Sunday, 30 November 2008

The Advent Wreath

Today we lit the first candle in our Advent wreath. There are many traditions associated with the Advent wreath.

In Catholic churches, three of the candles are purple and one is rose. The purple candles symbolise faith expectation, and the rose candle symbolises joy and hope. These colours mirror the colour of the priest's vestments used during the Sundays of Advent.
In earlier times, the season of Advent had stronger penitential and ascetic aspects, and a relaxation of disciplines was offered on the third Sunday of Advent called Gaudete Sunday, from the Latin for 'rejoice', the first words of the Introit.
Many people have an Advent wreath at home and it is a lovely thing to do, to light a candle on each Sunday of Advent and say a prayer together as a family.

Friday, 28 November 2008

I am the Resurrection and the Life ....

"I am the resurrection and the life.
If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live,
and whoever lives and believes in me will never die" (John 11:25-26).

Amidst the pain and sorrow of death these words from St John's Gospel give us hope. We trust in God's love and mercy.

Why do Catholics pray for the dead?

In the Creed we profess our faith in the Communion of Saints. This means that all the baptised, alive or dead, belong to each other. As such we are part of that great wheel of prayer which is the Catholic Church. The living pray for the souls in Purgatory; the Saints in glory pray for all of us. One for all and all for one. Of course the highest form of prayer, be it for the living or for the dead, is the Holy Mass offered for them, with, in and through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Those of us on earth can help those in the process of Purgatory by our prayers. God invites us to help them by sharing in His work of saving the human race. What a great privilege to have such a chance to love and serve. We read in the 2nd Book of Maccabees,

“It is a good and holy thing to pray for the dead that they may be released from their sins.”

(II Maccabees 12: 44-45).

This evening we celebrated our annual Mass for those who have died during the year and it was good to see it so well attended. After Mass many stayed on to chat over a cup of tea or coffee in our parish hall. It is good to have this opportunity to get together and support one another in this way. I am grateful to our parish Bereavement Support Group who kindly helped in the hall after Mass and who also offer a similar opportunity for the bereaved get together for mutual support over a cup of coffee after Mass on a regular basis throughout the year.

God's Word is for All Time ...

As we approach the end of the Church's Year we meditate on Our Lord's words from today's Gospel,

"Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away."

These words are for all, for every human being that will walk the face of the earth. Because God's message is divine it cannot be limited to constraints of place and time. The instructions and teachings of Our Lord are 'modern' and 'up to date.'

We must never turn the pages of Sacred Scripture as if it were any old book.

"When you open the Holy Gospel, think of what is written there - the words and deeds of Christ - it is something that you should not only know, but live. Take up the Gospel every day, then, and read it and live it as a definite rule. This is what the Saints have done." (St Josemaría Escrivá - The Forge.)

Monday, 24 November 2008

The Gift That Pleased Jesus

In the Gospel of today's Mass Jesus tells the parable of 'the poverty-stricken widow' who put two small coins into the treasury.

He saw the rich making their contribution but Jesus comments that 'they contributed money they had left over.'

Of the poor woman's contribution, Jesus says, 'I tell you truly, this poor widow has put in all she had to live on.'

Our Lord was so pleased by the generosity of the poor widow that He wanted to tell his disciples, 'Then he called his disciples and said to them, 'In truth this poor woman has put more than all who have contributed to the treasury, for they have put in money they could spare'. (Mark 12: 43)

We must not be afraid to be generous; there may be many times we have to sacrifice things that SEEM necessary; but really how few things are truly necessary?

What is Our Lord asking from me today?

What is stopping Him from coming closer to me?

Sunday, 23 November 2008

A Very Busy Sunday ...

Today was an especially busy Sunday. The 6pm Mass today was full of young people - marvellous! As well as celebrating the Solemnity of Christ the King and National Youth Sunday it was also the 'Inscription Mass' for our new Confirmation candidates when they make a commitment to the programme and to developing in their understanding and practice of their faith.

