AFGHANISTAN The Chair of the Bishops’ Conference Department of International Affairs has urged Catholics to pray for the people of Afghanistan, while pointing to the work of humanitarian organisations, and efforts to welcome refugees, as signs of hope. Bishop Declan said: “As Christians, we are called to be people of hope, even when a situation may appear hopeless. Today our hope can be placed in those who are working tirelessly for dialogue, justice, and peace in their country. Our hope can be placed in the humanitarian organisations that are continuing to offer their assistance, and the efforts to welcome and protect refugees fleeing their homes. Above all we place our hope in the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom we pray in the knowledge that he will never abandon the people of Afghanistan.” After the Angelus on Wednesday Pope Francis called for dialogue in the country: “I ask all of you to pray with me to the God of peace so that the clamour of weapons might cease and solutions can be found at the table of dialogue. Only thus can the battered population of that country – men, women, elderly and children – return to their own homes, and live in peace and security, in total mutual respect.
SPONSOR A ‘MEMORIAL’ HYMN BOOK We are looking forward to singing from our hymn books again soon. Our hymnals, however, have seen better days and are rather dirty and many of the spines are broken. Also, the present hymn books do not reflect the changes made to the translation of the Mass made in 2010. We are hoping to purchase the updated version of ‘Laudate’ our present hymn book. We are inviting parishioners to ‘sponsor’ a hymn book at the cost of £6.25 per copy. These may be given in memory of a departed loved one(s) and RIP memorial plates will be placed in each copy dedicated to that person. We then invite you each week to say a little prayer for the person in whose memory the hymn book you are using was given. Tom Miller will be coordinating the collection for us, and order sheets will be available in Church. We are hoping to purchase 100 copies and some music editions too.
SOLEMNITY OF THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY Today, we celebrate the greatest Feast of Mary, her Assumption into heaven, when the Mother of God, “having completed her course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory”. Although defined as an article of faith by Pope Pius XII just over half a century ago, the Assumption of Our Lady into heaven has been accepted from the earliest of Christian times. The Assumption signals the end of Mary’s earthly life and marks her return to heaven to be reunited with Jesus. While the bodies of both Jesus and Mary are now in heaven, there is a difference between the Assumption and the Resurrection. Whereas Jesus arose from the tomb and ascended into heaven by his own power, Mary’s body was taken up to heaven by the power of her Son. For this reason, we use different words to describe each event. One is the Ascension of Christ and the other, the Assumption of Mary. “It was fitting,” St John of Damascus (b.675) wrote in a sermon on the Assumption, “that she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death,” and “that she, who had carried the creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles.” Our Lady, assumed into heaven, pray that we may also share in the glory of Christ’s Resurrection.
FEAST OF THE TRANSFIGURATION OF THE LORD Friday 6th August, Mass at 12noon. In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up a high mountain, apart from the other apostles and disciples.There, Jesus is transfigured (changed in form and appearance) and appears in dazzling white clothes. Elijah, the great prophet, and Moses, through whom the Israelites were given the law, appear with Jesus. A cloud appears, overshadowing them, and a voice states, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Jesus charges the three to not share with anyone what they had seen “except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.” They keep their experience to themselves, pondering what Jesus meant by rising from the dead. How are we to understand the Transfiguration? The story of the Transfiguration is also proclaimed on the second Sunday of Lent—a key part of Jesus’ journey towards the Cross. The Catechism of the Catholic Church draws parallels between Jesus’ Baptism and the Transfiguration. Jesus is baptised at the start of his public ministry. His baptism proclaims the mystery of our first regeneration—we die and rise again with Christ. The “Transfiguration ‘is the sacrament of the second regeneration’: our own Resurrection (St Thomas Aquinas). From now on we share in the Lord’s Resurrection through the Spirit who acts in the sacraments of the Body of Christ.
The Transfiguration gives us a foretaste of Christ’s glorious coming, when he ‘will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body (Phil 3:21)’” (CCC no. 556). During the Prayer after Communion, we pray that God might “transform us into the likeness of your [his] Son, / whose radiant splendour you willed to make manifest / in his glorious Transfiguration.” The Collect, tells us that the mystery of the Transfiguration “prefigures our full adoption to sonship.” The Transfiguration, initially revealed to Peter, James, and John, reveals to all of us a taste of what is yet to come.
SS MARY, MARTHA & LAZARUS Pope Francis has added the memorial of Ss Mary, Martha, and Lazarus to the General Roman Calendar, giving the siblings the combined feast day of 29th July. They were added to demonstrate “the important evangelical witness they offered in welcoming the Lord Jesus into their home, in listening to him attentively, in believing that he is the resurrection and the life.” Ss Martha, Mary, and Lazarus were three siblings living in the town of Bethany outside of Jerusalem during the time of Christ.