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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Monday, April 30, 2007
I have been here at St. Mary Magdalen's for seven months now and I am pleased to be able to announce that I have been accepted by the Diocese of Westminster to begin training for the priesthood. By the Grace of God, I will start this in September at Allen Hall in Chelsea. This training is another step in my discernment – I'm not measuring up for clerical dress yet, but hopefully I will be ordained after completing six years of training.

The reason I came here (besides the generosity of priests and parishioners on whose support I have gratefully been able to rely) was to help me decide whether to do this. By living and working among you, by praying aloud with you and in silence on my own, I have been able to take this step towards priesthood. I have been privileged to spend time with the young people of the parish especially in helping with our youth projects, with people who are new to the faith in our “Jour-ney in Faith” group and to try to contribute something to the community through my work in the liturgy and with various Holy Hours and whatever help I can lend.

Such experience is for me indispensable. There is a French saying (so I'm told by Monsieur Martin Plunkett, a francophile also living in Clergy House) that “you can't be a blacksmith without being a blacksmith”. Perhaps it doesn’t sound so good in English. But it does I think apply twofold to being a priest! Without the grace of ordination I can't fully appreciate the reality of priestly life and work. But by working here so closely to our dedicated priests I have gained invaluable insights. It is especially this opportunity at least to see first hand what it is “to be a blacksmith” that has enabled me to decide to go forward. For through these experiences and relationships with all here it has seemed to me that the Lord is calling me to love Him and other people in this way – a vocation.

Therefore, I will stay here in Willesden until August, continuing all the work I've been doing and hopefully growing closer to God through it all. I hope to take a break then before moving to the seminary where another exciting chapter of my discernment journey will begin! On this World Day of Prayer for Vocations I especially ask your prayers for all men and women who seek to answer God's call in their lives through priesthood or religious life.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:50 am

Friday, April 27, 2007
Last time we talked about the Mass, we explained that liturgy was our public prayer as Christ's Body. Because it has this public and communal dimension, it has a set ritual or formula. The entire Mass is an example of “liturgy”, but it can be split up into the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

What is the structure of the Liturgy of the Word?
At Mass, the Liturgy of the Word comes after the Penitential Rite, the Gloria and the Opening Prayer (see previous Mass Questions and Answers). It consists of readings from the scriptures; a homily in which the minister (a bishop, priest or deacon) explains the readings; the Profession of Faith, which is usually reciting the Creed; and the Prayer of the Faithful (also called the General Intercessions or the Bidding Prayers), in which the people intercede for all mankind.

What is the significance of the readings in the Liturgy of the Word?
God speaks to us through the readings. We learn about our redemption and salvation. The readings are a spiritual food for us. In the Liturgy of the Word it is said we are nourished at the table of God's word. This nourishment is essential for us and essential to the sacraments. For the sacraments are acts of faith and listening to God's word nourishes our faith and helps it to grow. The first reading is from the Old Testament (or the Acts of the Apostles during Eastertide); the Psalm is a reflection on this first reading; the second reading is from the New Testament – usually from the letters of the Apostles.

Why do we stand to greet the Gospel and sing (or say) a verse of welcome?
After the second reading, everyone stands and the special “Alleluia” verse is sung (except during Lent) joyfully to prepare for the reading from the Gospel. Sometimes the Book of Gospels is carried in procession to the lectern. This is because Christ is present in his word and especially present therefore in the Gospels, which contain his sayings. The four Gospels are of pre-eminent value to us “for they are the principal witness for the life and teaching of the incarnate Word, our saviour” (from the Second Vatican Council document Dei Verbum, n. 18). Before the Gospel is read we make the sign of the cross with our right thumb on our forehead, lips and heart saying silently to ourselves,“May the Word of God be on my mind, on my lips and in my heart”.
(This piece adapts text taken from the Sunday Missal)

posted by Sinead Reekie at 12:59 pm

Monday, April 02, 2007
Today as we enter into Holy week we celebrate Palm Sunday. On this day, also called Passion Sunday, the Church remembers Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem just days before his crucifixion. As we hear the Gospel account of Our Lord’s passion we are reminded that we approach Easter, the great feast of God’s mercy and new life.

In this time of grace we are offered again a chance to draw close to our loving Saviour, offering him the crosses of our lives. This is a good time to come to the sacrament of confession to allow the grace of his forgiveness to become more real for us. Our last pope John Paul II gave us this message:

“Confession is an act of honesty and courage: an act of entrusting ourselves, beyond sin, to the mercy of a loving and forgiving God. It is an act of the prodigal son who returns to his Father and is welcomed by him with the kiss of peace.” Homily at San Antonio 1987

All are invited to the service of reconciliation on Tuesday of this week to receive this ‘kiss of peace’ from Jesus. Are our hearts bruised from life’s or-deals? Then he invites us once again to accept our need of him. In this way we can enter into Easter without fear of our weaknesses being an offence to God.

We can also ask Our Lady to walk with us through Holy Week; she whom Jesus gave to us from the cross. As our Mother she helps us, especially during life’s difficult moments. May her prayers unite us that we may celebrate the mystery of Christ’s redemption with love and devotion. Through this may we find a foretaste of that day when every tear will be wiped away.

A great legacy of John Paul II was the feast of Divine Mercy which he helped to establish. There is a novena which can be begun on Good Friday to prepare for this. There will be a Holy Hour in the Church on the feast day, the first Sunday after Easter. Confessions will again be available.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 11:30 am