Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Fished and frozen

Well, a very happy St Andrew's Day to any Scottish readers. At Mass at Christ the King I was pondering how it felt to be someone like Andrew. One day you are a fisherman by the Sea of Galilee, with your brother Peter and your mates James and John. The next thing, this Jesus from Nazareth comes into your life, and suddenly the whole picture changes. The Gospels tell us that actually it was Andrew who met the Lord first and introduced Peter to him.
I wonder whether Andrew was a little quieter, and, if so, how he handled various moments with his brother. Like when Peter steps out on the lake at the Lord's bidding. "What you doing? Are you crazy?" Or, did Peter confide in Andrew when he denied Our Lord? Well, of couse, we'll never know. But I think it's good to ask ourselves these sort of questions, as it brings the apostles to life, makes them more real. And therefore we can learn more from them.
Well, I haven't posted on here since Thursday. Strange how the snow slooooows everything down - even blogging! The weatherpersons got it wrong on Friday and didn't predict snow for Cardiff. Our car park at St B's is like an ice-rink. Personally I'm glad to hear the drip drip drip of the thaw...

Thursday, 25 November 2010

The great James Cagney

One of Fr M's all-time favourite stars is Jimmy Cagney. Love the gangster films - Angels With Dirty Faces, Public Enemy No.1, White Heat etc. But he was, of course, also a brilliant dancer and entertainer. So here are two videos. The first is Jimmy with Bob Hope doing a fantastic dance routine from the film "The Seven Little Foys" (1955). Boy, could they teach some of today's dancers a thing or two. Thanks to Lorna for drawing my attention to this one.

Next, I could only find a small snippet of one of the best TV interviews I ever saw - Jimmy Cagney on Parkinson. Here he is with buddy Pat O'Brien, reminding us how in real life Jimmy was very different to his gangster persona. Cagney fans will get his story about the kid who asked him whether he really did chicken out. In the interview Parky was trying to draw Jimmy out - surely he had a few little dalliances in Hollywood during his long marriage?  Nope. What, faithful for all that time?  Yep.  So here are Jimmy and Pat, two great old-timers. And for once on TV, I think the emotion is real...

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

A people rich and varied

All kinds of different things have been happening recently.
On Friday evening a special service in Christ the King brought together many who have been through the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) over the last twenty years or so there. We started in the Hall talking about and sharing our own faith stories, then after scripture readings we moved across to the Church for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. I built my parts of the Mass around the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. It all went well and people seemed to get a lot from the celebration. (ps I pinched the pic from another Christ the King parish - shhhh)
Saturday morning it was good to see Sister Margaret of the Little Company of Mary at 9.30 Mass in St Brigid's. She was one of the sisters in Ty Gwyn Road who started off what is now the George Thomas Hospice, but who left us about five years ago. Margaret was elected provincial of the sisters, but she likes to keep in touch with Cardiff.
Later on Saturday many Iraqis gathered here at St Brigid's to celebrate a special Mass in their Chaldean Rite for those who were murdered a few weeks ago in a cathedral in Iraq. They laid fifty or sixty roses and candles over the sanctuary steps, each with the name of a victim, and some of the congregation had relatives among them. Several thanked me for supporting them in their terrible plight.
Sunday was the Feast of Christ the King. Fr Tomy celebrated the Youth Mass on Saturday and the School Mass on Sunday, and he certainly enjoyed them. I had a baptism down at St Brigid's. Then later, in the evening, was the official opening of the refurbished and extended Parish Centre at Christ the King. Monsignor Bob Reardon performed the ceremomy as Diocesan Administrator and former parish priest. Everyone brought food to share and we all chatted for a long while.  Everyone continues to be delighted with the project. Lovely occasion.
Meanwhile, the annual cycle of sacramental preparation, for First Communion and Confirmation is gearing up, and kicked off this evening with the parents meeting for children receiving Communion at Christ the King. I'm so glad that the catechists team who took this on last year have pledged themselves to carry on for another four or five years. They're a great group of mothers, and have clearly gained a lot from it themselves.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Cameras and bottles

So I did my filming bit on Irish immigration into Cardiff (see previous posting) and on the tradition of Corpus Christi yesterday afternoon, and all went well. It was out at the ITV studios at Culverhouse Cross, and took about an hour. First I chatted with the director/interviewer, who told me that the main audience would be children of about 10-11, and was I OK with explaining Corpus Christi to kids with no religious background at all? Oooh yeah, of course... Anyway, lights - camera - action and we were off. I was sat in front of one of those green screen things, enabling them to put videos etc behind me. I took with me, for them to use, some pictures of my great-grandmother who came over from Ireland as a tiny baby. I wonder what she would have thought if she'd known that her picture would be seen by thousands of kids a century later. The exhibition, on Immigration into Cardiff, will probably start at the Old Library in the spring.
Now, time for a Fr M feel-good video. Meet Michel Lauziere, a man who makes music by very unusual means. Watch - and enjoy. Acknowledgements to Charles McD.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Anointings and filmings

