THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD
12th May 2013
POPE FRANCIS ON THE MEANING OF THE ASCENSION
In the Creed we confess our faith in Christ who 'ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father'...What does this mean for our lives? While he 'ascends' to (Jerusalem), where his 'exodus' from this life will take place, Jesus already sees the goal, Heaven, but he knows well that the path that will take him back to the Father's glory passes through the Cross, through obedience to the divine plan of love for humanity...We also must be clear, in our Christian lives, that entering into God's glory demands daily fidelity to his will, even when it requires sacrifice, when it sometimes requires us to change our plans."
The Pope explained the Ascension in light of St Luke's Gospel, "Jesus led his disciples 'as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven'...This is the first important point: Jesus is the only and eternal Priest who, by his passion, has traversed death and the grave and is risen and ascended into Heaven. He is with God the Father, where he always intercedes in our favour. As St John affirms in his First Letter: He is our Advocate."
"How wonderful it is to hear this! When someone is called in front of a judge or goes to court, the first he does is look for a lawyer to defend him. We've got one who always defends us, who defends us from the devil's snares, defends us from ourselves, from our sins! Dear brothers and sisters, we have this Advocate. Let us not be afraid to go to him and ask forgiveness, to ask for blessing, to ask for mercy. He always forgives us. He is our Advocate. He defends us always. Never forget this!"
"Jesus' Ascension into Heaven thus allows us to know this reality that is so consoling on our journey: in Christ, true God and true man, our humanity has been brought to God. He opened the way. He is like the leader of a mountain climbing party that is roped together. He has reached the summit and pulls us to himself, leading us to God. If we entrust our lives to him, if we let ourselves be guided by him, we are certain of being in safe hands."
"St Luke mentions that the Apostles, after seeing Jesus ascend into Heaven, return to Jerusalem 'with great joy'. This seems a little strange to us. Usually, when we are separated trom our family members, from our triends, definitely, and especially when caused by death, we are naturally sad because... we can no longer enjoy...their presence. Instead, the Evangelist emphasizes the Apostles' profound joy. Why? Precisely because with the gaze of faith, they understand that, even if they are gone from view, Jesus remains always with them. He does not abandon them and, in the Father's glory, He sustains them, guides them, and intercedes for them."
The Evangelist also tells of the Ascension at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles "to underline that this event is like the link that connects and unites Jesus' earthly life to that of the Church." He also mentions that, after a cloud takes him trom the sight of the Apostles, they remain looking at the sky until two men dressed in white garments invite them not to stay fixed there, looking at the sky, but "to nourish their lives and witness with the certainty that Jesus will return in the same way they saw him ascend to Heaven. It is an invitation to step forth trom the contemplation of Jesus' Lordship and to receive from him the strength to carry forth and witness to the Gospel in their everyday lives: to contemplate and to act, 'ora et labora', St Benedict teaches, are both necessary in our Christian life."
"The Ascension doesn't indicate Jesus' absence, but rather it tells us that He is living among us in a new way. He is no longer in particular place in the world as He was before the Ascension. Now He is in the Lordship of God, present in every space and time, close to each of us. In our lives we are never alone: we have this Advocate who awaits us and defends us. We are never alone. The crucified and risen Lord guides us. With us there are many brothers and sisters who, in their family life and their work, in their problems and difficulties, in their joys and hopes, daily live the faith and bring, together with us, the Lordship of God's love to the world. In Jesus Christ, risen and ascended into Heaven, we have an Advocate."
Pope Francis' catechesis given at the General Audience in St Peter's Square on Wednesday 17th Apri/ 2013.
Eucharistic Adoration with Pope Francis
On Sunday 2nd June (Corpus Christi in this country), Pope Francis will be celebrating an hour of Eucharistic Adoration commencing at 17.00 Roman time. His Holiness has asked that all the Cathedrals around the world also hold an hour of Adoration synchronised with this celebration in Rome. However, the Holy Father would be very happy for every parish to join him "around Jesus alive in the Sacrament and in a spirit of communion with the Successor of Peter". Therefore, Archbishop Vincent has asked and encouraged you to celebrate an hour of Eucharistic Adoration on 2nd June at the same time, if at all possible, as the hour selected in Rome. The starting time for us would be 16:00. Please come on Sunday 2nd June, 4-5pm in church for Eucharistic Adoration at Saint Anselm & Saint Caecilia
Easter glory fill the sky! Alleluia!
