Stations of the Cross
During lent we have the Stations of the Cross at 9.15am on Wednesdays and after the 10.00am Mass on Fridays
Please join us to hear a message of congratulations from Cardinal Vincent Nichols and to share stories of how the Award was achieved.
We would also like you to bring along your own Fairtrade refreshments – tea, coffee, cake, biscuits, fruit, chocolate – to enjoy during the event and to show in a collective screenshot for publicity (and the archives) afterwards.
Can I encourage you, please, to extend the invitation to anyone in your Parish whom you think would like to attend, especially those who have run Fairtrade stalls in churches, or been responsible for ensuring that tea and coffee orders were switched to Fairtrade? A similar email will be sent to all parishes but may get lost in the blizzard of emails that are getting sent out right now so we would love you, our Parish Contacts, to personally invite your Parish Priest, so that the whole of the Diocese is celebrating together. Personal invitation is often the most effective means of getting the word out! We are also expecting the Diocese to issue a press statement at the start of Fairtrade Fortnight to further promote the event.
Of course, we have reached a massive milestone as a Diocese, but the work doesn’t end there.
We still have about 48% of parishes to go, and we also know that we need to be constantly assessing our support for the world’s farmers and other producers as we face new global threats from climate change and water shortages, to pandemics and loss of biodiversity.
The springtime of the Fast has dawned,
The flower of repentance has begun to open.
O brethren, let us cleanse ourselves of all impurity
And sing to the Giver of Light:
Glory be to thee, who alone lovest mankind.
ORTHODOX HYMN IN THE WEEK BEFORE LENT
Zoom retreats at Boarbank Hall: Living Laudato Si’
Following the popularity of their October and January Zoom Retreats, Living Laudato Si’: Your Parish and Your Planet, Boarbank Hall is making the most of continued Lockdown to offer two more: 12th-15th March and 16th-19th April.
By the standard of present crises, Covid-19 is minor. But the major disasters that threaten – social, economic, ecological, spiritual – are so daunting that they paralyse us. How on earth do we start tackling them? Who on earth can take the lead? It’s all so urgent – but when will something be done? How about you, here and now? No, we can’t do this alone. But we are not alone. We are in the hands of God, members of his Church here on earth, concretely expressed in our local parishes. Why not start there? Or maybe you have already started there and need encouragement, support or ideas.
The Zoom Retreat will be led by Sr Margaret Atkins, an Augustinian Canoness at Boarbank Hall in Cumbria and author of Catholics and Our Common Home: Caring for the Planet in a Time of Crisis (CTS), Trish Sandbach, who worked in Oxfam Education and is an assessor for the CAFOD LiveSimply award (see https://cafod.org.uk/Campaign/Livesimply-award) and John Paul de Quay and Ellie Margetts, founder members of the Ecological Conversion Group and Journey to 2030 (see https://journeyto2030.org/). There will also be a panel discussion for sharing advice on practical projects.
As before, they will be joined by a bishop to begin and conclude the weekends. Archbishop John Wilson of Southwark and Bishop Peter Brignall of Wrexham (March), and Archbishop Bernard Longley (Birmingham) and Bishop Marcus Stock (April) have kindly agreed to do this for us. It would be especially good if parishioners from their dioceses could join up for the respective weekends to support them!
What will happen? A long weekend of talks and discussions on zoom, and practical activities, on living the message of Laudato Si’ in and through your parish. Sessions will be in the evenings Friday to Monday, Saturday morning, and Saturday and Sunday late afternoon, so leaving you free for work and other activities.
Who is it for? Any interested parishioner is most welcome to join. The weekend is aimed especially at people with parish responsibilities or who are part of or want to start a relevant parish group.
Times Sessions will be on Friday night, Saturday morning and night, Sunday afternoon and night and Monday night (leaving people free during the day on Monday).
Cost – voluntary donations gratefully accepted, but there will be no fee for the weekend.
To apply, simply email Sr Margaret Atkins on firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn more about Boarbank Hall here; www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyg5a_rnsm8
Pax Christi and Christian CND online liturgy
Lent is early this year. We are still all greatly restricted by the covid pandemic, but maybe this is a great opportunity to do a bit more at home this Lent, “to live simply, sustainably and in solidarity with the poor” as we cannot get out and about much.
