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Archive for July, 2013

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Many, many congratulations to Krakow for being named as the host city for World Youth Day 2016. There are no hard feelings from us here in London and the UK: this is clearly the Lord’s will; Poland will be a fantastic host country; and we will be there in our thousands. I am already working out how many coaches we can get to go from the University Chaplaincy in London.

If you want to see the development of the WYD London 2016 idea, you can read my original post from last year here, and an update here. I’ll close the London 2016 Facebook event soon, in case it confuses anyone! But of course I couldn’t resist setting up a World Youth Day London 2022 Facebook event (there are 17 people going as I type now…).

Why 2022? Traditionally, World Youth Day alternates between Europe and outside-Europe. 2016 will be in Krakow. 2019 will probably be outside Europe. So 2022 will be the next chance for London and the UK to host WYD. Theoretically, there could be a gap of just two years between one WYD and the next (as there was between Madrid 2011 and Rio 2013), but personally I think three years is much better.

2022 seems like a long, long way away – but it gives us something to work on and look forward to for the next nine years.

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Allen Hall

As you can see from the photo, the chapel at Allen Hall is being refurbished. I wrote about this a few months ago. We have been using the upstairs chapel for the last few weeks; the main chapel is completely closed off for the building work.

What you cannot see very well – but do take a close look at the photo – is one of the most significant aspects of the refurbishment work. The huge silver crucifix, which originally hung on the outside of the chapel, and was then moved inside into the sanctuary a few years ago, has now been restored to its original position. If you peer carefully you can make out the figure of Jesus in the centre and the sun reflecting from his shoulder and head.

So within a few weeks, when the scaffolding is taken down, this fundamental symbol of Christian faith will be giving witness to all those who come down Beaufort Street – especially those on the upper deck of the many buses that pass here every hour. What a wonderful sign of the New Evangelisation, and of the renewal that has been taking place at the seminary over the last few years, that the Cross of Jesus Christ is no longer hidden away in the chapel but brought out into the public square. (And don’t worry – we have a new hanging crucifix being designed to replace it inside the chapel).

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There are quite a few retreats, conferences and prayer festivals coming up this summer for young Catholics who fall roughly into the ’16 to 35′ category. I’ve copied below details about just four that I have come across recently. If you know about any others please add them into the comments. If you are bored, rich, and slightly too fervent for your own good, then I think you can manage to go from one to the other almost without returning home.

The video here is for World Youth Day Rio:

Bright Lights 2013: World Youth Day @ Home, 26 to 29 July

Brightlights is an annual Catholic young adults festival open to anyone between the ages of 16- 30.  In the past 13 years it has grown from being a diocesan festival to serving most of the South East of England and further afield.

In 2013 we are joining forces with many dioceses to give you an experience of World Youth Day at home.

The theme of World Youth Day this year is ‘Go and make disciples of all peoples – Mt 28:19’.

This theme will be explored through the weekend with talks from world-class speakers, workshops from international organisations and a wide choice of seminars.

Please see the World Youth Day Rio website for a discussion of the theme:
http://www.rio2013.com/en/world-youth-day/wyd-theme

The Faith Movement, Summer Conference, 29 July to 2 Aug

“Friendship with God – the Meaning of Following Christ “

Woldingham School, Surrey. . Monday 29th July – Friday 2nd August 2013

Age range: 16-35

Five days of talks, discussion, prayer and socialising.

The full cost of a booking for the 2013 Conference is £155 with a reduced student/unwaged rate of £130. The cost includes full board with all meals. As ever we rely on the generosity of benefactors to be able to provide a reduced student rate and therefore we would encourage those who can afford to pay a little extra to be as generous as possible.

To enable everyone to have an opportunity to attend further subsidies can often be arranged for those in genuine financial hardship. Should you wish to be considered for a subsidised place please telephone 0141 945 0393,email us or contact Ann McCallion at 9, Herma Street, Cadder, Glasgow G23 5AP.To avoid disappointment you are encouraged to book your place as soon as possible. Places will be allocated on a strictly first come first served basis. The Booking form is to be found below and  Absolutely no places will be booked without a completed booking form.  To avoid delay, e-mail the form to us. Once your booking form has been received you will be sent the programme for the Summer Conference and an information sheet with all the practical and travel details you will need.
Closing date for Bookings – Monday 15th July 2013

Places reserved but not paid for by this date will be offered to people on the waiting list.) .

