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Announcement

From 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time until the beginning of Lent we will sing the Mass settings from the New People’s Mass by Dom Gregory Murray at 11.30 Mass.

This will help us all to learn a Mass Setting in English ( in a Gregorian style) which we could use for Masses when all the Parish is together, eg. Christmas, Easter and other Holy Feasts.

Bishop's Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Letter for the Feast of the Holy Family 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Every day provides us with opportunities to reflect on the wonder of God’s love for us and the Gospel of today’s Feast enables us to see that love reflected at every age of life.

Simeon is an example of patient waiting and trust.  He has lived his whole life in anticipation of the coming of the Messiah and, as he takes the Infant Jesus in his arms in the act of Presentation, his life’s work is complete.  His eyes have seen salvation.[1]  His expectations and hopes are fulfilled.  Anna the elderly woman, who is always at prayer, rejoices and her joy spills over as she tells everyone she meets that the Immanuel – God-with-us[2] – is here.

Mary and Joseph, carrying out their responsibilities as devout Jews, have offered their firstborn to the Father.  The Word made flesh is offered to the God who spoke the Word at the very dawn of time.   Just as Mary ponders in her heart at the birth of her Son,[3] so must we.  To realise that this infant child, reliant upon Mary and Joseph, is the “Word that was with God…in the beginning”[4] is a most wonderful truth.  Simeon, in his own way, expressed what John writes: “The Word was made flesh. He lived among us.”[5]

As we gaze upon the Holy Family, gathered with Simeon and Anna in the Temple or in their home in Nazareth during the thirty hidden years, our first response must be “to look, listen, to meditate and penetrate the meaning…of this very simple, very humble and very beautiful manifestation of the Son of God.”[6]

Such reflection will draw us closer to Jesus and enable us to understand more deeply the wonder of our own family life.  No matter how small or large our family may be, “the family is the original cell of social life.”[7]  It is in the family that the “foundations [are laid] for freedom, security and fraternity within society.”[8]  It is in the context of the family that we are trained “to live together in this greater home [society]. In the family, we learn closeness, care and respect for others.”[9]

Family life is never without its struggles and difficulties, but it is in the midst of these struggles – perhaps sometimes even because of them – that we grow in our witness to the One who is God-with-us.  The family is a community of action, a place where the Gospel is proclaimed and where witness to Christ is given through “solidarity with the poor, openness to a diversity of people, the protection of creation, moral and material solidarity with other families, including those most in need, commitment to the promotion of the common good and the transformation of unjust social structures, beginning in the territory in which the family lives, through the practice of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.”[10]

All must be modelled on the person of Jesus and when we look, listen and reflect on the Holy Family we also learn to imitate.[11]  On this Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth and on every day, may we rejoice with Simeon that the Messiah has come; may we listen to the Holy Family and reflect, as Mary did, on the wonder of God’s love; may the love of the Saviour, whom the Father placed in the care of the Family of Nazareth, transform our families, that we may truly be his witnesses to the World.

With every Blessing,

Yours sincerely in Christ,

+Richard

Bishop of Arundel & Brighton

[1] Lk. 2:30.

[2] Mt. 1:23.

[3] Lk. 2:19.

[4] Jn. 1:1.

[5] Jn. 1:13.

[6] BLESSED PAUL VI, Address, 5th January 1964.

[7] CCC, n. 2207, cf. ST. JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Familiaris Consortio, n. 21.

[8] loc.cit.

[9] POPE FRANCIS, Encyclical Letter Amoris Laetitia, n.276.

[10] ibid. n. 290.

[11] BLESSED PAUL VI, op.cit.

Deacon Duncan’s Homilies

A Homily for Christ the King

There’s a story about the soft drinks company Pepsi that tells us a little bit about how we respond to death. According to some sources, and Pepsi have never actually denied this story, the company’s popular American slogan: ‘Come to Life with Pepsi’ was mistranslated in China as ‘Pepsi brings your ancestors back to life’. Now this is some claim. Certainly, Pepsi’s sales in China didn’t improve appreciably. Having a drink that instantly brings your departed loved ones back to the land of the living was probably seen as something of two-edged-sword. I mean, where would we put them?