Global Healing Lent Series: Six Thursdays from 18th February – 25th March, 7.30-8.30pm. A national online Zoom Lent course offered to all parishes. Reflective evenings with speakers, prayer and discussion, using the “Global Healing” film resource. These engaging documentaries will inform and challenge people to respond to Pope Francis’ call to Care for Our Common Home. Hosted by the Global Catholic Climate Conference (GCCM) and UK Laudato Si’ Animators. The first speaker on 18thFeb was be Bishop John Arnold, Diocese of Salford and Bishop for the Environment.
Click on this link to register
And here is where I need your help! I thought it would be good to share 3 ideas each week in Lent of ways in which we can help each other and our planet, inspired by Laudato Si and Pope Francis’ latest encycylical, Fratelli Tutti.
So would you like to suggest simple actions that we can do and I will email 3 of them each week? Lent is not just about giving things up, but also doing positive things that make a difference. They can be from things as simple as trying to avoid single used plastic to reaching out on the phone, email or whatsapp to someone you know who may be lonely and struggling.
I look forward to receiving your suggestions.
An update from Westminster Justice and Peace
Dear Friends of Justice and Peace,
Danica Marcos, Communications and Outreach Volunteer for Westminster Justice & Peace, has written the introduction for this month’s E-Bulletin, reflecting on the question ‘What is justice and peace?’ It is a question I have been pondering ever more deeply as the turmoil of 2020 continues to surround us as we move through the early weeks of 2021. Danica sees a lot of challenges in the world around her, but also finds hope and inspiration in the on-going struggle for justice, encouraging us to keep going:
“You cannot work for justice without disrupting the peace. Peace is not just the absence of war. It is the lack of oppression and turmoil. True peace cannot be achieved whilst there is still injustice in the world. We cannot remain quiet whilst witnessing injustice, that will not help facilitate peace. We must find the courage to speak out for those who are disadvantaged, even if it means facing a backlash. We must be brave and join those who do not have the luxury to stay silent…”
Please do download the E-Bulletin to read Danica’s article in full and receive the Diary Dates for a host of events coming up soon from ourselves, Caritas Westminster, CAFOD, Pax Christi, the Global Catholic Climate Movement and more! Please circulate these widely to your parishioners. Hyperlinks to all the registration pages can be found within the body of the text for ease of electronic circulation.
In particular, we draw your attention this month to the resources for Racial Justice, which can be found on the website of the Bishops Conference of England and Wales. These include two especially commissioned videos exploring the theme ‘A Time to Act’:
1) Zimbabwean Catholic Youth – a reflection – https://youtu.be/GxNzQ6mL25Y
2) Our Lady of Fatima, White City, West London – A parish discussion on racial justice – https://youtu.be/L2rUhjBaW8M
3) Being Black and Catholic – Video produced by the Diocese of Westminster in July 2020 with an introduction by Cardinal Vincent Nichols – https://youtu.be/mCax8kPRJoE
In addition, the following video was produced by the Education Department for school assemblies in the Diocese this week:
4) Fr Albert Ofere, Parish Priest of English Martyrs, Wembley Park, talks to school children in the Diocese about racial justice – https://vimeo.com/505696904
We continue to encourage everyone to watch these videos and participate in reflection, learning and discussion on this difficult but vitally important topic around the Diocese throughout the year. We invite all parishes to find ways to celebrate and value the diversity of our congregations, rejecting racism in all its forms, this coming Sunday and every day! Fr Dominic, myself and other members of the Commission would very much like to hear from people in the Diocese with a particular interest in this topic. Please do get in touch with us if you have ideas or feedback on how we might move forward on racial justice in the coming year. Thank you.
In peace, with justice,
Colette Joyce | Co-ordinator |Justice and Peace Commission
Diocese of Westminster
A prayer from Pope Francis
Pope Francis prays this prayer every day. I find it most apt during this pandemic and we thank all those who don’t sink into superstition but find the means to put things back in place.
“Grant me, O Lord, good digestion, and also something to digest. Grant me a healthy body, and the necessary good humor to maintain it. Grant me a simple soul that knows to treasure all that is good and that doesn’t frighten easily at the sight of evil, but rather finds the means to put things back in their place.
Give me a soul that knows not boredom, grumblings, sighs and laments, nor excess of stress, because of that obstructing thing called ‘I.’ Grant me, O Lord, a sense of good humor. Allow me the grace to be able to take a joke to discover in life a bit of joy, and to be able to share it with others. Amen”
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”
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.