Pastors Desk: The Nativity of John the Baptist / B

Posted 23rd June 2018 in Pastor's Desk

Pastor’s Desk 24th June 2018 - The Nativity of John the Baptist/B
nativity-of-john-the-baptist1The Feast of the Birth or Nativity of John the Baptist is one of the oldest on the church calendar. In fact, in medieval times it was one of the biggest feasts of the year, with three masses being offered, one at midnight and two others during the day. All over Europe it was common to see bonfires on hills and mountaintops on the eve of the feast. They were often referred to as St. John’s Eve fires and kept lighting until after midnight.

Traditionally the feast is held on June 24th which is three months after the feast of the Annunciation and six months before the celebration of the Lord’s birth at Christmas. It also served to replace the seemingly immoral pagan feast of the Summer solstice celebrated around the same date.

The reason we celebrate the Birth of John the Baptist today and not the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time is because of John’s prominent role as the forerunner of the messiah. He prepared Israel for the arrival of their long-awaited messiah by preaching repentance for their sins.

John is an inspiration to us all. He warned people that they needed to take stock of their lives, recognise their sinful ways, their faults and failings, and so change their ways. We need to have the courage and convictions that John the Baptist had and become the modern-day heralds or messengers in the various situations of life and turn people toward the Lord of love by what we say and do in our daily living.

May his life and message inspire us to greater holiness.

Fr Gerry

Pastors Desk: Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time / B

Posted 16th June 2018 in Pastor's Desk

Pastor’s Desk 17th June 2018 - Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time/B

treeI once knew a parish sister in my home parish who was, with the benefit of hindsight, far ahead of her time. From her many years working as a missionary in Africa, she realised the importance of encouraging parishioners to take on roles in the church.

Several people I know from that time, went on to work in ministry in the Diocese and I know that the advice they got from the parish sister really helped to shape their work in ministry.

Unfortunately, the parish sister did not live to see the fruits of her efforts but I think she would very much approve of the far greater involvement of lay people in the church in recent years which has been facilitated by courses in places like Mater Dei.
I thought of her when I read this Sunday’s gospel. It speaks about the farmer sowing the seed but not being aware of when and how tall it would grow.
I am reminded of words written about Archbishop Oscar Romero, who will be canonised by Pope Francis later this year.

“We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.”

I think that most of us are workers rather than master builders helping to create the kingdom of God in the world that we live in today. We should ask the Holy Spirit to assist us in our work.

Even small gestures on our part can make a big difference in spreading the Gospel whether it is by assisting others, taking time for prayer and reflection or getting involved in the life of our parish. People can be encouraged by the example of our lives and we must never underestimate how a good life, well lived can be a great example to people on their journey of faith.

Let us remember that the seed that we spread in our lives can bear fruit in ways beyond what we can ever imagine.

Deacon Gerard

Pastors Desk: Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time/B

Posted 9th June 2018 in Pastor's Desk

Pastor’s Desk 10th June 2018 - Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time/B

tenth-sundayWe all know that the world is full of temptation. That temptation can come in different guises. You only must know someone with an addiction to gambling, drugs or alcohol for example to understand how difficult it is to make positive life-giving choices each moment of the day to avoid the very thing that is causing them harm and making life difficult for those close to them.

But we are not alone in our struggles with temptation on any level. In the first reading today from the book of Genesis we are told that evil will be conquered or overcome. Saint Paul in his letter to the Corinthians encourages them by telling them how the one who raised the Lord Jesus to life will raise them to the Lord Jesus in turn. They must not weaken in their resolve as the troubles or temptation they are experiencing will soon be over.

Today’s gospel speaks of another type of temptation. Initially, Jesus’ own relatives wanted to take charge of him believing that he was ‘out of his mind’ and even possessed by the devil. Knowing that they were doubting and asking questions Jesus tries to challenge them by using parables. They didn’t really know how to handle Jesus. He warns them against division in the world and promotes unity among people as the cornerstone of his gospel message.

‘Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother’

Fr Gerry

Pastors Desk: The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ / B

Posted 2nd June 2018 in Pastor's Desk

Pastor’s Desk 3rd June 2018 - The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi)/B

corpus-christi3Today we celebrate the Feast of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ or Corpus Christi as it is more widely known.

The readings at Sunday masses follow a three-year cycle and each year there is a different theme for today’s feast. In this year ‘cycle B’ the emphasis is on the Eucharist as a sign of the covenant between God and humanity. It was Pope Urban IV who first extended the feast to the church worldwide during his own Pontificate.

During the offertory procession the grains of wheat that have been ground into flour and now made into bread and the grapes which have crushed to make the wine are brought forward for consecration. Our Lord chose these elements to show us that we need that essential connection with each other to allow the Holy Spirit to transform our lives. Christ is the head and we are the body. But together we are one. As Christians, today’s feast teaches us the importance of community.

Over the last four weeks, children from five of the eight schools in our parish grouping have received their First Communion. Today is an opportunity for us to reflect on the meaning of our own experience of that special day when each of us was called to the table of the Lord to receive the Eucharist for the first time.

May we celebrate this feast, not only today, but as often as possible when we come to mass and receive these gifts that have been freely given to us.

Fr Gerry

Pastors Desk: Feast of the Most Holy Trinity / B

Posted 26th May 2018 in Pastor's Desk

Pastor’s Desk 27th May 2018 - The Most Holy Trinity / B

holy-trinity4This weekend we have the fifth and final First Communion ceremony in our Parish grouping. Over the last month on each school day the children have come to the Church to practice for their special day. They have rehearsed over and over how to come forward with symbols and gifts, the scripture readings, the hymns, where to stand etc.

As they practice the correct way to come forward to receive on their First Communion day it is often amusing to see them struggle to bless themselves correctly after they have received for the first time and before they move away from the altar. No matter how many times teachers go through it with them it can be very confusing.

Blessing ourselves before and after prayer is something most of us have been doing since childhood. Perhaps we do it so often we might fail to recognise its importance. As we gather at the beginning of mass we bless ourselves ‘in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’ and as we depart the priest imparts a blessing in the name of that same Trinity.

Understanding the Blessed Trinity is one of the most difficult areas of Christian belief to understand. The method used by Saint Patrick, using the three leaves of the shamrock, is probably the best-known attempt to explain it to our human minds.

We should never look on the Trinity as a problem to be solved or something to test our faith. Whenever we make the sign of the cross as we bless ourselves, we express our faith, invoking the name of the one God who is love.

Fr Gerry