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.
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.
For more information on the readings follow these links.
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:
Prayer (justice towards God)
Fasting (justice towards self)
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:
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!
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!
“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!
Happy Christmas morning. We wish you all the blessings and happiness of this wonderful day. Christ is born in Bethlehem.
Some of your friends in our community have sent cheerful greetings as stocking fillers for you to enjoy.
Loving God, Inspire us, as you inspired the Magi, To journey in faith, following where you would lead until we reach our goal. Though we do not know the way ahead and though the path maybe hard, keep us walking in the light, travelling steadfastly to our journey’s end. Teach us to live as a pilgrim people, fixing our eyes on Jesus, running the race with perseverance for the joy set before us. Until that day when we kneel before the throne of grace and offer our lives to Christ Our Lord. Amen
A Christmas Greeting from Pat and Jim
We remember all those who have suffered during the pandemic. We remember those who are now with God. We give thanks for all the people who have worked unselfishly throughout 2020 to save many lives. May the radiant light of Christ shine down upon us all and may His peace reign in all our hearts this Christmas and pray we are able to come together in 2021.
Pat and Jim
The meaning of the dance is: Christ is coming into our hearts. And that is my wish to all. Merry Christmas!
What is Christmas for me?
I imagined the coming of Jesus in our hearts as the explosive force of an asteroid streaking the earth.
An unavoidable crashing which would unleash, by the power of the crash force, the Holy Spirit, a massive movement forward at high speed of the full area of contact, a tsunami of light, the Light of Jesus, inundating everything at His pass.
A ‘cataclysmic like’ instant; in a creative moment the reign of darkness coming to an end. Christ, a continuous avalanche of trillions of atoms and molecules of light injecting Jesus Goodness to all of us; inundating the world of Hope, Joy, Peace and Love. Exactly my wishes to all of you.
Christmas in Lockdown
Something that started out as ‘Over there’ quickly became ‘Over here’. We saw people calling messages of solidarity from tower block windows in Wuhan and wondered at their spirit. We did not really understand this virus. Then, at random, it started to take our family and friends and we were devastated.
Now it is Christmas morning and we are wishing family and friends could visit, but we know the risk.
Our God is still with us. Jesus is born, for us. We can welcome him in, there is no need for social distancing with Him. Let us have a different and greater Christmas.
A gift from God
I’ve been out here for days. Hungry, cold, thirsty, hoping someone will be kind enough to offer me a place. I can feel the baby kicking, wanting something to eat. I can’t help him, I would, but I trust in God to look after him. And I trust in him to look after me, after all, he is the one who blessed me with this gift. I sit down on the cold pavement, putting the old water cup in front of me. People pass, not paying attention. Some drop in rusted pennies, one’s and two’s, one person drops in a £5 note saying “God Bless” as they pass. Others just look at me with dirty looks, not wanting anything to do with me. Snow starts to fall gently as the lights turn on, and a cold winter breeze passes me.
More people walk by, rushing home, somewhere where they can be warm and sit by a fire, and celebrate Christmas with their family tomorrow. I look up as I see two feet stop in front of me. A gloved hand is being held out, and I see a warm smile from a guy, slightly younger than me. He introduces himself, Joseph. I take his hand as he leads me down the street, and he asks questions about me, where I’m from, what my name is. I answer everything.
We get to a house, a lit up cross on the window, and he leads me up into a room. A bed filled with blankets and pillows, fresh clothes, and a smaller set of white linen blankets have been placed beside everything. I lay down as he leaves, and fall asleep.
The sound of crying fills the house. I can hear church bells ringing outside and look outside the window. Snow is falling, kids are laughing outside merrily. I run downstairs to say Merry Christmas to Mary, but instead of just one person, there is a small baby in her arms. Wrapped in white cotton blankets, a smile fills her face. Her eyes sparkle with joy, and my heart flutters at the thought that God has blessed me with this gift. In return of kindness and empathy for strangers, he has given me a gift. The gift of Jesus who will always be in my heart. A gift from God.
Dear Friend, May the peace, joy and hope of Christmas fill your hearts this Christmas and let us pray for that 2021 may cast away the isolation and fear that has been such a part of 2020! Merry Christmas and have a Peaceful New Year!!
A heartfelt thankyou
It is so good to know that the Xavarian Missionary community still has a presence in Preston. Thank you for keeping in touch.
With love and gratitude, and prayers for those who grieve.
Share thanks with the Community
Thank you for your newsletter which is truly a Godsend to me each week. As Fr. Paddy says faith has to be lived, not in isolation, but in community. It has to be shared with others, few of us are called to live like hermits. Christmas Day will be shared with my family, and I will try to bring The Christ into the gathering. Blessings to you all this holy season.
A Message of Hope
When lockdown began David Hockney started to share some of his paintings on line as a message of hope to us all.
Have a look at this of the Autumn just past and this of our Spring yet to come.
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!
The Season of Advent has started! It is only four weeks long and can pass in the blink of an eye! So I’ve taken some time to go through some on line resources that are available for everyone to use. Please feel free to share those you find useful and let us know if you find anymore that you have found useful!
