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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Monday, June 29, 2009
The Year of St Paul, celebrating the 2,000th anniversary of his birth, closes over the next 24 hours wtih ceremonies in Rome, ending at 17:30 tomorrow.. Did you manage to read a letter of his cover to cover? – there’s still time, and Philemon is very short!

We are now just into The Year for Priests to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the death of the Curé d'Ars, St John Mary Vianney. Our new Archbishop Nichols made the following introduction to the Year:

“The Year for Priests, called for by Pope Benedict XVI, is to be a year, in which, as a Church, we say that we are proud of our priests, that we love them, honour them and recognise with gratitude the witness of their lives and the generosity of their pastoral work.
During this Year of the Priests, as a Diocese, we will centre our effort around a renewed practice of prayer. In every parish we will centre this effort around prayer before the Blessed Sacrament and the Rosary. I hope that every parish will devote an hour each week to prayer for priests before the Blessed Sacrament and that a rhythm of Forty Hours devotion can be established around the Deaneries. I hope that this renewal will reach to our schools too.
This practice of prayer, as well as study, will sustain us in our life together […]

The Diocese has proposed ST JOHN SOUTHWORTH as a further patron for the year. He was a 17th century priest whose body is in our Cathedral near to where he ministered as a further patron for the Year. During the plague of 1636, he tended the sick with outstanding devotion and courage.
After a series of imprisonments for ministering as a Catholic priest, Southworth was apprehended for the final time and sent to be tried at the Old Bailey in 1654. Although encouraged to do so, he would not deny that he was a Catholic priest.
On 28 June 1654 Southworth was dragged on a hurdle to Tyburn where he was to be hung, drawn and quartered. Unusually Southworth was allowed to wear his vestments at the place of execution and, the executioner having pity for him, he was allowed to hang to death, rather than having to endure the yet more terrible ordeal of being quartered whilst still alive. His last recorded words which he spoke from the gallows were, "My faith and obedience to my superiors is all the treason charged against me; nay, I die for Christ’s law, which no human law, by whomsoever made, ought to withstand or contradict . . . To follow His holy doctrine and imitate His holy death, I willingly suffer at present; this gallows I look upon as His Cross, which I gladly take to follow my Dear Sav-iour . . I plead not for myself . . . but for you poor persecuted Catholics whom I leave behind me."

posted by Sinead Reekie at 12:22 pm

Monday, June 22, 2009
We have been honoured to have our new Archbishop amongst us this weekend. Let us reflect upon some of his very recently published and spoken thoughts concerning modern society, especially with regard to the developing attack upon Catholic education as being anti-social.
In a recently published essay “Community Cohesion and Catholic Education” in The Nation that Forgot God Archbishop Nichols points out that to get people of different religions and cultures to work well together it is not necessary nor sufficient to mix them at an early age. Rather it is necessary to educate the young coherently in appropriate values.
Yet the former approach seems to trump the latter in modern discourse. The open teaching of clear moral principles, which is sometimes even attacked as ‘indoctrination’, is rejected in favour what is termed ‘toleration’. In a 3rd June lecture at London University Nichols pointed out that in fact this is just the teaching of a different set of values, but in a less open and in fact less rational manner than is done in Catholic schools.
He argues that in fact the most rational foundation of moral values is the Creator of all. Religion then is indispensable to man’s happiness and his rational and moral operation, and so to fostering the values which are essential to multi-cultural community cohesion. “Shared moral reasoning as a basis for community cohesion is the alternative to radical individualism which has led us so far on a path that is clearly divisive and inimical to a cohesive society.”
In his London University lecture the Archbishop uses the concept of “human ecology” employed by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. The human person needs the right environment, in John Paul’s words, “to develop every aspect of the individual: social, intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual.”
Archbishop Nichols goes on: “When looked at more closely, this ‘human ecology’ is in fact a series of interlocking ecologies, as indeed is the complex of ecological systems which make up our natural environment.” Catholic schools foster an environment in which all are welcome, through, firstly, respecting each person who is “created by God and has an inner dignity, or spiritual dimension, that comes from God alone.” Secondly comes an “atmosphere of justice” and thirdly recognition of the “faith and religious experience which is innate in human beings”.
He goes on: “We recognize that just as all truth rests in the Word of God, through whom all things were made and through Whom all thing will come to their completion, so too the construction of a true human ecology can only be achieved in relationship to the Word [...] the centre of true human ecology is the person of Christ.”

posted by Sinead Reekie at 12:14 pm


We have recently had formal confirmation that, very sadly, after four years here, Fr Nimal, having enjoyed a holiday in his native Sri Lanka, will now not be returning to our parish. He has been having problems with his visa, our diocese has released him from his roles here, and his Archbishop we believe is giving him a new mission. It is particularly sad that we won’t be able personally to thank him for his warmth and committed work among us, not least with the sick, and to wish him well for the future. We will have a retiring collection for him next weekend. We will of course forward on any cards etc. Please pray for him and his new work

Novena to St Lawrence – for last nine days before Ordination
Novenas (derived from the Latin novem, meaning nine) – are an ancient tradition of praying over a period of nine days. This practice originated from the fact that at his ascension Jesus told his apostles to wait in Jerusalem and then he would send the Holy Spirit. They all stayed together in Jerusalem praying and nine days later, at Pentecost, they received the Holy Spirit.

