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Second Sunday of Advent, 2018

Dear Friends in Christ, 

Year C, Luke

2nd Sunday of Advent 2018

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Luke sets the historical scene at the start of John the Baptist’s ministry. Pontius Pilate, Herod and his sons, and the high priests Annas and Caiaphas all failed to respond to God’s word and its messengers. None of them welcomed Jesus; some were implicated in his death. Yet it was precisely into this unwelcoming world that God sent John the Baptist to inaugurate an age of mercy and salvation. God saves his people, despite their perversity and hardness of heart. God has the last word, not man. John’s mission was to prepare the way of the Lord by ‘preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins’. John was a bridge who brought people to Jesus and his kingdom. He demanded from them both repentance and a renewal of their lives. He prepared their hearts to receive Jesus and his gospel.

The main emphasis of John’s preaching – repentance, change and renewal – still remain the way to Jesus and his kingdom. His message invites us, as individuals, to take on the same spirit of repentance, change and renewal: ‘Man is the first agent of all social and historical change, but to be able to carry out this role he himself must be renewed in Christ, in the Holy Spirit. This is a direction thw6 holds great promise for the future of the Church. (St. Pope John Paul II).

The message of repentance and renewal always speaks powerfully to the human heart, for it offers the possibility of forgiveness and a release from the burden, as well as the promise of healing, change and a new start. Into our world of sin, failure and broken promises, the Lord’s word still comes with conviction and power, as it did in the time of John the Baptist, to set us free and save us.

1.pngThe Gospel of mercy invites us into a new time of grace. During Advent God’s word challenges us to repent and be renewed: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight…The crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth’. As we respond with sincerity, we shall ‘put on the robe of righteousness from God’.

TIMES OF SERVICES & MASSES OVER CHRISTMAS 2018

Monday 17th Dec 12.15pm St. Edmund’s

Tuesday 18th Dec 9.00am St. Edmund’s

Penitential Service 8.00pm With visiting priests

Wednesday 19th Dec 12.15pm St. Edmund’s

Thursday 20th Dec 9.00am St. Edmund’s. followed by  9.30am Church cleaning for Christmas. Coffee & M Pies

Friday 21st Dec 12.15pm St. Edmund’s

HOLY HOUR 11.00am St. Edmund’s

Saturday 22nd Dec 10.00am St. Edmund’s Confessions 11.00am

FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT

Saturday 22nd Dec 6.00pm St. Edmund’s Confessions 5.30pm

Sunday 23rd Dec 9.00am St. Edmund’s

Sunday 23rd Dec 11.00am St. Edmund’s (Sung Mass)

CHRISTMAS EVE

MONDAY 24thDec 5.00pm St. Edmund’s, Children’s  Christmas Vigil Mass

Carols at 7.00pm 7.30pm St. Edmund’s  (Vigil Mass of Christmas)

Carols at 10.30pm 11.00pm Midnight Mass (St. Edmund’s)  Finishing at Christmas Midnight!

CHRISTMAS DAY

TUESDAY 25th Dec 9.00am St. Edmund’s

11.00am St. Edmund’s. (Family Mass)

FEAST OF ST. STEPHEN

Wednesday 26th Dec 11.00am Family Mass. Enrolment into the  Altar Servers Mass Guild of St. Stephen

NEW YEAR’S DAY MASS

Tuesday 1st January 2019 11.00am Mass All welcome!

Dear Friends in Christ,

I wish you and all your loved one’s Season’s Greetings. This Advent we are preparing for the Birth of Our Saviour Jesus Christ into our lives once again this Christmas. This beautiful time of the year always evokes memories of the past. I want to invite everyone to share in the festivities of God’s presence among us! Please take time over the Christmas holidays to come to one of the Christmas Eve / Christmas Day Masses. Everyone is welcome; bring your extended family! May I take this opportunity of wishing you and all your loved ones, both near and far, a very Happy & Holy Christmas, and a healthy and prosperous New Year for 2019.

With the Love & Peace of Our Saviour Jesus Christ

Fr John Sig

Rev Canon John J Harvey

Solemnity of Christ the King 2018

Dear Friends in Christ, 

CHRIST THE KING 2018

Discussion about whether or not a country should have a monarch can be very divisive. There are many and varied views on this subject, with some being very pro the monarchy and others being very anti, even when a king or queen has limited powers under the constitution. The Christian, however, has a King. jesusislordJesus is King and today we celebrate the feast-day of Christ the King.

When we think of the kings and queens of old, we tend to have a picture of those who lorded it over others, insisted on their word being absolute and held power of life or death over their subjects. History is, of course, littered with monarchs who abused their power and privilege, such as King Herod (the slaughtering of the innocents) and King Henry VIII (his many wives) to name but two. Our King Jesus, however, turns the ideas of kingship on its head because he is the Servant King. In this connection St Cyril of Alexandria said: ‘Christ has dominion no seized by violence or usurped, but by his essence and by his nature.’

angels.pngGod’s plan form the very beginning was that the Son would reign over us as our Lord and our King. Tradition informs us that Lucifer and his realm were the first to reject God’s plan and refused to bow down before Jesus. We, seduced and led astray by this very same Lucifer (more commonly called Satan or the devil), also rejected and rebelled against our good Creator. God’s plan was thwarted, but, since nothing can prevent God’s will unfolding, the very One who was to be King came instead as our Saviour. Scripture testifies that a time will come when all will bow before Christ the King and declare, ‘Long live Christ the King!’

Today we dedicate our lives to Christ our Lord and our King, who taught us that in serving the poor, the weak, the hungry and the marginalised of this world we are serving them.

Thirty-Third Sunday of the Year 2018

Dear Friends in Christ, 

33rd Sunday of the Year 2018 (2)

CHCHThe imagery of darkness, falling celestial bodies and the heavens shaking is disturbing to the modern mind – as it doubtless was in Jesus’ time, even if the language was more familiar then. Such events, we are told, will precede the glorious appearance of the Son of Man, who will come with his angelic cohort to the earth. When this will happen no one knows (except the Father) – but happen it will! There is a tendency to relegate this vital truth of our faith to the back of our minds. We may think of such language and sentiments as archaic, and find it hard to see it as an essential teaching of our faith. Our scientific world-view makes us uncomfortable with the talk of the end of the world or the consummation of human history.

Today’s reading carries both warning and encouragement: we are to be aware of the times in which we live and prepare for the return of the Lord. The Catechism of the Catholic Church embraces this essential teaching: ‘Since the Ascension Christ’s coming in glory has been imminent, even though “it is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority”. This eschatological coming could be accomplished at any moment, even if both it and the final trial that will precede it are “delayed”’ (para.673).

ljWe need to be wary of those who purport fantastic theories and predictions about the end of the world and return to Christ. However, we need to balance our caution with a desire to renew our faith in the blessed hope of the Church, the return of Jesus. The renewal of this hope sharpens our desire to live by the power of the Holy Spirit. As we pray in our hearts, ‘Come Lord Jesus’, a desire for the Second Coming is awoken within us. This living hope can strengthen and fortify us as we seek to live the power of the Spirit.

Lord Jesus, I repent for the many ways I have been dull and asleep to the truth of your second coming. Renew within me today a longing for your return. Restore within me a living hope and anticipation of the new heaven and new earth.

Thirtieth Sunday of the Year 2018

Entire 30th Sunday of the Year 2018 newsletter as PDF

Dear Friends in Christ, 

Desperate people do desperate things. Pride, self-consciousness and ego are less important when we are in need! Necessity is not only the mother of invention but the midwife of the human heart crying out to God for help. blindBartimaeus is in such need. Unperturbed and undaunted by those who try to silence him, he shouts even louder. He is full of determination. Despite his blindness, he recognises clearly who Jesus is: ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ His boldness, courage and persistence are rewarded and he is called forward.

The encounter between blind Bartimaeus and the Light of the World is beautiful and simple: Bartimaeus wants his sight; Jesus sees his faith and heals him. Immediately he receives his sight and becomes a disciple. Bartimaeus is a model of faith. We can relate to this example when we too experience and acute or desperate need for help and grace. In this condition we too can be life this blind man – humble, eager to go to Jesus, tenacious and determined.

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When the pressure is not so acute we can be less focused and clear about our needs for

God’s grace and help. Why is this so often the case? What can we do to become more stable and mature in our faith? The answer to these questions lies in the example of Bartimaeus. He was humble, admitting he needed help and healing. In our independent, self-assertive society it can be hard to confess our need. Bartimaeus, however, was indifferent to how he appeared to others – he was determined to come into the presence of Jesus.

We need to ask the Holy Spirit to give us the grace to admit humbly and even proclaim our dependence and need of Jesus. To make this humble admission is a sign of grace and strength, and we should welcome the impulse that moves us to pray, ‘Lord Jesus, have mercy on me and help me.’ It was this disposition and attitude which allowed Jesus to work so powerfully in Bartimaeus’ life. We too will know the freedom and joy of living in the power of the Holy Spirit as we confess and proclaim our faith in the risen Lord.

Twenty-Ninth Sunday of the Year 2018

Dear Friends in Christ, 

Entire newsletter in PDF format

There is no mystery about the ways of this world. The problem is that these ways easy infiltrate into the Church and become its ways. popeSelfish ambition, self-advancement and self-promotion are often hallmarks of clerical ambition. Pope Francis, for example has put a stop to the plethora of young clerics being awarded the title Monsignor. Under his pontificate a cleric cannot be made a Monsignor until he is the age of 65! One or two have slipped through the net, mind you, but that is understandable; the disease of clerical ambition isn’t easily eradicated from the Body of Christ.

