Welcome to the webpages of the Roman Catholic Church of St Anselm and St Cæcilia, Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Here you will find information about us including normal Mass times as well as Parish contacts.
Our postal address is 70 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, WC2A 3JA. You will find us on the east side of Kingsway, a few steps from Holborn Station (LT).
You can contact us on 020 7405 0376.
Our email address is email@example.com
+SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
21st May 2017
CARDINAL VINCENT SPEAKS
YOU are invited to come and hear Cardinal Vincent speak on a number of issues. Fr David and Rev. John Valentine (Anglican Vicar of St. George the Martyr, Queen Square Holborn) have in invited the Cardinal to speak on the life of faith, about his life as Archbishop of Westminster, to hear his thinking on ecumenism and how we are to evangelise our country. It is being hosted by our local Anglican church to emphasise our friendship and collaboration with our neighbours.
As Catholics, please let us go to support our Cardinal, to learn from him and to express our solidarity- with our local Anglican brothers and sisters.
WHEN? This Wednesday, 24th May, at 7.30pm
WHERE? In the Anglican church of St George the Martyr, Queen Square, Holborn (near Great Ormond Street Hospital).
This gathering with Cardinal Vincent is on the eve of the launch of “THY KINGDOM COME”. This is a global prayer move movement, which invites Christians around the world to pray between the Ascension and Pentecost for more people to come to know Jesus Christ. What started as an Anglican initiative in 2016 has grown into an international and ecumenical call to prayer.
CARDINAL VINCENT WRITES:
“To have a week of prayer for Christian mission is just a wonderful thing. Please join in before Pentecost, this drive to pray together for the gift of God’s Spirit for our mission. We know how rich Pentecost is in the life of the Church from its very beginning.
That richness can be ours too – if we ask God for it”.
+FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
14th May 2017
On Wednesday 24th May Cardinal Vincent is coming to St George’s Anglican church in Queen Square. Fr. David and the vicar of St George’s, Rev. John Valentine, have jointly invited the Cardinal to come and speak about the life of faith and his work as Archbishop, and how he sees ecumenism and our common endeavour of evangelisation.
Fr David encourages you all to come – both to welcome the Cardinal (St. George’s is within the boundary of our parish) and learn from him, and also to show our commitment to ecumenism and our solidarity with our neighbouring Anglican brothers and sisters.
When? Wednesday 24th May at 7.30pm.
Where? St. George’s Holborn, Queen Square WC2N 3AH
020 7404 4407 firstname.lastname@example.org
This gathering is on the eve of the launch of “THY KINGDOM COME”. Cardinal Vincent is supporting the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, in his call to Christians to join a wave of prayer across the UK and around the world – praying that people you know might know Jesus. It is happening between Ascension and Pentecost. 25th May – 4th June.
+FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
7th May 2017
Living in Central London we are far removed from the life of a shepherd tending sheep in the fields. St. John in today’s Gospel (chapter 10) reminds us that we all need shepherding in those encouraging words of Jesus, “I am the Good Shepherd, I know my own sheep and my own know me.” Jesus knows each one of us by the name given to us at our baptism. To Jesus we are individuals, not a crowd or congregation. The life, death and resurrection of Our Lord happened for everyone, such was the extent of his love for us. How do we return such exquisite love?
Through our baptism we are called to follow Jesus, he said “Follow Me”. We too can follow Jesus by doing our utmost to be Good Shepherds in our present circumstances whether it be priests, parents, teachers, doctors, shop assistants, office workers, etc. remembering we are all made in the image and likeness of our Heavenly Father.
This Sunday also has a second theme, called “Vocations Sunday”. We are asked to pray for our priests in particular in their calling as shepherds. Each one of us has a vocation to follow Christ in whatever setting we happen to be and to support our priests in whatever way we can. God is calling each one of us to be Gospel People making our own contribution towards building His church. Where do I fit into this? What contribution am I making ?
Sr. M. Lucina, Parish Sister
+THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER
30th April 2017
Next weekend is Good Shepherd Sunday, the day we pray for priests and for vocations to the priesthood. The annual collection to help fund the formation of priests will take place next weekend. I ask you to be generous with this important second collection. The Priest Training Fund benefits the parishes and the Diocese of Westminster by providing us with new priests striving to follow Christ the Good Shepherd, in the service of God’s people. The Priest Training Fund helps us pay for the recruitment of men into priestly vocations, the training and education of seminarians at our seminary, Allen Hall, and the formation of men we send abroad. It also pays for the ongoing education of priests who will serve in specialised ministries, and their continuing formation whilst in active ministry. There are currently 39 seminarians in formation. It costs on average £25,000 per man, per year of formation – that is about £150,000 to form and educate a new priest, who makes a lifetime commitment to Christ and the Church.
