Fr Dave's Blog

2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)

Gospel  (John 2: 1-11)

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. The mother of Jesus was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited. When they ran out of wine, since the wine provided for the wedding was all finished, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ Jesus said ‘Woman, why turn to me? My hour has not come yet.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ There were six stone water jars standing there, meant for the ablutions that are customary among the Jews: each could hold twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’, and they filled them to the brim. ‘Draw some out now’ he told them ‘and take it to the steward.’ They did this; the steward tasted the water, and it had turned into wine. Having no idea where it came from – only the servants who had drawn the water knew – the steward called the bridegroom and said, ‘People generally serve the best wine first, and keep the cheaper sort till the guests have had plenty to drink; but you have kept the best wine till now.’

This was the first of the signs given by Jesus: it was given at Cana in Galilee. He let his glory be seen, and his disciples believed in him.

sun-2c

Reflection

“Mary, at the very moment she perceives that there is no wine, approaches Jesus with confidence: this means that Mary prays. She goes to Jesus, she prays. She does not go to the steward, she immediately tells her Son of the newlyweds’ problem. The response she receives seems disheartening: “What does it have to do with you and me? My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4). But she nonetheless places the problem in God’s hands. Her deep concern to meet the needs of others hastens Jesus’ hour.

“And Mary was a part of that hour, from the cradle to the cross. She was able “to turn a stable into a home for Jesus, with poor swaddling clothes and an abundance of love” (Evangelii Gaudium, 286). She accepted us as her sons and daughters when the sword pierced her heart. She teaches us to put our families in God’s hands; she teaches us to pray, to kindle the hope, which shows us that our concerns are also God’s concerns.”

(Pope Francis, Homily in Ecuador on 6 July 2015)

A Prayer for the UK

“In this time of turmoil…

We pray for the Prime Minister and Party Leaders
as they negotiate the political future of our nation:
Father, give them your wisdom and vision.

We pray for all in Parliament as they represent their communities:
Jesus, give them your humility and strength.

We pray for the media as they interpret events for the nation:
Holy Spirit, give them your truth and compassion.

We pray for ourselves as we show your love to our neighbours:
May we speak hope, embody courage and model unity in diversity.

Almighty God, we place our trust in you:
For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory,
now and forever, Amen.”

(By Carla Harding, National Director for 24-7 Prayer Great Britain)

unity

Prayer for Peace Sunday and Christian Unity

R.  Help us to sow the seeds of peace and justice.

In a world crying out for love but still filled with too much hatred and violence. R.
In a country that speaks of equality but often fails to live up to that promise. R.
In our communities in which some people are considered worth less than others. R.
In our churches where we often neglect Jesus’ teaching of compassion. R.
In our families when words or deeds hurt each other. R.
In ourselves, when we are tempted by the world to desire more and to neglect what really matters. R.

(From ‘The Way of Peace: Exploring Nonviolence for the 21st Century’, Pax Christi USA)


The Baptism of the Lord (C)

Gospel  (Luke 3: 15-16, 21-22)

A feeling of expectancy had grown among the people, who were beginning to think that John might be the Christ, so John declared before them all, ‘I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Now when all the people had been baptised and while Jesus after his own baptism was at prayer, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily shape, like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.’

baptism-of-jesus

Prayer & Reflection

On Christmas night, angels proclaimed to the shepherds of Bethlehem that a Saviour had been born.

Last Sunday, on the Solemnity of the Epiphany, some wise men recognised the new-born king as the Son of God.

Today, on this last day of Christmas, God himself proclaims that Jesus is his Son as he is baptised in the River Jordan.

During Mass this weekend, we will renew our Baptismal Promises as a way of making a new start as Christians at the beginning of a new year:

Do you believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth?
I do.

Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered death and was buried,
rose again from the dead
and is seated at the right hand of the Father?
I do.

Do you believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting?
I do.

Scripture Passage from ‘The Jerusalem Bible’ © 1966 by Darton Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd.  Excerpts from ‘The Roman Missal’ (c) 2010 International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.


