1st Sunday of Advent (A)

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Gospel  (Matthew 24: 37-44)

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘As it was in Noah’s day, so will it be when the Son of Man comes. For in those days before the Flood people were eating, drinking, taking wives, taking husbands, right up to the day Noah went into the ark, and they suspected nothing till the Flood came and swept all away. It will be like this when the Son of Man comes. Then of two men in the fields one is taken, one left; of two women at the millstone grinding, one is taken, one left.

‘So stay awake, because you do not know the day when your master is coming. You may be quite sure of this, that if the householder had known at what time of the night the burglar would come, he would have stayed awake and would not have allowed anyone to break through the wall of his house. Therefore, you too must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.’

Thought

Today we begin a new year in the Church’s calendar with the season of Advent – a time of preparation for the great feast of Christmas.  However, our culture is impatient and wants to celebrate Christmas now.

Whenever we have a special celebration (e.g. a birthday meal, a party, etc), we take the time to get ready for it.  So it is with Christmas.  We need to make the time to get ready for the feast.  This is the purpose of Advent – to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ.

The Advent Scriptures help us to do this.  Today’s First Reading calls us once more to learn the ways of the Lord and walk in his paths.  The Second Reading tells us to ‘wake up’ because Christ is near, so ‘let us live decently as people do in the daytime: no drunken orgies, no promiscuity or licentiousness, and no wrangling or jealousy’.

Advent is a gift to us at this time of year.  It’s an antidote to all the things that can cause us stress in the run up to Christmas.  So, today, receive the gift of Advent.  Perhaps make a little Advent Wreath to have at home, light the first candle and pray the blessing below.

Fr Dave

Blessing of the Advent Wreath

Lord our God, we praise you for your Son, Jesus Christ;
he is Emmanuel, the hope of the peoples;
he is the wisdom that teaches and guides us;
he is the Saviour of every nation.

Lord God, let your blessing come upon us
as we light the candles of this wreath.
May the wreath and its light
be a sign of Christ’s promise to bring us salvation.
May he come quickly and not delay.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

(From the Book of Blessings)

GENERAL ELECTION 2019

The Catholic Bishops’ of England and Wales have issued a statement on the forthcoming General Election.  The statement concentrates on the key issues – not parties or manifestos – offering a series of points that can be put to candidates prior to voting.  You can read the statement here:  http://www.cbcew.org.uk/2019-general-election-statement-and-bishops-plenary/

SYNOD TALK

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Complex Catholicism:
Discovering the Reality of Young Catholics in England & Wales
Monday 9 December – Stephen Davies

Exploring who the younger members of our Church are today, using research from England and Wales:

  • Understanding why we might feel different from them, and them from us.
  • Reflecting together on how we can reach out to young Catholics.
  • As part of the presentation, young people will speak from their own experience.

Liverpool Hope University Chapel – entrance by Chapel or Gateway Building.  Tea and Coffee from 7.00 pm. Talk begins at 7.30 pm. Concludes at 8.45 pm. Optional Night prayer follows at 9.00 pm.  Disabled parking available on the Liverpool Hope campus.

Stephen’s career has stretched across differently aged communities within the Church. He is the fundraising and communication director for the iconic Red Box of Missio and the Mill Hill Missionaries. He started his career in university chaplaincy before helping to establish Animate Youth Ministries in the diocese. For seven years, he led CAFOD’s programme working with young people. He is a co-founding trustee of Million Minutes, and Vice-Chair of the Archbishop Romero Trust.


Solemnity of Christ the King (C)

Gospel  (Luke 23: 35-43)

The people stayed there before the cross watching Jesus. 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.’

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Thought

Today’s feast is a relatively new addition to the Church’s calendar.  In response to an alarming rise in nationalism, secularism and totalitarianism after the First World War, Pope Pius XI instituted the feast in 1925 to remind humanity that Jesus Christ is King of the universe and our task is to build his Kingdom, not our own – “a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace” (Preface for the Solemnity of Christ the King).

96 years later, it seems to me that we’ve never needed this feast more than we do today.

Jesus is our King, but his kingship is quite different to the expectations of the world.  He reigns not from a throne but a cross.  His sceptre is a towel.  Instead of having people bow before him, he kneels down and washes feet.  His might is not in the sword but in mercy.  His friends are the poor, the sinner, the foreigner and the outcast.

