Author Archives: St Patricks Church

Bishop Declan’s Pentecost Message

Pentecost brings 50 days of Easter celebrations to completion with the coming of the Holy Spirit, filling the hearts of God’s people with the fire of God’s love and renewing the face of the earth. Pentecost is the birthday of the Church. The beginnings did not look too auspicious as the disciples were hiding behind locked doors for fear of the authorities. They were a group of vulnerable people whose lives had been shattered and whose hopes had been destroyed. What changed them in a remarkable way was the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit gives them courage and strength to witness to Jesus, the Christ, without fear or anxiety. In the Acts of the Apostles we are told that the disciples were given the gift of speaking foreign languages so that all nations might hear about the marvels of God. There was one language, the language of God, for many nations. Unlike the Tower of Babel where the languages would cause a division among the people, the language of God heals divisions, unites humanity and brings peace between God and humanity and the whole of creation. At the birth of a child people often wonder what the child will turn out to be. At the birth of John the Baptist there was such a reaction. At the birth of the Church we can ask the same question: what will the Church turn out to be? Throughout history the Church has adapted and reformed in response to the joys and sorrows of particular times and cultures. Today the Church finds different ways to proclaim and celebrate the Gospel. The means may change but the message remains the same – the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus. The message is life giving and is the way to the truth of life. Within the community of the Church there are millions of people who are gifted by the Holy Spirit. We, all of us, are part of that people. There are many gifts but always given by God for the good of others. Each one of us is created for a good purpose. We discover that purpose through the loving service we give to others. It is in giving that we receive. In this time of Covid-19 many people have shown great generosity. Neighbours who may have been strangers to one another have become friends. People who have felt alone and isolated have experienced the care and love of people who they did not previously know. The first disciples were not unique in experiencing fear, hiding behind locked doors. All of us experience fear at certain times in our lives. Fear can paralyse us and make us feel useless and powerless. Pentecost puts an end to the fear. The Holy Spirit fills us with the fire of God’s love. Though the circumstances that cause us fear may remain the same, the fear is taken away. The Coronavirus has been a cause of fear and uncertainty, making people feel vulnerable, especially when faced by the death of a family member or friend. People ask when will it end. When will we be able to get back to how things were before the pandemic? However, we cannot return to how things once were. The experience worldwide has made a difference to our lives. We can only live in the present moment and look to the future. We need to reflect on what we have learnt from our experiences of the Coronavirus both individually and institutionally – including the Church. Pope Francis compares the Church to a field hospital. The Church must not hide behind locked doors but be in the midst of people listening to their voices and bringing healing and hope to those who are afflicted physically, mentally, spiritually and socially. This will make us vulnerable and we will make mistakes, but we will be giving ourselves and others reasons for living in the present and looking with hope to the future. We are called to have a sense of togetherness in this our common home and a sense of wonder about the whole of creation entrusted to our care. To us today Jesus says: Peace be with you. As the Father sent me so am I sending you. Receive the Holy Spirit.

Pope Francis joins Archbishops of Canterbury and York for Thy Kingdom Come Pentecost service

Pope Francis will take part in an online church service alongside the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and a number of other senior UK church leaders this Sunday.

He will deliver a special message for the virtual service for Pentecost Sunday – the day we Christians celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church. The service can be watched on the  YouTube channel from 9am on Sunday 31 May.

The service marks the finale of this year’s Thy Kingdom Come, an annual ecumenical global prayer movement for evangelisation between Ascension Day and Pentecost across 172 countries.

In his message, the Pope calls on all Christians to seek a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in a world “experiencing a tragic famine of hope”.

The Solemnity of Pentecost

William Blake, the great English poet, painter and print maker was placed at number 38 in the BBC’s poll of the 100 Greatest Britons a few years ago.

He was a visionary who looked beneath the appearance of things to explore the spirit that lay beyond.  Some of you may know this extract from his poem ‘Pentecost’:

Unless the eye catch fire,
The God will not be seen.
Unless the ear catch fire
The God will not be heard.
Unless the tongue catch fire
The God will not be named.
Unless the heart catch fire,
The God will not be loved.
Unless the mind catch fire,
The God will not be known.

The key, the prime requisite for authentic life and for knowing God, is to catch something of that flame of life, the Spirit itself.

On the first Pentecost the Spirit descended in tongues of fire. Elsewhere the Spirit is described as a dove, a breath or wind. Each description catches a particular sense of that Spirit of God which underlies everything and awaits its birth in the lives and actions of human beings.

It is the Spirit deep within the heart of humanity made in God’s image, that enables us to pray and to engage with God himself.

