32nd Sunday of Ordinary time (B)

REMEMBRANCE DAY

Today is Remembrance Day.  This year, we mark the end of the First World War one hundred years ago.  We keep silence with the rest of the nation at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.  As we do so, let’s remember and pray for all those who lost their lives in war and armed conflict.

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They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
we will remember them.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.
And let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace.
Amen.

Prayer

Father of all, look with love on all your people, living and departed.

On this day, we pray especially for all who suffered during the First World War – those who were killed and those who returned scarred by warfare, those who waited anxiously at home, and those who returned wounded and disillusioned; those who mourned, and those communities that were diminished and suffered loss.

We remember too those who acted with kindly compassion, those who bravely risked their own lives for their comrades, and those who in the aftermath of war, worked tirelessly for a more peaceful world.

And as we remember them, remember us, O Lord: grant us peace in our time and a longing for the day when people of every language, race and nation will be brought into the unity of Christ’s kingdom.

We ask this through the same Christ our Lord.

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Commitment to Peace

The ‘Peace Prayer’, often attributed to St Francis, was promoted by Pope Benedict XV in January 1916.

Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that we may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

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After Mass today, parishioners are invited to a ‘Peace Party’ in St Benedict’s Parish Centre.

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Many thanks to Ruth Ramsay for the photographs.

 


31st Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel  (Mark 12: 28-34)

One of the scribes came up to Jesus and put a question to him, ‘Which is the first of all the commandments?’ Jesus replied, ‘This is the first: Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You must love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.’ The scribe said to him, ‘Well spoken, Master; what you have said is true: that he is one and there is no other. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself, this is far more important than any holocaust or sacrifice.’ Jesus, seeing how wisely he had spoken, said, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ And after that no one dared to question him any more.

From The Jerusalem Bible © 1966 by Darton Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd.

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Reflection

In replying to the scribe, Jesus quotes the great creed of the Jewish people – the Shema – found in the book of Deuteronomy (6: 4) which is the First Reading given to us today:  “Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.”

The Shema is at the heart of Jewish daily prayer, just as the ‘Our Father’ is at the heart of Christian prayer. Jewish people recite the Shema twice each day – once in the morning and once in the evening. They are the first words a Jewish person learns to speak and the last words uttered at death.

To this, Jesus adds a second commandment quoting the book of Leviticus (19: 18):  “You must love your neighbour as yourself”.

Jesus teaches us that we love God by loving other people.  This is at the heart of being a Christian.  As the hymn goes, “And they’ll know we’re are Christians by our love.”

Fr Dave

Prayer

Lord our God,
all true love comes from you and leads to you.
You have committed yourself to us
in a covenant of lasting love
in the person of Jesus Christ.
Help us to respond to your love
and to live your commandments,
not as laws forced on us,
but as opportunities to love you
and your people, our brothers and sisters.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Adapted from Bible Claret © 2016 Bibleclaret. All Rights Reserved.

 


30th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel  (Mark 10: 46-52)

As Jesus left Jericho with his disciples and a large crowd, Bartimaeus (that is, the son of Timaeus), a blind beggar, was sitting at the side of the road. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout and to say, ‘Son of David, Jesus, have pity on me.’ And many of them scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he only shouted all the louder, ‘Son of David, have pity on me.’ Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him here.’ So they called the blind man. ‘Courage,’ they said ‘get up; he is calling you.’ So throwing off his cloak, he jumped up and went to Jesus. Then Jesus spoke, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘Rabbuni,’ the blind man said to him ‘Master, let me see again.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has saved you.’ And immediately his sight returned and he followed him along the road.

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Thought

Perhaps make Bartimaeus’ cry to Jesus, all those years ago, your prayer today.  Take a few minutes – in church, or at home, in the back garden or while you’re out for a walk – and simply say over and over, very slowly, the words:  ‘Son of David, Jesus, have pity on me’.

If you feel like chatting with the Lord, how about answering the question Jesus put to Bartimaeus:  ‘What do you want me to do for you?’

