Cardinal Newman

This Sunday, 13th October, the first English saint of modern times, John Henry Newman, is to be canonised (declared a saint). Also canonized with him will be an Indian, Sister Marian Thresia, founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family; an Italian, Sister Giuseppina Vannini; a Brazilian Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes, and Marguerite Bays, a Swiss consecrated virgin of the Third Order of St. Francis. Their canonizations will take place during the 2019 Special Synod of Bishops from the Pan-Amazonian region which is held at the Vatican at this time. The Prince of Wales will lead the UK delegation – because the Queen no longer travels abroad, he is the highest-ranking royal who could attend – along with HM Ambassador to the Holy See, Sally Axworthy.  John Henry Newman was a 19th century theologian, poet, Catholic priest and cardinal. Originally an Anglican priest, he converted to Catholicism in 1845 and his writings are considered among some of the most important Church-writings in recent centuries. If you have access to YouTube, Bishop Robert Barron has posted a onehour film he made on John Henry Newman. This will give you a great insight in the man and why he is important for us today.  https://youtu.be/xSJviI29C2w  Bishop Barron  says at the beginning of his film that Newman was a massive and deeply influencial figure and some say he is the greatest Catholic theologian since Thomas Aquinas. Newman is considered one of the most important theological influences of the Second Vatican Council. His work represents the first and most notable attempt to place Catholic thought in dialogue with the enlightenment. You might be aware of his poem “The Dream of Gerontius” put to music by Sir Edward Elgar.  The words of the hymn “Praise to the holiest in the height” come from this poem. Among his published books were “The Idea of a University,” “Grammar of Assent,” and his autobiography “Apologia pro Vita Sua” (A defence of one’s own life.). I love this pray he wrote:

Stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine as You shine: so to shine as to be a light to others. The light, O Jesus, will be all from You. None of it will be mine. It will be You who shines through me upon others. O let me thus praise You, in the way which You love best, by shining on all those around me. Give light to them as well as to me; light them with me, through me. Teach me to show forth Your praise. Your truth. Your will. Make me preach You without preaching – not by words, but by my example and by the catching force, the sympathetic influence, of what I do – by my visible resemblance to Your saints, and the evident fullness of the love which my heart bears to You.

Newsletter for week starting 13 October 2019

 

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Newsletter for week starting 6 October 2019

 

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Our Missionary Commitment

This is a busy weekend for us at St Thomas of Canterbury.  Father Federico Gandolfi OFM is here and on Friday after celebrating evening Mass spoke about his work in South Sudan. At all Masses this weekend Fr Patrick is speaking about the work of the missionary order of Spiritians and he will be asking for our support through prayer and donation.  Our own Fr Sylvester is a member of this congregation which was formerly known as The Holy Ghost Fathers.  It’s 100 years since Pope Benedict XV’s encyclical “Maximum Illud” called on Catholics to bring the Good News to all peoples (Missio Ad Gentes). So to commemorate this anniversary, Pope Francis has declared October 2019 to be an Extraordinary Month of Mission (EMM). This special month of prayer and action calls us all to renew our missionary commitment. Because we’re all called to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with all peoples. It is too easy for us to leave all missionary activity to people like Fr Frederick and Fr Patrick. Pope Francis reminds us to pray that “the Holy Spirit may engender a new missionary spring for all those baptised and sent by Christ’s Church.”   So what should you and I do to be part of this new missionary spring. What am I doing to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others?

Here is the prayer written for this month.

Heavenly Father, 

when your only begotten Son Jesus Christ rose from the dead,

he commissioned his followers

to “go and make disciples of all nations”

and you remind us that through our Baptism we are made sharers in the mission of the Church.

Empower us by the gifts of the Holy Spirit to be courageous and zealous

in bearing witness to the Gospel,

so that the mission entrusted to the Church, which is still very far from completion, may find new and. efficacious expressions that bring life and light to the world.

Help us make it possible for all peoples to experience the saving love

and mercy of Jesus Christ,

who lives and reigns with you

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.


Global Healing & Our Harvest

Traditionally Harvest festival is held on the Sunday near or of the Harvest Moon. This is the full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox. The equinox this year is Monday 23rd September. Thank you to all those who have donated food as part of our display around the altar. This will be distributed to those in need. We are having fun things in the Hall after the 9:30am Mass this Sunday to celebrate harvest. This is our opportunity to give thanks to God for the blessing of the produce of the land that feeds and nourishes us. But also we need to reconsider the ways we use and care for the land. We know that we cannot use this earth for our wellbeing alone but need to care and look after what has been entrusted to us by God. As I write (Friday) there are climate change protests in major cities throughout the world. The demand is for immediate ambitious change . Pope Francis three years ago wrote a wonderful encyclical Letter “Laudato Si” on care for our common home. In it he says that climate change “ is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. Its worst impact will probably be felt by developing countries in coming decades.” He says that “we are called to recognise the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it.”

Before the summer some of us watched and discussed the film “Global Healing” and we began to think about ways we are individuals, families and a parish can change our lifestyle to help the healing of the planet. I believe this needs to continue. There are many good ideas on the CAFOD ( the official aid agency for the Catholic Church in England and Wales) website Catholic international development charity | CAFOD;



Let us also pray a prayer written by Pope Francis:

O God of the poor,

help us to rescue the abandoned

and forgotten of this earth,

so precious in your eyes.

