Fifth Week of Lent

Saturday 4 April 2020

Five ways of sustaining faith in difficult times

Part 5 – Reality

gods-love

Each of us is called to be real, loving and honouring our lives and our humanity. I think one of our tasks as church is to help nourish and protect the goodness of humanity in a world that’s often hostile to us. We are to offer the world the real wisdom that can be found in Jesus and in his way. The wisdom of Christian spirituality is that it does offer a human life that is rich, vibrant and fulfilling, and a foretaste of all that is to come.

Our human nature is holy, in many ways damaged and broken, but holy none the less. Incarnation tells us that we must take our humanity seriously and any form of spirituality that makes us reject the reality of who we are is not ever going to satisfy our desire for God. We, in our humanity, reflect the nature of God. The greatest witness we can give to the Gospel is to be really human and alive.

What does that mean in these times of coronavirus? Maybe it means praying that everyone is aware of their own dignity and the wonder of humanity. Maybe it means reminding ourselves that God isn’t angry with the world but weeps with us at this time. Perhaps it is about reminding us that all of us are the pinnacle of God’s creation.

  • Take time each day to remind yourself that you matter.
  • Take time to remind others how precious they are.
  • Thank God for the gift of being human and alive.

Fr Chris Thomas

Five ways of sustaining faith in difficult times

Part 4 – Community

love-neighbour

I think it would be true to say that for Jesus the two great commandments are inseparable: love God and love your neighbour as yourself. We are called not just as individuals but as community. There is no room in Christianity for going it alone.

The Gospel invites us to recognise our need of the other, to know that real life comes from community. It’s about ‘us’ rather than ‘me’. We don’t walk the journey alone. It seems to me that the desire for community has been planted in our hearts by God and that it reflects the reality of who God is, a God who is one, a God who is in perfect relationship.

So, what about our parish communities in these difficult times when we can’t gather together? Are we no longer Church because we can’t celebrate the sacraments in our normal ways? Of course not.  We are Church. We are community. We are one. Maybe these difficult times will help us recognise the gift of one another.

  • Take time each day to pray for your community.
  • Contact people by phone, text, email just to say ‘hello’.
  • Gather people on your computer if you can, and have a time of prayer.

Fr Chris Thomas

Friday 3 April 2020

Five ways of sustaining faith in difficult times

Part 3 – Gratitude

gratitude

Fr Ronald Rolheiser says that the only heart that can transform the world is the grateful heart. Why? I think it is because the world does not understand gratitude. The grateful heart is the heart that knows that the very reason for its existence lies in the love of another, and the world no longer understands that we owe our very existence to another. Our gratitude can remind others of the presence of God. Perhaps it reminds others that only in God is peace and happiness to be found which are much needed in these troubled and difficult times.

What are we to be grateful for? Maybe it’s the gift of life, the gift of the world, the gift of energy, sexuality, people. There is so much to be thankful for if we take time to reflect on our lives. A spirit of gratitude is an alternative to all the negativity. It’s an alternative to hatred and suspicion, judgement and condemnation. It’s not so much an emotion as a decision to view the world in a particular way. It’s to face the world with a heart that’s open rather than a heart which is suspicious or presumes badness rather than goodness. It’s a way of embracing the world rather than separating oneself from it.

In the grateful heart there is room for acceptance, understanding, compassion and love. It is those things that transform our beautiful broken world, and the key to it all is gratitude.

  • When you wake, choose five things to be grateful for.
  • Spend a few moments thanking God for all you are given.
  • Cultivate gratitude each day for the food you eat.
  • Pray that God changes your heart to a grateful heart.

