SOMETHING NEW FOR 2021            

Gospel Reflection for the Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time 20th June 2021

Transcending Life’s Storms

 

Fear of what others might think of us; Fear of getting things wrong; Fear of our children getting things wrong; Fear of poverty; Fear of the bills in the letter box; Fear of opposition; Fear of illness; Fear of loneliness or alienation; Fear of running out of time; Most of us fear something, and our fears all have something in common. We fear most, the things that seem beyond our control.

In today’s gospel the disciples are out in their fishing boat when a storm whips up the waves. Water crashes into the little fishing boat threatening to sink it. Jesus sleeps on a cushion in the stern, and to the disciples he seems not to care. Can we identify with the frightened disciples? When our lives are out of control that’s when most of us pray our hardest, and when our prayers are answered we either thank God, or perhaps if we’re honest, we imagine that the problem wasn’t as bad as we thought in the first place. Only when God seems indifferent to our prayers is our faith called into real question. If God has the power to quell life’s storms why does he seem to remain indifferent? The trouble with God is that he doesn’t rush round fixing the lottery for us or texting us with our dream job. Would we really expect God to behave like this? Yet it’s at times when God seems to do nothing that we need our faith most. It’s at times like this that our faith is hardest to find.

It’s a very useful exercise to look back at life and take a second look at the seemingly insurmountable problems that we have navigated in the past. We might imagine that we have conquered our own problems single handed. In retrospect, it is clear that God has steered us safely through the storms often in totally unexpected and surprising ways. The great comfort is that if God has helped us before, he will help us again and again.

We will always have fear, it’s part of our human condition, but as Christians we have a way of transcending it. We are asked to remember Jesus’ words “Why are you so frightened? How is it that you have no faith?” We are asked to remember that even the wind and the sea obey him. If we have faith that Jesus is the master of our lives and that God has ultimate control, then we need feel no fear.

Day for Life (England and Wales) 20th June 2021

Day for Life is marked on different days in England and Wales, Ireland and Scotland. Day for Life is marked this year on June 20th in England and Wales. Each year takes a different focus. This year the focus is on ‘Assisted Dying’. Online resources at    www.dayforlife.org/article/online-resources/

 

Thomas More and John Fisher

Matters of Conscience   22nd June

 

On this day we remember those who suffer persecution, oppression and denial of human rights.

Close friends, Thomas More and John Fisher, refused to render allegiance to King Henry VIII as the Head of the Church. As a result they were tried and convicted of treason and executed. Thomas More told the court that he could not go against his conscience and wished his judges that "we may yet hereafter in heaven merrily all meet together to everlasting salvation."

Today we are not asked to die for matters of conscience but we are asked to live by them.

Nativity of John the Baptist   24th June

A prophet is simply a spokesperson, a job each of us could undertake to varying degrees. Like John, each of us is born for a purpose. The ministry of John the Baptist continues in each of us.

Care for Our Common Home

Bee Happy : Summer Time Eco-tip

Bees pollinate nearly 90% of plant species and they contribute to more than 35% of the world’s food supply, but they’re under threat.

To do:-

Give pollinators an extra boost in your backyard by planting a variety of wildflowers and native plants to provide nectar that will bloom throughout the season. You can build bee boxes for bees to make their home. Leave a flat saucer of water lined with pebbles or marbles to create a bee watering station.

 

Bitesize

There is much in the world to make us afraid.  There is much more in our faith to make us unafraid. 

 

Frederick W.Cropp

Gospel Reflection for the Eleventh Sunday

of Ordinary Time 13th June 2021

Small Beginnings

Seeds are amazing! We plant them, provide the right environment and then wait. Miraculously, the seeds flower into an array of fabulous plants. We can help the plants to grow, but we cannot make them grow, this power is out of our hands. Ultimately we cannot predict the harvest. The seeds of faith work in the same way. We can teach someone else about God but ultimately that is all we can do. People react to God’s word in countless different ways, ways we cannot predict. Jesus’ first disciples were to take comfort in the knowledge that although they were entrusted to plant the seeds of faith, they were not responsible for the harvest …. God would take care of that.

The task of planting the seeds of faith in the twenty first century can seem as daunting as it must have seemed to those early disciples. Can we really make any difference to a world that allows daily atrocities? Today’s gospel offers yet more consolation. Jesus speaks of the tiny mustard seed. Despite its insignificant appearance it grows into an impressive shrub substantial enough to provide shade. It’s thought provoking that such a humble seed should provide so impressive a result. Jesus teaches us that we mustn’t be overwhelmed when faced with a seemingly overwhelming task. We must simply implement Christ’s teaching with whatever humble means we have, and leave God to do the rest.

Why does the G7 Summit matter?

This week has seen G7 leaders meeting in the UK.

The G7 is an important meeting because the heads of government attending the summit are the leaders of some of the world’s richest and most powerful countries.

Decisions taken at these meetings impact people across the world. The 2021 summit is especially important because G7 leaders will be discussing how the world can rebuild and recover from the pandemic. This meeting is one of two gatherings of world leaders the UK will host this year, alongside the COP26 climate talks in November. Watch this space.

Pack a Fairtrade Picnic Basket

National Picnic Week 13th-21st June 2021

 Picnicking is one of the UK’s most enjoyable summer traditions, and is a great way of taking advantage of any open spaces in the local area over the warmer months of the year.

If you're picnicking remember to pack a Fairtrade picnic basket. There are plenty of Fairtrade fruits, wines, juices and chocolates to choose from.

Refugee Week 2021

We Cannot Walk Alone 14th-20th June

Refugee Week is a UK-wide programmer of arts, cultural and educational events and activities that celebrates the contribution of refugees to the UK and promotes better understanding of why people seek sanctuary. Anyone can take part by organising, attending or taking part in activities. With immigration and asylum very much in the news, this is a week in which we examine the welcome we offer to people struggling to improve their lot in life. Next Sunday is Sanctuary Sunday.

Bike Week   13th-21st June

Maybe you’ve been thinking about getting the bicycle out of mothballs for some time, but never getting around to it. The excuses are running out! The weather is getting warmer, and it’s ‘Bike Week,’ so a lot more people will be leaving their cars at home and cycling to work or school. The advantages are obvious. You will feel fitter, you will save vast amounts of cash, and if a lot more people took to peddle power, the planet would be a healthier place too.

Bitesize

Consider the postage stamp: its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing till it gets there.

Josh Billings

Gospel Reflection for ‘The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ’

Living Memory 6th June 2021

What if we forgot the sacrifices people have made for us? What if we forgot all about the martyrs who died so that we could have religious freedom? What if we forgot all about the soldiers who fought and died so that we could enjoy political freedom? What if we forgot the grandparents and parents who have sacrificed their own comforts to make our lives better? The answer is obvious. If we forgot the sacrifices others have made for us we would have little or no appreciation of what is important in our world. We would have no understanding of what has made us who we are.

