THE WORD WHO IS LIFE
A time of Prayer and Reflection on the future of the diocese of Arundel and Brighton
The readings today – the third Sunday – have something to say to us about time, the proper use of the time given to us and to use it before it’s too late. Jonah warns the people of Nineveh that they will be destroyed in 40 days if they don’t repent and change their ways; Paul tells us that “our time is growing short” and Jesus says “the time has come! Repent and believe in the gospel!” And He invites the fishermen to move with Him in a new direction in life. It is a personal invitation to each one of us now and it is a communal one.
Bishop Richard, who is our Father and leader in our Catholic Spiritual life, has asked us to think and pray about the future of the diocese of Arundel and Brighton.
The background to this is the fact that the number of priests is decreasing and we are growing older, plus the fact that there are few young adults attending Mass. We have some very fine young people coming to Mass here in Hastings, there are wonderful young families but there is a general trend that sees religion being for young children and old people.
It’s vital for the future of the Church that the children now preparing for first Holy Communion do not disappear once they have received, we need them to stay with us because they are the future.
To help us in this time of reflection Bishop Richard has given us a few questions which are posted on the Sacred Heart School notice board in the church porch. Some of these questions are also available on a handout that will be distributed after Mass. You can take these questions home with you and in the course of the week I invite you to prayerfully ponder them and bring your responses back here next weekend. Boxes where you can place your questionnaire will be available in the porch.
There are two prayers printed on the questionnaire and I suggest we pray these as often as we can so that our responses may be influenced by God. Bishop Richard is very keen that this process be blessed by prayer so that our discernment is of the Holy Spirit and not simply human thinking.
One of these prayers is based on Pslam 25 which is the Responsorial Psalm for today, “Show us the right path, O Lord, point out the road for us to follow. Guide us by your truth and teach us, for you are the God who saves us.”
Another way of sharing your responses is to post your answers on the notice board. Post-it stickers and pens are available in the porch.
Everyone’s opinion matters; no voice is more or less important than another – the innocent voice of the child, the enthusiastic voice of youth, those who are single, married and the wisdom of those who have lived long years in the faith. It might also be good to talk about this as families around the table at home.
St. Vincent Pallotti, founder of the Pallottines, believed strongly that every baptized Catholic has the right and obligation to be involved in the work of Jesus in the Church, so we ask St. Vincent to pray for us that, like him, we may draw our inspiration and strength from Jesus in the Eucharist, in Holy Communion. The Eucharist is the source of all Catholic life and without it we have nothing.
Let’s pause and listen to the prayer of St. Richard of Chichester who is secondary patron of this diocese:
“Thanks be to you, my Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits and blessings which you have given to me, for all the pains and insults which you have borne for me. O most merciful Friend, Brother and Redeemer, may I know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly.” (St. Richard of Chichester, a patron of the diocese of Arundel & Brighton)
THE QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:
Each Catholic in the Diocese is called to be a disciple of Jesus and to bring others to know Him. We are invited to reflect on how we can best do this as a Community by prayer and by reflecting on the following questions:
1. What three things do you think we most need in order to fulfil our task as a parish and as a Diocese?
2. What roles can be best carried out by the lay-faithful?
3. What can you do as a member of the Catholic Community?
4. If we were starting the Diocese today, with 25 priests, where would you place them? (here we are asked to think beyond our own local parish)
Please circle the age bracket you belong to: 18 or under; 19-30; 31-50; 51 or over.
You are welcome to sign your name at the end if you wish.]
Please use the space below and on the reverse side to share your observations and reflections: