Seventeenth Sunday of the Year 2018

Dear Friends in Christ, 

Jesus gave various signs because they had the power to lead people to faith in him. The first sign he gave was the provision of abundant wine at the marriage of Cana. It ‘manifested his glory.’ loaves.pngThe feeding of the five thousand was also a sign to people, intended to lead them to faith in Jesus. They should have understood that if Jesus had the power to give them bread from heaven (spiritual): ‘do not labour for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you.’ Rather than putting their faith in him, the people, instead, wanted to ‘take him by force to make him king’, compelling Jesus to escape into the hills. Signs must be read correctly if they are to bring us to saving faith in Jesus.

feeds.pngPeter and the Twelve correctly read the signs that Jesus gave and refused to leave him: ‘Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.’ The Lord always works ‘signs’ in our lives. They should bring us to greater faith in him: ‘he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name’. What are these ‘signs’? Every day he cares for us, stays at our side, provides for our needs, and keeps us safe under his protection. Through his Word and through his Church, he teaches us and directs our lives. In the Eucharist he nourishes us with his life-giving Word, and feeds us with his own body and blood. These ‘signs’ should lead us into abundant life: ‘I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Do you see the ‘signs’ in your own life? Ask the Lord to show you the countless ways that he cares for you and give you his life in abundance – his gifts of peace, joy and love. Thank him for the ‘signs’ of his love. Declare your faith in him.

Sixteenth Sunday of the Year 2018

Dear Friends in Christ, 

Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest for a while’

Grant me most dear and loving Jesus, to rest in you above created things; above health and beauty; above all glory and honour; above all power and dignity; boatabove all knowledge and skill; above all praise and fame; above all sweetness and consolation; above all hope and promise; above all merit and desire; above all gifts and favours that you can bestow and shower upon us; above all joy and jubilation that the mind can conceive and know; above angels and archangels and all the hosts of heaven; above all things visible and invisible; and above everything that is not yourself, O my God.’

O Lord my God, you transcend all things; you alone care most high, most mighty, most sufficient and complete, most sweet and comforting. You alone are most full of beauty and glory, in whom all good things in their perfection exist, both now and ever have been, ever will be. All, therefore, is too small and unsatisfying that you can give me beside yourself or that you can reveal and promise me of yourself unless I can see and fully possess you. For my heart cannot rest nor be wholly content until it rests in you, rising above all your gifts and creatures.’

restO Lord Jesus Christ, spouse of the soul, lover of purity and Lord of creation, who will give me wings of perfect liberty, that I may fly to you and be at rest? When shall I be set free, and taste your sweetness, O Lord my God? When shall I become recollected in you, that for love of you I may no longer be conscious of myself? But of you alone in a manner not known to all men, and above all perception and measure…?

‘Come to me, Lord, come, for without you no day or hour is happy; without you my table is without its guest, for you alone are my joy. Sadness is my lot, and I am like a man imprisoned and loaded with chains, until you refresh me with the light of your presence, and show me your face as my friend. Let others seek whom they will besides you, but nothing ever can or will give me joy but yourself alone, my God, my hope and my eternal salvation.’ (Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ)

Brentwood Cathedral Youth Choir Concert at St Edmund’s

On 14th July at 7:15pm, Mr Art Wangcharoensab, who is in charge of music at St.
John Fisher Primary School, and who also assists at
Brentwood Cathedral with tutoring, gave a concert with his newly formed youth choir from the Cathedral. This was their first performance in a parish. They hope to travel around the diocese in the future giving concerts.

There are twelve teenage voices and they sing a mixture of contemporary pieces and also classical.

The music they played for us here at St Edmund’s was delightful as I am sure you will be able to hear for yourselves (below).

Below is the recording in it’s entirety for you to listen to at your leisure but please be aware that it will take some time to download to your device.

ST. EDMUND’S PARISH FINANCES

The reality of late is that our monthly income is not meeting our monthly outgoing. There has been a considerable drop in the weekly offertory! I have been consciously aware of this for a long time now, and I try not to burden you with this.

When the St. Thomas More Church was still open we had an additional income from the Presbytery, and also a Playgroup that was quite successful for a number of years. Manifestly, with the closing of the St. Thomas More site and everything moving to St. Edmund’s, there has been a loss of revenue, somewhere in the region of £25,000 per year. Coupled with diminishing offertories, this is most certainly taking its toll on our parish Finances. I am very consciously aware of every parishioner’s financial situation; there are so many demands on all of us today, mortgage, home maintenance, cars, family expenses, and the list can go on and on!

The survival of any parish is holily dependent on the generosity of the faithful People of God. You are those people! Your weekly contribution sustains the life of the parish. Your offering reflects your thanksgiving to the Lord no matter how great or small it may be. There are always some who may be in the position of giving more. As Cardinal Hume used to say, an hour’s salary was not an unreasonable offering. If we think of some of the luxuries we purchase, a bottle of wine, a packet of cigarettes, a meal out, Weekly Gym membership, and season tickets to sports venues. Perhaps a good benchmark would be that suggested by our Parish Accountant, that if everyone gave the price of a cup of coffee that you would purchase on the High Street, this would certainly enhance the Weekly Offering. Of course the ‘widow’s mite’ is always welcomed.

You are all aware of the ongoing costs of maintaining your own homes; and the bills keep coming in! This year we had a severe winter. As you know I’ve always tried to keep all our buildings warm, for example, some months the Gas Bill was between eight and nine hundred pounds a month. Utilities are extremely expensive. Capitation to the Diocese of Brentwood is £2,200 per month. Monthly salaries are approximately £1,300. Fr. John’s Salary is £675.00 per quarter. These are just some of the regular bills.