The Epiphany of the Lord

Christian Christmas scene with the three wise men

Gospel  (Matthew 2: 1-12)

After Jesus had been born at Bethlehem in Judaea during the reign of King Herod, some wise men came to Jerusalem from the east. ‘Where is the infant king of the Jews?’ they asked. ‘We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage.’ When King Herod heard this he was perturbed, and so was the whole of Jerusalem. He called together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, and enquired of them where the Christ was to be born. ‘At Bethlehem in Judaea,’ they told him ‘for this is what the prophet wrote:

And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
you are by no means least among the leaders of Judah,
for out of you will come a leader
who will shepherd my people Israel.’

Then Herod summoned the wise men to see him privately. He asked them the exact date on which the star had appeared, and sent them on to Bethlehem. ‘Go and find out all about the child,’ he said ‘and when you have found him, let me know, so that I too may go and do him homage.’ Having listened to what the king had to say, they set out. And there in front of them was the star they had seen rising; it went forward, and halted over the place where the child was. The sight of the star filled them with delight, and going into the house they saw the child with his mother Mary, and falling to their knees they did him homage. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. But they were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, and returned to their own country by a different way.

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Blessing of Homes

The Blessing of Homes is a time-honoured custom on the Feast of the Epiphany. It reminds us that Christ is with us in the love and care we show one another in our ordinary, everyday lives together. Why not have a little celebration at home today? One custom is to trace the Cross, the initials “CMB”, and the numerals of the year on the doorway of your house (either using chalk, holy water or simply with your finger), and then share your usual Sunday meal together. “CMB” stands for “Christus mansionem benedicat” – “May Christ bless this house!”

20 + C + M + B + 19

 

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SETTLEMENT SCHEME FOR EU CITIZENS

Bishop Paul McAleenan, the lead Catholic Bishop for Migration and Asylum, has issued a statement on the Government’s forthcoming Settlement Scheme for EU citizens living in the UK. Any EU citizen who wants to remain in the UK after Brexit (with the exception of Irish citizens) will have to apply through the scheme, which is expected to launch in March 2019.

The Catholic Church in England and Wales stands in solidarity with all EU citizens who have made their home here. As the majority are themselves Catholic this is a special pastoral concern for us.

The Church has experienced first-hand the extensive contribution that people from across Europe have made to our society. They are an integral and valued part of our parishes, schools and communities. We also recognise the evidence that immigration from Europe has not undermined opportunities for UK citizens, but rather brought considerable economic and social benefits.

It is clear that since the 2016 referendum many people living here have faced profound uncertainty and insecurity about their future. Although the reassurances offered by senior politicians are important, people have been given far too little information or binding commitments about their right to stay. For some this has been worsened by the appalling rise in hate crime, which has left them feeling unwelcome or even threatened in the country that has become their home.

The government will soon launch a Settlement Scheme, offering EU citizens living here a legal route to remain. While this is an important step we understand that, especially for people who have contributed to our society over many years, it may feel unjust and divisive that they are now required to apply for permission to stay. We also expect that some people, particularly those who are already vulnerable, may face difficulties in practically accessing the scheme, leaving their immigration status at risk.

We strongly oppose the decision to charge people for securing the rights they already have. This is not only unprincipled but will also create a barrier for larger families or people facing financial difficulties.

The Bishops’ Conference has made representations on these issues to ministers and through the Home Office working groups set up to discuss the Settlement Scheme. We will continue to do so as it is implemented.

Notwithstanding our concerns about these principles and practicalities, it remains a fact that EU citizens must apply if they are to protect their existing rights and their place in our society. We therefore ask Catholic parishes, schools and organisations to bring the Settlement Scheme to the attention of all who need to avail of it and to be aware of vulnerable people who may face barriers to applying or not realise that they need to apply.

In particular we encourage you to signpost people towards the official information on the Settlement Scheme: www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families And to make use of the various information resources available: www.gov.uk/government/publications/eu-settlement-scheme-community-leaders-toolkit

Finally, we urge the whole Catholic community to take up Pope Francis’ call to welcome, protect, promote and help to integrate everyone who has made their home here – with particular concern at present for our European brothers and sisters.