It might seem strange to be talking about Advent a week before, but it is good to be prepared and not caught unaware: exactly what Advent is all about! Advent is derived from the Latin word adventus meaning arrive, approach, appearance. It was taken by the Church from the middle ages to signify the coming of Christ. It reminds us that the birth of the Saviour is an event that we need to prepare for and be reminded of.
Advent is not just about remembering the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem just over 2,000 year ago, but being prepared for the return of The Saviour. As the Catechism says: When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Saviours first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for His second coming (No. 524).
The Advent Wreath usually consist of five candles, three purple and one rose and one white. The purple and rose candles are set in a circular wreath (usually made of evergreen branches) with the white candle in the middle of the wreath. One candle is lit for each Sunday of Advent, with the rose candle being lit on the third Sunday (Gaudete Sunday, from the Latin word for “rejoice”) and the white candle is lit once Christmas liturgies begin. The purple candles represent the penance and sacrifice we undertake to help us prepare for the Lord’s coming at Christmas; the rose candle represents the rejoicing of the faithful at the mid-point of Advent and the white candle represents the birth the Saviour.
Advent is not as strict as Lent, and there are no rules for fasting, but it is meant to be a period of self-preparation. The purple colour associated with Advent and it is also the colour of penance. The faithful should fast during the first two weeks in particular and receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The first reading at Eucharist, both weekday and Sunday, is taken from the Prophet Isaiah and talk of the coming of the Saviour. We are to be prepared for the return of our Saviour.
The colour of the Third Sunday of Advent is rose. This colour symbolizes joy and represents the happiness we will experience when Jesus comes again. The Third Sunday is a day of anticipatory celebration. It is formerly called “Gaudete” Sunday; from gaudete means “rejoice” in Latin.
Finally, Sundays during Advent, just as during Lent, should not be given to fasting, but instead to celebration because we celebrate the resurrection of Our Lord every Sunday. It is important to remember, however, there are no particular rules for how the laity should observe Advent.
From December 17th the tone of the liturgy changes. This time is often known as “O” time. This is because the “O” Antiphons are sung or recited during the last seven days of Advent (from December 17 through December 23) as part of the Liturgy of Hours. Each hymn begins with the interjection “O” followed by a title for Christ, e.g., O Wisdom, O Lord, O Root of Jesse, O Key of David, O Dayspring, O King of Nations, O God-with-Us.
Another way to count down to Christmas is the Advent Calendar that begins on December 1st. Again it is a visible way to focus our attention on the coming Solemnity of Christmas. Many families will also have a nativity scene that can both teach us about the birth of the Saviour, when Jesus was incarnate as human (God becomes human) and remind us of the Gospel narratives. It was St. Francis of Assisi who arranged the first nativity scene!
These are some of the many ways that we can get ready from Christmas, but what about ourselves? What can I do not to be caught in the consumer Christmas? As stated earlier we can make a commitment to fast (and not just to make space for the huge Christmas feast!) to remind ourselves of the coming celebration. The daily readings for Advent are a huge help in getting ready for both the birth of our Saviour and for the return of our Saviour. Given current restrictions there will be fewer opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but that does not mean that we cannot review our lives and make positive changes. The same goes for Advent retreats, but there will be some on-line resources (I’ll compile some for next week!). What will I be doing? As always, I will try and find some time and space to “feeding” myself; reflecting on the daily readings, learning more about the saints of Advent and spending time with the narratives of Jesus’ birth in Gospels Matthew and Luke.
Next week, I will have some on-line Advent resources that can be shared, used and adapted to what I need and what you need. If you have any resources for Advent that you wish to share, pass them along!
The Feast of All Souls is celebrated in commemoration of the faithful departed in Purgatory. The first record of this celebration took place in the Monastery of Cluny, France in 998. It was instituted by Abbot Odilo, a Benedictine, and this observance was soon adopted by other Benedictines, and by the Carthusians. Pope Sylvester II (1003) approved and recommended it. It was some time, though, before the secular clergy introduced it in the various dioceses. From the eleventh to the fourteenth centuries it gradually spread in France, Germany, England, and Spain, until finally, in the fourteenth century, Rome placed the day of the commemoration of all the faithful departed in the official books of the Western Church for November 2nd (or November 3rd if the 2nd falls on a Sunday).
One of the reasons for this could be that Autumn is a great time of year for death or being reminded of death as nature changes once again: the leaves are falling, the plants are dying and days grow shorter. Halloween was traditionally a great reminder of death, being on the eve of All Saints Day (All Hallows) and an opportunity to reflect on our own “saintliness”.
The month of November reminds us of our loved ones who have died, but also reminds us that we too face death. Forgetting the inevitability of death is not good for us. Nor is it good for those who have already died. If we do not remember death, then we will not remember to pray for the dead. And the dead desperately need our prayers. That is why we often refer to the dead in Purgatory as the Poor Souls.
The Book of Remembrance
The November Dead Lists are available for us to write the names of our family members and friends who have died and have gone before us. They may take different forms in different parishes and communities. Here, the names are collected and printed so they can be added to our Book of Remembrance. All of the souls named will be remembered daily during the prayers and Eucharist that is celebrated in the Oratory.
Prayers for the Holy Souls
Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace.
May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Some Scriptural References on for the Holy Souls
2 Maccabees 12:38-46 Matthew 12:31-32 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 1 Peter 3:18-22 1 Peter 4:6