Dear Friends this year we have two Covenant Masses in Lent – maybe like a ‘blue moon’. We could take the lenten resolution to attend both this year. You are welcome to join us tomorrow night, Sunday 18th February at 7.30pm. Our University Students are preparing the Mass and St Edmund’s group will play for Mass. In his Lenten Message this year Pope Francis reminds us of a Word from St Matthew: “Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold” (Mt 24:12). He goes on to explain “In his description of hell, Dante Alighieri pictures the devil seated on a throne of ice, in frozen and loveless isolation. We might well ask ourselves how it happens that charity can turn cold within us. What are the signs that indicate that our love is beginning to cool?” Perhaps our Lenten Journey as missionary apostles of the Covenant of Love can be to bring warmth into the lives of those feeling cold and to ask the Holy Spirit to reach out to those whose heart is in danger of freezing over. Please come along and bring family and friends with you. We will also collect donations for our clothes and food bank
Welcome to our Lenten Workshop. Please find the details below
The Jewish Hasidic tradition teaches that everyone should have two pockets in their coats with two slips of paper.
One slip says: “I am only dust and ashes.”
The other “For me the whole universe was created.”
Sometimes we need to remember that first slip of paper, as we have done and will do tonight as we come to be marked with the ashes of repentance, and sometimes we also need to remember the second – to remember that we have been adopted by God in Christ – that through him God forgives us – and calls us his “Beloved” – everything has been made out of love for us.
“I am only dust and ashes” These ashes are a reminder of who we are. The Bible tells us that we came from the dust and to the dust we shall return. The first human was formed out of the dust of the earth by God and then God breathed life into that dust. That is a powerful image. One that is meant to remind us that without the breath or Spirit of God moving in us, we are just like these ashes: lifeless – worthless.These ashes are also a sign of repentance. They are a way of showing on the outside what is happening on the inside. We are truly sorry for our sins. Lent is a time when we are called to repent and change our ways.
“For me the whole universe was created”The mark of the cross is a mark of ownership. These ashes tonight remind us that we are Christ’s – that he died so that we might live.It is also significant that we use palm branches to make these ashes. The palms are a symbol of victory. By making the ashes from the palms of Palm Sunday we are reminded, if we truly repent, that Christ will be victorious in us.
”Lent, a holistic preparation” Workshop, meditation, reconciliation and mass. A programme for young people on Saturdays of Lent 2017, 3pm – 6pm at the Schoenstatt Shrine, Kearsley
4th March: grace to grow
11th March: grace of freedom and learning
18th March: grace to love-covenant-candlelight
25th March: stations of grace in life
Concluding with Pizza Evening, visit to the Shrine and personal time at the Schoenstatt Centre (Click here for details)
by Fr Duncan McVicar on 18/03/2016
The mercy of God was the original experience of Israel throughout the hundreds of years of adventure and drama in its history. Their main experience, in a very special way, was the mercy and love of God. Their entire history is determined by God who, with the love of a father, draws close to people, enters their personal lives, and ultimately sets them free. This merciful God always sees their needs and is determined, out of love, to liberate them. The liberation and the Exodus of the people of Israel from the land of Egypt was, for the Chosen People, the most important experience and their deepest encounter with God. Very close to the story of Exodus is also the story of the Exile of Israel in Babylonia, and how God, without their merit, brought his people home after many many years of imprisonment, suffering and humiliation. The people of Israel always understood these events – even to the present day – as the greatest expression of the forgiving love and the absolute faithfulness of God. Through this merciful love, God reveals again and again his deepest desire and aim to be united with his people in an unbreakable covenant of love – a covenant, that is so unbreakable that even the greatest sin and the greatest unfaithfulness towards him cannot destroy it. In the Old Testament, we notice how God shows his love as the power and faithfulness of a spouse or bridegroom who is united for the ever to his bride. His love is so great and so faithful, that he is always willing to forgive her “adultery” and the ever recurring betrayal of his Chosen People. The prophets, throughout the Old Testament, proclaimed to the people the faithful mercy of God. Mercy, for them, is that special power of love – his fatherly gaze towards us – a power that is stronger than any sin or any unfaithfulness. For the coming Sundays, we will look at three examples of the witness of God’s mercy in the Old Testament: Firstly, the Prophet Hosea, secondly, the Prophet Isaiah, and then thirdly, Psalm 103.
