Archives of Fr Martin Plunkett Writes….

PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED ARTICLES

SUNDAY 22ND NOVEMBER 2020

OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, KING OF THE UNIVERSE

Dear Parishioners,

 

“Come you whom my Father has blessed. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you…”

 

This Sunday we celebrate the feast that concludes and gathers together all the celebrations of this last liturgical year. All that we have passed through in this extraordinary year is now brought to Jesus Christ, our Universal King. If we remember as far back as last Advent, we began preparing to welcome once again the King of Kings into our midst as our Saviour and Redeemer. Little did we know of all that this year would hold in store! We have been rocked to the core and challenged to hold our nerve in so many ways. Quite possibly we may feel that we have not been able to do that and that fear and anxiety have at times been insurmountable. These times continue to challenge us and our future remains uncertain in so many ways. Yet as Christians we have been introduced to the majestic and glorious figure of Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and forever. Like all our ancestors in the faith we are called to traverse the terrain of our existence in this world with our eyes fixed on him and in faith and trust in his almighty sovereignty. Soon we will begin to prepare once again for the feast of the Incarnation of Jesus at Christmas. This will rejuvenate us in our faith and hope and strengthen our belief in God’s limitless love. Before then, let us rejoice this Sunday in celebrating the Lordship of Jesus in our lives and in our world. Especially during times of adversity and struggle, we are called as God’s innocent children to give our lives in love and service of the Gospel and to Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.

 

To Jesus Christ, the Universal King

O Jesus Christ, we acknowledge you as universal King. All that has been made has been created for You. Exercise all Your rights over us. We renew our Baptismal Vows. We renounce Satan, his pomps and his works; we promise to live as a good Christians. And, in particular we pledge ourselves to labour, to the best of our ability, for the triumph of the rights of God and of Your Church. Divine Heart of Jesus, to You we offer our poor services, labouring that all hearts may acknowledge Your sacred kingship, and that thus the reign of Your peace be established throughout the whole universe. Amen.

God bless you, Fr Martin

 

 

15TH NOVEMBER 2020

33rd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Dear Parishioners,

 

“Well done my good and faithful servant.”

 

Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta famously said “God doesn’t necessarily ask us to do extraordinary things but to do ordinary things with extraordinary love!” At present we are all faced with such large events playing out on the world’s stage and we could easily feel powerless in the face of them. We may feel frustrated at the current situation in our society which has brought such radical changes and restrictions. We may be tempted to fear the implications and results of these changes in the future at all levels of society; social, economic and religious. However, we find something very interesting when we look at our Lord’s life as he sowed the seeds of the universal Catholic Christian faith among us 2000 years ago. Apart from a few large gatherings Jesus largely worked very personally with people; we would say these days – one to one. Jesus didn’t publish books, write to influential world leaders or travel extensively outside his own region. Not that these pursuits are not valuable or fruitful in human life in themselves, but Jesus didn’t do any of them. What he did was use the gifts that were at his disposal as the Son of God in the very ordinary circumstances of his encounters with people every day. In this week’s Gospel Jesus tells a parable about three people using their talents in different ways. To the two men who wisely did what was within their power with the talents they received their master said “Well done my good and faithful servant”. The man who buried his talent was not given such an encouraging response. Christianity is a religion of love and so it is always lived out in the ordinary opportunities God gives us to love him and our neighbour every day. This does not preclude large initiatives and a global vision in what we might do, but it sees the value in humbly bringing the Gospel into our everyday lives. Each of us has been given the gift of life and the gift of our own personal individuality to be ‘Jesus’ and to see ‘Jesus’ among those God places us with. Let us pray for one another in these challenging times that we will find our peace and fulfilment in being God’s ‘good and faithful servants’, trusting in his almighty love and power.

 

God bless you, Fr Martin

 

8TH NOVEMBER 2020

+32nd Sunday in Ordinary time

Dear Parishioners,

 

“Behold, the Bridegroom is coming! Come out to meet him.”

 

We are all very aware that our nation is once again passing through a time of more restricted regulations. This means that from this time we have had to suspend acts of public worship in the Church for the immediate future. Our hope and prayer is that this will provide the necessary means from which to re-establish the life of freedom and peace that we were made for. This will also mean a time of sacrifice in many areas of our lives including not being able to participate in the life of the parish and most essentially the most powerful prayer of the Holy Mass. In our Christian tradition, sacrifice has a very privileged and significant place because it is united to the sacrifice in love made by Jesus on the Cross. Jesus is ‘the Bridegroom’ mentioned in this Sunday’s Gospel who comes to espouse God’s people through his Bride, the Church. In the parable Jesus tells there are ten bridesmaids, of whom five prudently conserve enough oil in their lamps as they wait for the Bridegroom’s arrival. We are encouraged to have the same spiritual wisdom as the ‘wise virgins’ and to conserve the ‘oil’ of our loving trust in the almighty plan of God and in the promises of the Gospel. In this time, when we will not be able to worship together, it is especially important therefore to pay close attention to our spiritual lives and make sure that we cultivate hearts of hope so that the light of faith is not extinguished in the ‘lamp’ of our soul. We do this by choosing to put the commandments of Jesus first in our lives. These commandments call us to love God, no matter what, and to love our neighbour as Christ has loved us. In this month of November we can feel especially close to all our loved ones who have walked this path before us and have passed over into eternity. We can also feel the responsibility of praying for the ‘Holy Souls’, those who still pass through the purifying domain of Purgatory, as they await their longed-for encounter with God in heaven. Let us also keep one another in prayer, especially those who will be suffering in particular ways due to the current situation.

 

God bless you, Fr Martin

+ALL SAINTS 

SUNDAY 1ST NOVEMBER 2020

 

Dear Parishioners,

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, theirs is the kingdom of heaven”

This month begins with the feast of All Saints closely followed by All Souls. These two feasts remind us of the reality of heaven as the final goal of our Christian life. In All Saints we recall the courageous witness of ordinary men and women throughout the centuries who have responded generously to God’s call. They are an example and encouragement for us to do the same. They are also a great support for us because their prayers help us to choose the same path as them so that we too can find our way to heaven to be with them. We may think that this path is beyond us but this Sunday’s Gospel reminds us that Jesus leads the way to heaven for those who are willing to be ‘poor in spirit’. This means those who are willing to be humble and to walk the way of self-sacrificing love. This is the way of Jesus himself and it leads us into the mysterious love revealed on the Cross. The Cross teaches us that we do not get to heaven principally by our own deeds and efforts but by the merciful love of God. However, the more we embrace the mystery of God’s immense love for us, the more we desire to live according to his will which means expressing our love for him and our neighbour in our lives. In so many ways this is what we see in the lives of the saints. As well as celebrating All Saints this Sunday, the feast of All Souls on Monday calls us to recognise the value of our prayers on behalf of the departed. On All Souls and throughout November we will pray for our loved ones and for those souls who are still in need of grace to reach the home that Jesus has prepared for them in heaven. Let us be encouraged by remembering All Saints and All Souls this month that whatever the circumstances and challenges we have to pass through in our lives, all things can help us to desire to become saints and to share the life of heaven with Jesus and Our Lady and all the Saints and Angels forever in eternity.

God bless you, Fr Martin

 

+30th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

25TH OCTOBER 2020

 

Dear Parishioners,

 

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart… love your neighbour as yourself”

 

The Gospel this Sunday takes us to the very heart of our Christian way of life and the way that we can live it. Jesus tells us that the two most important things we will ever do are loving God and loving one another. In the New Testament the most profound but simple understanding of God that we receive is that he is love. This is an eternal and infinite mystery but one which Jesus has made possible for us to know and participate in by his life among us and especially his sacrifice of himself on the Cross. God is eternally free and good and in his freedom he created us to be free to know and love him and to love one another. When we use that freedom to deny this way of living, loving God and our neighbour, then it creates division and suffering. This is what we call ‘sin’ and it leads to spiritual death. To cure us of this ailment and restore us again into our true dignity, as beloved children of God, Jesus is tirelessly at work in our world. Through the Church, the Sacraments, through the Word of God and the Holy Spirit we can come to know this new life which is made possible for us through the Gospel. In these challenging times when fear and anxiety seem to be lurking in all corners of our existence, it is more important than ever to see the solution that God is offering us. We are a people called not to live in fear but to live in love and to trust wholeheartedly in the immense and infinite love of God for us. May our dedication to our Christian way of life be strengthened in these times as we endeavour together to live the commandments given to us by our beloved Saviour, Jesus Christ.

 

God bless you, Fr Martin

18TH OCTOBER 2020,
+29TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Dear Parishioners
“Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God”
From the earliest days of the Church there was a need to recognise the different
authorities present in the Church and in the State. Christians have always been
encouraged to see themselves as full members of society and to therefore be fully
subject to just laws. Christianity is not a ‘revolutionary’ religion in the political
sense. However, we know even from the patron of our own parish, St Thomas
More, that there come times when the authority of the Church, which directly
expresses the authority of God, comes into conflict with that of the state. This is
when martyrdom appears because courageous souls cannot abide by a culture or
by laws that are contrary to Christian belief. In this week’s Gospel reading Jesus
does not fall into the trap set by the Pharisees to condemn the civic laws of the
time, even if they were punitive or excessive, but uses their question to reveal a
deeper meaning to life: Give to God what belongs to God. Our faith teaches us
that this whole world is a gift from the Creator and is best lived in when we allow
him the ultimate authority. At this time we feel the imposition of many rules and
regulations due to the government restrictions regarding Covid 19. It is right that
we should abide by these directives with a sense of a social duty of care. What is
always going to be more important however is that we do not allow this to take
away our complete confidence and trust in the almighty power and love of God.
The Gospel teaches us that when we take up our cross, with our Saviour, then we
are walking by faith that God will bless us and guide us in his providential care.
God bless you,
Fr Martin

+28th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

11TH OCTOBER 2020

Dear Parishioners,

“Everything is ready. Come to the wedding!”

 

The famous writer GK Chesterton insightfully once wrote ‘Those who don’t believe in something will believe in anything!’ In times of difficulty, uncertainty and anxiety it is precisely our faith which gives us a firm foundation on which to stand and to choose what we will believe.  Faith is the light which we receive in Baptism, symbolised by our baptismal candle, which illumines our way as we follow the light of Christ through life. In the present days there is a pressing need to walk with the light of faith which pushes back the darkness of fear and uncertainty. Whilst we must of course seek to be prudent in these times, regarding the appropriate safety measures that have been advised, we can do this encouraged by the unshakeable promises of our faith. The Gospel reveals to us that God looks after us with infinite tenderness and love and through the Cross his divine will works to bring good out of all things. Our confidence in this message tells us what we can believe about our safety and welfare at these times. In the parable of Jesus in this Sunday’s Gospel, a king sends out invitations to the wedding of his son. Many people who are invited refuse, believing that other matters are of more importance. Undeterred, the king further extends the invitation inviting others who would have been considered unworthy of such an honour. Each one of us is invited by God, the true king, to the wedding feast of his Son, Jesus. We are not called because we are worthy, but because of God’s great love for us. Our response is to believe in that love and to offer our own love in return and to share this love with our neighbour. Let us pray at this time to be strengthened in our belief that our lives are eternally in the loving care of our Creator.

 

God bless you, Fr Martin

 

+27th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

4TH OCTOBER 2020

Dear Parishioners,

“They will respect my son”

 

A helpful piece of life advice is – the main thing is to make the main thing the main thing! We can often feel pulled in so many directions but it helps a great deal to ask ourselves ‘What is the main thing in my life?’ From this we can then approach everything else with a sense of our priorities and be strengthened by feeling secure in what is most important. For Christians the main thing in fact not a thing but a person: Jesus. In the current experience we are going through of the difficulties and uncertainties associated with the restrictions and sufferings in the pandemic, we can find balance and perspective in letting Jesus be the ‘main thing’ in our lives. Christians have always had to be in the world but not of the world. This means that we live in a world in which we are part and we contribute to and are affected by all that happens here. However, we also live as citizens of heaven and followers of Jesus and so we have access to a different view of life’s events. In this Sunday’s Gospel Jesus tells a parable about the workers in a vineyard who sought to seize the property for themselves. In an effort to be reconciled with them the vineyard’s owner sent his son to them saying “They will respect my son.” However the son was rejected and killed. God the Father has sent his son into our world to bring us merciful love and help in all our needs through our prayer and through the Church. We can pray for the grace to respect his Son so that he can become the main thing in our lives. Let us pray to be able to support one another in our Christian way of life as a parish and find strength from God to help us trust in his almighty love at this time.

 

Sunday 20TH SEPTEMBER  2020,

+25th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Dear Parishioners

“The last will be first and the first will be last” Matthew 20:16

There is an account recorded about some missionaries who arrived in Japan a few centuries ago and expected to only find people who had never heard the Gospel message. In fact they did encounter a group of faithful Christians who had inherited the faith through the previous generations who received it from missionaries many years before. These people had been without priests, without the sacraments, without Church buildings for their whole lives and yet they had stayed faithful. Significantly it seemed that a particular love for Our Lady had been an important feature. When the new missionaries arrived, the question they were asked is “Did you bring the Lady?” At first the priests wondered what was meant by this until they produced a statue of Mary from their luggage and the locals recognised her. Love for Mary had helped these people without support to keep their Christian belief and remain faithful. In our own days many people are living without the direct support of the Church, contact with priests and the sacraments.  In these times it is perhaps especially important to consider how we are keeping and practicing our faith. It is not clear exactly when everyone will feel safe to return to mass and gathering as a parish community. Finding ways of preserving our faith, praying at home, maybe with a statue of ‘the Lady’, could all be very important at this time to remind us that God is with us and will sustain us until we can gather again in greater numbers. In this week’s Gospel Jesus says that the workers in the vineyard were welcome, even those who came later. The important message is that even though they came later, they did come eventually. Let us pray that we will all be able to come to the vineyard of the Church as soon as is possible and remain close to God in the meantime.

God bless you,

Fr Martin

 

Sunday 13TH SEPTEMBER  2020,

+24th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Dear Parishioners,

“Forgive your brother from your heart” (Matthew 18:35)

Perhaps because we have heard it many times we forget or fail to see the real impact of the Christian teaching on forgiveness. In this week’s Gospel Peter asks how many times he should forgive and Jesus tells him “Not seven times, but seventy-seven times”. Jesus refuses to put limits on the importance of forgiveness. In the parable that follows Jesus tells us about a debtor who is forgiven his immense debt but who then fails to forgive the smaller debt of someone else owing him money. The teaching is that, if we are not willing to put real forgiveness into practice we are showing that we have learned little about God’s forgiveness for us. It can be hard to forgive of course. The greater the wound the harder it is to forgive. This perhaps makes us feel justified in saying “Oh no! I could never forgive that!” But any area that we are not willing to let God’s merciful love come into our minds and hearts is an area that will drag us down and also hurt others. None of us have received the offense that the Son of God receives by being rejected by humanity and crucified and yet Jesus willingly forgave in order that we could become children of God through the Holy Spirit by baptism and the pardoning of our sins. In the Our Father we pray ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.’ It is a defining characteristic, we could say, of the Christian life that we are generous with others what we have received from God. Let us pray to be missionaries of merciful love in our lives in gratitude for all that we will ever receive through our loving Saviour, Jesus Christ

God bless you, Fr Martin

 

SUNDAY 6TH SEPTEMBER 2020

+23RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

 

Dear Parishioners,

 

“Where two or three are gathered, I am in their midst” (Matthew 18:20)

 

Jesus is always with us, whether we are at home, work, school or church. It seems particularly important that we realise he is especially with us where there is love. At this time, we have been prevented from going to church and to gather in all sorts of ways but of course Jesus has still been with us in our time of need. Our parish church has been now open since July although we are still having to worship with certain restrictions in place. Whether we feel comfortable returning now or we are still waiting for a more secure time let us remember that we are not alone. Jesus came to establish a kingdom of love amongst us and whenever we choose to love we are part of that kingdom. Perhaps during this time, we have been able to appreciate more the things that really matter in our lives. In the history of our faith we see from our ancestors that it was often at times of difficulty that they were most aware of their need for God’s help. Let us not forget to pray and to continue to ask God to help us and our world in this current situation of the pandemic. September is a time of new beginnings so let us hope for a new beginning in faith to restore again the features of our daily life which bring us together and show us that Jesus is amongst us.

 

God bless you, Fr Martin

Sunday 19th July 2020

+16th Sunday in Ordinary time

Dear Parishioners,

 

It was very encouraging to have been able to celebrate the first Sunday masses in the parish this weekend since the lockdown began in March. Of course we are going forth carefully as a society aware that the situation must be monitored for any setbacks. Let us continue to pray to God asking for his healing and protection for our world and our society at this time. Of course there is still no Sunday obligation and many people will rightly still be very cautious about what steps they take personally regarding resuming familiar practices. That being said the Church is following all the necessary guidelines regarding sterilisation and social distancing to ensure the best situation possible under the circumstances. Whether we are at home or at church let us stay united in prayer at this time. The month of July is traditionally devoted to the remembrance of the Precious Blood of Jesus poured out for us at Calvary and in every Holy Mass. It is in this inestimable gift of God’s mercy that we put our trust as the children of God. Let us ask that by this same gift our world could receive the healing love of Christ in our particular need at this time. Below are a few words which explain the devotion:

 

Like the Sacred Wounds of Jesus, His Precious Blood deserves special honour because of its close relation to the Sacred Passion. That honour was given to it from the beginning by the Apostles who praised its redeeming power: “we are justified by His blood” (Rom. 5:9); “and so Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people by His blood, suffered outside the gate”(Heb. 13:12); “and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.”(1 John 1:7)  The Church has always held devotion to the Precious Blood in high esteem, since It is the Price of our salvation! Without the shedding of the Blood of the Lamb of God, we could not be redeemed. Without His cleansing and vivifying Blood coursing through the Church, there would be no Mystical Body of Christ. Without His glorious Blood, the Sacraments would have no effect. Without His redeeming Blood, Mary would never have been conceived without sin, and there would be no saints whatsoever, for “they have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb”(Rev 22:14).

The Precious Blood has been given to us as the Treasure of the Church which we may offer again and again for ourselves and for others. What can we call more our own in Christ’s Sacred Body than His Blood, which He let fall to this earth from the Cross as the priceless endowment of our souls? And yet how few are those who know how to profit by it. Happy the soul who has found this treasure, the Precious Blood of Jesus, and who makes use of It. To offer the Precious Blood of Jesus let us take It wherever we are, in all we suffer, in all we do, in all we feel of good or of evil, to sanctify the one and repair the other. The offering of the Precious Blood of Christ for the Holy Souls is a mighty form of intercession on their behalf. (whitelilyoftrinity.com)

“The infinite love of the Saviour is announced in His Name, is symbolized in His heart, and is made eloquent in His Blood.” – St Pope John XXIII

 

God bless you, Fr Martin

Sunday 12th July 2020

15th Sunday in Ordinary time

Dear Parishioners,

This will be the first Sunday when there will be public mass offered in our parish for four months. The Sunday obligation to attend Holy Mass has still not returned of course so there is no necessity in that regard to come. It is also a tense time as we really don’t know the long term affects as a society of what we are going through. So people will be very justified in not yet seeking to return to the public practice of their faith. As a parish and a Diocese we are trying to be as vigilant as possible to ensure that we can ensure the safety of all those who come. These are unique times we are living through and we are only finding out as we go along what the implications are, week by week. So far it seems response for the Sunday masses has been quite modest so there does not appear to be a need for anyone to stay away from Sunday mass if they would like to come – there are still spaces available. If numbers remain modest we may suspend the booking system, or we may reduce the number of masses on Sunday. Of course if there are changes at the wider level in society and some kind of restrictions appear necessary again the Church will respond to these. Please follow the newsletter for updates.

What is important, whether we are practicing our faith publicly or not at this stage, is that we are still practicing it. In this week’s Gospel Jesus tells the parable of the Sower going out to sow. We are given the image from nature of the need for fruitful ground needed for the abundant crop to grow. The ground that God looks for is in our heart and our receptive willingness to open up to the mysteries of our faith. God has a plan for each of our lives which is unique. No one else can do what we can do in this world. This means that God puts it into our own hands to be open to the beautiful plan he has for our lives, to discover how to fulfillingly use the gifts we have been given and to benefit the rest of humanity in our lives. Each of us has a ‘personal vocation’ which it should be an adventure to discover and which gives us pleasure and delight, while also helping others around us. This is the vision of Christianity. This is what Jesus came to make available again to us because it is the damaging effects of sin and evil which seek to destroy our lives in this way so that rather than living the ‘Sacred Story’ of our lives we end up living an ‘anti-story’. This would mean living a life which isn’t really our own. The gift of the life of Jesus on the Cross for us which defeats sin and evil and the gift of the Holy Spirit who brings us into a new life is what helps us to rediscover that ‘Sacred Story’.

