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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Tuesday, December 23, 2008
George Michael’s recently released “December Song” yearns, in a melancholy manner, for lost, somewhat faith-filled Christmasses. It has caught quite a few imaginations, and rung quite a few bells. One verse cries:

“There was always Christmas time, Jesus came to stay
I could believe in peace on Earth, And I could watch TV all day”

The Church’s celebration of Christmas is meant to make Jesus’s coming fresh, new – so that he does “come to stay” in our homes and in our hearts, and not go away again when we grow older, or when we pack up the decorations!

Jesus is offering himself to each of us this Christmas in a new way. He offers us new life in him. He offers to walk with us, to sustain us, to love us. This is what can stop Christmas becoming nostalgia, a feeling of something lost. Only keeping it fresh can do that. Only once again hoping and trying to surrender ourselves to Him can do this. No half-measures are ap-propriate here! Let’s all want, with His help, to give up old ways and take on new life. He could then do great things for our parish and give us grounds for “believing in peace on Earth”.

Many people through the centuries have described a significant moment where they turned to Him. Often times it is described as something very beautiful and, not infrequently, as something quite sudden. But for most it is not a big experience and it is not illuminated by lightning bolts or angels appearing. It is simply a choice to believe. It is sometimes a choice to begin following Christ. It is a choice to turn back to him fully in the sacrament of Reconciliation and say YES to his mercy. A choice to believe that in Holy Communion “Jesus is coming to stay” – permanently!

This Christmas He can renew our lives and our loves. Let’s let him, and hope and pray to be more open to receiving Him.

Let’s not let Christmas be mainly about “watching TV all day”, lest it become just another holiday to be nostalgic about. Let’s make our cribs more important than the TV. So that when we put the baby Jesus away for another year, we won’t be throwing the baby out with the bath water! This Christmas we trudge out to receive Jesus at Mass. Take him home with you.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 12:39 pm

If anyone is coming round to our house we worry about mess and clutter hanging around the house and inevitably have a big tidy up in preparation for the Christmas visitors. This Christ-mas, Jesus will offer himself to us in a way that He never did before. He will offer a unique Christmas present to each one of us of His love and reveal Himself to each of us in a new way

But…..we have to welcome Him into our homes and before He comes we have to prepare the house for His arrival, fluff the cushions, move all the dirty laundry and get the windows cleaned. The house is in fact our soul and to prepare for Christmas we have to get the windows of our soul cleaned.

Ok so you’re wondering what the window of your soul is …well imagine this…..All the time we are sat next to a window and God’s love is shining through the window on us very much like the sun would shine on a sunny day. His love warms us and helps us to follow Him. When we sin; whether it be small things or big things like missing Sunday mass, undermining some-one’s good name, or not being open to life in marriage; we turn away from God and when we do, we pour mud onto the window. God’s love can no longer shine through the window and warm us and we can no longer see Him close to us on the other side of the window.

When we go to confession we allow God to get out the Windolene & to clean the window. He offers us this g.t mercy in this healing sacrament because he knows we need to feel his mercy

The thing is that if we look to the story of the prodigal son which we all know and have heard a million times we can see that it must have been hard for the him to turn around. It must have taken a massive amount of courage. He had to trust the father….can you imagine in those miles of walking back to see his father how worried and anxious he might have been….But he kept walking and when his father saw him he ran to embrace him. Equally after years away when we walk into that confession the father will run to embrace us.

It may have been one month since your last good confession… may have been 5 yrs, now is the time to come back, get the windows cleaned so Jesus can come and live in your house.

This weekend and next confession will be available before and after each Sunday mass and next thursday there will be a penitential service at 7:30 pm.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 12:38 pm

Next Saturday (13th December) our parishioner Michael Jarmulowicz will be formally accepted by Bishop Alan Hopes as a candidate for ordination to the permanent diaconate. His ordination to the permanent diaconate will take place in our parish in late June.

The Permanent Diaconate dates back to apostolic times with the selection of the first seven deacons, described in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 6. One of the first deacons, St Stephen, became the first Christian martyr. In about the 5th Century the permanent diaconate gradually died out, although the ministry of deacon has always been retained by the Church, albeit as a step on the path to becoming a priest. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Second Vatican Council restored the ministry of the Permanent Diaconate.

