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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Friday, September 30, 2011
27th Sunday of the Year – 2nd October 2011
Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Yes they do, but they don’t sing, “Glory to God in the highest and peace to his people on earth.” As we have already seen, one of the biggest changes is in the words of the Gloria. Indeed the text has changed so much that composers have written new musical settings and revised existing ones for it. The first change is to the words of the angels - “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to people of good will.” As before, the guiding principle is to let the English express more literally the sentiments of the Latin original. Thus we previously referred to whom the people belong while the new one describes their quality. The new translation is more faithful to the original Latin, better connects with Luke 2:14, and challenges us to be of good will if we are to receive God’s peace as opposed to receiving it just because He made us.
The next section is also different – “We bless you, we praise you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory, Lord God, heavenly King, O God, almighty Father.” The shorter text we used previously was abbreviated because the truer translation seemed a bit excessive. Now that all the descriptions for God have been restored, the result does seem a bit excessive – but that is precisely the point. We should be so overcome with awe and wonder in the presence of the Lord that we gush vocally. In the presence of earthly beauty we struggle to find the correct words and so by meeting God in prayer we are bound to search for words to describe the experience. The third section reads, “Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son, Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us; you take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer; you are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.” The previous version again showed an economy of words although it expressed exactly the same dogma – namely, that Jesus is the only Son of God. The new version has more capital letters because they exist in the Latin – Fili Unigenite. Since the Latin uses only one word for “Only Begotten,” when it is translated into English, both words are capitalised to emphasise the sanctity of this title of Jesus.
Referring to the sins of the world, the phrases appear in a different order to reflect the order in Latin. In addition, we now speak of sins in the plural. This is to help us understand that Jesus did not come just to take away the general principle of sin but he takes away and forgives individuals their personal sins. And, you’ve guessed it; in Latin the word referring to our transgressions is plural. The rest of the Gloria remains the same and the whole prayer is longer than our previous version. By the way, there are 84 shopping days until Christmas.

Fr Kevin

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:39 am

Friday, September 23, 2011
26th Sunday of the Year – 25th Sept 2011
Last week in this newsletter we considered the sign of the cross, and our baptismal promises. This week we shall consider the Confiteor.
Before the Penitential Rite we should consider the place of God in our lives in the previous week and that first call to love Him in those Baptismal promises.
The new translation of the Confiteor (“I confess…”) says that “I have greatly sinned in my thoughts and in my words,” rather than, “I have sinned through my own fault.” Moreover it also says, “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault”. Does this mean we are a lot more sinful now than we used to be? No, because the guiding principle of the translation is a closer adherence to the words in Latin which has been maintained in most other languages.
The new translation allows us to express more grandly the seriousness of our sin and the sincerity of our contrition. It offers us a humbler way to recollect ourselves before moving any further into prayer and ultimately presenting ourselves for Holy Communion. After all, which is more grievous – having had a minor spat with a neighbour or the fact that we have denied God and His Sabbath, and/or His teaching in other ways? The latter, surely. Yet the former is easier to confess. Better to ask pardon of the “great” sins too.
Someone recently observed that so many people come to Holy Communion here that I must hear a lot of confessions. Well, there aren’t that many penitents. Let each of us consider our grievous faults in the face of this extraordinary gift that is given us – the sacrifice of God for man – and embrace that it is my fault, my fault, my most grievous fault that, “I am not worthy that You [the Lamb of God] should enter under my roof.” And yet be convinced of the mercy and glory of God (as I was told in Confession on Thursday), that if He [the Lamb of God], “only say the word…my soul shall be healed.” Having recollected ourselves, and made a good confession at the earliest convenience, may each of us enter the celebration of Mass in a spirit of true thanksgiving. Now that would be a sign of our true greatness in this world, acknowledging that the Eucharist – that greatest of Mysteries – is a privilege we enjoy, not a right we deserve. Fr Kevin

