Friday, 18 April 2014

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Easter message from our Ordinary

Easter Message from the Ordinary
In her liturgy from Palm Sunday until Easter Day, the Church gives us the opportunity not only to hear the story of the Lord's passion, but also the experience of participating in it. We are there, watching with excitement, as He enters into Jerusalem on a colt. We are there in the upper room as He gives His disciples His body and His blood. We are there as He prays in the Garden of Gethsemane to be delivered from His fate. And we are there as He enters into His passion and dies for us on the cross.
But we are not mere spectators. Whilst we might cry "hosanna", we also cry "crucify Him". Whilst we are His disciples, like Judas and like Peter, we betray Him. We too can be indifferent to the suffering around us. Each time we separate ourselves from Christ , we help to drive in another nail.
Yet from the sin and suffering of the cross springs hope. The reaction to the teaching and example of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, reminds us that there is a world which is yearning for the good news of Jesus Christ.
My prayer for you this Eastertide is that, through the Holy Spirit, the joy of the resurrection will fill your hearts and the hearts of those whom you love. 
Monsignor Keith Newton

Sacred Triduum 1: the Lord's Supper

Maundy Thursday marks the beginning of The Sacred Paschal Triduum. These three solemn days celebrate the greatest mysteries of our redemption. The Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church gathers and with special celebrations keeps the memory of our Lord’s crucifixion, burial and resurrection.

On Maundy Thursday the Holy Church begins the Triduum with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. When our Lord was about to be handed over to death, He entrusted to His Church a sacrifice which was New for all eternity. This was the New Covenant in His blood; the banquet of His love.

The central act of Christian being is the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. Everything we seek to do, seek to be, all the other Sacraments, all church ministries, and the works of the apostolate, are all bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented towards it. It is in the Holy Eucharist itself that is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, because it contains Christ Himself, our paschal lamb.

The most sacred Eucharist is both a giving and a receiving. In this great mystery of salvation God gives Himself to us, and, if we are in a state of grace*, we receive and consume Christ the paschal lamb, who sacrifices Himself for us on the Cross. Albeit in a much lesser way, we also give; we give ourselves in worship and prayer to God, uniting our sufferings and trials with His on the Cross, and if we have done this worthily, He receives us into that communion in the divine Life by which the Church is kept in being.

By the Eucharistic celebration we unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy. We anticipate eternal life when God will be all in all.

So the Eucharist, the Mass, is the sum and summary of our Faith, our Christian life, and it is the most sacred and most mysterious act of the Church, in which we have the greatest privilege of participating, in one way or another.

Thanks be to God for His most ineffable Gift.

Fr Ian

* If we are in a state of mortal sin (by committing a grave sin without coercion and with knowledge) then we cannot receive the Eucharist until we are reconciled to God by the Sacrament of Penance. If we receive the Eucharist unworthily we profane Christ and commit a further grave sin.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The valuing of Jesus

Jesus had been anointed with the costly ointment, oil of nard, by Mary of Bethany*. When that had occurred some of the disciples, and in particular Judas Iscariot, had complained that this was an over the top gesture towards Jesus. The cost of such ointment was estimated at over 200 denarii – and we get an idea of how expensive that was if we realise that 1 denarius was the day’s wage for the average worker. So the ointment of nard cost the wages of a worker for 200 days. So Judas and some of the others rebuked Mary for “wasting” this on Jesus, suggesting that it be sold and the money given to the poor.
The generosity of Mary reveals how much she values Jesus. For her, no gift is too much for her Lord and Saviour. This is in complete contrast to Judas Iscariot who not only betrays Jesus but does so for money. He only values Jesus at thirty pieces of silver, which is the price of a slave (Ex 21:32).
What do we give our Lord? How generous are we? Or are we grudging in our gifts? Perhaps we think our Lord does not need our gift, and there are better uses for it? There is a world of difference between the giving of Mary and Judas. So how willing are we to give generously to our Lord? The Lord preserve us from giving a gift like Judas.
Fr Ian
* Although Matthew does not reveal who anoints Jesus and merely says “a woman” (Mt 6:7), in John’s gospel (Jn 12:1-8) we hear that it was Mary of Bethany who anointed Jesus, and it is primarily Judas Iscariot who objects.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Chrism Mass for the Ordinariate

Archbishop Menini entering and being welcomed into the Church.
Yesterday, Holy Monday, the clergy and people of the Ordinariate came to Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, Warwick Street, for the Chrism Mass of the Ordinariate. We were pleased to welcome once again the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Menini, as our principal celebrant.

The Mass of Holy Chrism is when the Holy Oils administered in the Sacraments are blessed, and also when the clergy renew their vows as priests and deacons.

