SOMETHING NEW FOR 2024           

Gospel Reflection for the Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time

23rd June 2024

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.

Sanctuary Sunday

Sunday 23rd June 2024

Churches across Scotland and worldwide are encouraged to celebrate Sanctuary Sunday (also called Refugee Sunday) on 23 June 2024. This is the last Sunday during ‘Refugee Week’ and after ‘World Refugee Day’. There are more displaced people in the world today than at any other point in history and the Bible is clear in its expression of God’s loving concern for the stranger and refugee. Celebrating Sanctuary Sunday is an opportunity to express our prayers and solidarity, but also to raise awareness again of our Christian calling to welcome the stranger and do this openly and proudly.

 

'Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees' have launched an excellent new resource 'Stand up for Sanctuary' filled with insightful reflections.

You can access it at https://www.sfar.org.uk/sanctuary-sunday-2024/

 

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.

Christians Against Torture

Day of Prayer

26th June 2024

The International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is held annually on 26th June to speak out against the crime of torture and to honour and support victims and survivors throughout the world.

To do:-

Join 'Action by Christians Against Torture (acatuk.org.uk)’ Visit the campaigns page, some life-saving actions can be as simple as writing a swift letter when someone is detained. You need to be a member to take part in campaigns.

Pray for victims of torture.

 

Goodbye Text Books

The exams are over, and the house is littered with textbooks. If there’s no one else in the family to pass them on to, remember to donate textbooks which will never be used again to the local charity shop. There is always a need for books and particularly for textbooks.

 

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 placing pots 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

16th June 2024

Seeds of Faith 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 still allows war, cruelty and poverty? 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.

World Refugee Week   ‘Our Home’  17th -23rd June 2024

Refugee Week is the world’s largest arts and culture festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary. Established in 1998 in the UK, this annual festival aligns with World Refugee Day, celebrated globally on June 20th.The theme this year is ‘Our Home’. Home can be more than one place and finding it can be a journey, as it is for so many of us who have to leave our countries and rebuild our lives. Sometimes we can find home in a single person. Other times it’s in a whole community. And often, it’s in a single gesture of care and welcome.www.refugeeweek.org.uk

Father's Day 16th June 2024

Father’s Day is a day set apart to celebrate fatherhood, recognize the influence of fathers in our homes and society, and foster paternal bonds. 'Happy Father's Day' to dads everywhere.

Church Action on Poverty

What will your candidate do to tackle poverty?

The charity, ‘Church Action on poverty’ is urging us to ask our local candidates: what they will do to tackle poverty if elected? Help make sure that ending poverty is on the agenda in every constituency across the UK as we approach the General Election. Every candidate standing at the General Election should set out how they will play their part in building a future free from poverty if they are elected. You can use the simple e-action to email the candidates standing for election in your constituency and ask them: (There is a link to help you find your local candidate.) Visit the page at www.letsendpoverty.co.uk/election/#eaction

Ss Thomas More and John Fisher 22nd June

St. Thomas More. Beheaded on Tower Hill, London, July 6, 1535, he steadfastly refused to approve Henry VIII’s divorce and remarriage and establishment of the Church of England. In 1521 John Fisher was asked to study the question of Henry VIII’s marriage. He incurred Henry’s anger by defending the validity of the king’s marriage with Catherine of Aragon and later by rejecting Henry’s claim to be the supreme head of the Church of England. He was condemned and executed, his body left to lie all day on the scaffold and his head hung on London Bridge.

Two saints who teach us to stand up courageously for what is fair and just. Traditionally on this day, the Church asks us to pray for those who suffer persecution, oppression and denial of human rights.

To doSupport  a charity such as 'Aid for the Church in Need' or any other charity that champions the needs of the persecuted.

Care for Our Common Home Woodland Trust Online Raffle

Last shout of the Woodland Trust online raffle which closes on 28th June 2024.

When you play this charity raffle, you're supporting the Woodland Trust’s vital work. Every £2 ticket you buy directly helps plant more trees, save woods under threat and restore damaged woodland so the wildlife that depends on it has a future.

Buying five tickets can plant four new trees! Play online at www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/support-us/give/raffle/

Bitesize

Weave in faith and God will find the thread.   Proverb

Gospel Reflection for the Tenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

9th June 2021

The Common Good

Today’s gospel is particularly relevant in a climate of war and divisive politics. In today’s gospel we find the people of Galilee trying to decide who Jesus is and the claims are clearly becoming divisive. There is a bit of a controversy going on where some think that Jesus has ‘Beelzebul in him’…. a name for Satan. The very idea seems alien to us since we have long since decided who Jesus is, but this was not the case for the people of the time who had observed Jesus performing all sorts of powerful signs and had to ask themselves where Jesus’ power came from. Was Jesus’ power from God or was it from the devil? We cannot blame them for asking this question.

 

Jesus deals with the controversy by giving us a lesson in the differences between the work of the devil and the work of God. The devil sets us up against each other in opposition. The devil tears down nations. The devil tears down households and families. The devil divides and scatters. God on the other hand helps us to work towards peace and unity. God forgives us our sins and encourages us to forgive each other and to work together. Jesus’ work is not about division but about welcoming everyone to him whoever they might be. His power clearly does not flow from the devil.

 

So how can we apply this lesson two thousand years later? We open a newspaper or switch on the news. We watch our politicians and world leaders. We know that their job is to make the world a better place. We have to give them credit where they succeed but we have to be mindful of their shortcomings too. When leaders start to tear each other down and divide nations, we have to know that this is not God’s will. God’s will is to unify us so that we are working together towards a common good.

 

Today we need to look at the divisions in our world and ask how those divisions might be healed. Everyone on the planet is part of one human family. As Jesus says in today’s gospel, “Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.”

Pope Francis calls for a ‘better kind of politics’.

How you can call for a better kind of politics at the general election?