Feast of the Holy Family (C)

Gospel  (Luke 2: 41-52)

Every year the parents of Jesus used to go to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up for the feast as usual. When they were on their way home after the feast, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem without his parents knowing it. They assumed he was with the caravan, and it was only after a day’s journey that they went to look for him among their relations and acquaintances. When they failed to find him they went back to Jerusalem looking for him everywhere.

Three days later, they found him in the Temple, sitting among the doctors, listening to them, and asking them questions; and all those who heard him were astounded at his intelligence and his replies. They were overcome when they saw him, and his mother said to him, ‘My child, why have, you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you.’  ‘Why were you looking for me?’ he replied. ‘Did you not know that I must be busy with my Father’s affairs?’ But they did not understand what he meant.

He then went down with them and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority.  His mother stored up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and men.

Thought

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

What do you notice?

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

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

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

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

Fr Dave

Prayer

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

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

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

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

Prayer for the People of Indonesia

O God,
hold those who are hurting,
comfort those who are in mourning,
calm those who are panicking,
surround with safety those who are traumatised,
shelter those who are homeless,
be a beacon of wisdom and guidance
for those directing rescue operations.

As you entered into the blood, sweat and tears of life,
help us to enter into lament, love and solidarity
with our sisters and brothers in Indonesia,
standing together with those you love
in their time of deepest need.
May they know they are not alone.
In Jesus name, Amen.

(c) Christian Aid


Christmas Week

SOLEMNITY OF THE NATIVITY OF THE LORD

sand-nativity

Part of this year’s Nativity Scene in St Peter’s Square
which is made out of 720 tons of sand
by American artist, Rich Varano.

A very happy and peaceful Christmas to you all

Nollaig Shona Dhuit

Feliz Natal

楽しいクリスマスをお過ごしください

Froehliche Weihnachten

Joyeux Noël

Feliz Navidad

愉快的圣诞节

Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia…

Scripture Reading  (Luke 2: 1-14)

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

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

Thought

Pope Francis:  “Take some time to do this:  Go to the Nativity scene and be silent.  And you will feel, you will see the surprise” (General Audience on 19 December).

Prayer

On Saturday, huge waves crashed without warning into coastal towns on the Indonesia islands of Sumatra and Java.  At least 1,016 people were injured and more than 600 homes, 60 shops and 420 vessels were damaged when the tsunami struck.  At the time of writing, the death toll has reached 281.  Let us pray for all those affected by the tsunami.

CHRISTMAS EVE

shepherds

Matthew 1: 18-25

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

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son
and they will call him Emmanuel,

a name which means ‘God-is-with-us.’ When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home and, though he had not had intercourse with her, she gave birth to a son; and he named him Jesus.

Prayer

God of Abraham and Sarah,
of David and his descendants,
unwearied is your love for us
and steadfast your covenant;
wonderful beyond words
is your gift of the Saviour,
born of the Virgin Mary.

Count us among the people in whom you delight,
and by this night’s marriage of earth and heaven
draw all generations into the embrace of your love.

We ask this through Jesus Christ, your Word made flesh,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
in the splendour of eternal light,
God for ever and ever.

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

4th SUNDAY OF ADVENT (C)

It’s the last Sunday of our preparation for the great feast of Christmas.  The person put before us today is Mary.  It’s Mary’s Sunday in the year and the Gospel tells us of her visit to Elizabeth.

Gospel  (Luke 1: 39-44)

Mary set out and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’

visitation

Thought

In all the busyness of these days, we’re in danger of missing what’s important.  So let’s take a moment today to be quiet – either to simply rest in the presence of the Lord, or to ponder the feast we’re about to celebrate.  How do we want to celebrate it?

