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.


ADOREMUS Day 2

Adoremus – Eucharistic Pilgrimage & Congress

Day 2 – Saturday 8 September 2018

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Congress Day – Reflecting on the centrality of the Eucharist

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

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Time Item
8:15 Morning Prayer and Mass at the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, for those wishing to attend
9:30 Arena opens
10:30 Welcome & Opening Prayer: Bishop Robert Byrne, Greeting by the Apostolic Nuncio and Welcome from Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP
11:00 Keynote 1 – Bishop Robert Barron
12:30 Lunch
13:30 Keynote 2 – Bishop Robert Barron
14:30 Exploring the themes of the congress with Drama, Testimony and Presentations
15:30 Break
16:00 Exposition and Benediction with Evening Prayer of Corpus Christi to include a reflection from Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales
17:00 Finish

 


ADOREMUS Day 1

Adoremus – Eucharistic Pilgrimage & Congress

Day 1 – Friday 7 September 2018

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Symposium Day – Exploring the Place of Eucharistic Adoration

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

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Time Item
10:00-10:30 Arrival and Coffee
10:30-11:00 Welcome & Opening Prayer: Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP and the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain
11:00-11:45 Keynote 1: The Scriptural Context. A deepening of our adoration and understanding of the Holy Eucharist must begin with the Scriptures. This presentation examines various relevant texts of both the Old and New Testaments and their Jewish and wider backgrounds. Rev Canon Mervyn Tower, MA, SSL, PhD. Parish Priest, Corpus Christi, Oxford
11:45-12:00 Short Break
12:00-12:45 Keynote 2: The Eucharist in the life of the Church. The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Church’s life and mission. Canon David J Oakley, Rector of St Mary’s College, Oscott
12:50-13:35 Keynote 3: Teaching the Eucharist. The Eucharist won’t make sense unless it is taught from a lived context that makes sense of it. Sr Margaret Atkins CRSA. A member of the Augustinian Community at Boarbank Hall in Cumbria. A former teacher of Theology at Trinity and All Saints College, Leeds
13:35-14:30 Lunch
In the afternoon delegates can attend 1 of the 3 presentations for each time slot
14:30-15:15 Presentation Set 1
Preparing Children for the Sacraments of Initiation.
Dora Nash is the author of popular Sacramental Preparation Courses Confirmed in the Faith and Jesus Comes to Me. She was Head of RE for over twenty years at Newman’s Oratory School, now near Reading.
The ministry of the Eucharist in hospitals and prisons.
The Right Reverend Paul Mason is an Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Southwark. Fr Paul Douthwaite is the Bishops’ Conference National Chaplain for Prisons.
Eucharistic Liturgical Rites outside of Mass.
Father Paul Gunter OSB, a monk of Douai Abbey, holds a doctorate from the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy in Rome where he taught for many years. He is Secretary of the Department of Christian Life and Worship of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and parish priest of Our Lady and St Joseph Alcester.
In the afternoon delegates can attend 1 of the 3 presentations for each time slot
15:30-16:15 Presentation Set 2
The Eucharist as a sign of the Church’s Unity: “One Bread, One Body” revisited
Dr Dominic Robinson SJ teaches Dogmatic and Pastoral Theology at Heythrop College and Allen Hall Seminary and is the Vice-Chair of the Society for Ecumenical Studies and of Churches Together in Westminster. He will be assisted by Canon John O’Toole, National Ecumenical Officer for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference and Anglican, Methodist and Salvation Army ecumenical colleagues.
 “A kingdom of justice, love and peace”: The Eucharist and Social Justice
Dr Phil McCarthy is the Chief Executive of Caritas Social Action Network, the domestic social action agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. He is a former family doctor with a strong interest in Catholic Social Teaching.
 “Teaching children to pray before the Eucharist”
Julie Rourke is a Primary Religious Education Advisor and Section 48 Inspector for the Christian Education Department at the Archdiocese of Liverpool.
In the afternoon delegates can attend 1 of the 3 presentations for each time slot
16:30–17:15 Presentation Set 3
“John Henry Newman and Dominic Barberi: An historical moment in Eucharistic Adoration”
Fr Ian Ker is generally regarded as the leading authority on the life and writings of Bl John Henry Newman, on whom he has written the definitive biography as well as several other books.
“Musical resources for Adoration”
Dr Christopher McElroy is the Director of Music at Liverpool’s iconic Metropolitan Cathedral.
Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion: Ministry and Practice
Fr Chris Thomas is a priest of the Archdiocese of Liverpool and the Director of its lrenaeus Project.
Sr Moira Meeghan is a Sister of St Mary of Namur who grew up in St Helens and followed a career in teaching. After a period of further study in pastoral theology and spiritual accompaniment Moira joined the Irenaeus Project in 2015.
17:30–17:45 Conclusion & Closing Prayer
18.15 Choral Vespers followed by Mass at 1900 is available at the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral for those wishing to attend

