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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Friday, February 29, 2008
Pastoral message from Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor
Dear brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ,

As you will know, there is a Bill currently in Parliament which touches on profound questions of human life and dignity. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill has just completed its passage through the House of Lords and will be debated in the House of Commons in the next few weeks.

The Bill extends the scope of scientific research on human embryos and even allows the creation of animal and human hybrid embryos for research. It removes a provision to have regard for the child’s need for a father when IVF methods are used. And there is every chance that there will be attempts in the House of Commons to use this Bill as a vehicle to liberalise the abortion law still further.

Many people of all faiths and none are deeply concerned by the moral questions raised by this Bill. These concerns were set out in Parish briefings sent to every parish from the Bishops’ Conference to all our parishes over the last few weeks. Now is the time for our voices to be heard. This needs as many people as possible to write to - and better still – to go and see their MP and to register their deep concern about this Bill. Please urge your MP to support amendments to the Bill which would limit embryo research, recognize the need for children to have knowledge of their biological father, and which would reduce rather than increase the numbers of abortions. MPs should also request and be granted a free vote on those parts of this Bill which deals with fundamental issues of personal conscience.

During this time of Lent we are encouraged to reflect on our own lives and to rededicate ourselves as Christians to serving the Gospel in our world. Taking action on this pressing issue now helps to remind us that our Christian witness can never just be personal but involves us too as citizens committed to serving the common good of society and to upholding the human dignity of all.
With my prayers,
+Cormac Card. Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster
on behalf of the Bishops of England and Wales

posted by Sinead Reekie at 2:15 pm

Friday, February 22, 2008
A Gentle Reminder
A Gentle Reminder
To receive Holy Communion or the Eucharist means the same thing, it is the Body of Christ that we receive, it is our spiritual food as we move forward towards Heaven. There are no words to describe the sacredness of what we receive at Mass. When it comes to receiving, the priest or extraordinary minister holds up the consecrated host and says to the person “The body of Christ”, to which the person replies “Amen” meaning “so be it” or
“let it be so”. Amen is a sort of completion word, a conclusion. Amen may be described as a sacred “agreement” word between God and the person receiving Holy Communion. In other words, it is a very sacred moment when you receive the Body of Christ (either on the tongue or on the hand, supported by the other hand underneath).

Sadly some practicing Catholics do not know about or perhaps have lost sight of the sacred character of that great moment when receiving Holy Communion. Again the priest or minister of Communion holds up the sacred host and says to the person” Body of Christ”: instead of saying “ Amen” clearly, I have heard such replies as “ cheers”, “thanks mate”, “you’re looking well”, “good-on-ye”, in other “responses” the “amen” becomes some sort of a low-sounding grunt, while a small few receive the Eucharist with dirty hands or with gloves on and some with chewing gum in their mouth!!!! This all adds up to a sheer lack of respect for the Eucharist.

Also it is a sign of poor spiritual preparation for the Mass. The worst offenders, if that’s the right word, are among the adults. By and large most people receive the Sacred Host with reverence, great! Keep it that way: But where there is a lack of reverence in this matter, then the priest is bound to express what has just been expressed. It may simply be that some have not heard it before. I, as a priest here in this parish, enjoy celebrating Mass with people of God, for the people of God. After each Mass, after distributing the Eucharist among the faithful, I feel fulfilled having done what God expects me to do, for a priest this is a great privilege. I’ll leave you to reflect on what I have just expressed, and lastly concerning the FAST before Holy Communion (“Father! I never knew we had to fast before receiving Communion”..!).

Canon Law (919) states the following “whoever is to receive the Eucharist is to abstain for at least one hour before Holy Communion from all food and drink, with the sole exception of water and medicine, the elderly and those who are suffering from some illness, as well as those who care for them, may receive the Eucharist even if within the preceding hour they have consumed something.” Fr Kieran S.V.D.
P.S. the church also asks communicants to make a special sign of reverence before Holy Communion. This can be a bow, genuflection or the sign of the cross.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 1:49 pm

Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Last summer our Seaside Day Trip was in aid of the “Ngwino Turirimbane” Music Therapy project, which Helen Leith is involved in. Helen is part of the St Boniface secular institute based at the German Centre in Exeter Rd. The project involves her and Judith Nockolds making regular visits out there to help children who are disable-ed or orphaned, partly as a result of the awful violence in that area a few years ago.

