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.
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”.
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 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 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
Organ Donation: A brief guide for Catholics
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
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
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
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:
• Information and resources regarding the Catholic perspective on organ
• 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
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.
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.
The Stations of the Resurrection
Many of us cherish the Stations of the Cross during Lent. Here is a similar meditation for Eastertide based on the Resurrection appearances. You might like to pray the stations of the Resurrection at home.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit – Amen
‘For we have grown into union with Christ through a death like His, we shall also be
united with Him in the resurrection….If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall live with Him….Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as being dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus: (Romans 6: 5, 7, 11).
Let us walk this pilgrimage of faith, the Via Lucis, as daughters and sons of the light and as witnesses of the Risen Lord. Let us meditate upon the resurrection of Christ and discover the pathway of light that Christ blazes through our lives.
Jesus Rises from the Dead
We adore You, O Christ and we praise You! Because by the Wood of the Cross and the Light of the Resurrection, You have redeemed the world!
“The angel of the Lord said to the women: ‘Do not be afraid! I know that you are
seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for He has been raised just as He said.”
(Matthew 28: 5b-6a).
On the first day of the week, at the dawning of the new creation, Jesus arose from the
dead. No one saw the event, yet like the apostles, we are called to be witnesses of this central faith event. The light and power of Christ’s death and resurrection has become the pattern for our living. May we recognize Christ’s dying and rising in our midst.
This is the day, Lord God, that You have made! Raising Christ from the dead, and raising us with Christ, You have fashioned for Yourself a new people. As we hear the word that brings salvation, make our hearts burn within us. Through the presence of every friend and stranger, reveal to us the face of the One who had first to suffer, but who has entered now into glory, Jesus Christ, our Passover and our Peace, living and reigning with You, forever and ever. Amen.
The Disciples Discover the Empty Tomb
We adore You, O Christ and we praise You!
Because by the Wood of the Cross and the Light of the Resurrection,You have redeemed
Reading: “Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb
first, and he saw and believed” (John 20: 8).
The empty tomb was not a proof of the resurrection, but rather a silent witness of the
greatest event of our faith. Seeing the empty tomb, the disciples were motivated to
seek the Risen Lord at work in their midst. They saw and believed in the continuing
presence of the Lord of love. All the empty and lonely places of human life are precisely where the Lord wishes to work and be revealed.
God our Father, creator of all, today is the day of overwhelming joy. The Lord appeared to those who had begun to lose hope and opened their eyes to what the Scriptures foretold: that first He must die and then rise. May the Risen Lord breathe on our minds and open our eyes that we may know Him in the breaking of bread, and follow Him in His risen life. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Risen Lord Appears to Mary Magdalen, Apostle to the Apostles
We adore You, O Christ and we praise You! Because by the Wood of the Cross ……
“She turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to
her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?’ She thought He was
the gardener and said to Him, ‘Sir, if you carried Him away, tell me where you laid Him, and I will take Him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni,’ which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, ‘Stop holding on to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to My brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.’ Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord,’ and what He told her” (John 20: 14b-18).
In the fourth gospel, Mary Magdalen is given the mission to carry the good news of the resurrection to the apostles and the disciples. Mary had been in the company of Jesus and His followers, and is given the privilege to announce the hope of new life. She is known over the centuries as “the apostle to the Apostles.” Jesus called her by name, gave her the eyes of faith, and called her to give a unique personal witness to her friends in the faith community.
God our Father, You will that all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of Your truth. Send workers into Your great harvest that the Gospel may be preached to every creature. May Your people, gathered together by the word of life and strengthened by the power of the sacraments, advance in the way of salvation. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Risen Lord Appears on the Road to Emmaus
We adore You, O Christ and we praise You! Because by the Wood of the Cross ……..
“…It happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus Himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him…. And He said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into His glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He interpreted to them what referred to Him in all the scriptures” (Luke 24: 15, 25-27).
