Newsletter for Sunday 28 November 2021

26 Nov

Christ our Judge

I can scarcely believe that we have already arrived at the First Sunday of Advent, the first day of the new liturgical year. Advent, of course, is the time to prepare for the birth of Our Lord JESUS Christ Who is Saviour and Redeemer of the world. But let us not forget that He will also come to judge us.

Today we light the first candle on our Advent wreath. This wreath is symbolic of Our Lord, firstly because He is the Light. As St John writes at the beginning of his Gospel, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:14-5). The Advent wreath is also made in a circle with green leaves. This is a symbol of eternity because JESUS is true God, equal to the Father and the Holy Spirit and is therefore eternal. Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Then you may think of the three purple candles as representing JESUS Christ as Judge, JESUS Christ as King, and JESUS Christ as Saviour of the world. The rose candle lit on the Third Sunday of Advent we may think of as rejoicing because the Lord is near. And the One Who is near is the One Who will judge us.

Yes, it is a fact that when Christ returns He will judge us. This is referred to in today’s Gospel: “And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27). JESUS is going to return in all His glory and majesty and judge us. Many of us tend to forget about this, but isn’t it interesting that this is the first image the Church gives us of Our Lord in the new liturgical year! So let us not fall into the temptation of thinking of JESUS only as our Saviour. He certainly is our Saviour – He is the only Saviour, but we also say in the Creed every week, “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead”. And He Himself tells us, “The Father Himself judges no one, but has assigned all judgment to the Son, so that all men may honour the Son just as they honour the Father” (John 5:22,23, 27).

The resurrection of all the dead will precede the Last Judgment; those who have done good to the resurrection of life and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment (John 5:28-29). And at this time, all will see their life as they lived it placed before Christ the Just Judge Who sees everything. At death we will all undergo the ‘particular judgment’, but at the Last Judgment, the ‘particular judgment’ will be made public – all the good we have done and all the evil we have done will be made known to everyone – the sins of commission as well as the sins of omission. This thought need not frighten us if we repent of our sins.

So this doctrine of the Last Judgment is really a call to conversion and reform of our lives. We need to see everything in the light of eternity. Don’t be caught off guard! St Paul tells us the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. In other words we don’t know the day or the hour when the Son of Man will return. So let us not sleep but be awake and sober (Thessalonians 5:2,6) so that we will be able “to stand with confidence before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36). This is an excellent time to make a good, humble confession of our sins.

Fr Paul Gillham, IC

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Newsletter for Sunday 21 November 2021

19 Nov

Christ the King

Today is the Solemnity of Christ the King and marks the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year. Being God, JESUS Christ is King of all creation, but sadly the world today doesn’t want to listen to Him. Although His Kingdom is not of this world, it is a Kingdom for all time and for all eternity, and thus it is the one to which we should wish to belong. But the world at large has forgotten this, and so the general state of mankind gets worse and worse and worse. Presently evil seems to triumph everywhere, but it won’t be so forever. As the psalm tells us, the Lord will make the enemy His footstool and He will crush them (Psalm 110:1). God will not be mocked.

JESUS Christ is King of the whole created order, and being God He has complete rights over all of us and so we must humbly submit to Him. JESUS said, “All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to Me” (Matthew 28:18). Therefore anyone who has authority receives it from Him. Thus Our Lord told Pilate, “You would have no authority over Me if it were not given you from above” (John 19:11). For these reasons the Church teaches that the right to promulgate laws doesn’t come from the State itself, but from God. It is delegated authority. The modern idea that authority to govern comes from the people and that morality is decided by the latest pressure group is false. While God permits us to choose who will govern us, the actual authority to govern comes from God, and so those who govern must do so according to God’s laws. Those who are in a position of civil power and abuse it will have to answer to God for that. Those who promote abortion and euthanasia and all other kinds of immorality against the divine and natural law will be held accountable. To be in a position of real authority requires virtue and the acceptance of God’s revealed truth.

President Garcia Moreno was the ruler of Ecuador in the nineteenth century. Before he was elected, Ecuador had been ruled by freemasons. But over time he began to establish Christian principles in his country. To cut a long story short, he formed a little Christendom there. He personally attended Mass every day, spent time in front of the Blessed Sacrament, recited the Rosary and meditated each morning. Every year on Good Friday he would carry a life-size wooden cross during a penitential procession. He had his country consecrated by the bishops to the Sacred Heart of JESUS, and he made a special agreement with the Pope at the time, Blessed Pius IX, that Catholicism was the official religion of the state. He did many other things too, the result of which brought about the reign of prosperity and peace throughout the land.

