taking picture

‘Me piccie’ if required!

By: David Baldwin, CTS author and Guest Blogger

Having been born and raised in Kenya,
I know exactly what to expect when I stay at the parish community of St Peter’s that my charity supports,
in the harsh, remote, semi-arid area in NE Kenya:
the heat, dust, grinding poverty,
virtually impassable roads, power cuts, no clean water,
a simple, but demanding subsistence existence
I take it all as a given.

But when coming from that environment, I wondered what Fr Frankline, the parish priest, whom we brought over this summer to visit all our supporters, was going to make of us on his very first visit to England?

“At a glance, England is a very blessed country.
When we started coming down to land at Bristol airport, reaching at the heights I could view the ground, I first marveled at the organisation of the country.
Settlements, farms, forest reserves, roads network, all fabulous.”

pet food aisle

“Flabbergasted at the sizeable pet food aisle”

So far so good! We packed a lot in during his 18 day visit – in and around Somerset, London, Berkshire – talking and preaching to church congregations and schools, meeting and thanking our lovely supporters, seeing all the sights – probably massive sensory overload for him!

But as we went round I began seeing things through his eyes that we all take so much for granted.

He was amazed that people cycle and walk for pleasure;
flabbergasted at the sizeable aisles given over to Pet Food in the supermarkets;
mystified at seeing the fresh roses flown from Kenya on sale;
puzzled at the effort we put in to growing flowers (which can’t be eaten);
ditto tending lawns with such loving care on which maize could be grown.

You what?!:   

you bathe in and flush toilets with water that is drinkable?!”

Glanstonbury Diocesan pilgrimage

“all speaking and understanding the same language of Christ” – Glastonbury Diocesan pilgrimage

But what took his imagination most was the ‘ant holes’ of all the frantic activity of the London Underground, and he was constantly impressed by our extensive and well maintained road network – “you are able to drive right up to the front of your houses!”.

But there was no doubting that he absolutely loved and appreciated  his visit:

For the eighteen days I have stayed in England, I have enjoyed a Kingly treatment. I have met with people who have been very kind and loving to me”.

   For me it was a salutary reminder of our starkly opulent life styles that we all take so much for granted, particularly at this time of our abundant harvest.

But…. running through all those eye-openers, there was that one reassuring and common theme wherever we went – we all speak and understand the same language of Christ, and worship in that universal manner of our “one holy, catholic and apostolic Church” – absolutely seeing eye to eye there!

“People of England, I love you all on behalf of the community I serve, and leave you with our local community saying, ‘Saying goodbye does not bar us from meeting again at God’s appointed time’.”

I know all who came in contact with Fr Frankline during his visit are looking forward again to that ‘appointed’ time!


When do you write? What’s the process you go through when you write?

Following the 30th October post on how he started writing, we asked Monsignor Paul Grogan more about this. pencil-918449_1920He has recently written a book for CTS on the Spiritual Works of Mercy.
Writing may not be an easy task, but it is highly rewarding…

Paul Grogan
Twitter: @paulgrogan64   Blog: A priest’s life

I write best in the morning, like most people I suspect. I am always tempted to scrimp a bit on prayer in the morning so that I can get down to the task in hand, but I know that never ends well.
If I don’t start the day properly, giving God due time, then writing about him becomes merely an exercise in raw, ugly ambition and, unsurprisingly, the right words do not come very easily, if at all.

As I found all those years ago when I was a student, it is only when writing expresses a relationship – in this instance mine with God – that it becomes meaningful and life-giving.


Initial confusion can actually lead to meaningful and life-giving writing.

I make lots of notes from my reading first.
Then I put the notes aside and I think to myself, “What are the key three things you want to say in this part?” I write those points down – they usually come quite easily – and I draw a mind map around them.
Then I write a linear plan, which I follow pretty slavishly.

The following day I quite often abandon that whole line of thought and quietly despair, but only for a time. A dragon looms over me and I can smell his evil breath and I go to bed feeling tired and peculiarly lonely.

