|Christian Solidarity Worldwide ask us that we pray for Syria, especially for the safety of two kidnapped ArchbishopsCivil war has engulfed Syria for over two years, leaving more than 100,000 dead, over four million internally displaced, and causing a mass exodus of two million to other countries.Christians can be found on both sides of the civil war, but regardless of their allegiances, they have found themselves being targeted increasingly by Sunni jihadi groups, both from within Syria and abroad.
In April, Archbishop Boulos (Paul) Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church and Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church were abducted by gunmen, who murdered their driver, who was also a priest. Recently, it was claimed by the Syrian Grand Mufti that the Archbishops were alive in Turkey. However, the Turkish Government has denied this; consequently their whereabouts remain unknown.In July, a Catholic priest was executed by Islamist forces and in August, rebel gunmen killed 11 Christians in a drive-by shooting as they celebrated a feast day.More recently, reports are emerging of 30 dead bodies being found in mass graves in the Christian city of Sadaad after forces from jihadist group al-Nusra invaded the town in October. The victims included the elderly, disabled, women and children who could not escape as these forces arrived. Many were tortured. In addition, the remains of six members of the same family, including a 90-year-old grandmother, were reportedly found in a well. The Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Homs and Hama, Boutros Alnemeh, has described this incident as the “most serious and biggest massacre of Christians” since the conflict began in March 2011.
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CHRIST’S LIVING PRESENCE IN THE CHURCH BUILDING is what makes this sacred space different from anywhere else on earth! Our current age sees everything as an object of human production, and human relationships made effective by conversation. But praying to God is totally different because God makes Himself known to me. Appreciating the Mass as the activity of Christ, our prayer inserts us into its action and thereby into the Body of Christ (Lumen Gentium, Vat 2) thus building up our relationship both with Him and with one another.
OUR PARISH FAMILY meets in the Church which, as a consecrated building, is set aside exclusively for the worship of Almighty God (Rite of Dedication of a Church). While the Church is made up of people, living stones, the place where we worship is important. We believe that the Lord is present in every Catholic Church in the Blessed Sacrament.
Our lives today tend to be stressful and noisy. The busy-ness of running a home, commuting to work and bringing up children means that we should value our Church building as a unique resource – providing a sacred space where individuals find opportunity to be with the Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament. Every Parishioner or Visitor to our Church should be able to experience it as an oasis of peace – which depends on each one of us ensuring prayerful silence and stillness.
Jesus loved the Temple in Jerusalem: He became visibly distressed when He saw its peace being upset (Matthew 21: 10-17) and He said those famous words: My house shall be called a house of prayer. We need to do all we can to respect our Parish Church as “a house of prayer”.
WHEN YOU COME INTO CHURCH try to be as quiet as you can. Genuflect when you enter, and whenever you pass the tabernacle (in the centre of the Church). Restrict any conversation to outside the Church itself (in the Pastoral Centre and its foyer, or the narthex / porch – though sound often carries from there into the Church). Greet one another with a nod and a smile, be warm and welcoming, but resist the urge to chat in Church, especially before (and after) Mass! Give those around you the chance to be still. It may be the only opportunity in the week for them, and for you, to spend quality time with God.
OUR CAR PARK is at the east end of the Church (access from Kingston Road, opposite the Public Library). The rear Courtyard is reserved exclusively for Presbytery residents, house guests and deliveries. Surplus car parking is best alongside Holy Cross School in Sandal Road, leaving Montem Road for our neighbouring residents. Please park sensibly and considerately, never blocking driveways.
If you need to speak to the Priest, please do so after Mass – he, too, needs to be recollected and spiritually ready, and he will not be able to give you the time you deserve beforehand. Remember that the Sacristy is part of the Church and not a meeting room or parish office!
Ringing of mobile phones is an occasional cause of irritation. If you bring one please make sure that it is turned off (or switched to silent or vibrate mode) before entering the Church. And aim to arrive in good time, so that you a have the chance to settle yourself and your family well before Mass begins, and to make a prayerful preparation for Mass.
