What seems a lifetime ago — only two weeks — I travelled to Adelaide to attend the ordination to the diaconate of one of my dearest friends in the seminary.
Someone remarked to me recently — and I agreed wholeheartedly — that in Michael Romeo, Adelaide will get three priests, such is his competence and work ethic. (I’ll get in trouble if he reads that, so here’s hoping he’s so busy with diaconal duties that he doesn’t have time to read this blog.)
Michael was ordained deacon en route to priestly ordination next year. Ordained with him were Arturo Jimenea and Michael Moore, who will be permanent deacons, dedicating the rest of this lives to diaconal ministry.
Video of the ordination has been uploaded to YouTube. An hour-long YouTube clip is a stretch in whatever circumstance, but the beauty of YouTube is that it leaves you free to watch your own customised highlights package. I recommend watching from 29:48, which begins the rite of ordination itself, and from 46:15, which begins a very beautiful post-communion motet. (I forget which. Maybe someone more conversant with sacred music might identify it.)
Colloquially speaking, deacons “hatch, match, and dispatch.” (They preside at baptisms, marriages and funerals.) More formally:
The deacon’s ministry is to bring God’s Word to believer and unbeliever alike, to preside over public prayer, to baptise, to assist at marriages and bless them. To give viaticum to the dying, and to lead the rites of burial. Once he is consecrated by the laying on of hands, he will perform works of charity in the name of the Bishop. The deacon is to celebrate faithfully the liturgy of hours for the Church and for the whole world.
The “permanent diaconate” was restored to the Latin Church only recently. For many centuries, the only Roman Catholic deacons were “transitional deacons” — that is, men like Rev Romeo, who are ordained deacon in preparation for priestly ordination. The order of “permanent deacons” was restored in 1978.
Notable deacons include St Stephen Protomartyr, St Laurence, and St Francis of Assisi. May they bless and intercede for Michael and his brother deacons, permanent and transitional both.
While I’m leading a group at the Australian Catholic Youth Festival, I’m obviously not at my desk blogging. But through the wonders of technology, here’s something I prepared earlier!
This ten-minute video is a fast and furious foray into the history of the Crusades, which is probably overwhelming if you don’t have any previous knowledge of the subject.
Its greatest strength, though, isn’t its fact and figures, or even its oddball humour, but its underlying and frequently repeated premise: the study of history exposes us to cultures and ideas different to our own. To judge those cultures and ideas by our own cultural and philosophical standards is anachronistic, arrogant, and foolish.
That doesn’t mean that we have to embrace a moral or philosophical relativism. It just means we need to take the contemporaneous claims of historical figures seriously, and not rationalise them through an ideological hermeneutic. I didn’t study a lot of history at university, but the little history I did study was impaired by this very error, typically incorporating a soft-Marxist revisionism.
If I’ve lost you, just watch the video. Even despite its pace, it probably makes a lot more sense than I do.
I’m at the Australian Catholic Youth Festival for the next several days. The ACYF lends itself to comparison with World Youth Day, albeit without the pope.
The pope’s absence, though, may also be its hidden strength. Since His Holiness is not there to act as a drawcard, and to sustain enthusiasm and excitement, the programme of events has to bear a heavier load. And the organisers have facilitated an exceptionally strong programme of events.
The array of workshops and activities is mind-boggling, and beautifully reflects the “here-comes-everybody” catholicity of Catholicism. To illustrate, here are a few of the events the Hamilton Catholic youth group will attend:
- The Catholic Thing, with Fr Chris Ryan MGL. Come on a magical mystery tour of the weird and wonderful world of Catholicism: a world which loves beauty, honours intelligence, and calls you to greatness.
- Mary MacKillop Pilgrimage Walk. St Mary of the Cross is a child of Melbourne. Take a walk down Mary’s streets and let her story become a part of your own.
- Life, love, light. What makes a saint? We are called to sanctify. Get to know more about the inspiring life of Bl Chiara Luce Badano.
- Christian Meditation. Do you want to taste and see the goodness of the Lord? Join the Sisters of Nazareth as they share this powerful form of prayer.
- Hidden Treasure. Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche, tells us that the gift of people with intellectual disability is a hidden treasure. Come and listen to their stories.
- Using Scripture to encounter Jesus, with Archbishop Mark Coleridge.
In addition to such activities, there are constant opportunities for Mass, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and sacramental confession. Included in the mix is the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, which will be offered on the Feast of St Nicholas:
The grave-yard shift is a shame — I doubt my group will want to get up at 6am to get there just in time, and I don’t blame them — but it’s nonetheless heartening to see the EF included. Not so long ago, our liturgical patrimony was simply one more political potato too hot to touch. I’d like to think this is a sign of progress, indicative of more magnanimity and less ideology.