Prayer

The Collect at Mass today is this beautiful prayer from ‘The Angelus’:

Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord,
your grace into our hearts,
that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son
was made known by the message of an Angel,
may by his Passion and Cross
be brought to the glory of his Resurrection.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Final Preparations

On Thursday, a few of the children from St Benedict’s Catholic Primary School helped to assemble the Crib together with one of my cats, Blaise, pictured here trying to escape my embrace so that she can make her mark in the straw!

image2

Thanks to Mr Anderson, Headteacher of St Benedict’s, for the photograph.

Scripture Passage from ‘The Jerusalem Bible’ © 1966 by Darton Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd. Prayer (c) 2010 International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.

 


Third Week of Advent

Advent Weekday – 22 December

advent-come-lord-jesus-300x72

News items you may not have seen:

1) More than 90,000 police, soldiers and a moderate Muslim youth group will help guard nearly 50,000 churches across Indonesia, including some previously attacked by terrorists, during the Christmas period.  Wow!  Thank you.

2) In his annual address to the Roman Curia yesterday, Pope Francis thanked the media for highlighting the scourge of abuse in the Church and instructed those guilty of abuse in the Church to hand themselves over to the civil authorities.

3) Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton:  it is deeply concerning that during the Christmas period Israeli lawmakers are moving to advance the so-called “Tenants’ Rights Law”, which will have serious consequences for the Christian community in the Holy Land.  Let us continue to pray for our sisters and brothers in the Holy Land.

Advent Weekday – 21 December

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Today, an Advent Carol for the second part of Advent.  Click on the link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-C9QL3b8N1o

Come, Thou Redeemer of the earth,
And manifest Thy virgin birth:
Let every age adoring fall;
Such birth befits the God of all.

Begotten of no human will,
But of the Spirit, Thou art still
The Word of God in flesh arrayed,
The promised Fruit to man displayed.

Forth from His chamber goeth He,
That royal home of purity,
A giant in twofold substance one,
Rejoicing now His course to run.

From God the Father He proceeds,
To God the Father back He speeds;
His course He runs to death and hell,
Returning on God’s throne to dwell.

Thy cradle here shall glitter bright,
And darkness breathe a newer light,
Where endless faith shall shine serene,
And twilight never intervene.

All laud to God the Father be,
All praise, eternal Son, to Thee;
All glory, as is ever meet,
To God the Holy Paraclete.

St Ambrose of Milan (c 397)

Advent Weekday – 20 December

Today, the liturgy gives us the beautiful account of the Annunciation to Mary.

annunciation-to-mary

Luke 1: 26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.’ ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.

Advent Weekday – 19 December

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A thought from Pope Francis to ponder:  “For me Christmas has always been about this: contemplating the visit of God to his people.”

Advent Weekday – 18 December

Yesterday, the focus of Advent changed. So far we’ve been looking forward to the time when Christ will come again at the end of time. Now, for the next eight days, we prepare for the great feast of Christmas by looking back to the events that led to the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem all those years ago.

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Matthew 1: 18-24

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

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

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

Advent Weekday – 17 December

Happy Birthday, Pope Francis!

pope-birthday

Photograph (c) Vatican Media

Today, Pope Francis is 82.  Yesterday, children from the Vatican’s free-of-charge paediatric clinic surprised him with a cake.  The message on the cake must have brought a smile to his face:  “We cannot become accustomed to the situations of degradation and misery around us. A Christian must react.”

Pope Francis joked with the children, saying he hoped “such a big cake doesn’t give indigestion!”  He went on to say that children are good at teaching grown-ups to be humble, to better understand life and people.  “The proud, the arrogant, can’t understand life because they’re incapable of lowering themselves.”

Today, perhaps ponder those words on the birthday cake:  “We cannot become accustomed to the situations of degradation and misery around us. A Christian must react.”

Third Sunday of Advent (C)

gaudete

This Sunday is known as ‘Gaudete’ Sunday.  ‘Gaudete’ is the Latin word for ‘Rejoice’ which is the first word of today’s Entrance Antiphon:  “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near” (Phil 4: 4-5).  We rejoice because the Lord is very near.

Today’s Entrance Antiphon comes from today’s Second Reading, although the translation we use has the word ‘happy’ instead.

