Fr Dave's Blog

28th Sunday in Ordinary time (C)

Gospel  (Luke 17: 11-19)

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

logo

Pastoral Letter from the Archbishop

My dear friends in Jesus Christ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • All called and gifted by God

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

  • Sharing the mission of Jesus

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

  • How we pray together

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

  • Building community, nurturing belonging

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

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

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

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

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

St John Henry Newman, pray for us.

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

+ Malcom McMahon, OP

Archbishop of Liverpool

EXTRAORDINARY MONTH OF MISSION

oct2019-en

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

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

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

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

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


27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

Gospel  (Luke 17: 5-10)

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

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

folly-clipart-ridqe86i9-jpeg

Thought

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

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

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

Fr Dave

becoming

Synod Talk

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

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

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

Next Steps

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

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

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

The four themes are:

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

Synod Sunday 2019

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

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

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

EXTRAORDINARY MONTH OF MISSION

oct2019-en

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

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

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

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

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


26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

Gospel  (Luke 16: 19-31)

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

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

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

sun26c

Thought

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

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

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

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

Prayer

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

SYNOD 2020

synod

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

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

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

EXTRAORDINARY MONTH OF MISSION

oct2019-en

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

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

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

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

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

 


25th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)

Gospel  (Luke 16: 1-13)

Jesus said to his disciples:  ‘There was a rich man and he had a steward denounced to him for being wasteful with his property. He called for the man and said, “What is this I hear about you? Draw me up an account of your stewardship because you are not to be my steward any longer.” Then the steward said to himself, “Now that my master is taking the stewardship from me, what am I to do? Dig? I am not strong enough. Go begging? I should be too ashamed. Ah, I know what I will do to make sure that when I am dismissed from office there will be some to welcome me into their homes.”

Then he called his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, “How much do you owe my master?” “One hundred measures of oil” was the reply. The steward said, “Here, take your bond; sit down straight away and write fifty.” To another he said, “And you, sir, how much do you owe?” “One hundred measures of wheat” was the reply. The steward said, “Here, take your bond and write eighty.”

‘The master praised the dishonest steward for his astuteness. For the children of this world are more astute in dealing with their own kind than are the children of light.

‘And so I tell you this: use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you, they will welcome you into the tents of eternity. The man who can be trusted in little things can be trusted in great; the man who is dishonest in little things will be dishonest in great. If then you cannot be trusted with money, that tainted thing, who will trust you with genuine riches? And if you cannot be trusted with what is not yours, who will give you what is your very own?

‘No servant can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.’

sun25c

Reflection

I make my way to the place I like to go to prat… maybe it’s indoors, but it could also be outdoors, walking or sitting in a favourite location…

Perhaps I close my eyes, intently focusing on sounds, smells or the touch of a much loved object.

I quieten my mind in the way which works best for me…

In time, I read the text from today’s Gospel. Maybe I can imagine myself with the disciples listening to Jesus, or I listen to Jesus speaking to me personally. What feelings arise as I hear Jesus’s words on money and genuine riches? …

I ponder: what are my genuine riches? They may not be related to money, but perhaps friendship, family, a fulfilling job or…  I give thanks to the Lord for them and tell him what is in my heart.

Maybe I can ask myself whether these riches sometimes take over and displace the Lord at the centre of my being… I think about my attitude towards God and money…  Am I, as Jesus suggests, the slave of one rather than the other, or do I try to keep a sense of balance so I can focus on what really matters? …

I spend some time in quiet, wordless contemplation.

In time, I take my leave, thankful for any insights he has given me today.

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

SYNOD 2020

synod

Synod Reflection

Don’t just look at the obvious gifts, the talent. There are hidden and latent gifts, much deeper ones, which are linked to the gifts of the Holy Spirit and to love. They too must flower.

In Christian Community, everything depends upon whether each individual is an indispensable link in a chain. Only when even the smallest link is securely interlocked is the chain unbreakable.

It will be well, therefore, if every member receives a definite task to perform for the community, that they may know, in hours of doubt, that they too are not useless and unusable.