by Fr Duncan McVicar on 12/03/2016
There has always been a question why does God allow sin to happen? St Paul, in his Letter to the Romans, gives a beautiful answer when he says: “So that God can show us even more mercy” (Romans 11:32). St Paul even boasts about his weaknesses and his limitations because, in his experience, the power of Christ and the love of Christ can be even more powerfully felt and experienced. That’s why we have to encourage each other that we don’t suppress our weaknesses and our sins, but that we acknowledge them and we allow them to draw us closer to God and to nudge us gently into the arms of the merciful Father. The temptations we experience and the sins that we all commit, in the eyes of God, should draw us closer to him, and should even be a means to be close to God. That’s why he allows sin to happen in our lives, that’s why he allows us to experience our own weaknesses and limitations. When this happens to us, we have no reason, therefore, to wonder why, or to be confused, or to be discouraged in any way. The opposite should be true in our lives: when we sin and when we experience temptation and when we experience how fragile we all are then something should happen in our souls that pushes us upwards towards God. That is how we can explain how St Paul comes to this remarkable conclusion: “I boast about my weaknesses with joy, because through them the power of Christ can be even more manifest in me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). When we are tempted and when we sin then, naturally, we should be aware of our inner poverty and how fragile we are – and for that reason, we should become more humble in the healthy and true sense of the word. True humility, actually, pushes us closer to God and also helps us to trust God more, and to trust in his limitless mercy in our lives. When we experience our own weaknesses and sinfulness, then we can have a lot more patience, not only with ourselves, but with the mistakes and the weaknesses of the people around us. Through the experience of our own weaknesses and sinfulness, we can learn to understand and deal with the weaknesses and sinfulness of others in a much better and in a much healthier way. God knows how to use everything in our lives to turn that into something good. That’s why St Augustine wrote about and used a quote from St Paul so often: “God will make sure that everything turns out for the best for those who love him”. He quoted this so often in his writings but then he always added: “And he also uses our sins so that everything will work out for the best!” It is so significant for us, in our spiritual lives, to rediscover how Jesus revealed to us how much of a Father God is. God doesn’t just act like a father or has the attitudes or approach of a father, but he is truly our merciful Father. In his love and in his care for each one of us, he is interested in the smallest and most insignificant details of our lives. And that’s why, in this Jubilee Year of Mercy, it is so important to see the biggest attribute of God’s love for us, God’s fatherhood, and his boundless mercy for each one of us.
by Fr Duncan McVicar on 06/03/2016
These are the realities of faith, which we can base our lives and our personal spirituality on. And this Jubilee Year of Mercy, is the opportunity to allow these realities to take hold of our lives perhaps more than they have in the past: The first reality is to really believe in God’s endless mercy for each one of us; and the second reality is to understand – in a healthy way – our own misery and sinfulness. We should not go through life, thinking that we have to earn or merit God’s love or mercy, but we should build our life on the foundation of the merciful love of God and that our own misery and our own inner poverty – if we except them, understand them correctly, and say “yes” to them – will be the way that we can draw closer to God in our lives. If we recognise our own sinfulness and weakness, and if we are able to see our “yes” to our own sinfulness and weakness, then we actually put God in the position that he “cannot do anything” else but pour out his love and his mercy into our lives. When a child comes before the loving Father, and simply says I am weak, I am sinful, I am helpless, I can’t do on my own – then God, our merciful Father, can do nothing else but give us his mercy and his healing love in abundance. It is as if, the child becomes in effect “all-powerful” and God has simply “no resistance”. He can only respond to our acknowledged weaknesses with love. He can’t do anything else. He doesn’t want to to do anything else. It is so important for us, over and over again, to rediscover what it means that we are all children of one merciful Father. And this Father – who is “an eternal exchange of love” – wishes to draw us into the most intimate communion with him, and share his Divine life with us, so that each one of us can truly say that we are children of God. How little do we really know about this great truths of our faith! How little do the people of today take in this truth, that could change everything in people’s lives! We are all sons and daughters of God. This is our core identity! Does a child not go immediately to its father or mother when it has a hurt, or a need, or a worry and fear? And when the child comes and asks for help from the parents, does not the love of the parents find a new awakening at the request of their own children? It is even more so with our merciful Father in heaven – he wants to give himself completely to us in love, because he is love itself. Because he is love in his essence he wants to share himself and give himself completely. God is an eternal “exchange of love”. True love always goes beyond itself and wishes to grow and extend its borders. God wants to love us and he wants to unite himself to those who try and love others in the way that he loves. That’s why we can speak about this unusual and original “weakness” of God: he cannot withstand the moment when you and I recognise our own weaknesses and our own sinfulness and acknowledge them wholeheartedly. In the moment that we do this, he can do nothing else but pour his love and his boundless mercy into our hearts.