There is nothing new under the sun: James Martin SJ and Christology 101

As part of our Lenten penance, we are listening to James Martin SJ’s Jesus: A Pilgrimage in the refectory at lunch. It has been not too bad, the bits I have heard; until today. So many blasts from the past: Jesus “discovering” his “call”, “embracing his vocation” as at the wedding feast at Cana. It was the same old tired Christology-from-below (to put it at its best) that triumphed in the 70s and 80s. Truly, there is nothing new under the sun.

But then it turned a great deal worse, in one brief phrase: Martin referred to Jesus as “a fully human person”. It is a sad indictment of the last 50 years or more of deficient catechetics that many will not see the problem. Jesus is a man, isn’t he?

Continue reading “There is nothing new under the sun: James Martin SJ and Christology 101”

Married Priests: The Deeper Issue

Married Priests: The Deeper Issue

A recent interview given by Pope Francis to the German publication Die Zeit has caused alarm once more, stirring the ashes of settled controversies and demonstrating how ineffective the press interview actually is as a medium of papal communication. A quick example suffices. Here is the brief but highlighted take that The Week‘s mobile app took on the interview:

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Continue reading “Married Priests: The Deeper Issue”

A Jeremiad against Pedantry

Though well and truly ageing, I am still capable of naïveté. As a feed for the monastery website I have set up and linked an Instagram account. By means of it it was hoped that tasteful shots taken from those amazing modern pocket computers, the smartphone, might afford visitors and enquirers a little insight into our life at Douai. The world-wise among you are probably already shaking your heads.

In quick succession last summer were Breakfastgate and Lunchgate, when your correspondent posted photos of a monastic breakfast and a monastic lunch taken in the refectory garden (in holiday time our meals are informal). A few people found them decadent, shocked that monks might eat homemade bread with homemade jam and washed down by a mug of coffee, or have glass of wine with the Sunday luncheon roast. But these were minor niggles really. Continue reading “A Jeremiad against Pedantry”

The Death of Diplomacy

In the northern hemisphere people may not be much aware, if at all, of the storm brewing in our cappuccino cups in Australia. Since I am in Australia at the moment it is difficult to escape it. What follows is written on the far south coast of New South Wales, in a small town.

President Trump rang the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull last Sunday. The scheduled hour-long call was, apparently, abruptly terminated by Trump, who, having harangued Mr Turnbull, then hung up on him at the 25-minute mark. Mr Trump, employing his gift for the most superlative of superlatives (no one has superlatives like him, he has the best superlatives), called it the worst call he has made so far to a world leader. Continue reading “The Death of Diplomacy”

Discerning the Shades of Grey

Discerning the Shades of Grey

The older I get the harder it is to make the long flight from London to Sydney in one trip. It is not that the planes are not getting better and the flights a little quicker. They are. Rather, the long-haul jet-set life is for the younger or at least the more acclimated.

One request fulfilled in my coming is to bring some relief to my family from the extraordinary heatwave of the past couple of weeks in Sydney. It was with pleasure that I saw the plane emerge to land from grey cloud, and to find on the ground a far more temperate temperature. Grey is not always bad; in some contexts it can be a relief. Continue reading “Discerning the Shades of Grey”

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and Amoris Latetitia

As you know, in a monastery the monk–priests take turns as principal celebrants of the conventual Mass. At Douai most of us usually offer a few words of reflection, a homilette, of a greater or lesser degree of depth according to the monk involved. (nb depth is not always a virtue!) So this morning I was slated for the Mass, and I was struck by the gospel Mark 3:22–30:

The scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.

“Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

It is a dense and not particularly clear passage at first reading, or even second. But it merits extended reflection in light of the current crisis over the post-synodal apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia. Continue reading “Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and Amoris Latetitia”

Sin and sinners

Sin and sinners

The clerical equivalent of a busman’s holiday in the Bailiwick of Jersey, with the only obligation being the offering of Masses, allows one time to read in the comfortable and hospitably fraternal presybtery at La Cathédrale in St Helier. So while here I have devoured Roger Peyrefitte’s The Knights of Malta, so alarmingly prophetic of the current trials faced by the sovereign order even in the finer details; and Robert Harris’ Conclave (purchased at half price on Jersey, this hardback copy being different to all the others on sale having black-edged pages and a page-marking ribbon) which, despite all the author’s protestations to the contrary, clearly represents some aspects of the modern ecclesiastical reality (and the last twist of which is so absurd as almost to ruin what is otherwise an excellent read; that and his curious translation of the endings of prayers “For Christ our Lord, Amen.” Google Translate?); and just finished minutes ago, Chasing Lost Time: The Life of C.K. Scott Moncrieff, a hardback purchased on sale at Postscript books online. Continue reading “Sin and sinners”