The Christian faith has always admonished believers to ‘be in the world, but not of the world’. As Christians we have a duty and responsibility to contribute to the welfare of the world but at the same time to discern where the influence of the world and the messages it promotes may not be helping us. To do this we are helped greatly by cultivating our relationship with God and doing all we can to grow closer to him. The main way this has always been practised is through our personal prayer. It becomes quite important for us in this time when our contact with the parish family is reduced that we feel encouraged to spend time with God in our personal lives and become aware of his presence. Each of us is given the gift of the Holy Spirit in our Baptism and since then we can really say that the Holy Spirit lives within us, in our souls. We can therefore spend time becoming aware of the presence of God’s Holy Spirit inside of us and ask for the grace to be like the ‘good soil’ in the parable of Jesus, so that the seed of God’s love will grow ever stronger in our lives. We can also pray for our world at this time and intercede for all our brothers and sisters, especially those who most need God’s help and those who are unaware of his existence.

Let us continue in faith and trust placing everything in the hands of our loving Creator.

God bless you, Fr Martin

 

Sunday 5th July 2020

14th Sunday in Ordinary time

Dear Parishioners,

This week’s Pastor’s Corner has some helpful explanations regarding our response to current demands for practising our faith our parish at this time. Please do read the following carefully and contact the parish if anything is unclear.

As you will see from this week’s newsletter that we have amended the plans announced last week and will be resuming the practice of public Holy Mass from Monday 6th July and not this weekend as was previously thought. So the first ‘Sunday’ mass will be the vigil mass on Saturday 11th July. This has been to allow time for the online booking system we are using for Sunday masses to become familiar to us all. I do encourage you to look over the instructions given in this week’s newsletter to see how to secure places at one of the Sunday masses. More information will be given next week regarding what to bear in mind when actually coming to mass. Please do also listen to the message sent out by e-alert earlier this week in which Cardinal Vincent talks about this moment in our Catholic practice and what to expect. As we know from society in general, we are inching our way forward cautiously and the Church’s practice is in response to this. As the Cardinal mentions there is still no obligation to come to Sunday mass, it is purely voluntary for those who wish to come, and we would do well to resist the idea that we are returning to normal. This is an interim period in which we seek to find a way to practice our faith publicly although with significant restrictions.

You will see from this week’s newsletter that the booking system for Sunday masses can be accessed via our website. If using this you will notice that when booking you are asked to register for a ‘place’. It is helpful to think of each ‘place’ as a ‘zone’ at the end of a bench which can accommodate a single individual or a couple. This allows for another ‘place’ or ‘zone’ at the other end of the bench with a suitable distance between. So when booking for a couple you need only book 1 place. Please do not therefore book a place for each person.  If booking for a family (i.e. more than 2 people) you will only need to book 2 ‘places’ or ‘zones’ which gives you the entire bench. We have divided up the church to accommodate 40 ‘places’ or ‘zones’. Please tell anyone that you know who is not using online communication that they must contact the parish directly to secure spaces. We hope to accommodate all those who want to attend mass but if we are oversubscribed at the weekend we may have to ask people to attend on alternate weekends to allow spaces for others.

In our parish the weekday masses (Monday – Saturday) are not ‘ticketed’ as it is not assumed that we will have to restrict numbers, so those who can are encouraged to think about coming during the week so that it leaves spaces free for those who can only come on Sundays or Saturday evenings. The times of masses will be different from normal during this period, this allows for our current cleaning system to remain in place and also helps us to realise that this is not resuming our normal practice but an interim measure (hopefully not too long). You will see therefore that Saturday evening mass will be at the earlier time of 6.00pm and the Sunday morning masses are at the later times of 10.00am and 12.00pm. As the Cardinal mentions the mass will be restricted in some ways – including no music and communal singing, no collection (collection plates will be at the back of the church to use when leaving) and no procession. Mass will therefore be shorter than we are used to in order to not over prolong the amount of time we all spend inside together.

The church remains open every day for prayer before the Blessed Sacrament from 10.00am to midday at this time with daily mass at 10.30am during this period. In this week’s Gospel Jesus tells us “Come to me all you who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest”. May Jesus continue to support us and all those who are in particular need at this time.

God bless you, Fr Martin

Sunday 28th June 2020

+Ss PETER & PAUL, Apostles St Peter, Prince of Apostles, 

Patron of the Diocese

Dear Parishioners, 

This week’s newsletter comes with the confirmed good news that masses will begin again in the churches from Saturday 4th July. Like the rest of the country the Diocese is still feeling its way forward as the Government’s restrictions are gradually lifted. We do not yet therefore have precise advice about how we will be able to conduct the masses but they will still have a measure of restriction applied to them for now. Please keep up to date with the parish website and e-alerts to find out more as time goes on. Please note the need to be registered in a parish will be likely to be relevant if numbers are restricted by names taken from the parish registers. See the note in this week’s newsletter about this and other issues relating to the near future. However, despite the continued difficulties and sufferings associated with this time, let us thank God that he has been and will continue to be with us throughout this time and pray that he will greatly bless this new chapter in the life of our Church.

This weekend our liturgy celebrates the feast day of two great princes of the Church, Saints Peter and Paul. In their own way, along with so many other generous souls in the Church’s history, these men are owed a great debt of gratitude from us. Both of these saints gave their lives and all their talents to help create the Church that we have inherited today. Ultimately they gave up their lives in martyrdom, the supreme sacrifice. Such an example can help us to appreciate the value of our faith and just how precious our Church is. Perhaps during this time of restriction we have discovered ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’. Maybe by not being able to practice our faith in the usual ways we have been helped to appreciate it even more. During this time of lockdown there has been an opportunity to reassess our values and to make decisions about our true priorities in life. When we see the fragility and also the beauty of our lives it allows us to grow in our awareness of the things that really matter. As we resume the practice of Holy Mass and begin to gather again as the people of God perhaps we can bring this deeper appreciation with us as a new motivation to live always more sincere and integrated lives guided by our Christian faith.

Though we call Saints Peter and Paul ‘Princes of the Church’ we should not feel any distance between their efforts to live a Christian life and our own. Alongside their exemplary fidelity to the Lord and their willingness to sacrifice themselves for him we find reassuring examples of their weaknesses and failures. St Peter was impulsive and hot-headed it seems and he was not able to back up the promises he made to Jesus regarding his support for him. When it came to it he deserted Jesus and denied ever knowing him; and this man was chosen by God to be the first leader of the Church and the first ‘Pope’. St Paul was clearly a very intelligent and gifted speaker and writer and generously gave all he had to follow God’s will to establish the Christian faith in the ancient world. However, we find examples in his writing where we see that he was very acquainted with personal weakness and his own capacity to fail and get things wrong. Rather than make him discouraged he allowed this to lead him into a deeper trust – not in his own strength – but in the strength and love of God. This is why he was able to state with bold confidence the paradoxical statement “When I am weak, then I am strong”! (2Cor 12:10) 

What Peter and Paul can help us to discover today is a deep sense of gratitude for the revelation of love which comes to us through our Christian faith. At the core of this both men had to engage with the mystery of Jesus Christ, who gave his life as a ransom for them and all people. They weren’t born saints, far from it, but they show us that to become saints we have to become captivated with love for a God who loves us so much that he would give his Son to save us and to win for us the prize of eternal life. As we prepare once again to sacramentally engage with the same faith for which Peter and Paul gave their lives, may we too pray to be captivated with the same spirit that we might reach our destiny to become saints and to live the lives that God desires for us to live in this world. 

God bless you, Fr Martin

Sunday 21st  June 2020

12th Sunday in Ordinary time

Dear Parishioners,

 

This weekend we would have been celebrating the feast day our patron St Thomas More with a parish fair. Unfortunately this will not be possible this year due to the restrictions. However, it is still a good time to be reminded of the blessing we receive by having such an eminent saint as our parish’s patron. To help us appreciate St Thomas’ faith and integrity, here are a few of the most pertinent facts about him: The feast day of St Thomas More (1478 – 1535) is on June 22. He is the patron of adopted children, lawyers, civil servants, politicians, and difficult marriages. He was canonised on May 19th, 1935 by Pope Pius XI. This is the year our own parish was established and therefore placed under his patronage. Thomas More was a lawyer by training and became Lord Chancellor in 1529, making him the most senior political advisor in the country. However, in 1530, as King Henry VIII worked to obtain a sacramental annulment from his wife, Catherine, Thomas refused to sign a supporting letter to the Pope. The relationship between Thomas and the king became strained when it became clear to all that Henry was then prepared to break away from the Church in Rome, something Thomas knew he could not condone. In 1532, faced with the prospect of being compelled to actively support Henry’s break with the Church, Thomas offered his resignation.

 

In 1533, Thomas refused to attend the coronation of Henry’s new wife Anne Boylen, who was now the Queen of England. The king viewed this absence as an insult to his new queen and an undermining of his authority as head of the church and state. Henry then had charges brought against St Thomas and he was accused of accepting bribes and of conspiracy but there was no evidence that could be obtained or manufactured. Finally on April 13, 1534, More was ordered to take an oath, acknowledging the legitimacy of Anne’s position as queen, of Henry’s self-granted annulment from Catherine, and the superior position of the King as head of the church. More accepted Henry’s marriage to Anne, but refused to acknowledge Henry as head of the church, or his annulment from Catherine. This led to his arrest and imprisonment. He was locked away in the Tower of London. St Thomas faced trial on July 1, 1535 and was convicted by a court in fifteen minutes and condemned to be executed. Thomas ascended the scaffold on July 6, making a final statement, famously proclaiming that he was “the king’s good servant, but God’s first.”  (Adapted from Catholiconline.org)

 

As our country faces the trials and strains of this challenging and uncertain time, we can appeal to St Thomas More to help guide our government and policy makers with wisdom and prudence. If he were among us today serving in office St Thomas would surely tell us that responsible government and just laws are essential components for the health of society. He would also surely want us to have the same confidence and trust in God which he showed in his dedicated and courageous life. He would perhaps tell us that what is more important is a personal commitment to one’s own conscience and the courage to act with integrity even if persecuted by forces around us. This tension remains central for the followers of Christ in every age. In our own time we too are called to remain faithful to the truth revealed in the Gospel and the Church even if it should seem out of favour with public opinion. Christianity is not essentially a political religion, it is a revelation of the extraordinary message of God’s saving love for humanity. Our society and culture, politics and law, are all best used to glorify God and to help God’s people when they are lived with this awareness.

 

O Lord, give us a mind that is humble, quiet, peaceable, patient and charitable, and a taste of your Holy Spirit

in all our thoughts, words and deeds. O Lord, give us a lively faith, a firm hope, a fervent charity, a love of You. Take from us all lukewarmness in meditation and all dullness in prayer. Give us fervour and delight in thinking of You, your grace, and your tender compassion toward us. Give us, good Lord, the grace to work for the things we pray for. Amen (prayer of St Thomas More)

Happy Feast Day and God bless you, Fr Martin

 

Sunday 14th June 2020

The Most Holy Body & Blood of Christ

Dear Parishioners,

This week’s newsletter comes with the good news that the churches will begin to reopen now. At first it will be for personal visits only but it is a first step towards hopefully resuming normal services in the near future. Restrictions will of course still be in place for now to allow for ‘social distancing’ but all are welcome to come to the church and to pray. It is hoped that with enough support the Blessed Sacrament can be exposed for private prayer. Even though the normal practice of receiving Our Lord in Holy Communion has been suspended these months his presence has still been with us. The priests have continued to celebrate mass and to pray for the faithful. Hopefully each of us have found ways of remaining intimately united with the mystery of God’s presence in these challenging times.

This Sunday we are especially reminded of the abiding presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament as we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Our Lord. Jesus tells us in the Gospel “I am the living bread which has come down from heaven” (Jn 6:51). Just as we rely on God’s provision of our ‘daily bread’ of physical nourishment to keep us alive, so more essentially we are to rely on the ‘daily bread’ of the presence of Jesus to spiritually feed us. Jesus feeds us with his love and his mercy to guide us through this life. From Jesus we receive real nourishment through grace and the Holy Spirit, which brings alive the mysterious dimension of living by faith. This involves a life which is truly our own and yet lived in trust in God’s providence and help. We must do all we can to live the best life possible and at the same time rely totally on God, believing in his power and love. Perhaps St Ignatius of Loyola best summed it up when he said ‘Act as if it all depends on you and pray as if it all depends on God!

May this week’s feast encourage to turn always to God and to see in Jesus the great gift of God’s love to help us through this life as our ‘living bread’ and to help us reach our eternal home in heaven. Below are the beautiful words of the ancient prayer, the Anima Christi. These words remind us that in the gift of Christ’s Body and Blood which we receive through his sacrifice on Calvary and through his Holy Spirit we receive all that is spiritually necessary for us in every need.

ANIMA CHRISTI

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.

Body of Christ, save me.

Blood of Christ, inebriate me.

Water from the side of Christ, wash me.

Passion of Christ, strengthen me.

O Good Jesus, hear me.

Within Thy wounds hide me.

Suffer me not to be separated from thee.

From the malignant enemy defend me.

In the hour of my death call me.

And bid me come unto Thee,

That with all Thy saints, I may praise thee,

Forever and ever.

Amen

God bless you, Fr Martin

 

Sunday 7th June 2020

The Most Holy Trinity

 

Dear Parishioners,

We may wonder why immediately following the end of Eastertide and the culminating feast of Pentecost we have another feast this Sunday; that of the Most Holy Trinity. Well it is precisely because the full revelation of our faith is completed by the coming of the Holy Spirit that we can now have this feast. From the beginning Israel had some sense that God was a Father, but only in Jesus is this made fully clear. Through Jesus we also come to know the Son of God in the ‘Word made flesh’ (Jn 1:14). From Pentecost the revelation is completed as the early believers encounter the third person of the Blessed Trinity in the Holy Spirit.

 

This divine revelation is really at the centre of our belief. To know that God is one God in three persons may seem a mysterious doctrine to navigate, but it tells us that the very nature of God is love (1Jn 4:8). We know that we are not made to live alone. For many these last weeks have been such a challenge because of the struggle with isolation. This is because we are made for communion, for community, for love. We encounter this in our families, our relationships, our normal social interaction and in every facet of our lives. This all ultimately comes from the Blessed Trinity. In some sense we could say that the Holy Trinity is the original family at the heart of all existence.

 

For us as Christians this means we are called to share the life of the Trinity through the redemption and new life that Jesus has won for us. We do this by seeking to know the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in our daily lives. We are helped to do this by our prayer, by our lives in the Church with the Sacraments and by our willingness to do good and to love our neighbour. We have all been tested in these recent times and had to dig deeper into the resources of our faith. However, God has remained the same and his love for us hasn’t changed. He has been helping us and our world during this time of crisis. It is in this promise that we continue to desire to know him; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

 

This prayer below was written by St Elizabeth of the Trinity. She was a Carmelite nun born in 1880 in France. Though she lived for only 26 years she understood the mystery of the Holy Trinity in deep and mystical ways. Her beautiful words can help us to be inspired to know the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in our own lives.

 

Prayer to the Blessed Trinity

 

O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me to forget myself entirely that I may be established in You as still and as peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity.  May nothing trouble my peace or make me leave You, O my Unchanging One, but may each minute carry me further into the depths of Your Mystery.  Give peace to my soul; make it Your heaven, Your beloved dwelling and Your resting place.  May I never leave You there alone but be wholly present, my faith wholly vigilant, wholly adoring, and wholly surrendered to Your creative Action.

 

O my beloved Christ, crucified by love, I wish to be a bride for Your Heart; I wish to cover You with glory; I wish to love You… even unto death!  But I feel my weakness, and I ask You to clothe me with Yourself, to identify my soul with all the movements of Your Soul, to overwhelm me, to possess me, to substitute Yourself for me that my life may be but a radiance of Your Life.  Come into me as Adorer, as Restorer, as Saviour.  O Eternal Word, Word of my God, I want to spend my life in listening to You, to become wholly teachable that I may learn all from You.  Then, through all nights, all voids, all helplessness, I want to gaze on You always and remain in Your great light.  O my beloved Star, so fascinate me that I may not withdraw from Your radiance.

 

O consuming Fire, Spirit of Love, come upon me, and create in my soul a kind of incarnation of the Word: that I may be another humanity for Him in which He can renew His whole Mystery.  And You, O Father, bend lovingly over Your poor little creature; cover her with Your shadow, seeing in her only the Beloved in whom You are well pleased. O my Three, my All, my Beatitude, infinite Solitude, Immensity in which I lose myself, I surrender myself to You as Your prey.  Bury Yourself in me that I may bury myself in You until I depart to contemplate in Your light the abyss of Your greatness. AMEN.

 

God bless you, Fr Martin

Pentecost Sunday 31st May 2020

Dear Parishioners,

These words below are taken from the sequence given in the Mass for the feast of Pentecost which we celebrate this week:

Holy Spirit, Lord of Light,

From the clear celestial height,

Thy pure beaming radiance give.

Come, thou Father of the poor,

Come, with treasures which endure;

Come, thou Light of all that live!

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;

On our dryness pour thy dew,

Wash the stains of guilt away.

Bend the stubborn heart and will;

Melt the frozen, warm the chill;

Guide the steps that go astray.

Thou, on us who evermore

Thee confess and thee adore,

With thy sevenfold gifts descend.

Give us comfort when we die;

Give us life with thee on high;

Give us joys that never end. Amen. Alleluia.

Today’s feast is sometimes called the ‘Birthday of the Church’. Because even though Jesus had spent 3 years forming his Apostles and Disciples and had revealed God’s love and mercy for the world so definitively by his death and Resurrection, it needed the gift of the Holy Spirit to bring the Church to life. It is therefore principally through the life of the Spirit that the Church has grown and continued throughout the centuries and become what we have inherited today. This should tell us that we too need to be living the life of the Spirit to continue in the same way as our ancestors in the Faith. Through the Holy Spirit, whom we receive through our prayer, through the Sacraments, through the Word of God and through each other, we can come to live the friendship with Jesus that God desires and come to know God as our loving Father.

The words above which are ascribed to Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury (+ 1228) tell us of the ancient love that Catholics have had for the Holy Spirit. It is through the Holy Spirit that we can receive the light of God into the darkness of our lives: lives that struggle under the burden of sin, discouragement, suffering and infirmity. This light is the light of God’s grace which brings relief through mercy and allows us to walk into a new life in communion with God. The Holy Spirit is the one who heals our wounds and renews our strength. Jesus came to heal suffering humanity and offers us a new kind of strength lived out in lives of love, loving one another as he loved us and loving God as Jesus taught us. This same Holy Spirit also brings us the sevenfold gifts:  Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord. These gifts help us to walk the path of sanctity and to become saints with the help of God’s grace. May this feast help us to trust in God especially at this time, that through his help and through his Holy Spirit, he would bring his healing love into our lives and into our world.

God bless you, Fr Martin

 

Pentecost Sunday 31st May 2020

Dear Parishioners,

These words below are taken from the sequence given in the Mass for the feast of Pentecost which we celebrate this week:

Holy Spirit, Lord of Light,

From the clear celestial height,

Thy pure beaming radiance give.

Come, thou Father of the poor,

Come, with treasures which endure;

Come, thou Light of all that live!

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;

On our dryness pour thy dew,

Wash the stains of guilt away.

Bend the stubborn heart and will;

Melt the frozen, warm the chill;

Guide the steps that go astray.

Thou, on us who evermore

Thee confess and thee adore,

With thy sevenfold gifts descend.

Give us comfort when we die;

Give us life with thee on high;

Give us joys that never end. Amen. Alleluia.

Today’s feast is sometimes called the ‘Birthday of the Church’. Because even though Jesus had spent 3 years forming his Apostles and Disciples and had revealed God’s love and mercy for the world so definitively by his death and Resurrection, it needed the gift of the Holy Spirit to bring the Church to life. It is therefore principally through the life of the Spirit that the Church has grown and continued throughout the centuries and become what we have inherited today. This should tell us that we too need to be living the life of the Spirit to continue in the same way as our ancestors in the Faith. Through the Holy Spirit, whom we receive through our prayer, through the Sacraments, through the Word of God and through each other, we can come to live the friendship with Jesus that God desires and come to know God as our loving Father.

The words above which are ascribed to Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury (+ 1228) tell us of the ancient love that Catholics have had for the Holy Spirit. It is through the Holy Spirit that we can receive the light of God into the darkness of our lives: lives that struggle under the burden of sin, discouragement, suffering and infirmity. This light is the light of God’s grace which brings relief through mercy and allows us to walk into a new life in communion with God. The Holy Spirit is the one who heals our wounds and renews our strength. Jesus came to heal suffering humanity and offers us a new kind of strength lived out in lives of love, loving one another as he loved us and loving God as Jesus taught us. This same Holy Spirit also brings us the sevenfold gifts:  Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord. These gifts help us to walk the path of sanctity and to become saints with the help of God’s grace. May this feast help us to trust in God especially at this time, that through his help and through his Holy Spirit, he would bring his healing love into our lives and into our world.