Today’s feast perhaps challenges us with a question:  Who is the king in my life, and whose kingdom am I helping to build?

Fr Dave

Prayer

Lord God,
grant that we may walk in the footsteps of your Son,
ready to lay down our lives for others as he did,
in the sure and certain hope
that he will remember us when he comes into his kingdom
and share with us the glory of Paradise.
For he is Lord for ever and ever.
Amen.

SYNOD NEWS

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Between now and 15 December, we are invited to reflect on the second Synod Theme:  Sharing the mission of Jesus.   There are a number of ways we can do this:

1)  There will be a Meeting for all the Parishes in Warrington Pastoral Area on Tuesday 3 December, either at 1.00 pm or at 7.00 pm in Sacred Heart Parish Hall.

2)  There is another Prayer Station in church which will help you to reflect on the theme and suggest proposals for action.

3)  There will be an Evening of Prayer & Reflection, 7.30 – 9.00 pm, on Wednesday 27 November at St Philomena’s, Sparrow Hall Road, Liverpool L9 6BU.

4)  You can visit the Synod Themes and submit a proposal online at:  www.synod2020.co.uk


33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

Gospel  (Luke 21: 5-19)

When some were talking about the Temple, remarking how it was adorned with fine stonework and votive offerings, Jesus said, ‘All these things you are staring at now – the time will come when not a single stone will be left on another: everything will be destroyed.’ And they put to him this question: ‘Master,’ they said ‘when will this happen, then, and what sign will there be that this is about to take place?’

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‘Take care not to be deceived,’ he said ‘because many will come using my name and saying, “I am he” and, “The time is near at hand.” Refuse to join them. And when you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened, for this is something that must happen but the end is not so soon.’ Then he said to them, ‘Nation will fight against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes and plagues and famines here and there; there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.

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‘But before all this happens, men will seize you and persecute you; they will hand you over to the synagogues and to imprisonment, and bring you before kings and governors because of my name – and that will be your opportunity to bear witness. Keep this carefully in mind: you are not to prepare your defence, because I myself shall give you an eloquence and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relations and friends; and some of you will be put to death. You will be hated by all men on account of my name, but not a hair of your head will be lost. Your endurance will win you your lives.’

Thought

As we come to end of the Church’s year, the Scripture readings focus on the end times and the Second Coming of Jesus.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus prophecies that the great Temple in Jerusalem will be destroyed.  This would have been incomprehensible to his listeners.  The Temple was one of the most impressive buildings in the world.  It was huge and built to last.  Yet, just forty years after the resurrection, the Temple lay in ruins.  Today, all that exists is the ‘Wailing Wall’ – the place we sometimes see on TV – where our Jewish sisters and brothers stand and pray.

Jesus says that there will wars and revolutions, earthquakes and famines.  Every generation knows this prophecy to be true.  He says that when these things happen, some will say, ‘The end of the world is nigh’, but Jesus tells that the end will not be so soon.  No one knows when Jesus will come again or when the end of the world will come.

Finally, Jesus warns us that Christians will suffer persecution.  Pope Francis never tires of telling us that “the persecution of Christians today is even greater than in the first centuries of the Church” (Conference on International Religious Liberty and the Global Clash of Values, 2014).  Earlier this year, our own Foreign Office released some shocking statistics:  around 215 million Christians faced persecution in 2018 and an average of 250 Christians were killed every month.

Jesus reassures those who try to follow him.  He says, “not a hair of your head will be lost… Your endurance will win you your lives.”  In other words, Jesus watches over us, gives us what we need, and will one day gather us all together in his heavenly home.

Fr Dave

Prayer

O God,
you call us constantly to renewed faithfulness and trust.
Help us to open our hearts to your presence in our lives;
help us to respond to your gracious love from deep within ourselves.
Spread your wings of blessing over us
and let us know your healing in our lives.
Through Christ our Lord.

SYNOD NEWS

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Thank you to those parishioners who were able to come to one of the Pastoral Area Synod Meetings last Tuesday to explore the first Synod Theme, and to the Synod Members who led the meetings.  The Synod Members will now discern which five proposals should go forward from our parish to be voted on at the Synod Meeting next October.  We will let you know which proposals have been put forward once a decision has been made.