The Emmaus road is the story of the Christian life. These disciples were walking away
from Jerusalem and the apostolic faith community in defeat and dejection. They had lost hope. We too, have moments of despair and desolation. The Risen Lord Jesus
accompanies us along the road, even when we are moving in the wrong direction. Only the Lord can “break open” the Word in order to help us understand the stories of our lives, especially suffering, and read them in harmony with the pattern of the Scriptures. Only the Lord can rekindle our energy and our resolve to devote ourselves to what is most important in life.
Lord God, as disciples on our pilgrimage, we implore Jesus Christ: stay with us, Lord.
Open our hearts to true conversion and, as we have known the Lord in the breaking of the bread, so make us witnesses of a new humanity, renewed, reconciled and at peace in Your love. Send us as heralds of the repentance and forgiveness You offer to all in the name of Jesus, who lives and reigns with You, forever and ever. Amen.
The Risen Lord is Recognised in the Breaking of the Bread
We adore You, O Christ and we praise You! Because ……..
” …They urged Him, ‘Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.’
So He went in to stay with them. And it happened that while He was with them at table, He took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that, their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, but He vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while He spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us'” (Luke 24: 29-32).
The encounter on the road leads to the table, the breaking of the bread and the total gift of self. Recognition of the Risen Lord is always linked with the Eucharist. At the heart of our Christian life is this meal of Word and Eucharist which we celebrate every Sunday. The Risen Lord presides over all our journeys, wishing to set our hearts on fire in generous service to all people in need, near and far. The gift we have received is the gift we share. Humbly, we set out on the various roads of our lives to respond to all the hungers of the human family.
You are truly blessed, O God of holiness: You accompany us with love as we journey
through life. Blessed too, is Your Son, Jesus Christ, who is present among us, and whose love gathers us together. As once He did for His disciples, Christ now opens the Scriptures for us and breaks the bread. May the Eucharist we celebrate guide us to the fullness of Christ’s life. We pray in the power of Christ’s Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.
The Risen Lord Appears to the Community of Disciples
We adore You, O Christ and we praise You! Because …….
“‘Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Touch Me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have,’ And as He said this, He showed them His hands and His feet” (Luke 24: 38-40).
The disciples on the road to Emmaus quickly returned to the other disciples in Jerusalem with “burning hearts.” Their despair had been reversed and they were eager to convince the others that Jesus was alive. Jesus the Christ is always eager to gather the community of disciples at the table of faith and to show them that He has risen with His wounds glorified. All our wounds will one day be glorified. We seek to understand how the Risen Lord invites us to be “wounded healers,” recognizing now that the Lord desires us to be ambassadors of reconciliation, while we ourselves are being forgiven and healed.
God of unchanging power and light, look with favor and mercy on the entire community of Your Church. Bring lasting salvation to the human family, so that the world may see the fallen lifted up, the old made new, and all things brought to perfection, through Him who is our origin, our Lord Jesus Christ who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.
The Risen Lord Breathes Peace and Gives the Power to Forgive
We adore You, O Christ and we praise You! Because ……..
Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you’… The
disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained'” (John 20: 19b, 20b-23).
Even though the doors of the Upper Room were bolted shut, the Risen Lord pierced
through all fear and united the hearts of the disciples with the gift of peace. Deep inner peace is the root and source of the peace and joy that the world cannot give. The Risen Lord calls us to seek peace always through a non-violent commitment to conflict resolution and thus transform the world, relationship by relationship.
God of perfect peace, violence and cruelty can have no part of You. May those who are at peace with one another hold fast to the good will that unites them; may those who are enemies forget their hatred and be healed. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Risen Lord Strengthens the Faith of Thomas
We adore You, O Christ and we praise You! Because ….
“Thomas…was not with them when Jesus came…. Thomas said, ‘Unless I see the mark
of the nails in His hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into His side, I will not believe’…Jesus came…and stood in their midst and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see My hands, and bring your hand and put it into My side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe’…Blessed are those who do not see and yet believe.” (John 20: 24-29).
