Fr Dave's Blog

6th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)

INAUGURATION OF SYNOD 2020

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Two weeks ago, on Sunday 3 February, the Archbishop inaugurated Synod 2020 during a special service in the Cathedral.  In his homily, the Archbishop reflected on the Gospel chosen for the occasion – the Presentation of Jesus in the temple.  Archbishop Malcolm shared some profound reflections and offered great hope for the Church.  His homily is well worth reading.

Homily preached by The Most Reverend Malcolm McMahon OP, Archbishop of Liverpool, at the Service for the Opening of Synod 2020 on Sunday 3 February 2019 in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool.

On my desk I have a statue of St Joseph holding a pair a of turtle doves, the modest sacrifice of the poor. This was the offering that Mary and Joseph made when they journeyed to the temple in Jerusalem to fulfil the Law of Moses in Mary’s purification and Jesus’s presentation. It reminds me that we are to be the Church of the poor, poor people as the servants of the poor. Jesus was a poor preacher with nowhere to lay his head, and it is with that in mind that we step forward together on the road to Synod 2020.

In the Gospel reading from St Luke which we have just listened to, Mary and Joseph after the completion of their rituals were met by an old man named Simeon. He is described as a holy man, devoted to prayer and waiting for the consolation of Israel. He was part of a group known as the ‘quiet ones’, who sought in prayer the hope of salvation. They had no interest in political or military solutions to the sorrows of their people. They chose prayer as the best route to the future hope.

The Holy Spirit filled this man and revealed to him that he would see the Messiah before he died. The Spirit brought him to the temple that day and led him to the couple who held Jesus in their arms. He took the child into his own arms and began to sing. The song he sings is the death song of an old man, but it is filled with hope because he has completed his purpose in life by seeing Jesus. He found the child in the arms of poor people making the offering of the poor. In the sunset of his life he encountered the sunrise of the poor. In the evening of his life, he was fortunate enough to behold a new day.

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And what does Simeon prophesy? What does Simeon say when he picks up Jesus into his arms? Simeon doesn’t say I have seen the Messiah; instead he says, I have seen God’s salvation. And this salvation is not just for the Jews but for all people. And then he goes on to explain that many will be divided over Jesus. He will be a sign of contradiction: many will listen and follow, and many will reject Him, to the point Mary herself will be wounded in her heart because of what happens to her Son.

From Simeon he heard the first human hymn that was composed out of love for him. Simeon could go in peace because he had seen the Saviour of the world. Let us reflect now where we are up to in our journey to Synod 2020. We have been the quiet ones. We have prayed as an Archdiocese for over a year, quietly before the Blessed Sacrament. We hold in our arms the ‘salvation which has been prepared for all the nations to see’. We are the poor making an offering in the Mass of the poor Son of God, and we pray that we will have our eyes opened and our ears unstopped so that we can see further and hear more acutely as we form our vision for the Church in Liverpool. We have learnt that it sometimes takes the vision of an old person to show us that what we sometimes see as old and worn out is often the beginning of something new. The sun is not setting on the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Liverpool, but a new day is breaking, a new dawn is rising. This view is the vision of Simeon and it has to be our view too.

Maybe we can ask Simeon, the prophet, to help us remove the evening and the night from our eyes and see brightly as we enter upon the road together towards Synod 2020. As we hear Simeon’s song our vision is changed. When we listen to each other our vision will be changed too. We believe that because we are baptised the Spirit of God lives in us; that is the spirit of Jesus whom Simeon cradled in his arms; that is why this change will happen within each of us. God’s spirit can change words into understanding, sounds into sight and song into a clear vision of the future.

It is with confidence then that we can look to the future as walk together on the road ahead of us.

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If I may digress for moment. the Letter to the Hebrews tells us: ‘By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. For he looked forward to the city that has its foundations, whose architect and builder is God.’ (Hebrews 11:8‑10)

When Gregory of Nyssa comments on this passage, he says that it was only when Abraham did not know where he was going that he knew he was going the right way. We are all sons and daughters of Abraham, so maybe the same is true of us. We often do not know where we are going, but maybe that is when we know we are going in the right direction.