TOILETS can be used before or after Mass, but during Mass please only use them if absolutely necessary. In particular, no one should be going to the toilet between the Offertory and the end of Mass (while we are kneeling in worship). Nor should toilets be used (quite obviously) immediately after receiving Holy Communion! Kneel in your pew and adore Jesus who has just made His home in you in Holy Communion. The minutes after we receive Holy Communion are the most sacred moments of our life on earth – to be treasured and prayed.
Food or drink should not be consumed anywhere in the Church. Children should be fed before or after Mass, never during the Sacred Liturgy. All Communicants (except the elderly or seriously sick) are bound to fast for at least one hour from all food and drink (except water and medicines of genuine need) before receiving Communion.
We should not receive Communion if we are conscious of being in a state of grave sin, without first receiving absolution in the Sacrament of Confession (Reconciliation). This could include deliberately missing Sunday Mass, being in a ‘second marriage’ (or similar relationship) without first having had a former marriage annulled by the Church. Speak to a Priest in confidence if you have any uncertainty.
OUR CHILDREN are our future and we love them. We are very happy that they come to worship God. Jesus famously said: “Let the little children come to me: do not stop them for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs” (Mark 10: 13-16). Please help your children understand that when they come to Church, they are entering the House of God – somewhere entirely different from anywhere else on earth!
Encourage children to be as quiet and reverent as possible. Only soft toys ought to be brought into Church (not hard ones which can be banged and are noisy!) If a child needs to bring a book, it should obviously be a religious one (so that it contributes, not detracts from, focus upon the things of God), but it’s best if each child has his or her own age-related Missal (Mass book) to help them participate in the Mass and respond with everyone else. Children are best seated at the front (or the front side benches) where their attention can be drawn to the candles, colours, incense, movement in the sanctuary and action at the altar, and thus be drawn into the sacred action of the Mass.
We take child protection issues very seriously, and need to observe health and safety, fire and other regulations. Please do not let small children run in the aisles, climb on the benches, light candles unsupervised, or otherwise cause danger or unnecessary distraction.
If a child is crying or fractious take them briefly into the porch or the Quiet Room at the back of Church until they are calmed, and where you can still follow Mass through the speakers. The Quiet Room should only be occupied very briefly, so that others have opportunity at need. A box of books is there, and also at the back of the Church, which might help to settle them. You can then return with them when they are calmer. Pushchairs should be stored away from fire exits and doors.
WHEN MASS IS ENDED take a copy of the Sunday Bulletin home with you (one per family) for reference during the week. Please leave everything tidy, ready for the next Mass, taking home paper tissues etc, and returning hymn-books and Mass sheets to the back of the Church.
Remember that there are people who want to remain in prayer, so please respect their wish by leaving the Church as quietly as possible.
THE MASS is the source and summit of the Christian life, and our receiving Holy Communion should be the highlight of our week. It is traditional to genuflect (or at least make a profound bow, not a nod) before receiving Holy Communion. If you are carrying anything (child, walking stick etc) please do not attempt to received Communion in the hand (nor if wearing gloves). Priests have a responsibility to ensure the avoidance of sacrilege, danger or disrespect to the Sacred Host.
It is the right of every Catholic to choose to receive Holy Communion kneeling or standing, on the tongue or in the hand, as recently reminded by the Archbishop of Westminster. Pope Benedict gives example to the flock of Christ by giving Communion only on the tongue and kneeling. You may choose to follow his lead by kneeling at the Communion rail.
Respond to ‘The Body of Christ’ by saying ‘Amen’ (not ‘thank you’!) as a profession of faith in Him whom you receive. Do not attempt to take the Host between your fingers or dip It into the chalice (permitted in some countries, but not in England & Wales). If you receive the Host in your hands, consume It immediately and do not wander away (which will probably lead to the priest chasing after you!).
Non-Catholics and others unable to receive Communion for whatever reason are welcome to come for a blessing. Please indicate this by crossing your arms over your chest, and if your children have not received their First Holy Communion, make sure they are doing this.
Mass doesn’t end until the final Blessing and Dismissal. Please do not leave Church before the Priest. This is disrespectful to Christ (whom the Priest represents) and blocks the exit procession of altar servers.
After the 9.30am Mass there are usually refreshments in the Pastoral Centre and the chance to greet one another. Please do come and make some new friends. The proceeds from this go to help the poor.
