4th Sunday of Easter (C)

Gospel  (John 10: 27-30)

Jesus said:

‘The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice;
I know them and they follow me.
I give them eternal life;
they will never be lost
and no one will ever steal them from me.
The Father who gave them to me is greater than anyone,
and no one can steal from the Father.
The Father and I are one.’

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Reflection

Out of all the billions of people who have been, who are and who will be, God knows you by name and cares for you. You can never be lost, because God has made a decision to love you and nothing can change that. Even when life is hard and you are faced with worry and anxiety, God still loves you. You can face the troubles in life because God will never abandon you.

Prayer

Risen Jesus,
may we listen for your voice in the depths of our hearts,
and in listening
may we have the courage to follow you,
knowing that we are safe in your loving care
and have no need to be afraid.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

holy-see

New norms for the whole Church against those who abuse or cover up

On Thursday, Pope Francis issued sweeping new laws for the Catholic Church on the investigation of abuse in the Church, mandating reporting for the first time and creating a structure to investigate claims against bishops and instances of cover up. In effect, this marks the development of a global system of accountability for the handling of abuse reports. You can read the full document on the Vatican website under ‘Motu Proprio’ or the official summary here: vos-estis-lux-mundi

 


3rd Sunday of Easter (C)

Gospel  (John 21: 1-19)

Jesus showed himself again to the disciples. It was by the Sea of Tiberias, and it happened like this: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two more of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said, ‘I’m going fishing.’ They replied, ‘We’ll come with you.’ They went out and got into the boat but caught nothing that night.

It was light by now and there stood Jesus on the shore, though the disciples did not realise that it was Jesus. Jesus called out, ‘Have you caught anything, friends?’ And when they answered, ‘No’, he said, ‘Throw the net out to starboard and you’ll find something.’ So they dropped the net, and there were so many fish that they could not haul it in. The disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.’ At these words ‘It is the Lord’, Simon Peter, who had practically nothing on, wrapped his cloak round him and jumped into the water. The other disciples came on in the boat, towing the net and the fish; they were only about a hundred yards from land.

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As soon as they came ashore they saw that there was some bread there, and a charcoal fire with fish cooking on it. Jesus said, ‘Bring some of the fish you have just caught.’ Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore, full of big fish, one hundred and fifty-three of them; and in spite of there being so many the net was not broken. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ None of the disciples was bold enough to ask, ‘Who are you?’; they knew quite well it was the Lord. Jesus then stepped forward, took the bread and gave it to them, and the same with the fish. This was the third time that Jesus showed himself to the disciples after rising from the dead.

After the meal Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do?’ He answered, ‘Yes Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He replied, ‘Yes, Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Look after my sheep.’ Then he said to him a third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was upset that he asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and said, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.

‘I tell you most solemnly,
when you were young
you put on your own belt
and walked where you liked;
but when you grow old
you will stretch out your hands,
and somebody else will put a belt round you
and take you where you would rather not go.’

In these words he indicated the kind of death by which Peter would give glory to God. After this he said, ‘Follow me.’

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Meditation

I come to my place of prayer, quieting my mind and spirit. I breathe gently, reminding myself that I am in the presence of my risen Lord. I rest here as long as I am comfortable…

Turning to the Gospel, I read it slowly. It is long but very vivid. Maybe I can imagine the scene. What parts draw my attention? Do I identify with Peter? In what way? Sitting with the disciples, what feelings arise as I contemplate this appearance of Jesus? …

Perhaps I am drawn by Jesus’s gentleness, his thoughtfulness, his humanity. Or, seeing echoes of earlier stories, I may be struck by his non-judgmental acceptance of his doubting disciples. I speak to the Lord of how I feel…

I turn to look at my own life. Can I see the risen Jesus in my work, my neighbours and surroundings? Maybe I shall try to be more aware this week…

I end my prayer with a slow ‘Glory be…’

From ‘Prego’ (c) 2019 St Beuno’s Outreach, Diocese of Wrexham


2nd Sunday of Easter (C)

alleluia

Gospel  (John 20: 19-31)

In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.

‘As the Father sent me,
so am I sending you.’
 After saying this he breathed on them and said:

‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
For those whose sins you forgive,
they are forgiven;
for those whose sins you retain,
they are retained.’

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Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. When the disciples said, ‘We have seen the Lord’, he answered, ‘Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.’ Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. ‘Peace be with you’ he said. Then he spoke to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.’ Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him:

‘You believe because you can see me.
Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’

There were many other signs that Jesus worked and the disciples saw, but they are not recorded in this book. These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this you may have life through his name.

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Therefore, O Lord,
we pray you that this candle,
hallowed to the honour of your name,
may persevere undimmed,
to overcome the darkness of this night.

Receive it as a pleasing fragrance,
and let it mingle with the lights of heaven.

May this flame be found still burning
by the Morning Star:
the one Morning Star who never sets,
Christ your Son,
who, coming back from death’s domain,
has shed his peaceful light on humanity,
and lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Excerpt from the English translation of the Roman Missal © 2010 International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.


Easter Sunday (C)

Prayer for Sri Lanka

prayer-for-sri-lanka

Christ is risen!  He is risen, indeed!

Christus resurrexit! Resurrexit vere!
Chrystus zmartwychwstał! Prawdziwie zmartwychwstał!
Khristos voskrese! Voistinu voskrese!
Le Christ est ressuscité! En verité il est ressuscité!
Tá Críost éirithe! Go deimhin, tá sé éirithe!
Atgyfododd Crist! Yn wir atgyfododd!

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Gospel  (John 20: 1-9)

It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb’ she said ‘and we don’t know where they have put him.’

So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first; he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go in. Simon Peter who was following now came up, went right into the tomb, saw the linen cloths on the ground, and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed. Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

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Lord God, this is the day that you have made!
Raising Jesus from the dead,
and raising us with him,
you have fashioned for yourself a new people,
washed in the waters of baptism,
sealed with the gift of the Spirit,
and invited to the banquet of the Lamb!

Prepare our hearts, Lord,
to celebrate this Easter festival with great joy.

We ask this through your Son, our Passover and our Peace,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.   Amen.

(c) 1998 ICEL.

malcolm

EASTER MESSAGE FROM THE ARCHBISHOP

Whether we recognise it or not our lives have been changed for ever by the Risen Lord at Easter. All too often we fail to see the good things of life when they are right in front of us, it may be the joy which other people can bring us, or it could be something we see in the beauty of the world around us, particularly as new life comes to us in spring time after the darkness of the winter months.

