Portsmouth Diocese e-News Issue 395

January 31st, 2023
intro 395

Dear Friends,
The days are definitely getting longer! I noticed yesterday morning how it was beginning to get light at 7 am and that, although the sun had gone down, it was still light at 5.30 pm. The Anglo-Saxon word for this time of the year is ‘Lencten’, literally, ‘when the when the days lengthen,’ and this reminds us that the holy season of Lent begins in three Wednesdays’ time. In e-News this week, we begin our remote preparation for Lent – we are now in a pre-Lent period – with an article on Ash Wednesday that I have written for the Bishops’ Conference website and the first of a mini-series on the Pillars of Lent by Fr. Anthony Barratt. In other news, there is a new document from the Vatican on ethical investments called Mensuram Bonam and also an Apostolic Letter from the Holy Father about St. Francis de Sales. This coming Sunday is Racial Justice Sunday and Bishop John Sherrington has issued a new statement about buffer zones around abortion clinics. Finally, the 2023 Rite of Election is on Saturday 25th February – do come and join us for it. Meanwhile, in this Year of the Holy Spirit, I pray you have a blessed week ahead, replete with the gifts the Spirit brings.

From the Bishop

The Six Holy Habits (1) Sunday Mass

From the Bishop

mass entrane procession

In recent Pastoral Letters, I have been encouraging everyone in the Diocese to adopt The Six Holy Habits: (1) Sunday Mass; (2) daily prayer; (3) Friday penance and works of charity; (4) fortnightly visit to the Blessed Sacrament; (5) monthly Confession; and (6) to join a small support-group. Here I begin a six-week mini-series about each Habit.

I remember once after Mass, when during the homily I had mentioned the obligation on Catholics to attend Mass on Sundays and Holydays, being asked by a parishioner: Where does this obligation come from? Ultimately, of course, the obligation comes from God. On Mount Sinai He gave us the Ten Commandments, the fourth of which is to keep holy the Sabbath. From the very early Church, Sunday, the Lord’s Day (Rev. 1: 10) replaced the Jewish Sabbath as the day of worship. It was the day the Lord rose from the dead. Sunday was also the day God rested from the work of creation (Gen 2: 2-3) and the day the Holy Spirit came down on the Apostles (Acts 2: 1-13). It is the Day when we listen to God’s word and partake of the Holy Eucharist (‘unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you cannot have life in you’ Jn 6: 53). The moral obligation to participate in the Eucharistic sacrifice on Sundays and to rest from work dates from the early Church, although it did not become a definite law of the Church until the fourth century. The obligation is there of course not to burden but to help us: if we were to fall out of the habit of going to Mass on Sunday, when would we hear the Word of God? When would we be nourished by the Holy Eucharist? When would we meet our fellow disciples, the community of the Church?
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Prayer Book on your Mobile

From the Bishop

presentation in the temple

Would you like to have the prayer book Lord I am Not Worthy on your mobile, laptop or iPad? People have asked me whether this possible. Well yes – now it is. Click here for the link to download a copy and then save it to your device. Remember too, that if you would like a larger print copy (A5), then email events@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk.

Meeting the Naval Base Commander

From the Bishop

bishop with commodore voyce

One of the great joys of being the Bishop of this Diocese of Portsmouth is the presence of the Royal Navy, above all here in Portsmouth itself. Yesterday, I met with Commodore John Voyce who since last summer has been the commander of the naval dockyard. Until last year, Commodore Voyce was based in Gosport where he was the Commanding Officer of HMS Sultan, the RN’s marine and air engineer establishment. This followed an extensive and varied career as a Marine Engineering Officer, including two years in charge of the engineering department on aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious. The Naval base he commands here in Portsmouth supports the two new 65,000-tonne Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers as well as the entire flotilla of Type 45 destroyers, around half the Frigate Force, Offshore Patrol Vessels, Hunt-Class minehunters and P2000 patrol boats, and a wide range of defence organisations that operate from here. Over 10,000 people work in marine-related professions, serving personnel, civil servants, employees of firms such as BAE Systems, KBS Maritime, SODEXO & SERCO and contractors supporting the activities of the Fleet.

Please pray for everyone serving in our armed forces, for their safety and well-being, for peace and freedom from violence and war, and for all military leaders, that they will be truly wise, and for the chaplains who minister to them.

A New Chaplain for Reading University

From the Bishop

sr margaret

On Saturday, I met with Sr. Margaret of the Handmaids of the Holy Child, along with Sr. Veronica and Sr. Rita. The Handmaids live in Upper Redlands Road in Reading and help in the parish of St. James and St. William of York. Sr. Margaret, who before being appointed to the community in Reading, worked in Carlisle and in Blackpool, arrived in Reading in September and has been working with Fr. Stan Gibzinski, parish priest of Our Lady of Peace and Blessed Dominic Barberi, who is the priest-chaplain to Reading University. Sister will take the Oath of Fidelity and make her Profession of Faith at a Mass in the chaplaincy in March before then officially taking up her appointment as Assistant Chaplain. Please pray for her and for the students of the University. Please pray for mission of the Church in our universities and for Canon PJ Smith who has responsibility for coordinating tertiary level chaplaincy services across the Diocese.

Some Thoughts on Ash Wednesday

From the Bishop

ash wednesday

Currently, the Bishops Conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis is running a project for Lent 2023 in which various bishops have been invited to contribute short reflections about the Gospels of Lent. I have been asked to supply a reflection, given here, for Ash Wednesday, which this year falls on 22nd  February.

Some scientific experiments, such as in quantum physics, are complex because of the ‘observer effect.’ The presence of an observer changes the behaviour of what is observed. It would be like the BBC coming into your home with their cameras to do some filming. I’m sure everyone in the family would be watching their ps and qs!

Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent, a season of personal and communal renewal. The Church undertakes Lent in order to accompany Jesus on his journey to Jerusalem to his Death and Resurrection. In Him, we die to sin; in Him we rise to life. Lent invites us to die to sin and all that is not right, in order to rise in Him to a renewed way of living. That’s why the Church uses ashes. Ashes remind us of our mortality, that ‘you are dust and to dust you shall return’ (Gen 3: 19) and that we need to ‘repent and believe in the Gospel’ (Mark 1: 15). The Christian life is an unending combat. Fighting against evil in ourselves, dying to self to live for God, struggling against selfishness and injustice in self and others, is the ascetic journey every disciple is called to make generously.
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This Sunday is Racial Justice Sunday


racial justice

This Sunday, The Fifth Sunday of the Year, is Racial Justice Sunday, a day kept by other Christians too. An optional Second Collection may be taken this weekend for the Catholic Association for Racial Justice (CARJ).

