Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The Feast of Saint Matthew

O God, who with untold mercy were pleased to choose as an Apostle Saint Matthew, the tax collector, grant that, sustained by his example and intercession, we may merit to hold firm in following you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Saint Matthew, pray for us, for all civil servants and for the Jewish people.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

The Feast of Saint Theodore of Canterbury

Almighty God, you called your servant Theodore of Tarsus from Rome to the see of Canterbury, and gave him gifts of grace and wisdom to establish unity where there had been division, and order where there had been chaos: Create in your Church, by the operation of the Holy Spirit, such godly union and concord that it may proclaim, both by word and example, the Gospel of the Prince of Peace; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saint Theodore of Tarsus, pray for us and for England.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

A Church for the Poor, by Martin Charlesworth and Natalie Williams

Martin Charlesworth and Natalie Williams, A Church for the Poor: Transforming the church to reach the poor in Britain today, 2017 David Cook

I have met one of the co-authors of this book, Natalie Williams. She attends my parents' charismatic evangelical church. I think she stood as a parliamentary candidate for the Labour Party somewhere (you can't win all the time). She previously wrote a book 'The Myth of the Undeserving Poor,' which criticised some of the cuts to welfare made by the government. I haven't read, but my father says its good, and he's a Conservative councilor. I have long been unhappy with the approach to social security taken by my party.

This book argues that evangelical churches have become too middle class in their composition and culture and that they need to change to become more effective at reaching out to poorer and working class communities and including poorer people in their life and community. They offer some very helpful practical ideas about how congregations can be more effective in this area. For instance, a lot of church meetings are held in the evenings, which can be difficult for those without cars to attend.

When my parents told me the premise of this book, that evangelical churches are too full of middle class people, I instantly offered a response. I argued that the reason for this is that when poorer people join evangelical churches, they inevitably become more middle class. My parents acknowledged that they knew people who had been converted by their church who had indeed become more middle class since joining. The authors do acknowledge this line of argument. Natalie refers to a conversation with one of her former church leaders who made a similar argument pointing out examples of people she knew at the church who had come from working class backgrounds who Natalie had assumed were very middle class. Our authors point out the solidly working class evangelical chapels of the early Twentieth century. I do suspect, however, that if we had a time machine and visited those chapels, we would find that their membership was primarily of the better off working class, rather than the indigent poor. We might say that these well-dressed working class were the middle class of their own day. I think our authors underestimate the level to which membership of a Protestant (I don't think it's the case with Catholic Churches) church is a driver of upward social mobility.

I was pleased that our authors had a look at what is going on past the Catholic side of the fence. They commend the work of the Vincent De Paul Society and various other Catholic charities and initiatives, though they point out that these are not necessarily integrated into the life of Catholic parishes. They also point out the lack of emphasis on evangelizing the poor in these social action initiatives.

Speaking as a Catholic convert, the cosy middle class community of an evangelical church is something I really miss. There are certainly more working class people in my Catholic parish and even more people of colour than in the average evangelical church. However, their is a cliqueness, with working class whites talking to each other, Filipinos talking to other Filipinos and Indians talking to Indians. While there is more diversity of class and colour, there is the lack of the strong integrated community and social connectedness that one finds in an evangelical church.

I would recommend this book for its challenging insights and concern for an evangelism that reaches the whole of our communities.

5 Reasons not to Live in Sin

Matt Walsh: 5 reasons why living together before marriage will kill your relationship

"It’s not enough to say that cohabitation is different from marriage. The truth is that it’s the direct opposite of marriage. In marriage, you live as one united through sickness and health until death do you part. In cohabitation, you live as two divided, for an undetermined period of time, for as long as it remains convenient until one or both of you decides otherwise. You may point out that many modern marriages function more like the latter than the former, and I’d agree. That’s the point. Cohabitation doesn’t resemble marriage, but, in our culture, marriage increasingly resembles cohabitation.

Couples inevitably bring the cohabitating mindset into marriage because it’s hard to flip the switch, especially when your married life looks on the surface almost exactly like your life before. You leave the wedding reception and return to the apartment you already shared and the lives that were already intertwined in every practical way. The only difference — and it’s a huge one, a defining one — is that now you’ve made a lifelong commitment to one another. But that’s not what you’ve practiced. You haven’t practiced commitment, you’ve practiced avoiding it. You’ve practiced living with this person tenuously and conditionally, and, whether you intend to or not, there’s a good chance you’ll continue on living exactly as you rehearsed."

Matt Walsh does not mention the additional risk to young men of becoming homeless when their girlfriends kick them out. I've met so many young men in the course of my work who have moved in with a woman and then had nowhere to go when the relationship ended.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

The Feast of Saint Cornelius an Saint Cyprian

God our Father, in Saints Cornelius and Cyprian you have given your people an inspiring example of dedication to the pastoral ministry and constant witness to Christ in their suffering. May their prayers and faith give us courage to work for the unity of your Church. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saint Cornelius and Saint Cyprian, pray for us, for Pope Francis and for all bishops.

