Pope Francis writes on St Joseph
Every day, for over forty years, following Lauds, I have recited a prayer to Saint Joseph taken from the nineteenth-century French prayer book of the Congregation of the Sisters of Jesus and Mary. It expresses devotion and trust, and even poses a certain challenge to Saint Joseph:
‘Glorious Patriarch Saint Joseph, whose power makes the impossible possible, come to my aid in these times of anguish and difficulty. Take under your protection the serious and troubling situations that I commend to you, that they may have a happy outcome. My beloved father, all my trust is in you. Let it not be said that I invoked you in vain, and since you can do everything with Jesus and Mary, show me that your goodness is as great as your power. Amen’
‘Go and make disciples of all nations…’(Matthew 28)
Free Online Introduction & Training Event – 23rd January 10am-1pm
“In our mission to equip parishes for evangelisation in the current climate we are offering a free resource that is easy to use, raises up new leaders, connects people and enables parishes to get back to the mission of the Church at their own pace.” – Mike Roche – Alpha, Catholic Context
Alpha Online is a free, easy-to-use tool to help engage people in your community with the Gospel. It creates a space for people to connect with others online to watch a series of episodes and explore the Christian faith together.
In partnership with Diocese of Westminster’s Agency for Evangelisation, you are invited to an online training session:
‘Alpha Online’ Training on Saturday 23rd January 2021, 10am-1pm
hosted by Mike Roche from Alpha, Catholic Context UK
The session will cover:
- Alpha Online 101;
- How to Invite guests to your Alpha;
- Hosting small groups; Prayer on Alpha Online.
There will also be the opportunity to ask questions throughout the session.
For further information, contact Mike Roche at Michael.Roche@alpha.org
To register for the training click on the link: Alpha Online Registration
Training is FREE
Churches who have run Alpha Online have seen significant impact on the guests and leaders who took part:
• Alpha online opens the door of your church to new people who would never have come on Alpha otherwise
• Guests are more likely to keep coming back consistently session after each session
• Alpha online engages and mobilizes young people in an even greater capacity
• Alpha online develops long-term disciples and leaders in your church
• Alpha online can be mobilized quickly with minimal resources
Agency for Evangelisation https://rcdow.org.uk/faith/
Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord
The Naming of Jesus
‘You shall call his name JESUS for he shall save his people from their sins’ (Matthew. 1.21)
Ah! Ah! That wonderful name! Ah that delectable name! This is the Name that is above all names, the Name that is highest of all, without which no man hopes for salvation. This Name is sweet and joyful, giving veritable comfort to the heart of man. Verily the Name of Jesus is in my mind a joyous song and heavenly music in mine ear, and in my mouth a honeyed sweetness. Wherefore no wonder I love that Name which gives comfort to me in all my anguish. I cannot pray, I cannot meditate, but in sounding the Name of Jesus. I savour no joy that is not mingled with Jesus. Wheresoever I be, wheresover I sit, whatsoever I do, the thought of the savour of the Name of Jesus never leaves my mind. I have set it in my mind, I have set it as a token upon my heart. What can he lack who desires to love the Name of Jesus unceasingly?
Richard Rolle (ca. 1300–30 September 1349) was an English hermit, mystic and religious writer.
Christmas Quiz Answer:
New year’s resolution: Make a difference with CAFOD as a volunteer
CAFOD Westminster is looking for volunteers, who care about global poverty, to help us inspire others to act here, so we can tackle poverty and injustice across the developing world.
Are you a people-person who would relish involving and encouraging others? Are you a good communicator who would enjoy speaking about our work in a Parish or School?
Please get in touch with us on firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 8449 6970 to find out more and book a place on one of our CAFOD online information sessions.
Pope Francis declares ‘Year of St Joseph’
In a new Apostolic Letter entitled Patris corde (‘With a Father’s Heart’), Pope Francis has proclaimed a special ‘Year of St Joseph’ beginning on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception 2020 and extending to the feast in 2021. The Letter marks the 150th anniversary of Blessed Pope Pius IX’s declaration of St Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church.
