Sunday 16 September 2012

The third meeting of the Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma -- the association of Catholic bloggers continues to flourish

Members of the Guild st the blognic!
The Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma met yesterday for its third meeting since it was formed in May 2011. (See the previous post on this blog, posted by Supertradmum, for more information.)

Guild members and supporters met at 10.30am in the Brompton Oratory’s Chapel of the Seven Dolours, where an EF Low Mass for the Feast of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady was celebrated for us by Fr Rupert McHardy CongOrat. (How wonderful it was to be at Mass yesterday in which the Stabat Mater sequence was recited before the Gospel!)

A meeting of the Guild was held after Mass, during which Fr McHardy gave a most enlightening talk on historical Catholic apologists and controversialists. These men and women would most probably have been bloggers today. They also often faced the same problems, temptations, and dangers that many modern-day bloggers have to deal with.

Fr McHardy reminded us that there had not been many controversialists (or ‘potential bloggers’) during the few decades leading up to the Second Vatican Council. But there have been periods in the Church’s history, usually coinciding with advances in communication technology and major upheavals in the Church, when Christians seem to have engaged in a type of pre-blog blogging -- apologists, pamphleteers, reformers, prophetic saints, etc.

Beginning with St Jerome, an undoubted controversialist and someone often willing to speak his mind in defence of the truth, Fr McHardy gave examples of men and women through history who would probably have been bloggers were they alive today – three main periods were covered: the early Church, the Reformation era, and the nineteenth century.

Whilst dwelling on the life of St Philip Neri, the Second Apostle of Rome and founder of the Oratorians, Fr McHardy suggested that the great man would probably have been a blogger were he around today. [UPDATE 20/09/12: mea cupla -- I have just been reminded that Fr Rupert McHardy did not in fact suggest that St Philip would have been a blogger, but that he would rather have supported bloggers. Please accept my apologies, Father.] When the then Pope was about to act in what could have been an unjust way, St Philip, together with other Roman priests, complained publicly against the pontiff's actions. As a result, many of the Pope's critics were expelled from Rome – with the exception of Philip Neri!

Referring to the fact that real-time yet distant forms of communication, such as online commenting, can result in the publication of ill-considered or uncharitable words, Fr McHardy mentioned the Victorian postal service – which was far quicker and more reliable than the one we have today! At that time, letters posted from London in the morning would arrive in places like Birmingham by the afternoon, and responses could reach the original sender by evening. Mentioning to two great Oratorian controversialists, Blessed John Henry Newman and Fr Frederick William Faber, Fr McHardy suggested that the fast postal service between London (where Fr Faber was based) and Birmingham (home to Newman) may have contributed the misunderstanding and strained relations known to have existed between these two men. As with today's social media communication, Victorian letters were often posted in haste, with little thought, and sometimes with unintended or negative consequences.

Other saints and churchmen unafraid to defend the truth and be controversial, even to death, such as the twentieth century's St Maximilian Kolbe and Blessed Titus Bransdma, would undoubtedly have been bloggers today said Fr McHardy. He emphasised the need for bloggers to defend the truth and give charitable witness to the faith, especially as standing up for what is right and for the Catholic faith will always involve a certain amount of controversy or risk.

Richard Collins thanks Fr Rupert McHardy
(source: Fr Z)
After the talk all present recited the Guild prayer. Then Richard Collins (Linen on the Hedgerow), on behalf of the Guild, thanked Fr Rupert McHardy for his generosity in celebrating Mass for us and for his excellent and informative talk. The Guild also thanked Fr Julian Large CongOrat (Provost of the London Oratory) and the Fathers of the community for allowing us to meet in and use the facilities of the Oratory. Richard also thanked Fr John Zuhlsdorf (Fr Z's Blog - he has written about the day here), who had travelled from the US to be present with us – Fr Z replied by speaking very warmly about the Guild and its mission.

A meeting of the Guild was then held, during which many topics were discussed by those present, including: the need for us to elect officers sometime in the future, the possibility of producing Guild-related literature, general blogging matters, and the continued success and growth of the Guild. A copy of the minutes should be sent to Guild members sometime in the near future. The meeting ended with the recitation of Lord's Prayer for the Holy Father's intentions during his current visit to the Lebanon. 

More scenes from the pub!
Following the meeting, all present retired to a local pub, called The Hour Glass, for lunch and an afternoon of socialising – otherwise known as a ‘blognic’! During the afternoon, we were joined by a few bloggers and users of the new media who had not been able to get to the first part of the day, amongst them were Fr Tim Finigan (Hermeneutic of Continuity) and ‘Sir Dan of the Blogosphere’.

About 15 people were present at Mass, whilst 12 members and supporters came to the Guild talk and meeting, with at least 16 then making it to the pub over the course of the afternoon (though I had to leave early, so there may have been more). Needless to say, some of those present would rather remain totally anonymous, but amongst those at the Guild meeting itself were: -

Malvenu (Quam Augusta Porta); Supertradmum (Etheldreda’sPlace); Richard (Linen on the Hedgerow) and his wife, Sally (one of their daughters, Catherine, also came to the pub); Paul (Twitter user and OTSOTA);  Mary (The Path Less Taken); Simon (The Red Rose Society); the commentator and Twitter user Londiniensis; Dylan (A Reluctant Sinner); and Fr Z. A young seminarian user of the new media was also present at the Mass and meeting, as were a few other bloggers and online commentators who came along to the ‘blognic’. Apologies were received from six UK-based members of the Guild including: The Bones, leutgeb, A Tiny Son of Mary and Mulier Fortis.

The Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma's third meeting was a most enjoyable day of prayer, reflection, discussion and socialising!

Blessed Titus Brandsma, pray for us


  1. Glad you all had a good day. Sory not to have been there.

  2. Yes, like leutgeb, I am sorry not to have been there. I rarely leave my Northern fastness... Lancaster next time?


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