May/June 2015

Romans part 1

?O God, who willed that the grace of Baptism should flourish in these your servants, so that they might strive to follow more closely in the footsteps of your Son, grant, we pray, that, constantly seeking evangelical perfection, they may add to the holiness of your Church and increase her apostolic zeal?

(Collect for Perpetual Profession).???

The diversifying Spirit: The gift of Pentecost

Thomas O?Loughlin

Pentecost falls on 24 May this year. When we think of the Holy Spirit we think of unity, but the Spirit is also the giver of diversity, writes Thomas O?Loughlin, Professor of Historical Theology at the University of Nottingham.

When we mention the Spirit at work in the creation we think of his bringing unity, drawing together, and reconciliation: the Spirit is unifying. But any such stress carried with it twin dangers: first, that we then assume that somehow that is all he does, the Spirit is there to produce unity and the bonds of peace (Eph 4.3); and second, that we then further simplify this action of bringing unity to it being the sort of unity that we produce: uniformity, rigidity, and blandness. So it is useful to remember that the Spirit is simultaneously the giver of diversity ? and that in divine economy that unity and diversity are not in contradiction. It is this richness that our preaching must convey.

The Spirit unites, heals, and any true unity is the fruit of the divine presence. When we recall our unity in the Christ, our unity in baptism, and in discipleship we are not recalling our common commitment, nor shared acceptance of a system of ideas, nor collective adherence to a structure; rather it is the Spirit?s presence that makes us one royal priesthood, a chosen people, and a holy nation.

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Wrestling with Romans ? Part Two

Adrian Graffy

This year marks five hundred years since Martin Luther wrote his Commentary on Romans. In the second of two articles Adrian Graffy continues to explore the doctrinal teaching in the first twelve chapters of Romans. Adrian Graffy is Chair of the National Scripture Working Group at the Bishops? Conference, and a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

In our wrestling with Romans in an earlier article we examined how, in the first five chapters of the letter, Paul points us to the essence of the gospel. We are saved not by observance of the Law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. Human beings are justified by the justice of a faithful and forgiving God. Paul has explained that the grace of Christ Jesus is stronger than sin and death, and that believers have access to the life he brings through faith.

The new life brought by baptism
Paul begins the sixth chapter of the Letter to the Romans with what seems like a reasonable question. If the sin of human beings brought about the superabundant gift of grace from God, ?should we then continue in sin so that grace may abound even more?? He answers his own rhetorical question with a resounding ?No?.

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The First Letter of Peter: A forgotten gem of the New Testament

John Deehan

This article considers the richness and depth of an often overlooked text of the New Testament, written to encourage Christians of Asia Minor. John Deehan is parish priest of St Thomas More Church, Pinner, Middlesex.

Much of the Christian world has been touched by Pope Francis? Exhortation on the proclamation of the gospel in today?s world, ?The Joy of the Gospel?. His focus on Joy, while fresh, is not essentially new: it has been there from the beginning, and we see it in one of the oft forgotten gems of the New Testament which is itself a brief ?Apostolic Exhortation?, namely the First Letter of Peter. Whilst the theme of joy does not dominate Peter?s letter in the way that it does the Exhortation of Pope Francis, nevertheless it undergirds his thinking. As the letter opens the author observes, ? ?though you do not see him (Jesus Christ) you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy? (1.8). As the letter draws to a close he bids his listeners, ? ? rejoice in so far as you share Christ?s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed?(4.13). There is a strong paradox in this joy, similar to the spirit of the eighth and ninth Beatitudes, which the author wishes to affirm and confirm among his readers.

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Responding to the call of Christ. Mary Theresa Led?chowska

Maria Giertych SSPC

Continuing our series to mark the Year of Consecrated Life 2015, Maria Giertych SSPC traces the history of the Missionary Sisters of St Peter Claver.

Consecrated life, deeply rooted in the example and teaching of Christ the Lord, is a gift of God the Father to His Church through the Holy Spirit.
(Vita Consecrata, 1)

At 25 Mary Theresa was an aristocratic and glamorous lady-in-waiting to Grand Duchess Alice at the court of Tuscany, in Salzburg. She would have been well acquainted with important dignitaries and celebrities and would have had worldly interests. She was very talented. But she was also continually searching for something deeper in her life. An article by Cardinal Lavigerie about the slave trade touched her profoundly. Through his words she perceived the voice of God speaking to her heart. It read:

Christian women of Europe it is up to you to make these abominations known everywhere and to stir up against them the indignation of all civilised people.

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