Author Archives: St Patricks Church

1st Sunday of Lent (A) 2017

Today’s gospel reading illustrate symbolically the temptations that Jesus of Nazareth had to contend with all his life.

On examination we will find that they are the very same temptations every one of us has to deal with also, in one way or another, throughout our lives.

The first is the temptation to put my physical desires before the wellbeing of others. To put my self interest first. It concerns my physical appetites. Comfort, eating and drinking, sexual desire, dress, how I look, possessions. As usual, all these appetites are in themselves good and God given gifts. The problem is my allowing all or some of them to rule my life. I allow myself to become the slave of one or some of these appetites. Even worse, it damages or even ruins the lives of those closest to me. Galatians 5. “I say, then: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. … Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions. … In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

The second temptation is particularly applicable to religious leadership. Using God or the Church to promote ones own importance is a constant temptation. Religious organisations are tempted to put their own glorification, their own interests, before the glory of God. Church leaders can try and exercise control over everyday matters over which they have been given no authority. For example …… Church authorities have been given authority to lead people to God. They have been given authority to selflessly seek the total wellbeing of the ordinary members. The temptation is to overstep this.This can be true of all human organisations of course. The party, the company, the club, the religious organisation, can become more important than the members it is supposed to serve. People in leadership roles insist on clinging to power when well past their sell by date. I don’t think our Church or our parish should seek to publicise the good work that we do. I don’t think that, alluring as it can be, we should be speaking of how good we think we are, how well we think we are doing, what we think we have accomplished. A good antidote to this acclaim seeking is to read  Mark 10: 17-22. “As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered him, … You know the commandments: ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honour your father and your mother. He replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth. Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to (the) poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me. At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.”

The third temptation is the allure of power, of control, be it in the home, the church, the country or the world. Just look at our world today or any day. Is not the desire for more power, for more control, behind every military, diplomatic, political and economic move. Within our own church there is a struggle for control. Losing control is a great fear in each and every one of us.

Mark 9. “Then Jesus sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to

be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”

Luke 6. “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 ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

I don’t think that, during this Lenten season, I will run out of issues that need to be addressed in my life.

8th Sunday of the Year (A) 2017

Last week we spoke about the Canon of the Mass.

The Canon of the Mass makes present again, for our benefit today, the events of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday evening. The bread and wine – things essential for our life and wellbeing and symbolising the offering of our lives and possessions to our God – are changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The separation of body and blood signifies the execution which Jesus underwent on Good Friday on a cross.

During the Canon, as well as following the words spoken by the priest, we might find it helpful to picture ourselves reclining at table with Jesus and the Apostles and participating in what is happening. The Apostles, although well aware of the danger they were in from the authorities while they were in Jerusalem, were unaware of events about to happen and the significance of what they were taking part in. We, on the other hand, are well aware of what is happening and of what is about to happen and their significance. The changing of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ signified his death on the cross which in turn signified the lengths our God was willing to go to in pursuit of our total wellbeing and in his stand in the fight against injustice and oppression. This he has asked me to do in remembrance of His trust-wordiness, faithfulness and total dedication to my welfare.

During the elevation of the body and blood of Christ after the words of consecration (the elevation of the bread and wine) it can be helpful to look on the crucifix and ask myself if this man, Jesus of Nazareth, who is willing to go to such extremes in pursuit of my total welfare, can be trusted. What more could he realistically do to win my total confidence in him and in his promises?

Should I not ask myself if the above is not sufficient to awaken in me a deep and abiding sense of gratitude to my God.

(As an aside, at this stage, it might also be helpful to consider how such a God could possibly be confused with the judgemental, accusatory and punishing god many of us were brought up to believe in).

The concluding part of the canon is when our offerings of thanksgiving now incorporated, or changed, into the total self offering of Jesus of Nazareth on the cross is raised up by the priest and presented to God our Father as the ultimate expression of our gratitude.

Raising up the Baby and Blood of Jesus of Nazareth and our self – offering the priest intones:

‘Through him, and with him, and in  him, O God, almighty father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honour is yours, for ever and ever.’  And God’s whole family here present respond all together in a joyous chorus; ‘Amen.’

This is called the great Amen and signifies our total agreement with, participation in and response to, all we have done and said.

We then move on directly to the Communion.

The Communion is God’s response to our gifts of gratitude to Him/Her.

God receives our gifts (signified by bread and wine). In doing so they are incorporated with, changed into, the self giving (the gifts) of Jesus of Nazareth and offered to us (God’s family here present) as our food and drink. This food and drink is now God’ only begotten son. This unites us with God the Son and thus unites us with the Holy Trinity. It makes us full participants in the life of God. It Makes us participants in the eternal life of God.

This means that symbolically, spiritually, we have already entered into the Eternal Life of God.

We are already in Heaven but cannot experience it physically until our bodies are glorified at the resurrection of the dead.

Receiving Holy Communion is a time of realisation. Realising that we are already one with our God, have already entered into Eternal Life together with and in unity with all our brothers and sisters here present and throughout the world and from all times, past, present and future.

Realising that we should now treat each other as fellow saints in heaven and as God’s beloved children. Realising that the promises of our God are already fulfilled in our lives in spiritual reality.

 

For the last seven weeks I have talked on the Mass. There is a lot more to be said about the Mass and many more, and different, approaches. I have given you, in these seven homilies, what I myself have found helpful. Some of it is not easily understood so I recommend that if you are serious about learning more about the Mass and about how you might participate more fully in the Mass I would recommend a rereading of these homilies.

Stations of the Cross

Parishioners, family and friends are invited to join St Patrick’s School in the “Place of Peace Room” at the School on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during Lent at 12.45pm for Lenten Stations of the Cross.