At the Last Supper Jesus charges us to keep his memory alive. We must break bread and drink wine in his name. In celebrating the Eucharist we celebrate the memory of his passion and death. As we break bread and drink wine in his name we recall Jesus’ opposition to religious sham, his commitment to forgiveness and inner healing, his determination to overcome sin, his promise to feed us, and his ultimate sacrifice.

When we remember the soldiers who have for died for our freedom we remember how important it is to fight against oppression and injustice. When we remember the sacrifices our parents have made for us we remember to do them credit in everything we achieve. When we come together to share in Holy Communion, we remember that we are offered the sustenance to step out of church and live Christ’s memory in everything we do.

Gospel Reflection for the Most Holy Trinity 30th May 2021

Don't Keep It To Yourself!

If we have heard a wonderful concert, read a great book or laughed at a new comedy, we are keen to share the experience. We want to talk about that comedy in work the next day or lend the book to a friend so that they can enjoy it too. We are not so keen to share what our faith means to us. We don't want to be accused of 'bible bashing' or to be considered odd. Past experience has taught us that we can easily bore our friends with religious rhetoric. Many a heated row has ensued between family and friends of different faiths. As a result, we have learned to keep our mouths shut; yet in today's gospel we are told to "go and make disciples of all in the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit."

The message is clear. We are told that the God who will be with us until the end of the age wants us to teach all that Jesus has commanded. We have been asked to do this in the name of the Father who made us, the Son who taught us, and the Holy Sprit that enables us. We have not been asked to keep our mouths shut!

We don't have to be boring or start a family feud to pass on what we know. There are many absorbing subjects in the bible that we can discuss at different levels. Many would advocate setting a good example as the best method of teaching. Whatever ways we choose, the message today is 'don't keep it to yourself.'

 

The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary 31st May

After the angel Gabriel had announced to Mary that she was to become the mother of Our Lord, Mary went from Galilee to Judea to visit her kinswoman Elizabeth, soon to be the mother of John the Baptist. Elizabeth greeted Mary with the words, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb." Mary burst forth with the song of praise, which we call the Magnificat, beginning, "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord." We are told that even John the Baptist, still unborn, leaped for joy in his mother's womb. We are shown, side by side, the two women, one seemingly too old to have a child, but destined to bear the last prophet of the Old Covenant, of the age that was passing away; and the other woman, seemingly not ready to have a child, but destined to bear the one who was himself the beginning of the New Covenant, the age that would not pass away.

Cyclone Yaas

The Tropical Cyclone Yaas ravaged parts of India's eastern coast last week, a spokesperson for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said the world body and its agencies stand ready to support the response efforts, while expressing concern that lack of social distancing in emergency shelters and temporary suspension of vaccination campaigns amid the COVID-19 pandemic could further complicate the health crisis.

You can continue to support India with your donations at www.cafod.org.uk/News/Emergencies-news/India-coronavirus

Bitesize

Sometimes it seems like God is difficult to find and impossibly far away. We get so caught up in our small daily duties and irritations that they become the only things that we can focus on. What we forget is that God's love and beauty are all around us, every day, if only we would take the time to look up and see them.

Matthias, Correction Weblog, 11-01-03

 

 

Gospel Reflection for 23rd May 2021

The disciples who for weeks had hidden away for fear of the Jews suddenly started behaving in an astonishing way. They came out of hiding and started teaching in many languages. What had got into them? Quite simply, the Holy Spirit had got into them as Jesus had promised. Those previously terrified people were suddenly filled with courage, energy, inspiration, purpose and conviction.

What is truly exciting about the Pentecost story is that we too have been given that very same Spirit in our baptism. So if we have received the same Spirit as was breathed into those first disciples, why can’t we rush round doing amazing things too? One answer might be that we haven’t really tried yet. One answer might be that to date we haven’t really been tested? Another answer perhaps is that we can’t quite place our faith in it. How sad though if the Pentecost story is simply a story contained by the past. How sad if we don’t believe the men and women of our own time whose inspirational lives and huge courage point to the work of the Holy Spirit … men and women who far from being super human were born just the same as the rest of us.

The Holy Spirit is given to all of us, and with it comes the power to transform the world … the first disciples knew it ... now it’s our turn.

  • Happy Birthday Church
  • The Feast of Pentecost is often referred to as the birthday of the Church? It’s called that because Pentecost is when the apostles went out among the people and began spreading Jesus’ message, thus establishing the beginning of the Church. On this day we are asked to pray for the Church and her continued growth.
  • Pentecost, Greek for 50th day, is celebrated by Christians fifty days after Easter. Originally it was a Jewish feast that concluded the fifty days of Passover.
  • In Britain, Pentecost is also called Whitsun, because on this day new Christians used to be baptised. Often they wore white, so Pentecost was known as White Sunday. White Sunday was then shortened to Whitsun.
  • To celebrate Pentecost, read the Acts of the Apostles. Find out what happened to the Church following the events of Pentecost.

 

Call for an immediate end to violence in the Middle East

We need an immediate end to escalating violence in the region, and a renewed commitment to peace, justice and human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory. A lack of international action has failed to prevent this latest spate of violence or address the underlying causes, including the creeping annexation of land and homes in the occupied Palestinian territory enabled and encouraged by successive Israeli governments.

The right to a home is a fundamental human right, and it is a question of justice for Palestinian inhabitants in the region to be able to live, work and pray with dignity. We must speak up now to urge the UK government to move beyond statements and take concrete action to support an immediate end to all violence in the region before any more lives are lost.

Consider writing to your MP today, asking them to raise these concerns with the Foreign Secretary on your behalf. To find out how, visit www.action.cafod.org.uk/page/82660/action/1

 

National Missing Children's Day Day of Prayer 25th May

International Missing Children's Day, 25 May, is a day where people around the world commemorate the missing children who have found their way home, remember those who have been victims of crime, and continue efforts to find those who are still missing. The main purpose of International Missing Children's Day is to encourage everyone to think about children who remain missing and to spread a message of hope and prayer.

Bitesize

We all have the extraordinary coded within us, waiting to be released.

Jean Houston

Gospel Reflection for the Seventh Sunday of Easter 16th May 2021

Wanted:- People to Spread a Little Love

 

In our current situation of pandemic and climate change, we are probably all feeling in need of a little love. Across the globe there is unprecedented need. There are millions in need of a little love. Today Jesus is telling us that it is up to us all to spread that love in as many practical and prayerful ways that we can think of. Are we up for the job?

 

Today we hear of Jesus' prayer for us. As Jesus was sent, so too we are sent to continue his mission and spread his love. Key to continuing Jesus' mission we are told that although we are of this world we must not to be possessed or tied down by worldly concerns.

How should it feel to be entrusted with such an important job? Well for most of us, it is something we don't think about nearly enough.  We are told not to let the world tie us down, but that's most definitely easier said than done. In truth we are very much of this world. We spend most of our lives worrying about work, money, illness, relationships and commitments. It's very hard to rise above worldly concerns. In fact for most of us it just seems impossible.