The theme for this year is “All are included in the mission of Christ and His Church. Let us walk together, pray together and work together.” It reflects the role each of us must play in promoting the mission of Christ and His Church. This was inspired by conversations around last year’s Racial Justice Sunday and Pope Francis’ visit to Canada in July 2022 when he spoke about looking towards a future of ‘Justice, healing and reconciliation’. Here is a prayer that can be used: God of our past, present and future, you created each one of us in your image and likeness, help us to recognise you in each person. As we pray for end to suffering caused by racism, lead us this day to walk with one another, pray with one another and work together, so that we create a future based on justice and healing, where all can fulfil the hope you have for all peoples. We ask this through Christ our Lord. CARJ have produced a series of A4 PDF posters, that can be downloaded, featuring Our Lady and the Child Jesus from a diverse cross-section of countries and cultures. Although by no means exhaustive, this series is meant to highlight the rich diversity of the Catholic community and to encourages reflection on how we are all made in the image of God. The posters also carry a prayer taken from Pope Francis’ Fratelli Tutti. For these posters, click here.

The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord



This Thursday, 2nd February, is Candlemas Day, the Feastday of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, and, in a sense, the end of the Christmas season. This is the day recorded in the Gospel of Luke when, forty days after birth, the Jewish law required that every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord. When Joseph and Mary got to the Temple, an upright and devout man, Simeon, prompted by the Holy Spirit, met the Holy Family and took the baby into his arms and blessed God saying: Now my eyes have seen your salvation, the glory of your people Israel, a light to enlighten the pagans. Jesus Christ is the Glory of Israel: He has fulfilled all the hopes and promises of Old. More, He is the Light of the World. He has overcome evil, sin and the powers of darkness. That’s why on this day at the start of Mass candles are blessed and lit. Christ is our Light. Without Christ, human lives have no fundamental meaning. Without Christ, human moral value-systems become groundless. Without Christ, there is no eternal life, no heaven to look forward to, and human hearts are restless, yearning for a happiness that can never be fulfilled. The Church uses candles not to create a mystical atmosphere but because they are symbols. Candles symbolise Christ. Like a candle shining in the darkness, Christ is the light of the world. To give off light, a candle burns up its own body-mass. So too, Christ in his birth, life and death, gave up Himself for our salvation. You and I have received His light into our hearts through baptism. He has chosen us personally to be His disciples. And He calls us to share that Light with others. This is why as we carry candles at Mass, we must recognise our call in Him to radiate that Light of Christ to others.

Let us pray on Thursday that the clergy and faithful of our Diocese may form a bright light that draws people to Jesus Christ and salvation.

St. Blaise, a Most Popular Saint


st blaise

This Friday, 3rd February, is the (optional) Memorial of St. Blaise (d. 316), the patron saint of sore throats, and one of the most popular of all saints. The sources on his life are unreliable, but for sure, he was the bishop of Sebaste in Armenia. Indeed, he is the only Armenian saint to be commemorated in the Roman Calendar. It is said that during a period of persecution, the governor of Cappadocia imprisoned him in a cave outside Sebaste. A mother came to the Bishop, asking him to cure her son, who was choking on the fishbone, stuck in his throat. The Bishop saved the boy with his prayer and with the sign of the cross. For that reason, ever since he has been venerated as the patron saint of those suffering from diseases of the throat. He was eventually condemned to death and beheaded in 316. On this day, many people receive a blessing of the throat. Two blessed candles are tied or held together in the form of a St. Andrew’s cross and applied to the throat, as the priest pronounces a special invocation to St. Blaise, asking him to protect the individual from diseases of the throat. Let us pray on Friday for anyone afflicted with problems of the throat: cancer, Covid, a cold or whatever.

Here is the special Blessing Prayer that the priest uses on this feastday, as he holds two candles under the throat of the person being blessed, while making the Sign of the Cross: Per intercessionem Sancti Blasii, episcopi et martyris, liberet te Deus a malo gutturis, et a quolibet alio malo. In nomine Patris et Filii + et Spiritus Sancti. Amen. ‘Through the intercession of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you free from every disease of the throat, and from all other harm besides. In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.’

Fifth Sunday of the Year


light of the world

This Sunday 5th February, is the Fifth Sunday of the Year (or in Ordinary Time). You can find the readings for Sunday’s Mass here. In his reflection on the Sunday readings, Dr Scott Hahn reminds us that the Jesus came among us as light to scatter the darkness of a fallen world…

Jesus came among us as light to scatter the darkness of a fallen world. As His disciples, we too are called to be “the light of the world,” He tells us in the Gospel this Sunday. All three images that Jesus uses to describe the Church are associated with the identity and vocation of Israel. God forever aligned His kingdom with the kingdom of David and his sons by a “covenant of salt,” salt being a sign of permanence and purity. Jerusalem was to be a city set on a hill, high above all others, drawing all nations toward the glorious light streaming from her Temple. And Israel was given the mission of being a light to the nations, that God’s salvation would reach to the ends of the earth.

The liturgy shows us this week that the Church, and every Christian, is called to fulfil Israel’s mission. By our faith and good works we are to make the light of God’s life break forth in the darkness, as we sing in this week’s Psalm. This week’s readings remind us that our faith can never be a private affair, something we can hide as if under a basket. We are to pour ourselves out for the afflicted, as Isaiah tells us in the First Reading. Our light must shine as a ray of God’s mercy for all who are poor, hungry, naked, and enslaved. There must be a transparent quality to our lives. Our friends and family, our neighbours and fellow citizens, should see reflected in us the light of Christ and through us be attracted to the saving truths of the Gospel. So let us pray that we, like St. Paul in the Second Reading, might proclaim with our whole lives “Christ, and him crucified.”

St. Paul Miki and the Martyrs of Japan


st paul miki

Next Monday, 6th February, is the Memorial of St. Paul Miki (d. 1597) and his companions, the Martyrs of Japan. The first Christian apostle of Japan was St.  Francis Xavier, who landed in 1549; when he left a few years later, Christians numbered almost 2000. Nearly 50 years afterwards, they were much more numerous, but the Japanese ruler incensed by this increase and by the boasting of a Spanish sea-captain, embarked on a policy of persecution. This extended according to Japanese custom to the dependents of the victims too. There were twenty-six martyrs in all in this first wave. Miki was Japanese, of an aristocratic family, a Jesuit priest and a notable preacher. Two others were Jesuit lay brothers and six Franciscans, of whom four were Spanish, one Mexican and one from Bombay. The other 17 were all Japanese layfolk, except one Korean; these included catechists, interpreters, a soldier, a physician and three young boys. The martyrs had part of their left ears cut off and were displayed in various towns to terrify others. They were crucified near Nagasaki, being bound or chained to crosses on the ground. Each martyr was then dispatched by a separate executioner, who stood by the cross with a lance at the ready. After their death, their clothes and their blood were treasured. They were canonised in 1862. Other Japanese martyrs, hundreds in number, suffered in the 17th century, including St. Lorenzo Ruiz, Patron of the Philippines.

In 2016, Martin Scorsese released a film called Silence about the story of Portuguese Jesuit missionaries in 17th century Japan. Although the film is based on a fictional novel by the Japanese author Shusaku Endo, many of the events and people depicted in “Silence” are real. The film does not sugarcoat the brutal nature of this chapter of Jesuit history. It is a movie well worth watching, even if theologically problematic. You can read more about it and watch video clips and interviews here.