We have just heard the awful news that following a recent earthquake two centres involved in the project which house the children have been very seriously damaged. The children from one of the centres are currently having to live and sleep in the fields (with no tents/shelter and it is the rainy season). One of the deaf children even had a heart attack during the tremors.

For this reason this Lent’s family fast day, next Friday, is in aid of efforts to help them. Just
(i) take a blank white envelope from the porch
(ii) next Friday fast from food in prayerful solidarity with the suffering children
(iii) place any monies saved (& any donation), in the envelope
(iv) next Sunday place the envelope in the main collection.

Please see the display at the back of the Church.

Also Helen will be holding a Meditative Music Evening at St. Agnes’s, Cricklewood, on Thursday, 6th March at 7.30 pm (full details inside) with any donations raised from it being sent to these dear people in Rwanda. Thank you.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:24 am

PIA Group - Tuesday February 12th
The PIA Group is a new initiative which has grown out of the recent evenings which looked at the pro-life question in today’s society. The name of the group comes from the mission: To Pray, to Inform and to Act in matters related to this very contemporary and important issue.

Pray – This Sunday’s Gospel reminds us that Jesus calls us to follow God’s Word and therefore to seek his will first and foremost. How can we know the best thing to do if we do not know the will of God? Prayer is the way we can discern together how we are to act in the world.

Inform – Another purpose of this new group is to inform others about what is going on in today’s world and what the Church thinks about it. This Tuesday we will have Matthew O’Gorman speaking to us. He is a member of the charity ‘Life’, and will be educating us on their work and also how it may be applied in the parish.

Act – Finally there is the need to act. It is here that we respond to the call of the Gospel by working together to bring others the Good News. One of the key themes in our Faith is the defence of those who are most vulnerable. In our day this applies especially to the abuses of modern science which threaten those who are at the very dawn of their lives.

The name of the group is also related to one of the titles given to Our Lady in the ‘Hail Holy Queen’. The Latin word ‘pia’ means ‘loving’ and is a sign to remind us of Our Lady’s very real maternal intercession and example in matters of human life. Her humble trust of God worked in a quiet way but has brought salvation to the world. We hope that she may guide this group so that it too could be an instrument of God’s love today. Please support the group, all are welcome.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:23 am

Wednesday, February 06, 2008
150th Anniversary
On the 11th February 1858 Our Lady visited Bernadette Soubirous in the small French town of Lourdes. The timing of this was very significant. France was recovering from the overthrow of an older order. The new promises made by the French Revolution and new technological discoveries were sweeping people away in their wake. In the middle of this time, which can be seen as a formative time for our modern society, God did something extraordinary.

Bernadette was a very ordinary young girl, even considered a bit simple by those around her, yet one day she was given a great privilege. Our Lady appeared to her and told her that she (Mary) was the “Immaculate Conception”. This title had been formally given to Mary by the Church just four years earlier meaning that Mary is, and always was, free from original sin. As the Immaculate Conception, Mary is able to be the Mother of God and the means through which Jesus brings his healing to us. Lourdes has therefore become a great centre of pilgrimage and healing.

To mark this special anniversary there are two events taking place in the parish. The first runs from the 2nd to 11th of February and involves receiving the plenary indulgence. To participate in this one must simply pray before the image of Our Lady, or better still at the grotto, for the Pope’s intentions and go to communion and confession within the week. The second event is our screening of the 1940’s film ‘The Song of Bernadette’ in the annexe next Saturday night. Both of these, in their different ways could serve to draw us deeper into an appreciation of this miraculous event.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 10:14 am