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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Thursday, September 27, 2012
26th Sunday of the Year 30th September 2012
Approaching the Year of Faith Next weekend we will hear a pastoral letter from Archbishop Vincent Nichols, to introduce the ‘Year of Faith’. So why am I writing about it now? Because we are going to start a week early in order to get our first parish ‘project’ completed by Christmas. Pope Benedict said, when he set up this ‘Year of Faith’:- “We want to celebrate this Year in a worthy and fruitful manner. Reflection on the faith will have to be intensified, so as to help all believers in Christ to acquire a more conscious and vigorous adherence to the Gospel, especially at a time of profound change such as humanity is currently experiencing.” He added that he wanted us to profess our faith with renewed conviction; intensify the celebration of our Faith in the Liturgy, especially at Mass; and pray that the witness of our lives as Christians may grow in credibility. The Pope summarised this year as a year when we “ … rediscover the content of the faith that is professed, celebrated, lived and prayed.” But then the Pope adds:- “Evidently, knowledge of the content of faith is essential for giving one’s own assent, that is to say for adhering fully with intellect and will to what the Church proposes. Knowledge of faith opens a door into the fullness of the saving mystery revealed by God.” So as part of this ‘Year of Faith’ we need to know what Christ’s Church teaches. Starting this Tuesday (2nd October) and for the next 10 weeks we will be screening the 10 programme series “Catholicism”. It is NOT a video lecture; not a lesson in Church history nor a Scripture Study, but an engaging and interesting formation program to illuminate the treasures of the Catholic Tradition and timeless teachings of the Church, filmed in many parts of the world. After each video showing there will be time for questions and discussions. You may just want to come for the video showing, or go more deeply and take the accompanying study book. There is also a separate book based on the series. Do come along and see for yourselves, and I know you will be pleasantly surprised. Why not invite someone who has been away from the Church for some time, they may find this series helpful. Deacon Michael

posted by Sinead Reekie at 11:38 am

25th Sunday of the Year 23rd September 2012
In the Public Eye I read recently that after his warm up Wayne Rooney goes into the physio room and prays before every match. He prays not to win but for his health and that of everyone on the pitch, and for his family, friends and the health of everyone he loves. Apparently his top subject at school was RE and he considered a vocation to the priesthood. I was seriously impressed and he now ranks right up there with other well-known Catholics who have spoken about their faith in recent times such as Julian Fellowes, Frank Skinner and Karen Brady. Bishop Kieran Conry (who is chair of the Bishops Conference of England and Wales’ department for evangelisation and catechesis) has called on all of us to show confidence in our faith during the Year of Faith. He suggests pausing for a moment of prayer at 3.00pm, or during our lunch break, on a Friday. Wherever we are he invites us to stop, close our eyes, bow our heads and prayerfully and silently meditate on the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross out of love for each one of us. We could say we are too busy but after the murders of their colleagues this week every police officer in Greater Manchester stopped for a minute’s silence and there wasn’t a crime wave. The bishop went on to say that we could make up a prayer of our own or say our favourite short prayer. Whatever we decide to do he hopes it will deepen our relationship with God and quietly but confidently witness our faith to those around us. His call echoes that of Bishop Mark Davies who recently urged his people to make a personal stand for their faith in the face of a society which is showing growing hostility to public professions of faith. Observing the fact that we do not face outright persecution, the reality remains that Christians have been threatened in their employment and even brought before courts for their witness and some Catholic social care agencies have been closed down by legislation which recognises no place for a Christian conscience. Those are weighty matters beyond most of us, but something as simple as making the sign of the cross as we pass a church or saying grace before meals quietly but publicly even in McDonalds would make us powerful Christian witnesses . Now, who says footballers cant be good role models? Fr Kevin

posted by Sinead Reekie at 11:29 am

Tuesday, September 18, 2012
24th Sunday of the Year 16th September 2012
What a Start

When we think about baptisms we invariably conjure up images of cute babies, exquisite baptismal garments and a jolly good party afterwards. However, what we don’t consider is where the sacrament of baptism has its origin.
You will know that John the Baptist said that Christ would baptise with water and the Holy Spirit, a progression from John’s baptism of repentance. But if you go through the Gospels you won’t find an account of Jesus carrying out any actions like John did or as we do today. Now since John was the greatest prophet of all in Christ’s own words we need to find out where that baptism he prophesied happened and its significance.

On Friday the Church celebrated the Exaltation of the Cross and in today's readings we hear prophesies of the suffering that will take place on that “infamous gibbet” to quote St Alphonsus Liguri. But it is not just a place of death but of new life—the new life of baptism when Christ's spirit is breathed out over Mary and John and water flows from His pierced side.
In the words of St Andrew of Crete, “If there had been no cross, Christ would not have been crucified. If there had been no cross, Life would not have been nailed to the tree. If He had not been nailed, the streams of everlasting life would not have welled from His side, blood and water, the cleansing of the world; the record of our sins would not have been cancelled, we would not have gained freedom, we would not have enjoyed the tree of life, paradise would not have been opened. If there had been no cross, death would not have been trodden under foot, the underworld would not have yielded up its spoils.”

