9th August 2020
Fr Colin Writes:
It was good to see many of you back for Mass last week. Thank you very much for abiding by the rules, regulations and guidelines for coming to church.. I would like to thank in particular all the stewards who give up their time to guide people and clean the church after Mass, as well as being on hand for other occasions in the church, including baptisms and funerals.
We are now required to wear a face mask when in church. There are certain people who are exempt from this rule, including children, the reader and priest when speaking to the congregation and others who are exempt for health reasons.
Last weekend we had the first public Sunday Masses since March. Despite the restrictions on numbers, we were able to accommodate everybody who came along. Thank you for observing the social distancing guidelines as well as all the sanitising. Between Sunday Masses, we were able to do a thorough cleaning of the church before opening up again in good time for the next congregation.
Remember that the Sunday obligation is still suspended. But it is good that some of us can now return to Mass. Please do not come to the church if you are feeling unwell.
Confessions will continue to take place on Saturdays by our Lady’s grotto, weather permitting.
Keep well. Keep the distance. Keep the faith.
Exposition and Church Opening Times
There will be no Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on Wednesdays for the time being. We have made adjustments to Church Opening Times. Please refer to the front page.
19th Sunday of Year A
In our first reading today, we find the prophet Elijah hiding from his enemies, Ahab and Jezebel, who want to kill him. He is on his own. He is disillusioned with life and work of a prophet. He is angry with God for putting him in this situation. Perhaps he wants to see God act with power, but God reveals himself not in the wind or the earthquake or the fire. God is revealed in the whisper of a gentle breeze. Just think how often we feel God’s presence in those quiet moments before the Blessed Sacraments, in those moments we have got away from the noise and bustle around us, when we have had time to calm down and reflect after a busy period. We have appreciated those quiet moments even more now that we can come and pray before the Blessed Sacrament again.
We like Elijah, can ask ourselves, where is God in the turbulence of our times? We can lose sight of the daily miracles in life all around us. We can forget all the little prayers that have been answered. We find God when we quietly listen and look beneath the surface of our lives. We find Jesus, who invites us to step out of the security of our little boat into the rough waters of everyday life. He wants us to keep our gaze on him, to listen to him and not be afraid of the turmoil raging around us.
The scene in the Gospel of Jesus walking o n the lake was spectacular. The disciples thought that it was a ghost and were terrified. When they realised that it was Jesus, Peter wanted to do the same. He started well, but when the wind increased, he lost confidence and began to sink. ‘Lord, save me!’, he called out. Of course, Jesus was there to save him. He heard his prayer. This event was another faith-increasing moment, not just for Peter but for the other disciples who witnessed it. Sometimes we are not partakers of little miracles ourselves but we can be witnesses of the little miracles that take place around us.
Reflecting on the chaos caused by the COVID –19 pandemic, we see the scale of natural forces and very limited response that humanity can make.
The writers of our first reading and the Gospel today want to remind us of that as a way of emphasising the power and authority of God. Neither the Elijah account, nor Peter walking on the water, are simply displays of divine might. They are offered to show what is possible for human beings when they accept what God can offer to those who will co-operate with the divine purpose. The two stories we hear today show that it cannot be because of their human might or wisdom or personal resources, but because they are called and accept the invitation to do God’s work.
As I was preparing these words in the church in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, as if to endorse what I was writing about, two unrelated people come in whose presence here were the result of intense prayer. Yes there are many little miracles happening amongst us in Burnt Oak.
Kanyike Project Update
Every second year Fr Kakuba comes from Uganda to update us on the Kanyike Project. This year is the year that he doesn't come but he has sent an update on the situation in Kanyike. Fortunately, no one in Kanyike has caught the virus and the outbreak in Uganda is being controlled well. The school and church are shut on strict government orders, mobile medical clinics are no longer allowed to visit outlying villages and it is almost impossible to travel. Prices are rising.
Families without breadwinners are provided with basic food packages. School children without parents still get a free porridge lunch. People are maintaining the highest hygiene standards as possible even if they have to fetch their water from a spring. Fr Kakuba is living in the village but can only say Mass in private . At the Health Centre, a tent with sanitiser and masks has been set up and everyone who enters has to follow strict guidelines. The Woman’s Group has made a large stock of cloth masks. Emergency operations continue even if the doctor is not able to get to the village. The Dispensary is well stocked with medicine but the news is grim on the financial front with the only income £435 from monthly standing orders. Fundraising events had to be cancelled. Fr Kabula says’Mwebele, mwebele, mweble’ to all the supporters of the Kanyike project.
Next Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
This week’s Saints
Monday— 10 August St Laurence
A cheerful giver: St. Lawrence of Rome (225 -258)
St Lawrence was one of the seven deacons of the 3rd century church in Rome and was martyred under the Emperor Valerian on the August 10th, 258, four days after Pope Sixtus II and some others. Little is known of Lawrence’s life except that he was noted for his generosity and was immensely popular with the Christians of Rome. A basilica was built over his tomb near the Via Tiburtina fifty years after his death, by Emperor Constantine, and the anniversary of his martyrdom was kept in Rome as a solemnity. According to Wikipedia, Lawrence was born in Huesca, in the Roman province of Hispania Tarraconensis. While still in Spain he met the future Pope Sixtus II, of Greek origin, one of the most esteemed teachers in Caesar-augusta (today Zaragoza). Eventually, both left Spain for Rome. When Sixtus became the Pope in 257, he ordained St Lawrence as a deacon, and though Lawrence was still young appointed him first among the seven deacons who served in the patriarchal church. He is therefore called “archdeacon of Rome”, a position of great trust that included the care of the treasury and riches of the church and the distribution of alms among the poor.
Tuesday—11 August St Clare 1193 – 1253
Patron Saint of embroiderers, goldsmiths, and laundry workers
She heard Francis, left comfort, and slept on the floor for forty-one years
Silicon Valley is not, topographically, a valley. The name is a contrivance dating from the 1970s and 80s. The actual valley is named after today’s saint. Santa Clara Valley, running southeast from the southern shores of San Francisco Bay, was named after its beating heart, Mission Santa Clara de Asís—a church, school, and farm—founded by Franciscan Friars in 1777. The current mission church, a beautiful twentieth century idealization of mission architecture, sits on the site of the original Mission structure and is the iconic campus centerpiece of Santa Clara University, California’s oldest. It’s likely that Saint Clare never left her convent in Assisi, Italy, for the last forty years of her life. Yet a valley, city, and university in far away California are named in her honour. That a medieval, cloistered, Catholic nun is still so present to a hyper-modern portion of the world is a testament to the global reach and cultural impact of Catholicism and the Franciscan order.
FRIDAY— 14 St Maxmillian Kolbe
8 January 1894 – 14 August 1941, venerated as Saint Maximilian Kolbe, was a Polish Catholic priest and Conventual Franciscan friar who volunteered to die in place of a stranger in the German death camp of Auschwitz, located in German-occupied Poland during World War II. He had been active in promoting the veneration of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, founding and supervising the monastery of Niepokalanów near Warsaw.
On 10 October 1982 Pope John Paul II canonized Father Kolbe and declared him a martyr of charity. The Catholic Church venerates him as the patron saint of amateur-radio operators, of drug addicts, of political prisoners, of families, of journalists, of prisoners, and of the pro-life movement. John Paul II declared him "The Patron Saint of Our Difficult Century".Due to Kolbe's efforts to promote consecration and entrustment to Mary, he is known as the Apostle of Consecration to Mary.