Canon John’s Pastoral Notes 2008-2009

Canon John Koenig outside the Presbytery, 2009

St. Edward’s Parish Newsletter contains weekly thoughts and teachings from our parish priest, Canon John Koenig.


September 13th 2009
Did Jesus go to school? Now that a new school-term has started, we may be reminded how important it is to learn to read and write, and how we take it for granted that 2000 years ago (New Testament) so much writing took place, giving us the inspired word of God in the holy scriptures. Jesus, we are taught in our faith, “was born like us in all things but sin”, and so had to learn to read and write: we hear of Him reading in the synagogue in Nazareth, causing astonishment and disturbance by His wisdom. The only writing we hear of is when he doodled on the ground, with the crowd wanting to stone a woman in their midst. It seems fitting that there is no written word in person, but He speaks to us in the words of the Gospel especially. Many of the apostles may have been fishermen, but not necessarily thereby unable to read or write. Still, Paul, who was highly educated, indicates at the end of some of his letters, that he had been dictating to a scribe or scertary, only personally signing the letter at the end. The Church is wise in giving us just short passages of Scripture at Mass – one saint tells us that we are always learning something new from the word of God and, if something touches us specially, we are to treasure that piece, and not worry if there are parts we cannot follow. The ‘MY DAY-BY-DAY’ booklet is quite helpful in that way.

September 6th 2009
Next week is HOME MISSION SUNDAY – a day of prayer for the spread of the Gospel in England and Wales. The reason that the Church exists is to evangelise and there will be a second collection to support the vital work of the Catholic Agency to Support Evangelisation (CASE); whilst this collection is optional the Agency is part-funded by it and relies on diocesan support. The theme for this year’s Sunday is ‘They will know Him by the good works that you do’. While we support the Church’s missionary work overseas, next Sunday’s collection reminds us of a missionary gift we all have. There are two patron saints of Missionaries – St Francis Xavier, a Jesuit priest who travelled from Europe to India, Japan and the borders of China in the 16th century, and also St Theresa of Lisieux, the contemplative Carmelite sister who died in 1897 and whose relics are being venerated around the country at the moment. Together these saints may remind us of prayer and action as inseparable. Our faith leads us to look outwards to others, perhaps in sharing our faith in certain circumstances, but also in concern for the many needs around us. In prayer we ask to find the right way to share our faith.

August 30th 2009
Last week we celebrated the feast days of St Monica and St Augustine. St Monica was St Augustine’s mother, and she spent many years praying, at times with tears, for the conversion of her son. The Lord heard her cry! St Augustine, who as a young man lived a very worldly life, was converted to Christ is his early thirties, and became one of the great saints of the Church. Born in North Africa, he became Bishop of Hippo, and for 34 years was an exemplary bishop to his flock, teaching his people by his sermons and writings, striving to combat the errors of the time and make the faith understood. Several days before her death, St Monica said to him: “Son, for my own part I no longer find joy in anything in this world. What I am still to do here and why I am here I know not, now that I no longer hope for anything from this world. One thing there was, for which I desired to remain still a little longer in this life, that I should see you a Catholic Christian before I died. This God has granted me in superabundance, in that I now see you his servant to the contempt of all worldly happiness. What then am I doing here?” St Augustine was convinced that his conversion was thanks to the intercession of his mother. At a time when many young people struggle to see the relevance of faith, may St Monica’s example encourage all Christian mothers to persevere in praying for their children.

August 23rd 2009
St. Bernadette’s Grotto, Rothwell
During 6th -15th August the Kettering and Corby District Sick Pilgrims Trust enjoyed a wonderful pilgrimage to Lourdes. The wonder of Lourdes began when Our Lady appeared to St. Bernadette in 1858. During one of those apparitions, Our Lady proclaimed to St. Bernadette: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Sometimes, the Immaculate Conception is confused with the virgin birth of Jesus. However, the Immaculate Conception actually refers to when Mary herself was conceived. While Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anne, conceived Mary in the natural way, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception teaches that Mary was miraculously preserved from any stain of original sin. She was, then, conceived in a state of original grace, like Adam and Eve were before the fall [this is why, at the annunciation, angel Gabriel proclaims: “Hail Mary, full of grace!”] Unlike Eve, however, Mary co-operated with God’s grace throughout her entire life and remained sinless. For this reason, Mary is sometimes referred to as the “New Eve” and “Mother of all the Living” [this is why we find Jesus sometimes referring to his mother as “woman”! (e.g. John 2:4)]. Through the Immaculate Conception, God prepared Mary to be the mother of Jesus, and also the spiritual mother of each one of us too (See John 19:26-27 & Revelation 12:17). Our Lady of Lourdes: Pray for us!

