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Expulsion from Eden

SEPTUAGESIMA, SEXAGESIMA, QUINQUAGESIMA

The Church’s traditional liturgical calendar gives us the three weeks of Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima to get us in training for Lent, our annual attempt at a forty days spiritual marathon. We start our training by soberly recalling the essential facts of our existence and our destiny: our creation, the Fall, the promise of redemption, the life of grace, the cost of discipleship, the malice of the Evil One, the mercy of Christ, the offer of salvation, the hope of glory. These three pre-Lenten Sundays have wisely been restored in the rite now proper to the Catholic Ordinariates (olim Anglicani). ...

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Presentation

CANDLEMAS

Our Lady carried into the old temple a new and living temple, a new and better temple not made of stone but of living flesh and blood, the flesh and blood of Messiah. In that strange encounter, when the new temple came to replace the former, our Lady heard Simeon’s prophetic words but doubtless she did not fully understand their import. Thirty three years later when our Lady stood at the foot of the cross, the mysterious destiny of her Son, the new temple, became painfully clear to her. She realized why it was that He had to die. It ...

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Church on rock

CHRISTIAN UNITY

In his writings St Paul makes it very clear that in his preaching he was passing on to his listeners something that he himself had been given, not something that he had invented: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I had received.” St Paul received a direct and personal revelation from Christ the Lord. That revelation transformed  Saul from being a vicious persecutor of the Church, and converted him into being Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, the most inspiring and most effective missionary the Church has ever had. St Paul’s life exemplifies our human destiny; ...

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SPN hand & heart

MORTIFYING THE RAZIONALE

Saint Philip Neri (1515-1595) said “The sanctity of a man lies in the breadth of three fingers (the forehead), that is to say, in mortifying the understanding, which would fain reason upon things.” The shorter version of his maxim is “Holiness is three fingers deep”.  With these words the saint exhorts us to mortify the razionale – our habit of trusting too much in our capacity for reasoning. Saint Philip’s maxim does not propose an irrational approach to the life of faith. He simply warns us of the spiritual danger in overvaluing our own intellect. He meant that we come ...

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CHRIST THE LIGHT OF ALL NATIONS

At Lauds of the Epiphany the antiphon for the Benedictus is a shining example of how liturgical texts can disclose the fuller meaning of the gospels, meanings and connexions which are easily missed when we make the mistake of reading the Bible in an excessively literalist way, as if it were a Wikipedia article. “Today the Church is joined to the heavenly Spouse, for in the Jordan Christ washed away her offences: the Magi hasten with gifts to the royal nuptials, and the guests are gladdened by the water become wine, alleluia.”  In the incarnation of the eternal Son, the ...

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Shepherds at crib

VERBUM CARO FACTUM EST

THE FATHERS AND BROTHERS OF THE BIRMINGHAM ORATORY WISH ALL OUR PARISHIONERS, FRIENDS, AND BENEFACTORS THE PEACE AND BLESSINGS OF CHRISTMAS  

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Burning Bush

SUNDAY 18TH DECEMBER – O ADONAI

Adonai is the Old Testament’s way of writing the name of God. Via its Greek equivalent, Kyrios, it is best translated into English as Lord. That same title includes the connotation of Israel’s Lawgiver and Leader. Israel’s Lord manifested His presence to Moses on Mount Sinai. Moses perceived the divine presence as something which suggested the likeness of a burning bush. This was a likeness, not a photograph. In the novena leading to Christmas eve the liturgy uses the title Adonai to address the Son of God within the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in expectation of His nativity: ...

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Narnia frozen

THE GREAT THAW

Christ said that John the Baptist was the greatest man ever born of woman. That makes John greater than Isaiah, or Jeremiah, or any of the other prophets. Why? Because those earlier prophets had foretold that Christ would come. But John correctly identified Him when He finally did arrive, pointing to him and saying “Behold the Lamb of God!”   The Lord asked those who had gone to hear John preaching: “What did you go out to see – a reed swaying in the wind?”  Beside the river Jordan are innumerable tall reeds swaying to and fro in the breeze. ...

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TOTA PULCHRA

The Almighty gave this world into our charge as His stewards. He gave us a garden of surpassing loveliness to care for. What a mess we have made of our stewardship. Spiritually and morally we have turned the garden into a jungle. Since the Fall from grace of our primordial parents, all human beings come into the world fatally flawed, with an innate talent for uglifying the garden. As a result of the Fall it is always to be expected that we humans shall spoil the picture. However, the situation is not hopeless. The great Artist, whose creativity far surpasses ...

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Second Coming (1)

BACK TO REALITY

Advent brings our wandering attention back to the four Last Things; death, judgement, hell and heaven. In Advent we look up towards the transcendental horizon from whence Christ the Lord will return. The coming of the Lord is contemplated under a double focus. First we are assailed by St John the Baptist, the Lord’s stern and uncompromising precursor. John warns us of judgement and urges us to repentance with his fiery denunciations. Brood of vipers! Flee from the wrath to come! When the Lord returns He will judge the human race in omniscient detail. Under His penetrating gaze no single ...

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