Scottish Coach details can be obtained from Ann McCallion

Explaining the Catholic Faith in the Modern World

THE 6TH ANNUAL EVANGELIUM CONFERENCE WILL BE HELD 2TH – 4TH AUGUST 2013, THE READING ORATORY SCHOOL

Advanced Booking Online Now!
or Download Booking Form (PDF)

Young adults (18 to 35) are invited to attend the sixth Evangelium weekend residential conference on the theme of explaining the Catholic faith in the modern world:

  • dynamic talks by excellent speakers
  • mix with other young people who share your faith
  • discuss and talk informally with our speakers
  • daily Mass and eucharistic adoration
  • opportunities for confession
  • relax in the beautiful grounds
  • opportunities for sport and evening entertainment

The Conference is organised by the Evangelium Project and sponsored by the Catholic Truth Society. Confirmed speakers for 2013:

Rt Rev. Mark Davies – Bishop of Shrewsbury

Fr Jerome Bertram – Oxford Oratory

Dr James Bogle – Chairman of the Catholic Union

Joanna Bogle – Writer and BroadcasterDr Alan Fimister – International Theological Institute

Fr John Hermer – Lecturer in Sacred Scripture, Allen Hall Seminary

Fr Marcus Holden – Maryvale Tutor, Custodian of the National Shrine of St Augustine, Ramsgate

Fr Reto Nay – Founder of Gloria TV

Dr William Newton – International Theological Institute

Fr Andrew Pinsent – Faculty of Theology, Oxford University, and formerly a Physicist at CERN

Fr Nicholas Schofield – Parish Priest, Historian and Archivist of Westminster Archdiocese

Dr Joseph Shaw – Faculty of Philosophy, Oxford University

Fr Ed Tomlinson – Priest of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham

Sr Mary Trinity – Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT)

Youth 2000, Walsingham Festival, 22 to 26 August

GET READY FOR

The biggest annual Catholic Youth Event in the UK… Get ready for a fresh experience of faith and friendship… Get ready for Kingdom Come @ Walsingham: Sunshine, Tents, Adoration, Worship, Engaging talks, Silence, Saints, Workshops, Sports and more. Join over 1,000 young adults 16-30 to experience the love and power of God in your love, as we pray: Your will be done God!

WHO

The event is primarily for young people between the ages of 16 and 25, although it is open to young adults up to aged 35. All under 18 year olds will need a completed parental consent form which will be available in the next few days, and send in along with your donations.

WHERE

The Roman Catholic Shrine of Our Lady, Walsingham, Norfolk, NR22 6AL, UK

ACCOMMODATION

There will be separate free accommodation available for men and women – you just need to bring a sleeping bag, roll-mat and wash kit.

COSTS

Suggested donation is £100 per person to cover the cost of the retreat (this includes all meals / refreshments, accommodation, a small donation is offered to the speakers and workshop leaders, equipment, insurance and resources).

MORE INFO

Further Information: email: info@youth2000.org or call 020 7221 2124.

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It was good be at the Installation of Bishop Alan Hopes as Fourth Bishop of East Anglia on Tuesday. What a magnificent Cathedral they have in East Anglia; it’s hard to believe it was built just to be a parish church.

The heart of an episcopal ‘installation’ is just that: you install the bishop, you put him where he is meant to be, like a household appliance or a new piece of computer software.

The ‘place’ where he is meant to be is the cathedra, the bishop’s chair, which signifies his authority as the chief shepherd and teacher within the diocese. A cathedral, remember, is not just the biggest or most beautiful church in a diocese, but the one that contains the cathedra; and in Rome, for example, it is therefore St John Lateran and not St Peter’s.

Bp Alan Hopes installation Mass, photo by Mazur, catholicnews.org.uk

The photo shows Archbishop Vincent Nichols addressing Bishop Alan just after he has been led to the cathedra.

This text gives you a flavour of this central moment:

The Archbishop leads the Bishop-Elect to the cathedra and says:

In the name of God, I, Vincent Nichols, Archbishop and Metropolitan of Westminster, do install you, Alan Hopes, Bishop in this Church of East Anglia. May our Lord Jesus Christ watch over you now and always.

The Archbishop installs the Bishop in the cathedra.

The Archbishop presents him with the Book of the Gospels saying:

Bishop Alan, receive this Book of the Gospels and preach the Word of God to the Church of East Anglia, teaching always with zeal and love.

The Archbishop then presents the Crozier to Bishop Alan saying:

Bishop Alan, at the wish of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, you have assumed the pastoral charge of the Church of East Anglia. I hand you this Crozier, the sign of the shepherd’s office and ministry. May the Lord sustain you in your care for the people of the Diocese.