Every Christian community must realise that not only do the weak need the strong, but also that the strong cannot exist without the weak.

Using our gift means building community. If we are not faithful the building will be weakened. St Paul emphasises the charismatic gifts in this building but there are many others which are more directly linked to a quality of love. Bonhoeffer speaks of the different ministries a community needs: holding one’s tongue, humility, tenderness, silence in the face of criticism, listening, constant readiness to render small services, support of brothers and sisters, proclamation of the Word, speaking the truth in love. There are people who have the gift of being able to sense immediately, and even to live, the sufferings of others that is the gift of compassion. There are others who know when something is going wrong and they can pinpoint the cause that is the gift of discernment. There are others who have the gift of light they see clearly what is of fundamental concern to the community. Others have the gift of creating an atmosphere which brings joy, relaxation and individual growth. Others again have the gift of welcome. Each person has a gift to use for the good and growth of all.

(From ‘Community and Growth’ by Jean Vanier)

Synod Talks

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

Former Irish Provincial, Gerry O’Hanlon SJ, will examine Pope’s Francis’ focus on a renewed Church with a missionary focus and how this can translated on the ground in parishes. He will review the opportunities, barriers and fruits of being a more synodal church and how this demands a change of role for bishops, the ordained and all the baptised in the world today. The talk marks the twelve-month countdown to Synod 2020 and is a key to the whole synodal process that the Archdiocese has embarked upon.  Monday 7 October in Liverpool Hope University Chapel L16 8ND.  Tea and coffee from 7.00 pm, talk at 7.30 pm concluding at 8.45 pm.  Optional Night Prayer at 9.00 pm.  All are welcome!


24th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)

Gospel  (Luke 15: 1-10)

The tax collectors and the sinners were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say, and the Pharisees and the scribes complained. ‘This man’ they said ‘welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ So he spoke this parable to them:

‘What man among you with a hundred sheep, losing one, would not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the missing one till he found it? And when he found it, would he not joyfully take it on his shoulders and then, when he got home, call together his friends and neighbours? “Rejoice with me,” he would say “I have found my sheep that was lost.” In the same way, I tell you, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine virtuous men who have no need of repentance.

‘Or again, what woman with ten drachmas would not, if she lost one, light a lamp and sweep out the house and search thoroughly till she found it? And then, when she had found it, call together her friends and neighbours? “Rejoice with me,” she would say “I have found the drachma I lost.” In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.’

3168-2016_06_02-17_41_42-utcsun24ci

Reflection

Cardinal Basil Hume, who died in 1999, once spoke about prayer using today’s parable of the lost sheep.  He said:  “Quite often we simply do not know how to pray, and feel that deep sense of being lost.  I think it is good at such times to see oneself rather like the lost sheep in the parable, caught in the briars, surrounded by fog, and the more you try to escape from the brambles the more you get entangled.  The more you try to rush through the fog the more likely you are to get lost.  When you are in that mood, wait and in your prayer imagine that sheep entangled in the briars with the fog all around. Just wait for him, Christ the shepherd, to come through the fog and disentangle you” (cf. ‘Light in the Lord’,  p 121).

Prayer

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.

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.

O Lord, open my lips
and my mouth shall declare your praise.
My sacrifice is a contrite spirit.
A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn.

(Psalm 50)

SYNOD 2020 TALKS

gohanlon_01

As we move to the next phase of our Synod Journey, there will be a series of talks to help us to better understand some of the pressing concerns of the Church and society.  The talks will take place in Liverpool Hope University Chapel.  Tea and coffee from 7.00 pm, talk at 7.30 pm concluding at 8.45 pm.  Optional Night Prayer at 9.00 pm.

The first talk will take place on Monday 7 October.  Fr Gerry O’Hanlon SJ will speak on The Quiet Revolution of Pope Francis: A Synodal Catholic Church.  The talk will address:

Our context: the signs of the times in Church and Society.
Synod as renewal of faith, reform of Church, missionary focus.
Biblical, historical and ecumenical roots of Synodality.
Pope Francis and Synodality – from an ‘era of change’ to a ‘change of era’.
How this might translate on the ground in parishes/dioceses.

