The time of spiritual wilderness is coming to an end, praise God.
The faith, that we pray has been deepened by that experience, will find renewed expression as we return to our churches of St John and St Andrew for private prayer and very soon for Mass.
Details of when our churches are open for private prayer and for Mass are in our e-bulletin here.
Among the very many live-steamed Masses currently celebrated each day, you can follow the Ordinary (Novus Ordo) Form of the Mass, at 12 noon from the National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham here and the Extraordinary (Traditional Latin Mass) Form here and the Ordinariate Use here
5th July – 14th Sunday of the Year
To all – the ‘little ones’ – who accept Christ’s invitation and who learn from him, the Lord Jesus offers the rest of lives lived in peace. The yoke is a symbol of hard physical labour, of subservience, of slavery. Jesus promises that all who take up the yoke of serving him will find rest for their souls because he is himself a gentle and humble master.
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27th May – St Augustine of Canterbury
St Augustine was sent to evangelise Britain by Pope St Gregory the Great in AD595. He arrived on the Isle of Thanet in 597 with 40 fellow monks. They travelled in procession to Canterbury, carrying with them the Holy Gospels, a processional cross and an icon of Christ and singing the Litany of the Saints. Augustine became the first Archbishop of Canterbury and did many mighty works to re-establish the Catholic Faith in our island. St Augustine, pray for us – that our churches may soon re-open for the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy.
7th Sunday of Easter
the Sunday after the Ascension
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The Ascension of the Lord
Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ gloriously ascends into the highest heavens, to sit at the right hand of the Father as King, Judge and Intercessor; as he does so, he takes our humanity with him.
The Rogation Days
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week are the traditional ‘Minor Rogation Days’, April 25th being the one Major Rogation Day and also the Feast of St Mark. The word ‘rogation’ comes from ‘rogare’, the Latin word for ‘to ask’. They are days of prayer and fasting, in preparation for the great Feast of the Lord’s Ascension. They were marked by penitential processions and the singing of the Litany of the Saints. In due course, famers began to seek the blessing of their emerging crops by the priest. So, the penitential procession became processions around villages, blessing crops and marking boundaries – Gang-Days in old English.
14th May – St Matthias, Apostle
Chosen by lot under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Matthias replaced Judas among the Twelve Apostles, after the latter ‘had gone to his proper place’. Matthias was chosen because he had known the Lord Jesus, ‘from the time John was baptising until Jesus’ Ascension’; he was a ‘witness’ to the Lord’s Resurrection. He was chosen so that the Church should have true and faithful pastors. Through the intercession of St Matthias, may the Flock, rejoicing this Eastertide, be preserved from false apostles and blessed with true and faithful pastors.
May 12th – St Pancras the Martyr
St Pancras was martyred as a youth in AD304 in Rome. He is especially important to us here in England because, when St Gregory the Great sent St Augustine and his monks to England in AD597, he sent a relic of St Pancras with them. A church of St Pancras was built – surely to house the relic – in what are now the grounds of St Augustine’s Abbey in Canterbury.
Subsequently a church dedicated to the Martyr was built in London, possibly the earliest Christian building in the city. Through the intercession of St Pancras the mission to England flourished mightily.
St Pancras is also one of the ‘Eisheiligen’, the three ‘ice saints’ on 11th, 12th and 13th of May, after whose Feasts it is thought unlikely that late Spring frosts will cause harm to new growth in vineyards, orchards and suchlike places. St Pancras is the patron of children, jobs and (very important) health but not apparently of railway stations – St Pancras, pray for England!
May 10th– 5th Sunday of Eastertide
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May 8th – VE Day 75
‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.’
In thanksgiving for all those who fought suffered and died for Truth, Justice and Peace.
6th May – St John at the Latin Gate
Our Co-Patron Saint John’s principal Feast Day is the 27th of December and thus is always rather in the shade of Christmas. So it is a great joy that the ancient Feast of St John at the Latin Gate has returned to the Church’s calendar in the Ordinariate commemoration of St John in Eastertide.