The story of Thomas is important because it is through Thomas’ example that we realise that doubt can be a part of faith. Too easily we call him “Doubting Thomas,” and forgetting that after examining the nail marks, he fully embraced the Risen One as his Lord and Saviour. Thomas’ doubt was transformed into a lively faith. We too, are called to believe, knowing full well that our faith may be tested by doubt and fear. As disciples who desire an ever-deeper faith, we are patient and understanding with those who are struggling, searching and seeking like Thomas.
Heavenly Father and God of mercy, we no longer look for Jesus among the dead, for He is alive and has become the Lord of life. From the waters of death You raise us up with Him and renew Your gift of life within us. Increase in our minds and hearts the risen life we share with Christ and help us to grow as Your people toward the fullness of eternal life with You. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Risen Lord Eats with the Disciples on the Shore of Tiberias
We adore You, O Christ and we praise You! Because by…….
“Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish you just caught.’ So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, ‘Come, have breakfast.’ And none of His disciples dared to ask Him, ‘Who are You?’ because they realised it was the Lord” (John 21: 10-12).
After the crucifixion, the apostles returned to their former way of life. Out on the familiar Sea of Galilee, these expert fishers find themselves ineffective and baffled because not even a single fish was caught. From the shore, the Risen Lord guides them and directs their nets until they are filled to overflowing. As He prepares breakfast for them, He nourishes their hearts and promises them that they can also be fed by making disciples in His name. He calls them to an entirely new way of fishing—fishing for people.
Father in heaven, author of all truth, a people once in darkness has listened to Your
Word and followed Your Son as He rose from the tomb. Hear the prayer of this newborn people and strengthen Your Church to answer Your call. May we rise and come forth into the light of day to stand in Your presence until eternity dawns. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Risen Lord Forgives Peter and Entrusts Him to Feed His Sheep
We adore You, O Christ and we praise You! Because by ……
“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do
you love Me more than these?’… Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ and he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know everything, You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep…. Follow Me’ ” (John 21: 15, 17b, 19b).
The Risen Lord directs His attention to Peter whose embarrassing three-fold denial was still ringing in his heart. The questions posed by Jesus help Peter to find reconciliation and to embrace his new mission to tend and feed the sheep. Their encounter reminds us that forgiveness is always available, even for the most serious of mistakes we can make. This warm embrace of forgiveness strengthens our resolve to be reconcilers and healers in the Spirit of Jesus. Only love can overcome guilt and deception. Only love and forgiveness can make us whole.
Father, fill our hearts with the fire of Your love and the desire to ensure justice for our
brothers and sisters. By sharing the good things You give us, may we secure justice and equality for every human being, an end to all division, and a human society built on love and peace. Grant this through Christ our Lord.
The Risen Lord Sends the Disciples into the World
We adore You, O Christ and we praise You! Because by ……
“‘Go therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age'”
(Matthew 28: 19-20).
From the mountaintop, the Risen Lord gives the “Great Commission” to the disciples to reach out to the ends of the earth. We realize that we are the recipients of this faithfilled mission: our ancestors embraced the faith of the apostles, who were the original witnesses of the resurrection. The greatest response we can give to such a legacy is our dedication to a new evangelization of our contemporary culture. We must allow the Risen Lord to reinvigorate our whole way of living, helping us to re-evaluate every aspect of our lives with the values of the Kingdom of God.
God of all creation, whose mighty power raised Jesus from the dead, be present to this community of disciples whom You have called to the hope of a glorious inheritance among the saints. Strengthen us in the power of the Spirit to go and make disciples of all nations, to obey everything that Jesus Christ has commanded us, and to know that He is with us always until the end of the age, interceding on our behalf, living and reigning with You in the power of the Holy Spirit, now and forevermore. Amen.
The Risen Lord Ascends into Heaven
We adore You, O Christ and we praise You! Because by ……
“So then the Lord Jesus, after He spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took His seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs” (Mark 16: 19-20).
