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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Friday, June 29, 2012
Thirteenth Sunday of the Year 1st July 2012
The Last Word

I assure you, this is the last time I’ll mention the Forty Hours not least because I won’t be here for the next two weekends. But I would draw your attention to the fact that there are, as I write this on Friday morning, nine hours when no-one has signed up to watch and pray.
Part of the incentive for having this traditional devotion has been the 50th Eucharistic Congress which took place in Dublin and finished last weekend. The Holy Father gave an extraordinary address at the close of the meeting which said much about adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. He commented that, “Active participation [in the Mass] has been confused with external activity. In a changed world, increasingly fixated on external things, we must learn to recognise anew the mysterious presence of the Risen Lord, which alone can give breadth and depth to our lives.”
Part of his address reminded me of the Father Ted episode when Fr Dougal is on board a booby-trapped milk float and the only solution Fr Ted and his colleagues can come up with is to keep saying Mass. I don’t know if the Pontiff has ever seen the programme, but he remarked, “Concentrating the whole relationship with the Eucharistic Jesus only at the moment of Holy Mass risks removing His presence from the rest of time. And thus perceived less is the sense of the constant presence of Jesus in our midst and with us, a concrete close presence.”
This week, at the request of Bishop Mark Davies, the heart of St John Vianney is visiting the dioceses of Salford, Liverpool, Shrewsbury and Birmingham. Observing a farmer who visited the church around noon everyday, the Cure of Ars asked him what he did during that time of prayer. The man replied simply, “I look at Him, and He looks back at me.”
In our preparations to celebrate our patronal feast in the Mass let us imitate that poor farmer’s love for Christ and that of St Mary Magdalen and spend some time with Him just looking at Him and knowing that He looks back at us with great love. As Pope Benedict concluded, “To be all together in prolonged silence before the Lord present in his sacrament is one of the most genuine examples of being the Church.” Surely that is what we all desire – to be a strong and potent symbol of Christ’s love in the world – and this is a good way to help achieve that goal. Fr Kevin

posted by Sinead Reekie at 11:54 am

Friday, June 22, 2012
The Nativity of St John the Baptist. 24th June 2012
Telling it like it is

As we celebrate the feast of the Birth of St John the Baptist, I find one of his sayings floating around in my head – “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30) It very clearly shows that John’s mission is entirely focussed on Christ, and that despite his popularity and “success” (if such a thing can be attributed to a prophet) he is not at all egocentric. Of course, as students in the seminary we used to use the line with reference to someone who had out on a bit of weight, but that’s another story.

A life that points only to Christ is something that we all aspire to but few of us achieve. This is because in all sorts of ways, other things in our lives become so pressing that we become identified with them. Of course these things are important and vital to family and community life – mother, father, bread-winner, housewife/husband, and so on. But in all these vital roles it is good to see them lived out in the context of our faith in the one who gives our humanity its place in the Divine plan.

One of the ways we might do that is by spending some time before the Blessed Sacrament during the forty hours of Exposition that we will have leading up to the feast of St Mary Magdalen. I am conscious that this is a devotion that hasn’t happened here for some time but I hope you will sign up to watch and pray for a period. Taking some time to bring our role in the world to the Lord truly present is a wonderful way to put it into context and can help us to be more prophetic in whatever situation we find ourselves.

Given that universal vocation, I cannot ignore the ordinations of five new deacons for our diocese on Saturday morning. Among them was Martin Plunkett and I am delighted that he is exercising his ministry for the first time with us today. One of the most moving parts that I remember from my ordination in 1998 was putting my hands between Cardinal Hume’s and being asked, “Do you promise obedience and respect to me and my successors?” Shortly after that with my hands on the Gospels the Cardinal said, “Receive the Gospel of Christ whose herald you now are. Believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach.”

That question and that commission are good for us all to consider as we celebrate this feast of one who gave his life for that positive response to God’s call and his unswerving devotion to the truth revealed by the same God, particularly in this time of dilution of that truth. Indeed, St John Fisher (whose feast we celebrated on Friday) said, “We use all paths and circumlocutions in rebuking those who do wrong. We go nowhere near the matter and so in the meantime the people perish.”

Trust a Yorkshire man to be so blunt in his admonition to be oblivious to what the world thinks of us in our desire to point only to Christ. May St John the Baptist and St John Fisher pray for us that we may be heralds and prophets of the truth.

Fr Kevin

posted by Sinead Reekie at 11:04 am

Friday, June 15, 2012
Eleventh Sunday of the Year 17th June 2012
Believe it…or not?