On the first Easter morning Mary of Magdala stayed outside the empty tomb weeping. She was grieving, mourning the death of Jesus. It was the end of everything that she had hoped for and believed in. Her Lord had been crucified and buried, now his body had been taken. As she wept a man came up to her and said, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?’ Mary didn’t recognise the man and thought he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and remove him.’ Then the man looked at her and said, ‘Mary’ and at that point she recognised him as Jesus, the Risen Lord.

In that instant Mary’s life changed, all she had hoped for came true, and in the most unexpected way. She didn’t recognise Jesus, she even thought he was the gardener, and then she knew him. ‘It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb’, and with the dawn the darkness of her own life was transformed for ever. If we can hear the Risen Lord saying our name, our lives can be transformed too.

We live in difficult times. These last weeks and months have been filled with uncertainty and division. Political indecision and financial insecurity lead us to worry about the future for ourselves and for our families. We need the light to keep us going and give us hope. Real hope is based on the resurrection of Jesus, otherwise it is just optimism. The trouble with optimism is that it is just a desire for things to get better and is really only wishful thinking. Hope says that they will get better because Jesus has risen from the dead, and that hope is given to us too. So why not enjoy this season of Easter by looking for signs of new life and resurrection in the ordinary things we encounter every day. You will be surprised by what you see, your faith will be enriched, and it will be fun.

+ Malcolm McMahon, OP
Archbishop of Liverpool


Holy Week 2019

THE EASTER TRIDUUM

Holy Saturday

holy-sat

In silence, the world waits.

Good Friday

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.” Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, “Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.” When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha.

carrying-the-cross

Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, “Here is your King!” They cried out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but the emperor.” Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, “The King of the Jews,” but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

crucifixion

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfil what the scripture says, “They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.” And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfil the scripture), “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

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(cf. John 19: 1-30)

Holy Thursday

Gospel  (John 13: 1-15)

It was before the festival of the Passover, and Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to pass from this world to the Father. He had always loved those who were his in the world, but now he showed how perfect his love was.

They were at supper, and the devil had already put it into the mind of Judas Iscariot son of Simon, to betray him. Jesus knew that the Father had put everything into his hands, and that he had come from God and was returning to God, and he got up from table, removed his outer garment and, taking a towel, wrapped it round his waist; he then poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel he was wearing. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus answered, ‘At the moment you do not know what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ ‘Never!’ said Peter ‘You shall never wash my feet.’ Jesus replied, ‘If I do not wash you, you can have nothing in common with me.’ ‘Then, Lord,’ said Simon Peter ‘not only my feet, but my hands and my head as well!’ Jesus said, ‘No one who has taken a bath needs washing, he is clean all over. You too are clean, though not all of you are.’ He knew who was going to betray him, that was why he said, ‘though not all of you are.’

When he had washed their feet and put on his clothes again he went back to the table. ‘Do you understand’ he said ‘what I have done to you? You call me Master and Lord, and rightly; so I am. If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you.’

pope-francis-in-argentina

Pope Francis washing feet when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires

Wednesday of Holy Week

Gospel  (Matthew 26: 14-25)

One of the Twelve, the man called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What are you prepared to give me if I hand him over to you?’ They paid him thirty silver pieces, and from that moment he looked for an opportunity to betray him.

Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus to say, ‘Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the passover?’ ‘Go to so-and-so in the city’ he replied ‘and say to him, “The Master says: My time is near. It is at your house that I am keeping Passover with my disciples”.’ The disciples did what Jesus told them and prepared the Passover.

When evening came he was at table with the twelve disciples. And while they were eating he said ‘I tell you solemnly, one of you is about to betray me.’ They were greatly distressed and started asking him in turn, ‘Not I, Lord, surely?’ He answered, ‘Someone who has dipped his hand into the dish with me, will betray me. The Son of Man is going to his fate, as the scriptures say he will, but alas for that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! Better for that man if he had never been born!’ Judas, who was to betray him; asked in his turn, ‘Not I, Rabbi, surely?’ ‘They are your own words’ answered Jesus.

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Walk of Witness for Peace today at 12.00 noon beginning opposite the Bridegfoot War Memorial in Warrington.

Tuesday of Holy Week

Fire at Notre Dame in Paris

notre-dame

Last night, a fire broke out at the famous Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris and spread rapidly across the building. Cardinal Nichols said: “The shock at the outbreak of this fire is spreading round the world. It is an iconic building visited by millions but more importantly is a symbol of faith which is at the heart of Europe. We therefore all pray that the fire is extinguished quickly and with a shared effort the building made good.”

Gospel  (John 13: 21-33, 36-38)

While at supper with his disciples, Jesus was troubled in spirit and declared, ‘I tell you most solemnly, one of you will betray me.’ The disciples looked at one another, wondering which he meant. The disciple Jesus loved was reclining next to Jesus; Simon Peter signed to him and said, ‘Ask who it is he means’, so leaning back on Jesus’ breast he said, ‘Who is it, Lord?’ ‘It is the one’ replied Jesus ‘to whom I give the piece of bread that I shall dip in the dish.’ He dipped the piece of bread and gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. At that instant, after Judas had taken the bread, Satan entered him. Jesus then said, ‘What you are going to do, do quickly.’ None of the others at table understood the reason he said this. Since Judas had charge of the common fund, some of them thought Jesus was telling him, ‘Buy what we need for the festival’, or telling him to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the piece of bread he went out. Night had fallen.

When he had gone Jesus said:

‘Now has the Son of Man been glorified,
and in him God has been glorified.
If God has been glorified in him,
God will in turn glorify him in himself,
and will glorify him very soon.
‘My little children,
I shall not be with you much longer.
You will look for me,
And, as I told the Jews,
where I am going, you cannot come.’

Simon Peter said, ‘Lord, where are you going?’ Jesus replied, ‘Where I am going you cannot follow me now; you will follow me later.’ Peter said to him, ‘Why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’ ‘Lay down your life for me?’ answered Jesus. ‘I tell you most solemnly, before the cock crows you will have disowned me three times.’

judas

Holy Week Penance Service (Service of Reconciliation) tonight (Tuesday) at 7.30 pm at St Oswald’s.  Walk of Witness for Peace tomorrow (Wednesday) at 12.00 noon beginning opposite the Bridegfoot War Memorial in Warrington.