Bring healing to our lives,

that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty,

not pollution and destruction.

Touch the hearts

of those who look only for gain

at the expense of the poor and the earth.

Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,

to be filled with awe and contemplation,

to recognise that we are profoundly united

with every creature

as we journey towards your infinite light.

We thank you for being with us each day.

Preferential Option for the Poor

A group of us were discussing this Sunday’s gospel where Jesus told the story of Dives and Lazarus. Someone in the group said that it is the responsibility of rich people in this world like Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, to give more of their money to the poor and the needy. It is easy for us to think that these words spoken by Jesus to the Pharisees apply to people rich people like Bill Gates. He is about the third richest person in the world and owns about $107 billion. In fact his foundation gives much money to charity. But this story of Jesus is not just addressed to the Pharisees but it is addressed to each one of us today? Am I the rich man who feasts magnificently everyday or am I the poor man who who fills himself from the scraps that fall from the rich mans table? If we look at our lifestyle today there’s is no doubt that we in the West are comfortable and we are well aware that there are many many of our brothers and sisters who are in the greatest need. One of the major developments in Catholic social teaching in the 20th century has been the “ preferential option for the poor.” The option for the poor is simply the idea that, as reflected in canon law, “The Christian faithful are also obliged to promote social justice and, mindful of the precept of the Lord, to assist the poor.” It indicates an obligation, on our part who call ourselves Christian, first and foremost to care for the poor and vulnerable. The preferential option is part of the social teaching of the Church. Because God created all that is good, all men have a share in the earth’s bounty. This “principle of the universal destination of goods,” says the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, “requires that the poor, the marginalized and in all cases those whose living conditions interfere with their proper growth should be the focus of particular concern.” The preferential option for the poor is a “special form of primacy in the exercise of Christian charity,” says Pope John Paul II in his 1987 encyclical Solicitudo Rei Socialis. “It affects the life of each Christian inasmuch as he or she seeks to imitate the life of Christ, but it applies equally to our social responsibilities and hence to our manner of living, and to the logical decisions to be made concerning the ownership and use of goods.” The doctrine has its roots in Christ’s life and teaching itself. “Christ the Savior showed compassion…, identifying himself with the ‘least’ among men. ‘It is by what they have done for the poor that Jesus Christ will recognize his chosen ones,’” the Compendium says, quoting the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2443). The Question I need to ask myself today is “Is the poor my priority?” “Are we a church for the poor?” “Are we a parish that makes the poor a priority?” Who is a sitting on the doorstep of my life that I am ignoring? This week let us show preferential option for the poor by doing something on Harvest Fast Day this Friday 4th October and by coming to meet Fr Freddie on Friday evening after 7:30pm Mass which he will be celebrating. 


Newsletter for Week starting 29 Sept 2019

 

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Newsletter starting 21st September 2019

 

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Letting God Find Us

In all three of the stories in Luke’s Gospel today we have something or someone who is lost. The lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son often known as the prodigal son. The shepherd searches for the lost sheep and the woman searches for the lost coin and the father searches the horizon waiting for the son to return. What Jesus is telling us when he tells these stories that God is searching for us. Many talk about the spiritual life as our quest for God, our search for God. The spiritual life is sometimes described as finding God in our lives. I think that it is the other way round. God is searching for us. What we need to do is to allow ourselves to be found by God. God is passionate about us. St Catherine of Siena has a phrase that expresses this. She says that God is “mad in love” with us. Here are some of her words. “O eternal Father! O fiery abyss of charity! O eternal beauty, O eternal wisdom, O eternal goodness, O eternal mercy! O hope and refuge of sinners! O immeasurable generosity! O eternal, infinite Good! O mad lover! And you have need of your creature? It seems so to me, for you act as if you could not live without her, in spite of the fact that you are Life itself, and everything has life from you and nothing can have life without you. Why then are you so mad?  Because you have fallen in love with what you have made!”

So often people imagine God as a distant figure, sitting in judgement on us, waiting for us to do the right thing. In the first reading this weekend from Exodus God says to Moses about the people of Israel who have apostatised: “ Leave me, now, my wrath shall blaze out against them and devour them;” After Moses pleads God relents. This suggests this is God’s perception of his creation. Bishop Robert Barron in his reflection on this gospel says that the three stories suggest there are three ways of being found. The coin represents people who are spiritually dead. They don’t know they are lost. They are so far from God, so alienated from their real purpose. They have wandered in the land of unlikeness. They are closed in themselves. There is hope because God diligently  searches and finds those who don’t now they are lost. The sheep are those who know they are in trouble. They realise that they are spiritually compromised. God finds them too and carries them home on his shoulders. Finally, in the story of the prodigal son, the son has gone into conscious rebellion of his Father, and there are those who consciously rebel against God and realise they are lost and are seeking a way back.

What is common to all three stories is that there is rejoicing in being found. We need as a parish and a church to rejoice in those who return. Perhaps we need to open are heart and let God find us.

Newsletter for week starting 15th September 2019

 

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