Sunday, 26 July 2009

A Bevy of Beautiful Babies for Baptism . . .

Today we had plenty to celebrate at St Ann's. It is the feast of St Joachim and Ann as I've already mentioned, but we also had three baptisms - what a lucky coincidence that these three families had chosen our parish feast day to present their babies for baptism.

In the picture you can see the Magill family whose daughter Eloise Mary was baptised by our Deacon Kevin during the 10 O'clock Mass. Eloise's parents, Daniel and Claire, also celebrate their wedding anniversary today, so yet another celebration - no wonder there were smiles all round.

Shortly afterwards at midday, I baptised Joseph Mario Cirillo and Isabella Paciolla - more smiling faces!

Please keep all these families in your prayers at this special time. We ask for the intercession of St Joachim and Ann, a perfect example of Christian parenthood,

St Joachim and Ann, pray for us.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Happy Feast Day . . .

Tomorrow is the Feast of Sts Joachim and Anne, parents of Our Lady, and of course our parish feast day.

As it falls on a Sunday this year, we won't be celebrating the feast at Mass.

Very little is actually known about the parents of Our Lady and most of the stories we hear come from legend and tradition. What is important is that the parents of Mary provided such a good model for her and as such can be a very good model for all parents. If you'd like to read a little more about St Joachim and St Anne, please follow the link here.

We can still celebrate the feast day in our own way and what better way than to ask St Ann to intercede for us.

Good St. Anne,
you were especially favoured by God
to be the mother of the most holy Virgin Mary,
the Mother of our Saviour.
By your power with your most pure daughter
and with her divine Son,
kindly obtain for us the grace and the favour we now seek.
Please secure for us also forgiveness of our past sins,
the strength to perform faithfully our daily duties
and the help we need to persevere in the love of Jesus and Mary.

Why do you wear those funny clothes?

"Why do you wear those funny clothes?"

Yes, I was actually asked this one day. Admittedly by a very young child whose family were not church goers and this child had probably never seen a priest in clerical dress before.

Now our young altar servers are used to seeing me in 'these funny clothes' and I hope they don't think there's anything 'funny' about them at all.

Sometimes, however, when in the sacristy before or after Mass I take the opportunity to talk to the young servers about the vestments worn by the priest and what they symbolise.

Whilst looking for some good pictures of vestments on the Internet, I came across this video which I think you might find interesting. It is a little long (about 5 minutes) but worth watching as the priest explains very clearly and demonstrates how and why each item is worn, as he is vesting.

I hope you find it helpful.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Three cheers for Iain Duncan Smith . . .

Read here
I was very pleased to read comments in this week's Catholic Times about a 'Think-Tank' set up by Catholic MP Iain Duncan Smith which has backed traditional marriage whilst rejecting equal rights for co-habiting couples.

The Centre for Social Justice has also called for a cooling-off period for spouses considering divorce. The report "Every Family Matters" calls for a far-reaching overhaul of the law aimed at putting marriage and traditional family life firmly back on the agenda.

What a contrast between this report and the recent comments by the chief executive of Marriage Care (formerly the Catholic Marriage Advisory Council) who claimed last week that 'the Church discriminates against single parents, cohabiting couples and same-sex families because they fall short of the Vatican definition of family.' If you'd like to read the full article you'll find it on the front page of this week's Catholic Times.

Update February 2013
What a shame that Mr Iain Duncan-Smith appears to have changed his mind about what exactly constitutes marriage as understood by the Catholic Church, and traditional family life. See here

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes . . .

Today is the beginning of our Diocesan Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Let us pray for Bishop Kieran and all those joining the pilgrimage, about 800 in total; sick and able-bodied pilgrims, doctors, nurses and helpers, including several pilgrims from our own parish.

We ask the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes:

O Holy Virgin, in the midst of your days of glory,
do not forget the sorrows of this earth.
Cast a merciful glance upon those who are suffering,
struggling against difficulties,
with their lips constantly pressed against life's bitter cup.

Have pity on our rebellious hearts.
Have pity on our weak faith.
Have pity on those we love.
Have pity on those who weep,
on those who pray, on those who fear.

Grant hope and peace to all.