At a baptism the parents and godparents promise to bring a child up “in the practice of the faith.” Now that I am able to write this editorial and you are able to read it, that practice as become our responsibility. So, today, as we contemplate the cross let us consider our adherence to the practices of our faith, a faith born out of the suffering and death which ultimately brought the glory and the exaltation of Christ and the common salvation of the whole world.

Fr Kevin

posted by Sinead Reekie at 11:57 am

Tuesday, September 11, 2012
23rd Sunday 9th September 2012
Didn’t They Do Well?

No, this is not a nod towards Bruce Forsyth and his well-deserved knighthood but an observation about the London 2012 Games. More specifically , without taking anything away from the organisers and the volunteers, it concerns the athletes.
Along with many others, I admit to being rather non-plussed by the whole thing before the first opening ceremony (and to being confused after it) but it didn’t take long for the infectious and unavoidable enthusiasm to get to me. Above all it was the dedication of the athletes that moved me to shed a few tears with them every time I heard our national anthem and to even more tears when they apologised for coming second or third in the world! The start of the football season frankly feels a rather damp squib in comparison.

In October the Church begins the Year of Faith marking the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. Deacon Michael and I have decided to run three programmes of additional catechesis during the year, to use the newsletter to provide some of those materials for people who cannot attend the sessions, and publish some wonderful teaching by the bishop of Frascati—but don't worry, you won’t have to learn Italian to read it. All of these things and keeping abreast of what is happening in the diocese will serve to enhance our understanding of the mysteries of our Church and its beliefs and practices and thus deepen our own faith.
In addition, I’m conscious that we have a lot of young families in our parish and with them in mind I have ordered copies of a new Catholic newspaper called Reach. It aims to raise questions for reflection on what it means to be a Catholic family and as it says on the front, help incredibly busy parents to find space for the bigger things in life. There is also a newspaper within for children, links to various websites and organisations and the most amazing eight year old explaining God! If you can, please put £1 in the newspaper box for a copy.
In various different ways each of us has the opportunity to grow spiritually in the coming year. If we put just a small percentage of the effort into our training that our athletes have done we too may ultimately receive a reward that is even more precious than gold.

Fr Kevin

posted by Sinead Reekie at 12:00 pm

22nd Sunday 2nd September 2012
As the schools go back this week I assume that nearly all of you have returned from your summer holidays. I hope you all a good break and are feeling refreshed and ready for life to get back to its hectic pace. I for one shall miss the quiet roads in the mornings which made for some nice trips up to Hampstead Heath and the Welsh Harp with Milo. With the school run resuming it’ll be back to the park but it was nice while it lasted.
As for the title of the editorial, while I am looking forward to the return of Doctor Who, this is not a plug for the BBC. In fact it is a return to those early days of the daleks. Many of you will remember that when they fired their lasers at people their victims just disappeared.
Now there is a point to telling you this and it refers to the fact that over the summer we asked people to fill in a parish registration form. I’m very grateful to those of you that did but I’m also conscious that some people were a little surprised to be asked to do so after over 50 years in the parish..
The truth is almost stranger than fiction. During routine maintenance on our computer system some time ago the parish database seems to have encountered a grumpy dalek which fired its laser and the program just vanished. Not into the waste bin, nor some remote part of the hard-drive. It disappeared entirely. And to my horror, in this world of technology not only could it not be recovered but there was no paper copy.
Hence we effectively started from scratch. So if you haven’t filled in a form in recent months, please do so and return it to the parish office or give it to one of the clergy. I apologise for any inconvenience caused.
Finally, I hope you like the new format of our newsletter. As you can imagine, the previous one didn’t fold itself and I would like to thank the dedicated team of ladies who spent a good hour before Mass on a Saturday folding them for you. As Blessed John Paul II once said, they are some of the unseen workers who go on tirelessly building the Kingdom.
God bless you all.
Fr Kevin

posted by Sinead Reekie at 11:48 am

Thursday, September 06, 2012
Seventeenth Sunday 29th July 2012
Fit for Purpose?