All welcome!


23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)

Gospel  (Luke 14: 25-33)

Great crowds accompanied Jesus on his way and he turned and spoke to them. ‘If any man comes to me without hating his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life too, he cannot be my disciple. Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.

‘And indeed, which of you here, intending to build a tower, would not first sit down and work out the cost to see if he had enough to complete it? Otherwise, if he laid the foundation and then found himself unable to finish the work, the onlookers would all start making fun of him and saying, “Here is a man who started to build and was unable to finish.” Or again, what king marching to war against another king would not first sit down and consider whether with ten thousand men he could stand up to the other who advanced against him with twenty thousand? If not, then while the other king was still a long way off, he would send envoys to sue for peace. So in the same way, none of you can be my disciple unless he gives up all his possessions.’

sun23c

Reflection

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

Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown, will you let my name be known,
will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?

Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name?
Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same?
Will you risk the hostile stare should your life attract or scare,
will you let me answer prayer in you and you in me?

Will you let the blinded see if I but call your name?
Will you set the pris’ners free and never be the same?
Will you kiss the leper clean and do such as this unseen,
and admit to what I mean in you and you in me?

Will you love the ‘you’ you hide if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you’ve found to reshape the world around,
through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?

Lord, your summons echoes true when you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you and never be the same.
In your company I’ll go where your love and footsteps show.
Thus I’ll move and live and grow in you and you in me.

John L Bell & Graham Maude (c) 1987 WGRG, Iona Community.
Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. One License #A-632722.

SYNOD REFLECTIONS

pope-1

Last Monday, 2 September, Pope Francis spoke some wise words to the Bishops of the Synod of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church:

“But you underscored something we must not lose: Synod and Synodality, and Holy Spirit. It’s not to advertise but, in the last issue of the “Osservatore Romano,” dated Sunday, but which came out on Saturday, there is a beautiful article on the presence of the Holy Spirit in the synodal journey. Because there is a danger: to believe, today, that to undertake a synodal journey or to have an attitude of synodality, means to carry out a survey of opinions, what does this one think, that one, that other one… and then hold a meeting, and come to an agreement… No, the Synod isn’t a Parliament! Things must be said, discussed as is normally done, but it isn’t a Parliament. Synod is not a coming to an agreement as in politics: I give you this and you give me that. No. Synod is not to undertake a sociological survey, as some believe: Let’s see, let’s ask a group of laypeople to do a survey, to see if we should change this or that or the other… You must certainly know what your laypeople think, but it’s not a survey; it’s something else.

“If the Holy Spirit isn’t there, there is no Synod. If the Holy Spirit isn’t present, there is no Synodality. In fact, if the Church isn’t there, the identity of the Church… And, what is the identity of the Church? Saint Paul VI said it clearly: the vocation of the Church is to evangelize; in fact, her identity is to evangelize.

“Enter this Synod of yours with this spirit, with the Holy Spirit. Pray to the Spirit. Argue among yourselves, as much as you want… Think of Ephesus, how they argued! But they were good… And, in the end, it was the Spirit that made them say: Mary, Mother of God. This is in fact the way. It’s the Spirit, because we don’t want to become a congregational Church but, rather, a Synodal Church. And go on this way.”

Translation by Zenit


22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)

Gospel  (Luke 14: 1, 7-14)

On a sabbath day Jesus had gone for a meal to the house of one of the leading Pharisees; and they watched him closely. He then told the guests a parable, because he had noticed how they picked the places of honour. He said this, ‘When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take your seat in the place of honour. A more distinguished person than you may have been invited, and the person who invited you both may come and say, “Give up your place to this man.” And then, to your embarrassment, you would have to go and take the lowest place. No; when you are a guest, make your way to the lowest place and sit there, so that, when your host comes, he may say, “My friend, move up higher.” In that way, everyone with you at the table will see you honoured. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the man who humbles himself will be exalted.’

sun22cii

Then he said to his host, ‘When you give a lunch or a dinner, do not ask your friends, brothers, relations or rich neighbours, for fear they repay your courtesy by inviting you in return. No; when you have a party, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; that they cannot pay you back means that you are fortunate, because repayment will be made to you when the virtuous rise again.’