On this Sunday we celebrate World Communication Day, and it feels a timely opportunity to consider the task we have been set. The first disciples continued Jesus' mission without planes, trains, without a postal service, without  TV or radio and without the internet. Yet thanks to these early disciples we know Jesus' name throughout the entire globe two thousand years down the line. We have a much easier job than the early disciples had. Now all we need is a little bit of their drive and passion. So how can we capture some of that motivation?

For most of us, the day to day job of putting meals on the table takes up more of our time than the vital job of continuing Jesus' mission. Yet we all know someone who manages to strike that all important balance. We all know at least one person who sets a shining example. Perhaps it's here that we will find our motivation. Perhaps the people we most admire provide us with a model of who we ourselves would like to be. With a good example to emulate and our twenty first century means to spread God's love, the job is not beyond us.

World Communications Day 2021

Come and See

“The invitation to “come and see”, which was part of those first moving encounters of Jesus with the disciples, is also the method for all authentic human communication. In order to tell the truth of life that becomes history (cf. Message for the 54th World Communications Day, 24 January 2020), it is necessary to move beyond the complacent attitude that we “already know” certain things. Instead, we need to go and see them for ourselves, to spend time with people, to listen to their stories and to confront reality, which always in some way surprises us. “

From Pope Francis' World Communications Day Message

Pope Francis warns us of the great issue of reporting. Investigative reporting is sometimes side stepped in favour of faster means. Some reporters are coming to rely on creating stories without ever ‘hitting the streets’, creating stories in front of computers and social networks. We in turn learn about the world from newscasts and the internet without ever meeting people face to face. Today’s invitation is to learn about the world through genuine encounter.

Pray for Our Schools

It’s exam season again, but because of the pandemic and exam cancellations, the onus of assessing our children’s achievements falls squarely on the shoulders of our schools. This month we are asked to pray for senior leaders, school governors, teachers, parents, and of course our children that they may all negotiate unchartered waters with resilience and confidence.

Mary’s Meals

Mary’s Meals provides one good meal to some of the world’s poorest children every school day.

The charity's work is named after Mary, the mother of Jesus, who brought up her own child in poverty. Mary’s Meals consists of, respects, and reaches out to people of all faiths and of none.

In Ethiopa £15.90 is all it costs for 'Mary's Meals' to feed a child for a whole year. In the month of May (Mary's month) the charity is reaching out to us all for prayer and financial support. You can donate online at  www.marysmeals.org.uk/donate

World Day for Cultural Diversity 21st May

We all have affection for our own culture, and perhaps it’s our human need for roots that makes us overly nostalgic of our own culture and perhaps a little resistant to the culture of others. Today we are asked to look at other cultures and see what is important to our neighbours. Appreciating cultural diversity is the first step in creating a healthy society.

Bitesize

You are not here merely to make a living. You are here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, and with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world. You impoverish yourself if you forget this errand.

Woodrow Wilson

 

Gospel Reflection for Sixth Sunday of Easter 9th May 2021

Love’s Guarantee

 

Do you jump out of bed in the morning with feelings of purpose and joy, or do you drag yourself out of bed with feelings of boredom or even dread?

Today Jesus is giving us a recipe for joy. If we determine to love our neighbours, our lives will inevitably be filled with huge purpose and great happiness. That’s a guarantee! This is another guarantee. If we all knew how to love, the world would be a happier place, and as a happier place it would also be a more peaceful and a safer place in which to live.

We probably think we already know what love is, but today’s challenge is to think of how many ways in which we can love. We are encouraged to think of love in practical terms. Perhaps we could start with our families, letting them know how much we appreciate them and how proud we are of them. Do we need to think of people we haven’t forgiven, or wrongs that we haven’t put right? Perhaps there are people we have given up on instead of seeking to understand. Do we tend to put ourselves first on a regular basis? Are there people we have overlooked or ignored? Are we lazy about educating ourselves as to the way other people live and the problems they face? Do we remember to love the strangers that we meet every day, offering them respect and a helping hand? Do we share love in the workplace, remembering not to gossip and to pull our weight? Do we remember to share our time, our money, our skills and our talents? Most importantly do we ever stop and imagine what it would be like to walk in someone else’s shoes.

The gospel’s promise is that if we start each day determining to spread God’s love, we will start to feel more complete. We will be filled with a joy for life. That’s a guarantee!

The Ascension of the Lord Holyday of Obligation Thursday 13th May

 

On this day Jesus tells us, “Go throughout the whole world and preach the gospel to all mankind.” We are reminded that it is our job to make God known to everyone. Making God known to the whole world might feel like a bit of a tall order, but we need only start with our own comer. Like  weeding a garden … if we each concentrate on our own patch the garden will soon be a small paradise!

 

COVID-19 In India  CAFOD Appeal

India is facing a devastating second wave of coronavirus. The country has confirmed more than 20 million cases and more than 200,000 deaths, with some reports concerned that the number of deaths is just the tip of the iceberg, because of under reporting.

The pandemic has put a strain on the medical infrastructure of the country, with hospitals unable to cope with the influx of patients. Our Catholic aid agencies will be distributing medical kits and setting up temporary treatment centres as well as providing PPE to frontline health workers.

You can help by donating online at www.cafod.org.uk/News/Emergencies-news/India-coronavirus-response

 

Care for Our Common Home  Walk to Work Week  10-16th May 2021

 

Jumping into the car or onto a bus can be little more than a habit. More often or not, walking is just as easy an option. The benefits are obvious.  Feel healthier and burn some calories, blow away the cobwebs and relieve your stress levels, save money, and most importantly, cut your environmental footprint. Remember to involve the whole family; next week is ‘Walk to School Week’.

 

International Day of Families  15th May

 

It’s within our families that we first learn the values that stick with us for the rest of our lives. The problem is that nowadays, we are so busy, that we hardly get time to talk to our children. Half the time we don’t even sit down to eat together. A typical family meal time might see children eating with one eye still on the iPad and one or both parents working late. Children aren’t going to adopt strong values by magic! Today is an invitation to work out how much more time we should spend with our children and how we are going to achieve it.

 

Bite Size

To love as Christ loves is to let our love be a practical thing and not a sentimental thing.

Sir Charles Villiers Stanford

 

 

Gospel Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Easter 2nd May

Branching Out

 

There’s a lot of work to do in today’s world. Almost daily, the TV and Radio brings terrible news of atrocities and disasters around the planet. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the bad news and to feel powerless to do anything. We do not consider that we can individually instigate change for lots of reasons. We do not feel clever enough, or brave enough or rich enough. In short it’s hard to know where to begin and even whether change is possible. The inspirational message in today’s gospel is that we can make changes as long as we work together.

