July/August 2017

Ordinary time

Anthony Towey

As the excitement of the celebratory Sundays of Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity and Corpus Christi gives way to the more predictable sequence typical of the Cycle A readings, there can be a temptation to settle into a kind of liturgical automatic pilot. Since almost by definition, Ordinary Time connotes a low expectation, low octane period, there is a danger of spiritual switch off until Advent when the cycle of special times starts again.

This temptation is exacerbated by the prevailing Western mindset whereby time is something of an empty category stretching out ahead of us. We organize time with our diaries and planners, mastering our futures with perhaps misplaced confidence. Yet the Hebrew conceptualization of time was somewhat different - it was much more closely identified with event.

We note in Genesis that the first day is understood to be the first day not because twenty four hours have elapsed, but because an evening and a morning have taken place (Gen. 1:5). The month is marked by the moon and the rural realities of sowing and harvesting eventually mark the year. Beautifully, the week is marked by Shabbat, a day where the slave and even the ox and donkey can rest from labour in order to contemplate the wonder of God and creation (Gen. 2.3). There is charm as well as truth in the idea that to live a long life, to 'wax old' was to be 'full of days' (2 Chron. 24:15) and the understanding of a lifetime as a constellation of events is put most lyrically in the famous passage of Ecclesiastes 3.1:

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die

If time is event then there is a sense in which it is never ordinary, life itself becomes more a case of how attentive we are rather than how 'long' we live - at least as much a matter of staying awake as staying alive. In debunking our common conceptualization of time, Einstein pointed out its relativity. 'Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That's relativity.' This cosmic yet commonplace view is disarmingly holistic since it makes time and life, more or less what we make of them. I'm reminded of a classic anecdote told by a friend who while living in a religious house, answered the door to a tramp looking for money with the disclaimer, 'Sorry - I can't give you anything - I don't really live here - I'm just passing through'. 'Yes Father,' came the reply, 'but we are all just passing through... '

We are indeed 'all passing through' and the death of our beloved editor reminds us of that. Yet if our faith teaches us anything it is not that we are passing through but how we are passing through which actually defines us. To that end, this issue will take stock of some of the achievements of Michael Hayes and the impression he made on just some of the people who knew him and worked alongside him in ministry and academia. the Pastoral Review has also taken this opportunity to reprint an important article by Michael on the theological disposition for ministry which epitomizes his thinking and first appeared in its sister publication New Diaconal Review.

Thereafter, I think it is possible to see that the various contributions which make up the rest of the current issue once more exemplify Michael's constructive inclusivity. Articles on formation, encounter, RCIA, spirituality in schools, pilgrimage and care for the elderly as well as book reviews on Fatima and the sermons of Oscar Romero demonstrate a range of concerns, insights and pastoral practicality. And weaving the liturgical tapestry, the reflections on the Sunday and daily readings provide, as always, nourishment and sanctification of our ordinary time.

Alan Murphy, who led the MA in Catholic School Leadership at St Mary's for many years, described Michael as 'one of the few people whom I would call an educational visionary'. I think this is true, and while it meant life wasn't dull, being a visionary could have consequences for colleagues. Here at St Mary's, we once teased him after a sermon in the University Chapel that it was the first time he had stood up in public for four years and not announced a new degree, short course or academic initiative. He took it all in good humour but needless to say, he didn't back off in terms of leadership: 'We have to do the work,' he would say, 'This is our time'.

We have to do the work, this is our time. If 'the life and death of each of us has its influence on others' (Rom. 14.7), if our calling is to 'live life to the full' (John 10.10) and to 'put out into the deep' (Luke 5.4), then Michael has left us good examples as a priest and professor, editor and executive, teacher and therapist, as a brother, son and friend. If we are to witness to his legacy, to the faith of his family and his homeland, then our work should be thoughtful, eventful, cheerful, generous, audacious and pastoral. For even on an ordinary day, the love of Christ renders time eternal.

For now we are seeing a dim reflection in a mirror; but then we shall be seeing face to face. The knowledge that I have now is imperfect, but then I shall know as fully as I am known. For only these three abide, faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor. 13.12-13).   

In Memoriam: Michael A. Hayes

Tributes to Rev Professor Michael A. Hayes, 1957-2017, from friends and colleagues.

Michael Hayes: Priest, scholar, and leader
Among the leaders I have ever served under, Michael Hayes stands tall. Charming, urbane, extremely competent, with admirable academic qualifications to his name, always well informed, and a skilful fundraiser, he made it thoroughly easy to be part of his team. And it was constantly a team gathered for a very good cause.

