“Omnium hominum”: a pastoral epistle on chastity and sexuality


The innate dignity of all people has long been recognised by the Catholic Church, regardless of their sexual orientation. While the Church has traditionally held that sexual relationships should be limited to those between a man and a woman within marriage, this does not discount the fundamental worth of LGBT persons. Every person deserves to be treated with respect, compassion, and love.

The Council of Trent instructed the clergy that “they especially instruct the faithful diligently concerning the obligation of chastity, and exhort them to observe it”. The Church also recognizes the need to support and accompany those who experience same-sex attraction. The contemporary Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” (2358). The Church encourages all people to live lives of chastity, as this is seen as a way to develop one’s relationship with God.

The admonition to live chastely applies to all Catholics, regardless of sexual orientation. The Church encourages people to seek out the support and guidance of their local parish and its fellowship to live out the Church’s teachings in a healthy, meaningful way. Chastity should be taught and understood as a vocation common to all Christians not just for those with vocations to religious life i.e., monks and nuns or sacred ministers.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

1 John 2:15-17

It is a great shame that so many Catholics have embraced worldly and secular values such that chastity is seen as an affront to human dignity or even a form of bigotry. Instead, we should strive to understand and promote chastity as a way of life that brings us closer to God and our true selves. Practised with abstinence and self-control, chastity can lead to greater spiritual and emotional maturity and a deeper appreciation of the gift of sexuality.

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.

1 Peter 1:13-15

Of course, the world appreciates these things differently. For many in contemporary society sexuality is seen as an integral part of one’s self-identity as opposed to just an attribute or aspect of one’s makeup. All people are born with conditions, dispositions or are affected developmentally through their childhood or adolescence with attributes that may appear as impediments to their development or growth in holiness as a child of God. No-one – despite the emotional reaction of a new parent to their first-born child – no-one is born “perfect”.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

1 John 1:8

Yet the Christian life is about the surrendering of oneself voluntarily to God’s Will, His intentions for our lives and His way of being. This is what the pursuit of holiness is all about, and chastity is an important and integral part of this pursuit. This is not to say that should one ever express their sexuality or engage in sexual activity God hates or rejects them! Rather, that it should be done in a way that honours God and respects the dignity of others and if it is not, mercy and forgiveness are readily available.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9


Holy matrimony is the proper place for sexual expression and the pursuit of holiness should lead one to recognize that chastity is an important part of God’s Will for His children. Chastity is a gift from God and it is an expression of our love and devotion to Him. It is a reminder that we are created in His image, and He has given us a unique way to express our love for Him and each other.

When we choose to live a life of chastity, we are living out our commitment to honour God’s Will for us. We are also demonstrating our respect for ourselves, others, and the sanctity of marriage. By embracing the gift of chastity, we can experience greater spiritual maturity and growth in holiness as children of God. Chastity enables us to live out God’s law of charity; love of Him and love of neighbour.

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 6:18-20

Chastity can also be seen as a form of self-discipline, teaching us to control our desires and impulses. It is a way of living with integrity, limiting our actions to what is right and good, rather than indulging in whatever might bring us pleasure or satisfaction in the moment. It encourages us to take responsibility for our choices and behaviour, being mindful of how it affects ourselves and others.

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.

Romans 15:1-2

Ultimately, chastity comes down to respecting ourselves and others enough not to engage in activities that do not honour God or do not bring real and meaningful joy into our lives. It is about learning how to be content with who we are and developing healthy habits that will lead us closer to God’s love and grace. The proper understanding and right use of sexuality is the sacrifice of it to realise that love which is God’s charity; love of His Will and pure love for His children.


The misuse of human sexuality gives into lust, selfishness, wantonness, and abandonment to sin and ultimately evil; a complete rejection of God and His Will and the love of self rather than of others. It objectifies one’s appreciation of others, not recognising and seeing them first as children of God but reducing them to and regarding them only for the satisfaction of our base desires and selfishness. It leads to the abuse of ourselves and of others and is a complete rejection of true love and the joys that come from it.

For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.

1 Thessalonians 4:7

So often the romantic notion of love and relationships is sensationalised, sensualised, corrupting the true nature and purpose of intimacy. All our contemporary media, theatre and entertainment portrays and suggests that sexual attraction i.e. lust, is the motivation or instigator of intimate relationships. This encourages the objectification of the other, encourages us to look and regard others through base instincts, having a superficial regard and appreciation, looking past the person to our own desire to possess them for our own satisfaction, regarding them as an asset to possess or use.

This approach and regard of others corrupts our appreciation such that people contemplating relationships focus on what they receive more than what they can gift the other; my emotional demands, my material concerns, my ambitions, my dreams, my desires… few find genuine and long-lasting happiness this way! Why? Because self-interest doesn’t beget charity, i.e. that true and perfect love that feeds the soul, the heart and the whole being. If lust is the first motivation, and self-interest the second, is it any wonder marriages fail, families break up, children are disenfranchised and society falls apart! Two narcissists does not a true love match make!

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Colossians 3:5

The true nature of humanity is society, we are social beings. Marriage, family, society are the foundations of human flourishing, and irrespective of our sexual orientation, everyone needs somebody to be human with. When we focus on ourselves and our own wants and needs, prioritising them over consideration of others, we hurt ourselves, we deny our true nature as human beings and we hurt others.

By contrast, the right use of sexuality through chastity brings about the true love of neighbour. Chastity within marriage allows couples to cooperate with God in the creation of new life. It also helps to cultivate a deep and meaningful relationship between husband and wife that is mutually supportive. Chastity outside and within marriage is the practice of abstaining from sexual activity, respecting the dignity of one another and focusing on developing friendship and intimacy through other means.

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

Hebrews 13:4

The primary purpose of sexual intimacy is not intended by God to be for our own or mutual pleasure; its primary intended purpose is for the procreation of children. Even though our bodies may appear suited to intimate pleasure for its own ends, as human beings we have the ability to rise above the chaos of base instincts, carnal lusts and obsessions to self-control – the final fruit of the Spirit in St Paul’s list written to the Galatians (Gal 5:23).

As believers, we understand that self-control is a result of the Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification. The apostle Paul writing about the Christian life would include lists of negative behaviors exhibited by non-believers. In Galatians 5:22-23, self-control is listed as a virtue in contrast to the negative behaviors listed in Galatians 5:19-21. Paul also wrote to Timothy about the sinful practices of those who are not saved, and in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, the phrase “without self-control” is used to describe these behaviors.