We are already familiar with the ethos of trade unions. Trade unions operate on one powerful principal. Individually we can be easily overlooked but together we have the power to sway governments. If a trade union wanted to promote solidarity and unity, the vine would make an ideal logo. The vine itself is the heart of the union, the part that determines the ethos. The branches do the work of the vine and the fruit they bear is the outcome …. the final result.

Today we are told that with Christ as our vine we can do great things. All too often we become wrapped up in developing our own spirituality, trying to work out what God means to us as an individual ….. striving to find our niche. It’s easy to forget that we are part of a huge family of people the biggest union on the planet. With Christ’s teaching and pruning, we as a body, have the ability to transform the world by putting faith into action. Our individual responsibility is to look for ways in which we can become part of the overall plan. We don’t have to branch out alone; we branch out as a team.

Pope Francis’s Prayer Intention for May

Poverty, mathematician Eli Khamarov said, is like punishment for a crime you didn't commit. Dictatorial and corrupt governments can make what could be a very rich nation into a poor one. And so does a history of exploitative colonization, weak rule of law, war and social unrest, severe climate conditions or hostile, aggressive neighbours. It is often hard to pinpoint a single cause of long-term poverty, hence why economists often refer to “cycles” of poverty. For example, a country in debt will not be able to afford good schools, and a poorly educated workforce will be less capable of fixing problems and creating conditions that will attract foreign investment.

This month we are invited to share in Pope Francis’s prayer intention  “…that those in charge of finance will work with governments to regulate the financial sphere and protect citizens from its dangers.”

Global Prayer Marathon for the Month of May

Pope Francis has called for a global prayer marathon for the entire month of May, praying for the end to the pandemic.

“The initiative will involve in a special way all shrines in the world” in promoting the initiative so that individuals, families and communities all take part in reciting the rosary.

It is the heartfelt desire of the Holy Father that the month of May be dedicated to a prayer marathon dedicated to the theme, ‘from the entire church an unceasing prayer rises to God.’ The theme refers to the miraculous event recounted in the Acts of the Apostles (12:1-12) when all the church prayed for Peter, who was imprisoned until God sent an angel to free him, illustrating how the Christian community comes together to pray in the face of danger and how the Lord listens and performs an unexpected miracle.

Peace Actions for May

  • There are a couple of dates coming up where we are invited to think of the planet. Walk to School Week  17th-21st May; and World Environment Day on 5th June.
  • There are a couple of dates coming where we are asked to consider our neighbours. World Fair Trade Day 8th May;  World Day for Cultural Diversity on 21st May; and World Hunger Day on the 28th May.
  • And a couple of opportunities to think about the ways we work to keep the peace. World Communications Day on 16th May; and the International Day of UN Peacekeepers on 29th May.
  • There are a couple of dates coming up where we are invited to think of the planet. Walk to School Week  17th-21st May; and World Environment Day on 5th June.
  • There are a couple of dates coming where we are asked to consider our neighbours. World Fair Trade Day 8th May;  World Day for Cultural Diversity on 21st May; and World Hunger Day on the 28th May.
  • And a couple of opportunities to think about the ways we work to keep the peace. World Communications Day on 16th May; and the International Day of UN Peacekeepers on 29th May.

World Fair Trade Day  8th May

Do Your Bit

The pandemic has made it clear, the world needs Fair Trade more than ever. Lockdowns are happening the world over, with many communities fending for themselves. Economically marginalised communities face a particular challenge, with the combined threat of the pandemic, alongside the destruction of their livelihoods.

Fair Trade Enterprises remain deeply committed to these communities. To support them, Fair Trade Enterprises are innovating and persevering. They are paying their workers, making masks, creating new plans and connecting the world over. During the pandemic and beyond, they put artisans, farmers and workers first. Through thick and thin, these enterprises continue to stand in solidarity with their communities. Do your bit and pick up Fairtrade items in the supermarket on May 8th and consider making small shopping changes a regular habit. 

Bitesize

None of us is as smart as all of us.

 

Gospel Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Easter

25th April

The Good Shepherd

Today’s gospel is for anyone who has ever felt unloved or insignificant. Today’s gospel is for anyone who feels his or her life doesn’t count for much.  At some time or another that probably means most of us.

In biblical days shepherding was a highly dangerous business. Herds might consist of thousands of sheep, and shepherds had to be highly skilled in tending for the sheep and protecting them from wolves and robbers. The shepherd’s care and courage were legendary. A good shepherd would not think twice about his own life in protecting his sheep. This is the image that Jesus chose for himself in today’s gospel. He is the good shepherd. His leadership is a mixture of tenderness, strength and self sacrifice. Jesus loves us so much that he would lay down his life. That’s a powerful belief to take out into the world!

But what if we don’t quite believe it? Surely there are too many of us to love and look after individually. People fall by the wayside all the time. We hear tragic stories of elderly people who die alone and are not discovered for days because no one cares enough to visit. We see down and outs sleeping in subways because their family and friends have given up on them. Can God really be looking out for each and every one of us? Surely there are too many of us to look after – to love individually. Not so! Jesus we’re told would not let even one of his sheep stray without coming to the rescue. He knows each and every one of us by name. If we are one of his, then he will recognise us and take care of us. That’s another powerful belief to wake up with. The next time you are feeling lost and forgotten, try looking for the Good Shepherd’s love in your life. God’s help is always there when we look to him.

World Day of Prayer for Vocations

"For each one of us the Lord has a vocation, that place God wants us to live our lives, but we must seek it."

 “The Lord’s call is not an intrusion of God in our freedom; it is not a “cage” or a burden to be borne. On the contrary, it is the loving initiative whereby God encounters us and invites us to be part of a great undertaking. He opens before our eyes the horizon of a greater sea and an abundant catch.”

God in fact desires that our lives not become banal and predictable, imprisoned by daily routine, or unresponsive before decisions that could give it meaning.  The Lord does not want us to live from day to day, thinking that nothing is worth fighting for, slowly losing our desire to set out on new and exciting paths.  If at times he makes us experience a “miraculous catch”, it is because he wants us to discover that each of us is called – in a variety of ways – to something grand, and that our lives should not grow entangled in the nets of an ennui that dulls the heart.  Every vocation is a summons not to stand on the shore, nets in hand, but to follow Jesus on the path he has marked out for us, for our own happiness and for the good of those around us.

Taken from the Message of Pope Francis for the World Day of Vocations.

Doing Justice

A National Service of Reflection on the Anniversary of the murder of George Floyd

An array of senior Church leaders from Britain and Ireland will call for justice at a national Church service marking the first anniversary of the killing of George Floyd on 25 May 2021.

Titled Doing Justice: A National Service of Reflection on the Anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, the service will host senior Church leaders and local Christians at the NTCG Brixton Community Church in south London. They will remember the tragic death of Mr Floyd, as well as challenge churches and communities in Britain and Ireland to stand up for justice, and against racism, ignorance, and hatred.