The next morning, the dragon no longer has the advantage: hours of light lie before me which I can use to construct a new argument
and when the mental connections come, mysteriously, almost unbidden, I become aware that in a small way I have won a significant victory. I have used my mind to bring order out of chaos (and God has helped me to do this).

Two key learnings


Monsignor Paul Grogan is a parish priest in Bradford and former chaplain of Leeds Trinity University,

I went on a personal development day at Leeds Trinity a couple of years ago which has helped me greatly in my writing. Fortunately for me nobody else turned up for this course so I had the instructor to myself. I learned two key things.

Firstly, the confusion is good.

It is a sign that the mind is processing ideas and data. We need to throw ourselves into acquiring knowledge undeterred by the nauseous sense that we are wasting our time because nothing seems to be fitting together.
The most important time is when we go and do something else in the evening. In these moments what we have read is processed in our sub-conscious.

Then suddenly the next day we have an idea based on what we had read before, an idea which is totally new. It’s always amazing when I stop plodding – mentally speaking – and then for a short while (and sometimes just 30 seconds is enough) I go into what Captain Kirk used to describe as warp drive, an intellectual “whoosh” which leaves me feeling invigorated. Straight afterwards I start to plod again, though more cheerfully now.


The “one hour rule” is an important step in the process of writing.

Secondly, I learnt a technique which has proved invaluable. It’s the “one hour rule.”
Like many of us I can become distressed because I think I do not have enough time to get a job done or else I can think, “I only have an hour, so why bother even starting a task? This “rule” helps me to maximise the possibilities that 60 minutes afford.

I resolve not to answer the door or the phone and I set an alarm to alert me to the end of the period: that way I’m not distracted looking at my watch.
Then, I begin and it’s often as if I am going into a different state of being. Indeed it sometimes feels like meditative prayer. As in prayer, after a while I can feel frustrated; but, as in prayer, there is nothing to be done: I have to press on.

Slowly the mind quietens itself and it becomes more capable of comprehending what it’s focusing upon.

I can only manage three such hours in the day. Afterwards I feel tired but profoundly satisfied. Even if I haven’t made all the progress I would have wanted, I feel very peaceful because I know that I could not have done any more.

Pieces of advice

As a very minor writer myself, I have two pieces of advice for prospective writers.

Firstly, find somebody who can encourage you. In other words, be humble enough to recognise that you can’t do it by yourself.

Secondly, don’t worry whether a particular piece makes the grade or not:

the act of creative engagement is inherently valuable, pleasing to God and personally up-building.

Most of our disappointments are just a manifestation of pride so we don’t need to be too worried about them.

Towards concrete acts

I am particularly interested in how CTS publication can help people to do act in order to express their faith.

I have a sense that young people in particular want to know how they can demonstrate to themselves and to others that they are disciples of Jesus. This is a big cultural shift. Some of the best CTS pamphlets explain a particular moral teacPgf2hing of the church with great concision and they express a pleasing ecclesial self-confidence that makes our faith seem especially attractive.

By themselves however they are insufficient. I do not want to be merely convinced of the truth: I want to be a twenty first century Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (albeit, admittedly, rather older than he ever became!). One of Blessed Pier Giorgio’s friend poked fun at him for saying the rosary in the street. “I am trying to remain Catholic” he said, or words to that effect.
In other words this great man – whom St John Paul II declared to be a model for young people throughout the world – knew that he had to be constantly building his faith through acts which opened his heart to grace.

Hence I love CTS books that describe both how we may love our faith, most especially through developing our lives of prayer, including saying prayers, and how we may live our faith, in particular through growing in virtue through the performance of good acts.

I think – and I don’t mind being a bit controversial here – the single most significant act of new evangelisation which the Catholic Church has engaged in in the last twenty years has been the reintroduction of Friday abstinence as a public penance. People I know find it a bit difficult to integrate this new practice into their lives; some ridicule it. It’s got an incredibly rich significance though; the discipline says:

I do in order to become more who I am.

To use an expression of Chiara Lubich, foundress of the Focolare Movement,

it requires me to say a small “no” in order to say a more complete “yes” to Our Lord.

