Monday, 27 February 2012

Lighting a candle in the darkness...

Last Saturday I attended a Catechetical training day for the Diocese of Northampton ; where we were introduced to a new [Maryvale backed] form of Introductory Catechesis: ANCHOR -  aimed at Catholics returning to the Faith... Anchor was created by Sr Hyacinthe of the Dominican Sisters of St Joseph - and don't let its minimalist simplicity [6 short lessons of ikon discussion, scriptural reflection, doctrinal discussion and prayer] hoodwink you into thinking it is watered down in any most certainly isn't!

I urge everyone to investigate this fascinatingly innovative form of introducing doctrinal basics around the structure of the mass, with prayer central to its structure - and an almost anachronistically wonderful return to fundamental apologetics by staing the simple tenets of the Faith and discussing the 'why and how' around them...

How do most modern catechetical programmes begin? With personal experience and one's own 'life story', with socio-cultural integration into an 'ascending christology' among the people of good 'we are church' etc...all counterprodictive bilge...

Rather they begin with the Fundamental grounds upon which all other Doctrine is built - THE TRINITY! With simple discussion and analysis of the Baptism of Our Lord with corresponding ikon...this is a catechetical aperitif - it is merely a welcoming...but for the first time in decades [and especially for the first time in E & W] there is a beginning...this is a spark...this is is no dumbing down or patronising of the faithful.

Now this is redolent of teaching one would find in the first paragraph in an old Catholic Evidence Guild pamphlet - it's merely a collection of lightning glimpses of orthodoxy - with scrupulous care towards finding that glorious simplicity beyond complexity...but it has that enticing ability to engage with people and call to them to participate...

Sr Hyacinthe - and her fellow WONDERFUL sisters - are truly about the Lord's work in this. Thanks be to God.

With Anchor - and many of the resources which will surely follow - we're on our way back....


Marianne said...

Good to have you back!! So glad you enjoyed your training day- Anchor is a wonderful resource, Sr Hyacinthe main writer in conjunction with the Maryvale Catechetical Team headed by Dr Petroc Willey and Dr Caroline Farey. Hopefully now you have dipped your toes in the Maryvale waters you will be coming back for more!! Watch out for the new resources, based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (as requested by Pope Benedict),being produced for the Year of Faith.

Annie Elizabeth said...

Hooray, you're back and in great form!

I've tagged you on Mac's book meme - see


This comment has been removed by the author.

Hi Paul, great to see you back. It is Mike Carroll here.

I have heard that there are some good things coming out of Maryvale. Apparently, even the deaconate course is getting back to basics and strictly adhering to the Catechism. I took a look at the Anchor course and I have to agree that it looks good and needs to be rolled out.

I know a little bit about the Catholic Evidence Guild. Myles Dempsey was a member back in the 1960’s and gave many talks (including Hyde Park Corner). He is often quoted as saying in his everyday life –

“I am Catholic first, Catholic second, and Catholic Last”.

I think that this gives you an idea of the qualities of the people who were in the Catholic Evidence Guild. From what I understand they were mostly ‘full on’ Catholic Evangelical types who did not take any non-sense.

If you are unaware of Myles he is now is in his 70’s but, still leads the Prince of Peace community in Liverpool where not only do they work in the community, and have daily Mass in their centre, but also he specifically has a mission whereby many UK priests go on retreat and receive spiritual direction. I would probably not be far from the truth if I said he was this countries leading lay spiritual director. Beyond this he went on to set up and run the yearly New Dawn Conference at Walsingham. He was definitely the most prolific of the people who were members of the Catholic Evidence Guild in this country. There are a couple of web addresses below to show you about his work.

In many respects, both the UK Youth 2000 groups and the Celebrate conferences were born out of Myles’ work. I could also say that he has had a more positive impact on Catholicism in this country than the majority of our Bishops. He has certainly helped save a lot of people for God’s kingdom.

In terms of adult Catholic catechesis (like Anchor) David Payne has been running CAFÉ (Catholic Faith Exploration) for many years now and have many great recourses which I can verify do not stray from the truth of the Church.

I don’t know if you know the people who where involved in the original Upper Room group in St. Albans (not Jerusalem), but David was one of them. They have recently just got this up and running again as Upper Room 2. This is a prayer community that does not pull its punches. This is all about hard core intercession and leads on from a time when the Catholic Evidence Guild were prominent and people understood about what it really meant to be Catholic.

Anyway, I hope all is well,

All the best.