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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Monday, February 26, 2007
First Sunday of Lent 25th February 2007 Year C
Continuing our Questions and Answers on the Mass

Why do we to call to mind our sins at the beginning of Mass?
This part of the Mass is called the Penitential Rite. We acknowledge our sinfulness and pray for forgiveness. This is in order to put ourselves in the proper condition for the celebration of the Mass, where Christ is truly present to us, offering Himself for us, under the outward appearance of bread and wine. “Whoever, therefore, eats the Bread or drinks the Cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup”(1Cor11:27-28). As we say sorry for all our sins during the Penitential Rite, we unite as a community to receive Christ in Word and Sacrament.

Why do we recite the “Kyrie”, “Lord have mercy... Christ have mercy”?
Having confessed our sins to God, we ask for His mercy. We trust that God in His infinite love will have mercy on us and grant us forgiveness. “Lord have mercy” is a very old – even pre-Christian – expression and even when Mass was celebrated exclusively in Latin (as it was in the West from the eighth to the twentieth century), the Kyrie was still said in Greek, “Kyrie Eleison, Christe Eleison”, which was the original language of Christian worship. This is testimony to its ancient origins. We usually use the Greek form at our 12 noon Mass.

Does this Rite take away the need for sacramental confession?
At the end of this Rite the priest says “May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life.” Participation in this Rite, in the context of Holy Mass, does forgive small (‘venial’) sins. Mentioning them in confession is still a very fruitful practice. Should we be in the state of what is called “Mortal Sin”, that is where we have deliberately done something seriously wrong (as described in the Catechism), knowing it was wrong, we still can and should take part in Mass, but should mention these sins in confession before receiving Holy Communion.

NEXT WEEK: What if I’m not sure what ‘state’ I’m in? What if through “no fault of my own” I still seem to be barred from Holy Communion?

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:42 am

Wednesday, February 21, 2007
This weekend we launch our fledgling parish library in the new bookshelf in the Annexe.

Half the books come from the old Jesus and Mary convent library in Park Avenue which closed a few years ago. These are by classic authors who have stood the test of time.

The other half of the books are on issues to do with family life today. In Fr Hugh’s first appointment as a priest, at St Mary’s Cadogan Street, Chelsea he was involved in a young family group. These books are mainly by contemporary authors and were found to be very helpful. For instance see, in the ‘parenting’ section, Joanna Bogle’s “Feasts and Seasons” with ideas for fun things families can do together to celebrate aspects of the Church’s liturgical year.

We are open to receiving donations of books which are of relevance to being a Catholic today and by reputable authors. These should be submitted through Clergy House. We have had our first such donation of a book by the brilliant modern American scripture scholar (who converted from being a Baptist lecturer) Scott Hahn. This fits very nicely into our small “Bible” section.

The sections are, from left to right, top down: “Explaining the Faith”; “The Bible”; “Saints”; “Spirituality”; “Parenting”; “The Modern Family”; “Marriage”.

The system for loaning books for a month at a time basically involves filling out a simple slip of paper from the grey box, leaving it in the small green basket. Returned books are placed on the bottom shelf and the returner signs a piece of paper. Access to the Annexe will just be whenever it is normally open – which included after most Sunday Masses and most evenings, immediately before and after group meetings there, as indicated in the newsletter.

It is of course crucial for the success and development of this project that this system works well and tightly. Borrow and Enjoy!

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:41 am

Monday, February 12, 2007
A Call to True Love


Subject to probable approval by Parliament the Sexual Orientation Regulations are very likely to become law this coming April. It is to become illegal to discriminate, in the provision of goods and service, against those who have declared a prominent sexual attraction to people of the same gender.

We have discussed the most public and immediate effect upon the Catholic church of these regulations in the last two weeks newsletters. Namely our adoption agencies, publicly acknowledged to be excellent, are to be prevented from functioning in accord with the intrinsic nature of the two thousand year old Catholic Church.
In short we would note that this is the first moment where the laws of our post-Christian culture formally clash with living out classical Christi-anity. This culture has received significant influence from a redefining of the meaning of sexual relations. The Catholic Church, as ever, witnesses to the perennial teaching from Christ which implies that this radical, anti-life, redefin-ition has been a dangerous wrong turning. This is already evident in the hundreds of daily abortions and the general lowering of respect for the human person.

We would note that these regulations will apply across a wide range of modern life from NHS care through to hotels and restaurants. A Christian person operating a bed and breakfast will break the law if they refuse to allow a gay couple to share a bed in their house. If a Church hires out its hall to other groups, it will not be lawful to refuse a gay group who wish to hire the hall.

Schools will also need to remove anything that might be termed "bias" in favour of heterosexuality. They could fall foul of the law by assuming or teaching that marriage or heterosexual relationships are more normal than homosexual relationships.

The Northern Ireland version of the Regulations which recently came into force make it illegal to harass someone on the basis of their sexual orientation. This is extremely concerning because the definition of harassment relies largely on the perception of the person who claims they were harassed: all they need do is allege that someone has ‘violated their dignity’ or that someone created a ‘hostile or insulting environment’ for them, and they can take legal action.

Our response: Write to our M.P. More importantly, attempt to respond more fully to Christ’s fundamental call to each of us to “Repent and Believe the Good News.” Renew our call to God for the grace to act wisely, charitably, and to resist temptation to cooperate in thought or action with the undermining of true love. This is how we will rebuild Christian culture. Above all don’t get swept downstream.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 12:44 pm

Monday, February 05, 2007
This week the government have confirmed that, subjects to ratification by the two Houses of Parliament, from this April, the Sexual Orientation Regulations will become law. These regulations will have numerous effects upon our ability to live the Catholic faith without incurring legal sanction.

The most immediate and therefore currently prominent of these will be the forcing of Catholic adoption agencies to cooperate with the institutionalization of gay partnerships. The Scottish Bishops have made it clear that their agencies will flout the law and take the consequences. Cardinal Cormac has highlighted that this is just the first step towards further anti-Catholic discrimination. The dam has been breached, however subtly.

We discussed the adoption issue last week. For now let us remember this fundamental principle: to lessen the suffering of one person by increasing the long-term suffering and corruption of someone else is not right, and in the end will only have decreased the suffering of the former temporarily.

So if one takes the extreme case (which has never happened) of a couple, who publicly identify themselves as a homosexual partnership, approaching a Catholic adoption agency – and (again purely hypothetically) the agency has a very needy child ‘in care’ and no other appropriate couple to place the child with. Still it cannot place the child with such a couple. This is because it goes against the very nature of what the Catholic Church is in its mission to bring true love and peace to the people of the world in this life and the next. The Church of Christ cannot cooperate publically with what is, in its rational and revealed belief, the undermining of the true meaning of sex, and so, for instance, of the family and respect for innocent human life.

This breakdown has already begun and its fruits are all around us to see, the increasing number of children in care is just one aspect. For Christ to cooperate with this newly invented morality would actually spell the end of coherent morality itself. We trust that, through the Cross, there will always be a better solution for children in care. Catholic adoption agencies, acknowledged by all to be particularly good at their job, have found this to be the case – as have all who are faithful to Christ. Please write to our M.P. concerning forthcoming vote.
Next week, as promised: other consequences of these regulations.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 10:15 am