Fr Dave

Prayer

A blind man sees and follows the Lord.
May the Lord make us people
who see with eyes of faith.
May the Lord help us to see the road to follow
and to recognise the Lord in our life.
May he give us joy in following him.

Scripture Reading from ‘The Jerusalem Bible’ © 1966 by Darton Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd.  Prayer adapted from Bible Claret  © 2016 Bibleclaret. All Rights Reserved.


Synod Sunday

Pastoral Letter from the Archbishop

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29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 20/21 October 2018

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Last month the Bishops of England and Wales went to Rome for a visit and pilgrimage known as the Ad Limina Apostolorum (to the Threshold of the Apostles). Every seven or eight years or so each national hierarchy is called to Rome to give an account of what they are doing. It is not just reporting to the Pope and the heads of Vatican departments, it is also an opportunity to listen to each other. The different departments of the Vatican listened to us. Pope Francis listened to us too, and of course we listened to him.

This listening is at the heart of his authority. It is the way Pope Francis lives out one of the titles of the Pope – the servant of the servants of God. It is sometimes hard to imagine the Pope as a servant, even Pope Francis who has done away with much of the trappings that surround the Pope – but that is what he is – a servant. That is something of what Jesus was talking about in the Gospel today. He was saying that people in authority are to be servants of His people. True authority is lived out in service and that turns the way the world thinks on its head. Jesus saw authority as a way of service, to promote the good of others rather than to promote one’s own honour and glory. This is at the very heart of all our Christian service, as we each try to imitate Jesus in our daily lives.

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The only way I can live out my calling to service as your Archbishop is by listening. I need to hear the hopes and fears of our people, the challenges facing our priests and deacons, our schools, and the reality our families have to deal with each day. I have decided to call a Synod to help us to meet some of the pressing issues that we face at this time in the life of the Archdiocese. How are we to witness to the Gospel message of God’s love in a culture that seems to have little room for faith? How can we better organise our resources of priests, deacons, people and buildings so that we can become the Church that God is calling us to be? How can we best support the work of Catholic education so we pass on our faith to the next generation? How can our Catholic lives be better supported by the ministries of the Church?

The word Synod means “Together on the Way”. The Synod is a moment when together we can choose a path to walk on, guided by the voice of the Holy Spirit who will speak to us. The Synod is not just another meeting. It is a journey. We have just had a year of prayer which reached its climax for us in the Eucharistic Congress. Over the next two years we will be trying to discover the will of God through listening and learning. The voice of each one of us needs to be heard. Parishes and pastoral areas will be invited to choose members for the Synod. I hope that there will be many different opportunities for all of our people to share their hopes, their fears and their dreams of the way the Holy Spirit is at work among us to bring fresh life into our Church.

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In October 2020 our Archdiocese, priests and people together, will meet to reflect on what we have heard and vote on specific proposals that have arisen from the discussion and sharing in our parishes and pastoral areas. I have decided to work in this way because we believe that the Holy Spirit is at work in the bishops, priests and people of the Archdiocese. So, I need each one of you to play your part in our Synod process. Without you we will not hear the call of God guiding us and walking with us on our journey.

You will be given the chance to learn more about the Synod in the months to come. There is a leaflet available today which is for all of us. Please do your best to pass a copy of this leaflet on to people who may not get one from Church. The leaflet has an invitation to a meeting near you to tell you more about the Synod and how we can get involved.

I will officially convene the Synod at a special service in the Cathedral on Sunday 3rd February next year. All five hundred members of the Synod will be present at this service. From here they will be sent out to do their work of listening, reflecting and discerning, supported by the prayers of all of us. I need your help so that we can truly be a Church that listens. We all have members of our families, neighbours and friends who are Catholics, but have little contact with our parishes. Is it possible for us to listen to their experiences and their needs so that we can be a Church that serves them too? We are going to try to listen to our young people, to families with children, to those who work in our schools. What will our Church be like for them in twenty or thirty years’ time? We want to hear the experiences of those who may have made their home in our parishes only recently and to learn how we can welcome them in a better way. In all this listening and learning let’s pray that we might hear a call from God to change, to try to be His Church in a new way.

