We are joined at St Cuthbert’s over the next two months by fr. Becket Soule OP of the Dominican Province of St Joseph in the United States. Fr. Becket is Professor of Canon Law at the Pontifical University Josephinum, Columbus, Ohio; he is in Durham as a visiting fellow at the Centre for Catholic Studies. A very warm welcome to fr. Becket!
The Solemnity of St Peter and St Paul, 29 June, is a Holy Day of Obligation when the Church asks Catholics to participate in the celebration of Mass. At St Cuthbert’s a Vigil Mass will be celebrated on Tuesday 28 June at 6:30pm and Mass of the day on Wednesday 29 June at 12:15pm.
Please note that these will be the only Masses on Tuesday 28 and Wednesday 29 June.
The UK faces a momentous choice on Thursday 23 June: on that all sides of the debate can agree. While there isn’t an official Catholic position on whether the UK should remain in the European Union or leave, there are certainly important Catholic principles which should guide our decision.
When making moral choices – i.e. choices about how to act – we are called to make decisions in conscience. That doesn’t mean following some sort of gut feeling, but making reasoned and properly informed choices.
We should, of course, begin our deliberation in prayer: asking that we may be filled with the wisdom and prudence of the Holy Spirit as we weigh up the arguments and come to a decision.
We must make sure that we are informed about the arguments on both sides, and can separate the substantive reasoning from the unsubstantiated speculation and emotional manipulation which so often afflicts political campaigning.
And we must remember that we, the people, are given authority in this matter not just to serve our own individual ends, but in order to serve the common good: the good of the community, whether local, national, European or worldwide. Whether or not we remain part of the EU, we remain part of the communities of our continent and our planet. We must strive so that all these communities may flourish, not merely economically, but in justice, in peace, in solidarity and in everything that leads to true human fulfilment.
Prayer, careful consideration and the common good: these must lie behind our votes on Thursday.
Find out more at www.catholicnews.org.uk/eu-referendum
The last Holy Half Hour of the academic year will take place on Wednesday 22 June before the 7pm Mass – after the celebration of Vespers at 6:15pm, the Blessed Sacrament is exposed and there is opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance (Confession). All are welcome to come along for this time of quiet prayer and reflection before a simple sung Mass.
A Catholic Social Thought and Practice Lecture will be delivered by Prof Martin Daunton (Cambridge) on Time will tell: thinking about intergenerational justice on Monday 20 June 2016, 4:00pm-5:30pm in the Pemberton Lecture Room (PG20), Palace Green.
Please contact Jane Lidstone if you wish to attend – firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 0191 334 1656. Booking is preferred, though not essential.
Dr Claire Daunton (Cambridge) will deliver an Ushaw Lecture Mediaeval Stained Glass and Pugin’s neo-Gothic Designs on Tuesday 21 June.
Drinks Reception, 5:30pm; lecture 6:00pm-7.15pm
Venue: Ushaw College
All are welcome; registration is required. To book a place please email Dr Hannah Thomas, email@example.com or telephone Dr Jane Lidstone on 0191 334 1656. If you need help with transport to and from Ushaw College, please mention this when booking and book by 9am on Friday 17 June.
The parish reading group have arranged to meet for a meal together at The Rose Tree in Shincliffe at 7.30pm on 24 June. Please contact Margaret Harvey (firstname.lastname@example.org or 0191 3840080) if you would like to go.
Future meetings of the reading group will be at 25 Orchard House at 8pm on the following dates:
16 August to discuss J.R.R. Tolkien, Tree and Leaf
25 October to discuss Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch
6 December to discuss Michael Frame, Sweet Dreams.
In the Lutheran Book of Worship (my mother was a Protestant), the different prayers are set side by side, so that the difference in length is obvious. So as a child, I immediately saw which prayer was being used, and inwardly rejoiced if it happened to be the shortest one. Somehow I missed the drama of our redemption as it is recapitulated in the liturgy of the Eucharist!
Eucharistic Prayer I would have put me off. But in zoning out, I would have missed the opportunity to recall the mystery and glory of our salvation in Jesus Christ. Not only that; Eucharistic Prayer I gets its length partly from the lists of saints—apostles and martyrs, and special mention of Abel, Abraham, and Melchizedek.