Priests are the heart of the Catholic Church. Please be generous in your prayer and support. Donation leaflets are available today – please take one, read the information, and bring it back next week at Mass with your donation. On behalf of all the clergy of the Diocese, thank you. We ask that you pray a special prayer for vocations on a dally basis, perhaps with your family. Please take home a prayer card for vocations, which can be found in the pews or at the back of the Church. Thank you for both your prayers and generosity in support of the priests, and the Catholic Church, of tomorrow.
+SECOND SUNDAY OF THE RESURRECTION
23rd April 2017
DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY
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.
This message and devotion to Jesus as The Divine Mercy is based on the writings of Saint Faustina Kowalska, 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 in 1938, the devotion to The Divine Mercy had begun to spread.
The message and devotional practices proposed in the Diary of Saint Faustina and set forth in this web site and other publications of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception are completely in accordance with the teachings of 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.
Spend time 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.
16th April 2017
Rejoice, heavenly powers!
Sing, choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God’s throne!
Jesus Christ our King is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!
May God fill you all with Easter joy!
9th April 2017
HOLY WEEK is the most important week in the year. Our Lord is calling us to share His journey from the triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, through his trial, passion and death, through to His Resurrection on Easter Sunday. His Paschal Mystery (His Passion, Death and Resurrection) is the most important event in human history, transforming our relationship with God and with one another, and, He is calling us to participate in it more fully so as to share its fruit more fully.
We respond by sharing as much as possible in the Holy Week Liturgies. The key Liturgies to attend are:
+ The Mass of the Lord’s Supper – Thursday 6pm
+ The celebration of the Passion of the Lord – Friday 3pm
+ The Easter Vigil in the Holy Night – Saturday 8pm
Our Lord is calling us, inviting us: why would we not respond?
What would this say about me?
In Holy Week we confront two of the most difficult areas in human life suffering and death. Often we prefer not to face them. Yet in Holy Week, through sharing Our Lord’s Passion and Death, we can find freedom from our fears and anxieties about suffering and death: this is the healing Our Lord wants for us, and is offering us.
Fr David Barnes, PP
+5th SUNDAY OF LENT
2nd April 2017
Today, the fifth Sunday of Lent, the focus of the liturgy is on Our Lord’s Passion. It is a time to enter into His suffering more deeply, sharing in His life more fully. It is a time to foster greater sorrow for our sins: the more contrite we are, the less we are likely to sin in the future. It is a time to grow in wonder that Our Lord endured His Passion and Death out of love for us. The veiling of the crucifixes and the statues emphasise the more sombre nature of these days, and help us focus on His Passion.
Today’s Gospel, the raising of Lazarus, gives us a foretaste of how He wills to raise us up, unbind us and let us be free from sin and death. We are designed for eternal life with Him forever, to come to see God face-to-face. It is in light of this that we enter Passiontide joyfully and with great confidence, wanting to share His wondrous love. Our Lady accompanies us just as she accompanied Her Son and shared His Passion.
“O God, who in this season give your Church the grace to imitate devoutly the Blessed Virgin Mary contemplating the Passion of Christ, grant, we pray, through her intercession, that we cling more firmly each day to Your only begotten Son and come at last to the fullness of grace. Through Christ Our Lord.”
Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.
Fr David Barnes PP
+4th SUNDAY OF LENT
26th March 2017
WESTMINSTER ATROCITIES – 22 March 2017
Message from the Cardinal.
Dear Fathers, Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Yesterday’s attacks in Westminster have shocked us all. The kind of violence we have seen all too often in other places has again brought horror and killing to this city.
I know you will lead people in prayer, especially for those who have lost their lives and those who have lost one they love. Pray for Aysha Frade, killed by the car on Westminster Bridge. Her two children attend St Mary and the Angels Primary School. Pray for them and their father and please remember the young French students who have been injured.
We remember too all who have been injured, and those who care for them.
We pray in particular as well for Keith Palmer, the police officer who died, and for his family, thanking God that so many show such brave dedication to keeping our society safe.