Doing Justice: A National Service of Reflection on the Anniversary of the murder of George Floyd will be recorded on 18 May 2021 at 1pm and broadcast on 25 May 2021 at 7pm via YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ctbimedia.

Saint Joseph The Worker 1st May

In response to the ‘May Day’ celebrations for workers, Pope Pius XII instituted the feast of St Joseph the Worker in 1955.

In an effort to keep Jesus from being removed from ordinary human life, the Church has from the beginning proudly emphasised that Jesus was a carpenter, obviously trained by Joseph in both the satisfactions and the drudgery of that vocation.  As Christians and as workers, we are reminded on this day that we have an obligation to treat our brothers and sisters in Christ as true brothers and sisters.

For Human Work

On the feast of Saint Jospeh the Worker, the Church asks us to pray for those looking for work, for those who feel underemployed or undervalued, and for those in jobs where they feel pressured or trapped. We are also asked to pray for the fruits of work and for the stewardship of creation.

Care for Our Common Home : Help lock up carbon with a donation

Capturing and storing carbon from the atmosphere is vital in the fight against climate change. The 1,000-plus woodlands cared for by the Woodland Trust absorb and lock-up many tonnes of carbon each year in trees, shrubs and soils. By making a donation, you’ll help protect and add to this extensive carbon store, ensuring it continues to absorb emissions, as well as creating natural havens for wildlife and people.

To make a donation visit www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/support-us/give/personal-carbon/

Bite Size

"Sometimes it seems like God is difficult to find and impossibly far away. We get so caught up in our small daily duties and irritations that they become the only things that we can focus on. What we forget is that God's love and beauty are all around us, every day, if only we would take the time to look up and see them."

Gospel Reflection for the Third Sunday of Easter

18th April

Enlightenment

 

When we are struggling with our faith, we might be tempted to think that as long as we are ‘good people’ that will suffice. But what sets those who are simply ‘good people’ and ‘Christians’ apart?

 

The other disciples were really not so very different from Doubting Thomas. When they saw Jesus in their midst, they took some convincing that it really was Jesus and not a ghost that had come to visit them. The gospel outlines three pieces of proof that Jesus uses to convince them that he really has risen from the dead. He shows them the marks on his hands and feet, he invites them to touch and check that he is flesh and blood, and he shares a meal with them. But it is only when Jesus opens their minds to understanding the scriptures that they come to believe in him. By interpreting what has happened, the risen Christ draws the disciples out of their confusion. Amongst some of his famous last words to them, were words of encouragement to go and preach his message and a reminder of prophecies fulfilled and promises made.

Being a Christian today isn’t easy, and simply accepting the Jesus we have grown up with sometimes isn’t enough to sustain us. Perhaps we have given up believing and think that being a good person will be good enough. Understanding the difference between living life simply as a good person, and living life as a Christian comes of believing in the risen Jesus. As Christians we are continually striving to follow Christ’s example. Today, through prayer, scripture debate, and putting faith into action, we continually work for the same enlightenment and understanding that Jesus gave his early disciples. To find that enlightenment we need to look to scripture as the disciples did. We need to look at the authors of the books within the Bible and understand who they were, something of the times they lived in, and who their audience was. There are commentaries to read and videos to watch, and of course, the Bible itself. We don’t need to be great scholars. The original disciples weren’t. All we need is the desire for enlightenment.

 

Care for Our Common Home Earth Day 22nd April 2021

Together, we can prevent the coming disasters of climate change and environmental destruction. Together, we can restore our Earth. On this year’s Earth Day the hope is to see a billion ‘Acts of Green’ across the planet. From students in classrooms to organisers in their communities to officials in government there are ways for anyone of any background to make a difference. Start small and go big — or start big and stay big. Either way, create a green action on this day.

 

Saint George 23rd April

Okay, it's highly unlikely that St George ever killed a dragon, or for that matter that he ever arrived on the shores of England. Perhaps we could use the feast day as a 'prompt' to slay our own dragons whatever they might be ..... laziness, greed, the need to gossip or put people down. Happy St George's Day!

 

Fashion Revolution Week 19th-25th April

Human rights and the rights of nature are interconnected and interdependent; we are part of the wider living world and our right to a healthy environment depends on the health of our planet.

The human exploitation and ecosystem degradation we see all around us today are the product of centuries of colonialism and globalised exploitation.

The fashion industry as an example,  reinforces inequality and devalues the voices of minority groups, people of colour, women and non-western perspectives.

‘Fashion Revolution Week’ was launched to encourage everyone to ask who made their clothes and where their clothes are made from and push fashion brands to be more transparent on how their clothes are produced. Ask yourself, if a price tag is just too good to be true, it probably is it someone else’s expense.

 

Give Thanks for Your Vaccination.

As more of our family, friends, and neighbours receive their COVID vaccinations, we rejoice and are glad that our loved ones are protected. We give thanks for all the NHS staff and key workers who continue to save lives across the UK.

For the poorest and most vulnerable communities across the world, there is little hope of a vaccine rollout. These people already face a lack of water, food, and healthcare.

Our aid agencies are already on the ground, helping keep people safe from coronavirus with practical support – but with your gift of thanks they can do more.

Donate online at CAFOD, Trocaire, SCIAF and Christian Aid.

 

Recommended Brilliant!

24 Catholic Scientists, Mathematicians, and Supersmart People by David Michael Warren

In an effort to help children learn about the relationship between faith and science, the Daughters of St. Paul, a premiere publisher of Catholic children’s books for over seventy years through Pauline Books & Media, have partnered with the Word on Fire Institute to present an exciting new book for children: ‘Brilliant! 25 Catholic Scientists, Mathematicians, and Supersmart People’. The book introduces children to many of the Catholics who have been behind ground-breaking discoveries in science and math for centuries. Children will embark on an adventure through history where they’ll meet faith-filled pioneers in every field from anatomy to astrophysics. They’ll walk in the footsteps of these supersmart Catholics who changed the world and learn how brilliant they can be when they unite faith and science!

Order online at ww.paulineuk.org/browse/item/Brilliant-24-Catholic-Scientists-Mathematicians-and-Supersmart-Peope

(ISBN:9780819812483)

 

Bitesize

God understands our prayers even when we can't find the words to say them.

Author Unknown

Gospel Reflection for the Second Sunday of Easter

11th April.

The Way Forward

For those who find belief elusive, there is an uncomfortable beatitude in today’s gospel. “Happy are those who have not seen and have believed.” This can feel like a reproach to those of us who harbour doubts, but the important thing to remember is that doubt can be a good thing. Doubt means that we are still questioning something that we care about. Doubt means that we are still looking for answers …..  that we are still learning and growing. Doubt is a tool that we can use to carve a mature faith. Belief isn’t something we either have or haven’t got … belief is a process, and the end product of that process, is one’s own spiritual self.

The story of ‘Doubting Thomas’ is aimed at all those generations of people who will not see the risen Lord, yet are asked to believe. So are we really being asked to believe in what we cannot see or hear or touch, when even those closest to Jesus had problems in accepting what was happening?

