Fr Dave's Blog

Our Lenten Journey – Week 5

Fifth Thursday of Lent


Psalm 129

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord,
Lord, hear my voice!
O let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleading.

If you, O Lord, should mark our guilt,
Lord, who would survive?
But with you is found forgiveness:
for this we revere you.

My soul is waiting for the Lord.
I count on God’s word.
My soul is longing for the Lord
more than those who watch for daybreak.

Because with the Lord there is mercy
and fullness of redemption,
Israel indeed God will redeem
from all its iniquity.

Fifth Wednesday of Lent

you will not fail today
to show me your face,
speak to my heart,
and touch my soul with healing…

You will not fail today
to walk by my side,
to show me the way,
and lead me to where your peace awaits…

You will not fail today, Lord,
to help me carry the burdens I bear,
to be the light in my darkness
and to offer some joy in my sadness…

You will not fail today
to give me what I need,
everything I need,
to come to this day’s end
in peace…

So, help me then not fail this day
to look for you
and listen for your word, Lord;
to open my heart
to your presence and touch;
to find you at my side, guiding my way
and lifting me up each time I fall…

Help me not fail today, Lord,
to find and accept
your saving presence in my life,
in my heart and in my prayer…

This is the day that you’ve made, Lord,
and you will not fail
to live and walk it with me:
help me not fail
to live and walk it with you…


(c) Fr Austin Fleming aka ‘Concord Pastor’

Fifth Tuesday of Lent


25 years ago today (20 March 1993), two bombs exploded in Warrington Town Centre killing two little boys – Tim Parry and Johnathan Ball – and injuring scores of other people.

Today, as we remember Tim and Johnathan and their families, together with all those who bear the scars of that terrible day, let us pray:

Loving God,
welcome into your arms the victims of violence and terrorism.
Comfort their families and all who grieve for them.
Help us in our fear and uncertainty,
and bless us with the knowledge that we are secure in your love.
Strengthen all those who work for peace,
and may the peace the world cannot give reign in our hearts.

(Picture:  ‘Fountain of Life’ erected in memorial to Johnathan Ball and Tim Parry in Bridge Street, Warrington)


Fifth Monday of Lent


More ideas from the Church of England’s Lent Plastic Challenge:

  1. Avoid wet wipes.  These contain plastic fibres so don’t break down like toilet roll, despite often being described as flushable.
  2. Acquire used necessary plastic items instead of new.  Check second-hand shops, Freecycle or Freegle.  Look for sharing groups locally.
  3. Avoid the Mini bar snacks and drinks.  Not only are they incredibly expensive, but they all come in plastic packages or bottles.  Even if you can’t avoid plastic entirely, you can resist single serving sizes.

Fifth Sunday of Lent (B)


Gospel  (John 12: 20-33)

Among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. These approached Philip, who came from Bethsaida in Galilee, and put this request to him, ‘Sir, we should like to see Jesus.’ Philip went to tell Andrew, and Andrew and Philip together went to tell Jesus. Jesus replied to them:

‘Now the hour has come
for the Son of Man to be glorified.
I tell you, most solemnly,
unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies,
it remains only a single grain;
but if it dies,
it yields a rich harvest.
Anyone who loves his life loses it;
anyone who hates his life in this world
will keep it for the eternal life.
If a man serves me, he must follow me,
wherever I am, my servant will be there too.
If anyone serves me, my Father will honour him.
Now my soul is troubled.
What shall I say:
Father, save me from this hour?
But it was for this very reason that I have come to this hour.
Father, glorify your name!’
 A voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ People standing by, who heard this, said it was a clap of thunder; others said, ‘It was an angel speaking to him.’ Jesus answered, ‘It was not for my sake that this voice came, but for yours.

‘Now sentence is being passed on this world;
now the prince of this world is to be overthrown.
And when I am lifted up from the earth,
I shall draw all men to myself.’
 By these words he indicated the kind of death he would die.

Pondering the Gospel

As I come to prayer, I ask the Lord to help me be aware of his welcoming presence, and to offer anything that burdens me into his hands.

In time, I read through the Gospel text prayerfully. I may like to place myself within the scene, sensing the hustle and bustle of Passover, the different nationalities and languages … Jesus and his disciples nearby. I stay here for a while, noticing what stirs for me.

Perhaps I stand with the Greeks, sensing their eagerness to meet Jesus. Who is the Jesus that I would like to encounter? Is there something I would like to say to him? I take time to do that now, trusting that he listens to me with the greatest love and compassion.

Is there anyone in my life who might be asking me to introduce them to Jesus? I ask the Lord to show me.