These guidelines remind us of what ought to be obvious and provides good practice for every member of our parish family so that we all benefit more deeply from the celebration of Holy Mass and, as St Augustine teaches: become what we receive – the Body of Christ.
These guidelines have been compiled by a group of Catholic Priests and vary slightly adapted for different parishes. They may be downloaded here.
Next week, I’m really looking forward to welcoming to Rome a number of friends from my home parish of New Malden. Flicking through the itinerary, it appears Felicity and Malcolm Surridge have prepared a real treat. Whether this is your first time in Rome, or you’re a seasoned visitor, there will be much to see, experience and, dare I say it, eat!
Of course, the main reason why any Catholic comes to Rome is to make pilgrimage, specifically, “ad limina Apostolorum”, to the threshold of the Apostles, and to the Successor of Peter, Christ’s Vicar on earth.
Whilst in Rome, you will, I hope, sense something of the holiness that permeates this city. Of course, its a city of sinners, but also, one of saints… many, many saints: from the beggar saint, Joseph Labre, to the glorious Apostles themselves, Peter and Paul, whose mighty basilica shrines conceal the fact that they are also paupers’ graves.
Buried within this city are many who witnessed, first hand, the Risen Christ; their fidelity to the Lord, even unto the cruel martyrdoms which many of them met, should give us great hope; and indeed, let’s not forget Rome’s present-day saints. As you enjoy walking around the narrow vincoli of the Centro Storico, or the wide boulevards of the Viminale, keep an eye open and you will witness many acts of saintly heroism, whether in caring for the poor, or in preaching the Gospel to an alienated world: two thousand years later, the faith of the Apostles is alive and well in this place, for this is the Church founded by Christ, upon the Rock, who is Peter.
Our Lord in the Gospel makes it clear: Peter will be the rock, the foundation, upon which He will build His Church; He will give to Peter the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven to open or close it to people as he, Peter, sees fit; lastly, He will give to Peter the power to bind or to loose, in the sense of establishing or prohibiting whatever he deems necessary for the life of the Church. Whilst it is always Christ’s Church, not Peter’s, let us, nonetheless, rejoice in the fact that our Communion in Christ makes us members of this Church – the Church – against which “… the gates of Hell shall not prevail.”
I look forward to seeing you all on Monday and assure you all of my love and prayers for a safe journey and a holy pilgrimage.
Family life will be the focus of an extraordinary general session of the Synod of Bishops that will meet at the Vatican between 5-19 October 2014. Around 150 Synod fathers will take part in the meeting to discuss the “pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.” It is expected to last two weeks.
The Bishops’ Conference has prepared resources where one may read a full introduction, download the synod’s preparatory document – or Lineamenta – and most importantly, respond to an online questionnaire in preparation for the 2014 Synod. Click here to prepare your questionnaire response. (They’ve also provided a link to the last Synod of Bishops meeting on the family held in 1980 that resulted in the document Familiaris Consortio.)
The Coalition for Marriage is an umbrella group of individuals and organisations in the UK that support traditional marriage and oppose any plans to redefine it.
The Coalition is backed by politicians, lawyers, academics and religious leaders. It reaches out to people of all faiths and none, who believe that marriage is the most successful partnership in history and should not be redefined.
The Coalition draws upon a substantial body of evidence showing that marriage – as it has been understood for thousands of years – is beneficial to society, and that changing its definition would undermine that benefit.
The Coalition’s petition demonstrates that there is broad public opposition to redefining marriage. The Coalition is committed to a reasoned and courteous debate on this issue, and will highlight any intimidation or intolerance shown to supporters of traditional marriage.
Find out more…
Download the briefing for the Lords’ Second Reading debate
The ‘Second Reading’ debate in the House of Lords on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, 3 and 4 June 2013. Our briefing gives clear reasons to support keeping marriage as the union of one man and one woman. You can download a copy of the briefing here.
Download the latest Campaign Update
Download the Petition
You can ask your friends, neighbours and work colleagues to sign a paper version of the petition and then send it to our office address given on the form. Download a printable PDF of the Petition here.
