I’m just back from the conference of bishops in Steubenville – a bit jet-lagged but up and running! I’m glad to be back in time to be here today. For today is the great feast of Our Lady of Walsingham. It’s also the seventh anniversary of my ordination as Bishop of Portsmouth. I remember well the awesome day here at the Cathedral in September 2012. I have much to thank God for in the times since, and also much to pray about. Please say a prayer for me today and also for our Diocese, its clergy, religious and laity. Meanwhile, thanks to Deacon Craig for editing this week’s e-News. If you have some inspiring Good News to share either yourself or from your parish or your school, please let him know. May Our Lady of Walsingham pray for you today and obtain for your many blessings from Her Son.
As we prepare for the Year of God’s Word (2020) and the Year of the Eucharist (2021, I wish to ask you to pray earnestly for the renewal of our Diocese of Portsmouth. Please say this prayer these next days for our clergy and laity:
O Sacred Heart of Jesus, we beg you to change us, to convert us and to make us holy. Fill us with a deeper faith, hope and love for you. Send into our hearts the cleansing fire of the Holy Spirit and powerfully renew all the clergy and laity of our Diocese. Unite us in love and respect for one another and unify us as your one, holy people. Grant us a new passion and zeal for the Catholic Faith, for mission, outreach and service. Help us to proclaim your Gospel generously to the poor and needy that many more souls may be saved by finding their way to you in your Church. May Mary Immaculate help us. May St Edmund of Abingdon and Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati pray for us. Amen.
Holy Michael the Archangel defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray. And do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust down to hell Satan and all the wicked spirits, who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.
I’m just back from a two-day conference of bishops, held in Steubenville, Ohio. The conference, organised by the St. Paul’s Evangelisation Society (SPES), was called Evangelising Dioceses and I’ll say more about it next week. It was action-packed, starting at 6 am each day and was attended by 40 bishops, mainly from the US. It was held on the beautiful campus of Franciscan University, a private Catholic university, run by the Franciscan Third Order Regulars and established in 1946 by Fr. Dan Egan. Not far from Pittsburgh, the university offers bachelors and masters level degree programmes. It has about 5,000 students and its staff include Dr. Petroc Willey, whom many will remember from his time at Maryvale Institute in Birmingham. I was pleased to catch up with him. Currently Professor of Theology and Catechetics, he has been developing partnerships with almost 60 American dioceses, launching and supporting the kinds of distance-learning programmes he used to run at Maryvale. Meanwhile, in the picture is a photo of the tiny church of the Portiuncula in the grounds of the University. It is a replica of the chapel built by St. Francis of Assisi in response to the Lord’s call to him, “Rebuild my church.” At Steubenville, there is 24-hour Eucharistic Adoration in this tiny chapel, and I was impressed that when I visited it, it was packed with students in silent prayer. At first, I could not get a seat; some students were sitting on the grass outside in order to find space and quiet for prayer.
Next Sunday is 26th Sunday of the Year and the Gospel is from Luke 16:19-31. Here we give it in the Anglicised English Standard Version (ESVUK) translation.
“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not do so, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house— 28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”
Read Scott Hahn's commentary on Sunday's readings here.
In our society, we tend to know the names of the people who matter. Celebrities, athletes, politicians, royalties, movie stars, televisions hosts, are known by name, and the glamorous details of their lives are often exposed to all. The people who don’t matter are unknown, nobodies. They are nameless masses to the rest of society. They are referred to by categories: the poor, the lonely, the sick, the elderly… In this Sunday’s parable, the opposite is true. The anonymous rich man’s identity is reduced to his wealth, while the poor man begging at his door is given a name: Lazarus. In fact, in all the parables of Jesus, Lazarus is the only character who is given a name. In the eyes of God, no one is nameless, but when we fail to see others as persons with a name, we disappear into the anonymity we have created for them. The rich man lives as if Lazarus didn’t exist, and ends up in the hell he has chosen for himself, where no one – not even himself – matters. In this Wednesday webinar, we’ll reflect on:
Faith: How do we truly know God as a friend through faith?
Hope: How can we hope to be known by him as a friend?
Love: How is this friendship evident in my life?
