Live Stream Mass – Nottingham Cathedral

5 Jun

Recognising that the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting everyone, special Masses are being celebrated for the sick, their families, care workers and NHS staff  by one of our diocesan Bishops of England and Wales, in his Cathedral every Thursday at 7pm.

On Thursday 11th June (Feast of St. Barnabas), Bishop Patrick will be taking his turn as part of this important initiative. the Bishop will be offering Mass at 7 pm, which will be live streamed from the Cathedral of St Barnabas on the Bishops YouTube account: https://www.youtube.com/bishoppatrickmckinney

Do join Bishop Patrick at Mass that evening through the medium of live streaming.

Letter from Fr Paul – 31 May 2020, Pentecost Sunday

31 May

Dear All,

Happy Feast! Today’s Feast of Pentecost is one of the greatest of the liturgical year and we can read a full account of it in the Acts of the Apostles (2:1-42), and we hear the first part of it in today’s First Reading. The Gospels do not give an account of Pentecost.

On the ninth day after Our Lord’s Ascension and the fiftieth day after His Resurrection, He sent the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, as He had promised (John 16:7). Our Lady was there too (Acts 1:14). He came with a mighty wind and appeared to the Apostles as “tongues as of fire” and they were filled with truth, love, zeal and fortitude. Previously they were timid men, but now they went out boldly into the world and preached the Good News that JESUS is the true Messiah and that it is by His Name alone that we can be saved (Acts 4:12). This Feast is regarded as the birthday of the Church.

Pentecost was a Jewish feast and literally means ‘the fiftieth day’. On this day the Jews celebrated the end of the grain harvest and the giving of the Covenant on Mount Sinai (Exodus 23:16). And now on this new Pentecost, the Apostles went out to gather the harvest of souls and announce the New Covenant. And after Peter preached, “those who received his word were baptised, and there were added that day about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41).

We might wonder why the Holy Spirit appeared to them in tongues as of fire. In the book of Exodus in the Old Testament, the Lord came down from Heaven and descended upon Israel in fire to give them the Old Law. So now in the New Testament, the Holy Spirit descends upon the Apostles in tongues as of fire, not to give them the Old Law, which was written on tablets of stone, but to give them the New Law, which is written on the tablets of their hearts. He is now going to put His Law within them through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

St Peter preaching at Pentecost

A question I sometimes get asked as a priest is about the ‘gift of tongues’. There is a lot of confusion today about what this really means. Some people believe you can pray for it and receive it. St Thomas Aquinas teaches that these are graces which are gratuitously given. God gives them to whom He wills, but that they are always ordered toward the good of the Church. You cannot merit these gifts and neither do these gifts depend upon the holiness of the particular individual. Some people claim they have the gift of tongues, but usually upon closer examination they clearly do not. There is a story of a priest who was a linguist and was invited to one of these meetings where they were claiming to speak in tongues, but when they started doing it he walked out. When asked why he had left he explained he had recognised one of the languages and that the person speaking the language was praising Satan. Satan can cause people to speak languages they don’t know, as any exorcist will tell you, so we should be very wary of these types of things. People speaking some sort of gibberish can also claim to be speaking in tongues. But why would God use intelligent human beings to do something so absurd, and how would this be giving Him honour and glory?

So what is the gift of tongues the Apostles had at Pentecost? It is clear from the Scriptures that the Apostles who were Galileans were all speaking their own language which was probably Aramaic, but the people who were listening heard it in their own language, whether they came from Persia, Media, Cappadocia, Asia or Egypt. This was the miraculous gift – that they heard the Apostles preach in their own language. In modern times St Padre Pio sometimes had this gift when hearing Confessions of foreigners who couldn’t speak Italian. The purpose of this gift of tongues at Pentecost was obviously to aid the growth of the Church. The Gospel was to be preached to all nations – it wasn’t just for Israel.

