The Holy Trinity, God, is not an idea. The blessed Trinity is the reality of God, the ground of our being. As Carl McColman writes:
God is in us, because we are in Christ. As members of the mystical body, Christians actually partake in the divine nature of the Trinity. We do not merely watch the dance, we dance the dance. We join hands with Christ, and the spirit flows through us and between us, and our feet move always in the loving embrace of the Father.
The early Saints of Cappadocia came to express this insight by using the analogies, similes, and metaphors of dance.
God is not just a dancer; God is the dance itself. Whatever is going on in God is a flow, a radical relatedness, a perfect communion between three--a circle dance of Love.
Want to discover more? Consider reading Brother Elias Marechal, a monk of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia: Tears of an Innocent God
(Paulist Press; New York, 2015).
Or simply pray each day:
Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy spirit,
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen
Fifty days, or seven weeks, after the Feast of Easter, the Jewish people celebrate the feast of Pentecost, from the Greek πεντηκοστη, which means “fiftieth.” The feast is also known by its Hebrew name Shavuot שבועו)), which means “weeks,” referring to the seven weeks that separate it from Easter.
The feast of Pentecost commemorates the day in which God, seven weeks after rescuing the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, appeared on Mount Sinai and gave them the Ten Commandments (the Torah). On that day, God transformed a group of slaves into his people by establishing a covenant with them. We can find in the book of Exodus the account: “There was thunder and lightning, as well as a thick cloud on the mountain, and a blast of a trumpet so loud that the people who were in the camp trembled. Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God. They took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord had descended upon it in fire, the smoke went out like the smoke of a kiln, while the whole mountain shook violently.” (Ex 19:16-18)
The occurrence is strikingly similar to what happened with Mary and the apostles 50 days after the resurrection of Christ. They were together in a room, when suddenly a mighty wind blasted the house, shaking it, and fire appeared that divided and rested on each of them. It was the new Pentecost, the day in which God manifested himself again–as on Mount Sinai.
Only this time, God did not intend to speak exclusively to the Israelites. Instead he separated from the Israelites a small group—the twelve apostles. He filled them with the power of his Spirit so they could spread the Good News to all the nations of the world–the news that God had established in Christ a New Covenant to which everyone, Jews and non-Jews, are invited. As a sign, God gave his apostles the gift of tongues, so that all people could hear them speaking in their own languages. They could welcome the Good News and receive in themselves the same Holy Spirit and become children of God. Thus, the prophecies of old were fulfilled: “In the last days–the Lord declares–I shall pour out my spirit on all humanity.” (Acts: 2:17)
Fr Daniel Herrero Peña
To be glad of life, because it gives you a chance to love;
To work, to play, and to look up at the stars.
To despise nothing in the world except what is false and mean.
To fear nothing except what is cowardly.
To be guided by what you admire and love,
Rather than what you hate.
To envy nothing that is your neighbour’s
Except their kindness of heart and gentleness of manner.
To think seldom of your enemies, often of your friends, and every day of Christ.
And to spend as much time as you can, with body and with spirit, in God’s out-of-doors.
These are the little signs on the footpath of peace.
Henry Von Dyke
Perhaps you are among one of the many people who suffered the disruptions caused by the ‘Extinction Rebellion’ protests in Oxford Circus last month. They have certainly managed to upset more than one, but they have also helped to raise people’s awareness of the frailty of our world and its ecosystems.
"Are we the last generation?” their banners asked. It is a question that encapsulates the dramatic times in which we are living and the urgency of this issue, as the latest research has found we may not have much time left before the impact of human activity causes a massive extinction of wildlife. But what should be our take on this issue as Catholics?
The second reading today sheds some light on this question. The new earth and the new heaven John sees in his vision are not replacements of the old, but a transformation brought about by God. And why would God transform this ageing and broken world instead of replacing it for a completely brand new one? The answer is simple: because God created this world well; He loves it; and He wants it to remain.
