Sean Loone

Matthew's gospel provides a biblical reflection for Advent on the role of women in God's plan for salvation, writes Sean Loone. The author is a permanent deacon in the Diocese of Birmingham.

In Volume 4 Issue 6 of The Pastoral Review I wrote an article called ‘Born for this,’ which explored the genealogy of Jesus Christ in Matthew’s Gospel. One of the things that struck me in writing that article was the inclusion, by Matthew, of four women: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah. The question I was left with was two-fold: why did Matthew include these women and what, if any, was their relationship to Mary, the last woman to be named in the genealogy? Equally did Matthew see these four women as having the same role as the men he named? This then led me to a further question, did these women have anything in common? That is to say, was there a link to be made firstly between them and secondly with Mary, and if so what was it?

My starting point was the possibility that the four women could be seen as sinners. This is not something new as Jerome made the same point himself. Here, perhaps then, Matthew is making the point, that in and through Jesus sinful and fallen humanity will be saved.

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November/December 2016

Peter Tyler

This article explores India’s classification of the spiritual progress of life, and suggests some lessons this approach can teach us about the demands of a spiritual life in the West today, with special regard to the last phase – the so-called sannya-sa. In particular, it asks the question: are the Indian formulation of sannya-sa and the Christian notion of spiritual development compatible? Peter Tyler is Professor of Pastoral Theology and Spirituality at St Mary’s University, Twickenham.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time
to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down,
and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time
to laugh; a time to mourn,
and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and
a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time
to refrain from embracing. (Ecclesiastes 3.1-5)

Writing in 1924 the Bengali Nobel Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore – then in his early sixties – made a strong contrast between the Western and Eastern approaches to life. ‘In Europe’, he wrote, ‘we see only two divisions of man’s worldly life – the period of training and that of work.

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November/December 2016

Chris Richardson

This article argues that teaching is not only a ministry that traces its origins back to the earliest days of the Church but one that is essentially sacramental and collaborative. Chris Richardson is a retired Catholic secondary headteacher and diocesan commissioner. He is currently a visiting lecturer in Catholic school leadership at St Mary’s University, Twickenham.

Catholic teachers are called to ministry by the whole Church on whose behalf they act. This is frequently recognised by services of dedication at the beginning of a new school year or when a new headteacher is appointed. The teachers commit themselves to serving the community where they work and ask for God’s help in their ministry. On behalf of the Church, a priest often commissions them to fulfil this role. Given the new understanding of ministry arising from Vatican II and recognising that these lay teachers share in the one priesthood of Christ, it should be recognised that it is Christ who calls them and sends them to do his work and the hierarchy of the Church acknowledges this. Rather in the way that two people give the sacrament of matrimony to each other in the presence of a priest the teachers accept their God-given ministry in the presence of a priest.

Teaching in Scripture
There are many references to teachers in the New Testament and it is the same word used by earlier Greek writers such as Plato. It is a word that has an enduring and unambiguous meaning.

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November/December 2016

Evleen Mann

Evleen Mann writes from personal experience. She is a member of the Dympna Circle: three women who write articles of a spiritual and therapeutic nature. Some details have been changed.

In all truth I tell you, when you were young you put on your own belt and walked where you liked; but when you grow old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will put a belt round you and take you where you would rather not go.
John 21.18

We arranged to rendezvous in the peace gardens. It was his idea and I thought it augured well for our last meeting. I stood there expectantly in my best coat for a few seconds before his figure detached itself from a nearby bench and strode towards me. Tall, he wore a smart suit and carried a briefcase. He offered his hand. I shook it. Then we turned towards the river, not wanting or even being able to maintain eye contact too early. I chose an outside table, beside a busy noisy café. He got the coffee. He was gone a long time as there were queues.

I was checking myself internally and emotionally during my wait. Was I feeling ok? Could I go through with it? Was I going to scream and shout and get angry? Was I going to get upset and cry?

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November/December 2016

Sean Whittle

Each year thousands of people from the UK take part in pilgrimages to Lourdes. There is an enduring appeal to Lourdes which transcends both age and social class. Here Sean Whittle, a member of the Hospitalité Notre Dame de Lourdes (HNDL) and frequent participant in pilgrimages to Lourdes, teases out what the enduring appeal of the place is.

In so many ways Lourdes presents a kaleidoscope of contemporary Catholicism. In Lourdes there is often a stark juxtaposition of both the deeply conservative and modern expressions of what it is to belong to the family of the Catholic Church today. In this respect Lourdes is a very inclusive place, drawing together those of us who have often radically different views on what being the Church in the modern world involves.

Lourdes continues to be the most popular centre of pilgrimage in Europe. Whilst more people might visit Rome each year, by no means are all of them making a pilgrimage to the eternal city. Lourdes is different. Almost all of the visitors to Lourdes go there on pilgrimage.

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November/December 2016

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