Happy Easter

Happy Easter to you all. I decided that rather than a written reflection, I would send a link to a video.

It is by an artist Si Smith and it portrays the resurrection if it had taken place in Leeds!

Paddy

Thoughts for Holy Week

A year like no other!

It has been just about a year since I closed the car park gates on 169 Sharoe Green Lane. They have been opened, but most often they are closed. I did not think that the gates would remain closed for so long! However, on a positive note: it is the first birthday of many groups moving on-line. Who would have thought that you could do Lectio Divina on a computer screen? It is amazing how many things have moved to the on-line world: you can be at mass in almost any country from the comfort of your favourite chair!

However, not everyone has access to these modern miracles, leaving many feeling isolated or left behind. Many families have struggled throughout the various lockdowns for a huge variety of reasons. Loved ones have passed from this world and we have not been able to grieve them as we would like. The issues and problems and divisions of our modern way of life have been highlighted and have challenged us to seek new ways of living as the lockdown is eased.

I have been amazed at how we have adapted to these challenges and have found ways to make things better for all people. The Pandemic of 2020-21 has been a re-set for our world. The heroes of the pandemic have worked quietly caring for those in the ICUs, delivering essential items to the shops, teachings kids via screens, emptying bins, keeping the power flowing and countless other jobs that are not regarded as glamorous, well paid or even respected!

As we enter Jerusalem, prepare for the Last Supper, walk the way of the Cross, stand at Calvary, see the blood and water flow from his side, take him to the tomb and hear the gentle call of our name outside an empty tomb, we can take with us the journey of the past year as well. The celebrations and birthdays that have been missed, the meals not shared, the visits that have not taken place and many other routines missed, changed, cancelled for part of our Holy Week this year. Last year Holy Week was on-line, this year we can gather in limited numbers. We have all made sacrifices this past year and this can help us understand the mysteries of Holy Week better.

I hope and pray, that this time next year our celebrations will be more joyful, full of life and people! As we prepare to leave lockdown, again, let us reflect on the world we are re-entering and be prepared to work for justice for all, for economies that care for the poorest, for an ecology that seeks to nurture no exploit our world.

May we all have a reflective and inspiring Holy Week as we journey with Jesus from the gates of Jerusalem to the garden of the Resurrection!

Preston: News

Preston Windrush has once again made the news, this time with the New York based Associated Press! Here is the link to the article and there are some good photos of what happens on a Friday!

It was good to see familiar faces last weekend and this weekend in Blessed Sacrament Parish! Hopefully, we’ll get more opportunities to see each other as the lockdown begins to open! The promise of Easter joy and hope seems more pertinent this year!

On a sadder note: Anthony Finnerty passed on Thursday evening (March 4th). His struggle with a brain tumour, for the past few years, came to a peaceful end. He was not alone in his final hours with family in Royal Preston Hospital. May he rest in peace and be assured of our prayers for him and those close to him.

The Lenten readings

Sunday readings

The Sunday gospel readings during Lent are arranged as follows:

The first and second Sundays retain the accounts of the Lord’s temptations and transfiguration, with readings from all three Synoptics.

On the next three Sundays, the gospels about the Samaritan woman, the man born blind, and the raising of Lazarus, have been restored in Year A. Because these gospels are of major importance in regard to Christian initiation, they may also be read in Year B and Year C, especially in places where there are catechumens.

Other texts, however, are provided for Year B and Year C:

  • for Year B, a text from John about Christ’s coming glorification through his cross and resurrection
  • for Year C, a text from Luke about conversion.

On Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday) the texts for the procession are selections from the Synoptic Gospels concerning the Lord’s triumphal entrance into Jerusalem. For the Mass the reading is the account of the Lord’s passion.

The Old Testament readings are about the history of salvation, which is one of the themes proper to the catechesis of Lent. The series of texts for each year presents the main elements of salvation history from its beginning until the promise of the New Covenant.
The readings from the letters of the apostles have been selected to fit the gospel and the Old Testament readings and, to the extent possible, to provide a connection between them.

Weekday readings

The Weekdays of Lent follow differing themes:

The readings from the gospels and the Old Testament were selected because they are related to each other. They treat various themes of the Lenten catechesis that are suited to the spiritual significance of this season. Beginning with Monday of the fourth week of Lent, there is a semi continuous reading of the Gospel of John, made up of texts that correspond more closely to the themes proper to Lent.

Because the readings about the Samaritan woman, the man born blind, and the raising of Lazarus are now assigned to Sundays, but only for Year A (in Year B and Year C they are optional), provision has been made for their use on weekdays. Thus at the beginning of the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Weeks of Lent optional Masses with these texts for the gospel have been inserted and may be used in place of the readings of the day on any weekday of the respective week.

In the first half of Holy Week the readings are about the mystery of Christ’s passion. For the chrism Mass the readings bring out both Christ’s messianic mission and its continuation in the Church by means of the sacraments.

Further reading

For more information on the readings follow these links.

Lent 2021

Lent 2021 begins next Wednesday. Ash Wednesday begins our Lenten journey and gives us time to prepare for the Paschal Mystery of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. We call this period of time Lent, from to derive from the old English for lengthen, because the daylight gets longer as we enter springtime.

