Feast of the Holy Family (A)

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Gospel  (Matthew 2: 13-15, 19-23)

After the wise men had left, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother with you, and escape into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, because Herod intends to search for the child and do away with him.’ So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, left that night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod was dead. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken through the prophet:  I called my son out of Egypt.

After Herod’s death, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother with you and go back to the land of Israel, for those who wanted to kill the child are dead.’ So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, went back to the land of Israel. But when he learnt that Archelaus had succeeded his father Herod as ruler of Judaea he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he left for the region of Galilee. There he settled in a town called Nazareth. In this way the words spoken through the prophets were to be fulfilled:  ‘He will be called a Nazarene.’

Thought

 3840-2016_06_02-17_41_42-utc

The picture above is of the beautiful statue of the Holy Family commissioned in 2000 for the refurbishment of the Church of the Holy Family in Boothstown, Worsley.  It was crafted by Butzon & Bercker in Kevelaer, Germany.

What do you notice?

Notice the curves – Mary holding her Son, Jesus, under the protection of Joseph.

Look closer and notice the chisel marks too – symbolising the rough and tumble and sufferings of life.

Notice the youthfulness of the couple – Mary would have only been about 15 years old and, Joseph, not much older.  How many of our Cribs portray Joseph as a balding man in his sixties?

Notice the simplicity of the statue which just adds to its beauty.

Fr Dave

Prayer

Loving God,
guardian of our homes,
when you entrusted your Son
to the care of Mary and Joseph,
you did not spare them the pains
that touch the life of every family.

Teach us to rely on your word,
that in our trials as in our joys
we may be clothed in gentleness and patience
and united in love.

Make us ever-thankful
for the blessings you give us
through Jesus Christ, your Word made flesh,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
in the splendour of eternal light,
one God for ever and ever.

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

SYNOD 2020

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The audio of the Synod Talk on Young People in the Church by Stephen Davies is now available on the Synod website under ‘News’ www.synod2020.co.uk  This was the third in a series of seven Synod Talks.  The next talk is on Faith in the Family by Dr Dominika Kurek-Chomycz & Prof John Sullivan on Monday 13 January at the LACE Conference Centre beginning at 7.30 pm (Tea and Coffee served from 7.00 pm).


Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord

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Sending Greetings to our sisters and brothers in the Holy Land
at the Christmas Vigil Mass

A very happy and peaceful Christmas to you all

Nollaig Shona Dhuit

Feliz Natal

楽しいクリスマスをお過ごしください

Froehliche Weihnachten

Joyeux Noël

Feliz Navidad

愉快的圣诞节

Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia…

Scripture Reading  (Luke 2: 1-14)

Caesar Augustus issued a decree for a census of the whole world to be taken. This census — the first — took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria, and everyone went to his own town to be registered. So Joseph set out from the town of Nazareth in Galilee and travelled up to Judaea, to the town of David called Bethlehem, since he was of David’s House and line, in order to be registered together with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to a son, her first-born. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them at the inn.

shepherds

In the countryside close by there were shepherds who lived in the fields and took it in turns to watch their flocks during the night. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone round them. They were terrified, but the angel said, “Do not be afraid. Listen, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. And here is a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly with the angel was a great throng of the heavenly host, praising God and singing: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to all who enjoy his favour”.

Carol

Once in royal David’s city

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TT3cfXd3Shk

Thought

In his homily for Midnight Mass, Pope Francis said:

“Tonight the love of God has been revealed to us. In Jesus, the Most High made Himself small, so that we might love Him. In Jesus, God made Himself a Child, so that we might embrace Him.”

“Tonight, in the beauty of God’s love, we also discover our own beauty, for we are beloved of God. In His eyes we are beautiful: not for what we do but for what we are.”

“Dear brother, dear sister, if your hands seem empty, if you think your heart is poor in love, this night is for you. The grace of God has appeared to shine forth in your life. Accept it and the light of Christmas will shine forth in you.”

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Prayer

Almighty God and Father of light,
a child is born for us and a son is given to us.
Your eternal Word leaped down from heaven
in the silent watches of the night,
and now your Church is filled with wonder
at the nearness of her God.

Open our hearts to receive his life
and increase our vision with the rising of dawn,
that our lives may be filled with his glory and his peace,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Scripture Passage from ‘The Jerusalem Bible’ © 1966 by Darton Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd. Prayer (c) 1973 International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.