Holy Tradition has it, from Tertullian and St Jerome, that an attempt was made by the Roman Emperor to boil St John alive in a vat of oil near the Latin Gate. In a wonderful miracle, echoing the triumph of the Three Children in the burning fiery furnace, St John emerged from the boiling oil not burned but renewed in youthful vigour; what should have been for him death was instead renewed life – pointing us to the mystery of the Lod’s Resurrection.
The Basilica of St John at the Latin Gate stands nearby and the spot itself is marked by the little chapel of San Giovanni in Oleo.
The present day Collect for the Feast prays, ‘oil of gladness didst anoint blessed John a companion in the tribulation and patience of the Lord Jesus: grant us likewise so to rejoice in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings, that when his glory shall be revealed, we may be glad with exceeding joy’.
The ancient Collect prays, ‘O God, who seest that we are best by evils on every side: grant, we beseech thee, that the glorious intercession of blessed John, thine Apostle and Evangelist, may protect us’.
Both Collects are apposite to the present troubled time :
St John the Evangelist, pray for us!
5th May – Our Lady, Queen of the May
To mark the beginning of Our Lady St Mary’s own special month, it is a joy to offer a short article ‘What can we learn about Our Lady from Gonzalo de Berceo?’ by Christian Tofte, who is a member of the Ordinariate and reading Spanish at Oxford University, focussing especially on medieval Spanish literature.
Gonzalo de Berceo, a 13th century Benedictine monk from La Rioja, Spain, was the first known Spanish writer to have written in his mother tongue and also to have put his own name to his work. Berceo is known for his contribution to the literature of medieval Spain through his theological and hagiographical (that is to say, about the lives of the Saints) writings, chief among these his anthology of Marian poems known commonly as Los Milagros de Nuestra Señora (Miracles of Our Lady). His goal in producing these was to take pre-existing Latin stories about miracles attributed to Our Lady and translate them into the vernacular so that ordinary folk of the time, most of whom had little education or ability to read, could hear what they had to say. Part of this process involved taking these Latin prose texts, rather dry and boring, and revamp them in a way that brought them to life and, as a consequence, brings to life the wonders and graces bestowed upon us by God.
The article continues here.
3rd May – Good Shepherd Sunday
Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He leads the flock. He lays down his life for the flock. Rather than his death leaving the flock defenceless against the thief, his dying defeats the thief utterly and sets the flock free, ‘that they may have life and have it abundantly’.
Let us pray especially today that God will raise up vocations to the Sacred Priesthood, for ‘the harvest is plentiful but the labourers few’.
The five Metropolitan Archbishops of England and Wales have published a Letter to the Faithful about the present Coronavirus pandemic; please read it here.
2nd May – Commemorating St Athanasius
Born around AD295 in Alexandria, Egypt, Athanasius became Bishop of Alexandria and a doughty fighter against the very wicked heresy of Arianism, which denied the divinity of Christ. At one point, he seemed to stand alone against Emperors and Bishops in defending the orthodox faith – Athanasius contra mundum. He was frequently exiled from his bishopric but eventually died in full possession of his see, in tranquillity and peace in 373.
1st May – A Votive of the Five Wounds
Before the lamentable Reformation, one of the most popular devotions and one of the most frequent Votive Masses to be celebrated was of the Five Wounds – a devotion to the suffering humanity of our Saviour. The more recent and broader devotion in the Western Church to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is often marked by a Votive Mass on First Fridays each month. A happy restoration to be found in the Ordinariates’ Divine Worship – the Missal is the Votive Mass of the Five Wounds. Let us pray that our suffering world may find healing in the life-giving Wounds of Christ.
25th April – Greater Rogation Day
Today is the Greater Rogation Day, the Lesser Rogations being the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before Ascension Day. The Rogations were – and should be – days of fasting, penance, prayer and intercession to Almighty God, to assuage his righteous anger at our sins and for deliverance from calamities and pestilence. The Rogations were marked especially by Processions and the Litany of the Saints.