Christ now lives, no more to die! Alleluia!
Darkness has been put to flight! Alleluia!
By the living Lord of Light! Alleluia!
(from the Easter Exultet)
Joy to you, O Queen of Heaven, Alleluia,
He whom you were meet to bear, Alleluia,
As He promised has arisen, Alleluia,
Pour for us to Him your prayer, Alleluia.
(the Church's ancient Easter anthem to Our Lady)
MUSIC FOR MAY 2013
Sunday 5th May
Ave Maria - Lindley
Flos Mariae - Manelli
12 noon Mass
Sunday 12th May
Ave Maris Stella - Monteverdi
O salutaris - Saint-Saens
12 noon Mass
Missa 'Qual donna' - Lassus
O Rex gloriae - Marenzio
Sunday 19th May
Alle-psallite - Anon.
Litany - Hurford
12 noon Mass
Mass in G - Schubert
Sunday 26th May
Stella splendens - anon.
Tantum ergo - Kodaly
12 noon Mass
Mass for 5 voices - Byrd
Duo seraphim - Handl
Let us pray for Francis, our Pope.
May the Lord protect him and grant him length of days. Amen.
May the Lord shield and deliver him from all harm. Amen.
May the Lord grant him happiness and peace all the days of his life. Amen.
Prayer for the Year of Faith 11th October 2012 - 24th November 2013
Let me see your face,
know your heart
and experience your love in my life.
Strengthen in me
the precious gift of faith.
I believe Lord;
help my unbelief.
V. The Angel of tbe Lord declared to Mary: R. And she conceived by the Holy Spirit.
V. Behold the handmaid of tbe Lord: R. Be it done to me according to your word.
V. And tbe Word was made flesh: R. And dwelt among us.
V. Pray for us O holy Mother of God. R. That we made be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray: Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord, your grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ, your Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by his passion and cross + be brought to tbe glory of his resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.
YEAR OF FAITH - 2012-13
Pope Benedict introduces the Year of Faith in his letter "Porta Fidei" (the door of faith). The following is a summary of the introduction. The 'door of faith' (Acts 14:27) is always open to us, offering to us the life of communion with God and offering entry into His Church when the Word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be transformed by grace. It begins with Baptism (cf. Romans 6:4); it is then that we can address God as Father. The end comes with the passage to eternal life.
Ever since the start of my ministry as the Successor of Peter, I have spoken of the need to rediscover the journey of faith. At the Mass inaugurating my pontificate, I said: 'The Church as a whole and all her pastors, like Christ, must lead people out of the desert towards the place of life'. However, because so many think that faith is self-evident and its meaning and values have little appeal, a profound crisis of faith has affected many people. We cannot accept that salt should become tasteless and the light be kept hidden (cf. Matthew 5: 13-16). We must rediscover a taste for feeding ourselves on the Word of God and on the Bread of Life. In light of all this, I have decided to announce a Year of Faith. It will begin on October 11 and will end on the Solemnity of Christ our King on 24th November 2013. The starting date of 11th October 2012 also marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This document was requested by the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in 1985 to serve the catechists. Moreover, it was produced in collaboration with all the bishops of the Catholic Church. Moreover, I have convoked for 12th October 2012 the General Assembly of Bishops to conversion and consider the theme, 'THE NEW EVANGELIZATION FOR THE TRANSMISSION OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH'. This will be a good opportunity to usher the whole Church into a time for rediscovery of the Faith. The renewal of the Church is also achieved through the witness offered by the lives of believers. Christians are called to radiate the word of truth. That requires conversion. Hence, the Year of Faith is a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, to conversion of life through the forgiveness of sins (cf. Acts 5:31). To the extent that he/she freely cooperates, ones thoughts and affections, mentality and conduct are slowly purified and transformed. It is the love of Christ that fills our hearts and impels us to evangelise. Through His love Jesus attracts to himself the people of every generation. Today, there is a need for stronger ecclesial commitment to the new evangelisation in order to rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith. Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy. It makes us fruitful and enables us to give life-bearing witness. Only through believing, then, does faith grow and become stronger. From 'Porta Fidei', by Pope Benedict XVI
GROWING IN FAITH
Our parishes + Our priests + Our place in the world
