Friday, 3 March 2017

From ashes to fire

We have embarked together on our Lenten journey. It will take us right through to Holy Week and Easter, and beyond – to Pentecost. On Wednesday I spoke at Masses about a strange feature of this season that has fascinated me for a few years now.
In life a fire will often produce ashes, we go from fire to ashes. In this Lent and Easter season we go from ashes to fire. We have started by showing the ashes of our humanity, and way ahead on 4th June we will celebrate the fire of the Holy Spirit on the great feast of Pentecost. Isn’t that strange? It’s as if God is saying “This is my way of doing things”. It reminds me of that hymn which talking of the Lord “turning the world upside down”. It’s only if we accept our “ashfulness” that we can be open to the transforming fire of the Holy Spirit.

Someone pointed out to me that we can take it further if we add in the wood of the Cross on Good Friday.  So now instead of applying fire to wood to produce ash, we apply the wood of Jesus’s Cross to our ashes and  are taken into the fire.  Jesus tells Nicodemus in John 3:16 that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. Through the Cross the ashes of our sins are removed, and  we are prepared to be set alight by God’s very own Spirit.
Enjoy the journey!
Follow our parish Lenten journey  "Walking with Jesus" here.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

A Lenten Journey Together

This Lent we are inviting parishioners to join us on a "Journey with Jesus". Each day we will post a reflection, prayer or thought for Lent. Why don't you join us - just click here to go there...

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Perdecost

Happy feast day Church!
I was at Christ the King this weekend for Pentecost. After 10.30 Mass one of the children presented me with her artwork. Being half-term there was no Children's Liturgy, but she had still got really involved, and put her thoughts into this picture. As you will realise that is me, Farther, in the middle celebrating Mass in the red vestments of the feast of "Perdecost".  The Holy Spirit is in the air and love seems to be falling from the heavens - very profound!
But it's what is coming out of my mouth that amused and inspired : "Good News". She certainly got it, and as always - "out of the mouth of children..."  So I hope that Love falls out of the sky for you, and that inspired by the Holy Spirit of Perdecost, you will speak, and be, Good News.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Post Easter post

A day of feeling a bit miserable with a cold. I made it through the winter without one, but at last the lurgy caught up with me...  So I'm taking the opportunity to catch up here.

Well, first - back to Holy Week and Easter.  My favourite service this year was the Easter Vigil at St Brigid's. It was a truly joyful celebration - why? I'm not too sure, other than the fact that we are remembering and underlining that Jesus lives! The singing, the candles... everything was just right and I came away fully immersed in the joy of the Resurrection. 

Then, there was Celebrate at Corpus Christi School last weekend. This too was great, and my lasting memory will be of the number of children and young people present, 98 out of 300 I'm told. And two of the three speakers were under 40 too, including Will Desmond aged 23 (right) and telling it like it is to the crowd. Great weekend if very tiring as I have to fit it round my parish duties. 

Next - the election.  I could have made a lot of money on this one as I predicted that the Conservatives would win with more seats than before. Why? Because I think there are a lot of what one article this week called "shy Conservatives". There are many areas of life where it's not done to not be leftish... including parts of the Church. I think that many people if asked by friend or pollster wouldn't "own up", but then vote according to what they really thought. By the way, I'm not necessarily including myself among them, I usually don't disclose my voting. It reminds me a little of the election of Pope Francis. How may cardinals would have owned up before the election to how they were thinking, even if Cardinal Bergoglio wasn't specifically in their sights?

Lastly, two reviews, the first for a long time. The Penylan Pantry in Kimberley Road just outside our 3 Churches area. Went for coffee there with some parishioners, and enjoyed it a lot. A small place, on a corner of Blenheim Road, very.um, Penylan with a deli as part of the set-up. I'm amuse that Penylan, an area I just think of as my childhood home, is now very much des-res territory. Very friendly and welcoming, though my fruit loaf/bara brith took quite a while to come...

And then there was Il Pastificio where I was invited to supper. Currently number 3 in TripAdvisor this is a wonderful Italian restaurant at the beginning of Wellfield Road where the Globe Cinema was several lifetimes ago. A little small, like the Pantry and unprepossessing from the outside. Also a little tight inside to get everyone in - but this place must go straight into my top ten, right from the welcome when you arrive, the guided tour of the specials from the head chef (below), but most of all the quality of the food - simply scrummy. But be careful, book, because it's become very popular very quickly - and quite rightly so!


