Newsletter for Sunday 13 September 2020

11 Sep

Forgiving Seventy-Seven Times

It is not easy to forgive those who have hurt us. We can hold grudges, we want revenge, we want to get even. But Our Lord today, in response to Peter’s question as to how many times we should forgive, says no, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. In other words, always! St Stephen, the first martyr for the Faith gave us a wonderful example of forgiveness. As he was about to be stoned to death he said, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60).

We have to forgive others because God forgives us. Think of what we say in the Our Father: “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Can we expect God to forgive us when we refuse to forgive our neighbour? And if it is true that our neighbour doesn’t deserve our pardon, it will be even more true that we do not deserve the pardon of God. So we have to try to forgive others even if it is difficult. The Parable in today’s Gospel of the Unmerciful Servant reminds us that if we insist on strict justice with others who have offended us, God will hold us fully liable for the offenses we have committed against His infinite Majesty. The master said to the wicked servant, “I cancelled all that debt of yours when you appealed to me. Were you not bound, then, to have pity on your fellow servant just as I had pity on you?” (Matthew 18:32-33).

During the Reformation in this country, the Jesuit priest and martyr St Edmund Campion (1540-1581) was betrayed and arrested. He was visited in prison by his betrayer, George Eliot, a Catholic, who was being prosecuted for murder and who saw a chance to save himself. Fr Campion not only forgave him, but he also urged him to leave England, because he might be in danger himself, and gave him a letter of safe-conduct to a Catholic nobleman in Germany.

The saints forgave because they knew they were sinners themselves and needed forgiveness. Forgiveness is the key to our inner freedom and peace. Once we have experienced that joy of being forgiven, we can open ourselves to forgive others. If you are holding a grudge, pray for that person’s well-being because then you have already begun to forgive them. You may choose to keep a distance from them, but it’s ok to pray for our enemies from a safe distance!

Fr Paul Gillham, IC

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Newsletter for Sunday 6 September 2020

6 Sep

Inspiration from Our Lady

September is the month dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows. This September is an especially fitting time for us to find strength in this devotion, as we adjust to challenges with work and school, societal upheaval, and an unusually tempestuous weather. Our masked world can feel surreal, as we stay at least two metres apart from our each other. Our Lady offers us, as always, the best possible consolation.

Immediately following August’s devotion to the Immaculate Heart, and preceding October’s devotion to Our Lady of the RosarySeptember is an ideal time to strengthen our connection to Mary. So, what better moment is there to immerse ourselves in her sorrows? The love and compassion we feel as we meditate upon her sorrows allows us to forget or transcend our own for a time. Further, we are reminded that our Mother truly understands us and is with us with her love and prayer.

In the words of Pope St. John Paul II, “Turn your eyes incessantly to the Blessed Virgin; she, who is the Mother of Sorrows and also the Mother of Consolation, can understand you completely and help you. Looking to her, praying to her, you will obtain that your tedium will become serenity, your anguish change into hope, and your grief into love.” This month let’s unite our sorrows to Mary’s. Before we know it, we’ll actually be more joyful!

For example, we all have problems or difficulties we face and cope with, let’s offer them up this month for the reparation of Mary’s Immaculate Heart. In this month of Mary’s Sorrows, dwell less on your own troubles and cultivate joy just by thinking of the wonderful Blessed Mother we have! Feeling low? Say a Hail Mary on the spot. Offer to carry someone’s cross a bit, like Simon of Cyrene. You could send a card, closely listen when someone wants to talk about a worry, a grief or a pain. Offer to pray or cook someone a meal that tastes so good they forget their troubles! Now that’s real ‘comfort food’.

Have you heard of the Seven Sorrows Rosary? The Seven Sorrows devotion involves praying seven Hail Marys a day, each one while meditating on one of Our Lady’s seven sorrows, which are:

  • The prophecy of Simeon. 
  • The flight into Egypt.
  • The loss of the Child Jesus in the temple.
  • The meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way of the Cross.
  • The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus. 
  • The taking down of the Body of Jesus from the Cross and preparation for burial. 
  • The burial of Jesus.

And the Seven Sorrows Rosary involves dwelling upon each of the seven sorrows as you would one of the mysteries of the Rosary, with seven Hail Marys instead of a decade. Begin each sorrow with an Our Father. 

One practice I love, is singing hymns to Mary, Marian hymns, when around the house, in the garden or the shower! Washing the dishes or hoovering up. While driving or just humming in my head, songs, and words of devotion to Our Blessed Lady. Don’t worry if you’re a bit out of tune or claim you can’t sing, by the time your words reach heaven they will sound perfect and lifted your soul!                                                                                                         

Fr David Jones, OLW

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Newsletter for Sunday 30 August 2020

28 Aug

The Value of Our Crosses

In the lives of us all there is a cross of some description, and Our Lord tells us in today’s Gospel that “If anyone wants to be a follower of Mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). And although not included in today’s readings, St Paul wrote, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His Body, that is, the Church” (Colossians 1:24). What does he mean?