As Catholics, we know that caring for the poorest and most marginalised people, wherever they are in the world, is among the most important issues politicians should act on. We can share that message in three ways:

1. Contact election candidates

Email candidates who are standing for election in your parliamentary constituency to ask them to act on global poverty.

2. Take part in hustings in your local area

Going along to events where candidates are asked questions – known as 'hustings' – helps to draw attention to the issues that matter most to us as Catholics. These events are often advertised online.

3. Be ready to speak to candidates on your doorstep

Candidates and campaigners might knock on your door during the election to ask for your vote. Make sure to tell those looking for your vote that you want them to commit to tackling global poverty in the new parliament.

St. Anthony of Padua

13th June

"The man who is filled with the Holy Spirit speaks in different languages. These different languages are different ways of witnessing to Christ, such as humility, poverty, patience, and obedience; we speak in those languages when we reveal in ourselves these virtues to others." -sermon by St. Anthony

Care for Our Common Home

Cycle for the Environment

10-16th June

Bike Week, is an annual opportunity to promote cycling and show how cycling can easily be part of everyday life by encouraging ‘everyday cycling for everyone’.Believe it or not, Bike Week first took place in 1923 – 95 years ago! It was, and always has been, a great opportunity to highlight the social, health and environmental benefits of cycling, with a core aim of getting people to give cycling a go.

Bitesize

He who doeth evil steals from his own soul.    James Lendall Basford

 

Gospel Reflection for Corpus Christi

June 2nd 2024

An Every Day Miracle

The Eucharist is an 'every-day miracle'. The trouble is that for many of us, the Eucharist has become so routine that we can easily fail to appreciate its true significance.

If we really want to rekindle the wonderment of that weekly miracle, we have to start nurturing a life changing appreciation of the Eucharist and of the Mass. Key to appreciation is preparation. If the Eucharist is food for our minds and our souls, it’s important not to fill up on junk beforehand. Do we turn up for Mass in the right frame of mind ready to give genuine thought to our prayers and to the readings, or do we arrive with our heads full of trivia… life’s  junk food. Chances are that if we arrive at Mass with our heads full of unrelated thoughts, we will spend our time simply going through the motions. We might as well not be there in the first place.

In the moments before Holy Communion when we are kneeling quietly in the bench with heads bowed, are we simply kneeling quietly in the bench or are we preparing our minds. We need to be preparing to receive Jesus’ real presence into our bodies and into our lives. We need to be remembering Jesus’ sacrifice and the reasons he made it. At the Last Supper Jesus charged us to keep his memory alive. 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 and his ultimate sacrifice.

How do we behave after Communion? Do we hurry back to our seat and continue chatting to the person in the next bench? How do we behave after the Mass has ended, do we make a hasty exit keen to get on with the rest of the day, or do we remember that we are taking God out into the world with us?

Jesus is with us to the end of time, and one of the ways he is with us is through the Eucharist. The sooner we start appreciating this every-day miracle the sooner our lives will change for the better.

Month of the Sacred Heart.

On June 1st 2008, at his weekly Angelus address, Pope Benedict XVI urged Catholics "to renew, in this month of June, their devotion to the Heart of Jesus." The Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a moveable feast, but it most often takes place in June, and so June is traditionally dedicated to the Sacred Heart. This year we celebrate this feast on 7th June.

Pope Francis' Prayer Intention for June 2024

For migrants fleeing from war or hunger…

In the month of June, Pope Francis asks us to pray for people fleeing their own countries.

“The feeling of uprootedness or not knowing where they belong often accompanies the trauma experienced by people who are forced to flee their homeland because of war or poverty. What is more, in some destination countries, migrants are viewed as threats, with fear. Then the spectre of walls appears – walls on the earth separating families, and walls in hearts. Christians cannot share this vision. Whoever welcomes a migrant welcomes Christ.

We must promote a social and political culture that protects the rights and dignity of migrants, a culture that promotes the possibility that they can achieve their full potential, and integrates them. A migrant needs to be accompanied, promoted, and integrated.

This month Pope Francis asks us to join in his monthly prayer intention, “… that migrants fleeing from war or hunger, forced to undertake journeys fraught with danger and violence, may find welcome and new living opportunities.”

Peace Actions for June 2024

Remember in your prayers all those who suffer in prison for their beliefs. (22nd June is the feast of St Thomas More a day on which we are asked to pray for the persecuted and oppressed.)

17th -23rd June is ‘Refugee Week. Refugee Week aims to encourage a better understanding of our proud history of giving sanctuary to people escaping persecution, and to highlight the many ways in which refugees have contributed to, and become part of, our rich history and heritage.

General Election UK 2024

The CBCEW have posted a page specifically for those deciding on where to place their vote. We are told, “Gospel values inform how we look at the world as Christians. These values can also offer a different way of looking at politics, a way that puts the common good before self-interest. Throughout this election season we will be seeking answers which will help the poor, the marginalised, and the vulnerable. We seek a society in which all families can flourish and where we care for our common home, where we offer a welcoming hand to strangers in need, where we look out for those struggling to get on. Families are the heart of our communities and society. We seek, therefore, political leaders who can reflect and share these values. But this is not just about leaders, it is about us. We are not merely the passive recipients of politics but active citizens. An election is the best time for us as Christians to speak out, to get involved, and to lead. We hope that these resources will help in that endeavour.”

This page gives thoughts on main election issues and how Christians are thinking. You can find this page at www.cbcew.org.uk/election24/

Care for our Common Home  World Environment Day Tuesday 5th June 2024

Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.” Let us embrace the principles of sustainability, stewardship, and harmony with nature on World Environment Day 2024 and beyond. Our planet’s well-being depends on it.

Top Tips

Join a community group that helps protect coastlines, parks or rivers. If you have a teenage child considering Duke of Edinburgh help them to find a volunteering opportunity in an eco-friendly group.