Monday of Holy Week

Gospel  (John 12: 1-11)

Six days before the Passover, Jesus went to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom he had raised from the dead. They gave a dinner for him there; Martha waited on them and Lazarus was among those at table. Mary brought in a pound of very costly ointment, pure nard, and with it anointed the feet of Jesus, wiping them with her hair; the house was full of the scent of the ointment. Then Judas Iscariot – one of his disciples, the man who was to betray him – said, ‘Why wasn’t this ointment sold for three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor?’ He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he was in charge of the common fund and used to help himself to the contributions. So Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone; she had to keep this scent for the day of my burial. You have the poor with you always, you will not always have me.’

Meanwhile a large number of Jews heard that he was there and came not only on account of Jesus but also to see Lazarus whom he had raised from the dead. Then the chief priests decided to kill Lazarus as well, since it was on his account that many of the Jews were leaving them and believing in Jesus.

mary-of-bethany

Holy Week Penance Service tomorrow (Tuesday) at St Oswald’s at 7.30 pm.

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Today we read St Luke’s account of the Passion of our Lord to prepare us for the great events we will celebrate this week.  If you get chance, why not go somewhere where you can be quiet for a little while and read the passage.

Luke 22: 14-23: 56

When the hour came, Jesus took his place at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, ‘I have longed to eat this passover with you before I suffer; because, I tell you, I shall not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’

Then, taking a cup, he gave thanks and said, ‘Take this and share it among you, because from now on, I tell you, I shall not drink wine until the kingdom of God comes.’

Then he took some bread, and when he had given thanks, broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body which will be given for you; do this as a memorial of me.’ He did the same with the cup after supper, and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood which will be poured out for you.

‘And yet, here with me on the table is the hand of the man who betrays me. The Son of Man does indeed go to his fate even as it has been decreed, but alas for that man by whom he is betrayed!’ And they began to ask one another which of them it could be who was to do this thing.

last-supper

A dispute arose also between them about which should be reckoned the greatest, but he said to them, ‘Among pagans it is the kings who lord it over them, and those who have authority over them are given the title Benefactor. This must not happen with you. No; the greatest among you must behave as if he were the youngest, the leader as if he were the one who serves. For who is the greater: the one at table or the one who serves? The one at table, surely? Yet here am I among you as one who serves!

‘You are the men who have stood by me faithfully in my trials; and now I confer a kingdom on you, just as my Father conferred one on me: you will eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel.

‘Simon, Simon! Satan, you must know, has got his wish to sift you all like wheat; but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail, and once you have recovered, you in your turn must strengthen your brothers.’ ‘Lord,’ he answered ‘I would be ready to go to prison with you, and to death.’ Jesus replied, ‘I tell you, Peter, by the time the cock crows today you will have denied three times that you know me.’

He said to them, ‘When I sent you out without purse or haversack or sandals, were you short of anything?’ ‘No’ they said. He said to them, ‘But now if you have a purse, take it; if you have a haversack, do the same; if you have no sword, sell your cloak and buy one, because I tell you these words of scripture have to be fulfilled in me: He let himself be taken for a criminal Yes, what scripture says about me is even now reaching its fulfilment.’ ‘Lord,’ they said ‘there are two swords here now.’ He said to them, ‘That is enough!’

He then left to make his way as usual to the Mount of Olives, with the disciples following. When they reached the place he said to them, ‘Pray not to be put to the test.’

Then he withdrew from them, about a stone’s throw away, and knelt down and prayed. ‘Father,’ he said ‘if you are willing, take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, let your will be done, not mine.’ Then an angel appeared to him, coming from heaven to give him strength. In his anguish he prayed even more earnestly, and his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.

When he rose from prayer he went to the disciples and found them sleeping for sheer grief. ‘Why are you asleep?’ he said to them. ‘Get up and pray not to be put to the test.’

He was still speaking when a number of men appeared, and at the head of them the man called Judas, one of the Twelve, who went up to Jesus to kiss him. Jesus said, ‘Judas, are you betraying the son of Man with a kiss?’ His followers, seeing what was happening, said, ‘Lord, shall we use our swords?’ And one of them struck out at the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. But at this Jesus spoke. ‘Leave off!’ he said ‘That will do!’ And touching the man’s ear he healed him.

gethsemane

Then Jesus spoke to the chief priests and captains of the Temple guard and elders who had come for him. ‘Am I a brigand’ he said ‘that you had to set out with swords and clubs? When I was among you in the Temple day after day you never moved to lay hands on me. But this is your hour; this is the reign of darkness.’

They seized him then and led him away, and they took him to the high priest’s house. Peter followed at a distance. They had lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and Peter sat down among them, and as he was sitting there by the blaze a servant-girl saw him, peered at him, and said, ‘This person was with him too.’ But he denied it. ‘Woman,’ he said ‘I do not know him.’ ‘Shortly afterwards someone else saw him and said, ‘You are another of them.’ But Peter replied, ‘I am not, my friend.’ About an hour later another man insisted, saying, ‘This fellow was certainly with him. Why, he is a Galilean.’ ‘My friend,’ said Peter ‘I do not know what you are talking about.’ At that instant, while he was still speaking, the cock crew, and the Lord turned and looked straight at Peter, and Peter remembered what the Lord had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows today, you will have disowned me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Meanwhile the men who guarded Jesus were mocking and beating him. They blindfolded him and questioned him. ‘Play the prophet’ they said. ‘Who hit you then?’ And they continued heaping insults on him.

When day broke there was a meeting of the elders of the people, attended by the chief priests and scribes. He was brought before their council, and they said to him, ‘If you are the Christ, tell us.’ ‘If I tell you,’ he replied ‘you will not believe me, and if I question you, you will not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the Power of God. Then they all said, ‘So you are the Son of God then?’ He answered, ‘It is you who say I am.’ ‘What need of witnesses have we now?’ they said. ‘We have heard it for ourselves from his own lips.’ The whole assembly then rose, and they brought him before Pilate.

pilate

They began their accusation by saying, ‘We found this man inciting our people to revolt, opposing payment of the tribute to Caesar, and claiming to be Christ, a king.’ Pilate put to him this question, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ ‘It is you who say it’ he replied. Pilate then said to the chief priests and the crowd, ‘I find no case against this man.’ But they persisted, ‘He is inflaming the people with his teaching all over Judaea; it has come all the way from Galilee, where he started, down to here.’ When Pilate heard this, he asked if the man were a Galilean; and finding that he came under Herod’s jurisdiction he passed him over to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.

Herod was delighted to see Jesus; he had heard about him and had been wanting for a long time to set eyes on him; moreover, he was hoping to see some miracle worked by him. So he questioned him at some length; but without getting any reply. Meanwhile the chief priests and the scribes were there, violently pressing their accusations. Then Herod, together with his guards, treated him with contempt and made fun of him; he put a rich cloak on him and sent him back to Pilate. And though Herod and Pilate had been enemies before, they were reconciled that same day.

