15th Sunday A covid 19 12th July 2020
As we are about to start Masses soon and come out of ‘lockdown’, we need to ask ourselves how our faith is. Stronger or weaker, without Mass?
In today’s gospel Jesus said “Some seed fell on rock where they found little soil and withered away. Others fell among thorns and the thorns grew and choked them” let’s hope that being away from Mass and the parish community has not allowed our relationship with God to be withered away or choked out by the thorns of worldly enticements.
One of the joys for a priest is when he sees parents avidly listening to the word of God during sacramental preparation of Baptism, 1st Holy Communion and confirmation, and their return to Mass with their children, with a realisation of what they are missing and restart their lives with the Christian element in the forefront of their actions. It’s lovely to see them find that new dimension to their way of living. The hope is that it wont wither or be choked out again.
During the week I came across an article written by Fr. O’Shea, a Dominican priest. It told of a young Chinese girl to whom he was introduced while lecturing in Rome. She had been brought up in Beijing where her catholic upbringing came to an abrupt halt at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution.
Her parents became petrified to teach her about what was most precious to them for fear it would become so precious to her that she would speak about it outside the home and they would find themselves in prison like so many others who’d been reported to the authorities by neighbours. In fact her cousin had spent 17 years in jail and her fiancé had been so mistreated during his three years in prison that he was not recognised by his family at the end of it.
When she was 20 she visited her uncle who, behind closed doors, talked about the faith that she had not heard of since she was a small girl. One time he locked all doors and then raised a floorboard and unwrapped a small booklet on the Stations of the Cross. She begged him to let her hide it in her clothes and take it home where with the aid of a torch, she read it under the bed clothes. Wave after wave of emotion rose up from somewhere deep within her. For the first time in her life she came to realise how loveable must have been that man, Jesus, who had been unknown to her for most of her life and who had been prepared to die for her. When her mother heard her sobbing she joined her, and they sobbed together with sadness for the man who’d come to give them everything he had, to fill their lives with joy, and then paid for it with his own life. Their sadness, however, was mixed with joy because she also discovered that he who had been in some way lost to her, was still alive and loving her still.
Fr. O’Shea said “I was almost in tears myself when she had finished her story - for the tears I couldn’t shed for the faith that I have taken for granted. I have whole libraries of books, but I have been misusing them. I have been so long searching for insights into the faith to enable me to write for others; but what I should be doing is living the faith more deeply and my example would influence others.
I will just add this. The Dominicans have always insisted that you should first receive and make your own, what you would hand on to others, or you will have nothing to hand on at all, but the emptiness in yourself. –.
As we come out of lockdown and rules are relaxed remember to keep safe; keep the rules that remain and enjoy the new freedoms - see you soon - at Mass I hope.
God bless, Fr. G
This week the Youth have put together the readings, prayer and music to celebrate the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, with a homily from Deacon Jim!
Fourteenth Sunday Of Ordinary Time, Year A
(5th July 2020) Gospel:- Matthew 11:25-30
‘Black Lives Matter!’ That’s the message that’s dominated the news around the world for the last few weeks. Slavery has been around for a long time. Some of you, of a certain age, may remember the Oscar Hammersmith song “Ol’ man river” from the film and stage show, ‘Showboat’ made famous by the singer and actor, Paul Robeson. In the film, the black man sings, “I gets weary and sick of trying. I’m tired of living and scared of dying; but Ol’ man river, he just keeps rolling along.” That man’s weariness ran much deeper than physical labour. He was tired of being a slave, of having no freedom and seeing no future. He was existing like a river instead of living like a man. There was a vast weariness deep down in his soul. Life was wearing him out.
This is the kind of weariness that Jesus had in mind – a tiredness that goes to the very centre of life, not just the muscles and bones, but the soul of the spirit. We all know what He is talking about because at some time we have all felt like that. I know I certainly have.
So, where do we find the kind of power and strength we need. This is where the invitation of Jesus comes in. “Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.”
These words may sound strange, but many people have learned the truth of these words.
Having someone to share the load certainly helps at times. That may take the form of just talking things through, or getting someone else to take over some onerous tasks that are weighing you down.
Of course, there is the other side of that coin. Just as we may need others to help us carry the burden from time to time, perhaps we could consider being that person who offers to ease the load of someone who may be struggling, who may ‘have a lot on their plate’. This doesn’t have be on a one-to-one basis either. If we can see that someone’s tasks are many and onerous, we can work together to ease the burden by taking on a task or tasks, to work together as a team, to ease the burden on someone.