If you weren’t able to attend one of the meetings and would like to make a proposal based on the first Synod Theme, “All called and gifted by God”, you can still do so by visiting the Prayer Station in church or by going to the Synod website:  www.synod2020.co.uk

The Second Pastoral Area Meeting will take place on Tuesday 3 December at Sacred Heart Parish Hall.  Again, there will be a choice of times – either a lunchtime meeting at 1.00 pm or an evening meeting at 7.00 pm.  At this meeting, we will explore the second Synod Theme: “Sharing the Mission of Jesus” and generate proposals for action based on the theme.


Remembrance Sunday

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Today, we remember those who died in war or armed conflict.  We also remember those parishioners who died during the last twelve months.

Scripture Reading

We want you to be quite certain, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, to make sure that you do not grieve about them, like the other people who have no hope.  We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and that it will be the same for those who have died in Jesus:  God will bring them with him.  With such thoughts as these you should comfort one another (1 Thessalonians 4: 13-14, 18).

Litany of Remembrance    

In the rising of the sun and its going down.
We remember them.
In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter.
We remember them.
In the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring.
We remember them.
In the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer.
We remember them.
In the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn.
We remember them.
In the beginning of the year and when it ends.
We remember them.
When we are weary and in need of strength.
We remember them.
When we are lost and sick of heart.
We remember them.
When we have joys and special celebrations we yearn to share.
We remember them.

(c) Jewish Prayer Book

Prayer

Almighty God and Father,
it is our certain faith that your Son,
who died on the cross,
was raised from the dead,
the first fruits of all who have fallen asleep.
Grant that through this mystery
your servants,
who have gone to their rest in Christ,
may share in the joy of his resurrection.
Through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

(c) Order of Christian Funerals. Bishops Conference of England & Wales.

SYNOD 2020

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Synod Talk

“Faith & Theology in Later Life” by Dr Ros Stuart-Buttle

  • How can we look at the past, live in the present, and gaze into the future?
  • Being hopeful in changing times.
  • How can we try and navigate faith issues with children and grandchildren?

Monday 11 November at 7.30 pm in Liverpool Hope University Chapel.

Ros Stuart-Buttle is Senior Lecturer in Theology & Education at Liverpool Hope University.  She went to school in Crosby, now lives near Bollington, and has been married for 40 years, with three adult children and five grandchildren.

Synod Meeting

Parishioners across the Pastoral Area are invited to come together to explore the first Synod Theme, ‘All called and gifted by God’, this Tuesday, 12 November, either at 1.00 pm in St Benedict’s or 7.00 pm in St Oswald’s Parish Centre.


31st Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

Gospel  (Luke 19: 1-10)

Jesus entered Jericho and was going through the town when a man whose name was Zacchaeus made his appearance: he was one of the senior tax collectors and a wealthy man. He was anxious to see what kind of man Jesus was, but he was too short and could not see him for the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus who was to pass that way. When Jesus reached the spot he looked up and spoke to him: ‘Zacchaeus, come down. Hurry, because I must stay at your house today.’ And he hurried down and welcomed him joyfully. They all complained when they saw what was happening. ‘He has gone to stay at a sinner’s house’ they said. But Zacchaeus stood his ground and said to the Lord, ‘Look, sir, I am going to give half my property to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody I will pay him back four times the amount.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek out and save what was lost.’

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Meditation

I take time to come to stillness in the way that suits me best, trusting that I am in the presence of a loving God who welcomes me exactly as I am…

When I am ready, I turn prayerfully to the text. Perhaps I imagine myself present in the scene as a bystander or as Zacchaeus himself.  What can I see and hear around me? … I take my time.

I allow Jesus to seek my gaze … How does he look at me? … Might he be calling me to him with the same urgency with which he calls Zacchaeus, eager for me to share in his mission … to come to my house?  I ponder … and speak to the Lord about this as I would to a close friend, listening as well as sharing my own thoughts and feelings.

Zacchaeus’s initial curiosity to see Jesus leads to a much deeper encounter that enables him to respond from his heart.  I reflect on this, pondering how Jesus himself might feel as he hears the joyful response of one who had seemed to be lost … In time, I may feel drawn to ask: Is Jesus inviting me to help him show others what God is like, in a deeper, fuller way?

I ask him to guide me, remembering that the Lord is always with me, and I do nothing in my own strength.

When I am ready, I end my prayer with a slow sign of the cross.

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

SYNOD 2020

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It’s time for action!