After our Mass of Memories last week, we celebrated a Mass of Healing with the sick of the 3 Churches this Saturday. As always, this too was a very meaningful Mass, with the Anointing of the Sick. Afterwards we repaired to the newly refurbished Parish Centre at C the K. Everybody delighted with it. The hall itself is almost unrecognisable - so airy and light. Toilets, kitchen, meeting rooms etc etc, all are great. I'm looking forward to the official opening this coming Sunday - the Feast of Christ the King.  
Talking of the sick - I was called today to a 97 year old in a neighbouring parish where the priest is on holiday. What a lovely lady, so dignified in her advanced years, and so appreciative of the visit. Originally from Grangetown, we knew a few people in common, not least the late and very much missed Fr Jack Fahy, the former parish priest of St Patricks.
This coming Thursday - something different. They are putting together a new museum in town, in the Old Library building. It's going to be all trendy with video displays etc. One of them is going to be about the waves of immigration into Cardiff, including the Irish in the nineteenth century. So yours truly is going to feature in the film, talking about the Catholic dimension and sharing a bit about my mother's forbears, who came over during and after the famine. So this Thursday I've got to go out to Culverhouse Cross to record it. Should be interesting!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Destroy or rebuild

I was checking up on a few other blogs I look at once in a while. It never ceases to amaze me what is out there. Here are two morsels I came across, both absolutely extraordinary in very different ways.
First, here is "The Independent" columnist Virginia Ironside telling us what "any good mother" would do...   Health warning - even the BBC presenter is shocked , so prepare to be upset/annoyed!
Thanks to Fr Ray Blake for that link. After that, here is something very different. I found this site on a youth ministry site. Very creative and challenging, it's a series of images with commentary that gets us to reflect on the Eucharist. Scroll the main images left or right then click on one. It will open up and then just follow the text and images. Close each section at the bottom of its page. It's called Tabled and here's one image from it. Acknowledgements to Rethinking Youth Ministry, which I think must be Methodist or Baptist.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Arles, Anglicans and eye-drops

"Sur le pont d'Avignon...." Bienvenu au blog du Pere M. Yes, the September Pilgrims are heading to France next year, to Provence to be precise. And we are already full with a waiting list - and that's on the day of our reunion meeting from this year's trip. Each year I am bowled over by how folks will put their deposits down in such numbers. After I proposed Provence for 2011, organizer Billy has been working extra hard to put a deal together, with problems concerning companies, hotels etc etc. We're going to stay in Arles (left), visiting Avignon, Nimes, the Camargue, Aix-en-Provence, the Pont du Gard and many other sites. It's somewhere I've wanted to see for ages, so it looks like I'll have 49 others with me when at last I get there!
Now, in the news we've got this business of Anglican bishops becoming Catholic, and joining an Ordinariate. In theory sounds like "a good thing", but I don't quite get it. Why can't they just become Catholic? What are these bits of Anglican inheritance that they are going to be allowed to keep?  I'd like to think that I'm as ecumenical as the next man, but, like so much else in life and particularly in religion it's no good if it ain't real. And I'm not sure that this is... I need to look into it a bit more, I think.
Poor old Fr Tomy had chicken pox two weeks ago and now he's got a viral infection in his eye from it. Welcome to Britain!  Seems that as it's not so common in India, their immunity is lower, and the chicken pox virus, which lies dormant in all of us once we've had it, decided to make a bid for freedom and go for his left eyeball! Anyway, he's fine, and taking loads of eyedrops and stuff. He'll survive.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Love revisited

Some peace and quiet at the end of a good weekend. A chance to catch up with myself and reflect on some good things.
One good thing was our Mass of Memories yesterday. 140 people came this time - a few more each year... We remember, we listen to the words of Jesus, we offer our loved ones to the God who gave them to us, we give thanks and praise for them - and for everything. We receive Jesus - and ask him to receive us too in our bereavement. And we ask Him to hold them - and us - for ever, as he sends us back out into our world. I am very grateful for the Bereavement Group which works so hard to organize this annual event. And, as I tried to say at the end of the Mass, I thank all the wonderful people of our 3 Churches, who give me so much as I try to walk with them.
Another good thing this weekend - the beautiful singing of Matt Cardle on "The X Factor". Don't knock the programme if you haven't heard the likes of him and Rebecca. The song "The First Time" takes me straight back to 1971, my first year in university at Cambridge. I can remember hearing this song sung by Roberta Flack late one evening in my buddy's room - it blew me away as they say, and it still does something special. I've never liked other singers trampling on the sacred ground of Roberta Flack - until I heard Matt sing it last night. What he can do with his voice and his heart is just amazing, and extraordinarily beautiful.
And lastly, something hilarious from a different Matt - one of my friends on Facebook: ‎1. Go to Google maps  2. Go to "Get Directions"  3. Type Japan as the start location  4. Type China as the end location  5. Go to direction #43  6. Laugh.    Excellent.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Where God weeps

