Newsletter for Sunday 19th September

17 Sep

The Fast Track to True Success

The lesson Jesus has been teaching by His example since the day of His birth, He now teaches with words, as we hear in our Gospel Reading this week. And this lesson is a big one: The Nature of True Success.

When Jesus and His apostles sit down to relax in Capernaum after a day of walking the hot, dusty roads of Galilee, He knows exactly what they have been talking about – success, glory, greatness. But the apostles are too embarrassed to admit it. But our Lord’s response is surprising. He doesn’t tell them that they shouldn’t desire to excel, to achieve, to do great things. He doesn’t condemn that very normal impulse – because He knows that achieving things, making a difference in the world, is a basic need felt by every human heart. This is one of the purposes of our lives: being a sign of God’s goodness by making a positive difference in the world. So, Jesus doesn’t scold them for wanting to do something great. Instead, He tells them what true greatness really is.

The great task for every Christian isn’t to achieve fame and fortune, popularity, power, and worldly success. Rather, it’s the same task that Christ himself undertook: to serve others, to make others happy, to reach out to those who are weak and in need. Greatness in Christ’s Kingdom is equated with humility, an attitude of the heart that puts the good of others ahead of one’s own preferences: it’s self-giving, NOT self-getting. 

He doesn’t say to His apostles, “Don’t strive to achieve great things,” but He does point out where true, lasting, fulfilling greatness lies – in loving one’s neighbour as He has loved them. Jesus is the Servant-Lord; we, His faithful disciples, are called to follow in those demanding footsteps, learners following Our Lord’s example.

Most of us are able to see the beauty of humility and humble service to others; we can understand intuitively why this is the mark of True Success. But putting this idea into practice is not so easy. We are willing to commit “random acts of kindness” now and then, because they make us feel good. But real progress requires a deeper commitment.

The best place to implement this plan for True Success is at home. It is in our closest relationships, those of our family, that our natural selfishness tends to come out most easily. And so, to transform those tendencies, to purify them and grow in the virtue of humility, we need to attack them there. Humbly serving our spouse, our siblings, our parents – this is true Christ-like virtue, this is where we forge a Christ-like heart.

Our family members know us well; they are familiar with our tantrums and egocentric habits. As a result, they aren’t usually impressed by an extra act of kindness, service, or self-control, by an extra effort to be patient or to hold our tongue. That’s why the home is the best place to grow in humility and pursue True Success. Serving others when there is no reward or recognition involved is the best way to follow Christ’s example and purify our hearts – after all, His service to others got Him crucified!

If we gradually learn to think about others before ourselves inside the four walls of our home, it will become second nature to do so outside. And when that happens, we will be on the ‘Fast Track to True Christ Like Success.’ True disciples of our Lord, reflecting Him.

Fr David Jones OLW

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Newsletter for Sunday 12 September 2021

10 Sep

The Transforming Power of the Cross

JESUS today predicts His Passion, Death and Resurrection and foretells that the Son of Man is destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected, be put to death and then after three days rise again (Mark 8:27-35). Through these historical events which happened two thousand years ago, Christ has redeemed us. JESUS suffered and died so that all those who belong to Him could live for ever. By our sins we deserve only eternal death, but by His becoming man and dying on the Cross, JESUS Who is true God and true man expiated all of our sins and merited redemption and eternal life for us. These events happened only once in the history of mankind, but Our Lord having acquired these merits for us, needed them to be applied throughout history and to us now in 2021. So how does He do this?

The merits Christ won on Calvary to save us or to redeem us are applied to us principally through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Remember that the Mass is the making present on the altar here and now, in our day and in our time, that same sacrifice which Christ offered once to the Father on Mount Calvary two thousand years ago. As we have said the merits of Christ have to be applied to all human beings in all times and in all places – men, women and children of all nationalities and races, rich and poor alike. So when we participate in Mass devoutly, those merits are applied to our souls to heal us of the wounds of sin. 

Our Lord also tells us in today’s Gospel that, “If anyone wishes to be a follower of Mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” We can do this by uniting our trials and sufferings, our pains, annoyances and inconveniences with His sufferings. Although suffering was not part of God’s original plan for humanity, it is the reality we live in due to Original Sin. But our sufferings, whether they be big or small, through Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection can be transformed into something of great value. He has given suffering new meaning, and because we are baptised, by uniting our sufferings with His sufferings we acquire merit which in the next life will be transformed into glory. This is the great revolution of Christianity, that our sufferings and pains can be transformed into something great by uniting them to the sufferings of Christ. And we can offer all these things to God particularly at the Offertory of the Mass. As the priest offers the host to God the Father on the paten, at the same time offer your own crosses and trials. Then at the Consecration, as the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of JESUS, He will offer them all in union with His own sufferings to the Father in atonement for our sins, and they will be transformed into something beyond price.