Friday, 3 April 2015

A mother and her Son


The Lord's Supper

At the Mass of the Lord's Supper I emphasised that we are to find ourselves in the Holy Week story, to make connections with our own lives. I recalled how feet have played a big part in my last twelve months or so. I have worked my way through 1 GP, 2 practise nurses, 2 podiatrists, 1 ulcer specialist, 1 insole person and one shoe person. So the idea of Jesus wanting to tend to my feet has been pretty close to home. And he is there all the time...  Again I recalled that I had renewed my priestly promises at the Chrism Mass on Wednesday on my anniversary of ordination, and that over those years I have celebrated Mass around 15,000 times. At every one of those, any priest worth his salt is overwhelmed with a sense of unworthiness. 
For the Watching until midnight our good flower ladies in St Brigid's, where I was, create a kind of shrine where we place the ciborium in full view, rather than in a tabernacle. I find this has a great impact on us all, somehow much more direct.  Coming up to midnight I lead a time of intercession for our parishes, the Church, and the world, with an opportunity for people to ask the Lord to remember those whose names they mention out loud. Then, with the kiss of Judas barely audible in the midnight silence, we all depart.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Judas and priests

Today, traditionally known as Spy Wednesday, I spoke about Judas. So why did Judas do it?  It's hard enough to understand our own motives sometimes, let alone those of others. "Wolf Hall" recently challenged many people's view of St Thomas More, for example, and gave a more nuanced view of Thomas Cromwell himself. So how hard is it to get inside the head of the Betrayer?
We have only the Gospels as our sources, and two of them were written by apostles who were there... Was it because "Satan entered him",  and what about that dipping of the finger? Was Judas predestined to do the deed - and, if so, can he truly be blamed... And, of course, he threw the money on the floor - a hint of repentance/remorse? In the end, he seems to have lacked hope, to me the forgotten of the three virtues of faith, hope and charity. After all, Peter betrayed Jesus in a way, too - but stuck with it...
Judas was a mess, but perhaps in that he tells us something about ourselves, and about Jesus. After all, he was one of the apostles throughout those three years of Jesus' ministry. The Word became flesh in the human race, despite its messiness, to shine a light, that in the light of knowing Him we might know ourselves too, find faith, build hope and show love.
Today has been the 37th anniversary of my priestly ordination April 1st 1978 here at St Brigid's. Later in the morning I had the enormous pleasure of taking part in the Chrism Mass with our archbishop, priests and people. Along with all the priests present I renewed my priestly promises undertaken at ordination. A fitting way to celebrate the anniversary...

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Monday, Tuesday - Peter, John

Monday at Mass I offered some thoughts about Peter in the Passion.
At the Last Supper Peter doesn't want Jesus to wash his feet, and perhaps we would not want it either. Then whenhe "gets it" he wants a whole bath... until he rashly promises to follow Jesus anywhere, and learns the hard truth. He does his best in the Garden but falls asleep and lashes out. Then, fatefully, as he warms his hands in the glow of anonymity and Jesus shivers in the cold prison, he denies Him. It is then that we are told their eyes met as the cock crew and Jesus is led away. The tears that follow speak of the impossibility of being forgiven, or so Peter thinks. To be denied the chance to say sorry is a crippling human experience, and Peter believes that is his fate. The Rock crumbles. But it will be reconstituted at a breakfast on the beach in Galilee, but that is for later.

Today I moved on to John the Apostle. He was a co-worker of Peter and Andrew and James in Capernaum. With Peter at Tabor and Jairus' home, he is next to Jesus at the Supper, the "beloved disciple".  Peter asks him to ask Jesus who will be the denier. John leans back against Jesus to ask. Alone among the apostles, including the Rock, he does not crumble, at least not outwardly. He will stay with Jesus to the end. At the end he receives a new Mother  - on our behalf, and looks after her, so tradition tells, perhaps in Ephesus. Perhaps he writes the Apocalypse/revelation not far away on Patmos. His Gospel will be different - more thoughtful, poetic, theological. Where Matthew and Luke have Bethlehem, he has "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us". 
On Easter Sunday these two heroes, Peter and John, run together to the Tomb, but the younger (traditionally) John gives way to Peter to look inside. Some have said they represent the heart and the head of our faith. I love them both. They both love Jesus.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Palm Sunday




A powerful start to Holy Week.
This Palm Sunday I preached on the young man who ran away naked in the garden of Gethsemane. Some believe he was St Mark, who wrote the Gospel used this year. Strange how the Passion draws us in... we have to watch even though we want to turn away or even run away like the young man. 
And he is naked. I recalled another garden, Eden, where God was accustomed to walk with Adam and Eve, until they sinned. Then they became aware of their nakedness and hid from God. He came looking for them, but they had run away. They were afraid of being exposed to God just as they were - just as we are - just as the young man was.
To benefit fully from Holy Week we must be prepared to be fully exposed to the God who hangs (naked) on the Cross for us.  To be truly present to Jesus who is present to us. He loves us, and died for us, just as we are, not how we would like to be, or think we should be, or are told we must be. Just as we are, naked before the Lord. No need to run away.