Monday, 17 December 2012

Gaudete - 'Gaudete in Domino Semper . . . '

'Rejoice in the Lord always . . . '

Well, we certainly did that at St Ann's on Sunday.

Our flower arrangers came up with a beautiful arrangement for the sanctuary . . .
We lit the rose candle on our Advent wreath . . . 

There was much joyful singing, and many smiles all round . . . 

Let us use the remaining days of Advent to prepare well for the coming of Our Lord.    'The Lord is near!' as the antiphon says.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Blogging - labels, tags . . .

I've just added a gadget to the side-bar which links to all the various 'tags' or 'labels' that you see underneath each post.  You'll find it right at the bottom of the side-bar at the right-hand side of the page.

I hope you'll find this useful.  The idea is that it will help you if you are looking for a post on a particular subject.

Rather a pleasing side-effect is that it shows how many posts have been written with the same 'label' and the more the subject has been blogged about, the larger the font of the label.

It was encouraging to see certain 'favourite' important topics that have been covered more frequently than others.  For example; 'Confession' 26 times! The same number for 'Feast Days'. And 'Liturgy', 'Holy Mass' and 'Marriage' all come in at 12 mentions each.

I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions . . . 

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

An Excellent Talk on the Holy Mass . . .

Last night about 50 of us gathered in St Ann's parish hall to welcome back Fr James Bradley and to listen to his talk on the Holy Mass.  It was good to see quite a few of our Confirmation candidates present too.  I'm sure they gained a lot from the evening.

I think I can safely say that we were not disappointed.

Fr James gave a detailed explanation and exploration of the Holy Mass, taking us through the liturgy of the Mass beginning at the very beginning with the priest vesting in the sacristy and guiding us through the introductory rite, to the Liturgy of the Word, the Liturgy of the Eucharist and finally to the dismissal at the end of the Mass.

Looking at people's faces, I would say that all present were following Fr James' exposition closely and with great interest.

Fr James also spoke at some length about the reception of Holy Communion at Mass; about the way in which we physically receive Holy Communion, our internal disposition and our state of worthiness.

After speaking for almost an hour, which seemed to fly by, Fr James took some interesting questions from some of those present including a question on the new translation of the Missal and the position of the cross at the centre of the altar, as seen in Masses celebrated by Pope Benedict, and now by many other priests around the world.

We are now looking forward to our third and final talk from Fr James in this series which will be on Tuesday 5th February when the subject will be 'Prayer'.

I do hope to see the hall full once more.  All are welcome.

An idea for the Year of Faith . . .

Are you looking for ways to deepen your knowledge and understanding of our Catholic faith in this Year of Faith?

This looks like an ideal way to do this. 'School of Faith' is a new study course on the Catechism of the Catholic Church for the Year of Faith.

There are 12 talks from a variety of excellent speakers.  You can go to any individual talk or register for the full course.  The course runs from 9th January to 23rd March 2013 and takes place at the Archdiocese of Southwark's Centre for Catholic Formation in Tooting Bec Road.

I do encourage anyone who is interested to go along.  I'm sure you will find it very helpful.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Fr James Bradley - Talk on Reconciliation . . .

I hope you all have these dates in your diary:

Tuesday 6th November:  Fr James Bradley on Reconciliation

Tuesday 4th December:   Fr James Bradley on The Holy Mass

Tuesday 5th February:     Fr James Bradley on Prayer

Fr James Bradley is a priest of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and much in demand as a speaker.   We are very fortunate that he has kindly agreed to come and give us three talks on key subjects of great importance to all of us.

Those who were able to attend the beautiful opening Mass of our Forty Hours Devotion will recognise Fr James as the celebrant on that occasion.

Although primarily arranged for the parents of our First Holy Communion children and our Confirmation candidates as part of our sacramental programmes, everyone is invited to attend any or all of the talks.   Especially in this Year of Faith when Pope Benedict has encouraged all of us to look more deeply at our Catholic faith,  I do urge you to come along if you possibly can to hear what Fr James has to say. It would be lovely to have a full hall on each of these Tuesday evenings.

All of the talks begin at 7.45pm and will be finished by 9.00pm.

Advanced notice.  Tuesday 5th March:  Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith on Marriage and Family Life.

Please make sure you have this date in your diary too.  Fr Lucie-Smith is a priest of our diocese and writes regularly for the Catholic Herald.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Why 'Forty' Hours . . . ?