The Holy Father wrote Patris corde against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, which, he says, has helped us see more clearly the importance of “ordinary” people who, though far from the limelight, exercise patience and offer hope every day. In this, they resemble Saint Joseph, “the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence,” who nonetheless played “an incomparable role in the history of salvation.”
Saint Joseph, in fact, “concretely expressed his fatherhood” by making an offering of himself in love “a love placed at the service of the Messiah who was growing to maturity in his home,” writes Pope Francis, quoting his predecessor St Paul VI.
Because of his role at “the crossroads between the Old and New Testament,” St Joseph “has always been venerated as a father by the Christian people”. In him, “Jesus saw the tender love of God,” the one that helps us accept our weakness, because “it is through” and despite “our fears, our frailties, and our weakness” that most divine designs are realized. “Only tender love will save us from the snares of the accuser,” emphasizes the Pontiff, and it is by encountering God’s mercy especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation that we “experience His truth and tenderness,” – because “we know that God’s truth does not condemn us, but instead welcomes, embraces, sustains and forgives us”.
Joseph is also a father in obedience to God: with his ‘fiat’ he protects Mary and Jesus and teaches his Son to “do the will of the Father.” Called by God to serve the mission of Jesus, he “cooperated… in the great mystery of Redemption,” as St John Paul II said, “and is truly a minister of salvation” .
At the same time, Joseph is “an accepting Father,” because he “accepted Mary unconditionally” – an important gesture even today, says Pope Francis, “in our world where psychological, verbal and physical violence towards women is so evident.” But the Bridegroom of Mary is also the one who, trusting in the Lord, accepts in his life even the events that he does not understand, “setting aside his own ideas” and reconciling himself with his own history.
Joseph’s spiritual path “is not one that explains, but accepts” – which does not mean that he is “resigned.” Instead, he is “courageously and firmly proactive,” because with “Holy Spirit’s gift of fortitude,” and full of hope, he is able “to accept life as it is, with all its contradictions, frustrations and disappointments.” In practice, through St. Joseph, it is as if God were to repeat to us: “Do not be afraid!” because “faith gives meaning to every event, however happy or sad,” and makes us aware that “God can make flowers spring up from stony ground.” Joseph “did not look for shortcuts but confronted reality with open eyes and accepted personal responsibility for it.” For this reason, “he encourages us to accept and welcome others as they are, without exception, and to show special concern for the weak”.
Patris corde highlights “the creative courage” of St Joseph, which “emerges especially in the way we deal with difficulties.” “The carpenter of Nazareth,” explains the Pope, was able to turn a problem into a possibility by trusting in divine providence.” He had to deal with “the concrete problems” his Family faced, problems faced by other families in the world, and especially those of migrants.
In this sense, St Joseph is “the special patron of all those forced to leave their native lands because of war, hatred, persecution and poverty.” As the guardian of Jesus and Mary, Joseph cannot “be other than the guardian of the Church,” of her motherhood, and of the Body of Christ. “Consequently, every poor, needy, suffering or dying person, every stranger, every prisoner, every infirm person is ‘the child’ whom Joseph continues to protect.” From St Joseph, writes Pope Francis, “we must learn… to love the Church and the poor.”
“A carpenter who earned an honest living to provide for his family,” St Joseph also teaches us “the value, the dignity and the joy of what it means to eat bread that is the fruit of one’s own labour.” This aspect of Joseph’s character provides Pope Francis the opportunity to launch an appeal in favour of work, which has become “a burning social issue” even in countries with a certain level of well-being. “there is a renewed need to appreciate the importance of dignified work, of which Saint Joseph is an exemplary patron,” the Pope writes.
Work, he says, “is a means of participating in the work of salvation, an opportunity to hasten the coming of the Kingdom, to develop our talents and abilities, and to put them at the service of society and fraternal communion.” Those who work, he explains, “are cooperating with God himself, and in some way become creators of the world around us.” Pope Francis encourages everyone “to rediscover the value, the importance and the necessity of work for bringing about a new ‘normal’ from which no one is excluded.” Especially in light of rising unemployment due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Pope calls everyone to “review our priorities” and to express our firm conviction that no young person, no person at all, no family should be without work!”
