Who will be saved? Luke 13:22-30

According to C.S. Lewis, "A continual looking forward to the eternal world is not a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do."

Heaven and eternal life are our goal and purpose. This is not to deny that we have free will and can ultimately reject God through our own decision – but because God desires that everyone should be saved (see 2 Peter 3:9).

from Bible Alive for 31 October 2018.

Chris
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Every human . . .

"I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God." Luke 12:8.

And C S Lewis summed up the meaning of today's gospel (Luke 12:1-7) like this:

"It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which,if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendours."

Lord grant me the grace to relate to everyone equally, justly, fairly, conscious of their dignity and worth in God's eyes.

Chris


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The Lord – Blessed John Henry Newman

"May the Lord support us all the day long, till the shades lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over and our work is done.

"Then in his mercy may he give us safe lodging, and holy rest, and rest at the last. Amen"

Blessed John Henry Newman
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Strangers

Today's gospel, Matthew 9:38-48, deals with strangers who deal in the business of the disciples – driving out demons in the name of Jesus. The disciples appear to be jealous of outsiders doing what was their prerogative (or that of Jesus, their Lord).

But Jesus reminds them that if these people are not against Jesus and his disciples they are for them: no one can be neutral when it comes to the Word. Perhaps we need to be reminded of our tendency to reject outsiders who might jeopardise our own position in society, that the Spirit works wherever he wills, that Jesus and his redemption are for anyone who will accept Jesus as Lord.

Chris
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The scandal of grace

Luke 7:36-50

In today's gospel, Jesus teaches the Pharisee about grade. Every human being has fallen short of God's glory; those who find themselves in the cycle of addiction, the trap of sexual sin or the grip of obsession appear in greater need of salvation. Simon the Pharisee considered himself superior to the woman "who had lived a sinful life".

But we all need God's grace; we all benefit from God's forgiveness.

Chris
(from today's Bible Alive Reflection)
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Notes from Canon Bennie

Thank you everybody who kept things going while I was on Holiday.

I had a great break, thank God. I spent all of my time in County Cork after travelling to see friends in the Dublin & Leinster area.

May God reward you who give God and His Church of your time.

Praise indeed! From our Local Authority.

Bishop Peter, a few years back, asked us to question ourselves….. what impression do our Churches give to outsiders who do not worship in any Church ?

A few weeks ago there was a By-election in Biggleswade. In recent years our Church has been used as a Polling Station. During this By-Election the Returning Officer had occasion to visit as part of her duty. She was fulsome in her praise of us. Compared to many such Election Day venues we stood out for our facilities (clean toilets, kitchen etc. Enthusiastically we have been booked for the Local Elections next May!). So well done folk who help in any way to give a very, very positive response to Bishop Peter’s query.

[Extracted from the 12 Aug 18 newsletter by Chris]
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How to be Perfect

Not that it's easy, of course, and only our Father can be perfect, but we can try:

1. In Character – aspire to like Christ as much as possible.

2. In Holiness – devote ourselves to God's desires, carrying his love and mercy into the world.

3. In Maturity – mature in our love and devotion to God, learning as we try to live in Christ Jesus.

4. In Love – we seek to love other as completely as our Father loves us.

[Paraphrased from a footnote to Matthew 5:48 in the Life Application Bible.]

Chris
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The Gospel of Luke in video clips

I have the YouVersion Bible app on my iPhone and iPad; it's a great way to read the Bible, particularly when I'm away from home and I'm not carrying my own heavy Bible from home (NIV called the Reflections Bible).

Today I received an email from YouVersion suggesting that I watch video clips of St Luke's Gospel. The videos are very well done (I've watched the first three so far) and I recommend them to anyone; they could be the basis for a prayer session.

You can find them here:
https://www.bible.com/en-GB/videos/3280/series

God bless

Chris
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Confirmations

Pray for our Confirmation Children and for all who helped them.

We had a lovely Ceremony during the week. Both our and the St Francis’ Parish united wonderfully for the Evening…… thank you Will and the Servers & your Parents who arranged to get ye to Shefford, Nick and the Singers.

A great Big Thank You to all involved in the Formation of the 21 Candidates – especially Liz Carey-Sheill, Deacon Peter Hyde, Eddie O’Callaghan and Neil Spencer. Thank you too to those who did Sessions, particularly Deacon John and Sue Armstrong.

And a huge “gratias” also to our Social Committee for taking on the task which would have been done normally by our Union of Catholic Mothers (they were in Swanwick for the UCM annual National Conference – this year it was the turn of OUR Diocese to lead the National Annual Event, which very much involved Bishop Peter and our own Diocesan President – who happens to be a Parishioner at Shefford. And – bless them – the Shefford Ladies went to support their local Lady as she ensured the National Committee and various Diocesan Committees got a welcome at Swanwick for their AGM!

So thank you Social Committee – it was a huge relief to Liz when ye selflessly answered her call to help in the Catering for the Confirmed and for their Parents, for their Sponsors and for their Guests.

Bishop Peter was effusive in his compliments to me as he left the Evening. Deo Gratias.

May God reward everybody who can give of their valuable time to evangelise our Young.

Canon Bennie
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A Priestly Prayer

In today's Gospel, Jesus, the great High Priest, show us his prayer, a prayer for all time. John 17 is the High Priestly prayer that teaches us God's plan for our lives.

You can read the whole chapter
here.

Chris
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The Kerygma

Acts 3:11-26

One of the central truths is the basic gospel message, the kerygma. It is this initial proclamation of the gospel that has the power to change our world our culture and our society – but most of all ourselves. It is first and foremost the message of God's mercy, the message that: "God loves you, Jesus forgives you your sins and the Holy Spirit gives you strength. God has a plan for your life, and you are son or daughter of God, who pours out upon you every spiritual blessing, grace and gift."

Chris
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Repentance

John 13:21-38

"No one is beyond redemption. There is no crime, no misdeed, no transgression beyond the reach of God's mercy. However, the sin or transgression that is beyond God's reach, that cannot be forgiven, is where the person who committed it does not seek or want God's forgiveness or mercy. They close their heart and turn their back on God . . . This is why the grace or repentance, the act of contrition, is such a mercy: because it is a sign of God's presence in our lives."

Lord Jesus, this Lent lead me to make a good confession. May I seek out the grace of God's mercy and forgiveness with a humble and contrite heart.

Bible Alive
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Waste some time . . .

John 12:1-11

One of our most precious commodities is our time. During Holy Week, like Mary, we wash Jesus' feet with oil and tears of our time. Waste some time, pour it out generously; find some space to be still and be with God.

Chris (quote from
Bible Alive)
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The Meaning of the Cross

Jesus's cross "has given a meaning to the various, shifting course, the trials, the temptations, the sufferings, of his earthly state. It has brought together and made consistent all that seemed discordant and aimless. It has taught us how to live, how to use this world, what to expect, what to desire, what to hope. It is the tone into which all the strains of this world’s music are ultimately to be resolved.”

Blessed John Henry Newman
http://www.cardinaljohnhenrynewman.com/embracing-the-cross-cardinal-newman/
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Holy Week

On Sunday Holy Week begins. Remember that Jesus was not the victim of the events or of the circumstances of his Passion and death: we witness the unfolding of God's plan of salvation. It is the greatest story ever told, but it isn't only a story; these are real events from history. We give thanks and praise to Jesus because he chose freely and willingly to lay down his life – for us.

"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep."
John 10:11

Chris
from
Bible Alive
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Prayer – from Bible Alive

In the prayer at the beginning of Mass, the liturgy points out three key attitudes: vigilance in prayer, diligence in charity and exultation in praise. Firstly, we must pray with vigilance. Secondly, we must be hardworking in charity: fraternal charity – not only giving alms, but being tolerant of those who annoy us, our children when they make too much noise, or our husband or wife when they are difficult. Charity or love always mean sweat, hard work, even tears. And thirdly we must be exultant in joy. This desire to encounter the Lord must be our quest, our deepest thirst and desire.

Bible Alive, 7 March 2018

Holy Spirit, give me the grace today to be an authentic witness of Christian joy, hope and love.

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From Father Bennie

I hope that, for you, Lent is going well. Already we are in the second week! Please do look around for Villages’ Lent Courses and Hunger/ Frugal Lunches going on.

This Monday our own Course begins. It will run for 5 Mondays. It is based on Our Lady and how she carried out God’s will and how she can help us do just this.

Looking ahead, we will all be affected by the Parish having to share me with Shefford – especially in Holy Week. I am hoping that parishioners at both St Francis and here can share my services during Holy Week.

I hope to do the Holy Thursday Mass at Shefford (8.00pm) plus Watching until Midnight. Then I hope to do the Easter Vigil here at St Peter’s (8.00pm Saturday). Good Friday is easy because Deacon Peter Hyde can lead the Afternoon Liturgy (3pm) at Shefford while I am leading here at St Peter’s (3.00pm).
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From Father Bennie

Lent is the special Season when the Church gives us the opportunity to deepen our Catholic Faith. It is a season of amazing possibilities for grace.

We had an excellent start to Lent with a full Church for the Ash Wednesday Mass. Deo Gratias. Well done everyone who was able to make it………. on a cold and miserable evening.

Looking ahead, we will all be affected by the Parish having to share me with Shefford – especially in Holy Week. I am hoping that parishioners at both St Francis and here can share my services during Holy Week.

I hope to do the Holy Thursday Mass at Shefford (8.00pm) plus Watching until Midnight. Then I hope to do the Easter Vigil here at St Peter’s (8.00pm Saturday). Good Friday is easy because Deacon Peter Hyde can lead the Afternoon Liturgy (3pm) at Shefford while I am leading here at St Peter’s (3.00pm).

This year the annual Lenten Course is on the role that Our Lady plays in the life of the Catholic. It runs on Monday evenings. Coming along will not only enlighten you but also it will help you meet other people and to discuss with them your Faith.

And do not forget that Ecumenically there are Lenten Meetings. Going along to these ecumenical events would be a great way of sharing with your fellow Christians.


Fr. Bennie
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From Father Bennie

Lent is the special Season when the Church gives us the opportunity to deepen our Catholic Faith. It begins on Wednesday with Mass and Ashes at 7.30 p.m.

I do hope and pray that you will use this time of extra Grace to get to know God better and to get to deepen your Faith. On Wednesday we are asked to abstain from meat and meat products.

Also we are asked to fast on Wednesday - one main meal and 2 light meals.

This year the annual Lenten Course is on the role that Our Lady plays in the life of the Catholic. It runs on Monday evenings. Coming along will not only enlighten you but also it will help you meet other people and to discuss with them your Faith.