Then after 12 years of peaceful rule, he was assassinated by a group of revolutionary freemasons as he left the Cathedral after attending Mass one morning in 1875. These men shot him 6 times and wounded him 14 times with their swords. The dying President was brought into the Cathedral and placed at the foot of a statue of Our Lady of Sorrows where he was given the Last Rites. He forgave all his attackers and assassins. His final words were, “Dios no muere”, “God doesn’t die”. These words show the great confidence he had in the eventual conquest and victory of Christ the King. And that victory is certain. Let us work for the reign of Christ the King and may our song 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 14 November 2021

12 Nov

Remembrance Sunday

Remembrance Sunday was first observed in 1945 to remember the dead of both World Wars, and is observed on the Sunday after 11th November, the anniversary of the end of the First World War in 1918. But Remembrance Sunday now embraces all battles up to the present day so as we remember the dead of all these wars. No one can deny the heroism of the men and women on both sides who gave their lives for their country, their family and their friends. From our Catholic point of view, we don’t merely remember them – we pray for their souls, that those being purified in Purgatory arrive soon in Heaven. We remember especially those who died suddenly on the battlefield with severe injuries and with little or no preparation to meet their Maker. It is for all of them we particularly offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass today and pray for them in earnest, that God grant them eternal rest and peace. We remember also the Chaplains who gave their lives administering the Last Rites to the dying on the battlefield, preparing these brave men for their meeting with God. We can never dispense with remembering them in our prayers. The secularists, of course, will have no concept of praying for them, but we do so because we believe in the ‘communion of saints’ and that the souls in Purgatory have great need of our prayers.

To experience war on the battlefield must be a most terrible experience. So why does God allow this Hell on earth? Why doesn’t He stop war? Well God could stop war, but only if He took away our human freedom. But God won’t do that because He is not a dictator. War is manmade and yet we never seem to learn our lesson. The First World War was said to be the war to end all wars, and yet billions are spent each year building bigger and better bombs which could blow the planet up a thousand times over. This is sheer insanity because in this type of war there can be no winner.

In 1917 Our Lady of Fatima prophesied that the First World War would end soon, which it did, but she also said that if mankind did not return to God, an even worse war would break out in the Pontificate of Pope Pius XI, which it did in 1939. War is the result of sin. If we are to have peace in the world, we must all dedicate ourselves not to seeking worldly happiness, but to holiness and to the re-establishment of the reign of Christ on earth, because it is only through nations following Him that we can ever have true peace. This may seem an impossibility to us, but I firmly believe it will happen, since Our Lady said it would. When it happens it will be the promised triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. JESUS wants the whole world to know the intercessory power of His Mother.

As we remember the Fallen, many of those who died in battle will have already reached Heaven. Most of them we will know little or nothing about. There are the famous canonised saints and martyrs like St Maximilian Kolbe and St Edith Stein, but the stories of the lesser known soldiers and civilians also humble and inspire us. But in a sense we are all Soldiers of Christ and we are all called to show a soldier’s heroism for Christ in whatever our walk of life may be. Let us renew our commitment to Christ and pray to have the grace to do whatever He asks of us, so that we may hasten the restoration of Christ’s reign on earth so that true peace may reign in the world.

Fr Paul Gillham, IC

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Newsletter for Sunday 7 November 2021

5 Nov

Your Help is Needed …

St John tells us in the Apocalypse that nothing defiled can enter Heaven (Apocalypse 21:27). So Purgatory, which is a place of cleansing after death, is a masterpiece of God’s mercy and also His justice. The Church teaches infallibly that Purgatory exists and that there are souls there. Very few of us when we die will still have our baptismal robe totally pure and spotless. So those who die with only venial sins on their soul, or those who have moral and spiritual imperfections which haven’t been sufficiently atoned for in this life will go to Purgatory. Purgatory is a place of cleansing, so naturally there will be some suffering. But it is also a place of great joy because the souls there know they have attained their salvation. Heaven is guaranteed, so in that sense they are better off than we are.

Maria Simma (1915-2004) was an Austrian mystic who received many visits from the souls in Purgatory. She first experienced a visit from Purgatory in 1940 when she was just twenty five years old. A man appeared to her and said, “Please have three holy Masses said for my intentions and then I will be delivered.” He immediately disappeared and Maria said that it was then she realised he was a poor soul. Very soon more souls would come to her asking for help, and over the years it turned into a great number. Maria spent her lifetime helping the souls in Purgatory.

