Saturday 29 November 2014

Corrected newsletter for Advent 1

There was an error in the day of the midweek Adoration in the original newsletter. A corrected newsletter can be found here.

Thursday 27 November 2014

Newsletter for 29/30 November - Advent 1(B)

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There will be Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on three additional occasions during Advent to help us to prepare prayerfully for the coming of the Lord. Here are the details of this and of the Christmas arrangements:

Monday 24 November 2014

Catholics praying for the dead - in music

Over the centuries the text of the Requiem Mass has been a source of the most enormous inspiration for composers. Here, to end my November series on praying for the dead, are two of my favourite extracts.

The first is from Mozart's Requiem. It seems to embody the pain of bereavement and separation, leading to the final impassioned plea, "Gentle Lord Jesus, grant them rest. Amen"

The second is by Gabriel Fauré, and sets the words of In Paradisum, often used at the end of the funeral Mass as the coffin is taken from the Church. I can almost hear the flutter of the angels' wings in this gentle music: May the angels lead you into paradise; may the martyrs come to welcome you and take you to the holy city, the new and eternal Jerusalem. May choirs of angels welcome you and where Lazarus is poor no longer may you find eternal rest.

See you there.....

Thursday 20 November 2014

Thursday 13 November 2014

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Hope into Action

The Homeless problem is very much a part of our society in Britain today (a recent Government report said it had increased by 16% in the past year) . Although the reasons for someone becoming homeless vary, the effects it has on the individuals who find themselves in this position are equally devastating. When we see homelessness today and the effects it has on people it is no wonder there is a clear Biblical mandate to “ provide the poor wanderer shelter” Isaiah 58v7.  Helping address the effects of homelessness has always been a challenge for the church, and there have been many noble responses to this over the years, some of which still exist today.
Hope Into Action is a Christian charity set up with the single purpose of enabling churches to house the homeless.  The church is in a unique position to provide community support and God’s love to vulnerable people. Hope Into Action provides houses and training to rehouse the vulnerable in partnership with local churches. This is done alongside a professional support worker taking care of all the support issues and the property management aspect of housing. The church then provides a friendship and support group of individuals who are committed to providing the tenants community support, non judgemental relationships, practical support and prayer. With this in place the tenants have time and space to deal with some of the issues that drove them into homelessness in the first place and will give them a chance to take steps towards restoring their lives and living independently again.
Hope Into Action aims to put 2 people into each of its houses and each house linked to a church support group. Rent for this accommodation is paid for by housing benefits, which covers the maintenance of the house.
There is an opportunity for Hope Into Action to open a house in Ashby de la Zouch. What is needed is a group of volunteers from the local churches to commit to forming the friendship and support group and in particular an individual to head that group up. The group will then be fully trained by Hope Into Action and will have the support of a Hope Into Action support worker. The time commitment will vary depending on the individual tenants, but might be a few hours contact time per week. The support that is required is based around building a relationship with the tenants and can be done by inviting them for a coffee, inviting them to church, supporting some of their practical needs and praying for the individuals.
The set up of the house in Ashby de la Zouch is being overseen by Richard Meikle who is the Hope Into Action Nottingham coordinator. If you would like to be involved in this project or would like Richard to come and speak with you or your church to provide further information please contact him on  Please pray for this project and encourage any people you may know who have a heart for homelessness to get involved.

Tuesday 11 November 2014

How do Catholics pray for the dead?

We can pray the Rosary for our departed loved ones.

Psalm 129/130, De profundis, is often used in our prayers for the dead:
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord,
Lord, hear my voice!
O let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleading.
If you, O Lord, should mark our guilt,
Lord, who would survive?
But with you is found forgiveness:
for this we revere you.
My soul is waiting for the Lord.
I count on his word.
My soul is longing for the Lord
more than watchman for daybreak.
Let the watchman count on daybreak
and Israel on the Lord.
Because with the Lord there is mercy
and fullness of redemption,
Israel indeed he will redeem
from all its iniquity.
We often use this very short, simple prayer:
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.
And let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace. Amen.
Our best prayer of all is the offering of Holy Mass for those who have died. When St Monica, mother of St Augustine of Hippo, was dying, her last request was: "One thing only I ask you, that you remember me at the altar of the Lord wherever you may be."

