Second Week of Lent

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)

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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


The Season of Lent

Saturday after Ash Wednesday

lent-6

Almsgiving

“What pleases the Lord is to let the oppressed go free… to share your bread… to shelter the homeless poor” (Isaiah 58: 6-7).

Some opportunities for almsgiving:

  1. CAFOD (Catholic Agency for Overseas Development) – the Catholic aid agency for England and Wales. CAFOD is an international aid agency working to alleviate poverty and suffering in developing countries.
  2. Nugent – a registered charity which cares, educates and protects vulnerable children, young people and adults through schools, care homes, and community and social work services across the Archdiocese.
  3. Mary’s Meals aims to provide chronically hungry children with one meal every school day, encouraging education that can lift them out of poverty in later life.
  4. Poor Box (back of church) – donations are used weekly to help those who are struggling in our own community.

Friday after Ash Wednesday

fasting

Fasting

Lent is a season that calls us:

to fast from discontent and to feast on gratitude;
to fast from anger and to feast on patience;
to fast from bitterness and to feast on forgiveness;
to fast from self-concern and to feast on compassion;
to fast from discouragement and to feast on hope;
to fast from laziness and to feast on commitment;
to fast from complaining and to feast on acceptance;
to fast from lust and to feast on respect;
to fast from prejudice and to feast on understanding;
to fast from resentment and to feast on reconciliation;
to fast from lies and to feast on the truth;
to fast from wasted time and to feast on honest work;
to fast from grimness and to feast on joy;
to fast from suspicion and to feast on trust;
to fast from idle talk and to feast on prayer and silence;
to fast from guilt and to feast on the mercy of God.

(Based on a version often attributed to William Arthur Ward)

Thursday after Ash Wednesday

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Prayer

“Are there moments when you place yourself quietly in the Lord’s presence, when you calmly spend time with him, when you bask in his gaze? Do you let his fire inflame your heart?” – Pope Francis

Bring prayer into your day-to-day life this Lent. It only takes a minute of prayer to improve our entire day!

Some websites that may be helpful:

www.pray-as-you-go.org

www.sacredspace.ie

www.pathwaystogod.org

www.taize.fr/en

www.prayingeachday.org

 

Ash Wednesday

ash-wednesday

Gospel  (Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-18)

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Be careful not to parade your good deeds before men to attract their notice; by doing this you will lose all reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give alms, do not have it trumpeted before you; this is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win men’s admiration. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you give alms, your left hand must not know what your right is doing; your almsgiving must be secret, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.

‘And when you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites: they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues and at the street corners for people to see them; I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you pray, go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.

‘When you fast do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do: they pull long faces to let men know they are fasting. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that no one will know you are fasting except your Father who sees all that is done in secret; and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.’

Thought

Prayer – Lent is essentially an act of prayer spread over 40 days. As we pray, we are brought closer to Christ and are changed by our encounter with him.

Fasting – The fasting that we do together on Fridays is a sign of the daily Lenten discipline of individuals and households: fasting for certain periods of time, fasting from certain foods, but also fasting from other things and activities.

Almsgiving – The giving of alms is an effort to share this world equally, not only through the distribution of money, but through the sharing of our time and talents.

(Adapted from US Conference of Catholic Bishops)

TEN IDEAS FOR LENT

lent

1) Caring for our Common Home

See article under ‘News’

2) Lent at Padgate Methodist Church

See article under ‘News’

3) Something a little different for Lent

See article under ‘News’

4) Bring Prayer into your Daily Life

If daily prayer has slipped out of your life, why not use Lent to get back into the habit of spending a few minutes in prayer each day? If you need some help, check out the websites: www.pray-as-you-go.org or www.sacredspace.ie Just one minute of prayer a day can make a difference to our entire day!

lent-2

5) Thought for the Day

There will be a thought, prayer or reflection posted on the parish website each day during Lent. There are also two free publications at the back of church which you may find helpful – “Lent Extra” and “Walk With Me”.

6) Stations of the Cross

The Stations of the Cross are a traditional devotion during Lent. They will be led by different individuals and groups each week.

St Oswald’s                 Thursdays during Lent at 7.30 pm
St Benedict’s               Fridays during Lent at 11.45 am (except 8 March & 12 April)

If you would like to take a turn in leading this devotion, please let Fr Dave know.

7) Drive nicely!

Do you get uptight or impatient when you’re behind the wheel? Do you berate others while ignoring your own mistakes or lack of awareness? If so, then why not make a change and drive nicely for Lent? You’ll feel so much better.

lent-4

8) Fasting & Abstinence

Fasting means reducing the amount of food we usually eat. Abstinence means giving up a particular kind of food or drink or form of amusement. Fasting binds those who are aged 18 to 59, while abstinence binds those who are 14 and over. Days of Fasting & Abstinence:   Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. We are also encouraged to fast on the Fridays of Lent, especially on CAFOD’s Lent Fast Day (Friday 15 March).

9) Prayer List

Perhaps the best gift we can give to another person is to pray for them. There’s a prayer list on the back page of the newsletter each week. Why not cut it out and stick it on your bathroom mirror? Then, every time you look in the mirror, pick a name and simply ask our Lord to bless that person.

10) Almsgiving

“What pleases the Lord is to let the oppressed go free… to share your bread… to shelter the homeless poor” (Isaiah 58: 6-7). Opportunities for almsgiving:

  1. CAFOD (Catholic Agency for Overseas Development) – the Catholic aid agency for England and Wales. CAFOD is an international aid agency working to alleviate poverty and suffering in developing countries.
  2. Nugent – a registered charity which cares, educates and protects vulnerable children, young people and adults through schools, care homes, and community and social work services across the Archdiocese.
  3. Mary’s Meals aims to provide chronically hungry children with one meal every school day, encouraging education that can lift them out of poverty in later life.
  4. Poor Box (back of church) – donations are used weekly to help those who are struggling in our own community.

lent-5

SOME LENTEN IDEAS FOR CHILDREN

—Ask your mum or dad to bring you to Sunday Mass during Lent
—Save a penny a day for CAFOD or another charity
—Say a prayer before you go to bed at night
—Offer to do a five minute job around the house each day
—Use the Lenten Calendar for Children (available from Fr Dave)


7th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)

Gospel  (Luke 6: 27-38)

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I say this to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly. To the man who slaps you on one cheek, present the other cheek too; to the man who takes your cloak from you, do not refuse your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your property back from the man who robs you. Treat others as you would like them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what thanks can you expect? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what thanks can you expect? For even sinners do that much. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what thanks can you expect? Even sinners lend to sinners to get back the same amount. Instead, love your enemies and do good, and lend without any hope of return. You will have a great reward, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.

‘Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge, and you will not be judged yourselves; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned yourselves; grant pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and there will be gifts for you: a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap; because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back.’

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Reflection

Today’s Gospel passage needs no commentary.  Jesus is quite clear:

Love your enemies
do good to those who hate you
bless those who curse you
pray for those who treat you badly
To the man who slaps you on one cheek, present the other cheek too;
to the man who takes your cloak from you, do not refuse your tunic.
Give to everyone who asks you,
and do not ask for your property back from the man who robs you.
Treat others as you would like them to treat you.

Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate.
Do not judge, and you will not be judged yourselves;
do not condemn, and you will not be condemned yourselves;
grant pardon, and you will be pardoned.
Give, and there will be gifts for you
because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back.

How do you feel as you read what Jesus says?  Can you understand why he says what he says?  Do you recoil at any of the things he says?  Talk to him about it…

Prayer

Compassionate God and Father,
you are kind to the ungrateful,
merciful even to the wicked.
Pour out your love upon us,
that with good and generous hearts
we may keep from judging others
and learn your way of compassion.
Through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Prayer © 1998 International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.  Scripture Reading from The Jerusalem Bible © 1966 by Darton Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd.

vaticanmeetingpminors

THE PROTECTION OF MINORS IN THE CHURCH

Vatican Summit, 21 – 24 February 2019

At the end of the summit, Pope Francis made a powerful address which you can read below.  Simply click on the link.

pope-francis-address-24-february-2019

 

 

 


6th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)

INAUGURATION OF SYNOD 2020

synod-logo

Two weeks ago, on Sunday 3 February, the Archbishop inaugurated Synod 2020 during a special service in the Cathedral.  In his homily, the Archbishop reflected on the Gospel chosen for the occasion – the Presentation of Jesus in the temple.  Archbishop Malcolm shared some profound reflections and offered great hope for the Church.  His homily is well worth reading.

Homily preached by The Most Reverend Malcolm McMahon OP, Archbishop of Liverpool, at the Service for the Opening of Synod 2020 on Sunday 3 February 2019 in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool.

