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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Tuesday, May 23, 2006
More on the Da Vinci Code

An Opinion Research Business poll just published shows that over a third of those millions of Britons who have read the book are “significantly” more suspicious of the Catholic Church – that’s around a couple of million!

We highlighted last week how the basic dishonesty of Dan Brown who gets very basic, easily avai-lable facts wrong whilst claiming to have worked hard to be “fair and balanced” in these areas. One good that can come out of the evil of his completely unfounded calumnies concerning living people and the Christian Faith is that a lot of discussion about our faith has resulted. It’s a chance for us all to grow in our knowledge of the faith which is so important today. So we must inform ourselves.

There is a relevant article by Fr Joe Carola, who spoke very well at our parish meeting last Friday, in the current issue of FAITH magazine (as well as an editorial on it) which is in our newspaper rack, and some CTS pamphlets on the subject in our pamphlet rack. Fr Carola’s article interestingly uses the Early Church Fathers to refute Dan Brown’s fictional theses about the early Church.

Our auxiliary Bishop Alan Hopes has encouraged Parish Priests to pass on the below five points.

Five Facts You Should Know – from our Bishop
· The four New Testament Gospels (known as ‘canonical’) were written in the first century AD. Some scholars consider the Gospel of John may have been completed in the early years of the second century AD.
· These Gospels speak of Mary Magdalene as healed by Jesus, as a companion of Jesus, and as one of those who met the Risen Jesus.
· Other Gospels (known as ‘apocryphal’) were written by members of new sects in the second half of the second century. These Gospels were never accepted by the Church as authentic traditions about Jesus - for they frequently give exaggerated accounts, and portrayals of Jesus.
· Among these, the Gospel of Philip speaks of Mary Magdalene as a ‘companion’ of Jesus. The Gospel of Mary Magdalene narrates a dispute between her and the apostles about a vision given to her.
· No Gospel, whether canonical or apocryphal, ever speaks of marriage between Mary Magdalene and Jesus, nor does any Gospel ever refer to them having a child.
P.S. from Fr Hugh: The claim of the Catholic Church to teach with Christ’s authority is indeed founded upon His divinity and His remaining with us by his Spirit after his Ascension. His claim to divinity is indeed founded upon the Gospels but also the whole Judaeo-Christian interpretation of history as having the purpose of fulfilling the human mind and heart.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 3:47 pm

Friday, May 19, 2006


Inform yoursleves, at 7:30pm, St Mary Magdalen’s Junior School. FOREWARNED IN FOREARMED

What is the ‘Da Vinci Code’? An historical novel, that is a novel which explicitly purports to take some historical facts and weave a possible and entertaining fiction around them. The film is released here on 19th May. That evening we have a helpful talk about it in our Junior school by a Jesuit Prof.

What’s so special about it? It has sold 40 million copies worldwide and four million in Britain.
Is it good? Many find it a ‘page turner’- each chapter ending on a bit of a cliff-hanger. For those who like puzzles or art it can be interesting. But it’s not truly ‘good’ in that it weaves into it’s apparent ‘facts’ blasphem-ies against Christ and slanders a Catholic community called “Opus Dei”.

What are these falsehoods? That Jesus, instead of dying on the Cross, got married to Mary Magdalen and started a royal line. The canonized founder of Opus Dei (OD) is presented as baldly teaching that “pain is good.” OD are presented (on the “Fact” page as well as in the novel) as a “cult” with “dangerous” practices. One of the book’s key characters is presented as a murderous OD monk. OD do not have monks. Dan Brown claims that he worked hard to understand what OD really is. This is hard to believe.

But this doesn’t matter does it, if it’s understood as fiction? Really realizing that certainly helps. But that means being clued up somewhat. One does not usually expect malicious falsehood to play a key part in an historical novel. But the main character in the book, Robert Langdon, who makes a lot of the above ideas believable, is presented, through his clever words and actions, as a very sane and intelligent Harvard Professor.
And careless irreverence is careless irreverence. Haven’t other historical novels done something similar with other historical figures? It’s very unlik-ely that publishers would look at an historical novel on Julius Caesar’s wars that intelligently tried to hypo-thesize that no blood was shed; or on Winston Churchill’s life that cleverly weaved a storyline, supposed-ly consistent with known facts of his life, which suggested he was really a Nazi. Moreover if Dan Brown had done something similar to the Prophet Mohammed, or got Robert Langdon to ‘discover’ that the homosexual community secretly and deliberately caused AIDS, there would have been a 3rd World War.