Download the briefing for the ‘Second Reading’ vote
The ‘Second Reading’ vote on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill was held on 5 February. Our briefing gives clear reasons to support keeping marriage as the union of one man and one woman. You can download a copy of the briefing here.
DOWNLOAD ‘GAY MARRIAGE IN PRIMARY SCHOOLS’
This booklet outlines the impact of redefining mariage on education. You can download a copy here.
Download 10 reasons why the government is wrong to redefine marriage
Download a summary of a legal opinion on the civil liberty implications
You can download a copy of the summary here.
Download C4M’s consultation response
Our response to the Government’s consultation on redefining marriage. To read our response, click here.
Download a consultation briefing
The Home Office consultation on redefining marriage closed on 14 June 2012. However, our briefing contains information and arguments about the issue which you may find useful. To read the briefing, click here.
DOWNLOAD A PAPER ON THE IMPLICATIONS FOR LOCAL COUNCILS
This paper looks at the issue of redefining marriage as it relates to local councils. Download a copy here.
Support marriage in Scotland
A separate organisation is campaigning against the Scottish Government’s plans to redefine marriage. Residents of Scotland can also sign the Scottish Marriage Petition at the Scotland For Marriage website here.
– See more at: http://c4m.org.uk/resources/#sthash.fePcaMpe.dpuf
Baby clothes and equipment are urgently needed by our LIFE Caring Centres at London and Hounslow. If you have any items you no longer require we will gratefully receive them to distribute to mothers in need. LIFE is a pro-Life charity helping unsupported mothers who have chosen to keep their babies. Thank you.
The Union of Catholic Mothers meets on the 2nd Tuesday of every month at 19.30 – unless otherwise advised.
Bulletin 27th October / 3rd November 2013
Weekly updated News and information from the Parish of Saint Joseph’s, New Malden
Bulletin 27th October-3rd November
If you feel called to the priesthood or religious life, you might like to read this article, which appeared on CatholicExchange.com
Don’t Just Discern Your Vocation
by BR. GABRIEL T. MOSHER, O.P on OCTOBER 18, 2013
There’s a cause for today’s vocation shortage that’s rarely addressed. Too many people are discerning; not enough people are deciding. I know they mean well, but instead of courageously pursuing the priesthood or religious life they form safe communities where they can muse on ideals instead of act on principles.
I call them the Order of Perpetual Discerners. I’m not questioning their piety. I wouldn’t dream of impugning their intentions. However, they fundamentally misunderstand how to discern God’s will. They agonize over the call. They seek spiritual directors and confidants to emote about the vexing feelings they’re experiencing. The sad result is that they never actually discern; they only dream.
The narcissism pervading our culture is a major cause of this trend. We act as if it’s a virtue. Popular culture promotes it. Popular Christian culture is ensnared by it. It’s not surprising that the modern obsession with self-care was bound to cause some problems. The philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard provides intellectual soil for it. Personality cults popularize it. Televangelists and magazine rack mystics sell it. Our contemporary culture has been perfectly constructed to cultivate narcissistic Christianity. Combine the popular psychologism preached in our parishes with a society steeped in postmodern despair and you get exactly what we’ve got — a simulacrum of the Corinthian Christianity that St. Paul fought against.
Common trends of vocational discernment typify the Catholic appropriation of this narcissism. The problem isn’t whether people are or are not discerning. The problem is people are stuck in their heads. It’s like they’re waiting for an infallible neon sign from God. “Constantine got his in hoc signo, so should I!” The truth is, however, God doesn’t usually operate that way. He’s the author of the ordinary, the mundane. God reveals the extraordinary only after we’ve embraced the ordinary.
The scenario I’m describing is ubiquitous. I frequently see it among candidates inquiring into my own Order. This narcissism is why so many will “come and see,” but so few will “stay to pray.” They’ve gotten stuck in the discernment trap and they lack the tools to get out. They try to get out by doing exactly what our culture has taught them to do. They look inward. Yet, by doing this they’ll never find what they’re seeking. Why? Because the answer is found on the outside not on the inside. Thankfully, this sickness isn’t unto death.