Sunday 9 November 2014

Why do Catholics pray for the dead? Insight from an unlikely source.

Those of my generation may remember the 'Bless me, Father' books from the 1970s. A young priest, Fr Neil, tells of his adventures with his elderly parish priest, Fr Duddleswell, played by Arthur Lowe in the TV series. There is a lot of nonsense in the books, but from time to time there are moments of insight. One such came to mind recently:

"The trouble with Protestant theologians, Father Neil, is they have no imagination. 'Tis their mistaken opinion that the bereaved like to think of their loved ones being taken immediately to Paradise."
My reaction must have put me among the Protestants. "When you lose someone you love," Father Duddleswell explained, "you experience the overpowering need to comfort them. 'Tis hard indeed to picture the dead as blissfully content while you are still shattered and torn by the losing of them. There must be attunement betwixt living and dead, you follow? The Church's teaching on Purgatory takes account of this."

I would not normally think of the (fictional) Fr Duddleswell as a reliable theologian, and it is certainly not safe to build doctrine on our emotional needs. It seems to me, however, that there is real pastoral insight in this passage.

This morning the Radio 4 "Sunday" programme reminded me that there was a strong movement to provide prayers for the dead in the Church of England following the First World War. Before that time, the official services of the Church of England did not provide such prayers, and to this day there are widely divergent views among Anglicans about whether it is appropriate to pray for the dead. Catholic teaching and practice has always encouraged us to pray for the dead. That helps me now. I am convinced it will help me even more when the time comes for me to go to God.

Chaplaincy Vacancy at De Lisle

There is a vacancy for a chaplain at De Lisle. Here is the relevant information.

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Thursday 6 November 2014

Why do Catholics pray for the dead? From the Catechism

1030    All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.
1031    The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire.
As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offences can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.
1032    This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: “Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.” From the beginning the Church has honoured the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God. The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead.
Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.

If you wish to learn more, you can find the text with links to footnotes (scripture passages etc) here.

CAFOD Ebola Appeal

CAFOD as part of the Disasters Emergency Committee is appealing for the support of the Catholic Community in its contribution to the fight against the Ebola Crisis. There will be a second collection at all Masses this weekend. It is perhaps worth reflecting that the rich west seems to be waking up to the health issues that face our brothers and sisters in poor countries in a new way now that one of those health issues is starting to affect us. Poverty kills far more people than Ebola ever will, but we often forget this, because rich people don’t die of hunger. So please support this appeal generously, but remember that the fight against poverty will still be with us when, please God, the Ebola crisis ends.

If you wish to donate online instead of via the second collection you can do so here.

Newsletter for 8/9 November - Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

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Monday 3 November 2014

Why do Catholics pray for the dead?

I remember visiting Father Peter Tierney in hospital, just a week before he died. He had recently found out that he had not long to live. He shared with me that he found the words of Cardinal Newman in the Dream of Gerontius very helpful in understanding the Church's teaching on Purgatory, the purification, cleansing that many of us need before we are ready for the glory of Heaven.

You might like to read, prayerfully, the closing section of this long poem below. Its gentle faith and hope may well help and inform your prayers for our departed loved ones this November. The words here are spoken to the departed soul by his guardian angel:

SOFTLY and gently, dearly-ransomed soul,
In my most loving arms I now enfold thee,
And, o’er the penal waters, as they roll,
I poise thee, and I lower thee, and hold thee.

And carefully I dip thee in the lake,
And thou, without a sob or a resistance,
Dost through the flood thy rapid passage take,
Sinking deep, deeper, into the dim distance.
Angels, to whom the willing task is given,
Shall tend, and nurse, and lull thee, as thou liest;
And Masses on the earth and prayers in heaven,
Shall aid thee at the Throne of the most Highest.

Farewell, but not forever! Brother dear,
Be brave and patient on thy bed of sorrow;
Swiftly shall pass thy night of trial here,
And I will come and wake thee on the morrow.

You may may also like to listen to the beautiful setting of these words by Sir Edward Elgar.

'Softly and Gently' Elgar's Dream of Gerontius, Anna Stephany from WiredForMusic on Vimeo.