Newsletter for Sunday 22 November 2020

20 Nov

Christ is King of All Creation

We have already come to the final Sunday of the Liturgical Year with the celebration of the Solemnity of Christ the King. Next Sunday we shall enter Advent. But what do we mean when we say Christ is King? Christ is not just King of Heaven or King of Christians. His sovereignty is over every single aspect of creation, both in the supernatural and in the natural order because He is God and He is the Creator who holds all things in being. He said, “My Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36) but in saying this, Our Lord was referring to the world of sin over which Satan exercises influence, and only because God permits it. But Satan does not own it – God does, and so Christ’s Kingship extends over everything, all peoples and all nations.

This Feast is a relatively new one, instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 because he became alarmed that nations were claiming that JESUS Christ and His law had “no place in private affairs or politics.”  The Church and State may be distinct, but they should collaborate to bring about Christ’s reign on earth. As Pope Benedict XVI said in Westminster Hall in 2010, “Religion … is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to the national conversation.” For instance, the State does not have a right to pass laws which cause harm to the common good and which corrupt the morals of the population, or which denies the rights of Christ and the Catholic Church. The State has no right to prevent the public worship of the Church, because God has the right to be worshipped by every one of us. When the State forbids this God is offended. So it is right that the Bishops and many Catholics have protested to the government against this. If it is absolutely necessary for the temporary cessation of public worship, this is for the Church to decide – not the State. The Church can never be subject to the State because it uncrowns Christ. Although we are obeying the law in this, we do so under duress.

Pope Pius XI when he instituted this Feast said, “While nations insult the beloved Name of our Redeemer by suppressing all mention of It in their conferences and parliaments, we must all the more loudly proclaim His kingly dignity and power, all the more universally affirm His rights.”

Our battle song can be the words of the Laudes Regiae (The Royal Praises) “Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat!” (Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ commands!).

Fr Paul Gillham, IC

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Newsletter for Sunday 15 November 2020

13 Nov

Sloth

In today’s Gospel we hear the famous Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) in which JESUS urges us to be ready for the Master’s return. He Himself is that Master, and that return will be either at the moment of our death or at His Second Coming.

In the parable, the talents are not distributed equally. One servant received five talents, another received two and the other just one, each according to their ability. The Master returned after a long time. The first two had doubled their investment and were rewarded, whereas the third who had done nothing and hid it in the ground was punished and “thrown out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.” He hadn’t done anything immoral but his sins were those of omission rather than commission. So it is possible to lose our souls by doing nothing. He had been lazy or slothful and had not used the talents he had been given.

Sloth or laziness is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. It does not refer to legitimate recreation or rest. We all need time for ourselves to relax and chill out, especially if we’ve been working hard. But when we think only of ourselves and our own comfort and become unwilling to do anything for anybody else, and when we neglect our spiritual duties, this can cause us serious damage. We all hear the devil whispering in our ear that God accepts me and loves me just as I am and so I don’t have to bother improving myself. If we give in to these thoughts it causes our spiritual life to deteriorate and we begin to fall into more serious sins. God does love us, but He wants us to become holy, and that requires effort on our part. St Jane Frances de Chantal (1572-1641) said, “Hell is full of the talented, but Heaven of the energetic.” In other words, we will be judged not on how many talents we had, but on how we used the ones we were given and whether we used them with a supernatural motive.

So what talents has God given you? How are you using them? Do you cultivate the gifts God has given you? If you have monetary gifts, do you help those in need? Almsgiving is an essential part of the spiritual life. Could you be a volunteer for a worthy organisation? Could you help steward in the church? Could you sing in the choir? Is there a sick person you could visit or do shopping for? Do you pray and make sacrifices for the souls in Purgatory? The majority of the saints didn’t become holy overnight. For most it was the result of a life of humble sacrifices and loving actions. Even insignificant actions done out of love of God have supernatural value. Think of the talents God has given you and ask Him to show you how best to use them.

Fr Paul Gillham, IC

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Newsletter for Sunday 8 November 2020

6 Nov

Lockdown Again

With the Government having decided to have another national lockdown until at least 2nd December, our churches, once again, have had to close for public worship in spite of many appeals made by the Bishops and others. I know many of you also wrote to our local MP, Jane Hunt. But as things stand right now, there will be no public Masses at St Mary’s for at least the next month and First Holy Communions and RCIA have had to be put on hold again. This is a great pity and seems unnecessary, as our churches, with all the rigorous measures we have put in place, must be among the safest places for people to be, and neither is there any evidence that our churches have contributed to the rise in Covid-19 infections. The public worship of God is vital for the well-being of our country and can never be regarded as “non-essential” because we are all bound to worship Him. I would like to thank again on behalf of the whole parish our wonderful team of stewards and cleaners who have worked so hard to enable St Mary’s to open for public worship several times a week.

