Sunday, 27 August 2017

21st Sunday of the Year

'You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church' - Matthew 16:18

Sistine chapel Fresco, Pietro Perugino

The ‘power of the Church derives from this moment in the Gospels where Jesus gives the authority and power to Peter and the disciples. Today we celebrate the gift of the church and especially the Sacraments which Christ gave to the Church so that people like us could be first accepted and then retained within the Church despite our unworthiness.

Items in this week's newsletter:

CONSIDERING YOUR VOCATION AS A DEACON? :Oscott Seminary have introduced a preparatory year for men discerning a call to the Permanent Diaconate. This Propaedeutic year consists of three sessions (Friday-Saturday) and commences on 10th/11th November. The other dates for this academic year are 26th/27th January and 16/17th March.  Its aim is to help candidates better understand the reality of a vocation to Holy Orders and to discern whether this is what God is calling them to. There will be Parish based pastoral elements, spiritual formation and intellectual input given through teaching, seminars and discussions.   Wives of prospective candidates will also be supported during these days and are encouraged to attend. Attendance at these days does not commit an individual to beginning the formation program, but is part of the overall selection process.For further information, please e-mail Fr Peter Hart as soon as possible, or complete the Preliminary enquiry form. Application deadline is 1st November.

ORDINATIONS TO THE PRIESTHOOD. Deacon Ian Westby will be raised to the Sacred Priesthood on Tuesday 24th October in Stockton-on-Tees. Please keep him in your prayers. The Ordination of Deacons at Spanish Place in June was a great occasion and plans are already being made regarding priestly Ordinations next year. It is likely that our two Scottish deacons will be ordained in Scotland and I hope that we will have one Ordination Mass for the other candidates at a central location.

ORDINARIATE LAY CONFERENCE 2018. The Pastoral Council of the Ordinariate is arranging a Lay Conference to be held at Worth Abbey form 7th-9th August 2018. The theme of the conference is Being Ordinariate and it is envisaged that each Group will send 2 to 5 delegates who will return to their groups feeling ‘enthused, motivated, informed, and empowered’. Full board accommodation at Worth Abbey will cost £60 per person per night and for any wishing to go this will be covered by the Reading Mission. Full details will follow, but please let Fr Elliott know if you would like to be one of the delegates.

Kevin McNamara RIP. Jesu mercy, Mary pray.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Feast of the Epiphany

The Epiphany is always very heavily loaded with imagery and this is for two principal reasons. Firstly there are many traditions and these additional traditions means that Mass on the day of the Epiphany itself always becomes very crowded with the rich variety – with Magi water, the blessing of chalk, the presentation of incense, procession to the crib, and the proclamation of the date of Easter. For this reason we will use the shorter Eucharistic prayer today and also move from the creed straight to the offertory. Please as you offer your incense to the priest offer it for some cause or person by way of an intercession.

The second reason Epiphany can be crowded is that we mark not one but three events: the coming of the Magi, the Baptism of Christ, and the first miracle at the Wedding at Cana in Galilee. Some years each of these gets a dedicated Sunday (in year C – such as last year). Other years we only get two and occasionally only one Sunday. This is one such year where we get one Sunday, with the Baptism falling in the week. So there is far too much for us to celebrate in one Mass. I encourage you all to ponder on the mysteries of the Epiphany over the next few days so that the great richness that is offered does not go unheeded.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Reading Ordinariate group calendar

Our calendar for the year's events can now be found online by clicking here. This calendar will be updated throughout the year, a link to the most up-to-date calendar will appear in the sidebar (non-mobile version only).

Happy New Year ... again

Although Mary is the Mother of God, she is not his mother in the sense that she is older than God or the source of her Son's divinity, for she is neither. Rather, we say that she is the Mother of God in the sense that she carried in her womb a divine person - Jesus Christ, God 'In the flesh' (2 John 7, c.f. John 1:14) - and in the sense that she contributed the genetic matter to the human form God took in Jesus Christ.

