SOMETHING NEW FOR 2021            

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Gospel Reflection for the First Sunday of Lent

21st February Chapel Bell

What is Lent all about?

Many of us would confess that we’re not quite sure what Lent is all about. We know it’s about doing difficult stuff, like giving up chocolate. We know that Lent is about growing closer to God, but can giving up chocolate really get us closer to God? 

To understand Lent, we need to look to the wilderness story which we are told on the first Sunday of Lent every year.  Every year on the first Sunday of Lent we are told how Jesus went into the wilderness for forty days to fast and to reflect on the job he was about to do here on Earth. We are told how he was confronted with temptation and how he overcame it. There are three elements to this story. Jesus withdrew from worldly distractions and fasted, he reflected on who and what he was about, and he overcame temptation. The problem is, we all seem to latch onto the first bit of the story about fasting and forget the two more important elements. Jesus reflected on the importance of the ministry he was about to undertake and he refused to be swayed from it. This is the important bit. This is how we need to understand and live our next forty days.

At this time of year we are asked to ‘repent’. We are asked to turn away from things in our lives that are not working well or are wrong. That will be different for all of us, so we need to sit down in a quiet space and work out what we need to do. How we need to change should be something more important than those new-year resolutions we all make and break. Next we need to identify the barriers that stop us making those changes. Withdrawing from worldly comforts might be part of this barrier which is where fasting or giving up TV might come in. Lastly we need to resist the temptation to give up on plans to change ourselves and the world around us, and that’s the hardest bit of all.

As children today’s gospel is presented to us with an accompanying illustration of the devil complete with huge bat like wings a scaly tail and horns. How easy to resist temptation packaged so obviously as a ‘bad choice’. The trouble with temptation is it rarely comes packaged as a ‘bad choice’. Often temptation comes as a fairly harmless choice or even as an attractive or intelligent option. How harmless does it seem to sip half a glass of wine when you’re supposed to be quitting. How harmless does it seem to ‘borrow’ a little cash from the office tea fund … you can always pay it back later.

There’s lot of talk about what is classed as a temptation and what isn’t. In the context of the first Sunday of Lent, a temptation is anything that takes you further way from God. If having an extra cream cake takes you further way from God, then it’s a temptation … if having an extra cream cake has nothing to do with your relationship with God than it’s totally unimportant.

When it comes to temptation, a simple rule of thumb is to ask yourself in each of your daily decisions, ” Will this decision bring me nearer to God or take me further away?” Knowing who you are and what you are trying to achieve in life not only helps you to identify your temptations, but also gives you a reason and strength of character when it comes to resisting. Today is the day we start giving the devil are hard time. Tempted?

Fairtrade Fortnight 2021  (22nd February – 7th March)

For two weeks each year at the end of February and start of March, thousands of individuals, companies and groups across the UK come together to share the stories of the people who grow our food and drinks, mine our gold and who grow the cotton in our clothes, people who are often  exploited and underpaid.

The climate crisis threatens vulnerable countries who are already seeing its impacts from droughts and crop disease to floods, heatwaves and shrinking harvests. 

With the emergence of the global COVID pandemic, the challenges that farmers face now are bigger than ever before with falling commodity prices and widespread shocks reverberating along our global supply chains.

We have the power to help in something as simple as changing our shopping habits. Buying Fairtrade is easy. There are over 6,000 Fairtrade products now in our shops. Make this week and next week a time for trying new Fairtrade products. If you discover something that you really like, don’t forget to share on Facebook.

CAFOD's Harvest Fast Day (England and Wales) Friday 26th March

Although in lockdown, we can still transform lives this CAFOD Harvest Fast Day. On Friday 26th March we are asked to fast, and send the money we have saved to CAFOD.

The focus of this year's fast day is on 'Water poverty'.  By giving online www.cafod.org.uk  you can help provide boreholes and solar powered water pumps to remote communities. You can make sure people no longer have to spend most of their days collecting water, so they can concentrate instead on making their hopes a reality.

Super Soup Supper 2021   Be a ‘Souper’ hero!

Our three Catholic aid agencies, Trocaire, Sciaf and Cafod are all hosting Lenten appeals this year to transform lives. Consider one simple idea to become a ‘souper hero’ to help our aid agencies raise more funds.  Choose the families’ favourite soup and dish it up once a week throughout Lent with a pile of crusty bread. Ask the family to consider what savings this has made and ask them to put the money into a ‘Souper Hero’ pot. At the end of Lent contribute online to

www.cafod.org.uk (England and Wales)

Bitesize

Becoming Christlike is a lifetime pursuit and very often involves growth and change that is slow, almost imperceptible.