I would want through my writing somehow to foster a culture of engaging in small concrete acts. The realisation of their importance has been for me like going through a threshold experience.

By: Father James Bradley, Guest Blogger

Twitter: @FrJamesBradley    Blog: Thine Own Service

The First Sunday of Advent will see the introduction of a new missal in the Catholic Church, one that has been in preparation for five hundred years.

Known as Divine Worship: The Missal, it has been handsomely published by the Catholic Truth Society to serve the communities and parishes of the personal ordinariates —structures similar to dioceses, established to provide a home in the Catholic Church for those from the Anglican tradition.


Divine Worship: The Missal obviously didn’t really take five hundred years to prepare, but it is the product of the prayers of almost half a millennium. It represents, in a very real way, the fruit of the sacrifices made by Catholics during the so-called Reformation, and embodies the longed-for unity of Christians articulated by the documents of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council.

In his encyclical letter on Christian unity, Ut unum sint, Pope Saint John Paul II said that

“legitimate diversity is no way opposed to the Church’s unity, but rather enhances her splendour and contributes treating to the fulfillment of her mission.” 

This principle is at work in Divine Worship. Our distinctive liturgical life in the personal ordinariates is at once a sign of that legitimate diversity, and of a tradition which has been grafted to the vine from which it was so brutally severed—the rock from which it was hewn (Isaiah 51:1).

In the words of Pope Benedict XVI, the liturgical life of the personal ordinariates and so Divine Worship: The Missal, may be seen as

“a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the ordinariate and . . . a treasure to be shared.”

IMG_9626This is why Divine Worship: The Missal matters to us all, whether or not we are members of a personal ordinariate; whether or not we are ourselves even former Anglicans. As Archbishop Augustine Di Noia from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith recently said,

“Divine Worship and the personal ordinariates represent, in many ways, a realized ecumenism.”

That is to say, this new missal is a fruit of our prayer for Christian Unity. It is what Pope Benedict called“a prophetic gesture … [that] sets our sights on the ultimate goal of all ecumenical activity: the restoration of full ecclesial communion.” The introduction of Divine Worship, then, represents a hugely important moment in the life of the communities of the personal ordinariates, as we seek to implement in an authentic way the vision set before us by the Church and for which we have prayed for so long. It is also a moment of historic significance for the whole Church, as the liturgical patrimony of Christians from a community forged in the crucible of the Protestant Reformation is refined and repatriated to the fullness of Catholic communion. All Catholics can rejoice in this work and support us in this task: Visit our communities! Get to know our people! Come and experience our worship! Above all, continue to take up the Lord’s challenge given on the night that he was betrayed, to pray that all may be one in him, that the world might believe (John 17: 21).

Also available from CTS:

Divine Worship: Occasional Services

What is the Ordinariate? [PDF]

More Images of Divine Worship: The Missal

Divine Worship: The Missal


Father James Bradley is a Priest of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, and a graduate student of Canon Law at The Catholic University of America, in Washington, DC.


By: Jim Gallagher, CTS Author & Guest Blogger

It always seems to come like a jarring jolt that pulls us up short.

After the joy of All Hallows’ Eve and All Saints’ Day itself, I mean.

The clocks have changed and the evenings draw in so dark and ever-earlier.

Suddenly its upon us – All Souls’ Day.
And indeed a whole month dedicated to prayer for the souls of our faithful departed.


This is the mercy of the Church in action. Before we end up the liturgical year acclaiming the Kingship of Christ in all things and entering once more into the childlike awaiting of Advent.

The Church never fails to remind us. Death. The End. The Four Last Things.

As an altarboy in childhood I remember our parish priest always told us that every priest may celebrate Holy Mass three times on All Souls’ Day. We understood that there were special graces to be obtained for the dead on that day.

In fact, it was Pope Benedict XV who granted that permission to priests, in 1915, during the carnage of the First World War.

st john paul bioThe very first Masses offered by Pope St John Paul were three Masses on All Souls’ Day 1946. Having been ordained the previous day, he offered his first Masses for his deceased mother, father and brother, as I recounted in my CTS biography of him.chiara lubich

The subject of my most recent CTS biography, the Servant of God Chiara Lubich, foundress of a worldwide movement, took praying for the dead very seriously and did so every day after Holy Communion and also in her daily Rosary.