St Padre Pio hearing confessions

Also the gift of tongues signified a reversal of the confusion at the Tower of Babel in the Old Testament. You probably know the story in Genesis chapter 11. The whole world had just one language, and man, because of his pride decided to build a tower up to Heaven to glorify himself rather than God. So God caused mankind to speak different languages so as they couldn’t communicate with each other and build the tower. So Pentecost is the undoing of the sin of Babel, and God is showing us that the only way the world will truly be united is not through human effort and through human pride and power, but through the power of the Holy Spirit and through the Church.

One of the glories of the Church is her official Latin language as it unites the faithful throughout the world in worship. This is just one good reason why it is important we don’t let our heritage of Latin fall into disuse. While there are obviously advantages to having much of the Liturgy in the vernacular, being able to sing and say some of the prayers and hymns in Latin (which was mandated by Vatican II) is a connection with our historical roots going right back to the catacombs. Many of the Latin chants would have been known by the early Fathers and Saints of the Church as well as all the Faithful. And of course, in these days of much international travel we can unite and pray together as Catholics when we don’t all speak the same native tongue. We are the Universal Church, and so we have a universal language.

One final point. We might not always realise that a perfect understanding of the Deposit of Faith was infused into the Apostles at Pentecost. Up to this point they seemed to be in a rather confused state about what Our Lord had taught. But when the Holy Spirit came upon them they understood perfectly everything He had taught them. This was a very necessary gift, because if they were going to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth they had to understand what it meant. And as St Paul says, they were the foundation stones of the churches they would found (Ephesians 2:20), and therefore they had to be able to teach the truth without error. So the Church teaches that each of the Apostles enjoyed infallibility when they spoke officially as Apostles and Teachers of the Faith. In other words there was no error in their teaching. And that teaching is handed down to us today through the Magisterium (teaching authority) of the Church. It is for this reason that the Church also teaches that Divine Revelation concluded with the death of the last Apostle. And so long as we believe what the Church has always taught or the Deposit of Faith we are not going to be led astray. As the Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians, “But though we, or an angel from Heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema” (1:8). So beware of novelties! The job of the Pope and the Bishops who are the Successors of the Apostles is to guard that Deposit of Faith. The Bishops, unlike the Apostles, do not enjoy personal infallibility and the Pope only has infallibility under very strict conditions. The last infallible pronouncement was made by Venerable Pope Pius XII in 1950 when he defined the dogma of the Assumption of Our Lady. When those conditions do not exist there is no guarantee of infallibility, but that is a topic for another occasion.

As I mentioned at the beginning, Our Lady was present with the Apostles when the Holy Spirit came down upon them two millennia ago. On this final day of May which is her month, let us entrust ourselves to her maternal care and intercession so that the Holy Spirit may descend in abundance upon the Church in our day, fill the hearts of all the faithful and enkindle in us the fire of His love.

May God bless you all.

Fr Paul

The Holy Spirit in Bernini’s “Glory” in St Peter’s, Rome

 

Letter from Fr Paul – 21 May 2020, Ascension Thursday

22 May

Dear All,

I wish you all a very happy Solemnity of the Ascension!

But what is the Ascension of Our Lord and why is it important? It is distinct from His Resurrection. At the Resurrection, the body and soul of JESUS were reunited in a glorified state. I’ve written about this in previous letters. But forty days later, “He ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father” as we say in the Creed each week. So both His glorified body and soul ascended into Heaven and was taken up into the very life of the Trinity. He had already said, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world” (John 8:23). So by His Ascension He is confirming this teaching that His ultimate place is at the right hand of God in glory.

The Ascension is not the same as Our Lady’s Assumption. Her body was ‘taken up’ which is what ‘assumption’ means, whereas Our Lord, being God, ascended by His own power.

Today’s First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles, of which St Luke is the author, gives us a very detailed account of the Ascension. Towards the end we read, “…He was lifted up while they looked on and a cloud took Him from their sight.” There is great significance in this cloud. In the Old Testament it is God who rides on the clouds. You never see angels or kings on clouds – only God. So the cloud is a symbol of the fact that JESUS is a divine Person. For example, we read in Psalm 104, “the Lord makes the cloud His chariot.” And Our Lord Himself says that at the end of the world “you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of Heaven” (Mark 14:62), at which point the High Priest tore his robe because he knew Our Lord was claiming to be divine and equal to God.