Bidding Prayers for the Year of the Holy Spirit


holy spirit 1

Over the coming weeks, our Diocesan Director of Liturgical Formation, Fr Anthony Fyk will offer a Bidding Prayer with some catechesis on the suggested prayer petition. During this Year dedicated to the Holy Spirit and in light of our Ten-year pastoral plan, please consider adding these intentions to the Bidding Prayers in your parish…

For the Diocese of Portsmouth – that during this year dedicated to the Holy Spirit we may grow in right judgement and courage so that we may be strengthened in the years to come. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Today we are specifically praying for right judgement and courage. Right judgement allows us to discern a situation and to choose the good. Daily life involves many different choices. Do I do this? Or do I do that? We need the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to help us make a proper discernment between good and bad. Being enlightened by the Holy Spirit, we are able to choose the good, which is our ultimate happiness and peace, which is God. We need to ask ourselves, what are my motivations or intentions when I choose something. After invoking the Holy Spirit with the discernment process, we need the courage or fortitude to persevere what that decision. The Christian life, or following the way of Christ is not always easy. We will encounter difficulties and discouragements from friends, family and society. The grace of courage or perseverance is important to continue following the way of Christ, regardless of the challenges we face. We may fail at times, but we trust in God, and with his grace, pick ourselves up again. Change can be very difficult at times, and with the Pastoral Plan, You Will be My Witnesses, change and adjustments will occur. So, we ask to be strengthened or fortified during this time of Diocesan renewal so we may trust in God in all aspects of our lives.

Thought for the Week

Thought for the Week

Thought for the Week


In an increasingly globalized society, the common good and the effort to obtain it cannot fail to assume the dimensions of the whole human family, that is to say, the community of peoples and nations, in such a way as to shape the earthly city in unity and peace, rendering it to some degree an anticipation and a prefiguration of the undivided city of God.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 7)

Vatican and World

New Vatican Document on Ethical Investment

Vatican and World


Last November, the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences released a document called Mensuram Bonam, (‘A Good Measure’), a 50-page guide that provides Catholic investors with a series of faith-based criteria to be taken into consideration to ensure investments promote the common good. It is designed to help those who work in the area of business and finance to discern how to navigate this difficult area. In his encyclical letter Caritas in Veritate, published just after the financial crisis, Pope Benedict said that ‘efforts are needed — and it is essential to say this — not only to create ethical sectors or segments of the economy or the world of finance, but to ensure that the whole economy — the whole of finance — is ethical, not merely by virtue of an external label, but by its respect for requirements intrinsic to its very nature. The Church’s social teaching is quite clear on the subject, recalling that the economy, in all its branches, constitutes a sector of human activity.’ This teaching is repeated in Mensuram BonamMensuram Bonam is not intended to instruct Catholic investors to invest in particular ways, although a number of investments – included certain healthcare investments and armaments – are highlighted as requiring caution. But it does provide a framework for reflection to help investors avoid moral evils and also, actively to do good. The principles laid out in the document should be considered carefully by all investors – individual investors working for institutions or those managing the investments of dioceses, religious orders, other Catholic organisations or Catholic investment funds – as they develop their statements of investment principles.

You can download a copy of Mensuram Bonam by clicking here.

The Pope on St. Francis de Sales

Vatican and World

st francis de sales mosaic

On the 400th anniversary of the death of the Saint Francis de Sales this year, Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Letter entitled ‘Totum amoris est’ (‘Everything Pertains to Love’), in which he recalls how the Doctor of the Church was able to help people seek God in charity, joy, and freedom in an era of great changes. This article is based on one in Vatican News. You can read Totum Amoris Est by clicking here

A fine “interpreter” of his time, who in a new way had “a thirst for God,” and was an “extraordinary director of souls,” capable of helping people seek the Lord in their hearts and find Him in charity. This is how Pope Francis described St. Francis de Sales in the new Apostolic Letter Totum amoris est (‘Everything Pertains to Love’) written on the occasion of the fourth centenary of the death of the Doctor of the Church, Patron of journalists and communicators, and “exiled” Bishop of Geneva. The Pope highlights that the great vocation of this French saint, who was born in the castle of Sales, in Savoy, on 21 August 1567, and died in Lyon on 28 December 1622, was that of asking himself “in every situation in life where the greatest love is to be found.” It is, therefore, not surprising, notes Pope Francis, that Pope St. John Paul II called him a “Doctor of Divine Love,” not only for having written “a weighty treatise on that subject, but first and foremost because he was an outstanding witness to that love.”

The Pope explains that, reflecting on “the legacy of Saint Francis de Sales for our time,” he found his “flexibility and his far-sighted vision” enlightening. In early 17th-century Paris, the saintly bishop – who Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once called “an apostle, preacher, writer, a man of action and of prayer” – “perceived clearly that the times were changing.” He might “never have imagined that those changes represented so great an opportunity for the preaching of the Gospel. The Word of God that he had loved from his youth now opened up before him new and unexpected horizons in a rapidly changing world. That same task,” says the Pope, “awaits us in our own age of epochal change. We are challenged to be a Church that is outward-looking and free of all worldliness, even as we live in this world, share people’s lives and journey with them in attentive listening and acceptance. That is what Francis de Sales did when he discerned the events of his times with the help of God’s grace. Today he bids us set aside undue concern for ourselves, for our structures and for what society thinks about us and consider instead the real spiritual needs and expectations of our people.”

According to Saint Francis de Sales, the Pope explains, the experience of God “is intrinsic to the human heart”. This idea, underpinning his entire life “centred on God”, is explained with “simplicity and precision” in the “Treatise on the Love of God,” and specifically with these words: “At the very thought of God, one immediately feels a certain delightful emotion of the heart, which testifies that God is God of the human heart.” These words are the synthesis of his thought: “It is in the heart and through the heart”, the Pope writes, “that we come to know God and, at the same time, ourselves, our own origins and depths, and our fulfilment in the call to love.” Thus, we discover that faith is not “a passive and emotionless abandonment to a doctrine stripped of the flesh and history,” but is “first and foremost an attitude of the heart,” that is born from the contemplation of the life of Jesus. At the school of the Incarnation, he had learned to interpret history and to approach life with confidence and trust.” St Francis de Sales, the Pope notes, “had come to realize that desire is at the root of all true spiritual life, but also the cause of its debasement.” For this reason, he “recognized the importance of constantly testing desire through the exercise of discernment” and found the “ultimate criterion for this assessment in love”, in asking himself “in every situation in life where the greatest love is to be found.”

According to Pope Francis, the Saint’s reflection on the spiritual life is “of outstanding theological importance,” for it embodies two “essential dimensions of any genuine theology.” The first one is the spiritual life itself, because “theologians emerge from the crucible of prayer.” The second dimension regards “the ability to think in the Church and with the Church,” as Christian theologians are called to carry out their work “immersed in the life of the community.” He wrote important spiritual works, such as the Introduction to the Devout Life and the Treatise on the Love of God, and thousands of letters sent to convents, to men and women in royal courts, as well as to ordinary people.