This week, I have enjoyed sitting out in my garden, where there are a number of mature trees. Many of them are bearing fruit; one of our apple trees has let some of its fruit fall to the ground. And a young parishioner came to me last Sunday, bearing with pride a cake she had made from the berries she had collected from bushes near where she lives. Both are lovely images of the bounty of God, Who “alone… makes things grow” (1 Cor 3:7). Fruitfulness, outcomes and fulfilment are ideas that appear in all the Scripture readings this coming Sunday (26th in Ordinary Time (C)) – but not always explicitly. Indeed, the rich way in which this theme is expressed in Sunday’s gospel (Lk 16:19-31), is an example of how we should read every passage of the gospel, in the context of the whole gospel, reflecting the “unity of the whole of Scripture” (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, "Dei Verbum", 12).
There have been some results from polls in the United States which are dismaying, for they indicate that a significant proportion of Catholics either do not know, or do not believe, the doctrine of Transubstantiation. Some regard the Eucharist as Protestants do, simply as a memorial meal, in which we eat bread and drink wine in memory of Christ: others have a Lutheran approach, and think that although Christ is somehow present in the Sacred elements, the bread and the wine are still there. However, the constant teaching of the Church from apostolic times, is that after the Consecration, there is neither bread nor wine on the altar, but only Jesus Christ, Body Blood Soul and Divinity. One might legitimately call this the doctrine of the ‘real absence’: the substance of the bread and wine is wholly absent, and what is there is Jesus Christ. If anyone doubt that this is what Christ taught, let them read John Chapter 6. Again and again in this chapter, Jesus tells his followers that if they wish to have eternal life, if they wish to share the life of God himself, then they must eat His flesh and drink his blood. No wonder that many of those hearing this said ‘This is a hard saying: who can believe it?’ and ceased from following him.
It’s strange, I think, which particular moments of important days stick in one’s mind. Personally, one of my clearest memories of making First Profession as a Dominican Sister on Saturday 14th September is the moment during the Mass when I lifted up my scapular – the long, apron-like piece of material worn over the shoulders – for the priest to bless with holy water. It struck me then that what I was doing at that moment was an act which summed up my entire religious life: the lifting-up and the handing-over of myself to God through free choice. It was a simple act, but one which spoke deeply to me of what it means to be a consecrated religious. At the time of writing I have been a professed sister for a grand total of only five days – but religious life is not something new to me. For the previous three years I have been living with the Dominican Sisters of St Joseph in the New Forest and sharing in their life: a Christ-shaped life of poverty, chastity and obedience, in which we contemplate the Christ whom we have chosen to follow and then pass on the fruits of that contemplation through preaching and teaching. Over those three years I and the sisters have together been discerning whether or not this Dominican life is for me - not whether I ‘like’ it, or merely can ‘do’ it, but whether I am being truly called to it by a gracious act of God. I was able to leave at absolutely any point I wanted to if I decided this life was not in fact what I was being called to.
A parishioner in the diocese has drawn our attention to this ecumenical initiative which it would be good for us all to support...
Thursday 26th September is National Cross Day. Do you have a crucifix? Perhaps in your jewellery box or tucked away in a drawer? Make sure you wear it on National Cross Day! For Christians, the cross - and for Catholics, particularly, the crucifix - symbolises the amazing sacrifice Jesus Christ made when he was crucified on the first Good Friday. The Bible shows how sin – being disobedient to God, rebelling against Him – is so serious that it deserves the gravest punishment: death. But the cross reminds us that because God loves every person so much, he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to live on earth some 2,000 years ago and to take that punishment Himself, in our place. Such is the grace of God! Because of the cross, people who repent for their sins – who deliberately decide to turn away from sin and lead a godly life – can be forgiven. National Cross Day reminds us, too, of all Christians who are being persecuted and suffering simply for believing in the power of the cross. By taking part in National Cross Day, we can show our solidarity with them. Why a National Cross Day? There are millions of Christians in the United Kingdom. Where you work. On the train or bus. Where you volunteer. Where you socialise. But – do you know who they are? For too long, grassroots Christians have been invisible. Yes, there are the people you see on Sunday mornings – but at other times? National Cross Day enables you to find Christians everywhere! The first National Cross Day was on 26th September last year. Many churches and Christians took part. What do I have to do? Wear your crucifix or cross on National Cross Day, 26th September including at work. Round your neck. On a lapel. Pinned on your shirt. Anywhere other Christians can easily recognise you – and you can recognise them. Then talk to them. Make new friends. Build new Christian networks! That’s the idea. Very simple. You CAN do it! Read more on the National Cross Day website.
Antonia Moffat from the National Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham wishes to draw our attention to this national event happening this Saturday in Westminster Cathedral...