Last Sunday, the Syrian Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad was attacked, leaving 58 dead and 75 wounded. Fathers Wasim Sabieh and Thaier Saad Abdal were killed during the attack. A third priest, Father Qatin, was wounded and died later in hospital. The event has shocked and horrified the people of Iraq, as well as Christians around the world.
Our Lady of Salvation Syrian Catholic Church was attacked by men with suicide bombs attached to their belts who took the priests and many people hostage, demanding the release of people being held in Iraq and Egypt. They also made the preposterous claim that Muslim girls from Christian backgrounds were being held prisoner in Egyptian Coptic monasteries and demanded their "release." In response, the Iraqi security forces stormed the Church, killing eight of the terrorists. Unfortunately, the ninth activated his suicide bomb.
At the recent Synod in Rome on the Church in the Middle East, the Iraqi bishops told of the terrorism and violence Christians, as well as other minorities, are facing: kidnappings, bombings of churches, schools and other Christian properties, and threats to Christian businesses, as well as to their lives. Christians have been forced to leave their homes in search of safety, with little hope of returning to Iraq in the near future.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols has said "This massacre has taken a terrible toll on a vulnerable and diminishing Christian community that, along with other religious minorities, continues to suffer persecution. My thoughts and prayers are with all those Iraqis who struggle against violence and extremism. The Christians of the Middle East have a special vocation as peace builders, as the recent Synod emphasised. I know that they will continue to be faithful to that mission and that Catholics in this country will continue to support the Iraqi Church". Pope Benedict declared during the week “Our Lord asked Saul ‘Why do you persecute me?’ He is being persecuted today in the suffering Church of Iraq.”
For a good succinct introduction to the position of Christians in Iraq watch this brief video "Where God weeps", from Aid to the Church in Need. The photo above shows the image of Our Lady damaged in the shooting.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Six months later

So the day arrived, as announced last week. I have been discharged, signed off, dismissed by the nurses of Llanishen Court surgery, God bless 'em! My insect-bite-cellulitis-nasty-remaining-ulcery-thing has been left to my own tender care now that is has ceased its crying and appears to be a small and reassuringly normal scabette. No more Tuesday trips... no more meeting with surprised parishioners a little embarrassed to ask what the parish priest is doing at the surgery etc etc.
In celebration of this momentous event, a little fun video I came across on another Catholic blog. Just five minutes of the human race doing wonderful and crazy things - fellow doing a ski-jump type thing in a  wheelchair, a guy running on water, another one vaulting on a moving car, various mad skateboarders and skiers and basketball players, a man standing on two fingers, people running up walls, moonwalking, and my favourite, a chap balancing on a chair on the edge of a highrise building. Enjoy.

Acknowledgements to James Preece

Monday, 1 November 2010

As November begins

Every so often someone asks me to put the front page article from our 3 Churches newsletter on here, as some folks read the blog but not the newsletter. So here's what I wrote for this week...
I’ve always loved music, and recently I’ve been recalling some of the songs that I remember being around when I was a very little boy (I was, once upon a time!). “Under the Bridges of Paris with Me” was written in the 30s but made popular by Dean Martin (and Eartha Kitt) in 1955. To a little lad Paris might just as well have been on the moon, but thet song just somehow hung in the air.. Another Dean Martin song that I remember being hummed was “Memories are Made of This” from 1956. Memories are so powerful, and they are made up of all kinds of things too... which leads us nicely into November, the month of memories and of the Holy Souls.

Memories and remembering are important parts of our life - and our faith. The very Eucharist itself is a “memorial sacrifice”, where the Jesus whom we remember becomes present among us. In turn, we also bring into the gathering all those whom we wish to remember. We pray for the living and the dead, “those who have gone to their rest in the hope of rising again.”

So let’s bring all our memories into this month of the Holy Souls. You can enter your loved ones’ names in the Book of Remembrance that you will find in each of our 3 Churches. Mass will be offered for them all. You can come along to our very special annual Mass of Memories this coming Saturday at Christ the King 10am. In your day, make a little extra time and space for remembering, praying for those you remember - and don’t forget those who have left few or none to remember them.

The words of “Memories are Made of This” invite us to bring all of our memories together, like a beautiful feast. Then Dean Martin ends by urging us, “With his blessings from above, serve it generously with love”. To my surprise I find myself saying : Amen, Dino.