Newsletter week starting 24 March 2019

 

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Catholic Guilt

I don’t react too well when people talk about “Catholic Guilt” This phrase is often used by  those  who are not long active in their faith or who feel antagonistic towards Catholicism.  I think that this phrase means the Catholics can feel excessively guilty which can sometimes lead to scrupulosity.

During this time of Lent and in the Gospel today Jesus is asking us to recognise our need to repentance and healing.  In other words we need to ask ourselves: “Am I guilty of living a life that is not in conformity with the call of Jesus to love God and love others? In the opening prayer this weekend we say: “ O God, author of every mercy and all goodness, who in fasting, prayer and almsgiving have shown us a remedy for sin, look graciously on this confession of our lowliness, that we, bowed down by our conscience, may always be lifted up by your mercy.”  It is good and healthy to be honest with ourselves and with God who sees our heart, and admit that we need healing and his mercy.  Our children celebrated Reconciliation for the first time last Saturday. In preparing them for this celebration of the sacrament we were not trying to make them feel guilty. We were helping them to realise that articulating their lack of love, their sin, they could experience healing and forgiveness.  Happily they were able in their own words to articulate why they were coming with a sense of sorrow.  “Bless me father for I have sinned…”. Someone was telling me recently that when they were being prepared for first confession many years ago, they had to have 10 sins ready to tell the priest.  I thank God that those days have gone.  For those who are preparing for Baptism this Easter will take part in the Scrutinies. These are rites for self searching and repentance.  According the ritual, they are meant to uncover, then heal all that is weak, defective or sinful in the elect (those preparing for baptism). “They are meant to bring out, then strengthen all that is upright, strong and good.

They are celebrated in order to deliver the elect from the power of sin and Satan, to protect them against temptation, and to give them strength in Christ.”  When the first Scrutiny is celebrated, the gospel from Year A (John 4:5-42) is read, the wonderful and powerful encounter of Jesus with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. Here was a woman not only coming to the well for water but also thirsting for living water. Jesus didn’t tell her off but this loving encounter challenged her and in opening her heart she was transformed and she led others to meet Jesus.  This could be our prayer today: Lord Jesus, you are the fountain for which we thirst, you are the Master whom we seek. In your presence we dare not claim to be without sin, for you alone are the Holy One of God. We open our hearts to you in faith, we confess our faults and lay bare our hidden wounds. In your love free us from our infirmities, heal our sickness, quench our thirst and give us peace. 


Newsletter for the week starting 17 March 2019

 

This message is only for the use of the intended recipient(s). It may contain information which is confidential and legally privileged within the meaning of applicable law. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender as soon as possible.
Any copying, disclosure, distribution or any action taken or omitted to be taken in reliance on it is prohibited and may be unlawful. Unless stated to the contrary, any opinions expressed in this message are personal and may not be attributed to Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark CIO. Registered Charity No.: 1173050
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A Listening Heart

As children we would often stay with our aunt and uncle in Malvern and love to climb the Malvern hills. The highest point is the Worcestershire Beacon which is 425 meters above sea level. From there you have wonderful views over Herefordshire and Worcestershire. But this was just a hill. Being up there I always had a great feeling of being away from it all and seeing things from a different perspective. In today’s gospel we read that Jesus, with his disciples, went up a mountain to pray. When we go to the Holy Land in November the guide will take us to Mount Tabor. The guide book says “This is a perfect breast-shaped mountain that inspires awe and wonder as it rises majestic and beautiful from the plain of Yizreel to a height of 600 meters.” Traditionally this is the place where Jesus was transfigured. In scripture, mountains are places were God is encountered. Elijah encountered God on Mount Horeb and Moses encountered God on Mount Sinai.  God revealed himself to them. Peter James and John saw Jesus transfigured.  They had an encounter with Jesus in his glory. “The aspect of his face changed and his clothing became brilliant like lightning ….They saw his glory”. When the cloud covered them with shadow a voice came from the cloud saying ”This is my Son, the Chosen one, listen to him.” This Lent there are no mountains or high places in Canterbury to climb to encounter God.   Let us try to come away and leave behind the noise and busyness of our everyday existence so that we have some time to pray.  Those words that Peter James and John heard “Listen to him”, can be for us an invitation to pray. Let us try to create pockets of silence during these weeks of Lent to listen to Jesus. Every devout Jew is required to listen in order to be penetrated by God’s will: “ Hear O Israel (Deut 6:4)” This is the first words of the Sherma, the prayer each Jew recited morning, afternoon and evening.  Listening is the most fundamental attitude required of Israel.  It is a command also given to each of us.  To listen is not just an invitation to lend an attentive ear but it also means we are asked to open our heart to God. We are invited to open our heart to Jesus.

