Fr Dave's Blog

Fifth Week of Lent

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

theme4

“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

theme4

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)



7th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Gospel  (Matthew 5: 38-48)

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You have learnt how it was said: Eye for eye and tooth for tooth. But I say this to you: offer the wicked man no resistance. On the contrary, if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well; if a man takes you to law and would have your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone orders you to go one mile, go two miles with him. Give to anyone who asks, and if anyone wants to borrow, do not turn away.

‘You have learnt how it was said: You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike. For if you love those who love you, what right have you to claim any credit? Even the tax collectors do as much, do they not? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Even the pagans do as much, do they not? You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.’

sun-7a

Thought

Today’s Gospel follows on from last week’s passage and concludes our reading of the Sermon of the Mount (for now anyway).

Jesus asks us to go beyond the letter of the law.  He says:  “You have learnt how it was said… but I say this to you…”  In short, Jesus is asking us to learn to love like he loves.

This is not always easy for us, especially when someone has hurt us badly, or gossiped about us, or said something unkind to us, and so on.  Instead of trying to get our own back or hating the other, Jesus asks us to try and forgive.  Again, this is not always easy, and sometimes it can feel impossible.

In these times, we need to go to our Lord and ask him to help us and guide us – and he will.  In time, we will notice our hearts begin to soften – especially if we’ve talked about our anger and hurt to a trusted friend; our thoughts begin to entertain the possibility of reaching out to the other person, or forgiving them in our hearts if it’s not possible or desirable to get in touch with a particular person.  This is the work of the Holy Spirit in us.  God’s Spirit is at work in us and will bring us to peace and healing if we let him.  But it takes time and we have to be careful not to shut ourselves off from the possibilities that God can bring in a particular situation.

So what Jesus is asking of us is not impossible.

Bishop Seamus Cunningham, the emeritus Bishop of Hexham & Newcastle, once offered a helpful prayer for difficulties in relationships.  He said:  “May the Christ in me recognise the Christ in them, and may the Christ in them recognise the Christ in me.”  I’ve found that a very powerful prayer over the years.

Fr Dave

Prayer

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

SYNOD 2020

theme4

Until Sunday 15 March, we are invited to reflect and submit proposals on the fourth and final Synod Theme, “Building community, nurturing belonging”.  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 March, either at 1.00 pm or at 7.00 pm in St Joseph’s, Penketh.

2)  There will be Thoughts & Reflections in the newsletter each week which will help us to reflect on the theme and suggest proposals for action.

3)  There will be an Evening of Prayer & Reflection led by Fr Chris Thomas and Sr Moira Meeghan, 7.30 – 9.00 pm, on Tuesday 27 February at St Joseph’s, Crow Orchard Road, Wrightington WN6 9PA and on Wednesday 4 March at Our Lady Help of Christians, Portico L34 2QT.

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

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

The Prophetic Community

I believe that the way ahead, the only way,
lies through our making ourselves what we ought to be.
When our sons and daughters, our grandsons and
Granddaughters can look at the Catholic Church and say:
‘There is a community of reasonable and sensible people
who actually believe in this person called Jesus Christ
and his resurrection;
there is a community which is not obsessed with itself
but puts itself at the service of humanity;
there is a community in which people pull together;
there is a community which has fire in its belly about justice:
doesn’t mind rattling the bars of people’s cages;
there is a community which clearly possesses a treasure,
a hidden treasure which makes its members happy.’
When our children and grandchildren can look at us
and say that about us, they will also want to say:
‘And that is the community I wish to belong to.’

Monsignor Tony Philpot


6th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Gospel  (Matthew 5: 20-22, 27-28, 33-34, 37)

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I tell you, if your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.

‘You have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not kill; and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court. But I say this to you: anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it before the court.

‘You have learnt how it was said: You must not commit adultery. But I say this to you: if a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

‘Again, you have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not break your oath, but must fulfil your oaths to the Lord. But I say this to you: do not swear at all. All you need say is “Yes” if you mean yes, “No” if you mean no; anything more than this comes from the evil one.’

