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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Monday, November 28, 2011
1st Sunday of Advent – 27th November 2011
Hybrid Holy Father

My priest friends and I who spend Christmas Day together never have turkey. This is because by the time the day actually comes we’ve had so many Christmas dinners that we’re beginning to look like turkeys. Indeed, last year I was at my first such meal before Advent had even begun.

Before Easter we have the season of Lent during which we pray more, fast and give alms and generally try to get our spiritual lives in good order. Before Christmas we have the season of Advent and generally any sense of fasting (dieting), almsgiving (gym membership) and more physical and spiritual exercises start in the New Year. Thus we can easily miss the point of this holy season because, like children who seem to be growing up faster than ever, Christmas seems to begin earlier and earlier each year. Advent used to be called St Martin’s Lent so it is related to those six weeks in the Church’s calendar which fall before the fullest celebration of the Paschal Mystery. And as such, this season too should be marked by some sense of extra prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Of course, its not as “heavy” a season as Lent as you can tell from the liturgy – we still have Alleluias but the Gloria is omitted. It’s sort of a halfway house, if you like, but is still a valuable time of preparation for the coming of our Saviour in history and at the end of time and we should take the opportunity to make ourselves ready. For example, we might save the greatest delights to our taste buds until Christmas. Or when we are doing our Christmas shopping spare a thought for those who have little and pick up a small gift that we can give to the Catholic Children’s Society or make a donation to Aid to the Church in Need to help Christians in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East. Above all, we might take a few minutes each day to ask the Lord to make us ready to welcome him through reading the scriptures of the day with My Day by Day, reflecting on them with Bible Alive or praying with the latest Diocesan resource A Foretaste of Heaven. There are also websites with daily reflections such as godzdogz and The Hermeneutic of Continuity has links to many other religious sites. And of course there is the rosary, particularly the Joyful Mysteries which we could use to meditate on the forthcoming Incarnation.

The Archbishop commented recently on the silence and stillness of the Holy Father even in the midst of his busy schedule on his visit here. Indeed, because of seeing that serenity and contemplating it over the past 12 months a man is coming to see me about becoming a Catholic. Our Archbishop likened Pope Benedict to a hybrid car in which the engine cuts out when it comes to a standstill – when the Pope isn’t doing something he seems to have stopped completely. I suspect that’s a tall order for us but it would do us good to try just for a few minutes each day that we may be found ready when the Son of Man comes.

Fr Kevin

posted by Sinead Reekie at 8:41 am

At a meeting of the Diocesan clergy, one of the brethren said that some people in his parish were disappointed that the new words to “This is the lamb of God” referred specifically to the soul being healed and thus the concept of physical healing was lost.
“Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.”
”Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, But only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
It goes without saying that this is a better translation of the Latin. However, once again, it is also truer to the words of the centurion who begs Christ to heal his servant (Mt8:8). Continuing with the scriptural basis, the previous translation (Happy are those who are called to his supper) allowed us quite easily to consider that we are being called to the Last Supper. While this is true in the sense that that event is re-presented during the Mass, the call by the priest to the people refers rather to the supper of the Lamb which takes place in the new, heavenly Jerusalem which features in the book of the Apocalypse. (Rev 19:9) Thus the healing that is offered is not physical, mental or emotional healing per se but a cleansing from sin so that we might join that banquet with all those who have been washed clean by the blood of the Lamb. Looking at it in this way, we are reminded of the penitential rite at the start of Mass when we ask forgiveness of our sins. We then re-present the entire paschal Mystery – the life, death, resurrection, ascension and glorification of Christ – which happened so that this prayer could be answered. And now, as we prepare to receive our Blessed Lord, our minds and hearts are pointed towards the ultimate fulfillment of that Mystery for humanity.
With that our current catechesis on the new Missal comes to an end. We have looked not just at the way the words have changed but at why they are different and how they will deepen our understanding of the Mass.

I feel that we are all becoming familiar and comfortable with the new texts, and as with the previous words the texts of New Translation will surely become our prayers, in the depths of our bones. We have been given the privilege of being the generation to receive the gift of the new Missal and we should accept it with gratitude, charity and humility. Fr Kevin