Technically the word discernment is a good one. It describes the ability to wisely chose one thing over another. It’s not simply the ability to separate good from bad. More specifically it’s the ability to place all the good things we encounter in a hierarchical order from what’s good to what’s best. Discernment is essentially an intellectual process of ordering perceived goods. However, we can get stuck in the process if we lack critical information. When this happens we become paralyzed because all our possible choices seem to be equally good. In this scenario we become incapable of discerning which vocation to choose. This is the discernment trap. The lacuna in our knowledge is often the result of asking the wrong question. We usually ask ourselves which vocation is better for me. Instead we need to simply ask which vocation is better.
I can already hear objections and outrage at what I just wrote. That’s because savvy readers know what I’m about to say. The best vocation is the one immediately ordered to contemplation. The best vocation is religious life. Moderns think this statement is an insult to married couples. They think it’s antiquated hogwash. After all, didn’t the Second Vatican Council do away with thinking of religious life as objectively superior to married life?
Well, not exactly. The Council desired that we avoid minimizing the dignity of Holy Matrimony. Lord knows there’s been enough of that! What, then, does it mean for religious life to be objectively superior to married life? It’s simply the consequence of religious life being a more perfect reflection of beatitude. Married life is good but religious life is better. The Second Vatican Council affirms this position when it calls religious life an eschatological sign. It literally allows us to begin living on earth what the saints experience in heaven.
Probably most people reading this article have never heard this before now. That’s because it’s never, or rarely, preached. But it’s also because we rarely consider how God’s love affects our daily lives. What does this mean? It means God desires our highest good. This isn’t limited to His desire that we get to heaven. His love extends to all the particular aspects of our life. God wants the best for us at every moment of our lives in every possible way. When His love intersects with vocational discernment the ramifications are clear. He desires that we participate in the highest of form of Christian life. God desires that each of use enter religious life.
Once discernment is seen this way everything changes. The question is no longer about whether God desires me to live one way or another. No. I already know that God desires me to choose and possess the greatest good. Knowing this the process of discernment is no longer about guessing what’s in God’s mind. Discernment becomes a question of whether I’m capable of living religious life or not.
St. Thomas Aquinas was no stranger to the difficulties of discernment. He also excelled at placing things in their proper order. Wisely, he left a practical guide to help us get out of the discernment trap. Much of what I’m saying is found in Question 189 in the “Secunda secundae” of the Summa Theologiae. Each article asks very practical questions about religious discernment. Each are real questions from his day. Many of them were surely his own questions. Most of them are the same questions we continue to ask today. His conclusions are as helpful today as when the ink was still fresh. Tolle lege!
The reality is, however, that you can read about discernment until your eyes fall out. There is a simpler solution that Aquinas would appreciate. Enter the novitiate! Enter the seminary! Among good things there is no replacement for experiential knowledge. The Church knows this and has designed these structures to help your discernment. A pair of pants may look nice on the rack, but you’ll never know if they fit until you try them on. And, if you already know your size, what are you waiting for. Buy the pants! Entering the seminary or the novitiate doesn’t involve signing a contract in your own blood. They are trial periods for both you and the community. They are designed for you to “try on” the community. If a community doesn’t fit, you can always put it back on the rack.
Remember, you’ll never discover your vocation in your own head. Stop over-thinking it! Follow the example of our Blessed Mother. When God calls, answer. After you answer, ponder. While you ponder it follow Him wherever He leads you. Be at peace. Abandon yourself to God’s will and you will undoubtedly save your own soul and win the salvation of many more. Make a choice and live it.
Br. Gabriel Thomas Mosher, O.P. is a Dominican Student Brother with the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, studying at the DSPTand residing at St. Albert Priory in Oakland, CA. He attended Texas A&M University but completed his B.A. in Philosophy at Holy Apostles College & Seminary. When Br. Gabriel, O.P. isn’t studying he is frequently engaged in the work of the New Evangelization through the responsible use of Social Media, giving talks on a variety of topics, and leading retreats. You can contact or follow Br. Gabriel, O.P. online at his site The Eighth Way, on Facebook, or Twitter.
Bulletin 20th October 2013 Weekly updated News and information from the Parish of Saint Joseph’s, New Malden
Bulletin 20th October 2013