The letter to the Hebrews, our second reading today, speaks to us of God who walks with us; a High Priest who feels our weaknesses with us. It speaks of the power of prayer, reminding us that we never approach the throne of God in vain. As we prayed in the Psalm today: ‘May your love be upon us O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.’

Today is also World Mission Day. We are invited to reflect on the call of God to be His missionary disciples. God’s gifts are not given to us to be hoarded but to be shared. Please keep in your prayer the work of all those who seek to share the Gospel message across the world.

Today, with real enthusiasm in my heart, I invite you all to join in the journey which will enable us to become the Church that God is calling us to be. That is our Synod 2020 journey!

+ Malcolm McMahon OP

Archbishop of Liverpool

Have a look at the Synod website:  www.synod2020.co.uk 

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28th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel  (Mark 10: 17-30)

Jesus was setting out on a journey when a man ran up, knelt before him and put this question to him, ‘Good master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: You must not kill; You must not commit adultery; You must not steal; You must not bring false witness; You must not defraud; Honour your father and mother.’ And he said to him, ‘Master, I have kept all these from my earliest days.’ Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him, and he said, ‘There is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ But his face fell at these words and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.

Jesus looked round and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!’ The disciples were astounded by these words, but Jesus insisted, ‘My children,’ he said to them ‘how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’ They were more astonished than ever. ‘In that case’ they said to one another ‘who can be saved?’ Jesus gazed at them. ‘For men’ he said ‘it is impossible, but not for God: because everything is possible for God.’

Peter took this up. ‘What about us?’ he asked him. ‘We have left everything and followed you.’ Jesus said, ‘I tell you solemnly, there is no one who has left house, brothers, sisters, father, children or land for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not be repaid a hundred times over, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and land – not without persecutions – now in this present time and, in the world to come, eternal life.’

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Reflection

There are three sections in today’s Gospel passage: a narrative about Jesus’ encounter with a rich man, Jesus’ sayings about wealth as a possible obstacle to following him, and Jesus’ promise of reward for those who share their material possessions with the poor.

Jesus reminded the rich man of the commandments that deal with relationships with other people and challenged him to sell what he had and to give the money to the poor.    This shocked the disciples because it challenged the Jewish belief that material wealth and prosperity were signs of God’s blessings.  Instead, Jesus declared that true religion consists in sharing our blessings with others rather than hoarding them and getting inordinately attached to them.

(Adapted from Fr Anthony Kadavil)

Prayer

God of Wisdom,
whose Word probes the motives of our hearts;
with you all things are possible.
Let worldly treasure not keep us from Jesus,
who looks on us with love.
Free us to leave all things and follow him,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.


27th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

First Reading  (Genesis 2: 18-24)

The Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helpmate.’ So from the soil the Lord God fashioned all the wild beasts and all the birds of heaven. These he brought to the man to see what he would call them; each one was to bear the name the man would give it. The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of heaven and all the wild beasts. But no helpmate suitable for man was found for him. So the Lord God made the man fall into a deep sleep. And while he slept, he took one of his ribs and enclosed it in flesh. The Lord God built the rib he had taken from the man into a woman, and brought her to the man. The man exclaimed:

‘This at last is bone from my bones,
and flesh from my flesh!
This is to be called woman,
for this was taken from man.’
 

This is why a man leaves his father and mother and joins himself to his wife, and they become one body.

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Reflection

This passage is part of the second story of creation in the first book of the Bible.

  1.  Notice the beautiful image of Adam giving names to all the animals.
  2.  Notice the need Adam had for another human being – a need we all have.

Gospel  (Mark 10: 2-10)

Some Pharisees approached Jesus and asked, ‘Is it against the law for a man to divorce his wife?’ They were testing him. He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ ‘Moses allowed us’ they said ‘to draw up a writ of dismissal and so to divorce.’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘It was because you were so unteachable that he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. This is why a man must leave father and mother, and the two become one body. They are no longer two, therefore, but one body. So then, what God has united, man must not divide.’ Back in the house the disciples questioned him again about this, and he said to them, ‘The man who divorces his wife and marries another is guilty of adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another she is guilty of adultery too.’