In his spiritual direction – the Pope explains – St Francis de Sales speaks in a new way, using a different method, a method “that renounced all harshness and respected completely the dignity and gifts of a devout soul, whatever its frailties.” In this approach, the Letter notes, we can find “the Salesian optimism,” a lasting mark in the history of spirituality that flourished with Saint John Bosco some two centuries later. Towards the end of his life, this is how Francis saw his time: “The world is becoming so delicate that, in a little while, no one will dare any longer to touch it except with velvet gloves, or tend its wounds except with perfumed bandages; yet what does it matter, if only men and women are healed and finally saved? Charity, our queen, does everything for her children.” This, the Pope remarks “was no pious platitude or an expression of resignation in the face of defeat.” Rather, “it was a realization that the world was changing and the mark of a completely evangelical sense of the need to respond to those changes.” Thus, even when confronting Protestants, St Francis de Sales “came to realize increasingly, along with the need for theological discussion, the effectiveness of personal relationships and charity.” He was a “skilful controversialist” when discussing with Calvinists, but also a man of dialogue, an inventor of original pastoral practices, such as the famous “affiches,” short pamphlets posted everywhere and even slipped under the doors of houses. And this is the reason why he was chosen as the patron saint of journalists.

The second part of the Apostolic Letter looks into the legacy of St Francis de Sales for our times, revisiting some of “the crucial decisions he made, so that we for our part can respond to today’s changes with the wisdom born of the Gospel.” The first of those decisions was to “reinterpret and propose anew to each man and woman the beauty of our relationship with God.” Divine Providence draws our hearts to God’s love, he writes, without any imposition, “chains of iron,” but “by invitations, enticements and holy inspirations”. This “persuasiveness,” the Pope notes, “respects our human freedom.” The second crucial choice Saint Francis made was to approach the issue of devotion. Here too, as in our own days, the dawning of a new age had raised a number of questions. At the beginning of the Introduction to the Devout Life, the saintly bishop clarifies the meaning of devotion, noting that “unless you can distinguish true devotion, you can fall into error and waste your time running after some useless and superstitious devotion.” The French saint cites several examples of false devotion: from those who consecrate their lives to fasting and believe they are devout because they don’t eat or drink, “but will not scruple to drench their tongues in the blood of their neighbours through gossip and slander,” to those who “mumble a string of prayers, yet remain heedless of the evil, arrogant and hurtful.” There are also those who are willing to give alms to the poor but cannot wring an ounce of mercy from their hearts to forgive their enemies. True devotion, on the other hand, said St Francis de Sales, is “none other than a genuine love of God a manifestation of charity, therefore far from being “something abstract,” Pope Francis clarifies. This is why “Those who think that devotion is restricted to some quiet and secluded setting are greatly mistaken”: “Devotion is meant for everyone, in every situation, and each of us can practice it in accordance with our own vocation,” Pope Francis stresses. “To live in the midst of the secular city while nurturing the interior life, to combine the desire for perfection with every state of life, and to discover an interior peace that does not separate us from the world but teaches us how to live in it and to appreciate it, but also to maintain a proper detachment from it. That was the aim of Francis de Sales, and it remains a valuable lesson for men and women in our own time.”

In the last part of the letter, entitled “The Ecstasy of Life,” Pope Francis summarizes his thoughts on the life of St Francis de Sales by remarking that “those who think they are rising to God, yet fail to love their neighbour, are deceiving both themselves and others”. Instead, Christian life is discovering the joy of loving, and “the source of this love that attracts the heart is the life of Jesus Christ” Who gave His life for us. “Saint Francis de Sales, then, while the Christian life is never without ecstasy, ecstasy is inauthentic apart from a truly Christian life. Indeed, life without ecstasy risks being reduced to blind obedience, a Gospel bereft of joy. On the other hand, ecstasy without life easily falls prey to the illusions and deceptions of the Evil one. The great polarities of the Christian life cannot be resolved and eliminated. If anything, each preserves the authenticity of the other. Truth, then, does not exist without justice, pleasure without responsibility, spontaneity without law, and vice versa.”

Dr. Rowan Williams praises Pope Benedict XVI

Vatican and World

abp rowan williams westminster cathedral

Last Tuesday, 24th January in Westminster Cathedral, a service of ecumenical Vespers was held to celebrate the life of Pope Benedict XVI and to pray for the repose of his soul. The event was attended by representatives of different Christian denominations, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, as well as delegates from other faith groups. Cardinal Vincent Nichols presided over the service which was also attended by a number of Catholic bishops from England and Wales, as well as the Anglican Archbishop of York and Bishop of London. At the service, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, gave a moving address. He said: “Pope Benedict taught us much about respect. The deep gestures of respect which he offered to those in other Christian unions, the deep gestures of respect with which he approached other religious families, will stay in mind.” He also lauded Pope Benedict’s “unwillingness to accept any theology which has as its centre anything other than the gift of God in Christ.”

‘Love each other as much as brothers should and have a profound respect for each other.’ (Romans 12:10)
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. To be brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ is to recognise that our connections are connections of love; that the deepest of the gifts we have to exchange with one another is love; that we are conjoined in the Body, so that our love will give life. And if we are to give life to one another, we must know and be able to speak about that which gives us unity. This means a unity which is not simply a set of compromise formulae, not simply a set of pained but highly successful negotiations, but a deep and grateful sense that we receive life from our neighbours, in the first instance from our neighbours in the Body of Christ, but also from our neighbours who belong to the wider human family but are all welcomed to oneness in the sight and in the love of almighty God.

Pope Benedict believed with all his mind and heart in unity of that kind. He was not a man for easy ecumenical settlements, not a man for doctrinal compromise. And yet precisely because he believed that the Church existed simply because of the call of God in Jesus Christ, he was able to direct our thoughts and our prayers constantly to that deep level of connection and mutual gift in which alone we can flourish as Christ’s friends, Christ’s brothers and sisters, and ultimately, as those who, together in the human family, reflect God’s own glory to God as God’s image and likeness.

To approach Pope Benedict in this way is perhaps to begin to make sense of two aspects of his thinking and his witness which will be of lasting value to all the communities that call themselves Christian – and, we hope and pray, all communities that call themselves human.

The first has to do with the way Pope Benedict did his theology. Often misunderstood as simply being conservative, Pope Benedict’s deepest theological commitments belong in that great theological movement in the middle of the last century which sought for ressourcement: going back to the sources. Going back to those resources of understanding, imagination, prayer, and thought which the early centuries of the Church had developed. Those resources, especially within the time frame of the first millennium, remain deeply alive and life-giving for all Christians. In returning, along with many theologians of that school, especially in France but also in Germany, to those sources, Pope Benedict was in effect saying that for us as Christians, one of the greatest, most significant priorities is that we are able to recognise one another’s language as grounded in that formative experience of the Church’s youth. The Church’s youth. Is that a turn of phrase we use very often, which comes to mind in looking at the Christian community? Not always, it has to be said, in the practical life of congregations. And yet, the early Church is the young Church; and when we return to the vision of the first Christians, we are not reverting to something that is old, but identifying ourselves with something that is new, something that is fresh with the newness of the Gospel and the theology that flows from it.