The reason I didn’t blog much in November is that I was preparing the Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy’s journal The Priest, which was posted out this week.
I order my duties in a hierarchy of priority: parish obligations first, diocese second, Opus Dei third, blog fourth. But the blog gets bumped to fifth if something else intervenes, like the bursts of activity that an editorship entails.
Anyway, the issue is out now. Here’s a preview. If you’d like to read more, but you’re not a subscriber, you’d better join the ACCC!
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception occurs in nine days time. This year, 8 December falls on the Second Sunday of Advent, so the feast has been translated to Monday 9 December.
That means — if you’re reading this on Sunday — that it’s not too late to start a novena in honour of our Lady!
If you’re not reading this on Sunday, and you’ve already missed the start of the novena, maybe that’s even better! We should never let the perfect become the enemy of the good. On the one hand, starting a novena late means you can’t do it perfectly, but on the other hand, it means you’re immunised against the old “D’Oh-I-forgot-to-pray-day-6-so-why-bother-praying-days-7-8-and-9″ temptation. (I used to fall for that, until I realised that if I kept to it, I would never finish a novena in my life!)
There are many ways to pray a novena in honour of our Lady. Some novenas are ambitious. Nine daily Masses perhaps, for someone who doesn’t normally frequent daily Mass. Or nine daily rosarys, for someone who doesn’t normally pray a daily rosary.
Some novenas are modest. You could start and end each day with a Memorare. Or — my confessor suggested this one — you could place a holy card depicting our Lady on your desk so that you can glance at it from time to time and pray an aspiration. And each day of the novena, replace the image of our Lady.
I like this idea very much. I have heaps of holy cards, so it’s easy enough to do. But more to the point, it is simple and affectionate. The sort of thing a small child could do. What better way to honour and please our Blessed Mother?
Still, I won’t be at my desk much this week, so I won’t use it on this occasion. Instead, I’ll make use of this prepared text, which adapts the meditations of St Josemaría Escrivá. If you’d like to make a novena of daily reading, or a novena of daily meditation, then you might this useful too. (Just remember that the novena starts and ends one day later this year!)
The Internet can be a wonderful thing. I’ve already described how the web connected Kevin Lee and I. Another such “stranger acquaintance” is Kevin Williams, a pro-life activist and (I’m guessing) evangelical Christian who has produced a film on abortion in the case of rape.
It is called Conceived in Rape, and through it, Williams hopes to communicate that an unplanned pregnancy “doesn’t have to be the end of a life, but rather the beginning of two beautiful lives.”
I would like to share a personal story that is what birthed this project.
About 4 years ago I had been expressing my convictions about abortion to just about anybody who would listen. I had some Christians telling me, “I believe abortion is a sin and is morally wrong — except in the cases of rape and incest. Then it should be allowed.”
I was a fairly new Christian and had yet to read a pro-life book (other than the Bible) and had yet to think this aspect out. I was quite distraught over their statements until it occurred to me that I had not simply prayed and asked God for understanding. So while driving down a lonely mountain road I prayed this simple and heartfelt prayer: “Father, what about children who were conceived in rape and incest?”
I was totally unprepared for what happened next. It felt like a river of love started flowing through me. No words were spoken, no knowledge was imparted, but I experienced overwhelming love. I wept.
As soon as I got home I got busy searching the Internet and read every testimony I could find of people who had either conceived or were conceived from rape or incest. A few days later the Lord woke me up in the middle of the night and imparted to me the absolute certainty that he is going to get these stories out to masses of people. The emphasis on God was so strong that I remember wondering if I was going to play any part in it at all.
At this point I can see that the Lord is the one who did it. I feel a little embarrassed any time I or anybody else says that I’m the producer because, I know that GOD is really the producer.
The film is an hour-long series of interviews with women (and a few men) who are either “rape babies,” or victims of rape. The full-length film can be viewed at www.conceivedinrape.com. Here’s a three-minute trailer:
Williams is also eager to have an extended interview with Ashley Sigrest widely promulgated. In her last year at high school, a classmate raped her and she became pregnant. Despite her pro-life convictions she decided to abort her child. She had hoped — as she was advised — that an abortion would permit her to put the rape behind her, and she could start her life anew.
Wrong, she says. In fact, the abortion made things worse. She describes it as “a one thousand pound weight added to the rape.” Her interview is calm, articulate, and compassionate. It may help other post-abortive women in their recovery and healing.
I contributed a guest post to Campion College’s To The Core blog this week, which I had never heard of prior to the invitation.
Moreover, I’ve only browsed the blog since I submitted my post, and it occurs to me that To The Core is a bit more academic than my musings here, or indeed my offering over there. (My piece is on St Thomas More, and will be published some time next week I think.)
It’s a great blog, which boasts a variety of contributors writing on a variety of subjects. I recommend it.