Last year, parishioners moved round the Pastoral Area each month for the Novena to Our Lady Untier of Knots.  This year, we invite parishioners to come together four times to explore the four Synod Themes and generate proposals for action which will be voted on at the Synod Day in October 2020.

Here’s the schedule:

I           ALL CALLED AND GIFTED BY GOD

Tuesday 12 November 2019 – 1.00 pm at St Benedict’s Church or 7.00 pm at St Oswald’s Parish Centre

II          SHARING THE MISSION OF JESUS

Tuesday 3 December 2019 – 1.00 pm or 7.00 pm at Sacred Heart Parish Hall

III        HOW WE PRAY TOGETHER

Tuesday 4 February 2020 – 1.00 pm or 7.00 pm at St Stephen’s Church, Orford

IV        BUILDING COMMUNITY, NURTURING BELONGING

Tuesday 3 March 2020 – 1.00 pm or 7.00 pm at St Joseph’s, Penketh

Please note: there is a choice of a lunchtime or evening session for each theme.

You can also visit the Synod Themes and submit a proposal online at:  www.synod2020.co.uk

Prayer & Reflection

There will be an Evening of Prayer & Reflection on the first Synod Theme, “All called and gifted by God”, on Wednesday 6 November, 7.30 – 9.00 pm,  at St Philomena’s, Sparrow Hall Road, Liverpool L9 6BU.

SYNOD TALK

“Faith & Theology in Later Life” by Dr Ros Stuart-Buttle

  • How can we look at the past, live in the present, and gaze into the future?
  • Being hopeful in changing times.
  • How can we try and navigate faith issues with children and grandchildren?

Monday 11 November at 7.30 pm in Liverpool Hope University Chapel.

Ros Stuart-Buttle is Senior Lecturer in Theology & Education at Liverpool Hope University.  She went to school in Crosby, now lives near Bollington, and has been married for 40 years, with three adult children and five grandchildren.


Parish Feast of Blessed James Bell

HAPPY FEAST DAY!

Our new Parish of Blessed James Bell came into being eighteen months ago on 1 May 2018, and was formally inaugurated by the Archbishop during Mass at St Benedict’s on 26 October 2018.

The Parish of Blessed James Bell incorporates three Churches (St Benedict’s, St Oswald’s & St Mary’s Shrine), two Catholic Primary Schools (St Benedict’s & St Oswald’s), two Parish Centres (St Benedict’s & St Oswald’s) and one Parish Office (based at St Benedict’s).

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Stained glass window of Blessed James Bell in St Mary’s Shrine, Warrington

James Bell was born in Warrington in 1524.  He was educated at Oxford University where he was ordained to the priesthood.  At first, he served as a minister of the Church of England but, after being reconciled to the Catholic Church in 1581, he served as a missionary priest among the poorer Catholics of Lancashire.  He was arrested at Golborne in January 1584 and brought to trial at the Lent Assizes in Lancaster.

Fr James Bell was hanged and quartered at Lancaster Castle on 20 April 1584 alongside the layman, John Finch, who had also reconciled to the Catholic Church.  Fr Bell was among the 108 martyrs beatified by Pope Pius XI on 15 December 1929.

Blessed James Bell is commemorated on the Martyrs’ Plaque in Lancaster Cathedral; in a stained-glass window in St Mary’s Shrine, Warrington; and there is a statue of him in the Lady Chapel of St Werburgh’s Church, Birkenhead.  Until its demolition in the early 1990s, St Benedict’s Church had a building named after him called the ‘Bell Hall’.

Prayer of Rededication

This was the prayer we prayed with the Archbishop when our three parishes merged together last year:

God our Father,
we, your pilgrim people,
gather in your presence and ask your blessing
as we seek to serve you and your people.

Under the patronage of Blessed James Bell,
and in communion with the whole Church,
form us into a community,
built on the fidelity of those who have gone before us.

May we take to heart the last words of the Lord Jesus
and go into the world
to proclaim the Good News to the whole of creation.

Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit,
may your Word take root in our hearts inspiring us
to gather and give thanks in the eucharist,
to serve you in our love for one another, 
and to reach out in welcome to all people,
especially those most in need.

United with other Christian communities in this area,
may our parish be a source of grace and blessing
for the local community,
and so help to build your kingdom of justice, love and peace.