I appeal to your incredible generosity, and your sense of belonging to this parish. Your Gift Aiding is so important, and the use of weekly GA

Fifteenth Sunday of the Year 2018

Dear Friends in Christ, 

With our twenty-first century mind-set, Jesus’ instructions to his disciples when he was sending them out to spread the gospel, can seem somewhat quaint: not to take anything for the journey except a staff – no bread, no bad, no extra tunic; to stay in a welcoming house, but if none could be found. tellTo shake the dust of that town or village off their feet! Charming! A modern-day disciple wouldn’t get very far without a bank account, possibly a credit card, a car a hotel reservation, a mobile phone and email address. How times have changed!

We get that disciples have always preached repentance and anointed the sick with oil, but the command to drive out demons is a tricky one, as we largely think of demon possession or deliverance as an ancient or at least medieval concept. Current thinking tends to regard the symptoms of demon possession as some kind of psychiatric disorder or mental illness, and looks to psychiatrists and trained professionals for the answer.

Although the idea of duality – good versus evil, the power of God versus the power of the devil – is rather foreign to us these days, it is integral to the teaching of Scripture and the Church. Indeed, around the world on Holy Saturday or Easter Sunday we renewed our Baptismal promises and renounced Satan, the Prince of darkness. Do our words have any real meaning or are they simply a ritual or formula we repeat as part of the liturgy? Are we in truth rejecting Satan or the devil? These are questions that deserve due consideration.

Thankfully, we don’t simply rely on our own light and reason on this matter: we have the teaching of the Church, which in our own day is powerfully expounded in The Catechism of the Catholic Church published in 1994; and by Pope Francis himself, and of course many others. The Church has always taught that evil is real and that the devil exists. Although a powerful adversary, he cannot prevent the building up of God’s reign, and we overcome him through the cross and the name and blood of Jesus. Furthermore, like the apostles, priests, by virtue of their ordination, have received the ministry of deliverance and exorcism.

Fourteenth Sunday of the Year 2018

Dear Friends in Christ, 

It isn’t really possible to be a believer of Jesus and not believe in miracles – the Gospels are full of them. The four Evangelists were authentic witnesses: they didn’t make things up; they testified to what they saw and heard with their own eyes.

In any event, we struggle with miracles – and many people do – we should know that the Church doesn’t: it believes in miracles. We know, of course, that in order for someone to be declared Blessed (Beatus) a miracle needs to occur as a result of their intercession and for someone to be canonised, made a saint, two miraculous interventions need to occur as a result of their intercession. miracle1Mother Teresa and Pope John XXIII were declared saints and John Henry Newman was declared Blessed because the Church was able to verify miracles had occurred through their intercession. Lourdes especially is a place or miracles, and these wonderful miracles have occurred through the intercession of Our Blessed Lady. And, to top them all, every time we celebrate the Eucharist, through the miracle of grace, the priest is able (by a miracle of grace) to change the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ.

Not only do we believe in miracles but we are People of Miracles. True, we don’t hear reports of signs, wonders and miracles emerging from our parishes after Sunday Mass, but maybe that’s because we aren’t expectant of them. Maybe when a loved one is seriously sick or ill, our first thought isn’t to make available to them the anointing of the sick, the healing and therefore the miraculous sacrament of the Church

If you don’t believe in miracles, change the way you think. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you that miracles are the way of the Church. Blessed John Henry Newman said: ‘The incarnation is the most stupendous event which ever can take place on earth; and after it and henceforth, I do not see how we can scruple at any miracle on the mere grounds that it is unlikely to happen.’ Perhaps today we might make a simple proclamation for faith by saying, ‘I believe in miracles.’

Thirteenth Sunday of the Year 2018

Dear Friends in Christ, 

Sickness, tragedy and death are unwelcome, sobering realities. They make us feel vulnerable, needy and often desperate. HEALThey can also overwhelm, crush and even break us. This was the experience of Jairus, the ruler of the Capernaum synagogue. Indeed, so desperate was he that he fell as if in prayer at Jesus’ feet. As John Bunyan once said: ‘The best prayers have often more groans that words.’

The same homage was given by the woman who was suffering from a bleeding disorder – some mind of haemophilia, we can presume. She was satisfied with merely touching the hem of Jesus’ garment: ‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.’ Her faith is remarkable. Sickness bring us into the harsh reality of human existence: we understand our limitations, we come into contact with our own frailty and we sense our own mortality. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, ‘Every illness can make us glimpse death.

Sickness also creates its own special temptations. On the one hand, we can be inclined to give into anguish, self-loathing, despair and even rebellion against God. On the other, suffering can make us more mature and patient both with ourselves and others It can also refine and focus our search for God and be the cause of a deeper turning back to God and the gospel. In Salvifici doloris Pope St. John Paul II said that ‘each person in a special fashion becomes the way for the Church when suffering enters their lives.’ (para 3).

God has a preferential love for the sick. They are, if you like, his VIP’s. Jesus identified himself with the sick when he said, ‘I was sick and you visited me’ (Matt. 25:36). Through his passion and death he made their suffering his own. In the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, Jesus continues to touch us in order to heal us. This anointing is not just for those on their death-bed but for everyone whose health is seriously impaired by sickness and old age. Don’t be shy or reluctant in seeking this blessing: throw yourselves on your knees, touch the hem of Jesus’ garment and receive the sacrament of healing.