Friday, 15 September 2017

The Guardian: Theresa May rebukes Donald Trump over tube bombing tweets

The Guardian: Theresa May rebukes Donald Trump over tube bombing tweets

Theresa May has rebuked Donald Trump for suggesting the people responsible for an explosion on a London tube train were known to the Metropolitan police.

The prime minister expressed her frustration as she spoke for the first time about the “cowardly attack” at Parsons Green underground station in west London, which injured at least 22 people.

Trump claimed on Twitter that the terrorist attack involved “sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard”, despite no such information having been released publicly by police. He also blamed it on “loser terrorists”, promoted his travel ban and advocated a “proactive and nasty” policy against Islamic State.

Asked about Trump’s potential breach of convention on intelligence sharing, May was unusually critical of the US president, saying: “I never think it’s helpful for anybody to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation.”

When the president tweeted, no suspect had been identified and no group or individual had claimed responsibility for the blast.

The Met police said the president’s comments regarding Friday morning’s incident were unhelpful and “pure speculation”.

Trump's tweet after the terrorist attack was bizarre.

Delivering on Employment here in Stevenage

Thursday, 14 September 2017

The Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows

O God, who willed that, when your Son was lifted high on the Cross, his Mother should stand close by and share his suffering, grant that your Church, participating with the Virgin Mary in the Passion of Christ, may merit a share in his Resurrection. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

The Litany of Our Lady of Sorrows

V. Lord, have mercy on us.
R. Christ, have mercy on us.
V. Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us.
R. Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of virgins, pray for us.
Mother of the Crucified, [etc.]
Sorrowful Mother
Mournful Mother
Sighing Mother
Afflicted Mother
Foresaken Mother
Desolate Mother
Mother most sad
Mother set around with anguish
Mother overwhelmed by grief
Mother transfixed by a sword
Mother crucified in thy heart
Mother bereaved of thy Son
Sighing Dove
Mother of Dolors
Fount of tears
Sea of bitterness
Field of tribulation
Mass of suffering
Mirror of patience
Rock of constancy
Remedy in perplexity
Joy of the afflicted
Ark of the desolate
Refuge of the abandoned
Shiled of the oppressed
Conqueror of the incredulous
Solace of the wretched
Medicine of the sick
Help of the faint
Strength of the weak
Protectress of those who fight
Haven of the shipwrecked
Calmer of tempests
Companion of the sorrowful
Retreat of those who groan
Terror of the treacherous
Standard-bearer of the Martyrs
Treasure of the Faithful
Light of Confessors
Pearl of Virgins
Comfort of Widows
Joy of all Saints
Queen of thy Servants
Holy Mary, who alone art unexampled

V. Pray for us, most Sorrowful Virgin,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

O God, in whose Passion, according to the prophecy of Simeon, a sword of grief pierced through the most sweet soul of Thy glorious Blessed Virgin Mother Mary: grant that we, who celebrate the memory of her Seven Sorrows, may obtain the happy effect of Thy Passion, Who lives and reigns world without end. Amen.

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us, that we may be ready to suffer with Christ thy son.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Cap X: Scandinavia is no socialist Valhalla

Cap X: Scandinavia is no socialist Valhalla

by Madeline Grant

"Indeed, viewing Scandinavian countries as socialist – or even left-wing – overlooks an essential truth about how their economies are organised. While these nations do have high taxes and generous welfare, in many respects, their markets are unusually free, adopting exactly the kind of policies that the British Left, with its rigid adherence to central planning and intervention, spends its time fighting against.

Last week, the Labour Party pledged a minimum wage of £10 that would apply to all workers, including those aged 16-18. This policy would, if implemented, carry hugely perverse side-effects – with young and unskilled workers all but priced out of the job market.

In contrast, the very concept of central government setting a “one-size fits all” policy to cover all jobs and sectors is utterly alien to the Scandinavian economies. Neither Sweden, Norway nor Denmark actually has a minimum wage. Instead, wages are decided by mutual agreement between unions and employers, which usually vary according to the industry or occupation in question. In this respect, Scandinavian labour markets are far more flexible and decentralised than Britain’s."

Sunday, 10 September 2017

ConservativeHome: An unloved Prime Minister. An inadequate Foreign Secretary. And a hamstrung Trade Secretary. What a Brexit mess.

ConservativeHome: An unloved Prime Minister. An inadequate Foreign Secretary. And a hamstrung Trade Secretary. What a Brexit mess.

by Kieron O'Hara

"David Davis’ public utterances imply that he feels that Britain’s post-Brexit position should be constructed jointly with the EU in order to get the win-win, yet desirable as this is, it is patently unrealistic. In the first place, most EU leaders see Brexit as a massive act of self-harm on the part of the British, and have already moved on. But second, as any casual observer of European politics could have told him, any EU position itself is a carefully negotiated compromise, which is why the EU is spectacularly bad at negotiating with outside entities (as even supporters understand). Michel Barnier simply doesn’t have the clout to adjust his view without a minimum of 27 phone calls to busy people. Britain might have had a chance had it come into the negotiations with a stable idea of where it wanted to be in the future, but it is in the worst possible position now. What looks to Liam Fox like blackmail is simply the intransigence borne of a complex balance of interests (which no longer, of course, include Britain’s). Barnier’s reply to criticism might well be that at least the EU got its position sorted out in advance, unlike some others he could mention.

