Tuesday, 29 December 2009

"Arise Once More"

I received an excellent DVD as a Christmas gift from a priest friend. 'Arise Once More' is produced by St Anthony Communications with commentary provided by well-known speakers and authors including James and Joanna Bogle, Fr Marcus Holden, Fr Andrew Pinsent and others.

It traces the history of Catholicism in Britain up to the present day concluding with encouragement to all of us to be instrumental in 'Reviving Catholic Britain' which is the very apt subtitle of the video.

I found it very encouraging and inspiring.

It is available from St Anthony Communications at the very reasonable price of £9.95. As they say in all the best publicity - 'Order your copy now'!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Venite adoremus . . .

The church was a hive of activity yesterday. As soon as the morning Mass was over, there was an influx of an army of volunteers; cleaners wielding dusters, up ladders and on hands and knees, searching into every nook and cranny to make sure St Ann's is looking at her best for the Feast of Christmas.

They were accompanied by a bevy of florists and here you can see some of the results of their labour:

It's a marvellous feeling to be in church as I was yesterday morning to hear Confessions, and to see the great spirit of community in the parish. So many people help in so many different ways and without them, I don't know how we would manage.

Our crib in in place and there is an air of expectancy. Our eyes are drawn towards the empty manger.

In just a few hours time, we will celebrate the Vigil Mass of Christmas and the church will be full with lively children barely able to contain their excitement; tired but contented parents; grandparents, aunts, uncles and family friends; parishioners and visitors; all joining together to welcome the birth of our Saviour.

In the wonder of the incarnation
your eternal Word has brought to the eyes of faith
a new and radiant vision of your glory.
In him we see our God made visible
and so are caught up in love of the God we cannot see.

Taken from the first Preface of Christmas)

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Away in a Manger . . .

As has been the custom for many years and certainly before I came to St Ann's, on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, the children from our Children's Liturgy group perform a Nativity Play at the end of the 10am Mass.

I am always moved by the innocence of the children as they enact the Christmas story. For those of you who were not able to attend the 10am Mass today, and also for those who'd like to be reminded of this joyful event, please 'click' on the title slide below and it should take you to a slide show of the photos taken by our parish secretary this morning.

A big thank you to our dedicated team of mothers who help with Children's Liturgy throughout the year and especially to Mary and her helpers this morning.

I'm afraid we don't have a recording of the lovely singing of the children themselves. This soundtrack is by Aled Jones.

From Videos

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

It always makes me smile . . .

This is a bit of an 'in joke' for any possible clerical readers of this blog. I wonder how many times you've heard something like this in the last few days.

I certainly have had similar comments several times when I've been out and about in the parish recently. I wonder what people imagine we do for the rest of the year!

It still makes me smile . . .

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Sing, Choirs of Angels . . .

Our choir stayed behind after Mass today to make a recording of Schubert's 'Ave Maria'. Our parish secretary also stayed behind to take a few photos which I've just received so I thought you might like to see a few of them.

Our choir has been practising this piece for some time and when they first sang it at Mass a little while ago, there was a marvellous response - you could have heard a pin drop after the last notes had died away.

Now, we're all waiting eagerly to hear the results of today's recording session.

By the way, I know our musical director is always delighted to welcome new members to our choir. You don't need to be an expert, so I'm told; the main qualities needed are enthusiasm and a love of singing.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Rejoice in the Lord, always . . .

'Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near!'

The liturgy of today's Mass repeats St Paul's words to the first Christians at Philippi, 'Rejoice in the Lord, always; again I say, rejoice!' Then he give us the real reason for this great happiness: 'The Lord is near.'

This is the joy of Advent and of each and every day and St Paul gives us the key to understanding the origin of any unhappiness we may experience; unhappiness comes from putting a barrier between ourselves and God, through our sins, through our lukewarmness or indifference.

Of course every day the Lord is nearer to us. However if there are barriers, he will not force an entry.

There is still time to celebrate the sacrament of Confession. If not in your own parish, then any priest would be delighted to make time to hear your Confession. Here are details of times for Confession at St Ann's:

Saturdays: 10.30am to 11.30am
5.00pm to 6.00pm

After each Mass on the first Sunday of the month

And at call

Advent Penitential Service - Tuesday 15th December at 7.30pm

St John Vianney, pray for us

Our Lady, Queen of Confessors, pray for us

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Third talk by the Friars - Prayer . . .

I was delighted that we had a very good turnout for our third and final talk from the Friars of the Renewal this evening. The parish hall was almost full with parents from our First Holy Communion group and other parishioners. Once again I was very pleased to see many of the young people from our Confirmation programme.

Fr Raphaël gave an excellent talk on 'Prayer'.

He spoke about Judaeo-Christian prayer and quoted examples from the Gospels of Jesus' own prayer to his Father; mentioning the way that we look back in memory when we pray in thanksgiving and also look forward in supplication in our prayers for the future.

In the second half of his talk, Fr Raphaël spoke at some length about five methods of prayer that we might use ourselves:

Praying the Rosary

Lectio Divina

The Jesus Prayer

Silent Meditation

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament

One of the questions at the end of the evening referred to the distractions that beset us all at some time or another when we are trying to prayer.

Fr Raphaël reminded us that even the some of the great saints like St Thérèse of Lisieux were plagued by distractions and suggested that we try and turn those distractions into prayer.

Although this was the last talk in the series, we look forward to welcoming the Friars back to St Ann's some time next year when we hope they will visit us again.