Reflection

With all the alarming news of violence across the world and in our country, together with the complex issues of Brexit, people often ask me:  “How do you remain hopeful?”  I look at all the goodness I see in the parish.  I see people welcoming strangers who’ve come to church for the first time, I see parishioners asking after others – especially those in hospital and those they may not have seen for a few weeks, I see lots of people coming to church for Mass and during the week to pray when the church is open despite all the appalling scandals of abuse and poor leadership in the Church, I see people offering to help others – especially those in our community who are in need or who are living in poverty, and so on.  There is so much goodness going on in our parishes.  It may never make the news, but it’s going on.  That gives me great hope.

If everyone in our world took to heart today’s Gospel, we would all live in peace and hope.  But for this to happen, it has to begin with me, with us.  We make a difference in our own little corners of the world.  Never forget that!

Fr Dave

sun22c

Prayer

Not for a place of honour
did your Son come among us, O God,
but to invite the poor,
the disadvantaged and the sinful.
Let such humility grace our table,
and lead us to renounce the quest for power and privilege.
Through Christ our Lord.

SYNOD REFLECTION

synod

The Church as a field hospital – a place of healing and mercy

There was a lawyer who, to disconcert Jesus, stood up and said to him, ‘Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the Law? What do you read there?’ He replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself’. ‘You have answered right,’ said Jesus ‘do this and life is yours.’ But the man was anxious to justify himself and said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was once on his way down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of brigands; they took all he had, beat him and then made off, leaving him half dead. Now a priest happened to be travelling down the same road, but when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. In the same way a Levite who came to the place saw him, and passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan traveller who came upon him was moved with compassion when he saw him. He went up and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. He then lifted him on to his own mount, carried him to the inn and looked after him. Next day, he took out two denarii and handed them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,” he said “and on my way back I will make good any extra expense you have.” Which of these three, do you think, proved himself a neighbour to the man who fell into the brigands’ hands?’ ‘The one who took pity on him’ he replied. Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do the same yourself’ (cf. Luke 10: 25-37).

Reflection

“The thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the Church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds … And you have to start from the ground up.”  (Pope Francis, Interview with Antonio Spadaro SJ, August 2013)

Question to Ponder

Pope Francis dreams of a Church that is like a field hospital after battle.  What kind of Church do you dream of?

Concluding Prayer

God of mercy and compassion,
you draw near to us in Jesus, your Son,
lifting us out of death,
binding up our wounds,
and nursing our spirits back to health.
May your tenderness compel us to go and do likewise.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

 


21st Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)

GOSPEL  (Luke 13: 22-30)

Through towns and villages Jesus went teaching, making his way to Jerusalem. Someone said to him, ‘Sir, will there be only a few saved?’ He said to them, ‘Try your best to enter by the narrow door, because, I tell you, many will try to enter and will not succeed.

‘Once the master of the house has got up and locked the door, you may find yourself knocking on the door, saying, “Lord, open to us” but he will answer, “I do not know where you come from.” Then you will find yourself saying, “We once ate and drank in your company; you taught in our streets” but he will reply, “I do not know where you come from. Away from me, all you wicked men!”

‘Then there will be weeping and grinding of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves turned outside. And men from east and west, from north and south, will come to take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.

‘Yes, there are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last.’

sun21c

Reflection

Fr Anthony Kadavil notes that most cities of the ancient world were surrounded by walls that had large gates in them.  Jerusalem had about twelve gates.   People moved through these gates to do their business, to shop and to visit their friends.   However, the gates were closed at night in case the city came under attack by an invader.   There were also smaller gates through which individual citizens could be allowed into the city by the guards without exposing the city to danger.  These smaller, or narrower gates were what Jesus was talking about.  They were like turnstiles – only one person at a time could enter through them.

It’s not good enough to simply say we’re Christians, we have to be Christians in the way we live and love each day.

How do we do this?

Pope Francis tells us that we need to ‘encounter’ Jesus.  In other words, we need to get to know Jesus.  We can do this through prayer, by reading the Scriptures, and by ‘encountering’ other Christians who are trying to follow him.