There is to be a Day of Prayer on Saturday 28th September in Westminster Cathedral asking forgiveness and offering prayers of reparation for the sins of abuse within the Church. Before the enormity of the sins we stand helpless and in anguish over the horror of the suffering caused to victims. WE can only turn to the Lord in repentance & grief and beg for HIS Mercy, Forgiveness and Healing. Priests and people are invited to pray in union of prayer with this Divine Mercy Day of Prayer. It is to be led by Bishop John Keenan of the Diocese of Paisley and Fr. Dominic Allain Pastoral Director of "Grief to Grace". Bishop John Keenan invites us to "Bring to the Father of Mercies our horror, outrage, our anguish and grief. WE pray for God's healing for victim-survivors and, through our prayer and penance, for the wounded Body of Christ on account of these sins"... "Our Communal Act of Reparation will be the centre of our day of penance and reparation and I would appeal to you to approach it seriously and in awareness that it must be our ongoing and fervent prayer. The life long agony of the victim-survivors must be acknowledged before the Lord and before those abused themselves." Bishop Keenan further reflects: "The thought of today gives me great hope! God is calling us to be Prophets of Prayer and Sacrifice who, like the prophets of old, prayed for their nation and for all their peoples to return to God. May God bless your prayers and sacrifices for this blessed Day of God's Mercy for our Church and world. Jesus I Trust in You." You can vew the programme for the day here.
Edmund Matyjaszek draws our attention to a lecture he will be giving on the Isle of Wight...
The Guild of Our Lady of Ransom Annual Lecture will given be on Monday 7th October by Mr Edmund Matyjaszek, Principal of the Priory School of Our Lady of Walsingham, Isle of Wight. He will be lecturing on: England: The Dowry of Mary: Meaning and Mission. The Guild of Our Lady of Ransom also invites you to a free drinks reception after the lecture. If you wish to attend and to get more details, please register here. All are welcome, so feel free to share this with anyone who may be interested.
The Guild of Our Lady of Ransom has a website here. The Guild itself was approved and blessed by Pope Leo XIII on 18th May 1889, whereupon he declared himself to be the ‘President’. When meeting with the founders, he prophesied, “When England returns to Walsingham, Our Lady will return to England.”
If you are interested in Inter-religious Dialogue, you are invited to a day to Celebrate the 800th Anniversary of this historic meeting on Saturday 19th October, from 9.30am to 4.30pm at St Philip Howard Church Hall Bishopsfield Road, Fareham, PO14 1QS. As it is a day of sharing all attending are asked to bring food to share. For more information about the day please contact Esme Vivian ofs, via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone: 01329 319301 (answerphone available).
Anna Jarratt, Acting Head of St. Finian’s Catholic Primary School in Thatcham, West Berkshire reflects on the school Mission Statement...
With Christ at the centre we journey together to reach our potential and live life to the full. At St. Finian’s we want every child to know that as a child of God they are special and loved. With the comfort of this knowledge, our children can grow to be confident young people, who have high aspirations of themselves and who recognise how their unique gifts and talents can make a difference in the world. We believe that we learn best when our hearts and minds our open; by embracing the opinions and beliefs of others, we can build strong communities founded on love and respect. Learning is a joy and a life long journey; with Jesus to guide us, there is no end to our potential.
A group of 35 tenacious and extremely hard-working Farnborough Hill pupils returned to school this week to learn of the outstanding grades they earned in their Level One Project Qualification, taken in Year 9; 20 girls earned an A*, nine an A and six achieved B grades.The pupils chose to challenge themselves by undertaking the project, during which they studied a topic of particular interest, and gained a qualification in recognition of the research they carried out. They worked independently on their project, spending time planning and researching, before presenting their findings to an audience of teachers and peers. The Level One Project Qualification is designed to enhance research, time-management and presentation skills; it can be likened to a mini dissertation and allows the pupils to experience first-hand what university work will potentially be like.The scope for research is endless. Topics this year included: ‘How have the people in Rwanda affected the mountain gorillas?’; ‘What does high-performance swimming teach you that can enable academic success?’; ‘Is the gender pay gap inevitable?’ and ‘How far would an EU ban on plastic bottles reduce the amount of plastic pollution in our oceans?’ Just as diverse was the pupils’ motivation for undertaking such a huge piece of work. Charlotte commented, “I have always enjoyed writing, and when we were given the opportunity to write an essay that we really cared about, I was very excited. I also hoped it would give me good experience for writing essays further on in school and beyond.” Head Alexandra Neil was delighted with the pupils’ work, ‘The creativity and dedication displayed by the young pupils who undertake the mammoth task of the project is inspirational. They reach beyond their curriculum to educate themselves, their peers and their teachers on a topic that they find interesting. The diverse interests of the pupils at Farnborough Hill continually amaze me and I look forward to the project presentations every year. Congratulations to all the girls on not only completing their research but on earning top grades.’
