All posts by catholicmas

EASTER MESSAGE: The Resurrection: Our Hope of Final Victory!

Dear People of God as I thank you for your commitments throughout the Lenten Season and more importantly the period of Triduum, it is important to retrospect a little on our collective journey and faith expressions over time.

The last two years, and especially the last two months, have surely felt like Good Friday as our world continues to battle with the COVID-19 pandemic and watches with sadness the dehumanising cruelty unfolding amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Yes, there can be no doubt that evil has its hour.

This seemed to continue with the silence that was cast upon us from Holy Thursday night till Saturday morning – a moment of hopelessness. A great silence where earth trembled because God has fallen asleep in the flesh. Suddenly, today hope is ignited. We all followed at Easter Vigil that light in procession as it was in the voyage of the Israelites – the chosen people of God. We the new people of God enchanted: Lumen Christi, Deo Gratias. The gate of silence was shattered by the chorus of Alleluia, an indication that He has truly risen. What a cosmic connection with the spring of our time-all the plantations that have withered at winter are now back to life.

Easter celebration is therefore a moment of regeneration. A time to move from hopelessness to hopefulness. A time to be reassured, and to reassure others about the final victory. A season to know that our faith transcends every fear and trepidation. A moment when we are liberated from physical and spiritual squalor unto salvation. Let us trust in this reality and extend it to others.

May I use this opportunity to thank all those who sent in cards and expressed their felicitations in one way or the other. My gratitude goes to all the functionaries in the Church throughout these past days. May our Post-Easter experience help us to keep singing Alleluia unto the final victory.

Rev.Fr. Matthew Gbenga MADEWA

Christmas Message 2021

Happiness to the World by Self-Donation: The Reason for this Season

The season is here; the moment has come. What do we hear people say? Happy Christmas…. same to you. Really? Yes, with emphasis we say, happy Christmas. Despite the raging conditions around us and across the globe that seem to tear apart the comforting screen of normality of our being and while we are here on earth we cannot forget to rejoice and be happy. But for us not to individualise this happiness we need to ponder on one of the admirable signs that Christmas is here which is the crib. We have it (the crib) in our homes, on the streets, in the malls and all over the towns and cities.

Concurrently, we have the Christmas lights, the tree, the decorations coupled with the frenzy and flurry of activities all over the places too. However, the community dimension of this season of happiness shifts our attention to the beauty of the crib which makes us reflect deeply and in a particular way: the nativity scene has invited us to “feel” and “touch” the poverty that God’s Son took upon himself in the Incarnation.

Implicitly, it summons us to follow him along the path of humility, poverty and self-denial that leads from the manger of Bethlehem to the cross. It asks us to meet him and serve him by showing mercy to those of our brothers and sisters in greatest need (cf. Mt 25:31-46 & Admirabile Signum). Herein lies within our hearts an attitude towards our neighbours and downtrodden beyond the externalities of Christmas ornamentals, this is the reason for this season, a profound sense of shared happiness with one another, a self-donation.   

Fr. Matthew MADEWA

Parochial Administrator, St. John the Evangelist Mongeham & St Andrew’s Catholic Church, Sandwich

The History of Lent

History of Lent.


What are the origins of Lent? Did the Church always have this time before Easter?

Lent is a special time of prayer, penance, sacrifice and good works in preparation of the celebration of Easter. In the desire to renew the liturgical practices of the Church, The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of Vatican Council II stated, “The two elements which are especially characteristic of Lent — the recalling of baptism or the preparation for it, and penance — should be given greater emphasis in the liturgy and in liturgical catechesis. It is by means of them that the Church prepares the faithful for the celebration of Easter, while they hear God’s word more frequently and devote more time to prayer” (no. 109).
The word Lent itself is derived from the Anglo-Saxon words lencten, meaning “Spring,” and lenctentid, which literally means not only “Springtide” but also was the word for “March,” the month in which the majority of Lent falls.