As we ‘encounter’ Jesus, we learn about his way of living and loving.  We try to put his way into practice in our daily lives – with our families, our friends, at school or work, and so on.  We soon find that Christ’s way is not always easy – it can go against our natural reactions, other people’s expectations, our own desires and wants – in short, it can cost us!  This is part of the learning to be a follower of Jesus, a disciple, a Christian.

Fortunately, Jesus is infinitely patient.  He never gives up on us.  When we mess up, he comes to us with mercy and healing.  When we feel like giving up, he comes to encourage us and build us up.

I think this is entering by the ‘narrow door’ which Jesus talks about in today’s Gospel.  It’s messy!  In the words of the great author and psychiatrist, Michael Scott Peck, it is ‘The Road Less Travelled’.

Fr Dave

SYNOD 2020 REFLECTION

synod

Our God comes close to us

Jesus went to his hometown and his disciples followed him. On the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary…” And they took offence at him (cf. Mark 6: 1-3).

Reflection

It can be hard to believe that God comes close to us.  Those in the synagogue could not believe it.

Questions to Ponder

How can God be speaking to me through someone I have known in my local community?
Do I have a fixed view about where God is to be found in my life?
How can I be more open to his presence?

(From Sacred Space © 2010 Irish Province of the Society of Jesus)

Concluding Prayer

Forgive me, Lord, for the times I have not listened
to people who speak words I do not wish to hear.
Forgive me, Lord, for the times I have judged others
by their outward appearance.
Help me, Lord, to let go of my fixed views
and to find you in the presence of those
who walk along beside me, today and every day.
Amen.

ST BENEDICT’S CATHOLIC PRIMARY SCHOOL

logo3

Following a Religious Education Inspection last term, we learnt that “St Benedict’s Catholic Primary School is an outstanding school in providing Catholic Education”.  The full report can be found at the back of St Benedict’s Church.  Below are some more excerpts from the report.

“The school is a bright, inviting and colourful environment which reflects its mission throughout. The world view display celebrates the commitment the school has to culture and diversity. There are dedicated prayer spaces throughout the school.  An aesthetically pleasing hall with coloured glass and Stations of the Cross is an inviting environment for worship. Classroom displays reflect the worth given to children’s work and are used well.”

“The school is a supportive and joyful community. A staff member expressed, ‘Our ethos is special and permeates all elements of school life. I am proud to be part of the St. Benedict’s family and very grateful that this is where I get to work every day’.”

“Staff promote high standards of behaviour and are outstanding role models of mutual respect and forgiveness for pupils. There is a commitment to Catholic Social Teaching, caring for their common home and the dignity of every human person.”

“The headteacher, senior leaders and governors are deeply committed to the Church’s mission in education. They are role models of Catholic leadership. They are energised by the task and are a source of inspiration for the whole community.”

“The quality of teaching, learning and assessment in Religious Education is outstanding.”

More next week


20th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)

Gospel  (Luke 12: 49-53)

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already! There is a baptism I must still receive, and how great is my distress till it is over!

‘Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on a household of five will be divided: three against two and two against three; the father divided against the son, son against father, mother against daughter, daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’

sun20c
Thought

In today’s Gospel, Jesus warns us that following him can bring us into conflict with others, even with our families and friends.

The First Reading gives us an example.  People didn’t want to hear what God was saying to them through the prophet Jeremiah, so they threw Jeremiah into a well to shut him up.

We might be ridiculed at work if we refuse to go along with something (e.g. a policy, a social situation or office banter) because we know it is not the Christian way to behave.  Young people can be bullied or ridiculed by their Catholic peers for going to Mass on Sunday!

The Second Reading encourages to keep our eyes on Jesus and reminds us that the angels and saints are all around us, encouraging us, protecting us and cheering us on.

Fr Dave

SYNOD 2020 – PARISH LISTENING

disbo15wsaatcou

During May and June, there were about twenty listening sessions in the parish – either in parish groups, school or after Masses.  Below is some feedback from the listening sessions.  The feedback is based on a selection of responses and divided into three categories based on the number of times issues were raised.