Long before I finished my thirty-three year stint at the Gregorian University in Rome (1973-2006), Michael had enlisted me to contribute articles to the Pastoral Review. The quality of his editorials, the standard achieved by other contributors, and the valuable service the journal offered to members of the Church and beyond made me ready to play my part. Michael's editorials were thought through biblically and theologically and always significant for those engaged with pastoral ministry in its various fields.

While still at the Roehampton Institute, Michael brought me over from Rome to speak at two excellent conferences. As he always did, Michael set himself to make such conferences convivial gatherings that encouraged important contacts and exchanges. The first produced Images of Christ Ancient and Modern, edited by Michael and two of his colleagues, published by Sheffield Academic Press in 1997, and containing wonderful chapters on Christ in literature and art. The second conference produced Resurrection, edited again by Michael and the same two colleagues, published by Sheffield Academic Press in 1999, and containing once again fascinating chapters in the arts and literature. Both books dealt, of course, with relevant theological and biblical issues. But Michael's concern to communicate successfully the truth of Jesus Christ and the impact of his resurrection was mirrored in the many chapters on Christ in film, music, novels, painting, plays, and poetry.

Thanks to Michael, I received an honorary doctorate from the University of Surrey in 2003. I remain lastingly grateful to Michael for inviting me to become a research professor at St Mary's, Strawberry Hill. For three years (2006-2009) after leaving Rome and before returning to Melbourne, Australia, St Mary's provided me with an office, a salary, very congenial colleagues, and full opportunities to write books and articles. Occasional guest lectures, meetings of a senior seminar, and some examining made for welcome and fruitful breaks from research and writing. As a charming and thoughtful host, Michael presided over those three years at St Mary's.

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The new programme for the formation of presbyters (3)

Ronald D. Witherup PSS

Two previous articles addressed the content and nuances of the revised programme of priestly (presbyteral) formation that was issued on 8 December 2016 under the title, 'The Gift of the Priestly Vocation'1. This article carries the analysis further by exploring some of the vocabulary of this key Roman document. Ronald D. Witherup PSS is superior general of the Society of the Priests of Sulpice.

What's in a word?

The vocabulary of
'The Gift of the Vocation'
At the outset, two underlying assumptions should be acknowledged. The first concerns the nature of this document. It is not merely juridical; rather, it is spiritual, offering a vision for what priesthood can and should be. While it is not a theological document as such, and does not present a total theology of the priesthood, nevertheless it roots priestly formation in a theological perspective.

A second assumption is my belief that words really matter. They communicate messages, sometimes far beyond the intention of their author. This is certainly true of ancient texts, such as the Bible, but also applies to modern texts. For instance, when scholars carefully examine the documents of Vatican Council II, some note that the precise vocabulary used in many of the documents subtly indicates a shift in theological perspective2.

In this article, I propose to analyse aspects of the new Ratio from a similar angle. I believe the subtle employment of certain key words orients the programme of priestly formation in a nuanced way. To that end, I identify seven key words in the document that bear further reflection. Four will be presented here, and the final three in the last article in this series.

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Theological disposition for pastoral ministry

Michael A. Hayes

This address was given to the National Assembly of Deacons and IDC North European Conference on 'The Deacon in the Body of Christ' at St Mary's University College, Twickenham, on 24 June 2011. We publish an edited version of it here.

I would like to add my welcome to you to St Mary's for this National Assembly of Deacons and IDC North European Conference on 'The Deacon in the Body of Christ'.

On 16 April 1979 I was ordained a deacon by the late Archbishop Dermot Ryan of Dublin. While I was clear that my ordination was part of a threefold ministry of deacon, priest, and bishop, it was very much a transitional ministry as part of and a step towards priestly ordination which happened in June 1980. My own diocese of Southwark first ordained permanent deacons in the late 1970s and so when I began my pastoral ministry as a priest I encountered permanent deacons for the first time. I am no expert on the permanent diaconate and I make no pretence at that here either. I have been, however, editor of the Pastoral Review since 2005, and it is for that reason that I am probably here this evening.

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Why we need a culture of encounter

Fleur Dorrell

How a new resource 'Calling People of Goodwill: The Bible and the Common Good' can enable Christians to find meaningful encounters and help create community cohesion. Fleur Dorrell is Scripture Development Co-ordinator at the Bible Society.

We are hungry to belong
Membership preoccupies many churches in our current climate of fake news, social media and deep-rooted insecurities. A vast array of alternative belief systems and lifestyles are on offer at the swipe of a screen or click of a mouse. We are hungry to belong, but to what and to whom have become very complex questions for our times. Yet is it membership that we should be concerned with or a wider understanding of the common good?

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