Living a chaste life requires self-discipline and humility; the ability to recognize our weaknesses and faults, as well as those of others. It is about finding contentment in who we are as individuals, without relying on physical gratification for fulfilment. It is about respecting our bodies and those of others, by refraining from using them for sinful purposes. The ultimate goal is to bring us closer to God’s love and grace by cultivating healthy habits that will help us live a life filled with joy, peace, love, hope, and true happiness.

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

2 Corinthians 7:1

It is essential to remember that the Church’s teaching on marriage and sexuality is rooted in a desire to protect the good of the whole family and to promote responsible behaviour between people. This does not mean, however, that LGBT people should be excluded or treated any differently than heterosexuals. All people should be able to express their true selves and live with dignity, no matter their sexual orientation.

The Church also teaches that all people are created in the image and likeness of God and that desires and attractions should never be judged harshly. LGBT people should be welcomed with respect and understanding into the Catholic community, and those who are struggling with their sexual orientation should receive compassion and guidance from members of the Church. LGBT people should not be characterized as being any more inclined toward sin than others simply because of their sexual orientation. We all have the same propensity to sin!

Everyone has or will think, do or say something they regret whether unintentionally, deliberately or by accident. No one is without sin nor the propensity to sin and all of us seek the mercy and understanding of others when we fail. Sexuality, whether on a “spectrum” or not, whether innate or nurtured, is no different from any other propensity anyone may have to sin. Mercy and compassion however are the only and appropriate response from those who would be ambassadors of Christ.

For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

St James 2:13

Holiness is to become like unto godliness, i.e. to reflect more perfectly the image of Him Who made us. It means more than just personal purity and moral perfection, but to desire it and encourage it in others. Irrespective of our sexuality, every Christian should seek the ultimate good of the other, and there is no higher good than for the other to be found and recognised as a child of God. This is the perspective we should have of others at all times, this is the only perfect and true desire and appreciation we should have of the other i.e. their potential to become a child of God and our duty and joy to enable them to become so.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.

Ephesians 5:1

Celibacy or Chastity

Celibacy and chastity both refer to abstaining from sexual activity, but they have different connotations. Celibacy typically refers to a state of being unmarried or abstaining from marriage, often for religious reasons. Chastity, on the other hand, refers to a moral or ethical commitment to abstain from sexual activity outside of marriage. While celibacy implies a lack of sexual activity, chastity implies a deliberate choice to refrain from sexual activity for moral or ethical reasons.

For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.

St Matthew 19:12

In the Catholic tradition, celibacy is a matter of discipline, a matter of choice and often a vocation. The Catholic Church required celibacy for priests after the Council of Elvira in 303, and by the mid-fourth century, marriage after ordination began to be prohibited. However, the universal requirement for celibacy was imposed upon the clergy with force in 1123 and again in 1139 at the Second Lateran Council. So, Catholic priests have been required to be celibate for almost a millennium.

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

Genesis 2:18

In offering themselves to a celibate lifestyle, within the vision of the Church we find in the second chapter of Acts of the Apostles, no-one is being called to live a lonely life. Rather, free from the obligations inherent in marriage, the priest can unreservedly spend his time and energy teaching and pastoring the flock entrusted to his care, supported by their fellowship and kinship in Christ. Likewise, everyone who gives themselves to God’s Will should be supported and enabled by the fellowship of the church. It is a shame that for too long our experience of “church” has become so far removed from that of the early Church.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Acts 2:42-47

Likewise, in the religious life, monks and nuns take vows of chastity which contextually require them to live a celibate lifestyle i.e. they abstain from marriage in preference for communal fellowship with their brothers and sisters in religion. Men and women discerning religious life don’t just consider chastity but also community, and likewise religious orders in discernment with postulants discern the prospect of fellowship with candidates.

The important point to note here is that chastity is not the same as celibacy, though the two are often conflated in people’s appreciation, and neither are purposed for loneliness. Chastity refers to the moral or ethical commitment to abstain from sexual activity outside of marriage, but it does not necessarily mean that individuals cannot have close or even intimate relationships with one another.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

2 Timothy 1:7

A chaste relationship may involve two individuals who are committed to one another emotionally and spiritually, but who have chosen to abstain from sexual activity for personal, moral, or religious reasons. This type of relationship may involve expressing love and affection through other means, such as emotional support, shared interests, or communication.

Chaste relationships can take many forms, such as between friends, family members, religious life or romantic partners. These relationships can be fulfilling and meaningful without involving sexual activity, and can be a way for individuals to express their shared commitment to personal values and beliefs. This can be especially true for Christians who find joy in their love for God together, united to His Will and desiring to honour Him with their lives.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

1 John 2:15-17

Despite common misconceptions, identifying as both LGBT and Christian does not entail choosing a celibate way of life. While every Christian should strive for chastity, this does not equate to a solitary existence. Instead, it should involve finding genuine Christian fellowship within one’s local church community, or even pursuing a religious or consecrated life. Additionally, embracing chastity may also involve being open to a non-sexual but close, intimate, and fulfilling relationship approached with sincere prudence and charity.

Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love

Ephesians 1:4


It is sadly all too true that a contemporary perception of orthodox Christianity is one of judgmentalism. It is also sadly true that many people possess a prurient, even puerile interest in the private lives of others. There is no place for such attitudes within a truly Christian community among sincere practitioners of charity:

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Traditional Catholics who would seek to manifest Christianity for the sake of the salvation of souls and particularly of those souls who are LGBT, would do well to remember and adopt the attitude of charity the apostle Paul elucidates in his epistle to the Corinthians. Chastity and charity are synonymous with each other, you can’t practise one without the other and for Catholics this may mean overcoming entrenched prejudice and suspicion in order to facilitate the reception and encouragement of LGBT persons.

Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Romans 14:10-12

Individuals who identify as LGBT and are searching for spirituality within our communities cannot be held accountable for the actions and intentions of political or ideological movements that have presumed to speak on their behalf. Despite political arguments, those who purport to represent the “LGBT community” are typically activists who have assumed a representative role themselves but don’t actually have a direct mandate from the individuals they claim to speak for. With the exception of a few membership organizations, most of these groups are merely self-serving organizations that receive support from individuals when it benefits them.

