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a former eucharistic minister, I had wondered why he did not consume that host himself. Now, as he moved on from my outstretched hand, he made it clear that, in his view, the dirty floor was less likely to defile the host than my washed hands, the creation of the Lord. My overall

feeling, though, was one of

extreme sadness. Sadness, that I had been excluded from the Eucharist, a sacrament that has always been so important to me, and which I have received in the hand in probably hun- dreds of churches in dozens of countries over the years. But also overwhelming sadness that nothing that has happened in the Church in recent years – the dreadful revelations of appalling child sexual abuse by some of the priests of the Church throughout the world, and the ensuing cover-up of that abuse by so many of those in authority –none of this had brought about even the slightest hint of humility in this church in Vilnius. I’m back in Dublin, a city where the Church has been brought to its knees in recent years, and yet I have just returned from my parish church where the Spirit was very much in evi- dence. Together with the rest

of the

congregation, I approached the altar and I put out my hand. Happily, I am once more in Communion with my Church. Emer Ryan Dublin

Care of the elderly Terry Philpot (“Uncaring capitalism”, 11 June) may have underestimated the finan- cial problems of

care homes in the

not-for-profit sector. Even those which are debt- and rent-free may now have difficulty in breaking even, if they lack 85 per cent occu- pancy, have under 50 beds and were not purpose-built. They may have to charge high fees which can negate their original char- itable purpose. Recent rises in heating and employment costs have not helped. Their increased use for the seriously unwell often in the last few months of life causes extra expense. It is the sector as a whole, not just the profit-driven likes of Southern Cross, that requires urgent reappraisal. Guy Neely Chislehurst, Kent

Care of Catholic prisoners I write as the director in the National Offender Management Service (Noms) in whose directorate chaplaincy sits, in response to the report about the resignation of the principal Catholic chaplain (News

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from Britain and Ireland, 11 June). Noms ensures that probation and prison services are delivered fairly and decently. The Prison Service has in its care currently some 85,000 men, women and young people, for whom it seeks to provide a decent, chal- lenging and constructive regime. Chaplaincy in prison is to ensure that the faith and reli- gious needs of prisoners are met and that chaplains are able to contribute to the pas- toral needs of the prison population. It is as misleading as it is wrong to say there is a move to replace faith-based chaplains with “generic” or “multi-faith” chaplains. All chaplains are appointed and endorsed from their particular faith community. All pris- oners have access to a chaplain or minister from their own religion or denomination who will lead the main act of worship and pro- vide religious education and instruction. One of the strengths of prison chaplaincy – and what it can offer to prison and the wider community – is that different faiths come together to work for the common good without compromising their own beliefs, or faith tradition. There are currently approx- imately 170 Catholic chaplains – full-time, part-time and sessional – providing excel- lent support to Catholic prisoners, and to others. We are fully committed to enabling prisoners to practise their religion and seek to ensure, as far as is reasonable and practical, that there should be equity and fairness across the traditions. The former principal Catholic chaplain chose to apply, successfully, for a voluntary early departure scheme in order to take up the role of Catholic Bishops Prisons Adviser with the Church. Noms remains committed to working in partnership with the Catholic Church to ensure appropriate provision for Catholic prisoners. Ian Poree

Director of Commissioning and Commercial, Noms

Schools for working children I am concerned to read (News from Britain and Ireland, 28 May) of plans to introduce Jesuit Cristo Rey schools to Britain. These are schools founded in pioneer regions where there is no community infrastructure (therefore no public finance for education). They are born out of need. Has Britain become needy? The essential question in a British (European) con- text is: Does the workplace experience gained by these children contribute to academic achievement? Is it essential to the formation of the child (and if so, why have we overlooked this element to date in other schools)? I suspect that the motivation may be the unburdening of the public purse. I hear the Earl of Shaftesbury rotating already from afar. John-Paul Holmes Munich, Germany

The living Spirit To you, Almighty Father,

Creator of the universe and of mankind, through Christ, the Living One, Lord of time and history, in the Spirit who makes all things holy, be praise and honour and glory now and for ever. Amen! Pope John Paul II

Celebration of the Great Jubilee 2000

Is it not the essential characteristic of Christian baptism to appear as a baptism in the Spirit, since faith in the Father and in the Son cannot be professed otherwise than in the same Spirit? So it was that bap- tism in the name of Jesus gradually became baptism “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”, a formula which expresses how the life and work of Jesus are ultimately the work and the life of the Father and the Spirit. Glenstal Bible Missal (Collins, 1983)

Consider Our Lord himself. In that won- derful discourse after the Last Supper, when he reveals to those he calls his “friends” the secrets of the eternal life he brings them, he speaks of the Holy Spirit almost as often as he does of his Father. He tells them that this Spirit will take his place amongst them when he shall have ascended into heaven; that this Spirit will be for them the master of their inner life, a master so necessary that Jesus himself prays to his Father that this Spirit may be given to them and may abide in them. Bd Columba Marmion OSB Christ the Life of the Soul (Sands, 1928)

Father, you enfold us with wings of love, as a bird protects her young.

In our sin we have spurned your love. Lord have mercy. Jesus, you gather us around you that we may learn your ways.

In our sin we have strayed from your presence.

Christ have mercy. Holy Spirit, you feed us with the seed of your holy word.

In our sins we have chosen the chaff. Lord have mercy.

John Townend

The Book of a Thousand Prayers Compiled by Angela Ashwin (Marshall Pickering, 1966)

18 June 2011 | THE TABLET | 19

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