Now, the saints don’t appear in any of the Eucharistic prayers I heard regularly as a child, which is a pity. Remembering the saints connects our Sunday worship with our weekday life: ‘we ask that through their merits and prayers, in all things we may be defended by your protecting help’. We ask the Lord to ‘admit us into their company, not weighing our merits, but granting us your pardon’. Meditating on the saints (especially if we are fortunate enough to have our namesake mentioned, as two of my children are) also gives us concrete examples of faith, so we have a sense of where we’re asking the Lord to direct his attention when the priest prays that the Lord ‘look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church’. These are the ones who have gone before us in the faith, lights who mark the way of Christ in this life and point us toward the joy of heaven. So the next time Eucharistic Prayer I begins, we should receive it as a gift, and listen for the names of those saints. We pray in communion with them as we gather for the celebration of the Eucharist, and seek to reflect the same light that shone through them as we go forth in the peace of Christ.
Part of a series by Medi Ann Volpe
The last Saturday of the University Term, 18 June 2016, sees a double celebration. At 12:15pm there will be a Mass of Thanksgiving for the academic year now ending. All are warmly invited.
The Mass will be followed by a barbecue and garden party for all members of the Chaplaincy past and present – current students and staff as well as alumni.
NB As a result of these celebrations, there will be no Mass at 9:15am on Saturday 18 June.
The Catholic Society is organising a 24-hour Vigil of Prayer starting with Mass at 12:15pm on Thursday 16 June and concluding with Mass at 12:15pm on Friday 17 June. The church will be open and the Blessed Sacrament exposed throughout the period, and the vigil will be punctuated by the celebration of the Divine Office and other prayers and devotions. The Vigil coincides with a “relay” vigil taking place around various churches of the Deanery and for which we are taking the “night shift!”.
While this is organised by the students, all from the Parish and Deanery (and beyond!) are warmly invited to join the vigil for as little or as long as possible. If you can commit to an hour (or more) before the blessed sacrament, please sign up on the list at the back of the church – we need to ensure that there are at least two people before the Blessed Sacrament throughout the vigil.
Thursday 16 June
12:15 Mass of Exposition
16:00-16:30 Taizé Prayer
17:00-18:00 Confession available
20:00-20:30 Praise and Worship (quiet songs interspersed with silence)
Friday 17 June
07:30-07:50 Office of Readings
12:00-12:10 Angelus and Benediction
12:15 Concluding Mass
For more details contact John Morris, CathSoc Prayer and Worship Secretary, on email@example.com.
Although we hear a variety of Eucharistic prayers at Mass (another legacy of Vatican II), they share the same long history. In the middle of the second century, St Justin Martyr (whose feast we celebrated last week on 1 June), explained what happens at Mass: “There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these things at His hands. And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present express their assent by saying Amen.”
St Justin describes a scene quite similar to our experience of the Mass: the offertory, prayer, and the great Amen. Outside of Mass, however, the situation was very different. The description we have of the Mass comes from Justin’s First Apology, in which he attempted to convince the Emperor not to persecute Christians just for being Christians. Christians were accused of being stupid (by Celsus in particular, later in the second century), and were “excluded from houses and baths and markets” and even from public places in general. Yet during these same years the Church grew exponentially. (See Larry Hurtado, Why on earth did anyone become a Christian in the first three centuries?) The faith that we have received from St Justin and his contemporaries, and all those who have followed in it down the centuries, has shared this same core: the bread, the wine, the thanksgiving, and our wholehearted assent. May the Eucharist strengthen us to meet all the challenges to our faith with the courage of Justin Martyr and all the saints.
The 7:00pm Mass on Wednesday 8 June will be celebrated in the Tunstall Chapel of University College. All are welcome and warmly invited to the Mass. A member of the CathSoc Exec will be at the lodge to direct you to to the chapel.
Because of the college Mass there will be no “holy half hour” of Vespers, exposition and confessions at St Cuthbert’s that Wednesday evening.
Prof Stephan van Erp (University of Leuven) will speak on “World as Sacrament: The Political Theology of the Church” at the Catholic Theology Research Seminar on Tuesday 7 June.
Venue: St Chad’s College, 18 North Bailey
5.15pm for drinks in the SCR; paper and discussion 5.30pm-7.00pm in the Chapel
A group will share a meal afterwards at a local restaurant.
All are welcome to attend. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0191 334 1656 if you wish to attend, noting whether or not you wish to dine afterwards.