As we gather to celebrate Mass this weekend the 50th Eucharistic Congress is drawing to a close in Ireland. By all accounts and certainly from reading the homilies and catechetical talks given by the Cardinals and Archbishops attending, it has been a most fruitful moment in deepening our understanding as a Church of the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Interestingly, shortly before the Congress began a survey showed that only one in four Catholics in Ireland believe in that Real Presence. A similar survey has not been carried out here but we would all do well to reflect on some of the teaching which has come out of the gathering as we come together for the Mass which the Papal Delegate called, “The most sublime prayer ever known to the world.”

Cardinal Marc Oullet at the opening liturgy said, “Our gathering is an act of faith in the Holy Eucharist, the treasure of the Church, which is essential to her life and to our communion as brothers and sisters in Christ. The Church draws her life from the Eucharist; she receives her own identity from the gift of Christ’s own Body. In communion with His Body, the Church becomes what she receives: she becomes one body with Him in the Spirit of the new and eternal covenant. What a great and marvellous mystery! A mystery of love!”

He continued, “The risen Lord has disappeared from our sight, but His love is closer than ever. His risen Body has acquired new freedom and new properties which make possible the marvel of the Holy Eucharist. By the power of His divine word and Spirit He changes this bread and wine into His own real Body and Blood. As Pope St Leo the Great teaches us: ‘Our Redeemer’s visible presence has passed into the sacraments.’”

And there were also some amazing comments from lay and religious participants, especially after the Blessed Sacrament procession when 12,500 people walked through the streets of Dublin in prayer and adoration. Among them, Sr Mary Dolora from Washington saw the whole experience as an opportunity to pray that love of the Eucharist “may grow and that our faith will deepen in the Church and in the Holy Eucharist because it is the source and summit of our lives.”

It seems to me that our own Forty Hours of Exposition leading up to the solemnity of St Mary Magdalen could also have this effect and I encourage you to sign up for some time of adoration on the sheets at the back of the church. Even if you can’t do a whole hour, do at least call in and say a prayer. Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury reflected on this with the young people gathered in Dublin. Commenting on the importance of the family he said, “I remember my own parents, in the days of my childhood and infancy, so clearly pointing out to me the Real Presence for which we gather at Mass and the visits to the Blessed Sacrament in the church. We must give that encouragement to parents to help them in a very simple and direct way, to share that faith and prayer with their children.”

Indeed, not just parents, but all of us could do with encouragement in that area. May we do it together in a spirit of deep faith in Christ and His sacraments.

Fr Kevin

posted by Sinead Reekie at 11:54 am

Friday, June 01, 2012
Io Parlo Italiano?

My friends in Missionary Orders who are invited to appeal in parishes for funds are always offered Trinity Sunday first as parish priests quickly run out of different ways of explaining this great Mystery of Faith!
I wonder though why we shy away from thinking about the Trinity? It’s easy to dismiss it as being stuff only for intellectuals and theologians to worry about. But in the same way, I could have thrown the towel in with my Italian lessons because I really am not a linguist and find it very hard going. And yet, if you think about it, the Trinity frames all of our prayers as we start them and finish them with the sign of the cross! So what does it mean?

The teaching of the Blessed Trinity is revealed in the incarnation of the Son of God. The principle is that God enters human time and space and allows Himself to be humiliated, crucified and killed. As St Paul says, this is unthinkable for the Greeks and the Jews, as well as for Muslims who see Christ as a prophet. Yet that automatic action of “crossing” ourselves that we do so readily reveals the Mystery of the Trinity in a clear and precise way. In the Godhead there are three persons – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The Creator and the historical figure Jesus, who deigned to share our humanity, are one. And He who promised to be with us always does so through the gift of the co-equal Holy Spirit who comes to us most profoundly through the sacraments of the Church.

The Trinity is therefore not something to run away from but is at the very heart of our faith. Without it God becomes a distant figure far removed from our humanity. In the words of a great Italian and a patron of Europe, St Catherine of Siena, “O eternal Trinity, God, you are an abyss, a deep sea; You have given Yourself to me – what greater good could You give? By Your light You enlighten our minds, as by Your light You have brought me to know You.” Dico basta. Enough said.

Well, enough on that subject anyway. This weekend we give thanks to God for the 60 years of unstinting and dedicated service of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to our country and the Commonwealth. At the 12 Noon Mass we will pray for her in a special way and before the final blessing there will be a prayer which begins as follows:

O Lord, save Elizabeth, our Queen. And hear us on the day we call upon you.
O Lord, hear my prayer And let my cry come before you.
The Lord be with you. And with your spirit.

I know you will join me in wishing Her Majesty well on this great occasion and in praying that she may long reign over us. God bless you, Ma’am.

Fr Kevin

posted by Sinead Reekie at 11:32 am