St Rita of Cascia

James 4.13-17; Psalm 48; Mark 9.38-40

St Rita (1381-1457) was born in the village of Roccaporena, in the Province of Umbria.  She was married to a rich, quick-tempered and immoral man, Paolo Mancini, to whom she bore two sons.  Rita suffered his abuses with patience and prayer and her efforts evidently paid off with Paolo’s renunciation of a family feud known as La Vendetta.  Nevertheless he was violently stabbed to death by a member of the feuding family.

At her husband’s funeral Rita gave a public pardon to his murderers.  She then sought to enter a convent, but as a condition she was required to reconcile the feuding families.  She invoked the prayers of her three patron saints—St John the Baptist, St Augustine of Hippo, and
St Nicholas of Tolentino—and she set about the task of reconciling the families of Cascia.  She succeeded in her endeavours and at the age of 36 was admitted to the convent.  (Pious legends declared that her three patron saints had levitated her over the convent walls.)  She spent the next 40 years dedicated to prayer, contemplation and service to the sick and the poor.   She is the patron of abused wives and heartbroken women.  

St Christopher Magallanes and Companions, Martyrs

James 4.1-10; Psalm 54; Mark 9.30-37

A new Constitution for Mexico, issued in 1917, placed draconian restrictions on Christianity, with the absurd goal of eradicating Catholicism from the country (the Governor of the Mexican state of Tabasco was said to be so anti-Catholic that he named his three sons Lenin, Satan, and Lucifer); these restrictions were vehemently enforced during the 1920s, prompting a protest movement of some brave priests who became known as the ‘Cristero’ movement, from their slogan ‘Long live Christ the King and the Virgin of Guadalupe.’  The ‘Cristero War’ forms the background for Graham Greene’s novel The Power and the Glory, though his ‘whisky priest’ is a fictional creation.

St Christopher Magallanes (1869-1927) is one of 22 Mexican priests and 3 laymen who were martyred by shooting or hanging between 1915 and 1937.  St Christopher had built an illegal seminary for the training of priests at Totatiche.   He had fed Christ’s own sheep and was arrested whilst walking to a nearby village to celebrate mass.  The following day he was shot to death by a firing squad.  He died with words of forgiveness on his lips for his executioners.

Thursday of the 7th week of Eastertide

Acts 22:30,​23:6-11; Psalm 15(16):1-2,5,7-11; John 17:20-26

Today we hear the final part of "the high priestly prayer of Jesus' - the long conversation our Lord had just before the events of the crucifixion unfold.

In case the message from John for Easter has passed you by, then we have had it again in spades this week. God Loves us, and we must Love one another. That is enough, and all we need to do.

Sadly, we humans have not exhibited a wholly united call to this the main message from Jesus - and we have a widely scattered Christian family as a result. We should pray often that we might all be re-united - not necessarily into one single church structure, but certainly into one family of God, held together in His endless love.

Wednesday of the 7th week of Eastertide

Todays' gospel contains some challenges! Judas of course, betrayed Jesus. In this gospel passage, we hear when Jesus is apparently talking about the apostles, that "

not one is lost
except the one who chose to be lost,
and this was to fulfil the scriptures.

"

which perhaps suggests that Judas was not to receive salvation through the sacrifice of the Cross. We do know there is only one unforgivable sin - we hear of this in Matt 12 - which there is described as blasphemy against the spirit. But note - this passage is BEFORE the crucifixion and before the betrayal by Judas. It will be interesting to see what the new lectionary translation offers for this Gospel - other translations have 'the son of destruction' {rather than the one who 'chose to be lost'} which points more directly to the evil one - the Devil. The Devil of course took control of Judas ultimately leading to his death - but we know the devil will not have control over the earth for all time! And not full control either!

Jesus is in control, and saves us all, and we hope, to meet Judas in heaven one day.

Saint Matthias, Apostle – Feast

Acts 1:15-17,​20-26; Psalm 112(113):1-8; John 15:9-17

I call you friends, says the Lord...

because I have made known to you everything that comes from the Father.