Pilate then summoned the chief priests and the leading men and the people. ‘You brought this man before me’ he said ‘as a political agitator. Now I have gone into the matter myself in your presence and found no case against the man in respect of all the charges you bring against him. Nor has Herod either, since is he has sent him back to us. As you can see, the man has done nothing that deserves death, So I shall have him flogged and then let him go.’ But as one man they howled, ‘Away with him! Give us Barabbas!’ (This man had been thrown into prison for causing a riot in the city and for murder.)

Pilate was anxious to set Jesus free and addressed them again, but they shouted back, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ And for the third time he spoke to them, ‘Why? What harm has this man done? I have found no case against him that deserves death, so I shall have him punished and then let him go’ But they kept on shouting at the top of their voices, demanding that he should be crucified. And their shouts were growing louder.

Pilate then gave his verdict: their demand was to be granted. He released the man they asked for, who had been imprisoned for rioting and murder, and handed Jesus over to them to deal with as they pleased.

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As they were leading him away they seized on a man, Simon from Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and made him shoulder the cross and carry it behind Jesus. Large numbers of people followed him, and of women too, who mourned and lamented for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep rather for yourselves and for your children. For the days will surely come when people will say, “Happy are those who are barren, the wombs that have never borne, the breasts that have never suckled!” Then they will begin to say to the mountains, “Fall on us!”; to the hills, “Cover us.” For if men use the green wood like this, what will happen when it is dry?’ Now with him they were also leading out two other criminals to be executed.

When they reached the place called The Skull, they crucified him there and the two criminals also, one on the right, the other on the left. Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.’ Then they cast lots to share out his clothing.

The people stayed there watching him. As for the leaders, they jeered at him. ‘He saved others,’ they said ‘let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.’ The soldiers mocked him too, and when they approached to offer vinegar they said, ‘If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.’ Above him there was an inscription: ‘This is the King of the Jews.’

One of the criminals hanging there abused him. ‘Are you not the Christ?’ he said. ‘Save yourself and us as well.’ But the other spoke up and rebuked him. ‘Have you no fear of God at all?’ he said. ‘You got the same sentence as he did, but in our case we deserved it: we are paying for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong. Jesus,’ he said ‘remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ ‘Indeed, I promise you,’ he replied ‘today you will be with me in paradise.’

It was now about the sixth hour and, with the sun eclipsed, a darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. The veil of the Temple was torn right down the middle; and when Jesus had cried out in a loud voice, he said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit’ With these words he breathed his last.

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When the centurion saw what had taken place, he gave praise to God and said, ‘This was a great and good man.’ And when all the people who had gathered for the spectacle saw what had happened, they went home beating their breasts.

All his friends stood at a distance; so also did the women who had accompanied him from Galilee, and they saw all this happen.

Then a member of the council arrived, an upright and virtuous man named Joseph. He had not consented to what the others had planned and carried out. He came from Arimathaea, a Jewish town, and he lived in the hope of seeing the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. He then took it down, wrapped it in a shroud and put him in a tomb which was hewn in stone in which no one had yet been laid. It was Preparation Day and the sabbath was imminent.

Meanwhile the women who had come from Galilee with Jesus were following behind. They took note of the tomb and of the position of the body.

Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. And on the sabbath day they rested, as the Law required.


Fifth Week of Lent

Fifth Saturday of Lent

“From the Cross, Jesus teaches us the powerful courage of renunciation. Because we will never go forward if we are weighed down by heavy loads.”

(Pope Francis, 11 April 2019)

Fifth Friday of Lent

Today, Friday 12 April, the Catholic community in England and Wales is encouraged to answer Pope Francis’ call to take part in a day of prayer for survivors of abuse.

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We pray in sorrow for the suffering endured by so many in so many ways.
Lord, in your mercy.   R. Hear our prayer.

We pray for those who were disbelieved – or punished for trying to speak the truth.
Lord, in your mercy.   R. Hear our prayer.

We pray for those whose memories have been reawakenedand whose pain feels as fresh as the times when it was inflicted.
Lord, in your mercy.   R. Hear our prayer.

We pray for those who hid the truth – from themselves – and from others.
Lord, in your mercy.   R. Hear our prayer.

We pray for those who chose to protect the institutionrather than the children and vulnerable adults Christ himself calls us to protect
Lord, in your mercy.   R. Hear our prayer.

We pray for those who perpetrated these crimes – who committed these grave sins.
Lord, in your mercy.   R. Hear our prayer.

We pray for ourselves – for the anger – the dismay – the revulsion – the despair… that we might be forces for good – bearers of light in this time of deep darkness.
Lord, in your mercy.   R. Hear our prayer.

(c) Wellsprings

Fifth Thursday of Lent

Encountering Jesus

“The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. I invite all Christians everywhere to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them.

I ask you to do this unfailingly every day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord.

The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step toward Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms.

Now is the time to say to Jesus, “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love. Yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, and take me once more into your redeeming embrace.”

How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost!”

Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium (2013)

Fifth Wednesday of Lent

pope-2

Last Sunday, Pope Francis visited the parish of San Giulio Papa, Monteverde, in the diocese of Rome.  During a meeting with parishioners, Pope Francis was asked if he had ever personally fed the poor. “Yes, several times”, he said, adding that feeding the poor in person is something “that all Christians must do”.

A young person asked Pope Francis about the difficulty of trusting God.  Pope Francis said that we should not be afraid to doubt, and to be honest with God, telling Him exactly how we feel. He said it is important, too, to share our feelings with others, discussing them, and growing with the help of others.

Speaking to older members of the parish who may be suffering, Pope Francis said: “Jesus never disappoints, never!” Jesus knows what it means to suffer.  “All the complaints that we can make to Jesus, He transforms them in prayer, and presents them to the Father, because He went through all these things before us”.

Speaking to  newlyweds and young couples preparing for marriage, Pope Francis recalled the three key words that are essential for married life: “May I?”, “Thank you”, and “Sorry”. “Perhaps you already know them”, he said, “but they must be learnt with the mind and with the heart”. He also counselled young couples not to be afraid to fight, but to never end the day without making peace.

Finally, addressing volunteers in the parish, Pope Francis offered three “signs” that a parish is doing well: prayer; the “charity of facts” exemplified by charitable works; and “passive charity – that you love one another and do not criticise one another”.