In today’s gospel we see Thomas struggling with a problem that many of us still struggle with today. Thomas desperately wanted to believe in the risen Jesus, but he wasn’t the sort of person to pretend he understood something when he didn’t. He wasn’t the sort of person that could pretend that he didn’t have doubts when he did. There are many of us today who desperately want deeper meaning in our lives. There are those amongst us who have become disillusioned with the Church and wish they could embrace what it once meant. There are many of us who would like to find a deeper faith but have found only stumbling blocks. Like Thomas, we find that the gap between faith and doubt too big a leap. The good news is that just as Jesus showed Thomas patience so he will be patient with us too. The good news is that just as Jesus gave Thomas a way to forward his faith so too will we be shown a way forward if we want it enough.

Divine Mercy Sunday

 This Sunday is popularly known as ‘Mercy of God Sunday.’ Between 1930 and 1938 Christ appeared to Sister Faustina, a Sister of Mercy in Poland who initiated the Divine Mercy devotion. She was canonized on April 30th, 2000, the Sunday after Easter, the Feast of Divine Mercy. The second Sunday of Easter is also known as 'Low Sunday' or 'Thomas Sunday'.

St. Bernadette Soubirous 16th April

Millions of people have come to the spring Bernadette uncovered for healing of body and spirit, but she found no relief from ill health there herself. Interestingly Bernadette moved through life, guided only by blind faith in things she did not understand. Blind faith is something we might find uncomfortable in this day and age, but it’s something we are all guided by from time to time. Maybe there are times we have to accept that blind faith is better than blind doubt.

Recommended Viewing

Beyond the Cross

'Beyond the Cross' is a five-part art and culture series that you can watch on Youtube.

'Beyond the Cross' follows the Risen Christ through the artist's eye taking in some of the main encounters of the season of Easter.

You can watch the first episode at  www.youtube.com/watch?v=hP8NJGApz3Y

You can also access this at www.cbcew.org.uk/home/events/beyond-the-cross

Care for Our Common Home

Trees For Tom

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Captain Sir Tom Moore raised over £38 million for the NHS. Now his family wish to honour his love of nature and the natural world by planting trees in his memory.

Captain Sir Tom Moore voiced his concern about what the future holds for his grandchildren. By planting new trees, his legacy will help combat climate change - and bring so many other benefits - around the world.

The family has chosen to plant trees in the UK with the Woodland Trust. The Woodland Trust have planted 50 million trees since it began in 1972, and have plans for 50 million more over the next five years.

Remember Captain Sir Tom Moore and create a brighter future today. Donate to plant trees at

www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/support-us/give/trees-for-tom

Bite Size

“I respect faith, but doubt is what gets you an education.”

Wilson Mizner

Gospel Reflection for Easter Sunday 4th April 2021

Never Give Up!

Winston Churchill was invited to speak to a boys' school in England during the most difficult days of World War II. He simply said these words, "Never give up, never give up, never, never, never." After this he sat down. When it was reported in the papers, it became the mantra for the British people during the darkest days of the war. This would make a good Christian mantra too. It’s a mantra that reminds us, that however dark our lives might feel, we are never abandoned. However defeated we might feel, the resurrection is there to show us that we have a future.

Easter is a good time to reaffirm our faith. The Resurrection is the culmination of Christ’s journey on this earth, and the beginning of our journey in faith. Our journey begins with belief in the Resurrection. The Resurrection reminds us that God can lift up what is cast down, mend what is broken and raise what is dead. The Resurrection didn’t of course make everything all right for us. We still have a world full of pain, sickness and sin, but now we have a hope that we didn’t have before. The empty tomb points to God working in our world. At whatever stage we are in our journey of faith, the Resurrection means that nothing can be the same again.

But what if our journey in faith has faltered or even stopped? What if the account of the empty tomb leaves us with more questions with answers? In our twenty first century, ‘belief’ sits side by side with lots of other words like ‘evidence’ and ‘measurable or tangible outcomes’. But if we are going to treat the resurrection as though it were some sort of detective story then we are travelling along the wrong path. Our journey of faith needs to rely firstly on a trust that God is working in our world. Trust is a decision and we decide to trust in all sorts of things in life from insurance to wrinkle cream and a million other inconsequentials.  Yet a decision to trust in God is the most important thing any of us will ever do. A trust in God will lead to observations day by day and those observations will lead to a spiritual relationship. That’s an exciting belief. Our spiritual journey leads us to know that God loves us. It might take a long time to know it, so today’s advice is ‘never give up’.

Pope Francis’ Prayer Intention for April 2021

All over the world, people are working to uphold the rights of others against oppression, prejudice and neglect. Many of those who risk their lives under authoritarian dictatorships, for the sake of fundamental rights, are killed. They know the risks yet are not prepared to keep quiet.

This month we are invited to join Pope Francis’ prayer intention, “… for those who risk their lives while fighting to uphold rights under authoritarian regimes and in democracies in crisis.”

Peace Actions for April 2021

•          It is likely your children are eating more chocolate than usual at the moment… make sure it’s Fairtrade. Remember that ‘The Real Easter Egg’ is the first and only Fairtrade chocolate Easter egg to explain the Christian understanding of Easter.

•          Involve your children in ‘virtual giving’. Consider buying chickens for third world families.

•          Consider supporting a charity that supports persecuted Christians…. Eg ‘Aid to the Church In Need’.

Season of Easter

Easter isn’t just one day; it’s a ‘season’. The fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost are celebrated in joyful exultation as one feast day, or better as one “great Sunday”.

The gospel readings for the first three Sundays recount the appearances of the risen Christ. The readings about the Good Shepherd are assigned to the Fourth Sunday. On the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Sundays, there are excerpts from the Lord’s discourse and prayer at the last supper.

Urbi et Orbi

BBC1 4th April 2021 at 11am

On the ninth Easter of his pontificate, Pope Francis gives his Easter message and blessing Urbi et Orbi – to the city and to the world.

Bite Size

In the midst of darkness something new always springs to life and sooner or later produces fruit.

Gospel Reflection for Passion (Palm) Sunday 28th March

We Are The Reason

 

What are we thinking when we pick up a palm and process into church on Passion Sunday?

Perhaps we are wondering how those very clever people weave their palm into a cross. Or perhaps we imagine we are commemorating an historic event. When Jesus rode his donkey into Jerusalem all those centuries ago, he was the centre of attention. Some thought he would be a powerful leader who would lead the people in an uprising against the occupying Romans. Others were just swept along in a sense of pageant. Few had grasped the true significance of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. Jesus had not come merely to overturn the Romans. Jesus’ picture was a much more universal one. Jesus’ mission was the salvation of the whole world for future generations. How many of us would remember Jesus today if his mission had been simply to lead an uprising against a Roman occupation? Jesus was riding into Jerusalem to meet his destiny. He could have heeded the warnings of his disciples and bypassed Jerusalem altogether. He could have continued his ministry of teaching and healing into old age; but whatever else Jesus was about, he certainly wasn’t about compromise. In riding into Jerusalem, Jesus was telling us that his mission to save each and every one of us was more important than life itself.