When Our Lord was on the cross He suffered in the body He had taken from His Mother, Mary. But St Paul in Colossians is referring to the Mystical Body of Christ which is the Church. In other words, although Our Lord is now glorified in Heaven and the sufferings of His physical body are ended, He continues to suffer today in the members of His Mystical Body. That’s us! Christ’s Passion is still going on in the world today. Just think of all the places where Christians are persecuted throughout the world. A priest once said to a sick woman in hospital, “Do you understand that Christ has asked for your human nature? That He is saying to you ‘I cannot suffer again in this human nature which I took from Mary, because it is now glorified. But there are sinners who have to be redeemed. The work of the cross has to go on. So will you give Me your human nature so that I can suffer in you?’” The woman replied that she had never thought of it like that before.

We can all help continue the redemptive work of Christ by bearing the trials of life patiently. So if you are suffering right now, Our Lord is using you to help others. God only knows we have to save the Church and the world from the grave crisis they are in. There are bishops and priests who need to be saved, politicians, all the lapsed, the atheists and all those who persecute Christ. By offering up our sufferings in union with His we can help achieve this. In August 1917 Our Lady of Fatima said, “Pray much and make sacrifices for sinners, for many souls go to Hell because there is no one to make sacrifices for them.” This is the mission of the Church – to save souls. Never underestimate the value of your sufferings and trials.

Fr Paul Gillham, IC

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Newsletter for Sunday 23 August 2020

21 Aug

The Gift of the Papacy

This Sunday’s Gospel gives us the famous account of Our Lord conferring the Keys of the Kingdom on Peter and changing his name from Simon to Peter, the rock upon which He would build His Church. Peter had professed his faith in the divinity of JESUS who then said to him, “You are Peter and on this rock I will build My Church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in Heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in Heaven” (Matthew 16: 18-19). Our Lord had marked Simon out for this special mission which is why he changed his name from Simon to Peter.  Christ will always be the Head of the Church, but after the Ascension Peter was to be the visible Head of the Church on earth. Peter, or Cephas in Aramaic, means ‘rock’ and so Our Lord is making Peter the foundation or the rock of the Church. He will keep the Church together and make it endure. We should not assume that this power was given to Peter only because he was not called Simon then. It is passed on to all his successors. As Venerable Fulton Sheen once said, “Pius, Leo and Benedict all die, but Peter lives on until the consummation of the world.”

The First Vatican Council in 1870 infallibly defined that:

  • St Peter was appointed by Christ to be the visible Head of the Church;
  • He received from Christ supreme authority to teach and govern the whole Church;
  • Peter has a perpetual line of successors in the Primacy;
  • His successors are the Roman Pontiffs or the Popes.

The Primacy of the Pope means he has real power and authority to rule the Church and we believe that under very strict conditions he is infallible, when he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church. It does not mean the Pope can do no wrong or that he can never be mistaken, even in religious matters. It means that when he solemnly defines a doctrine of faith or morals binding on the whole Church, God protects him from error. Neither can the Pope invent a new doctrine because God does not change and Divine Revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle. The Pope is the servant of the truth and the guardian of the Deposit of Faith. He cannot contradict what has always been taught by the Church down the centuries.

The Papacy is a great gift to the Church. As Catholics we know that when the Church has given a solemn and definitive answer to a question the teaching can never change and the goal posts are not going to be moved in the future.  This is what Our Lord intended and why He founded His Church on Peter the rock. The Pope is the test of the true Church. “Where Peter is, there is the Church” said St Ambrose in the Fourth Century.

Fr Paul Gillham, IC

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Newsletter for Sunday 16 August 2020

14 Aug

Our Mother Mary’s Love for Us

August is the month dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Maryand this August is an especially fitting time for us to find strength in this devotion, as we handle the constraints and stresses stemming from Covid-19 health concerns, social distancing, and economic worries.

Many of us are, or know, someone who has been personally impacted by the coronavirus. Even as our church has re-opened, we have had to reduce the number of pews in use, cut back on the number of Masses, coped with sanitising everything and navigate postponements of cherished events. It can be surreal out there, in a masked world where friends and strangers alike are trying to stay at least two metres apart.

So, what better time is there to run to our spiritual mother? We should never keep our distance from her and are always safe in her arms. Our Lady of Fatima famously said, “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.” She also said, “Don’t lose heart … My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.” We can put our anxieties aside by resting in Mary’s Immaculate Heart.

The lovely Memorare prayer reminds us: “Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto you, O Virgins of Virgins, Our Mother.”

We are almost halfway through the month, and this weekend we celebrate Our Blessed Lady’s Assumption into Heaven. This great Solemnity commemorates the death of the Blessed Virgin (the Dormition, or falling asleep, as it is known in the Eastern Church) and celebrates the Tradition and Doctrine that her body did not suffer decay but that she was raised up, body and soul, into Heaven to be with her Son, our Saviour, Jesus. Mother and Son reunited.

Do you sometime worry about your children, young and the ‘grown up ones’? Whether they will keep the faith or return to it, if they have wandered away? Do you worry about your parents as they all grow older, or beloved relatives, or friends, who have no faith in Christ or who don’t want to know Him? What can you do? How should you pray in love for them? There is a lovely quote by Fr Gobbi, a Marian priest, that advises, ‘every time you pray the Rosary (and remember Our Lady asks us all to do that), say, “I bind ………. (put in the name/s)to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” He taught that ‘Our Lady will see to their souls.’ She’ll look after them. With that spirit of trust in Blessed Mother Mary’s maternal love, let us offer Rosaries for all whom we love. Especially in this month of her Immaculate Heart.

  Mother Immaculate pray for us and those we love.

Fr David Jones, OLW

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