August 16th 2009
The feast of the Assumption of Our Lady is officially on 15th August, and on 14th August the Church celebrates St Maximilian Kolbe, the Polish Franciscan friar, who died after a lethal injection in Auschwitz Concentration Camp on 14th August 1941 – appropriately close to Our Lady’s feast, as he started a sodality with a strong devotion to Our Lady twenty years earlier in Poland, as well as a religious magazine, which later criticised the occupiers of Poland, and so partly led to his imprisonment. After some prisoners escaped from the camp, several others were punished by starvation to death, and St Maximilian asked and was allowed to take the place of a married man. He felt, as a priest, his proper place was helping the condemned prisoners as they faced death. He outlived the others and was then injected with poison. The man whose life he saved was present in Rome in 1982 when Pope John Paul pronounced Maximilian a saint.

August 9th 2009
When St John Vianney, in his late twenties, went to study for the priesthood, he found himself sitting with young boys, trying (and largely failing) to learn Latin. It was not always thus. When Ambrose, governor of the city of Milan in northern Italy, was called by the citizens to become their new bishop, (having tried to escape), he went off to a holy man in Rome for a long while, much like an apprentice might seek to learn from a master-craftsman. In Italy in the 1960s there were over 400 dioceses, many of them smaller than our Kettering parish, but very ancient – and a picture of the early church, where the bishop was very much the centre, with a group of priests whom he might send out to more distant parts, as well as deacons and many others. Priests learnt by being part of the bishop’s household. This system, at some point, did not work so well. From the 5th century, parishes began to be established (ie permanent outposts), though there were still dioceses which had no parishes even by the 16th century. It was now the time of the Reformation, and part of the Catholic response was to establish institutions for the training of priests. Most of the English martyrs, men who had been trained abroad, were known as the ‘seminary priests’. Today there are training centres in London, Birmingham, Guildford and near Durham, as well as international centres abroad.

August 2nd 2009
In this holiday season, it was good to be reminded of the feast days of the two sisters, Mary (22nd July) and Martha (29th July), who welcomed Jesus into their home. Mary was praised by Jesus, as she sat at his feet, listening to him, while Martha was gently chided for being too anxious and busy over many things! Perhaps we feel a niggling sympathy for Martha, with many chores to attend to – and there is, after all, a feast of St Martha too. But still the real challenge may be to follow Mary, and not miss the opportunity to relax, read, go for a walk, sit still with a prayer.

July 26th, 2009
Some saints have connections with us in unexpected, roundabout ways. Last Thursday was the feast of a patron saint of Europe, St Bridget of Sweden, (along with St Benedict, d. around 547 AD and SS Cyril and Methodius for eastern Europe – died 869/885 AD). Bridget seemed to combine everything. She was married for 28 years, with eight children, and worked at court. After her husband’s death she settled with one daughter in Rome where “she became the advisor of popes and kings and the devoted servant of the poor of the city” where she died 23rd July 1373. Her mystical writings have been translated into numerous languages. Her home in Rome is now the mother-house of the religious order she founded, the Bridgettines. A male branch of the order died out, but does count among its number one of the canonised English martyrs, St Richard Reynolds, in the time of Henry VIII, 1535. The Bridgettine convent in Rome has a special shrine to this saint, and the convent is conveniently placed next to the English College in Rome, whose priests celebrate daily Mass for the nuns. The English College, which has trained men for the priesthood since the 16th century, began life as a pilgrims’ hospice around 1300. The first Holy Year was established then, but there is a (buried) site of a much earlier pilgrim home set up near the Vatican by King Alfred, around 800AD. The Bridgettines have a convent in our diocese at Iver Heath near Slough, and also at the Maryvale Centre in Birmingham.

July 12th 2009
While we are now used to ever-changing fashions in our consumer society, we do not perhaps realise how much clerical dress and titles have changed, reflecting the times – today more informal – rather than some teaching of the faith. There is a famous letter of an early Pope (500 AD?) where he criticises the new fashion of clerics wearing distinctive dress in the street, saying they should rather be distinguished by their holy life, not their colourful attire! In our secular society, on the other hand, religious symbols, seeing a clerical collar, is perhaps a good reminder, though the good example is more important. Bishop Peter in his robes for Mass this week reminded us of his calling as priest (shepherd’s crozier), prophet (cross and ring) and king (crown or mitre). Though we all share in those titles by baptism we pray for his particular burden and hope to support and work with him for God’s kingdom.

