IT IS always sad to say goodbye, even temporarily as it is hoped. I am referring in this case to Fr Conrad Pepler whose last Scripture Notebook, at least for the time being, appears in this week's issue. Fr Nicholas King, SJ, a noted scripture scholar, will be taking up the running as from next week, in preparation for Advent.
Fr Conrad, for whom I have had boundless admiration since first hearing his sermons at Black friars in undergraduate days at Oxford, had a major operation earlier this year. But he recovered well, DG, and did not fail to send us a single edition of the Scripture Notebook.
I notice that he contributes an important article to the current number of The Chesterton Review, a publication which I cannot commend to you too highly.
The review is the journal of the Chesterton Society which was founded in England in 1974 at Spode House at the time when Fr Conrad was Warden there.
In his own contribution to the latest (quarterly) number Fr Conrad speaks of his own early days and Quaker background.
He followed his father, Hilary Pepler, into the Catholic Church and their life at home was inspired by a daily routine based on that of the Dominican Third Order.
It was a remarkable example, in fact, of adaptation to ordinary life of the ideals of one of the Church's many "secular institutes," many of which are affiliated to the big religious congregations and are known as Third Orders.
Membership of such an institute is one of the best ways of fulfilling one's Christian vocation in the widest sense of the word, a theme discussed this week by Fr Peter Verity on page five. SECULAR Institutes are formed by groups of people who wish to dedicate their lives to God while still living very much "in the world."
Such Institutes, to quote the Dominican official directive on the subject, "are under the jurisdiction of the Sacred Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes. Their vocational requirements are unique and very demanding. They are not a "watered down" form of traditional consecrated life."
There is a large number of secular institutes which are well established in this country. Among the ancient Orders to which they are linked are the Carmelites, Franciscans, Servites and Dominicans.
Enquiries are welcomed by such orders for those who want to lead a "hidden life" wherein can exist, more often than not, the exciting extra dimension of secret but highly effective service to God.
In most cases, moreover, one's parish priest can give information of secular institutes existing locally, the variety of which may come as quite a surprise.
JUST OVER thirty years ago a group of enterprising folk got together to discuss the idea of starting a club in London in which Catholics could meet, entertain their friends, stay the night, hold meetings, and so forth.
It was an ambitious idea which, against forebodings on the part of some, has been brilliantly successful.
In unsnobbish and workmanlike fashion over the last three decades the Challoner Club has thus flourished in its premises in Pont Street.
It has now had a good idea and decided to give a wine and cheese party so that members and former friends can have a get-together and reunion.
The party will be on Saturday, December 4 at 7.30 and tickets may be purchased in advance.
Those interested should, I am told, send their cheques for £2 and a stamped addressed envelope to Miss Hawkins at the club, 59-61 Pont Street, London SW I .
Growing in grace
LAST YEAR, when the Charismatic Renewal held its Fourth International Leaders' Conference in Rome, the Pope spoke of the "special joy of growing in a desire for the unity to which the Spirit guides us, and in a commitment to the serious task of Ecumenism."
This year, however, some misunderstandings have arisen as to the exact form which charismatic ecumenism should appropriately take.
With the help of Bob Balkam, long active in British Renewal circles, I have elicited a clarification of the matter.
It is given by Fr Fio Mascarenhas, SJ, who is Director of the International Charismatic Renewal Office in Rome. The misunderstandings had arisen out of earlier reports concerning discussions with the Council of the Laity.
Fr Mascarhenas points out that the Renewal "is a current of grace flowing through the Catholic Church and other Christian churches today, and so there can be no question of dropping non-Catholic members or even of requiring some type of formal membership."
What he is saying, it seems, is that Renewal can be comprehensive without compromising any of the existing rules on intercommunion and similar regulations.