November 15, 2020
I was born a Catholic and some of my ancestors have been so since mid -18th century, when there was quite a push to revive the Faith in Northumberland. Since then many of the family have followed the faith of their fathers. It is disappointing that our children and grandchildren no longer practise their religion.
My late teenage/early adulthood was taken up with being in an order of monks which nursed- the hospitaller Brothers of St Joh of God (I did my State Registration training there). some of the early Brothers of the Order were on the Spanish armada. Besides consolidating my knowledge of the church, its function and history, it taught me values of giving oneself to the those disadvantaged, physically and mentally even at the peril of one’s own life. St Joh of od a Spanish soldier, turned caring religious was a great role model.After 6 years I left because I realised Icould not reach the standards set for me.
After a year trying teacher training, I joined the Capuchon branch of the Franciscans. After 7 months, I realised a preaching order was not for me. An abiding sense of how faithful Francis was to the ideals he set himself reamins with me .
Since then, I have kept up regular regualr practice, going to Mass daily if possible. However, the current situation of the church is very disillusioning.
The main benefit in going to Mass regularly is to hear the reading from the bible. The reformers and many of outr more fundamental CHristian colleages are so right in their insistence on this. The uniquely Catholic part of the Maas is the Consecration of bread and wIne into the the Body and Blood of Christ. This joins the odinary man to Christ. (It has benn nmy long term provielege to be a Eucharistic Minister (since 1982) and take Christ in the host to the sich in their own hoemes to to those in hospital. Besides the sacramental/ spiritual side of this, there is a warming social side, linking the person to his local parish. It shows that somebody cares on several levels for the person visited. .
What is sad is to have witnessed a receding over the years is a receding sense of mission by the church. I have more recently been stopped doing my ministerial visiting in my home parish. Whether the clergy like or not, the only way the church’s mission is through its ‘ordinary’ members, like us.
The English clergy and the especially the bishops of England and Wales seem to be no better than an specialised adult male club, wanting to protect their priveleges and status. The last ‘Sexual Abuse’ report (November 2020) would seem to con firm this view of the church. In the light of so many social, political, employment and health issues and much more, where is the leadership at national, diocesan and parish level? Why do the hierarchy and lesser clergy not showing us all (the despicable word the clergy use is ’laity’ – as if lesser mortals) how Christ’s example and His clear precepts are to be fulfilled. They need to lead us in concern for the disadvantaged of any caste, level of society, status, colour, race sexuality and in protest and actual safegauding victims of physical, employment and industrial injustice – in short how to love of God and His fellow men women and children . Too many words, committes , decrees, and encyclicals and not enough action to fulfil the Mission, shown in the past and in places like Africa and Borneo at all levels of the Church.