Our Lord’s Ascension also gives us hope. This world is not our final end. Heaven is our destiny. This is what the world has forgotten today. St Thomas Aquinas explains that Christ, by taking to Heaven the human nature which He assumed, gave us the hope of going there too. Our hope is to be resurrected and then to be with Christ forever in our glorified bodies in the life of the Blessed Trinity. Our Lord didn’t come here to stay – He came to show us the way. There’s the famous Gospel we read almost always at funerals these days: “I am going now to prepare a place for you, and after I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return to take you with Me, so that where I am you may be too” (John 14: 3). That’s our destiny if we are faithful to Him, do what He commands us, repent of our sins, and die in a state of grace. This is why the Church must always preach about eternal life and not become secular and only worried about the things of this world, because JESUS said, “My Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36) and we need Christ and His Sacraments to help get us there. So JESUS is and remains for every single human being the only source of salvation whatever religion one may subscribe to. St Paul writes magnificently in his letter to the Phillipians that “At the name of JESUS every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that JESUS Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (2:10-11). All the Elect in Heaven cast their crowns at His feet and fall down before Him and worship Him, because He is worthy of all glory and honour, and because their salvation begins and ends in Him alone (Apocalypse 4:11). This is not politically correct but it is the truth.

So now that Our Lord had ascended into Heaven He would no longer be visible to us in human form.  We all know that Christ is the Head of the Church, but before He ascended, He passed His visible headship to Peter and the Apostles, and He does this in today’s Gospel:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time” (Matthew 28: 18-20).

He tells them to go out and baptise all nations, to cast out demons, to heal the sick and so on (Mark 14:17). But this is the actual moment when Our Lord is giving Peter and the other Apostles jurisdiction to govern the Church which will last until He returns at the end of the world. So at the death of the last Pope, Christ will take up the visible Headship again. But until Christ comes again, there will always be a visible Head on earth – that is a Pope.

There are some people today who claim that the last ‘true’ Pope was Pius XII who died in 1958 and that none of the Popes since are valid, and all kinds of reasons are put forward for this novelty. It is called ‘sedevacantism’ or ‘the See is vacant’. This is utter nonsense and heretical. There will always be a visible Pope, and it’s an Article of Faith that the Papacy is the perpetual principle of unity. In history it has occasionally taken a while to elect a Pope but the Church will never go for decades without one. And it was at the Ascension that this visible Headship was passed on.

So we can see Our Lord has not abandoned us or left us orphans by ascending into Heaven. He even said, “It is expedient that I go, because if I do not go the Paraclete [the Holy Spirit] will not come, but if I go I will send Him to you” (John 16:7). Don’t forget to make the novena to the Holy Spirit in anticipation of Pentecost which is a week on Sunday. The novena begins tomorrow (Friday). In case you missed it before, here is the link.

https://www.praymorenovenas.com/novena-to-the-holy-spirit

If you wish, you can sign up for it and receive it by email each day. The more parishioners we have doing it the better.

May God bless you all. Let us all keep praying for each other, for the end of the virus, for all the sick and those suffering hardship, and that we may meet back in church soon.

Fr Paul

Come Holy Spirit!

Letter from Fr Paul – 13 May 2020, Our Lady of Fatima

13 May

Dear All,

I hope you are all well. We priests remain in reasonably good shape! I am awaiting news to see whether in the light of the Prime Minister’s recent statements on the Coronavirus  we will be able to open the church at least for some hours during the day for private prayer. When this happens it is likely conditions will be attached to it, but I’m not sure yet exactly what they might be. I will let you know as soon as I hear anything official. I do not believe public Masses will resume any time soon. When they do resume a lot of thought will have to be given as to how we organise it with the social distancing rules which will clearly be with us for some considerable time. Let us keep praying for an end to this crisis particularly with the Holy Rosary.