We are offering a novena of prayers to St Lawrence, during these last nine days before Michael Jarmulowicz’s ordination, (which takes place of the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of the Mary, the day after the Year of the Priest begins, the Feast of the Sacred Heart, the 150th anniversary of the death of the Cure of Ars). Our intention will be that the parish may gain great fruit through Michael’s “conformation to Christ the Servant. Particularly during his first year, the Year of the Priest, may his service of priests and people be blessed with joy and peace, through St Lawrence’s intercession.
St Lawrence was one of the seven deacons of the Church of Rome who was martyred during the persecution of the Emperor Valerian on the 10th of August 258, four days after Pope Sixtus II. St Lawrence was asked by the emperor to bring the riches of the Church to him; his response was to bring the poor of Rome

posted by Sinead Reekie at 11:43 am

Monday, June 08, 2009

As Archbishop Nichols begins his tenure at Westminster a book has been published called "The Land that Forgot God" in which he has contributed an essay. In it he has this thought, which he repeated last week in a talk at London University:

"A society which limits itself - and its education - to a positivistic understanding of reason [limited to what can be positively seen] will find itself unable to determine shared moral principles and values. Such a society will lack cohesion. The rigorously secular, liberal project of community cohesion is mistaken in its fundamental view of the human person and simply will not work."

Some of this thought came from Pope Benedict who at Regensburg, Germany, in 2006 said, to Archbishop Nichols' approval: 'A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion to the realm of sub cultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures today.'

The feast of St Boniface was last Thursday. Back in the 7th century he managed to convert many in another society which "forgot God", pagan Germany. He had been sent by Pope Gregory. As our own Pope Benedict recently pointed out in his 11th March 09 General Audience, Boniface was a lot less successful before he had a papal mandate. He partly did this be chopping down one of the trees they worshipped. As well as converting some such actions also got him martyred.

As Pope Benedict sends Archbishop Nichols to us (e.g. he's actually here in the parish in two weeks time) let us pray that Archbishop Nichols may indeed be inspired to challenge our increasingly pagan multi-cultural society to return to its Christian roots, and "remember" God again –at a cost , we pray, of less than martyrdom.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 11:42 am

The two ‘top’ Anglican bishops have recently publicly pleaded with us not to vote for the British National Party next Thursday. This is because the party would appear to harbour attitudes which discriminate against certain sections of the human race, which we would be tempted to call racist. At the same time it has claimed that our Lord Jesus Christ would vote BNP. This would seem per-verse given that racist attitudes are clearly and simply against the very foundation of civil society as understood in the Christian vision of the world, that is the absolute dignity of the human person.

For exactly the same reason Catholic teaching is very clear that the issue of killing the most innocent of our brothers and sister in the womb or in the petri dish in our laboratories should be of the very highest of priorities when considering voting (N.B. the biological identity of the human conceptus is not is serious doubt – it is, unsurprisingly, human). We should note that various European groups are campaigning to impose abortion on demand in all member states. (See the purple A4 sheet in the porch concerning some v. important info. on top candidates in this election)

The above bishops were worried that the recent hyped-up scandal over (a minority of) M.P.’s expenses might make people stay at home, or vote for smaller parties, which under the P.R. system could lead to them getting seats. We should exercise our right to vote this Thursday – and remember there are other smaller parties as well as the BNP. Here are some of those on offer on Thursday, going from small to big – with some key words from their manifestos – (we will write more about the Christian attitude to the above ‘scandal’ soon - & being careful how we point the finger).

Christian People’s Alliance: “Respect of God's law, …Reconciliation,… human life (from fertilization until natural end) given by God. …Careful economic stewardship,… fairness of markets”
United Kingdom Independence Party: “No to European Union and … ensure that the future of our nation is decided by those of us who live here.”
Green Party: “create 1 million jobs through investment in renewable energy, housing, public transport and social care … addressing the urgent climate crisis”.
Liberal Democrats; “effective (EU) cooperation creates prosperity … protect Britain and catch terrorists and criminals who operate across national borders … tackle climate change.”
Conservatives: “We stand for a Europe of nation states, working together… We want the EU to cut waste and live within its means. …to rise to the challenge of climate change … (&) global poverty.”Labour: Invest and “do all we can to restore growth, save and create jobs and spread prosperity across Europe … tackle climate change, promote security and create (decent work) opportunities

posted by Sinead Reekie at 11:16 am