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:31-32

Every individual should be treated as the unique person God created them to be and their prior lived experience regarded respectfully as the means by which their journey brought them to our doors; “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…” Isaiah 55:8. The history of the Church is littered with the conversions of notable canonised saints who led previous lives often antithetical to the Gospel, but whom God brought to salvation through Christ’s compassionate redemption manifested by His servants.

Consider St Augustine of Hippo who’s wayward life of licentiousness caused his mother, St Monica to pray earnestly for his conversion for years. Or St Benedict of Nursia who to overcome his lusts ran through briars to cool his ardour. Or St Francis of Assisi whose privileged youth was less than virtuous but who gave up everything to serve Christ in poverty. Remember St Paul, an apostle who when a zealous pharisee oversaw the stoning of St Stephen the Church’s’ first martyr. Despite their past lives, despite their predilections, despite themselves… through experiencing the love of God from others, they converted their hearts and minds to God’s Will.

No one has ever been truly converted by judgemental attitudes nor coercion. It is never acceptable for us to prevent nor end the possibility of another’s salvation i.e. their coming to the knowledge of God’s love for them. For such will Our Lord charge anyone harshly for at their judgement;

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.

St Matthew 7:1,2


The Church’s only stance in light of the Gospel toward LGBT people can only be one of acceptance, understanding, and, ultimately, love. All people are unique and have immense value, regardless of their sexual orientation and everyone of them exists because of God’s Will. The Church must seek to meet LGBT people with the care and compassion they need and to treat each person with genuine respect. This is why those condemnable practices regarded as “conversion therapy” should rightly be avoided, as they can be damaging to an individual’s well-being. Counsel toward chastity and a chaste lifestyle should never be coercive or controlling.

Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, …

Philippians 2:2-8

The embrace of chastity must be voluntary and motivated by a genuine desire from the individual to live and love as God desires. Prayers for acceptance of one’s condition and deliverance from evil and temptation should never focus on deliverance from the condition itself – we are none of us made perfect and coping with our imperfections, weaknesses and moral failings is the route to self-control and freedom from enslavement to our desires.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2

The aspiration toward chastity is not easy for anyone, irrespective of their inclination. Overcoming oneself, one’s nature, one’s nurture, one’s behaviours and attitudes is the only way to real and lasting fulfilment, to realise the healing and wholeness that God desires each one of us to live in His Love. This should not be made harder by ourselves nor by us for others.

So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.

Romans 14:12-13

The Church encourages LGBT people to embrace their true selves and live with dignity, understanding, and respect. LGBT people should be welcomed into the Church and its activities without fear of judgement or discrimination. The Church seeks to provide them with the spiritual guidance and support they need to live a life of holiness and happiness.

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

Romans 2:1-4

Heeding the admonishment of the apostle then, let us within our communities strive to create such fellowship among us that no-one should feel judged before they have interacted with us. Let us behave in such a way that only love and not condemnation is expected from us. When we meet people whose lives may appear at odds with God’s Will, let us not presume to judge them but love them into a wholesome, healing relationship with God among us.

Yes, as citizens in our own right, we should actively seek to engage in public conversations about the issues and behaviours affecting our society, we should not fear to speak the truth as to the causes of hurt, anguish and brokenness that pervade our communities. Yes, we should seek to protect the young and the vulnerable, sometimes by engaging in difficult conversations about lifestyles and behaviours antithetical to the Gospel. But let us do so striving to present the “Good News” of Jesus Christ and the potential for righteousness and wholeness God purposed everyone for, for the benefit of all.


Die IV infra octavam Paschæ MMXXIII A.D.

“Cum resurrectionis”: a pastoral epistle for Easter 2023


As we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, let us reflect on the profound meaning of this event. The resurrection of Christ is not only a historical fact but also a promise of our own resurrection.

As Catholics, we believe in the resurrection of the body. This means that at the end of time, our bodies will be reunited with our souls, and we will experience eternal life in both body and soul. This is a fundamental part of our faith, we confess it in the Creed and is a source of great hope and joy.

The resurrection of Christ is the first and greatest example of this truth. When Jesus rose from the dead, He did so in a glorified body. His body was transformed and perfected, no longer subject to the limitations of time, space, or decay. This is the same kind of body that we will have in the resurrection.

The resurrection of Christ is not just an example for us to follow; it is also the source of our own resurrection. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus overcame sin and death and opened the way for us to share in His victory.

As St. Paul writes, “For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with His in a resurrection like His” (Romans 6:5).

St. Thomas Aquinas, in his Summa Theologica, explains that the resurrection of the body is necessary for the fullness of human happiness. He writes, “For since the soul is a part of human nature, man cannot be completely happy unless he is restored in both soul and body” (ST III, Q54, A1).

St. Augustine also wrote about the resurrection of the body, “For just as Christ died and rose again in the body, so also will those who are in Christ rise again in the body” (Enchiridion, ch. 84).

In a time when some are doubting the relevance of the physical body to their sense of self, let us remember that our faith is incarnational. Christ reconciles spirit (God) and flesh (Creation) in His incarnation and through the Cross offered the totality of Himself to God for our redemption.

Through Christ’s resurrection, He enables us to experience something of that reconciliation in this life, having won for us God’s grace. We have the assurance that in Christ, we will experience a fullness of joy and peace that only comes from being united with Him in body and soul.

As we celebrate Easter, let us renew our faith in the resurrection of the body. Let us rejoice in the victory of Christ over sin and death, and let us strive to live our lives in a way that reflects this victory.

May God bless you all, and may the joy of the resurrection fill your hearts and homes this Easter season.

With my prayers for you all this feast day,


In Dominica Resurrectionis MMXXIII A.D.


Deus, qui hodiérna die per Unigénitum tuum æternitátis nobis áditum, devícta morte, reserásti: vota nostra, quæ præveniéndo aspíras, étiam adjuvándo proséquere. Per eúndem Dóminum nostrum Jesum Christum Fílium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitáte Spíritus Sancti, Deus, per ómnia sǽcula sæculórum. Amen

O God, who, on this day, through Thine only-begotten Son, hast conquered death, and thrown open to us the gate of everlasting life, give effect by thine aid to our desires, which Thou dost anticipate and inspire. Through the same Jesus Christ, thy Son, Our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen

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“Dum intramus”: a pastoral epistle for Lent 2023


As we enter the liturgical season of Lent, we are reminded of our need to prepare for the coming of Easter and the remembrance of Jesus’s death and resurrection. This is a time of reflection, repentance, and renewal.