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Prayer

I come slowly to this time of prayer.  However the day has been, I take my time to settle and become still…
I become aware of the presence of Jesus, the teacher, and I ready myself to listen to him…
I ask that his Spirit might open my heart to his call to greater virtue…

I read the Gospel slowly…

Perhaps I am struck by Jesus saying ‘you may have learnt something in the past, but now I am saying this to you’ –  i.e. something very new.  In what way is his teaching different?
Perhaps I imagine Jesus speaking to me, entrusting me with his teaching, encouraging me to go deeper with him.
I pause to ponder…

I may well be able to recall occasions when I have fallen far short of Jesus’s teaching. How do I feel about this? …
Who or what sustains me when I feel dragged down into despondency? …
As I pause to notice what is going on within me, I pray for the grace to remember that Jesus continues to call me, inviting me to trust in his love.

I look to Jesus, again.
Perhaps I wonder at how he approaches life – with integrity, transparency, clarity.

I end, when ready, by asking him to be with me in the decisions of the coming week, helping me to be an honest, trustworthy and dependable presence for those around me.
Glory be…

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

SYNOD 2020

theme4

From today until Sunday 15 March, we are invited to reflect and submit proposals on the fourth and final Synod Theme, “Building community, nurturing belonging”.  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 March, either at 1.00 pm or at 7.00 pm in St Joseph’s, Penketh.

2)  There will be Thoughts & Reflections in the newsletter each week which will help us to reflect on the theme and suggest proposals for action.

3)  There will be an Evening of Prayer & Reflection led by Fr Chris Thomas and Sr Moira Meeghan, 7.30 – 9.00 pm, on Tuesday 27 February at St Joseph’s, Crow Orchard Road, Wrightington WN6 9PA and on Wednesday 4 March at Our Lady Help of Christians, Portico L34 2QT.

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

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

What people said in the Listening Sessions:

“Belonging to a parish community is good for children and families”
“Find ways of being more inclusive”
“Children should feel safe and loved in our Church”
“Divisions leave people feeling marginalised and pushed to the fringes”
“The Church is vital in welcoming and valuing the weak and the vulnerable”
“Young people should feel fully part of the community”
“Housebound and infirm should still feel part of our communities”
And much more!

In becoming the Church that God is calling us to be:

How do we ensure our parishes are inclusive?
How do we hand on our faith?
How can we support the home, school, parish partnership?
How do we reach out to those who feel excluded, on the margins, weak, or vulnerable?
How do our parishes grow in love for God and neighbour?
How could parishes work together?


5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Gospel  (Matthew 5: 13-16)

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men.

‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.’

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Reflection

“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!”

Perhaps you are familiar with this popular hymn. It is often used in children’s liturgies, and was in fact written as a gospel song for children in the 1920s. It later became something of an anthem for the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s, associated in particular with civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer. The song was seen as a way of expressing unity, as people fought for equal rights and freedom.

‘This Little Light of Mine’ is based on the words of Matthew’s Gospel that we hear today: ‘No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub… your light must shine in the sight of men.’ Without the light of those who were part of the civil rights movement, our world would be a very different place. There are good people everywhere who continue to fight for justice and freedom, who use their ‘light’ to help others and make sure people are treated fairly and with dignity – both those who campaign and speak out about injustice, and the people on the ground who support the sick, the homeless, refugees and others experiencing difficulties. Witnessing so much suffering, it might be tempting for these ‘people of light’ to become disheartened, but they carry on, using their compassion and skills to bring about change, shining their light in the darkness.

As followers of Christ, we are called to light up the world. Take some time this week to think about how you can let your light shine.

‘A community of Jesus which seeks to hide itself has ceased to follow him’ (Dietrich Bonhoeffer).

Tríona Doherty

Litany of Praise

Lord Jesus,
you came as salt to give a new flavourr to our lives
changing us from self-centeredness to being people for others.
Lord, have mercy.

Christ Jesus,
you came as light to overcome darkness and the fear of death.
Christ, have mercy.

Lord Jesus,
you entrusted to us the mission
to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
Lord, have mercy.

SYNOD 2020 MEETING

becoming

Many thanks to those parishioners who were able to attend one of the Pastoral Area meetings last Tuesday to explore the third Synod Theme: ‘How we pray together’.  After each Mass this weekend, there will be the opportunity to stay behind for a short while to hear about the theme, discuss it and share your thoughts.  Do stay if you can – even if only for a little while – and, in the words of the Archbishop, help us all to discern carefully “what the Spirit is saying to the Church in the Archdiocese of Liverpool and agree on common goals and actions for the coming years”.

