The Feast of Corpus Christi – Sunday 23rd June

June 21, 2019

This weekend we celebrate the wonderful feast of Corpus Christi. The phrase ‘Body of Christ’ has so many resonances and this feast brings them all together. There is the physical Body of Christ, crucified for us but now resurrected and glorified in Heaven. There is the Church which is the Body of Christ on earth. And, of course, there is the Eucharistic Body of Christ by which the Church is constituted and through which we are united to Christ in Heaven.

This feast calls us to remember especially the Eucharistic Body of Christ. We give thanks for the great gift of that Body given to us. In many parishes there is a Corpus Christi procession in which the Blessed Sacrament is carried through the streets. This is a wonderful way of celebrating our faith in the ‘real presence’ and a wonderful way in which we can give witness to those around us.

Down through the ages the Blessed Sacrament had sustained the saints in their troubles and difficulties. The Mass has been the rock of all that the Church does, says, and is.

This weekend we celebrate the fact that bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ, and that we too are transformed by our consumption of the same. P.D.

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St Barnabas – 11th June

June 7, 2019

There is always a tendency for groups under threat to retreat in on themselves. This temptation has been one that the Church has often had to fight hard, and there are those today who want to ‘pull up the drawbridge’ against the hostile world. Tuesday’s feast of St. Barnabas reminds us of the proper response to problems and attacks: be confident in the Spirit and proclaim the good news even more boldly.

We are told a few things about him in the Acts. He is described as ‘full of the Holy Spirit and faith’. He introduced the persecutor Saul to the fledgling Church, and took the newly converted Paul with him to confirm the faith of the Christians in Antioch. He and Paul embarked on the first great missionary endeavour of the Church, and brought the good news to the Mediterranean world. He is traditionally held to have been martyred for the faith on the island of Cyprus.

The world that Barnabas and Paul lived in was very hostile to the Church. They and most of their companions were eventually murdered because they followed Christ. They are examples to us of faith, and courage, and perseverance – all of which we need to proclaim the good news of the gospel in our present difficulties. P.D.


St Rita – 22 May

May 17, 2019

On Wednesday we celebrate the feast of St. Rita of Cascia, the Patron Saint of abused women.

Rita was born in Cascia, near Spoleto in Umbria. Despite wishing to becoming a nun, her family married her off at the age of 12 to a rich but violent and lascivious local noble man. Rita fulfilled the role of wife and mother in an exemplary way to this man and managed to change his behaviour. He himself was murdered by his enemies, and after this she entered the local convent.

Rita was known for her devotion and prayer. On once occasions she received a partial stigmata when he forehead began to bleed. She is often depicted in this way in pictures of her. She died in Cascia in 1457.

Domestic abuse is a horrible reality in our society still today. It has a long pedigree alas, and is not confined to any one class or place. Thankfully we have laws in place now which try to make it a thing of the past, although we are still far from attaining that very desirable goal.

St. Rita shows us a woman who, despite her circumstances, is strong and determined. Let us ask for her prayers that we may show the same determination in working to end the scourge of domestic abuse. P.D.


ST MATTHIAS 14th May

May 10, 2019

We have noticed before how the resurrection changed the disciples from a group of frightened cowards into a group that was fearless in their proclamation of the gospel, even at the cost of their own deaths. The resurrection transformed the first followers of Christ in all sorts of other ways too. They were confident that Jesus was with them, and that he empowered their actions and teaching.

On Tuesday we celebrate the feast of St. Matthias. We read the account of his election to join the Apostolic band in the Acts of the Apostles. What is clear is that Peter and the rest were quite confident that they could chose someone to replace the traitor Judas. They had the power to do so, and moreover the power that they had could be shared.

It did not matter that Jesus had not chosen Matthias in his earthly ministry – He was choosing him now through the decisions of the other Apostles. The same confidence we find again and again in the New Testament as the early church decides what Jesus meant by his teaching and how they should bring the gospel to peoples of different cultures.

May St Matthias pray for those who guide the church today, that they may have the same confidence that the risen Christ is with us and leading us. P.D.


St Philip & St James – 3rd May

May 3, 2019

Today we celebrate a double feast – that of Saints Philip and James. We hear about the two brothers in the gospels. Philip comes across as someone who is puzzled by what Jesus says but eager to understand. He asks simple but revealing questions of Jesus. He tells Jesus ‘Show us the Father and we shall be satisfied’

Like all the other Apostles, except John, Philip and James die martyrs’ deaths. This fact is quite staggering when we see how the disciples all forsook Jesus and fled when he was arrested. And also how they were terrified of suffering the same fate after his crucifixion.

So how come the transformation? The answer lies in the great 50 days we are celebrating now – Easter, the resurrection of Christ.

The gospel writers strain to explain the reality, experience, and meaning of the resurrection. The rest of the New Testament writers are equally challenged and challenging. But several key point emerge. One is that the disciples, like Philip and James, were so convinced of the reality of the resurrection that they were prepared to die rather than deny it. They knew that death had been destroyed by Jesus. They were confident that they shared in his new, risen life.

Down through the ages until our own day men and women have shown that same confidence. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.


Saints Philip and James – 3rd May

May 2, 2019

Today we celebrate a double feast – that of Saints Philip and James. We hear about the two brothers in the gospels. Philip comes across as someone who is puzzled by what Jesus says but eager to understand. He asks simple but revealing questions of Jesus. He tells Jesus ‘Show us the Father and we shall be satisfied’

Like all the other Apostles, except John, Philip and James die martyrs’ deaths. This fact is quite staggering when we see how the disciples all forsook Jesus and fled when he was arrested. And also how they were terrified of suffering the same fate after his crucifixion.

So how come the transformation? The answer lies in the great 50 days we are celebrating now – Easter, the resurrection of Christ.

The gospel writers strain to explain the reality, experience, and meaning of the resurrection. The rest of the New Testament writers are equally challenged and challenging. But several key point emerge. One is that the disciples, like Philip and James, were so convinced of the reality of the resurrection that they were prepared to die rather than deny it. They knew that death had been destroyed by Jesus. They were confident that they shared in his new, risen life.

Down through the ages until our own day men and women have shown that same confidence. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. P.D.


Easter Reflection

May 2, 2019

The Church’s joy in the resurrection is boundless because it is at the very heart of all that it does. Every celebration of the sacraments, every good deed, every preaching of the word is because of the power of the resurrection.

In the liturgical year, while Lent lasts for forty days, Eastertide lasts for fifty. During that period the new life that Jesus won for us, and what it now makes possible, are presented for our contemplation. We hear the accounts of the resurrection appearances but we also hear of the transformative effect these encounters had on the disciples. As we go through Eastertide the Sunday liturgy makes clear to us what the resurrection means.

As we celebrate the feasts of the saints during this period we are also made aware that their strength and power comes from the resurrection. They were faithful to the risen Lord and filled with his life. Those who were, and are, called to martyrdom could do so because they believed in the resurrection. Their deaths are another sign of the risen life of Christ at work in the church. P.D.