Funny How Times Change...

Fr Ray Blake has picked up on Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith's post for The Catholic Herald on the Crusades. Apparently, this new BBC series is not as concerned with 'black legend' as previous attempts by the mass media to portray or rather distort the hisstory of the Crusades.

Unlike the recent war in Iraq, the Crusades began in defense of the Holy Places and the Chrisitian pilgrims. In Iraq, on the other hand, Christians are fleeing in their thousands in the wake of 'democratisation', which leads us nicely onto a local charity working from St Mary Magdalen.

This afternoon we had Brighton Voices in Exile in the parish community centre. Funny how times change. The Voices in Exile charity gives food, advice and practical assistance to asylum seekers from various parts of the World.

Most if not all have no access to the state benefits system and many are trying to appeal against their ordered expulsion from the United Kingdom. Whatever you read in The Daily Mail, it isn't the whole story. Voices in Exile this afternoon hosted a meal for their voices. Obviously, given that they are asylum seekers, many destitute, BVIE have a high proportion of peole from Africa and the Middle East, so there is a real mixture of religions going on there - a veritable melting pot. Possibly the majority are Muslims, some are Catholic, some are Coptic and some evangelical Christians, a minority of atheists/agonistics I guess. I expect it is quite diverse. War is over, at least in Brighton, and it seems that a Catholic Church is at the heart of reaching out to all in need, regardless of whether they are Muslim or Christian. I think the Holy Father would be glad to see St Mary Magdalen hosting some really quite generous caritas in veritate.

I've got some spare time on my hands, as readers know, and so I'm planning to dedicate some time to brightening the centre up with flowers, soft lighting and nice pictures on the wall. Looking at it from the angle of someone wanting to hire a space, it looks terribly austere. I know what you're thinking. Alright, maybe some cushions, as well and a small low maintenance fish tank. It would be nice to make the place feel more homely and welcoming. I'm planning to do an Adult Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector course (another course) and who knows, maybe one day I can hire out the community hall myself and do some teaching. The Voices today said that they appreciate the fact that the centre is starting to look a little more warm and welcoming and the heating was even on today thanks be to God and boiler repair man. In the Middle Ages the Church was at war with Muslims. Now, we are feeding them in our community centres. Funny how times change...

There is much to celebrate this year at St Mary Magdalen's, as not only has Fr Blake received the great news that Mother Riccarda's cause is going very well indeed, but also we have celebrations to mark the 150th anniversary of the opening of St Mary Magdalen Church in 1862, so I am hoping that the community centre will host some parish events this year too. Say a prayer for the parish community centre that it serves Christ and the community to the Glory of God and say a prayer for the Voices.