The holy souls told her many times that the greatest help they can receive from us on earth is to have the holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered for them. After that the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross are the most beneficial to them. But even the smallest prayer or sacrifice is like giving a glass of cold water to a traveller parched in the desert. Maria said that the greatest complaint of the holy souls is that family and loved ones almost completely forget them and give them almost no spiritual help. Very few prayers are said for them and yet that is what they need the most. No longer possessing physical bodies, the holy souls cannot do penance or make sacrifices themselves, so they rely totally on our help.

One may gain a Plenary Indulgence for the Holy Souls on any day in November by visiting a cemetery and there saying some prayers for them. In addition one must make a sacramental Confession within eight days before or after and receive Holy Communion. Then say an Our Father and Hail Mary for the Pope’s intention. If you don’t manage all the conditions the Indulgence is Partial. Let us all make a concerted effort this month to pray hard for the Holy Souls, try and gain Indulgences for them and release as many of them from Purgatory as possible. This is a really great act of charity, and by helping release them we will be gaining for ourselves great friends and intercessors in Heaven. Then in the words of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, “As we enter Heaven, we will see them, so many of them coming towards us and thanking us. We will ask who they are and they will say, ‘A poor soul you prayed for in Purgatory’.”

Fr Paul Gillham, IC

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Newsletter for Sunday 31st October 2021

29 Oct

All Saints and All Souls

The Solemnity of All Saints which we celebrate today is a way of honouring all those men, women and children who throughout history have responded to God’s call and are now with Him in everlasting joy in Heaven. The majority are not canonised, but they are saints nevertheless. Some may have their own feast days, but most do not. In fact, the vast majority of them are completely unknown to us, but we are all united in what we call the Communion of Saints. This is because the Church is divided into three parts – the Church Militant which is us here on earth. We say ‘militant’ because we are in a constant struggle against the world, the flesh and the devil. Then there is the Church Suffering which is the Holy Souls in Purgatory who are expiating their sins in the cleansing fire. Then there are the blessed in Heaven who are called the Church Triumphant, because they have already attained their glory in Heaven having been purified of all their sins.

All three parts are united in Christ and are called ‘saints’ because they are sanctified by Baptism and therefore can all help each other. This means that as the saints in Heaven love and pray for us and for the souls in Purgatory, so the suffering souls in Purgatory love and pray for us. This is a most beautiful doctrine because in the words of Cardinal Gibbons (1834-1921), “it robs death of its terrors.” There is a great bond that unites earth with Heaven – the soul in the flesh with those souls released from the flesh. Death only destroys the body, but the soul still lives on. But let’s not assume that everyone who dies goes immediately to Heaven. They do not! Most of us die in a state of imperfection and need the prayers of others to be released from Purgatory before entering Heaven. Let us not deny them our help. November is the month of the Holy Souls when we increase our efforts on their behalf, thereby making friends for ourselves on the other side. They in turn will pray for us when we need their help in this life, but especially in the next when we may be suffering in Purgatory atoning for our sins. This is the purpose of the Blessing of Graves and Rosary for the faithful departed at Loughborough Cemetery this afternoon at 3pm. Please join in if you can.

The doctrine of the Communion of Saints is the foundation of devotion to the Faithful Departed. This life is not extinguished by death, but only by mortal sin which makes us like dead limbs, separating us from Christ, the true vine (John 15). The souls dear to us who have died in a state of grace are members of the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Catholic Church. Now as in any normal human body, the individual parts don’t have a life of their own. They all help the whole body to function. In the same way, all the members of the Mystical Body, whether journeying here on earth, atoning for sins in Purgatory or among the blessed in Heaven, they should all help one another to promote the good of the entire Body. The blessed in Heaven and the Souls in Purgatory without question do this, but we must do the same. But to do this we must ensure that we are in a state of grace. If we are in mortal sin we extinguish the life of Christ that comes to us through the Mystical Body. We become branches separated from the vine, cut off from the vine, thus causing spiritual death. But our relationship with Christ is always restored by making a good sacramental Confession.

Let us resolve then to be always in a state of grace and to pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory every day, so as when, through our help, they are released from Purgatory, we will have great friends and intercessors in Heaven.

Fr Paul Gillham, IC

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