Sunday, February 25, 2007


Tomorrow, Monday, there will be another meeting of our fledgling Catenian Circle. The Catenians are a group of Catholic men who meet regularly to support each other with their friendship. We live in quite a hostile world and it's important for Catholic men to come together in this way.
Of course, it's important for Catholic women to come together too but as yet no one's come up with a female version of the Catenians. Traditionally we've had the UCM (Union of Catholic Mothers), the CWL (Catholic Women's League) and more recently the excellent ACW (Association of Catholic Women). Anyone wishing to start up one of these groups in the parish would be most welcome.
For more details about the Catenian Circle email us by clicking here.


Parishioners will know that I spent Wednesday and Thursday last week being filmed by EWTN for a series of Holy Week reflections. It was a fascinating experience. First of all because it took so long. Lighting is, of course, very important. The Church lights weren't used because they create a flicker on screen, so much of the time was spent setting up special filming lights in order to look as natural as possible. With extra lights shadows become an issue so lots of things in the Church had to be moved to eliminate the shadows they might cast. Then, because it's Lent, there are no flowers in the Church and the Sanctuary looks penitentially bare. On camera, however, it just looks empty so other pieces of furniture had to be moved to break up the empty spaces a bit. Finally, the Sanctuary had to look like Holy Week which is when the meditations will be broadcast. For Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday it meant simply having the statues and Crucifixes covered. For Maundy Thursday, of course, the Altar Crucifix had to be veiled in white and the best vestments had to come out. For Friday everything had to be stripped bare.

We had a good group of people present to be filmed listening to the first meditation. They spent the whole morning in the Church and so we treated them to an Ash Wednesday lunch of soup and a roll. We filmed four meditations on Wednesday and one on Friday. By Wednesday evening I had a much clearer idea of what was required and more familiarity with speaking into a camera - so I re-wrote the next day's reflection: the one which will be broadcast on Maundy Thursday.
You no longer need a special satellite for EWTN, it can be obtained on the Sky network.

In the photo you see Paul the cameraman who had come over with Lesley and Niall - an ever patient and hard-working crew!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Lenten Resolutions

Last year on Palm Sunday we all picked up palm branches and waved them as we welcomed the Lord singing "Hosanna! to the Son of David". Those branches represented our desire to be united with Jesus, to receive him into our hearts and into our homes, to be his followers in the midst of the world.

We know that in Jerusalem two thousand years ago those shouts of welcome and joyful expectation were soon to change. The voices would be distorted into a clamour for him to be crucified. We can marvel at how fickle the people of the time were, how easily they let themselves be influenced by the subtle insinuations of a few powerful figures.

But with Lent round the corner we might ask ourselves what has happened to our own enthusiasm? How have we changed since last Palm Sunday? In our parish we carefully collect all the palms that are left over and we store them in the crypt of the Church. Before Lent we fetch them out and burn them in a special brazier then, using a pestle and mortar, we grind down the charred remains to make the ash for distribution on Ash Wednesday.

Our ash is blacker than that produced at ultra-high temperatures in industrial kilns and it is quite coarse. It is also an eloquent expression of the way in which our good intentions can so easily turn to ash and the need for us to begin again in Lent. I find that it is best to give some thought to Lenten Resolutions in the days before Ash Wednesday because if I leave it until the last minute I usually just rely on the typical fall-backs. Last year a priest friend of mine had a very effective resolution: not to check his emails until after breakfast. By keeping the computer off until later he found he had more time to focus on God in the morning. What will yours be?