The Scriptures do not portray the Ascension as a day of sadness. While still looking up at the skies, the disciples were consoled by the continuing presence of the Lord. They return to the familiar surroundings of the Upper Room, with Mary, the mother of the Lord, to pray in anticipation of their mission. In this “original novena,” we continue to implore the Risen Lord to be the center of our lives and to keep us focused as a jubilant pilgrim people.
Eternal God, clothe us now with Your power. With the eyes of our hearts enlightened,
may we come to understand the immeasurable greatness of Your power at work in us who believe. In that strength, may we boldly pronounce the Good News of our salvation to everyone. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Mary and the Disciples Keep Vigil in the Upper Room for the Spirit’s Advent
We adore You, O Christ and we praise You! Because by …..
“When they entered the city, they went to the upper room where they were staying….
All [the apostles] devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some
women, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, and His brothers” (Acts 1: 13a, 14).
Throughout the history of the Church, there have been apostolic movements dedicated to prayerful contemplation, and others resulting in transforming action. As we have crossed the threshold into a new millennium, we look to the “Upper Room” as a symbolic place where we return over and over again, so that we can become “contemplatives in action.” As persons who are both prayerful and energetic in service to the Gospel, we must always keep vigil for the advent of the Risen Lord, with the flame of faith alive in our hearts. Only the Lord can refresh our spirits and renew us in the ministries that flow from our Baptism and Confirmation.
Father most holy, see Your Church gathered here in prayerful worship like the first
disciples and Mary in the Upper Room. Grant that we may accomplish, in the joy of the Holy Spirit, all that You give us to do in the world. May we gladly share in Christ’s
sufferings so as to rejoice when His glory is revealed. We ask this through Christ our
The decent of the Holy Spirit
We adore You, O Christ and we praise You! Because by…..
“… Suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim” (Acts 2: 2-4).
The power of the Holy Spirit drives the disciples from the Upper Room into the streets and marketplace. The Spirit compels them to take the message everywhere, in places familiar and unfamiliar, not stopping until they reach the ends of the world. We have been clothed with the same Spirit. We are called to be evangelizers and witnesses, near and far, wherever we go. The Spirit always goes before us, preparing the way and strengthening our hearts to be generous servants of the Risen Lord who ever guides us. Pentecost is an enduring and continuing event. We implore the Holy Spirit to renew the face of the earth by renewing us.
Father in heaven, through this spiritual journey, You have reminded us of the fullness of the mystery of Your revealed love. See Your people gathered in prayer, open to receive the Spirit’s flame. May it come to rest in our hearts and disperse the divisions of word and tongue. With one voice and one song, may we praise Your name in joy and thanksgiving. Grant this through Christ our Lord, and in the power of the Spirit, both now and forevermore. Amen.
Reading: ” … Jesus Himself, through them, sent forth from east to west the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. Amen” (Mark 16:8, the Shorter Ending)
Through the Via Lucis, we have shared our pilgrim journey with the Risen Lord. As
servants and witnesses of Christ, let us now pray in the way our Saviour taught us:
Lord, may everything we do, begin with Your inspiration, continue with Your help, and
reach perfection under Your guidance. We ask this through Christ, our Risen Lord.
Victory in Europe Day marks the day, towards the end of World War Two, when fighting against Nazi Germany came to an end on the continent. Over the May Bank Holiday weekend, three days of commemorative events were due to take place to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day. Restrictions to contain COVID-19 have changed the shape of how we celebrate the contribution of those who fought with such courage for our freedom. Bishop Paul Mason, the Catholic Bishop of the Forces, said he recognises something of the war-time community spirit and solidarity in today’s very different battle: “It’s an ironic twist of fate that our VE Day celebration of victory and liberation should find us both embattled and locked down. How readily we have seen in these days, however, that same spirit of determination and pulling together of our forebears in World War Two.
“Although we are not able to mark the 75th anniversary as planned, I am sure it will not stop us from remembering them, thanking them and celebrating the courage of all those who bought our freedom at such cost. We pray for them and ask God to inspire us with that same sense of sacrifice in our own lives. “May they all rest in peace.”