July 5th 2009
After so many special Sunday Feasts, we now continue more obviously with the Green or Ordinary sequence of the year, when we are guided through a particular Gospel. This year B is dedicated to St Mark’s Gospel. A famous Russian Orthodox bishop, Anthony Bloom, was converted while reading Mark’s Gospel, suddenly being utterly aware that Christ was standing before him. That is how we are to read the Gospels – as Christ speaking to us. The four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John have been described as four portraits of Jesus – in a portrait the real character of the person painted strikes us. The Gospels are very different – only Matthew has the eight Beatitudes, only Luke the story of the prodigal son, only Mark tells us Jesus’ relations wanted to stop him preaching and John …! All different portraits, but evidently of the same person – and as John tells us, the world could not contain all the books that would have to be written – and 2000 years later are still being written.

13th Century Mosaic of St. Paul

June 28th 2009
The Year of St Paul comes to an end this Sunday, arranged to mark the anniversary of the apostle’s birth, best calculated as 8 or 9 AD. He is buried under the high altar of the basilica named after him, outside the ancient walls of Rome. This basilica stood for roughly 1500 years (320-1820 AD) – until, by accident, it was burnt down. The cardinals in Rome were so shocked, they kept it secret from a dying Pope. The basilica was rebuilt with the help of the faithful around the world, and just as it had been, giving us a perfect example of an ancient Roman basilica. The tomb of St Paul is still there, under the high altar, unscathed by the fire.

June 21st 2009
From the time of the Reformation until 1850, Catholic Dioceses ceased to exist in Britain. On 29th September 1850 Pope Pius IX restored the English Hierarchy and the diocese of Northampton came into being. Among other matters, Pope Pius indicated that donations given to the bishops by the faithful were to be used for the support of the churches and clergy, for the missionary work of the Church, and in care for the needy, in equal measure. The Pope was quoting his predecessor, the saintly Pope Gregory I, who wrote the same to St Augustine, the first archbishop of Canterbury in 597 AD, asking what he should do with the donations given to him. Pope Gregory added that the best guide for bishops had always been the letters of St Paul to Timothy and Titus, in the first century AD. Bishop Peter is the 12th bishop of Northampton.

June 14th 2009
Today’s Feast of ‘Corpus Christi’, ‘The Body of Christ’, now more fully entitled, ‘The Body and Blood of Christ’, began in the 13th century with an act of humility. The Pope of the time asked two great teachers of the faith, both future saints, to select readings and write hymns for this new feast, and on a set day to present them to him. The two men, one a follower of St Dominic, the other of St Francis, in due course returned to the Pope, and the Dominican was asked to present his work first. When the Pope turned to the second man, he shook his head and tore up his notes. The first teacher was St Thomas Aquinas, perhaps the most brilliant of Christian thinkers, and his hymns we still sing at Benediction and on Maundy Thursday every year. The second was also a great saint, St Bonaventure. We are given the encouragement by both saints to approach the Mass with the same care and veneration

Holy Trinity Church

June 7th 2009
The Feast of the Holy Trinity is the patronal feast of our community in Desborough, the church under the title of the Most Holy Trinity. At Pentecost we are reminded of the Church’s mission: Go, make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. We are made disciples, learners, from the loving and friendly call of God. The Church grappled fiercely with the notion of the Trinity: there were even rival gangs in Constantinople/Istanbul, where our Sunday Creed was finally proclaimed by the bishops in 381 AD. It is not surprising that God’s opening His heart to us is both deeply mysterious, as well as enlightening. This day is a day of silent adoration as well as reflection.

May 24th 2009
Next Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, we will hear from Sister Marion at the 10.30am Mass about the work of the Sisters of Our Lady around the world, as that Sunday reminds us of the universal mission of the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Sisters from around the world benefit from a stay in Kettering to learn English better, for example from Brazil and S Korea. The Church in Korea began with a layman who came across Christian books in Chinese, and on an official journey to China sought out a priest and was baptised, then returned home. When the first priest arrived in Korea ten years later, he found 4,000 Christians awaiting him! In the Gospels the Holy Spirit is compared to the mysterious movements of the wind – the same Holy Spirit guides us now.

