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Parish Secretary

Food for Faith – online prayer support for ADVENT

Food for Faith – online prayer support for ADVENT

 During Lent this year Father John O’Connor of Christchurch provided “daily email encouragements” through his website Food for Faith to people who signed up for them. The programme was very successful and in response to the enthusiasm, Food for Faith is offering an opportunity for daily reflection during ADVENT. Every day of December 2017 those who sign up will receive an email encouragement, perhaps a paragraph or two, or brief video clip or podcast. If you would like to sign up for the daily Advent emails, visit Food for Faith and look for the purple sign-up box.

Please spread the word about this opportunity through parish newsletters, email lists etc. A short message for newsletters could be:

“Through his website Fr John O’Connor of Christchurch is offering an opportunity for Advent reflection.  Every day in December those who sign up will receive a short reflection by email. Visit the website and look for the purple sign-up box.”

Cardinal John’s Newsletter 23 November 2017

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

From +John…

Dear Friends
On the Solemnity of Christ the King last year I was priv-ileged to be at a Mass in St Peter’s Square, the closing Mass for the Year of Mercy. At the end of the Mass Pope Francis signed his Apostolic Letter Misericordia et Misera. In that letter, he told us that while the Year of Mercy might have finished “Now it is time to look to the future and to understand how best to continue, with joy, fidelity and enthusiasm, experiencing the richness of God’s mercy, Let us not sadden the Spirit, who con-stantly points out new paths to take in bringing to eve-ryone the Gospel of salvation.” (MM5) This is a won-derful Letter and it is worth reflecting on, praying with and then acting on. It can easily be found by going online and searching for Misericordia et Misera.

The Holy Father reminded the world that “the door of mercy of our heart continues to remain wide open. We have learned that God bends down to us (cf. Hos 11:4) so that we may imitate him in bending down to our brothers and sisters.” (MM 16) He then went on to tell us that he had the idea that the Church might celebrate, on the Thirty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, the World Day of the Poor. That of course was last Sunday for us. All parishes were sent a video to be played which encouraged us to create a “culture of encounter” with the poor in our society. Just as the Year of Mercy continues by our living MERCY, so last Sunday was not just one day to give a little thought to the poor and then to be forgotten about. There are homeless on our streets, there are people who struggle to make ends meet, there are families who cannot afford medical care, who cannot educate their children; there are endless opportunities for us to encounter the poor and reach out a helping hand. “We are called to promote a culture of mercy based on the rediscovery of encounter with others, a culture in which no one looks at another with indifference or turns away from the suffering of our brothers and sis-ters.” (MM 20)

Last Sunday was the first World Day of the Poor and this coming Sunday it is a year since Pope Francis wrote this powerful letter and released it in the Solemnity of Christ the King. This Sunday we will hear the words in the Mass about Jesus presenting to God the Father “A kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace.” We help build that Kingdom by the way we care for the poor.

With every blessing

+ John

The full newsletter can be viewed here.



HOMILY – 33rd SUNDAY [A] 2017

Pope Francis chose this Sunday for the first World Day of the Poor, because it is followed next week by the festival of Christ the King, whose purpose in coming was to bring good news to the poor, give the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free.  So, today, we remind ourselves of this mission, renew our stand against all forms of poverty, and say YES to the call of Jesus to be part of his reign.  This will mean, of course, recognising our own poverty before God.

Our Archbishop, Cardinal John, has prepared a presentation on can be viewed through the link provided.  In it he asks us to approach poverty in its widest sense – realising that we are all poor without the gifts with which God blesses us.  These are found in the earth and atmosphere that support life.  They belong to everyone.  Living justly and lovingly, destroying meanness with kindness and prejudice with friendship, are the surest ways of making everyone rich.

Perfection, as the Book of Proverbs, claims, is unattainable if your concern is only for yourself.  The reading speaks of the perfect wife, but it applies to everyone: She holds out her hand to the poor, she opens her arms to the needy…  This concern for others comes from awareness that we cannot survive on our own.  We are connected to all life, including earth, sea and sky.  When those bonds are broken, poverty is released to cripple and scar relationships.

The parable of the talents tells us that whatever we’re given, however little, is not meant for us alone.  Our gifts are on loan, to be grown and developed for the good of all creation.  Letting them lie fallow contributes nothing to growth and only invites decay.  As you listen to Cardinal John’s presentation and watch the scenes illustrating the message, identify in your heart the gifts that are yours, and think how quickly and positively you might respond.

The Cathedral Connection 19 November 2017

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

As last year’s Year of Mercy drew to a close, Pope Francis had “an intuition” to call the whole Church to a “World Day of the Poor”. This would be on the Sunday prior to the festival of Christ the King “who identified Himself with the little ones and who will judge us on the works of mercy.”

The Pope explained it would be a day for each baptised person to reflect on “the way in which poverty is at the heart of the Gospel (leading each to) a pastoral conversion to be a witness of mercy.”

On this first World Day of the Poor, Cardinal John offers a reflection on the theme which will be screened at each Mass. He reminds us we do not live in the dark but in the light of Jesus Christ, “so we cannot claim ignorance of the struggles that people face in coping with daily life.”

Called to be stewards of the gifts with which we have been blessed, we can each help to overcome the difficulties of one another. There is generally good support for our weekly “Food Bank”, but the poor are not only those lacking food or shelter.  Pope Francis illustrates the broader sweep of poverty:

Blessed are the open hands that embrace the poor, bringing hope.
Blessed are the hands that reach beyond every barrier of culture, religion and nationality, and pour the balm of consolation over the wounds of humanity.
Blessed are the open hands that ask nothing in exchange –
These are hands that call down blessings on their brothers and sisters.

All this is showing us that the witness of mercy is only truly given in deeds and action and rarely in words alone.

Fr James

The full newsletter can be viewed here.