 


4th Sunday of Advent (A)

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Gospel  (Matthew 1: 18-24)

This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph; being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son
and they will call him Emmanuel,
a name which means ‘God-is-with-us.’

When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home.

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We pray to the Lord, who is, who was and who is to come:
R. Come, Lord Jesus.  Maranatha!

That the generosity of Christian people
may bring good news to the poor.  R.

That all the peoples of the earth
may learn to live in peace.  R.

That those whose hearts have been broken
may find joy and healing in the Lord and his love.  R.

That the Word of God may touch our hearts this Christmas
and renew our hope and trust in the Lord.  R.

That those who have died
may rejoice for ever in God’s presence.  R.

night-christmas

CHRISTMAS IN HEAVEN
In all the joy of Christmas, there can be sadness too – especially if we’re missing a loved one who has died.  The following poem was penned by a mother, Wanda Bencke, whose young daughter died.  She imagines her daughter saying: 

I see the countless Christmas Trees
Around the world below
With tiny lights, like Heavens stars
Reflecting in the snow.
The sight is so spectacular,
Please wipe away a tear
For I am spending Christmas
With Jesus Christ this year.

I hear many Christmas songs
That people hold so dear,
But the sounds of music can’t compare
With the Christmas Choir up here.
I have no words to tell you,
The joy their voices bring;
For it’s beyond description
To hear an angel sing.

I know how much you miss me
For I feel your breaking heart;
But through our memories, oh so dear
We’re never far apart.
I can’t tell you of the splendour
Or the peace that’s in this place,
Can you just imagine Christmas
With our Saviour face to face?

I’ll ask him to light your spirit
As I tell him of your love;
Then pray for one another
As you lift your eyes above.
So let your heart be joyful
And let your spirit sing
For I am spending Christmas in heaven
And I’m walking with the King.

archbishop

Christmas Message from the Archbishop

‘The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.’  This is St John’s description of the birth of Jesus which is read in churches on Christmas morning.  He also speaks of the nativity as, ‘the light that shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it’.  Jesus is the light of the world, not some artificial light but the true light which can never be overcome by darkness.  He comes into the world for us to bring hope to our lives.

They must have been dark days for Mary and Joseph.  They lived under an occupying power and then Caesar Augustus decreed that there should be a census and everyone, irrespective of their situation or personal difficulties, had to go to their own town to be registered.  So, Mary and Joseph had to leave Nazareth and go to Bethlehem, a long and difficult journey.  When they eventually arrived, there was no welcome for them.  They were refugees, forced to stay in a stable, but everything was about to change for them.

With the birth of Jesus an angel and a heavenly host appeared to shepherds on a nearby hillside.  Blinding light piercing the darkness and leaving them shaken and afraid.  ‘Fear not!’  ‘Do not be afraid’ said the angel and that is the message of Jesus for us today.  As God chose shepherds to bring ‘news of great joy’ so too he chooses us today to be his messengers and says to us ‘do not be afraid’.

As the feast of Christmas comes near people have many hopes and expectations, there are pressures created by the clamour of modern life; created by a ‘must have’ society, by fear of what the future may hold, or by memories of Christmas past.  Yet in the birth of Jesus there is only simplicity: a child lying in a manger, yet the Son of God among us.

Amid the consumerism of Christmas there are many acts of human kindness, as minds and hearts turn to the needs of others.  We welcome the stranger and the refugee; we buy gifts for people we don’t even know, and we give our time to those who are in need.  In all the uncertainties of life we have hope which is a sign of love – God’s love for us in sending his Son into the world.  Our celebrations too are a sign of God’s love.

2,000 years ago there was a child born for us, a turning point in history which we still rejoice in today, which says that each one of us is loved by God and which takes away fear and gives us hope for the future.  We must open our hearts to the welcome offered by our Saviour and let him bring his peace to our lives and to our world.

May this Christmas be a time of peace for us all so that we may know the love of God in our lives.

Most Reverend Malcolm McMahon OP
Archbishop of Liverpool

SYNOD 2020

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The audio of the Synod Talk on Young People in the Church by Stephen Davies is now available on the Synod website under ‘News’ www.synod2020.co.uk  This was the third in a series of seven Synod Talks.  The next talk is on Faith in the Family by Dr Dominika Kurek-Chomycz & Prof John Sullivan on Monday 13 January at the LACE Conference Centre beginning at 7.30 pm (Tea and Coffee served from 7.00 pm).