 

We can all walk into church waving our palms. We can all commemorate an historical event, but the more discerning of us know that this day is about ‘walking the walk’. We are the reason Jesus rode into Jerusalem. That’s a powerful thought. Knowing that we are the reason Jesus rode into Jerusalem, then we must honour him not with palms but with the quality of our lives.

 

Fasting and Abstinence

The Church sets aside certain penitential days and invites us to observe Ash Wednesday and Good Friday as days of fast and abstinence. ”Fasting means that the amount of food we eat is considerably reduced. Abstinence means that we give up a particular kind of food or drink or form of amusement”.

 

Triduum

Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil

The Easter triduum, marking the days of Jesus’ passion and resurrection, is the most important time of the Church year. It begins with the evening Mass of Holy Thursday, reaches its high point in the Easter Vigil, and closes on Easter Sunday evening.

The services during Holy Week tell a continuous story, so try if you can to attend them all

 

Mandy Thursday; Holy Thursday;  Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper.

The Easter Triduum begins with Mass on Holy Thursday evening, when Jesus sacramentally anticipated the gift he would make of himself on the cross. His command to serve others is dramatically recalled this night in the ceremony of the washing of the feet, which he performed in the supper room for his disciples.

 

Good Friday

The Good Friday rites centre around the reading of the Passion of Jesus. With simple dignity that story is retold, followed by prayers for the entire world, for this powerful mystery brings blessings to the world. On this day we are invited to venerate the cross. It is a day of fasting and quiet mourning.

 

Holy Saturday- The Easter Vigil

The Easter Vigil is the high point of the Easter Triduum celebrating the passion and resurrection of Jesus. The vigil opens with a service of light. The lighting of the fire and the Easter candle is a sign that Christ is “the light of the world,” and celebrates the victory of light over darkness that humanity has ever longed for.

 

Holy Places Collection

In most Catholic parishes around the world, a Good Friday Collection will be taken up to aid Christian parishes and their outreaches in the Holy Land. This initiative has been an annual tradition in the Church since its institution by Blessed Pope Paul VI.

According to Paul VI, the collection was created “not only for the Holy Places but above all for those pastoral, charitable, educational, and social works which the Church supports in the Holy Land for the welfare of their Christian brethren and of the local communities.”

The unforgettable faces of thousands of children and teens, fleeing violence and persecution in Syria and Iraq, continue to challenge us. The small Christian presence in the Middle East has great need of the support and attention of the entire Church.

 

Bitesize

Let God's promises shine on your problems.  

Corrie Ten Boom

 

Gospel Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Lent 21st March

A Greater Purpose

 

Living through the pandemic has felt like ‘life on hold’ for many of us. For many of us, living through the pandemic has prompted us to rethink how we should be spending our lives. How best should we spend the time we have left?  In a life or death situation, human nature would always prompt us to hold on to life no matter what the consequences, but in today’s gospel a grain of wheat is used to teach us a valuable lesson. The selfless grain of wheat falls and dies to enable a fresh harvest. What point is there in choosing life, if that life boils down to nothing more than self preservation? On the other hand, what great value death, if that sacrifice gives others life. Many of us fail to understand why Jesus perceived the necessity of going to Jerusalem where he knew he would die. Wouldn’t it have made more sense for him to bypass Jerusalem and carry on teaching into his dotage? Jesus however, isn’t about to compromise his purpose.

Jesus determines to give his life so others can find true life. This is what Christianity is all about. Jesus teaches us that we must ‘die to self’ before we can be of any use to God. Letting one’s own ambition die to be replaced by God’ plans for us? ‘Dying to self’? Could we blamed for not feeling enthused? How many of us really see the wisdom in ditching our own exciting life plans to go around being holy? Perhaps we need to think again about how exciting our ambitions really are. Perhaps sacrificing our own agenda and recognising God’s plan in our lives could be the best and most exciting thing that ever happened to us. Perhaps sacrificing something of ourselves for a greater purpose could put us in touch with who we really are.

As Christians, living through the pandemic has taught many of us to look for a greater purpose whatever age we might have reached.

 

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 21st March

How can we create a future free of racial discrimination? The first thing is not to see it as an insurmountable problem. There are things that every generation can do to bring about racial harmony.

Here are a few starters.

• Aim not to laugh at jokes that perpetuate discrimination.

• Educate yourself. Learn something new about someone else's culture.

• Don't be put off befriending neighbours, just because their accent is difficult to understand.

 

World Water Day 22nd March.

World Water Day celebrates water and raises awareness of the 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water. It is about taking action to tackle the global water crisis and achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030.

To Do:-

Support 'Water Aid' at www.wateraid.org.uk

£2 a month over a year, affords tools to dig a trench for a water pipe.

 

National Day of Reflection on Pandemic  Day of Prayer 23rd March 2021

Tuesday 23 March, the anniversary of the first national lockdown, will be marked with a minute’s silence at midday. At 8pm, people are encouraged to create a ‘beacon of remembrance’ on their doorsteps by beaming phones, candles and torches into the night sky. Prominent buildings and landmarks will also be lit up across the UK.

 

Cardinal Nichols and Archbishop McMahon stress that prayer is an essential part of this reflection and remembrance: “For all who live by faith in God, reflection and prayer always go hand in hand. Prayer completes reflection. Reflection informs prayer. Prayer opens our life to its true horizon. Without prayer we live in a foreshortened world and are more easily swamped by its clamour and tragedy. Throughout this difficult year, so many have been inspired by prayer, so much effort sustained in prayer, in every place. So let us make the 23 March truly a day of prayer.”

 

Earth Hour 27th March 2021

The Earth Hour is celebrated on the last Saturday of March every year. It is observed from 20:30 to 21:30 local time of each place. In this hour the whole planet is invited to switch off lights and other devices for a whole hour. This is an hour we can enjoy sitting by candlelight and having a family conversation about what we can do to improve our stewardship of God’s planet.

 

Bitesize

Don't compromise yourself. You're all you've got.

Janis Joplin

 

Corrie Ten Boom

Gospel Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Lent

14th March

So the World Might Be Saved

Jesus lived by one abiding rule. He knew that his integrity was the one thing that could not be taken away. His life could be taken, but his integrity could not. Today we are asked to live our lives by that same rule. We must know who we are; and we must adhere to who we are with every ounce of integrity we possess.

 

We all admire people who have the courage of their convictions. We admire their confidence, and we admire their openness. If we have ever had something to hide we know how difficult it is to feel good about ourselves. There must have been times in all our lives where we have been tempted to deceive, keep something a secret, or simply lay low and hope that problems will blow over. Keeping our integrity intact is not always easy, especially when we have used our own flawed agendas to go by.