Here are some words of St Augustine to encourage us. “Return to your heart! Come back! To where? To the Lord! It is quick! Return immediately to your heart! Exiled from your own self you wander outside. You fail to know yourself, you who want to know the source of your existence. Come back! Return to the heart!…See there what you can learn about God, for the image of God is there. In your interior person dwells Christ. In your interior person you are renewed after God’s image.” 

Give me a listening heart this Lent

Newsletter of week starting 10 March 2019

 

This message is only for the use of the intended recipient(s). It may contain information which is confidential and legally privileged within the meaning of applicable law. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender as soon as possible.
Any copying, disclosure, distribution or any action taken or omitted to be taken in reliance on it is prohibited and may be unlawful. Unless stated to the contrary, any opinions expressed in this message are personal and may not be attributed to Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark CIO. Registered Charity No.: 1173050
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Franciscan Missionary Sisters – thank you and goodbye

Two years ago the Franciscan International Study Center closed its doors and was sold. We still have a Franciscan presence in Canterbury. They are the Franciscan Missionary sisters of Littlehampton at Monte Bre, Blean and the Franciscan Missionaries of St Joseph in Somner Close.


Sadly, by the end of this month, the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of St Joseph will have left the parish after their presence here of twenty-seven years when Sister Margaret arrived to study at the Franciscan International Study Centre (FISC). From there she moved to St Bonaventure’s University in Upstate New York to study for her Masters in Franciscan Studies returning to teach at FISC where she remained until its closure. During that time, she served as Director of Franciscan Studies and Sabbaticals and the Spiritual Direction Course in which a number of our parishioners took part. Margaret also served as Vice Principal.


She was later joined by Sister Frances Slater who was one of the founding members of the Solitude Group and who was known to many of our parishioners. Other Sisters joined the community including Sisters Nuala, Killian and Christine and a Noviciate was established in King Street in the former friary of the Capuchin Friars.


In 2007 Sister Anne Bross from the USA came to have a Sabbatical at the Centre and stayed on to join the Community. Anne worked for a time at L’Arche and in the Library at FISC and as a Chaplain at Kent and Canterbury Hospital. Here in the Parish she was a Welcomer at the 9.30 Mass. Latterly, she has also been a volunteer at Age UK.


Many of their Sisters from various countries and cultures came to study at the Centre – from Kenya, Ecuador, Peru, Uganda, Holland and Ireland.


In this parish, over the years, we have been blessed with the presence of religious women and men. Pope Francis said, “Every consecrated person is a gift for the People of God on a journey. There is much need of their presence, that strengthens and renews the commitment to spread the gospel, to Christian education, to charity for the most needy, to contemplative prayer; the commitment to a human and spiritual formation of young people, of families; the commitment to justice and peace in the human family.” It is important we pray for all those in religious life and for anyone who is considering whether God is calling them to this was of life. “Those in religious life are leaven for the growth of a more just and fraternal society, a prophecy of sharing with the little and the poor. With such understanding and experience, the consecrated life appears to us just as it really is: a gift of God!”


I would like to thank Sister Margaret and Sister Anne for their devoted service in our parish. We are going to miss them and their presence amongst us. We wish them God’s blessing as they both move to the North to take up their new appointments.