May 17th 2009
The bishops of England and Wales recently decided to put the feast of the Lord’s Ascension on a Sunday (next Sunday), but we are still reminded of the disciples, with the apostles especially, and Our Lady, in constant prayer for the nine days leading from the Ascension to Pentecost Sunday. This is the original novena or ‘nine days’ of prayer which has become an example for other intensive prayers for a particular intention. The earliest ancient pictures of Our Lady, as in the catacombs (burial grounds) in Rome, show her with her hands outstretched in prayer, simply known as ‘Mary, the one who prays’. The Gospels show us Mary as that model of prayer. We think of it in this month of May, perhaps saying the rosary. Jesus urges us to persevere in prayer, not because God is slow to answer – He is the Giver of all Gifts – but so that we might deepen our sense of what we are asking, what we want. In this season we might pray for all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially for vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life.

May 10th 2009
At the Easter Vigil the Deacon entered the dark church with the single light of the great Paschal Candle, and we all followed and received light from it. That Candle remains on the sanctuary to Pentecost inclusive. The one light of Christ, the light of faith, guides us all in the Church today and through the ages, but in constantly changing circumstances and also with many good companions.

April 26th 2009
Easter Candle
Returning Easter greetings late has reminded me that, in the Church, the whole of the Easter season to Pentecost inclusive, is counted as one Easter Day! The Easter Candle is lit at every Mass through the season – light, Jesus reminds us, is cast for others (we are not to hide our light under a covering, but to shine for all in the house). The early Christians resolved any problems of budget by sharing all they had, making sure none went short! Easter also reminds us we are social animals, made for friendship, and to care for the communities we live in. The beautiful Easter flowers remind us of the blessings of God’s creation.

April 19th 2009
The Easter season continues to Pentecost Sunday inclusive, during which time there is a reading every day at Mass from the Acts of the Apostles, the second part of St Luke’s Gospel, giving a stylised picture of the birth/growth of the Church, so that the important points are remembered for the future. In Chapter 2, for example, we are told the ‘whole community remained faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers’ – we might say – sharing the faith, in charity, in the Mass, and in prayer. Whether or not we are able to follow the Bishop’s DVD, it is a good time for us to take stock, asking: a) What do we do as a Christian community? b) What are we needing to develop for the future? c) How will we provide for the future? Please note the times of meetings around the parish where we can share our reflections, or, if you wish, share them in some other way, so that we can make our contribution to the bishop’s time of reflection for the diocese.

April 12th 2009
It is a custom in some countries of eastern Europe or the Mediterranean to greet each other on Easter Day with the words ‘Christ is Risen’, to which the reply is ‘He is truly risen’. It recalls the phrase ‘goodbye’, meaning ‘God be with you’. The daily greeting in Austria is also a similar phrase. It is a simple reminder of the permanent presence of Jesus, now walking with each of us, just as once with the disciples, in whatever joy, struggle or cross we bear. It also encourages us to be good ‘companions’, sharers in the one Bread of Life. So, your priests and deacons wish you all the blessings of Easter.

March 29th 2009
PURPLE and other coverings appear in church from this weekend, as part of the preparation for the solemn commemoration of the Lord’s Passover in Holy Week. There is generally a quieter tone to the Mass in Lent – the ‘Gloria’ is not sung or said, nor the joyous ‘Alleluia’, until Easter Night. The purple coverings are meant to cover the many colourful (and in the past richly decorated) statues and pictures, to be revealed in the glorious splendour of Easter – when flowers will also return. Among other symbols, purple is sometimes seen as a more reflective, meditative colour. We meditate and share in the love of God made flesh for us and in us, in the Church, in ordinary or daily ways, in the Sacraments, and in the lives of Christians.

Crucifix at St. Bernadette’s, Rothwell
March 15th 2009

Where does the devotion of the Stations of the Cross originate? The short answer is – in the Holy Land. Pilgrims visited all the places where Jesus walked from earliest times, especially those in and around Jerusalem, which marked His own Way of the Cross. “Station” simply means “stopping-place” – people stopped and prayed at the sites of various events of His passion. The rise and spread of Islam from about 600 AD made visits to the Holy Land impossible at first. Later followers of St Francis were allowed to take care of the tomb of Christ and the church at the site of the passion and the tomb in the garden. These Franciscans spread a devotion in Europe – a way of following the Way of the Cross, but in our own churches. So we have the familiar Stations of the Cross now as a devotion throughout the year, but especially in this time of Lent, which culminates in the most holy week of the year and Easter.
Visit St.Edward’s Parish Stations of the Cross