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima and I celebrated Mass this morning at the Lady Altar in the church. It is the 103rd anniversary of the first apparition. Between 13th May and 13th October 1917 Our Lady appeared to three Portuguese children, Lucia Santos, and Jacinta and Francisco Marto, and asked them to pray the Rosary for world peace, for the end of World War I, for the conversion of sinners and for the conversion of Russia. The central message of Fatima is the same as Our Lord and the Church have always taught: repent and turn away from sin, prayer and reparation. Jacinta and Francisco are now canonised saints and Lucia who died only in 2005 is a Servant of God.

The culmination of the Fatima apparitions was the spectacular Miracle of the Sun which took place on 13th October in front of 70,000 people and had been foretold by Our Lady so as everyone would know that what the children had said was true and also the urgency of the message. Maria de Capelhina, who later became custodian of the original chapel built at Fatima, described how everything turned different colours – yellow, blue and white. Then the sun shook and trembled. “It looked like a wheel of fire that was going to fall on the people. They began to cry out, ‘We shall all be killed.’ They recited acts of contrition. One woman began to confess her sins aloud…when at last the sun stopped leaping and moving, we all breathed a sigh of relief. We were still alive, and the miracle, which the children had foretold, had been seen by everyone.”

Fr Ignacio Lorenco, a nine year old boy at the time, was an eye witness from a village eleven miles away. The sun, he said, “suddenly seemed to come down in a zigzag, menacing the earth. Terrified, I ran and hid myself among the people, who were weeping and expecting the end of the world at any moment.” He also said people were crying out to God to forgive their sins.

Another eye-witness, Dr Almeida Garret, a University Professor said, the sun looked like “a glazed wheel made of mother-of-pearl”, noting that “it spun round on itself in a mad whirl. Then suddenly one heard a clamour, a cry of anguish breaking forth from all the people. The sun, whirling wildly, seemed to loosen itself from the firmament and advance threateningly upon the earth, as if to crush us with its huge, fiery weight.”

There was another extraordinary phenomenon. When the people were arriving at the place of the apparition called the Cova da Iria, it had been pouring with rain for hours, and so they were drenched, the ground was covered in mud and so were they. Yet once the miracle was over and the sun had returned to its normal place, everything was dry, there was no more mud and the people’s clothes were clean. Countless other miracles are associated with Fatima, physical cures and healings and the even more important spiritual healings –  more important because the soul is immortal.  

The Holy Rosary, as always, featured very prominently in Our Lady’s message at Fatima. She urged the daily Rosary to bring about the end of the war, and at the final apparition in October she announced herself as the Lady of the Rosary. I have said a lot about the Rosary in the last two newsletters but I cannot emphasise its importance enough. I know many people find the Rosary hard to sustain. Lucia who later became a nun had some beautiful words on this: “Even for people who do not know how, or who are not able to recollect sufficiently to meditate, the simple act of taking the Rosary in their hands in order to pray is already to become mindful of God, and a mention in each decade of a mystery of the life of Christ recalls Him to their minds; this in turn will light in their souls a gentle light of faith which supports the still smouldering wick, preventing it from extinguishing itself altogether.” So persevere with it. God will reward us if we do. And surely if we do what Our Lady asks of us it will hasten the end of this global crisis which the whole world is now living through.

The other great message of Fatima was about making sacrifices for sinners. Our Lady told the three children in the July apparition, “Sacrifice yourselves for sinners and say often, especially when you make some sacrifice, ‘O my Jesus, this is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.’ This is how we help to save souls which is the Church’s primary mission. It doesn’t mean we have to practice great austerities. Some of the saints were called to this – the three children used to tie ropes around their waists as a penance. But for most of us the sacrifice is to fulfil our duties, keep God’s Law and avoid all sin. Sister Lucia told us that when your daily work is boring or monotonous, that’s your cross. Similarly, today when we go out to the supermarket, we will invariably find we have to queue to even get in. We don’t have the freedom to go where we want. We can’t come into the church and it’s difficult to receive the Sacraments. Maybe someone ignores us or we’re passed over. Someone might speak to us in a disagreeable tone. All these things, (and you will think of others) we can offer up in a spirit of sacrifice.