The legacy of Vatican II – Mass in the vernacular – is an incredible gift for us. If you remember, or have attended, a Tridentine Mass, the difference will be stark. Whereas in the old Mass, the altar server (boy!) voiced the responses of the congregation, now we voice the responses ourselves, the whole congregation together, mostly in our own language. The act of responding, along with the different postures assumed during the Mass, makes our participation in the Eucharistic prayer more evident. Even though the priest faces the congregation, he’s not talking to us but for us. We do better to think of ourselves as gathered together around the altar. We are all fixed on a single point: the host and the chalice, from which we will receive the most precious body and blood of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that “by the Eucharistic celebration we already unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life when God will be all in all” (CCC 1326). In the Eucharist, “we offer to the Father what he has himself given us: the gifts of his creation” (CCC 1357). Nevertheless, this offering is a sacrifice: a “sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Father…for all his benefits,” especially “creation, redemption, and sanctification” and a “sacrifice of praise by which the Church sings the glory of God in the name of all creation” (CCC 1360-1361). Far from being a prayer that the priest offers, while we are merely the audience, the Eucharistic prayer is a prayer that we offer, and God is the hearer. So let us incline our hearts to the Father and unite our voices with the words spoken by the priest as he prays:
We entreat you, almighty God,
that by the hands of your holy Angel
this offering may be borne to your altar in heaven
in the sight of your divine majesty,
so that as we receive in communion at this altar
the most holy Body and Blood of your Son,
we may be filled with every heavenly blessing and grace.
There will be a Parish Film Night on Saturday 4 June at 7:00pm showing the film adaptation of Robert Bolt’s play about the life of St Thomas More, A Man for all Seasons. This film is one all Catholics in England should see!
All are welcome, and refreshments will be available.
This year’s pilgrimage to Holy Island with Churches Together in Elvet & Shincliffe takes place on Saturday 11 June. A coach will leave the student union building at Dunelm House at 9:30am (please note this is a little later than in recent years) arriving back at Durham at about 8:00pm having travelled via Seahouses. Fares will be just £10.00 for adults and £8.00 for children so please book early to avoid disappointment.
More details and booking forms are on the noticeboard in the narthex.
Please note there is also a student residential retreat to Holy Island the same weekend. See www.lindisfarne2016.uk or the Chaplaincy noticeboard for more details.
Bishop Séamus will shortly be marking the 50th Anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. He will celebrate a Mass in Thanksgiving in St Mary’s Cathedral, Newcastle, on Friday 10 June 2016 at 7:00pm. All in the Diocese are warmly invited.
Following the Council of Constantinople in 381, the emperor Theodosius had the Creed promulgated. But he did not assume that its implications were obvious. So he named several bishops, including Gregory of Nyssa, as trustworthy interpreters. Shortly after the council, Gregory wrote a treatise for catechists (who mostly would have been bishops), which detailed the tenets of the faith. The first doctrine he tackles is the doctrine of the Trinity. After setting forth the doctrine of the Trinity, he explains the purpose of such teaching: ‘a studied examination of the depths of this mystery does, in a veiled way, give [one] a fair, inward apprehension of our teaching on the knowledge of God. [One] cannot, of course, express the ineffable depth of the mystery in words, how the same thing is subject to number and yet escapes it; how is is observed to have distinctions and is yet grasped as a unity; how it admits distinction of Persons, and yet is not divided in underlying essence’. We might well ask what the doctrine of the Trinity does tell us, given that Gregory mostly seems to be saying here what ‘the knowledge of God’ doesn’t include.
For Gregory, ‘the knowledge of God’ refers in the first place to a way of life, a commitment to developing the purity of heart and mind that alone can prepare us to receive God: knowledge of God requires the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Although Gregory would certainly admit that some people are cleverer with words and ideas than others, the real obstacle to our apprehension of God is sin. In the second place, ‘knowledge of God’ means grasping the shape of a mystery. We hold the knowledge that God is Trinity in tension with our incapacity to ‘express the ineffable depth of the mystery in words’. That is, we can be sure that God is Trinity, but not how God is Trinity. Any explanation of mechanics involved in being three and one will fall short of the reality. The rest of the treatise goes on to explain why this mystery is the essence of our salvation. In short, the doctrine of the Trinity is the basis on which Gregory can describe who Jesus is and why he can save us. Far from being an appendix to our theology, the doctrine of the Trinity is the heart of our faith.
The parish reading group meets at 8:00pm on Tuesday 24 May to
discuss David Aaronovitch, Party Animals. The meeting will be at Orchard House, New Elvet, Durham – ring no. 48 at the front door. All are welcome to attend. For more details please contact Margaret Harvey at email@example.com or phone 0191 384 0080.
Durham Churches Together is organising a debate on the EU Referendum at 7:30pm on Friday 27 May at 7:30pm in Durham Town Hall.
Speaking for “remain” are Roberta Blackman Woods MP, businessman David Teasdale and academic Marek Szablewski; for “leave”, Jonathan Arnott MEP, businessman Colin Moran and campaigner Ajay Jagota. The debate will be chaired by Rev. John Durell.
All are welcome.