Let us return to Simeon: we are not to be downhearted by Simeon’s prediction that there will be suffering and pain in store for Jesus, and that Mary will suffer as a result, just like any mother. It takes another old person who happened to be passing by, a prophetess called Anna, to cheer us up. We may surmise that she had a great smile on her face as she embraced Mary and Joseph and praised God for their child and spoke of Jesus to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

We can learn from Anna that to speak of God to others is to praise him, and in praising him we will be filled with joy.

The journey ahead towards Synod 2020 may seem long and arduous, and there will be many diversions and setbacks, but with the hope of Simeon and Anna in our hearts we will come to a new vision for our Archdiocese and it will be transformed into the Church that we are called to be.

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More news about the Synod next week.

 

 


5th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)

Gospel  (Luke 5: 1-11)

Jesus was standing one day by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the crowd pressing round him listening to the word of God, when he caught sight of two boats close to the bank. The fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats – it was Simon’s – and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.

When he had finished speaking he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch.’ ‘Master,’ Simon replied, ‘we worked hard all night long and caught nothing, but if you say so, I will pay out the nets.’ And when they had done this they netted such a huge number of fish that their nets began to tear, so they signalled to their companions in the other boat to come and help them; when these came, they filled the two boats to sinking point.

When Simon Peter saw this he fell at the knees of Jesus saying, ‘Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man.’ For he and all his companions were completely overcome by the catch they had made; so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were Simon’s partners. But Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on it is men you will catch.’ Then, bringing their boats back to land, they left everything and followed him.

(From ‘The Jerusalem Bible’ © 1966 by Darton Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd)

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Reflection

I take time to read this passage slowly and prayerfully, conscious that the Lord is here right now, desiring my company, wherever I may be.

Perhaps I am inspired to place myself in the scene … watching how Jesus talks to the crowds … noticing his invitation to Simon Peter … his words of reassurance and affirmation … the response that he inspires.

What particularly touches me in this passage?

Jesus uses Peter’s everyday skills to do something unexpected and remarkable … made possible because Peter trusts his invitation. I ponder the ways in which God can use my ordinary gifts to do extraordinary things.

Might God be inviting me, like Peter, to launch out into ‘deeper water’, even if at first I think there might be no purpose?

I speak to the Lord as to a trusted friend, and listen for his response. Is there anything I need to let go of to help me follow Jesus with greater freedom? I ask for any help I need.

When I am ready, I end my prayer in gratitude: Glory be …

(Adapted from Prego (c) St Beuno’s Outreach, Diocese of Wrexham)

Prayer

In faith and love we ask you, Father,
to watch over your family gathered here.
In your mercy and loving kindness
no thought of ours is left unguarded,
no tear unheeded, no joy unnoticed.
Through the prayer of Jesus
may the blessings promised to the poor in spirit
lead us to the treasures of your kingdom.
Through Christ our Lord.

(From the English translation of ‘The Roman Missal’ © 1973 International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved)


4th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)

Today’s Second Reading is St Paul’s hymn to love – a passage that is well-know to most of us.  Here’s an extract:

1 Corinthians 13 :4-8

Love is always patient and kind;
it is never jealous;
love is never boastful or conceited;
it is never rude or selfish;
it does not take offence, and is not resentful.
Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth;
it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.
Love does not come to an end.

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Reflection

I can’t think of a better description of love than that.

Someone once suggested reading the passage but replacing the word ‘love’ with ‘God’.  So:

God is always patient and kind; 
God is never jealous; 
God is never boastful or conceited; 
God is never rude or selfish; 
God does not take offence, and is not resentful. 
God takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth; 
God is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.
God does not come to an end.

How does it feel to hear God described like that?

Someone else suggested reading the passage but replacing the word ‘love’ with ‘I’.  So:

I am always patient and kind; 
I am never jealous; 
I am never boastful or conceited; 
I am never rude or selfish; 
I do not take offence, and I am not resentful. 
I take no pleasure in other people’s sins but delight in the truth; 
I am always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.
I do not come to an end.

How does it feel to say those words?

Prayer

Lord, help me to love like you love.
Help me to be patient and kind;
not to be jealous, boastful, conceited,
rude or selfish;
not to take offence or be resentful.
Help me not to take pleasure on other people’s sins,
but to delight in the truth.
Help me to be ready to excuse, to trust, to hope,
and to endure whatever comes.
Lord, help me to love like you.