St Thérèse of Lisieux who is a Doctor of the Church said even the tiniest things can be offered in this way, even something as simple as picking a piece of paper up from the floor. Sister Lucia explained the fact that they are small do not make them any less pleasing to God. We should try and cultivate the habit of this and thus we will grow in merit, atone for our own sins and help to save souls. Doing this gives a purpose to everything. Remember Our Lady at Fatima said so many souls are lost because they have no one to make sacrifices and to pray for them. So remember the prayer: “O my Jesus, this is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” So simple and yet so powerful! We just have to remember to do it.

Let us continue to keep in our prayers at this time all the needy, the sick and the suffering, those who have died and their families. Let us also remember our health workers, our teachers and those who have been so generous in making self-sacrifice during this crisis. We pray for the Pope and the Bishops that they will defend our rights as Christians, and for our government that the steps they now take to ease the lockdown will be for the good of all, both spiritually and temporally. Please also keep in your prayers our Confirmation candidates who were due to receive the Sacrament from Bishop Patrick this Friday. Stay strong and pray hard, because we may have a battle on our hands for our Church, our Sacraments and our culture.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

May God bless you all.

Fr Paul

Newsletter for Sunday 10 May 2020

8 May

The Rosary is a Sword

In April 2014, Boko Haram, a radical Islamic group kidnapped two hundred girls from a school in Nigeria. The group is responsible for many atrocities. In December of the same year Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme of the diocese of Maiduguri in Nigeria was praying the Rosary in his chapel when Our Lord appeared to him holding a sword which He extended towards the Bishop. As the Bishop took the sword into his own hands it turned into a Rosary and Our Lord looked at him and said three times, “Boko Haram is gone! Boko Haram is gone! Boko Haram is gone!” These were the only words Our Lord spoke but the Bishop said he didn’t need any further explanation. “It was clear that with the Rosary we would be able to expel Boko Haram” he said. You will find videos of Bishop Doeme explaining all this on YouTube. So he went to the priests of his diocese, explained what had happened and he began Rosary Crusades. After just two years of this Boko Haram had almost vanished from his area, and on 13th October 2016, the anniversary of the final apparition at Fatima and the Miracle of the Sun, dozens of kidnapped girls were suddenly released by Boko Haram. Then in May 2017, another 83 girls were released, and on 3rd July 2017, seven hundred members of Boko Haram surrendered their weapons and turned themselves in to Nigerian authorities.

The Rosary is the sword that slays the dragon – Satan. It might not look like it when you see beads on a string, but this is the reality. Think about it: the first and the last books of the Bible, Genesis and the Apocalypse speak of a Woman (Mary) doing battle with a serpent or a dragon (Satan). And it is her offspring, JESUS who conquers him by the saving mysteries of His life, death and resurrection. Without Mary we wouldn’t have these mysteries. And what is the Rosary? It is a meditation on these mysteries. God, with the aid of the Church crafted the Rosary over many centuries, so that when the time was right she could give it to St Dominic as the weapon to destroy the evil of the Albigensian heresy in 1208.

And so the Rosary is also the weapon given to us by our Heavenly Mother to slay the dragon in our times. St Padre Pio called it “the weapon” and St Dominic referred to it as a “battering ram”. The Rosary has won so many battles throughout the centuries. What further proof do we need? If you say the daily Rosary devoutly it will protect you against sin and evil. For decades now many have rubbished the Rosary and tried to consign it to the scrap heap. This is what Satan wants because he knows how powerful it is. He is actually terrified of it. So don’t be fooled. Our Lady at Fatima, whose feast we celebrate on Wednesday, prophesied a lot of what is going on in the world and in the Church today, and her remedy for it was the Rosary. The Rosary is the solution to the problems of our day. We are in a spiritual battle for the future of the Church and of humanity and so we need a supernatural weapon to fight it. Our Lady has given it to us, and it is the Rosary! Ave Maria!

Fr Paul Gillham, IC

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