 

Today’s gospel makes reference to an Old Testament Story. Just as Moses used a bronze serpent to remind the Israelites of their sinfulness and steer them towards better choices, so we are asked to look upon Jesus as our guiding light. We are asked to see Jesus’ light in every corner of our lives and make good choices on a daily basis. It might sound easy to make good choices, but so often we disguise our choices, to hide our real motivation, we might not even be aware that we are doing it. The most important clue to making good decisions is to ask whether we would have any qualms about pinning our choices up on a noticeboard under a spotlight. With our choices on public show, how confidently would we face a challenge?  Would our integrity remain intact?

 

God sent his Son so the world might be saved. We are saved when we continue to make those right choices, remembering that we are not condemned for our bad choices if we can recognise them and move on.

 

Mothering Sunday

Historically Mothering Sunday was also known as Refreshment Sunday because the fasting rules for Lent were relaxed on this day. So Mum's everywhere enjoy your chocolates and your cake! Today is the day on which we thank our mothers for all their love and hard work.  Happy ‘Mothering Sunday’.

 

This Lent: Close the evening with an examination of consciousness.

To review your day as it closes helps us progress in the spiritual life. To look back on what we have done well, with God’s grace, and where the Holy Spirit has invited us to collaborate with him in building up God’s kingdom. We can also reflect on where we have not responded to the call of the Holy Spirit or the Word of God, where we have failed in our resolution. This is not to make us feel bad, but to show us how we can respond better the next time. Ask yourself about why you made the decisions you made, so that you can learn to know yourself better. Always end with a prayer of thanksgiving to God, for his presence with you on this adventure, this journey of discovery. Thank God for his grace, which has helped you feel closer to him. 

(Taken From WWW.godcalls.co.uk)

 

Living Lent: The Energy Challenge

The 'Living Lent Community' challenges us to see if you we can reduce energy use by 10% this Lent.  By taking measures during Lent and afterwards, could you make a noticeable difference to your energy use? Cut down on easy things first. Take shorter showers, remember to turn everything off when it's not in use, only boil as much water as you need, wash clothes at a lower temperature and hang them up to dry. This is a great opportunity to think carefully about the energy you consume, and get into good habits to help you live lightly.

 

Saint Patrick 17th March

In his early teens, St. Patrick was kidnapped, taken to Ireland and sold into slavery.  For six year he led a harsh life, but he never lost faith that one day he would be freed from slavery and realize his dreams. If we take one lesson from Saint Patrick, it should be this, to use what faith we have to overcome the discouragement that threatens to paralyse us.

 

Saint Joseph Spouse of Blessed Virgin Mary 19th March

Discretion, humility, care, tenderness, courage, integrity, and hard work. We don’t get to hear much about St Joseph but the little we do know teaches us a great deal about being a ‘guardian’, not just for the benefit of the youngsters in our family, but for all those who look to us for example.

 

Bitesize

Character is doing the right thing when nobody's looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that's right is to get by, and the only thing that's wrong is to get caught.

J.C. Watts

Gospel Reflection for the Third Sunday of Lent 

(Chapel Bell)

7th March

Hitting Hypocrisy Where It Hurts

Imagine the scene. Jesus makes a whip and drives the money changers from the temple. Everywhere sheep and cattle are careering out of control. Doves are flapping up to the rafters.... coins and feathers everywhere and the money changers in an uproar. Jesus makes things clear. “Stop making my Father’s house a market place!”

De we feel an element of discomfort. How many parishes use the back of church to raise funds? How often do we stand at the back of church selling raffle tickets? How many years have we invited donations for votive candles, or sold newspapers, books, rosary beads, cards and statues? If Jesus walked in today, would he tip over our collecting boxes and reprimand us?

Perhaps before we answer this question we need to understand the context of today’s reading. In Jesus’ day it was expected that visitors to the temple should present a sacrifice, and for that purpose, the temple officials made it easy to purchase cattle and turtle doves. The second practical consideration was that because the Roman coinage was considered idolatrous by the Jews, the temple permitted money changers to exchange roman coins for tokens. The original system was not a bad idea, but it became corrupt. It was all too easy for the price of doves to become extortionate, and the exchange rate for tokens to come down on the side of the money changers. Soon it was the case that something that had originally been intended to oil the practicalities of worship in itself cheated would-be worshippers, especially those with little money. Jesus had a passion for exposing hypocrisy, and this was hypocrisy at its worst.

Jesus probably would not have a problem with us using the back of church for selling newspapers or raising funds. At the end of the day it isn’t buildings of worship in themselves that are of the greater importance, but what lies in our hearts and in our intentions. Our bodies are the real temples. Jesus challenged impurity at its roots, and the root of all impurity is wherever we have a thought or an idea that lacks integrity or smacks of hypocrisy.

God Calls:- This Lent ‘Adventure Course

Leave yesterday behind, and joyfully start this adventure full of life and love.

The National Office for Vocation (NOV) is encouraging us to listen when God Calls this Lent. God Calls us to himself in a particular way during this special season. Use NOV’s ‘Adventure’ course through the 40 days of Lent to renew your spiritual energy and live this important spiritual season in an intimate journey with Our Lord. This is an excellent resource. Find out more at https://www.godcalls.co.uk/godcalls-adventure

Care for Our Common Home Living Lent

The Living Lent Community has set a series of challenges for Lent. The first is around Agriculture and Environment.

Over the past 50 years, farmers and other food producers have risen to the demands of growing and feeding an increasingly affluent population. The amount of calories produced per head of population has increased by over one third, and meat production per person doubled. We know that some parts of our diet come at a higher environmental cost than others. Both in the UK and worldwide even the most efficiently and sustainably reared meat – most especially sheep and beef meat – has a much higher impact than plant based alternatives.

So, what changes can you make?

There are lots of vegetarian and vegan alternatives to eating meat, so get creative! You could start by swapping meat options for beans and pulses, like lentils, kidney beans and chickpeas.  These are great sources of protein, and also add fibre to your meals. If you aren’t able to cut out meat products altogether every day, why not consider eating meat for only 2-3 days a week?

This Lent Start every day with a prayer.

On the way to work or school, sitting on the bus or lying awake in bed, start every day with a prayer. This is about prioritising God in your life, and the first step of deepening your relationship with Him.

St. John Ogilvie 11th March (1579-1615)

John lived in an age when neither Catholics nor Protestants were willing to tolerate one another. Turning to Scripture, he found words that enlarged his vision. Although he became a Catholic and died for his faith, he allied himself with believers who embrace Christianity in all its diversity. A saint ahead of his time…. a saint who could lead us all in the ecumenical spirit fostered by the Second Vatican Council … a saint whose example we could all adopt in creating unity between all believers.

Bitesize All of us are experts at practicing virtue at a distance.

Theodore M. Hesburgh

Scroll down, more items below the Gospel Reflection

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.