The good news is we are still able to open for private prayer. Therefore, the church will be open at the following times:

Sundays 3-5pm, Mondays 9.30-10.30am, Wednesdays 5.30-6.30pm with Confessions
Fridays 5.30-6.30pm, Saturdays 10.30am-12.30pm
Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament with Confessions 10:30-11.30am.

Holy Mass will continue to be offered daily by us priests for the intentions advertised. We keep in our prayers all the sick of the parish, all those suffering from Covid and all those who will suffer further hardship as a result of restrictions. As we pray especially hard for the Holy Souls in Purgatory this month, we keep in mind those who have died from Covid-19, particularly doctors and nurses, priests and nuns throughout the world who gave their lives in service of others.

Today is also Remembrance Sunday. I will offer Mass today for all who died for their countries in battle. Many of them suffered severe injuries with little or no preparation to meet their Maker. They need our prayers. When we help release souls from Purgatory, they are so grateful and we gain friends and intercessors for ourselves in Heaven. St Ambrose (ca. 340-397) said, “Whatever we do for the departed souls redounds to our own benefit; after death it will be restored to us with interest.”

Fr Paul Gillham, IC

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Newsletter for Sunday 1 November 2020

30 Oct

The Communion of Saints

November is the month of the Communion of Saints. We celebrate today the Feast of All Saints when we honour all those in Heaven (not only canonised saints) and ask them to pray for us here on earth. Tomorrow (Monday) is All Souls Day, when we commemorate all the faithful departed and when we are reminded that we should assist the souls of the faithful departed in Purgatory by our prayers, sufferings and good works that they may be released from their pains. This teaching as well as being in Scripture is also part of our natural instinct. If you move far away from your family, you believe they will still pray for you. Similarly, when a family member departs this life and arrives in Heaven why should they not continue to pray for us? They still love us and death only destroys the body while the soul lives on. To quote Cardinal James Gibbons (1834-1921), “The dross of sin and selfishness and hatred are burned in salutary fires of contrition, and nothing remains but the pure gold of charity. O far be from us the dreary thought that death cuts off our friends entirely from us!”

Nowadays the doctrine of Purgatory is often undermined, particularly at funerals, when the deceased is sometimes canonised, meaning that absolute certainty is expressed that they are already in Heaven. While the intentions may be good this actually does a disservice to the deceased, because people will be discouraged from praying for them. Nothing impure can enter Heaven (Apocalypse 21:27). Most people die in a state of imperfection and so they desperately need Masses, the prayers and sacrifices of us here on earth to speed up the process of their purification. To pray for the dead is a great act of mercy.

So we should always honour the saints and celebrate their feast days invoking their aid. Then as well as offering our sufferings and prayers for the souls detained in Purgatory we should also try to gain Indulgences for them. (See page 3 for what you can do this month). By doing so you could release a soul from Purgatory. They in turn will be so grateful that they will intercede in Heaven on your behalf. How wonderful and consoling to know we have people praying for us in Heaven who won’t rest until we arrive there ourselves. And we should, of course, also pray for each other here on earth. This is the Communion of Saints. Let us thank God that we are Catholic and that we know about this Divinely revealed truth and can take advantage of it.

Fr Paul Gillham, IC

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Newsletter for Sunday 25 October 2020

23 Oct

Statement on Marriage

(Published by order of the Bishop)

Marriage is a lifelong vocation of a man and a woman to a community of life and love open to children, and, between the baptized, it is a Sacrament. Aware of the many pressures today which can endanger family life, the Church is constantly concerned to make sure that those of you planning to marry are prepared as well as possible. We would like to remind those who wish to marry of the following:

  1. It is important that a couple go to see their priest in good time before their wedding. Normally, at least six months’ notice should be given.
  2. Marriage preparation is carried out by the Priest, often assisted by a group from the parish. Courses arranged on a Deanery basis are recommended.
  3. Catholics are reminded of their obligation to preserve their faith and to do all they can within the unity of their partnership to have all their children baptized and brought up in the faith and practice of the Catholic Church.
  4. Non-Catholic partners will be informed of this promise, but they are not asked to make this or any similar promise.
  5. Dispensation for a marriage between a Catholic and a non-Catholic to take place in a non-Catholic Church can only be granted for a serious reason. Couples who wish to marry in a non-Catholic Church should discuss the matter with their priest in good time before their wedding day to see whether a dispensation could be granted.

All couples marrying these days need the support of the local Church. In this way they will be strengthened in their preparation for marriage, in celebrating their marriage, and in living out their covenant with one another.

We wish to thank all those married people who show such constancy and fidelity to their vocation of marriage. May their example inspire those planning to marry in the Church.

Right Reverend Patrick McKinney
Bishop of Nottingham

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