November/December 2015

Preaching Luke with love (1)

Gerald O’Collins SJ

In response to Pope Francis’ call for better preaching, we continue a series taking examples from all four gospels. Gerald O’Collins SJ is adjunct professor of Australia Catholic University.

‘Preparation for preaching requires love. We devote periods of quiet time only to the things or the people we love’ (The Joy of the Gospel, 146). With such words Pope Francis encourages preachers in their ‘wonderful but difficult task of joining loving hearts, the hearts of the Lord and his people’ (no. 143). Let me take up this challenge of love.

The Magnificat and the Benedictus at Christmas
On 22 December and 24 December, respectively, the Gospel is the Magnificat (Luke 1.46–55) and then the Benedictus (Luke 1.b68–79). In any case we hear and use those two wonderful hymns on many other occasions during the year.

The Magnificat and the Benedictus are both great songs of praise, praise that we express to God our Saviour.

Login for more...

Written for Our Instruction (3): Spirit in the Letter to the Romans

Thomas D. Stegman SJ

The third in a series of articles on the rich theology contained in Paul’s Letter to the Romans. Thomas D. Stegman SJ is professor of New Testament at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, USA.

We continue our reflections on the theological significance of Romans by looking at what Paul says about ‘the Spirit of holiness’ (1.4) and ‘the power of the Holy Spirit’ (15.13). While it would be anachronistic to read back onto him later Trinitarian doctrine, it must be said that what would be articulated in more metaphysical terminology centuries later extrapolates, in large part, what is found in his letters. And no letter is more important for examining Paul’s pneumatology than Romans (in fact, its eighth chapter contains the most sustained treatment of the Spirit in the New Testament).

Login for more...

The compassionate hero. Theodore Bayley Hardy VC, DSO, MC

Paul Hypher

As an army Chaplain in the First World War, Theodore Bayley Hardy exemplified the true meaning and practice of priestly ministry, writes Paul Hypher. The author is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Southwark.

The First World War terms of reference for Catholic Chaplains, like the heroic Fr Willie Doyle, were clear: to celebrate Mass and administer the Sacraments. This was what Catholic troops, the majority from Irish Regiments, expected. RC chaplains were respected and the men, having received the sacraments, were renowned for facing death with fortitude and inner peace.
For Church of England Chaplains the situation was different. The alienation of Church of England Chaplains from officers and men in World War I was an issue both during and after the war, especially given the secularist and pacifist reactions of the 1920’s and 1930’s.

In 1914 there were only 167 Army Chaplains of all denominations; by the end of the war there were 3,475. This rapid increase led to a lack of clear objectives and resources, especially in the Church of England.

Login for more...

The Crib: Decoration or Liturgical Event?

Thomas O’Loughlin

The crib in church at Christmas is a familiar sight, but its role in liturgical celebration is often overlooked. Thomas O’Loughlin examines the ways in which the crib is at the heart of our Christian memory of the nativity accounts. The author is Professor of Historical Theology at the University of Nottingham.

The crib is one of the most popular religious symbols of Christmas, and its preparation and use is part of the community’s Christmas liturgy. However, the building of the crib, what it communicates, and where it is located do not often figure on the agenda of those planning the liturgy, and the crib itself often gives the impression of being thrown up in a hurry, with little thought about its significance or potential for liturgical celebration.

Login for more...

Year of Consecrated Life 2015 – Consecrated widow

Elizabeth Rees OCV

This article examines the history of consecrated widowhood, and looks at its theology and relevance today.
Elizabeth Rees OCV is director of a small House of Prayer in rural Somerset.

At the time of writing this article, the Vatican is about to release a document on consecrated widowhood. This ancient form of vowed life has been quietly growing since Vatican II, alongside consecrated virginity, which the Council once again restored to women living in the world. As early as the 1940s a group of war widows in France began to make vows as widows. Vita Consecrata (1996) the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope St John Paul II on consecrated life in the Church today, speaks of this state:

Again being practised today is the consecration of widows, known since apostolic times (cf. 1 Tim. 5.5, 9-10; 1 Cor. 7.8), as well as the consecration of widowers.

Login for more...