Sunday, 2 October 2011

The Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma at Blackfen, Saturday 1 October 2011 - A short report on a wonderful day!

Fr Tim Finigan discusses Catholics and the new media
The Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma held its first official meeting yesterday, on what turned out to be one of the hottest days of the year! Around 15 Catholic bloggers and users of the new media travelled from all over Britain to meet at Our Lady of the Rosary parish, Blackfen. The day started with High Mass (EF) and included a talk by the well-known priest-blogger (and member of the Guild), Fr Tim Finigan. It also included some socialising and an informal meeting, and ended with a celebration of Solemn Vespers and Benediction.

A Catholic first? Three blogging priests as sacred ministers
Many of the Catholic bloggers who belong to the Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma were present for High Mass, which was celebrated at 10:30am as part of the parish's Saturday devotions. This Mass, though, was rather special not only for the excellent serving provided by the team of servers and the beautiful singing offered by the Schola, but because all three sacred ministers were Catholic priest-bloggers. The celebrant was Fr Tim Finigan (The Hermeneutic of Continuity), whilst Fr Sam Medley SOLT (Medley Minute) acted as Deacon and Fr Simon Henry (Offerimus Tibi Domine) was Sub-deacon.

During the homily, Fr Finigan reflected on the importance of Our Lady within salvation history. He also quoted St Louis de Montfort, who deplored the fact that even Catholics can sometimes seem embarrassed by the Church's devotion to Mary. Over the centuries, as Fr Tim Finigan pointed out, there have been iconoclastic or puritanical movements that seek to downplay or threaten devotion - especially in the form of images - to Our Lady and the Saints. Some have even suggested that certain events following the Second Vatican Council, when many churches were needlessly re-ordered and statues were removed, was a kind of iconoclasm. But it seems, partly thanks to those Catholic bloggers who often post beautiful images of the Blessed Virgin and the Saints on their blogs, that the Church is currently re-embracing Catholic art and culture, as well as her devotions to Our Lady and the Saints.

My Lord and my God!
After Mass, Fr Tim Finigan addressed the assembled bloggers and parishioners in the parish hall. His talk was on "Catholics and the new media", and he spoke with great eloquence on the need for Christians to be present online. In saying this, Fr Finigan was re-echoing the words of Pope Benedict XVI, who has often spoken explicitly - in his messages for World Communications Days, for example - of the need for Catholics, and especially priests, to blog and be active users of the new media. It was sad to note, then, that one priest (a Diocesan Communications Officer, no less) has recently stated in an email to Richard Collins (Linen on the Hedgerow) that "blogging as currently manifested should be made a serious criminal office because of the significantly negative comments that are so often made about people who are trying to do their best are so destructive to the good of society" (emphasis mine).

After reflecting on the fears that many in the Church have regarding blogging and the new media, Fr Finigan concentrated on the good that blogging can achieve; though he also suggested that bloggers do need to examine their consciences from time to time - just as all Christians should. It is sometimes best not to publish some posts, and prayer can often help us discern the blogging choices we make. Having said that, one of the joys of blogging is that other bloggers will usually temper uncharitable or harsh posts or comments, or will seek to offer another opinion or way of approaching a controversial topic. Another benefit that blogging and social media have brought humanity (and the Church) is the fact that ordinary people are now able to hold to account those who are in authority over them. This shifting of power has been an uncomfortable experience for those used to being in control, and has led many authoritarian regimes to try and shut down the blogosphere altogether. In that sense, it could be said (this is my interpretation) that blogging can be a prophetic tool. As Fr Finigan said, it is certain that many of our greatest and most prophetic saints - such as Blessed Titus or St Louis de Montfort - would have been bloggers if they had been alive today.

You have prepared a banquet for me... 
After Fr Tim Finigan's very interesting and enlightening talk, all the Guild members were invited to the parish social club, where we were treated to the most delicious buffet lunch I have ever tasted! Many bloggers got to chat and catch up over a drink and some food - making valuable contacts and sharing some of their blogging stories with one another.

The Guild then met for an informal meeting, which began and ended with prayer, and during which many practical concerns were discussed. Amongst these was the planning of the next meeting and Guild Day, as it was agreed that the need for Catholic bloggers to meet and pray together is a highly important one. It was also agreed that one of the main functions of the Guild is to enable bloggers to offer help to one another. It was also felt that the Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma had achieved some amazing things since its inception (only 5 months ago), and that the present informal structure was working remarkably well - though this might change in the future. A few members suggested that it would be good for one of the group to write an article on Catholic blogging, and other plans for the promotion of the work of Catholics who use the new media were also drawn up. Richard Collins handed out Guild prayer cards, which we used at the end of our meeting. Please contact me ( if you would like one of these cards, which were kindly made by one of Richard's daughters. Proper minutes of yesterday's meeting will be sent to Guild members during the next few days.