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Reflection

Jesus sets before us an ideal:  marriage is for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish till death do us part.  I think that most people enter marriage with the intention of living out those words.  But we know that not all marriage relationships work out.  Sometimes, when a couple have tried to stay together, they discover it’s probably better if they separated.  It’s the way it is sometimes.  But just because a marriage has failed doesn’t mean a person is a second-class citizen in the Church.  On the contrary, it’s probably the time a person needs the Church the most.  In his homily before the Synod on the Family in 2015, Pope Francis said:  “The Church must search out these persons, welcome and accompany them, for a Church with closed doors betrays herself and her mission, and, instead of being a bridge, becomes a roadblock.”

Prayer

For all married couples.  In whatever part of life’s journey they find themselves, may they have God’s loving presence at the centre of their union, to support them in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, until the evening of life comes.

For those who have known the disappointment and hurt of marriage breakdown.  May they be touched by the love of God who walks each step with them, and who desires a full and happy life for them.

For those who have experienced the death of their husband or wife.  In the midst of their sorrow, may they also have the consolation and joy of cherished memories.



26th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel  (Mark 9: 38-43, 45, 47-48)

John said to Jesus, ‘Master, we saw a man who is not one of us casting out devils in your name; and because he was not one of us we tried to stop him.’ But Jesus said, ‘You must not stop him: no one who works a miracle in my name is likely to speak evil of me. Anyone who is not against us is for us.

‘If anyone gives you a cup of water to drink just because you belong to Christ, then I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward.

‘But anyone who is an obstacle to bring down one of these little ones who have faith, would be better thrown into the sea with a great millstone round his neck. And if your hand should cause you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter into life crippled, than to have two hands and go to hell, into the fire that cannot be put out. And if your foot should cause you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter into life lame, than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye should cause you to sin, tear it out; it is better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell where their worm does not die nor their fire go out.’

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Thought

The disciples worried that someone was doing good in Jesus’ name who was not one of them. This can be a danger in religion: to limit who is ‘for Jesus or God’ and who is against him.

Our response to the call of Jesus is not seen in long hours of prayer or study, but in how we live our lives.

‘A community that cherishes the little details of love, whose members care for one another and create an open and evangelising environment, is a place where the risen Lord is present, sanctifying it in accordance with the Father’s plan.’
(Pope Francis, Gaudete et Exsultate, Para 145).

It is in the small details of love, like ‘giving a cup of cold water’, that we express our commitment to Jesus. This commitment is nourished in prayer and in the sacraments.

Adapted from a reflection by Fr Donal Neary SJ (Editor of The Sacred Heart Messenger and National Director of The Apostleship of Prayer)

A CALL TO PRAYER

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There’s a lot of turmoil in the Church just now – on the one hand, there’s the scandal of child abuse in a number of countries; on the other hand, extreme conservative Catholics are trying to bring down Pope Francis.

Pope Francis invites us to join him in praying the rosary each day during October to protect the Church from evil which seeks to separate us from one another and from God.

The rosary isn’t everyone’s way of praying, but we could all probably manage a decade of the rosary each day during October. Let’s try to do that. Imagine every Catholic in the world doing that, imagine the power of that prayer.

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25th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel  (Mark 9: 30-37)

Jesus and his disciples made their way through Galilee; and he did not want anyone to know, because he was instructing his disciples; he was telling them, ‘The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men; they will put him to death; and three days after he has been put to death he will rise again.’ But they did not understand what he said and were afraid to ask him.

They came to Capernaum, and when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the road?’ They said nothing because they had been arguing which of them was the greatest. So he sat down, called the Twelve to him and said, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all.’ He then took a little child, set him in front of them, put his arms round him, and said to them, ‘Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’

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Thought

‘If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all.’

Sometimes churches put out reserved signs for VIPs when there’s a special celebration.  But the people for whom we might reserve seats might not be the ones Jesus would reserve seats for.  In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives first place to a little child.  Perhaps that tells us something about the attitude we need to have for the little ones who come to church – they have first place in God’s house.