(c) Vatican News

Fifth Tuesday of Lent

“We need to reject the desire to identify only with those who are sinless. How could the Church have excluded sinners from her ranks? It is for their salvation that Jesus took flesh, died and rose again.”

Pope Benedict XVI, Meeting with Clergy in Poland, 25 May 2006

Fifth Monday of Lent

hand-of-god

The Heart of Compassion
Compassionate God,
your generous presence
is always attuned to hurting ones.
Your listening ear is bent
toward the cries of the wounded
Your heart of love
fills with tears for the suffering.

Turn my inward eye to see
that I am not alone.
I am a part of all of life.
Each one’s joy and sorrow
is my joy and sorrow,
and mine is theirs.
May I draw strength
from this inner communion.
May it daily recommit me
to be a compassionate presence
for all who struggle with life’s pain.

(c) Joyce Rupp

5th Sunday of Lent (C)

lent-5

Gospel  (John 8: 1-11)

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At daybreak he appeared in the Temple again; and as all the people came to him, he sat down and began to teach them.

The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman along who had been caught committing adultery; and making her stand there in full view of everybody, they said to Jesus, ‘Master, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery, and Moses has ordered us in the Law to condemn women like this to death by stoning. What have you to say?’ They asked him this as a test, looking for something to use against him. But Jesus bent down and started writing on the ground with his finger. As they persisted with their question, he looked up and said, ‘If there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Then he bent down and wrote on the ground again. When they heard this they went away one by one, beginning with the eldest, until Jesus was left alone with the woman, who remained standing there. He looked up and said, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir’ she replied. ‘Neither do I condemn you,’ said Jesus ‘go away, and do not sin any more.’

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Thought

It appears the Sultan of Brunei wants to bring back this kind of barbaric and self-righteous kind of punishment for those deemed less than perfect.

Scripture scholars wonder what Jesus wrote in the sand.  Was he just doodling, or was he listing the sins of those who were ready to stone the woman?

We should be very careful before making a judgement about another person, but we’re not.  Too often we rush to judge each other, either in our thoughts or in our conversations with others.

Jesus doesn’t condemn the woman, he forgives her, gives her another chance.  Let’s try to do the same.

Fr Dave


Fourth Week of Lent

Fourth Saturday of Lent

“Lent is the time to rediscover our way back to life. The Lord is the destination of our journey in the world: the course must be set on Him.”

(Pope Francis, 6 April 2019)

Fourth Friday of Lent

acn

News from Aid to the Church in Need

The slaughter of 130 Christians within six weeks – as a part of a surge in violent attacks by Islamist militant Fulani herdsmen – has prompted a Catholic priest to tell the Vatican that Nigeria is the new centre of Islamic extremism. Speaking at a meeting in the Vatican organised by Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need, Father Joseph Bature Fidelis, from the Diocese of Maiduguri, in north-east Nigeria said: “Nigeria today has the highest levels of Islamist terrorist activity in the world. Our country is, so to speak, the future hope of Islamist fundamentalists.”

The priest’s remarks come as reports indicate that the Fulani militants are now a greater threat to Nigeria’s Christian community than Islamist terror group Boko Haram, with the Nigerian House of Representatives last July describing the herdsmen’s sustained attacks as “genocide”. Since February, more than 130 people from the mostly Christian Adara tribe, in the state of Kaduna, have reportedly been murdered by the herdsmen. More than 10,000 people are now homeless and about 150 homes have been destroyed.

In a statement last week to Aid to the Church in Need, Father Williams Kaura Abba of the Archdiocese of Kaduna said: “These latest attacks have reduced many village communities to rubble and raised the level of the humanitarian crisis here to one of extreme gravity.” He said: “The latest wave of killings began on 10th February, when the Fulani herdsmen murdered 10 Christians, including a pregnant woman, in the village of Ungwar Barde, near Kajuru.” The priest described an attack on  a five-year-old, where failing to kill him with a gun and then a machete, the Fulani finally beat him with sticks in an attack that left him paralysed. “Not even animals kill people like that,” he added.

Father Williams condemned the lack of response from the government and accused the local state governor of colluding with the terrorists.

On 19th March, Father Williams organised a peaceful protest against the Kaduna killings and called on the international community to put pressure on the Nigerian government to open an independent enquiry. He said: “We cannot remain silent in the face of this human slaughter. If we are to salvage what is left of our humanity, then [they] must do their duty without fear.”

Fourth Thursday of Lent

child-praying

Jimmy, aged five, was proud of being able to say his night prayers alone, but his mother was not above listening through the door to see if he got them right. One night this was how she heard him finish:

‘God bless mum …
bless dad …
bless baby …
bless grandma …
bless Pooch … ‘

This should have led to ‘Amen’, but instead Jimmy raised his eyes fervently to the ceiling and added:

‘And please God,
take care of yourself,
’cause if anything happens to you
we’re all sunk!’

(Kenneth Payne in his book, “What shall I say”)

Fourth Wednesday of Lent

Psalm 144

The Lord is kind and full of compassion,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
How good is the Lord to all,
compassionate to all his creatures.

The Lord is faithful in all his words
and loving in all his deeds.
The Lord supports all who fall
and raises all who are bowed down.

The Lord is just in all his ways
and loving in all his deeds.
He is close to all who call him,
who call on him from their hearts.

Fourth Tuesday of Lent

islamchristiansymbols

On his return flight from Morocco to Rome, Pope Francis spoke to those who criticised his dialogue with Muslims.  The Pope said his trip in February to the United Arab Emirates and to Morocco were opportunities to demonstrate the Catholic Church’s commitment to interreligious dialogue.  Such trips “now there are blossoms, the fruit will come later. But the flowers are promising. We mustn’t give up.”  He said that every religion, Catholicism included, had members who are intransigent and against dialogue, people who “live on bitter memories of past struggles and seek war” more than peace.

Pope Francis went on to speak about religious freedom.  He said there are still Catholics who strongly oppose the Second Vatican Council’s teaching on religious freedom and its insistence that even non-Christians have a right to follow their consciences.  Doctors and other medical personnel do not have a legal right to conscientiously object to euthanasia, for example.  “Removing freedom of conscience is the first step to losing the freedom of religion”, he said.

Fourth Monday of Lent

pope-1

There’s a lot to ponder from Pope Francis’ speeches and homilies during his visit to Morocco over the weekend.  For example, in Europe, we often worry about declining numbers in our churches, but here’s another way of looking at our current situation:

“Jesus did not choose us and send us forth to become more numerous! He called us to a mission. He put us in the midst of society like a handful of yeast: the yeast of the Beatitudes and the fraternal love by which, as Christians, we can all join in making present his kingdom. In this context I recall the counsel of Saint Francis to his brothers as he sent them out: ‘Go out and preach the Gospel: and if necessary, also with words’.”