Archbishop Vincent Nichols is rolling out in every Parish his initiative called 'Growing in Faith'. He is asking for greater financial support for our parishes, our priests in every stage of life and catholic social action. The Archbishop is inviting every Catholic in the Diocese, through the Parish Priest, to respond. I invite you share in my commitment to this historic effort and join me in making it a great success. As Roman Catholics, we are called to embrace the challenge of meeting these needs; we are challenged to respond to the Lord's call to prepare the Church and Diocese for the coming decades-by supporting this special endeavour of our Archbishop. The Diocese's current financial situation is sound, but as we look to the future needs of the community, our collective finances will require continued growth of our resources throughout the Diocese. To date we have had great success in our parish. Our total now stands at over £180,000 from 12 generous encouraging gifts. This response is the result of some of our generous parishioners and the great work of our volunteer team. We will now be installing appropriate disabled facilities. All funds we retain locally over our initial goal of £160,000 will be used for the eventual reordering of our beautiful church. We would like to rectify the deficiencies of the current layout and bring unity to the Sanctuary area. The current altar is not well positioned and is too small. We hope also to redecorate the church and improve the flooring throughout the nave. This all depends on you! The volunteer team will be contacting you to consider supporting Growing in Faith. When a member of the parish family calls on you (on my behalf) please welcome them and say 'yes' to support of this important project for our parish and Diocese. In the meantime our Growing in Faith leadership team and I are available to answer any questions you may have. Please call the Presbytery on 020 7405 0376. Please continue to pray for the success of Growing in Faith in our parish. I am deeply appreciative of your support to date and grateful for your consideration of our Archbishop's request. Yours in Christ. Fr David Barnes. PP
It is no coincidence that the Pope organised a world wide gathering of Bishops in Rome during the YEAR OF FAITH to discuss the theme: 'The New Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Catholic Faith'. The Holy Father has placed the call to mission at the heart of the celebrations. We read: "Today as in the past he Jesus sends us through the highways of the world to proclaim his Gospel to all the peoples of the earth (cf. Mt 28:19). Through his love, Jesus Christ attracts to himself the people of every generation: in every age he convokes the Church, entrusting her 'with the proclamation of the Gospel by a mandate that is ever new. Today, too, there is a need for a stronger ecclesial commitment to new evangelisation in order to rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith. In rediscovering his love day by day, the missionary commitment of believers attains force and vigour that can never fade away." Porta fidei 7
One of the most effective ways of growing in faith is to joyfully share it! When the Pope uses the word 'new' in the extract from Porta Fidei here, he is not meaning that we need to learn and share a new Gospel message: The Gospel message of Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. What he is inviting every member of the Church to do is to seek new ways - means and methods - of sharing the eternal message of Jesus Christ. He is challenging each one of us to consider what new step we might take to respectfully make our faith visible and heard in our daily lives.
A small way you can do this is hy carrying the 'Faith Card' that has been distributed across England and Wales. The Pope also highlights that Christians in the early centuries were required to learn the creed from memory. It provides a summary of the reason for Christian hope: and during the YEAR OF FAITH we are invited to learn and study the creed afresh. Faith is not a private act. It is something that we profess as individuals and as a community, mindful that our witness could assist those who are not yet baptised and are sincerely searching for meaning and truth. There are a great many people searching in our countries and it is our duty to be credible witnesses to them.
The Holy Father's aim and hope is that through this YEAR OF FAITH we shall "rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith". HOW shall we respond in our parish?
- Each day prayers before the Blessed Sacrament "Lord increase our faith.."
- Six Monday evenings beginning Monday 14th January at 6.45pm we look at particular aspects of the Catholic Faith followed by an opportunity to question further so we can understand better. Each session has a DVD presentation.