God bless you, Fr Martin

 

Sunday 24th May 2020

7th Sunday of Eastertide

Dear Parishioners,

As we continue in this testing time of the restrictions surrounding the Pandemic we are accompanied in our liturgy by the prayers of the Church in between the feasts of the Ascension and Pentecost. This is a unique time for us to ask for the help of God through his Holy Spirit to help us to trust in his plan. When Jesus ascended to heaven it could have seemed to the people that he had gone away for good. However, Jesus promised that he would not leave us alone and would be with us always (Mat 28:20). God is at work, but we must now come to know him through the Spirit of his love at work in our prayer, in the Church and in the people and world around us. Perhaps all of us are being called to trust God even more at this time. Even in all the frustrations and difficulties of this time and with all the uncertainties in the wider world, we can continue to trust. Below are some words which can help us to reflect on the role of the Holy Spirit in our faith and lives at this time:

 

Trusting the Holy Spirit to lead us into deeper awareness of God and personal holiness is a marvellous way to begin. Of course, this is more complex than it sounds but in some respects it really is not complex at all. Even for wise theologians it is difficult to know precisely how to speak about the person of the Holy Spirit, but it is clear, especially from the New Testament, that the Spirit is a person in His own right and not just a way of saying ‘God is at work’. What is not difficult to see is this: the Holy Spirit brings glory both to the Father and the Son and part of the way He does that is to reveal the Father and Son to us and enabling us to enter into communion with them.

 

We may not be able to say a lot about His ‘person’ but we can certainly tell a lot about Him by the things He helps us to see, think, speak and do. The Spirit led St Paul to insist that the only fruit the Spirit produces is the kind that pleases God and reflects His character (Galatians 5:22-23). In this way, and others, the Spirit makes God accessible to us. He helps us to enter God’s presence, not like we enter a room but in a spiritual union and relationship through love. Having brought us into God’s house and presence He continues to teach us how to be more and more at home in that house.

 

Some people so rarely talk about the Holy Spirit that you would think we can get along without Him very well – but we cannot. The great news is that our ignorance of the Spirit’s ‘person’ does not stop Him from working on our behalf. He still glorifies the Father and Son; He still opens our eyes, deepens our faith and enriches our lives in holiness. The truth is that He does not mind not getting ‘centre stage’. Christ sent the Holy Spirit  as our strengthener and counsellor and said, “He will not speak on his own … He will bring glory to me.” (John 16:13-14) That is the Holy Spirit for you; sent from the Father and glad to glorify the Father’s Son by instructing, transforming and sanctifying us. The Spirit is utterly and ceaselessly opposed to the evil within and around us (Galatians 5:17). This means he is in earnest about bringing God and us together and that in turn means we can trust Him to get us there. In fact, the Scriptures will say that the presence of the Spirit in the Church is God’s guarantee of final glorification. (www.studyjesus.com)

 

God bless you, Fr Martin

 

Sunday 17th May 2020

6th Sunday of Eastertide

Dear Parishioners, 

This newsletter this week comes with the hope that everyone is managing to stay hopeful and trusting in God especially as we face this challenging time together as a society. At this time above all we see the value of our faith which calls us to have complete trust in God; in his goodness, in his love for us and in his almighty power over all of creation. We are all aware of so many sufferings surrounding us at this time and the complex issues facing our society and our world. More than ever our faith is being tested as we seek to live out the truth of our baptismal vows professing our belief in Jesus and in his power to bring good out of all things through his Cross and Resurrection.

As we draw closer to the concluding moments of Eastertide we anticipate this week the great feast of Our Lord’s Ascension this coming Thursday. Here Jesus gives his own authority, as the Son of God, to his Apostles telling them to take the Good News of the Gospel out to the entire world, baptising in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and proclaiming his promise to all “Know that I am with you always, yes to the end of time” (Mt 28:20). It is God’s hope that we will always remember this consoling promise as we live out our baptismal calling. It is especially pertinent at this time to remember that Jesus is with us. Through his Resurrection Jesus lives among us and calls us to know his presence and through him to understand that we are beloved children of God the Father. In the Gospel for this Sunday Jesus promises us “I will not leave you orphans” (Jn 14:18). How could God not hear the cries of his people and listen to their needs when Jesus has told us that we are his children? 

We also come to know that Jesus is with us through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Traditionally the days from Ascension to the feast of Pentecost, nine days later, has been the time to pray a novena to receive the Holy Spirit’s help more powerfully in our lives. Below is a prayer to be used from this Thursday to the following Saturday for this intention. With this prayer we can ask for the help of God to know that Jesus is with us and for a divine solution to the acute needs of the world at this time. As Christians, like the Apostles, we are charged with a mission to desire that all people may come to know the presence of Jesus in their lives and to receive God’s help through him. In this month of May we can also call upon our Heavenly Mother as well who has been given to us by God to help us. The Blessed Virgin Mary, above all, is the one through whom God’s Holy Spirit has been most fruitful in the history of the world. For this reason she is evoked as ‘Spouse of the Holy Spirit’, a traditional title that goes back centuries. Let us also ask our patron St Thomas More, with all the saints, that we may have courage and perseverance in faith to guide us through these times. 

Holy Spirit, third Person of the Blessed Trinity, Spirit of truth, love and holiness, proceeding from the Father and the Son, and equal to them in all things, we adore You and love You with all our hearts. Dearest Holy Spirit, confiding in your deep, personal love for us, we are making this novena for the following request, if it should be your holy will to grant it: (mention your request). Teach us, Divine Spirit, to know and seek our last end; grant us the holy fear of God; grant us true contrition and patience. Do not let us fall into sin. Give us an increase of faith, hope, and charity, and bring forth in our souls all the virtues proper to our state of life. Make us faithful disciples of Jesus Christ and obedient children of the Church. Give us an efficacious grace sufficient to keep the commandments and to receive the sacraments worthily. Give us the four Cardinal Virtues, Your Seven Gifts, Your Twelve Fruits. Raise us to perfection in the state of life to which You have called us and lead us through a happy death to everlasting life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Our Lady, Spouse of the Holy Spirit – Pray for us, St Thomas More – Pray for us

God bless you, Fr Martin

Sunday 10th May 2020

5th Sunday of Eastertide

Dear Parishioners, His Holiness Pope Francis, has written to the Faithful a letter for the month of May 2020.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The month of May is here, a time when the People of God express with particular intensity their love and devotion for the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is traditional in this month to pray the Rosary at home within the family. The restrictions of the pandemic have made us come to appreciate all the more this “family” aspect, also from a spiritual point of view. For this reason, I want to encourage everyone to rediscover the beauty of praying the Rosary at home in the month of May. This can be done either as a group or individually; you can decide according to your own situations, making the most of both opportunities. The key to doing this is always simplicity, and it is easy also on the internet to find good models of prayers to follow. I am also providing two prayers to Our Lady that you can recite at the end of the Rosary, and that I myself will pray in the month of May, in spiritual union with all of you. I include them with this letter so that they are available to everyone.

Dear brothers and sisters, contemplating the face of Christ with the heart of Mary our Mother will make us even more united as a spiritual family and will help us overcome this time of trial. I keep all of you in my prayers, especially those suffering most greatly, and I ask you, please, to pray for me. I thank you, and with great affection I send you my blessing. Pope Francis

First Prayer

O Mary, You shine continuously on our journey
as a sign of salvation and hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who, at the foot of the cross,
were united with Jesus’ suffering,
and persevered in your faith.

“Protectress of all people,”
you know our needs,
and we know that you will provide,
so that, as at Cana in Galilee,
joy and celebration may return
after this time of trial.

Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform ourselves to the will of the Father
and to do what Jesus tells us.
For he took upon himself our suffering,
and burdened himself with our sorrows
to bring us, through the cross,
to the joy of the Resurrection. Amen

Second prayer

We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God; Do not despise our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from every danger, O Glorious and Blessed Virgin. Amen

May our Holy Father’s words encourage us to find hope and courage through the intercession of the Blessed Mother of God in these challenging times. God bless you, Fr Martin

Remaining united as a Parish

Dear Parishioners,

In addition to this week’s words from Pope Francis I would also like to encourage parishioners to reflect on ways that we can remain united as a parish at this time. As our Holy Father’s words remind us we are a ‘spiritual family’ who, through Christ, can call God ‘Our Father’ and Mary our Mother. Our prayer is the most essential way that we are in communion with God and also with our neighbour; prayer is the spiritual adhesive which bonds us together. Due to the restrictions at this time we are in need of finding new ways that we can live out this bond in practical love. In this week’s newsletter we are suggesting some ideas from the Parish Council to do this. Please do consider these ways that we can strengthen the lines of communication available to us at this time.

We are suggesting two ways. The first is part of our ‘Can we help?’ initiative. Do you know of anyone who needs to talk on the phone or may need practical help? Maybe you are aware of someone who is not connected to the on-line communication from the parish. Similarly, we would like to hear from people who would be willing to be part of a ‘Buddy’ scheme, able to speak to someone on the phone and either provide practical help if needed or let the parish know so we can find someone to help.

The second way is to provide the possibility of people sharing their experiences with the rest of the parish at this time. We may not be able to meet and talk at the church but it would be good to hear from parishioners who were willing to share with others in some way. This would be through a supplement to the newsletter where words and thoughts can be shared in writing, images, photos or recordings.

Please see the newsletter for more information on these two possibilities and consider how you may be able to support them.

God bless you, Fr Martin

 

Sunday 3rd May 2020

4th  Sunday of Eastertide

Dear Parishioners,

 

Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all(Phil1:2). As we continue in this time of testing let us draw comfort from our faith which, as St Paul tells us, with love and hope, is among the greatest of things (1 Cor13:13). May the reminder of God’s presence and promises bring us protection and reassurance in these difficult times. This Sunday which is the fourth of Eastertide is traditionally called ‘Good Shepherd Sunday’. The Gospel speaks to us of Jesus fulfilling the Biblical prophecy which reveals God as our Shepherd and ‘we the people of his flock’ (Psalm95:7). Possibly the most famous and well-loved psalm begins by saying ‘The Lord is my Shepherd; there is nothing I shall want’ (Ps23:1). This psalm reminds us of the consoling hope that even if we ‘walk in the valley of the shadow of death’ we need ‘fear no evil’ (Ps23:4). Jesus fulfils these words perfectly because he is the true Shepherd who has come to be among his flock and lavish his love upon them. Through his Cross and Resurrection Jesus has himself journeyed through the valley of death and has risen again. For us as Christians we can now know and believe that the crosses of life can lead us to the new life promised by Jesus.

 

We can say that this time of the pandemic, with the restrictions, deprivations and suffering that it has brought to so many lives, clearly manifests a cross for us and for the entire world. Our faith in Jesus and his Gospel can therefore speak to us of the gift of hope even as we go through this valley together. In the Gospel this week, speaking of himself as the Good Shepherd, Jesus says “the sheep follow him because they know his voice” (Jn 10:4). The spiritual gift of faith is given to us precisely so that we might recognise the ‘voice’of the Shepherd; especially in the most difficult of times. Our part, as members of the Body of Christ, is to cultivate the spiritual sense of hearing to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd in our lives. Normally, our participation in the liturgy and Holy Mass in the Church helps us a great deal to do this. The restrictions of this time however have placed a certain urgency on our own personal commitment to this endeavour. The Catholic Catechism tells us that prayer is ‘the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God’ (CCC 2590). During these days each of us can ask for the grace to raise our mind and heart to God in prayer and to request his help for ourselves and for the world. The most simple form of prayer begins by setting aside some time in our day and seeking God in silence. We can also turn to the Scriptures in this time to let God speak to us through his Word so that we can learn to ‘listen to his voice’.

 

The month of May has for generations traditionally been a time to turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary and be reminded of her unique place in the mysteries of our redemption. Jesus himself bequeathed the gift of Mary’s Motherhood to his Apostle John at the foot of the Cross. Like John, we can learn to take Mary into our home and into our hearts and ask for her help to teach us how to love her Son and to listen to his voice in prayer. One beautiful tradition has long been for families to gather in prayer and to recite the Rosary together each day. It would certainly be a tremendous grace if the Rosary could be prayed in our homes and families at this time, asking for God’s help particularly in this time of need. This weekend we can also remember that, just as Jesus is our Good Shepherd, so God calls other souls to be shepherds and pastors in his Church. Maybe this time has helped us to see what a valuable and essential gift the priesthood and consecrated religious life is to our Church. One of the ‘good things’ we can therefore ask God for at this time is that more souls will be encouraged to respond to this call in their lives. This week we normally take a collection for the Priests’ Training Fund, which supports our vital seminary training. Please do pray for vocations to this way of life this week and, if you can, find a way of contributing to this appeal for funds.

 

May Our Lord keep us faithful and united in his grace

 

God bless you, Fr Martin

Sunday 29th April 2020

3rd Sunday of Eastertide

Dear Parishioners,

I am writing this week’s Pastor’s Corner conscious that all of us are enduring challenging circumstances as we find ourselves in a state of not knowing so many things normally necessary to feel reassured and safe in our lives. I hope everyone is finding the support they need. Once again I encourage everyone to not feel cut off from the parish and appeal for help if needed. This week the Parish Council will be reflecting on ways that the parish can remain united and maintain contact through the means available to us. Please do read the information coming from the parish to help support these efforts as they are made known.

This week we arrive at the 3rdSunday of Eastertide and the Church gives us the Gospel reading of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. We learn that when the Risen Jesus encountered the disciples they were ‘downcast’ and they didn’t recognise him. They also didn’t recognise the hand of God in the experiences of the last days surrounding the crucifixion of the Lord in Jerusalem. It was then up to Jesus to open their understandingto the Scriptures and to make their hearts burnwithin them. Jesus then confirmed this message of hope as he revealed his true presence to them at table and in the ‘breaking of the bread’.

We can learn a lot from this Gospel passage as we, like the disciples, sometimes cannot perceive the presence of the Risen Lord in our midst. Circumstances, such as the ones we face at present, can lead us to be ‘downcast’and to feel lost and discouraged. It can be hard to see the workings of God’s will when events seem to have conspired against us. However, this does not mean that God is not intimately involved in what we are going through. At the heart of our faith lies the mystery of the Cross. St Paul tells us it can seem like a stumbling blockto some and even foolishnessto others. However, to those with faith, the Cross is the wisdom and the power of God. In their state of dejection, this is what the disciples couldn’t see. Jesus himself had to remind them and teach them a new kind of faith: St Paul sums it up again when he says: ‘All things can work for good for those who love God and are called according to his purposes’ (Romans8:28). If he can turn the Cross into the greatest and most powerful instrument of love, God can certainly bring good out of everything else; even that which seems to us to be most difficult. To believe this at this time as Christians is to exercise our baptismal gift of faith and it is a true strength that can help carry us through these days.

Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we too are pilgrims making our way through this life. Like them we need to remember that the Risen Jesus is alongside us. We may not be able to meet together to recognise him in the breaking of the bread, but Jesus is still with us. We can be searching for him in the Scriptures and allow his message of hope burn in our hearts more ardently. It has been encouraging to hear how many people are drawing spiritual strength from the national shrine of Walsingham at this time, following the masses and talks from there. This shrine has been an important destination for pilgrims for nearly 1000 years. Like our Christian forbears we can recall that Our Lord gave us his Mother as a unique help on our pilgrim journey through life. Our Lady has been invoked as the ‘Health of the Sick’ and ‘Help of Christians’ for many generations. As we approach the month of May we can be reminded of the hope and comfort that comes through Mary’s presence among us. We can ask Mary, as our mother, to teach us how to use this time profitably; to recognise Jesus in the Scriptures and in prayer, to raise our ‘downcast’ faces, to implore God’s help for suffering humanity and to seek inspiration living out the Christian commandments to love God and our neighbour.

May we remain united in grace at this time, strengthened by these mysteries.

God bless you, Fr Martin

Sunday 19th April 2020

Feast of Divine Mercy

Dear Parishioners,

 

With these words this week, comes a special prayer for all our parishioners for God’s protection and blessing for everyone. We are all going through an extreme moment, with the rest of the world, at this time. May our faith continue to unite and strengthen us and remind us of God’s help and promises.

 

This Sunday, the conclusion of our Easter Octave, was made the Feast of Divine Mercy in the year 2000 by Pope St John Paul II. Recently, we also know that Pope Francis called for an extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy in our Church. These prophetic signs of our times can show us that God wants us to understand the message of his Divine Mercy in a special way at this time. This is true for each one us personally and for our entire world as well. To say that God’s love is always a ‘merciful love’, means that as long as we keep reaching out for his help, there is no reason that we need to ever fear not being able to live our Christian life, albeit sometimes in a state of extreme weakness and vulnerability. The simple prayer that accompanies the devotion of the Divine Mercy is ‘Jesus, I trust in you’. Perhaps never before in our modern world has this simple act of faith, of trust in Jesus, taken on such an acute importance. It is a simple prayer that we can all be saying at this time.  What follows here is an explanation of the Divine Mercy message:

 

The message of The Divine Mercy is simple. It is that God loves us – all of us. And, He wants us to recognise that His mercy is greater than our sins, so that we will call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow through us to others. Thus, all will come to share His joy. The Divine Mercy message is one we can call to mind simply by remembering ABC:

A – Ask for His Mercy. God wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and upon the whole world.

B – Be merciful. God wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us.
C – Completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive.

The message and devotion to Jesus as The Divine Mercy is based on the writings of Saint Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun who, in obedience to her spiritual director, wrote a diary of about 600 pages recording the private revelations she received about God’s mercy. Even before her death in 1938, the devotion to The Divine Mercy had begun to spread. The message and devotional practices proposed in the Diary of Saint Faustina are firmly rooted in the Gospel message of Jesus, our merciful Saviour. Properly understood and implemented, they will help us grow as genuine followers of Christ. It is good to spend time to learn more about the mercy of God, learn to trust in Jesus, and live our lives being merciful to others, as Christ is merciful to us. (thedivinemercy.org)

 

It is very encouraging to hear of all the ways that people are supporting one another at this time. No one in our parish and community should feel cut off and alone. Especially in these times of social isolation let us continue to support each other. The parish is endeavouring to guide people towards particular help and material support if it is needed. Please do contact us if this is the case. May the message of God’s merciful love, given to us through Jesus, keep us in faith, hope and love at this time, united as the Body of Christ.

 

God bless you, Fr Martin

 

Sunday 12th April 2020

Easter Sunday of the Resurrection

Dear Parishioners,

This Sunday we celebrate the culmination of our Lenten journey, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. We have had a very unusual experience of Lent this year and our Holy Week is completely different from what we have been used to. However, God is still with us and perhaps we can see the hope in the message of the Resurrection of Jesus with a renewed emphasis this year. The Resurrection is really at the heart of our Christian faith. Each Sunday when we normally gather it is because we are essentially celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus. It is this that gives hope to all of our lives and encourages us in our faith.

We have all been facing a cross of significant proportions this year. For those more directly affected by the pandemic this cross has meant bereavement, anxiety, loss, financial insecurity, fatigue and so much more. These days of the Paschal Triduum, the days in which we enter into Our Lord’s Passion with special devotion, speak to us about these crosses in our life and in our world. Through his embracing of the Cross, Jesus shows the infinite extent of God’s love for us and he opens up the way to find a resurrection from our sins and from all that brings death into our lives. May this hope of the Resurrection bring us strength and faith at this time as we endure these extreme circumstances. And may God’s blessing of new life bring healing and consolation to all those who are suffering at this time. Below are a few words on the theme of Our Lord’s Resurrection and our own share in his resurrected life.

‘Christianity is the Resurrection Faith through which Jesus opened the door to salvation and eternal life. St. Paul linked the Resurrection of Christ with the resurrection of all of us. “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptised into Christ Jesus have been baptised into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:3-4). St. Thomas Aquinas reasoned it was necessary for Christ to rise again: “for the raising of our hope, since through seeing Christ, who is our head, rise again, we hope that we likewise shall rise again.” He referred to Job 19:25-27: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!”

Thomas Aquinas further discussed Christ’s new manner of existence, that he had a glorified body. St. Thomas reasoned that Christ rose with a true body, for, in order for it to be a true Resurrection, it was necessary for his same body to be united with his soul. And we read in Luke that he ate a piece of baked fish in front of his disciples during his appearance in Jerusalem (Luke 24:43). Pope Benedict XVI, in his book Jesus of Nazareth – Holy Week, summarises the Resurrection event by calling it “a historical event that nevertheless bursts open the dimensions of history and transcends it.” The Sabbath, the seventh day of rest during the Creation, had been celebrated as the day of worship for at least 2000 years. It must have been an improbable and miraculous event that so deeply moved the early Christians to produce the theological shift of the day of worship from the Sabbath to Sunday, the Lord’s Day.’ From jesuschristsavior.net

May our own celebration of the Lord’s Day not be dimmed this year but bring us great peace and joy with the promise of Resurrection and life.

God bless you, Fr Martin

Sunday 5th April 2020

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise (Jeremiah 17:14).

Dear parishioners,

This week we begin Holy Week with Palm Sunday, so called as it commemorates the moment when Jesus made his entry into Jerusalem on a donkey and palms were laid at his feet while the crowd sang out“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” Just a few days after this triumphal moment, the same city was calling for Jesus’ crucifixion, which led to his passion and death. Normally we would be gathering to receive our blessed palms and to sing our own ‘Hosannas’ to the King of Kings. Of course we know that we cannot do this at this time. As we enter this particular Holy Week our experience of being a Christian and a member of a parish will be markedly different. Together with our brothers and sisters around the world we experience this time as a sacrifice in a unique way. However, like Christians throughout the ages we are still called to place our faith in the sovereignty of Jesus and to offer him our worship and praise as we petition him for his saving help.