Britain is spectacularly badly-placed to resolve these matters to its own satisfaction. The unloved Prime Minister has weakened herself; she has no obvious successor, while the Leader of the Opposition is a disgrace. Post-referendum British politics are driven by Brexit. As a result we are represented abroad by a patently inadequate Foreign Secretary, whose one qualification for the job is that he backed the winning side in February, apparently after tossing a coin. We have a Trade Secretary who is forbidden to negotiate any trade deals, reduced to sucking up to the sort of leader who has threatened to bomb schools in his own country. The careers of all three Brexit ministers were pretty well over, until resurrected by Theresa May’s domestic need to include prominent Leavers. On the other hand, the major players pre-referendum (who destroyed their own careers, so one need not feel sympathy for them) are, in their prime, exiled from British politics. George Osborne is having a lovely time editing the Evening Schadenfreude."

Agile Spirit 2017

Catholic Herald: Young Catholics want reverence, not liturgy wars

Catholic Herald: Young Catholics want reverence, not liturgy wars

by Mark Rezac

"From what I have seen, the Traditional Latin Mass appeals to some Catholics, but I don’t think it will ever become the norm again. I personally prefer the Novus Ordo Mass, because it’s the form with which I grew up and with which I am most familiar. I’ve gone to public school my whole life and have never formally been taught Latin, and so I prefer a Mass I understand.

An unscientific poll of my young people friends tends to agree – we haven’t been taught Latin like the previous generations, and we don’t see what’s wrong with a prayerful and reverent Novus Ordo Mass.

Judging by the ever-growing crowd of young people at the Novus Ordo Mass I attend weekly, at which we chant the opening antiphons in English and have incense galore, we’re looking for reverence, but at a Mass we understand."

First Things: What Mary Teaches

First Things: What Mary Teaches

by R.R. Reno

"The Marian doctrines affirm that God has so chosen, in the person of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She does not thereby become a demi-goddess, as many Protestants imagine. On the contrary, she is theologically central to Catholic piety because she is a human being, just like us. With the grace of God, we too can be freed from sin and draw near to God. This is a supernatural hope. It is a hope that depends upon God’s love. But Mary’s example shows that it is a realistic hope.

People often speak of modern secularism as the era in which man “grows up” and assumes free responsibility for his life, rather than remaining dependent on an imagined deity. By this way of thinking, post-Christian society in the West provides opportunities for existential enlargement and energetic self-realization. I’ve found it to be otherwise. We are increasingly satisfied with less and less. The therapeutic language of self-acceptance epitomizes our limited vision. When “being yourself” becomes our highest ambition, we’ve surely hit bottom.

It’s not surprising, therefore, that the Marian doctrines were officially promulgated in the modern era. (The Immaculate Conception was defined in 1854 and the Assumption in 1950.) By clarifying what God has done in the person of Mary, the Church raises our eyes toward the highest goals, teaching the faithful that human flesh is capable of remarkable feats of holiness—even to the point of sinless perfection and fellowship with God in our flesh. This is much-needed good news, in our epoch of self-imposed mediocrity."

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Legalizing Murder

Independent: Universal basic income may be adopted in Scotland providing a weekly cash payment for life

Independent: Universal basic income may be adopted in Scotland providing a weekly cash payment for life

Scotland may adopt a universal basic income scheme that would guarantee a cash payment of up to £150 a week to its citizens for the rest of their lives, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The First Minister said she would fund research into the proposal that would “inform parliament’s thinking for the future”.

The system has been championed as a method to do away with the UK’s welfare system, but critics complain that it is complicated and pointed out that many of the handouts overlap.

Sadly my Tory friends were mocking and dismissive of this idea. I would hope that Ruth Davidson's Scottish Tories would get behind it.

Bloomberg: Don't Believe What Jeff Sessions Said About Jobs

Bloomberg: Don't Believe What Jeff Sessions Said About Jobs

by Noah Smith

"Hundreds of thousands? How did Sessions arrive at this number? It appears that he simply counted the number of adult Dreamers (as the program’s beneficiaries are known) and assumed that each one of them had denied a job to an American.

That’s terrible economics. It’s a classic application of a well-known fallacy called the Lump of Labor -- the idea that there are a fixed number of jobs in the world, and those jobs get divvied up among people.

How do we know this is a fallacy? It’s obvious that the number of jobs in the world isn’t fixed. Imagine if the United States deported every single American except for Jeff Sessions. Would Sessions then have his pick of any job? No, he’d be in the forest trying to eat berries to survive. Kicking people out doesn’t just reallocate jobs from one person to another. It also destroys them."

Theresa May really needs to read this article.