Tuesday, 24 January 2012


There are many times in the ministry of a priest when you just want to say 'Thank God I am a priest.'  It could be because of some kindness that someone has shown you or more likely from contact with people through the ministry that you perform.

I had such a day today as it was my priviledge to celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism for two of our children.  The ceremony took place in one of our parish primary schools.  This allowed the year three child to witness an actual baptism as part of their work on the Sacramental Programme preparing for their First Holy Communion. 

Here are a few photos taken at the celebration.  Congratulations to the two boys and their parents.  Do please keep them in your prayers.


I am grateful to the Roman Catholic Rector of Wells in the Diocese of Clifton whose genius has provided the main ideas that run through this homily.

Sometime ago I was at a meeting where the discussion was getting very heated.  The longer the meeting went on the more heated it got.  One of the folk at the meeting leaned over to me and said 'This reminds me of Sunday's Gospel, Father.'  I was somewhat puzzled at what he meant.  He then leaned over again and said 'That part where Jesus says: Come follow me and I will make you viscious old men.'  Sometimes there truth in that statement.

Today we continue where we left off last week with our children on the Sacramental Programme as they focused on the Liturgy of the word.  We are a people who celebrate God's Word.  The theme of our readings at Mass this weekend is listening. 

In many ways, the whole of the Book of Jonah from where our first reading is taken is about listening. It begins with the prophet receiving a message from God to go to Nineveh, but he does not like the message he hears, so he does not listen. He runs away from God. Storms at sea make him realise that he must listen, so shipwreck and the famous big fish are the means of him coming to Nineveh.

He preaches the message that he has received from God - a message of repentance.  Unfortunately for Jonah the people of Nineveh listened.  They listened intently to what he had to say.  As a result they began to change their ways.  They turned to the Lord in repentance for their past faults and failings.  They took Jonah and his message seriously.
The story of the call of the Apostles in today's Gosepl is not just a tale of vocation, but also a story of 4 fishermen, who listened. There must have been something in them that made them ready to accept God’s invitation to be part of His plan. They were open and ready.

Listening is something that we do every day of our lives.  But there can be different levels of hearing.  Chaps imagine the wife is nagging you to do something and you listen only half heartedly or you turn the deaf ear and pretend that you havent heard what was said.  There is the disinterested listening to the televison or radio as background noise.  And there is listening intently, hanging on the speakers every word to gain as much as you possibly can.

We listen when we come to Mass.  The question is how do we listen?  Is it a disinterested listening?  We have come to Mass plonked ourselves down in the bench, folded our arms and closed our ears?  We are physically present at Mass but we are not really listening and taking in what is going on. 

We might have decided 'I dont like Father so and so.  He's not a very nice priest so I won't listen to what he has to say.  I can't stand the person who did the First Reading so I won't listen.  These are just a few examples of our listening (or not) at Mass.

But there could be a deeper reason.  There is an attitude of 'I'm not going to listen to the preacher as I don't like what he says.  He challenges me to live my life differently.  He challenges me to change my attitudes about others, about the faith about how I am living and I dont like it. If the preacher will not reinforce my existing views I am not interested.

I don't like what the scriptures are saying so I won't listen.  I don't like what Jesus says in the Gosepl so I won't listen. Because if I actually believe what is being read, if I actually believe wh at the Lord is saying then I might have to change the way I live.  The challenges are all there, but I can bury my head in the sand and pretend that I have not heard it so that I can remain the same.

Some people will day they do not come to Mass because it is boring!!!  This is often said by young people, but I have heard it said by those old enough to know better too.  My repsonse to this has always been 'Yes it is.  I too am bored at Mass.  If its entertainment that I am looking for then there are plenty of opportunities for this elsewhere: the cinema, the theatre, spending time with friends.  I am even discovering going to the gym can be a form of entertainment and fun.

Mass is not the place to come seeking entertainment.  It is the place we come to give God that which is His right - our worship.  It is by bringing our joys and sorrows before the altar of God that we gain strength to continue living the Christian life.
We can say the Mass is boring and we may go away frm church thinking we got nothing out of it. Could that be because I did not make a real effort to listen?

Sunday, 22 January 2012


Shortly after I was ordained deacon I was sent to a parish to fulfil my diaconal placement. It was there that I got at real taste of ordained ministry: baptisms, wedding preparation and the wedding ceremonies, funerals ‘’all at the crem’’ and visiting the parish primary schools were just some of the things I had to do.

One day whilst I was visiting the primary school I walked into a lesson were the teacher was trying to explain some of the differences between the Catholic Church and the Church of England. After she had finished the children were asked to go and do some work on their own. As I went round the class I was amused to read in one boys’ book


However the more I have reflected on what that boy wrote and combined with my study of theology I realised that actually he was right. Yes you could say that he was simply pointing out a physical difference between the church buildings but under the surface there is something far deeper.

WE ARE NOT THE SAME… and those who try and peddle a form of ecumenism or Christianity that claims we are all the same are lying.

We do ourselves a disservice in the work for unity if we try and paper of the cracks and pretend there are no problems. Looking at our differences and acknowledging there are differences is the way forward.

Someone, rather tongue in cheek (I hope) compared the work of Christian Unity to mixing a good gin and tonic! First there is the choosing of the gin: Bombay Hendricks,, Gordon’s – being a Roman Catholic I would naturally go for Monsignor Gilbey’s!!! Then there is the tonic (Schweppes, diet or full fat) the ice and the lime or if you really must, lemon. All these ingredients are needed for the perfect G and T and if one of them is missing then the drink suffers. The ingredients are all different – on their own they produce nothing, but bring them together in a unity – and the results are wonderful.

Our Holy Father Benedict XVI has been described by some as a true ecumenist in the sense he is calling all God’s scattered children home, but not trying to make them the same – unity is not uniformity. The Pope has reached out to bring back into full Communion the Society of St Pius the X. We continue to pray and work towards reunion with the Eastern Orthodox Churches. Last year as we know he has offered a way to members of the Anglican Church who seek reunion with the See of Peter, whilst retaining their Anglican Patrimony – unity is not uniformity.

On a more local level here at St Marie’s we welcome the Ukrainian Community twice a month for the celebration of their Divine Liturgy. The style of worship, the language and ceremonials are probably alien to most Romans Catholics let alone anyone else. Yet it is no less Catholic simply because it’s different. We do not have to be the same if we have unity of faith. As this Week of Prayer for the Unity of Christendom draws to a close we must set ourselves to seek out and preserve all that is good in our own traditions whilst working with every fibre of our being for that unity which Christ himself prayed on the night of his passion.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012


To-day the Church celebrates the memorial of the Holy Name of Jesus - the only name given to us through which we may receive salvation.

How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
in a believer's ear!
it soothes his sorrows, heals in wounds,
and drives away his fear

It makes the wounded spirit whole,
and calms the troubled breast;
tis manna to the hingry soul,
and to the weary rest.

Dear name! the rock on which I build,
my sheild and hiding place,
my never failing treasury filled
with boundless stores of grace.

Jesus! my Shepherd, Brother, Friend
my Prophet, Priest and King,
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End,
accept the praise I bring.

Weak is the effort of my heart,
and cold my warmest thought;
But when I see Thee as Thou art,
I'll praise Thee as I ought.

Till then I would thy love proclcaim
with every fleeting breath;
and my the music of thy name
refresh my soul in death.