Fr Chris Thomas

Day of Prayer for Victims and Survivors of Abuse

The Bishops of England & Wales have chosen today, Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent, as the annual Day of Prayer for Victims and Survivors of Abuse.

candle-1200-800-1140x641

Prayer for Healing and Reconciliation

Praise to you, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the source of all consolation and hope.
Be the refuge and guardian of all
who suffer from abuse and violence.
Comfort them and send healing
for their wounds of body, soul and spirit.
Help us all and make us one with you
in your love for justice
as we deepen our respect for the dignity of every human life.
Giver of peace, make us one in celebrating
your praise, both now and forever.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

hurt-by-abuse-respond

Thursday 2 April 2020

Five ways of sustaining faith in difficult times

Part 2 – Reaching Out

reaching-out

That challenge to reach out can be found throughout the Scriptures. Maybe we need to hear it now more than at any other time. The prophets are constantly inviting us to reflect on the call to be on the side of the little ones. Richard Rohr says ‘any experience of grace tells us that history is not about us. In fact, my own life is not about me.’ I think now more than any other time we have an opportunity to look out for our neighbours and to create what Pope Paul VI called a ‘society of sharing solidarity and love.’

What can we do? In these challenging times we can keep our eyes open for those who are isolated, lonely and need help. We can make sure our neighbours have enough shopping. We can phone people and encourage people. We can make sure that we only buy what we need and not more than that. We can pray for others constantly, particularly those who are struggling. We can pray that we move away from our own individualism where it’s me and my needs that matter to a place where we live for the common good and make decisions for the common good. We can focus our attention outwards rather than inwards and maybe we can change the world.

  • Take time each day to phone people you know.
  • Take time each day to pray for others and for yourself.
  • When shopping, look for what you need and not what you panic about.
  • Have care for those in complete isolation and see what they need.

Fr Chris Thomas

Five ways of sustaining faith in difficult times

Part 1 – Prayer

sun17cii

You know if we’re not praying people, in love with God and taking time each day to fall deeper in love with God, then I don’t know what faith is about. For me, prayer is to enable us to deepen our loving relationship with God through Christ.

Desire for God is at the heart of prayer and silence enables God to meet that desire and to fulfil it. So I would encourage anyone to spend some time in silence each day.

If you watched the television programme the ‘The Big Silence’ narrated by Fr Christopher Jamieson, you will have seen five people step back from their hectic lives and experience silence and, all of them without exception, had to face a difficult journey as they moved beyond themselves, but it was a life-giving journey. It might be difficult to move beyond that which often fills our hearts and minds, ourselves, but it is the most extraordinary experience that becomes impossible to live without. So, take time each day to be still and to be silent and open your heart to God.

Silence restores us and brings us wellsprings of hope within that we never knew existed. It is the source of our power to bring unconditional love into the world we live in.

  • Light a candle.
  • Take time to breathe.
  • Use a sacred word to get you to a place of inner quiet.
  • Repeat your word gently as you need to focus your attention.

 Fr Chris Thomas

Wednesday 1 April 2020

A message from the Archbishop to Key Workers, Teachers and the NHS:

Tuesday 31 March 2020

Some photo’s today.

With our churches closed and the country in lockdown, we’re having to find new ways of keeping Sunday holy.  Some parishioners are joining in Mass online, others are gathering together in their homes to pray.  Here are a few pictures of some children in the parish getting ready to celebrate a time of prayer together:

angelo-rosa-maria-3

angelo-rosa-maria-2

angelo-rosa-maria-1

Meanwhile, in a parish I used to serve, a Deputy Headteacher is delivering meals:

lesley-delivering

Go for it, Lesley!

I hope these photo’s encourage you in this strange time.  We may see a lot of negativity on the news – people being selfish or angry, critical of others, and so on, but there’s also a lot of goodness going on every minute of every day that doesn’t make the headlines.  Let all that goodness encourage you and inspire you.

Monday 30 March 2020

Here’s an interesting website…

ALONE (TOGETHER)
A guide to isolation and social distancing from those who know

Some online resources offered to help people live through the coronavirus pandemic. Their special quality is that they don’t come from theories; they all come from those with experience of social distancing or isolation, people who have lived this reality either intentionally like monks and nuns or against their will like hostages or the housebound. This is a new and difficult journey for most people, but experienced guides give us hope along the way.

www.alonetogether.org.uk

FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT (A)

lent-5

Although we can’t celebrate the Eucharist together this weekend, there are still ways we can pray together on this, the Lord’s Day.