Jesus is clear about the challenges of life in his service – and also clear about the promised reward. I ponder the ways in which Jesus himself comes to us as a loving servant. How does it feel as he invites me to work alongside him, as servants together? Where might he be calling me to follow him this day, this week?

I ask for any grace that I need, and the courage to respond with an open and generous heart.

In time I end my prayer, giving thanks for all that the Lord has done for me.

(From St Beuno’s Outreach, Diocese of Wrexham)


Father in heaven,
the love of your Son led him to accept the suffering of the cross
that his brothers and sisters might glory in new life.
Change our selfishness into self-giving.
Help us to embrace the world you have given us,
that we may transform the darkness of its pain
into the life and joy of Easter.
Through Christ our Lord.

(c) 1973 International Committee on English in the Liturgy Corporation.

Our Lenten Journey – Week 4

Fourth Saturday of Lent

Update on the Crisis in Syria from CAFOD

As Syria’s civil war enters its eighth year, it remains the worst humanitarian crisis of our time.

According to the UN, the conflict has killed over 400,000 people and caused large-scale displacement. An estimated 6.1 million Syrians have been made homeless inside the country, and more than half the country’s pre-war population, 13.1 million people, are in need of urgent humanitarian aid – food, water, shelter and protection.

Over 5.4 million Syrians have registered as refugees in neighbouring countries.

What is happening in Ghouta?

The conflict has intensified over the last few weeks and months, with a horrifying situation unfolding in Eastern Ghouta. Hundreds of civilian deaths have been reported and the UN has said 400,000 people are trapped in the besieged neighbourhoods east of Damascus.

Alan Thomlinson, CAFOD’s Syria Crisis Programme Manager, said: “We are outraged that civilians are being targeted by attacks on residential areas around Damascus. The devastating bombardment in Eastern Ghouta and Damascus is a stark reminder to us all that the conflict is not over in Syria.”

God of Compassion,
hear the cries of the people of Syria,
comfort those who suffer violence,
console those who mourn the dead,
give strength to Syria’s neighbouring countries
to welcome the refugees,
convert the hearts of those who have taken up arms,
and protect those who are committed to peace.

God of hope,
inspire leaders to choose peace over violence
and to seek reconciliation with their enemies,
inflame the Universal Church with compassion
for the people of Syria,
and give us hope for a future built on justice for all.
We ask this through Jesus Christ,
the Prince of Peace and Light of the world.

Archbishop Samir Nassar of Damascus

Fourth Friday of Lent

Today, let’s pray the Lenten Psalm – Psalm 50 – usually prayed on Fridays in the Morning Prayer of the Church.


Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness.
In your compassion blot out my offence.
O wash me more and more from my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.

My offences truly I know them;
my sin is always before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned;
what is evil in your sight I have done.

That you may be justified when you give sentence
and be without reproach when you judge,
O see, in guilt I was born,
a sinner was I conceived.

Indeed you love truth in the heart;
then in the secret of my heart teach me wisdom.
O purify me, then I shall be clean;
O wash me, I shall be whiter than snow.

Make me hear rejoicing and gladness,
that the bones you have crushed may revive.
From my sins turn away your face
and blot out all my guilt.

A pure heart create for me, O God,
put a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
nor deprive me of your holy spirit.

Give me again the joy of your help;
with a spirit of fervour sustain me,
that I may teach transgressors your ways
and sinners may return to you.

O rescue me, God, my helper,
and my tongue shall ring out your goodness.
O Lord, open my lips
and my mouth shall declare your praise.

For in sacrifice you take no delight,
burnt offering from me you would refuse,
my sacrifice, a contrite spirit.
A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn.

In your goodness, show favour to Zion:
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will be pleased with lawful sacrifice,
holocausts offered on your altar.

Fourth Thursday of Lent

You call us to service;
to be your eyes and ears,
hands and voice in this your world.

To open our eyes not only
to the beauty and love which you create,
but the injustice,
hate and suffering that mankind generates.

To open our ears not only
to the chattering of this coming week,
but the searching,
fears and questioning of all whom we shall meet.

To open our hands not only
to those we choose our lives to share,
but in welcome,
love and fellowship to all who you draw near.

To open our mouths not only
to speak platitudes and simple words,
but the truths you lay upon our hearts.
Your Word for this your world.

You call us to service,
to be your eyes and ears,
hands and voice in this your world.