Someone kindly left a comment on my last post about our recent 40 Hours Devotion asking about the origins of the devotion.  Here is a brief explanation of the reasons and history behind the 40 Hours Devotion.

For us Catholics, the Mass is our central act of worship.  It is an act that participates in the eternal reality of Our Lord's passion, death and resurrection.  Many Catholics also wish to be able to pray in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament outside of Mass.  

The Second Vatican Council upheld and strongly encouraged adoration of the Blessed Sacrament outside of Mass.  Such devotion arises from the Sacrifice of the Mass and serves to move us to both sacramental and spiritual communion with Our Lord.  Blessed John Paul II repeatedly highly recommended public and private devotion of the Blessed Sacrament including procession of the Blessed Sacrament on the Feast of Corpus Christi and the 40 Hours Devotion.

The number 40 has historically, since very ancient times, signified a 'sacred' period of time. 

The rain during the time of Moses lasted 40 days and nights; the Jews wandered in the desert for 40 years before arriving at the Promised Land; Jesus fasted and prayed for 40 days before beginning his public ministry; we observe Lent for 40 days and we also remember the tradition 40 hour period from Our Lord's burial until his resurrection.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

40 Hours Devotion . . .

On Thursday Our 40 Hours Devotion came to end with a beautiful Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. This was followed by a Mass of Thanksgiving for all the graces poured out on our parish during the 40 Hours. I have no doubt that these are many and we shall see their impact in the days, weeks, months and even, years to come.

After the parish Mass, many of those present came together in our parish meeting room to celebrate and reflect on their experiences whilst enjoying a cup of tea or coffee and a piece of cake.

It was wonderful to see the excitement and joy on people's faces as they talked about the recent 40 Hours Devotion. All the comments I heard were very positive. People were very moved by the beautiful Solemn Mass of Exposition on Tuesday evening.

I was delighted that Fr James Bradley of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham was able to accept my invitation to preside at the Mass and also to preach. I know many people were impressed with the beautiful liturgy and gained a lot from Fr James' homily.

Another very encouraging 'fruit' of the devotion was the number of people who came for Confession over the three days. A great blessing.

Several people commented that they felt sad that it was all over and many asked, 'when can we do it again?'

Of course we will do it again - next year, God-willing.

The 40 Hours Devotion provides a wonderful opportunity for us all to grow in holiness individually and for the spiritual growth of our parish as a whole.

In our world today, where we are see evil all around us, where there is a decline in devotion to the Mass and the Blessed Sacrament, and where many no longer see the need for Confession, this is even more important than ever.

Friday, 17 August 2012

40 Hours? Year of Faith? Jubilee Year? What's it all about?

There does seem to be a lot happening at the moment; both in our own parish and in our diocese, and even in the Catholic Church as a whole.

I'm sure it might be confusing for some people, and as it's not possible to do more than publicise events in the weekly bulletin I thought I'd make an attempt to 'flesh out' some of the events I refer to in the title of this post.

Firstly, the 40 Hours' Devotion.

As the name suggests this is a period of continuous Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the monstrance on the altar for 40 hours.

It is quite an undertaking for a parish the size of ours but we have held the 40 Hours Devotion very successfully not once, but twice in recent years which is very encouraging as it is an indicator of a parish with a healthy spiritual life.

In 2011 we held the 40 Hours Devotion in thanksgiving for the 75th Anniversary of our parish. This year we have planned our 40 Hours Devotion to prepare for the Year of Faith which begins in October 2012. Please see the sidebar of this blog for the dates and times of our 40 Hours Devotion and also the link to the Year of Faith.

I'm delighted that Fr James Bradley has agreed to preside at the opening Mass on Tuesday 4th September.

Fr James is a priest of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. I know some of you will know a little about the Ordinariate and for some it will be a complete 'unknown'. We are looking forward to hearing a little about the Ordinariate when Fr James comes to see us but meanwhile you may like to have a look at their website to get ahead of the game.

Here is a very helpful explanation of the establishment of the Ordinariate taken from the website:

'In November 2009, Pope Benedict XVI issued the Apostolic Constitution 'Anglicanorum Coetibus' stating, "In recent times the Holy Spirit has moved groups of Anglicans to petition repeatedly and insistently to be received into full Catholic communion individually and corporately. The Apostolic See has responded favourably to such petitions. Indeed, the successor of Peter, mandated by the Lord Jesus to guarantee the unity of the episcopate and to preside over and safeguard the universal communion of all the Churches, could not fail to make available the means necessary to bring this holy desire to realisation."