Grant this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

 

SYNOD 2020

synod-themes

Between now and 17 November, we are invited to reflect on the first Synod Theme:  All called and gifted by God.   There are a number of ways we can do this:

1)  There will be a Meeting for all the Parishes in Warrington Pastoral Area on Tuesday 11 November, either at 1.00 pm in St Benedict’s Church or at 7.00 pm in St Oswald’s Parish Centre.

2)  There is a Prayer Station in church which will help you to reflect on the theme and suggest proposals for action.

3)  There will be an Evening of Prayer & Reflection, 7.30 – 9.00 pm, on Tuesday 29 October at St Joseph’s, Crow Orchard Road, Wrightington WN6 9PA and on Wednesday 6 November at St Philomena’s, Sparrow Hall Road, Liverpool L9 6BU.

4)  You can visit the Synod Themes and submit a proposal online at:  www.synod2020.co.uk


29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

Gospel  (Luke 18: 1-8)

Jesus told his disciples a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart. ‘There was a judge in a certain town’ he said ‘who had neither fear of God nor respect for man. In the same town there was a widow who kept on coming to him and saying, “I want justice from you against my enemy!” For a long time he refused, but at last he said to himself, “Maybe I have neither fear of God nor respect for man, but since she keeps pestering me I must give this widow her just rights, or she will persist in coming and worry me to death.”’

And the Lord said ‘You notice what the unjust judge has to say? Now will not God see justice done to his chosen who cry to him day and night even when he delays to help them? I promise you, he will see justice done to them, and done speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?’

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Meditation

As I come to pray, I take time to relax into God’s presence, grateful that I have this time to spend with the Lord…

I become aware of my feelings as I settle to pray.   Do I feel relaxed and content, or am I feeling discouraged, saddened or anxious?…

Knowing that the Lord accepts me as I am, I accept his invitation to meet him in prayer and not lose heart.

I carefully read the Gospel, slowly…

I ponder the parable.  How do I respond to the widow’s situation?   She is poor, powerless but persistent.  How is this reflected in my life, my prayer, my action for justice for others? I speak to the Lord of this…

I consider Jesus’s spirit of justice, his attitude to the poor and oppressed. I think of others who have inspired – or inspire me now – to respond to injustice, to be persistent when I see no results.   Perhaps I ask for such graces and especially not to lose heart.

In response to Jesus’s last question, I may pray for faithfulness for myself, my community and the wider world.

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

SYNOD 2020

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Last Sunday, the four Synod Themes that have emerged from the many listening sessions were announced.  These themes will be the focus of the next stage of our Synod Journey.  The four Synod Themes are:

  • All called and gifted by God
  • Sharing the mission of Jesus
  • How we pray together
  • Building community, nurturing belonging

The next task is to generate proposals for action within each theme.  These proposals will be taken forward to be voted on at the Synod Day in October 2020.

The themes will be considered one-by-one with each having their own specific period of reflection:

  • 20 October – 17 November 2019:  All called and gifted by God
  • 17 November – 15 December 2019:  Sharing the mission of Jesus
  • 19 January – 16 February 2020:  How we pray together
  • 16 February – 15 March 2020:  Building community, nurturing belonging

Alongside the local discernment, there will also be an opportunity for people to submit a proposal via the Synod website.

In Warrington, we will explore the themes as a Pastoral Area.  We will explore the first theme – All called and gifted by God – on Tuesday 11 November, either at 1.00 pm in St Benedict’s Church or at 7.00 pm in St Oswald’s Parish Centre.

EXTRAORDINARY MONTH OF MISSION

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Pope Francis asks us to pray with him at midday every Friday in October, the following prayer:

God our Father,
when your Son Jesus Christ rose from the dead,
he commissioned his followers
to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’.

Through our Baptism you send us out
to continue this mission among all peoples.

Empower us by the gifts of the Holy Spirit
to be courageous and enthusiastic
in bearing witness to the Gospel,
so that the mission entrusted to us,
which is still far from completion,
may bring life and light to the world.

May all peoples experience the saving love
and generous mercy of Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
Amen.