Bitesize

You say grace before meals.  All right.  But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink. 

G.K. Chesterton

Gospel Reflection for the Most Holy Trinity

26th May 2024

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 Spirit 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.'

 

Lifting the Faith Schools Cap

Your response needed…

Since 2010 the 50 percent cap or 'rule' has prevented new Catholic free schools from opening, as the cap would have forced schools to turn away some Catholic pupils. The Catholic Church has welcomed the decision by the Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, to lift the cap on new free schools in England.

The decision is subject to a consultation on removing the cap, that closes on 20th June. To lend your support to the consultation, post your details at  www.cbcew.org.uk/faith-schools-consultation-response/

 

International Day of UN Peacekeepers  29th May

Let’s use this day to promote peace in our families and communities. Use this day to support a peace agency such as Pax Christi or the National Network for Justice and Peace.  If everyone took one peace action on this day we might begin to see a fairer world.

 

 

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.

 

For Our Younger Parishioners

Some of our younger parishioners are now well into their exams. We pray that they will do themselves justice and that they will not suffer too much text anxiety. It’s a helpful reminder to know that God cherishes our families at this time.

 

Care For Our Common Home Spring Woodland Trust Raffle

Consider supporting the Woodland Trust by playing the UK charity's spring raffle. The closing date is 28th June 2024.  Every £2 ticket you buy supports vital work protecting, restoring and creating woodland across the UK.  Play online at https://woodlandtrust.raffleentry.org.uk/

We all know the benefits of looking after our trees. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and lock it up for centuries. Trees also provide natural flood defences. A charity well worth supporting.

                                                                                                             

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 Pentecost

19th May 2024

Over To Us

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.  

To celebrate Pentecost, read the Acts of the Apostles. Find out what happened to the Church following the events of Pentecost.

 

Saint Rita of Cascia 22nd May

Rita wanted to become a nun but was pressured at a young age into marrying a harsh and cruel man. During their eighteen-year marriage, she bore and raised two sons. After her husband was killed in a brawl and her sons had died, Rita joined the Augustinian nuns in Cascia.

Among the other areas, Rita is well known as a patron of desperate, seemingly impossible causes, abuse victims, and difficult marriages.

 

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.

 

Pastoral Reflection on Gender

The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have issued a pastoral reflection on gender, highlighting the teaching of the Church but stressing that accompanying those struggling with gender dysphoria is “a complex but essential pastoral task.”The document, titled Intricately woven by the Lord: can be download at www.cbcew.org.uk/bishops-issue-pastoral-reflection-on-gender/

 

Care For Our Common Home Walk to School Week  20th-24th May 2024

Take the five day challenge and join thousands of children across the nation celebrating the benefits walking brings. We know that walking to school makes children feel healthier and happier, while reducing congestion and pollution outside the school gates. Yet less than half of primary school children currently walk to school. Reverse this decline and see every child that can, walk to school.

 

Bitesize

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

Jean Houston

Gospel Reflection for the Seventh Sunday of Easter

12th May 2024

Jesus' Prayer for Us

 

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 over 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, change is not beyond any of us.

 

World Communications Day 2024  Artificial Intelligence

(From Pope Francis' World Communications Day Message)

“The development of systems of artificial intelligence is radically affecting the world of information and communication, and through it, certain foundations of life in society. These changes affect everyone, not merely professionals in those fields. The rapid spread of astonishing innovations, whose workings and potential are beyond the ability of most of us to understand and appreciate, has proven both exciting and disorienting. This leads inevitably to deeper questions about the nature of human beings, our distinctiveness and the future of the species homo sapiens in the age of artificial intelligence. How can we remain fully human and guide this cultural transformation to serve a good purpose?”

Read Pope Francis’ message in its entirety at www.https://www.cbcew.org.uk/wcd24-papal-message/  It’s a thought provoking read.

 

Christian Aid Week  12th-18th May

Every year in May, Christian Aid invites us to pray, campaign, fundraise and donate. We are invited to work towards a world where families can escape the trap of poverty and fulfil their ambitions. Seven days to fund lasting change.

Big Brekkie Fundraiser:- Consider hosting a 'big brekkie' in your place of work and asking for donations in exchange for pancakes and porridge. Donate online at www.christianaid.org.uk

 

 

General Election Webinar

A webinar to introduce General Election resources from the Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT) will take place at 7pm on 21 May 2024.

 

You can join the webinar to explore how individuals and churches can engage in the upcoming general election. As the election draws near, JPIT has curated valuable resources to aid you in preparation and engagement. From voter registration and ID requirements to issue briefings and theological resources, learn how individuals and churches can play a vital role in engaging in political discourse. Join JPIT for an insightful exploration into political engagement and the upcoming general election. You are invited to register your interest in the webinar at www.jpit.uk/elections

 

Care for Our Common Home Water Saving Week 13th-17th May

There may be an irony in talking about saving water when not so long ago we were talking about floods, but that is the nature of climate change. Waterwise started Water Saving Week in 2015 to get the nation talking about saving water, and most importantly, empowering people to take action to save water, at home, at work and in their communities.

Top tip

A hose uses around 135 litres of water for every 15 minutes of use. Instead of using a hose to wash your car, use a bucket and sponge.

 

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.

Gospel Reflection for the Sixth Sunday of Easter

5th May 2024

Love is the Answer

 

Young couples in love promise each other that their love for each other will never die. Older onlookers may urge caution. Of course, there are lots of older couples in our community who are still very much in love after years and years of marriage, but for every marriage that succeeds another falls by the wayside. The problem with our love for each other is that subconsciously it can be conditional. We can love a partner who is young and beautiful, but will our love survive when that partner is old and toothless and out of shape? We can love a partner who is successful and dynamic and rich, but will our love stagnate when that same partner is out of work, weary and penniless? We might love a partner who is always cheerful and makes us smile, but will our love fade if that partner becomes clinically depressed or seriously ill? When problems rear their head, does love walk out of the door? We wouldn’t like to admit it at the outset of a relationship, but human love can be conditional.