On my desk I have a statue of St Joseph holding a pair a of turtle doves, the modest sacrifice of the poor. This was the offering that Mary and Joseph made when they journeyed to the temple in Jerusalem to fulfil the Law of Moses in Mary’s purification and Jesus’s presentation. It reminds me that we are to be the Church of the poor, poor people as the servants of the poor. Jesus was a poor preacher with nowhere to lay his head, and it is with that in mind that we step forward together on the road to Synod 2020.

In the Gospel reading from St Luke which we have just listened to, Mary and Joseph after the completion of their rituals were met by an old man named Simeon. He is described as a holy man, devoted to prayer and waiting for the consolation of Israel. He was part of a group known as the ‘quiet ones’, who sought in prayer the hope of salvation. They had no interest in political or military solutions to the sorrows of their people. They chose prayer as the best route to the future hope.

The Holy Spirit filled this man and revealed to him that he would see the Messiah before he died. The Spirit brought him to the temple that day and led him to the couple who held Jesus in their arms. He took the child into his own arms and began to sing. The song he sings is the death song of an old man, but it is filled with hope because he has completed his purpose in life by seeing Jesus. He found the child in the arms of poor people making the offering of the poor. In the sunset of his life he encountered the sunrise of the poor. In the evening of his life, he was fortunate enough to behold a new day.

malcolm

And what does Simeon prophesy? What does Simeon say when he picks up Jesus into his arms? Simeon doesn’t say I have seen the Messiah; instead he says, I have seen God’s salvation. And this salvation is not just for the Jews but for all people. And then he goes on to explain that many will be divided over Jesus. He will be a sign of contradiction: many will listen and follow, and many will reject Him, to the point Mary herself will be wounded in her heart because of what happens to her Son.

From Simeon he heard the first human hymn that was composed out of love for him. Simeon could go in peace because he had seen the Saviour of the world. Let us reflect now where we are up to in our journey to Synod 2020. We have been the quiet ones. We have prayed as an Archdiocese for over a year, quietly before the Blessed Sacrament. We hold in our arms the ‘salvation which has been prepared for all the nations to see’. We are the poor making an offering in the Mass of the poor Son of God, and we pray that we will have our eyes opened and our ears unstopped so that we can see further and hear more acutely as we form our vision for the Church in Liverpool. We have learnt that it sometimes takes the vision of an old person to show us that what we sometimes see as old and worn out is often the beginning of something new. The sun is not setting on the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Liverpool, but a new day is breaking, a new dawn is rising. This view is the vision of Simeon and it has to be our view too.

Maybe we can ask Simeon, the prophet, to help us remove the evening and the night from our eyes and see brightly as we enter upon the road together towards Synod 2020. As we hear Simeon’s song our vision is changed. When we listen to each other our vision will be changed too. We believe that because we are baptised the Spirit of God lives in us; that is the spirit of Jesus whom Simeon cradled in his arms; that is why this change will happen within each of us. God’s spirit can change words into understanding, sounds into sight and song into a clear vision of the future.

It is with confidence then that we can look to the future as walk together on the road ahead of us.

5c57fe5324809-openingceremony

If I may digress for moment. the Letter to the Hebrews tells us: ‘By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. For he looked forward to the city that has its foundations, whose architect and builder is God.’ (Hebrews 11:8‑10)

When Gregory of Nyssa comments on this passage, he says that it was only when Abraham did not know where he was going that he knew he was going the right way. We are all sons and daughters of Abraham, so maybe the same is true of us. We often do not know where we are going, but maybe that is when we know we are going in the right direction.

Let us return to Simeon: we are not to be downhearted by Simeon’s prediction that there will be suffering and pain in store for Jesus, and that Mary will suffer as a result, just like any mother. It takes another old person who happened to be passing by, a prophetess called Anna, to cheer us up. We may surmise that she had a great smile on her face as she embraced Mary and Joseph and praised God for their child and spoke of Jesus to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

We can learn from Anna that to speak of God to others is to praise him, and in praising him we will be filled with joy.

The journey ahead towards Synod 2020 may seem long and arduous, and there will be many diversions and setbacks, but with the hope of Simeon and Anna in our hearts we will come to a new vision for our Archdiocese and it will be transformed into the Church that we are called to be.

synod

More news about the Synod next week.

 

 


5th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)

Gospel  (Luke 5: 1-11)

Jesus was standing one day by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the crowd pressing round him listening to the word of God, when he caught sight of two boats close to the bank. The fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats – it was Simon’s – and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.