March 8th 2009
In the 1930s there was not a single Catholic in the small town of Thrapston, just down the A14 from us, towards Huntingdon. A young man living in Thrapston called Tom Sharp was puzzled and disturbed by the variety of contrary opinions he heard from the churches available to him on the subject so central to us, of the Sacrament of the Eucharist. He therefore cycled regularly to St Edward’s, Kettering, where in due course he was received into the Catholic Church and became the first Catholic in Thrapston. In 1940 he arranged for Mass to be said in Thrapston through the kind help of the Dominican Fathers, then resident in Laxton Hall – it was in the Scout Hall. In 1949 Tom Sharp gave land to the diocese for a hut-church to be built. Father Grant of Kettering had been offering Mass since 1946 and said Mass in this new church. In 1964 the present Thrapston church was built. Tom Sharp died in 1988. By then the parish had a second church (1968) in Raunds. We welcome again an old friend this weekend, Father Brian Leatherland, former assistant priest in Kettering, now parish priest of Thrapston Parish. We hope ties with all our local parishes, support and help, will continue to develop.

Christ carries his cross drawing

March 1st 2009

This Sunday, the first Sunday of Lent, some of our parishioners will be going to the Cathedral to share with our bishop in a special ceremony and Mass, which will prepare them for these weeks of Lent – weeks leading up to their reception into the Church at Easter. One of the great gifts of recent years is not only to hear and follow the Mass in our own language, but also to have the riches of the Church’s worship so often restored – especially in Lent. Lent began as a time of preparation for the great feast of Easter, a time when new members were baptised, fasting in preparation. Gradually the whole Church joined in that fast. So this season of Lent now appears again as a time of growth, renewing our faith, and renewing our baptism, and preparing to welcome new members, welcome one another afresh in the household of faith.

February 15th 2009
On the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, his theory of evolution is much in the news. Pope John Paul II found it a reasonable description of how the world evolved. The Pope in his later years wrote on faith and reason as both gifts from God. The ancient (and some modern) universities of Europe were all founded by the Church, including Oxford and Cambridge. There are natural scientists among the saints. The Bible, on the other hand, is not a science-manual. It is the story of God’s care for us through the ages: it also shows something of an evolution – of our understanding of God and His purposes. It also includes humour! This from the Columban Missionary Magazine: “An exasperated mother, whose son was always getting into mischief, finally asked him, ‘How do you expect to get into Heaven?’ The boy thought it over and replied: ‘Well, I’ll run in and out, in and out, and keep slamming the door, until St Peter says, ‘For heaven’s sake, Dylan, come in or stay out!’”

February 8th 2009
St. Bernadette’s Grotto at Rothwell Church
Wednesday 11th February is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Our church in Rothwell was dedicated to Saint Bernadette, as it was consecrated in 1958, the centenary of the apparitions of Our Lady at Lourdes. Many people travel on pilgrimage every year to various shrines of our faith, and of Our Lady in particular. Many have never been on such pilgrimages, but we all share the ‘pilgrim spirit’ of our faith. The eve of the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes has been chosen this year to celebrate a Mass with the sacrament of anointing of the sick, remembering the special place the sick have in Lourdes. We are encouraged to come to God with all our petitions. In this year marking the 2000th anniversary of St Paul’s birth, we may be helped by pondering the words of the apostle on our pilgrim-way. “I am far from thinking that I have already won (the race). All I can say is that I forget the past and I strain ahead for what is still to come. I am racing for the finish … let us go forward on the road that has brought us to where we are”. (Letter to the Philippians 3:13-16).

February 1st 2009
With the refurbishment of the floor in St Edward’s over the last fortnight, many have again experienced celebrating Mass in the church-hall. This hall is the original parish church of Kettering, built in 1893. The stained glass window of St Edward, which is illuminated by a rear light on the sanctuary of our present church, dates also from that early time and was discovered stored in the ceiling of St Edward’s during the recent re-wiring of the church. The hall-church was preceded by some months in 1893 by the presbytery, where Mass was also celebrated. Prior to that, Mass was celebrated in 1891 for the first time in the Temperance Hotel, Market Place. Mass has been celebrated in many secret places – lofts of houses, noble mansions – over the last few centuries. Many of the ancient churches of Rome were built over Christian houses where Mass was first celebrated. That tradition is continued with occasional house-Masses in parishes, by arrangement.