In Pope Benedict’s three great encyclicals on faith, hope, and charity, you can see the youth of the Church at work. Those three models of theological composition and exposition seek to draw out, in the full light of traditional exegesis, prayer and understanding, the riches of the scriptural vision of life lived in faith, hope and love. They are not weighed down by scholarship, though they are impregnated with it. They are not neatly scholastic, though they are closely reasoned. In those texts as a whole, we hear Pope Benedict as teacher and preacher to the Body of Christ. ‘If your gift is teaching then use it for teaching, let the preachers deliver sermons.’ And so he did. His gift for teaching, his gift for preaching, was indeed a recall of the Church to its youth.

A second aspect of his thinking which again, I believe, is of lasting and profound value is the emphasis he placed upon human reason. A strange thing to insist on, we might say, at a time when we’ve been taught to be very suspicious of ‘rationalism’ both by believers and unbelievers. But remember where Pope Benedict’s theological inspiration comes from. It comes from an era in the life of the Church when ‘reason’ was seen not as a tool of argument, but as a vehicle of vision. It was our capacity to reason that allowed us to behold and wonder at the world together, to see the order of creation and to participate joyfully in it. A human family which does not believe in reason is a family terminally and fatally divided – not because some people know how to argue better than others but because we’ve lost sight of the notion that what God gives us is the capacity to listen to one another and learn from one another in a common world. Without that gift of reasoned, ordered language that we share with one another, we shan’t ultimately share the same world. We shall retreat into our corners. We shall battle for our victories.

Pope Benedict’s approach to those outside the Christian Body and outside the Roman Catholic Church was deeply rooted in that vision of the possibility for human beings to talk to one another, to listen to one another, to wonder at the world together. ‘Come and let us reason together’, says the Lord to Isaiah in prophecy and it’s a reasonable conclusion – as you might say – that the Lord doesn’t mean ‘let us argue together’. Let us reason together, let us explore together, let us find together what it is that makes us human, in the firm hope and the confidence that there truly is a humanity we share. As Pope Benedict approached other communities of faith, he did so with this hope and confidence that we could find a way of reasoning together.

When Pope Benedict, in the earlier part of his career, worked in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he was seen by many – famously or notoriously – as a watchdog of orthodoxy; ‘God’s Rottweiler’, as was sometimes said. And yet if you examine what Pope Benedict actually had to say about the theologies about which he was unhappy, again and again what seems to come into focus is his unwillingness to accept any theology which had as its centre anything other than the gift of God in Christ. He believed deeply and consistently that a theology that depended for its criteria, its hopes and its categories, on anything other than what God had given us, was a theology which would end up being another tool of ideology, of exclusion, of privilege and conflict. And as he exposes his theology in the three great encyclicals, this is the vision he wants to share. This is what binds the believing community together. It may express itself in and ally itself with the languages of other visions and other philosophies from time to time; yet, what is it that makes it the daily bread of a believing community? Only Christ, the Bread of Life, at its heart.

So as we look back at the life, the witness and the teaching of Pope Benedict, these are two of the themes which we are to dwell on, to celebrate, and to learn from. Looking back to the youth of the Church, not in an idealised vision of primitive purity (it’s not as if the first millennium of the Church was entirely free from conflict…), but looking back to those years when the novelty and excitement of what Christ had done drove people to those great flights of inspired reasoning which gave us the creeds and the councils. Out of that youthfulness of Christ-centred doctrine, we can find the energy and the confidence to speak to one another as Christians, even across the deep divides and hurts of the centuries that have elapsed since then. And then, as we as Christians turn to the wider world, turn to our brothers and sisters of other religious confessions, the question in our minds should be, how shall we reason together? How shall we recognise the world we share? And in recognising the world we share, recognising the respect we can exchange? ‘Love each other as much as brothers should and have a profound respect for each other.’

Pope Benedict taught us much about respect. The deep gestures of respect which he offered to those in other Christian communions, the deep gestures of respect with which he approached other religious families will stay in the mind. He was aware that, in the Church he led and served, respect was not always historically so visible; and he was willing more than once to say where some in the Church had failed in respect, and failed in faithfulness to those God had given them as partners and brothers and sisters.

May God then renew us in the youth of the Church. May God teach us afresh what it is to be overwhelmed by the discovery of the newness of God’s act in Christ, so that our words and our thoughts, our minds and our hearts, take wing by the guiding of the Spirit. May God renew in us that life-giving word and reason, that wisdom which gently and peacefully pervades all things, so that we may find a language in which to speak and listen, and to begin to build a world in which we are delivered from that death-dealing separation which God’s work, constantly throughout history, seeks to overcome. May God bring us, in that constant prayer which the Apostle recommends to us, to the unity of the human family in the vision of the Almighty, the vision in which faith and hope and love set us free to live the divine liberty for which we are created, that divine liberty for which our departed brother Benedict so laboured and which he so loved.

Freedom of Religion

Vatican and World

freedom of religion

Speaking on behalf of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, Bishop John Sherrington, Lead Bishop for Life Issues, has reaffirmed a resolution passed by the Bishops at their November 2022 plenary meeting, highlighting concerns with current and proposed legislation on the issue of ‘Buffer Zones’ around abortion clinics.

On 30th January the Government’s Public Order Bill enters the report stage in the House of Lords. Clause 9, which was an amendment to the Bill in the House of Commons last autumn, introduces the ‘offence of interference with access to or provision of abortion services’. This clause will criminalise a range of activities within a 150m radius of an abortion service, under the broad premise of ‘interference’. Problematic for freedom of religion, expression, and association, are many of the terms. These include: ‘seeks to influence’, ‘persistently, continuously or repeatedly occupies,’, ‘advises or persuades, attempts to advise or persuade, or otherwise expresses opinion’. Clause 9 could extend trends seen at a local level, where Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) in Bournemouth and Birmingham have set a dangerous precedent and banned, amongst other activities, prayer and the recitation of Scripture. Recent police actions have further exacerbated the concerns of Catholic bishops, and many others, regarding the broad legislative proposal of Clause 9 and its implications for freedom of religion, belief, expression, and association. The interpretation of terms such as ‘seeks to influence’ could make prayer, certain types of thought, and even mere presence a criminal offence in a public place.

There is a risk, despite any other intent, that existing and proposed measures constitute discrimination and disproportionately have an impact on people of religious faith. Its implications extend beyond the perimeters of an abortion service and raise questions about the state’s powers in relation to the individual in a free society, both those with faith and those without. All harassment and intimidation of women is to be condemned. Moreover, as accepted in a 2018 Home Office Review, there are already laws and mechanisms in place to protect women from such unacceptable behaviour and so render this Clause unnecessary and excessive.

