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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Monday, July 20, 2009

Last week Pope Benedict approved the beatification of a nineteenth century English priest and Cardinal, John Henry Newman. Beatification is the ceremony in which Christ in the Church pro-claims that someone is in heaven, and can be fruitfully, publically prayed to, and learnt from. It is half-way to being declared a ‘Saint’. The ceremony is likely to take place in St Peter’s Square, Rome, early next year.

John Henry Newman was born in 1801. At the age of 15 he was converted from scepticism to Evangelical Christianity becoming an Anglican minister and Oxford University academic in his early 20’s. In his 30’s, partly through his reading of the Fathers (the first generation of disciples of the Apostles) he became more ‘High Church’ acknowledging the importance of the seven sacraments, the institutional Church and Church Tradition. He became a leader of the influential ‘Oxford Movement’ which brought a section of Anglicanism much closer to Catholicism.

Our own neighbour Church of St Andrews is a ‘high’, ‘Anglo-Catholic’, establishment. So much so that visitors easily mistake it for Roman Catholic – it is though Anglican and not in communion with the Pope and Roman Catholicism. Many, if not all of those Anglican ministers who became Catholic in the 1990’s, after the Anglican Church had claimed the authority to overturn Christian authoritative traditions such as keeping the priesthood for men (& motherhood for women!), were ‘High Church’.

These years began slowly to unravel Newman’s deep-seated distrust of Roman Catholicism, which he had seen as “idolatrous”, with the Pope as the ‘anti-Christ’. In 1845, to the great shock of Victori-an England, he became a Roman Catholic, a priest the following year and a member of the ‘Ora-torian’ congregation the following year, setting up an Oratory in Birmingham and then in London.

He then went into a couple of decades of struggles with former friends, secularist enemies who saw his intellect as a threat, and his own weaknesses: e.g. concerning the practical organization of a Dublin College. This period also saw some of his greatest writing, for instance The Development of Christian Doctrine, Idea of a University, Dream of Gerontius and Apologia Pro Vita Sua.

His approach was to defend the Church and its traditional teaching, as well as calling for an urgent development in the way it explained them. He got a somewhat belated recognition from Rome by being made a Cardinal in his late 70’s. He died in 1890. John Henry Newman, Pray for us.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 11:14 am

Monday, July 13, 2009

As you may know both our local Catholic secondary schools had OFSTED inspections last May. Both got very good reports. Below are some phrases from the reports. Full copies can be obtained from the schools’ themselves and from the internet.

For your information, especially for parents who might be making school applications over the coming year, the diocesan website has a very good facility for finding relevant schools at .Also the Westminster Diocesan directory has a very useful full list of Catholic primary and secondary schools and their contact details by borough. This is sold in our repository, each December and January. It may well be still availble in the Victoria and Kensington Catholoc book shops.

Cardinal Hinsley Mathematics and Computing College
· “the school’s outstanding strengths lie in the care, guidance and support it unstintingly provides, within a strong Christian ethos”.
· “Students enjoy school, feel safe and treat each other with cheerful goodwill and consideration, morale is high”.
· “The school’s care and guidance for students is exemplary”.
· “Students make good progress and there is an upward trend in levels of attainment in all key stages”.

The Convent of Jesus and Mary Language College
“The Convent of Jesus and Mary is an outstanding school where students reach exceptionally high academic standards and develop into confident and articulate young women. […] It is incredibly successful at raising aspirations and increasing students’ motivation to learn. The strong Catholic ethos instils a sense of purpose and self-belief which underpins their outstanding spiritual, moral social and cultural development. Students enjoy living, working and learning together in a well-ordered, purposeful community”

posted by Sinead Reekie at 10:59 am

Monday, July 06, 2009

Bankers and Members of parliament are not the flavour of the month at present. It is said that greed has got the better of some prominent members of these professions.
As Christians we shouldn’t be very shocked by sin. We are accustomed to it. As humans to doing it, and as Christians to understanding a certain tendency, seemingly ‘part of’ human nature, to do it (this comes from Original Sin and disordered desire, or ‘concupiscence’, which we sadly receive at conception). This is sad, even tragic. We cannot settle for it, least of all in ourselves. But it's not a shock. What we are hopefully even more accustomed to as Catholics is the wonder and joy of sincere repentance, forgiveness and amendment. This joy is really why Catholics are accustomed to sin.
This awareness makes it quite a bit easier to recognize the pressure upon us all to sin, those slings and arrows which can reduce our culpability and guilt when we do wrong things. So we make the distinction between sin and sinner. We are called to be very cautious about judging the person.
This is turn helps us to be just about judging behaviour. On the one hand taking care to judge the nature of an actual act that might appear wrong before determining its rectitude, and on the other had calling a spade a spade when things are done wrong, calmly and coolly recognizing the bad, even horrific, effects of sin, working for their and its eradication.
Such justice is crucial. On the one hand we recognize that false accusations, ‘calumny’ and a witch-hunt culture can do untold damage to the innocent (it’s worth remember that even true accusations bandied about for fun are also a sin, the sin of ‘detraction’). On the other hand, given that wrong behaviour of its very nature wounds individual humans and their communities we need to be able to name it for what it is. The alternative to being thus accustomed to sin is being so shocked by it in others that it makes us feel superior and makes it harder for us to show the love and forgiveness needed, or being so shocked by it in ourselves that we are not so open to receiving love and forgiveness. We can respectively become part of a metaphorical lynch mob towards others or go into psychological denial about ourselves. This is not the right reaction to sin. Let us pray that Catholic accustomization may greet our lost leaders

posted by Sinead Reekie at 11:43 am