Philippians 4: 4-7

I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness. Let your tolerance be evident to everyone: the Lord is very near.

There is no need to worry; but if there is anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving, and that peace of God, which is so much greater than we can understand, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus.

Thought

St Paul tells us that he wants us to ‘rejoice’ or ‘be happy’.  That’s want God wants for us too!   God wants us to be happy!

St Paul tells us how we can be happy, especially at this time of year.  First, he tells us to be tolerant – to be people who are patient and kind.  That’s not easy when we’re tired and perhaps feeling a little stressed.

Then he tells us not to worry, rather bring our worries to the Lord and we will find peace for our hearts and minds.

There’s enough there to keep us busy this week!

Fr Dave

Prayer

God of power and mercy,
open our hearts in welcome.
Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy,
so that we may share his wisdom
and become one with him when he comes in glory,
for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

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

   


Second Week of Advent

Second Saturday of Advent

tmerton

Last Monday, 10 December, was the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk, who wrote over seventy books on spirituality, social justice and quiet pacifism.  Here is one of his prayers:

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always,
though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Second Friday of Advent

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Today, a beautiful Advent Carol.  Click on the link to hear it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=119C58F3dnQ

“Comfort, comfort now my people;
tell of peace!” so says our God.
Comfort those who sit in darkness
mourning under sorrow’s load.
To God’s people now proclaim
that God’s pardon waits for them!
Tell them that their war is over;
God will reign in peace forever!

For the herald’s voice is crying
in the desert far and near,
calling us to true repentance
since the Kingdom now is here.
Oh, that warning cry obey!
Now prepare for God a way!
Let the valleys rise to meet him,
and the hills bow down to greet him!

Straight shall be what long was crooked,
and the rougher places plain!
Let your hearts be true and humble,
as befits his holy reign!
For the glory of the Lord
now on earth is shed abroad,
and all flesh shall see the token
that God’s word is never broken.

(c) Johannes G Olearius & Louis Bourgeois

Second Thursday of Advent

candle

“Into this world, this demented inn, in which there is absolutely no room for him at all, Christ comes uninvited. But because he cannot be at home in it, because he is out of place in it, and yet he must be in it, his place is with those others for whom there is no room. His place is with those who do not belong, who are rejected by power because they are regarded as weak, those who are discredited, who are denied the status of persons, tortured, exterminated. With those for whom there is no room, Christ is present in this world. He is mysteriously present in those for whom there seems to be nothing but the world at its worst.”

From an essay entitled, “The Time of the End Is the Time of No Room”, by Thomas Merton in Raids on the Unspeakable, pages 51-52 .

Second Wednesday of Advent

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As we prepare for our Archdiocesan Synod in 2020, today let us pray:

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.

Blaise decided to join the Liturgy Group at their recent meeting preparing for the Synod which took place at St Benedict’s…

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So far, she’s got more likes on Synod 2020’s Instagram than anyone else!

Second Tuesday of Advent

Another beautiful passage to ponder from the Advent Scriptures today.  God consoles his people who are in exile.  The passage concludes with the image of God as “a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering lambs in his arms, holding them against his breast”.

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Isaiah 40: 1-11

‘Console my people, console them’
says your God.
‘Speak to the heart of Jerusalem
and call to her
that her time of service is ended,
that her sin is atoned for,
that she has received from the hand of the Lord
double punishment for all her crimes.’

A voice cries, ‘Prepare in the wilderness
a way for the Lord.
Make a straight highway for our God
across the desert.
Let every valley be filled in,
every mountain and hill be laid low.
Let every cliff become a plain,
and the ridges a valley;
then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed
and all mankind shall see it;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’

A voice commands, ‘Cry!’
and I answered, ‘What shall I cry?’”
– ‘All flesh is grass
and its beauty like the wild flower’s.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on them.
(The grass is without doubt the people.)
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God remains for ever.’

Go up on a high mountain,
joyful messenger to Zion.
Shout with a loud voice,
joyful messenger to Jerusalem.
Shout without fear,
say to the towns of Judah,
‘Here is your God.’

