Friday, 31 October 2008

Requiescant in Pace ...

November is traditionally dedicated to The Holy Souls when we remember especially members of our families and friends who have died as well as praying for all the Faithful Departed.

The 'Holy Souls' are called 'Holy' because they are on their way to heaven with no chance at all of failing to reach their goal.

The Holy Souls are those who have died in the state of grace but who are not yet free from all punishment due to their unforgiven venial sins and all other sins already forgiven for which satisfaction is still to be made. The Holy Souls cannot help themselves, 'because for them the night has come, where no man can work' John 9: 4

It is our special privilege as their brothers and sisters that we can shorten their time in Purgatory by our prayers, acts of charity and particularly by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

We will have an extra Mass here at St Ann's at 7.30 in the evening on Holy Souls' Day and a Mass at 7.30 pm on Friday 28th November when we remember especially all those in the parish who have died during the last year.

We will continue with Rosary and Benediction at 4pm every Sunday during November when we will pray for all the Faithful Departed.

I do hope many of you will make a special effort to come along to weekday Mass sometime during the month to pray in a special way for your own departed loved ones.

V. Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, lux perpetua luceat eis.

V. Requiescant in pace.
R. Amen.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Devotion and Reverence

When visiting some of the Nursing Homes in our parish this morning, I was struck once again by the devotion and reverence of these elderly residents. For example, one good lady whose memory is not what it once was, when I explained that I had come to offer her the Sacraments of Confession, Anointing of the Sick and Holy Communion if she wished, responded by saying, 'I've not long had my lunch, will that be all right?'

Despite her frailty, she, like many others I visit in similar circumstances, still remembers the catechesis received over 70 years ago. Reception of the Sacraments is always something very special and not to be taken casually or lightly.

I often think how much we younger people can learn from the example of our older parishioners.

Statistics, statistics, statistics ...

Amongst other things that take place annually in our Church in October we have what we call 'The Mass Count'. Every Sunday during the month we count the number of people present at Mass. This includes children and those in the sanctuary; clergy, altar servers etc. This information is collated by the Dioceses in England and Wales and is used to provide the statistics for Church attendance nationally.

It has always struck me as being a bad time to gain an accurate picture of numbers attending Mass. In this month we always have a school Half-Term holiday which invariably affects two Sundays out of the four as more and more people seem to actually go away for a holiday at Half-Term nowadays.

It is also very noticeable that there is a marked increase in attendance on the Sunday following the beginning our Catechetical programme, which sadly is not repeated on the remaining Sundays in the month. I wonder how can we get the message across that it is not only that we should be there but also that we should want to be there?

* * *
October is also the month when parish priests are approached first by parents and later by local Catholic secondary schools to provide references for the children who are moving up to secondary school.

The priest is asked to confirm that the child and his/her family are regular in their attendance at Mass and involved in parish activities.

I am of course delighted when parents opt to send their children to Catholic schools. It is right and fitting that they should do so.

If you are a committed, practising Catholic then I can see no difficulty in your child being accepted into a Catholic secondary school. I, like other parish priests in similar parishes, am of course fully aware of those in our parish who fulfill this requirement and I wish you all well in your efforts to secure a place in a suitable school for your child.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Back in the parish again ...

Sorry for the long absence from the 'blogosphere' due to a prolonged stay in Ireland.

Looking through the local paper when I was at home, I was very pleased to read that the Bishop of Elphin, Rt. Rev Christopher Jones, has spoken out about the importance of marriage.

Addressing couples celebrating various wedding anniversaries he said that the health, happiness and the stability of society into the future will depend significantly on marriage and family rooted in marriage.

He spoke about the Sacrament of Marriage,

As a Church we believe in marriage. We believe that marriage brings blessings to the couple themselves, to their family and to society. We believe in marriage because we believe in love, God's love. We believe that the love of a man and woman in marriage is a sign and symbol of God's love in our world, in our community, in our family and in our home.

We believe that every married couple who love each other are showing forth something of God's love in the home and in the community. Through the sacrament of marriage every married couple is called to show forth the love of Christ for His Church.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Ever felt like this??