1)  You can join in online.  There are lots of websites that are livestreaming Mass:

cathedral
From Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral (livestream on Facebook at 9.00 am, repeated on YouTube at 11.00 am)
https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCOiDR9mRmfnAu05Yg3ifyMw

st-stephen-warrington-1
From St Stephen’s, Orford:
https://www.st-stephens-warrington.co.uk

From other churches in the UK and Ireland:
https://www.churchservices.tv/
https://www.mcnmedia.tv/

2)  You can join in by praying at home – on your own or with other members of your household.  Below are some resources kindly provided by Redemptorist Publications and the Archdiocese:

Mass sheet:  mass-sheet-lent-5a
Children’s sheet:  look29mar2020  and  ichthus-29-mar-2020
Sunday Plus:  sp-29-mar-2020
Prayer Service:  5th-sunday-of-lent-web
Fr Dave’s Prayers:  bidding-prayers-for-sunday

3)  For Children:

cafod
CAFOD are hosting a virtual Children’s Liturgy of the Word at 10.00 am:
https://cafod.org.uk/Education/Children-s-liturgy

4)  Rededication of England to Mary

our-lady-of-walsingham

On the Feast of Corpus Christi 1381, King Richard II dedicated England to Mary in a ceremony at Westminster Abbey in thanksgiving for his kingdom being saved at the time of the Peasants’ Revolt.  England received the title ‘Mary’s Dowry’, meaning that England was ‘set aside’ as a gift – a dowry – for Our Lady under her guidance and protection.

This weekend, England will be rededicated to Mary in Cathedrals, Parishes and Catholic institutions throughout the country.  We’re invited to join in the prayers of rededication which you’ll find by clicking on the link below.

prayers-of-the-rededication

5)  Catholic Pictorial

catholic-pic
You can read April’s edition of the Catholic Pictorial here:
http://www.catholicpic.co.uk

6)  National Call to Prayer

As much of the world faces the unprecedented challenge of the Coronavirus pandemic, Churches Together in England (CTE) is encouraging Christians across the nation to continue uniting in prayer, praying in their homes at 7.00 pm each Sunday evening.  Following the overwhelming response which the National Call to Prayer received on Mothering Sunday, CTE has prepared a candle poster for those who would like to place a permanent symbol in their front windows of Christ’s light shining in the darkness. Visit www.cte.org.uk/prayersofhope This poster has been made available due to our awareness of the potential fire risk posed by lighting live candles, particularly on windowsills. We are keen to avoid adding any pressure to our emergency service personnel, particularly at this difficult time.

With my prayers,
Fr Dave


Fourth Week of Lent

Saturday 28 March 2020

behold-2020-640w

Rededication of England to Mary

On the Feast of Corpus Christi 1381, King Richard II dedicated England to Mary in a ceremony at Westminster Abbey in thanksgiving for his kingdom being saved at the time of the Peasants’ Revolt.  England received the title ‘Mary’s Dowry’, meaning that England was ‘set aside’ as a gift – a dowry – for Our Lady under her guidance and protection.

This weekend, England will be rededicated to Mary in Cathedrals, Parishes and Catholic institutions throughout the country.  We’re invited to join in the prayers of rededication which you’ll find by clicking on the link below.

prayers-of-the-rededication

our-lady-of-walsingham

 

Friday 27 March 2020

27-march-6pm

Join Pope Francis as he prays on the steps of St Peter’s Basilica today (Friday) at 5.00 pm UK time (6.00 pm Rome). Although the square will be empty, there will be a period of Adoration and readings from Scripture. At the end of the service, the Holy Father will impart his Urbi et Orbi blessing.

Pope Francis asks that we join together to uphold the universality of prayer, compassion and tenderness, and encourages us to “remain united and make our closeness felt – especially with healthcare professionals and those who serve.”

To view online, click on this link and scroll down the page:  https://www.cbcew.org.uk/

 

Thursday 26 March 2020

nhs-clap

 

Message from Archbishop Malcolm for yesterday’s Solemnity of the Annunciation – his first vlog!