 Ezra Taft Benson

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Gospel Reflection for the Sixth Sunday of Ordinary time 14th February Chapel Bell

Back From the Brink

‘Dysfunctional’  is a word we hear a lot nowadays. Parents who drink, gamble or who neglect their children are deemed ‘dysfunctional’. Those who take drugs, steal or spend aimless and less than useful lives are labelled dysfunctional. As a society we are often guilty of shunning the dysfunctional, fearing them or even despising them. For those of us who have been labelled as dysfunctional we sink into an abyss of loneliness and desperation. There are those of us who know what it is like to have sunk so low that there seems no way back.

The leper in today’s story knew no way back from the affliction that had ostracised him from society … no way back that is, until he heard of Jesus. The leper kneels before Jesus and begs for a cure, and moved by pity Jesus makes him well again, commanding him not to rush off and tell everyone. Of course, the leper cannot keep Jesus a secret. The ex leper has not just been healed of an illness, he has been rescued from an existence where he could not function at any level. Now the ex leper can return to his home, his community and his loved ones. For the ex leper his life has been transformed. His life had been restored, but restored with a meaning it didn’t have before. The ex leper has been made whole, emotionally, spiritually and physically. How can he keep his tremendous joy to himself?

Today we are asked to put ourselves in the place of the leper. Jesus asks us to look at our lives and ask ourselves what is missing. What is it that can isolate us? What is it that builds barriers? What makes us live lives of bigotry, fear, anger, jealousy, frustration, insecurity, pain or misunderstanding? What is missing from our lives that could make us function as a whole? Might it be purpose, determination, humility, courage, forgiveness, mission …. God?

When God brings us back from the brink of isolation, it is hard to feel anything but joy, and if that joy is contagious, is there any better way to promote Jesus’ desire for living life in wholeness?

Ash Wednesday

Discipleship is about almsgiving, prayer and fasting ….  and Lent is the time we are given to examine how well we have embraced that discipleship. We make these preparations with a genuine desire to discover the truth about ourselves, guarding against any hypocritical agenda to seek attention.

The ashes on our foreheads remind us that time is short and we learn anew to face this grim reality with truthfulness and courage.

Carbon Fast for Lent 2021 : 40 Days to Make a Change

During Lent we fast to take us away from things that inhibit us from talking to God and inhibit us from finding our real selves. If that ‘fast’ is something meaningful, and helps our relationship with God then so much the better.

Things to do:-

•          40 days to switch off social media and re-read Pope Francis' Laudato Si': On the Care of Our Common Home (Published 2015) For those who don't know, this is an appeal addressed to "every person living on this planet" for an inclusive dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. Pope Francis calls the Church and the world to acknowledge the urgency of our environmental challenges and to join him in embarking on a new path.

•          40 days to consider what you can do to reduce your carbon. How do you impact the planet through the pattern of your energy consumption? This year is a vital year for the planet. The UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on 1 – 12 November 2021. The COP26 summit will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Bitesize

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.                                                                                World Health Organization, 1948

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Gospel Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time

A Matter of Life and Death 7th February (Chapel Bell)

 

Now more than ever in living memory we are all consumed by the need to stay well and to keep our friends and family well too. It’s great news that our scientists have come up with a vaccine that will eventually help beat Covid. It’s great news that we now have developed the means to save thousands of lives. Surely if Jesus was around today in person, he would give those scientists a big pat on the back. But perhaps Jesus would have something to add. A vaccine might save us from getting ill and dying, but it cannot add to our lives. Our bodies are merely vehicles in which to get us through life. It is important to look after a vehicle, but what greater point is there in looking after a vehicle that isn’t heading anywhere? What we do with our lives is more important than how long we can stay fit and well, however important that is to us as humans.

Jesus behaves unexpectedly in today’s gospel. Having cured Simon’s mother in law, the whole town turns up at his door eager for miracle cures, and Jesus obliges. This it would seem is his golden opportunity. This is his chance to have everybody eating out of the palm of his hand. Instead, Jesus gets up early and goes off to a deserted place, and when Simon comes looking for him, Jesus suggests that instead of returning to his new found fans, that they move on to the next village. This might seem odd to many, but it is to become apparent that curing the sick was not top of Jesus’ agenda.

