Friday, 22 March 2019

Funeral of the late Johnny Walker

Taken on the day Johnny was received into the full communion of the Catholic Church.
Johnny can be seen near the centre.

The Funeral Mass
of the late
Mr John Walker
will take place on
Saturday 30th March
at St Mary's Abbey, Buckfast,
at 10am.
His body will be received into the Blessed Sacrament Chapel
on the Friday at 4.30pm.

Johnny became a Catholic through the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and was amongst the very first to be received after Pope Benedict had created the ecclesial jurisdiction in the Catholic Church for former Anglicans. He was also very pleased to be a regular at the Abbey and could be seen there at prayer and worship not only on Sundays but throughout the week.
May his soul and all the faithful departed rest in peace.

Fr Ian Hellyer, Pastor of the Buckfast Ordinariate Mission
ian.hellyer@ordinariate.org.uk


Rejection even unto murder (Fri of Lent 2)

Friday of the Second Week of Lent

Genesis 37:3-28 ; Matthew 21:33-46


ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves: keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.



In our readings today we find the theme of the rejection of the good and innocent man doing his father’s work. First in Genesis it is the rejection of Joseph by his brothers who are jealous of the favour shown to their father’s youngest son. They almost kill him in the wilds but instead sell him into slavery and fake his death by a wild animal. In the Gospel parable of wicked tenants of the vineyard the tenants in the vineyard refuse to pay the owner of the vineyard his dues in the form of a proportion of the harvest. They thrash and kill the owner’s servants, and then when the owner sends his son (whom he thinks they will respect) they murder him.

On the face of it we might well ask, why is it that good people can be rejected even to the point of becoming victims of murder? What was it that drove Joseph’s brothers to consider selling him to slavery or even consider murdering him? What was it that led the religious opponents of Jesus to consider finding a way to have him killed? Jesus had only done good in His life. But He had also challenged and pointed out the Jewish leaders’ errors. Was that enough for them to consider having him executed? It is naturally difficult for us to see how this can happen, and I think the early Christians must have also struggled with this question. The parable of the wicked tenants of the vineyard in part answers that question, showing the long history of the rejection of the prophets by Jerusalem leaders, and then finally the rejection of the Father’s only Son.

What causes the heart of man to consider the murder of a good man as the best option? The short answer is, of course, sin. It was jealousy. It was anger. It was looking for the easy way out. It was fearing earthly powers more than God. It was pride and not wanting to lose one’s own status.

The sad fact is that when light shines, those that wish their deeds to remain hidden despise the light. The light that shines from a good and righteous man can cause those who are attached to their sin to react against that good and righteous man, sometimes in ways that are surprising and shocking to us. But this is the way of the witnesses of Christ, in which we are all called to walk. We are called to live Christ’s way even when it is counter to everything that the world stands for. We are living in a time when increasingly we who answer the call of Christ to bear witness to him will face rejection and conflict. Let us ask for the prayers of the Martyrs that we may have the courage to be faithful to Christ and less concerned about the world’s reaction. And when we suffer because of our faith, whether it is in a small or big way, let us offer that suffering to God as a prayer for the salvation of souls, praying especially for those who persecute us.

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent: create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.


Fr Ian is a catholic priest of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in England. He is by papal dispensation married. He lives in a former convent with his wife and children in Devon, near the sea.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

World economics can be deadly (Thursday of Week 2 in Lent)



Thursday of Week 2 of Lent


Jeremiah 17:5-10 ; Ps 1 ; Lk 16:19-31




ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves: keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.



 
Widows and mothers in Syria face enormous hardship in the midst of war
Aid to the Church in Need is helping them



The Parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk 16:19) deals with the gap between the rich and the inhumanly poor. The economics of the world can be deadly and it makes the rich live separately: in their housing, by transportation, recreation, and medical care. In the parable the wall the rich man willingly builds in this life, becomes after his death an abyss that no one will be able to bridge. We who live today in the richest parts of the world should be disturbed by this parable, for the one who is content with such a divide in this life may well find himself on the wrong side of the abyss in the life to come.

In the parable, the poor man is named Lazarus, but the rich man is not named, thus the world order is reversed. In the world today, the well to do man is treated with dignity; the anonymous poor man is not. This de-humanisation is at the root of the problem. We also see that upon dying, the poor man Lazarus finds many friends (angels, father Abraham) whereas the rich man finds neither friends nor lawyers to relieve his situation – hell is isolation.

We must remember that the table of the rich man is in fact God’s table not his. And God invites all to eat at His table. In Lent traditionally we are exhorted to practice almsgiving to remind us that we are to be detached from our wealth; not so much seeing it as our own wealth, but that which God wants us to use for His glory.

Perhaps most of all, this parable reminds us that we must not shut off our hearts from the needs of the poorest in the world. In the parable one of the most chilling aspects is that the rich man didn’t even notice Lazarus in his misery. 



(Aid to the Church in Need helps some of the world's forgotten poor. You can read about them on the ACNUK website and if you wish make a donation.)



ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent: create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.