- "Doorway to Faith," the red booklet, is promoted for daily use (available after Mass, £1 only). It has a daily reflection and prayer, and is a journey through the Catechism of the Catholic Church (the 20th anniversary of which we celebrate in this Year of Faith).
- Homilies will draw on the teaching of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), the 50th anniversary of which we celebrated on 11th October, the day Pope Benedict inaugurated the Year of Faith.
- Please think of other ways we as a parish might celebrate well this Year of Faith. Pope Benedict writes in his letter PORTA FIDEI (the Door of Faith): "The door of faith is always open to us.......To enter through that door is to set out on a journey that lasts a lifetime".
I encourage every member of our parish family to journey together through this Year of Faith, embracing all the opportunities, gifts and graces God offers us during this Year of Faith.
Fr David Barnes, PP
THE YEAR OF FAITH: useful web links
www.vatican.va/ archive/hist_councils / ii_vatican_council/ index.htm
www.vatican.va/archive/ccc/index.htm (Catechism of the Catholic Church)
PASTORAL LETTER FROM ARCHBISHOP VINCENT
My brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ
On this coming Thursday, 11th October, the Catholic Church throughout the world begins the YEAR OF FAITH. It is called for by Pope Benedict XVI and we respond to it generously.
The Holy Father tells us that his overall objective is that through this YEAR OF FAITH We may 'rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith' (Porta Fidei para 1).
In particular he hopes that we will come to a deeper understanding of the truths of our faith and a renewed relationship with Jesus, Our Lord.
This YEAR OF FAITH marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of thc Second Vatican Council and thc 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This great body of teaching guides and shapes our Year of Faith just as it shapes the life of the Church.
How are we going to make the best use of this moment? There are so many possibilities.
In our Diocese we shall follow four seasons in the course of the YEAR OF FAITH.
The first season, between now and Christmas, focuses on faith in God and in Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.
The second season, between Christmas and Easter, brings us to look again at the sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
During the third season, from Easter to Summer 2013, we look at the practice of faith in moral living and generous giving.
And finally, from September to November 2013 we ponder on the place of prayer and spirituality in our lives.
The YEAR OF FAITH opens with a Mass in Westminster Cathedral next Thursday at 5.30pm, to which all are invited. It will close on the Feast of Christ the King in November next year with a solemn profession of faith in each parish.
And all this so that we may rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for sharing our faith confidently with others.
Opportunities to follow and explore these themes will be offered in parish and school, to young people and families, to catechists and to us priests and deacons. I hope this YEAR OF FAITH will bring a spirit of renewal to us all.
The questions of faith are real in our world today. You may remember the marvellous opening ceremony of the Paralympic games in early September. Professor Stephen Hawking, speaking from his wheel-chair, said: 'Ever since the dawn of civilisation people have craved an understanding of the underlying order of the universe..... ..why it is as it is and why it exists at all.'
This question, and many others, team in modern minds. What does the gift of faith have to say?
We heard in the second reading today of 'God, for whom everything exists and through whom everything exists.' And we recall the words of St John that Jesus, the eternal Word of God made flesh, is the Word through whom the world is made. He is the pattern and principle of all things, the reason why the world exists at all. God speaks the Word and all things have life: in the beginning, now, and for all time beyond.
This is the beginning of the journey of faith, the first answer to the questions of our hearts.
The Second Reading goes much further. It speaks of God's purpose in sustaining all creation: it is that we should be made perfect. Our lives have purpose and a promise of fulfilment. This is achieved through Jesus, the leader who will take us to our salvation.
The journey of faith is a great adventure into meaning, into love, into the fullness of being, into happiness, into eternal life. The YEAR OF FAITH can enkindle in us again the joy and companionship of this adventure and help us to realise that we have so much to offer to our world today.
I invite you to take a full part in this YEAR OF FAITH, at home, in school and in your parish.
As Pope Benedict writes: 'May this YEAR OF FAITH make our relationship with Christ increasingly firm, since only in him is there the certitude for looking to the future and the guarantee of an authentic and lasting love.'
+ Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster
WE ARE CALLED TO A NEW LIFE-STYLE In the words of Pope Benedict XVI, "this invites contemporary society to a serious review of its life-style, which, in many parts of the world is prone to hedonism and consumerism; regardless of their harmful consequences.' This review of our 'life-style' challenges the tendency to reduce the person to his or her physical and biological components, to a commodity, an object to be bought and sold or plundered without reference to our spiritual and moral nature. It frees us from temptation to judge ourselves against an unrealistic ideal of the 'perfect body' or 'body image' so often promoted by commercial interests. Where there is a lack of respect for the right to life from conception to natural death, where human conception, gestation and birth are made artificial and human embryos are sacrificed to research, then the conscience of society loses its sensitivity to the ecology of the human person and, with it, the gift of the treasure of Creation itself.
DAY FOR LIFE PRAYER:
I thank you Lord for the precious gift of my body. Whatever its strengths or limitations; whatever it brings me in terms of joy or suffering, help me always to see it as your gift.
As I run the race of life, help me to have a healthy attitude to my body and a reverence for its part in my eternal future. Help me to give joy to you by treating my body and the body of others, with care and respect.
As I marvel at the wonder of all your Creation, may the whole human family work together to protect creation and especially the precious gift of human life, from conception to natural death.
Enable us by your grace to promote the well-being and dignity of every person, serving you and the Gospel of life in a spirit of generosity, faith and love, through Christ our Lord.
Prayer is a fragrant dew; but we must pray with a pure heart to feel this dew. There flows from prayer a delicious sweetness like the juice of very ripe grapes. Prayer disengages our soul from matter; it raises it on high, like the fire that inflates a balloon. The more we pray, the more we wish to pray. Like a fish which at first swims on the surface of the water, and afterwards plunges down, and is always going deeper, the soul plunges, dives, and loses itself in the sweetness of conversing with God. Time never seems long in prayer. I know not whether we can even wish for Heaven? Oh, yes! ...The fish swimming in a little rivulet is well off, because it is in its element; but it is still better in the sea. When we pray, we should open our heart to God, like a fish when it sees the wave coming. The good God has no need of us. He commands us to pray only because he wills our happiness, and our happiness can be found only in prayer. When He sees us coming, He bends His heart down very low towards His little creature, as a father bends down to listen to his little child when it speaks to him. Almighty and merciful God who didst bestow upon St John Mary wonderful pastoral zeal and a great fervour for prayer and penance, grant we beseech thee, that by his example and intercession we may be able to gain the souls of our brethren for Christ and with them attain everlasting glory, through the same Christ our Lord.
"We do not have to talk very much in order to pray well."
Curť of Ars - St John Mary Vianney.
I often forget what a privilege it is to be walking on such holy ground as we go about our daily lives in this area of London. Crossing the road by Holborn underground station or walking along High Holborn towards either Oxford Street or Chancery Lane, we need reminding that during the Reformation it was along this road that the Martyrs (priests and lay people) were dragged along on hurdles, to be executed at Tyburn. T.S.Eliot, the famous poet who lived in Bedford Place during the 1950's, wrote 'For wherever a saint has dwelt, wherever a martyr has given his blood for the blood of Christ, There is holy ground, and the sanctity shall not depart from it.'
Following our Centenary celebrations in 2009, Father Nicholas Schofield, the Archivist of the Archdiocese of Westminster was invited by Father David to give a talk to parishioners entitled Holborn - London's Via Sacra (The Way), regarding the Catholic history of the Parish. Father Nicholas spoke in particular about the Catholic safe houses used to shelter priests in the area during the time of the Reformation and of those Saints and Martyrs who lived in Holborn and were put to death outside their homes or at Tyburn, by being hanged, drawn and quartered.
The immense courage and heroism of those who bore witness to the Catholic faith here in Holborn and sacrificed their lives along with many other Saints and Martyrs at that time, helped to ensure we have the religious freedom to practise our faith openly, free from the fear of persecution.
Hugely impressed by Father Nicholas' talk, Father David approached me to ask whether the text could be made into a booklet which could be obtained by everyone in the parish and beyond. Now, with additional material and accompanying photographs and illustrations, the publication is available from the Repository at the back of the church or from the Sacristy, with proceeds helping towards the costs involved in the reordering of the Sanctuary.
The booklet reflects our unique history. It is important that this is celebrated and brought to our attention once more.
