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The Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary

On 1 November 1950, Pope Pius XII (Munificentissimus Deus) formally defined “as a divinely revealed dogma:  The Immaculate Mother of God, Mary ever Virgin, after her life on earth, was assumed, body and soul, to the glory of heaven.”


Ceiling of the Assumption of Mary in Santa Maria Immacolata a via Veneto, Rome

Gospel  (Luke 1: 39-56)

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 woman 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? From 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.’

And Mary said:
‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord
and my spirit exults in God my saviour;
because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid.
Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed,
for the Almighty has done great things for me.
Holy is his name,
and his mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear him.
He has shown the power of his arm,
he has routed the proud of heart.
He has pulled down princes from their thrones
and exalted the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things,
the rich sent empty away.
He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his mercy –
according to the promise he made to our ancestors –
of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back home.

Reflection from Pope Francis

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning! Happy Feast of the Assumption!

The Gospel passage (Lk 1:39-56) of today’s Feast of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven describes the encounter between Mary and her cousin Elizabeth, emphasizing that “Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah” (v. 39). In those days, Mary hastened to a small city in the vicinity of Jerusalem in order to meet Elizabeth. Today, however, we contemplate her on her journey toward the Heavenly Jerusalem, to encounter at last the face of the Father and to see once again the face of her Son Jesus. So often in her earthly life she had travelled mountainous areas, until the painful final phase of Calvary, associated with the Mystery of the Passion of Christ. Today, we see her arrive at God’s mountain, “clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev 12:1) — as the Book of Revelation reads — and we see her cross the threshold of the heavenly homeland.

She was the first to believe in the Son of God, and is the first to be assumed into heaven in body and soul. She was the first to gather Jesus in her arms when he was still a boy, and is the first to be gathered in his arms to be introduced into the eternal Kingdom of the Father. Mary, a humble and simple maiden from an isolated village on the edge of the Roman Empire, precisely because she received and lived the Gospel, is allowed by God to be beside the Son’s throne for eternity. This is how the Lord puts down the mighty from their thrones and exalts those of low degree (cf. Lk 1:52).

The Assumption of Mary is a great mystery which regards each one of us, it regards our future. Mary, in fact, precedes us on the path walked upon by those who, through their Baptism, have bound their life to Jesus, as Mary bound her own life to Him. Today’s feast makes us look to heaven, foretells the “new heaven and new earth”, with the Risen Christ’s victory over death and the definitive defeat of evil. Therefore, the exultation of the humble maiden of Galilee, expressed in the Canticle of the Magnificat, becomes the song of all humanity, which sees with satisfaction the Lord stoop over all men and all women, humble creatures, and assume them with him into heaven.

The Lord stoops over the humble, to raise them up, as the Canticle of the Magnificat proclaims. This hymn of Mary also leads us to think of the many current painful situations, in particular of women overwhelmed by the burden of life and by the tragedy of violence, of women enslaved by the oppression of the powerful, of children forced into inhuman labour, of women obliged to surrender in body and in spirit to the greed of men. May they begin as soon as possible a life of peace, of justice, of love, awaiting the day in which they will finally feel they are held by hands which do not humiliate them, but which lift them tenderly and lead them on the path of life, to heaven. May Mary, a maiden, a woman who suffered a great deal in her life, make us think of these women who suffer so much. Let us ask the Lord that He himself may take them by the hand and lead them on the path of life, freeing them from these forms of slavery.

Now let us turn trustingly to Mary, gentle sweet Queen of Heaven, and ask her: “Give us days of peace, watch over our journey, let us see your Son, filled with the joy of Heaven” (Hymn of Second Vespers).

(‘The Angelus’ in St Peter’s Square, 15 August 2016)


Feast of St Oswald, King & Martyr


The Feast of St Oswald, King and Martyr, falls on 5 August.

Oswald was the eldest son of Aethelfrith, King of Bernicia (present day Northumbria), and was probably born in the year 605.

After the death of his father, Oswald and his brothers fled to the island of Iona for safety. There, he was baptised and became a Christian.

In 634, Oswald returned to Northumbria to regain his father’s kingdom. It is said that he set up a wooden cross as his standard and dedicated himself and his people to God’s protection before engaging in battle with the occupying Welsh king, Cadwallon, not far from Hexham. Oswald defeated and killed Cadwallon. He set up his royal palace and court at Bamburgh and called the monks from Iona to re-establish Christianity throughout his land. Aidan responded to this call and established a church at Bamburgh, together with a community based on Columba’s community on the island of Lindisfarne.

We know from Bede’s “Ecclesiastical History of the English People” that Oswald and Aidan forged a deep friendship and partnership. Oswald often accompanied Aidan on his missionary journeys, acting as interpreter for Aidan who could not speak the local dialect.