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I’ve been very conscious of increasingly strong links between Catholics and evangelical Christians at various levels. The recent HTB Leadership Conference made a big impression – whether it was the high-profile plenary interview between Nicky Gumbel and Cardinal Schönborn, or the conversations between ordinary delegates about faith and mission. And you could even say that the warmth and commonality between Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin Welby is another ‘Catholic-Evangelical’ signal.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mlcas/8630017702/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/mlcas/8630017696/

If you are interested in following up this topic, and in case you have never seen it, take a look at this agreed statement that was made a long way back in 1994, Evangelicals & Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium. A couple of weeks ago I heard George Weigel mention the text, and then a friend from the Ordinariate brought it to my attention as well. Something is in the air!

Here is the ‘We Affirm Together’ section from the Evangelicals & Catholics Together document. You can see the full list of participants at the bottom of the statement. Catholic representatives included Weigel himself, Cardinal Avery Dulles, and Cardinal (then Bishop) Francis George.

Jesus Christ is Lord. That is the first and final affirmation that Christians make about all of reality. He is the One sent by God to be Lord and Savior of all: “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4) Christians are people ahead of time, those who proclaim now what will one day be acknowledged by all, that Jesus Christ is Lord. (Philippians 2)

We affirm together that we are justified by grace through faith because of Christ. Living faith is active in love that is nothing less than the love of Christ, for we together say with Paul: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2)

All who accept Christ as Lord and Savior are brothers and sisters in Christ. Evangelicals and Catholics are brothers and sisters in Christ. We have not chosen one another, just as we have not chosen Christ. He has chosen us, and he has chosen us to be his together. (John 15) However imperfect our communion with one another, however deep our disagreements with one another, we recognize that there is but one church of Christ. There is one church because there is one Christ and the church is his body. However difficult the way, we recognize that we are called by God to a fuller realization of our unity in the body of Christ. The only unity to which we would give expression is unity in the truth, and the truth is this: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4)

We affirm together that Christians are to teach and live in obedience to the divinely inspired Scriptures, which are the infallible Word of God. We further affirm together that Christ has promised to his church the gift of the Holy Spirit who will lead us into all truth in discerning and declaring the teaching of Scripture. (John 16) We recognize together that the Holy Spirit has so guided his church in the past. In, for instance, the formation of the canon of the Scriptures, and in the orthodox response to the great Christological and Trinitarian controversies of the early centuries, we confidently acknowledge the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In faithful response to the Spirit’s leading, the church formulated the Apostles Creed, which we can and hereby do affirm together as an accurate statement of scriptural truth:

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

 

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I’ve just finished reading Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. It’s a sprawling, fascinating, maddening book that is badly in need of a copy-editor. But one of Taleb’s pet hates (he has many) is copy-editors.

antifragile

There is a simple and profound central idea. Think of anything at all: a person, an idea, a relationship, a business, a country, a piece of technology, an ecosystem.

Some things are fragile. When some kind of crisis occurs, an unexpected event, a systemic shock – then they break. It might mean a small bit of damage or the destruction of the entire unit. Fragile things are harmed by crises.

What is the opposite of fragile? Our instinct is to use words like robust, strong, solid, resilient, perhaps flexible or adaptable. Robust and flexible things do not break when a shock comes; they can withstand crises and shocks. That’s true. They are unharmed. But this isn’t the opposite of fragile. The opposite would involve something that positively benefits from a crisis or a shock, that comes out better rather than just the same. We genuinely don’t have a word for this, which is why Taleb invents one: antifragilility.

He gives a neat illustration. If you put something fragile in the post, like a teapot, you pack it carefully and put a big sticker on the outside saying, ‘Fragile: Handle with Care’. What is the ‘opposite’ kind of package? You are tempted to say this would be a robust or strong parcel. But if you send something in the post that is more-or-less unbreakable, like a block of wood or a stone, you don’t put a sticker on the outside saying ‘Unbreakable: Don’t Be Anxious About This’, you just send it without any warning signs. The opposite kind of package, with something antifragile inside, would have a sticker saying something like this: ‘Antifragile: Handle Carelessly, Drop Me, Be Reckless With Me, Try To Damage Me’.

What would go into such a package?

Taleb shows how many things in life and society are antifragile. They actually benefit from crises and shocks, at least within certain limits. The human body is one example, it doesn’t benefit from being pampered, it grows stronger through certain shocks and stresses – within limits. Some ideas only develop through challenges and awkward confrontations. Some businesses are perfectly poised to benefit from difficult and unexpected situations, because they are able to adapt and seize new opportunities. Some relationships are able to discover new depths and different kinds of intimacy through problems and difficulties.