All of our lives have been radically changed in these few short weeks. The entire world is experiencing a kind of Via Crucis, a Way of the Cross. So many people are suffering through illness, deprivation, anxiety, stress, fear, isolation and so many other effects of the pandemic. For the Christian Church there has never been a more important time to have faith in God and to call upon him for his help. At a time such as this we can realise that our faith is not for ourselves only and we can be praying for our world in a special way; for all those heroic and helpful souls who are responding with charity, love and ingenuity to the needs of this time. Also we can see the suffering face of Jesus in all those who are afflicted. When we can do this we are exercising the gift of faith and we are humbly petitioning God to come to the aid of his people. We perhaps don’t realise how important faith is until we really need it. The Letter the Hebrews tells us: Faith is the trust that what we hope for will actually happen: it gives us assurance about things we cannot see (Hebrews 11:1). In a situation such as we face at present there is so much that we ‘cannot see’. For this reason this Holy Week is an opportunity to seek a deeper communion with God through prayer and to exercise our faith.

Holy Week takes us into the deepest mysteries of our religion; that Jesus came into this world to be our Saviour and through his Cross and Resurrection he has taken upon himself the burden of sin and death. This did not mean the reality of sickness and death was removed from our world but that God is present in it and he brings us the possibility to have faith and hope in all our trials. Isaiah prophesied this when he wrote: ‘Surely he bore our diseases, and took our pains; yet we considered him stricken, and struck down by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed’ (Isaiah 53:4-5). This Holy Week leads us to the proclamation of the Resurrection of Jesus, our most important Christian celebration. God is asking us to have faith in him. May our faith be strengthened in us at this time and may we pray on behalf of all humanity the words of the prophet Jeremiah: Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise (Jeremiah 17:14).

Please do take advantage of the numerous resources to follow the liturgies of Holy Week. It is wonderful to see how people are responding to the circumstances at this time in inventive ways. Thank you to those in the parish who are organising livestreamed ‘parish masses’ and for those preparing resources to be shared via Youtube for Holy Week. Please see the News page on our parish website for updates and especially the message from Cardinal Vincent about the ‘Easter Duties’ this year. Please think of ways that you can have times of prayer at home to mark the significant moments of Holy Week. Though separated we are still the Body of Christ, may we be especially united in faith and love at this time.

God bless you, Fr Martin

Sunday 29th March 2020

5th Sunday of Lent

I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-6)

Dear Parishioners,
This weekend we arrive at the 5th Sunday of Lent and the Gospel reading recounts the raising of Lazarus from his tomb. Surely we can see echoes between this story and what we are experiencing as a society at this time. Jesus comes into our world, as he came into the lives of Mary, Martha and Lazarus to bring an extraordinary power; the power of his resurrection. We are very conscious at this time of all the reports of those who have both lost their lives and those who have been bereaved by the virus. We are also aware of all those brave souls who are working on front lines to ensure essential services keep going, especially in health care. Like Mary and Martha, our world is presently seeing the reality of the fragility of life and the sorrowfulness and suffering which comes through death and disease. Like Mary and Martha we also need to hear the voice of Jesus telling us ‘I am the resurrection and the life’. We need the hope that comes from this message to sustain us and provide essential guidance to discern the presence of God in these times.
I am sure many of us are being challenged by the question of how to live these days. I receive very encouraging reports from parishioners about how they are making use of modern communication methods to access spiritual support from masses and churches around the country. I am sure many people are calling each other up and finding time to talk to others. Accounts of neighbours watching out for each other and offering help with shopping are also arising. These are all signs of the good that can be inspired in the face of testing times. We should certainly be seeking these inspirations for ourselves and praying for all people around the globe at this time. In the reality of this cross which our world is carrying now, there is the tremendous potential of the resurrection on offer. We can pray in a compassionate way for all those who are suffering. We can pray to support all those who are charitably giving of themselves to help others. We can also pray to be inspired to see who we can help personally. Finally we can pray for our world that this time of suspension of normal routines may bring about more essential and spiritual questions about the true priorities of life.
In this country this weekend, the entire nation will be ‘Re-dedicated’ to the maternal intercession and care of Mary, the Mother of God. This will happen principally in the Shrine of Our Lady in Walsingham but in reviving this ancient devotion the Bishops of these lands are encouraging us all to make a personal act of ‘Entrustment’ to Mary as well. When this idea was conceived we had no idea the circumstances we would be in. However, God knew everything and we can see a providential care through which he is calling us to turn to Mary as never before at this time. This is what our ancestors in the faith did and they would be encouraging us also in this time to confide absolutely in Our Lady’s help. Mary has come down to us known through titles such as ‘Health of the Sick’ and ‘Help of Christians’. Let us ask for her powerful intercession to bring God’s help to us through the resurrection and life of Jesus at this time. Attached to the website this week is the official act of Rededication which everyone can follow in communion with the Bishops and all the faithful of these lands on Sunday.

Finally – if anyone is in particular need then please do contact the parish. There have been offers of support and help from parishioners if anyone should need it. We pray especially for those members of our community who are suffering in a particular way due to the solitude and isolation in these times.

May God be with everyone, uniting us in love and prayer. Fr Martin

22nd MARCH 2020

4th SUNDAY OF LENT

 

Dear Parishioners,

Due to the measures announced by the Government this week, the Bishops of England and Wales have taken the decision to cancel all public masses and activities within the Church throughout the country. The letter from the Bishops’ conference will be attached to our website. Our own Cardinal Vincent has written a pastoral letter to us at this time which can also be found attached to our website. Copies of these letters will also be left in the church porch. These are unprecedented times and we are being asked to make these sacrifices in our life of faith to help. Our church at present will be open from 9-10am each weekday morning and from 9am-12pm on Sunday. Parishioners are invited to come and pray if they wish, observing the correct ‘social distancing’ measures to ensure protection. There is also a list of parishes who will ‘live-stream’ masses at this time and they can be accessed via the internet. These will involve priests celebrating mass on their own and videoed and transmitted live online.

In our parish all activities, such as classes, baptisms, prayer groups, are suspended and the dates of upcoming events such as First Holy Communion and Confirmation will most likely have to be re-negotiated. The Church seriously encourages everyone to follow the Government guidelines concerning protection and prevention. These are particularly pertinent for the over 70’s and for those in vulnerable health situations. We are aiming at levels of pastoral support in the parish and we encourage you to hand in one of the ‘How can we help’ leaflets. Or pass them along to parishioners who may need help. We hope to provide practical and social support for those who need it and for the self-isolating. If anyone would like to offer to help in this way please do let the parish know. Our Administrator Liz is working remotely from home, as the Diocese has advised. This means levels of communication will be impaired but messages will be picked up and responded to if urgent.

At the beginning of the year I spoke in sermons about the foundational knowledge and faith that God is with us – Emmanuel. At that time I said that none of us know what this year will present us with but that for the Christian everything else rests on us knowing the love of God in our lives revealed through Jesus Christ. None of us could have imagined what was in store for us, but the message is the same. God knew what was coming, and only he fully knows why. He also knows how it will be stopped. He knows how important our prayers and faith are. He knows how important it is that we continue to trust deeply in his merciful love. He knows how important it is for us to see with eyes of love the needs of our neighbour. He also ultimately knows what good will come from this whole global situation. St Paul tells us ‘All things can work for good for those who love God and are called according to his purposes’ (Romans 8:28). Let us remain united in faith and love and hope, trusting in God’s help and praying for the entire world at this time. I include the prayer from our own St Thomas More for us to pray with particular devotion at this time.

Fr Martin

O Lord, give us a mind that is humble, quiet,

peaceable, patient and charitable,

and a taste of your Holy Spirit

in all our thoughts, words and deeds.

O Lord, give us a lively faith, a firm hope,

a fervent charity, a love of You.

Take from us all lukewarmness

in meditation and all dullness in prayer.

Give us fervour and delight

in thinking of You, your grace,

and your tender compassion toward us.

Give us, good Lord, the grace

to work for the things we pray for. Amen

 

8th MARCH 2020

2nd SUNDAY OF LENT

Dear Parishioners, as we think of drawing closer to God during Lent and we approach the morning of Parish Confessions here on Saturday 21st March, the following list may be useful to contemplate…

21 Reasons to go to Confession!

  1. God commanded we confess our sins to one another in the Bible. (James 5:16)
  2. The Church teaches that we do well to confess our sins to the priest at least once in the year.
  3. We receive grace to resist sin through the Sacrament, as well as forgiveness.
  4. We learn humility by having to confess to another person.
  5. There is built-in accountability.
  6. Our relationship with the rest of the Church is healed.
  7. We receive counsel from the priest.
  8. We can be comforted hearing the words of absolution.
  9. All are sins are wiped away.
  10. It helps give you the strength to forgive others.
  11. It doesn’t cost anything.
  12. We may not be positive that we have “perfect” contrition without it.
  13. It helps us to go deep within and think about how we can improve.
  14. It feels good emotionally.
  15. When we realise (again) we are sinners, it is easier to be patient with others.
  16. It is absolutely confidential – what is said in the confessional stays in the confessional.
  17. No more guilt.
  18. We are better prepared to receive the Eucharist.
  19. Forgiveness is a necessary part of growing in holiness.
  20. Our consciences can be better formed.
  21. If we have mortally sinned, then Confession brings us back into the family of God in the Church and restores sanctifying grace in our souls. (aggiecatholicblog.org)

Sunday 1st March 

1st Sunday of Lent

Dear Parishioners

What were Jesus’ desert temptations and what can we learn from them? Today we hear the Gospel records Jesus being tempted by Satan in the desert wilderness following a period of 40 days of fasting, specifically from food. While Jesus was tempted at other times throughout His lifetime on earth, this period of time emphasized how Jesus responded to temptation, both as an example to others as well as to reveal His ability to wrestle with temptation and to overcome it. Matthew records the first temptation as one involving food. After fasting for 40 days, Jesus was clearly hungry. Satan chose to tempt Jesus by telling Him to turn stones into bread. Jesus responded by quoting from Deuteronomy, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

Matthew then records that the devil took Jesus to the top of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem and told Him to jump off Satan quoted the Old Testament passage that stated, “On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone” (Matthew 4:6). The idea was that Jesus would miraculously be rescued in public, revealing His great power to those watching. Jesus quoted again from Deuteronomy, saying, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test” (Matthew 4:7). He knew that this would be a misuse of power and in direct violation of the mission God the Father had given Him. In the third temptation, “The devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory” (Matthew 4:8). The devil then said he would give Jesus authority over all of these kingdoms if Jesus would worship him. Jesus refused, telling the devil to “Be gone” (Matthew 4:10) again quoting Deuteronomy a third time, saying, “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.” The devil then left Him and angels served Him (Matthew 4:11).

Many observations can be made about the meaning and purpose of Jesus’ temptations in this passage. First, Jesus revealed His full humanity. He was hungry and wrestled with temptation. He expressed feelings, thoughts, and words as humans typically do in tense situations. Second, Jesus revealed His deity. His ability to resist temptation was clearly displayed as superior to other humans. He had strong knowledge of God’s Word and even had the power to tell Satan to “Be gone.” Jesus was tempted, yet remained sinless, proving Himself divine. Third, Jesus offered an example of dealing with temptation. During His struggles, He quoted God’s Word, recognized the enemy’s tricks, and emphasized worshiping God. These temptations offer a close look at both the humanity and deity of Jesus. However, they also reveal important truth concerning how we can respond to temptations today, relying upon God’s loving grace, the truth of his Word and the power of the Sacraments, in order to stand firm against the attacks of Satan. (compellingtruth.org)

 

7th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

23RD FEBRUARY 2020

 

 

Dear Parishioners

Lent is soon to be upon us, but before this we celebrate this week ‘Shrove Tuesday’ or ‘Mardi Gras’ (or ‘Fat Tuesday’). One could call this celebration the last gasp of Ordinary time as the Church anticipates the penitential Season of the forty days of Lent. Rich foods are consumed as pilgrims prepare for times of fasting, abstinence, confession and penance. The word ‘carnival’ comes from the Latin “carne vale” which means “farewell to meat” or “farewell to flesh” indicating the end to certain pleasures has come. This day is a day of farewell. We say goodbye to our old ways and begin preparing our hearts for a Holy Lent. Hopefully, we will be changed when we exit at Easter. Self-examination, abstinence and confession, combined with prayer, fasting and almsgiving, should result in a life more holy than it was. The title ‘Shrove’ Tuesday comes from the old word ‘shrive’ which meant to ‘obtain absolution for one’s sins’. This relates to the tradition of starting Lent by going to the Sacrament of Confession. From a 1000 year old document we read: ‘In the week immediately before Lent everyone shall go to his confessor and confess his deeds and the confessor shall so shrive him as he then may hear by his deeds what he is to do [in the way of penance].’

Following ‘Shrove Tuesday’ we celebrate ‘Ash Wednesday’ this week, which comes from the ancient Jewish tradition of penance and fasting. This practice includes the wearing of ashes on the head. The ashes symbolise the dust from which God made us. As the priest applies the ashes to a person’s forehead, he speaks the words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” or “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” The ashes also symbolise grief and contrition, in this case, that we have sinned and caused division from God. Looking toward the future, we consider which things we need to say goodbye to on this day. What leads us to sin, to making wrong choices, to bondage? However, the ascetical practices voluntarily embraced by believers during lent are meant to bring us freedom. That is the goal of Lent. Conversion is not simply about leaving things behind but about being made new in Jesus Christ. That is real cause for celebration and joy. The questions we should ask ourselves are these: Are we more formed in the image of Jesus after Lent than we were before? Do we have our hearts and minds looking more at heaven and less at our material lives? Is our prayer life richer and more disciplined and are our relationships strengthened, both with God and others? Let us pray that both in our celebrations and our Lenten intentions we could discover the abiding call to draw closer to the infinite loving mercy and goodness of God. (Adapted from catholic.org)

The God who speaks: “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”

Here Jesus is clarifying that the intent of God’s commandment was for His people to love everyone, even their enemies. Jesus teaches that God exhibits this kind of impartial love for both the good and the wicked. Jesus then clarifies that the attitude that you will “love those who love you” is nothing special; even the wicked do this. He then concludes with the following: “Therefore you are to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) In other words, having just explained how the Father is “perfect,” and instructing God’s people to behave similarly, He is now concluding with a summary statement.

 

So the flow of the paragraph could be summarised as follows: You have heard “love with partiality” but I say to you “love impartially” so you can be sons of the Father; for the Father loves impartially. If you love with partiality, you are nothing special… even the wicked do that. Therefore, you are to love perfectly as the Father loves perfectly. We find this supported in other places in Scripture; for example, Paul wrote: ‘Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbour has fulfilled the law.’ (Romans 13:8) James likewise contrasted partiality with fulfilling the “royal law”: ‘If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. (James 2:8-9) Jesus taught us the sign of a true disciple: “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)(From hermeneutics.stackexchange.com)

 

 

6th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

16TH FEBRUARY 2020

 

Dear Parishioners

Christianity is a religion of the heart. It is a mysterious religion. If it was simply a question of moral conduct we might have list of rules to follow but this would not be enough for us as human beings. A great insight of Christianity is that we have been created in the image of a God who is love. This means that our identity is rooted in love. This requires us to recognise the difference between right and wrong, between good and bad and between what is love and what is not love. However, as Christians we are called to do this in the context of a relationship with God through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. In this week’s Gospel the words from the Sermon on the Mount guide us according to correct moral principles. But these principles are to flow out of a heart that is fundamentally committed to love. This is what we see in the person of Jesus. God wants us to learn from Jesus concerning how to live in a way that will ensure our own happiness and the happiness of those around us. Jesus points towards the heart and the dangers of the corrupting influences of anger, lust and deception.

When we look honestly at our own lives we spot how sensitive our hearts are. We can indeed find we are vulnerable to fostering a lack of true love within us. When we see this however,  it is an opportunity for us to reach out for God’s help. Jesus has come amongst us not simply as an exemplary life to copy but as the very source of life and love. If and when we fail to be fully the people we could be, rather than becoming discouraged, we can turn to God as his children and ask for his help. We appeal to his mercy and his grace to bring us forgiveness and healing so that we can re-discover our true calling through the power of the death and Resurrection of Jesus. As the Body of Christ and members of his Church we are also encouraged to see that we need each other to be good examples and to be a source of loving support for one another. We share in the mission of Jesus not simply to enter the Kingdom of heaven ourselves but to understand how our lives help others to enter that same Kingdom. Let us pray this week for the grace to hear the teaching of Jesus in our hearts so that we may respond in love to all that he asks of us.

The God who speaks: “The hidden wisdom of God”

In his First Letter to the Corinthians Paul contrasts his preaching of the Gospel with ‘words of human wisdom.’ (1 Cor1:17) Paul the preacher, Apostle and founder of scores of churches, doesn’t speak in the classical rhetorical style that was so valued by the Greeks, so his enemies use it against him. It was vital that Paul not be viewed as one more philosopher, especially one with a mere mediocre rhetorical style. It wasn’t about style, but the message. As he wrote: ‘For Christ did not send me to baptise, but to preach the Gospel -not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1Cor1:17-18) What worldly people dismiss as foolish is actually the real wisdom. To the Romans, Paul writes: ’I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.’(Romans 1:16)

 

Paul’s core message is that Jesus is the Messiah or Christ; that he died for our sins and was raised from the dead.  Paul describes God’s wisdom – spiritual, divine wisdom – in contrast to the wisdom of the philosophers which would pass away: ‘We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.  No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.  None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1Cor 2:6-8) Paul is saying that God’s purposes had not been fully revealed, but are now being known through Jesus and the Holy Spirit to those who are spiritually attuned. (Adapted from jesuswalk.com)

 

 

 

 

5TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

09th FEBRUARY 2020

Dear Parishioners

This weekend we celebrate the feast of The Presentation or ‘Candlemas’ as it is called. Our candles symbolise the light of Jesus entering the Temple. In the past this feast was also called ‘The Encounter’. Jesus comes into the Temple and encounters Simeon and Anna. Through them we could say he encounters all of us. It is a time for us to consider our own encounter with the Lord. Just as Jesus comes to the Temple in the Gospel he also comes to each one of us. We are temples of the Holy Spirit and so we encounter God within ourselves through his Spirit. Every time we come to Holy Mass we encounter Jesus in the word of God that we hear and in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood in the Eucharist. We also encounter Jesus in each other and, by his example, we are encouraged to see that we most especially encounter him in those most in need, in those who are poor, those who are helpless and those who are sick.

Simeon says this week “My eyes have seen salvation” as he recognises the hope that comes to him in the infant Jesus. We too can pray that God’s light would shine in our lives so that our eyes could also see salvation as we encounter Jesus. To help us we can ask ourselves this week: How can we see Jesus more clearly at work within us and in the details of our lives? How can we see Jesus more clearly in our experience of our worship together in the Mass? How can we see Jesus guiding our lives more clearly through his Word and through the teaching of his Church? How can we see Jesus more clearly in the great gift given to us in Holy Communion which brings us redemption through his sacrifice for us? How can we see Jesus more clearly in the crosses that we carry; in the sufferings, the sorrows, the struggles and the difficulties of our lives? And finally, how can we see Jesus more clearly in the call to love our brothers and sisters especially those most in need? May our celebration of Candlemas help us, like Simeon, to say “my eyes have seen salvation” and let the light of Jesus shine in our lives.

The God who speaks: “‘I am the Light of the World”

 Today’s feast is called ‘Candlemass’ as it marks the revealing of the light of Christ in the temple. Our candles symbolise the light of Jesus who said “I am the light of the world” (Jn 8:12). In declaring himself to be the ‘light of the world’ Jesus was revealing that he is the exclusive source of spiritual light in existence. John 8:12 also records that Jesus said “Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but have the light of life.” The image of light used by Jesus refers of the light of his truth, of his word and of eternal Life. Those who perceive the true light need not walk in spiritual darkness. Spiritual light is necessary for a spiritual life and, guided by this light, the believer will always tend toward spiritual things; practising their faith through the life of the Church, prayer, the word of God and works of charity.

 

As followers of the Light, we need not live in a state of sin (1 John 1:5–7). Instead, we reflect the light of Jesus through our lives. Just as Jesus became the ‘light of the world’, he commands us to be ‘lights’ too. In Matthew 5:14–16 we see believers also depicted as the ‘light of the world’. Just as the moon has no light of its own, reflecting the light of the sun, so are believers to reflect the light of Christ so that all can see it in us. The light is evident to others by the good deeds we do in faith and through the presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Encouraged by this we can always be ready to shine the light of the hope that we have in the Gospel (1Peter 3:15). The light we have is not to be covered ‘under a basket’, but to shine for all to see and benefit from, that they too may leave the darkness and come into the light of God’s love (Mt 5:15). (Adapted from gotquestions.org)

Fr  Martin

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

26th January 2020

Dear Parishioners

Perhaps when we were younger we were familiar with the game ‘Follow my leader’ and enjoyed playing at imitating the person in front of us. It was not simply in our footsteps we did this but also in their actions as well. When we follow someone we are relieved of the responsibility of making the decision of where we go. It requires a willingness to play along and hopefully to enjoy the process of copying someone as best as possible. In this week’s Gospel, as the mission of Jesus really begins, this theme of ‘following’ presents itself to us.  Also for the Disciples, called to follow Jesus, it wasn’t simply physically following his footsteps but more significantly following his way of life: his way of thinking, his way of acting, his way of believing and his way of loving.

