Newsletter for Sunday 9 May 2021

7 May

Our Lady of Good Success

In this month of Our Lady, there is a very important Marian apparition I would like to tell you about which took place in the sixteenth century which is very relevant to our times and fully approved of by the Church. In them ‘Our Lady of Good Success’ prophesied the crisis of faith which we are now living through. The Church has been in decline in our part of the world for decades.

From 1594 until 1634, Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres, a Conceptionist nun, had visions of Our Lady in Quito, Ecuador which were accompanied by many miracles including the making of a miraculous statue. Our Lady made a number of astonishing prophecies which have all come true. She prophesied that in the nineteenth century there would be a pope who would proclaim the dogma of the Immaculate Conception and who would also proclaim the dogma of Papal infallibility. Both happened under Blessed Pope Pius IX. She also foretold that in Ecuador, in the nineteenth century, “…there will be a truly Catholic president who will consecrate the Republic to the Sacred Heart of JESUS” and that he would be martyred. This president turned out to be Gabriel Garcia Moreno (1821-1875), who consecrated Ecuador to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1873. Then he was assassinated by members of a Masonic sect right next door to the convent of Mother Mariana just as Our Lady had said.

The most startling prophecies were for our own times. She told Mother Mariana there would be a terrible crisis of faith in the Church after the mid twentieth century (1960s), that innocence in children and modesty in women would disappear. There would be a great decline in vocations caused by secular education, and that the Sacrament of Holy Orders would be ridiculed, oppressed and despised and that many clergy will be corrupted. She said specifically the Sacrament of Matrimony would be attacked, that many children would be born out of wedlock and not baptised. She said the Sacrament of the Dying (Extreme Unction) would be little esteemed and many would die without receiving it. She also spoke of how the Blessed Sacrament would be profaned especially by sacrilegious communions. Doesn’t this all sound very familiar. But Our Lady promised that she would intervene in a marvellous way and crush the head of Satan under her feet (Genesis 3:15). She asked Mother Mariana to offer up her sufferings for the crisis we are now experiencing and from which we trust we are now benefitting. All the prophecies, and there are many others, have been fulfilled, apart from the Great Restoration which we still await and which Our Lady said would happen when all will seem to be lost. This surely must be the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart Our Lady promised at Fatima.

God knew from all eternity all this would happen, and yet He put us on earth at this time. So this is a call to arms. Let us pray hard, embrace our crosses, make reparation and recite the daily Rosary to help bring about this Great Restoration. Every single one of us has an important role to play to help preserve the true Faith in these troubled times.

Fr Paul Gillham, IC

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Newsletter for Sunday 2 May 2021

30 Apr

Mary as Co-Redemptrix

Our Lady has many titles. She is Mother of God, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, Ark of the Covenant and Queen of Angels to name just a few. With May being her month, we shall begin this weekend by crowning her statue at each of the Masses because she is also Queen of Heaven and Earth. She has another title, “Co-Redemptrix” which originated in the fourteenth century, but she was always recognised as such in the early Church. This has been talked about a bit recently, so it seems a good opportunity to try and explain it.

JESUS Christ is the one Redeemer of the world and yet we call Mary Co-Redemptrix. The first thing to understand is that, ‘co’ means ‘with’. In other words she is Co-Redemptrix only when she is united with Christ. Our Lord, Who is God, redeemed us by suffering and dying on the Cross for our sins, but He shared the pain of His Passion with His Mother when she stood at the foot of the Cross. She participated in His pain by her compassion. And when Our Lord’s Heart was pierced with a lance by the Roman centurion, a sword of sorrow pierced Mary’s heart too, just as Simeon had foretold when the baby JESUS was presented in the Temple (Luke 2:35). Just as Our Lord in His Passion became “a man of sorrows” (Isaiah 53:3), Mary became “Our Lady of Sorrows”.