3rd Sunday of Advent (A)

advent-3

Gospel  (Matthew 11: 2-11)

John in his prison had heard what Christ was doing and he sent his disciples to ask him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or have we got to wait for someone else?’ Jesus answered, ‘Go back and tell John what you hear and see; the blind see again, and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised to life and the Good News is proclaimed to the poor; and happy is the man who does not lose faith in me.’

As the messengers were leaving, Jesus began to talk to the people about John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the breeze? No? Then what did you go out to see? A man wearing fine clothes? Oh no, those who wear fine clothes are to be found in palaces. Then what did you go out for? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and much more than a prophet: he is the one of whom scripture says:

‘Look, I am going to send my messenger before you;
he will prepare your way before you.

‘I tell you solemnly, of all the children born of women, a greater than John the Baptist has never been seen; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is.’

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Thought

Today, the 3rd Sunday of Advent, is known as ‘Gaudete’ Sunday.  ‘Gaudete’ is the Lain word for ‘Rejoice’.  We rejoice because the Lord is very near.  The rose coloured candle on the Advent Wreath stands for joy, so that’s the one we light today.

In today’s 1st Reading, God’s people are in exile.  The prophet encourages them not to lose heart but to hope in God who is coming to save them.  This prophecy is fulfilled in Jesus, as we hear in today’s Gospel: the blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life and the Good News is proclaimed to the poor.  And so today’s Psalm response is the prayer of Advent, the prayer of people longing for Christ: “Come, Lord, and save us”.

In today’s 2nd Reading, St James counsels us to be patient and not to lose heart as we wait for the Lord to come again.

Fr Dave

Prayer

God of glory and compassion,
at your touch even the wilderness blossoms,
broken lives are made whole,
and fearful hearts grow strong in faith.
Open our eyes to your presence
and awaken our hearts to sing your praise.
To all who long for your Son’s return
grant perseverance and patience.
Come, Lord, and save us.

SYNOD 2020

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Many thanks to those parishioners who were able to attend one of the Pastoral Area meetings exploring the second Synod Theme, ‘Sharing the mission of Jesus’.  You can still submit proposals for this theme via the Synod website:  www.synod2020.co.uk  We will consider the third Synod Theme, ‘How we pray together’, in the new year.


2nd Sunday of Advent (A)

advent-2

Gospel  (Matthew 3: 1-12)

In due course John the Baptist appeared; he preached in the wilderness of Judaea and this was his message: ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’ This was the man the prophet Isaiah spoke of when he said:

A voice cries in the wilderness:
Prepare a way for the Lord,
make his paths straight.

This man John wore a garment made of camel-hair with a leather belt round his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judaea and the whole Jordan district made their way to him, and as they were baptised by him in the river Jordan they confessed their sins. But when he saw a number of Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism he said to them, ‘Brood of vipers, who warned you to fly from the retribution that is coming? But if you are repentant, produce the appropriate fruit, and do not presume to tell yourselves, “We have Abraham for our father,” because, I tell you, God can raise children for Abraham from these stones. Even now the axe is laid to the roots of the trees, so that any tree which fails to produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown on the fire. I baptise you in water for repentance, but the one who follows me is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to carry his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fan is in his hand; he will clear his threshing-floor and gather his wheat into the barn; but the chaff he will burn in a fire that will never go out.’

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Thought

Today’s Gospel introduces us to one of the great characters of Advent – John the Baptist.  He came to ‘prepare a way for the Lord’.

In today’s passage from St Matthew, John says, ‘I baptise you in water for repentance’.  The word ‘repentance’ means to make changes.  As Christians, we are only too aware that we need to keep making changes in our lives to be more like Jesus.  What change do you need to make in your life this Advent to be more like Christ?

St Paul offers a suggestion in today’s 2nd Reading.  He says, ‘treat each other in the same friendly way that Christ treats you’.  It seems to me that this is very good advice for us, not only in the run up to Christmas, but in the run up to Thursday’s General Election as well.

One way of doing this is simply to work at being kind and gentle:  be kind to yourself and to others, be gentle with yourself and others.  If you need a hand, here is a ‘Kindness Calendar’ from the ‘Action for Happiness’ website.

kindness-calendar

Fr Dave

Prayer for the 2019 General Election

God of grace and truth,
send your Spirit to guide us
as we discover your will for our country.
Help us to discuss the issues before us
with courtesy, truth and mutual respect,
and grant that all who stand for parliament
will seek to serve the common good,
through him who came not to be served but to serve,
Jesus Christ, who is Lord for ever and ever.

(c) Church of England

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.