(c) 2016 John Birch

Fourth Wednesday of Lent


Over the past week, Lord,
I’ve found myself
sometimes feeling far away from you
and other times as close (or closer)
than ever I have been…

Though some days you seem distant
I know there’s not a moment,
day and night,
when you’re not by my side:
before me, behind me,
above me, below me,
within and beside me…

It’s your grace,
always your move, Lord,
that beckons,
calls me out of hiding,
sets me on the right path
and draws me home
into the warm embrace
of your strong and loving arms…

You never leave me, Lord
(you never have, you never will)
but I’ve a host of ways
to turn and hide from you,
from your word and from your truth,
closing my eyes
to your wisdom and counsel,
your guiding presence at my side…

For the times I’ve run away
(or tried to)
I ask your pardon, Lord,
and for the times you’ve brought me back
I give you thanks and praise…

Draw me close
when I’m inclined to lose my way
and let me never, never
be separated from you…


(c) Fr Austin Fleming aka ‘Concord Pastor’

Fourth Tuesday of Lent

Today, 13 March 2018, is the fifth anniversary of the election of Pope Francis.


God our Father, shepherd and guide,
look with love on Francis your servant,
the pastor of your Church.
May his word and example inspire and guide the Church,
and may he, and all those entrusted to his care,
come to the joy of everlasting life.
Through Christ our Lord.

“Giving thanks today on the 5th anniversary of the election of Pope Francis. The Holy Father has brought a pastors heart, an embrace of the most vulnerable and an example of Christ’s love to the entire world” (Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston).

Fourth Monday of Lent


More ideas from the Church of England’s Lent Plastic Challenge:

  1. Share your leftovers or unwanted food. Reduce waste by joining a food sharing network like Olio – check out their website.
  2. Choose natural fibres. Synthetic fabrics create microfibre pollution when washed. When buying new clothes look for organic cotton, wool and other natural fibres.
  3. Invest in quality. By doing so, you are minimising the demand for cheap items that end up in landfill. In the long run, it will save you money.

Fourth Sunday of Lent (B)


Gospel    (John 3: 14-21)

Jesus said to Nicodemus:

‘The Son of Man must be lifted up
as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.
Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost
but may have eternal life.
For God sent his Son into the world
not to condemn the world,
but so that through him the world might be saved.
No one who believes in him will be condemned;
but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already,
because he has refused to believe in the name of God’s only Son.
On these grounds is sentence pronounced:
that though the light has come into the world
men have shown they prefer darkness to the light
because their deeds were evil.
And indeed, everybody who does wrong
hates the light and avoids it,
for fear his actions should be exposed;
but the man who lives by the truth comes out into the light,
so that it may be plainly seen that what he does is done in God.’

Pondering the Gospel

Read today’s Gospel passage slowly.  After you’ve read it, think for a moment:  are there any words or phrases that stand out for you?  If not, perhaps read the passage again.

What is ‘Good News’ for you in this passage?

If you’re struggling, perhaps mull over these lines:

God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life.

For God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved.

Our Lenten Journey – Week 3

Third Saturday of Lent


Third Friday of Lent

Thinking about the readings for this coming Sunday, here’s the Second Reading – a beautiful passage from St Paul.

Ephesians 2: 4-10

God loved us with so much love that he was generous with his mercy: when we were dead through our sins, he brought us to life with Christ – it is through grace that you have been saved – and raised us up with him and gave us a place with him in heaven, in Christ Jesus.

This was to show for all ages to come, through his goodness towards us in Christ Jesus, how infinitely rich he is in grace. Because it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith; not by anything of your own, but by a gift from God; not by anything that you have done, so that nobody can claim the credit. We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning he had meant us to live it.


Third Thursday of Lent


The Examen is a way of reviewing the day by St Ignatius Loyola – a time set aside to notice, in particular, the presence of God with me during the day.  There are five steps.  The whole exercise takes about 15 minutes.

  1. Ask God for light – to look at the day with God’s eyes, not just my own.
  2. Give thanks for the day – it has been a gift from God to me.
  3. Review the day – guided by the Holy Spirit, slowly look back over the day.
  4. Face your shortcomings – I recognise what is wrong in my life and in me.
  5. Look toward the day to come – I ask for God to be with me in the day to come.