Now, as you may be aware I know a little bit about death, because by day I am an undertaker. It’s an interesting word, isn’t it? ‘Undertaker?  But what do I undertake? It’s really a euphemism, I suppose. We don’t want to be too specific about the role. The word comes into English in the early Tudor period, and can mean one who works in business, or acts as some form of agent. It’s reassuringly vague. I undertake something people don’t really want to name, and that’s understandable. Perhaps best not to mention it, really. If I’m at a dinner party and someone asks what I do for a living –– my response is usually met with an odd glance: ‘Oh. You’re an undertaker. That must be very…err…’ I probably should say: ‘It’s not about what I do for a living. It’s about what I do for the dead’. But I don’t think that’s quite true. My job is to serve both parties.

The word ‘human’ derives from the Latin word for earth: humus. So we may well take our name as a species from the fact that we bury our dead in the ground. In Ancient Egypt, the departed were known as ‘westerners’, from the deserts west of the fertile Nile valley. If a modern American met an Ancient Egyptian and announced they were from ‘the mid-west’, it’s likely they would be met with – at best – a measure of incredulity. The Egyptians, prior to the development of their formal buildings of interment, buried their loved ones in the desert. If the wind or animals uncovered the dead, they would appear to the living as being remarkably intact, since the dry and hot conditions slowed down the process of decay. When the Egyptians made mummies, they were likely honouring that early experience. In the Zoroastrian faith of pre-muslim Iran, the dead were cleaned and laid out on beautiful towers so the flesh could be artfully removed by vultures. This was viewed as a form of spiritual cleansing. And in parts of modern Indonesia, the departed aren’t considered dead until they are buried. They are mummified, then placed in their old room in the house, receiving their favourite meals every day.  Burial only takes place when sufficiently lavish plans have been made for the ceremony. Now, these are ‘undertakings’ I might find difficult to understand, and certainly to perform, but they are, of course, deeply important rituals designed to honour the departed, and to ensure safe transition from one place to another. All these practices required somebody to undertake them.

So how do we feel about death? The second Vatican Council states things in this way

’It is in the face of death that the riddle of human existence grows more acute.  Not only is man tormented by pain and by the advancing deterioration of his body, but even more so by the dread of perpetual extinction. He rebels against death because he bears in himself an eternal seed which cannot be reduced to sheer matter.

It is something we dread, Shakespeare’s Hamlet asks the audience if it’s better ‘To be, or not to be’. We’ve no idea if anyone in the audience replied, or if lengthy debate ensued. But the hero concludes that death ‘is a consummation devoutly to be wished’. Around the same time, the poet and clergyman John Donne mocked Death in a sonnet that begins ‘Death be not proud, though some have called thee’. The poet seems to be debating with Death, saying his powers aren’t even especially unique: ‘poppy or charms can make us sleep as well, And better than thy stroke’. In Donne’s poem, he shows us that our faith can make nonsense of Death. Our bodies might fail, but the poet concludes: ‘One short sleep past, we wake eternally, And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die’.

If you had a drink that could bring your ancestors back to life, would you give it to them? I don’t think I would because I believe that that moment will happen, just not in this life. The reading from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians tells us  very clearly the reality of the Christian belief about what happens after death Death, he says, came into the world through one man Adam – in other words through man’s sin, but the resurrection of the dead and life eternal comes through another man,  Jesus and only through Jesus – for those who belong to him,Christ the  King. We know that Jesus is the one who restores our way back to God, and to life eternal. To steal the slogan of the rival beverage: Jesus is ‘the real thing’. He is the ultimate undertaker, in that through his sacrifice on the Cross he undertook to safely convey us from this life to life eternal. Although our lives can be hard, and sometimes seem impossible, The church has been taught by divine revelation and firmly teaches herself that man has been created by God for a blissful purpose which is beyond the reach of earthly misery.

As St Paul writes elsewhere

‘O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’.