During this season, I invite you to join me in spending time in prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Prayer helps us to draw closer to God and ask for his guidance. Fasting encourages us to purify our hearts and minds of selfishness and greed. Almsgiving helps us to put our faith into action by showing love and compassion towards those who are in need.

We are called to take this season of self-reflection and prayer as an opportunity to deepen our relationship with God. During this time, we can find solace in prayer and fasting, as well as in acts of charity and kindness. I pray that this Lenten season brings you closer to God and that you experience his peace, love, and joy during this special time.

Let us use this season to turn away from our distractions and focus on the things that matter most: our relationship with God. Let us seek out moments of peace and stillness, and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us on our Lenten journey. Recalling the parable of the sower and the seed, may we sow the seeds of faith, hope, and love in our hearts this season.

Let us also remember that we are not alone on this journey, but part of a larger community of believers. Let us take comfort in the support and encouragement of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us come together often for Mass, in prayer, to pray the rosary, in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, praying the Stations of the Cross in love and support as we strive to grow closer to God, and may we all find new strength for the journey ahead.

Lent is a time of repentance, a time to turn away from the things which lead us away from God and towards a right relationship with Him. Use the sacrament of penance as often as you need to, to find healing and restoration to grace. Lent is a time to seek reconciliation with God, and with one another. Let us practice mercy and forgiveness toward others as much as we seek it for ourselves. May we all find in this season of Lent a time of spiritual renewal and transformation.

We are called to prayer and fasting, to give up things which we find difficult and to take on the challenge of living a life of holiness. We are reminded of Jesus’ example of obedience and service. Let us follow in His footsteps and make this season a time of spiritual growth and renewal. Let us spend this season of Lent reflecting on our own lives and discerning what we are called to do in order to draw closer to God.

As we take on the disciplines of Lent, may we also take on the spirit of Jesus, of humility, of repentance, of love and of service. May these practices lead us to a deeper relationship with God and a greater understanding of His love. Remembering His mercy and compassion let us open our hearts to Him and allow Him to be fully a part of our lives.

May we also make time to be with those around us, to love and support one another during this season. Encouraging one another to true devotion and Christian living. Let us enable conversion around us of both hearts and minds by our example. Let us use this Lenten season as an opportunity to grow in our faith so that we can fully embrace the joy of Easter when it arrives!

May we all be renewed and strengthened by God’s grace as we journey through Lent to discern and carry out His will. May our Lenten journey bring us closer to the resurrection joy of Easter morning.

With my prayers for you all for a holy and restoring Lent,


Feria IV Cinerum MMXXIII A.D.


Deus, qui Ecclésiam tuam ánnua quadragesimáli observatióne puríficas: præsta famíliæ tuæ; ut, quod a te obtinére abstinéndo nítitur, hoc bonis opéribus exsequátur. Per eúndem Dóminum nostrum Jesum Christum Fílium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitáte Spíritus Sancti, Deus, per ómnia sǽcula sæculórum. Amen

O God, You Who purify Your Church by the yearly Lenten observance, grant to Your household that what they strive to obtain from You by abstinence, they may achieve by good works. Through the same Jesus Christ, thy Son, Our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

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(©)The Titular Archbishop of Selsey 2012-2023. All Rights Reserved.

“Hodie celebramus”: a pastoral epistle for Epiphany 2023


Today we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a day of great solemnity in the Church that marks the climax of the Christmas season and commemorates the theophany or revelation of Jesus as the Messiah, His Incarnation and His Divinity.

In the traditional Roman Rite we commemorate three “epiphany” i.e. revelatory events over eight days of solemn liturgical observance. Having already commemorated the Nativity of Our Lord, itself revealing the Incarnation, we extend the celebration to the remembrance of three further events that likewise reveal the true nature of Our Lord and His purpose to the world.

In the first instance, we remember the Magi, wise men who followed a star to Bethlehem and worshipped the Infant Jesus, presenting Him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh (St Matthew 2:1-16). They recognized Him as the King of Kings and bowed down in worship before Him. Let us follow their example by seeking out Our Lord Jesus in our daily lives and committing to living a life devoted to Him.

Epiphany also commemorates the “Great Theophany” or revelation of the Most Blessed Trinity at the Baptism of Our Lord by St John the Baptist in the river Jordan (St Matthew 3:13-17). We are reminded of the tremendous mystery of the Holy Trinity and God’s infinite love and mercy for us and our baptism. Let us strive to live lives that reflect God’s love, mercy, and grace.

Finally, Epiphany commemorates the first miracle wrought by Our Lord Jesus at Cana in Galilee, when He changed water into wine, a prefigurement of the Eucharist (St John 2:1-11). This miracle is a reminder of Our Lord’s power to transform our lives and the world around us. Let us turn to Him in faith and pray for His grace and power to work in our lives.

Let us give thanks today for the revelation of Our Lord Jesus as our King and Saviour. May we be inspired by the example of the Magi to seek Him out daily in our lives and the commemoration of His baptism remind us of our own baptism, and recommit ourselves wholly to Him. May the remembrance of His transforming miracle at Cana, transform us into His true ambassadors of reconciliation and peace.

In these times of disquiet and global uncertainty politically, financially and socially; let us recall the Incarnational miracle of Bethlehem and the transformative miracle of Cana, as we turn to and realise the fulfilment of Our Lord’s promise to be “God with us” (St Matthew 1:23) “until the end of the world” (St Matthew 28:20) and worship His continuing revelation to us in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

With my prayers for you all this feast day,


In Epiphania Domini MMXXIII A.D.


Deus, qui hodiérna die Unigénitum tuum géntibus stella duce revelásti: concéde propítius; ut, qui jam te ex fide cognóvimus, usque ad contemplándam spéciem tuæ celsitúdinis perducámur. Per eúndem Dóminum nostrum Jesum Christum Fílium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitáte Spíritus Sancti, Deus, per ómnia sǽcula sæculórum. Amen

O God, You Who by the guidance of a star this day revealed Your only-begotten Son to the Gentiles; mercifully grant that we who know You now by faith, may come to behold You in glory. Through the same Jesus Christ, thy Son, Our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

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Pope Benedict XVI reposes: a reflection on his life and legacy


Gaudete in Domino semper: Rejoice in the Lord always (cf Philippians 4:4). These words we heard only recently in Advent and though they may at first appear strange in connection with the passing of an individual, they express our Christian Hope and our faith regarding the ultimate destination for those who are baptised in Christ. They express the joy with which we should all hope to approach our dying and the prayer that Jesus will come to take us home Dominus prope est: the Lord is nigh (cf Philippians 4:5).