Fr Dave

 


3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)

Gospel  (Luke 1: 1-4, 4: 14-21)

Seeing that many others have undertaken to draw up accounts of the events that have taken place among us, exactly as these were handed down to us by those who from the outset were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, I in my turn, after carefully going over the whole story from the beginning, have decided to write an ordered account for you, Theophilus, so that your Excellency may learn how well founded the teaching is that you have received.

Jesus, with the power of the Spirit in him, returned to Galilee; and his reputation spread throughout the countryside. He taught in their synagogues and everyone praised him.

He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day as he usually did. He stood up to read and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written:

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me,
for he has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor,
to proclaim liberty to captives
and to the blind new sight,
to set the downtrodden free,
to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.
 

He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to speak to them, ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’

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Prayer

As I begin my prayer, I try to relax and focus my attention on my regular breathing. I may close my eyes or gaze at a candle. Gently, I slow down and become aware of being in God’s presence.

When I am ready, I read the text carefully a couple of times.

Perhaps I can imagine Jesus in the synagogue setting. The people know him, he comes here every Sabbath. But now he returns, having gained attention elsewhere in Galilee for his teaching and preaching.

As one of the crowd, what am I expecting from this familiar, but now renowned, Jesus?

As I listen to the words of Isaiah spoken in Jesus’s own voice, do they strike me anew? Does Jesus read gently or forcefully? What, in particular, causes me to pause?

This is not an abstract message – what is it saying to me today? How can I live out something of this message as his disciple?

I spend some time pondering this with the Lord and talking to him.

I give thanks for the many ways I see others putting Jesus’s words into practice around me.

I end my prayer with the ‘Glory be’.

(From ‘The Prego’ by St Beuno’s Jesuit Spirituality Centred, North Wales)


2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)

Gospel  (John 2: 1-11)

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. The mother of Jesus was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited. When they ran out of wine, since the wine provided for the wedding was all finished, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ Jesus said ‘Woman, why turn to me? My hour has not come yet.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ There were six stone water jars standing there, meant for the ablutions that are customary among the Jews: each could hold twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’, and they filled them to the brim. ‘Draw some out now’ he told them ‘and take it to the steward.’ They did this; the steward tasted the water, and it had turned into wine. Having no idea where it came from – only the servants who had drawn the water knew – the steward called the bridegroom and said, ‘People generally serve the best wine first, and keep the cheaper sort till the guests have had plenty to drink; but you have kept the best wine till now.’

This was the first of the signs given by Jesus: it was given at Cana in Galilee. He let his glory be seen, and his disciples believed in him.

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Reflection

“Mary, at the very moment she perceives that there is no wine, approaches Jesus with confidence: this means that Mary prays. She goes to Jesus, she prays. She does not go to the steward, she immediately tells her Son of the newlyweds’ problem. The response she receives seems disheartening: “What does it have to do with you and me? My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4). But she nonetheless places the problem in God’s hands. Her deep concern to meet the needs of others hastens Jesus’ hour.

“And Mary was a part of that hour, from the cradle to the cross. She was able “to turn a stable into a home for Jesus, with poor swaddling clothes and an abundance of love” (Evangelii Gaudium, 286). She accepted us as her sons and daughters when the sword pierced her heart. She teaches us to put our families in God’s hands; she teaches us to pray, to kindle the hope, which shows us that our concerns are also God’s concerns.”

(Pope Francis, Homily in Ecuador on 6 July 2015)

A Prayer for the UK

“In this time of turmoil…

We pray for the Prime Minister and Party Leaders
as they negotiate the political future of our nation:
Father, give them your wisdom and vision.

We pray for all in Parliament as they represent their communities:
Jesus, give them your humility and strength.

We pray for the media as they interpret events for the nation:
Holy Spirit, give them your truth and compassion.

We pray for ourselves as we show your love to our neighbours:
May we speak hope, embody courage and model unity in diversity.

Almighty God, we place our trust in you:
For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory,
now and forever, Amen.”