January 25th 2009
Jesus often prayed out in the countryside, where he could be alone. Now that we have had our church at St Edward’s even further beautified, we might remember that Jesus also told stories of people going up to the Temple to pray – and the different sorts of prayer they made – proud or humble! We not only have the central coming together at Mass, but other ways which seem to prolong the Mass. Wednesday mornings, after Mass, Thursday evenings for half-an-hour, there are quiet times when we have our prayer focused by placing the Blessed Sacrament on the Altar – and the support of others quietly praying. We adore Christ’s Body in the Eucharist, we pray to become more truly Christ’s Body, the Church, also in very down-to-earth ways. Sunday evening 5pm (when there is no evening Mass at that time) we have a part of the Church’s official daily prayer, psalms, hymns, prayers, together with Benediction. It is also a quiet service, concluding with Blessing with the Blessed Sacrament – everything comes back to our union around the one Table and Altar. The church is also open daily for personal quiet prayer.

January 18th 2009
Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi
Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi, a Nigerian priest, died in Leicester Royal Infirmary on 20th January 1964. He was born in a non-Christian village in September 1903 and named ‘Iwene’, which can be translated ‘Sorrow will not kill you’. He certainly had difficulties enough to face. His father died when he was quite young. He was baptised when aged nine, but his mother also died when he was 19. He became an outstanding parish priest in Nigeria, after a time as a headmaster of a small school. (The present Cardinal Arinze was baptised by Blessed Cyprian). As his bishop wanted to start a monastic life in Nigeria, he asked his priests if some might go to England to live the life of the very strict Cistercian Order and then establish a similar monastery in Nigeria. Blessed Cyprian and another priest offered themselves and in 1950 came to Mount St Bernard’s Abbey near Coalville, Leicestershire. He became an exemplary and holy monk and was told he would be the first ‘master of novices’ in the new monastery which was planned, but he was already very ill. His fellow monks did set up the first Cistercian monastery in the Cameroon in the summer of 1964, and proclaimed that Cyprian had fulfilled his vow, to live and die in the monastery. He was beatified on 22nd March 1998 by Pope John Paul II in Onitisha Cathedral, where his mortal remains now lie. In the Abbey in England there is a special altar dedicated to his memory where candles burn constantly. Each year since 2000, a group of parishioners has had Mass at that altar on the anniversary of his death, 20th January. For more information try www.afrikaworld.net/tansi

January 11th 2009
SPECIAL SERVICES in our parish over the next six months are arranged in recognition of St Paul, the apostle. Pope Benedict brought St Paul to mind by recalling the apostle’s birth about 2000 years ago, reckoned as around 8 or 9 AD. By concentrating on certain messages of St Paul, we can hope to see our faith in a fresh light. Six themes have been highlighted, concluding on the feast of SS Peter & Paul on 28th June (when their feast is kept this year). The first is UNITY AND DIVERSITY, marked on Sunday 18th January, the beginning of the annual week of prayer for Christian Unity. See Year of St. Paul for our other services.

January 4th 2009
At the age of 12, I received the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick as I had severe pneumonia. On this Epiphany Sunday, associated with the Mission of the Church, we might remember a special mission to the sick, and the special sacrament for them. In hospital we are obliged to ask ourselves (or families) for the priest to visit. Some enter hospital very ill and unable to ask for themselves, so please approach the priests on their behalf. It is a sacrament which can be received many times, to help us in this life, or prepare us for our final journey, a sacrament of healing and consolation.

December 21st 2008
From the Advent Daily Prayer of the Church. “You who first loved us did this, precisely this. You first loved us so that we might love you. And that was not because you needed to be loved by us, but because we could not be what you created us to be, except by loving you. You spared not your own Son, but delivered him up for us all. Yes and he himself loved us and gave himself for us. This, Lord, is your word to us. We could not with justice have been saved, had we not loved you, nor could we have loved you save by your gift. You willed, therefore, that we should love you, for you first loved us, and you love all your lovers first. Now we on our part hold you dear by the affection of love which you have implanted in us, your Holy Spirit, who unites God to us and us to God”. (St Peter Chrysologus, died 450 AD. Bishop of Ravenna, Italy).

December 14th 2008
Services of Healing and Anointing of the Sick have become regular and popular occasions. We think of Jesus healing so many who turned to Him with faith – and forgiving their sins. He brings that double healing of God. That Mission of Christ continues in the Church, in many different ways through the ages. Our present services of Penance and Reconciliation, with an opportunity for individual confession, continue that tradition. If God listens to each individual voice, how much must that be true when we turn to Him together with one voice, in harmony, to receive His healing and forgiveness.