Newsletter for Sunday 18 October 2020

16 Oct

‘Give to Caesar What is Caesar’s & to God What is God’s’

The Pharisees in today’s Gospel (Matthew 22:15-21) try and catch JESUS out with a question about whether it is lawful paying taxes to Caesar. And Our Lord responds by taking a coin with Caesar’s head on it saying, “Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”

Our Lord is teaching here that we should show respect to the secular authorities who govern us. We should pay our taxes, because we receive many benefits from the State, such as public services, health care etc, and we must observe the laws of the land provided they are not sinful or contrary to the Law of God. If they are against the Law of God they do not bind us, because there can be no real law against that of God Who created us. So in this sense we give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, but we must also give to God what belongs to Him by worshipping Him and obeying His Law. But this is not to say the two (Caesar and God) are equal. Far from it, for we must always put God first even if it means we will suffer for it.

St Thomas More (1478-1535), was Chancellor of England during the reign of King Henry VIII (1491-1547). Henry wanted to divorce Catherine of Aragon because she couldn’t give him a son and heir, but the Pope reaffirmed the divinely revealed truth that no power on earth can dissolve a valid marriage and therefore Catherine of Aragon was his lawful wife. Thomas More, being a lawyer was asked to defend Henry’s divorce but he would not. He made it clear that no king or government has authority over the Sacraments and that no king can make himself above God and the Church. He told Henry, “I am the King’s good servant, but God’s first.” Henry was furious and then claimed that he was head of the Church in England, and granted himself the annulment. Thomas was arrested and also imprisoned in the Tower of London. False charges were brought against him. He was tried in Westminster Hall and then condemned to death for high treason and beheaded.

The drama of the Gospel is being played out all around us today. As our once Christian society becomes more and more at odds with God’s Law, we may well have to suffer for being faithful. Heaven has given us specific spiritual practices for these times: frequent Confession, Holy Mass, the Rosary, reading the Bible, praying as a family (especially the Rosary), consecrating yourself to the Sacred Heart of JESUS and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. But let us have no fear, for God is always faithful to His promise, and that promise is a crown of everlasting heavenly glory.

Fr Paul Gillham, IC

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Newsletter for Sunday 11 October 2020

9 Oct

‘Wearing the Right Clothes’

The last three Sundays we have had some perhaps shocking parables about the Kingdom of Heaven. Heaven is on God’s terms and the question is, will we accept it or not? It is a decision upon which our eternal destiny depends.

Today’s Parable of the Wedding Feast (Matthew 22:1-14) gives us an image of God who calls all people to share a great feast with Him, but unfortunately He doesn’t get the response He is looking for. The banquet is ready, yet very few are actually interested in coming. Some it just doesn’t suit them, while others were downright wicked. Their hearts and minds have been darkened by sin. But Our Lord is very patient with us and He goes on calling us while we remain on this earth. Hell, symbolised here by darkness and the “weeping and grinding of teeth” exists because God respects our freedom to choose.

There will also be people who want to come in to the feast only on their own terms. They are symbolised by the man wearing the wrong clothes. “How did you get in here, my friend, without a wedding garment?” And he was subsequently thrown out because he wasn’t ‘wearing the right clothes’ meaning he wasn’t in a state of grace and he had no good works. We have to be prepared to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and if we’re wise we will be making those preparations now. Am I in a state of grace and striving to live my life in a way which is pleasing to God, or are worldly things more attractive and important? Do I give in easily to sinful desires? Am I acknowledging JESUS as Lord and following His example by living out my faith and doing good deeds in His Name? Or am I continually putting things off until next week, next month or next year?

Now is the time to act and become a saint. We should not think this is ridiculous because Our Lord told us we have to be perfect (Matthew 5:48). If it wasn’t attainable for us He would never have said it. Every opportunity we’re given in life to do good or help someone else is actually a gift and a blessing, because it allows us to continue working on our wedding garment, to grow in grace and merit. It is important to be in a state of grace, otherwise our good works have no supernatural value and they merit us nothing for Heaven. If we lose the state of grace, we should go to Confession as soon as possible. You need the ‘right clothes’ to get into Heaven and we can only put them on in this life. Confessions are every Saturday morning 10.30-11.30am or by appointment. Make sure your wardrobe is in order!

Fr Paul Gillham, IC

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Newsletter for Sunday 4 October 2020

2 Oct

The Miracle of the Rosary

Seventy-five years ago on 6th August 1945, when the nuclear bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in Japan, the whole city was destroyed and around 80,000 people were killed instantaneously by the blast. In the midst of this something truly miraculous happened. Eight Jesuits who were living less than a mile away from where the bomb dropped escaped virtually unscathed from the effects of the bomb. Their house remained standing, while all the buildings around were flattened. Fr Hubert Schiffer (1915-1982) one of the survivors, said, he had a few quite minor injuries, but nothing serious, and indeed later examinations by the American army doctors and scientists showed that neither he, nor any of his companions had suffered any ill-effects from the radiation or from the bomb. Fr Schiffer and his fellow Jesuits said, “that we survived because we were living the message of Our Lady of Fatima. We lived and prayed the Rosary daily in that home. Fr Schiffer was told his body would soon begin to deteriorate because of the radiation, but it never happened. Scientists examined the priests more than 200 times over the next 30 years, and no ill effects were ever found.

