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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Monday, May 16, 2011
Fourth Sunday of Easter Year A 15th May 2011
Some of our post-Confirmation teenagers will be using their talents to entertain a week on Saturday (28th, 7:30 pm). They will be offering their gifts in gratitude for your gift of money and prayer enabling them to go to meet the Pope in Madrid at World Youth Day this August – and some other Catholic youth events. It is not easy to be a practising Catholic teenager today and your support is very valuable.

So three pounds will enable you to see:

Marc Norris a great Catholic (clean) comedian, proving that to be funny you don’t have to break traditional taboos, or encourage greeds.
Lifehouse Drama: A mime and dance act depicting the battle for the soul between Jesus Christ and various temptations
Rap Dance by Anton, Gerald and Andrew – three of our very own young people who have been exhilarating audiences with their power, speed and grace all over the youth Catholic scene in London
Traditional Sri Lankan dance by young dancers who are in demand for big occasions for the London Sri Lankan community
and instrumental and song pieces by others of our youngsters

Refreshments will also be available. All at the King’s Hall, 150 yards along the Harlesden Road from the Church, starting at 7:30 pm, Saturday 28th May.

Our young people who are going on World Youth Day have been linking up with some from Ealing Abbey parish once a month for catechetical, prayerful and social preparation. They will be joining with thousands of young people from all over the world who have links with the French-founded Emmanuelle Community. They will meet in Paray de Monial, south East France on August 12th, travelling via Lourdes to be in Madrid for 17th August for more catechesis just before Pope Benedict arrives in Madrid. On the night of 20th August an expected two million young Catholics will gather at a Madrid aerodrome to keep vigil with the Pope, sleep under the stars and celebrate the Mass of World Youth Day on the Sunday morning.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:01 am

Monday, May 09, 2011
Third Sunday of Easter Year A 8 May 2011

In the Church porch you can find some copies of the Catholic Truth Society leaflet “Contraception and Natural Family Planning”? Why have we made these available at this time?

Blessed Pope John Paul II died six years ago. Last weekend he was beatified. When he died, the media attempted to overview his life. Most of the coverage reflected the widespread senti-ment: “great guy; pity about his crazy opposition to artificial contraception”. The problem with that is that this teaching was not just his. It has been quite explicitly and very formally the teaching of every Pope since it became controversial in the early twentieth century. It has also been part of the Christian moral tradition going back to the beginning of the Church. So either the Church of Christ has made a massive mistake or the world has. The former is not possible if Jesus is truly God and continues to be present in His Church today, as Roman Catholicism believes.

On the Saturday night on which Blessed John Paul II died, the BBC Six O’Clock News gave their own assessment of his life, very much along these lines. At the 6:30 pm Mass that night I preached about these issues, but quickly realised that I was getting into deep water. So I promised to write about it in this space the following weekend.

After penning a piece entitled “The Church’s Teaching on the Marital Act”, I realised I needed to do a follow-up piece entitled “Going against our culture: Is it realistic?” After that, I came to the conclusion that we needed another one on “Difficult Cases”, and a final one after that called “The Practicality of Conversion.” I tried here to show awareness of the difficulty this teaching presents to many modern men and women today as well as trying to present it as the liberating truth. I tried to show the importance today of understanding that the sexual act unifies and forms the married couple as generous parents (whether or not it’s most concrete and beautiful fruit of human conception results). The piece can be seen on-line at /Publications/Magazines /Mar06/Mar06ParishApproachToChurchsTeachingonMaritalAct.html, with some white A4 copies at the back – as well as the colour CTS leaflet mentioned above.

If these teachings affect you, can I urge you to take a copy of the CTS leaflet and to consider some of the deeper issues by reading the longer explanation of six years ago. We owe it to God and to ourselves to listen attentively to the voice of the Church amidst the loud clamour of non-Christian ideas about that deeply human mystery of sex and love.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 10:32 am

Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday) Year A 01 May 2011
During Sunday morning: Beatification ceremonies shown live in the Annexe
2:30 pm onwards: Divine Mercy service – with Confessions, in Church
Monday evening: Cake, wine and screening of the film “John Paul II” with Jon Voight, in Annexe
Next weekend: Issuing of polished versions of our 2005 leaflets: ”Explaining the Church’s teaching concerning the marriage act”

It’s as many as six years since Pope John Paul II died. Today Pope Benedict beatifies his predecessor. He proclaims that the Pope is in heaven. Deo Gratias. We hope to follow him there!