To achieve anything in this world our health of course is important, but Jesus didn’t heal people simply to promote some health and fitness regime. Healing was only part of his primary ministry to teach. Jesus’ healing miracles were signs of his identity and of God’s power and compassion. His acts of healing were often to teach the importance of faith and discipleship.

Saint Bernadette made a prayer that we could do well to adopt. She said “Lord, I do not ask that I never be afflicted, but only that you never abandon me in affliction.”

 

 

St.Josephine Bakhita Feastday

Day of Prayer for the Prevention of Human Trafficking. 8th February

Every year, thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers, in their own countries and abroad. Almost every country in the world is affected by trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims. Trafficking is when a person is recruited or transported or harboured, by means of threat or coercion for the purpose of exploitation.  The easiest thing we can do to combat trafficking and slavery is to be conscientious consumers. That's something we can all do. By buying 'Fairtrade' food and making sure the clothes we buy are ethically sourced we help eliminate trafficking in the supply chains.

 

National Marriage Week            7th-14th February

Marriage Week is a great annual focus for couples to take time to pause and learn some new skills to take their marriages from faltering to good and from good to very good! The wedding day is only the start. All marriages can get better and better with each passing year. Marriage Week is supported by a group of charities and individuals who believe that healthy marriages bring benefits for all of society. This week turn off the TV and take time to listen to your partner properly.

 

World Day of the Sick                  11th February 2021

In his world message for World Day of the Sick Pope Francis concludes:-

“The commandment of love that Jesus left to his disciples is also kept in our relationship with the sick. A society is all the more human to the degree that it cares effectively for its most frail and suffering members, in a spirit of fraternal love. Let us strive to achieve this goal, so that no one will feel alone, excluded or abandoned.”

 

Our Lady of Lourdes                     11th February

Lourdes has become a place of pilgrimage and healing, but even more of faith. Church authorities have recognized over 60 miraculous cures, although there have probably been many more. To people of faith this is not surprising. It is a continuation of Jesus’ healing miracles—now performed at the intercession of his mother. Some would say that the greater miracles are hidden. Many who visit Lourdes return home with renewed faith and a readiness to serve God in their needy brothers and sisters.

 

Bitesize

You are as important to your health as it is to you.

Terri Guillemets

 

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Gospel Reflection for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time 31st January

True Authority

 

Today Mark tells us how Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. He tells us how amazed the people were at how he taught and at the authority in his teachings. His authority was powerful enough to expel demons even. You’ll notice that Mark doesn’t tell us what Jesus taught but only how he taught and the impression he made. So why did people sense authority in Jesus’ presence, and why was it so compelling?

When we think of authority we tend to think of bosses, leaders or the legal profession. We think of rules, laws and boundaries. We equate authority with enforcement and for the most part we don’t like it very much. Perhaps Jesus’ brand of authority was compelling because it wasn’t any of these things. Jesus’ brand of authority wasn’t about the exclusion that the scribes and Pharisees were so fond of but of total inclusion. Jesus’ authority was routed in the value of every man woman and child over any out-dated rule or redundant tradition.

We do not have the benefit of listening first hand to Jesus’ teaching, but it is testament to his authority that we still read his words twenty centuries after he spoke them. There are still lessons to be learned for those who believe Jesus can add something to our world and change us forever. There are still demons in our lives, and Jesus’ teaching still has the authority to drive them out.

 

Presentation of the Lord:            February 2nd

 

Simeon had waited all his life to see Jesus. The Holy Spirit had promised him that he would live long enough. When Mary and Joseph presented the baby at the temple, Simeon said, "Now, Lord, you have kept your promise, and you may let your servant go in peace. With my own eyes I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples."

Seeing Jesus satisfied Simon's life. We are prompted to ask what would satisfy us in our lives. Are the goals we set worth a lifetime of wanting, as Simeon's was?

 

Candlemas: February 2nd

 

Observed on February 2nd, Candlemas celebrates what is now called the Presentation of the Lord, when the infant Jesus was taken to the Temple by his parents according to Jewish custom. Candlemas Day occurs 40 days after Christmas and marks the end of the Christmas cycle.

The name Candlemas comes from the traditional observance of blessing candles and distributing the candles to worshipers. The candles recall the lights of Christmas. The candles also symbolize Simeon's words to Mary and Joseph in Luke 2:32 that Jesus would be "a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel."