The Source of my Vocation by Blessed John Paul
I set off in search of the source of my vocation. It is beating there.... In the Upper Room in Jerusalem. I transport myself in thought to that memorable Thursday, when Christ, having loved His own to the end (cf. John 13:1) instituted the Apostles as priests of the New Covenant. I see Him bending down before each of us, successors of the Apostles, to wash our feet. I hear Him, as if He were speaking to me - to us - these words: "Do you realise what I have done for you? You call me 'Teacher' and 'Master', and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. I have given you an example to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do." (John 13: 12-16)
Together with Peter, Andrew, James and John let us continue to listen; "As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love! If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and remain in His love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you."John 15: 9-14)
Is not the mystery of our vocation contained in these sayings? These words of Christ, spoken at the hour for which He had come (cf. John 12: 27), are at the root of every vocation: those of the Apostles and their successors, but also everv other vocation, because , the Son wishes to be a friend to everyone: because He gave his life for all. Here we find what is most important, most valuable, and most sacred: the love of the Father and the love of Christ for us, His and our joy, and also our friendship and fidelity, which express themselves in the fulfilment of the commandments. Those words also contain the goal and meaning of our vocation:to "go and bear fruit that will last" (John 15: 16) From "Rise, Let us be on our way"
MARRIAGE - WHAT CAN I DO? Today we need to do all we can to cherish and foster marriage, and ensure that a true meaning of marriage is not lost for future genemtions. And we need to do this without losing pastoral support for those of same sex orientation. Archbishop Vincent Nichols.
WHAT CAN I DO? The Government needs to know your views.
1. Do write to your MP. MP for Anytown, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA, or find your MP's name from local information or via www.findyourmp.parliament.uk This is the most important action you can take.
Here are some points you can draw on in your letter: The law helps to shape and form social and cultural values. A change in the law would gradually and inevitably transform society's understanding of the purpose of marriage.
A change in the law which allowed same-sex marriage would:
- Change the meaning of marriage for everyone.
- Break the connection between marriage and child bearing;
- Disregard the fundamental complimentarity of male and female and its Creativity;
- Reduce the meaning of marriage solely to the commitment of the two people involved.
Further briefing is available on the Bishops' Conference website www.catholicnews.org.uk
2. You can also respond to the Consultation document - follow the links from "Government Consultation" at www.catholicnews.org.uk. The most important question in the Consultation is the first: "Do you agree or disagree with enabling all couples, regardless of their gender to have a civil marriage ceremony?" You do not need to answer all questions. Further detailed arguments about the policy will be found at www.catholicnews.org.uk
3. If you do nothing else. please sign the Coalition for Marriage Petition on-line via www.c4m.org.uk
Why should I get involved? Marriage is the one institution which exists to recognise and protect the creation and up-bringing of children, and research confirms that it provides the best circumstances in which children can be raised, it is vital for the future of any society, and that is why it always had special protection.
Is this legal change necessary? The Civil Partnerships Act 2004 already enables same-sex couples to enjoy all the legal and practical benefits of marriage such as inheritance, pension and next of kin rights. The changes proposed would not increase the legal protection for those in civil partnerships.
Does it matter, if only civil marriages are affected? The Church is opposing the Government's policy because it cares for the common good of society. Society should support the best means of raising the next generation. It's about what marriage means for all - it's not just what happens in Churches.
PLEASE THINK AND PRAY PLEASE ACT NOW SO THAT THE MEANING OF MARRIAGE IS PRESERVED FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS. If you would like to read or hear the Letter on Marriage or know more about the support available within the Catholic Church for marriage and for Catholics who are homosexual in their sexual orientation please visit www.catholicnews.org.uk
The Catholic Church's opposition to same sex "marriage" has been the subject of a lot of press coverage recently. It is important to understand the reasons why the church feels compelled to speak out on this issue. We do so not because we want to force our religious values on other people but because we believe that marriage is, at its very core, a natural reality. In this debate our starting point is not the Bible or the teachings of the Holy Father but the world and the natural Law.