(Pope Francis, Address to Priests & Religious, Morocco 31 March 2019)

4th Sunday of Lent (C)

lent-4

Gospel  (Luke 15: 1-3, 11-32)

The tax collectors and the sinners were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say, and the Pharisees and the scribes complained. ‘This man’ they said ‘welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ So he spoke this parable to them:

‘A man had two sons. The younger said to his father, “Father, let me have the share of the estate that would come to me.” So the father divided the property between them. A few days later, the younger son got together everything he had and left for a distant country where he squandered his money on a life of debauchery.

‘When he had spent it all, that country experienced a severe famine, and now he began to feel the pinch, so he hired himself out to one of the local inhabitants who put him on his farm to feed the pigs. And he would willingly have filled his belly with the husks the pigs were eating but no one offered him anything. Then he came to his senses and said, “How many of my father’s paid servants have more food than they want, and here am I dying of hunger! I will leave this place and go to my father and say: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as one of your paid servants.” So he left the place and went back to his father.

‘While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him tenderly. Then his son said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the calf we have been fattening, and kill it; we are going to have a feast, a celebration, because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found.” And they began to celebrate.

‘Now the elder son was out in the fields, and on his way back, as he drew near the house, he could hear music and dancing. Calling one of the servants he asked what it was all about. “Your brother has come” replied the servant “and your father has killed the calf we had fattened because he has got him back safe and sound.” He was angry then and refused to go in, and his father came out to plead with him; but he answered his father, “Look, all these years I have slaved for you and never once disobeyed your orders, yet you never offered me so much as a kid for me to celebrate with my friends. But, for this son of yours, when he comes back after swallowing up your property – he and his women – you kill the calf we had been fattening.”

‘The father said, “My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours. But it was only right we should celebrate and rejoice, because your brother here was dead and has come to life; he was lost and is found.”’

(From ‘The Jerusalem Bible’ © 1966 by Darton Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd)

lent4c

Meditation

I come quietly and gently to my time of prayer. I ask the Lord to help me hear this familiar story anew, taking time to read it slowly and reverently. What particularly draws me, or touches me?

Perhaps I focus on Jesus’s description of the Father … how he watches out … runs to meet his son … the tender embrace … his joy. What do I find myself thinking and feeling as I witness all of this?

Now I imagine myself (re-)turning to God, or to Jesus, to ask for his forgiveness. How does he respond to me? And in turn, how do I want to respond to him? Trusting in his love and compassion, I share whatever is in my heart and ask for anything I need. When I am ready, I end my prayer with my own words of thanksgiving.

Adapted from ‘Prego’ (c) St Beuno’s Outreach, Diocese of Wrexham


Third Week of Lent

Third Saturday of Lent

Gospel (Luke 18: 9-14)

Jesus spoke the following parable to some people who prided themselves on being virtuous and despised everyone else: ‘Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood there and said this prayer to himself, “I thank you, God, that I am not grasping, unjust, adulterous like the rest of mankind, and particularly that I am not like this tax collector here. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes on all I get.” The tax collector stood some distance away, not daring even to raise his eyes to heaven; but he beat his breast and said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” This man, I tell you, went home again at rights with God; the other did not. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the man who humbles himself will be exalted.’

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Thought

The prayer of the tax collector, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner”, is the origin of ‘The Jesus Prayer’: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”. Today, perhaps we could keep this prayer on our lips as we go about the day.

Third Friday of Lent

crucifix

“Where should we fix our gaze along the journey of Lent? On the Crucifix. Jesus on the Cross is the compass of life that points us to Heaven.”

Pope Francis – 27 March 2019

Third Thursday of Lent

prayer

A Prayer for the Nation

God of hope,
in these times of change,
unite our nation
and guide our leaders with your wisdom.
Give us courage to overcome our fears,
and help us to build a future
in which all may prosper and share.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

© Church of England

Third Wednesday of Lent

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SYNOD 2020

The four Synod Questions that will inform and inspire the process of listening and discernment over the coming months are:

1) Where in your everyday life do you experience love, truth, goodness, hope, and joy?

2) When you reflect on your life now, and as you look to the future, what causes you concern or worry?

3) What is the purpose of the Catholic Church in the world today?

4) Having reflected on these things, what are the topics you would like to see on the agenda of Synod 2020?

We are all invited to reflect deeply and respond to these four Synod Questions. Listening will be done through an online survey, focus groups facilitated by Fr Peter McGrail at Liverpool Hope University, and by Synod Members in our local communities after Easter. It is through this great project of listening that we will begin to discern the Church God is calling us to be.

If you would like to complete the online survey, you can do so by going to www.synod2020.co.uk

Third Tuesday of Lent

romero

Last Sunday, 24 March, was the (first) Feast Day of St Oscar Romero.

Oscar Romero was Archbishop of San Salvador. He was assassinated on 24 March 1980 as he was celebrating Mass in the chapel of the Divine Providence cancer hospital where he lived. Thirty-five years later, he was declared a martyr of the Church, killed out of hatred of the faith, and was beatified on 23 May 2015. He was canonised by Pope Francis on 14 October 2018.

“Let us not tire of preaching love; it is the force that will overcome the world” (Oscar Romero).

 St Oscar Romero, pray for us!

Third Monday of Lent

Today, 25 March, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord.

Annunciation

“May the Blessed Virgin help everyone, especially young people, to follow the path of peace and fraternity, based on welcome and forgiveness, on respect for others, and on the love that is the gift of self” (Pope Francis).

3rd Sunday of Lent (C)

lent-3

Gospel  (Luke 13: 1-9)

Some people arrived and told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with that of their sacrifices. At this he said to them, ‘Do you suppose these Galileans who suffered like that were greater sinners than any other Galileans? They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen on whom the tower at Siloam fell and killed them? Do you suppose that they were more guilty than all the other people living in Jerusalem? They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did.’

He told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it but found none. He said to the man who looked after the vineyard, “Look here, for three years now I have been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and finding none. Cut it down: why should it be taking up the ground?” “Sir,” the man replied “leave it one more year and give me time to dig round it and manure it: it may bear fruit next year; if not, then you can cut it down.”’

(From ‘The Jerusalem Bible’ © 1966 by Darton Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd)

Thought

The Gospel gives us the parable of the fig tree. The tree wasn’t producing any fruit, so the owner decided to cut it down. But the person tending to the tree begged the owner to give it another chance.