Our Lady is also Co-Redemptrix because she distributes the graces won by Christ. After all, what is on the Miraculous Medal? An image of Our Lady with Christ’s graces shining forth brilliantly from the rings on her fingers. All the fruits of the Redemption and all graces come to us through Mary – not from her but through her. It was through her that the Author of Grace Himself, Our Lord JESUS Christ came into this world. Then through her role which is secondary and totally dependent upon Christ, she is part of the actual work of salvation itself. How? Because she provided the actual material of Christ’s Body for the Redemption, His Flesh and Blood by which we are saved. Without Mary there would be no human Christ and therefore no Redemption. Hence she really is the Co-Redeemer. But this does not mean she saved herself. That would be impossible. As St Irenaeus (130-202 AD) put it, “by yielding obedience, [Mary] became cause of salvation, both to herself and the whole human race” (Adversus Haereses, III,22,4). This is the teaching of the Catholic Church. Let us always try and imitate Our Lady in offering up our sufferings for the salvation of souls.

Fr Paul Gillham, IC

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Newsletter for Sunday 25 April 2021

23 Apr

The Good Shepherd Will Lead You to Eternal Life

This Sunday, the Fourth of Easter is also known as Good Shepherd Sunday and is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. JESUS tells us in today’s Gospel that He is the Good Shepherd Who knows His sheep and promises to lead them to eternal life so long as they remain safe in His care. Each member of the flock has free will and is capable of wandering away from Him and even rejecting Him. The world, the flesh and the devil are always trying to confuse us and lead us away from Our Lord. But if we pray and try to resist temptation He will guide us safely home. The Apostles risked their lives to preach this truth and in today’s First Reading they boldly proclaim that JESUS is the only Name under which we can be saved (Acts 4:12) – perhaps not very politically correct these days when it is claimed all religions are equally good, but the Apostles preached the truth.

Satan has attacked many noble institutions to try and bring about our downfall. One of his targets in this has been the priesthood. We are all aware of the many scandals of recent decades involving either sex, money or power. Our Lord in today’s Gospel speaks of the hired hands (a reference to the clergy), who when danger comes, either run away or behave like wolves in disguise. God will hold them accountable for their deeds, and for either abandoning their flocks or for deceiving the faithful by preaching false or compromised doctrines.

Vocations have also been under attack where Satan tries to prevent people from hearing and answering God’s call. One reason for the shortage of priests and religious is that many whom God calls simply don’t hear it because they are distracted by the attractions of this world, and with society having become so secular many are not interested in responding. The trap is that people can become so self-absorbed as to forget completely that we have to prepare now for eternity. It is for this reason the Church has an annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations so that the Church will have enough true shepherds to guide us, and all will realise they will only be truly happy when they answer the call of Our Lord. We are all members of Christ’s flock and whatever state of life He calls us to – priesthood, religious, married or single, we have an important contribution to make to the life of the Church and in the saving of souls.

JESUS is the Good Shepherd Who leads His sheep to safe pasture. Young people are attracted to the Church because they are seeking truth and the meaning of life, and JESUS and the Catholic Church which He founded is that truth. Let us pray ever more fervently for vocations to the priesthood and for male and female religious (the Prayer for Vocations is on the back of this newsletter) who will continue to feed the flock with the beauty of Christ’s truth. There is no other truth. JESUS said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Please also remember to pray for your priests that we be faithful servants of Our Lord and feed the flock entrusted to our care with that truth that leads to eternal life.

Fr Paul Gillham, IC

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Newsletter for Sunday 18 April 2021

16 Apr

Pope St Pius X and First Holy Communion

Last Tuesday I was given a relic of Pope St Pius X (1835-1914), and so I took this as a providential sign that I should write something about this great Pope as we begin our First Holy Communion Masses, because it was St Pius X who granted permission for children to receive Holy Communion at a young age. Prior to his becoming Pope, children had to wait until they were eleven or twelve to receive for the first time. In 1910 Pope Pius decreed that as soon as children had reached the age of reason (usually around seven but in some instances even younger) and could understand that the Host was no ordinary bread and that they were truly receiving JESUS, they could come to the altar rail.

