The NCP Convention

The NCP Convention

The current edition of The Swag reproduces a blog post by Fr Norm Langenbrunner, one of the founding members of the newly formed Association of United States Catholic Priests.

The AUSCP styles itself as an association of ‘Vatican II priests’ who wish to keep alive the Spirit of the Council. By way of clarification, Fr Norm relates in his post the content of a talk he heard at a recent AUSCP regional meeting:

In his presentation Father Bacik clarified the difference between Vatican II priests and JPII priests under two operative models of priesthood: servant/leader (inspired by Vatican II) or spiritual father (inspired by Pope John Paul II).

The servant/leader model tends to see a priest in terms of ministry shared with the laity, of witness to social justice issues, of exploring how the Gospel is to be translated into today’s world.

The spiritual father model tends to see a priest in terms of directing the laity in their service to the Church, of piety in prayer, of maintaining orthodoxy.

Bearing in mind that I didn’t have access to the actual text of Fr Jim Bacik’s talk, and Fr Norm wasn’t attempting to reproduce Fr Bacik’s talk in any detail, I shook my head as I read these paragraphs.

I consider myself a ‘JPII priest.’ John Paul was still pope when I discerned a priestly vocation and entered the seminary, and his writings and spirituality have had a big influence on me. Nonetheless, although I happily identify with piety in prayer and with orthodoxy, I certainly don’t pretend to “direct the laity in their service to the Church.” That’s a brand of clericalism which I’ll always reject. I suspect most ‘JPII priests’ do likewise.

Knowing your adversary

It’s never an easy thing to faithfully describe an adversarial position. I’ve failed at it myself. People sometimes ask me why I wear a clerical collar, and why many other priests don’t wear the clerical collar. My answer was always thoughtful and charitable, but for a long time it was wrong. I misread the motives of the older generations of priests who eschew the collar. I realised that when I asked a priest whom I respect why he had taken off the collar. His answer startled me, because his motivation to hang up the collar was identical to my motivation to take it up again: “It opens doors.” That’s not a reason I had attributed.

Because I get it wrong myself, I am patient with people who misrepresent an adversarial position. Misunderstanding one’s adversary is not on its own sufficient grounds to discount a voice, which is typically more authoritative when expressing more sympathetic positions. I persevered with Fr Norm’s article, and the rest of The Swag, for the insight it can offer on “Vatican II priests.” What are they thinking? What are they feeling? I did this, not only because they are my brother priests and it’s good to take an interest in family, but also because this past week, I attended the NCP Convention in Warrnambool.

Warrnambool 2012

I like to think I’m open minded, and that I went into the convention with a positive attitude. One of my favourite quotes comes from James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake:

Catholic means, ‘Here comes everybody.’

I can deal with the fact that I disagree with other priests on many things. Nonetheless, walking into the convention room that first evening, I was very tentative. To my mind, The Swag is often beyond the pale, and the NCP excessively negative. Apart from that, any large clerical gathering can become something of a minefield. An old saying — often repeated by priests — came to mind:

Priests are like manure. Grouped together they produce hot air and bad smells; spread out they do a lot of good.

At best, I expected to receive deeper insight into the minds and hearts of self-styled “Vatican II priests,” while enduring unfair and inaccurate characterisations of my own generation.

But I received much more than that. I received the hospitality of priests who were sincere in their welcome, and quite willing to engage. And in the keynote addresses by Fr Timothy Radcliffe I received universal insights into the Church and the world. Radcliffe showed himself to be not only a clear and deep thinker, but someone who is able to understand and express his adversaries’ positions as well as his own. He set the tone for a convention which was not pessimistic or self-obsessed, but hopeful and supernatural in its outlook.

My differences with many in the NCP remain. I think I may have cast the sole dissenting vote on one motion. (I didn’t look around at the show of hands.) But all Catholic priests share a lot in common. I learnt a lot at the convention — from its speakers, and from its attendees. And I enjoyed the week immensely.

In many ways, I was more “at home” at last month’s ACCC Conference. But I felt a welcome guest at the NCP Convention, and I will go again. I recommend it.

The May racing carnival

The May racing carnival

Simon the Pieman, last seen on the side of tram no. 2032, has sent me his tips for tomorrow’s big day in Warrnambool.

The nation may stop for the Melbourne Cup, but the city of Warrnambool stops for the whole week of its May Racing Carnival! But the big ones — the Grand Annual Steeplechase and the Warrnambool Cup — are held on the first Thursday of May.

A little precaution though. Simon the Pieman’s opinions are far from infallible. By way of example, he claims that “we were lucky” we won the Anzac Day match. A highly dubious claim. I’d put it down to Collingwood’s insurmountable talent. But that’s just me.

Hello Fr. John. How are you going? I went to the football last week. We were lucky.

Last week St. Pius X celebrated 50 years since the first Mass held at West Warrnambool. There’s an article on the diocesan website.

There are 10 big races tomorrow at the Bool. I’ll try and give you a winner.

Race 1 Hurdle.

1. Honour the Force
4. Goldtown
6. Thomond Park
7. Luck Lindsay.

Race 2.

11. God’s Own Country.
16. Rainbow Queen.
8. Sir Tully
17. Fifteen Schooners.

Race 3

6. Staddle the Stars
3. The Miggstar
13. Mister Cool (This horse is ridden by my mate Jason Benbow he lent me his goggles one day.)
9. King’s A Star.

Race 4.

2. Crafty Cruiser
13. The Fonz (This is a local horse trained my mate Jarrod Mclean at Yangery.)
20. Le Roi Charlemagne (This horse might not get run but just check the scrachings — it is fourth emergency)

6. Glenisla Crossing. (This horse is traine at Hamilton.)

Race 5. Simon’s Waterfront sponsors this race!

This is two year old’s race. Watch for the superstar.
1.Gold Medals
13. Latino Goss
9. Strop
6. Monbazillac.

Now the Big One. The Grand Annual.

33 fences and 5500 and Rick McIntosh calling who loves the jumps he brings jumps racing alive.
3, Tobouggie Nights. (This is trained my my mate John Wheeler. He has won 4 Grand Annuals.)
4. Pay the Aces
6. Grizz
9. Big Jam (This is trained by Jarrod McLean he has two runners in this another one is Cats Fun it has got a chance too)

Race 7.

6. Finishing Card. (When I have a box trifecta my favourite numbers are 2,6 and 12 because they were the numbers when I got my first box tri.)
2 Forty Two Below
12. Belleza Veloz
3. Youbolt.

Race 8. The Cup.

Dandy Andy won this race is 1988 and won the Australia Cup. Last year’s runner up won the Sydney Cup last weekend.

16. The Black Oak (Jason Benbow is riding this)
10 Swooper
7. Module
15. Abitfado

Race 9.

5. Mikeys Magic
11. Jetta
7. Tolka Polka
6. Shysta

Race 10.

The lucky last — but the party continues at the pubs afterwards. I’m having a $3 box tri on 2, 6 and 12.

3. Wealthy Lad
12. Diamonds of Dusk
6. Famoss
7. Nicastro (Yes this is trained by Jarrod McLean too!)

All these horse are all good each ways bets, but just check the scratchings.

I backed a horse today which paid $14 for a place (it came 3rd). I say if you can’t back a winner, just soak up the atmosphere and thanks be to God for letting Warrnambool have its big three day carnival with jumps races!

Keep Well and Happy Punting from Simon the Pieman.