Bede also tells this story: One Easter, Oswald and Aidan were feasting at the palace, when a silver dish of food was set before them. Just as they were saying their prayers of blessing a servant, who looked after the needs of the poor, came into the hall to tell the king that a great crowd of hungry folk were sitting outside the palace begging alms. The king immediately ordered his food to be taken out to them and the silver platter to be broken up and shared among them. Aidan, impressed by the generosity of the king, raised Oswald’s right hand and prayed, “May this hand never wither with age”.

Sadly, the reign of Oswald only lasted eight years. On 5th August 642, he was killed in battle by Penda, king of the Mercians, at Maserfield, now Oswestry, in Shropshire. His head and arms were severed from his body and stuck onto poles. Legend has it that his right arm, which Aidan had raised in prayer, found its way incorrupt back to Bamburgh and was placed in a silver casket in the church there. Oswald’s head was returned to Lindisfarne and was eventually buried in the coffin of St Cuthbert.

Despite living in violent times, Oswald is renowned as a diplomat, a unifier, and a generous and humble king.

Almighty and merciful God,
who so kindled the faith of St Oswald with your Spirit
that he set up the sign of the Cross in his kingdom
and turned his people to the light of Christ:
grant that we, being fired by the same Spirit,
may always bear our cross before the world
and be found faithful servants of the Gospel.
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.

St Oswald, King and Martyr – pray for us.

17th Sunday of the Year (A)

Gospel    (Matthew 13: 44-52)

Jesus said to the crowds, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which someone has found; he hides it again, goes off happy, sells everything he owns and buys the field.

‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls; when he finds one of great value he goes and sells everything he owns and buys it.

‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea that brings in a haul of all kinds. When it is full, the fishermen haul it ashore; then, sitting down, they collect the good ones in a basket and throw away those that are of no use. This is how it will be at the end of time: the angels will appear and separate the wicked from the just to throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.

‘Have you understood all this?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ And he said to them, ‘Well then, every scribe who becomes a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out from his storeroom things both new and old.’


The Deep End – Treasures and Pearls

In the immediate aftermath of the horrific bomb attack in Manchester on 22 May this year, the hashtag #roomformanchester began to trend on social media. In the midst of the chaos and terror, locals were opening up their homes and hearts to anyone who had been affected by the incident and was in need of help. People who lived nearby offered food or a cuppa, a place to charge phones, or a bed for the night. Hotels took in dozens of children and teenagers who had been separated from their parents. Taxi drivers offered free lifts, and others offered to drive those who had been stranded home to surrounding areas. People began to queue up at donor banks to give blood to help those injured in the attack. In the face of an evil and senseless act that inflicted so much pain, kindness and goodness shone through.

Difficult times often bring out the best in people. We see it in the way friends rally around a bereaved family, or communities raise money to help a sick child. There are treasures in our people and our communities that we could never put a price on. Jesus talks today about hidden treasures and fine pearls, and prompts the question – what is most important to us, and what are we willing to sacrifice for it? Sometimes treasures like compassion and love are there for all to see, and other times they are hidden or buried and we have to go in search of them, and to remember to bring them to others. The kingdom of God is always close at hand and within each of us.

Triona Doherty in Intercom (c) Veritas Publications 2017

God of eternal wisdom,
you alone impart the gift of right judgement.
Grant us an understanding heart,
that we may value wisely
the treasure of your kingdom
and gladly forgo all lesser gifts
to possess that kingdom’s incomparable joy.
We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.

(c) 1998 International Committee on English in the Liturgy Corporation

Parable of the Weeds and the Wheat

16th Sunday of the Year (A)

This Sunday’s Gospel recounts the parable of the weeds and the wheat:


Jesus put another parable before the crowds: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everybody was asleep his enemy came, sowed darnel all among the wheat, and made off. When the new wheat sprouted and ripened, the darnel appeared as well. The owner’s servants went to him and said, “Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? If so, where does the darnel come from?” “Some enemy has done this” he answered. And the servants said, “Do you want us to go and weed it out?” But he said, “No, because when you weed out the darnel you might pull up the wheat with it. Let them both grow till the harvest; and at harvest time I shall say to the reapers: First collect the darnel and tie it in bundles to be burnt, then gather the wheat into my barn”.’  (Matthew 13: 24-30)

Perhaps this video sheds a little light on the parable.  It’s from a film called ‘Front of the Class’ by Brad Cohen:

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God


For the rain that seeps into the pores of the earth and the crevices of our being, we give thanks to you.

For the sun that coaxes forth the potential of our beings, we give thanks to you.

For the stars that beckon us into the depths of your mystery, we give thanks to you.

For the song that whispers from the trees to caress our spirits, we give thanks to you.

For the laughter of children, the guffaws of old men, (the cackling of old women!) and all the ways you disrupt the creases forming across our brows, we give thanks to you.

For the tenderness of hands that hold broken hearts, and the arms that embrace us when sorrow seeps from our souls, we give thanks to you.

For the thoughtful counsel, the provocative point of view, the different opinion and the comment that stops us in our tracks, we give thanks to you.