Let our voice be one of prayer, of compassion solidarity and calm. All who believe in God, Creator and Father of every person, will echo this voice, for faith in God is not a problem to be solved, but a strength and a foundation on which we depend.
With best wishes,
Cardinal Vincent Nichols
+3rd SUNDAY OF LENT
19th March 2017
HOW TO BECOME MORE HUMAN
Sin dehumanises us by making us less than fully human. Yet we go on sinning – so what is the remedy? The Collect at today’s Mass asserts that the remedy is PRAYER, FASTING and ALMSGIVING.
PRAYER raises our minds and hearts to God, reasserting the supernatural perspective in our life by fostering our conversation with God, opening us to see life from God’s perspective and to the help of God.
FASTING brings under greater control our bodily appetites so that we are not driven by them. As we feel real hunger it also enables us to identify better with those who are suffering through lack of food, and moves us to reach out to them.
ALMSGIVING enables us to share our goods with those less well off than ourselves. God’s prescription for us to become fully human as God intends us to be, is very clear:
PRAYER FASTING ALMSGIVING
How well am I accepting joyfully this prescription?
Are there adjustments in my way of thinking or living that I need to make?
We all have bad days, when our Lenten resolutions can unravel, but each new day we can begin again with the help of God – that is the secret of perseverance.
Fr David Barnes PP
+2nd SUNDAY OF LENT
12th March 2017
The Apostles spent three years accompanying Jesus in his public ministry while he was teaching and forming them. In the Transfiguration, Peter, James and John come to see more clearly who He really is – they literally see Him “in a new light”. They come To see that Jesus really is the fulfilment of the Law (represented by Moses) and the prophets (represented by Elijah). They also hear the voice of God the Father say “This is my Son, the beloved…. listen to Him”. His true identity is revealed to them.
And what about us? As part of our Lenten preparation, the account of the Transfiguration helps us to see that Our Lord Jesus is the Yes to all God’s promises, and that He is everything God has to say to us. As we digest this, the more we shall see the beauty of God’s love revealed through the Cross: it is a love discovered only through treasuring it in our heart.
Are we listening to Him?
Are we spending time with Him in prayer?
Fr David Barnes PP
+1st SUNDAY OF LENT
5th March 2017
Lent is a time for prayer, fasting and almsgiving so that we might expand our hearts to love God and our neighbour more fervently. It is a tradition to offer Lenten AIms as a sacrifice – a thoughtful way of denying something for ourselves and giving for the benefit of others – as part of our journey over the five weeks of Lent.This year the Cardinal has asked that the Lenten Alms be directed to the Cardinal’s Appeal Fund. This important annual Programme asks all households to give a gift to support new projects which are focused on three fundamental areas of the Church’s mission;
- Evangelisation, especially of young people, who represent the future of society and the Church;
- Strengthening and promoting marriage and Family Life as God’s essential plan for creation and the essential building block of society and the Church;
- Adding our Catholic perspective and values to works of service in society, especially among those on the margins. More than ever today, we are called to build a just society and show love to our neighbour.
Money raised through the Cardinal’s Appeal will be awarded in grants to Catholic bodies within the Diocese – parishes, schools, Catholic Organisations and groups – which can apply for funding if they have a new or interesting project that fits within the areas of evangelisation of youth, marriage and family life, or charitable works that help society and those living on the margins. The Cardinal’s Appeal is focused within our Diocese. We are building from the foundations in local initiatives.
As we are in the early days of Lent, I ask you to find out about the Cardinal’s Appeal, take a leaflet home, pray and reflect on your ability to make a Lenten sacrifice, and consider choosing the Cardinal’s Appeal as part of your almsgiving. The second collection on the weekend of 18th/19th March will be for the Lenten alms. Envelopes are available. On behalf of Cardinal Nichols, thank you for your generosity throughout the year, in many different ways.
Fr David Barnes PP
+8TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
26th February 2017
Sr. M. Lucina writes: My Dear Friends, this week I would like to share with you a letter I received from Sr. M. Antonietta, the Mother General of the Rosminian Congregation to which I belong. She begins by mentioning “The Feast of the Cell”. This is the 20th February 1828, when Antonio Rosmini, our Founder went to Calvario, Domodossola, to write the Rule and Constitutions for the lnstitute of Charity.