From the Act of Commitment for Peace
Lord God our Father,
we pledge ourselves to serve you and all humankind, in the cause of peace,
for the relief of want and suffering,
and for the praise of your name.
Guide us by your Spirit;
give us wisdom;
give us courage;
give us hope;
and keep us faithful now and always.
A Message from the Metropolitan Archbishops of the Catholic Church in England and Wales
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, The radiance of the risen Lord shines upon us. At a time when so many shadows are cast into our lives, and upon our world, the light of the resurrection shines forever to renew and restore our hope. In the words of our Holy Father, Pope Francis: ‘In the midst of isolation when we are suffering from a lack of tenderness and chances to meet up, and we experience the loss of so many things, let us once again listen to the proclamation that saves us: he is risen and is living by our side.’ (27 March 2020) The impact of Covid-19, both nationally and internationally, has been immense. So much of what we take for granted has changed. Our health and physical interaction, our capacity to travel and gather, have all been affected. There is uncertainty in our future, especially with work and the country’s economy. As we know, very sadly, large numbers of people have died because of the coronavirus, and others have been or remain seriously ill. Keyworkers, not least in the National Health Service and care sectors, are serving selflessly to sustain the life of our nation. Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone who is suffering because of Covid-19, and to all those battling to overcome its effects. May those who have died rest in peace and those who are bereaved find comfort. When the Prime Minister announced the lockdown, this included places of worship and therefore Catholic churches. These measures were put in place to stem the general transmission of the virus. It is right that the Catholic community fulfils its role in contributing to the preservation of life and the common good of society. This must continue until the restrictions applied by the Government are lifted. None of us would want to be in the situation in which we find ourselves. While the live-streaming of the Mass and other devotions is playing an important part in maintaining the life of faith, there is no substitute for Catholics being able to physically attend and participate in the celebration of the Mass and the other sacraments. Our faith is expressed powerfully and beautifully though ‘seeing, touching, and tasting.’ We know that every bishop and every priest recognises the pain of Catholics who, at present, cannot pray in church or receive the sacraments. This weighs heavily on our hearts. We are deeply moved by the Eucharistic yearning expressed by so many members of the faithful. We thank you sincerely for your love for the Lord Jesus, present in the sacraments and supremely so in the Holy Sacrifice 2 of the Mass. The bishops and priests of every diocese are remembering you and your loved ones at Mass each day in our churches as we pray ‘in hope of health and wellbeing.’ We thank our priests for this faithfulness to their calling. As the Government’s restrictions are relaxed step by step, we look forward to opening our churches and resuming our liturgical, spiritual, catechetical and pastoral life step by step. This will also be of service to those beyond the Catholic Church who depend on our charitable activity and outreach through which much goodness is shared by so many volunteers from our communities. None of us knows, as yet, how or when the lockdown will end. There is likely to be a phased return to travelling and gathering. As a church, we are now planning for this time and our discussions with the statutory public health agencies and Government representatives are ongoing. Together with Catholics across England and Wales we desire the opening of our churches and access to the sacraments. Until then, we are continuing to pray and prepare. We want to acknowledge with gratitude the service of our fellow bishops and priests, our deacons and religious, our families and lay faithful, together with all our parish and school communities, for the wonderful ways the life of the faith is being nourished at this time, especially in the home. We also pay tribute to the Catholic organisations and networks that are working to support the vulnerable and needy. On that first Easter day, the disciples were in lockdown and the doors were closed. In their isolation the Lord Jesus came among them and said ‘Peace be with you.’ May the peace of the risen Lord reign in our hearts and homes as we look forward to the day we can enter church again and gather around the altar to offer together the Sacrifice of Praise. We unite in asking the intercession of Our Blessed Lady and assure you of our prayers and blessing Yours devotedly in Christ, ✠ Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster ✠ Malcolm McMahon OP, Archbishop of Liverpool ✠ Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham ✠ George Stack, Archbishop of Cardiff ✠ John Wilson, Archbishop of Southwark