Taking a cue from The Shadow of the Father – a book by Polish writer Jan Dobraczyński – Pope Francis describes Joseph’s fatherhood of Jesus as “the earthly shadow of the heavenly Father.”
“Fathers are not born, but made,” says Pope Francis. “A man does not become a father simply by bringing a child into the world, but by taking up the responsibility to care for that child.” Unfortunately, in today’s society, children “often seem orphans, lacking fathers” who are able to introduce them “to life and reality.” Children, the Pope says, need fathers who will not try to dominate them, but instead raise them to be “capable of deciding for themselves, enjoying freedom and exploring new possibilities.”
This is the sense in which St Joseph is described as a “most chaste” father, which is the opposite of domineering possessiveness. Joseph, says Pope Francis, “knew how to love with extraordinary freedom. He never made himself the centre of things. He did not think of himself, but focused instead on the lives of Mary and Jesus.”
Happiness for Joseph involved a true gift of self: “In him, we never see frustration, but only trust,” writes Pope Francis. “His patient silence was the prelude to concrete expressions of trust.” Joseph stands out, therefore, as an exemplary figure for our time, in a world that “needs fathers,” and not “tyrants”; a society that “rejects those who confuse authority with authoritarianism, service with servility, discussion with oppression, charity with a welfare mentality, power with destruction.”
True fathers, instead, “refuse to live the lives of their children for them,” and instead respect their freedom. In this sense, says Pope Francis, a father realizes that “he is most a father and an educator at the point when he becomes ‘useless,’ when he sees that his child has become independent and can walk the paths of life unaccompanied.” Being a father, the Pope emphasizes, “has nothing to do with possession, but is rather a ‘sign’ pointing to a greater fatherhood”: that of the “heavenly Father” (7).
In his letter, Pope Francis notes how, “Every day, for over forty years, following Lauds [Morning Prayer]” he has “recited a prayer to Saint Joseph taken from a nineteenth-century French prayer book of the Congregation of the Sisters of Jesus and Mary.” This prayer, he says, expresses devotion and trust, and even poses a certain challenge to Saint Joseph,” on account of its closing words: “My beloved father, all my trust is in you. Let it not be said that I invoked you in vain, and since you can do everything with Jesus and Mary, show me that your goodness is as great as your power.”
At the conclusion of his Letter, he adds another prayer to St Joseph, which he encourages all of us to pray together:
Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy, and courage,
and defend us from every evil. Amen.
The Apostolic Penitentiary has also issued a Decree granting plenary indulgences for the year of St Joseph. During this time, the faithful will have the opportunity to commit themselves “with prayer and good works, to obtain, with the help of St Joseph, head of the heavenly Family of Nazareth, comfort and relief from the serious human and social tribulations that besiege the contemporary world today.”
The decree signed by Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, the Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary, and the Regent, Fr Krzysztof Nykiel, notes that devotion to St Joseph has grown extensively throughout the history of the Church, “which not only attributes to him high reverence after that of the Mother of God his spouse but has also given him multiple patronages.”
The plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful under the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic Communion, and prayer for the Pope’s intentions) to Christians who, with a spirit detached from any sin, participate in the Year of St Joseph on these occasions and manners indicated by the Apostolic Penitentiary:
The plenary indulgence is granted to those who will meditate for at least 30 minutes on the Lord’s Prayer, or take part in a Spiritual Retreat of at least one day that includes a meditation on St Joseph.
The indulgence can also be obtained by those who, following St Joseph’s example, will perform a spiritual or corporal work of mercy.
The recitation of the Holy Rosary in families and among engaged couples is another way of obtaining indulgences, in order that “all Christian families may be stimulated to recreate the same atmosphere of intimate communion, love and prayer that was in the Holy Family.”
Everyone who entrusts their daily activity to the protection of St Joseph, and every faithful who invokes the intercession of St Joseph so that those seeking work can find dignifying work can also obtain the plenary indulgence.