 

 

Saint Blaise: February 3rd

Many Catholics might remember Saint Blaise's feast day because of the Blessing of the Throats that took place on this day. Two candles are blessed, held slightly open, and pressed against the throat as the blessing is said. Saint Blaise's protection of those with throat troubles apparently comes from a legend that a boy was brought to him who had a fishbone stuck in his throat. The boy was about to die when Saint Blaise healed him. St Blaise is the patron of throat illnesses

 

Bitesize

If you wish to know what a man is, place him in authority.

    Yugoslav Proverb

 

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24th January 2021

Gospel Reflection for the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

Wanted: Something More Important

 

“Wanted:- Men and women willing to leave behind their old way of life and become fishers men.”

There aren’t many of us who would jump at this job application. It isn’t that we don’t want to become fishers of men, its leaving behind our old way of life that we’re not too keen on. It seems that there is very little that would persuade us to abandon our own self-interest.

 

In today's gospel one of the most impressive elements is that the early disciples accept the call to repent, abandon their fishing nets and follow Jesus. That they turn away from a successful business in order to become 'fishers of men' is a measure of their commitment.

 

Today there are still those who accept the challenge to abandon everything and become fishers of men. Each year, thousands of men and women give their lives to God and join religious orders. How do the rest of us answer to call to become 'fishers of men'? We can't all join religious orders; we have to find a way of answering the call in our own situation, and we might have lots of questions to ask first. What would being a disciple involve? Would we be up to the job? What would we have to leave behind? What would we have to give up? Would part time discipleship be okay … after all we’ve got lots else to do!

 

There would be lots of questions we would ask, but sadly no easy answers. There is no one answer that is right for everybody. But the one important message for us today is that discipleship usually means a major shift in direction; a change that involves leaving behind things that get in the way of our relationship with God. It is left to each of us to decide what our particular mode of discipleship might be, and what stands in the path of our new direction. Our new direction has to start with some good hard soul searching, and a real desire to do something more important with our lives.

 

Conversion of St Paul

January 25th

 

When we are struggling to find change in our lives, we could hardly do better than look to the story of Saul, the great persecutor of Christians, who saw the light on the road to Damascus. The story of the conversion of Saul, from the persecutor of Christians to the zealous and holy instrument of evangelisation, Paul, shows the strength of God's power in our lives, and how He can change anything. Although misguided, Saul had always been sincere and committed. In him God saw a tremendous instrument for all that he wanted to accomplish. The lesson here is to remember that for God, nothing is impossible.

 

Holocaust Memorial Day

27th January 2021

The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) 2021 is Be the light in the darkness. It encourages everyone to reflect on the depths humanity can sink to, but also the ways individuals and communities resisted that darkness to ‘be the light’ before, during and after genocide.

Be the light in the darkness is an affirmation and a call to action for everyone marking HMD.  This theme asks us to consider different kinds of ‘darkness’, for example, identity-based persecution, misinformation, denial of justice; and different ways of ‘being the light’, for example, resistance, acts of solidarity, rescue and illuminating mistruths. We can all stand in solidarity. We can choose to be the light in the darkness in a variety of ways and places – at home, in public, and online.

 

 

CTBI’s Spring Magazine 2021

‘Churches Together In Britain and Ireland’ have launched their Spring Magazine. It contains articles on the Climate Conference later this year and activities around the Black Lives Matter movement plus much more. To download a copy visit www. ctbi.org.uk/download-ctbis-spring-magazine/

 

 

Bitesize

The man who is happy is fulfilling the purpose of existence.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

 

 

Gospel Reflection for the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time 17th January

Great Expectations (Chapel Bell)

 

It’s strange but true, that we tend to live up to other people’s expectations. If someone expects very little of us, then it is likely that we will end up achieving next to nothing. Living up to high expectations can feel daunting, but the surprising thing about great expectations, is that very often they have the power to transform us. Living up to great expectations can make us into better people.

In today’s gospel, Jesus meets Andrew’s brother Simon. He looks at him and says, “You are Simon son of John; you are to be called Cephas, meaning Rock.” The new name must have filled Peter’s friends with astonishment. “A rock” Peter certainly wasn’t. Peter we know was a bit of a hot head. He was impulsive, rash, sometimes misguided and often passionate. To describe him as a ‘rock’ was surely inappropriate. Yet slowly and surely, Peter starts to live up to Jesus’ expectations, and slowly but surely, Peter changes from a hot headed fisherman, into a steadfast leader of the Church. As we see so often in the Bible, Jesus’ expectations have the power to transform.