The Catholic bishops, and many others, hold religious liberty to be essential for the flourishing and the realisation of the dignity of every human person and recognise it as a foundational freedom of any free and democratic society.

Upcoming Events

Rite of Election and the Call to Continuing Conversion

Upcoming events

rite of election

On Saturday, 25th February at 11:00 am, we will be gathering at the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist to celebrate the Rite of Election and the Call to Continuing Conversion. Pope Francis, in his message for Lent in 2021 remarked “…every moment of our lives is a time for believing, hoping and loving. The call to experience Lent as a journey of conversion, prayer and sharing our goods, helps us – as communities and as individuals – to revive the faith that comes from the living Christ, the hope inspired by the breath of the Holy Spirit and the love following form the merciful heart of the Father.” Our spiritual life, or our relationship with God, is a life time project. Conversion, or change of heart, is part of this ongoing process. We have the sacraments to help us along this journey. The people of the Diocese of Portsmouth are invited to celebrate in prayer and fellowship another step along the journey of those seeking either Baptism or full Communion with the Church. The Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion is not only ratifying the catechumens’ (those to be baptised) and candidates’ (those to be received into full communion) readiness for their participation in the sacraments, but most importantly, as a witness for all believers of the longing desire for communion with Jesus Christ and his Body, the Church, as a universal sacrament for the salvation of all the world. The Christian life is a journey of conversion, and this liturgy reminds us of this reality. In addition, the liturgical season of Lent highlights this reality. We would like to invite the faithful of the Diocese, and not just the catechumens and candidates and their sponsors, to witness this special moment, for it to be a reminder for all of us of our continuous pilgrimage to fullness of life in Jesus Christ.

A new Apostolate of Faith Formation

Upcoming events

dominican sisters

The Dominican Sisters in Lymington have launched their new apostolate of Faith formation, Light of Truth, in September. Their courses and events for adults and catechists are free and available to everyone in the diocese. 

Since September 2022, they have run 12 online courses attended by a total of 214 participants, and 22 events in-person in parishes and schools, in our diocese and beyond. They are hugely grateful to those who, through their generosity, make it possible for them to offer their courses and events for free. In the next couple of months, a number of their courses will be on offer, especially:

Communication Course:  ‘Sending word, sharing the Word’:  three online sessions beginning on  Wednesday 8th March to help you communicate with confidence today and every day. From parish newsletters to the pulpit, this course will give you the ability to communicate with confidence. Our communications expert will show you tools and techniques that are easy to learn and practical to use. See here for details.

If you’re looking for a Focus for Lent, the Dominican Sisters are running six online sessions, beginning on Tuesday 28th February, explaining the sacrament of Reconciliation to adults through scripture and art, which will also serve as a Lenten retreat, every Tuesday evening during Lent. See here for details.

Finally, to mark the 60th anniversary of Vatican II Council, the Dominican Sisters are launching a new monthly course, beginning on Friday 24th February, to introduce the Council documents in a simple way, for everyone. See here for details.

All their courses are free, but donations are welcome! To find out more about everything on currently offer click here.


Upcoming events


On Saturday 4th March a Diocesan contingent, led by Bishop Philip will be travelling to Wembley Arena to attend the biggest Catholic Youth Event in the country: Flame 2023, which is always an awesome and inspiring experience. All young people in school year 9 or above, attached to your parish, school or university are welcome to join us for a great day out. Artists at Flame now include One Hope Project’s Adeniké who was a semi-finalist in the 2020 series of The Voice under mentor and coach WILL.I.AM, Faith Child and Cardinal Tagle a very inspirational speaker from the Philippines. There are only a few days left to take advantage of the discounted tickets, priced £27 each, available from youth@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk. Transport by coach from St John’s Cathedral in Portsmouth to the venue has now been arranged. Seats on the coach are £30 each must be booked via youth@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk.  Book NOW to avoid disappointment. Click here for a poster with more details.

Family Day of Reflection

Upcoming events

family day of reflection

Catholic Mothers Southampton invite you to a Family Day of Reflection in Lent…

The Catholic Mothers Southampton group, who meet on Friday mornings at Holy Family Church, Millbrook on a Friday morning, invite you to join them for their family day of reflection on Saturday 11th March, hosted by the Dominican Sisters of St Joseph. The day is for families, not just mothers, with children aged up to around 7/8. There will be sessions for the children and parents, as well as the celebration of Mass, fellowship and plenty of fun. We will just ask for a donation towards costs of the day and for the generosity of the Sisters.  For more information or to book a place, please email catholicmotherssoton@gmail.com. You can download a poster by clicking here.

Accompaniment – Learning to Listen to others

Upcoming events


Liza Nahajski, Leader of our Ananias and Intercession (Pre-Discipleship) Team speaks about a new Zoom series on Monday evenings starting on Monday 13th March

Whatever your involvement in the life of the Church or with family or friends who are drifting towards or away from the church, you will almost certainly be having spiritual conversations from time to time. Ananias training helps develop an understanding of the spiritual journey and how generous listening, with greater awareness of another person’s unique journey, can open people to growth. We will be offering sessions on Zoom on Monday evenings, 7-9pm, starting on Monday 13th March. If you would like to know more, reserve a place or if you would like to organise sessions for a group in your parish contact lnahajski@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk.

Please visit our webpage https://www.sacredhearthook.org/journey-together.

Social Action

Thank you Parish Volunteers

Social Action


Jo Lewry would like to say thank you to all the parish volunteers who held fundraising events in their parishes in 2022 and asks could you have a go at fundraising in 2023?

From cake sales to plant sales to soup lunches our amazing parish volunteers not only promote our fast days but also organise fundraising events. In fact, you don’t even have to be a parish volunteer to fundraise for CAFOD!  We have lots of fun and unusual ideas for fundraising here on our website. If you prefer to take on a sponsored challenge don’t forget our BIG Lent walk walking 5ks for the 40 days of Lent starts on Ash Wednesday, 22nd February and you can sign up here. We also have opportunities to take part marathons and ultra-challenges more information here. So, whatever you are in to whether it is baking cakes, making soup, growing plants, walking, or running 26 miles you can use your skills and talents to raise money for those living in poverty overseas. Together we can make a difference in 2023!

Pictured are Maureen and Marie-Claude from Our Lady Queen of Peace Southbourne holding an Advent cake sale.   


The Cross Exemplifies Every Virtue


christ the vine

Here is a reflection by St. Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274) on how the Cross of Christ exemplifies every virtue. It appeared in the Office of Readings for last Saturday, the memorial of St. Thomas, and is reproduced here for your prayer and reflection.

