Monday, 27 April 2009

A Walsingham Prayer Book . . .

I am very grateful to Family Publications for asking me to review this lovely book.

For about a thousand years people have been making their journey to England’s National Shrine of Our Lady.

This beautiful prayer book is suitable for personal use, for a family or for pilgrimage groups. In it you will find popular prayers, litanies and hymns which are associated with devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham.

John Paul II writing on Our Lady said, ‘We need to live as she did, in the presence of God, raising our minds and hearts to him in our daily activities and worries.’

I believe it will inspire devotion to Our Lady who always leads us to her Son.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

On retreat . . .

As you can see, I've now started my retreat at the Lismullin Conference Centre, Navan, Co. Meath.

As Pope Benedict himself says, it is very important for priests to take time out now and again to spend a concentrated period of time in prayer and reflection so that we may be more effective in our ministry to those we are called to serve:

"We cannot bring to the world the Good News, which is Christ himself in person, if we ourselves are not deeply united with Christ, if we do not know him profoundly, personally, if we do not live by his Word."
Pope Benedict XVI, after his own retreat, 11th March 2006.

I offered Mass today for everyone at St Ann's.

I thought you might like to see some photos of the retreat centre, especially the beautiful Oratory which I showed you on this blog during my retreat here last year. You might also be interested in the time-table of the Retreat for Priests this week.

Making a retreat, even if just 'withdrawing from the world' for a day, or part of a day, is not just something for the clergy. I hope some of you who have never experienced a retreat might be encouraged to try it yourself. There are many places available not too far away which welcome lay people for a day's retreat, a weekend or longer. They are often publicised in our parish newsletter and on our noticeboards.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Easter at St Ann's

It was a delight and a privilege to welcome Stewart and David into Full Communion with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil, along with Melissa and Elio who received the sacrament of Confirmation and Greer who made her First Holy Communion - we were just missing a Baptism!

It's rather long but the slideshow below gives a flavour of our Easter celebrations here at St Ann's this year.

Wishing you Easter Blessings and Joy.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Holy Thursday and Good Friday

Our Altar of Repose.

Taken at midnight last night after the Blessed Sacrament had been transferred to the sacristy.

'This is the wood of the cross, on which hung the Saviour of the world.

Come, let us worship.'

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Anointing of my hands . . .

The bishop anoints the palms of the new priest's hands with the oil of chrism.

'The Father anointed our Lord Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. May Jesus preserve you to sanctify the Christian people and to offer sacrifice to God.'

Mass in thanksgiving - Friday 5th June at 7pm

followed by a reception in the parish hall.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Dixit Dominus . . .

Dixit Dominus . . . Tu es sacerdos in aeternum secundum ordinem Melchizedek ...

The Lord said, . . . ' You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.'

On Wednesday evening, the clergy of our diocese will gather at Arundel Cathedral before Bishop Kieran to renew the promises they made at ordination. This is a wonderful occasion for priests and followed by Holy Thursday when we celebrate the institution of the Blessed Eucharist and we are reminded, by his own example, of Christ's commandment to serve one another. One of the priest's function is to serve his people.

All of these events remind me of the Holy Father's announcement that there will be a Year of the Priest beginning on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on 19th June 2009 with a day of sanctification of priests and closing with a World Meeting of Priests in St Peter's Square, Rome on 19th June 2010.

This jubilee year also celebrates the 150th anniversary of the death of St Jean-Marie Vianney, patron saint of parish priests, described by Pope Benedict as a 'true example of a priest at the service of his flock.' The Holy Father will declare him as patron saint, not just of parish priests but of all priests.

The Holy Father in declaring the Year of the Priest said,

'The priest must be present, identifiable and recognisable - for their judgement of faith, personal virtue and attire - in the fields of culture and of charity which have always been at the heart of the Church's mission.'

He also said that,

'The centrality of Christ leads to a a correct valuation of priestly ministry, without which there would be no Eucharist, no mission, not even the Church.'