To avoid this conclusion, Fundamentalists often assert that Mary did not carry God in her womb but only carried Christ's human nature. This assertion reinvents a heresy from the fifth century known as Nestorianism, which runs aground on the fact that a mother does not merely carry the nature of her child in her womb. Rather, she carries the person of her child. Women do not give birth to human natures; they give birth to persons. Mary thus carried and gave birth to the person of Jesus Christ, and the person she gave birth to was God.

The Nestorian claim that Mary did not give birth to the unified person of Jesus Christ attempts to separate Christ's human nature from his divine nature, creating two separate and distinct persons - one divine and one human - united in a loose affiliation. It is therefore a Christological heresy, which even the Protestant Reformers recognized. Both Martin Luther and John Calvin insisted on Mary's divine maternity. In fact, it even appears that Nestorius himself may not have believed the heresy named after him. Futher, the 'Nestorian' church has now signed a joint declaration on Christology with the Catholic Church and recognizes Mary's divine maternity, just as other Christians do.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Advent Meditation III

Today is the final day of the O Antiphons about which we sang on Sunday in the hymn O come, O come Emmanuel.

Emmanuel- God with us- this was a radical fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies which the Jews had never dreamed would happen: a divine Messiah. Though the promises all refer to and fit Jesus, the Messiah expected by the Israelites was not divine. To their reasoning, none could be literally divine, really the Son of God. Their expectation of a saving ruler did not assume that God would share His very nature and essence with the Anointed One.

Emmanuel reflects an entirely Christian and entirely new theology, one of Incarnation and an immanence hitherto unknown. God with us, sharing every hardship of humanity in His own flesh, dwelling not in a Temple spiritually, but as flesh and blood among humanity, wishing to remain with us until the end of time. This is a dramatic contrast to the affection, yet distance with which the Lord was regarded in the Old Testament.

Emmanuel- God with us- it finally springs the liturgical construct of “waiting” all through and admits that we knew He was there all along. Advent has that flavour, of a pretended waiting for Him Whom we know to have already arrived. We place ourselves in the shoes of those who had Him not in order to better appreciate Him Whom we have had all along.

We hail Christ as King and Lawgiver (Isaiah 32:22,) and echo the dying words of Jacob in Genesis 49:10, ” The sceptre will not pass from Judah, nor a ruler form his thigh, till He comes that is to be sent. He is the expectation of the nations.” We ask Him to save us. The Latin “Salva” , the imperative form of “to save,” is related to “salus”, health, wholeness. We are asking for a holistic well- being of mind, soul and body when we thus ask to be saved. We are, in fact, asking finally to be made perfect, fully whole and sound, something only God can do!

Lastly, we no longer beat around the bush, (burning or otherwise!) We come right out and directly call Jesus “our Lord and our God.” It is the crowning acclamation of faith to a long season of expectation.

A blessed late Advent and Christmas to you all.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Advent Mediation II

'I will take my stand to watch
And station myself on the tower'. Habakkuk 2:1

Advent is a time for looking back as well as forward. One of the areas we are especially drawn towards is the era of the prophets in the Old Testament. The second and third Sundays of Advent feature John the Baptist especially strongly. He is the linchpin between the Old and New Testaments. He is the last of the prophets: after him there is no need of prophecy in the same way - after Christ's first coming it is the time of mission and the Church. However there is still that same sense of expectation we find in many of the prophets.

Habakkuk who gives us the image of the watchtower lived at the time of the fall of Judah. The book of Habakkuk is a dialogue between himself and God. Habakkuk expresses the fact that Judah fell away from God, and because of this Judah cannot now complain that they are being invaded by a foreign power. Judah has, in effect, forfeited its right to God's care.

Habakkuk however comes to a startling conclusion: one which may be lost on many today. Until this time the Jews always thought of salvation as something which happens to the whole nation and here on the Earth. In other words if the Israelites obeyed God they would all be saved, and their salvation would be in this life rather than in any future life. In chapter two of Habakkuk however the distinction is not so much between Jew and non Jew but between those who are righteous and those who are not righteous. God recognises the injustice in punishing all people for the sins of the few, and therefore Habakkuk emphasises the idea of personal salvation. This is important for us Christians because we believe that our God is a personal God and he teaches and guides us all individually while having the ability to have in perspective the needs of the whole universe. St Paul is much influenced by this idea of salvation for he says, 'He who through faith is righteous shall live'.