Here is the Lord coming with power,
his arm subduing all things to him.
The prize of his victory is with him,
his trophies all go before him.
He is like a shepherd feeding his flock,
gathering lambs in his arms,
holding them against his breast
and leading to their rest the mother ewes.

Second Monday of Advent

Today, let’s take a moment to thank God for the beautiful gift of creation which he has entrusted to us.

creation

Prayer

Creator God, as we prepare for the coming of your Son,
we give thanks for the gift of creation.
We give thanks for its beauty
and the joy the beauty brings us.
We give thanks for light that shines in the darkness,
for the stars and the sun,
for the air we breathe
and the plants and animals that you have created,
for earth and water,
and for the daily sustenance we draw from them.

Inspire us to see you, Creator,
through all that you have created —
all that you look upon as very good.
Help us to care for creation as you instructed us.
Help us be stewards of its abundant life.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(c) 2018 Global Catholic Climate Movement

Thought

Is there something little I could do today to show my appreciation for the gift of creation?  It might be picking up any litter I see as I go about the day, it might be taking care of a plant or tree I’ve neglected in the garden, it might be ensuring the animals in my garden or yard are safe and fed especially as the cold weather sets in, etc.

Fr Dave

Second Sunday of Advent (C)

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As we begin the second week of our preparation for the great feast of Christmas, the Scriptures introduce us to one of the great characters of Advent, John the Baptist, who came to ‘prepare a way for the Lord’.

Gospel  (Luke 3: 1-6)

In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar’s reign, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judaea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of the lands of Ituraea and Trachonitis, Lysanias tetrach of Abilene, during the pontificate of Annas and Caiaphas the word of God came to John son of Zechariah, in the wilderness. He went through the whole Jordan district proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the sayings of the prophet Isaiah:

A voice cries in the wilderness:
Prepare a way for the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley will be filled in,
every mountain and hill be laid low,
winding ways will be straightened
and rough roads made smooth.
And all mankind shall see the salvation of God.

Prayer

God of our salvation,
you straighten the winding ways of our hearts
and smooth the paths made rough by sin.
Make our conduct blameless,
keep our hearts watchful in holiness,
and bring to perfection the good you have begun in us.

We ask this through him whose coming is certain,
whose day draws near:
your Son, Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Gospel from ‘The Jerusalem Bible’ © 1966 by Darton Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd. Prayer (c) 1997 International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.


First Week of Advent

First Saturday of Advent

Today is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.  We celebrate the conception of Mary, but the Gospel is the account of the conception of Jesus.  This is not an accident.  As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, today’s solemnity invites us to ponder Mary’s role in the story of our salvation.

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Gospel  (Luke 1: 26-38)

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.’ ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.

First Friday of Advent

A Prayer before sending Christmas Cards

post-box

Blest are you, Lord, our God and Father.
You have graced our lives with friends and relatives near and far.
May these Christmas cards arrive at their destinations
as signs of affection and as tokens of peace.
Send your Son to reign in glory among us.
He will lead us all to glad reunion in your holy city,
where we will sing your praise for ever and ever.
Amen.

First Thursday of Advent

oscar-romero

No one can celebrate a genuine Christmas
without being truly poor…

The self-sufficient, the proud,
those who, because they have everything,
look down on others,
those who have no need even of God
—for them there will be no Christmas…

Only the poor, the hungry,
those who need someone to come on their behalf,
only they will have that someone…

That someone is God.
Emmanuel.
God-with-us…

Without poverty of spirit
there can be no abundance of God….

St Oscar Romero

First Wednesday of Advent

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As we prepare for our Archdiocesan Synod in 2020, today let us pray:

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.

 

First Tuesday of Advent

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Today’s First Reading presents some of the best loved images of Advent. The images are a sign of the kingdom of justice and peace that God’s people have longed for through the ages.