How fitting that in this Year of Priests I will celebrate 10 years of priesthood on 4th June. I shall offer Mass in thanksgiving followed by a reception for the parish in the hall afterwards. More details to follow.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

On this day the Church celebrates Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem to complete the Paschal Mystery.

We had a large crowd at our 10 O'clock Mass today and were blessed with beautiful sunshine for our procession. The choir sang beautifully. Unfortunately we didn't manage to record their singing so the slide-show has a soundtrack of the same hymn that we sang, All Glory, Laud and Honour, taken from The Catholic Mass Revealed (available from the CTS)

Friday, 3 April 2009

New Archbishop-elect for Westminster ...

It has been announced today that Archbishop Vincent Nichols has been appointed as the new Archbishop-elect of Westminster. Here is an extract from the press release:

Pope Benedict XVI appoints Archbishop Vincent Nichols as new Archbishop of Westminster

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has today appointed the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, who has been Archbishop of Birmingham since March 2000, as the next Archbishop of Westminster.

Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor as Archbishop of Westminster. The Cardinal will now become the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Westminster until Archbishop Nichols is installed at Westminster Cathedral on Thursday, 21 May 2009. Until then, Archbishop Nichols will remain in Birmingham. ...

Let us all keep Archbishop Vincent Nichols in our prayers as he takes on this important role as head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

Looking for a good book to buy someone for Easter?

My thanks are due to Family Publications for asking me to review Fr Francis Selman’s book, The Sacraments and the Mystery of Christ.’

The book is divided into two parts, the first part, an introduction to the sacraments, gives a general overview of the sacraments and their role in the life of the Church; and the second part devotes a chapter to each of the seven sacraments.

Fr Francis demonstrates how the sacraments are the means by which each of us in incorporated into the life of the Church and ultimately into the life of the Blessed Trinity. There are references to recent papal teaching, the Fathers of the Church and the thinking of St Thomas Aquinas.

This book is ideal for anyone who wishes to deepen their knowledge and understanding of their faith; it provides relevant material for parish catechists and for priests who wish to preach about the sacraments.

The Sacraments and the Mystery of Christ is very reasonably priced at £9.96 and available from Family Publications.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Christ's Passion . . .

In the remaining days of Lent we come ever closer to the fundamental mystery of our faith, namely the Resurrection of the Lord. During these days we should take time to accompany Jesus in our prayers, along his painful road to Calvary culminating in his Crucifixion and death. We should not forget, as we walk with him, that we too were part of the 'crowd' in all those horrors for, 'He was bearing our faults in his own body on the Cross.' (1 Peter 2: 24)

This custom of meditating on our Lord's Passion began in the early days of Christianity. the Evangelists have dedicated a great part of their writings to it and have given vivid accounts of the events.

St Thomas Aquinas wrote that 'The Passion of Christ is enough to serve as a guide and model throughout our lives.' St Thomas - About the Church. Once, when St Thomas visited St Bonaventure, he asked how he had gained such sound doctrine as the one he had set out in his works. St Bonaventure showed him a crucifix, which was blackened with the kisses he had given it, and explaining said, 'This is the book that tells me what I should write; the little I know I have learned from it.' (St Alphonsus Liguori, Meditations on Christ's Passion). Looking at the crucifix the saints learned how to suffer and truly love our Lord.

The Passion of our Lord should be a regular theme in our daily prayer and we should always carry a crucifix on our person. St Josemaria writing in 'The Way' said, 'As a Christian, you should always carry a crucifix with you. And place it on your desk. And kiss it before going to bed and when you wake up; and when your poor body rebels against your soul, kiss it again.'

By meditating on our Lord's Passion we will receive many rewards; firstly, it will help us to detest all sin, since 'He was wounded for our sins.' (Isaiah 53:5); secondly, we will grow in love for our Lord; and thirdly, it is in our Lord's suffering that we find proof of His immense love for us.

Let us ask Our Lady of Sorrows to draw us ever closer to her Son and to show us how to meditate on His sufferings which won for us our salvation.
Our Lady of Sorrows,
pray for us.