Each of us must also set up a watchtower that we might watch for what the Lord has to say to us. Sometimes that might mean putting his wishes before our own selfish pride. Only when pride, that most deceptive of deadly sins, is overcome, can we make room for God in our lives.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Advent Meditation I

The Book of Baruch in the Old Testament has this to say:

People, look east.
The time is near
Of the crowning of the year.
Make your house fair as you are able,
Trim the hearth and set the table.
People, look east, and sing today:
Love the Guest is on the way.

As you know in the past few months at Mass we have begun to face East again. This was suggested recently as preferred practice by Cardinal Sarah and rather divides opinion in some areas of the Church. There would be good reason for suggesting that when we worship in Advent we should all face east.  This is not because of some nostalgia for the good old days before liturgical renewal when priest and people all faced the east. But rather because of that cry, People, look east, which encapsulates so much of the spirituality of Advent.

Why this emphasis on the east?  Well, its origins are in the way certain Old Testament texts were applied to Christ by the early Christians. The sun is the dominant light in our human experience. But Christ is seen as a greater Sun. So, in the Book of Malachi, Christ is the fulfillment of the prophecy of the ‘Sun of Righteousness, who will rise with healing in his wings’.  In Psalm 19, Christ is the Sun, ‘who comes forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber and rejoices as a giant to run his course, who goes forth from the uttermost part of the heaven and runs to the very end again’. And because he is the true Sun, he is also the true dawn. So in the Benedictus, Christ is the promised ‘dayspring from on high’, who gives light ‘to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death’. In beholding the rising sun, the cosmos itself witnesses to Christ, the ‘true and only Light’.

O oriens, we cry in this season as one of the great Advent antiphons. O Dayspring, Brightness of Light everlasting, and Sun of righteousness. Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

So Advent orients us, or re-orients us towards the east. Advent brings together the Christ who came in the great humility of his first coming; who comes to us daily through his words and his sacraments, who will come, as surly as the sun will rise, as the dawn will break.  People, look east. In Advent, the nights are long; we yearn for the coming of the day, the coming of the light.  In December, on certain days, the dawns are magnificent - in the past few days few of us can have missed the beautiful clear, sunny daybreaks. A beautiful dawn becomes its own sermon. People, look east – and see the promise of God’s glory; a glory we now glimpse in the shining splendour of light.

But as the evenings continue to draw in the sun sets all too early. The growing darkness of this season encourages us to look east: not in wonder and amazement but in expectation. We wait, however long, for the next daybreak. The Church too in this season remains undaunted by the wait for Christ's return in glory, for we know that when it comes it will be worth the wait. Stay awake! Watch! Pray!  Advent is a season to grasp again the reality of salvation to enable us to live by faith and not by sight, to ‘see the invisible’. Wordsworth’s Ode speaks of the youth ‘who daily further from the east must travel’, and yet in Christ we turn, a good Advent word, back to the east, we are re-oriented to where through the saints we have our intimations of immortality. People, look east.

By facing east in Church we are all drawn to the image of the Cross on the altar and to the tabernacle. Cross and altar are many faceted symbol of Christ’s sacrifice, Christ’s presence, of Christ as the source of all nourishment, Christ who feeds us and the world with the gift of himself. Like all who read the Scriptures with care, we agree with the Epistle to the Hebrews that Christ’s sacrifice was offered once when he bore the sins of the world on the cross. And yet, in a real sense, his sacrifice is eternal, for he pleads that sacrifice eternally before the Father. People, look east, for what happened 2,000 years ago in the orient was an eternal moment, drawing us back to that place where heaven and earth were reconciled. And we will only know the full and wondrous length and breadth and height and depth of that sacrifice when we see its fruit, when at last heaven and earth are made one, and a new humanity is revealed, and Christ is owned by all as Lord and King. The subdued purple hangings remind that God’s ultimate purposes in Christ are yet to be fulfilled, which makes our prayer, Marana tha, ‘Our Lord, come’, ‘thy kingdom come’ all the more urgent.

Advent is a time to be re-oriented because Advent is the great season of hope. ‘The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light’.  People, Look east!