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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Friday, July 29, 2011
17th Sunday of the year – 24th July 2011

This weekend we have a pastoral letter from Archbishop Vincent Nichols on receiving Holy Communion, which follows a recent clarification from Rome concerning the issue in this country. There are copies at the back.

He encourages “reverence” at the moment of receiving Holy Communion and highlights the following points:
• It is the “norm” in this country to receive Holy Communion standing.
• The “prayerful procession” coming up to receive Holy Communion at the front is a sign of being one “people with a mission”
• All individuals have the right to received on the hand or the tongue, standing (expressing our pilgrim nature) or kneeling (expressing humility before God), also recently confirmed by Rome.
• When receiving Holy Communion standing then you should make a sign of reverence before.

In order to facilitate all these things next weekend we intend to introduce a development in the manner in which we receive Holy Communion. That is for all to receive at the front, standing in a horizontal row, at the foot of the sanctuary step. This means peeling off at the front of the communion procession to find a space in the line across the front of the Church. An Extraordinary Minister of Communion will still attempt to facilitate those for whom coming forward is very difficult. From next week we will implement this and have ushers to help.

This is something I, Fr Hugh, have had in mind during my time here – particularly since noticing the increasing amount of parishioners who are caught somewhat napping by having to receive Holy Communion immediately after the person in front has moved away. This can take away from the person’s concentration, whereas standing in a line across the front gives the communicant time to reflect in preparation to receive the Gift of God Himself. It also makes the no doubt accidental practise of walking some way away with the Sacred Host before consuming significantly less likely, along with the associated, if very rare, desecration of the Sacred Host by taking the Host back to the bench and then allowing the Host to drop on the floor and remain there.

I believe this will be a move forward for us all. It is a change I discussed with Extraordinary Ministers of Communion several years ago and since have had numerous individual positive conversations about. It is a change strongly supported by our soon-to-be Parish Priest, Fr Kevin Jordan. He recently introduced this at North Harrow, citing the further good reason that those who wish to exercise their right to kneel, which the Archbishop mentions in his letter, need to have this right facilitated. Such people would be recommended to go to one end of the line where we have altar rails and where kneelers will be available. This move is also fully supported by Fr Kieran and Deacon Michael. It has been the practise in some parishes for some time and seems to be coming in in numerous other parishes. Thanks in advance!

posted by Sinead Reekie at 2:27 pm

17th Sunday of the year – 24th July 2011

Go back in time Try a day without electricity, but with a BBQ;
Camp in the garden Tell each other stories by torchlight;
Visit your local tourist attractions In local Tourist Information Office find free local attractions never visited;
Organise your own mini Olympics: Invite friends to an assault course in the garden - Have skipping, Wellington boot throwing jumping or leap-frogging contests and an egg and spoon race;
A movie night with snacks;
Make a water slide: On hot days put up a slide in the garden with a long piece of plastic sheeting at the bottom. Hose down the sheeting with a garden hose and washing up liquid and wait for the fun: Grow sunflowers - each plants a sunflower seed and monitor them to see whose can grow the tallest by the last day of the holidays;
Go on a scavenger hunt in garden, your street, the park. for shells, feathers, sweet wrappers, etc. and team up adults or older children with little ones – with prizes for the most items, the prettiest, the biggest, the smallest etc! Join in! Whenever you can, join in with whatever your kids are playing. If they are dancing to their favourite CD, stop what you’re doing and boogie. If they’re painting, join in and stick your creation to the fridge next to theirs. If they’re always on their bikes, plan a whole-family bike ride for the weekend.

With thanks to

posted by Sinead Reekie at 2:24 pm

16th Sunday of the year – 17th July 2011

Forget the millions with which Camelot's Euro Lottery entices us, the Church is engaging in a new initiative which will help to open us to truly deeper and lasting wealth, the real grace of God – a wealth that will spread through us, especially to the poor. As part of this, it's time for some who have always thought they can't sing to discover it wasn't true after all!

A new deeper, more accurate, more scriptural translation of the Mass is on it’s way from Sept-ember. As part of this the Church is also encouraging us to engage in a subtle musical development. Across the whole of the English speaking there is to be a gradually develop-ing emphasis upon singing the actual "parts" of the Mass. These include the "Alleluia", the "Holy, Holy" (also called the "Sanctus"), the Memorial Acclamation (e.g. "Christ, has died"), the Lamb of God ("Agnus Dei"). The actual words used when singing these need to follow the new translations. Also the actual music used for these pieces is gradually to become more uniform in parishes and in all our schools. The latter is to be achieved primarily by a greater focus upon the Gregorian Chant tones which are actually printed in the official English Missal — which is the universal book of prayers for the Mass.

At a diocesan meeting last week for priests the leader, Fr Gerard Skinner, pointed out that the rhythm of Gregorian is different from the repeated, regular beat of the secular and religious music which is most common today, in that it has a development and a certain irregularity which stretches forward, almost with a hint of going towards eternity. He said that traditionally, the prayers of all major religions has been dominated by such rhythm.