Fr Ian is a catholic priest of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in England. He is by papal dispensation married. He lives in a former convent with his wife and children in Devon, near the sea.




Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Leadership (Wednesday of week 2)


Wednesday of Second Week of Lent


Jeremiah 18:18-20 ; Matthew 20:17-28




ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves: keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.


Jeremiah

The prophet Jeremiah was not only a faithful and great prophet of the Lord, but he seems to have been also a sensitive soul. He took to heart the wicked machinations of his enemies conspiring to do away with him. The verses today (Jer 18:18-20) contrast the words of the plotters (v18),

“Come let us make plots against Jeremiah…”

with the prayer of the prophet which expresses his anguish knowing the plotters want to do away with him.

The Church Fathers saw in the scheming of these plotters a type of the plotting and scheming that Jesus faced. Many of the Jewish authorities wanted to do away with Jesus. They tried to trap Him in His own words just as Jeremiah’s adversaries had done.

The Jewish leaders had forgotten what it meant to be a leader of God’s people. It was not a ticket for personal advantage. Alas they seemed to be more concerned with holding on to their power and status, especially in the fragile situation of Roman occupation. They feared that it all could be lost so did not hesitate to do away with this man from Nazareth who threatened to destabilise everything.

Sadly, even today, there are those in the Church that fear the loss of their status or power. And I have to hold my hands up and confess that I also feared such a loss when I contemplated leaving my position in the Church of England to become a Catholic. Status for religious leaders can become far too important and can lead them to become corrupt and be tempted to do some very evil things. So our Lord’s answer to the mother of James and John who asks that her sons be given status in the Kingdom, is to be kept in mind by all who are called to leadership especially in the Church, but also in the world. Jesus said,

…whoever would be great among you must be your servant…even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.

Please pray for those called to Holy Orders in the Church. It is so very easy to be trapped by our perception of our “status” as if it belongs to us. Of course it doesn’t! For while the priest is to be respected because he acts in persona Christi capitas, the priest is ordained to be able to act in the person of Christ the Head primarily for service to the people of God, and not for personal kudos!

Remember too those who are called to lead in all walks of life, that they too will see it as a service and not be concerned with their status. And if we are called to lead, we should remember always that leadership is a service for others and not a ticket for personal advantage.



ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent: create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.



Fr Ian is a catholic priest of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in England. He is by papal dispensation married. He lives in a former convent with his wife and children in Devon, near the sea.






Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Guardian (Solemnity of St Joseph)


St Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary
O GOD, who from the house of thy servant David didst raise up Saint Joseph to be the guardian of thine incarnate Son, and spouse of His Virgin Mother: give us grace to imitate his uprightness of life and his obedience to thy commands; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

 
St Joseph by Murillo

Standing with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords, and also the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Queen of Angels, St Joseph tends to fade into the background somewhat. And this is of course understandable and to an extent quite right. However on this his day we do well to consider this man.

We do not have too much information about him beyond what the gospels tell us. His lineage is that of the House of David, but he is a humble artisan. He is betrothed to the Virgin Mary, who like him is of a poor Nazareth family. He is a carpenter; a man of wood and tools. We are told he was an upright man. For Joseph to be espoused to Our Lady, we can assume that her parents must have regarded him as a suitable husband for their remarkable and highly virtuous daughter.

As the drama of the Incarnation unfolds in the Gospels (especially Matthew and Luke) St Joseph receives his vocation by an angel in a dream. Here we receive a clue that St Joseph was a man of faith and discernment. He knew the truth of the dream, and he acted upon it decisively. How remarkable was the message the angel gave him! Yet Joseph obeyed his Lord through the Angel. This obedience led him to accept his betrothed in marriage as the Mother of God. As a husband and as guardian of the divine child he protected them from the forces of evil. In Bethlehem he thwarted Herod’s plan to eradicate challenges to the throne of David by once again trusting the message of the Angel in a dream. He led his family to Egypt for a time and then home to Nazareth where he could return to his trade. In the hidden life of Jesus’ childhood (hidden except for the incident in Jerusalem) we can only surmise that the fatherly and manly example of Joseph would positively influence the human nature of the Christ-child. We presume that Joseph died some time after Jesus had reached 12 years old (for he was with them on the pilgrimage to Jerusalem) and before Jesus’ own death, for Christ places His mother into the care of St John on the cross.

St Joseph was a man chosen by God and set apart. It was under his guardianship and fatherly care that Jesus was introduced into the world. Yes we honour and are indebted to the Virgin Mother because through her came the Christ, but after her we owe special gratitude for Saint Joseph. Christ does not now of course deny Joseph that intimacy, reverence and honour He had shown His foster-father on earth.

St Joseph is not patron, I believe, to any particular matter in human life (like other saints) except that he is patron of the whole Church. As he was chosen by God as guardian to the Holy Family so St Joseph continues to be guardian of all the brothers and sisters of Christ by adoption. Let us call on his intercession for protection from all evil and for guidance to walk the right path. May all earthly fathers find in him a worthy and chaste example to follow. May all men find in him an example to follow of honour and virtue.