Wednesday 25 March 2020

The Annunciation of the Lord

Message from Cardinal Nichols

Today is the great Feast of the Annunciation – the moment when the Angel Gabriel came to Mary and presented to her the Word of God, which she accepted with an open heart and to which she gave her flesh in the incarnation.

Today, then, is the day of the first joys of Mary. And we turn to her not only as our Mother of Sorrows, but also as our mother of joys.

Now, today, Pope Francis has asked Christians right around the world to pray with him at midday in Rome, which is eleven o’clock here, to pray the Our Father with him for the health of the world for our strength against this virus and for our healing.

So please pray with me now:

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.
Amen.

Today, another prayer has been offered to us as well from the bishops of the continent of Europe – a continent in which this virus is biting so deeply now – a prayer for our protection and indeed for our help:

God, our Father,
Creator of the world, almighty and merciful.
Out of love for us, you sent your Son into the world
as the doctor of our souls and bodies.

Look upon your children,
who in this difficult time of confusion and dismay
in many regions of Europe and the world
turn to you seeking strength, salvation and relief.

Deliver us from illness and fear,
comfort our sick and their families,
give wisdom to our rulers,
energy and reward to our doctors,
nurses and volunteers,
and eternal life to those who have died.

Do not abandon us in this moment of trial,
but deliver us from all evil.

We ask this of you who with the Son and the Holy Spirit,
lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Amen.

Mary, Mother of Health and Hope,
Pray for us.

Amen.

Tuesday 24 March 2020

pope-2

Join Pope Francis on Wednesday Morning

At this time of uncertainty and anxiety, and now with our churches closed, Pope Francis has called on the world’s Christians and people of goodwill to join together in praying the Lord’s Prayer on Wednesday 25 March at 11.00 am UK time (midday in Rome).

This is a simple powerful act of solidarity.

If you have access to the internet, we can gather virtually by clicking on this link and scrolling down the page:  https://www.cbcew.org.uk/

Prayer

Today’s Psalm at Mass is a good prayer for today:

God is for us a refuge and strength,
a helper close at hand, in time of distress,
so we shall not fear though the earth should rock,
though the mountains fall into the depths of the sea.

The waters of a river give joy to God’s city,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within, it cannot be shaken;
God will help it at the dawning of the day.

The Lord of hosts is with us:
the God of Jacob is our stronghold.
Come, consider the works of the Lord,
the redoubtable deeds he has done on the earth.

(Psalm 45)

And finally for today, a picture sent to me from one of our younger parishioners:

house-cat

Monday 23 March 2020

stay-at-home

Pandemic by Lynn Ungar

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Centre down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love—
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

 

4th Sunday of Lent (A)

lent-4

Although we can’t celebrate the Eucharist together, there are still ways we can pray together on this, the Lord’s Day.

1)  Our churches are open for private prayer:

St Oswald’s (8.00 – 10.00 am), St Benedict’s (10.00 am – 12.00 noon)

2)  You may wish to watch Mass online.

Lots of churches in the UK livestream Mass.  You might like to try one of these websites:

https://www.churchservices.tv/

https://www.mcnmedia.tv/

I am looking into the possibility of livestreaming Mass from St Benedict’s or at least being able to upload a recording.

3)  Praying at home – on your own or as a family.

Below there are some resources kindly provided by the Bishops’ Conference and Redemptorist Publications:

when-mass-cannot-be-celebrated-publicly

green-mass-sheet-lent-4a

look-lent-4a  (Children’s Activity sheet)

sunday-plus-22-march-2020

4)  For Children

CAFOD are hosting a virtual Children’s Liturgy of the Word at 10.00 am:  https://cafod.org.uk/Education/Children-s-liturgy

5)  National Call to Prayer

This evening, Christians across the UK are invited to light a candle and place it in their window at home as a sign of hope – Jesus is the light in our darkness.

