Pope Francis on Lent

In his message for Lent, Pope Francis chose the theme “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God” (Rom 8:19)

He invites believers to prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery with mind and heart renewed, warning that “Sin leads man to consider himself the god of creation, to see himself as its absolute master and to use it, not for the purpose willed by the Creator but for his own interests… Let us leave behind our selfishness and self-absorption, and turn to Jesus’ Pasch. Let us stand beside our brothers and sisters in need, sharing our spiritual and material goods with them”. The Pope highlights how the season before Easter must be a time to “welcome Christ’s victory over sin and death into our lives”, and attract “its transforming power to all of creation”

Appealing to the faithful to not allow this season of grace to pass in vain, Francis says that if, “the Lent of the Son of God ’was an entry into the desert of creation’ to make it become again that garden of communion with God” that it was before the original sin, Christians today are invited “to embody the paschal mystery more deeply and concretely in their personal, family and social lives, above all by fasting, prayer and almsgiving.”

Fasting means turning away from the temptation to “devour” everything to satisfy our voracity;
Prayer teaches us to abandon idolatry and the self-sufficiency of our ego;
Almsgiving, whereby we escape from the insanity of hoarding everything for ourselves in the illusory belief that we can secure a future that does not belong to us.

If we follow this journey, it “is possible to rediscover the joy of God’s plan for creation and for each of us, which is to love him, our brothers and sisters, and the entire world, and to find in this love our true happiness”. The path to Easter, therefore, demands that “we renew our faces and hearts as Christians through repentance, conversion and forgiveness” the Pope said pointing out that it is a call that involves the whole of creation.

This “eager longing”, this expectation of all creation, Pope Francis says, will be fulfilled in the revelation of the children of God, that is, when Christians and all people enter decisively into the “travail” that conversion entails.

From Linda Bordoni, Vatican News www.vaticannews.va

Journeying on into Lent

During Advent and into January over 30 people from our 3 Churches met together in groups of 5 or 6 to reflect on the significance of the season, using the book ‘Journeying towards Jesus’ by Denis McBride.

In the 5 sessions (each one lasting 1 – 1/2 hours) the groups explored the various Advent themes from the Second Coming of Jesus to the feast of Christmas, challenging us “to move from being onlookers to active followers of Jesus”.

People agreed that they found the experience very relaxed, encouraging and inspiring; they said that they learnt a lot, enjoyed sharing their thoughts and making new friends, as they got to know members of their group.

Following this success, we are offering everyone the opportunity to be part of a group during Lent and Easter using another seasonal book by Denis McBride – ’Journeying with Jesus’, reflecting on “the movement of the Jesus story”.

The aim, Denis McBride says, “is to promote a conversation between Jesus’ journey and your own, so that you might share some of that insight in your group”. We start with ’In the Wilderness’ and move through passages in the life and death of Jesus to ’On the Road Again’ – the Emmaus story.

Denis McBride approaches reflections with a light touch while giving us thought-provoking questions to consider.

There will be a gathering on Shrove Tuesday (5 March) 7.30pm at St Brigid’s to mark and celebrate the successful Advent and Christmas “journey” and to explain more about this Lent and Easter one. Warmly invited are all those who took part in Advent and / or the previous “Do You Love Me?” series, all who would like to be involved this time, and of course, those who just want to find out more!

Marie York

Newman to be canonised

This is from the official website of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales:

On Tuesday 12 February 2019 Pope Francis cleared the way for the canonization of the much-loved educationalist Cardinal John Henry Newman. The Pope received Cardinal Angelo Becciu, the Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and authorised him to promulgate two decrees on miracles from sainthood, a decree on martyrdom and five on heroic virtues. Cardinal Vincent Nichols, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has warmly welcomed the news that Cardinal Newman will be declared a saint.

Following the announcement, Cardinal Nichols said: “This is wonderful news which will be greeted with thanks to God by people across the world. Newman’s exploration of faith, depth of personal courage, intellectual clarity and cultural sensitivity make him a deeply admired follower of Christ. He brings together so many of the best of Catholic traditions shared well beyond the Catholic Church. His canonization will be welcomed especially in the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion.

“For me the truly remarkable nature of this moment is that this is an English parish priest being declared a saint. During his life the people of Birmingham recognized his holiness and lined the streets at the time of his burial. I hope every parish priest in England will hold his head high today knowing Cardinal Newman is declared a saint.”

Cardinal John Henry Newman was beatified –declared a ‘Blessed’ – by Pope Emeritus Benedict VI on his historic state visit to the UK in September 2010.

To learn more about Blessed John Henry Newman, visit the website of Pope Benedict’s visit to the UK when Newman was beatified – thepapalvisit.org.uk/home/cardinal-newman

Fr Matthew