Third Wednesday of Lent


Slow me down, Lord…

Especially when I can’t stop this merry-go-round on my own:
slow me down…

When my head and heart are filled with noise,
slow me down and show me a path to a quiet place…

When I’m standing still but moving at 60 inside,
put the brakes on and bring me to a stop by your side,
in a place where I can hear my own breathing
and the breath of your Spirit within me…

Help me hear my heart beat
and to trust that you listen to every beat…

Help me savour the silence
and find peace within it
and peace within my soul…

Help me make the time to find the calm,
to find the quiet I need
to hear the birds sing, the tide come in,
the sun rise and the moon wax full in the skies above…

Let me find the time, Lord, for the rhythms of my life
to slow down and rock me not to sleep but to peace,
to that serenity that only you can give…

Let this place and time of prayer become for me
a wellspring of sweet waters for a thirsty heart,
a place where I will want to come often, every day,
to draw and drink from its depths,
to slake my thirst for what truly satisfies
and gives me life…

Bring me to a quiet place, Lord,
wherever in my day that may be
and let me find the time to sit with you there
to drink in the peace that’s only yours to give…

Help me to be still, Lord,
that I might know that you are God,
that I might know that you are near…

(c) Fr Austin Fleming aka ‘Concord Pastor’

Third Tuesday of Lent

Today’s First Reading is the Prayer of Azariah.  Azariah prays to God on behalf of the community – begging forgiveness for the sins of the people.

Azariah recognised God as gentle and very merciful.  As we come to know our Lord, we discover the same.  We can always come to him with our burden of sin, knowing that he will understand, forgive and help us to get back on the right road again.

Daniel 3: 25, 34-43

Azariah stood in the heart of the fire, and he began to pray:

Oh! Do not abandon us for ever,
for the sake of your name;
do not repudiate your covenant,
do not withdraw your favour from us,
for the sake of Abraham, your friend,
of Isaac your servant,
and of Israel your holy one,
to whom you promised descendants as countless as the stars of heaven
and as the grains of sand on the seashore.
Lord, now we are the least of all the nations,
now we are despised throughout the world, today, because of our sins.
We have at this time no leader, no prophet, no prince,
no holocaust, no sacrifice, no oblation, no incense,
no place where we can offer you the first-fruits
and win your favour.
But may the contrite soul, the humbled spirit be as acceptable to you
as holocausts of rams and bullocks,
as thousands of fattened lambs:
such let our sacrifice be to you today,
and may it be your will that we follow you wholeheartedly,
since those who put their trust in you will not be disappointed.
And now we put our whole heart into following you,
into fearing you and seeking your face once more.
Do not disappoint us;
treat us gently, as you yourself are gentle
and very merciful.
Grant us deliverance worthy of your wonderful deeds,
let your name win glory, Lord.

Third Monday of Lent


More ideas from the Church of England’s Lent Plastic Challenge:

  1. Disposable razors and razor blades are two of the biggest contributors to plastic waste. Why not think about using a razor with removable blades.
  2. Fresh food markets are not only often cheaper and fresher than supermarkets, but they sell fruit and vegetables loose. Why not try and do some of your shopping at markets – don’t forget to take your reusable bags!
  3. Buy fresh bread that comes in either paper bags or no bags. This eliminates plastic wrapping waste from shop bought bread and you help support local businesses.

Third Sunday of Lent (B)

This year, the First Readings on the Sundays of Lent recall the covenants God made with his people in the Old Testament.  So, on the First Sunday of Lent, we heard how God made a covenant with Noah.  Last Sunday, we heard about the covenant God made with Abraham.  Today, we hear about the covenant God made with Moses in the form of Ten Commandments.


Exodus 20: 1-3, 7-8, 12-17

God spoke all these words. He said, ‘I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
‘You shall have no gods except me.
‘You shall not utter the name of the Lord your God to misuse it, for the Lord will not leave unpunished the man who utters his name to misuse it.
‘Honour your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the Lord your God has given to you.
‘You shall not kill.
‘You shall not commit adultery.
‘You shall not steal.
‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
‘You shall not covet your neighbour’s house. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his servant, man or woman, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is his.’


I don’t think any of us could quibble with any of those commandments.  They make sense and they’ve stood the test of time.  But they’re more than a list of rules.  They show us how to live in relationship with God and other people.  They can also be summed up in Christ’s new commandment, which we will celebrate on Holy Thursday evening – ‘love one another as I have loved you’.


God of the covenant,
you are full of compassion and faithfulness,
slow to anger and abounding in love.
In Jesus, your word to us was always “yes”
and in him we hear the yes to all your promises.
Open our hearts that we respond to your great gifts
so that all we do and say and are
may be a yes to you from the depths of our hearts.


Our Lenten Journey – Week 2

Second Saturday of Lent

A thought about fasting from Pope Francis:

“Fasting makes us more alert and attentive to God and our neighbour, and reminds us that He alone can satisfy our hunger.”

Second Friday of Lent

Today, the first Friday in March, is Women’s World Day of Prayer.

World Day of Prayer is:
• A worldwide prayer movement
• The largest ecumenical movement in the world
• Involving women and men of all ages and denominations
• Encouraging informed prayer and prayerful action 365 days of the year
• A voice for women in countries where they have no other voice
• Part of a huge unstoppable wave of prayer on one special day each year

This year’s Prayer Service has the theme “All God’s Creation is Very Good!” It is written by the Christian women of Suriname who focus on creation and our responsibility to care and look after it.