The plenary indulgence is also granted to the faithful who will recite the Litany to St Joseph (for the Latin tradition), or the Akathistos to St Joseph (for the Byzantine tradition), or any other prayer to St Joseph proper to the other liturgical traditions, for the persecuted Church ad intra and ad extra, and for the relief of all Christians suffering all forms of persecution.
Because, the decree notes, “the flight of the Holy Family to Egypt shows us that God is there where man is in danger, where man suffers, where he runs away, where he experiences rejection and abandonment.”
In addition to these, the Apostolic Penitentiary grants a plenary indulgence to the faithful who will recite any legitimately approved prayer or act of piety in honour of St Joseph, for example, “To you, O blessed Joseph” especially on “19 March, on 1 May, the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, on St Joseph’s Sunday (according to the Byzantine tradition) on the 19th of each month and every Wednesday, a day dedicated to the memory of the saint according to the Latin tradition.”
The decree recalls the universality of St Joseph’s patronage of the Church, noting that St Teresa of Ávila recognized him as “a protector for all the circumstances of life”. Pope St.John Paul II also said that St Joseph has “a renewed relevance for the Church of our time, in relation to the new Christian millennium.”
Amid the ongoing Covid-19 health crisis, the gift of the plenary indulgence is also extended to the sick, the elderly, the dying and all those who for legitimate reasons are unable to leave their homes.
They too can obtain the plenary indulgences if they are detached from any sin and have the intention of fulfilling, as soon as possible, the three usual conditions and recite an act of piety in honour of St Joseph, offering to God the pains and hardships of their lives.
The Apostolic Penitentiary encourages priests to ‘pastorally facilitate the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance and the administration of Holy Communion to the sick with a willing and generous spirit.’
Pope establishes Worldwide Prayer Network as papal institution
Pope Francis has established the Worldwide Prayer Network Foundation as an entity with canonical and Vatican juridical identity, the Vatican announced on Thursday.
Formerly known as the ‘Apostleship of Prayer’, the Worldwide Prayer Network works “to coordinate and animate the vast spiritual movement, always very dear to the Pope, that receives and communicates the Pope’s monthly prayer intentions for the Church.”
On its international website: www.popesprayer.va the Network describes its objective: “to encourage prayer and action for the challenges facing humanity and the mission of the Church, expressed in the Pope’s prayer intentions.”
The Worldwide Prayer Network’s new status was established in a papal decree with legal force circulated among the Roman Curia – dated 17 November 2020
Mary’s Meals feeds hungry children in 19 of the world’s poorest countries. The meals the charity serves in schools attract children into the classroom, where they can gain an education that will one day be their ladder out of poverty. It costs just £15.90 to feed a child with Mary’s Meals every school day for an entire year. Check the link below:
22nd June is the feast of our patron Saint.
Michael Walsh, a Historian and parishioner of St Thomas More has written an article about our patron Saint which you can read by clicking here
Caroline Lees Paintings
Caroline Lees who painted the Icon of the resurrection and some of the icons in the Church has painted a series of pictures of Nurses and DRs to raise money for the NHS. The 3 people in this picture are all from the same family:
CAFOD Coronarvirus Appeal
Difficult times these are for all of us, but Martin, the Parish Representative for CAFOD, asks you nevertheless to consider CAFOD’s urgent CoronaVirus Emergency Appeal. If you feel able to please do consider making a donation.
The effects of coronavirus on developing countries where CAFOD works are likely to be devastating. Food prices have risen, many are losing their jobs and income, healthcare is inadequate, washing regularly and social distancing are not possible. The poorest and excluded are most vulnerable. Families without enough to eat and without access to clean water and healthcare are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus.
CAFOD is adapting its programmes to help manage the risk of coronavirus in such communities, working to get food to where it is needed most; to improve hygiene, handwashing and sanitation in communities and households; spreading information on risks and prevention; and training community volunteers to help raise awareness. Hence this emergency appeal. More detail on the CAFOD website.
Welcome to the webpages of the Roman Catholic Church of St Thomas More, Manor House
Our postal address is 9 Henry Road, N4 2LH
You can contact us on:
T: 020 8802 9910
We are keen to hear from you!
Click here for the latest news and messages