James and John approached the Lord, seeking just this kind of affirmation: pride of place in the kingdom. The desire for power, prestige and position reveals their folly and misunderstanding of the gospel. They want affirmation and promotion. Jesus’ rebuke is not harsh or sharp but compassionate and enquiring: ‘Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptised with the baptism with which I am baptised?’ Their youthful zeal overtakes them and they declare that they can!

serveJesus uses this display or worldly ambition to teach about the new way in his kingdom. If we want to be great, we have to choose to be small. If we want to be first, we must choose to be last. If we was esteem and recognition, we must serve and not be served. Jesus attacks the wisdom of this world which looks to dominate, manipulate and control. To be meek and to serve is a sign not of weakness but of true strength and character. To adopt the disposition of a slave is not to be trampled on but to rise above selfish drives which compel us to serve ourselves and not others.

Jesus is clear and direct; to lord it over others and exercise authority in a harsh, overbearing way has no place in his kingdom. Humility, not pride is the blessed way of the kingdom. Those in positions of authority or power have a vocation to show the world the power of love, service and humility: the greater our responsibility, the more humbly we should behave.

ST. JOHN FISHER CATHOLIC PRIMARY SCHOOL – OFSTED REPORT

It is with great joy that I would like to inform the whole parish community that our Parish School St. John Fisher, at the recent OFSTED inspection on the 25th & 26th of September was assessed as being a “GOOD” school over all in each of the Five Categories of assessment.

* Effectiveness of leadership and managementgood
* Quality of teaching, learning and assessment
* Personal development, behaviour and welfare
* Outcomes for pupils
* Early years provision

This is truly a magnificent result! I would like to thank and congratulate our Head teacher Mrs Patricia Bryson, and all her staff for the incredible hard work that has gone into the school over the past couple of years. We are now on a par with the schools in our locality. To have this “GOOD” result is a wonderful uplift to the school and the parents alike. We should always give our Catholic support to our local Parish School.

Obviously, with admissions to Reception places for September 2019 taking place over the next few months, I would ask all of our Catholic families, if you have a child eligible for Reception 2019, that you would consider seriously a place at St. John Fisher School. I can assure you we will give the best education to your child, within the ethos of the Catholic School system.

Mrs Bryson states: “We are now looking forward to continuing the journey and building on our success. I am especially proud of my staff and would like to thank them for their dedication and hard work.”

If you would like to know more about our school, you are very welcome to come and visit. The children of St John Fisher Catholic Primary School enjoy talking about and sharing their achievements and our successes.” (Mrs P Bryson)

APPLICATIONS FOR RECEPTION PLACES IN SPTEMBER 2019: The applications procedure for the Secondary School will be completed by the 31st October. Approximately, from the middle of November applications through Essex County can be made for Reception places for September 2019. Parents will not be notified by the Essex County that you have to make application; if your child is eligible to start school in 2019. If your child will be four rising five in September 2019 please complete the procedure ‘on-line’. You have until 15th January 2019 to make your application. For candidates for St. John Fisher School, you will also need a Certificate of Catholic Practice (CCP), signed by Fr. John declaring your weekly practice of faith.

May God Bless You All

Fr John Sig

Twenty-Eighth Sunday of the Year 2018

28th Sunday of the Year 2018

Dear Friends in Christ, 

‘Come follow me!’ The rich young man wanted to love God and inherit eternal life. His genuine efforts delighted Jesus. Nonetheless, Jesus saw that he was relying on his own efforts to gain salvation. By inviting him to see all his goods, Jesus opened up a choice to him. Would he acknowledge his insufficiency and turn to Jesus for the grace to move forward, or would he turn away defeated and despairing?

wisdomThe Lord wants us to come to him for salvation to arrive at the point where we discover our weakness and frailty and then turn to him for grace, strength and life. It is essential that we discover this moment in our lives at least once or, as is more likely, again and again. Do we depend on ourselves or on God? The heart of ‘being saved’ is acknowledging our need and depending on God. We cannot taste the goodness of the Lord id we rely only on ourselves.

Jesus challenged the man to a decision. Similarly, Jesus challenges us to make wise and godly choices. The choice is genuinely ours, as the young man’s choice was his. He could not make the decision to follow Jesus because the sacrifice of all his possessions seemed too great to him.

We sometimes fail to make the choices demanded of us. The sacrifices involved seem too much for us. For this reason Jesus promises us that giving up everything for his sake will be rewarded a hundredfold. The reward far outweighs the cost. He asks us to believe his promise and act upon it.

2When we are following Jesus everything else in our lives loses importance: ‘I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord’. The young man clung to the security of his possessions because he could put his trust in Jesus’ love for him. Only by experiencing Jesus’ love shall we be able to believe his promises and act upon them without counting the cost. Therefore we need to pray persistently to grow in our knowledge of his love for us. This is the key to following Jesus. Then not lacking one thing, we shall have treasure in heaven.