Sr Veronica OP reports on the Ananias Retreat Day at St Jude's School in Fareham...
The great story of Jesus retreat day provided St Jude’s school with a slightly different start to their new school year. During the day there was much time and space for personal silent reflection, through Holy Scripture, on the Great Story of Jesus and our response to his call to drop our nets and follow him. This was facilitated by Sr. Veronica OP and the wonderful DVD presentations produced by St Catherine of Sienna Institute and Sherry Weddell’s team in Colorado Springs. Fr. John Cooke and Fr. Tom Grufferty were available during the day to offer the sacrament of Reconciliation if anyone felt touched to receive this sacrament. People were invited to drop their nets on the specially created beach in front of the altar in imitation of the first Apostles if they felt it was time to enter into a deeper personal relationship with Jesus or they could take a card with a picture to ponder further on what they had heard during the day and make a commitment at home privately when they felt ready to do so by placing it on their fridge as a reminder.
From 9th-14th September a group us from Reading University went on a pilgrimage to Poland, the home country of our chaplain Fr Stanisław Gibziński. We were based at a retreat house in a suburban parish in the Archdiocese of Warsaw, where we were hosted by the parish priest Fr Grzegorz Jankowski, a great friend of Fr Stan who assisted and accompanied our trip as much as he could. The theme of the pilgrimage was Mater Ecclesiae – Mother of the Church. We unite ourselves to Mary’s Immaculate Heart in this moment of sorrow for the Church when there is much ongoing confusion, and ask her to keep us safe from false teachings as we sang in our theme song: Mater Ecclesiae, Regina mundi, da nobis pacem.
Many thanks to Anne Dodd and the livesimply team at Our Lady & St Edmund Abingdon for organising a Creation Mass on Sunday 15th September as part of Our Common Home campaign. After the Mass they held sale of garden produce to raise funds for CAFOD.
During the offertory they brought up five symbols of their desire to care for God's earth.
• A globe represented a world of beauty and teeming with life, but despoiled by our greed.
• A sapling of buddleia growing in our graveyard, which has attracted butterflies and pollinating bees represents our hope for the future.
• The Live Simply banner and the record book of our parish’s endeavours as we strove to become a Live Simply parish, represents Pope Francis’s call to live wisely, think deeply and love generously in caring for our common home.
• A bag of plastic waste represents our commitment to changing our lifestyle, in order to be better stewards of the earth which God entrusts to our care.
• The lectern banner from our youth groups is a symbol of our determination to care.
If you would like to hold a Creation Celebration Mass or take part in Our Common home campaign by signing the petition then click on here, or if you are interested in becoming a livesimply parish click here. It would be great to have more livesimply parishes in the Portsmouth Diocese.
The Editor writes...
When I was holiday in Madeira last month I was asked to write a piece for the newsletter for the Sunday English Mass at the Chapel of Our Lady of Penha da Franca in Funchal. Knowing the priest who has been offering the only English Mass on the island for many years fairly well, I had written to him to share the happy news of my daughter's Confirmation a few weeks before. Having written an article three years previously as a newly-ordained Deacon, he asked me to write on this celebration. Now, the editor of the newsletter has a very good system of signing visitors up to receive their newsletter via e-mail to keep in touch in between holidays. One of those is Francis Connolly KSG from Wash Common who holidays there in February with his wife and read my article and spotted that I was from the Diocese of Portsmouth. He then invited me to the Annual Mass and lunch for the Knights and Dames of the Southern Province and we finally met. All thanks to that e-Newsletter. Perhaps readers of e-News may be united in similar ways. If so, do let us know.