(By Carla Harding, National Director for 24-7 Prayer Great Britain)

unity

Prayer for Peace Sunday and Christian Unity

R.  Help us to sow the seeds of peace and justice.

In a world crying out for love but still filled with too much hatred and violence. R.
In a country that speaks of equality but often fails to live up to that promise. R.
In our communities in which some people are considered worth less than others. R.
In our churches where we often neglect Jesus’ teaching of compassion. R.
In our families when words or deeds hurt each other. R.
In ourselves, when we are tempted by the world to desire more and to neglect what really matters. R.

(From ‘The Way of Peace: Exploring Nonviolence for the 21st Century’, Pax Christi USA)


The Baptism of the Lord (C)

Gospel  (Luke 3: 15-16, 21-22)

A feeling of expectancy had grown among the people, who were beginning to think that John might be the Christ, so John declared before them all, ‘I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Now when all the people had been baptised and while Jesus after his own baptism was at prayer, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily shape, like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.’

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Prayer & Reflection

On Christmas night, angels proclaimed to the shepherds of Bethlehem that a Saviour had been born.

Last Sunday, on the Solemnity of the Epiphany, some wise men recognised the new-born king as the Son of God.

Today, on this last day of Christmas, God himself proclaims that Jesus is his Son as he is baptised in the River Jordan.

During Mass this weekend, we will renew our Baptismal Promises as a way of making a new start as Christians at the beginning of a new year:

Do you believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth?
I do.

Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered death and was buried,
rose again from the dead
and is seated at the right hand of the Father?
I do.

Do you believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting?
I do.

Scripture Passage from ‘The Jerusalem Bible’ © 1966 by Darton Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd.  Excerpts from ‘The Roman Missal’ (c) 2010 International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.


The Epiphany of the Lord

Christian Christmas scene with the three wise men

Gospel  (Matthew 2: 1-12)

After Jesus had been born at Bethlehem in Judaea during the reign of King Herod, some wise men came to Jerusalem from the east. ‘Where is the infant king of the Jews?’ they asked. ‘We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage.’ When King Herod heard this he was perturbed, and so was the whole of Jerusalem. He called together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, and enquired of them where the Christ was to be born. ‘At Bethlehem in Judaea,’ they told him ‘for this is what the prophet wrote:

And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
you are by no means least among the leaders of Judah,
for out of you will come a leader
who will shepherd my people Israel.’

Then Herod summoned the wise men to see him privately. He asked them the exact date on which the star had appeared, and sent them on to Bethlehem. ‘Go and find out all about the child,’ he said ‘and when you have found him, let me know, so that I too may go and do him homage.’ Having listened to what the king had to say, they set out. And there in front of them was the star they had seen rising; it went forward, and halted over the place where the child was. The sight of the star filled them with delight, and going into the house they saw the child with his mother Mary, and falling to their knees they did him homage. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. But they were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, and returned to their own country by a different way.

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Blessing of Homes

The Blessing of Homes is a time-honoured custom on the Feast of the Epiphany. It reminds us that Christ is with us in the love and care we show one another in our ordinary, everyday lives together. Why not have a little celebration at home today? One custom is to trace the Cross, the initials “CMB”, and the numerals of the year on the doorway of your house (either using chalk, holy water or simply with your finger), and then share your usual Sunday meal together. “CMB” stands for “Christus mansionem benedicat” – “May Christ bless this house!”

20 + C + M + B + 19

 

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SETTLEMENT SCHEME FOR EU CITIZENS

Bishop Paul McAleenan, the lead Catholic Bishop for Migration and Asylum, has issued a statement on the Government’s forthcoming Settlement Scheme for EU citizens living in the UK. Any EU citizen who wants to remain in the UK after Brexit (with the exception of Irish citizens) will have to apply through the scheme, which is expected to launch in March 2019.

The Catholic Church in England and Wales stands in solidarity with all EU citizens who have made their home here. As the majority are themselves Catholic this is a special pastoral concern for us.

The Church has experienced first-hand the extensive contribution that people from across Europe have made to our society. They are an integral and valued part of our parishes, schools and communities. We also recognise the evidence that immigration from Europe has not undermined opportunities for UK citizens, but rather brought considerable economic and social benefits.

