Friday, 30 October 2009

Congratulations Cardinal Cormac on your new appointment . . .

I’m sure we’re all delighted to hear this news about our former Bishop - Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor. Many will have first hand experiences and pleasant memories of meeting and talking to Cardinal Cormac during his time as Bishop of Arundel and Brighton. I myself have happy memories of my meetings with him and in particular of course, being ordained by him.

(Photo © Mazur/ )

In a mark of extraordinary esteem, Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor to two important Vatican congregations that select bishops for most dioceses of the Latin-rite Catholic Church worldwide. . . . the Congregation for Bishops and of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples. '

In his new role, Cardinal Cormac will be directly involved in the appointment of Bishops for England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, as well for countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas and Oceania.’

There are very busy times ahead for Cardinal Cormac and a lot of travelling to and fro to the Vatican. We send His Eminence our best wishes and assurance of our prayers as he takes up his new appointment.

For full details see the website of the Bishops’ Conference here.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

ARCIC: Dead in the Water or Money in the Bank? . . .

I'm delighted to offer you this link to the Richard Stewart Memorial Lecture given by His Eminence Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor this evening at Worth Abbey.

Cardinal Cormac spoke of his own ecumenical journey and the situation as it is in the Church today. In his lecture Cardinal Cormac also touched on the recent Apostolic Constitution.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Latest news . . .

I've just seen that the video of today's press conference in Rome has been posted on Vatican YouTube and I thought you might like to watch it so here it is:

Laudetur Jesus Christus . . .

I'm lost for words . . . What fantastic news! It seems to be on every street corner.

The Holy Father has opened the gates to warmly welcome those Anglicans who wish to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church.

You can read the full text of the joint statement from Archbishop Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Rowan Williams here and the text of the statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith here.

See that you are dressed for action and have your lamps lit . . .

'See that you are dressed for action and have your lamps lit.'

These words Our Lord addresses to each of us in today's Gospel. Our Lord reminds us that our attitude should be like one about to set out on an important journey, or like one who is preparing to meet an important guest.

Our lives, as Catholics should not be marked out by apathy, indifference or neglect. These are two very good reasons for saying that; firstly the devil never takes a holiday, 'your enemy, the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.'

Secondly, the lover is never asleep; when one loves another, the hearts are always alive in eager expectation. Jesus asks us for our love, He visits us many times throughout the day, it would be a pity to be lethargic or sleepy and be unable to greet Him.

Our daily challenge is to listen with a keen ear for the His footsteps.

Our daily struggle even in small things will help to strengthen us to come closer to Christ, on the other hand our indifference, apathy and lukewarmness leave way for the entry of the enemy.

We ask Our Blessed Lady to help us to be vigilant and prayerful at all times.

Hail, Mary, full of grace . . .

Monday, 19 October 2009

On the Reception of Holy Communion . . .

I see that my good friend Fr Terry Martin over at Horsham has an excellent post on who can receive Holy Communion.

Rather than repeat what he has said, I recommend that you click on the link and see for yourselves.

He has given a very clear explanation of the Church's teaching on Holy Communion. I would welcome any comments here you might like to make. I know this a subject that causes misunderstanding and also a great deal of pain to some people.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Year for Priests . . .

At a recent meeting of our Deanery clergy and religious, various resources were distributed for use in our parishes regarding The Year for Priests, and Vocations.

I was very impressed with the material produced by our Diocesan Vocations Director, Fr Paul Turner, and his team at the Vocations Office. They also have an excellent Diocesan Vocations Website. Do have a look when you have a spare moment.

Prayer cards are now available for parishioners containing two beautiful prayers for priests. Here is a Prayer for Priests from St Thérèse of Lisieux:

O Jesus

I pray for your faithful and fervent priests;
for your unfaithful and tepid priests;
for your priests labouring at home or
abroad in distant mission fields.
For your tempted priests;
for your lonely and desolate priests;
For your young priests;
for your dying priests;
for the souls of your priests in Purgatory.
But above all, I recommend to you the priests dearest to me:
The priest who baptised me;
the priests who absolved me from my sins;
the priests at whose Masses I assisted and who gave me
Your Body and Blood in Holy Communion;
the priests who taught and instructed me;
all the priests to whom I am indebted in any other way.