We have been reminded recently that we share in our Lord’s mission through our baptism and so we share in the mission given to the Apostles to follow Jesus. What does this mean for each one of us? How do we seek to learn from Jesus in how we think, how we act, how we believe and how we love? Jesus calls us to be members of the Kingdom of heaven as we follow him in his mission. It is our hope that our lives reflect this membership of his Kingdom. To follow Jesus means to trust him, to pray ‘Thy Kingdom come’ and to truly desire to live in his Kingdom with him. As we come together as a parish and as a community we can help each other to do this. Celebrating Mass together draws us closer to Jesus and nourishes us with his Word and his Sacraments. Through Jesus, God invites us to feel safe as he is truly guiding us through this life and bringing deeper purpose and meaning to our existence. Let us pray for the grace to follow Jesus more nearly that our lives may truly reflect that we are members of his Kingdom so that we may be a light for all those around us

The God who speaks: What is the ‘Kingdom of Heaven?

Throughout the Gospels we hear Jesus talk of the ‘kingdom of God’ or the ‘kingdom of heaven’. The doctrine is the same and there is no different view or meaning of the kingdom of God versus heaven. A verse every Christian could commit to memory is Matthew 6:33: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Jesus clearly put a high priority on us being able to put the kingdom of God first in our lives and to desire to live in that kingdom. As we read and follow the teaching and the deeds of Jesus in the New Testament we learn more and more about what this means.

 

 Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). When we pray this prayer we are asking for the work of Jesus to be accomplished in our lives, in the Church and in the entire world. When we seek the Kingdom of God, we are most especially praying for the rule and reign of the kingdom of God in our own hearts. This happens when Jesus is allowed to be in charge of our whole lives. On one occasion Jesus said, “For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). When we are under the lordship of Jesus, and when He is in control of our life, that is what living with the kingdom of God within means. It is not to be seen as simply rules and regulations, but primarily a life of “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). (Christianity.com)

2ND Sunday in Ordinary Time

19th January 2020

 

Dear Parishioners

We have now entered what we call ‘Ordinary Time’ in the Church’s year. It is deceptively named because to have God in our lives is always extraordinary. What ‘ordinary time’ really refers to is the call to live our lives in the world each day, enriched and informed by the feasts and seasons which we celebrate. Having recently celebrated the great feast of Christmas, we are now called to take deeply to heart that Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us. This means that throughout our daily lives we can always remember that Jesus is with us; whatever happens, whatever we go through, with all the people we meet, in all of life’s ups and downs – we are not alone! We are with Jesus!

God has an individual and everlasting love for each one of us. This is the key truth to hold in our hearts as Christian people. Nothing is more important to know than this. It means that our lives are meaningful and of inestimable value. We often don’t perceive this value ourselves, sometimes we evaluate the worth of our lives based on our feelings or the circumstances that we find ourselves in. But as part of the family of God we gain a new revelation of our dignity and worth. In response to this we can ask for the grace to grow in our gratitude and love for God for making this possible and to seek to ‘go about the world doing good’ for our neighbour. At the centre of this kind of life is the Beloved ‘Lamb of God’ whom John the Baptist points out for us in this week’s Gospel. It is Jesus, the Lamb of God, who provides the way, the truth and the life necessary for us to live in this new way. Let us desire to know him always better that we might know ourselves better and all that God is calling us to.

The God who speaks – Why is Jesus called the ‘Lamb of God’?

Jesus is called the lamb of God because he is the perfect sacrifice offered to God. In 1 Peter 1:18-19 we are told, “You were ransomed . . . not with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb.” A prophecy about the Messiah states, “Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth; Like a lamb led to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7). After Jesus’ crucifixion, soldiers did not break his legs to kill him because he was already dead. Like the Passover lamb, his bones were unbroken. Paul states, “Our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7). Jesus’ death on the cross was a passover from death to life for himself and for all of us. By his blood we are saved from death.

Jesus made it possible for us to break out of the slavery of sin and death. He gave us the hope of reaching our promised land, heaven. The Gospel of John clearly compares Jesus to the Passover lamb by saying that Jesus was crucified the same day that the Passover lambs were being killed in the Temple (John 19:31).In the Gospel of John it was John the Baptist who gave Jesus the title Lamb of God (John 1:29). The Book of Revelation speaks of the Lamb at least 29 times. In a vision John sees a lamb. Four living creatures and 24 elders fall before the Lamb and sing praise because he purchased all people with his blood (Revelation 5:9). (Loyala Press)

† Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us! †

Fr  Martin

The Baptism of the Lord

Sunday 12th January 2020

Dear Parishioners

This week our Christmastide festivities conclude with the feast of our Lord’s Baptism in the Jordan. Jesus comes to John the Baptist and we hear that the heavens open and the Spirit of God descends like a dove upon Jesus while a voice speaks from heaven saying: “This is my Son, the Beloved, my favour rests on him.” Jesus chooses to be entirely identified with human life and with each one of us. Even though he is without sin, Jesus takes part in the rite of penance in which John is involved, washing people of their sins in the river. Jesus already shows that he will completely identify with our lives in the washing away of iniquity in which he will offer his life on the Cross for us as a sacrifice. All our Christmas feasts teach us to see again the beautiful promise that Jesus is Emmanuel, God-with-us, and that he has decided to enter into our individual human stories to reveal the love of God to us.

For each one of us baptism begins our journey within the Church, in which we are to discover this love. We are then called to learn how to live according to God’s will, how to live with our brothers and sisters and to see the possibility of being part of God’s Kingdom of love in which everyone is a member and everyone is welcome. We can say that in our own baptism the Spirit of God also descended on us, saying: “This is my beloved son” or “This is my beloved daughter, my favour rests on you.” This Spirit that God gives us is a Spirit of new life, a Spirit of hope, a Spirit of faith and a Spirit of love. We are invited to co-operate with this Holy Spirit and so grow in the life of the Spirit. Each one of our shares in this mission, which Christ begins with his own baptism, and as missionaries of his love are called to follow him using our gifts and talents at the service of the same mission.

We know that we are weak and we can fail and so Jesus’ mission will also involve carrying the burden of our weaknesses and our failures. However, by doing this he opens up for us a deeper realisation of that ‘new and eternal covenant’ which he has made on our behalf with God, which cannot be broken even by our sins. Today is a good day to remember the grace of our own baptism and renew the promises that were made on that day. By doing this we choose once again to see the great privilege of being restored to our original innocence by God’s mercy. Let us pray that, like John the Baptist, we might recognise the one who stands before us, calling us, and find in our hearts the generosity to open up to that calling. As we do this God will strengthen us in our sacramental Christian life and make us members of his Kingdom, missionaries of his love and ultimately citizens of heaven.

 

The Epiphany of the Lord

05th January 2020

 

 Dear parishioners

This Sunday we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany. On this feast day we are encouraged to see that the three wise men represent the wider world who now see Jesus, the newborn King. They come bearing gifts which acknowledge his unique mission in the world. The frankincense shows his divinity as one who is to be worshipped. The gold represents his royal dignity which he will now share with all of God’s people. The myrrh points to his unique mission of offering himself as a sacrifice of love for the sins of the world. Myrrh is a sweet-smelling perfume used for embalming. The offering of Jesus of himself will be a sweet-smelling perfume which comes to us in our great need of mercy.

 

We may have this Christmas enjoyed sharing gifts with one another. Truly we can understand the meaning of this tradition in the light of today’s feast. We share gifts with one another because of the great gift that Jesus is to humanity. The gifts of the wise men become reflected in the gifts that we share with one another. We are all called to be part of God’s family and Jesus comes to be at the centre of that family, to remind us and to teach us that God is our Father. The word Epiphany means revelation, and so we celebrate today the great light and revelation of the love of God in Jesus. Our prayer for this new beginning and new year can be that we can both receive the light of this revelation and carry it like a gift to others in our lives.

 

Christmas is a time of celebrating and cherishing the treasures at the heart of our faith, it also leads us into the new year and therefore it is a time of new beginnings. A new beginning is a moment to reflect on our lives and to seek to find the grace of God to be able to become more and more the person he created us to be. Each of us have areas of our lives which we would love to see improve maybe in our character, or relationships, our work and our general vocation in life. The Christian way of Life is one of commitment to constant conversion. By the grace and mercy of God we believe that if our hearts are open and surrendered to him our lives can be changed and become more and more perfected in the light of heaven. Let us pray that at the start of this new year God would shine his light into our hearts revealing to us the treasured gifts of faith hope and love that will carry us through this new year.

A happy and blessed new year to all.

Dear Parishioners

As a parish we are now entering one of the most holy seasons of our liturgical year. As a community who share the desire to live as members of the Body of Christ we now come together to celebrate with great joy the gift of the Incarnation of the Son of God. Throughout all ages the Father’s plan was to send us his Son so that we might know his love in a unique way. Each one of us is called through this to know the love of God in our lives like never before. This same Son of God, Jesus the Word made flesh, comes to offer his life as a sacrifice of love for each one of us so that we might become children of God. May each of us find great blessings at this time and throughout the year ahead.  Grace and peace to you all this Christmas and a happy and blessed New Year to everyone.

A BIG THANK YOU – On behalf of all the parish and especially all those who enjoyed our parish carol service so much last week, a very grateful ‘THANK YOU’ to all those who made it possible. The generosity of those who donated items for our Silent Auction and the kindness and willingness of those who gave up so much of their time to allow the Carol Service and party to happen is truly a great expression of what being a parish family really means. Thank you so much to all those involved for helping us to share in the preparations for Christmas in such a beautiful way. 

Fr Martin

 

3rd Sunday of Advent

 15th December 2019

 

Pastor’s Corner

 

God’s promises are held out to us by his Son

 

God established a time for his promises and a time for their fulfilment. The time for promises was in the time of the prophets, until John the Baptist; from John until the end is the time of fulfilment.

God, who is faithful, put himself in our debt, not by receiving anything but by promising so much. A promise was not sufficient for him; he chose to commit himself in writing as well, as it were making a contract of his promises. He wanted us to be able to see the way in which his promises were redeemed when he began to discharge them. And so the time of the prophets was, as we have often said, the foretelling of the promises.

 

He promised eternal salvation, everlasting happiness with the angels, an immortal inheritance, endless glory, and after resurrection from the dead no further fear of dying. This is as it were his final promise, the goal of our striving. When we reach it, we shall ask for nothing more. But as to the way in which we are to arrive at our final goal, he has revealed this also, by promise and prophecy.

He has promised men divinity, mortals’ immortality, sinners justification, the poor a rising to glory.

But, brethren, because God’s promises seemed impossible to men – equality with the angels in exchange for mortality, corruption, poverty, weakness, dust and ashes – God not only made a written contract with men, to win their belief but also established a mediator of his good faith, not a prince or angel or archangel, but his only Son. He wanted, through his Son, to show us and give us the way he would lead us to the goal he has promised.

 

It was not enough for God to make his Son our guide to the way; he made him the way itself, that you might travel with him as leader, and by him as the way. Therefore, the only Son of God was to come among men, to take the nature of men, and in this nature to be born as a man. He was to die, to rise again, to ascend into heaven, to sit at the right hand of the Father, and to fulfil his promises among the nations, and after that to come again, to exact now what he had asked for before, to separate those deserving his anger from those deserving his mercy, to execute his threats against the wicked, and to reward the just as he had promised. All this had therefore to be prophesied, foretold, and impressed on us as an event in the future, in order that we might wait for it in faith, not find it a sudden and dreadful reality.

 

From the office of Readings for 2nd week of Advent: A discourse on the psalms by Saint Augustine

 

Fr Martin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 2nd Sunday of Advent

 8th December 2019

 

As we continue on our Advent pilgrimage the words below from the 7th Century hymn Conditor alme siderum, speak to us of the great mercy of God which has come to us through Jesus Christ. We are also encouraged by the Catechism of the Catholic Church to see the great value and necessity of making a sacramental confession part of our preparation during this holy season for the great feast of Christmas.

 

Creator of the stars of night,                                                            Thou came, the Bridegroom of the bride,

Thy people’s everlasting light,                                                          As drew the world to evening-tide;

Jesu, Redeemer, save us all,                                                          Proceeding from a virgin shrine,

And hear Thy servants when they call.                                       The spotless Victim all divine.

 

Thou, grieving that the ancient curse                                         To God the Father, God the Son,

Should doom to death a universe,                                               And God the Spirit, Three in One,

Hast found the medicine, full of grace,                                      All honour, might, and glory be

To save and heal a fallen race.                                                   From age to age eternally

 

 

From the Catechism – Those who approach the sacrament of Confession obtain pardon from God’s mercy for the offense committed against him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins and which by charity, by example, and by prayer labours for their conversion.

 

The confession of sins, even from a simply human point of view, frees us and facilitates our reconciliation with others. Through such an admission we look squarely at the sins we are guilty of, take responsibility for them, and open ourselves again to God and to the communion of the Church in order to make a new future possible.

 

According to the Church’s command, after having attained the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year. Anyone who is aware of having committed a mortal sin must not receive Holy Communion, even if he experiences deep contrition, without having first received sacramental absolution, unless he has a grave reason for receiving Communion and there is no possibility of going to confession.

 

Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults, or venial sin, is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church. Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. By receiving more frequently through this sacrament the gift of the Father’s mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as he is merciful. (CCC 1422-60)

 

Fr Martin

1st Sunday of Advent

 1st December 2019

Pastor’s Corner

 

Today we begin a new season of Advent in which we are to once again seize the grace offered in making a new beginning in our spiritual lives as Christians. In a few weeks’ time we will celebrate the coming of Jesus in the flesh at Christmas. Prior to this we will be anticipating the final coming of Jesus in our world at the end of time. These are big themes! We are encouraged to see the beauty and the urgency of conforming our lives to this reality. The Gospel asks us to ‘stay awake’; meaning to see in what ways God can help us to grow more deeply in lives of faith, hope and love and be part of the saving mission of the Church in this world as we wait for Christ’s return. The words below come from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and invite us to make our own the prayer at the end of the Bible ‘Maranatha’: Come Lord Jesus!

 

The petition is “Maranatha,” and it is the cry of the Spirit and the Bride saying: “Come, Lord Jesus.” Even if the Church had not been prescribed to pray for the coming of the kingdom, we would willingly have brought forth this speech, eager to embrace our hope. In the Lord’s Prayer, “thy kingdom come” refers primarily to the final coming of the reign of God through Christ’s return. But, far from distracting the Church from her mission in this present world, this desire commits her to it all the more strongly. Since Pentecost, the coming of that Reign is the work of the Spirit of the Lord who “completes his work on earth and brings us the fullness of grace.  The kingdom of God is ‘righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit’.

 

The end-time in which we live is the age of the outpouring of the Spirit. Ever since Pentecost, a decisive battle has been joined between ‘the flesh’ and the Spirit. Only a pure soul can boldly say: “Thy kingdom come.” One who has heard Paul say, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies,” and has purified himself in action, thought and word will say to God: “Thy kingdom come!” Through discernment according to the Spirit, Christians have to distinguish between the growth of the Reign of God and the progress of the culture and society in which they are involved. This distinction is not a separation. Man’s vocation to eternal life does not suppress, but actually reinforces, his duty to put into action in this world the energies and means received from the Creator to serve justice and peace. This petition is taken up and granted in the prayer of Jesus which is present and effective in the Eucharist; it bears its fruit in new life in keeping with the Beatitudes.  By this petition, the Church looks first to Christ’s return and the final coming of the Reign of God. It also prays for the growth of the Kingdom of God in the “today” of our own lives.(CCC 2817 – 59)

 

    Fr Martin

Sunday 24th November 2019

Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Thy kingdom come

This week we have reached the final feast of our liturgical year, the feast which ‘crowns’ all other feasts: Christ the King. We are all subjects of the kingdom of Jesus. This is Good News because to be his subjects means to receive his help and to live a life of meaningful love. What a privilege! Below we find words from one of the early Church Fathers, Origen. These are from the Divine Office chosen for this day in the Office of Readings.

The coming of the kingdom of God, says our Lord and Saviour, does not admit of observation, and there will be no-one to say “Look here! Look there!” For the kingdom of God is within us and in our hearts. And so it is beyond doubt that whoever prays for the coming of the kingdom of God within himself is praying rightly, praying for the kingdom to dawn in him, bear fruit and reach perfection. For God reigns in every saint, and every saint obeys God’s spiritual laws — God, who dwells in him just as he dwells in any well-ordered city. The Father is present in him and in his soul Christ reigns alongside the Father, as it is said: We will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Therefore, as we continue to move forward without ceasing, the kingdom of God within us will reach its perfection in us at that moment when the saying in the Apostle is fulfilled, that Christ, his enemies all made subject to him, shall deliver the kingdom to God the Father that God may be all in all. For this reason, let us pray without ceasing, our souls filled by a desire made divine by the Word himself. Let us pray to our Father in heaven: hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come.

There is something important that we need to understand about the kingdom of God: just as righteousness has no partnership with lawlessness, just as light has nothing in common with darkness and Christ has no agreement with Belial, so the kingdom of God and a kingdom of sin cannot co-exist. So if we want God to reign within us, on no account may sin rule in our mortal body but let us mortify our earthly bodies and let us be made fruitful by the Spirit. Then we will be a spiritual garden of Eden for God to walk in. God will rule in us with Christ who will be seated in us on the right hand of God — God, the spiritual power that we pray to receive — until he makes his enemies (who are within us) into his footstool and pours out on us all authority, all power, all strength. This can happen to any one of us and death, the last enemy may be destroyed, so that in us Christ says Death, where is your sting? Death, where is your victory? So let our corruptibility be clothed today with holiness and in corruption. With Death dead, let our mortality be cloaked in the Father’s immortality. With God ruling in us, let us be immersed in the blessings of regeneration and resurrection. (From a discourse of Origen on prayer)                                                                

                                                                                                            

 

 

Sunday 17th November 2019

As we come to the close of our liturgical year and prepare to begin the season of Advent very soon we are encouraged to think of our lives in ultimate terms. In the month of November, we remember the souls of the faithful departed and we think of the reality of the afterlife. This Sunday begins the last week of the Church’s year and will conclude with the great celebration of Jesus Christ, Eternal King, next Sunday. We might already have this in mind this week and so below are some words to help us to prepare for this feast. This week is an opportunity for all of us to give thanks to God for all the blessings of this year and to pray for the year ahead. We do all this knowing that Jesus is our King of Kings and his all-powerful love can do all things for us and for our world.

The prophet Isaiah says: “My thoughts are not your thoughts; my ways are not your ways. As high as the heavens are above the earth, my ways are above your ways; my thoughts above your thoughts.” Human kings and leaders can often follow the ways of the world, not the ways of God. So it could be an anomaly, a contradiction, to think of Jesus as a king because right away, we think of those aspects of earthly kings – power, possessions and prestige – and make that Jesus’ way. It’s not, if we’re going to follow the way of Jesus and live Christianity rather than simply hold it up as an ideal. Each of us is called now to try to live the way of Jesus and really change according to his ways, his thoughts.

As we are called to contemplate the Feast of Christ the King, we can acknowledge that Jesus wanted to be a servant of all. He rejected excessive wealth; he wanted everyone to share in the goods of the world that God made for all, and not for a few. Above all, Jesus rejected violence. He chose the way of sacrificial suffering and death, showing forth love for those who were doing this to him. He was willing to suffer rather than inflict suffering; willing to be killed rather than kill, because he knew that the way of active love was the only way to transform our world into the reign of God.

So even though we celebrate Jesus as king, we must recognize not a king according to the ways of the world. He brings about the reign of God, which is where God’s ways permeate our ways, God’s thoughts become our thoughts, and this way leads to the fullness of life, peace in this world, and peace forever in the reign of God. If we follow his way, we will enter into that fullness of life, his risen life. We can even begin to live according to the reign of God now — an experience of peace and the joy that is the promise of that reign forever. (Bishop Thomas Gumbleton: National Catholic Reporter)                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Fr Martin

 

 

Remembrance Sunday 10th November 2019

 

Pastor’s Corner

 

We are very blessed in this parish to have such a beautiful example of the work of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society. These generous souls take it upon themselves to regularly visit the housebound and elderly members of the parish, bringing them comfort, conversation, consolation and Holy Communion. Our SVP group are a wonderful example of Christian charity and love. They also support each other and endeavour to always visit people in pairs so that they can help each other to be encouraged in this important work.  Each one of us is a day older today than we were yesterday. One day we may be very grateful that such generous souls come to us to speak to us of the love of God and help us to feel wanted and cherished. This month turns our thoughts towards the aging process and the mystery of our lives as they reach that stage in which we are being prepared for the final steps in our pilgrimage to the our Father’s house and our heavenly home. How important it is to love and care for those who have lived good lives and anticipate that they are closer to their heavenly birthday than their earthly one! A sign of a healthy society is one which cares for life at every stage, especially for the most vulnerable and in need. The poem below provides a version of the Beatitudes for those who care for the elderly.