God’s love of course is unconditional … or is it? In today’s gospel Jesus says, “If you keep my commandments you will abide in my love…” does that sound like a condition? Are we being told that whilst we are keeping God’s commandments God will love us, but as soon as we are sinful that love will be withdrawn?

The important thing for us to understand is that God’s love cannot be fickle in the same way that ours is. Human love, especially if we are a little immature, can be something we simply bestow on each other. God’s love is a state of being. God’s love is simply there and doesn’t go away. It’s us that chooses whether or not to accept or reject God’s love by the way we choose to live our lives. We can choose to live good lives and by doing so we will remain in a loving relationship with God, or we can make poor decisions and step out of that loving relationship. Living by God’s commandments isn’t about following a list of strict rules in return for God’s love, it’s about sharing the joy God plans for us by living in a certain way.

Those of us who have fallen out of that loving relationship with God haven’t done so on purpose. Few of us consciously make poor decisions… we are all human after all, and we all make mistakes. For those of us who are in danger of losing their way in life, Jesus give us one important guideline “This I command you … to love one another.” The next time you have a tricky decision to make or a dilemma to solve, ask yourself the all-important question. “Is God’s love for me, and my love for neighbour pointing out the answer?”

 

Pope Francis Prayer Intention for May 2024

For the formation of religious and seminarians

One of the most disconcerting aspects of a family member or friend leaving the well-worn track of education, career and marriage to follow a religious vocation can be the loss of familiar points of reference. Family and friends worry that they can’t offer advice or that important life decisions are being made according to criteria that they don’t understand. The best policy in these situations is to try to listen carefully and without criticism. There is no need for family or friends to express support for a possible vocation until they are ready to do this sincerely. It’s fine for family and friends to be honest about their worries as long as they make it clear that their love, acceptance and support will always be there. This month we are invited to join in Pope Francis’ prayer intention that “…that religious women and men, and seminarians, grow in their own vocations through their human, pastoral, spiritual and community formation, leading them to be credible witnesses to the Gospel.”

 

Peace Actions for May

Remember that May is traditionally Mary’s month and pray the Rosary for peace.

Use World Communications Day (12th May) to spread messages of hope on social media

Remember the work of Fair Trade organisations, their suppliers and workers. Pray for an increased awareness of the need to buy fairly traded goods especially on World Fair Trade Day (11th May).

Support Christian Aid Week from 12th-18th May.

Pray In May

Mary’s Meals

Since its humble beginnings, Mary’s Meals – named after Mary, the mother of Jesus – has been built on a foundation of prayer and the many little acts of love from those who support.   Mary’s Meals is now providing life-changing school meals to more than 2.4 million of the world’s poorest children. Throughout the month of May the charity invites you to pray that its work continues to flourish and grow, and that more children will see their lives transformed by receiving nutritious school meals. 

 

The Ascension of the Lord Holyday of Obligation 9th 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!

 

World Fair Trade Day 11th May

Do your bit to support World Fair Trade Day this year. This might mean fundraising to support famers and producers in developing countries, or it might mean adding a couple of Fair Trade products to your weekly shop with a view to making lasting changes in your shopping habits. Fair Trade is adding new products all the time, so add something new to your basket that the family will enjoy. If it’s a success, don’t forget to promote on social media.

 

Care for Our Common Home

Use Revision Time to Plant Trees

Our youngsters are getting ready for exams. This is the time of year where parents and teenagers are using search engines more than any other time of the year. Did you know that you can use every ‘search’ to plant trees? Take this opportunity to make ‘Ecosia’ your default search engine. It doesn’t mean ditching Google and its free to use. So far Ecosia’s  20+ million users have planted over 200 million trees. Visit www.ecosia.org

 

Bitesize

I always think that the best way to know God is to love many things.

Vincent van Gogh

Gospel Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Easter

28th April 2024

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 principle. Individually we can be easily overlooked but together we have the power to bring the whole country to a stand-still and 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.

St. Joseph the Worker 'For human work.'1st May

"May Day" has long been dedicated to labour and the working man. It is fitting that St. Joseph, a working man who became the foster-father of Christ and patron of the universal Church, should be honoured on this day.

On this day we are asked to pray for all who work, that they may earn a just wage and be treated with dignity. We also pray for those who are under-employed or unemployed, and we pray for the stewardship of the earth's resources so that all may benefit for generations to come.

Faith In Politics

On Thursday 2 May 2024, voters across England and Wales will head to the polls in a major set of mayoral and local elections. As Christians we have a calling to try and build God’s kingdom here on earth, whether it be by acting differently to our peers, providing for those less fortunate, or random acts of kindness. One expression of this might be to get actively involved in politics.  You may hold your own views on whether religion and politics should mix, but if you are of the view that voters should use their Catholic voice, start reading all those leaflets that are currently cramming our letter boxes. If you’re planning to vote, remember to take your photo ID.

 

National Story Month  Teaching Social Conscience

How did you first develop your social conscience? Probably when you were so young that you can hardly remember. May is National Story Month. There are thousands of wonderful stories that you can share with your children that will obviously nurture a love of books, but most importantly, can develop your child’s view of the world and teach them how to think. Jesus himself told his disciples some wonderful parables designed to teach. ‘The Good Samaritan’ is one of Jesus’ most famous stories that has a particular resonance in today’s political climate. Give it a go!

 

Care for Our Common Home

On the 1st May we traditionally pray for the stewardship of the planet and for the work of human hands. Here are a couple of top tips for caring for the planet and for saving money.

If you have a clothes dryer, there’s a good chance it uses more energy than anything else in your home. Grab a clothes rack, set up a clothes-line outside, or just hang wet laundry on clothes hangers around the house.