Marriage has existed longer than recorded history and always and everywhere marriage has been intimately linked with the founding of a family. But because children deserve the protection of law as well as love and care of their parents civil authorities have legislated about marriage and when those laws are in keeping with the nature of marriage the Church has welcomed civil involvement in protecting this basic building block of human society. But when attempts are made to radically change the meaning of marriage so that it is no longer fundamentally linked to the founding of a family but is reduced to being simply a loving commitment between two people the Church cannot stay silent.
If a new definition of marriage is enshrined in law all government policy and legislation connected with marriage will be affected. It will alter what is taught about marriage in our schools and will likely lead to discrimination against individuals, faith groups and other organisations who cannot, in good conscience, act in a way that endorses the new definition.
So in coming out strongly in defence of marriage as a lifelong faithful bond between a man and a woman directed toward the good of the couple and the procreation and education of children the Church is not being bigoted, uncaring, or hard hearted. It is simply reminding everyone that marriage has a specific meaning which no one has authority to change. As our bishops have said in a recent briefing paper to Parliament,"Our Opposition to same sex marriage is not based in discrimination or prejudice; it is based in a positive effort to ensure that the unique social values currently served by marriage carry on being served by that institution in the future."
Mgr John Conneely
A PRAYER FOR VOCATIONS by Blessed Pope John Paul II
Lord Jesus, once you called the first disciples in order to make them fishers of men. Continue to let resound today, Your sweet invitation: "Come and follow me." Grant to young men and women the grace to respond to Your voice. Sustain our bishops, priests and consecrated souls in their apostolic work. Give perseverance to our seminarians and to all those living a life of total consecration to Your service. Enkindle in our communities a missionary zeal. Send Lord, workers into Your fields, and do not let mankind be lost because of a lack of pastors, Missionaries and people dedicated to the cause of the Gospel.
Mary Mother of the Church, Model of Vocations, Help us to say "Yes" to the Lord who calls each one of us, to play our part in His plan of Salvation. Amen.
PRAYER OF ST ANSELM Monk, Archbishop, Doctor of the Church
"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete"
My God, I pray that I may so know you and love you that I may rejoice in you. And if I may not do so fully in this life, let me go steadily on to the day when I come to that fullness. Let the knowledge of you increase in me here, and there let it come to its fullness. Let your love grow in me here, and there let it be fulfilled, so that here my joy may be in a great hope, and there in full reality.
Lord, you have commanded, or rather advised us, to ask by your Son, and you have promised that we shall receive "that our joy may full" (Jn: 16.24) That which you counsel through our "wonderful councellor" (Is: 9.5) is what I am asking for, Lord. Let me receive that which you promised through your truth, "that my joy may be full." God of truth, I ask that I may receive, so that my joy may be full.
Meanwhile let my mind meditate on it, let my tongue speak of it, let my heart love it, let my mouth preach it, let my soul hunger for it, my flesh thirst for it, and my whole being desire it, until I enter the joy of my Lord (Mt: 25.2 I) who is God, one and triune, blessed forever. Amen
Proslogion, 26. Copyright trans. Benedicta Ward
Let your God love you.
Alone Empty before your God.
Let your God look upon you.
That is all.
He loves you with an enormous love.
He only wants to look upon you with His love.
Let your God - Love you.
HOW TO BEHAVE IN CHURCH by St Padre Pio of Pietrelina
In order to avoid irreverence and imperfections in the house of God, in church which the Divine Master calls the House of Prayer - I exhort you in the Lord to practise the following. Enter the church in silence and with great respect, considering yourself unworthy to appear before the Lord's Majesty. Amongst other pious considerations, remembering that our soul is the Temple of God and, as such, must keep it pure and spotless before God and His angels. Let us blush for having given access to the Devil and his snares many times (with his enticements to world, his pomp, his calling to the flesh) by not being able to keep our hearts pure and our bodies chaste, for having allowed our enemies to insinuate themselves in our hearts, thus desecrating the Temple of God which we became through holy Baptism. Then take holy water and make the sign of the cross carefully and slowly. As soon as you are before God in the Blessed Sacrament, devoutly genuflect. Once you have found your place, kneel down and render the tribute of your presence and devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Confide all your needs to Him along with those of others. Speak to him with filial abandonment, give free reign to you heart and give Him complete freedom to work in you as He thinks best. When assisting at Holy Mass and the sacred functions, be very composed when standing up, kneeling down and sitting, and carry out every religious act with the greatest devotion. Be modest in your glances, don't turn your head here and there to see who enters and leaves. Don't laugh, out of reverence for this holy place and also out of respect for those who are near you. Try not to speak to anybody, except when charity or strict necessity requests this. If you pray with others, say the words of the prayer distinctly, observe the pauses well and never hurry. In short, behave in such way that all present are edified by it and, through you, are urged to glorify and love the Heavenly Father. On leaving the church, you should be recollected and calm. Firstly take leave of Jesus in the Blessed Saerament, ask his forgiveness for the shortcomings committed in his divine presence and do not leave him without asking for and having received his paternal blessing.