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:47 am

Monday, September 19, 2011
25th Sunday of the Year – 18th Sept 2011
The Sign of the Cross
How often do we make a sign of the cross and say ‘In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit’. But do we really understand the power and significance of this prayer?
This short reflection will explore the biblical roots of the sign of the cross; the better we understand this prayer the better we will be prepared to receive the treasures God has in store for us each time we say this prayer. There are two aspects – the ritual of making the sign, and the words we say.
The sign: This goes back to Old Testament times. The prophet Ezekiel was given a vision of the dreadful sins being committed in Jerusalem and the judgement that would occur (Ezek Ch 8), but then he was told that an angel would mark all the righteous with a mark on their forehead (the Hebrew letter tav – which looks like a cross). And like the blood on the doorpost that protected the Israelite families from God’s punishment on Egypt at the first Passover, this sign would set them apart from the corrupt culture and would serve as a sign of divine protection when God’s judgement fell on the city (Ezek Ch 9). Early Christians soon adopted this sign, now the Cross of Christ, being traced over their bodies. So when we make the sign we are expressing our desire to be set apart from the corrupt ways of the world, and in addition we are invoking God’s protection for our lives, especially in times of temptation or suffering.
The power of God’s name. In the Old Testament we read of many occasions when people call on God’s name. In Scripture, a name is not just a way of identifying or referring to a person, a name mysteriously represents the essence of a person and carried the power of that person. So to call on God’s name is to invoke his presence and his power. So at the very start of Mass we solemnly call on his name, invoking his divine presence and power. It is if we are consecrating the next 40 or so minutes of our lives to the Lord, saying that everything we do in the Mass, we do in his name, asking for his help as we prepare to enter the sacred mysteries.
And finally the words remind us that we were baptised ‘In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit’ which made us adopted sons and daughters of God the Father; and so adopted brothers and sisters of Jesus.
So let us make the sign of the cross with careful attention and great reverence. Given all that this ritual means, let us not make the sign of the cross in a hurried or sloppy way.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:13 am

Monday, September 12, 2011
24th Sunday of the Year – 11th Sept 2011
Quiet, Please
This is now the second week that we are using the new English translation of the Roman Missal, and you will have noticed the change right at the start of Mass. The priest says, “The Lord be with you,” and the people respond, “And with your spirit.” This is closer to the Latin Et cum spiritu tuo and matches the response in other major languages such as Spanish, French, Italian and German. Our previous translation was adequate but the revised translation is richer because the purpose of this greeting is not simply to say, “Good morning.” Bringing in the spirit alerts us that we are entering a sacramental realm and reminds us of our responsibility to pray the Mass rather than just go through the motions. It also establishes the interdependence of the priest and the people as they take up their roles in the praise of God.
As I said, even these small changes require a degree of concentration and engagement. That can be helped greatly by a period of quiet recollection before Mass begins, which means you will have to arrive early. So as you read this listen to the sounds around you and consider how you contribute to them yourself. Instead, think about why we are here and spend a few moments asking the Holy Spirit to help us pray with Christ and pray with the Church. We could also call to mind the week just gone and think about the week that lies ahead and bring them before the Lord.
The excellent book entitled Celebrating the Mass says, ‘The purpose of the Introductory Rites is to ensure that the faithful, who come together as one, establish communion and dispose themselves to listen properly to God’s Word and to celebrate the Eucharist worthily.’ The fact that we are all having to enter into the Mass with a little more care and concern gives us the opportunity to consider how well disposed we are at Mass and how our behaviour enables other people to prepare. Archbishop Nichols speaks of this in his book Promise of Future Glory – ‘Moments of silence are an important step in creating in ourselves a space, an openness, a receptivity to God, permitting the Holy Spirit to take hold of them. In these moments of silence we stand before the God who forgives, whose Word is about to be proclaimed, whose action we are to celebrate in the sacrament. And we do this not only as individuals, but together as the people called to this moment, this place of truth and life.’ Shhh! Fr Kevin

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:43 am

23rd Sunday of the Year – 4th Sept 2011
All Change, Please
This weekend sees a couple of changes. To begin with, we will be using the new English translation of the Roman Missal. For so many years we have become used to the prayers and the dialogue between priest and people brought in during the early 1970’s. But becoming used to it generates the possibility of the greatest prayer God gives us, as St John Vianney teaches – the Mass – being celebrated on autopilot. It reminds me of the ancient joke concerning the priest who begins Mass by tapping the microphone and saying, “This microphone is not working.” The people respond, “And also with you.” As they say, familiarity...
Given the changes, we will all need to concentrate a lot harder on our words – it won’t be easy for any of us but we are all in this together. However, I am sure you know that the change is not for change’s’ sake but to make the words we say a truer translation form the original Latin. As many of you from other countries will notice, what we will be saying from today onwards bears a greater resemblance to the prayers and dialogue in your homeland: “And with your spirit” rather than, “And also with you,” and the threefold admission of sin on our own part in the I Confess among many other alterations. Ultimately, all of these changes will not only bring us closer to the original text but encourage us to really think and pray about what we are celebrating.
Not to avoid the elephant in the room, the other major change is in your parish priest. I can understand how sad you must be to lose Fr Hugh, but if it is any consolation, the people of North Harrow are a little upset to be losing me – although I have heard rumours of street parties this weekend. And indeed, it is difficult for us to leave people and places we have come to know and love as parish priests.
Perhaps the words of Blessed Pope John Paul II can help us here: “The times change and with them many things, but man’s heart remains the same – it always needs love. “ May our love for the Eucharist deepen with these changes and lead us to a more profound love for Christ and His Church. And may our love for one another grow as we journey together in faith.
But for the time being, I crave your patience as I slowly unpack in the hope of finding all the things I need to serve you as best I can – the very things which will, no doubt, be at the bottom of the very last box I open. Fr Kevin

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:39 am