As always it was good to be with one's brothers in the clergy, to be supported by representatives of the laity whom we serve, and to concelebrate a wonderful solemn mass. The Mass setting was by Bruckner and included trombones, which was very splendid and fitting for the celebration.

Here are a few snaps I took after mass was over as people and clergy were milling around.

The darkness grows but love in weakness conquers

The darkness around Jesus grows as we hear today of the betrayal of Judas and the cowardice of Peter.
It is important for us to realise that Jesus is not powerless against the growing evil intentions around Him. He could, as He tells us later in the Gospel, summon legions of angels to defend Himself. It is important for us to realise that Jesus chooses not to summon legions of angels; He chooses not to use force, of any kind, to defend Himself against the various attacks that are coming His way.
This can seem strange to us. We think it an obvious thing to use one’s power to defend oneself and avoid evil. But of course that is to think of just one’s self. Jesus, on the other hand, is on a mission and it is not about saving His own skin; it is about saving mankind! His mission is to face evil, to face betrayal, to face the cowardice of friends, to face false accusations, to face an unjust sentence, to face scourging, to face immense violence, and to face even death itself not with fear but with perfect love. He seeks not to avoid these things but to conquer them with love.
The darkness that is growing around Jesus is not just the darkness of human sin, human fear and human folly but also the darkness of the kingdom of Satan. It is Satan’s kingdom that is growing around Jesus in order to do away with God! Satan seeks to destroy God and all His Kingdom. And the only way He can do this is to pervert the hearts of men in their sin. In Peter’s heart is fear and Satan uses this to make Peter into a coward – Peter is not strong enough to resist fear, and so Peter ends up denying this man whom Peter says He is prepared to go to death for. In Judas is a heart of duplicity: he hides from the others his malice and evil intent, and for whatever reason he is willing to sell his loyalty to the enemies of his Master – and thus in Judas’ heart is a place ready for Satan to dwell. Satan enters Judas. Darkness falls all around.
The dimensions of the love of God are shown precisely by Christ’s acceptance of His suffering at the hands of evil men. This love of God cannot ever be conquered because it is divine. But Satan cannot see this! Evil men cannot see this! Men filled with fear cannot see this! Can we?
Love, perfect love, becomes a victim of all the schemes of wicked men, and becomes a victim of the kingdom of Satan, but remains true, remains unsullied, remains bright. And thus love conquers fear, hate, evil intent, violence, mockery, suffering and death itself. It does it not by human power but by human weakness re-made into the power of God. This path of self-emptying love is the path we are called walk because by it we share in our Saviour’s victory.
Fr Ian

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Liturgy of the Palms and the Passion of our Lord

Palm Sunday at St Mary's Abbey was beautiful and sunny at the beginning of the Liturgy of the Lord's Entrance. The choir sang beautifully. After the blessing of palms and the procession, upon entering the Abbey church we sand "Ride on, ride on in majesty".

Father Abbot gave the homily. The weeks of Lent, he said, were a time where we are assessed as followers of Christ. Our following of Christ is a real following/journey towards our mother Jerusalem on high. There God lives amongst human beings and there is no more weeping or mourning. In the procession of palms we do not reconstruct historical events, but celebrate the mystery of salvation. For we journey towards the Altar which is at once both place of sacrifice and throne; of joy and mourning mingled together. Our Christian faith faces the reality of the human condition: where people cry "Hosanna to the King of David" one day, and in the same week cry "Crucify Him!" How fickle our feelings especially in a crowd! Where the inner vision is blurred human feelings and desires can lead to inhumanity. The Saviour's way leads through suffering by sacrificial love nailed on the cross. His way does not stop us weeping nor takes away our pain, but it alters our inner vision and thus gives meaning to our pain and our weeping, and allows Christ's power to work in us - then we followers are adopted sons and daughters.

Thanks to Father Abbot Holy Week, or Hebdomada Sancta (hebdomada being the Latin word I learnt today!), began with inspiration for the whole of Christian discipleship caught up in the triumphant entry of Our Lord into His own city, that would crucify Him, but would be the place where His final victory is won and where He would rise from the tomb.

Following the Mass my family had a picnic in the grounds of the Abbey. What do young boys do on Palm Sunday at an Abbey after lunch? They disappear into the undergrowth of course!

The Abbey grounds were looking beautiful and some of the spring flowers were still out.

Sitting in the sun with a juicy lolly - some of the best joys of life are very simple!

Every blessing to you this Hebdomada Sancta!

Fr Ian Hellyer

DAY NINE (Eve of Pentecost)