CATEGORY A  

In every session, three issues came up time and time again:

1)  The need for the Church to seriously consider ordaining women to the priesthood (a few responses mentioned women deacons as well).
2)  The need for the Church to allow married priests (not just those who’ve come from the Church of England).
3)  The need to engage young people, particularly those in the 18-40 age group.

These three issues came up more than any other.

CATEGORY B

In second place, as it were, parishioners raised the following issues:

1)  The need for the Church to reach out and be more accepting of all people, especially those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning.
2)  The need for the Church to take ecumenism seriously.
3)  The role of women in the Church.

CATEGORY C

In third place, the following issues were raised:

1) Same-sex marriage.
2) Climate change.
3) Transparency and accountability over allegations of child abuse.
4) Valuing our Catholic Schools.

There were plenty of other issues too, including the role of lay people in the Church, reaching out to those who are divorced, mental health, evangelisation, becoming a poor Church for the poor, the need for more priests, supporting family life, and so on.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the listening sessions.  All this data has been received by the Synod Working Party together with a further 20,000 responses from across the Archdiocese.  In the autumn, the key themes that have emerged from all this listening will be presented to us on Synod Sunday in October for the next stage of our Synod journey.

Fr Dave

ST BENEDICT’S CATHOLIC PRIMARY SCHOOL

On 19 June, St Benedict’s Catholic Primary School underwent a Religious Education Inspection under Section 48 of the Education Acts 2005 and 2011.  At the end of term, we learnt that “St Benedict’s Catholic Primary School is an outstanding school in providing Catholic Education”.  The full report can be found at the back of St Benedict’s Church.  Below are some excerpts from the report.

“Children are polite and courteous; their behaviour is exemplary. In proportion to their years they show an ability to listen, to give thanks, to forgive and be forgiven. They are also quick to congratulate and celebrate each other’s achievements.”

“Pupils value and respect the Catholic tradition of the school, its links with the parish community and the Archdiocese… The parish priest expressed on the day of inspection, ‘Children at St. Benedict’s live and breathe the Catholic faith, they know it and celebrate it’.”

“Pupils understand what it means to have a vocation and joyfully offer their gifts in the service of others. Children actively seek ways to fundraise for many national charities but also know the needs of their own community.”

“Pupils enjoy learning about other faiths and religions. They are encouraged to promote acceptance and tolerance within their school community.”

More next week


19th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)

Gospel  (Luke 12: 32-48)

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘There is no need to be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom.

‘Sell your possessions and give alms. Get yourselves purses that do not wear out, treasure that will not fail you, in heaven where no thief can reach it and no moth destroy it. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

‘See that you are dressed for action and have your lamps lit. Be like men waiting for their master to return from the wedding feast, ready to open the door as soon as he comes and knocks. Happy those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. I tell you solemnly, he will put on an apron, sit them down at table and wait on them. It may be in the second watch he comes, or in the third, but happy those servants if he finds them ready. You may be quite sure of this, that if the householder had known at what hour the burglar would come, he would not have let anyone break through the wall of his house. You too must stand ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.’

Peter said, ‘Lord, do you mean this parable for us, or for everyone?’ The Lord replied, ‘What sort of steward, then, is faithful and wise enough for the master to place him over his household to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? Happy that servant if his master’s arrival finds him at this employment. I tell you truly, he will place him over everything he owns. But as for the servant who says to himself, “My master is taking his time coming,” and sets about beating the menservants and the maids, and eating and drinking and getting drunk, his master will come on a day he does not expect and at an hour he does not know. The master will cut him off and send him to the same fate as the unfaithful.

The servant who knows what his master wants, but has not even started to carry out those wishes, will receive very many strokes of the lash. The one who did not know, but deserves to be beaten for what he has done, will receive fewer strokes. When a man has had a great deal given him, a great deal will be demanded of him; when a man has had a great deal given him on trust, even more will be expected of him.’

sun19c

Reflection

What sort of a day have I had … or what is my day going to be like?
I spend time focusing on this,
and ask the Lord to be with me as I remember or look forward.
I try to leave all preoccupations behind,
focusing only on this time spent with the Lord.