national-call-to-prayer

6)  Pastoral Letter from Archbishop Malcolm

Archbishop Malcolm has written to us.  You can download the letter by clicking on the link or watch it on the video below.

pastoral_letter_22_march_2020

 

And finally…

mothers-day

With my prayers,
Fr Dave


Third Week of Lent

20 March

national-call-to-prayer

19 March

‘Lockdown’
by Fr Richard Hendrick, OFM
13 March 2020

Yes there is fear. Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying. Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
But, they say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
you can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
the sky is no longer thick with fumes
but blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
people are singing to each other across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number through the neighbourhood
so that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome and shelter
the homeless, the sick, the weary.
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting.
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way.
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality,
to how big we really are,
to how little control we really have,
to what really matters,
to Love.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear, but there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation, but there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying, but there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness, but there does not have to be disease of the soul.
Yes there is even death,
but there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic.
The birds are singing again,
the sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
and we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul,
and though you may not be able to touch across the empty square,
sing!

18 March

lent3wed

In the First Reading at Mass today, Moses compared our God with the other gods people worshipped.  He asked:  “What great nation is there that has its gods so near as the Lord our God is to us whenever we call to him?”

Our God is close to us, he always hears us and will never leave us.  Let us put our trust in him.

Merciful God,
come to the help of your people.
Be our shelter in this time of peril
and strengthen the bonds of our community.
Bring healing to all who suffer
the ravages of disease
and assist those whose skill and art
can put an end to this affliction.
Through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

17 March – Feast of St Patrick, Patron of Ireland

st-patrick

At Mass today, we prayed part of a prayer known as St Patrick’s Breastplate.  It’s a beautiful prayer to keep close to our hearts just now:

Christ shield me this day:
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ in me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every person who thinks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

And a prayer from the Archbishop:

God our Father,
each person is precious to you.
You are the giver of life.
Have mercy on us and protect us at this time,
as the Coronavirus threatens health and life.
You are an ever-present helper in time of trouble.
Watch over those who are suffering,
give strength to those who are aiding the sick
and give courage to all in this time of anxiety.
We ask this of you in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ.
Amen.

 


A Liturgy for the 3rd Sunday of Lent (A) for use at Home during the Coronavirus

Introduction
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

Light a candle if you have one to hand.  Then say: 

The Lord Jesus says:
“Be still and know I am with you”.

Pause for a moment and become aware that the Lord is with you.

Penitential Act
We ask forgiveness from God and one another as we say:
I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault;
therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.

Collect Prayer
Father,
you have taught us to overcome our sins
by prayer, fasting and works of mercy.
When we are discouraged by our weakness,
give us confidence in your love.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Gospel (John 4: 5-16, 19-26, 39-42)
Jesus came to the Samaritan town called Sychar, near the land that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well is there and Jesus, tired by the journey, sat straight down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink.’ His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘What? You are a Jew and you ask me, a Samaritan, for a drink?’ – Jews, in fact, do not associate with Samaritans. Jesus replied:

‘If you only knew what God is offering
and who it is that is saying to you:
Give me a drink, you would have been the one to ask,
and he would have given you living water.’

‘You have no bucket, sir,’ she answered ‘and the well is deep: how could you get this living water? Are you a greater man than our father Jacob who gave us this well and drank from it himself with his sons and his cattle?’ Jesus replied:

‘Whoever drinks this water
will get thirsty again;
but anyone who drinks the water that I shall give
will never be thirsty again:
the water that I shall give
will turn into a spring inside him,
welling up to eternal life.’
lent3a
‘Sir,’ said the woman ‘give me some of that water, so that I may never get thirsty and never have to come here again to draw water. I see you are a prophet, sir. Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, while you say that Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.’

Jesus said:
‘Believe me, woman,
the hour is coming
when you will worship the Father
neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
You worship what you do not know;
we worship what we do know:
for salvation comes from the Jews.
But the hour will come
– in fact it is here already –
when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth:
that is the kind of worshipper the Father wants.
God is spirit,
and those who worship
must worship in spirit and truth.’