Lent

Since the beginning of the year I have been writing short reflections on the Mass (the Eucharist) which is for us the source and summit of our Christian life. This Sunday is the last before we enter the season of Lent. Lent is a six week period in preparation of the greatest feast of the year, Easter. At all masses this weekend we will be reading the Archbishop’s letter. Pope Francis has also given us a Lenten message.(c.f. www.vatican.va ). In his letter, Archbishop Peter has given us the image of Holman Hunt’s famous picture, “Jesus the Light of the World”.  He wants us to think of Lent as the time when we open the door of our heart to Christ who waits patiently knocking at the door of our heart. The season of Lent gives us the opportunity of  allowing Christ’s light unto our hearts. Pope Francis centres his message around St Paul’s words; “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God” (Rom 8:19)” Pope Francis says that this eager longing, when we all enter into the travail, is what conversion entails. “All creation is called, with us, to go forth from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom 8:21).” Lent is a sacramental sign of this conversion. It invites us to embody the paschal mystery more deeply and concretely in our personal, family and social lives, above all by fasting, prayer and almsgiving.
Regarding Almsgiving, as a parish, I would like to suggest that we adopt the work of Father Federico, a Franciscan, who studied here in Canterbury and is now working with children and their families in South Sudan. Details of his work can be seen on the Lenten Noticeboard. We can do this through prayer and donations. Two Lenten talks have been arranged. The first, on Tuesday  26th March, is about Pope Francis’ letter on the call to holiness in today’s world, led by Chris Chapman. The second is the following Tuesday, 2nd April, entitled “Global Healing” which is a film based event that will inform, challenge and equip us to engage with Pope Francis vital call to “Care for our Common Home.” (Laudate Si). Whatever we decide to do in this season of Lent, under the banner of Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving, the aim is to become people able to celebrate Easter, to renew our baptismal promises and to join with those who are to be baptised and received into the Church. We are people of Easter Joy, rejoicing in the redemption of all creation.

Let us not allow this season of grace to pass in vain! Let us ask God to help us set out on a path of true conversion. Let us leave behind our selfishness and self-absorption, and turn to Jesus’ Pasch.(life death and resurrection). Let us stand beside our brothers and sisters in need, sharing our spiritual and material goods with them. In this way, by concretely welcoming Christ’s victory over sin and death into our lives, we will also radiate its transforming power to all of creation.” (Pope Francis) 

Newsletter week starting 24 Feb 2019

 

This message is only for the use of the intended recipient(s). It may contain information which is confidential and legally privileged within the meaning of applicable law. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender as soon as possible.
Any copying, disclosure, distribution or any action taken or omitted to be taken in reliance on it is prohibited and may be unlawful. Unless stated to the contrary, any opinions expressed in this message are personal and may not be attributed to Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark CIO. Registered Charity No.: 1173050
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The Eucharist

This week I want to consider the  Communion Rite of the Mass which begins with the Our Father. We then give each other the sign of peace. This reminds us that our Communion is not a private act between Jesus and myself but it is between Jesus in his union with the Father and the Spirit, and us in our union with each other. We are invited to share in the communion between God and the Church.

The priest breaks off a piece of the large host that he shows to the people and mixes it with the Precious Blood. Ideally at each Sunday Mass the people are able to receive the Host and drink from the chalice. In this way we are being faithful to the Lord’s command to his disciples to “Take and Eat” and Take and Drink”. “We complete the Eucharistic action by together eating and drinking the elements consecrated during the celebration. It is most desirable that the faithful share the chalice. Drinking at the Eucharist is a sharing in the sign of the new covenant (see Luke 22:20), a foretaste of the heavenly banquet (see Matthew 26:29), a sign of participation in the suffering Christ (see Mark 10:38- 39)” .

The Bishops of England and Wales say “The faithful are not ordinarily to be given Communion from the tabernacle.”  Yet in this parish we seem to do this as a matter of course.  How can we change this? We should receive communion from the bread and wine that is consecrated at that Mass. “The Communion procession expresses the humble patience of the poor moving forward to be fed, the alert expectancy of God’s people sharing the Paschal meal in readiness for their journey, the joyful confidence of God’s people on the march toward the promised land. In England and Wales it is through this action of walking solemnly in procession that the faithful make their sign of reverence in preparation for receiving Communion.” The normal sign of reverence is a bow before receiving Communion or a genuflection. There is no requirement to kneel. After the minister says, “The body of Christ,” we answer “Amen” and receive the consecrated host in the hand or on the tongue. This is repeated when receiving the blood of Christ from the cup. “Amen” means “so be it.” It testifies to our belief that the consecrated bread and wine are truly the body and blood of Christ. As we return to our place there will be time for some silence .

There are some who for one reason our another are unable to take Holy Communion. They are encouraged to make a spiritual communion. In their Document One Bread, One Body, in 1996 the Bishops of England and Wales wrote “Even though some may not receive sacramental communion, all are united in some way by the Holy Spirit. The traditional idea of spiritual communion is an important one to remember and reaffirm. The invitation often given at Mass to those who may not receive sacramental communion – for example, children before their First Communion and adults who are not Catholics – is to receive a ‘blessing’ at the moment of Communion which emphasises that a deep spiritual communion is possible even when we do not share together the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ.”