“Office again, we recall the “Feast of the Cell”, when in February 1828, Antonio Rosmini made his way to Calvario, where he spent Lent in prayer, discerning what God wanted for him. Even though he was weak in body, he followed what he believed God’s call, listening for his word, confident that he would show him a new beginning. “Now is the time; the moments are in the hands of God, and they come when he wills”.
During these days he began to draw up guidelines for the Institute, in the form of Constitutions – an idea came to him in December 1825, where in a moment, he glimpsed the whole plan of his work; he now committed this initiative to God, placing himself wholly in his hands, completely open to his will. From Monte Calvario he wrote to a dear friend: ” I want only to abandon myself to Divine Providence … My own conviction is as far as in me, should refuse nothing…rather that I should make a total offering of myself to him”.
How happy would I be if I could totally identify myself with his will.
What does the “Feast of the Cell” mean to me? Can we, following in the footsteps of Blessed Antonio Rosmini “learn to receive whatever comes to us from the hands of God with a tranquil mind and with great gratitude”?
I wish each one of you a good journey of Lent 2017
(Sister continues): As we follow the message of Pope Francis; “Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to Easter, Christ’s victory over death … this season urgency calls us to conversion . . .. to refuse to settle for mediocrity ….Lent is the favourable season for renewing our encounter with Christ. . ..the Lord who overcame the deceptions of the tempter during the forty days in the desert shows us the Path we must take. May the Holy Spirit lead us on a journey of conversion, so that we can rediscover the Word is a gift, other persons are a gift”.
With gratitude for each one of you, wherever you are, I ask God to bless you in a special way this Lent.
Sr. M. Antonietta cm
+7th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
19th February 2017
HELPING CATHOLICS GET MORE OUT OF THEIR FAITH
Do you wish you understood the Catholic Faith and the Catholic Church better? If YES’; these 8 DVD talks are for you They are given by Dr D’Ambrosio, a Catholic theologian from the USA, and are a stimulating look at the basics of the Catholic Faith.
Each session lasts between 35 and 45 minutes, with pauses for reflection and discussion.
The talk titles are:
- Who needs the Catholic Church? Monday 20 February
- Baptism-Gateway to Life. Monday 27 February
- Confirmation – Empowered to Serve. Monday 6 March
- Personal Prayer – Pathway to Joy. Monday 13 March
- What is the Mass? Monday 20 March
- Getting More out of the Mass. Monday 27 March
- Keeping a Pure Heart. Monday 3 April
- Mary and the Saints. Monday 10 April
Each session is at 6.45pm in the Parish Room. Dr. D’Ambrosia is married, has five children and was a Professor of Theology at the Catholic University of Dallas. He communicates in a humorous and challenging way giving lay people practical insights into getting more out of their Catholic Faith. The talks were filmed in England.
+6th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
12th February 2017
Made by Love, made for love: this is our essential nature. How are we to understand the implications of this? Jesus is the Wisdom of God: through Him we learn who we truly are. (see Reading 2 at this Sunday’s Mass).
Our Lord’s teaching confronts us with deciding either to follow God’s way, made known to us by Jesus, or our own way or some other. The first reading at this Sundays Mass tell us that our decisions made on the basis of God’s teaching in the commandments are life-giving for us, whereas decisions made contrary to God’s teaching are deadly to our true nature – and God leaves us free to choose.
In today’s Gospel Our Lord teaches us some refinements about keeping the Commandments. “You shall not kill” implies also that we are never to be motivated simply by raw anger or denigrate our neighbour even verbally – and if we do, we must seek reconciliation before we bring our gifts to the altar: those of us coming to Mass must ensure we live this life-giving teaching.
“You must not commit adultery” implies also that we must not be motivated by lust, even in our imagination. We must be very radical rooting out the influence of lust, and this choice is life-giving.
Choose God’s teaching: choose life!
Fr David Barnes PP
+5th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
5th February 2017
SALT AND LIGHT
SALT in food helps bring out the flavours, and, traditionally, has been used to conserve food from corruption. “You are the salt of the earth,” proclaims Our Lord: we are to recognise and help to bring out all the goodness in others, and also to help preserve fragile humanity from the corruption of sin.
To be salt we must believe in the basic goodness of the other: however damaged by sin, we must not be put off wanting to bring out the true person in their basic goodness. Difficult, yes, but made possible the more we “see” this is how Jesus sees us: He sees through the façade of our sins to see and love our inner love and goodness, which is why He finds us absolutely lovable. We should believe ourselves to be absolutely lovable because this is how Our Lord sees us. Then we can be salt to others.