The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah – that is, Christ – is coming; and when he comes he will tell us everything.’ ‘I who am speaking to you,’ said Jesus ‘I am he.’

Many Samaritans of that town had believed in him on the strength of the woman’s testimony when she said, ‘He told me all I have ever done’, so, when the Samaritans came up to him, they begged him to stay with them. He stayed for two days, and when he spoke to them many more came to believe; and they said to the woman, ‘Now we no longer believe because of what you told us; we have heard him ourselves and we know that he really is the saviour of the world.’

Silent Reflection
You may also like to share your thoughts about the reading if others are with you.

Intercessions
Let us pray for those across the world who are suffering from the Coronavirus.
For those who have died and for those who are grieving.
Lord Jesus, give wisdom to policymakers,
skill to healthcare professionals and researchers,
comfort to everyone in distress,
and a sense of calm to us all in these days of uncertainty and worry.

Let us pray for those countries who don’t have the healthcare that we have.
For those who have become forgotten because of the Coronavirus,
especially the refugees suffering in Syria and on the Turkish-Greek border,
and the countries in South Africa facing famine.

For those who are preparing to be received into the Church at Easter,
and for the children preparing for First Communion and their families.

For anyone who is suffering with dementia, for their loved ones,
and for all who lovingly care for them.

In a moment of silence, let us pray for our own personal intentions
and for those who have asked us to pray for them.

Now let us join Pope Francis and ask Mary, ‘Health of the Sick’, to pray for us all:
“Hail Mary…”

The Lord’s Prayer

Act of Spiritual Communion
My Jesus,
I believe that you are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love you above all things,
and I desire to receive you into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive you sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace you as if you were already there
and unite myself wholly to you.
Never permit me to be separated from you.
(St Alphonsus Liguori)

Concluding Prayer
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

 

Acknowledgements
Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 2010 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.


2nd Sunday of Lent (A)

Gospel  (Matthew 17: 1-9)

Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone. There in their presence he was transfigured: his face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light. Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared to them; they were talking with him. Then Peter spoke to Jesus. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘it is wonderful for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ He was still speaking when suddenly a bright cloud covered them with shadow, and from the cloud there came a voice which said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him.’ When they heard this the disciples fell on their faces overcome with fear. But Jesus came up and touched them. ‘Stand up,’ he said ‘do not be afraid.’ And when they raised their eyes they saw no one but only Jesus.

As they came down from the mountain Jesus gave them this order, ‘Tell no one about the vision until the Son of Man has risen from the dead.’

lent-2a

Thought

Just before this Gospel passage, St Matthew tells us that Jesus told the disciples that he was destined to suffer grievously and to be put to death and to be raised up on the third day.  This was incomprehensible for the disciples.  The Messiah they were expecting was to be a great political hero who would chase the Romans from their land and make them a great nation.  How on earth could the Messiah suffer and die?  It didn’t make sense.

We know that Jesus remonstrated with Peter and challenged his expectations of the Messiah, but then he takes Peter, James and John aside and gives them a glimpse of what was to come after these terrible events – how he would share the glory of his Father in heaven.  The disciples were stunned by the wonder they saw and wanted to stay in the moment for ever.

Jesus gave them this experience to encourage them.  He hoped the experience would sustain the disciples in the dark days that lay ahead.

We don’t always see the whole picture and can easily become disillusioned.  It’s in these moments we have to trust our Lord – he knows what he is about.  He can see the whole picture and will guide us through whatever lies before us.  Not only that, he walks with us and accompanies us on the journey.

Fr Dave

SYNOD 2020

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“THE RICHNESS OF MANY YEARS”

Excerpts from Pope Francis’ address to the International Congress organized by the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, Rome, 31 January 2019. 

“In the twenty-first century, old age has become one of the distinctive features of humanity. Over a period of just a few decades, the demographic pyramid – which once rested upon a large number of children and young people and had at the top just a few elderly people – has been inverted.”

