Paul IV (in jest)

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My learned friend, Fr Hunwicke, has written a fair-minded post exculpating our Holy Father from the charge of being the worst pope ever. In this I entirely agree; there have indeed been worse popes, especially in the saeculum obscurum. I must confess to twitching a little, however, when he ranks Pope Paul IV alongside the notorious rogues of that era.

The charges against Pope Paul IV are that he had a ferocious character and that he had such malevolent hostility towards the English Catholic Church during the reign of Queen Mary that he made it easier for Elizabeth I reintroduce the so-called reformation to England.

On the first charge, we might offer the nuanced appraisal of a study by a Jesuit (who, as such, has no particular reason to be generous to Paul IV). He says
Paul was seventy-nine years old when elected, learned and incorruptible, undoubtedly and genuinely reform-minded. But he was also a self-willed, stubborn, intolerant, shortsighted, harsh autocrat with a fierce hatred o…

Bishop Schneider's outstanding interview has implications for the transgenderism debate

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Recently, the bishops of Kazakhstan and Central Asia made their visit to Rome ad limina apostolorum. This is a journey which bishops normally make every five years, to visit the tombs of the apostles St Peter and St Paul, and to give a report to the pope on the state of their dioceses. It is an opportunity for the bishops to acknowledge the universal ordinary jurisdiction of the pope, to receive his counsel, and to manifest their own concerns to him.

LifeSite News has an interview with Bishop Athanasius Schneider who participated in the recent ad limina visit. He says that some of the bishops raised concerns such as Holy Communion for the divorced and civilly "remarried", Holy Communion for Protestant spouses, and the issue of the spread of homosexuality in the Church. Bishop Schneider himself asked the Holy Father to clarify the “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” which Pope Francis signed jointly with with Ahmad el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of al-Az…

Twitter and Lent: two possible approaches

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In a whimsical moment, I posted the following on Twitter:
I am going to try to tweet a bit more for Lent. — Fr Timothy Finigan (@FatherTF) March 5, 2019 Knowing that such brief statements can be radically misunderstood, I thought it would be worth expanding it a little in a medium that does not have a character limit.

Quite a few good Catholics let others know that they are going to give up Twitter for Lent. My opposite statement of intention, though intended to raise a smile among those who feel guilty at continuing to tweet, was certainly not intended as a criticism of the worthy resolution of abstainers. I am quite sincere in this disclaimer and it forms part of my motivation for posting here.

There can be good reasons for giving up Twitter or other social media for Lent. These means of communication can be addictive, as we are daily reminded in articles every day reporting the latest research. Short of real addiction, it can be easy to spend too much time scrolling down the phone, …

The problems with moving Confirmation to before first Communion

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Every now and again, a Bishop who is concerned for his flock decides to put in place a new policy whereby the sacrament of Confirmation is administered before the reception of first Holy Communion.

Usually, the primary justification for this change is that the sacraments are restored to their proper order - everybody knows, don't they, that in the "early Church", Confirmation was received before the Holy Eucharist. The villain of the story is St Pius X who, though a great chap in other ways, messed the sacraments up by radically lowering the age for Holy Communion.

You may have suspected by now that I don't buy any of these arguments. I don't, and furthermore, I think that the practice of putting Confirmation before first Communion in the context of the present practice of the western Church causes a break with both Eastern and Western tradition without offering any worthwhile advantage.

Tertullian is our earliest witness for the rite of Baptism. As the patrolog…

Sunday book notices: Fr Lanzetta on Fatima, and the "Sword and Serpent" trilogy

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Fatima at the Heart of the Church: God's vision of history and oblative spirituality by Fr Serafino M. Lanzetta
Fr Lanzetta explains that Fatima offers us a theology of history and that "history is not already written to the detriment of the freedom of God and of humanity." On the contrary, he argues,
Fatima tells us that history can change, must change, that history is the result of the freedom of people over which rules God’s Providence, with a look of love imbued with justice and mercy.His book goes on to examine the message of Fatima with particular focus on the offering up of penance in atonement for our sins and for those of the world in accordance with Our Lady's wishes. A sometimes challenging book that rewards perseverance.

Sword and Serpent by Taylor Marshall
The Tenth Region of the Night: Sword and Serpent Book II by Taylor Marshall
Storm of Fire and Blood: Sword and Serpent Book III by Taylor Marshall
I wasn't expecting Sword and Serpent to be as good as …

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