Since the earliest times of the Church, there is evidence of some kind of Lenten preparation for Easter. For instance, St. Irenaeus (d. 203) wrote to Pope St. Victor I, commenting on the celebration of Easter and the differences between practices in the East and the West: “The dispute is not only about the day, but also about the actual character of the fast. Some think that they ought to fast for one day, some for two, others for still more; some make their ‘day’ last 40 hours on end. Such variation in the observance did not originate in our own day, but very much earlier, in the time of our forefathers” (Eusebius, History of the Church, V, 24). When Rufinus translated this passage from Greek into Latin, the punctuation made between “40” and “hours” made the meaning to appear to be “40 days, twenty-four hours a day.” The importance of the passage, nevertheless, remains that since the time of “our forefathers” — always an expression for the apostles — a 40-day period of Lenten preparation existed. However, the actual practices and duration of Lent were still not homogenous throughout the Church.Lent becomes more regularized after the legalization of Christianity in A.D. 313. The Council of Nicea (325), in its disciplinary canons, noted that two provincial synods should be held each year, “one before the 40 days of Lent.” St. Athanasius (d. 373) in this “Festal Letters” implored his congregation to make a 40-day fast prior to the more intense fasting of Holy Week. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (d. 386) in his Catechectical Lectures, which are the paradigm for our current RCIA programs, had 18 pre-baptismal instructions given to the catechumens during Lent. St. Cyril of Alexandria (d. 444) in his series of “Festal Letters” also noted the practices and duration of Lent, emphasizing the 40-day period of fasting. Finally, Pope St. Leo (d. 461) preached that the faithful must “fulfill with their fasts the Apostolic institution of the 40 days,” again noting the apostolic origins of Lent. One can safely conclude that by the end of the fourth century, the 40-day period of Easter preparation known as Lent existed, and that prayer and fasting constituted its primary spiritual exercises.

Of course, the number “40” has always had special spiritual significance regarding preparation. On Mount Sinai, preparing to receive the Ten Commandments, “Moses stayed there with the Lord for 40 days and 40 nights, without eating any food or drinking any water” (Ex 34:28). Elijah walked “40 days and 40 nights” to the mountain of the Lord, Mount Horeb (another name for Sinai) (I Kgs 19:8). Most importantly, Jesus fasted and prayed for “40 days and 40 nights” in the desert before He began His public ministry (Mt 4:2).

Once the 40 days of Lent were established, the next development concerned how much fasting was to be done. In Jerusalem, for instance, people fasted for 40 days, Monday through Friday, but not on Saturday or Sunday, thereby making Lent last for eight weeks. In Rome and in the West, people fasted for six weeks, Monday through Saturday, thereby making Lent last for six weeks. Eventually, the practice prevailed of fasting for six days a week over the course of six weeks, and Ash Wednesday was instituted to bring the number of fast days before Easter to 40. The rules of fasting varied. First, some areas of the Church abstained from all forms of meat and animal products, while others made exceptions for food like fish. For example, Pope St. Gregory (d. 604), writing to St. Augustine of Canterbury, issued the following rule: “We abstain from flesh, meat, and from all things that come from flesh, as milk, cheese and eggs.”

Nevertheless, I was always taught, “If you gave something up for the Lord, tough it out. Don’t act like a Pharisee looking for a loophole.”

Second, the general rule was for a person to have one meal a day, in the evening or at 3 p.m.

These Lenten fasting rules also evolved. Eventually, a smaller repast was allowed during the day to keep up one’s strength from manual labor. Eating fish was allowed, and later eating meat was also allowed through the week except on Ash Wednesday and Friday. Dispensations were given for eating dairy products if a pious work was performed, and eventually this rule was relaxed totally. (However, the abstinence from even dairy products led to the practice of blessing Easter eggs and eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday.)

Over the years, modifications have been made to the Lenten observances, making our practices not only simple but also easy. Ash Wednesday still marks the beginning of Lent, which lasts for 40 days, not including Sundays. The present fasting and abstinence laws are very simple: On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, the faithful fast (having only one full meal a day and smaller snacks to keep up one’s strength) and abstain from meat; on the other Fridays of Lent, the faithful abstain from meat. People are still encouraged “to give up something” for Lent as a sacrifice. (An interesting note is that technically on Sundays and solemnities like St. Joseph’s Day (March 19) and the Annunciation (March 25), one is exempt and can partake of whatever has been offered up for Lent.

Nevertheless, I was always taught, “If you gave something up for the Lord, tough it out. Don’t act like a Pharisee looking for a loophole.” Moreover, an emphasis must be placed on performing spiritual works, like attending the Stations of the Cross, attending Mass, making a weekly holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament, taking time for personal prayer and spiritual reading and most especially making a good confession and receiving sacramental absolution. Although the practices may have evolved over the centuries, the focus remains the same: to repent of sin, to renew our faith and to prepare to celebrate joyfully the mysteries of our salvation.dividertop

Continue reading The History of Lent

Consecration Service

Consecration Service 12th July 2014

On 12th July 2014, the 80th anniversary year of the construction of St John’s, the church was consecrated by Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark. The following is a pictorial record of that happy event.