When I have reached some inner quiet, I read the text above.
I stop when a phrase strikes me.
What does it mean to me? Why would someone do that?
It may help if I can imagine myself as one of the disciples Jesus is addressing,
or as one of the characters: the servants, the master, the householder.
I might move from one to another. What new perspectives come to the fore?

Jesus is encouraging his disciples to be ready
and vigilant for the coming of the Son of Man.
I look to my own life. In what ways does this apply to me?
How will I respond when the Master knocks at my door?
Am I so protective of my own property that I forget to trust,
and see the good in other people’s actions?

I turn to the Lord and tell him how I feel at the end of my prayer.
I ask him for the help and support I need just now.

In gratitude, I say: Glory be to the Father…

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

SYNOD 2020 – NEXT STEPS

becoming

On 30 June, the online Synod Survey closed. Up to that point, 1,300 people had filled in the Synod questions online.

On 16 July, the parish listening sheets all had to be sent to the Synod Office.  It is difficult to say how many people the response represented, but a cautious estimate is that over 20,000 people have taken part.  In addition, the youth survey added another 570 responses.

What happens with all this listening?

Hope University (under the guidance of Father Peter McGrail, director of the Hope Institute of Pastoral Theology) has been analysing all the data so that it can be taken to the Synod Working Party to discern the next steps on our Synod Journey.

Who are the Synod Working Party?

The Synod moderators (Father Philip Inch, Father Matthew Nunes), Mrs Maureen Knight (Pastoral Formation), Mrs Debbie Reynolds (Pastoral Worker), Sr Rachel Duffy FCJ, Miss Kate Wilkinson (School Chaplain), Fr Mark Beattie, Fr Stephen Pritchard and Fr Dominic Curran.

What will they do?

From 15–17 August, the Synod Working Party will gather under the guidance of Fr Eamonn Fitzgibbon and Dr Jessie Rogers (from Limerick Diocese).  They will lead a three-day process of discernment and prayer.  Fr Peter McGrail will present all the data from the listening that has taken place and, after a time of discernment, we hope that a number of themes will emerge which indicate the way forward for us on our Synod journey.

Then what?

The themes will be presented to Synod members at the September Synod gatherings in Wigan (21 & 25 September).  They will also be presented to the Archdiocese on Synod Sunday in October, and then each theme will be explored, discussed, examined and prayed about.  Synod members will then be invited to listen to the people of the Archdiocese and with them discern which proposals should be put forward based on each theme.

What can I do?

Pope Francis continually reminds us that the work of synodality is the work of the Holy Spirit and, that if we listen and discern, then the voice of God will be heard.  At the opening of Synod 2020 in February 2019, Archbishop Malcolm said:  ‘In October 2018 we celebrated the first Synod Sunday. In my Pastoral Letter that day I focused on the need to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to us through the life and experience of all the priests, deacons, religious and people of our Archdiocese.  It is our duty to discern carefully together what the Spirit is saying to the Church in the Archdiocese and agree on common directions and actions for the future.’

So prayer is vitally important at this time in our Synod journey, especially on 15, 16 and 17 August.  Archbishop Malcolm’s words last February can be at the heart of our praying:  ‘In convoking the Synod I am calling us to be bold and creative in the task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelisation in our Archdiocesan community with its various parish and ecclesial, religious and social communities.’

Thank you for all that has taken place, and please pray as we move to the next steps of Synod 2020.

Synod Prayer

Father, we thank you
for the love you have shown us
in the gift of Jesus, your Son.
We thank you for the gift of the Church,
through which you show us
that you are always with us
and are always at work in our lives.

As we journey together to Synod 2020,
help us to become the Church that you are calling us to be.
May your Holy Spirit be powerfully
at work among us.
Strengthen each of us and guide Francis, our Pope
and Malcolm, our Archbishop.

Help us to respond
to the challenges of our times in new ways
to bring your love to all our sisters and brothers.
We make this prayer
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.


Looking for more blog posts? Use the archive section at the top of the page.