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The venerable Bede 25th May

My seminary in Rome, the Beda College, is named after St Bede. But who was he?

St Bede was born in about 673 near Newcastle, and was sent to be educated at the monastery of Monkwearmouth near present day Sunderland. Later he was transferred to its sister community in close-by Jarrow. There in about 701 he wrote his first works, intended for use in the classroom. He continued to write for the rest of his life, eventually completing over 60 books, most of which have survived. He enjoyed music, and was said to be accomplished as a singer and as a reciter of poetry. In about 702 he was ordained priest, and his life was spent in a round of prayer, observance of the monastic life, and study of the Scriptures. He only travelled as far as York and the monastery of Lindisfarne, but nothing certain is known of any other journeys.

Bede wrote scientific, historical and theological works, reflecting the range of his interests. He is mainly studied as a historian now, and his best-known work is An Ecclesiastical History of the English People. This begins with Caesar’s invasion in 55BC and brings the story up to Bede’s day, and it is our main source of knowledge of that period. He includes an account of the conflict over the dating of Easter, and it was he who made the AD system of dating popular. Modern historians have been lavish in their praise, one describing him as “the first and greatest of England’s historians”, another says that he “holds a privileged and unrivalled place among first historians of Christian Europe”.

Bede died on Ascension Thursday, 26 May 735 and was buried at Jarrow, but in about 1020 his remains were transferred to magnificent Durham Cathedral, where his tomb is in the Galilee chapel. Devotion to him spread across Europe especially during the tenth century, by which time he was often called “the Venerable Bede”. His scholarship and importance were recognized in 1899 when he was declared a Doctor of the Church, the only native born English one. He is also the only Englishman in Dante’s “Paradise”.

Fr Matthew

From Evangelization to Proclaim

For the last few years a small group has worked with me in promoting Evangelization in its broadest sense in our 3 Churches. This grew out of a previous period of talks and evenings looking at the Church’s thinking on this during the last decades. The team called itself the Evangelization Group but for many people this is a cumbersome word, so following other similar groups across Britain it has renamed itself “Proclaim”.

Just to remind us, these are some of the areas that the group has initiated, promoted or assisted:

  • Keeping our churches open
  • Syrian Refugee Appeal during Lent
  • Christmas and Easter outreaches: open evening in January, Easter cards, Easter film “Risen” (idea pinched by the diocese!)
  • Strengthening the Confirmation programme
  • Liaising with appropriate diocesan bodies – and contributing members to them
  • Initiating and supporting 3CY youth group
  • Foodbank bases and deliverers in all 3 Churches
  • Prayer cards delivered through doors weekly by volunteers (many thanks!) and invitation to pray for the residents on back page of newsletter
  • Landings – supporting returning Catholics
  • Love, Marriage, family – new heading watch this space
  • “Do You Love Me?” – spirituality – ditto

I want to thank the half dozen or so on the team, and appeal for new member(s), especially from Christ the King, to keep a healthy balance as our work expands. We meet about every 8 weeks for about 90 mins. We do not do all the above tasks or projects – we initiate, encourage, support etc as appropriate. So the main qualification is a heart for spreading our faith as commanded by Jesus “Go out into the whole world” “As the Father sent me so am I sending you”. It could be you!

Fr Matthew

Fatima 1917-2017

In 1916, nine-year-old Lucia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto were herding sheep at the Cova da Iria near their village of Fátima, Portugal. They were visited three times by an angel who identified himself as “The Angel of Peace”. He taught them to pray and make sacrifices. Then on 13 May 1917, the children saw a woman “brighter than the sun”, with a white mantle edged with gold and a rosary. She asked them to devote themselves to God and to pray the Rosary every day, to “bring peace to the world and an end to the war”. Jacinta told her family, and soon the whole village knew of the vision.

On 13 June, the lady revealed that Francisco and Jacinta would be taken to Heaven soon, but Lucia would live longer in order to spread her message and devotion to the Immaculate Heart. Among other things, they were to say the Rosary daily to obtain peace and the end of the Great War. In the following months, thousands flocked to Fatima. On 13 August 1917, the children were interrogated, and they saw the Virgin Mary on 19 August at nearby Valinhos. She asked them again to pray the rosary daily, spoke about the miracle coming in October, and asked them “to pray a lot for the sinners, and sacrifice a lot.” At the last apparition on 13 October 1917 in the presence of somewhere between 30,000 and 100,000, many witnessed a Miracle of the Sun, when it rotated or changed colour.

The three children claimed to have seen the Blessed Virgin Mary six times between 13 May and 13 October. Francisco and Jacinta died in 1919 and 1920, but Lucia lived until 2005. The reported visions at Fátima gathered widespread attention, as numerous pilgrims began to visit the site. The local Bishop declared the visions of Fátima as “worthy of belief” in 1930.

Such private revelations do not form part of the deposit of our faith and we are not bound to believe in any of them, however, many popes have voiced their acceptance of the supernatural origin of the Fátima events. In March 2017 it was announced that Pope Francis will canonise two of the visionaries,

Jacinta and Francisco, on 13 May at a Mass in Fatima during a two day visit.

Fr Matthew