In the beginning, God created from chaos. But everything that was created found its place in creation. All were related to each other – the earth with the light, the waters with the sky, the tree seeds with the living creatures, and humankind with God. None could exist without the other, and the source of all was God. There was goodness in that integrated system of relationships. But essential to that was the commitment to care. And we know that we are failing!

Women from Suriname lift up their voices to remind us that we are caretakers of God’s creation! They are bringing to our attention the urgent need for caring at a time when more than 180 countries have signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. A commitment to keep the earth cooler depends on public policies implemented by governments, but also on our personal lifestyle.

How good is God’s creation? That is the question to meditate and respond to with a personal commitment to care for creation. What is it that we can do to keep God’s creation good?

Second Thursday of Lent


For each step that we might take:
Be our guide, O Lord of life.
For each load that we might bear:
Be our strength, O Lord of life.
For each mountain we might face:
Be our power, O Lord of life.
For each river that might impede:
Be our safety, O Lord of life.
For each place where we might rest:
Be our peace, O Lord of life.
For each sunrise and sunset:
Be our joy, O Lord of life.

Copyright © John Birch, 2016

Second Wednesday of Lent

Simply this…


Second Tuesday of Lent

Today’s First Reading (cf. Isaiah 1: 10, 16-20) begins by reminding us that social justice is integral to religion:

Hear the word of the Lord,
you rulers of Sodom;
listen to the command of our God,
you people of Gomorrah.
‘Wash, make yourselves clean.
Take your wrong-doing out of my sight.
Cease to do evil.
Learn to do good,
search for justice,
help the oppressed,
be just to the orphan,
plead for the widow.’

The second part of the reading reminds us of God’s forgiveness:

‘Come now, let us talk this over,
says the Lord.
Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
‘If you are willing to obey,
you shall eat the good things of the earth.
But if you persist in rebellion,
the sword shall eat you instead.’


Second Monday of Lent


Some months ago, Sky News launched ‘Ocean Rescue’ – a campaign to tackle the overwhelming amount of plastic pollution threatening our seas and wildlife.  If things go on as they are, by 2050 there could well be more plastic than fish (by weight) in our seas!

Plastic bags and produce bags in particular are often used for minutes before being discarded. Most plastic bags are not recycled and either end up in landfills or on the street or in the sea.  When you go shopping, instead of buying a plastic bag, why not take a reusable bag with you?  It’s a little thing, but if we all did it, it would make a massive difference.

Second Sunday of Lent (B)



Gospel  (Mark 9: 2-10)

Jesus took with him Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone by themselves. There in their presence he was transfigured: his clothes became dazzlingly white, whiter than any earthly bleacher could make them. Elijah appeared to them with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. Then Peter spoke to Jesus: ‘Rabbi,’ he said ‘it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ He did not know what to say; they were so frightened. And a cloud came, covering them in shadow; and there came a voice from the cloud, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.’ Then suddenly, when they looked round, they saw no one with them any more but only Jesus.

As they came down from the mountain he warned them to tell no one what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. They observed the warning faithfully, though among themselves they discussed what ‘rising from the dead’ could mean.

Praying with the Gospel

As I come to my place of prayer, I remember that God gazes on me with great compassion, mercy and love.

I begin slowly, taking time to come to stillness in the presence of God, in whatever way is right for me. I ask the Holy Spirit to help me as I pray. I do not rush.

When I am ready, I read the words of the Gospel. I may like to imagine being led up the mountain by Jesus, with the apostles.

What is it like for us to be alone with Jesus?

As Jesus reveals the glory that is his as the Son of God, I listen to Peter’s reaction. How do I respond to Jesus? I share with him.

I hear the voice say, “This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.” What does the Lord Jesus want me to know and understand as I listen to him today? Perhaps I ask him.

As I come back to my daily life from my place of prayer, how am I called to respond to others? For what grace do I need to pray?

Towards the end of my time of prayer, I take a few moments to notice how I am thinking and feeling now. I share with the Lord.

I end my prayer slowly, giving thanks.

