The Archbishops Letter

Blogged by James Preece on 19th September 2009

Archbishop Vincent Nichols has used his first pastoral letter to Westminster Diocese to encourage Catholics to pray daily. He says that "our relationship with Christ, expressed in prayer, is central to the stability and fruitfulness of our lives" and that "A sound practice of daily prayer is essential for our well-being". This is very good.

Archbishop Nichols goes on to give three examples of people who illustrate this truth. The first is St Thérèse of Lisieux, the second is Cardinal Newman and the third is St John Vianney. Independent Catholic news has the full text of the letter but unfortunately due to an editorial oversight (perhaps they didn't realise the letter continued on the other side of the page) they seem to have ommitted the second half in which Archbishop Nichols suggests three worthy intentions for our prayer...

At the conclusion of this letter, I would like to suggest three worthwile intentions for your prayers.

Firstly, please pray for all the children in our Catholic schools. Many of these have been visited by Connexions, the government agency welcomed in to school by the Catholic Education Service back when I was in charge of it, they will have been given trendy literature with a phone number and instructions to phone that number if they need the sort of confidential advice that you can't ask your parents for. Some of those children will have phoned that trusted number (given them in a Catholic school) and have been told how to attain free contraception. Sadly, it is quite likely that out of the many thousands if Catholic school children in England at least one of them called that number and attained an abortion without parental knowledge. Pray for the parents who sent their child to a Catholic school and ended up with a murdered grandchild. Pray also for all those children who have been subjected to the All That I Am sex education course that I approved when I was Archbishop of Birmingham, complete with it's computer generated gratuitous full frontal nudity.

Secondly, pray for all the Catholic couples who get their marriage preparation through Marriage Care. Mainly because the president of Marriage Care doesn't actually think it matters to children whether their parents are married and I don't think it's worth doing anything about it. Many of the couples who get their marriage preparation through Marriage Care will never hear the Church teaching on contraception and as Humanae Vitae says "a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires". It's not easy living out a vocation to marriage and family life in modern Britain but fortunately we think that home is a holy place absolutely independently of how people live so there's no point doing anything to help anyway.

Thirdly, pray for all those Catholics who out of reverence and devition to the eucharistic sacrifice of the Mass find themselve frustrated and scandalised by the way the ordinary form of the Mass is celebrated in their parish. After a few complaints to their Bishop who will probably do nothing about it (we are busy people), many of these Catholics will find refuge in the extraordinary form of the Mass where the priest usually does things properly. Unfortunately, the sort of Catholic who is willing to drive for hours every week in order to go to Mass is inexorably distancing themself from the Church. Pray for all those Catholics who can't trave; very far and have to endure their local parish no matter how much liturgical abuse goes on. We at the Bishops conference would live to do something to help those Catholics but we would rather have a fancy meal with Tony Blair.

May these coming months bring blessings on our families and parishes. And from those sources of strength and encouragement, may we be renewed in our faith and in our generosity towards all in need.

Archbishop of Westminster