Fr. Bennie
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"Let It Be"

Come - Join St Peter’s Lent Faith Sharing Course - “Let it be”

Led through 5 weeks of engaging video sessions, this Inspiring course will explore Our Lady; past & present. Mary is arguably the greatest Lady ever; chosen by God, the First and Perfect disciple, Mother of the Church, Queen of Heaven and an advocate to God for all Christians. Mary is the perfect model for us to follow;  her example will help us become ever closer to her son and our saviour Lord Jesus Christ.

Each person attending will be given a free course book that links to the video sessions and will help you appreciate Mary’s significance to your personal faith journey. The book includes prayers and reflections to do throughout the week at home/work and if embraced will make your Lent truly devout.

The course is open to all so why not come and check out Session 1; on Monday 26th February at 7:15pm and bring a friend if you like....

To reserve your free book register on line at
https://goo.gl/xU5Qav  or call Alban on 07751 625942.

D94673E2B43344599A74D35FE95337BF
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The Holy Spirit

"Although the Spirit never changes, the effects of his action, but the will of God and in the name of Christ, are both many and marvellous. The Spirit makes one person a teacher of divine truth, inspires another to prophesy, gives another the power of casting out devils, enables another to interpret Holy Scripture. The Spirit strengthens one person's self-control, shows another how to help the poor, teaches another to fast and lead a life of asceticism, makes another oblivious to the needs of the body, trains another for martyrdom. His action is different in different people, but the Spirit is always the same."

St Cyril of Jerusalem
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Letter from Father Bennie

Come let us adore Him: I hope you had a lovely Christmas and that the loveliness of your Christmas continues right through 2018.

Let us very much pray for each other at this time and throughout 2018.

For the life in our Parish at this most Holy time I thank:

• All who helped at the Liturgies (Deacon John, the Musicians, Special Ministers, Readers, the Servers), the Linen, the Tree, the Crib, the Flowers.

• Last - and most importantly - our Children - Christmas is all about YOU.

Thank you all who are responsible for contributing to the Christmas Season that the Parish is having. May God reward you, throughout the New Year ahead, for the time you give to Him and to His Church.

Weekday Masses

Please God I will offer Mass here on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. On the other weekdays (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays) I hope to say Mass at Shefford.

Fr. Bennie
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The New Year brings new challenges and new experiences. It will be difficult for all concerned to accommodate themselves to the changes. It will be difficult for Canon Bennie, difficult for you, and in a lesser way difficult for me.

St Pauls says “Make way for one another in the Lord,” and “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ.” So never assume an authority you don’t have and never give in to those who presume to have authority over you, but don’t. For ease of operations, always refer decisions pertaining to the church and liturgy to the Parish Priest or those he delegates. Authority over noticeboards, newsletter contents etc. resides with the Parish Priest.

Use of the car park is primarily for the use of those on church business or visitors to the Presbytery. The church and its grounds are a sacred space. Without being too pernickety try to keep it tidy. There has been a tendency in the past to use the various spaces as dumping grounds: meeting room, kitchen, garage, shed.

Please remember in your prayers the Diocese of Northampton, its clergy, bishop, priests and deacons, and all parishioners. May all be a beacon of light in the world in which we live.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Christmas 2017

Christmas is always a magical time.

I don’t mind the commercialisation; it is part of what makes it magical. People say that we are in danger of leaving Christ out of Christmas. Commercialisation or not, we are always in danger of leaving Christ out of Christmas.

He has come not only to seek a home, a welcome among His own (humankind), but also a welcome into our hearts.

Let us not forget to entertain Him in prayer, in response to those less well off than ourselves, and in those around us.

If we have nothing else to give one another, let it be a kind word, an acknowledgement of the other’s existence. Even today, it is a season of goodwill.

Happy Christmas.


Fr. Richard
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Silence

"We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature — trees, flowers, grass — grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence . . . We need silence to be able to touch souls." St Mother Teresa of Kolkata
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(Final?) Letter from Father Richard

Last week of the Year 2017

On Friday evening the Social Committee have arranged a “Farewell” for me as Parish Priest. It begins at 7:30 pm and ends whenever you want. I hope you’ll be able to pop in (29th Dec. 2017).

My final Masses as Parish Priest will be the weekend of 30th /31st of December 2017.

The following weekend Saturday 6th January Mass will be at 6:30 pm and Sunday 7th January at 11.00 am.

I do hope you will not be too phased by these changes.


OREMUS PRO INVICEM
“Let us pray for one another”.

Father Richard

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The Holy Father

"This is me, a sinner on whom the Lord has turned his gaze. And this is what I said when they asked me if I would accept my election as pontiff. I am a sinner, but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I accept in a spirit of penance." Pope Francis
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Periods of waiting can be really distressing. Waiting for results of a medical examination, waiting for exam results, waiting for buses, train connections. Waiting to see a relative or friend whom we have not seen for sometime, will we recognise them?

Waiting for the Messiah! Isaiah proclaimed last week, “Oh that the heavens would be torn apart and rain the just one down.”

You know the feeling. The trouble is we don’t know whether what we are waiting for is that worthwhile. It is in these situations that we need faith that God will be there to help us accept whatever comes. He is our rock, the ground of our being.

In these days of Advent, of waiting, let us not lose heart. Always be AWAKE to the possibility of the coming of God into our lives.

Let us all hope for a new dawn, a new day, a new expectation of a Lord who will be WITH US “EMMANUEL.”


Father Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We are used to Nature providing us with a cycle of seasons, year in and year out. As the church developed as the nurturer and educator of those who were its members, it developed a way of linking liturgical celebrations with the current season. (This is true only of that church in the Northern Hemisphere).

So, as we approach the darkest part of our year in December, and the dawn of a new year, the Church celebrates the dawn of a new creation in the coming of Christ into our world.

She prepares us for the feast of Christmas with a season: the season of Advent. It looks back on the history of salvation, itself looking forward to the birth of a Messiah, and projects us forward to the end of time when we expect the second coming of Christ, at the end of time.

The church focuses us on three people during this season: Isaiah, John the Baptist and Mary the mother of Jesus. These become our teachers in how to wait profitably, while getting on with the necessities of life.

The hustle and bustle of our commercial world is a wonderful reminder of the importance of the religious feast we celebrate.


Enjoy

Father Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

The Feast of Christ the King marks the end of our liturgical year. My Kingdom is not of this world, Jesus replied to Pilate, and neither is His kingship. King and kingdom are the same.

We share in His kingship through belonging to Him through baptism. We make His ‘Rule’ effective when we keep God’s commandments. All the commandments lead us to a loving relationship with God and our neighbour.

Loving does not mean “soppy”. As all parents know, there is such a thing as hard love.

Father Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It is not only religious people who will tell us that we are stewards of the creation in which we live. Today’s environmentalists try to get us to believe this too.

It is obvious I suppose that we created ones cannot dictate to the creator; no nation or person can own anything. We can exercise wise stewardship though and enjoy being part of the created.

We can learn to have mutual respect for persons, things and our creator. That’s what religion is about.

Have a good week.

Father Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

As we approach the end of the liturgical year, the themes of the readings are to do with judgement, the end of the world, our own eventual death and the second coming of Christ.

These themes remind us that we have a purpose in life, a task to be fulfilled. They give us a gentle reminder to reflect on how well we are pursuing the goal that God has set for us.

If you are married, what are you doing to keep your marriage alive? If you are a child, what are you doing to contribute towards family life? How alive are you? As Christians what are you doing to foster your growth in faith?

Life doesn’t just happen. We have freedom of will to make choices, and make things happen.

Jesus came to change the world for the better. He invites you and me to assist Him in that task. Stay awake!


Have a good week.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

Motivation and intention are at the heart of all our actions. In the life of Jesus we observe an internal struggle to do things for the right reason.

The temptation of Christ, at the beginning of His public ministry, is an example of that struggle. Why Jesus goes to the Father in prayer, and out to people in His public ministry, is so that He constantly touches base with His Father to make sure He is not going askew.

No matter how well we begin a task in the church, we too are prey to going astray unless we are constantly in touch with God in prayer. The gospel today gives us an example of how we can go astray.

Keep serving, but be God’s servant first, and others' thereafter.

Yours,

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

Have you allowed yourselves to sunbathe this week? Have you relaxed in the presence of the sun’s brightness? Have you dozed in a state of contentment embraced by the warmth surrounding you?

Well, I don’t suppose many of you have, but I was not really speaking in a literal way; I was speaking in a metaphorical way. Have you allowed yourselves to relax in God’s presence this week? The first two commandments may be easy to remember, but they are difficult to accomplish.

We will be able to love our neighbour only inasmuch as we allow ourselves to be loved by God.

Afford Him some of your time – in prayer, meditation and reading.


Have a good week.
Fr. Richard

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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

Jesus is explicitly religious, explicitly spiritual and fully human. When I reflect on governments, even our own, they don’t reflect the humanity that is present in the teachings of Jesus. It is not so long ago that we transported seven year old boys to Australia for stealing a loaf of bread.

Not very advanced in our humanity.

Throughout the world we see the degradation of people and peoples by governments… ethnic cleansing is not a thing of the past, and neither does remembering past sins prevent future ones. I think here of the Holocaust.

In Jesus we are reminded that the author of the world and of our being is God. Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s. If we would wish to raise up our fallen world in this generation let us engage in a meaningful partnership with our God in Jesus Christ.

Let us commit ourselves to Him and His Way rather than to the world, and its values, which tends to destruction.

Have a good week.
Fr. Richard

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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

Towards the end of the liturgical year the readings the Church puts before us are those to do with ‘endings’. Themes will be ‘judgement’, ‘death’, ‘accountability’. What we will discover is that God has a plan. We do not live in a random universe, without purpose or meaning.

Our history as Christians includes the history of Israel. It is HIS story. HIS being God. God’s story of His dealings with a people He has chosen for His own. That story continues in the individual lives of His people. His story is our story.

Our story is a reflection of our interaction with God and His people, our brothers and sisters. It is forever exciting, sometimes having us on a knife edge, sometimes monotonous, like being in a desert. Even the desert is not silent.

Do you want as part of your story or your history to include God or exclude Him?

“O that today you would listen to His voice, harden not your hearts.” Ps 94


Have a good week.
Fr. Richard

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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Parishioners,

For eight years I was the subject or victim of a stalker. She was a very plausible woman of professional status. She was not a parishioner. It is very difficult to imagine how persistent night time late ‘phone calls, personal daytime visits to my presbytery and all the madness that goes with stalking had an effect on my wellbeing.
If she was of sound mind, you could say she was sinning against me. She certainly damaged me emotionally and psychologically.