(From St Beuno’s Outreach, Diocese of Wrexham)

Our Lenten Journey – Week 1

First Saturday of Lent

Circle us, Lord
Circle us with the light of your presence within this dark world
Enable us to be overcomers of fear and temptation
Enable us to be victors over sin and despair
Enable us to become that which you would desire
Lord of creation, Lord of Salvation
Circle us with the light of your presence

Circle us, Lord
Circle our family within the shelter of your outstretched arms
Protect them in each moment of their daily lives
Protect them in the decisions that they face
Protect their homes and relationships
Lord of creation, Lord of Salvation
Circle our families with the light of your presence

Circle us, Lord
Circle this world with the joy of your Salvation
Where there is sickness and disease bring healing
Where there is hunger and despair bring hope
Where there is torture and oppression bring release
Lord of creation, Lord of Salvation
Circle this world with the light of your presence

© John Birch 2016

First Friday of Lent

Today, we are invited to fast and pray.

It’s CAFOD’s Lent Fast Day – one of two fast days in the year that help to fund the official aid agency for the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

Pope Francis has invited all people of goodwill to join him today in a Day of Fasting and Prayer for the war-torn people of the Democratic Republic of Congo and of South Sudan.



Everlasting God,
we give you thanks
for you nourish and strengthen us with your merciful love.
Give us this day our daily bread.

We pray for those who hunger in scorched lands,
with no food for their children.
Together, we cry out for justice.
Give us this day our daily bread.

Help us to share generously as one global family,
and to hold onto hope for a world transformed.
Bread of life,
we pray your people
may find life and joy in all its fullness.

(By Rachel McCarthy/CAFOD)


First Thursday of Lent

Today’s Scriptures give us the beautiful Psalm, ‘The Lord’s my shepherd’:

Psalm 22(23)
The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I shall want.
Fresh and green are the pastures
where he gives me repose.
Near restful waters he leads me,
to revive my drooping spirit.

He guides me along the right path;
he is true to his name.
If I should walk in the valley of darkness
no evil would I fear.
You are there with your crook and your staff;
with these you give me comfort.

You have prepared a banquet for me
in the sight of my foes.
My head you have anointed with oil;
my cup is overflowing.

Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me
all the days of my life.
In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell
for ever and ever.


First Wednesday of Lent

Today’s Psalm is part of the Lenten Psalm – Psalm 50.  Why not make it your prayer for today?

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness.
In your compassion blot out my offence.
O wash me more and more from my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.

A pure heart create for me, O God,
put a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
nor deprive me of your holy spirit.

For in sacrifice you take no delight,
burnt offering from me you would refuse,
my sacrifice, a contrite spirit.
A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn.

First Tuesday of Lent

Today’s Gospel gives us the prayer we now know as ‘the Lord’s Prayer’:


Jesus said to his disciples: ‘In your prayers do not babble as the pagans do, for they think that by using many words they will make themselves heard. Do not be like them; your Father knows what you need before you ask him. So you should pray like this:

‘Our Father in heaven,
may your name be held holy,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven those who are in debt to us.
And do not put us to the test,
but save us from the evil one.

 ‘Yes, if you forgive others their failings, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours; but if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive your failings either.’

(Matthew 6: 7-15)


Today why not pray the Lord’s Prayer, but stop at the end of each line for a moment and think about the words you’ve just said before moving on to the next line.

First Monday of Lent

In yesterday’s First Reading, God made a covenant with Noah.  But the covenant wasn’t just with Noah, it was with Noah and ‘every living creature of every kind’ (cf. Genesis 9: 8-15).  Plastic waste is not only harming our environment, but is killing marine life and causing suffering to many of God’s creatures. So, today, something from the Church of England’s Lent Plastic Challenge.

Give up disposable cups and drinks in plastic bottles.  Carry a travel mug or water bottle. Get a reusable bottle, fill it up with tap water before leaving the house, and refill it wherever you happen to be.



First Sunday of Lent (B)


Gospel  (Mark 1: 12-15)

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness and he remained there for forty days, and was tempted by Satan. He was with the wild beasts, and the angels looked after him.

After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’


The season of Lent could be seen as our time in the wilderness – a kind of annual retreat – forty days to give something up or do something extra to help us to get back into shape as Christians.

Have I decided how to use this special time, or am I still wondering what would help me to come a little closer to the Lord?  If you’re still undecided, why not talk to the Lord about it – ask him to guide and inspire you.


God our Father,
as we begin our Lenten journey,
help us to use this time
to become more like your Son, Jesus Christ,
who is Lord for ever and ever.

Our Lenten Journey – Introduction

Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Lord Jesus, when I am sad and depressed,
help me think of you praying in the garden.

Lord Jesus, when I am fearful,
help me to think of you being taken prisoner.

Lord Jesus, when I am ill,
help me to think of you being scourged at the pillar.

Lord Jesus, when I have a headache,
help me to think of you wearing the crown of thorns.

Lord Jesus, when I am tired,
help me to think of you carrying the cross for love of me.

