Thursday, 29 May 2008

Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Tomorrow we celebrate the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Here are a few comments on the Feast and the Devotion to the Sacred Heart taken from the excellent website, 'Fisheaters'. Please click on the link if you would like to go into the subject in more detail.

The heart has always been seen as the "centre" or essence of a person and the wellspring of our emotional lives and love. Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is devotion to Jesus Christ Himself, but in the particular ways of meditating on his interior life and on His threefold love -- His divine love, His burning love that fed His human will, and His sensible love that affects His interior life.

Feast of the Sacred Heart

The Friday that follows the Second Sunday in Time After Pentecost is the Feast of the Sacred Heart which brings to mind all the attributes of His Divine Heart mentioned above. Many Catholics prepare for this Feast by beginning a Novena to the Sacred Heart on the Feast of Corpus Christi, which is the Thursday of the week before. On the Feast of the Sacred Heart itself, we can gain a plenary indulgence by making an Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

More First Holy Communions

For the second week running I celebrated an extra Mass at midday today for First Holy Communion. If you would like to see a few more photos taken of the children arriving for Mass please see the news and events page of our parish web site.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

An unexpected visitor ...

Fr Paul D'Arcy SMA popped into the parish early this week as he had come over to England to take part in Chichester parish's Golden Jubilee celebrations. It really was a flying visit and I know he was sorry not to have had time to meet more parishioners during his short visit.

It was good to have a chance to meet him properly at last after hearing so much about him from everyone in the parish. It was also interesting to chat to him about the parish and to show him any changes that have taken place since he left Banstead to go back to Ireland and and the SMA Provincialate in Cork. He was interested to take a look at the gallery as he had a lot to do with the project in the planning stages and he was very pleased with the result. He also took a look at the Garden of Remembrance, another project that was more or less completed whilst Fr Paul was parish priest.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

'Hand of Hope'

I received this by email recently and just felt that I had to share it with you all. Some of you may have seen it already. It is incredible.

A picture began circulating in November. It should be 'The Picture of the Year,' or perhaps, 'Picture of the Decade.' It won't be. In fact, unless you obtained a copy of the US paper which published it, you probably would never have seen it. The picture is that of a 21-week-old unborn baby named Samuel Alexander Armas, who is being operated on by surgeon named Joseph Bruner. The baby was diagnosed with spina bifida and would not survive if removed from his mother's womb. Little Samuel's mother, Julie Armas, is an obstetrics nurse in Atlanta She knew of Dr. Bruner's remarkable surgical procedure. Practicing at Vanderbilt University Medical Centre in Nashville, he performs these special operations while the baby is still in the womb. During the procedure, the doctor removes the uterus via C-section and makes a small incision to operate on the baby. As Dr.Bruner completed the surgery on Samuel, the little guy reached his tiny, but fully developed hand through the incision and firmly grasped the surgeon's finger.

Dr.Bruner was reported as saying that when his finger was grasped, it was the most emotional moment of his life, and that for an instant during the procedure he was just frozen, totally immobile. The photograph captures this amazing event with perfect clarity. The editors titled the picture, 'Hand of Hope.' The text explaining the picture begins, 'The tiny hand of 21-week- old foetus Samuel Alexander Armas emerges from the mother's uterus to grasp the finger of Dr. Joseph Bruner as if thanking the doctor for the gift of life.' Little Samuel's mother said they 'wept for days' when they saw the picture. She said, 'The photo reminds us pregnancy isn't about disability or an illness, it's about a little person.' Samuel was born in perfect health, the operation 100 percent successful. Now see the actual picture.

Visit by Apostolic Nuncio

I have just returned from Epsom parish where about 70 - 80 priests and deacons of our diocese together with Bishop Kieran had gathered to meet Archbishop Faustino Sainz Muñoz, Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain.

In his introduction the Archbishop described his role as Apostolic Nuncio as being, 'the mouth, eyes, ears and heart of the Holy Father'. He then went on to take questions on a variety of topics from the assembled clergy. After a very interesting and enjoyable morning we had a break for a delicious buffet lunch prepared by the ladies of Epsom parish.

A response to a question ...

St John Vianney, pray for us.

I've finally got around to answering the question posed in the comments to my posting on meetings (see below, 16th May). Here are some of my thoughts on the things that I enjoy most about being a parish priest:

The celebration of the Sacraments (no surprises there then!)