What is it that makes some things fragile, some robust, and some antifragile? You’ll have to read the book yourself!

The other big theme is the nature of rationality: how we try to predict the unpredictable, and when we fail and are caught off guard we try to pretend we knew what was going to happen. It’s much wiser, argues Taleb, to admit that many things, especially future crises and disasters, are completely beyond our powers of reasoning (even though they may be rational in themselves). The trick is not to be ready for a particular unexpected event, which is by its very nature unpredictable, but to be ready for something unexpected and unpredictable to happen, so that when it does happen we are able to react in a creative and intelligent way, bringing an unexpected good out of these unexpected difficult circumstances (antifragility), and to create systems that are resilient to major shocks or at least not set up so that they will shatter when the first unpredictable jolt takes place (a certain kind of flexibility and robustness).

It was the perfect bedtime book for me. Easy to read, full of stories, provocative. And it genuinely made me rethink a lot of things I had taken for granted without question before.

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There have been a few articles recently about the advantages of the one-child family and growing up sibling-free.

Where the Wild Things Are graffiti in Streatham  by linniekin

Colin Brazier, Sky News presenter and father of six, puts the other side. The title of his piece is ‘Why having big families is good for you (and cheaper)‘. Here are some highlights.

Some of the most startling literature comes from medical research. It has long been known that siblings – by sharing germs at a young age and mutually priming immune systems – provide some protection against atopic conditions such as hay fever and eczema. But the latest breakthroughs suggest growing up with a brother or sister can also guard against food allergies, multiple sclerosis and some cancers. For reasons that have yet to be fully fathomed, these benefits do not apply to children simply by dint of spending time sharing bugs with other youngsters – as they would, for instance, in day care.

The other “epidemics” of modern childhood, obesity and depression, are also potentially reduced by exposure to siblings. A clutch of major studies from all over the world shows that the more siblings a child has, the thinner they will be. Put simply, siblings help children burn off fat. One American study honed its analysis down to an amazingly precise deduction: with each extra brother or sister, a child will be, on average, 14 per cent less obese. Reductio ad absurdum? We can scoff at such a definitive conclusion, until we realise that no one in medical academia has suggested that having a sibling ever made anyone fatter.

None of this is rocket science. When we compare like with like, regardless of family background, children with siblings tend to enjoy better mental health. Obviously, again, this is to generalise massively. The world is full of jolly singletons. But dig into some of the big data sets out there and unignorable patterns emerge. On experiences on which nation states hold a big corpus of statistics, events such as divorce and death, for example, strong correlations exist.

Cause is not always correlation, but it stands to reason that when parents split up or die, a child will benefit from having a sibling to turn to. That solidarity runs throughout the lifespan. After all, a sibling is for life, not just for childhood.

Indeed, policymakers with an eye to areas beyond elderly care may need to wake up to the shifting sands of family composition. In the late 20th century, the received wisdom among sociologists was that it mattered not a jot to society at large whether more people were sticking to one child. Now that assumption is being questioned. Is the valuable role played by siblings in elderly care factored into the welfare debate? Will an economy with fewer creative middle children be as competitive? How easy will the state find waging war when more parents are reluctant to see their only child march to the front?

More broadly, the last decade has seen a major evolution in academic thinking about siblings. They have ousted parents as being the key driver behind personality development. And where, 30 years ago, academics such as Toni Falbo argued that to be born an only child was to have won the lottery of life, now research is running in the opposite direction.

A slew of reports by serious scholars, such as Prof Judy Dunn of King’s College London, have chipped away at the idea that family size is the product of a consequence-free decision. Researchers have shown that “siblinged” children will have stronger soft skills and keener emotional intelligence than single children. They will be better at gratification deferment (because they have learnt to wait their turn) and hit motor milestones such as walking and talking more rapidly than those without sibling stimulation.

Some of the most recent evidence even suggests that a child with a brother and/or sister will have more evolved language skills and do better at exams. This information is truly revolutionary. For decades, the assumption of academic ideas such as the Dilution Theory has been that less is more.

Have too many children and, as a parent, you will not be able to leverage your resources on to a solitary stellar-achieving child. Indeed, for parents who cannot stop themselves hovering above and over-scheduling their hurried offspring, a sibling for their one-and-only can be the antidote to pushy parenting.

I don’t think this is about a binary ‘right or wrong’, with the consequent stigmatising of one size of family over another. There are many different reasons why some families are larger and some smaller. But it’s good to be aware that some of the alarmist articles about the costs of raising children are extremely one-sided.

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