HOW TO BEHAVE IN CHURCH: the teaching of St Padre Pio is to be embraced by us all. Among our Parish Lenten disciplines, may we all put into practice what he teaches us.
THE SUNDAY OBLIGATION: The first commandment of the Church binds all Catholics to attend Mass on all Sundays and Holy days of obligation. This is a grave obligation on our conscience, unless some really serious cause prevents us. To come in late, wilfully or through carelessness, when Mass has begun is at least a venial sin. To miss Mass when you cannot help it, or when it would be very difficult for you to attend Mass, is not a sin. So, if you were to miss Mass because you were ill, or because you had to stay at home to mind a sick person or children, or because you were a long way from church, or if for some other reason you could not go, it would not be a sin. When you cannot go to mass, say the Mass prayers yourself at home, if possible.
THE SEVEN CORPORAL WORKS OF MERCY To feed the hungry; to give drink to the thirsty; to clothe the naked; to harbour the harbourless; to visit the sick; to visit the imprisoned; to bury the dead.
ADORATION: Monday to Friday 9am-6pm
RE-ESTABLISHING FRIDAY PENANCE
A key resolution of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, released after their May 2011 plenary meeting, was 'to re-establish the practice of Friday penance in the lives of the faithful as a clear and distinctive mark of their own Catholic identity.'
This act of common witness will come into effect from Friday 16th September 2011- the day the Church in England and Wales marks the anniversary of the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom.
Since the Bishops of England and Wales announced this decision in May 2011, a number of questions have been asked. To help answer these questions the Bishop's Conference has produced a list of frequently asked questions with answers that will help to explain the reasons for the reintroduction of this penance.
The full document which includes further questions and answers, as well as a liturgical explanation of the Friday penance can be downloaded from the link www.rcdow.org.uk/includes/dow-content-print.asp?content- ref= 3473.
Questions and answers include: Why are we obliged to practice penance on Fridays? From the earliest centuries of the Church's history, Friday was dedicated to the memory of the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus Christ, as a day on which we should make a special effort to practice penitence. The seasons and days of penitence in the course of the Liturgical year (Lent, and each Friday) are therefore intense moments of the Church's penitential practice.
Does this mean that we should eat fish on Friday? There is no requirement for us to eat fish instead of meat on a Friday. Our act of abstinence does not mean that we have to eat another particular type of food as a regular substitute for meat on a Friday. The precise goal of penitence is not simply the avoidance of meat or its substitution with another food but relating the external and common act of penance we do to inner conversion, prayer and works of charity.
Are the Bishops placing a greater obligation on Catholics in England and Wales? Apart from the exception above, will it be a 'sin' to eat meat on Friday after the Bishops decision takes effect in September? The obligation on Catholics in England and Wales to do penance on a Friday will be the same after Friday 16th September 2011 as it was before that date. The only change is that the Bishops have determined that the requirement by all the faithful to do penance on a Friday will be fulfilled by abstaining from meat.
While failure to abstain from meat on a particular Friday would not constitute a 'sin' as such, the Vatican previously made it clear that it is our duty as Catholics to undertake penance on a Friday. It is more a question of intending to 'carry a small cross for Christ' than about abstaining from meat. The person who knowingly decides not to undertake any Friday penance at all is probably 'sinning'; the person who accidently eats a ham sandwich for lunch is not.