Sunday, 5 August 2012

Are you a Catholic who uses social networking sites or blogs? Then this is for you…

Find it, underneath the text.  It’s your invitation to the Guild Meeting.

Every Catholic who blogs and/or uses the new media is very welcome to come along. One of my happiest memories, so far, of 2012, was the 18th of February, the date of our last Guild meeting, held in Blackfen.

This time round, we will be meeting mid September, will assist at a low-Mass in the side chapel of the sumptuous London Oratory and the softly-spoken Fr Rupert McHardy, (a native of Clapham and past-pupil of Ampleforth College) will give a talk. Fr Rupert is a calm, kind-hearted Oratorian, but he does not mince his words, and often makes concise, astute points that can both astonish and enlighten. I attended a talk he gave in Bavaria, during a retreat for pilgrims going to World Youth Day 2005. It was an outdoor talk, during an August afternoon, and we were bathed in golden sunshine, when Fr Rupert spoke about the beauty of ‘the Old Rite Mass’ (as it was called before the 7/7/2007 Motu Proprio), and several of the youngsters who were listening to Fr Rupert were moved to tears.

In many way, it’s incredibly fitting that on September 15th 2012, we will be meeting in the Oratory, where in anticipation of the Papal Visit 2010, there was an altar erected in honour of Blessed John Henry Newman. Throughout 2009 and 2010, the British Catholic blogosphere was collectively like a cheering chorus of supporters who championed the beatification of John Henry Newman, in the run-up to and during his beatification, performed personally by our Pope when he came to England. In many ways, the British Catholic blogosphere came into its own, when preparing for the Papal Visit 2010. Colourful, vibrant blog posts made the cynicism of the secular press look drab. But in addition to doing internet reportage of the Papal Visit, Catholics were also able to meet, in the flesh, when the Pope came to Hyde Park. Catholics connected online, and then met in person: a great sequence. A bit like the old-fashioned way when pen-pals would first write to each other, and then visit each other’s homes.

In the absence of momentous occasions, such as the Papal Visit where Catholics can meet en mass, a context is needed for Catholics who write about the Church online, to meet, swap ideas and to enjoy the warmth of each other’s company. Such a context is the Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma. Indeed, the Guild meetings are documented very well by members who put photos on their blogs, so that members who cannot attend, are able to take part from afar.

The beauty of the Guild is that it puts together the best of both worlds; the internet world where so many of us are active players in Catholic evangelism, in conjunction with meeting up in a friendly, relaxed setting. The biggest pitfall of the internet, I think, is that people can lose sight of the humanity of other people. Twitter trench warfare, and comment box tirades, can often be conducted, rather cruelly and heartlessly, because those fighting cannot see each other in the flesh and cannot see the wounds they inflict. It is almost as if, people start to think of themselves as opponents in a made-of-pixels video game, where victory is destruction of the other. To remedy this, there is a greater need for internet communication to be followed by real-life, one-to-one socialisation. With this in mind, The Guild of Titus Brandsma is leading the way for Catholics who use the internet.

The Guild was masterminded by Dylan Parry. And in times to come, the Guild will be recorded in history as a ground-breaking step forward in the life of the Church, and an example for non-Catholic groups to follow. We’re not confined to the internet; rather the internet is our starting-point. In less than six weeks we look forward to animated, but respectful discussions, while enjoying a Guinness or a hot cup of tea, and sitting around the fire in The Hour Glass pub.



PS – This time I might forsake Guinness in view of having a gin and tonic. I’ll ask The Hour Glass to get in Cork Dry Gin…

3 comments:

  1. A very moving account Mary, especially regarding Fr Rupert's gift of oratory.
    And you are right to give credit to Dylan Parry who has put concept into action.

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    1. And Richard, a debt of gratitude is owed to you for being a chief organiser of the Guild. Many thanks for putting your great ideas into action for the coming meeting.

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  2. We need something like this in the United States.

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