We have legitimate rights to defend ourselves against any person who sins against us, to remove ourselves from harm’s way if possible, to confront them with their wrong doing. What Jesus says to us is that, in spite of it all, we should not harbour a spirit of resentment or vengeance against our oppressors. This can be so difficult. I know at the time I didn’t hold resentment or a spirit of vengeance against the woman, but it did not stop her harming me.

Many people have been in similar situations within their families or places of work. An attitude of forgiveness does not mean that we have to be doormats. So often forgiveness is seen as acquiescence in someone wrongdoing against us. It is not. Further, forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation. Well, there’s food for thought.

Have a good week.

Fr. Richard

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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Parishioners,

For eight years I was the subject or victim of a stalker. She was a very plausible woman of professional status. She was not a parishioner. It is very difficult to imagine how persistent night time late ‘phone calls, personal daytime visits to my presbytery and all the madness that goes with stalking had an effect on my wellbeing.
If she was of sound mind, you could say she was sinning against me. She certainly damaged me emotionally and psychologically.

We have legitimate rights to defend ourselves against any person who sins against us, to remove ourselves from harm’s way if possible, to confront them with their wrong doing. What Jesus says to us is that, in spite of it all, we should not harbour a spirit of resentment or vengeance against our oppressors. This can be so difficult. I know at the time I didn’t hold resentment or a spirit of vengeance against the woman, but it did not stop her harming me.

Many people have been in similar situations within their families or places of work. An attitude of forgiveness does not mean that we have to be doormats. So often forgiveness is seen as acquiescence in someone wrongdoing against us. It is not. Further, forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation. Well, there’s food for thought.

Have a good week.

Fr. Richard

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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

What a sobering gospel we have set before us this week. The following of Jesus does not necessarily lead to worldly success. However, it is not as bleak as it sounds in the first place.

You often hear parents wishing they could have suffered in the place of their children. Jesus’s suffering and death is for us; He is taking our place, He is suffering for us, so that we may not suffer the consequence of sin. He does this for us as parents do for their children, out of love.

Love certainly changes things.

Have a good week.
Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It is wonderful to observe people as they develop as human beings. It is no less wonderful to observe the development of Jesus in the gospels.

Today marks a landmark in His relationships with Peter and the other disciples. Who do you say I am? Sooner or later each of us will be faced with that question. Many will evade answering it, and for as long as they do, any kind of commitment to Christ is not possible. It is not until we answer it that Jesus can entrust us with mission.

In Peter’s case his mission was to be head of the church . . . ours will develop as we ask, seek and knock. Do not be afraid, I am with you always, ‘til the end of time.

Have a good week.
Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“Oremus pro invicem” Let us pray for one another. So often in life, people ask us to pray for them. So often, unknown to us, those who love us are praying for us to God. Praying for our good.

In the Gospels, often people plead with Jesus on behalf of others. Today it is the Canaanite woman who pleads with Him on behalf of her daughter. Gender, religion, status are no bargaining chips with God. Prayer from a loving heart has to be heard by the God of Love.

Prayer must be the first in our quiver of arrows with which we are armed to fight on the cause of right. Prayer is always the first resort in the life of the Christian, never the last.

Have a good week.
Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I remember being at a Mass when today’s gospel was proclaimed. The time came for the priest to say a few words by way of commentary. I have never forgotten what he said. “The miracle” he said, “was not so much Jesus walking on the water, it was the fact that Jesus gets into the boat of our lives with us.”

That really is the miracle that needs to be stated and restated day in, day out.

Those wonderful words addressed to Peter are also addressed to us “Come ye; I am; do not be afraid. I am; the name for God. God is with us. EMMANUEL.

Have a good week.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

So many of Jesus’s descriptions of the spiritual life are drawn from nature. Today’s parable of the sower is no exception.

Scattering seed is always going to be a risky business. 100% success is never achieved. I like to think that the seed that germinates and bears fruit, now a hundredfold etc. . . is a priestly people, a people set apart to intercede with Jesus on behalf of a fallen world.

Who knows the power of prayer better than Jesus, who invites us to join Him in pleading for the salvation of the world? Some people will bear fruit a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty…. But bear fruit we will.

Have a good week.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Mankind has wondered through the ages whether or not there is a God, and if there is what he/she is like. Some have even wondered whether this God is accessible – can we be in a relationship?

The Good News is… Jesus Christ. He says that to have seen Him is to have seen the Father, to be in a relationship with Him is to be in a relationship with the Father.

You do not have to have any other qualification for relationship except to be human.

Experiment… come to me all you who labour and are overburdened…

Have a good week.

Fr. Richard
Comments

Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Jesus sometimes has a fairly shocking way of talking. He is frighteningly confrontational. He puts Himself on a par with God.

Only God could ever say “Unless you prefer Me over and above your father and mother, daughter or son you cannot be worthy of Me.”

What is shock? A jolt, an event that knocks us off the course we are on in life. Shocks, interrupt our usual patterns of behaviour. Shock, any kind of trauma makes us think afresh. If we are lucky it can set us on a path in life that is more rich, vivid and life giving.

JESUS Himself, in a sense is a shock. He is EMMANUEL, GOD WITH US. He is PRINCE OF PEACE reconciling us to the FATHER. He is the PIVOTAL POINT of history, universal and personal.

We speak of time being B.C. or A. D. Those who are in the process of conversion think in similar terms of B.C. and A.D.

Have a good week.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Our ability to reflect on the various experiences we undergo in life, our ability to make moral decisions, is something peculiarly human. From age to age, man wonders what life is about. Has it a purpose? What are we about?

We reflect on what is good and what is evil. Into this wondering and reflection, other thoughts enter our minds. Is there something greater than ourselves? Does a God exist? How can we know? It seems to me that the search for meaning in our lives always remains.

When Jesus enters our lives, He becomes our way, our truth and our life. When all other support systems fail, we discover that He is our rock, our stronghold the one who keeps us steadfast and firm.

Have a good week.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Reverence is a funny word that conjures up all sorts of feelings, both reverent and irreverent. Although I may find it hard to explain its meaning, I recognise it when I see it.

For me, John Paul II had a reverent touch whenever he came into contact with people flesh to flesh. It would be hard to not have a sense of your own self worth when you have been touched by him.

When Jesus offers Himself to us in Holy Communion He does so in reverence for us. May we in due time learn to show Him the same respect and reverence.

What we receive from God, may we pass on to others.

Have a good week

Fr Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Reverence is a funny word that conjures up all sorts of feelings, both reverent and irreverent. Although I may find it hard to explain its meaning, I recognise it when I see it.

For me, John Paul II had a reverent touch whenever he came into contact with people flesh to flesh. It would be hard to not have a sense of your own self worth when you have been touched by him.

When Jesus offers Himself to us in Holy Communion He does so in reverence for us. May we in due time learn to show Him the same respect and reverence.

What we receive from God, may we pass on to others.

Have a good week

Fr Richard
Comments

Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It is said that we humans are made in the image and likeness of God. Certainly, if God is a community of persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, we can easily see that we as persons are meant to be in a relationship with one another, in order to be fulfilled.

The Holy Spirit will help us to live no longer for ourselves (in a self-centred universe) but for Jesus who proclaims “Love one another as I have loved you”.

This exciting adventure has begun. We need to continue to learn new ways of responding to the call. Build your family, build your Parish Community, build your networks of friendship.

In the words of ‘Pierre Salinger’* our attitude should be: Ask not what others can do for you, but rather what can I do for others?

Have a good week.

Fr. Richard

*Pierre Salinger – script writer for J. F. Kennedy
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Pentecost Sunday reminds us that we are dependent on the Holy Spirit for our mission and authentication as Christians.

St. Paul says “and so that we may live no longer for ourselves but for Him, He sent the Holy Spirit from the Father as His first gift to those who believe, to complete His work on earth and bring us to the fullness of grace.” Let us place ourselves at God’s disposal.

Let the song of our hearts be, Thy Kingdom Come, Thy will be done…

Have a good year.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Ascension Day concludes the Apostles’ period of mourning. Beginning with Easter Day they have been trying to get to grips with life without Him present to them in the ordinary way of human beings.

Now on Ascension Day they are being asked to let go of Him in a very definite way. They let Him go, that He may go to the Father. We pray now with the Apostles that in this period before Pentecost we may be prepared for the next step in our journey of faith.

This period is the NOVENA before Pentecost – the original nine days of prayer. Come, Spirit come.

May you be abundantly blessed.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The gospel of St. John is sometimes called the contemplative gospel. It can seem to be saying nothing more than “love one another as I have loved you.”

That ‘seem’ happens to be true. When John was asked for a ‘word’ at the end of his life – a final word – He said “love one another as Jesus has loved us.”

And there’s the rub. To do that we must know Jesus; we must familiarise ourselves with Him. In prayer, in the liturgy and in our way of life. As we familiarise ourselves with Him it is surprising where we can see His face.

Keep friendly,
Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The gospel today is the one I use most at funerals. “I am going to prepare a place for you….” So that where I am you may be too.”

In the first instance this has nothing to do with our physical death. Jesus is going to open the gates of heaven for us; He is going to reconcile us to the Father. There will no longer be enmity between God and man.

And after He has prepared that place He will return to take us with Him. Very much in the same way as He accompanied the disciples on their way to Emmaus. If we invite Him into our lives He will break bread with us and strengthen us for the journey, the pilgrimage from here to the sacred place of heaven.

Yes, Jesus is alive, He is risen from the dead. Let Him be your fellow traveller, your friend and companion on your way.

Yours,
Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Good Shepherd must be ever vigilant for his sheep.

That we are described as sheep isn’t the best compliment we could have paid us. Sheep are prone to wandering off, getting into dangerous and precarious situations, putting their own lives in danger. T

hey are prey to dogs, and wolves. The good shepherd looks out for them, leads them to green pastures, rescues them from whatever dangerous situations they get into.

The 22nd or 23rd Psalm (depending on your numbering) begins “The Lord is my shepherd”. The “valley of darkness” is often that time between loss and a more fruitful future – between death and resurrection, exile and freedom… but if the Lord is your shepherd – there is nothing you shall want.

Good grazing.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

What a beautiful gospel this week. The disciples are on their way to Emmaus. It is a gospel so relevant to the confused, the directionless, those feeling undermined.