“Why did the Son of God have to suffer for us? There was a great need, and it can be considered in a twofold way: in the first place, as a remedy for sin, and secondly, as an example of how to act. It is a remedy, for, in the face of all the evils which we incur on account of our sins, we have found relief through the passion of Christ. Yet, it is no less an example, for the passion of Christ completely suffices to fashion our lives. Whoever wishes to live perfectly should do nothing but disdain what Christ disdained on the cross and desire what he desired, for the cross exemplifies every virtue.
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The Three Pillars of Lent: (1) Introduction



This year, Lent begins on 22nd February and so this week, Fr. Anthony Barratt, parish priest of Hudson NY and a frequent contributor to e-News, begins a short mini-series of four articles on the Three Pillars of Lent. Here, he explains what this project is all about.

In this brief series, we will spend a little time reflecting on the wonderful season of Lent, especially what we might call the three “pillars” of Lent: prayer, fasting and almsgiving/acts of charity. These are pointed out by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount and we hear them in the Gospel for Ash Wednesday (Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-18). They form the backbone of our Lenten practices and journey. Cardinal Francis George summed up well the purpose of these three pillars when he wrote: “Almsgiving, fasting and prayer are all ways to empty ourselves, to create a space in our lives where God can do what he wants with us.” However, before we explore these pillars in more detail, it might be useful to step back for a moment and to have an overview of this special season. After all, Lent is a season with many levels and aspects: a very rich season indeed! Lent is also very much about what we might call “going back to the basics”: we are quite simply invited by Jesus to renew our faith, our hope and our love as his disciples.

Of course, Lent is about doing extra things or making sacrifices, but perhaps we can also think of it as an intensification and refocusing of our spiritual lives:  of building on what is there already and of developing good spiritual habits.  In this way, all the good that we do can be carried on once the season ends.  It would be a great pity if all the progress that we may have made during Lent evaporated on Easter Sunday! The word in English “Lent” in fact comes from the old Anglo-Saxon word for Spring; for the season is indeed a time of renewal and rebirth.

Lent is also a journey, “40 days and 40 nights…” as the hymn states.  Every journey needs a destination and so Lent is a journey “to climb the holy mountain of Easter”. It is important to remember that we do not take this journey alone.  First of all, we have the company of Jesus who encourages and urges us on.  In a way, we accompany him through his temptations (1st Sunday), his transfiguration (2nd Sunday), his public ministry and signs of who Jesus is (3rd, 4th, 5th Sundays) and especially in his last journey to the cross and resurrection (Palm Sunday, Holy Week & Easter).  We also make the journey of Lent with all our brothers and sisters throughout the world. What we do here in our parishes and communities in each Diocese, people throughout the world (and for many generations too) also do or have done. This is quite a thought!!  Our particular friends on this journey are our candidates and catechumens in the various RCIA programs, as they prepare for Easter. Do keep them and the RCIA teams in your special prayers.

Lent is very much a “penitential season”; that is a time of purification and a renewed sense of conversion. We symbolize this is many ways. We have purple vestments at Mass, the music can have a particular tone and flavour, and the church is decorated very simply. On Ash Wednesday we even follow a very ancient custom of having ashes put on our foreheads, or sprinkled upon us. This ritual action is mentioned a number of times in the Old Testament as a sign of penitence, or of mourning.  This time of penance and conversion really involves a double action, as the words said when we receive the ashes remind us: “repent and believe in the Gospel.” Penance and conversion then mean both an acknowledgement of the need for forgiveness (repentance) and a resolution to overcome faults and failings, and therefore to grow spiritually and to live in Christ (believing…that is really believing, in the Gospel).

It also means deepening our faith, hope and love, and being faithful to God by the sort of person we are and the life that we live.  If one thinks about it, it is no coincidence that the word “conversion” is very close to the word conversation.  In this sense, our continued conversion is really about developing our conversation with God: of being ever more open to God’s presence and power and of deepening our relationship with Him.

Our three pillars of Lent are key ways that, with God’s grace, all this can happen. Brant Pitre, in his book Introduction to the Spiritual Life, also notes how these three pillars tie in with the Gospel on the First Sunday of Lent about Jesus facing Satan and the three temptations in the desert (Matthew 4: 1-11). In fact, Pitre goes further, reflecting a very ancient Christian tradition, by making another crucial connection. He writes that the three temptations of Jesus actually reflect the three temptations that Adam and Eve faced in the Garden of Eden (see the First Reading for the First Sunday in Lent Year A, Genesis 2: 7-9, 3: 1-7). These three temptations (and corresponding vices) are about a “disordered human desire for pleasure, possessions and pride.” The three pillars of Lent are, therefore, like a powerful antidote to combat these three foundational temptations and vices.

So let us pray for each other that we will journey well during this holy season of Lent. May we indeed repent and believe the Gospel. May our conversation with God will grow and deepen. May our prayer, fasting and almsgiving make that extra space for God in our lives, so that he will fill us even more with His gifts. Only those gifts will help us face temptations and our demons. May this Lent be indeed a true “spring-time” for us all.

Septuagesima and the ‘Gesimas



Have you ever heard of Septuagesima Sunday or Sexagesima Sunday? Or for that matter, Quinquagesima or even Quadragesima? You never know which quiz these names might come up in, so now you will be forearmed with the right answers!

In the Church’s Liturgical Calendar that was in use prior to 1969, we would now be in the pre-Lent preparation period. The Third Sunday before the beginning of Lent was called Septuagesima Sunday, Septuagesima literally meaning “seventieth” in Latin, that is, 70 days until Easter (although in fact there are only 63 days). The next Sunday, the Second Sunday before Lent, was called Sexagesima Sunday, that is, 60 days before Easter and the following Sunday, the one before Ash Wednesday, was called Quinquagesima meaning “fiftieth” or 50 days until Easter. (In fact, there were 49 days). The First Sunday of Lent itself was called Quadragesima Sunday (40 days til Easter). These names date back to a time when it was common for Christians to begin the Lenten fast immediately after Septuagesima Sunday. Just as Lent today begins 46 days before Easter – since Sundays are not days of fasting – so, in the early Church, Saturdays and Thursdays were considered fast-free days. So in order to fit in 40 days of fasting before Easter, the fast had to start three weeks earlier. These pre-Lent Sundays are still observed in celebrations of Mass according to the 1962 Missal, but they were removed when the liturgical calendar was revised in 1969, in order to underline and focus on the forty days and forty nights of Lent and the fasting associated with it. In the post-1969 Missal, Sundays, which always celebrate the Lord’s resurrection – even in Lent – are not fast days.

Read the Catechism in a Year



In response to countless requests, Ascension Press launched The Catechism in a Year (with Fr. Mike Schmitz) on 1st January, 2023. It’s not too late to join: sign up and find out more details here. With this podcast, Catholics will read the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church in 365 days, understand the essentials of the Catholic Faith and why they matter, see how Church teaching is rooted in Sacred Scripture, absorb over 2,000 years of Sacred Tradition, encounter God’s plan of sheer goodness, and transform their relationship with the Church that Christ founded. If you have ever wanted to understand what it means to be Catholic and allow those truths to shape your life—this podcast is for you! Click here to hear Fr. Mike Schmitz introduce this excellent project.