It was also the time to present Confirmation certificates to our young people who were confirmed with others in our Deanery at Epsom earlier in the year.

Two very joyful 'tasks'.

In addition we also welcomed other local Christians to this Mass as part of our ongoing commitment to cooperation and fellowship with members of the Banstead Five Churches.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

The Last Wedding of the Year ...

Today in the parish I celebrated the last wedding of 2008. As I've said several times before, I do enjoy celebrating Weddings and Baptisms.

Weddings in particular, remind us that Marriage is at the heart of our Catholic family life. This naturally leads on to the Sacrament of Baptism; Marriage lays the foundations of a loving environment in which to bring up children. There is no better place for children to grow and develop than in the loving care of two married parents, a mother and a father.

We wish Kathryn and Martin every happiness in the years to come. May God bless them and their family.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Christian Duty ...

I was very moved when reading the following from the Office of Readings this morning which comes from a homily of a second-century author:

Let us repent then with all our heart so that none of us may be lost. It is our duty as Christians to rescue people from idolatry and to instruct them in the faith but it is even more important that those who already know God should not perish. Let us collaborate in helping those whose faith is weak so that by our mutual advice and example we may all be saved.

A reminder that as part of our preparation during Advent we should all continue to encourage and support one another in our faith and, most importantly, take the opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Confession.

Our own parish Reconciliation Service will be at 7.30 pm on Friday 12th December. Most parishes in our Deanery will also have a similar service to which all are welcome. Details will be in the newsletter very soon.

It is the responsibility of each one of us to witness to our faith whenever we can; to those in our homes, places of work, schools or wherever. Remember we receive a great grace when we enable others to return to the practice of their faith.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Mass for Deceased Clergy and Religious of the Deanery

Tomorrow morning the clergy and religious of Epsom Deanery meet together in Dorking for the annual Mass for the deceased clergy and religious of our Deanery. It is always a good thing to get together for the celebration of Mass. We also have a brief meeting about Deanery matters and an exchange of views.

I'm sure we'll also enjoy some 'famous Dorking hospitality' after the Mass!

Requiescant in pace. Amen

Friday, 7 November 2008

Another new book for your Christmas list ...

This morning's post brought with it a review copy of another delightful book from Family Publications.

Entitled, 'Nativity, A visual meditation', the book is very well presented with beautiful illustrations accompanying the meditations and prayers. The book is based on the fifteenth-century painting The Nativity by Robert Campin.

An ideal book for Advent and Christmas for anyone looking for a focus for their spiritual preparation for Christmas, and very reasonably priced at £8.95. You can order the book from Family Publications

Mass at St Anne's School on the First Friday of the month ...

I was delighted to celebrate Mass at our parish primary school of St Anne's this morning, the First Friday of the Month, in honour of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

It was very encouraging to see so many children, parents, members of staff and governors who had come to Mass at 8 O'clock in the morning. What better way to start the school day!

The numbers were so great that sadly some people had to stand outside. Fortunately we were blessed with fine weather today.

I look forward to my return visit to the school for Mass on the First Friday of next month, 5th December.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

A visit from Joanna Bogle ...

I was delighted to welcome the well-known Catholic writer and broadcaster, Joanna Bogle, to the parish yesterday evening to speak with our First Holy Communion Parents about the Sacrament of Confession.

Joanna spoke of the desire God has planted in human hearts to seek forgiveness; she reminded us that no sin is 'too big' to be forgiven so long as we show sorrow for our sins.

Our children are very aware of the difference between what is 'right and what is 'wrong'. She stressed the importance of leading children by example; reiterating that celebrating the Sacrament of Confession is a' good exercise' to do as a family. It is important to confess our sins regularly though also very good to come together during Advent and Lent for a parish celebration of the Sacrament.

Joanna continued with this good advice: The priest will always help the penitent, remember that NOTHING shocks him.

The talk was well received by the parents; some commented that they would have liked to have had an opportunity to make their Confession immediately after the talk. I must remember that for next time!