Lord Jesus, when I am humiliated,
help me to think of you being stripped of your garments.

Lord Jesus, when I am in pain,
help me to think of you being nailed to the cross.

Lord Jesus, when I am lonely,
help me to think of you hanging on the cross.

Lord Jesus, when I am dying,
help me to think of you dying on the cross for love of me.

Lord Jesus, help me to remember
how much you suffered for love of me,
and help me to love you more and more.


(From CAFOD’s Lenten Meditation)


Friday after Ash Wednesday

Today’s First Reading (cf. Isaiah 58:1-9) describes the kind of fasting that pleases the Lord:

Thus says the Lord:
‘Look, you do business on your fast-days,
you oppress all your workmen;
look, you quarrel and squabble when you fast
and strike the poor man with your fist.

Fasting like yours today
will never make your voice heard on high.
Is that the sort of fast that pleases me,
a truly penitential day for men?

Hanging your head like a reed,
lying down on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call fasting,
a day acceptable to the Lord?

Is not this the sort of fast that pleases me
– it is the Lord who speaks –
to break unjust fetters and
undo the thongs of the yoke,

to let the oppressed go free,
and break every yoke,
to share your bread with the hungry,
and shelter the homeless poor,

to clothe the man you see to be naked
and not turn from your own kin?
Then will your light shine like the dawn
and your wound be quickly healed over.

Your integrity will go before you
and the glory of the Lord behind you.
Cry, and the Lord will answer;
call, and he will say, ‘I am here.’


Thursday after Ash Wednesday

An excerpt from today’s First Reading (cf. Deuteronomy 30:15-20) to ponder:

Moses said to the people… ‘If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I enjoin on you today, if you love the Lord your God and follow his ways, if you keep his commandments, his laws, his customs, you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to make your own. But if your heart strays, if you refuse to listen, if you let yourself be drawn into worshipping other gods and serving them, I tell you today, you will most certainly perish.’



Ash Wednesday

Today’s First Reading (cf. Joel 2: 12-18) contains an invitation to each one of us from our Lord: “Now, now – it is the Lord who speaks – come back to me with all your heart.”

The season of Lent is about responding to that invitation – coming back to our Lord “for he is all tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in graciousness, and ready to relent.”

How do I want to respond to the Lord’s invitation to me this Lent?


6th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Mark 1: 40-45

A leper came to Jesus and pleaded on his knees: ‘If you want to’ he said ‘you can cure me.’ Feeling sorry for him, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. ‘Of course I want to!’ he said. ‘Be cured!’ And the leprosy left him at once and he was cured. Jesus immediately sent him away and sternly ordered him, ‘Mind you say nothing to anyone, but go and show yourself to the priest, and make the offering for your healing prescribed by Moses as evidence of your recovery.’ The man went away, but then started talking about it freely and telling the story everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer go openly into any town, but had to stay outside in places where nobody lived. Even so, people from all around would come to him.



The Gospel reading reminds us of Jesus’s concern for the sick and for those who are excluded by illness or medical condition from taking a full part in society or the Church.

Jesus demonstrates his power over the dreadful affliction of leprosy by curing the sick man. He was not afraid to reach out and touch the leper. This gesture in itself is quite an amazing thing to do because we so often step back from our brothers and sisters who have a disease or need assistance. Jesus shows how to relate to such people who need our help, and to do it willingly.

After the man had been freed from leprosy, despite being told to keep these events to himself, he started telling his story everywhere – and who can blame him? The twist in the story comes at the end when roles are reversed. The leper would have had to live outside the town because of his condition but can now take his place among others, while Jesus who had moved around freely, preaching his message of salvation now has ‘to stay outside in places where nobody lived’. The act of reaching out to the leper has cost Jesus his freedom, soon it will cost him his life.

(Archbishop Malcolm McMahon)



O God,
in Jesus you stretch out your hand to touch the unclean,
to love the unlovely,
and to draw even the most despised and excluded
into the circle of your beloved disciples and friends.
Embraced by such love,
make us eager to reach out to others
in welcome, love and mercy.
Through Christ our Lord.

(Adapted from ‘Prayers for Sundays and Seasons’ by Peter J Scagnelli)



Thinking about what to do for Lent?  See this week’s newsletter for ideas for adults and children.

5th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)


Mark 1: 29-39

On leaving the synagogue, Jesus went with James and John straight to the house of Simon and Andrew. Now Simon’s mother-in-law had gone to bed with fever, and they told him about her straightaway. He went to her, took her by the hand and helped her up. And the fever left her and she began to wait on them.

That evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were sick and those who were possessed by devils. The whole town came crowding round the door, and he cured many who were suffering from diseases of one kind or another; he also cast out many devils, but he would not allow them to speak, because they knew who he was.