 

Blessed In Aging by Esther Mary Walker

Blessed are they who understand

My faltering step and shaking hand

Blessed, who know my ears today

Must strain to hear the things they say

Blessed are those who seem to know

My eyes are dim and my mind is slow

Blessed are those who looked away

When I spilled my tea today

Blessed are they who, with cheery smile

Stopped to chat for a little while

Blessed are they who know the way

To bring back memories of yesterday

Blessed are those who never say

“You’ve told that story twice today”

Blessed are they who make it known

That I am loved, respected and not alone

And blessed are they who will ease the days

Of my journey home, in loving ways

 

Sunday 3rd November 2019

Pastor’s Corner

 

As we approach the culmination of our liturgical year and begin the new year with the season of Advent, we turn our mind towards heaven and contemplate our final destiny. In this month of November we therefore think about and pray for those who have gone before us. We celebrate the feast Of All Saints and All Souls and we spend the time praying especially for the souls of the faithful departed and all souls still in need of God’s mercy to reach their final resting place. Below are two pieces of writing which speak to us of this part of our Catholic tradition.

 

The month of November is dedicated to the Holy Souls in Purgatory. The Church commemorates all her faithful children who have departed from this life, but have not yet attained the joys of heaven. St. Paul warns us that we must not be ignorant concerning the dead, nor sorrowful, “even as others who have no hope … For the Lord Himself shall come down from heaven … and the dead who are in Christ shall rise. The Church has always taught us to pray for those who have gone into eternity. Even in the Old Testament prayers and alms were offered for the souls of the dead by those who thought “well and religiously concerning the resurrection.” It was believed that “they who had fallen asleep with godliness had great grace laid up for them” and that “it is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.” We know that a defiled soul cannot enter into heaven.                                                                                             www.catholicculture.org

 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, (n. 1030-1031) asserts, “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven … From the beginning the Church has honoured the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God. The Church also commends alms-giving, indulgences and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead.”

 

Physical death is common to the entire humankind but faith in the Risen Lord, who wields power over death, will enable the believer to share in eternal light and in the joys and blessings of the life to come. In the light of the saving event centred on Christ, we see physical death as a supreme participation in Christ’s paschal mystery that leads to eternal life and glory. The death of a Christian is filled with hope in Christ’s resurrection and in our own resurrection. St. Paul affirmed with faith, “With God on our side, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). Thanks to Jesus Christ death is not an eternal darkness for a true believer; but it is a spiritual journey of return to our Creator God, the source of life and light. Death is a homecoming, an experience of deep communion with God, through Christ, the resurrection and the life, in the power of the life giving Spirit.

www.ourladyoflourdeschurch.org.uk

 

May the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.

27TH OCTOBER 2019

Pastor’s Corner

 

This coming week we celebrate the great Solemnity of All Saints, when we remember all those generous souls who have allowed God great freedom in their lives to make them saints through both the ordinary and extraordinary circumstances of every day. We too are called to follow this path and by God’s grace find the joy and peace of knowing that we are truly living the lives God wants us to live. Below are some words from Fr Tommy Lane from Ireland to help us prepare for Friday’s feast.

 

The Solemnity of All Saints reminds us of who we are and what a bright future can be ours. As we celebrate all the saints, both those canonised and those who are unknown, we are joyful that they have reached the goal of life, heaven. They remind us to keep our sights fixed high, to remember who we are and the glorious possibility that God offers us.

 

The saints encourage us in our own struggles because like us they also endured struggles, they grew from strength to strength, they matured in the Lord as they grew in years. The Curé of Ars struggled with learning while in seminary. St. Thérèse wrote in her autobiography that after the death of her mother, “I, once so full of life, became timid and retiring, sensitive to an excessive degree. One look was enough to reduce me to tears.” (Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux, Third Edition pp34-35) She went on to become the Little Flower of Jesus whose relics even stopped the traffic on Fifth Avenue New York because so many people came to venerate her. St. Augustine struggled with impurity in his youth. As a teenager he was influenced by the loose living of his companions. He underwent a conversion in Milan and went on to become a priest at the age of 36 and a bishop at the age of 41, and was Bishop of Hippo in North Africa for 35 years. St. Ignatius of Loyola had a colourful past before his conversion. In 1515 Ignatius and his brother Pedro Lopez were arrested and prosecuted for nocturnal misdemeanours that were outrageous. Ignatius says up to his twenty-sixth year he was given to worldly vanities. He was proud, sensuous, and driven by violent and powerful impulses, he demanded adventure and glory. But after his conversion he noticed that contemplating the lives of the saints brought him a joy he did not find when dwelling on worldly matters. At his death in 1556 the Society of Jesus, which he founded, had 1000 members with 100 houses throughout the world. We see this same journey of growth in the lives of all the saints.

 

The saints remind us to keep our sights fixed high, to remember who we are and the glorious possibility that God offers us. We know that they are praying for us. We hope and pray that all those near and dear to us who have departed are already or will be numbered among the saints and so we pray for them especially during this next month. We too are called to live lives of fidelity to the Gospel loving God and our neighbour as Jesus taught us. Let us pray for the grace to desire to be truly ourselves and so become the saint that God calls us to be.  (Fr. Tommy Lane)

20TH OCTOBER 2019

Pastor’s Corner

 

This Sunday we celebrate ‘World Mission Sunday’ in which we are encouraged to see our place as part of the worldwide mission of the Church to bring the Good News to all. Our second collection goes towards supporting the work of ‘Missio’ and the missionary work of the Church overseas. Below are some words from the Missio website about this special Sunday.

 

World Mission Sunday is on the penultimate Sunday in October each year. It’s the one Sunday in the year when the entire global Church comes together to support mission. And every single donation from these worldwide Masses goes to support churches, hospitals, schools and vocations in countries where the Church is new, young or poor. Every Catholic community, in every country, sends a powerful message of faith, hope and love on this special day. This is our chance to show love and solidarity to our global Church family. Through our prayers, we support missionaries everywhere in spreading the Good News. And by donating we respond to Christ’s call to feed the hungry and clothe the naked.

 

As the Pope’s official charity for mission, Missio is proud to help everyone get behind this world wide initiative. Missio works with the Missio family around the world to bring the church together in compassion and communion. Together, they coordinate World Mission Sunday and provide mission dioceses with the essential support they need to become self-sufficient. They work with local bishops, churches and missionary congregations, to distribute resources and funds fairly on the basis of need. And all donations go directly from England and Wales to the bishops in the mission territories: local church directly helping local church!

 

‘All of us who believe in Jesus Christ as Son of God and Saviour received our faith from God through those missionaries, who long ago left their homes and families to share their faith with those in foreign lands. I have seen the fruit of that work in many countries in Africa and Asia, where there is a host of young and dynamic Catholic communities committed to following Jesus Christ. Yet we must not make the mistake of assuming that mission abroad has no place in our modern world. The Holy Father challenges us to be in a permanent state of mission, for “each of us is a mission to the world, for each of us is the fruit of God’s love”. says Fr Anthony Chantry, Missio’s National Director.

 

 

13TH OCTOBER 2019

Traditionally this month is one of the months of the year in which the faithful of the Church particularly draw closer to our Blessed Mother. From the earliest time we have evidence that believers have turned to the prayers of the Virgin Mary as a source of strength and encouragement. The Rosary forms a very important aspect of that devotional practice and many people have found in it a sure support and a beautiful way to be close to the heart of Our Lady. The following article encourages us to consider again the place of the Rosary in our own prayer life. This month would be a good time to begin again the practice of bringing the Blessed Virgin Mary more deeply into our prayer life. Let us ask her to help us, her children, to take up this powerful and fruitful prayer bequeathed to us by our ancestors in the Faith.

 

‘The month of October is dedicated to the Holy Rosary. According to an account by fifteenth-century Dominican, Alan de la Roch, Mary appeared to St. Dominic in 1206 after he had been praying and doing severe penances because of his lack of success in combating the Albigensian heresy. Mary praised him for his valiant fight against the heretics and then gave him the Rosary as a mighty weapon, explained its uses and efficacy, and told him to preach it to others. Since the prayers of the Rosary come from such excellent sources — from Our Lord Himself, from inspired Scripture, and from the Church — it is not surprising that the Rosary is so dear to our Blessed Mother and so powerful with heaven.

 

If we consider the power of the Rosary as seen in its effects, we find a great abundance of proofs of its wonderful value. Many are the favours granted to private individuals through its devout recitation: there are few devoted users of the Rosary who cannot testify to experiencing its power in their own lives. If we turn to history, we see many great triumphs of the Rosary. Early tradition attributes the defeat of the Albigensians at the Battle of Muret in 1213 to the Rosary. But even those who do not accept this tradition will admit that St. Pius V attributed the great defeat of the Turkish fleet on the first Sunday of October, 1571, to the fact that at the same time the Rosary confraternities at Rome and elsewhere were holding their processions. Today, when dangers far greater than those of the ancient Turks threaten not only Christianity but all civilization, we are urged by our Blessed Mother to turn again to the Rosary for help. If people in sufficient numbers do this, and at the same time live a faithful Christian life, we have the greater reason for confidence that we will be delivered from our dangers.’ (Mary in our Life by Fr. William G. Most)

 

 

6TH OCTOBER 2019

 

WITHOUT FAITH IN GOD

our week would be:

Sinday!

Mournday!

Tearsday!

Wasteday!

Thirstday!

Fightday!

Shatterday!

Seven days without God

makes one weak!

“LORD,INCREASE OUR FAITH!”

 

 

29TH September 2019

A new saint for England!

This week we hear a pastoral letter from Archbishop Vincent Nichols, helping us to prepare for the upcoming canonisation of Blessed John Henry Newman in Rome on Sunday 13th October. There is a novena which has been provided which can be found at the following source: https://www.newmancanonisation.com/novena This would be a very fruitful and prayerful way to prepare for this great moment in the life of the English Church. Cardinal Newman (1801 – 1890) was at the forefront of the Oxford Movement whilst he attended Oxford University as an Anglican clergyman. During this time he sought to find a more satisfying connection between the Anglican tradition he practised and the wider Catholic Church. This led him to eventually embrace the Catholic Faith, which led to a prolific life of preaching, pastoral care, writing and ultimately, holiness. He is a great sign of hope for the eventual unity of the Church in these lands, the unity for which Jesus Christ prayed. The following writing gives more details about Newman’s life and the miracles accepted as part of his cause for sainthood.

The first miracle attributed to Blessed John Henry’s intercession was the curing of a deacon from Boston, Massachusetts, of a crippling spinal disease. Secondly the Archdiocese of Chicago investigated the inexplicable healing of a woman who prayed for Newman’s intercession after suffering with a “life-threatening pregnancy”. Doctors who treated her reported that they had no explanation for her sudden recovery as she was healed from  “suffering from unstoppable internal bleeding”. These two miracles provided the necessary requirements for Cardinal Newman to firstly be beatified and then considered for sainthood. This along with a life of ‘heroic virtue’.

Blessed John Henry Newman was one of the most prominent converts to Catholicism from Anglicanism of the 19th century. He was already an esteemed Anglican theologian when he founded the Oxford Movement to return the Church of England to its Catholic roots, before converting to the Catholic faith. He was renowned as a brilliant thinker and was made a cardinal by Pope Leo XIII. He died in Birmingham in 1890, aged 89, after founding the Birmingham Oratory. His prolific and original writings have led to many to call for him to be declared a Doctor of the Church. Pope Benedict XVI beatified Newman in Birmingham in 2010 after the Vatican approved the first miracle, the inexplicable healing of Deacon Jack Sullivan, an American who recovered from a crippling spinal condition. (Catholic Herald)

 

         Fr Martin

23RD JUNE 2019

CORPUS CHRISTI

 

Dear Parishioners,

This week we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi, when we especially give thanks for the unsurpassed gift of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Below is a quotation from the great theologian St Thomas Aquinas describing the difference between the natural process of eating and what happens when we enter into a holy communion with God by receiving the gift of his Son in Holy Communion at Mass:

“Material food first changes into the one who eats it, and then, as a consequence, restores to him lost strength and increases his vitality. Spiritual food, on the other hand, changes the person who eats it into itself. Thus the effect proper to this Sacrament is the conversion of a man into Christ, so that he may no longer live, but Christ lives in him; consequently, it has the double effect of restoring the spiritual strength he had lost by his sins and defects, and of increasing the strength of his virtues.” St. Thomas Aquinas

One of the extraordinary features of our faith is the phenomenon of Eucharistic miracles. This describes when consecrated hosts manifest signs of being made of human flesh and blood. The extract below provides surprising information which unites the numerous occurrences of this type:

Over the centuries, there have been numerous reports of consecrated Hosts turning to physical flesh and blood. One such miracle happened in 8th Century Lanciano, where a priest who was doubting the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist saw the bread and wine transform into human flesh and blood as he said the words of consecration. Over 1,200 years later, that flesh has not decomposed and is still preserved at the Church of San Francesco in the Italian town. Odoardo Linoli, a professor of anatomy, conducted a scientific analysis in 1971 and concluded the flesh was human cardiac tissue of blood group AB. The blood was still fresh, yet contained no trace of preservatives.

The AB blood group, which is relatively uncommon, does indeed keep appearing in reported miracles. In 1996, a woman approached a priest in a Buenos Aires parish to say she had found a desecrated Host in a candleholder at the back of the church. When the priest put the Host in a glass of water to dissolve, as is specified in canon law, it appeared to turn into a piece of bloody flesh. Three years later, after the flesh had not decomposed, a certain Bishop Jorge Bergoglio sent a sample for testing in California. The results came back that the blood was group AB, and was indeed human.

Another sample was later to Dr Zugiba of Columbia University, a renowned cardiologist, who concluded the tissue was a fragment of heart muscle that had “been under severe stress, as if the owner had been beaten severely about the chest”. A later analysis of the results from the Buenos Aires miracle and that of the Lanciano miracle over a millennium earlier, found the tissue samples had the same DNA. Meanwhile, tests in the mid-1990s on a third miracle, the Corporal of Bolsena (13th century), also found that traces of blood were group AB, the same result as tests on blood specks on the Shroud of Turin among others. As the Church celebrates the feast of Corpus Christi, Catholics should remember this key doctrine of the faith – scientifically verified, it seems.

St Thomas More’s feast day is June 22. He is the patron saint of adopted children, lawyers, civil servants, politicians, and difficult marriages. He was executed in 1535 for opposing the actions of King Henry VIII and he was canonized on May 19th, 1935 by Pope Pius XI. 

Pick up a booklet from the narthex table on the life of St Thomas More.

 

Happy Feast day to all the parishioners of St Thomas More Parish.

May his prayers guide and sustain us

         Fr Martin

 

16TH JUNE 2019

THE MOST HOLY TRINITY

Dear Parishioners,

This week we celebrate the feast of the Holy Trinity. Fr Michael Gaitley writes: ‘the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that, by far, the most important mystery of our faith is the Most Holy Trinity: The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in Himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the “hierarchy of the truths of faith” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 234). The Trinity really is the “one thing.” It’s the mystery of our faith that’s the source of all the other mysteries and shines light on them all. The Catechism describes the Trinity as God’s “innermost secret,” which is that “God Himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit … .” The Catechism then goes on to say: “… and He has destined us to share in that exchange” (Catechism, 221).’

         Fr Martin

9TH JUNE 2019

PENTECOST SUNDAY

Dear Parishioners,

This week we celebrate the culmination of Eastertide with the feast of Pentecost. When we use the word ‘inspiration’ we are actually talking about being filled with and helped by the Holy Spirit in a special way. As the people of God we are invited to pray to be ‘in-spired’ by the Holy Spirit to know how to live our lives in the best way. Our Christian belief is that the best way to live is to know we are created and loved by God, who is our Father. We discover this through coming to know his merciful love given to us through the gift of his Son, Jesus. The Spirit helps us to receive the gift of new life won by Jesus on the Cross and in his Resurrection. Like the Apostles, we can pray with Mary to be inspired by the Holy Spirit to continue the mission of the Church to share this message in our age.

When the Son completed the work with which the Father had entrusted him on earth, the Holy Spirit was sent on the day of Pentecost to sanctify the Church unceasingly, and thus enable believers to have access to the Father through Christ in the one Spirit. He is the Spirit of life, the fountain of water welling up to give eternal life. Through him the Father gives life to men, dead because of sin, until he raises up their mortal bodies in Christ. The Spirit dwells in the Church and in the hearts of the faithful as in a temple. He prays in them and bears witness in them to their adoption as his sons and daughters. He leads the Church into all truth and gives it unity in communion and in service. He endows it with different hierarchical and charismatic gifts, directs it by their means, and enriches it with his fruits. By the power of the Gospel he enables the Church to grow young, perpetually renews it, and leads it to complete union with its Bridegroom. For the Spirit and the Bride say to the Lord Jesus: “Come!” In this way the Church reveals itself as a people whose unity has its source in the unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (Lumen Gentium – Vatican II)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Fr Martin

 

2ND JUNE 2019

7TH SUNDAY OF EASTER

Dear Parishioners,

As the people of God we are now in the time of praying for the Holy Spirit to come once again to the Church to renew us and to renew the face of the earth. The Holy Spirit, poured out on the Church at Pentecost, is the one who helps us to know the love of God and to live the Christian life. We are given the Holy Spirit in Baptism and Confirmation, but we can also especially pray as we prepare to celebrate the feast of Pentecost next week, to receive this necessary gift to help us in our lives. The following words from the Catechism of the Catholic Church teach us about the mission of the Holy Spirit:

The One whom the Father has sent into our hearts, the Spirit of his Son, is truly God. Consubstantial with the Father and the Son, the Spirit is inseparable from them, in both the inner life of the Trinity and his gift of love for the world. When the Father sends his Word, he always sends his Breath. In their joint mission, the Son and the Holy Spirit are distinct but inseparable. To be sure, it is Christ who is seen, the visible image of the invisible God, but it is the Spirit who reveals him… When Jesus Christ is finally glorified, he can in turn send the Spirit from his place with the Father to those who believe in him: he communicates to them his glory, that is, the Holy Spirit who glorifies him. From that time on, this joint mission will be manifested in the children adopted by the Father in the Body of his Son: the mission of the Spirit of adoption is to unite them to Christ and make them live in him. (689 & 690)

26TH MAY 2019

6TH SUNDAY OF EASTER

Dear Parishioners,

This week in Eastertide we celebrate the feast of Our Lord’s Ascension into heaven. The Bishops of England and Wales have reinstated this feast as a holy day of obligation so that it comes nine days before Pentecost. This is its original position so that it allows for the first ‘Novena’: nine days of praying for the gift of the Holy Spirit to be renewed in our lives. Below is a prayer that we could pray during this time between the two feasts.

Holy Spirit, third Person of the Blessed Trinity, Spirit of truth, love and holiness, proceeding from the Father and the Son, and equal to Them in all things, I adore You and love You with all my heart. Dearest Holy Spirit, confiding in your deep, personal love for me, I am making this novena for the following request, if it should be Your holy Will to grant it: (mention your request). Teach me, Divine Spirit, to know and seek my last end; grant me the holy fear of God; grant me true contrition and patience. Do not let me fall into sin. Give me an increase of faith, hope, and charity, and bring forth in my soul all the virtues proper to my state of life. Make me a faithful disciple of Jesus and an obedient child of the Church and of Immaculate Mary, my Blessed Mother. Give me efficacious grace sufficient to keep the commandments and to receive the sacraments worthily. Give me the four Cardinal Virtues, Your Seven Gifts and Your Nine Fruit in my life. Raise me to perfection in the state of life to which You have called me and lead me through a happy death to everlasting life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

                                                            Fr Martin

19TH MAY 2019

5TH SUNDAY OF EASTER

Dear Parishioners,

This week the parish celebrates the First Holy Communion of some of our younger parishioners. It is one of the most important days of their young lives and will remain one of the most important days forever. Let us keep them in our prayers that they may be filled with joy at this special time. May this wonderful gift also be a blessing for all their families who have loved and supported them and are endeavouring to pass on to them the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith.

The Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith: it is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Pope Francis has called it the “Sacrament of Love”. Jesus comes to us in a unique way into our body and soul in the Eucharist. This is why the first time a family member makes their Holy Communion, it is an exciting event for the whole family. The boy or girl preparing for this sacrament is going to be profoundly united with Jesus in a way that they never have before! St. Mother Teresa said: “Jesus has made Himself the Bread of Life to give us life. Night and day, He is there. If you really want to grow in love, come back to the Eucharist.” (Catholic Company)

Fr Martin

12TH MAY 2019

4TH SUNDAY OF EASTER

Dear Parishioners,

Below are some reflections this week for ‘Good Shepherd’ Sunday. The Church is the flock which belongs to Jesus Christ, The Good Shepherd. Today we also pray for all the priests and shepherds of the Church and also for new vocations to help with the mission of the Church.