Pay your bills online. Not only is it greener, it’s a sanity saver

Schedule your errands back-to-back to save petrol.

 

Bitesize

A snowflake is one of God's most fragile creations but look what they can do when they stick together! Author Unknown

Gospel Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Easter

21st April 2024

Counting On The 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 was 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.

Day of Prayer for Vocations to the Priesthood and Consecrated Life

'It's Your Call' 21st April 2024

For each of us God has a plan, and for some, that plan is for priesthood and consecrated life. On this day, we are invited to

Pray for the priests who have ministered to us throughout our lives, both living and dead.

Keep our parish priests in our prayers throughout the week.

Pray the Rosary for more young men and women in our communities to respond to God’s call.

 

Saint George "For the Persecuted" 23rd April

When the pagan Emperor Diocletian started persecuting Christians. St George came to their defence. St George showed incredible courage and faith and was finally beheaded near Lydda in Palestine on 23rd April, 303. There is much talk nowadays about the apathy surrounding Saint George's day and about what we should do to celebrate it, but we could do no worse than make St George’s commitment to stand up for the persecuted our own.

To do:-

Support a charity that actively supports those who are persecuted. 'The Church In Need' is a good starting point.

 

 

Saint Mark April 25th

Most likely Mark's is the first of the four Gospels.  The Gospel of Saint Mark is brief and to the point. Saint Mark has one goal, to present Jesus as God’s crucified messiah, and he fulfils that goal concisely. This is the shortest of the gospels. You could sit down and read it in under an hour and a half. Give it a go!

 

Care for Our Common Home  Earth Day   22nd April 2024

The theme for this year’s ‘Earth Day’ is ‘Plastics versus Planet’. The idea is to build a plastic free planet, reducing plastic use, eliminating single use plastic and reducing plastic pollution.

To do

Look at the drinks you normally buy in a plastic bottle. Can you buy the same in a glass bottle or a can? Can you use a flask for work or school rather than a plastic bottle?

 

CAFOD UK    Reach Out Raffle.

Last shout for Cafod’s ‘Reach out’ UK raffle. Every ticket sale helps people in developing countries and isolated rural areas. The closing date for this raffle is May 3rd 2024. Still time to buy your ticket online at www.cafod.raffleentry.org.uk/entries

 

Bitesize

When at night you cannot sleep, talk to the Shepherd and stop counting sheep.

Author Unknown

 

 

 

Gospel Reflection for the Third Sunday of Easter

14th April 2024

Finding the Meaning

Were the other disciples really 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 four pieces of proof that Jesus uses to convince them that he really has risen from the dead. They can look at the marks on his hands and feet, they can touch him to check that he is really flesh and bone, and they can watch him eat a meal that they have prepared. The fourth proof is when Jesus opens their minds so that they can understand the prophecies that were made in the Old Testament, and which he has fulfilled by rising from the dead.

 

We are not as lucky as the first disciples. Two thousand years down the line we do not have the benefit of their first-hand experience. We cannot look at Jesus, we cannot touch him, or share a meal. The fourth proof though, the prophecies in the Old Testament are still there for us to read. The only trouble is, the Bible isn't always an easy book to read. We read a passage and fail to understand it. Sometimes we think we understand the literal meaning but the words fail to offer any significance. It would be good if Jesus could open our minds up as he did for those first disciples when they had trouble understanding the meaning of his death and resurrection.

 

One thing is for sure, understanding the Bible isn't going to happen magically, just as it didn't happen overnight for the disciples. We know that everything worthwhile takes effort. Playing a musical instrument takes years of practice. Being good at a sport takes considerable training. Learning a language demands a concerted amount of study and hard work. So too, we have to apply ourselves to understanding what we read in the Bible. We have to consider each passage for some time before we can really grasp it … sometimes a single verse or phrase. Often we can derive great satisfaction from knowing that those parts we struggled with the longest hold the greatest meaning. The Bible yields up its greatest treasures to those who persevere.

 

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 at Lourdes herself. Bernadette moved through life, guided only by faith in things she did not understand—as we all must do from time to time. Our curiosity in the miracles of Lourdes can be fuelled by our human need for proof of God’s healing, yet St Bernadette always emphasised faith over proof. She once said, “My job is to inform, not to convince.”

 

Mary’s Meals   Crisis in Ethiopia Appeal 2024

This week most of our children will be back at school, and most of us will be settling our school dinner accounts for the coming term. But whilst we are settling our accounts, could we be sparing a thought for children who are not so lucky?

Mary’s Meals’ vision is that every child receives one daily meal in their place of education and that all those who have more than they need, share with those who lack even the most basic things.

Mary’s Meals is currently highlighting the pending catastrophic famine in Ethiopia. A combination of drought, displacement, and brutal conflict has left huge areas of the country in crisis.  In Tigray, the war has undone years of progress in Tigray’s education system. For now, there is an urgent dual priority – ensuring that children in Tigray have food and boosting their chances of engaging with education again.  

To support Mary’s Meals school feeding programme across Tigray, which is a lifeline to children living in poverty, we are invited to make an online donation at www.marysmeals.org.uk/campaigns/crisis-in-ethiopia  A donation of £19.15 will feed a child for a whole year, but you can of course make any donation you can afford.

 

General Election UK 2024   Using Your Catholic Voice

CAFOD is offering an online training session for parishioners who would like to use their Catholic voice to influence MPs ahead of the general election. The training will cover:-

Our faith and political participation.

How our parishes can draw attention to the issues we care about.

Three simple, different ways to reach our local candidates.

Resources, materials, and support available.

There will be two sessions. Thursday 25 April 6:30-8:30pm or Saturday 4 May 11am-1pm

You will need to register at https://cafod.org.uk/news/events/using-our-catholic-voice-at-the-next-election-training-session

 

Care for our Common Home

Mitigate Flooding. Plant Evergreens

It's featuring in the news more and more each year. There are now over 5 million households in the UK at serious risk of flooding, and there’s lots of advice out there on how to protect our homes, at least to some extent. The RHS has been looking at practical ways to reduce the environmental impact of flooding, and how we design our gardens is part of the solution.