When he had finished speaking he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch.’ ‘Master,’ Simon replied, ‘we worked hard all night long and caught nothing, but if you say so, I will pay out the nets.’ And when they had done this they netted such a huge number of fish that their nets began to tear, so they signalled to their companions in the other boat to come and help them; when these came, they filled the two boats to sinking point.

When Simon Peter saw this he fell at the knees of Jesus saying, ‘Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man.’ For he and all his companions were completely overcome by the catch they had made; so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were Simon’s partners. But Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on it is men you will catch.’ Then, bringing their boats back to land, they left everything and followed him.

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

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Reflection

I take time to read this passage slowly and prayerfully, conscious that the Lord is here right now, desiring my company, wherever I may be.

Perhaps I am inspired to place myself in the scene … watching how Jesus talks to the crowds … noticing his invitation to Simon Peter … his words of reassurance and affirmation … the response that he inspires.

What particularly touches me in this passage?

Jesus uses Peter’s everyday skills to do something unexpected and remarkable … made possible because Peter trusts his invitation. I ponder the ways in which God can use my ordinary gifts to do extraordinary things.

Might God be inviting me, like Peter, to launch out into ‘deeper water’, even if at first I think there might be no purpose?

I speak to the Lord as to a trusted friend, and listen for his response. Is there anything I need to let go of to help me follow Jesus with greater freedom? I ask for any help I need.

When I am ready, I end my prayer in gratitude: Glory be …

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

Prayer

In faith and love we ask you, Father,
to watch over your family gathered here.
In your mercy and loving kindness
no thought of ours is left unguarded,
no tear unheeded, no joy unnoticed.
Through the prayer of Jesus
may the blessings promised to the poor in spirit
lead us to the treasures of your kingdom.
Through Christ our Lord.

(From the English translation of ‘The Roman Missal’ © 1973 International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved)


4th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)

Today’s Second Reading is St Paul’s hymn to love – a passage that is well-know to most of us.  Here’s an extract:

1 Corinthians 13 :4-8

Love is always patient and kind;
it is never jealous;
love is never boastful or conceited;
it is never rude or selfish;
it does not take offence, and is not resentful.
Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth;
it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.
Love does not come to an end.

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Reflection

I can’t think of a better description of love than that.

Someone once suggested reading the passage but replacing the word ‘love’ with ‘God’.  So:

God is always patient and kind; 
God is never jealous; 
God is never boastful or conceited; 
God is never rude or selfish; 
God does not take offence, and is not resentful. 
God takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth; 
God is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.
God does not come to an end.

How does it feel to hear God described like that?

Someone else suggested reading the passage but replacing the word ‘love’ with ‘I’.  So:

I am always patient and kind; 
I am never jealous; 
I am never boastful or conceited; 
I am never rude or selfish; 
I do not take offence, and I am not resentful. 
I take no pleasure in other people’s sins but delight in the truth; 
I am always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.
I do not come to an end.

How does it feel to say those words?

Prayer

Lord, help me to love like you love.
Help me to be patient and kind;
not to be jealous, boastful, conceited,
rude or selfish;
not to take offence or be resentful.
Help me not to take pleasure on other people’s sins,
but to delight in the truth.
Help me to be ready to excuse, to trust, to hope,
and to endure whatever comes.
Lord, help me to love like you.

Fr Dave

 


3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)

Gospel  (Luke 1: 1-4, 4: 14-21)

Seeing that many others have undertaken to draw up accounts of the events that have taken place among us, exactly as these were handed down to us by those who from the outset were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, I in my turn, after carefully going over the whole story from the beginning, have decided to write an ordered account for you, Theophilus, so that your Excellency may learn how well founded the teaching is that you have received.

Jesus, with the power of the Spirit in him, returned to Galilee; and his reputation spread throughout the countryside. He taught in their synagogues and everyone praised him.

He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day as he usually did. He stood up to read and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written:

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me,
for he has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor,
to proclaim liberty to captives
and to the blind new sight,
to set the downtrodden free,
to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.
 

He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to speak to them, ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’

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Prayer

As I begin my prayer, I try to relax and focus my attention on my regular breathing. I may close my eyes or gaze at a candle. Gently, I slow down and become aware of being in God’s presence.

When I am ready, I read the text carefully a couple of times.

Perhaps I can imagine Jesus in the synagogue setting. The people know him, he comes here every Sabbath. But now he returns, having gained attention elsewhere in Galilee for his teaching and preaching.

As one of the crowd, what am I expecting from this familiar, but now renowned, Jesus?