She made a point of preparing and being with those members of her Movement who lived near her headquarters who were dying whenever she possibly could, as I recount in that booklet.

The traditional reading on All Souls’ Day is from the Second Book of the Maccabees:

It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from sins (2 Maccabees 12:46

Let us not waste the chance. Let us not squander the Mercy.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.


→ Readings for All Souls’ Day Mass ←

→ All Souls Day Indulgence ←

Jim GallagherJim Gallagher is a journalist, author and translator who has written four popular CTS biographies. His books have been translated into several languages including Icelandic, Chinese, Polish and Farsi.

How did you start writing? Why did you end up writing for CTS?

We asked these questions and more to Monsignor Paul Grogan, a parish priest in Bradford and former chaplain of Leeds Trinity University who has recently written a book for CTS on the Spiritual Works of Mercy.
From childhood, he has loved to write…

Paul Grogan
Twitter: @paulgrogan64   Blog: A priest’s life

I love writing.
I remember once, at the age of 12, wanting to give a really good account of the Roman Empire but then my parents told me to go to bed so I carried on writing by the light of a torch under the bed covers so as not to disturb my brother sleeping in the bed beside me.

I loved finding out what polysyllabic words meant and then using them.
Of course, I was just trying to show off half the time. Yet, more positively, as I grew up I began to realise the sheer beauty of the precise expression of a thought or an argument or a scene.

Playing a musical instrument or fashioning a joint in carpentry or whizzing mentally through mathematical calculations – I couldn’t do any of these things. Nor was I great at writing.
I knew moments however when exactitude of language made my heart beat faster. Joining a drama group at school helped with that.

Desultory lines

Then came a moment – when I was about eighteen – when I suddenly could not think of how to express myself at all. I was studying for a degree in English Literature at Cambridge University. I so wanted to write well that I became panic-stricken.

One summer’s evening I sat at our dining room table at home staring at a blank sheet of paper, endeavouring to capture my reader’s attention in the first few lines of an essay about the novelist Joseph Conrad. Various members of my family camenotes-514998_1920 in and out of the room while my humiliation mounted. I dreaded their asking me how things were going. Desultory lines were crossed out.

At the end of the evening I had no text at all to show for all my mental effort. How could it be that everybody else was so much more intelligent than I was?

What helped me to emerge from this imprisoning sense of incompetence was kind words. I remember my Director of Studies, Wilbur Sanders, once saying something which was not only quite complimentary but that was very evidently aimed at boosting my rather low self-confidence. That meant, to me, that he was on my side.

Now, as I tried to write well, I was trying to demonstrate that I appreciated his good-heartedness. The “showing off” side was no longer at the forefront of my mind: writing had become about our relationship. I felt his pleasure as I became bolder, more linguistically dexterous.

Then when a long essay which I had hoped would be really good proved overambitious and formless and I ran out of time so that I could not rectify things, I did not feel humiliated before him: I knew he understood that I had simply become overwhelmed. There would be other days.

Feeling chosen

Another key time for me was when I worked as a reporter for The Universe for nearly three years before I went to seminary. That experience made me aware of the need of brevity and of speed.

It also helped me to become less precious about what I wrote. Why agonise when the copy I wrote could effectively be rewritten by the copy editors? Many of my colleagues were more articulate than I.
That distressed me simply because my pride was hurt.

Again, it was a kind word that made the difference. Kieran Moore, the Deputy Editor, said to me once that different writers progressed at different speeds – I felt then that I was indeed making progress and that that was really all that mattered.

When I was asked to write for the CTS I was delighted.
I felt chosen.
I also felt alarmed.

The great thing about getting a bit older however – coupled with regular spiritual direction – is that feeling alarmed is much less alarming than it used to be.