That’s how Jesus is with us. He leaps to our defence – give him/her another chance. Our Lord has great hope in us. Let’s thank him for his merciful love.

Fr Dave

lent3c

Prayer

God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
you revealed your name to Moses in the burning bush;
and you revealed your mercy to every generation
in the life and teaching of Jesus.
Open our minds to the wisdom of his Gospel
that we may grasp the lessons you teach us
in the events of our daily lives.
Through Christ our Lord.
Amen.


Second Week of Lent

Second Saturday of Lent

Brexit Crisis

As the Brexit crisis continues, it might be worth remembering the wise words spoken by the Queen in a speech to her local Women’s Institute in Norfolk in January. While not mentioning Brexit specifically, the Queen said: “As we look for new answers in the modern age, I for one prefer the tried and tested recipes, like speaking well of each other and respecting different points of view; coming together to seek out the common ground; and never losing sight of the bigger picture.”

Second Friday of Lent

pope-francis

Wasting Food

This culture of waste has also made us insensitive to wasting and throwing out excess foodstuffs, which is especially condemnable when, in every part of the world, unfortunately, many people and families suffer hunger and malnutrition.

There was a time when our grandparents were very careful not to throw away any leftover food. Consumerism has induced us to be accustomed to excess and to the daily waste of food, whose value, which goes far beyond mere financial parameters, we are no longer able to judge correctly.

Let us remember well, however, that whenever food is thrown out it is as if it were stolen from the table of the poor, from the hungry!

(Excerpts from Pope Francis, General Audience, 5 June 2013)

Second Thursday of Lent

Today, let us pray for the people of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi affected by Cyclone Idai.

a-prayer-for-help-prayer-card

Second Wednesday of Lent

Today, 20th March, is the anniversary of the bombing in Warrington in 1993.

Let’s take a moment today to remember Johnathan Ball and Tim Parry who were killed, their families, the many who were injured, and all those affected by the bombing.

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‘River of Life’, Warrington. Photograph (c) canondh.

A Prayer for World Peace (1978)
We pray for the power to be gentle;
the strength to be forgiving;
the patience to be understanding;
and the endurance to accept the consequences
of holding on to what we believe to be right.

May we put our trust in the power of good to overcome evil
and the power of love to overcome hatred.

We pray for the vision to see and the faith to believe
in a world emancipated from violence,
a new world where fear shall no longer lead
men or women to commit injustice,
nor selfishness make them bring suffering to others.

Help us to devote our whole life and thought and energy
to the task of making peace,
praying always for the inspiration and the power
to fulfil the destiny for which we and all men and women were created.
Amen.

Second Tuesday of Lent

Today, we interrupt the season of Lent to celebrate the Solemnity of St Joseph, husband of Mary, foster father to Jesus, and patron saint of the Church and of this Archdiocese.

sleeping-st-joseph

During his visit to the Philippines in 2015, Pope Francis said: “I have great love for Saint Joseph, because he is a man of silence and strength. On my table I have an image of Saint Joseph sleeping. Even when he is asleep, he is taking care of the Church! … “When I have a problem, a difficulty, I write a little note and I put it underneath Saint Joseph, so that he can dream about it! In other words, I tell him: pray for this problem!”

Second Monday of Lent

“There is never a reason to lose hope. Jesus says: ‘I am with you until the end of the world’.”
(Pope Francis)

2nd Sunday of Lent (C)

lent-9

Gospel  (Luke 9: 28-36)

Jesus took with him Peter and John and James and went up the mountain to pray. As he prayed, the aspect of his face was changed and his clothing became brilliant as lightning. Suddenly there were two men there talking to him; they were Moses and Elijah appearing in glory, and they were speaking of his passing which he was to accomplish in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were heavy with sleep, but they kept awake and saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As these were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ – He did not know what he was saying. As he spoke, a cloud came and covered them with shadow; and when they went into the cloud the disciples were afraid. And a voice came from the cloud saying, ‘This is my Son, the Chosen One. Listen to him.’ And after the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. The disciples kept silence and, at that time, told no one what they had seen.

transfiguration

Meditation

As I begin my prayer, I slowly become more aware of being in God’s presence. I take my time to relax into this presence, and ask his Spirit to be with me as I contemplate the Gospel story…

Having read the text attentively a couple of times, I can perhaps picture the scene and imagine being present there. Do I look at Jesus praying, and see the transformation in him taking place? How do I respond to this? …

Despite Jesus’s glory, Moses and Elijah speak of his forthcoming Passion. Do I sense a contradiction, or can I already foresee the joy of Easter at this time? Or perhaps, like the disciples, I find it all too difficult and do not wish to contemplate what lies ahead? I speak to the Lord about how I feel…

When the shadow of the cloud comes down, am I fearful of the darkness and the unknown? Or can I still feel the presence of God and be content to wait? How do I live this out when a ‘shadow’ descends in my own life? …

The Father speaks. Jesus is the Chosen One, his Son. Maybe I can just sit with these words, allowing them to strengthen my love and my faith, slowly transforming me and so enabling me to listen.

I end my prayer slowly with a ‘Glory be’ …

(From ‘Prego’, St Beuno’s Outreach, Diocese of Wrexham)


First Week of Lent

First Saturday of Lent

Simply this:

whatever-ive-done

First Friday of Lent

cafod

Today is CAFOD’s Lent Fast Day – one of two days in the year when we try to reach out to our sisters and brothers overseas who are poor.  See under ‘News’ for more information.

God of all,
you made the earth and saw that it was good,
but like robbers we have stripped it of its treasure.
R. Open our eyes, Lord.

Now the earth cries out
and your people hunger and thirst.
R. Open our eyes, Lord. 

Open our eyes to see the pain of your creation
and move us with compassion for your world.
R. Open our eyes, Lord. 

Lead us to act as neighbours,
who do not pass by on the other side.
R. Open our eyes, Lord. 

So that together we may care for all that you have made
and with all creation sing your praise.
R. Open our eyes, Lord. 

(Catherine Gorman/CAFOD)

First Thursday of Lent

acn

Last week, Pope Francis called on people to pray for persecuted Christians. The Pope said that persecution happens not only in countries where religious freedom is trampled underfoot, but also in places where such rights are protected “in theory and on paper”.

Today, let’s stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians around the world by praying ‘The Angelus’.

The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary…

Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to thy word.
Hail Mary…

And the Word was made flesh.
R. And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary…

Pray for us O Holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.
Pour forth, we beseech thee, O Lord,
thy grace into our hearts;
that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ, thy Son,
was made known by the message of an angel,
may by his Passion and Cross
be brought to the glory of his Resurrection.
Through the same Christ, our Lord.
Amen.