As I listen to the words of Isaiah spoken in Jesus’s own voice, do they strike me anew? Does Jesus read gently or forcefully? What, in particular, causes me to pause?

This is not an abstract message – what is it saying to me today? How can I live out something of this message as his disciple?

I spend some time pondering this with the Lord and talking to him.

I give thanks for the many ways I see others putting Jesus’s words into practice around me.

I end my prayer with the ‘Glory be’.

(From ‘The Prego’ by St Beuno’s Jesuit Spirituality Centred, North Wales)


2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)

Gospel  (John 2: 1-11)

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. The mother of Jesus was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited. When they ran out of wine, since the wine provided for the wedding was all finished, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ Jesus said ‘Woman, why turn to me? My hour has not come yet.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ There were six stone water jars standing there, meant for the ablutions that are customary among the Jews: each could hold twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’, and they filled them to the brim. ‘Draw some out now’ he told them ‘and take it to the steward.’ They did this; the steward tasted the water, and it had turned into wine. Having no idea where it came from – only the servants who had drawn the water knew – the steward called the bridegroom and said, ‘People generally serve the best wine first, and keep the cheaper sort till the guests have had plenty to drink; but you have kept the best wine till now.’

This was the first of the signs given by Jesus: it was given at Cana in Galilee. He let his glory be seen, and his disciples believed in him.

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Reflection

“Mary, at the very moment she perceives that there is no wine, approaches Jesus with confidence: this means that Mary prays. She goes to Jesus, she prays. She does not go to the steward, she immediately tells her Son of the newlyweds’ problem. The response she receives seems disheartening: “What does it have to do with you and me? My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4). But she nonetheless places the problem in God’s hands. Her deep concern to meet the needs of others hastens Jesus’ hour.

“And Mary was a part of that hour, from the cradle to the cross. She was able “to turn a stable into a home for Jesus, with poor swaddling clothes and an abundance of love” (Evangelii Gaudium, 286). She accepted us as her sons and daughters when the sword pierced her heart. She teaches us to put our families in God’s hands; she teaches us to pray, to kindle the hope, which shows us that our concerns are also God’s concerns.”

(Pope Francis, Homily in Ecuador on 6 July 2015)

A Prayer for the UK

“In this time of turmoil…

We pray for the Prime Minister and Party Leaders
as they negotiate the political future of our nation:
Father, give them your wisdom and vision.

We pray for all in Parliament as they represent their communities:
Jesus, give them your humility and strength.

We pray for the media as they interpret events for the nation:
Holy Spirit, give them your truth and compassion.

We pray for ourselves as we show your love to our neighbours:
May we speak hope, embody courage and model unity in diversity.

Almighty God, we place our trust in you:
For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory,
now and forever, Amen.”

(By Carla Harding, National Director for 24-7 Prayer Great Britain)

unity

Prayer for Peace Sunday and Christian Unity

R.  Help us to sow the seeds of peace and justice.

In a world crying out for love but still filled with too much hatred and violence. R.
In a country that speaks of equality but often fails to live up to that promise. R.
In our communities in which some people are considered worth less than others. R.
In our churches where we often neglect Jesus’ teaching of compassion. R.
In our families when words or deeds hurt each other. R.
In ourselves, when we are tempted by the world to desire more and to neglect what really matters. R.

(From ‘The Way of Peace: Exploring Nonviolence for the 21st Century’, Pax Christi USA)


The Baptism of the Lord (C)

Gospel  (Luke 3: 15-16, 21-22)

A feeling of expectancy had grown among the people, who were beginning to think that John might be the Christ, so John declared before them all, ‘I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Now when all the people had been baptised and while Jesus after his own baptism was at prayer, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily shape, like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.’

baptism-of-jesus

Prayer & Reflection

On Christmas night, angels proclaimed to the shepherds of Bethlehem that a Saviour had been born.

Last Sunday, on the Solemnity of the Epiphany, some wise men recognised the new-born king as the Son of God.

Today, on this last day of Christmas, God himself proclaims that Jesus is his Son as he is baptised in the River Jordan.

During Mass this weekend, we will renew our Baptismal Promises as a way of making a new start as Christians at the beginning of a new year:

Do you believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth?
I do.

Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered death and was buried,
rose again from the dead
and is seated at the right hand of the Father?
I do.

Do you believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting?
I do.

Scripture Passage from ‘The Jerusalem Bible’ © 1966 by Darton Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd.  Excerpts from ‘The Roman Missal’ (c) 2010 International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.