One thing you might consider is replacing fences with hedges. Consider planting evergreen hedges which are in leaf all year. In winter, when there are no leaves on the deciduous trees and hedges, the presence of evergreens is invaluable to retain and remove rainfall.

Other benefits include noise reduction and air quality improvement.

 

Bitesize

Life is a long road on a short journey.  James Lendall Basford

Gospel Reflection for The Second Sunday of Easter

7th April 2024

Doubt and Disbelief

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.

For those who find belief elusive, there is an uncomfortable beatitude in today’s gospel. “Blessed 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 isn’t the same thing as disbelief. Doubt can be a good thing even. 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 Annunciation Saying Yes to Jesus   9thApril

At the Annunciation, Mary's consent was one of the most important moments in the history of salvation and in the unfolding of the Eucharistic mystery. We call that moment her ‘fiat’, the first word in a Latin phrase that means "Be it done unto me according to your word." When we say yes to God, we allow his grace to be fruitful. When we say no, we are missing big opportunities to be part God's picture.

 

April, Month for Spiritual Renewal

Top Tips

Talk to God. Nothing will restore your soul like time with God. Put everything into his hands, including yourself.

Choose a Bible passage and write down your reflections. Read an inspirational text or webpage.

Take time to relax and replenish your batteries. You're probably not enjoying much growth if you're continually running on 'empty'.

Use your gifts to make your mark on the world. There's nothing more energising than doing the things you love.

UK general election 2024: A guide for Catholic voters

With a UK general election due to take place in 2024, politicians are looking for our votes – and will be listening to what voters want. As Catholics, we have a responsibility to make sure political parties commit to tackle the injustices that affect our global family and to care for our common home. CAFOD has launched an information page to share resources as the election draws closer. You can find this at www.cafod.org.uk/campaign/latest-campaigns/uk-general-election-2024-a-guide-for-catholic-voters

 

Spring Clear-out for Charity

We've emerged from winter, the sun is struggling through, and the house is looking dusty and cluttered. Time for a spring clean! Before you start hiding things in the loft, give our charity shops a second thought. Charity shops are always looking for quality items, and passing on your unwanted gifts, books, and clothes is a great way of making money for charity. It's great for the environment too... far better than recycling!

Care For Our Common Planet  Eco Tip for April

Growing your own food is nowhere near as complicated or time-consuming as it sounds, and it’ll eliminate the Yeti-sized carbon footprint of all those refrigerated trucks and planes importing berries from South America. Cherry tomatoes, salad greens, and green beans are the best foods to grow if you haven't done this before. For those of us who don’t have a garden, simply growing herbs on a windowsill can be very fulfilling.

Bitesize

Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it by the handle of anxiety, or by the handle of faith.    Author Unknown

Gospel Reflection for Easter Sunday

31st March 2024

Approaching the Empty Tomb

 

Traditionally at this time of year thousands of new Christians are baptised all over the world. A young man baptised recently was asked, “Do you feel different now that you are baptised and a Christian?” “Yes,” he replied,” I went from believing nothing to believing everything sort of vaguely. I hope God will make things clearer to me as I continue on this journey.”

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, but approaching the 'Empty Tomb' isn't easy. Who moved the stone we wonder. Why were the linen wrappings removed, and why was the cloth that wrapped Jesus’ head rolled neatly and placed separately? In our modern day times of detective stories and forensic science there is an inclination to turn the empty tomb into a crime scene, but the problem with looking at the empty tomb from an investigative point of view is that we’re in danger of missing a greater truth, and the amazing implications of a Resurrection that was after all predicted.

If we were to fully embrace the reality of the Easter story we would pour out of church bouncing with a newfound enthusiasm for life. So how do we embrace the reality of a story for which there is no proof? Jesus promised all along that death couldn’t contain us, and the empty tomb points to this not necessarily as proof, but as something that was promised. Why therefore, in the context of everything else that Jesus did and said, should this surprise us?

The empty tomb gives our life purpose. Belief in the resurrection means we can live life boldly and well, looking forward to eternal life. The empty tomb gives us a means to deal with pain and suffering, it means that death is not a meaningless end of life, but the door to the fullness of life with the risen Christ.

Urbi et Orbi

Sunday 31st March 2024 BBC 1 11.00am

Live from St Peter's Square in Rome, on the eleventh Easter of his pontificate, Pope Francis gives his Easter message and blessing, Urbi et Orbi, to the city and to the world. Petroc Trelawny sets the scene.

 

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.

 

Pope Francis Prayer Intention for April 2024

For the Role of Women

Regardless of where you live in the world, gender equality is a fundamental human right. Advancing gender equality is critical to all areas of a healthy society, from reducing poverty to promoting the health, education, protection and the well-being of both girls and boys. There has been progress over the last decades, but there is still lots to do in order to achieve the UN gender equality goal by 2030. Pope Francis invites us to join his prayer intention “…that the dignity and worth of women be recognized in every culture, and for an end to the discrimination they face in various parts of the world.”

Peace Actions for April

Pray for Peace in Israel and Gaza. Donate to the emergency appeal at cafod.org.uk/news/emergencies-news/israeli-palestinian-crisis-how-you-can-help?form=israelipalestiniancrisis

Pray for the people of Ukraine. Donate to the crisis appeal at www.donate.redcross.org.uk/appeal/ukraine-crisis-appeal

The shops are filled with chocolate Easter eggs and most of us will be buying chocolate treats for the children in the family. Remember where possible to buy Fair Trade. Fair Trade aims to protect the exploitation of third world farmers and the trafficking of children for the purposes of exploitive labour.

Read and pray the Beatitudes, (Matthew 5: 1-16) and reflect on their meaning for your life.

