From archbishops to cardinals... Pope Benedict recently made a bunch of new cardinals at a ceremony in Rome, among whom is the amazing Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York. Cardinal Dolan is quite something, and a wonderful speaker in my humble opinion. So here he is preaching at a Mass a few days ago in St Patrick's Cathedral in New York, after returning from Rome . I especially love how he moves effortlessly from the fun, backslapping part to the serious stuff. He strides around the sanctuary of St Patrick's, so at home among the people of God and in the Lord's home. Big guy, big personality, big heart, big faith. Wonderful.
Saturday, 25 February 2012
So here at St Brigid's we hosted our deanery Lenten Station Mass last night at 7pm. I'm glad to say that it went well. These liturgies require quite a lot of planning, especially as we were welcoming people from other parishes. Who's doing what in the Mass, parking, refreshments, order of service, music, and - especially - managing the clergy, getting them to move at the right time, get to where they are distributing Holy Communion etc etc. Particularly good was the music, as our 3 Churches Choir did a great job at singing the Psalm (a setting specially composed by conductor Les Collins) and a lovely piece at Communion, as well as leading the congregational singing.
The Archbishop was in good form, managing to get in a reference to our September Pilgrimages. His homily developed the ideas from his Pastoral Letter last Sunday - a sort of "Variations on a Theme of My Own". He joined everyone for a cuppa afterwards in the Hall.
Were many there? Well, the Archbishop estimated about 150. You can always do with more on these occasions, but it was good I think, considering it was the first Station Mass for a while, that it was on a Friday and that it was at the time of 7, which may be a little early for some.
So, a good celebration. Now, to get on with Lent...
Monday, 20 February 2012
Time for another video. I caught this amazing one on another Catholic blog that I can recommend, coming from the Archdiocese of Washington DC.
Four college lads have perfected the art of throwing pingpong balls into plastic cups. It must have taken them hours, days, weeks of practice. And yes, I know - they should be spending their time doing something more useful, like studying for example. However, I think it's a great way of reminding ourselves what things we can achieve with practice and dedication.
Lent is around the corner. Are we going to take it seriously, put in some effort and dedication, and really achieve something? Or are we just going to let this moment of grace pass us by... again?
Wednesday, 15 February 2012
Those of a delicate disposition should look away now... because your humble blogger has a confession to make.
How, do you think, did Fr M observe Valentine's Day?
I came home from Mass at St P yesterday morning and Mary the housekeeper greeted me with the devastating truth, "Father Matthew, you've had a bird in your bedroom!" I was rapidly searching my brain to discover what had led her to this conclusion, when she added,"I've just chased it out the window, so it's gone now." It seems that somehow a little sparrow or similar had got into the house and found its way to my bedroom. I then remembered that I had heard some chirping coming from somewhere for a day or two. It must have got trapped in the eaves or something and found its way in. I tell you what, it's a thrill a moment in a Catholic presbytery...
Meanwhile, we hosted the fortnightly meeting of our Fraternity today - our support and prayer group for priests. Still reeling as I was from yesterday's revelations, Mary redeemed herself by putting together for us a lovely chicken and chorizo soup. Yum.
Still much chat, undertandably, about our new archbishop. Last week we priests of the city finally voted to merge the two deaneries into which the city has been divided for a while. So we now need a new dean for Cardiff, and the archbishop has invited us to send in names. We shall see...
Sunday, 12 February 2012
Yesterday was the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. As regulars will know, I am a big fan of pilgrimages, and they don't come any bigger than Lourdes! Strangely, I haven't been there for quite a few years. Our September Pilgrimage doesn't go to Lourdes as there are so many other ways of getting there. But if anyone out there hasn't been - go as soon as possible, to this special place, to the Blessed Sacrament Procession, the baths, the Way of the Cross, the torchlight procession - and to the Grotto, that centre of peace and prayer.
Tuesday saw Archbishop George Stack meeting with us priests from the city of Cardiff, and he shared with us some very interesting ideas and plans.We shall see...
This morning I heard about the death of Whitney Houston, poor lady, with such a beautiful voice, best known for "I Will Always Love You". Crack cocaine is a real scourge. I've got one of her CDs, that I'll play later I think.
To end on a happier note - a brilliant music-and-supper evening last night here at St Brigid's, organised by our excellent Social Group. The courses of a three course meal alternated with performances by professional singer and entertainer Jeff Hooper. Well, I'm afraid I hadn't heard of him, but what a pleasant surprise. Slotted somewhere between Frank Sinatra and Matt Monro, he kept us entertained with his fine voice and good patter, and soon had the audience on his side. Originally from Llantrisant, he has sung with all the local greats, Shirley B, Tom J etc, and has his own Jeff Cooper Swing Easy Big Band. Great evening, Fr M approves. Catch Jeff's website here.
Sunday, 5 February 2012
At approximately 7.30 earlier this evening, I realised that four things were going on in our various rooms, halls, churches etc at the same time. I was in St Brigid's sacristy with our Sunday evening prayer group. Next door one way were the money counters, doing the Sunday collection. The other direction, in the church, were the 3 Churches Choir, busy practising for the Station Mass that we are hosting on 24th February. Meanwhile up in Christ the King Parish Centre, this year's Confirmation programme was getting under way with 20 something youngsters and 5 or 6 catechists.
From time to time I have to remind myself that we are blessed with so many people in our churches here who are willing to be involved. I don't know which is the sweetest sound - charismatics singing in tongues, the choir singing in harmony, the confirmation young people and catechists growing in faith - or the counters counting the money... Only kidding, honest!
Wednesday, 1 February 2012
It's the feast day of the patroness of the Church where I live, St Brigid. We always have an evening Mass, ending with a little procession to the statue of St Brigid which parishionersrs erected in memory of the late Canon Tom Dunne, parish priest here until 2001. After intercessions for the parish I give the final blessing under the statue, holding a St Brigid's Cross.
The first reading for St Brigid is St Paul talking about all of us making up the body of Christ. It struck me how the reeds that go to make up a real St Brigid's Cross are fragile, easily bent or even broken on their own. But together they are strong, and can make something beautiful and inspiring, like a Cross.
Talking of something beautiful, that reminds me of Malcolm Muggeridge's book on Mother Teresa, "Something Beautiful for God", which did so much to get her known. I recently came across this short video about one episode in her work. I'm not sure where it was filmed - in some war-torn part - but the last sequence, about a sister and a patient, I found very moving. Watch the expression on the boy's emaciated face slowly slowly change from fear, anxiety and aloneness, as he is warmed by the massage and, more importantly, the love being shown him, until he reaches for sister's arm at the end.