At some time In our lives and probably many, we have felt as though the carpet has been pulled from under our feet. The Emmaus Movement of helping others by walking beside them has a presence here in Bedfordshire.

May its spirit be present in our families, our church communities and our places of work and recreation.

Have a good week!

Fr. Richard
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The Cross of Christ the Measure of the World – John Henry Newman

I. It is the death of the Eternal Word, of God made flesh, which is our great lesson how to think and how to speak of this world. His Cross has put its due value upon everything which we see, upon all fortunes, all advantages, all ranks, all dignities, all pleasures, upon the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.

It has set a price upon the excitements, the rivalries, the hopes, the fears, the desires, the efforts, the triumphs of mortal man. It has given a meaning to the various shifting courses, the trials, the temptations, the sufferings of his earthly state. It has brought together and made consistent all that seemed discordant and aimless.

It has taught us how to live, how to use this world, what to expect, what to desire, what to hope.

It is the tone into which all the strains of this world's music are ultimately to be resolved.

J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. vi., p. 83.
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Palm Sunday is the gateway to Holy Week and Easter. It is enough preparation just to take part in the services – God will do the rest.

Tuesday 7.30 pm Penitential Service
Maundy Thursday 7.30 pm Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Good Friday 3.00 pm Solemn Liturgy of the Passion
7.30 pm
Station of the Cross
Holy Saturday 8.00 pm Easter Vigil
Easter Sunday 8.00 am, 10.30 am EASTER MASSES

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Palm Sunday is the gateway to Holy Week and Easter. It is enough preparation just to take part in the services – God will do the rest.

Tuesday 7.30 pm Penitential Service
Maundy Thursday 7.30 pm Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Good Friday 3.00 pm Solemn Liturgy of the Passion
7.30 pm
Station of the Cross
Holy Saturday 8.00 pm Easter Vigil
Easter Sunday 8.00 am, 10.30 am EASTER MASSES

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The gospel is extraordinary. The good news is Jesus Christ. In spite of man’s inability to govern himself wisely, in spite of the terror of war and famine, God continues to offer us His hand of friendship in the guise of His Beloved Son.

If raising Lazarus from the dead is extraordinary, then so is Jesus’ presence among us: in baptism, the church in general, in our Eucharist and in our tabernacle.

He invites us to be with Him in the liturgies and para-liturgies of the Church. Make the most of Holy Week, make the most of Easter – come out to meet Him, who is Christ the Lord.

Maybe you will come to believe in Him not through hearsay, but for your very self.

Keep travelling.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

METANOIA is the Greek word for conversion, or change of heart. It is usually used of that conversion or change of heart necessary to want to be affected by the good news of the gospel.

Not everybody sees the need for change in themselves, but most of us see the need for change in others. That’s the trouble with the gospel. Jesus expects us to change. He does expect us to change others. We can change the world for the better if we at least are converted and live.

Where like-minded people want to live the gospel values together (freely), how powerful the Holy Spirit can be at work helping us to serve one another and build up community. The Jews in the gospel of the blind man were not interested in seeking the truth but rather with proving themselves right; hence the term “self-righteous”.

Those who would continue on the path of conversion must seek the truth – not to prove themselves right.

TURN AWAY FROM SIN AND TURN TO THE GOSPEL.

Have a good week.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

St. John’s Gospel lets us see a dimension of Jesus’ personality that doesn’t seem to come across in the other three gospels. Today’s gospel of Jesus in dialogue with the woman of Samaria at Jacob’s well is an example. Jesus is enjoying the banter between himself and the woman; and she is relaxed enough to enter the spirit of the dialogue.

Surely it is encouraging to know that in our dialogue with Jesus, in the events of our life, in the sacraments, in the scriptures and prayer we too can be ourselves, be relaxed and enjoy God’s presence in our lives.

Begin the adventure again: Ask…
Seek…
Knock
ASK.

Fr. Richard
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Lazarus and the Rich Man – Luke 16:19-31

St John of the Cross said that we will all be judged on our love – our love for the poor, the hungry, the naked, the imprisoned, the destitute and the lonely. Let us take heed of the warning implicit in today's parable of the danger of riches and material possessions and of hardening of our hearts against the poor, our brothers and sisters. Bible Alive
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Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful – Luke 6:36

"How do we change? How do we become merciful? There is only one way: through examining our conscience and being led through the door first of repentance and then of conversion. This is why Lent is such a season of grace because it is the season of repentance and conversion. When we turn back to God, God comes running out to us. When we confess the sins we have committed against mercy (resentment, revenge, anger, spite, hatred) we receive mercy from the God of mercy. We can show mercy only when we know mercy. Bible Alive, 13 March 2017.
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

It is good to have a time of year where we can enter a kind of desert. That is the Church’s gift to us in this season of Lent. It is a season of taking stock of our lives, a time of re-ordering and even perhaps re-direction.

Perhaps we will hear the gospel with fresh ears, because of the events of the past year in our own lives. Be sure of this though: God is calling us out of darkness into His own marvellous light, out of death to life.

May God be with you all on your journey through LENT this year.

Fr. Richard Moroney
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

FASTING, PRAYER, ALMSGIVING are the ways suggested by Jesus that we may prepare for change in our lives.


SLIMMING, SELF PAMPERING and GIVING money away for some kind of gain are the world’s equivalents.


Fasting, Prayer and Almsgiving all look to open us up to God and our fellow human beings – by denying ourselves.


The world’s equivalents seek to make the human being the centre of the Universe.


 Your choice this Lent:     GOD or the WORLD

                                          GOD or MAMMON
                                          LIFE or DEATH 

                                                                                
Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

Utopia, by St. Thomas More, is a novel about a perfect society. UTOPIA means NO PLACE in Greek. Utopia has come to mean a perfect world…a perfect society.

In Utopia More has a sideways dig at Henry VIII in that he says: "surely no intelligent ruler would want to rule with a heavy hand". We know from history that most dictators are interested only in their own vision of reality, a man-made scheme of governance that keeps them or their family in power.

In the Gospel we are taught our own inestimable worth in the sight of God, and how we may act to enhance our own and our neighbours’ lives. Jesus asks us to try to win people over to the good, rather than be in reaction to the bad. The Mosaic Law of an eye for an eye, leads to a human race that is full of one eyed or no eyed people.

Rather than being caught on the hop by people’s badness, let us take the initiative and every day do some random act of kindness.

Surprise yourselves, surprise the world.

God bless you all.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

The Gospel this weekend, a paper aeroplane left in the meeting room last Sunday, retirement and a chance glance at Laudate si an encyclical letter of Pope Francis set off a train of thought that all linked together – at least in my mind.

Laudate si is the only encyclical known by opening words that are not Latin. Laudate si is Italian. It is the only encyclical letter addressed not to the confines of the church, but to all mankind. It is an encyclical about the right regard we should have for all creation including ourselves.

In the coming months I hope to open up the links. What has a paper aeroplane got to do with the 10 commandments?

We’ll see.

Have a good week.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

Jesus says of his disciples that they should be the salt of the earth and a light to the world. He himself has come into our world to be our Way, our Truth and our Life. He wants to TOUCH us.

Through his touch he wants us to feel loved, affirmed and strengthened. He wants us to learn how to accept his love and so be enabled to give it to others, “ Make me a channel of your peace”. The pattern of Jesus’ life was to go to the Father in prayer; go out to others in action, to the Father in prayer – out to others, to the Father in prayer, out to others.

We all need constant refuelling …..Jesus, You, me…..

Yours,

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

We have been reminded of the great social problems of our world with the Brexit vote and with the election of a new President of the United States. No one can but be aware of the enormous problems that exist in our world. It is a relief to know that the world has always had enormous social problems and that every generation experiences people tussling for power in order to solve these problems. Into such a world our saviour has been born.

There is a solution.

A blueprint for living can be found in this Sunday’s Gospel. It is as though in the midst of all the turmoil the Lord Jesus is saying: "Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you. Follow me and I will give you the light of life."

May each one of us be consoled to know that God is looking out for us.

Yours,

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

Jesus emptied himself of his divinity that he might become like us in all things but sin. This acceptance of limitations, our limitations, is an essential starting point, every day of our lives in Christ.

If we would be great Christians we have to allow ourselves to be transformed. We have to sit at the feet of the Master (Jesus) and listen. We must join Jesus Franchise and learn to do things His way. We are after all, believers in HIM who is the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE. In the desert of our lives CHRIST is calling, inviting us into discipleship.

As we follow the gospels in this year of Matthew, we observe other disciples being formed in the Jesus mould; the Jesus Franchise. If you want to be loved – Jesus is showing us a way of making ourselves loveable; it will mean dethroning our ego as the centre of the universe and enthroning Christ, as universal king.

Fr. Richard
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Reflection and Prayer Group - The Gift (session1)

As indicated previously the Gift course is aimed at building our faith and developing a life in the Holy Spirit....
In this session David Payne - director of CaFE - considered and introduced the Father's loving plan, and how great it is to know we are loved so dearly by God the Father. We learned amongst other things that our faith can be summed up in two words.....  not to be reveal here. We also learnt that St Catherine of Siena - a doctor of the Catholic Church - reveled after spending three years in solatory pray that "God is intoxicated with love for us"....  If His love's so great for us then we should have no dificulty basking in that great love. We learned that St Terese of Lisiex - another great Doctor of the Church - revelaed that we don't need to climb the mountain of perfection we can burst in to the Father's presence right now and jump on his knee and embrace His great love for us or at any time and love Him.
We reflected upon how the Holy Spirit of Christ is with us and how He reveals that great love of God the Father. We considered how knowing more of Gods's love can help us in our every day life. WE finished the session in prayer for ourselves and those who need our help at this time.
All who attened really enjoyed this session and went home with five daily reflections to consider are looking forward to next Wednedsay when we consider "The Joy of the Gospel",

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Reflection and Prayer Group - The Gift

The Gift 

A six-week course entitled "The Gift" is commencing on Wednesday 18th Jan – 7.30-9:30 pm and is taking place at St Peter's Church meeting room.

Pope Francis’s challenge to us as practicing Catholics is to be ‘spirit filled evangelisers’.

Catholics are called to unpack and explore the greatest gift we have been given – the gift of our faith. The six session Gift course has been produced to help us to do just that.

It has been developed as a response to Pope Francis’s exhortation ‘The Joy of the Gospel’.

If you’d like to know more check out the introductory video below and if you're interested in attending a future session call 07751 625942:

 
The Gift: A Life in the Spirit Course - A New Resource From CaFE from CaFE on Vimeo.
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

In his sermon last Sunday our Deacon John Lang, spoke of our ability to be imprisoned by our own expectations. All of us would like to write the script of our own future.

