Sunday, 29 July 2012

Take a break...

Sunday afternoon, sun is shining, Fr Suzon Frederick Rosario installed for the summer. Fr Frederick is all of 34, younger than any priest in our diocese. and hails from Bangla Desh. Then I remember that by the time I was 34 I had been curate in two parishes and parish priest in two parishes also, and was now in further studies in Canada. How times change...
And so to my holidays. I'm off tomorrow for two weeks, so there will be no postings, as I'm not taking any computer gear with me. I'm hoping to visit Bruges, which everybody tells me is beautiful, then spend some time with my family. Be good.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Summer praying

One minute we're in the wettest April to June, the next it's scorching. Beautiful weather the last few days, and it always seems to lift people's spirits. Well, not quite everybody's, as the proposed changes of Mass times upset some folks. I am very sory about that, and just try to do my best to explain the realities and the decisions.
Just watched the final of "Superstar", where I have been so impressed by the standard. I'm feeling a bit smug as my early prediction, Ben, won the contest this evening.
Meanwhile, something to ponder - how is the new translation of the Missal doing? As I have said here before, I have had mixed feelings. On the one hand, I fully agree that some of the previous translation was bland and even emptied of most of its meaning. Now, however, I have really had to struggle to give sense to some of the recent prayers of the Mass, such as this, the Collect for the Fifteenth Sunday.
O God, who show the light of your truth
to those who go astray,
so that they may return to the right path,
give all who for the faith they profess
are accounted Christians
the grace to reject whatever is contrary to the name of Christ
and to strive after all that does it honour.
The grammar here is quite complex, even to read to yourself, and so even harder to convey intelligently with a congregation. I suppose we can take consolation from the little boy who, when his prayers were criticised by his listening mother, reminded her that he wasn't talking to her!
A priest from Bangla Desh, Fr Suzon Rosario is joining us this summer, and I'm looking forward to meeting him this Friday. Then.... Monday - and I'm off for a fortnight's holiday, my first nights away since Christmas week. Yesss...

Friday, 20 July 2012


After Monday's brainstorming meeting about children and youth ministry in our 3 Churches, which went so well, I led another very good meeting last night on the reduction in the number of Masses that is taking place across Cardiff this year. It was a difficult task, but the members of our two Parish Councils and Pastoral Group who came did a fantastic job. It was a mature, reflective gathering, and I must admit it made me feel proud to be parish priest here. Superstars, all of them...
Talking of which, I'm enjoying the current reality/talent show on TV, "Superstar". What is amazing me is the talent of the men, and I fancy the standard is the highest of any of these shows that I have seen. I remember buying the original double LP in about 1971, before it was even a theatre show, so I feel I know the songs really well. The judges aren't as weird as usual either, with Mel C's strangely hypnotis stary eyes, Mr Nice Guy Jason Donovan, Dawn French fancying the black one, and Andrew L-W giving some very enlightening comments.  Catch it on ITV 9.00.
Today was the end of the school term, and we said goodbye to Mrs Bernadette Hancock, headteacher in our parish primary school, Christ the King. She has been  a great leader, a shepherdess with her love of the children and of God at the centre. At a difficult time in education, she took the school through a topnotch Inspection, but as I said at Mass, the real test is whether we are following Jesus. Another Superstar.     