Reflections have been written by pupils from St Gregory’s and reflect the Bishops’ call to relate our prayers to the plight of refugees today.

Church re-decorating

As you will have seen and heard, the Church is being re-decorated over the next few weeks.

Weekday Masses and Services will be held in the Parish Hall. Weekend Masses will continue in Church, but parishioners are asked to be prepared for some disruption by way of scaffolding etc.

The cost of the re-decorating is likely to be approx £9,000. If you wish to make a contribution, please use a Gift Aid envelope, and mark it “Decorating Fund”, adding your details if you are able to Gift Aid it.

7th Sunday of the Year (A) 2017

We now come to the central part of the Mass.

This is when we offer praise and thanks to God our Father and Creator , through, in union with and in, Jesus Christ. We start with the preface, which like any preface is an introduction to what is to come.

‘The Lord be with you …..

Lift up your hearts …….

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God ……..’

After the preface we start the Canon of the Mass.

This is when we enter the realm of mystery. Thousands of books have been written, down the ages, about how this works but the element of mystery still remains.

It is all to do with Holy Thursday evening (the Last Supper) through to Easter Sunday morning (the Resurrection).

These three days encapsulated the reason for, the meaning of, and the results of the Incarnation.

For the two or three years of his public ministry, how Jesus of Nazareth lived, what he said and did throughout Galilee, guaranteed him the enmity of the political and religious leadership of the land. If today, I and you were to live, act and speak as He did, we too would incur the enmity of the political and religious leadership of this land.

He knew this. His Apostles and followers knew this. His mother and relations knew this.

His mother tried to talk sense to him. His relatives tried to talk sense to him. His apostles tried to talk sense to him and prevent him from going to Jerusalem. He could have quietly slipped away into any one of the neighbouring countries and lain low for a couple of years or so until the authorities forgot about him.

But that would mean surrendering to the forces of injustice, to the forces of oppression. Then the forces of evil would have vanquished him. The forces of evil would have won over the forces of good. Hatred would have defeated love, intolerance would have overcome tolerance, vengeance would have suppressed forgiveness.

So He remained true to the will of His Father irrespective of the consequences for Himself.

He lived as God lives, right up to the end.

And just as the forces of evil, injustice and oppression were congratulating themselves for their success in conquering Him and what He stood for, He arose triumphant from the tomb to lead his Apostles and followers and us today into His Kingdom of light, love and mutual forgiveness and to share in the eternal life of the Father.

This is what the canon of the Mass is about. It makes present for us today the events of Holy Thursday evening to Easter Sunday morning. We are able to relive these events in symbol. We are able to participate in and witness these events in signs.

This is a mystery.

We do it because He, Jesus of Nazareth, told us to do what He did at the Last Supper in memory of Him. In memory of his whole life among us. And especially in memory of his last three days.

At the Last Supper he did, in a symbolic way, what was about to happen to him in reality, starting that evening in the Garden of Gethsemane.

6th Sunday of the Year (A) 2017

We continue with the talks on the Mass.

Having completed the first part of the Mass, we are anxious to forge ahead and demonstrate to our God how grateful we are for what our God has done for us.

The greatest way to thank someone for gifts received is to reciprocate with something which the giver of the gift has not got and very much desires.

We were brought up to believe that God has everything. But that is not true.

God is our Father and our Mother. What does a parent desire most in life? Above all else a parent desires the gratitude, respect, appreciation and if possible, the love of their children.

This is something which the parent has not yet got or has not yet received the fulness of. It is something which the parent cannot get a surfeit of. It is something which makes up for, which makes worth while, all the sacrifices, heartache and worry of child rearing. It brings fulfilment and joy to the parent.

God is my parent. My God can never get a surfeit of my gratitude, respect and love. It is the only thing my God desires from me and has not yet got or has not yet got a fulness of.

Now we move on to the second part of the mass – the bringing of the gifts.

What are these gifts? What is actually and visibly brought to the altar is bread and wine.

These are symbols. Bread and wine are food and drink. Food and drink are the two absolute necessities for life and wellbeing. By offering our God these things I are saying to God ‘I offer you my very life and being as a symbol of my gratitude for what you have done for me. From now on my life will be lived through, with and in Christ, in gratitude for your gifts to me – existence, life, resurrection from death and sharing in your eternal life,’ etc.

The offertory procession is a time of decision. Deciding for Christ. Breaking from a way of life that separates me from Christ. Deciding to try and abandon my hostilities, my envies, my jealousies, my greed, my selfishness and self – absorption. Deciding, to try to be forgiving, to be tolerant, generous and kind.

Mentally, I place these decisions for Christ in the hands of the bearers of the bread and wine, to be placed on the altar with the bread and wine, as an expression of my gratitude to my God. This, of course, is done in symbols. Symbols which I understand and which are meaningful to me.

In short, what I am doing and saying during the offertory is placing myself on the altar, with the bread and wine, as an offering to my God, for God to do with as God wishes. This is the sign or symbol of my gratitude. This is my way of saying thank you to my God and my Creator.

So the offertory procession is not for looking at the people who bring the gifts or seeing what they are wearing. The offertory procession is the time when I offer to my God something of myself as a sign of my gratitude.

The presider – the president – the priest, then takes the bread and wine, and raising them up offers them to our God as gifts brought by His family, here present, in gratitude for God’s goodness.

Then the priest says ‘Prey, brethren, that our sacrifice may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.’ And all of you, God’s family here present, respond with one voice; ‘May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of his name, for our good, and the good of all his holy church.’

Our sacrifice, our gifts, are always acceptable to our God as long as they are sincere and authentic and not just empty promises.