And so, we too, as Catholics, need to do our best to maintain what God has created and entrusted to us. However, our take on this issue differs radically from other people’s, especially those who would be ready to sacrifice the human race for the sake of the planet. “Then I heard a loud voice call from the throne," our second reading today says, "you see this city? Here God lives among men. He will make his home among them, they shall be his people, and he will be their God." This means that creation makes no sense without humans. It was created for us to find joy in it, and above all, as a sacred space for us to meet God.
Consequently, the care for this world must go hand in hand with our defence of human life. We know, though, that humanity will sooner or later run its course, so the question “are we the last generation?” is an inevitable one. But we know that even then, it will not be the end. God will raise us up from the dead and will restore our bodies and with them the whole of creation. So that together with us it may sing the praises of God for eternity.
Today is a day of prayer for vocations to Religious Life and to Priesthood.
We welcome Fr William Nicol, Pastoral Director/Formation Advisor at Allen Hall, our diocesan seminary, who will speak at all Masses this weekend.
Priest Training Fund
We pray for priests and for vocations to the priesthood. The annual collection for the Priest Training Fund will take place after each Mass. This fund pays for the priestly formation of men for the Catholic priesthood. There are currently 45 men studying at Allen Hall seminary, 27 of whom are for our own Diocese, and last year eight men ordained to the priesthood to serve as our future priests. This fund also supports the ongoing enrichment and formation of our ordained priests.
Your generous donation helps ensure we can support these men who are called to be like Christ the Good Shepherd. Donation leaflets are available in the back of the church. Please take one home, read the information, and bring it back next weekend with your donation. You can also donate online anytime at www.rcdow.org.uk/donations.
Please continue to pray for vocations and for our priests.
to Sr Asterie of the Assumption Sisters, Kensington Square, who recently celebrated her Golden Jubilee to the Consecrated Life.
For more information on vocations visit: www.ukvocation.org
This Sunday, the Church continues with the reading of the Book of the Apocalypse.
In his vision of the heavenly liturgy, John sees a throne with someone as resplendent as precious stones seated on it. Around him, four creatures praise him day and night: “Holy, holy, holy, The Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come.”
John sees at the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll written on both sides and sealed with seven seals. But no one is found worthy to open it. At this, John starts to cry, for if no one can open the scroll, whatever is written on it will never come to pass. Then one of the elders approaches him and says, “The Lion of the tribe of Judah has conquered, so that he can open the scroll."
When John lifts his eyes, however, behold: the Lion is a Lamb that carries the marks of having been slaughtered. He is alive now because he has triumphed over death. That is why he appears with seven thorns--a sign of the fullness of the power he has received--and seven eyes--a sign of the fullness of wisdom he has received. His power and his wisdom come not from his ability to destroy but from having given up his life for the salvation of humanity. He is Christ.
In his presence, the four creatures who worship God fall before him and worship him with a ‘new song.' He breaks the seven seals, and the scroll is rolled open, which triggers all that is written in the scroll to take place--the last pertaining history: The invasion of a foreign nation (The Parthian Empire), bringing destruction and hunger, followed by plagues designed to convert sinners, and, finally, the destruction of Babylon and the Beast (The Roman Empire), the Dragon (Satan), the total victory over death and the liberation of the Children of God, who from then on enjoy the peace of the New Jerusalem.
Most of the events described in the book of the Apocalypse have already taken place in history, and yet it still remains of interest to Christians of all ages because its central message is eternal and universal: GOD IS WITH HIS PEOPLE. And while it is true that Christians still suffer for their faith (it is believed that 1 in 9 Christians suffer persecution), victory over the Devil and his schemes and over death itself is certain.
JESUS CHRIST IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD, ALLELUIA!
At Easter, we celebrate the victory of life over death, love over fear, hope over despair, faith over doubt, truth over falsehood, generosity over selfishness. It is a victory in which we share. We are ‘an Easter people,’ and we make the words of the Preface of Easter, prayed at Mass, our own:
It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
at all times to acclaim you, O Lord,
but on this day above all to laud you yet more gloriously,
when Christ our Passover has been sacrificed.
For he is the true Lamb who has taken away the sins of the world;
by dying he has destroyed our death,
and by rising, restored our life.