As a Christian, Pope Benedict held to the belief that those who are baptized into Christ are destined for eternal life in Heaven. This hope is based on Jesus’ promise that He has gone to prepare a place for us (John 14:2). As Pope Benedict stated in his first encyclical Deus Caritas Est, and which I too quoted only yesterday in my epistle for the New Year, “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). Therefore, we have hope and assurance that those who have been baptized into Christ will one day be with Him in Heaven for eternity.

Pope Benedict XVI was the 265th Pope of the Catholic Church, and his life was a testament to his faith in Jesus Christ and service to His Church. Born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger on April 16, 1927 in Bavaria, Germany, he was ordained a priest in 1951 and consecrated as Bishop of Munich-Freising in 1977. In the consistory of 27 June 1977, he was named Cardinal Priest of Santa Maria Consolatrice al Tiburtino by Pope Paul VI. He served as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 1981 until his election as Pope on April 19th, 2005.

Pope Benedict XVI was known for his intelligence, humility, and commitment to justice and peace. He sought to bring unity within the Church by emphasizing its core teachings and through his novel “hermeneutic of continuity” approach tried to reconcile the divergent doctrinal and liturgical trends following Vatican Council II. Particularly notable was his attempt at restoring to the wider Church the Traditional Latin Mass through his apostolic letter “Summorum Pontificum” (2007) and his attempt to reconcile Anglicans with the Church through the apostolic constitution “Anglicanorum coetibus” (2009). He also lifted the excommunications of the Society of St Pius X bishops in 2009 bringing then fresh hope for restoration to the Church of the perennial Faith.

Pope Benedict wrote three encyclicals: Deus Caritas Est (2005), Spe Salvi (2007), and Caritas in Veritate (2009). He also convened two Synods of Bishops, held four consistories to create new cardinals, and visited various countries such as the United Kingdom, Brazil, the United States, Cameroon, Angola and Australia. Of particular note were his catechetical Wednesday Audiences on various themes but particularly on the teachings of St Augustine of Hippo, of whom he was a noted scholar. Pope Benedict wrote extensively on topics such as faith, the Church, and the modern world and he was a strong advocate for the sanctity of life and consistently defended traditional Christian moral teaching.

Sadly his pontificate was also marred by scandals, the revelatory extent of clerical sexual abuse in America that broke under Pope John Paul II continued to expose major flaws in Vatican policy and the handling of abuse cases by the Church worldwide. The “Vatileaks Scandal” in which leaked documents showed infighting among Benedict’s aides and general dysfunction in the Curia; financial corruption and allegations about the existence of a so-called “gay lobby” that used blackmail to protect its members. He was never favoured by the MSM who constantly misportrayed or deliberately misconstrued his meaning when reporting his speeches and negativized his socially conservative views.

The legacy of Pope Benedict XVI will no doubt be analysed and proposed by others far more insightful and informed than I over the days, months and years to come. History will be written and re-written as new sources and testimonies come to light. From a deeply personal perspective, I will mourn the loss of one who, of all contemporary Popes, did the most to – and might have succeeded in – restoring orthodoxy to the Catholic Church; how his pontificate was ultimately impeded, I am sure will one day be revealed, “For there is not any thing secret that shall not be made manifest, nor hidden, that shall not be known and come abroad.” (Luke 8:17)

I am consoled by and offer to you these words of the apostle, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18) That Pope Benedict suffered is obvious and in his retirement in the Mater Ecclesiae monastery within the Vatican precincts, he spent days in recollection and prayer; repentance and reparation. It is my prayer for Benedict XVI and for yourselves who strive to hold fast to Christ, trusting in His promises, that we will realise our Christian Hope and Rejoice in the Lord always (cf Philippians 4:4)!

With my prayers for you all in consolation


S. Silvestri Papæ et Conf. MMXXII A.D.



Deus, qui inter summos sacerdótes fámulum tuum Benedictum ineffábili tua dispositióne connumerári voluisti: praesta, quáesumus; ut, qui Unigéniti Filii tui vices in terris gerébat, sanctórum tuórum Pontíficum consortio perpétuo aggregétur. Per eundem Christum, Dóminum nostrum. Amen.

God, Who in Thy ineffable providence, did will that Thy servant Benedict should be numbered among the high priests, grant, we beseech Thee, that he, who on earth held the place of Thine Only-begotten Son, may be joined forevermore to the fellowship of Thy holy pontiffs. Through the same Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

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“Dum spiro spero”: a pastoral epistle for New Year 2023


“Dum spiro spero” (While I breathe, I hope) was the personal motto inscribed by King Charles I of England in a folio of Shakespeare’s works discovered as one of the last books he read before his execution in 1649. Here in the UK following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, we enter 2023 and another Carolingian reign, that of King Charles III in a world filled with uncertainty. Globally we have faced immense challenges over the past year – a pandemic, war, economic hardship, and social divides that have been deepened by politics. The crisis for the Faith in the Church is still extant. These issues remain unresolved, yet there is hope for us who breathe to find new strength and courage to continue forward.

As Christians, we know that hope is never lost. As I write, Catholics and others of goodwill around the world are praying for Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI. May his life and example inspire us to continue in faith and hope. As we pray for whatever God wills for him, let us remember the Scripture that reminds us: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11). Let us trust in God’s will for each of us and remember the future He ultimately desires for us all, to be with Him.

The apostle tells us that “Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:5) This New Year’s Day, let us embrace this hope and use it to guide our lives. Let us also remember that God is with us in every moment and that He will never leave us or forsake us. He is our source of strength and comfort, and He will give us the courage to face whatever comes our way. We can put our trust in Him and know that His love will never fail.

In this New Year, I invite you to join me in reflecting on what is most important in life. Even amidst the difficulties of our current reality, let us remember that God is with us at all times and His love never fails. Let us be filled with gratitude for our blessings – both big and small – and use these gifts to bring hope and healing to our world. Let us also strive to be more mindful of the needs of others and practice compassion towards those who are different from us. Together, let us be an example of God’s love and grace in this New Year.

