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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Friday, May 04, 2012
Fifth Sunday of Easter 6th May 2012
Spot the Difference
One of my priest friends was in a taxi recently and the conversation got round to religion. It ended abruptly when the driver observed, “Catholic and Muslim is the same, innit. Just Jesus is different.”

It is amusing but does rather underline the creep in our society of a religious and moral pluralism. This is appropriate as I am writing this on the feast of the martyrs of England and Wales. These are the priests arrested and killed for their ministry and those laymen and women who suffered the same fate because they hid them in their homes between 1535 and 1680.

For us, the prospect of being hung, drawn and quartered for our faith is inconceivable. However, there are other ways in which we can participate in suffering for what Christ and His Church believe.

Take for example the headteacher and chair of governors at St Philomena’s school in Croydon and the Catholic Education Service of England and Wales who have been mauled in the national press for upholding the Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage and saying that children should be allowed to support the petition to uphold marriage. The inoffensive wording is, “I support the legal definition of marriage which is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. I oppose any attempt to redefine it.” But the official response goes, “Schools have a responsibility under law to ensure children are insulated from political activity and campaigning in the classroom.” Goodness knows what else the authorities will try to prevent us teaching by turning our faith into a political issue.

But suffering for our faith can be about more than just words. Bishop John Hine of Southwark joined the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants in a prayer vigil across the road from the Marie Stopes clinic in Maidstone. During the fourth Sorrowful mystery one pro-choice campaigner threw a bucket of water over those praying, another berated one of the priests in an “in-your-face” manner with most appalling language and a third spat at the bishop.

I must admit that I haven’t encountered such hostility outside the Marie Stopes clinic near Warren Street. On the contrary, on my first day there in the freezing cold of winter, one young lady stopped to talk to one of those praying and decided against an abortion and to keep the baby. Prayer does work!

That prayer vigil is organised by the Good Counsel Network. This group of dedicated Catholics offers advice to those contemplating an abortion – they point out the physical and psychological risks and then talk about God’s plan for the mother and baby to women of all faiths and none. Along with the Holy Family Sisters of the Needy, the Network then supports women who have decided not to have a termination in practical and emotional ways. Their ministry is firmly rooted in prayer and they have Mass every day in their chapel at lunchtime followed by Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament during the afternoon which ends with Benediction at the close of the working day. At all times, one of the team is in the chapel praying for the success of their apostolate and once a month they have an all-night vigil.

Naturally all of these structures cost money and the founder and Mother Superior of our own Sisters were thrilled by your Lenten generosity. But I would ask you next week to help the Good Counsel Network with your prayers and any financial assistance you may be able to provide, please.

In the midst of our small trials, we would do well to look at Aunt San Suu Kyi and Chen Guangcheng and ask the martyrs of our country to obtain for us the grace to stand up for what is right and not simply accept the status quo.

Fr Kevin

posted by Sinead Reekie at 12:51 pm