At times it is like a fire, a burning passion that enflames us with a sense of God’s loving presence, a fire that purifies us from the dross of self-absorption. At times it is like a wind that blows where it will – we know its power and presence even though it can’t be seen. At times it is like breath, something so very natural and almost unnoticed – yet essential for life. At times we picture it as a dove – a sign of hope and promise landing in our midst as it did in the story of Noah when it brought an olive branch in its beak showing the flood was ended.

Today we celebrate the gift of that Spirit of God, promised by the Risen and Ascended Lord. Here the Eastertide season ends as we move into the life of discipleship lived in the power of that Spirit.

But we shouldn’t see the Spirit just as simply an extra boost, something we call upon to help us do what we want. It is rather the very presence of God deep within his creation and therefore deep within our communities and indeed deep within each one of us. The invitation of Pentecost is to open ourselves to that presence.

Yet if we do this, let us be aware of what it is we are letting ourselves in for. This is a Spirit that will not just support our ambitions for the Church or for our world or for ourselves. This is the Spirit of God which will lead us in his ways (or even her ways…the spirit is in the feminine form in the NT,  as we often sing in the wonderful hymn, ‘Enemy of Apathy’), to fulfil the Spirits’s will for his church, his world and us his people.

She sits like a bird, brooding on the waters,
hovering on the chaos of the world’s first day;
she sighs and she sings, mothering creation,
waiting to give birth to all the Word will say.

She wings over earth, resting where she wishes,
lighting close at hand or soaring through the skies;
she nests in the womb, welcoming each wonder,
nourishing potential hidden to our eyes.

She dances in fire, startling her spectators,
waking tongues of ecstasy where dumbness reigned;
she weans and inspires all whose hearts are open,
nor can she be captured, silenced or restrained.

For she is the Spirit, one with God in essence,
gifted by the Saviour in eternal love;
and she is the key opening the scriptures,
enemy of apathy and heavenly dove. (John L. Bell & Graham Maule)

We are opening ourselves not just to an extra support, but to a radical change. We are handing over ourselves to the one who created us, and who invites us to choose to live our lives in his way rather than ours. It may, it will be full of surprises – for God’s Spirit is renowned for blowing where it wills, not where we or parts of the Church thinks it ought.

So today we are invited to live in God’s grace, and that is something many have embarked upon – though often we wrestle back control at moments when we lose faith or become selfish in our desires.

Today we recall that gathering of nationalities on the first Pentecost: Parthians, Medes, Elamites and all the rest who heard the first disciples speaking of God’s love in Jesus Christ.They were surprised that each heard in their own language – but what they heard was that Spirit of God deep within all humanity, and they were united in responding to God’s love.

The challenge of today is one for our world, our society and one for each of us here. It is to allow that love to become real in the lives of this broken and virus ridden world. It is to enable those imprisoned by violence, oppression, need or greed, to find that Spirit of God’s love deep within themselves bringing freedom from their captivity. It is to enable those who are blinded by their power, their success and their comfort in this world, to have their eyes open to the needs of all around, to change and be changed, to live differently.

It is to find the Spirit of the living God breathing new life into the dry bones of our society and our world, that all may have life, and have it abundantly; life that is both here and now, and lasts into eternity.

Unless the eye catch fire,
The God will not be seen.
Unless the ear catch fire
The God will not be heard.
Unless the tongue catch fire
The God will not be named.
Unless the heart catch fire,
The God will not be loved.
Unless the mind catch fire,
The God will not be known.

May this Pentecost enflame our eyes, ears, tongues, hearts and minds, that God and his love may be seen and heard, named and loved, and known by all his children in every part of his world.

Our Parish Stewardship

OUR STEWARDSHIP GIVING IN THIS TIME OF CRISIS

We continue to thank all those who are still able to give to the parish at this time of crisis. If you would like to give, it is still possible. Standing Order forms are still available (simply email the parish for one and we will send you one) and donations can also be made via this website through PayPal. Thank you to those who are now making use of this new PayPal facility. If you have giving envelopes you can post them through the presbytery dooe or save them until we are able to gather together again. All these continued contributions will play an important part in lessening the inevitable financial impact on the parish in the present lockdown.