John the Baptist’s reality didn’t live up to his expectation. Joseph’s expectations didn’t tally with his reality. What made them Saints is that they willingly gave over their pens to God so that He could script their present and their future.

After the first Band Aid concert, Bob Geldoff said: Is that it? There was a certain deflation after so much work and activity.

If you want to maintain a certain “edge” to your life; hand over the pen, let God write the future; seize the day:

Rejoice in the Lord – again I say rejoice.

Fr. Richard
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Forgiveness – by the Archbishop of Canterbury

Happy to share this homily on forgiveness with you, which I preached informally during a carol service for guests that we held this week at Lambeth Palace. May you experience a rebirth this Christmas.

***

One of things Christmas always makes me think about is forgiveness – why Jesus is so essential in helping us forgive others, and be forgiven ourselves. True forgiveness is very difficult: it can feel almost impossible – and on our own, it is.

How can there be forgiveness for what’s happening in Aleppo? How can there be forgiveness for many of the other things that are happening around the world? What does it take? Can a human being create that forgiveness?

It is only something that comes from God. Nothing less than God makes that kind of forgiveness possible.

The extraordinary claim of Christianity – which would be ridiculous if it weren’t true – is that this child who comes so unnoticeably, so hidden, is essential to forgiveness, because he is God himself.

Here are three ways that Jesus is essential to forgiveness:

First, he loves us and he is with us. This is not about God “for us” – or God “to us”, and pointing his finger at us. This is about God “with us” – taking on the burden of everything we are not, and everything this world has going wrong in it. (Lord Byron said if God is not like Jesus, he ought to be.) When we need forgiveness, we fear that what we’ve done has changed something in us – and those we’ve harmed – so that we can never be forgiven. How can we be loved in the light of what we’ve done? We all feel that at some time. I’m not talking about when you say something stupid… I’m talking about those things many of us will have kept deeply to ourselves. Those things we know deep down have broken a relationship, or damaged someone.

Secondly Jesus is also essential because he bears the weight of our wrong. What we’ve done needs to go somewhere. Where there’s been crime, great sin, great cruelty, it needs to go somewhere – that’s what justice is. Justice says there must be a cost to wrongdoing. Jesus is the place it all goes.

Finally, Jesus is essential to forgiveness because he remakes us. This birth we remember at Christmas contains the possibility of our own birth – our recreation. Just as in Jesus’ death there is our death to all that is wrong, in his birth is our birth – a new start that’s possible because of him. That is something that is true for every single person. May you discover that new start, that new birth, this Christmas.

From his FaceBook page . . .
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

“Rejoice, the Lord is near”. Today is known as Gaudete Sunday. The term Gaudete refers to the first word of the Entrance Antiphon, “Rejoice”.

The rose candle of the Advent wreath is lit. Jesus is our light in the darkness of life – and He is coming into our world … and He is coming to be with us, to revive our drooping spirits, to walk with us through the valley of death, to be our confidence in the midst of our uncertainty.

His name is

EMMANUEL – GOD IS WITH US

With best wishes for a good week.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

A theme of Advent is WAITING or WAITING in EXPECTATION. Something is not quite right in our lives, we hope for more – or for a solution.

I have been waiting around in hospitals in the past four months. Sometimes the appointments are on time, sometimes 3 hours late. Still there is no alternative but to wait.

We are like that before God; we are not quite right. God has promised that He would fix our lives.

May our Advent be a WAITING that turns into a LONGING. May the fulfilment of our LONGING surprise us with JOY…for unto US a son is born…

With best wishes for a good week.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

The Church invites us in Advent to slow down, rest, refocus our energies. You may think that the frenzy of the Christmas Season, the busyness of life, militates against a prayerful approach to the Feast. It need not.

Christmas above all is about hospitality. Welcoming Jesus in our midst; learning to recognise Him in our family members, our colleagues and the poor and opening our hearts in welcome.

Hospitality is an attitude. It can be practised in all circumstances of life, even in the busy pre Christmas Season.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

The Church ends the liturgical year with the Feast of Christ the King. This is a reminder that our life here on earth is a journey. It has a beginning and it has an end. The journey is a journey to a sacred place – it is a pilgrimage.

If we accept the Kingship of Christ, we accept His Rule. We ready ourselves to be citizens of the Kingdom even here on earth.

In our families, in our schools, in our places of work, in any of the groups or sub communities to which we belong, let us be positive forces for good . . . and let us always remember our youth who are prey to so many temptations, but equipped so badly to fight the good fight.

May our prayers be their strength and protection.

Fr. Richard
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Today's Gospel – Luke 19:1-10

This is the story of the tax collector, Zacchaeus, who wanted to see Jesus when he passed by, but was too short to do so in the crowd. So he climbed a sycamore, where Jesus saw him and said, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately, I must stay at your house today."

Zacchaeus means 'God remembers', and God remembered him that day.

"In the depths of our hearts, listen to God's voice that says to us: 'Today I must stay at your house.' Let us welcome him with joy; he can change us, can transform our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh, he can liberate us from selfishness and make our lives a gift of love." (Pope Francis).

Chris (taken from Bible Alive Reflections for today).
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Thessalonians that "Faith is not given to everyone . . ." and he says to those who believe, “May the Lord turn your hearts towards the love of God and the fortitude of Christ.”

There is in that little sentence a direction for our efforts, and a warning that the path ahead requires strength and perseverance. As we come into the winter months, let us not be overpowered by the darkness, but let in a metaphorical candle by our good works. As the Chinese saying goes, ‘Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness’.

All the best,
Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

A little book, famous in my day, was ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’. Neil Diamond even sang about him. The story was about a little seagull who dared to be different to his peers, who was willing to learn new tricks, explore the boundaries of his existence.

Jesus invites us to be different, to learn new tricks, to explore the boundaries of our existence. He invites us to follow Him. Is any of us brave enough to risk our lives?

Food for thought.
Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

The message of the gospel must be that virtuous people, in the eyes of God, never assume a position of superiority. Always, whether you be parent, teacher or priest, the endeavour must always be to bring out the best in others.

Where we are not in position of authority – children – most of us in one way or another, we have so to act so as not to test unduly those in charge of us.

What a peaceful world we would live in – if this were true. If only…..


Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

Soon after the 2nd Vatican Council, the phenomenon of the Charismatic Renewal happened. A movement arose in the church celebrating the gifts of the Holy Spirit within the church. It was like a Catholic version of Pentecostalism.

It is still a worldwide movement within the church and, as is true of all authentic movements, it helps people to deepen their faith and their commitment to Jesus.

Praise and thanksgiving are dominant themes within their prayer meetings. It is so easy to forget God’s graciousness to us because we let present problems dominate our lives.

We need to develop a theme of thanksgiving within the daily structure of our lives, while not forgetting our present needs and dependence on God.

The culmination of our prayers of thanksgiving throughout the week is at the Sunday Mass – the Eucharist – The Thanksgiving.

Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

In the Rules of St. Benedict there is a chapter on the 12 degrees of humility. Novices think they are already living them – not much room for improvement then! A wiser and older monk assured me that most monks hardly get beyond the 4th degree of humility. A lot of room for improvement . . . !

At the heart of our vocation as Christians is SERVICE. We hardly begin to scratch the surface of Christian Service in reality. What is the height of Christian service? Jesus Himself, in order to save us, sacrificed Himself, so that He could take upon Himself the burden of our sins; in doing this we are healed and made worthy to call God, our Father in the midst of the church.

Do you think you’ve reached this level of service yet? Probably…NOT.

Still, have a good week,

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

Jesus always speaks to the Jewish people of His time as though they somehow belonged to one another. He speaks to us as Christians as though we belong to one another. He also asks us to treat every human being as a loved child of God.

You can imagine that for Jesus there was an urgency to His messages. He knew He only had limited time here on earth. Part of His message is that He wants us to wake up (and smell the coffee) as New Yorkers would say. We have to take some kind of responsibility for one another.

Justice and Peace go together. No justice, no peace. Loving includes being just and fair.

Have a good week,

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

We are not all called to be ‘great’ as this world would call us great, but I do think we are all called to enrich one another out of the riches that God gives us. Those riches begin when we truly believe in His love and esteem for us . . . we can then learn to believe in and have esteem for others.

It is not at all easy; you see…… Jesus sacrificed himself in order that we would have all we needed. We too, in one way or other ought to be sacrificing ourselves for others . . . building up treasure in heaven.

Have a good week,
Fr. Richard

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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

I think many people do not believe in God, because their image of God is not very attractive.

To some He is distant, to others harsh or even cruel. No wonder they do not believe in this kind of God; and they are right. Our God as revealed by Jesus Christ, is a Father who loves and cares for us His children, and who wants to do the same for our brothers and sisters. He is the God revealed in the parable of the Good Samaritan. A God of mercy and compassion; a God of tenderness and love.

May our God revealed so perfectly in Jesus Christ, draw us closer to Him and to one another.

Have a good week,
Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

I am sure that we would all agree that our fundamental option in life must be to pursue the good rather than the evil, to choose life rather than death, to seek to love one’s neighbour rather than hate. The Christian must seek to be formed by Christ rather than the ideologies of our age.

The sentiments of the prayer of St. Richard of Chichester express this quite well:

Thanks be to You, our Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the benefits which You have given us,
for all the pains and insults which You have borne for us.
Most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother,
may we know You more clearly,
love You more dearly,
and follow You more nearly, day by day. (1197 - 1253)

Have a good week,
Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

The world in which we live is a product of man’s thought process. The cultures of which we are part also form our way of thinking, our manners, our way of life. We can see clearly that we do not live in harmony with one another.

Jesus challenges us to a new way of thinking if we would wish our world to be otherwise. We must go beyond a world of “I’ll scratch your back, if you scratch mine”, to a world where we take instruction from the Master, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our starting point must always be one of willingness to serve, a willingness to put on the mind of Christ, a willingness to look out for one another.

SERVICE is a good translation of LITURGY. It always means putting others before ourselves.

Have a good week

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

One of the wonderful aspects of friendship with Jesus is that even if the rest of the world doesn’t, He takes us seriously. He is never the one to dismiss our joys and our offerings, He is never the one to pour cold water on our ambitions. He constantly invites us to better ourselves.

Each one of us has different talents and circumstances in life, and He is the one who invites us to sharpen up, to shape up, to enter eternal life by the narrow door; the narrow door of real virtue…. practising the corporal and spiritual work of mercy….