Let us take this time as an opportunity for growth – not only in our understanding of faith but also in our relationships with one another. We are all called to be ambassadors of peace; may we strive each day to embody this calling through acts of kindness, mercy, and justice. May we use this New Year as a chance to open ourselves up even further to God’s plan for our lives so that He can work through us for His glory!

As we embark on this journey into 2023 together, may the Lord bless you abundantly! Remember it is only while we breathe that we may attain our Christian Hope! May your faith grow stronger every day as you seek Him above all else! Amen!

With my prayers for you all this New Year


Dominica Infra Octavam Nativitatis MMXXII A.D.

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“Gaudium magnum”: a pastoral epistle for Christmas 2022


Gaudium magnum[i] (great joy) is how the angel described to the shepherds the first Christmas, but is this the experience of most people today in the 21C? The people displaced by war in Ukraine and other places, the persecuted Christians of the underground church in China and in other places, the homeless sleeping rough on our streets, the families struggling with the rise in the cost of living, the elderly frightened to heat their homes… the lonely, will they experience “great joy” this Christmas?

The word “Christmas” is derived from the old English phrase “Christes maesse”, meaning “Christ’s Mass”. This title reminds us of the real reason for the season, which is the remembrance of the birth of a Saviour, the Messiah, our Redeemer, Jesus, the Christ.

The Mass is the re-presentation of the sacrifice of Calvary, the testimony of God’s love in Christ for us, Who sacrifices Himself for our trespasses and restores us to right relationship with God. This ultimate sacrifice for the redemption of the world is why we celebrate Christmas and is the meaning of its name.

Without the Christ i.e., the Saviour, without the Mass i.e., the Cross, there is no point in feasting and celebrating what is meant to express our joy, hope and faith in God’s love.

St Pius X wrote, “Without any doubt there is a desire in all hearts for peace. But how foolish is he who seeks this peace apart from God; for if God be driven out, justice is banished, and once justice fails, all hope of peace is lost.”[ii] Sadly, dark forces are striving to negate the whole point of Christmas, and in so doing quash true joy from our lives.

Corrupted by Commercialism and Secularisation

Regrettably, over time, Christmas has been slowly diminished by consumerism and secularism. Rather than being a spiritual holiday, it has become a period of shopping, socialising, and indulgence. The authentic intent of the holiday has been forgotten and the emphasis on materialism has stripped Christmas of its true felicity and its genuine elation.

Christmas, for most people, is to be mired in debt, anxiety, and fear of not meeting expectations, a far cry from its original purpose of being an expressive and demonstrative time of faith, hope and love. Regrettably, it has become a time of material worship, hopelessness, and self-centeredness. This is having a deleterious effect on our children, our society and even our faith.

So many Christians have succumbed to this secularised version of Christmas, allowing consumerism and materialism to take over a religious season which was to symbolize trust, expectation, and affection. Instead of honouring our faith, we have allowed our observance to devolve into a season of materialism, unhappiness, and selfishness, the very antithesis of its true meaning and purpose.

Ignorance of our inherited traditions and customs, theology, and history has caused our contemporary witness to become distorted by the values of the world. Forfeiting our unique faith heritage, losing our religious culture and by doing so depriving ourselves and others of the spiritual richness and significance of the season. This infidelity to Christ and His sacrifice on Calvary is why for so many, this season is wretched and despairing.

Our surrender to the secularist narrative and failure to denounce the consumerist zeitgeist is why we fail as ambassadors of the Gospel in our own time and generation. Our apathy and thus capitulation have allowed the corruption of our holiday season and in doing so we have robbed the world of the true spirit and meaning of Christmas.

Reclaim by restoring Christmas!

It is paramount that we re-establish Christmas as a period of joy, hope, and love. We must remember its historical roots, its spiritual significance, and its true meaning. We must strive to reclaim the holiday from its secularisation and consumerism and bring back to the forefront the values of faith, hope and love that are at the core of what Christmas should be about.

In the first instance, we should observe appropriately the pre-season of Advent, through genuine prayer and fasting, not indulging with others in pre-emptive celebrations that spoil the eventual joy of the Christmas season.

We must example ourselves the reconciliation and mercy that is at the heart of the true reason for Christmas and strive to make peace with all. Humbling ourselves to apologise for past hurts or even to accept the contrition of others towards us. Particularly among family, but also acquaintances and colleagues. Let us restore the sense of “goodwill” that was so redolent of this season.

We should encourage thoughtfulness, kindness, and compassion by spending time in activities that reflect the true spirit of Christmas, such as carolling for charities, visiting the sick, elderly, or lonely, volunteering at shelters or soup kitchens, and other ways that express consideration and service. We should strive to demonstrate our faith and how it can make a difference in our communities.

We should take the time to explain the spiritual significance of Christmas and its true meaning to our families, friends, and colleagues. Not shying away from explaining why we are volunteering in charitable activities or attending religious services. We should make a conscious effort to send greeting cards and buy gifts that are meaningful and have a purpose that can also help to restore the meaning of Christmas.

We must counter the concept that Christmas ends on December 26th and restore an extended celebration, like the traditional twelve days of Christmas, that for centuries enabled our forebears to forget their apprehension of the darker days, long nights, and depression regarding the winter months. We should try to reserve our celebratory gatherings and socialising events for the period after Christmas Day, making a point and using any influence we have over the organisation of such events; in times past this was the customary time for seasonal parties, and we could make it so again.

We should rediscover our seasonal customs and traditions and catechise ourselves about their religious and theological significance. This is best done by supporting and restoring authentic Catholic tradition and spirituality, the sacred liturgy and devotional life that in times past turned sinners into saints and formed the basis of our culture and way of life.

We should restore the concept of Christmas as primarily a family-centred celebration, recalling the experience and example of the Holy Family, challenging the rampant individualist attitude prevalent today and fostering an appreciation of familial ties. From there, we can expand the concept to include friends and neighbours and hope to restore “society”.

Pope St. Leo I, “Our Saviour, Dear Friends, was born today: let us rejoice! For there is no proper place for sadness, when we keep the birthday of the Life, which destroys the fear of mortality and brings us the joy of promised eternity. No one is kept from sharing in this happiness. There is for all one common measure of joy, because as our Lord the destroyer of sin and death finds none free from charge, so is He come to free us all. Let the saint exult in that he draws near to victory. Let the sinner be glad in that he is invited to pardon. Let the gentle take courage in that he is called to life.”[iii]

We should strive to ensure that our celebrations are not merely a matter of exchanging gifts, but that we find time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas and its spiritual dimension. We should not forget to pray together, worship together, serve each other and in so doing mirror Him “who came first to serve us”[iv] by offering us salvation, restoration, and reconciliation with God.

