Saturday, 30 May 2009

Veni Creator Spiritus . . .

'When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all gathered in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.' (Acts 2:1-2)

In Sacred Scripture 'fire' appears as love which penetrates everything as a purifying agent. Fire too produces light and signifies the new brightness which the Holy Spirit brings.

The coming of the Holy Spirit on that first Pentecost day was not a one-off unrelated event in the Church's life; the Holy Spirit sanctifies the Church continually.

In the Old Testament the action of the Holy Spirit is often referred to as 'breath'. This expresses the gentleness and strength of divine love; wind we know, manages to penetrate everywhere.

The wind of the day of Pentecost expresses the new force with which divine love permeates the Church.

Since we decide to have a deeper relationship with the Holy Spirit, there is nothing so effective and necessary as a close relationship with Our Blessed Lady.

'The Apostles, with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary, the Mother of Jesus.'

We pray on this Day of Pentecost,

'Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.'

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Parish Pilgrimage - Final Day . . .

There is not much time for blogging today. After breakfast we set off for the Basilica of St Paul's Outside the Walls once more for our final Mass together in Rome in St Benedict's Chapel and from there on to the airport for our flight home.

Luckily I was able to set up this video before we left Banstead. It really is the ideal way to finish this little pilgrimage report. For those of you who would prefer to hear it in Italian please follow the link here.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Day 5 - just for fun . . .

Well, I'm sure you all know the saying. 'When in Rome . . . ' I couldn't resist taking a photo of this little sports car. (It makes a change from all the photos of churches and eating!) It's the only way to travel in Rome.

I think I might make the owner an offer - it would be just the job for nipping around Banstead!

More on Day 5 . . .

It was a great joy and privilege to be able to offer Holy Mass in St Peter's Basilica and to be given permission to do so in the Crypt Chapel near the the tomb of Pope John Paul II is even more special.

Of course one can't just stroll in and begin to say Mass. Here is the letter requesting permission to do so which thankfully was given. Many thanks to our tour leader, Anthony Coles, for arranging this for us.

I know you need good eyesight to read it but I thought you might find it interesting anyway.

UPDATE: This video was meant to appear today. I hope you enjoy it now although it is a bit late.

Just a shot showing the crowds queuing to get into St Peter's.

Parish Pilgrimage - Day 5 . . .

What joy! We prayed for you all at Mass in the Crypt Chapel at St Peter's this morning. Some of the bravest then climbed the 323 steps to the dome!

The day is free for sightseeing today although our guide has made a few suggestions such as the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel. Also, possibly a walk to the Basilica of Saint John Lateran.

More later if I manage to take any interesting photos . . .

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Parish Pilgrimage - Day 4 . . .

Today our pilgrimage took us to Subiaco and the Benedictine Monastery of Sacro Speco.

Here you can get an impression of the inaccessibility of the monastery built on the slopes of Mount Taleo above Subiaco. This is Fr Francis, an American Benedictine, who gave us an excellent tour.

Looking down from the Monastery into the valley below.

Another view showing the approach to the monastery.

The beautiful Chapel of Our Lady.

The Secred Cave (Sacro Speco) of St Benedict. A cave on the slopes of Mount Taleo where St Benedict lived unknown for four years. He survived thanks to a monk called Romanus who protected his seclusion and life of prayer and brought him food secretly.

We fared much better than St Benedict as we had lunch together at the Ristorante Aniene.

Today was our 'day in the country'. Now we have a visit to San Clemente, a Basilica cared for by the Irish Dominicans..

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

More on Day 3 . . .

Just before I tell you what we've been doing this afternoon, I must also let you know that St Ann's were presented to the Holy Father at the General Audience this morning. We all stood up to great applause. It was very moving.

Here you can see most of our group outside the 5th century Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. At the front on the left is Mr Anthony Coles, our Tour Leader, who has been doing an excellent job of looking after us.

After visiting the Basilica we moved on to the church of San Alfonso, the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, where we had a beautiful Mass.

Another lovely day and the time is passing all too quickly.

Parish Pilgrimage - Day 3 . . .

Up early again today. Here we are waiting in St Peter's Square for the General Audience with His Holiness Pope Benedict. It's 80 degrees Fahrenheit this morning at 9.30am (27 degrees Celsius). The beautiful floral umbrellas are for protection from the sun, not that we're expecting rain!
Great excitement as we wait for the Holy Father . . .
Thousands in St Peter's Square as we are entertained by a band.
More later . . .

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Parish Pilgrimage - Day 2 . . .

I'm afraid my little phone camera is not so good on inside shots so I've cheated today and used some library pictures. I did manage a couple of outdoor shots though when I was having a stroll around on my own this afternoon.

Today's itinerary began with a visit to the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls where Confession was available courtesy of the local Benedictines for those who wished to take advantage of the opportunity.

Mass today was at the Venerable English College, incidentally the oldest British institution abroad. Below you can see a picture of one of the chapels in the college.

Afterwards was free time for everyone to wander where they liked. I took this photo of this beautiful floral display on my own personal walk around the city near the Vatican.

I think some of our group visited the Pantheon this afternoon. Here's a shot I took of the obelisk and fountain in front of the Pantheon.

Finally, I cheated with this shot as you'd need a very good camera to be able to take such a good shot of the interior of the Pantheon showing the famous oculus.