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard


Dear Brothers and Sisters

One of the wonderful aspects of friendship with Jesus is that even if the rest of the world doesn’t, He takes us seriously. He is never the one to dismiss our joys and our offerings, He is never the one to pour cold water on our ambitions. He constantly invites us to better ourselves.

Each one of us has different talents and circumstances in life, and He is the one who invites us to sharpen up, to shape up, to enter eternal life by the narrow door; the narrow door of real virtue…. practising the corporal and spiritual work of mercy….

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

The Assumption of Our Lady into heaven is a feast that has been celebrated from very early in the Church’s history. Mary died in the care of the Apostle John, at Ephesus, in Asia Minor.

Asia Minor is now called Turkey. It is believed that because there is no obvious grave at Ephesus that Mary was assumed into heaven. Mary, because she committed no sin, was spared the effects of sin: the corruption of the body. Along with Enoch and Elijah she is the only other person who seems to have been afforded this great honour.

It is a lovely thought that when any of us is blessed by God, we are all blessed, because we are part of one another in the body of Christ.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

The Assumption of Our Lady into heaven is a feast that has been celebrated from very early in the Church’s history. Mary died in the care of the Apostle John, at Ephesus, in Asia Minor.

Asia Minor is now called Turkey. It is believed that because there is no obvious grave at Ephesus that Mary was assumed into heaven. Mary, because she committed no sin, was spared the effects of sin: the corruption of the body. Along with Enoch and Elijah she is the only other person who seems to have been afforded this great honour.

It is a lovely thought that when any of us is blessed by God, we are all blessed, because we are part of one another in the body of Christ.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

The holiday season is upon us once more. It can be difficult to tear ourselves away from the routine, the familiar. It can be difficult to ‘waste time’.

Still; the Sabbath, holy days – holidays are all designed to detach ourselves from the everyday, the mundane, to enable us to view life in a new way, perhaps even to review what we are about in general.

As a result, our life choices will change; we will want things that are eternal, not passing.

Have a good week.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard


Dear Brothers and Sisters

Jesus envisages that His followers will pray. They will pray that they may be respectful to God; that they will depend on Him for their daily needs, and that they will endeavour to forgive anyone who has sinned against them.

This pattern was established in the OUR FATHER. We are also encouraged to INVITE God into the minutiae of our lives.

Ask and you shall receive…. .

Through Jesus Christ may you enjoy the friendship of God.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

Where would the world be, without its worriers and fretters? I suspect nothing much would get done.

However, to be consumed by worry and fret is so destructive. You can forget why you really want to do something. Jesus commends Mary for her attentions to Him.

The gospel is best summed up by those lines in the hymn – Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and these other things will be given unto thee.

Let us pray for one another.

OREMUS PRO INVICEM

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

Who does not love the parable of The Good Samaritan? It is especially lovely when the Good Samaritan may be taken as a figure of Jesus come to save poor battered fallen man.

When you think about the TUMULTUOUS times we are living in – the seeming falling apart of our political parties – the fragility of mankind becomes so apparent.

But we are not surprised; we do not put our hope in poor deluded mankind, but rather in our loving God who sent His son to redeem the world.

As the centre falls apart, may you take the opportunity to place all your hope in God.

Yours,

Fr. Richard

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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

In the gospel today, the message is simple.

If God calls you to do something, you have no need to worry that your choice to follow Him will be to the detriment of your loved ones. They will not suffer because of your apparent neglect of them. TRUST.

All things will be well, and all things will be well, and all manner of things will be well (Julian of Norwich).

Cheers,
Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

In the Diocese of Northampton we should be celebrating to-day as the Dedication of the Cathedral. However, our Mass sheets are printed with the Mass for the 12th Sunday of the Year, so we will follow them.

On Wednesday we are celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation and on the 29th June The Solemnity of St Peter and St Paul.

God is breaking in on our lives in so many ways. May we prepare ourselves for his coming into our lives by giving Him time, prayer, making ourselves available in spirit and asking His purpose for us in our world today.
Have a good week.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers & Sisters

Jesus demonstrates in His public ministry that He has a mission. He is sent by the Father to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.

Today He is offering hope to the widow of Naim, as he restores her son life. He will demonstrate His concern for those who can find themselves living on the edge of society. He is concerned that all of us should become mainstream. The strong by helping the weak; the weak by accepting the support of those who can give.

All of us, some time in our lives, will be the poor or the strong. The teacher will need to be taught, the doctor will become the patient, the nurse will need to be nursed.

In our strength let us learn to be kind; in our weakness, let us learn to be gracious and accepting of help … and in all let us be thoughtful to our gracious God, who came among us that we realise our supreme worth in the eyes of God.

Have a good week.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard


Dear Brothers & Sisters

So many feasts, so many celebrations, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, Holy Trinity, Corpus Christi. Then we come down to earth again with the ordinary Sunday’s of the Year (4th / 5th June, 2016).

There is something nice about the ordinary. Ordinary is where our lives happen. In the ordinary events of Jesus’ public life, we learn about His solicitude for us, His brothers and sisters. By the power of the Holy Spirit, may we come to use His gifts, that we may produce their fruits.

We will leave the banners up, announcing the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and we will leave the window markings, announcing the fruits of the Holy Spirit, until the Confirmation on the 22nd June, 2016.

Meanwhile may you and I be assured of God’s love for us and all mankind.

Yours,

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers & Sisters

Instead of my usual letter I thought you might like to read this, it’s an award-winning prayer from one of the children in our Parish:

Pentecost

by Leonie Brunning

They were alone lost sheep their shepherd missing,
Gone is the legacy of love and hope,
Hidden in the shadows of fear and hardship,
Wrapped within their shawls of grief.

Apostles misled, astray, wanting the light of Jesus to shine,
Churning emotions both shared and secret
Tangled together hopes and fears like breezes of wind they add and build,
Then within the howling gust a spirit, a flame, a light in the darkness.

Then quiet, the anger subsides, finally hope in their tired morning eyes,
Tongues of flame twist and dance
Weaving to and fro, creating awe to enchant,
The touch of the flame living and true, an essence of power and freedom of voice.

As the fire caresses the face of each disciple
Their eyes opened and their tongues loosened,
The sound of love, light and hope
Speaking God’s graces to all peoples on earth.



Have a good week,

Fr. Richard

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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers & Sisters

Jesus ascends into heaven. He leaves the disciples as witnesses of all the things that have happened. He is going to send the Holy Spirit upon them so they may continue His saving work.

In the Holy Spirit, Jesus is near to each one of us, and guides our Christian journey; He is the companion of those persecuted for the faith; He is in the heart of those who are marginalised; He is present in those whom the right to a decent life is denied.

We can hear, see and touch our Lord Jesus Christ in the Church, especially in the word and the sacraments.

Have a good week … looking forward to Pentecost.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers & Sisters

The whole purpose of meeting together to celebrate what Jesus is doing for us is because we are so forgetful. We are easily discouraged and lose focus because of the many distractions of the world.

“Remember this”, Cardinal Hume said to a host of children in Lourdes. “Remember only this: ‘God loves you.’’’

It is too what we should remember, and all that it implies.

Have a good week.

Fr. Richard
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Saint Catherine of Siena

Today is the feast day of St Catherine of Siena, Patron of Europe. Bible Alive Reflections today connects her with Jesus's encouragement in Matthew 12:28, "Come to me all you who are burdened and I will give you rest . . ."

More importantly, for me, she talked much of the Holy Trinity:

'O Eternal Trinity, you are an abyss, a deep sea, what greater good could you give? You are fire, ever burning and never consumed, consuming in your heart all the self-love of the soul. By your light you enlighten our minds and by your light you lead us to rejoice in your truth.’

That feels like a wonderful prayer to remember.

Chris
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Letter from Father Richard

Good Shepherd Sunday


Dear Brothers & Sisters

There are good shepherds and there are bad shepherds, there are good mothers, and bad mothers, good fathers and bad...and so on. Learning to live for others, laying down your life if you like, is a mindset.

It is something that improves with practice. If the commitment is not there in the first place ... good practice will not follow.

Jesus’ commitment to us is total: follow Him and He will teach you how to lay down your life for others, how to offer service in your family, in your community and in your church.

You will learn what it means to love one another as He has loved us.

Have a good week.

Fr. Richard

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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers & Sisters

Never feel ashamed at not understanding the fullness of the gospel. It is beyond human fathoming and rich in its content. As literature, the gospels are sublime, especially, I think, St. John’s.

So nuanced is all that is written that it will depend on your own life’s experiences, what you are able to understand and what will take you forward.

The constant is this – I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, YES, TO THE END OF TIME.

Have joy, have peace, have the wonder of discovery: have a wonderful relationship with the Risen Christ.

Have a good week.

Fr. Richard

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Today's reading from the Acts

I read today's Reflection in Bible Alive, about Acts 22-33 in which Peter quotes Psalm 16 (v8 to 11). This passage is an inspiration when we think of the message of the Gospel, a message of hope in the Resurrection.

This is the full Psalm . . .

Chris

1. Keep me safe, my God,
    for in you I take refuge.

2. I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    apart from you I have no good thing.”

3. I say of the holy people who are in the land,
    “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”

4. Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
    I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
    or take up their names on my lips.

5.  Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
    you make my lot secure.

6. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    surely I have a delightful inheritance.

7. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.

8. I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

9. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest secure,

10. because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
    nor will you let your faithful[b] one see decay.

11. You make known to me the path of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence,
    with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

You will know the story of the disciples on the way to Emmaus, that the Resurrection of Jesus enables Him not only to be at the right hand of the Father, but also to be among us through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is very important to recognise Jesus’ presence among us. It not only gives us hope, but it gives us purpose.

One of the effects of the Holy Spirit is that He energises us. Don’t live in the past; you have a present, and you are journeying into the future. Let the Holy Spirit give you ideas, dreams and a Christian identity unique to
yourself. Be ambitious in all areas of your life.

Dare to believe in the death & resurrection of Jesus which has enabled us to be embraced by the arms of our merciful Father. Live, but live in Him, be renewed by the Holy Spirit, be reconciled to one another and to the Father.

Happy Easter.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

Palm Sunday. A day of acclamation, a time of affirmation. Jesus rides in to Jerusalem on a donkey.

In our liturgy the reading of the Passion, an endurance list for young and old alike. What a day of mixed emotions: to be acceptable in the eyes of the Lord, it is not necessary to be successful; it is necessary to be in need.

“Lord remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.” You are the tick in the empty box in my life. You are the one without whom, the world cannot be saved.

“O come let us praise Him.”