The idea is to introduce these tones between September and Advent, and the diocese have provided helpful resources. This does not necessarily involve a big changes in the use of hymns, just a greater emphasis upon the parts of the mass and, when hymns are used, on hymns, the lyrics of which, affirm more deeply Christian doctrine.

In our parish we are very lucky to have two great, committed, growing choirs. (Thanks for the nine years together guys!). We are used to singing quite a few parts of the Mass. This has included some Gregorian chant (e.g. singing the current Missal tone for the "Christ has died"), especially at Christmas midnight Mass and the Easter Vigil. Still Archbishop Nichols has strongly encouraged us to try hard at developing this even richer, more beautiful, more communal manner of praising our great God.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 2:22 pm

Monday, July 11, 2011
15th Sunday of the year – 10th July 2011
As announced last w/e Archbishop Nichols has requested that Fr Hugh move from St Mary Magda-len’s to serve the Church through studying for a doctorate. He has accepted. He is being given 12 months free of other pastoral duties. After that he is likely be given a light job for a few yrs during which he could finish these studies. The place of study is not yet decided. His last Sunday is14th Aug. His replacement is the very fine Fr Kevin Jordan, parish priest of N Harrow. He begins Sept 1st

The sadness of leaving one’s warm spiritual home and hearth invites reflection.

I have experienced the love of God here. It has involved joy and pain, fulfilment and failure, but ultimately the peace of being and loving in a place where one is meant to be and where one gains great gifts of love – in fact, in my experience here, a hundredfold as He promised.

Given the almost inevitable nature of such a break in the life and loves of the diocesan priest and people, there should also be a wisdom here and a great hope for fruitfulness. The accompanying sadness surely has a purpose, it can be a spiritual pruning.

One way, I think, to see this is that the priest is a minister and a mediator of God’s grace. The real human bonds he makes, which are good and important, not infrequently beautiful, and I’m sure, eternal, are meant to lead to bonds with God. With John the Baptist the priest especially says, “He must become more, I must become less”. Ideally priestly loving should be deep, wanting to form and foster that which is our real destiny, dignity and hope, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is a love that wants to be com-passionate, that is to suffer-with. It wants to prune.

The very depth of such loving involves knowing (v. well!) that I am not the final fulfilment of those I serve, but a friend, & a father, along the way. It is a love which leads to He who is Love. It is a love which, through pain and the Cross, in its very depth, should point beyond to He who abides, He Who remains in the Church and its sacraments through all the vicissitudes of life.

Of course such thoughts bring to mind the relationships that were not so strong, as well as one’s failings, lack of generosity, the mistakes one has made, and my need to ask for forgiveness and mercy. Yet even these can be turned to good through cleaving to Christ on the Cross. He is the One to Whom all this points.

I go to do a new type of service: to reflect about the modern undermining of our faith by the misuse of science. I believe and hope it can be such a service and love. It will be done with a strong prayer and love for the parishioners of St Mary Magdalen’s. Fr Kevin is very lucky.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:13 am

14th Sunday of the year – 3rd July 2011
Next weekend, a representative from the charity Aid to the Church in Need will speak after each Mass, to introduce a project in Zimbabwe which this parish will be supporting.

Zimbabwe is a country which remains in a permanent crisis. Despite its rich natural resources, it has the lowest life expectancy in the world: an average of just 37 years for women and 34 for men. The state-run healthcare system has collapsed, and countless people are dying of AIDS and cholera. Food production is in crisis following the often violent expulsion of white farmers from their land.

The Catholic Church has been a prophetic voice speaking out against the government. At the beginning of this year, the local Bishops’ Conference issued a letter which said “corruption is a cancer which is destroying our nation”. As a result church leaders have been vilified and harassed. Many priests went into hiding for protesting against the Mugabe regime’s corrupt electoral practices.

In spite of all this, the Catholic Church continues patiently to do what she can for her people: offering the sacraments and caring for the suffering in her clinics, schools and food kitchens.

To undertake all this work, the Church in Zimbabwe needs priests, but it is a struggle for her to fund the training of seminarians. Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is a charity which provides material and financial help to the suffering Church in all parts of the world, and has received a request from the Bishop of Hwange to support the training of 24 seminarians in his diocese.

Hwanga is west of the Zimbabwe and does not have a major seminary of its own. Consequently students have to travel to Harare (ten hours driving time) or Bulawayo (six hours) for their studies. Unfortunately the diocese does not have the means to pay the full cost of study and travel for its students.

Next weekend, after each Mass, a representative from ACN will make a brief appeal to our parish to support the training of the 24 seminarians of Hwange diocese as an ongoing project. In return for our support, the diocese will provide us with regular written updates and photographs detailing the progress of the seminarians.

In addition there will be a longer presentation in the annexe after each Mass, giving more details of this project and the situation in Zimbabwe. Please attend this if you can, to hear about the vital work ACN do in supporting the work of the Church in this troubled country.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:06 am