Alas, we cannot go forth in procession but we can – and should – still recite the Litany of the Saints, praying for deliverance from the current pestilence.
April 25th – Feast of St Mark the Evangelist
Mark was the son of Mary a close friend of St Peter. He is mentioned frequently in Sacred Scripture, by St Paul, as a companion or perhaps cousin of Barnabas, by St Peter, whose companion he became. Mark must have drawn on the teaching office of St Peter in writing his Gospel, almost certainly the first and certainly the shortest of the Gospels, written in an urgent, almost breathless style.
Mark founded the Church in Alexandria, where he is thought to have died a martyr. Naughty Venetian merchants stole his relics and bore them way to Venice, hence the strong connection between Venice at the Evangelist, set forth in the imagery of the Lion of St Mark as the symbol of the most serene republic.
Mark offers us the great example of one who indeed obeyed the Lord’s command to ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation’.
April 19th – Low Week Retreat
We are invited – indeed strongly encourages – to join the Online Retreat being led from the National Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham by the Rector, Mgr. John Armitage. The link to the Retreat is here
April 17th – Friday in Easter Week
At the beautiful dawn breakfast, the risen Lord Jesus, who had walked amidst the tumult of the stormy sea, is now on dry land, while the disciples are on the water. The water is a metaphor for the turbulence and uncertainty (particularly just now) of our earthy, time-and-space bound life. The dry land of that beach is a metaphor for the permanence and stability of the life of eternity, the life of the Resurrection.
April 16th – Thursday in Easter Week
Then they told what had happened on the road As they were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them. But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, . . . See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.
Well might the disciples be affrighted! But this incident shows very clearly that the Risen Lord Jesus had not ‘risen’ to this life. Rather, he is risen to New life, the Life of the Resurrection. This is not a return but a going on – as it will be for us, under God’s good providence
15th April – Wednesday in Easter Week
Pope St Gregory the Great (who sent St Augustine of Canterbury to England in AD597) point out that Cleopas and his companion recognise Jesus first in the personal encounter of the breaking of the bread and only after that do their understand the Scriptures that Jesus had unfolded on the way.
In ‘technical terms’, that is to say that catechesis follows conversion. We are all of us called to be missionaries for Christ’s Church; we will succeed when folk see Christ in our Christ-like lives and are then roused to curiosity to learn more through the Scriptures and Tradition.
April 14th – Easter Tuesday
Mary Magdalene, ‘who loved much’, stays by the sepulchre on that Easter morning, while Peter and John, in bloke-ish fashion go home. Weeping, she looks again into the tomb, needing to see again its emptiness. Then she sees the Gardener . . .
O God, thou art my God : Early will I seek thee.
My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh also longeth after thee :
in a barren and dry land where no water is.
Thus have I looked for thee in holiness :
that I might behold thy power and glory.
April 12th – EASTER DAY
The Lord is risen – He is risen indeed, alleluia!
The Sacred Triduum
11th April – Holy Saturday
Christ took Adam by the hand and raised him up, saying, ‘Arise, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light. Rise, let us leve this place. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity’.
10th April – Good Friday
We adore you, O Christ and we bless you:
because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.
9th April – Maundy Thursday
Today we enter into a very strange Sacred Triduum. We will not gather to celebrate the Sacred Liturgy together but the Liturgy will be celebrated.
At this evening’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper, there will of course be no liturgical Washing of Feet. Very many people, especially medics, will be metaphorically washing the feet of people in great need. We too can those people’s feet with our tears.
There are many resources be made newly available on the internet. For example, Fr Stephen Wang, is running a daily podcast at ‘Pause for Faith’ on YouTube.
