Sunday, 29 April 2007
Professor Waldstein went on to look at the two main enemies of the vision illustrated in the Song of Songs. The first, he said, is biology, meaning by that a purely scientific way of viewing the body, in which we are just complex biological machines. The second enemy is concupiscence, the look at another by which we objectify and dehumanise another person. Professor Waldstein interestingly reiterated what one of our previous T of the B speakers said (Fr. Mark Withoos), which is that painted nudes such as those in the Sistine Chapel reveal the soul in the body - JPII called the chapel a shrine of the Theology of the Body - whereas it is difficult for photographs to capture effectively anything beyond the body. Professor Waldstein said that the problem with pornography is not that it reveals too much, but that it reveals too little, and those who view it see too little, i.e. they do not see the soul of a person.
Finally, Professor Waldstein touched on Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI''s landmark encyclical which spoke against the use of contraception in marriage. We heard how the sexual act is both unitive and procreative, and one aspect cannot exist without the other. The unitive aspect of sex depends upon the procreative aspect, because in procreation the man and woman are saying they want to have visible signs of their union and that they want to share together the responsibility of bringing up these visible signs, their children. But Professor Waldstein also said there can be no procreation without union, which sounds a little odd when we are used to seeing procreation as a merely biological act. He said that procreation isn't just biological, but also entails the rearing of a child in a loving and healthy environment, forming their individual personhood beyond birth, and this requires a united relationship in marriage.
Whew! That's a lot to take in, sorry to bombard you with my notes. I figured these posts could use a bit more academic rigour every once in a while.
Saturday, 28 April 2007
Wednesday, 25 April 2007
'‘Bless the Lord my soul, and bless his holy name…’ when you pass Soho and hear the awesome hymns in the morning, at midday, at dusk, please stop in your tracks and enter the Church.
Don’t think that so many prayers and everyday going to church for Mass belongs to priests’ and nuns’ lives, don’t think those young people who are busy for the Church are seminarians. Don’t think evangelisation is far away from lay people. Don’t give yourself plenty of reasons to explain why you have no time to go to church. One day all those things happened in myself. What I am telling you is amazing and remarkable, because all those describe my daily life. I am Mandy, 22 years old, one part of St Patrick’s evangelisation school; it is a 9 month course for me to live close to God. There is a space for participating and there is a space for experiencing what love is. There are Challenges and you need Courage to open your mouth to witness about your faith to others.There are 9 months living in mum’s womb, peaceful and safe and filled with joys. From feeling a stranger, to becoming at home in, to loving the community life, I found what is the most important thing in my life, and what is the value of mankind.'
Tuesday, 24 April 2007
Monday night was our fourth culture night to date, this time led by Ewa, Iwona and Wadim in a Polish extravaganza of soup, sausage, chicken, pork, fish, pickles, potato pancake thingummies, cheesecake, sweets - and lots of Polish songs! Stolat! Yestesh Polakiem! The culture nights are always a wonderful occasion in the life of the School because we can share something of our background with the community in a way that words can't express. Arnold, the Polish cook for the students who was our guest, had tears in his eyes because he was so reminded of home, and the Poles had a transcendent glow on their faces (which wasn't merely the holiness that they have a reputation of bringing to the School!). It's at times like these that we really feel all together...
Tonight we helped out with Open House meal for the homeless. This meal was a bit more chaotic - it seems there was a glitch with the queuing system and as a consequence the homeless were late in being served. Tempers got a bit frayed and a few times Fr. Alex or a volunteer had to step in to maintain the situation. It's not always easy to serve the homeless, but it's a very rewarding task, especially when we have the chance to talk to them and get to know their past. Mother Theresa said, as we have often been reminded here, that we must 'love until it hurts.' I suppose many of the volunteers for Open House come because they are seeking to do just that - or to get a taste of it at least. Many of the homeless are very grateful for what they receive, and make it known to us. Tonight, as with the last few times, we prepared some prayer and meditation for the homeless before dinner, and afterwards one of the volunteers sang a beautiful 'Ave Maria'.
Monday, 16 April 2007
'My name is Vincent Gardiner, I am British, and I am 22 years old. I was looking to give a year to God, to deepen my relationship with Him and discern my vocation in a community focused on prayer. I was not particularly prayerful before I came to SPES, and knew I needed to improve.
The School has exceeded my expectations in every way. Spending so much time in prayer and with prayerful people has changed me in a way that I could not have imagined. I now know that God is never outdone in generosity - He has given back so much more than I could give Him.
My favourite activity is SOS Prayerline, where we pray with people who call a telephone number. The faith and honesty of the many different callers always touches me and helps me to grow in faith, and I am sure that our prayers, before the Blessed Sacrament for four hours, are answered.'
Thursday, 12 April 2007
Friday, 6 April 2007
This morning we did the Stations of the Cross through the streets of Soho, particularly in the areas where the sex shops and 'models' are. Fr. Alex spoke to us of the love of Christ which we often refuse, like Peter at the washing of the feet, to take on any terms but our own. Many people in the shadier parts of Soho are hardened to love of God which comes through the Cross. We prayed for the conversion of ourselves and for others. When we came to the Station the Death of Jesus in Soho Square on our way back, one man started insulting us and accusing us of intolerance to gays and everything else 'normal'. Unfortunately a fight broke out between him and a man who had joined us halfway through the Stations, and some broke it up while we continued on. We had the sense that this really was what Calvary was like! On the way into church we fittingly sang 'Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est,' a reminder of what really is at the heart of our faith.
In the afternoon we had the Passion of Jesus sung by the choir, and the Veneration of the Cross.The church was absolutely packed as we were warned it would be - people have a very keen sense of Jesus as saviour it would seem. Fr. Alex was assisted by Deacon Mike, a seminarian from the North American College in Rome who is here for the week and who will be ordained to the priesthood this summer. This evening we are watching Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, always good to see at this time. Tomorrow we have the Easter Vigil, the mother of all vigils as Fr. Alex calls it, so we're going to be kept on our toes for a while yet! If you are around please come - it's at 9.00 tomorrow night.
Wednesday, 4 April 2007
Yesterday we went to Westminster Cathedral to witness the Chrism Mass for the priests of the diocese. Today they renewed their vows to imitate Christ and to be good pastors for their people, for whom they lay down their lives. The oil used at Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders was also blessed by Cardinal Cormac so that it can be distributed to all the parishes for the coming year. That same oil will be used to initiate Sian, a catechumen in our parish, into the Church on the vigil at St. Patrick's this Saturday. We turned up early at the cathedral yesterday so that we could encourage people to pray for priests, and so that we could show thanks to the priests for all that they do for us lay faithful. We were joined by Joanna Bogle and the Catholic Women's League, who came like a whirlwind on the scene to get things really going. They've been coming now for a couple of years, and were glad to see that they had some reserves this year! Across the square was a group of women protesting the lack of women priests in the Church, saying that they felt they had a vocation and that the talents of women were being neglected. But most of the people on our side were women, and they seemed to have no problem with Church teaching on the matter. We made a lot of noise!