On Saint George’s Day pray for all those who are persecuted, or make a stand for the persecuted in your own community.

Walk To Work Day 5th April 2024

Today is a day we are urged to leave the car at home and walk to work. If this isn't possible, at least use the opportunity to 'car share'.

 

Care for Our Common Home

Spring into Eco-Friendly Spring Cleaning

Most supermarkets now have a range of eco-friendly cleaning products. Give them a try. Compare with your usual brand, and if you’re happy, write a review on your supermarket online shopping website. These products tend to cost a little more, so try using a little less.

 

Bite Size

Always walk through life as if you have something new to learn and you will.

Vernon Howard

Gospel Reflection for Passion (Palm) Sunday

24th March 2024

Walking the Walk

 

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

It’s likely that we feel 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 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. On this day we 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”. Fridays throughout Lent, and during the rest of the year are also days when we are encouraged to do some form of penance.

 

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

 

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 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 small Christian presence in the Middle East relies very heavily on this worldwide collection.

Recommended Listening  Good Friday Meditation:- The Story of the Tree

Fri 29 Mar 2024   15:00   BBC RADIO 4

In this meditation for Good Friday, Bishop Helen-Ann reflects on the potential of trees to bear witness to pain, strength and new life. Readings from the Dream of the Rood are woven together with music from the Northumbria community and the Northumbrian pipes to offer an original and compelling angle on an age-old story.

 

Fairtrade Thank You

As another school term rattles to a close, don’t forget to thank your teachers and support staff with a large bar of Fairtrade chocolate or a bunch of Fairtrade flowers.

Care for Our Common Home   Use Old Clothing to Spring Clean.

The weather is getting warmer and the sun is illuminating all those dusty corners we didn’t notice during winter. It’s time to spring clean. In the interests of reducing your footprint, think about ways you can save on waste, limit the use of chemicals and save money to boot. This week’s tip is to cut up old clothing which isn’t good enough to donate.  Cut up old T-shirts to make cleaning and polishing rags. It's a great way to save money, reduce waste and extend the life of fabrics.

 

Bitesize

Let God's promises shine on your problems.                                                 Corrie Ten Boom

 

 

 

Gospel Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Lent

17th March 2024

Unless A Grain of Wheat Falls

‘Eat drink and be merry …..for tomorrow we die.’ 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 be 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.

“Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.” This epitomizes everything as Christians we are not!

St Joseph Husband of Mary 19th March

Joseph was wholeheartedly obedient to God ….  In marrying Mary, in naming Jesus, in shepherding the precious pair to Egypt, in bringing them to Nazareth, in the undetermined number of years of quiet faith and courage.  The Bible pays Joseph the highest compliment in calling him a “just” man. This just man lived his life by faith, seeking to do good in every concrete circumstance of life …. a model for fathers everywhere.

 

Israeli-Palestinian Crisis Appeal

We have all been shocked and saddened by the devastating conflict in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. After weeks of intense conflict, over 18,000 Palestinians and 1,400 Israelis have been killed, thousands more injured, and over 1.9 million people in Gaza are displaced. Food, water and fuel are in increasingly short supply. Families need urgent help. You can donate online at www.cafod.org.uk/give/donate-to-emergencies/israeli-palestinian-crisis-appeal

 

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.

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

Read up on the political background of the countries of our refugees and asylum seekers.

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

 

World Water Day Water for Prosperity and Peace

Campaign for Clean Water 22nd March 2024

Sustainable water management generates a plethora of benefits to individuals and communities, including health, food and energy security, protection from natural disasters, education, improved living standards and employment, economic development, and a variety of ecosystem services. It is through these benefits that water leads to prosperity. And equitable sharing of these benefits promotes peace. When it comes to water, sharing truly is caring.

To Do

Become an e-campaigner and support WaterAid. To find out how visit www.wateraid.org/uk/get-involved/campaign-with-us

 

 

Care for Our Common Home Carbon Fast

On average an electric shower costs 42p for a ten minute shower. This week's challenge is to save energy, save water and save money by halving the time you spend in the shower.

 

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

Gospel Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Lent 10th March

How To Make Good Choices

 

From the minute we open our eyes in the morning, we are faced with choices. By the end of the day we have made hundreds of choices and not all of them good. In fact, we probably fail to choose God in a hundred and one different ways, yet God still loves us. How do we know? We know because every time we look at a Crucifix we are reminded of the sacrifice Jesus made out of love for us. Just as Moses held up a bronze snake on a pole to remind the Israelites of God’s love, so we look to the Crucifix as a reminder that God doesn’t condemn us for our mistakes, but offers us a second chance of salvation. Too often we take God’s love for granted. How could we make ourselves more deserving? We could begin by looking at all those choices we make on a daily basis. Do we choose to fritter our lives away in inconsequential activities, or do we choose to make the world a better place? Do we choose to bury our heads in the sand when we see someone bullied at work, or do we make a brave stand? Do we determine to look after ailing family members or do we put it off until we are less busy? Do we shroud our decisions in darkness and secrecy, or do we walk in the light with our heads held high?

But how do we start making good choices when we have spent so much time making poor ones? This is the beauty of reconciliation; our mistakes are part and parcel of making better choices from now on. We remember how it felt to make a bad choice and we don't want to go there again. Knowing what we are about is also a part of making good choices.  Jesus knew what he was about and so must we. There's no better time than Lent to sit down and think about who we want to be. Lastly, once we have decided what choices we are going to make, we mustn't procrastinate. The Bible never tires of telling us that time is of the essence.