Here at St John’s, an abbreviated Mass of the Lord’s Supper will be celebrated at 7.00pm; then we are encouraged to join a national online Watch from Birmingham here
Cardinal Nichols will be making a series of broadcasts on BBC Radio as follows:
Chiefly, the Cardinal has recorded a special radio programme for the BBC on Easter Sunday. This will be broadcast at 0800 on all 39 BBC local radio stations. This local radio service is a unique programme and the BBC are promoting it heavily, including in the Daily Telegraph and with a video recorded by the Cardinal.
Additionally, over the Triduum, the Cardinal will be giving the following interviews:
0745 BBC Radio Berkshire
0830 BBC Radio 4 Today Programme
1030 Sky News – Adam Boulton Easter Sunday
0710 BBC Radio 4 Sunday Programme
0730 BBC Radio 2
0930 BBC Radio London
1300 BBC Radio 4 The World This Weekend
8th April – Spy Wednesday
Judas Iscariot is a puzzling figure. Jesus chose him to be one of the Twelve; he received the Apostolic vocation. He was the Betrayer. Did he act out of pure malice? Scripture tells us that the devil entered him, after he had received the morsel of bread from the Lord Jesus. But he had already done the deal with the political-temple establishment. Was he seeking to precipitate a crisis, a moment of action? Did he act out of a sense of complete disillusion? Was he, like Pilate, just another bit-part player in the deep mysteries of God’s providential plan for our salvation? In short, does it really matter? Yet he experienced a despair, that led him to take his own life. Perhaps, in the Harrowing of Hell on Holy Saturday, Christ reaches down to grasp the hand of Judas, as well as Adam and all the rest.
7th April – Temple Tuesday
Eric Gill’s depiction of Jesus driving the traders out of the Temple. His iconography caused great offence and annoyance to the good burghers, who had paid for it and suspected that they were being depicted in an unflattering light.
6th April – Fig Monday
5th April – Palm Sunday
Folk often have mixed feelings about the Liturgy of Palm Sunday, as it is usually celebrated; that is with a congregation and a Procession to the open Church – not in 2020, alas.
They like the Procession and the palms and the tuneful, easy-to-sing hymns – ‘All glory laud and honour’ and ‘Ride on, ride on in majesty’ – and it is often suggested that a real donkey would be useful! Family-friendly liturgy! Then halfway through, it all goes wrong. There is the long reading of the Passion. It rather takes the fun out of it all . . .
That discordant change of tone in the liturgy of Palm Sunday teaches us very clearly that the triumphant entry of Christ the King into Jerusalem, in fulfilment of prophecy, must lead to the Cross and the fulfilment of God’s divine plan for our salvation. Once more paradox is seen to be at the heart of our Faith.
4th April – Saturday in Passiontide
The Lord says this: ‘I am going to take the sons of Israel from the nations where they have gone. [ . . .] I will be their God, they shall be my people. And the nations will learn that I am the Lord, the sanctifier of Israel, when my sanctuary is with them for ever.’
Many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary and had seen what Jesus did believed in him, but some of them went to tell the Pharisees what Jesus had done. Then the chief priests and Pharisees called a meeting. ‘Here is this man working all these signs’ they said ‘and what action are we taking? If we let him go on in this way everybody will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy the Holy Place and our nation.’ One of them, Caiaphas, the high priest that year, said, ‘You do not seem to have grasped the situation at all; you fail to see that it is better for one man to die for the people, than for the whole nation to be destroyed.’ He did not speak in his own person, it was as high priest that he made this prophecy that Jesus was to die for the nation – and not for the nation only, but to gather together in unity the scattered children of God. From that day they were determined to kill him. So Jesus no longer went about openly among the Jews, but left the district for a town called Ephraim, in the country bordering on the desert, and stayed there with his disciples.
The Jewish Passover drew near, and many of the country people who had gone up to Jerusalem to purify themselves looked out for Jesus, saying to one another as they stood about in the Temple, ‘What do you think? Will he come to the festival or not?’