In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. Simon and his companions set out in search of him, and when they found him they said, ‘Everybody is looking for you.’ He answered, ‘Let us go elsewhere, to the neighbouring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came.’ And he went all through Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out devils.



Today’s Gospel completes a picture of Jesus’ ministry: preaching, curing the sick, driving out demons, and then moving on to continue this work in another place. Mark’s Gospel tells us that Jesus did this throughout Galilee.

Jesus’ compassion and healing of the sick is a sign of the Kingdom of God. The Church continues to extend Christ’s healing presence to others in its ministry to the sick. In the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, the Church prays for spiritual and physical healing, forgiveness of sins, and comfort for those who are suffering from illness.

In today’s Gospel we also notice the importance of prayer in Jesus’ daily life. Jesus rose early in the morning, removed himself from the crowds, and went to a deserted place to pray. When the disciples found him, he told them that it was time to move on. We believe that in his prayers Jesus found guidance and direction from God. We also bring our decision-making to God in prayer, asking for his guidance and direction in our lives.

(From ‘Loyola Press – A Jesuit Ministry’)


Out of your power and compassion, O God,
you sent your Son into our afflicted world
to proclaim the day of salvation.

Heal the broken-hearted;
bind up our wounds,
bring us health of body and spirit
and raise to us to new life in your service.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

4th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)


Mark 1: 21-28

Jesus and his disciples went as far as Capernaum, and as soon as the Sabbath came he went to the synagogue and began to teach. And his teaching made a deep impression on them because, unlike the scribes, he taught them with authority.

In their synagogue just then there was a man possessed by an unclean spirit and it shouted, ‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus said sharply, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit threw the man into convulsions and with a loud cry went out of him. The people were so astonished that they started asking each other what it all meant. ‘Here is a teaching that is new’ they said ‘and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.’ And his reputation rapidly spread everywhere, through all the surrounding Galilean countryside.


Praying with the Gospel

You might like to ponder this miraculous healing using your imagination in prayer.

First, enter into this time of prayer gently.  Try to become calm as you read the text slowly a few times.

Then carefully set the scene…  pay particular attention to Jesus as he teaches…  note how his teaching makes a deep impression on the crowd…  why is this? … what impact does he have on you? …

Then, watch as he deals with the man in the synagogue…  ‘I know who you are’, says the evil spirit.  Who is Jesus for you? …

The people respond to the healing with astonishment.  How do you respond? … What do you make of Jesus’s authority? …

Jesus’ words are manifested through powerful deeds so that his fame spreads throughout Galilee.  As you listen to Jesus and watch his actions, what do you sense arising within you? …

Do you feel that Jesus may want to speak with you now?  What do you wish to say to him?  Give what time you can to this dialogue from the heart.  You can trust this ‘Holy One of God’…

Then end this time of prayer by slowly making sign of the cross.

(Adapted from St Beuno’s Outreach in the Diocese of Wrexham)

Concluding Prayer

Lord our God,
help us to love you with all our hearts
and to love all people as you love them.
Through Christ our Lord.Amen.

3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)


Mark 1: 14-20

After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’

As he was walking along by the Sea of Galilee he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net in the lake – for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make your fishers of men.’ And at once they left their nets and followed him.

Going on a little further, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they too were in their boat, mending their nets. He called them at once and, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the men he employed, they went after him.


Praying through the Gospel

I read this text quietly from the heart. I allow words or phrases to touch me.
I let myself be drawn by what moves me.
It is the living Word, the Good News that Christ himself gives…

As I read, I might be impressed by the response of the disciples to the call of Jesus from the shore. It is whole-hearted.
Perhaps I am struck by the pace of the text.
Jesus says the time has come, and calls on the people to repent and believe.
He calls the disciples and they follow immediately.
I ponder on the ready trust they show in Jesus and on the trust he shows in them…

I might like to reflect upon the same Christ calling my name from the shore of my own life.
How does his voice sound?
Does it ring clear, or does it have to compete with other voices demanding my attention, investment, and commitment?
How does this voice console me? …

I end my prayer by pondering this message of Good News.
I talk to Christ in my own words, asking that it sink down into the deepest part of my heart and soul; that I might really believe and trust…

(Prepared by St Beuno’s Outreach in the Diocese of Wrexham)


Concluding Prayer

Your sovereign rule, O God,
draws near to us
in the person of Jesus your Son.
Your word summons us to faith;
your power transforms our lives.

Free us to follow in Christ’s footsteps,
so that neither human loyalty
nor earthly attachment
may hold us back from answering your call.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.Amen.

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