Thus on 15th January 2011 The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham was erected by decree of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the then Fr Keith Newton was appointed as its first Ordinary. Fr Keith Newton has since been elevated to Monsignor Keith Newton.

I hope my brief introduction has whetted your appetite to learn more and you will come along to our opening Mass on Tuesday 4th September at 7.00pm. All are warmly invited. Bring your friends!

I have gone on rather more than I had intended with my introduction to the Ordinariate. I'm afraid I have let my enthusiasm run away with me.

I will give you a very brief summary of The Year of Faith here and hope to come back to the subject soon in more detail.

Do please follow the link and 'read all about it' as newspaper vendors always used to say. Do they still say that, I wonder?

On Sunday 16th October 2011 Pope Benedict announced a 'Year of Faith' to run from 11th October 2012, the 50th Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, to 24th November 2013, The Feast of Christ the King.

In his Apostolic Letter, the Holy Father states, 'We want this Year to arouse in every believer the aspiration to profess the faith in fullness and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope.'

To assist us to achieve these aims there will be talks given by a variety of speakers at parish, deanery and diocesan level, small group meetings and a variety of material in the form of booklets, videos and other materials. Do please keep your eyes on our parish noticeboards, website, Facebook etc. for ways that you can become involved in this exciting Year of Faith .

Finally, just a brief word about the Jubilee Year to avoid confusion. This is to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of our own Diocese of Arundel and Brighton which will actually be in 2015.

Leading up to 2015, we shall be looking at some of the major Documents of the Second Vatican Council, beginning with the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium).

Once again you can learn more about the Jubilee Year by following the link. There will also be small groups, talks and other ways to become involved.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Family Confessions . . .

How wonderful to see families coming to Confession before they begin their school holidays . . .

We have some marvellous parents who are excellent models for their children. It reminds me once again of the importance of instilling good habits. Once children have made their First Confession, if children are brought regularly to Confession by their parents it makes such a difference. A good habit becomes a virtue, and we also know, 'good habits begin young.' I thank God that we have several families in the parish who do this and I would like to try to encourage more to follow suit.

I'm considering allocating one period a month of Saturday morning Confessions especially to hearing the Confessions of our children and families. I'd be interested to know if anyone has experience of something similar, and if they think it would be welcomed.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus . . .

On today's solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus we celebrate the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of the clergy.

In a Letter to Priests from the Vatican given on the Solemnity of the Annunciation this year, Cardinal Piacenza and Archbishop Iruzubieta write, 

" The expression found in Scripture 'This is the will of God: your holiness!' (1Thess. 4:3), though addressed to all Christians, refers to us priests in particular, for we have accepted the invitation to "sanctify ourselves" and to become "ministers of sanctification" for our brothers."

Please join me today in praying for all priests:

O my Jesus, I beg You on behalf of the whole Church:
Grant it love and the light of Your Spirit,
And give power to the words of Priests
so that hardened hearts might be brought to repentance and return to You, O Lord.
Lord, give us holy Priests;
You yourself maintain them in holiness.
O Divine and Great High Priest,
may the power of Your mercy
accompany them everywhere and protect them
from the devil's traps and snares
which are continually being set for the soul of Priests.
May the power of Your mercy,
O Lord, shatter and bring to naught
all that might tarnish the sanctity of Priests,
for You can do all things.


(Sr Faustina Kowalska)

Monday, 21 May 2012

Holy Communions - Week 2 - And a special visitor . . .

We had another beautiful First Holy Communion celebration this Sunday. As you can see our children look wonderful and very happy which is exactly as it should be. Thanks once again to our parents, catechists and school.

We were also delighted to welcome a special visitor to our Mass. His Grace Johanna Peterus Mouchi, Archbishop of the Diocese of Mosul in Iraq, is a cousin of one of our First Holy Communion children. Doesn't he look splendid in his cope and mitre?

As last week, you will find a few more photos of the day on our parish Facebook page.

Monday, 14 May 2012

First Holy Communion - Week One

I'm over the moon!! What a joy and a blessing to celebrate Mass yesterday and to administer Holy Communion to the first group of our First Holy Communion children.

They were a credit to their parents, their catechists and to our parish. Well done to you all!

We were also blessed with a beautiful sunny day too which was an added bonus.