By comparison, we seem to live our lives with fairly banal expectations. Our greatest ambition, as we wake each morning might be to clear our ‘in tray’ at work, or take the car to the car wash. Are we missing something? Is God calling us to greater things and we simply aren’t listening? For each of us God has a job to do. Of each of us God has great expectations. Surely amongst our resolutions for 2021, we must plan how to answer God’s call.

Peace Sunday

A Culture of Care as a Path to Peace

17th January 2021

Pope Francis urges us all to create “a Culture of Care as a Path to Peace -a culture of care as a way to combat the culture of indifference, waste and confrontation so prevalent in our time.”

 

In this new year 2021, we should individually and collectively make up our minds about contributing to peace in our homes, community and country. As Christians, our faith teaches us that we can accomplish great things if we put on love or if our actions are motivated by love. Catholic Social Teaching also instructs that, “it is from the inner wellspring of love that the values of truth, freedom, and justice are born and grow.”

 

Start today, by thinking of an area of unresolved conflict within our home, community and country, and list ways in which we could be part of the solution.

 

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Go and Do

18th-25th January 2021

Each day during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Christian Aid has provided a starting point, reflection, questions and a prayer based on the theme. Here you can turn your reflections into action with our Go and Do points. This resource is hugely thought provoking and well worth reading.

You can find this at Churches Together in Britain and Ireland www.ctbi.org.uk/go-and-do-week-of-prayer-for-christian-unity-2021/

 

Martin Luther King Jnr. Day

19th January 2021

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'" A federal holiday in America, but a great day wherever we happen to be, to do something for somebody else.

Bitesize

The rung of a ladder was never meant to rest upon, but only to hold a man's foot long enough to enable him to put the other somewhat higher.

Thomas Henry Huxley, Life and Letters of Thomas Huxley

 

Gospel Reflection for the Baptism of the Lord

10th January 2021

Living Baptism

 

Very few of us remember our own baptism, and perhaps we have never really even questioned why it might be important, other than something we might need to attend a Catholic School or get married. Perhaps we need to look to Jesus’ baptism to know how privileged we really are to have been baptised.

 

What does Jesus’ baptism say to us? Jesus’ thirty years of preparation before his public baptism remind us that it takes time to get ready for God’s mission. How many countless hours did Jesus spend in prayer? What study, what thought, what agony must he have undergone before appearing in front of John to ask him to baptize him. We are reminded that baptism isn’t just something that happens to us as children, it’s something we have to live out on a daily basis.

 January is a time for new beginnings and fresh resolution. John the Baptist was an expert on this. John’s ministry was all about repentance and life changing reform … that’s what his baptism was all about. But anyone who has ever seriously tried to change themselves will know how difficult change really is. The addict will tell you how difficult it is to quit gambling, drinking or cigarettes. All of us can point to parts of our life that remain stubbornly unchanged year in and year out. Those who were baptised by John were baptised as a sign of their intent to change from their old ways, but knowing how difficult change can be, we can’t help wondering how successful they must have been. Perhaps John appreciated this too when he said “I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.”

Christians are hugely privileged people. We are told that the same Holy Spirit that empowered Jesus at the outset of his ministry, is the same Holy Spirit that is given to us in our baptism. Validating our baptism anew every day, knowing that we are filled with the Holy Spirit …..  change isn’t beyond any of us.

Why the eyes of the world will be on the UK in 2021

The UK government will be hosting two major international meetings this year.

The G7 summit will bring together the heads of government from seven of the world's richest countries and will take place in summer 2021.

The UK will also be hosting the UN ‘COP26’ climate talks in Glasgow between 1-12 November 2021. This will be the largest gathering of world leaders ever to take place on British soil.

Between now and then we will all be asked to help campaign. To be an efficient campaigner, the first thing to do is sign up for 'action news'. You can sign up for Cafod's action news at www.cafod.org.uk/Campaign/Action-news

 

Lending a Helping Hand

During this unsettling time, it's vital to keep in mind those who need us the most. This includes older people, who may be feeling uncertain and in need of help from others. Here are some ways you can be doing to help your older relatives, friends and neighbours, whether with practical stuff like their shopping, or keeping their spirits up at a time things feel challenging.