I try not to use reserved signs in church if I can help it because in church we’re all equal and that’s how we gather around the Lord’s Table.

Prayer

O God,
protector of the poor and defender of the just,
in your kingdom the last become first,
the gentle are strong,
and the lowly exalted.

Give us wisdom from above,
that we may find in your servant Jesus
the pattern of true discipleship
and the grace to persevere in following him,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.

Prayer © 2010 International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.  Gospel from The Jerusalem Bible © 1966 by Darton Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd.


24th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel  (Mark 8: 27-35)

Jesus and his disciples left for the villages round Caesarea Philippi. On the way he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say I am?’ And they told him. ‘John the Baptist,’ they said ‘others Elijah; others again, one of the prophets.’ ‘But you,’ he asked ‘who do you say I am?’ Peter spoke up and said to him, ‘You are the Christ.’ And he gave them strict orders not to tell anyone about him.

And he began to teach them that the Son of Man was destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and to be put to death, and after three days to rise again; and he said all this quite openly. Then, taking him aside, Peter started to remonstrate with him. But, turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said to him, ‘Get behind me, Satan! Because the way you think is not God’s way but man’s.’

He called the people and his disciples to him and said, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.’

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Reflection

At the time of the Lord Jesus, the cross was feared by the peoples who were occupied by the Roman Empire. It was a brutal form of torture and death that was used for extreme offenses against political stability or the collection of taxes.

People who were under Rome’s authority trembled at the possibility of the cross and imperial Rome relied on that fright for the facilitation of control and commerce. The cross was so savage that by Roman law no formal citizen of the empire could be crucified. The Roman philosopher Cicero argued that no civilized person should even utter the word “crucifixion” since it was such an affront to civilization and decency.

And yet, in the forum of this heinous and infernal reality, the Lord Jesus – gentle and humble of heart – calls his followers to “take up their cross.” We can only imagine the initial shock and disbelief of the original listeners to his message. This teacher wants us to take up the cross? Is he serious? Is this rabbi sane?

It light of this realization, it might also help us to appreciate why the imagery of the cross was not predominant in Christian worship or art until Christianity was given legal tolerance in the fourth century. Up until that time, the popular images of the Lord Jesus were of him as the Good Shepherd or the Good Teacher. Even Christians, who accepted the hypothetical of the cross, feared its reality and avoided its depiction.

And yet, the cross is what the Lord gives as a condition to following him. How is such an invitation to be understood?

The cross stands as the world spins. It strips away any romanticism, idealism, or any such fluff. It cuts to the core of our fallen world. It lifts up the thin veneer of civilization and implodes artificiality. It shows us – in all its severity – the darkness and nothingness of sin and the real capacity for evil in our own hearts and in our world.

The Lord is not a divine handy man. He does not offer false comfort or empty promises. He does not commit himself to remove suffering from us. The Lord offers the cross and he asks his disciples to accept it.

Rather than one more self-help guide, the message of Jesus Christ is a radical call to embrace what is most feared and evil, so that they can be fought and conquered from the inside out. The Christian way of life is an empowerment by God’s grace to boldly announce good news to despair and generous redemption to sin.

The life of the Christian believer is one marked by the acceptance of the cross, in imitation of the Lord Jesus, so that goodness can be championed and glory can be revealed.

(Adapted from an article by Fr Jeffrey Kirby in www.cruxnow.com 16 September 2018)


ADOREMUS Day 3

Adoremus – Eucharistic Pilgrimage & Congress

Day 3 – Sunday 9 September 2018

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Pilgrimage Day

Watch live on www.catholic-ew.org.uk or www.shalomworldtv.org

Time Item
9:30 Solemn Mass
Celebrant: Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP
11:30 Solemn Mass
Celebrant: Cardinal Vincent Nichols
Preacher: Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP
13:00 Outdoor Eucharistic Procession
14:45 Benediction
15:00 Finish

Reflection by Cardinal Vincent Nichols

We are here in the presence of Jesus in this Most Blessed Sacrament. He is always present to us. But here we can see, touch, even taste that Presence in the Bread which is its sign and sacramental reality. Bread. Bread given, and received, so that we can have life.