O Jesus, keep them all close to your heart,
and bless them abundantly in time and in eternity.


Please remember in your in prayers also all those in formation at St John's Seminary at this time.

Our Lady, Queen of Priests, pray for us.

Monday, 12 October 2009

New Parishioners' Evening . . .

Our parish continues to go from strength to strength with many new young families and last night we hosted a New Parishioners' Evening to welcome them to our parish.

Although not everyone was able to attend, we had a fair number of new and 'old hands' who did come along to the hall after Mass to enjoy a glass of wine and a chat.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to get around to chat with everybody but those I did meet commented on the friendliness of our parish and the beauty and reverence of our Sunday celebrations.

This is a great compliment to our parish and parishioners.

If you are among those who were not able to come along last night, do please make a point of having a chat with me after Mass on any Sunday. Why not come along and join us for coffee in the hall after the 10am Mass on Sundays?

Why do we venerate relics? . . .

Somebody asked me to write a few words about relics . . .

What do we express when we venerate relics?

When we venerate the relics of the Saints we profess our belief in several doctrines of our Catholic faith;

1. The belief in eternal life for those who have faithfully witnessed to Christ and the Gospel.

2. The truth in the resurrection of the body for all on the last day.

3. The belief in the intercession of the Saints in heaven because of their intimate relationship with Christ.

4. The doctrine of the beauty of the human body and the respect which all should show to the bodies of the living and the dead.

5. The truth of our closeness to the Saints because of our connection with the Community of Saints.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Aylesford and the Relics of St Thérèse . .

What a wonderful day we had at Aylesford!

About 40 parishioners travelled by coach to The Friars at Aylesford. It's good to have these parish outings from time to time and it was lovely today to be able to celebrate Cathy's 80th birthday - We hope she had an enjoyable day.

It was also good to see many children and young people from the local schools who were a credit to their schools - and their families.

We had plenty of time to eat our lunch, explore the Friary, take part in the service of welcome and, the main purpose of our visit, to venerate the relics of St Thérèse.
People queued patiently to venerate the relics after the service of welcome, even when it began to rain.

These are just a few photos but you can see a lot more in this slideshow:

It was a bit chilly but I think all were happy to put up with the cool weather and were warmed by the experience - after all it's not every day we get the opportunity to welcome the relics of a saint to these shores.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

A very successful evening . . .

Last night we welcomed Fr Emmanuel CFR to the parish. He is a member of the Community of Friars of the Renewal based in Canning Town and had kindly agreed to come and talk to us about the Mass.

I was delighted to see that our parish hall was nearly full. Among the parishioners were parents of our First Holy Communion children and, especially pleasing, a good turnout of young people from our Confirmation group.

Fr Emmanuel gave a very interesting, lively and, at times, amusing talk about the Mass; looking at the importance of preparing well for Sunday Mass, the Eucharistic Fast, the importance of being in a suitable condition to receive Holy Communion and reverence and respect for the Real Presence.

He also looked at the various parts of the Liturgy of the Mass.

There was time afterwards for questions and it was apparent that everyone had found the evening very interesting and helpful.

We look forward to a similar evening next month when one of the Friars will be talking to us about the Sacrament of Reconciliation on
Tuesday 3rd November at 8pm.

Monday, 5 October 2009

A busy week ahead . . .

A busy week ahead for us in the parish . . .

This evening our Confirmation programme gets under way with 24 young people led by a group of enthusiastic catechists, and at the same time (in another room!) we have our monthly Baptism Preparation, and tomorrow evening Our First Holy Communion programme gets off to a cracking start with a talk on The Mass by one of the Friars of the Renewal.

I'm very grateful to all our catechists who give of their time and skills to help with this very important ministry in the life of the parish.

Who is my neighbour? . . .

In the Gospel of today's Mass Our Lord teaches us who our neighbour is, and how we should live in charity towards others. This parable of the Good Samaritan is one of the most beautiful and moving in the Gospels.