Have a good Holy Week.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

Jesus is really disarming, “Let him / her who is without sin, cast the first stone.”

When we correct one another, we only do so as brothers and sisters; we must never be part of a crowd out for blood. Never should we resort to mindless witch hunts.

Never should we act except out of love of justice: a Christian justice which brings to bear on all judgements a sense of kindness and love.

The sinner should always be able to say – “That’s a fair cop guv” rather than be left with a sense of resentment. Speak the truth – yes…. but only in love.

Have a good week.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

The Introduction to the Liturgy for the 4th Sunday of Lent (Year C) in the C.T.S version of the SUNDAY MISSAL is printed below. It is by Benedict the XVI. I hope you like it.

‘On this fourth Sunday of Lent, the Gospel of the father and the two sons, better known as the Parable of the “Prodigal Son” (Lk 15:11- 32) is proclaimed. This passage of St. Luke constitutes one of the peaks of spirituality and literature of all time. After Jesus has told us of the merciful Father, things are no longer as they were before. We now know God; he is our Father who out of love created us to be free and endowed us with a conscience, who suffers when we get lost and rejoices when we return. The two sons represent two immature ways of relating to God: rebellion and childish obedience. Both these forms are surmounted through the experience of mercy. Only by experiencing forgiveness, by recognizing one is loved with a freely given love, a love greater than our wretchedness but also than our own merit, do we at last enter into a truly filial and free relationship with God.’

(Pope Benedict XVI)

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

I have never read anywhere anything as good as Benedict XVI’s comments on the brothers in the Prodigal Son gospel. They both fall short in their relationship with the Father, one by rebellion and the other by childish obedience. It gives us some food for thought doesn’t it?
Have a good week.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

I once read that almost all our ‘ordinary’ sins were a ‘short cut’ to a good. So if you want a nice new radio, and you haven’t the money you take a short cut to the good of ownership and steal it.

The Hebrew language uses the word hamartia to describe sin. It is a term borrowed from archery, meaning to fall short of the bull’s eye.

We take short cuts in all sorts of ways in life. We fail to think things through; we fail to update our moral knowledge to live as adults and not children … and we blame God for everything … or, just as bad, we blame ourselves.

Misfortune happens to us all. Let us not blame God, ourselves or our parents or teachers. They are opportunities for reflection, in order to overcome the illusion of being able to live without God and to reinforce, with the Lord’s help, the commitment to change our way of life. (last bit quoted from Benedict XVI).

Muse, reflect, pray… may God lift you up on eagle’s wings.

Have a good week.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

I am forever being surprised by the scriptures. In today’s gospel reading it says that Moses and Elijah were talking to Jesus about His “passing”. The Greek word used is ‘exodus’. My ears pricked up when I realised Jesus’ ‘exodus’, His ‘passing’ was from this life, through death to eternal life.

The original exodus was from ‘slavery’ in Egypt through “water” to the promised land. That “water” we also pass through at baptism to enter the life of Christ. Jesus is truly the fulfilment of the Law and the Prophets.

Where He has gone He invites us to follow in this world and the world to come.

Have a good week.

Father Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

Shrove Tuesday, Carneval, Mardi Gras….all events associated with the beginning of Lent. In our Lenten Liturgy, we simplify, take out the frills. There is no Gloria, no Alleluia, the liturgical colour is deliberately not bright. Purple is meant to represent a time of preparation. In our case, a preparation for the great Feast of Easter. Just as the liturgy reflects a simplicity, we can if we want take this into our everyday lives. We can declutter, our homes, our churches, our office space. Get rid of all unused objects – our charity shops and tips should be full. Our social lives could perhaps reflect the fact that we are in a penitential season- less levity – more gravity. It could be a time of prayer, reading, reflection. So many ways to prepare; choose one or two.

Have a good Lent.

Fr. Richard

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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

There are many occasions in life when we have to entrust ourselves into another’s care. When we go to the doctor or the dentist, when we undergo surgery, we make a great leap of faith in the skill and capacity of others to look after us.

Of course, they have proved their skill and undergone some thorough training themselves. We trust teaching authorities, we trust our system to train and educate our young. At least we do on the whole.

Today Jesus is setting about gaining trust – the trust of His disciples; He is going to call on them to do extraordinary things – or an extraordinary thing. He is asking them to entrust their lives to Him.

Peter responds “Leave me, for I am a sinful man.” Or leave me, I’m only going to let you down. You know the feeling!

Still . . .Come follow me! It applies to you and me.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

As we progress through the year listening especially to the gospel of St. Luke, we realise that Luke is taking us on a journey. Jesus starts out in Nazareth and now the whole of the gospel is a journey towards Jerusalem.

The first reading and the Psalm tell us how special Jesus is – He is the ‘anointed one’: the one who is to bring good news to the poor etc. He has good news for us today.

Let us pray that we may see in the words of Jesus, our hope and salvation, His underlying mercy and a renewed vision for the things of God.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

Christian Unity Week is from the 18th – 25th of January. It is when the Christian Churches make a special point of praying, that the divisions within Christianity may be healed. “May they be one Father, as you and I are one” prayed Jesus (John c.17).

Sadly, we as human beings have a tendency to disruption, self will and delusional thinking. Pope John Paul II was not merely concerned with Christian Unity, but the Unity of the human race.

We must all look for the things that unite us rather than those that divide, so that there may be war no more (Paul VI) and that we may prosper in the land.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers & Sisters

The Christmas Cycle of Feasts is almost ended. Some would say it ends today with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, others that it ends on February 2nd – Candlemas.

Victorian SECULAR England wanted it to end by the 6th January, the Feast of the Epiphany…. the origin of the 12 days of Christmas, so that workers would return to work.

The Christmas theme of HOSPITALITY opens up for us a whole new world. As we begin to be hospitable to others we see POSSIBILITY for ourselves – we discover that the Lord Himself is inviting us on a voyage of discovery – birth, epiphany, baptism, presentation in the temple. As we begin to celebrate so He makes known His plans for us.

The world of the Spirit is being opened to us, a world of hope and meaning.

Fr. Richard

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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

HOSPITALITY in our time is an INDUSTRY. It has always been in every society an attitude. We welcome people into our homes, we welcome people into our churches, we try to make room for others in our hearts. Even the most closed heart breaks open when people fall in love. May this Christmas be a time for broke-open hearts, not broken hearts; for tolerance, mercy and compassionate love.

Yours

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers & Sisters

In all penitential seasons there is a time for relaxation. Gaudete Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent is one of such period of enjoyment and relaxation. Rejoice, we are told, for our salvation is near at hand. With this and the proclamation of the Year of Mercy we have much to rejoice about. Jubilees are always about debts forgiven and new beginnings.

Rejoice, your salvation is near at hand.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Fr Richard

Dear Brothers & Sisters

Christians are people formed by the Eucharistic celebration. The sacrifice of the Mass is the high point of our liturgical endeavour. The theme of the last supper is obviously a theme that features hospitality. Jesus is our host – we are His
guests. God wishes to be hospitable to us. The theme of today’s gospel – “Prepare a way for the Lord’ is important, in that we have to learn to be hospitable to God. The original Christmas was a time when He came to His own and they knew Him not. Let us reverse that original omission. Let us individually and as a community, … Prepare a way for the Lord … Let us learn to be hospitable to Him.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Fr Richard

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

Advent is that season in the church’s Year when we look forward, as well as looking back.

We look forward to celebrating the great feast of Christmas; we look forward to that day when Jesus Christ will come again.

We look back on history – to those figures who were so necessary for the Christmas event to take place at all. Isaiah & John the Baptist, Mary the Mother of Jesus and Joseph her spouse.

Did God really become Man? That is a question which we have to answer for ourselves. If he did, why? Surely to engage on a more intimate level with us human beings.

Can we make room for Jesus in our lives? He stands at the door….and he knocks….

Have a good Advent.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Letter from Fr. Richard

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

We finish the Liturgical Year with the Feast of Christ the King. An upbeat end to our journey of faith year. A reminder of Julian of Norwich’s encouraging words, “All will be well, all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.” What
a lovely thought that the sufferings imposed on us by others, can be used if we
so wish, to wish them well. We can ask God to let our suffering become redemptive of the very persons who have hurt or harmed us; by joining them
to those of Jesus….and then shall good really prevail in the world.

Have a good week.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Fr Richard

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

“The End of the World”…? ’But as for that day or hour, nobody knows it, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son; no one but the Father.’ Mk13: 32. People often like to make predictions; we live in a predictive world… but
for all that no one can factor in all the possibilities. So, live now… grow where you are planted; give thanks always and everywhere for all that we are and all that God calls us to be.

Have a good week.

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Fr Richard

Dear Brothers & Sisters,
Jesus seems to ask us to keep an open mind in regard to one another. Not to judge too harshly; never to write anyone off. As we grow older we become aware that we ourselves have often failed where we would prefer to have succeeded; we have been glad of second, third, fourth or in reality infinite number of chances to change ourselves for the better. Perhaps Jesus is saying to give one another the benefit of the doubt; try to see things not just from our own point of view. In this upcoming Year of Mercy let us see in the saying: Be you perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect, that the Father’s perfection is in His mercy. He sent His son into the world NOT to condemn the world, but to save it.
Have a good week!

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Fr Richard

Letter from Fr. Richard

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

Attitudes towards poverty and wealth vary throughout the world. It can vary because of the belief system we subscribe to or simply because we are governed by our basic instincts. All of us, I guess, need some kind of guidance and formation when it comes to money and the use there of. For the Christian, as we are reminded in the Pope’s Encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ we are stewards of God’s creation, we are stewards of property, of money etc. It is only in prayerful dialogue and conversation that we strike the right balance.

Poverty of spirit is only achieved through an active spiritual life.

Have a good week,


Fr. Richard
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Letter from Father Richard

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

I am filled with wonder and awe at some of mankind’s achievements. I am filled with wonder and awe at the engineering of the Hoover Dam, the Aswan Dam and the other like works. I am filled with wonder and awe at the achievements of civil engineers, Brunel and all who follow him. Our bridges, our roads, - so much…….. And these are the achievements of man – man’s creation.

We can imagine then how God feels about His creation and the pinnacle of His creation MANKIND. It is from this point of view we must view all that Jesus says: He is saying revere one another, treat one another with respect. My creation is something you should not disrespect. God views us with wonder and awe. We can learn to do likewise.



Have a good week!