As I write this, the anticipation around the Opening Ceremony of this year’s Olympic Games is almost palpable. I heard on the radio this morning that those who attended the rehearsals were given a little pep talk by Danny Boyle, the maestro behind what is known as Isles of Wonder. Apparently he told them that they could take all the pictures and footage that they wanted and then asked them simply not to post any of it anywhere. And no-one has. They all seem to have a rather good grasp of the concept of the seal of the confessional.
On the subject of the games, religions are onboard. This morning’s Thought for the Day on the Today programme was given by the coordinator of the Olympic Interfaith Chaplaincy who claimed to “be there for people of all faiths and none.” Why anyone with no faith would need a chaplain seems a bit like an anarchist forming a political party. But I digress.
In our own case, the bishops of Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales are calling on Catholics to live a more balanced and environmentally sensitive lifestyle. Over the past few weeks we have made leaflets available which invite everyone to celebrate the incredible wonder and dignity of their body and, citing St. Paul, "to use your body for the glory of God."
This year's Day for Life highlights the importance of good health, the care of one’s body and the importance of exercise and sporting activities. The event is celebrated annually by the Catholic Church in Great Britain and also serves to highlight the work of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre and other life-related activities protecting life from conception until death supported by the Church.
Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark commented on the significance of the Games and the importance of a healthy lifestyle. "In the next few weeks we are going to see Olympians and Paralympians do the most amazing things. It will be incredible to watch world records being broken; gold medals being won and after years of dedicated training, personal sacrifice and daily discipline, the body performing feats that humanly we would think impossible," he said. "This year’s Day for Life reminds us all of the importance of taking care of our bodies at every stage and in every condition – it’s a call 'to use our bodies for the glory of God.'"
The message released for this year’s events focuses on the importance of the Games that help to celebrate the human body, "in all its wonder, especially when it faces the challenge of disability, physical limitation and pain. They [the athletes] testify that to achieve success in sport requires a harmony between the body, the spirit and the mind brought about through training and discipline.”
The initiative follows the call by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 when he encouraged Christians to take part in sporting activities as "a training ground of healthy competition and physical improvement, a school of formation in the human and spiritual values, a privileged means for personal growth and contact with society."
Also echoing that call was Paralympics medallist and professional athlete for Great Britain, Stef Reid. "Our bodies matter and they are good. That’s why it’s so important that we don’t neglect them,” she said in video message recorded for today.
So to paraphrase Lord Tebbitt, perhaps we all should get on our bikes…

Fr Kevin

posted by Sinead Reekie at 12:42 pm

Sixteenth Sunday 22nd July 2012
What I did in my Summer Holidays
(by Pope Benedict XVI, aged 85 and a quarter)
According to Vatican news sources, the Holy Father is spending his holiday in Castel Gandolfo, overlooking Lake Albano, reading a wide selection of books, listening to music, playing the piano and enjoying the natural environment. However, he is also being kept abreast of the situation in the world, continues to pray the Angelus in public on occasions and will be carrying out a few engagements – for example, he celebrated Mass in Frascati last weekend.
This weekend marks the beginning of the holiday season for many of the families in our parish. I sincerely hope that like Christ and His apostles you will have a chance to recharge your batteries but in the midst of our well-earned rest we should not allow ourselves to become immune to the plight of so many of our fellow human beings.
Were today not our patronal feast of St Mary Magdalen, the readings would have spoken much about the role of shepherds. It is easy to think of them only as priests and on that front things are looking good. The Archdiocese of Tuam (my father’s home diocese) had its first priestly ordinations in six years recently, the Archdiocese of Southwark has double the number of candidates for the priesthood it had ten years ago and within the next 12 months or so we will have eight new priests in Westminster. On a personal level, the little village where I go for my summer break has two aspirants for the priesthood – Ricardo and Daniello – who both exude a deep love for the God and the Church even at the tender age of 17!
Yet at the same time, a recent survey in Italy found that 10% of young people feel called to the priesthood or religious life but abandon the idea after only a few months. Indeed, 29% felt called soon after a religious experience such as a retreat or a visit to a monastery. The reason for the lack of persistence in the thought of vocation was laid at the door of their piers when seven out of ten stated that their friends had no desire to consecrate their lives to Christ in any way at all and therefore they could not countenance giving up their freedom of will or being lonely.
All of us in the Church have a responsibility for the lost as Pope Benedict said in a recent homily. He stated, “The pastor must be inspired by Christ's holy zeal: for him it is not a matter of indifference that so many people are living in the desert. And there are so many kinds of desert. There is the desert of poverty, the desert of hunger and thirst, the desert of abandonment, of loneliness of destroyed love.
"There is the desert of God's darkness, the emptiness of souls no longer aware of their dignity or the goal of human life. The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast. Therefore the earth's treasures no longer serve to build God's garden for all to live in, but they have been made to serve the powers of exploitation and destruction.
"The Church as a whole and all her Pastors, like Christ, must set out to lead people out of the desert, towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance."
So enjoy your holidays but keep your eyes and your heart open for those who are without a shepherd and are a little lost in life.

Fr Kevin

posted by Sinead Reekie at 12:38 pm