Monday, 18 March 2019

The measure with which you measure... (Mon of Lent 2)


Monday of the Second Week of Lent


Daniel 9:4-10  ;  Ps 79  ;  Luke 6:36-38


ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves: keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

 
Mt Sinai

Our Lord calls His disciples to imitate God interpreting a command of the Torah (Law of Moses):

Be holy for I, the LORD your God, am holy… (Lev 19:2)


This imitation of holiness requires us, amongst other things, to be merciful just as God the Father is merciful.

On Mt Sinai the LORD proclaimed Himself to Moses as:

The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,


And this is echoed in the psalm 86:

But thou, O Lord God, art full of compassion and mercy : long-suffering, plenteous in goodness and truth.


This understanding of holiness as being merciful as God the Father is merciful, is in contrast with the Pharisees understanding of holiness. For the Pharisees holiness meant separation from anything that could make one unclean. The word ‘pharisee’ comes from the Hebrew meaning ‘separatists’. This is what lead Jesus into such conflict with them over such things as table fellowship with public sinners. Holiness for our Lord means that being merciful we lead sinners back to God, not shun them.

Our Lord also gives us concrete consequences for His disciples. We are to stop judging, stop condemning and forgive. And the result of this is that the disciple will not be judged, not be condemned and be forgiven – by God!

Our Lord summarises His teaching with a corollary of the Golden Rule:

The measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.


To what extent do I live out this call to mercy, and what can I improve in my life?


ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent: create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.



Fr Ian is a catholic priest of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in England. He is by papal dispensation married. He lives in a former convent with his wife and children in Devon, near the sea.




Sunday, 17 March 2019

The Glorious Vision (2nd Sunday of Lent)


Second Sunday of Lent


Genesis 15: 5-12,17-18  ;  Ps 26  ;  Philippians 3:17 – 4:1  ;  Luke 9 : 28-36


ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves: keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.



Rubens Transfiguration of Christ


We are presented with the Transfiguration of our Lord today, not just to remember something wondrous that happened to our Saviour, but also to be reminded that we too are called to transformation. We are, if you like, being given a vision of our destiny in Christ. As St Paul said,

our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Last week we were confronted with the temptations, and by them, with a vision of an anti-Christ, a diabolical vision, a vision where power is abused. This diabolical vision was of the using of power in order to manipulate and to force. It was a possible future for the Saviour; He had the power, He could do it, but that would have been a fallen Christ, an anti-Christ. Yet the attraction of that way is still entertained in men's hearts, not because they have the power to do what Christ could have done, but more generally for the use of power to try to find ultimate solutions, to try to find salvation in them.

We see in the Temptations of Christ, the temptation to manipulate matter for salvation (stones into bread), which we call technology; or we see the temptation to manipulate human beings with power, with earthly authority in politics (Lording it over all people as an earthly king).

These two temptations are in fact very common in our present age. The potential of technology can be intoxicating, and the temptation to think that by it we can find solutions to all our problems is very great. But not only technology, but also through politics. It is tempting to think that through politics we can find ultimate solutions, that we can find salvation for people. The devil tempted our Lord with supreme earthly authority (if He would worship the devil). But this would, of course, have resulted in an evil despot making Hitler, Stalin and Herod seem quite tame in comparison.

Here today we are presented with a glorious vision not of the abuse of power, but of a transfiguration of Light.
 as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white

Christ resists the diabolical path. His is the path to Light. His is a blessed path, of beatitude: of poverty of spirit, of mourning, of thirsting for righteousness, of being persecuted for being the Christ, of being pure in heart, of being meek. And that is a path which gives Christ authority, but authority over heaven as well as earth, a heavenly authority. This is not about politicking, manipulating, or abusing power at all – it is being the very opposite.

And where does this way get us? Well we seem in the eyes of the 'world', in the eyes of the media of today, as being weak and ineffective. Sometimes we might actually believe that too. But the truth is that the media does not have the eyes to see, nor the ears to hear. On the mount of transfiguration Peter, James and John had the privilege of seeing and hearing the truth, which they share with us.

To the world of Jesus' time how would his 'movement' have seemed to be? Successful? A wandering Rabbi with a group of disciples? How could that line up against the powers of the Temple, and the powers of the Roman Empire? - a group of mostly Galileans following a Nazarene – fishermen and the like. Because of the lack of vision, because the world can only see things in terms of power, this Galilean movement would seem to have no hope. The truth was the opposite; because the power that they had, was heavenly not earthly.

We see this contrast all too clearly when the gaze of the media is upon the Holy See or the Church generally. They can only see things in terms of politics, of parties, of struggles for power.

We are presented today with a vision of what we all are aiming for: divine Light. We are aiming for heavenly solutions, not purely earthly ones. We are to look with eyes truly open, and ears truly open, to see and to hear the things of the Spirit, and not be perturbed by what the world has to say.

…our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself.


 

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent: create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.



Fr Ian is a catholic priest of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in England. He is by papal dispensation married. He lives in a former convent with his wife and children in Devon, near the sea.




DAY NINE (Eve of Pentecost)