Isaiah 11: 1-10

A shoot springs from the stock of Jesse,
a scion thrusts from his roots:
on him the spirit of the Lord rests,
a spirit of wisdom and insight,
a spirit of counsel and power,
a spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.
(The fear of the Lord is his breath.)
He does not judge by appearances,
he gives no verdict on hearsay,
but judges the wretched with integrity,
and with equity gives a verdict for the poor of the land.
His word is a rod that strikes the ruthless,
his sentences bring death to the wicked.

Integrity is the loincloth round his waist,
faithfulness the belt about his hips.

The wolf lives with the lamb,
the panther lies down with the kid,
calf and lion feed together,
with a little boy to lead them.
The cow and the bear make friends,
their young lie down together.
The lion eats straw like the ox.
The infant plays over the cobra’s hole;
into the viper’s lair
the young child puts his hand.
They do no hurt, no harm,
on all my holy mountain,
for the country is filled with the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters swell the sea.
That day, the root of Jesse
shall stand as a signal to the peoples.
It will be sought out by the nations
and its home will be glorious.

First Monday of Advent

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THE ADVENT PAUSE

Our habits to consume are very strong. They are reinforced by our culture that tells us that our happiness is dependent on owning the latest gadget, product, or experience.  To break this consumerist habit, we need to become aware of this internal energy to consume, so that we don’t blindly follow it. This is a contemplative practice–to begin to see how the market and cultural forces shape our interior world.

1. Notice your internal impulse to buy more, to eat more, to do more things that are not essential. This can be owning the latest electronic gadgets and buying the trendiest clothes. It can also be over-consuming more information or social media than is necessary, eating (and often wasting) too much food, or trying to pack in too many activities. It might feel like a subtle tug or pull in the body which we are conditioned to give into. This is normal and natural, but it doesn’t mean you have to follow the tug to consume more than you need.

2. Pause and take a breath. Then find a phrase to ground you such as “Less is more”, “Jesus is the reason” or even “Do I need to get/do this?” in order to remind you of your commitment to not over-consume and to keep your eyes on Jesus.

3. Make a choice based on your commitment to live simply, in order to create space and time to focus on what is essential: God, relationships, service, and caring for our earth community.

From the Global Catholic Climate Movement


1st Sunday of Advent (C)

Blessing of the Advent Wreath

If you have an Advent Wreath at home, you might like to gather as a family, light the first candle on the wreath, and say the following prayer:

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Lord our God, we praise you for your Son, Jesus Christ;
he is Emmanuel, the hope of the peoples;
he is the wisdom that teaches and guides us;
he is the Saviour of every nation.

Lord God, let your blessing come upon us
as we light the candles of this wreath.
May the wreath and its light
be a sign of Christ’s promise to bring us salvation.
May he come quickly and not delay.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

From Catholic Household Blessings & Prayers 
(United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2008)

Gospel  (Luke 21: 25-28, 34-36)

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars; on earth nations in agony, bewildered by the clamour of the ocean and its waves; men dying of fear as they await what menaces the world, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand.

‘Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life, and that day will be sprung on you suddenly, like a trap. For it will come down on every living man on the face of the earth. Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to stand with confidence before the Son of Man.’

From ‘The Jerusalem Bible’ © 1966 by Darton Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd.

Reflection

That passage from St Luke is very dramatic.  There are two parts.  In the first part, Jesus shares a vision of the end of the world.  The second part is a response to a question: “If this is going to happen, what should we do?”

We believe the world will come to an end one day.  We don’t know when that will be, and we don’t know what it will be like.  The first Christians thought it would happen in their lifetime and every generation of Christians since has thought the same.

But Jesus has a message of hope for his faithful followers – there is no need to be afraid.  When the time comes, they will see him coming to save them. Meanwhile, we are to pray and to try to live good lives.  St Paul tells us how to do this in today’s 2nd Reading: “love one another and the whole human race”.

Fr Dave

Advent is a Season of Hope

Thanks to the Catholic News Agency for capturing this encounter of a little boy and Pope Francis:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxWXkvOCoio&feature=youtu.be

 

 

 


Solemnity of Christ the King (B)

National Youth Sunday

On this, the last Sunday of the Church’s year, we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King.  It’s also National Youth Sunday when we pray especially for our children and young people.  This year, I wanted to write to our young parishioners – particularly those who join us for Mass each week – to say ‘thank you’.  Here is the letter I have written and will share during the Homily this weekend.