Sunday 22nd September
TWENTY-FIFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
National Prayer Cycle: Thanksgiving for the Harvest
Diocesan Prayer: Community of St Peter & the Winchester Martyrs, Winchester (consecrated 22.9.1938)
Monday 23rd September
St Pio of Pietrelcina, Religious, memorial
Diocesan Prayer: Community of St Joseph, Southampton (consecrated 23.9.1911); Community of St. Elizabeth, Cookham
Tuesday 24th September
Our Lady of Walsingham, memorial
Diocesan Prayer: Bishop Philip (ordained Bishop and installed 24.9.2012);
Community of Our Lady of Walsingham, Portchester [at St. Mary’s, Portchester Castle];
Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham
Wednesday 25th September
Feria [25th Week in Ordinary Time]
Diocesan Prayer: Oasis of Peace, Jersey
Thursday 26th September
Ss Cosmas & Damian, Martyrs, optional memorial
or: Feria [25th Week in Ordinary Time]
National Prayer Cycle: ‘Stella Maris’ Maritime Day
Diocesan Prayer: Society of St Vincent de Paul
Friday 27th September
St Vincent de Paul, Founder, memorial
Diocesan Prayer: Parish of St Vincent de Paul, Lordswood, Southampton
Saturday 28th September
St Wenceslaus, Martyr, optional memorial
or: St Laurence Ruiz & Companions, Martyrs, optional memorial
or: Our Lady on Saturday
or: Feria [25th Week in Ordinary Time]
Diocesan Prayer: Parish of St Patrick, Hayling Island (dedicated 28.9.1984);
Community of St Mary & St Peter, St Helier, Jersey (dedicated 28.9.1985)
HH Pope John Paul I (RIP 1978)
Sunday 29th September
TWENTY-SIXTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Diocesan Prayer: Parish of St Michael & All Angels, Leigh Park; Community of St Michael, Bembridge
Monday 30th September
St Jerome, Priest, Doctor of the Church, memorial
Diocesan Prayer: Parish of St Michael, Tadley; Community of St Michael, Hythe
You can find the prayer intentions for each day of September here.
Friday 27th September
National Prayer Weekend event
Sacred Heart Church, Hook
Saturday 28th - Sunday 29th September
Southampton Celebrate Weekend
Sunday 29th September
My Fertility Matters Project Information Evening
Corpus Christi Wokingham
Extraordinary Mission Month
Saturday 5th October
'The future of the Church - Walking together'
Park Place Pastoral Centre
Sunday 6th October
Annual Rosary Procession in honour of Our Lady
St Saviour's Totland Bay, IoW
Saturday 12th October
Annual Conference for Spiritual Directors
St. Bede's Church, Basingstoke
Pilgrimage to Rome & Assisi for Extraordinary Mission Month
Sunday 13th October
Canonisation of Saint John Henry Newman
St Peter's Rome
Wednesday 23rd October
Welcome to Worship
Immaculate Conception & St Joseph Church, Christchurch.
Friday 25th October
Thanksgiving Mass for the Canonisation of Saint John Henry Newman
Bournemouth Oratory at Sacred Heart Bournemouth, 7pm.
Saturday 26th October
Alton Day of Renewal
For more information see our Vacancies page.
Fr Bonaventure Ndong and his family.
All clergy moving to new parishes and taking on new responsibilities at this time.
Vocations to all states of life and ministry in the Church, especially to the Sacred Priesthood, Diaconate and Religious Life. For the recently ordained and for all our students currently in formation for ordination and those responsible for their formation in the various seminaries in which they are based.
Archbishop Cornelius and the clergy and people of our twin diocese of Bamenda and for an end to the troubles there.
The repose of the souls of all who have died recently; for all those killed through acts of warfare, violence, terrorism and natural disaster. Requiescant in pace.
All affected by sexual, domestic and emotional abuse.
Peace in the world and for those who govern the nations that they may do so wisely and justly.
The work of the New Evangelisation across the diocese that we may all play our part in bringing people closer to Jesus Christ through His Church.
The work of the Apostleship of the Sea, Caritas Diocese of Portsmouth, Caritas Jersey, CAFOD and those with whom they work.
That all we do in the diocese may bring people closer to Jesus Christ through His Church.
I would like to encourage all readers to send in items for the e-News about events in parishes, pastoral areas and schools about the many sacramental celebrations and general good news about people in the diocese. I often hear much Good News from many people - do share it with us so we can share it with others in the diocese. Thanks, of course, to all who already contribute articles for the e-News on an occasional or regular basis.
We try to include a broad range of news and reflective articles, but publication of an article does not necessarily reflect the views of the Editor or of the Bishop.
Please e-mail all news items by Friday for consideration for the following week's issue to Deacon Craig Aburn: email@example.com.
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