Our Lady was the greatest exemplar of this. On Wednesday we celebrate the memoria of Our Lady of Sorrows. As she stood at the foot of the Cross she shared in His sufferings and united them with her own and presented them to the Father. Let us ask her to teach us to do the same. 

Fr Paul Gillham, IC

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Newsletter for Sunday 5 September 2021

3 Sep

Our Lady in September

September is the month devoted to the Seven Sorrows of Mary, Mary who always leads us to her Son, and we can make it a prayerful reparation to our Blessed Mother’s Sorrowful Heart.
This month is filled with beautiful feast days dedicated to Our Lady and to great saints who shaped their own lives after her example. There is nothing like a birthday party to bring some happiness and fun into a week though! How much more should we get from the birthday of our Heavenly Mother, whose “yes” brought us the birth of our Saviour?

Just as school and work are getting back into routine after the summer hols, this birthday celebration is exactly what we need to keep a spirit of joy, as we are called to work with renewed vigour, continuing to support, and take care of each other as the Pandemic hang around us. I remember a Mum who used to have a birthday cake for Mary on 8th September, and we’d sing happy birthday or perhaps a Marian song like ‘Immaculate Mary’ to celebrate. Without God’s wonderful providence in the birth of Mary, the mother of our Saviour, we would be a people of no hope, no forgiveness, and no heaven. Let’s give thanks and celebrate her birthday! Rosary, Mass and, yes, birthday cake and song!

Come 15th September, the day after the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (14th) when the Church marks the finding of the true cross by St Helena and the dedication of churches on the sites of Christ’s death and burial, we prayerfully honour the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. It’s a day for us to journey with Mary who so lovingly and sorrowfully journeyed the Way of the Cross with her Son. Remembering Mary’s seven sorrows means remembering how deeply Our Blessed Mother can understand and assist us during our sorrows and troubles too. It’s also an important day for each of us to seek to console her. One way to do that is to pray the Seven Sorrows devotion on our rosaries.

Not sure how to do that? Two choices: Come to Rosary in church on Wednesday 15th at 6 pm and join with others or just google and pray the beads, sharing and praying with Our Blessed Lady.

Prayer for us Holy Mother of God that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Fr David Jones, OLW

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Newsletter for Sunday 29 August 2021

27 Aug

Our Lady, Destroyer of All Heresies

To conclude the month of August, the month of the Assumption of Our Lady, I would like to meditate briefly on one her titles: ‘Destroyer of all Heresies’. Heresy is a false belief and it’s a title of Our Lady we don’t hear much these days, but it is very relevant as there are many challenges to the Faith and there is much confusion about what we believe, even within the Church.

The Church has always given Our Lady the title ‘Destroyer of all Heresies’ because we know from the very beginning when Satan deceived our first parents and they committed the first sin, he would wait for Our Lady’s heel to crush him and his seed (Genesis 3:15). Among those seeds are the lies of heresy as he is the Father of Lies.

There were many heresies in the early centuries of the Church and many a battle was fought to preserve the true doctrine of Christ and of the Catholic Church which He founded. One example over which there was much controversy we say every Sunday in the Nicene Creed which dates from 325 AD: “Begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father”. This means JESUS is eternal and of the same substance as God the Father and is equal to God the Father. In the fourth century this truth was under attack when many people were saying JESUS is inferior to the Father, that He is not eternal, that He is not consubstantial with the Father and therefore not fully God. This teaching about Who Christ is is very important because it affects the way we relate to God, how we relate to others and even the way society is, as it did for centuries in Christendom in which Christ truly reigned as King. Doctrine has an impact. St Paul in his letter to the Galatians put it like this: “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).