-If you’re feeling well yourself, why not offer to pick up shopping for an older neighbour or relative who might not be able to or is too worried to go to the shops? If you are helping someone who is self-isolating or shielding make sure you leave the shopping on their front doorstep, knock on their door and step back while you ensure they safely receive it. Make sure you stand 2 metres away from them at all times.

-Phone elderly relatives who live alone regularly for a chat. You could set up a rota with other family and friends to make sure that family member is receiving regular calls.

-This might also be a useful time to introduce older relatives and friends to technology that might prove helpful during this period, such as Skype or FaceTime. Age UK has written a guide to video calling which you can find at www.ageuk.org.uk/discover/2020/03/ways-to-help-older-people-coronavirus/

Bitesize

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. Victor Frankl

 

Gospel Reflection for the Second Sunday after Christmas 3rd January 2021

Great Beginnings.

All the best books have great beginnings, and St. John's gospel is no exception. The gospel begins with an eighteen-verse introduction, which we call 'The Prologue'. The prologue contains intriguing themes such as creation, life, and truth. Through it all, John refers to Jesus as the 'Word'. If John had been writing today, would he have used different language? To us the word 'Word' is simply a means of expression. In John's day the word 'Word' had greater implication. To understand today's gospel, we need to know that in Hebrew Scriptures the 'Word' had a power of its own. The 'Word' was not just a sound or an expression, but something with its own life. The 'Word' was an agent of creation. We can see this for ourselves in Genesis. 'God said, "Let there be light," and light appeared.' God's 'Word' has the power to create. To call Jesus the 'Word' was to attribute to him the ability to make things happen.

We can bring our own understanding of the 'Word' to help us understand this gospel. Our own understanding of words is of language, understanding and communication. Perhaps to describe Jesus as the 'Word' is to imply that he was sent as a communication between God and us.

How would we have recorded the beginning of Jesus' public ministry? We may have been tempted to record his great deeds as any well-trained newspaper reporter may have done. We may have been tempted to place him in a political or historical context worthy of any great public figure. John however, begins his gospel by placing Jesus fairly and squarely at the centre of creation itself. The story starts with the bold statement that Jesus is the meaning behind creation, life and truth. It's a great beginning. Can we put down John's gospel; tell ourselves this has no relevance in our lives ….. or do we keep turning the pages.

Gospel Reflection for the Epiphany

Wednesday 6th January

Reach for the Stars

Today the Church commemorates the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles. We call it the ‘Epiphany’ a word derived from the Greek meaning ‘to appear’ or ‘to be shown forth’. The Epiphany is about searching for meaning purpose and revelation. The Magi were men of great learning, intellect and wealth, yet they weren’t prepared to sit back and imagine they knew it all. Guided by a star and motivated by a hunger for truth, they stepped out of their comfort zone and set out across the desert not knowing what they would find or how long it would take. It was a journey of faith and great courage.

Today’s gospel reading is an invitation for all God’s people to step out of their old way of life and search for something new.

Peace Actions for January 2021

•          Make a visit to another Christian church in your area as part of your commitment to Christian Unity Week, between 18 - 25 January in 2021.

•          Try to mark Holocaust Memorial Day -27th January

 Resources are available from the Council for Christians and Jews or Beth Shalom Holocaust Centre

•          Remember to pray for peace in the Middle East around Epiphany time.

Care For Our Common Home

Christmas Recycling

Christmas is a fantastic time of year, but it can take its toll on the environment. Did you know we throw away 1 billion cards and enough wrapping paper to reach the Moon every year? The Woodland Trust gives us a couple of ideas for recycling our Christmas waste.

Christmas cards

After cutting off any glitter or other unrecyclable embellishments, Christmas cards can be put in household recycling in most areas. Before recycling, consider whether you can get any more use out of your cards. You could get creative and upcycle them into decorations or gift tags for next Christmas.

Wrapping paper

Wrapping paper recycling depends on what material it's made from. Anything with glitter or foil is an instant no-no. If you're not sure, a quick and easy way to check is the scrunch test. Scrunch the paper into a ball. If it stays closed, it's recyclable - though any plastic tape, ribbons and tags need removing first. Never throw away a gift or bottle bag. Just remove the label and re-use next year.

Putting Unwanted Gifts to Good Use

At this time of year our local charity shops are urging us to donate our unwanted Christmas presents. Charities are on the lookout for any un-needed items to sell on to fund vital work.

Every year people receive presents that are the wrong size, or just not to their taste. These unwanted presents can make an extraordinary difference to our charity shops. Don't leave your unwanted gifts to gather dust, put them to good use.