The celebration of the the Mass is at the centre of a priest's life.

The Secretary of the Congregation for Clergy says, "The priest is not an employee, but rather a consecrated person, chosen by God to serve mankind!"

Archbishop Piacenza speaking to L'Osservatore Romano had the following to say which sums up the life and work of a Catholic priest:

"The priest does not belong to himself. He is at the service of the people of God without limits of schedule or calendar. The people are not for the priest, but the priest is for the people, in its totality, without ever restricting his service to a small group." Continuing he said, "The priest cannot choose the post he likes, the work methods he considers easiest, the people he considers most likeable, the schedule that is most comfortable, the diversions - even the most legitimate ones - when they take away time and energy from his own specific pastoral mission." He added, "The priest is above all a man of prayer, of adoration, of worship, of the celebration of the holy mysteries, before man in the name of Christ."

While celebrating Mass for Vocations to the Priesthood on Monday, I was reminded in the Post Communion Prayer, "May many of your people choose to serve you by devoting themselves to the service of their brothers and sisters." This is Number One and the greatest joy of being a priest..........days of joyful 'service' to the parish.

And thanks be to God for all the lay people who make up the various committees that help to run a parish so that the parish priest is free to continue with his primary role of service to the people he has been chosen to serve.

Monday, 19 May 2008

First Holy Communion

Yesterday I celebrated the first of three First Holy Communion Masses in the parish. I hope everyone involved found it as joyful an occasion as I did. This is certainly one of the joys of being a parish priest. Being able to see the children develop in their understanding of their faith over the course of the preparation programme; to help them with their First Confessions and to see the culmination of all this and their obvious delight on the day they receive Our Blessed Lord for the first time.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Meetings, meetings, meetings ....

This last week I attended a meeting of the Parish Finance Committee on Monday evening followed by a meeting at school on Tuesday evening. This has in fact been quite a 'light' week for evening meetings. Whilst these and other meetings are very important I must admit that I wouldn't put attendance at them very high on my list of, 'Things I enjoy most about being a Parish Priest'!

Nevertheless they are a very necessary part of parish life and run alongside the celebration of the Sacraments and my other 'priestly' duties. I very much appreciate the many hours that so many people give of their time and effort for the good of our parish and school.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Our Lady of Fatima

This morning we kept the memorial of Our Lady of Fatima.

From 13th May to 13th October 1917 Our Lady appeared at Fatima (Portugal) to three children; Lucia, Fracisco and Jacinta. On each occasion Our Lady asked them to say the Rosary and do penance for the offenses made to her Immaculate Heart.

John Paul II in his homily at Fatima on 13th May 1982 said, 'The message of Fatima is, in its basic meaning a call to conversion and repentance, as is the Gospel .... The Lady of the message seems to have read with special insight the 'signs of the times', the signs of our age. The call to repentance is a motherly one, and at the same time it is strong and decisive.'

The Gospel reminds us many times to 'repent and do penance' Mk 1:15; Jesus begins his public life asking for penance. 'Repent for the Kingdom of God is 'at hand'. Mk 4:17

Today we can ask ourselves how often do we use the Sacrament of Confession? Do we make little acts of repentance for our own sins and those of the world? Do we try and say the Rosary better in this month of May?

'O my Jesus, forgive us our sins ...'

Monday, 12 May 2008

Ordinary Time

We return to Ordinary Time today with Week 6 having celebrated the Feast of Pentecost on Sunday.

During the Easter Season we pray the Regina Caeli and now we return to praying the Angelus at 6am, midday and 6pm.

The angel of the Lord appeared unto Mary,
And she conceived by the Holy Spirit;
Hail, Mary ...
Holy Mary ...

Behold the handmaid of the Lord
Be it done unto me according to your word;
Hail, Mary ...
Holy Mary ...

And the Word was made flesh
And dwelt among us;
Hail, Mary ...
Holy Mary

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray: Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord, your grace into our hearts that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ, your Son was made know by the message of an Angel, may, by his passion and cross, be brought to the glory of his resurrection, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

We can pray this beautiful prayer wherever we are, we don't need to be in church. We sanctify our day by this invocation to Our Lady.

Parish Life

As on most Sundays, yesterday morning after the 10.00am Mass many parishioners went into the parish hall to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee and a chance to chat with their friends in the parish. When we are blessed with the beautiful weather we've been enjoying recently, it also means that the children can play in the garden behind the parish hall.