When I am asked to demonstrate my worth by, for example, writing a pamphlet, I suddenly become aware that my incompetence is about to be laid bare before people who I wish would esteem me.
Then I think, “Oh yes, that feeling again. Right, I better get on with it now then.”spiritual works of mercy

This means that writing is seldom easy for me. It is emotionally costly. It is the way that I make myself vulnerable, but also the way in which I learn about myself.

I feel honoured to be a CTS writer because I’m aware of the great value that the books and the pamphlets have, especially for people who are questioning quietly, edging towards fullness of assent.

Until last month I was Chaplain at Leeds Trinity University and we have two racks of CTS materials, one for booklets and one for pamphlets. I would often see students who would not go into the chapel browsing the material, caught between the desire to remain in control and the urge to ask questions.

I have often cited CTS books also in modules I have taught for the Catholic Certificate of Religious Studies. Now that I have begun to write for the CTS myself I feel that I am taking my place in expressing the magisterial teaching of the Church.

That feels wonderful.
I feel able to do it.


Pope Francis is known for his simple yet profound insights on topics ranging from the family to the environment, with a focus on practical love for one another. Here we bring together some of our favourite quotes from the Holy Father’s recent series of Catechesis on the Family, which is newly published by CTS.

1) Expressions of Love

Imagine three expressions written above the doorway. The expressions are: “may I?”, “thank you”, and “pardon me”. Indeed, these expressions open up the way to living well in your family, to living in peace.

thank you!


2) Always Make Peace

Let me give you a word of advice: never finish the day without making peace with one another. So if you’ve fought, do not let the day end without making peace with your family. And how am I going to make peace? By getting down on my knees? No! Just by a small gesture, a little something, and harmony within your family will be restored. Just a little caress, no words necessary.


3) Sharing a Plan

Many couples are together a long time, perhaps also in intimacy, sometimes living together, but they don’t really know each other. It seems curious, but experience shows that it’s true. Therefore engagement needs to be re-evaluated as a time of getting to know one another and sharing a plan.



4) Celebrate!

The family is endowed with an extraordinary ability to understand, guide and sustain the authentic value of the time for celebration. How beautiful family celebrations are, they are beautiful! Sunday celebrations in particular. It is surely no coincidence that celebrations which have room for the whole family are those that turn out the best!



5) Affection for God

A heart which is home to affection for God makes a prayer of an unspoken thought, or an invocation before a holy image, or a kiss blown to the Church. It’s beautiful when mothers teach their little children to blow kisses to Jesus or to Our Lady. What tenderness there is in this! In that moment the child’s heart is transformed into a place of prayer.



6) Love for the Word

Prayer flows from closeness with the Word of God. Is there this closeness in our family? Do we have the Gospel at home? Do we open it sometimes to read it together? Do we meditate on it while reciting the Rosary? The Gospel read and meditated on as a family is like good bread that nourishes everyone’s heart.

bible love6


7) Motherly Love

Mothers are the strongest antidote to the spread of self-centred individualism. “Individual” means “what cannot be divided”. Mothers, instead, “divide” themselves, from the moment they bear a child to give him to the world and help him grow.


8) Love for Children

I remember what my mother said about us – there were five of us: – “I have five children”. When they asked her: “Which one is your favourite”, she answered: “I have five children, like five fingers. Should they strike this one, it hurts me; should they strike that one, it hurts me. All five hurt me. All are my children and all are different like the fingers of a hand”. And this is how a family is! The children are all different, but all children.


9) Care for the Elderly

The Church cannot and does not want to conform to a mentality of impatience, and much less of indifference and contempt, towards old age. We must reawaken the collective sense of gratitude, of appreciation, of hospitality, which makes the elder feel like a living part of his community.



10) Always be grateful

I remember once listening to a very wise, old person; very simple, but with that uncommon wisdom of life and piety: “Gratitude is a plant that grows only in the soil of noble souls”. That nobility of soul, that grace of God in the soul compels us to say “thank you” with gratitude. It is the flower of a noble soul.


For more pearls of wisdom on family & relationships from Pope Francis, check out our new booklet, Pope Francis & the Family, available now for £2.95.

Like this post? Comment below with other topics you would like us to cover!

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