Finally, we must not forget that Christmas is ultimately about Jesus and the transformative hope that He brings, for as the carol states, “the hopes and fears of all the years, are met in Thee tonight…”[v] We should strive to re-establish Him at the centre of our lives as we celebrate His coming into this world and hope thereby to bring true “great joy” to all people.

With my prayers for you all this holy season


In Vigilia Nativitatis Domini MMXXII A.D.

[i] Luke 2:10 “And the angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people:”

[ii] “E supremi” October 4, 1903

[iii] Pope St. Leo I, Sermon on the Feast of the Nativity

[iv] Cf Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

[v] O little town of Bethlehem” Rector Phillips Brooks (1835-1903) of Philadelphia, wrote the words to O Little Town of Bethlehem in 1868, following a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He was inspired by the view of Bethlehem from the hills of Palestine especially at night time. His church organist Lewis Redner (1831-1908) wrote the melody to O Little Town of Bethlehem for the Sunday school children’s choir.

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“Veni Emmanuel”: a pastoral epistle for Advent 2022


“Veni Emmanuel” (Come Emmanuel) these now ancient words in the Scripture repeated for centuries in the liturgy, will become our anthem in the season of Advent, but what do they mean to us in the contemporary context?

The season of Advent speaks to us of both the commemoration of the first coming of Our Lord in the Incarnation at Bethlehem, but also too of His second coming, when He will come again “to judge both the living and the dead” as we recite in the Creed. But as always with our faith, the import of these words has not just a memorialised meaning – the past – and a prophetic meaning – the future, but also too of the present. For when we pray these words in the liturgy recalling the Incarnation and looking forward to the end of the world, we realise them in the miracle of the Eucharist when Our Lord comes to us at the consecration.

Remembering the admonishment of St Paul “Qui enim manducat et bibit indigne, judicium sibi manducat et bibit, non dijudicans corpus Domini” [i] in fact judgement comes to us in the moment of Holy Communion. Hence the Church’s discipline has always been to insist that we approach the Eucharist prepared and properly disposed, possessing as much grace as we can in that moment of reception, so that we may avoid damning our souls! To this end, in the ancient liturgy, we make an act of confession and should always strive to avail ourselves of the Sacrament of Penance before hearing Mass when we intend to communicate. Likewise, then, we should take a similar approach to our observance throughout Advent, and by extension to the living of our lives.

Several times Our Lord admonishes us in Scripture to be vigilant and ready for His return [ii]. In St Mathew’s Gospel, in the Parable of the Ten Virgins [iii] we are taught to be like the five wise virgins who were prepared and ready for the Bridegroom when he arrived at the feast. Similarly in St Luke’s Gospel, “Sint lumbi vestri praecincti, et lucernae ardentes in manibus vestris,” [iv] to be ready when the Master returns. The chaste state referred to in both instances may be appreciated figuratively as that condition we receive in baptism, pure and free from sin, and the burning lamps of the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity; the lamps being faith, their light our hope, and the oil, charity.

As in Lent for Easter, so the season of Advent is a preparation for a salvific event – Christmas, traditionally the two times required of all the faithful to receive the Eucharist. They are preparatory seasons, an opportunity for us to review and amend our spiritual lives, in order that we may celebrate with thanksgiving (Gk, eucharistía) and meet the Messiah. We prepare ourselves by fasting, by penance, by daily examination of conscience in order to receive grace, that should Our Lord return, He will find us ready for Him.

In our daily living, it is commendable to perform an examination of conscience and make an Act of Contrition, to prepare ourselves for Our Lord’s second coming. The saints have long commended taking the opportunity to hear Mass daily or indeed receive Holy Communion which is “our daily bread” as Our Lord taught us to pray [v]. If we are not able to attend nor hear Mass daily, we may make an Act of Spiritual Communion for which the Lord’s Prayer is a wholly suitable prayer with that very intention – to be in communion with God. We should strive every day to be found ready and waiting for Our Lord’s return, whenever it may be.

When we prepare ourselves to attend Mass, we should do so with the same diligence and care we would be going to another important event e.g., a job interview, a wedding, a party! For when we come to church, we enter a place set apart specifically to meet God almighty, His Son, Our Lord, and our king, and the Holy Ghost Who enables us to do so. We should take care to present ourselves appropriately, modestly, wearing suitable clothing reflecting the importance of the occasion. We should not present ourselves less than we would to honour a relative, friend or employer at an important occasion.

Consider well whether you will arrive at the banquet of the king suitably attired [vi], physically, and spiritually, or whether He will cast you out! Let us dread to hear the words spoken by the bridegroom to the foolish virgins, “Nescio vos” when we come to meet Him, now or in heaven, “I know you not.” [vii]

With my prayers for you all this holy season


S. Petri Alexandrini Martyri MMXXII A.D.

i 1 Corinthians 11:29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.
ii Cf Mark 13:33; Luke 12:35-40; Luke 21:36; Luke 12:45-48;
iii Matthew 25:1-13
iv Luke 12:35, 36 Let your loins be girt, and lamps burning in your hands. And you yourselves like to men who wait for their lord, when he shall return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open to him immediately.
v Cf Matthew 6:9-13
vi Matthew 22: 1–14
vii Matthew 25:12

Guild of Holy Souls

This November (2022), the month of the holy souls, when holy Church remembers the faithful departed with a particular focus, the Titular Archbishop of Selsey has approved the creation of a Guild of Holy Souls for the benefit of the faithful attached to Old Roman missions and oratories.

By the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread, until you return to the ground, from which you were taken; For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

Genesis 3:19

Purpose of the Guild

The Guild of Holy Souls exists to encourage and facilitate prayer for the repose of the souls of all the faithful departed and to provide assistance to Old Romans desirous of a traditional Catholic burial.

In today’s contemporary society where cremation and other forms of disposal have become common place, a need exists to provide assistance for those who would prefer a traditional Catholic burial for themselves or their loved ones. The Guild of Holy Souls seeks to provide advice, guidance and practical assistance to such persons as well as pray for the souls of their loved ones.

