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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Monday, January 29, 2007

We interrupt our normal broadcast! For the continuation of our series of questions and answers on the Mass watch this space. A significant issue has come up very prominently in the press. It has placed the Catholic Church in serious conflict with the government of our day and needs an attempt at clarification. Before going into a little detail it is worth remembering that we should expect such clashes. From Christ’s crucifixion onwards, this has been the pattern of His Church’s life. She has well survived all the previous conflicts.

The government intends, through its new "Sexual Orientation Regulations" (SOR), to force Catholic adoption agencies to place children with homosexual ‘couples’. This anti-Catholic discrimination is just the most obvious and immediate of these ‘anti-discrimination’ regulations. From this April, they will make it illegal to discriminate against someone on the grounds of their sexual orientation when offering "goods, facilities or services". This may sound well intentioned but next week we will look at the frightening wider implication of these regulations, and political and prayerful responses that can be made.
Forcing Catholic adoption agencies to act in this way would be to force them to go against the Catholic understanding of love and sexuality handed down to us from Christ through Christian tradition, and argued in favour of in parish leaflets in 2005 which are available on request. We believe that any sex outside marriage, and in marriage when artificially frustrated in its orienta-tion to new life, undermines growth in true self-less love in the image of Christ and so is morally wrong. The Church then cannot in any way cooperate publicly with such undermining of love.

This is not to deny that there are other good things in loving relationships where the physical relationship is not truly supporting the Christian growth of that love, i.e. immoral. Nor would we deny that a homosexual couples will very probably be involved in many truly loving actions towards others, even children they look after.

But the Church of Christ is convinced that a sexual relationship outside of marriage is a negative phenomenon. Where such a relationship is made a public institution with legal rights, the Church cannot recognize those rights. To formally and publicly cooperate with such an institution (as distinct from the individuals involved) will always be a negative thing for all of society. We have argued this from reason before, but we know also from our Christian faith that this must be true. If Christian morality is not the key to gaining the fullness of life and love then it is of little value, and Christianity itself will, rightly, wither on the vine.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:31 am

Monday, January 22, 2007

As explained last week, in response to Cardinal Cormac’s plans for the diocese we plan to use this space for a few weeks to explain parts of Holy Mass.

When was the Mass first celebrated?

Jesus Christ instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. This is recorded in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke and St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. This action ritual action was completed the day after by his actual, bloody death upon the Cross. Since then, the Church has never ceased to follow His command and gather together to receive His body and blood in the Eucharist.

When was the basic structure of the Mass set up?

The basic format of the Mass has been the same since the earliest days of the Church. Writing around the year 150 AD, St. Justin Martyr described Christian wor-ship: “And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather togeth-er to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read... then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imi-tation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray... when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each...”. The Mass we celebrate today has the same structure.

Why does Mass start with the Sign of the Cross?

We always begin the celebration of Mass by making the sign of the cross. In this way we recall our baptism which was “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”, when we became part of Christ's Mystical Body. We are also reminded that God is a Trinity of three persons, though one divine nature. Further, we call to mind Christ's passion and death on Calvary. It is by Christ's free acceptance of death on a cross that we are reconciled to God.

Why does the Priest say “the Lord be with you” or “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all”?These are special forms of greeting used only by bishops, priests and deacons and both are taken from the Bible. They are forms of blessing and with these profound greetings the priest (with arms spread in a symbolic gesture) welcomes everyone to the Eucharistic celebration. We return the greeting by responding “and also with you.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:55 am

Monday, January 15, 2007

Last Year Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor published a “White Paper” “Communion and Mission” setting out future pastoral priorities for our diocese. This was in response to the earlier consultation process “Graced in the Spirit” when we together reflected upon the new circumstances in the Catholic Church – including the reduced number of priests and of people going to Sunday Mass. In the White Paper The Cardinal said

“The first priority must surely be the universal call to holiness manifested in each one of us through a life of prayer and worship. …..Our parishes should be schools of prayer in which there are opportunities for people to learn how to pray and to be supported in doing so. …..

“…our prayer must be rooted in a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Holy Eucharist. Sunday Eucharist is the special day of faith, the Day of the Risen Lord, and a crucial experience of our Catholic faith. The Eucharist, declared the Second Vatican Council, is the “source and summit” of the life and mission of the Church. This is why, day by day, Sunday by Sunday, the Mystery of Christ is celebrated. We must always seek an appreciation of the Mystery that we celebrate. We need more thorough catechesis on the meaning of the Eucharist, in order to take special care in understanding and preparing for its proper celebration.”

We will be considering various ways of putting this into action this year. To start with we are proposing two things.

1. Last November the leaders our 40 or so parish groups met, prayed and talked together about the parish, in the light of John Paul II’s letter for the third Millennium. We discerned a need to have a monthly Holy Hour to pray for the parish. We plan to have this on the first Friday of each month, from 7-8 p.m. starting next Month, on the 2nd February, the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord, or ‘Candlemas’. (We will probably do it all by candlelight!) At each holy hour we will be inviting three specific groups to be present and to present some specific petitions concerning their work.

2. On the front of the newsletter, over the next few weeks, we plan to have some question and answer pieces on the meaning of the various parts of the Mass.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:50 am

Tuesday, January 09, 2007
A Man with no eyes sees more clearly than we who have vision.

From a Universe article by (Lord) David AltonJust before Christmas the blind Chinese Human Rights activist, 34-year-old Chen Guang Cheng, was given a four year prison sentence.He was convicted after first exposing and then speaking out against the policy of forced abortions and sterilisations in the Shandong Province of China. More than 130,000 women were forcibly aborted as part of the coercive one child policy.
This is a policy which Britain supports through our taxes (via international organisations funded by the British Government and who in turn fund the Chinese Population Association).… (Chen is) a man who has no eyes but sees quite clearly the enormity of what we choose to look away from. Although he lost his sight in childhood, Chen's vision of humanity and of human rights has helped to shine a light on the harrowing ordeal of countless Chinese women and their families. When local officials in Shandong began to impose their draconian coercive…. he began a legal action in the courts on behalf of the women who were being forcibly aborted and sterilised. …
Time magazine have just voted him one of the world's most influential 100 people.Initially Chen approached the State Family Planning Commission asking them to stop the outrages. They had Chen thrown into the back of a vehicle and then placed him under house arrest for three months. Observers report that hired dozens of thugs regularly visited his home, to intimidate him and his wife. ‘….…. in August last Chen was jailed for four years and three months for "damaging public property" and for organising villagers to disrupt traffic. …The whole process has been a total travesty of justice - and, a year before China hosts the Olympics, once again exposes the attitude of this Communist regime to human rights. … From his cell Chen told the outside world: "I am still engaged in the rights campaign. Don't worry about me. Think of it as if
I have embarked on a long journey. My resolve has not been shaken. I will never give up." …..Through Jubilee Campaign a nationwide protest has been launched calling for Chen's release. This will take the form of a postcard campaign to the Chinese Ambassador in London. The campaign is supported by LIFE, Right to Life and others. A sample postcard can be see on the noticeboard to the right of the glass norticeboard at the back of Church. Many will be available next weekend. In the meantime it would be a good idea to write to our M.P. about the government’s involvement in the Chinese policy.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:55 am