Here is just one of the photos from yesterday. There are more on our Facebook page - do take a look here.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Vatican Widget . . . Keeping up to date . . .

Do you like our new widget?

The Vatican Widget in the side bar will give you instant access to news from the Holy See. Use the drop-down menu at the top of the widget to direct you to videos of the Holy Father's daily Angelus address; General Audiences; the Bulletin and latest news from the Vatican.

This is yet another tool to help us in our understanding of our Catholic faith.

Throughout our lives we are growing and developing as human beings and the same is also true of our Catholic faith. We don't stop reading and learning once we've mastered our first book in the Reception Class; we continue to grow and develop throughout our lives.

In a similar way, we deepen our understanding and knowledge of our faith, from the day of our Baptism, through First Holy Communion and Confirmation and for the rest of our lives. It is an ongoing process. I do encourage you to take every opportunity to learn more about our faith.

We have a regular supply of Catholic newspapers available in the church porch which give excellent coverage of news related to the Catholic Church and Catholic teaching; from parish level, through local, diocesan and national news up to international events.

For those who are fortunate enough to have access to the Internet there is a seemingly endless supply of articles, videos and audio links concerning Catholic teaching.

From time to time I do try to put items on the parish Facebook page that I think are particularly interesting and helpful. I hope you have a look sometimes. There is no need to have a Facebook account yourself to see these items, just click on the link in the sidebar and it will take you straight to the parish page.

We are having 'teething problems' with our new Vatican Widget. It seems to have disappeared all by itself! We are waiting to hear how to remedy this from those that know. Meanwhile we ask for your patience please.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Surrexit Christus, Sicut Dixit, Alleluia !

Holy Saturday is always a very busy day in any parish - and St Ann's is no exception. We started the day with the Office of Readings which is a wonderful prayerful way to begin this day of 'waiting'.

Afterwards, the church is invaded by numerous volunteers who all come together to decorate the church and transform it from its solemn, sombre state to a place of joyful beauty ready to greet our Risen Lord at the Easter Vigil.

Here you can see just a few of our parishioners who were busy both inside and outside St Ann's yesterday.

Here are just a few shots taken after Mass this morning. The church is looking beautiful. Thanks to all who worked so hard to make sure our church looked her best for this great Feast of Easter. Thanks too to everyone who really pulled out all the stops for the Triduum. The list is endless but YOU know who you are and I am very very grateful to you all.

Happy Easter everyone - Christ is risen, Alleluia!

Monday, 2 April 2012

Palm Sunday . . .

We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful Spring day for our Palm Sunday procession. Here are a couple of photos taken yesterday. As usual, our magnificent magnolia almost stole the show . . .

Although we only have a short distance to travel for our procession, it's fortunate that we are able to process alongside the main road for a little while. Hopefully it makes passing motorists stop and think. (Though not literally, we hope!)

The procession leaving the parish hall seemed to go on and on . . .

All the Masses were beautiful yesterday with the always-moving reading of the Passion and a marvellous beginning to Holy Week. Extra times made available for Confessions have been popular too and it's good to see so many taking advantage of this opportunity to prepare well for Easter.

A very prayerful and blessed Holy Week to all.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

FLAME . . .

Last Saturday our Confirmation candidates joined over 8,000 other young Catholics at the National Youth Congress, 'Flame', at Wembley Arena. I don't think many of them had much idea about what would happen once they got there but hopefully they benefited from the experience and enjoyed a good day out too.

Here they are all are just about ready for the off with their catechists and other adults who went along to help.

One of the group agreed to tell us about his experiences of the day. Over to you Kieran . . .

FLAME 2012

On Saturday 24 March 2012 the confirmation group and leaders by invitation of Fr Míċeál attended a catholic youth gathering (known as Flame) in Wembley Arena. Flame (in short) is an event aimed at the younger generation of Catholics to come together and give thanks for our lives. The whole day was “inspirational”, however it was a day in which if you went into it with a positive attitude then you got more out of it.

For some, travelling far and wide, it was an early start, but for us, we met at the church for 9:30 - which is early enough if you ask me! After the typical group photo of cheesy smiles and we all boarded our luxury coach that Fr Míċeál had commandeered for us. I will leave out the specifics of the journey but I think that it is safe to say that with all of us teenagers at the back of the bus we were quite a rowdy bunch!