28th Sunday in Ordinary time (C)

Gospel  (Luke 17: 11-19)

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus travelled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered one of the villages, ten lepers came to meet him. They stood some way off and called to him, ‘Jesus! Master! Take pity on us.’ When he saw them he said, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ Now as they were going away they were cleansed. Finding himself cured, one of them turned back praising God at the top of his voice and threw himself at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. The man was a Samaritan. This made Jesus say, ‘Were not all ten made clean? The other nine, where are they? It seems that no one has come back to give praise to God, except this foreigner.’ And he said to the man, ‘Stand up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you.’

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Pastoral Letter from the Archbishop

My dear friends in Jesus Christ,

The words “thank you” are central to everything we do at Mass today. The Mass, the Eucharist, is our great prayer of thanksgiving and praise to God. In this way when we gather for Mass we are a people formed by thanksgiving.

The Gospel today is an example of thanks unexpectedly given. The Samaritan, who was one of the ten cured, returns and says thank you; he is the only one.

I want to say thank you today to all those who have taken part in our Synod listening. It is remarkable that over 20,000 people have been part of this journey so far. This is encouraging and fills me with hope as does every act of thanksgiving.

But today I also want to say thank you to God for the gift of a new saint. On Sunday 13 October, Pope Francis will declare John Henry Newman a saint of the Church. That means we can all learn from his example, from his holiness, from his teaching, writing and praying. We can ask Saint John Henry Newman to intercede for us with God.

He was associated with Blessed Dominic Barberi whose mortal remains were laid to rest at Sutton Monastery, within our Archdiocese. He became intellectually convinced of the truth of Catholicism but yearned to meet a person imbued with the holiness it promised. He found this in Blessed Dominic who received his declaration of faith and prayed with him at the time of his conversion. Newman was a man of the Spirit who yearned to encounter true sanctity, he discerned this holiness in Blessed Dominic and discerned the presence of the Holy Spirit in his own life and the life of others. He said: ‘Heart speaks unto heart’.

God has given each of us a calling, to use John Henry Newman’s words “an invitation to a definite service”. The Synod invites us to use the gifts that God has given to us to be truly missionary disciples for and in the world today. We must use our gifts in growing and strengthening our parish communities and taking our Faith out to the wider community in service of all, particularly the marginalised and the poor just as John Henry Newman did. In one of his many writings our new saint wrote: ‘I sought to hear the voice of God and I climbed the topmost steeple, but God declared: “Go down again – I dwell among the people.”’

This is something that Pope Francis is very aware of as he encourages us to be the Church that listens. Over these last months we have listened together. We have journeyed along the road towards our Synod. I would encourage you to have a look at the report from the listening that can be accessed through our Synod website. Even a quick glance will give you an idea of the riches that have been shared by so many who have participated. As you read through you may notice some ideas that you think might make good proposals to be considered at the Synod itself next October. You may also notice some ideas that lie outside of what can be considered at a diocesan Synod.

From all the listening that has taken place 4 themes have emerged.  These are:

  • All called and gifted by God

In this Synod Theme we reflect on the vocation that God gives to each of us.

  • Sharing the mission of Jesus

Here we reflect on how we are sent out into the world to proclaim the Good News to the whole of creation.

  • How we pray together

In our third theme we reflect on the place of prayer and worship in our life as Church.

  • Building community, nurturing belonging

In our final Synod Theme, we reflect on what it means to be a Church of welcome and discipleship.

Please take the Synod Sunday leaflet with you today and be ready to play your part in shaping proposals.

We do all this led by the kindly light of God’s love. Those words are part of St John Henry Newman’s great hymn – Lead kindly light. In the midst of what can sometimes seem to be dark times we are confident of that light. Our Synod listening has shone a light, a bright light which with God’s help will lead us on the path we should choose. It will not always be an easy path – but we walk it together, on the road – becoming the Church God is calling us to be.

St John Henry Newman lived during a period of tremendous changes: social, cultural, technological, intellectual and spiritual. He tried to assimilate all this into his traditional Christian life of faith. He said: ‘To live is to change and to be perfect is to have changed often’.

With courage and great faith and with thanksgiving in our hearts we commit the next steps in our Synod to his intercession as we journey together to become the Church God is calling us to be.

St John Henry Newman, pray for us.

I wish you and your families every blessing in the months ahead.

+ Malcom McMahon, OP

Archbishop of Liverpool

EXTRAORDINARY MONTH OF MISSION

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Pope Francis asks us to pray with him at midday every Friday in October, the following prayer:

God our Father,
when your Son Jesus Christ rose from the dead,
he commissioned his followers
to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’.