 

Organ Donation – A Brief Guide For Catholics

ORGAN DONATION On 20th May, an opt-out system for organ donation was introduced in England. The Catholic Church has consistently encouraged its followers to consider organ donation. The act of donating organs before or after death has been considered a gift and an intrinsic good. However, a system of presumed consent risks taking away the right of the individual to exercise this decision, and therefore potentially undermines the concept of donation as a gift. Following the change in the law, all adults in England will be considered donors in the event of death, unless they have recorded a decision not to donate or are in one of the following excluded groups: those under the age of 18; people who lack the mental capacity to understand the new arrangements and take the necessary action; visitors to England, and those not living here voluntarily; and people who have lived in England for less than 12 months before their death. The Catholic Bishops’ of England and Wales have produced Guidelines for Catholics on Organ Donation, and how to record this decision online via the Organ Donation Register (ODR). The ODR also allows you to record your faith beliefs so that they may be respected in the event of death and organ donation. See the Bishops’ Guidelines:

CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE OF ENGLAND AND WALES
39 Eccleston Square, London SW1V 1BX
www.catholicchurch.org.uk

Organ Donation: A brief guide for Catholics
Spring 2020
This brief guide presents Catholic teaching on organ donation, answers
common questions Catholics may have and provides sources for further
information and reflection.
The Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Act 2019
The Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Act became law on 15 March 2019 and
will come into force in Spring 2020. Across the UK, around three people die
each day due to a lack of availability of donated organs. The law is being
changed in the hope that it will increase the supply of organs to help save and
improve more lives. The new system now requires that you ‘opt-out’ if you do
not wish to donate your organs and tissue, otherwise you may be considered a
donor.
A message from Bishop Paul Mason, the Catholic Bishop responsible for
Healthcare and Mental Health:
“Preparing for death should not be feared. These guidelines hope to
provide you with some information to help you make a well-informed decision
with regards to donating your organs after death. It is important to discuss this
with your family and loved ones so that they are aware of your decision and
can honour it. In turn, it is hoped that this may help to start a conversation so
that you too are able to make an informed choice about loved ones when the
time comes.”

Catholic Teaching on Organ Donation
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that, ‘Organ donation after death
is a noble and meritorious act and is to be encouraged as an expression of
generous solidarity’ (2296). In response to the government Consultation on
introducing ‘opt-out’ consent for organ and tissue donation in England, the
Catholic Media Association (UK) and the Catholic Union of Great Britain stated
that, ‘It is an altruistic act of free giving and a genuine expression of charity
that looks beyond the death of the donor towards the gift of life to others. It offers a chance of health and even of life itself to the sick who sometimes have
no other hope’.
Pope John Paull II, in his Address to the 18th International Congress of the
Transplantation Society (2000) said,
“…There is a need to instil in people’s hearts, especially in the hearts of the
young, a genuine and deep appreciation of the need for brotherly love, a love
that can find expression in the decision to become an organ donor.”
Whilst the Catholic Church considers voluntary organ donation as an intrinsic
good, Catholics also maintain the right to exercise a decision as to what
happens to their body after death, otherwise this undermines the concept of
donation as a gift. Christians value the body as the temple of the Holy Spirit (1
Corinthians 6:19) and look forward to a resurrection of the body at the end of
time.
Yet, it is the Christian belief that nothing that happens to our body, before or
after death, can impact our relationship with God:
“For I know that my Redeemer lives… and after my skin has been thus
destroyed, then from my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side,
and my eyes shall behold,” (Job 19:25-27)

FAQ and where to seek further information:
What is organ donation?
Organ donation is giving an organ to someone who needs a transplant.
This donation will greatly enhance or save the life of the person who receives
the transplanted organ.
You can donate some or all of your organs and tissue. This includes the heart,
lungs, kidneys, liver, corneas, pancreas, tissue and small bowel. You can donate
after death or donate a kidney or part of your liver while you’re alive.

How do I register my decision?
You can find more information via the Organ Donation NHS website and
register your decision at: https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/register-todonate/. Here you will be able to access the Organ Donation Register (ODR),
record your faith/beliefs, or ‘opt-out’. If you have already registered via the
ODR, you can change your decision, or withdraw (remove your name) from the
register at any time via these means too.

Individuals registering as organ donors on the NHS Organ Donor Register are
now able to state on their registration whether or not they would like the NHS
to speak to their family, and anyone else appropriate, about how organ
donation can go ahead in line with their faith or belief system.

Will my relatives ultimately get to decide what happens to my
organs and tissue after death?
Under the Code of Practice, even after the new system is implemented, a
specialist nurse will always discuss with the deceased’s family whether their
loved one would have wished for their organs and tissue to be donated. This
process is easier if this has been discussed previously and if the potential donor
has registered their decision via one of the ways outlined above. NHS staff will
work with the family members to honour this decision. Family members can
also provide important information about the person’s history to help ensure
the donor’s organs can be transplanted safely.

Catholic chaplaincy support
In the event that a loved one is facing the prospect of donating organs, be
assured that at any point in this process you may seek the support of the
hospital chaplain who can offer pastoral care. Many hospital chaplains work
with people of all faiths. If you specifically want a Catholic Chaplain you can ask
for this and the hospital has an obligation to help you access that support as
part of its equality duty.