We meet up again for dinner and, for some a quiet evening after a busy day but for those with any energy left, there are always places to visit and things to do in Rome in the evening.

A domani!

Monday, 18 May 2009

Parish Pilgrimage - Day 1 . . .

Well, we made it. After a good flight and having settled into our hotel, we started in earnest straight after breakfast this morning. Here you can see our group just gathering ready for our visit to St Peter's Basilica.

Later in the day there was a visit to the Catacombs of San Callisto where I celebrated Mass today for our parish and our school.

For those of us who still have any energy left by this evening it has been suggested by our tour guide that a visit to the Trevi Fountain would be a good idea after dinner.

I hope you enjoy today's musical offering. Sing along if you like! I expect we'll be having a sing-along ourselves at some point.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

First Holy Communions - Part Two

The heavy downpour of rain just before Mass this morning couldn't dampen the spirits of our First Holy Communion children and their families as they arrived for Mass with beaming faces. We had another beautiful celebration and, as often happens, the sun decided to put in an appearance just as we were processing out after Mass.

Congratulations to all our First Communion children and their families. May the joy of your special day remain with you for ever.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

All Roads Lead to Rome . . .

Well, here we are 'at the 11th hour'; all packed and ready to go. I'm very much looking forward to our parish pilgrimage to Rome beginning tomorrow.

I'm always delighted to pay a visit to my 'old stamping ground' and it will be good to be in the company of parishioners some of whom will be making their first visit to the Eternal City.

Please be assured of our prayers for all at St Ann's as we visit the various sites on our pilgrimage. I trust that you will also keep us in your prayers.

I hope to be able to send you a brief message now and again throughout the week to let you know how we're getting on so do please keep 'popping by' the blog to see.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Spot the First Communicant!

Here are some photos taken after our First Holy Communion Mass this morning.

In trying to comply with Child Protection guidelines we end up with photos of the proud parents, members of the family and friends. If you look closely you might be able to spot a few of our First Holy Communion children - recognisable by the grins on their faces!

Ecce Agnus Dei . . .

Ecce Agnus Dei

Today we celebrated a First Communion Mass for some of our First Communion children. The remainder will make their First Communion next Sunday.

We pray that it will be the first of many times throughout their lives that they will receive Our Blessed Lord in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

We thank the parents for helping them in their preparation and our catechists for walking alongside them and giving their time and dedication to the children and our First Holy Communion programme culminating in this special occasion today.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Ecce Sacerdos Magnus . . .

Many congratulations to Bishop Kieran on the occasion of his Episcopal Election.

As we prayed in today's preface,

' Christ give the dignity of a royal priesthood

to the people he has made his own.

From these, with a brother's love,

he chooses men to share his sacred ministry

by the laying on of hands.'

We wish him abundant blessing and many graces.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Veni Sancte Spiritus . . .

Today we enjoyed a wonderful celebration at St Joseph's Church, Epsom when Bishop Kieran conferred the sacrament of Confirmation on 114 young people from our Deanery including 22 from our own parish.

Like First Holy Communion which we will be celebrating at St Ann's in the next few weeks, Confirmation is a marvellous celebration, not just for the young people involved but also for their families and catechists who have guided and supported them in their journey of faith bringing them to this happy day; and for the whole parish community.

We look forward to the newly-Confirmed taking a full and active part in the life of the Church and of our parish.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Saint Joseph the Worker

The Memorial of St Joseph the Worker has been celebrated in the Church since 1955. Today the Church, inspired by St Joseph's example and under his fatherly care commemorates in a particular way the human and supernatural value of work.

In the Gospel of today's Mass we see again how Jesus is 'identified' in Nazareth by his occupation; 'Is he not the carpenter's son? Is not his mother Mary?' In another place we are told that Jesus practised the same trade as St Joseph, therefore it is reasonable to conclude that man's work by being taken up by God's only Son, has been sanctified, and can be something redemptive, through being united to Christ who Redeemed the World.

Today we meditate with St Joseph's help on the many aspects of love, esteem and gratitude for our job.

St Joseph the Worker, pray for us and bless our work.

Ave Maria, gratia plena . . .

The Christian tradition of dedicating the month of May to Our Blessed Lady arose at about the end of the 13th Century. The practice of honouring Mary during May has been especially recommended by Popes. In his great Encyclical on the Sacred Liturgy (Mediator Dei), Pope Pius XII characterised it as one of 'other exercises of piety which although not strictly belonging to the Sacred Liturgy, are nevertheless of special import and dignity, and may be considered in a certain way to be an addition to the liturgical cult; they have been approved and praised over and over again by the Apostolic See and the Bishops.'

Pope Paul VI wrote a short Encyclical in 1965 using the month of May devotion as a means of obtaining prayers for peace.

Pope John Paul II said in May 2002, 'Today we begin the month dedicated to Our Lady, a favourite of popular devotion. In accord with a long-standing tradition of devotion, parishes and families continue to make the month of May a 'Marian' month, celebrating it with devout liturgies, catechetical and pastoral initiatives.'

The following are some of the practices which are recommended by the Magesterium and offered as suggestions for honouring Our Lady during the month.

The Regina Coeli, The Rosary, Litanies of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Here at St Ann's we will pray the Rosary each Sunday in May at 4pm followed by Benediction.