It is clear that since the 2016 referendum many people living here have faced profound uncertainty and insecurity about their future. Although the reassurances offered by senior politicians are important, people have been given far too little information or binding commitments about their right to stay. For some this has been worsened by the appalling rise in hate crime, which has left them feeling unwelcome or even threatened in the country that has become their home.

The government will soon launch a Settlement Scheme, offering EU citizens living here a legal route to remain. While this is an important step we understand that, especially for people who have contributed to our society over many years, it may feel unjust and divisive that they are now required to apply for permission to stay. We also expect that some people, particularly those who are already vulnerable, may face difficulties in practically accessing the scheme, leaving their immigration status at risk.

We strongly oppose the decision to charge people for securing the rights they already have. This is not only unprincipled but will also create a barrier for larger families or people facing financial difficulties.

The Bishops’ Conference has made representations on these issues to ministers and through the Home Office working groups set up to discuss the Settlement Scheme. We will continue to do so as it is implemented.

Notwithstanding our concerns about these principles and practicalities, it remains a fact that EU citizens must apply if they are to protect their existing rights and their place in our society. We therefore ask Catholic parishes, schools and organisations to bring the Settlement Scheme to the attention of all who need to avail of it and to be aware of vulnerable people who may face barriers to applying or not realise that they need to apply.

In particular we encourage you to signpost people towards the official information on the Settlement Scheme: www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families And to make use of the various information resources available: www.gov.uk/government/publications/eu-settlement-scheme-community-leaders-toolkit

Finally, we urge the whole Catholic community to take up Pope Francis’ call to welcome, protect, promote and help to integrate everyone who has made their home here – with particular concern at present for our European brothers and sisters.


Feast of the Holy Family (C)

Gospel  (Luke 2: 41-52)

Every year the parents of Jesus used to go to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up for the feast as usual. When they were on their way home after the feast, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem without his parents knowing it. They assumed he was with the caravan, and it was only after a day’s journey that they went to look for him among their relations and acquaintances. When they failed to find him they went back to Jerusalem looking for him everywhere.

Three days later, they found him in the Temple, sitting among the doctors, listening to them, and asking them questions; and all those who heard him were astounded at his intelligence and his replies. They were overcome when they saw him, and his mother said to him, ‘My child, why have, you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you.’  ‘Why were you looking for me?’ he replied. ‘Did you not know that I must be busy with my Father’s affairs?’ But they did not understand what he meant.

He then went down with them and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority.  His mother stored up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and men.

Thought

3830-2016_06_02-17_41_42-utc

The picture above is of the beautiful statue of the Holy Family commissioned in 2000 for the refurbishment of the Church of the Holy Family in Boothstown, Worsley.  It was crafted by Butzon & Bercker in Kevelaer, Germany.

What do you notice?

Notice the curves – Mary holding her Son, Jesus, under the protection of Joseph.

Look closer and notice the chisel marks too – symbolising the rough and tumble and sufferings of life.

Notice the youthfulness of the couple – Mary would have only been about 15 years old and, Joseph, not much older.  How many of our Cribs portray Joseph as a balding man in his sixties?

Notice the simplicity of the statue which just adds to its beauty.

Fr Dave

Prayer

Loving God,
guardian of our homes,
when you entrusted your Son
to the care of Mary and Joseph,
you did not spare them the pains
that touch the life of every family.

Teach us to rely on your word,
that in our trials as in our joys
we may be clothed in gentleness and patience
and united in love.

Make us ever-thankful
for the blessings you give us
through Jesus Christ, your Word made flesh,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
in the splendour of eternal light,
one God for ever and ever.

Scripture Passage from ‘The Jerusalem Bible’ © 1966 by Darton Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd.  Prayer (c) 1998 International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.

Prayer for the People of Indonesia

O God,
hold those who are hurting,
comfort those who are in mourning,
calm those who are panicking,
surround with safety those who are traumatised,
shelter those who are homeless,
be a beacon of wisdom and guidance
for those directing rescue operations.

As you entered into the blood, sweat and tears of life,
help us to enter into lament, love and solidarity
with our sisters and brothers in Indonesia,
standing together with those you love
in their time of deepest need.
May they know they are not alone.
In Jesus name, Amen.