But how does Our Lady destroy heresies? After all, she never preached a sermon and she never excommunicated anyone! Our Lady is Destroyer of Heresies primarily because of who she is. Who Mary is guards the truth about God and humanity. For example, at the Council of Ephesus in 431 Mary was solemnly declared to be the Mother of God or ‘Theotokos’, again defending the divinity of Christ which was under attack by the Arian heretics. Then in the seventh century there was a decree issued to destroy all images and icons because the Scriptures say we must not make any graven images. But St John Damascene (675-749) looked to the example of Our Lady and that the Word had become flesh in her “and we saw His glory” (John 1:14). With God having taken on human flesh and become man, matter was now holy and so we could depict the divine in sacred art.

Mary still teaches us truths today. When the family is under attack she teaches us with Our Lord and St Joseph the importance of the natural family. Seeing the crib at Christmas reminds us that our world is founded on the family. Then in the area of human life, Mary carried Our Lord in her womb to her cousin St Elizabeth where St John the Baptist ‘leapt for joy’ and was filled with the Holy Spirit in the womb of his mother – an embryo sanctified by an embryo. Surely this teaches us the dignity of every unborn child. Mary destroys heresies!

On the front page of this newsletter Mary is depicted beating down a demon with a club and protecting a little child from his poisonous lies. Satan is trying to damn us all through the heresies he spews forth into the world. Mary our mother and immaculate Queen will protect us her children from his evil attacks and she will crush his head. Let us invoke her now: “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”

Fr Paul Gillham, IC

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Newsletter for Sunday 22 August 2021

20 Aug

Mary, Queen who will Crush the Head of the Serpent

Today is the octave day of the Assumption and were it not a Sunday we would be celebrating the feast of the Queenship of Our Lady which is actually the completion of her bodily Assumption into Heaven. On the day of her Assumption, Mary our Mother was solemnly crowned by Christ and received by the whole court of Heaven as Queen. And this is not some sentimental thing – it is scriptural. In the reading from Chapter 12 of the Apocalypse we heard in last weekend’s Mass for the Assumption the following was proclaimed:

“Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman, adorned with the sun, standing on the moon, and with the twelve stars on her head for a crown.”

The woman is clearly Mary and she is wearing a crown. Just as JESUS is King and Messiah of the royal house of David, so Mary is Queen (Luke 1:32-33). And this is very Jewish because in ancient Israel the queen was not the king’s wife but his mother, and she was second in rank only to the king himself. In other words, it was the queen mother who reigned alongside the king. We see this in the story of King Solomon (1 Kings 2:19-20), where Solomon rises to meet his mother Bathsheba, bows to her and has a throne brought for her (not his wife) and she sits on his right, meaning she has a share in his authority, and he granted her every request. So Christ the King and Prince of Peace has placed His own Mother upon a heavenly throne, and her intercession is omnipotent – Our Lord can refuse His Mother nothing. And where Christ is King by right and by conquest, Mary is Queen by participating by grace and by participation in that conquest. “The Almighty has done great things for me and holy is His name” (Luke 1:49).

So powerful is Mary that even the demons fear her and tremble at her name. This was foretold in the book of Genesis when God said to the serpent after the Fall of Adam and Eve, “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel” (3:15). This is an ongoing battle until the end of time between the serpent’s seed and the offspring of the woman – in other words between Mary and Satan and it will only increase in intensity as the years go by. This is becoming more evident by the day as things in the world become darker and darker with its false ideologies. Our Lady of Fatima foretold this. Sister Lucia, one of the seers of Fatima to whom Our Lady appeared and who became a Carmelite nun said in 1957, “The most holy Virgin has told me that the devil is about to engage in a decisive battle against the Virgin.” In other words the devil wants to delay and even thwart the promised triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The triumph of the Immaculate Heart is the promise of peace under the reign of Christ the King or the restoration of what was once known as ‘Christendom’. The triumph of Mary’s Immaculate Heart is the triumph of Christ the King. Christ must reign in the minds and hearts of the whole of humanity including governments. We pray for it every time we say the Our Father: “Thy kingdom come”. And this will come through the intercession and power of Mary. As the great St Louis de Montfort (1673-1716) once put it; “It was through the most holy Virgin that JESUS came into the world, and it is only through the Virgin that He has to reign in this world”. So let us all take up the most powerful weapon of the holy Rosary and recite it daily to hasten the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Satan knows his days are numbered as he waits for the heel of the Virgin Queen to come down and crush his head. To be crushed by the heel of the humble Virgin of Nazareth, a mere human being, will be far more humiliating for the pride filled Satan than if God were to do it Himself.

Fr Paul Gillham, IC

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