New Year Resolution

Top three tips for making your resolution work

•          Make your goals realistic and achievable.

•          Plan your resolution in detail with timelines.

•          Ask God to help you stick to the plan.

Bitesize

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.

Edith Lovejoy Pierce

 

Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

January 1st 2021

The first day of the year is the day the Church sets aside for honouring Mary. Mary represents true discipleship. Mary exhibits a life of hearing, seeing, and telling of God’s marvellous deeds. Mary inspires us to consider deeply the significance of events in our own lives. Do we journey through life oblivious to the world around us, or do we resolve to make some kind of impact? Maybe instead of making new year resolutions to lose weight or make more money, we should resolve this year to be more like Mary.

Dates for your Diary

World Day of Peace :-                            1st January 2021

Peace Sunday:-                                     17th January

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity:    18th January-25th January

Have a Happy ‘Peace Making’ New Year

No-one can solve all the world's problems. To try would be to dissipate one's energies and achieve nothing. The best thing we can do is to focus all our efforts and attention on just one problem and hope our endeavours will make a difference to it. There's no shortage of big issues; global warming, natural disasters, international terrorism, poverty, pollution, child exploitation, and famine to name just a few. The one thing that all these problems have in common is that the more money, resources and manpower you allocate to them the greater improvement you are likely to effect as a result. Fund raising, campaigning, and awareness raising are all good starting points. Happy New ‘Peace Making’ Year.

Diary 2021 Through the Year With Mary :McBride Denis CSSR

This hardback diary features a beautiful painting each month and a thought-provoking reflection by Fr Denis McBride that accompanies Mary throughout the year. Mary demonstrates to us how we should mother the word of God.  We should take the word to ourselves so that it becomes us, part of our very being, and then we should give it away. 

This 2021 diary is A5 in size and has a practical full week to view across a double page spread; each week includes either a prayer, quotation, insight into the artwork for the month or a detail of the beautiful image that will help you to see it in a different way. Included in the diary is an introduction from Fr Denis, year planners for both 2021 and 2022, key dates and feast days, notes pages, and a ribbon page marker. All of these features make it the ideal faith companion, appointment organiser and thoughtful gift.  (ISBN:9780852315958)

Order online at www.paulineuk.org/browse/item/diary-2021-through-the-year-with-mary/9780852315958

Bitesize

It's not that some people have willpower and some don't. It's that some people are ready to change and others are not.

    James Gordon, M.D.

27th December

Gospel Reflection for the Feast of the Holy Family

Moral Foundation

We’ve survived Christmas! All the toys that shot up in price just prior to Christmas are all in bits under the sofa and our children are playing happily with the cardboard boxes. Meanwhile we are living on turkey leftovers and whatever else is stuck to the back of the freezer. In all truth we are feeling a little calmer. Now is actually a better time to think about the Christmas meaning than Christmas day itself. Now that the pressure has lifted, we find ourselves with a bit of time to think about the Holy Family, and our how their values impact own family values.

In today’s gospel we see Mary and Joseph presenting their new baby at the temple. They both knew that their child was destined for great things. How would they prepare their child for the role he was born for? There’s a famous quote by Martin Luther King Jnr. It reads, “If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values – rediscover that all reality hinges on moral foundations, and that all reality has spiritual control” The spirituality that each of us holds today began in childhood, from a time we cannot even remember.

Mary and Joseph were simple folk who would bring up their son in exactly the same way regardless of whether he was destined to be a carpenter or the Messiah. We can all learn a valuable lesson from this about family values and parenting. We don’t have to lavish expensive iPads and Xboxes on our children for them to know they are loved. Jesus was born into the poorest of circumstances but he grew up with parents who led by example in an atmosphere of love, wisdom and courage.

Whether our children are destined for greatness or not is irrelevant, today we are told to teach our children by our own good example. If we want our children to grow up in a particular way, we have to start by demonstrating it in our own lives from today.

Holy Innocents Day  : Childermas

28th December

Holy Innocents Day, once also known as ‘Childermas’, falls on 28th December. It commemorates King Herod’s massacre of all male infants in and around Bethlehem under the age of two in an attempt to kill the young Christ. In the days when Christmas was less child centred, Childermas was a time for indulging children with treats and parties.

Today is a day we might consider supporting a children’s charity such as

Barnardos, NSPCC, UNICEF, and Save The Children.