October is the month specially dedicated to the Holy Rosary and today is Rosary Sunday. We must never forget how much importance Heaven places on the Holy Rosary. Pope Leo XIII (1810-1903) said that “the origin of this prayer is divine and not human”, hence its power. Just as the Rosary and living the message of Fatima saved Fr Schiffer and his fellow Jesuits from physical harm and death, this is a sign that if we say the Rosary devoutly, it will save us from spiritual death, which of course is much worse. Satan is terrified of the Rosary because he has no weapon powerful enough to overcome it.

At Lourdes, Fatima, Beauraing and Banneux Our Lady carried the Rosary on her person. At Fatima she said, “I am the Lady of the Rosary.” At all the approved Marian apparitions, the Rosary always features big because it is the remedy for the ills of our world. When we pray it against the works of Satan, such as the destruction of marriage and the family, abortion, drug addiction, pornography, the occult, scandals and heresies in the Church, it changes things. It will protect you and your family and help you to arrive safely in Heaven. What a great gift God has given us in His Mother and in the Holy Rosary. Make the commitment today to say the daily Rosary, and if you already do so, seek to say it with ever greater devotion.

Fr Paul Gillham, IC

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Newsletter for Sunday 27 September 2020

25 Sep

‘The Little Flower’

This Thursday we celebrate the feast day of St Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897) or ‘The Little Flower’ as she is often called. Pope St Pius X said she was “the greatest saint of modern times.” She remains very popular today and I know many of you have a devotion to her. We have a statue of her in our church by the Altar of St Joseph.

In spite of her very short life she wasn’t always a saint. She was a precocious child who would have temper tantrums when she didn’t get her own way, but she had a profound conversion when she was just 13. She felt called to become a Carmelite nun, but she was too young and was told to ask again when she was 16. She asked the Bishop to let her enter when she was 15 but was still unsuccessful. Her father who believed in her vocation took her on a pilgrimage to Rome when she met Pope Leo XIII and asked him to allow her to enter Carmel at 15. As she knelt before the Pope he replied, “Go, go! You will enter if God wills it!” And God did will it because the Bishop then gave her permission to enter at 15 and she lived in the convent at Lisieux, where three of her older sisters were also nuns for nine years until her death from tuberculosis at the age of 24. She promised to spend her Heaven doing good on earth. After her death many miraculous cures happened through her intercession.

On the face of it she seemed very ordinary, so how did she become so famous? Before her death, because her holiness and humility were so evident, her Superior ordered her to write an autobiography detailing her spiritual life now known as “Story of a Soul”, a spiritual classic which I would recommend you read. Her “little way” teaches us to become holy through the ordinary things of life. We don’t have to do mighty deeds to be a saint – we can become holy by doing ordinary things with great love. She wrote, “I applied myself above all to practice quiet hidden little acts of virtue; thus I liked to fold the mantles forgotten by the Sisters, and sought a thousand opportunities of rendering them service.” She once said, “To pick up a pin for love can convert a soul.”

Thérèse suffered poor health all her life, but in spite of her frailty she spent many hours in the convent laundry. There was a particular Sister opposite her washing handkerchiefs who would always splash her with the dirty water, but Thérèse refrained from showing annoyance, and on the contrary made great efforts to welcome being splashed so as she would come joyfully “to the happy spot where such treasures were freely bestowed.” 

St Thérèse and her “little way” show us that true holiness is within the reach of all of us. She was canonised in 1925, and in 1997 Pope St John Paul II declared her to be a Doctor of the Church, a title given to only a few of the Church’s saints, thus making St Thérèse one of the true guides in the spiritual life for us all.

St Thérèse of Lisieux, pray for us.

Fr Paul Gillham, IC

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Newsletter for Sunday 20 September 2020

18 Sep

Envy

Today we hear Our Lord tell the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, (Matt 20:1-16) in which the workers fail to understand why those who worked just one hour received the same wages as those who had worked all day. In other words they were envious.

Envy is one of the Seven Deadly Sins – deadly because it can cause many other vices such as calumny, slander and even murder. Very often, due to Original Sin, we want what someone else has even though we don’t really need it. The example in today’s Gospel can be quite hard for us to accept because it does seem unfair that the workers who arrived for the last hour should get the same pay as those who had worked hard all day in the hot sun. And the landowner asked the question, “Why be envious because I am generous?” 

Basically God’s ways are not our ways. Sometimes we might think, “Why does God allow someone who doesn’t need the money to win the lottery even though I need it much more?” Perhaps God knows it wouldn’t be good for us and could cause us to lose our soul. “For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul?” (Mark 8:36). In the end we simply have to admit that God gives some people more goods than others and that this is in His Providence.

St John Vianney (1786-1859) said that whoever is envious is proud, because when we desire something God has given to someone else and not to us, we are saying we know better than God. So we have to try and remain humble seeking God’s glory and not our own. St John Vianney also suggests, “if we are tempted to thoughts of envy against our neighbour, far from letting him see it by our cold manner, we must go out of our way to be friendly and do him any service that lies in our power.” The words of Our Lord spring to mind, “Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). Desiring the things of this world can lead us into sin, so let us cultivate a desire for the things of Heaven, because this is the only thing that will bring us eternal joy.

Fr Paul Gillham, IC

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