‘Like most people today, chances are you do not know any shepherds. For the first Christians, who were familiar with shepherds, the Good Shepherd was a favourite image to associate with Christ. In fact, the earliest Christian art depicts Christ as the Good Shepherd, not the crucified Saviour. In the Old Testament God was called a shepherd, and God’s people the flock. For instance, in Psalm 23 the psalmist sings that the shepherd leads him to green pastures near refreshing waters. According to the Gospels, Jesus referred to himself as a shepherd. He said, “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). A shepherd knows his sheep well. There is a personal relationship between Jesus and his followers. Jesus knows each of us by name. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). Unlike a hired hand who flees to save his life, Jesus saved his flock from the wolf even though it meant sacrificing his own life.

Knowing about shepherds sheds light on the image of Jesus as shepherd. The shepherd uses a staff with a hook on the end to guide the sheep and pull back the stray. Today Jesus guides his flock through bishops, who are known as pastors, the Latin for shepherds. Bishops carry staffs called crosiers. The shepherd has a rod to fend off wild animals that might harm the flock. Jesus saved us from evil. Jesus restores our souls. Shepherds feed their flocks. Jesus feeds us with the excellent bread of the Eucharist and brings us to living waters: baptism and the Holy Spirit. The image of shepherds is that they are kind, loving, patient, strong, and self-sacrificing, and Jesus is the best shepherd of all. Let’s remember always: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.’ (From Loyola Press)

Fr Martin

5TH MAY 2019

3RD SUNDAY OF EASTER

Dear Parishioners,

In this Sunday’s Gospel we hear Jesus asking Peter ‘Do you love me?’ Peter is given a chance to be reconciled with Jesus after having denied him three times before his Crucifixion. Jesus shows Peter that he is always ready to forgive but that love must be restored between them. Our Christian faith tells us that love is the centre and the meaning of our existence. In his 1st Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict wrote about the love of God at the heart of our faith. May his words below help us to live our Christian lives this Eastertide. May Mary, who is Queen of Love, help us in this month dedicated to her to find our fulfilment in loving God and our neighbour.

“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 Jn 4:16). These words from the First Letter of John express with remarkable clarity the heart of the Christian faith: the Christian image of God and the resulting image of mankind and its destiny. In the same verse, Saint John also offers a kind of summary of the Christian life: “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us”.

We have come to believe in God’s love: in these words the Christian can express the fundamental decision of his life. Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. Saint John’s Gospel describes that event in these words: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should … have eternal life” (3:16). In acknowledging the centrality of love, Christian faith has retained the core of Israel’s faith, while at the same time giving it new depth and breadth. The pious Jew prayed daily the words of the Book of Deuteronomy which expressed the heart of his existence: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your might” (6:4-5). Jesus united into a single precept this commandment of love for God and the commandment of love for neighbour found in the Book of Leviticus: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (19:18; cf. Mk 12:29-31). Since God has first loved us (cf. 1 Jn 4:10), love is now no longer a mere “command”; it is the response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us.

In a world where the name of God is sometimes associated with vengeance or even a duty of hatred and violence, this message is both timely and significant. For this reason, I speak of the love which God lavishes upon us and which we in turn must share with others.

Fr Martin

21ST APRIL 2019

EASTER SUNDAY

Dear Parishioners,

Alleluia Surrexit Christus, Alleluia!

This day we celebrate the Church’s greatest cry – Surrexit Christus, Christ is risen, Alleluia! This is the Gospel message, the Good News, that in Jesus, God has defeated sin and death and through him we are now born into eternal life. The Resurrection means that there is always hope, there is always a new start with God and death does not need to have the last word. For this we sing out ‘Alleluia’ in thanksgiving to God for his mercies and in joyful expectation of all that he is yet to do in our lives and our world. Below is a prayer of an ancient author to mark the great gift of knowing that Jesus is risen from the dead.

O Lord, drive away the darkness from our minds with the light of your wisdom, so that enlightened in this way we may serve you with renewed purity. The beginning of the sun’s passage through the sky marks the beginning of the working-day for us mortals: we ask you, Lord, to prepare in our minds a place where the day that knows no end may give its light. Grant that we may have within us this light, the life of the resurrection, and that nothing may take away our delight in you. Mark us with the sign of that day that does not begin with the movement and the course of the sun, by keeping our minds fixed on you.

 By the grace of baptism we conceal within our bodies the treasure of your divine life. This treasure increases as we eat at the table of your sacraments. Let us appreciate the great beauty that is ours through the spiritual beauty that your immortal will arouses in our mortal nature. Your crucifixion, Lord, was the end of your bodily life: help us to crucify our will to give birth to the spiritual life. May your Resurrection, Jesus, fill our spirits with greatness: may we see in your sacraments a mirror in which we may be able to recognize the Resurrection.

 Your divine ordering of the world, O Saviour, is the image of the spiritual world: let us live in it as truly spiritual people. Do not take away from our minds, Lord, the signs of your spiritual presence and do not withdraw from our bodies the warmth and delight of your presence. The mortal nature of our bodies is a source of corruption within us: let the outpouring of the spirit of your love wipe away the effect of mortality from our hearts. Grant, Lord, that we may hasten to our true home, and, like Moses on the mountain-top, let us have a glimpse of it.

 (St Ephraim the Syrian 306-373AD)

A very happy and blessed Easter to all the family of St Thomas More’s parish, Eastcote.

May the light of Christ shine in our hearts.

 

Fr Martin

 

 

PALM SUNDAY

Dear Parishioners,

 

At this time in our liturgical year we approach the great feast of Easter and our redemption accomplished by the death and Resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God. Our Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday as we recall the triumphant entrance into Jerusalem of Jesus as he is hailed as the Messiah. Yet this acclaim is drastically contrasted in only a few days as the same Jesus becomes the victim of hatred and rejection and is led to his crucifixion. Jesus allows himself to be bound and taken and offers his life as the Lamb of God, to take upon himself the sins of all the world. This is to give to the world his divine merciful love as a medicine for evil and sin and to restore us again into communion with god our loving Father. In our own days, a way we have been given to explore and benefit from the depths of this mystery of our salvation, has been through the devotion of the Divine Mercy. Below is a brief summary of this spiritual message.

The message of The Divine Mercy is simple. It is that God loves us – all of us. And, he wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sins, so that we will call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow through us to others. Thus, all will come to share His joy. The Divine Mercy message is one we can call to mind simply by remembering ABC:
A – Ask for His Mercy. God wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and upon the whole world.

B – Be merciful. God wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us.

C – Completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive.

This message and devotion to Jesus as The Divine Mercy is based on the writings of Saint Faustina Kowalska (1905-38), an uneducated Polish nun who, in obedience to her spiritual director, wrote a diary of about 600 pages recording the revelations she received about God’s mercy. Even before her death, the devotion to The Divine Mercy had begun to spread. The message and devotional practices proposed in the Diary of Saint Faustina are completely in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church and are firmly rooted in the Gospel message of our Merciful Saviour. Properly understood and implemented, they will help us grow as genuine followers of Christ. Why not take time during this Holy Week to learn more about the mercy of God, learn to trust in Jesus, and live your life as merciful to others, as Christ is merciful to you?

 

7TH APRIL 2019

5TH SUNDAY OF LENT – C

Dear Parishioners,

Jesus told his followers that they must become like little children if they were to understand his teaching and follow him into the Kingdom. Our practice of the faith at the heart of our complicated lives should offer something eminently simple. Below are the suggestions of a priest regarding what he called ‘The Apostolate of Smiling’. The simple practice of smiling is shown to be one that can change our own lives and the lives of others. Characteristic of our belief in God should be the ‘joy of the Gospel’ that comes from knowing God’s merciful love in our lives. Let us ask for the grace to receive and live this joy especially as the great feast of Easter approaches.

JUST A LITTLE SMILE ON YOUR LIPS: Cheers your heart, Keeps you in good humour, Preserves peace in your soul, Promotes your health, Beautifies your face, Induces kindly thoughts, Inspires kindly deeds.

SMILE TO YOURSELF: until you notice that your constant seriousness, or even severity, has vanished. SMILE TO YOURSELF: until you have warmed your own heart with the sunshine of your cheery countenance. Then go out and radiate your smile.

YOUR SMILE: has to do, work to do for God. You are an apostle now, and your smile is your instrument for winning souls. Sanctifying Grace dwelling in your soul will give the special charm to your smile which will render it productive of much good.

SMILE – on the lonely faces, SMILE – on the timid faces, SMILE – on the sorrowful faces, SMILE – on the sickly faces, SMILE – on the fresh young faces, SMILE – on the wrinkled old faces, SMILE – on the familiar faces of your family and friends – let all enjoy the beauty and inspiring cheer on your smiling face.

COUNT: If you will, the number of smiles your smile has drawn from others in one day. The number will represent how many times you have promoted contentment, joy, satisfaction, encouragement, or confidence in the hearts of others. These good dispositions always give birth to unselfish acts and noble deeds. The influence of your smile is spreading, though you do not always see the wonder it is working.

YOUR SMILE: can bring new life and hope and courage into the hearts of the weary, the overburdened, the discouraged, the tempted, the despairing. YOUR SMILE can help to develop vocations, if you are a Priest, a Brother, or a Sister. YOUR SMILE can be the beginning of the conversions to the Faith. YOUR SMILE can prepare the way for a sinner’s return to God. YOUR SMILE can win for you a host of devoted friends.

SMILE, TOO, AT GOD: Smiling at God is a loving acceptance of whatever He sends into your life, and you will merit to have the radiantly SMILING FACE OF CHRIST gaze on you with special love throughout eternity.                                                                                                                                                                                                          (Written originally by Rev. Bruno Hagspiel)

 Fr Martin

 

31ST MARCH 2019

4TH SUNDAY OF LENT – C

Dear Parishioners,

This week we hear the parable of the Prodigal Son – below are some words from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI from his Angelus address on this fourth Sunday of Lent in 2010. He reminds us that the heart of the Gospel message comes back to mercy as we discover in our lives whether we are like the older or the younger son, we always stand in need of God’s help which always in some way comes to us as forgiving love. Pope Benedict says:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On this Fourth Sunday of Lent, the Gospel of the father and the two sons better known as the Parable of the “Prodigal Son” (Lk 15:11-32) is proclaimed. This passage of St Luke constitutes one of the peaks of spirituality and literature of all time. Indeed, what would our culture, art and more generally our civilization be without this revelation of a God the Father so full of mercy? It never fails to move us and every time we hear or read it, it can suggest to us ever new meanings. Above all, this Gospel text has the power of speaking to us of God, of enabling us to know his Face and, better still, his Heart. After Jesus has told us of the merciful Father, things are no longer as they were before. We now know God; he is our Father who out of love created us to be free and endowed us with a conscience, who suffers when we get lost and rejoices when we return. For this reason, our relationship with him is built up through events, just as it happens for every child with his parents: at first he depends on them, then he asserts his autonomy; and, in the end if he develops well he reaches a mature relationship based on gratitude and authentic love.

In these stages we can also identify moments along man’s journey in his relationship with God. There can be a phase that resembles childhood: religion prompted by need, by dependence. As man grows up and becomes emancipated, he wants to liberate himself from this submission and become free and adult, able to organize himself and make his own decisions, even thinking he can do without God. Precisely this stage is delicate and can lead to atheism, yet even this frequently conceals the need to discover God’s true Face. Fortunately for us, God never fails in his faithfulness and even if we distance ourselves and get lost he continues to follow us with his love, forgiving our errors and speaking to our conscience from within in order to call us back to him. In this parable the sons behave in opposite ways: the younger son leaves home and sinks ever lower whereas the elder son stays at home, but he too has an immature relationship with the Father. In fact, when his brother comes back, the elder brother does not rejoice like the Father; on the contrary he becomes angry and refuses to enter the house. The two sons represent two immature ways of relating to God: rebellion and childish obedience. Both these forms are surmounted through the experience of mercy. Only by experiencing forgiveness, by recognizing one is loved with a freely given love a love greater than our wretchedness but also than our own merit do we at last enter into a truly filial and free relationship with God.

Dear friends, let us meditate on this parable. Let us compare ourselves to the two sons and, especially, contemplate the Heart of the Father. Let us throw ourselves into his arms and be regenerated by his merciful love. May the Virgin Mary, Mater Misericordiae, help us to do this.

Fr Martin

 

24TH MARCH 2019

3RD SUNDAY OF LENT – C

Dear Parishioners,

This week we read the second part of Mother Teresa’s letter describing the thirst of Jesus for the love of our hearts. May her words touch us profoundly in the centre of our souls. We are made in the image of God, God who is only love. Our hearts are restless until they rest in Him. Our life’s journey is a preparation only to know the infinite love that the Father in heaven has for us. Lent is a time to grow in our awareness of the extent of this love and to prepare with grateful hearts to celebrate once more the great feast of our redemption which has restored us to communion with God by the death and Resurrection of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.

“Don’t you realise that My Father already has a perfect plan to transform your life, beginning from this moment? Trust in Me. Ask Me every day to enter and take charge of your life and I will. I promise you before My Father in Heaven that I will work miracles in your life. Why would I do this? Because I THIRST FOR YOU.  All I ask of you is that you entrust yourself to Me completely. I will do all the rest. From this moment, now, I behold the place My Father has prepared for you in My Kingdom. Remember that you are a pilgrim in this life traveling back home. Sin can never satisfy you, or bring the peace you seek. All that you have sought outside of Me has only left you more empty, so do not tie yourself to the things of this world; above all, do not run from Me when you fall. Come to Me without delay because, when you give Me your sins, you give Me the joy of being your Saviour.

There is nothing I cannot forgive and heal; so come now, and unburden your soul. No matter how far you have strayed without a destination, no matter how often you have forgotten Me, no matter how many crosses you bear in this life; I want you to always remember, one thing that will never change. I THIRST FOR YOU – just you, as you are. You don’t need to change to believe in My love, for it will be your confidence in that love that will make you change. You forget Me, and yet I am seeking you every moment of the day – standing before the doors of your heart and calling. Do you find this difficult to believe? If so, look at the Cross, look at My Heart that was pierced for you. Have you not understood My Cross? Then listen again to the words I spoke there, for they tell you clearly why I endured all this for you: “….I THIRST” (John 19: 28) YES, I THIRST FOR YOU.” St Mother Teresa

17TH MARCH 2019

2ND SUNDAY OF LENT – C

Dear Parishioners,

This week’s newsletter begins a two part presentation of a letter by St Mother Teresa of Calcutta. In every chapel of her Missionaries of Charity throughout the world there are the words of Jesus on the wall next to the crucifix ‘I thirst!’ (John 19:28) Mother Teresa understood that God thirsts for our love just as deep down we thirst for his love. Our Lenten pilgrimage is a time of realising the extent of this thirst – of God for us and of us for God. Mother Teresa writes as if it is Jesus speaking directly to us. May these words help us to prepare more deeply for the great feast of Our Lord’s loving mercy at Easter and help us to persevere in our Lenten observances.

“I know you like the palm of my hand. I know everything about you. Even the hairs of your head I have counted. Nothing in your life is unimportant to Me. I have followed you through the years and I have always loved you even when you have strayed. I know every one of your problems. I know your needs and your worries and yes,  I know all your sins. But I tell you again that I love you, not for what you have or ceased to do, I love you for you, for the beauty and the dignity My Father gave you by creating you in His own image. It is a dignity you have often forgotten, a beauty you have tarnished by sin. But I love you as you are, and I have shed My Blood to rescue you. If you only ask Me with faith, My grace will touch all that needs changing in your life: I will give you the strength to free yourself from sin and from all its destructive power.

Do you thirst for love? “Come to Me all you who thirst … ” (John 7:37).I will satisfy you and fill you. Do you thirst to be loved? I love you more than you can imagine … to the point of dying on a cross for you. I THIRST FOR YOU. Yes, that is the only way to even begin to describe My love for you.
I THIRST FOR YOU. I thirst to love you and to be loved by you . So precious are you to Me that I THIRST FOR YOU.  Come to Me, and I will fill your heart and heal your wounds. I will make you a new creation and give you peace even in your trials. I THIRST FOR YOU. You must never doubt My mercy, My desire to forgive, My longing to bless you and live My life in you, and that I accept you no matter what you have done. I THIRST FOR YOU. If you feel of little value before the eyes of the world, it doesn’t matter. There is no one that interests me in the whole world than you. I THIRST FOR YOU. Open up to Me, come to Me, thirst for Me, give me your life. I will prove to you how important you are for My Heart.”
  St Mother Teresa (Second part next week)

Fr Martin

10TH MARCH 2019

1ST SUNDAY OF LENT – C

 Dear Parishioners,

Please click on the link below and then open the pop-up document that appears at the bottom of your screen.

Pastor’s corner (2)

 Fr Martin

3RD MARCH 2019

8TH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR – C

 Dear Parishioners,

How is it that just a little over two months ago we were celebrating our faith at Christmas gathered in joy and happiness, encouraging each other to eat, drink and be merry and now we are preparing to start our Lenten journey this week by fasting and receiving ashes? It seems a stark contrast – is our Catholic Faith a happy faith or not? If it is a happy faith why are we being asked to do things we would rather not? Ashes? Fasting? These seem like gloomy things compared to what we might rather be doing with our time. However, we are familiar elsewhere with hearing about things that are good for us but don’t sound very appealing at first: detoxing, working out, going the extra mile, no pain-no gain, feel the fear and do it anyway and so on. The common wisdom here is that get to somewhere new and better we may have to reach beyond our ‘comfort zone’.

It is a bit like using muscles that have been unused for a while. Spiritually the same is true as we are asked at this time of year to begin to stretch our ‘spiritual muscles’ a bit. If this all seems a bit daunting then we need to remember that we are called to know the love of God most intimately in our hearts so that we might discover more and more what we were created for. Life has a way of cluttering up the simplicity and beauty of this destiny. The really Good News is that Christianity is based on the fact that God really wants to help us and that we are not meant to heroically strive to be a super-achiever on our own. It is only God’s grace working in our humility that fulfils the true destiny of the human creature.

Ashes? Fasting? These things are to make room for our humility to emerge, to learn to be a little less self-sufficient so that we can be more ready to receive God’s loving help in our lives. Lent is a time of preparation so that we might enter more deeply into the greatest celebration of God’s infinitely merciful love at Easter with a deeper communion and love for God and for one another in our hearts. Let us end with the sober but helpful words of one of our Church’s modern spokespersons:

“Lenten practices of giving up pleasures are good reminders that the purpose of life is not pleasure. The purpose of life is to attain to perfect life, all truth and undying ecstatic love – which is the definition of God. In pursuing that goal we find happiness. Pleasure is not the purpose of anything; pleasure is a by-product resulting from doing something that is good. One of the best ways to get happiness and pleasure out of life is to ask ourselves, ‘How can I please God?’ and, ‘Why am I not better?’ It is the pleasure-seeker who is bored, for all pleasures diminish with repetition.” Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (1895 – 1979)

Fr Martin

 

24TH FEBRUARY 2019

7TH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR – C

 Dear Parishioners,

10 quotations from St Mother Teresa of Calcutta

1) If you are judging people, you have no time to love them

2) There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread, but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality

3) I see Jesus in every human being. I say to myself, This is hungry Jesus, I must feed him. This is sick Jesus. I serve because I love Jesus

4) Be kind to each other in your homes. Be kind to those who surround you. I prefer that you make mistakes in kindness rather than that you work miracles in unkindness

5) I pray that you will understand the words of Jesus, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Ask yourself, “How has he loved me? Do I really love others in the same way?”

6)  The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, the fruit of service is peace

7) Seeking the face of God in everything, everyone, all the time, and his hand in every happening; this is what it means to be contemplative in the heart of the world

8) What you are doing I cannot do, what I’m doing you cannot do, but together we are doing something beautiful for God

9) When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed

10) Jesus wants me to tell you again … how much is the love he has for each one of you — beyond all what you can imagine. … Not only he loves you, even more — he longs for you. He misses you when you don’t come close. He thirsts for you. He loves you always, even when you don’t feel worthy

Fr Martin

 17TH FEBRUARY 2019

6TH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR – C

 Dear Parishioners,

Blessed are the poor

This Sunday’s Gospel once again puts the sayings of Jesus called the Beatitudes before us. Luke’s version reads: “Blessed are the poor…blessed those who are hungry… blessed are those who weep… blessed are the persecuted…“  Luke shows a special concern for those who materially suffer and are outcasts in society; these are the ones to whom Jesus promises God’s special blessing and help. The Beatitudes describe the contradiction which we see in the life of Jesus himself, who comes among us poor, hungry, weeping and persecuted. Through Jesus, God identifies with all those who suffer in the world in any way. Through the mystery of the Cross, Jesus is able to transform suffering into the blessing of the Resurrection. Sometimes suffering is taken away, sometimes it helps to transform a person into a more authentic and compassionate human being. Sometimes God heals, sometimes he helps through the hands of others but he will always heal the heart so that we might know his love more perfectly in our lives and reach out to others who are both materially and spiritually poor. All of this helps us to understand the mystery of God’s power being made perfect in our weakness.