22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel  (Mark 7: 1-8, 14-15, 21-23)

The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered round Jesus, and they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with unclean hands, that is, without washing them. For the Pharisees, and the Jews in general, follow the tradition of the elders and never eat without washing their arms as far as the elbow; and on returning from the market place they never eat without first sprinkling themselves. There are also many other observances which have been handed down to them concerning the washing of cups and pots and bronze dishes. So these Pharisees and scribes asked him, ‘Why do your disciples not respect the tradition of the elders but eat their food with unclean hands?’ He answered, ‘It was of you hypocrites that Isaiah so rightly prophesied in this passage of scripture:

This people honours me only with lip-service,
while their hearts are far from me.
The worship they offer me is worthless,
the doctrines they teach are only human regulations.

You put aside the commandment of God to cling to human traditions.’ He called the people to him again and said, ‘Listen to me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that goes into a man from outside can make him unclean; it is the things that come out of a man that make him unclean. For it is from within, from men’s hearts, that evil intentions emerge: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within and make a man unclean.’

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Reflection

She was a religious woman in her seventies and spoke to me about her grandson who was gay and was now inviting her to his marriage to his same-sex partner. She knew what she wanted to do – to go to the wedding and wish him well out of her love for him.

Deep-down she wondered – did she agree with what he was doing. She had heard of church rules and regulations. Her heart told her that love for her grandson was more important, and that meant never closing the door of love.

There can of course be a great security in human customs and church traditions. Jesus knows this, and he knows that he has to speak strongly to get beneath religious traditions, rituals and laws to the real love-message of the Gospels.

God looks at the heart. Of people who are too focused on ritual and law for their own sake, he says, ‘their hearts are far from me.’

Our Christian faith is based on a love-relationship with God. From this love, our actions and our rituals flow. From this love flows our non-judgemental attitude to others. Into this love, happiness enters from God and flows from us to others. Words of Pope Francis reiterate this: “Keep your gaze fixed on Jesus Christ and learn from him how to love with a truly human heart, to care for the lost and hurting members of his flock, to work for justice and show solidarity with the weak and the poor’ (to Sacred Heart Missionaries, May 2018).

Of course she should go to the wedding!

Thank you to Fr Donal Neary SJ for this reflection

COUNTDOWN TO ADOREMUS… 1 Week

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‘Adoremus’ – the National Eucharistic Congress and Pilgrimage will take place in Liverpool next weekend. Some 10,000 Catholics from all over the country will arrive in Liverpool for the first Eucharistic Congress to be held in this country since 1908.

Friday 7 September

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Pilgrims will be welcomed to the city by Archbishop Malcolm and Archbishop Edward Adams, who is the representative of the Holy See in the UK. During the day, delegates will hear presentations on the Eucharist in the life of the Church and how this is seen in hospitals and prisons, through social justice and ecumenical relations, and in education and music.

Saturday 8 September

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The main speaker will be Bishop Robert Barron, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and founder of ‘Word on Fire’ Catholic Ministries, which attracts millions of visitors to its website each year. Internationally renowned Bishop Barron uses the tools of new media to promote the Catholic faith. Following his address, the themes of the Congress will be explored through drama, testimony and presentations.

Sunday 9 September

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There will be two Pilgrimage Masses in the Cathedral: one at 9.30 am with Archbishop Malcom, and one at 11.30 am with Cardinal Vincent Nichols. The Congress will conclude with an outdoor Eucharistic Procession through the streets surrounding the Cathedral at 1.00 pm. While the Masses are now fully booked, anyone can turn up to the procession.

Youth Congress

Alongside the main Congress there will be a Youth Congress for 1,000 young people in the Echo Arena Auditorium on Saturday 8 September. For further details: www.adoremusyouth.co.uk

Parallel Programme

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In addition to the main events, a Parallel Programme of 27 different events has been organised in churches and other venues close to Liverpool City Centre. For details of all these events: www.liverpoolcatholic.org.uk/adoremus

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.

STOP PRESS

Lost & Found – Gospel Concert

You are invited to a great night out in Liverpool next Saturday at 8.00 pm in the Echo Arena Auditorium as the well-known author, Frank Cottrell-Boyce, and the Soul Sanctuary Gospel Choir perform a soulful retelling of the Prodigal Son. Tickets are £10 from 0344 8000 410.