A traditional Catholic funeral consists of three main parts: the Vigil (sometimes called the “Wake”), the Requiem Mass, and the Burial and informal after-burial gatherings. If anyone wants to eulogize the deceased, the Vigil or, especially, the after-burial gathering are the times to do it; eulogies are not permitted at the traditional Requiem Mass.

It is a Spiritual Work of Mercy to pray for the dead

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

1 Thess 4:13-14

If Catholics pray for those still on earth, why not continue to pray for them after they die? Some Christians would reply that immediately after death, you go directly to heaven or to hell. If you’re in heaven, you have no need of prayers. If you’re in hell, prayers will do you no good. In short, they don’t pray for the dead because they don’t believe, as Catholics do, in purgatory.

Sacred Scripture and Tradition affirm that God’s ultimate intention is for us to become perfect, as He is perfect, to become like Him so that we can know, love, and enjoy Him fully in heaven forever (see Matthew 5:48, Hebrews 12:14; 1 John 3:2–3). In fact, heaven simply wouldn’t be heaven unless those who lived there had been perfected. If we were to bring along with us all the sins and weaknesses we have in this life, we would be just as miserable in heaven as we are on earth — for all eternity!

Yes, Christ died to forgive us our sins and save us. But even those who have escaped, through His infinite merits, the penalty of hell — an eternity without God — find that sin has countless other consequences. It disorders our souls, injures others, and leaves us overly attached to things we love more than we love God.

If we’re to live with God forever, then, we must be healed and make amends. If we’re selfish, we must learn to love. If we’re deceitful, we must become truthful. If we’re addicted, we must break the addictions. If we’re bitter, we must forgive.

Whether in this life or the next, however, God doesn’t wave a magic wand, bypassing our free will, to fix us. Instead, we must cooperate with His grace to undo what we have done: paying our debts, letting go of whatever binds us, straightening out whatever is crooked within us.

This process has already begun in our lives on earth. Through doing penance and accepting in faith the inescapable sufferings of this life, we can be purged of sin’s effects and grow in holiness. Nevertheless, few seem to be perfect when they leave this world. They still need some purification, a painful but purging “fire,” as Scripture calls it (see 1 Corinthians 3:14–15).

That’s precisely why we pray and offer Masses for those in purgatory. As Scripture tells us, our intercession helps them: “For it is . . . a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins” (2 Maccabees 12:46, Douay).

It is a Corporal Work of Mercy to bury the dead

My son, shed tears for one who is dead, with wailing and bitter lament; As is only proper, prepare the body, and do not absent yourself from the burial.

Sirach 38:16

For Christians, burial is not the disposal of a thing. It is caring for a person. In burial, we’re reminded that the body is not a shell, a husk tossed aside by the “real” person, the soul within. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:6–8; Phil. 1:23), but the body that remains still belongs to someone, someone we love, someone who will reclaim it one day.

Our father Abraham did not “dispose” of the “container” previously occupied by his loved one. Moses tells us that “Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah east of Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan” (Gen. 23:19, emphasis mine). His burial of his wife, returning her to the dust from which she came, honored our foremother, in precise distinction from the shamefulness with which our God views the leaving of bodies to decompose publicly (Is. 5:25).

The Gospel of John tells us that “Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days” (John 11:17). The Holy Spirit chose to identify this body as Lazarus, communicating continuity with the very same person Jesus had loved before and would love again.

The bodies of the dead must be treated with respect and charity, in faith and hope of the Resurrection. The burial of the dead is a corporal work of mercy; it honours the children of God, who are temples of the Holy Spirit, the body of its deceased member. The perennial tradition of the Church is unequivocal in its insistence that the body, in its entirety, be returned to the earth, in a way that allows for the natural process of its decomposition and re-integration with its primordial source – the soil of which it was formed. It also insists that in the interim between death and interment, the integrity and dignity of the body be respected and preserved.

How the Guild of Holy Souls helps

Each Old Roman mission or oratory will have a Guild, and local members will contribute regularly, and as they are able, to the Guild Fund, holding monies in common that may be used discretionarily to provide financial assistance for bereaved relatives to cover the cost of a traditional Catholic burial. If cremation is necessary for financial reasons, as is increasingly common, or because of the threat of disease, the remains must still be interred; they can’t be scattered.

The members of the Guilds will meet regularly, at least once a month, to pray for the faithful departed and assist at the offering of a Requiem Mass. The Guild members will also be responsible for maintaining a Chantry Book for their mission or oratory, in which the names of the associated faithful departed will be inscribed by month of their passing, in order that they may be remembered at the appropriate monthly Requiem to their anniversary of death.

Traditional Catholics may apply to the Guild Treasurer of the local Old Roman mission/oratory, or be referred by the priest, detailing the costs/shortfall required. Applications may be made for assistance to cover the cost of embalming, coffins(/caskets), burial plots, burial clothes, and the traditional funeral rites. All applications will be considered discretionarily and amounts granted will be dependent on the reserves of the local Guild’s common fund.

Details about the erection of the Guilds and their constitutions will be made available soon on theoldroman.com website.

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Upon the death of Queen Elizabeth II

A statement by the Titular Archbishop of Selsey on the death of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland, September 8th 2022

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We mourn today the passing of Her late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, for many our only monarch and for all, the longest serving monarch of our lifetimes and in the history of our nation.

Through all the vicissitudes of modern history, the warring tensions of contemporary life, much of which affected her family deeply as well as our nation, Elizabeth II was in her person the steady anchor providing continuity and stability throughout it all. This she was able to do because of her deeply held Christian faith. Not just in her patronage of charities and good causes, and sense of duty but in her very person, possessing a living faith.

In her quiet yet not understated manifestation of Christian discipleship, Her Majesty subtly taught us by example, how to fulfill the two Great Commandments; love of God and love of neighbour (cf Matthew 22:35-40). The devotion with which she kept her Coronation Oath to God for love of Him, and the depth of her personal commitment and sense of duty to neighbour in public service for love of us, her people, is a lesson in sacrificial humility for us all. Though she would likely be the first to demure, Her Majesty’s Christian example is comparable in many ways to the great historical and canonised monarchs of our faith.

The greatness of her long reign and all the major milestones of modern history through which she lived, will surely long be remembered. But what must never be forgotten, if we would truly cherish the memory of her as a person, and if we would desire a lasting legacy of her life’s achievements, it behoves us all who share her faith to ourselves manifest it as she did, in sacrificial service of each other, our society and our nation. God save the Queen.

Long live the King.