Perhaps we could consider working together to achieve the task of getting our church ready for re-opening for public worship in the coming weeks. There are a lot of tasks to be undertaken, and if we pull together, sharing the load, then we can lighten the burden of those who bear the overall responsibility.
Isn’t that the message that Jesus wants us to receive in today’s Gospel? Ironically, receiving and acting on the word of God, will enable us all to be together again, in God’s house, to once again, receive the word of God.
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time (28th June 2020)
St Peter and Paul
Today we celebrate the Feast of St Peter and St Paul.
St Peter is our patron saint and usually we have a Mass of celebration in our school full of singing and joy.
At this Mass I usually tell the story of Quo Vadis.
Quo Vadis is a Latin phrase meaning “Where are you going ? “
Sometime after Christ’s death, Nero the Roman Emperor, wanted to clear the slums of Rome so he set fire to them sureptiousiously and then blamed the Christians, who were then persecuted and put to death.
In fear for his life, Peter flees from a possible crucifixion at the hands of the Government and along the road outside Rome, he meets The Risen Lord. Peter asks Jesus “Quo Vadis? “
Jesus replied, “I am going to Rome to be crucified again “ Peter thinks about this and then finds it gives him the courage to go back to Rome and continue his ministry. He then returns to the city where subsequently he is eventually martyred by being crucified upside-down.
The church of ‘Domine, Quo Vadis’ in Rome is built where the meeting between Peter and Jesus allegedly took place.
We too today, are probably asking Christ the same question “Where are you going with this pandemic ? ” To which he may say “Am I still to be crucified in the poor, the marginalised, the homeless or will the “HAVES”, the Governments, big businesses etc have had the time to consider how wealth should be re-distributed ? To the leaders of religion will he say “Go back to your origins and find the compassion and love that religion was first built upon. To us would he say “Did you make use of the lockdown to examine your life, your relationships… especially with Christ and are you continuing to be swept away by the new wave of concern for others that has developed over the past months?
In going back to Mass will you remember that Mass is the sacrifice of myself for you; and the giving of myself to you in Holy Communion. Will you listen more intently to my words spoken through the scriptures at Mass?
How will Covid 19 / lockdown / isolation / screening affect your life once we return to “normality?”
Have I changed for the better? Am I more aware of the needs of others? Have I realised the important things in life and got rid of the trivial
things? Have I realised what possessions are important or necessary in life? Am I happier, more content and comfortable with my use of time?
So many questions !!!
But, remember……think carefully before you act, and ask yourself :
Quo Vadis…. Where are YOU going ?
I am VERY PLEASED to finally announce that Mass will once more be celebrated here in St Peter’s sometime in early July !
Before then there will be a meeting with our volunteers, Eucharistic Ministers, Deacon Jim and myself to sort out the practicalities and safety issues with guidelines coming from The Archdiocese.
I hope by next Sunday to have all things in place and able to give details of how this will work. I ask for your support and patience as the planning will have to be meticulous and not rushed.
21st June 2020
12th Sunday of Ordinary Time
This week as the restrictions on our movements are eased, I write pleading with you all to continue with your security measures. Please don’t drop your guard or get careless about social distancing and hand washing, cleaning etc. Numbers of deaths are down Thank God and we want to keep it that way. It is frightening to see the crowds at protest rallies, and hear about illegal “Raves” taking place; at least one in Manchester and others being organised for this weekend.
Believe me I know how hard it has been being apart from family, friends, social occasions etc but as we have seen in China the virus has come back with a second wave. We don’t want that to happen in our country.
PLEASE BE VIGILANT
On a brighter note may I thank all those who kindly volunteered to help with the opening of our church. Unfortunately, as you know, because we cannot open the church at the moment there is no need for your help but…. hopefully soon !
I will be in touch as soon as we get word that we can open up.
I would also like to thank all those who continue to help with the finance of the church by sending in their offertory envelopes or with standing orders. Many people have recently changed to have a standing order from their banks. If you would like to do this we have the appropriate forms here in the presbytery.
Friday, was the Feast of the Sacred Heart. The heart is a symbol of love. Love comes from God and because God loves us so much, we, too, must love one another and as long as we do God will live in us.
Our words of wisdom this week are on a video sent by a Muslim friend from Jordan. Obviously the world is of like mind during this pandemic. I hope you enjoy it.
Please continue to keep safe. God bless you all.
A Prayer for Fathers
Heavenly Father, you entrusted your Son Jesus, the child of Mary, to the care of Joseph, an earthly father. Bless all fathers as they care for their families. Give them strength and wisdom, tenderness and patience; support them in the work they have to do, protecting those who look to them, as we look to you for love and salvation, through Jesus Christ our rock and defender.