The Feast of the Annunciation – 25th March

March 25, 2011

Today we celebrate the feast of the Annunciation. We recall the visit of the Archangel Gabriel to Mary, and the story is told in the gospel of the day. The story is a useful reminder of the interplay between faith and reason. Mary believes yet questions the angel. Through this questioning she comes to an even deeper faith.

God does not force us to believe. The act of faith is not something that we are compelled to make. Rather he invites us to share a different vision and to see with greater clarity through the eyes of faith. Mary is our great exemplar in faith. She questions and grows in her understanding of her role and calling. At times, when at the foot of the cross for example, the questions must have been overwhelming. But she is rooted in her faith and on Easter morning has it confirmed and rewarded.

May Mary pray for us that we may be questioning believers who through our reason come to ever deeper faith.

St Joseph – 19 March

March 17, 2011

Although the bible does not tell us a great deal about St Joseph what we are told reveals a tremendous amount about this wonderful man. The first thing to note is that this was the man who God entrusted to be the foster father of his own son. We see from the stories we have before Jesus was born that Joseph was a ‘just man’ but whose justice was tempered by compassion – he does not wish to expose Mary publicly. He was also someone who put the needs of others ahead of himself – think of the flight into Egypt. In addition he was also very observant of his religious faith.

St. Joseph has traditionally been seen as a model for Christian fathers, and what a wonderful role model he provides for young men today. We live in a society obsessed with rights and a world that seems to reward the brash, pushy, and selfish. Joseph stands in stark contrast. Here is a real man who shows all the manly virtues of solidity, self sacrifice and courage. May he pray for us all, but especially for Christian fathers entrusted with the vital work of educating the children in the faith.

Lenten Reflection

March 13, 2011

Lent is upon us. On Wednesday we heard again those two great warnings with which we begin this season: ‘Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return’ and ‘Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel’. These are words which conflict so starkly with our modern society’s obsession with fame, wealth and youth. But as well as warnings they also contain the seeds of hope. We are dust, fashioned by God himself, but we shall rise again from the dust. By being faithful to the gospel we shall come to eternal life and everlasting happiness. The cross is traced in ashes on our foreheads, but that same cross was traced on our foreheads with holy oil at our baptism. We are marked men and women – we are marked with the cross that saves us.

The readings of this Sunday and next, which have been heard by Christians beginning their Lenten journey for over a millennia, tell us more. In Jesus we are tempted – but in him we also overcome. The devil is not too powerful for us because the man Jesus has triumphed. As we journey through Lent we realise that we are on the road to the cross and the resurrection. It is our story that is unfolding.

Anne Burns
Catholic Teachers Gazette

Ss Perpetua and Felicity – 7th March

March 4, 2011

With some of the Church’s earliest martyrs it is difficult to find accurate and trustworthy historical evidence. Although the strength of devotion to the saint is well documented the actual facts of their lives are sometimes quite obscure. This is not the case with the two saints we celebrate on Monday.

Saints Perpetua and Felicity were both killed during the persecution unleashed on the Church in north Africa in the year 203. Both refused to forego their baptism after conversions to Christianity were forbidden. As a result they were dragged into the arena at Carthage and put to death. This moving martyrdom was recorded by an eye witness who tells of their fidelity and courage as they were murdered for the faith. They are both honoured during the first Eucharist prayer.

As our thoughts start to turn towards Lent which begins on 9th March it is fitting that we celebrate these two saints. Lent is a time of preparation for baptism on the part of some and for the rest of us a time to prepare to renew our baptismal vows at Easter. Either way Perpetua and Felicity shows us by their lives and deaths the importance of this sacrament.