Fr Eamonn's Blog

EVEN SO MY SOUL: Reflection on Humility – Fr. Eamonn Monson sac

The greatest among you must be your servant. Anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.’ (Matthew 23:12)

20171015_173944.jpgExperiences of humiliation can lead us to become humble but they are not in themselves virtuous; feelings of inferiority can also lead us to humility but they are not in themselves virtuous. Jesus calls us to humility and not to humiliation or inferiority.

My mother had a very simple answer to my inferiority complex! She said you should neither look up to anyone nor look down on anyone and that Jesus is the only one who is perfect.

So in my search for humility I am called to focus on Jesus rather than on self and through Jesus to be taken into the perfect embrace of the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – where we encounter love and mercy in its perfection. Humility is born when I have the grace to be still and know that God is God and in His presence I “bow and bend low” in worship.

In His presence I discover who I am and who you are. None of us is either greater or less than the other. As Jesus says when He warns us against self-promotion, “you have only One Father”, One Master, One Teacher and we are all brothers and sisters.

Psalm 131 introduces us to the deepest possible form of humility:

Keep my soul in peace before you, O Lord.

O Lord, my heart is not proud

nor haughty my eyes.

I have not gone after things too great

nor marvels beyond me.

Keep my soul in peace before you, O Lord.

Truly I have set my soul

in silence and peace.

A weaned child on its mother’s breast,

even so is my soul.

Keep my soul in peace before you, O Lord.

O Israel, hope in the Lord

both now and forever.

Keep my soul in peace before you, O Lord.

My heart is not proud! Truly I have set my soul in silence and in peace. A weaned child on its mother’s breast, a child at rest in its mother’s arms, even so my soul! The heart of humility is here and this is who we are called to become – a trustful child in the arms of God.

I have had the grace to hold my five nephews and three nieces in their infancy. It has always been an experience filled with love and emotion. At Mass this morning I was asking the children if they had ever held a baby and a number of girls and boys said yes. “And what did it feel like?” I asked. The boys shrugged their shoulders but the girls said immediately that they felt love and they felt emotional! I guess the boys did too but they didn’t know how to put it into words.

Babies can be trustful and sometimes cautious and restless in the embrace of an adult. I’m thinking of the two youngest because my experiences with them are the most recent and therefore my memories of them are clearer.

Laura was the most chilled baby ever. I often tell her that she was silent for the first six months – until she found her voice and when she found that then there was no stopping her. She would just lay there sleeping or in a dreamlike daze. I have memories of her sound asleep on her father’s shoulder. She represents the kind of trustful abandon that is at the heart of Christian spirituality.

Katie was more alert and less inclined to sleep but I had this experience with her when she was a few months old. I went to visit one Saturday and Elaine was doing the cleaning, so she put Katie into my arms, put me into the sitting room, asked me to look after her and closed the door.

So we sat there on a rocking chair, Katie and me, playing and chatting in the way one does with a baby. And after a while she rested her head on my chest. So I sang to her. Sang songs in Swahili, sang hymns and she fell asleep with her head resting on my chest and she remained like that for over an hour.

This became for me a most precious period of meditation. I simply held her, gazed on her, felt the warmth of her. I was deeply touched by the way she trusted me enough to fall asleep and it seemed in this that God was inviting me to be like her – a child resting trustfully in His arms.

I go back to this from time to time. Each one of us can enter into such an experience in prayer. Simply close your eyes and in the privacy of your soul where only you and God abide. And there you can surrender to Him, be held by him, loved by Him.

In our strength we resist going to such a place within ourselves but Alcoholics Anonymous have discovered that surrender to the Higher Power is essential for recovery. Addicts in recovery understand this too.  Our Higher Power is God, revealed to us in Jesus.

It is especially important for us to surrender to the Divine Embrace where we are not well. Another memory from my own childhood is in a time when I was very sick with shingles, my mother took me into bed with Dad and herself and, though she could not take away the pain, could not make me better immediately, I felt secure in her embrace. And it’s the same with God. Not that He cannot take away the pain but He holds us through the necessary experience of pain and sees us through to the other side of it.