Through our Baptism you send us out
to continue this mission among all peoples.

Empower us by the gifts of the Holy Spirit
to be courageous and enthusiastic
in bearing witness to the Gospel,
so that the mission entrusted to us,
which is still far from completion,
may bring life and light to the world.

May all peoples experience the saving love
and generous mercy of Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
Amen.


27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

Gospel  (Luke 17: 5-10)

The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’ The Lord replied, ‘Were your faith the size of a mustard seed you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it would obey you.

‘Which of you, with a servant ploughing or minding sheep, would say to him when he returned from the fields, “Come and have your meal immediately”? Would he not be more likely to say, “Get my supper laid; make yourself tidy and wait on me while I eat and drink. You can eat and drink yourself afterwards”? Must he be grateful to the servant for doing what he was told? So with you: when you have done all you have been told to do, say, “We are merely servants: we have done no more than our duty.”’

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Thought

Following Jesus is not always easy.  We are tempted to say things and do things that are not Christian.  In difficult situations, we can find it hard to trust our Lord.  The apostles experienced the same.  They were living with Jesus, watching him, learning from him, and then they would find themselves reacting to a situation in a very different way to their Master.  There were times when they just couldn’t understand what Jesus was saying or why he responded to various situations in the way that he did.  It’s no wonder they said to him:  “Increase our faith”.

Following Jesus is something we have to learn.  It doesn’t necessarily come naturally to us.  As we learn, we have to allow ourselves to ‘mess up’ at times.  This is part of learning and our Lord understands this.  It’s at these times we need to allow our Lord to be merciful to us.  In that experience of mercy and acceptance, we learn to be merciful and patient with ourselves and others.

It seems to me the apostles request in today’s Gospel is a prayer, and a good prayer for us to pray:  Lord, increase our faith.

Fr Dave

becoming

Synod Talk

“The Quiet Revolution of Pope Francis: A Synodal Catholic Church”

Former Irish Provincial, Fr Gerry O’Hanlon SJ, will examine Pope’s Francis’ focus on a renewed Church with a missionary focus and how this can be translated on the ground in parishes.  He will review the opportunities, barriers and fruits of being a more Synodal Church and how this demands a change of role for bishops, the ordained and all the baptised in the world today.

The talk marks the twelve-month countdown to Synod 2020 and is a key to the whole synodal process that the Archdiocese has embarked upon.  Monday 7 October in Liverpool Hope University Chapel L16 8ND.  Tea and coffee from 7.00 pm, talk at 7.30 pm concluding at 8.45 pm.  Optional Night Prayer at 9.00 pm.  All are welcome!

Next Steps

At the end of September, all the Synod Members gathered at ‘The Edge’ in Wigan to receive the report from the listening stage of our Synod journey, and to hear the announcement of the four themes that have emerged from all the listening that has taken place from February to July.

Over 20,000 people took part in the listening – in parishes, schools, online and in focus groups.  All this information was read and sent to Hope University and, under the guidance of Father Peter McGrail, was presented to the Synod working party in August.  You can read the full report (130 pages) on the Synod website:  www.synod2020.co.uk (under ‘News’).  During a three-day retreat, the Working Party prayed, read, shared, discerned and eventually four themes emerged.

These four themes will give us all the opportunity to listen some more, to reflect, and eventually to make proposals for action to the Synod, which will be voted on and which will guide the Archbishop in writing a Pastoral Plan for the Archdiocese.

The four themes are:

  • All called and gifted by God
  • Sharing the mission of Jesus
  • How we pray together
  • Building community, nurturing belonging

Synod Sunday 2019

Next Sunday, 13 October, has been designated as the 2nd Synod Sunday.  This is also the day on which Pope Francis will declare Blessed John Henry Newman a saint of the Church.  This seems hardly a co-incidence.  Cardinal Newman was a great scholar but also a great pastor.  He brought his many and varied gifts to the service of the Church in this country.  First to the Church of England, and then to the Roman Catholic Church.

Father Andrew Unsworth wrote this about Cardinal Newman: ‘He is often portrayed as a great defender of the role of conscience in the Christian life and so he was, especially as conscience guides conduct.  However, conscience must also be understood in the context of Christian obedience to the teachings of Revelation and the interpretations and judgements of the Church’s Magisterium.  Cardinal Newman is often quoted as saying in connection with the need to consult the people of God: “I sought to hear the voice of God and climbed the topmost steeple, but God declared: “Go down again – I dwell among the people.”’

