More fully human

In today’s second reading St Paul celebrates the fact that God’s grace, which flows to us through our Lord Jesus Christ, is greater and more powerful than every expression of human sin and experience of death. And we celebrate that divine grace that is communicated to us through the sacraments. Ministering as a hospital chaplain for the past six years, I’ve come to increasingly appreciate the efficacy of the sacraments as we face difficulties of life and our broken human condition – whether we are a baby with only hours to live, a young person struggling with schizophrenia or an elderly person in the autumn of life.
I remember sharing the Blessed Sacrament with a man crippled by dementia who had grown up in a devout family and had been a choir boy in his youth. As he drew to the end of his life, the dementia meant that he struggled to comprehend where he was, who others were, and he couldn’t recall his memories of the life that he’d lived.
On one of my last visits to him before he died, the light of Christ seemed to penetrate the fog of his dementia. On receiving the Blessed Sacrament tears rolled down his drawn cheeks and he spontaneously began singing the ancient Eucharistic hymn ‘Let all mortal flesh keep silence.’ I sat in wonder as he worshiped God, then he turned to me and said ‘Thank you for making me feel human again.’
It wasn’t me who had made him feel human again – it was his encounter with our Lord, the Great Physician and the divine grace received through the holy sacrament. However, his words expressed the truth that our humanity is indeed only fully restored through receiving God’s grace and in responding to Him in worship. Just as the sacraments are central to the Church’s ministry to the sick, so they need to be central to our lives as we allow God to recreate us in the likeness of His Son.
It has been nearly two years since I left my ministry in the Anglican Communion and was received into the Catholic Church. Why did I leave the Protestant tradition? It was to draw closer to our Lord through the sacraments, teaching and fellowship entrusted to the Catholic Church. As we receive God’s grace this week through the sacraments of the Church, may our response be one of worship and in obedience to his will may he become more fully human.

Peter Davies, Chaplain at UHW

The sacred heart – open to all

We are in the month of the Sacred Heart, and statues usually show Jesus with his arms open wide. This tells us of Our Lord’s love and care for all. Sadly our love and care does not always reflect this. Ten years ago, in chatting to some individuals, I became aware of one of the gaps in our caret, and here, ten years later, it’s a cause of great gladness to me that the group that came out of this is flourishing, and indeed is one of our biggest groups active among us – the Circle of Friends. Here, on the tenth anniversary of their beginnings, they tell us more about themselves, how they share the love of the Sacred Heart.

“The Circle of Friends was set up in the community of our 3 Churches in May 2007. Its purpose is to provide help and support to divorced, separated, widowed and single Catholics, and their friends. This it tries to do by:

  • promoting the spiritual well-being of those Catholics who are divorced separated, widowed or single
  • reaching out to those who are alone and providing support for one another in various and appropriate ways
  • encouraging the social involvement of members in a variety of activities and providing the opportunity to meet people in similar circumstances
  •  facilitating appropriate support outside the group for members
  • supporting various

The group meets once a month, and has an informal committee which includes a chairperson, treasurer, secretary and members. Members pay a small annual subscription to cover expenses so that the group is self-financing.
A full calendar of social events is organized by members: these include a Book Club, Walking Group, Cinema Group and Pub Quiz Team. The group is under the pastoral guidance of Father Matthew, and pastoral events have also been held and advertised in this newsletter. If you would like to learn more about the Circle of Friends then please contact Sue Peat (2076 2358) We look forward to hearing from you.”

The heart of the Trinity – an open door

Fr Matthew writes: This Trinity Sunday we celebrate the very nature of God. Among many other things, this feat reminds us that God is community as well as unity, dynamic not static. In a word, God is Love, and that love spills out over us and impels us. So Jesus commands us to love, not just because this is the heart of Christian life, but because when we love we are being and acting like God. In the next few weeks we remind ourselves about some of the activities in our 3 Churches that try to live this love in practical ways. This week – Edna Wharry tells us about “The Open Door”.

Following a meeting about our Parish Vision of reaching out to our local community, the idea of an “Open Door” social club was formed by members of our 3 Churches.

Led by Anne Rees, the group decided to invite senior citizens to a social afternoon event in Christ the King Hall. Although the organizers are faith led, the actual social is strictly non-denominational. Fliers were distributed to sheltered accommodation, local care homes and some residents in the neighbourhood.

The club has been successful and very enjoyable. Invited speakers talk about subjects such as libraries and Llanishen history. We hold activities such as passive exercises and listening to or singing with a visiting choir to which David Mclees belongs. We also enjoy occasional games of Bingo, and hold table-top “Bring and Buy” events. We are very lucky to have our own resident pianist, Sian O’Donnell, who plays lovely background music and also accompanies the odd sing song session! Peter Charles and Norbert Flynn also entertain us with amusing monologues from time to time.

Julie Mclees arranges lifts for those without transport, and I organize snacks and party food for our meetings. The afternoons are always happy, chatty times. We welcome new members – and new helpers – and are looking actively for new ideas to expand this Parish Vision initiative.

Edna Wharry St Brigid’s & St Paul’s Parish Council member