Fr. Richard
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Letter from Fr Richard

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

It is so easy to let our inner peace be shattered by the cares of life and the troubles of our world. It is difficult to manage our inner conflicts and turmoil. St James seems to have an answer. Placing ourselves at God’s service, offering our lives to him, is certainly a beginning. It takes away the focus from our eyes and gives us a better focus. A focus that can give meaning to our lives and peace in our hearts.

Have a good week!

Fr Richard
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Letter from Fr Richard

Dear Brothers and Sisters

At the beginning of the Baptism Rite, the deacon or priest asks the parents: Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking? The answer is: we do. The same question is assumed and answered when we embark upon marriage, or ordination. An inner voice always says within me: No you don’t! In fact, how can anyone know what they are undertaking when they embark upon a new direction in life? However, I can always answer with conviction if I believe that God is on the scene. I know that He will be my sureness in my doubt, my strength in my weakness and my resolve when I am like jelly.

Peter answers with conviction because he knows he wants above all to follow Jesus……. But how, he does not yet know. All of us have to answer the question: Who do you say I am in our way or other, at many stages of our lives. May our answer be: Jesus the Saviour of the world and my saviour.
Have a good week!

Fr Richard
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From Father Richard's Desk

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

To gain balance in our lives is not always easy. The disciples had returned from the mission Jesus had sent them on, and they returned quite tired from the experience. Jesus said that they needed to come apart and rest awhile. Wishful thinking – He saw the crowds following them and took pity on them. Even in the Life of Jesus good intentions had to be shelved for “the great good”. Even though our lives may not have the balance we would like, God can still be there in the middle of our struggle, accompanying us in our difficulties.

Have a good week.
Fr. Richard
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From Father Richard's Desk

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

There is a pattern in the life of Jesus, as portrayed by St. John in his gospel.

Jesus spends time with his Father in prayer; He goes out from that into His public ministry; He reflects – He goes to His Father in prayer – etc . . .

All of us as Christians are called to do God’s work. We must never be afraid that it will be too much for us, or that we will not have the means. If God asks, He will provide. Dare to think beyond yourself; dare to think that because of you the church, the world, can change for the better.

Have a good week.
Fr. Richard
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From Father Richard's Desk

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The feeling of failure is often accompanied by doubts and the “if only” syndrome. We have a tendency to take ‘failure’ very personally. It may be we feel we are failed parents, spouses, priests, deacons. For all those featuring in the Sunday Readings, failure on one level or another is par for the course. The important thing in life is that we do, at the time, what we consider to be the best in obedience to consciences informed by Christ in his church. We are rare successes if we can become and remain human in a dehumanising world. We are rare if we have a lively faith that never fails to trust in the goodness of God.

Have a good week.
Fr. Richard
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From Father Richard's Desk

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

St. Frances of Assisi said that each one of us should preach the gospel by all means possible and even if necessary to preach it by the word. I think that St. Frances means that the best way of preaching the gospel, the best way of laying the foundation of that preaching, is to live the gospel that we preach. Then our word has at least some credibility. It is the same for us; before all else we must try to live the gospel; to see things with the eyes of faith, and believe that in the end “all will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well” (Julian of Norwich).


Have a good week.

Fr. Richard
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From Father Richard's Desk

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Corpus Christi, the Latin for The Body of Christ, sounds more exotic than the English. Being ‘spiritual’ sounds better than being human. However, the fact that God became man in Jesus Christ is reason enough for us to celebrate our humanity. The gift of Jesus in Holy Communion reinforces and grounds us in our humanity. We are becoming in Jesus what we are meant to be – fully human – feeling, loving, vulnerable human beings who need one another for life itself – for affirmation, for growth and for wellbeing. We must all learn that what God wants of us is to act justly, to love tenderly and walk humbly with our God.

Have a good week.
Fr. Richard
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From Father Richard's Desk

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

St. Thérèse of Lisieux said that the only reason she dared to address God as Father was that Jesus gave us the permission when he taught us the perfect prayer. The only reason we dare preach the gospel is because we believe in those words of Jesus, ‘Go make disciples of all the nations…’ May our boldness and conviction always come from our faith in Jesus Christ, who lived, died, rose from the dead and ascended to the Father and who together sent the Holy Spirit – that Holy Spirit who loves to be among us. May we learn to enjoy the company of God as much as He enjoys ours.

Have a good week.
Fr. Richard
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From Father Richard's Desk

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We gain a greater understanding of our faith if we are familiar with its origins. The Passover and Pentecost are not creations of a new religion called Christianity. They are the shadows or the embers of what was to be their fulfilment at Easter and Pentecost. Pentecost, fifty days after Passover, was the Jewish feast chosen to celebrate the giving of the 10 Commandments. Pentecost for us is a celebration of the New Commandment that Jesus gives to us, and with it the means to its fulfilment. The new commandment ‘Love one another as I have loved you’, and the means to its fulfilment – the gift of the Holy Spirit. God is the giver who keeps on giving, the lover who keeps on loving, the Rock, who is forever steadfast in our lives.

Have a good week.
Fr. Richard
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From Father Richard's Desk

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Feast of Ascension seems to have been celebrated in the Church since at least the 5th Century and probably long before that. It is very much part of the Easter cycle of feasts. Easter Sunday, then 40 days later the Ascension, and 10 days after that Pentecost. The Passion – Good Friday, and Pentecost, are originally (and still are) Jewish Feasts. Our Christian Festivals are fulfilments of these feasts. The Ascension of Jesus to the right hand of the Father is essential in bringing about the sending of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son. Now the Church is born, and we have those words echoing in our ears – ‘I am with you always, yes until the end of time’.

Have a good week.
Fr. Richard
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From Father Richard's Desk

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Gospel today seems so easy to accomplish. Jesus bids his disciples to remain in His love; to abide with him. When we realise that staying with Him, remaining with Him, abiding with Him, involves keeping His commands, we should rightly shudder a little. We are being invited to love one another, build one another up, give one another a sense of wellbeing – and to do it in the manner in which He is loving us. He is inviting us to greatness. Can He be our companion on life’s journey? He stands at the door and knocks.

Have a good week.
Fr. Richard
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From Father Richard's Desk

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“If you remain in me
and my words remain in you
you may ask what you will
and you shall get it”
Jn 15.7


That’s quite a promise. Worth testing wouldn’t you think?

Have a good week.
Fr. Richard

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From Father Richard's Desk

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Good Shepherd Sunday is traditionally a day when we pray for vocations to the Priesthood and religious life. We are not praying for people to become religious stereotypes but people so inspired by God as to want to serve Him in a particular way. All shepherds have to become masters of themselves before they can be of use to others.

Let us pray that we may all continue to grow to maturity in Christ, that our very being may be a beacon to others.

Fr. Richard
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From Father Richard's Desk

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The gospel today is a reminder that it takes some doing to get used to the fact that Jesus is alive: He is risen from the dead. Sensibility and discernment of spirits is an art, acquired as all art, through trial and error and frequent practice. To perfect an art requires perseverance. Long may the adventure of living with the Risen Christ continue to inspire and strengthen you.

Fr. Richard
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From Father Richard's Desk

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

When we are children and have done something wrong, we are often frightened to own up to it because of being told off. In our relationship with God we project the same kind of attitude….That is what has changed with the Risen Christ. He says ‘Peace be with you’. You are at one with the Father. Do not be afraid…confessing your sins will not lead to a telling off, but a helping hand. Be assured.

Peace be with you,

Fr. Richard
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Churches Together on Good Friday

The Churches Together in Biggleswade Walk of Witness was very well attended. Participants took up about 200yds along the pavement as the walked from the Baptist Church on London Road to the square in the centre of Biggleswade. Once there, Phil Campion, leader of the Baptist Church, gave a stirring talk on the "Funeral March to Joy". I felt inspired.

Chris

D2015_DSF3914 Witness

D2015_DSF3915 Witness

D2015_DSF3916 Witness
D2015_DSF3917 Witness
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From Father Richard's Desk

Passiontide is not the most cheerful part of the Church’s year. It is so difficult to be with people in their suffering. The disciples found it so in the Garden of Gethsemane. We find it so in regard to our own sick or suffering; we find it so as we endure the services of Holy Week. It is through our endurance that will save us.
Jesus asks us to Abide with Him in His suffering. After Easter we will, with the disciples on the way to Emmaus, be saying to Him Abide with me…fast falls…


Fr. Richard
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From Father Richard's Desk

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The theme of death and resurrection is common in nature. It is not an alien concept to any of us. “Unless the seed of grain dies…it cannot become the short the stalk and again the grain.”

Although the theme is common we have yet to learn to travel light. The intention of those who take vows of poverty, of chastity and obedience is an intention not to be possessed by possessions, to use sexuality in the course of Christian love and to give up self-will in order to prefer God’s will above all. It is a journey we need to begin again each day.

Have a good week,
Fr. Richard
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From Father Richard's Desk

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We all have tried and trusted ways of keeping God on the periphery of our lives. “I’m not really religious!”; “I’m spiritual, but I don’t need God.” We sometimes treat God as a talisman, or our own private idol that we can get out every now and again…all designed to keep God at bay. One man had to have eight pints before coming to see me. I don’t know what image he had of Priests – but not good I suspect. If you want to keep God at bay – what image have you of God – not good I suspect. Jesus, we believe is the perfect realisation of the Father. Come out of the shadow and into the light. Do not be afraid. “It is only I”.

Have a good week,
Fr. Richard
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OneClimate-OneWorld Easter 2015 Pastoral Area Pilgrimage



Join our cross-pastoral-area pilgrimage stages on Saturdays between April 11th and 23rd May 2015. So we might better appreciate what the wonderful planet have been given and why Pope Frances encourages us to treat the earth kindly when he says :
“Let us be protectors of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.”
Click here to find out more and register - we charge nothing! 
Everything is freely given with love
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From Father Richard's Desk

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Jesus had zero tolerance for those who made it difficult for others to come to a knowledge and love for God. He lambasted the Pharisees, calling them whited sepulchres, he was less than pleased with those who used the temple as a trading post. So that we don’t put people off God, we need to draw closer to Him to reflect Him in our daily lives. The challenge is ours. Although we are all called to holiness, few take up the challenge.

Have a good week,
Fr. Richard
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From Father Richard's Desk

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Here we are in the second week of our journey through Lent towards Easter. We are witnessing Jesus in interaction with his disciples and with the people at large. It is not an easy journey for Jesus; he has to be resolute, determined. That surely is key for our lives as Christians: we must be resolute, determined, motivated. It is only then that God can unfold his plan for us, as he did to Abraham, Paul and the disciples of Jesus.

Have a good week,
Fr. Richard
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