Do ‘the Jews’ act out of malice or a rational and reasonable concern for the Temple and the people? The high priest unintentionally speaks prophetically. They do perceive what Ezekiel saw clearly many centuries earlier. Through the gift of himself to the Father, the Christ realises all that the Jews hoped and prayed for – not for them but for the whole world and therefore for them.
3rd April – St Mary in Passiontide
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.
This Commemoration of Our Lady of Compassion recalls old Simeon’s prophecy that ‘a sword will pierce through your own soul also’, that the lance that pierced Our Lord’s side – from which flowed blood and water, the wellspring of the Church’s Sacraments – also pierced the soul of his Blessed Mother.
It also teaches us that the Blessed Virgin Mary is our Mother also. How strange and bitter-sweet must the dying Christ’s words have sounded to her, ‘behold your son’. As St Bernard says, ‘What an interchange! John given thee for Jesus, the servant for the Lord, the disciple for the Master, the son of Zebedee for the Son of God, a mere man for very God’. And yet she becomes the Mother of the Church.
In these very difficult days for the Church and the World, let us pray the Lord to bid his Mother cast her Protecting Veil over the World and especially over England, her Dowry.
2nd April – Thursday in Passiontide
Abram bowed to the ground and God said this to him, ‘Here now is my covenant with you: you shall become the father of a multitude of nations . . . I will establish my Covenant between myself and you, and your descendants after you, generation after generation, a Covenant in perpetuity, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. . . . As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations.’
Jesus said to the Jews:
‘I tell you most solemnly,
whoever keeps my word
will never see death.’
The Jews said, ‘Now we know for certain that you are possessed. Abraham is dead, and the prophets are dead, and yet you say, “Whoever keeps my word will never know the taste of death.” Are you greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? The prophets are dead too. Who are you claiming to be?’
‘If I were to seek my own glory
that would be no glory at all;
my glory is conferred by the Father,
by the one of whom you say, “He is our God”
although you do not know him.
[ . . . ]
‘I tell you most solemnly,
before Abraham ever was,
At this they picked up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid himself and left the Temple.
The Son is glorified in the Father and the Father is glorified in the Son. The Jews (that is the political-temple establishment in Jerusalem) could not grasp the meaning of the Covenant relationship – the same Covenant relationship that God the Trinity longs to have with Mankind. Through human weakness and sin, we turn away from that Covenant of love. Yet, even now, if we repent and return from the far country, the Father will come running with overflowing love, before we even have time to say, ‘Father I have sinned against heaven and against you’.
1st April – Wednesday in Passiontide
Nebuchadnezzar was a great and mighty king. He was used to his every whim being acted upon as being entirely true. If he said black was white, then white it was! When the Three Children refused to abandon the One True God, his was enraged. Yet, when he saw them wandering about freely in the burning fiery furnace, even mighty Nebuchadnezzar was willing to change his frame of reference and to acknowledge the Truth.
King Nebuchadnezzar said, ‘Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, is it true that you do not serve my gods, and that you refuse to worship the golden statue I have erected? When you hear the sound of horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, or any other instrument, are you prepared to prostrate yourselves and worship the statue I have made? If you refuse to worship it, you must be thrown straight away into the burning fiery furnace; and where is the god who could save you from my power?’ Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to King Nebuchadnezzar, ‘Your question hardly requires an answer: if our God, the one we serve, is able to save us from the burning fiery furnace and from your power, O king, he will save us; and even if he does not, then you must know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the statue you have erected.’ These words infuriated King Nebuchadnezzar; his expression was very different now as he looked at Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. He gave orders for the furnace to be made seven times hotter than usual, and commanded certain stalwarts from his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the burning fiery furnace.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar sprang to his feet in amazement. He said to his advisers, ‘Did we not have these three men thrown bound into the fire?’ They replied, ‘Certainly, O king.’ ‘But,’ he went on ‘I can see four men walking about freely in the heart of the fire without coming to any harm. And the fourth looks like a son of the gods.’
Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed, ‘Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego: he has sent his angel to rescue the servants who, putting their trust in him, defied the order of the king, and preferred to forfeit their bodies rather than serve or worship any god but their own.’
By contrast, the political-temple establishment in Jerusalem were not able to change their frame of reference and so rejected the Truth, staring them in the face.
To the Jews who believed in him Jesus said:
‘If you make my word your home
you will indeed be my disciples,
you will learn the truth
and the truth will make you free.’
They answered, ‘We are descended from Abraham and we have never been the slaves of anyone; what do you mean, “You will be made free”?’ Jesus replied:
‘I tell you most solemnly,
everyone who commits sin is a slave.
Now the slave’s place in the house is not assured,
but the son’s place is assured.
So if the Son makes you free,
you will be free indeed.
Almighty God, grant us grace, this Passiontide, to acknowledge thy Son and so to attain unto everlasting life.
30th March – Monday in Passiontide
Visit our YouTube channel for Mass of Requiem for the Repose of the Soul of Archbishop Peter Smith
Sunday 29th March – Passion Sunday
In the Holy Gospel for the last three Sundays, we have heard long passages from St John’s Gospel: Jesus and the Woman at the Well, Jesus and the Man born Blind and Jesus and the Raising of Lazarus. These Gospels were read to the Catechumens of the early Church, as they prepared for baptism at the Easter Vigil.
The woman at the well believes in Jesus the Christ, makes an act of faith, and surely receives the water of the Spirit welling up to eternal life. The man born blind receives his sight, ‘that the works of God might be made manifest’; he too makes an act of faith, ‘Lord, I believe’ and receives the Light of the World. On this Passion Sunday, Martha intercedes for her dead brother Lazarus, makes an act of faith, ‘you are the Christ, the Son of God’ , and receives with Lazarus the gift of freedom, life in Christ in all its abundant fullness.
How those first Catechumens must have thrilled at that message of salvation!
As we enter into Passiontide, into the mystery of the Lord Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection, let us too rekindle that first surge of wonder and love at the greatest gift of all: the water of the Spirit welling up to eternal life, the Light of the World and life everlasting.
28th March – Saturday of 4th Week of Lent
First Evening Prayer of the Fifth Sunday of Lent – commonly called Passion Sunday – brings the stunningly beautiful Office hymn Vexilla regis. The plainchant tune is equally beautiful; you can listen to it here. The words are by Venantius Fortunatus (530-609) and so have been sung in Passiontide by faithful Christians for nearly 1500 years. These are the words in the translation by J M Neale. They can be a meditation on the mystery of the Cross, as we go through Passiontide and approach Holy Week
- The royal banners forward go,
The cross shines forth in mystic glow;
Where he in flesh, our flesh who made,
Our sentence bore, our ransom paid.
- Where deep for us the spear was dyed,
Life’s torrent rushing from his side,
to wash us in that precious flood,
Where mingled water flowed, and blood.
- Fulfilled is all that David told
In true prophetic song of old,
Amidst the nations, God, saith he,
Hath reigned and triumphed from the tree.
- O tree of beauty, tree of light!
O tree with royal purple dight!
Elect on whose triumphal breast
Those holy limbs should find their rest.
- On whose dear arms, so widely flung,
The weight of this world’s ransom hung,
the price of humankind to pay,
and spoil the spoiler of his prey.
- O cross, our one reliance, hail!
This holy Passiontide avail
To give fresh merit to the saint
And pardon to the penitent.
- To thee, eternal Three in One,
Let homage meet by all be done:
Whom by the cross thou dost restore,
Preserve and govern evermore. Amen.
27th March – Friday of 4th Week of Lent
Today’s First Reading at Mass offers us a horrifying anticipation of Our Dear Lord’s suffering and Passion.
The godless say to themselves, with their misguided reasoning:
‘Our life is short and dreary,
nor is there any relief when man’s end comes,
nor is anyone known who can give release from Hades.