The Carmelite Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897) was a spiritual genius in understanding the mystery of God’s beatitude which she formulated in what she called her ‘Little Way’. In the letter below she describes her understanding to her own sister, Sr Marie of the Sacred Heart:

Dear Sister… How can you ask me if it is possible for you to love God as I love Him?… what pleases Him is that He sees me loving my littleness and my poverty, the blind hope that I have in His mercy…. That is my only treasure… why would this treasure not be yours?… Oh, dear Sister, I beg you, understand your little girl, understand that to love Jesus, to be His victim of love, the weaker one is, without desires or virtues, the more suited one is for the workings of this consuming and transforming Love. … The desire alone to be a victim suffices, but we must consent to remain always poor and without strength…

How can this help us live our Catholic life? As a parish we are called to seek God’s will for ourselves and help others in our community as we live this together. When we know that we can rely on God’s loving power to be at work blessing our efforts which we make we can be encouraged to continue, even in the face of life’s crosses and deprivations. God is teaching us how to love. Let us pray that our parish can be a place of Beatitude as we learn to trust God and allow him to bless our weakness and all our efforts to love and serve him together.

 

Fr Martin

10TH FEBRUARY 2019

5TH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR – C

Dear Parishioners,

This Monday February 11th we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. This marks the date in 1858 when Bernadette Soubirous first saw the ‘beautiful Lady’ appear in the grotto of Massabielle. Bernadette said when trying to describe the Lady’s appearance to others: “She is so beautiful that you would want to die just to see her again!” Of course the Lady was the Blessed Virgin Mary and so began the sequence of famous apparitions which founded the shrine of Lourdes in France. Since then Millions of people have gone to the shrine and found heavenly assistance and miracles of healing through the help of ‘the Lady’. When asked further about whom the Lady was that she saw, Bernadette said that she was told by her “I am the Immaculate Conception”. This reflected the dogma that had been formally promulgated just 4 years before by the Church; that Mary was conceived immaculate and without original sin. It was clear that Bernadette would have had no real knowledge of such a thing and therefore it was a strong piece of evidence that she was really telling the truth about what she saw. The formal dogma was presented by Pope Pius IX as follows:

“We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.” Ineffabilis Deus – Papal Bull for The Immaculate Conception Pope BI. Pius IX – 1854

 Why should this be of importance to us? It is just further example of the merciful and powerful love of God for his children. Sin is the destruction of the human race and responsible for all our ills. God started again with Mary by restoring her back to the original purity of human beings. Through her purity we are able to receive the love of God made flesh in Jesus Christ and through Jesus the forgiveness of our sins and the gift of new, eternal life with God. We are encouraged as a Church to turn to Mary always with trust and faith that she will be a heavenly Mother for us in all our needs. As Pope Pius finishes: ‘Let all the children of the Catholic Church, who are so very dear to us, hear these words of ours… let them continue to venerate, invoke and pray to the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, conceived without original sin. Let them fly with utter confidence to this most sweet Mother of mercy and grace in all dangers, difficulties, needs, doubts and fears. Under her guidance, under her patronage, under her kindness and protection, nothing is to be feared; nothing is hopeless.‘

3RD FEBRUARY 2019

4TH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR – C

 Dear Parishioners,

Beauty ever ancient and ever new

It was a delight for those of us in attendance to experience the St Thomas More Carol Service at the end of last year here in the church. There was both a festive and a mystical feel to the collection of beautiful songs, readings, images and not least the contribution of our children recreating the wonder of the Bethlehem story. It helped us all to understand how the creative gifts that God has given to us as a parish can draw us together and deepen our understanding of the mystery of our faith. The Church has long held that creativity and the expression of beauty are essential means to help pass on the glory of the Christian message. Consider this week some words from Pope St John Paul II in his famous Letter to Artists, on this subject.

In order to communicate the message entrusted to her by Christ, the Church needs art. Art must make perceptible, and as far as possible attractive, the world of the spirit, of the invisible, of God. It must therefore translate into meaningful terms, that which is in itself ineffable.

Pope John Paul was calling out to artists and for all people to appreciate the need to create beautiful ways to witness to our faith. This can have a special meaning for a parish which contains so many diverse and gifted members. This summons to use the gift of beauty can give us permission to come together and seek ways to enhance our parish life by works such as our Christmas Carol Service. St John Paul continues:

God called man into existence, committing to him the craftsman’s task…and with loving regard, God the divine Artist passes on to the human artist a spark of his own surpassing wisdom, calling him to share in his creative power. 

With this in mind the Parish Pastoral Council recently met and began plans for another parish event to take place on 5th March this year. For the astute among us it will have been spotted that this is indeed Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day, called elsewhere Mardi Gras. The suitability of this night is that it is wonderful moment on the eve of Lent to remind ourselves of the gift of the beauty of our faith that comes to us through the Risen Lord Jesus. More precise details will follow but this night intends to begin with children’s activities from 5pm involving stories, music and pancakes! Then at 7.30pm there will be a service in the church of music, reflections, readings, poetry, art and prayer followed then by a parish social with drinks and food – and yes more pancakes! It promises to be a truly beautiful evening and a wonderful moment for us to come together once more as the whole parish to gratefully share in the spiritual communion of being members of the Body of Christ. For those who would like to contribute in any way, both creatively and practically, please make your self known to members of the parish council. A final word on the power and meaning of beauty from our tradition…

Beauty is a key to mystery and a call to transcendence… It stirs that hidden nostalgia for God which a lover of beauty like Saint Augustine could express in incomparable terms: “Late have I loved you, beauty ever ancient and ever new: late have I loved you!”

27TH JANUARY 2019

3RD SUNDAY OF THE YEAR – C

 Dear Parishioners,

Below are some words from the Jesuit spiritual director Jean Pierre de Caussade (1675 – 1751) on accepting the will of God as it comes to us in the everyday events of life.  We may not recognise immediately the hand of God in our daily life, but if we pray to the Holy Spirit to grant us the grace of trust and learn to pray ‘Your will be done’ we will see that God our almighty and ever loving Father make a beautiful design out of all the different aspects of our life. Like Jesus then we will be only content with doing God’s will and bringing his goodness and love to our world.

Jean Pierre de Caussade  writes: “We must offer ourselves to God like a clean, smooth canvas and not worry ourselves about what God may choose to paint on it, but at each moment, feel only the stroke of His brush … It is the same with a piece of stone. Each blow from the sculptor’s chisel makes it feel-if it could-as if it were being destroyed. As blow after blow descends, the stone knows nothing of how the sculptor is shaping it. All it feels is a chisel chopping away at it, cutting it, and shaping it. For example, let’s take a piece of stone destined to be carved into a crucifix or a statue. We might ask it: ‘What do you think is happening to you?” And it might answer: “Don’t ask me. All I know is that I must stay immobile in the hands of the sculptor … I have no idea what he is doing, nor do I know what lie will make of me. But I know his work is the best possible!”

God’s activity runs through the entire universe. It wells up around and penetrates every created being. Wherever they are, it is there also. It runs ahead of them, it stays with them, and it follows after them. All they have to do is to allow its waves to sweep them forward, fulfil the simple duties of their religion and status in life, accept cheerfully all the difficulties they meet, and surrender to the will of God in all they have to do…. This is authentic spirituality, and it is valid for all times and for everyone. We could not choose to become good in a better, more miraculous, and yet easier way than by the simple use of the means offered us by God; the whole-hearted acceptance of everything that comes to us at every moment of our lives.”                                

From ‘Abandonment To Divine Providence’

Fr Martin

20TH JANUARY 2019

2ND SUNDAY OF THE YEAR – C

 Dear Parishioners,

‘Do whatever he tells you’

As a parish we begin this New Year having celebrated the beautiful mysteries of Our Lord’s Nativity at Christmas. We now start the journey accompanied by the Church into the unknown territory of another cycle around the sun! How can we find the necessary trust and serenity from what we have been experiencing as the Body of Christ during these last weeks to help us in this – indeed in the entire journey of life? This Sunday we hear the Gospel reading of the Wedding Feast of Cana – this was also a new beginning. John tells us that this was the ‘first of the signs’ or miracles that Jesus worked in the presence of his disciples and others. By doing so he shows that he possesses extraordinary power and is willing to use it for the benefit of ordinary people. The central doctrine of Christmas – that God is with us – becomes aligned with this encouragement to see the helpfulness of God and to ask him to accompany us and help us in all our needs. This gives us peace and strength as we start the New year.

Our part is to desire to know God’s presence in our lives and even more to love him through Jesus and through the Church as we practice our faith. As a parish we form a community in the Holy Spirit to help one another to walk the Christian way of life as our ancestors have done before us. It is certainly not always easy and can be made even more difficult when elements of our surrounding culture are not sympathetic to this spiritual need of our souls. This week’s Gospel reminds us of the powerful intercession of Mary, Mother of God and our mother, who helps the wedding couple in their needs by appealing to Jesus for them. We are assured by the Church’s tradition that Mary will also do the same for us if we ask her. Mary loves us with the love of her Son and she desires that we also find our place in heaven by faithfully living and trusting in the Gospel and in God’s promises. Like the servants at the wedding Mary simply says to us ‘Do whatever he tells you’. That is to say – always have faith in the love God has for you and seek to do his will in all things with childlike trust. Whatever this year presents to us is an opportunity for God to turn the water of our experience into the wine of his salvation.

Let us pray as a parish that together we can use the gifts that the Holy Spirit gives to each one of us this year even more, to help build up our parish community and to help one another find our place at the Wedding feast of the Lamb.

6TH JANUARY 2019

THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD

 Dear Parishioners.

Although one of the last celebrations of the Christmas season, today’s feast of the Epiphany of the Lord is just as hopeful and relevant to our lives as all of the other stories that surround the birth of Jesus. The Gospel account today reminds us that the three wise men or Magi possess something unique. They possess the humility and the openness of mind and heart to seek and welcome Jesus. Their following of the star is a journey of faith, a constant search for meaning, for purpose, for the things of God. Nor were they deterred on that journey, even as they encountered people and events along the way that had the potential to keep them from achieving their goal. Their search mirrors our own life-long search for truth, love, mercy and grace. Therein we find the heart of the message of this Epiphany celebration.

In addition to the significance of the Magi’s search for God, we’re told that the Magi are “from the east.” They were foreigners to the people of Israel and they didn’t belong. Yet, in being welcomed into the presence of the Christ child by Mary, his mother, the Magi remind us that the gift of the Saviour Jesus is given to the whole world. Jesus comes for all who seek his presence in their lives and are looking for God. All of us to a certain extent are foreigners, not because of our country of origin, but because of our lives, our behaviour, our addictions, our sins, our struggles and our sorrows. The message of Gospel is that all of us are welcome to encounter the Christ. No one is excluded from the love of God. Finally we see that the Magi are generous in giving to Jesus what they can, from the gifts that they possess. Likewise, when we encounter the love of God in our lives we experience the desire to respond in love for God and our neighbour by using the gifts we have been given as practical expressions of our ‘homage’ and love.

This great Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord has much to offer us on our journey of faith. In Bethlehem, the Magi found the fulfilment of all that they were seeking in their lives. So will we if we engage the journey of faith honestly, if we acknowledge our need for God’s merciful presence in our lives and if we are humble and generous enough to welcome and serve others along the way.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year.

Fr Martin

18TH NOVEMBER 2018

33RD SUNDAY OF THE YEAR.

Dear Parishioners,

The Posada

Life is a journey. Our destination is the Father’s house where Jesus has prepared a place for us. This whole life can be seen as a pilgrimage and a journey home. At this time of year we remember especially those who have departed this world and are in need of our prayers to be helped on the final steps home. Next month in Advent we begin the journey again of a new Liturgical Year. As a sign of this we are launching A Posada in our parish. This is a tradition which comes from Spanish speaking parts of the world, such as Mexico. As part of their Christmas celebration, traditional fiestas called posadas (inns) are held for family, friends, and neighbours. A posada is the re-enactment of the Census pilgrimage to Bethlehem by Mary and Joseph in search of a room.  From December 16th to December 24th, families customarily hold a posada party one evening in each of their homes. Certain houses are designated to be an ‘inn’, thus the name “Posada”.

The head of the procession will have a candle inside a paper lampshade. At each house, the resident responds by singing a song and Mary and Joseph are finally recognized and allowed to enter. Once the ‘innkeepers’ let them in, the group of guests come into the home and kneel around the Nativity scene to pray, typically, the Rosary. The people asking for posada travel from house to house each night. Individuals dress up and play the various parts of Mary and Joseph with the expectant mother riding a real donkey, with attendants such as angels and shepherds acquired along the way with the children carrying flowers. The procession will be followed by musicians, with the entire procession singing. At the end of each night’s journey, there are Christmas carols. When arriving at each house the people sing:

Pilgrims, outside

 “My name is Joseph,
My wife is Mary.
and mother to be
of the Divine Word.”

 

Inn keepers, inside

 “The inn I give you,
pilgrim saints,
and offer an apology,
for not recognizing you.”

 

Then the inn keeper hosts open the door and welcome the pilgrims inside. This is a symbol of each soul welcoming Jesus into their hearts. This month in our parish we have the opportunity to make the most of this tradition to help us to prepare for the great feast of Our Lord’s Nativity. Please do sign up for one of the nights in Advent.

There is a list is on the narthex table for you to add your name to a date.  Take an envelope and put your contact details on the enclosed card and leave it in the basket.  This can then be given to the next person on the list to make arrangements for collection of the ‘Travellers!’

Fr Martin

11TH NOVEMBER 2018

32ND SUNDAY OF THE YEAR.

Dear Parishioners,

May they rest in peace

 This Sunday is marked out for us as Remembrance Sunday when we recall with gratitude all those who have gone before us and given their lives for the cause of peace in armed conflict. We learn from the revelation of our Catholic Faith that it could never have been God’s desire that his children should turn against each other in conflict. Our fervent prayer and hope should always therefore be that the example of Jesus, Prince of Peace could be an abiding sign for all peoples to continue to work for peace and reconciliation in all parts of the world. However we understand that it is also a supreme and lasting sacrifice when people have heroically laid down their lives for others and have won for us the chance of peace and security. We therefore give thanks for these noble and generous souls on this day and we pray that they will be rewarded with eternal rest.

Also in this month of November it is our tradition to pray for all the faithful departed and especially our departed loved ones. We are reminded by this custom of our Christian belief that life is ‘changed not ended’ in death. For this reason we are called to consider more deeply the reality of heaven and the afterlife. We are encouraged to pray for all those souls who have departed this life but who are still in need of our prayers to share in the fullness of God’s mercy. These souls are prayed for in every Holy Mass in the Eucharistic prayer. At this time of year however, we pray with special love as we fondly recall all those whom God has placed in our lives; all our ancestors, relatives, friends and relations. Let us also pray for all those who have no one to pray for them. We can also remember the ‘un-faithful departed’, that is all those who for reasons known only to God never received a lasting sense of God’s love and mercy in this life and now truly need supernatural help to let them be included into the everlasting peace of heaven.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord

And let perpetual light shine upon them,

May they rest in peace.

Amen

Fr Martin

28TH OCTOBER 2018

30TH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR.

Dear Parishioners,

‘Come blessed of my Father…’

Some years ago when I was visiting cousins in Ireland to piece together our family tree, I was happy to be hearing about all the distant relatives I had not previously known. At one point, while submerged in old photographs and explanations of marriages, family connections and of various priests and nuns, I heard about cousin TJ. Cousin TJ was a member of the Maher branch of the family in Tipperary who had started out life as a farmer and ended up as a member of the European Parliament. He was obviously held in high esteem by all the family. I heard umpteen stories about him and marvelous things said of his character. Keen to know more about how this distant cousin had managed to accomplish all this I asked what was essentially so special about him. I was then told in simple Irish wisdom “Ah sure, he was himself!”

The phrase has stayed with me since then as a testimony to a life well lived. Wouldn’t we all want to have that said about us after all? ”She was herself!” “He was himself!” To have the courage not to buckle and bow to the influence of the crowd but to pursue an authentic and dignified life, searching for the truth at the heart of life and of our selves. This week on Thursday 1st November we celebrate the feast of All Saints. It is rightly a beautiful and important feast in our yearly calendar because it is truly a feast for us all. We are all called to be saints! But in case we all start dismissing the idea as impossible and impractical. Or we imagine saintly life to be about becoming a plaster cast statue of a person, disconnected from real life. We might be helped to think that we could certainly say of each saint: “He was himself!”, or “She was herself!”

Saints are simply ordinary people who allowed the love of God to lead them to become the truly unique person they were created to be. They struggled with sin but they persevered. It is not that they didn’t fall, but that they kept getting up. They understood most deeply that through Jesus Christ, and through his mercy and grace, truly ‘Everything is possible for God’ (Mark 10:27) When Bishop John visited us recently he told us “Brothers and sisters, this growth in holiness, from which every aspect of the Church’s mission rises, is your shared task with your new parish priest. His job is to help you to become saints. Your job is to help him become a saint!” Let us desire to become truly saints and truly ourselves that we may one day hear the sweet call from heaven as Jesus finally says to us: “Come blessed of my Father.” (Matt 25:34)

21ST OCTOBER 2018

29TH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR.

Dear Parishioners,

‘The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’

Someone said once – “Draw a line and you will find Jesus on the other side!” What they meant was that Jesus will always be the one to surprise us and we must always be ready to be open to what he offers us. If we try and make limits for God and decide what he can and cannot do or who he can and cannot love then we have drawn a line and we will likely find Jesus on the other side. God sees more of our lives than we do and he knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows what we are capable of and he knows how he wants to help us. We may have a limited vision for what our lives could be but God sees further and better.

In today’s Gospel, James and John try and influence Jesus to give them some sort of special honours in the afterlife. Perhaps they are motivated by their love for Jesus and a desire to be near him, but in the end Jesus points out the faulty thinking in their request. They are thinking in a selfish way when Jesus has come to widen their perspective. He shows them that he will have to drink the cup and undergo the baptism of suffering to fulfil his mission. Are they willing to follow him in this? Do they understand that the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many? To understand this is to begin to think like Jesus and then to start to live like Jesus. Jesus draws no lines to limit his love, he simply gives and gives. He wants us to know this for ourselves so that we too can learn to love like him.

When Bishop John Wilson came to St Thomas More last week he spoke beautiful words to us about God’s invitation to the parish. I would like to repeat some of his words here as I think they can help to provide us with a kind of ‘mission statement’ as we learn to love like Jesus. He said: “Together let your parish reflect the love of the Lord Jesus to each other and to your community. Through the celebration of the sacraments, give witness together to the beauty of the Gospel and the power of prayer. Work together to teach others, younger and older, in the ways of faith. Welcome the stranger. Reach out to the poorest and the weakest. Care for the broken and the sick. Help people to let go of whatever holds them back from being who God has called them to be… Build up together your life in Christ, believing that with God all things are possible.”

14TH OCTOBER 2018

28TH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR.

Dear Parishioners,

“We have given up everything and followed you!”

The words of St Peter quoted above represent the radical dimension of following the call of Jesus in our lives.  For Peter this meant being with Jesus in his missionary journeys and then going to Rome and surrendering his life for the Gospel. Each one of us in some way is being asked to evaluate what our priorities are throughout our lives and to consider what is of the greatest value for us. The ‘rich young man’ in today’s Gospel is on the edge of making a big decision about his values and beliefs when he meets Jesus but in the end he withdraws unfulfilled. It turns out he is too attached to his apparent wealth to show the necessary generosity to what Jesus is offering him.

It is not that Jesus would demand that everyone follow this radical path, but the young man did say that he was looking for more than what he had been living. The truth is there is always more to discover with God. God is infinite and we can never reach the end of him in this life. There will always be further to go with him. This is actually part of the Good News of the Gospel. It means he will never run out of mercy, love and grace for us. When we start to see the true wealth in what God is offering us then we can begin to feel more freedom from the inferior riches that this world offers in power, prestige, pleasure and plenty. Our part is to surrender in faith and trust the direction and meaning of our life into the hands of God. This is the pathway to peace that young man missed out on.

In his own way the life of each priest should follow the example of St Peter. A priest makes an act of sacrifice and renunciation in forsaking the vocation of marriage and family life. He ‘leaves everything’ to follow the call of Jesus. He does this to be a sacramental sign of the path Our Lord himself walked. Jesus gave up his life in loving sacrifice on the Cross out of love for his Father and for us. In doing this he opens the way to mercy and to eternal life through his Resurrection. In following Jesus the priest gives up what he can to share in this sacrifice but he also finds a great deal. He discovers the joy of a deeply meaningful vocation close to the heart of God and to the needs of God’s people.

Since arriving last week at the parish of St Thomas More Church, I have been struck by the very kind and loving welcome I have received. This is truly a great joy for a priest and true food to strengthen him for his work. I am very grateful for this very encouraging beginning of my time here at St Thomas More. This week we also warmly welcome Bishop John Wilson as he joins us to celebrate the official installation of your new parish priest. We are happy to have him with us as a successor of the Apostles and we pray for him as he also seeks to leave everything to follow the call of Jesus Christ and his Church.