Sunday, 19 July 2009

"He who sings, prays twice . . "

Like many parishes, we are blessed at St Ann's to have a very good, enthusiastic and dedicated choir, including some instrumentalists.

This morning at the 10 O'clock Mass they sung for the last Sunday Mass before their well-earned break during the summer holidays. Some of them will be heading off to Lourdes this coming week with our Diocesan Pilgrimage to swell the ranks of the diocesan choir singing at the various liturgies that take place at Lourdes during the pilgrimage.

I would like to record my appreciation, and that of the parish, for all that they add to our worship throughout the year; for their time and the commitment that they give so generously and with such good humour. Most of the parish are probably not aware of the hours spent at choir practices and courses attended in addition to singing, not only at the 10am Mass, but at Confirmations, weddings, funerals and other occasions.

We shall miss your singing of course, but we'll put up with it knowing it is only temporary; you deserve a break.

Just make sure you come back in September!

By the way, I know that Flick is always on the lookout for new choir members and instrumentalists. You don't need to be a professional singer; the main qualifications are enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. Have a word with Flick if you are at all interested. I can assure you of a very warm welcome.

Friday, 17 July 2009

More on the Year of the Priest . . .

I will be referring to St John Vianney from time to time this year especially as it is the Year of the Priest.

I find the book, 'A Curé of Ars Prayer Book' very inspiring. Here, for example, is an extract from the saint's writing on Priesthood:

How great is a Priest

Oh, how great is a priest! The priest will not understand the greatness of his office till he is in Heaven. If he understood it on earth, he would die, not of fear, but of love. The other benefits of God would be of no avail to us without the priest. What would be the use of a house full of gold, if you had nobody to open you the door! The priest has the key of the heavenly treasures; it is he who opens the door; he is the steward of the good God, the distributor of His wealth. Without the priest, the Death and Passion of Our Lord would be of no avail. Look at the heathens: what has it availed them that Our Lord has died? Alas! they can have no share in the blessings of Redemption, while they have no priest to apply His Blood to their souls!

The priest is not a priest for himself; he does not give himself absolution; he does not administer the Sacraments to himself. He is not for himself, he is for you. After God, the priest is everything.

God Our Father,
we thank you for all our parish priests.
We entrust them to your paternal care.
Help them in the challenges and difficulties they are faced with.
Guide them in their ministry, and keep them faithful to their calling as
pastors of your flock and stewards of your Kingdom.

As well as praying for priests, it is of course very important that we continue to pray for vocations to the priesthood. As Pope John Paul II said in his Letter To All the Priests of the Church for Holy Thursday 1986, '. . . We beseech the Holy Spirit to call to the Church's service many priest of the calibre and holiness of the Curé of Ars . . . "

My Dear Jesus,
Thou desirest that we pray the Lord of the Harvest
that He send zealous labourers into His harvest.
Deign to raise up in Thy Church, and especially in this diocese,
numerous and holy priests who, taking Thy Divine Heart as their Model,
will, in the exercise of their holy priesthood,
promote the glory of Thy heavenly Father and
the salvation of those souls whom
Thou hast redeemed with Thy Precious Blood.

Give us true holy priests who, inflamed with the fire of Thy divine love,
seek nothing but Thy greater glory and the salvation of souls.

O Mary, Queen of the clergy, pray for us;
obtain for us a great number of vocations to the holy priesthood.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

A Prayer for Priests in The Year for Priests . .

This year marks the 150th Anniversary of the death of St Jean-Marie Vianney and, as we know, Pope Benedict has declared a Year for Priests from 19th June 2009 to 19th June 2010.

There are many prayers in circulation for priests and I commend this one to you from the book, A Curé of Ars Prayer Book.

I hope that readers of this blog will find it useful. I, along with all parish priests I'm sure, am very grateful for your prayers, always.

Prayer for my Parish Priest
(to be said daily)

O Lord, mayest Thou find shelter and rest gently
within the heart of Thy priests,
especially Father(s) . . . . .
Make them, O Lord, priests according to Thy Heart:
meek, humble, zealous, so that all they do
will be for Thine honour and glory.

Mould them into men of prayer and labour,
insensible to earthly things,
and sensible only to Thy love
and to the graces of the Holy Ghost.