Where to seek further information:
• Information/Questions and answers around the law change:
https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/opt-out-faq/
• Information and resources regarding the Catholic perspective on organ
donation: https://www.cbcew.org.uk/podcast/blood-and-organ-donation/
• Further information on the ethics of organ transplantation can be found in
the 2014 report, ‘On the Ethics of Organ Transplantation: A Catholic
Perspective’ by The Anscombe Bioethics Centre at
http://bioethics.org.uk/Ontheethicsoforgantransplantationfinal.pdf.

The Ascension of the Lord

Perhaps, the trouble with the Ascension is that we think it is about the absence of Jesus – not his presence. After all, he prepares his disciples for his departure. He tells them that soon they will not see him. He tells them that he is leaving them. The accounts in the Gospels tell us he was taken from their sight, that he disappeared into the cloud, that he was carried up into heaven. In art, the Ascension is often pictured – a little oddly – by the sight of a couple of feet just visible, poking out of the bottom of a cloud. When I was a child, I remember being transfixed by the Ascension Chapel in the Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. Rather than an image of Christ ascending, there are two feet dangling from a baroque cloud in the ceiling. It’s quite amusing! I remember wanted to hold on to them and swing on them, preventing the Lord from disappearing.  It seems that the Ascension is the end of that time of appearances and presences of Christ. Now these 40 days are concluded, he is taken away, to be seen no more.

Yet if we remain only with this image, this idea, we entirely miss the point. You will see me, then you won’t see me, Jesus says rather enigmatically. I will not leave you without comfort, he says. I will be with you always, even till the end of time. Where two or three are gathered together, I am in the midst of them. This is my body, this is my blood, do this in memory of me – recall me – to make me present.

Before the Ascension, Christ was present in one place, now he is present in every place. Then he sat to eat with his disciples by the lakeside, now we receive his body and blood, the bread of life, in every country, in every city of the world. Then he walked the dusty paths of Palestine, now he strides through every land, borne by his Church. Then he dwelt in one man and one place, now he dwells in every person who has been baptised into his life. Then he healed a few of the sick, now he blesses millions of the sick through the sacrament of anointing. Then he taught the crowds in the market-place, from the boat, and on the hillside, now his words are read from every Church and chapel and pulpit. Then he prayed in solitude on the Mount of Olives, now he prays in every believer. Then his body suffered for us on the cross, now we receive his risen and mystical body and blood in the Mass. Then he showed love and compassion to the weak and vulnerable, now his people bring that compassion to every community of the world, caring for the hungry, the sick and the distressed, particularly during these troubled times.

Now – we do not need to gaze up into the sky: he dwells with us, he lives in us, and is not absent – but among us for ever, among us in our homes and in our isolation today.

Who is Saint Matthias?

Digital StillCamera

How does one qualify to be an apostle?

The first act of the apostles after the Ascension of Jesus was to find a replacement for Judas Iscariot. With all the questions, doubts, and dangers facing them, they chose to focus their attention on finding a twelfth apostle. Why was this important? Twelve, was an important number to the Chosen People: twelve was the number of the twelve tribes of Israel. If the new Israel was to come from the disciples of Jesus, a twelfth apostle was needed.

But Jesus had chosen the original twelve. How could they know whom he would choose?

One hundred and twenty people were gathered for prayer and reflection in the upper room, when Peter stood up to propose the way to make the choice. Peter had one criterion, that, like Andrew, James, John and himself, the new apostle be someone who had been a disciple from the very beginning, from his baptism by John until the Ascension. The reason for this was simple, the new apostle must become a witness to Jesus’ resurrection. He must have followed Jesus before anyone knew him, stayed with him when he made enemies, and believed in him when he spoke of the cross and of eating his body — teachings that had made others melt away.

Two men fit this description — Matthias and Joseph called Barsabbas. They knew that both these men had been with them and with Jesus through his whole ministry. But which one had the heart to become a witness to his resurrection. The apostles knew that only the Lord could know what was in the heart of each. They cast lots in order to discover God’s will and Matthias was chosen. He was the twelfth apostle and the group was whole again as they waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit.

That’s the first we hear of St Matthias in Scripture, and the last. Legends like the Acts of Andrew and Matthias testify to Matthias’ enthusiastic embrace of all that being an apostle meant including evangelization, persecution, and death in the service of the Lord.

How does one qualify to be an apostle?

St Clement of Alexandria says that Matthias, like all the other apostles, was not chosen by Jesus for what he already was, but for what Jesus foresaw he would become. He was elected not because he was worthy but because he would become worthy. Jesus chooses all of us in the same way. What does Jesus want you to become?

Have you ever felt like an afterthought, a latecomer? Or have you ever resented someone new who was added to your group? Try to see your community as not complete without the newcomer, whether you or someone else. Welcome any newcomers to your parish, work, or family community this week as someone chosen by God.

Saint Matthias, pray for us and with us today.