So how did he get away with it - why are we fair game? Perhaps because integral Catholicism is the most cogent and powerful alternative to secular ‘anti-life’ morality and because we’ve not been very good at communicating and defending ourselves in recent decades.
So should we learn about the book’s falsehoods? Yes, particularly if we are going to see the film
Isn’t it better not to say anything and so discourage further interest? It’s too late for that. So many people have & will read &/or watch it, & so many it seems are somewhat open to its anti-Christian ethos.

Should we go to see the film? Preferably not without arming ourselves with relevant truths. We all have a duty sensibly and intelligently to preserve our sanity, our spirituality and our faith. There is enough confusion and doubt about already! This is particularly relevant in terms of the many teenagers who will be seeing the film. The visual medium can have a strong effect. Bring them with you on Friday eve., 7:30! (Much better and truly inspiring current releases include Shooting Dogs & The Great Silence.)

posted by Sinead Reekie at 10:40 am


In memory of our recently deceased Youth Worker Tillie Callaghan RIP
and as part of the Diocesan ‘Open the Doors’ initiative.

We are hoping to stage the great musical on the amazing life of King David, Rock Of The Anointed, written and previously produced by Tillie Callaghan and Edwin Fawcett. We plan to do this during the diocesan ‘Open the Doors’ weekend July 14th-16th, through and amongst our community, with the help of some others who have performed the musical before.

We have a small committed core group, including our youth worker, Martin Plunkett, who has been involved since the musical’s inception, and has played the lead role. We need to expand this group to include those prepared (and able!) to act and/or produce. Experience and skill useful but all are welcome to come to a meeting and time of audition the week after next. A range of ages and interests are needed. Time to be announced in next week’s newsletter.

Rock of the Anointed arose through the desire of young Catholics to witness to their faith in Christ and the Church in a creative, artistic manner. The life of King David proved a worthy context. He had up and downs, evoked much affection, but also fell through weakness. He is marked out by his preparedness to trust in the mercy of God. God Blessed him for this. The musical has gone through three productions already, the last being during World Youth Day in Cologne last year.

The diocesan Open the Doors weekend is an attempt to reach out to those significantly distanced from the Church and invite them to come closer into the life of Christ’s Mystical Body. This includes those who have not had a significant encounter with Christ in His Church, those baptized Catholics who no longer or go to Mass on Sundays and those on the fringes of our community for whatever reason.

May God’s will be done through this project.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 10:01 am



The Feast of Divine Mercy, was revealed between the two 20th century world wars to the Polish saint & nun Sr Faustina (d.1938). Through her it seems that Our Lord asked us to reflect upon the moment of his death (at 3:00 pm) in the light of his resurrection (at Easter) – linking this with an Eastertide celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He requested us to say the ‘Three O’Clock Prayer’:

"You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls and the ocean of mercy opened up for the world. O Fount of Life and unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelope the whole world and empty yourself upon us. O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in you".

As Pope John Paul II says in his recently published ‘Personal Reflections’ (“Memory and Identity”, available from – 01937.579730):
“It was as if Christ wanted to reveal (through St Faustina) that the limit imposed upon evil, of which man is both perpetrator and victim, is ultimately Divine Mercy …. Christ crucified and Risen is the supreme revelation of this truth…..‘Evil does not have the last word!’. The Paschal Mystery confirms that good is ultimately victorious; that life conquers death and that love triumphs over hate.”

Our Lord promised to Sr Faustina that those who go to Confession and Communion on this Feast Day (or within the week before or after) will receive, as well as forgiveness, complete remission of the need for purifying pain, the punishment resulting from their sin. He also requires that some time be spent on the day in prayer, adoring his mercy. "The very depths of my mercy will be opened on that day.
I will pour out a sea of graces upon those souls that will approach the fount of my mercy... Let no soul fear to come to me, even if its sins be like scarlet. This feast emerged from the bosom of my mercy and is founded in the depth of my mercies. I desire that it be celebrated with great solemnity on the first Sunday after Easter.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:41 am