Frassati on Good Health


pgf verso l alto

Earlier this week, Wanda Gawronska, the niece of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, emailed me with a testimony about his charity. There is a book of testimonies called Mio Fratello Pier Giorgio, la Carita, which unfortunately is only available in Italian currently but which hopefully one day will also be available in English. The testimony is by Teresa Vigna.

“Together we used to visit the lepers in the Hospital of Saint Lazaro in Turin. One day we found a young boy around 20 years old with his face marred by leprosy. Pier Giorgio remained impressed by the sight of this  young boy with an exuberant body, already totally defeated by sickness. “You see” he said “what an enormous gift it is to be in good health as we are”. A moment later he added. “Also, the deformation of this young boy will disappear when in a few years he will reach Heaven. Therefore, we have the duty of putting our health at the service of those who do not possess it. To act otherwise would be to betray this great gift of God and His benevolence.”

And, Finally...

And finally…Where is this?

And finally

where 395

How well do you know our diocese? In this feature we share photos from around the Diocese of Portsmouth. Your challenge is to tell us where they can be found…

Last week’s challenge was to identify this beautiful stonework pelican which can be found surmounting the tabernacle at St Edward’s church in Windsor. Thanks to Canon John Cooke for the photo.

This week’s challenge is to identify the sanctuary of a church somewhere else in the Diocese, but where is this? Just email your answer to Deacon Craig by Friday 3rd February for a mention in the next issue.

When you write in with your guess, why not send a photo of a feature from your own church for us to use in a future issue?


Diocesan Prayer Intentions



Each day of the year the liturgical calendar gives us a variety of seasons and celebrations of saints. These are outlined in the Diocesan Ordo along with a daily prayer for a diocesan intention. I would like to encourage you to add these intentions to your daily prayers. You can find the daily intentions for February here. They are also published daily on our Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Please pray for…


child with her father and a rosary bw

Please pray for the Renewal of our Diocese, for Vocations and for these intentions.  Click here if you have a prayer intention you would like our Diocesan Intercessory Prayer Team to pray for.

Job Opportunities

Job Opportunities…



The following positions are currently available within the Diocese of Portsmouth…

Part time 
– 18 hours per week
Salary – £16,500 per annum
Based in Sandhurst, Berkshire

An opportunity has arisen for an experienced and compassionate professional to work within the Department for Clergy to provide coordinated support to clergy with a special focus on retiring, retired and sick clergy within the Diocese.

Hours: 30 hours per week 
(9.00am – 4.00pm). Term time only (39 weeks per year), based in Portsmouth
Salary: £12,296 per annum depending on skills and experience.
Closing date for applications: Friday 27th January 2023, 9am

CASO provides support and advice on all matters to do with the Catholic life of our 70 schools and academies. This ranges from the recruitment of school leaders, governors, and directors to the training and on-going support for teachers and leaders, as well as liaison with all statutory bodies involved with our schools. You would act as the first point of contact for our schools. No two days are ever the same.

St Peter and the Winchester Martyrs Parish, Winchester

Part time: 21 hours per week, including weekends and major feasts (for Masses)
Contract type: 18 months, fixed term contract
Salary: Competitive. Further details on enquiry.
Closing date for applications: Thursday 16th February 2023, 12 Noon

St Peter’s is a busy and thriving city centre church, one of 4 churches in the Catholic parish of St Peter and the Winchester Martyrs (Winchester, Alresford and Stockbridge).  It has a tradition of music, which in the past has included an adult SATB choir and a Youth Choir, contemporary music groups, and several volunteer organists and cantors. We are now seeking an experienced pastoral musician to build and grow a strong music team at St Peter’s, while also developing existing volunteer music leaders in their own roles and skills.

Holy Family, Southampton

Part time – 15 hours per week
Salary – £11.50 per hour
Hours of work: part time 15 per week, days and times as agreed with the Parish Priest (Fr Benjamin Theobald)
Closing date for applications: Wednesday 8th February 2023, 12 noon.

The parish of Southampton Holy Family, based at Redbridge Hill, Millbrook, Southampton are seeking to appoint a Pastoral and Finance Administrator to work 15 hours per week to provide administrative and financial support for the parish.

Holy Family, Southampton

Part Time – 6 hours per week
Salary – £10.50 per hour
Hours of work: part time 6 per week, days and times as agreed with the Parish Priest (Fr Benjamin Theobald).
Closing date for applications: Wednesday 8th February 2023, 12 noon

The parish of Southampton Holy Family, based at Redbridge Hill, Millbrook, Southampton are seeking to appoint a part time Cleaner to work 6 hours per week to clean the Presbytery and Parish Office.

There are also some vacancies at Andover Foodbank which helps those in crisis across the Test Valley.  It does this by providing emergency food boxes and other items in partnership with local agencies and charities.


We’re looking for an energetic, self-motivated, and resourceful individual to take on the role of Head of Andover Foodbank. This is a demanding but rewarding post which offers the opportunity to be part of a local charitable operation with significant social impact. You will be making an important contribution to your community and helping local people.

The position is part-time, 25 hours per week, Monday to Friday based around the opening hours of 9:00-13:00. Flexibility in hours is required. You will need to undertake a DBS check.

VOLUNTEER MANAGER – Andover foodbank

We’re looking for an energetic, self-motivated, and resourceful individual to take on the role of Volunteer Manager. This is a demanding but rewarding post which offers the opportunity to be part of a local charitable operation with significant social impact. You will be making an important contribution to your community and helping local people.

The position is part-time, 12 hours per week, Monday to Friday within the opening hours of 9:00-13:00. Flexibility in hours is required. You will need to undertake a DBS check.

For further details and to apply for advertised positions, please click here.

There are a number of opportunities in our Diocesan schools which can be found here.

Share Your Events and News...

Share your Events and Good News…


girl smiling on the telephone
We like to share news of what’s happening across the diocese and try to include a broad range of news and reflective articles, but please note the following:
  • The Editorial Team reserve the right to edit any submitted articles prior to publication, or not to use them.
  • Publication of submitted articles cannot always be guaranteed.
  • Due to space, articles are not always published immediately and may be held in reserve for future use.
  • If you would like us to advertise an event connected to the diocese for you, we would be very happy to do so, but please submit the details in good time.
  • Publication of an article does not necessarily reflect the views of either the Editor nor of the Bishop.
  • Please e-mail all news items and details of forthcoming events to executiveassistant@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk. The deadline for copy for consideration for the next issue is Friday 3rd February.
  • Please send news as plain text (e.g. in an email or Word document) and images (landscape) as attachments rather than embedded in a document. Thank you.

Next Issue

Next Issue


With all good wishes and an assurance of my prayers,

In Corde Iesu

Bishop of Portsmouth

Deadline for submission of items for consideration for the next issue is Friday 3rd February 2023.

Please click here to send an item for consideration.