Monday, 16 July 2012

People eating, people planning

Whoooa... Things normally start to quieten down in July, but...
Been out for meals a lot. First, the Fraternity of Priests met here on Wednesday; housekeeper Mary served up one of her humdinger soups as usual. Thursday the priests of the deanery also met here, and 6 or 7 of us had lunch at the Three Arches afterwards. Much talk of clergy moves, but I'm safe at the moment - I think! Thursday evening, out at the Gwaelod-y-Garth Inn celebrating 50th birthdays - had venison. Mmmm..
Friday was out at the Custom House in Penarth with staff and governors of our parish school, Christ the King. We were marking the retirement of Bernadette Hancock, the headteacher, and Les Collins, a long time teacher. Saturday out with Fr T for our regular lunchtime slot - went back to Ffynnon Wen after a while. Yes, well...
And then Sunday - nephew and wife (of last summer's highpoint wedding fame) came and we went out with her sister who is spending the summer working in the Pontypridd area. We hit Nando's in Nantgarw - a first for me. Hey, I really enjoyed the chicken, and we walked it off around Caerphilly Castle.
Workwise - the reduction in the number of Masses is a big issue at the moment. I'm meeting on Thursday with our two Parish Councils and Pastoral Group to try and arrive at what's best for our 3 Churches.
Then this evening we started the process to improve our ministry with children and young people. A brainstorming session attracted about 8 or 9 well motivated folks. It was very good, and arrived at some sound practical decisions which bode well. Watch this space...

Monday, 9 July 2012

A guide for September?

Yes, two postings in one evening! Well it is Monday, traditional clergy day off...
Checking Facebook after a while, I discovered this guy on a friend's posting. Brother Alessandro is a Franciscan friar, and guide at Assisi apparently. And he also has a fine voice. A very fine voice. He has a website here, and an album coming out, apparently in October. So here is a taster, filmed in several of the sites we will be visiting in September on this year's September Pilgrimage. He's singing "Panis Angelicus". I wonder if he'll be guiding us?  Thanks Piotr

3 Churches Mass

Thank God, our annual 3 Churches Mass turned out to be a great celebration. About 350+ folks came along, and we had a large number of people involved, from babies to the not-so-young. We honoured each sacrament at different points along the way. The Sacraments of Initiation came first of course - Baptism and Adult Converts at the Penitential Rite and readings, newly confirmed at the Creed and Intercessions, and First Holy Communion children at the Procession of the Gifts - a lot of gifts! Then I offered a brief meditation on the Sacraments of Healing - Reconciliation before the Sign of Peace, and Anointing before the "Behold the Lamb of God". After Holy Communion, a recently married couple gave a witness to Matrimony and Fr T spoke about Holy Orders - the two Sacraments of Vocation. The morning was rounded off with a bring-and-share lunch. Great celebration, wonderful people.
Glad to see that the BBC's "The Hollow Crown" continued well on Saturday with "Henry IV Part One" - though not quite as good as last week's "Richard II", I think. Also coming second was Andy Murray, who attracted a lot of attention with his emotional brief interview afterwards. Yes, we do like the underdog, and especially nowadays, one who sheds a tear. Was this a case of St Paul's "When  am weak I am strong"? And what is that gesture that AM does when he wins? Answers please...

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Richard II, BA and salvation

I'm liking the BBC's Shakespeare season a lot. I caught up with their "Richard II" on iPlayer. It was broadcast on Saturday, the first in the series of five history plays that they are calling "The Hollow Crown" - itself a quotation from "Richard II". It continues with Henry IV parts 1,2 and 3, plus Henry V. I thought it was excellent, fully meriting five stars that The Times review gave it.  First class acting, Ben Wishaw playing the extremely difficult role of the King, Rory Kinnear as Bolingbroke - watch him in the abdication scene, David Suchet etc etc; beautiful filming in settings like the nave of St David's Catheedral, various castles - I think I spotted Chepstow in there - and coves, some of which I am sure must be in Pembrokeshire or Cardiganshire. Again, it all goes to show how brilliant Shakespeare really is. I followed up with Trevor Nunn last night, talking about the astonishing "Tempest", and suggesting that this, his last play, is really all about Shakespeare himself, the artist, the human being, the fallible, the reflection of you and me. Find "Richard II" here. Fr M approves, mucho.
Next, a friend put up on Facebook a very clever advert for British Airways that is personalised to your postcode.  If you're on Facebook, find it here, and watch carefully about three quarters of the way through...
Lastly, a picture that someone else put up, which is also very clever and quite challenging in its way. I love Spider Man hanging upside down to find out from the expert how saving the world is really done!