Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

How to convert the nation

Last night I went to a talk at the Oxford Oratory given by Fr Jerome Bertram to the members of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, who had been holding a Colloquium at the Oratory and which was open to the public about strategies for the conversion of the country. This is a topic upon which I know Fr Jerome has spoken before, but this was the first opportunity I had had to actually hear him on the subject.

He made the point that converting the nation is not anew thing to do, not so much a Second Spring but a Fifth. Previously there have been the conversion under the Roman Empire, the missions of St Augustine and of the Hiberno-Scottish monks to the Anglo-Saxons, the tenth century re-establishment of the Church after the Danish invasions, and then, after the playing out of the events of the Reformation and Catholic Emancipation, the "Second Spring" as outlined by Newman. Now we need a new process to approach the situation the Church and country face.

For this he thought that much that had been done before was still applicable - though it is no longer a case of converting Anglo-Saxon pagan chieftains - but the tried and tested methods used appropriately still offered much. These included a disciplined clergy, prayerful and exemplary, the beauty of liturgical celebration and churches, the distinct roles of secular and regular clergy and the active proper participation of the laity - the types or organisations which flourished in the earlier twentieth century and which, despite strong Conciliar endorsement, have withered since Vatican II.

There is a report on the colloquium from the Oratory website which can be read at The Confraternity of Catholic Clergy.

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