(c) Christian Aid


Christmas Week

SOLEMNITY OF THE NATIVITY OF THE LORD

sand-nativity

Part of this year’s Nativity Scene in St Peter’s Square
which is made out of 720 tons of sand
by American artist, Rich Varano.

A very happy and peaceful Christmas to you all

Nollaig Shona Dhuit

Feliz Natal

楽しいクリスマスをお過ごしください

Froehliche Weihnachten

Joyeux Noël

Feliz Navidad

愉快的圣诞节

Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia…

Scripture Reading  (Luke 2: 1-14)

Caesar Augustus issued a decree for a census of the whole world to be taken. This census — the first — took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria, and everyone went to his own town to be registered. So Joseph set out from the town of Nazareth in Galilee and travelled up to Judaea, to the town of David called Bethlehem, since he was of David’s House and line, in order to be registered together with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to a son, her first-born. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them at the inn.

In the countryside close by there were shepherds who lived in the fields and took it in turns to watch their flocks during the night. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone round them. They were terrified, but the angel said, “Do not be afraid. Listen, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. And here is a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly with the angel was a great throng of the heavenly host, praising God and singing: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to all who enjoy his favour”.

Thought

Pope Francis:  “Take some time to do this:  Go to the Nativity scene and be silent.  And you will feel, you will see the surprise” (General Audience on 19 December).

Prayer

On Saturday, huge waves crashed without warning into coastal towns on the Indonesia islands of Sumatra and Java.  At least 1,016 people were injured and more than 600 homes, 60 shops and 420 vessels were damaged when the tsunami struck.  At the time of writing, the death toll has reached 281.  Let us pray for all those affected by the tsunami.

CHRISTMAS EVE

shepherds

Matthew 1: 18-25

This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph; being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son
and they will call him Emmanuel,

a name which means ‘God-is-with-us.’ When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home and, though he had not had intercourse with her, she gave birth to a son; and he named him Jesus.

Prayer

God of Abraham and Sarah,
of David and his descendants,
unwearied is your love for us
and steadfast your covenant;
wonderful beyond words
is your gift of the Saviour,
born of the Virgin Mary.

Count us among the people in whom you delight,
and by this night’s marriage of earth and heaven
draw all generations into the embrace of your love.

We ask this through Jesus Christ, your Word made flesh,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
in the splendour of eternal light,
God for ever and ever.

Scripture Passage from ‘The Jerusalem Bible’ © 1966 by Darton Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd. Prayer (c) 1998 International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.

4th SUNDAY OF ADVENT (C)

It’s the last Sunday of our preparation for the great feast of Christmas.  The person put before us today is Mary.  It’s Mary’s Sunday in the year and the Gospel tells us of her visit to Elizabeth.

Gospel  (Luke 1: 39-44)

Mary set out and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’

visitation

Thought

In all the busyness of these days, we’re in danger of missing what’s important.  So let’s take a moment today to be quiet – either to simply rest in the presence of the Lord, or to ponder the feast we’re about to celebrate.  How do we want to celebrate it?

Prayer

The Collect at Mass today is this beautiful prayer from ‘The Angelus’:

Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord,
your grace into our hearts,
that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son
was made known by the message of an Angel,
may by his Passion and Cross
be brought to the glory of his Resurrection.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Final Preparations

On Thursday, a few of the children from St Benedict’s Catholic Primary School helped to assemble the Crib together with one of my cats, Blaise, pictured here trying to escape my embrace so that she can make her mark in the straw!

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Thanks to Mr Anderson, Headteacher of St Benedict’s, for the photograph.

Scripture Passage from ‘The Jerusalem Bible’ © 1966 by Darton Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd. Prayer (c) 2010 International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.

 


Third Week of Advent

Advent Weekday – 22 December

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News items you may not have seen:

1) More than 90,000 police, soldiers and a moderate Muslim youth group will help guard nearly 50,000 churches across Indonesia, including some previously attacked by terrorists, during the Christmas period.  Wow!  Thank you.

2) In his annual address to the Roman Curia yesterday, Pope Francis thanked the media for highlighting the scourge of abuse in the Church and instructed those guilty of abuse in the Church to hand themselves over to the civil authorities.

3) Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton:  it is deeply concerning that during the Christmas period Israeli lawmakers are moving to advance the so-called “Tenants’ Rights Law”, which will have serious consequences for the Christian community in the Holy Land.  Let us continue to pray for our sisters and brothers in the Holy Land.

Advent Weekday – 21 December

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Today, an Advent Carol for the second part of Advent.  Click on the link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-C9QL3b8N1o

Come, Thou Redeemer of the earth,
And manifest Thy virgin birth:
Let every age adoring fall;
Such birth befits the God of all.

Begotten of no human will,
But of the Spirit, Thou art still
The Word of God in flesh arrayed,
The promised Fruit to man displayed.

Forth from His chamber goeth He,
That royal home of purity,
A giant in twofold substance one,
Rejoicing now His course to run.

From God the Father He proceeds,
To God the Father back He speeds;
His course He runs to death and hell,
Returning on God’s throne to dwell.

Thy cradle here shall glitter bright,
And darkness breathe a newer light,
Where endless faith shall shine serene,
And twilight never intervene.

All laud to God the Father be,
All praise, eternal Son, to Thee;
All glory, as is ever meet,
To God the Holy Paraclete.

St Ambrose of Milan (c 397)

Advent Weekday – 20 December

Today, the liturgy gives us the beautiful account of the Annunciation to Mary.

annunciation-to-mary

Luke 1: 26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.’ ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.

Advent Weekday – 19 December

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A thought from Pope Francis to ponder:  “For me Christmas has always been about this: contemplating the visit of God to his people.”

Advent Weekday – 18 December

Yesterday, the focus of Advent changed. So far we’ve been looking forward to the time when Christ will come again at the end of time. Now, for the next eight days, we prepare for the great feast of Christmas by looking back to the events that led to the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem all those years ago.

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Matthew 1: 18-24

This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph; being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son
and they will call him Emmanuel,
a name which means ‘God-is-with-us.’

When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home.

Advent Weekday – 17 December

Happy Birthday, Pope Francis!

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Photograph (c) Vatican Media

Today, Pope Francis is 82.  Yesterday, children from the Vatican’s free-of-charge paediatric clinic surprised him with a cake.  The message on the cake must have brought a smile to his face:  “We cannot become accustomed to the situations of degradation and misery around us. A Christian must react.”

Pope Francis joked with the children, saying he hoped “such a big cake doesn’t give indigestion!”  He went on to say that children are good at teaching grown-ups to be humble, to better understand life and people.  “The proud, the arrogant, can’t understand life because they’re incapable of lowering themselves.”

Today, perhaps ponder those words on the birthday cake:  “We cannot become accustomed to the situations of degradation and misery around us. A Christian must react.”

Third Sunday of Advent (C)

gaudete

This Sunday is known as ‘Gaudete’ Sunday.  ‘Gaudete’ is the Latin word for ‘Rejoice’ which is the first word of today’s Entrance Antiphon:  “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near” (Phil 4: 4-5).  We rejoice because the Lord is very near.

Today’s Entrance Antiphon comes from today’s Second Reading, although the translation we use has the word ‘happy’ instead.

Philippians 4: 4-7

I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness. Let your tolerance be evident to everyone: the Lord is very near.

There is no need to worry; but if there is anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving, and that peace of God, which is so much greater than we can understand, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus.

Thought

St Paul tells us that he wants us to ‘rejoice’ or ‘be happy’.  That’s want God wants for us too!   God wants us to be happy!

St Paul tells us how we can be happy, especially at this time of year.  First, he tells us to be tolerant – to be people who are patient and kind.  That’s not easy when we’re tired and perhaps feeling a little stressed.

Then he tells us not to worry, rather bring our worries to the Lord and we will find peace for our hearts and minds.

There’s enough there to keep us busy this week!

Fr Dave

Prayer

God of power and mercy,
open our hearts in welcome.
Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy,
so that we may share his wisdom
and become one with him when he comes in glory,
for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Scripture Passage from ‘The Jerusalem Bible’ © 1966 by Darton Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd. Prayer (c) 1973 International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.

   


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