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.