So - this life is all about relationship - and a living relationship of Love, that Jesus has enabled us to share in. Like all relationships this takes work (on both sides). We can be sure that God will be working for us, we need to ensure that we do our part. Jesus makes very clear using a repetition (v 12 and v17) to reinforce the message, that what we are asked to do is to love one another.

We are reminded of the message from Mk 12:28 in which Jesus is asked - 'which is the greatest commandment' - and in his extended answer, Jesus makes clear that if we love one another as God loves us, then none of the other commandments really matter, as we would become incapable of breaking them in any case.

Today is the feast of St Matthias, the apostle chosen by prayer and the interaction of the Holy Spirit, to replace Judas. As Fr David reminded us in Sunday's homily (11:15 Mass) the Bishops, of all the Catholic Churches, are direct descendants of the first 12 apostles and carry on the apostolic mission to this day.
O God, who assigned Saint Matthias
a place in the college of Apostles,
grant us, through his intercession,
that, rejoicing at how your love has been allotted to us,
we may merit to be numbered among the elect.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever.

Monday of the 7th week of Eastertide

Acts 19:1-8; Psalm 67(68):2-7; John 16:29-33

Today is also an optional feast of Our Lady of Fatima. Many thousands of pilgrims make their way each year to Fatima, and some aspects of their journey were reported in the documentary series 'Pilgrimage' from BBC recently - well worth a look if you have time.

  This feast commemorates the visions of Our Lady seen near Fátima in Portugal in 1917 by three shepherd children, Lúcia dos Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto. The visions occurred on the 13th day of each month from May to October, and by October huge crowds were gathering at the site of the visions and reporting visions and miraculous occurrences themselves.
  Pope John Paul II was devoted to Our Lady of Fátima and attributed his survival of an assassin’s bullet on 13 May 1981 to her intervention. Jacinta and Francisco Marto, who died in the great Spanish Flu pandemic of 1919-20, were beatified on 13 May 2000.

Saturday of the Week of Easter 6

Acts 18.23-28; Psalm 46; John 16.23-28

The days between Ascension Day and Pentecost have traditionally been a time of intense prayer, following the example of the disciples and friends of Jesus, including Mary his mother. [Acts 1.14] Indeed the novena was originally the name for those nine days of prayer and expectation.

“Until now you have not asked for anything in my name,” Jesus remarked to his disciples, just minutes before he would be arrested and they scattered in confusion.  “Ask, and you will receive.”

Our prayers must be in accord with God’s will. [cf Matthew 26.42] In fact we will find that when by prayer we have been perfectly united with him it is his Holy Spirit who will pray for us [Romans 8.26-27] and those prayers will be answered in ways past our ability to ask or to imagine. [Ephesians 3.20]   It is his will to give us all that is good.  [Romans 8.32] Our first prayer must then be that he will make us know ourselves not merely in virtue but in fact to be his children [I John 3.2]—not orphans! [John 14.18]—so that whatever we receive we will recognise as the benefaction of a loving Father. [Luke 11.9-13] 

Seventh Sunday of Easter

Sunday, 12 May 2024

Seventh-Sunday-of-Easter-1.pdf

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Friday of the Week of Easter 6

Acts 18.9-18; Psalm 46; John 16.20-23

“We’ll meet again” declared Jesus, centuries before the birth of Vera Lynn.  For the earliest Christians, speculation about when that “second coming” would occur proved to be extremely diverting.  Many people thought it would occur within the life of their generation [John 21.22-23]; while others decided the best course was to stop work and go to the mountains where they could be the first to greet the Lord when he arrived. 

Against all of this St Luke quotes the exhortation of the Lord himself: “It is not for you to know times or dates that the Father has decided.” [Acts 1.7]  And St Paul, having asserted the truth both of Christ’s resurrection and of his promise to bring resurrection to the dead, appealed to Christians to  “Keep on working at the Lord’s work always, knowing that, in the Lord you cannot be labouring in vain.” [I Corinthians 15.58]

His coming will be “in a little while.” [John 16.16] That “short time” is impossible to measure, especially since it is controlled by One for whom a thousand years are equal to a day.
[II Peter 3.8]  We trust in, we look for his coming in power and great glory, but we resolve to be seen to be about the work he has given us when he returns. [Luke 12.35-48]