One day a mother came to speak with the Pope and her very small son sat in the corner out of the way. And when the Pope had finished speaking with the mother, he called the boy over to meet him. Pope Pius asked the mother, “How old is your child?” “He’s just four” she replied, “but I hope in a couple of years time he will make his First Communion.” The Pope looked down at the child and asked him, “What does one receive in Holy Communion?” “JESUS Christ” the boy answered. “And who is JESUS Christ?” continued the Pope. “Our dear God” was the answer. The boy had passed the test with flying colours, and so the Pope said to his mother, “Bring your child to my Mass tomorrow morning, and I myself will give him his First Holy Communion.”

St Pius X wrote his own catechism and in it he posed the question, “Why do you believe that in the Eucharist JESUS Christ is really present?” And his answer was, “I believe that in the Eucharist JESUS Christ is really present, because He Himself has said it and holy Church teaches it” (Catechism of St Pius X). And when did JESUS say it? He said it when He said, “I am the living bread which came down from Heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live for ever. The bread that I will give is My flesh for the life of the world” (John 6:51). In other words, faith teaches us this truth. Our faith is so precious and so we must guard it and act as if we believe it. This is why the Church surrounds the Holy Eucharist with such care and reverence. It is why we have sanctuary lamps, silk curtains in our tabernacles and why we carefully guard the tabernacle key. It is why we genuflect and use incense before the Blessed Sacrament. The Church knows that these things that we can see and touch help safeguard our faith.

So let us always be careful to make our genuflections real acts of faith and love in Our Lord’s Real Presence and teach our children to do the same. If they see you do it, you will be strengthening their faith. Let us therefore keep all our children making their First Holy Communion over the next few weeks and their families in our prayers. May they always preserve their childlike faith in Our Lord’s Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist.

Fr Paul Gillham, IC

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Newsletter for Sunday 11 April 2021

9 Apr

The Divine Mercy Message and Devotion

This Second Sunday of Easter is call Divine Mercy Sunday.

The message of The Divine Mercy is simple. It is that God loves us – all of us. And He wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sin, so that we will call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others. Thus, all will come to share His joy.

The Divine Mercy message is one we can call to mind simply by remembering ABC:

A- Ask for His Mercy. God wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and upon the whole world.

B- Be merciful. God want us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us.

C- Completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that all the graces of His mercy can only be received by our trust. The more we open the door of our hearts and lives to Him with trust, the more we can receive and share.

This message and devotion to Jesus as The Divine Mercy is based on the writings of St Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun who, in obedience to her spiritual director, wrote a diary of about 600 pages recording the revelations she received about God’s mercy. Even before her death in 1938, the devotion to The Divine Mercy had begun to spread.

Bishop Karol Wojtyla – later to become the much loved Pope St John-Paul II – was a great devotee and promoted this great devotion to God’s Merciful Love. He extended this great devotion to the Universal Church on 30th April 2000 to be kept every year on the 2nd Sunday of Easter – today.

On this Sunday, our Lord promised extraordinary graces of Divine Mercy to all those who receive Holy Communion on Divine Mercy Sunday in a State of Grace ie: having made a good Confession (Confession is available before and after Mass this weekend) and trusting in God’s merciful love. This is a grace for yourself, a promise from Our Lord to devout communicants on this Mercy Sunday, amounting to a complete renewal of baptismal grace in the soul, freed from both spiritual and temporal punishments, the ‘slate wiped clean’.

What a gift beyond words!! Mercy in truth and deed promised by our risen, loving Lord.

May we all, from our hearts, pray the Divine Mercy Prayer more fervently every day:

‘Jesus, I trust in you.’

Fr David Jones OLW

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