The Guild Day ended with members joining parishioners from Blackfen for Solemn Vespers for the Anniversary of the Dedication of the Church and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

Yesterday at Blackfen was a most enjoyable, prayerful, enlightening and wonderful day - and on behalf of the Guild I would like to thank all involved: Fr Tim Finigan and his parishioners, the sacred ministers (Fr Medley and Fr Henry), the MC and servers, the choir and musicians, those who prepared the buffet meal and opened the bar, as well as those who travelled so far to be at the event. Blessed Titus Brandsma will have his work cut out for him to ensure that the next Guild Day and meeting will be as good as this first one!

Here is a list of the Catholic bloggers and users of the new media who were present at yesterday: -

Fr Tim Finigan (The Hermeneutic of Continuity)
Fr Sam Medley SOLT (Medley Minute with Fr Sam)
Fr Simon Henry (Offerimus Tibi Domine)
Fr Michael Clifton (Fr Mildew)
Stuart James (eChurch)
Paul Priest (On the side of the Angels)
Mac McLernon (Mulier Fortis)
"Hilaire Belloc" (The Hilaire Belloc Blog)
Leutgeb (bara brith)
Annie Elizabeth (Defende nos in proelio)
Anthony Radice (A Tiny Son of Mary)
Richard Collins (Linen on the Hedgerow)
Roy Hobson (the commentator "Vesper")
Me (A Reluctant Sinner)

Those Guild members who wanted to be at the event, but couldn't make it were: Laurence England (The Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill); Chris Owens (Benedictus Dominus); James Preece (Catholic and Loving it!); Greg Beaman (A Brief Encounter); Sean Gough (Trust in You); Jane Mossendew (Thoughts from a Catholic Oasis); Stephen Moseling (St Pauls Bookshop Blog); as well as these two anonymous or semi-anonymous blogs: Juventutem London and Catholic with Attitude.

Blessed Titus Brandsma, pray for us

Photos by Mac McLernon (please see her Flickr site)

By Dylan Parry (A Reluctant Sinner)


  1. I too would have liked to have been there.

  2. You would have been most welcome.

    I can add you to the Guild blog authorship, if you like?


  3. @A Reluctant Sinner aka Dear Dylan

    It was good to meet you last Saturday at Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen.

    I forgot to tell you that I had put a lot of work into a comment on your Art Exhibition thread "The Christ Journey: A must see exhibition at Westm...":, only then to see it completely disappear without the appearance of a keyword. I have since received a copy comment on the same thread from Anne that did manage to get past the Google gremlins destroying the commenters interaction with your blog.

    The same thing happened again today when I tried to post on your blog, and I suggest you try the same system as Father Tim which doesn't require a keyword but which still allows moderation.

    This is developing nicely

    Blessed Titus Brandsma, pray for us!


    Roy aka "Vesper"

    ROY HOBSON CInstCES1990, RICS1984, Grad Dipl QS .

  4. I must say, I was absolutely gutted not to have been there-- especially now that I am living in Europe again. Ah well, the family and I will be in England at the end of November for my wife's graduation with her MA in Theology at Maryvale...

    Be assured of my prayers for you all-- and if you make it to Austria, please do get in touch, we'd love to host you here at the ITI!

  5. NB I tried to post the following comment on the A Relectant Sinner blog but once again it failed to reach even the keyword stage :

    @ A Reluctant Sinner

    I believe modern communications really can become miracles in themselves, if they are truly inspired by the Holy Spirit. It amazed me that my old friend Andy Webster, from Addey & Stanhope 'A Deo et Rege' Grammar School in poor Deptford (1967-74), received a text from me at Beijing Airport last Saturday which I had sent thinking he was at home in Dartford. THERE IS NO EAST NOR WEST IN JESUS CHRIST!

    Here's a small FARE anti neo-Nazi miracle of modern communication that I believe the Blessed Titus Brandsma would wholly approve of

    I pray that the core group of The Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma, which came together at Holy Communion, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit at Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen last Saturday will find my input to be an acceptable, non-toxic contribution.

    Our Lady of the Rosary pray for us!



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