posted by Sinead Reekie at 8:31 am

Monday, November 14, 2011
33rd Sunday of the Year – 13th November 2011
Don’t Nod Off
Over the last few weeks you have been concentrating on the changed responses that you have been making, and there may have been a tendency among some of you to let the words of the Eucharistic Prayer pass over your heads. But this great prayer, where the priest says nearly everything, gives you the opportunity to pre-pare yourselves for the final changes which we will talk about over the next few weeks and so sit back and relax for a few minutes. However, stay alert!
In reference to the bread, the priest says: “Take this, all of you, and eat of it…,” which is a reminder that we are sharing in something that is beyond us individually and even beyond the community gathered for that particular Mass. As St John Vianney says, “the Mass is the sacrifice of God for man.” And rather than “cup,” we will hear the word “chalice,” not to refer to what Jesus literally used at the Last Supper but in order to reflect a specific vocabulary that says something is different here. This is something special, not just a family “meal.”
Previously, we prayed that Christ’s blood “will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven.” The new translation reads: “which will be poured out for you and for many, for the forgiveness of sins.” The first change, from “shed” to “poured out,” will make for a more poetic connection between the blood of Christ on the cross and the Blood of Christ (consecrated wine) in the Eucharist. It is also the sacrificial language used in the Temple, so making it very obvious that this is Christ’s sacrifice. The second change - the translation of the Latin phrase, pro multis—has received particular attention. This translation does not mean that Christ did not die for everyone—as the Scriptures (Jn 11:52; 2 Cor 5:14-15; Ti 2:11; 1 Jn 2:2), the dogmatic teaching of the church (Catechism of the Catholic Church 624, 629), and the Eucharistic Prayers themselves (in their inclusive prayers for the dead) make clear. Scriptural (Mt 26:28, Mk 14:24), historical, and ecumenical reasons underscore this change, but it is the theological reasoning that is most important pastorally. While salvation is offered to all, not all will accept God’s gift. Hopefully, as we hear these words, we will be reminded of our need to respond to that gift as well as the degree to which God will go to respect our freedom.
That thought links us to these final weeks of the Liturgical Year, when the readings consider death and our judgement. God became man in Christ and ultimately brought our humanity into Heaven. We are called to be Divine in this world and make our lives extraordinary. Hence, this Sacrifice is for many, but for those who reject it out of hand, the offer and promise of sharing fully in it is left open to their own response. Continue to the next page.

Finally, when it comes to the Mystery of Faith, translating the Latin more accurately, the new Missal clarifies the dialogical nature of this exchange: the priest says one thing (“The mystery of faith”) and the rest of us respond in one of three ways. The new translations of the acclamations highlight the fact that we are addressing Christ (in the rest of the Mass, we address the Father) and make the Scriptural roots (1 Cor 11:26, Jn 4:42) easier to grasp.
So, let us stay awake, and listen to what is being said and deepen our own longing to be part of the many. Fr Kevin

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:25 am

Monday, November 07, 2011
32nd Sunday of the Year – 6th November 2011
Multiple Choice

When I was in the seminary we practised saying Mass in our liturgy classes towards the end of our formation. One of my fellow deacons was asked by Fr Allen Morris which Eucharistic prayer he was going to choose. Until that moment, he believed that there was a book which instructed us which one to use – he was quickly disavowed of this notion.

But before talking about what can dictate the priest’s choice, we need to understand that the Eucharistic Prayer is a prayer of thanksgiving and sanctification and is the centre and summit of the Mass. We quite literally lift up our hearts in prayer and unite our thoughts with those expressed by the priest who addresses God in the name of the community. And since he acts in the person of Christ we also join ourselves with Him to proclaim the marvellous deeds of God.

However, I have a lot more to say than you! There is a bit of dialogue at the beginning, we all say the Sanctus and the memorial acclamation together and you assent to the prayer with the great Amen. But the rest of the time you listen and pray in silence to a text which demands and rewards a lot of attention.

Many priests know parts of the prayers by heart but with the new texts, it is taking time to learn how to express them in a way which helps everyone to pray. This is because the sentences are longer and more involved and as with the other texts I’ve talked about, the vocabulary is richer. But they are rather beautiful and I hope they will truly lift up your hearts and minds.

As I mentioned at the start, there are a variety of these prayers. Before the Second Vatican Council there was only the Roman Canon or Eucharistic Prayer I as it is also known. It is especially appropriate on Sundays, on days when we celebrate the feast of any saints named in it, and on days when a special phrase denoting the nature of the celebration may be inserted into it such as at Christmas, on Holy Thursday, and during the octave (eight days) of Easter and so on. The three others were added right after that Council. Two is the shortest and is based on a prayer from the third century. Given its length, it is designed particularly for weekday Masses or times when the attention span of the congregation is stretched as on Palm Sunday or when there are lots of children present. Three was newly composed after the Council.

It is especially appropriate for Sundays and feast days of saints who are not mentioned in the first as it allows you to insert a name as you will notice I do with St Mary Magdalen on a Sunday. The one you rarely hear is four which is based on an Eastern prayer from the fourth century. It has its own preface (the prayer before the Sanctus) and therefore can only be used on a weekday that is not a saint’s day.
There are also some special Eucharistic prayers. There are two for reconciliation which are particularly appropriate for use in Lent or in times of conflict in the world. There is also another for Masses for Various Needs and Occasions because there are a range of prayers in the Missal which means the intention of the Mass can range from praying for the civil authorities to asking for good weather! These Masses can only be celebrated on a weekday and this prayer was composed to enhance them. Within it there are four variations which allow it to make a better connection to the intention of the day and each variation has its own preface and a changeable part within the body of prayer.

Finally, there are Eucharistic prayers for children and one for the deaf. The language in the former is so simplistic and bears such little resemblance to the normal ones that they have been dropped altogether. The prayer for the deaf is not so simplistic and seeks to fulfil the ultimate purpose of sign language which is to make visible the words of the priest and hence that will remain.
It really is multiple choice. Fr Kevin

posted by Sinead Reekie at 11:11 am