Let us lie in wait for the virtuous man, since he annoys us
and opposes our way of life,
reproaches us for our breaches of the law
and accuses us of playing false to our upbringing.
He claims to have knowledge of God,
and calls himself a son of the Lord.
Before us he stands, a reproof to our way of thinking,
the very sight of him weighs our spirits down;
his way of life is not like other men’s,
the paths he treads are unfamiliar.
In his opinion we are counterfeit;
he holds aloof from our doings as though from filth;
he proclaims the final end of the virtuous as happy
and boasts of having God for his father.
Let us see if what he says is true,
let us observe what kind of end he himself will have.
If the virtuous man is God’s son, God will take his part
and rescue him from the clutches of his enemies.
Let us test him with cruelty and with torture,
and thus explore this gentleness of his
and put his endurance to the proof.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death
since he will be looked after – we have his word for it.’
This is the way they reason, but they are misled,
their malice makes them blind.
They do not know the hidden things of God,
they have no hope that holiness will be rewarded,
they can see no reward for blameless souls.
What are we to make of this? Perhaps the answer is in the words, ‘They do not know the hidden things of God’ and in the words of today’s Gospel,
As Jesus taught in the Temple, he cried out:
‘Yes, you know me
and you know where I came from.
Yet I have not come of myself:
no, there is one who sent me
and I really come from him,
and you do not know him,
but I know him because I have come from him
and it was he who sent me.’
They would have arrested him then, but because his time had not yet come no one laid a hand on him.
God’s ways are not our ways and His thought are not our thoughts The hidden providential purposes of God are beyond our understanding, yet they lead to our salvation. In these days of isolation, let us pray for the grace of a deeper trust in God.
26th March – Thursday of 4th Week of Lent
Today, in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, the Gospel is the story of the Widow of Nain.
Jesus went to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the city, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a large crowd from the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” And he came and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up, and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!”
St Ambrose teaches us that only Christ can set us free from the tomb of our sins, if we will listen to the Word of God. If our own tears of penitence cannot wash us clean, then Holy Mother Church, weeping tears of intercession for her children will avail for us.
Holy Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us.
Grant, Almighty God, that our earthly affections being weakened by fasting, so we may the more easily attain to heavenly things. Amen.
Wednesday 25th – the Annunciation
Here are the Readings for Mass today
First reading – Isaiah 7:10-14,8:10
The Lord spoke to Ahaz and said, ‘Ask the Lord your God for a sign for yourself coming either from the depths of Sheol or from the heights above.’ ‘No,’ Ahaz answered ‘I will not put the Lord to the test.’
Then Isaiah said:
Listen now, House of David:
are you not satisfied with trying the patience of men
without trying the patience of my God, too?
The Lord himself, therefore,
will give you a sign.
It is this: the maiden is with child
and will soon give birth to a son
whom she will call Immanuel,
a name which means “God-is-with-us.”’
Second reading – Hebrews 10:4-10
Bulls’ blood and goats’ blood are useless for taking away sins, and this is what Christ said, on coming into the world:
You who wanted no sacrifice or oblation,
prepared a body for me.
You took no pleasure in holocausts or sacrifices for sin;
then I said,
just as I was commanded in the scroll of the book,
‘God, here I am! I am coming to obey your will.’
Notice that he says first: You did not want what the Law lays down as the things to be offered, that is: the sacrifices, the oblations, the holocausts and the sacrifices for sin, and you took no pleasure in them; and then he says: Here I am! I am coming to obey your will. He is abolishing the first sort to replace it with the second. And this will was for us to be made holy by the offering of his body made once and for all by Jesus Christ.
Gospel – Luke 1:26-38
The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.’ ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.
In perplexing circumstances for both women, one older and one still young, Mary visits her cousin to bring love, comfort and care.
By the intercession of Our Blessed Mother, may we be given the grace to bring love, comfort and care in difficult days to family, friends, neighbours and the stranger in our midst.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.