Laetare Sunday "Happy Mothering Sunday"

The Fourth Sunday of Lent is traditionally called Laetare Sunday, a celebration very much like Gaudete Sunday in Advent. For each of those Sundays, we can use rose-colored vestments, and both Latin words can be translated, “rejoice.” Both also announce to us that we are drawing ever closer to the feast for which we are preparing (Christmas for Gaudete Sunday, and Easter for Laetare Sunday). This day has also come to be known as 'Mothering Sunday'. Four hundred years ago, people made a point of visiting their nearest big church (the Mother Church) on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Young girls and boys 'in service' were only allowed one day to visit their family each year, and this was usually Mothering Sunday. Often the housekeeper or cook would allow the maids to bake a cake to take home for their mother. Sometimes a gift of eggs; or flowers from the garden was allowed. A day to show our mothers our appreciation. Happy Mothering Sunday!

Too Late for Lent?

So you haven't got round to doing anything for Lent and wonder if it's too late? Are you thinking that you might as well forget about it now and try it next year instead? The answer is that it's never too late to do anything for God. Even if there is only one day left to do something, it's worth the effort because, after all, an effort made even if it is small and late, it is still an effort God will see. It’s not too late to do something for Lent and one of the places we might start is to say we are sorry, whether to God or to another person.

 

 

Housing Justice   Lent Appeal 2024

You will have seen in the news that the number of refugees being forced into sleeping on the streets has risen dramatically over the last few months. The Government’s efforts to reduce the huge backlog of asylum seekers has led to many newly-granted refugees (people who have recently been granted asylum) being evicted from their Home Office accommodation with nowhere to go.

 

These refugees have escaped conflict, persecution and unimaginable hardship, only to be made homeless once they have finally been granted asylum. Please help ‘Housing Justice’ to help these individuals find somewhere safe and warm to sleep so they can recover from the trauma they have experienced and start to rebuild their lives. You can donate online at

www.housingjustice.org.uk/donate-or-get-involved/lent

 

 

Care for Our Common Home   Carbon Fast

Individually we create on average 3 tonnes of carbon per year, or 8.2kg per day, from the food and drink we consume. So how do we reduce this? One way is to know when food is in season. Many vegetables and fruits have a low carbon footprint, but we need to check where they are grown and packaged before buying. Seasonal produce tends to create less greenhouse gas because it’s grown without artificial heat, and if it’s homegrown it doesn’t have to be shipped or – worse – flown in. This Lent, consider giving up fruit and veg that has been transported great distances and buy locally or grow your own. Share on social media to get other people doing it too.

 

 

Bitesize

It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.  Roy Disney

Gospel Reflection for the Third Sunday of Lent

3rd March 2024

Living Temples

 

Once a year at Passover, Jews visited the Temple and offered a sacrifice to God. At this time of year the number of visitors to Jerusalem swelled and the moneylenders, with their eye to business, took to operating a scam. When visitors came to the Temple they were able to purchase animals or doves to offer as sacrifices. Because the Jews considered Roman coinage bearing Caesar’s head as idolatrous, they were given the opportunity to exchange their Roman coins for Temple coinage. The idea was originally a good one, but the moneylenders were operating an unfair exchange rate for over-priced animals. What had started out as a good idea had turned into an abuse. ….. and this in God’s name! Was it any wonder that Jesus was so angry?

To see Jesus angry enough to take a whip and drive out the villainous traders might surprise us. We are brought up with a vision of a Jesus as both meek and mild. In our modern times, where disputes have to be settled over a table and those who display temper are sent off for anger management counselling, the story might even make us raise a disapproving eyebrow. But what this story makes us realise is that there are situations that warrant our righteous anger. Jesus simply could not tolerate injustice, and neither should we.

What injustices do we need to drive out of our society today? We don’t have to look far. How can we claim to be Christians yet settle for injustices that Jesus would not have settled for? Can we really sit back and allow rich countries to profit greedily at the expense of poor countries? Can we really condone the unfair distribution of our planet’s resources just for our own convenience? Can we continue to let governments ride roughshod over those who cannot speak up for themselves?

What has to be driven out of our lives and communities because instead of bringing us closer to God they prevent us from meeting him? Today's story is not about protecting a sacred building. God after all does not live in a building. Each of us is a living temple. God lives through us.

 

Pope Francis' Prayer Intention  March 2024

Pope Francis tells us that we are “to be truly committed to discipleship and prepared to take risks for the cause of the Gospel.” By risks we understand that we should be unafraid of what others might think of us. In certain countries it might even mean risking persecution. Pope Francis promotes that we should have a ‘zeal’ for promoting the gospel. But how should we do that? How should we promote the gospel with enthusiasm? Catechists are sometimes asked to conduct a simple exercise.  We are asked to look back through our lives and identify a significant crossroad and reflect about where we think God was for us during that time. How did God use this change to make us who we are today? Are we willing to share that story and invite others to share their stories too?

This month we are invited to join Pope Francis' prayer intention, “…for those around the world who risk their lives for the Gospel, to inspire the Church with their courage and missionary zeal.”"

 

Peace Actions March 2024

Pray for Ukraine on the second anniversary of the invasion by Russia.

Pray for a lasting ceasefire in the Holy Land.

Support 'Water Aid' on World Water Day (March 22nd).

Hunt down the 'Real Easter Egg' this year – of 80 million Easter Eggs sold in the UK every year, this is the first to tell the story of Easter. Not only that, the chocolate is Fairtrade. If you can't find it in your supermarket you can order online at Traidcraft.

 

Welcome Home

One of the themes of Lent is welcoming back Catholics who no longer come to Mass. If there is someone in your family who no longer comes to Mass, you might explore ways to bring them back. Sometimes people who have ceased to attend might keep meaning to come along but just need some gentle encouragement. You could encourage them by offering a lift, inviting them for a coffee afterwards or sharing the newsletter.

 

Care for our Common Home Carbon Fast

Have you ever noticed how some of your best ideas come to you whilst you’re out walking? Lent is a time for reflection. Take time out. Slow life down. Allow more time to get to the places you need to get to. Leave the car at home and enjoy walking and reflecting.

 

Bite Size

Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.                                                                                                           Lou Holtz