“You are the light of the world”, He proclaims. Our first reading at Mass today expresses closely how we can become that light “Share your bread with the hungry, and shelter the homeless poor, clothe the man you see to be naked and turn not from your own kin.. Then will your light shine like the dawn and your wound be quickly healed over.”
Deeds speak louder than words!
Fr David Barnes PP
+4th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
29th January 2017
HOW TO BE HAPPY
GOD made us with a deep longing for happiness. We experience this longing and spend much time finding ways to be happy – often becoming frustrated in our search! Today’s Gospel is the BEATITUDES, which is Our Lord’s teaching on the way to find true happiness.
Given the Beatitudes are Our Lord’s own teaching as the way to find true happiness, should we not know them by heart so we can treasure them and put them into practice? This week, let us use them each day in our daily prayer, and, like Our Lady, ponder and treasure this teaching in our heart. Remember, Pope Francis says we should all carry a copy of the Gospel in our pocket or bag – the Beatitudes are found in Matthew 5:1-12. The Beatitudes are essentially Our Lord’s way of life, and they are our way to true happiness. We can live them with the help of His grace.
Pope Francis also wants us to be very concrete, and so suggests we examine ourselves often in light of questions we shall be asked on Judgement Day. We read them in Matthew 26: 31-46.
We may find our own responses uncomfortable – but do not lose heart….we can begin again, today and every day.
Fr David Barnes P.P.
LAST NOVEMBER, on a visit to Sweden, Pope Francis said that the best description of the saints, their “identity card”, is found in the Beatitudes from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. He has proposed to us six Beatitudes for our present day:
Blessed are those who remain faithful while enduring evils inflicted on them by others and forgive them from their heart.
Blessed are those who look into the eyes of the abandoned and marginalised and show them their closeness.
Blessed are those who see God in every person and strive to make others also discover him.
Blessed are those who protect and care for our common home.
Blessed are those who renounce their own comfort in order to help others.
Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians.
+3rd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
22nd January 2017
WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY
18-25 January 2017
Our Lord prayed for unity among those who believed in Him (John 17:21), and in the early Church we are told (Acts 4:32) that the disciples were of one heart and one mind. Over the centuries that one communion has been fractured in many ways.
This WEEK OF PRAYER is aimed at the reunion of all Christians, living in full communion with one another and the successor of Peter, and sharing the one Eucharist. Some may say this is impossible: I disagree!
- First, “everything is possible to God”, (Matt. 9:26). We must deeply desire and long for reunion because UNITY is our Lord’s will and what He prays for. If we do not desire and long for it then it will not even begin to happen.
- Second, we must renew our hope and confidence in the grace of God. When we long for reunion, relying on the power of God, grace can bring it to effect.
- Third we must set our heart to know ever better our dear Lord – the more we are converted to Him, the more we are converted to one another! This presupposes, our repentance for sometimes having closed minds and closed hearts both to Our Lord and to one another. God wants us to have big, open minds and big, open hearts – do we?
Fr David Barnes P.P.
+2nd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
15th January 2017
“Nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer. Everyone can be an artisan of peace,” writes Pope Francis in his World Peace Message for this year. The theme for 2017 is “Non-violence: a style of politics for peace:” food for meditation here is that non-violence is not so much a tactic but a way of life.
PAX CHRISTI, an international Catholic movement for peace, is inviting us to ponder carefully how non-violence is a better way of responding to injustice and violence. Archbishop Malcolm McMahon of Liverpool, the President of Pax Christi, writes :- “The message of Pope Francis offers a timely opportunity for our parishes to explore the Catholic tradition of non-violence which goes back to Jesus, and to develop ways to make Gospel of non-violence better known”.
THE WEEK OF PRAYER for the REUNION OF ALL CHRISTIANS begins this week: 18-25 January. The theme is “RECONCILIATION – the love of Christ compels us” (2 Corinthians 5: 14-20). St Paul proclaims how God has, in
Christ, reconciled the world to Himself. The love of Christ compels us to be ambassadors of this reconciliation. Nothing is impossible to God — even the reunion of all Christians! At each Mass we shall pray for a deeper unity among all Christians.
We can examine ourselves by asking: am I an ambassador for reconciliation, justice and peace?