Lent was a time when people wore sackcloth and ashes, to show that they were sorry for their sins. Today, we will wear Ashes, to show that we recognise our sinfulness and our willingness to change. Although, this year the symbol of our ashes will not be as usual! Many of us will asked or be asked “what are you giving up for Lent?” and this is a good starting point, but we should remember that Lent is more than giving something up, it is about change and there are three pillars of Lent to help us:

  1. Prayer (justice towards God)
  2. Fasting (justice towards self)
  3. Almsgiving (justice towards neighbour)

Lent gives us a focus, a period to step back from our routines (whatever they are given the past year!) and see what our values and priorities are. What we need to remember is that these three Lenten pillars have in common is that we should be doing them already! They are not something special that we do only for Lent. We only increase these virtues during Lent, and hopefully it carries over for the rest of the year.

Here are some further suggestions to help with our Lenten journey this year:

Lenten Calendars

Lenten Saints:

Lenten reflections/ideas

Lent 2021

Lent begins on Wednesday February 17th this year! It is always good to take time to prepare for these 40 days before we celebrate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, his Passion, death and Resurrection. So here are some places to visit (virtually this year!) to get suggestions and help for this time of Prayer, Fasting and Alms Giving.

I’ll have more suggestions for next week – looking at retreats, Stations of the Cross and prayers! Jesus spent four days and nights in the desert preparing for his public ministry. It would be good if we too, could take time to prepare ourselves as well!

January 2021

We may have left 2020 behind, but many socially distanced measures are still in place. This has meant that some of the events that we normally take part in have been curtailed. One of those was the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity. We may not have been able to meet together in the one place, but we can still pray for Unity and not just for one week. Although I am late in getting this to you, hopefully, we still have time to unite our voices and pray for unity among Christians.

Many resources have been made available for this and here are some of the links:

And don’t forget that on Monday January 25th, as well as the Conversion of St. Paul, it is also the time for haggis, neeps, taties and a wee dram of Whisky! We cannot have our usual Burns Supper, but I hope that this time 2022 we can all be seated for some good food, good company and good whisky!

Goodbye to 2020

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Few people would argue that 2020 has been the worst of times in living memory. From lockdowns to restrictions on seeing our families we have lived through an unprecedented year. It would be harder to argue that it has been the best of years, but 2020 has not all been darkness and gloom. Many people have had a re-appreciation of the natural world that surrounds us, the cut from our daily routines has made us pause and re-think what our priorities are and how we keep in contact with friends and family.

I am sure that we have all had those days, maybe even weeks or longer, when lockdown ground us down. For me, it was the middle of November, during the second full lockdown, but what brought back hope and life was preparing for Advent and Christmas. Digging out the decorations, preparing the Oratory and working out how to put a Nativity Scene at the gates brought back focus and direction. The bright lights and the colourful gardens show that we use light and lights to give us hope through dark times.

And it is true that in the cycle of life, as in the liturgical cycle, nothing stays the same. We are in a time of darkness, literally, as winter is upon us. There is a collective sense of grief at the losses that 2020 has taken. We have been unable to grieve in our usual ways either by visiting families or joining in funeral celebrations. Many of us will know someone who has a passed because of Covid-19 or a family that has been affected. It has, in the words of Dickens been the winter of despair.

However, winter gives way to spring. It may seem so far away now, but spring will come. Nature will re-awaken from the winter slumber and our hope will be given light. The three days in the tomb, lead to the resurrection. The months of lockdown will give way to the joy of being together again. The simple pleasures of going for a coffee, meeting family and friends, spending time in company and many more things that we took for granted will be the pleasures of 2021.

Yes, there is still lots to do. The economic realities will still be there, but we need to realise that the old way of doing things did not work and does not work. We realised that essential workers surround us and their invisible contribution was made visible. We saw solidarity as we cheered for the NHS and other key workers. We realised our common humanity, being created in the image and likeness of God, in the generosity that has been offered to charities helping support the vulnerable and marginalised.

2020 will be remembered and studied for many years to come. Could we have done better as a world, as a country, as a community, as an individual? We will all have our answers, but we have the opportunities of 2021 ahead. The vaccine will play its part, will I, will you play your part in making our world a family? A family where all are welcome, all are fed, all are cared for and where we all have a contribution to make.

We are, I imagine, looking to 2021 as the spring of hope to dispel the gloom of 2020. So let us look forward with plans to make those changes that we want and to challenge ourselves, our community and our society to make love of God and neighbour the foundation of all we do!

Paddy

A Christmas Story for 2020

It cannot be said that 2020 has been a regular year! It has been a challenging year for many of us on many different levels. However, I received a phone call from a local primary school, and they were asking for some help with Advent reflections. Of course, I said yes!

I searched through my old Advent retreats and remembered/found the Angel retreat. It looks at how the Christmas story would not have taken place without Angels: it was the Angels who appeared Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zachariah, the Shepherds and the Magi! They brought Good News and they brought warnings. When we were sharing about Angels, we realised that we are surrounded by people who bring us Good News, family friends and those who help us in so many ways! We also realised that we can be Angels and so, I asked the kids to make Angels and give them to someone who brings them Good News.

For me, it was not just another day in school! It was the first time in many months that I was in front of people who were not on a screen! The joy, the noise, the feedback, the chatter, the interaction were all a blessing amidst the silence and the social distances that we have all lived with. And that day in the class was enough to fill me with Christmas joy. Being able to share what I knew about Christmas was met with the enthusiasm of the kids and that Christmas joy was the result!

This showed me what I had been missing this year, but also made me appreciate the ministry that I am engaged with. It reminded me that faith has to be lived, not in isolation, but with a community. And now filled with Christmas Joy I wish you all the blessings of this Season and hope that the Angels guide us all through 2021!