Therefore, overcome with paschal joy, every land, every people exults in your praise
and even the heavenly Powers, with the angelic hosts, sing together the unending hymn of your glory, as they acclaim:
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
It is carnival time in Jerusalem; a time of revelers and of motley bands of party goers.
But two figures stand out: Mary and John. With them, we follow our broken God. From the triumphal entry into Jerusalem to the desolation of Calvary, we all abandon him--except the two beloved people. It is here and now that He gives them to each other, and community is re-established after the kiss of Judas had blown it away.
The Church is born on the cross, seen and signified by the water and blood flowing from His side, foreshadowing Baptism the Eucharist. Everything happens quickly, yet even in the dereliction of the Cross, with arms outstretched, He gathers us all into the brilliance of Holy Saturday when all seems lost. All is about to begin.
During their visit ‘ad Limina Apostolorum’ with the Pope, the bishops of England and Wales asked Pope Francis for a message that they could bring back to their dioceses.
The Pope answered their request very simply: “that we are to live the gift of our faith with joy." Joy is the supreme good. We may experience poverty, discrimination, failure, the loss of property or people we love… but we can more easily live through all that if only we have joy in our hearts.
Even for Qoheleth--by far the most critical and gloomy character of the whole Bible--life is worth living only because of the joy of family, of seeing the fruits of one’s work and of sharing your life, time, and food with good friends (Eccl 9:9; 3:22; 2:24).
Other biblical witness, however, affirms that there is an even greater joy in praising God in the liturgy. The liturgy is like an open door that allows us to have a glimpse into the infinite, the eternal, the divine… heaven. In the liturgy, we experience both the loving presence of God and the fellowship of the brothers and sisters. (Ps 33:1-3; 133).
There is an even greater joy, though: the joy of having an encounter with Jesus Christ. John the Baptist leapt for joy when--still in the womb of his mother--he heard the greeting of Mary, who already carried in her womb the child Jesus. Mary herself was told by the angel Gabriel that she ought to rejoice because she would be the mother of Jesus. And with them, so many other men and women who experienced Jesus’ love and power to forgive and to heal. (Mk 2:1-12; 5:1-20; Lk 5:17-26; Lk 8:1-8).
A joy that comes not so much from being freed of one’s ailments but from realizing that in the person of Jesus Christ, God has chosen us from among all the other people and called us to participate of his Kingdom (Col 1:11-14).
This joy does not fade when trials come; rather, it increases because the result of suffering is a deeper and more meaningful relationship with our loving God as well as an increase in faith, hope, and charity (Rm 5:3-5; Jm 1:2-4).
Let us rejoice, then, for having received the greatest gift of all: meeting the person of Jesus Christ in our lives.
Fr Daniel Herrero
As we gather in Rome for our visit ‘ad Limina Apostolorum’, we have spent time together reflecting again on the impact of the recent reports containing stark revelations of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, including in England and Wales, and of evident failures of local leadership. We have also reflected on the practical steps we must take.
We do so in the light of all that has been achieved since the Report of Lord Nolan in 2001. We have endeavored to build a culture of safeguarding within the Church’s parishes and religious communities in England and Wales, thereby providing a safe environment for all. In every parish, there is a Parish Safeguarding Representative. In every Diocese, there is a Safeguarding Coordinator and a Diocesan Safeguarding Commission, composed of experts in the main disciplines needed for effective safeguarding. We have established the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (NCSC), with a strong majority membership of experts, independent of the authority structures of the Catholic Church. Much has been achieved. Much is to be learned.
Today, 24 September, 2018, we have decided to ask the NCSC to commission an entirely independent and comprehensive review of the safeguarding structures that currently operate within the Catholic Church in England and Wales. Importantly, we will seek to ensure that the voices of the victims and survivors of abuse, through the Survivors Advisory Panel established by the NCSC, fully inform the review and its recommendation.
Each bishop has decided that he will take steps to set aside time for the purpose of meeting with victims and survivors of clerical abuse who live in his diocese.
May God guide us during this week and in this work, that the voice of Christ, crying out in those who have suffered, may be heard with compassion and discernment.
Copies of the full statement are at the back of the Church.