The word ‘deacon’ comes from the Greek word diakonia, which means ‘servant’. The deacon is ordained for the service of God’s people to work with the bishop and his priests. It is a vocation, a calling by God, to serve the Church in a special way, with specific graces given by the Sacrament of Holy Orders. The Deacon is neither a layman nor a priest, but straddles both vocations. The vocation to the diaconate is often a calling within the vocation of marriage. The Deacon is expected to continue his normal employment and support his family; and his main responsibility is always to put his family first.

The deacon is not there to replace or take over from the many volunteers who freely offer their services to the Church. The Catechism states:- “Deacons are ministers ordained for tasks of service of the Church; they do not receive the ministerial priesthood, but ordination confers on them important functions in the ministry of the word, divine worship, pastoral governance, and the service of charity, tasks which they must carry out under the pastoral authority of their bishop.” (CCC 1596)

Over the coming months we will explain the threefold ministry of the diaconate; Service of the Word; Service of the Liturgy and Service of charity, so you will be able to better understand Michael’s role in the parish after his ordination.

All parishioners are invited to the Candidacy Mass at Westminster Cathedral next Saturday (13th December) at 6:00 pm. Some leaflets on the Permanent Diaconate are available at the back of the Church.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 12:37 pm

Time given to him is not wasted; on the contrary, it is time gained for our humanity; it is time which fills our days with light and hope.” – Pope John Paul II, Dies Domini

We will be reintroducing the devotion of a Holy Hour spent in prayer and meditation before the Exposed Blessed Sacrament on the First Friday of each month from 7:00 – 8:00pm. The first Friday in the new liturgical year falls in the first week of Advent, and is a wonderful opportunity to start our spiritual preparations for Christmas.

But why a Holy Hour before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament? After Jesus instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper, he went to the Garden of Gethsemane and asked his apostles “Can you not watch one hour with me?” Pope John Paul II wrote:-

“The worship of the Eucharist outside of the Mass is of inestimable value for the life of the Church….. It is pleasant to spend time with him, to lie close to his breast like the Beloved Disciple (cf. Jn 13:25) and to feel the infinite love present in his heart… how can we not feel a renewed need to spend time in spiritual converse, in silent adoration, in heartfelt love before Christ present in the Most Holy Sacrament? …..

We as individuals and the parish as a whole will receive great blessings from such adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. Saint Alphonsus Liguori, who wrote: ‘Of all devotions, that of adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the greatest after the sacraments, the one dearest to God and the one most helpful to us.”

Like most of us, you probably find it difficult to pray for such a long time. So to help us pray, the hour will be divided into four 15 minute periods of scripture readings, prayers and meditations interspersed with periods of silence. These will help us open our hearts to hear what Jesus wants to say to each one of us.
If there are any who would like to come but are unable, then let Clergy House know as we have volunteers with cars ready to bring people to Church for this great devotion.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 12:35 pm

In November we have been praying for our loved ones and perhaps reflecting upon grief and perhaps experiencing grief. Here are some extracts from C.S Lewis’s diary of mourning his dear wife (‘A Grief Observed’), to whom he refers as ‘H’

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. […]

There are moments, most unexpectedly, when something inside me tries to assure me that I don't really mind so much, not so very much, after all. Love is not the whole of a man's life. I was happy before I ever met H. I've plenty of what are called 'resources.' People get over these things. Come, I shan't do so badly. One is ashamed to listen to this voice but it seems for a little to be making out a good case. Then comes a sudden jab of red-hot memory, and all this 'commonsense' vanishes like an ant in the mouth of a furnace. […]

Meanwhile, where is God? […] When you are happy […] if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be – or so it feels – welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away […]

Something quite unexpected has happened. […] at the very moment when, so far, I mourned H. least, I remembered her best. Indeed, it was something (almost) better than memory; an instantaneous, unanswerable impression. To say it was like a meeting would be going too far. […] It was as if the lifting of the sorrow removed a barrier. […]
Is it similarly the very intensity of the longing that draws the iron curtain, that makes us feel we are staring into a vacuum when we think about our dead? […]

And so, perhaps, with God. I have gradually come to feel that the door is no longer shut and bolted. Was it my own frantic need that slammed it in my face? The time when there is nothing at all in your soul except a cry for help may be just the time when God can't give it: you are like the drowning man who can't be helped because he clutches and grabs. Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear […]

posted by Sinead Reekie at 12:23 pm