On arrival we took the obligatory commemorative photo of the group, again a few cheesy grins and off we went to the Arena. For those of who don’t know, Wembley Arena is right next to Wembley Stadium where England football games are played.

We were then allocated our tickets and went to find out seats. Inside was...........simply VAST! We had time for a quick look around and took our seats for the start. .....

We were introduced to our Hosts for the day and were given a rough outline of what to expect. We were told that the day was to be split into sections: Respect, Friendship and Excellence.

In the first part of the day we prayed, watched some live drama, interpretative dance and watched a multimedia presentation. To finish this section we had a speech by Fr. Timothy Radcliffe OP on the theme of Respect.

We left the Arena then for lunch break and some taking advantage of the good weather decided to ‘cool off’ in the nearby water feature!!

After lunch we gathered back in the Arena where we were given a talk by the Mizen Family (whose son had been killed in a random attack while out shopping).

We then had an International speaker talking about the value of sports in bringing peace and transforming those communities living in poverty.

Following on from this there were a variety of different speakers and acts emphasising the importance of friendship. There was then another break and on our return we had some more speakers talking about excellence.

We then had a time of prayer and adoration, with a homily from Archbishop Vincent Nichols.

Finally we had a closing celebratory concert played by a group known as “Indecisive”. This is when many people started to leave and being the friendly bunch that we are, we waved, said goodbye and wished them a safe journey home.

Heading home we talked about the day as a group, with no adult influence, and we came to the conclusion that it was a thoroughly enjoyable event, that future confirmation candidates would be very lucky to go on.

Thank-you very much Fr Míċeál

Kieran Hiscock

And here's Kieran sporting a very fetching tee-shirt, with Leo another of our group.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris . . .

We are beginning Lent, a time of penance and interior renewal to enable us to prepare for the great feast of Easter.

The Church continually invites us to purify our souls and to start afresh.

As we receive the ashes today we are reminded of the words of Genesis, following original sin,

'Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris'
Remember man, that you are dust and to dust you shall return. Genesis 3:19

In spite of this reminder we sometimes forget that without God we are nothing.

God wants us to abandon sin and return to Him; sin creates a barrier between God and ourselves.

'Jesus Christ himself is the most sublime grace of the whole of Lent. It is He who presents Himself to us in all the wonderful simplicity of the Gospel.' Blessed John Paul II

Jesus is continually looking for a contrite heart in each of us, a heart that acknowledges its weakness and sins and is prepared to change. God wants for us a sincere sorrow for our sins, which we show, above all, by going to Confession. Each of us should draw up a particular plan of mortification to offer to God each day of Lent.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

'Thank You' Lunch . . .

In all parishes there is a large group of volunteers who do a great deal to make sure that all runs smoothly in the parish.

St Ann's is no exception. I have said this many times before but I can never repeat it enough - THANK YOU for all your help. It would be impossible to run a busy parish like ours without your generous help in giving your time and talents in so many different areas of parish life.

It is difficult to know how to express my thanks to you all and in recent years, we have organised a lunch party as a small token of appreciation.

Inevitably, this also involves some of the 'helpers' helping on the day. I am especially grateful to the members of our Social Committee who helped serve the lunch and drinks today.

Here is the usual slideshow showing what an enjoyable time it was. Can you spot some familiar faces?

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

New lamps for old . . . .

No, not a cry from the lamp-seller in the well-known pantomime, Aladdin but the result of the completion of our new lighting project here at St Ann's!

For quite some time we have been hoping to replace our old, expensive to run church lighting with a new and improved scheme which would not only enhance the look of our church and be appropriate to the Masses and other liturgies celebrated here but which would also be energy efficient.

I'm pleased to be able to say that this objective has now been met and, thanks to the efficient and professional services of CES Lighting, our new lighting scheme is now up and running.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Greetings from Ireland on the Solemnity of the Epiphany . . .

My little break at home is coming to an end and I thought that I would drop by and let you know that I offered Mass for all in our parish today.

Here in Ireland, the Bishops have decided not to move the Solemnity of the Epiphany to the Sunday which means that the Mass I offered for your intentions was the Mass of the Solemnity.

I'm sure Fr McCarthy has been looking after you all very well in my absence and I look forward to being back with you all again very soon.

O God, who on this day
revealed your Only Begotten Son
to the nations
by the guidance of a star,
grant in your mercy
that we, who know you already
by faith,
may be brought to behold
the beauty of your sublime glory.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ,
your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(Collect from the Solemnity of the Epiphany)