It's a very busy week, and it's only Tuesday! You can certainly tell it's October; the schools are back and the parish office is a blaze of activity.

Yesterday evening we had the first session of our Confirmation programme; Baptism preparation; and an enquirer into reception into the Catholic Church. All within the space of about three hours and I managed to attend part of all three - beat that if you can!

This evening we have the first Parents' Session for our First Holy Communion programme and I'm on fire with enthusiasm.

Today is also our Parish Golf Day, a fundraiser for St Anne's School Building Fund and sadly, I will have to miss the dinner in the evening. If anyone taking part has any photos of the event please email them to the parish office and I'll put them on the blog in the next couple of days.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Confessions ...

It is one the great delights and privileges of a priest to be able to offer people the Sacrament of Penance.

Here at St Ann's, as well as the usual times for weekly Confessions on Saturday morning and evening, I am very pleased to be available for Confession after each of the Masses on the first Sunday of the month.

This time is especially helpful, I feel, as people have already come to Mass and don't need to make another extra trip to come to Confession.

It is so uplifting for me as a priest to see parishioners, including parents with their children, queueing up for Confession after Sunday Mass.

Times for Confession:

10.30 am to 11.30 am
5.00 pm to 6.00 pm

First Sunday of the month: After every Mass

And at call

Saturday, 4 October 2008

First Holy Communion Programme

Our First Holy Communion programme got off to an excellent start yesterday with a Holy Hour for Children.

It was very encouraging to see so many of our children and their parents in church responding to the invitation of Christ, 'Let the children come to me'.

As well as bringing your children to Sunday Mass which is of course 'the source and summit' of our Catholic life, it is also good to encourage them to come along to other devotions such as this.

We are looking forward this year to using a new book for our First Holy Communion programme, Jesus Comes to Me, by Dora Nash.

We used Dora Nash's book, Confirmed in the Faith, for our Confirmation programme last year and were very pleased with it so I'm sure her First Holy Communion programme will also be excellent.

October - The Month of The Rosary

October is the month of the Rosary and what a beautiful prayer Our Lady has given us.

I know many of you faithfully pray the Rosary regularly but if others of you have been given a Rosary recently (or one of your children) and you'd like to remind yourself how to pray the Rosary you'll find very good instructions here.

I do encourage you to spend a few minutes with your children, perhaps when you say your family prayers at bedtime, to help your children learn how to use their Rosary beads.

During October we have Rosary and Benediction every Sunday in church at 4 pm. I hope some of you will come along and pray for our parish.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

The Guardian Angels

'Bless the Lord, all you angels of the Lord. Sing his glory and praise forever.'
(Entrance antiphon).

Pope Clement X proclaimed the feast a memorial celebration in the seventeenth century, but devotion goes back to the beginning of Christianity. God has allocated a Guardian Angel to each of us for our protection.

Sacred Scripture says this: 'Are they not all ministering spirits, sent for service, for the sake of those who shall inherit salvation'. (Heb 1:14)

Many saints and holy people enjoyed friendship with their Guardian Angels, whose intercession they frequently sought.

St Josemaria Escriva had a particular devotion to the Guardian Angels; it was exactly on the Feast the Lord let him clearly see the founding of Opus Dei and through this foundation the universal call to holiness would echo throughout the world.

Today let us reaffirm our devotion to our Guardian Angel since we are all in much need of him.

Angel of God, My Guardian Dear,
to whom God's love commits me here.

Ever this day be at my side,
to light and guard and rule and guide.


Wednesday, 1 October 2008

New students at the Pontifical Irish College in Rome

I am delighted to see that the Holy Father has welcomed the new students at the Pontifical Irish College in Rome and greeted them in his Wednesday Audience.

"I offer a warm welcome to the new students of the Pontifical Irish College. May your priestly formation in the Eternal City prepare you to be generous and faithful servants of God’s People in your native land."

You may remember that I posted a photo of my old college on the blog a while ago when I managed to make a brief visit during my flying trip to Rome back in June.

Please keep the students in your prayers as they begin their period of formation in Rome. Please remember also the students of our own Diocese as they begin another year's formation at St John's Seminary, Wonersh.