Fr David Barnes P.P.
PRAYER FOR PEACE and UNITY (from the Mass)
Lord Jesus Christ,
who said to your apostles:
Peace I leave you, my peace I give you:
look not on our sins,
but on the faith of your Church,
and graciously grant her peace and unity
in accordance with your will.
Who live and reign for ever and ever .
OUR LADY OF FATIMA told us in (1917) about the effectiveness of praying the rosary for peace. Let us act on her teaching.
8th January 2017
JESUS CHRIST alone is the perfect revelation of God. Today’s celebration of the Epiphany (a Greek word meaning manifestation/revelation) is how the Three Kings (or Wise Men) find everything they are looking for in the infant in the crib, and how they fall on their knees and worship Him.
Whether Kings or Wise Men, the import is that true power (represented by the Kings) and real wisdom (represented by the Wise Men) are to be found fully in recognising and embracing that Jesus alone is the power and wisdorn of God made manifest. The gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh represent Our Lord’s Kingship (gold), the frankincense His divinity, and the myrrh pointing to His death on Calvary.
What gifts do we bring Him?
The carol “In the bleak midwinter” helps us.
“What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb.
If I were a wise man, I would do my part.
Yet what can I give Him, give my heart.”
Fr David Barnes P.P.
SOLEMNITY OF MARY, MOTHER OF GOD
1st January 2017
Pastoral Letter for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
Dear brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ,
My mother taught me many things. One was this: that a mother can never forget her child, even if that child is no longer in her presence and care. The bond between them endures. It is written into her heart and flesh. A mother carries the hopes of her child as her own; she feels the anguish of her child; she suffers whatever pain befalls the fruit of her womb.
This lesson helps me to understand why, on this Feast Day of Mary, Mother of God, we do so well to turn to her. Mary is our mother. She bears us as her children not by conceiving us in her body but by adopting us within her heart. She is our mother in all things, above all our Mother of Sorrows and our Mother of Mercy.
Because we are her children, she carries our hopes and our pain always within her. Today she stands with us on this first day of a new calendar year, at this moment when we reflect on our hopes and joys, our sorrows and fears. Here she is, sharing our New Year with its promises and prayers.
Often, as a youngster, I would go into the kitchen to tell my Mum all that had happened, what I had done and, sheepishly, what had upset me. In today’s Gospel we heard that the shepherds did the same thing and that Mary ‘treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart’ (Luke 2:19). We can be sure that in the same way Mary will treasure and ponder all that we whisper to her.
Have you noticed that in most statues of Our Blessed Lady she is holding her son? In fact, she is holding him out to us, showing us the blessed fruit of her womb, Jesus. It is to him that she wants us to come. She brings him to us and us to him. In him we find and receive all that we need, for he is our foundation, our hope and our joy. In the words of St Paul, he is the one sent by God, born of a woman, to redeem us. He makes it plain that, in all truth, we are truly sons and daughters of God for ‘God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts: the Spirit that cries out “Abba! Father!”‘ (Gal 4:4-6).
This, then, is how we best set out into the New Year: with the Spirit of Jesus in our hearts; with the prayer, ‘Abba! Father!’ on our lips; with Mary holding her mantle of protection and love over us all. Then we shall walk steadily, never losing the poise of grace, and always confident of who we are in the eyes of our loving Father: precious sons and daughters. Mary conceived the Eternal Word of God in her womb, giving him the gift of her flesh and blood. We, in our lesser way, are to do likewise. We are called to give him our flesh and blood in the actions of everyday which we hope will express his love and compassion, his forgiveness and joy, to all whom we meet. This truth is beautifully expressed in these ancient words:
‘Christ abode for nine months in the tent of Mary’s womb; he abides until the consummation of the ages in the tent of the Church’s faith; he will abide for ever and ever in the knowledge and love of the faithful soul.’ (Cf Blessed Isaac of Stella, 12th century sermon 51 for the Assumption of Blessed Mary).
At this New Year I wish you all every blessing. In this I can do no better than to use the words of the First Reading as my own:
‘May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord let his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord uncover his face to you and bring you his peace’ (Numbers 6:25).
And may the prayers of our Blessed Lady sustain us both now and at the hour of our death.
+ Cardinal Vincent Nichols
Archbishop of Westminster
WESTMINSTER, LONDON, SW1P 1QJ