This is a an important part of parish life, and together with organised social events throughout the year, helps to develop the community life of our parish. I am very grateful to all the volunteers who generously give of their time to make this possible.

Friday, 9 May 2008


We've received these lovely photos from one of our parishioners, Danny Thomas, who is currently on a pilgrimage walking part of the Pilgrims Way to Santiago de Compostela (from Lodeve to Toulouse). Here you see a statue of a windswept St Jacques (St James, Sant' Iago) which is to be found in Castres.

A photo of a cross taken along the route with the sunlight behind it makes a beautiful focus for the pilgrim on his journey. The route is full of similarly inspiring images and must be very uplifting at the end of weary day's walking.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Books for children

Today the postman delivered a parcel of some new books for children published by the Catholic Truth Sociey. They are all by well known Catholic authors. I've had a quick look at them and they look excellent. They contain colourful illustrations which will immediately appeal to younger children and the content contains very good, sound Catholic teaching. We have a sample of each of the 11 books which will be on sale in our parish repository. Further copies may be ordered via the parish or if you are visiting Westminster Cathedral , you should be able to find them in the CTS shop in the Piazza.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

First Holy Communion Preparation

Last night was the last of our parents' sessions for the parish First Holy Communion programme. Instead of the usual session in our parish hall we had a lovely Mass in church which was very well attended by the parents of our 40 candidates and then we moved into the hall for a celebratory glass of wine.

These occasions are always very enjoyable and I think very important as it gives us all; priest, catechists and parents an opportunity to chat together in an informal setting and look back over the programme and get some feedback from those who have been involved.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Swiss Guard

Today Pope Benedict met with the Pontifical Swiss Guard in anticipation of the annual swearing-in ceremony for new recruits which will take place tomorrow. Vatican Radio has a very good article on the history and role of the Swiss Guard.

Archbishop of Canterbury in Rome

I heard about this on Radio 4; the quote is from the Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury. I haven't been able to find a photograph yet of the meeting but I think this is a very good one taken at another meeting in 2006:

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is to convene the 7th Building Bridges Seminar in Rome next week. This is a unique annual series which brings together a range of internationally recognised Christian and Muslim scholars for an intensive study of relevant Biblical and Qur'anic texts.

The seminar, which is organised in partnership with Georgetown University, will run from Tuesday to Thursday (May 6th to 8th). The theme for this year's seminar is 'Communicating the Word: Revelation, Translation and Interpretation in Christianity and Islam', and builds on from similar events in London, Doha, Sarajevo, Washington DC and Singapore.

On Wednesday 7th May, the Archbishop will preach and preside at the service for the Inauguration of his new Representative to the Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, the Revd David Richardson.

During the visit the Archbishop will meet privately with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.

It's always interesting to hear of religious leaders meeting the Holy Father, especially when they are from the established church in Great Britain. It is encouraging to know that conversations are taking place, and although this is a private meeting, sometimes this can be more useful than an official one.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Ave Maria!

Thanks to Gloria TV for this lovely video with Ave Maria soundtrack. Well worth a viewing.

First Fridays

Today being the first Friday in May I have just celebrated a votive Mass of the Sacred Heart. I thought it might be helpful to explain a little about the Nine First Fridays Devotion to the Sacred Heart for those who are not familiar with this devotion. For those who wish to find out more, I refer you to the excellent site Catholic Culture. Here is a brief summary based on their description.

In apparitions to St Margaret Mary Alacoque, a 17th Century Visitation nun, Jesus promised through the mercy of his Divine Heart that all who receive Holy Communion on nine first Fridays of consecutive months would receive the grace of final repentance.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

The Month of May - Our Lady's month

May is traditionally known as a month devoted especially to Our Lady. We will have Rosary and Benediction at 4pm here at St Ann's every Sunday during May as has been the custom for many years.

Although it is not always easy with today's busy lifestyle for people to find time to come to church on a Sunday afternoon we generally have quite a group of devoted parishioners who turn up, many of them being present for each of the Sundays including a few children which is very encouraging. I am also very pleased that we usually have one or two servers as I know how many other demands there are on families on a Sunday afternoon.

We offer our prayers for a different intention each Sunday and we will begin by praying for the families of our parish this coming Sunday.