It seems right and fitting that this next part of our Synod journey, which will involve more listening and discerning, should be under the intercession of the soon to be Saint John Henry Newman.

EXTRAORDINARY MONTH OF MISSION

oct2019-en

Pope Francis asks us to pray with him at midday every Friday in October, the following prayer:

God our Father,
when your Son Jesus Christ rose from the dead,
he commissioned his followers
to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’.

Through our Baptism you send us out
to continue this mission among all peoples.

Empower us by the gifts of the Holy Spirit
to be courageous and enthusiastic
in bearing witness to the Gospel,
so that the mission entrusted to us,
which is still far from completion,
may bring life and light to the world.

May all peoples experience the saving love
and generous mercy of Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
Amen.


26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

Gospel  (Luke 16: 19-31)

Jesus said to the Pharisees: ‘There was a rich man who used to dress in purple and fine linen and feast magnificently every day. And at his gate there lay a poor man called Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to fill himself with the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even came and licked his sores. Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried.

‘In his torment in Hades he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off with Lazarus in his bosom. So he cried out, “Father Abraham, pity me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames.” “My son,” Abraham replied “remember that during your life good things came your way, just as bad things came the way of Lazarus. Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony. But that is not all: between us and you a great gulf has been fixed, to stop anyone, if he wanted to, crossing from our side to yours, and to stop any crossing from your side to ours.”

‘The rich man replied, “Father, I beg you then to send Lazarus to my father’s house, since I have five brothers, to give them warning so that they do not come to this place of torment too.” “They have Moses and the prophets,” said Abraham “let them listen to them.” “Ah no, father Abraham,” said the rich man “but if someone comes to them from the dead, they will repent.” Then Abraham said to him, “If they will not listen either to Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead.”’

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Thought

The image of the rich man and the poor man at his gate plays out in every generation.  In our own day, think of the migrants waiting at the border between the US and Mexico, or the borders between Europe and Africa.

The image of Lazarus longing to fill himself with the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table makes me think of the enormous imbalance in the appropriation and consumption of the earth’s resources, creating a ‘first world’ and a ‘third world’.

The rich man wasn’t condemned for being rich, but because he didn’t notice what was going on around him – he didn’t notice Lazarus.  And even if he did, he did absolutely nothing to help him.  Do I notice what is going on around me?  Do I care enough to do something, or do I leave it to others?

A little thing we can do to help this week is to take part in CAFOD’s Harvest Fast Day on Friday.  It’s one of two fast days in the year that helps to fund CAFOD – the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.  In our name, CAFOD reaches out to the poorest of the poor.  You can find more information here:  www.cafod.org.uk  

Prayer

Open our eyes, O Lord,
to see the poor and the needy at our doors.
Open our hearts to welcome them to our tables,
and to share with them,
the many good things you have given us.
Through Christ our Lord.

SYNOD 2020

synod

“The Quiet Revolution of Pope Francis: A Synodal Catholic Church”

Former Irish Provincial, Fr Gerry O’Hanlon SJ, will examine Pope’s Francis’ focus on a renewed Church with a missionary focus and how this can translated on the ground in parishes.  He will review the opportunities, barriers and fruits of being a more Synodal Church and how this demands a change of role for bishops, the ordained and all the baptised in the world today.

The talk marks the twelve-month countdown to Synod 2020 and is a key to the whole synodal process that the Archdiocese has embarked upon.  Monday 7 October in Liverpool Hope University Chapel L16 8ND.  Tea and coffee from 7.00 pm, talk at 7.30 pm concluding at 8.45 pm.  Optional Night Prayer at 9.00 pm.  All are welcome!

EXTRAORDINARY MONTH OF MISSION

oct2019-en

Pope Francis asks us to pray with him at midday every Friday in October, the following prayer:

God our Father,
when your Son Jesus Christ rose from the dead,
he commissioned his followers
to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’.

Through our Baptism you send us out
to continue this mission among all peoples.

Empower us by the gifts of the Holy Spirit
to be courageous and enthusiastic
in bearing witness to the Gospel,
so that the mission entrusted to us,
which is still far from completion,
may bring life and light to the world.

May all peoples experience the saving love
and generous mercy of Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
Amen.