First Wednesday of Lent

synod

As Synod Members prepare to lead listening and discernment sessions across the Archdiocese after Easter, let’s pray the Synod 2020 prayer:

Synod Prayer
Father, we thank you
for the love you have shown us
in the gift of Jesus, your Son.
We thank you for the gift of the Church,
through which you show us
that you are always with us
and are always at work in our lives.

As we journey together to Synod 2020,
help us to become the Church that you are calling us to be.
May your Holy Spirit be powerfully
at work among us.
Strengthen each of us and guide Francis, our Pope
and Malcolm, our Archbishop.

Help us to respond
to the challenges of our times in new ways
to bring your love to all our sisters and brothers.
We make this prayer
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Synod Opening Ceremony
You can now watch highlights of the Synod Opening Ceremony on the website www.synod2020.co.uk under ‘News’.

First Tuesday of Lent

the-lords-prayer

In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches his disciples to pray. He gives them what we now know as ‘The Lord’s Prayer’. Most Christians are very familiar with this prayer and perhaps pray it daily. But familiarity can mean we say the words without thinking about them.

Today, why not pray ‘The Lord’s Prayer’, but pause for a moment at the end of each line and think about the words you’ve just said. Then move on to the next line and do the same again.

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

First Monday of Lent

“At the beginning of Lent, it would do us good to ask for the grace to preserve the memory of all that the Lord has done in our lives, of how He has loved us” (Pope Francis, 7 March 2019).

1st Sunday of Lent (C)

lent-1

Gospel (Luke 4: 1-13)

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit through the wilderness, being tempted there by the devil for forty days. During that time he ate nothing and at the end he was hungry. Then the devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to turn into a loaf.’ But Jesus replied, ‘Scripture says: Man does not live on bread alone.’

Then leading him to a height, the devil showed him in a moment of time all the kingdoms of the world and said to him, ‘I will give you all this power and the glory of these kingdoms, for it has been committed to me and I give it to anyone I choose. Worship me, then, and it shall all be yours.’ But Jesus answered him, ‘Scripture says: You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone.’

Then he led him to Jerusalem and made him stand on the parapet of the Temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said to him ‘throw yourself down from here, for scripture says: He will put his angels in charge of you to guard you, and again: They will hold you up on their hands in case you hurt your foot against a stone.’

But Jesus answered him, ‘It has been said: You must not put the Lord your God to the test.’

Having exhausted all these ways of tempting him, the devil left him, to return at the appointed time.

 archbishop

Pastoral Letter from the Archbishop

My dear friends,

This is going to be a difficult Lent for all of us. As I write this letter both our nation and the Church are in crisis. Every one of us is deeply disturbed by our country leaving the European Union. Whether we voted to leave or remain we did not expect the process to be this difficult, but whatever happens in the next few weeks it does look as though many ordinary men and women, and families may feel some detrimental economic effects of Brexit, at least in the short term. Therefore, it seems to me that this is a time for us to show our worth as Christians and not to be looking for a quick fix. As Christians we welcome strangers, we reach out to the hungry and we provide shelter for those who have none. In today’s reading from St Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is presented by the devil with a range of quick fixes. He could easily have fed himself by turning stones in to bread, but he chose not to do so because he didn’t need to prove himself. So, it should be with us, as Jesus’s brothers and sisters we should respond to the needs of others simply because it is our nature to do so. The work that goes on in the Archdiocese feeding the hungry through foodbanks, providing homes for those in need, supporting asylum seekers, caring for those who are rough-sleeping, helping trafficked men and women, as well as the work of Nugent, our own Catholic social services agency, is simply phenomenal. I have only scratched the surface of all the good work that is done, and I applaud you for what you are doing. But if there is an economic recession then we will have to give even more of our time and resources not only during Lent but possibly for longer. This is not a time for us to only look after ourselves, but a time to be generous of spirit and attentive to the needs of our neighbours.

The gospel today also speaks to us of the misuse of power. The devil offers Jesus power over all the kingdoms of the world, but he refuses as he reminds us, ‘You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone.’ The recent meeting of Presidents of Bishops’ Conferences with Pope Francis in Rome on Child Sexual Abuse highlighted how the evil misuse of power by clergy has left in its wake numerous victims whose lives have been damaged and who many years later are still suffering. We have not been spared this evil in our Archdiocese and some of our priests have been convicted of offences against children. I believe that we have set up a thorough and rigorous system for safeguarding our young people so that our Church is now a safe place for them. But we can never be complacent, that is why I eagerly await the guidance from Pope Francis that we have been promised as a result of the Rome meeting. I would also urge any person who has been sexually abused by a person in authority in the Church to come forward. I promise you that you will be listened to and given the necessary support.

The Child Sexual Abuse scandal has also undermined the moral authority of the Church; that goes without saying. Who would listen to us now? So how do we recover from this desperate situation? I think there is ultimately only one way and that is to turn again to Christ and show the world that he is truly alive in our Church. Paradoxically the best way to go about this is to turn outwards to the world. Jesus came to bring the good news to the poor, to let the blind see, and make the lame walk, and that is what we should do too. There is a personal journey that we all have to take as we take this Lent seriously. Lent is an annual opportunity to put our own house in order by the traditional works of mercy, fasting and giving alms. There is also a journey we are making together towards Synod 2020. As you know the Synod will take place in October 2020 but as we walk together towards that moment, now is a time for listening to each other. Let us remember that listening to another person attentively is a real act of love where we show that we take that person seriously. Members of the Church at this time need more than ever to listen to each other. Your priest needs to listen to you, you need to listen to each other and that is why I want to hear what your ideas are for the Church of the future, as well as your concerns.

Thank you to all who came to pray at the opening of the Synod and to all Members who came to the excellent first series of Members meetings. On our Synod journey we are at the discerning and listening stage. Please look out for opportunities to gather in your parish or pastoral area for a Synod listening event. We hope to hear as many voices as possible because the Spirit of God will speak through you. If you have time, I would also like you to complete the on-line survey. Go to the Synod web site (Synod2020.co.uk) and click on the Synod Survey section.

Lent is not going to be easy this year but by its end I know that we will see the light of Easter chasing away the dark clouds of crisis. There are no quick fixes in this world but by patiently walking with the Lord we will once again be proud to call ourselves Christian.

May God bless each and every one of you and your families,

 + Malcolm

Archbishop of Liverpool