Some of the Fathers of the Church have identified Christ as the Good Samaritan. St Augustin commenting on this parable identifies the man who falls into the hands of robbers as a symbol of humanity wounded as it is by original sin, and indeed personal sin.

St Bede commenting on the same parable writes that Sins are called 'wounds' because they destroy the integrity of human nature. The robbers or thieves represent the devil, our own unrestrained desires, and so on.

The Levite and priest symbolise the Old Covenant, which cannot 'cure' these wounds. The inn symbolises the Church.

From today's Gospel Jesus teaches us that our neighbour is whoever happens to be near us, regardless of race, colour, creed or political view.

We should do what we can to alleviate our neighbour's suffering.

Lord, help us never to fail you in our neighbour.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

October Devotions . . .

We began our October Devotions this afternoon with quite a crowd present. We prayed for the Catechists of the parish as we begin our catechetical programmes this week. Next week we'll pray for the families of our parish.

I look forward to seeing you next week - same time, same place.

(St Ann's at 4 pm)

Marriage and family life . . .

In today’s Gospel we meet Jesus as He is approached by some Pharisees who ‘were testing him’. They asked Jesus to give a judgement on the Law of Moses; they said, Moses allowed us 'to draw up a writ of dismissal and so to divorce’. Moses indeed did permit divorce because of the ‘hardness of heart’ of the chosen people.

A woman at that time could be dismissed by her husband for virtually any reason.

In this scene Jesus avails of the opportunity to affirm the indissolubility of marriage as originally planned at creation. He quotes the words of Genesis from the First Reading, ‘For this reason a man leaves father and mother and joins himself to his wife, and they become one body’.

Our Lord very clearly states that the unity and indissolubility of marriage had been established from the beginning. The disciples were surprised at this teaching and asked Jesus to explain it further. He said to them, ‘whoever divorces his wife and remarries commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery’, it would be impossible to express it more clearly.

Yet how is it possible that there are Catholics who call into doubt this teaching on marriage and continue to consider themselves followers of Christ?

John Paul II in his Apostolic Exhortation, Familiaris Consortio says,

Being rooted in the permanent and total self-giving of the couple, and being required by the good of the children, the indissolubility of marriage finds its ultimate truth in the plan that God has manifested in his revelation. He wills and He communicates the indissolubility of marriage as a fruit, a sign and a requirement of the absolute faithful love that God has for man and that the Lord Jesus has for the Church.’ The bond of marriage can be broken only by death; it is an image of the bond between Christ and his Mystical Body.’

The stability and dignity of marriage is of the greatest importance to the futures of our families, of our children, and of society generally. When matrimony is corrupted then our society is seriously ill.

Today we pray in a special way for families and family life.

Friday, 2 October 2009

A New Illustrated Rosary . . .

Family Publications have asked me to review a copy of 'A New Illustrated Rosary' by John Udris.

This beautiful prayer book is an ideal gift for those who have said the Rosary for years and likewise for those who are beginners. The main aim of the prayer book is as Pope John Paul II said, to 'contemplate with Mary the face of Christ'.

The illustrations are taken from medieval manuscripts and the meditations are based on the visual details in the images.

Canon Udris is best known for his writings on St Thérèse of Lisieux.

'A New Illustrated Rosary' is available from Family Publications and sells at £4.50.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

St Thérèse . . .

With being away, I have missed the opportunity to post about many important feast days recently (including my own namesake St Michael, on Tuesday!)

However, I couldn't let today end without a brief reference to St Teresa of the Child Jesus, or St Thérèse of Lisieux as she is perhaps better known.

Here is a short extract from the excellent website of the Society of the Little Flower

"My mission - to make God loved - will begin after my death," she said. "I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses." Roses have been described and experienced as Saint Therese's signature. Countless millions have been touched by her intercession and imitate her "little way." She has been acclaimed "the greatest saint of modern times." In 1997, Pope John Paul II declared St. Therese a Doctor of the Church - the only Doctor of his pontificate - in tribute to the powerful way her spirituality has influenced people all over the world.

I'm very much looking forward to our visit to Aylesford on Friday to venerate the relics of St Thérèse as I'm sure many others are. Meanwhile . . .

St Thérèse, pray for us.