Takehomenews Sunday 13 June
Fr Colin writes:
Today we have the first of 2 Confirmation Masses at 3.pm. The second will be on Saturday, also at 3pm. We welcome Bishop John Sherrington on both these occasions. Although only the candidates, their families and sponsor can attend because of restrictions on numbers, the ceremonies can be watched by livestream. These are parish occasions. The gifts of the Holy Spirit that the candidates will receive not only benefit themselves and their families but also the whole community and the wider world. This year the candidates have been prepared for the Sacrament through zoom sessions, so the preparation has been somewhat different and they have not been able to mix as a group as before. Please pray for these young people who will complete their initiation as Christians. Many thanks to the catechists who have had to adjust the preparation to fit current circumstances.
It is helpful to remind ourselves of the 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit that we receive at Confirmation. They are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and the fear of the Lord. The Holy Spirit is invisible. We can see its effects but we can’t see the Holy Spirit itself. Each day it is good to reflect on how the Holy Spirit has been at work in our own lives, helping us to make the right decisions, giving us strength to speak up for our faith, giving us enthusiasm to spread the faith, helping us to understand the mysteries of our faith. Fr Colin.
First Communion Programme
Having made their first Confession yesterday, the First Communion children in Group A have a session today at 9.15 in the Canon Smyth Parish Centre and children in Group B next Sunday, 20th June
Meeting for new Altar Servers
We are blessed with excellent servers in our parish who give faithful service throughout the year, but we are always on the lookout for other parishioners who would like to join our ‘team’. The ministry of Altar Server is open to all who have received their First Holy Communion and demonstrate a wish to uphold the aims and objectives of the Guild of St Stephen.
If anyone who meets the requirements is interested in becoming an Altar Server, they are invited to attend a meeting in the church on Saturday 3rd July at 11.00am. All under 16s must be accompanied to the meeting by a parent/carer.
I have now received my new passport and am now able to resume endorsing your own passport applications.
The prophet Ezekiel who we meet in our first reading was writing for the exiled Jews of Babylon between 592 – 571BC. The main thrust of his teaching is that each generation is responsible for their own sins and that the difficulties they find themselves in are not because of the sins of a previous generation (in other words do not blame others for your pain) but rather take responsibility for your own sins and repent. Ezekiel gives a message of belief and hope in salvation. The extract we are given this Sunday is an oracle – a divine communication that uses figurative language to convey the promise that God made concerning the restoration of the kingdom of David and the reestablishment of the Davidic king. In the fuller passage where this first reading is extracted, Ezekiel refers to the two warring factions of Babylon and Egypt as two eagles who are attempting to control a cedar branch, which represents the royal house of Judah. The house of Judah has been uprooted from Jerusalem and is now withering because of their shifting alliances to who ever is controlling them. This all continues to feed the waging war over the people of Judah as they are pulled from one group to another like a tug of war. However, to give them hope, God promises to plant the branch – the people of Jerusalem, on the high mountain height of Israel, in order that it become “a noble cedar” where all “birds” and “beasts” – eg. Jews and the Gentile nations – will seek refuge. Where there is unity and not faction. Ezekiel anticipates not only the restoration of Israel, but also the conversion of the Gentile nations to the recognition of the one true God.
As Christians we are the fruit of this promise made by God. We have been given the space to be in communion with the one true God through our faith and the ministry of the Church. Out of the restored line of Judah comes Jesus, the messiah, our Saviour – a son of the line of David.
In St. Mark’s Gospel Jesus talks about the Kingdom of Heaven – giving us images, attempting to open our minds up to the knowledge of Salvation. There is more to life than just our abilities, God is always at work through the renewal of Creation, causing new life to spring up. Jesus, in just mentioning the birds sitting under the mustard tree branches – and in drawing on the oracle of Ezekiel – does not mean that the gentiles are not their too – it is because he was preaching to the Jews that they would recognise the analogy of the birds in themselves.
For us today, we find ourselves possibly in a place of a tug of war, either in politics, or in issues of climate change, or in the ideas of marriage, in the right way to live our faith during the pandemic. The list is endless. St. Paul in our second reading, I think puts it all into perspective for us. It is our faith in the Lord which is what really matters. We gain strength from the times when our faith has been challenged and we have had to adapt because we have not had our usual comfortable access to God through the body of Christ. Our strength comes in the sure knowledge that, that no matter what, we have stayed true to Christ and to God. We can, like the exiled people of Judah, expend so much energy lamenting about this or that, or about who was to blame for this or that. In the end, what really matters is that we keep faith and that when things are restored, we are able to come back with the confidence of Christ, because we know the Lord is always there for us, calling each of us to him, to be reconciled, to be forgiven, so that we can continue to give God the glory in thanksgiving for the opportunities we have been given that have allowed us to prove our desire to be called his children, to sit under the loving tree of his grace and mercy.
Day for Life Message from Bishop John Sherrington
Day for Life which is to be held during the weekend of 19th / 20th June 2021. This day, inaugurated by St. John Paul II, presents an opportunity to pray for the gift of life from conception to natural death, to raise awareness of the precious gift of life, and to support the work of protecting life in its most vulnerable stages through the annual collection.
This year’s theme for ‘Day for Life’ focuses on assisted suicide and the respect owed to life. The online resources are produced to inform Catholics about this threat to life and to share with people our response to such a threat: a true compassion as the just response to the immense value of the human person.
‘Day for Life’ adds an authenticity to our witness to the dignity of life and this is enabled by the generosity of people in supporting our work. In 2020, we were unable to hold our annual ‘Day for Life’ collection due to the pandemic, our funds are very much depleted and the threats to life have never been greater. ‘Day for Life’ is a simple practical response which pushes back against ‘the use and throwaway logic’ often at the heart of a culture which seeks to abandon its elderly, sick and dying when ‘they no longer serve our interests.’
I know that it is difficult having another second collection at this time, but the funds are important to support charities and projects which protect the good of life. The Day for Life website is https://www.dayforlife.org/. Thank you.
We are in need of more people to help with flower arranging. If you have some time spare on a Saturday morning please have a word with Fr. Colin or Fr. David. Thank you.
Physics teaching at St Richard Reynolds College
We are looking to develop our Physics teaching at St Richard Reynolds College and wondered if you would be interested or know someone who would be interested in this exciting opportunity to teach Physics or support Physics teaching with us?
You may be or would know someone who has recently retired from teaching or currently considering a return to work who has a physics specialism. You may know a recent Physics graduate who is thinking about the next step and would consider teaching. You may have worked or be currently working in the field of Physics or have a Physics degree and would like to change tack. As always, we like to be forward-thinking and creative about ensuring our students are excellently taught and prepared for the world of work.
In addition to this, we are looking at strengthening our A-level Economics provision and would welcome any interest in this role.
If you are or know someone who fits either of these criteria, or indeed would like to find out more, please email Mrs Simmons at email@example.com by Friday 18th June.