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

Fr Dave


Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

Gospel  (Luke 2: 22-32)

When the day came for them to be purified as laid down by the Law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord – observing what stands written in the Law of the Lord: Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord – and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord. Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the Law required, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said:

‘Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace,
just as you promised;
because my eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared for all the nations to see,
a light to enlighten the pagans
and the glory of your people Israel.’

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Thought

Today’s feast doesn’t fall on a Sunday very often because of leap years.  The last time we celebrated today’s feast on a Sunday was in 2014, but the time before that was 2003.

Before the changes in the 1960’s, today’s feast marked the end of Christmas.  Some churches still keep the Crib in place until today.  Now, the feast of our Lord’s Baptism marks the end of the Christmas Season, which we celebrate in early January.

The Jewish religion invited parents to bring their first-born son to the Temple to give thanks to God and to make an offering for the poor.  So Mary and Joseph went to the Temple with Jesus as the law advised.  While they were there, the Holy Spirit inspired an old man called Simeon to recognise Jesus as the long awaited Messiah – the Light which would enlighten the world.  Simeon was filled with joy, so much so that he felt he could now die in peace.  His prayer, recorded in today’s Gospel, has become part of the daily Night Prayer of the Church.

The light of Christ inspired the mission statement of one of primary schools.  The Mission Statement of St Benedict’s Catholic Primary School is:  “In the light of Jesus, we learn to shine”.

Today’s feast perhaps makes us think of the older members of our parishes.  Like Simeon and Anna, they are always at Sunday Mass and popping in to pray during the week; and those who can no longer come to church often spend their days in prayer at home.  They are truly the backbone of the Church and the pillars of many parishes.

Last Friday, Pope Francis hosted an international congress on the pastoral care of the elderly.  You can read his address here:  the-richness-of-many-years

Fr Dave

SYNOD 2020

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Between now and 16 February, we are invited to reflect on the third Synod Theme:  How we pray together.   There are a number of ways we can do this:

1)  There will be a Meeting for all the Parishes in Warrington Pastoral Area this Tuesday, 4 February, either at 1.00 pm or at 7.00 pm in St Stephen’s Church, Orford.

2)  There will be an opportunity to share your thoughts after the weekend Masses at St Oswald’s and St Benedict’s next Saturday & Sunday, 8 & 9 February.

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

HOW WE PRAY TOGETHER

In this Synod Theme, we reflect on the place of prayer and worship in our life as Church.

“How beautiful will be the day when all the baptised understand that their work, their job, is a priestly work, that just as I celebrate Mass at this altar, so each carpenter celebrates Mass at his workbench, and each metal worker, each professional, each doctor with the scalpel, the market woman at her stand, is performing a priestly office! How many cabdrivers, I know, listen to this message there in their cabs; you are a priest at the wheel, my friend, if you work with honesty, consecrating that taxi of yours to God, bearing a message of peace and love to the passengers who ride in your cab.”

St Oscar Romero in ‘The Violence of Love’, p 10-11

“Prayer is, for me, an outburst from the heart; it is a simple glance darted upwards to Heaven; it is a cry of gratitude and of love in the midst of trial as in the midst of joy! In a word, it is something exalted, supernatural, which dilates the soul and unites it to God. Sometimes when I find myself, spiritually, in dryness so great that I cannot produce a single good thought, I recite very slowly an Our Father or a Hail Mary; these prayers alone console me, they suffice, they nourish my soul.”

St Therese of Lisieux

“A priest went to visit a patient in his home. He noticed an empty chair at the patient’s bedside and asked what it was doing there. The patient said, ‘I had placed Jesus on that chair and was talking to him before you arrived… For years I found it extremely difficult to pray until a friend explained to me that prayer was a matter of talking to Jesus. He told me to place an empty chair nearby, to imagine Jesus sitting on that chair and to speak with him and listen to what he says to me in reply. I’ve had no difficulty praying ever since.’ Some days later, so the story goes, the daughter of the patient came to the rectory to inform the priest that her father had died. She said, ‘I left him alone for a couple of hours. He seemed so peaceful. When I got back to the room I found him dead. I noticed a strange thing though, his head was resting not on the bed but on a chair that was beside the bed’.”

Anthony de Mello SJ in ‘Sadhana, a Way to God’ (1983)


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