Dear Young People,

On this National Youth Sunday, I want to speak to you personally.

The first thing I want to say to you is:  ‘Thank you’.  Thank you for the way you come and join us for Sunday Mass.  Whether you realise it or not, it really means a lot to the rest of us gathered here.  We know that it’s not always easy for you to come to Mass – you may find it boring sometimes and wish you were somewhere else; you may want to stay in bed on Sunday morning or go out with your friends; you may be worried about your peers making fun of you for coming to church, even calling you names.  Despite all this, you’re here.  Thank you.  Thank you for the sacrifices you make to be here.

You may come to Mass because your parents ask you to come.  It is a beautiful thing to come to Mass because someone else asks you to come with them.  It may not feel like a beautiful thing when other things tug for your attention, but putting yourself out for someone else is a beautiful thing to do.  It says a lot about the kind of person you are.

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You may come to Mass because that’s what your family does.  You may feel that it’s not a big deal.  But in today’s world it is a big deal because, as you and I know, a lot of Catholics no longer keep Sunday special or come to celebrate the eucharist as our Lord asks us to do.  You are being what Pope Francis describes as “counter cultural” – going against the tide to do something for God and his people, the Church.  In doing so, you set a good example.  You are, to quote last Sunday’s First Reading, like “bright stars” shining in a world that can be dark and hard, confusing and selfish.

Some of you have felt able to help out at Sunday Mass too, whether that’s as an altar server or reader, collector or ringing the bell, carrying the gifts of bread and wine or in other ways.  Our celebrations of Sunday Mass would be poorer without you because suddenly we would struggle to find people for all these important ministries.  And they are important.  Lots of people, young and older, work together to make the Mass happen, as it were.  So thank you for helping us to celebrate and to celebrate as best we can as a community.  When you volunteer to help, or when you respond to a plea from me, you encourage others to step forward and help as well.

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Being a teenager is not always easy.  We all know that because we’ve all been teenagers.  There’s a lot on your plate in the teenage years.  Suddenly, your hair becomes important and you have to spend a lot of time getting it right!  Friends become more important in your life.  You have to learn to balance doing what your parents ask of you and what you want to do yourself.  There are many other challenges too – how you fit in at school, discovering you have opinions that may be different to your parents’ opinions or those of your friends, the surge of new emotions and confusing moods, and of course finding time to play Fortnite!  But, jokes aside, we know the teenage years are not always easy because we’ve been there too.  And that gives us a deep respect for you because, despite all that’s going on in your lives, we see you here trying to develop a relationship with God and his people, the Church – a relationship you may find difficult to understand and may not always be particularly attractive.  So, as they say:  “Respect!”

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A few weeks ago, there was a big meeting of bishops and young people in Rome.  Pope Francis wanted to hear what young people really think about the Church.  He wanted to hear their gripes as well as their ideas.  Our Archbishop wants to do the same.  He has called a similar meeting for everyone in the Archdiocese in October 2020 called a Synod.  Part of the preparation for that big meeting is genuinely listening to each other.  It could be easy for young people to get missed out of this listening because most of us grown ups have probably got a lot to say!  But your voice is equally, if not more important to hear, not only because you will be around long after we’re gone, but also because you see things in new and different ways to us.  So I’m going to provide opportunities for us to meet in the New Year so that you can have your say.  I hope you’ll come and meet with me and our Parish Member for the Synod to share your thoughts and ideas about the Church.  This is so important if we’re going to become the Church Jesus wants us to be.  The Holy Spirit is speaking to us through you too!

Finally, thank you for being you!  In the words of St Paul, “You are God’s work of art” (cf. Ephesians 2: 10).  God loves you and will always be with you as your friend and companion.  And no matter what happens, even during those moments we all have when we mess up or make mistakes, God will always be there smiling upon you with his love and forgiveness.

May God bless you and keep you close to himself.

Fr Dave


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