When John Paul II visited Holland, in response to some young people protesting against Church teaching on the maleness of the priesthood and the martial meaning of sex, he said “My dear young people, even if it were in my power to give you these things, do you really think they would bring you closer to God?” Six years since he died we could all ask ourselves a similar question. Over the last years have we become closer to our Lord and friend Jesus Christ? John Paul gave us and gives us some pointers – and as a result we offer the four things listed above to help us.

He was truly prodigious in the amount, range and originality of writing, initiative, travel and personal meetings he engaged in. Yet above all he was a man of prayer and penance, rarely letting, even calls from the President of the United States, interrupt frequent times of contemplation with God. He was a man who knew, experienced deeply the incredible love of God.

He really wanted others to share that experience. To this end, in what was perhaps one of the most important for him of his initiatives, he instituted, today’s universal feast, the day of his beatification. That is Divine Mercy Sunday. On this Sunday, through the inspirations of St Faustina, whom Pope John Paul canonised, he wanted the amazing mercy of God to be proclaimed. On this day we are especially enabled by the Holy Spirit to know how damaging the sin of Adam and our sin has been in knocking us off course, and how incredible God’s faithful live for us still is, through Christ crucified.

So at 2:30 pm onwards today we will have a special service, involving the chance to go to confession. The person availing themselves of this sacrament, with a deep sorrow and love of God, and of Holy Communion, is promised deep healing from God (i.e. a “Plenary Indulgence”). Also, in the annexe we are having large screen showings of the Beatification ceremonies live this morning and of the very well reviewed film “John Paul II” tomorrow night – 7pm for 7:30pm.

Finally, next weekend we plan to reissue slightly simplified versions of the special newsletters on the Church’s teaching on love and sex which we printed immediately after the death of John Paul II six years ago. They were in response to the very prominent media assessments of the Pope as great, except for his upholding of perennial Christian teaching on sex. Blessed John Paul - pray for us

posted by Sinead Reekie at 10:22 am

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion Year A 17 April 2011
HISTORY OF A PROCESSION: Good Friday 1 p.m. v.2
The Good Friday procession of witness this year is replaced with a 1 pm gathering outside St Andrews’ Church. This is because it has been decided that it is too dangerous to pursue our annual Good Friday procession on the High Road without formally closing the road. This decision was made by the police, and supported by the council. No doubt they had genuine safety and work-load concerns in mind. Yet unfortu-nately it was made in such a way as to make it, virtually impossible to arrange the required road closure.

We were told we could use the footpaths. However, relegating hundreds of us to the crowded, narrow pavement would not enable us to have our usual banners, music, atmosphere etc. So we made re-peated pleas to all concerned, but to no avail. Below is a timeline of some relevant communications.

Up to about 2004: Police steward our brief use of one side of the road
Up to 2008: Police are happy to let us steward it, which goes very successfully.
N.B.: No need forseen formally to close the road (by a Traffic Management Order)
2009 & 2010: We do not try to organize it
13th February 2011: As usual we submit the Police's "Notification of Public Procession"
28th February: Police: “it will need to take place on the footpaths … There will be no police provided”
1st March: We request a meeting which is, understandably, not possible.
3rd Mar:Police:“Without a policing presence,…for safety reasons the pavement is the only real option”
14th March: Police: “if you wished to march on the road, you would need to apply for a Traffic Management Order from the council” costing “£3,000”(This cost suggestion turns out to be a mistake)
c. 20th March: Phone conversations confirm this decision.
30th March: We write to some local councillors to ask for flexibility. They apparently pass this on to the Council Traffic Manager who confirms to the councillors, copying us in, that it is too late to get a Traffic Management Order (“about five weeks” are necessary) and therefore we cannot use the road.
15th April: To this date we have not even received an acknowledgement from any of the councillors.

N.B. Despite some press reports we have never intended to “defy” the order, and the Council did not “ban” the march. But they, and the police, have inadvertently made it virtually impossible to stage the march, except as a damp squib. We are very grateful for all the excellent things these great institutions do for us here in multi-cultural Brent. Yet in this case they seem to have subtly highlighted something important, and worrying, about our culture.

For the question remains: what has happened between 2008 and 2011? Up to 2008, from our point of view, causing us hassle never seemed to be dreamt of. We ere acknowledged as Christians wanting, on their big day, briefly to use the public highway in a manageable manner. Now it is a major issue. This is surely not a conspiracy – just a subtle change of attitude. Perhaps it is an aspect of what Pope Benedict lamented, in his profound and acclaimed words to representatives of British society in Westminster Hall, last September:“I cannot but voice my concern at the increasing marginalisation of religion, particularly of Christianity ... [relegating it] to the purely private sphere.”

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:49 am