This Sacrament is the presence of Jesus in the very act of Him giving Himself totally for us. Remember: Then He took some bread and said ‘This is My Body given for you’ (Lk 22:19). And so it is, to this very moment.

He gave His body, His entire self, so that we may live. It is the Bread of Life (John 6:34). He gave Himself, in death, so as to absorb all the anger of our hearts, like a sponge soaks up water. He gave Himself to take away the sins of the world. My sin, our sin. He alone can do this. He alone is not crushed by this reality of evil because He alone is truly God and truly also one of us. In His power of God He overcomes; in His humanity He takes us into that victory.

Today we come before Him knowing our failings, sensing the anger in many hearts, knowing the face of evil. I feel this with great keenness, and sadness, for the failings of my fellow bishops are there for all to see. As bishops we are bound to each other. As one of this College of bishops, I come before the Lord with little to offer; only to ask for a share in His new life. I come as a beggar, seeking forgiveness, laying the load of the hurt, damage and mistrust we have caused at the foot of the cross. Please join me in this, for me, for the Church, for yourselves, too.

The Lord is here, waiting for us to come, so that He may embrace, comfort and restore us. His presence here, in this Blessed Sacrament, is the work of God’s Holy Spirit, poured out by the will of the Father, in response to our pleading, a pleading uttered by the Church through the words and actions of the priest.

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In many places an image of the Holy Spirit is to be seen above the altar, for it is through the creative action of the Holy Spirit that this Sacrament of the Altar is brought about. This is the ‘creator Spirit’, the Spirit who hovered over the original chaos and brought forth an ordered world: the cosmos (Genesis 1:2). This is the Holy Spirit who recreates with a fountain of new life flowing from the Risen Christ. This

Spirit works within our lives to bring about the holiness which is the Father’s plan for each of us. Because of this work of re-creation by the Holy Spirit we can say that at every celebration of Mass, the Church is made new again. Yes, the Eucharist makes the Church afresh, each day! And as we stand so much in need of renewal, here, in this Sacrament, we come to its source.

Lord, create in us a new heart. Give us a new spirit in which to know You more clearly and love You more dearly. Recreate your Church, the visible Body of your Son, so that we may bring joy not grief, trust not betrayal, love not anger in the hearts of all people, especially your poor and little ones.

In our silence and prayer we ask the Lord to gather us in, to heal our wounds, to bind us to Himself. Yes, Yes, He says. But He also whispers to us, firmly, ‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Gospel to all creation.’ (Mark 16:15).

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Every one of the gifts He gives us is to be shared. He caresses us with His mercy, so that we may be merciful to others; He heals, so that we may heal; strengthens so that we may strengthen others; fills us with His unique joy so that through us that joy infects the whole world. In this Eucharist, this Thanksgiving, lies the source of our mission. From this Adoration we run forth, wanting, longing to share with others this great secret outpouring of life and goodness which has been disclosed to us. There is no true mission in the Church that does not start here, in prayer, before the Lord.

Tomorrow we will walk the streets of this City in our Procession of the Blessed Sacrament. We will carry this visible, sacramental reality of the life-giving death of Jesus into our world. There is not one iota of triumphalism or pride in our steps. In many ways ours is a penitential procession for we are focused on Jesus whom we have crucified. Yet we walk with a humble joy for He takes our failure, cruelty and deceit and overcomes it all with His love and mercy. He is our salvation and it is our humble joy to let His face be seen – his face of tender compassion and hope for our broken world.

Congress Prayer

We thank you, Father,
for the love you have shown us
in the gift of Jesus, your Son.
Keep us grateful each day
for the blessings that surround us.

As we are fed by you,
so now send us out
to share what we have received
with our hungry brothers and sisters.

We humbly ask your help to become the Church
that you are calling us to be:
a community that listens, that trusts,
that lives with courage
and that puts out its nets into new waters.

May the gentle presence of Christ in our hearts
be a source of healing, of new life
and of a deeper trust in you.
We ask this in faith
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.