For the glitter of joy, the sadness born of love, and all the ways you remind us of your presence, we give thanks to you.

We give thanks, we give thanks, we give thanks.  

By Anne Fraley
An Episcopal priest serving Grace Church, Broad Brook, Connecticut, US

Warrington Walking Day

Some pictures from this year’s Walking Day courtesy of Mr Alan Spencer







Corpus Christi Procession

Last Sunday, the three parishes joined together with the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP) for our second Corpus Christi Procession.  The procession left St Mary’s Shrine at 3.00 pm.  Fr Alex Stewart, FSSP, who was ordained to the priesthood at St Mary’s the day before, carried the Blessed Sacrament.  Children who had recently celebrated their First Communion strew petals as we processed so that the Lord was walking on a bed of flowers.


The procession made its way through the Town Centre, singing hymns and praying the Rosary…


to St Alban’s RC Church in Bewsey…


where Canon Cunningham greeted us at about 3.45 pm and led Benediction to conclude the procession.


This year, we were blessed with many visitors – priests, deacons and seminarians from the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter, as well as parishioners from other parishes in Warrington.  Many thanks to those who came along, especially the altar servers, the First Communion children, the singers and those who kindly assisted as marshals.

Many thanks to the FSSP for the photo’s.

There are lots more photo’s on St Mary’s Flickr:




Corpus Christi



Scripture Reading  (John 6: 51-58)

Jesus said to the crowd:
‘I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.
Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever;
and the bread that I shall give is my flesh,
for the life of the world.’

Then the Jews started arguing with one another:
‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ they said.

Jesus replied:
‘I tell you most solemnly,
if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you will not have life in you.
Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood
has eternal life,
and I shall raise him up on the last day.
For my flesh is real food
and my blood is real drink.
He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood
lives in me
and I live in him.
As I, who am sent by the living Father,
myself draw life from the Father,
so whoever eats me will draw life from me.
This is the bread come down from heaven;
not like the bread our ancestors ate:
they are dead,
but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.’


Lord God,
our ancestors journeyed through the desert
where you fed them with manna;
and with water flowing from the rock
you quenched their burning thirst.

The bread we break
is our sharing in the body of Christ,
and the cup of blessing
is our sharing in the blood of Christ.

Care for us and inspire us, your people,
so that we, though many, may become one
and all who hunger and thirst
may be nourished and refreshed at our table.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.   Amen.

© 1998 International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation.

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity


Scripture Readings

In the First Reading, God reveals himself to Moses as ‘a God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness’.

In the Second Reading, St Paul says farewell to the people of Corinth and encourages them to ‘help one another. Be united; live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you’.

In the Gospel, Jesus speaks to Nicodemus:

‘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.’


Lord our God,
we are too small to understand you,
but we know that you care for us and have linked our destiny to yours.
Thank you for loving us and standing by our side in our sorrows and joys.
Thank you for giving us Jesus to take away our sins and to bring us life and happiness and trust.
Thank you for letting your Spirit lead us.
Warm our hearts and unite us,
dispose us to accept all your love and to respond to it
by entrusting ourselves to you with all that you have made us and given us.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.


Pentecost Novena – Day 9




Begin by invoking the Holy Spirit using Pope John XXIII’s ‘invocation’ prayer:

Renew your wonders in this our day, as by a new Pentecost.

Grant to your Church that, being of one mind and steadfast in prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and following the lead of Blessed Peter, it may advance the reign of our Divine Saviour, the reign of truth and justice, the reign of love and peace. Amen.

Come Holy Spirit, in your power and might to renew the face of the earth.



‘When he had been at table with them, he had told them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for what the Father had promised. ‘It is’, he had said, ‘what you have heard me speak about: John baptised with water but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 1: 4-5).

‘There is variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always to the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people, it is the same God who is working in all of them’ (1 Corinthians 12: 4-6).


Prayer Intention

Pray for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit in your life. May the gifts of the Spirit be more fully manifest for building up his body in love and to bring all things in heaven and on earth under his headship.


Pentecost Sequence

Holy Spirit, Lord of Light,
From the clear celestial height.
Thy pure beaming radiance give.
Come, thou Father of the poor,
Come, with treasures which endure;
Come, thou Light of all that live!

Thou, of all consolers best,
Thou, the soul’s delightful guest,
Dost refreshing peace bestow.
Thou in toil art comfort sweet;
Pleasant coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.

Light immortal, Light divine,
Visit thou these hearts of thine,
And our inmost being fill.
If thou take thy grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay;
All his good is turned to ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour thy dew,
Wash the stains of guilt away.
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.

Thou, on us who evermore
Thee confess and thee adore,
With thy sevenfold gifts descend.
Give us comfort when we die;
Give us life with thee on high;
Give us joys that never end.

Amen. Alleluia.

Ascribed to Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury (1228)


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