“Social disorientation and, in many respects, the indifference and rejection that our societies manifest towards the elderly demand not only of the Church, but of all of us, a serious reflection to learn to grasp and to appreciate the value of old age.”

“When we think of the elderly and talk about them, especially in the pastoral dimension, we must learn to change the tenses of verbs a little. There is not only the past, as if, for the elderly, there were only a life behind them and a moldy archive. No. The Lord can and wants to write with them also new pages, pages of holiness, of service, of prayer…

“Today I would like to tell you that the elderly are also the present and the future of the Church. Yes, they are also the future of a Church that, together with the young, prophesies and dreams! This is why it is so important that the elderly and the young speak to each other, it is so important.”

“I ask you not to spare yourselves in proclaiming the Gospel to grandparents and elders. Go to them with a smile on your face and the Gospel in your hands. Go out into the streets of your parishes and seek out the elderly who live alone. Old age is not an illness, it is a privilege! Loneliness can be an illness, but with charity, closeness and spiritual comfort we can heal it.”


1st Sunday of Lent (A)

Gospel  (Matthew 4: 1-11)

Jesus was led by the Spirit out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, after which he was very hungry, and the tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to turn into loaves.’ But he replied, ‘Scripture says:

Man does not live on bread alone
but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’

The devil then took him to the holy city and made him stand on the parapet of the Temple. ‘If you are the Son of God’ he said ‘throw yourself down; for scripture says:

He will put you in his angels’ charge,
and they will support you on their hands
in case you hurt your foot against a stone.’

Jesus said to him, ‘Scripture also says:

You must not put the Lord your God to the test.’

Next, taking him to a very high mountain, the devil showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. ‘I will give you all these’ he said, ‘if you fall at my feet and worship me.’ Then Jesus replied, ‘Be off, Satan! For scripture says:

You must worship the Lord your God,
and serve him alone.’

Then the devil left him, and angels appeared and looked after him.

lent-give-pray-fast

Thought

On the First Sunday of Lent, the Gospel always recounts the time Jesus was driven into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit where he was tempted by the devil.  Jesus used this time in the desert – forty days and forty nights – to prepare himself for the ministry he was about to undertake:  proclaiming the Good News of God’s love.  The devil wanted to throw Jesus off course.  So he tempted Jesus to think of his own needs rather than those of others; he tempted Jesus to use his miraculous powers for show rather than for helping others; he tempted Jesus to test his Father’s love for him.  But Jesus knew who he was and knew his Father, and resisted the devil.

If you like, Lent is our time in the wilderness:  forty days to give something up or do something extra to help us to come back to our Lord and be his followers in the world.  When we’re trying to do something good and holy, we too will face temptations to throw us off course.  Those temptations might include being tempted to give up what we’re trying to do, or to say “What’s the point?” when we mess up, and so on.  It’s important to be aware of this as we set out on our Lenten journey.  It doesn’t really matter if we mess up, what matters is that we get up and try again.  So don’t give up, let our Lord help you to your feet again and draw strength from his merciful love.

Fr Dave

Lenten Prayer (Psalm 50)

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness.
In your compassion blot out my offence.
O wash me more and more from my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.

My offences truly I know them;
my sin is always before me
Against you, you alone, have I sinned;
what is evil in your sight I have done.

A pure heart create for me, O God,
put a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
nor deprive me of your holy spirit.

Give me again the joy of your help;
with a spirit of fervour sustain me,
O Lord, open my lips
and my mouth shall declare your praise.

SYNOD 2020

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Building community, nurturing belonging

‘The task of educating children and the young in our Christian Faith cannot be handed over to one or two within the community.  Often parents, priests and others, including teachers and Catechists, see this as mainly the task of the Catholic school or of parish Catechists.’

‘The school cannot produce the fully-committed members of the Church all alone, without the help of parish and home and the free, personal decision of the pupils themselves.  A sense of realism as well as optimism and hope are called for if we wish to be faithful both to the Catholic nature of our school and to the needs of the people with whom we are concerned.’

(From ‘Our School and Our Faith’ by Jim Gallagher SDB, Collins 1988)